Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Rainbow Themed Playgroup Activity

Start your playgroup off by quizzing them on their colors. Gather some colored plastic cups, baskets or bags and have each child pick one. Go outside and have the kids find items that are the same color as their cup, basket or bag. Have them find as many same colored items as they can in 5 minutes. Set a timer and let them know when the time is up. Then let them come together as a group and compare the items they found. If you see a yellow item in a green cup, this is a teaching opportunity. Sort through the items and make sure they are put in their appropriate place. 

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For a craft you can use colored construction paper and glue stick to make rainbows. If the kids are old enough to use scissors, let them cut the paper themselves. If they are younger you may want to have some pre-cut pieces. Mimic them like the picture below.

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As a snack you could make rainbow pudding Popsicle. 

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Here's what you will need:

1-2 boxes of instant vanilla pudding
Food coloring
A couple of mixing bowls
A whisk
Plastic Cups
Popsicle Sticks

Click here for full directions

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Resource Spotlight: Baby Centers Baby Cost Calculator

As I was paying my bills, balancing my checkbook and planning my budget for the next month I started to think to myself "I'm way too expensive, how could I cost so much? I'm just one person". I then started to think about how my finances and bank account would look once I have a baby. "Two people, double the cost?" I'm a planner; I like to know what I'm getting myself into before I do something so I searched for average costs for baby care and items. I found the Baby Cost Calculator on the Baby Center website. It allows you to decided if you'll need daycare, how many diapers on average you'll go through, what supplies you'll need like strollers, bouncers and toys. After you select the items you plan to get the total calculates at the bottom of the screen. It's a pretty neat tool that's worth checking out. It's obviously an average but it should give you a good ball park on what you'll need to save for your baby. I went through the list and checked things as if I were going to have a baby. I noted that I wouldn't do daycare, I would breast feed and I checked all of the supplies that I would want for my baby. My estimate came to $7,138 for the first year of the babies life. If I choose to do daycare the price went up to $11,746. Check out this free resource and plan for your future. These costs do not include medical care. 


Monday, July 29, 2013

Attachment Between Baby and Parent

Attachment is the emotional connection children form with their parents or primary caregiver. This is different from bonding, a term we use often when referring to connecting with an infant. Bonding is the feelings of a parent or caregiver toward a child. Both of these are important but this post is focused on attachment.
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You want your baby to be attached to you, you want them to come to you for help, hugs and comfort. At the same time you want them to be comfortable with others such as babysitters, friends and family. You want them to be ok on their own and form independence as well. You want them to feel securely attached but not over-dependent on you. Building healthy secure attachments early on will have long-lasting positive effects on your child.

"A key concept in [the] attachment theory is that a child's dependence ultimately leads to independence. In other words, it's only when children feel they can count on their parents to be available, and when they consistently find the world to be a safe and approachable place, that they develop the confidence to fully explore and play on their own." -early moments matter

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How do you help your child develop secure healthy attachments?

The best thing to do is to respond to their cues. Cues are the body language and signals your baby/child uses to communicate. The response of the parent to a child's cues will determine whether the child develops insecure or secure attachments. Ignoring, rejecting or inconsistently reacting to them will have lasting damaging effects. Reacting sensitively, reassuringly and consistently will have positive outcomes. Even when a child doesn't understand the words you are using they can sense your tone. Reassure your child that you get what they are feeling. You understand that certain things are hard for young kids, you've been there before. Keep your tone in check to keep their attachment to you secure. 

Here are the long-term benefits of creating a secure attachment early on:

Your child will

  • Be more motivated to learn
  • Do better in school
  • Have more confidence and sense of self-worth
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  • Develop good problem-solving skills
  • Form healthier relationships
  • Become more self-reliant
  • Cope with stress and manage frustration well

Friday, July 26, 2013

Book Review: Twinkle, Twinkle Time for Bed + Brush, Brush, Brush!

This is a 2 in 1 book. One side can be read while your children brush their teeth and the other can be read once they are tucked in bed. This is a book that we give out during our Ready to Learn class. One of our class topics is "Rhymers are Readers" so we use this book to illustrate that point. See if your child can find which words rhyme as you read. 


At toothbrushing time, try singing Brush, Brush, Brush! out loud to the tune of "Do Your Ears Hang Low?" It's a fun way to help toddlers develop self-help skills. And remember, a pea-sized amount of toothpaste is just right for toddlers. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Playgroup Activity: Dancing!

