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Blog

Easy Summertime Smoothie Popsicle Recipe

Summer is upon us which can mean two things for parents: we need to beat the heat and we need to find new, easy ways to keep our kids busy and learning. Popsicles are a summer staple that nearly every kid (and adult!) loves. This smoothie popsicle recipe is quick, easy, and sure to entertain them and keep them cool on a hot day. The kitchen is a great place to build upon their math and reading skills by measuring and following a recipe. Then, they will get to enjoy a yummy, cold treat after their hard work.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 ½ cups any frozen fruit

⅔ cup yogurt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Water

Blender

Silicone Mold

Popsicle Sticks

Begin by placing the frozen fruit, yogurt, sugar, and lemon juice in your blender. You can use any frozen fruit you like. There are so many different combinations you can try; peaches, strawberries, strawberries and bananas, or a berry blend. We used a blend of mango, papaya, and strawberry for our popsicles.

Start blending your fruit mixture. Add water as needed until everything is blended together. Your fruit mixture will need to be somewhat pour-able. Pour the mixture evenly into your silicone mold.  

Place it in the freezer for 30-40 minutes until they are just beginning to set. Remove the mold from the freezer and place the popsicle sticks directly in the middle of each well.

Place the mold back into the freezer for another 1-2 hours or until completely frozen. Carefully remove each popsicle from the mold to enjoy!

What fruit combination would you love to try? Share your favorite summer treats with us! We would love to see photos of the popsicles you create this summer. Share them with us by tagging our Facebook page! @thepreschoolbox

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Blog Charitable Causes

Partner with Us to Help Fight the Covid-19 Crisis in India

Donate Here:

https://fundraisers.giveindia.org/fundraisers/the-preschool-box-gives-back

The Coronavirus pandemic is no stranger to the spotlight. In fact, for the past 14 months, it’s been the topic of conversation and debate on a global scale.  And while some countries are seeing a shift back to “normalcy”, other countries continue to struggle with the impact that Coronavirus has had on its citizens.  For many in the US, the question now is, “How can we help in areas of greatest need?”. Here at The Preschool Box, we want to shed light on a particularly dire situation and provide an opportunity for those who are willing and able to step up to make a positive impact in others’ lives.

India is currently experiencing a second wave of Coronavirus outbreak that is putting a strain on an already struggling economy.  Each day, the government reports more than 300,000 new infections, a world record. (As Covid-19 Devastates India, Deaths Go Undercounted, 2021) Experts, however, believe that even those numbers may not represent the full scope of affected individuals. On top of that, India has seen its death toll reach over 180,000 since the pandemic began. (Covid-19 in India: Why second coronavirus wave is devastating, 2021) Unemployment, Homelessness, and Hunger are ever increasing concerns for much of the affected areas of India.  Organizations such as the Khanna Chahiye Foundation are stepping up to meet the immediate needs of the hungry.  They have started a citizen led campaign in March 2020 through GiveIndia to allow people like us, who may not be able to make a direct impact overseas, to do our part to lessen the impact this second wave has had on the people of India.  The campaign focuses on providing meals for homeless, migrant workers, daily wage laborers, and other vulnerable populations in the city of Mumbai. (KhaanaChahiye: Mumbai is battling hunger along with Covid-19. Again., 2021)  According to the information provided on the fundraiser page, they have established a network of 15 NGO partners (Non-Governmental Organization), 20 kitchen partners, and over 250+ citizen volunteers working to meet the demand for the 20,000+ meals daily across Mumbai for those affected by a sudden pause in economic activity.

 Hospitals in India are also in dire need of life-saving equipment like Oxygen Cylinders and ventilators.  A second GiveIndia fundraiser is aiming to provide oxygen to help India breath again.  Donations raised through this fundraiser are helping to directly support patients affected by COVID by:

·         Setting up oxygen generation plants

·         Providing oxygen concentrators

·         Providing and refilling oxygen cylinders

·         Providing ventilators

(Provide oxygen to help India breathe again, 2021)

            For many of us, we are well aware of the vast number of charitable causes we can contribute to.  Sometimes, it is super easy, like rounding up your bill at a fast food restaurant or dropping coins in the container at your neighborhood convenient store.  Other times, it takes the conviction of seeing or hearing about unimaginable situations in places you have never even been to open your heart to donate.  I cannot imagine not being able to feed my children and my family.  But many in India are experiencing just that.  Whether it is due to food shortages, unemployment or in many cases… both, the people in India need help.  We are writing this post to do several things. One, to bring awareness to the situation in India so that at the very least, those of you reading this will share with others the devastation that is happening in India and to offer up your thoughts and prayers for those affected. But more importantly, we hope that you will consider donating to one of the many causes out there working to get the people of India back on their feet.  For the next month, The Preschool Box will be matching any donations to our fundraiser up to $2000. Our particular fundraiser through GiveIndia will be specifically for the life-saving equipment needed to fight against Covid.  We would love for you to partner with us in helping make an impact in India. 

