Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Getting Creative with Sand and Water Play Tables

Summer is in full swing, and more than likely your kids are getting restless. Once the all encompassing joy of "no school!" has worn off and the inflatable sprinkler toys have sprung leaks, boredom has a funny way of creeping in and zapping the fun right out of summer! What to do?

Send the kids outdoors with a sand or water play table and let them go nuts. They will have hours of fun splashing around and getting dirty and you will get a few precious moments to sit and do...well, nothing. Best of all, while your kids think they are getting messy with your permission (a definite plus) you can breath easy knowing that play tables aren't all fun and games. Consider the following:

When kids are playing with things like sand or water, they aren't just splashing around and making mud pies; they're also using their learning about the world around them. Will the sand piles always cave in when you pour water on it? If I bury Carrie Cries Alot in the sand, will I remember where to find her? Do Mommy's car keys always sink to the bottom of the water pail? It may seem simple for adults, but for a preschooler who is still learning the concept of cause and effect, this is revolutionary stuff.

Sand tables and water tables are virtual breeding grounds for imaginative new games. Children are pros at finding and new, fun, and sometimes strange ways to make an old game brand new again. G.I. Joe treks across the hot and dangerous sand table dessert or perhaps Betty the Bear is hunting for fish in a pretend stream. Either way, when children use their imaginations they are also honing in on things they have learned; from the eating habits of grizzlies to healthy ways of expressing emotions.

So get outside and enjoy the fresh air without feeling guilty. Who knows? Maybe you'll decide to get a little messy yourself.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Get the Most Out of Story Time

We all know that reading to our children is important for their development, as well as building the bond between parent and child and instilling a love for reading at an early age. Even the youngest of infants enjoy hearing the rhythmic lull of a parent's voice as they read aloud the morning paper, a magazine, or book. You can keep their interest and fascination in high gear by implementing special rituals and routines into your daily story time.

Choose books that are age appropriate. While infants that are three months old or younger won't really care what you read so long as they are being held and cuddled, older babies enjoy books with a set rhythm or rhyming pattern. Consider things like songs or nursery rhymes. Picture books are another good choice. Toddlers and preschoolers are old enough to appreciate a short story before bedtime, and will enjoy guessing what happens next; while older children and pre-teens are advanced enough to enjoy chapter books that will continue on for more than one sitting.

For kids who are learning their alphabet, consider having story time on one of many colorful rugs or mats. There are several available that feature letters, words, and corresponding pictures to help children grasp new concepts. As you read a new word or letter, have your child find the corresponding letter on the rug.

Don't limit story time to bedtime. Reading a classic fairy tale or story before bed is fine, but be sure to spend time reading and exploring new ideas, concepts, and information while he is awake and alert. This will encourage his participation in asking questions and finding the answers within the book.

Encourage your children to read to YOU. Even if they are still too young to fully grasp the idea of reading actual words, babies and toddlers love looking at colorful pictures and pointing out shapes and objects they recognize.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Lets Potty! Potty Training Done Right

Potty training is a huge step for both child and you've probably been waiting one for a long time! Done right, your little one will soon be one step closer to independence and you will be one step closer to saying goodbye to diapers forever! Done wrong, and you both end up feeling tired, frustrated, and ready to throw in the towel.

So, how do you do it RIGHT? Read on to find out...

First, make sure your child is really ready for this step. His bladder may not be fully mature until the age of two or even two and a half. Is he showing interest in using the bathroom like grown ups do? Or is it just wishful thinking on your part? To know if it's really time to give the potty a try, look for the following signs:

  • He tells you he has to "pee" or "poop", and then he actually does it. This means he's learning the sensations associated with having to use the bathroom.
  • He takes an interest when YOU use the potty.
  • He begins complaining more when his diaper is wet or soiled. This may come about as verbally telling you he feels "wet" or "icky" or he may simply remove his dirty diaper himself when it doesn't feel good.
  • So, after reading those signs, you still think he's ready to use the potty. Great. The next thing to do is actually buy the potty. This can mean a traditional potty chair that is made to be his size, or you can buy small inserts to put inside the big toilet so little bottoms can sit down without falling in. There is really no right or wrong choice when it comes to choosing a potty. It all depends on the child. Some may enjoy a fancy chair with singing toilet and music that plays every time he tinkles. Others may be just as happy having you dance a little jig whenever he gets it right. It's entirely up to you.

