Exploring Science With Children

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

Science gives children the opportunity to explore, discover, experience, observe, and problem solve. Science stimulates curiosity and increases the child’s knowledge by providing answers to their questions. It is important that adults give accurate information to children and use scientific terms in order to increase not only knowledge, but also vocabulary. In today’s society, children spend more time behind a computer screen or watching television. Children are spending less time in nature and less time outdoors. In the Discovery classrooms, one way we bring science and nature together is by planting. We plant beans each year and we garden in the summer outside in the Nature Explore Classroom. The children learn what a plant needs to survive from sunlight, water, and soil while watching the bean turn into a sprout and seeing the growing process firsthand. We also do many different types of science experiments. Science experiments help grab the attention of young children when studying science. Not only are the science experiments interesting and fun, they help to answer questions the children may have. Science experiments make science “hands on” and the children are able to observe the results and associate abstract concepts to understanding.

Science plays an important role in the Discovery classrooms. The children are able to make discoveries on their own, learn about plants, animals, nature, and life. Outside in the Nature Explore Classroom, children see first hand nature and the children often bring in specimens by collecting leaves, rocks, and other natural habitat found in the natural environment. The children are experiencing and touching the wonders of our earth. The children are given the opportunity to find and discover while exercising their senses. It can be simple to incorporate science at home. Here are some tips I found below:

  • Natural object collections (rocks, feathers, flowers, leaves)
  • Observe animals or plants
  • Using magnifying glasses
  • Science themed books and games
  • Bug collection activities
  • Life cycles from tadpoles to butterflies
  • Garden or plant
  • Observe ant farms, spider webs, and bird’s nest and other animal homes
  • Learn the names of baby animals
  • Watch and feed the birds
  • Learn the parts of an animal or plant
  • Discuss the different tastes of food from sour, sweet, salty, and bitter
  • Play with water (floating, sinking, and moving objects).
  • Weigh objects
  • Discover the uses of magnets
  • Perform simple experiments
  • Freeze water into ice and then watch it melt
  • Take a field trip to the Science or Children’s Museum

Children are very curious and they are always trying to figure out how things work or why things happen. “Exploring scientific concepts with young children can be as natural and easy as asking questions, making predictions, and trying to figure out the answers together (The Children’s Museum).” How do you explore science with your child?

Here are some websites related to science and children:

Preparing For Preschool: Science

http://www.scholastic.com/resources/article/preparing-for-preschool-science

Science World

http://www.scienceworld.ca/preschool

Science Activities

http://www.jumpstart.com/parents/activities/science-activities

Helping your child learn science

www.ed.gov/parents/academic/help/science/science.pdf

Science Kids

http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/

Science Games on PBS

http://pbskids.org/games/science/

 

 

 

Daily Routines and Schedules

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By: Angy Talbot (ECFE Blog Writer)

Routines and schedules help give children a sense of security. Maintaining regular daily routines makes it easier for children to deal with stress or life changes.   Routines are especially important during particular times of the day from getting ready in the morning to bedtime. Stable routines help children to anticipate what will happen next, it’s actions and a guide to a specific goal. Routines should be regular, but flexible when needed.   Unexpected events may cause for a change of routine. The goal is to be constant, but make changes adaptable when necessary.  This helps prepare children to be flexible when unexpected events take place, and knowing that the routine will return the following day.

In the Article, Why Kids Need Routines, stated Seven Benefits of Using Routines with Your Kids:

  1. Routines eliminate power struggles.

Routines eliminate power struggles because you are not bossing the child around. This activity (brushing teeth, napping, turning off the TV to come to dinner) is just what we do at this time of day. The parent stops being the bad guy, and nagging is greatly reduced.

  1. Routines help kids cooperate.

Routines help kids cooperate by reducing stress and anxiety for everyone. We all know what comes next; we get fair warning for transitions, and no one feels pushed around, or like parents are being arbitrary.

  1. Routines help kids learn to take charge of their own activities.

Over time, kids learn to brush their teeth, pack their backpacks, etc., without constant reminders. Kids love being in charge of themselves. This feeling increases their sense of mastery and competence. Kids who feel more independent and in charge of themselves have less need to rebel and be oppositional.

  1. Kids learn the concept of “looking forward” to things they enjoy.

This is an important part of making a happy accommodation with the demands of a schedule. He may want to go to the playground now, but he can learn that we always go to the playground in the afternoon, and he can look forward to it then.

  1. Regular routines help kids get on a schedule.

Regular routines help kids get on a schedule, so that they fall asleep more easily at night.

  1. Routines help parents build in those precious connection moments.

We all know that we need to connect with our children every day, but when our focus is on moving kids through the schedule to get them to bed, we miss out on opportunities to connect. If we build little connection rituals into our routine, they become habit.

  1.      7. Schedules help parents maintain consistency in expectations.

If everything is a fight, parents end up settling: more TV, skip-brushing teeth for tonight, etc. With a routine, parents are more likely to stick to healthy expectations for everyone in the family, because that’s just the way we do things in our household. The result: a family with healthy habits, where everything runs more smoothly!

