Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Turkey Thursday Crafts

Decorating your home for Thanksgiving always helps to make the spirit of the holiday come alive; kids love to help decorate as well!  Make some time for your little ones with these great crafts ideas and let them know that their ideas count, too!

From Pilgrim Pals and Garland of Gratitude, to the adorable hats of the Make-Your-Own-Hat Station, these simple crafts are sure to keep your children entertained and make them proud of their creativity.  Head over to the source for all of the crafts ideas and instructions!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Vegan Pumpkin Nut Muffins

Cooking vegan/vegetarian food for Thanksgiving is not as difficult as it once was. And in some cases, like this  delicious recipe, the recipes are better than conventional ones!
This recipe is courtesy of Doron Petersan, of Sticky Fingers Sweets and Eats.


1/3 c non hydrogenated vegan margarine
2/3 c sugar
3/4 c canned pumpkin
1 t vanilla
1/2 c non dairy milk
1/4 c oil
2 T water
1 T molasses
1 1/4 c all purpose flour
1 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t ground ginger
1/4 t salt
1/2 c toasted pumpkin seeds
1/2 c walnuts, toasted and chopped


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a muffin tin with liners.
In a mixer, cream margarine and sugar with paddle attachment.
Scrape the bottom of the bowl down and add pumpkin. Mix.
In a small bowl, whisk together the vanilla, oil, soymilk, water, and molasses. Add to the sugar mixture and mix until combined.
In a large bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.
Add to the wet ingredients until just mixed. Do not over mix. Fold in the pumpkin seeds and walnuts, by hand.
Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.
Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of each muffin comes out clean.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Halloween Costume Ideas for Families

Infant Angry Birds Costume

Halloween is truly a family event, and what better way to celebrate than with themed 
costumes for the family! When your children are small, they will enjoy dressing up to match mom and dad. That won't be the case for long, parents, so enjoy it while you can!

Spirit of Halloween Alvin Costume

Here are some ideas for themed Halloween costumes:

  • Angry Birds
  • Raggedy Ann and Andy
  • Madagascar 
  • Toy Story
  • Crayolas
  • Peanuts
  • Sesame Street
  • the 60s
  • Scooby Doo
  • Star Wars
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Grease
  • A-Team
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks (and Chippettes!)
  • Barbie, Ken, Skipper, etc
  • Tetris Blocks
  • Beekeepers and bees
  • Pac Man and Ghosts
  • Fly Swatter and Flies
  • Care Bears
  • any of your family's favorite movies, games, or books!
Tetris Family Costume
Have some ideas for a great family costume?  Leave them in the comments below!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Tips on how to prepare your preschooler for swim lessons

With all of the fun pool parties, vacations, and fun at lake, learning how to swim and stay safe in the water is important for all young children.  Though parents want for their children to learn how to swim, we find that some children can be nervous about participating in swim lessons due to fear of water or even fear of becoming hurt in the pool.

So how can we help young children to overcome a fear of water and swimming?  Here are some tips from our school swim instructors.

1. Consider taking your child to meet the instructor and take a look around at the swimming facility prior the first lesson.

2. Do your research! Children love seeing examples of the skills they will be learning! Pull out some video examples of the professional swimmers, or visit a swim lesson.

3. Bring a friend or two! Children feel successful in water sports when they feel like they belong. We find that children are comfortable and succeed when a friend is participating along with the child.

If you would like to learn more about swim instruction and would like to speak to our swim instruction team, please call 512-795-8300.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Let's Make a Pinhole Camera!

Ever wonder how pinhole photography works and how to make a pinhole camera? Highlights Magazine has a simple to follow tutorial. 
Here's what you will need to do to get started!
Start with an empty cardboard box. A round oatmeal box works well. Punch a hole in the center of the bottom by pushing a pencil through it.
Now place a piece of waxed paper over the open end of the box and hold it there with tape or a rubber band. Your pinhole camera is complete.
Sit in a dim room that has a bright object in it, such as a lamp or a window that lets in daylight. Lay a blanket over your head and the pinhole camera.
Hold the camera at arm's length, with the waxed paper toward you and the punched-out hole sticking out from under the blanket. Point the camera at the bright object. On the surface of the waxed paper, you will see a picture of the object—backward and upside down.
A real camera uses the same principle as your pinhole camera except that a real one does the job better. A real camera holds a piece of film instead of waxed paper. That film is coated with chemicals that are changed by light. They make the image into a lasting picture.
In a real camera, the lens does the same kind of job as the little hole—it forms a backward, upside-down image. But the lens lets in a lot more light so the film can do its work quickly. Have fun!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Homemade Lemonade....yes please!

Our school lemonade stand has us thinking of cold lemonade!

