Take advantage of the clear Summer Skies! There are many opportunities to have fun this Summer, and one of them require only your backyard, some family and friends, and a clear night. The answer? Stargazing! It’s not only a fun, bonding experience but you and your little ones can learn something new!
Our galaxy is filled with planets, comets, asteroids, nebulas, black holes, and stars! Everyone should take advantage of the beautiful view available anywhere on a clear night. Not only is it fun and inspiring to look at the amazing night sky, there are also many chances to learning something new about our Universe. Here are some facts and information to answer any questions your little ones might have!
What are stars?
Remember the song “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star?” It perfectly describes our fascination with those twinkly dots of light! They are bright, but some are brighter than others. They are also extremely distant from us. The closest stars to Earth after the Sun (yes, the Sun is a star!) are Alpha Centauri A and Alpha Centauri B, which form a binary pair (two stars that orbit each other). The third star, which may or may not be part of our solar system, is Proxima Centauri and is about 4.22 light-years from Earth.
Stars are made out of very hot gases and produce their own energy. There are many types of stars and when a star gets old (think several billion years!), it starts to die and all of its gases are pushed into space. New stars are soon made out of those gases. Yes, even stars recycle! Some of the heavy metals found in human chemistry and other life on our planet were created from dying stars. You can scientifically say we all have a little star dust in us!
What about those shapes and patterns?
The patterns seen up in the sky are called constellations. They are patterns made out of stars, each different than the other, varying from animals to mythological creatures. But you can’t see all of the 88 modern constellations in one night. While some are visible right from your backyard, there are even more on the other side of the world.
Some cool constellations you must see:
- Orion – Named after a hunter from Greek mythology, you can see it from all over the world! Just look for the distinctive 3 star belt.
- Ursa Major & Ursa Minor a.k.a Big Dipper & Little Dipper – They can be found right near each other and look like large, square spoons.
- Hercules – Dedicated to the strong and immortal son of Zeus, the king of the mythological Greek gods, it is the fifth largest of the modern constellations.
- Draco – Latin for “Dragon” and shaped like the fantastical mythological creature, this constellation can be seen all year.
How to Stargaze:
Everyone will enjoy this wonderful night activity on a warm summer night or anytime of the year. Here are some directions to get started:
1. Check your local weather reports for the best clear night to stargaze. Here’s a great website to check besides your local weather report: http://www.noaa.gov
Tip: The best night to stargaze is one before a rest day or the weekend as you will be pretty tired after a long night of stargazing!
2. Have supplies ready before the night of the event:
• Clothes and blankets, bundle up in layers, the temperature could suddenly drop at night even though it summer
• Pillows, rug, blanket or anything comfortable to lay down on and keep you dry and clean
• Snacks and drinks to nibble on while watching
- NASA App
- Sky Map
3. Chose a location. It could vary from your backyard to your nearest park. Keep in mind to choose a location with the fewest lights to have a better view of the starlight!
4. Decide on when to go, gather all your supplies, and have fun! Consider waiting for one of the several meteor showers throughout the year. Count how many shooting stars you see and don’t forget to make a wish! Here’s a list of meteor showers in 2014:
|Name||Date of Peak||Moon|
|Quadrantids||Night of January 2||Just past new|
|Lyrids||Night of April 21||Rises around 3 a.m.|
|Eta Aquarids||Night of May 5||Sets after midnight|
|Comet 209P/LINEAR||Night of May 23||Early morning crescent|
|Perseids||Night of August 12||In view most of the night|
|Orionids||Night of October 21||Dawn crescent|
|Leonids||Nights of November 16/17||Early morning crescent|
|Geminids||Night of December 13||In view after midnigh|
Obsessed with stargazing or don’t have the time to do it during the week?
Stargaze right from your home with this quick craft!
- An old jar with its lid
- Blue or black construction paper or use markers/crayons/colored pencils to color recycled paper
- A hole puncher
- A glow stick
- Roll up the construction paper inside your jar and cut out any excess that overlaps so it fits exactly inside the jar.
- Hole punch “stars” anywhere on the construction. Tip: Want authentic star patterns? Use this Constellations guide to help you draw constellations.
- Roll the construction paper inside the jar and place 2-3 glowsticks or battery operated lights inside.
- Twist on lid to jar to close tightly.
- Turn off all the lights and enjoy your new stargazing jar!
Stargaze this weekend or even tonight to see the Perseids Meteor Shower! Share your star gazing tips with Chipper below.
During summer and spring we all see our gardens and surroundings fill with gorgeous flowers that we want to bring inside to liven the house! Let your kids feel as though they are a helpful part of decorating the house with these fun vases made out of recycled cans. Not only are crafts fun, they help improve emotional, physical and mental development! Read more about the benefits of crafting.
Encourage spending quality family time together with this project and get out of the house and into nature to explore allowing your children to develop a connection. It’s very beneficial and important to take a break from your busy week and enjoy the outdoors with your loved ones! Read about the importance of spending time in nature.
What you need:
- Metal Can (soup or food can; or go big with a coffee can or oatmeal container)
- Glue or Tape
- Construction Paper or Recycles Paper
- Extras: Paper, Cotton Balls, Ribbons, Buttons, Pipe Cleaners, or anything fun you want to stick on your can
- Optional: Flower Seeds and Soil
Sit down as a family and let your minds go wild! Make a can that encompasses your personality that you would be proud to have around the house. Clean out the cans and make sure all materials are laid out before you begin the project.
- To make a woven paper decoration for your can as seen above, just cut 1 inch thick strips of paper from two different colors of construction paper (or try using folded strips of Newspaper from the Funnies section!)
- Lay two strips of your paper in the shape of a plus sign and tape them together. Weave another strip through and tape the ends of horizontal strips to one of the vertical strips, alternating top and bottom attachments.
- Weave the remaining vertical strips, securing their ends to the top and bottom horizontal strips. Trim off any extra paper and use tape or glue to attach to your can!
- Once your cans are done, take a family hike to pick up flowers to put in the cans. Or add dirt and some seeds to grow your own plants in the can.
- Place somewhere fun in the house and enjoy! Make sure to read directions on your seed packet and put it in the sun if you decide to grow your own flowers.
What other uses can you find for your decorated can? Share with Chipper in the comments below!
This Thursday, families and friends across the country will celebrate our nation’s independence –flaunting red, white, and blue on the Fourth of July. It was in 1776 – 234 years ago – that our fore father’s signed the Declaration of Independence. Written by Thomas Jefferson, it is the day America declared itself independent of the British Empire.
So as parades go by and communities celebrate, Chipper’s Tips assure everyone will be in full cheer:
1. Stay Together! Large crowds often form on Fourth of July fireworks displays, parades, and other such outside events, so please stay close together to ensure everyone’s safety. Pick an easy and familiar spot to meet at in case someone gets lost. Remember Chipper’s tip: “You can play, but don’t stray.”
2. Be safe! Fireworks are dangerous when not handled properly, so keep children at a safe distance and under constant parent supervision.
3. Careful cooking! When barbecuing, prevent injuries or burns by making sure all children stay away from the cooking area and keep all fires under control with water nearby at campsites in case of an emergency. Don’t forget to leave no trace and clean up afterwards, making sure all flames are put out.
4. Think of your Pets! Pets often become frightened with loud noises such as those made by fireworks, so be prepared to either leave them at home, bring something to shelter them with, or bring something that might help comfort them in such a distressful time. Most importantly, prevent possible injuries by restraining them in some way and ensuring that they, too, keep their distance from all fireworks as well.
5. Sun Protection! Remember to re-apply sunscreen every two hours or so to prevent any possible sun damage. Chipper’s tip: “From your head to your toes, and don’t forget your nose.”
Have a Chipper 4th of July!
Summertime is the perfect time to let kids explore while you’re outside; whether in your backyard, the beach, or a local park keeping everyone within eyesight or earshot creates a safe space for children to exercise some independence. And these explorations usually end up with kids coming back to you with pockets full of special “finds.”
This week we welcome our summer Chipper Intern, Alexa Swartz, and her ideas on where to put the treasures you decide to keep.
Chipper Intern – Alexa Swartz
I remember collecting things as a child when out hiking with my family. Many items are a part of nature so my parents always taught us the principals of Leave No Trace which meant we needed to leave most of what we found with nature and the animals using it as a resource for their habitat. But some items made it home and the mementos soon took over drawers and countertops. I like thinking back on this time and I realize it’s so easy to allow kids to contain these souvenirs with fun containers to store them in!
As an intern for Lets Go Chipper I will be posting weekly container crafts to offer ideas for all your keepsakes – they even make great packaging ideas for birthday gifts or housewarming gifts.
Not only will these crafts create a fun way for kids to store all their pieces of summer, but making crafts actually helps improve fine motor skills, strategic thinking and builds self-esteem in the process. Read more about the benefits of crafting!
Week 1: The Gum Container
What you need:
- A plastic gum container
- Mod Podge, glue, or tape
- Pipe Cleaners
- Magazines, paper, paint or anything you want to stick on your container
How to make your container:
- Set out materials on an easily cleanable surface allowing your child to create without worry. Breaking down a cardboard box is an easy way to create a workspace that protects counters or tables you don’t want to get dirty.
- Encourage your child to make a plan and think about what they want before immediately jumping in.
- Feel free to create! There is no right or wrong in this project so let their imaginations take flight and see what the container ends up looking like. Let them use any medium and design they want. This project is about the process and fun and memories that come from creating the container, don’t dwell on if the child will like the outcome and just let them enjoy the process.
- Enjoy! Fill the container with anything, from pens and pencils at school, to sticks and rocks found around the garden. Let it contain whatever the child perceives to be important to them.
What else would you do with this container? Share with Chipper in the comments below!
Let’s Go Chipper! … Into the Great Outdoors
Today’s children are losing their connection with our natural world and spend over seven hours a day of “screen time.” The negative effects are lack of physical exercise and opportunities to explore creatively and exercise our critical thinking. That’s the research, but what if we just go on our gut instinct and reflect on how our days unfold?
When we pause the “research and worry” button and consider our basic desire to connect with our children and just play, we should all feel confident in just saying “yes” to taking time to join our kids on the floor, grass, or on the swing set! Adventure into the park, take a walk around the block, or get the bikes out. Nature is waiting for us.
Children in touch with their natural environment are healthier, do better in school, have increased creativity and improved concentration. Realizing these benefits and sharing adventures and experiences help broaden a child’s perspective on life which leads to a stronger emotional spirit. Even more so leading children in guided experiences, engaging in hands on activities, and exciting conversation will inspire a contributive spirit so today’s child will become a more conscientious, involved student and member of the community.
So what can we do?
- Let’s get physical – Be active, play outside, and just excite a sense of freedom to explore
- Connect with the outdoors – Provide access to safe, green spaces
- Discover the five senses – Provide activities which will engage seeing things in nature, listening to nature, touching, smelling … even tasting
- Participate – Provide opportunities for your kids to engage in the process and therefore be interested in taking care of the animals they find in nature
Most importantly for parents – don’t fear getting dirty. We say, “It’s not a good day unless you do a load of laundry.” So next time you have the urge to check your phone or text a friend when your child is close by, put it back in the bag … maybe play a little “tag” and see how letting go can make you feel connected to your child and remind you of how easy it is to build your own care free spirit.
How do you get outdoors with the kids? Share with Chipper!
Explore the outdoors with your little one(s) and collect nature materials to make cute critters! Not only will you a foster a connection with nature, your kids can also exercise their imaginations and creativity. There is so much you can find outside: nuts, rocks, sticks, leaves, petals, and more.
Chipper Playfully Teaches: Earth and Space Science, Creative Arts and Fine Motor Skills.
Adventure into the great outdoors with young children and use the natural materials as craft supplies for creating creatures from the children’s imagination or animals identified on the walks.
Timing: One Hour
Explore and collect: 15 minutes
Craft Time: 30 minutes
Extra 15 minutes: Travel time and padding because projects with young children will always take longer than you plan!
What you need:
- Reusable tote to carry found treasures
- Cardboard bases from recycled boxes and scrap paper and materials for accessorizing crafts
- Glue and string
- A partner or chaperone
- Explain the rules of staying together “You can play, but don’t stray!” and the project
- Check off that everyone has their tote for collecting items. While exploring, be it in the backyard of a school facility, house, childcare center, or beyond the yard, keep children on track by talking about what they might find; the colors, shapes, texture and more.
- Assist young children with glue or glue gun and string assembly.
- Welcome conversation while exploring. What do you see, hear, smell and feel?
Upon returning, sit down and talk about the items in the bag and what can be made; a butterfly from leaves, a nature cake, a boat from sticks, a car from rocks and bark. Welcome the conversation and encourage the creativity!
A veggie garden is a great place to teach your youngsters valuable lessons while spending satisfying time together. Gardening is more entertaining than any video game; I have yet to meet a child who didn’t get a kick out of playing in the dirt, planting seeds and watching them grow. And finally, there’s no better way to get kids to eat veggies than to grow their own.
So where do you start? These 10 ideas just might inspire your gardener-in-training:
- Take a field trip. Visit a farmers market or produce aisle and talk about what you see. Explain the life cycle of a veggie, from seed to fruit to dinner table. Have kids taste-test a few varieties, then help them plant the ones they like.
- Let them choose. While at a nursery or garden center, ask your kids to pick out a few seeds or plants they want to grow. Also let them select any extras, like trellises or containers. If they’re involved at the very beginning, they’re more likely to remain interested throughout the growing season.
- Give ‘em some space. Pint-size gardeners love to have their own little section of a garden. They’ll treat this space with extra-special care. Let them make the decisions, from what gets planted to keeping the occasional “pet” weed.
- Tools of the trade. On birthdays or other occasions, give your children a colorful garden tool, apron or hat. Make it a game to get dressed up as a gardener when it’s time to play outside.
- Family history lesson. Use your time outside as an opportunity to tell kids about your family. Was Great-Grandpa a gardener? Did Aunt Nora grow heirloom tomatoes? It’s a great way to get them interested in relatives and radishes at the same time.
