1. Apr 24
    How Do You Cope with Sick Kids?   About the Author: Megan lives in Omaha with her husband and five- and seven-year-old sons. She’s a freelance writer and public relations consultant who’s delighted to say she started her career many years ago — far more than she’s willing to admit — with Highlights for Children, Inc.
Whether it quietly creeps in with watery eyes and an atypical afternoon nap, or it belligerently crashes the wee hours of the morning with a dramatic projection of the previous night’s mac-n-cheese, no one enjoys dealing with sickness. As parents though, we rarely have a choice in the matter.
This school year, we’ve had our share. Between my husband, my two boys and me, we’ve had crazy-high fevers, mystery rashes, pneumonia, ear infections, the flu and croup. I’m pretty sure if our family was part of a herd, we would’ve been thinned out long ago; or at the very least, left at the watering hole to fend for ourselves. Instead — seeing as we are part of a modern society — we’ve settled on being recipients of not one, but two, state-required “Excessive Absenteeism” letters.
Obviously, the boys have missed a lot of school. From nutrition-packed green smoothies to four-hour Scooby Doo marathons, I’ve enlisted a lot of “parenting styles” to deal with all those sick days. Here are my favorites.
 [[MORE]]The Warden
If you’re too sick to go to school, you’re too sick to do anything — no television, no games, no lounging on the couch. When you’re home sick, you stay in your room with no entertainment except the sound of your own nasal wheeze and a pile of dirty tissues that, if you’re creative enough, can be turned into a crumpled game of Jenga. I have a friend whose parents were always The Wardens. I only use this approach when one of my boys is crazy enough to want to get brother’s illness, and does. Careful what you wish for, my dear son. 
The Florence Nightingale
The Florence Nightingale is really, really good with a sick child. Florence Nightingales are able to simultaneously rub their kid’s back, pat his forehead with a cool washcloth, wipe his runny nose, and fix dinner, all without missing a beat. They know exactly how many seconds to microwave the towel before tucking it gently upon a freshly Vicks’d chest; and, they are always prepared with a supply of saltines, ginger ale and Jell-O in the pantry, and lots of extra towels and sheets in the linen closet. I’d like to think I can channel my inner Florence when needed, but thankfully it’s not generally required for any length of time. It’s exhausting. 
The Shaman
This is closely related to The Florence Nightingale, only this parent is more natural in his or her approach. If you put garlic and onions in your kid’s socks at night, massage coconut oil in their ears, or access an arsenal of essential oils to treat illnesses from athlete’s foot to zoster, you’re The Shaman. I successfully incorporate several all-natural home remedies, but during an especially long jag of illness, I once spent $14 on a bottle of elderberry syrup. I think it helped me kick my cold in about a week to a week-and-a-half instead of the typical seven to 10 days. 
The Queen of Denial
After spending most of December with sick children, I became the reigning Queen of Denial in February when my eldest told me his legs felt “shivery.” A quick check of his temperature showed he didn’t have a fever, so I quickly bundled him off to school with the hopes it was growing pains. I knew better. By lunchtime, a fever reared its ugly head and I was getting a call from the school. Being Queen can only last so long before a wily band of germs skims over your moat, slithers under your castle gates and spirits you and your child away to the Dungeon of Despair.
The Dr. Vid E. Oh
And lastly, running close on the heels of The Queen of Denial, we have the good doctor, Dr. Vid E. Oh, and her faithful assistant Imogene Padget (aka iPad). This approach tends to grow from necessity. It’s the one that comes into play when, “I’m really sorry you’re not feeling well, but Mommy still has a lot of work she needs to do.” The television goes on and stays on. One episode of Scooby Doo runs into the next, which runs into the next and so on and so on, until you’re convinced those kids are in fact trespassing meddlers; and, that if Don Knotts were still alive, he should totally do a surprise guest appearance at a Harlem Globetrotters game.
So, there are a few of my favorites. What’s your style?

    How Do You Cope with Sick Kids?

