Posted in Well Rounded Wednesday

The Synergy of Creative Inspiration: Preschoolers and The Glassblower

You know those adorable drawings your children make: pictures of family, houses or that one eyed creature that lives in their imagination.  Most parents hang pictures on the refrigerator and replace them as new drawings are created.  The refrigerator in many ways is the family gallery, a way to show and show-off art creations.  It has also been a way to encourage budding artists to display their talents.

The Museum of Glass (http://www.museumofglass.org/) has taken children’s art preservation a step further.  Children draw pictures at the museum of whatever they imagine.  The glass blowing team selects a piece of art work and then re-creates the image out of glass.  The re-creation is done in the glass blowing theatre so everyone can sit and watch.  The child whose art was selected gets to take home a glass replica of their creation.

There is amazing synergy between child artists and the glass blower.  Children have no boundaries or obstacles, no concept that there could be restrictions to creating a piece.  Their imaginations flow freely.  The artists, grown-up, don’t have the same boundless imaginations however they do have the professional training and amazing artistic skills.

 

In comments from the parents, one mother said the experience awakened a true sense of being an artist in her daughter and she has not stopped creating.  It is beyond the acknowledgement of hanging art on the fridge; it is immortalizing your child’s creation and giving them a sense of great accomplishment.

Since not everyone can get to the Museum of Glass or have their art selected, what can you do?

Here are a few ideas from simple to slightly challenging to immortalize your child’s art:

  • Laminate it!  While simple, it makes it permanent and special to a child.  Select a favorite piece of art; bring it to a Kinko’s or Staples.  For a few dollars they can laminate the piece.
  • Frame it!  Stores like Ikea and Target sell pretty, low cost frames.  Select some favorite pieces of art and frame them.  You child’s room can become their own personal Modern Museum of Art.
  • Take is a step further – bronze it!  Remember bronzed baby shoes?  Have a favorite 3-D creation bronzed.
  • Have an artist re-create it.  If you have an artist in the family or perhaps a great friend, ask them to re-make the art with their own medium.  They should follow the exact design.

 

Early in life, while the whole world and all its opportunities lie ahead, anything and everything can be explored and encouraged.  Art, just like music, writing and even sport can be a means to express, it can be an outlet, and can grow into a lifelong passion.

© 2010  All rights reserved. 

Posted in The Care and Feeding of Your Pre-Schoolers

Three Reasons to Buy Organic for your Preschooler

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a 501c3 organization that advocates on Capitol Hill for health-protective and subsidy-shifting policies.  There two primary goals are:

  • To protect the most vulnerable segments of the human population—children, babies, and infants in the womb—from health problems attributed to a wide array of toxic contaminants.
  • To replace federal policies, including government subsidies that damage the environment and natural resources, with policies that invest in conservation and sustainable development.

 

According to EWG, there are a number of reasons to buy organic for your Preschoolers.  When it comes to the toxicity of pesticides children are especially at risk.  (http://www.foodnews.org/reduce.php)

  •  
    1. “It is now well established that pesticides pose a risk to vital organ systems that continue to grow and mature from conception throughout infancy and childhood. Exposure to pesticides and other toxic chemicals during critical periods of development can have lasting adverse effects both in early development and later in life.”
    2. “The metabolism, physiology, and biochemistry of a fetus, infant or child are fundamentally different from those of adults; a young, organism is often less able to metabolize and inactivate toxic chemicals and can be much more vulnerable to the harmful effects of pesticides.”
    3. “The nervous system, brain, reproductive organs and endocrine (hormone) system can be permanently, if subtly, damaged by exposure to toxic substances in-utero or throughout early childhood that, at the same level, cause no measurable harm to adults. The developing brain and endocrine system are very sensitive, and low doses at a susceptible moment of development can cause more of an effect than high doses. It is especially important to reduce pesticide exposures of babies and young children so as to minimize these risks.”

