This blog is a place where parents and teachers of children 3-7 years of age can find information about topics specific to children in this age group, share ideas and access free resources for home and the classroom.

On Santa’s Team…Author Unknown

Santa
My grandma taught me everything about Christmas and Santa. I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: “There is no Santa Claus,” jeered my sister. “Even dummies know that!”

My grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her world-famous cinnamon buns.

Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me.

“No Santa Claus!” she snorted. “Ridiculous! Don’t believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad. Now, put on your coat, and let’s go.

“Go? Go where, Grandma?” I asked. I hadn’t even finished my second cinnamon bun.

“Where” turned out to be Kerby’s General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days.

“Take this money,” she said, “and buy something for someone who needs it. I’ll wait for you in the car.” Then she turned and walked out of Kerby’s.

I was only eight years old. I’d often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for. I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church.

I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobbie Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock’s grade-two class. Bobbie Decker didn’t have a coat. I knew that because he never went out for recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough; but all we kids knew that Bobbie Decker didn’t have a cough, and he didn’t have a coat.

I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobbie Decker a coat. I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that. I didn’t see a price tag, but ten dollars ought to buy anything. I put the coat and my ten-dollar bill on the counter and pushed them toward the lady behind it.

She looked at the coat, the money, and me. “Is this a Christmas present for someone?” she asked kindly. “Yes,” I replied shyly. “It’s … for Bobbie. He’s in my class, and he doesn’t have a coat.” The nice lady smiled at me. I didn’t get any change, but she put the coat in a bag and wished me a Merry Christmas.

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat in Christmas paper and ribbons, and write, “To Bobbie, From Santa Claus” on it … Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy.

Then she drove me over to Bobbie Decker’s house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially one of Santa’s helpers. Grandma parked down the street from Bobbie’s house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk.

Suddenly, Grandma gave me a nudge. “All right, Santa Claus,” she whispered, “get going.”

I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his doorbell twice and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobbie. He looked down, looked around, picked up his present, took it inside and closed the door.

Forty years haven’t dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my grandma, in Bobbie Decker’s bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were: Ridiculous!

Santa was alive and well … AND WE WERE ON HIS TEAM!

Merry Christmas from all of us on “Can Do” Street and, of course, from Santa!

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Holiday Food Safety Tips from the USDA

food

The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Offers the Following Food Safety Tips for the Holiday.

  • Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling any food. Wash food-contact surfaces (cutting boards, dishes, utensils, counter tops) with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item. Rinse fruits and vegetables thoroughly under cool running water and use a produce brush to remove surface dirt.
  • Do not rinse raw meat and poultry before cooking in order to avoid spreading bacteria to areas around the sink and counter tops.
  • When shopping in the store, storing food in the refrigerator at home, or preparing meals, keep foods that won’t be cooked separate from raw eggs, meat, poultry or seafood—and from kitchen utensils used for those products.
  • Consider using one cutting board only for foods that will be cooked (such as raw meat, poultry, and seafood) and another one for those that will not (such as raw fruits and vegetables).
  • Do not put cooked meat or other food that is ready to eat on an unwashed plate that has held any raw eggs, meat, poultry, seafood, or their juices.
  • Use a food thermometer to make sure meat, poultry, and fish are cooked to a safe internal temperature. To check a turkey for safety, insert a food thermometer into the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. The turkey is safe when the temperature reaches 165°F. If the turkey is stuffed, the temperature of the stuffing should be 165°F.

  • Bring sauces, soups, and gravies to a rolling boil when reheating.
  • Cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm. When making your own eggnog or other recipe calling for raw eggs, use pasteurized shell eggs, liquid or frozen pasteurized egg products, or powdered egg whites.
  • Don’t eat uncooked cookie dough, which may contain raw eggs.
  • Refrigerate leftovers and takeout foods—and any type of food that should be refrigerated, including pie—within two hours.
  • Set your refrigerator at or below 40°F and the freezer at 0°F. Check both periodically with an appliance thermometer.
  • Thaw frozen food safely in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave—never at room temperature. Cook food thawed in cold water or in the microwave immediately.
  • Allow enough time to properly thaw food. For example, a 20-pound turkey needs four to five days to thaw completely in the refrigerator.
  • Don’t taste food that looks or smells questionable. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • Leftovers should be used within three to four days, unless frozen.

