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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Tips from The Therapist: Parmesan Cheese Container Activity by Trisha Roberts

Cheese Container activity

This is one of the great activities from my new DVD Video entitled, 

"Purposeful, Practical Play",

 that is scheduled to be released in September 2016.  This is an easy activity to make from things found in the home.  It can be used to address many different areas of development--                              and it's FUN!!!  

Preparation:  Empty a Parmesan Cheese container, remove the label and wash thoroughly.  Cut colored plastic straws to fit into the container (20-30 usually work well).

Activity using Parmesan Chees Container

Parmesan Cheese Container and Straws Games and ActivitiesFun Games using an empty Parmesan Chees container



·        Gross Motor
o   Strew the straws all over the floor.  Have children squat to pick up the straws and put into the container. (Squat to stand strengthening)
o   Hold the container at different heights so that the child has to reach up overhead, reach up on tip toes, reach and rotate to one side or the other, or reach down. (Strengthening, core control, balance)
o   Have the child sit and then strew the straws to one side of the child and place the container on the opposite side.  Ask the child to put the straws into the container. (Strengthening, crossing midline, trunk rotation, sitting balance)

    Fine Motor
o   Pick up straws one at a time with thumb and index finger. (Pincer grasp)
o   Turn straw and insert into large hole or small hole. (Wrist rotation, release, perceptual motor, eye-hand coordination)

·       Language
o   Count the straws when inserting into the container. (Numbers, counting)
o   Name the colors when inserting into the container. (Colors)
o   Put 3 different colored straws on the floor.  Ask your child to pick up and put a specific color into the container.  When they can do this well, give them a sequence of 2 or 3 colors to put into the container in order. “Put in the red straw, the green straw and then the yellow straw.  Red, green and then yellow”.  (Sequencing, following directions)

·       Cognitive
o   Ask questions like, “What color is this straw?” (Answering questions)
o   Put 3 straws into the container. (Numbers, counting)
o   Put 1 more into the container. (Concept of addition)
o   "If we put 1 straw and then 2 straws into the container, how many do we have in the container?" (Addition)

 If you liked this idea, let me know!  You can pre-order my new DVD, "Purposeful, Practical Play" on my website.

Author:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2016 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.
Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Beat the Bedtime Battles by Trisha Roberts

Beat the Bedtime Battles

Beat the Bedtime Battles!

One frustration I hear expressed repeatedly by parents is, “I have such a hard time getting my kids to go to sleep—it's a Battle!” Now that children are returning to school, it is even more important to ensure that kids get the sleep they need.  From my own experience I have found that having a nighttime routine is very helpful.  Children learn the routine and are much more likely to fall asleep when they know what to anticipate. A scheduled bedtime also ensures that your child is getting the necessary hours of sleep required for good health.  If school has not started for your family yet, it is always a good idea to start practicing the school bedtime schedule at least a week before school starts, as kids usually have enjoyed a later bedtime during the summer break.

 Your routine can be anything you want depending on the age of your child and the amount of time you feel that you can spend each evening.  The goal is to be CONSISTENT. When each activity has been completed, they know that sleep time has arrived!  It is like reading a book:  there is a beginning, a middle and an end.  When the routine ends, it is time to sleep!

This was my Bedtime Routine:

Bathtime before Bed
·     BATHTIME:  Taking an evening bath is a great way to let a child relax and unwind.  They have a final time to play in a restricted environment (as opposed to running all over the house!).  For me, evening baths were always easier than morning baths when everyone is on a tight schedule for getting out the door to work, school, or appointments. 

·   PREPARATION FOR TOMMOROW: After bath, while kids are putting on their PJ’s, I found it helpful to plan my child’s outfit for the next day.

Select outfit the night before

Select clothes before bedtime

      I would offer 2 options (which were perfectly acceptable to me), and then let my child choose which outfit they wanted.  This allowed them an opportunity to learn decision making and also eliminated a fight in the morning!

·        SNUGGLE TIME: I loved having a large rocking chair in my children’s room when they were young.  It was a great place to curl up together, to experience cuddles, kisses and connection.

Reading Stories helps beat the Bedtime Battles

Reading before Bedtime
      People need touch. Children need touch!
 Recent studies have shown that
it is critical to a child’s development. 
 The famous
      Monkey Studies by Harry Harlow
showed that when deprived of a mother’s 
      touch, monkeys did not 
develop good social skills and
 actually developed many 
aberrant behaviors.

Daddy snuggles are part of Bedtime Routine

Snuggle time with Mom before BedtimeBedtime massage

      Gently rubbing or massaging your child’s back, arm or legs can help them relax as well as feel loved and cared for.

·        SHARING:  Talk about their day throughout your bedtime preparations.  Ask open-ended questions like, “What was the best thing that happened today?”  “What did you see today that made you happy/sad?” “What did you learn today?”

