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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Mother Goose Time - December Fun

During this month, we have been studying the Sights and Sounds of Winter.

Here the girls are making graham cracker houses!

We did a lot this month with Mother Goose Time, but this is one of our family traditions.

Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke



Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke

Here's a pic of all the ingredients we needed to make the graham cracker houses. We got a lot of these sweets in a Christmas gift basket from Grandpa. So, we just decided to create graham cracker houses out of it. We added the graham crackers, frosting, teddy grahams and jolly ranchers.

In order to make the graham cracker house stick together we used frosting. We put the frosting in a zip lock bag and cut the corner. The girls had fun decorating their graham cracker houses.

Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke
Fill a zip lock back full of frosting. Then, cut the corner.
Now, use the frosting to hold the sides of the graham cracker together as you build a little house.

Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke
Put any characters you like inside the house before you make the roof.

Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke

Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke

Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke
Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke
3-year-old's house

Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke
Graham Cracker House
Created by 3-year-old daughter

Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke
Graham Cracker House
Created by 8-year-old daughter

Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke
Graham Cracker House
Santa is a chocolate teddy graham with a frosting beard.
His sleigh is made from two jolly ranchers (green and red), as well as peppermint bark.
Created by 8-year-old daughter

Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke
Graham Cracker House
Created by 8-year-old daughter

During December, we had the following Mother Goose Time Sights and Sounds of Winter topics each week:

  • Orchestra
  • Sights and Sounds Found Outdoors
  • Sights and Sounds Found Indoors
  • Light and Dark
Mother Goose Time provides monthly newsletters, which show our theme as a web with each week and days' details. (See first image below.)

Each month, the Mother Goose Time newsletter shares helpful, age-appropriate information for parents. These newsletters are helpful for preschool teachers to give to each parent. Because I am homeschooling, I post the newsletter up in our kitchen, so my husband can see what we are up to for the month. He seems to appreciate looking it over, and I've even seen him use some of the information, which is nice. He likes to bring the girls to the library, so sometimes he checks out the "Recommended Reads" for the month. This is a nice thing to have dad and the kids do, so I can clean up, organize and plan for homeschooling. It also keeps him involved in what they are learning.

This month, I found the Improving Transitions information helpful. I have always enjoyed using music to help children transition. Christmastime can be exhausting for children. Many times their schedules change and it can get unpredictable. Things like breaks from classes and fun events, such as performing for choir or attending celebrations can be fun, but it can also throw off their regular schedule.

Mother Goose Time suggests the following to ease transitions.

  • Explaining what is going to happen beforehand
  • Using Music to Ease Transitions
  • Introduce Movement Sticks
(See photo above for details.)

My favorite song for cleaning up with the kids is:

Clean Up Song

Clean Up, Clean Up
Everybody, Everywhere
Clean Up Clean Up
Everybody, Do Your Share

We are about to take the Christmas tree down. Last year, both of my daughters cried when we did this. So, this year I will let them know ahead of time. Maybe we can turn on some New Years music and dance while we pack up the ornaments. I will talk with my husband to try to make it fun... Not traumatizing.

Fun Christmastime Memory Pictures

Here are some pics of our Christmastime events this year! I can hardly believe it's almost New Years! We traveled to go see the girls Great-Grandparents (pictures below). We also went snow sledding at Saddleback Church and out to eat at the American Girl Restaurant in Los Angeles.

With Grandma on Christmas 2015
Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke
Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke

Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke

Dinner at the American Girl Store in Los Angeles

Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke
Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke

Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke
Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke
On New Years Eve, American Girl will release their new American Girl of the Year 2016!
I have a feeling the new American Girl of the year takes a trip to Brazil and learns to face her fears and scuba dive. We will see! The new doll will be revealed on Good Morning America tomorrow morning from 7-9 a.m.! I wonder what she will look like? I already know, but it will be fun to watch anyway. We'll have to watch it online because I disconnected the Direct TV/cable (whatever) and Netflix. We are usually too busy to sit around and watch television and most of the time we don't like what's on anyway. Because I have two daughters, I know a lot about these dolls. I love the stories and books that accompany the dolls. As a former K-2nd grade teacher I had read the books before I became a mom. One of our favorite stories is Felicity. It's a great movie and the books are worth reading just for facts about history. The American Girl books are perfect for our 8-year-old daughter. We have seen all of the movies and we have read many of the books. We just bought the Grace movie yesterday. It's a really nice story and a great movie for families to watch together.
Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke

Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke
Dessert at American Girl Restaurant in Los Angeles, CA.

We are back to our regular homeschooling routine on Monday, so you'll see more free Mother Goose Time activities soon.
In the meantime, here are some free and fun Mother Goose Time lesson plan samples.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Encouraging Children to Focus on Their Strengths
Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke
Natalie Grant explained to our daughter that she loved singing since she was a child.
She began singing in her church choir as a child.

Think about what you wanted to be when you were a child?

Have you heard the saying that we all know what we wanted to be back when we were a child, but somehow it was taken from us through the years.

Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke
After First Solo Singing Performance at Church
Do you know what I find even more concerning than that?

