Ideas to Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude in Your Children

At KCCC we strive to implement gratitude into our everyday routines. An attitude of gratitude is a positive way of looking at life.  Gratitude can increase our children’s happiness, teach them to be more empathetic and help them to be more thankful for everything they have. Below are some ways and ideas to help teach your child the concept of gratitude on a daily basis.

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Say please and thank you

Our manners show that we do not believe we are entitled to anything, and that in fact, we appreciate whatever comes our way.

Help someone less fortunate

This could be your neighbor down the street, grandma, or someone you know who is in a tough spot.


Help out at a homeless shelter, soup kitchen or non-profit.

Send out thank you cards

Express your gratitude for those who have added value to your life.

Look for awe-inspiring moments in your day

If the sunset is particularly beautiful, comment on it. If the sound of the baby’s laughter warms your heart, tell your children. Encourage them to look for their awe-inspiring moments and share them with you.

Share your gratitude at bedtime

Take five minutes at the end of the day to ask your child what he is thankful for that day.

Share your gratitude at the dinner table

Take a moment at dinner time to share what you are thankful for. Go around the table, allowing each family member a chance to vocalize their gratitude.

Compliment others

Encourage your children to do the same. Share the things you appreciate about another person.

Keep a gratitude journal

This can be in any form that works best for your child’s age, skill level and desire. Some kids will want to spend time writing their thoughts down. Others may be more apt to express their gratitude through drawing or painting.

Write a letter

Encourage your child to write a letter to someone who has touched his life in some way. If he is comfortable, make a visit to that person to read the letter out loud. If not, mail it.

Create a family gratitude list

Post it on the fridge. Add to it when necessary.

Create a family gratitude journal

Leave it somewhere where everyone can access it and encourage your family to write in it whenever they are feeling grateful.

Give someone a gift

Help your child earn the money and purchase the gift. Or make a gift together.

Always look for the positive

Find something positive in frustrating situations and discuss it.

Practice turning complaints in to praises

Coach your children to reword their complaint in to something that they appreciate instead.

Create a gratitude jar

Encourage your kids to add to it anytime they are feeling grateful for something or someone.

Donate to a nonprofit

Nonprofits serve people in need and at this time of the year they are always looking for basic necessities, meals and gifts to give to those in need.

Take gratitude walks

While you walk, look for the simple pleasures in the day, such as the warm sun or the birds singing and express appreciation for them. Use this time to ask your kids what they are grateful for.

Ask why

As your child gets better at expressing gratitude, dig deeper. Ask why he is grateful for something and how it affects his day.

Work through envy

Help your child work through any feelings of jealousy she may have. Envy can come when we are not feeling thankful for what we have, and are focusing instead on what others have.

Click the button below for a 7-day gratitude challenge

The Importance of Family Mealtime

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Here at KCCC we believe that family mealtime is an important part of each day. Jobs, children, after-school activities all contribute to families having to eat on the run. But, making time to sit down and eat together as a family is important and is sometimes the only time when all family members are in one place together.

According to when a family sits down together, it helps them handle the stresses of daily life and the hassles of day-to-day existence. Eating together tends to promote more sensible eating habits, which in turn helps family members manage their weight more easily.


The purpose of a family dinner may differ from family to family. In one family, good table manners might be the most important thing parents want to teach; in another, it might be communicating with one another, learning how to listen, and learning to respect each other.

Children need to learn a little bit at a time, experts say. If dinnertime is an interesting time of day for your child, he is going to learn how to sit, and say, “How was your day?” and “What was the best thing that happened to you today?”


Dinnertime is a time of respite from the hustle-bustle of everyday life. Your family can review the day that’s passed and plan for the day that’s coming.

Teach by example

Divide tasks, so Mom alone is not responsible for preparing food, serving, and washing dishes. The chores and joys of feeding, nurturing and cleaning up should be shared.

Don’t discuss things that would embarrass or humiliate family members. Certain subjects children may want to discuss might require more compassion, or more individualized listening. Otherwise, there are no taboo topics.

