Learning is Fun, Theme of the Week

Theme of the Week – The Solar System

In honor of Star Wars day on 5/4 (“May the 4th be with you”) we have decided to feature the Solar System as our first Theme of the Week.

What is the Solar System?  The Solar System is everything that orbits the sun.  This includes planets, moons, asteroids, comets and more.  There are 8 planets and 5 dwarf planets that orbit the sun.  Before 2006 scientist classified Pluto as a planet, but it was downgraded to a dwarf planet at that time.

Want to learn more?  Visit these great sites:

http://www.kidsastronomy.com/solar_system.htm

http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/sciencefacts/space/solarsystem.html

http://www.makemegenius.com/cool_facts.php?mId=43

OR

Check out these and other great books at your local library.


National Geographic Space
The_Magic_School_Bus_Lost_in_the_Solar_System There's No Place Like SpaceThe planets in our solar system

 

 

 

Fun Solar System Activities:

Make a Solar System Online.

foil ball

Learn about the distances of different planets from the sun.

Make asteroids out of aluminum foil and toss them into a black hole.

DSCN2949Or create your own constellation with black paper.

 

plant cut outs

 

 

Teach your kids this fun song about the planets from Hooplakidz.

Color and cut out the planets.

 

paper mache planets

You can also make these great paper mache planets.

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Finally, you can all make this healthy Solar System snack together.

 

Theme of the Week: We wanted to help our au pairs with different topics they could explore each week with their host kids.  Each Monday we will introduce a new topic and give ideas for games, activities, crafts and resources to learn more.  Let us know what topics you might be interested in.  Want to learn more about getting an au pair or being an au pair in other countries?  Visit our website.

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Learning is Fun

Top 5 Fun and Educational Activities for Kids in Los Angeles

Photo by Thomas Pintaric
Photo by Thomas Pintaric

 Whether you’re a local Angeleno with kids or have recently moved into town with your family, you’ll likely be surprised at just how many fun and educational activities there are available throughout Los Angeles.

Next time you’re looking for educational family activities, be sure to consider one of these top five attractions:

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Make Meaning

Arts and crafts doesn’t have to be only enjoyed in school thanks to arts and craft centers such as Make Meaning in Sherman Oaks where kids can enjoy jewelry making, cake decorating, pottery painting – and much more. This is a fantastic place to take the kids on a weekend or after school for a couple of hours as its both fun and encourages creativity. Just bear in mind that you may need to book your session in advance as it’s an extremely popular destination.

 

LAzooThe Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

 You don’t have to go all the way down to San Diego to enjoy a day at the zoo. The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is located conveniently in Griffith Park and is small enough to be enjoyed by kids of all ages, but large enough to keep them entertained for hours. Particular highlights include the Indian rhino, the giraffes and gorilla reserve. Ideally aim to go on a weekday, as it’s tremendously busy at weekends virtually all year round.

 

Hollywood_boulevardHollywood Boulevard

Hollywood Boulevard definitely isn’t somewhere to take the kids at night, but it is a fun and even educational family destination by day. Kids can learn the rich history behind Hollywood and the film industry by looking at the stars outside Grauman’s Chinese Theater, have fun taking pictures with the various celebrity waxworks at Madame Tussaud’s and look at movie memorabilia at The Hollywood Museum.

 

Griffith_9136The Griffith Observatory

The Griffith Observatory is one of the most beloved attractions in Los Angeles, and it’s a genuine cultural icon. Here you’ll be able to enjoy stunning architecture, gorgeous views of the city and the chance to observe the stars and learn a thing or two about astronomy. Children have adored coming here since it first opened in 1935, and is an educational attraction really not to be missed out on.

 

IMAX_at_California_Science_Center

The California Science Center

The California Science Center is billed as the West Coast’s largest interactive science center and is both educational and a lot of fun for kids of all ages. And the best part? Permanent exhibitions are always free to visit! Kids will learn a bunch about science, aerospace and aircraft as they tour the various exhibitions and take in the numerous onsite aerospace and aircraft vehicles. Just make sure you bring your camera, as there’ll be plenty of great photo opportunities.

