COUNTRY FUN

an early education learning space ~ where play equals learning

June 28, 2016
by countryfun
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Insect Safety Tips

Passing along this fact and tip sheet from PHILADELPHIA INSURANCE & ASSURE CHILD CARE’s monthly information sheet for child care programs they insure. With all the outside time the children get here and at home thought the resources here were good to pass along.

INSECT SAFETY

Every year, anaphylaxis (or severe allergic reaction) to insect bites or stings cause over 40 deaths, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.  Some insects carry pathogens that can cause serious diseases, such as West Nile Virus, Lyme Disease, Dengue Fever, and the plague.  And, while the vast majority of insect bites and stings will not cause anaphylaxis or serious disease, they can commonly result in tissue swelling, itching, dermatitis, pain/burning, infections, lesions, or dermatitis.  Your best defense is to know the facts and take appropriate action.

Insect Safety Tips:

1)     Be age appropriate – The Food and Drug Administration recommends to not use DEET on children under 2 months and not to use picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus for children under 3 years. The Mayo Clinic and the American Academy of Pediatrics has similar recommendations. 

Fact: The most common insect repellant ingredients are DEET, Picaridin (KBR 3023) and oil of lemon eucalyptus

http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/EmergencyPreparedness/ucm085277.htm

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/Pages/Insect-Repellents.aspx

2)     Ask about allergies – Your application and interview process with a child’s parent/guardian should include questions about allergies, and especially any allergies that can cause anaphylaxis.  If a child is at risk, know their triggers and be prepared with a dose of epinephrine (adrenaline), if agreed to and supplied by the parent or guardian.http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anaphylaxis/basics/tests-diagnosis/con-20014324

3)     Know the symptoms – A child with a severe allergic reaction to a bite or sting may have the following symptoms: difficulty breathing, dizziness, nausea, large skin areas of itching or hives, excessive sweating, swelling of their tongue or throat, loss of consciousness.  http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide/anaphylaxis

4)     Treat anaphylaxis immediately: If you believe a child is having an anaphylactic reaction, call 911 and take whatever steps you have pre-planned with their parent/guardian. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anaphylaxis/basics/treatment/con-20014324

5)     Avoid insect habitats – Ticks commonly live in overgrown grassy and bushy areas. Avoid these areas (including your pets) and cut back vegetation around your home.

Fact: Tick bites account for up to 30,000 cases of Lyme Disease in the U.S. each year

         Remove standing water around your home where mosquitos can breed. 

Fact: In general, mosquitos will bite anytime. Mosquito bites have caused over 30,000 people in the U.S. to become ill with the West Nile virus since 1999. Those carrying the West Nile Virus bite mainly from dusk through to dawn.

         Watch for bees and wasp/hornets nests and keep children safely away.

http://www.safe-wise.com/downloads/lymefac.pdf

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mosquito-bites/basics/prevention/con-20032350

6)     Avoid fragrant soaps – Highly aromatic soaps and perfumes can attract unwanted insects.  http://www.rd.com/health/wellness/6-tips-for-avoiding-insect-bites-stings/

mosquito_bites_relieve_naturally_n7)     Use first aid – For insect bites and stings that don’t involve anaphylaxis, take appropriate first aid, based on the type of bite or sting. 

http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/wound-care-10/bugbites?page=1

http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2010-117/

June 27, 2016
by countryfun
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What will children need to succeed in the future?

What do we feel students would need to succeed in the world of the future?

This interesting question was raised at training I attended for Adult Educators. Those present acknowledged that the only constant in education at this time and for the future is change.

On the way home I got thinking about this question in regards to the children, your children, that I work with. What did I see as their needs to succeed in the future? Also what do you as parents feel they will need to succeed? Then the next question is how do we work to meet these needs.

I believe all children will need the basics of education, but even more they will need the ability to communicate, an imagination, a willingness to explore, and a sense of self.

  • I do not think of communication as only verbal. There are many ways that we communicate  (written, sign, artistic, listening) and we need to be open to encouraging all areas, but especially the mode that best fits the ability of the child.
  • DSC07099I believe that without an imagination a child will struggle to learn. An imagination allows a child to think out of the box, problem solve, and be independent.
  • A willingness to explore to me means they are not afraid of making mistakes or failing at new things. They will ask questions, not necessarily excepting what just is or has been. There will be a flexibility to how they work and handle events that occur.
  • A sense of self is just that. They will understand their individual skills or strengths. They will accept their weaknesses and in doing so will find ways to work around them. They will develop that self confidence that will allow them to challenge themselves.

I am very interested in what you see them needing in the future that awaits them. This world  is changing so quickly, we cannot even imagine what the jobs of their future will be.

