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Currently Browsing: Fresh Perspectives

25 Ideas to Keep Floor Time Fresh

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Here is a recap of all the wonderful, creative ideas parents submitted in the July 2011 Fresh Floor Time Ideas contest.

Creative parents use their cortex to create original floor time games.

Kathy Akehurst Reed

We set up a domino chain reaction. Nate gets to set up a couple of dominoes during each break and when the creeping is done, he can set off the chain reaction. (It is also a visual for not having connections in the brain at first because the vertical dominoes don’t touch each other, but a highway is built in the end.)

 

Bridget Smith Witt

Reece and Spencer’s favorite creeping game is “Creeping For Berries.” We set up tiny plates used for wasabi, and instead I place a blueberry, raspberry, grape, etc. on them, as a surprise while creeping. They never know where they may end up, so they need to creep all over the downstairs looking. SOMETIMES there may be a mini-marshmallow, the signal that 30 minutes is up! This game usually gets two sessions of 30 minutes out of them!

 

Brenda Sharpe

A fun activity we do while creeping is getting the Nerf gun and making a target, and then trying to hit it after two laps. She also loves me to read her fairy tales and then we put new endings on the stories.

 

Jason Alan Robinson

We love to take Junior to the gym with us to creep. There are a ton of great surfaces for creeping and he loves to be like mommy and daddy and workout, so after he gets tired of creeping, we let him SAFELY use a piece of equipment under our supervision!

 

Carol Skinner

We used different types of plastic/rubber animals from the dollar store and put them in a bowl. We had the boys close their eyes and pick an animal, then tell us what they thought they had picked.

We are also going to pick Lego mini figures and put them in a bowl or put them together and then take one away and have them figure out which mini figure is missing. This is a take-off of the game we saw Sunday with Littlest Pet Shop. Our creeping/crawling game is iPad for Brain Highways using educational and fun games. We play the apps checkers, Stack the States, math apps, Angry Birds. It’s fun and it helps pass the time:) You could also use apps on your Droid phone or iPhone.

 

Cindy MacDonald Piggott

Our favorite creeping motivator is to make it a treasure hunt — each hidden clue found leads to today’s idea for our next vacation. A coin attached is the reward to put into our family vacation fund jar. Killing two birds with one stone and it gets sisters involved and excited about it, too!

 

Carlin Beal

I’ve stopped clocking floor time. I timed a lap and that’s the daily goal. In our case, 100 times around the coffee table. Kids choose how many laps in between activities, and no adding time to make sure 45 minutes is done. Just get your laps in. And, it’s visual: for each lap, a penny goes in the glass, so you see progress LOL! It takes less time to get the same 45 minute floor time, and there is real excitement as more pennies are in the jar.

Wyatt’s creep/crawl activity is singing — he changes the words of songs to fit Brain Highways, and they are never the same. For example, the James Brown song,  “I feel good, like I knew that I would, if I creeped.” Or Ke$ha, “Wake up in the morning crawl, around the floor, I got the Brain Highways.”  Raskall Flatts works: “Life is a Brain Highway, I gotta crawl all night long.” And of course, a lot of Elvis songs will work: “I ain’t nothing but a crawl dog, little bit more creeping . . .” He does sound effects too!

Jordan’s creep/crawl is down the red carpet. From US or other magazines, we get photos of different people wearing the same dress. There are multiple levels of play. Level 1 – what are the differences? See how many you can spot in between laps. Level 2 – look, store it in your mind’s eye, and then answer questions without looking. Everything is fair game – background, hair, jewelry. Level 3 – open discussion, for example, why do you think she got more votes than her? Do you agree?

Creep & Crawl Game: First time, creep to card with picture side & one word. Put it in mind’s eye and think of rhyming words. For every rhyming word you give on a lap back, you get a penny. Then read out loud the rhyming words and do another lap. See how many more you get on the next lap. Go to the next card when you’re ready to give it a whirl. Jordan says this is funnier than it looks in print — trust me!

 

Cari Mcclemons

Kaitlyn and Nolan like musical I Spy. They have an I Spy puzzle that has cards for what you find. We spread the cards around and they creep. Once the music stops, they flip a card to see what they have to find and creep to the I Spy puzzle and find what is on the cards.


Lynette Staples Helmer

Seth’s favorite activity is listening to a Goosebumps audiobook on his iPod while creeping. I also make him a scrumptious berry protein shake that I move around the floor to help cool him down.

 

Don Trujillo

An original activity that Nate came up with is, he spins and while he’s spinning, I bounce a raquet ball to him. He has to stop, track the ball, and try to catch it. And I will vary the location of the bounced ball. He likes this one a lot!

Nate likes me to read to him while he’s creeping. We’ve read several books about baseball already. About every 4 or 5 minutes, he’ll take a short break and we will do something vestibular or proprioceptive during the break. For example, pulling at silly putty, standing on the balance board, or digging into raw pinto beans to find a ring. Sometimes we will incorporate eye tracking exercises, or math problems. Dice are good for random simple math problems. Either add the sum of the dice or multiply the numbers that come up.

