August 26, 2015 at 3:00 pm (Candice Chouinard, Contributing Writer)
Tags: Creative Free Play, Food-Based Play
Eat What You Play!
Now that my newborn is becoming a toddler overnight, I have begun to include her in toddler–esque art projects. This is exciting in so many ways. As all kids, she explores, experiments and creates every waking moment. Like every one-year-old she loves sensory exposure at its best- mostly by mouth. So, the question became how do I include her without poisoning her, letting her choke, or dumbing down toddler activities? Because she mouths everything and taste it just the same, I decided to create a few sensory activities that would be safe and fun for both infants and toddlers. And what do they both love? Food! Read the rest of this entry »
August 26, 2015 at 12:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Dane Kuttler, Food)
Tags: Cooking, Eating, Food Literacy, Nutrition, Picky Eater, Picky Eaters
Picky Eaters, Part 3
Welcome back to the kitchen. In June, we enjoyed a lengthy discussion about picky eaters, and the roots of restrictive eating. July saw us tackle the task of getting young picky eaters to broaden their horizons. This month, we’re going to talk about older youth and young adults, and how NOT to turn dinnertime into a battlefield of exasperation.
But first, a review of things we know about older youth and food:
- By the time people reach the age of 9 or 10, they’ve begun to develop the “catalog” of experiences and tastes that we talked about in the earlier articles. They may be able to identify preferences for sweet foods over salty ones, or have a list of favorite foods.
- Their taste buds are still changing, as they will continue to do into adulthood. They may not taste things as strongly as they did when they were younger. It can help kids to know this, especially if they’re being asked to try something they remember disliking as a youngster.
- They are old enough to prepare simple meals for themselves, or even the family. That’s helpful, as we’ll see later on.
Read the rest of this entry »
August 19, 2015 at 9:00 am (Carrie St. John, Contributing Writer)
Tags: Creative Free Play, summer fun
Family Assignment—Have Fun!
We are in the home stretch. I can’t believe school vacation is coming to an end. Our summer went too fast!
We say those words every year so in the spring we made a list of summer ideas. Many we did not get to. Friends popped over. Sleepovers were planned last minute. Some days we just needed to be lazy. Visitors arrived. What to do in the little time we have left? Fun without forcing it. I think we will aim for one thing a day but if we decide to read for hours in the shade or host a sleepover—a different play happens and that is okay too. Read the rest of this entry »
August 18, 2015 at 11:00 am (Catherine Gobron, Contributing Writer, Teen, Teenagers)
Tags: Raising Teens, Teenagers, Teens 101
Creating a Different Way Forward
“No one lies on their death bed and wishes they spent more time at the office.”
My dad shared that adage with me at some point in my youth, which was ironic, because my dad sure did spend a lot of time at the office when I was a kid. Luckily he’s not yet on his death bed, and has been making up for it.
Now I share it here, with next generation irony, because my office is wherever my computer is, and I sure do spend a lot of time at it. I am in no position whatsoever to remind anyone that there is more to life than working, because lately, working is my life.
But of course it isn’t. My children are my life, my husband, my family. This is what matters to me. So why is it so hard to put my work away and be with them? Read the rest of this entry »
August 17, 2015 at 3:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Girls, Nancy Rothenberg)
Tags: empowering girls, Safety, teenage girls, Teenager
12 Essential Tips to Keep Your Teenage Daughter Safe
We all want to feel confident when our teenage daughters go out at night with their friend, knowing they know how to prevent themselves from being in unsafe situations, and how to defend and advocate for themselves when they needed to. As a teenager, I experienced sexual assault, and now as a mother of a precious ten year old daughter, I do what it takes to keep her safe, including teaching self defense to girls for the past 30 years. Here I am sharing tips on ways we can keep our daughters safe as they navigates through their teenage years, and beyond. Read the rest of this entry »
August 3, 2015 at 12:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Ginny Hamilton, Parenting)
“Why did you hurt me on purpose, Mama?,” comes the zinger from the back seat. In this month’s “Off the Mat: Reflections on the Practice of Parenting,” Hilltown Families Contributing Writer Ginny Hamilton explores growing pains, painful patterns, and the truth that life hurts sometimes.
