Get Moving!

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By:  Angy Talbot (ECFE Blog Writer)

As a child, I never thought about exercise or even knew what that meant.  We would bike ride, roller skate, or run around the block or throughout our neighborhood.  We spent most of our playtime outside always moving.  Even in the winter, we were skating for hours on the outside ice rink or sliding up and down, “Monkey Hill.”  The great feat was trucking back up the big hill to slide back down again.  I rarely sat still, watching TV was something we only did on Saturday mornings, and computers and video games were not yet in the homes of American families.

Today, families are bombarded with social media and digital gadgets.  In fact, children spend an average of three hours a day watching television!  Children no longer run around the neighborhood all day returning home when the streetlights turn on.  Children spend more time in-doors, spending less time moving and more time sitting still.  Exercise is now something that needs to be planned or embedded into the day’s schedule.  From the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention states that, “Children should be getting at least one- hour of physical activity every day.”  In order for children to be healthy, physical activity is essential.

Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore or work . . . it should be fun!  Large motor development is significant for growing children.  Physical activity should be age-appropriate.  For young children, exercise is using their muscles and simply moving their bodies.  Parents play a significant part in helping their child become more physically active.  Listed below are 11 ways suggested by the American Academy of Pediatrics to get started:

  1. Talk with your pediatrician.  Your pediatrician can help your child understand why physical activity is important.  Your pediatrician also can suggest a sports activity that is best for your child.
  2. Find a fun activity.  Help your child find a sport that she enjoys.  The more she enjoys the activity, the more likely it is that she will continue.  Get the entire family involved.  It is a great way to spend time together.
  3. Choose an activity that is developmentally appropriate.  For example, a seven-year old in not ready for weight lifting or a three-mile run, but soccer, bike riding, and swimming are appropriate activities.
  4. Plan ahead.  Make sure your child has a convenient time and place to exercise.
  5. Provide a safe environment.  Make sure your child’s equipment and chosen site for the sport or activity are safe.  Make sure your child’s clothing is comfortable and appropriate.
  6. Provide active toys.  Young children especially need easy access to balls, jump ropes and other active toys.
  7. Be a role model.  Children who regularly see their parents enjoying sports and physical activity are more likely to do so themselves.
  8. Play with your child.  Help her learn a new sport.
  9. Turn off the TV!   Limit television watching and computer or digital game use.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than one to two hours of total screen time, including TV, videos, computers, and video games each day.  Use the free time for more physical activities.
  10. Make time for exercise.  Some children are so over-scheduled with homework, music lessons, and other planned activities that they do not have time for exercise.
  11. Do not overdo it.  When your child is ready to start, remember to tell her to listen to her body.  Exercise and physical activity should not hurt.  If this occurs, your child should slow down or try a less vigorous activity.  As with any activity, it is important not to overdo it.

Source: Encourage Your Child to Be Physically Active (Copyright © 2003 American Academy of Pediatrics, Last updated 6/3/2013)

Physical activity begins as young as infancy from tummy time to crawling.   Physical activity should be enjoyment for children.  Physical activity promotes a healthy body and life style.  Just get your body moving and have your children involved by going for a bike ride, nature walk, or building a snowman.   There are many benefits to exercise from a better nights sleep, maintaining a healthier body, and improving motor coordination (just to name a few).

“Motivation is what gets you started.  Habit is what keeps you going.”  ~Jim Ryan.  I hope you become motivated to incorporate exercise into your family life.    Physical activity doesn’t have to be labor; we just need to strive to find the time for physical play and enjoyment!  As famously put by Nike, “Just Do It!”

Here are some resources on physical activity for children:

Exercise For Kids

http://www.parenting.com/fitgeneration

Kids Exercise: The 4 Types You Need

http://fit.webmd.com/kids/move/article/exercise-types

The Many Benefits of Exercise

http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/exercise.html

25 Exercise Games and Activities

https://mommypoppins.com/newyorkcitykids/25-exercise-games-indoor-activities-for-kids

Physical Activity in Early Childhood

http://www.excellence-earlychildhood.ca/documents/parenting_2011-04.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FALL BUCKET LIST

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By: Angy Talbot (ECFE Blog Writer/Discovery Learning Teacher)

I love making lists and a bucket list is especially fun. Each month I make a list of ideas for the season. I get lots of inspiration from Pinterest and fun activities that we have done as a family each year. Here is a fun filled Bucket List for Fall:

