Critical Conversations to Have With Kids
*Click any image in this post to be taken to the resource.
Now more than ever I have noticed that more caregivers are realizing the importance of having conversations with their kids about race, racism, and diversity. I have been having these conversations with my 4 year old son for a little over two years.The conversations started by me simply pointing out and admiring diversity. Naming races, languages, cultural differences and ethnicities. Celebrating the differences and talking about our similarities.I think of them as training sessions. I am preparing my son to grow up and become a citizen of the world. He needs to be culturally intelligent. He needs to be anti-racist. He needs to value other people. I have always pointed out and named the races of characters in the shows we were watching or the books we were reading. I always say things like, “Their skin is so beautiful.” “Look at all these different skin tones! How nice.” “This story takes place in Hong Kong, that means these people are Asian.” “These women are wearing a hijab. That’s a part of their culture. What a pretty color.” Just to make sure my son (who was already noticing these things) had the vocabulary to understand what he was seeing. I wanted to make sure he was attaching good attitudes and beliefs to the people he was seeing instead of jumping to his own conclusions.
Our kids are constantly filtering information that is thrown at them by the world. They have biases we don’t know about that are already formed. They use race to reason about behavior and to choose friends at only 2 and half years old. (Katz and Kofkin)
By age 5, some kids already have the same racial biases and attitudes towards people that adults do! (Dunham et al, 2008) Let that sink in. We can’t afford to wait to have these critical conversations. Yes, they seem scary, but I’m more scared of what’s been happening because people aren’t having these conversations.
I have these conversations with my son and prepare him for the world as much as I can, but if the racist person he bumps into hasn’t been taught not to be racist, much of my preparation goes out of the window. We need all hands on deck to build a generation of anti-racist kids.
I compiled 18 questions that my son and I have asked and answered recently. My hope is that you will sit down with a child you know and love and have these conversations with them. You can tell that there’s a little boy named Noah that is off having these conversations with his mom so that he can be a better person and an informed person when he grows up. After each of our Q and A’s there are 2 questions for you to answer with your kids. 36 questions in all for you to go through.
You will see a question that has been asked by Noah or myself and then our answer. Consider having your child answer first, and then reading our response.
Then there are two discussion questions for you to have with your child. I try to keep these conversations short and sweet. I ask him a couple of questions, give him my opinion, allow him to ask questions and answer as honestly as I can. If I don’t know an answer I just say, “That’s a great questions. Let’s look it up.” and then we do.
Every now and then I love to ask questions to gauge where his mind is and intentionally try to pull out some biases. I have asked him if girls are better than boys. I have asked him if it’s better to have have two moms, two dads, or a mom and a dad. I have asked him if we should only be friends with people that have brown skin likes us. I do while he’s young enough to give an honest answer that can possibly turn into a teachable moment. I let him give his answer then say, “You wanna know what I think?”, then I give my thoughts. I would much rather he tell him his uniformed thoughts, than for me to learn about these thoughts after he has unknowingly said or done something insensitive to another child.
I really hope you and your family find these discussion prompts useful!
Again, spread them out. Don’t force your child to answer all of these in one sitting. Spread them out. Add on to the conversation the following day. Read books that reinforce what you want to teach and see if your child is making connections to these lessons.
Also, if your child is being open and honest, receive what they have to say in a way that encourages them to continue to be honest. If they feel like they are going to get in trouble for expressing their honest opinions, they may start to give answers they think you want to hear, or they may start to bet anxiety about having these conversations.
It’s a teaching moment. They are still little and you can still make a difference in the way they view and treat others.
You’ve got this!
Visual Schedule and Activities for a Caregiver at Home With a 4-6 Year Old
If you’re anything like me, you crave a schedule and a routine for your kids. I am at home full time with a 4 year old and a 10 month old baby. I have put together a visual schedule filled with activities to get you through the day! This can work with multiple children in a home if they are in the 4-6 age range. If you are adding in a child that is younger or older, you will need to adjust activities to fit their needs/abilities.
