Wednesday, October 31, 2012

10 Tips for Keeping the Kids Safe on Halloween

Guest post by Kathleen Crislip 
First published on September 25, 2012 on Nanny Care

Halloween is traditionally a time of good-natured mischief, mild trickery, and wild fun for kids. In today’s world, however, parents are forced to be a bit more cautious regarding kids’ safety than their parents were. Provided that you teach your children to adhere to certain safety rules and take the recommended precautions yourself before a trick-or-treating expedition, Halloween hijinks can be as fun, and as harmless, as they were in days gone by.
  1. No Trick or Treating Alone – No matter how old your child is or how much he insists upon being allowed to go out by himself, it’s best to insist that he at least be accompanied by a group of friends. While it’s not practical to accompany your young teen personally, ensuring that he’s with a trusted group of friends can help to keep him out of harm’s way and do wonders for your peace of mind.
  2. Integrate Reflective Materials into Costumes – One of the biggest hazards for children during the Halloween festivities are drivers that cannot see them. While your child should understand that walking or playing in the street is never acceptable, it’s still best to take every possible precaution by integrating reflective materials that will glow in headlights and make your child easy to spot.
  3. Keep Props Flexible and Blunt – Regardless of how hard your pirate tries to bargain for a more realistic-looking cutlass, you should make sure that all costume props are flexible and have dull edges to prevent accidental injury. Kids can be hurt during make-believe jousts, and can also fall on their own “weapons,” should they lose their balance as they scamper across the neighborhood lawns.
  4. Teach Safe Pedestrian Behavior – In order to reduce the chances of your child being struck by a passing vehicle, it’s imperative that you help them understand the rules governing pedestrian behavior. Even if you plan to accompany your child every step of the way, he should still have a basic idea to prevent accidents.
  5. Opt For Makeup Over Masks – Masks are a perennial Halloween favorite, and often the scarier they are, the better. Despite their popularity, however, masks aren’t always the safest choice for a costume. Unless your child has particularly sensitive skin, opting for gentle, non-toxic makeup or face paints is a far better option. The construction of most masks creates a situation in which the wearer’s peripheral vision is obstructed, which can increase your child’s chances of being involved in an accident.
  6. Glow Stick Safety – Some parents opt to give their children glow sticks to boost their visibility to drivers. While this is a perfectly safe and quite effective option for children old enough to handle them properly, the chemicals can be hazardous if glow sticks are handled improperly. Before handing these luminescent items over to your little ones, be sure that they understand never to puncture the plastic casing and to promptly discard any glow stick that is leaking.
  7. No Risky Treats! – Candy and other treats that have damaged packaging, look as if the wrapper has been tampered with, or are unfamiliar should not be eaten. Kids with food sensitivities and allergies should also hold off on eating any of their haul until they get home to make sure that they don’t accidentally come into contact with a dangerous allergen.
  8. Skip Costumes That Fit Improperly – While your little princess may want a train that trails behind her for three feet or the Dracula in your midst a long, flowing cape, these costumes simply aren’t safe for children. These long, draping materials can be tangled, caught on moving objects, or cause your child to trip.
  9. Stranger Danger – While it’s not a good idea to instill a blind terror of all strangers, your child should understand that some strangers can be dangerous, and that they should never enter the home of anyone they don’t know very well and trust completely. It’s also Halloween etiquette to not approach houses with the outside lights off.
  10. Zero Tolerance Vandalism Policies – Though much of Halloween mischief is largely harmless and in good fun, kids need to know that a zero-tolerance vandalism policy will be enforced before they walk out the door with their friends. Toilet papering, shaving creaming, and egging, among other destructive acts, can lead to serious trouble and should never be tolerated or condoned by parents.
Much of your approach to child safety on Halloween will depend upon the age and maturity level of the children involved. While very young children are likely to be content with a trip around the neighborhood, a modest haul of treats, and the chance to show off their costume, older kids will likely insist upon having a bit more autonomy. It’s also wise to have a candy policy in place before the first piece falls into your child’s trick-or-treating bag to avoid gorging on sugar or fighting over the subject.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

