Archive for the 'Activities' Category

Educational Market Trips

Every trip the the market can be fun and educational for the little ones. Even tiny babies (assuming they are awake) can benefit from the learning possibilities while you get your grocery shopping done. Here are some tips for making your next trip to the market (or any store for that matter) fun and educational.

Babies

  • Show them their world
  • Introduce them to different shapes and colors: Red apples, round oranges, square boxes for example.
  • Keep wipes/hand sanitizer on you or within easy reach, and if your baby is old enough, let him touch different things and feel the different textures: smooth cucumbers, bumpy squash. (Make sure baby keeps things out of her mouth.)
  • Toddlers

  • Have them him and count.
  • Let her count the pears as you put them in the bag for example.
  • Continue talking with him about colors, shapes and sizes. Ask: which is bigger: a grape or a grapefruit?
  • Have her find letters on signs, boxes and wrappings.
  • Play the “I Spy” game, with older toddlers.
  • If your toddler is a walker, opposed to one who sits in the cart, let them pick some things out themselves (or go with an older sibling to do so.)
  • Now is a good time too (for older toddlers), to introduce the concept of money and that you have to pay for the things in the store before you leave with them.
  • School-aged

  • Combine what she’s learning in school with the trip to the market. If she’s studying geography for example, talk about where some things come from…bananas from Chile, oranges from Florida for example.
  • Talk about cooking with him and what the ingredients are for a ________.
  • Have her try to figure out how much the groceries will cost.
  • Have him pay, accept and count the change. (This means of course, that you’re using cash instead of a credit/debit card.)
  • Use coupons/store bonus card and have her figure out what the savings will be.
  • If he’s taking a foreign language (or you speak one at home) practice vocabulary in the foreign language about things in the store.
  • Have her guess how many bags it will take to pack all of the groceries (for a large shopping trip).
  • Discuss with him why you’re making the choices that you do as a shopper. (For example: Less expensive? Brand loyalty? Eco-friendly? You have a coupon for it?
  • Talk about why some things are taxed and others are not?
  • These are just some ways that you can turn a trip to the market into an engaging, fun and educational experience, foster communication and teach your child about their world. Come up with your own to add that work for your family.

    Posted in Parenting, Lifestyles, Activities, School and Learning, Smart Buying, Child Education, Guest Blogger | No Comments »

    Spring is time for…

    …Puddles!

    The snow is melting. The spring rains and “seasonable mixes? are falling…and that means one thing and one thing only to the little ones—puddle jumping. To parents this instills thoughts of wet shoes, socks and cuffs, mud and the germ fest that might be lurking within those growing pools around the yard and neighborhood. But to the wee ones puddles mean endless fun.

    Don’t fight it. Embrace the puddle adventures by being prepared and thinking of it all as a learning experience.

    Here are some tips for going with the flow:

    Spare Change. Keep a spare set of clean, dry socks, pants, shoes and a small towel in a gallon-sized zipper-styled freezer bag in the car for when you encounter a puddle on your usual journeys. Depending upon how much of a splasher you have, you might also want to include an extra jacket, top or mittens if it’s still chilly enough in your area to need mittens. When you venture out, factor in some extra time for a few minutes of splashing (and a quick change) if you can. You can put the wet clothes in the freezer bag after you make the change into the dry gear. Don’t forget extra wipes and hand sanitizer (used sparingly) and don’t forget to change the “spare set? when it gets worn. Put it back in the car as soon as possible so that you can be ready at any time for those impromptu puddle adventures.

    B-O-O-T-S. BOOTS! Any Laurie Berkner fan knows the song. Consider keeping Wellie-styled rubber boots ready for when the little one wants to venture out. You can get them almost everywhere relatively inexpensively at bricks-and-mortar stores such as Target and Walmart and at higher-end stores like Nordstroms. You can also order them on-line at LLBean, Lands End, Zappos, Piperlime, Wellie Boots.com, CoCo Bons.com and many others. With or without matching rain coats they are a “must have? not just for puddle jumping, but for those wet and wild rainy days. (If you’re concerned about products for your child that may contain vinyl or Bisphenol-A (BPA) because of their potential to disrupt our hormonal systems, be sure to read labels carefully and choose ones with rubber only or the lowest amounts of vinyl or BPA.To learn more about potential issues and hazards of vinyl and BPA visit the Environmental Working Group.)