Build self-esteem

Dinner is a perfect opportunity to build self-esteem in children. By listening to what children have to say, you are saying, “I value what you do; I respect who you are and what you’re doing; what you do is important to me.”

Mealtime can be looked at as an opportunity or as a chore. If it’s viewed as an opportunity, then all sorts of possibilities are created; if it’s viewed as a chore, then the possibilities don’t exist. And it doesn’t matter if the food is filet mignon, or pizza and salad.


Parents should let children choose their own seats. If they fight over a favorite seat, help settle the dispute peacefully.

Family dynamics

One parent may feed the kids early, with the intention of protecting the other parent from a raucous meal. But this actually can isolate the absent parent from family dynamics and create distance. Certain scheduling conflicts cannot be avoided, but carving out family meal time on a regular basis can enhance family dynamics. 

The Benefits of Sensory Dough

At KCCC we use a variety of sensory manipulatives to encourage our students development. The children love to help make playdough, slime, colored rice and moon sand. Below are the benefits of using sensory dough in the classroom.

Enhances fine motor skill

When your child squishes, rolls, flattens, shapes, scores or cuts play dough, he develops and strengthen his hand muscles. The strengthened hand muscles helps improve fine motor skills of your child

Improves pre-writing skills

When children play with play dough, their pincer grip (the squeezing of pointer finger and thumb to grasp an object) improves. An  improved pincer grip enhances your child’s pre-writing skills

Creativity and imagination

Play-dough provides your child with unlimited possibilities of molding the dough into food, animals, decorations, flowers etc. It encourages your child to use their imagination and inspires creativity. If your child uses various shapes, rolling pins and other tools while playing with play dough it further improves their creative imagination.

Calming effect

Is your child often restless and finds it difficult to express his emotions? Give them some play dough to play. Sitting at one place and squishing and squashing of play dough will have a very calming and soothing effect on them. It will also provide them with a great option to express their emotions.

Develops hand – eye coordination

Use of variety of shapes and rolling pins while playing with play-dough will improve your child’s hand-eye-coordination

Social skills

When your child plays with play-dough along with other students or you they will interact, talk, discuss problems and find solutions to creating great works of art and craft with play dough. Thus, playing with play dough will enhance your child’s social skills

Increases curiosity and knowledge

When your child mixes 2 different color dough together and discover a new color or when they learn to mold play dough in different shapes, it encourages their curiosity and they will ask various questions which helps increase their knowledge and helps overall development. So the next time your child requests you to play with play dough, not only encourage them, participate in their play along with them.

KCCC’s DIY Recipes



1C Flour

1C Water

2tsp Cream of Tartar

1/3 C Salt

1T Vegetable Oil

Food Coloring


Combine all the ingredients in a 2qt saucepan. Stir and mix over medium heat. Keep stirring until it starts getting a little solid and doesn’t stick to sides of the pan. It will look very sticky and gooey. Take it out of the pan and knead it on the counter. Do this until it’s the right consistency for you.

Moon Sand

8 Cups of flour

1 Cup of baby oil

Mix in a large bowl until the correct consistency. Really soft and easy to clean up!


Pour 1C glue into a bowl

Add 1 T Baking Soda

Add 3 drops of food coloring

Mix well

Add 1 T of contact lens solution

Mix well

Continue to add contact lens solution and mix until your get desired consistency.

