Elementary School Kids, Mindfulness, Physical Activity, SEL Social Emotional Learning, Uncategorized

Yoga for Kids: Homeschooling Programs


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Mindfulness has seen an uptick in schooling. The benefits range from increased ability to focus, higher achievement ratings, better control of emotions, and less aggression. Many homeschoolers will also want to reap the benefits of mindfulness with their kids. But where can they start? Try yoga for kids.

pupils meditating on classroom desks

Yoga for kids can be a fun way of introducing young ones to the benefits of mindfulness. With so many YouTube videos with programs specifically designed for kids, teachers can easily introduce the moves and yoga practices. Sometimes students will meditate, and at other times, they will enjoy different yoga poses with a minimum of equipment – just a yoga mat.

Students and teacher doing yoga pose at elementary school

Yoga for Younger Students

One very engaging yoga activity is an adventure called “Yoga Quest” offered by Cosmic Kids.

Kids are motivated by learning opportunities that capture their imagination. Yoga Quest not only involves kids by completing the quest, but they offer 5 different maps that adults can print so the kids can check off where they are in their quest. And when they have every area checked off, there is a certificate waiting for them. 

Below is one such map of 5 in total. Shark’s Bay screams excitement. Start with Norris and end with Nibs. When they  finish the quest,  they will have done 

  20 yoga adventures

  that’s 6 hours and 25 mins, 

  or 375 minutes,   

or 22,500 seconds of yoga practice

Try out the Shark Bay section of the Quest to see how it all works and then get started on the quest with your kids.

Yoga for Kids Who Are Older

Younger kids will enjoy Yoga Quest, but the presentation is not appropriate for older kids. But do not despair. You do not have to opt-in for an adult program as there are many choices that will appeal to older kids, too. You can coninue yoga for kids throughout all of the grade levels.

Yoga Ed

Yoga Ed has some videos on the internet that you can try out with your kids. Start by building a routine of easy poses. You can gain more training through their website.

Yoga for School

Yoga for School  Rachel has some close-up sections to help you see the moves more clearly. Since this routine is for school, no equipment is included. 

Super Hero Yoga

Superhero Yoga may appeal to the  males in the classroom. This session comes with some advice on the importance of helping others.  You can also see yoga classes by spiderman’s alter ego.

Yoga With Adriene

Yoga with Adriene has yoga moves designed specifically for the classroom setting. No equipment is required. It is a low key workout perfect for beginners. (both teachers and kids)

A Convenient Source for Yoga Mats

If you need several mats for your kids, you will love this pack of 12. You need only a minimum of equipment when you start teaching yoga for kids.

Consider this mat if you are purchasing for an individual. The yoga moves are printed on the mat so your yoga enthusiast can develop their own sequence of moves.

Coronavirus, Emotions, Mindfulness, Parenting, SEL Social Emotional Learning, teens, Uncategorized

Mindfulness for Kids and Teens: Strategies for the Pandemic

mindful teen, practicing mindfulness, mindfulness for kids and teens,
Photo by Motoki Tonn on Unsplash

Choose Mindfulness for Kids and Teens

By this time, in the pandemic, we are all looking for some ways to cope. Adults at least have the advantage of maturity in coping with problems. Agreed, that we have never suffered such a widespread and relentless issue.

You know that kids do not have the same background to understand that this situation too will pass. Nor do they comprehend that while things are very difficult, their life still has many moments of joy. Mindfulness will support your kids and teens in shifting their mindset into something more positive. 

But as many adults know, kids find it impossible to believe that their parents have the wisdom to guide them. One solution for a caring mom or dad is to make their kids aware of information about the reasons to try mindfulness. You do not need to be the source of information, but you can point them in the right direction. 

A Personal Solution for Mindfulness for Kids and Teens

Have your kids experience this free Mini Mindfulness course as a way of introducing the topic. And when your kids and teens demonstrate that they are willing to try some techniques, explore the possibilities with them.

You may also like to investigate other resources. Take a look at this blog: The Best 20+ Resources for Battling the Coronavirus Fatigue in your Kids of All ages  

A Peer Group Solution for Mindfulness for Kids and Teens

Another powerful way to influence your kids is to interest their teachers about introducing some of the practices. Mindfulness will work in this setting, whether it be in a face-to-face situation or through a Zoom-like experience. Many schools are now embracing mindfulness, with amazing results. The students feel happier and in more control of themselves. Poor behavior in the classroom has been reduced. And there have even been some noticeable educational gains due to a strengthening of kids’ abilities to concentrate. 

The Oakland Study

In a 2010 study, there were noticeable differences in behavior after the students practiced mindfulness techniques and learned more about their emotional health. 

These were the figures from a study conducted in the Oakland area in 2010 after 6 weeks of the new program.

These results are even more impressive once you understand the demographics of the 3 schools.  Oakland had 

—- 4th highest in violent crime in the United States in 2010

— – 15.3 violent crimes per 1,000 people in 2010 all three elementary schools are in relatively high crime areas 

— – on the average, 85% of the students were enrolled in a free lunch program

If mindfulness can make this difference in an area with so many difficulties, you can imagine the effect in places that are more fortunate and supportive of the program.

The Boston Study

Take a look at this more recent study of mindfulness practices in schools. In 2019, in Boston, impressive results were achieved that involved over 2,000 students.

“The study revealed that higher levels of mindfulness were associated with better grades, higher standardized test scores in math and English language arts, better attendance, and fewer suspensions. The findings persisted even when we accounted for students’ prior academic performance, grade level, and demographic characteristics (i.e., gender, economic disadvantage, race/ethnicity, English learner status, and special education status).”

It may be possible to invite your school to try this technique. Especially since many kids are experiencing strong emotions due to the changes caused by the pandemic, or, if you are in Home Schooling Group, try to convince everyone to try mindfulness with their kids. Something is comforting in trying new approaches with more support.

