Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pinecone Turkeys

From Family Fun . . .

This is one turkey that won't get eaten this Thanksgiving. Your kids can make a flock to decorate the dinner table -- or for all the kid guests to take home as favors.

Yellow and red felt
Tacky glue
Googly eyes
Brown pom-poms
Pipe cleaners

1.For each turkey, cut out a yellow beak and a red wattle from felt. Then glue the beak, wattle, and a pair of googly eyes onto a pom-pom to create the turkey's head.
2.Glue the pom-pom head to the tip of a pinecone. Allow the glue to dry.
3.Wrap a pipe cleaner around the middle of the turkey's cone body, starting from the top and twisting it together a few times on the underside. Separate the ends of the pipe cleaner (below the twists) and bend each tip into a 3-toed foot.
4.For the turkey's tail, individually wrap 3 or 4 pipe cleaners around the back of the pinecone, starting from the underside and twisting them together a few times on the top of the pinecone to secure them. Then loop both ends of each pipe cleaner to shape tail feathers.

For video instructions visit

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Autumn Cornstalk Craft

From Family Fun . . .

Add a festive touch to your holiday table by filling a vase with colorful paper cornstalks.

Natural-colored raffia paper
Yellow poster board
Colored tissue paper

1.To make each stalk, cut three 18-inch lengths of natural-colored paper twist (sometimes called raffia paper). Untwist them, then trim the edges to resemble corn husks.
2. Fan out the husks so that they overlap and use a few drops of glue to hold them together.
3.From yellow poster board, cut out an ear of corn (about 10 inches long and 3 inches wide) and glue it atop the husks.
4.Now crumple a bunch of 3-inch colored tissue paper squares to create rounded kernels and glue them to the ear. Lastly, gather the husk bottoms and tie them together with a strip of raffia.

For more from Family Fun visit

Friday, November 7, 2014

15 Ways to Thank Your Nanny

By Nannies from the Heartland staff

As we approach Thanksgiving and the December holidays, families often ask us how they can thank their amazing nannies. Here are some ideas from the Nannies from the Heartland staff!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Helping Tweens Transition

4 Ways to Manage Your Pre-Tween's Unpredictable Behavior

Mature one minute, having a meltdown the next. Welcome to the erratic behavior of a pre-tween. Experts demystify this new phase.

child brushing hair
Within just half an hour, my son, Jack, 8, pours his little sister some milk, begs me to let him walk to the bus stop by himself, fights with his younger brother over an Iron Man toy, and then zones out, almost missing the bus. Jack's behavior swings from that of pre-tween to preschooler. What gives?

"At 7 and 8, a child's brain is in the midst of huge shifts," explains Caron Farrell, M.D., Ph.D., a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Seton Mind Institute, in Austin. "It's almost as if children this age see how older kids and adults act, and want to behave that way—but after a certain amount of time their brain says, 'I'm done!' " Plus, while they have the physical power to handle all sorts of tasks, their mental abilities and concentration still lag. We'll help you and your kid through this frustrating time.

Increase Responsibility
New chores will help bolster his concentration skills and give him the confidence he needs to move into the tween years, says Russell Reiff, M.D., a developmental pediatrician at Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco. Brainstorm responsibilities that you both think he might be able to handle, such as packing his lunch, folding his laundry, or cleaning his room. Praise his effort—not the end result. "A 7-year-old isn't going to put away his clean clothes as neatly as you would, at least at first, but the point isn't perfection, it's skill-building," says Dr. Reiff.

If your child suggests a task that isn't safe for kids his age—like making pancakes on the stove or walking to the park on his own—don't dismiss his idea with "you're not old enough yet." Instead, tell him why the task is unsafe and when the two of you could discuss it again.

Rethink Routines
You might think that your child is too old for routines and that she should be able to handle bedtime or getting ready for school without constant reminders from you. But she needs structure now even more than ever. That's because her "executive function" skills—the ability to organize and break down the steps of a task—are still maturing. They're only slightly more advanced than they were at age 5 or 6, although her responsibilities have grown far more complex than they were in kindergarten, says Dr. Farrell.

For instance, Lauren Spataro, of Darien, Connecticut, had to keep tabs on her 8-year-old daughter, Gracie, for several weeks before she got the hang of her new after-school routine. "In the beginning of the school year, I'd talk her through opening her backpack, taking out her lunch box and throwing away trash, putting the reusable containers in the sink, and getting her homework out of her binder," she says. "Now she knows the drill, but I was surprised by how long it took to get there." One strategy to help a child commit a routine to memory: Have her write down each step—and post the list in her bedroom or on the fridge.

Encourage Empathy
Up until this point, kids have still been pretty egocentric. Suddenly, they develop a greater ability to put themselves in other people's shoes. "This marks a huge leap in their moral development," says Dr. Farrell. "No longer do they obey rules just because they don't want to be punished. Now they obey rules because they don't want to hurt other people's feelings or—more important—they want other people's approval, especially that of their teachers."

To promote this behavior, Dr. Farrell suggests praising your child when he does something kindhearted, whether it's pushing his little sister on the swings at the park or holding the door open for another family at the mall. It's also a good time to help a charity. For instance, you could ask him to choose between collecting clothing donations for a homeless shelter or selling hot chocolate at a yard sale to raise money as a family for the local children's hospital.

Play Together
In public, your 8-year-old may not even want you to stand next to her, but don't assume she feels the same way at home. In fact, kids this age still enjoy spending time with their parents, says Dr. Reiff. Change your family activities so they seem more "grown-up" to your child. For instance, swap Chutes and Ladders for Uno, or instead of reading a single story at bedtime, tackle a chapter of a book like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which your child might not be up to reading on her own.

Originally published in the November 2012 issue of Parents magazine.