Posted by Christine Connally on Feb 1, 2013
A is for Art – try drawing, painting or gluing
B is for Baking – bake a dessert together for dinner
C is for Clay – Use non-hardening clay or play dough to shape and mold
D is for Dance – put on a lively tape
E is for Exercise – be sure to get some everyday
F is for Friends – invite some over
G is for Greenhouse – find a local greenhouse to visit to enjoy the sights and smells
H is for House – make a playhouse from a large appliance box
I is for Ice skating – take the children to a local rink
J is for Jigsaw puzzle – be sure to pick one that isn’t too difficult
K is for Kitchen science – try a safe experiment
L is for Library – borrow some new books
M is for Movie – make one with a video camera, or watch one
N is for Necklace – make one out of cereal or macaroni
O is for Origami – learn to make simple paper creations
P is for Puppets – socks make easy and fun puppets – put on a show!
Q is for Quiet Time – everyone needs some of this
R is for Reading aloud – choose a good book and a comfortable place to sit
S is for Seeds and Suet – put out food for the birds and watch them eat
T is for Tent – make one from old blankets and chairs
U is for Unplugged – do a day with no TV
V is for Variety – try something new everyday
W is for Walk – take one in any weather (be sure to dress appropriately)
X is for Xylophone – make your own with glasses, water and a metal spoon
Y is for Year – make a calendar or scrapbook to remember the year
Z is for Zoo – visit the animals
Posted by Christine Connally on Jan 27, 2013
It is important to know when schools close or have delayed openings because of weather or other emergencies. You may sign up to receive alerts via email, texts and other messages. Please check the list below for the school system your host children go to and follow the link to register. If your children go to a private school, check with your host family to find out if they follow the county closings or not.
Anne Arundel County Public Schools – Register HERE (email is free, text there is a fee)
Montgomery County Public Schools – Register HERE
Prince George’s County Public Schools – Register HERE
Posted by Christine Connally on Jan 10, 2012
Play dough is the perfect modeling material for children. Their small hands can pat, poke, pinch, roll and knead it into many shapes. Keep it in an airtight container to use another day, or let it air dry into favorite shapes.
Measure 2 cups of flour, one cup of salt and 4 teaspoons of cream of tartar into a bowl. Add 1/4 cup of oil to one cup of water in a separate bowl then add the mixture to the dry ingredients. Squeeze 10-20 drops of food coloring into one cup of water and add it to the mixture. Mix well to make it smooth and to spread the color evenly. Cook the dough at low heat in a wide pan, stirring constantly until it becomes rubbery. Remove the dough from the heat and knead it for a few minutes. When it cools the kids can play too!
Photo: Gina Guillotine
Posted by Christine Connally on Feb 21, 2010
Sandra from Spain sent me this great picture and I just had to share it.
Sandra enjoying American life with her host family
“My family and me took this picture during the first snow storm, and we thought you would like it, we laughed a lot preparing it!! Au pairs life is not that easy….lol” -Sandra
Posted by Christine Connally on Feb 10, 2010
There are some toys that kids usually play with on their own while you watch on the sidelines. However, you can make those toys feel like something new and fun, by suggesting different ways to play with them. Another thing that will make it more fun is if you become actively involved rather than just watching.
- Teach your host children how to say the names of some of the food and dishes.
- Using English and/or your language play games where you are ordering food like in a restaurant. Take turns with who will be the waiter and who is the customer.
- Come up with silly food combinations. For example: Who wants pickles on their slice of cake?
- Play a guessing game where the kids have to figure out what food you are talking about. For example: I grow under the ground in the dirt. People eat me fried, mashed and baked. What am I? (a potato)
- Play a game with setting the table using your language to ask for the different items (plate, spoon, etc.)
- Ask the children to divide the foods up into the different food groups (vegetables, meat, dairy, etc)
Block, Lego Blocks and Other Building Toys
- Divide all of the blocks up between the people playing by taking turns for each person to select block by block.
- Suggest specific things to build (robots, house, mountain) and build together.
- Challenge everyone to use all of their blocks.
- Sort the blocks by color or shape and make patterns with them (red, blue, red blue or square, triangle, rectangle.) You can create a pattern and ask the child to fill in what comes next to continue the pattern.