When a children never find what they love to do, and what they feel they are good at... That is truly a tragedy.

Parents have a very important responsibility to focus on their child's strength's. It is so very important to do this. As much as I would have never believed this as a former K-2nd grade teacher and school counselor, over the years I have learned from experience that the typical classroom environment is not set up for success in this approach to focus on the child's personal strengths for most children. It just depends on the child, and if the classroom offers what they are meant to do. We need to look at the gifts, strengths and challenges of each child and then focus on helping each child be successful in their strengths. Education is crucial, but approach is so important.
Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke
Mother Goose Time Preschool Curriculum

It does not mean that we ignore our weaker areas, but we don't let these challenges overwhelm us and destroy our lives, whether we are children or adults. Learning to do this is an important life skill.

I already know what I love to do and what my strengths and challenges are. I am also aware of how not to push my wishes for myself onto my children in a hurtful way. I can do this by setting aside time for my dreams and mission. We can do this as parents by setting aside a quiet time with God everyday. This is not easy to do, and it may need to be in the morning or night after the kids go to sleep. We also need to journal and pray

Pastor Rick covered this topic for adults last weekend when he talked about Maximizing Your Strengths. It is part of his Toolbox for Life series. You can see it all here...

I got to thinking about how we could teach our children how to use the Maximizing Your Strengths as my husband and I raise our children. What can we teach them? Well, most of all, they look at what we do. One thing I notice parents really need to be careful of is to not push their own dreams onto their children. When I think of my children, what I'm helping to encourage theme with is not even exactly what I want them to do, but it's what I see in their SHAPE. To be honest, this is not easy to do. I know they are still so young, but I am still encouraging them in their dreams. My older daughter loves to sing, and she is great at singing. She also loves to cook, act and create art. She has great social skills. My younger daughter loves to sing and I have also noticed that she is great with art, and she is very interested and passionate about airplanes. Over time, I will learn more about both of them and try to help them reach their goals. I'm sure we will see more talents and interests that we can help them develop over time.

Understand Yourself First

Who are you and what do you enjoy?

What are your strengths?

What is your deepest pain?

Doesn't it sound strange to ask all of these questions together?

Well, first we must understand our strengths.

Then, we can use our strengths to help us use the wisdom of our scars to help other people. (This post is mainly focusing on the first step, understanding our strengths. It is important to teach our children how to do this, so they can be resilient, adaptable and caring towards all people.)

Here's an example of a self-reflection:

For myself, I love to write, create and design things. I seem to be able to make something out of nothing... As my mom would say. Well, God is really the only one who can do that. I just know how to make stuff pretty easily. For some reason, I am able to create things easily and see things in a three dimensional way, like from different angles. I love to create anything artsy craftsy, I love writing. I'm a night owl and I love night time. I have stayed up all night working on writing and art on many occasions. I don't know why this happens, but I also have dreams and visions. I sometimes know about stuff before it happens. Most of the time, I don't want to know, and sometimes, I just don't know what to do with the information. I am introverted, but I spent much of my career life pretending like I loved to be around lots of people all the time. It made me sleep like a rock at night. Seriously, I just want to go in my little turtle shell and peek out every once in a while. I'm not as much like my social daughters. I love to draw, write and create things. I love to write children's stories. I like to help other people on stage, but I would rather stay in the background. It goes back to when my little sister and I created a show called, Teen Talk. She was the star. I was the set designer and helped her with her script. We brainstormed ideas together and came up with the show, but she really owned it. I miss my little sister. She and her fiancé were killed when she was only 25. There is something that died inside of me that day that I will never get back. She died, but I did, too.

This really is information everyone needs to know about themselves. It's important to think about yourself and realize who you are and what you enjoy doing. It really is life-changing.

I am still working on it in my life. I still have a lot of work to do myself. So, as I work on myself, I teach my daughters.

I'm sharing the notes with you that I wrote down during Rick Warren's service last weekend (November 14-15, 2015), and I'm thinking about how I can use it with my children and sharing it with you. (My background includes teaching K-2nd grade and counseling.) If you ever want to watch the services at Saddleback Church, it is here 24/7

Pastor Rick first talked about two important skills:
1. Ignore the Naysayers
Basically, just tell the ones who told you it can't be done to stand back while you do it.
2. Recognize What Matters Most

Then, Pastor Rick discussed

Spiritual Gifts





HOW DO I MAXIMIZE MY GOD-GIVEN SHAPE? (Check on for more information about Pastor Rick's Daily Hope, books and classes.)

Paying Attention to Our Children's Strengths

My daughters each have special interests and I have seen God working through them in really amazing ways.
Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke

Last weekend, Our Pastor Rick talked about how singing is one way we can show our thankfulness to God. Both of my daughters love to sing. Last night, we went Christmas caroling and surprised a neighborhood with their choir group. A few days ago, our daughters both sang in our church choir. Our oldest daughter auditioned and was chosen to sing a solo. For our Bible study, my youngest daughter was chosen to be Mary. I walked into the room and was so surprised to see her there as Mary! I see that both of my daughters love performing arts.

Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke
Choir Performance
Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke
Alana and Meredith Andrews
She sang her song for her children's choir.
Ring the Bells

I Hear You, I See You, I Understand and I Care children truly feel this from their parents it depends the bond and encourages healthy self-esteem to develop. I first learned about this at a Filial Therapy Workshop with Garry Landreth at George Fox University in Oregon. We had one daughter at the time. I was planning to continue working full-time and find childcare for her as I focused on my career.

But after attending that workshop something inside of me changed forever.

I began to understand that I would sacrifice anything I needed to in order to be present with her. I vowed to never look back and regret missing her childhood because I decided to put my career and ego ahead of being a mother. I sold my car, found flexible employment and gave up material possessions to focus on being present with her.

I felt that God was calling me to give up my ego and trust my husband to care for us. To be honest, not all men can be trusted to care for their families in this way. They may not have the ability or the desire. It just depends. I am thankful that my husband has been loyal and trustworthy. Growing up, I was the oldest of four girls and my mother worked full-time. After my parents divorced, I knew the reality of having a single mom and taking on more responsibility than most children my age. I vowed to try my best to give my children stability.

Garry Landreth talks about showing children you care through play therapy. There is a type of play
between parents and children called Filial Therapy. At the workshop designed for therapists and counselors, we learned how to teach parents to do play therapy with their children. Children communicate through play. Words are not the best way to communicate with children. This is an important concept to understand if we are to have good communication with our children. That is why I love Mother Goose Time preschool curriculum. There are wonderful opportunities that encourage play using Mother Goose Time curriculum with children.

It is so important for us to spend time doing what our children want to do with us.

What Does Your Child Love to Do/Play?

What if you turned off your computer or set down your iPhone right now and just looked your child in the eyes and said, "What do you want to do?"

I bet that would make their day.

Setting a Good Example for Our Children

I've noticed a few paths parents take:
  • Giving up everything for their children, so it becomes dysfunctional
  • Ignoring their children's needs
  • Creating a healthy relationship with their children
What other paths do you see?
What paths did your parents take?
What path are you taking?

We aren't perfect, but we need to think about what we are doing. Not only will our children grow up to treat themselves the way we treated them, but they will learn from our behaviors how to treat themselves, as we cared or did not care for our own aspirations, dreams, spirits and bodies.

Character Development

What's the use of encouraging children to become computer engineers if they are going to use their talents to create viruses or destroy work from people trying to help others? What's the use of encouraging children to become scientists if they are going to create atomic bombs? What is the use of encouraging children to become doctors if they are going to kill people through euthanasia and abortion?
Puzzle and Placemat I helped design for Wee Believers


Character is THE MOST important thing to teach our children.

Teaching children the Fruits of the Spirit is so important.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."
Galatians 5:22-23

Mother Goose Time has a wonderful Experience God supplement that my daughters love. This link provides a free sample.
Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke
Mother Goose Time Heaven Braceletes

Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke
Mother Goose Time harp craft

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Mother Goose Time - Learning to Be Free to Create

Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke
(Mother Goose Time Use Only)
One thing I love about Mother Goose Time is that it has helped my preschool-age daughter to feel free to create and learn independently, and then share what she has created with the family.

Of course, our Mother Goose Time is not really independent time, but structured learning within a creative framework.

However, this structure has taught her skills she can now independently do on her own. As you can see in the pictures below, she is demonstrating her ability to create on her own.

I want to make sure she keeps this feeling of freedom to create throughout her life.

Creative Process

Designing the Characters

Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke
For example, as you can see in this picture she created little carrots and turtles with her play dough.
These were her own creations and it was really nice to see her take initiative and just make what she was seeing in her mind.

Creating a Song and Acting it Out with Her Turtles and Carrots

Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke
Then, she made up a song (on her own) and acted out the story within the song she created with the characters that she designed. She did this completely on her own. I did not help her with this at all!

Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke

She made up this song...
"Three little turtles jumping on the bench.
One feel down and bumped his head.
Momma called the doctor and the doctor said,
No more turtles jumping on the bench."

She also made up the same song for carrots, but she changed the words around a little bit.

Mom's Reflections and Thoughts

I was reflecting on her ability to do this, and I realized that all of the songs, arts and crafts, subjects (reading, math, science, etc.) and stories we worked on while having our Mother Goose Time actually helped give her the self confidence and framework to design this story, song and the play dough characters on her own.

Every month, Mother Goose Time sends us new songs to sing. We get a CD and a bunch of songs. These songs really help her think of creative ways to make her own songs, too. It is amazing to look inside this little school bus box each month (pictured above) and see a bag for every single day full of fun and educational activities. I truly believe Mother Goose Time is the best preschool curriculum for my daughter. She even says, "I love Mother Goose Time."

She especially gets excited about opening the manipulatives and she immediately wants to read the book sent for the month.

I was really surprised on Thanksgiving Day when she asked to do Mother Goose Time. She got out her Mother Goose Time bunnies and fed them Thanksgiving dinner. We got into her Mother Goose Time box and she created a new activity. I'll post it soon. Wow, we even did Mother Goose Time on Thanksgiving Day!

Thanks, Mother Goose Time!

Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke

Photo Copyright Caroline Brooke