Thursday, January 30, 2014

Top 10 Toddler to Preschooler Series

Top 10 Toddler to Preschooler Series
Developmental Toys (Part 4 of 4)

Belinda @ Kids Matter

A toy is just a piece of household clutter until in the tiny hands of a child, where it becomes a significant cog supporting their world of imagination and educational development. Toys that combine play with education can be used as effective tools in teaching children social and cognitive skills as they mature emotionally and gain self-confidence. Toys motivate fitness, imagination, education, and increase ones skillset’s in life.

1.      Fitness Dice – Toddler+: I absolutely love this game concept. There’s nothing like rolling dice to get the fitness started. Roll the dice to determine which exercise you must do and how many times to do it. (Example: Jumping jacks x 4)

2.     My Giant Busy Box – Age 3+ yrs.: This is a clever idea! Just perfect for those days when the children are confined to the house due to the weather. A box of crafts is a great place to learn and to be extremely creative.

3.       Disney Planes U-Command Supercharged Dusty – Age 4+: This is an excellent toy to increase hand-eye coordination and to learn about aeronautics at the same time.

4       Vtech Innotab 3S or Leap Frog Leappad Ultra – Age 3-9 yrs.: If you click on the link you will see a side by side comparison of the two and it would be up to you to determine which better meets your child’s need and skill level. Either one will be a great “first tablet” for this age range.

5.     Leap Frogs Leapreader – Age 4-9 yrs.: This is a very nice next generation tool to aid in the learning of reading and writing. Children can learn to write the alphabet with interactive guidance.

6.      Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Crawl Around Car – Age up to 3 yrs.: Stimulate your child’s desire to learn and have fun with this stationary car offering 75+ songs, tunes, and phrases. The child can sit in the car or play from the outside. The shape sorter is great for building motor skills.

7.   Playskool Sesame Street Big Hugs Elmo – Age up to 4 yrs.: Big Hugs Elmo sings, hugs, and wants to play. Hugs are important, what better a toy than one that hugs when you need a hug.

8.      Hasbro Furreal Friends Cuddles My Giggly Monkey – Age 4+ yrs.: It is a lifelike and engaging friend for your little one. The monkey giggles and reacts with over 100 sayings when swung, rocked, tickled and fed. 

9.      Wooden Blocks and Large Legos – Age up to 5 yrs.: Building anything is always a great way to entertain and educate your children. They are only limited by their knowledge and imagination. There is nothing more exciting to a little child than when a parent plops down in the floor with them to build a King’s castle.

10.   GeoSafari Animal Eye Viewers – Age 3 – 7 yrs.: This fun toy allows the child to see the world through the eyes of an insect, chameleon, and shark. The eye viewers provide fun through exploring the world with a different perspective.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Schools Cancelled!! What to do!!

