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Archive for July, 2019

Six Summertime Water Activities – No Pool Required!

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Summer is in full swing, which means it’s time to soak up the sun. When the temperature gets a little too hot, cool down with some of these fun water activities.

  1. Make a toy car wash. Break out a bucket of soapy water and the hose. Your little ones will love dunking their waterproof toys into a bucket of bubbles and then spraying them clean. They may have more fun playing with the hose, so make sure you’re wearing swim clothes. If you prefer not to use a hose, fill a separate bucket with clean water for rinsing the toys;2
  2. Water the garden. Children love to help, so why not enlist them to help water your flowers? Fill a child-size watering can and show your children how to water plants; 3
  3. Build a homemade water wall. Check out this DIY water wall from Happy Hooligans. You can make one from recyclable items found around the house;4
  4. Play with bubbles. Bubbles are just plain fun for children and adults. You can buy them or make your own using the recipe found in this article. Kick bubble-play up a notch with some experiments. Get your children’s hands wet and blow bubbles onto their palms. They’ll squeal with delight when the bubbles don’t pop;5
  5. Draw with watercolor sidewalk chalk. Drawing with sidewalk chalk is fun, but it’s even more fun with water. Let your children draw with chalk, then give them a bucket of water and a large paintbrush and have them paint over their drawings. They can also dip the chalk into the water first and then draw with the wet chalk. Ask them about the differences between drawing with wet and dry chalk;6
  6. Make mud pies. Let the children get their hands dirty by making mud pies. This simple activity is always a big hit. (“You mean I get to be wet and filthy?”) Create a make-believe outdoor kitchen where children can “bake” muddy delights.7

What are some of your favorite summertime water activities?

Painting with Bubbles

untitled-design-1Inspire your child’s inner Picasso with bubble painting. This activity works best outside, which will make your little ones even happier.

Supplies

  • Bubble soap
  • Food coloring
  • Bubble wands
  • Cups and trays
  • Paper
  • Aprons (optional)
  • Plastic tablecloth (optional)

Directions

  1. To prevent stains, cover the table or ground with a plastic tablecloth, and put on aprons.
  2. Place sheets of paper on the tablecloth or directly on the table or ground.
  3. Set out the cups and trays, and pour bubble solution into each one.
  4. Add a few drops of food coloring to each cup or tray of bubble soap.
  5. Stir the bubble soap briefly to mix the colors into the soap.
  6. Dip the wands into the bubble mix, and blow bubbles onto the paper.
  7. Let the paper dry and enjoy your creations!

Bubbles and paint combined make happy children.

Five Ways to Ease the Back to School Transition

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Starting school can be scary for children and parents too, but with the proper precautions, it can be a fun, new experience for both your child and you.

1. Tour the school with your child beforehand.

Introduce your child to her future surroundings and show her that there is nothing to fear. She will feel more comfortable attending her first day if she has an idea of what to expect.

2. Practice the new routine with your child.

Your child will not be familiar with the routine of his new school. Collaborate with the school and find out what he will be doing during the day, at lunchtime, recess, naptime, etc. Start getting him into that routine at home by saying, “This is what you will be doing when you start school as a big boy!” If your child has lunch at home at the same time as lunchtime occurs in school, he will feel more comfortable eating lunch at lunchtime in school.

3. Talk to your child about getting along with classmates.

While we cannot imagine anyone being mean or rude to our little ones, sometimes children do not get along with others. It is important to explain to your child that he should not get upset if there are issues with other classmates such as not sharing or not being included. Talk to your child about proper etiquette with other classmates and tell him that he can and should always talk to his teacher if he is feeling sad or left out.

4. Discuss using the bathroom and practicing proper lavatory hygiene with your child.

A lot of children do not feel comfortable using the school bathroom. When starting school for the first time, your child may be afraid to go. However, having an accident can be very embarrassing for children. Before school starts, explain to your child that she will need to use the bathroom and wash her hands without your being there. Mention it a couple times a week so that she becomes familiar with the idea.

When you bring your child to the bathroom on her first day of school, ask her if she would like to use the bathroom before you leave. She will feel more comfortable in this unfamiliar bathroom with you there.

