Let’s Have a Ball!

The last few months we’ve been talking all about simple activity ideas, using our favorite things, books, blocks, and balls. Today we’re going to wrap up these simple activities by focusing on balls!

Balls have dynamics all their own:  they bounce, roll when pushed, soar when thrown, move unassisted down a ramp and come to a complete stop.  Because of this the dynamics of moving balls can help your child learn principles of physics and cause and effect.

Here’s some fun activities to try at home:

Quite the Catch: Using a variety of balls, try the following activities:

Drop the ball, let it bounce and then catch it.

Throw the ball into the air and catch it.

See how high you can throw the ball and still catch it.

Throw the ball into the air and see how many times you can clap your hands before you catch it.

Throw the ball against the wall and catch it.

Throw the ball back and forth with a friend.

Home Bowling: Using empty water or soda bottles, set up a small group of at least five bottles. Standing a few feet away, have your child roll a ball to the bottles and see how many he can know down. Make it a game with other people!

Balls in the Air: Hold the corners of a small blanket with your child to create a parachute. Place balls on the blanket and throw them up, trying to catch them on the blanket. Try different sized balls to add variation.

The Rhyming Ball Game: First have everyone sit in a circle. Hold a ball and say a word then roll it to the next person. The person who receives the ball then says a word that rhymes with your word. See how many words the circle can come up with, before picking a new word and starting again.

When you’re at Discovery Gateway next, be sure to have a ball in the Beehive exhibit in the Garden, the Magnet Wall in the STEAM Studio, the New Move It exhibit, and more!

Blocks–Building More Than You Realize!

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Picture this–You’ve just bought your child a great new toy. It’s fun, it’s colorful, and it’s supposed to be great for their development! You are so excited to pull it out and start the fun! But the next thing you know your child is playing with the empty box it came in and having the time of his life. Does this experience sound familiar?

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this type of story from parents! Children are curious beings and can make toys out of just about anything. Because of this some of our favorite toys to suggest to parents are a simple set of wooden blocks.

While playing with blocks, children learn all about counting, equality, addition, subtraction, planning, patterns, volume, classification, area and measurement. When parents engage with their child in block play it also provides teaching moments for social skills, language and exploration.

Check out these activity ideas to add some variety to your family’s block play:

  • Make your own blocks: Using standard size boxes (milk cartons, capri sun, etc.) you can make blocks by covering them with sturdy wrapping paper or contact paper. Allow your child to guide the activity and discuss the sizes as you create the blocks.
  • Create your home: Have your child look at the neighborhood and your home. Help them build a structure like your home. Make sure you take pictures and show off your child’s work whenever friends or family are around.
  • Knock ’Em Down: Margarine tubs are best for this. Children stack them up, then with flourish, knock them down. Of course, everyone applauds. Then you do it all over again. Kids love it!
  • Ramp It: Create a variety of ramps with blocks. Roll a small ball down the ramps. Which incline makes the ball roll slower? Faster?
  • Making Patterns: Provide blocks of different shapes or colors. Create a pattern for children to repeat, such as square, rectangle, square, rectangle or red, blue, red, blue. Ask children to create new patterns for you to repeat.
  • Visit Discovery Gateway’s Block Party Exhibit: Children can build amazing structures from floor to ceiling with the giant blue blocks, connecting parts into the gallery walls, and transforming the space with power of their imaginations.
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Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Lily Edmondson plays in the new Imagination Playground Block Party at Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum in Salt Lake City, Thursday October 1, 2015.

Help Me Grow Utah has hundreds of age appropriate activity ideas for parents at no cost! You can learn more by calling 801-691-5322 or visiting helpmegrowutah.org

Kali Iverson—Community Liaison

Celebrate the Week of the Young Child!

Childhood is a celebration every day, but did you know that once a year we actually have a whole week dedicated to it? April 10 – 16 has been declared by the National Association for the Education of Young Children as the Week of the Young Child. During this week especially parents and families can make a special effort to celebrate the youngsters that surround us!

Here are a few ideas from the National Association for the Education of Young Children to make the most of this special week!

Music Monday!

Through music, children develop math, language, and literacy skills – All while having fun and being active! Find the beat to connect music, movement, and math. Practice clapping, drumming, or stomping to the beat of the music while counting.

Taco Tuesday 

Cooking together connects math with literacy skills, science, and more. Measure your ingredients while making your tacos! Ask children if they’d like the same or different amounts of each ingredient.

Work Together Wednesday 

When children build together they explore math and science concepts and develop their social and early literacy skills. Practice organizing blocks by size! Try building a block tower with large blocks on the bottom and little blocks on top!

Artsy Thursday

Children develop creativity, social skills and fine motor skills with open-ended art projects where they can make choices, use their imaginations, and create with their hands. Bring art outdoors! Offer dark and light paper, chalk and pastels, and suggest children create their own versions of the day and night sky!

Family Friday

Engaging and celebrating families is at the heart of supporting our youngest learners. Have a Family Friday breakfast, where you and your children can prepare and share breakfast treats while sharing memories!

Source: https://www.naeyc.org/woyc

To celebrate the Week of the Young Child Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum, Help Me Grow Utah, and other community partners are having an April Baby Shower! Bring your youngest learners and enjoy fun and interactive party activities including a ball pit, sensory wall and crawl, hand-print art, and giant bubbles! Join us at Discovery Gateway April 14, from 12pm to 4pm. Free admission for children ages 0-36 months.

