Classroom Connections 365 brings the message of love (1/26/13)

In the end, it’s all about love, and with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, Classroom Connections 365, is taking a page from our friends in Newtown, following the tragedy at Sandy Hook.

As you can see on I-95 in West Haven, there is a billboard that reads “WE ARE SANDY HOOK — WE CHOOSE LOVE.”

That’s the message Jan Doyle from Classroom Connections 365, a public access show she created in 2008, is bringing her students.

Playing With Marbles (12/22/12)

Have you lost your marbles?! Hope not, because if you have you won’t be able to play all these fun marble games with your kids. Joining us to talk about the fun you can have with marbles is Jan Doyle from Classroom Connections 365.

Jan talked about different games that have been played, and referenced three books about marbles:

Marbles 101 Ways to Play by Joanna Cole
World’s Greatest Marbles Games
Games Around the World: Marbles by Elizabeth Jaffe

Classroom Connections 365 gets kids reading more (11/24/12)

Getting kids to read can sometimes be a challenge. It can be even harder getting boys to put down
the action figures, and open a book.

So how can you get your son to flip open those pages?

Jan Doyle from Classroom Connections 365 was here to explain how it works.

Every quilt has a story (9/29/12)

Storytelling is a fun way to help encourage young children with developing their literacy skills and one way to pass along family stories is through family quilts.

Jan Doyle of Classroom Connections 365 says that quilts can be used as a fun and interactive way to promote literacy skills. Jan also reminds us that every quilt has a story.

Quilts can be used as storyboards by using the squares. To do so, each square on a quilt can work together to illustrate and tell a story.

Quilt-making is fun for kids, parents and even grandparents alike to pass along family history.

Healthy Snacks for Kids (8/25/12)

Kids are going back to school with to face new teachers, new classmates and new challenges. It’s a great time to try some new and healthy snacks, which are perfect for kids.

Jan Doyle is back and she has some fun and delicious ideas for nutritious snacks.

Banana Igloo:
Start with a banana, add plain yogurt, top with sunflower seeds, nuts, coconut flakes, or anything your child enjoys!

You can also change the recipe up a bit. Cut the banana into coins or circles. Place a dollop of honey on each side of the banana coin. Drizzle granola or trail mix on top. Arrange on a plate and serve with toothpicks.

Apple Nachos:
Slice up some apples, melt some peanut butter in the microwave, pour over the apples and add a topping. Change the apples to cheese chips and you have a wonderful variation.

Pretzel Wand:
Take or bake a pretzel, cover it in peanut butter or honey, add toppings like coconut, seeds, or nuts and you have a portable snack that can be enjoyed anywhere.

It Makes Cents, for Children (7/28/12)

It makes cents, sense that is, to motivate children to start learning about financial responsibility at an early age.

Jan Doyle from Classroom Connections says that there’s plenty you can do right at home to help your children learn.

When it comes to groceries, you don’t need a trip to the supermarket. Jan suggests going grocery shopping at home as a way to involve and motivate children.

How to go grocery shopping at home:

– Pull a few items off your shelf.
– Have your child estimate the cost.
– Write it down.
– Using a cash register or calculator, enter each item.
– How much does it cost? Is it worth it?
– Compare the cost of water from the faucet and bottled water. Is bottled always worth the cost?
– The answer is key to how you teach your child how to spend money.

Take this a step further:

First, have your child estimate the cost to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. (If your child is allergic to peanut butter, just omit this and substitute another lunch selection. )

Second, ask many sandwiches can be made from a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter and a jar of jam.
Other ideas include talking about the prices of food and ways your family can save money when grocery shopping.

Healthy Homemade Ice Cream (7/7/12)

Hot summer days scream ice cream, but you don’t have to get off a diet or rack of a lot of calories to enjoy it.

Jan Doyle from Classroom Connections 365 shares a fun way to make your own ice cream with fruit, yogurt and a sprinkle of honey. It’s simple, fun and healthy.

Start with a blender that has a powerful motor. Into the mixing container, add Greek yogurt, frozen fruit, pure vanilla extract, and honey. Just add what you want. I don’t measure a thing. Add a touch of milk so things will mix easier.

Mix in short bursts and enjoy!

Make Homemade Paper (6/23/12)

Jan Doyle, of Classroom Connections 365, has a easy “recipe” to make homemade paper. It’s fast, fun and easy.

Jan reminds us to not forget about paper in a digital world. She says that if you can use a blender, you can make paper.

Materials you need:
· Blender
· Wooden Spoon
· Old Screen
· Newspapers to protect the drying surface
· Scrap paper
· Flowers and weeds from the garden or roadside.
· Water
· Glue or wallpaper paste
· Food Coloring (Optional)
· Cooking Spray ( Optional )
· Newspaper to protect surface

Take the scrap paper, tear it up and put it into a blender. Fill the blender about 1/4 full with paper. Add water to cover and let the mixture soak till it is soft. This takes just a few minutes.

Add garden finds like leaves, petals and grass. Your paper mixture will take on the color of the objects mixed in and will have a rough texture. Mix well. Add wallpaper paste or glue. (Eyeball this. Use what you think will hold the mixture together. I used a few tablespoons.) Mix.

