5 Creative Ways to Make Bath Time Fun

Bath time can be a struggle. Whether you have a brand new baby, a rambunctious toddler, or a curious preschooler at home, a number of challenges can arise when it comes to bath time. Your child may know that this signifies bedtime and not be ready to wind down. They want to play one more game. They need a snack. Now their thirsty. Maybe your child just really does not like water. Whatever the cause may be, as a parent, we all know that sometimes it can be difficult. Even if you are one of the lucky ones with a child who loves a good bath, these tips are for you as well.

Bath time can be a great bonding time for you and your child and it can lend itself great learning moments. Here are five creative ways to make bath time fun for your children, and to capitalize on the little moments that make the best memories:

1. Spray Paint Bubble Bath: All you need is some food coloring, a few spray bottles, and some bubble bath. Add some warm water and just a drop or two of food coloring to the bottles. Shake well. Food coloring is completely safe but may seem like a messy option. Adding it to warm water will dilute it enough to avoid staining. Run the bath and add a healthy amount of bubble bath for optimum fun. Let your little one spray the bubbles and paint them all different colors. They can swish the bubbles and water around for a beautiful moving piece of art. The little ones will love this fun and easy bath time activity.

2. Glow Bath: For a fun sensory experience, turn off the lights, and let those bubbles glow! For younger children, add a bunch of glow sticks to the bath and turn off the lights. Check your glow sticks before adding them to the bath to ensure there are not any holes. We do not want the contents to leak into their bath. This is a simple yet effective way to make bath time a little different and a lot exciting. For your older children, make glow paint. For glow paint, all you need is washable fluorescent paint that you can find at any craft store, and shaving cream. Mix the two ingredients together and let your child’s creativity emerge. With shaving cream, it is important to be careful of sensitive skin. You may benefit from testing it on a small area of your child’s hand first before submerging them in the bath with it.

3. Ice Fishing: An ice-fishing bath is easy and fun for your child and can be altered to accommodate different developmental benchmarks and ages. To make your ice-fishing bath, all you need is to freeze some bath toys in a small container. Once you place the ice in the water, the objects will slowly emerge. This is where you can cater this activity to your child’s needs and likes. One idea is to add bath letters that spell out fish, for a fun word scramble. An ice-fishing bath is fun for all ages and is an exciting twist to bath time.

4. Pool Noodle Play: This activity is so simple and so fun. Cut up pieces of a pool noodle for a terrific water sensory activity. It is important to find the easy, fun way, when it comes to engaging and teaching your children. This activity is quick and easy to set up. It allows your child time to explore water, patterns, and color. Children love exploring things that float. You can even add things that do not float to push through the noodles. The variations and possibilities are endless with this stress free activity.

5. Themed Bath Night: Adding a theme to bath night is a simple and fun way to spice up bath time. Use objects that you have around the house; you could even let your child pick the theme or help pick out the toys. Add the toys to the bath and let their imaginations go. Letting your child play with toys in the bath that are not always bath toys will add an element of excitement to the activity. The possibilities are endless with this one: Color Night, Dinosaur Extravaganza, Pool Party, Car Wash, “Food” Fight… the list could go on.

You are now prepared to bring a little joy and a lot of fun to bath night!!

Back to School Tips

Typically by the end of summer, we are all anticipating the structure, sports, and activities that are associated with the back to school season. This year feels different. We will miss the familiarity of sports and activities, but we can keep the structure. This upcoming school year comes with much anxiety and uncertainty. Here are 6 helpful tips to help your family experience a smooth transition into fall and maintain some normalcy

Re-establish bedtime and mealtime routines: Plan to re-establish the earlier bedtimes, along with the earlier wake-up calls approximately 1-2 weeks before school starts.  This gives everyone some time to get adjusted to the schedule again. Remember to avoid screen time in the last two hours before bed as the blue light emitted from devices can cause problems with falling asleep.

