It’s never too early to inspire children to love gardening. 

5 Ways to Get Kids to Love Gardening

As the seasons shift into spring, now is a great time to start planning your summer garden. There is no better way to teach children the connection between us and nature than gardening. Plant it, grow it, eat it. It’s so simple and easy to understand in a child’s eye. So how do we inspire a love of gardening in them at an early age?

1. Include Children in Choosing the Plants to Grow

The first step is to give the kids some control. All kids love to “own” things and you can start by letting them choose seed packets, or a special container to plant in. At our home, we have always limited our gardens to vegetables and herbs. This year I am choosing to follow this guideline and let our daughter plant flowers. I was impressed that she knew exactly what she wanted when we went to pick out some seeds. “White daisies.” So simple and so sweet.

white daisy flower

Kids can choose their own seeds and plant them in “cow pots!” Have fun explaining to them what they are made of. (wink, wink) Just know you are being a little greener by skipping the plastic starting pots.

Strawberry kids garden.

She is tending her strawberry garden.

2. Choose Fast Growing Plants

Radishes may not be every child’s favorite vegetable, but they will love to grow them. They have a seed to table time of about 22 days which is amazing. Cherry Bomb is a common spring variety and the key is to grow them before it gets too hot outside. The fresher they are, the less spicy they taste! Serve them with some ranch dressing to cool down any heat and you may have a new veggie to stash in the kids lunch box.

Radish seeds can be tucked in among other early spring plants like broccoli and spinach. The radishes will already be ready to harvest when the other plants need a little more growing space. Staggering the harvest time is more exciting for kids as there will always be something new to look forward to.

Alternatively, skip the seeds and go straight for the seedlings. It’s almost foolproof to just plop a seedling in the ground, water it, then watch it grow. There are often too many of one kind of plant in the seedling trays so partner up with some neighbors and make a trade or two.

3. Create a Growing Chart

Kids love to track things on a chart. Let’s move beyond potty training stickers and get out a ruler and measure some of the fun plants you choose to grow. You can also print out a calendar page and have kids draw out when each new action occurs. One day will be planting seeds, another the first seedlings, then the flowers and so on. Create a competition among siblings or neighbors and see which plants are growing the fastest!

4. Start Seeds Inside to Extend the Growing Season

With winter lingering here around Boston, and our raised beds covered in snow, we are starting seeds inside this year. Either go with the cow pots or a seed starting kit. This Indoor Garden kit is kid-friendly and includes 3 different seeds to grow: teddy bear sunflower, basil and zinnia. We already started seeds inside and the kids love to see how much higher they are every morning!

5. Give Kids Their Own Garden (or Container)

Our little girl has already placed a claim on her own raised bed this year to be used for flowers only. I think it’s adorable and love how excited she is to plan it. When the weather is warmer and we get the seeds in the ground, we can use the time to make our own labels for the flowers, and reread Miss Rumphius (or The Lupine Lady), one of our family favorites. If space doesn’t allow for a garden, see if there is a home for the kids to put their own large pot on a front step. Let them decorate it and make it their own.

Make a dinosaur garden for the kids!

There is also a fun trend of creating a themed pot. I love how entertaining the Fairy Gardens can be as it’s open-ended with what you can include. I also came across this idea for a Dino Pot and thought it was awesome! I’m so curious to try out this “Garden Pirate” idea from Climate Store as well. You get to create seed bombs and then then tuck them into fun spots around the yard.

As your child gets more connected with nature, it becomes even easier to teach concepts like Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. With Earth Day this month, now is a great time to kick off these discussions if they haven’t been happening in your home. While you are outside, talk about other ways to preserve natural resources. You can set up a rain barrel near a garden to help water the growing plants. Got a place for a compost bin? They are so sophisticated these days, and discreet, that most people can find a tidy home for a compost bin to create their own rich soil.

How else can you encourage your kids to enjoy gardening this season? Happy planting.

Climate-Store-LogoDisclosure: I am a partner with ClimateStore.com and compensated for my time. I only suggest products I believe in. All opinions are my own.  If you want to learn more about climate change and what it means to your family, I suggest you start here and learn about the first steps you can take. As we celebrate Earth Month, now is a great time to have conversations about climate change with your family. Please share in the comments any questions you have about taking first steps to reduce your carbon footprint.

