Archive for Teaching

How to Plan a Dental Health Unit for Kids

How to Plan a Dental Health Unit for Kids

February is dental health month, but sometimes it’s hard to find a way to teach dental hygiene to young kids. It can seem like a difficult concept to talk about, but I have come up with several ways to make kids realize the importance of their teeth and how to care for them.

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Teaching Kids Where Their Food Comes From

A big draw for getting kids in the garden for me, is showing them where their food comes from. This year, we did a cool experiment with wheat to see how it’s grown and how it becomes bread. Click here to see how to grow it.

When I first began growing food with my kids and I asked them what they wanted to grow, I got answers like spaghetti and hamburgers. Kids today are so far removed from the process of growing and producing food, they have no idea where it comes from. I think that is a dangerous thing for our society.

Producing food is a skill people need for many reasons. It helps you relate to the process and how much work it takes to produce food. It also gives people a skill to use in case our food system fails. This is a very real possibility with our current food system. Another important reason is the food supply is very unhealthy and unsafe. People who can produce their own food can grow healthier food. Growing your own food is an important skill to have.


I make my own flour for my Little Sprouts by buying wheat berries from a local farm and grinding it in a wheat grinder. I have a Nutrimill like this:

I make the kids homemade bread in a bread maker like this:

Make your own food, so you know what’s in it. 

To insure they have the most nutritious food possible. I make pancakes, muffins, cookies, and most of their other bread products here as well. Most of these foods are 100% whole wheat from freshly ground flour. I do use some unbleached organic white flour in their pizza crust, some cookies, and I use it for pie crust and a few other things, but well over half of their bread products are made with flour I grind myself. I use store bought pasta, tortillas, crackers and some cereals. Click here to see my recipe for bread.

Why do I go to all the trouble to make their food from scratch? Our food supply is full of GMOs, pesticides, herbicides, preservatives, and other chemicals. So much that it is literally killing us. Click here to see why I don’t serve my kids store bought bread. Look into it and you will see how important the quality of food you feed your children really is. Click here to see a report about pesticides in our current food supply. Click here to see a report about chemicals added to our current food supply. 

Food looses nutrients quickly.

Freshly ground flour loses 70% of its nutrients within 72 hours of grinding. So the flour we purchase at the store, is rapidly becoming devoid of nutrients. I want my kids to have all the good health they can, so I strive to give them what it takes to do that. One way you can keep your flour nutritious longer is to freeze it immediately when you buy it and keep it in the freezer until you need it.

 

Growing our own wheat.

This year one of our experiments in the garden was to grow our own wheat. We planted some of the local wheat berries I buy for making flour and watched it grow. Wheat needs to be planted in Oklahoma by November 31st according to my cousin who farms wheat, so we made sure we did that. It grew all winter and was ready to harvest in early summer when the heads were golden brown and starting to bend down to the ground. I remember helping farm wheat as a kid, so I knew that part.

kids growing their own wheat. learning where food comes from

kids growing wheat in the gardenkids harvesting wheat

We cut our heads of wheat off with scissors and beat them on the inside of a bucket until the seeds came out. This is called threshing and it was a ton of fun. Then we had to winnow the wheat or clean it of all the hulls and things that were in the seeds. You can do this by laying your wheat out and blowing it or placing it front of a fan. The chaff blows out of the wheat and your berries are left.

wheelbarrow of harvested wheat, teaching kids where bread comes from, growing your own food.farming wheat with kidsgrowing food with kids

We got a few cups of berries from our little patch of wheat. The next thing we did was run them through the wheat grinder and make flour. The kids were fascinated with the texture of the flour. It was a fun sensory experience.

kids growing food, learning where flour comes fromkids winnowing wheat, learning how to grow flour

Making bread from wheat we grew. 

Next we tossed the flour and the other bread ingredients in the bread maker pan and let the bread maker do all the work. When it was done, we punched it down and put it in a bread pan. After the second rise, we baked it and had it as a side dish with meatballs and veggies for lunch. The kids thought it was delicious and ate the whole loaf.

home grown wheat berriesnutrimill with home grown wheatpunching down homemade bread dough, teaching kids where food comes from

homemade bread from flour we ground from home grown wheat

I loved how when we talked about the wheat berries and I asked the kids what we could do with them if we didn’t grind them into flour, they said, we could plant them. They knew they were seeds. I love all the things they are learning in the garden. It’s an amazing place to teach so many things to your kids. Click here to see more benefits of gardening with kids.

I’d love to hear what your kids are learning about the food supply; please comment with anything you are experimenting with.

