Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday Meanderings - Craft Time!

Well, I hope everyone is enjoying their three day week-end. Memorial Day is a great day to spend a little relaxing time with the family.

These are some great things I came across and hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Do you remember Tin Can Telephones? I had forgotten how much fun they could be. Maybe it is time to teach the kids how much fun low-tech can be.  Joel of Made by Joel brought back these fond memories for me.

The next link is a great resource. I have yet to meet a child that does not love regular sized bubbles but when they are giant bubbles they will be "bubbling" over with excitement. Please take the time to check out Suna's blog. She has some great ideas at Monkey Lobster.

This next project is not only fun but beneficial. I have a hard time keeping mind of which hat is my son's since some of his friends will have the same hat. This clears up that problem for me though. Thanks to The Amazing Mess for such a great idea.

Well, once again I hope you are taking some time to enjoy the family on this extended weekend holiday. Have some fun!

Friday, May 28, 2010

June Calendar

June 2010 Cal

As hard as it is to believe, June 2010 has arrived. I hope that you are able to find some fun things to do on the new calendar.

Post of Apology

Well, I know you are used to seeing an interview and a give away on Fridays but this week I am empty handed.I am looking at a re-vamp of the Friday posting with some interviews and give-aways still but not every single Friday. I am tossing around a few more ideas of postings on Fridays and just need to make a decision at this point. No fears though, you will be the first to know once the decision is made. As a closing note, I hope everyone has a safe Memorial Day holiday.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Kicking it with the Council - A Winner

I am happy to announce that we have a winner of the Free Summer Session of MusikMatters that was so kindly donated by Kim Buckner last week.

Comment #2 by Zfuqua was our winner.Zfuqua stated "Thanks for sharing, MusikMatters sounds like a great program. I know my kids would have a blast and never realize how much "work" they were doing. My sister takes her daughters to a class that sounds very similar to this and they love it. Thanks again for posting this interview. "

As for the free subscription to the Taste of Home Healthy Cooking giveaway, the winner Mojlom, has still not contacted me so I have drawn a new winner. The new winner is Lisa, who said "followed that show all season. That was an interesting follow up. I'm enjoying working in the garden with my kids. We get to look at bugs and worms, and hopefully this get them excited about eating something they helped grow."

I have contacted both of our winners. Congratulations to both of you!

What are your kid's dreams?

Well, we have all heard the news now of the thirteen year old boy, Jordan Romero, that has now climbed Mount Everest and is now only one peak away from climbing the highest peaks on each continent.This is a feat that only 200 people before him have completed and none of them have been as young as he is.

In May, sixteen year old Jessica Watson became the youngest person to ever sail around the world solo, non-stop and unassisted. She is only one of 166 people to complete this feat.

These are just two examples of amazing accomplishments by kids. We have all heard numerous stories of kids that have founded non-profit organizations, written books and invented amazing contraptions that change the world. There is no loss of amazing stories of these kids and I am not here to debate whether the climbing and sailing solo feats are safe or even advisable. I am here to ask the parents a simple question: What do your kids dream of doing?

Do your kids want to climb a mountain or is the mountain just figurative for them and they want to accomplish other great things? As kids, we all dream big; but as parents how do we encourage these dreams? I really do believe that anyone can grow up and be President, but how do I nurture that if it really is my kid's dream? Do I let his main focus in school be history or should we be more concerned with current affairs? How many languages does the president speak and how many should my son learn? Do I bring him up around the super rich or do we stay within our economic group? These are all questions that are geared toward presidency but every kids wants to do something and be somebody.

Do we sometimes crush their dreams because we do not think we have the financial resources to make them come true? Even more importantly, do we sometimes crush their dreams because those are not the dreams that we had picked out for them? When I was pregnant, I wanted my son to grow up and be a marine biologist because I thought it was so interesting and it was probably Shark Week on the Discovery channel. He will be starting swimming lessons this summer so maybe I am starting to push him in the direction I want him to go already, or maybe I just don't want him to suffer any damages when we go to the pool. These are all things that we must ask ourselves at sometime in our life.

Being the parent means we have to answer the tough questions but are we really prepared to answer them? There are grants available to kids that want to give back to the world and the kids that have other dreams can try to find mentors and sponsors in their dream line of work. It is never hard to dream but it is usually hard to make them come true. As parents we all wish we had a magic wand and "Poof" our kids dreams are now their successes but that is not how life goes.

My first suggestion would be to make a list of your kids dreams. You can not make them all come true but when they are our age they may enjoy looking back at them to see what they were like as kids. Second, realize that not all things that your kids dream are feasible or even truly wanted by your child. Sometimes it is just talk. Third, try to support your child as much as you can in their dreams. If you are accomplishing one of your childhood dreams, let them know and let them experience it with you. Check out books at the library about the dream subject, make some phone calls to people already doing it. I believe the world is inherently a good place and people want to help one another.

