The world is in a pandemic and we're all finding we have more time on our hands than ever before. Schools and our workplaces are closed. The whole family has been spending endless hours together and let's be frank, we're getting bored. Team ELM has a way to help fill that free time to keep you and your children entertained, if not for at least a little while. We have put together three types of activity boxes: Color Me Crazy, Kids Craft Box, and Brain Busters Box. Each one is hand made and we hope you enjoy them as much as we do making them! Funds are donated to COVID-19 Relief! Order today by sending an e-mail or by going through the Team ELM shop!
With families at home while we shelter in place, those with kiddos need plenty of simple, low- or no-mess activities to keep them busy and engaged. Cooking with kids can fill that need and teach important life skills. We recognize there is lots going on right now simply trying to keep your life in order—so how do you cook with your kids without it feeling like more work than you’ve already got on your plate? Using tips and activities will keep kids engaged in the kitchen with more fun and less stress.
Play a game of Chopped at home.
This is a pretty easy “game” to set up for your kids. Some kitchen skills are nice to have, but as long as you provide supervision, your kids will do great. Watching an episode or two of the TV show might help, too
1. Prepare the baskets.
You can use something as simple as plastic Tupperware. Place the same three ingredients in each one. If there are items that need to be cooked, go ahead and cook them yourself ahead of time. This simplifies the game and makes it just a bit safer for kids. Think of ingredients that are in different food categories, that might complement one another, but that are also distinctly different. The TV show uses vastly different ingredients to increase the challenge. You can do the same, depending on your kids’ skill level.
Here are some ideas of what you could include:
-a rice cake, an orange, banana chips
-a slice of bread, a hunk of cheddar, a hard cooked egg
-cooked noodles, salad greens, a piece of fruit
-a tortilla, cooked or grilled meat, some type of healthy dip like guacamole or hummus
-a hamburger bun, nut or seed butter, a favorite veggie
There really is no end to the combinations that you could create.
2. Prepare the pantry
Set everyone up at the kitchen table. Place a limited “pantry” of extra ingredients that they could supplement their dishes with. Try throwing in ingredients that were clearly “healthy” like fresh spinach and tomatoes, making good choices available. Depending on your kids’ kitchen skills, you can provide the items pre-prepped or allow them the opportunity to make them themselves.
Pantry items might include:
-vinegar, olive oil, salad dressing, hummus, guacamole
-nut butter, seed butter, Nutella
-fruits and vegetables
-cheeses in various forms: shredded, cubed, sliced
-proteins like cooked chicken, hard cooked eggs, cooked beans
-other condiments like mustard, ketchup, pickles, olives
3. Provide some kitchen tools.
To keep things safe, regular table knives should be all your children need for the ingredients provided. In addition to cutting utensils, provide a cheese grater, an egg slicer, cutting boards, and other small gadgets like a citrus reamer. Allow them to go get something else that they needed or to use the toaster oven or microwave.
4. Take a step back.
Take a step back and let your kids do in the kitchen, let their imaginations run wild! If your kids have been helping or observing you in the kitchen, my guess is that they know more than you think they do!
Let Kids Lead
Kids are more likely to eat well when they’ve had a hand in bringing their food to the table. Letting kids choose which recipes they’d like to make, or which ingredients they’d like to cook with, is empowering and a positive way to engage them. Preschoolers can help pick breakfast ideas for your meal plan for the week, or choose something they’d like to prepare for snack time. Simple recipes are key here, too.
Cooking can provide teachable moments, especially when you choose to cook together. Math and science lessons are nestled inside every recipe and can bring joy if you seek them out together.
The most important thing is taking the time and eating together. You can use it as a chance to check in, to ask, ‘How are you feeling?’ It is a stressful time, but it presents us with an opportunity we didn’t have before. Spending more time together as a family is a silver lining in these times!
The Japanese use the term “animation” to describe any style of such. The rest of the world uses the term “anime” to describe Japanese cartoons specifically. Anime has been around since the early 1900’s spanning years of success. Some familiar names in the style would be Astro Boy which propelled the style into the limelight as well as influenced characters with big eyes and hair that defies the laws of gravity. Some other popular names would be Mobile Suit Gundam, Captain Tsubasa which marked the way for sports anime, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind which is the first film from the prestigious Studio Ghibli, Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon, Pokemon, Bleach, and more. Many anime are not geared for elementary school audiences. Please keep that in mind when surfing the list below which will be in no particular order.
1. Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Edward and Alphonse Elric’s father left when they were little and not long after lost their mother to illness. The boys first started teaching themselves the laws of alchemy eventually searching for a teacher. Their ultimate goal was to bring their mother back to life by performing the ultimate taboo, human transmutation. They paid the price with Alphonse losing his entire body and Edward losing his right arm and his left leg. To save Alphonse’s soul, Edward bound it to a suit of armor using a blood seal. The story follows their quest to find a philosopher’s stone to get their bodies back.
Konohagakure, (Ko-no-ha-gah-ker-ey) the Village Hidden in the Leaves, is home to the world’s stealthiest ninjas with specialties in varying styles. Twelve years ago a tailed beast called the Nine Tailed Fox named Kurama terrorized the village. Kurama was sealed inside a baby boy named Naruto Uzumaki. The story follows Naruto and how he becomes the greatest ninja to ever live.
3. Fruits Basket 2019 reboot
Tohru (Toe-roo) Honda lost her father to illness and her mother to a car accident. She had been living with her grandfather, but when renovations were happening she went to go live in a tent on Soma property. She gets discovered by Yuki and Shigure Soma inviting her to live with them until the renovations are complete. However, the Soma clan has a bizarre secret. When hugged by the opposite gender, certain family members turn into animals from the Chinese zodiac!
4. My Hero Academia
Superpowers, dubbed Quirks, are the norm in this world. More than 80% of the population has a power. With many developing a quirk, a rise in crime could not be helped. This in turn created a new career, being a full-time hero. The story follows Izuku Midoriya. His life-long dream has been to become a hero like the number one hero, All Might. However, he was born quirkless and no one without a quirk had ever become a hero before. However, he enrolls in UA Academy, the top hero course program in the country. This is the story of how Izuku Midoriya becomes the greatest hero the world had ever known.
5. Sailor Moon
Usagi Tsukino, an 8th grader befriends a black talking cat named Luna who gives her a magical brooch that allows her to turn into Sailor Moon: a soldier destined to save Earth from the forces of evil. Luna and Usagi assemble a team of fellow Sailor Soldiers to find their princess and the Silver Crystal.
Shoyo Hinata loves volleyball more than anything. Inspired by a short statured pro volleyball player, he creates a volleyball team in his last year of middle school. Unfortunately, his team is matched up against “King of the Court” Tobio Kageyama’s team and ultimately lose. After being defeated, Shoyo vows to surpass Tobio. When he enters high school, Shoyo comes to find he’s on the same team as Tobio instead!
7. Little Witch Academia
Little Witch Academia takes place at Luna Nova Magical Academy, a prestigious school for young girls to become witches. Atsuko (“Akko”) Kagari was inspired by a witch named Shiny Chariot to enroll at Luna Nova Magical Academy to become a witch but struggles because of her non-magical background. This all changes when Akko discovers the Shiny Rod, a powerful magic relic left behind by Shiny Chariot.
8. Soul Eater
Soul Eater takes place at Death Weapon Meister Academy (“DWMA”) located in the fictional Death City located in Nevada. The DWMA is ran by Shinigami (a god of death) as the training facility for humans with the special ability to transform into weapons as well as their meister, the wielder of those weapons. Attending this school are Maka Albarn and her scythe partner, Soul Eater; assassin Black Star and his partner, Tsubaki Nakatsukasa, who can turn into various ninja weapons; and the Shinigami’s son, Death the Kid, and his pistol partners Liz and Patty Thompson. The plan of the school's meister students is to have their weapons absorb the souls of 99 evil humans and one witch, which dramatically increases the weapon's power and turns them into "death scythes" used by Shinigami.
The sudden disruption of the family routine, lack of social and physical activity and fears related to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak can be especially stressful and anxiety-producing for children. The situation can be more difficult if parents are facing fears and anxiety of their own.
To help your children manage their anxiety during quarantine, try the following:
Stay connected with others - Face time or call friends and family, play games or watch a TV show, make cards for the elderly or those who are isolated.
Do some physical activity – If there’s nice weather try to get outside and walk or play. When inside, explore online videos to dance, do yoga or workout.
Keep up on a routine - Try and keep up their normal day to the best of your abilities, waking up at the same time, getting dressed, eating breakfast, doing schoolwork, going outside for a break or a recess.
Practice mindfulness with them - Do breathing exercises, draw, paint, sing, cook, meditate, make slime, read a story.
