Monday, October 19, 2009

Flippin' for Books!

Mark your calendars for the
4th Annual Flippin' for Books Family Literacy & Wellness Fair!

This fun, all free event is Saturday, November 14th from 8:30-11:30am at the Winona Senior High Concourse.

Highlights include a free pancake breakfast from 8:30-10am, storytelling (local storytellers include Miss Winona, Jo & Les Hittner, Ms. Lezlea & more), puppets (the Wenonah Players will be performing interactive puppet shows), gym activities, resource booths with preschool/childcare info, parent/family resource info, & healthcare info; crafts & activities (the Build-a-Book station is back!).
Every child leaves with a new book to keep!

Sponsored by the Winona Early Childhood Initiative, Winona Public Library, Winona Area Public Schools, Winona YMCA, MN Marine Art Museum, and SEMCAC HeadStart.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Its That Time Again...

Time for Parent's Night Out! School is back in session, the kids are getting back into a routine, but when was the last time you thought about yourself? Well, Parent's Night Out helps you do just that! Whether you want a little time to yourself, want to hang out with your sweetie, or just need some extra time to get a few things done, this is for you! Drop the kids off for a night of fun, for all parties involved!

Who: Open to all kids from birth through 5th grade

What: For Parent's Night Out, of course!

Saturday, September 26 from 6-8:38p

Community Bible Church (69 E 3rd Street)

For more information call 507-454-3703

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Jinx Kid's Jitters- Some Last Minute Tips on Getting Ready for School

-Check out your school's website. If your child is attending Winona Public Schools, that website is:

-Visit your school before school starts.

-Set up a few playtimes at the school playground.

-Create a routine for your child at home to help get your child in the habit of following directions.

-Meet your child's teacher.

-Establish a "goodbye" routine with your child so they know what to expect when you leave them the first day!

-Read books about the first day of school.

-Take pictures of the classroom, teacher, playground, office, and the front of the building to review before school starts.

Happy Last Weekend of Summer!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Getting Ready for Kindergarten!

The first day of school is looming ever nearer. For some kids, this is routine, and this is not the first time they are going back to school. They are looking forward to a new year, seeing old friends and meeting their teachers, taking that first swipe at a fresh spiral notebook with a new NÂș 2. For the littlest, this is an entirely new experience. They have never been to school and there are so many things that are unknown.
I remember my first day of kindergarten... The school was so big, the faces new... I had no idea what to expect. How would I know for sure that the teachers wouldn't loose me? Would I remember my bus? Would my bus driver miss my stop or forget the way to my house? Would the other kids like me? It is funny, now as an adult, these things seem so silly, in fact, I have since visited my elementary school and it seems so small. But for the first-timers, the whole experience is scary.
I wanted to find out firsthand the ways we as parents can help our soon-to-be kindergartners prepare for school. I spoke with Maria Langowski who is the kindergarten teacher at Central Elementary School. She has been teaching for several years and had a lot of really great advice, not only about helping our 5 year olds feel secure in this new adventure, but ways we can help them be prepared academically.

-First off, its a really great idea to visit the school where your child will attend and meet their teacher. This helps little kids know not only WHERE they will attend school, but WHO will be filling the new role of educator/parent/friend when they are not with you. Then, talk about the experience. Where are the bathrooms? Who can you ask for help? Where's the lunchroom? What will the routine of the day look like?

-The next bit of advice she gave me was something I had never thought of. In the days leading up to school, announce the school schedule as you go through the day. Say, "Its 7:45! This is when your school day starts!" Or, "Do you know that at 10:30 you'll have gym class?" And finally, "Its 2:10, and I'll be waiting outside the front door of your school to pick you up."

-Drive the bus routes or walk the route to school several times.

-Ask the school secretary for a list of other children in your child's class. Set up a play date with another child so your kindergartner will see a familiar face on the first day of school.

-Our summer schedules are full of late nights and relaxed mornings, however, this isn't quite how the school year goes! If you haven't started going to bed earlier and getting back into a routine, do it now!

-Stress reading! Reading is such a vital part of school and is a basic academic building block. Maria suggests reading 15 minutes a day with your child and encouraging "pretend reading," where your child "reads" to you by making up stories from the pictures in the books. If you show that you are interested in reading, your child will see that it is important for him too.

-Work with them in name writing, if you haven't started already. Make sure only the first letter is capitalized!

-Think about life with math on the brain. I myself am not a fan of math, however, the most algebra illiterate such as myself will be able to count the number of blocks to the grocery store, the amount of trees in the front yard, or how many steps it takes to get from the Target entrance to the toy section!

-Children will need to become more independent over the first year of school so make sure they have good bathroom habits, can tie shoes, and zip zippers on their backpacks. Have them help out with setting the table, cooking dinner or making cookies, (Come to think of it, you just might use math in this situation too...) or help dad with yard work. All of this will promote independence and and sense of ownership.

-And last but not least, reassure kids that they will have fun! We have tried to stress this to our about-to-be kindergartner, but it didn't really sink in until his uncle told him that he had a BLAST in kindergarten. And that's all he's been talking about since!

If you need more tips, don't hesitate to talk to your child's teacher, or ask the school secretary if you can borrow a copy of their school-readiness video. It was produced by our very own school system, so there will be familiar faces and places on the video.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

creekside community playground

Last week I had the privilege to check out the new Creekside Community Playground in Rushford. Now, I understand that this blog is about things to do in our beloved WINONA, but hear me out, Rushford really isn't that far away from Winona. And I know your kids are going bonkers. Its almost the end of summer.
School supplies: purchased.
School shoes: waiting by the front door.
Aquatic Center: getting a little tired.
First day of school: can't come quick enough.

When a friend of mine suggested we take the kids to Creekside Community Playground in Rushford for a picnic, I was excited to get out of town, but wondering what the fuss was all about. I was pleasantly surprised. Apart from the fact that the weather could not have been more perfect the day we decided to go, the drive is short and gorgeous, and this park is brand new. And best of all, there is not ONE OUNCE of the dreaded pea gravel that plagues many parks in Winona. That is reason enough for me to travel to Seattle to play.
This park is not only brand new, but was built by the community of Rushford after their small town literally became an attraction akin to those at the Shedd Aquarium. The word on the street is that the children of Rushford helped to redesign it. And they did a pretty good job. There are lots and lots of play structures to play on, all quite safe, and many shady or sunny places to sit and watch the kids play. There are lots of different places to have a picnic; tables galore.
After us moms had talked ourselves out, and the kids had played till their heart's content, we scooted over to the Creamery for scoops of delicious ice cream. The Creamery might not be as schnazzy as a Coldstone, but the ice cream was yummy, the service was super, and the price was just right. (You can also get pizza there, but we opted for a picnic in the park.)
For a fun "summer's almost over" outing, head over to Rushford and check out their Park. You won't be dissapointed!

To get there, hop on 90 and take the Rushford exit. After a short drive, the park is about the first thing you'll see on the left. (How's that for some small town directions?)


This site is for you if you're a parent, grandparent, professional, or community member who wants to support Winona's youngest citizens--kids ages 0-5.