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   Play and Learn
                                     Volume 14 / Issue 1                              January / February
  Private Preschool
                                       Play and Learn
                                  PRESCHOOL NEWSLETTER                                           2006
McKinney, TX 75071

 Important Numbers
                                              The Art of Family Dinners
    McKinney Police                    Making Time to Connect With Your Children
    972-547-7600                                                By Jenny Rackley
                                           http://recipestoday.com/resources/articles/familydinners.htm
  McKinney North HS
                                  Family dinners are coming back into style. At least, that's what a recent New
    469-742-4300            York Times/CBS News survey reported.
   Scott Johnson MS               Surveyors asked parents: How many of the last seven nights did you eat dinner
                            together with your family? A full 46 percent said seven nights, and every family ate
    469-742-4900            together an average of five times a week. A previous survey done in 1979 indicated
                            that the average American family ate together only three nights a week.
    Vega Elementary
                                  Families today are pulled in many different directions. Kids may enjoy
     469-742-5100           extracurricular activities or being with friends. Parents may work outside the home,
                            sometimes long hours. Schedules for all family members may be varied and hard to
   Durham School Bus        coordinate. Because of this, while some families eat together daily, some share a
     972-542-8316           meal only on weekends or special holidays.
                                  Yet for those who decide to make a shared repast a priority, family dinners can
     Animal Control
                            provide a valuable time for teaching. They can give everyone a chance to unwind,
     972-547-7445           relax and talk together.
                                  Think back to what you remember as a child if you ever ate dinners together as
Emergency Animal Control
                            a family. I remember letting our dog eat the food I didn't like under the table. Kevin
    972-547-7600            Mikkelson remembers, "I learned to eat fast so I could get seconds first!"
                                  We seem to remember events or things we did, but forget the greater picture of
    McKinney Library
                            what really occurred at the dinner table. When we ate together, our parents taught us
     972-547-7323           many things. We learned to eat with utensils and with proper manners. We learned
                            about nurturing, giving and receiving – to accept the food that was earned, prepared
         SPCA               and brought to the table; to share that food and to share the work of preparation and
     972-562-7387           cleaning up.
                                  Our parents often talked about concerns they had or problems at work, and we
   Community Center         learned from observation ways to handle or resolve difficulties. We shared what was
    972-542-0045            important or troublesome, and at the dinner table there was usually an open ear for
                            children. We also learned about the give and take involved in conversation and
 School Facilities Rental   learned about respecting each other whether or not we agreed.
    469-742-4098                  Even if one wants to eat together as a family, it can be difficult to coordinate
                            schedules. "When I was a child, we not only ate dinner together, we ate breakfast
Abuse / Neglect Hotline     together," says Amy Mikkelson. "Now I see the importance of dinners together, but
    800-252-5400            it's not always practical. Our son, Daniel, often gets hungry about 5:30 or 6 p.m., and
                            during the week, Kevin doesn't come home from work until about 7. We can't wait for
       Licensing            him." The Mikkelsons say they eat together only on weekends.
     800-582-6036                                                                                Continued on page 3


