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.

Keeping Your Eggs Safe to Eat


Eggs are inexpensive, tasty and nutritious, which makes them so popular. However, they need to be handled, prepared and stored properly to prevent food poisoning. According to the US Food and Drug Administration even eggs with clean, uncracked shells may occasionally contain bacteria called Salmonella that can cause an intestinal infection.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that about 142,000 illnesses each year are caused by consuming eggs contaminated with Salmonella. FDA has put regulations in place to help prevent contamination of eggs on the farm and during shipping and storage. But consumers play a key role in preventing illness associated with eggs. In fact, the most effective way to prevent egg-related illness is by knowing how to buy, store, handle and cook eggs — or foods that contain them — safely.
Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, and vomiting 12 to 72 hours after infection. Symptoms usually last 4 to 7 days and most people get better without treatment. However, in some people, the diarrhea may be so severe that they need to be hospitalized. In these patients, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated quickly with antibiotics. Certain people are at greater risk for severe illness and include pregnant women, young children, older adults and people with weakened immune systems.

FDA requires all cartons of shell eggs that have not been treated to carry the following safe handling statement: 

Safe Handling Eggs

To prevent illness from bacteria: keep eggs refrigerated, cook eggs until yolks are firm, and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly. Eggs that have been treated to destroy Salmonella — by in-shell pasteurization, for example — are not required to carry safe handling instructions.

You can help keep eggs safe by making wise buying decisions at the grocery store.

  • Buy eggs only if sold from a refrigerator or refrigerated case.
  • Open the carton and make sure that the eggs are clean and the shells are not cracked.
  • Refrigerate promptly.
  • Store eggs in their original carton and use them within 3 weeks for best quality.

Before preparing any food, remember that cleanliness is key!

  • Wash hands, utensils, equipment, and work surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after they come in contact with eggs and egg-containing foods.

Thorough cooking is perhaps the most important step in making sure eggs are safe.

  • Cook eggs until both the yolk and the white are firm. Scrambled eggs should not be runny.
  • Casseroles and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to 160°F (72°C). Use a food thermometer to be sure.
  • For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked when the dish is served — Caesar salad dressing and homemade ice cream are two examples — use either shell eggs that have been treated to destroy Salmonella, by pasteurization or another approved method, or pasteurized egg products. Treated shell eggs are available from a growing number of retailers and are clearly labeled, while pasteurized egg products are widely available.

Bacteria can multiply in temperatures from 40°F (5°C) to 140°F (60°C), so it’s very important to serve foods safely.

  • Serve cooked eggs and egg-containing foods immediately after cooking.
  • For buffet-style serving, hot egg dishes should be kept hot, and cold egg dishes kept cold.
  • Eggs and egg dishes, such as quiches or soufflés, may be refrigerated for serving later but should be thoroughly reheated to 165°F (74°C) before serving.
  • Cooked eggs, including hard-boiled eggs, and egg-containing foods, should not sit out for more than 2 hours. Within 2 hours either reheat or refrigerate.

Storing Eggs

  • Use hard-cooked eggs (in the shell or peeled) within 1 week after cooking.
  • Use frozen eggs within 1 year. Eggs should not be frozen in their shells. To freeze whole eggs, beat yolks and whites together. Egg whites can also be frozen by themselves.
  • Refrigerate leftover cooked egg dishes and use within 3 to 4 days. When refrigerating a large amount of a hot egg containing leftover, divide it into several shallow containers so it will cool quickly.

Transporting Eggs

  • Cooked eggs for a picnic should be packed in an insulated cooler with enough ice or frozen gel packs to keep them cold.
  • Don’t put the cooler in the trunk — carry it in the air-conditioned passenger compartment of the car.
  • If taking cooked eggs to work or school, pack them with a small frozen gel pack or a frozen juice box.

Taking steps to handle, prepare and store eggs is critical to preventing food poisoning.