 

The U.S Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration conducted over 80,000 tests for pesticides on foods between 2000 and 2007.  The EWG put together a list of 47 fruits and vegetables from worst to best in regards to pesticide load.  There is a copy of the list below or it can be accessed here:   http://www.foodnews.org/fulllist.php

RANK FRUIT OR VEGGIE SCORE
1 (worst) Peach 100 (highest pesticide load)
2 Apple 93
3 Sweet Bell Pepper 83
4 Celery 82
5 Nectarine 81
6 Strawberries 80
7 Cherries 73
8 Kale 69
9 Lettuce 67
10 Grapes – Imported 66
11 Carrot 63
12 Pear 63
13 Collard Greens 60
14 Spinach 58
15 Potato 56
16 Green Beans 53
17 Summer Squash 53
18 Pepper 51
19 Cucumber 50
20 Raspberries 46
21 Grapes – Domestic 44
22 Plum 44
23 Orange 44
24 Cauliflower 39
25 Tangerine 37
26 Mushrooms 36
27 Banana 34
28 Winter Squash 34
29 Cantaloupe 33
30 Cranberries 33
31 Honeydew Melon 30
32 Grapefruit 29
33 Sweet Potato 29
34 Tomato 29
35 Broccoli 28
36 Watermelon 26
37 Papaya 20
38 Eggplant 20
39 Cabbage 17
40 Kiwi 13
41 Sweet Peas – Frozen 10
42 Asparagus 10
43 Mango 9
44 Pineapple 7
45 Sweet Corn – Frozen 2
46 Avocado 1
47 (best) Onion 1 (lowest pesticide load)

 

Note: We ranked a total of 47 different fruits and vegetables but grapes are listed twice because we looked at both domestic and imported samples.

Action Steps:  To encourage healthy choices at home, keep delicious fruit, cut and ready to eat in a spot that is first to be seen and easy to reach for your preschooler!

Healthy Food Choices are Easy to Grab and Go!

© 2010  All rights reserved. 
Posted in Ongoing Journey

Tech Update – Kindle Blog Subscription

 Kindle: The #1 Bestselling Product on Amazon

Great News!  You can now support ‘From Hedge Funds to High Chairs’ by subscribing to the blog from your Kindle.  Amazon has listed ‘From Hedge Funds to High Chairs’ on their blog list: http://www.amazon.com/Hedge-Funds-High-Chairs/dp/B0039NM9MM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1267546426&sr=1-1.  Kindle makes it convenient and easy to take all your reading with you on the go.  The monthly subscription for delivery of this blog to your kindle account is $1.99.

Don’t forget you can also keep up with ‘From Hedge Funds to High Chairs’ in the following ways:

Thank you for reading!

© 2010  All rights reserved. 
Posted in The Care and Feeding of Your Pre-Schoolers

People Should be More Like Dogs – Three Important Lessons for Kids from our Four Legged Friends

A friend of mine recently took a 10-day vacation to the Bahamas.  While she was away I watched her adorable Yorkshire Terrier named Darcy.  Every morning and every night (plus a few extra times) Darcy and I went for a walk.  During those times, I realized we humans have a lot to learn from our four-legged friends.   Dogs share the same child-like wonder with their surroundings that preschoolers experience.  Man’s best friend seems to approach the world and the creatures in it with curiosity and love.  Wouldn’t it be great to model and encourage some of these very same traits in our children?  A lifetime of love or hate, prejudice or anti-bias can all be effected by lessons learned in childhood.  Let’s look at how Darcy handled it…

Lesson One – It’s great to get out, stretch and take a walk in the community…every day!

While I was watching Darcy, I took 20+ walks I probably would not have taken.  I am a walker, however the cold and snow has kept me on the treadmill versus pounding the pavement.  Since I had Darcy, I had to walk outside and it was wonderful!  The cold air was invigorating and refreshing.  In the wee hours of the morning in NYC, there is a world of activity from seafood deliveries, to joggers, commuters to green markets.  Everyone seems to be happy before the push of the crowds set in for the day.  Darcy taught me to put aside routine and explore the world!  There is so much to see and so much to do: it’s a shame to not get out and walk everyday!

Lesson Two – Smell the world!

