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Posts Tagged ‘Outdoor play’

Play in the Park

Parks are a great place to encourage outdoor play. Instead of sitting inside watching television or playing on a tablet, plan a day at the park with your little one. Bring lunch, water and snacks so you and your child can enjoy the outdoors all day.

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A few activities to get you started for the day can include playing Frisbee, playing catch and jumping rope. Try to gather a group of children and their parents for a friendly game of whiffle ball. If your park has a walking trail, bring a notebook and ask your child to draw things that you see along the way. Take photos of unique animals, flowers or trees and research them at home for a nice cool-down activity.

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What are some activities you and your children do at the park?

Sufficient Hydration is Necessary for a Healthy Lifestyle

20120920_goddard_TN_0207Most 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 she 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 her without any alternative options. If she does not have soda or other sugary beverages around her, she 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.

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.

Five Ways to Fend Off Your Child’s Boredom

Sooner or later, your child may utter the phrase “I’m bored.” Should that time come, here are five ways to help your child learn how to entertain herself.

  1. Make a boredom box. Sit down with your child and brainstorm a list of different things she likes to do. Then, write each idea on a different slip of paper and put them all in a shoebox or jar. If your child gets bored, take out the box and ask her to pick out an activity (without peeking).Puzzle_jpg
  2. Play a game. It doesn’t matter whether you play a card game, a board game or a word game as long as you play it together. It will help to alleviate his boredom and strengthen family bonds.
  3. Ask your child to help you with chores. Some children love to help with housework, such as dusting and cleaning. You can make a game out of seeing who can fold the laundry the fastest or who can sweep up more dust.
  4. Head outside. Take a walk, go on a geocache hunt or play catch if your child is old enough. Just remember to bring water and use sunscreen.
  5. Let your child be bored. Some artists and writers say that boredom inspires creativity. Boredom might inspire your child to try an activity she hasn’t explored before. Who knows? Boredom may bring out your child’s inner Picasso!

Five Ways to Prevent “Summer Slide”

Summer is an awesome time of year. It’s full of family get-togethers, trips to the pool and vacations. With all that awesomeness, though, sometimes learning falls by the wayside. Research has shown that some children experience summer learning loss, also known as “summer slide” because their minds aren’t as engaged as they are during the school year. You can help to keep your child’s brain active and prevent summer slide with these five fun learning activities:

  1. Read, read, read. Read to your child or encourage him to read for twenty minutes every day. Taking a trip to the library on hot, humid or rainy days can be fun, too. Also, listening to audio books is great during car trips.
  2. Learn a new word every week. Make this a game by seeing who can use the new word the most times throughout the week. You can even make a scoreboard and stick it on the fridge. Encourage your child to look through a picture dictionary to pick out new words.
  3. Get cooking. Cooking with your child is a fun way to teach your child math and reading skills as well as how to follow instructions. Look through a cookbook with your little one, and ask him what he would like to make.
  4. Hit the road. Take a field trip to a museum, a zoo or an aquarium. Before you go, read a book with your child about the sights at your destination. When you return, you and your child can write a journal entry about your adventures.
  5. Go outside. Embrace the nice weather and go on a hike, nature walk or bike ride. Pack a magnifying glass and/or binoculars, and take breaks along the way to take a closer look at things. You and your little one can even take notes on interesting objects or animals and look up more information about them online or in an encyclopedia when you get home.

Summer Sun and Heat Safety Tips

Keeping cool throughout hot summer months can be a challenge, especially in hotter and more humid climates. Tune in to the weather reports on exceptionally hot and humid days and share the tips below with your family.

Apply Sunscreen before Leaving the House

Whether you are headed to the pool, the beach or your back yard, make sure you apply sunscreen to yourself and your children. Don’t miss the tops of the ears and the hands. When applying sunscreen to the skin around the eyes, try using a tear-free sunscreen specially formulated for the face. Sunburns can occur in fifteen minutes of sun exposure and can even occur on cloudy days, so applying sunscreen before heading out and reapplying sunscreen throughout the day is important.

Keep Activity Levels Low When the Humidity Is High

Stay safe on extremely hot and humid days by keeping an eye on weather advisories and the Heat Index graph the National Weather Service publishes. If your children play outside in humid weather, have them come inside and drink water every fifteen minutes.

Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate.

Children should typically drink five to eight cups of water every day, depending on how active they are.  On extremely hot and humid days, offer your children more than the recommended daily amount, especially before, during and after physical activity. Since children model their behavior on ours, we need to make sure we’re getting enough water every day, too.

Know the Signs of Heat Exhaustion

Normal reactions to hot weather include heavy sweating, a red face, heavy breathing, thirst and muscle cramps. However, if your child exhibits these reactions along with dizziness, fainting, clamminess, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and/or a lack of sweat, your child might have heat exhaustion. If your child shows any of these symptoms, take your child indoors or to a shady spot and give your child plenty of water or an electrolyte drink. If the symptoms do not subside in an hour, seek the help of a doctor.  Keep your child indoors until all the symptoms clear up and your child is feeling better.

Play Indoors

If it is too hot and humid for outside play, try one of these simple indoor activities.

  • Create an indoor beach day. Unpack your beach towels, sunglasses and hats. Fill a large plastic bin with sand from your sand box or from a home improvement store. Put the bin on a blanket or sheet to catch any sand that may spill. Toss some beach toys in the bin and let your children play in the sand while enjoying your air conditioning.  Grab some favorite beach treats like ice cream sandwiches or popsicles.  Better yet, make your own ice cream sandwiches with chocolate chip cookies and your favorite flavor of ice cream.
  • Go fishing. Craft your own indoor fishing game by cutting a big piece of blue felt into a round shape, like a pond or lake. Lay the blue felt flat on the floor. Cut felt or cardstock into fish shapes and punch a small hole in the mouth area of each. Tie a lightweight washer to the mouth of each fish with yarn or twine.  Create a fishing rod with a stick from your yard or a dowel from a craft store. Tie one end of a long strand of yarn or twine to the end of the stick or dowel and tie a ring magnet to the other end of the yarn. Toss the fish in the pond and have your little ones take turns fishing. (You can also buy indoor fishing games online.)
  • Build a “sand” castle. Use blocks to build a castle with your children. Try different configurations and take pictures of each to capture your indoor beach day memories.

What do you do with your children when it is too hot to play outside?

Camping-Inspired Birthday Party Ideas

Whether you grew up taking family camping trips or have never been camping in your life, a backyard campout for a birthday party can be fun and exciting for children and parents.  Once the children are old enough for sleepovers, a camping-inspired birthday party can create some great memories for you, your child and your child’s friends.

  • Prepare s’mores and wrap them in foil. You can bake The Goddard Schoolthem in the oven for a yummy snack or bake a s’mores-inspired cake;
  • Use clean, old tree stumps as refreshments stands;
  • Use bandanas as napkins or placemats;
  • Create a homemade, nut-free trail mix with various dried fruits, yogurt-covered raisins and sunflower seeds. Send small bags home as party favors;
  • Create a scavenger hunt. Have the children look for acorns, pine cones, leaves, etc.
  • Make pine cone bird feeders and let the children each take theirs home to tie in a tree;
  • Get a few bins of Lincoln Logs and have children craft their own log cabin creations;
  • Create a faux campfire with thick twigs collected from your yard or a bundle of firewood, and add crumpled-up yellow and red tissue paper on top;
  • Use twine and an old cardboard box to make a Welcome Campers or Camp Birthday [Child’s Name] sign;
  • In lieu of gifts, ask party guests to donate to your favorite national park;
  • Set up a large white sheet or projection screen in the yard and use a projector to show a movie under the stars;
  • Set up a few hammocks around your yard for the kids;
  • Stock a wooden crate with decks of cards, puzzles and other fun, camp-friendly games and activities.
  • Set up a fun morning buffet with your child’s favorite breakfast foods.

Happy camping!

