A Month Of Things To Do with your Preschooler

Previously titled Things to Do with your 2 year old – too narrow, on second thought 🙂

Today I made this chart showing a month (or more) worth of weekday activities to do with a young preschooler.  This may be handy for yourself or another caregiver you know (like when Grandma or a sitter has the kiddo for a while and could use some ideas).

If there is enough interest, I’ll make new editions available.

You can click on it, click the magnifying glass and drag it to your desktop to print.

Your feedback and comments are very welcome.

Having days free with our young children is more and more rare – those of us who can do it, more and more fortunate.  They grow up fast.  Savor the time.


To Easy Bake, or not to Easy Bake?

This shouldn’t be such a hard decision.

Bee has this at the top of her list of gifts she’d like for the holidays.  Our hesitation isn’t because the toy oven has an age recommendation of 6 and up.  No… wait, is it 7 and up?  I’ll go look… hold on… holy cow, you aren’t going to believe this – they have it as 8 and up!?  You should be 8 years old to be able to place your hands carefully near a lightbulb?!

Anyway, no, the reason is that she made pancakes on the stove top just this morning (she’s 4), and has been cooking with me since she could stand.  She helps cook everything already.  It is true that she can’t reach the oven to put things in, or take things out – – but it is also true that the Easy Bake oven says that adult supervision is required (so that oafish 8 year old of yours doesn’t get in trouble with a lightbulb).

She wants to bake independently – and the toy isn’t even recommended for that.  It costs a good 6 bucks every time she’d want to make a cookie-sized little cake (pro-tip, you can make 3 actual cakes for that money).

The marketing and package design are sexist and entirely dismiss boys as a consumer.  Cooking isn’t for girls any more than it is for boys.  That notion is absurd and reflects an ugly history of keeping women tied to the home while men go out and earn – as offensive to the men who would prefer to be caregivers as it is to the women who want to pursue careers.

To some people, that is going to sound unfair. It turns out that (according to the reviews I’ve read) a big audience for this toy is the mothers that wished they had it as a child and now want to live vicariously through their children.  That it doesn’t occur to them to just bake with their kids is odd to me – but I know how nostalgia can be a heavy motivator.  There is the underlying point that their own parents didn’t get the oven for them for some reason.  I’d be willing to bet that ability to afford the toy isn’t the main reason (though it may have been the main reason given) – I imagine that since their own parents did a lot more cooking than parents do today, they had similar reasons for denying this toy to their kids:  they cooked regular food with the child instead.

And there is the problem area.  The “we’ll just cook normal food together, honey” solution didn’t satisfy the children in question (the one’s desiring to live vicariously through their kids today).  Maybe it is a sort of desire to do miniature cooking – maybe the tiny frivolousness of the venture is the main attraction and shouldn’t be dismissed so lightly?  Or – maybe it’s the advertising blitz this toy relies on.  Bee doesn’t watch commercial TV much at all (only on occasional Saturdays does she watch network cartoons) – and yet the commercials she’s seen for the EBO have made a big impression.

I don’t want this to be her Red Rider BB gun – the thing that she sits back and says “yeah, these are wonderful presents, but what I really wanted was that Easy Bake Oven”.  I’ve heard some interesting arguments for allowing your child to pick out trashy toys from time to time, so that they get a sense of self-determination and learn that sometimes things look better than they are – and that mom and dad are sometimes right about something being a piece of crap.

A substitute idea we have had is to get quality kid-sized baking impliments for baking real food in the real oven.  She already has a few – and we’ve seen some good ones out there.  The play kitchen, while not a complete waste of time/money/space has not turned out to be something she’s very interested in.  She wants to do the real thing – and more power to her.

Here is the part we came up with that I think might be brilliant:

Some complaints about the EBO are that it is too expensive, and that you can get a good quality toaster oven for that price.  Do see where I’m heading?  The mini muffin trays and cake pans we’ve seen on the market could fit in a toaster oven (I’ll check on this to be certain, but I know at least a mini cookie tray would easily fit).  We could also use it for strictly practical uses – heating/baking small things at lunch time, etc. (with more energy efficiency).  So – what if we had a chat with Santa about getting a real oven for Bee instead of a plastic piece of crap with a lightbulb in it and decals for temperature gauges and timers?  It wouldn’t cost any more – she could make a wider variety of things – it won’t end up unused in a closet somewhere even if it didn’t hold her interest.  So – a couple of kid-sized pans, good children’s oven mitts, and a run-of-the-mill toaster oven could be ideal.  Rational compromise.

