When cabin fever sets in and you’re running cold on ideas to keep kids busy, try this indoor photo memory scavenger hunt. It gets little bodies and brains moving, as kids find hidden photos and then revisit the memories. Our inspiration for this activity comes from blogger Allison McDonald, at No Time for Flash Cards. Just a little prep time on your part makes an afternoon fun and memorable.
What you’ll need:
- Photos of the kids’ fun experience
- Colored construction paper for photo backing
- Glue and marker or pen
How to make photo cards:
- Select a collection of photos of experiences shared by the kids. These might be highlights from last year, family vacations, or special events at preschool — anything fresh and fun enough to stick in little minds.
- Print the photos on a color copier or a photo printer. If you need to lay out multiple photos on a page for printing, try free online software (such as picmonkey.com) to do the job. The size of the prints is up to you! Cut out each print.
- Cut construction paper as a mat and backing for each print. If you have a range of age groups in the hunt, use a different color for each group, so you can hide each color with age-appropriate difficulty.
- Glue each print to the backing.
- On the back of each mounted print, add some information to jog kids’ memories: a date, a place, or perhaps a question: “Where were you?”
- Hide the photos in locations appropriate for the kids’ ages.
- The hunt is on!
After kids find the photos, ask them to lay out the events in order. One fun option is to tape these to a whiteboard or chalkboard, so kids can add words or arrows to connect the story. Prompt kids to recall the events in the photos and share their memories.
These photo cards also make great material for another rainy-day project, like putting together a storybook.by
We love taking and having photos of our precious kids, whether they’re our own or little ones in our charge. But too often we focus our lens only on their faces, never thinking to include our own. So next time you’re out with the kids and a camera, consider putting yourself in a few
photos. In future years, kids will want to see and recall their experiences with you as much as they’ll want to see themselves. And twenty years from now, you will all be grateful for these memories of happy days you shared together.
#1 Ask someone to take a photo
This is the simplest way to get everybody in the shot. If you’re out and about, simply ask a passerby, “Would you mind taking our picture?” Don’t be shy — most people love to help. If you’re on your own with the kids, maybe an older child can capture the moment. You can help by setting up the shot and showing what you’d like to achieve.
#2 Use a built-in timer
Start the countdown and jump in! You’ll have to set up the shot and prop up your camera on a table or couch.
#3 Consider a remote shutter release
Did you know that standard headphones on newer iPhones double as a remote camera shutter release? Simply open your camera and press the headphone volume + button — click, it’s a remote control. Have a different smartphone? Google to see how to use the volume+ on a wired or bluetooth headphone as a wireless remote. Sometimes you need to download a different camera app. Want to get even fancier? Check out the many inexpensive wireless remote shutter release accessories available for your device.
#4 Invest in a small flexible tripod
With a tripod and your remote shutter release, you have time to set up the shot, get the kids settled into a nice pose, and be ready with a smile when the shutter clicks.
#5 Engage the services of a pro
Professional photography, available at many price points, can become priceless over time. At Teddy Bear Portraits, we capture the smile in your child’s eyes and make it easy for families to share memories of all of their children through the years. Use a professional photographer at least every other year to capture your family at its best.
Find more great ideas on posing and capturing your own family photos here. What does your family do to creatively capture the moment?by
It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and if your refrigerator door or bulletin board isn’t overflowing with red hearts, it soon will be. As preschoolers get busy making cards, the lessons of the holiday come into focus. Being kind to others, saying “I love you,” and making a card for everybody in the class so nobody will feel left out — these are just a few ways for kids to share the happy message. Here are two more ways to add to the fun.
#1 Lunch box jokes
Most kids get the giggles over those tiny messages on candy hearts. Why? Kids love to be surprised and to surprise others, which helps make this Valentine joke activity a winner. (And knock-knock jokes are never better than when you are five years old!) Simply cut out these free printable Valentine’s Day jokes, and slip them into your child’s lunch box. Or let your child surprise their friends at school by tucking jokes into classmates’ Valentine cards or coat pockets.
To stretch out the fun even more, start sending the jokes a few days early or be creative about where you hide them. How about slipping one under a napkin at the dinner table? Inside a hat or shoe?
#2 Make kids the star of Valentine cards with portraits
No Valentine season would be complete without getting into glitter, lace doilies and glue — making cards, of course. For the special people in your child’s life, every card becomes a keeper, especially when it includes a portrait of the child. But rather than putting a photo inside a card, why not have your little one’s face take center stage and feature their portrait in card designs?
Teddy Bear Pack ‘o Portraits are perfect for this project. One way to attach portraits to cards is with non-toxic removable glue dots, making the portrait a truly lasting gift for grandma when the red cardstock begins to fade.
Another option is to let kids add their photo to a favorite card design. For example, we love this darling owl and think a child’s portrait is just the right answer to this question: Hoo loves you? While the features of the child in the portrait will soon change, the message the photo sends will be revisited again and again.by
Does the idea of the New Year — a fresh start — inspire you? Whether you’re a resolution-maker or breaker, something about “Happy New Year” energizes us with fresh resolve. Focus your attention on these two bright ideas to capture your legacy for years to come.