Turn off the TV:  Encourage children to read or play quiet games, or activities in the morning instead of watching TV.  This will help ease them into the learning process and have less complaints when it is time to get ready for school, whether that is in person or distance learning.

Designate a homework spot: Keep desks or tables clear of clutter so there is a nice quiet place to do homework, and also for supervision.

Make lunches the night before: Get as much together the night before, so your morning routine will go more smoothly.

Layout clothes the night before:  Have clothes laid out the night before so kids can just get in their clothes before they even come downstairs to breakfast. One more thing you can check off your to-do list in the morning.

Establish the after-school schedule:  Make sure you go over the after school schedule with kids in the morning, so they are clear of what to expect when they get home from school or when the designated learning time is complete.  Be specific with young children— ”You will take the bus home today”, “Dad will pick you up at AppleTree/Gilden Woods today”, or “Learning time ends at 3 pm then we can go outside to play.”

We hope these tips help your family start the school year off on the right foot!

End of Summer Family Bucket List

August is in full swing and Summer is dwindling down. School starts in just a few short weeks. While your brain is racing with all the things you need to do to get ready, slow down and enjoy the last few moments of Summer. Push away the thoughts of leaves, pumpkins, sweaters, and boots for a little bit longer. Embrace the sunscreen, bug spray, and beach! Below is a family friendly bucket list to help you end Summer on a high note.

August is National Immunizations Month

August is recognized as National Immunizations Month (NIAM). This awareness month highlights the need for improving national immunization coverage levels and encourages all people to protect their health by being immunized against infectious diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does support and encourage the efforts of state and local health departments and other immunization partners to celebrate NIAM and use this month to promote back-to-school immunizations, remind college students to catch up immunizations before they move into dorms, and remind everyone that the influenza season is only a few months away. It’s a great reminder to our nation that people of all ages require timely immunization to protect their health.

Why are childhood vaccines so important?

  • It’s true that newborn babies are immune to many diseases because they have antibodies they got from their mothers. However, the duration of the immunity may last only a month to about a year. Further, young children do not have maternal immunity against some vaccine-preventable diseases, such as whooping cough.
  • If a child is vaccinated and is exposed to a disease germ, the child’s body may not be strong enough to fight the disease. Before vaccines, many children died from diseases that vaccines now prevent, such as whooping cough, measles, and polio. Those same germs exist today, but babies are now protected by vaccines, so we do not see these diseases as often.
  • Immunizing individual children also helps to protect the health of our community, especially those people who are not immunized. People who are not immunized include those who are too young to be vaccinated (e.g., children less than a year old cannot receive the measles vaccine but can be infected by the virus), those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons (e.g., children with leukemia), and those who cannot make an adequate response to vaccination. Also protected, therefore, are people who receive a vaccine, but who have not developed an immunity.

Immunization also slows down or stops disease outbreaks.

 

For more information on vaccinations, please visit www.cdc.gov.

Teaching Children Respect

Respect for one another is an important value in our everyday lives. However, it is a challenge to find ways to teach this value to children. We have all heard that we must give respect to get respect and this is very true. It relates back to the golden rule, treating others as you would like to be treated. As with anything, it is sometimes easier said than done. I am a first-time mother of a very independent and strong willed 4-year-old. Respect is our biggest struggle right now. I find my head racing in those heated moments; how do I stay calm, how do I respect the decision he is making, how can I get him to listen, why doesn’t he respect me, what am I doing wrong? One thing I know for sure and take comfort in is the fact that I am not alone. Most children go through a defiant stage, and many parents find themselves in frustrating situations where there is a struggle for respect. During those trying moments, are the teachable moments.

Define Respect: Take time to communicate with your children what respect means. Help them understand what respect looks like and how they can practice being respectful. Give them plenty of examples and positive affirmations, for example: “It’s so nice and very respectful when you listen quietly when I am talking to you. “You do a great job showing your teacher respect at school when you look her in the eyes when you talk to her.” “I know you love to play with blocks. Doesn’t it feel good when a friend invites you to play blocks, or shares their blocks with you? They’re showing you respect.”

