Monday, February 13, 2023
Welcome back, everyone!
Did the team you were rooting for win, in yesterday's big game?
Either way, we hope you and your loved ones had a great time celebrating!
(Little D makes the cutest cheerleader, doesn't she?)
Thanks to those of you who reached out to let us know
that you found one or more of our Game’s On suggestions helpful!
We love hearing from our readers!
Tomorrow is 💗 day and so we are devoting one more blog post to this topic,
although with a bit of a twist!
Valentine’s Day celebrates love and caring,
so what better time is there than now to teach our Littles about kindness!
(While this activity works especially well during this time of year,
please know that It’s a message that can be shared with Littles ANY time!
Today, Laura recalls a powerful message
she’d share with her kindergarten class each year!
Then, as a Grand, she’ll offer ways to adapt these ideas
and use them as teachable moments with our Littles!
Before I begin, I need to pause for a moment
and share these photos from a year ago!
That day was filled with cuddles from this smiley valentine!
Such a sweet memory!
While we won’t be together on Valentine’s Day, I won’t have to wait too long!
Thankfully, more snuggles with Little L are coming later this week!
Each September, when a new school year began, one of the first lessons I would teach to my kindergartners was a story I would tell, loosely based on a folktale from long ago.. When telling my version of the story, A Wrinkled Heart, I typically personalized it each year, using our class and surroundings while doing so. I had a prop - a large red paper heart that I used as I told this story. The gist of A Wrinkled Heart was that it followed one student throughout his/her day and every time someone in the story said something hurtful to the child - “your coat is ugly” or “that idea is stupid” or “your sandwich looks gross” - I’d crumple up a small part of the paper heart.. The kindergartners would gasp with each crumple and as I continued to tell the story the red paper heart eventually became a squashed ball of red!
At this point, as a class, we’d talk about the crumpled heart and how the child in the story must have been feeling at this point. We shared times in our lives when we might have felt the same way and then we’d brainstorm ways to make that child feel better! With each idea shared - “I love your smile” or “good answer” or “your lunch looks yummy” I’d uncrumple the heart until it was fairly smoothed out. The kindergartners quickly noticed though, that while the heart now looked like a heart, it was still wrinkled! A discussion followed that, while we had tried our best to make the child in the story feel better with our kind words, we’d never be able to fix it completely… the wrinkles would always be there! Story time ended with us deciding that we’d always do our best to never wrinkle someone else’s heart!! Each child glued a small heart onto the big wrinkled one and we'd post that heart in our classroom, referring to it often throughout the year! It really helped set the tone for our year together and the expectation that kindness counts!
While I knew that many teachers also shared a similar story with their students, it wasn’t until recently that I discovered that this folktale had been adapted and published!
In Tracy Hoexter’s book, A Wrinkled Heart, a young bunny named Elliott wakes up and is excited to start a new day! At breakfast, he spills his milk and he gets scolded. Soon, Elliot’s heart starts to wrinkle. When he gets to school, his classmates say unkind things, and his heart wrinkles a bit more. Later, his friends and family apologize for their hurtful words and try to take the wrinkles out. While Elliott feels better, a few wrinkles remain. Elliot learns to always be careful with his words so he doesn't wrinkle anyone else’s heart!
(HINT - Read on for fun ways to share this story with your own Littles!)
The importance of kindness, friendship and the Golden Rule are crucial lessons for us all, especially in today’s world. In my kindergarten classroom, we spent LOTS of time and energy devoted to each - I always felt that it was one of the most valuable and long lasting lessons I could share with the children I taught.
Now, as a Grand, my focus has changed a bit but the sentiment is the same! I’m always looking for ways to support our own Middles in their role as parents and, at the same time, nurture social emotional learning and especially kindness with the Littles around me! Little L is only a year old and developmentally not yet able to fully understand feelings and how they impact others. Similarly, toddlers like her can often be very focused on me and mine. However, there are still many ways for us as Grands to “plant seeds” as our Littles grow and learn more about the world around them and how to respond to it!
Here are some ongoing ways in which we can help our littlest Littles
develop a foundation for choosing kindness!
💕 Build a “Feelings Vocabulary” with Your Littles!
Teach feeling words through our conversations! Beginning in infancy, even before your Little is verbal, you can validate their feelings (“Oh, you’re crying… you must be sad”) and at the same time, model future ways for them to express themselves! As your Littles get older, you can suggest feeling words for them to use (“I just saw you throw your crayon. Are you feeling mad?”) Reassure your Little that you are there to listen!
💕 Read Books About Feelings to Your Littles!
There is such an amazing selection of books available to read to your Littles… and don’t forget that you can begin reading to your Littles as soon as they are born! Children can experience a variety of emotions through the characters in books! I’m always impressed with how much they take in! Here’s a few of our favorite board and picture books:
💕 Model Kindness and Compassion Wherever and Whenever You Can!
I’m always reminded of the saying, “The children are watching…” From the time they are babies, our Littles will watch how we treat others and since they are often eager to copy us, our actions are extremely important! Treating people around us with love and kindness - making eye contact, saying “thank you,” offering help - demonstrates kindness in tangible ways! If you have older Littles, share a volunteer experience with them!
💕 Use Inclusive Language Whenever Possible!
When our little ones use words like me and mine, we can counteract by using the words we and us! A simple switch in phrasing can make a big difference!