#1 Roundup 2014’s best photos
Do you have a resolution to get your photos in order? You probably have hundreds, if not thousands, of digital photos from 2014. Many precious and hilarious moments of your kids, friends and families (and selfies too). Before the stack gets too high, and while memories are still fresh, take the time to organize and archive.
Digital images may last forever in the cloud, but how will anyone find them? Especially future generations? Make enlargements of the photos that really capture the spirit of 2014. And send out the best 100 (or more) shots to a local photo processor so you’ll have tangible reminders your family can reminisce about for years to come. Photobooks organized by individual or theme are another great option to capture memories in one place.
#2 Connect the generations through photography
Do you have old family photos? Invite grandma, grandpa or other extended family members over to explore the family album with the kids. Do you see a resemblance between generations? Ask the relatives what it was like when they were children; how did they celebrate birthdays and what did they get for presents? Did they have a pet, a best friend? What did great-granddad do to make a living? Take advantage of the Internet to bring places and activities to life through images and videos, perhaps zooming into the old family homestead on Google Earth. Is it still there? What’s changed over the years? And don’t forget to take a picture of the generations gathered together!
We hope you’ve had time to pack away decorations, re-energize from the holidays and turn your focus toward what matters most to you in 2015.
At Teddy Bear Portraits, the opportunity to capture your child’s unique spirit is an honor and a privilege. The New Year renews our commitment to delighting our customers and getting plenty of giggles from every child in front of our cameras.
Wishing you and yours all the best and brightest in 2015!by
It’s never too early to inspire little kids to dream big. If a little dreamer wants to blast off into space or don a red cape to save the world, making a Dream Board (or Vision Board) is a creative way to imagine the future and put one foot forward.
This project is great for an entire classroom or the kid at home on a rainy day.
Even very young kids can visualize what they want to be, what they want to do or where they want to go; older kids can take it further by imagining the steps it takes to reach their goals.
Make a collage using photos, magazine images, drawings or words to represent aspirations. Be sure to offer a large assortment of image sources — old magazines do the trick — and stack the deck with photographic subject matter that opens little minds to big possibilities.
As they craft their Dream Boards, kids can practice spelling, writing, hand-eye coordination and spatial planning. Have the dreamers share their completed boards with each other, and revisit them for renewed inspiration in the months ahead.
We love this twist: it’s a chalkboard on a magnetic surface, perfect for an evergreen family Dream Board that can easily be refreshed with new goals. Simply purchase a magnetic wall board or apply chalkboard film or paint to metal sheeting (you can even use old baking pans!).
Two More to Try: Action and Gratitude
Two variations on this project are the Action Board and the Gratitude Board.
An Action Board maps out the steps it takes to reach a goal. Kids learn to visualize what they need to do to make a goal happen, a skill that will help them for years to come.
A Gratitude Board directs a child’s attention away from things they want, like toys, to the riches they already have: the family who loves them, a lovely park to play in or a full belly. Make it magnetic to keep this happiness-boosting exercise fresh throughout the year.
Whether you’re five years or five decades old, it’s important to take time to focus on what matters most.
What’s your top goal this year? Have you challenged yourself to do something unique? Tell us about your dreams for 2015.
Board games, “the kind that rattle around in a box,” could be key to developing a child’s ability to plan, pay attention and recall short-term information, reports teacher Jessica Lahey. Games give preschoolers a chance to count and sort, remember and read, imagine and tell stories. Add self-control and mental flexibility to the mix, and you’re targeting crucial milestones of the developing preschool mind.
Games for All Ages
When picking out board games for your preschoolers, the best ones involve matching and sorting. Quirkle and S’Match are two favorites from Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child. In addition to bonding and brainpower, family game night is a chance to shape your kids’ social skills, including how to gracefully handle winning and losing.
Looking for more inspiration in between rounds of Go Fish? This review of best games from The Artful Parent includes a dozen great picks for preschoolers, from The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game to Spot It.
For slightly older children, Dr. Bill Hudenko recommends Chess and Swish (ages 8+). For kids 6 and up, try Quarto, Quoridor and Set (try Set Junior for preschoolers!). All of these games continue to challenge your children as they develop and focus more on concentration, planning and reasoning.
A Winning Hand
We know — you wonder how to fit family game night into your packed schedule? One suggestion we love is making family game night do double-duty. Invite other kids and make it a play date or catch up with neighbors and extended family. Just remember, the payoffs are huge:. Families who play games together find it improves their moods and satisfaction with family time.
So turn off the screens, put on some tunes and gather around the table for a fast round of Pictionary or Checkers. Establish traditions, like a family game night, when children are young. Create a lifetime of joyful shared experiences that will continue for generations. Does your family have a tradition of playing games together? Tell us your favorite, and why, in the comments below.by
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.