Creating a Whimsical Woodland Party, by Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson shows us how to put together a “Whimsical Woodland Party”, something she did recently for her five year old daughter. Great, creative ideas shared by an energetic Mum!

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Well I’ve been looking forward to creating a whimsical woodland party for quite some time, and with my daughter’s fifth birthday approaching I thought there was no better time than ever to start planning. Recent research has demonstrated what we already intrinsically know – that nature is great for all of us. As a result, nature nurseries, schools and woodland themed activities have become all the rage.

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We decided to host our woodland party at home and being summer, we were able to spend the entire time outside. I’m always in favour of not having too many structured activities at a child’s party, and just letting the kids engage in free play. We started off with a visit from Furries, Feathers and Fangs – a very reasonably priced family owned company that bring animals to events. The children were able to hold a hedgehog, frog, guinea pig, large continental rabbit…

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10 Books to Read to Your Kids About Climate Change, by Crystal Ponti

The Earth’s global climate is changing. Although this has been a naturally occurring process for millions of years, only recently has the change accelerated to the point where significant impacts are felt the world over. People are causing these bulk of these changes, which are bigger and happening faster than any climate changes that modern society has ever seen before. From increasing temperatures and rising sea levels to intensifying natural disasters and loss of entire species, climate change is an issue we’re all confronted with now and one our children will face for years to come.

Below are ten books about climate change to educate and empower our future generations:

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The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk

by Jan Thornhill

Great Auks were flightless birds that resembled penguins. They were prolific in the icy waters of the northern Atlantic until human hunters, egg collectors, and climate change led to their extinction. Unfortunately, many other bird species are on a similar path. “The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk” is a beautifully designed picture book that reminds us how precious life is – all life. Booklist says, “This vivid, fascinating story emphasizes not only the importance of conservation but also how deeply intertwined the human and animal worlds can be. Eye-opening and tragic, to be sure, but surprisingly hopeful all the same.”

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Giddy Godspeed and the Felicity Flower

by Maria-Pilar Landver

This fun and creative story is about a little girl named Giddy, who wakes to find a wilting flower in distress. It’s much too hot, even at night, and all the flower’s delicate petals are drying out. In the garden the next day, Giddy discovers all is not right in the world and embarks on an imaginative tale to help the flowers survive. Although climate change is not mentioned directly in the book, the message is multi-faceted with a deep connection to helping the earth. The story is accompanied by a wonderful collection of abstract illustrations that will captivate young audiences.

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The Problem of the Hot World

by Pam Bonsper

The trees have stopped growing. The grass is all gone. The world is too hot, and there’s no more water to drink. When the forest world is turned upside down, how will the animals survive? Five friends – a fox, a bear, an owl, a mole, and a deer – set out on a journey to find where the water has gone. Can they bring it back? “The book has a lovely forest setting with recognizable animals, very interesting and charming illustrations (in perfect synergy with the story), and tells the story of environmental changes in a very simple, friendly, serene way,” says one Amazon reviewer.

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The Lorax

by Dr. Seuss

Well before climate change was a household term, Dr. Seuss shed light on the harms of hurting the environment in his classic book “The Lorax.” The rhyming tale is a timely warning of the dangers of clear-cutting, polluting, and disrespecting the earth. Told from the perspective of Once-ler, readers learn how the narrator once discovered the Truffula Trees and Brown Bar-ba-loots and harvested the trees until nothing was left but a single seed – which ends up in the hands of a caring child. “The Lorax” is a wonderful reminder that we all have a role to play in protecting Mother Earth.

(To read more of this post, please follow the link below…)

http://www.parent.co/10-childrens-books-climate-change

Six things every parent should know about Pokémon Go, by Christian Gallen

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For the first time in history you may hear your kids complain that it’s raining so they can’t go outside and play video games. This is the parents’ guide to the newest social phenomenon that has taken over the world.

