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Break Up the Bad Weather Blues

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Are you stuck inside because of the freezing temperatures or the rain? Take a step back from the TV, tablet or video game, and shake up your normal routine. When the weather prevents your children from playing outside, provide them with challenging activities and active games!

Have a Board Game Competition.

Hold a board game competition in your living or family room. Spend the day playing different games. You can even compete for prizes.

Create an Indoor Obstacle Course.

Create a course with 10 to 15 stations of quick physical or educational activities. One station might require your child to jump on one foot 15 times; at another, your child should sing the alphabet song twice. Use a stop watch or oven clock to time each other and see who can complete the obstacle course the in fastest time or who can improve on their previous best times.

Create Your Very Own Time Capsule.

Spend the day with your child creating and filling a time capsule with items, notes, pictures and other things that are important to you and your child. Then, store it away. On a rainy or snowy day in the future, open it up and share your memories!

Don’t let the weather put a damper on your fun and learning. Make the best out of being stuck indoors with a little creativity and items you already have in your home!

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Warm Winter Wishes Craft

This special homemade photo gift is sure to warm hearts this winter! Create one for a special someone or make many to give as gifts to family & friends.

What you need:

Sheets of colored paper or craft foam

Ribbon or small adhesive magnets

Small photo(s) of your family or child

Glue stick

Child-safe scissors

Washable markers

Pencil

Single hole punch

Decorative “winter” craft accessories of your choice

What to do:

1. Use a pencil to trace your child’s hand on a sheet of paper or craft foam. Trace each finger individually or around their four fingers together and thumb separately to make a mitten shape.

2. Carefully cut out the hand or mitten shape, and then trim your photo to fit in the “palm” of the cutout. Glue the photo in place.

3. Here’s the fun part! Encourage your little one to get creative with washable markers and “winter” craft accessories to add their own decorative touch!

4. When your child is happy with their masterpiece, either punch a hole in the top and tie a ribbon through it for hanging or attach small adhesive magnets to the back for hanging on the refrigerator.

*An adult should oversee all activities. Activities may not be appropriate for all ages.

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True Toys and Their Positive Effects on Children

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True toys have no bells or whistles, they do not do anything and you do not turn them on. Most toys today have taken the fun out of imaginative play. Manipulating toys and giving them life develops reasoning and problem-solving skills as well as creates a base of simple knowledge of how things work.

Infants

Rattles – Fine motor development toy of the century. Grasping, repetitive motion that creates a desired outcome, music, hand-eye coordination and focusing visually on a moving object are all part of infant learning. Have rattles handy in a variety of colors, shapes, sizes and sounds.

One-Year-Olds

Blocks, blocks and more blocks – Spatial relationships, size and shape discrimination leads to early math skills, fine motor control as well as cause and effect. This true toy is fun at any age! A child may spend hours building and knocking down blocks while developing science skills including balance, gravity and concepts of weight.

Two-Year-Olds

Paint and play-dough – It is messy and that is why they like it so much. This tactile experience will open the doors of creativity and thinking. Let them mix the colors, use different tools and add to the experience by playing some music in the background. Finger paint, paintbrushes and textured paint can be mixed with a variety of painting surfaces for further explanation.

Three-Year-Olds

A ball – Look at everything you can do with a ball – kick it, catch it, sit on it, bounce it, dribble it, play alone or with someone. A ball develops gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination and encourages healthy practices. A child needs to learn to handle a ball before they can handle a pencil.

Four- to Five-Year-Olds

Dramatic Play – Dramatic play is more than dress-up. It is a shovel, a whisk, a pad of paper. It is a pile of dirt, an old tire and a cardboard box. The sky is the limit – if your children have seen it, they want to explore it. Cut the cord off an old landline telephone and let them look inside as the telephone repair man. True toys for a four year old are simply real life items. These toys will allow children to try on new personalities and play out roles.

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Siblings: First Friends

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Siblings play a huge role in each other’s lives. Many siblings who are close in age become each other’s first friend. You can encourage a strong, long-term bond by letting your older child take care of his new brother or sister as much as possible.

Children learn a lot from their parents, and they also learn a lot from their siblings. It is best to encourage our children to have strong connections with one another for them to achieve stable social and emotional development. When children are close with their siblings, the transition to making friends at school is much easier. With siblings who are farther apart in age, the older child becomes a teacher who can explain how to make friends at school and how to behave in the classroom.

Along with being the first born, which is special in itself, your older child now has the extra special responsibility of being a role model for his little brother or sister.