Giving your child a more positive outlook is

vital to support their well-being.

Diversity, gifts, grandparents, Holidays, Parenting, Racism, SEL Social Emotional Learning, teens

Valentine’s Day Diversity

When you think of Valentine’s Day, diversity is not the first thought that comes to most people’s minds. But it is the perfect celebration to be inclusive with your Valentine’s Day Gifts. The whole point of the day is all about love and being loved. Isn’t that at the core of diversity?

Valentine’s Day is a perfect opportunity to extend our personal feelings of caring to the entire human race. You can help kids appreciate others in many different ways.


Stories are a sure-fire way to broach challenging topics to make changes. There are stories for the very young . . .

Being different in this story can be about race, abilities and disabilities. Teach your child that all people have value and deserve respect.

right through to stories for teens. 

This is a science fiction story in which people can change their appearance easily, but one individual decides to remain true to herself.

Follow he story of friendship and the meaning of self-esteem.

And there are many issues explored in these stories.


The choice of some toys is obvious, but there are also some choices that you can make intentionally to integrate with learning experiences.

These figures represent different vocations as well as some diversity in the images. Add them to blocks or lego or a dollhouse to build a community that depends on each other.

An Artistic Approach

It is difficult to reflect the diversity of people in your art if you are missing the various shades for drawing people. There are sets of materials to accommodate for this fact.

With this set of pencil crayons your LOs can illustrate a whole host of people to reflect their community or to design material that reflects inclusivity.


Games are a perfect medium to teach about inclusion. Inclusion can be included in the artwork and the facts of many games. In addition, many games are played in co-operation instead of competitively.

In Cupcake Academy, the object is toward together to complete your cupcake assignment. The game does not include diverse images, but the spirit of co-operation teaches your child that it is best to work together.


Preteens and teens adorn their rooms with inspirational posters. Indeed, there are many that focus on inclusion and diversity.


The history of Valentine’s Day begins in a method to overcome oppression. Learn about the history behind this day.

When Saint Valentine is persecuted, he reaches out to others with his letters and cards. Learn the full story through this storybook.

Celebrations Across the World

Valentine’s Day is celebrated in many different ways throughout the world. Also learn about different customs for friendship and marriage. National Geographic provides just enough detail to interest most kids.


There is a vast array of clothing with positive messages from which to choose at Valentine’s Day from sweatshirts for teens to baby clothes. Let your teen share Valentine’s Day Diversity by wearing clothing with a message.

Encourage your kids can support others through what they choose to wear or not wear.


This Land is Your Land: This well-known folk song took on new meaning when JLo sang it at President Biden’s recent inauguration.

Instead of choosing a predictable present for Valentine’s Day. select a more meaningful gift for your family members and friends.

Promote Diversity and Inclusion!

Related Articles

5 Powerful Strategies for Using Storybooks to Combat Racism: Young Children  Use these storybooks to help your child understand diversity. Research shows that kids notice racial differences as toddlers.    

5 Powerful Strategies for Using Media to Combat Racism: Kids 7 to 12   See the best videos and books to combat racism for kids aged 7 to 12. Keep your kids engaged and discussing diversity and inclusion. Give them strategies to use to stand up to racism. 

Six Types of Toys to Promote Diversity and Inclusion Start early to influence your children’s attitudes about diversity and inclusion. Continue throughout their lifetime.

Baby, Christmas, gifts, grandparents, Holidays, Parenting, Preschool, presents, Toddler, traveling

Traveling with a Baby (Toddler) at Holiday Time: 18 Best Distractions & Techniques

Photo by Carl Figuracion on Unsplash

All parents have been there. You have a distance to go, either in the car or on the airplane or a train.  And you are traveling with a baby or a squirmy toddler. 

How do you leverage things to avoid a complete disaster?

First and foremost, accept the fact that it won’t be an easy gig. Even the most accomplished and well-prepared adults shiver with dread in this type of situation. But there are some things you can do to manage the situation.

It is a well-established fact that toddlers are happiest when engaged, so while you are planning your trip, you need to make some contingency plans. Most likely, you want some easy to carry activities, won’t be messy, and are not noisy. Take a look at these suggestions to see what will work for you.

Busy Books: There are all sorts of busy books for many different levels of development. “What is a busy book?” you query.  It is a book that has an exciting toddler or baby level activities built-in. Many busy books are self-contained and do not have any parts that could wander off. Some of the activities may include tying shoelaces, fastening belts, or zipping up zippers.

These everyday items fascinate toddlers as they are just learning to master all of these closures. However, busy books can be on almost any topic. And some are even simple enough for an older baby to enjoy.

Technology: If your child loves stories, songs, and other activities using touchpads, you might consider loading some age-appropriate distraction. It is also helpful if you can convince your toddler to wear earphones, so the annoying, repetitive music is heard by your child and no other adult sitting in close range. This model comes with a 2-year warranty against breakage.

Finger Puppets: These amazing little items are easily stored in a pocket, ready for action. But they can lead to many minutes of story time or independent play. Sometimes you can find sets on a certain theme such as the nativity, sharks, or people. This 20 piece set will seem new each time you select 1 or 2 to play with.

Busy Boards: These are usually somewhat larger and heavier than busy books, but they can fascinate some mini engineers for a long time as they try to open doors, use keys to unlock locks, or slide a blot to see inside a cupboard. There are many different versions from which to select.

Coloring: Personally, this option never worked for me as I had a very active toddler who loved building things. But I see many young kids fascinated with crayons, coloring books, and even plain paper. Start with a few colors and then trade the colors to add more interest. Sometimes a special book, such as a Christmas tale, will keep your toddler mesmerized.