On our walks, Darcy and I didn’t quite hit the 15-minute mile pace of my usual walks.  We walked and stopped, walked and stopped.  Darcy likes to stop and smell the roses and the garbage and sidewalk and the walls…  She likes to look into parks, peak in a shop and check out stray objects.  So many times on walks, people are lost in thought on a familiar route or in a rush to get where they are going.  Children share more of this hyper-awareness and excitement. “What is that?”  “Why is he standing there?” and so on.  This curiosity should be encouraged!  Once again, there is so much to learn from our surroundings and from others.  Take the time to answer questions and curiosities.  Stop and smell the world with your child!

Lesson Three – You should greet everyone that comes across your path, regardless of their color, size or company.

Darcy, the Yorkshire Terrier from New York City is a lover of all!  It doesn’t matter the size, the color or the brand of the leash, Darcy greets dogs that pass by and shares her own dog version of a hand-shake (or sniff.)  She meets so many friends along the way instead of making a judgment about a fellow canine being too young or too old, to nice looking or potentially troublesome.

Parents can easily incorporate some of lesson three (anti-bias) into their own home environments by following some simple strategies from “Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves” by Louise Derman-Sparks & Julie Olsen Edwards.

  • Encourage children to express their emotions and work out conflicts – Read books about feelings, play games making faces to portray emotions and give them words for their feelings.  When there are conflicts, use dolls to role play and solve problems.
  • Never allow personal attributes to be a reason for exclusion or limiting children – An example of this would be a game “just for girls.”  Ask children to think of a role so everyone can play.  Make it clear a person’s identity is never a reason to exclude.  To respect children’s choice of playmates help them learn language like ” This time, we want to play by ourselves.  We will play with you another time.”
  • Help children to try all activities – Encourage all children to play with dolls, blocks, dress-up clothes and vehicle toys although they may have a different style of play.  They will experience a rich range of materials and activities.
  • Use holiday traditions and celebrations – Celebrate holidays throughout the year, in a way that honors and explores diversity.  For example, on International Women’s Day show photos of significant women in the world that have impacted the lives of children.
  • Customize December Holidays – Read books about all the winter holidays including Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza.  Find and display materials that illustrate Santa’s or children from multiple races and discuss traditions.

Preschoolers can learn more about different shades of skin color through in ‘The Colors of Us’ by Karen Katz

The Colors of Us

There is so much to learn from being out in the world and being a part of the community.  Think what a difference we could make in the world if we spent our time focusing on what makes people special versus judging what makes us different.

© 2010  All rights reserved. 
Posted in The Care and Feeding of Your Pre-Schoolers

The Snozzberries taste like Snozzberries -A Real Golden Ticket Contest Willy Wonka Style

I still remember the very first time I saw Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  It was MAGICAL!  I pictured myself as another character in the movie and dreamed of walking into the room where everything was made of candy.  I thought to myself, I would have given the everlasting gobstopper back also.  It is still the only movie, when on tv, I just can’t pass.  I still watch it with the same wonderment and imagine myself in that room. 

Those are the reasons why I nearly fell off my chair yesterday when I learned Willy Wonka (Nestle) is holding a REAL golden ticket contest.  The tickets will be in the new Exceptionals Bar.  The prizes are amazing with the 10 Grand Prize winners getting a trip around the world for themself and 3 friends plus $12,500 in spending money.  While it’s not the Chocolate Factory, the world is an adult version of candy store with so much to offer and so much adventure (and Wangdoodles, and Hornswogglers, and Snozzwangers, and rotten, Vermicious Knids!)

This is a great reminder to share this amazing movie with your kids someday!  It is also a terrific excuse for some family chocolate time!

Call me Veruca…but “I want a golden ticket daddy and I want it Nooooooooooooooooow!”

Happy Hunting!

“There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination. Living there, you’ll be free if you truly wish to be.”

