Montessori and Mindfully Inspired Activities to Calm and Soothe Baby.

Calming Baby Essential Guide

Bonding With and Calming Our Babies in Mindful Ways

Calming activities are easy. They are also cheap and enjoyable.

Calming activities for baby are also a top priority in parenting new and growing babies!

These are long term solutions for a long term calm. And ultimately that means calm for baby, parents, and the whole family. Do them everyday as part of their routine and your kids will be bonded to you like they should be. Statistics show that 40% of children in the United States are NOT bonded to their parents. So being mindful of calming strategies and doing them regularly is of mega importance.

Bonded kids have better behavior, are healthier, and feel secure. All this relates to brain development in a positive way. It allows fine motor and gross motor skills to develop without difficulty. It allows growth to happen with fewer problems. If this motivates you to keep reading, you are well on your way to raising happy kids.

Calming Baby

Babies are born knowing how to suck. Newborn babies breastfeed naturally or bottle feed when provided a bottle moments after being born. Nature has it all figured out, since sucking not only allows babies to get food, but also is a natural calming reflex. This is why babies love their bottles, their mom’s comforting nipple, and pacifiers.

But what can we provided our little precious bundles beyond what they are born with? What are the ultimate calming activities for baby?

As a developmental therapist and mom I can tell you that it’s all about comfort. The tactile system is a babies sense of touch, and it is the number one calming system for a newborn baby. Babies learn and calm through their sense of touch.  It’s what babies need and crave.

So grab a cup of tea and a blanket, cozy up here and let’s dive into into Swami Mommi’s top 7 baby activities to calm and soothe baby.

Calming Baby With Mindful Parenting

#1 and #2: Warm Bath And Baby Massage:

soothe baby, calm baby, give baby a bath, infant message, baby message

After checking the water temperature to be safe, a warm bath is ultimately calming. Not all babies love water at first, but several ideas to make their bath-time fun can be used from the start to make sure bath-time is fun-time.

Dimming the lights for example can make a sleepy baby more comfortable with less of a chance of over-stimulation. Before bed is optimal. Also, make sure to give the bath when baby is well fed and you are relaxed. Happy bellies and happy parents make happy bathers!

Calming Baby with Montessori Based Play in the Bathtub

At first bath toys aren’t needed. For newborns, water is a good enough toy. Once baby reaches 3-5 months, they will be interested in toys so it’s fun to add them. It’s good to realize through that a toy can be an old plastic bottle or big cap from a bottle. Funnels and tubes are also great ways to up-cycle old items around the house. As long as they are clean and baby can’t eat them, they will work great!

After a bath, it’s time for message. A simple message would include an organic oil such as Jojoba oil (balancing oil) and include arms, legs, belly and back. When doing arms and legs I always recommend stroking from the fingers and toes toward the the trunk. This keeps lymphatic drainage in the correct direction allowing proper removal of wastes in the skin and limbs for a good detoxification effect. I use semi-deep pressure and sometimes semi-circular strokes at the joints. Finally, I let newborns tell me how they are feeling about their message. They cry some days and giggle on others, but either way I don’t push it. I do what they will tolerate, which is really different every day.

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#3 and #4: Softest Baby Blanket you can find and a Rocking Chair

I had a rocking chair that I wasn’t using for nighttime routine, until one day I tried it out, and never again will I go without! It turned bed-time into cuddle time. Taking the softest blankets I had, I snuggled baby in to my arms and rocked her to sleep. Being mindful of what our babies like is important, but if we as parents like it too, it is self motivating. We are going to be more inclined to follow through as parents on a regular basis.

I was so scared to do this, because I feared that baby would NEVER go to sleep on her own. Despite going to sleep in her crib since birth on her back, I still feared she would NEVER go to sleep on her own once I rocked her. I must have heard just too many horror stories. Well, I was wrong. By 12 months old, I told baby that I would rock her first, and then put her in her crib. For a while she would fuss a bit when I moved her, but now she wants her crib after a little rocking. We of course do the same routine every night. Win-Win!

First I tell her it’s time to go to bed, I turn on the sound machine, and snuggle her up in a blanket. We rock in the rocker for about 20 minutes, until she either goes to sleep or is nearly asleep. Then I put her in her crib. The sound machine allows me to creep away without a trace. Even if baby wakes when I put her in her crib, I just tell her she is OK and that it is time to sleep.

Mindful Sleep Routines Help Calm Babies

We had been putting baby in either her co-sleeper bassinet or her crib for 12 months in a quite room since she was born. Early on she was swaddled in a Miracle Blanket.A friend bought us one and we were hooked. Super easy swaddle, and really helps babies refine there reflexes from extension and startle response, to curled up and calm. This is my number one recommendation to new moms, from day one! Check it out here.

The point I am trying to make is that baby was trained to calm a bedtime from the start. This has carried over and allowed us to rock baby and still get her into her crib with little fuss. I am so very happy this has worked so well, as I am not sure who loves the snuggling and rocking more, baby or I.

