Monday, March 11, 2019

Connecting Music Skills and Learning

Music Instruction Along Age 8 Builds Intellect & Emotional Skills
The years before age eight are a critical time for building the physical, mental, and emotional foundations that support us for the rest of our lives. 
   Researchers have found a significant positive relationship between formal music lessons before or around age eight and reading comprehension, spelling, math, listening, brain development, and motor skills in sports.
   The American Association for the Advancement of Science, based at Brown University, explored the effects of art and music education on young children's learning. The conclusions of these studies support the theory that music instruction can help build intellectual and emotional skills, facilitate children's learning and strengthen academics.
There are other benefits, too:
·               Concentration:  Learning a musical instrument helps children develop concentration since they must focus on a particular activity over extended periods of time. Developing concentration in this way also will help them when they must focus their attention on other subjects at school. Learning an instrument may counteract the brain’s tendency to to develop a short attention span from playing video games where the brain is given short bursts of expected reinforcement and rapid fire action which is the opposite of learning an instrument and learning in school.
Many Other Benefits, Too!!
·               Coordination: Practicing musical instruments improves hand-eye coordination.  Children develop important motor skills when playing music just as they do when playing different sports.
·               Relaxation: More and more, music therapy is being used to complement more traditional forms of medicine, especially to reduce stress. Researchers acknowledge that certain types of music can aid relaxation by lowing heart rates and blood pressure.  If a child does not learn an instrument we can at least introduce them to different kinds of music.
·               Patience and perseverance: In order to learn a musical instrument, children must develop patience and perseverance, which will help them later in life when they must tackle other more difficult challenges.
·               Self- confidence:The act of learning and playing an instrument, the encouragement of a teacher and enthusiasm of proud parents and grandparents will build a sense of pride and confidence.  Children who practice self-expression and creativity often become better communicators later in life, according to the research.
Attend Concerts for Inspiration
 If children are entering middle school there is a second opportunity to develop musical skills.  This is the second famous brain development time.  It is like a second chance. That is why it is important to encourage learning a band or orchestra instrument at this important time.
  Spring is a great time to take children to a symphony, musical play, a high school band, orchestra, or choral concert. The music is exceptional and inspires young children, a good time to discuss audience etiquette. 
For more see Through the Seasons live and podcasts; Facebook and Pinterest. and 

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Winter Sandbox Fun for Kids

Make some "Geography" with Homemade Sandboxes
While the sandbox is buried under layers of snow and frozen solid you can still provide sand fun indoors and keep a tidy house. It’s hard to believe but this recipefeels better than damp beach sand. It is soft and velvety yet holds its shape when building castles and roads.  It also adds moisture to dry winter hands.
Homemade Sand
You will need homemade sand (recipe below), spoons, plastic measuring cups for pails, plastic people and animals, small cars and trucks, Legos, and other plastic pieces like trees to make scenes.
  Mix 8 cups white baking flour and 2 cups baby oil.  Add a little more oil ( ¼ cup) slowly  and mix  if it feels too dry. The mixture should clump together when you hold it in your fist. Continue to mix well. The sand can be stored it in a sealed container or freezer lock bag. Do not mix with water. 
What Can You Make in the "Sand?"
  Put it in a cookie sheet or several large cake pans so each child has a private sandbox. For easy clean up, place a large beach towel on a non-carpeted floor or table. Spilled sand will make the floor slippery. After sweeping, wash with dish detergent. If play cars get covered with sand or sand gets into toy crevasses just brush or knock off the sand from cars with a paint brush and wipe them off. You can keep a special bag for small sand toys especially for sand playtime. This silky sand will probably become your children’s favorite toy.
   You can decide the kind of geographic features you will create with your child. Will it be your community, high mountains, Great Lakes, river basin, plains with roads, a cityscape with buildings and rivers, an island with a volcano, or an imaginary 
planet? Will the period of history be time of the dinosaurs, castles, in the future? Where will your imagination take you? Many children like to rescue or act out a story they have heard. 
  Features might include roads through mountain passes, coral reefs, plateaus, an isthmus, islands, archipelagos, peninsulas, plains, basins, or steppes. Water features can be a piece of paper colored with blue markers. Children can make wetlands for turtles and snakes, straits, oceans, gulfs, glaciers, deltas, lakes, bays, harbors, canals, channels, harbors for ships, and a river’s source and mouth. Just choose a few that fit your plan. You will be amazed at the new vocabulary and understanding your young children will develop.
Build It Together
 You can build, have conversations, and make decisions together. You and the kids can use the geographical terms and start your favorite or imaginary story with plastic figures, cars, and trucks. For more learning fun see; through the seasons, live and podcasts, Facebook, and Pinterest. 
Photos: Fran Darling, fdarling fofos

