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Fire Prevention

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 11.44.52 AMDaily we hear fire sirens, many going to medical emergencies but way too many are en route to a home or apartment fire. Is your family prepared?

Keeping you and your family safe is a top priority and there are simple steps to take to stay safe. Preparing for emergencies such as a fire is often talked about but proper action is rarely taken. Fires can be prevented by taking time and precautions to remove the risk factors from your home or daycare.

Fire Risk Factors

Risk factors include: unattended cooking, smoking, burning candles, electrical malfunctions, and failure to maintain heating equipment and no smoke alarm.

Smoke Alarms

Every home and child care center should have smoke alarms. Approximately 3 out of 5 fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms or alarms that do not work. Smoke alarms should be placed outside all sleeping areas and on every level of the home. If you don’t have a working smoke alarm, install one now. Working smoke alarms give you early warning so you can escape quickly. Remember to check your smoke alarms monthly and replace them every 10 years.

Fire Escape Plan

Every family and child care center should have a fire escape plan. It should be practiced and children should be aware of all escape routes. Make sure to practice the plan and review it with all family members. Many people think they will have several minutes to get out after the smoke alarm sounds but in reality it is often less than 6 minutes. Once outside safely, call 911.

Tips

  • 2 out of every 5 home fires are started in the kitchen. Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries, followed by heating equipment.
  • Smoking is a leading cause of civilian home fire deaths.
  • Electrical failure or malfunctions caused an average of almost 48,000 home fires per year, resulting in roughly 450 deaths and nearly $1.5 billion in direct property damage.
  • If you have upper levels in your home, a rope ladder can be installed to use in case of emergency.
  • Always remember to put out candles and smoking materials before going to bed or leaving the home.
  • Ashes from fireplaces and woodstoves should be disposed of correctly in a metal container and away from the house. Make sure grill fires are completely out when done grilling.
  • A home inventory is also important. In case or fire, do you know what all you have in your home and its value? This is very important for insurance and replacing items.

Take time to keep your family safe by removing risk factors from your home and daily activities.

Source:  National Fire Prevention Agency

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Field Trip Fun

shutterstock_193504667.jpgPlanning an outing with your preschoolers can be an enriching experience and an opportunity for the young child to explore and learn about their world. When considering a field trip for children in child care settings, there are a few key things to keep in mind including safety, the developmental level and special needs of the child/children, and how you will prepare the child for the event.

Planning

The location of the outing should be carefully planned out ahead of time. Long distance trips in a vehicle that take children away from their daily routine and familiar surroundings for the entire day may not be appropriate for small children who can become easily overwhelmed by change. Trips to the pool might sound fun, however it may be difficult to monitor and ensure safety, depending on the size of your group. When choosing a location, try to make the event inclusive of all the children in your care, and plan for how you will include special needs children as well.

Intentional planning of field trips should also be linked to the curriculum that is centered around the children’s interests and the early learning guidelines that are established, such as those established by the Nebraska Department of Education.

Some of the child driven interests may include nature, insects, farm animals and food. Consider what is available in your local community such as a bakery, grocery store, post office, parks, a nearby farm or county fair.

Preparation

To prepare the children for the outing or trip, parents and teachers can use a variety of strategies such as sharing and reading children’s books, looking at photographs, bringing in some items that the children may encounter on the trip into the classroom (touching a sample of wool from a sheep, or trying on a fireman’s hat). At meeting or calendar time, a special symbol or picture could be placed on the calendar to indicate the day the trip will take place.

After The Field Trip

In keeping with the concept of ‘plan-do-review’, don’t forget to take pictures of the children while at the event. You can use these later to help recall the experience. Children can draw a picture and dictate to the adult what they liked or learned from the experience. Later, the pages could be compiled into a book to keep in the book or library area of the classroom to revisit. Photos are wonderful tools to communicate to parents and they can continue the learning at home.

Check out this resource from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about how to stay healthy when visiting animal exhibits like a farm or a zoo. The CDC also has great information on how to protect children from the sun.

Check out these examples of children’s books related to the farm and farm animals as well as classroom activity ideas.

Author: Lynn DeVries, Extension Educator | The Learning Child

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What’s Bugging You?

what's bugging youYoung children go through a variety of emotions every day. Sometimes they have problems relating their emotions to their behavior and all adults see… is the challenging behavior that is exhibited!