- Theme gardens. Try an alphabet garden, where your kids choose everything from asparagus to zucchini. Or create a garden of miniatures with cherry tomatoes or mini-pumpkins.
- Be realistic. You can’t expect a 6-year-old to spend an afternoon weeding, so you’ll have to perform some of the mundane tasks yourself. When kids do tackle these chores, don’t expect perfection—a few jagged rows or a weed here and there won’t matter. Remember that kids have short attention spans, so make your garden a fun place where they can see real results.
- Let’s go crazy. Kids love unusual varieties, so don’t be a conformist. Instead, walk on the wild side with yellow tomatoes, white eggplants, purple carrots, brightly colored chard and giant pumpkins.
- Teachable moments. Explain how natural vegetable gardening promotes healthy living by providing safe, nutritious, low-cost food for the family. Also point out that growing your own veggies means more exercise, no pesticides and less pollution from delivery trucks.
- Continue in the kitchen. Invite your children to help you make dinner by adding cut-up garden produce to a salad or soup, and let them snack on a few as you cook. Don’t be surprised if they learn to love veggies.
Plan a community garden for your school or neighborhood! Collect spare change to fund the project and teach your kids how they can help make change for the better!
10 Best Veggies For Kids To Grow
- Sugar snap peas. Kids love to eat them fresh off the vine and they are packed with Vitamin C!
- Lettuce. Easy to grow and lots of cool color varieties, plus it contains a considerable amount of iron.
- Pumpkins. Plant a smaller variety, like Jack Be Little, for your smaller helpers. Don’t forget to eat the seeds which help keep heart heathy!
- Radishes. Within a month, these fast growers are ready to pick AND they help keep away allergy sniffles.. Just for giggles, try red, white and purple varieties.
- Carrots. Quick-growing carrots are perfect for short attention spans. In addition, they are filled with powerful vitamins that support your eye sight.
- Potatoes. Kids really dig potatoes, which are as much fun to harvest as to eat. These nutrient-dense veggies can be cooked dozens of ways!
- Green beans. The big seeds are fun and easy to plant. Plus they are packed with Vitamin B!
- Cherry tomatoes. Little hands love to pick these tiny fruits. They are sweet and nutritious, filled with fiber, protein and Vitamin C.
- Sunflowers. These beauties take off without much work, and come in tall or small varieties. Plus, it’s fun to harvest the seeds, or leave out the seed heads to attract birds.
- Broccoli. Like many veggies, garden-fresh broccoli tastes sweeter than store-bought. Broccoli is also a powerful antioxidant and great for bone health.
What other veggies do you kids love to grow? Share with Chipper in the comments!
Celebrate Easter and Earth Day with this cute recycle bunny craft! For many of us, Easter is the Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion. For others, this time of Spring celebrates the Jewish holiday of Passover. However, for those who aren’t religious, Easter is followed with the tradition of coloring hard-boiled eggs and giving baskets of candy.
This tradition of bunnies, eggs and candy go back to the holiday’s root purpose: procreation! Easter was originally the celebration of Ishtar, the ancient Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility. Her symbols (like the egg and the bunny) were and still are fertility and sex symbols. After Roman Emperor Constantine decided to Christianize the Empire, Easter was changed to represent the rebirth Jesus as well as the spring season of birth and growth. Who knew!
Have some fun with your kids creating this colorful and playful bunny from a recycled toilet roll. Create a habitat for the bunny with other recycled material and let your children’s imaginations roam or take it outside and explore nature with your recycle craft bunny!
- Recycled Toilet Roll
- Paper (Chipper used red and white but choose any two colors or use paint!)
- Googly Eyes
- Cut two long skinny bunny ears out in the same color and cut two more smaller ones out in a different color. Glue the smaller ones inside of the larger ones to create bunny ears.
- Cover the roll with paper your used for larger ears, cut with scissors to fit and tape or glue to attach to toilet roll. Or paint it whatever color you like!
- Glue the ears to the inside of the toilet paper roll with smaller ears facing forward.
- Glue on googly eyes and small pompoms for nose and tail. Add any other decorations that you can think of!
- Draw on whiskers with marker or pen. Try adding a smiling bunny face too!
- Place your bunny somewhere around the house or classroom OR go outside and hop around!
Make it a teachable moment! Check out these fun facts about bunnies and share with your little ones. Have a Chipper Easter! :)
“Different Not Less”
Can you believe we have a generation growing up realizing that we are all different and that we should celebrate not criticize, shame, nor ignore individuals needing our kindness and support. We live during a time when parents have enough information teach their children acceptance and even more so to acknowledge that we all have a right to reach our potential? We share knowledge through so many channels and, collectively, we can make change for the better.
One of the best ways to teach your children acceptance is through education. Give age-appropriate information and then look for influential and inspiring individuals either aligned with the cause or someone faced with the challenges. Share your own experiences as a child and how you overcame indifferences through education.
When you educate you empower empathy and the interest to help. Collaborate within your community and come up with ideas to support causes or share Chipper’s Making Change for the Better initiative where every person can help reduce waste while increasing financial support for others in need.
April marks Autism Awareness and Acceptance month and Earth Day – so we have reasons to celebrate when noting causes which support people and nature … a very Chipper cause!
We are moved and inspired by the work of Dr. Temple Grandin, animal science doctor, professor, best selling author, autism activist and probably most noted in the livestock industry as an exceptional animal behaviorist for her teaching the industry more humane livestock handling processes. In 2004, Grandin received the “Proggy” award in the “Visionary” category, from PETA. It should be noted that Dr. Temple Grandin was diagnosed with Autism at the age of two but she regularly speaks and shares of her success stemming from early support and a supportive foundation built by family and educators. Read her most recent book.
Autism Awareness: Make Change for the Better!
Educate and Inspire Action
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex set of neurological disorders and developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. ASD is generally diagnosed before three years of age. There is no known cause of autism, but early intervention plays a huge role in treatment and can greatly improve a child’s development.
Autism is a spectrum condition; this means that although some people with autism may share certain difficulties; their conditions may affect them in different ways. Many individuals with autism can live independent lives but others may need a lifetime of special support. In March 2012, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued their ADDM autism prevalence report. The report revealed that 1 in every 88 births in the United States is shown to have a form of autism. The report also shows on average 1 in 54 boys were diagnosed with autism, and 1 in 252 girls. Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S.
- There is no medical detection or cure for autism
- Autism costs a family $60,000 a year on average
- Autism receives less than 5% of the research funding of many prevalent childhood diseases
- Boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to have autism
- The annual cost of autism is $60 billion
- The annual cost of autism per person over a lifespan is 3.2 million
- The annual cost of autism is $60 billion
- 60% of costs are in adult services
When we all work together we can help fund more research into the causes of autism, provide families with financial support, and increase awareness and acceptance of autism spectrum disorders.
Did you know? One 14.5 ounce can (standard soup can) filled with mixed coins can average anywhere from $12 – $45+. Imagine if you find a few dollar bills laying around as well – put them in the can and let’s help contribute.Your spare change makes a difference!
Download Chipper’s Making Change for the Better label and wrap a can or container. Collect your spare change and donate to an organization or a local support chapter.
Join Chipper in making change for the better!!!
The snow is melting, the time has changed and the weather is officially transitioning to warmer days that linger into the night. It’s spring. What a time to connect.
What other reason do you need to take your kids outside – sunshine synthesizes the vitamin D, fresh air helps clear the mind, and the trails are ready so pull out the map. Overwhelmed by what to do? Then ease into the change; stay home and get to know your backyard, front porch, even your windowsill. It’s time to garden!
Tilling the soil is tactile which excites the senses. Allowing your child to touch the soil when planting gives them the physical experience which is beneficial especially to kinesthetic learners. The gentle push of a seed into a can or container inspires an emotional connection. Ask questions like “what will grow here,” “how will you take care of your seed?”
By taking time to brighten up your home with plants and flowers you welcome a new season while teaching your child about weather, caring for the environment, parenting, and even cooking! Planting carrots takes just a few feet sideways and down and the magic of pulling out a crunchy snack from the ground in the middle of summer is something to remember. Have you ever wondered how long it takes to grow a carrot or the many different shapes – take a look here!
At the end of the day, watering and checking your plants gives your children a sense of responsibility and an appreciation for schedules. If you are considering flowers, hop on over to one of our favorite blogs – Frog Mom and see what’s growing on.
The biggest “aha” for parents is the reminder that getting dirty has its benefits and place in a child’s life …so let’s get growing! We’ll see you in the garden.
You see the signs right? And it seems obvious but millions of pounds of trash and plastic enter our waterways through our curbside drainage system each year. The effect on our plant and sea life is huge: about 22,000 bodies of water in the United States are considered “impaired” by the Environmental Protection Agency due to this pollution.
As we celebrate National Wildlife Week and the theme being “water,” be inspired to take action over just acknowledging the importance of clean water for our animals on land and sea.
What we can do:
- If you see it, own it: Lead by example and pick up trash when you see it on the ground. Use good judgment, plastic/foil chip bags, paper bags, and plastic bottles are generally safe to pick up but be safe first.
- Make the grade: Collaborate with your classroom and take a walk through the neighborhood. A good stroll is healthy for both mind and body and the clean up helps foster a deeper connection with your community.
- Power to the Park Ranger – Chipper is the most enthusiastic ambassador in town and always pays respect to the ranger. Invite your local state or national park ranger, or junior ranger, into the classroom to teach kids about streams, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, even the little puddle along the path. All give life to the forest and eventually make it to the sea. Teaching kids the principals of Leave No Trace will inspire them to pick up any litter along the trails during spring and summer hiking and camping adventures
Here are some great tips and things to keep in mind:
Collaborate as a family, school, and community and join Chipper in Making Change for the Better – what we do as individuals makes a different for all …Let’s go Chipper and remember to give a little thumbs up to the National Wildlife Federation!
Rainy season has arrived! Whether you are experiencing snow and rain in the North West or a sunny summer on the opposite hemisphere, condensation is a common occurrence that can turn into an educational lesson for your little one(s).
In the car or at home, windows fog and water drops form. In the bathroom after a long shower, mirrors get fogged. Use these teachable moments to talk about the water cycle and it’s importance to our entire planet. Let your kids know about water conservation, especially during droughts, when bathing, brushing teeth, or washing dishes and clothes. As the saying goes, “Waste not, want not!” The more we save, the more have in the long run!
Water is important for our survival and also for the survival of plants and animals. During rainy season, explore the outdoors and search for little critters soaking in the rain like Chester the Wise Old Frog and Bruce the Banana Slug. Some animals and plants need more water than others. Humans, for example, should drink around 2-3 liters of water a day, where as giraffes get most of their moisture from leaves, so they can go months without drinking water!
Teach your kiddos about the following terms so they become familiar with the water cycle! Try some of the activities to illustrate their meaning and give your child an opportunity to really understand this important ecological process.
1. Evaporation is when the sun heats up water in rivers or lakes or the ocean and turns it into vapor or steam. The water vapor or steam leaves the river, lake or ocean and goes into the air, forming clouds.
Illustrate: Boil some water in a kettle so children can see the vapor rising!
2. Condensation is when water vapor in the air gets cold and changes back into liquid, forming clouds. Clouds are made up of tiny water molecules.
Illustrate: Use a window, mirror or any glass surface and breath on it. Your warm breath forms a foggy layer that is like a thin cloud on your mirror! Use your fingers to draw a smiley face :)
3. Precipitation occurs when so much water has condensed that the air cannot hold it anymore. The water molecules start to bounce and shake (precipitate), making the cloud so heavy that the water falls back to the earth in the form of rain drop or rainfall. The water can also fall hail, sleet or snow depending on how cold it is.
Illustrate: Pour a glass of cold water on a hot day and watch what happens. Or if it’s still cold out, place a cup of warm water on the counter. Then put some ice on to a plate and place on top of the cup. Water will start to form on the outside of the glass and drip down the sides. That water didn’t somehow leak through the glass! It actually came from the air. Water vapor in the warm air turns back into liquid when it touches the cold glass. This is precipitation in action!
4. Collection: When water falls back to earth as precipitation, it may fall back in the oceans, lakes or rivers or it may end up on land. When it ends up on land, it will either soak into the earth and become part of the “ground water” that plants and animals use to drink or it may run over the soil and collect in the oceans, lakes or rivers where the cycle starts!
Illustrate: After a rainy day or snow fall, go outside with your kids and try to find evidence of water collection: puddles form, street gutters flow, and plants soak in the rain! Take a little trip and visit your local water reservoir to see where your town’s drinking water comes from. The more they see and experience, the more your children will understand!
What other ways can you illustrate the water cycle? Share with Chipper! We love hearing about your outdoor adventures and educational stories!
Americans represent 5% of the world’s population, but generate 30% of the world’s garbage. Now, more than ever, we need to do our part to reuse, reduce, recycle, reconsider and reimagine before we throw something away. Teaching our children to reduce waste is a crucial element to the future of our planet and species. Of the garbage Americans throw out, half could be recycled, which is enough to fill a football stadium from top to bottom everyday. Let’s work together to lower this number – we can start by being creative!
Recycling Resources for Plastic Bottle Caps
- Check with your city. Some cities do accept plastic bottle caps, but they may require that you remove the cap from the bottle and put it in the bin separately. The only way to find out is to check with your city. Try Googling something like “[YourCity] Plastic Recycling.” Lots of cities now have websites where that information is easy to access.
- Whole Foods. Some Whole Foods Markets and other grocery stores accept #5 plastic caps for recycling along with their plastic bag recycling. Next time you’re shopping, check their bins to see if yours does, too!
- Earth911. A go-to resource for any recycling question. You can search the Earth911 database for “plastic caps” to find facilities near you that will accept them.
- Caps Can Do. If you can’t find a local place to drop off your plastic caps for recycling, you can ship them to Caps Can Do, a company that specializes in recycling #5 plastic!
