Little kids hoisted on shoulders, cameras flashing, nervous politicians . . . a crowd of thousands will gather on a frosty Monday, February 2, at Gobbler’s Knob, to make a fuss over a rodent named Punxsutawney Phil — or rather, his shadow. Legend has it if Phil sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather. No shadow? Spring comes early!
If your crowd happens to be preschoolers, celebrate Groundhog Day with these projects sure to nudge little brains out of hibernation.
- Dear Mr. Groundhog
The Groundhog Day Club in Punxsutawney accepts letters and cards from fans and friends. Do your little ones have questions for Phil? Do they know how to prepare an envelope to mail? Check out some of these easy activities for preschoolers and have them send a letter or two to Phil!
- Why shadows change
Shadows fascinate at every age. They are everywhere, always changing and noticed by even the youngest child. But the best thing about shadows may be the joy kids take in discovering they can control them.
One way to kick off this shadowy subject is to go on a treasure hunt. Ask kids to find the tallest, the biggest, the thinnest, etc. Set up your room with a few props, then alter the lighting to help kids see how shadows change. Head outdoors throughout the day so kids can see the effects of changing light.
- Measure your shadow
With this Scholastic project, kids investigate the relationship between a light source, their bodies and their shadows. Bonus: they learn it’s a cinch to measure an inch! Can their shadow be taller than they are?
Plan this activity for a sunny day. All you need are craft sticks to place on the ground to mark the shadow length, measuring tapes and paper to record the measurements. Take several measurements throughout the day. Back in the classroom, we suggest helping kids understand why their shadow changes by rotating a flashlight around an object.
- Put together a pop-up puppet
This easy pop-up craft puts kids in charge of Phil’s appearance at the burrow. Glue a simple Phil onto a craft stick, and he pops out of his paper cup burrow! Then try adding some backlighting, so kids can choose: will Phil cast a shadow or not? After all, that’s the question of the day.
We invite you to bring your kid-friendly Groundhog Day projects out of the shadows and into the light in our Comments area. Here’s hoping for cloudy skies this Groundhog Day!
Teaching to Serve. MLK Day Projects for Little Ones
We’ve all seen how one child’s infectious laughter can fill a room. And a single wailing baby can soon set off an entire nursery. Empathy comes naturally, even to tiny ones. But as preschoolers, kids are ready to step it up and turn empathy into action.
With Martin Luther King Jr. Day, our National Day of Service, at hand, how can you help preschoolers learn the importance of service to others? Here’s a fun craft to help kids think about changing the world — and a tip on getting the conversation started.
It’s never too early to learn the gift of service
Early childhood educators know preschoolers love gifts (no surprise there!).
Try teaching the idea of serving others by asking the little ones about nice things others do for them, and helping them see that doing something nice for someone else is a gift. Maybe Dad’s “gift” is whipping up his special blueberry pancakes for the family every Saturday morning. Or Grandma’s gift is taking each grandchild out for a special one-on-one play date. Or Johnny’s gift is letting Julie play with his toy truck.
Then ask what gift could the child give to Dad? Wash the blueberries? Set the table? Expand the discussion from there to include classmates, neighbors, etc. to help the child spot needs and imagine “gifts” of service to others.
Use portrait-power to empower kids to dream big
Here’s a simple project using your Teddy Bear Portraits Pack O’ Photos or other portraits to help kids visualize how they can make the world a better place by helping others. Ask about their dreams for improving the world and what they might do to help someone they know. If they need a nudge, start with small suggestions like what they could do to help a pet, another child or Mother Earth. When finished, ask each child to share his or her dream and display the projects.
Do you have a favorite project for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day? Share it with us in the comments below! And if you do the portrait project, we’d love to see what your kids are dreaming of.
As Dr. King said, “Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve.” What a great message for every child!
Food Allergies and Your Childcare
Did you grow up on peanut butter as a kid? Our idea of the peanut as a kid-friendly food has changed with the growth of allergies. Peanuts, milk, eggs, wheat (gluten), soya, fish, shellfish, and other nuts to the list of troublesome foods, and you’ve got a lot to watch out for if you’re caring for kids.
If you’re a daycare or preschool professional, you’re already trained in managing food allergies. But at this time of year, when treats appear as if by magic and the excitement of events distracts kids and staff, an extra ounce of prevention may keep everybody safe and smiling.
Here are a few ways to renew your focus on food allergy safety.