Spring Scavenger Hunt with your Toddler and Preschooler

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If you’ve spent a lot of time indoors this winter, now is the time to get out and enjoy the great outdoors again! How about welcoming spring by going on a scavenger hunt around your yard and neighborhood and seeing how many signs of spring your family can find? Look—or listen—for some of these things:

  • A caterpillar
  • A robin
  • Baby bunnies
  • Bike riders
  • Birds’ nests
  • Birds chirping
  • Car windows rolled down
  • Children playing outside
  • Crocuses blooming
  • Frogs or toads
  • House windows open
  • Leaves budding on trees
  • People taking a walk
  • Plants emerging
  • Someone washing their car

Taste the Chill

Homemade frozen treats are a great way to beat the heat this summer. Here are a few simple treats you and your child can make together to cool down on the hottest of summer days.

  • Frozen Fruit Pops: Use frozen berries and/or fresh fruit and experiment with different combinations. Blend your fruit of choice in a blender with a bit of all-natural fruit juice and pour into ice cube trays. After the cubes have set up for a few minutes, insert Popsicle sticks into each one and freeze completely. When ready, pop them out one by one and enjoy!
  • “Ice Cream” Sandwiches: Spread a bit of sugar free Cool Whip on a graham cracker and top with another graham cracker. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze. When completely frozen, unwrap and savor your tasty “ice cream” sandwich creation!
  • Frozen Bananas: Peel a banana and cut it into two pieces. Insert a Popsicle stick in the flat end of each piece of banana. Use a butter knife or spatula to cover the banana with your choice of peanut, soy or sunflower butter; honey or chocolate syrup and roll in granola, whole grain cereal or chopped nuts. Place the bananas on a tray covered with parchment paper and freeze. Children will “go bananas” for this fun frozen treat!

Outdoor Activities & Park Play with Your Children

A day at the park may seem like ‘just another day,’ but learning and bonding experiences flourish at the park!

Pack for Safety

Include drinking water, sunscreen, hat, water to wash as well as wipes for hands, sneakers or other closed-toed shoes, a change of clothes or a towel for the seat, small first aid kit for those little scrapes and a small trash bag to keep the earth litter free.

Expect to Get Dirty

Going outside is about the freedom to explore and the only way to explore is to touch it, and yes, it is dirty–it’s outside! Dirty does not mean ‘germy.’ Roll in the grass, stomp in the mud, touch the frog and splash in the puddles.

Infants & Teacher with Bubbles CInfant to Six Months

  • Pack for safety: A blanket to crawl on and a sturdy pair of pants for crawling on rough surfaces. Be prepared to change diapers on the go.
  • Be prepared to climb and crawl yourself. This is the best way for you to ensure your child’s safety. Watch for items going into your child’s mouth.
  • Hydration: The outside air and activity increases the amount of fluids you both need to consume. And while you’re packing the water, pack a snack.
  • Point, name and describe: As your child explores, point out the details; name objects and talk about your experience.

First Steps (12 to 18 months)

  • Pack for safety: Bring a blanket and a sturdy pair of pants for crawling on rough surfaces. This is not the place for skirts or dresses.
  • Plan for breaks and pack snacks, water and a few books.
  • Dig and touch: Collect items to further explore when you get home.
  • Walk the trail with your little one on a riding toy. Don’t forget the helmet.
  • Park Play Etiquette: If your little one finds a playmate, ask the other parent if both of you may join in the play. Your child will learn to ask for your approval before playing with strangers and the parent of the other child will appreciate this overture.

Toddler and Get Set (18 to 36 months)

  • Plot the potty path!
  • Bring balls to throw and kick or bean bags and a bucket.
  • Move beyond the park and walk a trail or explore a nursery. Go to the stream, lake or pond and skip rocks. Turn the rocks over to find creepy, crawly things.
  • No breaks required–but pause for a moment to re-hydrate.
  • Look through binoculars–even two toilet paper tubes offer a new view of the world.
  • Tent it! A pop-up tent is an instant playhouse.
  • Take an umbrella and put on your galoshes–take a walk in the light rain.

Preschool to Pre-K (36 months +)

  • Lie down and look up: Children like to see the world from a different perspective.
  • Picnic: Let your child be a part of packing the necessities and preparing the sandwiches.
  • Play “I Spy” or “I Hear.”
  • Read or draw under the trees.
  • Bring a magnifying cup for bugs and objects to view. Research your bugs and objects when you return home to learn more about each.

Go outside all year long–visit http://www.scdconline.org/PDF_files/weatherwatch.pdf to know what is considered safe outdoor weather for children.