Recycling is great, but reusing is better when you consider how inefficient plastic recycling is. TThere are many fun ways to reuse plastic caps, no matter your skill level. The possibilities are endless when you go through your recycling and trash bins with a creative mindset! Recycle crafts in general help kids learn to come up with their own ideas, build their creative confidence and mobile skills, and envision new purposes for common objects.
For example, you can make some adorable magnets from recycled bottle caps or lids. Notorious for their longevity in the landfills (plastic takes over 1,000 years to degrade in a landfill!), plastic lids can be reimagined to make fun recycle crafts, gifts and decorations!
Plastic Bottle Cap Magnets
- Plastic lids and tops
- Permanent markers
- Hot glue gun or craft glue
- Sticky magnet tape to put your creations on the fridge
- Decorations: Multi-colored plastic (think of using the strip from around milk jugs or bread bag holders), construction paper, or felt…and any thing colorful you have around the house, like buttons, yarn, etc. Recycled magazines are perfect for cutting out letters and numbers to make into magnets.
- Optional: googly eyes for cute looking faces
- Cut wine corks if your lid is too deep to magnetize or just flip you lid and use the inside to decorate
Simply draw your face or creature on the lid with a permanent marker then use the hot glue gun or craft glue to add flare! From googly eyes, to pipe cleaners, have fun making monster lids, lady bug friends, or keep it simple with various facial expressions:
There are many thing you can do with your recycled plastic bottle caps and lids! Extend the life of your hand soap with a home-made soap dish from EcoKaren:
Make some cute stamps with your lids, styrofoam and some paint from The Long Thread:
Or save your bottle caps and lids by color and get crafty! Here are some example of some beautiful art pieces made with recycled plastic:
What can you craft with your plastic lids and bottle caps? Share with Chipper!
I’m a Chipper Mom: Review: Good Kids Apps
Puffs Playground App
A day long hike turning over rocks, jumping in and out of streams, and casting magical spells on each other was only made better by the sounds of my mom strumming her guitar singing “Puff the Magic Dragon” by the campfire. Even as a young girl, I always cried because it made me think of my first dog, Puff, a playful sheepdog ever loyal and at the ready to be my best friend. The song about a magical dragon sparked many adventures with my own imaginary friends. No matter where we went camping it always felt like the land called Honalee after that first night and most requested campfire song.
Imagination is a powerful tool for children and when we nourish it we help foster the creative spirit which even scientist say is necessary. Dr. Michio Kaku, Theoretical Physicist and author says creativity plays into the “aha” moment; this allows the scientist to think outside the box and push towards new beneficial discoveries be it in medicine, engineering, space programs, all of it. Imagination is the first seed of creativity and kids need the opportunity to exercise theirs through multi-sensory experiences. I say this because with so many apps on the market today, I often wonder if they stifle and stunt imagination over excite the wonder of true explorations that engage our five senses.
I recently discovered Puff’s Land of Honalee had gone digital so I was curious to see if after 50 years, could the magic still be sparked by tapping on an app. Puff’s Playground app welcomes all ages into Creative Cove, a creativity center with a plethora of tools to paint, draw, create mixed media collages, or simply use coloring pages from the original artwork Puff, the Magic Dragon storybook.
A fan of puzzles, I enlisted the help of my two daughters to join me in Puzzle Plantation where we connected the pieces to bring images from the original Puff to life. In Castle of Concentration we engaged in a classic game of memory featuring character art but innovated with playful sound effects.
Created by FatRedCouch, a Marin-based interactive media company headquartered in the former building of George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic, as well as Pixar, I was happy to see the spirit of imagination was alive and well along with the level of quality in the artwork and production. A quick browse through the publisher’s portfolio of apps and you can see they are indeed committed to creating good kids apps.
There is plenty to do with this app (it’s free with in app purchasing) but we hit our self-prescribed family-allotted time limit so it was time to grab our sticks and go have some fun on Mt. Tam frolicking in the mist we call fog this time of year. The app sparked memories for me and created another layer of wonder for my kids, I knew it would translate to more pictures being drawn at the kitchen table.
I’m a Chipper mom and, to me, a good kids app should inspire thought, conversation, and creativity. I want a Good Kids App to be playful and embrace nature, art, science, music, and educate while having fun. Sounds like a lot but it’s not when you focus truly on the development of a child; when it comes to imagination just excite it and watch the wonder light up. If you are choosing an app, I hope you will follow Chipper’s GoodKidsApp guidelines:
- Is it story-based with a clear, kind message
- Does it engage and excite imagination away from the gadget
- Does it spark conversation and promote learning
Puff’s Playground app does this and more for us as I quickly learned while listening to my girls sing a cherished song introduced by Peter, Paul, and Mary more than 50 years ago. Time to frolick!
Available on iTunes. Free with in-app purchases.
If Meatless Monday is the only day on your calendar for vegetarian dishes we have a new recipe for you to be chipper about. Even your picky eater whom refuses to eat their veggies will consider these healthy bite-size bursts of flavor on any day. Mushroom Nuggets – call them “earth balls” – are a delicious alternative to “chicken nuggets.” Each bite-sized nugget is packed with flavor and conveniently hides the healthy stuff like beans, mushrooms and veggie protein – yes, the stuff your kids bemoan.
Or make as veggie burgers…
These bites are savory, slightly cheesy, with a hint of sweetness and accents of earthy flavors. Do you think your kids will notice the health benefits? Just tell them that they are going to have a ball at dinner tonight.
Mushrooms are an excellent source of vitamin D; they boost your immunity, are high in antioxidants, and increase your metabolism. And they go from snack to meal; try stuffing these tiny falafel-sized bites into pitas, wraps or over pasta.
Store a few mushroom bites in the fridge for a grab and go lunch. Salads, sandwiches, pitas and more love these bites. Use any way you would a meatball!
Makes about two dozen | Recipe & photos by KATHYPATALSKY
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
1/2 cup nutritional yeast (add more if you’d like more cheezy flavor)
1 Tbsp mushroom powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
A few dashes pepper
2 Tbsp salt-free spice blend
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp maple or agave syrup
2 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
2 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup water (or low-salt veggie broth for added flavor)
1 1/2 cups TVP or TSP (textured veggie or soy protein)
1 can Cannellini beans, drained
1 1/2 cups mushrooms, chopped
1/3 cup diced sweet onion (omit for onion-opposed kids)
1/2 cup flour
Sauté in 1-2 Tbsp safflower oil.
1. Combine all the spices in a large mixing bowl. This can be a fun math moment for kids: How many tablespoons of spices are we adding? How many teaspoons in a table spoon?
2. Add in the liquids and the base ingredients. Grab a large fork and start mashing well – especially the beans. Another great step for kids to jump in and help. Wear ‘em out with the mashing! Try to break them down as much as possible so they provide a sticky agent which binds the mixture. The TVP will begin absorbing the liquid as well to thicken the mix.
3. Next, add in the flour for the final step. You can add in a tablespoon at a time until you are comfortable with the consistency. You want the mixture to be like a very wet bean patty.
4. Turn a nonstick skillet on med-high heat – add about 1-2 Tbsp of safflower oil. Safflower oil is perfect because it gives these nuggets crispy edges.
5. When oil is hot, grab golf ball sized balls and roll in a big of flour (roll in some nutritional yeast for added savory flavor) – then plop onto skillet. Another fun moment for kids to help out and get a little messy! Allow each side to cook for about a minute or two. Try not to burn, but you do want a nice brown color to the exterior.
6. Place on a paper towel to rest a few minutes – they will further bind as they cool – serve hot and enjoy!
Valentines is the perfect time to show your love! Your love of family, friends, community…and NATURE! Recycling crafts are not only a fun activity to get creative, they teach our children to reuse, reduce and recycle materials rather than tossing things in the trash. Explain to your little one’s that paper comes from trees and trees make our air, so let’s conserve and reuse!
Nothing’s as special as a home-made craft. Connect on an intimate level not only by making something but by giving extra kisses and hugs this month. It’s the little things that really matter so spread your love in small ways. Share a special family moment with Chipper on Facebook for a chance to win some delicious homemade heart cookies!
CRAFT #1 – Toilet Paper Roll Heart Prints
What you need:
- Toilet paper roll
- Recycled paper or news paper
- Simply shape your toilet roll into a heart by folding it in half. Use tape to secure shape if necessary.
- Fill a small plate or container lid with pain the color of your kiddo’s choice.
- Dip one end of your toilet roll heart into the paint, and press against your paper like a stamp.
- Repeat as desired. To make a different color, simply flip your heart stamp and use the clean end or make another heart stamp with a fresh recycled roll.
- Hang up on the fridge or in the class to decorate for the holiday of love! Great for making homemade Valentine’s Day cards.
CRAFT#2 – Sweet Stuff Container
Make an adorable container for your Valentine’s Day treats! Customize for that special someone or make a bunch for your whole class!
What you need:
- Toilet paper roll
- Paint, markers, stickers, etc.
- Color and decorate your toilet roll with paint, markers, stickers, buttons, crayons, etc. Sky’s the limit with recycle crafts. Use what you can find around the house or in your waste bins! You’ll be surprised how creative your kid can be.
- Bend in the sides on each end, securing one end with tape or glue.
- Fill your container with yummy sweet, love notes, or some special coupons for the parents like, “Worth 10 Hugs!”
- Bend the open end to close and secure with tape, glue, or even some pretty ribbon or string!
- Share with loved ones and friends.
CRAFT#3 – Crayon Hearts
Reuse old and broken crayons with this creative craft!
What you need:
- A bunch of old, broken or unused crayons.
- Heart cookie mold or tin
- Conventional Oven
- Heat the oven to 250°.
- Fill each heart mold with crayon pieces. You can mix colors or try coordinating them.
- Place heart mold or tray into the oven and bake until the crayons melt, about 10 to 15 minutes. Make sure to place a sheet pan under the crayons to catch any drips.
- Once they’re cool, remove the hearts from the molds and smooth any rough edges by rubbing them on a piece of scrap paper.
- Give away to friends with a note saying, “You color my world!” or enjoy them at home. Fun gift that keeps on giving when you use them for future crafts!
What’s your favorite thing about Valentine’s day? Share with Chipper!
Valentine’s Day is coming up fast! Make a healthy and fun snack with your kids in the kitchen to celebrate. Whether you are making heart-shaped pancakes or chocolate-dipped strawberries, having your little ones help cook not only builds confidence and independence, it’s a great opportunity to practice simple measurement math skills and connect with your child on a deeper level.
Make some heart-shaped tortilla chips in honor of the day of love! When kids make their own tortilla chips, they get to pick the flavor and shape (and you can monitor the ingredients).
What you need:
- Tortillas (make your own with this easy, kid-friendly recipe!)
- Sea salt or table salt
- Olive oil or butter
- Heart shaped cookie cutter
- Pastry brush
- Cookie sheet
- Blend oil or butter with the flavor of you choice! Cheese, lemon and herbs, or cinnamon sugar are all yummy ideas. Or keep them plain and eat with a tasty salsa or guacamole dip!
- Brush whole tortillas (corn or flour) with olive oil or melted butter.
- Cut with a knife or heart cookie cutter and place them on your cookie sheet.
- Sprinkle on some salt to your taste.
- Put in the oven at 350˚ F for about 15 minutes. Make sure to keep a close eye on them and pull them out every once in a while to flip the chips around. The rate they bake depends on the size of your hearts.
Once they’re baked, package in snack-size bags for a nutritious snack to share with your child’s class or to enjoy at home over the weekend. What other shapes and flavors will you try? Let Chipper know in the comments!
Celebrate your love of nature and make a heart shaped bird seed feeder this Valentine’s Day! The birdies like Red and Robbin will sure love you back for putting some out and bird watching makes a great activity for you and the family to get outdoors and watch you winged friends stop by!
What you need:
- 1 1/2 cups Bird Seed (check out your local pet store or learn to make your own here!)
- Peanut Butter (if your child has allergies, try using 2 gelatin packets and a 1/2 cup of boiling water instead!)
- Heart Shaped cookie cutter (and tin foil or wax paper!) or silicon mold (no tin foil or wax paper needed!)
- First, make your bird seed mixture in a large bowl. How much peanut butter you use depends on how many bird feeder hearts you want to make. A regular sized container of peanut butter to one regular sized bird bag works perfectly. The goal is to have enough peanut butter to make sure the bird feed stays together. Alternatively, if your kids have peanut allergies, use gelatin and water instead!
- Once you have your mixture, start pressing it firmly into your mold. If you are using a cookie cutter, place your cutter on top of a sheet of foil or wax paper. If using foil, some no-stick cooking spray makes it easy to remove your feeder once it dries.
- Cut up your straws into small pieces. Stick one piece into the top of your heart. This makes a hole for your string so you can easily stick it through to hang your feeder. If you don’t have any straws around or want to forgo using plastic, just stick your pre-cut/pre-tied piece of string into your half-filled mold or cutter then add the rest of the seed mixture on top to hold in place.
- Once you have formed your hearts and have added your straws or stings, place on a cookie sheet and dry for a few hour (over night is best).
- Once dry, pull out your straws and tie through your string.
- Now comes the fun part! Explore your back yard or school yard for the perfect place to hang your feeder. Make sure it is in a spot you can observe later.
- Look outside every day and observe which kids of birds you see and how long it takes for them to eat the whole feeder. The hearts not only give little birds some much needed nourishment during the cold winter months, they also add some natural sparkle to your wintery yard!
Making flower art is another fun craft with left over bird seed and dry beans. Just grab some recycled paper and glue, make your design with the glue on your paper, then pour over seed and dry!
