Activities To Do With Your Children At Home

If you’re running out of ideas or struggling to keep your children engaged and happy, don’t worry! We have compiled a list of activities that you could do with your children. Have your children choose one to two activities to do per day!

Science

  • Bake something.
  • Play with a tub of flour/cornstarch and water.
  • Inventory the plants & wildlife (from bugs on up) in your yard.
  • Learn the parts of plants/flowers & how they function.
  • Conduct easy “kitchen chemistry” type science experiments that are easy to do, like making slime, baking soda and vinegar reaction, etc. HERE are some examples.

Art/Music/Movement

  • Dance Zumba or other dance-along videos on YouTube.
  • Have a shadow show in the reading tent.
  • Host an Olympics with a bunch of events competitions – funny ones, helpful ones like cleaning and really fun ones like minute to win in style.
  • Create an obstacle course.
  • Explore a National Park or a museum virtually. HERE are links.
  • Create music instruments with recyclable materials and form a band.
  • Make edible snack art.
  • Choreograph a dance together.

Literacy

  • Have each kid write a letter and/or emails to a different friend or family member each day.
  • Write a story cooperatively.
  • Write a short story & illustrate it.
  • Draw maps of places or items around the house and then make directions from one place to another to see if someone else could follow it. Add clues and words on your map. You can also hide an item and create a treasure map to find it!
  • Listen to a story read by a celebrity! HERE is the link. The SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s award-winning and Daytime Emmy-nominated children’s literacy website, Storyline Online, streams imaginatively produced videos featuring celebrated actors.
  • Go on a letter/word hunt around the house. Hide the letters/words for the kids.
  • Put on a play.
  • Make a time capsule using a mason jar.
  • Trace shapes/letters/words on child’s back with your finger.
  • Draw a picture of your bedroom and label all the things in it.
  • Watch Lunch Doodles With Mo Williams Author of Don’t let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and Knuffle Bunny. Each short episode features Willems in his studio, teaching kids how to draw characters, and talking about his personal artistic process.
  • Join the Los Angeles Public Library OverDrive collection. This collection includes ebooks, audiobooks, movies, and magazines.

Connection

  • Facetime grandparents and friends a lot.
  • Have your child pick a topic they’d like to learn about and spend 30 mins each day on that topic.
  • Make tents and reading caves. Include flashlights, tidy snacks, books, and pillows!
  • Practice a mindfulness activity. Here are some examples.
  • Create a gratitude or vision board.
  • Have your child interview you about when you were his/her age and how life was the same/different.

Maker

  • Code using Scratch or Scratch Jr. Free download HERE.
  • Try stop motion animation with playdough (Instructions HERE to make playdough at home).
  • Create your own board or card game!
  • Build with Legos.
  • Turn your Lego maze into a coding activity. HERE are instructions.
  • Do card making/scrapbooking projects.

Math

  • Bake with your child. Have him/her measure out the ingredients.
  • Use a deck of cards and play war. To make it harder, throw down two cards instead of one and have your child add/subtract/multiply the total.
  • Go through your kitchen cabinets or office drawers and group objects.
  • Play boardgames that involve counting.
  • Identify shapes in your home.
  • Make a map of each room. This helps with spatial language. Ask questions about where they’re located and how close together they are.
  • Take out a measuring tape and measure items around the house.
  • Make collections and draw them. Find 10 leaves/rocks and sort them by size.
  • Graph the people in your family by the color of their eyes, hair, favorite things to do, etc.
  • Look for shapes around the house.

Hope these activities will help!

Remember, it’s also very important that we allow our children to be “bored” and not always provide them with activities to keep them entertained. Constructive boredom allows children to become creative and self-sufficient.

For more resources and information, please go to https://www.thewillows.org/about-us/coronavirus-covid-19-update

6 Mindfulness Activities To Do With Your Child!

“We actually don’t want to get rid of the thoughts and feelings and urges. We just want them out of the way so they don’t prevent us from seeing clearly.”

Right now is the perfect time to practice some mindful exercises with your kids!

A helpful tip is to set a daily routine for practicing mindfulness to make sure you incorporate it. This could be a time before your child sits down to start his/her day or can be used during transitions.

Kids model after us. Make sure to do it with your child.

Here are 6 simple mindful practices that you can start.

S.T.O.P.

Stand up and breathe. Feel your connection to the earth.
Tune in to your body. Lower your gaze. Scan your body and notice physical sensations or emotions. Discharge any unpleasant sensations, emotions or feelings on the out breath. Notice any pleasant ones and let them fill you up on the in breath.
Observe. Lift your eyes and take in your surroundings. Observe something in your environment that is pleasant and be grateful for it and its beauty.
Possibility. Ask yourself what is possible or what is new or what is a forward step

Connect with nature

Take a 5 minute nature walk in your neighborhood or backyard to breathe in fresh air and to change the setting. While you are out there, encourage your child to look around and take in the environment with his/her senses.

