Kid Activities
1000's of Ideas for Childcare Professionals & Teachers!

Connecting with our Kids!

October 22, 2011 14:01 by Barbara Shelby




We must communicate to our children every day that they are loved, says Sandra Magsamen, an expert on living your life with heart. But, sometimes words alone are not enough to express what we most want to say. Here are some ways Sandra says you can make lasting bonds with your children that will last a lifetime.


  •Hug! Never stop hugging your child. A hug connects physically and emotionally like nothing else.
  •Read lots of books to your children. Put time aside each day to look at, read and share stories. You can read the same ones over and over again.


2. DANCE, sway and move as you hold your child and provide the comfort and connection that gentle rocking and movement brings. Get down on the floor and play, make puzzles, finger paint, roll around and laugh together. And tell them you love them, that they are special, that they are unique and that they are a gift

Find your song and sing it. Don't worry if you don't have the pipes of Aretha, just sing and I promise your child will love it. Find "your song," the song you love to sing to your child. It will soothe them "and you"on those days where everything seems to be going wrong.


4. WRITE YOUR CHILD A LETTER soon after they are born. (Or start it now!) Fill it with your thoughts, hopes, dreams and the experience of bringing a new life into the world. Place your note in an envelope and inscribe, "On the day you were born" on it, and tuck it in a journaling-type book.



5. EACH YEAR on your child's birthday write

another letter to him/her--fill it with the memories, milestones, dreams, events, ideas and the life that you and your family have created throughout the year. When your child grows up and has a place of his or her own, present the book and continue to send the letters on your child's birthday. You will have written a book and told the story of two very special people: you and your child.


6. IN SOAP OR LIPSTICK, write, "You're the best!" or "Have a great day!" on the bathroom mirror where your child will see it when brushing his or her teeth. And at breakfast, try spelling out, "I love you" with individual letters from alphabet cereal. Of course, you will have to pick through the box to find eight letters, but the message will then have your personal touch. Surprise your son with his favorite cookies in his lunch box-the sugary ones that he regularly begs for in the grocery aisle, but rarely receives. 

Or reach for a banana, like my friend did to keep connected to her boys. "During elementary school, I'd pack their lunches every day and I'd always put a banana in each bag. One day I started writing little notes-jokes and riddles on the banana peel with a permanent pen. The boys loved it and looked forward to their lunchtime surprise. I loved it, too, knowing that as I was thinking about them at lunchtime, they would be thinking of me. Of course, by middle school, they asked me to stop sending notes on their bananas. They were 'too old.' The boys really did get a kick out of it!"

If bananas aren't your thing, simply write a note, a riddle or cut a comic that your child loves from the newspaper. Your child will enjoy getting that extra-special something from you and all his or her classmates will be waiting each day to see what's next.


  • Make Friday nights game night-relax together with pizza, some healthy snacks and competition. Invite your children's best friends to join you.
  • Make a family history book using favorite words, photos and souvenirs.
   • I love a good game of black out: Turn off every light in the house (including night-lights and VCR lights) and play hide-and-seek. Prepare to have a blast tripping all over each other and even getting spooked a time or two.
   • Plant a garden with butterfly bushes and enjoy the visits of hundreds of butterflies.

    • Create a revolving art gallery of your kid's work in your home. Show them you think their art is a masterpiece. String wire between two hooks and hang the art with clothespins

   • Turn off the TV and put on your own plays and musicals, and share stories.
   • Turn on the soothing sounds of jazz and watch your family relax. Make a CD of your family's favorite tunes to be played on long car rides or rainy Sunday afternoons.
   • Create new everyday rituals: warm vanilla milk, a story or a kiss on the forehead before bedtime-special touches that will help your child drift off to a peaceful sleep.
   • Plant a garden together, and then watch as the seeds grow.
   • Make a video of your grandparents. Interview them about their lives and ask the funny questions that will brighten their faces and make them laugh. This project will become a cherished family heirloom. To read the other ideas visit


Ways to Stay Connected with Older Kids...

