Author Archives: Christine Connally

Where to Get Your Flu Shot

Many au pairs and host families are looking for places to get flu shots this time of year. Your au pair insurance does not cover immunizations, but there are lots of places to get flu shots for $35 or less. If a host family is urging their au pair to get the seasonal flu shot and she agrees to get it, the host family would be responsible for the expense.

If you are planning to get the seasonal flu vaccine, it is recommended that you get it as early as possible.

You can often find local free flu shot clinics. Do a google search for “free flu shots near me”.

Flu shots are also available for a fee (usually $25-35) at pharmacies such as Target, CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, etc.

I have been told that Kaiser Permanente is offering free flu shots as well.

Also, don’t forget the same preventive measures that reduce your risk of getting COVID-19 also reduce your risk of getting the flu. Frequent hand-washing, mask-wearing, and avoiding large indoor crowds are all helpful in reducing the spread.

Have a happy and healthy fall and winter! 

Image: Jen Vargas

Hints for Success – Homesickness/Culture Shock

Almost everyone experiences culture shock and homesickness when they come to a completely new environment. Everything is different: the language, the food, and the people.

Here are my Top 5 Tips for
Dealing with Homesickness

1. Make friends – Don’t wait for other au pairs to reach out to you, reach out to them. There are other new au pairs who are feeling the same way you are right now. Set a goal to reach out to a few of them each day. Some will respond and some will not. Don’t let that discourage you. No one will ever be mad at you for sending them a message to say hello or ask if they want to do something together. Make friends from various countries and you will also get a chance to practice your English skills together.

2. Stay in touch with your home country, but not too much. Skyping or talking on the phone every day with your family and/or friends back home normally makes homesickness worse. Try texting instead and reduce the Skype and phone calls to once a week, until you feel stronger. It’s much harder seeing the faces and hearing the voices of those you miss.

3. Get out of the house (or your room specifically) – Go to cluster meetings, have coffee, go to the park, and/or go places with other au pairs. If someone invites you out, say “yes” whenever possible.* Also, don’t be afraid to do the inviting. If your host family invites you to do things with them, say “yes.” This will help you get to know each other and contribute to your overall happiness.

*Since we are in a pandemic, talk with your host family about what they are okay with you doing and what precautions you should take.

4. Share your culture with your host family – If you are missing some favorite foods from home, find ways that you can make them here and share them with your host family. There are many international markets in our area, you should be able to find most of the ingredients you need. If you are not really a cook, search online for restaurants and bakeries that have a taste of home. Your host family is probably just as excited to learn about your culture as you are to learn about America.

5. Make plans – Create your own Au Pair Bucket List (places you want to go, new foods to try, new things to experience during your year in the U.S.) and start doing them now. Post on our cluster Facebook or WhatsApp group to find others who may want to join you on your adventures.

Realize that it definitely gets easier with time.

All au pairs experience homesickness to some extent and nearly all of them stay and have a successful year (some stay for two years.) So, it must get better, right? Once you get past the initial homesickness, most au pairs report how quickly the year goes by.

Photo by:  Shimelle Laine (Flickr)

Camp Au Pair – Art Experiences

This week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Art Experiences.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to art can all be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Art Experiences pinboard.

Field Trips can be a great way for kids to learn and have new experiences. Get permission from your host parents before any outings and be sure to take all social distancing precautions. Some museums are requiring advanced tickets or have reduced hours due to the pandemic.

  • Art Museums
  • Paint Your Own Pottery Studio
  • Clay and Ceramics Studio

Online Art FunHere is a great website with lots of art activities including ones for older kids.

Webcams – You can do a google search for art websites with webcams. Here are a few to get you started:

Pottery & Ceramics webcam
Glass Blowing webcam

Videos – Look for fun videos on YouTube about drawing and all kinds of art.

Books – Stop by your local library and look for books on famous artists and art.