Schools Cancelled!! What to do!!
Robin @ Kids Matter
Ok, so school is out again, and there is a forecast for below freezing temperatures and more snow almost all week.  School is sure to be out again, especially with the one lane, curvy roads that school busses have to travel, here in Kentucky.  So, I know you must be wondering what to do?  If kids get bored, it causes nothing but trouble. By now, you are probably running out of ways, other than TV, video games, and a cellphone to keep your child entertained.  Yes, they can go outside, but only for short periods of time due to the extremely low temperatures.  Below are some ideas that will hopefully help with your entertainment dilemma.
·        Have fun in the kitchen.  Children love to help cook!  You will need to do the cooking or baking part, for safety reasons, but it is great practice and fun for children to help measure and stir ingredients.  It also may have the added benefit of encouraging your picky eaters to eat, since they are more likely to eat what they have helped prepare. 
·        Teach them a craft.  Depending on the age of your child; sewing, crocheting, or cross-stitching may be an option.  There are age appropriate kits that have safety needles, patterns, and instructions that are easy for them to follow.  Younger children can easily make jewelry by stringing bead or cereal on yarn.  If multiple craft items are produced, you and your child could take them to a nursing home to hand out and brighten someone’s day. 
·       Make paper airplanes.  You probably have scrap or recycle paper around the house somewhere.  Use it to make a variety of planes.  There could be contests as to which one flies the farthest, the fastest, or looks the funniest.
·        Write a story.  This is a great way to encourage an active imagination.  Your children could write down their favorite story with any changes they would like to make, or they could write their own original story.  For younger children, they may need to dictate the story to you, if they are not able to write on their own.  But as you write it down, leave plenty of room for them to go back and draw pictures to go with the story.  This will make a great keepsake!
·        Exercise.  Even though you are inside, it doesn’t mean you have to sit down all day.  If you have a room with lots of open space you can use that for an exercise area for anything from exercising along with a video, to doing calisthenics, or making an obstacle course.  Just be sure that the area is safe in case someone gets too excited and falls. (You don’t want any tables with sharp corners, etc. nearby.)
·        Have a scavenger hunt.  You can make up a list of things around the house that the children need to find to win a prize or a special privilege.  The list may be made harder or easier as needed depending on the age of your children.   Some items could be: an envelope from the mail, rock, ball, quarter, dinosaur, book, feather, rubber band, or toothpick.  Adjust the list to what you have on hand, making some items harder to find than others.  This keeps the children interested, while making the game last more than two minutes.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Top 10 Toddler to Preschooler Series

Top 10 Toddler to Preschooler Series
Favorite Books (Part 3 of 4)
Belinda @ Kids Matter
“The more you read the more things you will know. The more that you learn the more places you'll go.”  - Dr. Seuss, "I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!"
Open a book and go exploring with your child. Take your child to places money can’t buy, on adventures one can only imagine, and through time at your leisure. If eyes are the window to our souls then books are the window to our imaginations. The Literacy Company states, “Out-of-school reading habits of students has shown that even 15 minutes a day of independent reading can expose students to more than a million words of text in a year.” Exposure to words is a step to greater achievement in life. Read to your child, read with your child, and share happy experiences found only in a good book. Visit your local library and allow your child to pick out a book while you bring your childhood classics to the literacy party. Bring the book to life with great enthusiasm. Add character voices and sound effects to increase excitement. The book is just the foundation from which to build your imaginary world. Don’t be limited by the words on the page, but instead, use the essence of the emotions of the writer to create a reality within the covers of the book. Enjoy your imaginary world and the wonderful time spent reading to your child.

Who doesn’t love Dr. Seuss and his whimsical enthusiasm in bringing characters like Cat in the Hat to life? One can’t help but smile just looking at that green ham.  If you are a grandparent, you have spent years reading that story many times to many children. It’s just a classic fun story loved by millions.
Top 10 Toddler to Preschooler Series

Eric Carle not only writes this wonderful story, but also illustrates, animates, and provides insight into the life of a caterpillar. Children are always fascinated with caterpillars and butterflies and when they learn one becomes the other the search is on. 
Top 10 Toddler to Preschooler Series

Karen Katz beautifully combines affection with counting and winding down a child for bed time. Hugs, kisses, and some serious sleep is nature’s cure for the cranky child. The book is handsomely illustrated.
Top 10 Toddler to Preschooler Series

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, and charmingly written by Michael Rosen. The book is a delightful comedic drama of a family going on a bear hunt.
Top 10 Toddler to Preschooler Series

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was written and illustrated by Ron and Judith Barrett. The couple provides a hilarious look at a town called Chewandswallow where the weather is constantly raining some type of food.

