There are so many things kids can do that don’t cost a ton of money. I’m super cheap so I love good cheap summer activities. Childcare is not a lucrative business. A lot of them are even free, so why spend a ton on activities when you can make up your own stuff on the cheap and have just as much fun or more. I LOVE a good deal and saving money! I also LOVE a bunch of happy, engaged children. Here are a few things you can do to fill your summer time with your daycare kids, kids of your own, or whoever might be needing entertaining.
Archive for Teaching
Are lesson plans your biggest fear or biggest heart ache? Do you love working with kids but choke at the idea of deciding what to do with them? A little pre planning will make your life so much easier and it’s not as hard as you think.
At Little Sprouts, I make a basic plan for my lessons for the entire school year. This helps me stay on track and stay organized throughout the year. If I do a month or a week at a time, I tend to lose focus and fall off the wagon many times throughout the year. This plan is not best for everyone, some people get too overwhelmed with thinking of planning a year at a time, but it’s not the detailed plans, just a lose outline of what you’ll work on.
My number one quote is and has always been, if you don’t keep the kids busy, THEY will keep YOU busy. This is not a pleasant thing. Have things planned to do with them!
The first thing you need to do to get started is find something to plan on. I use free printable online calendars, but you can use a spreadsheet or whatever works for you. I’m a pen and paper girl. I like it that way. I print out a calendar for each month from August to May. I check the public school calendars and choose a date I want to start and end my preschool season.
Next you need to make a list of all the things you’d like to cover. At Little Sprouts, we use one day for letters, numbers, colors, shapes, working on our names and that sort of thing. We use one day for creative, open ended art and jamming tunes with instruments and dancing. We use one day for science projects, and we use one day for math activities or crafts. We don’t do many crafts, but we do a few, so most weeks, this day is for math. We have fun Fridays where we have a lot of extra free play and sitting around reading, laughing and talking. We get to do this most days, but on Fridays, we do it more.
Take home papers
I do a lot of activities that involve taking something home because parents like to see and be involved in what their kids are learning. If they don’t see anything coming home, they will naturally assume learning is not taking place. So I try to keep parent involvement in mind when planning what we are doing. We don’t take home a paper every day, but a lot of times we do.
Planning dates for lessons
Now that you have your basic blueprint of what you want to cover and something to record your ideas on, go through the calendar and mark off any days you are closed for holidays or vacations. If you have school kids, you can mark the days school is out so you can plan something that is more appropriate for the older kids as well as the younger ones.
This is the first year in 20 years I have not had any school agers after school and on breaks and I am AMAZED at how much easier lesson planning has been. I am glad I made the decision not to keep school agers anymore, because as I get older, it gets harder and harder to be everything to everyone. Two years ago I stopped taking infants and children under the age of 2. It has helped me so much not to get burned out.
I love babies, but I just want babies only, preschoolers only, or big kids only. Not all three. It’s too hard and requires SO much equipment and supplies to cover all of those age groups. I find ages 2-4 the absolute most fun, so that’s what I’ve decided to focus on from now on. Preschool is for me.
Back to the lesson plans. We have the days set we need and what we want to cover each week, so now we have to set a routine for the day. Routines cannot work out 100% of the time, but if you have a structure in place it will make your whole day go more smoothly. Start with meal times and nap.
At Little Sprouts, we have breakfast at 8:30, lunch at 11:30, and snack at 3:00. We used to have a 4:00 snack for after school, but we don’t need that any more. Our nap is from about 12:45 to about 2:45 most days. Of course it just depends on what happens if that is totally accurate. If you’ve done daycare for any length of time, you already know that.
I open at 7:00 and close at 5:00. It takes me around 30 minutes to make breakfast and lunch. Snack just takes a few. So from 7:00 to 8:30 when we eat breakfast, we have free time. Before I have to start cooking, I mostly answer the door to let people in and sit and snuggle on the couch with the kids.
I’m a morning person but not everyone is and some kids need some extra time to wake up. They can play in the playroom or the living room or hang out with me and just be still if they want. I get up at 8 and start breakfast and they can still play or chill.
We get finished with breakfast around 9 most days. In the summer time we go outside right after breakfast so we can avoid as much heat as possible and still get outside. My temperature range for outdoor play is the same as the public schools, 40-90. If it’s 39 we stay in, if it’s 91 we stay in. Sometimes it’s 91 by 10:00 or even earlier, so to get as much time outside as we can, we go out as soon as we can.