• Go on a hayride
• Go to a pumpkin patch
• Make an apple or pumpkin pie
• Have a campfire
• Go to an apple orchard
• Stay up until dark and watch the stars and moon
• Drink apple cider hot or cold (depending on the weather)
• Make a pile of leaves and jump in it
• Go to your local high school football game
• Go through a corn maze
• Collect acorns and leaves
• Watch Halloween kids movies – My favorite is, “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown”
• Leaf rubbings with crayons
• Break out the fall wardrobe and jackets
• Fly a kite
• Run/walk a mini-marathon
• Go to the farmers market
• Decorate the house in fall colors and window decals
• Make homemade soup with the kids
• Go trick or treating
• Roast pumpkin seeds
• Carve pumpkins
• Make pinecone bird feeders
• Host a Halloween party
• Make a costume from scratch
• Send homemade Halloween cards
• Bob for apple
• Make Carmel apples
• Plant a tree
• Take family photos outside
• Visit a farm
• Go to a fall festival
• Take a hike
• Go on a leaf drive during the leaf color peak
• Read outside
• Picnic in the park
• Take a flashlight walk at night
• Plant fall flowers
• Make S’mores
• Ride Bikes
• Make a gratitude jar
• Photo shot in Halloween costumes
• Play outdoors whenever possible
• Go to the zoo
• Donate to the food bank
• Enjoy the weather!

What’s on your Fall Bucket List?

Outdoor Fun Around Town!

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By: Angy Talbot (ECFE Blog Writer)

Summer is the perfect time of year to enjoy all the fun places you can go in Minnesota with the kids! Listed below is a list of activities and places of interest around our state and town that you can do outdoors:

Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge
https://www.fws.gov/refuge/sherburne/
Free Family Event Schedule 2016
https://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/2016%20Event%20Schedule(2).pdf
Wildlife and nature viewing from sandhill cranes, eagles, plants, butterflies and the smallest of the animal species.

Elm Creek Park Reserve
https://www.threeriversparks.org/parks/elm-creek-park.aspx
The park features more than 20 miles of paved hiking and biking trails, miles of turf hiking trails, a chlorinated swimming pond, children’s play area and more!

Downtown Elk River Riverfront Concerts
http://www.elkrivermn.gov/DocumentCenter/View/469
Check out the Thursday night live concerts at downtown Elk River’s Rivers Edge Commons Park all summer long.

Oliver Kelly Farm
http://sites.mnhs.org/historic-sites/oliver-h-kelley-farm
Meet the animals in the barn and help work on the farm by picking vegetables or churning butter in the kitchen.

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
http://www.arboretum.umn.edu/
Over 1,100 acres of gardens, woods and trails.

Walker Arts Center Sculpture Garden
http://www.walkerart.org/calendar/2008/walker-on-the-green-artist-designed-mini-golf
There are many free events including Free First Saturdays.

Como Zoo and Conservatory
http://www.comozooconservatory.org/
Not only can you visit the animals and gardens, the zoo and conservatory offers many different activities, classes and programs. Blooming Butterflies opened on June 17th.

Minnehaha Regional Park
https://www.minneapolisparks.org/parks__destinations/parks__lakes/minnehaha_regional_park/
Minnehaha Regional Park covers 167 acres of nature, gardens and waterfalls.

Harriet Alexander Nature Center
http://www.ci.roseville.mn.us/index.aspx?nid=183
The boardwalk and trails circulate through 52 acres of marsh, prairie and forest habitats.

Woodland Trails Park – Elk River
http://www.elkrivermn.gov/facilities/Facility/Details/31
Bike, walk or hike the trails.

Lake Maria State Park – Monticello
http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/lake_maria/index.html
The marshes, potholes, and lakes provide excellent habitat for wildlife.

Things to do in Elk River with the kids!
http://www.familydaysout.com/kids-things-to-do-usa/elk-river/mn
Many activities and attractions listed with detailed information and directions to each location.

There are so many ways to explore Minnesota and there is so much that our state has to offer. For even more events and activities go to:
Explore Minnesota
http://www.exploreminnesota.com/things-to-do/

Time to put on the sunscreen and discover all that summer has to offer. See the sights and travel around! Minnesota summers sure fly by . . . so take pleasure in it while you can. We’ll be shoveling snow soon enough!

Winter Family Fun List

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By: Angy Talbot (ECFE Blog Writer)