   • Visit a make-your-own-pottery place and create a plate for each person in your family, or several pieces to celebrate a special event.

   • Bake together. Make ice cream. Create an Italian feast of fresh pasta, bread and tiramisu, with a famous aria playing in the background.

   • Bring armloads of comforters, pillows and blankets in front of the largest TV in the house and have movie night, all cozy together.

   • Pick your own strawberries and make jam. Enjoy life. It's delicious.

   • Build a campfire in the backyard (in a grill or fire pit), and roast hot dogs on sticks and make s'mores with chocolate bars, marshmallows and graham crackers. Sit around, tell stories and enjoy the night air and the flames as they warm your fingers and toes.

   • Go miniature golfing together. Set up teams and prepare to laugh as children and adults alike compete for the lowest score. Give prizes to the winners, both old and young.

   • Get tickets for your local professional, minor league or college baseball game. Spend an afternoon in the sun eating chocolate malts, peanuts and singing during the seventh-inning stretch. (If you get there early, you may be able to catch fly balls from batting practice.) Consider tailgating, and create and serve a feast from the trunk of your car.

   • Go ice skating or to a roller rink and dance to the music booming over the loudspeakers.

   • Check out the local public gardens in your area, perhaps one that serves Chinese tea or has acres of roses.

   • Journey down to your local theater and support your neighborhood thespians as they perform in A Midsummer Night's Dream or Annie Get Your Gun.

   • Has the fair come to town? Carnivals and fairgrounds are a good way to change your routine and celebrate your country roots.


 • Bust out all of the board games you can find. Enjoy some healthy competition as you play. Fill bowls with popcorn, chips, nuts and chocolates for the competitors.

   • Sing at home in Karaoke style. Crank up the tunes and laugh as everyone takes a turn singing their favorite song.



Things to do BEFORE You're TEN!!!

1. Roll on your side down a grassy bank
2. Make a mud pie
3. Make your own play dough mixture
4. Read under the bed-covers with a flashlight
5. Make home-made potpourri
6. Grow flowers or herbs on a windowsill
7. Make some bird feeders
8. Build a sandcastle
9. Climb a tree
10. Make a tent in the living room
11. Make a painting using your hands and feet
12. Organize your own teddy bears' picnic
13. Have your face painted
14. Play with a friend in the sand
15. Make some bread
16. Make snow angels
17. Create a clay sculpture
18. Take part in a scavenger hunt
19. Camp out in the yard
20. Bake a cake
21. Feed a farm animal
22. Pick some strawberries and apples
23. Recognize five different bird species
24. Find some worms
25. Ride a bike through a muddy puddle
26. Make and fly a kite
27. Plant a tree
28. Build a nest out of grass and twigs
29. Find five different leaves in the park
30. Grow vegetables
31. Make breakfast in bed for your parents


Reading to School Age Children

October 20, 2011 08:32 by Barbara Shelby

Your child has started school, but he still needs you to read to him at home. Your child will do better in school, and you'll enjoy the time spent together. Here are helpful tips for reading to and with young children in school, kindergarten through third grade:
• Keep reading to your child even when he can read. Read books that are too difficult or long for him to read alone.

• Try reading books with chapters and talk about what is happening in the story. Encourage your child to make predictions about what will happen next, and connect characters or events to those in other books and stories.

• Talk with your child about reading preferences that are beginning to develop. Ask whether she likes adventure stories, mysteries, science fiction, animal stories, or stories about other children. Encourage her to explain the reasons for preferences.

• Talk with your child about favorite authors and help him find additional books by those authors.

• Take turns reading a story with your child. Don't interrupt to correct mistakes that do not change the meaning.

• Talk about the meaning of new words and ideas introduced in books. Help your child think of examples of new concepts.