Kids Egg Carton Craft Projects

Who has some extra egg cartons in their house this week? As Easter approaches, everyone is busy dying eggs or crafting eggs with the latest designs. Now what do you do with all those extra egg cartons in the house?

Here’s a round up of fun projects to reuse egg crates. Keep the kids busy as you prep Easter dinner!

Egg Carton Mask

Egg carton mask in happy spring colors! Kids can wear them and run around while still on their sugar high. (source)

Alphabet egg carton game

Help kids learn their letters with this cute Alphabet Egg Carton Game. (source)

DIY egg carton birdfeeder

Craft a DIY Birdfeeder with the egg crates. I love how easy this project it and when the rain wrecks it, it can compost into the ground.

Egg carton caterpillarAn easy and fun project to celebrate A Very Hungry Caterpillar. Use the time to talk to the kids about nature and the transition of a life of a caterpillar to a butterfly. (source)

Egg carton mobil

 

Cut out each egg holder and thread into a unique mobile. Hang them outside as the weather warms up.

What other crafty ways have you reused an egg carton?

 

Tissue Paper Easter Eggs

After pouring through way too many Easter craft ideas on Pinterest, I finally landed on Tissue Paper Eggs. When you have little kids, it needs to be fun, easy and hopefully not crazy messy. There are loads of dye kits that create those sweet pastel eggs, or you can use natural kitchen ingredients, but I knew it would lead to spilled bowls of dye in my house.  Tissue paper eggs are even easier because all I have to buy are white eggs.

Gather scraps of tissue paper in various colors and patterns. The pattern ones were really fun for the kids to play with on the eggs and see how they changed once they were cut into small pieces. The kids spent time cutting the paper in small pieces (less than 1″) and gathered them all together.

prep tissue paper

The eggs were hard boiled so it’s easier for the kids to work with. JJ remembers a delightful project we did last year where we gently cracked the eggs and then dyed them to create a crackle effect. All he wanted to do this time was crack the eggs. Connor took the same approach and every egg we gave him he tapped on the table. Oh well. Just eggs.

tissue paper squares

Apply the tissue paper with Mod Podge glue, or white school glue. The kids use a paintbrush so hopefully just a little glue goes on at a time.

Layer them, leave some white, let them get creative. After the first round of tissue paper eggs, the kids moved on to embellishing their eggs with Easter stickers. Still cute.

Easy Tissue Paper Easter Eggs

 

Hope you all have a happy Easter. Eggs and all!

 

Curious George sillies

When Madison was sick this week, the first show she asked to watch was Curious George. She wanted comfort and it was really sweet that she picked her favorite childhood show. As we near the stage when all three kids in our home will be interested in tv, Curious George is the first show I introduce my littlest one too. There is just something about that monkey that has withstood the test of time.

Vintage Curious George

The kids are playing with my Curious George. I got it when I was three years old and it’s one of the few stuffed animals that has made the move to a few different places in its lifetime. At bedtime, I still read some of my original CG books too, but often we read from our favorite Curious George Treasury.

I think my favorite part about watching Curious George (and all the PBS Kids shows) is the lack of commercials. The kids get to focus on the themes of the show, instead of getting distracted by commercials trying to sell them something. It a little aggravating as a parent when kids start bartering for a new pillow pet mid-way through a show.

Join us as we watch the new episodes of Curious George on PBS Kids this week. The fun starts on 3/30 with an hour long special: Curious George Swings Into Spring. Then there will be two more new episodes on 3/31 and 4/1.

Find more Curious George activities over at PBSKids.org. There’s games, printables show clips and more to enjoy with your kids.

Curious George love

p.s. I’m a PBS Kids VIP (Very Important Parent) Ambassador! This means I get a sneak peek at what’s coming up in the season ahead! All opinions shared are my own, or my kids. 

Who is ready to think spring?! We are big Red Sox fans in our house and have lived through the highs and lows of this great team. It’s time to get excited about the new season and I’m excited to share with you some of the family friendly initiatives the Red Sox organization is putting in place at Fenway for the 2015 season.

