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Child Prodigy Blog

7 fun st. patrick's day activities for families

03/05/2018 12:00:00
St. Patrick's Day isn't all about bustling pubs and green beer! Find some kid-friendly games, activities, and ways to spend March 17 with the ones you love — Irish or not.
St. Patrick's Day decorations
Play St. Paddy's Day Games
Assuming your kids aren't yet built for a traditional game of Irish football or rugby, try some of these games in honor of St. Patrick's Day! Play a game of hot potato or consider a "potato hunt" (think: Easter egg hunt but with small potatoes) or a "Pot o' Gold" treasure hunt (a search for gold chocolate coins or homemade "gold"). Or, try this simple green candy guessing game.
St. Patrick's Day parade
Go to a Parade
Check local event listings for a St. Patrick's Day parade in your area. Dress in your best green attire, and get ready to watch some cool bagpipers, Irish step dancers, and fire engines roll through. This coloring page will get kids excited for the occasion!
St. Patrick's Day craft materials
Make St. Patrick's Day Crafts
Stock up on green construction paper and craft supplies, and get creative with your little leprechauns. These 10 St. Patrick's Day crafts are adorable and make great party decorations or gifts for Irish grandparents.
Family heirlooms and old treasures
Research Your Family History
As the saying goes, everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day. But how many Americans are actually of Irish descent? According to the U.S. Census, about 34.5 million Americans, or about 11 percent of the population, claim to have Irish heritage. Whether or not your family can trace roots to the Emerald Isle, St. Patrick's Day is a great time to discover your name's origin and work on your family tree.
Irish movie, Waking Ned Devine
Enjoy Irish Movies and Music
Ireland has a rich cultural history all its own. Get your Irish eyes smiling by listening to music by Irish artists, such as U2, Enya, Van Morrison, or The Chieftains. Also, watch great movies set in Ireland — some family-friendly ones include The Secret of Roan Inish and Waking Ned Devine.
Irish soda bread
Eat Irish Foods and Green Treats
Popular Celtic cuisine includes potato dishessoda bread, and meaty stews and dinner pies. So there's plenty to choose from beyond not-so-kid-friendly corned beef and cabbage for your St. Patrick's Day party menu. Or simply dye some of your favorite treats, such as cupcakes and milkshakes, with green food coloring.
St. Patrick stained glass
Learn About the History of St. Patrick's Day
Finally, explore the meaning of St. Patrick's Day and test your family on some Irish trivia. Do you know why the shamrock is a symbol of St. Paddy's Day? (This printable on the history of the holiday might help!)
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How to Stay Healthy This Winter

02/02/2018 12:00:00

These 15 secret weapons will help you and the family stay well during the cold, dark months of winter.

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healthy family

Fancy Photography/Veer

Beat the Winter Blahs!

In winter, viruses and bacteria abound like snowflakes. Work and school environments test our immune systems. And exercise likely takes a backseat when icicles are in view. But don't despair. You and your family can hang onto good health in spite of the challenges. Here's how.

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children washing hands

Radius Images/Getty

Wash Up

Preempt viruses and bacteria by frequently washing your hands—and teach your kids to do the same, says Maritza Baez, M.D., a family physician in Buffalo, New York. Nothing fancy is required. Simply do this: "Work up a lather and wash for at least 30 seconds before eating and after you go to the bathroom," he says. Wash under your fingernails too. That's where germs lurk.

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child brushing teeth

Fancy Photography/ Veer

Change Your Toothbrush

"Use a new toothbrush after you've had a cold, the flu, a mouth infection, or sore throat," says dentist Jeff Golub-Evans, D.D.S., director of the New York Center for Cosmetic Dentistry in New York City. "Germs can hide in the toothbrush and lead to reinfection." The smartest Motherboard Moms we know stock up on toothbrushes so there's always a spare handy.

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child putting on boots

Robyn Lehr

Don't Forget Your Feet

Winter's heavy shoes, boots, and socks can take their toll on tootsies, large and small. The best defense: Moisturize your feet daily to keep fungi from entering cracked winter skin, says Robert Klein, M.D., a podiatric physician and foot surgeon in Texarkana, Texas: "And wear socks with synthetic fibers to wick away moisture faster."