Donate Here:

https://fundraisers.giveindia.org/fundraisers/the-preschool-box-gives-back

References

As Covid-19 Devastates India, Deaths Go Undercounted. (2021, 04 24). Retrieved from New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/24/world/asia/india-coronavirus-deaths.html

Covid-19 in India: Why second coronavirus wave is devastating. (2021, April). Retrieved from BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-56811315

KhaanaChahiye: Mumbai is battling hunger along with Covid-19. Again. (2021, 04). Retrieved from GiveIndia: https://fundraisers.giveindia.org/fundraisers/khaanachahiye-mumbai-is-battling-hunger-along-with-covid-19-again

Provide oxygen to help India breathe again. (2021). Retrieved from GiveIndia: https://covid.giveindia.org/oxygen/

Categories
Blog

Think Outside The Box!

Parents want the best for their children.  It is at the epicenter of who we are as parents.  We want them to have the best chance to be successful in life.  I have created this preschool learning box and the learning activities because I want children to be prepared academically for their first year of school.  I am very passionate about this as I have spent several years in the education field which helped me develop this home preschool curriculum.  I feel even more strongly about children developing into socially and emotionally healthy individuals.

I want to reflect a little bit on what I think are some of the most important, non-academic characteristics that we as parents should develop in our children .  This first of these is kindness.  In my opinion, the world would be such a better place if everyone was kind to one another.  Helping your child understand what kindness is and how they can show kindness to others is one of the best things we can do as parents.

The second thing that I think is important for children to learn about is empathy.  It is not important for them to understand the word, but more so the idea.  It is very important for individuals to be able to put themselves in someone else’s shoes to help them better understand what others are going through.  As parents, we can help our kids learn this skill by occasionally asking them “how do you think this person feels” or “why do you think someone acted a certain way”.  This will help them gain the skill of being able to look beyond themselves to try to better understand others.

A third and final trait that is important for parents to help their kids develop is the ability to be grateful.  Children come from different backgrounds.  Regardless of their situation, everyone has something that can be thankful for, whether it be new clothing, a meal to eat or waking up with a roof over their head.  People these days tend to take things for granted.  Teaching children to be grateful for what they have will help them develop into more appreciative adults one day down the line.

I know that my children sometimes take the simple things for granted, so I like to point out to them what they do have… a bed to sleep in, food to eat, friends to play with, a new video game, or other things.  Being grateful is such a great quality for people to possess.  Taking time to think about others feel and being kind to others kind of go hand in hand, and are important skills for children to develop at a young age.

I hope you are able to take a little bit of time to talk with your kiddos about this.  We can make the world a better place one child at a time.

Categories
Blog

New Year Time to Learn!

As the new year kicks off, many decide upon new years resolutions.  Some of those are health and exercise related, while others are aimed at forming healthy habits.  As a former teacher, I know how important it is to exercise the mind.  With the new year, now would be a great time to get your kids started in our learning program.  For students that are going to enroll in kindergarten later this year, this is especially important.  

When I was teaching kindergarten, I could tell which students had been doing learning activities before they started school.  Those students typically had greater success in their learning because they had been previously exposed to the content that I was covering.  Having a strong foundation of reading and writing skills as well as basic math skills puts students at a great advantage in their academic journey.  Anything that you can do to help prepare your students for academic success early on will provide them with a firm foundation for the remainder of their education.

The Preschool Box was created with my understanding of what is important for students to know going into day one of kindergarten.  Each activity and learning objective were carefully planned and aligned to what will best benefit your student.  I sincerely hope that you consider having your child begin their learning journey with The Preschool Box. 

Categories
Blog

Teacher Gift Ideas for the Holidays

This year has been trying for everyone, especially teachers.  From schools being open one week to 100% virtual the next, from having to instruct some students in person while simultaneously trying to hold the attention of virtual learners, teachers are arguably facing the most challenging year the educational system has ever faced.  They are risking their health and that of their family’s in order to serve our students.  Virtual learning has also required them to use much more of their evening and weekend time in order to give your students the best possible learning experience.  Many parents are, especially for younger children, choosing to have their students attend school or preschool at home.

