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Staying Focused

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Staying Focused

Image Credit: ThomasLife via Flickr

We are getting closer and closer to the end of our school year. The kids are getting more restless waiting for their summer break to start. The results? Not staying focused while doing school work. We’ve already made some adjustments since the weather has gotten warmer by doing school work outside and having more frequent breaks, but they are still loosing focus when they are looking at their books and the pencil is in their hand. So, for this Weekly Kid Challenge we are going to be working on staying focused.

We will be incorporating a stop watch to make it a little more competitive for themselves by trying to beat their own time and also a bell they can ring once they are done with a page as an incentive. We will also be doing more writing, mostly just handwriting pages, so they can have more practice of keeping their eyes on their page rather than looking around. I’m hoping these little changes will make a big difference. If you have any tips on keeping kids focused while doing school work, I would love to hear them.

Learn a Life-Long Skill

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Join us for this #WeeklyKidChallenge as we learn a life-long skill. Tying a tie and braiding.
Join us for this #WeeklyKidChallenge as we learn a life-long skill. Tying a tie and braiding.
Image Credit: woodleywonderworks via Flicker

My grandmother, an amazing woman, bought my son his first real tie just the other day. She took him into the store to pick one out, and the very first one he saw he loved. It has black and blue strips, but the blue ones are all slightly different shades and look metallic. I’m impressed with his choice. Plus, he has always looked good in blue. I guess this will be a good week to teach him how to tie one.

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My daughter, my one and only girl, doesn’t like me to do much with her hair. It is long, thick and beautiful. She loves to just wear it down. No braid, no pony tail, or pig tails, no flips, curls, or especially any of the really cool creations I keep seeing on Facebook. Nothing. Just brushed through quickly so she can get on with her life. However, she has taken an interest in braiding. I know she mostly wants to learn so she can make little friendship bracelets, but I’m hoping that by teaching her and letting her style my hair, she will let me do more with hers. Yes, I do have an ulterior motive. Does that make me a bad mommy?

So, for this Weekly Kid Challenge, they will be learning a skill that they will use through out their life, tying a tie and learning to braid. Do your children already know these skills? Is there another skill that will help them in their life that you want to teach them this week?

Tell us what you are doing this week on here, FaceBook or Twitter using #WeeklyKidChallenge.

Storm and Tornado Safety!

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Join us for this #WeeklyKidChallenge as we learn tornado and storm safety, get prepared, and practice our emergency plan.
Join us for this #WeeklyKidChallenge as we learn tornado and storm safety, get prepared, and practice our emergency plan.
Image Credit: Nikos Koutoulas via Flickr

I love spring! Flowers, flowering trees, buzzing of life, warmer weather, grilling out, and storms. Yes, I LOVE storms. My husband’s and my favorite thing to do is to sit outside and watch the sky get darker with clouds, see the lightning, hear the rumbling of the thunder, and feel the temperature change.

However, there is a major risk that comes with these storms. Wind, hail, lightning, and tornadoes. Living in what is called “tornado alley” myself, I get to experience these strong storms, but often they can turn deadly. Since we are in tornado season, this is a good week to talk about storm safety and get prepared.

Be Prepared

Being prepared before a storm hits is very important. It can save you precious time instead of scrambling to gather up food, water, and other things your family would need in case you have to leave your home. It can save you a hassle with the insurance company by having all of your paperwork in order and knowing what is in your home that may need to be replaced.

For You

  • Go through out your home and make a list, room to room, of your belongings that are valuable that may need to be replaced.
  • Have all of your important documents like social security cards, birth certificates, insurance policies, etc., put in a safe place. Obviously, a fire safe is great, but if you don’t have one, the freezer is the best alternative.
  • Know where the tornado shelters are in your area.
  • Know how to turn off utilities to your home.

For your children

  • Talk to your children about the different watches and warnings: thunderstorm, tornado, flood, flash flood, etc. Have them watch the weather with you and discuss it.
  • Make sure they know what county they live in and also the surrounding counties.
  • Have each person in the family make a personal emergency bag. You can go as far as having heat reflective blankets, extra clothes, a few Meals ready-to-eat (MREs), duck tape, lip balm, hand sanitizer, small bottles of shampoo and body wash, paracord, two way radios, etc. Basically a whole 72 hour Bug Out Bag. Click here for ideas. But at the very least, it should include bottles of water and juice, flashlights and extra batteries, energy bars, other easy to carry non-perishable foods, first aid kit, whistle, identity cards with your contact information and medical information, colors and coloring books, other things to keep kids entertained and a little room for them to add their favorite stuffed animal. For the parents, it should include more like pocket knives, cash, bug repellant, lighters, identification, prescription medicines, battery powered radio. I have heard people suggest to make the bags out of pillow cases, however I personally would prefer the bags to have straps on them so both hand are free. An old book bag that is still in good shape with no holes or rips would be great. Make sure these bags are kept in a place easily accessible but up enough that small children can’t get them and play with the contents. Also, make one for the car in case you are caught out in a storm and cannot make it back home.
  • Have your children make a layout of your home, front and back yard, pointing out exits and where they need to go during the storm. Also, put a place to meet up in the front of the house and back in case you guys get separated.
  • Make sure your children know your and your spouse’s full name, address and phone numbers.
  • Have them help you fill out an emergency contact list and put it in a common place in your house.
Join us for this #WeeklyKidChallenge as we learn tornado and storm safety, get prepared, and practice our emergency plan.
Join us for this #WeeklyKidChallenge as we learn tornado and storm safety, get prepared, and practice our emergency plan.
Image Credit: Anthony Quintano via Flickr

