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Archive for 2017

Baking Holiday Memories

Bake up some warm holiday memories with your children this season. Put on those aprons, the mess is part of the fun! Older children can crack the eggs and measure wet/dry ingredients, while the younger children participate by pouring the pre-measured ingredients into the mixing bowl (be sure to point out that oil and water mix) and by stirring and creating cut-outs with cookies cutters. Be sure to encourage creativity and imagination when it is time to decorate! Festively colored frostings, sparkly sanding sugars, pre-cut fondant in holiday shapes (or make your own), gumdrops and more are perfect for little fingers, and make for wonderful holiday cookie decorations. Don’t forget to taste test your creations! Giving and sharing provide a feeling of joy that you can reinforce by having your children deliver a plate of cookies to a neighbor or the local senior center.

Baking with Children

  • Put on aprons. The mess is part of the fun;
  • Older children can crack the eggs and measure wet and dry ingredients, while younger children can participate by pouring the pre-measured ingredients into the mixing bowl;
  • Show children that oil and water mix by letting them stir the mix;
  • Create cut-outs with cookies cutters;
  • Be sure to encourage creativity and imagination when decorating your creations. Use festively colored frostings, sparkly sanding sugars, gumdrops, pre-cut fondant or homespun shapes. These are perfect for little fingers and make wonderful cookie decorations;
  • Don’t forget to taste test your creations;
  • Go with your children to deliver a plate of cookies to a neighbor or the local senior center. Giving and sharing can make children feel good.

Five Benefits of Imaginative Play

Imaginative play benefits the growth of the cerebellum. This part of the brain is responsible for key cognitive functions such as attention, language processing, sensing musical rhythms, and more (Brown & Vaughan, 2009, p. 34). Here are five other benefits of imaginative play for children.

  1. Play fosters the development of imagination. Imaginative play encourages children to be anything they want to be. This anything-goes thinking allows them to come up with ideas that they might not think about in a more structured environment.
  2. It encourages the development of problem-solving skills. Problem solving requires the ability to think creatively. Imaginative play involves experimenting with different activities, such as building with blocks or sculpting with modeling clay (White, 2015). Engaging in these playful activities helps children become more creative, which gives them the ability to solve different problems (Roskos & Christie, 2000).
  3. Play allows a child to fail without consequences. For example, when children play house, they imagine themselves as parents or spouses. They learn from those scenarios without dealing with negative consequences. Imaginative play, in other words, gives children the freedom to fail and try again without feeling defeated. (Lillemyr, 2009).
  1. It encourages social-emotional development. When pretending to be, say, a mother or a father, the child must imagine being in that person’s shoes. As a result, the child learns to interact and think about things as a parent, which helps the child become empathetic and practice language that is more in a parent’s vocabulary than a child.
  2. It helps children unwind. Unstructured imaginative play gives children the opportunity to be in their own world for a while without worrying about anything except playing and having fun.

 

 

References

Brown, S., & Vaughan, C. (2009). Play: How it shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and invigorates the soul. New York, NY: Avery.

Lillemyr, O. F. (2009). Taking play seriously: Children and play in early childhood education—An exciting challenge. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Roskos, K. A., & Christie, J. F. (2000). Play and literacy in early childhood: Research from multiple perspectives. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

White, R. E. (2015). The power of play: A research summary on play and learning. Retrieved from http://www.childrensmuseums.org/images/MCMResearchSummary.pdf

Apple Printing Activity

You can use apples as stamps to create fun pictures, design wrapping paper or decorate clothing like t-shirts and jeans.

Materials

  • Apples
  • Paint (Use washable poster paint for paper prints and fabric paints for clothes.)
  • Paper plates
  • A printable surface
  • Newspaper to protect the work surface
  • Art smocks or old t-shirts
  • A knife to cut the apples (for adults only)*

Instructions

  1. Cover your work surface with newspaper and make sure everyone is wearing old clothes or a smock.
  2. Pour paint on the paper plates. Use one color per plate.
  3. Ask your child to guess what shape of half an apple will look like.
  4. Cut the apple in half from top to bottom to create an apple silhouette, or create a circle with a star by cutting the apple horizontally. You and your child can also brainstorm ways to create different shapes with the apple.
  5. Encourage your child to dip the flat side of the apple in the paint, thoroughly covering the flat surface, and then place the apple with the paint side down on the printing surface.
  6. Enjoy creating fun designs and pictures with your homemade stamps!

 

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

Sufficient Hydration is Necessary for a Healthy Lifestyle

Most of us are concerned that our children have good eating habits to ensure proper growth; however, not many of us put as much thought into the amount of water our little ones consume. What is the proper amount of water for children?

Water is not a one size fits all commodity. The amount of water children need depends on their age, weight and gender.Although there is not an exact number, we all could use a little more H2O to keep us on the go.

Here are some tips to increase your child’s water consumption.

·         The most efficient and effective way to boost your child’s water intake is to always have it available. Whether he is at home, at school or playing outdoors, make sure your child is always within reach of water.

 

·         Encourage your child to drink water by simply placing it in front of him without any alternative options. If he does not have soda or other sugary beverages around him, he will be more likely to drink the water without a fuss.

 

·         Increase your child’s consumption of fruits and vegetables that contain large volumes of water, such as strawberries, oranges, watermelon and cucumbers.

