Friday, June 29, 2012

Summertime Snacks

Summertime is here! We have found some summertime snacks - thanks to Baby Einstein for these wonderful ideas. There is also a really cute 4th July popsicle - so get organized in advance as this one takes a little planning! Enjoy!

From popsicles to potato salad, everyone loves summertime snacks! It’s a great opportunity to let your little ones try something new. Who knows how much their taste has changed each month? Take a look at some of the yummy snacks below and check out more ideas at Disney Family Fun!
  • Citrus Sipper: Break a peppermint stick and stick it into an uncut lemon. Just suck on the stick as usual and soon it turns into a straw to give you a sugary-sweet treat! Yum.
  • Frozen Flower Pops: Cut petal designs into pineapple, stick a watermelon ball in the center, and add a slice of green apple as a leaf. Freeze for an hour, and voila!
  • Mr. Tomato Head: Do you have trouble getting your little one to eat veggies? This fun snack idea is an easy way to get them eating tomatoes and smiling at the same time! All you need is a small tomato, some black beans, celery, and cream cheese to make this cute character good enough to eat.
  • Fruit Kebabs: Simple and sweet. Grab your favorite fruits (berries and melons work best) and stick them on a skewer for the family to enjoy!
  • Patriotic Pops: Cool down this summer with a patriotic popsicle. Freeze the layers one at a time to create this red, white and blue icepop. It’s a great snack for your little ones, especially with July 4th right around the corner!
  • As delicious as these sound, don’t forget you can even carve a melon manor to house toys for your little one to play with. It’s the perfect summer picnic activity!
Which one sounds the most delicious to you? Be sure to share your other favorites in the comments below! Go to our facebook page at and share your ideas with us.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Helping Your Child Beat Summer Camp Homesickness

With summer camps opening up all across the country we thought that you would find these tips useful to help your child beat homesickness at camp by Andrew Benkendorf, LCSW and Jessica Furie, MSW and L.A. Parent Magazine  Thanks for these great tips.

Whether this is your child’s first summer at camp, or they are a returning camper, many children struggle with being away from home. Allowing your child to navigate this challenge will help her develop independence, confidence in her abilities, and a deeper sense of self. Here are three tips to set your child up for success.

1) Provide a Vote of Confidence:
Be positive and express your confidence in your child’s capacity to be away from home and navigate the challenges that will inevitably arise while at camp. Reinforce how proud you are and provide constant encouragement. If they miss home there are lots of things they can do to still feel connected. They can write letters home, listen to music, talk to a friend, or look at a picture from home.

2) Avoid making deals about early pick-ups:
In our many years of working as inclusion specialists at an overnight camp, we can say with confidence that 95% of kids, who experience moments of sadness make it through the session with a smile of their face. The other 5% go home.

So what differentiates the 5% from the 95%? The innocent-but-destructive suggestion that if the child is having a hard time, the parents will come pick them up. Or, parents who suggest, “Just try it out for a few days.” When parents say this to their children, the child has less confidence in their abilities and a higher determination that if they keep crying, Mom or Dad will come get them. These kids think, “Well, I just need to prove how homesick I am, then my parents will come and get me.”

Although the other 95% of homesick kids may try this tactic also, once they are told that Mom or Dad won’t pick them up, within six hours, these kids are usually playing soccer and smiling. They realize that they might as well try to make the best of their experience, because there is no way that Mom or Dad or Grandma will come get them.
The tactic of telling your child that you won’t come get them may seem obvious; however, many camps have not figured this out yet. Often times, counselors will say to a child, “Just try getting through a few more hours, and then we will check in and see how you are doing.” When counselors say this, it sends the message, “Prove to me how homesick you are.” If your camp calls you to tell you that your child is homesick, although this is often painful, the best thing you can do is to have the camp relay the message to your son or daughter that you love them very much and you know they can make it, so you are not going to pick them up.
Here is where our clinical judgment comes in: If, within 12 hours of telling the camper that they are not going home, the camper is still having a miserable time, this is when I know that they are not trying to prove their homesickness and that they may just not be ready for camp. So although you will tell your son or daughter that you will not pick them up, tell the camp director to call you 12 hours later. If at that time the homesickness has not ceased, we would recommend picking up your child.