If it’s winter time, we wait until around 10:00 to go outside so it has time to warm up a little. In the winter, we have activity time inside at 9 and in the summer we have outside time at 9. If it’s a rainy day, we just have free time inside instead. Kids love being outside and it’s so good for them, we do as much out there as we can.
If it’s garden picking day (click here to read about our garden activities) we go pick vegetables first and then have free time in the play area. Sometimes the kids just want to play in the garden and they can do that too. Sometimes we have other activities in the garden as well. It’s a great classroom for us.
At 10 we come inside, wash our hands, get a drink, and have activity time from 10-11. At 11, I let the star of the day (a different child gets to be the star each day and gets to choose certain things throughout the day, sit in a special chair, be in charge of the water in the bathroom, and say a blessing over our meals) chose a movie from my VHS collection to watch while I make lunch. It helps them start to wind down, keeps the mishaps down and helps me focus more on what I’m cooking for them.
I don’t let them watch TV because I think commercials are horrid for children. Images being blasted at them for more more more are just gross. If they ever watch TV here, it’s OETA public television, no commercials.
Anyway, back to lunch making. Lunch is at 11:30 and we finish eating and cleaning up around 12-12:15 each day. Everyone goes potty, washes up and gets ready for bed. We all snuggle together on the couch and have story time and sing songs and finger plays. After story time, the kids get on their mats, I get each of them a stuffed animal to snuggle, I give them a hug and a kiss and tuck them in and they go to sleep.
I usually have to wake them up for snack and then we got potty again, put our beds away, get our shoes on and get our stuff together and they start going home. Kids trickle out for the next two hours so we have free play in the living room until they leave so we can watch for parents. We can do puzzles at the table, draw or whatever the kids want to do.
So now we have an hour a day, four days a week to do special activities. You can see that we already have covered a lot of stuff in our daily routine. There are so many teachable moments during free time where we can talk about colors or count or talk about our names.
We have a check in and out system that has a foot for each child that they “clock in” with. They take their foot from the bye bye spot to a slot that shows they are present for the day, at the end of the day they put it back in the bye bye spot. It has their name on it and helps them get familiar with their name.
Now we need to make a list of all the things you want to teach the kids or set up for them to do. If you have core curriculum requirements, list them now. I am a big advocate of school readiness so I like to focus on a lot of skills that will help them find success at school. Fine and gross motor skill building, self-help skills, pre-reading skills and things like that are my focus.
Work on ABC’s
Spelling their name
Writing their name
Saying their phone number
Learning their parents’ names
Playing with Magnets
This is just a short list of examples. Make a list that goes along with your goals for teaching your kids.
Next we can think of some themes we want to use. For instance, you could do apples in September, pumpkins in October, and butterflies in May, whatever you think your kids will be interested in and is current for the time of year it is. Write those themes on each page of your calendar or spreadsheet. This gives you a basic outline of what you’re doing.
At Little Sprouts, we do each theme for two weeks. If the kids are bored with it, we scrap it and move on. If they come up with something they are interested in, we do that instead of what I have planned. The outline just gives us something to keep us moving forward.
Now take your sheet and write one of the areas you want to teach above each day of the week. At Little Sprouts we have “learning time” on Mondays, crafts or math on Tuesdays, music and free art on Wednesdays, and science on Thursdays.
Now I can go to my list of things I want to teach and plug them into each day on my calendar. For pumpkins I can have the kids mix red and yellow playdough or paint to make orange, I could cut open a pumpkin for them and let them gut it and cook the seeds, or cook the flesh and make a pie, or make paint or ink stamps with the flesh and let them do art.
I can plan it out and then the kid’s interests can take it in any direction we want it to go. The kids might want to play with magnets every day for a week and not do anything with a pumpkin. That’s okay, they are learning. And I promise they will learn a whole lot more from something they are interested in than something you want them to be interested in.
Plug in something for each day on your sheet until it’s full. The internet is a wonderful resource for spaces that you have that might be blank. There are hundreds of preschool websites to help you come up with activates. Please make sure all of your activities are not cookie cutter, closed ended craft projects.
Kids need to learn how to create, not just follow directions. Following directions is important as well, they do have to go to school when they leave you and they do need some skills to help them find success when they get there, but most of your time should be spent letting kids explore their own interests.