My kiddo sits in the grocery cart. He’s really too big, but containing him removes one variable from the shopping experience. Getting him in is akin to a choreographed 50s swing dance move – jump up, arms around my neck, lift hips, shimmy down. We both grunt and groan good-naturedly with the effort, usually prompting my teasing exclamation – Stop growing!!! And his grinning response, No! I’m supposed to grow! or You’re kidding Mama. You want me to grow.
This is true. And not. But that’s a topic for another day. Read the rest of this entry »
July 29, 2015 at 12:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Sarah Mattison Buhl)
“Downtime is where we become ourselves, looking into the middle distance, kicking at the curb, lying on the grass or sitting on the stoop and staring at the tedious blue of the summer sky.” I wish I had said this, but it was written in an essay by the always amazing Anna Quindlan. She has captured all that summer was meant to be in a single phrase. I love this idea, but do I have the mettle to allow this to happen in my own family this summer? Read the rest of this entry »
July 29, 2015 at 9:00 am (Contributing Writer, Dane Kuttler, Food)
Tags: Cooking, Eating, Food Literacy, Nutrition, Picky Eater, Picky Eaters
Picky Eaters, Part 2
Welcome back to the kitchen. Last month, we enjoyed a lengthy discussion about picky eaters, and the roots of restrictive eating. This month, we’ll start learning how to handle picky eaters. We’ll begin with one of the most brutal picky eaters out there: Read the rest of this entry »
July 27, 2015 at 9:00 am (Contributing Writer, Ecology, Kurt Heidinger)
Tags: Ecology, Hilltowns, invasive species, Massachusetts, Nature, outdoors, Pioneer Valley, Rivers, rivers and streams, western massachusetts
Cutting knotweed is a philosophical exercise, because doing it makes you a cultivator of the wild. Wherever the knotweed takes over, creatures starve. It provides no food to native species, except to pollinators when it briefly flowers. By eradicating it, we increase biodiversity, and the amount of food there is to feed our wild creatures.
Every summer I bring students into our woods, and wade in our rivers, so they can learn biocultural history and experience deep biotic immersion. Over the years, we have become very aware of the character and health of our biome; by visiting the same places, we register how they have changed—and they always change. One of the most striking changes we have encountered is the blanketing over of our favorite river spots by Japanese Knotweed, a bamboo-like plant.
Two years ago, we began to reclaim some the beaches we love on a nationally-registered Wild and Scenic river (the East Branch of the Westfield river) because they’d disappeared under impenetrable groves of the stuff. We had nowhere even to put down our packs and eat lunch. Until we got squeezed out by this pernicious plant, we thought there was some entity that would come and take of the problem; but after a few years, we realized there was nothing stopping knotweed from choking the entire river corridor. Action was required.
Cutting knotweed is always good thing to do. At the river spot you love, chop it down and let it dry out on shore. It will come back out of the root, so hit it again until it’s finally surrendered. Be sure not to spread the root, because that’s its primary means of colonization. Read the rest of this entry »
July 22, 2015 at 12:00 pm (Carrie St. John, Contributing Writer)
Tags: Creative Free Play, Sock Puppets
Can a Moose Play Sock Puppets Without Thumbs?
Take a break from the heat and sun to make your own sock puppets. Make some scary ones for fire side ghost stories. Make some super cute to entertain the wee ones. Make some completely goofy. Have the older kids make a fancy, detailed version. If you are looking to fill a rainy day at home, make a stage with background murals!
