Monday, June 29, 2009

Barrels of Fun with this Simple Toy!

Stack N Sort Barrels by Guidecraft is a simple, classic toy that really took me by surprise when I gave it to my kids! They absolutely LOVE it! I mean LOVE it! Try to take it away...I dare you! My twins are 22 months old and they already have stacking cups but they especially love the barrels because there is extended play value: 1. They can match the colors together to make the barrels. 2. They can nest the barrels together much like russian nesting dolls. 3. They can stack the barrels. 4. They can nest and sort the barrel pieces. 5. Also, because they are plastic they are great fun for water and sand play as well. Each barrel has a few small holes in it so my kids love watching the water and sand slowly fall through. 6. They can even hide objects under the barrel pieces and try to remember where they put them. It's a great price too! On sale now for only $5.88. A great play value! For 19 months and up

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summer is a Child's Opportunity to Learn

by Karen Sieber, For most children, summer is a time to leave classes and homework behind. However, when they return to school in the fall after the long summer break, students can find themselves struggling to catch up. Skills and knowledge gained throughout the school year fade during the summer months. Loss of content retention begins within 24 to 48 hours of learning unless the new information is reinforced or applied immediately. After a month without reinforcement, approximately 80 percent of what a student has recently learned can be lost. A break from school is great for recharging your children's batteries, but if they are not using their skills and knowledge that was learned in the classroom, they could find themselves lagging behind when school starts up again. For children who have been struggling at school, summer can be their opportunity to catch-up on key skills and feel more confident when they head back to class. For students who do will, it's an opportunity to keep their enthusiasm for learning high. Parents can play a key role in reinforcing learning on an ongoing basis. Below are some practical tips for integrating continuous learning into fun, family activities all summer long: - Read with your child: You can't start too early. You can't read too much. Reading to young children nurtures an interest in language, words and communication. For older kids, reading together can be fun and interesting. Read the books together with your children and ask questions about the plot and characters. - Search for reading activities on the Internet and create a reading list. There are an abundance of sites that provide summer reading lists for children. At , children (K-8) create personalized book lists from more than 7,000 recommended titles, take quizzes on the books they've read at school or at home, and earn prized for understanding the books they've read. The program is designed to motivate students to read more often, for longer periods of time and with greater understanding. - Plan a field trip. Plan a trip to an interesting site close to home - an historic site, a museum, the zoo etc. Research the trip in advance with your child and discuss it afterwards. - Find pen pals. Encourage your child to write notes and letters to family members and friends as a way of practicing writing. - Plan a meal together. Helping mom or dad with the regular grocery shopping and meal preparation creates opportunities to use math skills such as making change, weighing fruits and vegetables, etc. - Visit the library. Libraries can recommend books appropriate for your child's reading level and interests, and many libraries offer free children's programs. - Keep a journal. Give your child an empty notebook to keep a summer journal. Regular entries will keep writing skills active. - Summer enrichment programs. There are a variety of enrichment programs available for children. Check with your local see to what is available in your area. Karen Sieber has 15 years of public education experience. She is an elementary principal and owner of Sylvan Learning in Lake Country. Please visit her site at and click on her blog to get more information and ideas on how to assist your child in his/her education throughout the school year and in the summer months.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Top 10 Tips for Creating a Great Sleeper

