Monday, November 25, 2013

The Smile and Show Gratitude Game


Since it is so close to Christmas, I thought I would share the “Smile and Show Gratitude” game.

Sometimes it is really hard for kids to be able to smile and show gratitude when they receive presents that they do not want or like.  When I taught preschool, we would play a fun game to teach kids to smile and say, “thank you.”  The game helped  children get in the habit of saying “thank you” when they received a gift, even if it was something like underwear. 

Here is an example.   I would ask, “What would you do if you got a tuna sandwich for Christmas?”  Of course they would laugh, but then they were to say, “I would say thank you.” I would always try to think of really crazy gift ideas.  But no matter how crazy the gift idea was, the children were always to say, “I would say thank you.” 

Being silly helped them want to play the game.  They learned to say thank you no matter what the gift was. It was also helpful teaching  them in a safe and comfortable environment. 

I now homeschool my two boys and I have changed how we play the game.

It now involves the boys going to find the strangest item that they can find and wrapping it or putting it in a gift bag.   Then they exchange the presents with each other.

The fun of the game is finding a funny and unusual “gift” and seeing if they can throw off the other brother.

The challenge of this new twist is to practice saying thank you without having a shocked look on your face.  It also helps kids learn to tell why they are grateful for that item. It is so fun that my kids play over and over again.

I love watching them play it because it is always interesting to see what ideas they can come up with for the usefulness of the item. My older son was once presented an old torn sock during the game. He said, “Wow, thank you! I really needed this so I can make a sock puppet.”

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Blessing Of Being Without A Dryer.

In the spirit of our family motto, “Don’t look at what you are missing. Look at what you are seeing.” I want to reflect on the few weeks we were without a dryer and what a blessing that was to me. 

It was the week we were gearing up to learn how the pioneers washed and dried their clothes.

I had already bought the clothes line that we would hang our clothes on as they dried. 

I had already picked out two tall trees that were the perfect distance apart so that we could get a big load of clothes on it.

I had also just bought two new packages of clothes pins. 

And then it happened…

I was right in the middle of drying a load of clothes when the dryer died.

Nothing could be done to fix it. At least it had good timing.

That was the day that started a really neat blessing. 

Our days actually slowed down. Instead of being able to do 4 to 5 loads of laundry a day, I could only do one. We could not rush around gathering the clothes and folding them as fast as we could between school lessons. We were taking our time, putting the wet clothes in the basket , walking to the line, and hanging the clothes. We laughed and talked as we carefully placed the clothes on the line. 
The boys commented on the fresh smell of the clothes. I told them that it was because I put peppermint essential oil in my clothes detergent to give me a peppy attitude as I clean. They just laughed.  And we continued being silly and hanging our clothes.  Hanging the clothes on the line became a relaxing and fun job.

After the clothes were hung, we stayed outside and played. We did not sit and listen for the dryer to buzz as usual, but instead we enjoyed our peaceful reading of “Little House in the Big Woods”.

At night when the clothes finished drying, the boys and I would go out and gather the clothes off the line. We enjoyed smelling how fresh they smelled after being in a nice breeze all day. We enjoyed listening to the owls and watching the sun go down while we put the clothes in the basket.

I loved the peacefulness of it all. I enjoyed reflecting on our day as I smelled the clothes. I was really able to take everything in. 

Another great thing that happened was that I got back into ironing, since we did not have the convenience of throwing the clothes in the dryer to get the wrinkles out. I realized I love the slowness of ironing. It was nice to be able to do something slowly and really think about what I was doing. I could focus on the fact that I was able to do this and it was helping to take care of my family. I also had the opportunity to teach the boys how to iron their clothes. 

Was I glad when the dryer arrived? Sort of. But I loved that it felt like I had more time and that I could be more intentional with my day.