I have a great nephew! He is super cute and reminds me so much of my niece, Jessica, (his mom) and my nephew, his Uncle Andrew. Being the youngest of five children, I was very lucky and became an aunt at age 10 and again at 12 and it kept going until I was in college. Then there was a slow down until by brother, closer in age to myself, and I started families. So now I have this crazy family dynamic where I am 43, a great aunt to my 31 year old niece’s new baby and I have a 9 year old daughter. My oldest sister is a grandma but I have more gray hair than she does?! My daughter still gets mixed up trying to keep it all straight. Her new second cousin in closer in age than her first cousin that seems more like an aunt. Family.
That confusing round-about background leads me into my lazy days of summer play idea. Andrew (now an uncle and accomplished police officer) loved the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie when he was in preK. He had a tiny stuffed Cookie Mouse that went everywhere he did. It was VERY well loved and cared for. So when I think about selecting books I would like to give to my new great nephew, I must include the Cookie Mouse… which leads me into the entire series written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond. My daughter’s favorite was If You Give a Pig a Pancake. And I always loved If You Give a Moose a Muffin. That moose is hilarious with his mural painting, muffin eating and sock puppets. He rocks that tiny sweater. My daughter always questioned it as my favorite. “Can a moose play sock puppets without thumbs?” Her logic. That little pig she loved played dress up and built a tree house but it seemed impossible for a moose to play sock puppets. So fun to remember the favorites of my kiddo, the nieces and the nephews.
MYO Sock Puppets
Take a break from the heat and sun to make your own sock puppets. Make some scary ones for fire side ghost stories. Make some super cute to entertain the wee ones. Make some completely goofy. Have the older kids make a fancy, detailed version. If you are looking to fill a rainy day at home, make a stage with background murals like the Moose did! Or go simple with a couple of socks with marker faces to keep the back seat riders busy on the way to the beach.
Don’t forget to check out a copy of If You Give a Moose a Muffin at your local library during the summer reading programs. Fun reading to spark some free play this summer. And look for the Treasury version of Numeroff’s books. There is an excellent recipe for Chocolate Mud Muffins (moose approved). During the summer, we go all out and coordinate books, projects, play and snacks.
- old, clean socks
- tacky glue
- needle and thread, if the kids sew
- fabric, yarn
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Carrie St. John
Carrie was born, raised and attended university in Michigan. As a child she rode bikes and explored her rural neighborhood freely with siblings and neighbor kids. Mom and Dad never worried. The kids always made it home after hours wading in the creek and climbing trees in the woods. After college she moved to Kyoto, Japan to study traditional Japanese woodblock printing. In 1995, she began a career at a small Chicago firm designing maps and information graphics. Life brought a move to Northampton in 2001. Carrie completed her MFA at UMass in 2004. Her little love, Sophia, was born in 2005. The two live in downtown Northampton where they constantly make things, look forward to morning walks to school and plan each spring for additions to their plot at the community garden. Carrie continues to do freelance work for clients here and in Chicago.
July 22, 2015 at 9:00 am (Candice Chouinard, Contributing Writer)
Tags: Creative Free Play, Nature-Based Art, Outdoor Play
Making Nature-Based Art
It is summer, it’s warm and the season is the child’s pallet. Summer time water play is always a go to and there are many amazing outdoor nature-based art projects for toddlers that will keep them engaged and involved at home. Nature-based art is not only fun and beautiful but it is also a free and open ended way for your child to explore art in a natural way. Read the rest of this entry »
July 21, 2015 at 9:00 am (Catherine Gobron, Contributing Writer, Teen, Teenagers)
Tags: Infinite Play, Raising Teens, Teenagers, Teens 101
Adults v. Teens: The Fight Where Everyone Loses
Negative exchanges occur between young people and adults every day. We accept it as normal for some relationships to be antagonistic, at least some of the time. These exchanges might feel inescapable or even necessary, but they are also counterproductive, not to mention unpleasant. What are the effects of antagonistic relationships? What would it take to maintain supportive relationships between adults and teens and reduce or even eradicate antagonism?