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sad girl

Fancy Photography/Veer

Go Toward the Light

Six out of every 100 Americans may suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a malady of mood swings that occurs when light diminishes in winter, according to the Academy of Family Physicians. To counter SAD, Jeffrey Sumber, M.A., CPC, a psychotherapist practicing in Chicago, recommends vitamin D, exercise, and light therapy. Some lamps and box lights are designed to treat the disorder. Ask your doctor to recommend one if she thinks you have SAD. To keep your kids upbeat, help them get off the couch and outside whenever there is a sunny day. About 10 to 15 minutes of play in the sun is a good mood-lifter (and source of D).

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Girl drinking water

Blend Images/Veer

Wet Your Whistle

You may not feel as thirsty in cold weather, according to a University of New Hampshire study. But that can up your risk for dehydration. "Allowing your body to become dehydrated can leave you more vulnerable to getting sick," says Wendy Wells, N.M.D., a naturopathic physician in Scottsdale, Arizona. Water helps the body carry nutrients to cells and get rid of toxins. Without enough water, you start dragging. Dr. Wells recommends drinking half your weight in ounces every day. (So if you weigh 120 pounds, drink 60 ounces.)

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mother holding baby

Alexandra Grablewski

Pamper Your Skin

Skin takes a beating in winter. To keep it healthy, dermatologist Brooke Jackson, M.D., founder of Skin Wellness Center of Chicago, and mother of three young children, suggests increasing the humidity in your home by adjusting the gauge on your furnace or placing a humidifier in each bedroom. Aim for a humidity level between 40 and 50 percent.

Lavishly moisturize after a brief shower (long ones dry you out more) using jarred, not pump, moisturizers. (Pump lotions contain more water.) And don't skip the sunscreen—winter sun can glare, especially off snow.

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pregnant woman getting vaccine


Get Your Flu Shots

It's smart for families to get annual flu shots, but they are especially important for expectant mothers and new moms, says Amy Herold, M.D., an ob/gyn and medical director of HealthTap, a healthcare community in Palo Alto, California. "They protect mom from getting the flu, and they pass [protective] antibodies to the baby. Antibodies are also passed through breast milk." Dr. Herold also recommends that moms and family get vaccinated for whooping cough.

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Woman with baby and apple

Fill Up on Fiber

A 2010 study at the University of Illinois found that the fiber in foods like oats, apples, and nuts helps reduce inflammation and strengthens the immune system by increasing anti-inflammatory proteins. The suggested daily fiber intake for an adult woman and children ages 4 to 8 is 25 grams a day. An apple has 3.5 grams of fiber.

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Woman eating yogurt with laptop

Slip Zinc into Your Yogurt

That's what Shantel Maratea, CHHC, a nutritional counselor in Valley Stream, New York, says she does to keep her 12-year-old cold-prone daughter healthy in winter: "Starting each November, I give her two daily servings of yogurt with probiotics—live healthy bacteria that help replenish good bacteria in the gut—with zinc added. She hasn't had a cold for three years." According to pediatrician Williams Sears, associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of California-Irvine, the safest way to get zinc is through foods like oysters, zinc-fortified cereals (best for kids), crab, beef, turkey, and beans.

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Fancy Photography/Veer

Consider Echinacea

Whether or not you think echinacea helps fight or reduce colds depends upon whom you believe. Some experts who tout its effects point to a 2007 review of 14 studies at the University of Connecticut that found that the herbal supplement echinacea reduces the risk of a cold by 58 percent and cuts 1.4 days off its duration. Other studies have reported it has minimal effects. If you're into alternative medicine and want to give it a try, follow the dosage recommendations on the bottle. And talk to your pediatrician before giving the herb to your children or taking it if you are pregnant.

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Mushroom Sombrero

Greg Scheidemann

Eat More Mushrooms

"Include lots of mushrooms, especially shiitakes, in your cooking," says dietitian Jill Nussinow, M.S., R.D., author of The Veggie Queen. A 2009 study at Tufts University found that after a 10-week diet of powdered white button mushrooms—the most common kind—certain immune cells in mice became more active, boosting protection against colds and viruses.

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Complete Breath

Peter LaMastro


"Stress can cause illness for two main reasons," says Elizabeth R. Lombardo, Ph.D., M.S., P.T., author of A Happy You and mother of two: "Our immune system does not function well when we are stressed. And we are more likely to engage in unhealthy habits such as 'Ben and Jerry's' therapy." Chill out by heading to the movies, building a snowman, or just breathing deeply for a few minutes.

