Our Mission

Our mission is to enrich children's lives through innovative support, education and enhanced family and provider services.

Our program puts families at the center of a community of support services.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Geometric Bottle Cap Prints

crafts with bottle caps, circle crafts for kids

We've heard there are endless ways to re-purpose plastic bottle caps so we have been saving them for a while now.....time to put them to re-use!

We were inspired by We Heart Art : Luli Sanchez Dot Paintings to use some of our caps as stamps for a print featuring circles in different colors and sizes.

You will need:
acrylic paint (we tried tempera and the paint just puckers and doesn't leave a smooth print like acrylic)
art paper
plastic bottle caps in various sizes
paint brushes

For younger artists you may want to mark with pencil where the circles will go, if they decide they want a uniform, grid like print. Otherwise, children can place circles wherever they like on the page.

Have children select 4 or 5 different colors.

Apply paint to the top of the bottle cap with a paint brush then press onto the paper.

Re-paint and press again. Repeat until they are satisfied with the results.

Children may want to vary colors in the first layer of circles. We used large circles in the first layer and smaller circles in the second layer, but there is no reason kids couldn't mix sizes as well as colors between each of the layers.

Be sure to have a small and large bottle cap and paint brush for each color so you don't have to wash between colors.

It is best to press the first layer of circles and allow to dry and then move to another layer to avoid smearing colors.

Be sure to wash your brushes while waiting for the painting to dry. Acrylic paint is more difficult to remove from paint brushes than tempera paint.

Apply second layer of circles.

bottle top prints, circle activities for kids

bottle top prints, circle activities for kids

bottle tops prints, circle activities for kids
crafts with bottle caps, circle crafts for kids
The best part about this project, besides the stunning prints, you can wash off the bottle caps and use them again for another project. 


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Mushrooms: Fruit / Vegetable of the Month

September is National Mushroom Month but you will find mushrooms in season all year long, as they are commercially grown in specially designed buildings which are able to regulate the light, temperature, humidity, and ventilation.

Mushrooms are edible macrofungi. They grow from spores, emerging from the 'dirt' after about 12 days. If commercial mushrooms are exposed to ultraviolet light, especially just prior to harvest, the will contain large amounts of vitamin D. Most mushrooms rich in vitamin D will be labeled accordingly. Mushrooms are also a good source of many B vitamins and antioxidants.

There are 250 types of edible mushrooms versus 52 toxic, 32 of which are deadly. It is very difficult to tell poisonous mushrooms from those which are edible as they often look remarkably similar. It is always advisable to discuss mushroom safety with children and discourage gathering wild mushrooms.

While white buttons mushrooms are the most consumed mushroom in the United States, commercially harvested wild edibles are growing in popularity. Pictured above are brown crimini mushrooms a.k.a. baby portabello. Also growing in popularity are shiitake, oyster, chanterelle, porcini, enoki and full size portabello. Children who haven't been exposed to mushrooms may enjoy the mild taste of the white button or the slightly richer brown cremino to start.

When shopping for mushrooms, choose those that are firm, smooth- not slimy, free of dark spots. Store in their original packaging or in a loose paper sack for up to a week. Wash before use by rinsing with a small amount of water or wiping with a wet paper towel. Don't soak mushrooms in water as they will swell. If you want to store mushrooms past a week, they will freeze but only if they have been sauteed first as fresh mushrooms don't freeze well.

Mushrooms add a richness and umami to foods. Umami is now considered the fifth taste, after sweet, salty, bitter and sour. Umami is described as a savory, broth-like, rich or meaty taste sensation. Add mushrooms to nearly any type of savory dish to add nutrients and umami. The texture of mushrooms may be something children may need to become acquainted with if they haven't had any exposure to them in the past. Add them a little at a time to meals children already enjoy, such as pizza, soup, chicken, steak, hamburgers, salad, pastas, eggs/omelets, grilled sandwiches...

If you are child care provider in California you can receive cash reimbursements for providing healthy food to the children in your care. If you are a child care provider in El Dorado, Alpine, Placer, Nevada or Mono county our agency can help you enroll in the California Child Care Food Program.

Recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables varies with age.
Children ages 2-3 need   1- 1.5 cups of fruits and 1- 1.5 cups of vegetables each day.
Children ages 4-8 need   1-2     cups of fruits and 1.5-2.5 cups of vegetables each day. 
Children ages 9-13 need 1.5-2  cups of fruits and 1.5-3.5 cups of vegetables each day.
Teens ages   14-18 need   1.5 -2.5 cups of fruits and 2.5-4 cups of vegetables each day.

Keep in mind that fruits and vegetables are rich in essential vitamins and minerals needed for optimum growth and development. Check out  CDC's fruit and vegetable calculator for an more accurate recommendation based upon age, sex, and activity levels.

Remember your plate.......

Friday, September 5, 2014

Magazine Flag Collage

memorial day crafts for kids, fourth of july crafts for kids, 4th of july crafts for kids, memorial day crafts for kids, flag crafts for kids

Remembering Patriot Day, we wanted to create some flags to display on September 11. We found our inspiration from Crafts by Amanda and her Magazine Mosaic Flag.

You will need:
White stock card
Glue sticks
Red, White and Blue images from magazines

With our first flag, we used the recommended size of 4" x 6 ". A smaller size requires less clippings but does require a great deal of fine motor dexterity.

 With our subsequent flags we just used a letter size piece of white stock card.

To make it easier for kids to pattern the flags correctly, we drew light pencil marks. First we laid the paper as a landscape and drew a horizontal line through the middle. Then we make a box for the blue and stripes.
This is not a true reflection of a US flag so there are less than 13 stripes and no stars on the blue.

Now you have a flag to display in your window on Patriot Day. 


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

August 2014 Child Care Referral Data

See what kind of child care parents in El Dorado County were looking for in the month of August -based upon data collected when parents contacted us during this time frame.

If total percentages exceed 100% it is because more than one response or category was recorded for some clients. 


Friday, August 29, 2014

Beaded Spiders

beaded spiders, Halloween crafts for kids

This is a great fine motor activity for Halloween with plenty of room for creative input from your children.

You will need:

pipe cleaners 
large and small beads
puffy fabric paint- optional

For each spider you will need 3 pipe cleaners, 2 large beads and a variety of small beads .

Cut two of the three pipe cleaners in half. You will only need 3 of the 4 halves. 
Thread the long pipe cleaner through both beads and wrap downward and twist into place. 

Thread each of the three halves through the loop between the large bead and the pipe cleaner loop. 
Be sure to place the short pipe cleaner evenly on either side of the loop. 
Twist each half into place after each one is threaded. 
Spread the legs out with 4 on each side. 

Bead each leg leaving space near the end to bend the pipe cleaner up to keep the beads in place. 

Squeeze 8 dots for eyes on one of the large beads for eyes.

You can also use the looped area where you threaded the legs to loop a long clear string and hang your spiders in a doorway or window for Halloween. 

spider crafts for kids, halloween crafts for kids

You will find this activity has a place year round by pairing this activity with the nursery rhyme "Little Miss Muffet" or the books "The Very Busy Spider", "Anansi the Spider" or "Charlotte's Web". 


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Phrases that Nurture Respect & Confidence

Recently, our agency has been learning more about the Five Protective Factors.

Thanks to Emily Plank at Abundant Life Children, we set up a bookmark to give parents and adults who work with children. It contains a list of phrases she typically uses that nurture respect and confidence in children, to help support the social & emotional competence of children (one if the five protective factors). Enjoy!

Printable version available here