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

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My grandma taught me everything about Christmas. 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!

Teaching Kids About Donating to a Charity

charityKids.gov offers the following tips for teaching your child about donating to charity.

As a parent, you want to teach your children that the holidays are about more than the number of presents under the tree. The holidays are about giving too, and a great way teach your children that lesson is to help them donate part of their allowance to a charity of their choice.  Begin by researching charities together. Find a cause you support or an organization that works on something you are passionate about. There are lots of groups big and small, national and local, that could use your donation, so make sure you help your child pick something that has meaning to them.
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You can verify that a charity is legitimate by checking with one of the many organizations that keep an eye on charities, such as the Better Business Bureau or GuideStar. Remember, that not all charities are listed, especially newer, smaller ones, and if the charity you’re interested in supporting isn’t listed, you can request more information from that charity.

If you ask, a legitimate charity will send you their mission statement and a description of how they use donations. If anything about a charity makes you uneasy, trust your gut and help your child pick a different organization to support.

Check to make sure your donation is tax-deductible by asking for a receipt that clearly states the amount you donated can be deducted and explain what that means to your child. You want to help them understand the whole process of donating and possible tax deductions are a part of that.

When you’re ready to make the donation to a charity, write a check instead of sending cash. Cash can get easily lost or stolen. Have your child give you the cash amount of the donation and then you can write a check.

Take the time to teach your child the importance of giving back this holiday season by donating to an organization your family supports. With these tips from Kids.gov, you can select a charity that will put your donation to good use.

 

Holiday Tips from the EPA

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The US Environmental Protection Agency shares the following message for reducing waste through reuse and recycling during the holiday season.

  • After the holidays, look for ways to recycle your tree instead of sending it to a landfill. Check with your community solid waste department and find out if they collect and mulch trees. Your town might be able to use chippings from mulched trees for hiking trails or beachfront erosion barriers.
  • Buy a potted tree and plant it after the holidays.
  • Have a create your own decorations party! Invite family and friends to create holiday decorations such as ornaments made from old greeting cards or cookie dough, garlands made from strung popcorn or cranberries, wreaths made from artificial greens and flowers, and potpourri made from kitchen spices such as cinnamon and cloves.
  • Turn off or unplug holiday lights during the day. Doing so will not only save energy, but will also help your lights last longer.
  • If you’re buying new greeting cards this holiday season, send recycled-content greeting cards. Buying recycled encourages manufacturers to make more recycled-content products available. Also consider sending electronic cards, and remember to recycle any paper cards you receive.
  • Think “green” while shopping holiday and birthday sales. Try to buy items with minimal packaging and/or made with recycled content. Check product labels to determine an item’s recyclability and whether it is made from recycled materials.
  • Consider the durability of a product before you buy it as a gift. Cheaper, less durable items often wear out quickly, creating waste and costing you money. Look for items that embody the concept of reuse. For example: wooden toys made from scrap wood, craft kits that take advantage of used goods and discards, and drawing boards that can be erased and reused.

  • Thousands of paper and plastic shopping bags end up in landfills every year. Reduce the number of bags thrown out by bringing reusable cloth bags for holiday gift shopping. Tell store clerks you don’t need a bag for small or oversized purchases. Use reusable cloth bags instead of disposable ones for trick-or-treating.
  • Wrap gifts in recycled or reused wrapping paper or funny papers. Also remember to save or recycle used wrapping paper. Give gifts that don’t require much packaging, such as concert tickets or gift certificates.
  • Donate the older toys that your children no longer use to charities. Also check with local libraries. A number of public libraries have extended their children’s section to include a lending collection of toys, games, puzzles, and musical instruments.
  • Many battery sales occur during the holiday season. Buy rechargeable batteries to accompany your electronic gifts, and consider giving a battery charger as well. Rechargeable batteries reduce the amount of potentially harmful materials thrown away, and can save money in the long run.
  • When giving flowers as gifts, consider buying long-lasting silk flowers, potted plants, or live bushes, shrubs, or trees that can be planted in the spring as gifts.
  • Bake cookies or other goodies for your friends and love ones and package them in reusable and/or recyclable containers as gifts. Homemade goodies show how much you care and help you avoid packaging waste.
  • If you host a party, set the table with cloth napkins and reusable dishes, glasses, and silverware. Consider renting more formal tableware that you might not use very often. Also save and reuse party hats, decorations, and favors.
  • After holiday festivities, put leftovers in recyclable containers, and share them with family, friends, or others. Donate whole, untouched leftovers from parties to a local food bank or homeless shelter.

  • Where possible, compost leftover food scraps, leaves, and grass clippings.
  • After parties, fill your dishwasher to capacity before running it. You will run fewer cycles, which saves energy.
  • Wash and reuse empty glass and plastic jars, milk jugs, coffee cans, dairy tubs, and other similar containers that would otherwise get thrown away. These containers can be used to store leftovers as well as buttons, nails, or other loose items.
  • Make the most of your jack o’ lantern. Use the removed meat to make pumpkin pie or muffins and roast the seeds as a fun holiday snack. When the holiday is over, cut up your carved pumpkin before it spoils and toss it in the compost bin.
  • Why purchase costumes that you will probably only use once and then throw away? Instead, use old clothes or buy used clothes from a consignment shop to make your costume.
  • Consider donating old costumes to local amateur theater productions, including school performances and shows put on by charitable organizations. Another option is to donate costumes to a costume rental service.

Thanksgiving Food Safety Tips

The Partnership for Food Safety Education shares the following links to information on Thanksgiving safety tips.

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www.holidayfoodsafety.org/food-safety/turkey

Click to enlarge the Infographics below

 

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Laundry Pods…A Convenience, Yet a Danger for Young Children

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In a recent nightly news report, Brian Williams spoke about the serious danger in using the colorful, candy like, laundry detergent pods if you have young children in your home. He cited a recent new study in the journal Pediatrics that stated these detergent pods can pose a serious poisoning risk to young children.

He went on to say that just about once an hour a child is reported to have ingested one of these colorful pods that are small enough to fit into a young child’s mouth.

Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV, also reported on this serious threat in MedlinePlus. She shared that study researchers analyzed records from the National Poison Data System and found that more than 17,000 children under the age of six were exposed to laundry detergent pods from 2012 through 2013. Nearly 80 percent were exposed through ingestion, most of them one and two years of age.

Half of the children, who put the pods in their mouths, were treated at home, about a third were treated at a health care facility and released, and around 4 percent were hospitalized. While most of the young patients experienced minor injuries, more than 7 percent suffered a moderate to major medical outcome. One child died.

The researchers say since the pods have a colorful, candy-like appearance that they may attract children, especially during developmental periods when children commonly place items in their mouths. They are asking pediatricians and other health care providers to educate parents and other caregivers about the dangers of these products, as well as the importance of safe storage and careful use.They strongly recommend that households with young children use traditional laundry detergent. The study authors also say a national safety standard is needed to improve product packaging and labeling.

Brian Williams concluded his report by sharing that, as a result of this study and the attention it is getting, the manufacturers of the laundry pods are working on an education campaign to promote the safe storage of laundry pods and their use in homes with young children.