I can’t think of a better way to show them they are appreciated than by giving them a gift for the coming holidays.  I remember when I was a kindergarten teacher, I loved getting gifts from my students.  Even better, I could tell the students loved giving me gifts.  I remember so many times my students would bring me a gift with the biggest smile on their face, and were beaming with excitement as they waited to see my reaction.  It didn’t matter to me if the gift was big or small, but just seeing the joy they had in giving a gift made my day.  

When it comes to picking out a gift for your student’s teachers, you should ask your student what their teacher likes.  Many times teachers will tell students what their favorite candy is, where they get their coffee, or what their favorite restaurant is.  This will let your student feel like they have a bigger part in picking out the gift.  I taught at a school where there were many economically disadvantaged families, so I want to reiterate that it is never the price tag that matters, it is the thought that counts.  Here are some ideas, broken down by approximate price on what you can get your teachers this holiday season.  You may or may not see coffee under several pricing categories.  I’m not sure any of us could have enough caffeine in 2020 anyways. 

$5 or less

Teachers favorite candy

Gift card to Starbucks or a favorite local coffee shop

A holiday card with a handwritten message from your student

$10

Essential Oils for a diffuser (Recommended scents for relaxation: Lavender, Rose, Neroli and Spearmint)

Candle

Gift card to Starbucks or a favorite local coffee shop

Insulated Coffee mug

Gift card to Target, Bed Bath and Beyond or a store like that

$20

Diffuser for essential oils

Gift card to teachers favorite restaurant (or coffee shop)

Personalized gift (My favorite is a lunch box with my name embroidered on it I got my first year of teaching.  I still use it to this day.)

$20+

Gift card to a salon for a pedicure

Gift card for a massage

Remember to spread that holiday cheer and take care of your teachers.

Categories
Blog

Christmas Bucket List

Christmas time is my absolute very favorite time of the year.  I literally plan for it all year long.  I love the traditions we do every year, and the new ones that we occasionally pick up as well.  This year is going to look a little different than our norm, but I’m trying to find ways to keep our household festive and continue to build memories with our kids.  So we decided to sit down with the kids and brainstorm some ideas for a Christmas bucket list.  These are all the fun things that we want to do all month long to celebrate and these ideas don’t require group gatherings or a lot of public outings.  Remember the kids helped me so some of the ideas are a little silly, but hey why not?!

  1. Drink Hot Cocoa with Marshmallows
  2. Wrap presents as a family
  3. Christmas crafts (see Pinterest for a gazillion ideas)
  4. Decorate the Christmas Tree
  5. Decorate the yard
  6. Pictures with Santa (Bass Pro Shop did an amazing job of socially distanced photos with Santa- plexiglass barrier and everything)
  7. Daddy dress up as Santa and give the kids a present (the kids obviously thought this one up)
  8. Grinch movie night with green popcorn (or mix in some green m&m’s)
  9. Play in the snow (We live in Texas so wishful thinking)
  10. Build a snowman
  11. Make ornaments
  12. Eat Christmas themed food (Owen requested a snowflake shaped poptart)
  13. Bake and Leave Santa cookies
  14. Make Gingerbread houses
  15. Sing Christmas songs together
  16. Snowball fight (again we live in Texas so this may be a cotton ball fight)
  17. Tell Christmas stories
  18. Make a fire in the fireplace
  19. Make gifts for friends
  20. Drop of some toys at a Blue Santa donation site
  21. Send donations to an orphanage
  22. Watch a Charlie Brown Christmas
  23. Drive around look at Christmas lights
  24. Write letters to Santa
  25. Read Christmas books
  26. Send Christmas cards (the kids really enjoyed helping me put on the address labels and stickers)
  27. Make Reindeer food and leave out for Santa’s reindeer on Christmas Eve
  28. Make Gingerbread house ornaments out of terra cotta pots
  29. Read Elf on the Shelf and wait for our Elf to do lots of fun things all month long
  30. Watch the movie Elf. 

I hope that our list has inspired you to make time to do some special things as a family this holiday season.  2020 has been quite the year to navigate through but we hope each of you still manage to find joy in the small things and remember there’s always reason to celebrate. 

