Things to do With Your Children to Celebrate Black History Month

The month of February is designated as Black History Month or African-American History Month.  It began as a week-long celebration declared by historian Carl B. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1926 for the week of February 12.  In the April, 1926 edition of The Journal of Negro History, Woodson argued that the perpetual study of the Black race was critical for its survival and prominence:

“If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated. The American Indian left no continuous record. He did not appreciate the value of tradition; and where is he today? The Hebrew keenly appreciated the value of tradition, as is attested by the Bible itself. In spite of worldwide persecution, therefore, he is a great factor in our civilization.”

Initially, the celebration had little support.  However, as years passed, it gained momentum, until ultimately in 1976, when President Gerald Ford gave the presidential stamp of approval for a month-long celebration.   Today, a month is set aside annually to celebrate Black history not only in the United States but also in Canada, Ireland, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

As my blog is geared toward children and literacy, I would like to encourage parents, teachers and others to spend time helping children to learn more about Black history and all the accomplishments that African-Americans have made.  There is quite a bit of information on the internet and specifically for children, I enjoy the Reading Rockets website because it has a variety of information to assist children in learning – from children’s books, events, television and internet programs to online guides and much more. 

Please spend some time on the website to decide what you will plan and do with your children.  Make a commitment to help your children grow in knowledge, understanding, and appreciation.  

For more information, please CLICK HERE.

The Benefits of Sensory Activities for Toddlers and Young Children

The knowledge of the importance of sensory play for children has grown significantly over the years.   Sensory activities are those that stimulate one or all of the five senses - touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound. Young children, especially babies and toddlers, are constantly learning by utilizing their senses, which makes sensory play a great learning apparatus as well as a stress reliever.

These activities encourage children to use different processes in their play, including motor skills, aid in their development of these skills, and refine their sensory thresholds, which basically means they give children information as to how they are affected by the things around them.  They also assist in helping them to understand their bodies’ reaction to certain stimulants.   What does a lemon taste like? What does squeezing this object do? What does spinning in circles for a long time do? Can I shake this and make a noise?  Why does it make a noise?  Sensory  play answers these and many other related questions your children may have.

Some fun (and relatively mess free) sensory play ideas are:

1.    Frozen shaving cream

2.    Homemade shakers (jars with rice, beans, nuts, or seeds)

3.    Lights and shadows (different light intensities and their effects on shadows)

4.    Homemade, edible finger paints

5.    Sensory bin (a large container -big enough for a toddler- and one that is inside and smaller containing different objects of varying shapes, colors and sizes. The big bin traps all the mess!)

Along with being a way for children to learn more about their reactions to different stimuli, sensory play can also provide a great deal of comfort.  Squeezing play dough or playing with shakers can be very cathartic, so keep them on hand for the next time your children need a quick source of distraction and comfort.

There are many internet sites with sensory activities.  Try this one to start as it breaks down sensory activities based on each specific sense that is the focus: CLICK HERE

Reading Bedtime Stories with Your Older Children

    When was the last time that you read a bedtime story with your older children?  When they were young, you took the time to read and cuddle before going to bed.  But, now that they are older and can read by themselves, you should not stop reading with them bedtime stories.

    According to Scholastic.com, there are many benefits to reading bedtime stories with your older children.  Here are a few:

1.  Your children are spending precious time with you and you with your children.   You are doing something together, which builds memories. 
2. You get to know their opinions.  When reading, ask questions.  Since they are older, they can give their opinions on subjects.  Have them think outside the box, rather than just giving rote answers.  This will give you important insight into what and how they are thinking. And, remember – no question is a dumb question.  
3. Children are learning good writing skills and sentence structure when they listen to well written books.  Then, when they are in school, they will be able to remember these skills and replicate them.  This is much different than with their younger siblings who are not at that stage of development yet.  

    Be sure to select a time that is convenient for you and your children.  Don’t rush through a book just to say that you read with them.  Plan and take the time that both you and they need to make this an enjoyable occasion.

    For more information, read the online article by CLICKING HERE.

Some Suggestions for New Year’s Resolutions to Promote Reading

Happy new year!  Yes, it’s 2016 and I have some suggestions for new year’s resolutions to help promote reading in your family.  

#1 – Plan weekend family outings to your local library.  I cannot mention enough about the wealth of information and books that are available in public libraries.  Search the internet to find out what your library has to offer on the weekends for children and attend the events.  Above all, check out books and other material for your children to read, at no cost!

#2 – Have a variety of reading materials available at home.  Don’t let your children get bored with what reading materials you have.  In addition to fiction, have biographies, comic books, audible books, and books in other formats (on your Kindle or iPad).  

#3 – Intentionally set aside time each day to read.  That will take discipline on your part.  One of the best times to read is when you are putting your child to bed at night, or after dinner is finished.  Don’t wait until you are totally exhausted and sleepy to do this.  Plan time for reading in your schedule as you would any other important event.  Remember – your child is worth it!

#4 – Limit the video and computer games.  Children can sit in front of a screen (whether a large computer screen or the small screen on your mobile phone) playing games endlessly.  Many parents use these games as babysitters.  Instead of just having your child play these games, try downloading some good books and have your child read them.  That way, they will sit quietly and develop good reading habits at the same time.

Of course, there are many more suggestions that I can make.  But, let’s start with these in 2016.  You will be taking a huge step by making and following through with these resolutions. 

Author Soraya Diase Coffelt