A story from my childhood: Read the rest of this entry »
July 20, 2015 at 9:00 am (Contributing Writer, Girls, Nancy Rothenberg)
Tags: empowering girls, self-confidence
Fight Like a Girl: A New Definition for 2015
When I was a little girl, “Fight like a Girl” was a term I heard used by boys calling other boys wussies. As a teenager, the term used in the lunchroom after two girls would have a brawl, arms flailing, scratch marks on faces and hair left in clumps on the floor.
Today, I believe that “Fight like a Girl” needs of a new definition, based on the inner strength, smarts and resources that all girls can draw on any time she needs to.
So, we need to teach our girls how to fight like a girl. Here is a list of 5 things we can teach them. Read the rest of this entry »
July 1, 2015 at 9:00 am (Contributing Writer, Kathy Puckett)
Tags: Apps, behavioral development, child learning, communication skils, Language developlent
Summer School Vacation: Fostering Language Carryover with and without Apps
The activities we do when on vacation can be used to support vocabulary and language skills. When used together with your kids, apps can also be useful tools to stimulate communication and fostering language carryover.
Summer school vacation is finally here. Many parents have a lot of plans set up for their kids, but make sure to save some time for pure relaxation with each other. That’s where our memories of childhood are built.
Hopefully some educational activities will be shared by teachers, libraries and service providers for the summer. I can share apps but rather than let your children play on the iPad to keep them occupied, I suggest using apps together with your child during relaxing child/parent time, similar to book reading. I always suggest that parents play with an app before introducing it to their child. Apps are flexible tools. They can be purely entertainment or can teach a skill. It’s all up to how they are originally taught. Remember, even an electronic game can be a vehicle for narratives, explanations, and defining vocabulary if the parents ask for this. Read the rest of this entry »
June 30, 2015 at 9:00 am (Contributing Writer, Mister G, music)
Tags: Mister G, music, Music Education, Songwriting
Counting and Key Changes
My new bilingual album is called Los Animales, and it’s pretty much what it sounds like: a collection of original song about animals.“Siete Elefantes” is a counting song, and a pretty simple one at that. In each verse you count different animals (elephants, butterflies, lions and crocodiles). The structure of the tune is four short verses with a bridge between verses two and three.
As a songwriter, you never want to be boring or predictable. So what’s the trick to avoid that with a song that is intentionally repetitive? In this case the answer is a combination of studio production arranging and key changes. Read the rest of this entry »
June 29, 2015 at 9:00 am (Contributing Writer, Hindsight Parenting, Logan Fisher)
Tags: Motherhood, Parenting, relationships, sensitivity
I am a teacher; have been for 23 years. If you don’t know, a teacher’s clock is different than other adults. For us, this week is the end of the “year.” June is when the last chords play on a song that has it all; soft parts, loud parts, fast, heart-racing tempos and slow, feet-dragging beats. In June, I am pensive and melancholy because of the ending…the missing of students and parents and colleagues with which you spend most of your day. In June, I am reflective. I look back and take stock.
My “year” started in September.
My daughter went to kindergarten.
My eldest went away to college.
My 18 year old went to jail.
Read the rest of this entry »
June 24, 2015 at 6:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Dane Kuttler, Food)
Tags: Cooking, Eating, Food Literacy, Nutrition, Picky Eater, Picky Eaters
Picky Eaters, Part 1: The Root
Where does picky eating come from? Dealing with picky eaters can be a challenge for the omnivorous or adventurous cook. Let’s explore some of the reasons some folks keep a limited diet – and how we can address those needs and help them expand their tastes!
If you’ve ever used one of these words to describe yourself, your child, or someone you know, you probably know the frustration of trying to feed someone who doesn’t seem to like a wide variety of foods.
Perhaps it’s your screaming toddler, who’s latched onto a diet of grape juice and animal crackers; your nine year old who would eat peanut butter sandwiches for every single meal if she could, or even your spouse, who methodically reads the online menu and identifies what he’s going to order before you hit the restaurant.