Spend some time before actively training to let him get acquainted with the new potty. Take him to sit on it off and on throughout the day. If he happens to use it while he's there, great. Jump up and down and let him know how wonderful using the potty is. If he doesn't, don't be discouraged. The important thing is to get him comfortable with sitting on the potty so that when you do begin actually training he won't be afraid to sit down.

Once you've gotten him used to the potty, it's time to begin full fledged training! Time to toss out those diapers!

There is a bit of a debate among parents about which to use: disposable training pants like Pull-Ups, or regular underwear with rubber shorts. While either way will eventually get the job done, disposable options are really just glorified diapers disguised as underwear. You may be able to convince your child that they are for "big kids", but unless he can actually feel how unpleasant it is to wet himself, he may not have enough motivation to use the potty each and every time he has to go. For that reason, it is recommended that you use toddler underwear with rubber pants during the day and disposable training pants at night while you are training.

Once he gets the hang of daytime training with little to no accidents, you can take away the nighttime protection within the first year or so.

Congratulations on making it this far! The diapers are gone, and it's time to get down to business. Begin by explaining to him why his diapers are gone. Tell him that he is a big boy, and big boys wear underwear; not diapers. If he doesn’t seem enthused, tell him that you- daddy, big brother, cousin, superman or WHOEVER he looks up to- also wear underwear. This should get him a little more excited.

Take him to sit on the potty at least once every hour. When he uses it give him lots and lots of praise. Jump up and down. Clap and Cheer. Let him place a sticker on a “potty chart” to collect points for a prize. Whatever gets him excited about using his potty, give it a try!

Just be sure and remember that accidents are unavoidable during this process, and it's important for your own sanity and the sanity of your child that you understand and accept this fact from the start. Never yell, punish, or threaten him when he has an accident. Clean him off and let him know that he will get the hang of it next time.

You may also choose to cover certain furniture items like couches and mattresses while your child is still having frequent daily accidents.

The amount of time potty training will take varies greatly from child to child. On average, he should have the hang of it within a couple of weeks; with accidents becoming few and far between by the end of the first month. (Note: All children develop differently. Some kids may catch on much sooner or later than this and still be perfectly normal and healthy. If you have any concerns about your child’s development, please consult his pediatrician for advice.) Occasional accidents are normal for several years, and they usually occur when the child attempts to hold himself in order to continue playing or when a bathroom is nowhere near.

Remember, stick to your guns and don't look back. Potty training is not an easy task, but a necessary one that will be well worth it in the end!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Waiting Area Activity Cubes

The waiting room can be an intimidating place for kids. In a child's mind, the waiting room is the threshold into the unknown where he might have to get a shot or something even worse! Of course, we know that those fears are mostly in their mind and that's why it's so important to keep the fun going during the waiting time. A good waiting room is crucial to making a child's visit to your office a pleasant one. And an activity cube is something that will prove indispensable to your waiting area. With a game on each side, these cubes can keep even the toughest patients entertained while they wait. Here are a few reasons why the Activity cube is a good choice for your waiting room.

Colors that Bring Life to Waiting Areas

When it comes to choosing a play cube, take a little time to find the right one for your office. You may not need a huge cube to fill your waiting area and decide to go with a few mini play cubes. You may also want to explore the themes that are available with this toy. Anatex offers some exciting under the sea themes as well as a farm animal theme for their play cubes. So, if your waiting room hasn't been keeping kids calm and occupied, now may be a great time to check out the play cube for yourself. It's amazing what a difference one toy can make!

Safe for Kids

Of course, no matter how amazing a toy is, safety must come first. Medical offices and other businesses have to take extra precautions to ensure that each child is in safe hands. With an activity cube from companies like Anatex and Playscapes, you can be sure that no toxic materials will be used in the manufacturing of the toy. Another great feature of activity cubes is that they don't have any loose pieces. This means that even young children can join in on the fun without any worrying parents.