We’ll run it by the man up north.


While you can get a regular toaster oven for less than an EBO – it would be of poor quality or too small a size, so we are 86ing the EBO subject in favor of just using the kitchen as usual.  Some kid-sized muffin pans and oven mitts are in order, though – hopefully they will scratch some of that EBO itch for the Bee.  Also, the notion of losing more counter space was weighing me down.  Maybe the suggestion would work for someone in other circumstances, though – and it seemed like a fun, smart alternative at the time.

stop the press:

Here is exactly what we wanted. Real non-stick cookware, real recipe cards with scaled ingredients.

Li’l Gourmet is the brand – they have some real sets and some play ones, the real ones are right on the money for us.

They also have a cupcake making set, a cake baking set, and others – – each have more decorating accessories than the Easy Bake brand, and they make food with ingredients you have in your cupboard, in actual batches.  The price is lower as well.

Kidos – software that kiddifies your computer

This sounds interesting.  Mac or PC friendly.


from their site:

About Kidos

Kidos is a revolutionary new platform for children’s learning and entertainment. Our free and easy download allows a child to use her parents’ computer as if it were her own! No more having to worry about files being accidentally deleted, settings being changed or kids closing the browser by mistake. No more cries of “Mommy!” every time he clicks the “back” button by mistake or the internet connection is slow.

Our secure, child-friendly and lightly animated interface lets children easily use all sorts of media: games, books, learning modules, music, video, and art. Best of all, it works on either a Mac or PC and…it’s free! You can also easily add your own music, art, photos, and video!

We’re busy aggregating the best children’s media from all over the world. Want to help your child learn a foreign language? You’ve come to the right place!

Kidos is currently in private beta. To take part in the soon to be released public beta, please sign up and we’ll notify you soon!

The Safe Side Follow-up/Review

this post is a follow up to this one

We all watched the Safe Side video together yesterday.  We enjoyed it and learned a lot together.  I especially like their use of language, a precise vocabulary using “Don’t Knows” instead of “Strangers”, and “Kinda Knows” recognizing that people kids have simply met are not necessarily people they know (an important thing to teach, keeping in mind that children are statistically in far more danger from people they kinda know than from people they’ve never met).

Bee enjoyed the video and she responded well during the times we were prompted to pause the video and discuss a segment.  The video also prompted us to make a list of three adults, not in her immediate family, that she has permission to trust/go with if we aren’t present.

The filming is kinetic (full of action and/or funny images to pair with important information – a proven memory enhancing technique) and the acting is well done and enjoyable.  The scenarios are presented in a realistic way – with a level of threat that didn’t frighten, so much as put the viewer ‘on alert’.  Teaching using fear can create the risk that a child will withdraw from information out of discomfort – the Safe Side video was carefully constructed to avoid that pitfall and to instill knowledge.

I don’t recall the age recommendation on the site, or video – – but Bee (four) is a good age for it.  I think she would have been receptive to it when she was three, as well.  Elementary school age kids may well be the prime target audience.

I recommend it first as something for you to watch with your young child, and second as a gift idea for grandchildren and families with young children.

Here is a tool linked to on the Safe Side site – a site that identifies the locations of registered sex offenders in your area.  Definitely something to be aware of.

Safety Tats

logo_safetytat3Safety Tats are temporary tattoos that you add your cel phone number to – and they seem like a smart idea.

I worry a little that they could make parents a little less vigilant, and I want to emphasize here that teaching your child to stay close and to know how to handle themselves if they become separated, or are approached by someone they don’t know, is most important (see this post).  But these temporary tattoos mimic the arm band programs offered at some amusement parks, and could obviously be helpful in some circumstances.