Lay the mixture on the screen over a protective surface. On one piece, I added more glue, just to be sure. Experiment and see what works for you. Dry in the sun, if possible. This will take all day. If you let it dry indoors, this could take up to a few days. Carefully lift off your new paper. Decorate and cut at will.

Make cards, use it for a background on one of your photos, use it to create a picture with paint or crayon. Cut it up and make jewelry or hang on the wall as an abstract.

Keep in mind that if you take notes on what you did, the amount of water and paste, you can easily correct or reproduce this activity with accuracy. This is a great way to connect scientific observations with art, while having fun at the same time.

Connecticut Trails Day Celebration (5/26/12)

It’s almost time for the Connecticut Trails Day Celebration, the annual event kicks off next weekend, June 2nd and 3rd.

Jan Doyle from Classroom Connections 365 says the event is fun and family-friendly.

The state of Connecticut has themed the day as “America’s Largest TRAILgating Party.” With over 193 events across the state, every family will find favorite activities or new ideas to explore.

According to the website, there will be “hiking, biking, horseback riding, running, trail maintenance, kayaking, educational walks, bird watching, geocaching, and more.”

Making Day Trips a Learning Experience (4/28/12)

From your hometown to sites in Connecticut, planning day trips with children is not only fun, it’s also the perfect learning experience for the whole family.

Jan Doyle, from Classroom Connections 365, is sharing the following ideas for activities.

Create your own “passport.”

Pick up a sketch pad at the local craft shop. Let your child choose a specialty paper that matches their personality. Glue it to the front of the pad. Using stick-on letters, print “passport.” You can add a child’s or a family’s name to make it more personal.
Where do you start?

Go to the Connecticut’s website for several suggestions. Make sure you take advantage of open house day on June 9th. Many places in Connecticut will be open and free for you to enjoy. Put it in your calendar now so you won’t forget.

Your local library has several free museum passes for the family. Check them out, and have an inexpensive adventure.

A great resource: The Big Connecticut Reproducible Activity Book by Carole Marsh.

Affordable at $9.95, it’s a time saver for busy families. You do not have to start on page one, but skim though and find a location that interests you. Let your child do this. Skimming is an important skill to master, and reading this book will be highly motivational because the destination is the reward. This book, loaded with child-friendly activities, will be a great way to keep the kids occupied during the car ride. Crossword puzzles, dot-to-dot and coloring are just a few of the fun projects.

A great companion to your passport: Maps of the USA., grades 1-6.

Intended for teachers, doesn’t mean that parents can’t use it, too. Look for Evan Moor products at a school supply store. Each state has two pages devoted to it. So you don’t ruin the book, copy pages from the book and paste them in your Passport.

Wayne Dwyer states that “dreams are seedlings of reality.” Why not dream of traveling the world. Create dream pages from the craft store’s scrapbook collection. Symbols of Paris, England and Mexico are readily available. Leave space for dream travels in your passport.

With dream or reality travel, it is fun to find, make or collect dolls of other cultures.

This is a great activity to introduce children to diversity. Look online, go to tag sales, create your own, all help children appreciate cultures from different countries.

Don’t forget to map your travels.

Children really need a sense of place. From a local tourist map to the world, use push pins to mark destinations.

Find games or puzzles that reinforce geography.

Children need to discover the world. Interactive activities are available. Embracing technology, “Around the United States” is a wonderful tactile experience for younger children to travel around the United States, use as a game, or just to explore. Kids five and up will be entertained for hours.

Boosting kids’ computer literacy at home (3/24/12)

By 2015, it’s expected all school testing will be done on a computer. While that is already happening with some students, most kids are still using paper and pencil, but there are some things parents can do to increase their child’s computer literacy.

Jan Doyle from Classroom Connections 365 has some suggestions for what parents can do.

Use the cell phone to send text messages to members of the family. Make it fun. Instead of yelling that it’s dinner time, text the children. Ask for a response. But, don’t allow your child to abbreviate words like OMG (Oh my God.) Have them spell each word out and reward them for correct spelling. Dessert would work.

Buy or borrow an electronic reader. Start getting used to reading text on a screen. Many libraries have readers for their patrons to borrow.

Download a picture book to your cell phone or electronic reader. Become familiar with graphics on this device. For comparison purposes, read the same book in print.

Use the family computer for more than just games. Check out library websites.

Having trouble with homework? Doyle says help is just an internet search away.

The following sites are helpful:
o You Tube EDU.
o Kahn Academy
o HipHugesHistory
o TED talk videos
o Karen Mensing, You Tube

Don’t forget: digital photography, printers, electronic toys and games, DVD’s, and television all fall under the umbrella of digital devices. Use all of these devices all contribute to a child’s digital literacy, but just like other things, including watching television and PG movies, parents need to monitor a child’s use of a computer. We want to keep children safe and responsible digital consumers.