 

There’s certainly no shortage of educational attractions for families in LA, and above are some of the very best. Instead of hitting the mall this weekend, take the kids to one of the above attractions – you won’t regret it!

Where do you like to take your kids in LA?

Learning is Fun

Happy Koninginnedag – April 30th

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Koninginnedag, also know as Queen’s Day, is celebrated in the Netherlands on April 30th.  It pays tribute to their Queen Beatrix who has been serving as Queen since April 30, 1980, when her mother abdicated the throne to her.  She is carrying on that tradition and plans to abdicate her throne to her son Willem-Alexander.  Once he is king, the Dutch will celebrate Koningsdag, or King’s day, on April 27th (which is his birthday).  Willem-Alexander will be the first male monarch since 1890.

Want to send well-wishes the Royal Couple? You can do that here.

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Photo from Holland.com

People celebrating Queen’s Day often wear orange or dye their hair orange to “represent the House of Orange-Nassau, which rules over the Netherlands.”

Celebrate Queen’s Day with these fun activities:

Learn to speak in Dutch at Digital Dialects.

Learn to play the traditional children’s game of Hul Gul.

Learn about a Kid’s Life in the Netherlands.

Make a windmill craft.

Color a map, flag or tulip at DLTK.

Want a Dutch au pair?  Check out a few of our great candidates from the Netherlands.

Stephanie M.

Maya H. 

Are you interested in being an au pair and traveling to The Netherlands? Au Pair International place au pairs all over the world, including The Netherlands.  Find out more!

Contests

Drumroll please… Winner of the Mystery Kid Picture Contest

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We would like to thank all our au pairs who submitted pictures for our contest.  We received many wonderful entries.  The votes are in,

 

And the winner is…..

 

 

Bubbles

 

 

Beautiful Bubbles, by Luisa!

 

Congratulations Luisa!  Your prize will be sent out soon.  

The next picture contest is Fabulous Vacations.  Send us your most fun, unique, or artistic vacation photos you have taken since coming to the U. S.

Please include a little write up about the experience, who you were with and your favorite parts.  Contest deadline is May 12th.

Amazing Au Pairs

Childcare for Children with Autism – Finding Someone You Can Trust

According to the Talk About Curing Autism website, “More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes & cancer combined”.  They state that as of April 2012 1 in 88 children have autism compared to the CDC’s December 2009 report of 1 in 110 children.  Obviously this is a growing issue that presents new challenges to families.  One major concern for working families is child care.  Many child care facilities feel they cannot meet the needs of these children and parents are left feeling frustrated and hurt.  The National Center for Biotechnology Information reports “Thirty-nine percent of the parents of children with autism spectrum disorder reported that child care problems had greatly affected their employment decisions.”

KidsHealth offers these tips to people caring for children with autism.

  • Follow the child’s routine, especially at bedtime or mealtime. Kids with autism prefer structure and can get upset if routines are different from what they’re used to.
  • Ask the parents about the child’s favorite toys so you can play with them. Go slowly. One tactic is to sit alongside the child and mimic his play. That might attract his attention and lead him to join you.
  • Special toys can help you encourage the child to cooperate. For example, you might say, “If you brush your teeth, you can play with your toy car.”
  • Don’t be offended if the child decides to play alone or limits interactions with you. This is part of the disorder.
  • Maintain a calm environment. For example, skip a trip to the playground when you know a neighborhood gathering is likely there. Avoid bringing your friends or other people the child may not know into the home.
  • Go slowly when it comes to physical contact. Find out from the parents how their child reacts to affection. A quick hug or light tickle could set off a child with autism.

 

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Celeste is an au pair from South Africa for a family in Arizona with a child with autism.  She has shared her experiences with us.

Did you have experience with special needs or autistic children before you went to your host family’s house?

I had worked as a high school teacher back in my home country for two years.  In a school environment you deal with a lot of different children.  I have a special needs friend and family members with dyslexia, but other than that I can’t say that I have experience in working with special needs children.  I was aware of the fact that it wasn’t going to be easy, and I also knew that I would gain a lot of experience and personal growth in working with this family.
2.       What did the family do to help you get to know their children?

