Friday, March 28, 2014

Spring Crafts

Want a beautiful spring craft idea? Try the Dragonfly Bead project from Spoonful Crafts. Directions are available from There are lots of other craft options there for all ages.

We've done this type of craft with both the more delicate beads and wire that are suggested in the directions and also with the larger sized pony beads with pipe cleaners for those smaller hands. Children should be old enough to manage beading projects. Great for small motor development and creative expression, beading is great for boys and girls. We've made Dragonflies, Butterflies, Caterpillars, Ladybugs, Bees and a host of other creative insect creatures. We’ve made some into pins or pendants, or in the case of a spider that the 8 year old boy created, a ring which he gave to his mother. She loved it!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Spring Scavenger Hunt

by Kelly Miller

Here is a fun game to play!  Get the children outside and let them work on their observation skills.  Each player gets one point for every sign of spring they find.  This game is meant to be played over a period of days.  To add interest have the children come up with a list of their own of "spring things" - enjoy!
-the sounds of spring: peepers, frogs and toads
-music from an open car window
-a woodpecker
-a bird signing
-a plant emerging from the ground
-a bud on a tree or bush
-a flower in bloom
-a mushroom
-sap oozing from a tree
-a dog or cat shedding
-a brightly colored bird
-a salamander
-a newborn animal
-a turtle sunning on a log
-a baby out in a stroller
-a screen where a window used to be
-laundry hanging out to dry
-bathing suits in a shop window
-someone in-line skating or skateboarding

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Springtime Any Time

I know that I'm not alone in looking for any sign that spring is coming! It's enough to make anyone despair - unless . . . you make a little spring yourself. Here are a few ideas to get that springy feeling even if the weather isn't cooperating.

Get Growing
In Minnesota we can't always wait for the weather to provide optimum growing conditions. Why not start something growing inside today?
Grass - grass seeds take root and grow quickly. You may have seen grass coming from an egg shell or potato like hair from your head. Those are whimsical, simple and fun to do. But you can also grow a larger patch of grass in a basket or deep dish. What's fun about the larger container is you can grow more than one variety of grass and see their progress. Once the grass was really established we'd get out our scissors and give the grass a trim. Each child had their own basket of grass. We took photos of our grass garden, propped small plastic items in our grass garden and later when the weather was warm our garden came outside to continue growing. You'll need grass seed - several varieties if you want to go that route - good potting soil, a container that can be lined, drainage of rocks and gravel. If you want to use a pot made for plants you don't need the drainage items.
Terrarium - these clear container gardens are wonderful for indoor enjoyment. A variety of plants do well in these containers including succulents. You'll need the container - glass or plastic, rocks and gravel for drainage, good quality soil and several plants. Don't overcrowd when planting as each plant needs room. Place in a window so it gets some good light each day and enjoy. We would occasionally put in a toy animal or character which made them look like they were in a jungle. It's interesting to watch not only plant growth but see the roots taking hold. Placing a lid or plastic cover over the container will do a variety of things including raising the temperature in the space and providing "rain" inside the terrarium. The lid or cover should be removed as plants grow larger and to allow for air flow to the plants.

Paperbag Kite
Using a lunch size bag is easiest for small children to manage but you can also scale this up to a grocery sized bag. Have the children decorate their bags with stickers, markers, crayons, etc. Punch holes in all four corners of the open side of the bag, tie a length of light weight string to each corner through the hole (you may want strengthen the corner of the bag before punching the hole by using a piece of tape on the inside and outside of the corner), gather all four lengths of string from the corners and tie together. As the child runs the bag fills with air and flies. You can tie the four corner strings to a another string so that the child can have it trail after them. Light weight streamers can be added - crepe paper or light ribbon works best. This kite flies well outdoors too!

Jumping for Joy
How about a bubble wrap hopscotch game? Doesn't that sound fun and exciting? We made bubble wrap spaces for hopscotch and then using gentle painter's tape secured them to the floor. They actually worked well on carpeted floors or over rugs as well. No matter the person's skill level at hopscotch everyone got a lot out of jumping on the bubble wrap. It's a sensory and physical release that satisfies the longing for the days spent out in the spring sun . . . at least for a little while. Great for rainy days or anytime!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Finishing the Hire

This article came to us from our friends at Breedlove and Associates, experts in nanny related tax information and more. Nannies from the Heartland provides all our clients with information about their role as an employer including tax information and we always include information on resources such as Breedlove and Associates with all our client families.

Finishing the Hire
Every year, thousands of families make the same household hiring mistake. After being consumed for weeks -- sometimes months -- with the tasks of finding the ideal nanny and vetting her, they fail to "finish" the hiring process by taking care of the financial and legal aspects of employment.

The main culprits are procrastination and misinformation. Many families think they can "just handle it next April" with their tax return. Others make plans to "take care of it in a few weeks, after we're sure she's going to work out" -- and then, of course, are very slow about getting around to it.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Full Disclosure: What Does This Mean?

We're reposting this article because it's as relevant as ever.

by Mary O'Connor

Full Disclosure: What does this mean? Why is it important?

I recently did a Google search on this term and found many definitions:
• The need in business transactions to tell the “whole truth” about any matter which the other party should know in deciding to buy or contract
• The requirement to disclose all relevant or material facts to a transaction
• The need in certain situations for both parties to tell the whole truth about all information relevant to the transaction
• The act of providing all material information about an article or property intended or proposed to be transferred, which may influence the decision making of the buyer.
While some of these definitions are geared to certain business transactions, the principle of full disclosure is