Exploring How the Wind Works (2/25/12)

March 1st is this Thursday, but will it come in like a lion or a lamb? They don’t all it the “Ides of March” for nothing; but parents can use this in-between time to get outside and teach their kids about how the wind works.

Jan Doyle from Classroom Connections 365 says the March winds allow imaginations to soar. Doyle says this in-between time of departing winter to the approaching of spring is a great time to get outside and play with your kids.

The following are some suggested wind-related activities:

1) Discover the personality of the wind. What animal does it mimic? Let your child decide. Keep track. Use a calendar and put a sticker on each day that depicts the personality of the wind. At the end of the month, which animal showed up the most? The least?

2) Look for worms. When the ground thaws, worms start coming out. Look for them. How many can you find? According to the Farmer’s Almanac, a full moon at this time of year is called a worm moon. Discuss this name. Does your child like it or can you come up with another name? Talk about effect of returning worms. What else will start being seen around the neighborhood?

3) There are some fun books to read about worms. Go to the library and pick up.

Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
There’s Hair in My Dirt, A Worm’s Story by Gary Larson

4) Make a Wind Vane.

5) Play with Wind Socks.

6) With little children, read the Three Little Pigs. Remember how they huffed and puffed. Collect objects around the house and let the kids play with huffing and puffing. Good choices would be straws, paper, cotton balls and empty bottles. If you want to extend this activity, take the same objects outside and see the wind work.

7. Introduce William Shakespeare to older kids and discuss the comparison:
As You Like It by William Shakespeare
“Blow, blow, thou winter wind
Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.”

Groundhog Day: seeing your shadow (1/28/12)

Groundhog Day is February 2nd and it’s the perfect time to teach your kids about weather prognosticating, and everything from shadows to burrows.

Jan Doyle with Classroom Connections 365 gives a few fun suggestions for Groundhog Day activities to do with your kids including the following:

  • Go outside and see if you can see your shadow.
  • Use household items including wax paper, a paper towel, clear plastic bag, and a plastic dish to find out what items cast a shadow.
  • Record your findings in a journal and keep a running record of your data.
  • Purchase or make a groundhog puppet.
  • Create an underground burrow.

Become a Weather Watching Family (12/24/11)

It’s a great time of year to watch the weather. It’s always changing, surprising, and has immediate impact on our lives. Weather could have another important role: it is a great family activity to reinforce classroom connections.

Basic Supplies:

– Thermometer with both Celsius and Fahrenheit scales
– A recording sheet, available by request by emailing
– A cutting board ( a platform to collect snow)
– A ruler ( to measure snow fall and rain fall)
– A plastic container (to measure rain fall)

There is a lot of learning for little ones when they discover how to read a thermometer. Understanding what the lines mean, realizing there is a pattern to comprehend, learning the notion of “below 0,” and knowing which scale is most common to use are all important concepts for children.

Help children keep daily records on the recording sheet. Record the temperature, type of day, (sunny, rainy, cloudy, or overcast), rain fall or snow fall.

The internet is wonderful for additional experiments the children can do.

The following is a simple experiment created by a meteorologist that serves as a great starter activity for the little ones.

Don’t forget to create flash cards for new vocabulary: meteorologist, forecasting, predictions, and precipitations are good to add to your child’s vocabulary. Younger children would benefit from learning to read the words: rain, snow sleet, thunder, wind, floods and hurricanes.



– A glass cup
– A thermometer
– Snow


– Fill the glass up with snow.
– Place the thermometer in the glass filled with snow and take the temperature.
– Write down the temperature on a piece of paper.
– Bring the glass inside and wait about 5 minutes until the snow melts.
– Now, take the temperature again. What happened?

The temperature of the snow was much colder than the temperature of the melted snow or water. Water freezes at 32 degrees. When the glass of snow was brought inside, the temperature indoors was much warmer than 32 degrees and melted the snow. This is how the melting process works!

Watch WTNH weather forecast and record the prediction for the next day. Compare what you experienced in your home to the actual forecast.

Friendly but unfamiliar farm friends: Alpacas (11/26/11)

They’re a farm animal, but not one that many are familiar with; they’re alpacas and this weekend many farms around Connecticut are hosting open farm days to introduce them to the public.

Jan Doyle from Classroom Connections 365 says that Alpacas are raised for their fur and fiber. In the spring the fiber is shorn, carded, and spun into yarn.

Doyle says that alpaca farms across the state are open for people to visit. Or they could just visit the New England Alpaca farm in Killingworth this weekend. The children will experience farm life, enjoy fiber demonstrations, children’s activities and free refreshments.

Quick costume creations for Halloween (10/22/11)

With just nine days until Halloween Jan Doyle, of Classroom Connections 365, gives ideas for quick and easy costumes.