Take time to talk with your children about what is really bugging them. What has happened to them that is making them feel upset? How does their body feel when this happens?  What can they say to the other person?  How should they react?

We need to explain these feelings to our children and give them simple ideas of how to deal with their emotions. One way to teach this is by using bugs themselves.  Summer is a great time to have a lesson on bugs.  Incorporate bugs into the discussion of emotions too.  First take a large piece of paper and draw a bug right in the middle.  Title the paper with “When something is bugging me, I can say…”

Give the child plenty of ideas on what to say….. This poster can hang in their room, on the refrigerator or anywhere the child spends a lot of time. It is a constant reminder of how the child can start to regulate their own emotions and deal with conflict.

Author: Lisa Poppe, Extension Educator | The Learning Child

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Fun With Shadows

May emotions

Our friends at Still Playing School have a great idea to use shadows to teach children about their emotions.  This is a great way to play outside in the sun to learn about spatial relations and make shadows. Children can use sidewalk chalk to draw different emotion faces on the shadows. They can also learn about social cues when they move their bodies in different ways to show anger, happiness or sadness. This is a great way to begin the conversation of emotions and what they look like.  Even toddlers can get in on the fun!

Author:  Lisa Poppe, Extension Educator | The Learning Child
Image Source:  Still Playing School

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Halloween Health And Safety

iStock_000018142863SmallHow I Understand & Feel Seven months.jpgHalloween is such a fun time for both children and families! Dressing up, trick-or-treating and getting scrumptious treats is the highlight of the season. Halloween and the activities that usually surround it also present opportunities to keep in mind safety and health tips. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) – Family Health reminds us to keep these things in mind while enjoying the festivities:

  1. When trick or treating in the neighborhood, go with a group that includes friends and family.
  2. Be sure the costume is made of flame-retardant materials.
  3. Your costume/your child’s costume should fit well and not block your vision or cause you to stumble or fall.
  4. Use reflective tape or some other material that reflects lights from passing vehicles to help drivers see you in the dark.
  5. Take a flashlight along when you trick or treat.  This will help you see where you are going!
  6. At street crossings, look both ways for oncoming vehicles and cross when it is safe to do so.
  7. Visit only well-lit houses and those that you know who lives there.
  8. Inspect your treats before eating them.  Check for non-edible objects and materials.  Only accept and eat factory-wrapped treats, not homemade items.

What are you dressing or your kids dressing up as? Have a fun and safe Halloween this year!

Author: Leslie Crandall, Extension Educator | The Learning Child

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Tips For A Happy Healthy Halloween

CSpN9QGUcAAjpeY.jpgWith Halloween around the corner, grocery stores are coming out with sugary treats to hand out to the neighborhood children. Sweets such as candy and chocolate are full of sugar, high in calories, and lack many nutrients that children need. Although purchasing these sugar-filled treats may seem like the routine tradition to do on Halloween, there are other more healthful treat options to hand out to your local trick-or-treaters. Encouraging your community to have a healthy Halloween can be fun for both you and the children!

Be Creative With Food

hallloweenorangesHealthy foods, such as fruits, can be made into fun Halloween-themed treats. Mandarin orange cups or tangerines can be drawn on to look like jack-o-lantern faces. Or, decorate a the wrapper of string cheese like a ghost. These healthy treats provide fun, hands-on activities for your children!

Use Non-Food Treats

spiderringsWho said Halloween treats need to be edible? Local stores have great, non-food alternatives in bulk at the same cost as candy. Candy is there one minute and gone the next, but this list of non-food treats will bring hours of fun for children!

  • Spider rings
  • Halloween foam stickers
  • Halloween-themed pencils
  • Stretchy eyeballs
  • Plastic fangs
  • Halloween-themed erasers
  • Halloween-colored yo-yos
  • Plastic skeletons

 Be Safe

glowsticksSafety precautions should be taken on Halloween. Non-food treats such as glow sticks can provide a safety feature for children to wear while they trick-or-treat in the dark. Lip-shaped whistles are a fun way to have a child let you know they are close by.

Find Healthy Substitutions

Sugar-filled treats can be substituted for nutritious treats at a low-cost. Instead of a pack of M&M’s, hand out packs of mixed nuts. Snacks such as air-popped popcorn, pretzels, and cheese sticks make great alternatives to candy items.