If you have multiple children that are in this age range, it can be used with all of them. Encourage them to work and play together!
As a mom and educator with 10+ years experience, I understand how valuable a predictable schedule can be for young children. Routines help kids learn self-control, build emotional stability, reduce stress, and can make kids feel comfortable and secure.
This routine can be used everyday. Trust me, your kids will grow more excited as they realize they know what to expect and what’s coming next. I follow a similar structure in my classroom, and the routine and visuals help my students thrive and contributes towards their behavioral and academic success.
This visual schedule can be used by caregivers, parents, babysitters, grandparents, or anyone that is working with young children. This routine was created with 4 to 6 year old kids in mind. I have also included a guide filled with ideas, activity guidelines, and explanations for each part of the day I’ve included.
I hope you and your kids see the benefits of this schedule!
I have created 17 slides that will help guide you through your day. (7:30a.m. – 4:00p.m.)You can choose how to display the slides to your child to signal a change of activity. You can display the images in a way that works best for you and your child.
I created two sets of slides. Slides with no suggested times included and slides with times of the day included. These slides are for you and your child to use. I LOVE using schedules to keep me on track too. When I don’t have one, I have been known to miss snack time or forget to have some independent time. Children love visual cues! They do really well when they know what’s coming and when they are given choices.
I have built a day filled with fun, engaging activities, learning, and plenty of choice! Literacy questions and center time activities are included. You need to have a book! If you don’t have a book, don’t worry! There are plenty available on YouTube to watch and then ask questions about.
In order to build a learning environment that will keep your child challenged and engaged, you may need a few items. You might already have some of these items lying around. I’ve listed some suggestions below. Most items can be found at The Dollar Tree.
- Art supplies (markers, paper, scissors, glue, crayons, paint, etc…)
- Reusable bag for indoor/outdoor scavenger hunts
- Food coloring (for water bins or science experiments)
- Glitter (to add to water bins or for art projects)
- Alphabet cards
- Number cards (The Dollar Tree)
- Dry erase board/sheet
- Dry erase markers
- Bins for water play
- Academic Workbook (The Dollar Tree has great ones. There are also printable resources included in your download.)
You also have the option to print a poster that displays the full day, complete with arrows, so your child can see exactly how their day is flowing. You may also want to print the slide and add them to a binder you can flip through as each part of the day is completed.
The morning starts with getting ready, having breakfast and outdoor play! Plenty of options have been included for fun things to do. If you can’t make it outside, inside free play or movement videos on YouTube are just as great! Don’t think you have to have Instagram-worthy games/activities going on for your kids to have fun. Give your kid a bowl with glitter and soap in the water. Then hand them a straw and watch them entertain themselves for 20 minutes. Adding dye, glitter, or soap to anything makes it 10x more fun.
Also, where I am, in Florida, we are lucky if we stay outside for 10 minutes at a time. You can split that time into outdoor/indoor play. You can extend or shorten whatever works best for you and your kids.
After playing, I like to incorporate some learning time. I’ve given you and your child many options to choose from! The guide included in your download explains what to do for each activity listed below.
They’ll work on two for 15 minutes each. Don’t drag an activity out and give your child time to get bored! Keep them engaged and busy. Change activities as needed to keep their focus. Don’t forget to clean up as you go to save yourself the headache letter.
I love adding technology to everything I teach. I am not against screen time during learning time if it’s enhancing the experience. YouTube is my BFF for kicking off an activity to get child excited about what he’s about to learn.
Activities for emerging readers and writers are included in your download as well! This should be a time when you are working WITH your child(ren.) You can also use this time to utilize alphabet flashcards, or any workbooks you have. I love using YouTube to guide handwriting practice and letter formation. There are also some great alphabet or rhyming songs you can find there, too! I have included 9 of my own resources (seen below) I created that I have used in the classroom with my 5-6 year old students and 4 year old son. If you believe your 4 year old is ready to begin early literacy skills, they will do great with your guidance and support! You will get over 400 pages of literacy, math, and science work! Print the activities as needed for practice during literacy time.
