Tag Archives: Kids

What We’re Reading: Wild

Wild: Endangered Animals in Living Motion (A Photicular Book) shines a spotlight on the mammals, birds, and insects currently threatened with extinction.

With Dan Kainen’s masterful Photicular technology, readers are treated to eight movie-like images of a diverse range of endangered species, including a rare Amur leopard licking its paw, a pair of gorillas at play, a young rhinoceros speeding ahead of its mother, and an elephant bathing in a river. Each scene is paired with an informative profile by science writer Kathy Wollard.

Readers will learn that an albatross can float through cold air currents for hundreds of miles without once flapping its wings, that a leopard can leap about 20 feet into the air, and that there are more than 250 species of bumblebees in existence. They will also learn about the devastating environmental and economic conditions that threaten these animals’ survival, and the steps that conservationists are taking to stop (and in some cases reverse) the damage.

Wild will be available where books are sold on September 5, but you can win a copy over on our Facebook page in August! Stay tuned!

Ten Tips to Make Your Home Safer for Kids

Home is where the heart is, and for most people, it’s where they feel safest. Yet for children, the home isn’t as safe as you might assume. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that 3.5 million children go to the emergency room every year for injuries that happen in homes.
Some parents are unintentionally putting their children at risk by making common mistakes in the home. For example, parents say they are worried about fire safety and 96 percent report they have a smoke alarm, yet 14 percent never check their smoke alarm battery, according to “Report to the Nation: Protecting Children in Your Home,” from Safe KidsWorldwide and Nationwide.
“Parents just can’t imagine a tragedy could happen to them, but it happens far too often,” says Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. “Sadly, 2,200 kids die from an injury in the home every year. The good news is that we know how to prevent these injuries, and parents can take simple steps to protect their kids.”
Safe Kids Worldwide teamed up with Nationwide and its Make Safe Happen program to help families keep kids safe in the home. “We know parents want to protect their children,” said Terrance Williams, Nationwide’s Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “It’s our hope that by bringing this information to families and caregivers, we can help them protect what matters most.”
Here are 10 tips to make your home kid-safe so you avoid preventable injuries. To learn more, visit SafeKids.org or MakeSafeHappen.com.

1. Make sure there is a working smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm on every level of your home, especially near sleeping areas. Test the batteries every month.

2. Create and practice a home fire-escape plan with your family. Know two ways out of every room in case of a fire.

3. Give young children your full and undivided attention when they are in and around water. Only 1 percent of parents list drowning as a concern, according to the Safe Kids report, yet every week a child dies from drowning in a bathtub.

4. For young children, use safety gates at the top and bottom of the stairs, attaching them to the wall if possible.

5. Keep cribs clear of toys and soft bedding, and make sure that babies sleep alone, on their backs, and in a crib every time they sleep. For children under the age of 1, suffocation is the leading cause of injury-related death.

6. Keep all medicine up and away, out of children’s reach and sight. Think about places where kids get into medicine, like in purses, on counters and on nightstands.

7. Store all household cleaners, liquid laundry packets and other toxic products out of children’s reach and sight. Use cabinet locks to prevent young children from getting into products that may cause them harm.

8. Save the Poison Help line number into your phone and post it in your home where anyone can find it easily in an emergency: 1-800-222-1222.

9. Secure flat-panel TVs by mounting them to the wall and place box-style TVs on a low, stable piece of furniture.

10. Properly install window guards or stops to help prevent falls from windows. Each year, 3,300 children are injured by falling out of a window, yet 70 percent of parents say they have never used window guards or stops that prevent these falls.

Product Spotlight: Little Passports

Help your little explorer learn fun facts about the United States and other countries with Little Passports’ Explorer Kits for Kids!

Choose from Early Explorers (for ages 3-5), World Edition (ages 6-10), and USA Edition kits (ages 7-12). The first month you will receive an introductory kit complete with everything your child needs to get started with the program (based on which one you choose). For the USA introductory kit, customers will receive a USA Field Guide, Scratch Book, a wall-sized USA map, a welcome letter, and a disposable camera.

