Search Results for: label/Virtues

Virtue in Focus: Attentiveness

This is the fifth post in my series “Virtues in Focus.”
Click here to read the rest.


Listening is different from hearing. It is one of the concepts that struck me when I was training to be a Kindermusik educator three years ago.

Hearing is biological. You hear with your ears. It happens simply, naturally, automatically. A sound reaches your ear. You hear it.

The same goes for seeing. You see something in your line of vision. But it doesn’t mean that you actually see it. It’s like when you’re reading and your mind is a million miles away. You read the words, turn the pages, but then suddenly realize that you don’t have any idea about what you have just read! 


Being Attentive 

Listening, as opposed to just hearing, requires effort, concentration, and brain power to process what you are hearing. It is an important skill for children to have as information is mostly relayed through the spoken word. Listening leads to learning. And between a husband and his wife, knowing how to listen leads to a good relationship!

In the same manner, instead of emptily looking with our eyes, observing carefully is something that should be trained and cultivated.



Games for Attentive Watching 

What’s Missing? – Lay down five to six trinkets or small objects in a straight line. Ask your child to name all the items one by one to commit to memory. Change the set of trinkets often. We used our Think-Ets and had enormous fun! (It’s available at our shop.) 


Memory Game – Get any matching game that you have around the house and challenge your child to a memory game. For young children, start with a small number of pairs and increase gradually.


I Spy – Playing “I Spy” either with a book or your surroundings will provide hours of fun as you look carefully for what is being asked for. This is also a listening exercise. I remember playing this game when Little T was younger and we were learning phonics. I would say, “I spy with my little eye something that starts with ‘buh.’” We also made it into a guessing game: “I spy with my little eye something that is round, flat, and used for eating.”


Games for Attentive Listening

Listening Ear Massage – In Kindermusik classes, teachers always ask children to massage their ears from top to bottom. It is a Brain Gym activity that improves listening and memory skills. So next time you want your child to listen, try this simple exercise before saying what you want to say.

Simon Says – Play this classic game with your child in its original version or make up your own. We play this anywhere, even in our car. “Mama says clap three times then pinch your nose!” My kids love it!

Sound Bingo – We love sound bingo games! We have the ABC Sound Bingo by DoRe&Me. But you can easily make your own version using this free resource from Lesson Sense. Basically, you’ll listen to a sound and look for the matching picture on your bingo card. This will provide hours of fun!


Books to Read

We love the character Big Anthony in Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona books! Big Anthony is Strega Nona’s bumbling assistant who DOESN’T listen and observe at all. We had fun spotting instances of when he is being inattentive and causes havoc around him! 

Another story that we enjoyed reading is “Why The Pina Has A Hundred Eyes”, a Philippine folk tale published by Tahanan Books. It is about a girl named Pinang who can’t find anything that her mother asks her to look for. One day, in a moment of frustration, her mother wishes out loud for Pinang to have many, many eyes. In the morning, Pinang is nowhere to be found, but her mother notices a new plant growing in her garden. It eventually bears a fruit that seems to have a hundred eyes, a fruit that we now all know as the pineapple.
When we learn to be not distracted and to focus on what we are seeing and hearing, we are assured that learning can take place. The good news is, we can easily train our children (and ourselves) to be attentive, to “watch and listen carefully,” as We Choose Virtues succinctly puts it!
Make magic!

Virtue in Focus: Gentleness

This is the fourth post in my series “Virtues in Focus.”
Click here to read the rest.

Gerbil and Jill poster
What does being gentle mean? “We Choose Virtues” sums it up well for us: being gentle means speaking quietly and touching softly. We should be gentle with our mouth and our hands.

While I find my children’s squeals, occasional screams, and regular roughhousing important ingredients of a happy childhood, it is still best to guide them and make them understand about being gentle towards each other and other people. Understanding the need to be gentle is part of their social and emotional development.
In our week focused on gentleness, we did some activities and read a few books. I hope the following can help you too on your path to acquiring this virtue.


Music and Movement Games

Music was an obvious choice for us to demonstrate soft and loud. Kindermusik classes promote sound discrimination right from Village (the one for newborn to one and a half year olds) and encourage families to continue the learning at home with the home materials. 
  • We practiced playing softly and LOUDLY with our drums and egg shakers
  • We took turns calling out the way to play with our instruments
  • We played with our mini-cymbals while marching up and down. Little’s T current favorite phrase, which comes from a Cherub Wings video, provides a wonderful example for soft and loud sound: “Praise the Lord with booming cymbals: BOOOOOM!” Ouch in BOOOOOM! 
  • We moved to music, depending on what it was “telling” us to do. Our favorite is this song from Little Sir’s Milk and Cookies CD. We sway in the slow and quiet parts, and we bounce in the bouncy parts.

Soft and Loud Voices

We practiced using our soft and loud voices by talking with:

  • our regular voices,
  • whispering, and then
  • almost-shouting.
We talked about when to use each voice, and why. Regular voices are for talking to each other, whispering is for when somebody is asleep or resting, and “almost-shouting” or okay, just plain shouting, when there is an emergency and you need to call somebody’s attention.