What are some ways you encourage your children to bond with one another?

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Keeping Your Child on Track through the Holiday Season

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The holiday season is here. The holidays can be fun and joyful for families, but they can also be stressful and unsettling, especially for children. You can take steps to ensure your child has a positive experience and gets through this busy time with less stress. Here are some suggestions that may help.

1. Provide good nutrition – Eating healthy, nutritious foods can be a challenge with all the treats and special holiday foods. Stock up on fresh fruits, vegetables and lean sources of protein to provide a balanced diet for your family.

2. Help your child get enough sleep – A tired child is a cranky child. Being consistent with naptimes and bedtimes is especially important during the holiday season. This can be a challenge, but by planning and incorporating these times into your holiday schedule, you can improve your child’s behavior and increase everyone’s enjoyment of an event.

3. Set expectations and consequences – Letting your children know your expectations for their behavior and the consequences of misbehaving is essential, especially during the holidays. You must be willing to follow through with the consequences, or the rules will have no meaning.

4. Keep the rules developmentally appropriate – When setting rules and expectations, be aware of what is appropriate for your children’s ages and developmental stages. Often, parents’ expectations do not align with their child’s developmental capabilities.

5. Stay calm and be flexible – Don’t lose sight of the goal of the holidays, which is to celebrate your family and the traditions important to you. Take a break if you are feeling overwhelmed, even if it is only 10 minutes to breathe and clear your mind. Staying calm will help you and your child enjoy this wonderful time of year.

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Five Fall Crafts

1. Work with your child to create an Acrostic poem like the one below. Consider using alternative words, such as leaf, pumpkin or scarecrow.

Thankful for my family

Uncover the changes in nature

Ready to stuff my belly with turkey

Kicking the warm days right out of here

Enjoy a game of family football

Yearning for snow to arrive.

2. Ask your children to draw turkeys using their hands. Have each one of your children place a hand on a white sheet of paper and trace around the hand, fingers and thumb. Then count the names on your Thanksgiving guest list, and have your children create a corresponding number of hand-drawn turkeys. Ask your children to color them using crayons and imagination. Once they finish, take the pieces of paper to your nearest office supply store to be laminated. You now have adorable place mats for your Thanksgiving dinner.

3. Use the colorful leaves of fall to create a lion’s mane. Gather a bunch of leaves with your child. Make sure they are dry and bug-free! Tell your child about the assorted colors as you gather the leaves. Next, take the leaves and put them in an old book for a few hours to help press and preserve them. Take a paper plate and help your child glue the leaves around the rim. Once you’ve covered the entire rim, let it dry. Finally, encourage your child to draw the lion’s face on the paper plate.

4. Create a tree using buttons. Gather old or new buttons. Talk to your children about fall colors and have them choose the buttons that they want to use for this activity. Then, encourage your little ones to draw a tree trunk and branches. Finally, guide your children in gluing the buttons onto where leaves should appear. During this project, talk with your children about how trees grow.

5. Ask your children what they are thankful for. Instead of having them write it on a piece of paper, have them make a turkey craft out of it. Get a paper plate and an assortment of colored construction paper. Help them cut out feathered shapes from the construction paper to glue on the plate as the turkey’s feathers. Once the glue dries, ask your children to write something that they are thankful for on each feather. Assist them with the writing if necessary.

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Easy Halloween S’mores

S’mores are a delicious treat but they usually require a campfire. These simple s’mores can be made without a campfire and are just as yummy!

Ingredients:

* Graham crackers

* Chocolate-hazelnut spread

* Marshmallow crème

* Black and orange nonpareils

Spread four graham cracker squares with chocolate-hazelnut spread, and spread four graham cracker squares with marshmallow crème. Pair off the marshmallow and chocolate-hazelnut squares and sandwich them together. Place them on a microwave-safe plate and microwave them, uncovered, on high for 30 seconds. Once they’re nice and warm, sprinkle the gooey edges in black and orange nonpareils. Then enjoy!

You can also try a peanut butter variation – just use chocolate graham cracker squares instead of traditional ones, and use peanut butter instead of chocolate-hazelnut spread.

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How to Help Your Child Get to Sleep

Getting enough sleep is important, especially for a child. Getting a good night’s sleep can lead to better focus, more energy and better overall mental wellness. However, it can sometimes be challenging for your child to get to sleep and stay asleep. Here are some tips on easing your child into bedtime.

1. Establish a bedtime routine. Allow your child time to wind down about 30 minutes before bedtime. Ask her to brush her teeth, put on her pajamas and get into bed. You can also spend a few minutes reading to her.