Reading at Bedtime·     

 READ: Let your child pick 2 or 3 books to read. Many studies have shown the correlation of early exposure to books and stories with earlier and higher levels of literacy and success in school.  Children who love reading tend to learn to read earlier.  Children who read well                                                   usually do better in school.
Beat the Bedtime Battles with Story time


SING: Sing 1-2 songs together.  Children’s songs, hymns, pop music, whatever you and your child like.  We have several great products at our retail site:

Children's bedtime prayersPrayer time at bedtime·        PRAY:  Give your child an opportunity to express thankfulness.
      Let your child think about others and their needs. Help them recognize that God created them, cares about them
      and wants to be their Forever Friend.

·   KISSES AND LIGHTS OUT:  A final kiss and hug and then “lights out”.  Make it clear that this is the end.  Walk out of the door and don’t return.  There may be crying at first, but your child will learn that whining and crying can’t manipulate their parents into returning!  You don’t need to feel guilty and “cave in”!  You have just spent quality one-on-one time with your child.  You are now helping them meet a very important need in their life—sleep!

Daddy Kisses at Bedtime

Bedtimes don’t need to be a Battle!  They can be a wonderful time to develop a strong parent-child relationship.  As you talk, laugh, share, sing, read, and pray you will create cherished memories. It is a golden opportunity to bond and connect!

No More Bedtime Battles

 Author:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2016 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.
Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Expert Round-Up: Angela Bauer with Toys for Teaching Guided Math Concepts by Trisha Roberts

Games and Activities from ProEducationalToys Appropriate for Guided Math Stations

 Guided Math Expert Angela Bauer 
As children are returning to school, parents are asking, "How can I help my child succeed?"  Teachers are asking, "How can I teach math skills more sucessfully?"

Angela Bauer, author of Guided Math: The First 25 Days, was interviewed and featured on our blog several weeks ago on July 4, 2016.

I approached her with a request for suggestions for Math Activity Centers and resources for parents to reinforce skills at home.  These are her recommendations:

Kids Tools Screw Block:  This would be a great activity for teaching and practicing problem solving, perseverance, Fine Motor Skills.  Teachers:  This would be for an Engaged Math Activity Center.
Activities for Improving Problem Solving
Screw Block

Barnyard Boxes Fun:  I’m excited about the Barnyard Box activity because I would put it in a Guided Math Center that practices counting, one-to-one correspondence and review of skills.  These are Math Common-Core State Standards for Kindergarten Math Skills. Parents:  This is a great one-on-one activity that you can do with your child to improve their math and language skills!

Math and Cognitive Skills Activity
Barnyard Activity Boxes

Puzzle Board—Geometric Shapes:  This activity would fit into a Skills Review Station after teachers have taught shapes and colors, this activity would help students practice the skill until they have mastery.  These are puzzles that will build cognitive skills, fine motor skills, and language skills as well as improving attention span!

Geometric Shape Puzzle
Geometric Shape Puzzle

Power Clix This activity would be great for upper elementary-aged students in the Skills Review Station.  Students could build 3-D solid figures and even estimate mass and volume.  It is a tremendously engaging toy that can be used in many different ways.  Teachers and parents will love it almost as much as their kids!
Build Math skills with this Power Clix Set
Power Clix Set

Squishy Toys These are great toys to help calm children.  When I have students who are stressing over learning difficult concepts or something new, I frequently use a sensory toy like these to reduce stress and quiet their bodies.

Nemo Squishy Toy for Tactile Stimulation
Nemo Squishy Toy

Tactile Toy Hulk for Sensory Issues in Children
Hulk Squishy Toy
Tactile Toys--Hello Kitty
Hello Kitty Squishy Toy

Have a great school year!  Start it off right by getting and staying involved with your children's learning.  A few minutes each day of engaging with them in educational play will reap many rewards!

You can learn more about Angela and Guided Math Here.

Author:  Trisha Roberts
Copyright © 2016 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.
Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Interview of Joey Curtin, Musical Artist by Trisha Roberts

I would like to introduce you to Joey Curtin, Musician, Composer, and Performer.  Her new album, Hey Diddle Diddle, is a wonderful compilation of songs for young children. Here is the Interview of Joey......

Joey Curtin Hey Diddle Diddle Musician

Pro Educational Toys:  Tell us about yourself   
Joey:  I am a wife and a mother. My husband and I have two grown children and a son-in-law. Family is my greatest treasure.

Boy on the PianoWhen I was 5 years old, my parents bought a piano and I
immediately started giving “concerts” for my dogs, dolls, and teddy bears. I had not yet started  lessons, so the pure joy of exploring the sounds was the beginning of my profession today. Later, I took piano lessons from  a  teacher who taught me to read music and also cultivated my love to play by ear. In grade school and high school, I played the French horn, trumpet, and guitar. . .Then came my love for synthesizers and Rock ‘n Roll!  I studied Music arrangement and composition in college where I had the most wonderful professor. Dr. Jonah Kliewer was always composing new songs for our choir and orchestra, and he was always laughing! I am so thankful for this mentor in my life.
As I grew older, I found that music was the best way for me to express  emotions when I couldn’t verbalize my feelings. This was a way I could pray to God when I felt overwhelmed. This became my banner: “I pray while I play”.
After college, I got my first real “gigs” playing piano in the San Francisco Bay area. I played in restaurants, hotels, art galleries, ski lodges, and National Parks. This was an intense training period learning to play popular music on demand. It gave me 'thick skin' and also increased my desire to keep writing the songs that were in my heart.
Today I compose and record instrumental songs that are heard on Public Radio, PBS documentaries, visitor centers, commercials, and many other places.  My music is on Pandora, Spotify, Apple and other streaming radio services. I write for violin, guitars, and other instruments along with my piano and keyboard arrangements. I also teach private piano lessons.
Pro Educational Toys:  What was the inspiration behind your album, Hey Diddle Diddle?
Joey:  After graduating from college, I worked for one semester at a high school as a teacher’s assistant for students with learning challenges. This was the beginning of an ongoing desire to help kids who struggle with learning and comprehension.
Musical Instruments and Kids

