international-flags

Around the World with CMOO

December…what a rush of activity! Between holiday concerts, parties, elf on the shelf (don’t get me started on that one!), shopping, wrapping, and basically having to peel your children off the ceiling because they’re so excited for Santa to come, it can be an exhausting and stressful month. But what do you do when Christmas is over and there is still a lot of vacation left for your kids?

In my case, I always expect that all the cool new stuff they got for Christmas will keep them entertained that whole time, but no. It doesn’t last. Two days after Christmas they are going stir crazy and start fighting with each other.

If you’re looking for something fun to do that’s out of the house, I highly suggest you check out the program that CMOO is offering up this year. They will be set up in the old King Arthur’s building on West First Street.

This year they are taking a tour around the world and will have unique cultural activities and learning sessions throughout the week. My older daughter is very interested in geography and culture and this program will really excite her and pique her curiosity. Along with all the cultural programs, they will have all their exhibits set up for children to play with.

My girls had a blast last year and I am looking forward to breaking up the monotony of being in the house. Cabin fever sets in so fast in the winter! It’ll be great for them to be in the company of other kids and have something fun and enriching to do.

The program runs from December 26th through January 4th. The cost is $5 per person, and that includes adults. You can also purchase a discounted multi-day pass. I hope you take at least one day to come check out what CMOO has to offer. Your kids will love it!

10700507_10100620676745905_3337318664607711388_o

Welcome Fall!

It has been a busy summer! Both for my family and for CMOO. This summer, as I’m sure you’ve probably had the pleasure to experience, CMOO put together the engaging Power of Produce program, also known as POP! I wasn’t able to make it to as many of the weeks as I would have liked, but the ones that my kids did attend were a hit. The objective of the program is to get kids excited about eating fresh fruits and vegetables that are locally grown. By participating in an activity, each child would earn $2 worth of tokens to be used at a farm stand that accepts them. What a great idea! I’m sure we could all use a little help guiding our children in making healthier food choices. If you haven’t had the chance yet there is still one or two weeks left to take advantage. I highly suggest you check it out.

But now Fall is finally here! And with it brings new and fresh activities. There are so many experiences and activities that you can do with your kids in the fall. Some of my favorites are apple picking, picking out pumpkins, going on a leaf hunt for all sorts of beautiful leaves that you can either jump in or do artwork with. Decorating for Halloween or Thanksgiving is fun and baking delicious pumpkin and apple treats are a great way for your kids to bond with you as well as learning about math and science.

Check out some of these ideas to get you started and go wherever the idea takes you! Fall is a great time to get outside and breathe in some fresh fall air and just enjoy being together.

http://www.growingajeweledrose.com/2013/09/pumpkin-slime-play-recipe.html

http://www.growingajeweledrose.com/2012/09/erupting-pumpkins-experiment-for-kids.html

http://fun-a-day.com/art-activity-preschool-farm-theme/

http://www.wholeliving.com/185440/apple-chips

http://charlottesfancy.com/tag/leaf-crafts/

harvest_basket

Power of Produce

(Photo Credit: Mother Earth News)

 

Summer is finally here and I am so excited for some fresh, healthy, local options to eat. My family has decided to plant a little garden in the backyard this year. We are not known to have the greenest of thumbs around here, so we are cautiously optimistic that we can grow something. We planted corn, beans and watermelon. We have some sprouts coming up and that good rain last night was definitely helpful.

 

For those of you who aren’t planting your own garden but still crave some fresh and delicious produce, look no further than our local farmer’s market. CMOO has a wonderful new program this year called POP! which stands for Power of Produce. They will be at the farmer’s market every other week and they will have some kind of activity for your children to complete. When they do the activity, they will be given tokens which they can use to purchase fresh, healthy produce from some of the other farmer’s market vendors. They can either use the tokens as they earn them, or they can save them up so they can get a lot of produce at once. How great is that?!