Puzzles: These work well as long as there are not too many pieces to lose. Often the puzzle pieces are single objects that can be used in creative play. A puzzle with different vehicles can give many minutes of joy as your LO decides to play with each piece as if it were a toy.

Reusable Sticker Books: Sticker books are always a huge success. They are easy to use and build delightful scenes. You can find a range of topics to tickle the fancy of your precious. Even my craft despising son could be amused with the right sticker book. There are some on holiday themes.

Fidgets or Sensory Toys:  These are items that have been invented to catch anyone’s attention. You may have to experiment with which one is right for your child. Do they like the lava lamp imitation, or are they more interested in a fidget with moving parts? Are they likely to chew on the toy? Some fidgets suit that purpose as well.

A Harness: Really? Absolutely!  Parents find it useful, especially if your toddler is a wanderer. Your wanderer can have some freedom of movement, but you are tethered to your explorer to keep them safe. Just ignore any stares from the disapproving adults. They either have not had a toddler out in this situation, or they have forgotten how difficult it can be to contain the wandering spirit with grace.

Cuddly Stuffed Toy:  And if your toddler becomes sleepy, it is always great to have a friend to settle down with. This bear is made for sleep. Not only is it cuddly, but it plays soothing sounds, lullaby and has a mini light show for your young child. You will want to use this some time before your trip so your toddler can associate it with sleeping.

Other Hints

Build Independent Play Time: Before you leave for your trip, have your toddler practice independent playtime. You can even set a timer and say, I’ll be back in 10 minutes when the bell rings. Gradually lengthen the independent playtime.

Strategic Scheduling:  If at all possible, schedule the boring travel time at your child’s naptime or throughout the night. Take advantage of the natural sleep rhythm so your child can pass the time quietly, and you might even be able to get some rest, too, if you are traveling on a train, bus, or airplane.

Experiment Ahead of Time: You could try out some of the special activities to see if they engage your child. Let them interact with the finger puppets and busy books to see what works best. And when you find an activity that your toddler finds engaging, put that item away for the traveling date. Keep the novelty of the toy fresh for the traveling episode.

Get Physical: About an hour before your departure, plan for a very physical time with your toddler. Walk up and down the train station. Take them to the park before you get into your car. Race around the area before getting on the bus. Carry some balloons with you. Blow one up and play catch in the area while waiting for your plane.

Bribery:  Always carry snacks and liquids with you. Often toddlers can be amused with enjoying a favorite flavor. During this stressful time, it is not essential to worry about nutrition. You can offer attractive alternatives that would not usually be available. Does this sound like bribery? Sure, it is. If it works, you can use it sparingly.

Be Watchful:  Recognize the signs of boredom or discomfort early. It is much easier to settle a young one if they are not in a full meltdown. So, if you see any squirming or hear any disgruntled sounds, act quickly to change the environment somehow.

Interact:  Often, toddlers prefer to interact with their loved ones. They are easily entertained with a game of Peek a Boo, or Can you Find something red?  Make a list of favorite games that require no equipment for those tense moments. If these games fail,  then try something as lame as “Hey, look at that _______!”  There will likely be something in your view to amuse your toddler.

Mix It Up: Be prepared to switch up the activities to reduce boredom as the hours roll on by. Put away the old and bring out the new on a regular basis.

Now RELAX.  

You are prepared to enjoy your holiday.

Christmas, gifts, grandparents, Holidays, Preschool, presents, Toddler

Toddler Santa Letter: 10 Best Toddler Toys for Christmas

As a mom, I swear I can read my toddler’s mind. If my 2 years old could speak in sentences, here is what I am sure he would say to Santa in an email.

Photo by Mike Arney on Unsplash

Hi Santa

I saw you at the mall today, dressed up in your red suit. Your beard was very big, and I liked the way you laughed. I told you I wanted a puppy for Christmas, but I have been thinking about other ideas too. I have sent this email so you can start packing your sack for Christmas Eve.

I have been watching the kids across the street with their tricycle all summer long. That looks like a lot of fun. Mommy says she will be happy when I learn to ride a bike, so she won’t have to carry me to the park on a play date.  There are no pedals on this bike, so I’ll learn to ride it quickly. I’ll be able to take my puppy for a walk with it when the puppy is old enough to be on a leash. Mom helped me pick one out to show you.

LEGO is one of my favorite toys. I can now push the bricks together. But I have no LEGO people to ride in my car. I also wondered if they had a LEGO puppy too. I would love to play with a pet. There are some sets with all different kinds of people, just like the world I live in. My big sister has a lot of LEGO too, and I could share my friends with her when we have our BUILD IT time

Every day I watch my big sister pack up her backpack to get ready for school. She waits by the corner for the bus. I would like a green backpack because green is my favorite color and frogs are my favorite animals. My daddy cuts the grass with the same tractor.

Everyone in the family is talking about some squiggles on paper. The squiggles match my ABC song. To help me learn more about them, I could use a talking wall poster.  All I have to do is press in a spot, and the wall chart talks or sings. It also will play a game with me. Some of my favorite songs like “The Wheels on the Bus and the ABC song,” encourage me to sing along too. Mom likes this chart because it hangs on the wall and is never messy. I like to reach up and stretch for the surprises.

On Saturdays, we have a family BBQ, even in the winter. I like to watch my dad cook the burgers on the grill. I want to be just like my dad and cook my own burgers, too. It is fun for me to copycat what the adults do. Mom likes to keep me busy during cooking time, as she is always getting the rest of the meal ready and setting the table.

I watch my older brother and sister do their homework from school. I want to be like them with this coloring set; I can start to practice the skills to get ready for learning. The pictures are just the right size, and the honey wax crayons are soft, so I can leave my mark. Don’t worry, if I mark the walls, it will wash off easily.