Make a list. Go through the file you have for each child with a food allergy. Is the information up to date? When was the last time you checked in with parents on the condition and treatment plan? Do you have all the required medications and have any expired? When did you last sit down and review each child’s files with your staff? Be sure to log this in your file.
Post master lists to help your staff. Now that you’ve checked and updated your information, the next step is to create an updated list of each child with an allergy, the offending foods, and any substitutions. Post the list for easy use by your staff. Your food preparation area is a priority location, but postings in other areas are helpful too. Do this discreetly, mindful of the privacy of each child.
Review symptoms and emergency procedures. Your next staff meeting may be a great opportunity to bring allergy issues to the forefront. Hives, swelling, itching, rash, swelling of the mouth area, difficulty breathing… these are just a few signs of allergic reaction you’ll want to review. Reaction times can vary widely, from nearly instant to hours later. Recognizing the symptoms and treating promptly can be life saving.
When do you take a child to the dentist and what should you say to your toddler before you go? What can they expect to happen on their first visit? We asked an expert to help us with these questions. Below is some advice from Dental Hygienist, Jessica Montgomery.
Children will typically start getting their baby teeth around 6 months of age. Once the teeth begin to erupt (come in) they should be cleaned with a soft wet cloth or a toothbrush. Only NON-fluoridated toothpaste needs to be used until the child is able to spit which is usually close to age 3. A child does not need to be seen by a Dentist unless you see something that looks suspicious to you like a dark spot on the tooth, until they are around the age of 3. Age 3 is a perfect age for your child to begin their dental experience. At this age they now should have all baby teeth present and they are old enough to lay still in the chair and open wide for an examination from the dentist or hygienist.
What to expect on your first check up.
When you call and make your appointment schedule a dental cleaning with the hygienist. By doing this you get your child use to the surroundings and noises of the dental office. Remember the day of, and leading to, the appointment LESS is BEST!! When you talk to your child NEVER say the word hurt! Tell him/her how much fun it’s going to be and how their smile is going to sparkle and the best way to get their attention…there’s usually a prize waiting for them once they are finished. The hygienist will examine the teeth looking for any cavities that may be present and making sure all teeth are erupted which is 20 total baby teeth. Once she checks the teeth she will then polish/brush the teeth and remove any plaque that may be present. Last the dentist will come in and examine the teeth and answer any questions you may be concerned with. Your first visit usually does not contain x rays unless something is suspicious due to the size of their tiny mouth. Getting them comfortable with their new surrounding of the dental office and enjoying getting their teeth cleaned is your main goal on your first visit. So sometimes keeping it simple, short and quick is good thing.
Where Should I take my child?
Pediatric offices usually see children from birth to around 17 or 18 years old. The appearance of a pediatric office is usually going to be fun with bright colors and games which is always appealing to a child. Plus, they are use to working inside tiny mouths and make a habit of explaining what they are doing as they move along. Another benefit of a pediatric office is that the professional staff is more accustomed to dealing with wiggly toddlers! Once the child has out grown the pediatric office they will be referred to a general dentist to take over their care. General dentist typically see children of all ages but starting them around age 3. So either place is great to send your child for their dental check up and cleaning. The link below is a government website that provides a helpful fact sheet on how to locate a dentist for families that do not have dental insurance, meet income requirements and are looking for funding to help with children’s oral care.
National Institute of low cost dentistry.
Have you already taken your toddler to his or her first dental exam? Share your experience with other parents by commenting below and join the conversation.
Be a better role model and influence your kids forever.
When a child sees someone playing the piano, making a pie crust, taking a hike, doing the right thing, telling the truth, doing volunteer work, being gracious, or standing up for herself, this is what forms that child’s opinion of the world. They need good role models. Role models shape your child’s development, and if you are a parent or caregiver, you’re under the little ones’ microscope.
Ask yourself every day, if you are setting a good example for your children? Take a tip from motivational speaker Tony Robbins and simply make a decision to hold a high standard. Hold up a mental yardstick and lean on it, any time you’re tempted to under-perform where it may matter to observing eyes.
We like these tips from child development expert Dr. Robyn Silverman about specific ways to make a positive impact on children. Some top takeaways include these:
Think out loud: Help children learn good decision-making by discussing the pros and cons of a situation. This helps them learn reasoning skills.
Admit mistakes and apologize: This helps children learn that making mistakes is human and not a catastrophe, how to take responsibility, and how to correct a situation. If you make a mistake, role model how to set it right.