Check YouTube for books on art being read aloud:

Image: teachkidsart.com

Camp Au Pair – Summer Olympics

This week’s Camp Au Pair theme Summer Olympics. The 2021 Summer Olympics are taking place in Tokyo, Japan, July 23-Aug 8.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to the Summer Olympics can be found here on the Camp Au Pair Summer Olympics pinboard.

Videos – On YouTube you can find many great videos of about the Olympics.

Books – Stop by your local library and look for books about the Olympics.

Some good ones include: Olympig!, G is for Gold Medal: An Olympic Alphabet, How to Train with a T-Rex and Win 8 Gold Medals, Wilma Unlimited, America’s Champion Swimmer: Gertrude Ederle, Way to Go Alex!, Touch the Sky, Pele: King of Soccer, A Picture Book of Jesse Owens & Babar’s Celestville Games.

You may also find some of these books read aloud on YouTube.

Fun Fact: The Olympic symbol consists of five interlaced rings of equal dimensions, used alone, in one or in five different colors, which are, from left to right, blue, yellow, black, green and red. The Olympic symbol (the Olympic rings) expresses the activity of the Olympic Movement and represents the union of the five continents and the meeting of athletes from throughout the world at the Olympic Games.

Image: Project Nursery

Camp Au Pair – Science (STEM)

This week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Science (STEM). This includes science, technology, engineering and math.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to all things science, technology, engineering and math can be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Science (STEM) pinboard.

Field Trips can be a great way for kids to learn and have new experiences. Get permission from your host parents before any outings and be sure to take all social distancing precautions. Here are a few places to go, that fit this theme:

  • Nature Walk
  • Science Centers
  • Pick Your Own Farms
  • Nature Centers
  • Botanical Gardens or Garden Store
  • Television/Radio Museum
  • Into the City to See Skyscrapers
  • Building or Technology Museum

Virtual Field Trips

Videos – On YouTube you can find many great videos of with science experiments to do with kids.

The Magic School Bus is a cartoon series with episodes on lots of great science topics. You can find some episodes on YouTube and the full series on Paramount Plus.

Movies – The Lego Movie, Big Hero 6, Wall-E and Hidden Figures all fit the STEM theme.

Webcams – You can do a google search for science websites with webcams. Here is a collection of 22 science webcams from around the world.

Books – Stop by your local library and look for books on science, technology, engineering and math.

Image: sweetpaulmag.com

Camp Au Pair – Dinosaurs

This week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Dinosaurs.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to dinosaurs can all be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Dinosaurs pinboard.

Field Trips can be a great way for kids to learn and have new experiences. Get permission from your host parents before any outings and be sure to take all social distancing precautions.

Here are a few places to go that fit this theme:

    • Children’s museum with dinosaur exhibit
    • Natural history museum
    • Nature center with fossils

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.

Photo: krojotak.com

Camp Au Pair – Under the Sea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In honor of Shark Week (see below), next week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Under the Sea.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to creatures who live under the sea can all be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Under the Sea pinboard.

Webcams – You can do a google search for aquariums and zoos across the country (and the world) with webcams that allow you to observe sea creatures. Here is one to get you started.

Field Trips can be a great way for kids to learn and have new experiences. Get permission from your host parents before any outings and be sure to take all social distancing precautions. Search online to see if your area has any of the following:

  • Any pet store with fish tanks
  • Aquarium
  • Zoo
  • Nature Center

Television – The Discovery Channel has an annual Shark Week. This year it will be July 11-18, 2021. Much of the programming will be too scary for younger kids, but for nature-loving tweens and teens, it could be a great way to get them interested in sharks and other ocean animals. Check out 15 JAW-some Activities for Shark Week with lots of fun ideas for kids in grades 5 and up, but a few for younger kids too.

Online Games – NOAA has fun interactive games that help kids learn about sea turtle survival.

Videos – Look for fun videos on YouTube about sea creatures. There’s more to see than Baby Shark. Movies like Finding Nemo, Dolphin Tale, and the Little Mermaid also go well with this theme.