Source: USDA


Eye Exams…When to Start and Why

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), infants should have their first eye exam at 6 months of age. Children then should have additional eye exams at age 3, and just before they enter the first grade — at about age 5 or 6.

For school-aged children, the AOA recommends an eye exam every two years if no vision correction is required. Children who need eyeglasses should be examined annually or as recommended by their eye doctor.

The AOA stresses early eye exams for children because 5 to 10 percent of preschoolers and 25 percent of school-aged children have vision problems. Early eye exams also are important because children need the following basic skills related to good eyesight for learning:

  • Near vision           image of eye chart for young children
  • Distance vision
  • Binocular (two eyes) coordination
  • Eye movement skills
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Focusing skills
  • Peripheral awareness

For these reasons, some states require a mandatory eye exam for all children entering school for the first time.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) says on its Web site that your family doctor or pediatrician likely will be the first medical professional to examine your child’s eyes. If eye problems are suspected during routine physical examinations, a referral might be made to an eye doctor for further evaluation. Eye doctors have specific equipment and training to assist them with spotting potential vision problems.

Babies should be able to see as well as adults in terms of focusing ability, color vision and depth perception by 6 months of age. To assess whether a baby’s eyes are developing normally, the doctor typically will use the following tests:

  • Tests of pupil responses evaluate whether the eye’s pupil opens and closes properly in the presence or absence of light.
  • “Fixate and follow” testing determines whether your baby’s eyes are able to fixate on and follow an object such as a light as it moves. Infants should be able to fixate on an object soon after birth and follow an object by the time they are 3 months old.
  • Preferential looking involves using cards that are blank on one side with stripes on the other side to attract the gaze of an infant to the stripes. In this way, vision capabilities can be assessed without the use of a typical eye chart.

 Preschool-age children do not need to know their letters in order to take certain eye tests. Some common eye tests used specifically for young children include:

  • LEA Symbols for young children are similar to regular eye tests using charts with letters, except that special symbols in these tests include an apple, house, square and circle.
  • Retinoscopy is a test that involves shining a light into the eye to observe the reflection from the back of the eye
  • Random Dot Stereopsis testing uses special patterns of dots and 3-D glasses to measure how well your child’s eyes work together as a team.

AAO offers the following reminders:

  • Appropriate vision testing at an early age is vital to insure your child has the visual skills he or she needs to perform well in school.
  • A child who is unable to see print or view a blackboard can become easily frustrated, leading to poor academic performance.
  • Some vision problems, such as lazy eye, are best treated if they are detected and corrected as early as possible while the child’s vision system is still developing.

10 Tips to Improve Indoor Air Quality and Be Safer Inside Your Own Home

image of products that are unsafe for use in the homeThe following message about keeping your home safe from toxic chemicals, comes from Toxics Use Reduction Institute at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

If you don’t use a toxic chemical in the first place, then you don’t have to contain it, clean it up, or be exposed to it—which is what preventing pollution is all about. Follow these tips to reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals and create a safer and healthier indoor living environment for you and your family.

1) Household Cleaners: Look for labels that divulge ALL of the cleaner’s chemicals. Besure to avoid using cleaners that contain these suspect hormone disrupter chemicals:Nonyl- and octyl-phenols are used to make alkylphenol ethoxylate (APE) detergents.

2) Disinfectants. Limit the use of disinfecting products in your home. They contain chemical agents that are capable of destroying or inhibiting the growth of microorganisms. Overuse could lead to the growth of ‘superbugs.’ The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies disinfectants and anti-microbials as pesticides.

3) Lawn Care and Pests: Children and pets in particular are exposed to pesticides tracked inside homes from lawn treatments. Pesticide exposure also occurs from using off-the shelf pest repellents. Use organic lawn care methods like mowing high and adding topsoil. To get rid of pests, remove food sources, use boric acid and traps.