Follow through: Nobody is a stellar performer every time, but if you make a commitment to be on time, keep your word, finish what you start, and buckle down when the going gets tough, your kids will see this and pick up on these same habits.
Having a photo booth at any event creates memories that last a lifetime. If you don’t know where to start when it comes to a photo booth theme, no worries! We are going to give you a couple of options to choose from and get your creative juices flowing!
What about a Carnival Theme? Our Pinterest page/Carnival theme will give you some ideas on putting together a Carnival photo booth theme. We also added a few prop suggestions for you below. Feel free to add or replace any of these props/items with some of your own ideas!
- A cheap frame, with no picture in it
- Over sized glasses
- A mustache on a stick
- Big, funny clown nose
- Scarves, boa’s
- Top hat
- Chalkboard – This one is really different and fun! Using a chalkboard for a prop is a great way to create spontaneous fun! You can have your friends and family write on the board, something funny and silly then use that prop in their photograph! They will love this photograph for years to come!
Carnival Backdrop Suggestions: Your local thrift store will have plenty of options to choose from, for example, you can get a polka dot tablecloth to hang as your backdrop, or anything colorful and fun that you can hang up or pin up, will be perfect for a Carnival theme!
How about a Western theme? This classic theme is simple to pull together, because it has so many options! Go to our Pinterest page for some Western theme ideas – Pinterest page/Western theme. We added a few prop suggestions for you below. Again, feel free to add or replace any of these props below with some of your own prop ideas!
- A card board picture frame that has WANTED written on the top, with REWARD $5000 on the bottom. Have your child hold it for their picture. They will love it! See our Pinterest page above for ideas. Again, check our Pinterest page/Western theme out to get a good visual.
- Cowboy/Cowgirl hat
- Bale of hay
- Mustache on a stick
- A blow up guitar
Western Backdrop Ideas:
We have some backdrop ideas for this theme on our Pinterest page/Western! Your backdrop doesn’t have to be something that hangs down. A bale of hay with simple props around it would be a great backdrop! Another idea is to borrow a horse saddle, set the saddle up on the bale of hay and have your kids sit next to it and take photographs. You can also use your outside surroundings, like your own backyard; maybe use the trunk of a big tree as the backdrop.
When it comes to your accessories, you will need some kind of accessory rack or table to put everything on. It will make it easy from your family and friends to choose what props they will want to use!
Photographer: Most importantly, who will be taking the photographs? You have a couple of options: You can let friends and family take turns in photographing each other, allowing everyone to participate, or assign a (non-professional) person to take all the photos. Lastly, you can hire a professional photographer to come and take professional photographs of your friends and family!
Choosing to have a photo booth at your next event creates an atmosphere of fun photographic moments that will last a lifetime! If you decide to have a photo booth event, please post and share your pictures here. We would love to see them.
Kid Friendly, No Carving, Pumpkin Decorating!
It’s that time of year when we take our kids to the pumpkin patch, buy a pumpkin, and start the fall festivities! If your child is too young to carve a pumpkin, we found some great alternatives for you. Check out these kid friendly and perfectly safe activities for your preschooler.
Stickers: Kids love them! Using stickers is a great way for children to express their creativity and participate in decorating their own pumpkin! You can find stickers at your local craft store. Take your preschooler shopping with you; let them pick out their favorite stickers, and you’ll make the experience even more memorable! Encourage creativity and look for silly eyes, funny shaped noses, and goofy looking mouths, maybe even a mustache or a wig to create their pumpkin’s personality! Ask questions and listen to your child’s ideas to help inspire thinking outside the box and pride in “I did it myself”. It will make pumpkin time special for them and for you!
Glitter glue: What a GREAT invention! Glitter glue is found at most craft stores. Begin by tracing the pattern of a face on the pumpkin. Let your child help. Next, let them color the pattern with glitter glue. Encourage them to get creative. Use different colors or unexpected colors for features like purple eyes or green lips. You could even add a couple of stickers to the face — maybe for the ears or jewelry accents? Be a kid yourself and have fun!
Painting faces: Put on an apron, spread out some newspaper, choose your paint colors from the local craft store and get ready for some fun. Start by tracing an outline onto the pumpkin. You don’t have to be an artist, just a partner in the fun. Let your preschooler paint using the pattern for a guide and create an original pumpkin face! Tell a story while you “work” and watch your child’s imagination spark. See our Pinterest page/Pumpkin Painting for some interesting ideas!