💕 Encourage Your Littles’ Kind Actions!
Sometimes it takes courage to be kind! Be sure to recognize and applaud your Littles in those situations! As your Littles age, share your own experiences of choosing kindness in difficult moments with them, too!
💕 Use Imaginative Play!
Your Littles can practice kindness and compassion in their pretend play! Asking “What would that feel like?” helps your Littles understand that others may look at the world differently.
💕 Be Honest! Being Kind Can Be Hard Work!
Sometimes it’s hard to be kind! We all have strong emotions at times! When that happens, be sure to validate those feelings! If your Littles are older, you can also focus on what can be done differently next time! Honestly share with your Littles times when you have needed to reevaluate in order to choose kindness!
💕 Simply Put… Love Your Littles!
Kindness also means letting your Littles know that there is enough praise, attention and love to go around! When your Littles are secure in your love it is much easier to share that joy with others! Hug away!!!
The book, A Wrinkled Heart, appears to currently be available only as an e-book, through Amazon (Kindle) or Itunes (iPad). It’s an engaging read-along, with fun narration and sound effects and cheerful background music! The last page shares “Simple Ways to be Kind to Others” and there is an activity for cutting out a paper heart to wrinkle as the story is being told. (That certainly sounds familiar, doesn’t it?!)
If you’d rather not invest in the book, but would still like to listen to the story with your Littles, I did find a delightful Youtube version, as well, read by the author, Tracy Hoexter! It’s a great option for sharing this story and it even includes the “Simple Ways to be Kind to Others” page. (Tap on the graphic or the link below it to watch!)
Of course, I’m already thinking of ways to introduce this story
to Little L when she’s a bit older
and ways we can reinforce its message over and over again!!
Here’s what I’m thinking to get us started…
#1 - Together, we will listen to the story with no stops and no interruptions!
#2 - We will retell the story in our own words, and using our own red paper heart, we’ll crumple it up every time Elliot’s heart is wrinkled in the story and we’ll try to smooth out the wrinkles every time an apology or kind word is said.
#3 - When the story is done, we will read through the ideas on the last page of the e-book. In the middle of our paper heart we will write the words, Be kind… don’t wrinkle anyone’s heart.” Then, as a fun addition, we will add band-aids around the words on the heart, and write our ideas for a kind word or phrase on each.
#4 - We will then post the wrinkled heart in Little L’s room or on the frig to remind her (and all of us) about this important choice we make with the words we use… after all, kindness counts!!
Here’s what I’m envisioning it to look like…
To wrap up this activity and it’s focus on kindness,
I have one more fun project to share for you to do with your Littles!
In fact… I hope to do this entire project with Little L and a couple other special Littles
when I see them all next weekend! ♥️
Have you ever made
Secret Sweetheart Notes?
I bet you probably have, one way or another!
NOTE: I would do the first three steps below before reading the story with my Littles.
HINT: I'd write the name of each Little in pencil on the back of the hearts
so I don't accidentally mix them up!
Then we'd all be ready for Step 4 when we've finished reading the story!
Ahead of time, cut out a large white heart (using 9 x 12 construction paper, when possible). Do this for each Little participating in the project.
Using a white crayon, write a secret message on each heart - if you’d like, make each note specific to each Little! (Since we are focusing on being kind, my messages will be focused on sharing some way I’ve seen each Little be kind! - i.e. “I love the way you helped your sister” or “you are such a kind friend!”) Be sure to press hard with the white crayon… harder than I did in my sample, as you’ll see below!
Cover a table with newspaper or an old sheet. You will also need watercolor paints, water and a paint brush for each Little. The larger the paint brush the better!
HERE’S A TEACHER HINT FOR YOU ALL: You can take out any watercolor inserts you’d rather not use for a certain project! Normally, I would want my Littles to be able to choose their own colors, but for little Littles fewer colors may work best! I took out all colors except purple, blue and red for this project!
Now you are ready for your Littles to paint! Using the paint brush, your Little will paint across the white heart, covering it all. Your secret message will appear, since the crayon will resist the paint! Once your little ones are done painting you can read their messages to them! You can also add more decorations (i.e. doilies, stickers) to the secret note!
While our wrinkled heart activity is a meaningful introduction to choosing kindness, we would never presume that this one experience, or even a few would have a lasting impact on our Littles! Rather, they will need repeated opportunities - at home, at school and in their communities to see kindness in action! We will look forward to one day sharing more kindness centered ideas with you and we welcome your thoughts and suggestions, too!
Using teachable moments such as these
- to share kindness with our Littles and its impact on our world -
could be one of the greatest gifts we, as Grands, can offer them!
If you are still looking for some last minute activities to do with your Littles to celebrate Valentine’s Day, be sure to check out our two recent posts, Will You Be My Valentine? and A Red & White Valentine Dinner! You may find something there!
We’d love to see you back here this Thursday (February 16) when we post once again!
Remember, you can always subscribe to our site to receive an email
when a new post is published!
On Thursday, we’ll have a new edition of our monthly series,
HOUSEHOLD HAPPIES! ready for you!
Last month we featured Q-tips and cotton balls,
with activities to do with your Littles - infancy to elementary aged!
On Thursday we’ll share our ideas for using
muffin tins and ice cube trays with your Littles!
See you then!