Other things to talk about

  • Lightning. One great thing to teach your kids is how to tell how far away the lightning is by counting the seconds between seeing the lightning and hearing the thunder. The rule of thumb is how ever many seconds you count, that is how many miles the lightning strike was. As spectacular as lightning is, it can also very dangerous. If they are outdoors, teach them to come in as soon as they see lightning or hear thunder. Stay away from windows, running water, and stay off of phones. If they are outside and cannot get inside, avoid high places, open places, and anything metal. Since lightning will strike the tallest object, getting underneath a tree or canopy may not be the best option. They should crouch down and cover their ears.
  • Down power lines. If there has been a tornado or high winds, chances are there are power lines down. Those should be avoided at all costs. Teach them what to look for by pointing out what power lines look like, if they are not already aware, next time you are out driving.
  • Hail can be very dangerous by shattering windows. During a storm that has hail, stay indoors and away from windows. If you are driving, stop. If it is safe for you to get under cover, do so. But do not continue driving since hail does have to possibility to break your windshield making it difficult to see through.
  • Trees seem like a great place to hide under if there is no where else you can go, but they can also be dangerous since they can be uprooted and even big branches can be ripped off during strong enough winds. Even after the storm, branches that are no longer attached to the tree can get its little branches hung up causing it to dangle from the tree and can come down at any time.
  • Wind. Even if there is no tornado in a storm, strong enough winds can be just as dangerous by ripping at the roof of a home, causing power lines to come down, knocking over trees, and causing flying debris. In our area, we will occasionally have what is called a derecho which is a sever storm with extremely strong winds and lasts for at least 240 miles.
Join us for this #WeeklyKidChallenge as we learn tornado and storm safety, get prepared, and practice our emergency plan.
Join us for this #WeeklyKidChallenge as we learn tornado and storm safety, get prepared, and practice our emergency plan.
Image Credit: BrianKhoury via Flickr

Plan for the worst

  • Have a contact point outside of your neighborhood in case your family gets separated and you can’t call each other. One example is if your spouse is at work and you have to leave your home with the kids and the cell towers are busy. Pick a place, like a specific restaurant or gas station where you guys will meet up.
  • Make sure your babysitter or any family member that might watch your children know all of your contact information and know your contact point as well.
  • Plan places to stay in case you have to leave your home. A family members home or hotel that is in a different city.
  • Talk to your children’s school. Find out their plan, where they take the children to, what their policy is about a parent picking them up.
  • Know your area, especially if you have just moved there, and plan different escape routes in case you need to leave your city but some roads are blocked.
  • Keep up with the weather including purchasing a weather radio.
  • Have a plan for your animals.
  • Teach your children what they should do in case they get separated from you. Using their whistles, staying where they were last with you and using their two way radios or phone to call you.

Make a plan and practice it

Just like in schools, there is an emergency plan in place that is practiced. Setting forth an emergency plan and practicing it in your home can save your family time, keep things from getting chaotic, and teach your kids good habits for when they are older.

    • Put on shoes and make sure to be fully clothed.
    • Put on protective gear like a bicycle helmet.
    • Have everyone do their designated assignments like unplug electronics, grab pillows, blankets, mattress, battery operated radio.
    • Grab emergency bags and other important personal items like wallets.
    • Go to your home’s safe place like your basement or storm shelter. If you do not have one, go to an interior room of your home that does not have windows.
    • Plan what to do if you are driving or outside and cannot make it into a shelter. Lay flat in a ditch or low lying area and cover your head.

Craft week!

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Have fun and bring joy to someone else by making bookmarks and giving them to friends. This week on #WeeklyKidChallenge
Have fun and bring joy to someone else by making bookmarks and giving them to friends. This week on #WeeklyKidChallenge

My mother has a conference coming up soon and has asked that we make bookmarks and a lap book that she will be using for display. Yes, not a normal conference when you think of one. More of a meeting of great minds that are in children ministry. So that is what we will be working on this week. They will get to be creative and also know they are spending their time, using their talents to help out their grandma. Kind of a 2 in 1 this week. Crafts and volunteering their time to help someone else. If you would like to join us with our Weekly Kid Challenge, make some bookmarks with your kids for them to give out to their friends. They will get to have fun and be able to experience that joy of putting a smile on their friends’ face.