Allow your kids to dream big!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tuesday Teachings - How does the Brain work?

Your brain is control central of your body. It is constantly sending and receiving messages. These messages zoom to and from the brain along the super highway of nerves through out your body. Each time you get an itch or your body brushes against something a message is sent along the nerves to your brain and then your brain sends a message out to your body to react to this. If a bug lands on your left hand, a message is then sent along the arm, up the neck and to the brain. The brain then turns around and sends a message down the neck and to the right hand to swat the bug away. This may seem like a time consuming act but the messages actually travel along your nerves faster than a high speed train, even faster than Thomas the Train.

Some brain facts:
  • A thick layer of bone protects your brain. This is called your skull.
  • You are born with billions of brain cells, all that you will ever need.
  • Your brain is made up of billions of special cells called neurons.
  • A message is passed from one neuron to the next, until it reaches its destination.
  • Your brain has two halves. Your left side is the logical side and the side that you use for things like math and science. Your right side is the creative side that you use for crafts, drawing and other creative activities.
There are times that you do things with out your brain getting involved. These are called reflexes. You have probably had a doctor check your reflexes by tapping your knees and watching your leg kick out. This action did not involve the brain at all. In order for your reflexes to kick into action though you have to be very accurate in the placement. This is why sometimes your doctor has to try a couple of times before your leg kicks out.

There are sections of your brain that are focused on just one activity. One area controls all of your speech, another area controls all of your movements. One area controls your heartbeat. Each section has an assigned job to perform.

As you can see from the pictures enclosed on this posting, it is not hard to make a brain from clay or play-doh. Ours is done in all skin tone colors but you can make one with any colors you may have on hand. A great activity would be to use different colors for the different parts of the brain or use different colors for the different actions the brain controls.

Another way to teach kids about their brain is to have them memorize something. You will want this to be based on the age of the child. Do not discourage the child by having them try to memorize something that is too hard or easy for their age. I have included some samples below.

Babies: Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake bakers man!
              Bake me a cake as fast as you can.
              Pat it and prick it
              And mark it with a (child's initial)
             And put it in the oven for (child's name) and me!

Preschoolers: You are my sunshine,
                       My only sunshine.
                       You make me happy when skies are gray.
                       You'll never know, dear, How much I love you.
                       Please don't take my sunshine away.

Elementary:  I started as a tiny egg
                     Upon a leaf of green
                     And now I stay upon the leaf
                     So I will not be seen
                     Soon I'll build a chrysalis
                     Upon a limb up high
                     I'll stay a while and then come out
                    And be a butterfly .

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday Meanderings - Birthday Parties

Well I thought we could go over some of the great ideas that I found online for fun birthday parties. I think the current craze for birthdays is quite extravagant and most people can not afford to go over the top for parties. I would rather have a more intimate party for my child, where he and his friends can play together and have a good time. Birthdays are about having fun and celebrating, not about going broke.

I hope you can find some good ideas for any birthday parties that you have coming up soon.

The first party has a Race Car theme and was featured on Makes and Takes. The snacks and "tire cake" are very cute and there are even some great activities to do at the party that will not break the bank.

The next part is a sock monkey theme from Oh My Gluestick! The monkeys are too cute for words and she has the downloads available on her site.

The next party is a mermaid party compliments of The True Confessions of Mrs. Olson. The accessories are just adorable.

The next party up is a Bug theme and is versatile enough for boys or girls to enjoy. I love the party favors that Journey to Josie made.

As you can see, it is not hard to come up with a great affordable party. Just pick a theme that your child loves and then get a little creative. Let us know about some of your great birthday parties.

I want to close with a link to one more great blog. Party Planning Mom is a great place fro affordable party ideas. She does not just do kids parties though because as we all need, Mom & Dad need some special time also.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Kicking it with the Council - An Interview

Today we will be interviewing Kim Buckner. Many people around the Lexington KY area will be familiar with Kim. She trains at the Child Care Council, she is a realtor here in town and she operates a MusikMatters business here in Lexington.