Start me off with the letters in my name for the first adventure with reading. After all, I hear my name most often every day. When I learn that Brian begins with B, I can start to make sense of the letters. The capital letters are the easiest to recognize.

 Since I am still at the stage where I love to hide and seek, the tent and tunnel combination is a great way for me to exercise on those days when I cannot go outside. I’ll have fun crawling, throwing the balls, and hiding. Give mom a hint to hide a toy in the balls, so I have a reason to go digging. I love finding treasures.

What a surprise I will have when I see my very own Christmas tree full of lights. This is one that I can decorate over and over again. It will be a great keepsake for years to come and help me remember the previous seasons, too. And it is just my size. I see your face on the tree!

A Busy Book is a great way for mom and dad to keep me busy on the car trip to visit grandma and grandpa. It has many different activities inside. Mom likes it because it is very compact. I like it because there are so many different things to do. Mom and Dad only give it to me on special occasions, so I am always happy to play with it. It seems like a new exploration each time.

Merry Christmas Santa

I luv you


I’ll make sure that Mom puts milk and cookies out for you. I’ll get some carrots for the reindeer.

Christmas, Elementary School Kids, gifts, grandparents, Holidays, presents

10-Year-Old Gift Advice for Grandma

Hello my 10-year old Love of My Life

I am writing you this letter as a check-in for Christmas. I think I know what 10-year-old boys like, but I wouldn’t want to disappoint you. And you know how much Grandma cares about you.

So here goes my reverse wish list, and you can respond to it with a thumbs up or thumbs down.

There are many items on this list but don’t expect to find all of them under your tree. Grandpa and I will make a selection using your ratings.

A little bird, called your mother, let me know that you have grown so much since I last saw you that your bike is getting too small for your size. So, it is on the top of my list for you. But what type should I buy? This one comes in several different colors, but I know how much you favor pink. Do you want a racing bike built for the street, or is a mountain bike for trails more useful to you? Perhaps a gift certificate for the right store would solve this problem, and then you can select the bike of your dreams.

This one has an aluminum frame and disc brakes with suspension in the front forks. It is made by RoyalBaby.

But if a bike is not at the top of your list, I thought I could find some other gifts that would tickle your fancy.

How about a robotics kit? I hear that your older sister is using the kit I gave her last year, but she is reluctant to share it with you.

I have found a new kit that I thought you might like. It is the MakeBlock Ultimate Robot Kit. She has the MBot Robot. The new kit needs to be assembled, but the advantage is that it can easily be made into other robots. I understand that you are starting to learn to program at school. You can see from the pictures that you can make many different devices.

I found a cool video camera you can attach to your bike helmet or handlebars to take videos. And you can use it underwater, too.  When you go off on your scouting adventures, you could record the highlights of your week. I look forward to seeing what you are up to now and then.

When I was looking through the internet sites, I found a book with some parts to do some AMAZING things with the scads of LEGO blocks that you have.  It is called Chain Reactions. With the instructions and some of the kit pieces, you can build 8 chain reaction machines. But, of course, with your inventive mind, this kit could be turned into many wonderful devices—all diabolically clever, too.

I hear a lot about 3D printers, and I know your family doesn’t have one yet. I wondered if you would be interested in dabbling with this technology. I am not sure what you can make with it, but I am sure you will figure out something wildly pleasing.

You will need to save some of your allowance to pay for the filament it requires when the first one runs out. They have some with rainbow colors. I haven’t heard you talk about a wish for such a printer, but I thought I’d try and get you something you could experiment with. Then again, you might not need one as your school or library might have one you can use. 

As winter closes in on us, I thought you might like a way to get physical. I remember the fun we had as a family playing table tennis back when your mother was your age. I know that your space is limited, so I thought of a fold-up table tennis. Indeed, you will need paddles and an assortment of balls. It is a great way to spend some time with your close friends who are in your bubble. And the table will last for years. You can bet that when we can come for a visit, I expect to trounce you in our tournament.

I heard some kids in our apartment complex, talking about their drone and camera. I have never heard you talk about a drone before, but when I saw how excited these kids were over their drone, I wondered if you would like one also. I know you love technical gadgets, and this is one that you could use where you live as long as you were careful to take it to an open space. When we can go to the cottage, there will be plenty of opportunities to use it there.

So, these were the things I was considering, but I would love to hear any ideas you might have as well.  And if you have heard your sister’s wish for anything, I’d like to hear about that too. Sometimes a grandma has to have extraordinary sleuthing skills to be a successful Santa. For her, I was considering wireless earbuds as she spends so much time on her phone talking to her friends. Do you know if her phone is an Apple or Android? Or does that matter. Clearly, I need some help with this.

Luv you

Hugs and Kisses    (I know – mushy, too mushy)

Grandma and Grandad

Other Suggestions for a 10-year-old boy

See the New York Magazine

Christmas, Elementary School Kids, gifts, grandparents, Holidays, presents

Christmas Letter to Grandma: Grandaughter Greta

Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash

Hi Grandma

Mom is helping me write this letter to you. We added some pictures to help you find exactly what I was putting on “My Wish List”.

This week my teacher helped me write a letter to Santa to tell him about the toy I wanted most. And I had to ask Santa a question, too. So, I am going to do the same for you.

The toy I want most is a 2 wheel bike, all pink. But I think Santa has heard me, and he will be bringing that in his sleigh on Christmas night.

Mom tells me that you and gramps are not going away for Christmas, and we might get to see each other if the virus has not spread to our town. I am crossing my fingers and toes in hopes that will happen. 