Halloween Safety

Halloween Safety Tips

We want everyone in our community to have a safe and fun Halloween. Please remind children of the importance of being safe while out trick-or-treating. Here are some important safety tips:

  • Make sure children are accompanied by an adult or responsible teenager when they go door-to-door. Please do NOT let them go alone!
  • Instruct children to never eat anything until they are home and the treats have been examined. Do not allow children to eat any homemade goodies.
  • Check the treat wrappers for signs of tampering.
  • Throw out suspicious treats.
  • Make sure children’s costumes fit, the costumes are short enough to prevent tripping and that children can see well. Remember, using face paint makes it easier to see than wearing a mask.
  • Tell your children to trick-or-treat in their own neighborhood and to stay on well-lighted streets.
  • Teach your children not to go inside or in the back or side yard of any home.
  • If children are going to be out after dark make sure they carry a flashlight. Reflective clothing or tape is a good idea.
  • Know which friends your child will be with and which route they will be taking.
  • Leave your porch light on, so children will know its okay to visit your home.
  • Teach your children to use the sidewalks and to watch out for traffic.
  • Keep costumed children away from pets. The pet may not recognize the child and become frightened.

Be safe and have fun!

Local Museum Adventures

Don’t forget to visit your local library to check out passes!

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Please click the buttons below to be directed to each museum website.

Get up close and personal with an A-7E corsair II Navy Attack Bomber, combat veteran from Dessert Storm that flew from the deck of the USS John F. Kennedy. Be the pilot of a Huey helicopter of Viet Nam fame.

Interactive children-friendly museum educating and exposing all children to the contributions and culture of African-Americans.

The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by engaging people and communities with wildlife and nature. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards.

In addition to vast formal gardens and picnic and camping grounds, Cantigny offers two history-rich museums: the Robert R. McCormick Museum and the Cantigny First Division Museum, fascinating for children and researchers alike.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is a 385-acre living plant museum situated on nine islands featuring 27 display gardens and surrounded by four natural areas

The only Natural History museum in the Fox Valley area, dating back to 1907. Elgin Public Museum offers exhibits and educational programs with natural history and cultural themes for families, school groups, scouts, clubs, organizations, homeschoolers, and anyone who wants to have fun while learning.

America’s largest railway museum, featuring many piece of historic railway equipment on display, and regular operation on out demonstration railroad. Take a ride on one of our many restored trains and experience a museum in motion.

Fun of the big city museum, close to home. Permanent and temporary exhibits including an 11-foot Mastodon and the world’s largest collections of picture postcards. Enjoy fossils, art and interactive activities with the family.

Step inside and you’ll feel as though you’ve just jumped in to the world’s biggest box of LEGO bricks! With over 3 million LEGO bricks under one roof, what will you discover?

The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian is one of only a handful of museums across the country that focuses exclusively on the art, history, and culture of Native American and First Nation peoples from throughout the United States and Canada.  It promotes public understanding of cultural diversity through first voice perspectives.

Naper Settlement is a family-friendly outdoor history museum featuring 13 acres of learning and interactive opportunities for all ages. Located in downtown Naperville. Visitors are immersed in history as they learn about the past and how it relates to the present, from pioneer times to today. Highlights include special events and programs and activities year-round, both on- and off-site.

The Oriental Institute Museum makes accessible to the public many of the highlights of our large collection of artifacts from the ancient Middle East (10,000 BC – AD 650), including objects from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Syro-Anatolia, Israel, Iran, and Nubia. Many of the objects on display were excavated by University of Chicago archaeologists.

Pleasant Home, also known as the John Farson House, is a historic home located in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Illinois, United States. The large, Prairie style mansion was designed by architect George Washington Maher and completed in 1897. Pleasant home is the only Maher building open to the public as a museum.

The St. Charles History Museum is a non-profit organization. The museum holds more than 10,000 photographs in its archive and 15,000 artifacts in its collection. The St. Charles History Museum houses permanent and temporary exhibits, the Colonial Anderson Room, photo and research archives, the Curious Fox Gift Shop, administrative offices, and the storage-preservation repository for the Museum’s collections.

The Children’s Museum in Oak Lawn is a place for families to learn, explore and soar together. It’s a place for children to be creative, role play and build.  It’s a place for parents to be the teacher in their child’s life.  It’s a place for discovery, learning and fun!

