Friday, September 30, 2011

What Do You Love Most About Autumn?

What Does Autumn Sound Like?

This week we discussed how to get kids to appreciate and enjoy Autumn using their five senses. We encourage you to teach children what Autumn looks like, feels like, tastes like, smells like, and finally today what the season sounds like.

In Autumn we can hear the tractors as the farmers nearby harvest their crops. Listen for the geese honking as they fly overhead, the wind rusting the leaves, and crackling campfires. Indoors, Autumn sounds like the crackling wood in the fireplace and popcorn popping for an afternoon snack.

Children's Books About Autumn:

Autumnblings by Douglas Florian
What do you like about autumn? Flying kites? Apple picking? Trick or treat? Frisbee flicking? What do you not like about autumn? Back to school? Winds that gust? Bare trees? Rains that rust? This collection of poems and paintings welcomes fall with all the crisp energy of a joyful tumbling run.

Harvest Song by Frank Fiorello
Two children and their cat watch autumn come and see the changes of nature with the trees and leaves, how the days get cooler, flowers losing their petals, pumpkins harvesting, birds flying south, and how the insects seem to have disappeared. The book discusses winter and spring briefly. This book is a celebration of autumn and the wonderful changes that occur during the cooler months.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Enjoying Autumn With Kids

What Does Autumn Smell Like?

We have been discussing ways for kids to learn about Autumn using their senses. Autumn smells like the first fire in the fireplace, apple pies, and beeswax candles on the dinner table as night’s darkness falls earlier and earlier. Help kids identify smells like fireplaces and bonfires, pickling spices, and cinnamon and nutmeg

Blindfold Smell Game:
This fun game is an excellent way to stimulate children's sense of smell. Collect strong smelling ingredients that remind you of autumn such as cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pine. Have the children close their eyes (or use a blindfold to cover their eyes) and hold up one item to their nose at a time. See if they can identify the scent.

Sniff, Sniff: A Book About Smell by Dana Meachen Rau

This is a young science book that teaches kids about the sense of smell and how it affects the body. This book certainly is not appropriate for infants but some preschoolers and certainly school-aged children will enjoy the book.

Are You Ready for Fall? By Sheila Anderson

Leaves are changing colors. The days are getting cooler. Farmers harvest crops. It's time to carve a pumpkin! Do you know what season is here? It's fall! What else happens in fall? Read this book to find out!

Now It's Fall? By Jeanie Lee

My toddler loves flap books and books she can touch. With this book you will see what changes occur when summer turns into fall. Just pull the bottom of each page and watch the images magically transform! The leaves change color and fall off trees, berries are gathered and baked in pies, pumpkins are transformed into jack-o'-lanterns, and more!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What's Your Favorite Autumn Recipe?

What Does Autumn Taste Like?
Photo from amomamok

When I think of autumn I think of the harvest of apples, pumpkins, cranberries, and corn. Just think of Thanksgiving dinner, and what American doesn't love Thanksgiving?

I love to cut up a red and green apples and have the kids close their eyes and have a taste test. See if they can tell which tastes is the red apple and which is the green apple. You can do this all year round to get kids to eat healthy fruits and vegetables. We do this with green and red grapes, broccoli and cauliflower, and different types of lettuce as well. Below is a recipe and some children's books to help your charges enjoy the tastes of autumn.

Easy Apple Cranberry Crumble from Family Fun Magazine
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
6 cups peeled and sliced (about 1/2 inch thick) apples (such as Braeburn or Granny Smith)
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Heat the oven to 375°. Combine the flour, 1/4 cup of the sugar, the brown sugar, and the butter in a bowl. Mix the ingredients with your fingertips to create pea-size crumbs. (Alternatively, pulse the mixture in a food processor 10 times or so).

Combine the apple slices and cranberries in a large bowl. Mix the juice, remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, and cornstarch in a small bowl. Pour the mixture over the fruit and toss well.

Spoon the fruit into a 2-quart baking dish and sprinkle on the flour mixture. Bake the crumble until bubbly and golden brown, about 40 minutes. Serves 6 to 8.

Children's Books About the Flavors of Autumn:

Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper
A squirrel, a duck, and a cat happily cook and coexist deep in the woods in an old white cabin until the duck starts to question things. He questions things like why does he always have to add the salt to the soup, but he never gets to stir. Beautiful illustrations add to this original tale of friendship, sharing, and pumpkin soup. There is a great recipe in the back of the book.

Applesauce by Shirley Kurtz
Have you ever wanted to make your own applesauce? This is the book for you! Directions for applesauce making and canning follow the story. This is a great fall story-time read-a-loud- all about a family making applesauce.

Apple Cider-Making Days by Ann Purnell
Alex and Abigail join the whole family in processing and selling apples and apple cider at their grandfather's farm.

Apples and Pumpkins by Anne Rockwell
Visit Comstock Farm with a little girl and her parents to pick apples, pumpkins, and enjoy some delicious apple cider. A perfect choice for a Fall story-time.

What is your favorite Autumn recipe?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Making Bark and Leaf Rubbings

What Does Autumn Feel Like?

As the weeks pass and the weather changes, we begin to experience chilly Autumn days. Our clothing reflects the temperatures as we don wool sweaters, waffle weave long underwear, thick socks, and perhaps even a puffy down vest or a coat before we go outside.

There are other ways to feel the season:
The textures of hay bales
The varied surfaces of pumpkins and gourds
Difference between the silky petals of the mum’s flower and its leaves
What does the sun feel like on your skin? What about the shade?
Is there any wind today? Can you feel a breeze?
What does the air feel like? Dry? Humid?

How to Make Bark Rubbings:
Peel the paper from a large crayon. Press a sheet of thin paper up against the bark of a tree. Gently rub the side of the crayon on the paper until the pattern of the bark shows.

How to Make Leaf Rubbings:
Collect interesting leaves. Lay them flat on a hard, smooth surface. Cover the leaves with paper and rub the side of the crayon on the paper. Kids will notice one side of the leave is smoother than the other.

After Making the Bark and Leaf Rubbings:

Bark: Glue your rubbings in a scrapbook to make a Bark Book. Compare rubbings from different trees. Which bark patterns make the nicest rubbings? Can you tell which rubbing came from which kind of tree?