 

Stephanie Wiese

Madison’s idea: Creep outside doing a crazy 8, while your parents shoot a water gun at you.

 

Karrie Ochoa

Creative ideas: Before beginning, get eye contact and thank your child for their participation. Spice it up with — music, block towers to knock down, balloons, bubbles, stamps, stickers, friends, obstacle courses, change of scenery or route, story telling, wall charts, short poems, hidden, unexpected treats, a secret surprise when all done, a special privilege, massage, and a place to jot down improvements along the way.

 

Kathy Holding

Simple creeping game: All you need is some dice and something to keep score with. Roll the dice (you can use one or two) and add up your points. You get to roll as many times as you want, to get a higher number, but if you get a “one,” you lose all your points for that turn. Depending on time, you can play up to 100 or turn by turn. Of course it’s always funner when the parent doesn’t win and has to take a lap!

 

Mindy Chiou

As the days get hotter, reward your child with squirt guns or spray bottles of water. On a hot day we “spritz” Sam regularly as he creeps, and he loves it!

Put your creeping lane outside for a change of pace. I duct taped two 6×8 pieces of vinyl from Home Depot together to make a 16-foot creeping lane. I put it at the top of my driveway so it’s fairly level (not like I have shown it in the photo–finally wised up about this!), and shaded by the garage in the afternoon.

P.S. Disclaimer: I made this sign myself without permission from BH. We are in a very well-traveled part of the neighborhood and I thought it would be a good way to share what we are doing.

Hire teenagers to help with floor time. I have a fleet of them since Sam doesn’t do the floor work on his own. They are creative and fun, and it is a great way to build self-esteem in the teens, too.

 

Rebecca Woodland Christensen

Bubble Pop! Evie’s original creeping idea: Mom blows bubbles and she creeps/crawls to them. If she gets there in time, she gets to catch and pop the ones that are left! This has helped us immensly with stalling on the floor! : )

 

Heather Olson

Cook, Creep, Crawl – The kids love to bake or cook with me, so they take laps around the kitchen in between adding ingredients or following directions for making something. For example: measure the flour, take a lap. Pour flour in the bowl, take a lap. Crack an egg…you get the picture :) Hope some of you find this activity as enjoyable as we do.

 

Why Schools Fail

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What would it take to ensure
joyful learning in the classroom?

Bill Gates, along with other well-known philanthropists, has now contributed billions of dollars to improve education.

What kind of change has all that money created? Well, Newsweek recently gave the overall results a disheartening B-minus to C-minus grade.

So I guess money wasn’t the simple answer.

But what if, before ever donating a dime, all those philanthropists had first answered this straight-forward question: How can we make learning joyful?
Yep, when we answer that question, we may be surprised at how much everything else falls into place. Here is how I believe we can make learning enjoyable.

1) We rewrite standards.
I’ve yet to read a state standard that includes the word joy as part of any criterion. Somewhere along the way, we decided that it’s only, for example, important to learn how to read—but it’s irrelevant whether we ever enjoy reading. But I don’t think you can separate the two.

So I want to see the words “with joy” tacked onto whatever skills are spelled out in existing standards. Think we’d see a change in classrooms if such qualifying words were part of how we measure success?

2) We present lessons that trigger a positive physiological response in the brain.
When we provide opportunities to move, engage multiple senses, and interact with peers while learning, the brain is able to process information efficiently and stay alert. It may even release dopamine, a neurotransmitter related to pleasure and motivation.

In contrast, if the brain becomes frustrated or feels “threatened” (e.g. “I can’t do this”), it immediately shuts down, going to the survival part of the brain. With repeated failure, the child then additionally creates a general brain map that says: I can’t learn. I’m not smart.

3) We present curriculum that parallels natural brain development.
For example, since there’s a growth spurt of dendrites in the right hemisphere during ages 4-6, we should be engaging these kids in activities that include lots of movement, music, creative thinking, fantasy and other activities reflective of the right side of the brain. We actually used to do that with our youngsters.

But without any research to back up the change, we switched to a left-brain focus (e.g. reading, writing) that begins as early as kids start school. Any surprise that so many children are now struggling?

4) We encourage and honor thinking over finding the “right” answer.
Not sure how getting it “right” ever came to rule in the classroom. But it’s a completely different learning environment when kids feel as though their ideas and reflections and questions are valued more than getting the correct answer.

Decades ago there was a “just say no” campaign against drugs. Well, how about parents “just say no” to stressful learning. Starting today, let’s make learning without joy . . . unacceptable, unpopular, offensive.

I’m lucky. I think learning is one of the most blissful experiences. That’s why it makes me sad that so many kids have no idea what I’m taking about.

Why Kids Sit in a W

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We can glean important information from the way our kids sit on the floor.

We may not think how our kids sit on the floor (especially if we’re grateful that they’re even sitting at all) could tell us something about their neurological profile or that such positioning could possibly harm them.

Yet, sitting in a W formation—when kids sit on their bums with their knees bent and their feet out to either side of their hips—is a neurological red flag, and it’s a position that should be discouraged.

So why do kids even adopt this odd way of sitting?