Non-Food Halloween Treats at Local Stores

Walmart: 27th & Superior Street

Reward/Treat Pieces per Pack Price ($)
Stretchy Skeletons 12 0.97
Stretchy Eyeballs 6 0.97
Bat Rings 50 0.97
Foam Stickers 75 0.97
Spider Rings 50 0.97
Plastic Skeletons 12 0.97
Mini Erasers 50 0.97
Glitter Foam Stickers 50 0.97
Glow Bracelet 5 0.97
Plastic Fangs 12 0.97
Bounce Balls 12 1.97
Mini Gel Pens 12 1.97
Pencil Topper Stamps 12 1.97
Puzzle Mazes 8 1.97
Bubbles 12 1.97
Assorted pencils 28 1.97

Dollar Store: 27th & Superior St.

Reward/Treat Pieces per Pack Price ($)
Puffy Stickers 47 1
Skull Rings 50 1
Spider Rings 50 1
Assorted Pencils 50 1
Assorted Erasers 18 1
Assorted Erasers 12 1
Glow Bracelets 8 1
Assorted Stickers Varies 1
Creepy Creatures 12 1
Yo-Yos 8 1
Lip Whistles 6 1
Spin- Tops 8 1

Additional Resources & Links

This Pinterest board gives healthy ideas for Halloween fun.  

Authors: Kelsey Doerr, Jaci Foged and Dipti Dev | The Learning Child

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Culturally Responsive Teaching And Environments

Teacher with culturally diverse children

Every day is an opportunity make your classroom environment more culturally responsive! Culturally responsive teaching starts with having an affirming relationship with students and their families. This teaching respects the languages, cultures, and life experiences of your culturally and linguistically diverse children and incorporates them into your teaching. Having a positive attitude toward the cultural experiences that each child brings to the classroom can enrich a child’s learning experience and that of other students.

Personal Inventory

So how can you take your classroom to the next level to instill a greater value and understanding for various ethnic groups every day? It starts with an inventory of your attitudes and beliefs towards students that differ from you and recognizing how that can impact teaching. Some questions to consider might be:

  • What is my definition of diversity?
  • What are my perceptions of students from different racial or ethnic groups? With language or dialects different from mine? With special needs?
  • What are the sources of these perceptions (e.g., friends, relatives, television, movies)?
  • How do I respond to my students, based on these perceptions?

Engage Students and Families

Another way to start culturally responsive teaching is to get parents involved. Getting to know your culturally diverse children’s family can help you incorporate their cultural/ethnic heritage. This can be done through a parent inventory/interview to gain greater insight into the cultural heritage of your students. You might ask parents to describe the following:

  • Customs that are important to your family
  • Special foods your family eats
  • Eating and cooking utensils you use that are unique to your culture
  • Special or traditional clothing you wear
  • Which language(s) is spoken in your home?
  • Which holidays specific to your cultural heritage do you celebrate?

After taking a closer look at each child’s unique cultural experiences, you can begin to incorporate these into your classroom! This can add to your classroom and impact learning for all students.

Creating a Culturally Responsive Classroom

How can you create a culturallyshutterstock_161741426.jpg responsive environment? Start with the way you see your classroom. Here are some tips:

  • Take a look at the bulletin boards, centers, and other materials where you teach. Are they reflective of the diversity that exists in your classroom?
  • Check out the photos you use. Do they reflect diversity? Make sure they include a balance of various cultures, males and females, and people with special needs. Be certain to include people in non-traditional roles for example, you might have a photo of a female fire fighter.
  • Do your play centers reflect different cultures? In a kitchen play center you want to incorporate eating utensils and foods that reflect the cultures you have in your classroom. For example: chopsticks, tortillas, nan, etc. In your dress-up area, include clothing from other cultures for children to try on.
  • Music from different cultures is also a nice addition to the classroom. Have children be exposed to music they may not hear at home from different countries around the world. In a music center, adding musical instruments like rain sticks, chimes, and bongo drums let children express themselves.
  • Try labeling everything in two languages or make your classroom reflect the languages of all the children you teach. Labeling things in English and Spanish for Hispanic Heritage Month is a great place to start. You might want to get parent volunteers to assist you in this task which is a great way to engage parents in your classroom.

Do you have any great tips to make your classroom more culturally responsive? If so, we would love to know in the comments below!

Author:  Jackie Guzman, Extension Educator | The Learning Child

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Children’s Books For Hispanic Heritage Month

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National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated September 15th to October 15th! This month celebrates the cultures and contributions of Latino Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. September 15th is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. While Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18.