Leaves: Glue your rubbings in a scrapbook to make a Leaf Book. Have kids write a short description of each leaf they found, including what the leaf looks like, what type of tree it may be from, and how it compares to other leaves they found.

Apple Picking Time by Michele Slawson
A great seasonal story about a little girl, who along with the rest of the members of her community, helps to bring in the fall apple harvest. She is determined to fill her basket for the first time this year. A warm story about community, harvesting, and helping out.

How Do You Know It's Fall? by Allan Fowler
Presents the many signs of fall, including geese flying south, squirrels hiding acorns, and people playing football.

Monday, September 26, 2011

What Does Autumn Look Like?

Using Our Senses to Enjoy Autumn

The most beautiful sight in Autumn is the changing colors of the leaves. This provides opportunities to create leaf rubbings and other leaf related crafts. We can rake leaves together, which naturally leads to jumping in leaf piles! Kids also love collecting acorns and seed pods, watching migrating birds, and seeing the harvest moon. Other fun things my 19-month old charge just loves watching are the squirrels gather acorns for winter.

Ask kids:
What is happening to the grass and flowers?
What are the insects and animals doing?
Do you see acorns, walnuts, and seed pods?
What are migrating birds doing?
Have you seen a Harvest Moon?

Children's Books About What We See in Autumn:
Collect colorful leaves to make projects with activities from the book Look What I Did With a A Leaf! by Morteza E. Sohi., recommended by nanny Andrea Flagg and reviewed by Elain Magliaro.

Hello, Harvest Moon by Ralph Fletcher
While tired farmers and their families are in bed, the harvest moon silently climbs into the sky and starts working its magic. For some, it is the nightly signal to rise and shine. It is time to hunt, to work, or to play in the shadows. For a little girl and her cat, it is an invitation to enjoy the wonders of the night and a last flood of light before the short days of winter set in. With an evocative text and radiant illustrations, this companion to Twilight Comes Twice offers a glimpse of nature's nightlife long after bedtime.

Animals in the Fall by Gail Saunders
Simple text and photographs present the behavior changes of animals as winter approaches, such as growing thicker fur, migrating, and hibernating.

Earl the Squirrel by Don Freeman
Earl the Squirrel doesn't think of himself as spoiled, but his mother does. She decides it's high time Earl learns to find acorns for himself. There's only one problem -- he doesn't know where to look. Earl's friend Jill offers to help, but that's not what Earl's mother had in mind. So, wearing his bright red scarf, Earl sets off on his own for an action-packed acorn finding mission. Striking black-and-white scratch board art is accented by Earl's crimson scarf. The effect is classic, clean, and thoroughly recognizable as Don Freeman's signature style.

Leaves by David Ezra Stein
In this adorable book, a little bear sees leaves fall during his first autumn and is confused. He tries to put them back on the trees to no avail. As he ponders the situation, he grows sleepy and before long he is hibernating through winter. When he awakens, he's delighted to see new leaves unfolding on the trees.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tranquil Scenes Have Positive Impact on the Brain

Take Children Outside Everyday

Our advice for things to do with kids this Autumn is to get outside! Time spent outdoors in nature is like pushing a "stress reduction button" for the brain. Research findings, "demonstrated that tranquil environmental scenes containing natural features...cause distinct brain areas to become `connected´ with one another whilst man-made environments, such as motorways, disrupt the brain connections."

To see an article on the study go to, Tranquil scenes have a positive impact on the brain. Each day this week we hope to inspire you to get the kids outside and help children to use their senses to learn about and enjoy Autumn.

What are your favorite Autumn activities to do with kids?

Have You Tried Reusable Snack Bags?

eco-ditty snack bags

For Product Review Sunday we recommend eco-ditty snack bags. These bags are a great way to save on the amount of disposable plastic bags we use and throw out daily. eco-ditty snack bags are made of 100 percent organic cotton. They are fashionable, functional, and easy to clean by simply throwing them in the dishwasher when they are dirty. Since eco-ditty snack bags do not have air tight seals so they aren't appropriate for liquids or purees.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Look What I Did With a Leaf! By Morteza E. Sohi

Weekly Trip to the Library
Review by Elaine Magliaro

I was a second grade teacher for many years -- and for many of those years I taught a science unit on trees, forests, and soil. Every September, I would take my students for a walk in the woods. We would look at the different kinds of trees and leaves, turn over rotting logs and find salamanders, observe decaying vegetation and detritus on the ground, study lichens growing on rocks and plants, look for fungi on the forest floor. We’d take another trip a few weeks later to an Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary where we’d look at different trees, make soil salad, and talk about photosynthesis and the chain of life. I found such experiences outside of school helped my students to become more attuned to the wonder of nature and the science all around them.

Back at school, I would give my students a special folder with directions and special materials for assignments and activities that they would complete at home over the course of a week. My students would select a tree in their yards or near their houses to observe for a few days. They would do bark rubbings of their selected trees and make leaf prints. They would also do detailed pencil sketches and artistic interpretations of their trees and spend time on three different days sitting outside looking at their trees and writing down their observations. Teaching my students how to become more careful observers was one of my main reasons for taking my students on the field trips and assigning these activities for homework.

Look What I Did with a Leaf! [is] a nonfiction book I used in conjunction with our science unit. It encouraged my students' powers of observation and provided me with an idea for an exceptional project to do at school in collaboration with our art teacher.

Look What I Did with a Leaf! is a science/craft book for children with suggestions and advice for helping them to create their own “leaf animal” collages. In this book, Sohi includes a Field Guide with pictures, descriptions, and sizes of leaves from different kinds of trees and plants and a section entitled The Life Cycle of a Leaf. He talks about training one’s eye in searching out leaves in a variety of colors, sizes, and shapes. He writes specifically about how saw-edged leaves may work best for capturing the texture of a rooster’s body, lobed leaves are excellent to use for frog’s feet, and long, narrow leaves work well for fox’s legs. Sohi includes his own collages of a rooster, a frog, and a fox to show readers how he used these specific types of leaves to create these three different leaf animals. Other collages in the book include those of a butterfly, elephant, parrot, owl, cougar, cow, mouse, lion, peacock, fish, cat, and turtle. Sohi also provides art notes for children and directions for preparing their collected leaves and assembling their animals.

