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Archive for June, 2016

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, twenty20_685fa3e1-fa9e-4338-9905-001d04b7affathe 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?

Family Vacations: Keeping Your Child Occupied While Traveling

For many of us, summer means family vacations, which often include long car rides.

When we talk about our destination and all the fun activities we have planned, everyone gets very excited and counts the Little Travelerdays until departure. Finally, the day arrives, and our whole family is finished packing and is getting ready to leave the house. The car is loaded and we pile inside. Half an hour later, we hear the inevitable: “I’m bored,” “I’m hungry” and “Are we there yet?”

It is normal for children to feel this way. Sitting in the back seat with little to do can make a long trip seem endless. If we, as adults, sometimes have a hard time sitting in the car for too long, how can we expect children to enjoy it? The answer is to plan fun activities that will help pass the time.

Keep your child occupied for the duration of the car ride by bringing headphones for music and movies, books, stuffed animals, coloring books, crayons, pillows and blankets. Bring a variety of snacks and drinks. Depending on how long the ride will be, you should make a few rest stops along the way so your child can stretch and use the restroom. This breaks up the journey so the ride does not seem as long.

Interact with your child so she does not feel isolated in the back seat. Talk about how much fun she is going to have and what she is going to do when you arrive. Child-friendly podcasts can encourage conversations among all family members and help pass time quickly.

You can also practice the alphabet. Ask your child to point out signs with words that start with each letter of the alphabet in order, such as A for Applebee’s, B for bus stop and C for church. This game is fun and challenging, and it takes up a lot of time.

What are some ways you pass the time with your little ones on long car rides?

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:Beach Girl

  • 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!

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 twenty20_0ebc9527-d7cb-434a-86e1-6d4a3039c5a8remember 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 show Grandpa 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?

Gardening with Your Children

Even as an adult, I am awed by watching seeds germinate. I check my pots every morning in case a squash plant has grown an inch overnight.

As you begin your spring planting this year, plan ways to include your children. They will also be amazed by how seeds Boy Gardeninggrow into plants. You can talk about life cycles, nutrition and the environment. This helps them learn concepts in science, but you can also help them learn about math, language and other subjects.  Some specific examples of these lessons include the following:

Let them get dirty.

Let your children play in the dirt, especially if they are under three years old. It is important for children to explore the texture of the soil and the plants. They will learn how to mold soil, to change its shape and volume and to contain a mess within a safe space for free exploration. These types of hands-on experiences help children make concrete connections to words and experiences.  Sensory based play and exploration will cultivate your children’s physical development, especially the important small muscles in their hands and the tendons in their fingers.

Teach them how to nurture.

Your children will love taking care of plants and watching them grow. Preschool age children enjoy jobs that create a sense of responsibility.  Working in a garden helps them see the fruits of their efforts, leading to a sense of pride and accomplishment. Talk to your children about the needs of the plants including food, water and sunlight. For children who are three years old and older, you can begin a conversation that compares what plants and people need to live. Your children can learn fundamental social and emotional skills like empathy, communication, cooperation and learn to identify and express feelings while gardening.

Incorporate math.

While gardening, your children can learn fundamental math skills like patterns, sequences and numeracy. Consider the following activities.

  • Patterns
    You can plan the garden with your children by grouping similar seeds together. You can plant the vegetables in rows or you can plant the flowers by color. Once the garden is growing, you can help your children to notice patterns by asking questions like these: “Which plants have thick stems? Which have thin stems?” and “How are these two plants the same?”
  • Sequences
    Track the growth of plants with your children over time. Ask them questions about the order in which parts of the plants grow. You can ask, “Which leaves grow first?” or “What grows before the flower blooms?”
  • Numeracy
    While observing your garden, ask your children to count the different parts of a plant as it grows. For example, you might ask, “How many leaves are there now?” Model and use comparison words like bigger, more than and faster.  Measure the plants with your children and talk about how much they are growing.  You can graph the height of plants over time together. Clear flowerpots can let you observe and measure the growth of roots, too.

Develop literacy.

