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I am so excited! I just heard about a new paint, that’s wonderful for the playroom! It’s called Idea Paint and it is completely erasable. You can paint the walls with it, or draw whatever you wish and then simply erase it. No more kid paintings on the wrong walls!

From the manufacturer’s site:

“Transform a child’s bedroom or playroom into a place to explore and express their creativity and imagination. Paint a toy box and make it more entertaining than everything inside of it. Use IdeaPaint to keep track of appointments, chores, shopping lists and all your important dates. IdeaPaint creates the perfect spot for the family to interact and keep up with each other’s busy lives.”

http://www.ideapaint.com

 

 

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We did this yesterday.You will need two colors of finger paint: red and green. Let your child put the red all over their hands and make “stamps”on a large sheet of paper. Then, let them put the green on their fingers and draw leaves and stems.

There are many things I like about the Waldorf philosophy of child-rearing. I love the importance of free play, the connection to nature and the simple chores for kids. I like the absence of television and the emphasis on reality-based crafts. I love the handmade dolls and the beautiful pieces of fabric , which are used as toys. I don’t agree with the theory that children should not be taught academics until they are seven years old: if my kid is interested in reading earlier, I will teach him how to read.

My favorite thing about Waldorf is its emphasis on rhythm and rituals. According to Waldorf philosophy, there is nothing as important for the child’s healthy growth and development as the work you do to maintain consistent rhythms in their lives. Noticing the change of seasons with your child is important. Noticing the times of day is important, as well. Paying attention to simple things in nature, like sunshine coming after the rain, helps your child to better connect with their inner rhythm and to tune into the world around them, which they are a part of.

The Waldorf philosophy states that a child develops a sense of self through a carefully-guided, secure and stable childhood. Keeping close ties to the natural rhythms and cycles helps your child develop a sense of well-being and certainty that the world is an understandable, safe, and predictable place. Here’s how to develop a natural rhythm in your home, according to Waldorf: Make a list of the chores and errands you do each week. Include “basic” things, like cooking and cleaning, as those present a wonderful learning opportunity to a child. Assign each errand to a specific day of the week ahead. Make your schedule and stick to it.

Here’s what we do:  ( letters and numbers are not supported by the Waldorf philosophy at an early age,but I choose to teach them, because my kid is interested)

Monday: Learn and play with numbers
Tuesday: Cook, play dough
Wednesday: Learn letters and do a craft project, involving letters
Thursday:  Field trip
Friday: Housekeeping (washing, polishing, dusting.) Watercolor painting.

We usually do the chosen daily activity in the morning an then repeat it a few times throughout the day,as a theme. If the theme is housekeeping, we dust in the morning and learn about different tools,used for cleaning, while going for our afternoon walk.

While choosing your daily schedule, the Waldorf philosophy suggests to alternate between activities of expansion and those of contraction. Reading, writing, doing crafts- all require concentration and are, therefore, contracting. Free play is expansive. This theory of expansion and contraction sounds very true to me, because I apply it to my daily yoga practice: the only way to maintain a perfect balance in the body is to even out the constant play of the expanding and the contracting forces: those of power and engagement with those of broadening and stretching. A daily schedule of alternating contracting and expanding activities gives your child time to run and play, as well as sit and learn.  Alternating between the two is the most effective way for your child to process new information.

Here’s a typical Waldorf day:
• opening verse
• daily activity
• independent play (inside)
• clean up
• circle time
• independent play (outside)
• story, puppetry, drama
• closing verse

Songs and verses are very popular with Waldorf, as they contribute to the daily rhythm. When children hear the verses, related to specific activities, the transition to these activities becomes smoother. Many verses are available in A Journey through Time in Verse and Rhyme, a book of poetry, verses for morning and evening, blessings and meditations for parents and teachers.

According to Waldorf theory, when a family gathers for their evening meal, it’s a good idea to use place mats, decorated by the kids. Dinner becomes an art project. The place mats can be drawn, sewn, knit. They can have ornaments, glued to them or you can try patchwork – most importantly they should be lovingly decorated as a family art project. Then, there should always be a candle and a prayer. If you are not religious, something like:

” Thank you, Earth, for growing our food,” is good enough.

Keeping a consistent daily and weekly schedule, simple chores and activities, outside play – are crucial tools for raising happy kids, according to the Waldorf philosophy and I wholeheartedly agree. What do you do to keep a sense of rhythm in your child’s life?

 

This post a reprint of a post by AnneMarie Colbin. The author suggests the following tips for  a healthy school year. I would take this one step further and recommend these steps year-round for happy and healthy children. Annemarie has been on the forefront of educating people on how to eat healthily through her books, articles and seminars.

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Here are my four top tips for helping your children to stay healthy and avoid illnesses in the new school year. The foods that make kids the sickest are sugar and dairy.

