Posts filed under ‘early childhood development’

An Inspired Childhood | Sour Cream Coffee Cake Recipe


An inspired childhood is our gift to our kids and it is built on what we give emotionally, do to set an example, and provide as a means to supporting the skills our children will need to grow up and be successful independent contributive adults. It is the giving of ourselves and the sharing of our own stories – how will you build your family foundation?

Continue Reading December 30, 2014 at 6:00 pm Leave a comment

A Time to Give


I'm a Chipper Mom | Expert Advice for Moms and ParentsThe pressure to raise a high achieving, conscientious and contributing child can overshadow the benefits of giving back as an individual or family. When we help others, we are reminded of what we have and don’t have in life. It is an opportunity to teach our children what life is really about and how we can contribute for the betterment of our community and world. Helping excites emotions of empathy, joy, guilt, and often leaves us motivated to do more. But understanding these emotions and convictions isn’t intuitive.

So when is the right time to teach our kids about giving, and what are some of the steps we can take to connect them with opportunities to help in the community?

Research has shown that a child can start determining right from wrong by the age of 6 months, and by the age of 15 months, a child realizes for every action there is a reaction. A person drops something and the child – not yet walking – crawls over, picks it up, and gives it back. Now that we know there is reason to believe every child has the capability to grow up and give back, let’s take time to allow our kids to grow into the opportunities to contribute.

Connect with Young Children

Beyond the physical action of committing to a specific organization, each day you can find ways to excite the emotional, mindfulness of your children just by presenting positive experiences. By doing so you are exciting the intuitive mindset; understanding that a child will care for what they love, or feel a positive connection towards. Ask for help and empower their minds to think creatively about how they can solve a situation. Little helpers become creative thought leaders so guide the process and provide age-appropriate opportunities that work for your family.

For example, without joining an organization you can model helpful behavior for your kids under five just by picking up trash on the sidewalk as you make your way to the park; holding open the door for the next person as you walk into a store; or taking the shopping cart back for the person parked next to you at the grocery store. Children mirror what they see and these early interactions will allow them to experience a positive reaction, thankfulness.

Teach Kids Environmental Stewardship

Next time you are on a hike with your three year old talk to them about keeping the trails clean so the plants and animals will stay healthy. Bring an extra bag to pick up any trash and then talk about the best way to discard it. The walk is healthy and you are teaching your child about environmental stewardship in a joyful way.

For children under five years old the opportunity to give and contribute is within daily activities and experiences so identify activities that tap into interests as well. Like art!

Crafting with Kids

Next time you host the play-date or birthday party try infusing crafts into the celebration. Decorate cards then string them up and donate to your community nursing home or Veteran’s hospital. By the time your children reach the age of six or older bring them to the nursing home to deliver the gifts. Click here for some great recycle craft ideas!

Many elderly people are part of an Adopt-a-Grandparent program and the activities provide opportunities for younger children to visit, sing, read, participate in crafts, and hear stories of times we don’t even think about anymore. These are also opportunities for children to connect in a safe environment and learn respect for adults.

From friendly visits to dog walks, young children can give back without the pressure of “saving the world” so acknowledge these sweet moments as real learning experiences. And remember to be patient; new experiences can take a child out of their comfort zone. Other ways you can help connect your young child/children to giving back are:

Cooking with Kids

Baking or bringing a meal for a friend or family Next time a new baby arrives, a friend is sick, or you know of a friend-in-need ask your child to help pack a welcome meal or package then deliver together.

Walk the dog, take out the trash, water the lawn, the simple gesture to a friend or family member will receive gratitude and it will impact the way a child sees themselves in relation to others.

Teach Kids Environmental Stewardship

When children reach school age, allow them to participate in organizations like Girl and Boy Scouts, which provide necessary training for various activities. These organizations also work closely to ensure the safety of your children while also teaching leadership skills.

Additional opportunities include:

Serving at a Soup Kitchen: Through your church or civic organization, check the minimum age requirement and chaperon the experience. The lesson is powerful; be prepared to discuss mental health to financial matters with your children.