       

    About the Author: Megan lives in Omaha with her husband and five- and seven-year-old sons. She’s a freelance writer and public relations consultant who’s delighted to say she started her career many years ago — far more than she’s willing to admit — with Highlights for Children, Inc.

    Whether it quietly creeps in with watery eyes and an atypical afternoon nap, or it belligerently crashes the wee hours of the morning with a dramatic projection of the previous night’s mac-n-cheese, no one enjoys dealing with sickness. As parents though, we rarely have a choice in the matter.

    This school year, we’ve had our share. Between my husband, my two boys and me, we’ve had crazy-high fevers, mystery rashes, pneumonia, ear infections, the flu and croup. I’m pretty sure if our family was part of a herd, we would’ve been thinned out long ago; or at the very least, left at the watering hole to fend for ourselves. Instead — seeing as we are part of a modern society — we’ve settled on being recipients of not one, but two, state-required “Excessive Absenteeism” letters.

    Obviously, the boys have missed a lot of school. From nutrition-packed green smoothies to four-hour Scooby Doo marathons, I’ve enlisted a lot of “parenting styles” to deal with all those sick days. Here are my favorites.

    Continue Reading →

  2. Apr 21
    Make a Rainbow Bouquet   Turn white flowers into a rainbow bouquet! As flowers lose water to evaporation, they pull more water up through their stems. When food coloring is added to the water, the blossoms make an amazing transformation.What You’ll Need:A few white flowersCupsFood coloringVaseWhat to Do:Trim the flowers so the stems will fit in a cup of water.Place the flower stems directly into a vase of water to keep the blossoms from drying out.In each cup, mix about one part food coloring with two parts water. You will use less than one-third of a bottle of food coloring in each cup.Place the stems of a few of the flowers into each cup of colored water and let them stand for several hours. Arrange the colorful flowers in a vase of clear water.


 By Jim Conrad

    Make a Rainbow Bouquet

       

    Turn white flowers into a rainbow bouquet! As flowers lose water to evaporation, they pull more water up through their stems. When food coloring is added to the water, the blossoms make an amazing transformation.

    What You’ll Need:

    • A few white flowers
    • Cups
    • Food coloring
    • Vase

    What to Do:

    1. Trim the flowers so the stems will fit in a cup of water.
    2. Place the flower stems directly into a vase of water to keep the blossoms from drying out.
    3. In each cup, mix about one part food coloring with two parts water. You will use less than one-third of a bottle of food coloring in each cup.
    4. Place the stems of a few of the flowers into each cup of colored water and let them stand for several hours. Arrange the colorful flowers in a vase of clear water.

    By Jim Conrad

  3. Apr 18
    Reduce, Reuse, Recycle…and Read!   Established in 1970, Earth Day is celebrated annually every April 22 in support of our environment. This Earth Day, encourage your children to marvel in and take care of our earth’s resources. Here are some books to help you commemorate this significant day:
THE GREAT BIG GREEN by Peggy Gifford and illustrated by Lisa Desimini (Boyds Mills Press, Ages 4-7)
The thing is.. the thing is GREEN… but what is it? This colorful picture book features a lyrical riddle about the “great big green” that will have kids guessing as they try to figure out what exactly it is. They’ll soon find out that the great big green is actually our Earth, which is green… except where it’s blue. Lots of “green” things appear on each spread of this easy-to-share story, which lends itself to re-reading again, and again.
LOOK UP! Bird Watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate (Candlewick, Ages 8-12)
Now that the weather is warmer, here’s a perfect book to encourage kids (and even adults!) to get outside and check out the most accessible wildlife around: birds. This introduction to bird watching features fun full-color illustrations that portray dozens of birds conversing about their unique characteristics, including color, shape, plumage, and beak and foot types. Whimsical cartoons depict dialogues between birds, characters, and the reader. Interactive and enjoyable tips bring an age-old hobby to new life for the next generation of bird-watchers.
LAST-BUT-NOT-LEAST LOLA GOING GREEN by Christine Pakkala (Boyds Mills Press, Ages 7-10)
Lola Zuckerman – forever last (due to her last name starting with a “Z”), but never least – is determined to win her class’s “Going Green” contest this year. After all, her brother won it a few years ago. And she can’t allow her ex-best-friend Amanda Anderson (who is always first) to take this year’s prize. Will Lola’s “green” idea come out ahead of everyone else’s? This first title in a new chapter book series features an engaging story, along with some excellent “green tips” (such as recycling and composting) for a classroom or a home.)
THE LORAX by Dr. Seuss (Random House Books for Young Readers, Ages 6-9)
Celebrating Earth Day wouldn’t be complete without reading this classic tale about preserving our environment. With unique characters and whimsical rhymes, Dr. Seuss tells a tale that’s also an ecological warning, and leaves the readers with a potent message: “Unless someone like you…cares a whole awful lot…nothing is going to get better…It’s not.”
 Kerry McManus, Marketing Manager at Highlights for Children