 

 

1. Avoid dairy.

If you can possibly raise them without milk products, you will prevent the most common mucus conditions, especially colds and ear infections. Milk is a great mucus producer; bacteria love living in it, and casein, the protein in milk, is commonly used in laboratories to set up bacterial cultures. Cheese is just as much of a problem, and yogurt is little better. And it’s not because of the fat – in fact, butter does not bring on infections, according to my observations – it is the protein and the calcium, which in cow’s milk are intended to help baby cows become big cows (or steer), and are excessive for humans.

 

2. Don’t reward them with sugar.

If you can avoid giving your kids sugared foods – including sugared breakfast cereals, cookies, cake, candy, and ice cream – you will allow their immune systems to do a better job of keeping them healthy. Sugar is known to depress the immune system, and what is worse, it is really addictive. According to a recent study at the University of Bordeaux, France, it appears to be more addictive than cocaine. I know that we tend to reward the children with sweet goodies, but that habit is perhaps best reconsidered – crayons, balloons, comic books or nuts and raisins might be a better idea for rewards.

 

3. Give them lots of protein.

To keep the kids healthy, they also need to eat sufficient protein (some in each meal, such as fish, chicken, meats, or beans and legumes), with lots of vegetables both cooked and raw, as well as good quality fats (extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, organic butter). See my post on protein breakfasts for more advice. 4. Make sure they get plenty of rest Most importantly, they need enough sleep and rest, which will allow their bodies and their brains to recuperate and restore, as well as grow. Lack of sleep is one of the major causes of stress and illness. So there you have it: feed them well, keep them off the ice cream and sweets, and make sure they sleep enough, and they will avoid many illnesses.

 

4.  Make sure they get plenty of rest

Most importantly, they need enough sleep and rest, which will allow their bodies and their brains to recuperate and restore, as well as grow.  Lack of sleep is one of the major causes of stress and illness.

So there you have it:  feed them well, keep them off the ice cream and sweets, and make sure they sleep enough, and they will avoid many illnesses.

Mr. Big Baby sees cars everywhere. He tries to make every art project we do about vehicles. If we sit down to draw a    flower, he wants to draw a small flower next to a big car.  At almost three years old he already knows every model and every  make of every car.  But he doesn’t know how to write numbers well.

Here’s a little system I came up with to help my son memorize his numbers:

Every day, we create a large number on a piece of paper with an object that this number resembles. For example, one is a tree with a branch, two is a swan, three is a snake, four is a house. Then, we draw cars next to the numbers. If number one is a tree, then we draw a parked car next to it, if number six is a purse, we draw a car around it, to show that the purse is left in the car. To create the numbers and the objects, we use painting, drawing, glitter, cutting and pasting: anything my son feels like at the moment. The key here is to make learning the number fun for the kid. This project teaches kids to think creatively, to use their imagination, to paint, draw, cut and paste and use play dough. Most importantly, after you spent thirty minutes on creating a number eight that looks like a lady, you are not likely to forget number eight.

Number seven is my son’s favorite: We made a chin-up bar out of play dough and drew a figure of a boy on it. Then we took my son’s picture, cut his face out and pasted the face on the boy’s figure. And then my babies tried to eat the play dough, but it’s a whole other story!

I just found a pretty interesting website, to teach math to small kids. Whether you are homeschooling or teaching your kids after school, the site is full of great quizzes, problem-solving and different number games:

http://www.ixl.com/

As I was researching the various crafts you can do with your small child, I found a lot of useful stuff: play dough, watercolors, finger paints, crayons, cutting, sticking, glitter…. All of these activities spark the child’s creativity and curiosity.

However, when I see a recipe, my first instinct is to change it, to add to it and to combine it with something else. Kid’s arts and crafts got the same reaction from me. Since children learn so well through play, why not combine all kinds of arts with all kinds of play: this way both creativity and imagination would become multi-dimensional. The child would be able to draw and paint and build and role-play and dig all at the same time!

As a result, whenever my son and I sit down to do a creative project, it’s never “just play dough” or  “just crayons.” We can start with play dough and make a bird, for example. Then, we take crayons and draw a tree for this bird. Then, we take watercolors and paint the grass under the tree. Then we cut a piece out of dark paper and stick it on the grass: this is how we make a road. Then, we take our toy cars and let them drive on the road.  After the cars have been going for a while, we build a bridge over the road, using matchsticks and glue. Finally, we make a construction site, next to the bridge. We draw it with different color pencils and stick some sand on the paper next to it ( so that the construction workers can dig.) And lastly, we take a teaspoon and dig through the sand.

We have painted gardens for play dough butterflies, we have made play dough roads for our wooden trains, we have put play dough passengers into our toy cars, we have put play dough boats into Tupperware containers full  of water. We have also drawn vases with crayons, to stick some real dried flowers in and we have fed our stuffed animals some play dough fruits and veggies. Oh, and once we made a finger paint soup, but that didn’t work so well.

