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    Tips & Resources for #StayHome 🏡

    Tips & Resources for #StayHome 🏡

    Hi Friends, 

    I hope you are doing well, and staying healthy during these most unusual and for many stressful times. While we #stayhome in support of our global health, I love seeing communities, parents, and care-takers supporting one another with ideas, inspiration, and a good dose of humor. I praise you, parents, taking on teaching, and nurturing the youngest generation. I wanted to share with you some of my favorite online resources for adults and children staying home. 

     

    FOR THE KIDS

    Scholastic Classroom has tailored enjoyable, interactive lessons for your preschooler. Each day is a new topic that begins with a video lesson, followed by a quiz and project! The topics range from stars and the moon to seasons and animals. 

    Busy Toddler is an incredible resource for families with young children. Teacher and mother, Susie Allison has a gift for creating fun learning activities from simple household items. No need to make a shopping list; you have everything you need at home for the fun and learning to begin.

    Cosmic Kids is a part of our daily routine. Stretch, learn, and grow through yoga. Posses and movements are stimulated through storytelling, which is the perfect way to capture a child's attention. 

    Mo Willems Draws everyone's favorite children's book author and animator; Mo invites YOU into his studio every day for his LUNCH DOODLE. Kids will draw, doodle, and explore new ways of writing. Who knew drawing could be so easy?!

    Vooks is a streaming library where children's books are read aloud. Turn screen time into reading time! 

     

    FOR THE GROWN-UPS

    Yoga & Meditation because we all know we need a little more zen in our life these days. Join Yogi Charu for daily yoga + meditation, 7 pm (Eastern). 

    Master Class has 80+ courses (20 lessons per course), all taught by the experts! Learn to cook from Gordan Ramsy, act from Natalie Portman, and boldly express yourself from RuPaul! We will emerge from quarantine with some new tricks up our sleeves. 

    Museums: Visit the world's most famous museums from the comfort of your sofa. Discover the ancient Rosetta Stone in London, tour the Guggenheim's famous spiral staircase, and peek at artworks from Monet, Cézanne, all in the same afternoon. 

    Welcome to Harvard! Many elite universities are now offering FREE online courses. From statistics to history, there is so much to learn and relearn. 

    And our favorite pretend play resource, Snickerdoos costumes. ;) We love encouraging fun imaginative play at home. And right now is the perfect time to visit our website! We are offering 25% off sitewide! Stay home and shop small! 

    Sending light and love from our home to yours! 

    Natalie 

    6 Awesome Mom Hacks!

    I love anything that makes my life a little easier and a big bonus if it can save me money! Let's admit, as parents, we are on task 24/7—this is not just a "full-time" job! So I wanted to share with you some of my favorite Mom Hacks (you will love these too, dad and grandma)!

    1. Monster Spray

    Is your child afraid of the dark or sleeping on his or her own? Let's do something about it and get them involved and empowered! Using any spare spray bottle (or visit the travel section of your drug store), fill the spray bottle with water--bonus if you add lavender scented oil. Call the bottle "Monster Spray" and let your little ones spray it around their room before bedtime. Smell you later, monsters!

    2. The Non-Emergency Emergency Kit

    Okay, you may not carry a big ole' diaper bag around anymore. Still, whether it is for a bandaid, chapstick, Kleenex, granola bar, rubber band, or hand-sanitizer, you want to have these items on hand at any given time. Use a small pouch-like a pencil case, or one of those free make-up bags with purchase we all have hanging around and fill it with all those small necessary items! No more digging around in your purse or feeling unprepared! You got it, Mom! 

    3. Cleaning Toys

    We hope that our preschools clean their toys often, but now how often do we really get to cleaning the toys in our own home!? I am afraid to answer this question! Between laundry, cooking dinner, and all the other tasks, cleaning toys gets overlooked in my house. Here's a super-easy way to get it done: take a mesh laundry/bra bag and place the toys inside. Pop that bag inside your washing machine and head out to run errands (this isn't a quiet load). Waaala, you have clean toys!

    4. Getting Children Excited About Chores

    My children LOVE a treasure hunt, and I have found it's the perfect tool to get them excited about doing chores! This is no regular treasure hunt--each clue will lead them to a new chore (think making the bed, organizing their shoes, really wherever you need help in your home)! Write down specific chores on post-its then place them throughout your home. Remember, you need to place the post-it on the location of the previous chore. The last post-it leads them to where they can find their prize (cookie, stickers, $1, etc.)!

    5. Frozen Rice (You read that correctly!)

    About once a week in my household, someone gets a boo-boo. I rush to the freezer, looking for something to cool their injury. The problem with ice packs is that they're too hard and cold...and a bag of ice leaks. So, what's a mom to do? Freeze a bag of rice! Place 2-3 cups of rice in a Ziploc bag and freeze. Next time your child hurts him or herself, grab the bag of frozen rice!