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Little feet in a Miracle blanket for baby swaddling.

Rocking chairs no longer need be old fashioned, they can be cute an trendy! We got one at Babies are Us, but many re-sale shops have them and they can be jazzed up easily with a cushion and blanket!

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#5 and #6: Out of the Way Place To Sleep and a Sound Machine

When I say out of the way place, I simply mean a quiet place where baby won’t be disturbed. As and adult, when I go to a hotel and the neighbor’s party won’t let me sleep, I really just want and “out of the way” place to sleep where no one will disturb me! It’s annoying to be woken up from a deep sleep. Babies feel the same way.

Babies can get cranky from being woken in mid-sleep, and it is substantiated in the research that babies that sleep more regularly have better speech. Why? It was found that speech related neurons grow while baby sleeps, with resulting better language scores overall. So sleep, sleep, sleep makes for a calm and well spoken baby. The ultimate plan to ward off frustration on the part of baby and parents!

Also, the sound machine, is a sleep insurance policy. IF there is a noise that happens to crash or bang, it will hopefully get lost in the sound machines’ background noise. I personally like the machine from Hatch Baby that you can find here. I do suggest placing the machine several feet from baby however, because it is controlled by an app. I keep all electronic devices several feet from baby, including radio and video monitors, as research shows that such devices are problematic when close in proximity to babies and children. An easy read book that talks about device safety in greater detail, writen by Devra Davis who spoke to congress on the dangers of such devices, can be found here.

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#7: Something Small to Cuddle

The bonding reflex is the reflex that insures the diminishing of the startle reflex. So the more bonding tasks the better. The startle reflex, which looks like your baby just got scared by a ghost, is supposed to diminish over time. If it doesn’t then a baby will grow up to be a child on high alert and not very calm.

However, the flexion position, aka the curling or bending forward position, will assist with the bonding reflex and ensure a calm child. Carrying baby in flexion, curling them into you as you rock them, AND carrying something small and soft when walking or sitting, will promote the flexion position and calming reflexes.

Eventually, when a toy comes crashing to the floor, or a ball bounces into their view, they won’t be startled. They will be calm. It’s bonding that lets baby know she is safe, so allow Beary or Stuffed Dragon to go along for the car ride. Let cozy Elmo tag along for the walk. And make sure that your baby has his favorite stuffed animal when ever they need it.

*Note: It is not recommended that babies have stuffed animals in their crib. Once they are older toddlers that are mobile and able to move a stuffed animal themselves, it is safer. Only have stuffed animals with babies and kids that are safe and older in age.

how to calm a baby or toddler for sleep

Routines Help Baby Calm Too

Remember, that if calming activities are done regularly, they are even more effective. Babies like to know what to expect during their day, and they thrive on routine. Even if they get out of sorts from a day of less routine than normal, they can easily move into the next day knowing their routine is there to support them. Although it may look simple, seem simple, and just right down cozy, it’s the science of growing our kids brains so their foundation is solid.

Doing the seven calming activities will grow brain connections that will support your baby now, in a year, and throughout their entire life. This is where a little mindful parenting can go a long way.

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Auditory Sensory Play: Good St. Patrick’s Day Songs for Your Little Leprechaun!

Auditory Sensory Play On St. Patrick’s Day!

Finding good music for St. Patrick’s day should not be as hard as finding a pot of gold this St. Patrick’s day. So we put together a treasure of resources for good St. Patrick’s day music for kids and the whole family. I assure you, it’s worth it’s weight in gold.

Good songs for kids can be hard to find. Not just songs, but good songs. Can you easily find songs and music that your kids like, and that you like too? Nope.

A little mindful parenting can make this easy, and this Little Leprechaun Music Guide does the work for you. As a musical family, and with years of developmental understanding as a pediatric therapist, this guide will rock your green socks off this St. Patrick’s day, as well as your kids. Auditory sensory play is always fun, but on St. Patrick’s day it super relevant too.

The music of St. Patrick’s day has been popular for centuries, and it’s easy to incorporate auditory sensory play into the fun day’s activities. With good music, you can play hot potato, have an Irish dance contest, or paint to music. All these auditory sensory play ideas work well, but good music is the key to making it go off without a hitch.

We’ve put together an original song to help your kids actively engage and participate in auditory and imaginative sensory play, a nod to Montessori based play. We also included our favorite artists and albums that you can look for and play during your St. Patrick’s Day mayhem.

Your mindful parenting work has been done for you. Cheers!

St. Patrick’s Day Song for Preschoolers and Toddlers!

I really don’t think this song has an actual age range, as I have heard moms and dad and kids singing it after they heard it just a few times. So that tells me the age range is pretty diverse.

