Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sidewalk Paint

Ah, it's May. It's time to go outside and have some fun. And here's something fun: Sidewalk Paint!

You've all bought sidewalk chalk, and you know how much fun kids can have with it. Up the wow factor by letting them paint on the sidewalk. Here's the paint recipe:

1/4 cup of corn starch per paint color
1/4 cup of water per paint color
5-10 drops food coloring per paint color

Put these ingredients in paper cups and stir. Stirring is a great job for preschoolers. It takes a while to stir each paint color because the corn starch doesn't want to break up at first. Don't make the paint ahead of time; you have to use it right away so it doesn't firm up. See if you can find big, chunky paint brushes for painting with this stuff. It's much more satisfying than using little watercolor paintbrushes.

When you're done painting and everyone has gone home, you can clean up the sidewalk paint with your garden hose. Have fun!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Rising Childcare Costs

Childcare has never been cheap, but it may be more expensive now than it has been in the past. According to the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA), childcare costs have increased twice as fast as median income in New York since 2000. For many families, childcare has become cost-prohibitive, and they must look for alternative methods of caring for their children.

Many families have found that babysitting co-ops are a great no-cost alternative to traditional daycare. Although most co-ops don't cover enough shifts to provide childcare for a full 40-hour work week, they can be used as a partial childcare solution or as total solution for parents who work part-time or run their own businesses out of their homes.

For more information on babysitting co-ops, check out our Co-op 101 section, or fee free to contact us.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Positive Reinforcement

You know those days when the kids you're caring for just seem to want to be bad? Maybe the weather just changed or a holiday is coming up. Whatever the reason, there are days when the kids will look to the ringleader (you know who it is), just waiting for an excuse to do something they know they shouldn't do.

When it's one of those days, pull out a handy tool we call Positive Reinforcement. It may not work immediately, but then again, it might.

Here's how it works. The kids know they're not supposed to jump on the couch, but one of them (the ringleader, who might just be your own child) inches her way up onto the arm of the couch and looks at the others mischievously. Her adoring fans egg her on, inching themselves up into jumping position. If you don't act fast, they'll all be jumping on that couch within seconds, and you'll have to dish out timeouts right and left.

Just in the knick of time you see which child is behaving. It's Luke. "Oh wow," you say. "Look how well Luke is behaving. I'm so proud of you, Luke." The would-be jumpers will look to see exactly what Luke is doing. He's standing with two feet on the floor playing with the Duplo blocks. Somebody will jump down off the couch and stand next to Luke and possibly even pick up a Duplo block (hopefully not the one in Luke's hands). You gush, "Ava's behaving so well, too. Great job, Ava!" Before long, they're all off the couch, playing with toys, and timeouts were successfully avoided.

Has this method of re-directing worked for you? Do you have any other good ideas for changing a rambunctious dynamic during your co-op shifts?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Homemade Flubber

Last weekend I took my daughter and her friend to Claire's, their favorite store in the whole world. They found a bottle of stuff labeled, "Intergalactic Ooze." I wasn't too sure about introducing such a questionable substance to my house, but they had enough of their own money to pay for it, so they bought it. I have to admit, it's pretty fun stuff, but then I found some recipes for homemade oozy substances that have the potential for keeping kids (and adults) busy for a long time. Here's a recipe for homemade flubber:

Two cups Elmer's glue
Food coloring
4 tablespoons Borax
Warm water

Mix 1 1/2 cups of warm water, the glue, and the food coloring (as much or as little as you want) in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the Borax with 1 1/3 cups of warm water. Pour the glue mixture into the Borax mixture, but don't mix or stir them together. The flubber will form on its own, and watching it form is half the fun. If it has trouble mixing on its own after 10-20 minutes, go ahead and give it a little help with a spoon. Store it in plastic baggies (no need to refrigerate). It seems to get better with time, so pull it out after a couple of days, and it will probably be stretchier and bouncier. You can stretch it and shape it, roll it into ropes, and bounce it like a rubber ball. Fun stuff!