How to Encourage Your Children to Spend More Time Outdoors

It’s a struggle that most parents have in the modern era, especially considering how easily connected our children are amongst many, many devices. How can you encourage your children to spend more time outdoors?

You could pick them up yourself and drag them outside, but as they get older (and heavier), this isn’t viable. What are some practical ways to get your children under the age of 12 outdoors? Read on to learn five solutions.

To entice your children with the thought of being outside, you need to determine what they might be interested in. If your child plays sports during the school year, you could encourage them to practice more by playing the game outdoors, even if it’s a sport that is typically hosted in a gymnasium.

If your child is more artistic, give them some chalk or encourage them to draw outside. We drive a lot of our creative inspiration from things we find in nature, so teach them this lesson by having them do artwork, either on pavement or with whatever medium they choose to work with.

Sometimes our children are fussy, and neither you nor your child knows what they’re interested in. This is where you might have to do some creative thinking and experiment with activities. Encourage them to expand their imaginations and play outdoors, because surely they will find some fun.

More important bonding moments happen outdoors. Because of this, you will encourage your child to put down their devices and enjoy what nature has to offer both your children and you. Since you are the one who wants them to show interest in being outside, be a leader and engage with their activity. If your child wants to play a sport, play with them.

If you can’t figure out what to do outside with them, make a bucket list and knock off every activity together. Just make sure that these activities are exclusive to things you do outdoors. An enjoyable way to knocking off the items on your list is by going on an “adventure” day, which can be designated once or a few times a week. This gives your children a way to have an exciting time with the whole family.

If you have tried everything you can to get your child outside and they are not budging, you might need to invite some of their friends over. Just make sure they are spending their playtime outdoors. This is an excellent way for children to expand their imaginations and have outside, as they are more likely to make up a new activity if other children are around playing with them.

You can also get involved with the community to meet other families with similar interests. Look for events that are coming up and plan to go to at least once a month. Not only will you be getting your family involved with the community, but you might also make connections with other people to arrange further play dates with their children and yours. Having your children socialize more is very beneficial for their overall development.

Kids are already used to getting recess every day, so why not give it to them at home? Use the methods above to create habits for your kids, because sooner than you know it, they will be asking to go outside more often, which means you’ve succeeded in having them spend less time in front of a television or tablet.

Getting them in the habit of going outside will encourage them to spend more and more time outside, even if they are only going out for the portion of the day that you’ve planned.

It might seem too simple, but this method is beneficial. If you have a seating area in any part outside of your house, get your children outside by having them do more daily activities out there. This includes eating meals, doing homework, crafts, and games. And if your kiddos are active readers, introduce them to the world of reading outdoors.

While normal activities are not as engaging as physical activity, they are still spending time outside, which might encourage them to do more of. It can be a fight in itself, getting them to leave the house, so having them do these simple tasks is a big win.

It can be tough to introduce new routines and activities for your kids, especially when they are so used to spending their free time on their digital devices. Just like kids, it can be challenging to do this as an adult. So do not give up, and lead by example. You need to the motivation and inspiration for getting your children outside, so do not give up–because soon you will have more bonding moments with your children.

How to Help Your Kids Socialize With Others

Children come with all types of personalities. Some are chatty and outgoing, and others are quiet and introspective. Some even get nervous and anxious at just the thought of talking to others. There are ways to help kids who are afraid of socializing, however. Here are some tips.

Practice Makes Perfect

For some kids, being social comes naturally. For others, it’s a skill that has to be developed. For those kids, practice can make a big difference. Do some role-playing so they can get used to and remember things to say, and questions to ask new people they might come across at school or on the playground.

Demonstrate Friendship-Building

You might think it’s easy to create lasting friendships with people who you care about, but your child might not. Talk to them about how you treat and interact with your friends, so they can build the skills they will need to keep new friendships and help them flourish.

Preparation

Along with practice, you can role-play to help them prepare for specific situations. For instance, if your child is going to a birthday party, work on the social norms, such as wishing a happy birthday to the host.

Provide Opportunities

It is never a bad idea to get your child out into the world and allow them to interact with other children regularly. That might mean joining a playgroup, or certain extracurriculars. Activities like dance or vocal training can help with confidence as well. Kids can also benefit from watching how other kids socialize with each other, so that they can pick up some skills that way.

Some kids who have trouble socializing are simply shy, and just need to grow out of it or learn to live with it. For others, there may be an underlying issue that should be examined by a pediatrician. If you are concerned, call your child’s doctor to address it.