Stay calm and give them reassurance - Talk about how they may be feeling, let them know adults in their lives are there to keep them safe and healthy. Make sure your explanations are age appropriate.
Stay positive! - Go over what you are grateful for as a family or things that are going well, help them choose activities which are pleasant and improve their mood.
Acknowledge that there is, for now, a new normal - Talk about being flexible as a family to cope with each day’s new challenges.
Keeping kids entertained while isolated to your homes is definitely a struggle. It’s one thing to entertain them all day on the weekends. It’s another when you have seven days a week to fill for an indefinite period of time.
Easy indoor activities can be a lifeline, a great way to practice school skills and a way to quietly entertain kids. These activities do not need to be complicated or take hours to set up.
Here are four easy indoor activities perfect for breaking up a day:
Box Road – Flatten out a box and draw a road in marker. Add blocks, trucks and other toys for kids to build a city.
Toy-Washing Bin – Let your kids wash their plastic toys. Add tear-free bubbles, sponges, towels and other supplies.
Trash Art – Find some recycled materials and let your kids paint them. Kids love painting random objects and making beautiful creations from them.
Sticky Match-Up – Draw shapes, letters, numbers, words or math problems on sticky notes and hide them around the house for your child to find. Then have the child match them up on a “key” that hangs on the wall.
Of course even with the most perfectly planned schedule, you will still have days when you just can’t muster the energy to come up with even the simplest activity and instead let them watch another episode of their favorite show. That’s O.K too. Do what you need to do to get through that day!
Tips and tricks for helping out the picky eater in your home
Sometimes kids just won't touch a single piece of food that's put in front of them. It could be that they will not take a second look at a fruit or vegetable or they reject anything that doesn't come out of a bag with a funny character on it. It's a learning process trying to figure out what works and what doesn't work in terms of getting kids to eat a healthy and balanced diet. It's about letting go of control and encouraging healthy eating habits. Try these top tips to try and help overcome picky eating!
Sit down and have a meal together as a family every night ( if possible!)- Sitting down with your kids and eating with them as a family as frequently as you can is the most important and often overlooked contributing factor to overcome picky eating. There are plenty of studies proving positive correlation between regular family dinners and increased vocabulary, academic performance and even the increased consumption of fruits and vegetables in children. Kids learn best from modeled behavior, they need to watch you eat and enjoy different foods to learn how to do the same!
Make a mealtime schedule + stick to it- Set designated times for meals and snacks and stick to a plan. This helps regulate kids' appetite and sets a peaceful rhythm in the home around meals. Kids like to know what to expect, be sure when mealtime is over, the food is gone. This does wonders for kids who take hours on end eating one serving of food. A good meal time is anywhere between 20-30 minutes. In many social situations like school lunch, mealtimes are usually around this amount of time.
Expose them to a wide variety of foods- Exposure to a large variety of food tastes and
textures is crucial for future food acceptance, especially within the first year of life. If the goal is to have your children eating more foods and being okay with trying new ones, how else do you expect them to get there without providing opportunities to try, see and learn about foods? Everyday, try to expose them to a new food type, vegetable, fruit or texture. For textures think finely chopped, fork mashed, crispy foods, or chewy foods. Also try talking about the foods on the plate differently, talk about all the colors on the plate and how it's important to eat all the colors of the rainbow to make our bodies strong. Teaching them about the food on their plate is also helpful. Tell them where it comes from and what it does for the body. For example "carrots make your eyes super strong, salmon comes from fish in the sea and makes your brain grow!"
Get kids involved with cooking + meal prep- Being involved in the cooking and food preparation helps prepare them for the meal to come and eliminate the element of surprise. They can be the ones to help you chop and mix bananas into their yogurt instead of being surprised at the chunk in their mouth. Cooking with kids can be challenging, but it also can be a lot of fun! They feel more in control, which is so important. They are also willing to try new things if they help assemble it. Letting them get their hands on the food prior to eating will increase their chances of putting it in their mouth.
Accepting where your child is on this journey- This is by far the hardest for parents. Do your
best to accept your child for where they are along their journey to enjoy a wide variety of foods.
You can't force them to be anywhere that they are not. Fortunately though, you can be the single most important contributing factor to helping them move forward! It may take longer than you think and you may not reach all the goals you have set. But continuing to encourage and support them, and taking baby steps, will help them in the long run!
Hopefully using these silly simple steps, you can start enjoying mealtimes with your children
again, and hopefully your kids will learn to eat new and healthy foods along the way!
Posts written by the Team ELM family!