V is for Virtues

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Today I will be sharing about one of my favorite subjects – Virtues. This is something each and everyone has. And somethings each and every one of us should strive to improve.

There are so many virtues, and it is hard to choose which one to concentrate on. So I have created a super simple printable that allows you to play a draw game with your kids, and draw a virtue of the month. In fact, there are 19 virtues, in case you follow Badi calendar, which has 19 months!

What is a virtue of the month? It is a virtue you all agree to practice together. And to gently remind each other if someone doesn’t speak the language of virtues, or forgetting about this virtue.

What is the language of virtues? I first read about it in the book called Virtues Guide by Linda Kavelin Popov (with Dan Popov, Ph.D, and John Kavelin). In this book the concept of the language of virtues is explained as when we replace the words of blaming and shaming with words such as courage, helpfulness, and flexibility, which empower positive shift in child’s and adult’s behaviour.  The whole concept is based on a principles of peace and consultation, where through using virtues, we tap to the very soul of a child, and adult alike. It can be quite a process, but once started and with persistence, one can really reshape the world around!

So, back to printable! I chose 19 virtues, they are: Patience, Kindness, Love, Helpfulness, Appreciation, Excellence, Truthfulness, Forgiveness, Obedience, Gentleness, Cleanliness, Self-Discipline, Generosity, Courtesy, Joyfulness, Peacefulness, Compassion,Unity and Creativity.

What do you do? You print out the list either on stiff paper, or laminate it after printing out. Cut the  virtues out, and using a box, or a hat, let a child take a turn to draw the virtue. Talk about it. Explain to children clearly what this virtue represents, and the ways of practicing it. Decided right there and then how you will remind each other about this virtue. For example, you can emphasize that the action or the word wasn’t kind. Ask your children to use a better word, or expression.

What to do when the child is upset and doesn’t cooperate? Give him time to calm down. Reassure him, ask him to use the words, tell him it is ok to be upset, but it is time to calm down, and then you can talk.

During these months that you set on exploring the language of virtues, come back to my blog and check out my Virtues Series – you can find some ideas and activities here, too!

Of course, it is not possible to avoid all other virtues not listed here! So give yourselves a head start – and you will see how easy it will become with time!
31 Days of ABC - October 2016 | Alldonemonkey.com

After taking a break last year due to the arrival of Baby #3, we are back with one of my favorite series, the 31 Days of ABC! You can look forward to 31 more days of activities, crafts, books, apps, and more, all dedicated to teaching young children the alphabet.

I am so happy to be working with an amazing group of kid bloggers, who will be sharing their amazing ideas with us in the coming days. And this year for the first year we are also adding a giveaway, so be sure to scroll to the end and enter for a chance to win!

So join us as we jump, skip, hop, and read our way through the alphabet this October!

Don’t forget to follow our 31 Days of ABCs Pinterest board for even more great ABC ideas!


31 Days of ABC

Teaching the ABCs – October 1

All Done Monkey: Creating a Preschool Letter of the Week Curriculum

A – October 2

Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails: Apple Scented Glitter Glue and Apple Craft

B – October 3

Witty Hoots: How to Make Fabulous Button Bookmarks

C – October 4

Preschool Powol Packets: Construction Truck Preschool Action Rhyme

D – October 5

ArtsyCraftsyMom: Printable Dinosaur Alphabet Sequencing Puzzle

E – October 6

Preschool Powol Packets: Elephant Art Project and Thailand Lesson

F – October 7

Spanglish Monkey: Spanish-English ABC Flashcards

G – October 8

Royal Baloo: Simple Ghost Painting Project

H – October 9

Peakle Pie: Hide and Seek

I – October 10

Look! We’re Learning!: Insect Activities for Kids

J – October 11

All Done Monkey: Olmec Jaguar Craft

K – October 12

Preschool Powol Packets: I Am a Kite Action Rhyme for Preschool

L – October 13

Raising a Trilingual Child: Letter Learning with a Multilingual Twist

M – October 14

Creative World of Varya – M is for Motor Skills

N – October 15

Peakle Pie: Narwhal Fingerprint Pictures

O – October 16

For the Love of Spanish: O es de Oso

P – October 17

Little Hiccups: P is for Places, A Travel ABC Book

Q – October 18

All Done Monkey: Bilingual Letter Craft – Q is for ¿Qué? Q is for Question

R – October 19

Sugar, Spice & Glitter

S – October 20

Crafty Mama in ME: Patterned Paper Plate Snake

T – October 21

Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes: Puerto Rican Flamboyant Tree

