St. Patrick's Day crafts and local activities

St. Patrick’s day is this week and we have rounded up a few fun baby/toddler crafts as well as links to some local Penninsula events to celebrate the holiday!

Scrap Paper Rainbow-  Gather some local scraps and practice color sorting/glueing skills with this fun craft.

 

Lepruchan Handprints- Have some fun with paint and capturing your little wonders tiny handprint.

 

Clover Leis-  This craft is mess free, and bonus helps little ones practice fine motor skills with stringing the lei.  If you don’t have straws on hand, pasta tubes would be a great substitute.

 

Check out Bay Area Parent for a round-up on detailed activities around the whole bay area, a few key events right here in the Penninsula to highlight.

Shamrock Shindig at Hillsdale Mall-  Thursday March 16, 4pm.  Event includes Irish dancers, custom contest, and crafts.

Hiller Aviation Museum- Lepruchan Skydive Saturday March 18, 10am-1pm (leprechaun skydive at approximatley 11am). 

 

 

 

 

 

Preparing your kids (and yourselves) for Daylight Savings

If you're like me, as a childless person you didn't think much about Daylight Savings (except perhaps to enjoy that extra hour of sleep in the Fall!), but as a parent it becomes a whole other ballgame. Kids don't care about the time on the clock changing, which can throw everyone's sleep off for days. Some of you may have been preparing for the change all week, gradually adjusting your little one's sleep schedule for a seamless transition—way to go planners! I tried that the first year and it backfired in spectacular fashion, so now we just kind of roll with the time change in our house and hope it works itself out (with varying degrees of success). If you haven't been planning ahead, here are some tips/game plans to help your little one adjust to Springing Forward tonight.

  • Pretend it didn't happen. Just change your clocks as you normally would but keep everything else the same—naps, bedtimes, meals, etc. happen at their "usual" time according to the new clock setting. Your kiddo might seem a little out of it or grumpy at first, but the more you stick to your routine, the faster they will adjust.
  • Control the light. If you don't already have blackout shades, I highly recommend them. We've had them since our little one moved into his own room and they are a lifesaver. I always had trouble going to sleep when it was light out as a kid myself, so I totally understand the impulse to fight back, and a dark and quiet room is a parent's best friend. Try bringing your kiddo into the bedroom earlier to adjust to the darkness and let his/her body trick itself into thinking it's night time.
  • Plan ahead. If you're reading this now, it's a little late to do this, but you can gradually change your child's sleep schedule by putting him/her to bed earlier in 10-15 minute increments each day.  If you haven't planned ahead, you could start this now, and take a few days to get to Daylight Savings. 

The most important thing is to be patient. Kids don't know how to tell time and have no idea what this whole Daylight Savings thing is anyway. It'll take a few days for everyone to adjust and get back on track, so cut yourselves some slack and hope for the best. And don't forget to set your clocks tonight! (Or just let your technology do it for you!)

Traveling with your Little Wonders

Ski week is upon us, and Spring break will be here before we know it. Now is the perfect time to consider taking a trip with your toddler! This is a road fraught with both stress and fun— much like the rest of parenthood. Here are some snippets of advice as you prepare to adventure with your Little Wonder.

What to Bring
Gone are the days of traveling light, my friend. Luckily, by this point, this should come as no surprise! Here are a few things that might not come to mind right away, but that experience shows should NOT be left at home:

1.Plans for a sick toddler
There’s nothing worse than your sweet-pea getting sick while you are on a trip—believe me, I know. Unfortunately, it happens. Luckily, you can plan ahead to mitigate the awfulness! Take a few of the basics with you: your insurance card, your pediatrician’s contact information, a thermometer, infants’ or children’s Tylenol, saline nose drops or wipes, a pack of tissues. If you have room and know that you are going somewhere with dry air, you might also consider taking a portable humidifier. If you are going somewhere new, consider looking up local pediatricians ahead of time in the event that you need to see a doctor in person. It is much less stressful to research pediatricians and urgent care options when your baby isn’t suffering from a seal-like cough at 2am in Mexico City … for example ...

