Friday, June 17, 2016

11 Ways to Help Kids Manage Stress

At Children’s Choice, one of the outcomes we are trying to achieve with kids is that they develop skills for managing stress, coping with feelings, and being resilient when bad things happen in life.  How do we do this?

1. Power of Play
We make time for play. Play is not a four-letter word. Well, actually it is, but that’s not the point. Play is not a frill. It is a powerful tool for managing stress. Play gets the brain to release powerful neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin that counteract stress.  Play creates a sense of belonging and fosters cooperation. Play supports social, intellectual, and language development. Play builds confidence, and relieves stress. So, we bring “FUNERGY” to the job!

2. Confidence through Enrichment
Confidence is a skill that is a necessary building block for developing self-control and the ability to solve stressful problems. Often, kids who are struggling in traditional school subjects suffer from a lack of confidence, which inhibits their ability to solve problems and increases stress in difficult situations. When children have the opportunity to be involved in activities like drama, team-building, music, cooking, sports, gardening, dance, and art, they learn that there are many things they might be good at in addition to the more traditional school subjects. Through these experiences they gain the ability to approach challenges with more confidence.

3. Role Models who Fail
Adults make mistakes. Sometimes adults hide this fact from children or blame others when they make a mistake. At CC, we are trained in the value of recognizing mistakes, admitting mistakes, and learning from mistakes. When we make a mistake, we acknowledge the mistake so the kids can hear us saying, “Oops” or “My bad.” Then we come up with a strategy to fix our problems, and talk about the lessons we learned. We very intentionally do all of this out loud, so children can hear how responsible adults handle it when we make mistakes.
4. Permission to Make Mistakes
We give kids permission to make mistakes.  Mistakes are part of life, and are valuable to the learning process. Some of the strongest learning moments happen when people make mistakes.  When kids make mistakes, staff don’t shame them, or punish them. We say, “That’s okay, try it again.” We say, “hit the reset button and try a different solution.”

5. Name that Feeling
We help children identify feelings by labeling or naming the emotion out loud. “I see that your face is red and you are breathing very fast. It looks like you are angry. What’s happening?” or “I can tell you are upset right now. You look very sad. Would you like to talk about it?”

6. Listen, just listen.
When we do get kids to open up and talk to us, we don’t interrupt. We let them finish. We don’t “make them wrong” or disagree, especially when they are talking about their feelings. You won’t hear our staff say, “You shouldn’t get angry about that” or “That is not something to get upset about.”

7. Acknowledge Super Powers
We don’t attempt to control kids. Instead we help them develop what psychologists call an Inner Locus of Control. We teach kids to recognize their feelings, and to understand that feelings are not good or bad, but that they have control over their actions and how they behave when they feel a certain way. When kids say things like, “Ryan made me hit him,” we challenge this by asking “Would it be more accurate to say, you felt angry and chose to hit Ryan?”

We intentionally teach children these steps to coping when bad stuff happens. 
Help them C.O.P.E.

8.   C = Calm.
This is all about arousal control. We teach them breathing techniques like taking a series of slow breaths in through their nose and even slower breaths out through their mouth. We teach them progressive muscle relaxation exercises like first tensing and then relaxing their muscles starting at their toes and ending with the muscles in their faces.

9.   O = Options.
We encourage them to stop, take a breath, and relax before reacting to the situation. We know the longer they delay before reacting, the longer of a list of options they can create. The more options they can create, the more likely they are to come up with an effective and appropriate response. , Frontal Lobe takes the keys, Self Talk, Break it Down, Generate Long Lists, Brainstorm, Visualization and Mental Rehearsal Making a long list of strategies,

10.   P = Problem Solving
The next step is picking a strategy and putting one into practice.  Try it out and see if it works. We teach them to acknowledge that the situation stinks, to acknowledge how they feel about it, make a list of possible solutions, then pick one. One of our useful phrases is, “That stinks, now… what can we do to MAKE THE BEST OF IT?”