Red Sox Moms media

I’m part of a new team, the Red Sox Moms. We will be sharing with you the special events happening at the ballpark and around the city of Boston during the baseball season. If you have ever taken young kids to a ball game, you know you need more than just the game to hold their attention! This year there will lots of exciting new experiences for families to enjoy, starting from the minute they enter the park.

Gate K: The New Kids Entrance!

Enter Fenway Park through Gate K (by Gate B at Ipswich) and be welcomed with live entertainment, balloon artists, kids activities and more. Kids can get a Passports Reward book at the beginning of the season and collect stamps and prizes throughout the season. As a parent, I’m really happy to know the staff in this area is specially trained to work with kids and keep things fun!

Wally’s Clubhouse

The new Wally’s Clubhouse will be open for nearly every game from the 3rd inning on. Just as your kids start to get a little restless, you now have a safe place to bring them to stretch their less and let out a little energy. Think of toddler-friendly climbing zones, story tellers, animals shows and more. Wally will be there of course since he is often the main attraction for the little ones. Did you know you Wally has his own Facebook page now? Plus, concessions ($5 kids meal and beer for the parents) and large televisions so parents still get to enjoy the game experience. Oh, and don’t forget the air conditioning!

Little fan ready for the game. (source)

Little fan ready for the game. (source)

Need Diapers?

Did you know that you can grab diapers in any size from ALL customer service outlets in the park? No need to trek all the way to the First Aid station when you are in a pinch. They also carry sunscreen and wipes too!

Affordable Tickets

The best news about the Red Sox campaign to renew a love of baseball in kids is their commitment to offering 25,000 free tickets to the newest members of Red Sox nation. Sign up your kids (ages 14 and under) and they each get a free ticket. Make it a family event and head in together to experience America’s favorite pastime.

Sign-up-for-Red-Sox-Nation

Plus–there will be $9 high school and college tickets available for every game. These will be for kids ages 15 and up. I love this idea, as a Boston College grad I would have loved to catch a game for that price when I was in school!

In addition to these new initiatives, there will also be special days for kids with Peanut Allergies, Autism and the Red Sox continues its partnership with the Jimmy Fund. When I recently met with the behind-the-scenes team at Fenway Park, I was impressed with the Red Sox Foundation. This is the charitable arm of the organization and they are rebuilding 10 Little League parks throughout Boston, plus sponsoring both baseball and softball teams. They are committed to enriching the community and I’m excited to learn more about how they are giving back to the people of Greater Boston.

Don’t miss out! Join in the fun this summer and claim your kid’s free tickets to a Red Sox game. If you have any suggestions or ideas on how to make Fenway even better for families, let me know and I’ll pass along the info. See you at the game!

Smoothies are still the #1 way to get green veggies into my kids. All three of them slurp them up and come back asking for more. Give them a little cooked spinach on their plate at dinner and you would think I had served them liver. With the kids love for smoothies, I thought I would try kale again to see if could find a recipe that was kid-friendly.

Connor went into the kitchen the other day and pointed at the yogurt and then made a sound like “whirrrr whirrr.” He was talking smoothie. It was adorable and he then went to the cabinet where we store our Blendtec Blender and pointed at it. Clearly he loves an afternoon smoothie too.

Green smoothie baby fan!

The first round we tried did not include the pineapple. While Connor still drank it, I didn’t care for it. I need a little bit more sweetness to cute the strong taste of kale. Round two recipe was a winner! The Coconut and Kale Smoothie was born.

Kale smoothie with coconut flakes

COCONUT KALE SMOOTHIE

A healthy green smoothie that is kid-friendly.
Course: Breakfast, Snack
Keyword: smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup Stonyfield Vanilla Yogurt
  • 2 cups kale leaves only, no stems
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple
  • 2 tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 peeled orange optional to make it even sweeter

Instructions

  • Add all ingredients in the order listed above.
  • Blend until greens are smooth.
Tried this recipe?Mention @emilyroachwellness or tag #erwellness!

 WILL YOUR KIDS EAT THEIR GREEN VEGGIES? HOW ELSE DO YOU MAKE THEM APPEALING TO THEM?