3) Watch Your Emotions:
Parents are often nervous about sending their child to camp and must be cognizant of how this impacts their child. Make sure your child knows that you’ll be fine while she’s gone and that you’re looking forward to hearing about all her adventures when you pick her up at the end of the session.
One time a camper that we worked with wrote letters home that he hated camp and wanted to leave. It turned out that his mom was going through cancer treatment and told her son that she didn’t know what she was going to do without him. Although she meant this in a loving way, her son thought that he needed to prove his homesickness so that he could leave camp and tend to his mom. When Mom later explained that she wanted him to stay and have a good time, the camper had a great remainder of the session.

Perhaps you have other tips you would like to share. Perhaps your child would like to create a keepsake of their time away at camp - order a My Vacation Journal from our website at and don't forget the coupon code found on our Facebook page.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Education expert offers tips to help your child prevent summer brain drain

With the start of the long summer vacation for school aged children, we found this article by Marie Sutton which may get you thinking about activities to keep your little one's brains active!

It’s summer and time for the kids to kick back, relax and give their brains a much-needed break, right?

Experts say that summer is more than just a time for kids to sleep in and laze by the pool; it’s a time to review lessons, build upon academic strengths and tackle any problem areas to avoid learning loss.

“Research shows that students need to continue to learn year round,” says Tonya Perry, Ph.D., assistant professor of curriculum instruction in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Education and author of Supporting Students in a Time of Core Standards. “Taking a two-month break affects students’ ability to remember concepts and other important information that will be needed.”

Kids who do not engage in educational activities during the summer typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they did on the same tests taken at the beginning of the summer, according to the National Summer Learning Association.

Experts say that summer is more than just a time for kids to sleep in and laze by the pool; it’s a time to review lessons, build upon academic strengths and tackle any problem areas to avoid learning loss.

“We need to revisit the purpose of summer,” Perry says. “We all think of it as time away from the academic school year, but we should also think of it as a time to revisit our interests, work on our challenges and accelerate our learning.”

Here’s how you can do that:
  • Have a plan of action: Reflect upon your child’s successes and missteps during the past school year and the expectations that will arise in the fall. Then, map out a strategy to fill in any educational gaps. Creating weekly contracts will make expectations clear for parents and students.
  • Work on strengthening their weaknesses: Summer is a great time to work with your child on any academic deficiencies, Perry says. Enroll them in programs that strengthen weaknesses, such as math, science or reading camps.
  • Invest in summer reading and writing utensils, such as a good book to read with your child and a journal for recording ideas. Download free online student-appropriate activities so that you and your child can do lessons one on one. Also, many certified school teachers are available during the summer to tutor. Contact your local school or library for information.
  • Build on their strengths: If your child has a knack for math, summer can be a time for them to delve deeper, Perry says. “Students can use the summer months to excel in academics without the pressure that sometimes accompanies school in a structured environment.”
  • Help them come up with a fun summer project to build upon what they learned in school. Or, enroll them in a career-exploration camp to give them a taste of what it would be like to work in their field on interest.
  • Make learning fun: If your child cringes at the thought of schoolwork during summer, disguise it with fun activities, Perry says.

The kitchen can be a great classroom, she says. Perry suggests teaching your kids math skills by cooking together. You can use recipes to illustrate fractions, multiplication or addition, she says.

Measure the area of your yard and plot out sections for planting flowers or creating a garden, she says. Read comic strips to get background information before seeing popular movies like “The Avengers,” etc.

Get a leg up: Soon, college readiness standards for children in eighth grade and below will be changing, Perry says. Students in Alabama will be expected to meet new College and Career Readiness Standards and take different tests in the future. Summertime can be an opportunity for you and your child to familiarize yourselves with these standards. Visit for an overview.

“There is a shift for higher learning for the students, one that is needed,” Perry says, “but we will all need to work together, parents and teachers, to help students meet the new demands.”

Is there anything that you would add to this list to keep your child's brain active this summer? Try our
My Vacation Journal which is a great way to keep all those tickets, flowers and other bits and pieces you may pick up along your way. and don't forget to get your discount code from our Facebook page at