Summer Challenge #5: Explore your own backyard

It’s the heart of summer and the 4th of July is fast approaching. There are generally a lot of neighborhood and family get togethers planned this week, so the challenge is to find new ways to explore your own backyard. Below I have listed 10 ways to get you started.

  1. Whip up some sidewalk paint from the Happy Hooligans and get to work painting away in the backyard. Label the paint colors and discuss what your child is painting.
  2. Run through the sprinkler. Have some fun with “ready, set … go.” Discuss the concept wet/dry.
  3. Make some Mud. Discuss how mixing dirt and water create mud.
  4. Search for rocks and paint them for The Kindness Rocks Project. Point out rocks, label paint colors and talk about what message could be added to the rocks.
  5. Find 5 different types of bugs and label them.
  6. Set up a bird feeder and see how many different kinds of birds you can attract. Label the birds as the come and talk about what the birds are doing (eating/flying)
  7. Bring pool noodles into the yard and see how many different ways you can incorporate them into your play.
  8. Set up a picnic in your own backyard. Label foods, talk about eat/drink.
  9. Dig for worms. Use the action word “dig” and then label the worm once one is found.
  10. Water all the plants. Label the plants and talk about putting the water “on” the plants to give them a drink.

My hope is that each and every adventure will be different and exciting. Please connect and share your experiences using #saynplaythesummeraway.

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Summer at Goldfish Swim School

School is out and summer is here. This is the time of year for schedule changes, vacations, and swim lessons offered at the local pool. Even with all of the changes that come with summer, we are keeping one thing constant for our daughter, and that is her swim lesson at Goldfish Swim School. I have thought a lot about why I am keeping my daughter in swim lessons at an indoor swimming pool during the summer and decided to share the reasons below.

An Activity for the Littles: It is hard to find weekly activities for children under the age of three to participate in and swim lessons at our local pool don’t begin until children have reached three years-old. With our little girl turning two this summer, lessons at the local pool aren’t even an option for us. I love that babies can start swim lessons at Goldfish Swim School as young as four months-old.

Goldfish Instructors: I have said it before, and I will say it again, our instructor is amazing! Miss Mary at the Goldfish Swim School – Dublin is so gentle and the children respond so well to her positive vibe. We switched days and times for the summer to better fit our summer work schedules, but before we did, we made sure we could continue with Miss Mary as our instructor.

Routine: With the end of school and the start of summer comes a complete change in routine. I wanted to keep at least one thing constant in her routine. Swim lessons at Goldfish do just that.

Pool Temperature: I remember freezing during early morning swim lessons when I was a kid. Goldfish keeps the water at a comfortable 90 degrees, so I don’t have to worry about my little girl shivering during her lesson.

Focus on Safety: Goldfish places a huge emphasis on water safety during swim lessons, which is so important in keeping these little kiddos safe. Being in the summer months, water activities are everywhere, and it is important for children and parents to be vigilant around water.

The Details: We are currently in the Goldfish Mini 2 class at Goldfish Swim School. We attend lessons at the Goldfish Swim School in Dublin, Ohio. Check out the link for location, address/telephone details and how to sign up for lessons.

Disclaimer: We were provided free swimming lessons by Goldfish Swim School in exchange for collaborating blog posts. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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A Visit to Slate Run Living Historical Farm

Slate Run Living Historical Farm provides the opportunity to experience first-hand what farm life would be like on an Ohio farm in the 1880s. An old farmhouse, barn, and gardens, are open for visitors to explore. Staff, dressed in traditional attire from the 1880s, are there to work the farm, answer questions, and help get visitors involved in farm life.

I have read about Slate Run Farm for awhile now, but I have put off actually visiting. When I thought about making the trip it seemed far and I wasn’t sure my daughter would be interested in exploring the farm for longer than 20 minutes. I finally decided to check it out and made the trip down to Canal Winchester. It turned out to be an easy drive on U.S. Route 33- East out of Columbus and my daughter explored the farmhouse, barn, and surrounding gardens for close to 2 hours.

To get there I followed the GPS to the entrance of the Metro Park and then followed the signs for the “Slate Run Historical Farm” that led to a parking lot. There was then a path that took us back to the farm. Along the way we stopped to watch sheep and chickens.

We then checked out the farmhouse. It was built in 1856 and the living room, parlor and kitchen are open for visitors.

Of course, my daughter found the piano and the baby doll.

Scattered around the outside of the farm house were a variety of old-time activities for my daughter to play with. She loved swinging, rolling the wooden hoop and watching the marbles roll down the marble run.

After we were finished exploring the farmhouse we followed another path back to the barn. We spent close to an hour visiting the farm animals and exploring farm life.

The animals elicited a ton of language from my daughter: labeling the animals, animal sounds, and exclamatory sounds (those pigs were stinky… yuck!)