Top 10 Toddler to Preschooler Series

Written by Ruth Krauss and cleverly illustrated by her husband Crockett Johnson. It details the life of an egg until one day POOF, it’s a bird and its whole life changes. Suddenly everything it couldn’t do as an egg it can now do as a bird.
Top 10 Toddler to Preschooler Series

Written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Ray Cruz, this book is an inside look at how bad days can sometimes be to us and yes, to everyone.  
Top 10 Toddler to Preschooler Series

This epic tale was written and illustrated by Leslie Patricelli. With fantastic illustrations the reader is captivated from page one. The book teaches the difference between things that are yummy and things that are yucky.
Top 10 Toddler to Preschooler Series

The Purple Crayon gives a very simplistic view of a very complicated and thought invoking process. If you could take a crayon and color yourself anything, what would it really be?

Top 10 Toddler to Preschooler Series

Shel Silverstein takes us on a journey deep into the heart of love and friendship. The Giving Tree is an exceptional story. The illustrations are minimal yet add to the depth of the piece. This book is an opportunity for those lost in life to find a way back. The tree represents a very special person and the sincerity of love.

Top 10 Toddler to Preschooler Series

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tips for driving in the snow

Tips for driving in the snow
Blog Squad @ Kids Matter
Tips for driving in the snow: (provided by AAA Exchange)
1.      Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
2.      Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, and turning – nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
3.      The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
4.      Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold breaking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
5.      Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
6.      Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed downhill as slowly as possible.
7.      Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.
8.      Stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. Don’t tempt fate: If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Soothing Those Discomforts Associated with Pregnancy

soothing those discomforts associated with pregnancy

Soothing Those Discomforts Associated with Pregnancy

Belinda @ Kids Matter

Though women would love to tell you that the feeling of being pregnant is just the most wonderful thing in the world… unfortunately it does have its issues. First comes the nausea, then the swelling, the dreaded hemorrhoids, and all the sleepless nights. We all know the discomforts, yet we still expect the glow of the pregnant woman to light the world. It can be a lot of pressure on an expectant mother… especially the first time moms.

Sometimes discomfort is brought on by outsiders. The pregnant belly used to be a sacred thing between husband and wife. Now, we see pregnant bare belly shots all over the internet. This gives people the idea that all women like an exposed belly, giving people the freedom to come up and start touching your belly. Pregnancy does not reduce the personal space zone. If you are a pregnant woman, you have every right to set boundaries. Just because you are pregnant, does not mean you have to allow your belly to be touched. Just because a bystander is impressed with the miracle of life, does not mean they have a right to touch someone else’s belly. Use a little common sense and a lot of manners. Both parties should be approving of such a private, personal expression. You are feeling a new life move. Ponder the miracle of life and don’t linger long.

Other discomforts and tips for relief:

Nausea and Heartburn
  • Rise slowly of the morning giving the stomach acids time to settle.
  • Eat dry bland foods in the morning. (dry toast, crackers… etc)
  • Avoid greasy and spicy foods.
  • Eat smaller but more frequent meals throughout the day with plenty of liquids.
  • Avoid food that you know upset your stomach prior to pregnancy.
  • You may notice that certain smells cause nausea. The best thing to do is try to avoid them as much as possible. (Food cooking, perfumes, air fresheners, gasoline)

  • Avoid staying in one position too long. (Sit, stand, lay, and repeat) If you must sit for an extended period, then prop up your legs every so often for a short period of time.
  • Avoid tight fitting socks and hosiery.
  • Avoid sitting with your legs crossed.
  • Report it to your doctor if you notice more than a little swelling of the face, hands, or feet.

Fatigue and Sleeping Issues
  • Take your prenatal vitamins regularly.
  • Exercise regularly. If you don’t feel up to a full blown workout then at least stretch for 15-20 minutes a day. Stretching releases endorphins which per Healthy Living, “tend to make you happier, stronger, calmer and more confident.” Healthy Living recommends stretching after exercising as well, “Stretching can help release lactate (lactic acid) buildup following exercise.” Fit Day recommends stretching to loosen muscles, increase flexibility and range of motion, improve posture, and remove toxin buildup in muscles.
  • Avoid caffeine.
  • Don’t over exert yourself throughout the day.
  • Seek out sources of relaxation. Try meditation or soothing music such as nature sounds.
  • Make yourself comfortable in the bed. Use as many or as few pillows as necessary.