You can keep your list of activities and use them from year to year. Spending a few hours in the summer planning out your year’s activities will help you so much. You can make a shopping list for any supplies you need and put it on the back of each page of your calendar so you will have everything you need when the time comes. You can also print out any sheets you may need and have those ready as well. Being prepared is the number one best way to find success in your day!
Do you have any great secrets for planning your school year right?
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Water sprinkler parties are one of our favorite things at Little Sprouts! During the summer at Little Sprouts, our days are different than during the school year. We do preschool lessons daily when school is in session, but in the summer, we have a variety of different types of experiences. We spend a lot more time outside and a lot more time in the garden. We do crazy fun weeks like sports week or pajama theme weeks. And we have regular special events.
Last week our special event was a water party. Kids LOVE the water and they love to play in it, but in Oklahoma we are prevented by DHS regulations from having any type of wading pools. So we pull out the sprinkler and set it up on the slide to make our own water slide, we get out the water squirting toys, and we fill up the water table. I spend a few minutes before the kids come, putting some water in some buckets for them to pour, scoop, and splash. I also set up bubbles and bubble blowers for their enjoyment.
I have the parents send the kids to daycare dressed and ready to get in the water and send dry clothes to change into. That gives us almost an extra hour to play outside that I would be changing everyone into their swimming suits. Then when we come in, I help them get their wet clothes off, dry off, and get their dry clothes on before I begin preparing lunch.
You don’t have to spend a ton for the kids to have fun in the sprinkler.
Each water party is a little bit different, but this time, this is what we did:
We had buckets of water the kids could pour and scoop, including a water wheels toy they could make spin. We had bubbles and all kinds of bubble blowers.
We had the sprinkler set up for running through which made a fun mud puddle to splash in under the swing set. The kids could slide and swing in the water if they wanted to.
Kids absolutely LOVE getting wet and splashing their friends. They love making mud puddles and splashing around in them, and they love planning for special days. You don’t have to go a lot of expense or trouble for kids to have a blast on special days. The only thing it requires is for you to be excited. Kids that I keep of any age have always loved water play days, from babies even up to 12 years old. Who doesn’t like to play in the sprinkler? I know I still do. Do you remember splashing around in the sprinkler as a kid? It’s pure delight, like dancing in the rain. We could all use a little more dancing in our lives!
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It’s hard to get your families together to get to know each other at daycare. It also can be hard to plan a fun Easter celebration for your family that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg or work you to death preparing.
At Little Sprouts we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus with a big Easter blow out. Parties are a great way to get families involved in the daycare. I ask a parent to tell the Easter story, we hunt prize filled eggs, and then enjoy lunch together. I make a main dish and each family brings a dish to go with it. Doing a potluck party lets other people get involved in the cooking and makes it much easier for me.
This year we had different lunch meats and cheeses with loaves of sliced homemade bread and cheese dip and tortilla chips. Families brought avocado, black bean and corn dip, and desserts. Only three families were able to come, but we still had a great time, and the kids who attended made a huge haul on eggs!
Each year at Little Sprouts, we have an Easter Resurrection party, a Gingerbread decorating party (click here to check it out), and a Garden open house (click here to check it out) for the families. Parents and siblings are invited to join us for family fun. We also have a Mom’s night out for Moms only (click here to check it out). Parent involvement is of paramount importance. When families are invited to be a part of the child’s education, they gain so much. Seeing kids interact with their friends, seeing you interact with their children, and spending time at the facility are all great ways for parents to get more information about what goes on in their children’s daily experiences. And kids LOVE when Mom and Dad come to see their school!
Preparation for the party was a cinch this year. I made a few loaves of homemade bread and sliced them up and put them in the freezer, then I visited the deli for lunch meats and cheeses and dumped together some queso in the crockpot and made iced tea the morning of the party. Then we head out to “hide” the eggs before people come. Any time you put out homemade bread, it’s a winner.
A month or so before the party, I start stuffing Easter eggs. I fill some with candy, some with toys and some with dollars. I did about 700 eggs total because I like the kids to get a lot of eggs. I didn’t realize they would get THAT many eggs this year, but I’m still glad I did it. I usually put about 20 one dollar bills in the eggs, two 5 dollar bills and a grand prize of a 10 dollar bill in one egg. I don’t put the prizes in the gold eggs so no one knows where they are. I’m sneaky like that! The toys I did this year were little fuzzy chicks and bunnies made of pom poms. The kids always love those. I also had a couple of big eggs I put match box cars in. Everyone got a lot of good stuff. I love watching the families open the eggs and see what’s inside.
