Last Minute Summer Fun

Cold, rainy fall weather will be here before we know it.  Make the most of the end of summer by penciling some of the activities below onto your calendar.

  • Talk to your neighbors and organize an ice cream social – especially if you missed National Night Out on Tuesday, August 4
  • Visit Binder Park Zoo for Tour de Zoo on Thursday, August 20 (7400 Division Drive, Battle Creek, MI 49014, 269-979-1351, Note: This event requires registration.  Register ahead of time at for $25 or pay $5 more to register on the day of the event.)
  • Visit a nature center
  • Go for a walk, hike, or bike as a family
  • Find a new restaurant or ice cream place and give it a try – maybe it’ll become a new family favorite!
  • Grab some sunscreen and have some fun on the water at a beach or lake
  • On a rainy day or night, have a family game night – optionally head to a toy store to find a new game to try
  • Make your cowboy’s/cowgirl’s day by finding a place to horseback ride
  • Enjoy a quintessential Pure Michigan landmark for a weekend – ideas could include Sleeping Bear Dunes or Mackinaw Island – extra fun for choosing a new place you’ve never been!


For more ideas, check out the following:


The Mystery of Hand Dominance in Children

The development of predominant and proficient use of one hand over the other is important for handwriting, feeding, and other activities.  According to, 90% of the population is right-hand dominant and 10% is left- or mixed-hand dominant.

Did you know?  Encouraging or forcing the use of a particular hand in activities such as handwriting may lead to stuttering, stammering, and increased levels of stress within young children (Meng, 2007).


Honor the natural development

While it may be tempting to help a child “decide” which hand to use, research recommends encouraging activities that require two hands to perform different jobs to develop hand dominance.  Presenting toys at the midline allows children to grasp spontaneously.


Don’t worry if the child switches hands during play or learning – recognize this developmental time as the gift it is.


Source:  Dr. Marianne Gibbs, EdD, OTR, Write Out of the Box –, Picture from

Reference:  Meng, L. (2007). The rate of handedness conversion and related factors in left-handed children. Laterality, 12(2), 131-138.

Infant Individual Lesson Plans

The development that occurs between birth and a child’s third birthday lays the foundation for all later learning (National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2000).

Babies grow and develop quickly in their first year of life. That’s why responsive curriculum – planning focused on using activities to support and foster an infant’s internal motivators to learning – is our tool to ensure your infant receives individual, developmentally-appropriate lesson plans.


Each month, your infant’s primary teacher will identify activities specific to your infant’s development. Lesson planning is based on observations and anecdotal notes recorded by your infant’s primary teacher and suggested activities from your infant’s most recent ASQ-3 (Ages and Stages Questionnaire). Using observations and results of the ASQ ensures activities are not just adult-initiated, adult-directed lessons, but rather lessons and activities in direct response to your infant’s developing interests and needs. Your child’s intentionally designed early learning experiences will be posted in your child’s classroom for your easy reference.

The ASQ-3 is an invaluable tool for your child’s individual lesson planning. Our schools have partnered with Family Futures, an innovative, family-centered program providing parents of children five and under with critical information on child development through their Connections program. Through the Connections program families receive Ages and Stages Questionnaires either via email or the postal service. These questionnaires enable parents and caregivers to track a child’s development. Play activities are used to encourage healthy development and identify any concerns which, in turn, Family Futures will follow up on with families.

Infant Individual Lesson Planning is just another value-added program developed for our families of AppleTree and Gilden Woods Early Care and Preschool.

Jump Into June – 5 Ways to Start the Summer Off Right!

June is the start of summer vacation.  School age children are excited to enjoy the “dog days of summer” and will be itching for activities to keep them busy and seeing the friends they have made during the previous school year.  Check out these ideas to make this your child’s favorite June yet and make the most of the quality time you have together.

  • Sign up for a summer reading program!  Many local libraries and bookstores have child, teen, and adult programs and some include the opportunity to win prizes by turning in minutes, pages, or books throughout the program.  Contact your library or local bookstore to learn about what programs they are running in the summer months.  Some have deadlines by which you need to register – so don’t delay!  Grand Rapids Public Library, Kent District Libraries, Schuler Books, Barnes and Noble, and Baker Book House are a great place to start.
  • Look for local farmer’s markets.  Some vendors will have recipes that can be made with their fruits and veggies available on their carts.  June is the perfect time to explore a farmer’s market – it’s Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month!
  • Summer is a time for outdoor concerts and festivals – check out your local chamber of commerce and regional websites (such as or and look for events calendars with these options.  Many of them will be free to attend.  Festival of the Arts (June 5 – 7), Start of Summer Celebration – Rockford (June 12 – 14), West Michigan Chalk Art Festival (June 19 – 20), Grand Rapids Balloon Festival (July 24 – 25), Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival (July 24 – August 2), and Hudsonville Community Fair (August 24 – 29) are all annual favorites throughout the West Michigan area.
  • Michigan’s Free Fishing Weekend – Do you have a little one that is itching to get out on the water?  During the weekend of Saturday, June 13 and Sunday, June 14, take advantage of all applicable fishing license fees being waived.
  • National Get Outdoors Day – June 13, 2015 (the second Saturday in June) – Purchase a tent or borrow one from a family member or friend and camp in the backyard if you can’t get away to a campsite.  Consider making a fire and enjoying quality time with some s’mores and campsongs.
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