2. Food for the “road”
You know your toddler is going to want a “nana” and yogurt just when there are no bananas or yogurts in sight, right? And that you’re going to hit traffic, or flight delays, or SOMETHING that keeps you in travel mode for an hour or two longer than you anticipated, right? And that you and your SO are also going to get hangry at some point while traveling with a toddler, right? Good, now that we’ve clarified that, PACK LOTS OF SNACKS FOR EVERYONE for travel day. My secret weapon is small cans of tuna with crackers -- protein and carbs, plus their shelf life is looooong if they don’t get eaten on this trip.

3. Diversions
Take more than you think you need. Make a list of what and where they all are so that when you hit hour five of close confinement, your brain doesn’t just implode with the next round of toddler squeals. (I say this as a pretty darn patient mom.) Some inexpensive suggestions include:

  • Sticky notes (less sticky than stickers, still lots of fun!)

  • Large pom-poms (big enough not to be choking hazards, fun to sort)

  • Window clings (sticky, but non-staining things that are fun on windows)

Teacher Mireille also recommends wrapping all of your diversions in wrapping paper—the extra step makes each item more fun (and more time consuming to open!).         

4. Back-up toddler transportation
Sure, those little feet want to go, go, go, but you need something for when they don’t want to go, go, go where you do! An umbrella stroller doesn’t take up too much room, nor does a baby carrier (e.g. Ergo, Beco, Tula …).

What NOT to bring
1.ALL of the diapers/wipes you will need
Unless you’re going camping or will be somewhere rural where they don’t sell diapers for some reason. I use cloth diapers at home, but have had no trouble buying disposables when traveling. I buy enough diapers and wipes for travel day and maybe a few days after, then figure I’ll be going to a grocery or drugstore for something once we’re settled in at our destination anyway. The fewer things to lug around on travel day, the better!

2. ALL of the snacks
Will there be food at your destination? If the answer is no, I struggle to understand why you are going there … unless you’re camping, in which case that makes sense and more power to you for camping with a toddler! Unless you are going out into the wilderness, or unless you have a food allergy to take into account, you can and should find food to try at your destination. There are children everywhere, and they all need to eat. You can buy and try the local crackers, yogurt, milk, fruits, veggies, etc. that are consumed by the toddlers at your destination, and that way you don’t need to fill up your suitcases with your own food from home. (More room for clothes, toys, and souvenirs!)

Flying
1.Buy a seat for your toddler
If you are not completely put off by the idea of paying full price for your toddler to have his or her own seat, I cannot recommend it highly enough. (Of course there isn’t a choice once your kiddo hits age two—I’m talking lap-eligible kidlets.) Yes, your toddler will likely end up in your lap or in the aisle or somewhere else weird at different points in the flight. But take-off, landing, nap time, and turbulence? The safest place for your mini-me is strapped into a seat using an FAA-approved car seat or FAA-approved Child Harness Device (CARES). For more information on FAA-approved restraints, see https://www.faa.gov/passengers/fly_children/ 

2. Check bags
The last thing you need is something else to lug around while you are trying to chase down your toddler in an airport. Take what you need for one day and one night in your carry-on, and check the rest. If the airline loses your bag, you can make due with slightly stinky clothes until they find it or you buy replacements. Just make sure your toddler’s favorite toy isn’t in the checked bag … just in case.

3. Board early … or not
There are definitely two camps on this one. On the one hand, boarding early allows you and your toddler to get yourselves and all of your gear settled in without the hassle of every other member of humanity trying to shove things in bins and under seats. You can strap in your FAA-approved carseat, take your little one for a diaper change or potty break, and engage entertainment round one before the aisles are full. If you are travelling alone with your toddler (i.e. one adult, one toddler), family pre-boarding is practically a must. However, if you are traveling with a second adult, you might consider skipping the pre-boarding … partially. Send one adult ahead with as much gear as possible. Have Adult A set up the carseat, load up the rollerboard into the overhead bin, and start making snacks accessible. Adult B continues to run toddler around the gate area as long as possible. Toddler then needs less running around once on the plane and is more content to sit and be entertained in other ways. (Of course, if you get anxious about being late or planes leaving without you … this probably isn’t the plan for you.)   