Babysitting at Sunday School: Helping out within a familiar environment builds a sense of pride and community. Your child will also receive feedback from others, which helps reinforce good character and a contributive mindset.

By the time your children reach tween to teen years you might even consider an international trip to help build a library, latrines, or work building new homes for communities-in-need. With the holidays fast approaching take a moment to identify something you can do as a family and get ready to make it a tradition!

December 1, 2014 at 5:00 pm Leave a comment

Thanksgiving Activities For Your Little Ones


The turkey is in the oven, the pumpkin pie is cooling, and little fingers are picking mini marshmallows off the top of the yams. Approximately 280 million turkeys are sold for the Thanksgiving celebrations in the United States. That’s a lot of turkey! Now even though it’s called ‘turkey day’, cooking isn’t the only fun activity your family can do on this day of thanks. Besides eating, Thanksgiving is a great holiday to discuss family traditions, connect with extended family, and show your appreciation and gratitude.

Here are some kid-friendly activities for the whole family as you await the bird in the oven:

1. Leaf Hunt!Fall Chipper with Leaf Bag

Search for some colorful fall leaves outside or print and color some Chipper Fall Leaves or Helping Hands. Then hide them around the house! Make it a treasure hunt by giving clues of thanksgiving related items! Here are a few example hints to get your started:

  • Pumpkin Pie is really great and very yummy. What do I need to help me eat and put it in my tummy? (Answer: The Silverware Drawer)
  • Turkey, Potatoes, Green Beans on my plate. This is where we eat the turkey dinner, it tastes so great! (Answer: The Dining Room Table)
  • Family time and meet and greet! When we relax together, this is our seat! (Answer: The Living Room Couch)

Happy Hunting! You can also create gorgeous cards (or see the craft below!) and name tags for your Turkey dinner using your leaves and mod podge after your game:

IMG_5859

2. Turkey Run!

Chipper Running with Leaves

The mountains of food seems endless on Thanksgiving Day, and so do the cravings for more than one slice of pumpkin pie; but not if your family works up an appetite! ‘Turkey Trots’ are very popular and can help raise funds for a good cause. Take a look at this website and see how you can join a “Turkey Trot” near you! Or take a stroll around the block with the whole family after dinner to help digest the big meal. a simple walk is a great opportunity for some great family conversation!

3. Let’s Learn About Our Family!

Chipper Family Tree

What better time for kids to learn about the family history than on Thanksgiving, when the entire family is gathered together! Print out a Chipper Family Tree and have the kids interact with each family member to see where they belong on the tree. When dinner is finally ready, bring out the completed tree and have each member tell a family story!

4. Thanksgiving Day Placemat!

Print out our complimentary and have your little ones color and fill it out. It’s a great way to keep the kiddos occupied while also teaching them about healthy eating habits and what they are thankful for! Click here or on the image below to download and print (please use legal paper or print on two letter sized paper and tape together).

CFM_Placemat_Thanksgiving

5. Recycle Craft Turkeys!

IMG_1782Create a cute centerpiece for your table or use them as name tags for your Thanksgiving feast seating!

Materials:

  • Recycled Toilet Paper Roll
  • Tape or Glue (we love double stick tape!)
  • Markers or colored pencils
  • Pipe Cleaners or some Fall Leaves
  • Googly Eyes (optional)
  • Recycled paper colored or construction paper and some scissors (optional)
  • Popsicle stick and square of paper if making name tag for table

Directions:

  1. Start with your Turkey face! Draw eyes, a neck waddle, a beak or use googly eyes, cut a triangle from construction paper for the beak and waddle.
  2. Draw on some wings and feathers with markers or colored pencils.
  3. Now add your tail feathers! Find some colorful fall leaves outdoors and glue or tape on to the back of your roll. Or curl some pipe cleaners with your fingers and glue or tape on. Add feet with folded pipe cleaners or cut some out of paper and attach to the bottom of your turkey with glue or tape.
  4. If you are creating a name tag, cut out a small rectangle of white paper, write on your name, then attach to your popsicle stick with glue or tape. Then attach to your turkey, sticking it to the inside back end of your toilet toll with glue or tape.
  5. Add to your table so everyone know where to sit! Or just place in the center or around the house for some fun decorations. You can even use them as napkin holders! Just fold your napkin through the center of the roll.