What other craft can you make with bird seed? Let Chipper know and have fun bird watching! :)
Healthy Dip Recipe #1: Lowfat Mexican Layer Dip
- 1 cup of fat free refried beans
- 1/4 cup low fat shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cups fresh guacamole
- 1/2 cup fat free sour cream
- 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
- 1 cucumber chopped
- 1 cup fresh salsa
- 1 head of finely chopped iceberg lettuce
- 2 cups chopped tomatoes
- 1/4 cup sliced black olives
Mix the sour cream and taco seasoning together and set aside for 10 minutes to allow flavor to mingle. In a glass pie plate or 8 x 8 inch baking pan, layer the refried beans in the bottom so they are equally spread. Top with guacamole and spread evenly. Top with chopped cucumber, tomatoes and lettuce. Top with salsa. Sprinkle cheese over the top. Place sour cream in a zip lock bag and cut off the end, do a zig zag pattern across the top of the dip. Sprinkle with olives. Serve with popped tortilla chips or veggies.
Healthy Dip Recipe #2: Best Ever French Onion Dip
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 large sweet onions, chopped
- salt & pepper
- 1/2 cup beef broth
- 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 12oz plain greek yogurt
- 8oz 1/3-less fat cream cheese, at room temperature
Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. add onions, salt & pepper, worcestershire sauce, dried thyme, garlic powder, sugar, and beef broth then stir well. Turn heat to high and bring broth to a boil, then turn heat back down to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are very soft and dark brown, about 35-40 minutes. If onions begin to burn, turn heat down to medium-low. Remove onions to a plate or bowl then cool completely.
In a large bowl, stir together greek yogurt and cream cheese until smooth then fold in cooled onion mixture. Spoon into a serving dish then serve with chips and veggies.
Healthy Dip Recipe #3: Chopped Cherry Salsa
- 1 c. cherries, pitted and cut in quarters
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 1 jalapeno, chopped
- 1/4 c. cilantro, finely chopped
- 1/2 lime, juiced
Chop it all up. Throw it in a bowl. Stir. Chill for an hour or so. Eat and ENJOY!
Share your game day dip recipes with us! Have a Chipper Super Bowl :)
Young kids can get bored quickly on the long Sunday Game Day. Keep your little ones happy and busy during Super Bowl with some fun activities like helping make some dip and making their own paper football field game! Paper football is an easy, fun game passed along the generations that will occupy your children all day.
Take it a step farther with an arena for your paper football from a recycled cereal box, Fortified for FUN! :)
Or just make a goal without the field if you don’t have a cereal box on hand. You’ll need straws and tape. If your kiddos don’t want to take turns holding their goal, also have a small cardboard box (recycled crayon box or similar sized box works great) to make a goal stand.
Bend straws to create “u” shape of the field goal posts and tape into position. Use duct tape or colored tape to represent your team’s colors!
Create a stand for the goal post out of an empty crayon box covered in duct tape to prop up your goal.
That’s it for the simple goal post! Making a goal field take a bit more time but is a ton of fun and controls the area where your kiddos are flicking their paper football (scroll down for instructions on making your Paper Football). To make a field, you’ll need:
- 1 empty cereal box
- Construction paper
- Toothpicks (or use Straws and instructions above, both work great!)
- 1 white crayon
- Duct tape
Start by cutting off a side of your cereal box. If kid friendly scissors won’t work, have an adult use a sharper pair or crafting knife.
Make the sides more sturdy by covering them with duct tape.
Cut a sheet of green construction paper to fit inside the box. Draw yard lines using a white crayon and a ruler. Alternatively, have your child color a piece of recycled white paper, leaving gaps for the yard lines. This give you and opportunity to talk about recycling and how we can Reuse and Recycle to help keep our planet clean and beautiful!
Place the paper inside the box to make the field. Secure with tape or glue if necessary.
To make the goal posts, tape the corners of the toothpicks (or straws) into place and secure with tape.
Make a small hole in the bottom of the box for the goal posts to stick into. Secure with a piece of tape along the bottom if needed.
Once you have your field, you can make your paper football! Folding a paper football is also super simple. Take an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper and cut it in half lengthwise. You can use brown construction paper or color some recycled paper brown.
Then fold the paper lengthwise.
Take a corner and pull it over to the opposite edge creating a triangle.
Continue folding up and creating triangles for the length of the paper until you can’t make anymore.
Make the last triangle come the opposite direction.
Cut off some of the end to make it a bit smaller for tucking.
Tuck the end in to the open slot on the triangle of paper so you are “closing” the football.
Draw laces on your foot ball with a white crayon. And you’re done!
Hold the football and flick it to get it through the goal post. Move farther and farther away to make it harder.
Have fun seeing who can make the most goals! What other games does your family play on game day? Share with Chipper!
With Winter in full affect, lakes and waterways have frozen over. Chipper has always wondered, what happens to all the flora and fauna below the surface? To answer this question, we first have to take a look at the chemical properties of water.
In general, most substances become more and more compact as they are cooled. However, the nature of water is such that, as it freezes, its molecules join into rings, each of which takes up more space than the same number of liquid molecules. This means that ice (frozen water) is less dense than liquid water. For this reason, ice is lighter than water and will, in fact, float on water (which is why icebergs float).
Now, think of what happens to a pond or lake as the temperature cools and the water begins to freeze. As ice crystals form, they float to the surface of the water. Eventually, the entire surface freezes over, covering the bulk of the water underneath, which is still liquid. Once the ice forms, it acts as insulation, helping to retain heat in the liquid below.
Thus, unless the temperature is extremely low for a very long period of time, the water below the ice does not freeze, although the ice may grow thicker. In a normal winter, the cold does not last long enough to freeze all the water, so the fish are able to live just fine until the coming of spring warms the surface and melts the covering of ice. Also, oxygen is trapped beneath the layer of ice, allowing fish and other aquatic animals to live comfortably in the frozen lakes and ponds.
Different animals have developed various patterns and characteristics to survive the cold winter months. Male pink salmon and some sockeye salmon develop pronounced humps just before they spawn. The humps make it less likely the salmon will spawn in the shallow water at margins of the stream bed, which tend to dry out during low water flows or freeze in winter.
Certain species of cod, flatfish and polar fish have a reduced metabolic rate and produce antifreeze molecules called glycoprotein to reduce the freezing point of their body fluids. One could look at it as the fishy version of bears hibernating, a survival tactic that has seen these finned friends outlive many other creatures on Earth.
When water bodies freeze over, the waterfowl, like ducks and geese, migrate south to enjoy the warmer weather and hunt for fish. Animals like seals, penguins, walruses and a wide variety of sea birds are all fish eaters and survive in the extreme cold. They live in the Arctic and Antarctic Circle, amidst the icecaps. The land is completely frozen. Yet these animals manage to live in this region because they are warm-blooded and keep warm through their fur like all mammals. They also have a large layer of fat which helps keep them warm.
As for flora, some hardy plants in large bodies of water can survive a surface freeze. If a heavy amount of snow accumulates on the ice surface of lakes, the amount of light penetrating through the ice will be reduced. This will result in less light reaching aquatic plants below the ice which is needed to carry out photosynthesis thus, causing the plants to die and be broken down by bacteria. These bacteria will then use up the oxygen and cause a drastic drop in dissolved oxygen in the water. When this winter oxygen depletion occurs, marine life such as fish that depends on oxygen will die. As fish and other marine life die, their bodies decompose and use up even more oxygen, and the depletion of oxygen gets even worse. This is called “Winterkill” and can be very damaging to fragile ecosystems.
Anyway you look at it, the winter brings the harsh cold but there’s plenty of fun to be had as well: ice skating, skiing, sleighing and more! What’s your favorite thing about winter? Share with Chipper!
You may have felt it last night in the grocery store (if you were one of the lucky few living in a climate that welcomed you outside) – the lines were long and shelves seemed short on the necessary items that make for a good lunch and an easy family meal. Everyone is settling into the New Year and back to routines. For many of us, today is the first day back to school and back to a full workweek which might have you feeling frazzled and we’re barely a week in to 2014.
But rather than stress, I say have a ball! A meatball…and welcome the week with a hearty meal that only tastes better with each passing day. The meatball is versatile – from topping Old Smokey covered with cheese to sliced and slathered with sauce in a sub sandwich; it’s a great, easy opportunity to get a head start on your weekly meal planning.
Making meatballs is also a great opportunity to welcome your kids into the kitchen. It may seem messy to think about but you keep everything contained in the bowl, sauté in one pot, and just wash up when finished.
A few quick tips then let’s get ready to roll:
- Children under Five – Little hands make big messes so pre-measure and let your kids pour ingredients into the bowl. Also, if you have concerns over your child touching a raw meat product, use spoons to mix ingredients then form with minimal touching.
- Children Five and older - Pull out the recipe and read together. Let your child help you identify the ingredients, and help you measure.
- Children Eight and older – Let your child read and direct the cooking process. Don the aprons and begin. This age is perfect for getting into the mix and rolling, to engaging at the stove and cooking.
- All ages – It goes without saying but I’ll say it: Be mindful of the stove, teach your children appropriate safety at the burner, how to handle boiling water, keeping your space clean, and proper physical clean up. Safety in the kitchen is a daily discipline and when you start early it becomes intuitive.
We take the Mary Poppin’s approach in our family when cooking – “practically perfect in every way…” – so we don’t mind the imperfections. We love this scratch recipe but I welcome the savvy chef whom knows when to call in a little help from pre-made. FYI, you can find ready-made meatballs and sauce at the market which makes boiling water the biggest task.
Meatballs in Sauce with Spaghetti (or your favorite noodle) Courtesy of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook
1 pound ground beef
½ cup dried bread crumbs
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1 tablespoon basil, crumbled
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons oil
4 cups Tomato sauce (make or pour your favorite brand)
½ pound parmesan cheese, grated (or shake your favorite from the container)
1 package spaghetti
In a bowl, combine the beef, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, basil, egg, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly and shape into balls. Big or little, it doesn’t matter. Melt the oil in a saucepan and brown the meatballs on all sides – lightly. Drain off any fat. Add your tomato sauce, cover and simmer up to 25 minutes.
Boil your water and prepare pasta according to package. Serve meatballs and sauce over pasta and sprinkle with cheese.
Here is the recipe for the Fanny Farmer sauce if you choose to go homemade.
Remember, twice as good the second day and share you’re favorite meatball recipe!
It’s that time of the year again.
Happy New Year! A few days in and I’m already asking myself why I resolved to eliminate sugar from my diet. Many researchers state that most individuals whom set New Year’s resolutions are successful for the first two weeks – about 71% according to the University of Scranton, Journal of Clinical Psychology, and barely 50% of us are still committed by the sixth month. The biggest reason we abandon our resolutions is because there isn’t a clearly defined strategy to help us achieve the goal. Kind of like parenting! Most of us say “I want to be a better parent” …or I want my child to achieve ____, but what we need to do first is stop and assess the needs of our children and ourselves then create a clear path to success.
For example, my resolution (daily) is always: “I want to raise an emotionally fit, capable and conscientious child.” The results of this goal would be an independent, productive adult thriving within the life they choose to lead. I’ve got a ways to go but I try to practice an approach steeped in behaviors I learned as a child, and ideas studied and proven by various behaviorist around the world.
The basic strategy for our family is: Provide a safe and stable environment, Ground Rules, based on mutual respect and contribution; and encouragement to reach the stars. My childhood was choc full of responsibilities “chores” which needed to be completed before free time. Now it’s the same with my children. This simple strategy teaches everyone to participate in the operating of the home both physically and emotionally. Adopting this strategy alone will help your child grow up to take care of themselves; while also infusing a collaborative spirit necessary for them to grow in a business environment.
My daily action items are exercises in patience, creativity, motivation, support, and resolve. Allowing my children to see this gives them a better understanding that life takes work and the rewards are loving and joyful. I resolve to continue these daily actions.
As you set your own resolutions for 2014 how about adding in your strategy, and make it inclusive. Research shows sharing your resolutions and goals with others builds a support system so start with your spouse or partner at home.
For example, instead of saying “I want to lose ten pounds,” how about: “This year I will take a daily walk with my child or partner and always have fresh fruit in a bowl on the counter.” Hmmmm, sounds easy. Did you roll your eyes? Well, instinct might just send you reaching for that apple next time you come home starving from a day full of “to do’s” rather than foraging through the cupboard and opening up a bag of chips. And that walk you schedule will become routine; research shows repetition is what reinforces a behavior so let’s add some physical activity for the entire family. Don’t let inclement weather deter you – a little music in the living room will get your heart rate up and awaken all the senses when you’ve got a little one to boogie with.
So back to me and my big resolution to eliminate sugar from my diet – well, three days in and I’ve adopted a long-standing Chipper mantra “Healthy before sweet, can’t be beat.” We’ve said it many times but I was reminded by my own child today when I squirmed at the taste of coffee without any sugar. I’ll keep a healthy eating outlook and fresh veggies at-the-ready but my little spoonful of sugar to help start my day is back in the daily grind and it’s a Happy New Year once again.
During the Holidays and cold winter months, it’s easy to want to hibernate like Peabody the Bear! But with all the extra feasts and sweets, it’s important to stay active and keep your body healthy and strong. Don’t let the cold keep you inside all winter. Bundle up in your winter coats, hats, gloves and ear muffs and go enjoy the snow! Here’s a list of fun outdoor and indoor activities to try this winter and stay active with the kiddos while connecting with nature:
- Have a snowball fight or “contest” of who can roll the biggest ball
- Build a snowman: get creative and make some snow animals or a hand-stand snow man!
- Go sledding. Who can go the farthest?
- Watch the snow fall and catch snowflakes on your tongue, there are no two alike!
- Make a snow angel!
- Make snow paint. Simply add food coloring to water and put in a spray bottle, then go out and paint your yard!
- Build a snow fort or maze.
- Shoveling snow is hard work. It’s also awesome exercise — even for kids. Pick up a kid-sized shovel and have them help out by clearing a path in the snow, or digging to make fun patterns. Afterwards, they can have fun following their winding snow paths!
- Go ice skating at a local ring or lake.
- Blow bubbles on freezing days and watching them turn into ice bubbles — they look amazing!
- Hit the slopes with skis or snowboards!
- Go snowshoeing! Rent them or make your own.
- Head to the playground. It will be transformed by snow and ice, and more likely than not, you’ll have it all to yourselves!
