Turn Any Walk into a Nature Walk

nature walk

In honor of Earth Day we thought we’d share this article by Peggy Ashbrook @ naeyc for families.

Every walk is an opportunity for children to learn about the natural world. Walking around the block with my child when he was 2 years old could take an hour because there was always something new to explore.  

As you explore your neighborhood:

  • Be open to the wonder of noticing small details and new growth.
  • Leave electronic toys at home so that children can focus on the world around them.
  • Bring paper and crayons so children can draw what they see if  you bring your cell phone and need to take a call.
  • Walk at different times of the day or night to increase your chances of seeing something new.
  • Ask, “What’s different about what you see today?” each time you and your child walk outside.
  • Model using all five senses. You might say, “I’m seeing the big clouds,” “I’m touching the wet grass,” “I’m hearing the jets of an airplane,” or “I’m smelling the fallen pine tree needles.” It’s not safe to taste many things outdoors, but you can “taste” the air.
  • Carry along an inexpensive magnifying glass so children can get up close and personal with nature.
  • Make dressing for the weather part of the learning experience by singing songs about the weather as you and your child put on sunscreen, hats, or several layers of clothing. Try “You Are My Sunshine,” “It Ain’t Gonna Rain,” or “The Mitten Song”. Let your child work to figure out how to zip a zipper or put on boots just long enough so she can learn these tasks and not so long that she becomes frustrated.

Observe the weather
On the walk, use your magnifying glass to look closely at drops of rain hanging from a leaf or to examine the structure of snow. If it has recently rained, take a medicine dropper so your child can suck up rain from puddles and squirt it back out again. Watch where the water flows and ask, “I wonder where it will go from here?” If it is sunny, make shadows with your body or jump over the shadow of a family member. Use sidewalk chalk to draw the shapes of the clouds you see.

Use your magnifying glass to look closely at small wildlife such as non-poisonous spiders, roly-polies, worms, and any non-stinging insect that will hold still long enough. Ask your child to show you how the worm or ant moves, and join in as he wiggles or crawls. Ask your child to think about how well animals move even though their bodies are so different from our own.

Count the number of larger animals you see on your walk. Is the neighbor’s cat in the window again? Look for birds in bushes and on electric lines. Are there cows in the field, squirrels in the trees, or dogs going for a walk around the block? Talk with your child about what these animals are doing.

Look closely at the different shapes, sizes, and structures of leaves and flowers (but watch out for thorns and poison ivy). Collect leaf shapes and then make rubbings of different types of leaves. To do this, put a piece of paper over a leaf resting on a hard surface, then rub or wipe the paper with a crayon held sideways to reveal the leaf’s veins and edges. Collect fallen leaves and seeds by pressing them into the sticky side of a loop of tape. Ask your child to measure how tall a plant is in relation to her body (“This bush is as tall as my knee”).

Observe changes in the life cycle of a plant. If a plant has a bud on it, ask your child to guess how many days it will take to open. Then count the days as you revisit the plant on your walks. If your children are old enough, have them record their findings in a notebook.

Use your magnifying glass to see the tiny shapes of crystals or pieces of sediment that make up the rocks in your neighborhood. If rocks are not part of the landscape where you usually walk, take a field trip to a local creek where you might see some naturally deposited rock. Compare sizes and colors. Try using them as chalk on other rocks or on your sidewalk.

Learn More
Check your local library for books that will help children learn more about animals, plants, and whatever else they observe. Children love to see the variety of caterpillars, birds, local mammals, and flowers in these identification books. Internet sites and apps are also great resources for identifying animals and more.

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Emergency Care: Choking


Most of the time when something blocks your baby’s throat, he or she will instinctively cough, gasp or gag until the object clears their windpipe.  Usually children will breathe on their own, and you don’t need to interfere.  But if your baby cannot make sounds, stops breathing and turns blue, you must act immediately.

Anytime a baby inhales anything other than air, they will choke.  Babies most commonly choke on toys with small parts or foods that “go down the wrong way.”  Keep from baby’s reach anything that they can choke on, such as hot dogs, whole grapes and any small food that may obstruct his or her breathing.  Coins also are commonly swallowed and can obstruct baby’s airway.

How serious is it?  When your baby’s airway is blocked and they cannot clear it, the situation is life-threatening.  You must deal with it immediately.  The longer your baby is deprived of oxygen, the greater the risk of permanent brain damage or death.  If you cannot clear the airway, ask someone to call for emergency help.

What you can do?  If your child is coughing, let them cough until the windpipe is clear.  If you can see something that’s blocking the throat, carefully place your fingers in the baby’s mouth to remove the obstruction.  You don’t want to push the object farther back.  If nothing is visible, don’t stick your fingers in their throat.  Again, you don’t want to cause the object to become more deeply lodged.