First, it provides trunk and hip stability (i.e. creates a wide base) which, in turn, makes it easier to balance when reaching out for a toy.  What can that tell us?  Well, kids who need this extra support may not be receiving good vestibular and proprioceptive feedback since these senses are directly related to automatic balance.

However, there’s a price to pay for this compensation. Since there’s no trunk rotation when sitting this way, such kids avoid crossing their midline when reaching for a toy. Yet midline crossing is a developmental milestone for more advanced motor skills, reading, and writing.

It’s also likely that these kids have a retained symmetrical tonic neck reflex (STNR).  This primitive reflex is supposed to be integrated by the time the child is 9-to 11-months-old.

Yet if the STNR isn’t inhibited during the first year of life, it causes problems later on,  such as poor posture, a tendency to slump when sitting at a table, clumsiness, attention difficulties, challenges with swimming, problems doing a somersault—and a preference to sit in a W formation.

Okay, suddenly what seemed like an innocuous sitting position now sounds ominous. Not really. Information is always good if we use it to move forward.

In this case, such awareness may now prompt us to encourage kids to sit in different positions—legs to the side, straight out in front, or crossed. If such sitting positions are too hard for the child, we can then advocate play time at a kiddy table (it’s almost impossible to sit in a W in a chair).

But more importantly, we can use this information to explore more fully whether there are additional indicators of underdeveloped lower centers of the brain.  There’s nothing like getting to the “root” of the problem rather than merely addressing a symptom.

So in that sense, sitting in a W can be a blessing.

Do Our Kids Distrust Us?

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If we look at separation anxiety as a trust-issue,
we may respond differently.

Often, parents think their child cries or clings to them because they’re afraid to be left (wherever) if the parent leaves. Or, they think their child needs comforting when faced with a distorted fear (e.g. the child is afraid to go upstairs by himself).

But when looking at the bigger picture, such behavior suggests something different. Namely, the child does not trust her parent.

What? How can that be when the child is crying because she doesn’t want the parent to leave or because she wants her parent to comfort her when frightened?

Well, if the child trusted the parent, she would know—with 100% certainty—that the parent would never leave her somewhere or have her venture somewhere that wasn’t safe. All the parent would have to say is, “You can trust me”—and the child’s angst would be soothed.

Without that trust, it doesn’t matter how much reassurance the parent offers. Plus, the child learns that by crying or resisting, she not only avoids whatever distorted fear she’s facing, but she also gets a lot of attention. Such concerning behavior then registers in the brain as helpful—even though such response is viewed quite differently by others.

So how do we change all that? We start by believing such kids are yearning to trust their parents 24/7 so that they can feel safe. With that perception in place, we then do the following:

• We use a simple phrase, “You can trust me” for such situations. We say this with a strong presence and conviction as that (initially) will give more assurance than the actual words.

• We establish that no one on this entire planet loves our kids more than us, so we would never leave them with someone we didn’t trust.

• We tell them that we never ask them to do something we didn’t know was safe.

• We believe and tell our child that they’re losing a huge piece of their childhood if they can’t trust when we say something or somewhere is safe. The best part of childhood is that we get to trust others to make those decisions for us.

• We now view comforting our kids when demonstrating separation anxiety or a distorted fear as hurting them—as actually not meeting their emotional need since such response reinforces there really is something to fear, and we (as their parents) can’t be trusted.

• We set up really, really short experiences to allow the brain to register it can trust us. For example, if our child is afraid to be near dogs, we create an opportunity where we stand next to our child while across the street from a dog on a leash—for 60 seconds. That’s it. The next time, we may do this for 90 seconds. From there, we may get closer to the dog—but, again, for only a very short time. In other words, we don’t just “throw our kids into the swimming pool.” We teach them to trust us by showing (not telling) they can.

• We thank our kids for trusting us when they were hesitant, pointing out that such faith also gives them new confidence that makes them feel safe and assured for future situations.

Best of all, when kids trust their parents, the brain registers that the distorted projected fear did not happen—just like the parents said. And that—rather than reassuring speeches, lots of hugging, or finding ways for the child to avoid the distorted fear–is what truly comforts them.

Keeping Santa Real

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Isn't believing in Santa part of the holiday spirit?

No matter how old we are, Santa is a fun part of Christmas.  Let’s face it, we deal with enough realities throughout the year that a jolly guy who slides down chimneys and showers us with gifts is  . . . is a welcome change, even if it’s just for a short time.

I’m guessing plenty of kids choose to keep this special part of Christmas “alive” for similar reasons.

Many Christmases ago, when my daughter Callan was 7, she figured out there was no Santa. But since none of us wanted to spoil the spirit of Santa for Kiley, her younger sister, we all agreed to carry on as before.

However, when Kiley was 10 and still talking about Santa, I started to become concerned. I remember thinking, “Sooner or later, she’s going to discover the truth.” After all, any one of her 10-year-old friends was likely to spill the beans at any moment.

So I figured it was time to broach the subject. I recall dancing around the topic until Kiley just looked at me and bluntly said, “Mom, I know there’s no Santa—I just didn’t want to ruin it for Callan.”

There you have it. Santa stayed “real” in our house because nobody wanted to be the one to end it.

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