Monthly Archives: May 2013

Gardening and Learning about Insects

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Gardening

One way to spend time outside with the children (any age from two up) is to work in the garden. A garden is more than just plants. It’s also a home for birds, bees, butterflies, earthworms and other creatures that help the garden grow.

Children love to care for other living things, and plants are an easy choice that can give a great sense of accomplishment. Check with your host parents about where you can garden. Ideally, your little garden will have at least six hours of sun a day.

For outdoor gardening you will need to buy some seeds. If your garden has less than six hours of sun, choose seeds that can grow in “partial” sun. Select flower seeds that germinate quickly. The back of the seed packet will tell you how long before the plants sprout. Marigolds and morning glories are easy to grow and will come up quickly. Buying vegetable seeds will allow children to eat and share what they grow. Radishes are the fastest growing vegetable – from seed to salad in just three weeks. Green beans, tomatoes, summer squash and cucumbers are other good choices, but they do take longer. Be sure to plant extra seeds because not every one will germinate. This is an important lesson for children – mistakes are natural and an inevitable part of life. If you are starting late and want to make sure you will have a vegetable harvest, you can also buy small plants at a local plant nursery.

Before you plant the seeds, use a shovel, trowel or spade to loosen the soil. Remove weeds, stones and grass from the area. If the soil is very hard (like clay) or very sandy, it would be a good idea to add peat moss or compost to the soil. You will also need a hose or a watering can so that the children can water the earth when it doesn’t rain. If the plants look droopy or the soil feels dry, it is time to water. It is very important to water even before the plants sprout. It is best to water early in the morning or in the late afternoon.

Gardening includes other simple science lessons, all concepts that children can understand. Plants lean or turn towards light. Plants use water, but some of it evaporates into the air. What happens to the water that has evaporated? Without water plants will dry up and die. Plants come from other parts of the world, and sometimes their form gives clues to their origin. Can you find seeds that are native to your country?

When you go out into the garden, take care of the plants, pulling up weeds gently and also any sprouted seeds that are growing too close to another plant. But also look around and look closely at the ground to find birds and bugs that are a part of gardening. You can discuss how living things rely on plants to live, and how the plants need their animal friends. Birds spread seeds; earthworms loosen the dirt for the roots of the plants. What do bees do?

Look for books about gardening in the library. Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss is a wonderful book for very young children. Take photographs of your gardening project. It will be surprising and satisfying to look at the starting photos at the end of the harvest. And don’t forget to put on sunscreen before you do your gardening!


Lady BugLady Bug

Learning about insects

Talking to children about insects is a fun activity in the summer when there are so many around!

Some easy facts for you to know:

  • There are more kinds of insects than any other kind of animal.
  • They live all over the world, even in ice and snow.
  • They never have more than 3 pairs of legs. If it has more, it’s not an insect!
  • All insects come from eggs.

Outside Activity: To learn more about insects, go on a hunt outside. Collect the insects you find in a jar and then examine them with a magnifying glass.

Recipe: Make a snack of “ants on a log.” Spread peanut butter on a stick of celery and then add raisins on the top.

Read: Children up to age seven will enjoy “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle. Look for it in the library.

Inside activities:

  • Make a caterpillar from a cardboard egg carton cut in half lengthwise. Turn each section upside down to paint with water-based paint. Use pipe cleaners to make the antennae. Draw or glue eyes and a mouth.
  • Make a butterfly by putting small pieces of colored tissue paper in a clear sandwich bag. Seal the bag. Squeeze the bag in half with the sealed edge at the top. Twist a tie around the middle and adjust the end of the twist tie to make antennae.

Pool Safety

Parents and families can build on their current safety systems at pools and spas by adopting additional water safety steps. Adding as many proven water safety steps as possible is the best way to assure a safe and fun experience, because you can never know which one might save a child’s life—until it does.
  • Never leave a child unattended in a pool or spa and always watch your child when he or she is in or near water
  • Teach children basic water safety tips
  • Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments
  • Have a telephone close by when you or your family is using a pool or spa
  • If a child is missing, look for him or her in the pool or spa first
  • Share safety instructions with family, friends and neighbors
  • Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim
  • Learn to perform CPR on children and adults, and update those skills regularly
  • Understand the basics of life-saving so that you can assist in a pool emergency.

If you own a pool or spa:

  • Install a four-foot or taller fence around the pool and spa and use self-closing and self-latching gates; ask your neighbors to do the same at their pools.
  • Install and use a lockable safety cover on your spa.
  • If your house serves as a fourth side of a fence around a pool, install door alarms and always use them. For additional protection, install window guards on windows facing pools or spas.
  • Install pool and gate alarms to alert you when children go near the water
  • Ensure any pool and spa you use has compliant drain covers, and ask your pool service provider if you do not know
  • Maintain pool and spa covers in good working order
  • Consider using a surface wave or underwater alarm

Memorial Day Celebration

Background

Memorial Day started as an event to honor Union soldiers, who had died during the American Civil War. It was inspired by the way people in the Southern states honored their dead. After World War I, it was extended to include all men and women, who died in any war or military action.

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day. The current name for this day did not come into use until after World War II. Decoration Day and then Memorial Day used to be held on May 30, regardless of the day of the week, on which it fell. In 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed as part of a move to use federal holidays to create three-day weekends. This meant that that, from 1971, Memorial Day holiday has been officially observed on the last Monday in May. However, it took a longer period for all American states to recognize the new date.

What do people do?

It is traditional to fly the flag of the United States at half mast from dawn until noon. Many people visit cemeteries and memorials to honor everyone, who has died, and those, who have died in military service, in particular. In National Cemeteries, volunteers place an American flag on each grave.

Memorial Day has become less of an occasion of remembrance. Many people choose to hold picnics, sports events and family gatherings on this weekend. This day is traditionally seen as the start of the summer season for cultural events. For the fashion conscious, it is seen as acceptable to wear white clothing, particularly shoes from Memorial Day until Labor Day. However, fewer and fewer people follow this rule and many wear white clothing throughout the year.

Public life

Memorial Day is a federal holiday. All non-essential Government offices are closed, as are schools, businesses and other organizations. Most public transit systems do not run on their regular schedule. Many people see Memorial Day weekend as an opportunity to go on a short vacation or visit family or friends. This can cause some congestion on highways and at airports.