    Be Prepared. If you don’t have rubber rain gear you can still enjoy the puddle-fest by rolling up pant-legs and having a spot to change out of wet clothes right when you return to the house. Near the door, keep a towel down to keep the floor dry. (It also means a quick clean-up of wet things for easy transport to the laundry. Just scoop everything up in the towel and take to the washer.) You can also keep a change of clothes ready for when you get back into the house or a dry robe. Don’t forget to wash hands (and any other body parts that may have come into contact with puddle water) after you have changed out of the wet clothes. It may even be a great time for a bath to continue the water play and get the little one thoroughly clean.

    Jump In! Why let the kids have all the fun? Get in on the action and get in touch with your own inner child and make a splash or two yourself. See who can make the biggest splash. Play with cause and effect: what happens if you just tap the puddle with your toe? …your whole foot? Stomp in it? Walk through it? For older splashers who will know not to try and taste the water, see what happens if you float a leaf in it, toss a rock into it. The possibilities are endless and you can also turn a fun time into a learning activity. Extend the learning for the older splashers by drawing pictures or writing a story about your puddle excursion(s) once everyone is inside and dried off.

    Be Vigilant. While your child doesn’t know a safe puddle from an unsafe one, as a parent you do. Trust your instincts, if you think a puddle looks unsafe steer your child to a safe puddle. What makes a puddle unsafe? Debris, it’s extra muddy, it has oil or other slick appearance on top of it, birds or other animals avoid it entirely, it is near dog poop or other animal droppings, it smells strange, it is in or near the street or near a sewer, drain, ditch or other municipal drainage system. If you do see puddles that are suspect (especially ones with oil or what may seem to be hazardous materials, let your Dept. of Public Works know…it is better to alert them to a potential issue than to let it go unaddressed.)

    End It Well. Time is elusive to little ones. Everything either takes forever (when they are waiting) or didn’t last long enough (when they want to do something). Avoid the end-of-activity battle by letting them know ahead of time how long you’ll be out, or that in x-number of splashes left it will be time to go in. That way the fun doesn’t just end abruptly. Also pay attention to your child’s cues that they are ready to go in or do something else. You can always do more tomorrow, and if that’s the case, tell them so. Wrap up the activity with some warm milk or hot cocoa when you get in as an extra warming-up treat after everyone is in dry clothes.

    With a little planning and creativity, puddle adventures can become an enjoyable and hassle-free experience for you as much as it is for the kids. Now go get splashing!

    Posted in Parenting, Lifestyles, Activities, Clothing, Guest Blogger | 1 Comment »

    Bedtime Blues

    Each night it my children seem to get worked up right before bedtime. I am not sure if this is a last burst of energy, a futile effort to stay up with Mommy and Daddy, or just something that nature designed to test the patience of parents.

    A few months ago I had struggled to keep the my three year old asleep at night. She and her sister did not want to go to sleep, but eventually tiredness would win out. The problem was that my littlest girl (Terisa) would wake up at nearly the same time each night. In an effort to keep her sleeping soundly, we moved the girl’s small toddler beds out of the room and gave them a full sized bed to share. With the comfort of being near her older sister, Terisa almost immediately began sleeping without many episodes of waking.

    Still, the trouble of having them both fall asleep at a proper time persisted. Amber, my older child, would usually fall asleep before Terisa. Introducing music helped a little with Terisa…but they were still very worked up when we reached their bedroom. I have a routine, so the relaxation was in place and has been for at least two years.

    Last night, I think I hit a winning solution. This may not work for some children, but for mine it was a godsend. I just posted about the Secrets Of Happily Married Women book and how it has helped my marriage. Perhaps, just perhaps those tools would work with my children! I know their nature. Part of this nature is being worked up right before bed, so I decided to just let them do their normal jump on the bed deal last night.

    They ran to their room and started their bouncing. This time, I surprised them by grabbing my book, leaning against the wall and saying, “Ok guys. You can jump on the bed until I am done reading. When Mommy is finished, it is bedtime.?

    Wow! They were so happy they very nearly bumped the ceiling with their little heads. Mommy was letting them jump to their heart’s content. When I had nearly finished the chapter I was on, they had already slowed down and were yawning. Amber, the oldest, has sensory issues, so the bouncing actually helps her body calm down. Terisa just follows suit.

    We put their giant stuffed bunnies to bed, complete with baby blankets, then the girls got under their own blankets. It did not take long for their classical CD to lull them to sleep. A half hour or so of good fun instead of crying.

    I am a happy mom today.