Books – Stop by your local library and look for books on sea creatures. The Rainbow Fish is a classic children’s book, your kids may already own. If not, you can find videos like this of it being read aloud.

Photo: mimisdollhouse.com

Camp Au Pair – Bugs & Butterflies

This week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Bugs & Butterflies.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to all kinds of bugs, insects, butterflies, and spiders can be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Bugs & Butterflies pinboard.

Outdoors – Kids today do not spend enough time outdoors. Take the kids in the backyard or another nature area (approved by your host parents) and do some activities related to this theme:

  • Allow them to search for bugs and butterflies.
  • Observe lightning bugs (also known as fireflies) in the evening. Here is a map showing what people call these little guys in different parts of the country.
  • After it rains, look for earthworms. Not bugs or butterflies, but very interesting creatures you can find in your own backyard.

NOTE: If you are outdoors with the children, be sure to check for ticks when you come back inside. Here is a blog post explaining the health risk ticks can pose and how to find and remove them safely.

Videos – You can find many great videos of butterflies and insects on YouTube. Check out these videos for kids about bees and ants. All about Insects covers lots of tiny creatures who crawl and fly. Here are a few videos to get you started.

Movies – A Bugs Life, The Bee Movie, Maya the Bee, and The Ant Bully all fit this theme.

Webcams – You can do a Google search for websites with webcams that allow you to observe bugs.

Books – Check your kids’ bookshelf for books on bugs and butterflies. 

Image: minieco.co.uk

Camp Au Pair – Outer Space

Next week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Outer Space.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to outer space can all be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Outer Space pinboard. Here is a fun one that combines a science lesson, art, and snack time.

https://www.opticscentral.com.au/moon-phases-explained-with-oreos

Field Trips can be a great way for kids to learn and have new experiences. Get permission from your host parents before any outings and be sure to take all social distancing precautions. Search online to see if your area has any of the following:

  • Air & Space Museum
  • Science Center
  • Planetarium

Webcams – You can do a google search for websites with webcams that allow you to observe space. Here is one from the International Space Station to get you started.

Online Games – NASA has a gallery of free space games for kids.

Videos – Look for fun videos on YouTube about outer space. Solar System 101 and 25 Space Secrets Astronauts Want You to Know are good for school-aged kids. The Planet Song is for toddlers and preschoolers. WALL-E, Zathura, Monsters vs. Aliens & Star Wars are all great family movies that fit with this theme. For older kids, movies like Hidden Figures and the Martian too, both are rated PG-13.

Books – Stop by your local library and look for books on outer space.  Me & My Place in Space, Mousetronaut, There was an Old Astronaut who Swallowed the Moon, and Mae Among the Stars are a few fun ones to get you started. Story Time from Space is a YouTube channel with real astronauts reading children’s books aloud.

Photo: alittlepinchofperfect.com

Camp Au Pair – Cars & Trucks

Next week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Cars & Trucks.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to all kinds of vehicles can all be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Cars & Trucks pinboard.

Field Trips can be a great way for kids to learn and have new experiences. If your host parents are okay with you taking the kids to any outdoor, socially distanced activities, here are a few places to go, that fit this theme:

  • Look for construction areas where the kids can observe big machines in action. Kids should observe from the car or a safe area.
  • Keep an eye out for the trash truck and let them watch the truck in action.
  • Go to a drive-through car wash or let the kids make their own car wash at home.
  • Look for a go kart track in your area. Before you go, check the website to find out what the age and/or height requirements are for children.

VideosMighty MachinesAmazing Big Trucks are kid-friendly video channels showing machinery and big trucks in action. Look for fun videos on YouTube about cars and trucks.

Movies – Cars, Cars 2 & 3, Turbo, Bumble Bee, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang & Bob the Builder Mega Machines movies all fit this theme.

Books – Check your kids’ bookshelf for books on cars & trucks. You can also find many read aloud book videos on YouTube. Little Blue Truck, Trash Trucks, Cool Cars and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus are a few fun ones to get you started.

Image: funlearningforkids.com