Using Look What I Did with a Leaf!, my students created their own leaf animal collages with leaves they had collected and prepared. I found it was extremely important for children to prepare their leaves well in advance of the art project. The leaves must be cleaned by soaking in warm water, blotted dry, and then placed between pages of a newspaper and pressed. This preparation process takes about a week.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Happy National Nanny Recognition Week from Nannypalooza!

Has a Child In Your Care Ever Been A Vicitm of Bullying?

Different Types of Bullying

The Second Annual Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Summit, starts today. Yesterday we explained that teasing is bullying. Today, we define the different types of bullying to help us better determine if our charges are being bullied or bullying other kids.

Each and every person has the right to feel safe in their lives and good about themselves. So, It’s My Life web site put together a guide to share the basics of dealing with bullies.

The different types of bullying are:

1. Physical bullying means:
  •  Hitting, kicking, or pushing someone, or even just threatening to do it,
  • Stealing, hiding or ruining someone's things,
  • Making someone do things he doesn’t want to do.
2. Verbal bullying means:• Name-calling,
  • Teasing,
  • Insulting.
3. Relationship bullying means:
  • Refusing to talk to someone,
  • Spreading lies or rumors about someone,
  • Making someone feel left out or rejected.
The reason why one kid would want to bully another kid is that when someone makes another person feel bad, they gain power over him. Power makes people feel like they're better than another person, and then that makes them feel really good about himself. Power also makes the bully stand out from the crowd. It's a way to get attention.

Has a child you have cared for ever been bullied?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Is it Teasing or Bullying?

Teasing vs. Bullying

The Second Annual Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Summit, will be held on September 21-22, 2011. As a nanny you might be wondering if your charge is a bully or is being bullied. I know a lot of kids tease one another and I often wonder if some of the teasing hurts my charge's feelings.

What is the difference between teasing and bullying? There is none actually, if the intent of the teaser and the perception of the receiver are different. It does not matter if the speaker means no harm but the person to whom the remarks are aimed at perceives the comments as hurtful.

Unintended consequences may occur when thoughtless things are said to a growing, naive child.

It is unacceptable to be intentionally cruel to someone, but unintended and mindless comments and behavior can be just as harmful. Nastiness and thoughtlessness can exist anywhere, from playgrounds and bathrooms to emails and Facebook.

The best nanny must be alert to the effects of teasing and bullying. These are negative experiences that do not enhance lives but debases those who do it and those who experience it.

Do your charges get teased or tease other kids?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Why Do You Love Working as a Nanny?

It is National Nanny Recognition Week September 18 - 24

In honor of National Nanny Recognition Week, yesterday we aksed nannies how their employers show them that they appreciate them. Today Be the Best Nanny Newsletter asks nannies to share why they love working in their chosen profession. Please take the time to read the comments by professional nannies below and share why you love working as a nanny as well.

Terri Carrol answered, "I love being a nanny because I know I make a difference in the lives of the little ones I come in contact with -- even if it's just a one-week temporary job. I could write 10-pages on why I know this is true, but I'll spare you. What a joy to know I've been a positive influence in their lives forever -- even long after they have completely forgotten me!"

Sue Downey explains, "Anyone who works with children knows the joys of helping kids to find themselves, the pride in being a part of the process of raising a child, and the simple fun of play. We know that things we do today have long reaching effects and the work we do is important. But to me what makes being a nanny unique is that I can interact with the whole family, which can have deeper and more lasting benefits than a teacher or coach. I have benefited from these relationships in ways that I cannot explain. It is an intimate relationship and one that is completely unique."

Click here to read an essay by Josiah Laubenstein. He explains that even though working as a nanny is a messy, unglamourous, exhausting, and even dangerous job, being a nanny is about having unconditional love for children.

Click here to see what it means to Andrea Flagg to be a nanny.  She describes the many different hats nannies wear in a work day: tutor, nutritionist, chef, hygienist, nurse, counselor, coach, and body-guard, just to name a few. Great nannies, like Andrea Flagg, really do take the extra time and effort to provide educational activities and new experiences to help spark the child's curiosity and self-esteem.

What nanny doesn't take great pride in helping to mold and shape children into the adults they will someday become, as Emelie Wingblad Root described?

De-Shaun Silas explained so perfectly why she loves working as a nanny. How many people can say they actually love their jobs? Well, De-Shaun and others like her can. What could be more important than knowing you have made a positive difference in the life of a child that will last with them forever?

As the parents that employ nannies honor them this week for National Nanny Recognition Week, I want to thank the parents that entrust us to help raise their most precious children. There is no greater honor I can think of than helping raise children by working as a nanny.

Why do you love working as a nanny?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

National Nanny Recognition Week Sept 18 - 24, 2011

What Do Your Employers Do to Show They Appreciate You?

National Nanny Recognition Week begins today! So, for Product Review Sunday we recommend parents buy gifts for their nannies from Cafe Press. What nanny wouldn't love an adorable tote bag or shirt given to them to show their employers' appreciation? Click here to shop for nanny gifts.

Some of our readers told us the gifts they loved recieving from their employers. Feel free to share how your employers have shown they appreciate you.

For example, Maria Lopez of Miami, FL says, "One morning the mother told me she got a bonus at work so she's giving me $100 and a day off of my asking. She said I was a very important part of the family. Although it wasn't for Nanny Recognition Week this unexpected gift was so amazing."

Another nanny, Imani O., also has been given cash and time-off from the parents as a way for the family to show their appreciation. She explains, "This summer the parents asked me if there were a few extra days I would like off this summer (paid). We scheduled the days off and they handed me a Thank You card with cash in it to spend on my days off!"

Fiona Littleton, a nanny in New York, NY said, "Other than saying 'thank you' often the parents allowed me to stay in their summer house in the Hamptons this summer while they went to Disney. They allowed me to use their credit card to buy food too. They said this was sinmply a Thank You gift rather than using it as vacation time of sick days or holiday bonus."

