Giveaway: Uppercase Living

Okay, so I really loved this one.  With homeschooling, sports, 3 kids and writing for PotomacLocal.com on a completely unreliable basis, PWC Moms, keeping my house clean and not totally losing my sanity, I have had very little (no) time to do anything crafty.

Crafty things make me happy.

My Santa Countdown from Uppercase Living was just enough of a "project" to make me feel that little bit of joy you get from making something- but it was fast and already assembled so that there was no planning or mess! That made me feel like I was winning like Charlie Sheen.

Minus the drugs and girls, of course.  We keep it rated G in this house.

So, backing up, the very fabulous Amanda White, PWC Moms reader and Uppercase Living Independent Demonstrator, contacted me about "something seasonal".  I honestly had no clue what Uppercase Living was, but whatever, I love a giveaway! (Amanda was even kind enough to drop off the kit at my house! Bonus points for her!)

Anyhow, when you open the kit up, here's what you'll find:

At this point, I realized there was some assembly required, hence Amanda's email stating she'd be happy to answer any questions about how to use the giveaway item.  I'm blonde, people.  Sometimes it takes awhile for things to click.  As previously stated, the "failproof craft" aspect made me really excited!

Oooh! Directions! And a "credit card" to add to my daughter's collection when I'm done applying the letters to my Santa Countdown! Score!  (Note: I didn't really fully read the directions.  I skimmed them and was like, general idea, great, let's go!  This meant I didn't really notice that the diamonds should have lined up- which is really genius.  Be ye not so overzealous and yours will look even better than mine, and I think mine is adorable.  So there.)

So there are basically 2 steps to this process.  First, use the plastic card to firmly rub the vinyl lettering onto the sticky side of parchment that it comes between.  Peel.  Then, use the plastic card to firmly affix the letters to the item (in this case, a metal round).
Also, please note: if you're going to put pictures of yourself making one of these on the internet, be smarter than I was and use a little hand lotion first.  Also, don't wear your pink George Mason sweatshirt...

So, in summary:  This took about 10 minutes from skimming the directions to completion, it was really fun and I felt like I got to claim I made it, and it was really fun and easy!!

 Oooh look! A before and after!

The white board is magnetic and we're planning to use a magnet to mark the countdown day once December starts.

Fun, right?

Uppercase Living has a lot of other cute items, too! From chalk wall shapes that you can write and erase on to religious quotes, family wall decals and clocks, there are so many cute ideas for your home! We have a small area that we store our kids toys in, and it also has a craft table for them to create on.  I've been thinking about a wall decal in that space for awhile, and am pretty sure Amanda can look forward to me ordering this one....just as soon as I pick a color :)

Want to have your own mini-craft moment and win a Santa Claus Countdown for your home? (Or as a gift! It'd be a cute gift for a Santa-lover!) Head over to Amanda's facebook page and let her know your favorite product from her website!

Good luck, and thanks again to Decorate with Amanda for the great giveaway!!

