Partners In Learning Blog Team

Partners In Learning Blog Team
Blog Team

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

To Elf, or Not to Elf?

For the last several years there has been a growing affection for this little fella, The Elf on The Shelf, that has consumed the hearts of millions of little children all across the land.  This little fella sits quietly, watching little ones throughout the day, and then flies back to the North Pole every evening to deliver the behavior report to Santa himself. 

Sometimes he finds himself getting into mischief....

Other times he entertains himself in more relaxing ways....

This is our first year with our Elf,  Candy McGandy,  named by my son, and I have to be honest, I'm not feeling it.  My middle child is thrilled to host our visitor this Christmas, but for me its just another something I have to do before I go to bed.  I have to find somewhere to put that elf, figure out something clever to do so my son can wake up and go looking for him.  And I will, because it makes my little boy happy. 

What are your thoughts on the elf invader?  Truly a new Christmas tradition, or is it just another something you have to do? 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Traveling With Children During the Holidays...

Make it a family affair. Don't wait until the last minute to get your kids psyched for your holiday journey. If you involve them in the planning process, they're likely to be more invested in the trip. Let them help with things like packing, being in charge of small things. Have the children pick out the one thing they can take on the plane, if flying. Let your chldren pick out the books they want to take along for the car ride.

Clue kids in. Once you've nailed down the details, tell everyone exactly what you've got planned. Kids feel more secure when they know what to expect each day. Warn little ones about potentially scary situations, like the security check at airports if flying. Explain to them the  security machine will take a picture of her teddy but that it will be waiting for her safely on the other side. If it's their first time flying prepare them for what will happen after boarding the plane, take off and landing especially. 

Time your travel. If you can, plan your schedule with a few extra vacation days so you've got some wiggle room in case of bad weather, illness, or airline delays. This will also allow you to avoid the peak travel days just before (and after) Christmas and New Year's. If you're flying, try to book nonstop so you don't end up stuck for unforeseen circumstances.  For road trips, log on to Google Maps ( to find the best route and to avoid road closures. It's also not a bad idea to travel at night on road trips so the little ones will sleep. 

Check on childproofing. Yes, Grandma's house is a loving, warm place to gather for the holidays, but it might not be the safest one for little kids. Make sure medications, cleaning products, and other hazards out of reach. If you're staying at a hotel, call in advance to ask whether the staff will childproof the room for you. 

Bring snacks. Have a supply of good travel foods (Cheerios, string cheese, bananas) with you at all times. Snacks are a great way to head off a tantrum from a hungry toddler. Water is the best on-the-go beverage because kids only drink as much as they need, which will cut down on emergency bathroom breaks. 


Think safety first. Take your car in for a quick inspection (oil, antifreeze, brakes, tires) before you leave. Check the weather forecast a few days ahead to see whether you'll need extra supplies or travel time. Just in case, pull together some emergency essentials, including a small shovel, blankets, a flashlight, and bottled water. Make sure your cell phone is fully charged.

Beat rush hour. You can't avoid traffic jams caused by accidents or emergency roadwork, but you can plan your trip so you're not in big cities during the morning or evening rush. You might also consider leaving at night if you feel well rested and comfortable driving in the dark. There will be fewer cars on the road, and your kids will probably sleep most of the way.

Take breaks. Hit rest stops regularly to prevent your kids from getting stir-crazy or going into tantrum mode in the car. For every two hours on the road, children need at least 15 to 30 minutes to stretch their legs and run around. Bring along inflatable beach balls or Frisbees for some fun ways to get the wiggles out during your stop. 

Keep kids entertained. Let your children pack their own bag of toys, travel games, books, and so on. But bring a special surprise or two to pull out when they start getting bored.  A toy they haven't seen in a while or a small gift you bought just for the trip will do the trick. Give little ones their favorite lovey, and then read or tell them a story so they don't feel ignored. For older kids, encourage them to scout out license plates and road signs or have them track your route with a marker on a map. Books on tape or a portable DVD player also make great travel companions.