Enhance Coordination and Cooperative Play

No doubt, each one of the games on the cube will be fun, but that doesn't mean it has to be mindless! Each panel features a game or challenge that will help develop basic skills like counting, cooperative play, color recognition, eye-hand coordination, visual tracking, fine & gross motor dexterity, and sensorimotor skills. But while those are great skills to have, the children in your waiting area will be too busy having fun to realize what they're learning. These play cubes are bright, colorful, and so appealing that children can't help but take an interest.

Convenient and Affordable

And if space is an issue in your office, activity cubes are a great way to go. You don't have to waste space with little knick-knacks to keep children occupied. With one busy cube, you can keep five or more kids playing at a time. This can really help avoid "traffic jams" or crowding in the play area. And some of these models can easily be transported from one room to the next. This makes rearranging your waiting room a breeze and saves you the stress of having to move a mountain of toys from one side of the room to another.

Five Steps for More Organized Classroom

Classrooms are like a treasure trove for clutter. Class projects, drawings, supplies, and toys-the things lurking in every corner that are just waiting to cause chaos and disarray to every school room! Don't stress, we'll help you beat the mess!

  • Don't hang on to everything. Yes, some things will need to be filed away for future reference. Those art projects from three terms ago and the piles of dry erase markers that haven't worked since the Clinton administration aren't among them. Once a semester, go through everything (and we mean EVERYTHING) that is taking up extra space in the classroom.

  • File away neatly anything that will be of use to you, and throw out everything else. For things that hold sentimental value like Christmas cards and letters from students, start a scrapbook and separate sections based on school year. This way you have one nice compact space to keep valuable items while still keeping the classroom neat and tidy.

  • Don't let your students hang on to everything either! How often do you make them go through their desks and cubbies? If it's not at least once a week, you can be sure that there are piles of old test papers and forgotten homework balled up somewhere in the back corner. Each week before you all leave for the weekend, have students clean out their personal space. Added bonus: Wait until this day to hand out any papers that need to be signed by parents. That way, they can't use the excuse of "It got lost in my desk".

  • Use the cubby system. Yes, the tried and true cubby method is still the best way of keeping a classroom neat and tidy. One variation: use removable tubs instead of traditional cubby holes. That way students can search for lost items more efficiently, overflow is kept to a minimum, and they add a bit of pizzazz to the classroom if you choose ones with bright colors!

  • Try and get the rest of the school in on the action. Perhaps a monthly "cleanest classroom" contest. Offer the students a a free homework pass for each child or maybe an extra recess at the end of the day. With so many eager students in on it, the whole school will be spotless in no time.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Get Kids Involved in the Kitchen

One great way to get your kids involved in the kitchen is to let them feel involved. Allow them to do simple tasks like opening packages, measuring liquids and dry ingredients and fetching bowls and pots for you. This can give a child a really great sense of involvement by helping you. One great way to get your kids involved is to find out what your kids favorite recipes are. Kids love things like cookies, cakes and desserts obviously so why not let them get in on the fun of baking. One great all time baking classic are Rice Krispies Treats.

This recipe is quick, simple and most of all fun. One great idea is to have a separate batch for you kids to cook with while you do your own. Set out everything they'll need like sugar, butter, oil etc. and let them follow along with you that way when you pull their batch out of the oven they'll be able to see how all their hard work paid off. Seeing what they've baked can be very big reward for the child, not to mention they get to lick the spoon! This idea can work with any of your child's favorite snacks such as chocolate chip cookies, cakes, muffins or cupcakes. This idea is also perfect for the holiday season!

When it comes time to make ginger bread houses and ginger bread men don't forget to let the kids get in on all the holiday cheer. Kids can also be great helpers for the Chanukah feast, whether its matzo balls or latkes kids can be a helping hand with all the festivities.

With eager imaginations and enthusiastic spirits having your children help you in the kitchen can be easier than you think. With the chaos of making sure you get dinner on the table on time, keeping everyone happy and cooking healthy meals it seems like challenge to integrate your child in meal preparations.