Subsequent kits in the USA Edition include information about the two states featured each month. Enjoy a 32-page activity journal, stickers and postcards, pop-out models, and access to more information and activities online.

You can win The Discovery kit AND one State Adventure kit from the USA Edition on our Facebook page!

 

 

Top Ten Kid-Friendly Apps

It’s unavoidable, we live in an age of technology. Our children seem almost glued to anything with a screen. There are many ways that you can use your child’s love of smartphones and tablets to your advantage. One way is to foster continuous learning, even during summer break. There are an abundance of apps designed specifically for learning.

Here are a few of our favorites:

Unknown-2Duolingo is a free language learning app. You can choose from ten different languages to learn. It is a great app for all ages, so you can learn alongside your child.

Lumosity is a fun brain-training website that helps you increase your attention span and increase memory retention. The app is free and was designed for all ages.

Star Chart by Escapist Games Limited allows kids to learn all about the universe. You can hold it up to the sky and find out exactly what stars or planets you are looking at. The app is free, but there are some in-app purchases.

THE aMAZEing Labyrinth has puzzles and mazes that will challenge your kids to think and problem solve. It costs $3.99.

toca lab logoToca Lab allows your children to learn about chemistry, magnetism, and electricity in a safe and fun way. The app costs $2.99.

Kids Numbers and Math by Intellijoy focuses on helping pre-school, kindergarten, and first grade children learn numbers and early math skills. There is a free version, but the full package costs $2.99.

Unknown-1Endless Alphabet by Originator Inc. teaches youngsters the alphabet and basic vocabulary with fun and engaging games. A smaller version of the app is free, but the full package must be unlocked by an in-app purchase.

Dr. Panda & Toto’s Treehouse is a fun app where kids can play with and take care of Toto the Turtle. The app includes many activities, so there’s endless replay value. The app costs $2.99.

UnknownFarFaria Free Children’s Books includes hundreds of choices so your child isn’t stuck reading the same story over and over again. It is best for ages 1-9. The app is free, but there are some in-app purchases.

The NASA App allows you to view video hundreds of photos and videos to learn more about different ongoing projects. It is free and is a great resource for young rocket scientists and astronauts.

 

Written by Krista Knauer

Transform Your Picky Eater!

Few things cause more parental frustration than trying to get a picky eater to enjoy a well-rounded diet. Whether your child has been picky all his life, or, out of nowhere is now turning up his nose at healthy foods he previously adored, it’s easy to feel like your failing as a caregiver.

“I think we need to remember that it is developmentally appropriate for children to not only move in and out of enjoying certain foods, but also to test limits and boundaries with their parents around refusing to eat what we give them,” says Dr. Aimee Gould Shunney, a licensed naturopathic doctor specializing in women’s health and family medicine.

20941719_originalA parent herself, when Shunney’s son goes through phases when he eats only certain things, she tries to remain consistent and optimistic.

“I believe it’s part of my job as a mama to keep a positive tone in my voice as I offer variety, explain the importance of protein for muscles and smarts, and sing the praises of eating a rainbow – even after a full day’s work while going up against a tired first-grader who only wants dessert,” she says. “I think the biggest mistake we make is when we just give up and give in because, well, it can be exhausting.”

To help parents win the food fights and bring peace to the dinner table, Shunney offers five simple ideas for transforming a child with finicky tendencies into an amazing eater with optimal nutrition.

1. Cook more.   Cook for your children and make their dishes simple without lots of sauces and spices. If possible, let them help you cook so they can be part of the fun. Cooking whole unprocessed foods will ensure your family is getting the biggest nutrition bang for your buck. There will be less sodium, sugar, additive and preservatives as well.

2. Eat more veggies.   Present them with choices: Would you like carrots or red peppers? Pickles or olives? Try starting dinner with a raw veggie plate and let your kids select what they want. It’s a healthy appetizer that makes eating whole foods a regular part of the meal routine.
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3. Pick your protein.   Find three protein meals your kids like and use them often for dinner and lunches. Peanut butter and jelly should not be an everyday option. Other ideas: Alaskan salmon burgers, organic chicken strips and eating breakfast for dinner that includes a protein like eggs. Choose animal products that are pastured and fed organic feed. If you eat beef, choose grass-fed – this will provide better fats for your children’s development, immune system and cognitive function, as well as help you avoid exposure to chemicals and antibiotics.