11.   E = Evaluate
After picking a problem-solving strategy and trying it out, look back and see if it worked. We ask, “Did that work?”  “What part didn’t work so well?” “If you could go back and try it again, what strategy do you think you might pick this time?”

Monday, June 13, 2016

Create a Planet!

This weeks theme at Osuna is SyFy Channel. 

We created our own planets and solar systems. Cabins 1 and 2 created a solar system teeming with life where you could create your own planet and anything was possible! Cabin 3 created a planet where there were Pizza Shaped Planes that dropped Pizza from the sky and Cabin 4 had a planet where they spoke their own grunting language. 

Cabin 5 created a planet that resembled the Death Star and Cabin 6 created a Minion Planet where King Bob ruled supreme. In Cabin 7 the sky on their planet made it rain money and Cabin 8’s  planet had well thought out tunnels and poisonous plants.

After each cabin presented their planets, we took a community vote for who would win our Deep Blue C that week and the winner was Cabin 6 with the Minion Planet! It is now Cabin 6’s privilege to get to decorate and protect the Deep Blue C until next week’s assembly where a new cabin can win the Deep Blue C.

Space Wars

This week at Osuna, the theme is SyFy.  Ben led an enrichment club called Space Wars.  

Kids in the younger unit worked together in pairs to create their own space ships.  They spent a few days constructing their ships out of materials such as cardboard, tinfoil, Popsicle sticks, and pipe cleaners.  

After the ships were built and decorated, we took them outside for an intergalactic meteor shower of water balloons!  We divided into two teams and held a tarp up in between.  Hidden by the tarp, each pair chose a location for their ship.  

One child was the “seeker” and peeked around the tarp to see the opposing team; the seeker then gave the “launcher” a description of where to throw their water balloon. It was up to the launcher to throw his/her balloon over the tarp, in hopes of connecting with a ship on the other side!  Everyone had fun and got wet, and we strengthened our communication skills along the way by designing, constructing, and executing a plan with a partner.

By Shannon Donegan

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Name That Fruit!

This week's theme at Children's Choice Sombra Del Monte Summer Fun Camp was the Game Show Network. We played a fun and healthy game called "Name That Fruit!"

Here's how you play:

1. Go to the grocery store and pick out the weirdest looking fruit you can find. 

2. Gather some cutting boards and knives

3. Have all the kids wash their hands 

4. Show the kids the fruit on piece at a time. Have the kids guess what the fruit is. Once they've guessed you can sneak in some geography and science by talking abouthow the fruit grows, where it originates, and what it can be used for.

5. After you've gone through all the fruits have the kids cut up the fruit in small pieces. 

6. All the kids do a blind taste test. You can do blindfold or just gave them close their eyes. After everyone has tried the piece everyone says "Name That Fruit!" And you discuss what fruit they think it is.

By Sommer Batterson

Monday, June 6, 2016

Roman Aqueduct Challenge

This week’s theme is National Geographic and Discovery Channel at Comanche

This week we learned how Romans got their water. As Roman towns got bigger, it became difficult for people who lived in towns to get drinking water. Because raw sewage was draining into the rivers, people who drank river water often got very sick or died. First in Rome and then elsewhere, Romans decided to build long stone channels or aqueducts to carry clean water from nearby hills to the towns.  The first Roman aqueducts were build in 312 BC.

This week Rebekah challenged the kids to build their own CC aqueducts. The challenge was to build an aqueduct to transport water from a short hose to a small kiddie pool using any resources they could find. After inventorying their supplies and brainstorming the team created a long snake like aqueduct consisting of pool noodles, flimsy cardboard tubes, duct tape and saran wrap. They quickly realized that wasn't enough, they needed gravity to assist them, so they spread out and used their various heights as part of the structure itself to ensure a slight downward gradient. Triumphantly, they celebrated by splashing into the pool.

By Josh Rosenquest
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