Here's a fantastic recipe a parent passed along to us.  Enjoy and please feel free to pass it along.

64 oz (8 cups) water
1/4 cup (equivalent of two lemons) lemon juice
8 scoops (1/4 tsp) pure stevia extract, (you may substitute approximately 1/2 cup of a granulated or liquid sweetener to taste.)
1.  Pour water into pitcher.
2.  Add lemon juice and stevia.
3.  If using a granulated sweetener, mix 1/2 cup water and the sweetener in a pot and heat until the sweetener is dissolved.  Then, once dissolved, add sweetener and water mix to remaining water.
4.  Stir and enjoy!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Fun Games to Play with Your Baby

Playing games with your baby helps fit the puzzles pieces together as your baby grows. Playing with your baby is vital to your baby's social, emotional, and cognitive development.  Playing with your baby will also help to improve your relationship.

So what sort of games should you play with your baby? A game can be anything. Our infant teachers have put together a book of pictures for each baby. Each picture has pictures of their family, pets, and their favorite toys. The teachers identify the pictures to the baby. A game of peek a book, hiding toys under a small soft blanket, and finger-plays are also great simple games to play with your baby.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you play games with your baby:

  • Repetition is so important for your baby. Introducing a new game might not work the first time. Practice make perfect!
  • Babies can become over stimulated. If you find that your baby cries during the game, it might be time to move on to a quiet activity such as showing your baby pictures books, singing songs, or even just cuddling with your baby. 
  • Incorporate tummy time, sitting up, and some other developmental essentials into the games. Tummy time just by itself is no fun at all but placing a toy within your baby's reach can certainly pass the time. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

How to Teach Children to Care for Pets

This month our children are learning more about animals and their habitats. We recently invited a petting zoo to our school and the teachers were so amazed with how careful our children were with handling the animals. Many of the children at our school have pets at home and have lots of opportunities to show kindness, respect, and love towards an animal. If you are thinking about getting a pet for your child, here are a few tips.

  1. Do some research about which types of pets are a good match for your child. Some pets require lots of time and attention and may not be a compatible match for your child.
  2. Make your home pet friendly. Store any chemicals in a lock cabinet and remove anything off from the floors that you wouldn't want for your pet to get into. Tie up loose cords and other objects that could potentially harm your pet. It's similar to baby proofing your home. 
  3. Educate your child about pet temperament and animal care. Many pet stores and animal shelters offer training. Talk to other people who have pets as they may offer a lot of insight. 
  4. Help to make your child's pet transition a smooth one. Your child's pet may be frighten or apprehensive at first and your child may want to play with your pet right away. Remind your child to be patient and allow time for the new pet to get use to their new environment. 
  5. Teach your child to be gentle with their new pet. This is one the most important lesson children will need to learn. A great way to teach your child to be gentle to visit friends or relatives with pets. If your child is having difficulty being gentle towards a pet, then it may not be the right time for a pet.
Teaching your child to care and love a pet is fun and a rewarding experience. It also teaches your child responsibility. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Balancing Parenthood and Work

More and more parents are finding themselves traveling for business. When parents travel for work, it may cause a disruption in the child's daily routine and sometimes lead to behavior issues because children don't necessarily understand why mom or dad is away on business. So how can you help your child cope while you are away?

 We have some ideas!

  1. Use Skype or your iPhone to connect with your family at home while you are away. While a phone call is nice, it can be comforting for your child to see your hotel and your current surroundings. This is also a great time to check in with your child about their day, discuss homework and activities.
  2. Because you are away doesn't mean your household should be put on hold. If you have the help available, continue to schedule your child's play dates, dance lessons, etc. Keeping routine in your household will actually help reduce disruption in the household and keep your child busy. 
  3. Keep ready-made meals in the freezer. Home cooked meals are the staple in any household and who wouldn't appreciate a home cooked meal you can just throw in the oven?
  4. Mom and Dad need to be on the same page when either of them is away. Keep a binder with useful information such as medical records, a list of activities for each child, contact numbers of babysitters, physicians, activities, and any other information one might need.
  5. Don't forget to bring a surprise for your child when you return and set aside some "we time" with your child!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Top Preschool Book Picks

Credit to Barnes and Noble

Our children's literature month has come to an end. The children enjoyed the Usborne Book Fair, the Dr. Seuss Birthday Bash,  and the field trips to Barnes and Noble. The children were exposed to so many wonderful book titles and here are some of their favorites.

We Are in a Book by Mo Willems

Gerald is careful. Piggie is not. Piggie cannot help smiling.  Gerald can. Gerald and Piggie are best friends. In We Are in a Book!, Gerald and Piggie discover the joy of being read but what will happen when the book ends?

