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.

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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Halloween Food Safety Tips

food

The Partnership for Food Safety Education (http://fightbac.org) offers the following tips for preventing foodbourne bacteria this Halloween:

  • Keep all perishable food chilled until serving time. These include, for example, finger sandwiches, cheese platters, cut fruit or tossed salads, cold pasta dishes with meat, poultry, or seafood, and cream pies or cakes with whipped-cream and cream-cheese frosting. Cold temperatures help keep most bacteria from multiplying.
  • To keep store-bought party trays cold, fill lids with ice and place trays on top.  Similarly, keep salads and other perishable items in bowls cold by nesting them in larger bowls of ice.
  • Arrange food on several small platters. Refrigerate platters of food until it is time to serve, and rotate food platters within two hours.
  • Bacteria will creep up on you if you let platters of food sit out for too long.  Don’t leave perishable goodies out for more than two hours at room temperature (1 hour in temperatures above 90°F).

  • When whipping up Halloween treats, don’t taste dough and batters that contain uncooked eggs.
  • Beware of  unpasteurized juice or cider that can contain harmful bacteria such as E.coli O157:H7 and Salmonella. Serve only pasteurized products at your Halloween party.
  • Remind kids (and adults too!) to wash their hands before and after eating to help prevent foodborne illness.
  • Bobbing for Apples – Try a new spin on bobbing for apples. Cut out lots of apples from red construction paper.  Write activities for kids to do on each apple, such as “say ABCs” or “do 5 jumping jacks”. Place a paper clip on each apple and put them in a large basket. Tie a magnet to a string or create a fishing pole with a dowel rod, magnet and yarn.  Let the children take turn “bobbing” with their magnet and doing the activity written on their apple.
  •  Give children a fresh apple for participating in your food safe version of bobbing for apples.

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Passing the Halloween Treats Forward

halloween

This Halloween why not encourage your Trick or Treaters to share some of their Halloween bounty with others who could use a treat?

Let’s face it, kids don’t need all the candy they get on Halloween. Sharing their bounty is a great way of practicing kindness and generosity.

Here are a few suggestions as to what to do with the Halloween candy your children are willing to share with others:

  • What a treat it would be for residents of a senior assisted living facility to receive a visit from young children in costumes giving out a part of their goodies. What happy memories it would bring back for the seniors! What a lasting memory it would be for the children to witness the happiness they were giving just by sharing a little bit of their time and a few pieces of candy.
  • There are children who will not get to go trick or treating. Two groups of children that will not be trick or treating are those that live in homeless shelters with their moms, and those that live with their moms in safe houses for domestic violence victims. You will need to call your local Dept of Social Services to find out where you can drop off Halloween candies for these two groups. Their exact locations, especially domestic violence safe houses, are not given out to the public.
  • Another good use for all that extra Halloween candy-send it in a care package to our troops serving overseas.  This could be a great school, church or recreation center group project.  How wonderful for child to get a letter from a soldier, who is overseas, thanking him or her for sharing Halloween. For more information on how to collect and where to send the candy go to:

www.dosomething.org/actnow/actionguide/how-collect-halloween-candy-our-troops#

 

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Keeping Foodborne Illness Out of the Lunchbox

lunchboxTo help prevent what the USDA calls a serious public health threat…foodborne illness in the lunchbox; follow these six top tips for keeping foods safe.

  1. If you’re packing meats, eggs, yogurt or other perishable food, use at least two freezer packs. Harmful bacteria grow rapidly between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Juice boxes can provide another option: freeze some juice boxes overnight to use with at least one freezer pack. The frozen juice boxes will thaw by lunchtime.
  3. If there’s a refrigerator at school or work, find a space for your lunch. Remove the lid or open the bag so the cold air can circulate better.
  4. Use an insulated, soft-sided lunchbox or bag instead of a paper bag. Perishable food can spoil more quickly in a paper bag.
  5. For a hot lunch like soup, use an insulated container. Make sure the container remains tightly closed until lunchtime.
  6. And finally, throw out all leftover food, used packaging and paper bags.

Medline Plus, a service of the National Institutes of Health, reminds us that not all illness comes from the food. It can come from a lunchbox that is not properly cleaned, or from the area where the lunch was prepared. They ask that we please remember that:

  • A dirty lunchbox may contain bacteria that can make a youngster  sick.
  • A lunchbox picks up a lot of grime in a day.
  • Kids don’t always wash their hands before handling their lunchboxes and food.
  • It’s a good idea to put a small bottle of antibacterial gel with a tight-fitting lid in your child’s lunchbox. Your child can use the gel when there isn’t a chance to wash with soap and water before eating lunch.
  • Kids should avoid setting down their food on the table. Include a paper towel, a piece of wax paper, or even a small fabric place mat in your child’s lunchbox that can be washed at home to help keep food off surfaces that may have been used by a number of youth and adults.

When packing a lunchbox:

  • Start with clean hands, a clean work surface and a clean lunchbox.
  • Disinfect kitchen surfaces, such as kitchen equipment and refrigerator handles, regularly.
  • Also clean cutting boards, knives, dish-drying towels and sponges or dish cloths daily.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before packing them

 

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Being a Friend

The following post is from Scott McClatchy, husband, father, musician, and friend to many.

One of the strangest things about being a parent is that there are so many things that I never imagined that would ever concern me have now become part of my everyday life.  Like explaining to a six-year old boy what exactly does it means to be a friend.

One of the toughest hurdles to cross in this daily conversation is that not all parents believe in the same thing.  So, as I tell my son one thing, he inevitably will respond with an example of how one of his school buddies acts the exact opposite.  When I tell my son to try to make ‘good choices’ – like sharing your toys, he’ll remind me that when he shares his toys, he will sometimes never see them again. So now the conversation takes a left turn into the idea that being a good friend also means respecting other people’s property, and he will bring up examples of all the kids who don’t.  Soon the conversation has splintered into so many different ideas of what being a friend means, that it leads my son to retreat to his toy room for some well deserved play time Though, in retrospect, I should be proud of my son’s courtroom presentation of his case … I just wish I knew more about the Kindergarten legal system.

So I try to fall back on the Golden Rule; if you really want to be a good friend – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Sadly, scriptures don’t go over well with most kids under the age of thirty-five, so I try to break it down for him.

‘Being a good friend means that you should try to always make sure your friends are happy.’  And, to my son’s credit, he usually does tell me that he often does let his buddies choose what games to play or pick what sport to attempt.  And, happily, I have watched him do this on the playground.  But I’ll tell my son that not all kids want to play together … and that’s OK!  I’ll tell him that someone who might not want to play with you today, or be your friend today – well, they might want to tomorrow, so don’t ever stop asking. But, most importantly, when someone doesn’t want to play with you, or be your friend, try to understand that you still are a really great kid. And, somewhere in the park or playground, there’s another little boy or girl just waiting to play with you.

And it’s at these times when I can explain to him, and I very often get to see it happen, that ‘being a friend’ can be nothing more than walking up to another child and saying “Hi, want to play?”

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