Amanda White
Uppercase Living Independent Demonstrator


Helpful Hints on Play and Linguistic Development

Preschoolers, Learning to Read and the Importance of Play
Parents of preschoolers are constantly bombarded with advertisements promising to make their children “Little Einsteins” and master readers before they are five years old. These products and workbooks may have great educational intentions, but they can overshadow foundational skills for future academic success.  
A child who participates in activities that include descriptive and lively role playing is more likely to have greater reading comprehension skills, more imaginative writing and thinking skills and be more confident socially. 
Dr. Carol Westby, a speech language pathologist and researcher, has studied children’s play and play development for over forty years. She and other researchers have found that child’s play skills can provide insight into their current cognitive, speech and language abilities.  Children’s play skills are never above their cognitive functioning level.
The way a child manipulates toys and Interacts with other children using these toys can inform parents and teachers on whether or not that child may need a speech and language evaluation.
For example, Stage VI of the Westby Play Scale emerges typically around age 2 ½.  At this stage a child mostly engages in parallel play with emerging associative play. Children will act out less infrequent or traumatic events (like going to the doctor). If the child attends a regular preschool or daycare they may act out a teacher-student relationship. Children will switch roles quickly and frequently during play without alerting their play partner of the change.  A child at Stage VI may play doctor in one occurrence then turn around and play the mommy in the same setting several minutes later.
Speech and Language skills observed at Stage VI include the ability to ask wh- questions such as “Where is your mommy?” and “Why you not like it?” , knowledge and use of the vocabulary and syntax used in these play activities (including words such as “baby”, “milk”, “sleepy” and subject+ verb + object sentences like “Baby eat apple”). Often, a child’s responses may or may not be related to the initial question (The child who was asked the question may introduce another topic or comment on an unrelated event).
Cognitive skills displayed at Stage VI include the ability to understand that objects can be used symbolically (“pretend”), that they can act as a symbolic agent (“doctor”) and perform actions with objects that appear realistic (e.g., baby doll). Children at this stage also understand that their words can change the affect and behavior of their play partners. Many times they will “try out” words and phrases they’ve witnessed adults or older kids use (e.g., “No I not”) to see what reaction they receive from their communication partner.
A March 3, 2008 story by Alix Spiegel on NPR entitled “Creative Play Makes for Kids in Control” discussed how children’s play skills were crucial to the development of executive functioning skills and self-regulation.  Adele Diamond, an executive function researcher and professor of developmental cognitive neuroscience at the University of British Columbia commented on the importance of executive functioning and self-regulation and the increase of children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, “I think a lot of kids get diagnosed with ADHD now, not all but many just because they never learned how to exercise self-control, self-regulation…”. 
She went on to say that “When children learn to rely on themselves for playtime-improvising props, making up games and stories-they’re actually developing critical cognitive skills…”
She further commented on how imaginative play can be helpful to children at any age: ‘What you are looking for is a fun activity that requires sustained concentration, holding information in mind and using it (often complex information), and something that requires resisting what might be your first inclination”. 
Working Memory and Its Importance in Academic Success
Working memory, like play skills, involves the integration of language abilities and cognition. Working memory is an important part of a child’s success in school. What is working memory?  “the temporary storage and manipulation of information that is assumed to be necessary for a wide range of complex cognitive activities” (Baddeley,2003, Journal of Communication Disorders, 36 (3), 189-208.   
Speech language pathologists can teach children and their parents how to improve a child’s working memory. They can also suggest tools and work with teachers and parents to help decrease frustration with managing in school and in the community.  
Here are some ideas and strategies that parents and teachers can use:
  • Use a Visual Schedule: Using pictures to help a child keep up with the sequence of daily activities can not only improve their compliance with their schedule (they’ll begin to rely on the schedule to predict upcoming events) but also increase their ability to retain more information in their working memory.

  • Use a Scribd pen: This is a pen that records while a child takes notes during class.  This enables them to try and write down important words without missing other elements of the teacher’s lecture. 

  • Repeat Information: As a parent, when you are trying to retain new information (like a website that you want to reference later), say it out loud and say it many times out loud. This teaches your child that it is ok to use verbal and auditory feedback to memorize information.

  • Recall Simple Sequences: Try to remember a recent event and talk out each sequence with your child (e.g., “Remember yesterday when we went to the park? First we put on our jackets, then we put on our shoes and you climbed in the wagon”). 

  • Singing “In Your Head”: Play a game with your child where you sing a favorite preschool song and act out the finger plays without vocalizing. See if your child can perform this game with you and “sing” the song in their head at the same time.

Michelle Stewart-Tooson is the director and Lead Therapist with Pediatrics First Speech Therapy in Bristow Va. She can be reached at peds1st@gmail.com or www.pediatrics1st.com. 
  • Dr. Carol Westby, Language, Speech and Hearing Services in the Schools, XI, July 1980
  • Baddeley,2003, Journal of Communication Disorders, 36 (3), 189-208.