 

·         Be a good example; increase your water intake as well. This will not only keep you on track with how much water you consume, but watching you drink water will ensure that your child will want to drink it too.

 

Staying hydrated helps children focus better in school, brightens their mood and improves their performance in day to day activities.

Grab a glass of water for you and your little one, and start increasing your intake today.

Hazelnut Granola Apple Wedges

Your little one have a craving for a sweet snack? Stay healthy while satisfying your child’s appetite with some hazelnut granola apple wedges!

Ingredients: 

  • 1 large apple
  • Hazelnut spread
  • Low-fat granola

Cut the apple into wedges. Holding each wedge by the skin side, spread it with hazelnut spread. Sprinkle granola on hazelnut spread-covered area. Substitute peanut butter (or any nut butter)for hazelnut spread if you’d like. Also feel free to add raisins!

 

*An adult should oversee all recipes and activities. Recipes and activities may not be appropriate for all ages.

Fourth of July Fun

It’s the time of year when family and friends join together for barbecues and fireworks. Whether it is a publicly held event or a celebration in your own backyard, the Fourth of July allows for lots of fun and various activities for all ages.

When searching for that perfect spot to lay down a blanket to view the fireworks, consider that fireworks may not be suitable for all children. While many adults enjoy this holiday, loud noises and bright lights can be frightening and overwhelming for young children.

Before attending any event that involves fireworks, discuss with your child what fireworks are and why people enjoy them. Show him videos of fireworks going off so he has a better idea of what to expect. It is normal for children to have a natural fear of loud unknown noises, and some children may also be afraid of fireworks falling on them. Be prepared to help him cope with his concerns.

While waiting for the sky to get dark enough for the fireworks to start, some children may become bored. Here are some activities that will help her stay occupied:

·         Play eye spy with her. In this way you can incorporate learning through play by asking her to find items that are specific colors and shapes;

·         Bring paper and crayons, and ask your child to draw pictures of what she thinks the fireworks will look like. This also may make her feel more comfortable about the anticipated display;

·         Provide outdoor equipment for games and activities such as balls, kites and jump ropes to keep your child engaged while she is having fun. Do not forget the snacks and water.

 What are some activities your family does on the Fourth of July?

Five Tips For Healthy Eating

  • Offer encouragement – Encourage your child to eat a variety of foods to help them get the nutrients they need from each food group.  By doing so, they are more likely to enjoy trying new foods!
  • Be a good role model – It’s no surprise that children are likely to mimic their parents’ food choices.  If your children see you enjoying fruits, vegetables and whole grains, they will more likely enjoy them as well.
  • Stock up on healthy choices – Make sure that your cupboards and refrigerator are filled with healthy options rather than prepackaged foods filled with sugar and sodium. Read food labels before purchasing so you know exactly what’s in the foods you are buying—just because it’s made with whole grains doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy.
  • Serve balanced portions – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has turned the Food Pyramid into a plate. The USDA’s MyPlate illustrates balanced portion sizes for the five foods groups—Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Protein and Dairy—in a familiar way by using a standard mealtime place setting.
  • Follow a schedule – Set a daily schedule for meals and snacks (3 meals & 1-2 snacks per day is recommended), with plenty of time between each.  This will help children learn the importance of structured eating and help them to stay feeling full throughout the day.

The Importance of Father’s Day

Each year, the third Sunday in June is a day dedicated to showing our dads just how important they are. We should remember to appreciate our fathers for everything they do for us year-round, but Father’s Day is a great opportunity to make sure they know how much we love them. While it is important to spend this day with Dad, however, don’t forget to showGrandpa and your uncle some love, too. This can be done with a phone call or by sending a card or small gift.

If you cannot be with Grandpa or your uncle on Father’s Day, plan a trip to make up for it. Fishing and camping trips are wonderful ways to step away from reality and focus on family bonding. As for Dad, ask him how he would like to spend Father’s Day with the family. Some ideas include mini golfing, a child-friendly construction activity such as building a bird house or simply playing catch in the backyard. And lastly, be sure to tell Dad how much you love and appreciate him and everything he has done for you.

What are some activities your family does to celebrate Father’s Day?

Five Ways to Make Family Meal Preparation Easier

Sitting down to dinner with your family is great. You can recap your days, spend some time together and have some laughs. Between work, school and extracurricular activities, though, finding the time to sit down together can be challenging. Here are five ways to make preparing family meals easier.

 

  1. Prepare meals beforehand. Make a lot of a particular dish over the weekend and serve it throughout the week. For example, make a double batch of a casserole or a big batch of soup or chili and serve it every other day so you don’t have to worry about cooking on those nights.
  2. “Cheat” when you cook. Using frozen or pre-cut veggies and other prepared foods is an excellent way to save time when you cook. Also, a slow cooker lets you cook a full meal with less preparation.
  3. Keep meals simple. Plenty of fast, easy meals are also delicious and nutritious. The internet has a treasure trove of recipes to suit your family, your wallet, your schedule and your taste buds.
  4. Have breakfast for dinner. In a pinch, serve scrambled eggs, toast and fruit. Waffles or pancakes are easy, too. Eating mostly healthy foods is important, but sitting down with your family is important, too.
  5. Make dinner as a family. Having help can cut down on meal preparation time. Children can stir and roll out dough, and they can mix the vegetables you chopped into a salad. Cooking together is also a terrific bonding activity.