I remember last Christmas when we Facebooked each other. You were in Florida with your friends, and we were getting ready for bed on Christmas Eve. We made chocolate chip cookies for Santa, and I ate one of them for you. We will be making more cookies for Santa, but this time you can eat your own cookie that we will make. Mom has some cookie cutters in the shape of trees, presents, stars, and Santa Claus. Do you have a favorite shape that I can decorate for you? We practiced yesterday, and here is our dish of the best cookies. I helped with the red icing.

Photo by Otto Espinal on Unsplash

So, here are some other things I want.  Mom helped me find some pictures on the internet so you could see what I want.

Now that I am getting older, mom says I can have some special things for girls. I’d really like to have rainbow hair, and there is a special kit to color my hair in different colors. It is called hair chalk. My friend Tracy showed me her hair on FaceTime. Her mother had to help her, but her hair was amazing. 

I love making things. And many of my friends have special friendship bracelets. I have some threads and beads, but I would love to have more. There are many types on the Internet but here is one I like.

At school, we are learning how to code on the computer. I have finished the Angry Bird game from Code.org, and I would love to have a real robot I can program. It is made in pink, just for girls. I can add some of my LEGO to make many different things. 

I’d also like some special pencil crayons. We are learning about Black Lives Matter, and I would like to have lots of choices for my drawings. 

Mom has some ideas for you, too. 

Since I like to read, she suggests a subscription to the National Geographics for kids. I love finding out facts about our world. Last year, I read all about earthquakes at school and decided to do a science project, too. It would be fun to get a present every month in the mail.

Once a week, we have games night, and I would like a new game to play. When we looked at the games, this one sounded like fun. Mom likes it too because it will help me learn about financial literacy. It is called Monopoly – Ultimate Banking. It has a machine, and you can tap your card to buy things. How cool is that!

And since I love reading so much, mom thinks a Rebekah set of girl Detective books would be just the thing for our every night reading time.

That is a lot of things to choose from. But I know how much you like shopping. I guess you will be doing most of it online since you have a rule that you only go outside of your house when you have to. You want to be safe from the virus. And we want you to be safe as well.

I have a special surprise for you and Papa. It is hard to keep a secret about what it is. But I know you will like the taste.

See you soon



hugs and kisses

PS   Baby Lee gives kisses and hugs.

Christmas, Holidays, Physical Activity, Play, teens

Christmas Gift Ideas – 13 year-old Grandson

Memo to Grandma

Photo by Brennan Martinez on Unsplash

Hi Grandma

Did you know it’s only 40 more shopping days until Christmas?  Time goes by fast in the Pandemic!  NOT.

I haven’t heard from you in a while through Facetime, but I thought I would help you get started on your Christmas shopping by letting you know about a few things I’d really like this year.  

Don’t you wish that all your grandkids could be so helpful as to give you a list?  After all, Santa gets a list, and he has millions of lists to compare, so he knows what is on everyone’s minds this year.

Relax. I have you covered, Grandma.

All teens like money and gift cards. But that is the old reliable, standby gift. If you want to really impress this year, seriously consider items from these categories I have developed for boys my age.

I know that it is pretty hard to beat our gift from last year – a trip to Disney Land. But since we are all committed to staying at home as much as possible,  I have these great ideas for you. 

I have also checked a few items with my cousins, Charlie and Samir. They are in total agreement. So, before you order those joke socks, take a look at these suggestions.


I know you use technology when you have to, but technology is melded to our lifestyle for our generation. So, any lit tech gifts are much appreciated.

1) Drone with a Camera – Many of the drones come with recommendations for kids over 14, and I am your oldest grandchild at 13 years old. Here’s something you need to know. Drones that are smaller than 0.55 lbs do not need to be registered, and therefore this is the best type of drones for kids. Also, it is advisable to always have the drone in eyesight. I can help you explain that to my cousins if you decide on this sic gift.

2) Remote controlled car, truck, boat: These are a safer option for some of my younger cousins, but I’d be pleased with them also. 

3) Build Your Own Robots Kit: All the cousins have scads of LEGO, but we don’t have any kits to make robots. Any sort of these kits would keep us busy for hours and add to our engineering abilities.

4) Rocket Building Sets:  You know how much I like to make things explode. A rocket building kit would channel my inner desire and teach me a thing or two about science.

Laugh It Off 

Kids Against Maturity Game: I have played this game at my friend’s house, and it is hilarious. I’d like to share this with my cousins just as soon as we can get together. We could also have a ZOOM session to play the game, if a couple of us had copies of it.

Ways to Visit My Friends

1) Bicycle: I have a bicycle that I got for my 11th birthday, but now I would like one with more options. My parents have told me that the old bike is still serviceable for me to get around town. But I disagree. You and I could talk about what would be suitable for me. Or maybe a gift card for the local bike store would be a way to solve this issue. Then I could get the exact bike I like.

2) Motorized Scooter: Wouldn’t it be great to see me zooming around the neighborhood on a motorized scooter? I would be able to cover distances without much effort. And an electric one would mean I wouldn’t have to buy gas.

Mini Entrepreneur

You know that I am interested in starting my own business as I love to spend money. My allowance never seems big enough. I heard that several eBooks could help me get some ideas. Perhaps Gramps has the time to help me plan a way to make money in my neighborhood. 

Along with some information, I could also use the tools I would need to start a yard service for my neighbors. I could earn some cash throughout the winter if only I had my own snow shovel and ice chipping tool. And for the summer, a lawnmower and bush clippers would allow me to offer summer care as well.

Cell Phone Accessories

Since almost all of your grandkids have a cell phone, they need some accessories. There are some GOAT belts that have a window for easy texting. It is unlikely that we will leave our phones behind if we have a place for them.

And How About Those Stocking Stuffers?

Now you may be wondering about stocking stuffers. Last year you made such a big hit with the hilarious games you found!   How can you top that this year?  How about . . .