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I like to think that the word child and energy are synonyms. I'm positive my nieces and nephews could out run, out jump and out play me any day of the week. To channel this energy why not have a dancing themed playgroup! Turn on some Disney tunes, the macarena or any other oldies dancing songs and teach the children in your playgroup some moves. Get them dancing and interacting together. 

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Although dancing is fun for children, there are other great benefits of too. These benefits are applied to dancing just for fun but also can be applied when you enroll a child in dance classes. There are social, educational, physical health and self-esteem benefits. Self esteem is increased as a child learns to move their body. They get more comfortable in their own skin and build confidence in accomplishing new moves. Social skills are increased with dancing because dance classes are full of children of all ages. They get to interact with others and learn to dance as a group. The physical benefits are pretty obvious but dancing is a fun way to get your kids moving. The educational benefits are learned skills like memorization, technique, focus, determination, and self discipline. Students who regularly participate in dance lessons typically tend to perform better academically than their nonparticipating peers as well.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Resource Spotlight: Community Health Connect

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According to the last census bureau, 14% of Utahns are uninsured and in Utah County alone 12% of the residents are uninsured11.8% of families with children in Utah County are also in poverty.  Many, if not all of them according to the percentages above, are without health insurance. With the emerging changes in our health care system and the economic crisis it may be hard for these families to get adequate and affordable dental and medical care. Community Health Connect realizes this need in our community and is doing something about it. The non-profit organization has physicians, nurses and other skilled professionals who donate their services and time to help those in need of medical and dental services. 

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"[Their] mission is to improve access to quality health and dental care for low-income uninsured men, women, and children in Utah County. [They] accomplish this goal through the coordination of a Volunteer Provider Network, providing health education and maximizing existing community resources."

If you are interested or you know someone who could use this resource click here to find out how to apply. 

Websites cited: 

Monday, July 22, 2013


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Last week we had our Aspire Parent group discussion where we talked about discipline.                                                                      

We had 20 parents come with their children to discuss this topic. The questions asked were: "What do you do when you have two different parenting styles between you and your spouse/caregiver? What suggestions do you have for other parents regarding discipline?"  I'll list what our parents discussed and then provide some research on discipline from Dr. Brazelton. 

Tips/Ideas from our parents:

  • Find common ground between each other first. 
  • Recognize that you both want to do whats best for the child, you have their best interest. 
  • Communicate with spouse/caregiver often.
  • Establish rules ahead of time. Determine the consequences for specific actions and let your children know what those consequences are. 
  • Keep the rules simple.
  • Make sure to establish rules at different places, i.e. grandparents homes, school, friends homes and your home. 
  • Redirect younger children (those who have't reached a disciplinary age) to other good activities when they act out. 
  • One parent has twins, when her daughters are fighting over the same toy she puts the toy on time out. She removes the fighting agent from the equation. 
  • Overall, be consistent. Children need consistency in order to follow rules. They need to know you are serious. 

Discipline means "Teaching"

Positive discipline guidelines from Dr. Brazelton:

  • Fit the discipline to the child's state of development. For infants and toddlers, try first to divert her to another activity, you may need to remove her bodily. For a child over two years, discipline should always include explanation. Try to figure out what triggered the child's aggressive behavior and give them a chance to understand themselves. 
  • When your child is with other children, try not to hover. See if they can learn from eachother. When you add yourself to the equation the situation changes from a simple one to a complicated one where half of your childs behavior is aimed at you. 
  • Model behaviors for your child. They will watch and learn. 
  • After the discipline is over, help them explain what its all about. 
  • Use a time-out, but only for a brief period. 
  • Pick the child up to love them afterward. This is hard to do, but critical. Hug them and rock them, let them know you love them and that you understand that it's hard to learn self-control. Say, "I love you, but I can't let you behave this way. When you learn to stop yourself, I won't have to anymore."


Friday, July 19, 2013

Book Review: The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss

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If you haven't read The Foot Book yet, now is the time! Dr. Seuss is one of the most classic and beloved authors of our time and this book is one of my favorites written by him. Check it out at your local library or purchase it an amazon.com

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This book is a great helper to start teaching your child their rights and lefts. After reading this book have your child trace out several left and right feet on card stalk paper using their own shoes. Cut them out and then label them left and right. You can laminate them if you want them to last longer too. Use masking tape to stick them to the floor. Start by arranging them in a simple left right left right pattern. Have your child hop and jump to each of the foot prints using the appropriate foot. Have them say left on the left foot and right on the right. Once they have the simple pattern down try mixing it up. 