A full-time, live-out nanny Kimberly shares with us, "My Mom Boss gets a lot of gift cards from work whenever she reaches sales goals. Typically she gives the gift card to me. She has given me American Express gift cards, several Barnes and Noble gifts cards, and a Nordstrom gift card."

Erin, a nanny in Greenwich, CT says, "The parents gave me a week off  to spend without them at their shore house. Free rent and I got paid my regular salary. I can't complain."

What have your employers given you to show they appreciate you?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Has a Child You Cared For Been a Vicitm of Bullying? Review of "Oliver Button Is a Sissy"

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

In New Jersey (NJ) the law, known as the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, became effective this September. The Anti-Bullying Law is considered the toughest legislation against bullying in the nation. Each NJ school must designate an antibullying specialist to investigate complaints; each district must, in turn, have an antibullying coordinator; and the State Education Department will evaluate every effort, posting grades on its Web site. Superintendents said that educators who failed to comply could lose their licenses.

Click here for some sobering statistics on bullying.

Below is a great book review by Elizabeth Kennedy to help start the discussion about bullying with children.

Oliver Button is a Sissy by Tomie dePaola

Oliver Button Is a Sissy, a children's picture book written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola, is the story of a boy who stands up to bullies, not by fighting, but by staying true to himself. The story, based on the childhood experiences of Tomie dePaola, is a simple one. Oliver Button doesn’t like sports like the other boys do. He likes to read, draw pictures, dress up in costumes, and sing and dance. Even his father calls him a "sissy" and tells him to play ball. But Oliver isn’t good at sports and he isn’t interested.

His mother tells him he needs to get some exercise, and when Oliver mentions he likes to dance, his parents enroll him in Ms. Leah’s Dancing School. His father says it is, "Especially for the exercise." Oliver loves to dance and loves his shiny new tap shoes. However, it hurts his feelings when the other boys make fun of him. One day when he arrives at school, he sees that someone has written on the school wall, "Oliver Button is a sissy."

Despite the teasing and other bullying, Oliver continues dance lessons. In fact, he increases his practice time in hopes of winning the big talent show. When his teacher encourages the other students to attend and root for Oliver, the boys in his class whisper, "Sissy!" Although Oliver hopes to win and does not, both of his parents are very proud of his dancing ability.

After losing the talent show, Oliver is reluctant to go back to school and be teased and bullied again. Imagine his surprise and delight when he walks into the schoolyard and discovers that someone has crossed out the word "sissy" on the school wall and added a new word. Now the sign reads, "Oliver Button is a star!"

I love Oliver Button Is a Sissy. Since it was first published in 1979, parents and teachers have shared this picture book with children from four to 14. It helps children to get the message it's important for them to do what’s right for them despite teasing and other bullying. Children also begin to understand how important it is not to bully others for being different. Reading the book to your child is an excellent way to start a conversation about bullying.

However, what I like best about Oliver Button Is a Sissyis that it is a good story that engages children's interest. It is well written, with wonderful complementary illustrations. I highly recommend it, particularly for four- to eight-year-olds. I also recommend that elementary and middle school teachers include the book in any discussion of bullies and bullying. (Harcourt Brace & Company, 1979. ISBN: 9780152578527)

What books for kids or teens about bullies and bullying do you recommend?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Have You Ever Worked for a Family as They Moved?

My Lessons Learned About Moving With Kids

This has been one of the hardest weeks I ever worked as a nanny because the family I work for moved to a new house. Although the move is a positive change, all change is stressful and I pushed myself too hard and burned-out at times this week. Looking back over the past week here are a few lessons I learned about helping a family move into a new home.

I am not super woman:
The biggest mistake I made was trying to everything and anything to help the family in the new home. I am only one person who cannot do it all.

Focus on the kids:
With so much to do including: cleaning, unpacking, organizing, and following contractors around the home, I became overwhelmed and distracted from the care of the children. I am the nanny and must put the children first. Despite the immediate need to organize, clean, and do laundry, making the children comfortable and allowing them to have fun is always more important than having all of the laundry done. My housekeeping standards must take a back seat to the children as my main focus.

Keep a normal schedule with children:
Regular schedules help kids feel secure (and me too). It helps them know what to expect, a sense of order, and in control.

Welcome children's questions about moving:
Open lines of communication go a long way toward helping children feel comfortable when moving into a new home. No matter how irrational their fears may be, children need to feel validated, listened to, and understood. Just because I know there are no monsters in their new bedroom closets and that they will easily make new friends at school, that doesn't make their fears any less real or important to them.

Be positive and upbeat about the move:
I allowed myself to get overwhelmed this week and my stress level affects the kids. My attitude always affects the children's attitude. My new focus will be to be enthusiastic, upbeat, and positive about the new experiences and opportunities in store, so that the children will be more likely to feel the same way.

Let the kids help with the move:
Even before the family moved the children helped decide what items they wanted to keep, what to donate, and what to throw away. They started discussing how they wanted to decorate their bedrooms. This week, I allowed them to pull their toys out of boxes and choose where to put them in their new bedrooms. Assure kids that their contributions, however small, will be valued and greatly appreciated. Compliment them as much as possible.

Expect children's behavior to regress:
All change is stressful. Even good change is stressful. When children experience change it is completely normal for their behavior to regress. So, if the school-aged child gave up his stuffed animal to sleep with over the year, expect him to need it during and after the move. If the child stopped wetting the bed a few months ago, understand she might not make it to the potty each night. Understand that regression is normal and don't make fun of the child. For example, simply change and launder the wet bedding and move on with your day.
Have you ever worked for a family as they moved into a new house?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Arts N' Crafts for Apple Season

Apple Crafts to do With Kids

Now that it is apple season, Chris from Kids Crafts Magazine has posted some fun crafts you can do with kids using apples.

Apple Stamping
Cut an apple in half. Dip the cut side of the apple into paint and dab it on a paper towel to wipe off the excess paint if necessary, and then stamp it onto paper. You can experiment cutting the apple different ways for different ways, especially through the middle to make a star print. When the paper dries, you can use markers to outline the apples as a variation to the project. You can also use larger sheets of paper and use it for wrapping paper when the paint dries.