    Reduce, Reuse, Recycle…and Read!

       

    Established in 1970, Earth Day is celebrated annually every April 22 in support of our environment. This Earth Day, encourage your children to marvel in and take care of our earth’s resources. Here are some books to help you commemorate this significant day:

    THE GREAT BIG GREEN by Peggy Gifford and illustrated by Lisa Desimini (Boyds Mills Press, Ages 4-7)

    The thing is.. the thing is GREEN… but what is it? This colorful picture book features a lyrical riddle about the “great big green” that will have kids guessing as they try to figure out what exactly it is. They’ll soon find out that the great big green is actually our Earth, which is green… except where it’s blue. Lots of “green” things appear on each spread of this easy-to-share story, which lends itself to re-reading again, and again.

    LOOK UP! Bird Watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate (Candlewick, Ages 8-12)

    Now that the weather is warmer, here’s a perfect book to encourage kids (and even adults!) to get outside and check out the most accessible wildlife around: birds. This introduction to bird watching features fun full-color illustrations that portray dozens of birds conversing about their unique characteristics, including color, shape, plumage, and beak and foot types. Whimsical cartoons depict dialogues between birds, characters, and the reader. Interactive and enjoyable tips bring an age-old hobby to new life for the next generation of bird-watchers.

    LAST-BUT-NOT-LEAST LOLA GOING GREEN by Christine Pakkala (Boyds Mills Press, Ages 7-10)

    Lola Zuckerman – forever last (due to her last name starting with a “Z”), but never least – is determined to win her class’s “Going Green” contest this year. After all, her brother won it a few years ago. And she can’t allow her ex-best-friend Amanda Anderson (who is always first) to take this year’s prize. Will Lola’s “green” idea come out ahead of everyone else’s? This first title in a new chapter book series features an engaging story, along with some excellent “green tips” (such as recycling and composting) for a classroom or a home.)

    THE LORAX by Dr. Seuss (Random House Books for Young Readers, Ages 6-9)

    Celebrating Earth Day wouldn’t be complete without reading this classic tale about preserving our environment. With unique characters and whimsical rhymes, Dr. Seuss tells a tale that’s also an ecological warning, and leaves the readers with a potent message: “Unless someone like you…cares a whole awful lot…nothing is going to get better…It’s not.”

    Kerry McManus, Marketing Manager at Highlights for Children

  4. Apr 18
    Darling Girl Calms Newborn Sister
When big sister Jessica meets her newborn sister for the first time, something adorable happens. Little Vanessa began to cry, but big sis sweetly assured her that she was fine. (via youtube.com)
Double the Cute! Baby, Dog Wear Matching Outfits in Adorable Photo Series
There’s nothing quite like the bond between a little boy and his four-legged friend. And, thanks to a mom and her camera, the rest of the world can enjoy the adorableness that’s become an Internet sensation. (via today.com)
Why Babies Cry at Night
Harvard University biology professor David Haig has a new perspective on babies nighttime crying. (via npr.org)
These Adorable Babies Are Really, Really Happy Daddy Is Home
These youngsters’ joyous reactions to their fathers walking through the door will warm your heart. (via metro.co.uk)