 

What an excellent way to get kids excited about eating healthy and making their own choices of what kind of produce they want to purchase. It gives them a little control over their own lives and hopefully it will give them a lifelong love of eating healthy, eating local, and supporting the farms in their community. I can’t wait to bring my girls to do these activities. They will have such a ball doing the fun activities and getting to choose what they want to buy with their tokens. Hope to see you all there!

Do what you can!

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 2.39.51 PM

Happy Earth Day! This is one of my favorite holidays because instead of a holiday focused on gifts, candy and consumerism, this is a holiday that offers the opportunity to do something good. To teach our children about how to be better stewards of the environment. How to care about something other than themselves. If the planet is not healthy, we will not be healthy either. There has never been a more important time to get children excited about green living. Climate change is a huge threat to the safety and health of our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. What we do today matters. Every little bit helps. Here are some of the ways that my family and I are trying to be more green:

1. Planting trees. We have planted about ten trees in our backyard since we have moved into our house and we have plans to plant more. We are lucky enough to have a big backyard in which to be able to do this, but even if you have a small patch of grass, you can do something like have a hanging tomato plant, some flowers, or herbs growing. They will invite bees and butterflies and remove harmful carbon dioxide and turn it into more oxygen for us to breathe.

2. Using reusable grocery bags.  In 2007, my New Year’s resolution was to be more green and one of the very first things I did was go out and buy a bunch of reusable grocery bags. I’m a little embarrassed to say that I am still using the majority of the bags that I purchased 7 years ago. I’m starting to replace them now because they are starting to fall apart, but I have use them religiously for 7 years. I’ve forgotten to bring them to the store maybe only a handful of times. Think of how many plastic bags I have saved from polluting the environment! My next step is to try to remember to bring one when I go to other kinds of stores so I can cut out my consumption of plastic bags almost entirely.

3. We only have one car. This may seem like an unpopular choice, but for our family it works. We went down to one car about 4 years ago and we have not regretted it at all. It has saved us a lot of money in gas, inspections, registration, repairs and insurance. My husband turned in his lease and bought a bike with what would’ve been his car payment. So he bikes to work and I keep the car to drive the kids around and get groceries. We rarely drive when we don’t have to and we have only put 24,000 miles on it in almost 4 years. Having only one car on the road doesn’t work for everyone as people live busy lives and have many different places to be, but we have cut down on carbon emissions by a lot by only having the one car.

4. Packing lunches using reusable containers. I had some nice velcro-sealed sandwich and snack bags made from a local woman and I use those when I pack my daughter’s lunch in the morning. I have instructed her not to throw them away, and if they are being cleaned and I use a plastic bag, she brings those home too so I can wash and reuse them. She also brings a hello kitty lunch box instead of a brown paper bag which she will have to throw away. I normally pack her water in a reusable bottle instead of a juice box that she will have to throw away when she is done.

5. We find new purposes for our stuff.  The other day we decided that we were going to start giving my older daughter some money to do some chores around the house and we were talking about needing to find something to put her money in. She suggested that we use the tissue box that was just recently emptied. She plans on decorating it and making it her own special place to keep her money. It’s very cost effective, innovative, and environmentally friendly. On the same note, we try to give all our unwanted things a new home by selling them, donating them, or passing them on to a friend who might enjoy them instead of tossing things into the trash.

6. We don’t litter. We have taught our daughters from a very young age that we do not litter.  If they have something to throw away and there is not a garbage can nearby, we hold onto it until we find one. One day on a walk around the block, my daughter just started picking up all the litter she saw until she came home to throw it away or put it in the recycling bin. I’m very glad that my daughter already has the sensibility at 5 to want to clean up her neighborhood.

On that note, there is going to be a park cleanup on Sunday, April 27th at noon at Brietbeck park. There will be gloves and bags available and all are welcome to bring a picnic lunch and play on the playground afterwards. You can sign up at CMOO.org or on their Facebook page. Come help keep our park looking wonderful for all to enjoy! I’m sure the squirrels and birds will thank you too.🙂

There are so many ways to help keep our earth healthy. Some are difficult and unattainable for a lot of families, some are as easy as writing an email to a congressman about an issue facing our environment, or using less paper towels or taking shorter showers. Whatever you can do is a help. So don’t feel bad if you can’t do everything, feel good about the things you are doing to help. Your kids will appreciate it and learn how to do things better too.

