Tag Archives: activities

What is Passover?

passoverWhat is Passover?

Passover is the Jewish celebration lasting seven to eight days (seven in Israel, eight outside of it) that marks the freedom of the Jews from enslavement by the Egyptians. According to the Old Testament, the Jews, led by Moses, had requested freedom from the Pharaoh of Egypt but were denied. To punish the Egyptians, God sent the 10 plagues to Egypt to convince the Pharaoh to release the Jews. The last of these plagues, and the most devastating, was to kill the firstborn male in each Egyptian household.

When is Passover?

Passover in 2022 will start at sunset on Friday, the 15th of April and will continue for 7 days until Saturday, the 23rd of April.

How is Passover celebrated?

Family and friends gather together after nightfall on the first and second nights of the holiday for the high point of the festival observance, the Seder. During the Seder, which means “order” in Hebrew, the experience of the Exodus is told in story, song, prayer, and the tasting of symbolic foods. The Seder meals include four cups of wine, eating matzah and bitter herbs, and retelling the story of the Exodus.

Here are some websites, with Passover activity ideas for kids.

Create a Spring Break Game Plan

“Game plan” means a strategy for how you are going to accomplish something.  In the case of keeping kids from getting bored and/or into trouble, the best way to prevent it is to keep them busy with safe, fun activities.

When there are days home from school, letting kids sit around watching TV or playing video games is not the best use of their time.  Providing fun alternatives will make it much easier to pull them away from the screen.

You need to make a plan of what you will do with them each day and prepare for that. Planning is very important.  You don’t want to tell them you are going someplace fun, only to arrive there and see they are not open that day or you needed to bring something and you don’t have it.

If your plan includes a craft or cooking project, make sure you have:

    • All the ingredients/supplies
    • Recipe/directions

If your plan includes an outing to someplace fun, figure out:

    • How will you get there?
    • When you should leave?
    • How much it will cost?
    • What will you do for lunch?

Use some of these online resources to find activities and recipes:

Have a Wonderful Spring Break!

Image: Canva.com

 

Big Kids Need Interaction, Too

Just because a child is old enough to occupy themselves, doesn’t mean that they should be expected to do so the majority of the time.  Host families have a certain expectation of activity and involvement for their children. Get the kids engaged and active. You can be more fun than the TV or a video game.

Problem:
But, my kids don’t want to do anything but watch TV or play video games.

Solution:
Instead of saying,  “Would you like to (fill in the blank with any activity)?  The answer will often be, “No.”

Try this, “Now we are going to (fill in the blank with any activity.) or “Would you rather do  _____ or ______?”  Make sure both the choices are good options.
Your chances of co-operation are greatly increased. Even kids who are reluctant to try new things will usually get in the spirit of things and have fun if you pick a good activity.

Problem:
I don’t know what to do with school-age kids.

Solution:
Look for ideas online. Google “activities school-age kids” or “activities tweens”. You can also take part in an au pair webinar on this topic. Below is a list of some ideas to get you started.

  • Cooking
  • Making things (check craft stores like Michael’s for kits and models that are age-appropriate)
  • Going to fun places (pottery painting, jewelry making, farms, museums, mini-golf, go-karts)*
  • Sports (soccer, tennis, swimming, bicycling, roller skating, ice skating)*
  • Let them teach you to do something they enjoy. Kids this age love being the expert.
  • Get outdoors and visit local parks.* You can even make a project of reviewing all the local parks (what kind of equipment they have, is there shade, water fountain?)  They can write this up and keep it so they remember which ones they want to go to again and which ones to skip in the future.
  • Let them help you search and plan some activities.
  • Check on the APIA Pinterest page and here on our cluster blog for ideas.
  • If you have a GPS, try taking them geocaching. Here is a website with all the details.
  • Use technology to get them off the couch and sneak in some exercise. The phone app Pokémon Go includes activities that are unlocked by taking steps. There are Pokéstops and gyms at many places they might enjoy going for walks like parks, nature trails, walk/bike paths, and downtown areas.

*Always get permission from your host parents before taking the kids places and remember to follow social distancing and mask-wearing protocols.

 

Hints for Success – Handling Expenses

Host parents often ask for suggestions on how best to handle common expenses that occur as au pairs are caring for the children.