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Place 2 lefts in a row, a right and then 2 lefts. Next try switching the left foot to the right side and vice verse. See if they can still remember which foot is which. Hopefully this will motivate them to learn their lefts and rights. Have fun with it!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Playgroup Activity!

Welcome Baby helps to start new playgroups in our community. Currently we have playgroups in Orem, Pleasant Grove, and Provo. Our Provo playgroup leader is Cindy Primrose and she has done an awesome job! This past month she did an ocean themed playgroup and here's how it turned out. Feel free to recreate her ideas in one of your own playgroups. 

"Today we had an ocean theme playgroup. When the children arrived they could choose the playdough table or the water table. At the playdough table I placed shells and mermaid tears (glass beads, you can find these at the dollar store) and blue playdough ( the ocean) The children pressed the shells and mermaid tears in the dough, making interesting imprints. They also enjoyed covering the shells and mermaid tears with the "ocean" and digging them out. (This idea came from the blog Raise Up A Child)


At the water table, I placed two bins filled with water. I added a few drops of food coloring to make the water blue. I put in some sea animals and some plastic coral. The children had fun splashing and letting the animals swim around. This was also a great way to introduce vocabulary.

For story time we read the book Ten Little Fish. By Audrey Wood. It is a counting book with wonderful illustrations of ocean life.

Our craft for the day was making fish. I cut fish out of white construction paper. We used  sequins, colored macaroni (put macaroni in baggies. Put several drops of food coloring on macaroni. Close bag and squish the macaroni around to distribute color. Spread macaroni on cookie sheet to let dry.) small pieces of tin foil, wiggly eyes, crayons, markers and glue, to decorate the fish. Each fish was colorful and unique. This was an easy project that worked with different age levels.

For snack we served goldfish crackers and blue punch.  Finger play idea:All the fish are swimming in the water, swimming in the water, swimming in the water.All the fish are swimming in the water. Bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble, POP!(hands swim like a fish. Make your fingers in the shape circles for the bubbles and float upward. Clap on the pop!)" -Cindy

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Activity: Pool Noodle Marble Track

Here's a cheap, easy and fun activity for your kids. Cut a pool noodle in half and then glue two sides of the cut noodles together keeping the inside of the noodles up. Decorate it however you please. Then prop it up on your stairs, using a chair or gluing it to a wooden box like the picture below. Use a clear organizing container as the marble catcher at the end. For summer time it's fun to fill it with water and you could even use food coloring to make the water a different color. Now your marble track is ready for racing! 

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Helping Children Understand Loss and Grief

"No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new." - Steve Jobs

Death is a part of life; its a reality that everyone has to face. Although loosing a loved one is a natural part of life, the flood of emotions and instability that accompany a person after a loss can run deep, even if a loss is expected. For children this is a hard concept to grasp. They will most likely feel fear  and sadness about loosing someone but its hard for them to connect all of the dots associated with such a traumatic event. They may not be able to wrap their minds around the true meaning of death. If a loved one that has passed was close to your child, they were probably close to you as well which means while your child is grieving so are you. You may feel that its hard to talk about loss and grief with your child because of your own instability or fear that your child will not understand. You may avoid talking about it or you may feel like distancing yourself from the situation. These are natural tendencies but the best way to help you and your child understand grief and loss is by being open about death, expressing your feelings and keeping your child close. 

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Dr. Brazelton in his book Touchpoints says, "Children know all to well when a parent is depressed or is in a crisis. Attempts to hide the event or the feelings it engenders amount to a desertion for the child...it is better for a child to learn about a death from her own grieving parents than it is to experience a parent's withdrawal without having been given a reason for it...If parents withdraw without sharing the experience they are having, it is confirmation of the child's worst fears: Grandma has died. Now mother is so sad that maybe she will die too." 

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Depending on the child's age, the level of understanding will differ. It's important to tailor explanations about loss and grief to your child's age but realize there will be concepts that are difficult to understand regardless of the childs age. Dr. Brazeton suggests these responses to some of the questions children might ask:

"Grandpa was getting so old that he wasn't able to do all the things he wanted to do. When you get old, you get pretty tired. Now he can rest."

"None of us know why someone we love has to die and go away. The body just gives out. We all feel terribly sad and lonely. We hate to give them up but what I plan to do is remember all I can about them. I'd like to talk about all the things we can remember about them, so we can keemp them with us that way. Can you remember somethings about them to tell me now?"

Friday, July 12, 2013

Book Review: Baa! Moo! What Will We Do?