    Posted in Uncategorized, Parenting, Activities | No Comments »

    Birfday Beauties…

    My daughter’s second birthday is this Sunday.. We have planning on having a big bbq with lots of friends and some family.. It will hopefully be fun - of course I am getting that preparty worry that I won’t have enough food or that the kids (or the adults!) won’t have fun..  Lots of good advice to be found on several websites - I really liked the parents who said to keep it simple and fun. 

    I have bought some soft crowns with glitter pens and stickers and markers for everyone to decorate.  We are going to bbq and have a pretty nice spread out with both kid friendly and grown up friendly foods.. A pinata. Some sidewalk chalk.. A little art station… A cooler full of cold drinks for kids and grown ups… Bubbles.. what else???  Ummmm… so far that’s all I’ve worked out.. But it sounds fun to me.. Anyone reading this, feel free to shoot some suggestions my way!

    Posted in Activities, Arts and Crafts, Holidays | No Comments »

    My Two “Only” Children

    Both of my kids seem to think they are only children.  I can understand it from my six year old, who went for four years being, indeed, the only child.  I suppose my daughter is just mimicking his behavior and, thus, I have quite a conundrum on my hands.  Two kids who believe they get should get full attention and full rights to everything in the house is quickly becoming my worst nightmare. 

    Then again, it could just be a symptom of summer wearing thin on us.  We are, officially, out of activities.  We are, officially, bored (read: annoyed) with each other.  We are, officially, wiped out.  The part that is distressing for me is that when my children are one on one with me or my husband - it is the best time in the world.  But add a sibling to the equation and it is utter chaos.  We cannot all be in the same room together without someone breaking into hysterics.  I have tried patience and redirection but, what I am realizing it breaks down to is the simple fact alone that my kids don’t like sharing the limelight - even if equally distributed.  I hate that I am wishing away the rest of the summer but, the reality is, I really (really) am.

    So, at the advice of my mother, I have planned out this week and, until the end of the summer will spend each Sunday night scheduling our days as if I were a summer camp director.  I have noticed that the worst days are the ones that don’t involve a lot of direction from me or my husband - those days when we just want to “get stuff done around the house” (i.e. lay around and read a good book).  So, I have planned two outings for this week, one strategically placed in the middle of the week to get us over the hump.  Then, throughout the week and in between the big outings I have scheduled playdates and picnics and trips to the YMCA for swimming.  Staying active is the key, my mom says.  If it doesn’t work out the frenzy the kids are in, it will - at the very least - distract me from the nervous breakdown I am about to have.  So, this is what they call ”being on the verge”, eh? 

    Posted in Activities, Daily Living | No Comments »

    Summer Time, Summer Time, sum sum Summer Time

    Anyone else feeling that middle-of-the-summer slump??  Anyone else having those days where you just want to put on all your DVDs and lay in your pajamas with your kids?  Or those days where you toss out a bowl of cereal at 730am and eggs at 1130pm and a weird quesadilla concoction sometime around 2pm?  I get them dressed sometime around noon.  I haven’t worked on my writing in about two weeks.  I have abandoned my schedule, my routine has left me standing here with slumped, defeated shoulders.  I haven’t taken the kids to do anything fun in about three days.  They’re bored with me.  Hell, I’m bored with me.  I need an intervention.

    So, in my utter desperation I went internet hunting for some ideas.  Someone, somewhere, must be feelin’ me because they took the liberty of writing down daily activities for those parents who are summer-brain-dead, as I am.  Here is July for those of you that need some help:

    July 1 Encourage your child to check out 2 books this month from the library.
    July 2 Write a list of your child’s favorite animals. Talk about what makes each animal special.
    July 3 Include your child in preparing a healthy meal.
    July 4 Explain origin of holidays, such as Independence Day.
    July 5 Ask your child to write a thank you note or write a note to a relative or friend.
    July 8 Ask your child to watch the moon & record changes in size and color.
    July 9 Have your child decorate a shoe box to store treasures.
    July 10 Talk to your child about fire safety. Discuss a fire escape route and have a mock fire drill.
    July 11 Make a grocery list that fits within a budget with your child.
    July 12 Learn a tongue twister with your child.
    July 15 Talk to your child about avoiding strangers.
    July 16 Hide a treasure with your child and draw a map to find it.
    July 17 Practice printing or handwriting with your child. Make a certificate for job well done.
    July 18 Take a walk or bike ride with your child.
    July 19 Discover when things were invented with your child. Make a timeline.
    July 22 Have your child swap favorite books with a friend.
    July 23 Tell a story. Ask your child to tell it back to you.
    July 24 Ask your child to make a collage from things found around the house — ribbons, string, buttons, pebbles.
    July 25 Show your child how and when to dial 911.
    July 26 Take your child to the grocery store. Talk about prices and weights of food.
    July 29 Make a wish list of places you would like to visit with your child. Look them up on a map.
    July 30 Make a personalized bookmark with your child.
    July 31 Read a poem aloud with your child.

