Toys – Many kids have dinosaur toys already. See what your kids have and think of fun, new ways you can play with these toys with them. Imagine taking a plastic dinosaur and making footprints in play dough to form your own fossils.
Webcam – This NPS Paleontology Lab offers a webcam where you can watch paleontologists remove rock from around fossils. The cam is normally working 9 am-5 pm PST, so 12-8 pm our time.
Videos – Look for fun videos on YouTube about dinosaurs and fossils. Here are a few to get you started.
Movies – The Good Dinosaur, Land Before Time, and Ice Age are all great family movies that fit with this theme. For older kids, consider movies like Journey to the Center of the Earth and Jurassic Park (which is rated PG-13).
Books – Check your kids’ bookshelf for books on dinosaurs.
It is good to offer kids a balance of independent play time and play where you are actively engaging with them. You can make toys they may be bored with, feel new and exciting, by suggesting different ways to play with them. Try some of the ideas below as a starting point.
Teach your host children how to say the names of some of the food and dishes in your language.
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 children 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.)
Lego Blocks and Other Building Toys
Divide up all of the blocks between the people playing, by taking turns for each person to select block by block.
Suggest specific things to build (robots, houses, mountains etc.) 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 and play a game asking them to put on the body parts by name.
Play Hide and Seek with Mr. Potato Head. Have the children cover their eyes and count, while you hide Mr. Potato Head, then they go looking for him. Switch things up by letting them hide Mr. Potato Head and then you are the one to locate him.
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.
Interested in learning more about hosting an au pair in your home. Come visit my table at the Piney Orchard Street Festival. I will be located in the parking lot of the Community Center (not on the main street because this festival has grown so much in recent years!) where there will be lots of kid friendly vendors. I will also have au pairs on hand to help answer any of your questions. Great family fun event with lots of live music, food and even pony rides!
The Annapolis cluster twice a month meets at a local Starbucks in Severna Park, MD to get together informally for a cup of coffee. It is a wonderful opportunity for au pairs to get together and meet new au pairs who have just arrived to our cluster. Au pairs share information about what classes they are taking, where to take classes, travel opportunities and upcoming weekend festivities. The au pairs have the chance to share their experience with the new arrivals and offer tips and suggestions on how to have a great year with their host families and what to expect. Phone numbers are exchanged and play-dates are set! This is also a good time to ask me, their counselor, any questions that they may have about any aspect of the program. Personally it gives me the chance to get to know the girls a little bit better in a relaxed environment. I love the fact that it feels like I’m having coffee with many daughters at once!
Despite Hurricane Irene the Annapolis cluster met in downtown Annapolis for ice cream. The weather was beautiful and so many people enjoyed the outside after being cooped up in their homes from the storm over the weekend.