(Aha! Parenting.com, Copyright ©2017 Dr. Laura Markham)

I have found as a parent, the most important routines of the day are morning rituals, meal times and bedtime. These regular schedules provide the day with structure. The key is also being prepared.

Morning Rituals: For our morning rituals, we do some prep work the evening before by preparing lunches, setting out outfits and packing backpacks. This has eliminated stress in the morning and time. These tasks also help teach organizational skills and time management. A visual schedule can be used to show the routines of the day from: wake up, use the bathroom, eat breakfast, brush teeth, brush hair and get dressed. Pictures of each activity can be used to visually see the order and what they should do next.

Meal Time Routines: When children have a mealtime routine, they know what to expect when it is time for family meals. Dinnertime gives families the opportunity to talk about their day and share their feelings. There can be many routines from washing hands, setting the table, helping with the meal or clearing the dishes.

Bedtime Rituals: Bedtime rituals make it easier to get children to bed at night. For my daughter, we had a visual schedule of each activity she needed to do before bed. The schedule was pictures of her doing each ritual placed in order. Beginning with bath, pajamas, brush teeth, two stories, get tucked into bed, lights out and ending with sleep. We did the same routine each night and she could look at her schedule to know what came next and what was expected.

I have also found that giving children a 5-minute warning before a routine or ritual helps children to finish what they are doing and to become more prepared for their next tasks. Routines and rituals make it easier for families to become organized and get things done. Family life may be chaotic without these types of structure. There are no rules for what routines and rituals you need. It’s about finding what works best for your family.

Here are some great resources to get you started on establishing family routines and rituals:

Creating Structures and Rules

https://www.cdc.gov/parents/essentials/structure/

The Importance of Routines for Children

http://www.schoolsparks.com/blog/the-importance-of-routines-for-children

It’s the Little Things: Daily Routines

http://www.pbs.org/wholechild/providers/little.html

Here is a wonderful website that has many visual schedules and other tools you can use at home and in school: http://setbc.org/pictureset/

Healthy Nutrition For The New Year!

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By: Cindy Nyquist (Guest Blog Writer – ECFE Teacher)

It is that time of the year when we try and make some positive changes! ECFE and School Readiness is trying to help our school snack be a much more healthy experience for our students. I am an ECFE teacher, not a dietitian, but here are some healthy suggestions that I have incorporated on my journey to better nutrition.

I think food is very complicated because it starts with how we were brought up. My parents grew up on farms where they did physical labor and ate 6 times a day. I don’t do physical labor, but unfortunately I grew up eating 3 meals and 3 sugary snacks. Eating healthy snacks was not done. I wasn’t exposed to raw vegetables with the exception of a carrot or even fresh vegetables. I don’t want to be offensive, but I don’t think anyone is going to jump up and down about a canned vegetable. When I see the kids that are exposed to fresh vegetables eating a piece of cucumber or a cherry tomato like it is the best thing ever, I have real regrets for not serving raw vegetables to my children. They say it takes 20 exposures to a new food to like it, so keep trying with those fresh vegetables!

If I could have a do over with my kids, I would swap out the orange juice they had with a green smoothie for breakfast. That way they are getting a vegetable even for breakfast. Spinach mixed with frozen fruit is very palatable! It is better for their blood sugar level also, and the increase in diabetes is definitely a motivator for wanting to have better nutrition! There are many inexpensive options for blending a smoothie. You can put beans in a smoothie and not even taste them, which is a good source of protein and fiber. I would also serve my children steel cut oatmeal or healthy multigrain pancakes instead of the high sugar, over-processed cereal they ate.

When I first started on a journey to better nutrition, I started with the goal of taking what I was already eating and adding more vegetables to it. Instead of tacos, I switched to chicken fajitas with peppers and onion; instead of spaghetti with just meat, I added zucchini, onions, mushrooms, and peppers. Now I look at a bunch of veggies and get excited. It has so much more texture and color than what I had been eating.

Next, I started to overhaul my starches. Out with the white bread and pasta, white rice, and potatoes. In with the multigrain foods you will prefer if you continue eating them! Yukon Gold’s or sweet potatoes are good! Grains like quinoa are now more easily available. You need to have the mindset that you will someday like this new choice.

Now I am working on getting more proteins. I try and add beans to dishes, eat almonds as a snack, and an avocado on my eggs instead of cheese.

Snacks can be a real downfall to good nutrition. Try and think swapping what you’re enjoying for something better. Try eating popcorn without butter instead of chips. Instead of fruit snacks, offer apple slices to dip in almond butter or yogurt. They have many healthy Popsicle recipes online and you can make them in a Dixie cup with a stick.

I hope that you implement some healthy choices that keep moving in the right direction in 2017!

 

 

 

 

 

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?

Quotes to Inspire Kids!

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By: Angy Talbot (ECFE Blog Writer/School Readiness Instructor)

I love quotes. Often, I can find the words I am trying to express by starting with a famous quote. Here are a few I found that can help inspire the youngest of minds.