The Museum provides award-winning exhibitions and programs to 70,000 students annually and trains and provides resources for more than 2,000 Chicago teachers. The Nature Museum is one of the city’s best examples of eco-friendly building technology, including a green roof, solar panels, natural light sources and native landscaping. The Academy and its Museum are engaged in important conservation and research work, such as its Butterfly Restoration Project.

Explore, create, build, discover, wonder, think, play, and more! Every visit is an adventure in fun and learning. DuPage Children’s Museum ignites the potential of all children to learn through hands-on exploration.

Come and explore over 200 interactive STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) exhibits which inspire education and imagination. Every exhibit is a mini-experiment with information about what to DO at the station and the scientific explanation for what is happening. Bring the entire family! Young and old minds alike will discover science in the world around them. 

Wonder Works is 6,400 square feet of fun, a place of creative play for kids birth to age eight. Located in Oak Park, Illinois at 6445 West North Avenue, the children’s museum helps kids, their parents and caregivers unleash their imaginations through artperformancedesignbuilding and more.

Early Childhood Library Visits

How libraries can promote the 6 pre-reading skills through storytime

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Print Motivations – Thinking that books and reading are fun

  • Make storytimes fun by being creative and enthusiastic
  • Vary programs using a variety of activities and story formats
  • Invite guests with special interests or skills
  • Create interactive storytimes where children can take part

Vocabulary – knowing the names of things

  • Talk, talk, talk and listen twice as much
  • Help children know that they and their opinions are valued
  • Ask questions, encourage discussion
  • Introduce new words and concepts , use descriptive language
  • Challenge children with both fiction and non-fiction

Print Awareness – recognizing print and understanding how books work

  • Use big books and point to words as the story is read to show left to right
  • Explain the format of a book – cover, title, author, illustrator, dedications page
  • Provide parents with handouts and the skills to practice at home
  • Label everything and then point out words in the library

Letter Knowledge – understanding that each letter has its own name and sound

  • Supply alphabet letters, games, books and songs
  • Have posters and writing tools so children can visualize letters and begin to make them
  • Encourage children to print their own names on nametags

Narrative Skills – being able to tell stories and describe things

  • Provide puppets, costumes, toys or flannel boards so children can create their own stories or act out stories shared during storytime
  • Encourage children to tell you what they think the story will be about or ask for a review of what happened in the story

Phonological Awareness – being able to recognize and play with smaller sounds that make up words

  • Play with words, rhymes, songs, poetry
  • Read boos that have rhythms and rhyming words
  • Clap syllables in words and songs
  • Emphasize particular letters or sounds in stories or activities

Music in the Classroom

At Kaneville Community Child Center (KCCC) we feel that incorporating music into our curriculum is so important. The students participate in a 30 minute music class every other week. We teach music basics such as rhythm, tempo, pitch, dynamics and patterns. We enforce these sounds using clapping, egg shakers and rhythm sticks. Our parents love to watch the students perform in our Christmas and Spring programs.

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Music is so important to child development because it helps the body and mind work together. Exposing children to music during early development helps them learn the sounds and meanings of words. Using repetition also helps children’s brains create neural connections to form and stabilize.

Dancing to music helps children build motor skills while allowing students to practice self expression. At KCCC we love to have simple dance parties to get the students moving and to burn off that extra energy. Music allows children to develop social skills while building confidence and creativity. Music instruction also promotes group learning and allows children to practice social skills such as taking turns and cooperation.

Listening to music helps to strengthen memory skills. It stimulates the part of your brain that is responsible for reading, math and emotional development. It can also help to calm a child or relieve stress.

The link below explains the role of music in early childhood, including its importance and role in developing the musical abilities and enjoyment of infants and children, the vocal range, activities, and repertoires appropriate for young children.

We encourage parents to incorporate music into your child’s everyday life. Some simple ways you can achieve this is by listening to age appropriate music at home or in the car. Sing songs before bed or a “Good morning” song when they wake up. Demonstrate how to use simple instruments or make a music craft like a rain tube or maraca.