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This book was written by A. H Benjamin and illustrated by Jane Chapman. Its a clever book that explains the role of each farm animal on the buttercup farm. The animals in this book start to get anxious when they hear that a kangaroo is joining their farm. They have no idea what a kangaroo does! The cow worries that the kangaroo will make creamier milk than her and the dog worries that the kangaroo will herd the sheep better than him. What will they do if the farmer likes the kangaroo better? Will the kangaroo be their friend? 

After reading this book have your child make their own kangaroo. Complete with a pouch! Print a coloring page, color the 3 different pieces and then cut them out. Attach the pouch onto the large kangaroo with some elmers glue. Only put glue on the bottom, left and right sides so the small kangaroo can fit in the pouch. Have fun!

Printable Kangaroo

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Resource Spotlight: Kids Choice Consignment

"Kids Choice Consignment is a semi-annual consignment event selling "like-new and gently-used" children's clothing, shoes, books, toys, baby equipment, furniture, and more. [They] have everything you need for your children at great prices. [They] bring shoppers and consignors together in one location two times a year." The next event is August 9th and 10th in Pleasant Grove, Utah. 

Sign up by July 31st, 2013 to be a consignor or just show up to be a shopper! This is a great way for you to get rid of the things you no longer need and grab a few cheap items that you do need. 

The Old Pleasant Grove Recreation Bldg
65 East 200 South
Pleasant Grove, Utah 

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Picky Eaters
Vitamins and minerals are crucial to the development of a body. Although there is high importance in obtaining vitamins and minerals, the actual amount of each vitamin and mineral needed is relatively small. Because of this we can usually get the adequate amount from a regular diet. This is easier for middle aged children, some teens and adults (since we know the importance of it and like a larger variety of foods) but sometimes this can be difficult for young children. Why? Babies naturally develop sweet taste buds in the womb and this continues after birth. Their pallet is influenced by what mom eats since those aromas and flavors are passed on during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. It's important to introduce a variety of foods during pregnancy, breastfeeding and early on in a child's life to help your child become an open-minded eater. It's also important to introduce new foods several times. Don't give up after just a few tries. 

But what if your child isn't an open-minded eater? 

Because of this pull towards sweets, children may shy away from bitter foods and some may become very picky eaters. They may also go through phases where they only eat a certain food or food group. For example, my niece was a very picky eater around the age of 18 months. She went through a phase where she ate Easy Mac every day. Its all she wanted and its really all she did eat. My sister worried that she wasn't getting the adequate nutrition she needed. I think many parents worry about this same thing. Many kids go through a phase like this but when it comes down to it the phase won't last long and there really won't be any long term negative affects. A child knows when they are hungry, they won't starve themselves and they want to be in control of their diet. Giving them a choice between 2 healthy options is a good way to engage your child in eating instead of asking them what they want. The options there are endless and they will always choose something sweeter or unhealthy. Despite all of the tips and tricks to ensure good nutrition some parents may still feel concern for their child's long term nutrition. If that's the case its important to talk to your pediatrician. They may recommend giving your child a supplement to ensure his or her development. There are chew-able vitamins available and other drink supplements that your kids will like that can give them adequate nutrients and give you peace of mind. 

Click here for info on vitamins and supplements for kids

Here are some facts about vitamins and which foods you can find them in. 

Vitamin A promotes normal growth, healthy skin, and tissue repair, and aids in night and color vision. Rich sources include yellow vegetables, and dairy products.
The B vitamins promote red blood cell formation and assist in a variety of metabolic activities. They are found in meat, poultry, fish, soybeans, milk, eggs, whole grains, and enriched breads and cereals.
Vitamin C strengthens connective tissue, muscles, and skin, hastens the healing of wounds and bones, and increases resistance to infection. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, spinach, and broccoli.
Vitamin D promotes tooth and bone formation and regulates the absorp­tion of minerals like calcium. Sources include fortified dairy products, fish oils, fortified margarine, and egg yolks. Sunlight also contributes to dietary sources of vitamin D, stimulating the conversion of a naturally occurring compound in the skin to an active form of the vitamin.

The What to Expect website has a great article called "Toddler Eating Habits: A Few Golden Rules" This is a great resource to encourage healthy eating habits in your children. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Book Review: The Way I Feel by Janan Cain

This weeks book review corresponds to a post from last week on emotions.Understanding and expressing emotions as a little child is a learned skill. Children have a hard time expressing multiple emotions or going from one emotion to next in a short amount of time. This book is a great visual to help children understand their feelings and emotions. The use of colors and lines helps children understand what different feelings look like and how they can be expressed. Just looking at the artwork sparked a bit of each emotion in me. 

