Valentines Crafts for Kids

By Laurel Martinez, TLC Teaching Assistant & After School Teacher

Valentines is such a fun time to get creative with kids. There's themed art projects, fun snacks, and my personal favorite activity: red glitter playdough. Here are 5, teacher-tested, kid approved Valentines Day crafts for you and your preschooler to do together: 

Valentines Day Crown

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This cute Valentine’s crown can be tailored to fit the interest/involvement level of any kid. Add different stickers, glitter, markers, crayons, etc. Go themed with cute animals, or even use superhero stickers! Let the kids' creativity reign. This craft is so simple and needs very little prep.

What you will need:

  • Adhesive backed foam hearts
  • Poster board
  • Markers/crayons/etc.
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Stapler

Directions:

Cut the poster into strips and let them decorate their headband with markers and stickers. Then twirl up some pink pipe cleaners and staple the whole thing together. So inexpensive and fun. This craft hits fine and gross motor (allow them to try to twirl the pipe cleaner around a pencil, or even allow them to help you staple it together,for older preschoolers). Plus they can wear it and declare themselves Queen/King of Hearts.
 

Heart Shaped Bird Feeder

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For the preschooler who loves all things animals, this heart-shaped Valentine’s Day Bird Feeder is an easy way to combine social responsibility with the ooey-gooey fun of peanut butter.

What You Will Need:

  • Bread
  • Peanut Butter
  • Cookie Cutters (heart-shaped, of course)
  • Bird Seed
  • Twine or string

Directions:

Use the cookie cutters to cut heart shapes out of the bread (this is a great chance to use up any stale bread). You might have to help your child push the cookie cutter all the way through the bread, depending on age and skill level. Use a straw to poke a small hole at the top of each cutout. This is where the twine will go through, so you can hang your bird feeders outside. Use a butter knife to spread the peanut butter on to the bread (this is part of why stale bread is better). This is the messy and fun part for the kids. Then sprinkle the bird seed on to the peanut butter (best to do over a bowl). All that’s left is to string the twine and hang them up outside! So fun and eco-friendly.


Heart Glitter Jars

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Heart Glitter Jars are the perfect sensory valentines project for calming and focusing. These pretty swirly jars are so much fun for kids (and adults) to look at. 

What you will need:

  • Glitter
  • Clean glass bottles or plastic bottles (plastic is safer for younger kiddos)
  • Glitter glue
  • Water
  • Measuring Cup

Directions:

To start, pour most of a red glitter glue bottle into a measuring cup. Then add about the same amount of hot tap water to the cup. Mix everything together until it seems thoroughly mixed. Then pour the glue and water mixture into your bottle of choice. After that, just add a bit of heart glitter. The glitter doesn’t need to be measured – just add whatever you feel like. Easy and fun, not to mention sparkly. 

 

Magic Marbled Milk

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Magic Marbled Milk is pure science fun. Watch your kids' faces light up in amazement as this nifty little experiment. It’s an easy activity that is kid-friendly and clean-up friendly.

What You Will Need:

  • Milk (any kind of milk will do)
  • A bowl, casserole dish, or baking sheet
  • Food Coloring (especially red and pink)
  • Glitter
  • Heart cookie cutters
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Toothpick

Directions:

Place a heart-shaped cookie cutter in a shallow dish or baking sheet. Pour milk into the cookie cutter. It will leak out into the dish, but that’s fine. You don’t need much, just a thin layer that covers the bottom. Squeeze a few drops of food coloring into the milk. Then dip the end of the toothpick into the dish soap and then into the center of one drop of colored milk. Don’t stir it! Watch the color explode and swirl inside the heart. Repeat and enjoy this valentine’s science experiment. 

 

Red Glitter Playdough

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Red Glitter Playdough is another perfect sensory activity for little ones. I love homemade playdough and this no-bake recipe is perfect. Add some lavender essential oil for even more sensory fun.

What you will need:

  • Liquid food colouring
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup Salt
  • 1 tbsp Oil

Directions:

Mix the flour and salt and add the tablespoon of oil. Add the water and mix well. I usually start with a spoon to gather it mostly together then use my hands for the rest. Kids love this part and it’s a great opportunity to include them. Once mixed to desired texture add the glitter and mix again to ensure an even distribution. Add essential oils to preference. This is sure to be asked for over and over.

Note: Want to bring in some literacy? Use masking tape to spell out letters and have children roll out the playdough to spell the letters - this makes great name practice and hits motor skills as well!

 

All of these projects are totally teacher tested and kid approved. They’re super easy and most of the ingredients you probably already have at home! So gather the kids and get crafting! Happy Valentine’s Day!
 

How is Your "Engine" Running?

By Mia Girard, TLC Occupational Therapist & YogaKids Instructor

Hearing a story together in low lights helps our preschoolers calm their engines after fun and excitement outside.

Hearing a story together in low lights helps our preschoolers calm their engines after fun and excitement outside.

Daily life, even with its routines, can be overwhelming at times. When holidays or other new activities are added to the mix, making it through a week can feel like scaling a mountain. As a parent, there is always a lot to juggle and readjust, such as routines, sleeping habits, meals and days off school. Kids can also struggle with maintaining a consistent routine and adapting to changes, and while I know my children love excitement, they also do better with a consistent routine. As much as I love to travel, plan something fun for a weekend, and celebrate holidays with my family, the demands of juggling all the to-do’s can cause me to feel more scattered, forgetful and stressed….so my ‘engine’ tends to run fast!  What is she talking about with this ‘engine’ thing, you say? 

