Author Archives: Melinda

About Melinda

Melinda is half of the mom-and-dad blogging team from LookWhatMomFound...and Dad too! Over four years ago, Melinda left the corporate world to focus on raising her children. Fifteen years of parenting three children has provided her with many experiences that she uses to educate her family on morals, ethics, and the difference between right and wrong. While she believes academics are very important, she holds fast to the idea that an education goes beyond books and grades. Melinda strives to raise children with good hearts, strong principles, and a foundation built on love and respect for others.

Discipline Tips for Children

Effective Discipline Tips for Children

Parenting doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Each decision we make as parents comes with its own set of costs that we might have to pay for at a later date. As you toddler plays in the dog’s water bowl we let out a giggle and let the behavior go as “cute”. As that child gets older and starts swatting at the dog’s tail we can no longer look away with a smile.

Introducing boundaries and restrictions to your children has to become second nature. Living a life of complete freedom may sound magnificent but how would we know accountability and responsibility for our actions.

Disciplining our children can be one of the hardest things we do. We don’t want to be seen as the bad guy but we know we have to guide our children to be truthful, inspired and kind. Following our own hearts is usually the best way but we often get caught up in some traps.

Never threaten bad behavior with empty threats. You child WILL catch on that you won’t follow through. Taking away toys or electronics for a month is excessive and we’ll often cave just after a few days. Stick with a punishment that “fits the crime” and that you’ll really follow through with.

Develop a way to minimize the whining and talking back. Sending children away to another room until the complaining is over is what works best for me. Children know how the best ways to get their parents to cave and getting under our skin often works. Find a way to keep that behavior away from your especially when you’re upset.

Negotiation skills are extremely important and are definitely something we want to develop within our children but not when it comes to setting rules and doling out punishments. Discuss the offending behavior, determine your child’s consequence and then it’s end of discussion. Stay unwavering, they’ll start to realize that you mean business.

Lay down family rules first. If your children don’t know it’s not OK to dig in the garden then it’s not fair to punish them for it the 1st time it’s done. Once it’s been discussed then an appropriate consequence should be upheld. Make the rules clear for everyone and talk about it often so they aren’t conveniently forgotten.

Bribing your baby to crawl by offering a new toy is a great incentive but it’s not the best practice for children who understand right from wrong. Rewarding good behavior with treats, stickers, money and quality time spent together will work much better than disingenuous behavior in the beginning.

Parenting is often about trial and error. We can turn in any direction and fin a new resource that tells us what is best. We have to make our own decisions that make sense for our families. These aren’t rules on how to discipline your children but instead guidelines on how to take the best approach to maintaining a respectful and organized home. Work with your own child’s ages, abilities and awareness to bring out the best in them.

Outdoor Activities for Spring for the Family

Spring Outdoor Activities

The warmth has started peaking through the cold winds and snow flurries. That could only mean spring is on its way.  With the ground warming up the local parks and trails are calling our name just wanting us to get some fresh air and exercise and spend some fun quality time with our family.

To take advantage of these bursts of sunshine I’ve put together a few easy activities that can be done outside with little work or effort but loads of fun and excitement.

Grab a hula hoop and see who can last the longest. Yes, hula hooping can be done indoors but there is never enough room for EVERYONE to do it at the same time. If you have the extra large hula hoops try jumping them like a rope.

Feed the ducks with bread ends, berries and thawed frozen peas at the local pond.  Be careful with those Canadian geese though, they can get aggressive toward the food.

Start a garden with just a few seeds. Now is the perfect time to work with a planter or flower pot to get a jump on flowers or herbs.  Placing your seedlings in the sunshine during the day and bringing it inside at night ensures it will survive the remaining weeks of winter.

Paint the landscape with watercolors, pencils or even crayons. Bring your art supplies to the park or backyard. Find that perfect subject and bring it to life on a canvas.  Create a new piece of artwork for each season.

Visit a farm and watch the animals enjoy the weather.  It’s not just people that take pleasure in the changing seasons. Pull over and observe horses gallop through green meadows and cows munch on sprouting grasses. Animals of all kinds thrive in the warm sunshine.

Fly a kite on a windy day.  Make sure kids are getting some help from adults so their kite isn’t lost in a tree, power lines or into the sky. Kite flying can be tricky so practice each chance you get.

These activities don’t require extra special resources. Most of these things we have on hand but take advantage of swaps to have any kind of fun you can muster up just to enjoy your family in the great outdoors. The point is to spend time together creating memories, smiles and good times.