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

The bear's hat is gone, and he wants it back. Patiently and politely, he asks the animals he comes across, one by one, whether they have seen it. Each animal says no, some more elaborately than others. But just as the bear begins to despond, a deer comes by and asks a simple question that sparks the bear's memory and renews his search with a vengeance.  Told completely in dialogue,  this delicious take on the classic repetitive  plays out in sly illustration laced with visual humor--and winks at the reader with a wry irreverence that will have kids of all ages thrilled to be in on the joke. 

Press Here by Herve Tullet

Press the yellow dot on the cover of this book, follow the instructions within, and embark upon a magical journey! Each page of this surprising book instructs the reader to press the dots, shake the pages, tilt the book, and who knows what will happen next! Children and adults alike will giggle with delight as the dots multiply, change direction, and grow in size! Especially remarkable because the adventure occurs on the flat surface of the simple, printed page, this unique picture book about the power of imagination and interactivity will provide read-aloud fun for all ages!

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

When Floyd's kite gets stuck in a tree, he's determined to get it out. But how? Well, by knocking it down with his shoe, of course. But strangely enough, it too gets stuck and the logical course of action is to throw his other shoe.  Only now it's stuck! Surely there must be something he can use to get his kite unstuck. An orangutan? A boat? His front door? Yes, yes, and yes. And that's only the beginning.

Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton

George is a dog with all the best intentions and his owner, Harry, has all the best hopes that George will be a well-behaved dog when he leaves him alone for the day. When George spies a delicious cake sitting on the kitchen tabel, his resolve starts to waver. You see, George loves cake. It's so hard to be a good dog when there are cats to chase and flowers to dig up! What will Harry say when he gets back?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Introducing Scissors to Young Children

We often are asked at what age is it appropriate to introduce scissors to young children.  We believe it is appropriate to introduce scissors to children age 2 1/2 and older under close supervision.  Introducing scissors will encourage your child to use the tiny muscles in his/her hand since they will need to open and close their hand.  These are also the same muscles needed to hold a pencil, hold a tooth brush, and assist in gripping objects.  Using scissors also helps your child with their hand and eye coordination. Hand and eye coordination helps children to self-feed, throw a ball, and even put a puzzle together.

So you are ready to introduce scissors to your child. Where and how do you introduce this new skill set? We find that Fiskars scissors would make a great first pair of scissors. Allow your child to hold a pair of scissors and provide your child with guidelines about what is acceptable to cut (paper) and what is not acceptable to cut (anything that isn't paper.)  Encourage your child to open and close their hands using the scissors. Our school coordinators recommend that your child start by snipping the ends of a piece of paper. Once your child is proficient with snipping at the ends of a paper, encourage your child to cut through a piece of paper.
When your child is comfortable enough with cutting through pieces of paper, challenge your child by drawing a dark 1/2" line onto a piece of paper. Practice makes perfect! Happy scissor cutting!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Kale Chips!

Kale Chips

Kale chips are quickly becoming a staple on grocery store shelves. With this simple recipe, you can make your own. They are quick, easy and nutritious! Try adding cinnamon, or dressing mixes to kick up the flavor a bit.

Kale Chips
1 bunch kale
canola or olive oil, for cooking
good-quality coarse salt
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Wash kale and dry it in a salad spinner or between tea towels. (Extra moisture will keep them from getting nice and crispy.) Cut or pull out the tough stems, tear the leaves into chip-sized pieces and spread out on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and toss with your hands to coat well; arrange in a single layer and sprinkle with salt.
Roast for about 10 minutes, until crispy and starting to turn brown on the edges, but not too dark. Serve immediately or cool completely and store in an airtight container until ready to serve. Serves 6.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tips for Better Photo Shoots

Spring is (Almost) Here!

Tips for Surviving A Photo with Your Kids

Spring is here and we all want those cute shots with the Easter Bunny or in the wildflowers... but we also all know that those photo shoots can end in tears and tantrums for both parents and kids. Here are some tips to make it a little easier on all of you!
Thanks to Making the World Cuter for these great tips!