I am a Stonyfield Clean Plate Club Ambassador and yogurt was provided for this smoothie recipe. All opinions are my own. 

This story has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BringingInnovation #CollectiveBias

How to create an eco-friendly playroom

Creating a healthy learning environment for a child’s playroom is key. But is the space really healthy? What could you be doing to make it a greener space for everyone in the family. If you have kids like mine that are constantly in and out of their playroom, I want to make sure I am creating a healthy space for them to play and learn in.

Today I’m sharing 5 Steps to a Greener Playroom. As Earth Day approaches next month, now is a great time to start having talks with your kids about how they use their resources. Encourage them to turn the lights off in the playroom when they leave. Put the caps back on the markers so they don’t dry out. By talking about consumption we can educate our kids on living a more eco-friendly lifestyle without having to be an “ego-nag.”

  1. Use eco-friendly toy cleaners. There are lots of choices now on the market. You can use an all-purpose spray for the majority of the playroom. I like the Babyganics Toy & Highchair Cleaner. Want to make one yourself? Take a peek at my DIY Green Cleaner Board on Pinterest for lots of easy to make cleaners using basic ingredients like vinegar, castille soap and essential oils. Also, skip the snacks in the playroom. You will avoid having to clean up sticky spills that may need stronger cleaners.
  2. Stuffed animals collect dust and allergens. Remember to give them a spring cleaning.Limit the number of stuffed animals. This may seem a little harsh, but it’s not just for your health, but your sanity when it comes to clean-up time! Stuffed animals tend to harbor dust mites and allergens. Limit the number you have and remember to give them a little run through the washing machine on occasion. Our new dryer actually has a sanitizing setting and a flat tray that I can put the animals on for a little spring cleaning.
  3. Eco-Advanced-BatteriesChose Eco-Advanced Batteries. Let’s face it, kids do love their electronics. Whether it’s the batteries in the remote control or the ones for a Leap pad, as parents we go through A LOT of batteries. Energizer has come out with the new Eco-Advanced Battery and it’s the first one to use recycled batteries and materials. It’s also their longest lasting battery so you can also feel good about cutting down on your purchases too.
  4. Choose old toys over new ones. Ask neighbors if they are ready to part with toys if they have older kids. Legos seem to last forever so they are a perfect choice to pass along to friends and family. You can also look for local consignment sales for kids, like the Parent Talk Semi-Annual Used Clothing/Toy/Gear Sale on May 2nd. (yes, shameless plug. )
  5. Reuse kid's artwork and create gift tagsCreate a recycling bin for kids to use freely. I got this idea after reading this book and it’s been working great. Not only can the kids reuse the back of paper for their own projects, but I am also encouraging them to repurpose their art into new creations. The kids paint all the time and we truly don’t have room for all their masterpieces. They have helped me take their watercolor art and repurpose them into gift tags and mosaics.
Grab a pack of Energizer's new Eco Advanced Batteries at Walmart.

Find the new Energizer Eco Advanced Battery at your local Walmart. We had some fun girl time on our shopping outing.

 

If you want to take a peek at more stories about living a greener lifestyle, Energizer has pulled them together here and there are tons of fun ideas for your family.

What other ways can you create a greener playroom in your home? Leave a comment and share with everyone your great idea!

GuiltFreeEnergy Giveaway – $1,000 in Gift Cards

That dreaded day has come again in our home. The one where a little someone comes out of his room in the middle of the night to say hello. That little someone is only 21 months old and we were not ready for him to become an escape artist in the midnight hours just yet.

Wearing a sleepsack can keep babies from crawling out of their cribs

We have been through this before, but never at this age. Our other two kids crawled out of their cribs closer to 28 months. When it happened, we quickly made the switch to the “big girl/boy” bed. This time it’s a little more complicated and requires a room change and redecorating. This was not a project we wanted to tackle this winter.

So I started doing my research to see if I was making a mistake keeping Connor in the crib. The last thing we want is for him to get hurt, but I also don’t think he is old enough to make the move to a big bed.