After they empty their eggs, they dump them in a big plastic tote so I can reuse them the following year. I don’t care if they take some or all of them, but most parents appreciate not taking them home and having them all over the house with all the other eggs the kids hunted at church and home. When I was the children’s Pastor at our church, I recycled the eggs there too and no one seemed to mind. I hate the thought of throwing all that plastic in the landfill and then wasting my money to buy more the next year. I just say keep them if you want them but if you don’t want them, I will take them. Then people do what they want.
Another thing we do to save waste is use real plates to eat on. I have plenty of paper plates, but why use them when it just takes a minute to wash a few plates? I don’t have a lot of silverware or glasses so we have to use some plastic, but I keep it as minimal as possible whenever I can. Our dishwasher broke the night before the party this year, and it still just took a few minutes to wash up the plates we used at the party. Just because you throw a party doesn’t mean you have to throw all of your eco-friendly habits out the window. My families thought it was odd at first to see real plates, but they are used to it now. No big deal.
When everyone arrives, the kids gather around the story teller. I usually offer resurrection eggs to the person telling the story and most of the time they use them. They are a dozen plastic eggs each filled with a little part of the Easter story such as a rock, a cup, silver coins, or whatever. The reader tells the story as the kids open the eggs to show the part of the story and it illustrates what happened during the crucifixion and resurrection. I think it’s a great hands on way of sharing the story with the kids that helps them remember what Jesus went through. Our story teller did a great job this year. Of course you don’t have to include the story, but I’m not about the bunny, I’m about my Savior, so for me, there’s no reason to have an Easter party without the story.
Then we head out to the hunt. This year our regular hunting area was very muddy, so we used our expansion garden (click here to see what the expansion garden is) to “hide” the eggs. It was a dry and is enclosed with a fence so the kid knew where to hunt. The raised beds made it kind of like an Easter maze so that was cool. With the mass of eggs per person we did have a few small complaints about aching backs and such, but who would have known it would be so strenuous to find all the eggs.
Next we head to the back yard to check out our spoils and then it’s time for lunch! It’s a super fun day for everyone and I keep the fuss to a minimum to make it fun for me as well. I want to have a laid back day full of joy instead of anyone killing themselves to make sure everything is perfect. After everyone leaves we clean up the mess and it’s all over. It’s such a fun way to help families connect and to spend time with parents. I can’t think of anything better.
How do you celebrate Easter with your special people?
Success in childcare can be elusive sometimes. Providing the absolute best quality you possibly can is very important. But letting your parents know what you are doing and that you are doing your very best is just as important. If you want to sit on the couch all day and let the parents hand you money for ignoring their kids, you are not going to find success.
Other providers ask me how I am full and have a waiting list when they can’t find kids. Parents need to know you care about their kids. If you go above and beyond doing the absolute best for their kids, people will tell their friends and you will not have trouble finding new families to provide care for.
Find what you LOVE doing. For me, preschool is the absolute most fun, so I concentrate on being as awesome as I can be with preschoolers. And recently I stopped keeping babies at all. I love babies, but I was always frustrated trying to do a project with the kids and needing to stop and hold a baby or feed or change a baby. I just realized I am better with preschool age. Some people want to cuddle and snuggle babies all day. That’s great, they should care for babies. Some people are good at all ages. No longer taking infants was the right choice for me. If you just don’t have fun working with kids, you should find something else to do. The kids deserve your best.
Once you find your niche, try to be your best every day. Some days my best totally sucks. Some days I’m a rock star. I let it go when I don’t have my best day, and try harder the next day. Everyone has bad days and that doesn’t change because you are doing child care.
How do you get your parents involved in your daycare? Some people just aren’t going to be. I have had some parents I could not get to even send a can of corn to make stone soup as a group project. On stone soup day, the child was like, what did I bring? When I saw her sad little face, I handed her a can of my corn and said, you brought THIS! Her face lit up. So you can get around parents who don’t want to participate however you can. If they won’t, just let it go.
Most parents get really excited when you want to do your best for their kids. Get them as involved as you can. I throw two big parties during the year, an Easter Party, and a gingerbread decorating party. When my parents get together on a Saturday or an evening, it gives them a chance to see how their kids interact with each other, and to meet other parents and see what’s going on with their kids. Parents need that.