Hopefully this has been a useful (or at least entertaining) read as you prepare for your trip. We would love to hear your travel stories and other helpful tips when you return from your own toddler adventure! Bon voyage!

 

 

Rainy day activities for you and your Little Wonder

Happy New Year everyone!

We're in for some wet weather in the Bay Area this week, and when the weather outside is frightful, sitting cooped up in the house all day with an active toddler can turn into an extreme exercise of patience for both of you, especially after a few rainy days in a row. Keep the winter blues away with a few new rainy activities this winter.

 

Winter art activities

Potato Stamp Snowmen – Cut potatoes make great paint “stamps” for little hands.

What you need: White or gray paint, colored construction paper, potato, small plate, crayons/markers Directions: Cut potatoes in half, pour a small amount of white paint onto a plate. Have your toddler place the cut side of the potatoes into the paint and then “stamp” circles onto their paper to create a snowman shape. Use crayons or markers to draw a top hat, scarf, and scenery.

Sparkle scenes – Nothing is more fun than dumping, shaking, and brushing, until your toddler shakes all the excess off to reveal the sparkling picture underneath!

What you need: Glitter, glue stick or white glue/paint brush, paper, crayons/markers Directions: Using crayons or markers draw outlines of bells, trees, snowmen, or other fun and simple shapes. Let your toddler use a glue stick, or a paint brush dipped in glue, to “color in” the outline and then shake glitter all over the glue. The more the better! Lift the paper to shake off the excess into a collection plate or bowl, repeat.

Baking together

Choose simple recipes that allow lots of dumping, mixing, and topping for your toddler. Make sure you keep a small bowl for “tastes!”

You can measure, then hand the cup over to your baker to dump into the bowl. Explain what you’re doing, and take the opportunity to talk about kitchen safety as well. Before your treats go into the oven - have your toddler sprinkle with a topping like mini-chocolate chips, sprinkles, oatmeal, or cinnamon sugar.

Build an obstacle course

Set up pillows, blankets, couch cushions, and those empty Amazon boxes to create an indoor obstacle course. Have your toddler run around obstacles, climb over them, and even jump into soft piles of pillows and blankets. Great way to get some energy out on days where the kids are cooped up inside.

Dance party

Put on some tunes, dress up in some silly clothes, pull out musical instruments or make your own from spoons and bowls. While away the minutes dancing like there’s nobody watching and encourage your little one to wiggle the rainy day blues away.

Build a reading nest

Throw a bunch of blankets and pillows onto the couch or floor and create a big, cozy “nest.” Have your child choose some books and snuggle up in your special nest to read. If your child enjoys looking through books on their own, bring your book along and model a lifetime love of reading while next to your child as they look through theirs.

Get out the galoshes

The rain doesn’t have to mean you stay inside all day! Take advantage of the fun environment outside. Bundle everyone up and go on a nature walk around your yard, your neighborhood, or your local park.  Let your little one enjoy some fun stomping in puddles and exploring the wonders of a rainy day, explain the rain, talk about clouds, look at the wet leaves of plants, catch raindrops on your tongue. Rain can be magical for little ones.

Rainy Day Outings

When it’s been raining for days on end, even the most amusing indoor activities start to feel a little stale. Take advantage of our great local resources while staying dry.

CuriOdyssey at Coyote Point

San Mateo Library Storytimes

Burlingame Library Storytimes and Activities

 

Slowing down to enjoy and create traditions

Family traditions grow out of fun activities that are repeated and enjoyed over time. They can be anything from daily, to monthly, to annual traditions. When we think of traditions, most of us may immediately think of “holiday” traditions, but we shouldn’t limit ourselves to traditions just at the holidays. Young children learn and thrive from repetition which is part of the reason they love traditions and rituals. How many times have you read the same book over and over? Or, does your child want to say goodnight to all his/her animal friends every night in the same way? We might tire of the repetition, but young children need the routine and ritual to feel safe and secure.  Ritual also helps children understand their role in the family and gives them guidance as to what is expected. Ritual creates a special bond between us that helps strengthen our relationships. A great example of that is a ritual shared by one of our Little Wonders teachers and her daughter… every night her daughter waits to hear all the ways that mom loves her, which culminate with what mom loves best … her hugs and kisses.