Child Care Council (CCC): How did you get involved with MusikMatters?
Kim Buckner (KB): I opened MusikMatters in 2001.
CCC: What drew you to MusikMatters?
KB: I had a busy 2yr old son that loved music & I realized I could teach him pretty much anything if I put it to a song and made it fun.
CCC: What is the benefit of MusikMatters over just dancing with your child?
KB: MusikMatters offers 45 minutes of structured activities. Each activity targets a different developmental task such as fine motor skills, visual tracking and coordination. Dancing with your child is a fabulous way to help your child develop, and we do plenty of dancing in our classes! We just like to enhance the learning experience by tackling more than one task at a time.
CCC: Are the classes just dancing around or do you introduce manipulatives in the classes?
KB: We do as much sitting in a circle as we do dancing, so we have to offer manipulatives to keep the little ones engaged. We use shakers, small rhythm sticks, scarves, ribbons, bean bags, hula hoops, drums - all things that kids love to play with (they think it’s play, but it’s really work)!
CCC: What are some gross motor skills that are encouraged by MusikMatters?
KB: Walking in a line (this is huge when you start school), galloping, jumping, hopping on one foot and dancing are some of the skills we work on in class.
CCC: What are some of the fine motor skills that are encouraged?
KB: We use bubbles to encourage children to “point” to pop them, and finger plays. As they get older, we thread shoestrings through different shapes to prepare their little fingers for pencil holding.
CCC: Are your MusikMatters classes offered throughout the area?
KB: No, just here in Lexington. We are opening a new location in Richmond in August.
CCC: What is the appropriate age to begin introducing a class like this to your child?
KB: We start at 2 months and go through 6 years.
CCC: Do parents usually participate in the classes or just watch?
KB: Parent/caregiver participation is a must! Children do what they see so it’s important that we grown-ups show them the ropes. We get to quack like ducks and gallop like ponies right along with the kids! It’s quite a workout.
CCC: Can you buy videos, CD’s or books from the classes?
KB: No. We use music that can be purchased anywhere and keep the activities simple to encourage families to do the things they learn in class at home.
CCC: Where are your classes offered and is there a website available for people to visit?
KB: The Lexington classes are offered at Word of Hope Lutheran Church (on the corner of Man O’ War & Armstrong Mill), the Richmond Classes will be held at the Telford YMCA. Our website is
CCC: How does someone get started enrolling their kids in the program and how ling do the classes last? Do all MusikMatter studios offer a free try out class?
KB: Everyone gets a free trial class (who wants to pay for something before you try it?). Just give us a call at 859.554.5450 or visit our website to join a class. The sessions are 12 weeks long and students attend class once per week. For summer, we offer a shorter 4 week session as well as camps. The Summer Camps for this year are “Pirates & Princesses”, “Luau”, “School Readiness” and a Patriotic day. We do music time, have crafts each day, eat a snack and play fun developmental games. The camps are probably one of my favorite things that we offer at MusikMatters!
CCC: Is this a good environment for kids that have special needs, for example are not walking or talking yet at 2 or 3 years of age?
KB: Absolutely! We offer a non-stressful, non-judgmental & non-competitive atmosphere. We have several families from First Steps that attend our classes and love them! We have offered classes for the Visually Impaired Preschool since 2002 and the Child Development Centers of the Bluegrass since 2005. We try to address the needs & strengths of each child in each class. It’s quite an undertaking, but the results are more than worth it!
CCC: Is there a degree of therapy to the classes?
KB: Yes. From physical to speech, all areas are addressed. We have had a music therapist on our team of teachers & she uses our activities and techniques in her private therapy sessions.
CCC: What is the highest age that you offer classes to?
KB: 6 years. Our goal is to prepare children developmentally for school-not just academically & physically, but socially as well. Many of our students started our classes as infants and will be going to Kindergarten in the fall! Ask any parent and they will tell you their child is prepared. After years of activities that focused on listening, impulse control, coordination, rhyming & teamwork, it’s time for us to watch them excel in other areas. It always makes me sad when a child ages out of our program, but I like to think that what we have given to them will make their school years simple & easy. That thought helps me hold back the tears (sometimes)!

As a special give away this week Kim has graciously offered to donate a free FOUR WEEK SUMMER SESSION valued at $40.00 to one winner. The same rules apply. You can register up to 6 separate times following the rules below.

1. Leave a comment on this blog posting telling us your favorite song to dance to with kids.
2. Become a follower of our blog.
3. Become a fan of KIDS MATTER on Facebook and post it on the blog.
4. Become a fan of Child Care Council of Kentucky on Facebook and post it on the blog.
5. Follow us on Twitter and post it on the blog.
6. Blog about the interview on your blog, linking back to us.

Thanks and the registration for the giveaway will end on Wednesday May 19th.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Kicking it with the Council - A Winner

Well, the winner of the one year subscription to Taste of Home's Healthy Cooking is Comment #5 by MOJLOM. I do not have contact information for her/him though so please contact me with your mailing address.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for another great give away!

What is often missing in Early Education?

There are many great preschools and daycares in the world, not to mention the great work that parents are doing with their kids but there is often time something missing. More often than not that thing seems to be science.

Preschoolers can not operate bunson burners and we do not want them mixing up dangerous chemicals but there is still room for science in their lives. You do not have to be "hardcore" to be a "real scientist".