Here’s a little stamping tip: Fold a paper towel into quarters and lay it down in the middle of a styrofoam plate. Pour paint into the center of the paper towel. When the paper towel soaks up the paint it will act like a stamp pad. It wastes a little paint, but it’s also a little less messy.

Fingerprint Apple Trees
Use brown paint or a brown marker to make a tree trunk long-ways on a piece of paper. Dip your index finger in green paint and stamp it several times at the top of the trunk to make the tree. You’ll have to re-dip your finger several times. Dip your pinkie in red paint and stamp it on your tree to make the apples.

Hand Print Apples
Paint the palm of the child’s hand with red tempura paint and stamp it on construction paper. Wipe hands and paint the index finger with brown paint. Stamp the finger to make the apple stem. Wipe hands again and paint the tips of two fingers with green paint. Stamp the green paint on the base of the stem to make the leaf. Let everything dry. Once the paint is dry, you can draw a face on the apple, glue on wiggle eyes, or leave it just the way it is.

Apple Collage
Tear up a bunch of pieces of red paper and glue them onto the back side of a paper plate. Glue on a stem and a couple of leaves to complete the project. This is a great way to use up all those scraps.

More Challenging Apple Crafts:

Apple Beaded Safety Pin If the kids are into making beaded safety pin jewelry, then this is a really simple design for making an apple.

Dried Apple Crafts – This page gives you complete instructions for how to properly dry apples, then it outlines some really fun and pretty apple crafts that you can make with the dried apples. This is something my oldest and I plan to try this fall.

Apple Head Dolls These are much easier to make than you might think. This would be a great project if you can stretch it out a couple of sessions over a few of days.

Terra Cotta Apple This project would definitely be for kids who are a bit older, but it’s very cute. Basically, you paint a terra cotta pot and saucer red, put the saucer on top of the pot to make an ‘apple,’ and then add some leaves.

Apple Magnet This is a creative recycling craft for making an apple shaped magnet complete with a worm! I’d stay away from the finger polish idea, however, and just use the felt or fun foam. With a little supervision, you could also do this one with younger kids

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What Do You Love About Your Parent-Employer?

What Nannies Love from Their Employer-Families
By Candi Wingate, Nannies4Hire

You employ a great nanny. You want her to be happy in her job with your family. What can you do to ensure that she feels happy in her job?

  • Treat her with respect. Tell her periodically that you value her and all that she does for your family. Don’t undermine her authority in front of your children (if you want to redirect her behavior, do so in private, away from your children). Discuss any concerns you may have in an open, non-accusatory manner. After all, there may have been a good reason for whatever she did that initially caused you concern. Entrust her with basic decision-making about your children. Ask her opinion on subjects related to your children. Validate that she is an adult, not another one of your children.
  • Respect that she has a life outside of work. If she gets sick, her parents have an anniversary party, or she has other plans that may take her away from work on occasion, try to be understanding of reasonable, advanced requests for time off. If you are running late at work, don’t just assume that she will be available to stay later with your children: instead, ask her if she can stay late, and accept if she cannot. If she does stay late, ensure that you compensate her appropriately.
  • Don’t heap more work on her than you should reasonably expect her to perform. If she is watching one child, you may reasonably expect her to perform a little light housekeeping here or there. However, if she is watching four children, it may be too much to expect her to clean your house as well. If she tells you that she is feeling harried, respond promptly to that concern.
  • Do as you say that you will do and be timely. If you cannot do as you said you would, or you cannot honor a reasonable or agreed-upon timeline, explain to her why there will need to be a change. For example, if you told your nanny that you would let her access a family-provided car by June 1st, and then you find out that that timeline is not workable, let her know right away what the new timeline will be and why the timeline changed. For example, you might say, “We have had difficulty finding a quality used car for you, but we will keep looking. We are now shooting for August 1st, which is when the dealership says they are expecting to receive a new shipment of quality used cars.”
  • Provide her with her paychecks on the dates and times expected. For example, if paychecks are scheduled to be given every Friday morning, don’t make her have to ask you for her check when you come home from work on Friday evening.
  • Answer to her questions and respond to her concerns in a timely manner.
  • Understand that a working relationship between an employer-family and their nanny is a two-way street. Both parties to the relationship have to have their needs met in order for the relationship to be continued.
By following these tips, you can take steps to ensure that you will keep your great nanny for a long, long time!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What is Your Favorite Mess-Free Activity?

Mess-Free Finger Painting
By MaryAnne of mamma smiles =)

Here is a fun activity found on the mama smiles =) blog.
This activity is a super-simple way to let children finger paint without dealing with the mess! Use a plastic Ziploc bag (freezer works best, since the plastic is stronger), and add paint or a similar colored substance. We have used paint, shampoo, hair gel – you name it, and we have probably tried it. I think hair gel from the dollar store is our favorite texture! You can add food coloring or paint to the non-paint substances. I prefer to use washable paint, since the plastic bag can break, and it’s hard to get food coloring out of clothes – and even off of hands!

Put a sheet of white paper underneath to allow for greater contrast. I taped the edges down with masking tape. Painter’s tape would work just as well, and you could even use scotch tape, although that might be a bit more challenging to remove from the table.

Stabilizing the bag made it easier to control the paint, so that two children could play together, or one child could explore in greater depth.

Have you tried this project? Do you have a favorite mess free project to share with other nannies?

Monday, September 12, 2011

10 Things Nannies Don't Want to Do for Families

What Tasks Do You Resent Having to Do at Your Nanny Job?

Roxanne Portrer of asked us to share a clever article found on their blog, with our readers. Click here to see original article.

Working as a nanny since 1993 I have always ran personal errands for the parents, done laundry for the family, made the beds with the help of the children (until my charges are old enough to do it themselves), and  all the dishes. I am valuable to the parents because I help them as much as I can when they are at work. But, I know many nannies resent having to do some of the same chores that I have come to expect working as a nanny.

In the article the author explains to parents, "If you have ever hired a nanny, you know how easy it is for lines of responsibility to become blurred. Your nanny will often become 'part of the family' and it is easy to dump chores on the member of the family who is at home during the day. Everyone needs to remember why a nanny was hired in the first place, and that is to care for children. Below is a list of some of the more common instances where a nanny may be 'mis-employed.'"