- Play a game of winter horseshoe by burying a wide-mouthed water bottle in the snow so that the mouth is flush with the snow’s surface, then gathering sticks or small stones to toss into it from a few yards back. You can create your own version with a can or bowl in a backyard or park.
- Break out the binoculars and look for winter critters. They are easier to spot with the leaves all gone. How many animals can you and you little one’s spot?
- Try tracking some animals in the snow! Here’s a guide to recognizing animal tracks.
- Collect pine cones and make a craft!
- Make paper snowflake cut-outs.
- Reread a favorite book and check out Chipper’s Eco-Ecucational Series!
- Complete a jigsaw puzzle or play a game with the whole family.
- Take a winter hike and breathe in the smell of pine. How many different pine trees can you spot and name?
- Find pine branches to make and hang a wreath.
- Take a walk around the block to admire your neighbors’ holiday lights
- Go caroling and bring some Christmas cheer to your friends and neighbors!
What winter activities keep you moving? Let Chipper know!
‘Tis the season for gift giving! This doesn’t mean we have to empty our wallets and fill up our trash bins though. Americans spend 35% more money and throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than any other time of year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week! Not only does wasteful spending effect our savings, it hurts our planet with all the waste created. Let’s all do our part and lower the amount of trash we create this Holiday!
Take a look at some statistics of holiday spending in this infographic:
So how can we lower our costs and waste this Holiday? Reduce, Reuse and Recycle! If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet. If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields! The 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high. If we each sent one card less, we’d save 50,000 cubic yards of paper!
(Statistics found at Use Less Stuff. Visit this website and use the checklist to reduce your waste this holiday season!)
Everything from wrapping paper to Christmas trees is discarded after the festive fun is over. But there are so many ways to reduce our waste:
Paper – If all the wrapping paper we throw away was laid out in a line it would reach all the way to the Moon – that’s a lot of paper! But it’s very easy to recycle and saves you a ton of money each year. Put it in your recycle bin or take it to your local recycling center. Save salvageable paper and reuse next year! Or use it for some creative crafts and save on decorations too.
Why spend money on new gift bags every year? Reuse ones you are given again next year and save on paper! Save sturdy shopping bags throughout the year and cover up brand logos with old cards, wrapping paper or even a custom printed image! Find instructions to make custom gift bags here.
Christmas cards don’t have to be thrown away. Try cutting them up and making new cards, ornaments or gift tags out of them. You’ll be extra organized for next Christmas and save a few pennies!
If you have a real Christmas tree, it’s a great thing to recycle. There are services who will collect it for you and then shred and use as compost to help next year’s trees grow or as chipping to cover pathways.
How about getting a living Christmas tree with roots? That way it will keep on growing year after year and eventually be planted in your backyard.
It’s estimated that we throw out over 7 million tons of food every year. So why not help out in the kitchen and get creative with all that leftover turkey? Make a sandwich or soup instead of tossing it out. If you’ve got a compost bin, throw in all those veggie peelings. Birds love Christmas leftovers too! Any scraps will give them energy and nutrients to help them through the cold winter months.
If you’re given any presents that don’t fit or have old things that you won’t need anymore, don’t throw them away. Many charities pass on gifts to people in need. To reduce waste, give gifts of time and gifts that are sure to be used. Here are some suggestions:
- Certificates: Baby-sitting, taking out the garbage, doing the dishes, cleaning the house, or cleaning the car. Kids can make a “coupon book” for parents with chores, hugs and massages as gifts!
- Trips/Outings: Experiences are better than gifts! Museums, parks, beaches, hikes, full moon walks, or winter picnics are great activities to gift someone with. Or get some tickets for a movie, concert or sports event.
- Hand Made Gifts: Something home made is much more sentimental than something store-bought! Fill a basket with baked goods, assemble a collection of favorite family recipes, make a holiday bouquet from fresh greens, holly, etc. and tie with bow, make Christmas ornaments from family photos, or video tape family members telling favorite family stories/memories..
- Gift Certificates: The answer for those hard-to-shop-for friends and family! Restaurants, record stores, book stores, video rental stores, department stores, or grocery stores.
- Memberships: Help your loved ones get active, relax or learn with memberships to health spas, swim clubs, museums, zoos, or amusement parks.
- Subscriptions: Have a friend that loves to read? Magazines, newspapers, or book club subscription can make a great gift that lasts all year!
- Creative Gifts for Children: “Dress Up Box” filled with costume jewelry, scarves, hats, aprons, and ties; cooking equipment and a recipe with ingredients to encourage your little ones to help in the kitchen; blank journal or diary or blank scrapbook with scissors and tape where your child can get creative with and even save their holiday cards; flower seeds and pots to get them outdoors and gardening!
- Gifts to the Environment: Send e-greetings to family and friends who are on-line; add a battery charger with rechargeable batteries for electronic gift; bus/light rail/train passes, bicycles or walking shoes encourage friends and family to drive less!
For more tips on having an Environmentally Friendly Holiday, check out www.ReduceWaste.org
Other Holiday WasteWhile it is one of the most visible components of holiday waste, wrapping paper is not the worst. For every pound of wrapping paper that we throw away there are several pounds of cardboard packaging, blister packs, twist ties that shackled Elmo to his box, ribbons and bows. Behind the scenes there is even more waste. The gift that you purchased at the store was probably delivered in a master carton on a pallet surrounded by plastic wrap. Pre-consumer waste is really the hidden part of the iceberg of holiday waste and can only be reduced by reducing consumption or shopping at stores that are actively working to reduce waste. Believe it or not Walmart has, and continues to, reduce packaging waste through its highly ambitious and effective sustainability initiative. This year, as you search for last-minute gifts, consider gifts that keep on giving, such as an investment in Kiva or gifts that support a local services-based economy such as a 1-hour massage.
Online shopping helps you save on gas and transportation fees! Check out our Chipper Shop for some great eco-educational gifts, books and apps for the kids. We pride ourselves in keeping to our motto: “Less Packaging, More Fun!” How are you helping the planet this Holiday Season???
The Holiday Season is officially up and running! From Christmas feasts and family gatherings, to buying gifts and decorating the house, things can get a little hectic! Instead of focusing on the frenzy of it all, try to enjoy each moment as it comes and let the little things go …”It’s the most wonderful time of the year” after all!
Here are a few Chipper Tips as you approach the holidays: playful yet disciplined to help create boundaries for yourself and those around you.
1. It’s not “No” it’s “not Now” – Don’t give in to yourself or your child as it pertains to food, activities, or purchases. Set up a goal-oriented mindset. Establish the goal, write it down, work for it, and then reward. It becomes a game and everyone can celebrate the win – be it a sweet, ski outing, or outfit/toy. Do this together with your child so they understand that there are things that you want and may get, but some you need to work for as well. Check out our cute Chipper Plush for an adorable stocking stuffer that will delight your child and teach a daily “positive mindset” exercise!
2. I’m Chipper for… – We all say “I’m thankful” at Thanksgiving then most of us shop like crazy the day after and quickly forget the real reason for the season! This year, fill in the blank “I’m Chipper for ____” everyday with yourself or child. Research shows by focusing on what makes you happy you can improve your physical and mental health. The Mayo Clinic offers extensive research on the matter – but just try it for yourself. Identify something immediately in front of you to be happy about – I’m Chipper for skipping, bumping into an old friend, the penny I found, or the sunshine coming through the clouds. You can change your mindset and the effect is longer-lasting. Find full instructions here!
3. Being prepared – How many times have you said “you wish you would have been better prepared”? Adopt this exercise – get what you need done out of your head, off of your iPhone, and on to a pad that sits right with your keys or someplace accessible. Is it dry cleaning for you? Snack pack for your child? Whatever it is, just write it down and put it in a place where you can see it immediately. Sound familiar? Maybe something you saw your own parent do when you were a child? It works. Get it out of your head and onto paper so you can just get it done! Read about the benefits of writing things down here.
Teach your little ones about Recycling and taking care of our planet with these cute and eco-friendly Christmas Crafts! Learn how to make your Home Made Christmas Tree Ornaments from Recycled Cards here!
Fill your paper plate with buttons, sequins, glitter, yarn, pasta noodles, or even dried Fall leaves and make a Paper Plate Christmas Wreath. Here’s what you need to get started:
- Paper Plate
- Ribbon or String to hang
- Decorations: Red & Green Construction Paper, Glitter, noodles, paint, markers or crayons, buttons, or whatever tickles your fancy!
How to make it:
- Cut a hole in the center of your plate using the ridged edge as your guide. Don’t throw the scraps away! Cut into little circles and leaves and color with a red and green markers then glue together for little Mistletoes!
- Poke a small hole into the edge of your plate. String through a piece of ribbon or yarn and tie in a circle. This will be the “top” of your wreath and what you’ll use to hang it up once your done.
- Decide on your decorations: Color your plate with markers, mistletoe or glue on some buttons and painted noodles. Chipper loves glitter even though it can get a little messy (HINT: use another paper plate to decorate on to keep the mess to a minimum!) Sky’s the limit with how you decorate. There is no right or wrong way and allowing your child to decide for themselves how to decorate lets them to use their imagination and practice their problem solving skills. Here are a few example ideas:
4. Now go hang it up! Whether on your door, tree, or refrigerator, these make for fun decorations made with love by your tot.
Stray away from tradition and get real creative with an Adorable Snow Girl (or boy!).
What you need:
- Paper Plate
- Ribbon or yarn
- Construction Paper/Cardboard or colored recycled paper
- Googly Eyes
How to make it:
- Start with your face on the bottom of your paper plate: Add googly eyes with glue or draw on a face with markers. Cut out a triangle nose from construction paper/cardboard/recycled paper.
- Then make your hat: Trace your shape on cardboard or paper and cut out carefully. Add a cute flower or other decoration to the hat if desired using paper. Then glue (or double stick tape!) your hat onto the plate.
- Add hair: Cut 1″ think strips of paper and fold back and forth for a bit of crinkle. Attach to your hat with glue or tape.
- Lastly, add your scarf: Tie a piece of string or yarn into a bow and glue on. Voila! Cute little snow girl makes an adorable decoration for the house this Holiday Season.
Need some last minute Thanksgiving crafts and decorations? Try making these adorable crafts using recycled paper plates and fall leaves.
First, recycle a couple of paper plates that you have left over. Cut out the middle part of one of them if making a wreath, leaving the rim (about 1-1.5″ from edge).
Then, gather your decorations! Find colorful falls leaves and dry them over night in a book. Gather ribbons, buttons and anything around the house you want to decorate with. Find some colored construction paper or use recycled paper and markers to create your turkey body.
Finally, decorate! Use glue or double stick tape to attach leaves and create a Turkey! Fall leaves make the perfect turkey feathers. You can even find small leaves to make the beak and gobble. Use yellow and brown construction paper for the feet and body.
For the wreath, try wrapping ribbon around your plate and adding a few real dried leaves or fake felt ones. Buttons, feathers, acorns and more can be glued on as decorations.
When your done, hang ‘em up! On the door, or refrigerator, these cute fun crafts are a great way to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday as well as teach about recycling. Fill your plate and not our landfills by recycling and reducing waste in any way you can.
Have a Chipper Thanksgiving!
So steeped in tradition, the latke is open to interpretation. We created a Chipper favorite to celebrate two great family holidays landing on the same day this year Thanksgiving and Chanukah! Share the story with your children and weave in your own history; the opportunity to celebrate who we are, while acknowledging others, helps children develop an appreciation and respect for the world in which they live.
In America we enjoy many things: the ability to celebrate and choose our own religion, where we live, what we do in life, and the friends we keep. It seem obvious to our children today – and they even receive more freedom than the generation before them. But do kids today realize this?
Thanks a Latke Recipe
What you need:
- Frying pan
- Vegetable oil
- Potatoes (russets to sweet)
- Salt and Pepper
- Sour Cream
- Apple sauce and cranberries
- Roasted turkey breast sliced
*If you’ve made your mashed potatoes, have a half cup ready!
How to cook it: *Latkes can be made in advance and then baked to heat before serving.
- Two pounds russet potatoes
- Shred potatoes.
- Beat an egg in a large bowl.
- Pour in potatoes and coat. *Add in the mashed potatoes if you like as it yields a fluffy to crispy latke
- Pour about ¼ inch oil into frying pan and heat to medium high.
- Fry the latkes for 2-3 minutes on each side until they turn golden brown. Test the first latke and make sure it’s cooked all the way through; if the latkes are browning faster than they’re cooking, reduce skillet heat.
- Place on paper towel and pat.
- Place one to three latkes on a plate then layer the turkey breast.
- Dot each latke with sour cream, applesauce and cranberries then drizzle the gravy over them.
*Makes 12-16 medium latkes.
Enjoy and have a Chipper Thanksgiving!
“This sweet potatoes recipe is made even sweeter with orange juice, cinnamon, marshmallows and a pinch of LOVE.”
Thanksgiving is only 3 days away! Still trying to figure out what dish you’ll bring to the table? Try a classic and easy Sweet Potato and Marshmallow recipe that tastes great and is good for you! Sweet Potatoes are a great winter veggie filled with important nutrients (see image below.)
Even with some sweet marshmallows, this dish is healthy and filling! Marshmallows sometimes get a bad wrap but they really aren’t that bad for you, especially if you try some organic ones! Learn more about marshmallows rise to f(l)ame in this infographic!
- 2 (15 ounce) cans sweet potatoes or cook and mash your own: One 15-ounce can of sweet potatoes equals one cup fresh!
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup brown cane sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows (try organic!)
- Preheat oven to 350˚F.
- Place sweet potatoes in a 10×6 inch shallow baking dish and pour orange juice over.
- In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt; mix together and cut in margarine. Sprinkle over sweet potatoes.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with marshmallows and broil until browned.
What’s your favorite Thanksgiving Recipe? Let Chipper know and have a Chipper Thanksgiving!
The Gratitude Game to Promote Writing, Math and Thankfulness!