Posted in Children's Literature Series

Read Across America Day – March 2nd

Today, March 2nd, 2010 is Read Across America Day!  According to Education.com more than 45 million people are expected to participate.  Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to make reading fun.  Education.com has provided some great ways to celebrate reading and Dr. Suess’s birthday!  There are reading activities, crafts and ideas for parents here http://www.education.com/seasonal/read-across-america/?cid=90.002

Here are five great ideas from Education.com:

  • Pump Up the Poetry: Want to give poetry a modern bent? Get kids to launch a poetry slam. Especially for older elementary and middle school students, slams toss rhyme off the page and make it come alive.
  • Cozy Up with Books: Invite a bunch of kids to a pajama party and ask them to bring their favorite book. Pop up some popcorn and ignore the usual bedtime. Share stories around the circle, getting each kid to read, or ask their parent to read for them. Give away some flashlights for some under-the-blanket reading once it’s time for lights out.
  • Recruit Local Heroes: Get children to contact their local sports teams, mayor, or other heroes and ask them to come on over for a Read-athon. Seeing people they admire reading helps make it seem cool.
  • Break Some Records: Give your child a copy of the Guinness Book of World Records and challenge him to break a reading record himself! Whether it’s with a group of friends or flying solo, records are made to be broken!
  • Hats Off: Read Across America is celebrated on Dr. Seuss’s birthday because he’s the most read children’s author of all time. Celebrate Seuss in style by reading a selection of his books and creating some stovepipe hats. Hats are easy to make using a coffee can with a paper plate taped on to make the brim. Just cover in paper, paint on some white and red stripes, and kids are good to go! http://www.education.com/magazine/article/America_Hosts_Reading_Party/

There is an adorable Dr. Suess Readers Oath and certificate available to review and encourage your kids http://www.education.com/worksheet/article/readers-oath/

http://www.education.com/worksheet/article/seussation-certificate/

Enjoy the day and READ, READ, READ!

Posted in Must Have Monday

Must Have Mondays – The Art Roll To Go

Not every trip to a restaurant with your preschooler can be perfectly executed.  As much as parents practice ‘please’ and ‘thank yous’ and encourage dinner conversation, children have different needs than adults and certainly different patience levels.  For this reason, many family friendly restaurants provide paper placemats and crayons.  That said, many restaurants do not provide child friendly activities. 

I came across a neat solution to stave off boredom without being too burdensome to parents. 

It is called Art Roll to Go.  The product can be found here:  http://www.thepiggystory.com/artroll.php.  It is a great way to organize a set of drawing tools for your little one in an aesthetically pleasing and kid friendly package.  The roll is crafted from 100% cotton and is an eco-friendly answer to the pencil boxes of our childhood.  Instead of dingy old ziplocs, broken crayons or a rainbow of colors drawn onto the inside of your purse, this compact holder offers a great ‘grab and go’ solution.

They offer some adorable designs including princesses, mermaids, dragons, dogs and more.

                         

With crayons in hand, your little artist can draw until the Lion Special (spaghetti with one meatball, my childhood favorite) is served.  If the restaurant doesn’t have a place mat with activities, grab paper and your art roll and  have your child try a few of these:

  • Draw what he/she saw on the drive or walk to the restaurant
  • Draw what he/she is getting for dinner or dessert
  • See how many little words they can make out of R-E-S-T-A-U-R-A-N-T
  • Draw a placemat and then draw table items into their proper place (ex fork, knife, glass)
  • Make a family portrait (or a portrait of those sitting around the table)
  • Count the people at the table (or tables near by) and write the numbers down.

Parents should evaluate the appropriateness of any product in their own child’s situation.  Please feel free to check the consumer product safety commision (http://www.cpsc.gov/) or with other groups that test the safety of children’s products.

© 2010  All rights reserved. 
Posted in The Care and Feeding of Your Pre-Schoolers

Proper Hydration for your Child

Have you ever wondered how much your child should be drinking on a hot day or after strenuous exercise?  Proper hydration can keep your child in the game while dehydration can lead to serious issues. 

In reading an article on Hometown Health TV ( http://hometownhealthtv.com/main/index.php/may-stories/16-may-09/113-kids-and-sports-drinks) regarding children and sports drinks, I came across some interesting facts and links.  The article discusses the book “Home Team Advantage: The Critical Role of Mothers in Youth Sports”  The author of this book Brooke de Lench is also Founder and Editor in Chief of www.MomsTeam.com.