    Darling Girl Calms Newborn Sister

    When big sister Jessica meets her newborn sister for the first time, something adorable happens. Little Vanessa began to cry, but big sis sweetly assured her that she was fine. (via youtube.com)

    Double the Cute! Baby, Dog Wear Matching Outfits in Adorable Photo Series

    There’s nothing quite like the bond between a little boy and his four-legged friend. And, thanks to a mom and her camera, the rest of the world can enjoy the adorableness that’s become an Internet sensation. (via today.com)

    Why Babies Cry at Night

    Harvard University biology professor David Haig has a new perspective on babies nighttime crying. (via npr.org)

    These Adorable Babies Are Really, Really Happy Daddy Is Home

    These youngsters’ joyous reactions to their fathers walking through the door will warm your heart. (via metro.co.uk)

  5. Apr 15
    It’s the Happy Family Baby Goodies Giveaway!   Enter for your chance to win a tote full of organic goodies and more, just for baby, from Happy Family.

    It’s the Happy Family Baby Goodies Giveaway!

       
  6. Apr 11
    Boy Plays with Otter
Or is the otter playing with the boy? (via youtube.com)
Project to Improve Poor Children’s Intellect Led to Better Health, Data Show
In 1972, researchers in North Carolina started following two groups of babies from poor families. Forty-two years later, the researchers found something that they had not expected to see. (via nytimes.com)
Teacher Fulfills a Lifelong Promise
Remember that funny assignment in 9th grade where you had to write a letter to yourself in 20 years? Bruce Farrer, a retired high school teacher in Canada does, and he’s mailing the many thousands of notes he’s saved throughout the years to all his former students in order to fulfill a lifelong promise. (via sunnyskyz.com)
These Babies Are Sweet and Sour
Toronto based filmmakers produce a hysterical online film that shows babies’ reactions to eating a slice of lemon. (via nydailynews.com)

    Boy Plays with Otter

    Or is the otter playing with the boy? (via youtube.com)

    Project to Improve Poor Children’s Intellect Led to Better Health, Data Show

    In 1972, researchers in North Carolina started following two groups of babies from poor families. Forty-two years later, the researchers found something that they had not expected to see. (via nytimes.com)

    Teacher Fulfills a Lifelong Promise

    Remember that funny assignment in 9th grade where you had to write a letter to yourself in 20 years? Bruce Farrer, a retired high school teacher in Canada does, and he’s mailing the many thousands of notes he’s saved throughout the years to all his former students in order to fulfill a lifelong promise. (via sunnyskyz.com)

    These Babies Are Sweet and Sour

    Toronto based filmmakers produce a hysterical online film that shows babies’ reactions to eating a slice of lemon. (via nydailynews.com)

  7. Apr 8
    Incorporating Math into Daily Activities   When we set the table, count change, or decide which food item is a better value, we are doing the math of everyday life. When children can count to ten or more, people sometimes say, “They know their numbers!” But knowing what those numbers mean is more complicated. It takes much practice manipulating sets of objects before children truly understand the concept of number.
Fingerplays and songs are great ways to do math. When you use your fingers to demonstrate the action in the classic fingerplay “Ten Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed,” children can see what happens when you subtract one from a bigger number. When a child holds up three fingers to tell how old she is, she probably won’t say, “Oh, look! Three is less than five!” But she is beginning to see the difference between three and five.
Each day, there are simple ways to help your kids learn more about numbers. Count together as you move markers on a board game. Set the table and make sure you have an equal number of forks and spoons. Notice what happens to a set of three cookies after eating one. Before you know it, you’ll be having fun doing math together!
How do you incorporate math into your daily activities?
  Posted By Kathleen Hayes

    Incorporating Math into Daily Activities

       

    When we set the table, count change, or decide which food item is a better value, we are doing the math of everyday life. When children can count to ten or more, people sometimes say, “They know their numbers!” But knowing what those numbers mean is more complicated. It takes much practice manipulating sets of objects before children truly understand the concept of number.