IMG_1927 IMG_1901

EXTRA CRAFT: If you find some pinecones outside while searching for leaves, add some googly eyes, paper beaks, and feathers with hot glue (with supervision) to create festive table decorations!

IMG_5858

For more fun Thanksgiving activities, visit our Thanksgiving Pinterest Board! Please share your crafts with us in the comments below. Have a Fall-tastic Thanksgiving! Gobble Gobble 🙂

November 12, 2014 at 6:00 pm Leave a comment

Chipper Snacks: Mummy Madness Monday


Halloween Lil SpatulaMonday Mayhem: You start off strong ready to conquer the week and by the end of the day you wonder if you’ll even make it to Wednesday. Sound familiar? Part of this feeling comes from being conscious of everything you have on your “to do” list rather than the task at hand. So start the week of by listing your “to do’s” on a daily basis then let it go so everything can fall into place and happen. At the top of the list is probably what you need to pick up or make for dinner. As we welcome a week we know will end in screams – rightfully so – let’s kick-off some Halloween fun that will also encourage your kids into the kitchen.
Here are two simple Mighty Mummy dinner ideas to kick off this Monday …and maybe even repeat before you go Trick o’ Treating. “Playing with your food” never tasted so good …er ghoulish.

Mummy Pizza

Mummy Madness Monday 6

Ingredients:Mummy Madness Monday 1

  • ½ cup black olives, sliced
  • 1 package of mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • English muffins
  • ½ cup pizza sauce (click in the link for an easy recipe or buy it pre-made!)

Mummy Madness Monday 3

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Open your English muffin and spread some pizza sauce on it. Let the kids do this – they’ll loved it!
  3. Next, give each mummy two eyes using the black olive slices.
  4. Lastly, use to cut the mozzarella cheese slices into strips. Again, it doesn’t have to be perfect. The kids can lay them over the top of the crust.
  5. Bake 8-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Enjoy 🙂

Mummy Madness Monday 5

Mummy Dogs

Mummy Madness Monday 2

Ingredients:

Mummy Madness Monday 7

  • 8 hot dogs
  • 1 can prepared dough of your choice
  • mustard or ketchup, for serving

Mummy Madness Monday 9 Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375˚F
  2. Roll out the dough very thin, then use a pizza cutter to cut skinny strips of dough.
  3. Wrap each hotdog. Leave a little bit of open space around the “face” of the mummy. Keep wrapping in a crisscross pattern until covered. Let the kids do this, it feels sticky & fun. Repeat, then lay them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or baking mat.
  4. Bake 18-20 minutes, until the dough is nice and golden brown.
  5. Use a toothpick to make ‘eyes’ with mustard or ketchup, admire, then enjoy 🙂

Mummy Madness Monday 8

What other Halloween snacks do you and your kids love to make? Share with us in the comments below or on Facebook.

October 27, 2014 at 5:00 pm Leave a comment

Cleaning up the Conversation


I'm a Chipper MomThis past Friday I was so excited to come home from work because I knew the house would be clean. I’m not one to have cleaning help but after fostering three dogs and many family-and-friends travelers I raised the white flag and said “Calgon take me away!” The smell and the shine was worth the slip – one turn down the hallway in my socks and I was grabbing the wall to stay up because the floors were waxed (did I pay extra for that?).

Friday night is family night so at dinner I couldn’t help but bring up the conversation on how keeping the house clean and organized really helped me feel empowered to get through each day. A silly topic to kids, and maybe shallow thinking to some, but having an organized and clean house does make me feel like I’ve got everything in order. I do walk out the door feeling like I can get everything done. It’s my thing and I want it to be everyone else’s “thing” as well.