1) LED Bike Wheel Lights with Batteries Included!  All your grandkids love riding bikes, and when we go on night rides, we will have the dopest wheels around.

2) Wireless earbuds . . .   because we need them!

3) A cell phone stand holder is a great idea for when we are at home and want to talk to you.

4) Trick Yoyo:  We love to keep busy, and this is easy to carry with us. 

Hey, my favorite grandma, take a look at my suggestions. I am sure there is something in this list that will tug at your heartstrings and fit your pocket-book.

Your favorite grandson,


PS   – Don’t tell my parents about this list. I sent them the same one, as they are clueless about finding things I like.

Education, Phonics, Preschool, Reading, Toddler

How Do I Teach Alphabet Letters? Use the Best 7 Types of Resources

There are many different resources to teach the alphabet letters. How do I know which ones are the best for learning the alphabet? How many letters in the alphabet should I teach at one time?

Little girl sorting alphabet letters into a can. She is learning how many letters are in the alphabet.

Take a look at these suggestions for some top rated strategies.

Table of Contents

    1 Try Media for Teaching Alphabet Letters

    What are the great apps and programs for learning the alphabet?  

    Elmo Loves the ABCs: You can expect quality learning opportunities with Sesame Street products. Since many of the younger set are familiar with the shows and characters, they are ready to engage in these entertaining activities: songs, videos and games. Just as you would expect a whole gambit of learning is embedded in the fun. Your young one will learn letter names, letter sounds and how to form the letters. 

    Starfall ABCs: Some sections of Starfall are free and the alphabet area is one of them. In this interactive environment, your LO can explore the letters while also hearing the sound of the letters.  The full program supports many aspects of learning to read.

    Tracing and Phonics ABCS: The app introduces the letters and sounds with colorful images. The tracing option helps kids how to form the letters intuitively. Rewards for right answers keep your LO engaged.


    Teach Your Monster to Read: Teach Your Monster to Read is a free program out of Great Britain, funded by the Usborne Foundation, that will tickle your LO’s funny bone while helping them learn how to read. There is an adventure game for exploration and maximum engagement.
    But also there are 3 apps to practice skills more intensively from learning initial songs, to  blending to reading simple books.

    2 Alphabet Games

    Alphabet Slap Jack: You can play the matching pair Slap Jack game or a number of other games such as Fish or Concentration with these cards. If your LO is just starting out learning the names or sounds of the letters, limit the number  of cards you select to play the games and then gradually add in the letters as they get familiar with them.

    Alphabet Bingo: The Bingo cards are on a 4 by 4 grid and include the capital letter, a picture clue and the name of the picture printed with the small letters.  The instructions help you modify the game to increase the difficulty. No boring worksheets needed.

    Magnetic Alphabet Fishing Game: This kinesthetic game with magnets is bound to captivate a young child’s interest. Each fish has a capital and a small letter. Your LO will learn the letters in order to catch the fish. 

    3 Alphabet Puzzles

    The Learning Journey: Jumbo Floor Puzzles – Alphabet: The sturdy puzzle pieces have colourful pictures to aid with the identification of the sounds of the letters. At the bottom of the puzzle is the alphabet so your child can see what letter comes next. The oversized floor puzzle pieces are easy for small hands to handle.


    Fun-to-Know® Puzzles: Uppercase & Lowercase Alphabet: These puzzle pieces come in pairs and are really 2 puzzles in one. On one side your kids can match the big letters with the small and on the other side is a corresponding picture and words to match.

    Learn & Write Phonics: The puzzle consists of wooden rectangles with a picture of an object and the letters mapped out for the kids to match. This game can be used in a modified manner to learn the initial letters of words. Then parents can add all of the letters for these short words to the puzzle. When starting out pull out 3 or 4 puzzle pieces with the correct first letters for your toddler to match. Then as they become more proficient, add more to the puzzle.

    Learning Resources Alphabet Soup Sorters: This resource can be classified as a game or puzzle. It consists of 26 soup cans filled with the letters and pictures to represent the sounds. One piece of advice is to start with only a limited number of cans to begin your exploration of letters. You can even group the cans according to the recommended way to teach the sounds. s, a, t, i, p, n  then c, k, e, h, r., then m, d, g, o then l, f, b, q, u then  j, z, w and finally v, y, x.  
    Research shows that your very first letter should be the first letter of your child’s name as they are 7.5 times more likely to recognize this letter above all other letters. Then you can follow the order above.

    4 ABC Songs

    There are many alphabet songs on YouTube. I have included some that appeal to me but you can search for ones you like as well.

    Teach Your Monster to Read Songs: Along with the fabulous games, there are songs for the letters of the alphabet. Impressively the songs are not listed in alphabetical order but in the order that is recognized for easy learning. “S” leads the pack with “Y” at the end. There are only 22 songs instead of 26 because it is not necessary to study all of the letter sounds as the missing letters are not used that often and can be picked up casually.


    Phonics Song by the Preschool Prep Company: The letters are presented in order but the song also includes the sounds of the letters. And letters with different sounds such as g for giraffe and g for guitar have the 2 sounds presented as well.

    Jolly Phonics A to Z: In this series of songs, the individual letters are clearly separated so you can work on a letter at a time. Therefore, it is quite easy to start with “s” as your beginning letter study and learn the sound to accompany “s”. The melody of the alphabet letter song is based on some well-known tunes. Here is the order again: s, a, t, i, p, n  then c, k, e, h, r., then m, d, g, o then l, f, b, q, u then  j, z, w and finally v, y, x.

    5 Alphabet Storybooks

    This is the old standby way of teaching the alphabet. There are quality books that cover the entire alphabet and there are books for each letter. If you are having difficulty with specific letters, you might be successful with the individual letter books. You may be surprised by the variations that now exist.