Explain to your child that he must approach his teacher and tell her when he needs to go to the bathroom. Seeing you clarify this with his teacher will make him feel comfortable about going to the bathroom with her. If your child is shy about needing to use the bathroom, inform his teacher of this so she can ask him periodically if he needs to go.

5. Listen to your child.

Before your child starts school, ask her questions about how she feels.

  • What does she think school will be like?
  • What are some of her worries?
  • What excites her about going to school?

Asking these questions will give you an idea of what your child is expecting and how to help her cope with her fears. After addressing her concerns, come up with solutions to help ease her nerves. End the conversation with what she is expecting. This will leave her cheerful about her first day of school rather than concerned about it.

Thumbprint Flag Card

Create a thumbprint flag card to celebrate the Fourth of July.

Materials

  • A red stamp pad with washable ink
  • A blue stamp pad with washable ink
  • A blank white note card
  • A note card envelope
  • Painter’s tape (optional)

Instructions

  1. Use painter’s tape or your envelope to cover the top left corner of the note card to save space for the stars on the flag.
  2. Use the red stamp pad to create the red stripes of the flag. Press your thumb onto the stamp pad, and then press it onto the bottom left corner of the note card. Continue pressing your thumb down in a horizontal row until you reach the bottom right corner, re-inking your thumb as needed. Move your thumb about half an inch above the red stripe, making sure to leave white space between the red lines, and repeat the process. Continue creating rows of red thumbprints until you reach the top of the card. Avoid the covered section.
  3. Clean your thumb and remove the painter’s tape or envelope from the top left corner of the note card.
  4. Use the blue stamp pad to create the stars on the flag. Press your thumb onto the stamp pad, and then press it to the top left corner of the front of the note card. Create a square border, and then add blue thumbprints to the center of the square, leaving some white showing through the blue to mimic the stars of the flag.

Once the ink has dried for a few minutes, open the card and write an appreciative note to a friend. Then, place the note card in the envelope, address it, stamp it and send it!

Five Ways to Introduce Your Children to Other Cultures Through Language

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On July 30, 2011, the U.N. General Assembly proclaimed this day to be the International Day of Friendship to inspire harmony between people, cultures, communities and countries, to generate new peace efforts and to increase understanding between communities.

A major part of getting along with people from other cultures is learning to appreciate and understand their differences. Children are highly influenced by their parents when it comes to understanding other cultures. What you teach your little ones about people from different cultures usually sticks with them for the rest of their lives. I remember my mother practicing French with me when I was very young. I still remember singing “Frere Jacques” with her. Now, I’m fluent in three languages. My time practicing French with her inspired me to learn other languages. Even if your children don’t become fluent in another language, introducing them to another language will open the door to their understanding of other cultures.

When I was teaching foreign languages, I used the following techniques for the children to have fun learning the new language. These activities will not only introduce your children to another language but introduce them to the culture of the people who speak that language. Be sure to choose a culture that you know about and stick to that language.

  1. Find a movement song in the target language online that your children already know in English, such as “Head and Shoulders; Knees and Toes,” which in Spanish is “Cabeza y hombros; rodillas y pies.” Do the movements and sing the song to the music with them.
  2. Do a word exchange with your children. Every week assign your children a new word in the target language and have them use it in place of the English word for an entire week. Reward them with praise every time they use the new word. If you choose to use the French language, you could have them say, la porte instead of the door, and when appropriate you can say, “Ferme la porte” instead of “Close the door.”
  3. Find a picture book in the target language that you and your child have read in English. You can google “children’s fairy tales in German” or you can find children’s picture books in other languages. Make sure your children already know the story and then read the book together with them while looking at the pictures. For example, you can purchase “Schneewittchen” (Snow White) from Amazon online.
  4. Take your children to a restaurant where the food is in the target language, such as a pizzeria, taqueria or gasthaus, and hopefully, the staff there will be familiar with the target language,
  5. And finally, talk to the enrichment teacher at your children’s School for some other excellent ideas to expand your children’s understanding of other cultures.

When you practice these activities don’t worry if your pronunciation isn’t perfect. You are not teaching them to be linguists; you are expanding their understanding of the world we live in.