It was also important that she wave “hi” to every animal she encountered.

Along the way the farmers greeted us, invited us to pet the animals, and participate in some of the farm activities. My girl found grinding the feed corn to be another entertaining part of her day.

If you have been putting off a visit to Slate Run Historical Farm because you think it’s too far, trust me, it’s worth the drive. We spent two hours exploring the farmhouse, barn, and surrounding gardens and didn’t even make it to the actual Metro Park.

The details if you are planning a visit:

Directions: Plug the address into your GPS. The GPS should take you directly to the entrance and then follow the signs for “Slate Run historical Living Farm” back to the parking lot. The address: 1375 State Route 674 N. Canal Winchester, OH 43103

Hours: Check the website for holiday hours

April and May: Tue-Sat 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sun 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

June to Aug: Tue-Thu 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Fri-Sat 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sun 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Sept to Oct: Tue-Sat 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sun 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Nov to March: Wed-Sat 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sun 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Some additional tips:

  • Wear tennis shoes
  • There are restrooms in the Metro Park area, but none back on the actual farm
  • There are picnic tables for a picnic lunch at the entrance to the farm
  • I wouldn’t recommend a stroller, but I saw plenty of them back on the grounds
  • Go early or go late to avoid the school groups

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Take a Taste Tuesday with Dayana

My name is Dayana. I married my best friend and am a mom of three cuties ages 6 (soon to be 7), 5 and 1. They sure keep me on my toes, but I love spending time with them, especially now that school is out. We stay busy by trying new things, going to fun places, gardening, doing crafts and of course we LOVE  cooking together. It’s funny because that is where the idea for my small business came from.

You see, when I was expecting my oldest daughter, my mom (who happens to be a professional seamstress with over 30 years of experience) made the cutest matching apron set for me and my daughter and I instantly fell in love. Who would have thought that that special gift would become the sample for many DayLu Designs mommy and me sets. (www.dayludesigns.etsy.com)

My kids – as is the case with most kids – tend to be picky eaters. I am always looking for easy and yummy recipes that are also healthy and nutritious for them. That’s exactly what I found on Pinterest the other day. I ran to the grocery store to gather what I needed and then asked my kids if they wanted to help me. Luckily, they jumped in excitement and offered to help. I’ve found that when I include them in the process they are more open to try the food, which is why it is so crucial for me to find recipes that are easy and fast so that they can help.

Now that school is out I decided that we will be trying a new vegetable every day to expand our horizons. We gathered our ingredients and started prepping our delicious Zucchini Fritters!!

Here is the recipe if you want to try it out with your littles. Make sure you let them do almost everything of course under your close supervision. I even ask them to adjust the flavor with spices as we go!

5-INGREDIENT ZUCCHINI FRITTERS

  • PREP: 20 MINUTES
  • COOK: 5 MINUTES
  • YIELD: ABOUT 14 FRITTERS

Ingredients

  • 4 cupsshredded zucchini
  • 2/3 cupall-purpose flour
  • 2large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cupsliced scallions (green and white parts)
  • 2 Tablespoonsolive oil
  • Sour cream, for serving (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Place the shredded zucchini in a colander set over a bowl and sprinkle the zucchini lightly with salt. Allow the zucchini to stand for 10 minutes. Using your hands, squeeze out as much liquid from the zucchini as possible. Transfer the zucchini to a large bowl.

Add the flour, eggs, sliced scallions, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper to the bowl, stirring until the mixture is combined. Line a plate with paper towels.

Add the olive oil to large sauté pan set over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, scoop 3-tablespoon mounds of the zucchini mixture into the pan, pressing them lightly into rounds and spacing them at least 2 inches apart. Cook the zucchini fritters for 2 to 3 minutes, then flip them once and cook an additional 2 minutes until golden brown and cooked throughout. Transfer the zucchini fritters to the paper towel-lined plate and immediately sprinkle them with salt. Repeat the scooping and cooking process with the remaining zucchini mixture.

Serve the zucchini fritters topped with sour cream (optional) and sliced scallions.

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Summer Challenge #4: Explore a New Playground

This week the summer challenge is to find and explore a new playground.

5 Reasons to explore a new playground:

  1. Promote language skills: The playground is an easy way to build language practice into your day. Check out this link for how to have fun with language at the playground.
  2. An inexpensive way to spend the day: Playgrounds are free!
  3. An exciting way to burn off some energy: A new playground means lots to see and explore, so hopefully the kids will constantly be on the move and ready for a nap.
  4. Visit a new place and meet new people: Exploring in a new place will take you out of your comfort zone. Finding a new playground is a great way to see what other communities have to offer and meet some new people along the way.
  5. Contribute to a good cause: By using and reviewing playgrounds, you can encourage others in the neighborhood to make use of play spaces.