5 Fun Reading Activities That Kids Will Love

Reading is always fun, but it is never a bad idea to make it even more engaging and exciting for kids. Here are some reading activities that the kids in your life are sure to love.

Spirit Days

Have you been reading Dr. Seuss before bed? How about Harry Potter? One way to enhance your child’s love of reading and books is to get into character. Spend an afternoon dressing up and even talking like your favorite characters. You will no doubt laugh and enjoy trying to come up with Dr. Seuss rhymes for everyday activities.

Door Decorating

Kids love for their rooms to be a reflection of themselves and their interests. Work with your kids to decorate their bedroom doors with elements from their favorite books. You can have photos of yourselves dressed up, drawings, or even simply copies of book covers.

Reading Together

It’s one thing for you to read to kids. They can also read to you. Even more fun is reading together. Reading in chorus will help your children develop their fluency. It will also help them with their reading confidence, since reading out loud is often done in classroom settings.

Take a Trip

Looking for something to do on a quiet day? Why not head to the bookstore or the library? The library often has exhibits, story circles, and special events based around the favorite childrens’ books of the time. Bookstores as well will often have book-based activities that kids will love.

Challenge Them

You don’t ever want to be too forceful in encouraging kids to read, but offering incentives can work, especially if they’re fun. What is more fun than a parent making a fool of themselves? If they read a certain book, for instance, then maybe you can do something silly related to it, such as dress like a ridiculous character for a day, or eat a crazy food like green eggs and ham.

There is no greater gift than to read a good book. Get your kids hooked early with some fun and engaging reading activities.

4 Things to Know About Teaching Your Child to Read

Many parents fret about how quickly and easily their kids learn to read. Along with talking and walking, it may be the skill that they are most concerned with. It can place a lot of pressure not just on the child, but on the parent as well. There is an entire industry geared towards getting kids to read at an early age, and parents are buying up those products in record numbers. Whereas in the past, kids didn’t even start to read until around the age of eight, now kids are entering kindergarten already knowing how. The problem is that all of this emphasis on reading may just put unneeded pressure on everyone involved, and frustrate the child. Here are some things to know to effectively help your child read.

Be Wary of Preconceptions

Children who pick up reading early and those who do not are too often placed in different boxes. However, how early a child learns to read has no bearing on their future reading skills or habits. Do not assume that your child is slow if they are not reading by the time they get to second grade. You should not assume the opposite, either. Some kids just need some more time to master the skill. Things tend to even out during their middle elementary years. If you think your child is slow learning, then drilling them with phonics and placing pressure on them may end up hurting the efforts. Kids can start to view reading as more of a chore than a joy, and will shut it out.

How Reading Works

For most adults, reading has become second nature. We see words and we know what they mean or we can quickly use clues to decipher what they mean. However, in the brain there is a more complicated process happening underneath the surface. Our eyes see the bunch of lines and dots, and our brain almost immediately recognizes the pattern and assigns meaning to what the eyes see. The connections between the eyes and the brain take time and practice to strengthen and develop, so reading can take time. A child will learn that what the letters mean and how to recognize them, and then will learn how to put them together to make words. This is a process known as sounding out.

Reading Goes Beyond Phonics

Recognizing patterns and translating them into meaning is only a part of reading. Sure, a child can sound out a word, but they also must be able to process what they word means. They must be able to determine if a “hat” is a person, a place, or a thing, for instance. Then they must be able to understand grammar and punctuation in sentences. As they develop, they will be able to place things in context to understand what is going on. They will get that animals do not normally talk, which might make a story more interesting. They will also learn to empathize with certain characters and understand the potential consequences of what those characters do. Understanding all of this takes time to develop and for a child to practice.

Patience is a Virtue

Learning to read is a years long process. Parents and teachers should always remember to be patient and nurturing when helping a child to read. It is not about having the best reader in first grade, it is about developing a lifelong love of reading.

5 Ways to Trick Your Kids into Eating Healthier

One of the biggest challenges that parents face these days is getting their kids to eat healthier foods. There are so many processed and junky options out there that it is difficult to get them to eat their greens and fruits. One of the ways that many parents have found success in this regard is by tricking their kids in creative ways. Putting spinach on their plate does not mean they will eat it, but maybe serving it in a different way would work. Here are some sneaky things you can do to get your kids eating healthy foods.