9 Lessons to Learn at the Pumpkin Patch

Guest post by Sophie Leake
First published on September 19, 2012 at Au Pair Care

As harvest time approaches and the heat of summer gives way to the cooler weather of fall, family outings and school field trips to pumpkin patches and apple orchards become more and more common. While these outings can seem like little more than entertainment at face value, there are actually some very valuable lessons that kids can learn during their visit. Here are nine of the things that your child will almost certainly learn about from a single trip to the pumpkin patch this autumn.
  1. The Life Cycle – Even the biggest pumpkin in the patch begins as a tiny, tiny seed, which is something that your child will learn when he visits the patch where those pumpkins grow. Most pumpkin patches and orchards that open for tours and outings also provide a guide of sorts for each group, and he will typically offer a brief explanation of the life cycle, simplified to help little ones grasp the basics.
  2. Agriculture and Farming Practices – Many children, especially those that live in metropolitan and urban areas, have only a faint idea of farming and how agriculture affects their own lives. Taking a trip to the pumpkin patch, where farmers actively cultivate pumpkins and other crops, can help kids gain a better understanding of the important role that farming plays in society.
  3. Bees and Pollination – Bees are an integral part of the pumpkin-growing process, something that kids learn when pollination is explained. In addition to the hands-on science lesson, kids can also learn that bees are more than just scary, stinging insects, and that they actually play an important role in our ecosystem.
  4. Weights and Measures –Pumpkins are usually sold by weight, something that your child will be able to learn when he purchases his own pumpkin for carving or painting. Parents or caregivers that are determined to help kids learn as much as possible on their trip can also help children in their care measure the pumpkins they choose while teaching them about circumference and units of measure.
  5. Buying and Selling – While they might be fun places to visit and learn, pumpkin patches are, above all else, a marketplace. Kids can get a hands-on, up-close-and-personal view of the mercantile process, the ins and outs of buying and selling, and the way that our society trades money for goods.
  6. Shapes and Colors – The prevailing image of a pumpkin is one that is large, round, and orange. In reality, however, they actually come in a wide variety of colors and shapes. Young children can practice their color and shape recognition skills at the patch, and older kids can learn about the dominant and recessive genes that cause these variations.
  7. Counting and Basic Math – Helping a youngster practice his counting skills, or basic addition and subtraction for kids that are a bit older, is greatly simplified when the objects in question are large and sport a bright orange hue.
  8. Halloween and Harvest Time Legends – The legends of Halloween aren’t always considered suitable for all children, depending upon their family’s belief system, however harvest legends from cultures around the world are a great way to help kids appreciate diversity and gain a larger world view than what they’re afforded in their own city. Using a trip to the pumpkin patch as a conversation starter about such subjects can ensure that your kids have a fun-filled afternoon that’s followed by an informative discussion around the dinner table.
  9. Farming is Hard Work! – When children have little-to-no working knowledge of farming or agriculture it’s easy for them to imagine that fruits and vegetables are produced in a factory alongside their favorite processed snacks. With a single trip to the pumpkin patch and a chance to observe the farmers there, kids can learn to appreciate the hard work that goes into every piece of fruit or vegetable that they eat.
Though the hot summer days may be fading into the cool, crisp days of fall, it’s still important to remember your child’s delicate skin before an outdoor adventure. Be sure to apply plenty of sunscreen and instruct him on proper behavior and safety to prevent any accidents or mishaps along the way. If you’re taking a self-guided tour of the pumpkin patch as a family, it might also be wise to brush up on your farming and gardening knowledge beforehand so that you can pass it along to your kids in the absence of an expert guide.