Ways of letting your child help in the kitchen is always in perspective of age and abilities. So given your child is capable and ready to help you in the kitchen it can be a great learning experience for them. With some simple tips your little chef will be on their way to culinary brilliance.

Playtime: More Than Just Fun and Games

We all know kids love to play games. Whether it's a board game, riding bikes, or hide and seek, your child probably seems like no work and all play. But what many adults don't realize, is that children aren't only goofing off and having a good time. Imaginative play encourages creativity, mathematical skills, and it helps kids work out everyday problems just like grown ups do.

When you see your daughter playing with dolls, she's learning about human interaction and caring for others. Games like hopscotch encourage counting skills and taking turns. All of these are very important concepts to know in order to thrive as an adult.

Help encourage your child's exploration and pretend play by knowing what to look for in a toy.

A good toy doesn't have to be fancy or expensive. Flashing lights and singing puppies may seem entertaining, but simpler toys like blocks and climbing playground toys can be much more beneficial. When children play with more simply designed items, they use their imaginations more out of necessity and end up actually have MORE fun than with flashier items. A climbing toy isn't just a toy: it's a mountain top, a flying trapeze, and the surface of the moon all in one!

Choose toys that are age appropriate. A toy that is beyond your child's level will not very enjoyable, and even worse, it might be dangerous. Manufacturers usually list age ranges on the packaging. Better yet, choose toys that can grow with your child.

Pick toys that encourage thought provoking play as well as fun. Blocks, shoe tying games, puzzles, and memory games are all entertaining, promote healthy competition for multiple kids to participate in, and they never get outdated.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Kids First Sleepover Survival Guide

Your child's first sleepover away from home is a bid deal. Not only is it something enjoyable for your child and his friends or relatives, but it also asserts a first step in independence. As much fun as your child will have, though, sleeping away from you, his bed, and room can also cause a fair share of anxiety for him...and for you! To help this milestone go more smoothly, follow these simple steps for worry free sleepovers:

Inform the caregiver of any bedtime routines your child is used to. If there will be other kids there they may be so busy playing, your child won't even miss hearing a lullaby or reading a book. A trip to grandma's house however, may require more strictly adhering to the usual routine. This will give your child a sense of familiarity and security, so he may not become quite so homesick.

Plan ahead. If there will be no scheduled activities, movies, or games planned at the sleepover; pack them yourself. If your child stays busy having fun, he won't have time to miss you!

Go have fun yourself. Letting go of your baby is hard and you will undoubtedly second guess letting your child stay away. Is he scared? Is the mattress too lumpy? Did he eat his peas? Quiet your overactive imagination by seeing a movie, having a date with your spouse, reading a book, or taking a long hot bath. If you have other children, take them someplace special like the park or to get ice cream. Anything fun and distracting.

Be prepared to pick up your child. No matter how well prepared you are, it may just be too early for an overnight. It is perfectly normal for a first timer to become scared or home sick, and letting your child know that you are ready to come to the rescue will instill confidence in you for the next go round.

For more comfortable stay always with less fuss, we recommend a cozy soft and plush Slumber Bag , your little one will sleep soundly and so will you.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Wall Toys Keep Kids Busy

Do you have waiting room with a lot of children running around? If so, Wall Toys are a great solution to keep active kids busy. Wall toys take up a small footprint and keep kids congregated into an area away from others while keeping your waiting area buzzing with happiness. Activity wall panels are funs product that will surely keep all the children entertained.

Hands on Wall Toy will provide a finger painting experience for children. Because there is no messy clean-up involved, your staff and parents will love this product. Featuring heat-sensitive film technology, this item can be kept clean with a disinfectant spray cleaner. The durable surface makes this great for all ages!

This great toy will bring smiles to everyone's faces. It will allow children to express themselves like never before. The heat-sensitive surface changes colors when children place their hands on the surface. This requires no markers or crayons, so once again this means absolutely NO mess!

This is great for places like doctors' offices, waiting areas found in car dealerships, museums, and libraries.