Leading by example: Children model what they see. They take after the relationships that are in front of them every day. The way that you treat those around you; spouse, significant other, children, friends, coworkers, parents, etc. in the moments when you get lost in frustration or anger, bring your awareness back to who is watching, what they are learning, and how you can model expected or desired behavior. How would you like them to react to a similar situation?

Remain Calm: The power of breath is sometimes underestimated. When respect becomes an issue, teach your children to stop and take a deep breath. “Taking a deep breath really does calm you down by triggering neurons in your brain which tell the body it is time to relax, a new study has found there are neurons which link breathing to relaxation, attention, excitement and anxiety located deep in the brainstem” This allows everyone to slow down and calm the body down, which can reroute potentially frustrating situations.

Talk Openly: Talking about who we respect and why we respect those people gives you an opportunity to bring it full circle for your child. Once they understand what respect is, they can truly start to understand how to embody that and who to respect; mom, dad, laws, teachers, friends, themselves. Take the little moments and turn them into teachable moments, “I don’t want to clean my room” can turn into a conversation about respect. Respecting your personal property, the rules, and your parents.

At AppleTree & Gilden Woods, respect is very important to our CORE Values Character Education Program. For the month of July, we bring acute awareness to how we can embody respect and make a point to work it in to our every day lives. Below is an activity that we do in our classrooms, that you can try at home with your children around the dinner table or while sharing your day:

The “Talking Stone”

Activity Materials needed:

  • Medium Rock or Paint Stick (optionally can be decorated)

Often during circle time, many preschoolers want to talk at once. One way to help children learn how to take turns is to use a visual clue. Try using a “talking stick” or “talking stone.” Hold your “stick” or “stone” while you speak and then pass it on when it’s time for another person to talk. Only the person with the talking stone or stick may speak. You can use a colorful rock or decorate your stick in a special way. This technique helps young children learn to respect the speaker and to wait and listen. Continue with this idea and soon the children will be reminding each other.

Tips for Camping With Children

The sun is up, the skies are blue, the birds are chirping, the pavement is sizzling. Summer is here! It’s the perfect time to pack up the car and head to the woods for an unplugged weekend with nature. Some of my most cherished childhood memories are from our family camping trips on the Manistee River. Nothing will ever compare to the magic the river brought to us. However, I’m now a mother of a rambunctious toddler, and I cannot even begin to imagine how my parents handled camping with 6 of us, ranging in age from 1-15. I have a whole new perspective and respect for them! Hats off to the brave and bold parents ready to embark on that family camping trip. Here are a few camping hacks to make the trip a little less stressful and a lot more enjoyable for the whole family.

Camping allows the family to disconnect and enjoy what the world has to offer. Encouraging a love for nature in young children allows them to explore and get in touch with their creative side and it also makes for amazing family memories!

7 Natural Remedies for Sun Burns

July is National UV Protection Month. The sun is warm and wonderful but can be very dangerous if we do not take precautions to protect ourselves from it’s rays. While sunscreen, hats, and UV protective clothing are an effective way to enjoy the sun and prevent sunburn, it is important to understand that sometimes sunburn does happen regardless of the measures we have taken. Below are a few natural remedies to help ease the pain of a dreaded sunburn.