Sneak It Into Sauces

Sauces and dressing are often not the healthiest things on a plate, but that does not have to be the case. Chop up some vegetables into tiny pieces and mix it into your causes. Even a blended veggie is still a veggie. Your kids will not even notice when it is combined with a tasty pasta sauce.

Use A different Type Of Pasta

Kids love pasta. It is a staple in many households. One thing you can do is start serving pasta that is vegetable-based instead of the traditional kind. It has fun colors, and mixed in with a sauce your children will find the taste very similar to what they are used to.

Infuse Vegetables Into Meat

Hamburgers are summertime favorite, and they are also a perfect vehicle for sneaking in some healthy foods. Ground beef makes it easy for you to mix in some pureed vegetables into your hamburger meat for the patties. This would also work just as well if you are making meatballs or meatloaf.

Homemade Fruit Snacks

Kids love to eat processed food snacks in their lunches, but they are not the healthiest option. They have tons of sugar and other unhealthy ingredients. Using a food dehydrator you can create your own snacks that will still pack a flavorful punch without all the junky extra ingredients.

Popsicles

Much like fruit snacks, you can create your own popsicles at home using pureed fruits and vegetables. Freeze them up and your kids will enjoy the cool treat on a hot day.

It does not have to be a frustrating endeavor to get your kids to eat healthy. What they do not know will be good for them.

If you are interested in learning about Today’s Life Schools & Child Care’s Minnesota day care services, feel free to contact us online or call 952-358-2020.

Help Your Kids Avoid Getting Sick With These 6 Tips

Winter means many wonderful things. The crisp air, fun in the snow, and drinking hot drinks after coming in from the cold, just to name a few. Unfortunately, winter also brings with it some unpleasant things, not the least of which is illness. Colds and the flu are very common in winter, especially among kids. Here are some ways to keep your kids healthy during the colder months.

Hand Washing

Hands are constantly collecting bacteria, so they should be washed often. The best way to encourage kids to wash their hands is to make it fun. You can buy fun-smelling soaps, or even a motion sensor dispenser, to make it more interesting to wash up.

Sanitizer

Sometimes it might not be possible to wash with soap and water. Hand sanitizer will kill germs and bacteria on your hands when you are in a pinch and there is no sink nearby.

Layers

Make sure your child dresses in layers during the cold season. For one, you do not want them dressing too lightly. You also do not want them dressing too warmly, because they might sweat which will cool when they take their coat off. Layers mean that your child can have the right level of covering at all times.

Covering Up

It is very important that kids, or anyone for that matter, cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze. If they use their hands, then they will end up touching door knobs and other things that will spread the germs to others. They should use the crook of their elbows.

Tissues Everywhere

Make it easy for your kids to have tissues at hand so they are not using the backs of their hands. You could have a box open in every room of the house so they will never have to go looking for one. You can also send them to school with smaller packs, and put those little packs in their coat pockets as well.

Keep Them Home

There is no reason to send them to school or to do activities when they are sick. The best way to get over a cold is with rest. Not only will it allow their weak immune system to do its work, but they also will not be a risk to others.

If you are interested in learning about Today’s Life Schools & Child Care’s Minnesota day care services, feel free to contact us online or call 952-358-2020.

Ten Fun New Year’s Facts & Traditions

New Year’s is approaching, a time when millions of people will celebrate with food, new resolutions or a even kiss as the clock strikes 12. But how much do you know about the holiday? Here are 10 fun facts about New Year’s.

