Monday, July 21, 2014

How to Help Children Eat Vegetables

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Do mealtimes sometimes feel like you’re taking the proverbial horse to water but it refuses to drink? Or rather eat vegetables? If your children are anything like mine, getting them to eat a healthy, balanced diet (or more specifically vegetables) is a bit of a mission. I lovingly prepare a healthy dinner, packed full of vegetables and what happens? There are cries of “yuck” and “I don’t like pasta, I only like spaghetti” or “Why did you put so many vegetables in it?” ‘it’ being the vegetable pasta.

At times, I wonder if it’s worth the effort. But I know it is. I know that if I instill healthy eating habits now, my children have a much greater chance of continuing those habits into adulthood. A lifetime of healthy eating, greatly reduces your chances of getting some pretty nasty diseases. Obviously obesity is linked to diet (and all its complications of which some like heart and lung failure are actually life threatening.) But there are also others, certain cancers, which are linked to diet. And not life threatening, but very common and not very pleasant is constipation.

So yes, I know that teaching my children healthy habits is worth while. But amidst those cries of “not more vegetables” and “I want more ham”, how does one go about not loosing your sanity or your temper?
Look at the big picture
The first thing I would advise, is to look at the bigger picture. Take the zen approach to veggies! That particular pea or carrot is not worth arguing over. Children usually win the “Battle of the Pea”. They are stubborn and you can’t beat them. The crosser you get, the more they refuse. Look at the bigger picture. You’re trying to teach them habits for life. In the same way that teaching them to swim or ride a bike doesn’t happen over night, nor does healthy eating. Some children (not mine) will naturally choose healthy foods, but the majority prefer sweets and ice cream, which is fine from time to time, but shouldn’t be ‘always’.
Do it together
Eating healthily together is another great way to help children grow up with good eating habits. Children learn by copying what they see. If they see their parents eating healthily and enjoying it, they will eventually join in. I know, I know, meal times with young children can be noisy, boisterous affairs but stick at it, they’re only little once. (And I know that this can be difficult for people due to working patterns, but do it as often as you can and if that’s not very often, make a celebration of it.)
Get them involved
Eating and cooking healthy food doesn’t have to be time consuming or expensive. Actually, it probably works out cheaper to cook from scratch than using all those not so healthy packet options. Get the kids involved. Mine love making apple crumble (which is essentially cooked up apples with a bit of topping.) Not only is it cheap and easy to make, it’s nutritious and much better for you than most of those puddings that come in pots. (And for some reason my kids think it’s great fun to eat the apples whilst we make it, a bit like licking the cake mix off a spoon but actually just nibbling around the cores.)
Variety is the key
Another great trick is to offer them a variety of healthy things to eat, dips and raw vegetables is a great way to start. It seems to work by bamboozling them with choice. They seem to forget that they ‘don’t like carrots’ and try them amongst all the other things. Last week my 3 year old even ate celery. (OK, he didn’t today but trying it is a start.)
There are loads of tricks and tips to try. Stick at it, don’t loose heart and you’ll get there in the end.


Dr Orlena Kerek is a pediatrician and mother of 4 young children (still small enough to fit in the bath together). She has a website that focuses on what to do when your baby is ill at and blogs about raising healthy happy children at She has a special interest in helping children eat a healthy diet. If you sign up to her newsletter, you’ll get a free copy of 30 Tips to get your Kids to Eat and LOVE Vegetables. You can find her here on Facebook.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Rain Activities for Kids

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Living in the Midwest, we get our fair share of summer rainstorms.  Often times, we find ourselves hunkered down in the basement because said storms are accompanied by tornadoes.  That's what makes these rain activities for kids so much fun... They allow us to explore this element of nature in a way that makes it less threatening and scary when we are faced with it in real life.  Check out these amazing play and learning rain activities for kids!

Create rain in a glass using two simple items everyone has at home.

Mimic the noise the rain makes by making rain sticks like Danya Banya.

Partner up with the rain outside to create these rainy day splatter paintings from mama.papa.bubba.

Grab the cotton balls and glue so kids can create these cute rain mobiles from Learning 4 Kids. 

Reuse an empty plastic bottle to create a rainstick sensory bottle for little hands and ears to explore like In Lieu of Preschool. 