    Fingerplays and songs are great ways to do math. When you use your fingers to demonstrate the action in the classic fingerplay “Ten Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed,” children can see what happens when you subtract one from a bigger number. When a child holds up three fingers to tell how old she is, she probably won’t say, “Oh, look! Three is less than five!” But she is beginning to see the difference between three and five.

    Each day, there are simple ways to help your kids learn more about numbers. Count together as you move markers on a board game. Set the table and make sure you have an equal number of forks and spoons. Notice what happens to a set of three cookies after eating one. Before you know it, you’ll be having fun doing math together!

    How do you incorporate math into your daily activities?

    Posted By Kathleen Hayes
  8. Apr 4
    Kids Asked What They Would Do if They Had 5 More Years to Live
After listening to what these kids will do with five extra years, it’s really hard to deny them that time. Let’s work on giving them the lifespan they deserve. (via upworthy.com)
Little Girl Finds a New Best Friend – Her Shadow
As a little kid, you discover new things every single day. One toddler was captured having a major revelation about something that was right underneath her all along — her shadow! (via yahoo.com)
Artist Turns Babies’ Head-Shaping Helmets into Impressive Works of Art
Paula Strawn paints for a living, but she doesn’t need an easel or paper — the California woman decorates corrective helmets for infants with beautiful, customized designs. (via huffingtonpost.com)
Mom Teaches Baby to Say First Word
A mom and her adorable baby share a joyful moment over a very first word. The moms reaction and then the baby laughing… priceless. (via sunnyskyz.com)
10 Profound Children’s Book Quotes That Probably Changed Your Life 
Think back to the books you read as a kid—chances are there was that one line from that one book that completely changed the way you thought about life, whether it was the poignant last phrase of The Polar Express or a quietly wise revelation from Winnie the Pooh. (via parade.com)

    Kids Asked What They Would Do if They Had 5 More Years to Live

    After listening to what these kids will do with five extra years, it’s really hard to deny them that time. Let’s work on giving them the lifespan they deserve. (via upworthy.com)

    Little Girl Finds a New Best Friend – Her Shadow

    As a little kid, you discover new things every single day. One toddler was captured having a major revelation about something that was right underneath her all along — her shadow! (via yahoo.com)

    Artist Turns Babies’ Head-Shaping Helmets into Impressive Works of Art

    Paula Strawn paints for a living, but she doesn’t need an easel or paper — the California woman decorates corrective helmets for infants with beautiful, customized designs. (via huffingtonpost.com)

    Mom Teaches Baby to Say First Word

    A mom and her adorable baby share a joyful moment over a very first word. The moms reaction and then the baby laughing… priceless. (via sunnyskyz.com)

    10 Profound Children’s Book Quotes That Probably Changed Your Life 

    Think back to the books you read as a kid—chances are there was that one line from that one book that completely changed the way you thought about life, whether it was the poignant last phrase of The Polar Express or a quietly wise revelation from Winnie the Pooh. (via parade.com)

  9. Apr 3
    When Poetry Knocks on the Door   One thing I’ve come to believe for sure: children and poetry are a natural fit. Both love to play.  Both love to pretend.  A child is a fireman, a cook, an office worker, a teacher, a spy, or a superhero creating their own world of make-believe. Poems, too, are make-believe of a different sort; sweet and wild bits of imagination on the page.

As a child, we didn’t have poetry books around our house, but we had nursery rhymes, and jump rope rhymes, and the treasured “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” as well as the exuberant song “London Bridge Is Falling Down.” And oh, how I embraced the familiarity of them all; the rhythm and  rhymes and whimsical words.

When I began to write poetry for children, I never thought of it as “children’s poetry.” Even though I was writing about snowmen and stars, muffins and moons and other whimsical and magical things, I never thought of it as just children’s poetry, but poetry plain and true.