• Talk with your child about stories using the notions of the beginning, middle, and end of the story to organize thinking and discussion.

• Ask your child to tell why a character might have taken a specific action. Ask for information from the story to support her answer.

• Enjoy yourself and have fun. The most important thing you can do to help your child become a successful reader is communicate that reading is valuable and enjoyable.


It is critical that your child keeps reading and being read to at this age. Young readers need to become practiced at reading, and the only way to get good at it -- is to practice!

Helpful tips for reading to and with children in grades four through six:
• Take turns reading a book with your child.
• Ask your child to compare a book to another familiar book. How are the characters alike or different? Do the stories take place in similar settings? How are the illustrations the same or different?
• ASK:
Ask what part of the story or book your child liked best and why.
Ask if your child liked the ending of the story. Why or why not?
Ask your child what type of mood the story or chapter in a book creates.
Ask how the author creates the mood. For example, does she use certain words, events, or settings that create a particular feeling? If your child has read more than one book by the same author, ask how the books are similar or different.


Categories: XLNT FYI: For Parents
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Child Development Articles, Research & News

August 31, 2011 04:17 by Barbara Shelby

A basic key in working with children--is the knowledge of child development! This category will provide information as timely topics arise-portions of  which would be appropriate to post at your information center or newletter.




  • Want Love, affection, and acceptance
  • Take themselves seriously 
  • Alternately aggressive and sympathetic
  • Fear imaginary creatures 
  • Fear being alone--girls show more fear than boys at the same age

   • Show loyalty to peers
  • Concerned over group recognition and approval, becoming more conscious of self
  • Find satisfaction in participation in community activities
  • Embarrassed to show affection
  • Assume a feeling of martyrdom with siblings
  • Enjoy making family plans
  • Influenced by praise 
  • Need to know they are of value to group


  • Can be moody, restless, and often fantasize
  • Less responsible due to fear of failure
  • Spend time alone
  • Interested in own bodies and personality
  • Devalue parents and turn to others
  • Can feel persecuted



  • Short attention span
  • Interested in fantasy and dramatic play
  • Enjoy reading independently
  • Not particularly interested in team games
  • Like to play house


  • Vivid imaginations
  • Concerned with pets and collect everything
  • Want to learn more skills and do things for themselves
  • Need to have varied activites to fit their individual interests, otherwise quickly bored
  • Concerned about what other people think; Language more sophisticated 
  • Become interested in information, the world, and it's people.

LEARNING: 12-15 

  • Some youth don't begin things soon enough
  • Easily distracted 
  • Ignore adult help in planning unless tactfully given
  • Resent adult interference in activities
  • Less energy due to rapid growth
  • Interpret criticism from adults as personal
  • Like to go places



  • Still into make believe, fantasy, and magical thinking.
  • Generally don't regard other children as rivals.
  • Easily frustrated when unable to do things as well as they would like.
  • Need to feel loved and secure when competing.

Play loosely structured games. Be flexible about rules. Keep the focus on fun!



   • Begin to understand and play by the rules.
  • Compare themselves to friends to learn what is expected, but not to determine who is better.
  • Relate loss to self-esteem, especially if parents stress winning.
  • Need to feel secure when competing.

SUGGESTIONS FOR CAREGIVERS:  Should encourage youth to compete in areas in which they are interested. Stress skill development rather than winning. Help children set and meet personal goals. Discourage tantrums, cheating, and unethical behavior

COMPETITION: 9-10 years old

   • Children have a growing awareness of competition in the environment.
   • A better understanding of ethics and rules of competition.
   • Compare selves to others and formulate personal judgments.
   • Need to focus on achieving small personal goals one at a time, learn how to become a team player, and cope with disappointment and defeat
   • Need to be held accountable in following rules and good sportsmanship.