Some experiments to try with young kids:

Color mixing

Supplies needed:
ice cube tray
3 small bowls
red, blue and yellow food coloring
eye droppers

Put water in the three bowls. To the first bowl add enough drops of red food coloring to make red water. Now make the water in the second bowl blue and the third bowl yellow. Allow the kids to use the droppers to extract water from the bowls and put it in the slots of the ice cube tray. Allow them to mix the colors to get new colors. As they do this be sure to point out the new colors by name. You could even make lists for them of the colors that were added together to make the new colors.

Popcorn Dance

Supplies needed:
clear glass jar
2 tbsp baking soda
10-15 popcorn kernels

Fill a small clear glass jar 3/4 way with water. Add the baking soda and mix well. At this point you can add food coloring also if you would like but it is not necessary. Put the unpopped popcorn kernels n the jar and add a few drops of vinegar. In about 1-2 minutes the popcorn will begin to dance around.

Sun Painting

Supplies needed:
black construction paper
flat objects

Take the supplies outside and set the paper in a sunny spot. Lay the objects on top of the paper. Leave it in the sun for a few hours and when you come back the paper that was not covered will have been faded by the sun.

Invisible Drawings

Supplies needed:
white paper
white crayons
colored crayons

have the children draw a picture or write on the white paper with the white crayon. When they are ready to see the drawing have them use a colored crayon to color over the whole white page. The crayon will not color in where the white crayon has already made marks.

Ice, Ice Baby

Supplies needed:
wide mouth jar
ice cubes

Put water in the jar and add an ice cube. Have the child put the string on top of the ice cube and see if they can pick it up. Since they can not then sprinkle a little salt on the ice cube and count to 10. Now try it again. They will be amazed that they can pick it up now. You can explain to them that the salt allowed the ice to melt just enough to stick to the string.

And remember that not all experiments will go as planned. Sometimes they will just want to pour the water from one container to another and that is fine also. The important part is trying something with your kids.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tuesday Teachings - Taste

Well, we have moved thru two of the senses and we are now going on to the sense of Taste. Obviously taste is very subjective but we all have things we love or hate.

Our first experiment will be about sweet or sour.
Let the kids make lemonade with you.

Supplies needed:
3 cups cold water
1/2 cup sugar
juice of four lemons
one lemon sliced in rings and then halved

Put the water, sugar and lemon juice in a pitcher and stir well to dissolve the sugar.

Pour each child a glass of lemonade and take a slice of lemon and give to them. First have the child suck on the lemon slice. How does it taste? Is it sweet or sour? Do you like the taste?

Now let the child taste the lemonade. How does it taste? Does it taste like the lemon? Is it sweet or sour? Do you like the taste?

Now we move on to sweet or salty.
Now hand each child a plate with pretzels and apple slices on it. Talk about the difference between sweet and salty then let the kids eat the pretzels and the apples. Which one tastes sweet? Which one tastes salty? Which one do you like best? What are some other things you like to eat that are sweet or salty?

Moving on to hot or cold food.
Now you will give each child a plate with a quarter of a grilled cheese sandwich and a quarter of a regular cheese sandwich on it. Which one is hot and which one is cold? What other foods do you prefer to be cold? What other foods do you prefer to be hot?

Blind Taste Testers
Now you will want a sampling of foods that your child will be able to identify by taste alone. You may want to try crackers, apples, bananas and some of the foods above. Have the kids gather around the table and ask them to close their eyes and open their mouths. Put a small piece of the food in their mouths and ask them to chew and open their eyes. Can they identify the food? Give them hints if necessary. Do they think the food is sweet, salty, sour, hot or cold? Do they like the food?

A good extension of this project will be to talk the kids into trying new foods to see of they are sweet or salty or sour. It is all in the name of science and they may just find something new that they like.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday Meanderings - Scavenger Hunts

Well, now that the weather is consistently nicer outside it is time to get outside and enjoy it with your kids. I kept that in mind as I was surfing this week-end looking for some great projects to do with your kids.

The first link is for Curly Birds. As her young daughters tried to participate in a scavenger hunt a time back she realized it was hard for them since everything was written in a list. She took action and has now offered the new illustrated scavenger hunt page for download. Her illustrations are adorable and the kids will be able to find most of the items anywhere.

If you know anyone that embroiders you could have some scavenger cards made for your children, if not you can order them from Kid N Around Creations on Etsy. The Easter Bunny brought these to my son and we enjoy searching for the items in the backyard and the park.

If you want a little change for your scavenger hunt you could do a picture taking hunt. You decide on a subject and take pictures of all of the varieties of it you can find. For example - If you choose flowers, you go around the park or the yard and take pictures of as many different varieties and colors of flowers that you can find.

