Christmas Trees with a… popsicle stick?

Hi friends! Who is ready for the holidays? Not me! In my family we don’t put the decorations up until closer to Christmas. But I definitely have been trying to get my family to tell me what they want for Christmas.

 

 

At work we’re not ready yet either. The donations for Santa’s workshop have only just started coming in and the hospital Christmas Party isn’t until next week. But we have to plan some fun activities for the kids. I wanted to share a craft we will be doing. I modified it from an activity I saw on One Little Project, so go check out the original here! I changed it up by using markers to color the popsicle sticks and we will be switching the popsicle sticks out for tongue depressors (medical play, anyone?). You will need popsicle or tongue depressors, markers, glue, paper stars, brown paper squares, and various items to decorate the tree. I highly recommend the shiny pipe cleaners! Popsicle Stick Chrismas Trees 9

You might wonder how I made the stars so nice. Debbie over at One Little Project recommended the method of folding paper and making one cut. About half way through I realized that I could have made copies of any star I wanted onto a sheet of paper and cut the stars out that way. But I have to admit, it was fun to do it the origami way.

Once you have your items, cut one of the popsicle sticks so that it is slightly shorter than the other two. Like so:

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Then using the markers, color your sticks. You can paint them instead, but since the kids will be doing this craft during the party and there will be multiple other crafts as well, I wanted to keep this simple and not too messy.

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Put some glue on the ends and glue them together.

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Let the glue dry slightly, then decorate your tree.

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You can use the pipe cleaners, the fuzz balls, even sequins or buttons. Use glitter at your own risk thought!

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I love this activity because not only is it a great craft for the holiday season, but it’s also a great way to create memories, even in the hospital. I know that in the U.S. many children make homemade ornaments both at school and at home. It’s important to continue these traditions even in the hospital. I hope you get to try this craft out. Let me know what you think!

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Friday Fun: Happy Radiology Week!

So today is Radiology Week and our radiology department posted some very funny radiology memes for all of us to enjoy. I thought I would share some of them with you because they are awesome. And shout out to all who work in radiology! Without your dedication we wouldn’t be able to provide the level of accurate care that patients receive.

 

 

Special Agent Sarah reporting in!

We had a fun time recently hosting a secret agent activity for our patients and families. My coworker came up with the idea as well as the activities, and I along with my pod helped her put the event on. It was lots of fun and I thought it would be cool to share it with you!

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The kids had to “scan their hands” in order to get inside. The scanner was actually just the automatic door opener button, but it was still fun to pretend!

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After the were able to make it into the secret base, they had to fill out a background check, complete with finger prints. The kids were really excited about how real it felt. They were each then given a secret assignment, which was to complete all three missions in order to win a prize. They made shields, tried out the photo booth and played pin the disguise on the criminal!

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Friday Fun: Discovering Hands

So watching babies learn about the world around them is very interesting to me. They learn so quickly about everything from their body to their family, to society as a whole. But I have to admit, one of my favorite discoveries is when a baby learns how to use his or her hands. All of a sudden these strange appendages that are waving around have a role and a job for the infant. It’s so amazing and really cute too! I saw this picture and I felt like it captures part of the discovery. I hope it gives you a little chuckle!

91 Funniest Baby Memes On The Planet - #55 & #79 Will Make You LOL - Peanut's Personality Cards

The Power of Halloween

IMG_2611So yesterday was Halloween and once again I was amazed at the creativity that goes into the holiday. I saw not only some pretty awesome costumes (cardboard army tank, anyone?) but some really cool decorations. While it’s often marketed as a holiday for the kids, adults definitely have fun too on Halloween. For example, my coworker loves Pokémon Go, and she strutted her stuff! Halloween can definitely be a great outlet of self-expression, which is very therapeutic! This is apparent in child life programs across the country, because each one does something fun for the kids on Halloween. Whether it’s a Halloween parade, doing reverse trick or treating (that’s when the people handing out candy go to the patients instead of the other way around), or a party, children reap the creative and expressive benefits of Halloween while at the hospital.

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It’s also really cool to see a group of people get together to create something for Halloween. We had a decorating contest at work and there was some really awesome teamwork going on. I saw a Seuss town spring up, as well as an emoji unit. And every year there is an office that does a big pumpkin decorating contest. This time my favorite was an epic Moana-themed pumpkin. It literally towered over the competition!

Halloween is a great opportunity to get the creative juices flowing. Even I had fun creating a costume and indulging in a little sparkle! By expressing yourself, you get to show off something you are passionate about. And if you made your own costume,IMG_2608 you can be proud of something that you created yourself! I will admit, I really wanted an excuse to wear a tutu and put stickers on my face. So I did! I had forgotten how much fun it was to dress up as a ballerina or a princess when I was a kid. What started out as a snowflake costume turned into a trip down memory lane for me! It reminded me that Halloween is a great time to work on legacy building and memory making! This is definitely an important yearly event for many people and we should give families a chance to participate, even while at the hospital.

What about you? Do you have any fun stories or experiences from Halloween?

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Snowflake Ballerina!

To Sleep or Not To Sleep?

Happy Wednesday!!! I have to admit, I have a love-hate relationship with the idea of Wednesday being “hump” day. On the one hand, I’m super excited that I’ve made it half-way through a week, on the other hand, I sometimes get tired thinking that I still have a few  more days to go before the weekend… and the chance to sleep in!

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Ready for bed after driving in for a presentation!