If you want to use it at home I suggest taking a video and sending it to friends and family. In school you can make little beards and St. Patrick’s Day hats as costumes for a St. Patrick’s day parent performance or party. In the community, this works great for play-dates that are screen free. It’s a real Montessori based activity, with kids doing and being part of the fun on St. Patrick’s Day.

All these ideas are really just combinations of auditory sensory play with other senses. Facilitated by good music, kids can learn about their environment and at the same time train their musical ear.

Here are some great dress up resources to turn you kids into Leprechauns all while they engage in auditory sensory play:

Leprechaun Hat Craft

Simple Leprechaun Dress Up

Play dress up, pull out the guitar, or sing as a group. Just follow the words for “Jiggidy Jig Kid” to the familiar kids tune “Grand Old Duke of York”, and let the sensoryfun begin.

“Jiggidy Jig Kid” by Melissa S. Misra

copyright February 2018

St. Patrick's Day song for preschool

St. Patrick’s Day Music Resources for Mindful Parents:

It seems that good quality music went out of style years ago, except in the circles of musicians that meet in homes, smaller venues and in smaller online groups. There are usually just a couple of hundred people at these community music meet ups, as is the case for the below artists. So ironic, because most of the time, the musicians at these meet ups are at the top of their game! Good quality music is simply not pushed through the radio channels like it once was, so we are parents have a harder job locating good quality music.

That’s why a mindful music planning can make a big difference in the fun factor and musicality of our musical experiences as a family.

I assure you that the resources below have been tested, happily listened to, and seen live with great excitement. If you listen, enjoy and share these tunes with your family, you are in for a good time. St. Patrick’s day is usually about bar songs, but these are pure art, from the best musicians in their field.

Auditory Sensory Play Aided by Good St. Patrick’s Day Songs

Our first grouping does have one of the world’s premier fiddlers on all three albums. Wherever you go, and fiddling is happening, chances are Alasdair is there. Enjoy all these albums without a second thoughts. They are exceptional and a must play on St. Patrick’s Day.

Dawn Dance by Alasdair Fraser

Return To Kintail by Fraser and McManus

Fire and Grace by Hass and Fraser

The Best of Irish Fiddle by Florie Brown

Appalachian Waltz

Try a sample of Mark O’Connor’s Appalachian Waltz here.

Give Good Music for Kids a Try for St. Patrick’s Day This Year!

Wishing you all the musical luck your heart can hold this St. Patrick’s Day.  Music is often called the language of the heart, and what a more beautiful holiday than St. Patrick’s Day to indulge. Irish music is deep and rich and intoxicating. This is one thing this St. Patrick’s Day that you can never have quite enough of.

Happy St. Patrick’s day to you and your whole family!

 

 

 

 

 

Calming Songs for Kids: Valentine’s Day Music Guide for Mindful Moms!

Music and Activities carefully selected this Valentine's Day can calm your kids and help them feel loved.

We are so busy these days, that if we aren’t careful we might just miss our on the fun of the best holiday around- Valentine’s Day. A holiday all about love is just what both families and kids need around mid-school year, winter chilled time of year. To make it easy and practical, we put a high quality Valentine’s Day Music Guide together so you can make memories this year that count.

The music selections are accompanied by kid and family friendly activities such as snuggling under warm blankets, baking, and giving hugs. As a goal we focused on the more cozy offerings.

Why more cozy activities?

We are working off the principle that more hugs equal greater feelings of calm, social connection and happiness. The hormone in our brain that increases these positive feelings is oxytocin. It’s made naturally, but only when we activate our sense of deep touch. For example, when we give hugs or snuggle. Babies and moms achieve higher levels of oxytocin all the time during the early years when nursing and naps actually increase the oxytocin levels in both mom and baby.

But as kids grow, we need to be more mindful of how much we hug each other. We need to remember to snuggle, and hug to help our kids thrive and know they are safe, secure and loved. As grown ups, we can get a message to feel better which raises oxytocin levels as well as other calming neuro-transmitters, but kids need us to help them out.

It sounds simple, but in our house, we actually have to check to make sure we hug enough! We are all so busy! So this guide is a music, activity and good neuro-transmitter stimulant. All natural and so effective to make sure your Valentine’s Day is jam packed with good feelings and great memories. Give it a try!

Music Guide for Valentine's Day
Cozy music for kids and families for a memorable Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day Music Guide for Mindful Parenting–Make Memories!

A Mindful Song About How Kids Love Their Parents

This is a jazzy song to teach toddlers, preschoolers, kindergarten age, or early elementary age. It can be learned in circle time over a couple of days, or in music class for a Valentine’s Day presentation. The words can even be changed, so “dad” is put in the place where “mom” is written, to create a Valentine’s gift for dad too!

Whatever you choose, have fun, and put a smile on someone’s face this Valentine’s day! Love is too good not to share!

This is an easy song for kids to sing for Valentine's Day

This Valentine’s Day Song for Mom can be sung to your own melody or “The Farmer In the Dell.”

