Monthly Archives: December 2011

5 Activities to Improve Your Child’s Executive Functioning Skills

Even if you have a toddler, it is possible to help them improve their executive functioning skills. These are skills that are necessary for learning and success in life. There are several different models regarding executive functioning. Tom Brown, Ph.D is a leading ADHD researcher at the forefront of understanding how executive functions or lack thereof impacts quality of life for children.

My brief internet scouring revealed Brown’s break down as the most popular traits associated with  executive functioning. A mixture of Brown’s clusters can be found in various other models. He divides executive functions into six different “clusters.”

  1. Organizing, prioritizing and activating for tasks
  2. Focusing, sustaining and shifting attention to task
  3. Regulating alertness, sustaining effort and processing speed
  4. Managing frustration and modulating emotions
  5. Utilizing working memory and accessing recall
  6. Monitoring and self-regulating action

Even as adults emotions can be overwhelming. Self-regulation can challenge us. Staying focus can…What was I saying again?

Oh…here are five activities to enhance executive functioning abilities in toddlers

1. Walking the line – Helps with focusing and attention. I used blue painter’s tape on the carpet to create a walkable design for A.J.

2. Family matching game – Utilizes memory and recall. I printed two photos of each  of our immediate family, laminated the photos, then added stars on the back of each matched pair so that A.J. would be able to find matches more easily. This game also helps with color recognition. The stars can be removed to increase difficulty.
3. Praying – I sometimes pray much longer than necessary in order to help A.J. develop patience. The food sits in front of him,but he has to wait until I’m finished with my very longwinded prayer before he can touch his food.
4. Calming Mind Glitter Jar – I learned about this idea on Pinterest. I believe the original blogger can be found at Still Life with Circles. Although I made this for A.J., I haven’t really used it yet. It is supposed to give him something to focus on that will help calm him down when he is frustrated. Shake the jar and watch the glitter settle. By the time it settles to the bottom, which is about 3 minutes, he should be a bit calmer. At his current stage however, he usually wants to nurse, wants my full attention, or is hungry. When I address his needs, he calms down. I do think the jar is a good idea for the near future. It’s made from a spagetti jar. I added water, blue glitter glue and purple glitter, I didn’t have blue glitter, but it still turned out beautifully.

Calming Mind Glitter Jar

5. Dance Freeze – A.J. likes to dance and to drum. Sometimes we play a game that I call Dance/Freeze. We dance, then when I say freeze, we have to stop until I say unfreeze. This helps A.J. to gain control over his body and slowly develops his ability to control himself. So far it works better with the dancing than it does with the drumming.
These five activities are fun ways to help improve A.J.’s executive functioning skills. Please share any other fun activities that you come across that you think should be added to this list.
Pray, Persist & Prosper!

A.J.’s First College Graduation Ceremony

A.J. and I sat in the front row during the graduation ceremony at my husband’s university. He teaches in the Department of Mass Communications and participated in Fall graduation. A.J. was so excited to see his dad walk down the aisle that he nearly jumped off of my lap when he saw him.

It was a cold fall day and A.J. had just waken up from a cozy nap. I hope the pomp and circumstance of graduation is imprinted into his memory.

Pray, Persist & Prosper!


Practicing Transferring Skills & Puzzles

In the spirit of the Holiday Season I bought A.J. a small selection of Christmas ornaments in the form of presents and small drums, I also included colorful pom poms for sensory awareness and for practicing transferring skills. I introduce a child sized ladle, but he was not quite ready for that so instead he transferred the items with his hands.

Yesterday was special because A.J. turned 16 months-old. Sadly, also on this day my 95 year-old grandmother made her transition. She had a peaceful journey and was surrounded by loving family members. My mother commissioned me to create a photo book about my grandmother’s life. It should arrive in the mail today. Although she didn’t have a chance to see it here, I’m sure she sees it now. Hopefully it turns out as wonderfully as it looked online.