Explore Different Cultures and Countries

Exploring Cultures from Around the WorldGift the gift of culture this year to the kids in your life. We all know that kids aren’t lacking in the technology department. There is no shortage of touchscreens, power buttons, cartridges or charging stations. Be the friend, aunt, parent that stands out around the holidays and give the gift that enriches their mind and sparks a new curiosity into something that doesn’t have a plug.

Exposing children to a variety of cultures encourages them to appreciate the differences in traditions and experiences of others. Showing them landmarks of other countries, taste foods from other societies and discuss customs that you’ve never heard of before.
Using art, games and toys are a simple way to bring these new lessons into your own home.

This Ikea World Map Picture serves as a backdrop for any room. It’s HUGE size works more like wallpaper than just a picture. While it’s technically not an educational tool it’s a great guideline to introduce foreign areas of the world.

Matryoshka doll are Russian nesting dolls that date back to late 1800s. The outer layer is traditionally a woman and the dolls decrease in size and sometimes gender till the smallest innermost doll is revealed. These sets can capture all types themes including fairytales, animals, cartoon characters and holidays.

Russian Nesting Dolls

Put together a breathtaking mini version of the Eiffel Tower, the grandest landmark in Paris, France. As you’re putting this 3D puzzle together talk about it’s details and stats and measurements. Doing a little research on the projects and activities your work on can make a difference in turning just a building a puzzle to an architecture lesson.

3D PuzzleArts and Crafts time comes to a whole new life with a lesson in Aboriginal Art. Encourage the kids to explore their creativity using specific techniques and methods while still creating unique and original art.

Get in the kitchen and stir up come fun with new flavors and ingredients that you and your kids may not have tried before. Starting the introduction of classic cuisines can only improve the a growing palate now and for years to come. Start with a kid friendly cookbook that features recipes from all over the world and let them choose what they’d like to get started with first.

recipes for kidsExploring the world doesn’t have to a boring educational lesson. Research of another countries and their heritage and traditions can create a love and passion for the world beyond the game controller.

Mardi Gras Handprint Mask Craft for Kids

mardi ras handprint mask

Said to be the biggest holiday in New Orleans, Mardi Gras is a celebration of music, tradition, food and faith. Popular partying includes wearing costumes, dancing, participating in parades and wearing masks. The festivities were started as a reminder of the upcoming Lenten season, a Christian observance leading up to Easter. Today the festivities are celebrating well beyond the borders of New Orleans. Parades & parties can be found from Texas to Philadelphia and Georgia to San Francisco.

Create your own Mardi Gras celebration or join in with your family and friends with DIY costumes and this masquerade mask in the traditional Mardi Gras colors.

Purple Represents Justice.

Green Represents Faith.

Gold Represents Power.

Materials
Cardstock in traditional colors
Glitter glue, feathers, pompoms, sequins, etc
Pencil , popsicle stick or small dowel
Coordinating ribbon or strip of cardstock
Glue & tape

Directions
Chose the colors you want your mask to be and trace a open handprint on 2 sheets. Cut these out along with large eyeholes. Tape the handprints together, use a strip of cardstock for support behind the nose if needed.mardi gras handprint mask

Decorate the mask as your child wants with any and every craft supply that can be found. The more elaborate the better. Set aside to dry.

mardi gras handprint mask

Wrap a pencil or stick with a strip of ribbon of cardstock.mardi gras handprint mask Adhere the stick to the back of the mask with glue and a strip of paper for support.mardi gras handprint mask

Don’t forget to take lots of pictures of your own Mardi Gras fun.mardi gras handprint mask

Working through MidYear Homework Struggles

Mid year study and homework tips

We are halfway through the school year and the bad habits are kicking in. Homework is being left on the bus, books are not being returned to the library and study behaviors are taking a turn for the  worse. It’s time to motivate the kids to keep the good grades up while introducing new systems to stay on top of the school work.

Study Partner – Sometimes just sitting next to your child at the dining table while working on your own things can be a motivator to keep them working and studying.  Being available to answer questions might be the support your child needs.  Don’t underestimate your presence, even if you are silent, you can act as an inspiration to help your child keep going.

Befriend the Teacher – Talk with the educators to find out what is really happening in school. Is your child truly not grasping the concepts in class or do they just not want to do the work once they get home.  “Is a pleasure to have in class” doesn’t give a true representation of how a student is performing in their studies.  Find out from the source the quality of work that is being produced each day.

Reward and Congratulate – If you’ve witnessed your child powering through three chapters of studying for the big test, be sure to commend them on the work.  When the grades come home showing off all the hard work, a little treat might be worth it too.  Reward charts can be implemented for younger kids but occasionally just a smile and a hug is all that is needed.