Let the rain wash some color into your kiddo's collages using this technique from Mini Monets and Mommies.

Get hands-on exploring raindrops using this super fun technique that Teach Preschool did with cotton balls.

Let your little scientists explore and create their own rain in a jar like Learn Play Imagine did.

Experiment with the rain and various materials the way that A Mom with a Lesson Plan did.

Use this rainy day rhythm free printable pack to play from Let's Play Music some rainy day games.

Go on a rain walk and do experiments with the rain inspired by this post at Mom With a Lesson Plan.

Making a rain sensory bottle like Creative Family Fun did will provide for lots of quiet hands on fun for your little one.

Kiddos can get some great fine motor skill practice with these free printable weather lacing cards from Wild Olive

Rain paint with powdered paints and use them to rain paint the way that Housing a Forest did. 

Create drip art with 3D raindrops inspired by these from De Tout et de Rien.
Measure the rainfall in your area with a homemade rain gauge like the Imagination Tree did.

Grab one item from the garage and make these awesome rain chains inspired by Dollar Store Crafts. 

Create these rain suncatchers based on the book The Falling Rain Drop like 3 Dinosaurs did.

If there's not rain outside, try some indoor puddle jumping like Val of Inner Child Fun suggests on the Melissa & Doug site.

Dig through the recycling bin for what you need to make your own rain using this tip from I Can Teach My Child.

After looking at all of these activities and our forecast for the week, I'm actually anxious for us to get some rain so we can go outside and try some of them!  What's your favorite rainy activity to do? 

Keep in touch with Crayon Freckles on Facebook to get daily post previews and hear about other great activities! You can also follow Crayon Freckles on Pinterest and Twitter.
Check out Why Does My Teen?, which is an informational site for the parents teens.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Watching You Grow

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There is something magical about watching a child grow up; going from helpless infant to little person and beyond. During the day to day life, it's sometimes hard to take a step back and realize how much of a blessing it is to be involved in the life of a child in such a significant way. But it's also so important that we do take that time.
Every stage of development brings some new delight and it's amazing to watch. I've enjoyed something about every step on this journey thus far (and then there were parts that weren't so enjoyable, but I'm trying to think positively here!).

As an infant, when I would hold her in my arms and feed her before putting her into her crib, the room was darkened but I could still see her, holding my finger with her little hand, and I remember thinking, "I'm going to miss these days." And I was right. I loved watching her learn to roll over, and sit up, and crawl, and then walk. I loved how, as she became a toddler, she could be entertained and amused by just about anything. Fussy while we're out? Just hand her some keys. Getting underfoot while trying to make dinner? Here, take some pots and a spoon and have a blast.
Even those "terrible" twos weren't so bad. (I say now...) The thing I liked about it was that if I paid close enough attention, I could see what she was getting mad or frustrated about and it helped to understand her. One day she dumped all her toys out of a small toy box but before yelling,  I watched her, and she flipped the box over to climb up and reach something. It was actually a very creative thing to do and I wouldn't have known it if I'd just flown off the handle at her dumping her toys all over the floor. I loved how she would get excited to see a bus or a dog. I loved watching her play outside, finding a leaf or a stick, and I would think,  This is what kids her age have done since kids were invented.

At three you could have a conversation with her. She was much more opinionated but that just means she had her own ideas. There was more area for reasoning with her, where with a younger toddler you're just wasting your breath trying to explain why they can't do something. And I got to watch as she cut with scissors for the first time. And she was fully potty trained by then and starting to put her own clothes on. She wanted (and still wants) to do everything herself and I'm proud of her independence.
And now she's four, no longer a toddler, but a real kid, running, riding her bike and her scooter. She tells stories and remembers things (for better or worse). I love how excited she gets when she writes a letter the right way for the first time and she runs around the house, stopping to tell each person, the thrill in her voice never wavering. I'm proud of who she is and I wonder who she will be become.
And I look forward to all the ages and stages that we'll still get to experience. Together.

Emma Craig blogs at P is for Preschooler and tries to keep up with an active 5 year old.  She believes in simple play and playful learning.  Her daughter often has other ideas!  You can find them on Facebook and Pinterest.

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