- Make the tallest block tower you can and let them knock it down (over and over again, if like most kids they like destroying things.)
Mr. Potato Head
- Teach your host children the names of the different parts in your language.
- Play a game asking them to put on the body parts by naming them in your language.
- Play the same game above, but using Simon Says. Simon Says is a game where the leader gives commands by saying “Simon Says” first. For example, “Simon Says, put on the nose.” The players are only to follow the commands when the leader says Simon Says. If the leader doesn’t say Simon Says first and just says, “put on the nose,” and the player follows the command they are out of the game. Repeat the game multiple times, so all kids get a turn to be the leader at least once.
Posted by Christine Connally on Feb 10, 2010
I know the kids have been home for many snow days this winter. Believe me I know, since I have 4 kids of my own at home. The key to keeping things manageable and fun is planning ahead and being proactive. Don’t wait until the kids are fighting and getting into trouble to find things for them to do. Get them engaged in activities to prevent the boredom and arguing that can happen when everyone is in the house for too long.
I am putting together some blog posts with activity ideas in the following categories:
- New Ideas for the Same Old Toys
- Indoor Physical Activities
- Activities for Older kids
- Cooking Activities
Posted by Christine Connally on Feb 5, 2010
My kids are looking forward to the upcoming blizzard for many reasons, one of which is snow ice cream. I only make it when we have a lot of snow, because you want to collect fresh clean snow and it needs to be deep enough that you are just getting snow. Ask your host parents before you try it. I don’t want anyone freaking out.
Here are two recipes I use to make it, depending on what kind of milk I have on hand.
Snow Ice Cream Recipe #1
8 cups of fresh clean snow
1 (14oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Combine in a large bowl and enjoy.
Snow Ice Cream Recipe #2
8 cups of fresh clean snow
1/2 cup of evaporated milk (or regular milk)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Combine milk, sugar and vanilla extract until sugar is dissolved. Then combine with snow. Enjoy.
Posted by Christine Connally on Feb 3, 2010
Looking for ideas to keep the kids busy on this snow day?
Here is a simple snow day game plan…
- Play in the snow
- Come inside and warm up with hot chocolate (don’t forget the marshmallows)
- Do some Snowflake Crafts
- Play in the snow again
- Warm up inside taking turns on the Make a Snowflake Website
- Get a jump start on making Valentine’s Cards
If you have some fun snow day ideas, please share them by posting a comment.
Posted by Christine Connally on Jan 31, 2010
I have heard it is not an easy road to get to the White House, but I always thought that meant to be elected president. On Saturday, it was a difficult trip for us just to get to the White House for our tour.
Since White House tours are not easy to come by, we could not let a little thing like 6 inches of snow stop us. Over 70 au pairs from two clusters braved the snow and had their chance to catch a glimpse of some of the famous rooms inside the White House. And I caught a glimpse of the president’s car leaving for the Georgetown basketball game.
Here are some photos of that day.
- The view from my driveway before I left for the Metro.
- Here I am dressed more like I’m going skiing than to the White House. My three shirts and pair of snow pants did keep me pretty warm though.
- Some of the snow covered scenery on the White House grounds.
- Just as I am walking back to the Visitor Center, out comes the Presidential Motorcade! Is the President in this one?
- Or maybe in this one?
- No, he’s got to be in this one.
- The White House looks so beautiful covered with snow.
A closer view.
How is that fountain still working at 20 degrees?
A few au pairs warming up in the White House Visitor Center after the tour.
A snowy view of the Washington Monument.
Posted by Christine Connally on Dec 21, 2009
I friend shared this recipe with me and I thought it would be a lot of fun on a cold snow day like this. It is gingerbread because of the color and smell, but it is not to be eaten. Since the ingredients are all food, it is safe if the kids sample it. I can guarantee it will not taste as good as it smells though.
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 Tbs vegetable oil
1/2 cup boiling water
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 tsp allspice
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and knead* until smooth.
*knead – to massage, shape and press with your hands as you do with dough or clay.
- If you are working with older kids, you can have them help make it.
- If you are working with younger kids (6 and under), I recommend you make the playdough ahead of time and just bring it out for them to play with.
- Lay wax paper on the table to protect the surface where they play with it.
- Bring out playdough tools and/or kid-safe kitchen tools (cookie cutters, plastic knives, etc.)