   • Should encourage youth to compete in areas in which they are interested. 
   • Stress skill development rather than winning.    
   • Help children set and meet personal goals.   
   • Discourage tantrums, cheating, and unethical behavior


Ages 2 to 7

Certain games work especially well at meeting common needs for fun at different developmental stages. For example, our very young children live in the moment and moods can change instantly from extreme joy to demanding anger. When faced with children’s lack of coping skills we can respond in a manner to match their mood---or redirect and change their focus. With young children look for games that show a fun way of looking at life and encourage cooperation


Ages 8 to 12...
During the middle years peer pressure begins to influence children’s spirits. The best games to help establish a high self-esteem is to play games that stay in touch with their own feelings. Games that explore ways of dealing with outside influences and encourage compassion for others—are also desirable.


Ages 13 to 18

Young teenagers have a strong sense of self—even though it’s sometimes riddled with insecurity and doubt. Encourage games that are designed to increase their trust in themselves and in their own inner wisdom. Games that enhance a sense of the young teenager’s history and sense of kindness are also good.
Adapted from Spirit Games by Barbara Sher
John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2002

 2/22/08 -ExchangeEveryDay







...Howard Chudacoff, a cultural historian at Brown University, discussed how play has changed. Up until recently children played outdoors, unsupervised engaged in freewheeling and imaginative play. However, today, children's play is more scripted by their toys, more directed by the media, and more protected by anxious parents. In the NPR interview, Chudacoff talked about how these changes in how children play also results in changes in their cognitive and emotional development...

"It turns out that all that time spent playing make-believe actually helped children develop a critical cognitive skill called executive function. Executive function has a number of different elements, but a central one is the ability to self-regulate. Kids with good self-regulation are able to control their emotions and behavior, resist impulses, and exert self-control and discipline.

"We know that children's capacity for self-regulation has diminished. A recent study replicated a study of self-regulation first done in the late 1940s, in which psychological researchers asked kids ages 3, 5, and 7 to do a number of exercises. One of those exercises included standing perfectly still without moving. The 3-year-olds couldn't stand still at all, the 5-year-olds could do it for about three minutes, and the 7-year-olds could stand pretty much as long as the researchers asked. In 2001, researchers repeated this experiment. But, psychologist Elena Bodrova at the National Institute for Early Education Research says, the results were very different.

Today's 5-year-olds were acting at the level of 3-year-olds 60 years ago, and today's 7-year-olds were barely approaching the level of a 5-year-old 60 years ago,' Bodrova explains. 'So the results were very sad.'

"Sad because self-regulation is incredibly important. Poor executive function is associated with high dropout rates, drug use, and crime. In fact, good executive function is a better predictor of success in school than a child's IQ. Children who are able to manage their feelings and pay attention are better able to learn. As executive function researcher Laura Berk explains, 'Self-regulation predicts effective development in virtually every domain.'"

Read or listen to the entire NPR segment, "Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills," (This would be a good one for your "Parents' Center". )



From ExchangeEveryDay
July 21, 2008

The 30th Anniversary issue of Exchange (March 2008) included a Beginnings Workshop section on "School Readiness" with articles by Nancy Carlsson-Paige, David Elkind, Lilian Katz, and Marjorie Kostelnik. In this section, David Elkind observed...


"The phrase 'school readiness' was, until recently, most often used in connection with a child's preparedness to meet the demands of a first grade classroom. With the contemporary push down of the curriculum, readiness is now taken to mean the child's preparedness to meet the demands of kindergarten. Whether in regard to first grade or kindergarten, this way of thinking assumes that school readiness resides entirely in the child's head. It also assumes that readiness is primarily academic, namely, knowing one's letters and numbers. In addition, readiness is often taken to mean that a child has acquired his or her knowledge of numbers and letters through one or another form of academic instruction. Finally, another interpretation of readiness is that it is a matter of maturation and is related to age. While all of these ideas about readiness are understandable, they happen to be incorrect. They are a misunderstanding as to what readiness is all about....