 Keep Your Family Safe From Food Poisoning…Check your steps at FoodSafety.gov

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Five Tips to Make Your Halloween Safe

It’s that time again …planning Halloween costumes, parties, and taking the kids trick or treating.

 Halloween

Just because Halloween celebrates scary things doesn’t mean you want any safety scares of your own.

With a little bit of planning and these five tips from Kids.gov, you can ensure your ghouls and goblins have a frightfully fun time this year.

  1. Look up your local trick-or-treating time and rules. Then plot out a map of safe neighborhoods for trick-or-treating. Let older children take the map with them if they’re trick-or-treating on their own.
  2. Stick reflective tape on dark costumes—it will help drivers see you. And make sure your kids can see clearly. Face paint may work better than a mask when it comes to visibility.
  3. Pick a perfect pumpkin for carving. It should be sturdy, not soft, with a flat bottom so it doesn’t topple over. You can also encourage your kids to paint creative faces on their pumpkins instead of carving.
  4. Consider using a glow stick or battery-powered lights instead of candles to light the way for trick-or-treating or in jack-o-lanterns, especially around little kids who could get burned or drapery that could catch fire.
  5. Screen candy before your kids eat it. Toss out anything with opened or damaged wrappers and homemade treats, unless you know the giver personally.

 Don’t forget to follow basic precautions that will make your children’s Halloween a safer night of fun.

 Source: Kids.gov

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Over the Counter Medicines and Driving

medicines

The Food and Drug Administration shared the following release. It is about the use of over the counter medicines and how they may impact on your driving.

Anyone who operates a vehicle of any type—car, bus, train, plane, or boat—needs to know there are over-the-counter medicines that can make you drowsy and can affect your ability to drive and operate machinery safely.

Over-the-counter medicines are also known as OTC or nonprescription medicines. All these terms mean the same thing: medicines that you can buy without a prescription from a healthcare professional. Each OTC medicine has a Drug Facts label to guide you in your choices and to help keep you safe. OTC medicines are serious medicines and their risks can increase if you don’t choose them carefully and use them exactly as directed on the label.

According to Ali Mohamadi, M.D., a medical officer at FDA, “You can feel the effects some OTC medicines can have on your driving for a short time after you take them, or their effects can last for several hours. In some cases, a medicine can cause significant ‘hangover-like’ effects and affect your driving even the next day.” If you have not had enough sleep, taking medicine with a side effect that causes drowsiness can add to the sleepiness and fatigue you may already feel. Being drowsy behind the wheel is dangerous; it can impair your driving skills.

Choosing and Using  Medicines Safely

You should read all the sections of the Drug Facts label before you use an OTC medicine. But, when you know you have to drive, it’s particularly important to take these simple steps:

First, read the “active ingredients” section and compare it to all the other medicines you are using. Make sure you are not taking more than one medicine with the same active ingredient. Then make sure the “purpose” and “uses” sections of the label match or fit the condition you are trying to treat.

Next, carefully read the entire “Warnings” section. Check whether the medicine should not be used with any condition you have, or whether you should ask a health care professional whether you can use it. See if there’s a warning that says when you shouldn’t use the medicine at all, or when you should stop using it.

The “When using this product” section will tell you how the medicine might make you feel, and will include warnings about drowsiness or impaired driving.

Look for such statements as “you may get drowsy,” “marked drowsiness will occur,” “Be careful when driving a motor vehicle or operating machinery” or “Do not drive a motor vehicle or operate machinery when using this product.”