Doyle’s Tips include:

  • Pick up a man’s orange tee shirt with a pumpkin painted on the front. Layer it over your child’s clothing and your costume worries are gone. Carry a plastic pumpkin candy holder and you have a matching outfit.
  • Take a man’s old flannel shirt; layer it over the child’s clothes. Take petroleum jelly and smear it on the child’s face. Apply coffee grinds for a beard, add an old hat, and you are good to go.
  • Go to the thrift shop and buy an inexpensive wedding gown. Cut it off to fit your child, add a wand, and you are a princess bride. Use safety pins in the back to make it fit.
  • Pick up a cape at a thrift shop. Add black sweats, and a wand and you are a magician.
  • Take a man’s black tee shirt, add red felt circles and you become a lady bug.
  • Take a man’s black tee shirt, add yellow stripes, and you transform into a bumble bee.
  • Pick up a cardboard box, add foil on the outside and you become a robot.

Doyle says it doesn’t take a lot of money to dress the kids for Halloween. Have fun and use what you have in the house as a base and just add a few accessories.

38 days until Halloween (9/24/11)

It’s not too early to start thinking about Halloween. Planning ahead equals success. Jan Doyle from Classroom Connections 365 has ideas to make Halloween a “howling good time.”

If you leave planning to the night before, you miss the joy of the holiday by rushing in a frantic race to create a costume for school, and enjoy all the extra fun the family can have.

1. First, decide on a costume. It is so much more fun to make a costume. Have the kids help! Take a trip to the fabric store and look at the patterns. Even if you just make part of the pattern, like a witch’s hat, you are turning the holiday into an opportunity to teach your child to sew.

Change the fabric, it becomes a princess hat. Add a magic wand, A glittery top, and you’re done.

Use the patterns to adapt clothing you already have. Add press-on letters, S.W.A.T, a camouflaged hat, and boys are ready to go.

2. Think about crafts that extend a child’s imaginative play: puppets! I picked up an activity bucket kid at a local craft store that will make forty-two puppets on a stick. Another kit will inspire kids to make finger puppets. These kits make it easy for families to have a craft night and make the holiday last for more than a few hours on the 31st.

3. I found a great candy and pretzel kit. You just melt, mod and serve. What’s not to love?

4. What a great idea this company has come up with. 12 different designs in the same cookie pan. Recipes are on the back and baking is such a great way to learn about fractions and equivalent measures. Cook up some fun, today.

Common Sense Keeps Kids Healthy (8/27/11)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Having a sick child on the morning of a busy school day is something every parent dreads dealing with.

Jan Doyle of Classroom Connections 365 has some common sense idea’s to deal with obstacles in a busy morning routine.

Going back to school is not all about paper, pencils and pens. Often overlooked by parents and caregivers are simple commonsense products that every child needs.

The big item on the must have list for children is tissues. Don’t make the teacher stop everything to get your child a tissue with every sneeze. Don’t let your child disrupt the lesson by getting up to get a tissue. When a child gets out of their seat, it disrupts the class and suddenly everyone in the class needs a tissue.

1. Purchase individual packets of tissues. However, this can be expensive.
2. To keep costs down, bring tissues from home in a small plastic bag. Make sure you have a full day’s supply.

Your child eats breakfast and snack on the desk, works with pencils, paper and crayons, sneezes all over it, and puts his chair on top of it at the end of the day, so the custodian can clean the floors. This is not sanitary. Every morning teach your child to use a wipe to clean the desk at the beginning of the day.

1. Pack packages of hand wipes. Teach your child to use one to clean his or her desk at the start of each day.
2. Pack paper towels. Nothing is grimier then kids putting their snack on their desk top. Send them to school with a paper towel and teach them to use the paper towel as a place mat. Soon, all the kids in the class will want one.
3. The bathroom is loaded with so many germs; the surfaces can’t possibly be kept clean. Faucets are the worst. Protect your child with individual wipes that he or she can use after each bathroom visit.
4. A Water Bottle. Send them to school with water from home.

Eye exams for young children seem to be overlooked. An eye exam is not a luxury, but a necessity. Any trouble seeing, close up or far away will result in learning difficulties. Ask your pediatrician when to schedule an eye exam.

Children struggle under the weight of their instruments and heavy back packs. Get them a cart. Don’t make them suffer and possibly hurt their back. Consider a back pack on wheels.

Summer, picnics, and family outings are a perfect setting for children to explore their world with a camera. (7/23/11)

How do you start? Pick up any inexpensive camera and just start shooting. Digital photography has taken the expense out of the hobby. Before, buying and processing a roll of film could be pricy especially if none of the photos were “keepers.” Parents would often limit a child to one or two photos. Not anymore, just shoot away. Down load the images and really look at what has been taken.

Are your images blurry or sharp? If you have unintentional blur, make sure you are not moving the camera as you depress the shutter.

After a few outings shooting randomly, try framing your picture. Take different size picture frames, and just look at the world. What do you notice? What do you want to include in the image, leave out? . Then try to recreate the image in your camera. You will quickly learn that you might have to walk closer to the subject or go further away. It all depends on what you want for the final image.

Picture Projects

1. Make a picture puzzle. Take a picture, back it with cardstock, cut it up and put it back together.

2. Make post cards to send to your school fiends over the summer. Keep up to date with what you are doing.

3. Have fun making a collage. Cut up several pictures and put them together in a random order. What do you come up with?

4. Make some fancy frame for your photos. Use ……and sprinkle on glitter, stars and beads that jazz up the frame.

5. Frame a few for your room.

6. Start a visual diary for you to enjoy for years to come.

Most of all, have fun. Photography is a wonderful, lifetime hobby.