Let’s talk about some of the reasons that people get labeled “picky eaters.” Read the rest of this entry »
June 24, 2015 at 12:00 pm (Candice Chouinard, Contributing Writer)
Play With Food
Stirring, whisking, beating, blending, pouring and smearing are all ways that your child can help you in the kitchen. Using these verbs while working can be very helpful to making cooking and creating fun and help your child become more skilled in these areas.
I can see why adults are continuously reminding children not to play with food. It’s messy, it’s rude and it’s bad mannered but it is FUN! So, why not? Food is fun, it’s squishy and adults are always playing with it. We are always there at the kitchen counter cooking, cutting and serving so why not let your little one have a little fun in the kitchen and allow your child to experiment with foods in a natural way.
Cutting foods, pouring water and self-feeding are amazing skills that even the youngest toddlers can master with little practice. Introducing utensils at a young age can only help your child develop the fine motor skills that it takes to self-feed and master skills that she will need to become a skilled independent preschooler.
Offering the opportunity is the first step in creating a child friendly food experience. It is easy to prepare a child friendly work and feeding space in your home or outside. This area will help give your child clear expectations of what should happen there.
Read the rest of this entry »
June 22, 2015 at 12:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Ecology, Kurt Heidinger)
Tags: Ecology, Fractals, Hilltowns, Massachusetts, Nature, Nature Based Learning, outdoors, Pioneer Valley, Rivers, rivers and streams, Watershed, western massachusetts
Thinking Like a Watershed
In the same way all the tiny veins at a leaf’s edge connect to the midrib and then the leaf stem and then the branch and tree trunk and roots, so do our upland streams and brooks flow down into our rivers that empty into our oceans.
Make this summer the summer you discover (if you haven’t yet) the Westfield River watershed.
A watershed is—imagine—a giant bathtub, where the high sides of the tub are defined by ridgelines; and when the shower is on (rain), all the water is contained in the tub shape, flows to the bottom (river), and exits through the same drain.
A better way to imagine what a watershed is: it is a leaf-shaped geography. Read the rest of this entry »
June 17, 2015 at 12:00 pm (Carrie St. John, Contributing Writer)
Tags: Creative Free Play, LEGOs
Combining Play and Cleanup
Many parents know someone who loves to build with those brightly colored, interlocking building blocks. It starts as a toddler with the bigger, chunkier version and continues up into the tween to teen years for some kids with the 2,000+ piece master builder sets that take hours and hours to complete. There can be some tiny and unusual parts. We always seem to have a few extra odds and ends after a big build. Do you have extra people heads or arms or a single square of floor tile?
While in search of a fun way to organize these bits and pieces, we came across an easy project that clearly connects the contents of the containers to the supplies inside. No need to label. Kids can have a creative-free play activity while helping you save the dog or the vacuum from sucking up little bricks and plastic body parts. Read the rest of this entry »
June 16, 2015 at 9:00 am (Catherine Gobron, Contributing Writer, Teen, Teenagers)
Tags: Raising Teens, Teenagers, Teens 101
All the Things We Thought Were Important
To bush or not to brush. To mitten or not to mitten. Is it worth the fight and sometimes unhappy kids? Learning to listen and allow my kids to make their own choices allows them to make choices that are right for them.
When my kids were little, we had some friends who never made their kids brush their hair. They didn’t have dreadlocks- it wasn’t a cultural or aesthetic choice, it was just a choice not to argue about it. Combs were offered and suggested, but in the end the family went out and about happily whether or not the children had combed hair or snarls.
At my house the children did not go out happily, nor did they go out with snarls in their hair. Frequently they went out with eyes red from crying after lots of fussing and fighting about hair brushing. Their hair got brushed because I am bigger and stronger and insistent and have the car keys. But it was sometimes awful.