  • When choosing a time with a photographer, or a time to photograph your children yourself, make sure you work it around your childs nap and feeding schedules. If you try to cram a session in before nap or meal time you are setting yourself up for a cranky little one.Try and plan for photos immediately after nap time and directly after a good feeding. Well rested and well fed kids are happier and more cooperative.
  • Try not to talk to your child about your upcoming session in details for days on end. While picture day can be exciting, it can also be stressful and kids can get worked up with the antipcation of a big event. Mention it once or twice so they are prepared and then leave it alone until the day of the session. When picture day rolls around, remind them that photos are fun and that it’s not a huge production that they need to be nervous about.
  • Dress accordingly. Photos aren’t something we normally have done once a month on a professional level…so make sure you’re adequately prepared for this special event. Buy a new outfit, do some extra styling with your childs hair, or incorporate fun props like hats or scarves. For mom, hire a professional makeup artist or have your hair done. Picture day is not just another day…it’s something to get dolled up for!
  • Be on time or come early. This will help ensure you have a few minutes for your child to get comfortable with your photographer. These few short moments are more important than you realize. This is helpful for adults as well. It’s just as important for you to have some time to connect with & get to know your photographer before jumping in front of their lens.
  • Stay out of your photographers way. Let your photographer call the shots and direct your little ones. Your job as a parent & subject is to look at the camera and be ready for the moment the photographer has your little one smiling. Let your photographer take charge! Part of their ability to connect with your child comes from conversing with them…so be sure to allow your little ones to answer questions and interact during your session.
  • Bring bribes & motivation. Provide incentive for your little ones to cooperate! Kids generally have a maximum cooperation time of about twenty minutes depending on age. Make the most of that time….or attempt to extend it by providing things they aren’t given every day…whether it be happy meals, treats, cash or the promise of ice cream or a small toy at the end of your session. Providing little perks along the way like snacks or candy is helpful in keeping kids motivated.
  • But most of all…have fun! Natural smiles are a result of a good time. Enjoy the time spent capturing the memories and smiles of your family! The photos resulting are what you will look back on and enjoy.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pool Safety

Pool Safety for Kids

Summer is just around the corner and with that comes outdoor and water play and all the fun and danger that comes along with that.

No matter how safe you feel your kids already are around swimming pools and spas, adding as many proven safety steps as possible is the best system because you can never know which one might save your child’s life…until it does.

The Pool Safely campaign’s educational videos and parent-child activities can teach your kids how to stay safe while having fun in a swimming pool. They have interactive videos and activities, posters and coloring sheets as well as information for parents. All free for you to use!

Here is the link to the site for more information:

Friday, January 18, 2013

Have a Budding Babysitter?

Babysitter Training

Do you have an older child who might be ready to start babysitting? Although it might seem like most of babysitting is common sense, there are some training materials that can help your child feel more comfortable and possibly handle emergency situations. If your child is going to be babysitting for other families, a class in babysitting can also boost the confidence those families will have in your child's abilities to handle whatever might come up!

SafeSitter.org is a non-profit site dedicated to babysitter training and safety.


The Red Cross offers training as well.


You can even take a class online!


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

AH-CHOO! Healthy Habits to Prevent Colds

Can you Cold-Proof Your Child?

Nope. Probably not. But you can follow a few healthy habits to maybe cold proof them a little...

Most of these tips are ones that veteran parents already know and hold dear but a refresher never hurt!

The CDC recommends the following to help prevent the spread of germs:

  • Wash your hands often. This is probably the single best measure to prevent transmission of colds. Especially after shopping, going to the gym, or spending time in public places, hand washing is critical. Frequent hand washing can destroy viruses that you have acquired from touching surfaces used by other people. You can also carry a small tube of hand sanitizer or sanitizing hand wipes when visiting public places. Teach your children the importance of hand washing too.
  • Avoid touching your face, especially the nose, mouth, and eye areas, if you are around someone with a cold or have been touching surfaces in a public area.
  • Don't smoke. Cigarette smoke can irritate the airways and increase susceptibility to colds and other infections. Even exposure to passive smoke can make you (or your children) more vulnerable to colds.
  • Use disposable items if someone in your family is infected. Disposable cups can be thrown away after each use and prevent accidental spread of the virus from sharing of cups or glasses. This is particularly important if you have young children who may try to drink from others' cups.
  • Keep household surfaces clean. Door knobs, drawer pulls, keyboards, light switches, telephones, remote controls, countertops, and sinks can all harbor viruses for hours after their use by an infected person. Wipe these surfaces frequently with soap and water or a disinfectant solution.
  • If your child has a cold, wash his or her toys as well when you are cleaning household surfaces and commonly-used items.
  • Use paper towels in the kitchen and bathroom for hand washing. Germs can live for several hours on cloth towels. Alternatively, have separate towels for each family member and provide a clean one for guests.
  • Throw tissues away after use. Used tissues are sources of virus that can contaminate any surface where they are left.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle. While there isn't direct evidence to show that eating well or exercising can prevent colds, maintenance of a healthy lifestyle, with adequate sleep, good nutrition and physical exercise can help ensure that your immune system is in good condition and ready to fight infection if it occurs.
  • Control stress. Easier said than done sometimes!Studies have shown that people experiencing emotional stress have weakened immune systems and are more likely to catch a cold than their calmer counterparts.