Manners Matter


We all want to raise well-mannered children, but how and when do you start? Parents are the best role models for teaching children manners, no matter how young they are, children are always learning by imitation. Parents and caregivers must model the behavior they want to see in children because the children are always watching. Here are some guidelines for what to teach when:

Babies – (0-1 years)

Babies will often grab at faces or clothing when they don’t have speech yet to get their caregiver’s attention when they want something. Teach your baby not to grab at someone’s face, hair, or clothing by gently taking their hand and showing them how to touch softly or stroke a pet’s back. As they get older, gentleness will translate into politeness. Notice the tone of your voice when speaking to your baby. Use a soft, friendly tone and use “please and thank you” often in your everyday conversations. Your baby will imitate this as she learns to speak.

Toddlers – (2-3 years)

As toddlers begin to use and understand more language, they are moving around more as well. During this stage, caregivers must realize that manners don’t come naturally, they must be taught. Manners won’t be learned overnight, it will take a long time, so be patient and practice, practice, practice ! Toddlers are just beginning to learn how to act socially around others, and parents need to be observant and “hands on” at this time. Concentrate on these areas: Sharing – teach them how to share and discourage snatching toys from others. Politeness – don’t allow aggressive behavior such as pushing, shoving, or hitting. Practice saying “please, thank you, and excuse me” often, but expect to say it a lot before they really get it. Cleanliness – even if they don’t want to clean up, encourage them to help (both at home and in preschool situations). A new activity should not be started until the first one is cleaned up. Patience – introduce the concept of “waiting” in situations where they have to take turns, or when Mom is on the phone or speaking to another adult in person, or when they have to wait for a meal or snack to be served.

Pre-K and Elementary School – (4-9 years)

As children reach this stage they are about to embark on their first try at social interactions, (if they haven’t already). Concentrate on teaching them the social skills they will need to get along with others: Greetings – introducing themselves to peers and adults with direct eye contact and a firm hand shake will boost their confidence and help them connect with others. Cooperating – whether following classroom directions or choosing teams on the playground, teach your child that most tasks require cooperation. Consideration of others– your child needs to understand that we all have feelings and our own points of view, teach him to be considerate in his interactions with others. Table manners – model at home what you expect of your child in public, such as staying seated during the meal and not talking with a mouthful of food. Thank you notes – by this age children can begin to send handmade thank you notes for all gift giving occasions like birthdays and holidays. Saying “please and thank you” in all social situations should come easily, without frequent reminders, as a child matures.

Eliminating Power Struggles

How to ELIMINATE power struggles!

Children learn early on how to manipulate others to get what they want. They may not be able to reason it out logically or cognitively, but they seem to learn quickly that certain behaviors will get certain results.

Because parents naturally have the power in the relationship, when that balance is challenged it becomes a “struggle” for power. Our children want it, and as parents, we want to retain it. The thing is, power struggles are not a childhood behavior problem, power struggles are a relational cycle.

3 Steps to Establish Healthy Cycles of Power

1. Before the Struggle begins:

Teach During the Good Times: Read books together, role play, or reenact an actual past incident when you are not in the middle of resistance or a conflict. Try to problem solve together with non-threatening language like, “I’ve noticed we’ve had some issues with what you’d like to wear to school, what are some things you think we could do to make that go smoother?”

Don’t Engage / Set Personal Boundaries: We can prevent most power struggles just by being aware of our urges to control everything in our children’s lives and when they pop up, just don’t engage. If your daughter wants to wear fairy wings to school on “picture day” and you think it’s ridiculous, that’s OK. You don’t have to constantly bark orders or meet her every request with, “No you can’t!” Pick your boundaries! Boundaries are simple statements of what you will and will not do, or what you will allow them to do to you. Consider saying, “I’m sorry, I’m not willing to argue about this. I love you.” Be firm and state it only once. It takes the wind right out of their sails when there’s no one to argue with.