I’m sure you’ll all agree that mealtime with young children can often be challengingIn our family, we enticed our children to come happily to the table by having them each take turns bringing a “centerpiece” to the table. This wasn’t a centerpiece like adults think of, but rather anything they wanted to share a meal with … sometimes it was a truck or train, but most often it was the favorite stuffed animal of the day! For several years they enjoyed having their favorite friend preside over our meal. Granted this is not a tradition that went too far, but it was useful for its time. It’s been replaced by my husband’s tradition to have a candle lit, in memory of those who are no longer with us, any time we sit down to the kitchen table. 

My point is that rituals and traditions are important for many reasons.  Some may work for a while, others may pass through generations. Some come from the families we grew up in, some from religious backgrounds or practices and some we’ve made up because of particular likes and dislikes or because of a need.  Some we may hear from someone else and try! 

I’d like to share a few of my favorite holiday traditions. They helped to strengthen our family bonds and create our family identity. Maybe you will choose to try one or two!

Our family’s favorite holiday tradition revolves another one of my passions … books! I started out getting a holiday book every year and reading it the children on Christmas Eve. I would always write something inside the cover and mark the year. After a few years I realized that we had a good number of holiday books and decided to put them away during the better part of the year and bring them out again at the holidays. The children were so excited and had a renewed interest in their books when the box came out as the holidays approached, that I decided this would become a holiday tradition. We would sit around the living room with the fire going and take turns reading the books throughout the holiday season. It became a very special family time and time to reflect on the many wonderful messages in the books! The books got packed up with all the holiday decorations and we’d all look forward to the following year’s book. This went on until our children were 21 and 18 and at that point we decided to take this tradition in another direction. Since then we have taken our favorite holiday books to local shelters or schools around the holidays and had fun reading them to other children. It’s been really fun watching our grown children delight in sharing their favorite books.

Have you ever wondered what to do with all those great photo cards you get for the holidays?  Because I’m such a photo lover, I decided to cut out the photos and put them all in a holiday photo book that I added to every year. Like the holiday books, this was put away with the holiday decorations and then taken out each year and left on the coffee table. Our children still enjoy looking back through years of photos of family and friends.  Seeing photos of their friends from years ago often brings up many warm and special memories we relive with fondness.

Lastly, because we wanted to encourage the spirit of giving we baked cookies and breads for all our neighbors every year. When the children were little we’d deliver them with the kids in our red wagon on Christmas morning. The elderly in our neighborhood delighted in seeing the children and were always happy with the goodies. The children felt good about sharing and making others happy. This tradition also morphed after our children grew up and left home. I found that baking without my kids was not as fun so decided to make a change. For the past few years we have been hosting a neighborhood holiday party, which turns out to be more work but also more fun for everyone and it really encourages a sense of community. It has become something many neighbors look forward to and also share with the new residents that move in. The community we have built in our little neighborhood is amazing!

Hopefully you’ll be able to use one or two of these with your families to make the holidays more meaningful, no matter what your beliefs. Get creative and adapt or combine any of these to suit your family. Most of all enjoy the time with your children and create many happy memories. 

Happy tradition creating! Please feel free to share your favorite traditions so our community can get more ideas.

Mireille McKee

A message from Mireille

Welcome to the new and improved Little Wonders website! We are almost 2 months into our fall 2016 school year and our tech team led by Jessica Yang has been very hard at work. We are all very grateful for their expertise, time and creativity at getting this website launched so quickly. 

Little Wonders is an amazing community of parents, all of which help to run this school. Our awesome tech team has taken on the task of revamping our website so all our current families along with those looking in to Little Wonders will enjoy an easy to use, mobile friendly, and easily accessible website.

For those of you checking us out we hope you enjoy the sight and can get all the information you need. Little Wonders does have spaces for children who were 3 months to 3 years as of September 1st, 2016 so please do think about joining our community. Check out the class information and the class schedule to see where you and your child might fit best.  

Our staff and board have chosen the theme, “Keeping Families Connected” and we are well underway with building our classroom communities and connecting families as well as facilitating discussions that will help keep your own family units well connected. 

