Time to put a plug in for a few other things on the Christmas list, especially for those who either aren’t crafty or don’t have a lot of time to craft. Many of our dedicated volunteers are busy making quilts, craft bags, dolls, stuffed animals, warm hats and scarves and clothing. Winter is long and cold on the Rez and it isn’t always easy to get outside to play, especially if you don’t have a coat and warm clothing to wear. We’re hoping that will change this year with all the coats and warm things that have been shipped to the Rez these past few weeks. Kids need to have something to do while cooped up indoors and we want to keep those young minds active and learning and of course having fun too.
Some Rez families have a TV, often purchased at a garage sale on their travels off the Rez, but reception in many areas is poor or nonexistent. If they can afford $35 for a DVD player, they can watch movies but sometimes the choices aren’t appropriate for younger kids. Most people need to save all the money they have to heat their homes and feed their families so a TV or DVD player is a luxury item usually found in homes where a family members(s) has been lucky enough to find a job. This is one of the reasons Jerome and Theresa sponsor movie nights for the kids when they can afford the $50 fee to rent the Kennedy Hall. There are no movie theaters on the Rez and even if there were people couldn’t afford the admission price. If you have any DVD’s or VHS movies you no longer need, please think of sending them to Jerome for movie night or for families that are lucky enough to own a TV and DVD player.
We all love to watch TV but we want to limit the amount of time kids spend in front of one as it is passive learning and we want kids learning actively. These days kids are exposed to too much violence, inappropriate sexual content and commercials on TV that contributes nothing to healthy mental development and simply gives children the wrong message. That’s why we’re asking for donations of books, puzzles, crafts, games and sports equipment so kids can pass their time in a more healthy, constructive way.
Many Rez kids are at least 2 years behind the national standard in part because they don’t have books. With school funding cuts across the nation items like books aren’t readily available in some schools and classrooms. For some Rez classes only the teacher has a book and copies of workbook activities have to be made or they make use of the blackboard. Recent studies from the American Academy of Pediatrics says kids should be reading at a very early age, not likely to happen without books. Kids who aren’t exposed to books don’t have the vocabulary of kids that are and most never catch up.
Books are great to have so kids can interact with their parents in a positive way. Remember the warm, cozy feeling you got after being read a favorite story by your parents before drifting off to sleep or how about reading that really good book with a flashlight under the covers after “lights out” was called? My grandkids love to be read to while eating a snack or if they’re tired and need some cuddling. Books expose kids to people, places, ideas, concepts, morals and things they would never see or hear about unless they read it in a book. Kids without books are at a real disadvantage when competing with kids that have them. This Pinterest site tells us What Books Teach Us. Books just for the story content are great, but also consider sending books on topics that interested you as a child or teenager. Kids love to look at books with maps, stars and planets, animals, sea creatures, insects, music/composers, and even how-to or DIY books and let’s not forget how much fun the I-spy books are. Make an I spy book for the younger child from your fabric scraps. Don’t forget about a felt interactive book for a toddler. They would love them. You can also find panels of material to make books, many times on sale.
For the younger set books that teach concepts like letters, words, numbers, and shapes are good and stuffed animals or puppets accompanying a story book makes an interactive gift, kids can retell the story in their own words. For older kids a pencil and tablet of paper can be attached to the book so they can write their own story, thoughts, etc. Sending books to WIC and the daycare center is a project we might want to help with in the future. Education is the key to getting them out of poverty.
Puzzles, like books, have great teaching attributes as well. Remember as kids working together on a jigsaw puzzle? Young kids love to master puzzles by doing it over and over again and many teach concepts needed to get them ready for kindergarten. Puzzles, like books, allow kids to see things they may never see in real life such as the solar system or a map of Africa, etc. Kids brains are programmed to learn so the more they’re exposed to new concepts, etc the more neural connections they make which continues to increase the more they expand their knowledge base. Consider making or buying a bag to keep all those puzzles pieces together and for easy transporting to school or grandma’s house.
Games are another “game changer”, they can be played alone or with friends and family members and can offer hours of entertainment. Video games seem to have replaced the old board games with a lot of kids, but most kids on the Rez don’t have them and they require batteries and/or electricity so not something we want to send. These articles show games have a lot to offer starting at a young age and as we get older. Many of the classic games we played as kids have stood the test of time and are still popular today; Scrabble, Monopoly, Clue, Life, Chutes and Ladders, Candy land, etc. for board games and the always popular bingo, checkers, tic-tac-toe, memory games, charades, etc. And dont’t forget about a pack of cards and a card game book. Tell us about your favorite game and where we can find it on sale. Pinterest has lots of games to make if you google games and Pinterest.
Any of the requested gifts can be sent but please consider sending a book, game or puzzle too. Not only do they help kids develop life skills but they also help promote family and other social relationships so important for survival in today’s world. If you’re crafty some of the games can be made like I-Spy, tic-tac-toe, checkers, charades, and memory games. Quilts are used for warmth but can also teach skills to kids by what’s on the front – a map, tic tac toe, numbers, colors, letters, checker pattern, etc.
Please send your items here after Thanksgiving day and by the end of the first week of December so the party planners on the Rez have time to get the gifts ready for the Christmas party on December 13, 2014.
A big thanks from SFK to all our generous volunteers for helping make this holiday season special for the Rez kids.