U – October 22

Witty Hoots: How to Make Awesome Unicorn Headbands

V – October 23

Creative World of Varya – V is for Virtues

W – October 24

Scribble Doodle and Draw: Winter Letter Craft

X – October 25

All Done Monkey: Coding for Kids – X Marks the Spot

Y – October 26

Our Daily Craft: Yarn Craft Basket and Books for Kids

Z – October 27

Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes: Learning Spanish at the Zoo

123’s – October 28

Hispanic Mama: Fun Activities and Resources to Teach Numbers in Spanish

Prewriting – October 29

Sugar Aunts: Pre-Writing Lines Fine Motor Activity

Books, Songs, & Apps – October 30

The Jenny Evolution: ABC Alphabet Books

Alphabet Clip Cards – October 31

The Kindergarten Connection: Alphabet Clip Cards

Find more great resources in 31 Days of ABCs 2013 and 2014!

 

Giveaway

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3 month subscription to the Kidloland app, which includes 575+ interactive nursery rhymes, songs, stories, and educational activities to help children learn ABCs, animals, fruits, vegetables, shapes and more!

Alphabet Experts Mega Bundle: 31 Days of ABC Giveaway

The Alphabet Experts Mega Bundle from Kindergarten Connections contains 500+ of alphabet printables, including tons of activities for each letter of the alphabet! ($58.50 value)

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Virtue Wednesday: Love

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“Where there is love, nothing is too much trouble

and there is always time.”

Abdu’l-Baha

Today’s Virtue Wednesday is about Love. I chose this wonderful virtue to talk about in dedication to my dearest husband, who just celebrated his birthday on February 4th.
When I think Love, I always have this fuzzy warm feeling. It is such an uplifting feeling and while often people think that love is all about dreamy state of mind, where your head is in the clouds and your acquire wings, love is actually much more than that.
As a child, feeling love for me was about my parents smile, their encouragement, my friends appreciation, being hugged and kissed, consoled when I was sad.
When I grew up, I realized how much more there is to love: trust, appreciation, friendliness, honesty, care, consideration and more.
One person I could see showing all of this was my husband. When we started getting closer as friends, I could see him being so genuine in his words and actions, no hidden agenda, no hidden motives. He spoke his mind out, yet, he truly cared how it was perceived. I fell in love with this man and 6 years later I am grateful every day for how much love he has in his heart and mind for me, our children and people around. If you want to read the story of how we met and got married, you can read in my post on Our Anniversary.
When we teach children about love, we always tell them that even though we get upset with them sometimes, or they get upset with us, it doesn’t mean the love stops. It just means we have come to some obstacle that we need to overcome together, using the power of virtues, using the power of love.
We start our day with greetings and confirmations, waking them up with kind words and kisses and hugs. We assure them of our love. And they assure us in theirs.
If we have disagreements or some problems between us, we try to cool down and sort things out by communicating with each other, finding a solution, a good compromise. We again assure each other there is always love for one another.
We also talk about showing love not only to family and friends, but to strangers too. We explain that it doesn’t mean running to hug and kiss everyone we see. It is just by being kind, polite and helpful if the need arises. Treating people fairly and equally despite their background and social status.
We talk about overwhelming feelings and how everyone can lose patiences or get angry from time to time. It happens to us, it happens to our children, friends, family and strangers. Sometimes with other people we have no chance to sort things out, but we can still learn from the experience and try to do better on our side the next time we meet with such obstacle.
If we really look around, love is everywhere. It is not hard to see. We just forget to find it at times. We let other feelings overpower the strongest force this world has ever had – Love.
Here I would like to revisit last week’s activity on Heartlings and suggest it again as it really is a helpful reminder about love and consideration.
How do you talk about love with your children? Do you have any interesting activities which teach about the virtue of Love?