Book Review: Healthy Food from A to Z

Healthy Foods from A to Z / Comida sana de la A a la Z
By: Executive Editor Stephanie Maze and Photographer: Renee Comet
Published by:  Moonstone Press LLC; Date: 2012
ISBN: 978-0-9834983-1-5 (Hardcover)
Price: $15.95
Ages: Ages 3 and up
Rating:  5 stars
Reviewed by: Wayne S. Walker

 Synopsis: Do you know what a berenjena is?  Would you be willing to eat a zarzamora?  Youngsters can traipse through the alphabet, learning about different fruits, vegetables, grains, and other healthy foods, while reinforcing their ABCs, in both English and Spanish. The Spanish name for the book is Comida sana de la A a la Z.  Colorful illustrations of charming faces constructed by famous food-photographer Renee Comet out of the various foodstuffs will encourage children to return to the book over and over.  By the way, zarzamora is Spanish for blackberry, and berenjena is Spanish for eggplant.  Have you ever tried eggplant?  What about a quince (membrillo)?
Overall thoughts:   In addition to the text of the book where the foods are pictured alphabetically and identified by both English and Spanish names, readers are given instructions on how to make their own healthy food face and provided with other healthy food projects to do which involve art, language, science, and math skills.  There are also seven pages of “Did You Know…?” facts that will highlight the nutritional value of seventy of the foods pictured throughout the book for parents to share with their children.  Healthy Foods from A to Z will be beneficial for all youngsters but can be especially helpful for bilingual families and those wishing to expose students to the Spanish language (or even vice versa).  Did you know that strawberries are a member of the rose family?  I love strawberries.  I also love this book. 

Links: (publisher)

Monday, October 29, 2012

5 Things to Teach Your Child About Riding the Bus

Guest Post by Molly Cunningham

First published on September 13, 2012 at Live In Nanny

 When the time comes for your little one to begin attending school, it can be heart-wrenching to watch his tiny little form clamber up the steps of the massive school bus, knowing that he’s growing up no matter how much you may not want him to. Even though you can’t stop him from getting older, you can help him prepare for this transitional age in his life, starting with what to expect when riding the school bus. There are a wide variety of things that your little scholar should know before he takes his first school bus ride, but these five are among the most important.
  1. What to Do if the Bus Is Late – While the system governing school transportation is usually an efficient and effective one, it’s important for parents and kids to understand that the system is run by human beings, who are not infallible. Buses can be late, delayed by inclement weather or other situations out of the drivers’ control. A late bus can cause children who are eagerly waiting to return home from school to panic. To prepare your children for this situation, be sure that they know what they should do and who they should contact to notify them of the situation.  Instill in them the notion that the most important thing to do is follow the instructions of their teachers and school administrators until the bus arrives. Almost all schools will have a contingency plan in place for just such an event, but your child needs to know that he will be taken care of and that the event, while new and scary to him, is one that the school staff is trained to handle.
  2. Pay Attention At All Stops – Very few experiences that your child has on the bus are as disconcerting as realizing that their stop has been passed and that they’re now in unfamiliar territory. While many drivers will keep in mind that a very young, inexperienced rider could be distracted by socializing and the novelty of riding a school bus, most will only wait so long to see if a child is present for their stop before heading to the next. Sleeping children are particularly difficult for a driver to see, so your child should be taught the importance of paying attention, staying awake, and getting off at the right stop.
  3. How to Follow the Rules – Though some rules can seem unnecessarily strict to young children, your child should understand that those rules are in place to protect him and ensure his safety, as well as the safety of others. Shouting, standing up, roughhousing, or otherwise misbehaving can cause him to be subjected to disciplinary action up to and including suspension of bus privileges. Your child’s school will inform you about the rules governing bus behavior and will usually include a dedicated section in the school handbook. Taking the time to go over these rules and ensuring that your child is well-versed in what is and is not allowed when riding the bus can help him avoid any disciplinary problems and ensure a safe riding experience.
  4. General School Bus Safety – Kids should know general bus safety guidelines before their first bus trip to ensure that they don’t inadvertently engage in unsafe behavior. It’s important to teach your child that he should always step away from the curb as the bus is approaching, and should only walk towards it after the bus has come to a complete stop. He should also know that he should never stoop to pick up objects that have fallen under the bus, and that he should only cross the street in front of the bus and at a distance of at least ten feet to ensure that the driver can see him. The small stature and quick movements of younger children make it difficult for drivers to spot them, and also makes it harder for a child to spot oncoming vehicles and other obstacles.
  5. The Dangers of Bullying – Bullying is a very serious problem, and it’s one that often occurs in the raucous environment of the school bus. Because bus drivers can have difficulty hearing everything that’s being said to an individual child over the collective din of many little voices, you simply cannot rely on the bus driver’s ability to detect and prevent bullying. Your child should understand the dangers of being a bully themselves, and know what to do if they’re the victim of bullying from other children on the bus. Letting him know that he can always tell an adult about any problems that he’s having or difficulties he’s forced to endure on the school bus is very important, because he may feel as if he has nowhere to turn if he becomes a target of school bus bullies.
To get children prepared for their first trip on the school bus, role play various scenarios and talk about what to expect from the trip. Be sure to include everything from boarding the bus, to paying attention at each stop, to exiting the bus safely, and everything that could happen in between.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