2. Limit screen time. Ask your child to turn off all electronic devices about an hour before he gets ready for bed. The light devices emit may suppress the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, making it harder to get to sleep.

3. Avoid sugar and caffeine. Limit sugary foods and drinks a few hours before bed and avoid caffeine (like soda or chocolate) at least eight hours before bed.

4. Create a sleep-friendly environment. Make sure your child’s bedroom is quiet, dark and comfortable. You can buy blackout curtains to keep out any light. If your child doesn’t like absolute silence, consider using a white noise machine.

5. Set rules. Pick a bedtime and be firm about it. If you read bedtime stories, set a limit on how many books or how much of a book you will read. If your child has a tendency to call for you, come up with an acceptable list of reasons for your child to call you and stick to that list. Setting clear limits can help maintain healthy sleep habits.

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Parent-Teacher Communication

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Establishing a strong, open line of communication between parents and teachers is an essential part of any child’s education. Doing so allows parents to always remain apprised of their child’s progress and, should a problem arise, allows for easy discussion on ways to address and remedy the situation.

Never hesitate to get the lines of communication flowing. As your child’s teacher greets each new student on the first day of school, take advantage of the situation to introduce yourself as well. Ask how and when would be the best time to contact them if you have questions or just want to check in on your child’s progress.

Try to communicate with your child’s teacher regularly. Frequent chats help build your parent-teacher relationship and allow for a constant flow of feedback so you both can better understand and address your child’s needs.

Becoming involved in school events and/or parent-teacher organizations offers another great forum for developing parent-teacher communication. Make an effort to attend open houses, social events and/or join the school’s PTO.

Once the lines of communication are established, you and your child’s teacher can work together throughout the school year to monitor and guide your child’s educational goals.

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Grandparents Day!

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National Grandparents Day falls on the first Sunday after Labor Day every year. With well over 25 million more grandparents today than in 1980*, it is a holiday worth observing. Grandparents all over the country help care for their grandchildren, and they deserve to be recognized for the support they provide to their families.

Celebrate National Grandparents Day with some creative activities and gifts.

* Create an ecard online. Ask your children to help you choose the card and compose a message;

* Help your children write a note or draw a picture for their grandparents. You can also send a photo of your children with their grandparents. Add a stamp and address the envelope, and have your children place the note in the mailbox;

* Help your little one craft a one-of-a-kind piece of art for their grandparents. You can even buy a frame for the artwork and present it to Grandma and/or Grandpa;

* Bake something special for your children’s grandparents. If they have a favorite treat or snack, your little chefs can help you whip up something sweet for their grandparents. Wrap it up in a nice tin or container;

* Schedule some one-on-one time for your little ones to bond with their grandparents. Grandparents love nothing more than uninterrupted time with their grandchildren.

Reading is another excellent way to share stories and bond. Here are some special books to share with your children’s grandparents:

* Your Mommy Was Just Like You written by Kelly Bennett and illustrated by David Walker – Children wonder what their parents were like when they were young. In this story, a grandmother tells her granddaughter what her mother was like as a child.

* You’re Lovable to Me written by Kat Yeh and illustrated by Sue Anderson – This story illustrates that parents’ love never wanes, no matter how young or old their children are.

* One Love adapted by Cedella Marley and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton – This story adapts Bob Marley’s lyrics into a story about a

family, including a grandmother, that works with the local community to build a park where everyone can play and enjoy the outdoors.

* You’re Going to Be a Grandma! written by Deborah Zupancic and illustrated by Joel Grothaus – This book lets a grandmother-to-be record important information about her new grandchild.

* Grandpa Green by Lane Smith – This special story is about a grandfather who may be losing his memory and his grandson bonding over the topiary garden the grandfather has lovingly maintained for many years.

* Here Comes Grandma! by Janet Lord – This book whimsically illustrates the lengths a grandmother will go to see her grandchild.

* The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster and Chris Raschka – This book is written from the perspective of a little girl whose grandparents are her caregivers. This book is great for grandparents to share with their grandchildren, especially if they often look after their grandchildren.

Make celebrating your children’s grandparents and yours an annual tradition. While we may show our appreciation for them every day, National Grandparents Day gives us a special opportunity to show them extra love and attention and teach our children about the importance of respecting their elders.

*Source: The MetLife Report on American Grandparents, https://www.metlife.com/assets/cao/mmi/publications/studies/2011/mmi-american-grandparents.pdf

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