     

    Posted in Activities, Daily Living | No Comments »

    The End of the First Season

    Tonight is my son’s last soccer practice. What I have gleaned from this experience: team sports aren’t for everybody.

    My son seemed to enjoy himself, occassionally. But overall, it just really didn’t seem to move him the way we thought it would. He spent most of his time on the field practicing odd breakdancing moves and adjusting his “costume” (most kids refer to this as their “uniform”). Anytime the coach would ask who wanted to sit out, my son was the first to volunteer. “Joseph, aren’t you having fun?”, we would ask. “Sure” he would reply. “Well, why then do you alway want to sit out?”. His response: he just wanted to make sure that every body got a chance to play, that’s all. Yeah right. Part of the truth was inadvertedly revealed in car later when he said, “gosh, I really don’t like getting sweaty. Ick!”.

    I can remember a great interview with Christopher Walken that I had heard years ago. He talked about growing up in New York with actor/artist parents and spending most of his time in theater houses and dance studios. He took voice lessons and tap class - he learned how to paint a backdrop for a stage.. Whenever I think back about it, it reminds me a lot of my son. I always had a sneaky suspicion that he wouldn’t be interested in sports - he is far too concerned with his complicated psyche and his “persona” (he truly is a pint sized Marlon Brando circa 1964 - it’s a tough thing to parent, trust me). I am starting to see that he is more of a dramatist than a sportsman. What this means for the future, I have no idea. Whatever the case may be, I will keep all doors open for him. When soccer season starts up again, I will be happy to offer it up. I think, though, that he knows better than anyone that it is not his shtick.

    Posted in Activities, Character Development | No Comments »

    Speaking of the Past…..

    My husband and I are having fun introducing our six year old son to our favorite childhood movies. We have both been anxiously awaiting him being old enough and mature enough to understand the content of some of our favorites from the 70’s and 80’s - but, hoorah, the time has come!

    Since we don’t have a television, movies are a huge treat and a nice time for us to all sit around and just chill out for an hour or two. For awhile he was watching movies that we didn’t mind but certainly weren’t excited about. Finding Nemo can only be charming once and, like any child who find a movie that they like, he picked it for a frightening four weeks in a row.. Thank god, we are now on to movies that my husband and I get embarrassingly excited about. It all started with Labyrinth. David Bowie in a unitard singing with puppets - what’s not to love! My son ate it up. We then moved on to The Dark Crystal. I thought that it might be too scary - it was for me when I was his age. Then, on his own accord, he picked it out at the video store and we took a chance. Not only was it not scary, but he has developed an even deeper passion for puppetry from it. Frank Oz and Jim Henson revolutionized the art with this movie - it is so visually remarkable and a great story to boot. The Secret of Nimh was next - this was my all time favorite as a little girl. I can remember sitting in front of HBO every time it came on and getting sucked in. I still think that this movie has everything to do with my deeply rooted animal rights crazies - in fact, I hold it completely responsible. Two Days ago we checked out Flight of the Navigator from our library - again, another big hit. This was another one of my favorites - my brother used to watch it religiously and I got hooked with him.

    Not to sound like a cynical old person but they just don’t make kid/family movies like they used to. I can remember when our entire family would sit down and watch these without anyone getting bored. I can hardly stand most of the new movies that my son wants to bring home for our weekly movie date. Of course there are the exceptions (The Incredibles, March of the Penguins) but for the most part the new movies have little to nothing to do with real fantasy and a child’s inherent need for high imagination. We were lucky as kids to have people like Jim Henson around and for Space travel to still be a thing full of wonder rather than the backpage news it has become. So much has changed in the world - how lucky we are to still have these lovely little gifts from a time when it was important to dream big and push the boundaries rather than to just be “marketable”.

    Our next rehashing will be The Never Ending Story - I can’t wait to see the look on his face.

    Posted in Activities, TV and Pop Culture | No Comments »

                



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