Virtue Wednesday: Thoughtfulness

Since my blogging break and hopefully over (at least for the time being!), I am very happy to resume sharing some thoughts and activities related to character development and nurturing virtues.
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Today I would like to introduce to you a virtue of Thoughtfulness. And I would like to share with you a couple of quotes that always make me contemplate about this virtue:
“The people of this world are thinking of warfare; you must be peacemakers. The nations are self-centered; you must be thoughtful of others rather than yourselves. They are neglectful; you must be mindful.” 
Abdu’l-Baha (The Promulgation of Universal Peace)
“Let them [all human beings] at all times concern themselves with doing a kindly thing for one of their fellows,
offering to someone love, consideration, thoughtful help” 
Abdu’l-Baha (Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha)
Being thoughtful means being considerate of other people’s feelings, thoughts, comfort. It means trying to put yourself in their place. It also means paying attention to people’s preferences.
Teaching thoughtfulness is as hard as teaching obedience. Thoughtfulness requires a huge amount of love and patience. When reminding a child to be thoughtful and considerate, we have to do the same with them. We are often bound by time-tables, time frames, our schedules and our need to rush. And in some cases, we procrastinate when our children ask us to do something. We always find a way to stretch time and no wonder we find our own children doing the same.
Thoughtfulness to me breaks down into “being full of thoughts about someone”. Literally meaning observing and thinking. When my picky eater refuses to eat what I made, I plead her to think about all the work I’ve done to prepare the meal and how there are people in the world who don’t even get to eat half of what we can afford. Perhaps at the moment to a 5 year old thinking about someone who has no food without seeing them or being around them is actually an empty sound. But as the time passes, as we are exposed to media, as the child grows to notice more and more things around, he/she will start asking questions and want the answers. I suggest not to wait for that moment but to let your child hear about things in a loving manner and not in a way we would complain. E.g.  “I love you and I think of your health, so I made all this delicious healthy food for you. Let’s make each other happy and eat?”  – a loving explanation. “I spent so much time making food and you are refusing to eat?! You are so ungrateful!” – not a loving explanation.
I will admit: I am not always this loving patient mom. I am bound by time frames and schedules at times. I rush my children, I even scold them at times. However, I always try to find a way to change that and improve myself in a first place. My responsibility as a parent to my children is to show them that there IS a better way of living and dealing with things.
So, recently, after a big meltdown that turned into a blowout (because, we lose patience too, you know), I was putting my 5 year old to bed. And she asked to read her a story. Because our 18 months old was very cranky and sleepy and I had to nurse her to sleep, I suggested that we turn off the lights and I can tell a story instead.
And here’s what I told:
“Once upon a time, there was a happy family: a mommy, a daddy, a big sister and a little sister. All was good, but sometimes big sister didn’t want to listen to her parents and she would tease her little sister. She would also throw fits at the table refusing to eat food that her mommy cooked for her. Mommy and daddy would get sad. Sometimes they would get upset. And once in a while they would get very angry. But after that they would feel awful and they would all apologize and say prayers together, asking God to give them more strength and patience.
So one day, after a big angry conversation, mommy had an idea. She suggested that every time someone gets angry or upset or someone makes another angry or upset, they give each other hearts. And at the end of the week they can count those hearts and talk about how to improve so they are all happy. First week, there were so many hearts! It was actually fun to sit down and discuss what happened during the week and come up with ideas what would be a better way to deal with different situations.
As the time passed, the number of hearts became less and less. Somehow it didn’t feel nice. Then mommy and big sister came up with the solution: since it is always so nice to receive hearts, why not give hearts at times when they make each other happy? This way the number of hearts will always be large and it would also be very thoughtful to concentrate on upsetting thing but rather concentrate on happy moments.
And so they continued giving hearts to each other. They still had their weekly discussions on self-improvement, but they were even more fun as no one could even remember why each heart was given for. And as the time passed, it seemed that most of the hearts were given in order to remember the happy moments.
The End.”
And then… my 5 year old asked whether it was ok to give me and my husband and our 18 months old hearts if she did something that upset us. And that’s how the Weekly Heartlings were born. We have just started. And we haven’t really come to a point where we can say we have thoroughly improved our ways. But it is a start! And most important – it makes everyone happy. And since this activity is designed for the whole family, it takes into consideration each and every member.

How to Use Weekly Heartlings:

1. Cut out of paper hearts of desired size.
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2. Glue sort of pocket to a piece of thick construction paper, 1 for each member of the family.
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3. Write on top: Weekly Heartlings. And Below: If you made someone happy or sad, leave a heart in their pocket – show your love and thoughtfulness.
4. Place the board somewhere in a visible place and at the height accessible to the youngest children who can participate consciously in this activity.
5. Make another pocket to place near the board and place all the hearts inside.
heartlings
6. Explain the idea to your family members at a family circle or during a family consultation.
7. Use the hearts as you wish. Encourage everyone to put hearts in the pockets.
heartlings2
8. At the end of the week, collect and count the hearts. You can add extra hearts to make an even number for everyone. Talk about your week. Discuss where you can improve yourselves. You can also recall decisions made the week before and follow up on how you’ve been doing in fulfilling them.
Oh, and per my daughter’s advice: every time you give a heart, give a hug to this person as well! Because apparently, one can’t be given without the other. Isn’t it thoughtful?!?
How do you teach thoughtfulness to your children?

Virtue Wednesday: Forgiveness

“Do not look at the shortcomings of anybody; see with the sight of forgiveness. The imperfect eye beholds imperfections. The eye that covers faults looks toward the Creator of souls.”