Jazzy Valentine’s Day Music for Kids -and the Whole Family

One of the best songs for Valentine’s Day, and one of the most famous as well, is “My Funny Valentine” from the Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart musical Babes in Arms which first debuted in 1937. It has appeared in over 1300 albums by various artists since then.

If taken for it’s lyrics outside of the musical itself, it can be a dear song to apply to just about anyone in our lives that we love. Our kids are no exception.

“You make me smile in my heart, your looks are laughable….and she’s my favorite work of art……..is your figure less than Greek, is your mouth a little weak, but when you open it to speak….are you smart?………stay little Valentine….stay……Each Day is Valentine’s Day!”

Of course our kids make us smile in our heart, and their looks are sometimes laughable. The things they say are often smart beyond their years. And we always want them to stay small and adorable. Stay little Valentine we say when we are quite and aware of the deep love we have with our kids.

Check on this jazzy trumpet version of My Funny Valentine, where Sting sings to his wife. Play it for the one you love, and enjoy the rich sounds of the exceptional arrangement. Kids will benefit from listening to this good song, and they will begin to know a jazz standard as well!

 

You can use this song to have kids relax to during the chilly inside days of February. A cup of hot milk and a heart shape cookie could make this song come to life and stay in your kids ear long after the warm milk has been finished. Fireside and under cozy cuddly blankets could make this song into a family memory or Valentine’s tradition. Couldn’t we all benefit from more chances to love each other while listening to some good music. No question, this jazzy song gives us all the chance for more love this Valentine’s Day.

Good Songs for Kids for Valentine's Day

Singing Simple Valentine’s Songs During Cozy Valentine’s Day Activities

During the holidays there is often many activities that kids engage in that involve crafting and baking. Often, little rhymes and songs are sung as part of the fun. Make sure this Valentine’s Day you are ready with you song list. Make sure your activities always have a hug or snuggle portion too! It makes everyone more calm and happy by increasing the oxytocin hormone levels in the brain. Here are some easy and cute songs to help you get started.

I am Making Valentines ( to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb)
I am making valentines,
Valentines, valentines.
I am making valentines,
For the ones I love.

Watch me as I cut and paste,
Cut and paste, cut and paste,
Watch me as I cut and paste,
My special valentines.

See me mail my valentines,
Valentines, valentines,
See me mail my valentines,
To the ones I love.

A Hug from You (to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb)

It’s nice to get to a hug from you,
Hug from you, Hug from you.
It’s nice to get a hug from you,
So, let’s give one right now.
(Hug a friend)

Pair these songs with a cup of herbal tea, coco or fresh stove-top popcorn bowl, as well as a big blanket snuggle or a Valentine themed book, and you have made magic this Valentine’s Day, despite being so very, very busy.

Don’t Be Left in the Dark: Teach Cultural Diversity with the Best Hanukkah Music For Kids

Hanukkah Music for cultural diversity lessons.

Hanukkah is always celebrated in our house, despite not even being Jewish. We decided a long time ago that teaching cultural diversity was a lot more important than what culture, or religion for that matter, we were as a family. Not bound by preset norms, we dove into many different cultures quite easily, along with their foods, music celebrations, and history. One of our favorites is Hanukkah.

Mindful Planning for Hanukkah Music and Fun

We do try to celebrate this holiday when it is celebrated in December along with our Jewish friends, but it is OK to teach about Hanukkah anytime. We are all very busy, so I suggest celebrating whenever the calendar opens up. Actually, January is always a slow time in our family, and I can confidently say that our menorah is still on the family room table. I can bet you within a few days, the kids will be requesting some Hanukkah time. Of course, we will be happy to meet there requests with more Hanukkah food, music and fun!

Mindful Parenting Resources for Hanukkah

Given a Jewish Godmother, my kids have been greatly blessed with many gifts and resources to understand the Hanukkah holiday. Also, with both myself and my husband being musicians, we have been blessed with good ears for finding the best music. This has led to very musical multi-cultural learning in our home.

Many of our friends and family have asked over the years, for recommendations on what music resources we recommend for a variety of different topics. Hanukkah is one holiday that gets the most requests for music resources from us. I am always excited to help when asked about music for Hanukkah, as mindful parents planning mindful learning activities is so inspiring! I love to see it happening in families I know.

Our friends often ask how to use Hanukkah music resources to teach cultural diversity to their families and students. Many tell us that they feel like they don’t understand the culture and don’t want to get it wrong. They feel silly for even trying and don’t want to offend anyone or mess up!

The advice I give is to “give it a try”, take it slow, and add new concepts each year.

Kids can listen to music anytime to learn about cultural diversity.

Even Busy Homes Can Teach Using Great Music. It’s Easy.

Hanukah For the Non-Jewish Family: Cultural Diversity Lessons

Cultural Diversity is really best taught through real life experiences. Books are a great way for us as parents to learn a little about the culture first. Even kids books work for parents in this area, as they teach the basics quick and effectively. Two books we recommend are The Complete Guide To Hanukkah Book and My First Hanukkah Board Book. Also, a trip to the library is recommended for deeper understandings of the culture through various resources they have there.