Toddlers who can hoist themselves over the rail can easily fall and fracture a bone,” says Paula Elbirt, M.D., director of pediatric medical education at Brooklyn Medical Center.

Okay. So now what.

I continued reading and learned that children can start transitioning to a big bed from 18-30 months. While not at the lowest end of the spectrum, 21 months still feels too soon.

What else to do?

The other suggestions for keeping the crawling baby/toddler out of your room at night are as follows

  • Make them wear a sleep sack. (We love the Merino Kids brand.)
  • Turn the crib around if it has a high side in the back.
  • Watch them on a video monitor during nap time and bed time to coax them to lie down.
  • Take all items out of the crib, like stuffed animals or crib bumpers, that could be used as a stepping stool. Take out even the breathable bumpers too!

Connor actually climbed out of his crib in a sleep sack so that won’t work for us. He even waddles to our room wearing one.

Watching on the monitor is actually working for us. We can tell him to lie down on the intercom and he (surprisingly) listens. After a week of showing us his new climbing skills, he has taken a little break. If he starts up again, we will try to flip the crib around.

I wish they would stay this small forever

He is our one and only thumb sucker.

Has this happened in your home? What did you do when it happened?

Disclosure: Merino Kids sent us a sleep sack for review. It is easy to wear, great soft fabric and long enough for a growing toddler. Here’s a little more info about Merino Kids:

  • Made from luxuriously soft Woolmark-certified Superfine Merino. Expertly stitched by master tailors in India.
  • GOTS-certified organic combed cotton outer layer gives extra durability for years of use. Machine washable.
  • Naturally fire-resistant. Rated low fire risk without fireproofing chemicals.
  • Fits growing child safely and comfortably for up to two years. Excellent value compared to other sleep sacks that last only a few months.
  • Remarkable natural ability to regulate body temperature. Captures and circulates air to insulate child when the room temperature falls, and releases excess body heat and moisture as the room temperature rises. Child stays warm and dry without overheating.
  • Recommended by textile scientists. A 2010 scientific study concluded infants are less likely to overheat or to become damp and chilled in a Merino Kids sleep sack compared with polar fleece sleep sacks.
  • Meets all U.S. and international safety standards including UK BSI sleep sack safety certification. Child has freedom to move and room to grow, yet can’t slip underneath or wriggle out and wake uncovered and cold. Contoured bodice stays clear of face.

Thank you Merino Kids for sending us a sample. All opinions shared are my own. If only a sleep sack would keep him from crawling out of his crib! 

This post is sponsored by CFK and The Motherhood.  All opinions are my own.

This winter has been a tough one for local charities. Bad weather in Boston has affected the amount of donations happening in our area. When I got the opportunity to partner with Champions for Kids to purchase donations for children, I choose Circle of Hope, a local Needham organization. They serve the Greater Boston Community Exchange  and work with 12 different organizations, many of which help children.

Circle of Hope has had to cancel some of their deliveries this winter. When I reached out to them and asked what children need it amazed me how simple it was.

Underwear.

Yes. Something so simple as underwear is what children struggling are in need of. I took my children to a local Walmart to purchase as much underwear and healthy snacks as we could. It’s a great opportunity to teach kids about why making charitable donations is important.

Teach kids early about making charitable donations

 

SIMPLE Giving is a Champions for Kids program that provides shoppers with opportunities to donate items to children in their local communities. From February 18 to March 4, customers at more than 3,800 participating Walmart stores can purchase and donate snacks and breakfast items for children.

In addition, Champions for Kids, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Emerald and Kettle Chips will provide 13 awards, totaling $45,000, to school districts and participating youth-based organizations based on the total number of donated items collected in each store.

Teaching kids charitable giving

The kids picked out healthy snack and breakfast items, along with their favorite characters on both boys and girl’s underwear. We kept it really simple and didn’t get distracted with negotiating buying items for them too. It’s was all going to charity and so the message was clear to them.

 

As we come out of winter’s grip, I ask you to them about how to talk to your children about giving back to your community. No matter what time of year, there are always organizations in need. I’m so happy we were able to help Circle of Hope and fill some of their needs.