  • The first New Year’s celebration dates back 4,000 years. Julius Caesar, the emperor of Rome, was the first to declare Jan. 1 a national holiday. He named the month after Janus, the Roman god of doors and gates. Janus had two faces, one looking forward and one looking back. Caesar felt that a month named after this god would be fitting.
  • Forty-five percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. The top resolutions are: to lose weight, get organized, to spend less and save more, to stay fit and healthy, and to quit smoking. While nearly half of all Americans make resolutions, 25 percent of them give up on their resolutions by the second week of January.
  • Be sure to eat leafy greens on New Year’s. Tradition says that the more leafy greens a person eats, the more prosperity he or she will experience (what an incentive for staying healthy!). Tradition also says that legumes bring prosperity because beans and peas look like coins. No wonder why so many people eat black eyed peas on Jan. 1.
  • Many people ring in New Year’s by popping open a bottle of champagne. Americans drink close to 360 million glasses of sparkling wine during this time. The bubbly stuff dates back to the 17th century, when the cork was invented.
  • About 1 million people gather in New York City’s Times Square to watch the ball drop. The Times Square New Year’s Eve ball drop came about because of a ban on fireworks. The first ball in 1907 was 700 pounds and was lit with 100 25-watt lights. The current ball puts the old one to shame (thanks to technology). Today, it is covered in 2,688 crystals, is lit by 32,000 LED lights, weighs 11,875 pounds and is 12 feet in diameter.
  • Remember the last scene in When Harry Met Sally, when Harry references a song after he and Sally kiss? It wasAuld Lang Syne, a song traditionally sung at the end of New Year’s parties. Poet Robert Burns wrote it in 1788. Though most people do not know the words to Auld Lang Syne, the overall message is that people have to remember their loved ones, dead or alive, and keep them close in their hearts.
  • If Santa is the most common symbol associated with Christmas, then Baby New Year is the symbol most commonly associated with….you guessed it, New Year’s! Baby New Year is often seen in a diaper, black top hat, and a sash showing the numbers of the new year. Myth states that he matures into an old man during the year.
  • Make sure to be surrounded by family or loved ones on New Year’s Eve. The first person you come across in the new year could set the tone for the next 12 months. This applies to couples, as well. If a couple celebrating New Year’s together does not kiss, the future of the relationship might be splitsville, so be sure to lay one on your significant other.
  • At the Mummers Parade in Philadelphia, 10,000 participants step through City Hall and perform in unique costumes. The parade dates back to mid-17th-century, incorporating elements from Irish, German, English, Swedish and other European heritages. The parade itself is divided into five divisions: a comic division, wench brigades, fancy division, string bands, and fancy bridges. If you are in the area for New Year’s, be sure to check out this event.
  • According to statistics from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, vehicles are stolen on New Year’s Day more than any other holiday. Don’t think your old car is safe, either. In 2011, the 1994 Honda Accord was the most stolen car. To discourage car theft, make sure your car is in a populated area and always take your keys.

7 Fun Fall Activities For Your Toddler or Preschooler

7 Fun Fall Activities For Kids | Play

The temperature is dropping, the leaves are changing color, it must be fall!

Welcome autumn with one of these 7 simple crafts or activities and have fun.

1. Hand print Fall Tree Craft

With two different ways to craft, older and younger kids can make their own versions of a colorful fall tree. More >

Two fall hand print crafts.


2. Paper Bag Fall Wreath

A fun fall craft to do together. Make a simple wreath and hang it on your front door to welcome fall. More >

A wreath made from paper bags and plastic flowers.

3. Popcorn Kernel Fall Sensory Bin

A simple sensory bin that teaches basic math concepts with measuring cups and leaves. More >

4. Autumn Apple Stamps

Autumn is apple season. Decorate paper, t-shirts, tea towels or aprons with these easy apple stamps. More >

Half an apple covered in red paint, ready to use as a stamp.

5. Pine Cone Hedgehogs

Find pine cones on a nature walk and transform them into adorable little hedgehogs. More >

6. Easy Acorn Mobile

Collect acorns and create a sweet acorn mobile to enjoy all season long. More >

A mobile made with acorns and a branch.

7. Leaf Window Hanging

Use leaves, flowers and grasses to make an easy fall decoration. More >

A window hanging made from leaves and contact paper.

For more info, visit: https://www.cbc.ca/parents/play/view/7-fun-fall-activities-for-kids

10 Outdoor Labor Day Activities for Kids

Labor Day is the last weekend before September kicks into gear…celebrate with these great summer activities! These active crafts and games are best done outside, which makes them perfect for keeping kids busy while you man the grill. Have a great Labor Day!Lemonade Stand
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Nothing says summer like a lemonade stand. Grab a big cardboard box and get started!Painting on the Fence for Toddlers
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Head outside to do some painting with your toddler. It’s fun for them and cleanup is easy: just hose off the fence–and the toddler, too!

Mud Pie Kitchen
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Sometimes, the very best art material is found in your backyard. Collect thrift store finds or old kitchen utensils and make a bakery full of mud pies!

Backyard Car Paint and Wash
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Painting things that don’t normally get painted is so much fun for children. Throw a car wash on top of that and you have some pretty excited kids…and a whole lot of laughs!

Paint with your Feet!
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Sure, kids know all about finger painting. But have they ever painted…with their feet? (This is definitely an outdoor activity!)