To clear the airway of a choking infant:

  1. Assume a seated position. Hold the infant face down on your forearm, which is resting on your thigh.
  2. Thump the infant gently but firmly.  Do this five times on the middle of the back using the heel of your hand.  The combination of gravity and thumps to the back should release the blocking object.
  3. Hold the infant faceup on your forearm, with the head tilted downward.  Do this if the previous steps don’t work.  Using two fingers placed at the center of the infants breastbone, give five quick chest compressions.  If the infant is too large, lay them face down on your lap with the head lower than the rest of the body.
  4. Repeat the thumps to the back and the chest thrusts.  Do this if the child’s breathing doesn’t resume.  Call for emergency medical help.
  5. Begin infant CPR.  As soon as the obstruction is relieved, either the child will breathe spontaneously or you’ll need to begin CPR.

If the child resumes breathing within a minute or two, they probably won’t suffer any long-term ill effects.  If, after the child is breathing again, they continue coughing or choking, it may meant that something is still interfering with their breathing, and you should call 911 or your local emergency number.


Information obtained through Mayo Clinic Guide to your Baby First Year

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Book: Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

Dont let the pigeon drive the Bus!

When a bus driver takes a break from his route, a very unlikely volunteer springs up to take his place-a pigeon! But you’ve never met one like this before. As he pleads, wheedles, and begs his way through the book, children will love being able to answer back and decide his fate. In his hilarious picture book debut, popular cartoonist Mo Willems perfectly captures a preschooler’s temper tantrum.                                               ~Goodreads

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13 Ways to Raise Kids Who Love and Care For Each Other


Raising multiple children is a juggling act to be sure.  We ran across this article by Carol Morgan, Ph. D. with great advice and suggestions of how to create a loving home where everyone feels loved and cared for.

1. Start early – make good relationships a priority.
Even if you have teenagers, it’s not too late. However, if you have babies, toddlers, or younger children, you’re in luck. You have a wonderful opportunity to start early. Make sure you teach them the importance of getting along and being kind to one another. Model that behavior yourself, too.

2. Teach them to have a ‘We mentality,’ not a ‘Me mentality.’
Let’s face it – human beings are inherently selfish. It’s pretty much a survival mechanism. So what parents have to do is to socialize their kids out of the ‘Me mentality.’ Tell your kids that they are a team. In fact, the whole family is a team. Everyone’s actions affect everyone else’s. If you remind them enough times, it will eventually sink in.

 3. Demonstrate and teach positive ways to work through arguments.
First, look at yourself. How do you work through conflict with other people (especially the other parent)? Do you yell and scream at each other? Or do you sit down peacefully and work out your problems in a rational manner? Hopefully, it’s the latter. But if not, you need to start by working on your conflict skills. Once you have learned how to work through arguments yourself, you can teach your kids to do the same. Sit down with them and talk them through the process. Teach them that there are positive ways to ‘fight.’

4. Recognize and encourage all children when one of them accomplishes something.
Maybe Johnny won a basketball championship. Or perhaps Jane brought home straight A’s all year. Whatever it is, make sure that you celebrate all accomplishments. Have the kids congratulate each other. And even if one or more of the kids isn’t accomplishing as much as another sibling, you can still be positive and encourage them to try their best – and tell them that you are proud of all of them. They are all unique.

5. Teach them to respect each other’s personal space and possessions.
Personal boundaries are important to many people. And when boundaries are crossed, usually a conflict ensues. Teach your children that sometimes people just need to be alone. And if they want to borrow a toy or another possession, they should ask permission. They should not just ‘take’ from another person and assume that everything will be okay.

6. Show how to give and receive an apology.
I’m sure we’ve all seen pathetic apologies from our kids many times. I know I have. You know the one: where they roll their eyes and mumble that they’re sorry. Make them look at each other in the eyes, speak clearly, and say, “I’m sorry,” over and over until you think they sound like the mean it. Then tell them that it’s easy to say those words, but when someone isreally sorry, they change their behavior.

7. Consistently remind them that they are not the center of the universe.
Unfortunately, many adults don’t even know this. But if you teach your kids this simple fact early, it will help them get along. Everything will not always go your way. Sometimes you have to compromise. See #2 again about developing a ‘We mentality.’

8. Model good behavior yourself.
When I teach my communication classes and workshops, I always tell my audience to take a good, long, hard look at themselves. You can’t change what you don’t recognize. So you might want your kids to get along and love each other more, but if you are not showing them how to do it through your own actions, then they will never learn. Children model behavior more than they listen to your words.

9. Never speak poorly of anyone in the family.
If you’re angry at your spouse, that’s understandable. It happens all the time. But if you go around and say negative things about him or her to your children, then that will teach them that it’s alright to badmouth people. Make sure your words about everyone are positive. Even if you’re pointing out something that needs to be changed, you can say, “I know you can do better.” Never, ever, model bad or critical language in front of your children.

