Tag Archives: Child Care

October-Fire Safety Month

 

Click here to read more Fire Safety Tips on PBS KidsClick here to read more Fire Safety Tips on PBS Kids

Here are some fire safety tips from PBSKids.org. Go over these fire safety tips with your children.

Be Smart

  1. Don’t touch matches. Stay away from lighters and candles, too.
  2. Don’t touch radiators or heaters. Ask a grown-up to turn a heater on or off for you. Don’t stand too close to a fireplace or wood stove, either.
  3. Don’t play with electrical cords. And don’t stick anything into an electrical socket.
  4. Don’t play around in the kitchen. If you want to cook something, be sure to check with a grown-up first.
  5. Don’t put anything over a lamp. Things thrown over a lamp (like blankets or clothing) could catch fire

Edelweiss Hat- Celebrate Germany!

edelweiss hat

Oktoberfest in Germany celebrates the harvest – which ironically end at the end of September.  In Germany, celebrations for Oktoberfest are from September until the first weekend in October.  In the USA,  Oktoberfest is celebrated throughout the month of October (probably so we don’t get confused by the name?).     In honor of our German au pairs who are planning the Cultural Connection this month at our business meeting, here is a craft to do with your kids.

In the region of southern Germany known as Bavaria, you’ll often see men and boys in traditional folk hats graced with a feather or an edelweiss, a delicate Alpine flower. Our paper version of these hats offers both.

To make one, fold the green construction paper in half to make it 9 by 12 inches. Fold the two creased corners toward the center to make two 6-inch right triangles, leaving 3 inches at the bottom. Fold each 3-inch flap in half, then fold up again to form the brim. Cut a flower shape out of the white paper, glue on the yellow circle, and glue it to the hat’s brim. To make the chin strap, punch holes on each side of the hat’s brim, string the elastic through, and knot at each end. For a final touch, stick the feather in the fold of the hat.

MATERIALS

12 x 18-inch sheet of green construction paper
Scissors
3 x 3-inch square of white paper
Glue stick
Yellow paper circle, 1 inch in diameter
Hole punch
2 feet of elastic
Feather

Top Ten Activities for Fall

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Summer is over, and in many places the air is turning colder. As the weather changes be sure to take advantage of what the fall season has to offer. Even if you don’t live in a place that sees a lot colorful leaves, there are fun family-friendly ways to get outdoors this fall:

• Go apple picking. Sure, most of us can get apples year-round from the grocery store, but there’s nothing quite like orchard fresh apples, picked straight from the tree during harvest season. That crunchy, tangy, sweet apple flavor is at its peak during this time of year. Many commercial orchards will let you pick your own. It’s not only fun, it’s also a great way to show kids where their food comes from. Get extras for canning applesauce, or making pies. When you’re done, warm up with a delicious mulled cider.

• Go on a nature hike. Bring along a field guide to identify different kinds of trees. Look for wildlife collecting food for winter. Explain to kids how animals are starting to fatten up and grow thick, protective winter coats. Watch for migrating birds.

• Collect fall leaves. Press them into books or preserve them in glycerin. Paste them onto handmade paper to create greeting cards, or glue them between two pieces of wax paper to make an attractive sun catcher. Go lightly on the glue, or substitute crayon shavings to add color; use a warm iron to melt the shavings and hold the paper together.

• Take a hayride. Many farms offer hayrides during the fall. This is a great way to kick back and enjoy nature with smaller kids who may not be up for a long walk.

• Visit the pumpkin patch. Don’t buy your Halloween pumpkin from the grocery store. Go straight to the source. Kids will love wandering around the patch to pick out the perfect pumpkin. Choose a couple of big ones for jack-o-lanterns, and grab a few smaller ones for painting or general household decorations. Smaller pumpkins make great additions to fall centerpieces. Roast the seeds in your oven with a sprinkling of tasty spices, and grab a few to make pumpkin pies.

• Visit a corn maze. Many farms earn extra income for the winter by turning their cornfields into large mazes. Test your directional sense, and get some fresh air in the process. Corn mazes are fun or all ages.