1. What is Pokémon Go?

You have probably come across Pokémon before. It’s Japanese for ‘pocket monsters’. You may even be familiar with Pikachu. Pokémon has been around for ages and spans video games, TV shows, a trading card game and now has become super popular because of the smart phone app, Pokémon Go. Chances are your kids are playing it!

2. How does it work?

Pokemon-Go-001-292x300The basic idea of the game is that you travel around the real world and find Pokémon using your device. There are 250 different types of Pokémon out there. If your kid comes home excited about catching Bulbasaur there’s nothing to worry about. It’s not a drug or a disease. It’s a grass type Pokémon with razor leaf attack. You collect them and battle against other users. Your kid doesn’t need hand-eye coordination to catch Pokémon – just a fully-charged smartphone and access to the internet.

This week I saw a group of teenagers running laps around a park with their phones in front of their faces. They were outdoors with their friends, they were exercising and they were playing a video game all at the same time. Weird.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://www.theparentingplace.com/blogs/a-parents-guide-to-pokemon-go/

Five things pediatricians want dads to know about how important they are to their kids, by Megan Daley

 

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Pediatricians have a message for fathers: You’re more important to your child’s health and well-being than you — and we — might have realized.

After assessing more than a decade’s worth of psychological and sociological research, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a new report about fatherhood and the things doctors can do to help the nation’s 70 million dads reach their full parenting potential.

Fathers aren’t just back-ups for moms. Their presence in their children’s lives is beneficial in and of itself.

For instance, a 2012 study in the journal Development and Psychopathology looked at pairs of sisters who had differing levels of father involvement. Researchers found that the chances of teen pregnancy and other early sexual experiences were lower for daughters who spent more quality time with their dads.

A review of multiple studies found that kids who grew up spending time with their fathers were less likely to have behavioral and psychological problems. They were also more likely to be independent, intelligent and have improved social awareness.

See the most-read stories in Science this hour »

“The role of fathers, and fatherhood, is in the process of changing,” said Raymond Levy, a clinical psychologist and executive director of the Fatherhood Project at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Traditional roles are merging, with moms spending more time in the workplace and dads spending more at home.

The new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics takes an expansive view of fatherhood. It defines fathers not merely as men who sire children, but as the male adults who are most invested in the care of a child. That can include a biological or adoptive dad, a stepfather or a grandfather.

Here’s further proof that modern dads don’t necessarily resemble Jim Anderson, the insurance salesman patriarch of the TV series “Father Knows Best” — today, fathers account for 16% of America’s single parents, a number that totals 1.9 million. In addition, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that nearly 200,000 married fathers are stay-at-home dads.

The authors of the new report considered the special needs of specific groups of fathers, including those in same-sex relationships, those coping with military deployment and those who have spent time in prison.

“We’ve looked more broadly at our totally diverse groups of fathers,” said lead author Dr. Michael Yogman, a practicing pediatrician who studies father-child relationships at Harvard Medical School. “We’ve realized it’s really important to encourage fathers to be involved.”

Here are five things dads can do to take their parenting to the next level.

Be a role model

Children look up to their fathers and have a tendency to imitate their behaviors. That’s why pediatricians want dads to be conscious of how the actions they take — whether it’s lighting a cigarette or buckling a seat belt — will influence their children as they grow and learn to make decisions on their own.

Fathers should get involved with their kids right from the beginning, by playing with them or just talking to them. That lets them see their dads as supportive companions and teachers.

“The old expectation that men were inadequate mothers, and that they had to do everything just like mothers did with young children, was unfair,” Yogman said.

He encourages fathers to find their own relationship with their children and figure out what works best for them.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-fathers-pediatricians-20160613-snap-story.html

Road Safety and Your Child – Some Helpful Ideas, by John Somerfield, Senior Constable and School Community Officer, New Zealand Police

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Parents have a huge part to play in influencing our next generation of road users. If you are reading this, that probably means you care about the safety of your child and want the best for them.

Helmets

A helmet should be worn while doing any adventure activity.  Cycling, scootering, or rock climbing. Your child’s helmet needs to be the right type for the activity.

