Monthly Archives: January 2019

Make Your Own Play Dough

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. For colored play dough, squeeze 10-20 drops of food coloring into the water before you add it to the mixture. 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: Kevin Jarrett (Flickr)

Indoor Winter Fun

Brr…It’s cold out there!

Whether you’re staying home with the kids during a  blizzard, polar vortex, or just because it’s cold and dreary, the hours inside the house during winter can seem endless for everyone. But with just a bit of preparation, you can ward off the winter doldrums and keep everyone smiling. Here are some ideas to get your started:

APIA’s Pinterest Pinboards are loaded with indoor craft ideas and activities for kids of all ages:

APIA Winter Fun

APIA Kid’s Stuff

APIA Fun Recipes


America’s Test Kitchen has recipes and STEAM-focused, hands-on activities designed to get kids ages 8-13 cooking, experimenting, and exploring in the kitchen. Learn more by visiting America’s Test Kitchen Kids and following them on Instagram.



Making Paper Snowflakes: Cutting paper snowflakes is a fun and simple indoor winter activity.  Tip: For younger kids, keep the designs simple to avoid frustration. Here’s a great video showing you how to cut some of your own.


If you’re looking to get out of the house, the Winter Fun for DC Kids (2018-2019) blog post from has the rundown on DC-area adventures.

Technology Tips for Au Pairs

How Would You Feel?

Imagine if you went to the hospital and the doctors and nurses seemed more interested in texting or tweeting than caring for you. How would that make you feel about yourself and about them?  Would you think that you were getting the treatment you deserved?  Would you feel like paying the bill after your stay?

How Would You Act?

Being a childcare provider is a very important job because you are helping to shape our next generation. What message are you sending to your host kids when you would rather interact with phone than with them? How will they feel about themselves and about you? Children feel as though everything is about them. They will see this as a rejection of them and they will be more likely to act out.

Safety Comes First

Not paying enough attention to your host kids poses safety concerns too. Accidents happen, but when an adult caregiver is close by and appropriately supervising children, the chances of a major injury are dramatically reduced.

Technology Best Practices

When you are working, you should not do any of the following:

  • Text/Talk to friends/family on the phone
  • Chat/Instant Message with friends/family online
  • Use Skype or FaceTime
  • Email
  • Tweet
  • Update your status on Facebook or any other social media
  • Use Snapchat, WhatsApp or any other app or social media site
  • Watch YouTube videos
  • Upload photos on Instagram
  • Play video games
  • Use the phone or other device while driving (Never do this- even when you aren’t working!)

Exceptions- the only time it’s okay to use your computer, phone, tablet, etc. while you are working is when your host parents have given your specific permission to do the following:

  • Text/Call your host parents
  • Help your host children find a pre-approved website (like
  • A job-related task that your host family has asked you to complete

When in doubt- ask your host parents!

Finally, do not text, scroll through Facebook, answer your phone, etc. when eating meals with your host family or while talking with your host parents. Even if you think you’re a great multitasker, your host family will think you are being rude.

Going unplugged during work may seem impossible, but think about this — even if you work 45 hours a week, you still have 123 hours left in the week for all of that other stuff, or about 70 hours (if you are getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep per night).

A Note to Host Parents

Please be clear about what you consider acceptable technology use during work hours to avoid misunderstandings. Your au pair is most likely very accustomed to being plugged in at all times. She doesn’t intend to be rude, but she might not realize how her actions will be perceived. Please use this information as an opportunity to begin a dialogue on the issue.

(Adapted from Christine Connally’s blog post, Going Unplugged During Work Hours)