(Abdu’l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 93)

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I chose this virtue for a reason: as parents we often tend to forget that forgiveness is so simple, especially when it comes to forgiving ourselves for being unfair to our little ones or not having enough patience to train them.

Everyone makes mistakes. It is true. But through mistakes we learn. And giving someone, even ourselves, another chance is just what we, human beings, do. Forgiving someone for making a mistake, no matter how big, is showing love and compassion. Helping someone and ourselves learn through the mistake made is a process, sometimes it is a very complicated one.

Continue reading »

Virtue Wednesday: Forgiveness

“Do not look at the shortcomings of anybody; see with the sight of forgiveness. The imperfect eye beholds imperfections. The eye that covers faults looks toward the Creator of souls.”

(Abdu’l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 93)

2013-05-22

I chose this virtue for a reason: as parents we often tend to forget that forgiveness is so simple, especially when it comes to forgiving ourselves for being unfair to our little ones or not having enough patience to train them.

Everyone makes mistakes. It is true. But through mistakes we learn. And giving someone, even ourselves, another chance is just what we, human beings, do. Forgiving someone for making a mistake, no matter how big, is showing love and compassion. Helping someone and ourselves learn through the mistake made is a process, sometimes it is a very complicated one.

Continue reading »

Virtue Wednesday: Elevating Empathy

I am very happy to introduce today’s Virtue Wednesday post written by Barbara Gruener!

Barbara Gruener is a school counsellor and character coach at a National School of Character in Friendswood, Texas. When she’s not working with tomorrow’s leaders, she enjoys reading, writing, baking, knitting and spending time with her family. Barbara is the author of The Corner On Character blog.

Empathy. It’s all that I’ve been able to think about since I heard parenting expert Dr. Michele Borba talk about this all-important virtue at a Character Education Conference three years ago.

Empathy. It’s the virtue that allows us to identify with and understand another’s situation, feelings, and motives.

Empathy. What if it really is the key to solving the bullying epidemic? What if it really is the most important thing a student brings to a class family? What if it really is simply that powerful?

So since then, I’ve been working with my students to recognize and understand what empathy is; how it looks, how it sounds, and how it feels and how it works.

Our first step in elevating empathy is teaching children about feelings. They won’t be able to understand another’s feelings if they don’t recognize, understand, and manage their own in healthy ways. I’ve done a lot of empathy work with my students by simply asking, “What was that experience like for you?” and “How did that feel?” I’ve turned my ceiling tiles into feeling tiles by drawing emoticons on them. Students will point to the tiles that they think best matches their feeling. I’m careful to remind them that we may not always choose our feelings, but we get to choose how we react to them. Every time.

Once they understand their feelings, it’s easier to experience empathy for one another. I use a lot of literature in my peace classes and encourage text-to-self connections by stopping periodically through stories to ask, “What’s going on with that character?” and “What would it feel like to be him?” “And what does he need?” A great example of a page that I’ve used to elevate empathy is this one from The Potato Chip Champ by Maria Dismondy.

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Continue reading »

Virtue Wednesday: Gentleness

I am a little late posting for the Virtue Series – family is always a priority!

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Today I would like to talk about Gentleness. Here’s a very nice quotation by Abdu’l-Baha that says it all:

“Love and affinity are the fruits of a gentle disposition,

a pure nature and praiseworthy character”.

Since our younger daughter was born, we started emphasising gentleness even more in order to teach our older daughter to take better care of her sibling. It isn’t very easy for a young child not to get excited when playing with the baby, it is often overwhelming when babies grab things and don’t want to hand them back.

Continue reading »

Virtue Wednesday: Joyfulness

I am back with Virtue Wednesdays and would like to talk about a very important virtue: Joyfulness.

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Why is it important? Because being joyful and happy is what gives us energy, hope for the best and simply keeps us healthy both physically and spiritually.

I like the following quotation by Abdu’l-Baha as it describes the best:

Joy gives us wings! In times of joy our strength is more vital, our intellect keener, and our understanding less clouded. We seem better able to cope with the world and to find out sphere of influence.

As a parent of a very spirited 4 year old, I often catch myself  that the way I speak to her is more like giving instructions. This kind of conversation can’t possibly give joy neither to her, nor to me. More over, it is very very stressful! “Sit properly! Please, be gentle with your sister! This is the third time I am asking you to put your toys away!” Sounds familiar? Most of us, parents, are like that. When the child FINALLY follows your request/order, you feel yourself drained! There is no satisfaction from the child finally complying, just frustration and probably headache. Where’s joy in all of that?