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Teaching Kids Where Their Food Comes From

Go for the GOLD, Summer Games for Kids

At Little Sprouts we love the Summer Games. There is so much to learn from them. I love using the Olympics to talk about our country, our flag, our national anthem, geography, doing your best, practicing skills, reaching for goals, and working hard for success in life.

You can put on a great Summer Games event for your kids or family without spending a ton of money.

Having fun doesn’t have to be expensive. You can make everything you need with what you have right at home.

First you need to think up some games. We do a mini Olympics here at daycare for every Summer games, so we have done many different games. This year we had rubber band archery, straw javelin, Olympic ring toss, 5-meter dash, downhill sliding, and balance beam competitions. In years past we have done tricycle-athon, weight lifting with wrapping paper tubes with pie pans on the ends, basketball throw, relay races and all manner of other games we created for the event. Use your imagination.


I made number tags for the kid’s backs and pinned them on. I just made up random numbers and printed out a bunch of different ones with the rings on them. The kids thought that was really cool.

I try to think of things we already have the supplies for or things we can make with what we have. Having events for the kids is fun, but it’s not a good idea to eat up all your profits with fancy things. The kids don’t need it and they have just as much fun without it.

Years ago I bought a cd of Whitney Houston’s rendition of the Star Spangled Banner and another cd with Olympic music on it. We have used those cds for each Summer Games event. When the kids arrive in the morning, I greet them with the games theme song you hear on tv between each piece of coverage of the games.

This year, we followed arrival with a Summer Games breakfast of muffins and apple rings. I just cut the apples into rounds and poked the centers out with the apple corer. Easy peasy and fun.

After breakfast, we did a parade of nations or here it was a parade of USA. The kids held small flags and walked in to the games music again. They loved it. I recorded them with my phone and let them watch it and they begged to do it over and over again. I explained how we were representing our country and showed them our town, then our state, then our country on a map. We are a part of something bigger here in Oklahoma.

Summer Olympic games for kids

Next we did an opening ceremony. We have watched snippets of the games on television and we used the music and dancing ribbons to create our own opening ceremony. We have been practicing. This gives the kids good physical activity and they also have lots of fun.

opening olympic ceremony for kids

After the opening ceremony, we headed outside with our Summer Games torch I made from discarded things around the house. I used a paper towel tube, some painter’s tape, a solo cup, and a lid to a sour cream container along with some orange tissue paper from a gift bag. I just cut the tube and then made slits in it so it would attach to the lid, and taped it on with the blue tape. Then I cut an x in the bottom of the lid and the cup and stuffed the tissue paper through to make the flame hold in the torch. Then I trimmed the cup shorter and attached it to the lid with more tape. I put a few staples in for good measure.

homemade olympic torch for summer gameshomemade olympic torch for kids summer games

Not only does making my own torch save me money, but it also keeps those supplies out of the landfill by using them again for something new. We took turns running around the playground and passing the torch off as we each made a lap around the play area. I explained to the kids how the torch is run for each games. This is so cool and they learn more about geography through this exercise.

kids running the olympic torch for summer games

Once the torch has traveled around, we begin the games.

This year, we did some activities outside and some in because it was dreadfully hot. We began with the balance beam exercises outside. Each child got to participate in any way they wanted. They practiced balance on the edging of our play area and they made up their own routines. Next we did the downhill slide where each person performed their desired techniques on the swing set slide.

balance beam event for kids summer gamesdownhill slide event in summer gameskids summer games event

The next event was the 5-meter dash in which all the kids participated at the same time. They are 2-4 years of age, so we don’t have winners and losers. They just love to run and its even more physical activity for them.

We came inside for a big drink of water and finished the games inside. We did the rubber band archery competition and saw how far we could shoot a rubber band. Next we did the straw javelin to see how far we could throw the straw. Lastly, they did a ring toss with Olympic rings. Everyone had a great time.

rubber band archery, kids summer olympic gameskids summer games, straw javelin competitionolympic ring toss for kids

 

I bought gold medals for each of the kids from a trophy company, but you could easily make them yourself with construction paper, ribbon and cheerios for some rings on the front. We had a medal ceremony. I called each child’s name and gave them the medal and then we saluted the flag and sang the National Anthem with Whitney. She knocks it out of the park. The kids love singing our USA song.

olympic gold medals for kids summer games

summer games for kids, olympics

Lastly, we played Olympic music again and used our flags to perform a closing ceremony. It was tons of fun and I was able to post pictures and short videos for parents to see how much fun we had. The parents loved it too. Pictures and videos are another way to get parents involved in your daycare. Click here to see how important parent involvement is in your program.

kids summer games

I had made lunch that morning and put it in the crock pot so I wouldn’t have to worry about a bunch of cooking. We had a nap after the games, and then snack when we got up was more rings to finish our celebration.