"Readiness DOES NOT reside in the child's head. Likewise, the skills a child needs to succeed in most kindergartens are not knowing numbers and letters, but rather being able to communicate, follow instructions, and work cooperatively with other children. These skills seem to be best acquired in preschools that are developmentally and play oriented. Finally, while maturation plays a role in the attainment of schooling skills, the child's experience is also an important contributor.

A true assessment of school readiness, therefore, must always take account of the child's level of intellectual and social/emotional development, his or her experiential background, and the classroom expectations the child will encounter." 






Suzanne Gellens, in her book, Activities that Build the Young Child's Brain (Early Childhood Association of Florida), lists the ideas that early childhood professionals have known for years and are now confirmed by recent brain research:

    • Every situation is a learning experience

   • Children need to be nurtured and have physical contact with other people

   • Children learn through their interactions with people and the environment

   • Play is an essential component to learning

   • Hands-on activities result in life-long learned skills

   • When a child has a choice in selecting its own activities, involvement is increased

   • All children's senses need to be stimulated in an enriched atmosphere

   • Activities presented to children should match their stage of development and their interest level

   • There should be a balance between activity and rest; quiet learning and active learning

   • Children need a loving, stress-free environment for optimal learning to occur. From ExchangeEeveryDay:3/12/2004



Infants as young as 4 months who live in bilingual environments can distinguish between two languages, monitoring lip and facial movements.  Babies also show a strong preference for the language their mother spoke during pregnancy.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, bilingual children are not delayed in language acquisition.  In fact, words learned before age 5 have an added emotional kick, regardless of how many languages are learned.  Because the child's brain is developing so quickly, across so many regions, the words learned during this critical period carry thick visual and emotional associations....

Bilingualism enhances attention and cognitive control in kids and adults. Also bilinguals are better at learning additional languages, even if those languages bear little resemblance to the ones they already know.
Source: Psychology Today (October 2010;




FOUR TO SIX AGE bracket:
Buy books that combine bright, interesting pictures with a story line that keeps children interested. Popular books for young children include books with stories about families and day-to- day events. This is because children enjoy associating what they read with their own lives.

They can't wait to learn how to read. They still enjoy having someone read to them, but they will be ready to try out their own skills. Some stories they usually like are about adventures, mysteries, and fantasy.

Reading well on their own want to read books that are longer and have a subject matter that keeps them entertained for long periods of time. The Harry Potter books are of course some of the most requested books in the children's literature market today.

Other themes of books that older children will appreciate are books where the protagonist solves a problem through the mastery of personal power. These types of books appeal to older children since it gives them a feeling of self control and personal growth. Of course, youth may not think of what they read in such a way, but they will still be reaping the benefits of positive and well written literature.

Also check out Tips in Reading to/with your child...




Studies show that children who play with unit blocks in early childhood do better in algebra in middle school. But it’s important to note that the outcome of playing in the block area is NOT demonstrated until middle school! Math standards during the early years will automatically focus on low level, rote skills: memorization, repetition,  and adult views of math knowledge. What makes this most destructive is that young children are operating within Piaget’s preoperational stage, which means they cannot think logically. Thus, bureaucrats creating standards and assessment often include things that children this age simply cannot even do....

"Math knowledge and dispositions are not created in a vacuum. Math is about manipulating things: objects, shapes, concepts, and relationships; reproducing and documenting the world; and constructing, building, and estimating....Thus, we must provide a myriad of opportunities for young children to have direct, concrete experiences in the real world.

What is the value of discussing the speed of light if you don’t understand light? Seeing snow accumulate day after day is a real way to understanding increase in quantity. Carrying a large boulder teaches about mass; swinging on a rope about force, angles, and speed. Field trips, extensive classroom m projects, exploration in nature, extensive use of the playground, observing the weather, etc., must all be central to our math curricula."