Follow these 10 simple guidelines to help your baby reach the "sleeping through the night" milestone. And my number one piece of advice to sleep deprived new moms is BE PATIENT. It is never too early to follow these sleep guidelines but you can't expect your baby to start sleeping 12 hour stretches until they are developmentally and physiologically ready (typically between 4 and 8 months). Also, if and when you decide to sleep train give the approach at least a week to work. 1. Got White Noise? This is must-have, especially for city-dwellers. White noise helps comfort small babies and help to cancels out household and environmental noises which may wake a sensitive sleeper. 2. Darken, Darken, Darken. The ideal level of darkness should allow you to barely see the outline of your hand. This is hard to achieve with blinds alone so we generally recommend blackout liners. 3. Clear the Clutter. The crib should be a place to sleep, not play. Clear out mobiles, electronic crib toys and the mountain of stuffed animals. If your child shares a room with others, partition off his or her crib with a hanging curtain or divider to eliminate distractions. 4. Cool It Down. The ideal temperature for sleeping is 68 – 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Take the guess work out by having a room thermometer on hand. It will help your child sleep better and longer. 5. Pick an Appropriate Bed Time. The best bedtime for babies and toddlers is between 6 – 8 p.m. Choose a time that you can commit to for the long haul. 6. Create a Calming Bedtime. A bedtime routine should not last more than 10-15 minutes (excluding bath time) and be free of television or stimulating toys. Incorporating massage time can also be a wonderful source of connection while helping to transition children into a more calming state. 7. Pick the Right Time ForSleep Teaching. Do not start sleep teaching if your child is sick, received shots within the past 48 hours, or is currently experiencing a major life transition. We also generally suggest waiting until a child is at least 4 months of age. 8. Ensure Partnership Among Parents. Both parents should agree on a sleep teaching method and understand the approach. Start sleep teaching on a night you are both at home, ideally on a weekend. 9. Take a Deep Breath. The less emotional parents can be about the sleep teaching process, the easier it will be for a child. Children looking to parents for cues, remain supportively neutral and firmly believe in your child’s ability to sleep independently. 10. Find Support if You Need To. Sleep teaching can test even the most self-assured parents. If you’ve struggled with sleep teaching for more than two weeks, look for a professional sleep coach such as Dream Team Baby. These tips were written by Dream Team Baby Sleep Consultants and were first published on - a website full of practical resources for new moms.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

10 Tips for Flying with a Baby or Young Child

Author: Paula Garrett Even the most placid child can get frustrated by the confined space of an aircraft; they just have too much energy and need to run around. Add to that the excitement of going on holiday plus the tiredness of getting up at an unsociable hour to get to the airport and you have a potential nightmare journey on your hands. If you’re flying with a baby, young child or both this holiday,careful preparations can help to organise them and relieve the boredom of a long flight. 1. For toddlers and younger children pack chewy sweets to help them cope with the ear pain of take-off and landing. Give very young children, or a baby, a pacifier to suck on or bottle of liquid to sip to help alleviate the pain. 2. Use a back pack for your cabin baggage, this frees up your hands and makes dealing with children at the airport much easier. 3. Let your young child have their own hand luggage – it makes them feel "grown up" and makes them a self-contained traveller. There are some great bags and cases available for small children, particularly the pull along trunk type which children can drag along behind them, or sit on and ride when they get tired. 4. For toddlers, pack a sippy cup for drinks on the plane – it helps to avoid spills and can be slotted alongside them on their seat for easy access. 5. Always carry a change of clothes for your baby or child in you cabin baggage. 6. If travelling with a baby or small toddler, take a collapsible pushchair / stroller right up to the boarding gate to save you carrying them. It can then be placed in the hold and returned to you as you leave the aircraft. 7. Pack some toys to keep your child amused on the plane: a cuddly toy, paper or coloring book and coloring pencils will help. Pencils are a safer and less messy alternative to felt tips which can mark the fabric of the plane. Even small toddlers, who are unable to write, appreciate the ability to scribble. An electronic game, portable DVD player or the like will help keep them amused. If you plan to take anything powered by batteries, make sure the batteries are fully charged before travel. 8. If your child is not yet toilet trained, or you’re travelling with a baby, pack plenty of diapers and wet wipes for the journey and make sure you change your baby prior to the flight. 9. Try to book a window seat for a young child, as children like watching what’s going on outside and will often be quite happy to just gaze out the window in mid flight. 10. Keep children entertained when you get to the airport by taking them to the children’s area for a run about to let off steam before being cooped up on their flight. With any luck it will tire them out and they may sleep for part of the journey. Alternatively, take them to watch the planes land and takeoff – these things are fascinating for children and will keep them occupied for some time. Although flying with young children or a baby can seem daunting, being prepared, planning ahead, and following the tips above should help make the journey less stressful leaving you relaxed to enjoy your vacation. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- About the author: Paula Garrett is a frequent traveller and contributor to, the Gatwick meet and greet parking company offering valet parking at Gatwick.
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