Other information you might see in the label is how the medicine reacts when taken with other products like alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers, and other effects the OTC medicine could have on you. When you see any of these statements and you’re going to drive or operate machinery, you may want to consider choosing another medicine for your problem this time. Look for an OTC medicine that treats your condition or problem but has an active ingredient or combination of active ingredients that don’t cause drowsiness or affect your ability to drive or operate machinery.

Talk to your healthcare professional if you need help finding another medicine to treat your condition or problem. Then, check the section on “directions” and follow them carefully.

Here are some of the most common OTC medicines that can cause drowsiness or impaired driving:

  • Antihistamines: These are medicines that are used to treat things like runny nose, sneezing, itching of the nose or throat, and itchy or watery eyes. Some antihistamines are marketed to relieve cough due to the common cold. Some are marketed to relieve occasional sleeplessness. Antihistamines also can be added to other active ingredients that relieve cough, reduce nasal congestion, or reduce pain and fever. Some antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine, the active ingredient in Benadryl, can make you feel drowsy, unfocused and slow to react.
  • Antidiarrheals: Some antidiarrheals, medicines that treat or control symptoms of diarrhea, can cause drowsiness and affect your driving. One of these is loperamide, the active ingredient in Imodium.
  • Anti-emetics: Anti-emetics, medicines that treat nausea, vomiting and dizziness associated with motion sickness, can cause drowsiness and impair driving as well.

“If you don’t read all your medicine labels and choose and use them carefully,” says Dr. Mohamadi, “you can risk your safety. If your driving is impaired, you could risk your safety, and the safety of your passengers and others.”

 

 

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Writing is Storytelling on a Page

Writing is storytelling on a page

 Storytelling is a key building block when trying to develop writing skills in young children. WHY? Because writing is storytelling on a page. 

The cry a parent often hears about writing is something like, “I hate writing! I can’t write.”! Translation-I am not comfortable writing. If your child can tell a story, he or she can write a story. Writing is storytelling on a page!

Unfortunately, most of us don’t prepare our children to write the way we prepare them to know the alphabet. Parents tend to  focus on the alphabet, counting, and other learning skills during their preschool and kindergarten years. Yet, writing is a skill that most of us will need and use for the rest of our lives. Being comfortable writing and writing well is critical to our academic and employment success.

I am not talking about grammar, punctuation or understanding sentence structure. These skills will be taught in school. I refer to the ability to describe something on paper that was seen, heard, read or told about.

It’s all about storytelling. It is more than the stories you read to your child from a book. It is the storytelling that comes from sharing family history or events.  It can be making up stories about everyday activities as you spend time with your child. Being read to captures a child’s interest, expands his/her knowledge and fosters creative thinking. However, the ability to tell a story is a key building block of writing a story. The ability to tell and write a story must be practiced like any other skill.

Most of my life I’ve earned an income from writing. I’ve authored a biography and a children’s book. My digital media work includes articles, technical writing, reports, recipes, programs, children’s stories, web content and blogging. I owe my comfort and enjoyment of writing to my extended family. By the time I was two years old, my godmother and grandparents were telling me stories and helping me to tell stories about the things I saw when out walking or visiting with them. Even before I could write, they encouraged me to tell them stories and they wrote them down for me. Then the stories were taped to their refrigerator for all to read. I couldn’t wait until I had the skills to write my own stories. It was all the motivation I needed to learn the alphabet and begin writing.

There is no more undivided attention a child can get than time spent with an adult or older sibling exploring something new. He or she can then tell a story about that experience. It can be as simple as a trip to the supermarket, a walk in the park, or helping to wash the car.

 Initially, your child needs you to guide him or her through the process of making up a story.  At first, you will need to ask your child questions to trigger storytelling. After awhile that won’t be necessary.

Storytelling is a family affair and one that offers a role for grandparents and other relatives. Photo albums, attics full of stuff, and scrapbooks are just some of the things that can spark stories. Recording the story is a critical part of the process. Being able to look at and refer to his or her story, in writing, establishes a comfort level about writing.

If a child can view writing as storytelling on a page, he or she is on track for enjoying and not dreading writing.

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