As much as possible, make learning fun! Make it a game. Incorporate movement, music, and visuals as much as you can.
I always try to find a quick game on a website or a free app that connects to the activity we are engaging in. Starfall.com and ABCya.com (the websites not the apps) are some that I enjoy!
Example: Tell your child you are going to learn letter names. Then play a YouTube video about letter names (The account: Have Fun Teaching has great ones) and finally go through letter names using your flash cards or an alphabet chart. Have them practice writing the letter. Then play Alphabet Bingo on ABCya.com.
During center time, my son does two activities. We call them his learning centers. He works at our kitchen table or at a smaller table we have for him. It’s up to him. Center time is a time for him to keep learning on his own. He knows to keep working until his timer goes off. He’s a great student/kid! I am not opposed to my child picking learning games or learning videos every day as his choice, and more often than not, he does. To me, learning is what matters. My son uses the Khan Kids and Duolingo app daily to practice literacy, math, and Spanish skills. But he also plays with big foam letters we have from Target and practices spelling words and names.
One of the activities listed for outside play is going on a scavenger hunt. I have included 10 scavenger hunt sheets. Some can be used inside and some can be used outside. You can laminate the sheets and use dry erase marker to make sheets reusable! Consider bringing a bag on the scavenger hunt to collect items you find! Again, if you can’t get outside, don’t sweat it. Just play where you can. Sometimes our outside time is walking our dog to the end of the sidewalk and coming right back to play with blocks inside.
You can print these sheets and laminate them. Use a draw erase marker to make them re-useable.
I love using dry-erase boards and makers for a lot of the work my son does. Handwriting practice, name writing, drawing picture, everything!
I created 80+ notebook labels that my son has been obsessed with. We do one drawing prompt each day. I encourage my son to label the pictures he is drawing. He loves spelling and enjoys it! If you just want the drawing prompts for free, click here. Your child can draw and color. You can encourage your child to label pictures even if it’s just with the beginning letter they hear. You could also encourage your child to write a sentence or story to go along with the picture that they drew. I used a rubric with my son. He could earn up to three hearts on his work each day.
6 rubrics have been included with your download (but not with just the free set of prompts).
I have incorporated independent time. This time is important for me, because I just need a break every day. When my 10 month old is napping. I send my 4 year old to play independently. Sometimes he’s in the same room with me, but most often he goes to another room. so that I am able to continue to work or have me time.
Open-ended and independent play is so important! It can help your child build self-regulations skills. Your child may complain about this time at first, (I know mine did) but it pushed him to use his imagination and get really creative figuring out how to entertain himself. Also, he is well aware that any mess he makes has to be cleaned up by him, so he has gotten really good about not making too huge of a mess and cleaning up after himself. He enjoys listening to music during this time too. Sometimes he’s in his room, other times he’s playing next in the same room as me, but I am working and/or caring for his baby brother. Sometimes, I let him enjoy some screen time during independent time. Also, feel free to do an activity that isn’t on the list!
If you’ve had a day and need to extend screen time, go for it. You know your needs best. No judgement here. I definitely need to extended screen time from time to time to get dinner ready, work, or even just have a minute of quiet.
Your download includes:
- 2 Visual schedule PDFs (with or without times)
- 2 Visual schedule posters (with or without times)
- 6 Rubrics for evaluating work
- Guide for how to use this resource, ideas for teaching, and tips for teaching.
- 80+ notebook drawing prompts
- 400+ pages of teacher created resources (literacy, math, and science)
- 10 scavenger hunt sheets
If all of this sounds like something you could use while you’re at home with your little one(s) or to give to your child’s caregiver, click any of the images in this post to purchase this game changing resource!