 

Disclosure: I partnered with The Motherhood and was compensated for my time coordinating the donations. I am very happy to be able to have this type of opportunity to give back to my community. See more stories of keeping donations in the community here #SnacksforStudents

Goldfish Swim School coming to Needham.

Imagine a bright, tropical place where you feel welcome and relaxed, and your kids get to learn to swim there. This is the goal of the new Goldfish Swim School opening soon in Needham, MA. As a parent of three little ones, all with varying degrees of love (and fear) of the water, I am so curious to learn more about this modern approach to swim lessons. Swimming is a life skill, one needed for safety if you spend anytime around water. Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Kepic, the owner of Goldfish Swim School in Needham, and Martha Tierney, the General Manager.

Q: What’s the difference about the Goldfish approach to swim lessons?

A: First of all, we create an inviting, tropical place with a 90 degree pool for the kids to feel safe and comfortable. The entire school is welcoming and light-hearted. The main goal of our curriculum is to teach kids how to swim and get results. We focus early on with safety skills so kids are comfortable in the water and learn to stay calm.

With a focus on results, we have “perpetual lessons” where a child can swim and move up to the next level, often while staying with the same teacher. The kids get a great sense of accomplishment and there are lots of fun rewards for them. {Comment-as a parent I am most excited to hear about the consistency of teachers when it works schedule and ability-wise.}

Q: How will parents stay updated about their child’s progress?

A: Parents are invited onto the pool deck for the last 5 minutes of class. They will get a report each week about their child’s abilities. There is a small staff to student ratio so the teacher really has a good opportunity to learn how to teach your child.

Q: What age range of children will you be working with?

A: We will see babies start around 4 months, or at least when they can hold their head up. The main age range will be 4 months-10 years of age. Older children who may still be struggling to learn swimming basics are welcome, but may be more comfortable with private lessons.

Q: At what age are the parents also included in the water with the babies?

A: We have the parent join the child from ages 4 months- 24 months. If a child is brand new to swimming at 24 months, we may have them start with a parent to make sure they feel comfortable.

Fun changing rooms at the Goldfish Swim School

Q: How are the locker room facilities?

A: This is where we really stand out from the competition. Kids can come in and change in one of 12 department style changing rooms (room for mom and siblings too!), store their stuff in cubbies and head on to the pool deck. After class, there are hot showers on the pool deck and then they return to the privacy of their changing rooms. The kids will love the hair drying station too!

Q: What can we do with siblings who may be there watching lessons?

A: We have a watching area for parents and siblings. Our goal is to make this a relaxing space where parents can connect with friends and neighbors while siblings can be entertained with an activity of the week we provide, chalkboards and other reward toys connected to our Theme of the Month.

Waiting area at Goldfish Swim School

Q: My youngest does not like the water (what??). How will you handle these situations?

A: We have several methods we have trained the instructors in to work with children who may not be comfortable swimming. Kids will cry and that’s normal. The staff is prepared to go at a child’s pace and it may take 3-4 classes for the tears to go away. The perpetual lessons provides the consistency needed to let the child feel comfortable in the pool. There are lots of awards for kids to brighten the experience, even if they are only able to sit with their feet in the water the first day. Also, in addition to the small staff to student ratio, there is also additional staff on the pool deck to help if a child needs more one on one attention.

Q: Now I’m super excited to see the new Needham location. When do you think you will be opening?

A: The updated goal is early May. Construction has been tough this winter. In the mean time, parents can visit the Needham preregistration site and get their child’s information entered into our system. We will be in touch once we have a confirmed opening date for classes.

Thank you Sarah and Martha for chatting with me! I am so excited to see my kids in the pool there once the Needham site is open. Get ready for more pictures. I wish it is was open this past winter; it would have been nice to feel a taste of the tropics after all these storms!

Opening soon! Goldfish Swim School Needham

 

If you are curious about pricing, you can find it here. Where is it going to be?

Goldfish Swim School: Needham, MA

  • Phone: 781-881-2108
  • 45 Fourth Ave.
    Needham, MA 02494

Disclosure: I am partnering with Goldfish Swim School Needham and I’ll be talking about them again once they open and my children participate in lessons. They are compensating me with lessons for the kids and I’m hopeful Connor gets over his fear of the water!