I hope you and your family have a great time looking for items in your environment.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Kicking it with the Council - An Interview

This Giveaway is now CLOSED.

Well today’s interview is with Patrick O’Neal. For those of you that watched Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution you will remember Patrick as the Principal of Central City Elementary in Huntington, WV. Since the show has gone off the air we have been very curious to see how the Food Revolution is doing in Huntington so we thought it would be great to do a little investigating.

Child Care Council (CCC): How long have you been principal of Central City Elementary?
Patrick O’Neal (PO): I have been principal at Central City Elementary for 7 years, in which 2 years I was the assistant.

CCC: Has the dynamic of the school changed since Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution was taped there? Would you say that the show made the school a better place?
PO: I would have to say that the dynamics of the school has changed because it has made us more aware of the issues with processed foods. Also, the simple idea of having lunch with natural ingredients just makes sense; you know what you are eating. I wouldn’t necessarily say that the show has made us a better place, but I will say that it has made us more aware of eating healthier.

CCC: It was very interesting to watch the show but as we all know the picture painted onscreen is not always the full truth. What were some of the toughest aspects of the taping?
PO: The toughest aspect of taping would be the spontaneity. They would come up with ideas and would expect me to drop everything to meet their needs. Being in a structured environment such as a school, it is difficult to drop everything and make adjustment to your school day. They were fortunate to have a flexible principal and school to meet their needs.

CCC: Have the changes to natural food over processed food lasted at your school? What about the other schools?
PO: After the taping of the show, we did continue with the cooking of natural ingredients and our cooks adjusted wonderfully – they are an awesome group of ladies. As for the other schools in Cabell County, they are making the transition to cooking with natural ingredients. However, time is short and there are several schools that must have the training. The other issue that has occurred with this transition is the lack of funds to insure all schools have been trained for the new menus.

CCC: There was some drama over the flavored milks served in the schools, are they back in the schools or were you able to completely eliminate them? I was shocked to learn that there was as much or more sugar in the flavored milks as a soda.
PO: The flavored milk is being served once again. This issue of flavored milk is beyond my control and needs to be addressed to the federal government, in particularly – USDA. However, we have eliminated the amount of flavored milk they have during the school day. The cooks accommodated me by serving only white milk during breakfast and only allowing one chocolate or strawberry during lunch. As the principal of Central City Elementary, I would like to have a say in what is being served to my students because there are other means in providing calcium in a student’s diet.

CCC: Are the majority of students eating the food served now or are more kids’ brown bagging their lunches than were prior to the show?
PO: At the beginning, we did have a drop in the number of students eating school lunch and as a result, our number of students bringing their lunch had increased. However, as we continued with the new menu, our number of students eating school lunch has increased which I find outstanding.

CCC: What does a typical weekly menu look like at Central City Elementary now?
PO: Our menu consists of meals made from natural ingredients. We have on a daily basis, fresh fruit available to our students.

Prior to the Revolution                  After the Revolution

CCC: One of the most shocking things on the show for me was when Jamie went to the classroom and none of the children could identify the fruits and vegetables that he had in the classroom. I was completely shocked but then I was in awe and amazed at the turn around the teacher made in her class. She did a full on nutrition boot camp with her class and then they were informed and able to make conscious decisions. Is nutrition a part of your curriculum at Central City now? I realize that nutrition is one of the things that get cut in classes pressured to meet testing guidelines but that teacher inspired many people.
PO: Ms. Blake did an awesome job in teaching her class the different vegetables that Jamie had brought into her class. She took a few minutes of the instructional day to teach the importance of vegetables and the importance they play in living a healthier life. You are correct about nutrition being cut as a part of the curriculum due to the emphasis place on academic achievement. However, Central City Elementary has a plan for next year to implement this component of nutrition back into our curriculum for the next school year.

CCC: Were most of the teachers and staff of Central City on board with the Food Revolution? I realize the cooks were rightfully so not always thrilled with an increase in work but what about the rest of the staff?
PO: I had a few staff members who thought we would be portrayed in a negative manner and was not thrilled the production crew was in our school. And of course, you know as well as I do that change is difficult and they had concerns about the impact this change would have on our students. One big issue was the flavored milk because many of our teachers had said some calcium is better than none at all. That is a valid point, but our students were adapting to drinking white milk when the flavored milk was allowed back.

