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Archive for the ‘Children’ Category

Beach Scavenger Hunt

The beach is a perfect stage for playful learning. You can develop a scavenger hunt for your family to enjoy at the beach. You may decide to see how many items you can each check off in one day or consider extending the hunt for the length of your trip.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • a blue beach towel
  • pink sandals
  • a kite
  • a beach ball
  • a sand castle
  • a sail boat
  • a jet ski
  • a seagull
  • a green bathing suit
  • a dog
  • seaweed
  • a striped beach towel
  • a beach umbrella
  • a blimp
  • an airplane
  • a shell

You can alter your list depending on where you are vacationing and what items are age appropriate for your child. The possibilities are endless!

Fourth of July Fun!

Four fun crafts for the Fourth

  1. The American Flag

Take a white sheet of construction paper and place it lengthwise on a table. Assist your child to cut out seven red stripes 0.62 in. wide and one blue rectangle 3.5 in. wide by 3.75 in. long from construction paper. Glue the rectangle lengthwise on the upper left corner of the white sheet, and then glue the stripes 0.62 inches apart starting with the red so the white and red colors alternate, but do not cover the blue rectangle. Next, ask your child to draw stars in the blue rectangle. Lastly, talk with your child about why there are fifty stars and thirteen stripes on the American flag.

 

  1. Red, White and Blue Firecrackers

Gather nine popsicle sticks. (Don’t eat all the popsicles at once!) Cut out a red, a blue and a white triangle from construction paper, and pick out some fun red, white and blue string or ribbon. Next, guide your child in gluing the popsicle sticks together in sets of three, edge-to-edge, one next to the other. After they have dried, glue one triangle to the top of each set of popsicle sticks, and tape the string to the bottom. When you finish, you will have three fabulous firecrackers.

 

  1. Painted Fireworks 

This is an easy one! All you need is blue paint, red paint, tape, a white sheet of paper and seven bendy straws. Wrap tape around the non-bendy ends of the straws so they are secured together. Bend the other ends so they are sticking out in different directions. Assist your child to paint the ends, alternating with blue and red paint. Once all the ends are painted, place them down on the paper. This is a great opportunity to explain patterns to your child. Add more paint and repeat this step in different spots on the paper.

 

  1. Uncle Sam Hat

First, take a white Dixie cup and paint evenly spaced red stripes around it, alternating white and red. Next, cut a half-inch strip of blue paper and have your child paint stars from one end to the other. Once the stars have dried, glue the strip around the wide end of the cup. Lastly, cut out a circle from foam, paint it red and glue the rim of the cup to the circle.

Creative Lunch Ideas

What is a bento box?

Bento box lunches have been increasing in popularity among families with preschoolers and school-age children. Google the term “lunchbox” and you will find a wealth of resources, including blogs, Pinterest pages and online retailers selling basic and whimsical options.  Bento boxes are appealing because they provide a creative way to add a variety of foods to a child’s lunch while keeping wet foods separate from dry foods. If a parent is artistic, the child’s lunch can become a work of art.

 

 Why does it work well for school lunches?

 Bento boxes work well for school lunches and snacks because they protect food in an air-tight container and keep food groups separate. If you have a picky eater who does not like foods touching, a bento box may keep your child happy. Parents can have fun creating different lunchtime masterpieces.  Bento boxes are economical because they are reusable and help keep plastic snack and sandwich bags out of landfills.

 

What can I put in my child’s bento box?

The options are endless, but here are some ideas:

  • Sliced hard-boiled eggs;
  • A mini-bagel sandwich with almond butter, jelly or another spread;
  • Sliced strawberries, blueberries and kiwis;
  • Cheese cubes;
  • Pretzels;
  • Sliced grapes;
  • A muffin;
  • Mini-pita sandwiches filled with cheese and pepperoni;
  • Sliced pineapple;
  • Celery and carrot sticks;
  • Cucumber slices;
  • A turkey and cheese sandwich on a Hawaiian roll;
  • Veggie chips;
  • Rice molds;
  • Chickpeas and black beans;
  • Raisins and chocolate chips;
  • Sandwich rounds with ham, cheese and avocado.

 

Enjoy making bento box lunches!

Choosing a Summer Program

According to research conducted by the National Center for Summer Learning, which is based at the Johns Hopkins School of Education in Baltimore, Maryland, summer learning loss accounts for about two-thirds of the difference in the likelihood of a student pursuing a college preparatory path in high school. As these findings indicate, keeping children’s brains challenged throughout the summer is crucial, since the lack of learning that occurs during these months has both short-term and long-term consequences.

Keeping a child’s day consistent throughout the summer months keeps the brain focused and helps prevent learning losses during the summer. In addition, this can potentially ease the anxiety that often accompanies transitioning into a new classroom or school come fall.

Research has shown that programs like The Goddard School that have specific learning goals, use learning and developmental standards and are age-appropriate are ideal in preventing summer learning losses.

Tips for Choosing a Summer Program:

  • Choose a program that is based on each child’s interests and natural curiosity – this allows children the opportunity to direct their own learning.
  • Ask for credentials, experience and training of the teachers/counselors.
  • Check the health and safety practices of the program.  Make sure you are comfortable that the program will be able to handle your child’s unique needs.
  • Inquire about the daily schedule of the program.  Does the program combine songs, stories, exploration, art, physical activities and learning adventures in a safe, nurturing environment? Ask how much freedom a child has to choose activities.
  • Ask for references.

Bean and Cheese Tacos

Looking for a quick and easy dinner idea?

Ingredients

  • 15-oz can of pinto beans, rinsed
  • 15-oz can of black beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup mild salsa
  • 1 heart of romaine lettuce
  • Taco shells (hard or soft)
  • Low-fat shredded cheddar cheese

Combine beans and salsa in a microwave-safe bowl, then heat 1 to 2 minutes or until hot. Tear the lettuce into bite-size pieces. Spoon the bean mixture into each taco shell, top with lettuce and cheese.

 

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

Four Ways to Encourage Physical Activity

Physical activity and exercise are essential to your child’s development. Dr. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and member of The Goddard School Educational Advisory Board, offers four tips on how to encourage physical activity.

  1. Start with yourself. Set an example by being physically active, personally and with your child, and talking about how it helps you feel and think better.
  2. Encourage your child to pick activities that she finds fun, and then suggest activities that add something to it.
  3. Whenever possible walk or ride (a bike or scooter, while wearing a helmet, of course) when you need to get somewhere nearby. Also, leave extra time to stop and smell the roses with your child. These simple times together end all too soon.
  4. Give children the space, tools and time to be physically active themselves and figure out what fun to master on their own. I want to do it myself is the battle cry of autonomy in these years and should be respected.

DIY Banana Chips

Many store-bought banana chips are loaded with added sugar and fat. Follow these simple instructions to make healthy banana chips at home.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe banana
  • Lemon juice (optional)

Slice the banana (or bananas, depending on how many chips you want) into 1/8-inch-thick rounds, and lay them on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 200 degrees F for two to three hours or until golden. Then let the chips harden at room temperature. Enjoy them as is or serve with nut butter. For an extra kick of sweetness, brush lemon juice on the banana slices before baking.

 

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

 

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