Get together as a family (on Thanksgiving or before) and play the gratitude game with your little ones! This fun and simple activity not only help you appreciate all you have, it improves your child’s writing and math skills! Here’s the rules to the game:
1. Each player gets a pencil and a piece of paper.
2. Time your writing giving more time to younger players, and write as many things you are grateful for as possible! Parents write for one minute, kids write for 3 minutes.
3. Have everyone share their thankful thoughts as they add them up to see how many each player came up with.
4. Have your child add up each players total to calculate how many thankful thoughts everyone came up with. How many did the kids come up with? How many did the adults come up with? What is the difference between the two? How many are there total?
5. Decorate and hang it up to reminded there are many things to be grateful for this Thanksgiving: home, family, friends, books, play, food, etc!
Alternatively, you can create a gratitude jar! Just write something you are grateful for down on a strip of paper, put it in your jar, and on Thanksgiving, have everyone read them out loud. Have your child count how many strips you’ve made then divide them depending on how many people are attending your Thanksgiving celebrations. Math, writing, and gratitude!
Toilet Roll Napkin Rings
Save those toilet rolls! There are SO many fun crafts and projects you can use them for. Make your very own napkin holders for Thanksgiving this year. Simply cut a regular sized toilet roll (or paper towel roll) into 2 inch think rings with a pair or scissors and decorate! Attach yarn, sequins, buttons or even pictures of your family members with glue or tape and for-go name labels! Here are a few examples to inspire you and you little one(s):
Helping Hands Activity
Let Chipper excite and reinforce good character in your children with the Helping Hands Activity Kit, on SALE this Holiday Season! It’s simple: acknowledge the good behavior on Chipper’s helping hand then let your child color and place on the poster. Includes Helping Hands storybook, poster, 25 helping hands. Download the FREE Helping Hands Lesson Plan here!
What other ways do you teach gratitude to your kids? Let Chipper know!
Make magic in the kitchen this holiday season! Eat seasonally and try adding these winter vegetables into your next meal! Look for these winter vegetables at farmers markets (if you’re lucky enough to have year-round markets near you) and in produce departments for the best flavor and greatest value in season. Specific crops and harvest dates will depend on your region’s climate and most of these are only available locally in temperate regions. Find details for your area with Regional Seasonality Guides and State-Specific Guides.
- Beets are in season in temperate climates fall through spring, and available from storage most of the year everywhere else. Fresh beets are often sold with their greens still attached.
- Belgian Endive are mostly “forced” to grow in artificial conditions, and are thus available year-round. Their traditional season (when grown in fields and covered with sand to keep out the light), like that of all chicories, is late fall and winter.
- Broccoli, like many cruciferous vegetables, can be grown year-round in temperate climates so we’ve forgotten it even has a season. But, like the rest of its family, it tastes best (that is, more sweet, less bitter and sharp) when harvested in the cooler temperatures of fall in most climates.
- Broccoli raabe, rapini is a more bitter, leafier vegetable than its cousin, broccoli, but likes similar cool growing conditions.
- Brussels sprouts grow on a stalk, and if you see them for sale that way snap them up – they’ll last quite a bit longer than once they’re cut.
- Cabbage is bright and crisp when raw and mellows and sweetens the longer it’s cooked. The cooler the weather in grows in, the sweeter it tends to taste (this effect is called “frost kissed”).
- Cardoons taste a lot like artichokes; look for firm, heavy-feeling specimens.
- Carrots are available from winter storage from local growers in many areas, and fresh in warmer and temperate regions.
- Cauliflower may be grown, harvested, and sold year-round, but it is by nature a cool weather crop and at its best in fall and winter and into early spring.
- Celeriac/celery root is at its best in the cooler months of fall, winter, and early spring (except in cold climates, where you’ll find it during the summer and early fall).
- Celery is at its best in the fall, with its harvest continuing through winter in warm and temperate climates.
- Chicories are cool weather crops that come into season in late fall (and last in temperate climates through early spring).
- Curly Endive (Frisée) is a chicory at its best in fall and winter.
- Escarole is another bitter chicory in season fall and winter.
- Fennel‘s natural season is from fall through early spring. Like most cool weather crops, the plant bolts and turns bitter in warmer weather.
- Herbs (from hothouses in cooler climates)
- Horseradish is at its best in fall and winter. Like so many other root vegetables, however, it stores well and is often available in decent shape well into spring.
- Jerusalem artichokes/sunchokes are brown nubs, that look a bit like small pieces of fresh ginger. Look for firm tubers with smooth, tan skins in fall and winter.
- Kale is like all hearty cooking greens – cooler weather keeps it sweet.
- Kohlrabi (late fall) comes into season by the end of fall, but stays at its sweet best into winter.
- Leeks more than about 1 1/2 inches wide tend to have tough inner cores. The top green leaves should look fresh – avoid leeks with wilted tops.
- Onions (storage)
- Parsnips look like white carrots and have a great nutty flavor. Look for thinner parsnips, since fatter ones tend to have a thick, woody core you need to cut out.
- Potatoes (storage)
- Radicchio, like all chicories, radicchio is more sweet and less bitter when the weather is cool.
- Radishes (large varieties)
- Rutabagas also known as “yellow turnips” and “Swedes” are a sweet, nutty root vegetables perfect in stews, roasted, or mashed with plenty of butter.
- Shallots from storage bring a sweet and delicate onion-slash-garlic flavor to winter cooking.
- Sweet potatoes are often sold as “yams.” They store very well and so are available from local sources year-round in warmer areas and otherwise from late summer through winter.
- Treviso (radicchio)
- Turnips have a bad rap they don’t deserve. Fresh turnips have a sharp but bright and sweet flavor. Look for turnips that feel heavy for their size.
- Winter squash of all sorts comes into season in early fall and usually last well into winter.
SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE
Looking for the perfect Thanksgiving dish? Try making this seasonally sound Sweet Potato Casserole recipe with your little ones. Have them measure out the sugar and salt, beat the eggs, and/or mash your potatoes. Small accomplishments not only build confidence, they encourage your child to help out. Learn more about motivating little Helping Hands!
- 4 Cups Sweet Potatoes, cooked and mashed
- 8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
- 1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter, softened
- 2 Eggs, beaten
- 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
- 2 1/2 Tbsp. Dry Sherry
- 1/4 Tsp. Salt
- 3/4 Cups Black Walnuts, chopped
- 1/2 Tsp. nutmeg, freshly grated if possible
- Pre-heat oven to 350˚F
- With electric mixer (NOT food processor), whip all ingredients together except for walnuts and nutmeg until light.
- Stir in walnuts and put into buttered casserole dish.
- Spread evenly and grate fresh nutmeg over the top.
- Bake for 45 min. until golden brown!
- ENJOY :)
Roasted chestnuts, spiced pecans and nut crackers! Tis’ the season for some deliciously healthy nuts. Try this Spiced Pecan Recipe to perfect your next salad or put out as an appetizer for you Holiday party. You and your little one(s) won’t be able to each just one!
- Spray Olive Oil
- 2 Cups Pecan Halves
- 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar, firmly packed
- 1/4 Cup melted Butter
- 4 Tsp. Mexican Hot Pepper Sauce (CHOLULA or any type you prefer)
- 1 Tsp. Salt
- 1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper
- Pre-heat oven to 350˚F
- Lightly spray olive oil on cookie sheet.
- Mix all other ingredients together and spread on pan in 1 layer.
- Bake 10 minutes until lightly toasted, stirring once.
- Cool and ENJOY! Makes 2 cups of yumminess.
What’s your favorite Thanksgiving Day recipe? Let Chipper know!
DIY Leaf Animals
All it takes is a little embroidery floss or a marker to turn fresh fall leaves into a fun project for you and the little one(s)!
It’s time to head outside and hunt for interesting leaves! Here are two great ideas for using fresh leaves as a canvas for embroidery or press them and draw fun animal friends!
Get creative and let your child make their favorite animals from fall leaves! Gather together outside and try some of these other Fun Fall Activities.
Drawing on Leaves
Leaves are great for drawing animals with ears, like foxes, cats, and owls. Chipper recommends using leaves from tulip and maple trees or from a common grapevine.
What You Need
- Leaves, pressed in a heavy, thick book for a couple of days
- Markers, black and white
Take a look at the shape and color of your leaf—there is definitely an animal in there! You can even frame the finished project. This little owl is framed in a painted cheese plate. Plastic tops make great frames for lots of projects so don’t throw them away.
Stitching On The Leaves
Have you ever tried to embroider a fresh leaf? It’s easy and fun! Find some fresh, tough leaves and get your needle and floss ready!
What You Need
- Fresh leaves work better than dry ones: I used leaves from a grapevine and walnut tree
- Blunt needle
- Embroidery floss
Take your leaf, thread your needle, and start sewing!
You might want to press the finished leaf in a book.
Eagle Owl Sewing Card
For little hands, make a sewing card for the eagle owl on a tulip tree leaf.
What You Need
- Printable eagle owl sewing card template (download here)
- A4 printer paper 90-120g
- Blunt needle
- Embroidery floss
Download the printable sewing card template and print it.
Take the blunt needle and carefully punch holes at the ends of the white lines.
Cut out the template cards along the dotted line.
Thread your needle and start sewing!
That’s all there is to it! Now you’re set with a couple of fun fall activities that will keep you and the little ones busy on a crisp, rainy afternoon!
“Time to get ready for bed!” you say. “Oh, no!” your child thinks. “Why do I have to go to bed? Sleep is boring, and I’m not even tired!” They’d rather read that great book or that computer game that they’re winning. But sleep is so much more important than kids even realize. Even smaller children can recognize that they feel groggy and cranky after not getting enough sleep. Learning more about the importance of sleep and how it makes you feel at your best with encourage them to shut those little eyes!
Why You Need Sleep
The average kid has a busy day. There’s school, taking care of chores, running around with friends, going to sports practice or other activities, and doing homework. By the end of the day, their little bodies need a break! Sleep allows one’s body to rest for the next day. Everything that’s alive needs sleep to survive. Even dogs and cats curl up for naps. Animals sleep for the same reason we do — to give your body a tiny vacation!
When a child gets a good nights sleep, their mind and body are rejuvenated to learn and grow the next day. Research has shown that even getting a single hour more of sleep a night can actually make you a happier person! Parents, consider these words from psychologist Norbert Schwarz the next time you tell yourself “I’ll just get a little less sleep tonight!”: “Making $60,000 more in annual income has less of an effect on your daily happiness than getting one extra hour of sleep a night.” You owe it to yourself and your child to get enough rest each night.
Your Brain Needs Zzzzzs
Not only is sleep necessary for your body, it’s important for your brain too. Though no one is exactly sure what work the brain does when you’re asleep, some scientists think that the brain sorts through and stores information, replaces chemicals, and solves problems while you snooze.
Most kids between 5 and 12 get about 9.5 hours a night, but experts agree that most need 10 or 11 hours each night. Sleep is an individual thing and some kids need more than others. Over sleeping can actually cause you to feel groggy as well so find the right amount of time that fits for your kids! A short afternoon nap can do wonders as well.
When your body doesn’t have enough hours to rest, you may feel tired or cranky, or you may be unable to think clearly. You might have a hard time following directions, or you might have an argument with a friend over something really silly. A school assignment that’s normally easy may feel impossible, or you may feel clumsy playing your favorite sport or instrument.
One more reason to get enough sleep: If you don’t, you may not grow as well. That’s right, researchers believe too little sleep can affect growth and your immune system— which keeps you from getting sick.
How to Catch Your ZZZs
For most kids, sleeping comes pretty naturally. Here are some tips to help your child catch all the ZZZs you need:
- Try to get your kids in bed at the same time every night; this helps their bodies get into a routine.
- Follow a bedtime routine that is calming, such as taking a warm bath, drinking some chamomile tea or reading a bedtime story.
- Limit foods and drinks that contain caffeine. These include some sodas and other drinks, like ice tea.
- Don’t have a TV in your child’s room. Research shows that kids who have one in their rooms sleep less. If you have a TV, turn it off when it’s time to sleep.
- Don’t let them watch scary TV shows or movies close to bedtime because these can sometimes make it hard to fall asleep.
- Don’t exercise right before going to bed. It will be harder for them to calm down and relax and get into bed. Do exercise earlier in the day or after school— it helps a person sleep better.
- Make sure your children use their bed just for sleeping — not doing homework, reading, playing games, or talking on the phone. That way, you’ll train their bodies to associate your bed with sleep.
If your child has a hard time falling asleep for more than one or two nights or have worries that are keeping them from sleeping, just talk with them about what’s bothering them so they relax just enough to get ready to sleep. Another strategy is to tell them to make up a story in their mind as they try to fall asleep and start off their “dreaming stage!” What other ways do you get your child ready for bed? Let Chipper know!
Chipper is Feeling Funny for Fall! Don’t let the cold keep you inside. Bundle up and lets go play outside this Autumn season! Research has shown that children who play outdoors regularly are happier, healthier, and stronger. It also boosts immunity and lowers stress levels. Outdoor play not only benefits their physical and mental health, it gives children a chance to explore the mysteries of nature. Plus it’s a ton of fun!
Autumn Obstacle Course
Don’t let those leaves in the yard seem daunting! Chipper is here to help parents and educators make “work” and “learning” seem fun. Make a game out of raking up your fall leaves (this can work for shoveling snow if you live in a northern climate!) by forming an obstacle course. You can even have a “prize” to motivate your little one(s) to participate. Check out these yummy yet Healthy Halloween Snacks as a treat for your little helpers once they complete the course.
WHAT YOUR NEED:
- 3 bean bags (optional)
- A yard full of leaves
WHAT YOU DO:
Decide where you will build your course, what shape it will take, and what obstacles you will include. Here are some obstacle ideas to get you started:
- Pile of leaves to crawl through
- Bags of leaves to leap over
- Paper grocery bags that must be filled with leaves before continuing on
- Stations where your child must find three bean bags (or other objects) that are buried in a leaf pile
- A huge pile of leaves to dive into as the grand finale
To make an obstacle course, you’ll need leaves, lots of them. Give your child a small rake so he or she can help collect the leaves you’ll need. Then arrange the leaves into the obstacle course you designed earlier. If you have two kids who want to race, make two identical courses!