  1. Excessive Housework – Depending on how many children a nanny is entrusted with and how old those children are two things that matter in dealing with the subject of housework. A nanny’s primary job is childcare; housework above-and-beyond trying to keep up with a child’s daily path-of-destruction should not be expected.
  2. Errand Service – Grocery shopping, dry-cleaning pick-ups and other related services go beyond normal expectations.
  3. Free Time – A nanny’s free time is personal, and should not be presumed upon by an employer.
  4. Cooking – A nanny may be required to prepare meals for the children she cares for, but cooking for an entire family would have to be considered an extra chore.
  5. Out-of-Pocket – There are often small expenses that a nanny has to pay for during the course of a day, whether it is a package delivery or a parking spot or a snack, but these expenses should not come out of the nanny’s own pocket. A petty cash supply should be made available to the nanny, as well as instructions on how the money is supposed to be spent.
  6. Referee – You hired your nanny to take care of your children, not to mediate family squabbles, so a nanny shouldn’t feel constrained to wear a striped jersey and carry a yellow flag and a whistle to work every day.
  7. Yard Work – Lawn care and gardening chores are not part of a nanny’s purview, and a nanny shouldn’t have to wield a rake as part of the work day.
  8. Laundry – Normal wash associated with childcare, such as diapers and towels and soiled clothing may be considered as a part of the job, but not laundry that accumulates during a nanny’s time-off or other family laundry.
  9. Schoolwork – If there are school-age children in the household, it is fair to expect that a nanny oversee homework assignments. But, [you shouldn't expect] your nanny to teach your child another language.
  10. Bed Making – A nanny is not a maid; a nanny is a caregiver. A nanny should not expect to come to work in the morning and have to make the beds, or wash the breakfast dishes.
Common sense, and a little bit of give-and-take are all that is required to ensure a good working relationship.

Are you expected to do many of the chores listed above at your nanny job?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

First-Graders Assure a Nation After September 11

Review of September 12th...We Knew Everything Would be All Right by Masterson Elementary students of H. Bryon Masterson Elementary School

September 12th...We Knew Everything Would Be All Right is a great book for children and adults. It delivers a message of hope in the wake of the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history. The authors and illustrators of the book are 18 first-grade students from the J. Bryon Masterson Elementary School.

Once Mrs. Robertson's class came up with a story, students worked in pairs and in groups, sketching pictures for each of the book's 29 pages. Then, they added color to their pencil drawings with bright crayons to create their vibrant works of art.

The young authors remind readers that the world did not end on September 11.

How did the kids know everything would be all right? Because “the sun came up and the birds started to sing again.” Because “we came to school the same way. We saw our teacher smiling at the door….2+2 still added up to 4…. “

“On September 12, our parents still tucked us in our warm, safe beds…we knew we would be all right because our parents said they loved us."

The first-graders recall the familiar and comforting routines of going to school the following day, being greeted by their teacher, playing at recess, and doing homework.

In the end, the book's message is simple. When things happen that are bad, small children want to know that the world is still safe. This is a poignant message of hope that reassures us all that even after bad things happen, tomorrow is a new day.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Will Your Charge's School be Honoring the Tenth Anniversary of 9/11?

If you ask anyone under 28-years old where they were on 9/11 when they heard about the terrorist attacks they most often say they were in school.

The goal of making the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks an age-appropriate teachable moment in American history is especially difficult for teachers in the Greater New York, Washington D.C., and near Shanksville, PA, areas, where the attacks hit home in an especially personal way for students. Click here for an article in which New York City teachers recall 9/11.

Today, my school-aged charges are asked to wear red, white, and blue to school and there will be a memorial service honoring those who were killed on 9/11 at their school.

Will the schools your charge's attend be having a special program or service in memory of 9/11?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Have You Spoken to Your Charges About 9/11?

Do Your Charges Know About 9/11?

As the tenth anniversary of 9/11 approaches children are learning about the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and of the passengers that tried to take control of a plane that crashed into a field to prevent it from reaching its intended target in Washington D.C..

War and terrorism are difficult subjects to talk to children about because they are not easy even for the parents or teachers to comprehend or accept. However, adults cannot completely avoid these topics with children and teens because they are exposed to them, whether we like it or not.

One of the most important things is to make sure that children know that they can talk to you, ask questions, and open up about their fears and other emotions. Children and teens need caring adults they can feel is concerned about them and that they can trust and be open with.

Here are some tips on how to talk to children and teens about 9/11. Click here to read the entire article.

1. Listen to children and express emotions together:
  • You can share your own emotions and concerns, but don't overwhelm the child.
  • If you don't know what else to say, give a hug and say, ”I know this is really hard for you and for me, but I still love you“.
2. Answer their questions:
  • Before answering, it is a good idea to ask children what they already know about the topic in question.
  • Be honest with your answers, but choose your words and explanations according to the child's understanding, and don't overload the child with too much information.
  • Try to give answers that give hope and faith and are reassuring, but again, don't lie or give false hope or unrealistic promises.
  • Be ready to answer the same question repeatedly. As has been found in several studies, even if parents do talk to children about difficult topics, children might later not remember it. So you need to have these discussions often. For a child, repeating a question might also be a form of getting reassurance.
  • You don't have to have all the answers. Its okay to say, "I don't know," but I will let you know as soon as I understand it better. The most important thing is that your children can feel you care about them.
3. What you can do at home:
  • Don't let elementary school children watch the news or read newspapers without your presence. It is even better if you can videotape the news broadcast beforehand, let the parents check it out, censor the parts they feel are inappropriate, and then watch it together with the children. Young children shouldn't really watch the news because it has so much violence.
  • You can also choose local news stations, which might contain less coverage of terrorism and war, and less news about murders and violent crimes. Videotape the news you want to watch yourself and watch them later, or just watch night news broadcasts.
  • Even teenagers can be shaken up and get worried by current news coverage and world events, so it is not safe to let them watch news without supervision either. Teens have enough to go through without overtly worrying about world circumstances.
4. Let children be children:
  • Childhood should be a happy time. Encourage them to play ball, climb trees, or ride their bike, instead of constantly watching news or reading newspapers.
  • Keep regular structure, routines, schedules, and familiar activities, which help children feel secure. Instead of watching TV, spend time with children in other ways and design some fun family activities.
  • Do something positive. Instead of concentrating on the people who died or all the violence, try to find something related that can be looked upon as a positive thing. For example, talk about the brave firefighters, policemen, and nurses who helped others during the 9/11 aftermath. You can study together what the American Red Cross or other charities did to help in the rescue work.
  • If you know a family where one member is deployed, help the family in some way where your charges can get involved. For example, offer to do a spring cleaning or take over some food.
Parents should seek outside help if their child shows a lot of physical stress symptoms or seems overtly preoccupied by violent play and games, or shows signs of suicidal thoughts. Also visit: Children and Fear of War and Terrorism from National Association of School Psychologists (NASAP).