CCC: On the last episode we saw that you had lost quite a bit of weight since you were no longer eating the processed foods on a daily basis. How have your health and the general health of your school changed?
PO: I was able to benefit from the food revolution because I had decided to make a change for myself. I have taken the base sauce we use at school (includes five different vegetables) and introduced it to my meals at home. I have also made the change in how I was eating. I have learned from the show that you control your health and you must decide on your own the benefits you want out of a healthier lifestyle. As for the school, only time will tell. I cannot control what our students eat. I cannot tell them to eat. I cannot force them to eat. However, I can share my story of how I have taken our school menu home with me and incorporated those meals in my diet at home. I can share with them how it has made me feel overall with the changes that I have made in eating healthier. I only hope we continue to serve meals that are made from natural ingredients, and we completely do away with all processed foods.

CCC: Does your school have recess and daily gym/PE classes?
PO: We do have daily recess when weather permits which is an important component in our school day. As for physical education, our students have PE every third day which I totally disagree with. Students should have PE every day, but once again, that is a money issue. The reason why childhood obesity has increased over the years is because children are not physically active.

Well the CCC would like to thank Patrick for taking time out of his busy day to speak to us. He has shown us that one person can make a decision to help and do great things. During the show, Patrick was accommodating and concerned for his kid’s health. It is great to see a person step forward and do the things they can to make a change.

What is being served in your schools? What is being served in your home? Will you stand up for the health of your kids and their friends? We realize that processed food is quick and easy and that many people have come to rely on that to get a “meal” on the table but is calling it a “meal” entirely accurate? I work full time and have a three year old at home but I try to cook a real meal for us as often as I can. I will not lie to you and tell you that I never go through a drive thru to pick up dinner but I have cut back severely on that. I am making changes in our home, what are you doing in your homes and schools?

As a special give away this week Taste of Home’s Healthy Cooking Magazine has graciously offered to donate a one year subscription valued at $23.94 to one winner. The same rules apply. You can register up to 6 separate times following the rules below.

1. Leave a comment on this blog posting telling us your favorite outdoor activity with kids.
2. Become a follower of our blog.
3. Become a fan of KIDS MATTER on Facebook and post it on the blog.
4. Become a fan of Child Care Council of Kentucky on Facebook and post it on the blog.
5. Follow us on Twitterand post it on the blog.
6. Blog about the interview on your blog, linking back to us.

Thanks and the registration for the giveaway will end on Wednesday May 19th.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Choosing Summer Child Care

Well, it is almost mid May which means schools will be dismissing for summer break soon. The kids are all thrilled by the prospect of a free summer but the parents that work outside of the home are thinking "Oh no, who will watch my children all summer? Will they be safe?"

We thought this would be a great time to post some tips from Child Care Aware for finding Summer Child Care.
  • Looking. Explore all types of child care options - family child care, centers, parks and recreation departments, community based organizations, school districts and day or overnight camps. Be sure to visit each of the programs and do your own evaluation. Do they look safe? Do the staff enjoy talking and interacting with the kids? After you pick your program, be sure to continue to visit it and evaluate it for continued safety for your child.
  • Check. How long has the program operated? What percentage of children return each year? Is the program certified or accredited by a professional association? Check references from parents that have used the program.
  • Count. Count the number of adults and the number of children they will be responsible for supervising. Be certain there are enough adults to supervise ALL of the different activities that are planned.
  • Ask. Ask your child what kind of programs he or she would like to participate in. Involve the kids in the decision making process. Look for training and experience of all adults who will be with your kids. Do they have first aid and CPR training? Are their discipline policies compatible with your philosophy? Are children able to choose among different activities? What do the adults know about child development? How will they encourage your kids independence and help build self-esteem? If the activities are outside, will they be applying sunscreen?
  • Be informed. Find out about efforts in your community to support and expand summer child care options, For more information, contact your local child care resource and referral agency. To find your local agency, contact Child Care Aware at: 1-800-424-2246 or visit their website.

Some more tips:
  • Be sure to ask about scholarship or financial assistance that may be available to assist families.
  • Be sure your child's nutritional needs will be met. Some programs will provide a meal but others will require a brown bag lunch, regardless of the provider of the food be sure your child is getting nutritious meals to keep up their energy and health.
  • Check into the program that your kids best friend is attending. They will already have a close buddy to help cut down on any trepidation of being the new kid.
  • Children over age 12 may benefit from a counselor trainee program. It is a great self -esteem builder to help kids younger than you.
  • Consider hiring a mature teenager or college student to care for your kids.
  • Consider setting up a co-op arrangement with neighborhood families or good friends. This could lower the cost by everyone chipping in to hire a couple of caregivers for all the kids. This could provide supervision, companionship and transportation to activities.
You can always visit Child Care Aware for more information on finding good childcare. Your local Child Care Resource and Referral Agency can be a huge asset for you.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tuesday Teachings - Feeling

As we continue with the senses we will go on to the sense of feel this week. Many people are very texture oriented whether it be with their hands or their mouths. For example, I have a need to touch most things and it is important to me that clothes and other material items in my home not be of a scratchy material. I want them to be soft and I touch anything to decide whether it makes the cut. I am the same way with food, I can not eat watermelon because it feels strange in my mouth.