This parenting journey is filled with amazing adventures along with bumps in the road and challenging detours and we are so grateful to be here to support you all. 

Parenthood is a life-changing process that continues throughout a lifetime. This travel through parenthood not only shapes our children’s lives but also redefines ours. My hope is that we take advantage of all the opportunities at Little Wonders to openly discuss experiences, joys, and concerns. There certainly is a bond of common understanding experienced by parents who are going through similar stages of parenthood. I hope your time here can be both tremendously supportive as well as helpfully enlightening as you navigate this most important journey.

With our new website in place we hope to facilitate many more conversations that will help support and keep you all connected.

Warmly,

Mireille

Good Eggs - $20 Off Groceries + 10% to Little Wonders

UPDATE! Thank you LW families for earning our school $140 in just the first week of our Good Eggs promotion. Keep shopping!

Good Eggs is offering Little Wonders families a discount AND the opportunity to give back 10% to the school October-December!

All you need to do is . . . 
1. Order your groceries at goodeggs.com 
2. For $20 of FREE groceries on your next order AND automatic enrollment in the fundraiser enter the code LITTLEWONDERS at checkout
3. Enjoy your delicious groceries and support Little Wonders by continuing to shop through December.

More about Good Eggs: 
Good Eggs is an online market that's making it easy for busy families to eat well at home by curating a marketplace full of the best local, organic produce, sustainable meat and fish, and delicious grocery staples. Order your groceries today on our site or iOS app, and they'll be on your doorstep tomorrow. It's that simple.

Brand New Website

Our new website is live! Check out Mireille's introductory blog post as well as some fun posts about Fall activities to do with your Little Wonders! Also, our WonderWords newsletter is now a blog format. The password for the login-required pages is Wonders16.

This has been a tremendous undertaking with active participation from many many members of the Little Wonders community. A big thank you to the Little Wonders 2016-2017 Technology Team for their time and dedication to turn this project around in a short 7 weeks!

Curt Watt -- Thank you for the heavy lifting on the techie side with our DNS transfer to Google Domains, troubleshooting the domain connection issue, and working thru the cut over. Without you we couldn't have flipped the switch. Qi Zhang -- Thank you for all of the web site and web page development. Our Development team will have you to thank for the cash that rolls in! Brian Foley -- Thank you for kicking us off on the information architecture design, the creation of the global footer and your responsiveness throughout this build and deployment process. Your insights on accessibility and your championing the user's perspective have been invaluable. You gave us the kick in the pants to get this complete before November's giving Tuesday! Amy Connors -- Thank you for your deep and detailed knowledge around how Little Wonders ticks and SO much more. We couldn't have gotten this far this quickly without your active engagement and experience. 

Ika Muljadi -- Thank you for your help on consolidating and slimming down the FAQs. Ling Zheng -- Our new site analytics and performance are in your hands. Jessica Yang -- Technology Director who lead this team to delivery.

We also want to thank the following individuals for their contributions and support to this project: 

Mireille McKee - Thank you for ongoing support of me personally throughout this process. I really appreciated your attendance and participation ensuring the content is accurate and clear. 

Stacey Klausner - Thank you for your support and for giving the technology team the freedom to run with this project!  Lisa Mumbach - Thank you for the design, style guide and beautiful color palette to play with.  Eva Kam - Thank you for the banking info so that we can start making money thru the new site through the sale of physical goods.  Susan Kuo & Lisa Warren - Thank you for setting up the Amazon Associates account as well as the other digital promotions so that we can start getting some money contributed for our community's purchases. Jeanne Rodriguez & Stephanie Zheng - Thank you for your detailed review and feedback on the website content and usability during our final week. The feedback you provided have been excellent and we have integrated it into the final production.

The Preschool Decision - Thursday, 7:30

Although we are just beginning our school year, those of you with older children are already thinking about next year! In order to ease your minds and help you navigate the preschool decision, Teacher Mireille will present an optional class on just that, “The Preschool Decision,” on Thursday November 10th, (note date change) 7:30-9:30 in the Youth Room. The class will cover important factors in making your decision as well as names of a few different types of programs in our area. This evening will also include time for parents to share what they have observed and learned while doing their research as well as time for questions and answers. The goal of the evening is to help parents feel more informed, confident and relaxed when approaching this decision.