Categories
Blog Parenting

Surviving Parenting During the Pandemic

This whole parenting during a pandemic thing is getting pretty old. It’s been about four months of us not really going out in public or seeing our friends besides an occasional outdoor visit. The kids haven’t seen their friends in person in months. We are all feeling the stress of life not being normal. As a mom, I often feel that I am failing. I get irritated and impatient with the kids at times. The house is a mess. I have guilt for when I have to work. I worry that I’m not spending enough time with the kids when at the same time just wishing I had 5 minutes to myself. Any of this feel familiar? Well I’m here to tell you that you are not failing. We are all trying our best to do what is best for our families and it’s not always a pretty picture.

I’ve heard the saying “we are all in the same boat” when it comes to this whole pandemic situation, but recently someone pointed out the flaw in this phrase. We are not in fact all in the same “boat.” We are all in the same storm, but not all in the same boat. Some of us are sailing along more or less perfectly fine in a yacht while others are trying desperately to keep their canoe from sinking because it has a hole in it and somewhere along the way we have lost the paddles. Each of us are in different situations and no two situations are exactly the same.

We are all trying. Trying to make it through this odd and stressful situation while trying to maintain an ounce of sanity. The thought of homeschooling/ virtual learning with 3 children all in 3 different grade levels is exhausting just to think about. I’ve been trying to do some “school time” each day with my kids just so when we start the process in August it’s not a complete and utter shock to them. Just the other day while trying to simultaneously work with all 3 kids on different activities I absolutely lost it with the dog. I was already under a lot of stress that day and trying to homeschool was not going well. The dogs have been inside a lot more lately since it’s super hot outside here in Texas. They generally aren’t allowed upstairs but our dog Homer doesn’t really abide by those rules. It was too quiet and I hadn’t seen him in a while. I peeked my head outside of our homeschool room and there before my eyes, the children’s beloved Olaf stuffed life size doll was being violated by my dog. Not only had he humped the poor stuffed animal, he had also peed ALL Over it! I was livid. Now I had to not only stop what I was doing with homeschooling, but had to go do yet another load of laundry. I yelled at Homer so bad that he took off down the stairs and hid from me for the next hour. I definitely lost my temper and was pretty loud as I chased him away from Olaf. Moments later I got a horrifying text from my husband who works from home. “I’m on a call and we can all hear you yelling.”

He had left his office door open to better circulate the air in the room. Not only was he on a zoom call, he was in a zoom call presenting in front of a bunch of other directors. I felt so embarrassed. I blame the dog.

So, just incase you were feeling like a terrible parent, we are all in this together. We all make mistakes and fail from time to time, but that does not make us failures. Remember, you are trying and that’s what counts. And also remember, that people who are not in your house may be able to hear you, so don’t embarrass yourself like me.

Our beloved Olaf after his journey through the washing machine and dryer.

Categories
Blog

Kid Friendly Volunteer Opportunities for the Holidays

With the holidays just around the corner, our family is always looking for ways to volunteer and serve in the community.  We have 3 children ages 6, 4, and 3 which can make it difficult to find things that all of us can participate in.  We are trying to teach our children the importance of helping others and to have a servant’s heart.  I’ve compiled a list below that will hopefully give you and your family some inspiration to volunteer and serve your community this holiday season and to teach your children the importance of helping others.

Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child is a part of the Samaritan’s Purse ministry.  Every year during November they collect shoe boxes filled with toys and other items such as toiletries, socks, etc… for children in other countries.  The recipients of the boxes receive them for Christmas. For many of these children, these are the first and only Christmas gifts they have ever received.  Every year, each of my children pack a box.  We visit stores such as The Dollar Tree and Five Below to pick out some special gifts to include in the boxes.  We like to include coloring books, dolls, racecars, and other fun toys in the boxes.  My children really enjoy getting to go shopping for their shoe box child.  There are drop off locations all over the place so if you are interested in checking out their site, here’s the link.

Food Pantry Collection

Collecting and Delivering Food items to your local food pantry is always an easy way to volunteer.  Some food pantries may have age limits for actually volunteering but there’s no age requirement for going door to door in your neighborhood to collect items.  This year I will also be taking my 3 little ones to the grocery store to help pick out and purchase the items we will be donating.  When we do the dropping off of the items, the kids can help carry in what we’ve collected and purchased.

Nursing Home Visits

Have your children make Christmas cards and deliver them to a nursing home or hospital.  Nursing homes can be a very lonely place for some people, especially during the holiday season.  One thing that I’ve learned from volunteering with the elderly is that most of them love children.  This Christmas we will be delivering some Christmas cards and just visiting with the residents. 