Pumpkin stencils: If you are looking for creative help, you can download pumpkin stencils for your preschooler to help them make the coolest looking pumpkin on the block! Craft stores usually carry stencils or you can order them online through the internet. You can even find FREE ones there. We found a few of these sites for you. FREE Stencil download A. FREE Stencil download B. Click here for your pattern stencil: Pumpkin Stencil. You can combine glitter glue and stickers from the ideas above to create different patterns and styles!
Using Cloth: Your preschooler can make some cute masks for their pumpkins. Use stiff felt to cut out a design and then glue it on! Use fabric to create a veil or a headband. It’s so easy! You can check out our Pinterest page/Masked Pumpkin for more decoration ideas.
Home Photo’s: This is really fun! Using your home photographs, have your child cut out the eyes, the nose, and the mouth and use them for decorating their pumpkin. The features don’t have to be people. Perhaps a doggy nose or kitty cat eyes would work. It’s a creative way for your preschooler to express themselves and have a blast using faces of their own family and favorite pets. You can view our Pinterest page/Home Photo Pumpkin Faces for more ideas!
We would love to see your Pumpkin decorating ideas! Please post them for us to see!
If you have more ideas, please share them on our facebook site, or right here on our blog site! We hope our kid friendly, no carving, pumpkin decorating tips have given you plenty of ideas to get started with your fall decorating festivities!
It never fails, it is picture day, you have invested so much time and money (planning and new outfits) into this day and your child spills chocolate milk all over their newly pressed outfit right before you walk out of the door! Picture day can be stressful, whether you are heading to a studio for family portraits or sending your child to school for that classic school picture. Here are a few helpful tips that can help reduce stress and make portrait day a success.
- What colors should I dress my child in?Fancy or casual?
- Fancy or casual, will depend on the type of portrait you have in mind and where you want to display it. Depending on the photographer you may be able to do both!
- Unless you know what the background will be, solid colors work best. Patterns can contrast with the background.
- Try to use colors that compliment your child’s features.
- When siblings are being photographed, dress them in complimentary colors, they don’t have to match, but simply complement each other. Complementary colors are any two colors which are directly opposite each other, such as red and green and red-purple and yellow-green on a color wheel.
- School portraits are normally taken in the morning, this will help ensure that clothes are free of stains and the children are fresh and happy. If their portrait attire is dressier than their normal attire, you may want to pack an extra set of clothing to change into after portraits have been taken.
- Should they dress for the season?
- If you know the background ahead of time, it is ok to dress for the season.But keep in mind, some holiday backgrounds may not include traditional colors and your child’s outfit could clash.
- Should my child wear his/her glasses in her portraits?Or show his/her braces?
- Glasses are a part of your child’s personality, and should be worn for portraits. Although it is perfectly acceptable to ask the photographer to take portraits with and without glasses. Non-reflective glasses are preferred, but experienced photographers know how to avoid glass reflection.
- Braces are beautiful, especially on your child. Trying to hide braces will result in an awkward smile that will not reflect your child’s spirit.
- How should I style my child’s hair?
- Stick with neat and simple. If your child’s hair is straight, and you try to curl it, chances are the curls will fall flat by the time the portrait is made. Use hair products to keep styles intact, but try not to overdo it. You want your child to look natural…like your child, not a “dressed up” version.
- Try to avoid having your child’s hair cut in the week prior to the photography session.
- Should I encourage my child to smile for the camera?
- Too often parents coach their children to “smile” or “say cheese” when there is a camera in front of them. Even though parents have the best intentions, doing this will result in a forced, un-natural smile that really doesn’t show your child’s true personality. The best expression is a genuine one. Photographers that work with children specialize in gaining natural expressions and capturing the true nature of a child. Simply encourage your child to put on their listening ears and have fun.
- What if my child is scared of “picture day”?
- For the child that is a little shy or scared, try packing a “lovey” or favorite blanket to help them feel more secure. It also brings a special personal touch to the portrait.
- If you are stressed or anxious about your child’s performance during picture day, your child will feel it as well and it may add to his/her fear. Try to be upbeat and let your child know how much fun they are going to have playing with the “picture person.”
The best advice is to keep it simple, and your child’s natural beauty will glow, regardless if their hair is a little out of place.
House fire. It’s a scenario so terrifying most of us can’t bear to imagine for more than a second. But for country singer Trace Adkins and his family, it became a reality.