June 22, 2016
by countryfun
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Control in Picking Up

What is control? What is the value of having said “control”?

I originally posted on this in 2011, but find it’s a good topic to repost on. When working with young children I think it’s always good practice to reflect on what we expect and the why. That’s easier to do on planning activities, but what about “clean-up”.

Reflecting on what could I have done differently in planning activities for the day I think about the interactions between the children and myself, what materials were being used, time spent on activities, questions asked, expanded learning opportunities, and where it all fits with development. I questioned if they would have benefited by bringing in other materials? Maybe more controlled movement activities? More quiet play?…. Where I believe that children learn best through their own directed play, did I honored what they were requesting?

These questions have been my guide for years. However, one night as I’m thinking things through while picking up the play space I started thinking down another avenue. Toys were scattered around everywhere. In picking up I caught myself reorganizing even what they had picked up before leaving. I stopped myself.

Why was I reorganizing these toys?

They were in baskets and off the floor, what value was there to being in baskets sorted into like items? What was important here – picked up as I asked or in the “right” basket as I defined “right”?

I want the children here to develop responsibility on all levels and part of that is taking care of the toys and materials used during our days. I provide ways and places for this organization to occur that I think make sense, are easy to use and kid friendly. Do I also need it organized like I would? The answer is no.

What I realized then and continue to believe is that it’s important that they picked up, but they do not care that they are mixed together. So who is it that cares if the musical instruments are in with the kitchen tools? I realized I don’t. All those times I reorganized those baskets – no more. The toys will be played with tomorrow, mixed together in a totally different way by happy involved children. That is what is important to me.

I think this response gives control where it needs to be. I want a clean, safe space with children taking responsibility. They will follow through on that – just picking up and placing in the closest basket, because more isn’t important to them at this developmental stage.

These are the types of questions we need to ask ourselves when interacting with young children as teachers and parents. What is the purpose of our requests of them – pick up, wear certain clothes, follow rules, etc.? Our answers will all be different. Through raising my own children and over 28 years in child care I have often said “pick your battles”. Children need to have opportunities to “control” their environment and personal choices. How can I offer these opportunities?

No more sorting of the general toy baskets for me, but playdough will not be allowed in the table drawers. It does need to be put away in it’s lidded containers. :)

June 7, 2016
by countryfun
Comments Off on Anyone Want to Make a Mess?

Anyone Want to Make a Mess?

All I have to do is ask if “anyone wants to make a mess?” and my young group comes running.

2016_06_07_IMG_0171The seed boxes for our mixed lettuce and kale germinated so well that we have a lot of leggy seedlings. Not the greatest for planting out directly into the garden, so we needed to thin them out and repot in 6 packs. (For “we” I mean “me” for the actual repotting. These seedlings are needed for food this summer and fall. Little hands love to help, but are not always gentle.)

2016_06_07_IMG_0172Thinning lettuce is a perfectly messy inside activity for a rainy day. (Kale is more pull up and replant, so no real mess.) Doing this inside means my young learners can get their hands into the dirt for a different purpose, put magnifying tools to work, ask lots of questions, and explore a plant’s structure (Roots on a lettuce seedling are many and easy to explore.),2016_06_07_IMG_0175 all while coming and going throughout their morning play.

Seedlings into the 6-packs and ready to head back under the grow lights. We’ll be monitoring to see how they do. A good bit of counting: 1 tray, 6 packs in 1 tray with 1 pack left over, 1 seedling per cell. 7 x 6 means we have a lot to count. 42 seedlings repotted.

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Then it was time to pick up our mess and get ready for lunch.

It also means we have fresh mini/micro greens for our lunch salad after pinching off the roots, rinsing and spinning dry. Spinning vegetables dry is always fun, great muscle work and allows for natural exploration of centrifugal force. 2016_06_07_IMG_0176(The roots were added to the compost pail.)

May 23, 2016
by countryfun
Comments Off on 2016 Garden Off to Good Start…….

2016 Garden Off to Good Start…….

Last year I received a grant from Opportunity Alliance for extending the gardening season. With it we built a seedling grow station, a small hoop house and purchased row covering materials. We also purchased materials for supporting a lot of tomato plants. Everything except the hoop house worked as hoped for last year. The hoop house didn’t take us through the winter as hoped, but it did lengthen the season some. This year I changed up the usage of these materials some to really support growing our own food source and not just experimenting.

Decided to grow only seedlings we had success with last year and ate: cabbages, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squashes, kale, lettuce and herbs. I’ll support our local farmers with some seedling purchases of broccoli, brussels sprouts, and early crop of lettuce.