I was pregnant with A.J. at my book signing. My husband, parents and sister and I are pictured with my Grandmother, Luvennia (MaDea) Robertson

After A.j. completed the puzzle, he applauded himself. LOL!

What activities are engaging to your little one?

Stay tuned for next post: The Start of Imaginative Play

Pray, Persist & Prosper!

20 Healthy Snack Ideas for Toddlers & Kids

The Special K is a new item and we've decided not to buy it again.

Earlier this week I spoke with my good friend Nikeia who suggested I post about healthy snacks options for kids. I’ve divided the list because older kids can eat the toddler snacks but the other snacks may not be appropriate for toddlers.

Here is a list of the main snack items that A.J. eats. We try our best to purchase organic when possible. I understand most parents will provide fresh fruits and veggies, but this list contains a minimum of those items in order to include a variety of other snack items. I’ve included links to our favorite brands where possible.

My DH loves to experiment so I’m sure we will expand A.J.’s list of favorites as time goes on.


  1. Seaweed chips
  2. Spinach and Artichoke Hummus with Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Totillas
  3. Baba Ghannouj (egg plant blended to consistency of hummus)
  4. Crackers (We try to buy organic wheat with the fewest ingredients. We are out, so don’t have the picture of brand at this time.)
  5. Bunny Honey Grahams
  6. Grapes (diced)
  7. So Delicious Plain Coconut yogurt blended with (blueberries or strawberries)
  8. Green Smoothie (5 cups fresh baby spinach, 2 bananas, 5 ice cubes, 8oz water, 7oz hemp milk, one scoop Vega) We all drink this every morning.
  9. Homemade applesauce
  10. Small portions of peanut butter & jelly on bread


  1. Wonderful Pistachios with dried cranberries (I’m eating some now as I write this post…yummm!
  2. Tostitos (Roasted Garlic & Black Bean) with guacamole
  3. Non-dairy/preferably non-soy yogurt (we prefer So Delicious coconut yogurt) with a variety of nuts, sprinkled with raisins.
  4. Freeze fruit and blend with your favorite non-dairy/non-soy milk (again, we prefer So Delicious coconut milk, hemp milk, or rice milk) for a smoothie
  5. Banana with peanut butter
  6. Granola bars
  7. Baked sweet potato fries or chips
  8. Whole grain waffle with vegan cream cheese and jelly
  9. Strawberry Grahams (Graham crackers with soft vegan cream cheese with fresh strawberries or jam.
  10. Warm soup with crackers before a meal

We try to give A.J. this supplement drink instead of juice. On the occasions that we have given him juice, we watered it down.

Vega can be pricey but it is delicious and nutritious

Here are a few other internet resources to add to your snack and lunch arsenal.

What are some of your favorite snack ideas?

Stay tuned for the next post: Practicing Transferring Skills for the Toddler

Pray, Persist & Prosper!

A Fantastic Homemade Carpet Stain Removal Remedy

Do you have an embarrassing stain on your carpet that you can’t get rid of so you cover it with a rug to hide it instead? That was me a few days ago. I have since removed that rug and renewed our carpet.

I came across this remedy at Lizzy Writes and simply had to try it. I’m sorry that I don’t have before and after pictures, but please believe me when I say this formula works! Here are the directions.

1. Remove the liquid form the carpet (If this is an old stain, then there will be nothing to scrape up.)

2. Sprinkle baking soda or cornstarch on stain and let it absorb for 10 minutes and then vacuum. (I used baking soda)

3. Mix one tablespoon of clear dishwashing liquid and one tablespoon white vinegar with two cups of warm water. (I used Palmolive pure+clear brand)

4. Using a white cloth , sponge the stain with the detergent/vinegar solution and blot until all the liquid is absorbed. (For the larger stain, I used most of the liquid for smaller stains this was a bit much, so I adjusted all of the portions and dabbed. It worked just fine.)

5. Sponge off with cold water and blot dry.

6. Once it’s dry, vacuum again so the carpet fibers can blend with the other areas of the carpet. (I added this step.)

This totally worked for me and I hope it works for you. If any of you try this, comment on the results.