Constipation and Hemorrhoids
  • Drink plenty of water, fruit juice, milk, and broths. (beef or chicken)
  • Increase fiber in your diet. Include whole grain products such as those found in wheat bread, oatmeal, and bran cereals.
  • Soak in a warm relaxing tub as needed.
  • Increase fruit and vegetable intake.
  • Never strain or sit for extended periods of time on the toilet.
  • Use over the counter aids as needed.

To sum it all up, keep those discomforts in check by staying active, exercising, eating a well-balanced diet, not over exerting, and spending time focusing on relaxation. Nine months only seems like a long time when you are pregnant. As soon as your bundle of joy arrives, it won’t be anytime before you will look back and say, “My baby is a year old! Where did the time go?”

Friday, January 17, 2014

Top 10 Toddler to Preschooler Series

Kids Matter
Top 10 Toddler to Preschooler Series
Educational Videos (Part 2 of 4)
Belinda @ Kids Matter
This week we take a look at the top 10 online educational videos for your toddler to preschool aged child. The following list was composed by choosing the most entertaining video from several different categories to illustrate the depth which learning spans. The most important thing to get out of the videos is that they are doors to open and go exploring with your child. There is no limit to learning. If one method doesn’t work, then another one will. Be mindful that learning must be fun; otherwise it becomes work that the child doesn’t have the mindset to continue. Always practice the four “Ls” with your child… Live, Love, Laugh, and Learn.
1. Preschool Curious George Book and Workout Video: This is an awesome video that promotes two very important venues for our children… literacy and fitness. Combining the two with a common theme brings new life to them. Just imagine how much fun your child will have following Curious George through a book and then exercising right along with him. Books can open up a whole new way of teaching as you carry the theme throughout the day. How about drinking a nice tall glass of grape juice like Curious George? The possibilities of exciting a child about reading and exercising grow exponentially when you make it a themed event.
2. For Toddlers - Learning Animals, An Educational Video for Preschoolers - This is an interesting methodology of teaching different animals. The video starts by asking, “What’s that?” directly followed by the name of the animal or insect then is followed by a cartoon image of the animal which transitions to a video of the animal in its natural surroundings. This is a good tool to show the little ones the difference between real and not real, i.e., one has the ability to move, eat, sleep, and make all kinds of funny sounds while the other is merely a pretty picture.
3. Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed Nursery Rhyme - Cartoon: This is a classic song about the five little monkeys presented in a colorful setting to a sweet tune. Little ones will love this version and parents will carry the tune around all day. This video teaches counting one through five in a whimsical manner that keeps the children entertained.
4. "Color Songs Collection Vol. 1" - Learn Colors, Teach Colours, Baby: This video teaches colors through sing song melodies, chants, and colorful animation. It is a little on the lengthy side, so you will have to remember to monitor computer time.
5. Phonics Song 2: This video is designed to teach children the alphabet through phonetics (sounding out the word), brightly colored pictures, and an alphabet song. It shows the child the letter (capital and lower case), a picture and its matching word, and places emphasis on the first letter of the word during pronunciation.
6. The Calendar Song - Kids + Children Learn English Songs: This video takes a unique approach at teaching children the months and seasons of the year as well as the days of the week through the ice cream song.
7. The Shapes Song: This video teaches children the basic shapes. What’s cool about this video is that it points out the shapes in everyday life.  Take for instance a triangle… the roof is a triangle. This could lead to an exciting game of find the shapes in your own home.
8. Adventures from the Book of Virtues: Respect: It’s never too soon to introduce manners. This is a great series for teaching children how to be good people. Remember, pointing out bad behavior isn’t enough… they need examples of good behavior. “The Adventures from the Book of Virtues” series ventures into responsibility, honesty, self-discipline, and courage to name a few.
9. Opposites - Opposites Songs for Children - Kids Songs by The Learning: This video is a very cute introduction of opposites. Children are entertained by the song while seeing why and how something is opposite. The idea of seeing how something (up) can have an opposite (down) is very thought inspiring.
10. Milk Explosion Toddler Science Fun: Who doesn’t love a good science experiment? This video is just the door you need to open for scientific exploration. Notice how the effects start to happen quicker when the child shakes the third tin? Or how the reaction time with the color red is much quicker? Science is so fascinating and your child will just love doing experiments.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Robin @ Kids Matter
Martin Luther King, Jr. was the leader of the civil rights movement in the United States during the 1950s and 60s.  Whites and Blacks were segregated in most aspects of life including, but not limited to; housing, businesses, church, education, and employment.  King inspired many people to fight for the equal rights and equal treatment that everyone deserves.  His, “I Have a Dream,” speech is probably how he is most remembered.  A key line states that his speech says that his dream is for his children to live and not be judged based on the color of their skin, but instead on their character and how they conduct themselves.    His ideals and teachings continue to inspire as the struggle to make sure all Americans have equal rights and are treated with dignity continues.
Below are some websites that have activities you can do with your children to celebrate this day.
·       Apples for the Teacher has coloring pages, worksheets, reading lists, puzzles and other games.