Water Balloon Yo-yo
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This activity is sure to bring lots of giggles–and a whole lot of splashing.

Stick Quoits
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Quoits is one of the oldest games. That doesn’t make it any less fun! This version uses ingredients you can find outside. Make and play it at the lake, in the woods…and certainly in your own backyard.

Mini Piñatas
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Kids love to make and break these adorable mini piñatas!

One-of-a-Kind Bubble Bottle
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Kids will have a blast blowing bubbles with this one-of-a-kind bottle.

Shaving Cream Bakery
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Shaving cream play is a great sensory activity for young children. This activity adds a layer of imaginative play that makes it fun for everyone!

 

For more information, visit: https://www.kiwicrate.com/blog/10524/10-outdoor-labor-day-activities-for-kids/

6 Ways Preschoolers Can Celebrate Earth Day

Our earth should be protected so its precious resources can be available to us for many years to come. It is never too early to start teaching children the importance of keeping our planet clean and learning how to reduce, reuse, and recycle. With a little guidance and supervision, kids can get creative helping and celebrating the earth. Just because preschoolers are small doesn’t mean they can’t help make a difference. After all, little steps can lead to big changes.

Decorate a Reusable Tote Bag

Many people are now turning to reusable bags, found in nearly every grocery store, as an alternative to the traditional paper or plastic. Made of cotton, canvas, polyester, or recycled polypropylene, the totes are machine washable or easy to wipe down with mild soap and a damp cloth. You can also order them from Oriental Trading Company or buy them at local craft stores like Michael’s in a variety of colors and styles. Choose a bag and then let your child pick supplies — acrylic paint, fabric markers or paint pens, rhinestones, stickers, animal or earth-themed rubbers stamps and stencils, etc. — to decorate it. Be sure to help with the harder parts of decorating, like writing her name or a fun quote about Earth, making sure paint don’t stain skin or other surfaces, and handling any type of glue such as a glue gun. Your little one will be proud to use her tote to transport toys or carry lunches and snacks.

Reuse Materials for Arts and Crafts

Grab cardboard boxes, shoeboxes, or plastic storage boxes to organize junk mail, old magazines, fabric, ribbons, and extra buttons before they end up in the trash. According to Zerowasteamerica.org, there are more than 13,000 old and active landfills in the United States that contain waste material that cannot be recycled and has nowhere to go until it decomposes — if it can decompose at all. Transform an empty plastic milk jug into a bird feeder by cutting a hole in the side of the jug and filling the jug with birdseed before hanging on a tree. Create a flowerpot by poking holes in the bottom and cutting the milk jug in half below the handle; decorate it with the miscellaneous materials you already stockpiled. Your child can make multiples of these items and set up a stand in the front yard to sell the recycled crafts (with adult supervision, of course). Together, choose an earth-friendly charity, such as American Forests, World Wildlife Fund, or Rainforest Rescue to donate the profits.

Plant a Fruit or Vegetable Garden

Whether in your backyard or at a local garden plot you rent, planting a garden can be fun for any preschooler, especially the ones who like to get dirty. With your child, choose seeds of favorite fruits and vegetables that will grow well in your area to care for through the year. Children will get good exercise; they’ll also learn to nurture the environment and that plants can help clean our air and provide healthy nourishment. Jerusha Klemperer, Associate Director of National Programs at Slow Food USA, writes, “Children who learn in and around edible gardens and farms learn firsthand to make connections between food and the environment, food and personal health, and food and community well being.” Gardening also teaches responsibility and the importance of caring for the planet.

Go on an Earth Day Scavenger Hunt

Make a list of items for your child to collect outdoors, like pinecones, leaves, flowers, rocks, and sticks. Add items like plastic bottles or paper cups. Go on a walk around your neighborhood or to a nearby park. When all the items on the list have been gathered, talk about what role they have and the impact they make on the surrounding environment. For example, sticks are gathered by birds to make nests to live in and flowers have nectar that bees carry back to their hives to make honey. Paper and plastic items, on the other hand, are litter that do not belong in nature and should always be recycled so they don’t continue to pollute or harm the environment.