Stay tuned for the next post: Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids (Thanks Nikeia for the idea!)

Pray, Persist, & Prosper!

Circle Time Surprise

A.J. and I have Circle Time everyday. During our Circle Time we review the calendar by singing songs and focusing on the day’s date. Yesterday, when I pointed out December 7th as the date, A.J. went to his numbers puzzle and grabbed the number 7. I was shocked that he made this connection and even chose the right number.

When I asked him to bring mommy other specific numbers, he brought me random numbers instead. Nevertheless, it still was a pleasant surprise that he made the connection between the numbers on his puzzle and the numbers he sees  on his calendar.  He did however pick-up the zero puzzle piece and began pointing to the different zeros on the calendar. WOW!

A.J. is holding the number 7 in his right hand.

After meals, A.J. wipes off his table and chair. This is a practical life activity that I encourage on a daily basis. He is making good progress.

For the first time this month, A.J. was ready to finger paint again. In the past I would help him by demonstrating what to do, so the art was done more so by me. This time I let him do it all by himself. I provided him with a paint brush that he also chose to use.

I wrote the date on his paper and took a picture. I plan to date and take pictures of all of his creations so that stacks of paper won’t pile up. I do plan to keep some to display, but I will produce a book containing his art work so that he can see his progress.

Check out his pincer grasp. His Grand da-da taught him that!

The Finished Masterpiece

What art activities does your little one enjoy?

Stay Tuned for tomorrow’s post: A Fantastic Homemade Carpet Stain Removal Remedy

Pray, Persist & Prosper!

Toddler Activity: Sponge Ball for Water Play

I’m always looking for simple, DYI tot toys. Sponge balls are easy peasy to make and fun for water play for kids. It is a hit at bath time with A.J. Here is a tutorial of how to make it from Brittany over at One Charming Party.

What simple DIY toys have you made that’s been a hit with your little one(s)?

Pray, Persist & Prosper!

Fun Toddler Activity: Practicing In & Out

One of the aims of play for children in early childhood is to help develop their ability to focus on a task and to improve their dexterity. Montessori guides are replete with activities geared toward this purpose. I was reminded of this by Jessica over at Our Montessori Home. She started 12 Montessori Days of Christmas to share ideas to incorporate some “schooling” throughout the holidays.

I created this simple, “in & out” activity for A.J. I used a tin can and covered it with scrapbook paper, cut a hole in the lid, and cut up some straws. After a brief demonstration (A.J. cut me short), he eagerly took over and I moved out of his way. A.J. stayed focused so long that I had time to snap some photos of him playing and clean the kitchen, too. Booo Yah!

The best part is that he began to think of other things to put inside the can. He shook the can and at one point even turned it into a drum. I enjoyed watching his little mind work.

He figured out the best way for him to remove the lid.

What fun toddler activities can you share?

Pray, Persist and Prosper!

Practicing Grace and Courtesy

One thing I know for sure is that A.J. enjoys being around other little people. No matter where he goes, he gravitates to them and they to him. We met a little boy at the park, which made A.J.’s day.

I encouraged A.J. to introduce himself to the boy and he began to shake his own hand instead of the boy’s hand. When he finally shakes someone else’s hand, other than mine, that will be a milestone moment.

A.J. motioning Max to look up at the airplane.

"Mama, do you see the airplane?"

Pray, Persist and Prosper!

Official Blog Launch Celebration Today!

Welcome and thank you for visiting Beacon Villages! I appreciate you stopping by. Feel free to browse around and if you like what you see so far, be sure to sign-up for e-mail notifications of new posts on this site.

I plan to include lots of delicious recipes, play and craft projects for you and your little one, Montessori inspired educational activities, solutions for the home, musings and more.

By the way, let me know when you stop by every now and then by posting a comment or by e-mailing me!

Happy Reading!

Pray, Persist and Prosper!