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month try reading these great children’s books:

The Barking Mouse book

The Barking Mouse by Antonio Sacre. This is a Cuban folktale retold by Antonio Sacre is about the value of being bilingual.

I Love Saturdays Y Domingos

I Love Saturdays y Domingos by Alma Flor Ada. Sat­ur­days and Sun­days are very spe­cial days for the child in this story. On Sat­ur­days, she vis­its Grandma and Grandpa, who come from a European-American back­ground, and on Sundays (los domingos) she visits Abuelito y Abuelita, who are Mexican-American. While the two sets of grand­par­ents are dif­fer­ent in many ways, they also have a great deal in common–in par­tic­u­lar, their love for their granddaughter.

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Round is a Tortilla by Roseanne Greenfield Thong.  A little girl discovers that shapes are all around her. They are part of her culture and the food she eats, games she plays, and objects in her room and around her town. Everywhere she looks, she sees shapes!

Green Is a Chile Pepper book

Green is a Chile Pepper by Roseanne Greenfield Thong.  A little girl discovers all the bright colors in her Hispanic American neighborhood.

AUTHOR:  JACKIE GUZMAN, EXTENSION EDUCATOR | THE LEARNING CHILD

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Superhero Exploration

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 1.53.02 PM.pngMany parents may overlook superheroes teaching their children about life lessons. However, Sarah Erdman and Meredith Downing, prove otherwise with one of their articles. Children can learn a lot from superheroes; it all depends on how you direct the teachings.

One of the first thing that you can incorporate with superheroes is creativity. Children should be encouraged to think on what they would want to be as a superhero, including their powers and their backstory. It improves your child’s creative thinking and helps them learn how to explore options.

Along with developing exploration and creative thinking, it makes children think moreczhwdgtugaafkwg in-depth on more than just the how the superheroes save the day, but why do they do what they do? Superheroes do not always get the recognition for their work in helping others, but they continue to do it—and enjoy it. Opening children’s minds to this way of thinking will help them look for everyday superheroes and may inspire them to be one themselves
There are several projects that can teach children about real-life topics while involving superpowers.

Click here to read Erdman and Downing’s projects along with other details about teaching children with superheroes.

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What Will You Do To Be The Preferred Parent In Divorce?

rulesetting.jpgMore and more Nebraska families with children are single-parent families. According to the 2014 Kids Count Report, “one of the most troubling trends for child well-being is the steady decline in the percentage of children living with two married parents.” 2013 data indicates, 131,000 or 30% of Nebraska children lived in single parent homes. In 2012, nationally, 35 percent of children were living with a single parent, with about half of all children spending a portion of their childhood in a single-parent home.

It is natural when single parents are hurting, to want to be the parent who the children prefers to be with. Children learn quickly which parent will say “yes” and which parent will say “no” to specific requests. It is easy for children to create “competition” between parents about who will provide the most things or which parent will lighten up on the rules in order to be “the preferred parent.” During divorce and custody, parents typically have less time to spend with their children and less money to buy children the things they need and or want.

For these reasons co-parents want to give children additional gifts, stretch the rules and plan special experiences. It is typical for one parent to have more discretionary income than the other. When parents try to gain their child’s love by providing stuff, entertainment, and unjustified privileges children may become manipulative and feel entitled. Here are a few strategies which create cooperation in which the children and parents both benefit.

  • Come up with an agreement with the other parent about how much stuff children really need. Flexibility is also important.
  • If one parent, or possibly grandparents are able to provide “the extras” such as violin lessons and soccer shoes, the co-parent can “reframe” and feel grateful rather than feeling inadequate.
  • It is OK to say “It is not in my budget” in a kind way which lets the kids know you are appreciative about what the other parent is able to provide.
  • Plan family time to communicate and teach life skills. These may include family meals, homework, household chores, pick-up basketball games or going to the park.
  • Provide the “extras” such as a new bicycle or a concert ticket on special occasions. This will create special memories, and minimize the sense of entitlement.
  • Set at least 6 rules that both homes will stick to so there is consistence between houses. The more guidelines or rules that both houses can agree on, the easier it will be for both parents as well as children.

Continue to strive for cooperative relationships with your co-parent to best meet the unique needs of each of your children. It’s not easy, however it is worth it.

Click here for additional information about creating peaceful solutions for children and parents who are experiencing divorce, separation or custody transitions.

Gail Brand, Extension Educator | The Learning Child

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