Halloween Party

Special thanks to our FABULOUS Halloween Co-Chairs, Tina Truong and Lisa Morse, and their Halloween committee team. We'd also like to thank Margot du Manoir and the Halloween Food and Beverage Team. This was an incredible team effort and together they managed to pull off an EXCELLENT event! Mina Fisher and Susan Kuo once again at the helm helped to coordinate not only a fun event but some very successful fundraising.

A VERY special shout out to Tina's dad, Bill Pastorelli, who was very instrumental in the transport of all Halloween Supplies both from our storage unit to the school as well as from the school back to storage. His help was incredibly valuable and we are very grateful!

We also want to acknowledge all the behind the scenes work done by our treasurer team, payments and invoice team. There has been a great deal of time and work that most don't see but that we could not function without and are grateful to you all...Amy Connors,Rose Yeun, Amy Radovich, Eva Kam, Ava Campos,Stacy Oswalt and Tatiyana Akers.

Check out photos from the Halloween party by following this link. You will be redirected to Shutterfly and can access the photos. See the announcements email for passwords. You are welcome to download and share the images. If you print any photos on Shutterfly Little Wonders will receive 10% of your purchase as a fundraising donation

This year's families were voted MOST CREATIVE by the staff and we appreciate YOUR efforts and generosity. THANK YOU!

This Week's Announcements

Please be mindful of our health policy. Keep children at home if they are exhibiting signs of illness for the first 4 days of a new symptom. This does include diarrhea. San Mateo County has a number of stomach bugs reported and we hope to keep our kids and school healthy! Also a reminder that the best way to stay healthy is to wash our hands. PLEASE wash your hands and your children's upon arrival each time you come to Little Wonders. It is also recommended to wash on your way out, leaving germs here and not in your child's mouth or eyes as they get tired and put fingers in their mouth or rub their eyes. WE appreciate your cooperation.

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Fall Scavenger Hunt & Craft Activities

Fall is officially here; the air is getting crisper and days are getting shorter which provides the perfect opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy these nice afternoons.  My son loves being outside all the time, so I am always on the hunt for new fun things to do to spice up our activates.  I recently did a historical scavenger hunt while on a business trip in NYC and had so much fun, which inspired me to think about fun ways to do a toddler based scavenger hunt.

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Halloween for Little Pumpkins

Halloween can be one of the most fun nights of the year for boos and ghouls of all ages. Once our kids are old enough to eat candy (in moderation, and at parental discretion), trick-or-treating can be a fun choice. But what about early on, when candy poses a choking hazard and walking is still a BIG DEAL (or a future aspiration)? Here are some ideas for making Halloween a great experience for our littlest pumpkins.

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This Week's Announcements

Mandatory All School Meeting - October 20, 6:15 - 9:15

Save the date and arrange the babysitters! Come to Kloss Hall at 6:15 p.m. to peruse stations hosted by past and current Little Wonders families who are sharing their products and services at the Parent-to-Parent Networking event. Refreshments and prizes provided. Please alert your teacher if you are not able to attend this required evening as there will be a makeup option.

Development News

We have so many fun opportunities coming for you to support YOUR school!

Tea Collection School Days starts next Wednesday October 12. Shop TeaSchoolDays.com and use our special code, SDF16LITTLEWONDERS to shop all the adorable Tea Collection apparel! You get 15% off your purchase and free shipping; Little Wonders gets 15% back from all the purchases made with our promo code. Be sure to share that code!

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Defining Your Village

You have heard it said, “It takes a village to raise a child.” This ancient African proverb has been famously used by school teachers, politicians, spiritual leaders, and parents. But what does it mean? For starters, it implies that it requires more than two parents to equip a child with the competence, character, and self-sufficiency required for a child to grow into a human being who can meet his or her own needs and contribute to society. It also suggests that we are wired to live in communities and that intergenerational relationships within and outside the family are needed for productive child-rearing. Raising a child is a communal effort.

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