• Stuff a scarecrow. Dig out an old shirt and overalls, and stuff it with leaves until firm. Add a pumpkin head (from your trip to the pumpkin patch) and you’ve got a great fall decoration.

• Fly a kite. The gusty, brisk air makes autumn a great time for flying kites. Buy one from the store, or make your own from two long sticks, strong paper, and string.

• Have a bonfire. Invite some friends over for a backyard bonfire. The chill in the air makes fall the perfect time to sit together by the warmth of a blazing fire with a nice warm mug of cocoa or cider. Be sure to get any necessary permits from your town first.

• Make a leaf pile and jump in!

Childproofing.

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With shorter days and colder weather, you and the children are probably spending more time inside the house. Please be sure that the house is “childproof” with these simple tips:

  • Children are curious; many small children put everything into their mouths. Be sure no small objects are within the child’s reach.
  • Plastic bags, long cords and very soft pillows can be dangerous to children.
  • If a toy gets broken and has sharp edges, keep it away from children!
  • Be sure that laundry soap and other cleaners are out of reach of the children.
  • Don’t leave any medicines in reach of children, not even vitamins.
  • Keep scissors and knives out of reach.
  • Store the toys that belong to older children out of reach of babies and toddlers.
  • Many cosmetic items and toiletries, such as mouthwash, perfume, nail polish, and hair spray, are poisonous. Keep them out of children’s reach.

Caramel Apples

 

Make some caramel apples with your kids to get into the carnival vibe and enjoy some yummy treats.

applesAll you need are apples, cubes of caramel, and milk!

  1. Remove the stem from each apple and press a craft stick into the top.
  2. Butter a baking sheet
  3. Place caramels and milk into a microwave bowl and microwave for 2 minutes.
  4. Roll each apple with caramel sauce and place on sheet to set.

PS – You can use treats like nuts, cookies, etc. to add some extra flavor! (Always check for allergies before serving)

Checklist Place Mat

checklist
Table your constant stream of morning reminders with this clever place mat, which allows kids to take responsibility for their own must-dos.
Materials
  • Decorative paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • 18- by 12-inch sheet of poster board
  • Markers
  • Clear Con-Tact paper (or have it laminated at a copy shop)
  • Nontoxic dry-erase marker
  • Adhesive-backed Velcro dot
Instructions
  1. Cut three 6- by 12-inch rectangles from decorative paper. Use a glue stick to affix them side by side onto the poster board.
  2. Write a “Do at Home” checklist on the left rectangle and a “Take to School” checklist on the right one (leave a few blank spaces at the bottom of each list for write-in reminders).
  3. Have the place mat laminated at a copy shop or cover it with clear Con-Tact paper. Your child can use a nontoxic dry-erase marker to check off items or write additional reminders. Affix an adhesive-backed Velcro dot to keep the marker in a handy spot on the mat.

Welcoming Your New Au Pair.

Welcoming Your Au Pair

welcome

After you match with your new au pair and arrange her travel from orientation to your community, it’s very important to keep in touch with her prior to her arrival. Please keep in mind that you have opened your home to someone else’s daughter. There are many things you can do that will help her to feel welcome in your home. An email to check in every so often is reassuring and builds the bonds you started to form when you offered her a home for a year. Sending photos of the children or pictures they have drawn is also a welcome form of connection.

Once your au pair arrives at orientation, please call her to welcome her. It makes the au pair feel much more comfortable to hear from you while she is at orientation. The number at the hotel is 203-358-8400. The best time to call is between 7 and 7:30 AM. You can leave a message for her to call you collect if you can’t reach her directly. An alternative is to call her the night before she leaves home.

Some families send flowers or small packages with personalized stationery or homemade cookies. Ask your counselor for other suggestions if you want to send something, but keep in mind that your au pair will have to transport whatever it is to your house. Faxes can be received by the hotel and are also a nice way to say hello.

Before she travels to your home, prepare a welcome sign made by the children. You can display it at home or use it at the airport or train station. Make sure her room is clean and ready for her. Mark the au pair’s birthday on the family calendar.

When she arrives at your home, she will be tired, excited and probably anxious. Keep in mind the fatigue that being in a new culture causes, particularly if your au pair is not a native English speaker. The au pair needs time to recover from jet lag.