·       TLC has crafts and activities such as a matching game, peace medals, peaceful puppets, and an “I Have a Dream” pencil holder.

·       Family Education has a long list of Martin Luther King Jr. Day activities, including historical information about King, quizzes for parents and children, and ways to celebrate and honor him.

·        Teach with Me focuses on diversity and offers information about books and activities that may be used to show that being different is not a bad thing. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

The To-do List

The To-do List
Belinda @ Kids Matter
The older you get, the better you understand that your to-do list never really shortens. It just gets longer and longer because we find that we forget more and more. Parents have a large to-do list because they have many things to get accomplished for each child, their life, and work. Grandparents have a lengthy to-do list simply so they can remember what it is that they need to do. When we are parents with small children we think, “Oh, for the day when my to-do list is shorter.” Yeah, it never happens.
The other day I overheard someone say they needed to make a reminder to eat. Seriously? I would think that would be something we could all remember without having to write it down. If your life is so chaotic that you can’t remember to eat, then I think we need to look at some stress reduction tips. For those I would refer you back to the Stress Free Work Environment blog. Those tips can be applied whether you work or are a stay-at-home parent. The whole point is to stress less.
For those of us having trouble with memory and making our to-do lists unnecessarily longer, I suggest a few memory boosting techniques.
1.      Exercise is not only good for the body, but also the brain. “The brain depends on energy received through a constant intake of oxygen and nutrients from the bloodstream, and when those nutrients don't arrive, the brain's ability to work is compromised,” as stated on Discovery Channel.
2.      Visualization is another great trick but can seem overwhelming. The idea is to make a mental image of something. Images are easier to remember than words, times, dates, numbers… etc. Say for instance your child had a doctor’s appointment Friday after school. Picture your child getting out of school on Friday holding a sign that says Dr. When you recall that image it reminds you what you have to do Friday after school.
3.      Repetition is an important factor in remembering. When someone gives you a phone number, repeat it several times and write it down. Just practicing what you heard is a great memory boost. Per Discovery Channel online, “researchers have found that people have a 30 percent better chance of remembering a name when they repeat it as soon as they learn it.”
4.      Set reminders. Use those technological wonders we love so much. Set reminders for appointments on your phone, computer, or whatever you use to stay connected. Set alarms, set reminders, and use your online to-do list builders. Don’t go month to month with birthdays and anniversaries. When you set them up, set them as annual reminders and you won’t have to remember to put them in every year.
5.      Laugh, yes you read correctly. Laughter is essential for the brain. “Unlike emotional responses, which are limited to specific areas of the brain, laughter engages multiple regions across the whole brain,” says Help Guide. Laughter also reduces stress in our lives which allows us to remember more easily.
Per Help Guide, “The human brain has an astonishing ability to adapt and change—even into old age. This ability is known as neuroplasticity. With the right stimulation, your brain can form new neural pathways, alter existing connections, and adapt and react in ever-changing ways.” So, we know it’s possible to improve our memory. We just have to make the time and have the desire to work on it. So, don’t forget to work on your memory techniques.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Top 10 Toddler to Preschooler Series