Get the luggage lowdown. Find out how many bags you're allowed to carry on and to check, and if there are any weight restrictions. Most major airlines now charge between $20 and $50 for a second checked bag -- and some make passengers pay for the first. Keep gifts you're carrying unwrapped, even if they're packed in your luggage, to make the security check easier. If you've got a lot to carry with you, you might want to consider shipping gifts and gear a week or so before you leave.  Ground delivery might be less expensive than extra baggage fees. Visit the Transportation Security Administration at to find out about limits on carry-on gels and liquids, including baby food, formula, and breast milk.

Use the Web. Log on to your airline's Web site to sign up for e-mail or cell-phone alerts that will advise you about delays and cancellations. You can also check in online and print your boarding passes at home. Get to the airport two to three hours in advance so you have plenty of time to drop off your suitcases and make it through the security checkpoints.

Dress well. Since plane cabins can get warm on the ground and cold in the air, make sure everyone is dressed in layers. It's also smart to pack an extra day of outfits (along with diapers, snacks, and other essentials) in your carry-on in case of delays.

Fly right. Take the car seat for your baby to use on the plane. Though kids under 2 can travel on your lap for free, it's safer for your little one to have his own seat. Plus, your child will be more comfortable in a car seat, since they are  already used to traveling in it. If your child is sleeping on takeoff and landing, wake them up to give them a bottle or a sippy cup (drinking eases the air-pressure changes, which cause many in-air crying fits). If you've got an energetic toddler, don't board until the last minute. The more  time spent in seats simply means more time for kids to get restless. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Around The World

For the next two weeks the Dolphins will be focusing on holiday traditions around the world.  We started off the week with the book 'Winter Lights.'  We then discussed the many ways people around the world use lights to celebrate thier holiday tradition. It is important for children to learn about different multicultural and diversities because it improves their socialization between each other positivity.  The environment of the Dolphin classroom is to model acceptance, have respect of all cultures, and have fun while learning it. 

'Light the Lighs!' Is a story about Hanukkah and Christmas.  One of our students celebrates Hanukkah, The Festival of Lights, and was excited to share with our class the Menorah.

For our class activity today, the children made their own candles.

For the sensory center, holiday scents were added to the flour and water. Cinnamon and peppermint...yum!!!

Gingerbread scented play dough and gingerbread play dough mats are a great way to improve fine motor skills while enjoying the smells of the holiday.

For the next two weeks we will be talking more about Christmas, Posadas, and Kwanzaa as well as other holidays around the world.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Hoping For A Stress Free Holiday

For several weeks, maybe months leading up to the holidays, many children have been lookingover the holiday catalogs that arrive in the mail or in the newspaper. Even children as young as 1 enjoy looking at the colorful pictures and adds. They see a lot of interesting things, and want many, if not all of them. Of course they won't be getting them all. But it is a hard decision sometimes as parents to decide what and how much to get our children. 

As parents, when the holidays roll around, there seems to be a sense of anxiety and stress that arrives with it. Often this stress is tied to the financial aspect. Another thing is the overwhelming part of expectations. We set our expectations so high about what the holidays are supposed to be. We’re trying to use finances and other things to meet that, but it never meets what we wanted. Then there’s sometimes the let-down and we get all the guilt that goes with that. We may even have extra high anxiety at this time. 
So try remember this...Remember that the holiday memories we cherish the most are often seen through the eyes of a child.

As an adult I need to be more realistic about how I look at the holidays. As a child,  it’s that wonderful build-up and all those gifts. As children, we’re not worried about, ‘Where does the money come from to pay for this?’ … As adults, we’re trying to often re-create that childhood experience, but the reality is we do have to think about the finances. I can’t afford to refinance the house every year to pay for Christmas.”

So try this before going out and making purchases...set a budget and realize what gifts are really going to get played with and appreciated over time. It’s also important to stick to your budget! Parents go out and buy the expensive gift (the children) wanted. They play with it for two hours and it’s done. The kid was let down and the parent was let down. 

It is also important to balance a “well-being schedule.” Make time for working out. Get enough sleep. Don’t commit to every holiday party, and when necessary, take a step back from it all. Know when you start to feel yourself reacting. If you’re starting to feel anxious about the holidays or you’re feeling overwhelmed, that’s the time you say, ‘This is too much for me right now and I need a break. As I get older, I can tell when I’m overwhelmed or feel anxious, it’s truly about walking away. Get some physical space and give yourself a chance to walk or read, something that sets your mind at ease and distracts you from what’s going on. It also helps me to have a physical, not just mental, list of what needs to be done and when. 