I know you’re going to love it!
Social Studies for December
December is tricky. We say this because, for years and years, Christmas themed topics, books, activities, etc…. dominate the primary classroom. To people with religious privilege (meaning the holidays your culture celebrates are recognized and celebrated nationally…even providing time off work/school, etc…) this may not be a big deal. We live in America, though. While for a lot of people, saying something like, “hey- teaching Christmas themed activities in your class isn’t inclusive” might seem un-American, when you think about it…that’s the most American thing ever. Because freedom, right? And, side note: this blog post is curated by two Jesus LOVING Christian women. But…if we are being culturally responsive, equitable, and inclusive- we have to rethink what has traditionally been done for decades.
So. December social studies.
We learned about the International Day of Persons with Disabilities which happens annually on December 3rd for sociology. We love finding things that are happening in the world and leaning into them. We, of course, pulled up videos from some of the notable people that this organization suggested and learned more about their life with a specific disability. We learned about Christopher Reeve, Wilma Rudolph, and Frida Kahlo. Students had amazing conversations about equity and access- and raising awareness.
We also learned about the very curious history of a “White Elephant” gift exchange. Why is it called that? Well, fascinating story. I’ll let some snapshots from our eBook tell it.
Isn’t that something?! We thought that this was an incredible story that allowed students a little history behind a phrase that is commonly used.
What kinds of topics do you enjoy studying in December?
Social Studies for November
*click on any image to be taken to the resource*
November. What a time to be thankful! We are thankful for a fresh take on traditional stories this month. Let’s jump in.
We have to start with Thanksgiving. We won’t get into it all here because we break it down in our book but you should know that we don’t play that “pilgrims and Indians” stuff. I mean, it’s historically inaccurate amongst the other problematic narratives that we love to focus on (i.e. “Squanto the Friendly Indian) but outside of that, we could focus on the whole reason that Thanksgiving became a national holiday. Sarah Josepha Hale. Her story is fascinating and kids LOVE to hear all about her thirty-year campaign to get Thanksgiving celebrated nationally.
We also turn specific attention to Native Americans as November is recognized as Native American Heritage Month. We learn about some important events and notable indigenous people. We learn about the National Day of Mourning and study some cool accomplishments by lots of people!
We had to get some geography in! We thought it would be fun to study popular foods that are massed produced for Thanksgiving and locate them on the map! We studied various land and water forms that are necessary to get a particular crop to grow.
Lastly, we wanted to sneak a little civics in- so we learned about the three branches of government. It is so much fun to watch the connections happen when they remember that we learned other civic concepts ( like when we learned about Congress).
It was a great November!
Inside Look at Background Builders: Water
This is the second digital magazine that LaNesha and I offer! It’s a really fun way to get your students to engage with science and social studies topics while tackling ALL of the K-1 nonfiction Common Core State Standards.
We have 8 interesting topics that will help you cover all of the standards in a fun and authentic way with your students. All of the topics in this issue are connected to water in some way! And it’s all digital and planned out for you! We paired up the standards and designed objectives and comprehension questions for each day to help you teach your students!
Before each article we broke down all of the features included for you to go over with your students and help them learn about nonfiction text features. They will use these text features to make a prediction about the article.
When it’s time to read the article, your students will have a full-color projected article to follow along with. A teacher guide has also been included to help guide you through the lesson. (Seen below)
Read the article and then answer the comprehension questions with your class. Make sure to refer back to the text to support your answers!
You will follow this format for 8 days, covering a variety of topics and standards. Days 9 and 10 have been reserved for allowing the students to demonstrate what they’ve learned.
After the first magazine (Color), each issue will focus heavily on a certain text feature. This magazine’s focus feature is maps and map keys.
A rubric has been included for students to create their own article. Ideas have been included in the download for those that are distance learning at this time.
We hope this gave you lots of ideas! This resource can be purchased here.