A Whole Bunch of Feelings

Holy Cow, do my kiddos have a lot of big feelings. And we’ve been feeling them hard lately in all directions.

Luckily, I am typically pretty good at embracing those big feelings. I say “typically” because I’m a human too, and some days I probably don’t embrace them as I should. I want them to know that all those big feelings are valid, even if they don’t make sense to me. I want them to express them, even if it sometimes means I have to battle my own inner voice that wants to shut them down because it’s what it learned long ago.

Bean’s current favorite bedtime book is “A Whole Bunch of Feelings.” We, of course, don’t read the whole thing every night, because it’s much too long for Momma, but I read a few pages to her, and it’s so interesting how she just curls up on my lap, even at just 2, and seems to really get it. I mean, she is the one requesting this book each night.

Because we are such a bookworm family, it should come as no surprise that it’s just one of the many ways we discuss all the feelings. “A Whole Bunch of Feelings” is a great book for helping discuss past emotions and situations, and a way to think about feelings and moments to come.

This book discusses many of the same feelings that can be found on our feelings flashcards I previously wrote about, as well as some that aren’t on our flashcards. But “A Whole Bunch of Feelings” goes a bit more in depth, giving short little story scenarios in which each feeling may arise. Although this book is geared for the 5-8 crowd, and Mr. B (age 8) and Miss H (age 9) have both definitely enjoyed it, it is very well loved by Sweet M (age 3.5) and Bean (age 2). Especially by Bean. So I would probably expand that age range myself.

The book has beautiful illustrations filled with diverse characters; my children were definitely excited to see all shades of people, including people that resembled them and their papa, which isn’t always the norm.

“A Whole Bunch of Feelings” is a beautiful book for your library collection, and I would definitely recommend it for all families. The more we understand and accept all of these big feelings, the easier life is to process and muddle through. And who doesn’t want that?

 

***This post is sponsored by Timberdood, but all thoughts and opinions are mine.***

Feelings Flashcards

I am sure it comes as zero surprise to anyone who knows us well that we are big on “feelings” in our house.

We recently finished reading “The Giver” and then followed up by watching the movie (spoiler alert: the book is always better!), and throughout the whole thing my big kids would tease me about how much they talk about “feelings” throughout. Almost as much as we do, they said!

Seriously though, I want my kids to feel heard. I want them to feel validated, even if their feelings may seem a little silly sometimes to the big people in their lives (“I hear you’re upset that your brother has the purple cup. You wanted the purple cup. That’s disappointing.”). But it’s hard to feel validated if you can’t properly articulate what you are feeling.

Emotions are so much more diverse and complex outside of just “happy, sad, mad.” And when we just stick to those three basic terms for how we are feeling, we are missing out not just on some really great vocabulary, but we are often missing the entire essence of how we are feelings.

We’ve been very fortunate that all of our kiddos thus far have been pretty verbal early on; the girls even earlier than the boys. And if we are being completely honest, Bean is in a league of her own for only being 2 years old. That girl has a lot of opinions and sass, and the whole world can understand her, ha.

But one fun tool we have found in our home to help expose our kids to the different words for different feelings, and to help open up conversation about how they may have felt, or how they might feel in certain situations, have been with their Feelings Flashcards.

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These flashcards are super fun and colorful. Each flashcard has a feeling on each side, almost always antonyms of one another such as “bored/busy.” They give so much to discuss and explore with each card.

They’re also very thick cardboard, so quite durable (though I will attest, they are not indestructible when you have toddlers…). They’re large enough for small hands to comfortably hold and use (and because they’re so colorful, Sweet M and Bean also like to point out all the colors on each card, too!).

I’ve been choosing a card, or letting one of the toddlers choose one, every few days. We investigate the card together, discuss the feelings vocabulary, and talk about times when they might have had those feelings, or when someone they knew might have. And they’re definitely incorporating the vocabulary into their daily language, as Sweet M declared “I’ve got ants in my pants!” the other day while dancing around the living room; a phrase he got straight from his Feelings Flashcards. 

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And while I’m certain that I could teach my kiddos about feelings without the help of aids, they certainly help! There are some I definitely would not have thought to discuss with my kids on my own as they’re just feelings I myself don’t think of specifically very often. Such as “carefree,” the opposite of “worried.” We’ve definitely talked about “worried” before, but “carefree” likely would have never come up in a conversation organically, or at least not for while.

So if you are looking for a way to delve deeper into the world of feelings with you kiddo(s), or maybe looking for a way to even start those conversations, I would unquestionably recommend Feelings Flashcards. They’re a fun way to get the whole family talking about how they’re feeling!

 

 

***I received a set of Feelings Flashcards for review by Timberdoodle, but the thoughts and opinions are genuine, and mine alone.***

Fun with Plus Plus Big

With five little ones I feel like I’m non-stop multi-tasking and have to have a million tricks up my sleeves to keep the chaos minimal. Not gone, of course, because Sweet M’s middle name truly is Mayhem, and he was well-named, but minimal.

Often I hear people talk about “educational toys,” and the truth is, I sometimes fall into that pit of forgetting that play is learning for children, in all capacities. Sometimes I feel like if I can’t measure what they’re learning than maybe it isn’t useful or purposeful. But that isn’t true.

Ever.

When I’m trying to do school work with one kiddo, that leaves four other kids who need to entertain themselves. Well, okay, Avellana is pretty much always sleeping or nursing, but that’s still three other kiddos.

One of their absolute favorite activities is playing with Plus Plus Big tiles. They’re fun for all of my kiddos all the way from the 9.5 year old down to the 2 year old. Seriously.

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Sweet M is channeling his future Vogue pose here, complete with goggles and a chupi. We can all only wish to be this cool some day.