Dragon breathing

Sit up straight, breathe in, stick out your tongue, and breathe out like a dragon. This is great for younger children. It may seem silly at first but it’s a great way to bring deep breathing down to their level.

Mindfulness 5-4-3-2-1

Use this technique to ground kids and young adults. Have your child look around his/her current surroundings and find five things he/she can see, four things he/she can touch, three things he/she can hear, two things he/she can smell, and one thing he/she can taste. By the time your child gets through listing all of those, they will be more present and calm.

Glitter jar

The glitter jar is a great visual metaphor of our roller coaster of emotions and thoughts. Create a glitter jar using a mason jar, glycerin, and glitter. Have your child shake the jar and feel free to use these prompts:

So what is the one thing we can do to get the glitter to settle and see clearly again?

And what happens when we are still?

When things become clear, we’ll know the wise next thing to do. In fact, that’s one definition of wisdom: seeing things as they are and choosing how to act.

While we wait, does the glitter go away? No, it stays at the bottom. Our thoughts and feelings and urges are still in our minds, but they are no longer in our way, clouding our vision.

An aspiration

Decide on an aspiration. Just ask yourself this question: What is my heart’s aspiration? Pause for about 20 seconds. Do this a second or third time and write down what comes to you. Perhaps it is to come from love, or to be kind to yourself or others or to be patient.

These are just 6 simple ways to be mindful. Remember, there is no wrong way to do this. Set your tone and create a consistent schedule of practicing mindfulness for a few minutes every day with your child.

Remember, a little practice goes a long way.

For more resources and information, please go to https://www.thewillows.org/about-us/coronavirus-covid-19-update

Take A Virtual Field Trip!

“The mountains are calling and I must go.”

John Muir

We know many of you are spending long hours at home and may be yearning for a field trip. Well, you’re in luck! You can take a virtual field trip to your favorite National Park or museum. And the best part, it’s free!

To help our Willows Community, we have compiled a list of National Park and museums you can visit from the own comfort of your home. From walking around The Grand Canyon to exploring the Louvre, there are plenty of places to visit.

National Parks

Museums

We hope you enjoyed your virtual field trip. Please check back as we will continue to provide resources and tips.

For more resources, please go to https://www.thewillows.org/about-us/coronavirus-covid-19-update

Creating A Positive Home Learning Environment For Your Children

As we transition to distance learning, it’s important to create a positive home learning environment for your children. Their home is now becoming their school. Below are a few tips for helping you and your children ease into this new learning environment.

Developing a schedule

Write out a schedule with your child! It is important for children to have a visual of what their day looks like. Your teacher may have provided a temporary outline of what to do so please use that as a template!

Here is a sample schedule:

Please note that these schedules are flexible! If you aren’t able to follow it exactly, that’s okay! You can pick it up on a different time/day.

Creating a learning space

Help your children create their own special place at home where they will be most comfortable and able to do their best work. Consider creating a basket with school supplies your child might need such as paper, pencils, pens, scissors, glue, etc. You can even have them create a name card like the one they have at school!

Parents role/expectations

Remote learning will most likely be new not only for your children, but for you and for your teachers. In the first days, you will discover how much support your children will need to make this effort be successful. Make sure to set expectations for learning. For the time being, their home is also their school. Have a conversation with your child and discuss what works and what doesn’t work, especially in the first couple of days. Remember, this may be a difficult transition for your child, so it’s essential that you take in their feelings and adjust appropriately.

We recognize that families may face complications including space and logistical concerns. Hopefully these tips will help ease some of that. Our goal is to be flexible during this time and assist in supporting your family.

Please reach out to your teachers for support if needed.

For more resources, please go to https://www.thewillows.org/about-us/coronavirus-covid-19-update

Wondering How To Talk To Your Children During This Time? Here Are Some Tips!

“Kids worry more when they’re kept in the dark”

Rachel Ehmke, Child Mind Institute

During this time of uncertainty, it is extremely important that, as adults, we stay calm. Many of these younger children will not remember the facts and specifics about the coronovairus (COVID-19), but they are watching and observing us and will remember how they felt during this time.

The news of coronavirus is everywhere so don’t be afraid to discuss this with your child. Give them the safe space to talk openly and be a listener.

Here are some tips on talking to your children.

Allow them the space to talk

If your child is the type that needs to talk about their feelings and concerns, let them know at any time they can come to you and ask questions or re-open conversations. It’s important you do not “dismiss” how they are feeling. If your child shares his/her feelings with you, make sure it’s a positive experience so they learn that coming to you is a good thing!

Validate your child’s concerns or feelings

Children need to know how they are feeling is normal.

A dialogue could look something like this:

“It looks like you’re worried. I hear you and it’s okay to feel this way. Some people are also feeling worried about this. We are right here for you and we can talk about ways to make you feel safer. Let’s think about your worry as a way your brain is telling you to be safer by being more careful about keeping our bodies healthy. Remember a month ago when you were sick and couldn’t go to school? What happened when you went back to school? Sounds like your teachers all helped you catch up and helped make a plan on how to get your assignments in. It sounds like they took care of you. Did that help you feel better? There are a lot of other people as well that care about you and will help you again just like the time you were sick and missed school.”

