Bring Calmness and Clarity to your Kids- Bring them to the Water

Have you had a chance to spend any time near the water this summer? If you’re like my family, a trip to the beach isn’t in the cards this year. But I’ve found relaxation and a recharge by taking walks along the river. And there’s science behind my feelings of calmness and clarity. You benefit– mentally, emotionally and physically, when you spend time near, in or around the water. It can help you and your child feel more calm, more connected, more inspired.

St Croix

St Croix River, St Stephen, NB

I grew up surrounded by water— on the St. Croix River, with The Bay of Fundy right around the bend. I miss it, and definitely feel the positive affects of being close to it again when I come home.

Carolyn Gregoire  writes in Huffpost US about the calming creative affects we experience when we are near a body of water. We’ve been turning to water for its calming affects from Roman times; where baths were used for relaxation, to today; enjoying everything from a trip to the lake to a soothing bath.   https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/mental-benefits-water_n_5791024

Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist, believes that we all have a “blue mind” — as he puts it, “a mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peacefulness, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment” — that’s triggered when we’re in or near water.

Nichols says that our brains are hardwired to react positively to water. Being near it can calm and connect us, increase innovation and insight, and even heal what’s broken.

Blue Mind   Nichols writes in Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected,  

and Better at What You Do  that “being around water gives our brains and our senses a rest from overstimulation.” When we’re near, on, in or under water, we get a cognitive break because there’s simply less information coming in.

Nichols goes on to say that water can induce a meditative state and can inspire us to be more compassionate and connected. And in his book Nichols shows the science behind the theory that exercising by, or in water, benefits both our bodies and our brains.

So whenever you can swing it, enjoy a walk with your child, along a beach, by the river, or near a lake. This can be an incredibly affective way to calm an anxious mind or jumpy body.

And here are three of my favourite books where water is the backdrop to a summer experience.

 

Dear Mr Blueberry Dear Mr. Blueberry by Simon James

A little girl and her teacher correspond over the summer about the a whale named Arthur.

https://www.amazon.com/Dear-Blueberry-Aladdin-Picture-Books/dp/0689807686

 

ocean meets sky_ Ocean Meets Sky by Eric Fan and Terry Fan

A little boy finds the spot his Grandfather told him about— where ocean meets sky.

Town is by the Sea Town is by the Sea by Joanne Schwartz and Sydney Smith

Spend a day in the life of a child, who’s town is by the sea.

Town Is by the Sea

 

 

Top 5 Back-to-School Picture Books that Ease Anxiety and Promote a Positive Attitude

 

There is no way around it- whether you have a little one starting school for the first time, or a child heading back to those first few grades, starting school is an anxiety inducer. But your positive attitude towards the situation (and some great picture books) can alleviate the stress and help pump up your child’s confidence and optimism about school.

 

  1. 618RPzbO2WL._SX389_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg Pete the Cat, Rocking in my School Shoes, by Eric Litwin and James Dean https://www.amazon.ca/Pete-Cat-Rocking-School-Shoes/dp/0061910244

This is a fun easy read that shows children there are lots of great spots in school, and it’s ‘all good’!

 

  1.  51q9Smmke-L._SX402_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgWemberly Worried, by Kevin Henkes https://www.amazon.ca/Wemberly-Worried-Kevin Henkes/dp/0061857769/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1472559642&sr=1-1&keywords=Wemberly+Worried

You think you’re worried about school- well Wemberly worries about everything! How will she handle her first day? This is one of my absolute favorites! It provides support, understanding, encouragement and inspiration.

 

  1. willow_s_whispers.jpg Willow’s Whispers, by Lana Button and Tania Howells https://www.amazon.ca/Willows-Whispers-Lana-Button/dp/1554537444/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1472560178&sr=1-1&keywords=Willow%27s+Whispers

When Willow is at school her words come out as soft and shy as a secret. But not for long! Willow will inspire young ones to use their own big strong voice in school. This story also builds inclusiveness and empathy for every voice in the class.

 

  1. 61f83lXiPDL._SX439_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg Franklin Goes to School by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark https://www.amazon.ca/Franklin-Goes-School-Paulette-Bourgeois/dp/1771380101/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1472560561&sr=1-1&keywords=franklin+goes+to+school

So many emotions swirling around that first day! Even the children who can’t wait to start might find themselves anxious when it’s time to actually head off. This story allows lots of dialogue regarding the realm of emotions we go through when starting school, and illustrates once more, that we are heading off to a great spot filled with lots of new experiences and adventures.