Ready, set, go! Now it’s time to have fun. Race with your child or referee two kids racing. Or time your child as he or she runs the course. Change the obstacles to keep the fun going.
- Fall into the season. Tell your child that autumn has another name – Fall! Ask if he or she can guess where the name came from. Explain that it refers to the time of year when the leaves on some trees turn color and “fall” off.
- Why do leaves change color? Explain to your child that leaves are green because they contain chlorophyll, a substance that helps plants make food. In fall, leaves stop making chlorophyll, and their green color fades. That’s when other colors that were underneath—the beautiful yellows, reds and oranges of fall—can show through. Ask your child to guess the most common leaf color (Answer: yellow.) Learn/teach more details for older kids!
- Fall recycling. Help your child discover ways that nature reuses old leaves. Overturn a bunch of leaves that have been on the ground for a while. You’re likely to find insects and other creatures. That’s because leaves provide these animals with food and shelter. Look for leaves from last year, and show your child how the old leaves have begun to decay. Explain that these old, rotten leaves enrich the soil, supplying food so other plants can grow.
Pumpkin Patch Fun
Try these fun pumpkin games to make Halloween EXTRA fun! Not only do they get you and your little one moving outdoors, they are a great way to spend time and connect with family! Early childhood connections are important and shape your child’s outlook for the rest of their lives. So take the time to play! Check out these cute Halloween Recycle Crafts for some indoor fun too.
WHAT YOUR NEED:
- 10 plastic bottles
- 1 large pumpkin
- Several small pumpkins (some may break during play)
WHAT YOU DO:
Pumpkins come in different shapes and sizes. While you’re at the pumpkin patch, see if you can find the roundest, the tallest, the funniest looking, the one with the curliest stem, the one with the longest stem, and one with no stem at all.
Partially fill your plastic bottles with water or any other material you can use for pins. Cut the stems off the pumpkins so they roll easier. Then set your “pins” on a flat, grassy surface, and start bowling with your pumpkin balls. The scoring system—or whether you score at all—is up to you!
Carve a pumpkin and leave a wide hole in the top. Take five steps away from the pumpkin and try to pitch pennies into the pumpkin. If it’s too hard, step closer. If it’s too easy, step farther away. The person who gets the most pennies in the pumpkin wins!
After Halloween, put your jack-o’-lantern and pumpkin bowling balls in your yard for local wildlife to enjoy. Squirrels like Chipper, raccoons, deer, and even many dogs will chow down with gusto on all parts of the pumpkin!
What other Fall activities do you and your family enjoy? Let Chipper know!
One week till Christmas! Are you ready for the festivities? Celebrate in style and try decorating with some of these cute crafts made from recycled materials. They are fun and easy to make and a great way to spend some time with your kids. The Holidays are about spending time with the ones you love and making everything sparkle and glow (from the inside-out). 7 days left — 7 crafts: Time to get Crafty this Christmas!
1) Corky Rudolph Decoration:
All you need for this simple craft is a recycled cork (which should be plentiful during the Holidays), a brown pipe cleaner, a red bead or pin for the nose, and some googly eyes! Don’t have ornament hooks? Just bend some paper clips out–they work great! Don’t want to buy googly eyes? Just draw some on with a permanent marker, cut some out with paper, or find something around the house like buttons, push pins, or pom poms.
Twist you brown pipe cleaner around your cork in the middle and then shape ends into antlers. Then ass your nose and eyes: use glue (hot glue gun works best but any will work if you let dry long enough) or just stick in a push pin nose. Then attach your ornament hook/paper clip/string, hang on your tree or around the house, and voila! You have a quirky Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer decoration!
You can also make cute reindeer from recycled toilet roles or lids too! All you need is some brown construction paper or paint, googly eyes and something red for Rudolph’s nose!
2) CD Ornament:
Create a personalized ornament add to your collection by using a recycled CD! Not only does it provide a sturdy base for your ornament, but you can design some neat looks with its circular shape. This would is a great project to showcase your family’s holiday photos through the years. Or get nuts with some puffy/glitter paint! Anther idea is to color your CD with some markers, add Elmer glue, and let dry for a pastel colored CD decoration.
3) Clay Pot Snowman
Use an old plant pot or a recycled plastic cups to make snowmen! Find some wrapping paper or use recycled paper first and wrap your pot/cup using tape or glue. Then use markers or puffy paint to make your snowman face! Torn fabric or ribbon can be used to decorate the top. Just cover a cup with some paper, poke a hole in the top with scissors to hang (with string, ribbon or a bent paper clip), and let your child use their imagination to make a original ornament!
4) Egg Carton Silver Bells
Transform a simple egg carton cup into a fabulous bell ornament! This is a simple project, good for a parent and young child to make together on a winter night!
- Egg Carton
- Large Needle
- Thin ribbon or yarn (thread works too since these are quite light!)
You can do the parts that need scissors and needle depending on your little one(s) age(s). Your child(ren) can wrap the foil and hang the finished bell. Each bell is made using one cup cut from an egg carton. Start off by cutting off an egg carton cup and trimming around the edges. Cut a piece of tin foil about 6-inches square and wrap it around the egg carton cup and tuck the extra foil into the inside of the cup. Set the foil wrapped egg carton cup on your table upside down (open side should be on the table). Poke a small hole in the center of the egg carton cup using a needle. Cut about 12-inches of narrow ribbon or thick yarn. Holding the two ends of the ribbon together, tie two or three knots on top of each other. Push the other end (the looped end) up through the hole so that the knot is inside the bell. Pull the ribbon up as far as it will go. Your bell is now ready to decorate if you like. You can decorate with stickers, glitter, or anything else you have around or just leave it plain. Hang on your Christmas tree and enjoy!
5) Festive Container
Make a fun container perfect for a Holiday gift of cookies/etc. using a recycled Pringles potato chip container or a coffee container or a oatmeal container (pretty much any container you have used that has a sealed top). You can even send these in the mail!
- Items to Decorate (see below)
Clean out the inside with paper towels letting them absorb most of the oil that might be left in the can or whatever was in your recycled container. Then using paper, fabric, or wrapping paper cover the outside. Hot glue works best for the fabric and wrapping paper; white glue or tacky glue is sometimes better for construction paper. Both work fine though so use whatever you have. Now get creative! Decorate with markers, glitter and sequins–sky’s the limit!
If you are using this container for cookies, put waxed paper inside once the outside is decorated. Stack cookies into the can just like the chips used to be. If there is a little space at the top and another cookie won’t fit you can use a little waxed paper to act as packing. Put the top back on and you have a wonderful cookie gift for friends, family or Santa!
6) Old Bags, New Look
Why spend money on new gift bags every year? Re-use, Reduce, and Recycle! Save sturdy store bags throughout the year. As the holidays approach, the family personalizes the bags (and covers any store names or logos) by gluing on old holiday cards.
- Sturdy store bags
- Old holiday cards
- Wrapping paper
- Glitter pens
Glue old holiday cards (you can also added pieces of wrapping paper) to sturdy store bags you’ve saved. You can embellish the bags with glitter pens, adding stickers and other decorative touches. Save money, have fun, and give customized gift bags to all your loved one this year!
7) Home Made Dreidel from Plastic Bottle Caps
Here’s a Hanukkah craft that’s also a Hanukkah game! Spinning tops are a traditional Hanukkah toy, so what better activity to engage the kids this Hanukkah than with a simple technique for making their own brigade of spinning tops? These tops spin so amazingly well, it’s almost hard to believe!
- plastic bottle caps: either from regular soda bottles, wide mouthed juice bottles, or bottles like vinegar bottles
- toothpicks or wooden skewers
- a thick needle or sharp item, such as a hat pin or those metal things you use to hold poultry together for roasting (employed by an adult only)
- colorful electrical tape (optional)
- quick drying glue (optional
- Make a hole exactly in the middle of the bottle cap. Some caps have a small bump there, if not eyeball it. A hole not in the center will result in a imbalanced top.
- Enlarge hole if necessary by moving needle around while still in the hole.
- Insert tooth pick or skewer through hole, trim second side of toothpick (dangerous) or shorten skewer.
- Secure toothpick with a few dabs of glue, though usually not necessary, and decorate with small pieces of electric tape.
- Have fun!
HAVE A CHIPPER HOLIDAY SEASON EVERYONE! :)
What You Need:
- At least 7 pages of card stock paper
- Digital camera
- Three hole punch
- Clip on rings
What You Do:
- Start by folding a sheet of typing paper in half lengthwise. Sit down with your child, discuss what really happens every morning, and in the left hand column, make a list of six common features. Be prepared to laugh—kids can be amazingly observant. In our house, for example, a standard event was, “Mom forgets her cell phone and we have to double back to get it.” At the top of the page, you can mark this list, “Nonfiction,” and explain to your child that that means it’s a statement of true facts.
- Now, on the right hand side, ask your child what might change in each case to make things run smoother. (If you already have a smooth morning routine, go ahead and jump straight to this phase—you can just record what you already do.) Write the ideas on small post-its—you can then move them around when you’re done to make a logical sequence.
- Now you’re ready for some reading and writing. Have your child write each of the six things you just discussed onto a horizontal card stock page, creating six pages in order that convey a sensible, sane, orderly morning routine. At the very least, you’ll want to include items like putting on clothes (right side out), eating breakfast, and brushing teeth, and make sure you include a page for a Chipper goodbye before the school day starts!
- Now have your little one use the markers to illustrate every page, with himself or herself in a starring role, of course.
- Place three holes in the left margin and clip the book with clip on rings. This way, you can add or subtract pages later.
- At night before bed, have your child read the book to you. Talk it through and envision how the morning will go. Do it again and again … and prepare to be amazed by the improvements in your morning routine!
Of course, on another day, feel free to take out that other list. There may be quite another tale to write about (perhaps one to laugh about once better routines are in place). Now, Let’s Go Chipper back-to-school!
School’s started up again and making sure your child stays focused and alert during the day depends a lot on what and how much they are eating! Encourage mid-morning or afternoon snacks to keep you little ones energized. Tuck one of these healthy goodies into their backpack so they can have something to nibble on during the long school day.
The snacks below are packed with the flavors kids love, and the critical protein, whole grains, and vitamins they need to be their best! Each one provides a bit of sweetness for flavor and a burst of energy, plus vital nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Having a tasty snack to munch on after school (when they are always impatient for some sort of food) also helps your children to avoid cheap junk food that may be available around or on school grounds. Try five these snacks out to have a Chipper school year!
1) Ants on a Log
This healthy snack is one that kids can make all on their own. Simply spread some crunchy peanut butter and sweet raisins over celery for a smart snacking option.
- 5 stalks celery
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1/4 cup raisins
- Cut the celery stalks in half. Spread with peanut butter. Sprinkle with raisins.
2) Apple Cinnamon Bran Mini-Muffins
A big muffin is often too much for a little kid. These bite-size bran muffins, made with the goodness of apple and cinnamon, are perfect for preschoolers to preteens and are just the right size for snacking between meals.
- 1-1/4 cups (300 mL) natural bran (not cereal)
- 1 cup (250 mL) all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) brown sugar
- 2-1/2 tsp. (12 mL) baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. (2 mL) cinnamon
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) milk
- 1/3 cup (75 mL) vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 medium apple, peeled and finely chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease the cups in two mini muffin pans.
- In a large bowl, stir together the bran, flour, brown sugar, baking powder and cinnamon. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, oil and eggs. Add the milk mixture to the bran mixture, stirring until just combined. Fold in the chopped apple.
- Spoon batter into the prepared muffin pans, filling each cup to the top. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until a toothpick poked into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.
- Makes 20 to 22 miniature muffins.
3) Apple Autumn Salad
This tart and tangy fruit salad tosses together tart green apples, dried cranberries, cherries and almonds in a refreshing vanilla yogurt for a delightful taste of fall.
- 4 tart green apples, cored and chopped
- 1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds, toasted
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup chopped dried cherries
- 1 (8 ounce) container vanilla yogurt
- In a medium bowl, stir together the apples, almonds, cranberries, cherries and yogurt until evenly coated.
4) Banana and Peanut Butter Wraps
Kids go bananas for these simple after-school snacks. The peanut butter and banana filling, sprinkled with raisins and drizzled with honey, is a wholesome way to satisfy their sweet and salty cravings.
- 1 (6 inch) flour tortilla
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 banana
- 2 tablespoons raisins
- Lay tortilla flat. Spread peanut butter and honey on tortilla. Place banana in the middle and sprinkle in the raisins. Wrap, and serve.
5) Juicy Fruit Salad
Juicy to the core, this tropical blend of pineapple chunks, orange segments, diced apple, banana slices and grapes makes a sweet gesture for your little ones when they’re looking for a quick snack.
- 1 (15 ounce) can pineapple chunks with juice
- 1 apple – peeled, cored and diced
- 1 orange – peeled, diced and juice reserved
- 1 banana, sliced
- 1 cup seedless green grapes, halved
- In a large bowl, toss together the pineapple, apple, orange, banana and grapes. Add the juice from the pineapple and orange and let chill until serving.
School Lunch Advice for Kids at Every Age
Try the tips below to make your child’s lunch healthy AND worth looking forward to.
For home-packed lunches:
- Avoid the morning rush by preparing lunch the night before and chilling it in the refrigerator.
- Put slices of tomatoes in a separate bag or container so they don’t make sandwiches soggy.
- Instead potato or corn chips, pack a healthier alternative like veggie chips, bagel rounds, or baked tortilla crisps.
- Round out the meal with kid-sized veggies—baby carrots, celery sticks, or broccoli florets—and a low-fat or fat-free dip.
- Low-fat, high fiber mini muffins make a great dessert alternative to cupcakes or high-fat cookies.