I’ve directed everyone over the years on what I expect them to keep clean in their bedrooms and what I expect everyone to help with around the home. Not one wanting to be the author of many “Chore” charts I’ve posted notes and raised my voice a few times – none of it really created consistency. So before taking the family dinner down the path of “don’t get anything dirty” I decided to ask a few questions.

  1. Where should we hike this weekend?
  2. Who needs what for back-to-school supplies?
  3. What’s for dessert and what’s our movie for tonight?

If you can believe – my youngest exclaimed: “Whatever we do we have to keep the house clean.” What? I couldn’t believe it so I asked, “How are we going to do that?”

Without another prompt my other daughter immediately shared a list she had created when she was little on how she would keep her room clean. It was full of pictures and symbols she said represented everything. With that simple prompt both girls set out to write up a list of items they would focus on to help keep the house clean.Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 12.09.20 PM

When presented Callie shared that she would include vacuuming because she knew how important a clean floor is when you are cooking. Callie presented her list to us, and wanted to share with other families. Her excitement and deliberation were so evident; her next goal is to laminate the list so she can check and wipe off to start again each week.

The power of conversation goes beyond the boardroom or cocktail party – bringing relevant topics to the family table like individual needs or weekend activity ideas sparks thoughtful conversation and engages kids on a new level. Kids are empathetic and they want to help – when we ask what they can do around the home or for us as parents/caregivers we ignite curiosity; executive function kicks in, leadership skills, and a sense of worth are a part of this as well.Chipper Family Moments | Cleaning Up with Kids

Parenting expert Jim Fay, co-founder of the Love and Logic website, says we all need to feel needed and to know that we’re making a contribution — even kids. “But they can’t feel that way if they don’t have chores and make contributions to the family,” Fay says.

Roger W. McIntire, University of Maryland psychology professor and author of Raising Good Kids in Tough Times, says, “A child has to have some responsibilities.”

According to research, children even younger than 15 months have empathy and realize others and their needs. When we consider physical abilities and emotional readiness we can set personal expectations and engage with our children in a much more positive and constructive way. When we include our children in the conversation about all noted above they feel responsible to the overall wellbeing of the family. A strong sense of emotional responsibility is powerful in the most positive way.

Chipper Family Moments | Cleaning Up with Kids

Try posing a question over telling someone what to do. How does the person respond? Do you find the conversation and actions more positive? Model this approach with your spouse or partner, do you find the results more positive? It’s a simple switch in the way we communicate but the results are impactful and beneficial to everyone.

With a clean house and committed siblings the weekend was so pleasant – I’d like to know what questions will you ask this week?

August 25, 2014 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

Read with Your Children


The morning hustle: head down getting everyone up and out the door with little time to wrap my head around what is really important to me on this day. Dashing out the door with totes, lunches, and kids in tow we zip to the highway for the first drop-off on the last week of summer camps. Music on, conversations fragmented and a red light finally offers me the first brief moment I get to pause. On this particular day, the pause at what my daughters call “the longest light” is suddenly so worth it.

“Mom, what book do you think that mom is reading to her daughter?” I look over and marvel that through the oncoming traffic and nestled into a bus shelter surrounded by the hedge greening the road my daughter notices a mother and daughter quietly reading; so focused they don’t hear or realize life whizzing by them. What a way to start the day. I am reminded that it only takes a few moments to make a meaningful connection with your child. Sitting closely, turning the pages, and discussing the story, I thought to myself “what an opportunity to connect.”

The green light sets us back on our way but I stayed in the right hand lane with the slower traffic so I could spend a little more time with my kids today. We talked about the summer library program and how we needed to catch up since we didn’t read as much while on vacation. My eldest daughter reminded her sister of the book she’s suggested, and for once my youngest agrees it might be time to try a “bigger” book. She asked if I would sit with her to read it in the beginning in case she had trouble with some of the words or understanding the story. I agreed.