They gave me a neat family handbook with information on each person’s personality.

3.       What is challenging about working with children who have autism?

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One needs a lot of patience and understanding, and I think the most challenging for me is that a lot of the things they do and the way they act will sometimes seem like its naughty child behavior.  But truth is that they act in certain ways we don’t understand because of things they’re struggling to cope with and because the understanding of social cues doesn’t come natural to them.

4.        What do you love about working with children with autism?

I love that every day is a challenge.  I love how much I learn each and every day, not just about them and autism, but also how much I learn about myself.  They helped me look at the world in a different way and appreciate that I have health and friends.  I love how they find things fascinating that we overlook every day.  It’s fulfilling to see how they make progress every day and how far they have come.  They are remarkable kids and I’m very proud and feel very privileged to be a part of their lives.

5.       Do you feel you make these children’s lives better?  How?

I feel that they make my life better.  Being with them every day is fun and they put a smile on my face.  They get really excited and enthusiastic about things they’re really interested in.  Even just hiking or baking brownies.  I guess I make their lives better by showing them love and understanding and by helping to teach them live skills every day.

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6.        What activities do you like to do with them?

We like to go hiking, play at the park and swimming.  S. enjoys painting, singing, dancing, reading and playing dress up.  They like to play “Just Dance” on the Wii.  A. loves to talk and watch videos about the weather, fireworks and explosions.  He also loves to sit outside when there’s a storm coming and watch the clouds and lightning. The boys really enjoy to do science experiments and to make their own crystals.  J. likes to swim, watch cartoons, play board games, read and help me bake cookies or brownies.  We also enjoy going to the Children’s and Science Museums together.

Au Pair International has au pairs with experience with children with autism.  Check out some of their profiles.

 

Maria G.

Marypaz A.

 

Fun Stuff

Go Take a Hike – Free Entrance into National Parks April 22-26

Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park

Spring is in the air.  What would be a better way to celebrate than to get out and enjoy the beauties of springtime in our National Parks.  There are 401 National Parks and all of them are not charging an entrance fee April 22 – 26.  You can find the one closest to you at the U.S. National Parks website.  Here are some ideas of things to do.

 

Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park

Take a Hike: Nothing compares to the beauty of walking though a National Park where you can see and hear all the wonders of nature.  You might see a moose or deer and even if the biggest thing you spot is a chipmunk, you will still come away being rejuvenated and refreshed.

 

 

Take a Picnic:  If you don’t have a lot of time available, you can still talk a little time and enjoy a picnic at a National Park.  Picnics are also a great alternative for parents with small children who wouldn’t be up for a long hike.

Arches National Park
Arches National Park

 

 

Take a Drive:  Even if the weather isn’t warm enough to get out of the car, there is a lot of beauty to be seen by just driving through a National Park.  Many National Parks will also have visitor centers with the history of the area and information about the animals you can find in the park.

 

What is your favorite National Park to visit?

Fun with Food

Healthy and Fun Snacks for Kids!


Parents want their kids to eat healthy, but au pairs often have a difficult time getting their kids to eat healthy foods.  Here are some fun ideas for easy snacks that parents or au pairs can make with their kids.

HFhummus

 

 

 

Fresh Made NYC has a great recipe for Amazing Rainbow Hummus.  The colors are so amazing and you can dip pitas bread, pita chips, veggies and crackers.

 

 

 

HFfruitcheese

 

 

The Nourishing Home has these fun Fruit and Cheese Kabobs.  What a great way to get kids to try different cheese by cutting them into fun shapes.  You could also cut shapes out of melons and use different berries to bring a lot of color into the snack.

 

 

 

HFufo

 

 

 

What kid wouldn’t love to wake up to an UFO on their plate?  Spoonful.com has this great, protein-rich recipe for a bagel and hard-boiled egg UFO.  Aliens not included.

 

 

 

 

 

HFhungrycat

 

 

 

How cute is this Very Hungry Caterpillar snack from Cute Food for Kids.  You could read the book together and then pretend to be the Very Hungry Caterpillar while you much this healthy snack.

 

 

 

 

 

What are some fun and healthy snacks you like to make with kids?