  1. Aloe Vera- Aloe helps ease the itching and burning when applied to a sunburn. For added relief, put aloe into ice cube trays and freeze for a bonus cooling effect.
  1. Coconut Oil- Gently rub coconut oil into the sunburn. The oil takes out the burn and tightens the skin to help reduce wrinkles that may result from sun damage.
  2. Witch Hazel- Apply a compress of witch hazel to the affected area. This will help with pain and swelling as well as help eliminate peeling.
  3. Baking Soda Bath- Mix 1 cup of baking soda into a cool bath and soak for no more than 15-20 minutes.
  4. Black Tea- Allow tea bags to soak and then apply them to the affected area. There are components in black tea that can help remove heat from sunburn and other components, called catechins that help prevent and repair skin damage.
  5. Apple Cider Vinegar- There are countless benefits and uses for apple cider vinegar. It comes as no surprise that it can also help soothe and heal a sunburn. You can add it to a spray bottle and use it as a mist or you can add it to a cool compress and apply it by gently pressing it on to the affected areas.
  6. Cucumber- Make a paste by blending chilled cucumbers. Apply the paste to sunburned areas to help ease pain and inflammation.

Stay safe, be smart out there, and enjoy Summer while it lasts.

June is National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month

June is National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month. A growing body of research shows that fruits and vegetables are critical to promoting good health and possibly positive behavioral and mental health. To get the amount that’s recommended, most people need to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables they currently eat every day.  Most parents understand the importance of fruits and vegetables and desperately want their children to eat more of them.  However, this often becomes a struggle at meal times.  Here are a few important tips:

 

  1. Introduce fruits and veggies at a very young age —When a breastfeeding mother eats a varied diet, countless components of the foods she eats seasons her milk subtly. In this way, a breastfed baby is exposed to a wide variety of flavors before a single vegetable touches his or her lips.  If you are a breastfeeding mother, make sure to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables yourself.
  2. Offer them often and consistently—Once you begin to introduce solid foods to your baby, continue to offer a variety of fruits and vegetables and a variety of tastes and textures. Your baby may reject green beans, spinach, or other foods, but repeatedly offering a variety of foods usually leads to acceptance and eventually a preference for those foods. Try, try again.
  3. Don’t hide them in other foods—If you’re looking to increase your child’s long-term intake of fruits and vegetables, don’t hide them. This will do nothing to foster a long-term appreciation. Hiding a 1/4 cup of pureed cauliflower in your child’s macaroni and cheese won’t teach your child to appreciate cauliflower, instead it will foster an appreciation for macaroni and cheese.  However, hiding fruits or vegetables in certain foods is not always wrong as long as you are aware that it’s only for the nutritional value and not for the purpose of instilling the valuable lesson of healthy food choices. For this lesson to sink in offering the actual fruit or vegetable and increasing your child’s exposure to it is the only way to go.
  4. Lead by example! —Take care to remember how deeply your choices as a parent affect those of your children. Profoundly impressionable, they’re looking to you to guide them into making the right choices for themselves.  By actively choosing and savoring vegetables yourself, you mold the way your child views fruits and vegetables.  Eat well, and your children will learn to eat well, too.

 

Visit a local farmer’s market and let your child experience the bright and vibrant colors of the fruits and vegetables. Celebrate National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month, but remember to enjoy these necessary foods all year long.

Our Covid-19 Response Plan

The mission of AppleTree & Gilden Woods Early Care and Preschool has always been to create a safe environment that earns the trust of the children and families we serve. We are as dedicated to that mission now as we have ever been. AppleTree & Gilden Woods will continue to lead the industry in best practices during this time, a responsibility we do not take lightly. Accordingly, we created a Covid-19 Operating Manual that details the necessary policy and procedures and aggressive actions we have taken to mitigate the potential spread of Covid-19. This new operating model supplements our existing and overarching operations manual. As we move forward in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we would like to communicate those aggressive actions we have taken to assure you of our steadfast commitment to the health and safety of our AppleTree & Gilden Woods families. 

