Saturday, December 11, 2010

It's the Best Time of the Year...Right?

If you're like me at this time of year, you are bouncing from one 'festive' obligation to the next. Only to get home at the end of an exhausting day and realize that you haven't put a dent in your ever multiplying to-do list.  All you want to do is get off your feet and take those Hershey Holiday White Chocolate Candy Cane  Kisses to your warm, comfy bed.

But...the kids need dinner, probably a conflict mediator and maybe a good scrub behind the ears.
So tell me again, where does that quality time fit into this Holiday picture?

In the essence of saving time, I'll cut to the chase...

Below is a fun recipe to try with your children that will not only help prepare them for kindergarten, but also give you a much needed dose of relaxation.

Warm Vanilla Steamers



  1. Combine milk and sugar in a medium saucepan over high heat.  Stir frequently until sugar has dissolved and the milk begins to simmer.
  2. Remove from the burner, add the vanilla and allow it to sit for 4 minutes.
  3. Whisk vigorously to form a thick layer of foam on top of the milk.  Divide into 4 servings, topped with a dollop of the foam.
  4. Sprinkle with a pinch of ground cinnamon.
=Good vocabulary to use with your child.

Besides the Social/Emotional growth that your child will gain from this bonding experience, cooking with children incorporates many different domains of early childhood development:

Language & Literacy

  • Encourage your child to help you read the recipe.  
      • If you can find recipes with pictures (like on the backs of most brownie boxes) children can confidently help you interpret the recipe.
  • Use vibrant language that describes what their senses are exploring.
      • 'fragrant aroma of chocolate chips melting into the dough'
      • 'the gooey, sticky marshmallows are clenching to the sides of the pan'
  • Use common vocabulary in context
      • spatula
      • sifter
      • degrees
      • whisk

  • Encourage your child to count
      • Count with your child as they add ingredients
      • Ask them to give the mixture 20 stirs  
  • Use common vocabulary in context
      • 1/2 cup
      • dash of salt
      • 400 degrees


  • Point out cause & effect
      • Watch the cookies rise as they are heated in the oven.
      • Predict what will happen to the liquid jello when you cool it in the refrigerator.
  • Use common vocabulary in context
      • liquid
      • solid
      • mixture
  • Allow your child to explore with all of their senses

Enjoy LEARNING with your Child!

Thank you Ellen Booth Church for the fabulous recipe:
For more of her warm drink recipes visit:

Monday, December 6, 2010

If Santa only Knew.....

The list has been prepared and Santa is checking his bag.......just WHAT should be in Santa's sack to prepare children for the kindergarten classroom?

If a child's PLAY is his/her WORK, then we need to provide toys that offer the greatest learning opportunity.

Let's look at some important characteristics of educational toys (particularly for the birth-3 child):

1. 90% Child/10% Toy - When shopping for toys, always think about what the toy does for the child and what the child has to do to the toy. It is more beneficial for a child to have a simple toy that does very little for him/her than to have a toy that is laden with electronic appeal (lights, sounds). Toys that prepare a mind to problem-solve are toys that require the child to think. Open-ended toys allow the children to use their own creativity to bring meaning to the toy, rather than just responding to what the toy does for them.
2. Multi-Sensory - There is direct correlation
to the number of senses a
toy engages and the number of brain centers that are activated. When children see, hear, smell and
manipulate toys, they engage both hemispheres of their brain and maximize the learning.

3. Age-Appropriate - Toys teach the most when they are introduced at the appropriate age. Look for toys that engage the child's sense, require creativity and produce success in their play. For example, if a shape sorter is too difficult for a child, put the sorter away and make one that is simpler (with 1-2 shapes only). Neural connections and confidence are built through repetition and success and perseverance, not from discouragement. Children are naturally motivated and will let you know when they need more challenge from their toys.

4. Promote Interaction - Toys that promote caregiver/child interaction are the most beneficial to a child's development. Stuffed animals or dolls offer a perfect opportunity to play "picnic" or "school." With adult interaction, the child can use his/her imagination to create a scenario with toys. The adults give guidance, serve as a consultant and enrich the play with language enhancement. When the child says "cup," the caregiver can say, "Yes, rabbit wants the tall, green cup." The adult also teaches the child empathy and appropriate social interaction.
Additionally, the adult stretches the child intellectually by teaching color concepts, number concepts and other intellectual concepts throughout the play.

Below is a list of optimal toys for a baby and toddler:

Textured toys
Toys with dimension
Pretend play toys (pretend telephone, pretend kitchen, etc...)
Dolls/Stuffed Animals
Toys that promote movement

Good luck shopping for toys that will teach and promote learning in your child. The neural pathways that are created early in life will be the ones that prepare the child the best for learning in the kindergarten classroom.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Practices healthy behaviors through physical activity
Look for your child to...
Choose to participate in daily physical activity.

Your child may...
  • Play on/with outdoor equipment (e.g., slides, balls, wheeled toys).
  • Engage in active play (e.g., run, jump, chase, move to music, and play with pets).
  • Go on walks with family members.
  • Join in indoor or outdoor games (e.g., musical games, Tag, Drop the Handkerchief).
You can support your child…
  • Create a schedule for your child that includes at least one hour of physical activity each day.
  • Take your child to playgrounds frequently, and if possible, provide outdoor play equipment and riding toys in your yard. Don’t just cheer on your child from the sidelines—be a good role model and join in the fun.
  • With your child, play Tag and other games that involve running and movement.
  • Play music, and dance with your child. Use scarves and streamers for extra fun.
  • Take walks with your child. Walk in different ways (e.g., take tiny steps, take giant steps, walk very fast, walk slowly like a turtle).
  • If it’s hot outside, play games involving water (e.g., play catch with water balloons, run through a sprinkler, or “paint” each other with a bucket of water and a large paintbrush).
  • If there is snow on the ground, go sledding or ice skating, play catch with snowballs, or build a snowman or igloo.