Why I Give Preschoolers Stickers for Craft Time - post by S. J. Little

Why do I sometimes give preschoolers stickers for craft time? Am I being lazy? No. When used intentionally, stickers provide multiple benefits for preschoolers.

Benefits:

  1. Before they can effectively hold a pencil, a child needs to strengthen their fine motor muscles and hand-eye coordination.
    • Simply put, fine motor muscles are the small muscles in the hands. These muscles are used to do fine detail tasks such as holding a pencil, picking up a spoon, and putting beads on a string, among countless other tasks. When a child strengthens these muscles in their pre-writing years, they have an advantage when it comes time to learn to write. Peeling stickers and putting them on paper, exercises those fine motor muscles.
    • Hand-eye coordination is another super valuable skill for preschoolers to develop. In basic terms, it is getting one’s hand to go where one wants it to go. Activities such as feeding oneself with a spoon, writing letters, and giving high fives require good hand-eye coordination. Coordinating hands to peel the stickers and then placing the stickers where they want on the paper, are great ways to practice using hand-eye coordination.
  2. In our fast-paced world, teaching a child toStrips of stickers ready to be used by preschoolers. sit down and focus on one task for a length of time can be challenging. Stickers, I have found, can bring surprising results in this regard. Some children, though not all, are willing to sit down and work hard on peeling those stickers for longer than they would typically sit. Please don’t get me wrong with this one. Yes, we want children to be up and moving, engaged in active play, but it is also important for them to be developing their attention span. Having a longer attention span can enable them to get deeper into play rather than bouncing from one toy to the next.
  3. Most children enjoy stickers. As a teacher, I have a few children who do not enjoy craft time. Stickers might grab the interest of a child who typically dislikes crafts and help them begin to realize that sitting down to do crafts can be fun.

Tips:

  1. Cut the sheet of stickers into strips
    • Rather than handing a full sheet of stickers to a child, cut the sheet into strips. For really small stickers I find 6 or 7 stickers per strip is a good number as the paper is then big enough for the child to hold. For bigger stickers, I often cut them into groups of two or three. Giving the child only one of these strips of stickers at a time helps keep them focused and motivated as it isn’t an overwhelming number of stickers and there are fewer stickers to choose from at a time.
  2. Remove sticker blank areasPeeling back part of sticker sheet to make stickers easier for children to use.
    • I recently discovered that removing the blank areas around the actual stickers makes it far easier for little hands to peel the stickers. (See picture.)
  3. Teach children to bend the paper
    • Some children need me to teach them how to get the stickers. I show them that bending the paper causes the sticker to lift up for easy removal. (See picture.)Teach preschoolers to bend the sheet of paper to remove the sticker.
  4. Avoid “thin papery” stickers
    • Beware of thin papery stickers as they may rip easily when being peeled from the paper, making the activity difficult and discouraging for children.
  5. Mess-free craft
    • This is an excellent craft for picture day. When all my children are dressed in their finest outfits, and feeling fidgety due to the special day, stickers are my go-to. They won’t stain fancy clothes and the children are excited to use them.

What are your tips for giving preschoolers stickers for craft time? Do you see other benefits of using them?

River with ice melting along the banks. God is working to melt the ice in me. S. J. Little

Autumn, my favourite season of the year. The leaves turn colours, the air is crisp, and the first snow coats the ground.

I was recently blessed to be able to spend a few days in the Rocky Mountain foothills. I enjoyed the opportunity for quiet morning walks and time to reflect and press deeper into my relationship with Jesus.

Although it had snowed a couple of days before I arrived, the temperatures during my stay reached above freezing.

As I strolled through the forest on my second morning, I followed my footsteps from the previous day to a rocky beach along a nearby river where I’d sat the day before.

I looked up at a sound, not quite sure what it was. River with melting iceAfter watching and listening for a time, I concluded that the sound came from the ice on the river as it melted. Indeed, the ice lining the edges of the river was far smaller on this second day than it had been the day before. No longer was the ice threatening to span across the river.

