Search This Blog

Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Culture Quilt; Same and Different 2

My Culture
(For small families, make a placemat of your heritage and laminate)
Have a conversation about the different colors of peoples skin, eye color, types of noses, color of hair, and heights within different cultures.  Discuss if the children look like their parents or not, and why.  Remind everyone that we are unique because of our differences, but we are the same as a people living in the same country.  We are people and all people have feelings; we feel happy, excited, sad and angry...  Talk about the different nationalities of people living in America; the heritage of children in your family or group.

Activity: Flag Quilt 
Construction paper 7-in by 7-in white squares, 8-in by 8-in  solid or like colored squares, and copies of flags.  A red background looks terrific.  We used a purplish background since we already had enough on hand.

This is a wonderful activity.  The quilt is made with the flag of America, and the flags of the  variety of different heritages living together.  If this is a family project you will obviously know the heritage of your children.  If this is a group of friends, class, or troop project, send home a letter to the parents inquiring about the children's heritage, for the upcoming quilt project.

Print out enough American flags off of the Internet, that every child can choose a flag or flags; we chose 4 different varieties of American flags.  Print out stars for fill in use.  Print out flags of the various countries of the children's heritages.  If the children are older, they can find and print out their own.  Give each child one white square of construction paper and have them glue on an American flag to represent where we live, and the flag or flags of their heritage.  Glue each white square centered onto the larger colored square.  Either hole punch and tie quilt squares together, or tape the back side of the quilt together.  The flag above was taped together.

Books you may be interested to include in this project.

Children Just Like Me: Celebrations, by Anabel Kindersley and Barnabas Kindersley
Children Just Like Me: A Unique Celebration of Children Around the World, by Anabel Kindersley and Barnabas Kindersley

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Wrinkled Heart, Younger; Empty Bucket; Bully 2

At some point, most all children have endured being teased.  Teasing can be a momentary situation.  Unfortunately for other children, teasing is an on going problem and very painful to go through.  Children who are more vulnerable to teasing are singled out.  One of the  best ways to handle teasing is to absolutely ignore it.  However if this does not work, or the child is teased frequently, they need to confide in their parent or teacher.  Scroll down for story recommendation to go along with the activity.

Wrinkled Heart; Younger
(Cut out a large paper heart)
Show the heart to your children and explain:
Everyone starts out with a whole heart.  But, sometime people say things that hurt other peoples feelings, hurt the way they feel inside.   

(Fold the heart any which way after each put down; wrinkle the heart.  Add more comments, if needed).
Your hair looks funny. 
Why do you wear weird clothes?
Yuck, why do you eat that?
You wear goofy glasses Four Eyes.
I don’t like you.
You can’t play with us.
Hey freak the geek

(Show the wrinkled folded heart and explain).
This is how someone’s heart feels when their feelings keep getting hurt.

Have the children think of compliments to say, and with each positive comment unfold a piece of the heart.  After the heart is unfolded explain: This heart feels better from all of the wonderful compliments, but the wrinkles inside will stay forever on the heart.  So, be careful what you say to others so that their heart will not get wrinkled.

Empty Bucket; Older
(Need a bucket and water picture; best done over a sink or outside)
Fill a bucket with water.  Tell the children that the water in the bucket is like someone’s self esteem, or how they feel about themselves.  Every time someone puts them down, or says something that is not kind, it’s like spilling a little water out of their bucket. 
Ask the children ways that people put others down or what hurtful comments might be said.  Each time you call on someone and they give an answer, spill water out of the bucket.  Continue until the water is gone.  Show the empty bucket and explain the following.
If this is how someone feels inside themself, they would feel hurt and feel emptiness;  (Pause for a moment).  When we say kind words and give compliments, it helps a person to feel better and helps fill their self worth up inside.
Have children give compliments, and with each compliment add water to the bucket from the water pitcher.
Tell the children that saying kind words fills a person’s self worth up and it is how we should treat each other.  But remember, a persons inside feelings do not forget when their bucket was empty, (dump the water out).