These games can be endless. The key is incorporating  many senses and materials into an art project. Through creating art this way, the child will see art as a part of real-life, as something fun and tangible. Dolls can play in drawn doll-houses and trucks can ride on play dough roads. Using this simple technique, children learn to make their own world, where they are the creators and the active participants.

Recently I read this piece about sunscreen safety.  Apparently, typical sunscreens we cover ourselves and our kids with contain one more of these potential dangerous chemicals:

Dioxybenzone and oxybenzone are some of the most powerful free radical generators known to man. Other chemicals on this list have been connected to things like  cancer and hormonal imbalance.

I have been using Kiss My Face Sunscreeen for a few years. I love how light this cream is and how easily it absorbs into the skin, without leaving a typical white residue. I also like how it gives me and my family great sun protection without the dangerous chemicals. It is available in a spray bottle, as a cream or even as a sunblock stick.

What else can be done to protect the skin agains harmful UV-rays?

Nutrition helps, like it does with everything else.

Antioxidant-rich foods have been linked to good sun-protection of the skin. As pesticide residue can deplete the body’s antioxidant supplies,  it’s always better to choose certified organic foods.

1. Green tea’s  epigallocatechins directly block DNA damage from UV light, which has been demonstrated in studies involving human skin cells.

2. Moderate amounts of sunlight are helpful, as they provide us with vitamin D. A good buildup of this vitamin is essential, if you’d like to avoid sunburn. Dr. Mercola recommends staying in the sun until the skin turns light pink (for Caucasian skin.)

3. Phytonutrients lycopene in tomatoes and phenols in olive oil have been linked to better sun protection by a German study.

 Vitamin C, vitamin E and the mineral selenium all are good antioxidants that protect the skin against sun damage.

4. For vitamin C, try kiwis, oranges, bell peppers, broccoli, papaya,  and strawberries.

5. For vitamin E, try  sunflower seeds, almonds, olives, egg yolks and dark green leafy vegetables.

6. For selenium, try  mushrooms and fish.  Buying wild-caught fish is better,  because pesticide and antibiotic residues in farmed fish deplete the body’s antioxidant supplies.

7. Limonene and ellagic acid are other sun-protective nutrients. Citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons and limes,  are rich in limonene and berries, such as blueberries and rasberries are rich in ellagic acid.

Today I was doing what I like to do best: playing with food. I actually tried to make some edible play dough. All of the recipes for homemade play dough online seemed to be copies of each other and the ones that seemed more original utilized unhealthy ingredients, such as corn syrup, powdered milk and white sugar. As I was testing my recipe (made out of leftovers,) I realized that my edible play dough can also be made into some yummy healthy candy.  So, I made candy and my kid and I played and ate: what could be more fun?

As a main ingredient, I used cooked amaranth. Amaranth is a grain, which was used by the Aztecs and now is popular in Latin America. Amaranth contaisn large amounts of protein and essential amino acids. Amaranth has  30%  more protein  than many other whole grians grains, such as brown rice, wheat flour, oats, and rye. Amaranth grains are very small and cooked amaranth is sticky ( this is why I thought of play dough.) Generally, I like to use amaranth as a side dish, as a substitute for any dish, asking for a grain, as  a sticky base for a casserole or even as an egg substitute, because of the binding effect it brings to baked dishes. Amaranth works well as a diversion from your morning oatmeal. It combines very well with fruits and vegetables.

 

Homemade Amaranth Play Dough

Even though this recipe contains brown sugar, it is rich in protein, fiber, folic acid, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc, as well as vitamins B, D  and E. Perhaps you need to encourage your kids to eat more  play dough!

1 cup amaranth (cooked, according to package instructions.)

1/2 cup  smooth natural almond butter

1/2 cup wheat germ

1/4 of brown sugar

Mix all of the ingredients together. If the dough is too watery, add more wheat germ. If it’s too dry, add more almond butter. You can add more sugar of you think it’s necessary for a better flavor. Use my suggestions for homemade edible colors from here.

Homemade Amaranth Almond Butter Candy


Follow the recipe for play dough. Add 1/2 cup of almond pieces and (optionally) 1/4 cup of chopped dates. Form the dough into balls. Roll each ball in shredded coconut. Refrigerate for thirty minutes and serve.

 

I just discovered a wonderful new television sitcom for fighting childhood obesity: The Chefsters.

Parents can tell their children to “eat their vegetables,” but getting the kids to do it is a whole new thing.
The growing trend of childhood obesity inspired Chuck Pardee  (creator, writer, and producer of the show) to teach children how to eat healthier foods. Show’s episodes are centered around a group of preteens (“Chefsters”) cooking from simple recipes, learning safe basic cooking techniques and learning about nutrition. It also includes facts and history of certain healthy foods and above all, having fun with foods that are nutritious and healthy.

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