As I ran my gaze over the melting ice, my mind wandered back to the things I’d been pondering and praying about at this beach the morning before. They were painful thoughts rather than pleasant. Thoughts of some challenges I’ve been facing in my life recently. Thoughts which, at times, inspire tears.

Looking at the river, I recalled a common allegory. It pictures me, a Christian, as a channel through which God’s love can flow. The love doesn’t come from me. Rather, God is working through me.

Sometimes, however, things in my life hinder the flow of God’s work through me. In the same way, the ice on this river hampered its flow. Indeed, the ice had constricted the river to a mere half of its typical width. Yet now, as the ice continued to melt, the river flowed more freely and fully.Cracked ice on a river - S. J. Little

Using this allegory, God reminded me of a different perspective on the challenges I’ve been facing. God is using them for good. 

In my life, I have areas, just like the ice, constraining the flow of God’s work through me. In order to melt that ice inside of me, God is allowing these challenges. They hurt and throb, perhaps like fingers thawing after a snowball fight. Yet, somehow, the end result will be good, as I lean into God during this time of challenge.

These challenges are melting those troublesome areas of ice within me, that I may more fully be available for God to work through me.

Is this an easy thing to remember? No, but what a burden it lifts when I do remember.

Indeed, I write this post as a reminder to myself to keep my eyes on the end result, rather than the current challenges which threaten to overwhelm me.

Romans 6:3-5 is a good reminder for me along these lines.

“We also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts…” Rom. 6:3b-5a CSB

In reflecting on these things, I have found A. W. Tozer’s words to be true.

“When I understand that everything happening to me is to make me more Christlike, it resolves a great deal of anxiety.” – A. W. Tozer

Oh, that I would remember that God is working in me when challenges come.

Image 5 from Kidlit Fall Writing Frenzy 2019

The Biggest Circle of All

Entry in Kidlit Fall Writing Frenzy Contest 2019

By: S. J. Little

Image: #5 (as seen above)

Word Count: 196

Contest url: https://mathiseverywhere439319476.wordpress.com/2019/09/30/kidlit-fall-writing-frenzy/

Tad, the kitten, loved round things. He found lots of round things at his farm. The tractor’s wheels were big circles. The chicken’s eggs were small ovals. Even the juicy apples were round.

One day, Tad noticed orange round things in the garden. Mommy called them pumpkins. Every day Tad checked on the pumpkins. Every day the pumpkins grew bigger.

Suddenly, things began to change. The air was cooler. The leaves changed colours. The farmer picked the juicy red apples from the trees. Then the farmer picked the great big pumpkins.

Tad felt sad because so many round things were gone.

Mommy smiled. “Not all the round things are gone. Tonight, if you look, you will see the biggest round thing of all.”

Tad was excited. What would the round thing be? Could it really be bigger than a pumpkin, or the tractor’s wheels?

That night, after it was dark, Tad looked around. Then he saw it. The moon was a circle, and tonight it was huge and orange.

“It’s the harvest moon,” Mommy explained.

Amazed, Tad climbed into a tall tree and watched the beautiful orange moon rise in the sky. He wasn’t sad anymore.

11 Quick and Wholesome Snacks for Preschool - Inexpensive and Healthy Ideas by teacher S. J. Little

I get it. You’re busy, and you’re on a budget, but you still want to pack a wholesome snack for your child. What follows are some ideas for quick, easy, healthy preschool snacks that won’t break the bank.
As a preschool teacher, I’ve seen countless snacks sent with the children in my class. Some are fantastic while others are, well… not so beneficial.
Before I continue, I’d encourage you to be familiar with your preschool’s snack policy. Most likely it includes being peanut or nut-free. It may also include other things.
Disclaimer: The following suggestions are to be used at viewer discretion as every child and preschool is unique.