Touching Gently

Little T thinks her baby brother is “the cutest baby in the whole world!” She can’t stop pinching or squeezing him. It bothers the grown-ups, but doesn’t seem to faze Little Sir. I think he even likes it and asks his sister, “again?”
To demonstrate touching gently – to appease myself that I’m at least protecting my baby, ha! – we played with some of our stuffed toys and took turns patting them. When we did this though, I forgot to bring out the classic baby book “Pat the Bunny” by Dorothy Kunhardt. It is an interactive book that asks children to touch and feel parts of the book. 


“The Little Rabbit” by Judy Dunn and Phoebe Dunn is a “Before Five in a Row” book. It’s about Sarah  and her pet rabbit Buttercup.

“Play with Me” by Marie Hall Ets is another “Before Five in a Row” book that we enjoyed reading together. It’s about a girl who wants to play with the different animals around a pond, but is frustrated when they all run away from her. At the end, she realizes that the secret to making the animals come near her is to be still, to be gentle in her movements.

“Be Gentle!” is one of the stories about the cub Bartholomew by Virginia Miller. It is a lively series that we enjoyed when Little T was a toddler and that we are now re-reading for Little Sir. This particular story is also about taking care of a pet.
Books about pets are generally great for talking about being gentle not only to animals but to people as well. I’m hoping to find more books that tackle gentleness, so I hope you’ll let me know if you’ve read one!
Make magic!


Virtue in Focus: Contentment

This is the third post in my series “Virtues in Focus.”
Click here to read the rest.
We Choose Virtue’s catchphrase for contentment is “I am content. I have my wanter under control.” I am comforted by the idea that we can teach our children to keep their wants, their desires in check.

My children are still very young, and “I want” is not really an issue yet. I hope that it won’t be!  I believe that talking about it now and doing some preventive work will help our family glide over it. The most important thing to remember is to model contentment for our children. Here are more ideas to get all of us going.


Have a “gratitude attitude”

We learned this rhyming phrase from Heart Shapers’ Cherub Wings video series. When we are grateful, we feel happy and content for what we have and we don’t feel the need to have more, more, and more! (On a side note, we like Cherub Wings so much that we have made it available in our online shop.)


Encourage generosity

I have several older siblings, and it is normal for my children to receive hand-me down things: clothes, books, and toys. I love receiving such gifts. Our children get the opportunity to be grateful for their cousins’ generosity, and we are also inspired to be generous ourselves. It is part of our family’s schedule to sort our things every quarter and to give what we don’t need to my children’s younger cousins or to the family of two girls that Little T is friends with. Except for books, we don’t really keep much of our things. Generosity breeds generosity!


Say “no” to the mall

I personally don’t like going to malls, and I especially don’t like bringing my kids when I do have to go to one. This almost zero exposure to the shopping culture has protected my children from wanting all the non-essential material things out there. It is sometimes a challenge to think of places to bring the kids, but simple joys like neighborhood walks and playing with their cousins are more beneficial than over-stimulating public places.



For our week focused on contentment, we read the following books:
  • Help Me Be Good: A Book About Whining by Joy Berry – The Help Me Be Good series is published by Scholastic.It covers topics such as bullying, laziness, being greedy, and being bossy. Read more about it here.
  • The Giant Turnip: A Book About Generosity and Greed – Part of the Time Life series about values education. We like this particular book because the story about greed is very clear and easy to comprehend.
  • The Biggest House in the World by Leo Lionni - A snail wants to have “the biggest house in the world” but his dad tells him the story of another snail who did have the biggest house – and ended up unable to move and eat because of it. A clear lesson on contentment.
  • Ms Bilberry’s New House by Emma Chichester Clarke – Miss Bilberry is very happy with her life, her house, her dog, and her two birds Chitty and Chatty. But she keeps wondering about what it would be like to live on the other side of the mountain. This story teaches us that sometimes, we already have what we are looking for, and we need to be content to fully enjoy it.
  • A Squash and a Squeeze by Julia Donaldson – A hilarious book that has been Little T’s favorite since she was two, “A Squash and a Squeeze” is the story of an old woman who thinks her house too little. On the advice of the wise old man, she brings farmyard animals to live with her. She soon realizes that her house is not small after all.
  • It Could Always Be Worse by Margot Zemach – A Caldecott Honor Book, “It Could Always Be Worse” is a Yiddish folk tale that is similar to A Squash and a Squeeze. (Thank you Teacher Mama Tina for lending this to us!)
  • Tight Times by Jeanette C. Patindol - A family has less of everything because the father lost his job – but they are grateful for what they are still able to enjoy.
  • Just Enough and Not Too Much by Kaethe Zemach - Discovered this on my nephew’s shelf while I was hunting for books to borrow from my sister’s home library. This made my daughter laugh because “he’s so silly to have so many chairs.” Food for thought for those who collect so many things!

Make magic!