                                                                                                          Page 1 of 5
                                     Fun Food Ideas to Make with Your Kids
     Coaxing children to eat can be difficult. Many would prefer to drink chocolate milk and skip meals altogether. Other
children won't eat anything green, or insist on munching hot dogs for breakfast. Stop mealtime battles by helping your
child make fun critter craft lunches.
Menu I -- Creepy Crawlers
     Ant Logs Is getting your child to eat veggies tricky? Watch in amazement as your child devours every bite of our Ant
Logs. To make the ant logs, have your child spread peanut butter across each celery and carrot stick with the knife.
Sprinkle raisin "ants" on top of the peanut butter. Press lightly on the raisins to make them stick. Arrange your logs on
plates.
     Cheesy Hot Dog Caterpillars Let these fun homemade caterpillars creep onto your dinner plates and into the hearts
of your children. Place hot dogs and cheese sticks on cutting board. Have your child cut the hot dogs and cheese in half
horizontally. (Always remember to supervise knife use by children.) For each caterpillar you'll need half a hot dog and half
a cheese stick, but you may want to add more meat and cheese for bigger appetites. Ask your child to cut the hot dog
and cheese halves into bite-sized pieces by again cutting horizontally. Place a hot dog piece onto a plate and create a
line by placing alternate slices of cheese and hotdog behind it. Your resulting "caterpillar" will be the length of an uncut
hotdog. Add feet by placing pretzel sticks perpendicular to the hotdog slices. Dot mustard on front hotdog to create eyes.
     Worm Dirt Surprise Your child will enjoy watching the family "dig" into these flavorful pots of soil.
     Place graham crackers in plastic bag. Zip the bag closed. Have your kids pound the graham crackers with fists to
make crumbs. (They'll love it!) Scoop ice cream into Styrofoam cups, leaving half an inch on top. Place a layer of graham
cracker crumbs over ice cream to create appearance of soil. Place gummy worms on top of soil. Did the children like the
Worm Dirt? Of course.
     MENU II -- Surf and Turf For Kids
     Ladybug Sandwiches Have your child spread the slices of bread with mayonnaise. (Always remember to supervise
knife use by children.) Arrange bread slices on plates. Place turkey slices on bread to make open-face sandwiches. Add
color by topping sandwiches with yellow cheese. Cut sandwiches into circular shapes with cookie cutter. Have an adult
cut the cherry tomatoes into halves. Let your child place the cherry tomatoes onto the bread (cut side down) to create the
ladybug's spots. Arrange pretzel sticks on sides of bread to create legs.
     Fishy Jell-O Cups According to the official Jell-O Web site, more than 1,134,239 packages of Jell-O gelatin are
purchased or eaten every day. But your children may be tired of plain Jell-O. Add an imaginative twist by plopping candy
fish into these blue Jell-O mini-lagoons. Have an adult prepare Jell-O according to package directions. Next, pour the
liquid Jell-O into clear plastic cups. Let your child add the fish and stir. Place the mini-lagoons in refrigerator until liquid
sets.


Winter Fun!
Winter is a special time for family moments. What do you remember from your childhood years? Playing outdoors
probably was in the top three! So get bundled up, gather the kids and fill their memories with some winter fun!

       Snow Painting - Here comes Picasso! This activity can be very creative and lots of fun. All you'll need are
      empty spray bottles. Fill them with water and add a few drops of food coloring (or washable tempera powder
      paint). Put rubber dishwashing gloves over your child's mittens and let your child spray art onto the snow. Play
      outdoor Pictionary or Tic-Tac-Toe. Can you figure out the drawings? Can you write letters?
       Bubbles - Have you tried bubbles outside in the winter? Let your child jump up and try to burst them. The
      bubbles stay a little longer because of the cold air.
       Obstacle Course - Set out some hula-hoops, old tires, boxes, toboggans and any climbing structures already in
      the backyard. Let your child run, jump, climb, slide -- remember not to let your child just stand around. Be
      especially cautious with climbing structures. Children who are dressed in bulky clothing for winter might not fit as
      easily as they would in shorts in the summertime.
       Bird Feeding Station - Set up a bird feeding station for your little bird friends. Try one or all of these: (a) Take a
      pinecone and spread peanut butter onto it; then roll the pinecone into birdseed. Hang it in a tree. (b) Have your
      child string O-shaped dry cereal on a piece of string. Tie a knot with both ends and hang it on a branch. (c) Take a
      clean milk jug and cut out an opening on the side have your child fill it with birdseed. Place it outdoors near your
      window or hang it on your roof. Count the birds that visit. Talk about the colors and the singing of the birds.
       Winter Wonderland Creations - Have your child draw a picture on a sheet of construction paper. Spread a thin
      layer of glue on top of her drawing. Using rick-rack (the wavy pieces of trim you get from fabric stores -- it's cheap
      and comes in white, silver, gold), cotton balls, swabs, rice and glitter, let her winterize her drawing.