- Use a cookie cutter to transform a plain square sandwich into something unique.
- Turn a container of low-fat yogurt into a complete meal by sending along some stir-ins like granola, trail mix, unsalted chopped nuts, or whole grain cereal.
- Consider alternatives to sandwich bread like burger buns, pita rounds, soft tortillas, and large lettuce leaves (for a no-sog wrap for savory fillings).
For school cafeteria lunches:
- Look over the cafeteria menu with your child ahead of time. Try to agree on items your child like and that are healthy.
- Ask the school’s parent-teacher group to arrange a presentation by the food service department. Express your interest in ensuring that healthy food choices be offered in school cafeterias and vending machines.
- Learn more about new laws requiring healthier school lunches at the Healthy Meals Resource System web site.
Advice and tips for safe lunches
To prevent food-related illness, following the guidelines below when preparing and packing lunches.
Watch the temperature. Harmful bacteria grow best between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F, so it’s important to keep perishable foods outside this danger zone as much as possible. Foods susceptible to bacterial growth—especially high protein foods like meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, and eggs—should never be in the danger zone for more than two hours (one hour in warm weather conditions). Foods destined for the lunch box should be kept in the refrigerator until just before your child leaves for school.
To maintain lunch food at a cool temperature, pack a frozen juice box or water bottle in an insulated lunch bag; you can also use a freezable gel pack. Try to position the coldest item at the top of the bag since cool air settles.
Keep it clean. Always wash your hands (and your child’s) before preparing food. Wash them again after handling eggs or raw meat so you don’t cross contaminate other foods or surfaces. Be sure that utensils, counters, and cutting boards are also clean when you begin. If raw meat or eggs touches a surface, clean it with warm soapy water before allowing another food to come in contact with it.
Be aware of food hazards. Some common lunch foods pose health hazards than you might not expect. Some of the most common include:
- Raw eggs. Uncooked eggs may be contaminated with salmonella. Young children are especially susceptible to this harmful organism, so avoid giving them foods like homemade mayonnaise or uncooked eggnog.
- Peanuts. Children who are allergic to peanuts can have a life-threatening reaction to even microscopic amounts. This is why some schools have banned foods that contain peanuts. Unfortunately, many processed foods contain trace amounts of peanuts, even if they aren’t listed on the ingredient label. If you’re child attends school with a youngster who has a peanut allergy, be sure to pay attention to any guidelines given to you by the school. (To learn more about peanut and other food allergies, check out Medline.)
- Tuna. Albacore tuna—so-called “white” tuna—has relatively high levels of mercury. Though not considered dangerous for most adults, young children and pregnant women should avoid eating more than one meal (about six ounces) of albacore per week. Shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish have less mercury, and are safe for up to two meals per week.
Is There Lead in Your Child’s Lunch Bag?
In 2005, tests by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission revealed that some soft vinyl lunch carriers contained lead. Though the government insisted that the risk associated with these products is very low, parents have reason to be concerned. Lead is an insidious nerve toxin that can lead to retardation and other health problems. Young children are especially vulnerable to the effects of lead.
Although the Food and Drug Administration has asked manufacturers and suppliers to stop using lead in the lunch carriers, it is possible that these products remain in homes and on store shelves. It is also possible, though not likely, that other types of plastic lunch carriers might have lead in them.
To protect your child, consider taking these safeguards:
- Avoid soft lunch carriers made from vinyl (or PVC).
- Look for carriers from reputable suppliers that are certified as lead free.
- If you have a soft lunch carrier and want to know if it contains lead, pick up a home lead testing kit at a well-stocked hardware store or home center.
Check out these environmentally-safe Lunch Totes from Let’s Go Chipper! Perfect for school lunches or summer picnics!
Don’t throw away your old egg cartons next time your finished with your dozen eggs! Instead, have fun with the kids and try some of these ideas to recycle or re-use the containers! Not only are these cartons great for organizing jewelry or desk items, they can be used to hold small round craft items when doing crafts or make a great Rock Collection holder! Egg cartons also work great for holding and protecting Christmas decorations.
Get creative and paint your carton to your liking or simply use it as a paint palette! You can also make a project out of it and use your carton as plant containers or seed starters and teach your little ones how to grow plants. Just poke a few holes in the bottom for drainage. Fill about 3/4 with potting soil and vermiculite. Plant seeds and set in a sunny window. Then have your children follow their growth and have them help you transplant and harvest when ready! It gets you all outdoors, spending quality time together, while teaching them about various plants.
Here are a few other great ideas. Share some of yours with us!
Make Tulips with Old Egg Cartons
This is an easy project kids can do by themselves or with very little help, and these flowers make a great Mother’s Day present. Or, make a bunch for a lovely Spring bouquet!
You will need:
- Clean cardboard egg cartons
- Green chenille (pipe cleaners)
- Elmer’s glue
Cut the egg carton into separate cups, leaving some of the middle “pop-up” sections. Cut the main cups into the pointed shape of the tulip petals. With the point of the scissors or a sharp pencil, poke a hole in the bottom of each cup. Paint and decorate each cup however you like.
Cut the little center “pop-up” sections between the egg cups into small pointed shapes that will go beneath the tulip cups. Poke a hole in the center of each and paint green.
When the pieces are dry, poke a piece of green chenille through the holes. Tie a loop on the end in the cup so it can’t pull back out, and add a dab of glue between the two sections. Shape the chenille into leaf shapes and leave a few inches at the bottom for the stem.
You can stick the stems of several flowers into some clay or floral foam in the bottom of a pot. Or just tie together and wrap with pretty paper and a ribbon to give to mom!
Use some of the same materials to make some bug critter friends! Make legs and wings from pipe cleaners and use pompoms and googly eyes for their face and eyes. Look around the house and through your trash and recycle bins and get creative with your decorations.
What else can you do with recycled egg cartons? Share with Chipper!
First of all, stay chipper and positive–don’t stress out! School is fun and a place to learn.
- Remind your child that there are probably a lot of students who are uneasy about the first day of school. Teachers know that students are anxious and will make an extra effort to make sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible.
- Point out the positive aspects of starting school: It will be fun! She’ll see old friends and meet new ones. Refresh her positive memories about previous years, when she may have returned home after the first day with high spirits because she had a good time.
- Find another child in the neighborhood with whom your youngster can walk to school or ride with on the bus.
- If you feel it is appropriate, drive your child (or walk with her) to school and pick her up on the first day.
- Choose a back pack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back.
- Pack light. Organize the backpack to use all of its compartments. Pack heavier items closest to the center of the back. The backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of your child’s body weight.
- Always use both shoulder straps. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles.
- If your school allows, consider a rolling backpack. This type of backpack may be a good choice for students who must tote a heavy load. Remember that rolling backpacks still must be carried up stairs, and they may be difficult to roll in snow.
Traveling To and From School
Review the basic rules with your youngster:
- If your child’s has lap/shoulder seat belts, make sure your child uses one at all times when in the bus. If your child’s school bus does not have lap/shoulder belts, encourage the school to buy or lease buses with lap/shoulder belts.
- Wait for the bus to stop before approaching it from the curb.
- Do not move around on the bus.
- Check to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing the street.
- Make sure to always remain in clear view of the bus driver.
- Children should always board and exit the bus at locations that provide safe access to the bus or to the school building.
- All passengers should wear a seat belt and/or an age- and size-appropriate car or booster seat.
- Your child should ride in a car seat with a harness as long as possible and then ride in a belt-positioning booster seat. Your child is ready for a booster seat when she has reached the top weight or height allowed for her seat, her shoulders are above the top harness slots, or her ears have reached the top of the seat.
- Your child should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle’s seat belt fits properly (usually when the child reaches about 4′ 9″ in height and is between 8 to 12 years of age). This means that the child is tall enough to sit against the vehicle seat back with her legs bent at the knees and feet hanging down and the shoulder belt lies across the middle of the chest and shoulder, not the neck or throat; the lap belt is low and snug across the thighs, and not the stomach.
- All children younger than 13 years of age should ride in the rear seat of vehicles. If you must drive more children than can fit in the rear seat (when carpooling, for example), move the front-seat passenger’s seat as far back as possible and have the child ride in a booster seat if the seat belts do not fit properly without it.
- Remember that many crashes occur while novice teen drivers are going to and from school. You should require seat belt use, limit the number of teen passengers, and do not allow eating, drinking, cell phone conversations or texting to prevent driver distraction. Limit nighttime driving and driving in inclement weather. Familiarize yourself with your state’s graduated driver’s license law and consider the use of a parent-teen driver agreement to facilitate the early driving learning process. For a sample parent-teen driver agreement, click here.
- Always wear a helmet, no matter how short or long the ride.
- Ride on the right, in the same direction as auto traffic.
- Use appropriate hand signals.
- Respect traffic lights and stop signs.
- Wear bright color clothing to increase visibility.
- Know the “rules of the road.”
Walking to School
- Make sure your child’s walk to a school is a safe route with well-trained adult crossing guards at every intersection.
- Be realistic about your child’s pedestrian skills. Because small children are impulsive and less cautious around traffic, carefully consider whether or not your child is ready to walk to school without adult supervision.
- If your children are young or are walking to a new school, walk with them the first week or until you are sure they know the route and can do it safely.
- Bright colored clothing will make your child more visible to drivers.
- In neighborhoods with higher levels of traffic, consider starting a “walking school bus,” in which an adult accompanies a group of neighborhood children walking to school.
Eating During the School Day
- Most schools regularly send schedules of cafeteria menus home. With this advance information, you can plan on packing lunch on the days when the main course is one your child prefers not to eat.
- Try to get your child’s school to stock healthy choices such as fresh fruit, low-fat dairy products, water and 100 percent fruit juice in the vending machines.
- Each 12-ounce soft drink contains approximately 10 teaspoons of sugar and 150 calories. Drinking just one can of soda a day increases a child’s risk of obesity by 60%. Restrict your child’s soft drink consumption.
Bullying is when one child picks on another child repeatedly. Bullying can be physical, verbal, or social. It can happen at school, on the playground, on the school bus, in the neighborhood, or over the Internet.
When Your Child Is Bullied
- Help your child learn how to respond by teaching your child how to:
- Look the bully in the eye.
- Stand tall and stay calm in a difficult situation.
- Walk away.
- Teach your child how to say in a firm voice.
- “I don’t like what you are doing.”
- “Please do NOT talk to me like that.”
- “Why would you say that?”
- Teach your child when and how to ask for help.
- Encourage your child to make friends with other children.
- Support activities that interest your child.
- Alert school officials to the problems and work with them on solutions.
- Make sure an adult who knows about the bullying can watch out for your child’s safety and well-being when you cannot be there.
When Your Child Is the Bully
- Be sure your child knows that bullying is never OK.
- Set firm and consistent limits on your child’s aggressive behavior.
- Be a positive role mode. Show children they can get what they want without teasing, threatening or hurting someone.
- Use effective, non-physical discipline, such as loss of privileges.
- Develop practical solutions with the school principal, teachers, counselors, and parents of the children your child has bullied.
When Your Child Is a Bystander
- Tell your child not to cheer on or even quietly watch bullying.
- Encourage your child to tell a trusted adult about the bullying.
- Help your child support other children who may be bullied. Encourage your child to include these children in activities.
- Encourage your child to join with others in telling bullies to stop.
Before and After School Child Care
- During early and middle childhood, youngsters need supervision. A responsible adult should be available to get them ready and off to school in the morning and watch over them after school until you return home from work.
- Children approaching adolescence (11- and 12-year-olds) should not come home to an empty house in the afternoon unless they show unusual maturity for their age.
- If alternate adult supervision is not available, parents should make special efforts to supervise their children from a distance. Children should have a set time when they are expected to arrive at home and should check in with a neighbor or with a parent by telephone.
- If you choose a commercial after-school program, inquire about the training of the staff. There should be a high staff-to-child ratio, and the rooms and the playground should be safe.
Developing Good Homework and Study Habits
- Create an environment that is conducive to doing homework. Youngsters need a permanent work space in their bedroom or another part of the home that is quiet, without distractions, and promotes study.
- Schedule ample time for homework.
- Establish a household rule that the TV set stays off during homework time.
- Supervise computer and Internet use.
- Be available to answer questions and offer assistance, but never do a child’s homework for her.
- Take steps to help alleviate eye fatigue, neck fatigue and brain fatigue while studying. It may be helpful to close the books for a few minutes, stretch, and take a break periodically when it will not be too disruptive.
- If your child is struggling with a particular subject, and you aren’t able to help her yourself, a tutor can be a good solution. Talk it over with your child’s teacher first.
HAVE A CHIPPER BACK TO SCHOOL!!!
It’s just about time when the kids are going back to school at last! According to the National Association of School Psychologists, getting a new school year off to a good start can influence children’s attitude, confidence, and performance both socially and academically. The transition from August to September can be difficult for both children and parents after a long summer of broken routines and various trips. Even children who are eager to return to class must adjust to the greater levels of activity, structure, and, for some, pressures associated with school life.
The degree of adjustment depends on the child, but parents and family can help their children manage the increased pace of life by starting early, being realistic, and staying Chipper! Re-establish your regular bedtime and eating schedules early so it won’t be as hard to set once school actually starts. Have your children do some scholastic activities to prepare them mentally to start stuffing their little brains! Restart their memorization skills with Chipper’s fun Matching Game App.
Your child will benefit most from one or two activities that are fun, reinforce social development, and teach new skills! Chipper’s coloring pages App are easy, no-mess activities for your kids to play while on-the-go, shopping for back-to-school. For those of you with preschoolers, Chipper’s Pillow Backpack is the perfect item for your little one’s to hold a few necessities while having something to rest their little heads on during nap time! Sing-a-long songs with all of Chipper’s friends are a fun way for them to shape up their reading skills and dance moves. Check out Chipper’s store to see all our great school items, including Chipper Backpack Plush Clip-on, reusable totes, fun backpacks with matching lunch bags, and much more! Get Chipper with your kids this school year!