American Heart Month
As Valentine's Day draws near we are surrounded by paper hearts of all sizes. Take a moment to learn about the heart that beats within us by
Ground Hog Day
In this fun tradition brought by German settlers, the groundhog is supposed to wake up on February 2nd and come up out of his burrow. If he sees his shadow, he will be startled and return to the burrow for six more weeks of winter. If he doesn't see his shadow, he remains outside and starts his year because he knows that spring has arrived early. In the U.S., the "official" groundhog is kept in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and is called "Phil." Learn more about Punxsutawney Phil.
Endangered Species ActIn 1973 the United States passed a law to protect animals that were in danger of becoming extinct. Tigers, elephants, otters, and mountain gorillas are all in danger of disappearing from the earth. Draw a picture of these animals, visit the zoo to see them, and learn more about endangered species.
2017 marks the 51th Super Bowl. It is being held at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. The Super Bowl is the annual American Football championship and a popular time for friends to gather in front of the TV.
Learn more about football.
Besides football fans, the show attracts watchers for the half-time musical entertainment and also for the ads! Wondering what that's about?
See ads from the past several years
Dental Health Month
It is always important for children to brush their teeth, but here is a special reminder! Brushing should last 2-3 minutes; use a timer to see how long the children actually brush. Visit
www.healthyteeth.org for information, science experiments (do you know what happens to bone if it is soaked in vinegar?), and games about teeth. This is a good time to read books about loose teeth or going to the dentist.
Build a House
Build a Playhouse DayFind a box from a large appliance and turn it into a playhouse to use indoors. Cut windows and a door. Furnish it and decorate it as you wish.
Black History Month
February is Black History Month. Look for books at your local library or exhibits at your local historical society. Read more about it at
Pancake RaceThe first International Pancake Race was held on this day in 1950 in Kansas. The women in the race wore dresses and aprons and covered their heads in scarves as they carried a pancake in a skillet. Each woman had to toss the pancake three times as they ran a 415-yard (380 meter) course. This would make a funny race for children with a shorter course and lightweight frying pans. Or you can tell them a story and make pancakes to eat, instead of racing with them! Try this recipe for Chocolate Chip Pancakes.
Through the ages, many cultures have paused to celebrate love and romance in mid-February, but Americans use Valentine's Day as an opportunity to tell almost everyone how much they care. Children usually exchange cards at school. Even more importantly, the observance of this day encourages a spirit of goodwill and respect for fellow human beings. Valentine's Day truly is a time of love, friendship, giving, and caring.
for Valentine's Day ideas and games.
Post OfficeOn this day in 1792, the first postal service was created in the United States. Preschool and young elementary age children will love to create their own post office at home. Click here to see how.
Galileo's BirthdayBorn in 1564, this Italian physicist and astronomer is famous for his experiments dropping objects from the leaning tower of Pisa. You can conduct your own simple falling object experiments using two items that are different in weight – a piece of paper, feather or cotton ball dropped at the same time as a crayon or a stone, or whatever you can think of. Try different combinations with the children and record the results. Be sure not to drop anything breakable or where another person might be standing.
Louis TiffanyBorn in 1848, Tiffany (whose father started the Tiffany jewelry store) was a very fine painter but is best known for his work in stained glass. Make your own "stained glass" with broken crayon by following these easy instructions.
Presidents' DayPresidents' Day is a Federal holiday created to commemorate the births of former Presidents George Washington (Feb. 22) and Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12). Throughout America, Presidents' Day is observed by big sales in the stores, closed schools, and no mail delivery. Things to do with children: The United States has had more than 40 presidents. How many can the children name? Who has been president during their lifetime? Take a look at American coins and bills; who are the Presidents pictured on each coin and bill?
National Engineers Week
Every day we use things that have been created by engineers. Sports equipment, high tech clothing, cars, planes, and even plastic bottles were all designed by engineers. Children in middle and high school can explore this fascinating topic. See how long a list of things you can make that wouldn't be in our world without engineers.
Treasure Hunt!Pretend you are all on a deserted island looking for treasure. Make a map or place clues around the house leading the children through the hunt. This can be done with pictures for non-readers – draw a picture of the television, then at the television place a picture of the stove. At the stove place a picture of a bed, and so on to the end. The "treasure" can be a treat to eat, or a new game to play. Read books about pirates to add to the fun.
Visit a Greenhouse Today!Find a local greenhouse to visit. Let the plants and flowers brighten your day!
Mardi Gras, or "Fat Tuesday," is the last day of the Carnival season as it always falls the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. New Orleans, Louisiana, is famous for its celebrations.
A football field is 100 yards long. The line dividing the field in the center is the 50 Yard Line. There are other lines marking the field off into 5 yard sections. There is a Goal Post at each end of the field, in the End Zone, one for each team.
Each team has an Offense and a Defense. When the Offense of one team is on the field, the Defense of the other team is on the field. The Offense has the ball and tries to score by getting it across the Goal Line - the line where the playing field and the End Zone meet. The Defense tries to stop them.
The Offense gets four tries to move the ball 10 yards toward their own goal post. These are called Downs. If they make the 10 yards or more, they get another four tries to move the ball another 10 yards. If they don't move the ball 10 yards in four tries, the ball goes to the other team, or the team “loses the ball.”
When a team loses the ball, their Offense leaves the field and is replaced by their Defense. The other team's Defense leaves the field and is replaced by their Offense.
Play is started by the Offense and Defense lining up facing each other. The Offense faces the direction of their Goal Post. The Quarterback passes (throws) the ball to one of his team mates. If he catches it, he runs toward the End Zone. If he makes it across the Goal Line, his team scores a Touchdown and gets six points. The team then gets a chance to earn an extra point by kicking the ball through the Goal Posts or two points by passing or running the ball into the End Zone.