Top 10 Toddler to Preschooler Series
Educational Websites (Part 1 of 4)
Belinda @ Kids Matter
Is it time to introduce your toddler to the World Wide Web? Don’t be afraid. It’s the age of technology and you knew this day was coming. The first thing you have to know is that you will need to be heavily involved in computer time… for the safety of your child and your computer. Establishing time limits on the computer or gaming system is important and essential in the development of your child. Children need access to many educational activities such as exploring a book. Delving deep into how a book is made, who the author and illustrators are, and who the characters of the book are can help excite the child for the world of reading.
Below is a list of sites that fit the established criteria for this age.  First, it had to be user friendly and easy to navigate. Second, it had to be age appropriate. Third, the site must be colorful and exciting with lots of great sound effects. And, the fourth criteria was a big one… the site had to be FREE.
Top 10 educational sites for toddlers and preschoolers
1. Poisson Rouge - Poisson Rouge is an artistic creation allowing intellectual stimulation through exploration.  This site is phenomenal for encouraging the imagination of a child and their desire to learn and explore.
2. Happy Clicks – The site starts with basics by teaching toddlers how to use the keys on the keyboard and advances up to how to direct the mouse through movement, drag and drop, and point and click.
3. Owlieboo – This site is extremely simple for the beginner. It’s very colorful and has great sound effects. Little fingers quickly learn how to move the mouse, press the keys, and do simple click and drag tasks.
4. Starfall Starfall is, “Where children have fun learning to read.” Starfall describes it best, “ opened in September of 2002 as a free public service to teach children to read with phonics.”
5. PBS Kids – A place where kids can watch videos and play games with their favorite PBS character like Curious George. The site is very user friendly and colorful, but the main draw is the characters your child will love. 
6. National Geographic Kids – Excellent place to teach your child about the great outdoors. Explore countries and animals through pictures, videos, and games. During the days when you can’t take your child outdoors, this is the next best option to introducing nature.
7. Fisher Price – With feather like introduction to piano this site is a good place to introduce your child to the alphabet, through animal sounds, and to numbers with rhymes.
8. Sprout – Spend some fun time with Caillou and the Sprout friends watching videos, coloring, playing games, and opening up a new world of crafts and fun recipes. There is nothing better than being hands on with the fun.
9. Nick Jr – Go on adventures with Dora and crew through games, activities, videos, and coloring sheets. This site has great preschool activities which are infused with abundant energy and sing song lyrics.
10. Babygamer – Basically, this site is a list with links to a lot of great sites, some educational, some just plain fun such as SNM#1. This is a good place to help you research sites to explore with your child.
 “It’s not so much what children learn through play, but what they won’t learn if we don’t give them the chance to play. Many functional skills like literacy and arithmetic can be learned either through play or through instruction – the issue is the amount of stress on the child. However, many coping skills like compassion, self-regulation, self-confidence, the habit of active engagement, and the motivation to learn and be literate cannot be instructed. They can only be learned through self-directed experience (i.e. play).” Susan J. Oliver (author, Playing for Keeps)
 Always remember… education matters because our kids matter.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Acts of Kindness