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Are Your Charges Allowed to Walk Home Alone from School?

Very Few Children Under the Age of 10 Can Safely Cross the Street
By Andrea Flagg, Nanny

School is open and there are three schools all within three blocks of my home. Over the years there have been child pedestrian accidents in my town.

There were two horrible accidents in which children were hit by cars in my town. In one accident, a six-year old boy was walking along the busy main street with his mother when he spotted his friends on the other side of the street. He unexpectedly darted into traffic trying to reach his friends across the street. Sadly, he did not make it to the other side.

The other incident involved a nine-year old child that was walking along the street near the curb. A car struck him. Luckily, he suffered only minor injuries.

The following safety tips can be found at AAA of North Jersey and

  • Very few children under the age of 10 can manage safely crossing the street.
  • Children cannot judge speed, distance, or direction well and are easily distracted.
  • Young children think if they can see a car, that a car can see them. Children are shorter and smaller than adults and given the fact that there are so many SUV’S on the road today, many cars have a huge area in their blind spots.
  • Most children are struck by cars while in streets or driveways near their homes, when they run out between parked cars, walk along the edge of the road, cross the street in the middle of the block (not using a cross walk), or in front of a turning vehicle.
As nannies there are several actions we can take to protect children:
  • Behave properly when crossing the street in order to be a good role model.
  • Always use cross walks.
  • Always follow traffic rules (never cross against a red light).
  • Always hold the child’s hand while in parking lots, on sidewalks of busy streets, and especially when crossing any street.
As a driver we can help to avoid pedestrian accidents by:
  • Walking around your vehicle before getting in, to be certain no children are near before driving away. (SUV’s tend the have huge blind spots when backing up. To help improve your view, install stick-on convex mirrors, which will help maximize your side views).
  • Leaving extra time when traveling so that you are not tempted to speed or drive unsafely.
  • Eliminating distractions in your car, (as nanny I personally know how wild it can be at times with children on board, so children need to be taught proper behavior as passengers so you can focus on driving).
  • Never using a hand held cell phone while driving –- it is the law.
  • Using only one earpiece with a portable music player, when walking or biking so that you can hear oncoming traffic.
What we can teach children:
  • Not to cross the street alone if they are younger than 10-years old.
  • Stop at the curb before crossing, and when it is safe walk across the street; do not run. 
  • Cross only at corners, using traffic signals and cross walks or go to a corner where a crossing guard is on duty.
  • Look left, right, and left again before crossing. Keep looking for moving vehicles even while crossing the street since traffic can appear out of nowhere.
  • Walk facing traffic.
  • Make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them to help insure that they are aware of your presence.
  • Do not allow children play in driveways, streets, parking lots, or between cars.
  • Have identification with you and always wear reflective clothing at night.
Click here for questions to ask yourself, your charges, and the parents of the children you care for to help determine if they are ready to walk home alone.

With so many vehicles on the roads we need to prepare ourselves and the children, by teaching them to follow these guidelines, surely we will aid in avoiding pedestrian accidents.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Twin Towers Ten-Years Later

We are Writing Our Own Memorials Each and Every Day

I can best honor those who were lost by living my life to it's fullest, and not be consumed by anger, anxiety, or depression.

This week, as we approach the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the media will have endless documentaries about the massive terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and of the passengers that tried to take control of a plane that crashed into a field to prevent it from reaching its intended target in Washington D.C..

Despite the raw emotions I feel each and every time I hear about that day, I want to try to focus on the 2,996 casualties and the wonderful memorials of those that were lost as the tenth anniversary draws closer. So many people were murdered that day, that if I were to read just one obituary per day, it would take more than eight-years to read all the memorials. I can best honor those who were lost by living my life to it's fullest, and not be consumed by anger, anxiety, or depression over the attacks.

Then and now, I live and work figuratively in the shadow of the World Trade Center. The towers were not only a familiar landmark, but where friends, family, neighbors, and employers worked. Whenever a boy I cared for in the 1990's and I used to take walks we would point at the two towers. I would say, "Your mother and my brother work in the 11," and he would point at the 11 to show me he understood this is where his mother and my brother worked. (Eleven being the shorthand for the two towers).

In the months after that horrific day, as identities of those that were murdered were confirmed, local newspapers published heartfelt tributes and obituaries from family, friends, and colleagues. The memorials typically shared sentiments such as, "He was the greatest father, the most caring husband, and worlds nicest person," or "She was the best mother and daughter and the most giving person you could ever meet." Currently, when my charges visit their mother who works in a building on ground zero, (the spot where the World Trade Center and surrounding building were destroyed), they read lovely tributes and memorials in the building as well.

It is very hard to take any positive lessons from the memories of that day. But, a pivotal moment for me was when a childhood friend who lost her high school sweetheart, husband, and the father of her children on 9/11 said that being angry and anxious is a waste time. She explained that she just wants her kids growing up knowing they had a wonderful father. When she said that I finally realized it was time to focus on the wonderful memories of those lost, rather than being consumed by anger.

I hope in remembrance of the 9/11 attacks I can honor those who lives were lost by remembering that each day, in my personal life and working life, I am writing my future memorial. Each and every day I greatly affect the children I am helping raise working as a nanny. I want to share a loving and positive attitude with my charges. I hope that in 10-years, (and at a much later date in my obituary), my employers and charges can say, with only the slightest bit of hyperbole, "She was the best nanny in the world."