For the next ten or so minutes we named all the books we could remember reading. We shared our favorite books we had read together as kids, and I shared the book my mom gave me years ago repeating what she wrote on the inside cover. I still cherish the message today.

Snuggle up and read with your kids.

Snuggle up and read with your kids.

Reading is essential to the positive upbringing of a child. The benefits are never ending but a few important ones come to mind:

  1. The opportunity to snuggle up and physically connect – using your voice to put life into the story, hands to depict characters and scenes all add to the magic of the moment.
  2. Left to right – run your finger along the page as you read and you help your child understand that’s the way to read a book. Read then discuss the illustrations to teach visual storytelling. Sometimes words and pictures are different but it’s interesting how they can tell the same story.
  3. Engaging your child’s imagination excites verbal skills – repeating words, and asking questions will spark conversation and help your child form complete sentences as well as learn new words daily.
  4. Academic excellence – it’s probably the number one goal most parents have when they think of their child’s future. Research shows early reading moments will help students perform better in school.
  5. Interpersonal relationships – all stories are based on relationships and the opportunity to learn through imaginative stories will help young children build basic skills for positive interpersonal relationships.

There are more reasons to read together and LeVar Burton is probably the biggest champion of reading to children. Research continues to validate the benefits at every age and stage of a child’s early brain development.

I could spend hours reading through this research but inspired by the mother and daughter sitting at the bus stop I’d rather turn the page with my own children and create a story or two of our own. What is your favorite childhood book – share with us on Facebook or start reading today with your children.

August 4, 2014 at 8:29 am Leave a comment

Chipper Recycle Craft: Contain Yourself!


Summertime is the perfect time to let kids explore while you’re outside; whether in your backyard, the beach, or a local park keeping everyone within eyesight or earshot creates a safe space for children to exercise some independence. And these explorations usually end up with kids coming back to you with pockets full of special “finds.”

This week we welcome our summer Chipper Intern, Alexa Swartz, and her ideas on where to put the treasures you decide to keep.

Chipper Intern – Alexa Swartz

I remember collecting things as a child when out hiking with my family. Many items are a part of nature so my parents always taught us the principals of Leave No Trace which meant we needed to leave most of what we found with nature and the animals using it as a resource for their habitat. But some items made it home and the mementos soon took over drawers and countertops. I like thinking back on this time and I realize it’s so easy to allow kids to contain these souvenirs with fun containers to store them in!

As an intern for Lets Go Chipper I will be posting weekly container crafts to offer ideas for all your keepsakes – they even make great packaging ideas for birthday gifts or housewarming gifts.

Not only will these crafts create a fun way for kids to store all their pieces of summer, but making crafts actually helps improve fine motor skills, strategic thinking and builds self-esteem in the process. Read more about the benefits of crafting!

Week 1: The Gum ContainerKids Recycle Craft | Collection Container

What you need:

  • A plastic gum container
  • Mod Podge, glue, or tape
  • Scissors
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Magazines, paper, paint or anything you want to stick on your container
  • Creativity

How to make your container: Kids Recycle Craft

  1. Set out materials on an easily cleanable surface allowing your child to create without worry. Breaking down a cardboard box is an easy way to create a workspace that protects counters or tables you don’t want to get dirty.
  2. Encourage your child to make a plan and think about what they want before immediately jumping in.
  3. Feel free to create! There is no right or wrong in this project so let their imaginations take flight and see what the container ends up looking like. Let them use any medium and design they want. This project is about the process and fun and memories that come from creating the container, don’t dwell on if the child will like the outcome and just let them enjoy the process.
  4. Enjoy! Fill the container with anything, from pens and pencils at school, to sticks and rocks found around the garden. Let it contain whatever the child perceives to be important to them.

What else would you do with this container? Share with Chipper in the comments below!

June 29, 2014 at 6:00 pm Leave a comment

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