    6. Ultimate Snack Pack

    We all love variety, don't we? Especially when it comes to food! This fun snack hack makes eating fun and a perfect airplane or waiting room activity! Using a

    vitamin organizer or similar container, fill each compartment with a different snack. Your child will love discovering each new snack and will end this activity full! 

    I hope you enjoyed these Mom Hacks! Wishing you a peaceful, healthy, happy week! 

    Natalie 

    How do we teach kindness?

    How do we teach kindness?

    "The best way to teach kindness to children is by modeling and showing the joy of helping others."

    As I grow older, I can say that it is far better to give than to receive. I know this from the personal happiness I experience from doing for others, but it is also backed by science and the American Psychological Association. "Our findings suggest that the psychological reward experienced from helping others may be deeply ingrained in human nature, emerging in diverse cultural and economic contexts," said lead author Lara Aknin, of Simon Fraser University in Canada, in a news release.

    Kindness is love made visible, and the best way to teach kindness to little ones is by modeling and showing the joy of helping others. I love February's celebration and acknowledgment of love. This week is Random Acts of Kindness Week, and I wanted to share some doable, fun ideas to do with your children to show love and kindness to others.

    Showing kindness to others

    1. Send a postcard together

    2. Find a special way to thank your child's teacher

    3. Be inclusive—invite another parent/child for a playdate

    4. Complement someone

    5. Give a hug to a loved one

    6. Deliver flowers to someone special

    7. Bake cookies for a grandparent

    Teaching kindness to the earth

    1. Hang clothes to dry

    2. Use a reusable bag

    3. Pick up a piece of garbage on the street

    4. Use a travel mug or bottle

     

    Sometimes it takes courage to be kind and wear your heart on your sleeve, but there is no better time than February and this week!


    To celebrate February and Random Acts of Kindness week and show my appreciation to you, Snickerdoos is offering 20% off with the code: Kindness

    Enjoy, Natalie

    Milking 2020 for all it's worth--and what that looks like!

    Milking 2020 for all it's worth--and what that looks like!

    art by Laura Jones Illustrations

    Happy New Year! Yes, I believe we can still say that on January 21st?! ;) As I was reflecting on this past year, I think that I can best summarize it as a year full of action. I launched Snickerdoos and worked towards making the East Coast home for my family. While I love action, movement, and working towards a goal, I recognize that this year, I want to work towards slowing down, appreciating the small moments, and being more fully present and ready to receive.

    I love that children can be role models in this goal — their natural sense of wonder and curiosity about the world around them. And when we slow down together with our children, we give them more space to learn and explore and maybe learn something new ourselves. 

    It’s interesting how, when we slow down, we can notice how things in the natural world change over time. Just looking out the window is an opportunity to discuss wind, growth, and the natural evolution of colors. One of my hopes this year is to ask my children more often what they notice about our surroundings, opening the door for learning and conversation.

    And while inside, setting up a space for learning and exploring with readily available tools, inspiring materials, and books.

    Here are some in our shelf now:

    Play-dough, recycled toilet paper, and paper towel rolls (thanks to Louise for your love of “trash”), crayons, paper, lots of painters tape, and of course, costumes! Sometimes, less is more!

    I wanted to share a few resources for slllllooowing down in 2020. 

    How to Create a Learning Space for Your Child

    Children's Books About Curiosity

    Something just for you mamas:

    10 Essential Rules for Slowing Down

     

    Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy new year. Please reach out with any questions or comments! I would love to hear from you! 

    Warmly,

    Natalie 

    Tips for Encouraging a Child's Creativity

    Tips for Encouraging a Child's Creativity

    I am so excited to share with you my interview Kristien Alquero, friend and Montesorri educator. I was so curious to discover what lead her to the Montesorri method and hear her advice for ways to cultivate creativity at home.

    "I was inspired by the Montessori method’s recognition to nurture the whole child - an education that integrates their mind, body, and spirit." Kristien Alquero


    What led you to study early childhood education and the Montessori Method?
    I was led to this work after feeling lost trying to discover my purpose. There was a point in my life where I was going through the motions. I had this deep yearning to feel creatively expressed, alive, and passionate about my role in the world.

    I discovered Montessori accidentally. As I learned about this educational approach, specifically from birth to age three, I was inspired by the Montessori method’s recognition to nurture the whole child - an education that integrates their mind, body, and spirit. I learned that 85% of the brain is formed by age three when the foundation of our sense of self is formed.

    I recognized that Montessori is a beautiful approach to nurture a child’s spirit and support them to realize the fullness of the reason they were born. Isn’t the point of education to help us realize our purpose, our passions, and our gifts?

    But then I realized there’s no way to create that space for children unless we have done that healing work on ourselves. And that’s why my work is focused on the mother. My curiosity for self-healing led me to study energy medicine, intuition, birth, and sacred sexuality. How do we nourish the whole woman? When we connect to our spirit through embodiment, play & deep acceptance of truth, we can make choices to experience the beauty and radiance that resides so powerfully within. From this space of alignment, our life unfolds in magical ways, and we are able to receive the gifts through all the ebbs and flows of life with ease and grace.