                                                                                                                Page 2 of 5
Toddler Food Safety
What foods present a choking risk for children? Toddlers delight in feeding themselves. However, parents of young
children need to be cautious at the table.
Foods that are hard, round or difficult to chew can sometimes lodge in small airways, causing a child to choke.
To be on the safe side, consider the following advice on finger foods for children less than 3 years of age:
     Avoid giving hard, or difficult-to-chew-foods such as raw carrots and other crunchy vegetables, hard candy,
       lollipops, peanuts, and popcorn.
     Modify the shape and texture of firm foods. Cut grapes into quarters, hot dogs into fine sticks rather than
       round slices, chop apples and firm fruits into very small pieces, and cook carrots and hard vegetables until soft,
       then cut into small pieces.
     Keep an eye on small children when they are eating. Small children may eat in a hurry, stuff too much food
       in their mouths, or chew their food inadequately.
     To avoid injuries, children should not be allowed to run or play with food while chewing. Feed small
       children only when they are sitting down and are in a relaxed atmosphere. Train toddlers to chew their food
       thoroughly before swallowing.
     Learn Basic First Aid and Infant/Child CPR to be prepared to act in the event of choking because any food
       can be a choking hazard for a child.

                                                Inspiring Kids Helping Animals
                                  In February 2000, 10-year-old Stacey Hillman was reading a magazine about Police
                            Dogs needing bulletproof (and stab-resistant) vests. She thought that someone should
                            start raising money for the Police Dogs. So she went to her local Police Department and
                            asked Chief LaBrusciano if she could collect money there for the Police Dogs. He said yes!
                                  In February 2000, 10-year-old Stacey Hillman was reading a magazine about Police
                            Dogs needing bulletproof (and stab-resistant) vests. She thought that someone should
                            start raising money for the Police Dogs. So she went to her local Police Department and
                            asked Chief LaBrusciano if she could collect money there for the Police Dogs. He said yes!
      Finger Foods:
      Cheese stick,         To read more about Stacey, go to www.justgive.org/html/kidscorner/stacey.html.
      sliced banana,
   finger sandwiches

                                                                      The Art of Family Dinners Continued from page 1

    The family dinner is not a panacea. Just eating together doesn't make a dysfunctional family environment
functional. "I lived with my grandparents," says Shirley Clark. "I hated family dinners. My brother always competed for
food just to annoy me. My grandmother never had a kind word for anyone. My mother would occasionally be home
from work at dinnertime, and when she was, she was always critical of us."
How can you make the most of family dinners with your children?
       Remember that eating together doesn't have to mean cooking. Some families eat out together or bring home
        ready-made meals from a restaurant or supermarket deli. Another option is having dinner brought to your door
        – most pizza places and some other restaurants will deliver.
       Turn the TV off. Eating dinner together in front of the TV does little to foster family togetherness. Although
        certain TV shows are educational, when you watch them during dinner, you tend not to interact at all with your
        family members, and you diminish or lose the benefits that you gain by eating together.
       Watch your manners. Children learn by observation, and if you eat correctly and act politely, children will be
        much more inclined to follow suit.
       Treat your children and other family members with respect. Listen to their problems and concerns, even if they
        seem trivial to you. Don't offer advice on how to "fix" a problem unless invited to. Children sometimes respond
        well to knowing what you did in a similar situation, but often just want to talk, knowing you'll listen without
        comment. They need a chance to problem-solve and work out their own solutions to their concerns.
       Make it a point to establish a regular time to eat together. This can be breakfast or dinner, preferably daily. If
        you can't do it daily, eat together at least once a week.
       Find times that you can eat together unhurriedly. Enjoy the time that you have set aside to be with your family.

                                                                                                               Page 3 of 5
  Love is in the air!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
                         Page 4 of 5
                                       Calendar of Events

January, 2006
   Sunday           Monday          Tuesday       Wednesday        Thursday        Friday        Saturday
1              2               3              4               5               6             7
New Year’s
Day            CLOSED          CLOSED         CLOSED

8              9               10             11              12              13            14




15             16              17             18              19              20            21
MLK Jr b-day   Martin Luther
               King Jr. Day
               CLOSED
22             23              24             25              26              27            28




29             30              31




February, 2006
     Sunday         Monday          Tuesday       Wednesday     Thursday           Friday        Saturday
                                              1               2               3             4
                                                              Groundhog
                                                              Day

5              6               7              8               9               10            11




12             13              14             15              16              17            18
Lincoln’s B-                   Valentine’s
day                            Day                                            CLOSED

19             20              21             22              23              24            25
               President’s                    Washington’s
               Day                            B-day

26             27              28
                               Mardi Gras /
                               Fat Tuesday




                                                                                                 Page 5 of 5

				
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