Monday, February 11, 2019

Tea Partying with Grandkids

Help Children Learn the "Art" of Tea Time
What is better than scones and adults’ attention? Grandparents can help young children learn table manners, the art of conversation, and feel comfortable using them during an English Tea. Invite some friends, stuffed animals, and a few action figures who need little culture to save the world.
Table Decorating 
  Children can decorate placemats made from two pieces of computer paper or one large construction paper. Napkins can be paper towels, paper napkins, or cloths.  Children decorate small table name cards, roll napkins and tie with an old sparkly necklace. Flowers or a low plant in the center of the table is a nice touch.
  For setting use real utensils and china. Google images has diagrams for formal and informal tea correct party table setting. You can teach children to set the table correctly and how and when to use each utensil. Explain and practice how to use silverware, plates, place the napkin on their lap, hold a tea cup, butter a scone, and replace items when finished. Refresh how to ask for food, pass to the right, and keep elbows off the table. 
  A day before purchase some blueberries, black berries, raspberries and ingredients for scones. Pick up some lemonade, apple juice or some orange herbal tea that is friendly to children’s palate.
All Kinds of Baked Goods & Scones, Too!
Baking Scones
  Basic scones require 4 ½ sifted white flour, ½ teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoon baking powder, 2 Tablespoon sugar, pinch of salt, 2 sticks of chilled butter cut into small pieces, 1-1 1/4  cups heavy cream, 1 egg, and ¼  cup light cream. Sift dry ingredients and place in short wide blender. Put in small chunks of chilled butter and run a few times until looks like coarse meal.  
  Add heavy cream until dough holds together. Leave little chunks of butter. Wrap in plastic and chill 30 minutes. Spray large baking sheets. Roll into circle. ½” thick for small scones (makes 30) or ¾ “thick for large ones, (makes 20). Cut out with a large jar top or cut into triangles like a bakery shop. Combine egg and light cream in small bowl. Brush tops and bake at 375 degrees 13-15 minutes. Provide whipped butter and jam at the table.
 While waiting for the scones to bake, dress up a bit and talk about how a daily tea time in England is a time to relax, enjoy good food slowly, and talk. Grandparents can help children think of who, what do you think about, when, where, why, and how questions to take turns starting conversation. Explain how to listen to answers respectfully and keep the conversation going with follow up questions can comments. Put on some soft music and it’s time for Tea at 3pm.
  For more see and through the Seasons, podcasts and live; Facebook and Pinterest.
Photos: Fran Darling, fdarling fotos

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Healthier Food Choices for Children

Encourage Healthy Eating at Snack Time
Meal and snack times provide a time to encourage healthy habits and conversation.  When wise snacking is added to three nutritious meals a day, adults can achieve the total recommended daily guidelines for healthy American children. Otherwise, the guidelines can be very difficult. Children before the 1960’s rarely snacked at all.  Then the food industry and ads took over.
   Over 27% of American children’s daily calories come from snacking also known as grazing. This snacking doesn’t have to be bad. It could be something you had planned to offer at mealtime anyway as part of the five basic groups on a plate: about half fruits and vegetables, half grains and protein, and a glass milk or yogurt. Perhaps children were not hungry for all the offerings. 
This plan of including tasty fruit and vegetable snacks is especially useful if fruits and vegetables are often left on the plate or a big point of contention at mealtime.
  A snack that satisfies hunger might be cut up fruits and vegetables like oranges, bananas, pears, apples, thin shavings of carrots, or frozen peas with just a small amount of cereal or crackers. Add a little cheese, yogurt,or small piece of turkey. You may want to replace crackers with whole grain bread pieces or crunchy toast, pockets or wraps and a little peanut butter. Check with your physician. 
Have Water Instead of Juice or Soda
Recommendations are five to thirteen servings of fruits and vegetables. Three meals plus three nutritious snacks, including one at bedtime, equals meeting the nutritional guidelines. 
  Water Not Soda or Juice
      Another suggestion from nutritionists is to provide water or milk during mealtimes and snacks rather than juice or soda. Drinking water rather than soda is cheaper; it is caffeine and sweetener free and will become a habit.
 To set a good example, eat a small snack and drink water or skim milk with your children. Have your snack at the kitchen table rather in front of the TV, phone, or computer. 
Teach How to Read Nutrition Labels 
You may like to play a game like I Spy Something Red or some other color to spark conversation. Another variation is to count the number of items of a color you can find in a room.  Alphabet and category games are also conversation starters. How many words can you think of that start with the letter B?
  You can teach young children to read numbers on nutrition labels. Four year olds can look for smaller number of sugar grams and become very aware of what they eat. These little food detectives can compare labels on boxed cereals, soup, processed meats, frozen meals, and macaroni and cheese to find the lowest amounts of sweeteners especially. 
  For more ways to help children be healthy see and Through the Seasons.
Photos: Fran Darling, fdarlingfotos