“We as adults have gotten to where we’re programmed to how big and important the holidays are that we forgot to have fun and like them and enjoy it.”

Also as I get older, I realize it's not so much about the presents I give or receive, it's about being with family and friends, real quality time, just hanging out and enjoying the company. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Five Gift Rule for the holidays

So you're running around looking for the perfect gift for those special people in your life especially those kiddos of yours....but you are stressing out and do you even remember what the kiddos received last year? Do they still play with it? Did you spend over your budget? Then join me In starting a new tradition....the Five Gift Rule.

With the five gift rule, you purchase just five gifts but they have to meet certain criteria. They are as follows:
1- one gift of something they want (YES JUST ONE!!!!!)
2- one gift of something they need (headband/hair barettas, water bottle, sleeping bag,etc.)
3- one gift of something they can wear (they are always growing....)
4- one gift of something that they can read (at any age they need to be reading)
5- one gift of something that is homemade (simple is fine for all you non crafters)

Gift 1:
Just how do you pick just one gift from that list that is never ending...don't!!!! Make them pick....tricky parents on the loose.  Ask your child in a setting that is netrual,for example the car while going to school, the kitchen while cooking supper together, pushing the cart at the store.  Then ask if they had to pick just one item from their wish list, what would they choose? Explain it in a way that if you could have just one thing, it would be.....what would their pick be? You could also extend this to other family members and friends as well and have your child ask them so that it would become a game. This way you find out what they think is the most important thing and they see what is really special to others as well.

Gift 2:
This is one of those that the parents have to pick because you have seen what is a real need for your child. Have you seen that every hair bow is missing? They need a new hair brush or toothbrush because it's been months or even years since it's been replaced. Plus you can find coupons to help you save more money on these items.  I recently scored a new electric razor for some of my families members that was originally $100 for more than 75% off with a coupon. It may take a little work but you reap the benefits.

Gift 3:
Gift of something that they can wear is so easy right...sort of. Does your child need a new coat or shoes? Yes, most kids will not like to open a gift of clothing but they will love those cool scarf, gloves, and awesome hat when it snows. Those jeans have the knees worn out or their shoes rubbing their toes.....replace and gift three is done. Check the ads and find your deals. 

Gift 4:
The gift of reading...yes reading!!!! When was the last time that you sat down and read with your child? When was the last time that you had a family reading time? When was the the last time that someone in your house picked up a book on their own without it being school or work related? So change that, give the gift of reading. Kids into Legos and Starwars....there are books for that. Grandma loves gardening....there are books for that. Husband loves tractors....there are books for that.  Each year we give our son the Kids Almanac for the next year which features things about entertainment, sports, nature, and everything else that one boy would be curious about. He loves getting it and it stays on his headboard or in the car so that he can read it as we run the errands. How happy would you be to look back and see a backseat fill of readers? Even children who have not learned to read can still tell you the story from the pictures of a picture book. Check out the many reading clubs online that offer something for your kid's classroom as well. Buy a book and give a book to those in need.

Gift 5:
Homemade really? I'm not crafty......I don't do DIY projects......I don't have a creative bone in my body....STOP THE EXCUSES!!!! Check out Google or my personal favorite Pinterest to find tons of easy gifts that your child will love that you made just for them. Need something simpler...make a photo frame or frames with a collection of your favorite family photos of the past year. Frames from the store that is cheaper than a from computer....add some stickers and there you have it. Or for that boy, give him a pinewood derby car kit from your local craft store (around $6.00) and make it together over the long holiday break. Time spent making the project is often better than the finished project.

So you don't know about this idea...
Believe me for years I stressed (and still do stress over) what to get my kiddo(s) but have used this over the last several years and it has made a tremendous difference in the holiday time spent together and holiday time just spent out without the memories. I don't know about you but I choose the memeries spent not the money spent.

(Google and Pinterest are trademarked by their sites)