It’s important to give her a few days to unpack, rest and become acclimated to the host family’s home, family and neighborhood before expecting her to assume full child care responsibilities. She should be allowed to find ways to make her space her own; mounting a bulletin board on the wall is one easy way to do this.

According to Department of State regulations, au pairs are not allowed to assume sole responsibility for the children until after she has been in the home three days. Giving her the opportunity to bond with the children one at a time is helpful in building relationships. Those first few days can be used to complete the child care questionnaire for each of your children, to conduct a tour of the neighborhood, to go to the grocery store to determine her food preferences and for her to see the variety of foods available in the US, and to share information about the house and her chores. Many families also use this time to have the au pair drive for the first time.

The Community Counselor will call and/or visit within the first forty-eight hours after the au pair’s arrival.

Some other adjustment issues to keep in mind:

  • The au pair may be confused by directions with so many new things to learn, especially as she works to adapt to a new language and surroundings.
  • She may be homesick, possibly suffering from stomach indigestion as she tries to adapt to new foods, diet and a different time zone.
  • Children may be both excited and apprehensive about the au pair’s arrival, and their behavior patterns may be different from how they generally behave. With patience they will weather the transition.
  • Host parents may need to adapt to sharing living space with a young adult.

Putting time and effort into a positive welcome experience and being prepared for what typically happens in the first few days will give your match a strong foundation to build on.

Saying Goodbye to your Au Pair.

How to Say Goodbye

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TRANSITIONING TO A NEW AU PAIR

As your au pair’s departure date approaches, her departure will affect you and her, as well as the children. There may be many different reactions to the au pair’s departure. You may see (or experience) tears, hostility or withdrawal. Remember that although it is important to talk about feelings, it may be difficult for young children to express feelings of loss, disappointment or betrayal. Therefore, children may act out their feelings instead (this can also be useful and appropriate). Any member of the household may feel angry, abandoned, sad or depressed. One common response to these feelings is to start to distance oneself. This helps some people to say good-bye, but may be confusing to other parties involved.

Here are some things to think about which might help everyone in your household prepare for your au pair’s departure:

  • Young children perceive time differently than adults. Therefore, your preparation for the departure should not begin too far in advance.
  • As the departure date nears, please start to talk with your children about her departure. When possible, it is helpful to link the departure date to some other event (when school is over, soon after vacation, etc.).
  • It would also be desirable for your au pair herself to mention to the children that she will be leaving. Encourage her to do so.
  • If you have not already discussed world geography with your child, this would be a good time to do so. Point out on a globe where you live and where your au pair is going. Discuss the distance and the travel time involved. Be clear that the au pair is going home to her family.
  • Discuss the possibility of staying in touch with letters, e-mail, or even pictures if your child does not write. Be sure you have the au pair’s address, and make plans to write.
  • It is often helpful (and fun) to create a small photo album for your children to look at. After your au pair leaves this can hold important memories for them.
  • If you are having another au pair arrive, discuss the arrival plans with your child. Be sensitive to the possibility that your current au pair might feel badly about being “replaced” in your children’s hearts.
  • Make sure there is an opportunity to say good-bye. Make it clear when it will be the last time your children will be seeing the au pair.
  • If a change in routine is anticipated, try to put it in place before the new au pair arrives if possible.
  • A departing au pair might want to leave a welcoming note to the next au pair along with any useful tips or information that she knows would be helpful. This could help her to feel valued by you.

As concerned parents, we often might want to protect our children from life’s bumps and bruises. However, learning to deal with loss is an important life lesson that can be understood by even young children. It is important to know that someone can care about you and still leave. With support from the family and the au pair, children can feel safe and secure while accepting the au pair’s departure. Children are often more resilient than we give them credit for, and they are also often a reflection of their parents’ feelings.

Healthy Snacks for Adults

March is Nutrition Month – Tip # 3

nutrition

Make snacks work for you by choosing nutrient-rich foods from the MyPyramid food groups. Snacks can boost your energy between meals and supply essential vitamins and minerals. There is a place for snacks in a healthy eating plan. Just choose wisely:

• Think of snacks as mini-meals that contribute nutrient-rich foods. You can fit snack calories into your personal healthy eating plan without over-spending your day’s calorie budget.