A helmet should be the right size and shape for you child’s head right now. Heads grow slow, so make sure it fits now. It should be a snug fit, even before you have done up the straps.

Bikes

bike-riding-628739If  you are looking at getting another bike for your child,  think quality. You can find great bikes that are pre-loved. You can always put a new seat or other part onto the bike. Don’t buy a huge bike just so they can use it when they are twenty.

In New Zealand, bikes need a few things by law. They need a red rear  reflector,  good  brakes  front  and  back,  good  tyres,  and  they need reflectors on the pedals.

Just  grab the spray lubricant  and get  those parts  and brakes moving again. Don’t get it on the wheels or brake pads. Keep those tyres  pumped  up  at  the  service  station  to  the  amount  allowed,  as written on the side of the tyre. This makes cycling more fun and you get less punctures.

In New Zealand, if bike wheels are around 35 cm in diameter or less, kids are legally allowed to ride on the footpath. Therefore anything larger needs to be ridden on the road, leaving the footpaths for pedestrians.  The problem is when your young child is riding a larger bike. If they need to go on the footpath for their own safety, they will need to slow down and give way to all pedestrians and sneaky driveways.

Shoes

Good shoes should  always be  worn  on  bikes  and  scooters.  Scooter  brakes heat  up a lot  and will burn your child’s  foot  if  good shoes are not worn.

$_35Christmas Gifts that are great for safety

A new helmet, cycle gloves, sunglasses, a bell or a bright shirt.

Cars

Let’s use the back seat first for our kids.  BUT – Remember that the lap belt is not a very safe option. You could use an H harness with the lap belt to make it safe. Consider using the front seat for the older kids and moving the front seat back as far as it goes to stay away from any airbags.

Booster seats or booster pads are designed to do three things: they keep the seat belt across the shoulder; keep the belt across the hips, not the tummy and they let the knees bend nicely.  Your kids should be using some form of booster until they are about 148 cms in height.

Your  beautiful  child  should  never  get  out  of  the  car  onto  the roadway. Even if they need to climb over something, they should always get out onto the footpath side.

Walking

Always wait  for  your young child  on the school  side of  the street.  Children  have  been hurt  and  killed  while  crossing  the  road looking at their parent.

Cars

You must not  stop on yellow lines. Yellow lines are No-Stopping lines. These have been put on the road to keep everyone safe. In New Zealand the fine is $60 for stopping on yellow lines, even to drop off or pick up.

The  law  says  you  cannot  park  in  any  driveway  outside  the boundary  of  your  property.  You  cannot  obstruct  the  footpath.  You cannot park over any driveway including your own. In New Zealand the fine is $40 for any of these offences.

General

The most dangerous times for children near roads includes rushing into the school grounds in the morning and even more so as they are leaving school. They are often running, not taking notice of the traffic and, generally, it is difficult to predict what they will do next.

Parents  have  the  power  to  keep  cars  further  away  from schools,  to  keep everyone safe. We should be looking at how we are doing things and we should take the time to do things right… for the sake of our kids’ safety.

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Let the Children Play… OUTSIDE! By “greenlife matters”, the Nursery and Garden Industry, New Zealand

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NATURE Deficit Disorder (NDD) is affecting our children. Although this phenomenon is not an actual medical diagnosis, research shows that a lack of playing outside in parks and green spaces is contributing to various physical and mental health issues. Richard Louv explains that NDD is when children are too removed from nature, which leads to a number of behavioural issues, including diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties and higher rates of physical and emotional illness.

Children growing up nowadays are surrounded by many technological distractions that prevent them from spending time outdoors. Televisions, computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones and gaming consoles lure children to the screen to watch television shows, movies and video clips or play games. Regrettably some parents and caregivers use these devices as pseudo child-minders.

The temptation here is to bombard people with research facts and figures about inactive lifestyles, unacceptably high obesity rates, mental health issues and behavioural problems. But rather than dwell on the problems, let’s look at some research that shows how regular interaction with plants and green space can help.