Sleeping is definitely something that we all like doing, but here in the hospital, sleep is often seen as something a little scary, especially if we’re talking about taking a medicine to fall asleep. At the same time, there are some people who would rather be asleep for a procedure because the idea of being awake is scary. On top of all that, the medical staff need patients to be compliant during a procedure and a sleeping patient is sometimes more compliant than an awake patient, if you know what I mean. But at the same time medically-induced sleep definitely comes with many risk factors and presents challenges that can be averted if no medication is used.

I could go on and on, but the reality is that many different factors are at work when deciding if a patient needs sedation for a procedure. In my job at the children’s hospital I will often get called to assess if a patient can hold still without medication or if then need something to help them sleep during a procedure. Recently I wrote an article on how I make that assessment for the Society for Pediatric Sedation. For those of you who are more interested in learning more about child life, I highly recommend you check out this article: Child Life 101 – Assessment. It gives a great snapshot of one role that a child life specialist has on an interdisciplinary team.

Here is the link if you want to copy and paste it in your browser!

http://www2.pedsedation.org/sections/newsletters/2017spring/childlife.html

The Importance of Visions

A few weeks ago I was privileged to present at the National Juvenile Arthritis Conference. I spoke with kids in 5th and 6th grade as well as the 11th and 12th graders. I’ve worked with campers at the Texas arthritis summer camp for 2 years now and had so much fun that they asked me to come do some education at the conference. Since the two groups were very different in age and needs, I did two different presentations. Today I wanted to share what I did with the 5th and 6th graders.

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Having a little fun with Snapchat before the conference!

Since the kids in this age group are either transitioning or getting ready to transition into middle school, I decided that it would be great to start talking with them about goals. Kids at this age are very interested in advancing their skill sets, recognizing that they can achieve goals. They are beginning to think about what they would like to do with their life, going deeper into what they want to be when they grow up. At the same time, becoming an adult still seems far away and there are many things that can happen between middle school and entering the workforce that shape the career one chooses.

But that does not mean it is useless to start thinking about dreams and aspirations for adulthood. On the contrary, it is important for youths to consider what they are passionate about and start to see the different pathways to their goals. By forming their dreams into physical cohesion, they begin their journey of turning dreams into reality. One way of doing this is by creating a vision board.

A vision board is a way of putting pictures and/or words together to create a visual representation of a dream or goal. It’s a great way to start your creative juices going while also having a source of inspiration you can use as you work towards that goal or dream. I led the youths in making their own vision boards and it was really cool to see the variety. Some thought about jobs while others thought about sports and recreation. And then there were the kids who wanted their recreation to be their job. I was also very impressed in how specific they got. Some of them actually noted what they wanted to do in a certain field, like becoming an archeologist in a certain country or specializing as a horse veterinarian.

Before you rush out to start your vision board though, I want to share some steps. Since it can be hard to ask someone to pick a specific goal out of thin air for a project, I gave the participants some parameters. I first had them talk about what they wanted to achieve in high school, which is a much closer goal for them than their adult career. I had them list a few ideas, then asked them to list what that would look like for them 3 years from now. There were no wrong answers, the point was to just some ideas flowing. After I let them jot things down, I then talked with them about the vision board and the goal of the project. Finally, I gave them some art supplies including magazines and encouraged them to get creative with their vision boards. And they did an awesome job!

I thought I would share the board I created to use as a demonstration for the youths. My focus or “goal” was oriented to performing more since I love to sing and dance. Let me know if you’ve tried making a vision board and how did it go in the comments below!

 

Vision Board for Performing

My Vision Board!

 

Coping with Harvey, Irma, And Other Storms

Houston is working diligently to put the city back together after Harvey while Irma has her turn to take on the human race. It’s very easy to focus on the simple things: getting food, water, and shelter to those who need to, and don’t get me wrong, these are very important goals. But it’s also important to consider the long-term effects that natural disasters have on people, both those who lived through them and those who watched from a distance.

Reflecting on Harvey’s path of devastation, I realized I was lucky. There were many forecasts that Harvey would hit the city I live in very hard. There was lots of work around the hospital as everyone got ready for the worst case scenario. Thank goodness the results differed from the predictions, though we did definitely see an increase in patients coming from the coast. I actually felt a little bad that my friends who live else where kept asking if I was okay and I had to explain that other than a brief power outage, I didn’t have anything to report.

But it reminded me of my elementary school guidance class where the teacher went over every type of natural disaster, leaving me slightly traumatized. My mom spent quite a long time convincing me the likelihood of all those natural disasters happening to our land-locked state was pretty slim. (I will admit that I spent a year checking to make sure the stove was off at night after the guidance teacher did the unit on house fires.) It just goes to show that kids can definitely be effected by natural disasters, regardless if they lived through one or not.

So how do you help a child process and cope with natural disasters? It’s obviously a conversation that must be had because everyone will at one point or another be effected by a natural disaster. And adults often find it difficult to start a conversation on such a heavy subject. Thankfully books can be a wonderful place to start. There are many resources out there (I always recommend checking your local library!) but I wanted to share one free resource from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network: Trinka and Sam: The Rainy Windy Day.

The story follows two children and how they handle a hurricane. I really like how it shows two different ways children can express themselves after experiencing a traumatic event. Not only that, but it shows appropriate ways that caregivers can respond to children who are processing the traumatic event. And bonus points: you can print it out and color it!

I hope you find this resource helpful! Please share it to anyone you think might find it helpful. And to all those who have been effected by the hurricanes, stay safe!!!