Keep your kids learning over the summer (6/25/11)

New Haven, Conn (WTNH) – Jan Doyle from spoke with GMC Weekend about what you can do to help keep your kids learning during the lazy days of summer.

You can call it the ‘summer slide’. What your child learned during the school year may quickly be forgotten unless they keep exercising those brain muscles.

Stop the Summer Slide with Laughter, Giggles, and Grins.

Research has shown that access to high interest reading material can go a long way to stop the loss of about two months of growth. Jan suggests merging summer reading with cool , real-life activities.

Hot weather is a great time to learn fresh and different water games. Marco Polo isn’t the only game around. Suggest to your child to go on the internet and look up other games to play in the water. Using the words “swimming pool games” I found pages of ideas. A few I really liked are Boogle Board Relay, Bottle, and Duck Thrust but, there are literally dozens of other group or individual games. Have your child:

· Read the directions. Provide help only if needed.

· Gather any special props.

· Encourage your child to teach the new game to others.

Hot dogs and summer go together. How about finding fun recipes that use hotdogs? Some favorite recipes that I found are: Banana Hot Dog Sandwich, Top Dog, and Angels on Horseback. Another idea is to rename the recipe. Original names can be fun, but see what your kids can do. Challenge your kids to rename any hot dog recipe to make it their own. Don’t like hot dogs, use the buns instead of bread to make summer sandwiches. When kids read with a purpose, use measurement tools, and experiment they are learning to integrate real life experiences with the skills they study in school.

Celebrate summer with books about the season. Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping , The Camp Knock Knock Mystery books, and Grandma’s Summer are just a few to get the kids reading. Dare your kids to read a book a week for older children and a picture book a day for the younger ones. Track their progress on a calendar. Depending on the age of the children, celebrate each week or month of reading with a summer treat.

Summer offers endless possibilities to raise the learning bar. Take advantage.

Exploring Nature (5/21/11)

New Haven, Conn (WTNH) – Jan Doyle, from , spoke with GMC Weekend about how a simple magnifying glass can help children explore and have fun outside this summer.

Explore the idea of “nature’s classroom.” You can start in your own back yard. First, define an area to study by using a:

· Hoola – hoop

· Jump rope

· Yarn

· Play the game: I Spy. Then after everyone has a turn, go deeper by revisiting the same area with a magnifying glass.

Try this game at the beach, on a picnic or at grandma’s house.

” Me and My Shadow”
· On a sunny day go outside to measure shadows of each family member. Use sidewalk chalk to trace the shadow for easy comparisons. A child is learning how to use a tape measure, the definition of a shadow, and the concept of compare and contrast. Extend this lesson by going outside on a cloudy day. What happened to the shadow?
Put away the earphones and listen to nature. As the family takes a nature walk, put up a hand every time you hear a different sound. Can you imitate it? Create a log of all the different sounds you hear.

“Shades of Green”
Get a big box of Crayola crayons. Match the shades of nature to the crayon and improve powers of observation and increase vocabulary.
What do you see in a cloud formation? Is there a face hidden in that tree? Do you see an animal hiding in the rock formation on the side of the road? It is loads of fun to find “hidden” pictures in nature’s art. Do you see the monster hidden in the tree below?

Everyone knows getting outside is fun. Make it a fun, family experience!

Bird Watching Basics (4/9/11)

New Haven, Conn (WTNH) – Jan Doyle from Classroom Connections 365 joined GMC Weekend to talk about getting outside and checking out the beautifl birds all around us.

Spring is a great time to reconnect with nature and get the kids away from their computers and technical toys. There is so much to do and it can be enjoyed by all ages and physical abilities.

A wonderful hobby that can be appreciated by the whole family is birding. Discover the names of the birds in your neighborhood, city and state.

Start by just looking. Can you identify that red beauty sitting in a tree? Do you know the name of the bully bird that pushes smaller birds out of the way at feeders? Go to library or invest in a kid friendly book like Peterson Field Guide for Young Birder’s.

Take neighborhood walks and look for nests. Are birds recycling last year’s nest or do you see them building new?

If your kids show an interest, encourage this hobby by purchasing kid’s binoculars. They are less than twenty dollars, and will increase the fun factor.

Create games. See who can find the most of one species of birds or different species.

Consider bringing a sketch pad and draw what you see. Find coloring books that depicts details and enjoy the process of taking the hobby at home.

Study the field guides and create to create a family scavenger hunt of birds in your area. Birding is a wonderful inexpensive hobby that can be enjoyed anywhere. Take advantage!

Green food that’s good for you (2/13/11)

New Haven, Conn (WTNH) – Jan Doyle with Classroom Connections 365 spoke with GMC Weekend about using St. Patrick’s Day to encourage your child to eat green food that’s good for you.

If It Is Green, Eat It!