The Safe Side: Stranger Safety Resources

I stumbled upon this site this evening – if you can consider coming upon exactly what you were looking for on a search engine stumbling.  I can’t vouch for the quality just yet.  I’ve only requested a copy from my library.  I can, however, point out that it is John (friggin) Walsh whose lifetime devotion to helping put criminals behind bars stems from his son’s abduction – and this is a program he’s helped to create and he endorses, which is designed to prevent such things from happening to your kids.

It also involves Julie Clark… who encourages parents to use their TV as a babysitter from birth onwards, and is associated with learning deficiencies using the giant mistake known as Baby Einstein… but on the bright side, she has the sense to contribute her marketing expertise to this worthy project.

The subject of ‘stranger danger’ was starting to crop up around the edges of our day to day life (me and Bee’s).  She’s confident and outgoing – and has begun feeling comfortable being out of my sight in public places.  Before I screwed her up too badly with only my scattered recollections of how this subject is handled – I Googled.

Turns out even the word ‘stranger’ should be handled with care – and that its use in this program is apparently minimal (possibly even limited to the name on the DVD).  So I’m already learning something.


And, very helpfully, this LINK takes you straight to a page of several free downloads, including:

Stranger Safety Family Guide

Internet Safety Family Guide

Stranger Safety Teacher Guide

Internet Safety Teacher Guide

and even presentation guides for safety coordinators and law enforcement officers.

How cool is that?

Not cool enough?  How about the fact that a significant portion of proceeds go towards the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children?  Or the fact that you can even use this worthy program as a Fund-raising Opportunity?  Still not convinced?  You are one cold SOB, I don’t know what to tell ya.

Quoted below, you will find a message from John Walsh taken from the site.  I haven’t used it with permission – if they ask me to cut it out, I will – but I’m thinking they would probably appreciate the word getting out.

edited to add:  here’s my review

A message from John

I’m the host of a television show that I wish wasn’t needed, but is. I am the Host of ‘America’s Most Wanted.’

In 1981, the lives of my wife, Revé, and I were changed forever. Our beautiful son Adam —the joy of our lives—was abducted from a mall in a nice neighborhood of South Florida. Sadly, two weeks after launching the biggest search for a child that Florida had ever seen, our son was found murdered.

In my quest to find justice in the name of my son, and to fight back for victims everywhere, I lobbied Congress to change the laws and to change how police search for missing people—and in particular—children. My life’s work has been to protect children and others by changing laws and by catching criminals. I’m proud to say that the movement I started is still going strong. There’s not only a national organization dedicated to helping children (The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children), but now this country and its media are beginning to understand that our children are precious and need to be informed about how to stay safe.

In 1981 not much was known about child abduction and exploitation. Parents knew very little and, tragically, children knew even less. Today we’re proud of some of the knowledge and awareness that children have about the dangers that face them. Children see images everywhere of kidnappings, exploitation and the horrible consequences attached to these events. We only need to think about some of the scenes that parents and children have seen in the media in the past year — religious leaders who are pedophiles, Internet predators, and others who are in positions to take advantage children’s trust in them — to know that kids are still being victimized at an alarming rate.

I hope that’s about to change. As a crime fighter and host of a television program that has saved countless lives, I’m proud to be teaming up with a woman who knows how to teach children — the right way. Kids want to know what to do, and parents need to be prepared. Like me, Julie Clark is a parent who cares. She has the proven track record of teaching kids on both a local and national scale, and her passion and experience make this series of safety videos for children something that parents will want to have, and kids will want to watch.

The sadness that my family and others have experienced doesn’t have to happen. Now, thanks to my new partnership with Julie, parents and kids will do what I’ve been doing for more than 23 years — they’ll fight back with knowledge and awareness. Knowledge is power.

Studies: Millions of US Kids Lacking Vitamin D

In keeping with posts about the benefits of outdoor play, we have this article.

The researchers and others blamed the low levels on a combination of factors, including children spending more time watching television and playing video games instead of going outside, covering up and using sunscreen when they do go outdoors, and drinking more soda and other beverages instead of consuming milk and other foods fortified with Vitamin D.”This appears to be another result of our unhealthy lifestyles, including a sedentary society that doesn’t go out in the sun much,” Melamed said.