    AlphaTales Box Set: In this set each the 26 letters is highlighted in an easy to read book with delightful pictures. Since the books are individual, you are free to start with any letter. The latest research suggests starting with the first letter of your child’s name. And then follow a specific order that has been shown to be effective: s, a, t, i, p, n  then c, k, e, h, r., then m, d, g, o then l, f, b, q, u then  j, z, w and finally v, y, x. At the end of the book is a rhyme to reinforce the letter sound.

    Non-Fiction Alphabet Readers Parent Pack: Research has shown that boys are often more interested in non-fiction texts over storybooks. You may find that these books will work well for you. Each of the 26 books highlights a letter. There is also a mini activity book to accompany the set.

    6 Alphabet Fun Resources

    Coolplay A-Z 26 Alphabet Water Cards: These are almost a magic alphabet set. With the waterfilled pen, your toddler can scribble the picture into life. And when the card dries it disappears for another time of surprise. All of the cards are linked together so you can easily transport them. Take them with you for exploration while you drive in the car. Again it is advisable to limit the cards when starting out learning the alphabet letters and sounds.

    Magnetic Letters and Numbers + Matching A-Z Objects: This set will be useful for years. You can start with the alphabet and then expand into rhyming words and spelling the words. The foldable board is surrounded by the alphabet for locating the exact letter need

    Interactive Alphabet Wall Chart: This interactive game like wall chart will entertain your child and spur them to spend more time learning the letters of the alphabet. It has several other options including,  piano mode, quiz and spelling to explore as well.

    7 Play

    101 Ways to Teach the Alphabet: A Hands-On Approach to Learning Letters and Sounds Through Play: And if you need an inspiration about how to make learning fun, try this book full of ideas to turn teaching into play.


    Workbooks – Not

    Your child will learn more about the letters and sounds by these methods than hours of phonics sheets from workbooks. You can use the sheets on occasion but a toddler responds with more enthusiasm for other methods of learning. Try some of these suggestions for great results!

    Related Reads

    Simple as ABC: Learn the Alphabet – Best Practices: Use these research-based practices to help you LO learn the alphabet. You can make the whole process a lot easier with these guidelines. Where to start and how to proceed.

    How to Select a Phonics Program: 5 Criteria    Start prereading skills early. See which phonics programs have the options you want when your LO is ready to start learning how to read.

    How Do I Teach my Preschooler to Read? Parents get some advice from an expert teacher for helping your young child learn about reading. 

    Testimonial: Hira Adnan – thanku its really considerable.     Andrew Sarah DeVries – a lot of useful information is included in this article… A LOT. 

    Parenting, Phonics, Preschool, Reading, Toddler, Uncategorized

    Simple as A B C: Learn the Alphabet – Best Practices

    created by brgfx – www.freepik.com

    Learning the alphabet letters is the foundation for learning to read.  It is a fact that knowledge of the alphabet often predicts later success in the ability to read. 

    And reading is the method many people use to learn concepts from the simplest to the most complicated. Many parents worry needlessly over their child’s progression for this task, as success may take some time. 

    The Story of L

    After 20 times of pointing out that your child’s name starts with “L” and little Leo still doesn’t seem to understand, it is easy to be discouraged. But what parents may not realize is that it could take up to 200 repetitions to solidify the concept. And this is especially true if this is the first letter you try to introduce. You may not realize what you are doing is almost a leap of faith on your child’s part.

    Photo by Ryan Fields on Unsplash

    They need to recognize that the squiggle on the paper has meaning. The squiggles are so unlike their standard method of communication – talking.

    As a parent, you need to relax and keep repeating the story of “L” (as well as different letters) in many different ways until the message is understood. Repetition in interesting ways does work. However, dull, monotonous repetition does not.

    It is significant that “L” is for Leo. 
    But “L” has many stories to tell. It is for the brave lion in the storybook read last night. It is also “L” for lemon tarts that your child loves so much. You can make a capital “L” using your left hand and pointy finger. It is also the delightful smell of lilacs that bloom in the back of the yard. It is far more interesting and effective to have your child use their senses to associate with letter sounds. You can try using the coloring and identification pages, but you will have more success with experiential learning. Of course, you will need to introduce the symbols for “L,  l,” but associating the sounds with tangible objects is very powerful. 
    You do not need set lessons about “L,” but the teacher (read parent) needs a mindset to point out every “L” in the immediate vicinity. It could be the ladder that daddy uses to fix the roof or the lightening in the rainstorm, or the lace on mommy’s blouse.  You could even point to the large sign that says, “Lucy’s Corner Store.” L seems to be everywhere.

    After many repetitions, Leo will finally understand the association of the letter to the sound it makes. At that point you can start to associate the sound and letter of “L” to instances in print.

    How fortunate that you decided on the name “Leo” as that name choice has made teaching the first letter of the alphabet much easier. The sound that “L” makes is in its name.  If you had decided on Charlie instead of Leo, your job would have been much more difficult. The “C” in Charlie has to be combined with the “h” to make the “ch.” Sometimes “C” is a hard sound such as in “candy,” and sometimes it is a soft sound such as in “ice.” The letter “C” can be so confusing!

    What’s in a Name?

    You might be wondering why I started with your child’s name. Why didn’t I start with “A” as it is the first letter of the alphabet?  Current research affirms that the beginning sound or letter of your child’s first name is an ideal place to start. Did you know that children are 7.5 times more likely to know the letter of their first initial, according to a scientific study, Pivotal Research in Early Literacy? And even better, if the name has an easier letter with which to begin.

    It only makes sense to many people that children would be partial to their own name. After all, they have heard their name many more times than most other words. It is easier to start with the familiar when teaching something as abstract as a symbolic system of letter recognition. 

    The Name of the Letters or the Sound?