Playing outdoors in parks and green spaces has been proven to reduce Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms in children. The outdoor environment, trees and plants provide welcome distractions, with the brain focussing on the colours, light, scents and textures, helping repress ADHD symptoms.

Similarly, in relation to curbing childhood obesity, children and youth living in greener neighbourhoods reported lower body mass index (BMI) scores, presumably due to increased physical activity or time spent outdoors.

Furthermore, children encouraged to spend more time engaging with nature and given opportunities to learn in an outdoor setting (green education) are more likely to continue enjoying the outdoors as teenagers and adults, positively influencing their health and wellbeing. It is pleasing to note that when primary school children are given a choice about where to play, more and more are choosing natural areas. Thus the green areas in school grounds stand to make an important contribution in providing equitable, inclusive, healthy and inviting play opportunities for children.

Green space clearly provides children with opportunities to lead happier and healthier lives; however, enticing children outdoors to receive a daily dose of green can often be the hurdle. Participating in outdoor sport or recreation activities, building a vegetable garden or simply visiting parks and gardens are simple ways to achieve this.

Related Links:

http://nginz.co.nz/

How to raise an overactive child The joys and challenges of raising a kid who is more intense, more energetic and more persistent than average, by Lisa Bendall

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When Jennifer Weiss of Airdrie, Alta., put a dish of parsnips on the family dinner table for the first time, eight-year-old Mackenzie went from calmly chatting to a total meltdown. “He was adamant, arms crossed, tears rolling down his face,” Weiss says. Mackenzie’s mood swings, she says, are typically intense: “from happy as can be to a pile on the floor — screaming that life is unfair and we hate him — in seconds.”

Like 10 percent of all children, Mackenzie, a sweet, loving boy, is what is known as a “spirited child.” These are the kids we refer to as “challenging,” “strong-willed” or worse — traditionally they’ve been slapped with labels like “difficult” or “problem child.” Spirited children may be more intense, more persistent and more energetic than average. “These kids live life bigger and bolder than other kids,” says Michael Popkin, author of Taming the Spirited Child. This can mean they’re enthusiastic and determined. But when they’re little, this temperament often translates into behaviour that’s frustrating for parents — for example, a baby who screams when you don’t hold him, a toddler who never sits still, or a preschooler who falls to pieces because her sandwich was cut into triangles instead of diamonds.

“It’s natural for a parent to wonder: ‘Did I do something to make him act that way?’ But parents need to know it’s not their fault that their child is spirited,” says Sara King, a child psychologist at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax. “It’s just the way that genetics and environment mix up in that particular child.”

Parents of spirited kids can learn how to manage this temperament. And as your child gets more independent, he’ll start doing these tricks to help himself. “Right now it’s driving you crazy,” says Popkin. “But if that child learns to use those traits constructively, they’ll be real assets for the child in the future.”

Energy

Spirited kids seem to have extra batteries. They’re hands-on involved with what’s going on around them. When my spirited daughter was younger, it was a Herculean effort to get her to sit for long at the dinner table, and even as she tried to settle in bed, her legs kept moving.

Why it’s a good thing This is a child who’s brimming with energy, is curious about the world and may be driven to excel in sports.

What to do “I’m a great believer in letting your kids play outside in the backyard,” says King. “Let them go to a space where it’s OK to be running around and burning off that energy.” Make sure it’s safe. You can also enrol your child in soccer, karate or hockey, providing him with a positive outlet for his high activity level.

Of course, there are times when even busy children are going to have to sit still. Calgary parent educator Celia Osenton says it helps to give your kid frequent breaks to move about. “Do things in small blocks,” she says. Suggest that the teacher give your child excuses to be mobile, picking him to hand out papers or collect the crayons. At the supper table, he can be the designated gofer if someone wants more milk or needs something from the kitchen.

What not to do Don’t set your child up for failure. If you know his energy is off the charts, don’t expect him to sit through a four-hour car trip without frequent stops, or walk sedately by your side in the grocery store. It just ain’t gonna happen.