10. Have them buy each other birthday and Christmas presents.
Sure, it makes more work for you to drive them around and pay for the presents. But it tells them that it is important to remember their siblings on special occasions. Christmas is not just about how many presents Santa Claus brings to you. It’s also about giving to loved ones. And so are birthdays.

11. Establish positive family dinner routines.
Having regular family dinners together helps children stay out of trouble as they grow up. It is a time for everyone to talk and communicate. So start a ritual where everyone goes around the table and says something they love and appreciate about other members of the family. That establishes the fact that everyone loves and respects everyone. Eventually, it will become a habit.

12. Have them say, “I love you,” and hug and encourage each other.
Even if you don’t come from an affectionate family, it’s never too late to start the hugs and kisses, and saying, “I love you.” Saying hello and goodbye with a hug shows that you love and respect another person. And using words of encouragement also adds to the affection that is shown.

13. Remind them that after you’re gone, they will only have each other.
I don’t mean to sound morbid, but it’s true. If you are lucky enough to follow the natural order of things, the parents usually die before the siblings do. And once the parents are gone, they will be the only ones in the family left standing. Remind them that having a sibling or siblings is a precious thing, and that there is no one else in the world who shares the same parents. It’s something that should be cherished.

As I said in the beginning, it’s never too late to start teaching your children to love and care for one another. All it takes is some conscious effort on your part. But it’s worth it.


See original article here.

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Playgroup: From Head to Toe

We read the book From Head to Toe by Eric Carle

from head to toe

Afterward we created an Easter craft we found on the All Kids Network:



What you’ll need:

  • Peek-a-boo Chick Template
  • Yellow, orange, and white craft foam
  • 2 googly eyes
  • Decorations for the egg (we used craft foam flowers)
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Brass fastener
  • Optional: magnet

How to make your Peek-A-Boo Chick:

  • Print our Peek-a-boo Chick template, cut the pieces out and trace them onto craft foam. Cut out your craft foam pieces.
  • Overlap the two pieces of the egg slightly so that when closed the two pieces of the egg make a nice egg shape.
  • Push the brass fastener through the two pieces on the side of the egg to hold them together. Don’t fasten it too tightly though so that your egg can still be opened and closed without cutting through the craft foam.
  • Glue the yellow chick piece to the back of the bottom half of the egg. Make sure when you do this that you glue it so that the top of the chick is covered by the top half of the egg when it is closed and doesn’t stick out.
  • Glue two googly eyes onto the chick.
  • Glue the beak onto the chick.
  • Glue your decorations onto the egg.


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Emergency Care: Bleeding


You generally can judge the seriousness of the bleeding by the rate of blood loss.  Serious bleeding comes from injured arteries.  Slower bleeding – a steady, slow flow of dark red blood – generally comes from injuries to veins or the body’s smaller blood vessels (capillaries).  Bleeding can be the result of a cut, puncture or abrasion.

How serious is it?  The rate of blood loss is a good indicator of the severity.  Remember, because babies have a much smaller volume of blood, they can’t afford to lose as much blood as an older child or adult.  Serious injuries that result in bleeding from the arteries can cause death in minutes if untreated.

What you can do?  If the bleeding is serious and it doesn’t stop on its own or if the cut or puncture is large or deep or has rough edges, apply pressure directly to the injury with a sterile gauze pad or clean cloth.  Keep pressure on the wound until the bleeding stops.  In most cases, you can stop bleeding with direct, firm pressure to the wound.  Follow these steps:

1. Remain calm.  This can be difficult, but it’s important.

2. Immediately apply steady, firm pressure to the wound with a sterile gauze pad, clean cloth or your hand until the bleeding stops.  Don’t attempt to clean the wound first or remove any embedded objects.

3. When the bleeding stops, cover the wound with a  tight dressing and tape the area securely.  If the bleeding continues and seeps through the dressing, place more absorbent material over the first dressing.

4. If possible, elevate the bleeding area.

5. If the bleeding continues, apply pressure to the major vessel that delivers blood to the area.

6. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, despite these measures, call 911 or your local emergency number.  If this isn’t possible, take your child immediately tot he nearest emergency department.


Information gathered from Mayo Clinic Guide to your Baby’s First Year


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Book: The Giant Jam Sandwich

The Giant Jam Sandwich

Story and pictures by John Vernon Lord with verses by Janet Burroway.

It’s a dark day for Itching Down. Four million wasps have just descended on the town, and the pests are relentless! What can be done? Bap the Baker has a crazy idea that just might work . . .

Young readers will love this lyrical, rhyming text as they watch the industrious citizens of Itching Down knead, bake, and slather the biggest wasp trap there ever was! John Vernon Lord’s bright ink and crayon illustrations fill the pages with humorous detail.                   ~Goodreads

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