Where were you and what were you doing when you first heard the Twin Towers had been attacked?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Reusable Sandwich Wraps: Kid Konserve Food Kozies

Products Nannies and Au Pairs Love

We love helping kids become more environmentally friendly, even at school. Our favorite reusable lunch boxes are bento boxes. But, did you know there are eco-friendly wraps for foods too? Yep, our favorite reusable sandwich wraps are Kid Konserve Food Kozy

Stop using plastic baggies altogether when you stock up on these innovative reusable Food Kozies. You can wrap sandwiches, bagels and cream cheese, tortilla roll-ups, meat and cheese slices, apple slices, or whatever you want to wrap up for the kids for lunch. The Kozies also double as an on-the-go placemat! These Kozies make perfect refrigerator storage for blocks of cheese, cut meats, cut vegetables, or anything else you otherwise would store in plastic wrap, plastic baggies, or foil.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Nannies and Au Pairs are "Shadow Mothers"

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

Shadow Mothers: Nannies, Au Pairs, and the Micropolitics of Motheringby sociologist Cameron Lynne Macdonald examines the complicated personal relationships between working mothers and the nannies and au pairs that work in their homes.

The author examines what it means to both mothers and childcare workers to be a “good mother” and what it means to outsource some of this role. The author analyzes how the mother-employers chose a caregiver, a “shadow mother” to act in their place when they can’t be present. We have edited a review by Susan Sapiro about this book below.

Shadow Mothers: Nannies, Au Pairs, and the Micropolitics of Motheringfocuses on the delegating of “motherwork” – the physical and emotional tasks involved in caring for children. Since a large part of motherwork are these emotional tasks – soothing, stimulating, forging strong bonds – outsourcing these tasks can be controversial and challenge “the fundamental understandings of motherhood” and the idea of family.

One of the inspirations for the book comes from the authors personal caregiving experience. When she was 16, she was a summer babysitter/mother’s helper for a family. She had worked with the family for some time and had grown close to their children, especially the baby. One day, something happened that upset the baby and she reached for Macdonald for comfort, not her mother. Almost immediately, Macdonald was “frozen out” by the mother. Shortly after, the family paid her for the summer but let her go from the job. It wasn’t until many years later, as she started the research that became Shadow Mothers, that she understood the mother’s reaction and the complex emotions and relationships between mothers and their children’s caregivers.

The book has four sections:
  • the restrictions that influence the mother-caregiver relationship
  • how the mother-employers try to solve the contradictions between the conflicting “ideal mother” and “ideal worker” ideologies in their lives
  • the caregivers’ perspectives on their employers’ mother and management strategies
  • alternative mother-caregiver interactions
The professional mothers interviewed for the book are highly successful in male-dominant fields. Yet, even after having children they are put in the impossible position of having to be completely career-focused. At the same time, the mother-employers hold themselves to similarly high standards as mothers, insisting that they should be utterly child-focused. The women share the resulting tension from these competing expectations in both ambivalence about their careers, and in how they managed their relationships with their caregivers.

The caregivers that are interviewed are skilled workers who are frustrated that their jobs are seen by their employers, and society in general, as “unskilled,” “natural” family work. The author relates a number of situations in which the nannies often seem to place their young charges’ needs, and their own desire for recognition of their role, over their own financial needs.

Not surprisingly, the paid caregivers often have strong reactions to their employers’ management styles. Nannies and au pairs also believe in a different version of “good motherhood” which is often critical of their empolyers’ lives and mothering techniques. In the author's interviews with nannies and au pairs, the caregivers often yearn to be seen as a “third parent” in the family, a recognition the mother-employers are reluctant to give. In response, the caregivers use different strategies to either resist or succumb to their employers’ limits on their roles.

In the final chapter, the author explains that economic differences between upper- and middle-class mother-employers and their working-class nannies causes tension between the nannies and their employers. She believes that economic status was the basis of most of the conflicts between the mother-employers and nannies. As long as upper middle-class mothers continue to hire working-class caregivers, the mothers will need to accept that their children will be influenced by the class-based values of their caregivers, not only of their families.’

Friday, September 2, 2011

Do You Charge More When Working on a National Holiday Like Labor Day?

A nanny can charge more when her services are likely to be in higher demand, such as on holidays. We recommend you charge more than your usual rate if you plan to work this Monday, September 5, 2011 which is Labor Day.

Do you charge more if you have to work on Labor Day?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

September To-Do List for Nannies and Au Pairs

Avoid Slow Ears Syndrome
Slow Ears Syndrome is what I call it when children talk to me and I hear the words, but not the underlying meaning of what they are trying to say. Slow Ears Syndrome is also when I speak to my charges and they don't listen to me. Slow Ears Syndrome is when kids and their caregivers feel misunderstood.

A red flag of Slow Ears Syndrome is when you find yourself repeatedly asking your charges, "Why don't you listen to me?" and the child often whines, "But, I didn't hear you."

Another red flag is the same problem in reverse. Do you often hear your charges asking, "Why don't you listen to me?" when you thought you had heard them? This often happens when nannies are simply too busy multi-tasking when their charge is trying to talk to them.

I know my charges suffer from Slow Ear Syndrome when they are playing a board game, a computer game, or basketball outside when I try to speak to them. They simply aren't capable of multi-tasking. I need to make them stop playing for a moment, look me directly in the eye, hear what I'm saying, and repeat it back to me to ensure they hear what I have to say.

I know I suffer from Slow Ear Syndrome when I'm cooking dinner, the baby is hungry, and the older boys are trying to explain something that happened in school to me. I hear some of what they are saying but often miss the underlying  issues they are trying to share. Then, they boys complain I don't listen to them, because it's true, I didn't give them 100% of my undivided attention.

The September To-Do List is to actively listen to what is said to you by the children in your care. Pay attention to the words and and the tone of the children to better understand if they have underlying anxieties or problems.

Listening makes children feel worthy, appreciated, interesting, and respected. When we listen to children, we also act as a good role model for positive and effective communication.

September To-Do: Turn on your fast ears. Listen carefully and listen actively.