Briefly, Hanukkah is the holiday of lights. The Menorah is the main symbol of the season and the Menorah celebrates the miracle of light filling the temple from the oil lamp, despite there not being enough oil for the lamp to stay lit. Many foods of the Hanukkah season therefore are full of oil. The music sets the scene for nightly celebrations where food, candle lighting, and gift exchanges occur. For a full article on ideas to have your own cultural experience through a Hanukkah party, Don’t Be left in the Dark: Teach Kids About Diversity with Mindful Hanukkah Activities for the Curious. is a good place to start.

Mindful Parents Choose Good Music for Their Hanukkah Celebrations

Weather you are Jewish or not, we all know that good music sets the scene for a good party. Just like a movie with a good music score in the background, life is so much less without beautiful sounds to make it all the more vivid. Choose the Hanukkah music resources below and you can’t go wrong teaching you kids about music and culture, simply by listening to great music.

Kids learn eaily with music leading the way!

Mindful Parenting for a Great Hanukkah with great music! Kids Love it!

Here are our top 5 pics for Hanukkah music, weather you are new to this holiday or a seasoned participant. We personally love them all! Truly, you will never need another Hanukkah CD if you get all of these. We started with 1 or 2, then grew our collection. Now we listen to these 5, and feel we are musically blessed beyond belief!

Top 5 Resource Guide: Hanukkah Music for Kids

Memories of a Winter’s Night by Jazz Sax player David Koz is perfect to spice up dinner. Typically, you here David at weddings and fancy events, so putting this in while eating dinner, or getting set for family and friends to come over, heightens the senses for a celebrations. It just makes me want to check my hair and throw on a fancy outfit. This CD will work well for Hanukkah, as well as setting the scene for holiday event sin general. The song on the Album “Memories of a Winter’s Night ” is specifically for Hanukkah.

 

The Acoustic Jewish Holiday Collection by Mama Doni is simply fantastic. Both my husband and I were grinning ear to ear when we first heard the lyrics on this CD. The musicianship is also top notch, and the use of mandolin, guitar, and banjo make the CD very Americana and hip. It gets the kids dancing, and tells a story at times. Great for background music to get kids excited to participate, great to get them listening. Another first rate CD I could not live without. Check out the video to Mama Doni’s song “Honey, This Ain’t Money” here.

Chanukkah In Story and Song is an excellent narrative and music combo. This music compilation teaches about the story of Hanukkah with lessons paired with real authentic music. It can’t get better than this! Lessons anchored by emotions elicited by the very well performed music. If you get this CD, your cultural diversity lessons for your family or students will be more than mindful! They will be simply exquisite!

The Child’s Hanukkah by The Jewish Wedding Band is really great for kids and teaching families that might not understand Hanukkah or never experienced it for themselves. It takes the listener on a journey through a night of Hanukkah and shares the joys, the music and the emotions of this celebration of light. Great for kids and parents, it is a must have to get the basic songs and concepts covered, in a way that is just purely magical.

 

Mah Tovu was given to us by my friend who is Jewish, who is also the Jewish Godmother to my kids. If you want the real deal of a Jewish Godmother bringing music to your celebration table this season, pick up this music. It is real, contemporary music you would hear and enjoy only in a household that was Jewish. We happen to love it!

Blessings of Light and Music to You This Hanukkah

So why is Swami Mommi so interested in cultural diversity this time of year? We at Swami Mommi know how important it is to understand different cultures, but also because different cultures enhance our lives here on the earth. It goes back to the old adage, “Would life be boring if we were all the same?”.

Music is an easy way to bridge the gaps in cultural understanding. It is fun, and magical, and something most of us can relate to. So weather you are a teacher, therapist, homeschool family, a family with a baby, toddler, preschooler,  kindergardener, or elementary age kid, make music, culture and Hanukkah a part of their winter season. The simple act of coming together can warm all of our hearts when it is so very cold outside this time of year.

Happy Hanukkah!

Make sure to check out the following article for more ideas for Hanukkah celebrations and cultural diversity lessons! Don’t Be left in the Dark: Teach Kids About Diversity with Mindful Hanukkah Activities for the Curious.

 

 

 

 

Don’t Be left in the Dark: Teach Kids About Diversity with Mindful Hanukkah Activities for the Curious.

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Experiencing Hanukkah Teaches Strong Cultural Diversity Lessons

When we experience things, we internalize them and make them our own. Growing up in a home where Christmas was celebrated, it would be impossible to ever lose my sense of what Christmas means to me. It is a wonderful, joyful, sometimes hectic, time of year, that I just love. I feel comfortable in the Christmas season, and all that comes with it.