As covered by CNN, in June 2011 Adkin’s three young daughters and nanny were inside their Tennessee home when a garage fire rapidly spread to the attic and enveloped the house. Trace was out of town, while the children’s mother, Rhonda Adkins, was in the neighborhood. A call from a neighbor brought Rhonda racing home, only to see her house in flames.
But she also found her children safely outside, with nanny and dog, at a designated safe spot. As CCN reports, Rhonda said, “They ran to their safe place like we practiced, in the front yard at a big tree,” she said. “And it worked. You know, fire safety is so important, and today we used it.”
Turns out, earlier that year firefighters had made a presentation on fire safety at her daughters’ schools. One tip was to designate a spot outside as the place for the family to assemble in case of fire, and to mark the spot with a yellow ribbon. Rhonda took the tip seriously and tied a yellow ribbon around a tree in the yard. She believes it saved her children’s lives.
Loss of family photos is the one regret
With loved ones safe, Rhonda easily dismissed the loss of her house and its contents—except for one thing-Her photos. As covered by CNN, Rhonda said, “I’m just sitting here sick because those are the things that matter the most.”
Next to life itself, when tragedy strikes, the loss of family photos may be the most-expressed regret. Photography is often our sole connection to an event or generation. For your children, a professional portrait of your child can be a way to re-experience that child’s character at a certain age. That’s why Teddy Bear Portraits offers a lifetime guarantee on all our portraits. We provide you with memories of your child that are guaranteed to last a lifetime. Your portraits will be replaced without charge if any of these should occur: natural disasters, fading, adhering to glass or discoloration. When tragedy strikes, the pain of losing an irreplaceable portrait is just too much.
More and more photo albums are going digital these days. And it doesn’t take a fire to destroy all that data. Disk errors, power surges, or accidentally deleting the wrong folder—not to mention theft or vandalism—can wipe out years of irreplaceable photos. (Then there’s the risk that someday you might run out of room on your hard drive.) Your best defense against all of these catastrophes is a solid backup strategy.
We want to make sure that the visual memories of your children, should a disaster of any sort befall you. More importantly, should you ever be caught in a natural disaster that you and your family will be safe from harm. These lives are more precious than a photograph and certainly, can never be replaced.
Your children can benefit greatly from being exposed to and having pets around the house. Having a pet can teach your child responsibility and compassion in how to show respect for animals. Choosing a pet typically requires a lot of forethought. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing your child’s first pet:
Your child’s age
A good age to have a pet in my mind is around age 10. But, when I think of pets, I think of a dog or cat. If your child is younger than age 6, you might want to start with a smaller pet such as a hamster or gerbil.
Allergies can cause a number of problems for a child or adult in the house. It’s best to spend a little time with your future pet while in the store to see if you or your child might be allergic. Allergic reactions include: redness in the eyes, watery eyes and sneezing to name a few. So, be on the lookout for these reactions.
If your child is of the age that one or two of them are involved in sports, take that into consideration. If you’re running after school to practices and attending sporting events on weekends, a dog might not be a good addition for your family. A cat, however, might be a more feasible option, or a fish! If you or your husband travels frequently, a dog might not be the best option, as the cost of boarding your dog can get costly. In this instance, a fish might be a good addition to your home. Remember that you might be taking care of this animal yourself – at least in the beginning.
What type of care does your pet require?
Research the breed for the type of animal that you are thinking about bringing into your home, making sure that his/her needs can be meet and that you will be able to meet the requirements for your future pet!
Cost is always a consideration when contemplating the addition of a pet into your household. It’s best to sit down with the whole family and go over the cost and even the responsibility of your new family addition, making sure you are all on the same page. Having your child be apart of the conversation, will help them feel more connected to the adoption process and better companion for their new pet. Letting them know they responsibilities of owning a pet will be a lesson they will carry with them for a lifetime. When it comes to the items you need to discuss, a few items that come to mind are vaccinations, food (monthly supply), training (if needed), monthly grooming fees or items, and if you go out of town, what about boarding fees, as well as any additional items such as cages and maybe even a fence for your pet, to keep them safe. All of this can add up, so sit down and really go over the cost of the type of breed you will be getting. Cat, dog or even a fish; each will require a certain type of care.
Once you have considered all of the factors that come with your new little buddy, you should be on the right track for making your child’s first pet a positive addition to your home and your child’s life.by