Sending hugs of gratitude

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By Beth Pinyerd

May 1 to 7 is “National Hug Holiday Week.” I know hugs are not socially acceptable right now, but for our children, hugs of reassurance and love are needed more than ever during this time in our history.
I am reminded of a favorite children’s song, “God Has the Whole world in His Hands,” which serves as a hug of absolute truth that children can plant in their hearts!
May 6 is “National Nurses Day”! This opens up many opportunities for us to send hugs of gratitude to our nurses who are trained to care for us when we are sick. They nurture us to heal and stay healthy.
Families can send notes and pictures of gratitude to nurses they know well as well as to local hospitals. At this time, nurses are spending long hours and much strength in serving patients with COVID-19. Pictures and notes from young hands are such an encouragement to healthcare professionals during this time of need.
Classroom centers are set up in early childhood classrooms. This can be done in a home setting as well.
In their play areas, children can pretend to be nurses with pretend thermometers, blood pressure cuffs, cotton balls, band-aids, etc. They can pretend and role-play to take care of dolls, stuffed animals or family members and learn how to express compassion.
We all may also have some anxiety about shots. This is a time your young child can pretend to reassure a patient who is being played by a fellow family member or even a doll or stuffed animal.
Toy plates, cups, eating utensils and napkins can be used by children to pretend that they are feeding a patient as well as stressing cleanliness. This can be a time you can show children how to properly wash their hands like nurses do.
Math concepts can be baught by counting and sorting different sizes of band-aids, counting popsicle sticks for tongue depressors, cotton balls or thermometers to take your child’s temperature and let them read it.
Just like nurses, children can count the number of times a family member breathes in and out as well as record a family member’s pulse. You will need to teach your children where to find and feel their pulse on their wrists or on their necks.
Your older children will be inspired by historical figures like Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton, nurses who took care of wounded soldiers during the Crimean and American Civil wars.
May 7 is the 69th National Day of Prayer. The theme comes from 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
How very appropriate this day is during the pandemic as we pray for our nurses, healthcare workers and those who are sick.
Children around the world are praying for everyone right now. I love to hear young children pray. They know they are talking to God and He hears their prayers.
During the years, I’ve listened to young children express prayer requests as well as pray is truly a reflection of young lives being fresh from heaven and they know that God is leaning in to hear their prayers. Point out things that your children can be thankful for as they pray as well as guiding them to express needs to God during prayer time.
Children can make and decorate prayer boxes or envelopes to put their written out or drawn prayer requests in. They can make, draw and decorate prayer mats simply out of paper, construction paper, glue, crayons, markers, stickers, etc.
The whole family can make paper prayer chains with prayer requests written on the different circles. One thing that young children love to do is to have a prayer corner in their bedrooms or in a room that their parents and them choose. This is explained as a place that they can pray.
Let your children decorate their prayer corners, they will love it! According to your child’s personality and how God guides them and asks them different ways they desire to pray.
Some may like to sing prayers, talk prayers, whisper prayers, write prayers and even shout prayers! The “Five Finger” prayer is a way to pray. With our thumb, we pray for family and friends, pointing finger for leaders and teachers, tall finger for government, ring finger for the weak and sick and our little finger is for our own needs.
This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day! This special day invites so many creative art and craft projects from the hands of young children for their mothers. Hand and feet art is something that mothers always cherish. It can simply be done with tracing, crayons, markers or just whatever supplies you have at home.
Mother’s Day bouquets can be done with thumbprints and handprints. They can simply draw flowers and bouquets on construction paper, plain paper or tagboard. To make a mom feel special on Mother’s Day, a child can write and draw love coupons for jobs they can help mother with around the house.
In celebrating May’s special occasions, it is not about what we have but what we do with what we have. Children love the simplicity and time that they can spend with their families. Families in our community are doing a wonderful job in teaching and working with their children at home during this time.
I hope this Classroom Observer article gives you some simple suggestions to celebrate these special days in May!

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