My parents love these get togethers and look forward to them all year. For the Easter party, I just stuff and hide the eggs, invite everyone and have them bring a dish for a pot luck lunch. We have an Easter story, then we hunt eggs and eat lunch.
For the gingerbread party, I build a gingerbread creation of some sort and make frosting to glue the candy on with. The parents bring candy to decorate with and we usually order pizza and they each bring money for that. It’s A LOT of fun to give parents an opportunity to create something with their kids. We donate the creation to a child advocacy center in town so the kids in transition there can see something fun.
Another event I do each year is a mom’s night out. It’s for moms only, no dads and no kids. We wear our pajamas, I provide something to eat, and we play games, make a craft and then pamper our hands. I have a waxer and I let them do a satin hands treatment and then wax their hands before they go home. I also make a picture collage from the past year of their kids and write each child a letter that I put on the back of their collage. I give it to the moms as a gift. There is no faster way to a mom’s heart than caring for her AND her child.
I always have a theme for each mom’s night like one year we did Grease. We met at an old fashioned diner for dinner, then came to my house where I had the movie playing quietly during game and craft time. Another time I did a garden theme. The moms planted flowers in a pot, made stepping stones, and exchanged garden gifts they brought it a gift exchange game. They are really fun for me as well and I get to know the moms better.
There are so many different things you can do, but the important part is to do something to engage your parents in the program. If they aren’t interested, that is fine, but give them the chance to send snacks for the valentine party or supplies for a project, or let them come together to meet other families. It’s an important part of them feeling comfortable with your child care.
If you were a parent who had to leave your child to go to work, wouldn’t you want to KNOW that they were being well taken care of so you could focus on your job? I know when I had Kayla in childcare, I appreciated that so much!
A big part of success and getting parents involved is being approachable. Make sure you are available to your parents for their questions and concerns. Listen carefully to them when they are expressing their needs to you. They are trusting you with the most important thing in their life.
Give them your full attention. They may be asking for something you cannot do. Don’t be dishonest and say you will do it if you won’t. And don’t promise to do things that are going to make you miserable. It’s your business and you need to be in charge of it. And remember it’s a business, not a friendship. Even if you are friends with some of your parents, you still need be professional.
Try to think of a few simple things to get your parents involved in your daycare. You will be amazed at how it helps your business grow!
At Little Sprouts, we have a mom’s night out every year. It’s one night when no one is allowed but moms and we have fun doing things for moms. I let the moms be creative, feed them good food, and pamper them. Why would I go to all that trouble? Because mom’s need support. I feel that being a mom is the hardest job in the world and I want to show my moms how special they are and how valuable they are. I know this world is a hard place and so many demands are placed on parents. Moms have a special place in my heart because I am a woman and have felt the assault on women in this world. I also know how it can feel like being a mother is full of failure and disappointment. No one is ever going to do everything right and motherhood is about learning and following God’s plan for families. I try to be as supportive as possible to my moms and help them with their job of running the family in this busy and scary world.
It’s important to spend time building relationships with your parents and not just the kids, the parents are as big a part of this job as the kids are. Being open and caring with your parents is very important. At Little Sprouts we have family parties for families to get to spend time with the kids and get to know each other. I feel that it’s a vital part of the children’s education. Parents need to be involved and know who you are and what you are about. In addition to mom’s night out, we have a gingerbread decorating party every year, click here to see what we did last year, and Easter egg hunt each year for families to come and get together and spend time doing something quality with their kids.
The first thing I do to plan the mom’s night is choose a theme. This year I chose disco because I had a mom dress up as a hippy for Halloween. It was so cute. And I already had a hippie costume, so I knew I could wear that if I wanted. I started to think it over and realized I already had disco fever music cds in my collection of music for the kids, and I already had disco balls from previous parties and activities with the kids at church. I’m a hippie at heart, so I knew this was going to be fun for me. Even though only a few of my moms were alive in the 70’s and they were born right at the end, I knew I could bring enough 70’s to the group to make it work. I decided on fondue for the party food, and borrowed my daughter’s lava lamp to add the final touch. Then I had to find an outlet for creativity. We always make a craft at mom’s night because I think creating is a great way to build people up. Something that happens inside when you create is life changing and if we go too long without creating things, we start to shrivel up inside. When I thought of tye dye, I knew it was perfect!