Fruit and Vegetable Snacks

    1. Fresh Fruit/Veggies
      • A classic for excellent reason! Sending fresh fruit or veggies for your child is super healthy.
      • I recommend cutting the fruit for your child rather than sending the fruit whole, unless you expect them to eat the whole thing. I have had many a time when a child eats one or two bites of an apple or banana, then throws the rest in the garbage.
      • When cutting fruit, and with small round foods such as grapes and cherry tomatoes, be aware of their potential as choking hazards.
      • Possible fruit or vegetables: banana, apple, orange, peach, Berries - 11 Quick and Wholesome Snacks for Preschool - S. J. Littlepineapple, grapes, berries, melons, carrots, celery, cucumber, tomato, snow peas, bell peppers, and so on.
    2. Frozen Veggies/Berries
      • Recently I discovered a forgotten bag of green beans in my freezer. This quickly became one of my quick and easy go-to preschool snacks.
      • Put a small handful in the microwave for a minute or two. Let them cool briefly, then stick them in a container.
      • I like to add a touch of salt and oregano to spice it up, but that’s optional.
      • Possible frozen items: green beans, broccoli/cauliflower/carrot mixture, peas and corn, berries, Brussels sprouts, or anything really.
    3. Cooked Veggies
      • This is another of my favorites. It’s healthy while still being quick and easy. My favourite is broccoli. I take enough to fill my small snack container, cut into easy finger-food size, then stick the pieces in the microwave with a touch of water for a minute. The microwave softens the broccoli so it’s easy to eat without dipping.Broccoli - 11 Quick and Wholesome Snacks for Preschool - S. J. Little I often add a touch of salt and spices such as oregano or coriander.
      • Possible veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cabbage (in small portions), among others.
    4. Dried Fruit
      • I enjoy dried fruit. However, use your own discretion as to how healthy or not these are. Store-bought dried fruit may have additives or could be a concern if your child’s teeth are not being brushed well. However, they are certainly healthier than many other options.
      • Possible dried fruit: raisins, banana chips, cranberries, dates (pitted), mangoes, apricots (pitted), etc.
    5. Applesauce
      • Individual applesauce cups can be a healthy option, especially if you get the unsweetened kinds. However, be sure your child is comfortable using a spoon by themselves before sending this snack with them.

Other Snacks

    1. Leftovers
      • Have leftovers from a meal your child enjoys? Why not send them along as a snack. Just be sure your child is able to eat the leftovers independently, whether that means using a spoon or whatever is needed.
      • Options: pasta dishes, grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken nuggets, pizza, pancakes, perogies, or rice with lentils or other sauce, to name a few.
    2. ProteinProtein - 11 Quick and Wholesome Snacks for Preschool - S. J. Little
      • It’s often a good idea to include a source of protein in your child’s snack
      • Protein options: cheese, cream cheese, slices of meat, pepperoni sticks, scrambled eggs, a hard-boiled and shelled egg, and so on.
      • Beans, hummus, and yogurt can also be included for protein. I’ll give more ideas regarding those below.
    3. Hummus
      • Hummus can be sent as a dip for veggies, or spread on pita bread, a tortilla, or a slice of bread.
    4. Yogurt
      • Fruit yogurt is another good and common preschool snack item. I discourage sending yogurt tubes as those easily make a large mess when squeezed. Individual yogurt cups, or pouring a small amount of yogurt into a reusable container works well if your child is confident using a spoon. Yogurt drinks are also decent options.
    5. Beans
      • This one might sound weird, but don’t cross it off the list too fast. Next time you dump a can of chickpeas or black beans into something, eat a few plain. I knew a child who enjoyed snacking on chickpeas. I would only give beans in small amounts, and along with other snack items. They are a simple healthy addition to preschool snacks.
    6. Crackers/Cereal/Bread
      • While I don’t recommend sending a snack consisting entirely of these sorts of foods, having some along with fruit, veggies, or other foods can make a snack feel more complete and filling.
      • Crackers – there are many types of crackers available. Some are far healthier than others. Check the ingredients for things such as artificial colour or flavouring. For a bit of variety, try rice crackers, pretzels, or plain graham crackers.Dry cereal - 11 Quick and Wholesome Snacks for Preschool - S. J. Little
      • Cheerios or other low sugar cereal that can be eaten dry is another option to consider.
      • Pita bread, tortillas, naan, and chapatis are among the many types of breads you could send with your child. Perhaps spread a little cream cheese, jam, or hummus on it to add flavour. (Be wary of chocolate spreads as they often contain nuts.)
      • Raisin bread – buy or make your own. Cut a slice, butter it, and place it in a container for snack. With store-bought raisin bread, I prefer to toast it lightly before buttering.