If the team mate catches the ball, the Defense runs after him and tries to tackle him (grabbing him and causing him to fall to the ground). If he is tackled, play starts again at that point where the ball is. If the team mate doesn't catch the pass, the ball is dead and goes back to the previous starting place.
Sometimes a player of the Defense catches the pass. That's called an Interception. He then runs toward his team's goal and may score a Touchdown for his team. If he intercepts the ball, the other team's players will try to tackle him. Even if he is tackled, his team now has possession of the ball. His team's Defense leaves the field, replaced by their Offense. The other teams Offense leaves the field, replaced by their Defense.
A Football Game is made up of 60 minutes of play time. The 60 minutes is divided into four Quarters of 15 minutes each. At the end of two Quarters, there is a break called Half Time. On the Scoreboard you can see the minutes and seconds running out. The team with the most points at the end of four Quarters wins.
The Super Bowl is the final game of the Football season when two teams play each other for the championship. The game takes place in late January or early February. For some people the TV commercials are the best part of the Super Bowl.
Make your own “stained glass”
Spread out newspaper and make crayon shavings (a small pencil sharpener is perfect for this). Cover the ironing board with newspaper and sprinkle the crayon shavings on a square of wax paper. Cover with another square of wax paper and more newspaper. Press the paper with a warm iron until the wax of the crayons is melted. These look beautiful hung in the window! Make a frame out of construction paper if you wish.
National Soup Month
Split Pea Soup
2 cups green split peas
7 cups water
3 cups beef broth (canned or add bouillon cubes to water)
1 stalk of celery
1 medium onion
Rinse the split peas under cold water. Place the drained peas, water and broth in a saucepan. Break the celery into 3 or 4 large pieces and add to the pot. Peel and trim the onion and then place the whole onion into the pot. Heat the soup to a boil on medium heat, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. When the soup is done, remove the celery and onion and throw them away.
Chocolate Chip Pancakes
1 1/4 C flour
1 T sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 T baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 C milk
4 T melted butter
3/4 tsp. vanilla
3/4 C chocolate chips
Preheat griddle or skillet.
Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Mix together liquid ingredients and beat into dry mixture until smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour 1/4 cup batter for each pancake onto hot griddle.
Cook until the bubbles that form on top begin to pop, flip the pancakes, then cook a minute or so more.
Create your own post office
You need envelopes (you can use new ones or save the return envelopes from junk mail), a rubber stamp and inkpad, stickers and some paper. Children can write a note or draw a picture to put in the envelope. They can use the stickers as stamps and the rubber stamp to make the “postmark”. They can deliver the mail to bedrooms or you can create mailboxes by stacking a few empty shoeboxes on their sides. There can also be a box to mail letters – use a larger shoebox or a small cardboard box with the top closed and cut a slot to put the letters through.
Emma Willard was self-educated and thought it was very important for girls to teach the same subjects that were being taught to boys. She started the first school to teach math and science to girls and the first college to educate women.
Young children love to play school. You can take turns being the teacher. Read a book out loud in front of the “class” (Children that can’t read yet still like to “read” to others. If you have a small chalkboard or white board you can put assignments or lessons on the board. Paper and pencils are important for the work that needs to be done, but don’t forget to have recess!
Fun with Hibernation!
Animals handle cold winter weather in different ways. Some migrate to warmer climates. Some grow thicker fur coats so they can stay warm during the winter. However many animals hibernate during the coldest weather - they spend the warmer months of the year eating and storing as much body fat as they can and then live off this extra weight as they sleep in the winter. Bats, some mice, frogs and many squirrels sleep all winter. Others, including chipmunks and raccoons wake up once in a while to eat and then they go back to sleep. Have fun learning about the art of hibernation with your children during this cold time of the year.
The Story of Jumping Mouse: A Native American Legend by John Steptoe
Time to Sleep by Denise Fleming
When Will It Be Spring? By Catherine Walters
The Valentine Bears by Eve Bunting
Bearymore by Don Freeman
Bernard Bear’s Amazing Adventure by Hans de Beer
Wake Me in Spring by James Preller
Every Autumn Comes the Bear by Jim Arnosky
Chipmunk Song by Joanne Ryder
Naptime game: Play “hibernation” - pretend to be one of the animals you have researched. Curl up and “sleep” and then wake up HUNGRY for snack time!
National Pie Day
Pies are popular on holidays or any day and are easy to make if you buy a prepared crust in the freezer or dairy section of the grocery store. Try these favorite recipes with the children:
1 can pumpkin (or 2 cups mashed cooked fresh pumpkin)
1 cup brown sugar
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons molasses
3 slightly beaten eggs
1 cup evaporated milk
Mix together first 6 ingredients. Then add eggs and milk and mix thoroughly. Batter is very thin. Pour into pie shell. Bake 450 degrees for 45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.
Apple Pie with Crumb Topping
Peel, core and slice 6 apples into thin pieces. Toss sliced apples gently with:
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pile apples into pie shell. Blend 3/4 cup brown sugar and 3/4 cup flour with 1/3 cup butter until crumbly. Spread over apples. Bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes
Backward Day is a day to do everything backwards. Use your imagination, and Backward Day can be lots of fun. It's especially popular with school aged kids.
Try writing backwards or reading backwards. Wear your shirt with the back in the front. Eat your meal, starting with dessert. Now that's what I call fun! Walk backwards, or talk backwards. Play a board game backwards, from the finish line to the start. Are you starting to get the picture!?
Read more about Backward Day.
Click on a day to learn more!
I really feel like I have a family in America after being an
au pair. My host family is going to visit me and my family in
Sweden this winter and I cannot wait to see them!