Poetry inspires young imaginations and creativity. It nudges a child to look at something in a new way. The world is full of metaphors, and children have a natural way of spotting them, but reading poetry encourages them to notice and find these comparisons.

A poem can be many things to a child; a good laugh, a good cry, a safe place.  A poem can be a child’s best friend when they need one, or a  candle of light in a dark place. And what better reason to encourage children to open the door —- when poetry knocks.
 Rebecca Kai Dotlich is a children’s poet and picture book author who grew up in the Midwest exploring trails by the creek, reading comic books, making paper dolls and building snowmen. She gives poetry workshops, visits classrooms across the country, and speaks at conferences, retreats, libraries and schools to teachers, aspiring writers and students of all ages.

    When Poetry Knocks on the Door

       

    One thing I’ve come to believe for sure: children and poetry are a natural fit. Both love to play.  Both love to pretend.  A child is a fireman, a cook, an office worker, a teacher, a spy, or a superhero creating their own world of make-believe. Poems, too, are make-believe of a different sort; sweet and wild bits of imagination on the page.

    As a child, we didn’t have poetry books around our house, but we had nursery rhymes, and jump rope rhymes, and the treasured “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” as well as the exuberant song “London Bridge Is Falling Down.” And oh, how I embraced the familiarity of them all; the rhythm and  rhymes and whimsical words.

    When I began to write poetry for children, I never thought of it as “children’s poetry.” Even though I was writing about snowmen and stars, muffins and moons and other whimsical and magical things, I never thought of it as just children’s poetry, but poetry plain and true.

    Poetry inspires young imaginations and creativity. It nudges a child to look at something in a new way. The world is full of metaphors, and children have a natural way of spotting them, but reading poetry encourages them to notice and find these comparisons.

    A poem can be many things to a child; a good laugh, a good cry, a safe place.  A poem can be a child’s best friend when they need one, or a  candle of light in a dark place. And what better reason to encourage children to open the door —- when poetry knocks.

    Rebecca Kai Dotlich is a children’s poet and picture book author who grew up in the Midwest exploring trails by the creek, reading comic books, making paper dolls and building snowmen. She gives poetry workshops, visits classrooms across the country, and speaks at conferences, retreats, libraries and schools to teachers, aspiring writers and students of all ages.

  10. Apr 2
    Natural Easter Egg Dye   Does your family dye hard-boiled eggs every year for Easter? This year, try making your own natural dyes using food and drinks found in your kitchen.To make a dye from vegetables, simmer equal parts water and a vegetable of choice. You can experiment with different vegetables to get different colors. We’ve found that the brown, dry skin of an onion makes a golden color. The green tops of carrots or beets produce a pale green. Celery leaves make yellow.For a blue dye, mash blueberries and simmer them in a few inches of water.Certain drinks also work as natural dyes. Coffee right out of the pot makes brown, while tea makes tan. For a soft lilac, use grape juice.Place an egg into a dye and turn it over with a spoon to dye all its sides. Once the egg has reached a shade you like, remove the egg from the dye and dry it on a paper towel.


 By Lee Bock

    Natural Easter Egg Dye

       

    Does your family dye hard-boiled eggs every year for Easter? This year, try making your own natural dyes using food and drinks found in your kitchen.

    1. To make a dye from vegetables, simmer equal parts water and a vegetable of choice. You can experiment with different vegetables to get different colors. We’ve found that the brown, dry skin of an onion makes a golden color. The green tops of carrots or beets produce a pale green. Celery leaves make yellow.
    2. For a blue dye, mash blueberries and simmer them in a few inches of water.
    3. Certain drinks also work as natural dyes. Coffee right out of the pot makes brown, while tea makes tan. For a soft lilac, use grape juice.
    4. Place an egg into a dye and turn it over with a spoon to dye all its sides. Once the egg has reached a shade you like, remove the egg from the dye and dry it on a paper towel.

    By Lee Bock