This week we are going to show you some things to do to introduce the feeling of touch to your kids. As you ask the questions the kids can write down their answers on a piece of paper and if they can not write yet, you can write it for them.

First up is sandpaper letters. I purchased these letters a year or so ago on EBay. You do not have to have these exact letters to do this experiment. You could put down a thick layer of glue in the letter shapes on a thin piece of craft wood. Then cover the glue with clean sand and let dry. You could also cut out sandpaper using letter stencils and glue them to thin craft wood. The point of this is to let your kids trace the letters with their finger. Let them feel the bumpiness of the sandpaper and then let them trace a letter that you wrote on a piece of paper.

Ask them questions about the different feel of the sandpaper and the written letter. Let them use their own words to explain the texture changes.

Next we will do a few small bowls of different texture materials. You may want to do this experiment on a vinyl tablecloth to contain some of the mess. Just remember that the whole point is to feel these things.

First is the left over Easter grass. Put a handful in a bowl and then hand it to the child to feel it and rub it together in their hands. Encourage the child to take it out of the bowl and really squeeze it. Does it make any sound when you squeeze it? Does it feel sticky or soft? Ask lots of questions.

Now hand your child another bowl with some modeling material that is not play d'oh in it. I am using Bubber but their are other products out there. How does this feel when you squeeze it? Does it make any sound? Is it sticky or soft?

Now we move on to the bowl of pom poms. How do these feel? Does it make any sound? Is it sticky or soft when you squeeze it?

Now we finish up with Play Doh. How does this feel? Is it sticky or soft? Does it make any sound?

Once your child has felt all of the containers by themselves, let them try them all out together, They can line up the bowls and move from one texture to another and really get a feel for the variety of textures. If you do not have all of these materials available to you, you can also try a variety of fabric samples. If you go with fabric be sure there is a high rate of texture changes between the fabrics you choose.

Some follow up trials for you and the kids could include: finger painting, digging in the dirt and helping out in the kitchen. It is okay for the kids to make a mess as this is a learning experience.

We hope you have enjoyed this week's Tuesday Teachings. Please post and let us know how your experiments go or how you teach your kids about the feeling of touch.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday Meanderings - Nature Study

As I was online over the weekend I found the most interesting blog. It is called Handbook of Nature Study and the entire blog is dedicated to a woman and her family studying nature. Barb homeschools her four children and a part of thier curriculum included nature study. She has written several ebooks about studying nature with your families and I found the entire ste very informative. The Nature Journals that they keep were interesting and I want to go on a walk with them some time but alas, they are on the other side of the country from me. Guess I will take my own child out for a walk instead.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Kicking it with the Council - An Interview

We will be back on May 14th with a very special guest. As you know the Child Care Council of KY is a huge fan of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. Next week we will be interviewing Patrick O'Neal. For those who watched the show you will remember Patrick as the principal of Central City Elementary School in Huntington, WV.

We are very excited to have Patrick take time out of his busy schedule to keep us apprised of the progress being made at the school since Jamie went home. Are they still trying to keep the Revolution alive or have they gone back to thier old ways? Join us next week to find out.

We are also planning on a special give away for next week. Come back and see what we have and be sure to tell all of your friends.

Have a great Mother's Day week-end!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Where to start? Reading or Computers?

As we prepare to raise our children in a world that was much different than our own upbringing we will have to ponder many important decisions. Just one of those questions will be what is more important for my child to learn and be proficient at, reading or technology? Some parents may think that you can combine the two now with the computerized books and all but I think reading the old fashion way, with a real book that does not contain a computer chip is still the way to start. There are places where computerized books are beneficial but I think every child should have real books in their lives.

There are many sides to this argument and I am not here to tell you which is the best choice for your family. I am just going to tell you my opinion that has been established raising my own child. I know the whole world now revolves around technology but I still believe that reading should be a very important part of any person’s life, regardless of age. As a child I would read to exercise my imagination, my parents would know that I was also exercising my brain and learning things but that was not important to me. What I cared about were the places I could go and the things I could be. I had and still have many friends that never developed that love of reading. I still find that sad for them. They never knew the joys of escaping the drudgery of your every day life and do anything you want. Want to be an astronaut, a lion tamer or a cowboy? All it takes is opening the pages of a book. Want to climb a mountain, lasso a horse or rule over your castle as a Queen? All it takes is opening th epages of a book. I am not saying that computers do not have a place in your child’s life. All children should learn about technology and be proficient at it, but they first need to explore the things in their lives that they can only get with reading. Reading will always be a vital part of their life.