“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why we call it ‘The Present’.”
-Eleanor Roosevelt

“The time is always right to do what is right.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself,
instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”
-Judy Garland

“Don’t let what you can’t do
stop you from doing what you can do.”
-John Wooden

“If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew, just go right along and you’ll start happening too.”
-Dr. Seuss

“Be who you are and say how you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
-Dr. Seuss

“Anything can happen child, anything can be!”
-Shel Silverstein

“If you have good thoughts…they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”
-Ronald Dahl

“I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”
-Robert Munsh

“I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I know I can!”
-Watty Pipper

“The more he gave away, the more delighted he became.”
-Marcus Pfister

“It is when we are most lost that we sometimes find our truest friends.”
-Brothers Grimm from Snow White

“When you know better you do better.”
-Maya Angelou

“No one is perfect – that’s why pencils have erasers.”
-Wolfgang Riebe

“Never waste a minute thinking of anyone you don’t like.”
-Eisenhower

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”
-Dr. Suess

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.
-Dr. Suess

“We must be the change we want to see.”
-Mahatma Gandhi

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”
-Mark Twain

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.”
-Helen Keller

“The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.”
-Theodore Roosevelt

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
-Dalai Lama

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”
-Walt Disney

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
-Benjamin Franklin

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
-Dr. Seuss

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
-Dr. Seuss

“Only surround yourself with people who will lift you higher.”
-Oprah Winfrey

“Other things may change us, but we start and end with family.”
-Anthony Brandt

Getting Ready For Those First Days of School!

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By: Angy Talbot (ECFE Blog Writer/School Readiness Instructor)

Now that we’re coming to an end of the Dog Days of Summer, it is time to slowly switch our thoughts back to school. Summer days tend to be carefree, stress less, and relaxing. In just a few weeks, the busy bustle will begin again in full force. It can be quite a transition for children to switch from summer mode to school days. Now is a great opportunity to begin preparing your children for back to school!

Here are a few tips to help you gradually get back into the school groove.

• Go back to school shopping with your children. Let them help go through the list of what’s needed while letting them pick out the colors they like of certain items and their own backpack. Children will get more excited if they’re involved with the preparations and they will have ownership of their new items.

• School shopping for new clothes is always fun for kids. It is helpful to go through children’s clothes and shoes to make sure everything fits before the big shopping day. You can have special drawer or place in the closet that they can keep their new school clothes to wear for those first days. It helps to plan out which outfits they will wear that first week to help keep things stress free.

• Plan lunches. Make a list with your child of the types of foods they like to eat for lunch. I love all the ideas I have gotten on Pinterest for new ways to pack lunches. This is a great time to try some new foods, like hummus or cottage cheese. If your child likes them, you’ll have more options for lunchtime. It’s also helpful to copy off the first month’s lunch calendar so your children can pick out which days they will have hot or cold lunch in advance.

• Get the calendar ready. Have a calendar posted that the whole family can see with September events and schedules from music classes, football games, and don’t forget the first day of school. I use a big dry erase calendar that I switch each month. It’s easy to add and change events.

• Get organized! Make sure you have everything in order and ready to go from documentations needed or child well checks and immunizations. Check with the school’s website to make sure you have everything needed before the first day of school. It’s also helpful to get your house in order, cleaned and organized before school starts.

• Read books or watch movies about going back to school. Some fun movies for school-age children are: Matilda, Dairy of a Wimpy Kid, Harriet the Spy, Akeelah and the Bee, Freaky Friday, Nancy Drew, and High School Musical.

• Try to slowly get back into your regular routine. Begin by:
o Eating all meals similar to the times they will eat during the school year.
o Reestablishing regular bedtime routines from bathing, teeth brushing, story time and tucking in.
o Make sure your child is getting enough sleep each night from 9 to 10 hours.
o Start to put your child down for bedtime a little earlier each week until the week before school so that they are going to bed at the time they will when school begins. Do the same for wake up times too.

Here are some helpful tips for those children who are going to school for the first time:

• Start reading books about going to school for the first time.
What to Expect at Preschool (What to Expect Kids) by Heidi Murkoff
Preschool Day Hooray! by Linda Leopold Strauss
Maisy Goes to Preschool: A Maisy First Experience by Lucy Cousins
Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney
I Love You All Day Long by Francesca Rusackas

• Drive by the school and point out, “There’s your new school.” If possible walk around, check out the playground and show your child the entrance to the building.

• Watch movies about going to school. Some great movies for preschoolers are: Curious George Back to School, Daniel (Tiger) Goes to School, Sesame Street Ready for School, Caillou Goes to School, Nickelodeon: The First Day of School, Bubble Guppies: Get Ready for School, and Leap Frog Let’s Go To School.

• Learn the teachers’ names and something about them to tell your child.

• Meet the teachers and have a tour of the classroom before school starts (often schools will have an Open House).

• Have conversations about the kinds of things they will do at school (playing on the playground, playing with new friends, doing art projects, playing with blocks, etc.) and ask your child if they have any questions about school.

• Take pictures of the school, classroom, teachers, and make a little book just for your child.

• Share memories with your child of some fun school recollections you had for our first day at school.

• Tell your child often and how much fun school is!!

And don’t forget there is still time to enjoy summer!