 

  1. 51n2oEIWNQL._SX495_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers https://www.amazon.ca/Day-Crayons-Quit-Drew-Daywalt/dp/0399255370/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1472560981&sr=1-1&keywords=the+day+the+crayons+quit

…because, hey, when you’re anxious, you need a good laugh! And I love the message that we have the freedom to think outside the box and create new and exciting things— that’s the fresh start opportunity waiting for your child at school— like a brand new box of crayons!

 

So listen to your child when they tell you about their back-to-school anxieties. Don’t dismiss those feelings. Acknowledge that these are very understandable emotions that will go away in time. And fess up to your child that many of us are feeling the same way during this annual stress-filled transition. But while you remain supportive, concentrate your words, your body language and your attitude on the positive exciting aspects and opportunities of school. Hang on! In a few weeks, we will all be in the swing of things!

 

 

 

Common Core- Meet Inquiry Based Story Time!

 

In a recent Open Book Blog entitled Compare and Contrast with the Common Core in Kindergarten, http://networkedblogs.com/TcvVz Jill Eisenberg compares the 8 page level A reader MEAT PIES by Celenia Chevere and Patricia M. Hubert (about a boy who makes Empanadas with his grandmother) with the 8 page level C reader TIME FOR TACOS by Carla Golembe  (about a boy who makes tacos with his dad.) Eisenberg describes how to dissect these two stories in order to meet the common core curriculum of comparing and contrasting.  Can I make another suggestion?

Story time is an excellent opportunity to compare and contrast text. There are tons of terrific picture books just begging to be used in a ‘compare and contrast’ manner!

Have you shared HOW COLD WAS IT? by Jan Barclay, yet?Image http://books.google.ca/books/about/How_Cold_Was_It.html?id=jy2XbiWp5cEC&redir_esc=y

 Imagine the fun of comparing the scenes with such extreme weather contrast, when you then share her story, HOW HOT WAS IT?  Imagehttp://www.amazon.ca/How-Hot-Was-Jane-Barclay/dp/1894222709

I guarantee you’ll not only cover your common core literacy comparison and contrast, these two picture books will spark conversation, exploration and inquiry into temperature that will cover many math and science strands as well.

I love to compare and contrast different versions of folk and fairy tales. I’ve started with the classic Little Golden Book, LITTLE RED HEN by Diane Mudrow,Image http://www.amazon.com/The-Little-Red-Golden-Book/dp/0307960307

and then introduced another version of the storyImage

http://www.amazon.ca/The-Little-Red-Paul-Galdone/dp/0899193498

The children love identifying the similarities and differences of each version.  And they become very excited when yet another version is discovered.Image

http://www.harpercollinschildrens.com/books/Little-Red-Hen-Byron-Barton/?isbn13=9780060216757&tctid=100

I’ve invited children to look through their fairy tale collections at home and bring in a version if they have one. We’ve charted the differences in the versions told (ie, sometimes the little red hen has chicks, sometimes she doesn’t. Sometimes her friends are a dog, cat and rat, sometimes they are a duck, pig and dog etc.) And with all this talk about bread- we just had to bake bread one day!  So not only are you covering your common core comparison and contrasting of the key ideas and details of each story, the structure, and the relationship between illustration and print in each story, you are adding the language, math and science exploration of reading the recipe and baking the bread.

And can you imagine the excitement when we found a version where the Little Red Hen and her friends live in a high-rise apartment in the middle of the city, and she’s making pizza!Image

 http://www.amazon.ca/The-Little-Red-Makes-Pizza/dp/0142301892

We were going to town, comparing the ingredients of these two items. (and the pizzas we ended up making were delicious!)

Introduce some felt pieces to your felt board, some puppets to your theatre, and suddenly children are telling (and eventually writing) their own creative version of the Little Red Hen.

 

If your children like the latest Jon Klassen story, THIS IS NOT MY HATImage

http://www.amazon.com/This-Is-Not-My-Hat/dp/0763655996

about a tiny fish who has swiped someone’s hat, they will have a blast comparing and contrasting that story with Klassen’s  original, I WANT MY HAT BACKImage

http://www.amazon.ca/I-Want-My-Hat-Back/dp/0763655988 which has the same visual dead-pan humor but is told through the eyes of the ‘victim’, as apposed to the ‘perpetrator’.

Part of our job, as educators, is to be greats story tellers. We need to guide children through stimulating conversation regarding the stories they hear. (Think of yourself as the leader of your very young book club.) When we invite children to make connections and identify comparisons in a picture book, we provide an opportunity for each child to make a deeper connection with the book. This does so much more than cover curriculum; this plants the seed for a lifelong love of reading.