Finally, we can enjoy the snow and have some winter excitement! There are so many great activities you can do with the family during the winter months. Here’s an entertaining list of ideas you can do with the kiddos indoors when the weather gets cold and ways to have a blast outside!
• Build a snowman or snow family
• Go sledding or tubing
• Go ice-skating
• Have a snowball fight
• Pajama day
• Movie marathon day
• Bake cookies
• Go through old photo albums of your childhood with the kids
• Look through family pictures or watch home movies
• Get up early and go out to breakfast
• Family game night
• Take a walk in the snow (especially when snowing)
• Sit by a fire indoors or out
• Go to the local community center for open swimming
• Go ice-fishing
• Catch snowflakes on your tongue
• Indoor or outdoor scavenger hunt
• Spa day at home
• Do arts and crafts
• Donate canned goods to a food shelf
• Have a dance contest
• Make funny home videos
• Sip homemade hot chocolate
• Take pictures in the snow
• Play with play dough
• Build an indoor fort with blankets and pillows
• Build a snow fort or igloo
• Make paper snowflakes
• Assemble a jigsaw puzzle
• Make bird feeders
• Snuggle under the blankets with a good book
• Make apple cider
• Play in the snow and make snow angels
• Take a bubble bath
• Draw self-portraits
• Go to the library
• Donate old clothes and toys to charity
• Go to a local hockey game
• See a play
• Go to the movies (don’t forget to get popcorn)
• Have an indoor picnic
• Create snow paintings (try water colors in the snow)
• Bake bread
• Find animal tracks
• Make different types of tracks in the snow
• Make popcorn and try different toppings
• Take a train ride
• Go to a museum
• Go to the zoo
• Have breakfast for dinner
• Blow bubbles outside
• Plan your summer family vacation
• Make homemade pizza
• Visit an indoor bounce house
• Go to the roller rink
• Make a meal from another country or culture
• Learn to say, “I love you” in different languages
• Go to a planetarium
• Give to those in need or volunteer together as a family
• Winter star gaze
• Shovel snow (let the kids help, small shovels work great)
• Go bowling
• Go play ball in an indoor gym
• Take a scenic drive
• Enjoy a sunset
• Make New Year’s Resolutions
• Take a family NAP

The Power of Nature

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By: Angy Talbot

“As a child, one has that magical capacity to move among the many eras of the earth; to see the land as an animal does; to experience the sky from the perspective of a flower or a bee; to feel the earth quiver and breathe beneath us; to know a hundred different smells of mud and listen unselfconsciously to the soughing of the trees.” ~Valerie Andrews

When I was a child, I was exposed to and experienced nature in many ways. Each year we spent a week at Itasca State Park. During our visit, we would tent; make campfires, go swimming in the lake, hike, and fish. One of my favorite things to do was to bike ride the Wilderness Trail where we would stop to take hikes in the woods to see various natural landmarks along the way. We would witness so many beautiful species, plants, and trees along our path. I can still smell the fresh scent of cedar and lake water. Once my father and I stopped at the Pioneer Cemetery. We were the only visitors. I remember the moment, it was so peaceful and I could hear what seemed like every sound in the woods from the rustle of leaves to waves hitting the shore. As we sat in silence, little did we know that we had a visitor watching us. No more than a few feet away stood a fawn standing in the path looking at us with such an intense stare. I couldn’t help but stand and walk toward this stunning creature. At the time, I was just 8 years old. As I approached the deer, it too approached me. I was able to get close enough to pet this wild animal like it was a pet on a farm. My father who was in complete shock, grabbed his camera only to drop a roll of film on the ground which startled the young fawn to run back into the woods. I had no idea at the time what a great honor it was for me to have lived out that moment. My father was disappointed that he didn’t have the opportunity to snap a picture of this rare occurrence. I recall many other great memories of my childhood in those special moments experiencing nature with those I loved. As a parent, I have tried to recreate some cherished moments I had with my family. There are so many opportunities to engage and connect our children to nature! Children today do not spend as much time outdoors in the natural world. I feel fortunate as a teacher that we have a magnificent Nature Explore Center on our school grounds. It is a natural environment with gardens, trees, grass, flowers, and a hill. There are also different medians for the children to work and play with from instruments, sand, climbing, building, and relaxing. I see so much creativity, cooperation, and exploration in their play when they are outside in nature experiencing our Earth. The bugs are no longer scary and all they can see, hear, touch, and smell heightens the children’s senses. Giving children opportunities in nature will provide memories to cherish for a lifetime. This time can be spent at the park, beach, in the woods, and lets not forget about our own back yards! The cost is simply priceless.
Here is a list of places that you can take your children right here in Minnesota to explore the powers and wonders of nature:
Sherburne County National Wildlife Refuge
http://exploresherburne.org/_index.php

Spring brook Nature Center
http://www.springbrooknaturecenter.org/

Elm Creek Park and Preserve
http://www.threeriversparks.org/parks/elm-creek-park.aspx

Minnesota State Parks
http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/index.html

Tamarack Nature Center
https://parks.co.ramsey.mn.us/tamarack/Pages/tamarack.aspx

Oliver Kelly Farm
http://sites.mnhs.org/historic-sites/oliver-h-kelley-farm

These are just a few places that you can go to discover nature. There are so many neighboring parks near and in every city of Minnesota. So take some time and enjoy this wonderful physical world we live in with your children.