Pick Up Trash in Your Neighborhood

Kids are constantly picking up objects even when we don’t want them to, so why not encourage them to clean up the earth? Grab a pair of gloves and some trash bags and go to your favorite local park, playground, or beach. Spend a few minutes with your preschooler cleaning and picking up trash. Let your child pick up paper and plastic products, making sure he doesn’t pick up anything dangerous, like broken glass or prickly bottle caps, while you handle the serious stuff, like cigarettes and beer bottles. Take time to explain why it is important to keep the earth clean. Tell your child how trash can make animals sick if they mistake it for food or how trash can increase germs and bacteria that aren’t good for hygiene and health. You may also want to explain how long certain pieces of trash take longer to decompose, which can take up space on earth. For example, a plastic bag can take at least 10 years to decompose, aluminum cans up to 200 years, and disposable diapers over 500 years!

Sort and Separate Recyclables

Many homes today have separate containers for recyclable materials, and some cities even provide recycling bins for bottles and cans, paper products, and yard waste. If you already have bins in place, involve your preschooler in sorting the recyclables. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Recycling just 1 ton of aluminum cans conserves more than 207 million Btu, the equivalent of 36 barrels of oil, or 1,665 gallons of gasoline.” Take your little one to a local supermarket or a recycling center that has machines for depositing bottles and cans. Some of the self-service recycling machines can make loud noises when they crush the bottles and cans. If this scares your child, let her stick to sorting. Other machines simply require the recyclables to be placed on a small conveyor belt where they are separated to be recycled elsewhere. Make a game out of seeing how many bottles and cans you can recycle, and let your child turn the money you get back into a reward for her efforts. Let her choose something small to buy or bring the money home to save in a piggy bank.

For more info visit: http://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/activities/outdoor/earth-day-activities-preschoolers/#page=8

41 Thanksgiving Crafts Kids Can Make

When the Halloween parties are over and the weeks between then and Thanksgiving fly by, we all start to feel busy with the rush of the holidays. Amidst all of the planning and the cooking for your Thanksgiving dinner, you still need to find time to keep your little ones entertained and occupied. From crafts to keep the kids amused during Thanksgiving dinner to festive crafts that teach them about the giving season, we’ve got you covered.

Here are 41 Thanksgiving crafts that your kids can make this season, some that are perfect as decorations and others that become great toys and activities for the whole family. So pick and choose your favorite and celebrate Thanksgiving with the entire family.