Do your kids turn up their noses when vegetables are served? Use St. Patrick’s Day and the whole month of March to promote, “If it is Green, Eat it.” Not only will kids be more inclined to try something new, is a great time to create family fun and lifetime memories.

Breakfast Menu
1. Green Milk
2. Green Eggs
3. Green Fruit: Kiwi

Lunch Menu
1. Stuffed Breads – with spinach and broccoli
2. Cheese and Broccoli Tart
3. Grapes

Dinner Menu
1. Green Mashed Potatoes
2. Green Pasta with pesto sauce

1. Green pistachio nuts
2. Tortilla chips with guacamole dip.
3. Jello
4. Pudding
5. Green Sugar Cookies

Valentine’s Day is for Kids, Too! (2/13/11)

New Haven, Conn (WTNH) – Jan Doyle from Classroom Connections 365 joins GMC Weekend to talk about making Valentine’s Day special for your kids.

Art projects, such as making your own Valentine’s Day cards, is a fun activity for kids of all ages. It stimulates imagination and creativity, and it’s just plain fun!

Family Story Night (1/9/11)

New Haven, Conn (WTNH) – Jan Doyle from Classroom Connections 365 joins GMC Weekend to discuss how a family story night can help your child perform at school.

What would kids rather hear? Let’s work on our language skills or tell stories and eat popcorn? (No answer required!)

Consider Family Story Night to help your child succeed!

First, set the mood: have a special quilt or tablecloth for story telling night. Supply everyone with bowls of popcorn. Sit around the storytelling cloth and set a few rules.

· Don’t interrupt the story teller.

· Everyone’s job is to listen quietly.

· Be able to ask one question when the story is over.

· Everyone gets a turn to tell a story.

An easy way to start telling stories is with old family photos, knickknacks around the house, or events that happened when the children were young. As the parent story teller, you don’t want to tell everything… encourage children ask you questions about the event. When your children take a turn, use personal belonging or papers from school. However, if the children can tell a story without any props that’s great!

Why would you want to do this?

· Developing oral language.

· Developing interactive knowledge.

· Building a sense of family history.

· Teaching conversational skills.

· Introducing new words and vocabulary to children or using words in a different context.

· Teaching how to listen, sit still, and take turns.

Plus, it’s fun!!!

Pay Attention to Music (12/10/10)

New Haven, Conn. (WTNH) – Listening to music is almost as natural as breathing. Everybody knows Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, Rock-A-Bye Baby and Old McDonald Had a Farm, but why is it important for parents to give special attention to this music?

Jan Doyle from Classroom Connections 365 says it’s important to understand the role of music and sound in a child’s life. It is not just noise.

Jan suggests toys that sing the ABC’s, hitting pots and pans with a wooden spoon, teaching preschoolers simple songs, and even just riding in the car. You can borrow children’s music CDs from the library, exchange with friends, or create your own.

Preparing Your Child for Kindergarten (11/13/10)

It’s not too soon for parents of pre-schoolers to be thinking about kindergarten next fall. Jan Doyle from Classroom Connections 365 helps parents know how to get their child ready for sucess.

She says a great deal of attention is given to teaching “concepts of print” to preschoolers. But, she wants to remind parents “not to forget other equally important skills that are needed for success.”

Fine motor development is essential — coordinating small muscle movement of the fingers with the eye.

“A child needs to get ready to hold a pencil and write their name. This can be done in a variety of fun activities,” Jan Doyle explained. “Sometimes just letting a parent know the purpose of the activity will increase the time a child is allowed to play.”

Here are a few other ways that parents can “work” with their child:

  • Using sidewalk chalk (easy to grasp) and draw large circles, shapes, etc. This is a precursor to penmanship.
  • Painting with water on surfaces inside or outside. For extra fun, pour in food coloring.
  • Finger painting — it’s messy but fun using big bold strokes.
  • Painting with cotton tips, cotton balls, sponges, etc
  • Shaving Cream on wax paper
  • Go to the beach and draw in the sand.
  • Dirt, glorious dirt — even more fun when it is mud and then freezes.
  • Crayon rubbings — discovering different textures
  • Tear it Up! Use old newspapers and let the kids make strips with it and create imaginary houses.
  • Crumble the newspaper into balls and plays sink the basket.
  • Let the parent draw shapes on “recycled” paper. The child will trace the shape using different colors
  • Pick it: Pick up stick, tongs and cotton balls, or 52 card pick-up.

Jan says play is serious business.

Save Family Stories for the Future (10/23/10)

(WTNH) – Scrapbooking, or a family journal, is more than just a shoebox of photos or photographs pasted into an album.

It is a creative art form that provides hours of fun and creativity for the whole family, Plus, it is a great way to preserve family memories for future generations.

Jan Doyle from “Classroom Connections 365” shows how to get started. She demonstrated types of three album with the accompanying supplies.

High School memories of a daughter
Family Photos: date and images when a family member became a firefighter, etc.
Parade Queen
In addition to photos, Jan suggests using ribbon from flowers, invitations, articles from the newspaper and journal entries all contribute to the memory that can be preserved in a family history book.