The Juice Box Bully, by Bob Sornson & Maria Dismondy; Younger
The story is about a new student named Pete, who is using bullying behavior the first day of school.  The other students view this and react with kindness and assertiveness.  The children help Pete to make, "The Promise," which is what the kids make, to stop bullying.

Making Sarah Cry; Chicken Soup for the Soul, by Cheryl Costello-Forshey; Older  Chicken Soup for the Soul
(Story can be found at
The poem reads more like a story, and starts out with Sarah being bullied.  In the end it demonstrates ways to communicate care and respect of others and of self.  I highly recommend this story.  A must read!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I am Special, Bear Toss & Collection Box; Self Esteem 2

Self Esteem 
People with high self esteem are realistic about their strengths and weaknesses; they are able to set goals and work toward them. People with high self esteem do not buy into other peoples negative impressions of them. People with low self esteem have difficulty evaluating their strengths and weaknesses.  Usually they are unrealistic in this area and have negative impressions of themselves.  They buy into other people’s opinions of their strengths and weaknesses far more than they should, and they are often pessimistic.  The activities below help to build a healthy self esteem.

I Am Special: Younger 
Out loud have the child/children say I am special, several times.  Read through the list below to give ideas and then have everyone fill out the, I Am Special page.  Young ones can dictate their answers.

I am special because I am a good brother/sister.      
I am special because I am kind.
I am special because I am a hard worker.                   
I am special because I am helpful.
I am special because I am a good with animals.          
I am special because I am caring.
I am special because I am funny/humorous.         
I am special because I am a good friend.

I Am Special
Everyday tell yourself how special you are

I am special because                                                                                      

I am special because                                                                                      

I am special because                                                                                      

I am special because                                                                                      

Bear Toss Special
You will need a small stuffed animal or a bean bag.  We used a bear.

There are two ways to play this game.
1.  You as the parent/teacher start; I am special because…, then toss the toy to a child.  The child says I am special because…, and tosses the toy back to you.  You promptly toss the toy to another child, they say I am special because…, and tosses the toy back to you.  Continue until everyone has had at least one turn.

2.  Two people face each other with a little bit of distance between them.  Or, a group of people in two lines face each other.  Whoever has the toy says; I am special because…, then tosses the toy to the person across from them, and it continues back and forth, or down the line.  With only two people playing, see how long you can toss the bear back and forth because of how special you are.

I am special because…, toss the toy
I am special because…, toss the toy

The game can be reversed.  You are special because..., toss the toy.

Collection Box; Older
Fill out the questionnaire below to review a little about yourself.  Start collecting photos, pictures, words or symbols clipped from magazines.  Continue to collect items and keep them in a shoe box, or large zip lock bag until you have enough to create.  Use the items in your collection box/bag to make a collage on poster board, as part of a piece of art, or inspiration for a drawing or story...  You can collect things you love and enjoy, places you have been, people you admire, dreams of the future, the college you would like to attend, the career you would like to have...  

It is important to take a realistic look at your likes and dislikes.  Try to be realistic when looking at your strengths, weaknesses and your goals for the future.  Taking a personal inventory will help you to understand yourself better and what part of yourself you like and what part you may want to improve. 
My favorite activity or school subject ­__________

My least favorite activity or school subject __________

I am good at __________

I am not good at __________

My favorite thing to do in my free time __________

I would like to learn to (cooking, mechanic, architecture, writer) __________

What topic do I know most about __________

I am a leader, follower, or in the middle __________

If you could plan a vacation, where would it be __________

I feel calm and peaceful when __________

I learn best alone, with another person, 
in a small group, or in a large group __________

The best teacher/mentor I have ever had __________
(What makes this teacher/mentor so terrific)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Gift and Special Qualities; Self Esteem 1

Self Esteem
Self esteem is how much a person values themselves, quietly knowing how important they are.  Children with a healthy self esteem are equipped to deal with peer pressure and responsibility.  Praising children when they show genuine effort helps children to build self esteem.  Criticizing children by shame, teasing and mockery lowers their self esteem.