Then we’d be out and see these other kids with their messy hair, and who cared? I didn’t. I didn’t judge those kids or that family. I noticed, in an amused sort of way, and then the very next day I went back to fighting with my own kids about their hair. A model of another option was right there in my life, but I didn’t consider it. I wanted calmer, happier interactions with my small children, but not so much that I was willing to be seen in public with them looking unkempt.
Was that for them? No. That was for me. That was all ego. I couldn’t be the mom with the kids with messy hair, and if that meant some crying and screaming before we went out, so be it. Somehow I thought it was that important. Read the rest of this entry »
June 15, 2015 at 12:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Girls, Nancy Rothenberg)
Tags: empowering girls, role model, self-confidence
19 Ways to be a Healthy Role Model for Your Daughter.
As we know, our children will learn more from what they see us doing, than what we tell them to do. Correct? Sometimes it is hard to sit with that truth. The truth is that we all may have some ways of acting and communicating that may need some revision. We are after all, only human. But do we need to carry on certain less-than-ideal ways of being that have been passed down from generation to generation?
I challenge myself and invite you to join me in being a better role model for our daughters (and sons!). The benefits of doing so will ripple through their lives and the lives of future generations! Here are 19 ways we can consider being a healthy role model for our daughters…
Read the rest of this entry »
June 3, 2015 at 3:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Kathy Puckett)
Tags: behavioral development, child learning, communication skils, Language developlent, problem solving, stuttering
Helping Our Kids Explain
One of the classic cliches of the parent-child relationship is the question and answer, “What did you do today?” “Nothing.” Over the years, I have had so many parents ask if I could help them get some information from their children. I suggested that they think about the three types of questions (yes/no, wh-questions, and open-ended questions) and chose ones with easier answers. Open-ended answers are overly broad and require the most work. “What did you do today?” appears to be a wh-question (what, where, when, who, why, how), but it is actually an open-ended one. Asking what a child liked doing today and what they didn’t like doing today may create a structure that supports more conversation. So parents need choose their questions carefully. Read the rest of this entry »
May 27, 2015 at 12:00 pm (Candice Chouinard, Contributing Writer)
Tags: Bubbles, Creative Free Play, Outdoor Play
Giant Bubble Day
Bubbles are so much fun for everyone, they are strange and exciting and have the characteristics of a liquid, soil and air all at once. Infant and toddlers will want to explore all areas of the bubbles. Making giant bubbles is so much fun for adults as well. Try to encourage the toddler not to eat them or get them in their eyes. Otherwise let them play. Read the rest of this entry »
May 27, 2015 at 9:00 am (Alice Cozzolino, Contributing Writer, Food, Recipes)
Tags: Cooking, Fiddleheads, Local Food, Recipes, western massachusetts, Wild Foods
Fiddlehead Arugula Salad
One of the most joyous culinary moments of the year for me is the arrival of the season’s first fiddleheads. It’s among the first of the “just-picked” cooking rituals that will continue to unfold until late autumn. Each year I repeat the simplest of preparation techniques for my first fiddleheads of the season: blanch (cook in boiling water) for 4–5 minutes; drain well; sauté briefly with butter or olive oil and salt. Simple, elegant, and delicious. Then I move on to soups with fiddleheads. Last week, Amy and I were inspired to create a new dish, Fiddlehead Arugula Salad. We wandered the aisles of the Old Creamery and gathered ingredients that “spoke to us.” We found some fresh and crisp arugula, organic hazelnuts that had just arrived (now less expensive than many of the other nuts), perfect ricotta salata cheese from Italy, and some Cattani white balsamic vinegar and aged Castello d’Este balsamic vinegar that had just been featured in our vinegar tasting. With the addition of a couple of other standard Old Creamery ingredients, we prepared a stupendously delicious salad! We enjoyed it so much, I’m going to prepare it again for lunch today.