Kermit was wrong! Turns out, it IS easy being green!

Spring has finally sprung! The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and the air is finally of a temperature where we don’t have to go into full abominable snowman mode in order to leave the house. Yay! But what comes along with spring? Dirt. Garbage. Just general disorder from the months of winter. Luckily for us, April also brings with it Earth Day. A day that we can take advantage of the opportunity to clean up our town. Our Bash The Trash event is a wonderful precursor to Earth Day and a great way to get us and our children thinking about recycling, sustainability, and being more green and gentle with the earth. We all need to do our part to keep this earth in decent shape for our future generations. But what can we do, you ask? A million different things! Go to a park and pick up any trash you see. You can do it as a family, or get a big group together to pitch in. Plant a tree. Commit yourself to using fewer plastic bags. Consider using greener cleaning products such as baking soda and vinegar.  Walk more, drive less. And as for activities for the kids, well, there is a plethora of ideas for that too. Here are a few great ideas to pursue:

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 7.50.48 AM

http://todaysmama.com/2013/04/earth-day-activities-for-kids/

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 7.51.30 AM

http://www.gettingmessywithmsjessi.com/2013_04_01_archive.html

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 7.52.20 AM

http://www.frogsandsnailsandpuppydogtail.com/2014/03/10-earth-day-activities-for-kids.html

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 7.53.26 AM http://www.naturalbeachliving.com/2013/04/learning-about-earth-part-2.html On top of all these great ideas, keep a look out for more information from CMOO about other Earth Day events in Oswego. Have fun, get dirty and take care of the Earth!🙂

Bash The Trash!

Is this season getting you down? Summer seems like a mirage on the horizon and while spring is technically here, it sure doesn’t feel like it. And all the fun winter activities have long since passed. Well CMOO has just the thing for you! Round up the kids, bundle up, (or maybe you won’t have to?!) and head out to our Bash The Trash event.

What is Bash The Trash you ask? It is a group of performers who travel to different locations making music made of recycled materials. Before the performance, they hold a workshop so that the children can make their own instruments out of recycled materials. They then use those instruments later on, during the audience participation portion of the performance.

Besides promoting creativity and musicality, Bash The Trash also promotes taking care of our planet by recycling and sustainability. Sustainability is defined as: involving methods that do not completely use up or destroy natural resources. For example, when eating dinner, using cloth napkins instead of paper ones. BTT is a wonderful way to get children excited about being stewards of the environment, especially right before Earth Day.

This event will take place on Saturday,  April 12th at 2pm on the Oswego University campus in the Hewitt Union Ballroom. Parking will be available at no cost. The cost to attend the event will be $5. This event is being sponsored by Dynamic Automotive and Home Accessories, A&J Music, The Oswego Lions Club, Oswego County Environmental Management Council and SUNY Oswego Sustainability Council. The event was made possible in part by a grant by CNY Arts. For more information on Bash The Trash, check out their website at

http://www.bashthetrash.com/Bash_the_Trash_Environmental_Arts/Home_Page_old.html

Also check out http://www.cmoo.org/calendar/

This is going to be a really fun way to spend a not-quite-spring day with your kids. We hope to see you all there!🙂

Top o’ the mornin’ to ya!

It’s that time of the year again when everything starts to turn green…the trees, the grass, and most importantly, the shamrocks. Yes, it’s almost St. Patty’s day again and it is a great time to have a little Irish fun with the family. My daughter’s favorite holiday is not St. Patrick’s Day, it’s Easter, because she loves to find eggs. She loves to find anything really. So why not bring a little of that explorer fun to this holiday by making a “Find the pot of gold” scavenger hunt? For the older kids, you can come up with some really funny, or poetic clues that get them having to think, and for the younger kids, you can do clues that have pictures on them so they know where to go next. Here are some links to printables that you can use:

http://spoonful.com/printables/st-patricks-day-treasure-hunt

http://www.happygoluckyblog.com/2011/03/st-patricks-day-scavenger-hunt.html

At the end of the scavenger hunt, think of filling a bucket with things that are gold and green such as gold coins, Andes mints, Rolos, or cold hard cash. Kids love cash. No, never mind, that’s the tooth fairy’s job.🙂

Some other fun ideas for St. Patrick’s Day are to do something similar to the elf on the shelf and leave little green footprints someplace or glitter or something to make it look like a leprechaun visited. Just be aware that this can scare some kids so use your best judgment!