It is important to understand how people are far more similar than different; it builds bridges to peacefulness.  Just as important is to know how special we are as individuals.  Every person has their own unique qualities and their uniqueness should be celebrated.  Having self esteem helps us to understand our wonderful qualities, and to embrace and allow our specialness to flourish.  Having healthy self esteem plays an important role in our development. 
The Gift
(You will need a mirror and a box with a lid (big enough to hold the mirror).  When looking in the mirror, it should be large enough to see a face).  
Wrap the box like a present (box and lid separately), or decorated a plain box.  Place the mirror in the box with tissue paper and place the lid on.  Ask: "Who is the most special person in the world?"  After the child/children answer, tell them that you have a special box and they will be able to see inside the box and see someone important.  As the child, or children (one at a time), come up to see inside the box, let them know that the box is valuable since it shows someone special.  Ask the child to open the box and look inside.  When the child looks inside they see themselves in the mirror.  If this is being done with a group, ask the child to say nothing when they go back to their seat, so that everyone is surprised about the important person.  (Sit a bit away from the children when there is more than one child).

I Have Special Qualities; Older
8 strips of paper per person

Brain storm what good qualities are; kind, caring, helpful, trustworthy, respectful, hard working, compassionate, loves animals, loving brother or sister, loving daughter or son, good friend…

Give each person 8 strips of paper.  Ask everyone to write down a different special quality they have on each strip of paper.  Have everyone place the strips of paper in order of what quality of themselves they like the best, and so on, ending in the quality liked least. 

Have everyone ask themselves, Do I like what I see?

Now ask everyone to take one trait away and set it to the side.  Ask them to think about how not having that trait affects them?  Repeat three more times; take away a quality, and ask how they feel.  There can be a struggle when children are deciding which trait to remove.  End with everyone placing the four traits taken away, back.  Hopefully everyone understands how important each of their traits are once they are back together.  Be proud of your special qualities.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Calm that Anger Down; Feelings 3

What to do About Anger
It is good to learn how to calm ourselves down when we are angry.  Nothing good will come of getting in trouble because we are acting out.  Teach and practice what triggers anger, how our body reacts, and how to calm down.  You may want to review Feeling Words, and The Face Moves.

What makes you angry, that you react to every time it happens?  This is called, anger triggers.  What are your anger triggers; brainstorm a list.  

How Angry Are You
1      2      3      4      5      6      7      8      9      10

1 is calm, and 10 is the absolute angriest.  Ask: If someone took your cookie without asking, how angry would it make you; pick a number (Odds are a child will pick a fairly high number).  Ask: What if someone pushed you down on the ground, how angry would you be then; pick a number.  Obviously, someone pushing you down is going to make a person angrier than taking some cookies.

Decide from 1 to 10 how calm or angry these situations would make you.  If you choose too high or too low the first time, erase and change the number. 
1. You are given a compliment.
2. You are teased and called a name.
3. Your turn was accidentally skipped.
4. Someone takes your cookie.
5. You are pushed on purpose.
6. You are told you did a good job.
7. You knock over all of your books.