Manage your own big feelings

“When you’re feeling most anxious or panicked, that isn’t the time to talk to your kids about what’s happening with the coronavirus,” warns Dr. Domingues, PhD, a child psychologist at the Child Mind Institute. If you notice you’re feeling anxious, take some time to calm down before trying to have a conversation or answer your child’s questions.

Adults set the emotional tone for our children. If you’re panicked and obsessed with the news, your child will pick up on that and they will focus on what they can’t control. If you’re calm and collective and provide small bits of information about what you can control, you will dial down your child’s anxiety.

A dialogue could look something like this:

“It’s great news doctors know how this virus gets spread. The means we know some things to do to stay. Healthy. What do you think we can do to stay healthy?”

Be reassuring

Make sure to discuss with your child how rare the coronavirus actually is and that only a small percentage of people would require hospitalization. Reassure them that the news doesn’t highlight everything and that the majority of people will be okay.

These are just a few tips on how to talk to your children. For more resources, please go to https://www.thewillows.org/about-us/coronavirus-covid-19-update

Please reach out to us if you need any support at this time.

An Expression of Intersession – A Look into this Past Week.

It’s a wrap!

This first week back, the entire school departed from the day-to-day school curriculum and partook in a week-long adventure into Intersession. Intersession is an immersive five-day period, which offers a different approach to project-based, experiential learning, and an opportunity to fully integrate our disciplines in a fresh, illuminating academic experience. During this time, students take a break from regular academics to participate in a variety of classes that tie into the schoolwide theme of “The Ties That Bind Us.” It offers students another path to expand their learning beyond the classroom. While it is just one week out of the year, Intersession is a powerful way to strengthen curiosity, enhance cross grade level relationships with teachers and students, and expand the joyful learning that is central to The Willows’ mission and educational philosophy.

From creating a carnival from scratch to developing street art and street wear (and many things in between), The Willows’ Intersession program features a diverse and exciting line-up of experiential learning opportunities to open minds and hearts to possibilities.

Here are the general skills involved in the Intersession classes:

  • Cooperation and teamwork, planning, problem solving, collaboration, overcoming challenges, physics concepts, cause and effect, trial and error, evaluating and prioritizing, sequencing, interpretation of different possible outcomes, and design thinking.

Take a peek at some of the wonderful projects and learning that went on:

Carnival (DK-K):

Willows City (1-2):

Escape Rooms (3-5):

Create Your Own Sport or Board Game (3-5):

Bridges (3-5):

Become a Storyteller, Write a Radio Play (3-5):

World of Felt: Felted Food Stories (3-5):

Street Art and Street Wear (3-5):

Macrame and Ceramics (3-5):

The T’S That Bind Us (6-8):

Creative Design That Binds (aka Fancy Forts) (6-8):

Catapults: The Tie That Binds Science, Latin, and Math (6-8):

Band Together! (6-8):

Think Biggerer! (6-8):

On Wednesday, January 15 from 6 pm to 7 pm, The Willows will be showcasing many of the creative and technical projects that were created during Intersession at Family Ed Night.

Hope to see you there!

Once an Idea, Now a Reality!

Not only do Willows’ teachers possess the “Can Do” spirit, so does the facilities team.

Over the years, you may have seen some new additions at The Willows like the multi-purpose furniture between Buildings 4 and 6 or the free-standing sand sifter in the sandbox. What you may not know is that these were all made in-house by our talented facilities team.

The Willows’ facilities team consists of Treisha, Rocky, Gonzo, Eladio, Juan G., Juan V., and Daisy who have a combined 50 years at The Willows. They have embraced The Willows spirit, and when something needs to be done, they accomplish it!

Here are a few objects that have been created by the facilities team:

The multi-purpose furniture idea originated when students and staff noticed there weren’t enough outdoor classroom spaces on campus. They researched and found the best solution for The Willows would be a mobile outdoor classroom apparatus. The Middle School students interviewed teachers and students who would be using the space the most and collaborated with a San Francisco architectural firm, Thing One, to construct 2D and 3D models. The blueprint was then given to our facilities team to be constructed as a working product!

These Design Lab tables were made out of necessity–we had a wonderful design lab but no tables. The facilities team built tables to the dimensions that fit perfectly for the space for a fraction of the purchase cost!

It’s amazing to have a hands-on, talented facilities team, but more importantly, it’s beneficial for our students. By modeling the inquiry process and design thinking approach, students are able to see first-hand the ideas they formulated become a reality on campus in front of their eyes. Students then begin to understand that with the right amount of tools and resources, they can bring their own ideas to reality.

This collaboration and “Can Do” spirit is what makes The Willows a special place. As the saying goes, it takes a village, but in our case, it takes a community!