2016Garden

Some seeds were early into the garden and sprouting under row cover. Our warmer weather seedlings are hardening off outside during the day and in at night this week. They’ll make their way into the garden shortly, as frost date is past and warmer regular weather. Also have a good variety of seeds that like the warmer soil and onion sets to get in the ground. The onion sets and larger seeds are very small hand friendly for my young planting helpers. The herbs are into the hoop house this year to see if we can lengthen their harvesting season.

We also have last year’s leaves to mulch the rows with, mixing in newspaper we’ve recycled and been using for scissor practice.

Gardening with children of any age offers so many learning opportunities. At the preschool age the following indicator areas of the Maine Early Learning Developmental Standards (MELDS) are supported:

  • Emotional Development – self concept, self-regulation
  • Social Development – building relationships with adults
  • Approaches to Learning – initiative & curiosity, engagement & persistence
  • Early Language and Litaracy – comprehension & collaboration, presentation of knowledge & ideas, vocabulary acquisition & use, integration of knowledge & ideas, research to build & present knowledge-writing
  • Physical Development and Health – nutrition, fine motor, gross motor,physical health status
  • Math – mathematical practices, counting & cardinality, operations and algebraic thinking, geometry, measurement & data
  • Science – earth science, life science
  • Social Studies – civics and government, economics, geography, history

May 16, 2016
by countryfun
Comments Off on It’s Rhubarb Time!

It’s Rhubarb Time!

We’re back in the garden! Harvesting from the rhubarb bed has started. That means lots of kitchen time with the children here. We’re using some of our favorite recipes which you can find in postings on Countryfun is Cooking. Just search “rhubarb”.

This morning we made the Rhubarb Muffins to have for our afternoon snack.  A quick, easy and tasty recipe that also freezes well.

I enjoy being in the kitchen with the children. So many learning opportunities and there is usually something unexpected. Let’s start with Reading – idea of written directions in a recipe, names on ingredient containers, alphabet identification

Team work – gathering of materials, positioning to watch and help, working with peers and adult

Language – ingredients, tools, techniques, questions raised and answers provided

2016_05_16_IMG_0110

Math, science and social studies –  measuring ingredients and counting. We also compare measuring tools and talk fractions. Smell for vinegar and vanilla. Taste brown sugar.

Where do eggs come from? Love getting the store as an answer:) More discussion on eggs coming from chickens with the farmer bringing to the store. Even better answer of “Ducks!”

More science as oil and milk blend. Then brown sugar dissolving in liquid. Flour going from dry to wet as we mix ingredients together and finally the baking. More math when we set oven temp and time the baking.

2016_05_16_IMG_0114

Did you notice we used 3 different sized spoons in today’s baking? One of the children did. Thankfully he commented on the difference size handles, so I could take advantage of the observation for more learning. So of course we had a closer comparison of the 3 spoons for bowl size, handle length and a discussion on why they worked better for the reasons used for today. Largest for mixing. Middle for scooping dough for muffins. Smallest for scraping dough off scooping spoon.

2016_05_16_IMG_0113

Last counting for this morning equaled 24. The recipe made 2 dozen muffins loaded with rhubarb – one very healthy and underused early spring vegetable.

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April 12, 2016
by countryfun
Comments Off on Enchilada Casserole… A New Experience…

Enchilada Casserole… A New Experience…

For me part of providing nutritious meals and healthy eating habits is to be continually exposing the children to both new foods and old foods in new ways. That means I’m always reviewing recipes and reading ideas for adapting to gain more nutrition. I especially like finding meatless meals. This is one place I find Pinterest to be extremely helpful. There is so much variety out there and individuals willing to share their knowledge.

Today’s recipe is from Julia’s Album – Black Bean and Butternut Squash Enchilada Casserole.

  • I have never cooked enchiladas before in any form, so for me the sauce was a new experience.
  • IMG_0826This recipe used up the last of the butternut squash from last season’s garden. (A good nutritional add and reason to try the recipe. Wonder if pumpkin would work well or pureed butternut squash? Also think could have added spinach or kale.)
  • Still enjoying the onions that we grow, harvested, and braided up to cure. (Will definitely be seeing a good planting of them again this year.)
  • No extra salt or pepper, but did use a couple of the hot peppers from last year’s garden that we had frozen. (I never cook with black pepper and try to cut down salt whenever I can. With the chili powder, cumin and added hot pepper didn’t need the salt. I also rinse any canned beans and vegetables before using to cut down salt.)
  • Substituted homemade yogurt for the sour cream. (I strained my yogurt to get a thicker product that works for greek yogurt or sour cream in most recipes. The strained liquid I save and use for baked goods.)

What I found was this recipe was easy to follow, simple to make, budget friendly and tasty. Will definitely make again.

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