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Keeping Your Child Engaged Over Christmas Break

December 7, 2009
Times Observer
BY ELIZABETH SANDBERG, MARY ANNE GENCO, KATHERINE NELSON; TEACHERS, BEMUS POINT ELEMENTARY

There are so many simple ways to keep your child engaged over Christmas break. Be sure to continue to talk about school over the break. Let your child know what they would be doing if they were in school that day. For example, “Today is Wednesday. If you were at school you would have had gym class today.” Or, “ It is 11:30 you would be in the cafeteria having lunch if you were in school today.” Talk about your child’s friends and teacher. “What do you think Mrs. Jones is doing right now?” If your child has experienced any separation anxiety throughout the year these types of conversations will help them return to school after the break with less separation anxiety.

An important thing to keep in mind while your child is off from school is to limit the time spent watching television and playing video games. Activities that will help to develop your child’s attention span are so much more beneficial to him/her. Play outside with your child. Make a snowman, go sledding, make pictures or letters in the snow with squirt bottles of water and food coloring.

Fine motor skills can be reinforced through helping roll out cookie dough. Cutting dough with cookie cutters, icing cookies and using fingers to put decorations on cookies are also great for dexterity. If you don’t want little hands in your cookie dough, your child could play with clay or play-dough instead. Other activities that are great for fine motor development are wrapping gifts, manipulating puzzle pieces, drawing, cutting, and playing board games. Board games are wonderful activities. They promote conversation, patience, they reinforce taking turns and following directions, they aide in making connections, and they help teach numbers, colors, and shapes.

Holiday gift ideas that will help your child stay in the “school mode” are markers, paper, puzzles, books, chart board, anything that your child can play school with. The most important thing for all of us to remember all year and especially at this busy time of year, is to spend quality time with our children. Engage your child in conversations. Tell them what you used to do when you were a child. Read to your child. Ask questions about the story when you are finished reading. Enjoy your children while they are young, they grow up so fast!

Here is a playdough recipe for you to try with your children. Have fun and enjoy!

Easy Homemade Playdough Recipe Ingredients: 1 c. water 1/4 c. salt 2 to 3 drops food coloring (If you want to color it) 1 pkg. Kool-Aid (If you want it scented) 1-½ T. vegetable oil 1-¼ c. flour

Bring water and food coloring to a boil in a small saucepan. In a bowl mix flour, salt and Kool-Aid (if you want scented playdough). Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and add the boiling water and oil, stirring constantly. Once the mixture is cool enough to handle (which takes just several minutes), knead the dough for about two or three minutes until proper texture is achieved. And now your homemade playdough is ready to use! It can be stored in refrigerator for up to 2 months.

Elizabeth Sandberg is a kindergarten teacher at Bemus Point Elementary school. This is her 12th year in that position. Before teaching kindergarten she taught preschool for six years at The Montessori Children’s House. She and her husband Dale have two children, Kenzie and Mitchell.

Mary Anne Genco has enjoyed teaching kindergarten at Bemus Point Elementary for eight years. She and her husband, Ray have three sons, Nick, Raymond, and Phillip.

Katherine Nelson has taught kindergarten at Bemus Point Elementary for four years. Prior to that, she taught fourth grade at Falconer Central School for fourteen years. She lives in Bemus Point with her husband, David and three children Gregory, Patrick, and Lauren.

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