Click here to purchase this book on Amazon

Here is an activity to do after you read this book. It's not just a one time activity either. 

Use art to help your children express their emotions. Have your children use colors and lines to show what emotions they are feeling. Talk about the difference between jagged lines and wavy lines. What emotions might those lines represent? Discuss what light and dark colors might represent. Later if your child is misbehaving or struggling to identify their emotions, let them try drawing or pointing to how they feel

silly line

sad line

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

4th of JULY Craft, Snack and Decoration!

Happy 4th of July! Here's some fun things to do in a playgroup or just with your own kids to make the 4th a special fun day. Start the morning off by painting 
 white stars on the grass in your front yard. Use a poster board or a large piece of cardboard as a stencil. Use white spray paint to fill in the star shape. The paint will eventually wash off or be cut off next time you mow the lawn. 


Then go inside to cool off and make some fruit kabobs with blueberries, strawberries or raspberries and bananas as a snack. 

Finish off the morning or afternoon with some some patriotic wands. Tie ribbons to the top of a chop stick or skewer stick. These will be fun toys to use while watching fireworks. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Generous Book Donation from KPMG

KPMG is a tax, audit and advisory firm that has "a larger sense of purpose. Just as [they] serve the public trust, [they] also understand  the critical role of helping solve some of the worlds toughest, most complex problems" like literacy. They are a supporter of financial literacy but literacy in general and live up to their slogan, "cutting through the complexity." KPMG's Family for Literacy program has partnered with First Book (a non-profit book supplier that gives children in need access to new books) and have generously donated 50 books to our Welcome Baby program. 

KPMG Employees

These book will be given to the children in our community through Ready to Learn classes and other programs offered by Welcome Baby United Way of Utah County. The book donated is called Little Critter: Just Saving my Money by Mercer Mayer. We are amazed by the generosity of our community and specifically KPMG. Many children in our community will benefit from the books donated. 

Book Donated
Each of these books has this message from KPMG's Family Literacy Program:

Dear Reader,

At KPMG, we believe that reading and financial literacy are two import building blocks to success. We hope this book helps you develop both of these skills, which you will continue to use throughout your life. 

KPMG's Family for Literacy teams with First Book to put books in the hands of children across the country. Through our work together, we are pleased to bring you Little Critter: Just Saving My Money

With Our Best Wishes,
KPMG's Family for Literacy

If you would like to donate to our program or would like to know more, email us at baby1@unitedwayuc.org

Monday, July 1, 2013

Language Development

I was 13 years old when my first nephew was born. He was the tiniest thing I had ever seen and not just because he was a new baby but because he was born two months early. He weighed about 4 lbs 10 oz and had the cutest little chicken legs. He is 11 years old now and I spent some time with him over the weekend. Today I was thinking about the first word and sentence I heard him say. I remember it took him a little longer to start talking because he was premature but once he started he was on a roll. The first word I heard him say, in a very deep voice I might add, was "Apple". Nearly the first thing my sister heard out of his mouth was "Chocolate Chip", in a very clear and well pronounced manner. It was so fun to see him start communicating and now he amazes me with his math solving, basketball playing, soccer loving and arm wrestling skills. 

Each child develops language skills at different rates. Some are faster and some are slower because of premature birth or other factors. There are some general guidelines to follow during the first year of a child's life to help you know how your child's language skills are coming along. These are provided by the mayo clinic. 

By the end of 3 months

By the end of three months, your child might:
  • Smile when you appear
  • Startle upon hearing loud sounds
  • Make "cooing" sounds
  • Quiet or smile when spoken to
  • Seem to recognize your voice
  • Cry differently for different needs

By the end of 6 months
Language Skills

By the end of six months, your child might:
  • Make gurgling sounds when playing with you or left alone
  • Babble and make a variety of sounds
  • Use his or her voice to express pleasure and displeasure
  • Move his or her eyes in the direction of sounds
  • Respond to changes in the tone of your voice
  • Notice that some toys make sounds
  • Pay attention to music

By the end of 12 months

By the end of 12 months, your child might:

  • Try imitating words
  • Say a few words, such as "dada", "mama" and "uh-oh"
  • Understand simple instructions, such as "come here"
  • Recognize words for common items, such as shoe
  • Turn and look in the direction of sound
  • Respond to "no"