    There have been many debates about which system is more important. Do you teach the name of the letters or the sound the letters make? Experts have solid arguments for both strategies.
    But this same study confirmed that whether you start with the letter names, as in the ABC song, or the sounds of the letters doesn’t substantially make a difference. Interestingly, in the US, parents tend to teach the letter names, and in the UK, they tend to teach the sounds of the letters.

    Capital Letters or Small Letters

    It is easier for kids to recognize the capital letters as opposed to the small letters as capitals are graphically more unique from each other. Anyone who has run into the “b” and “d” confusions can attest to this phenomenon.

    As a veteran teacher of small kids, I prefer that parents familiarize their kids with the small letters of the alphabet as those are the “meat and potatoes” of reading.  You do not need to begin with the small letters, but by the time your child is ready to go to kindergarten, it is important that he or she is familiar with all of the small letters. Research does validate that the kids who know capital letters first had better retention of small letters. 

    Where to Start?

    Start with the first letter of your child’s name, even if it is a tricky letter. Familiarity trumps almost everything else in introducing an entirely new form of communication. Your young child knows talking. Now you are introducing something far less concrete.  

    No, no, no – Not a Letter a Week Approach

    It would seem to the adult mind that focusing on a letter a week just makes sense. But that is not the best way to learn the alphabet. Not every letter deserves an intense focus on it. Your focus on the letters should be proportional to their importance. E is the most frequent letter in the English language, and q is the least infrequent. Spend more time on letters that have more significance. Some lowercase letters are very confusing because the shape is the same, but the orientation is different. Consider these pairs: b–d; p–q; u–n. Many kids also confuse n with m because they look so similar. Don’t get discouraged if your child has some difficulty in distinguishing the differences. Other kids confuse s with 2. Some kids are 7 or 8 years old before they stop confusing these letters in their writing.  

    So,  spend more time with letters that are difficult or used more in the English language. Take less time with uncommon letters and letters your child learns quickly.  

    An Alphabetical Approach- NOT

    Any set of exercises that starts at A and ends with Z is not based on the latest research for instruction. You can use these materials if you rearrange the order of the letters and intensify instruction for the most important letters. 
    Any program that introduces a letter a week does not do justice because some letters require more instruction because they are complicated. All of the vowels fall under this category as they have at least 2 different sound associations – short sound like “e” in egg and long sound like “e” in easy. Then there are times when “e” is silent, but it makes another letter change its sound, such as “e” in cape. 

    Programs that are organized to teach your child the letters and sounds may have a slightly different order of letters, but they do start with the letters that are easier to learn and are also used in many 3 letter words. You can easily find different organizations through a Google search. Then you can select the program that best suits your child’s needs.

    However, “s” is often a beginning letter to investigate (after your child’s name) because it has a very distinctive sound and is used in many words. You will find many picture books that emphasize this letter.

    Letter Recognition, Print Awareness, and Beginning Writing – All at the Same Time

    Another critical aspect of learning the ABCs is linking the letters or their sounds to print. You should be looking for letters in a book, in the world around your child, and in writing letters to spell words. These 3 approaches scaffold the reading process.
    Books that have a repeated letters are great for a letter hunt. 

    In the environment, you can look for “H” as it signals a hospital. Or the STOP on the red sign means that mommy must stop the car. All of these letters in your environment can become useful tools for teaching the alphabet.

    Start your child writing the first letter of their name. Add the consonant letters next and finally slip in the vowels. Let your child scribble and tell you about the story they have written. That is a significant, positive step in development. They may progress to invented spelling for words such as using grf for giraffe. 

    So, learning the letters, recognizing them in printed text, in the world around them, and using the letters to communicate are very valuable steps in the reading-writing process. Each activity adds meaning to the other.

    A Recap for an Evidence-Based Approach to Teaching the ABC’s

    • Child’s Name: One very successful place to start with is the first letter of your child’s name, especially if it is a letter that has a similar or identical sound and name. Some of those letters are more suitable for teaching than others A for Adrian (but not for Alyssa), C for Carlie (but not for Charlie), G for George (but not for Gregory), etcetera. But even if your child has a less desirable first letter, I would start there anyway as familiarity will be more important than exact sound matching.
    • CAPITAL LETTERS: You can use the capital letters for first teaching the recognition of the letters.  However, every primary teacher will be supportive of teaching small letters by kindergarten age.
    • Experiences: Focus on experiential learning and not worksheets or dull practice of the sounds. A caveat here. Some kids like to have worksheets, just like big brother or sister. You can effectively use those phonic pages, but don’t insist the pages get completed if their interests wander.
    • Look for the Print: Alphabet instruction is enhanced when it is also linked to print –  in the environment, in writing, and in the books you read to children. 

    Here’s what to Teach to your LO before Going to Kindergarten

    The process of acquiring these skills will be haphazard. It is not necessary to start at any one point, but it is necessary to cover these skills for a successful beginning to school.

    Developing Comprehension Skills

    • Enjoy hearing stories and singing songs
    • Understand the meaning of stories.
    • Be able to tell what happened in the story – beginning, middle, and end

    Developing Letter and Phonetic Skills

    • Sing or say the alphabet
    • Identify most of the uppercase and lowercase letters
    • Match uppercase letters to lowercase
    • Identify rhyming words
    • Know the sounds that the letters make
    • Write some of the letters
    • Write their name and know the letters in their name

    Mathematical  Knowledge

    • Count to 10
    • Recognize number patterns  – the patterns  look like what is on dice 
    • Sizing  – bigger and smaller objects, longer and shorter, taller and shorter, heavier and lighter
    • Names of commons shapes  – 3D, e.g., cube, ball,    and 2D, e.g., square, circle, triangle, 
    • Progression of time  – sooner and later, day and night,  before and  after