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child with cold


Rinse Your Nose

Although nasal irrigation sounds gross, studies have shown that those who rinsed their nasal passages every day for six months had fewer symptoms from allergies and sinus infections—and cut back on antibiotics and nasal sprays. Try rinsing with a Neti pot or a nose dropper, using a saline solution of 1 cup water, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon soda. Pour or squirt some of the mixture in one nostril, while holding the other nostril shut. Repeat on the other side and blow your now healthier nose. Older children can be taught to use a Neti pot, too, but ask your pediatrician before starting the therapy.

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woman shoveling snow


Keep Moving

Got cabin fever? Get your workout by shoveling snow, suggests wellness expert Dasha Libin, M.S., creator of Draco Fitness, a health, sports, and wellness program in New York City: "It burns calories and activates your lower- and upper-body muscles." An hour of shoveling burns a whopping 400 calories. Or, with the kids, give FitDeck exercise playing cards a try. Warm up, draw a card, do the exercise the card describes for one minute, and move on to the next card. You—and your kids—won't be bored, Libin says.


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10 indoor activities to get you through winter

01/02/2018 12:00:00

We are outdoor people through and through. My husband, three little boys and I all feel most peaceful, happiest, and most alive when we are exploring the great outdoors. We try to get outside at least every day, even in the cold winter months.

But there comes a time every winter when no amount of bundling up can keep the frigid cold from sending us indoors. I am grateful for the slower months when we read countless books, play games by the fireside, paint and draw, and just generally slow down. Of course, there comes a time when the inevitable winter crazies set in. The boys become restless, chase each other in circles around the house screaming. They bicker and roughhouse. And that is when I break out the list of indoor ideas.

Here are 10 ideas for keeping your young rascals busy indoors when it’s just too cold to venture out.

1. Build a cardboard play house (or rocket ship or play dome)
Pick up a large refrigerator box from a local builder, furniture store, or other wholesale distribution warehouse (often they are happy to give away big boxes). Tape one end shut and reinforce the sides with duct tape, then help your child cut a door and windows. Encourage your child to add control panels using things you have around your house, such as string, bottle caps, toilet paper rolls, or other recyclables.

2. Make homemade play dough
This recipe smells a whole lot better than the store-bought stuff, plus your kids will have so much fun making it, then playing with it after it cools off.

3. Sumo wrestle
When the kids need to burn off some steam indoors, clear out a space in the living room and line the corners with pillows. Let your children borrow an old t-shirt of yours, stuff it with pillows in the front and back, and let them wrestle each other. Go ahead, try to hold back your own laughter while you referee the match.

4. Make marshmallow structures
Use dried spaghetti and mini marshmallows to build anything your child can imagine! Experiment with the strength of different shapes and configurations or use this opportunity to introduce geometry to your little ones.

5. Make cardboard monster feet
With the leftover cardboard you have from the play house, make a pair of monster feet that tie onto your child’s feet with shoelaces.

6. Let your child take a “Mad Scientist” bath
Gather up various sized plastic cups, small containers, spray bottles and funnels, and set up a plastic stool in the bathtub. Let your child take a bath in the middle of the day without the goal of getting clean; rather, let him or her use the stool as a table to line up the “experiments.” Add soap and bubbles and see what he comes up with.

7. Make a marble race track
Cut a pool noodle in half lengthwise using a serrated knife to make two racetracks. Then set them up side-by-side on your stairs or propped up against the couch. Let the kids race their marbles or small cars.

8. Indoor scavenger hunt
Hide clues around the house for a hunt that will keep them busy solving riddles and working as a team. Leave a “treasure chest” at the end with a few treats for an extra special surprise.

9. Build a tapestry table
Pick up an old coffee table frame at a secondhand store and staple a large piece of burlap all the way around the edges. Use scraps of yarn and string and large plastic children’s sewing needles and let your child learn to sew on the tapestry table. It’s great for their fine motor skills, and when they’re finished, they can hang it on the wall in their room.

10. Make a reading nook
You can always turn to books! Check out a giant bag of books from your local library and when you return home, build a reading nook in the most comfortable spot in the house with pillows, blankets, and favorite stuffed animals. Then join your child for a reading marathon.


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