Take the time to read a book to your child and let them see you enjoying a book. It will be a lesson that they can take with them forever. As a small child, try to limit their technology time with computers, TV’s and video games and encourage their love of reading. If you go to your public library the librarians will be happy to provide you with listings of books that are encouraged by ages. If your library does not offer this service, you can go the website for Lexington Public Libraryand they will have book lists with accompanying games to go with them.

Dolly Parton began a program in 1996 called Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. Ms. Parton started this program in her home of Sevier County, TN. The premise of the program is that each child under five will receive a brand new age appropriate book each month from birth until age five. The first book is always the classic “The Little Engine That Could” and the last book is always “Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come”. As word spread of the program other communities wanted the same service offered to their youth. The program has now grown and many, many communities are included in the program. If your community is involved, you can register your child that is under 5 to also receive free books each month, regardless of the families income.

Enjoy a good book with your child tonight and please post a comment with your opinion of technology vs. reading.

Kicking it with the Council - A Winner

We have a winner of the Grimy, Grubby Gardening book. The winner is Julie and I will be contacting her today for mailing information. Please continue to tune in as we plan to bring you more give aways soon! Thanks!!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tuesday Teachings - Hearing

When children are born their hearing is tested and for most babies their hearing is fine. It is our job as parents and teachers to give children the knowledge to pick out different sounds and fine tune their hearing. There are numerous things we can do to help children learn about their hearing.

Making Sound Jars

Start with four plastic jars with screw on lids (plastic peanut butter jars are perfect for this). Remove all labeling and clean the jars thoroughly. Next you will fill each jar halfway with one of these items: cotton balls, rocks/pebbles, dried beans or pasta and sand. If you think your child will remove the lids you can put glue around the rims of the jars prior to replacing the lids. Set out the sound jars for the kids. Have your children close their eyes while you shake the jars. Ask them questions about the sounds they hear.

• Is this a loud sound or a soft sound?
• Does this sound make your ears hurt?

Now have the children open their eyes and hand them the jars. Let them shake the jars and put them in order by softest sounds to loudest sounds. As your child’s hearing recognition improves you can add more sound jars with different items in them like: nuts and bolts, jingle bells, marbles, bouncy balls, small plastic toys or pennies. This will assist your child in knowing what an appropriate sound is for indoors and what an appropriate sound for outdoors is.

Making a Sound

Make lists of sounds that your children will be able to recognize and imitate, such as dogs barking, drumming, cats meowing, cars honking, people clapping and doors slamming. Now make a tape of all of these noises. Play the sounds one at a time for the kids, asking them to name the sound. It may take a couple of plays for them to get it right. Once they guess the sound, ask them to imitate the sound. Repeat with the other sounds.

How Do I Sound?

Get out a tape recorder and a blank tape for the kids. Ask the kids questions and record them as they answer. They can be any questions you want as the questions are not what is important. Once they have answered the questions, play the tape back for them to see if they can recognize their voices on tape. A person does not always sound the same on tape as they do in person.

How Do Others Sound?

Now take the tape recorder to a grandparent or close family friend along with a favorite book of the child. Ask them to tape themselves reading the book to your child with cues to turn the pages. Once that is complete, give the tape and the book to the child to listen too. Ask them if they know who is reading the book to them. This will help them to recognize other people’s voices and to listen closely so they know when to turn the page for the story. It will also give them a closer relationship and recognition of someone that they may not see on a daily basis.

Next week we will move onto another of the five senses. As you try this out you will find that the kids will get tremendous enjoyment from hearing themselves on the tape recording. Most toddler are egocentric and love looking at themselves and listening to themselves. I frequently walk into my three year old’s bedroom and see him kissing himself in the mirror. Have a great week!

Monday, May 3, 2010

May 2010 Calendar

Your May 2010 calendar is available with inexpensive but fun ideas for you and your family. Make it a great month!

Monday Meanderings

As I was online this week-end I found some great links that I would like to share with you.

Unplug Your Kids
If you have never been to this website, you are in for quite a treat. This blog is written by a Mom from Arizona and she and her husband and three kids have been TV free for over 8 years now. She offers up great recommendations for things to do with your family that do not require a plug. Each month she has an Unplugged Project and for May the project is bread.

Super Easy and Healthy Ice Cream
Now that the weather is turning nice it is time to think about ice cream, might as well make it healthy!This is a blog by a Stay at Home Mom that feels fun is the avenue to sanity and tries to add some fun to each of her days.

Roots and Wings Brooch Craft
Another great blog that is maintained by sisters, they offer up some great craft projects and I am never disappointed when I read it.

I hope you enjoy these blogs that I have found for you. Don’t forget you have Teacher Appreciation Week and Mother’s Day coming up fast. Have a great week everyone.