My hope is that each and every adventure will be different and exciting. Please connect and share your experiences using #saynplaythesummeraway.

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Take a Taste Tuesday with BeetBox

Hello! We are Sara Burkhart and Christina Saluke, Co-Creators of BeetBox, a subscription service designed to get kids ages 3-10 excited about eating fruits and vegetables. As moms to young children, we have a passion to teach kids how essential these tasty foods are and to help set the foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating. We create boxes packed with original content and carefully curated items intended to make fruits and vegetables appealing. Children will discover information, recipes, snacks, activities and products highlighting the fun and flavor of produce. BeetBox encourages children to experience hands-on involvement: shopping for, learning how to properly store and prepare and most importantly tasting produce! BeetBox strives to make fruits and vegetables a delicious and approachable part of everyday life while motivating children to learn through play. BeetBox is a local Columbus company that delivers monthly subscription boxes and one-time gift boxes nationwide.

We both enjoy shopping with our kids and have seen how involving them in the process of choosing foods and talking about options has a positive impact. Going to the grocery store or farmers market is an interactive and hands-on learning experience for our children. We embrace the sights, sounds, tastes and smells as talking points. When we get back home the kids are involved in unpacking the groceries and in food prep when it’s time to cook. The more immersive the practices are the better understanding our children have of nutrition, kitchen safety and proper food handling. It may take twice as long and be twice as messy but it’s also twice as fun!

Other guidelines that we each follow in our homes are that everyone eats the same meal at the same time and we don’t incentivize with sweets or withhold them in exchange for eating other foods first.

These strategies make meals a no-pressure experience which eliminates the stress on the children and parents. Mealtime is something to look forward to and is a chance for conversation instead of a battle. When every bite a child takes or doesn’t take is not scrutinized over they are more comfortable experimenting with foods and often end up as more adventurous eaters. Additionally, when the children see parents and caregivers enjoying food in a healthy way they will be more likely to pick up on those behaviors.

Something to try: Thank You Bites

Have your child take at least one bite of whatever is served to them as a way of saying “thank you” to the person who prepared the food. Kids often find they like the item! A simple, no pressure way to offer new foods with the bonus of reinforcing manners.

Something to keep in mind: Research has shown that it takes up to ten tries of a new food for a person to decide if they like it or not. Keep giving your kids new foods prepared in a variety of ways to make sure they have a solid sense of their preference for it.

Something to make: Kid-Friendly Green Smoothie.

Perfect for the warmer months and very simple to blend and enjoy outside in the sunshine or while on the go to the next summer activity. Kids welcome the sweet treat that is packed with iron and Vitamin C, which helps the body absorb the iron. Be sure to make one for yourself!

Kid-Friendly Green Smoothie

1 cup frozen strawberries

1/2 banana

1 cup baby spinach
1/2 cup apple juice

Connect with BeetBox:

@beetboxkids (Instagram account)

www.beetboxkids.com (website)

www.facebook.com/BeetBoxKids

lettucehelp@beetboxkids.com

Each Tuesday for the next several weeks a fellow mom/friend/community member will be sharing a fun recipe, tips to include kids in the cooking process, or a great family restaurant for “Take a Taste Tuesday.” If you are interested in sharing your eating and/or cooking fun be sure to connect with me via email!

 

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Summer Challenge #3: Join the Kindness Rocks Project

This week the summer challenge is to join the Kindness Rocks Project – The Art of Connection. This project was created to spread inspiration and motivation for unsuspecting recipients through random inspirational rocks dropped around the community. The world is in need of a little more peace, love and understanding, so join us by contributing in a small way by painting and dropping inspirational rocks around town.

How to Join In:

  1. Gather Some Rocks
  2. Write an inspirational message on the rocks
  3. Leave your rock across the community for others to find

“In a world where you can be anything… Be Kind!”

If you do paint and drop rocks around town, be sure to add #thekindnessrocksproject to the back of each rock you paint. We will be spreading rocks around this week so be sure to share if you find one!

My hope is that each and every adventure will be different and exciting. Please connect and share your experiences using #saynplaythesummeraway.

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Take a Taste Tuesday: Lemonade in a Bag

For this Take a Taste Tuesday, I wanted to share our recipe for Lemonade in a Bag. When making this with my daughter, I gather all the ingredients and supplies on a tray. All this activity requires is a lemon cut in quarters, sugar, water, and a sandwich bag. It gets pretty sticky, so I like to make it outside. I prepared a recipe to use as a visual that helps sequence the steps as we go (there is a printable PDF at the end of the post).