  1. Mayflower Hand Print
    Great for kids of all ages, this memorable Mayflower hand print can be framed or kept in a memory box for you to remember for years to come.
  2. Thanksgiving Turkey Bowling
    If you’re looking for a craft that will keep the kids busy even after it’s made, try out these turkey bowling pins and let the little ones loose for a great Thanksgiving game.
  3. Paper Bag Turkey
    Perfect for the kid’s table centerpiece, help your little ones make this fun paper bag turkey and fill it up with their favorite snack.
  4. Feather Headband
    This adorable feather headband is great for older kids to make for themselves and their little siblings to wear. You’ll have a pow wow in your own home with this cute craft.
  5. Paper Plate Turkey
    If you kids didn’t get the chance to make this popular Thanksgiving craft at school, don’t let them miss out and follow this step-by-step tutorial.
  6. Feather Pens
    Inspired by nature and easy to make, feather pens are great to make in spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, so get creative with this beautiful craft.
  7. Paper Pumpkins
    Easy and inexpensive, paper pumpkins are great for all ages and look wonderful as fall decorations in your home.
  8. Pumpkin Paintings
    These easy-to-make pumpkin paintings are perfect for kids of all ages and require only a few supplies. They also make very little mess.
  9. Thanksgiving Tree
    Give thanks with your whole family and create a thanks and giving tree that you can display in your living room and add onto all season.
  10. Gratitude Mobile
    Thanksgiving is about showing your gratitude to the ones your care about, so in light of this thankful time of year, help your kids make a thoughtful Thanksgiving mobile.
  11. Fall Leaf Napkin TagsFall Leaf Napkin Tags
    The perfect touch to a beautiful Thanksgiving spread, have your kids help make these fall leaf napkin tags out of modeling clay and paint.
  12. Indian Vest
    Halloween isn’t the only time you can dress up in costume and this Indian vest is perfect for a Thanksgiving feast with little Pilgrims and Indians.
  13. Thanksgiving Teepee Cupcakes
    A tasty Thanksgiving treat that requires nothing more than a box of cake, ice cream cones and pretzels.
  14. Baby’s First Thanksgiving Card
    To celebrate your baby’s first Thanksgiving, stamp their little hand and create a cute turkey that’s perfect as a card to send to family or as a keepsake in their baby book.
  15. Salt Dough Turkeys
    Perfect for a day indoors and easy to make in the kitchen, your kids will love to craft this adorable Thanksgiving turkey out of salt dough.
  16. Hand Print Turkey KeepsakeHand Print Turkey Keepsake
    For a thoughtful Thanksgiving keepsake from your little ones, help them make a hand print turkey this year that’s great for little hands.
  17. Pilgrim Hat Cookies
    For a delicious treat for your dinner guests, try out these chocolaty Pilgrim hat cookies that everyone will love.
  18. Mayflower Gratitude Boat
    Sail the high seas and channel Christopher Columbus with a Mayflower replica that brings gifts and thanks to your Thanksgiving holiday.
  19. Autumn Fingerprint Tree
    Finger painting never fails to entertain the kids, so why not have them create an autumn tree that you can display every year.
  20. Paper Pilgrim Hat
    Sure to get the kids into the Thanksgiving spirit, these paper Pilgrims hats will look adorable on at your turkey dinner.
  21. Corn on the Cob Pencil HolderCorn on the Cob Pencil Holder
    This pencil holder serves two purposes, one is to keep the kids creative with a fun craft and two is to keep the kids entertained during a long Thanksgiving dinner with colored pencils for their coloring books.
  22. Advent Turkey Calendar
    With some felt and a few googly eyes, you can make a festive Turkey Tom advent calendar this season. And use a skinny dowel in the fabric to keep your calendar lying flat against the wall.
  23. Gratitude Rolls
    Surprise your dinner guests with a little note of thanks inside their dinner roll. Grab some pre-made croissants or rolls to make things easier.
  24. Indian Corn Magnets
    Work on your kids’ fine motor skills with this beaded Indian corn magnet craft that will look great on your fridge during the fall months.
  25. Pumpkin Turkey Centerpiece.
    If you bought your pumpkins late this year, use them for a Thanksgiving dinner centerpiece and turn your squash into a turkey.
  26. Turkey Vase
    Great for young or older kids, this mod podge vase only requires an old soda bottle, tissue paper and glue and your little turkey will create a masterpiece to be proud of.
  27. Pom Pom TurkeysPom Pom Turkeys
    For an adorable Thanksgiving craft your kids will love to make and love to play with even more, try your hand at these easy-to-make pom pom turkeys.
  28. Be Thankful Garland.
    Hang this beautiful Thanksgiving garland across your favorite window and display your kids’ thankful craft in celebration of the holiday.
  29. Turkey Spoon
    Great for young kids, this simple craft takes an old wooden spoon and transforms it into a happy turkey that you can use as a puppet or even a centerpiece for Thanksgiving dinner.
  30. Cereal Box Scarecrow
    All you need is a cereal box, a bundle of straw and paint and you’ve got a cheeky scarecrow perfect for an indoor Thanksgiving decoration.
  31. Indian Corn
    Show your kids how the Native Americans taught the Pilgrims to grow corn with these handmade Indian corn cobs.
  32. Stuffed Glove TurkeysStuffed Glove Turkeys
    Give the kids a chance to stuff their own turkeys with this gloved turkey craft and watch them make a new fluffy friend to add to their toy collection.
  33. Play dough Turkey
    For your little ones that love their play dough, this easy-to-make feathered turkey is a great craft to make in celebration of Thanksgiving.
  34. Veggie Pizza Leaves
    The perfect healthy snack, a veggie pizza leaf filled with broccoli, peppers and carrots is the best way for the whole family to eat light this Thanksgiving season.
  35. Play Salad
    Help your kids find their inner chef and make a play salad out of craft foam and sponges. Pair this with the paper turkey and you’ll have a Thanksgiving dinner that’s great for the kid’s table.
  36. Geometrical Turkey
    For an easy craft for your toddler, gather some construction paper, glue and a few googly eyes and help your little ones make a geometrical turkey.
  37. Thankful Heart Turkey
    Teach your kids to be thankful with a thankful heart turkey where they can write who or what they are grateful for this year.
  38. 10 Fat Turkeys Puppet
    Your little ones will enjoy helping you make this adorable turkey puppet, but they’ll love to see the finished product of 10 fat turkeys in a row.
  39. Indian Corn Cupcakes
    Let the little ones help out with the Thanksgiving dinner preparations and have them make these cute corn cupcakes out of M&Ms and icing.
  40. Pine Cone Turkeys
    An adorable addition to your Thanksgiving decorations and easy to make with just a few supplies and pine cones from your back yard.
  41. Pumpkin Pie Play Dough
    Make your own pumpkin play dough with items you can find in your pantry and let your little one make little pumpkin pie shapes with cookie cutters.