I hope this list has given you some more snack ideas that are practical, affordable, and easy to do, while being wholesome and healthy. Do you have a favourite preschool snack for your child? Comment below.

Is it my power, or God’s power, that brings the impact? - S. J. Little

Is it my power, or God’s power, that brings the impact?

Ah, camp. I don’t know about you, but I love being at camp. This summer I was again blessed with the opportunity to volunteer at a Christian summer camp. I thoroughly enjoy such times, though, boy, can they be busy!

Each morning, with the knowledge that I’ll be hardpressed to find downtime during the day, I try to get up fifteen minutes early in order to slip out for a brief walk in the woods.

As I slipped out for my early morning walk with Jesus on the first morning, I wandered into the woods. How wonderful to be out of the city and surrounded by God’s creation.

I found a log to sit on while I stopped to read a short Psalm. Glancing at my watch, I knew I had to get moving, so I put my Bible back in my bag, and strolled toward camp singing a song of praise.

Then I heard it. I stood still and listened. Tap, tap, tap. A woodpecker must be nearby.

Slowly I turned in a circle, eyeing the trees. Could I spot the bird?Looking for woodpeckers in the forest - The Woodpecker's Power - S. J. Little

It sounded rather distant, so I started walking toward the sound. Five steps later the sound appeared to be coming from the opposite direction. I turned and walked toward the sound again. This time I only took one step before the sound seemed to switch direction again. I was confused for a moment. Then, looking straight up the nearest tree, I smiled.

There it was. A little woodpecker.

He wasn’t a fancy woodpecker – no red crest or orange wings. He was a small brown and white bird.

He was hard at work, far overhead, pecking away at the tree.

I dared only stay a minute or two, as I couldn’t be late for staff devotions, but what a lovely way to start the day. I spoke a prayer of thanks as I moved away.

Seeing the woodpecker brought to memory an allegory I’ve heard before. I don’t know who first used this allegory, but Corrie ten Boom and Jonathan Goforth are among those who’ve included it in their messages. It is a powerful reminder.

The allegory goes like this: Once there was a woodpecker. He went about hisDid the tree split because of the woodpecker or the lightning? - S. J. Little business of tapping on trees, whether looking for bugs to eat or building himself a home.

One stormy day, as he pecked at a large sturdy tree, a bolt of lightning struck the very tree he was tapping on. The tree split in half.

The little woodpecker blinked. Then lifted his head proudly. “I didn’t know I had such power!”

Of course, I know it was not the woodpecker’s power that split the tree. The power belonged to the lightning. 

The little woodpecker was helpless to take down the tree by himself. Likewise, I am helpless to bring people closer to God in my own power. God’s power must be at work.

Keeping that in mind, I appreciate how this allegory goes a little further. Allow me to explain.

God has instructed me to work with all my heart, on whatever has been placed in front of me, as working for Him. (Colossians 3:23)The woodpecker thought it was his own power that split the tree - S. J. Little

The woodpecker exemplified this in that he was pecking away at that tree. He wasn’t sitting lazily on the branch. He was doing the job he was given to do with all his heart.

It was as he laboured at his job, that the lightning struck.

Do you see it? I am to put my heart into what God has given me to do, but the real impact happens through God’s power.

As Paul said:

“I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” 1 Corinthians 15:10b ESV

Or as the New Living Translation puts it: “For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by His grace.”

Oh, that I would never forget what the woodpecker forgot, that even as I work for the Lord with all my heart, it is God’s power that brings the impact, not mine.