Forget the Book – Take the studying outside of the text books and worksheets. A new environment can open a child’s eyes like never before. Using the neighborhood park can offer a new perspective for subjects involving nature and weather.  Utilize toys like dice or colored blocks for math and sorting activities. A little imagination can take school lessons to new levels.

Not all students need a boost to their studying and homework process. Some children need it more than others.  Working together to get out of a rut after the holidays while facing the winter blues. Push through these last few months to end the school year with a bang!

book image provided via Pixababy

Creating Kid Friendly Workspaces

creating a kid friendly work space

Getting kids motivated for homework and studying can be difficult.  Sometimes it doesn’t seem fair that they are spending 8 hours sitting in a classroom to just come home to another hour or two of work. But that’s the price the kids have to pay to get a quality education.

Creating a space where kids can be comfortable, creative and motivated to learn doesn’t have to be tricky or expensive. The key is to make it work for them and their needs.

Start with the space. Not all families have an extra nook or room to dedicated to just a workspace for kids. That’s where your own creativity comes in.

Using the existing kitchen/dining table is the usual spot for homework time.  Making it usable can be as simple as incorporating a lazy susan or basket that holds all of their tools such as pens, markers, notebooks and a dictionary. Let your child personalize their organizers too. Using recycled materials such as cans and jars with some paint, mod podge and glitter glue keeps things fun and their own.

Computer time is often a necessity for school work. Children need a safe place to complete online tasks where they can spread out, expand their curiosity and be efficient.  An organized space works for everyone.  Passwords are needed for many sites these days so keeping your child’s sign-ins handy is important for their efficiency.  A cork board or white board comes in handy to keep important items within reach and eyesight.

kid friendly work space with a computer

Every reader craves a book nook. A comfy place to settle in to soak in the pages of a favorite book can remedy any bad day.  This goes for children too. With the daily influx of technology, noise and playdates kids need an environment to relax and read. This reading time can include studying or going over assignments for class. Set up pillows and other comfort items in an unused closet or corner of a room. This is another time where a child can personalize to make it their own.

creating a reading space for kids

The key to keeping kids moving, working and motivated is to make the space you have the most comfortable for the need.  Education is most important for a growing child so why not make the process enjoyable and fun?

Bee and Heart Finger Print Valentine’s Card

valentine card

Holidays are always fun when kids are involved.  I love seeing the excitement on their faces when they  open presents and read greeting cards.  Valentine’s Day is a simpler holidays when gifts aren’t the focus. Instead the sentiment and cuteness level is given more spotlight.

Making this fingerprint Bee & Heart Valentine Card is so simple but since it’s a hands on project kids will love creating it for their friends and loved ones.

Materials used can be whatever you have on hand.  Plain index cards, cardstock, a marker or two and some finger paints or stamp pads are all that is needed.  Making them for a classroom can be done over a couple of days depending on your child’s age and attention span.  Prepping before hand is the key to making the process run quickly and smoothly, like an assembly line.

I printed off several sheets of the greeting part on regular printer paper knowing I was going to back them with colored paper.  Make one to send to a grandparent or a whole batch for the kindergarten class.

Materials used

  • red & yellow stamp pad
  • fine point black marker
  • glue stick
  • paper in choice of color(s)
  • greeting message
Will You BEE Mine Valentine Card

Feel free to use this image, modify it and change the size as you need.

Directions

You’ll need both of your child’s index fingers, One for yellow, one for red.

On your Valentine Card have your child press a yellow covered finger to make the bee’s body.  Then using the other finger have your child make the heart. As you can see this takes two presses of the red inked finger.Bee Finger Print Valentine Card

Again depending on your child’s abilities have them create the bee with a eye, smiling mouth, stripes and wings. Bee Finger Print Valentine Card

If you’d prefer to take it a step further the wings can also be made with fingerprints using black ink.

Once the valentine is dried I glued it on red paper to enhance the look. Bee and Heart Valentines Card

Final step is to have your child sign their cards. These are ready to hand out.

Bee Finger Print Valentine Card

As with any craft these can be adapted to suit the creator or receiver with some changes to materials or the process. This craft encourages use of fine motor skills like cutting, positioning fingerprints, writing and gluing.  As long as the end product produces a smile.

 

Paper Ball Ornament kids craft

paper ball ornament

With Christmas just days away families everywhere are succumbing to the pressure to keep up with shopping, wrapping gifts and hanging lights. There aren’t many free moments to enjoy the real meaning of Christmas and each other’s company. Creating memories is an important step when celebrating any holiday. A simple way to do this is crafting keepsakes and ornaments that can be cherished for years to come.