Understanding Your Child’s Development

Children are amazing . . . growing and changing every day.

As parents, we experience many joys (and sometimes frustrations!) with our child’s rapidly changing behaviors, skills, and feelings.

One way to better understand your child is to know more about child development. With advances in brain science, we are learning more about how a child develops and the importance of good early experiences.

The more you know, the more you can help your child.

Helpful Websites

Minnesota Parents Know (parentsknow.state.mn.us/parentsknow/index.html)
Parenting information, resources, and activities to help your child grow, develop, and learn from birth to high school

Zero to Three
Information to support the health and development of infants and toddlers

Minnesota Business for Early Learning
Help your child prepare for kindergarten

10 Ways to Ease Kindergarten Anxiety

Kindergarten can be very different from anything your child has ever experienced before.  The thought of the unknown can make kids feel anxious and unsure about starting school.  While there will always be some level of nervousness when faced with a change, there are things you can do to ease anxiety and help calm fears about school.

1.  Talk to your child.

Discuss what fears he or she may have about school.  This sounds simple, but can be overlooked.  It’s easy to assume what things about starting school are making a child nervous, but what seems scary to adults isn’t always the same thing that is scary to a child.  Find out what your child is worried about.

2.  Share your experiences.

Make sure that your child knows that everyone feels nervous sometimes and it’s okay to feel that way.  Talk about how you were nervous on your first day of work or school and what you did about it.  Use your story to share strategies that would work at school.

3.  Play school.

Play is a wonderful tool for helping to set expectations, manage fears, and gain a sense of confidence about school.  It’s also just plain fun!  Act out possible situations and model how to do things like ask a new friend to play, raise your hand, and ask to go to the bathroom.  Pretend to do the things that teachers do at the beginning of the year, like pre-tests or assessments.  When your child is confronted with a similar situation in school he will feel confident instead of nervous.

4.  Visit the new school and classroom.

When a child can start to see and imagine himself at school he can start to feel more confident about going to school.  If you haven’t already taken a tour of the school arrange to stop by and see it.  Walk around, take pictures, talk about the types of things that will happen in each area.  After you are home sit down and create your own mini-book about school to read.

5.  Read books about school.

Books are fantastic for helping kids deal with change.  Go to the library or bookstore and find books about beginning kindergarten, going to school, making friends, or whatever your child is nervous about.  Even kids who aren’t worried will benefit from reading about going to school.

6.  Write a letter to the teacher.

Once you find out who the kindergarten teacher will be ask your child if he wants to write her a letter or draw her a picture.  The child can ask the teacher questions and tell her a little bit himself.  Writing a letter will help your child connect with the teacher.

7. Host a play date.

Invite other kids over who are in the class or go to the school.  Let your child get to know some of his classmates better so that the idea of kindergarten is more fun.  You don’t need to plan anything huge, even a meet up at the park gives kids a chance to talk and play together.

8.  Develop a goodbye routine.

Kids do better when they know what to expect and transition times can be tough.  Help ease the stress of goodbyes by rehearsing and planning what you both will do.  Tell your child what you are going to do when you take him to school or the bus stop, for example, walk him to the door give him a hug and say see you later alligator.   That way during the craziness of the first week of school you both will know exactly how that transition will go.

9.  Send in a comfort object.

Having comfort object from home can help kids who are anxious about being in a new place, just make sure to follow school rules when choosing something to send in.  A family photo in the backpack, a special bracelet, or a handwritten note can all help make the day easier for students.

10.  Stay calm.

It’s sometimes for parents to deal with the thought of sending their child off to kindergarten.  Make sure your anxieties and feelings aren’t rubbing off on your child.  Talk to friends about how you feel and do your best to maintain a calm and confident manner around your child so he doesn’t get the idea that school is something for him to be worried about.

Starting school can take awhile for some kids to get used to.  Don’t worry if it takes your child more time to adjust than his friends.  All kids handle changes differently.  Keep the teacher informed of any concerns and involve the guidance counselor or your pediatrician if necessary.

 

For more info, visit: http://www.coffeecupsandcrayons.com/10-ways-to-ease-kindergarten-anxiety/