Choices: Whenever possible offer you children “either / or” choices so they feel like they are sharing the power. “Would you like to wear your red shirt today or your blue one?” Both choices should be options that you are completely happy with.

2. During the Conflict (When Your Child Challenges Boundaries or Behaviors)

Respond Firmly but with Empathy & Respect: It’s always a good idea to respond with respect & kindness. Even when your child continues to challenge something you have set a firm boundary on, you can be sympathetic to their desires or point of view and still stand firm. For instance:

Child: “But Mom, I’ll be back from Joanie’s before dinner. Why can’t I just go?”

Parent: “I know you really want to go. You and Joanie always have so much fun together. But, I’m sorry, that’s not going to happen tonight. Let’s call Joanie’s Mom later and see if we can work something out for Friday night.”

Child: “But Mooooom!!”

Parent: “I Love you!”

Redirect: The “But Moooom!!” could turn into endless whining or a list of all the reasons why you should relent and give in. This is a great time to distract your child with, “How would you like to help me make dinner, or go play Legos?” You might even offer to join him in an alternate activity.

3.After the Struggle for Power Has Calmed Down:

Reengage in Positive Ways: In the aftermath of a power struggle “incident” the first tendency when someone has tried to pull you into a power struggle is to either push back or withdraw. However, we only reinforce negative power cycles when we continue to sulk or withdraw and fail to reconnect. Showing an increase in love, which is the most beneficial thing in breaking down barriers and promoting a healthy sharing of power, is often the most difficult thing to initiate. After your child has disengaged from the struggle or you have successfully redirected them, do all you can to find ways to reconnect. Play with them, bake cookies, or just hug them and let them know how much they are loved. This routine practiced in the early years sets the stage for less dramatic / more peaceful resolutions as they reach the teen years.

It Could Play Out Differently……better……next time

Let’s go back to the fairy wings incident, you may have been able to prevent a struggle simply by choosing not to engage in the first place. Your daughter’s wings may have been met with snickers from her classmates, her teacher may have asked her to remove them, or the photographer may have convinced her that the wings didn’t match the background. Natural consequences would have come into play without any input from you, and ultimately your daughter would have gained some insightful experience (And bonus, you’re not the bad guy!)

Most power struggles can be averted if we consistently apply these 3 steps before, during, and after a struggle. Remember, it’s a relational cycle. Your children will notice you are willing to share a little more of the power than you did before. In turn, your children will learn to wield power more responsibly and the parent / child bond will become stronger. Next time your child tries to pull you into a power struggle, stop trying to win the argument and instead seek to listen, solve problems, and grow. It’s a “Win Win” situation!

Kids Camp; Sports Safety

The social, emotional, and physical benefits of sports for kids are undeniable, but no one wants to see their kids sidelined due to sports injuries. Here are some safety tips if your kids are involved in sports:

Make sure your child has a pre-participation physical exam including all pertinent medical history.

Meet with coach beforehand to share your contact info, doctor’s phone number, allergy info, and any special conditions such as asthma that the coach should know about.

Make sure your child is well hydrated. Kids should drink water 30 minutes before a game or practice and every 15 to 20 minutes through out the activity. The coach should call mandatory drink breaks.

Make sure kids are wearing appropriate sports gear such as safety helmets, mouth guards, face guards, shin guards, knee and shoulder pads, spiked shoes, skates and gloves and safety glasses.

Kids should do some light jogging and a few minutes of stretching before each practice or game.

Check to make sure the coach is certified in CPR and first aid and knows the symptoms of concussions. Ask if he / she has attended the Safe Kids Sports Safety Clinic.

Ask if first aid kit or AED (defibrillator) is on hand at all games and practices.

Ask what emergency measures are in place in case of a serious injury, for example calling paramedics or transportation to the hospital.

The coach should rest all players alternately throughout the game.

Encourage your child to report any pain or injury immediately to the coach.

Kids should have 1 to 2 days off of sports practice per week.

Kids should take occasional breaks from sports to prevent over use injuries.