2016: Collect Moments this Year

Early Childhood Connections by Help Me Grow Utah by Kali Iverson—Community Liaison

As we all know the start of the New Year generally means new goals, new experiences, and a new sense of determination. For me and my family, it’s also a time to reflect on the past year and dream big for the year to come. We love to reminisce about the happy times, talk about how much we’ve grown because of the hard times, and smile at all the times that brought laughter to our lives.

We do a lot of fun and memorable things as a family, but sometimes they can get lost in the bustle of everyday life if we don’t record them. One of my personal goals this year is to record and focus on the good experiences I’ll have throughout the year.

I decided to create a memory jar to collect memories throughout the year. One of the reasons I chose this method is because it’s something my family and I can easily do together and it’s as easy as writing just a few sentences (great for all of us non-journal writers out there)! I found the instructions for the jar we made here

On our slips of paper, we decided we wanted to record things like

  • Memories that make us smile or laugh
  • Fun things we did as a family
  • Experiences that we learn from
  • Life lessons that others teach us
  • Things that we accomplish, big or small

Doing something like this is a great way to get your children involved in keeping the history of your family. Make sure you help them record things that are important to them. I’m sure they will begin to love putting memories into the jar as much as they will love reading them at the end of the year!

Have any of you tried a memory jar before or something similar? How did it work for your family? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Early Childhood Connections by Help Me Grow Utah: Time & Love

A friend recently asked me, “Tell me the most important thing I need to know about raising children in the next 15 seconds.” The question caught me off guard and I ended up responding with this, “Well, your child will start learning the moment they are born and the best way they learn is through play. Oh and you can never spoil your child with too much love!” My friend then responded, “Hmmm, time and love, I can do that!” Our conversation soon turned to other things and we carried on our merry way, but since then I have thought often of his question.

I am a firm believer that one of the most important gifts you can give your child truly is your time and your unconditional love. In the long run those two things will make more difference than anything else, and it’s those things that your child will remember.

With the holiday season upon us, I think we can all agree that no matter what you celebrate there is a definite feeling of love and family togetherness in the air. As a community we tend to be more kind, more patient, and have more feelings of gratitude for the people around us.

This time of year provides us with a chance to let those pleasant feelings spill into our family relationships. Take time this month to spend quality time with each of your family members, especially your children! Don’t hesitate to tell and show those around you that you love them. These really are some of the best gifts and you can give them all year long.

Happy Holidays!

Kali Iverson—Community Liaison

Early Childhood Connections by Help Me Grow Utah: Checking in on Development

Early childhood is a critical time in your child’s development. There are a lot of exciting things happening from birth to age 5! The skills your child builds during those years form the foundation they will build on for the rest of their life. Nearly every aspect of your child’s adult life begins in those early years, so it’s important to give them a great start! The World Health Organization has said “The early child period is considered to be the most important developmental phase throughout the lifespan…What happens to the child in the early years is critical for the child’s developmental trajectory and lifecourse.”

As a parent you are your child’s nurturer and you will guide them through these exciting developmental times. It’s easiest to do this when you feel you have all the tools you need, one of these tools is knowing what milestones to expect as your child develops.

I want to share with you a simple tool that you can use right now to check in on your child’s development, and the best part is it’s as easy as playing with your child. Help Me Grow Utah offers parents access to a developmental screening for children 0-5, at no cost. This is a simple questionnaire that you can fill out to see how your child is doing across all areas of development! You can use this screening to highlight your child’s strengths, discover new activities they are ready for, and to see what skills they may need practice with. After submitting the screening Help Me Grow will talk over the results with you and provide age appropriate activities to continue your child’s progression. Click here to fill out a developmental screening today! http://bit.ly/HelpMeGrowASQ

Kali Iverson—Community Liaison

Early Childhood Connections by Help Me Grow Utah: Dealing with Fear

Unfortunately our world today is full of tragic and scary events. I remember many years ago when Elizabeth Smart’s kidnapping took place my little brother, then 5 years old, was so affected by it he slept in my parents bed for a solid year. I also remember watching The Mummy at a friend’s home when I was in elementary school and being so freaked out by the flesh eating beetles I had to sleep in long sleeves, long pants, and socks for the next few months. In both of these instances our parents played a crucial role in helping us work through our fears. Whether it’s a big traumatic event playing out in the media or a stressor found closer to home, children don’t react the same way as adults do and often need help making sense of the situation.

The Help Me Grow team recently did a blogpost on this subject, check out this list of tips we complied to help parents help their children.

Tips for discussing a tragic event with your child

  • Be the one to explain the event to your child when possible, so that they don’t overhear it from media or other children. Explain the event as briefly and accurately as possible, without including graphic details or giving more information than your child needs or asks for.
  • Be honest and tell them the truth about what happened.
  • Encourage them to express their feelings and fears – Some will be afraid for their own safety even if the tragic event didn’t happen in their own state.
  • Let them know that you’ll do everything you can to keep them and your loved ones safe.
  • Don’t project your own fears onto your children.

Tips for helping them cope with a stressor

  • Keep a normal routine.
  • Allow children to use pretend play to cope.
  • Correct inaccurate conclusions that they have made based off the traumatic event.
  • Limit media exposure.
  • Help your child come up with a “coping toolkit” of activities and strategies they can use when they become anxious.

For more tips on this subject and others contact Help Me Grow here or call 801-691-5322.

Kali Iverson—Community Liaison