    I was inspired by the Montessori method’s recognition to nurture the whole child - an education that integrates their mind, body, and spirit.

    What from Montessori has had the biggest influence on you?

    The realization that everything goes back to birth and the first three years of life! The first three years of life have a significant impact on how we relate to ourselves, to others and to our environment. I truly believe that we can create a better world starting with our children, by creating safe, intentional environments for them that allow their spirits to soar. When our future citizens grow up feeling grounded in their gifts and purpose, they can live a meaningful life. From this place of inner peace, harmony is created for the greater collective.

    Adults can remain to be playful by giving yourself permission to follow your curiosities.

    We know children learn tremendously through play—how do you encourage adults to remain playful?

    Adults can remain to be playful by giving yourself permission to follow your curiosities. When you get that inspired idea that runs through you, opens your heart, and feels expansive, don’t ignore it! Even if it doesn’t make any sense to you, make the space to explore it. It may be something as subtle as taking a different route home one day, signing up for a class in something that interests you, or saying hi to someone that is passing by. You’ll be surprised what you can learn about yourself and the opportunities that present themselves to you.

    Play is where curiosity & pleasure meet. It requires slowing down and being present so you can notice when that spark of curiosity within you lights up. In this state of presence, you start to see the beauty and infinite possibilities around you. Play guides you to discover more of who you are and to live a more joyful life. So, what are you curious about today? How can you make space, even five minutes, to follow your curiosity this week?

    What are your favorite activities you encourage parents and children to do together at home?

    My work is focused on the child from birth to age three, and it’s amazing to see what a young child is capable of when you present opportunities for them to collaborate with you in their daily living. For example, right now, I’m working with a curious and independent 14-month-old. She is eager to try and do things herself yet is still practicing the skills to do so completely on her own. So we collaborate! She just took her first steps and is practicing working with two hands. She loves nature and putting things in containers.

    Example: For a snack, we peeled a clementine together. I held it steady while she practiced her pincer grasp with each peel. She put all the peels into a jar that we later emptied into the compost bin together. We also pick flowers together on our walks. We gather leaves and flowers into a basket. When we get home, she helps me put them into a jar, and we create a flower arrangement together.

    Parents can get creative by observing what skills and interests their child is presenting at every stage of their development, and then invite their child to collaborate in the home with their daily activities together. The Montessori Toddler by Simone Davies has great tips and illustrations for inspiration. Tip: Slow down and give your child space to explore and do things on their own and in their way. Trusting in the child goes such a long way in witnessing what they are truly capable of.

    How can parents support their child’s creativity?

    First, by accepting your child fully as the individual, they are with their own unique interests, gifts, and ways of being. This means not making any assumptions or project any ideas on what you think they should be doing, how they should be behaving, or who they’re supposed to be when they grow up. By giving your child the space to be themselves, it allows their essence and creativity to reveal itself and expand. Then all you have to do is prepare an environment that fosters their gifts, interests, and development. ;) This allows for them to experience possibilities and creativity, without limiting their idea of what is possible.

    4 tips for creating an environment that encourages a child's creativity?

    1. Encourage open-ended play through activities and toys that allow for many ways to play rather than being prescriptive. For example, coloring books ask to be drawn within the lines vs. a blank piece of paper with infinite possibilities of coloring. Another example is choosing wooden blocks or legos vs. a battery-operated toy where you press a button, and it just makes noise.

    2. Avoid praise and instead, speak into your child’s effort. Acknowledge their process rather than the result. For example, “I see you mixed two colors of paint together.” 

    3. Give your child space to wonder and to be bored. Rather than thinking we must entertain children at every moment, think about engaging them through their environment - Providing beautiful materials for them to play with, presenting it in a way that is inviting, and making beauty part of the home through art, music, and plants. This is a concept the Montessori method speaks into.

    4. Allow for exploration and experimentation as a process of learning. From this attitude, we can show children that there are no mistakes but learning opportunities. We are allowing for more confidence and possibilities in the way we can express our creativity.

    Your favorite Maria Montessori quote?

    “To serve the children is to feel one is serving the spirit of man, a spirit which has to free itself.” - Dr. Maria Montessori

    Learn more about Kristien, her practices, and workshops at www.awakenedplay.com
    Kristien Alquero, M.Ed, MIM, is a birth+postpartum doula, 0-3 Montessori educator, and women’s spirituality guide. She integrates Montessori theory with embodiment practices such as connecting with intuition & energy, meditation, self-care, and sacred sexuality to support women from preconception to postpartum. Kristien works with mamas to support them in deeply connecting to their spirits so that they feel empowered to create safe spaces for their children’s spirits to soar.