We found our love for Plus Plus before we learned of the Plus Plus Big. Those were life changing because they’re not really a choking hazard or susceptible to being vacuumed like their counterparts, which is always a win. Also, as much as we love Legos (and we REALLY love Legos), I love that Plus Plus Big aren’t quite as painful to step on, they’re easier to separate when you want to build new things, and there isn’t a million different shapes that I feel compelled to organize into compartments. I can toss all of the Plus Plus Big pieces into one container and feel like the organization gods will not condemn me.

You can play with Plus Plus Big completely with your own imagination, or use their giant cards to create works of art by following their patterns. Either way, my kids are learning. Er, playing. And that’s a beautiful thing.

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Original creation by Sweet M, age 3.5.

We got our Plus Plus Big tiles from Timberdoodle, and they are included in their complete preschool curriculumBut they can definitely be purchased outside of the curriculum because, as I said, these are well loved by all ages. J and I even enjoy getting in on the action with them, which says a lot because I don’t play as well as he does with the kids. I can read books and play board games and do school lessons and go to museums, but actual playing is more challenging for me. But I enjoy playing Plus Plus Big with them.

So if you’re looking for a new, long-lasting activity for your kiddo of any age, Plus Plus Big has you covered; whether you are wanting to teach colors, patterns, counting, constructing, or simply delve into their imaginative play, you will not be disappointed.

 

 

 

***I received a set of Plus Plus Big in exchange for this review, but all thoughts and opinions are genuine and mine alone.***

Cat Crimes

We’ve been super busy with a newborn around here this month (whose birth story I am hoping to get up soon!).

We were fed so well and loved on her first week of life. And the kids are all adjusting so well, as they love her to absolute bits (not surprising, she’s fairly scrumptious). J has been a professional toddler wrangler so I can cozy up with our darling Avellana (her Spanish nickname that J dubbed her – not her legal name) and just drink up all this newborn bliss. Because even after 5 sweet little babes, it just does not get old.

And our big kids? They had the awesome experience of getting to spend this past week with their grandparents up north, but before that they were doing a stellar job of being helpful and self-entertaining.

They’ve been reading lots of new books, and building crazy Lego and Plus Plus contraptions, as well as playing lots of games together. I love that they both enjoy playing board games and the like, because they are getting big enough to play games with each other without the need of adult help – and they can play with J and I! I mean, games that are actually enjoyable for us, too (you can only play Candyland so many times before the colors all start to blur together…)

Their newest favorite game to play comes from Timberdoodle, and is called Cat Crimes. H and B were both super excited when it arrived, and could not wait a second to start playing. Lucky for them, the toddlers had all ready been put to bed, so it was safe to take it out and have a go of it.

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Cat Crimes is a fun “who done it” logic game, with increasingly more difficult challenge cards, so kids (and adults!) can up the complexities and difficult level as desired the more rounds that they play.

It’s rated for ages 8+, and Mr. B is almost 8, but it could most definitely be played by younger kiddos, too. I think they both would have been able to grasp it and enjoy this game as early as 6. And at almost 8 and 9, they are able to play it over and over again without any adult assistance, which has been lovely these past few weeks.

But it’s also such a fun-filled, brain-working game that J and I enjoy popping in for a round when able as well. I definitely see Cat Crimes as a game the whole family can enjoy, and it will be in heavy rotation around here. So if you need a fun game that helps work on their logic skills (but is so fun they have no idea it’s helping their brains expand!), Cat Crimes gets four big thumbs up from Miss H and Mr. B!

Berean Science: Science in the Scientific Revolution

Science has always been one of those daunting subjects for me. I’ve always felt comfortable teaching my kiddos to read and knowing just how and with which curriculum worked best for us.

Math isn’t my strongest suit, and we’ve definitely hopped around a lot trying to figure out what works best for us, but I’ve never worried that we’d miss something or they’d be insufficient in math at the end of the day.

But science?

Something about it always has me questioning if we’re doing enough. If they’re learning enough. If they’re enjoying it enough. And since H and B really love science, I hate to think I am doing them a disservice.

This year we’ve had the opportunity to try Berean Science from Timberdoodle and it’s relieved so many of my worries

We are using their 3rd grade curriculum “Science in the Scientific Revolution” but Mr. B is listening right along with us (he’s 7, technically an “older” 1st grader) and loving it just as much as Miss H.

It’s particularly fun because although they’ll both cuddle up and listen to me read aloud to them, they will also squirrel away together and Miss H will read to the both of them. Without being prompted. They just genuinely love reading their science book that much. I’m thinking we may go back and read the previous books when we are finished, as they’re zooming through this book so quickly we’ll be through it in no time!

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The kids love the colorful illustrations and the suggested science experiments (really though, who doesn’t love a fun, hands-on experiment?). There is a very concise list at the beginning of the book that tells you what will be needed for each experiment in each section, and it has thus far all been things we have in our home, which is a bonus. Plus, I love that the book always tell them to clean up their mess!

There is a good review section after each lesson to help reinforce that they grasped what they’ve learned. We haven’t felt compelled to always do the review since we’re typically chatting and working together, but if you have your kiddo doing their science independently (which they could definitely do at this age with this curriculum!) then it would be really helpful as the parent/teacher to double check their learning.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect when we received our Berean Science from Timberdoodle. As I said, science is daunting for me and I just hadn’t felt like we’ve really found a curriculum that “clicked” for our family, or even one particular child (we are totally open to different curriculum working best for different kiddos based on learning styles over here). But I would recommend Berean Science over and over again as we have really loved it over here!

 

***This review was done in exchange for the Berean Science from Timberdoodle, but as always, all thoughts and opinions are genuine, and I only endorse products we truly love.***