There are crafts galore to be found on Pinterest as well as fun activities and green foods to make with your kids. One of my favorites is this rainbow in a jar science activity:

Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 10.33.47 AM

http://www.playdoughtoplato.com/2014/03/06/rainbow-jar-st-patricks-day/

There is an abundance of ways to make this holiday fun for your kids without having to go buy a bunch of stuff or load them up with too much sugar. I suggest you don’t go overboard though because then they are going to expect big things from you every year!😉

Can you dig it?

Children have an innate need to get their hands dirty and explore their world. They are so curious about nature; and as parents and educators, it is important that we give them as many opportunities as possible to explore and discover the natural environment around them. Luckily, spring is just around the corner (I hope) and there will be plenty of opportunities to get out and do something with your child in which they can both have fun and learn.

Gardening with your kids is a wonderful opportunity for families to put away the electronics for a little while and get outside together. Children will benefit from the fresh air, exercise, learning how things grow, and the responsibility of taking care of their own plants.

Besides learning about how things grow, children gain a sense of where their food comes from and they may be more willing to try fruits and vegetables that they have grown themselves. Gardening also makes a great precursor to trips to the farmer’s market where kids can meet local farmers, ask questions and learn even more. They will take delight in watching something grow just from sunshine and water and will enjoy watching the bees, butterflies and other insects come to visit their plants. Even if you just plant a few flowers, your kids will love being involved in picking the perfect flowers and beautifying your yard. Let their artistic side shine and see how they put colors together, and mix different sizes and shapes of flowers. It’ll be very interesting to see what blooms.

Some of the most important reasons for getting children to get their hands dirty and do something like gardening is because it teaches them how to care for the earth. It teaches them that they may be able to feed themselves from the land if they have to and if they want to know where their food is coming from. It teaches them to be responsible stewards of their environment and we need as many of those as we can get!

Hands-on experiences that they can share with their family is something that will stick with them for years to come. I still remember going out to my grandfather’s garden watching him till the soil and him letting me harvest the crop of fruits and veggies that he grew. I loved it. There is something very satisfying about being able to pick your food fresh off the vine. The best part was that I got to spend one-on-one time with my grandfather.

By waiting for seeds to sprout and flowers or veggies to grow, children also learn patience. They begin to realize that some things take time and there is not always going to be instant gratification. Also, the excitement when they see that first little sprout is always well worth the work. Even if you have a lawn the size of a postage stamp, you can plant something. Get a little planter and put it on the porch. Plant some herbs in a box in the widow sill. Plant vertical herb gardens. Or, join the local community garden. Not only is that a great option for gardening, but connecting to other members of the community as well.

So when the snow finally melts and the earth thaws out, think about getting some soil and seeds and planting a garden with your children. It will be an experience that you can both enjoy and remember for years to come. For more information on gardening with your kids, check out these sites:

http://web3.cas.usf.edu/tbsg/benefitsofschoolgardening.aspx

http://www.nationalgardenmonth.org/index.php?page=educators

http://www.sheknows.com/food-and-recipes/articles/5834/what-your-kids-can-learn-from-the-garden

http://eartheasy.com/grow_gardening_children.htm

http://www.pinterest.com/educatorsspinon/gardening-with-kids/

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

“Think and wonder, wonder and think.”–Dr. Seuss.