4) Vinyl Floor and Wall Coverings: Flexible vinyl household products like flooring and wallpaper are manufactured using PVC that may have toxic chemical additives including phthalate plasticizers and lead. As these products are used, they create dusts that accumulate these chemicals. Choose non-PVC wall and floor coverings to minimize potential exposure to these toxins.

5) Building Materials: Plywood, oriented strand board, kitchen cabinets and home insulation are all products that can contain formaldehyde, a known human cancer causing chemical. Choose solid woods and formaldehyde-free insulations when constructing or renovating your home.

6) Personal Care and Beauty Products: Choose products that are fragrance free and reduce your use of nail polish and acetone nail polish remover. If you do use these products, be sure to open the windows in your home when you use these products.

7) Dry Cleaning: Ask your dry cleaner if they offer safer alternatives such as liquidcarbon dioxide or “wet cleaning” rather than the commonly used cleanerperchloroethylene, a suspected cancer-causing chemical.

8) Got Moths?: Eliminate the use of mothballs since they contain naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene. Instead, clean and seal wool clothes, use cedar blocks, shavings or oil.

9) Mold: Dry is the operative word. Prevent mold and the overuse of bleach by preventing moisture build up in the first place. Fix leaky pipes and faucets immediately. Make sure that water slopes away from the foundation of your home.

10) Basement: Do not leave a car running even with the garage door open especially if the garage is under the living area. Carbon monoxide can easily seep through walls and floors. When your oil company calls during the slow summer months to clean your boiler, don’t delay. And test your house for radon.


Source: Toxics Use Reduction Institute at the University of Massachusetts LowellThis information is provided as a public service from the Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Established by the State’s Toxics Use Reduction Act of 1989, TURI provides research, training, technical support, laboratory services and grant programs to reduce the use of toxic chemicals while enhancing the economic competitiveness of local businesses.


Ways to answer the “Why Do I Have to Wear Eye Glasses Question”

Why do I have to wear glasses? A tough question from a child in the first or second grade who doesn’t want to look different from his or her classmates.

Some good answers for why a child has to wear glasses can be found in the following books.


Ages 3-5
Baby Duck and the Bad Eyeglasses, by Amy Hest (Candlewick Press)


Ages 5-8
Dogs Don’t Wear Glasses by Adrienne Geoghegan (Crocodile Books)

Libby’s New Glasses, by Tricia Tusa (Holiday House)

All the Better to See You With, by Margaret Wild (Whitman and Co)

Winnie Flies Again, by Korky Paul and Valerie Thomas (Oxford University Press)

X-Ray Mable and Her Magic Specs, by Claire Fletcher (Bodley Head)

The Arthur Books, by Marc Brown (Red Fox)

Glasses. Who needs ‘Em?, by Lane Smith (Viking)

Luna and the Big Blurr, by Shirley Day

Chuckie Visits the Eye Doctor by Luke David





What You Can Do When Your Child Has Nightmares

According to an article on WebMD, many children have nightmares.

picture of a child who has nightmaresNightmares are most common in preschoolers (children aged 3-6 years) because this is the age at which normal fears develop and a child’s imagination is very active. Some studies estimate that as many as 50% of children in this age group have nightmares.

Nightmares involve frightening or unpleasant dreams that disrupt the child’s sleep on several occasions and cause distress or problems with everyday life. When children wake up because of a nightmare, they become aware of their surroundings and usually need comfort. As a result, parents often need to provide comfort.

The Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital offers these suggestions for coping with a child’s nightmares:

  • Offer plenty of cuddles, comfort and reassurance to your child.
  • During the day, talk about your child’s bad dream, and make sure to avoid frightening TV programs and movies.
  • Leave the door to the child’s bedroom open, and offer a favorite toy or blanket for comfort.
  • Avoid spending a lot of time looking for the “monster” that scared your child. Let your child go back to sleep in his or her own bed.
  • Read a book about coping with nighttime fears.
  • Before bed, talk about funny and happy topics.

Sources:WebMD, womens health dot gov(U.S.Dept of HHS) articles on nightmares


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