Suggested Supplies: special scissors, papers, die cut items, photos, ribbon from dresses or flowers, press-on letters, stickers, stamps, journaling pens and paper.

Have fun with it.

Letting Kids Be Kids (2/28/10)

Jan Doyle, director of Wyse Workshops, joined us this morning to talk about how overscheduling affects children and what you can do to keep kids busy without overwhelming them.

Jan says you’ll know your child needs more free time when you feel like a professional planner and every minute is premeditated. She says some big red flags are when your child has no time for homework,if they are not getting enough sleep, and if they are easily agitated or crying over minor things.

To counter overscheduling, Jan has the following tips:

  1. Determine priorities. Sit down with your child and talk. Often, schedules get out of whack because activities are added without considering what your child is already doing. Take a hard look and the schedule and see where it can be pruned.
  2. Teach your child to say no to activities that don’t really matter to him.
  3. Teach your child to say yes to an activity after it has been considered in the “big picture” of things to do. Is it worth the cost? Will it interfere with school work and jeopardize college? Is it worth giving up free time with friends? An afterschool job?
  4. Consider the loss of family time. Will it interfere with the family’s dinner time, church, or other activities already scheduled?

Avoiding Cabin Fever (1/23/10)

Having to stay indoors dues to chilly temperatures and snow can really put a damper on your plans to keep your little ones entertained. Jan Doyle of Wyse Workshops told ‘Good Morning Connecticut’ ways that you can have fun with the kids, without breaking the bank.

Doyle gave us some ideas on ways that you and your family can beat cabin fever.

Pull out the plastic bottles from the recycle bin. Arrange them anyway you want: straight line, pyramid, or scatter them about the area. Use a ball that the kids already have and now you have an indoor bowling. If the bottles are too light and you want to make the game more challenging, drop some marbles in them.

This is a great game to keep in mind for outside too. Add water to make them harder to tip over.

Tic Tack Toe
To keep the kids busy and engaged, consider making a Tic, Tack, Toe game board. For game markers, use anything you have in the house. I like post-it papers or cut markers from old worn out clothes. But, anything will do. Increase the challenge by using this as a review for math facts or spelling words. If a child spells a word correctly, or knows the answer to a math fact, they get to put down a marker on the board.

Furniture From Milk Cartons
I loved this as a kid. Use your imagination. Cut out rectangle from milk cartons. Cover what is left and you have made chairs or tables for your dolls or other toys.

Sock Toss
Take a laundry basket, basket, or box. The smaller the basket or box, the greater challenge is for the child. Create your own rules. Determine the distance of sock tosser to box. See how many socks you can throw into the box. The person with the most points wins.

This is another easy game to tie to spelling words, sight word recognition or math facts. Reviewing essential skills while playing is great!

Teach Your Child To Sew Buttons
My mom always had a button jar. Before she threw any garment away, she would cut off the buttons and save them. Mom always said, “You never know when you need a button.” Use these extra buttons to teach your child a life skill. It make it more fun, sew them in a design.

Pine Cone Bird Feeders
This takes a little bit of planning. You need to have pine cones already collected and bird seed. Take string and wrap it around the pine cone so you can later tie it to a tree. Use peanut butter or shortening to cover the pine cone. Roll in bird seed. Have a bird book available so the kids can identify what birds come to their feeder.

Paint an Egg Carton to Make a Jewelry Box
Cut An Egg Carton Apart to Make Creatures or People

Shaving Cream Art
Raid the bathroom cabinet and pull out the shaving cream. Mix it with food coloring and you have an instant paint that is fun to play with.

Indoor Camping or Clubhouse
Make a tent using the kitchen table and an old sheet. Eat lunch in your special clubhouse.

Lost Mitten Puppet
Every child loses a mitten. Save the orphan. On cold days pull them out and create finger puppets. Add a face and you are ready to go.

Teaching Children About Money (12/26/09)

Jan Doyle, director of Wyse Workshops in Branford, tells us how introducing children to money at an early age can be beneficial to their development.

Jan says it’s never too early to teach little ones about money because it can improve their math skills and show them the true value of a dollar.

For children in preschool and kindergarten, an ideal goal is to count to 30 using pennies. Jan says you can begin with counting steps on a staircase. Guess how many steps to the refrigerator, sink, etc. When the child has a grasp of the concept of counting, use real pennies and just start counting to 30 pennies. Jan says to make sure you use both words (pennies and cents) to build their vocabulary. (Be sure to watch the little ones- they are apt to put things in their mouths)

Jan recommends that you work your way up with money denominations. The next step is to show children how a nickel is different from a penny by comparing and contrasting their color, shape and value. Then, start doing simple exchanges.

Five pennies = one nickel

10 pennies = 2 nickels

Continue to 30 pennies = 6 nickels

Jan recommends adding dimes, quarters and half-dollars when the child is between first and third grade. After that, when a child is ready for dollar bills, they are ready to make simple purchases at convenience stores. Jan says you can let a child go in a buy a quart of milk or bread. Discuss the cost with them and have them count out the money. You can even have them pay with a $5 and learn how to check and make sure they received the correct change back.