My children enjoy the simplicity of paper and glue. Over the years we’ve shaped wires, sprinkled glitter and wrapped twine in different ways to celebrate different occasions. This year was no different. We’ve worked on a whole array of new handmade ornaments.

This paper ball ornament was made by little fingers with just a couple of basic “ingredients”.

Materials
12 strips of coordinated of paper 6″ long and 1″ wide
1 pipe cleaner
Various beads or buttons
Hole punch

Directions
On each end of your paper strips punch a hole about 1/4-1/2″ away from edge.
Stack your strips of paper in your desired pattern. Using multiple papers then turns this into a mini lesson for the littlest of kids.Paper Ball Ornament craft for kids

Add your beads or buttons to your pipe cleaner making sure they don’t fall off the end. Folding it on itself works fine but a touch of glue can help too.

Thread your pipe cleaner through the holes so the paper looks like a C on top of your beads.

Paper Ball Ornament craft for kids

Determine what side of your paper you want facing out.

Paper Ball Ornament craft for kids

Top with more beads and buttons. Start fanning out your papers to get a sphere shape.

Paper Ball Ornament craft for kids

Adjusting your top beads up and down will change the shape. Using the remaining length of pipe cleaner fashion a loop to hang your ornament.

Paper Ball Ornament craft for kids

Final touches can be made to the paper shape but it’s ready to hang just several minutes after starting this craft.

Using photographs, children’s artwork or other significant papers make this craft even more personal and wonderful sentimental gifts to give.

Tips for teaching gratitude and thankfulness

teaching gratitude

Recognizing the blessings and gifts that one has sounds uncomplicated, but for a child it doesn’t come so easy.  By nature most children are self-absorbed. Their worlds are centered around their needs and wants so being sensitive to the needs of others can often escape them. Entitlement is much easier to expect starting at a young age since most request are met by parents with no questions asked.

Gratitude can definitely be taught though. Teaching a child to be thankful and gracious doesn’t have to be tricky. Simple thank yous and pleases can make a grand impact with dealing with other people. These children are often seen as more polite and having manners.

Tips to teach your child to be thankful and appreciative.

Start with the everyday things.  Encourage your children to say thank you for things like someone holding a door, sharing a snack or picking up a drop item. Then support their efforts to do these same things for others. They’ll feel better knowing they’ve given to someone else without anything in return but a smile and thank you.

End the day with a discussion of three things to be thankful for. Create a conversation that doesn’t revolve around the material things but point out the healthy delicious meals they were able to consume or the soft blankets they wrap themselves in at bedtime. Talk about the love they get from extended family and friends.  Talk about how to reciprocate that love with messages and notes they can share with them.

Don’t forget to ask them WHY they are thankful or grateful. How would their lives be affected without the things they have?  What things could they do or not do without the things they have?

With the holidays right around the corner and having to compete with the bright and shiny advertisements now is a perfect time to talk about expectations.  Gift giving time is an ideal time to teach children what matters most and how to show appreciation for everything that comes into their lives.

There are plenty of activities and stories that can help.  Research things like Gratitude Jars, Thankful activities or books that teach a lesson.

The Giving Tree

Gratitude Soup

Have You Filled a Bucket Today?

Let’s Be Thankful

Paper Pumpkin Craft for Kids

paper pumpkin craft for kids

The fall weather brings out so much inspiration for new activities, recipes and outings. The changing of the leaves and the cooler temperatures bring on a sense of warmth and calm.  That isn’t always how life goes though. With fall comes visits to orchards for apple cider donuts and pumpkins, hayrides and bonfires with marshmallows.   With the influx of pumpkins, leaves, candy corn and apples come the millions of craft ideas for the kids.  We’ve worked on several pumpkin activities this fall already but this one especially will last right through Thanksgiving.

Paper Ring Pumpkin Craft

Supplies

  • orange, green & brown paper
  • tape
  • glue

Directions

Start by making a tube (like a toilet paper roll) using your green paper. The wider the tube the bigger your pumpkin will be.

Then cut your orange paper into strips. They should be long enough to loop through your tube with plenty of extra length.

Take each loop of paper and close with a piece of tape.  Add more and more strips until you are happy with the volume.

Slide your loops so the tape is hidden inside the tube.

Cut leaves and tendrils from your green paper.

Using a piece of brown paper cut a stem shape that fits into the top of your tube.  Glue the leaves and tendrils to the stem and set aside to dry.

Slide the stem into the top of the pumpkin and display throughout the season.

Make a whole patch of these for a homemade centerpiece at the dining table. Each year when you adorn your home with these kid made decorations you’ll remember the moments you worked together to create them.