Hydration Facts from Home Team Advantage:

  • Make sure your child is properly hydrated before and after sports or activities.  Two out of three children are dehydrated before practice even starts.
  • Children do NOT instinctively drink fluids: it is up to you to make sure they get enough.
  • Children can become seriously ill from sharing water bottles.   Some examples of this are flu, mononucleosis or hepatitis.
  • Drinking from contaminated water from a hose or in some cases a school fountain can expose your child to high levels of lead or ground bacteria.
  • The Parent’s Healthy Hydration Guide – http://www.drinkcrayons.com/downloads/CrayonsEBrochure-lores.pdf

Children need to drink 5 to 9 ounces every twenty minutes during exercise depending on their weight.  Brooke suggests giving younger children a water bottle with marks on the side showing how much he/she should drink each time.   Check with your doctor to find the proper hydration statistics for your child’s age and weight.

For more details on this article plus additional health related information check out www.hometownhealthtv.com

© 2010  All rights reserved.

Posted in Well Rounded Wednesday

Well Rounded Wednesday – Five Questions to Assess if your Preschooler is Ready to Ski.

Here we are in the heart of a snow-filled winter season and there I am on top of a ski mountain!  Many parents love getting on to the slopes but question whether their child is ready and where they should start.  I did some research on ski mountains across the country and programs they offer for children.  Here is what I found:

A Sampling of Children’s Ski Schools Across the Country:

In Vermont, Killington the following programs are offered.  First Tracks Program for  children 2-4 combines the Friendly Penguin daycare with on-snow sessions designed to introduce children to skiing or other outdoor activities. For kids 5 – 6 there is Ministars.  It is an innovative program that teaches your children to enjoy the sport of skiing in a safe, fun and educational environment.

In Beaver Creek, Colorado, group ski lessons are available for children ages 3-6.  The service includes: a day of lessons, lift access, and a healthy kid-friendly lunch. The day starts indoors with educational pre-ski activities.

For Parents in the Tri-State area, Shawnee Mountain in Pennsylvania offers a number of programs including: SKIbaby: Intro to Skiing for ages 3 & under, Mommy & Me: Private lesson for 3-year-old child and guardian and SKIwee programs for ages 4 – 6

With just a quick google search I was able to locate all these options.  Ski resorts cater to families and have created exciting ways to teach your children about the joys of skiing! 

So you know where to go, how do you know if your child is ready?  In “Learning to Ski:  Is Your Child Ready?”  Sue Way suggests the following assessment:

1.)  Is he/she comfortable being dropped off in a school or pre-school type environment?

2.)  Does he/she have the strength and endurance to be physically active for up to one hour in the cold and in weather that may be wet and possibly windy and stormy?

3.)  Is he/she physically strong enough to walk around in skis and boots?

4.)  The most important factor to consider is whether your child will have fun.  Children have a lifetime to learn a sport.  If you want them to succeed, it is important that they enjoy themselves.

5.)  Will he/she wear proper clothing without a fight?

* Sue’s questions and more details can be found at http://www.momsteam.com/sports/learning-to-ski-is-your-child-ready#ixzz0fzkoezCp.

If you were able to answer the questions with a resounding YES – bundle up, wear a helmet, keep hydrated and enjoy the slopes!

Action Steps –  Check out local ski establishments for the child friendly classes.

© 2010  All rights reserved.

Posted in The Care and Feeding of Your Pre-Schoolers

Getting your Preschooler to Try New Foods – Free Pancakes Today!

A great way to introduce new foods and new cultures into your family meals is to use all the special ‘Days’ or  ‘Months’ on our National Calendar.  A quick google search provides some great examples.  I found out February is National Potato Month, Fabulous Florida Strawberry Month, North Carolina Sweet Potato Month and National Pancake Day.  http://www.squidoo.com/Food-Holidays 

Use the occasion to make a little celebration! 

  • Read a book to your child about the featured food.
  • Have your child draw the food, where it comes from or how it is prepared
  • Select  a recipe with your child to dine on the honored food!
  • Discuss what it taste like.
IHOP National Pancake Day, February 23, 2010

http://www.ihoppancakeday.com/

To get you started, in celebration of National Pancake Day, IHOP is offering free shortstacks of pancakes today from 7am – 10pm.  They are asking that customers consider a donation to a local children’s hospital through Children’s Miracle Network or other local non-profits.

Bon Appetit!

© 2010  All rights reserved.