At the end of the party, I always pamper the moms by doing Mary Kay Satin hands treatment on whoever wants to and then letting them wax their hands in my paraffin waxer and sit and relax. Then I give them some small token gift and a letter from me to their children telling them how much I love them. The letter has a collage of the past year on the back to show many things the child has learned. I start writing my letters in January and usually have mom’s night in February, so it gives me plenty of time to get them done and add the photos on the back.
I just want my moms to know I appreciate them and how hard they work to be good moms. And I want them to know how special they are to this world. I want to build them up and renew their sense of adventure and confidence for this thing we call life.
I do all the cooking for this event because I do it on Friday night and no one has time to cook anything up. I have the moms bring something for the craft, such as this time the t-shirt we tye dyed, but I never tell them ahead what we are doing or making. Surprise is a fun adventure.
Here are a few themes I have used in past years:
Garden party-we planted seeds and exchanged garden gifts. We also decorated a pot for the plants.
Upcycling party-I made door prizes from recycled items such as cork boards and record serving trays and made all the décor from recycled items. I taught facts about waste. We didn’t’ eat any recycled food though. But we did make some bottle cap lockets.
Spa Party-we made bath salts and did all kinds of pampering things. For dinner we had spa food and spa water.
Olympics Party-we competed in Olympic games and had foods from around the world, we made wreaths in honor of the Olympic rings!
Luau Party-we made decorated flip flops and ate Hawaiian food.
Grease Party-we ate at an old fashioned hamburger shop and then came to my house and watched the movie.
Even if you don’t do a big party or a Mom’s Night Out on your time off, think of some ways you can get your parents involved in your daycare. You will be amazed at how much it improves your business and your reputation. Parents appreciate feeling like they are part of their children’s life in any way and daycare is a big part of that life.
Here are a few ideas of how:
- Ask parents to bring donations of things you use a lot of like crayons or tissues.
- Invite parents for lunch on Thanksgiving or ask them to send side dishes to go with your turkey.
- Ask parents to send treats to share for your Valentine party instead of making it all yourself. You would be surprised at how much some of them enjoy making goodies for the kids and if they don’t, most people don’t mind grabbing some cookies or bananas at the store to send.
- Invite parents to come to your Halloween party and enjoy watching their kids.
- Ask parents to share a tradition or favorite family food with you so you can incorporate your child’s culture at home into the daycare setting.
- Share pictures or stories with the parents of things their kids are doing.
- Ask parents to collect recyclables like milk jugs or toilet paper rolls for a project you want to do with the kids.
- Send home a project for parents to do with kids at home and return to daycare.
- Ask a parent or grandparent to come to daycare and read stories to the kids or tell about their jobs.
Have fun with it, let them play, enjoy their company. Your parents are your biggest asset, not your enemy, they can make or break your business. Show them what you have, all of your skills and talents. They will appreciate you for it and it will help your business find great success.
At last night’s Disco Fever Mom’s Night Out we had a ton of fun. When the moms came in I had my tye dye shirt on and my crocheted headband like I always made and wore as a kid in the 70’s. I had the house dark and the disco balls turning and my favorite disco fever tunes playing. I had made some 70’s fondue with dippers and some pigs in a blanket for them to eat. I invited them to soak the t-shirts they brought in the presoaking stuff to make the dye set and we ate dinner. No one wanted to sing YMCA with me, but we had lots of giggles and laughs. Everyone told funny stories and some moms asked questions about their kids and what they’ve been doing here. After we ate we started working on our shirts. Everyone seemed to enjoy making them and they all turned out amazing! Then we wrapped them up to take home. You have to let the dye set for 8 hours, so in the morning, they had to rinse them out and then wash them. Then they sent pictures of the finished product. I did a drawing for a couple of door prizes. We had been playing the swear jar game all night. When each mom came in I gave her 4 quarters and every time they said their children’s names, they had to put a quarter in. Whoever had the most quarters at the end of the night took the jar home. Some moms are really competitive which makes it super fun. After the drawing, we pampered our hands and relaxed for a bit and then I gave them their letters and collages and a candy bar to take home. The evening ended with lots of hugs, some tears and sweet dreams. One of my favorite things all year.
Here’s how the shirts turned out. Grooovy!
October is fire safety month so it’s a good time to think about ways to teach children to keep themselves safe. The kids I keep are ages 2-6. It’s never too early to learn how to take care of yourself.
