Monday, April 30, 2012

Out of the Box Outings

Here are a few outings that are out of the box but great fun for all ages. If you are looking for something a little different, check out these local spots.  

Twin City Model Railroad Museum: 1021 Bandana Blvd, Suite 222, St. Paul, This model railroad museum features historical reporducations and takes you on a visually energizing "tour" through the Twin Cities of the past. The museum volunteers have a great deal of information to share. There are some hands-on train tables for those who want to engage with trains directly.
Jackson Street Roundhouse: 193 Pennsylvania Avenue East, St. Paul, The Great Northen Railway's historic Jackson Street Roundhouse, a former steam engine maintenance facility, provides a unique opportunity for people of all ages to experience railroading. Travel through history with indepth exhibits featuring local and regional railway history. Experience a genuine operating roundhouse turntable, one of the last of its kind in the country. They have Tots and Trains Wednesdays for a morning of fun!

The Bakken Museum: 3537 Zenith Avenue S., Minneapolis, This is a one of a kind museum exploring the mysteries of our electrical world. The Bakken Museum inspires a passion for science and its potential for social good by helping people explore the history and nature of electricity and magnetism. The displays and exhibits are hands on, engaging and interactive.

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts: 2400 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts enriches the community by collecting, preserving, and making accessible outstanding works of art from the world's diverse cultures. You'll see a variety of displays including sculptures, painting, furniture and dimensional art. I've taken all ages to enjoy the art here. Since admission is free you can return often.

Midtown Global Market: Lake Street and 10th Avenue, Minneapolis, Wee Wednesdays, 10 AM to 1 PM, provide special activities and hands on features geared for 5 years and under. This is a place with music, food and cultural experiences for all ages. The colorful marketplace is great option on a day when the weather isn't so cooperative for an outdoor option.

Mercado Central: 1515 East Lake Street, Minneapolis, The Mercado Central is a member-owned cooperative of 48 Latino businesses whose mission is to recreate an authentic Latin American marketplace. Their website will give you dates of special events and celebrations you'll want to experience. There are shops, lots of restaurants and a festive atmosphere.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Let's go for a walk!

Children_walking : Family outdoors walking on path holding hands and smiling (selective focus)by Kelly Miller

One of my families favorite activities to do together is go on walks and hikes.  Our children's ages are 2, 6 and 9 years old, and exploring the outdoors together is a fun, inclusive activity for everyone.  Recently a friend of mine stated that her children refuse to go on walks, so I have prepared some tips for her that I thought others would enjoy reading.

Have a theme.  One of my daughter's favorite activities is to go on "family night-time walks."  We have been doing this for 9 years now.  Our "family night-time walks" involve the children all getting in their pajamas to walk through our neighborhood when it is dusk.  Keeping safety in mind, we are home by dark.

Choose a location.  We have various interesting routes we take when in our neighborhood.  After living in our home for 6 years, we discovered a small, woodsy trail with a pond and wooden bridge that are less than a mile from our home.  At other times we venture out to a new neighborhood -- sometimes well-known trails, other times just a neighborhood that looks interesting.

Make it fun.  It is great to pack along a snack for a break, as well as a frisbee or ball to break up the walk.  If your walk is through the city, it is fun to stop at an ice-cream or coffee shop.  When walking in the wilderness, I almost always bring sandwiches and fruit.  In fact, one trail we have taken so often that a particular clearing next to the Mississippi River is called "the Miller spot" -- and I know I'd better have food along if we are going there!

Collect items for crafts.  Sticks, rocks, sand, gravel and pinecones are all fun to collect.  When the children arrive home, let them be creative.  My children love to paint rocks and make pine cone bird feeders.  Even gravel can be used to make a mosaic picture on heavy cardboard.  Press rocks into clay (2 c. flour and 1/2 c. salt water makes a good base). 

Practice counting.  How many of a certain animal (dogs, birds, deer, squirrels) can you spot?  Or a certain flower or tree? 

Keep a comfortable pace.  Put the slowest hiker (usually the youngest child) in front.  Have the others keep pace behind him. 

Bring necessities.  Hats, sunscreen, glasses or insect repellant may be necessary.  Bring plenty of water; 34 oz is suggested for an adult. 

Children_walking : Father and daughter holding hands while walking in the parkProper dress.  Layers are best.  Appropriate footwear is a must.

I hope these tips help your family enjoy being outside!  Our daughter has enjoyed these activities since she was an infant.  Last year we adopted our sons, and our oldest son had not been exposed to long hikes.  He was less than enthusiastic about the idea of long walks, due to his obesity and asthma.  Now, a year later, he is at a healthy weight, has almost no asthma symptoms, and can walk with our family for hours at a time.  While we occasionally go on short 30-minute walks, the majority of our walks are 1-2 hours in length.  Our 2-year-old has decided he would rather run than walk .... and he keeps running!  Of course, we have a stroller along or carry him as needed.  I would love to hear your comments about enjoying hikes and walks with your children.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Week of the Young Child

The Week of the Young Child™ is an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The purpose of the Week of the Young Child™ is to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs. The 2012 Week of the Young Child™ is April 22–28 and the theme is Early Years Are Learning Years®.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Employment - Eligibility to Work in the U.S.

From our friends at Breedlove and Associates
All employers -- including household employers -- are responsible for verifying the eligibility of their employee to work in the U.S. When doing so, there is often confusion between an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) and a Social Security Number (SSN).
In this issue of The Legal Review, we share a case that demonstrates the differences between ITINs and SSNs and the potential issues that can arise if families don't address it properly.

The Situation

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Earth Day 2012

Earth Day - April 22, 2012
Go Green and learn more about the Earth Day movement. Here are several links to sites with general information and ideas to get started on your Green adventure. Plus some that have crafts and activities that are child and earth friendly.
Celebrate Earth Day Everyday!

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Journey to Autonomy

The journey to autonomy is the work of childhood. Every parent (and nanny) of a young toddler will attest that autonomy is the most important activity throughout the day. Autonomy at its core is independence. The journey is often full of struggles, challenges, frustration as well as accomplishments, satisfaction and triumphs. The tricky thing is – we want them to get there but we don’t always know how to help them or are ready for the challenges involved. Sometimes we are the ones who aren’t ready for the child to move forward, which can cause more friction. How can we let go appropriately, encourage liberally and set parameters that are fair?

First, being aware that the job of every child is to grow and develop into an independent individual is essential. The job of every parent and caregiver is to help them get there, to guide and facilitate their progress. Providing children with opportunities to successfully practice independence should be a done on a daily basis.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Exploring . . .

Many blogs are featuring Wordless Wednesdays.
A photo is posted for your consideration.
We thought we'd try a Wordless Wednesday from time to time.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Cooking with Children: Tips for Success

As a child I loved to help my parents when they were preparing a meal or baking. There’s something so tactile and exciting about getting the ingredients ready and knowing that something tasty would reward us at the end of our labors. As we were having fun cooking we were also learning math, science, nutrition and more importantly building memories. So it was natural that as soon as I began working with children I also included at least one cooking project on a weekly basis. Here are some things to consider when cooking with children.