Click HERE and HERE to get some ideas if you would like to also make bookmarks or a lap book.

Image Credit: Jared Tarbell via Flickr

Reorganize an area in their rooms

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Do your children have that one area in their bedroom they have a hard time keeping organized? For this #WeeklyKidChallenge we are going to reorganize it.
Do your children have that one area in their bedroom they have a hard time keeping organized? For this #WeeklyKidChallenge we are going to reorganize it.

My kids both have an area in their rooms that are, well, a little unmanageable. As much as they try, they just have a hard time keeping those areas  organized so they are functional for them.
In my daughter’s room, it is her shelves by her bed. She has so many books, picture frames, little figurines, and treasure boxes (that’s what she calls the little boxes she keeps her notes in) that the shelves just appear cluttered and she stacks stuff on top of another.
In my son’s room, he has a shelf that he keeps his notebooks and coloring supplies on, but there is just so much stuff (he hates to throw away anything he creates) he has a really hard time keeping it organized so it is workable.
I know it is tempting for me to just go in there myself and do it, but it is important for them to help so they can set it up the way that will work best for them.
Some years ago, when my daughter had just moved into her big girl bed, I created a little area on her shelves for her coloring books and colors. I had the books standing up and the crayons next to them in a decorative container. It was cute. But not functional for her. Almost ever day I had to go in there and help her stand up the books and overall get it organized again. She just didn’t have the skills yet to be able to do it herself. And I could tell she really wanted to prove to me and herself she was a big girl. So, I got a cute tote, put everything in there and put it under her bed. We were both happy with that.
Is there an area in your kids’ rooms that need a little extra TLC to make it more manageable for them? What about an area in your home they could help you with?
Posts some before and after pictures.
You can also post them on Twitter using #WeeklyKidChallenge.

Image Credit: Amy Gizienski via Flickr

Fun at the Lady’s Retreat!

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I had such a great time at the lady’s retreat! Made new friends, listened to some great speakers, had a great session speaking on homeschooling, and sold some books. It couldn’t have been better.
I had so many things I planned to speak on, but when God takes over it always is so much better than I could have ever planned.

New Places, New Behavior

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New places, New behavior

Thank you to those keeping up with Weekly Kid Challenge! We are really enjoying the time we are spending together learning new skills that will benefit them through out their lives. I am glad we can share these experiences with your family and hope you guys are also learning along with us.

We have many things coming up this week; testing, co-op classes, and I have the privilege of speaking at a lady’s retreat this weekend over homeschooling. (Keep me in your prayers.) As I was thinking of what we should work on this week, it was very clear. Since we will be going to places that we don’t regularly go to, we will be working on how they should conduct themselves while there. This will be the first time my daughter will be going with my son and I to where he will be taking his yearly test. Also, both of my kids will be going with me to the lady’s retreat. I know my kids are usually good at being able to feel out a new place and know whether they can be loud and playful or quiet and controlled, well usually. But I want to make sure that they aren’t surprised.

Is there a new place you will be going and taking your kids with you? If so, spend some time with them explaining to them what type of a place it is, what goes on there and how they should act while in there. Spend some time having them practice, acting like they are in the new place. Kids love to play pretend. Then take them.

If you don’t have any place planned already, think of some where they don’t go to often or have never been to that you go regularly. Maybe they haven’t been to the library yet. A bank. If you usually find a sitter for them so you can go to the store, try taking them with you to get just a short list of items.

I know taking kids, especially young ones, while you run errands can make a two hour trip into an all day, pulling your hair out affair. But the more you practice with them, the more you actually do take them with you, the better they will behave.

Have a great week and let me know how it goes.

Why I do what I do

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Mary Heart

Let me explain why I started this series. Many years ago I was stressed to the max. No matter how hard I worked at trying to keep my house clean, it never happened. I would spend hours everyday picking up toys in my kids’ bedrooms, the hallway, living room, my bedroom and even the bathroom. Yes, even the bathroom. Only to wake up the next day to do it all over again. Did I mention I was stressed to the max?

I tried everything I could possibly think of to change this horrible cycle and nothing worked. Finally, after reading many parenting books and even more blogs, I had an epiphany and everything changed. I had the secret! AND IT WORKED! Within a short time, my kids were listening to me better, not trashing their rooms within 30 minutes of waking up and they were actually cleaning up their…

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Easter Fun!

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Easter Fun

This weekend is Easter! Time is really going by fast!

Since we had such a fun time decorating for Valentine’s Day, I want to do it again for Easter. So for this Weekly Kid Challenge we are going to spend time making decorations and talking about Jesus. Post pictures of your decorations and Easter Eggs!