As an experiment, I decided that I would teach my children the same Christmas traditions that I followed, however I wanted to add cultural diversity to the mix. So, from when my first child was born, we added in Hanukkah as a traditional family celebration. Long story short, the experiment turned out positive.

Starting small and adding each year, my kids are comfortable with Hanukkah as a holiday and won’t hear of not celebrating it. They have internalized Hanukkah, and with it have internalized cultural diversity and greater respect for Jewish customs.

If my kids had only read about Hanukkah from a book, I don’t think they would have gained the richness and deep understanding of Hanukkah, that they have by experiencing it each year.

Timing: When Should a Family Learn about Hanukkah?

Hanukkah is typically celebrated in the winter during the month of December. There are 8 nights to celebrate with the dates changing each year. However, if we miss a night, or even if we miss many nights due to family scheduling needs, we simply adjust the holiday to meet our time constraints. Of course, we try to honor the precise dates, but if that doesn’t work out, we would rather celebrate than miss out on the celebration and quality family time.

Finding time during the winter months is tricky, especially around the holidays. Family bonding can be a way to help kids and parents alike with emotional development and emotional regulation. Kids are often needing down time, and time with family during the holidays at home, and Hanukkah is a perfect island in the sea of presents, Santa activities, and general holiday hectic atmosphere. A lesson in cultural diversity can be a fun way to experience something new, open up communication between parents and kids, and decrease screen time. All great ways to sooth the senses this time of year.

If your family missed out on the exact dates for Hanukkah, try to catch them next year, but enjoy a few days of Jewish holiday excitement this year. During the month of December, the “celebration of lights” will bring a feeling of warmth to your home. Try my suggestions and I bet you and your family will have fun too.

Mindful Holidays: Hanukkah in Our Family Each Year

I have made it a point to teach our kids about diversity from the very start of their little lives, and being blessed with a Jewish Aunt, we couldn’t have been more gifted with various resources to make Hanukkah an enjoyable holiday to learn about. We really feel that in addition to our regular Christmas fervor, we have embraced Hanukkah with confidence in recent years.

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We started with the basics and so can you. Here is what you need to get started:

  1. Menorah: a picture, a felt one, a crafted one or a solid one.
  2. One book that explains the holiday in pictures (kids like this format!)
  3. One book about a Hanukkah that tells a story
  4. Easy Hanukkah food
A good way to enjoy Hanukkah is to try Potato Latkes

Potato Latkes

Easy and Mindful Hanukkah Resources For The Busy Family

You might feel like you don’t know enough about Hanukkah to actually create activities for celebration with your kids, but a few basic concepts will allow you to do so in no time. It’s like opening a door to a dark room you know nothing about. But have no fear, as somewhat slowly you can peek into the doorway, and then enjoy a look at the wonderful light the holiday of Hanukkah brings forth.

To get started, here are a few of our most favorite Hanukkah tips and tricks. These easy and mindfully chosen resources will help you understand this cultural and religious holiday. You will be well on your way to helping your curious kids enjoy some fun with cultural diversity.

Resources for a Mindful Hanukkah that Teach Cultural Diversity

Using these materials will help you get you and your kids celebrating the holiday quickly, and that is the goal. Experiencing the holiday is the easiest and most fun way to learn about it!

Menorah Resources:

First Kids Menorah Soft Toy

Menorah Coloring Page

Paper Plate Menorah

Noah’s Ark Menorah

Picture Book About Hanukkah:

My First Hanukkah Board book

The Complete Guide To Hanukkah book

Hanukkah Story Books:

Oh Hanukkah

Curious George Hanukkah

Cultural Diversity Dreidel game for Hanukkah

Dreidel is a game played by children during Hanukkah. Mindful planning can making cultural diversity easy. Dreidel is a fun game that teaches cultural diversity in a fun atmosphere.

Hanukkah Activities:

Dreidel Game

Gelt Coins Candies for Dreidel Game

Jelly doughnuts are a Hanukkah treat

Jelly doughnuts are a Hanukkah treat! A little mindful planning makes it easy.

Foods to Enjoy:

Hanukkah Treats Cookbook

Hanukkah Cookie Cutters

My Easy Vegan Potato Pancake Recipe. Get to it here.

We cook with the kids to make these pancakes each year. Toddlers love to wash the potatoes, and the older kids love to push the buttons on the food processor (with supervision for safety always). Baby can even try mashed potatoes with some sauteed and pureed veggies an butter mixed in for color and taste. Whatever age your child, cooking and eating these Potato pancakes is easy to adapt to include the whole family.

Music for Kids at Hanukkah (even if they never listened before)

Mah Tovu CD – “Only This”

A Child’s Hanukkah

Hanukkah Party with the Neighbors

This year we decided to have an impromptu party with the neighbor kids who came over for a play-date. We started off with a story about the meaning of Hanukkah from our Complete Guide to Hanukkah book, then a little dancing to Mah Tovu Music CD. For a full description of our favorite Hanukkah music click here.