Summertime Learning in Museums

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By Helen Shwe Hadani, Ph.D.
Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Summer is here, and for many families, that means a shift in their schedules.  Hopefully that shift is to more relaxed mornings, long afternoons by the pool and spontaneous outings to parks, beaches, zoos and museums, which are all great places for playful learning. Science centers and children’s museums, in particular, are perfect destinations for parents, caregivers and children seeking a break from the heat and a chance to learn something new.

While the term “museum” may not bring fun, hands-on, interactive experiences to mind, many children’s museums and science centers have reinvented themselves to provide these types of experiences for children as young as toddlers.  When visiting museums with your toddler, preschooler or older child, keep the following in mind to make the most of your visit.

  • Let your children take the lead. Child-directed experiences motivate children to learn because they are engaging in activities for the joy of the experience, (i.e., intrinsic motivation) not for a reward. Research suggests that making choices promotes intrinsic motivation, which boosts creativity. Additionally, letting your children play a role in planning your outing helps them develop important decision-making skills;
  • Encourage your children to take risks. One of the hardest things to do as a parent is to let your children take risks, but letting them test their capabilities and push their limits are critical components of learning and other creative processes. Children can take physical and social risks in a museum setting. They might have the chance to climb high obstacles; use their fine motor skills to work with a new tool; or cut, shape and take apart objects in a museum program. They will also have the opportunity to share or collaborate with other children whom they have never met;
  • Allow time to explore and be creative. Research speaks to the value of providing opportunities for young children to experiment with a range of ideas and actions and then work out the consequences. Try to leave enough time in your museum visit for your children to engage in what researchers call exploratory play. Taking part in open-ended exploration and tinkering often lead to further questions. Museum activities are designed to be open-ended so children have time to generate, test and revise theories about how things work. Ask your children questions, such as “What do you notice about that machine?” or “How do you think that works?” to guide their learning and deepen their thinking.

10 Tried and True Tips for Traveling with Little Ones!

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By Kyle Pruett, M.D.
Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Many of you may worry about traveling in the summer with your little ones. It can be stressful, but it can also be fun and leave you with wonderful memories.

We debated whether to take our preschoolers with us on a rare opportunity: a work trip to Hawaii. It meant laying waste to the beloved routines we counted on to manage two working schedules and the endless demands of raising two little, active people. We decided to go for it and jumped in feet first.

Within days, our daughter was floating alongside me on a small raft with a see-through window in a quiet lagoon and watching turtles scuttle along underneath her in the waist-deep water. Excitedly, she raised herself on her hands, shouted, “Turtles!” and promptly upset her balance. Years later, after many retellings, all she remembers is the allure of the swimming turtles that inspired her to pass her open water scuba certification and nothing of her unexpected swim. Thank you, limits of childhood memory. We wouldn’t trade those times and are glad we chose to bring our children along on the trip.

The U.S. Travel Association surveyed 2,500 adults and 1,000 youth about family memories and found that the most vivid memories of family life were often centered on vacations, even when the details were fuzzy. The best way to enjoy a trip is to be prepared, relax, and enjoy the missteps along the way. Here are ten tried and true tips that can help:

  1. Plan the activities with your older children and share the plans with the whole family. When children know what to expect, they are less stressed, just like their parents.
  2. Bring familiar items in an activity bag. Include games, crayons, paper, and books. Try not to rely too much on screen time.
  3. Open itineraries rule; children can’t take ten steps on the beach without finding something dead that they need to investigate. Patience: scientists are at work!
  4. Take bathroom breaks everywhere you stop, which you should do frequently (unless everyone is happy).
  5. Talk, talk, and talk some more. Explain what you are seeing to your children. Ask them questions. Share stories that relate to what you are seeing and doing.
  6. For plane travel, walk the aisles and terminals, and bring along training pants for longer flights.
  7. Keep healthy. Pack sunscreen, bug spray, After Bite, bandages and more.
  8. Don’t go hungry. Pack small, healthful snacks in case someone’s blood sugar gets low, or the children decide they are hungry in the middle of an activity.
  9. Don’t over-plan activities. You will find you can enjoy the day more and stay relaxed. Long days of sightseeing aren’t recommended for young children.
  10. Take pictures and make memory books to share and look at with your children before bedtime when you get home.