• Snack only when you’re hungry. Skip the urge to nibble when you’re bored, frustrated or stressed. Feed the urge to do something by walking the dog or working in the garden.

• Keep portion control in mind. Have a single-serve container of yogurt or put a small serving of nuts in a bowl. Eating directly from a multiple-serving package can lead to overeating.

• Plan snacks ahead of time. Keep a variety of nutritious ready-to-eat supplies on hand, such as whole-grain crackers and low-fat cheese.

Get creative with the following snack suggestions by swapping out different fruits, vegetables and grains to keep your snacking exciting!

Snacks with 200 calories or less:

• One tablespoon peanut butter spread on slices of a medium apple

• One cup tomato soup with five whole-grain crackers

• Three cups air-popped popcorn sprinkled with three tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

• Tri-color veggie snack: 6 baby carrots, 10 sugar snap peas (or green pepper strips), 6 cherry tomatoes and 2 tablespoons reduced-fat ranch dressing for dipping

• Small baked potato topped with salsa and 1 ounce low-fat cheese

• Toaster waffle topped with ½ cup blueberries and 2 tablespoons low-fat yogurt

• Six whole-wheat crackers and one slice low-fat Colby cheese

• Fruit smoothie: Blend 1 cup fat-free milk, ½ cup frozen strawberries and ½ banana

• One 6-inch flour tortilla with ¼ cup black beans and 2 tablespoons fresh salsa

• Quick-to-fix salad: 2 cups mixed greens with ½ cup mandarin oranges, 1 tablespoon sliced almonds and 2 tablespoons reduced-fat dressing

• Mini-sandwich: Whole-grain dinner roll with 1 slice deli turkey, 1 slice low-fat cheese and mustard

Snacks with 200 to 300 calories for active adults, teens and athletes:

• Refuel between meals or after a work-out with these higher-calorie snacks. Watch serving sizes to stay within the range of 200 to 300 calories.

• Whole wheat pita cut into wedges with 2 tablespoons hummus for a dip

• Yogurt parfait: Layer 6 ounces fat-free yogurt, ½ cup berries and ¼ cup granola

• Trail mix: Mix 20 almonds, miniature box of raisins, and ¼ cup sunflower seeds

• Instant oatmeal made with fat-free milk with 1 tablespoon honey, ½ cup sliced peaches and dash of cinnamon

• One 4-ounce fat-free, ready-to-eat vanilla pudding with ½ cup fresh fruit and 5 vanilla wafers

• Veggie pizzas: Split whole wheat English muffin. Top with 2 tablespoons low-fat cream cheese, ½ cup diced fresh veggies and one ounce low-fat mozzarella cheese

• Cinnamon-raisin mini-bagel spread with one tablespoon peanut butter

• Hot chocolate made with low-fat or fat-free milk and a small oatmeal cookie

• Whole-grain toaster waffle with 1 ½ tablespoons chocolate-flavored hazelnut spread

• Banana split: banana sliced length-wise topped with ½ cup frozen yogurt and a tablespoon of chopped nuts

For more healthy eating tips, visit www.eatright.org.

Make Your Own Blarney Stone

Blarney Stone CraftIn this simple project, a smooth river rock is turned into a small, kissable Blarney Stone.In southwestern Ireland, there is a very famous stone, called the Blarney Stone. It is located high up in Blarney Castle. If you kiss the Blarney Stone, it is supposed to give you the gift of eloquence.
Supplies needed:

  • A smooth, clean river rock
  • Brush
  • Green paint
  • Glue
  • Markers
  • Glitter, sequins, plastic jewels, googly eyes, bits of yarn, etc.
Make sure your rock is clean and dry. Paint the rock green.
After the paint is dry, decorate your rock using glitter, sequins, beads, plastic jewels, googly eyes, bits of yarn, or other interesting items.
When the paint and glue are dry, add details (like eyebrows, etc.) using markers.You now have your own small Blarney Stone to help you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.