What Happens
Brainstorm ways we feel and what our body does when we get angry.  Practice what it feels like to clinch teeth, clinch fists, and tighten stomach muscles.
1. Face can get hot or red
2. Teeth may clinch
3. Fists may clinch
4. Heart pounds
5. Stomach feels butterflies or the muscles feel tight

Calming Down
Teach and practice the ways to calm down. 
1. Slowly count to 10 over and over.  While you are counting, you are inhaling in very slowly, and then exhaling just as slow.  Continue counting and breathing slowly until you feel calm.
2. Count backwards.  For younger children teach them to start at 10 and count backwards.  Continue over and over if needed.  Older children start at the highest number they are able to count backwards from.  Continue to count backwards until you become calm.
3. Think about something that makes you happy such as playing with your dog, jumping waves at the beach, sitting by a lake.  When you are upset, think about your happy place.  You may need to remind yourself to think about your happy place if your mind wonders.  Stay with your happy place until you are no longer angry. 
4. Tell yourself, “Calm down, I don’t want to get in trouble; calm down, I don’t want to get in trouble…”  Continue saying the sentence over and over, until your anger has gone down.  Tell yourself, "Calm down-I don’t want to get in trouble..." 
5. Write out why you are angry on a piece of paper.  Write everything you feel you need to say, get it all out.  After you are done, crumple the paper up and throw away the angry feelings.  Or, rip the paper up in small pieces and throw the angry feelings away.
6. Blow up a balloon, say why you are angry out loud or to yourself, let the balloon go and as you let the balloon go, let your anger go with it.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Face Moves; Feelings 2

Emotions show themselves physically; our face and body give us clues if we are aware of them.  When we are happy our face muscles and our posture are different, than when we are sad or angry.  Becoming self aware of the changes can lead us to understanding our feelings better.  An example is, if we are beginning to get angry and notice the change in our face and posture (a body cue), we can try to calm ourselves down before the anger wells up and we start to yell.  Identifying body language and recognizing our own internal cues, helps us learn how to address feelings before they get too intense. 

The Face Moves; Face and Posture Changes 
The beginning steps in understanding our body cues.  Go slowly, take your time and repeat the steps often before going to the next section.  Identify the feeling while you act out the body cues.  

a)      Happy - When you are happy you are usually smiling.  Think about how your face and posture change when you are feeling happy or proud. 
1         Place your fingertips at the corners of your mouth; now smile.  When we smile the corners of our mouth raise up, (practice: smile, relax, smile, relax…).
2         Place your fingertips on your cheeks; now smile.  What happens to your cheeks?  Your cheeks raise up.  Practice.
3         Very carefully Place your fingertips to the side of your eyes; now smile.  Your eyes will squint a little bit.  Practice.
4         When you are happy where are you looking?  Most likely straight ahead with your head and chin held high, (practice: smile-head held high, relax…).
5         Think about your posture when you are feeling happy.  Most often you will be sitting up straight or standing tall with your shoulders back, (practice: smile with posture up straight, relax...). 

b)      Sad - Think about how your face and posture change when you are feeling sad or lonely.
1         Place your fingertips at the corners of your mouth.  When you are sad or lonely, the corners of your mouth turn down, (practice sad, relax, sad, relax...).
2         Place your fingertips on your eyebrows; pretend you are sad or worried.  When you are sad/worried your eyebrows go down.  Practice.
3         When you are sad, lonely or worried, where are you looking?  Most likely your eyes are looking down, (practice face droops & eyes look down, relax…). 
4         Think about your posture when you are feeling sad, worried or lonely.  Most often you will slump a little bit, with your shoulders and neck drooping, (practice sad with body slumped/drooping, relax…).

c)      Angry - Think about how your face and posture change when you are feeling angry.
1             Place your fingertips at the corners of your mouth; now pretend you are very angry.  Your lips press together and outward, (angry, relax, angry…).
2         Place your fingertips on your eyebrows; now pretend you are angry.  Your eyebrows go toward each other or inward.  Practice.
3         Place your fingertips on your forehead; now pretend you are angry.  Your forehead winkles.  Practice.
4         Pretend you are very, very angry.  What are your muscles doing, especially your stomach.  Your muscles tighten and your stomach can feel like it has a knot inside of it.  Sometimes people make fists or arms crossed at the chest, (practice muscles tightening, relax...).

      Next time you are happy, sad, or angry, see if you notice how your face and body posture change, especially if you are angry.