After a pretty good dance session, we went into the Kitchen to make Easy Vegan Potato Pancakes. Also, known as Latkes, you can save time if you buy frozen ones at the grocery store. Dipping Latkes in apple sauce, ketchup or sour cream all add fun and taste to these little potato wonders.

We made them as a group, with the neighbor watching with interest.  First seeing how the Potato pancakes were cooked, then watching how much our kids liked them was all our neighbors needed to give them a try themselves. Next time we all voted on Jelly doughnuts!

Make sure to check out more easy ideas to make your Hanukkah great by visiting our Hanukkah Music Guide Resource Don’t Be Left in the Dark: Teach Cultural Diversity with the Best Hanukkah Music For Kids.

I hope you try some of these ideas! please share how it went. Here’s to a fun lesson in cultural diversity and a Happy Hanukkah to you all!

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Frightfully Fun: Halloween Photo Shoot and Sensory Play

halloween cute bug

So it’s super easy, indoors or outside.

Outdoor sensory fun!

Grab these materials for some fun and some great Halloween pics. Smiles are easy with all the sensory fun!

Materials: Box, Blanket, Halloween costume, nature toys, pumpkins, different texture fabrics, camera

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It’s good to pick a cozy blanket. This makes for a warm and nurturing base for exploration. The spandex costume makes for great deep pressure input, but costumes of any kind make for great new sensory experiences. They are wonderful to use more often than just on Halloween night.

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Toys and blankets should be baby safe, meaning they are safe to explore with their mouth. Babies need input to their mouth and tags and strings are a real treat!

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It’s even great that they explore all the parts of their costume. Babies are learning not only about their body and how it works, but also how it works in relation to the world. Let your baby explore her costume.

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Different textures are a sensory explorer’s dream! Give your baby several different fabrics to explore.

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Different toys are also great! This little bug had the chance to explore some stuffed nature critters. I went with a nature theme. A quick visit to the plush animal bin and we had all we needed.

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We thought we would head outside for more fun and photos. I was amazed how curious baby was about this big pumpkin. Grass, cooler air, more texture, more colors. Nature based sensory play brings its own advantages.

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Baby was happy for a long time out in nature. I was happy because she was happy AND I got some cute photos!

Happy and Calm Sensory Play Baby!

One good way to know your little one has enjoyed their sensory play, is to see them calm and eventually tired. We’re not talking about being over-stimulated from too much sensory input. Calm, fun, new exploration. That’s the way to go.

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As a mom, I hope you use these ideas to get some great photo ops. As a developmental therapist, I hope you get the idea about great sensory play. It’s fun and exciting for baby, but in the end it’s calming as well.

Sensory play is simply the “work” of our kids!

Mindful Halloween Ideas: 2017 Blog Hop

Halloween blog hops make it easy to be mindful of spending quality time with your kids.

Being Mindful of spending time with your kids this Halloween is easier than ever!

 Hope you got the chance to visit the other excellent blogs involved in this Hop. It has been a pleasure working with so many talented bloggers on this project. Happy Halloweening!

Take a look at these Halloween activities from my blogging friends!

Neon Halloween Banner by Projects with Kids

Halloween Sponge Painting with Ghosts by Preschool Toolkit

Counting with Halloween Board Books by Homebound But Hopeful

Halloween Activity Pages by Mosswood Connections

Halloween Teacake Spider Treats by the Gingerbread House

X-Ray Exercises Free Printable by Growing Play

Cardboard Tube Monsters by The Joy of Sharing

Spooky Eyeball Brownies by Moments At Home

If you have a picture of Halloween fun please share it in the comments section. Activities, recipes, or just Halloween mayhem! We’d love to see what your up to this fall!

 

 

Mindful Music: Jazz Up Their Day With Fun Kid Songs!

songs for kids resources

Mindful Parenting With Music and Songs

The yoga of everyday life includes music. Growing up as a musician and still enjoying my musical gifts, I can’t help but think about what my kids and family listened to each day.

When we really get down to the truth of it, mindful parenting is actually aided by the presence of certain music and music of a certain quality. Karma yoga, the yoga of daily action, would suggest that we select music in a thoughtful way.

For example, when I want to create a calming background for my kids while they are drawing, yoga music for calming such as chanting, ocean or nature sounds, or music consisting of certain musical tones is what I would select. When I want a more upbeat background for activities such as cooking, I play some cultural music such as salsa or swing music from the 30’s.

One of my most-loved musical experiences comes from a beloved collection of music under the Guess How Much I Love You CD/book title. The 3-CD set came along with the book. The CD includes author Sam McBratney’s audio reading of the book, as well as a selection of lullabies, soothing classical music and nature sounds.They are designed for baby or child to play and rest while listening, but they really affected me the most!