These exerpts are from the article: "Math in Early Childhood," by Francis Wardle (



HOW DO YOU KNOW IF CHILDREN ARE GETTING THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF FOODS? -- the government's food guidance system suggested servings are based on age, gender, and activity level. The examples below illustrate how school-age children's needs differ.

A 6-year-old, active girl every day needs:

• 5 ounces from grain group
• 2 cups from vegetable group
• 1 1/2 cups from fruit group
• 3 cups from milk group
• 5 ounces from meat and beans group
• 5 teaspoons oils.

An 11-year-old, active boy needs this every day:

• 7 ounces from grain group
• 3 cups from vegetable group
• 2 cups from fruit group
• 3 cups from milk group
• 6 ounces from meat and beans group
• 6 teaspoons oils.



To build a strong, healthy skeleton that will last a lifetime, kids should be sure to "bone up" on calcium. From ages 11-24, children have the opportunity to maximize their bone density, filling their bones to "peak capacity." The best sources of calcium are lowfat dairy products like yogurt, nonfat/1% milk and lowfat cheese, calcium-fortified soy milk and tofu, calcium-fortified orange juice, sardines or salmon with bones and broccoli.


AGE               Recommended Calcium (milligrams) 
1-3 Years       500
4-8 Years       800
9-18 Years     1300
19-50 Years    1000

51+ Years      1200  



Children learn important nutrition concepts through daily experiences involving food. Shopping for food, comparing labels, taste testing new foods, cooking, creating simple recipes and analyzing food ads are just a few of the many ways kids can begin to discover the wonderful world of food!



 In Debra Viadero's article "Peer Tutoring's Potential to Boost IQ Intrigues Educators" in the October 3, 2007 issue of Education Week, she writes that "over 30 years' worth of studies of elementary-level peer-tutoring programs suggests that---
both the tutor and the tutee learn better when they teach each other than they do in regular teacher-led classrooms."


Another study indicated that peer teaching activities result in nonacademic benefits such as students staying longer on task, exhibiting improved social skills and expressing more motivation than children in teacher-directed classrooms.
From schoolage note of the day Dec. 11, 2007



April 10,2008-
Printed in ExchangeEveryDay 

With schools in the United States CUTTING BACK ON PHYSICAL EDUCATION in order to meet the goals of "No Child Left Behind", studies are starting to show that this is A MOVE IN THE WRONG DIRECTION. For example, a study involving 163 overweight children in Augusta, Georgia, reported in Education Week (February 13, 2008;  supports the cognitive benefits of exercise:

"... a cross-disciplinary research team randomly assigned children to one of three groups. One group received 20 minutes of physical activity every day after school. Another group got a 40-minute daily workout, and a third group got no special exercise sessions.

"After 14 weeks, the children who made the greatest improvement as measured by a standardized academic test and a test that measured their level of executive function 'thinking processes that involve planning, organizing, abstract thought, or self-control' were those who spent 40 minutes a day playing tag and taking part in other active games designed by the researchers. The cognitive and academic gains for the 20-minute-a-day group were half as large." 




According to the TRUCE
(Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children's Entertainment) website(, excessive TV watching can have a negative impact on both the academic performance and health of children.


Children who watch a lot of television and movies spend less time reading, have shorter attention spans, and their vocabulary is not as highly developed. They are also more overweight since they tend to snack obsessively while watching television. They see food in ads and programs that promote unhealthy eating choices, and they tend to exercise less." TRUCE recommends encouraging families to limit the amount of television that children watch (to 1 hour per day for example).
As alternatives to television:
Visit the library and attend library sponsored activities; Go for walks; Read books and tell stories together; Have a family game night; Do puzzles; Make sure TV snacks are healthy; Eat together as a family without TV; Resist junk food advertised on television.



Cheering on your child...(As in promoting good sportsmanship)
Some wonderful ways to connect with our kids!     Stamp Out Sibling Rivalry     Tips in Reading to/with your child 

For a great variety of other tip pages check out the Category List on the left hand side of each page...look under articles!