October '12 Book Lovers Blog Hop & Giveaway!

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Book Lovers October '12 Blog Hop & Giveaway!

The Families Matter Blog is hosting a giveaway for Kai Strand's WOI Virtual Tour! We want to spread the love of reading because that is how we see books here at SFC and Families Matter. We have teh pleasure to present to you prizes that have some wonderful stories for the young and old!

We have read these books ourselves and are excited to know offer a giveaway to win some of Award-winning Author Kai Strand's books. A BIG THANKS to all the hosts who have signed up to help host Kai Strand's WOI Virtual Tour, the Book Lovers Hop and all the readers that are continuing to support the love of reading!

Now let's make some new friends, share the love of reading and enter to win some FREE books!

About The Wishing Well:
Molly Minstrel is treated worse than Cinderella by her mom and sisters. When Molly meets the magical creature, Unwanted, she wishes her problems away. However, you must first understand what you need before knowing what to ask for. Molly will have to look within for the solution to her troubles.

Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing
ISBN Number(s): Hardcover 978-1616333010
                              Softcover 978-1616333027
Publication Date:  July 24, 2012
Genre of Book: Juvenile Fantasy Adventure

About Save the Lemmings:
When Natalie’s Texty-Talky invention makes her an overnight sensation, the media digs until they find a way to smear her goody-goody image. When her best friends start believing what they read, Natalie’s sunny spirit is pushed to its limits. How will Natalie stop the lies and win her friends back? And who will SAVE THE LEMMINGS?

Publisher: Featherweight Press
ISBN Number: 978-1-60820-710-2
Publication Date: August 10, 2012
Genre of Book: Juvenile Contemporary Fiction

There will be two (2) winners for this Book Giveaway.
Note: One book per winner.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hop Rules:
 1.  Follow the Top link of the hop! Hop Host: Families Matter 
      2.  Grab the button for the hop up top and place it in a post, sidebar, or on a blog hop page and let us know where it is in the comments section below. This will help the hop grow and gain us all new followers. It's a Win-Win for everyone!
Please play nice and follow our simple rules! Make sure to FOLLOW AT LEAST ONE PERSON and as many other blogs as you'd like to have follow back. This is what makes the Book Lovers Blog Hop work, so if you're not willing to follow, please don't link up.
Remember to leave a comment on the blogs you follow to let them know you found them here at the FAMILIES MATTER October '12 Book Lovers Hop, and if someone follows you, be sure to follow back. If you follow us and leave a comment, we'll definitely follow you too!

The Book Lovers Blog Hop is Open…
Now Go Hop Hop Hop and check out more marvelous blogs &  giveaways!

You can find out more about Kai Strand and her World of Ink Author/Book Tour 
Note: You can use all or parts of this post for your post about the Book Lovers Blog Hop.


*Stories for Children Publishing, LLC. (SFC) and its divisions do not receive any compensation for product reviews beyond a sample and/or limited access to a paid website. SFC donates all books sent for review to a charitable organization. SFC may do a contest or giveaway of samples we receive.