Wednesday, April 25, 2012

In a recent "Mamasource" email, the subject line was..."When you stop yelling, you stop yelling."  It has stuck with me since the day that I read it.  Now, I can not say that I haven't yelled since that day...3 kids under 7 years old, recently cooped up...I do my fair share...but I'm trying to remind myself that my yelling will simply teach my kidlets to yell.  I have been noticing a great amount of yelling lately, and am trying out different ways to curb it.  In my opinion, yelling is sometimes necessary, but should be reserved for those emergency situations where it has more of an effect and stops my kidlets in their tracks - for example, running towards the street and needing them to stop immediately.
So, I took off my "stressed-out mama" hat and put on my "first grade teacher" hat and started up some new behavior plans.  First, I tried to figure out when all of the yelling really occurs. Parent yelling in our home is during the morning rush to get to school on time as well as clean up time before bed.   Sibling yelling is usually when there is competition and when there is no direction during playtime.  

First things first...let's try to get minimize the parent yelling...

I made up morning charts to help the kids direct themselves in getting ready for school.  These charts have worked throughout the school year and I am improving them by giving them each a clip to move down once each task is completed. Visuals are KEY to happy kids.  I have also set an alarm to go off five minutes before the bus is at our door. When the alarm sounds, we drop everything else and get on our shoes, coats and backpacks.  This eliminates my need to countdown (or yell) what time it is every five minutes throughout the morning.  This is a work in progress, but has cut down on the stressful mornings. 
(K only goes to a half day in the afternoon, which is why she and J have different charts)
I made sure to make picture cues in pencil on the sides of the words as well.

The second behavior chart that has been implemented was an idea I got from my son's teacher. They use a clip chart that the kids are all very excited to participate in.

At the beginning of the school year, I had J & K help me make our very own and it stays on our refrigerator. If they reach the top, they get a small jewel (stickers that are found at craft stores) and when they reach 5 jewels on their clip, they will get a trip to the dollar store.  L has a clip now too- we didn't want to leave her out, although she never moves hers down. They use this when they follow (or don't follow) the rules in our home...I encourage having a conversation about what is acceptable behavior and what is not acceptable behavior while you make the chart together.  It helps them feel that they are part of the decision making and makes them eager to participate in using the chart.  

Sibling yelling will be my next post...time to go read, play, and just "be" with my kidlets. 

Enjoy your time with your kids!


Saturday, April 21, 2012

"Staycation" Vacation

Even with pink eye and sinus/ear infections, we managed to make the best of our "staycation" vacation!  Many thanks to Pinterest posts for innovative ideas to help keep my kidlets engaged.  One successful project involved making "cloud dough" ( It was such an easy thing to make with 8 cups of flour and 1 cup of baby oil, and it kept my 6, 4, and almost 2 year old happy for about 45 minutes (that's pretty impressive).  As a former teacher, I am surprised I have never heard of this one before! It is a wonderful sensory activity for preschoolers and young elementary students. I shared the above link on both my Pinterest board and Facebook wall.
I had the kids help me measure, pour, and mix (working in some math challenges never hurt anyone) the ingredients. We used our sand/water table to mix it all together in our hands.  The cloud dough is moldable, so sand castles are possible without water and it smells like babies- an added bonus!  
J, K, &L  decided on a tea party theme and used cups, saucers, a tea pot, and spoons to build sand castles and have a tea party.  You could also bring out cookie cutters, water play or sand toys, etc, but I wanted to have enough room for all their little hands to be engaged.
*A few side notes about the "cloud dough" - watch kiddos carefully since the dough is not edible. Also, make sure you play in an area that isn't slippery.  The baby oil makes the floors, and kidlet feet, slippery if it spills on the floor.  We used our porch, but I would recommend outside, if possible.