While preparing the lemonade, I give my daughter simple directions while pointing to the pictures in the recipe. I use first/second/then/last and put in.  The majority of the activity I really let her have control. Her scoops might not make it entirely into the bag and she might take a bite of the lemon, but it’s more about the process than the product!

Lemonade in a Bag:

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 lemon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 heaping spoonful of sugar

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in the bag and close
  2. Squeeze the juice out the lemon
  3. Pour into a cup or insert a straw into the bag
  4. Drink!

Once we are done following the recipe, my daughter turns into a kitchen scientist by transferring, mixing,  and tasting. Luckily, since we are outside, I can hose her off when we are done!

Print the recipe and take a shot at making your own lemonade in a bag. Let us know what you think!

Lemonade In a Bag

Each Tuesday for the next several weeks a fellow mom/friend/community member will be sharing a fun recipe, tips to include kids in the cooking process, or a great family restaurant for “Take a Taste Tuesday.” If you are interested in sharing your eating and/or cooking fun be sure to connect with me via email!

Summer Challenge #2: Try a New Food

This week the summer challenge is to try a new food. Join us on our journey to become a little more adventurous when it comes to eating. Trying new foods expands palates, introduces different cultures through cuisine, and provides opportunity for language development.

How new foods can promote language use:

  • Provides opportunity to expand vocabulary
  • Provides opportunity to make a choice
  • Provides opportunity to place an order
  • Provides opportunity to describe what the new food looks like
  • Provides opportunity to describe how the new food smells, feels, and tastes

Why it’s important to expose children to new food:

  • If you want your child to eat differently you have to feed her differently
  • Children establish food preferences and dietary habits during the first six years of life
  • Positive exposure to multiple foods help children develop a taste for more foods
  • Consistently offering a variety of foods to children helps the majority of children overcome the natural tendency to reject new foods and leads to more healthful eating habits
  • Up to 10 to 15 experiences may be necessary for a child to try and then accept a new food

Ways to expose your child to a new food this week:

  • Pick out a new fruit or vegetable from the local farmers marker and give it a taste
  • Try a new ethnic restaurant. Think Indian, Somali, Mexican, Chinese. The options are endless!
  • Pick a new recipe and cook it up together
  • Pick a restaurant that doesn’t have a kids menu, and share a new dish
  • Are you growing a vegetable garden? Pick your veggies straight from the garden and give it a taste

My hope is that each and every adventure will be different and exciting. Please connect and share your experiences using #saynplaythesummeraway.

Summer Challenge #1: Join a Summer Reading Program

According to the School Library Journal, “Based on the findings of a recent three-year study by Dominican University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Studies, we can confirm what many librarians have long suspected: students who take part in their local library’s summer reading program significantly improve their reading skills. In fact, we found that kids who participate in these programs are 52 Lexile points ahead of their peers who do not. Summer reading programs are also an antidote for learning loss. So instead of losing knowledge and skills during the summer months, kids who attend reading programs actually show gains.”

This week be sure to stop by your local library and join a free summer reading program. If you are in Central Ohio there are a number of programs to join. Will you be joining one of the following?

Bexley Public Library: “”Build a Better World and READ!” Starting on May 31, join Bexley’s Summer Community Read by signing up at the library. Kids, teens, and adults are invited to read, attend exciting and engaging programs, and enter to win amazing raffle prizes Zoo passes, tickets to The Wilds, Zoombezi Bay tickets, COSI passes, Shadowbox Live tickets, King’s Island tickets, Columbus Landmarks tours, a Kindle Fire, and much more!”

Columbus Metropolitan Library: “”Be a Hero. Read” is the theme, inviting participants of all ages to read and earn great prizes while completing reading and library activity goals. The nine-week Summer Reading Club runs Saturday, June 3, through Saturday, Aug. 5. All participants will need a CML library card to sign up.”

Upper Arlington Public Library: “Build a Better World” begins Monday, May 22 and runs through Sunday, July 30. “The annual Summer Reading Club has begun! Register your whole family — from babies through seniors — for a summer full of books and maybe even some prizes. Kids earn prizes for reading 5, 10 and 15 hours, while teens and adults earn chances in weekly drawings for gift cards.”

Westerville Public Library: “Build a Better World” runs Tuesday, June 6, through Thursday, August 6. Reading can reduce stress, increase empathy for others and keep your mind sharp. And it’s fun! Challenge yourself to a summer of reading and win prizes along the way.

Worthington Libraries: “The Artful Summer” runs Tuesday, May 30, through Sunday, July 30. Worthington Libraries thinks you’ll “Louvre” how fast you can turn fun stuff like reading, creating and exploring into free stuff like food, toys and more this summer!

Check-in each week this summer for adventure ideas in your community. My hope is that each and every adventure will be different and exciting. Please connect and share your experiences on the weekly adventures using #saynplaythesummeraway.