- In childcare in Oklahoma, we are required by DHS licensing regulations to perform fire drills, tornado drills, and smoke and carbon monoxide detector checks monthly. We do our safety drills near the first part of the month. I test the smoke detector while the kids are here so they can be familiar with the loud sound and know what it means.
In addition to fire drills, I teach my Little Sprouts Stop, Drop, and Roll, and Get out, Stay out, and Don’t go Back in! We practice being on fire and how to put the fire out and we practice where to go in a fire or tornado. I also show them where they could go if something ever happened to Ms. Christina. I have an older neighbor that stays home, and she is our safe house. She has a dog named Patty Cake so we call her Patty Cake’s mom. All the kids know her and we talk about her being a safe place when we take walks down the street.
- We do tornado drills monthly as well. We practice meeting in the interior bathroom and talk about getting in the bathtub with our pillow on our head if there really was a tornado. Even if I didn’t run a home daycare, I think drills are important to do with your own kids and grandkids too. It takes some of the fear away in a real incident, if they know what to do.
- It is important to teach and remind children some things should not be played with. Lighters, matches, electrical outlets, and the stove, among other things should be left alone. It’s good to give reminders of this periodically to help kids remember.
- One of the most important things I do with my children is teach them their full name, phone number, and their parent’s names. You might think this is silly, but it has paid off big for me. Children should know this information in the event they ever get lost. If your child should end up in a situation like this, a helper could help them find you if they know your name and phone number. I try to teach all my kids their phone number and know their parents first and last names.
One of my daycare kids, two years old at the time, went on a field trip to the zoo with his uncle and was left there. The zoo is about an hour from the town we live in. I always tell the kids if they ever get lost from their parents, they should find a helper wearing a uniform. If they cannot find one, they should tell a mom with little kids. Moms are usually safe helpers. The boy was at the penguin exhibit and could not find his uncle. He couldn’t find someone in a uniform so he found a mom with a baby in a stroller. He told her, I am lost and I need help. She took him to the security office and they contacted his parents because he knew his dad’s first and last name and his mom’s cell number. I can’t imagine what could have happened if he didn’t. The uncle went home and never realized he was missing but the parent were able to go to the town where he was and pick him up. I was so grateful I taught him that, and so were his parents.
I had another child get separated from her parents at an amusement park. She found a security guard and told him her mom’s name. She was three. He announced the mom’s name on the loudspeaker and they were able to be reunited. She was grateful for the lessons as well.
- In the past, when I have taken the kids on field trips, I have always put one of my business cards in their pocket with my contact information, just in case. Parents could easily do this as well. You can never be too careful.
- Something I ALWAYS did with my own daughter, and practice with my daycare kids, is tell them we NEVER EVER keep secrets from mom and dad. We can make surprises for them, but NOONE SHOULD EVER tell a child they have to keep something a secret from their mom or dad. Kids should know its okay to tell their parents anything.
You can never be too cautious with children. I am always trying to think of ways to keep kids safe that I may have overlooked before. Hopefully something I suggested here will help you keep a child in your life a little safer.
Our goal at Little Sprouts is to grow as much of the food as the kids eat as we possibly can. Could we grow 10%? That would be amazing! Could we grow 50%? Even better! Healthy food for kids is so important!
Getting Kids to Eat Healthy Food
Why do I care about growing all of the kid’s food? With the amount of GMO’s in our food supply and pesticides and herbicides that are showing up in the blood and tissue of humans, I feel that our food supply is getting increasingly unhealthy at an alarming rate.
Even if you don’t feed your kids processed foods, which most of us do, the fresh “healthy” foods we are buying at the grocery store are not so healthy anymore. If you don’t know a lot about chemicals in food or genetically modified food, I would take some time to do some research on it. You will be amazed.
The only way to make sure the food I feed my family and my daycare kids is truly healthy is to grow it ourselves. So we set out on a journey to learn to grow our own! You would be amazed at the transformation in our menu here at Little Sprouts. We’ve gone from corn dogs, frozen fries, and chicken blobs made of mostly chemicals, to fresh produce and homemade bread made with freshly milled flour.
Make your own food for better health
I make my own chicken strips now that just contain chicken, flour, and salt and pepper. I make my own oven fries too. I feel great about it each and every time my kids eat. Is it a lot harder and more time-consuming? Goodness yes! Is it worth it? Oh my, double yes!
Those harmful chemical are destroying bodies at alarming rates with disease at an all-time high in the United States. And studies show that they are even more harmful to children as their bodies are still growing.