♦ Print Recipe: Fiddlehead Arugula Salad [Vg/GF/WF]
Vegetarian (V) | Vegan (Vg) | Nut-Free (NF) | Gluten-Free (GF) | Wheat-Free (WF)
Read the rest of this entry »
May 26, 2015 at 2:00 pm (Angie Gregory, Contributing Writer, Health & Wellness)
Tags: Herbal Remedies, Violets, Wellness
Violets & Nature Providing the Perfect Medicine
I like being able to leave the reminders of home and the to-do’s behind, but the other end of the spectrum is feeling a little stuck without the predictable tools, comforts, and rhythms of our own space. But while on our trip, opportunity arose for me to find my groove. That’s when I turned towards violets!
You know it’s spring in New England when it snows on Memorial Day weekend, right? As my family made a journey to New Hampshire for this three day weekend, a part of me was sure the odd weather was a blatant sign of the Earth being out of whack… but I was glad there were still spring buds and flowers to enjoy at our vacation destination.
Back home in western Massachusetts, May had already ushered in summer-like foliage and the heat waves to back it, but during our road trip to NH we were on the highway watching rain turn into thick flurries of cosmic snow. It was distracting enough to take my mind off the fact that we would have to get out of the car soon with sleeping children and all our gear to nestle into a different bed.
I like being able to leave the reminders of home and the to-do’s behind, but the other end of the spectrum is feeling a little stuck without the predictable tools, comforts, and rhythms of our own space…
May 25, 2015 at 3:00 pm (Contributing Writer, Ecology, Kurt Heidinger)
Tags: Ecology, fish, Rivers, rivers and streams
No Substitute for Health, Our Own and Our Rivers’
Last month, I wrote about how our native trout survive, miniaturized, in the plunge pools of our chilly mountain brooks, while in the main courses of our rivers, big fat factory-raised trout are set loose by the Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs so folks who want to catch big fat native trout out in the wild can pretend. They have to pretend because, as game fish go, factory-trout are listless and lack the vital energy and intelligence of the native trout who actually live and breed here. Read the rest of this entry »
May 20, 2015 at 10:00 am (Carrie St. John, Contributing Writer, Volunteer Opportunity)
Tags: animal shelters, Community Service, Creative Free Play, Service Based Learning
Play and Community Service
Adopting, fostering, and pet taxing are a few ways families can help local animal shelters. Making toys for animals while waiting to be adopted is yet another way to support shelters while encouraging creative-free play at home. This month in “What to Play: Play Ideas for Family & Community,” Carrie shares several DIY projects families can do together to support our furry friends and the agencies that care for them.
It is the beginning of kitten season at the local animal shelters. From spring into summer the shelters are inundated with kittens! They are dropped off in boxes left at entrances overnight. Many are brought in because families are overcome with the work and dedication needed to take care of a litter of tiny babies. Some arrive with their mother or when a soon to deliver mother is surrendered. The main cause is lack of spaying. Many are so small they are not healthy or strong enough to be adopted out. Those tiny ones might spend time in a kitten ICU or go to live with caring foster families while they gain strength and put on weight.
This year we are not able to foster. We are missing the experience. The tiny kittens have so much love, cuddles and silly play to share. It is a great experience to watch them grow, to teach them to eat solids and even to figure out the best way to provide needed medications. Kittens do not like medications. We failed as fosters last year by adopting a “tuxedo” from the last batch of siblings we had in May. Many foster families fail and joke about this. We get attached to the tiny ones and adopt. Our two furry boys have taken over so we no longer have the spare room to devote to fosters. Adopting from our last foster group was a bonus for our family in many ways. My daughter has the lap cat she has been hoping to have for years. They are inseparable. He cries in her room when she has a sleepover or play date and does not come home at the end of the day. He watches her brush her teeth. She has trained him to use a leash and play fetch. A perfect match. I have to say it is nice to have him in our family. Oh, and he has a safe home to call his own forever and a big orange brother to sleep with.
One day we will foster again. We want to help those tiny babies get a great start on life. Read the rest of this entry »
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