I am not saying we should stop telling our children how to behave or stop training them. But in between we have to find time to be joyful. To let those wings of joy lift us up. To laugh together with our children. Or, as my husband says, to know which battles to fight and which not.

Most important, we have to find that inner joy in ourselves and teach our children to be joyful despite of what is happening outside of their inner world.

How to do that? I can’t possibly tell you. Except, when you approach a situation – try to let the joy into your heart first. Oh, it is so difficult! But when I manage to remember to do that, I find that I express myself better and resolve the situation with a better outcome, leaving myself and my child happy.

What do you do to keep yourself and your child joyful?

Virtue Wednesday: Helping Around the House

Welcome to Virtue Wednesday! Today I will talk about Helping Around the House.

Helpfulness is a wonderful virtue that shows others that you care for them, have compassion and are there for them.


As parents we constantly help and assist our children from the time they are born and beyond. As parents we don’t think twice when we help our children. And this is the attitude we would want out children to have as well: helping others without hesitation, without asking for anything in exchange.


Helping around the house is the first step towards developing the virtue of helpfulness in general. It starts with simple: “Give mommy the…, please” and continues with cleaning up games, well into the assigning the chores.

Here are some tips on how to invite your child to help at home:

1. Praise the virtue: every time your child hands you something, praise the virtue of helpfulness: “Thank you, you are so helpful!”  

 2. Voice the action: when the child hands you something or puts something away, talk about it: “That’s right, we put it right here!” or “Yes, you give it to mommy!”

3. Suggest simple tasks that assist you in doing something: toss the salad, pass you the cloth for wiping dust, help you pour water into the bucket, water the flowers etc. Children enjoy real life activities 

and respond much better to them.

4. For older children assign simple chores and reward them for doing thorough and good job with simple tokens of appreciation (e.g. stickers that they can proudly display on the wall of their bedroom).

5. Lead by your own example: if you are a compassionate and helpful person and when helping others you involve your children in a process, chances are quite high that your child will naturally pick up.

6. Talk about helpfulness with your child. Discuss the benefits of being helpful and what happens if no one helps anyone. 

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How do you nurture helpfulness in your household? Share your tips – I’d love to read about them!

Virtue Wednesday: Teaching the Virtue of Unity

All mankind are the fruits of one tree, flowers of the same garden,

waves of one sea.” ~ Abdu’l – Baha

Welcome to Virtue Wednesday. Today’s Virtue is Unity.

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When we talk about Unity, first thing that comes to mind is working together, living together, doing things together in harmony. Unity is pretty much about treating everyone as equal and never looking down on anyone for any reason.

This is what we teach our daughters and this is what we teach to our students. We talk about Unity of people, races, nationalities. We give examples of how it all works so much better when people unite their efforts and combine their ideas. And the best of all, it all works out better when everyone respects one another and thinks of others as a part of one whole.

So, how can we teach unity at home and in a classroom? Here are some ideas:

1. An example of the body: take a doll with removable body parts and ask the child to name all the visible body parts (arms, legs, head, toes, feet, hands etc). Now ask the child whether it is important to have eyes (talk about the nature of each body part – what is it for?). Then remove one arm and ask the child what happened now and how the doll will be feeling now. Going step by step, explain that the same is for all of us: we are like one body in our family. If we don’t listen to each other, if we fight we one another, it is like we lose an arm or a leg, or even eyes. We lose the ability to move better, to see better. Always emphasize the words “unity”, “united”, “together”.

2. We talk about the nature and how everything is connected in it: trees, flowers, animals, birds. For example, how we wouldn’t have such beautiful plants, vegetables and fruit if the bees weren’t pollinating them and the rain and the earth wouldn’t nourish them. And the earth wouldn’t be so good if the worms and insects weren’t living in it.

3. Make the Lantern of Unity. This is a very simple task for a child to do:

– Take a piece of any color paper, fold in half.

– Cut one strip.

– Now cut or tear the paper from the point where it is folded towards the edges,

leaving some space.

– Open the paper and fold it into a lantern.

– Glue the ends together.

– Glue the strip to make a handle.

– You can also prepare small pictures with faces of people from all over the world

and glue them on the lantern.

This activity is also great to teach about different races and countries. Instead of faces, they can be flags of different countries.

4. We learn and sing the Hawaii Unity Song. Here’s the version from Family Learning House.

Teaching Unity is not something we do once and forget about it. It is a part of our life and as our children grow, we guide them and explain them more about Unity, Unity in Diversity and all other wonderful Virtues that help them to grow into decent human beings.

***

How do you teach your children about Unity? Share with me – I’d love to know about it!

Little Artists
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