Acts of Kindness
Robin @ Kids Matter
Sometimes it seems like the world is going crazy; people can be downright rude and inconsiderate.  Taking the time to help someone, or even offer a friendly “hello” or a warm smile is often out of the question.  Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy.” Everyone is so caught up in their own world, activities, and priorities, that they often don’t take the time to look up and around at the beautiful world and people around them. 
            Acts of kindness are woefully lacking in our society.  As globalization spreads, and the world becomes smaller, we know less about our neighbors and have become uninvolved in our communities.  Unfortunately, as the world and technology become more advanced, many people become more backward, losing basic social skills.   How do we get them back?  I suggest that one way is by helping others in a self-less, thoughtful, caring way.   According to Gandhi, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” 
            Acts of kindness have become a rarity, but they have also become popular.  There is a random act of kindness week and many people do acts of kindness on their birthdays, one act for each year they have been alive.  A random act of kindness is a nice and self-less act done by one person to help or encourage someone else.  The action should technically be done anonymously, since there shouldn’t be an expectation of a return, such as a “thank you”.  But, just doing kind acts is always great too.  A word of encouragement to a co-worker, or holding the door for someone can make someone’s day.  It’s also very important to teach our children about kindness and encourage them to help others. 
            So, you may be thinking what can I do?  Below are some acts of kindness examples.  This list is by no means exhaustive… it could go on forever.   Be creative in thinking of things to do, and remember that you don’t have to spend money to show kindness.
·       Push your neighbor’s trash cans back beside the house where they belong after trash pickup.
·       Visit a nursing home and interact with those who don’t have any other visitors.
·       Pick up the tab for the person behind you in line at the drive-thru restaurant.
·       Tape change to the soda or snack machine in a hospital or at work.
·       Take canned goods to a food bank.
·       Leave a kind note for a family member or co-worker.
·       Put change in the parking meter for someone whose time is getting low.
·       Donate to the energy assistance fund in your community.
·       Buy a meal for a homeless person.
·       Send flowers to someone in the hospital… the nurses can make sure it goes to someone who doesn’t get many visitors.
·       Take books and magazines you’ve already read to a hospital or nursing home.
·       Pick up trash at a neighborhood park.

For additional acts of kindness please see Random Acts of Kindness.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Toy Safety: Preventing Injuries to Children

Toy Safety: Preventing Injuries to Children
Robin @ Kids Matter
Choose safe toys.
·        Ensure that children play with age-appropriate toys, as indicated by safety labels. Consider the child’s interests and skill level, and look for quality design and construction.
·        Consider purchasing a small parts tester to determine whether or not small toys and objects in your home may present a choking hazard to young children.
Inspect all toys regularly for potential hazards.
·        Check regularly for damage that could create small pieces that are choking hazards. Make any necessary repairs immediately, or discard damaged toys out of children’s reach.
Watch for toys that can become hazards.
·        Young children should never play with toys with strings, straps, or cords longer than seven inches, which can accidentally strangle them.
·        Electrical toys are potential burn hazards. Children under age eight should not use toys with electrical plugs or batteries.
·        Don’t let children under age eight blow up balloons. Use Mylar balloons instead of latex balloons. If you must use latex balloons, store them out of reach of children, and deflate and discard after use.
·        Among children’s products, latex balloons are the number one cause of choking deaths.  A majority of these deaths are among children ages five and under.
Ensure that toys are used in a safe environment.
·        Riding toys should not be used near stairs, traffic, or swimming pools. Riding toy-related deaths can occur when a child falls from a toy or rides a toy into a body of water.
·        Always supervise children at play. Play is even more valuable when adults become involved and interact with children rather than supervising from a distance.
Make sure toys are stored safely.
·       Teach children to put toys away after playing. Ensure that toys intended for younger children are stored separately from those for older children.
·       Make sure toy chests have no lids or have safety hinges.
Prevention Strategies
·        Check the web site of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for updated information and pictures of recalled toys that may be harmful to children (
·        Return warranty and product registration forms for new toy purchases to the manufacturers to ensure that you will be notified of any recalls.

Please see Safe Kids for references.