In 2007, I  was asked to create a Kindergarten music curriculum for a private school in northern California. Over the years,  I had stumbled upon many children struggling with learning challenges, ADD, Autism, Tourette Syndrome, and other undiagnosed difficulties. I was fascinated by these kids and began teaching them piano. Their brilliant minds and unique personalities inspired me  to create silly songs on the spur of the moment.  We would beat drums, sing and dance in addition to piano.
Music, Movement and Rhyme became the theme for the Kindergarten class. I had no degree in Early Childhood Education or in Music Therapy, so I tried to educate myself by reading and research. I was having so much fun! During this time, I was recording music for videos and commercials. I asked my daughter, Jackie, to sing an old lullaby and I was amazed at how her voice had matured. That was it!
Her voice inspired me to record some of my own songs along with new arrangements of old favorites.  Jackie agreed to sing the songs on Hey Diddle Diddle.  As the project developed, my goal was to create a calming effect to help kids settle down.  I wanted them to feel safe and loved as they closed their eyes and I wanted the music to be enjoyable to parents.
Pro Educational Toys:  What makes you laugh?
Joey:  My husband, Patrick, with his  Irish sense of humor and quick  wit.  
Pro Educational Toys:  What makes you cry?
Joey:  Seeing people  in pain, suffering, and struggling either physically or emotionally.
Pro Educational Toys:  What is your passion?
Joey:  Connecting with people through music is my passion.
I enjoy many styles of music and I love the sounds of acoustic and electric instruments. I love to give  concerts  and be able to  share the stories behind the songs. My goal is to  bring  healing, joy, comfort, new  understanding , or just simple pleasure to my audience.  Music is a powerful tool to  change the atmosphere of a room and touch someone’s heart.
Pro Educational Toys:  What would you like etched on your tombstone?
Joey:  “Death is swallowed up in victory!” - I Corinthians 15:54
Pro Educational Toys:  What is the best compliment you have ever received?
Joey:  In 2003, I was hired by a hospital  at the University of Texas Medical Center in Houston to play music in 4-hour shifts every weekend. The head of research would sit and listen every week. He told me, “There is healing in your beautiful music ”. The best non-verbal compliment was at the same hospital.   A troubled young man from the psychiatric facility would often come and sit in a chair next to the piano, close his eyes and a calm would come over him.
Pro Educational Toys:  What inspires you on a daily basis?
Joey:  God has gifted me to be who I am with my talents as well as my quirks! I want people to feel loved by the way I interact with them. I’m also greatly inspired by the beauty of nature.
Pro Educational Toys:  What is the one accomplishment of which you are most proud?
Joey:  My album Soundtrack For America.
It’s not a political statement. It is a love song for America and all the people who have found refuge here, as well as the Native Americans who first lived here.

Joey Curtin--Soundtrack for America
Soundtrack for America

 My husband and I hired a small army of wonderful musicians to play on it. Our friend, Marc Cooper, performed and helped produce the album. I was honored to have this album placed in the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History in Austin, TX.

Pro Educational Toys:  What unique talents do you think you have?
  1. Creating music when words fall short
  2. Empathy for people in their pain
  3. Relating to kids and being silly
Pro Educational Toys:  What matters to you?
  1. Families and cultures stuck in cycles of poverty
  2. Kids that struggle in the education process
  3. Taking care of nature and preserving our resources
Pro Educational Toys:  If you had one word or phrase to describe yourself, what would it be?
Joey:  “I keep pressing  on to the higher calling of my Lord.” - Bob Dylan
Pro Educational Toys:  What is the best decision you have ever made?
Joey:  To marry my husband, Patrick!
We met in Lake Tahoe, CA in a rock band. We played music on the beach, in the mountains, at church, weddings, parties, youth detention centers, and San Quentin State Prison. We’ve travelled to Europe, Asia and Ethiopia playing music and volunteering our help for many different types of compassion ministries.  One of our greatest experiences was to be part of  peace and reconciliation meetings between Catholics and Protestants  in Northern Ireland.  Hatred and murder had been a way of life for decades.  It was very humbling to be invited into this situation to help healing begin.

You can visit Joey's website here and learn more about her and her wonderful gift of music.

Music accesses many different parts of our brain and can affect our emotions, creativity, can improve motor and reasoning skills, and can actually promote better health! Fill your child's life with music wherever you can!  Here are some great suggestions for musical toys for young children.

Author:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2016 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.
Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.