As for older children, Jan says they need to be able to earn money, save it, give some to charity, and watch it grow. Kids can get part-time jobs such as mowing lawns, raking leaves, waking dogs, baby sitting, and washing cars before they turn 16.

Jan says an allowance is a good idea to teach children about resposibility with money, they need to work for it. If a chore is not done, or done to the parent’s standard, he should not get paid. Jan says you need to remember you are preparing the child to be an independent adult with a job.

As for teaching kids about saving money, many banks have a minimum deposit requirement. Jan says find out what it is in your bank. If it is significant, think about loaning the money to your child until he has the minimum. Make regular deposits, and let your child see how money grows and how it doesn’t.

A reasonable charity for children to donate to would be the local animal shelter or community dining room. Small donations can be made, and that teaches the child about community service.

Taking on Teacher Conferences (11/21/09)

Most parents would agree that parent-teacher conferences are tough, there are scheduling conflicts, babysitting issues and some parents are sure about what to say once they arrive. Jan Doyle, the director of Wyse Workshops , told ‘Good Morning Connecticut’ that it does not have to be this difficult. She gave us some tips on how to get the most out of your teacher conference.

Five Tips for A Successful Teacher Conference

Make an appointment
1.)You can do this by sending a note to the teacher with your child or calling the school and leaving a message for the instructor.
2.) If you cannot meet with the teacher during school hours, request a phone conference.

Should I bring my other children along if I cannot find a babysitter?
1.) The answer is NO, most children are easily bored with the adult conversation and will most likely be distractive to the meeting once they begin to get antsy.
2.) If you cannot find a babysitter, don’t go and try scheduling a phone conference or re-scheduling the appointment when you can go alone.

What should I say?
1.)Having specific questions ready to fire off in the meeting is a very effective approach to getting the most out of your visit.
2.)Study your child’s daily papers carefully and if you notice a reoccurring problem, bring it to the teacher’s attention and discuss solutions.

For example:
If homework is a battle, discuss strategies with the teacher.
If behavior is a concern, talk about different approaches that might help.

Take Notes
Taking notes will help you remember what is discussed during the conference and will also serve as a great reference sheet if one strategy does not work, you can
move on to another, or go back to the teacher and discuss other options.

What if my child is doing well in class?

It is always a wonderful idea to go and meet the teacher.
A personal connection is always helpful and your meeting demonstrates that you child’s education is important enoughfor you to take the time and address any issues.

You should consider asking:

What activities can your child do to help bring about continued success?

What your child will be learning this year
Questions about the Connecticut Mastery Tests
Suggestions for books or magazines for independent reading

And if something comes up and you can’t keep the appointment or show up on time, let the teacher know by calling the school or the teacher, it is greatly appreciated.

Children’s Reading Tips (10/11/09)

Most teachers would agree that getting your child to read at home is essential to their development. But, some parents have a difficult time finding ways to encourage their kids to actually pick up a book.

Jan Doyle, the founder of Wyse Workshops , gave ‘Good Morning Connecticut’ seven tips on ways you can get your child to read!

Doyle says the secret to getting your child to crack open a book is motivation. She says a child will do more of something when they want too and parents need to provide the motivation that encourages their child to read. Doyle says there are several ways that you can increase motivation.

Tip 1 Children’s Pick

Whatever the topic, make an effort to find books on that topic with your child.
Go to the local library.
Ask the children’s librarian for help.
Take time to experience the wonder of the library – rows and rows of books to read and touch and explore – all for free!
Don’t make it a quick stop between the food shopping and going home to start dinner.
Go to the local bookstore. Use the same careful decision making skills when you pick out a new pair of sneakers and apply that to finding just the right book.

Tip 2 Say no to difficult books

Be sure that the book your child selects is not too difficult for them to read.
Have your child read out loud the first 100 words. If you child cannot pronounce three words, the book is too hard. (Not including proper names.)
For independent reading, a child needs to know 97% to 100% of the words.

Tip 3 Easy is OK!

No one expects gourmet meals every night of the week. Take out, fast -food, or one pot meals rule.
True with reading, let the schools teach the skills that a child needs.
Reading at home is for practice skills, and learning to enjoy a book, and discovering how relaxing reading can be.

Tip 4 Start a book collection

Kids love to collect things baseball cards, rocks, shells, etc.
Start a book collection by author, genre, topic.
Show your kids you value books.
Buy them and leave them where your child “lands at night”
Buy a bookcase to house them , just like you would do for any collection.

Tip 5 Encourage reading jokes

Great for developing vocational and inferential skills and making connections for multiple meanings for words
Why did the skeleton refuse to go on the roller coaster? He didn’t have any guts!
What do kittens like on their hamburgers? Cat-sup
What do you call a sad cranberry? A blueberry!

Tip 6 Model reading at home

A child needs to see a parent reading. If it is so important, in the child’s mind,
the parent should be doing this also. (Newspaper, magazine, book, on-line paper, etc.)

Tip 7 Read as a family

When your favorite TV show comes on, everyone knows the time and your ready.
Create a reading schedule and soon your child will be looking forward to it.