Miscellaneous Expenses

There are different ways to handle the little day-to-day expenses that come up.  Things like when an au pair takes the kids out for ice cream or picks up a gallon of milk.  Some families keep a cookie jar fund, a little cash that they set aside weekly or monthly for these types of expenses. Others give their au pair a prepaid debit card for this purpose. Below are some suggestions for avoiding problems with expenses.

Host Families

  • It’s important to be clear about how long this money should last and what types of expenses are approved.
  • Let the au pair know whether or not you expect receipts.

Au Pairs

  • Only spend the money on approved expenses.
  • If it is something you are not sure about, ask first.
  • Put your receipts in the cookie jar in place of the money to avoid any confusion.

Gas, Uber & Metro 

Host families are responsible for the au pair’s transportation costs: to and from classes, cluster meetings, and when driving the kids.

It is a good idea to figure out how much gas an au pair will use for these trips and either put gas in the car or give a gas allowance.   If your au pair is riding to classes or cluster meetings with another au pair, you should offer to share the cost of gas.

Au pairs are responsible for their own transportation at all other times.  You should replace the amount of gas used for personal use.

Photo: Andrea Travillian

Celebrating Lunar New Year – 2022 Year of the Tiger

Lunar New Year is the most important holiday in China. Tied to the Chinese lunar calendar, the holiday began as a time for feasting and honoring ancestors as well as deities. Lunar New Year celebrations begin on February 1st.

The year 2022 is slated to be the year of the tiger. The tiger is known as the king of all beasts in China and the zodiac is associated with strength and bravery.

Chinese people celebrate Lunar New Year with the traditional greeting, “Kung hei fat choi”  Sounds like (gung – hay – fah – choy) in Cantonese!

Lunar New Year covers a long span, not just one day. Two weeks is the typical time frame. Traditionally this time is used to celebrate with family and friends. It’s important to start the new year with a clean home. Red envelopes are handed out to others, typically children or young people, containing Lucky Money. Foods are important in the celebration and have meaning. Long noodle dishes, for instance, represent longevity or long life, while dumplings represent wealth. Interestingly, fortune cookies are not authentic Chinese treats, though enjoyable and fun, you can read more about their unique history here.

You can read more about Lunar New Year here.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to Lunar New Year can be found on the APIA Winter Pinterest board. Try some of these great ideas!

Arts & Crafts:

Kids in the Kitchen:

Virtual Field Trips can be a great way for kids to learn and have new experiences. Here are a couple of virtual field trips that fit this theme:

Videos – Online you can find many examples of celebrations. Please review the content for appropriateness for your own host kids before watching with the children.

Webcams – You can do a google search for Lunar New Year celebrations with webcams. Here is a popular one for the upcoming season:

Books – Check out your local library or bookseller for books to order / reserve and pick up /read online:

Post Courtesy of Cynthia Chan (Au Pair in America)

Photo: Jimmie Quick 

Planning Ahead for Future Snow Days

Looking for ideas to keep the kids busy on a snow day (when they are home from school for winter weather?)

Here is a simple snow day game plan…

  • Play in the snow.  Pro Tip:  Remind your kids go to the bathroom before you get them all bundled up to go outside. 

  • Come inside and warm up with hot chocolate (don’t forget the marshmallows.) Pro Tip: Shake the snow off of the kids boots and snow clothes. Hang them up to dry or put them in the dryer, so they are ready for round 2 out in the snow. 
  • Make your own play dough.

  • Play board games or legos together.
  • Play in the snow again.

  • Warm up inside and make paper snowflakes.

  • Bake cookies together or make some other fun recipe.
  • Make a blanket fort.

Stay warm & have fun!

Photo: Tony Crider (Flickr)

Fun Fall Activity Ideas

Looking for fun fall activities to do with your kids?

Check out Au Pair in America’s Halloween FunFall Holidays pinboards on Pinterest.

Looking for even more fun fall activities, to do on your own, with friends, and/or with your host family?

Print out our Fall Bucket List full of fun fall traditions and activities to try.

pumpkin patch

Photo: Angela Severn (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.

  • National Gallery of Art in DC has resources and programs for kids and families.
  • Renwick Art Gallery in DC was featured in this blog post  with great information on visiting the museum with kids.
  • American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore is not your typical art museum. You can tell that when you see the school bus covered in mosaic glass or the mural on the sidewalk outside.
  • Other 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 – 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:

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