Homeless Bags

We live near Austin, Texas which at the moment has a very large homeless population. The closer you get to downtown, the more likely you are to see many homeless people standing on the street corners.  Having Pre-made bags in your car that you can give out while driving by or sitting at a stop light is an easy way to make a large impact. Have your child help pack freezer bags or small totes with items such as fresh fruit, snacks, water bottles, and some hygiene items such as hand sanitizer, toiletries, a new pair of socks, etc…

First Responder Treats

Take your first responders some treats! Have your children help bake some cookies or make some other treats that you can drop off at the local fire or police department.  You may want to check the station’s policies beforehand If you are making something homemade.  Otherwise, send them a basket of pre-packaged snacks and goodies. 

Categories
Blog Parenting

Speech Delay and Early Intervention

Back in February of this year when our youngest was two years old, we came to the realization that he was experiencing some hearing loss and was in need of ear tubes.  He had the procedure done in early March and has since passed his hearing test. We’ve seen quite an improvement in his speech, but still felt like he was behind where he should be.  

We started looking into  our options as far as speech services were concerned.  Having been in public schools as a teacher, I vaguely remember some 3 year old children coming to our campus for speech services.  I contacted our local school district to see if they offered speech services for 3 year olds. I was delighted when finding out that they do service 3 and 4 year olds as long as they qualify.  I was told beforehand that the process would probably take a few months, so one month before Charlie turned 3 we had him tested for a speech delay with the school district. We were told that he would most likely be qualified to receive services based on their assessments but it would be a few months before the admission process was complete.  

We started the process at the end of last school year in May.  He was evaluated for about an hour (mostly through play) by the school speech therapist .  They determined that he had a speech delay. He was very difficult to understand and his communication skills were lacking.  We were told that we would be contacted at the beginning of the next school year to set up his ARD (which is the official meeting to determine what services he will be receiving.) Since we knew the process of getting him serviced through the school district would be a long one, we went ahead and enrolled him in private speech therapy over the summer until he was able to start with the school.  From the time we started the process until he was actually enrolled was a 5 month span.  

Insurance will sometimes cover speech services, but some may not.  Even with insurance, services were about $40 a session twice a week.  As you can imagine, that can add up pretty quickly. Over the summer we received about a 10 page report going over the results of the initial evaluation with the school district.  We were finally scheduled an ARD at the end of September and he was able to start receiving services the very next day.  

At first I just assumed that Charlie would be receiving walk on services.  That is where depending on his needs he would go to the school for one or two thirty minute sessions each week.  I was unaware that there was another option for him which the specialists recommended. It’s called PALS which stands for Preschoolers Acquiring Language skills.  This program is 5 days a week for two hours each day. The best part of this program is that it’s absolutely free. Not only are we saving close to $400 a month by not paying for private speech services, he’s receiving not just one hour total a week, but 10.  I was told the walk on program is more for not being able to produce certain sounds or for omitting certain sounds in words. The program Charlie qualified for is the one that focuses on language and building vocabulary.  

He’s been in the program for a whole two weeks now.  It was a tough transition at first because he’s not used to being in school everyday but he’s adjusting well.  I’ve already seen improvements with his communication skills and he is attempting to speak more.  

Charlie doesn’t start kindergarten for another couple of years, but we are trying really hard to get him all caught up with his speech so it’s not a bigger problem later.  He’s a very bright, and funny little guy, but we just knew he needed a little extra help. If you have a child that you think might be struggling with speech, I highly encourage you to check out what resources are available through your local school district.  You might be surprised what services they have available to those who qualify. Early intervention is so important in these crucial years of development. You are your child’s biggest advocate so don’t be afraid to seek out professional help for your child. It will help them be successful in the long run. 

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Announcement

The Preschool Box has a New Look

Start the new school year off with a newly upgraded Preschool Box subscription! Our team has been working hard the past three months to take everything that we have learned over the past two years and make it better. The activities, crafts and games have all been assessed and updated using feedback from our loving customers and the Parent Guide is getting a gigantic makeover with clear instructions, big how-to pictures and workbook pages for your little one.

Check out our update in the video below to get a sneak peek at what’s coming! Check out our Facebook Live video going over the new stuff coming to The Preschool Box!

If you are ready to get back into school-mode sign up now using coupon code “BACKTOSCHOOL19” to get $5 off your first order, we hope you love it!