Olympic ring snackssummer games ring snacks

I hope you will put on an event to celebrate the Summer Games this year, there is still a week left to show the kids what it’s all about and then make up an activity of your own. It can be as simple or complicated as you’d like, but it teaches them so much. The Olympics are so special and it’s great to see your country being represented in front of the world. USA USA USA!

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Go for the Gold, Summer Games for Kids

 

Summer Party Fun

There are a ton of fun parties you can have with your daycare kids without breaking the bank. I like to keep a summer party as simple as possible to cut down on waste for the environment AND hassle for me. Kids will have just as much fun with a pack of side walk chalk and some homemade popsicles.

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Does Play Matter?

Do you think play matters anymore for kids? Over and over again I hear parents saying they want their kids to learn. They mean flash cards and learning to read. Over and over again I try to stress the importance of free thinking and free play where the child directs the game or activity they are doing. That is the best form of learning.

free creative play

Modern-day school in this country is NOT developmentally appropriate. We start teaching kids to read as early as they enter school when study after study has told us over and over again that children are not developmentally ready to read until age 7 or 8 depending on the child. And the child who cannot keep up? We say they’re behind.


We keep pushing kids faster and faster to do everything earlier and earlier. We take more and more of free play time and anything creative in school and we give them more and more work, more homework, and more testing. We don’t even teach art here in Oklahoma public schools until the 5th grade when children’s creativity is determined by age 8! If no one creates, who will be the architects, the engineers, the artists, and the musicians of our future? We place importance on who can finish first and learn it the earliest, but guess what we are getting instead of smarter kids? Mental illness, depression, anxiety, behavior problems, obesity, and poor physical health as well.

I love watching kids create, build, direct, explore, and really master skills. It’s so satisfying to watch a child learn to care for their own needs and their own environment. At Little Sprouts it’s one of our top priorities to teach kids to be independent so they can have success in school. I want my kids to be able to think for themselves, come up with their own ideas, know right from wrong, build great relationships, stand up for themselves, and take care of their own needs. I want them to succeed.

When my daughter was young, I thought the best thing for her was for me to do everything for her, but in reality, me taking her plate to the sink every night after dinner did NOT teach her to carry and dump her lunch tray at school…she dropped it. Me doing everything for her did NOT teach her to care for her own needs at school…she was frustrated.

The most important school readiness skill for children is social skills. Children need to be able to build and nurture relationships to find success in their school future. Children need to be able to say no and stand up for themselves. Children need to be able to share and be kind to others too.

the power of play

Guess how they learn all of those important things? Through play! Play is children’s work. It’s what they do to act out and figure out life. There are so many things kids can do in a session of self-directed play that will build a successful future for them. Ask Mr. Rogers, he knows what’s up!

We as caregivers need to offer children lots and lots of time to explore and figure things out. We need to guide them with gentle kindness when they get off track. We are here to teach them the way to go. Most of a child’s day should be engaged in activities they choose and direct.

Crafts are fine some of the time, but there is so much more to be learned when children are allowed to CREATE on their own and direct their own talents. I recently downloaded this e-book off of Amazon and I loved all of the fun play activities that could be self-directed by the kids. One of our favorites so far was salt painting. You mix equal parts of salt and boiling water. Stir until the salt dissolves in the water. Then the kids paint with it on dark paper and when it dries, the salt forms small crystals that shimmer in the light. We called it Elsa paint because it looks like ice crystals. (and who’s not into Elsa right now?)

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Click on the book below to check out The Undeniable Power of Play on Amazon. You’ll be glad you downloaded it. It’s chock full of fun activities for the kids to do (and you will enjoy them as well)

Study after study has been released about the importance of free play for learning. We have cut out so much recess, music, and physical education in schools that there is scarcely any time for kids to play at school anymore. We are not teaching anything; we are preparing for tests all of our school hours. It’s a shame. Our kids and our future will suffer for it.

Kids AND adults benefit from free play time during our day. Even as adults if we don’t play it can cause serious behavior and health problems. Click here to see the importance of play for adults and children for health. 

play is powerful

Not only does The Undeniable Power of Play give you tons of fun activities to help kids play, it also has lots of information on the importance of play and the meaning of play. Be sure to check it out.  

The undeniable power of play

Behavior problems are on the rise, health problems are on the rise, we are headed for big trouble. Take the time to make play a priority in your life and your children’s lives. We have to do something before it’s too late.

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Does Play Matter-

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