4. Supplements.  Supplements are really important for kids – even ones who eat well. A good multivitamin can help bridge the gap for a picky eater. Add in an omega-3 EPA and DHA supplement which has numerous well-researched benefits in areas like childhood immunity, behavior and attention, cognitive function and emotional well-being. Try a vitamin D supplement – 400 I.U. for breast-fed infants, 500 I.U. from 1-3 years old, 800 I.U. from 4-8 years old, and 1300 I.U. from 9-18 years old.

5. Show them. Teach them good eating habits by modeling good eating habits. Share your favorite foods. Sit down at the table and eat. Love your veggies. Relish your protein. Don’t overdo it on starch. Take it easy on dessert. Drink water. Enjoy your food.

“We often take health and nutrition way too seriously and it stops being any fun. I believe that eating food is one of the supreme joys of life, particularly when it’s eaten with people you love!” says Shunney. “Planning meals, preparing food, eating it together while talking and laughing – even the clean up – can all be fun if we make that our intention. The more fun it is, the more our kids will want to participate, and the more they do that, the more engaged they will be around food and family.”

Extracurricular Gardening

Beginning in April 2012, the Blue Ridge Land Conservancy teamed up with Grandin Court Elementary School to begin an after-school Garden Club for students interested in learning about gardening and growing food.
Teachers and parents wanted to spruce up the raised beds at the school and use them as a hands-on learning exercise. At first, they worried there might be limited student interest in such an “uncool” activity like gardening. But that spring, kids were playing outside, handling worms, and learning how to care for plants- and they loved it!
They saw how the items on their dinner plate were parts of living plants which took time and effort to grow. They were proud of making the school grounds more beautiful by planting flowers. The Green Thumbs Garden Club quickly grew to over 40 students. A second season of the club was planned for the fall so that all of the kids who wanted to attend could do so. Students and their families were also invited to tend the garden over the summer.

gc2With funding from the Roanoke Kiwanis Club, the Blue Ridge Land Conservancy built new gardens at Westside Elementary in 2014 and Highland Park Elementary School in 2015. Each new garden works towards an ultimate goal, to help students who participate in the garden clubs gain a better understanding of what they are eating. With more awareness of the different types of plants and what plant parts people can eat, the Blue Ridge Land Conservancy hopes to encourage students to be more adventurous in what they eat and to be unafraid to try new things.
Last year, project manager Meagan Cupka helped students plant corn at Westside Elementary. When she poured the seeds into her hand, one young student cried out, “That’s just corn!” Many students had no idea that the yellow kernels they eat are actually seeds. That moment is just one of many that illustrates how important this educational program is for young people.
This project continues to reconnect kids to their environment and provide them with a space where they can play and learn about the world in which they live. For more information on the Blue Ridge Land Conservancy and their after-school garden clubs, visit www.blueridgelandconservancy.org/garden-clubs.

DIY: Sharpie Scripted Pillows

Who says that writing on furniture is just for kids? Snuggle up with a love letter every night with this how-to for Sharpie scripted pillows!

THINGS YOU’LL NEED:

  • Sharpie Fabric Markers
  • Cotton or Jersey pillowcase
  • Cardboard
  • Letter Stencils (Optional)

Choose the text or design you wish to write on your pillow.

Lay the pillowcase out over the piece of cardboard to prevent the marker from bleeding through and to keep the pillowcase smoothly stretched out.

For best results, sketch/write your ideas out in pencil FIRST before going to work with the Sharpie to allow for mistakes.

Use the fabric marker to create your one-of-a-kind pillow!

Take a look at these examples of DIY Sharpie pillows on A Subtle Revelry or Dear Lillie Blog if you need inspiration!  For more great DIY projects, check out our Pinterest page!

DIY-scripted-pillows1

Sweet dreams!