The Wonders Of The Nature Classroom

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By: Angy  Talbot – ECFE Blog Writer

As I look outside and see my daughter playing, as a mother I am thankful that she has a place to discover with the grass beneath her feet and the sun shining on her face. There are many wonders of nature in our backyard, but I want to continue to give her more experiences with nature from camping adventures to walking in the woods. As I look out onto our Nature Classroom, as a teacher I am thankful that every child will have an opportunity in our program to explore the world outside a school building. The children play while absorbing and using each sense. From seeing an insect fly by and watching a flower grow, hearing the birds chirp and the sounds of the leaves moving in the wind, feeling the dirt on the ground or the rough grooves of bark from a tree on their fingertips, tasting a freshly picked tomato or a floating snow flake touching their tongue, smelling the lilac bush or the scent of a newly fallen pinecone, while being with the earth in outdoor life. The Nature Classroom is a whole body experience. When the children play in the sandbox, their entire body is emerged and they can use their arms and legs, besides their hands. In the Messy Materials Area, children are picking up logs and sticks building creations and using their imagination to construct life like forms big and small. The children explore without reservation and can touch and feel all that they see. In our Nature Classroom, children not only encounter what the physical world has to offer, they also experience activities that have been done traditionally inside, behind four walls. Many activities from reading, writing, science, math, and circle time can now be done outside. The children can play musical instruments, go on scavenger hunts, eat snack, or just relax and watch the clouds go by. From structured activities to children exploring on their own, there is no limitations to what can be done outside. What I take pleasure in most about the Nature Classroom is the freedom the children have. I no longer see the fear of bugs or worms. The children are excited when a little trespasser, such as a Ladybug is on their shirt or a worm has just come to the surface after a rain shower. In every season and any weather condition, the Nature Classroom brings about many opportunities for children to understand and gain knowledge of the great outdoors. To learn more about Outdoor Nature Explore Classrooms please go to:
http://www.arborday.org/explore
What kinds of things do you like to do with your children outdoors? What experiences has your child had with the Nature Classroom?

Exploring Autumn

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By: Angy Talbot –  ECFE Blog Writer/ School Readiness Teacher

There is so much to see and explore in the autumn months.  The leaves begin to change, the weather starts to cool, and our days begin to shorten.  There are many entertaining activities you can do this time of year with your children.  One of my favorite things to do with my daughter is to go to the pumpkin patch.  She always takes great care in choosing just the right pumpkins that we will carve.  At the pumpkin patch they often have corn mazes and hay rides.  I must admit I am always the first one to make it out of the maze!  Here is a wonderful website, Pumpkin Patches and More, to find pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and farms in your area:

www.pumpkinpatchesandmore.org/MNpumpkins.php.  This site also has great resources from how to choose pumpkins, pumpkin recipes, and the history of Halloween!

Not only do we think of pumpkins, apples are also at their best this time of year.  It is so fun to go to an apple orchard to pick your own apples or to taste all the different types of variations of apples.  My daughter was surprised how different each apple tasted.  Pink Ladies are her favorite!  To find an apple orchard go to the Minnesota Department of Agricultural website at: Minnesota Grown.Com  http://www3.mda.state.mn.us/mngrown/?gclid=CKOwzcfPjLkCFWNgMgod8HgARg

On this website you can also find:

  • Farmers Markets
  • Berries
  • Garden Produce
  • Sweet Corn

There are many various fall festivals and events throughout Minnesota.  To find where and when they are, just go Explore Minnesota at:  http://www.exploreminnesota.com/events/festivals-events/index.aspx.  Not only do they have a list of the many events, you can look up events by city.  You can even pick dates of events so you can find and search for fun activities throughout the year!

The Sherburne County National Wildlife has many wonderful opportunities for fall tours; their website is:  http://www.fws.gov/refuge/sherburne/.  The Fall Wildlife Festival is on Saturday, October 5th from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm.  This annual fall celebration of wildlife includes live birds, horse-drawn wagon rides, bonfire, nature crafts, wildlife discovery, food, silent auction, and more!  For more information, call 763-389-3323.

Now we can’t forget all those simple pleasures of the season.  This is a great time to be outside going on bike rides, walks, or just exploring the great outdoors.  There is so much for children to hear, smell, touch, and see.  All their senses can be used exploring the outside world.  Indoors activities such as decorating for the season, making apple pie or preparing that perfect Halloween costume are all things that can bring joy in Autumn.  Children love to help, and making them part of all the activities helps them to appreciate and enjoy them with you.  Children enjoy the simple activities of finding leaves, acorns, and pinecones or going on a scavenger hunt.  Raking a big pile of leaves and letting them play in it or letting them rake leaves is always a big hit for kids.  I found a website with fun autumn ideas, including over 150 autumn downloads!  Go to Woodland Trust at:  http://www.naturedetectives.org.uk/autumn/

As stated by William Allingham, “Autumn’s the mellow time.”  So take this time as an opportunity to relax and enjoy the uncomplicated fall season.