You can’t make and grow everything you feed your kids
Are the meals I serve 100% organic, homemade, and chemical free? No, but we are working toward that and every step I take in the right direction is a good step. We started over 10 years ago with baby steps and one small change at a time.
What healthy food do my kids eat?
So you might be wondering what in the world do my Little Sprouts eat? You would be amazed at what they have learned to like that they didn’t before or had never even heard of. Shoot, I am eating things I had not heard of three years ago…and LIKING them!
Remember when changing your diet to healthier foods, kids have to be exposed to a food 11 times before it is no longer a new food. Is that a lot? YES! Do I have to throw away food sometimes because they don’t eat it? Yes. But I did before when I served convenience foods, so it’s not any different.
Food program for daycare
Daycares have USDA regulations for what must be served to the kids at each meal. There are parameters we must follow that are intended to supply the kids with a healthy diet, but they have a wide variety of very healthy and not so healthy choices that we can choose to feed them.
I try to give my kids the very best. And growing food with the kids and letting them help prepare it are two of the ways that exponentially increase the children’s chances of trying the foods that I offer that they might not be familiar with.
Try foods different ways until you find what you like
Another important thing about learning to like healthier foods is no matter what that food is, there is a way you can like it. You just have to find HOW you like to eat it. The same is true for kids.
Take eggplant for instance. I tried cooking it every way I could find and I just CANNOT like the taste of eggplant. I want to be healthy. Eggplant is healthy. So I grilled it, fried it, roasted it, baked it, steamed it, pureed it. But I just don’t like it. So I buy eggplant, grate it up and mix it in my spaghetti sauce or meat loaf. I am eating eggplant. But I can’t taste it.
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Now consider broccoli. I do not like it boiled to death the way that I had it served to me as a child in the school cafeteria. But my mom boiled hers just a little bit, and it was yummy. When I grew up and started doing the cooking, I cooked it like mom did and it was good.
But I found out years later that using fresh broccoli instead of frozen is 10 times more delicious. And then I discovered it….roasted broccoli. Oh my, there is not much better in this world. I put a little olive oil on it, salt and pepper, crushed garlic, and a little grated parmesan cheese. Put it in a 400-degree oven until it’s bright green and just a tiny bit browned on the tips. Click here for a recipe.
It is out of this world tasty. I don’t think I have a single child who doesn’t gobble this up. I even have kids begging their parents to buy broccoli to eat at home. I promise you if you don’t give up on fruits and vegetables, you will learn to love many things and you will be able to teach your kids to love them too.
Changing your diet takes time
When we first tried to change our eating habits to a healthier diet, we only ate broccoli and corn. So getting 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day was really tough to do. But one at a time we added things to our diet that we now love to eat. We switched out our canned peaches for the world’s most amazing fresh peaches. We left the everyday apples, oranges, and bananas for less of those and a variety of wonderful fresh melons and other yummy fruits.
We learned to like Swiss chard, sweet potatoes, squashes and many many other healthy vegetables and our bodies are so much better for it. I think more clearly, have more energy, fewer mood swings and a myriad of other amazing health benefits. I eat an average of 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day in a wide variety of colors for different nutrients. I eat lots of raw produce as well. I enjoy it now that I’ve learned to prepare things the way I like them.
Don’t nag kids to eat healthy food
Remember if you badger your kids to eat, they won’t want what you’re feeding them no matter what. Nagging or begging kids to eat is not a healthy practice. Offer them a plate of food with a small amount of each thing on it. If they don’t eat it, don’t worry, they will eat when they are hungry. Model good eating habits and they will soon follow. Monkey see monkey do with kids is not just limited to bad things.
If you ignore what they are eating, they will choose what they need to be satisfied. Remember, a toddler portion is not what you are used to eating. They don’t need that much food to get full.
For more tips on how to get kids to eat healthy food, click here.
If you are trying to change your eating habits or the habits of your family, be patient with yourself and with them. It’s a process, it doesn’t happen overnight. But I can tell you even the pickiest kids (and adults, eh hmm) will come around and learn to like at least some things. It’s definitely worth doing for the health of those you love and you will feel AMAZING!
Don’t forget to pin for later
Every child deserves a great place to be. That’s why I have kept teaching kids for over 20 years. I firmly believe if we are going to take care of children, we should give it our 110%. There is nothing more important than how a provider spends their day. Here are some GREAT reasons to be a daycare provider.