DIY: Easy backyard bird feeding tips

Help nurture kids’ love of nature with easy, basic, backyard bird-feeding tips

Parents and children enjoy spending quality time together, but it’s not always easy to find shared interests. The backyard, however, can provide the perfect place for generations to meet when parents help kids learn the delights of bird-watching and bird-feeding.

Interacting with backyard birds benefits children on many levels, including teaching them the responsibility of caring for other living things to nurturing their appreciation of nature. Fall and winter are the perfect times to introduce kids to backyard bird care; as food sources dwindle in their natural habitat, birds will frequent a backyard where feeders serve up seed and suet daily.

The wild bird experts at Cole’s Wild Bird Products offer some guidance for families launching bird feeding lessons:

Feeder facts:

Different bird species like different types of feeders, but some styles, such as tube feeders, will attract a large variety of birds. Basic bird feeder styles include:

* Tube – Best for serving seed, tube feeders keep the contents clean and dry, providing birds with access to the food through feeding ports. They’re great all-purpose feeders and will attract the most variety of songbirds. It’s important to clean tube feeders regularly, so choose a model that’s easy to clean. Cole’s high-quality tubular feeders are made with state-of-the-art materials to prevent warping, discoloration, and they feature Quick Clean removable bases that make cleaning fast and simple. Feeder bottoms pop off with the push of a button.

* Bowl feeders – If separating seeds into different feeders gets too complicated, bowl feeders can be an all-in, easy solution. Options like Cole’s Bountiful Bowl Feeder can accommodate a variety of feed types, from seed and suet to mealworms, fruits and nuts. Bowl feeders are especially good starter feeders for children since they are easy to fill and clean.

* Suet feeders – During cold winter months, suet is an essential source of energy for birds. Suet feeders can range from a simple mesh onion bag to a wire or plastic mesh box that affixes to a tree, or post. Woodpeckers, warblers, nuthatches, titmice, jays and chickadees love suet.

Whatever styles of feeder you choose – and a mix is ideal – be sure to select feeders that are sturdy enough to withstand winter weather and unwanted visitors, like squirrels. They should be tight enough to keep seeds dry, and easy to disassemble for cleaning. Most importantly, keep them maintained and stocked – if you neglect to feed them, birds will go elsewhere.

Food fun:

In order to attract birds, it’s important to serve high-quality food. Seed blends with too much cheap seed, known as fill, won’t satisfy birds, and you’ll end up with a mound of discarded fill under feeders and few feathered friends in your backyard. Here are some basic foods birds look for in winter:

* Suet – Long gone are the days when serving suet was a messy proposition. Kids can serve suet without messing up their little hands when you choose convenient suet cakes, kibbles, nuts and pearls. Many of these suet options are mixed with other treats birds love, such as nuts, grains and berries. You can even find options with habanero pepper infused in the fat to dissuade squirrels from dining on the suet. Nutberry Suet Blend, by Cole’s, mixes human-grade cherries, apples and blueberry-flavored cranberries, preferred nuts, nutritious insect suet kibbles and whole kernel sunflower meats into an energy-packed, powerhouse feed.

* Seed – Many songbirds favor seeds, and in winter it can be difficult for birds to find seeds in nature. From black oil sunflower seeds and Niger to seed mixes, it’s important to serve a variety of high-quality seeds. Choose mixes with large proportions of sunflower seeds and avoid ones with fillers like wheat, milo and corn; birds will pick out the appealing seeds and kick out the filler. You can learn more about seed mixes at www.coleswildbird.com.

* Dried mealworms – Although the name might imply an “ick factor” that appeals to kids, serving dried mealworms is easy and mess-free. High in protein, mealworms are favored by bluebirds, flickers, woodpeckers, siskins and nuthatches. Plus you don’t have to feed them or keep them in the fridge like with live mealworms!

Introducing kids to backyard bird-feeding is an enjoyable – and easy – way to connect families with nature – and to each other. All you’ll need is a feeder, bird feed and some time. The birds will come, kids will surely enjoy the experience, and you’ll all have some good family fun.