(To read more, follow the link below…)

http://www.todaysparent.com/kids/preschool/how-to-raise-an-overactive-child/

What does “Vestibular” mean? By Claire Heffron

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The vestibular sense has to do with balance and movement and is centered in the inner ear.  Each of us has vestibular organs located deep inside our ears. When we move our heads, the fluid in these organs moves and shifts, constantly providing us with information about the position of our heads and bodies in space (spatial awareness). This sense allows us to maintain our balance and to experience gravitational security: confidence that we can maintain a position without falling.  The vestibular system allows us to move smoothly and efficiently. It also works right alongside all of our other sensory systems, helping us use our eyes effectively and process sounds in our environment. Overall, vestibular processing helps us feel confident moving and interacting with our surroundings.

A HEALTHY VESTIBULAR SYSTEM
When our vestibular sense is fully functioning, we are secure and organized enough in our bodies to be able to attend and respond to all of the other senses we encounter daily.  A child with a well-developed vestibular sense feels confident and safe during movement activities, even if his feet are off the ground.  He is able to start and stop movement activities calmly and with control.  He is comfortable with climbing, swinging, somersaulting, and jumping – knowing that his body will adapt and that he will be able to maintain his balance and keep himself from falling or getting hurt.

PROBLEMS WITH VESTIBULAR PROCESSING
A healthy vestibular system is central to the integration of the other sensory systems.  When a child’s vestibular system is not functioning correctly, he may be under responsive or overly sensitive to movement. He may either need to move constantly to feel satisfied or he may be fearful of movement, because it makes him feel insecure and unbalanced. He may move in an uncoordinated, clumsy manner, bumping into things, falling, and never fully walking or sitting in an upright manner. This is the child that slouches at his desk or is constantly being directed to “stand up straight” or “quit leaning on the wall!”  He may appear weak or “floppy.” As a result, he might have difficulty coordinating and planning motor tasks such as jumping jacks, skipping, catching a ball with two hands, or reaching across the center of his body (crossing midline), or even coordinating movements of the mouth, resulting in difficulty with speech production.  Vision is closely related to the vestibular system. When we feel balanced and centered, our eyes can move smoothly and steadily and are able to focus, track, and discriminate between objects in our environment. Difficulty with tasks that require the eyes to move left to right (e.g. reading) or up and down repeatedly (e.g. copying information from the board) may be signs of a disrupted vestibular system.

 

Read more at:

http://theinspiredtreehouse.com/vestibular/   (Continues this article on a great blog, The Inspired Tree House).

http://lemonlimeadventures.com/vestibular-input-sensory-processing/    (An article by Dayna, a preschool educator and mother whose son has SPD, Sensory Processing Disorder, on her wonderful blog, Lemon Lime Adventures).

10 Things Every Child Needs in the Backyard, by Nicolette from Michigan, USA

 

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Even though it was -18 today in Michigan, I’m already planning things to add to my daughter’s outdoor play area. Don’t get me wrong, we’re loving our time outside this winter, but I can’t help but dream of the muddy days to come.

Designing a children’s outdoor play space doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, I’m trying to make a real effort on the blog to include easier, natural activities.

Also, if you live in an urban environment with no backyard, a lot of these can be found/done at your local park or community garden! Here are ten things that can make a child’s outdoor play space all that more special:

1. A Secret Place

Kids need somewhere they can breath, be alone and feel free. What makes a place secret? Make it their size, construct “walls” and have it in a slightly obscured location. Whether it’s a clubhouse or just a sheet draped over some some tree limbs, the main idea is to prompt them to create a world of their own.

Kids outside secret fort made out of sticks

More Great Ideas:

2. A Water Feature

Where there is water, there is fun. Enough said.

Homemade water wall outdoor kids play area

More Great Ideas:….

 

(Follow the link below to read more on Nicolette’s blog, Wilderchild).

http://wilderchild.com/10-things-every-childs-backyard/