Operating Policies

  • Created and implemented a Child Drop Off and Pick Up Policy to include the following:
    • Parents/Guardians will drop off and pick up their child(ren) through their direct classroom exterior/emergency exit doors to eliminate anyone but essential employees going in/out of the school. Parents will remain outside the classroom door and converse with the classroom teacher through the door way.
    • This procedure aids in allowing each classroom to become its own “school” with regards to eliminating contact with others in the building
  • Implemented strategies for social distancing in the classroom including the following:
    • Limit to two children in each learning center whenever possible.
    • Do not have children wait in line for handwashing. Only have one child at a time at the sink.
    • Implement handwashing songs that are at least 20 seconds long to support children’s learning of the amount of time for washing hands.
    • Utilizing both mealtime tables to eliminate close physical contact for eating meals
    • Only allowing 2-3 children on an outdoor play structure at a time.
    • Eliminated any curriculum component (i.e. circle time, large group, small groups) that involves children touching for any reason.
    • Only allowing 2-3 children at a time for small group instruction. 
    • Encouraging children to eliminate physical contact.
    • Created standing spaces to eliminate bunching together when lining up to go from one location to another (i.e. outside).
    • Ensuring that children’s rest mats are placed at a minimum of 6 feet apart.
  • Created and implemented a COVID-19 Policy to include the following content:
    • Reinforcing hygiene practices.
    • Intensifying cleaning and disinfecting efforts.
    • Assessing the health of children, parents/guardians, vendors, and team members who enter the school
  • Suspended classrooms from implementing family-style meals instructed one masked team member to serve all food to children. 

Health & Hygiene

  • Requiring team members to assure all children’s hands are washed upon arrival at the school.
  • Performing temperature screenings of every child, parent/guardian, vendor, and team member who enters the building. Children’s temperature will be taken again at lunch each day. Those with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or above will not be allowed access to the school.
  • Confirmed vender procedures for sanitizing and preventing the spread of illness prior to allowing the goods into the schools.
  • Implemented a health screening for all parents, children, and team members, those who display any of the following symptoms will not be allowed in the school:
    • New-onset cough or worsening cough
    • Sore throat
    • Shortness of breath
    • Fever now or in the last 48 hours
  • Provided face masks to all employees along with mask washing instructions and child/classroom introduction strategies. Team members are required to wear one during their shift (some restrictions may apply; i.e., medical reasons). 

Cleaning & Disinfecting

  • Utilizing disinfectant foggers twice a week in the school
  • Sanitizing the school entry door handles with increased frequency between the hours of 6am-10am and 3pm-6pm.
  • Intensified cleaning in classrooms throughout the day

Preparedness & Planning 

  •  Increased janitorial supply purchases (i.e. soap, gloves, sanitizing solutions, etc.) and instructed the schools to store them in a dedicated space to monitor proper usage to ensure an adequate amount of materials will be available for future use. 
  • Canceled all upcoming parent involvement events to eliminate non-essential persons entering the school.
  • Prohibited all non-vendor visitors (i.e. trainings, orientation, CDA, staff meetings, etc.) to eliminate non-essential persons entering the schools and Central Services.

Communication

  • Created and shared several Frequently Asked Questions emails with all families.
  • Provided COVID – 19 response plan to families on company website and to all school personnel
  • Notified team members of face-covering expectations and provided them with the following information:
    • The correct way to wear and remove a mask.
    • How to introduce children to the concept of teachers wearing a mask.
    • How to respond to children’s questions about masks.

Curriculum and Learning

  • Created a Healthy Habits and Social Distancing curriculum for children ages 2.5 and older to educate, model and reinforce the necessary habits at this time
  • Repletely completing the activities within the curriculum for consistent reeducation and to create habit of these new norms  
  • Created classroom visuals to reinforce the new necessary habits (i.e., how to stand in a line but remain out of each other’s personal space bubble, etc.)

13 Activities to Teach Children Self Control

Self-control is a learned aspect of overall emotional intelligence. Impulse control, self-regulation, and patience, are critical to living successful, calm, and stable lives. Self-control is learned through repetition, patience, and modeling. As important as it is to learn and to teach, it can be a tricky one. Here are a few ways to help promote self-control in children

 

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