When I first got these CD’s my little baby would sleep or play and I would just cry and cry tears of joy that only these sweet little songs could bring up. I couldn’t help myself!  They tugged on my heart-strings so wonderfully, and made me aware of the immense love I had for my baby. I wouldn’t miss out on all this wonderful awe thanks to the music, even if I did feel a little silly for all the tissues I went through. The music helped to bring me to a mindfulness that I might have missed in all my daily busy-ness. It was a gift when I still didn’t know how important it was to be mindful. It allowed me to stop and realize joy. This music would not let me miss out on the love in those moments with my baby.

If you want to listen to this book with some of the music in the background to help your little one unwind or get ready for restful sleep, click Guess How Much I Love You Kids Story with Music

mindful listening to music

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Check out these musical resources when mindfully selecting music and kids songs for your family.

Music Together is an organization that provides organic music experiences for families and children through classes and online. It gets the family involved in music enjoyment, and just like a language, when the family speaks the same language, in this case music, the child is sure to learn. Even if you don’t know a thing about music, this organization will allow you to be an example for your child.

Putumayo Kids is the best resource I have found for the classroom and home world music. They pick songs that are easily accessible to both the newly-trained and the seasoned ear. The tunes are fun and very well produced. Putumayo kids has been my favorite and go to source for world music for the past 10 years.

Jazz at Lincoln Center We Bop Program

Kindermusik is a valuable educational music resource.

Calming Music and Songs for Kids:

The Earth Spirit music by R. Carlos Nakai is so focusing it could be used to calm for yoga sessions, used as a meditation, or background music to create a calm home or classroom environment. I listen to this CD even when my kids aren’t around. It is fantastic!

Multi-Cultural Music and Songs for Kids:

The Gipsy Kings are a easy transition to Latin Music. Kids and parents can enjoy their music quickly even if Latin music is unfamiliar.  The GK’s are from Europe and draw from many traditions, including flamenco, salsa, Cuban music and even rock and roll, with an energetic and driving sound.  We listen to The Best of the Gypsy Kings in the car all the time and cook tacos with it on in the background.

A great CD for African music is African Playground. We absolutely love this CD and have some favorites the kids can’t help but dance to. For a more African to American transition in music, we listen to Jazz and Blues Cd’s we pick up from the Library.

Teach Me German is a fun book and music combination that has kids’ songs in German and short reading lessons in an easy format. Kids can color each lesson page, and a few pages can be done at a time. Teach Me More German is the next book in this series. We used these books around the Christmas holidays as their are special holiday sections, but it takes kids on an adventure through the year, so it could work in any season.

In the same vein is Teach Me Everyday Spanish, a book we’ve used year after year. The songs are fun and they have a mix of English and Spanish so even the kids who are listening for fun won’t get lost! It’s really easy and we have also used Teach Me More Spanish as supplement to the other Spanish-language resources we use at home to encourage our kids to learn multiple languages. Fun coloring, story-telling and kids’ songs!

Exploring the Senses with Music and Songs for Kids:

Explore music through the senses, SEEING the universe as never before, with great songs from  The Mighty Sky musical experience. These songs for kids have been awarded the “Smart Media” and “Notable” medals by the American Library Association and Academics Association. This collection rocks and creates a beautiful picture of the universe through music.

A great CD related to all things food and also for all the Barenaked Ladies fans out there! Snacktime is BNL’s take on a kids’ CD that does not disappoint. Whether you have a picky eater or kids who love to eat, this CD makes food a feast of musical fun. We play this in the car just for giggles! Then we sing it in the kitchen because we know all the lyrics.

Auditory Meditations for Kids:

These are tracks I love to use in my work with kids and with my own family. My favorite is Mermaids and Fairy Dust.

Yoga Songs for Kids:

Self awareness allows for mastery of emotions.

Calm parents are a model for calm kids. Music and mindful activities can help!

One of the best yoga recordings I have found is by Kira Willey. Her music in Dance for the Sun takes kids on yoga adventures they can listen to AND do! It is really a ton of fun for the whole family.

Folk Songs for Kids and Families:

John McCutcheon’s music in Howjadoo is down-home fun with a level of musicianship that kids can understand and grow into, while still having fun!

Try the Johnny Cash Children’s Album for a grounding experience for the whole family. Johnny’s voice in it’s booming bass style wakes us up to the grind of daily life but in a fun way which kids can grasp. Great songs.

Family Music and Songs for Kids:

Ziggy Marley does a great job with his album, Family Time. It’s upbeat and a great listen to put the whole family in a happy mood!

music for kids, kids songs about the moon

Coconut Moon is a master music compilation for silly family fun. The Green Chili Jam Band rocks these kids’ songs, so parents can just sit back and laugh. Here is an example of just one silly song called Lard. It’s sure to bring laughter.

Holiday Music for Kids:

An amazing CD that creates the a feeling of warmth and love around the Christmas Holiday is Christmas Folkjul. I cried when I listened to this music in my car, driving home once late holiday evening alone from work. This has become a consistent request for the whole family.  Don’t let one more holiday go by without this true musical gem.