Always engage in conversations with your children. Read books about gardens and teach them new words about plants. Teach them the language necessary to speak about how plants grow. Ask open-ended questions like “What do you see happening?” or “What do you think the garden will look like next week?” to encourage them to think and communicate about their surroundings. Use a photo album or a three-ring binder with page protectors to create a book about your gardening experiences.  You can review past experiences and encourage verbal and written language skills by reading it together. Your children can also use their creative skills to draw illustrations and decorate the cover.

At the end of the summer, we hope that you will have a beautiful garden and an enthusiastic, blooming gardener.

Popsicle Stick Puzzle

With Father’s Day right around the corner, here is a craft that is not only fun for children, but fun for dads, too!

Puzzle Collage

Materials

  • 8-10 large Popsicle sticks
  • White glue
  • Tape
  • Small utility knife (for the adult helper’s use only!)
  • A copy of a favorite photo of daddy

Instructions

  1. Lay the Popsicle sticks side by side so they align at the top and bottom.
  2. Place pieces of tape along the top and bottom of all the sticks to hold them together.
  3. Flip the sticks over, center the photo and stick it to the Popsicle sticks using white glue.
  4. Place a few heavy books on top and let it dry completely.
  5. When dry, remove the tape on the back and have the adult helper use the utility knife to separate the Popsicle sticks and cut through the photo.
  6. Mix the sticks up and wrap them or bundle them together and tie a ribbon around them and give to Dad on Father’s Day!

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

Bike Readiness & Helmet Safety

During the summer months, it is important to verify bike readiness by running through this checklist to ensure your children’s safety.twenty20_fc896173-a5ae-4b99-8237-0ab82975d14a

  • Make sure their helmet still fits properly. If the helmet is too small or has previously been involved in a crash or has been damaged, replace it.
  • Clean off all the dust on the bike and check for loose parts, this includes the seat and handlebars.
  • Check and inflate the tires. Also, check for tire wear and dry rot.
  • Adjust the seat. Your children have grown since the last time they rode their bikes. When seated on the bike, your child should be able to stand on the balls of both feet.
  • Check the handlebars. They should be easy to grasp without leaning forward.
  • Make sure the brakes are working properly and there is no wear.
  • Buy the appropriate sized bike. Never buy a bike that your child will “grow into.”

Bike Helmet Safety

Many children do not like wearing helmets because they fear they are “uncool.” Because of this, it is important to have your children start wearing a helmet with their first tricycles or play vehicles to get them in the habit. Let your children know you expect them to wear a helmet every time they ride. Be a role model and wear a helmet when you ride your bike; your children are more likely to wear a helmet if they see you demonstrating good safety.

Allowing your children to choose their own helmet will increase the probability that they will want to wear it. Make sure when purchasing a new helmet that it is the correct size. Never buy a helmet that your child will “grow into.”

  • The helmet should sit level on your child’s head. It should be low on the forehead, about one or two finger widths above their eyebrows.
  • Adjust the straps so they meet in a “V” right under each ear.
  • Adjust the chinstrap snugly under the chin so that no more than one or two fingers fit under the strap. Keep the helmet tight enough so the helmet pulls down when you child opens his or her mouth.
  • Always make sure helmet straps are buckled when your child is riding.

Summertime Essentials

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetThe weather is getting warmer, and summer is rapidly approaching. Since summer is the season for fun in the sun, a few essential items can help your children through the hot summer months.

  • Sunscreen is necessary because protecting your child’s skin from the sun is extremely important;
  • Children may also need sunglasses to shield their eyes from the UVA and UVB rays in sunlight. This awesome accessory allows a child to protect her eyes while looking fashionably cute doing it! Be sure to consider a hat as well;
  • Once your children are protected from the sun, it is time to get outside and play. Consider:
    • Using chalk for creative drawings and games like hopscotch with friends and family members;
    • Using spray bottles for watering plants and for cooling off with exciting water games;
    • Capturing and examining bugs with a net and an insect container. Children love venturing outside to look for butterflies and other insects. When your child captures an insect, talk with him about what he has caught, and then release the creature back into its natural surroundings.

How does your family enjoy playtime outdoors?