Today, March 2nd, marks what would have been the birthday of the wonderful Dr. Seuss, who in his 87 years on this earth created magic, wonder, nonsense, and silliness. He instilled values and lessons into children all over the world that they didn’t necessarily know that they were being taught. Hidden in his catchy rhymes, Dr. Seuss taught children to have love for themselves, the earth and their fellow occupants of this planet.  From stories like The Lorax, to Oh! The Places You’ll Go!, to The Grinch, his messages were inspiring and filled with love.

Reading is one of the best ways that you can spend time with your children and one that has some of the longest-lasting benefits. When you read with your kids you explore other worlds and ideas, delve a little deeper into their brains when they talk about what you’re reading, and instill a lifetime love of reading. What better way to spend a Sunday morning? In honor of Dr. Seuss, I am planning on having a little Dr. Seuss marathon today. I think we’ll read The Grinch and The Cat in the Hat and whichever other books I can find on our bookshelf.🙂

So today, if you’re looking for something fun to do with your children, maybe take a little while and do something to honor the life of Dr. Seuss, who has been a part of all our childhoods. I have a few ideas here to help you get started. Also, check out the Dr. Seuss birthday pins on Pinterest for more ideas!

http://joyfullyweary.blogspot.com/2011/11/easy-seussian-hats.html

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 9.04.28 AM

http://www.sassydealz.com/2014/02/lorax-toilet-paper-roll-craft-kids-dr-suess.html?crlt.pid=camp.oHUAJv6jce9J

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 9.04.03 AM

http://firstbornsanity.blogspot.com/2011/02/horton-hears-who-clover.html

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 9.04.40 AM

 

Why Play is Important

Since the title of this blog is The Power of Play, I want to talk a little bit about what play does for our children. The benefits of play are numerous, because while there are so many different facets of learning, play provides most, if not all of them. When playing, children are engaging many different parts of their brain. They are accessing their creativity in order to develop their imaginations, dexterity, cognitive ability, leadership, emotional and physical strength. It is important for healthy brain development.  “Play is so important to optimal child development that it has been recognized by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child.” (Ginsburg, 2007).

When we have these facts, how can we not want to provide children with the most opportunities for meaningful play that we are able to? Play is an essential part of childhood that helps puts kids on the right track for developing skills they will need for the rest of their lives.

And it’s not only the children that should be playing. Play is for everyone! “Play is just as pivotal for adults as it is for kids. ‘We don’t lose the need for novelty and pleasure as we grow up.’ Play brings joy. And it’s vital for problem solving, creativity, and relationships.” (Tartakovsky, 2012) Also, playing with your children helps create strong bonds with them and boosts their self-esteem and their feeling of importance within the family. When you take the time out to play with your children, you are doing more than just playing, or taking time away from your own work; you are providing necessary learning and growth opportunities for your children.

In order to get the most benefit out of play time, children should be provided with a “safe environment that offers a variety of play materials that meet the different developmental skill levels and support the creative interests of children. Toys should be selected that meet the needs of children during different stages of growth and development.”(The importance of, 2007).

This is exactly the kind of environment that CMOO offers to their visitors. A place to play with various different kinds of exhibits and toys, no matter what their developmental stage. And even though the general age group is up to age 8, I have seen older kids, as well as their parents take delight in the many offerings at the children’s museum. All you need in order to enjoy playing at CMOO is a sense of wonder, some curiosity, and childlike enthusiasm.

Play is not just something kids do. It is essential to their very being. Just as it was once to yours. If you are looking for ways to add more play into your child’s day, a few good, basic ideas to introduce are: blocks, pretend play, art materials, sensory play, puzzles and manipulatives, music and movement, cooking, and books and storytelling. These options all offer something different for your child’s development and are all relatively cheap or free. So, what are you waiting for? Get playing!🙂

 

Ginsburg, K. (2007). The importance of play in promoting healthy child development and maintaining strong parent-child bonds. Pediatrics119(1), Retrieved from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/119/1/182.full

TARTAKOVSKY, M. (2012, November 15). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/11/15/the-importance-of-play-for-adults/

The importance of play: Activities for children. (2007, June). Retrieved from http://www.childaction.org/families/publications/docs/guidance/Handout13-The_Importance_of_Play.pdf