How Does Your Engine Run?, The Alert Program for Self-Regulation by Mary Sue Williams & Sherry Shellenberger uses the following analogy: “If your body is like a car engine, sometimes it runs on high (fast), sometimes it runs slow (low), and sometimes it runs just right.”

Interestingly, these three engine speeds normally occur throughout a given day, and no one way is right or wrong to feel. I can only go to sleep once my engine has begun to ‘slow’ before bedtime, and I do better in a high-paced yoga class when my engine runs ‘fast.’  I have learned that my engine needs to be running ‘just right’ to focus and to be the most present in the moment. The goal of this great program is to help children to learn a common language to describe their level of alertness.

When  ‘engines are running fast’ we may:
•    feel busy inside,
•    have a lot of energy,
•    want to move around and have a hard time sitting still,
•    And find it is hard to pay attention when we are running ‘fast’.

On the other hand, when  ‘engines are running slow’, we may:
•    have a hard time getting our bodies going,
•    feel sleepy inside,
•    want to rest and hold our head in our hands
•    And also have a hard time focusing or paying attention.

When  ‘engines are running just right’ we:
•    do our best talking, listening, learning and playing,
•    find it easy to focus and pay attention to what is going on around us.

In my household, to help with communication, understanding of stress levels and remaining as calm as possible, I frequently talk about my engine speed and how or why it changes. I can change it with a warm tea, a brisk walk, or accidentally setting off the smoke alarm.  I talk about exploring calming, organizing, or energizing sensory strategies using my movement, my mouth, touch, eyes, and ears.  My goal, and the goal of the program, is to expose my children to language that helps them to talk about and understand their body’s engine better. I also want children to know that while life can be stressful, we all use strategies to help with self-regulation (becoming more calm or alert). We all have our own preferred sensory strategies and use them, many times without even realizing it!
 
So, think about what makes your engine run too fast, too slow or just right, AND what changes it. Changes in routine? Jarring, loud noises? Somebody standing too close? Swinging in a hammock for hours? A warm cup of tea? Sitting for a mindful minute or two of deep breathing? And when your dog’s barking is making your engine run fast, causing you to be distracted, share that experience with your child! When you’ve taken a long quiet warm bath and your engine has slowed down before bedtime, talk about that too! This will help you to see how sensory events (e.g. your dog’s barking) and sensory strategies (e.g. mindful deep breathing) play a part in your life. It will help your child if you can talk about your engine, and share or model using your own strategies to alert or calm yourself so that they can learn this important skill from you, too!

What helps your engine run just right? 
 

Letting Wait Time Happen

By Kathy Keith, TLC Occupational Therapist

Kathy plays with a toddler during class.

Kathy plays with a toddler during class.

As an OT, I have gained much wisdom from the co-treatments I get to have with my friends, the TLC speech therapists. By working as a team with the speech therapists, I have learned more about the kiddos I work with as well as myself. In one area in particular, the growth has not only been tremendously beneficial for me but also challenging.  

Let’s start with the fact that I can be a little bit of a talker. I love to encourage, give praise, give direction (and sometimes re-direction) and can do so in a highly animated way. All great, but sometimes overwhelming for the listener. I have realized that sometimes I am so busy filling quiet spaces that I am not giving the child ample time and space to process and react to what is being said. So one thing that I have had to learn and practice is the art of WAIT TIME.  

Some kiddos can process all of the information and flurry of activity that we give them more quickly, while others need some time to take in the information, process it, and then do something with it. Innately, I know this; I talk about the importance of processing time frequently. Putting it into practice can be a little harder. The bottom line is that we all benefit from having some space and time to act.

“Go get your shoes,” or “I wonder what color that is?” or “Let me see you jump!” or “ready, set…….”  The recommended wait time before encouraging a response is around five seconds.  Five seconds? That doesn’t sound like much. However, when really giving wait time to a child (or adult), it can feel like an ETERNITY of quiet when you're waiting for a response. The response you're waiting on could be following a direction, answering a question, making a comment, or making a choice.  

One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three, one thousand four, one thousand five….

What I have found is that the challenge with wait time is my own challenge, and that if I do not choose to fill in the spaces with more information or by rephrasing the direction I just gave, it allows time for the response I am looking for as well as other productive and creative things to emerge. My advice, then, is to try to remember to always count to five when waiting for a response from a child you're interacting with. Sometimes, if we give them the space to think and process, they'll surprise you with the wonderful thoughts and ideas that go through their minds ...if we give them space and quiet to let those thoughts form.
 

Take Advantage of 2017 Tax Credits for End of Year Giving

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Dear Friends,

As a friend and supporter of TLC Learning Center, you know that our mission is to provide, in a fiscally responsible manner, comprehensive early childhood education and therapeutic services to assist each child in reaching his or her highest potential. In order to meet our mission, we rely on the generosity of the members of our community for support.

On December 22, 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law and will go into effect on January 1, 2018. The bill will significantly increase the standard deduction in 2018 and future years, and because of this, fewer of our donors will receive a federal income tax deduction for charitable giving. We have summarized a few points below to help you decide if it makes sense for your family to make a donation to TLC before December 31, 2017:

•    Donate before year-end to maximize your 2017 tax deduction - If you donate to TLC before the close of business on December 31, 2017, your donation will be deductible on your 2017 tax return before the new tax bill goes into effect in 2018.  
•    Donor Advised Funds - You are allowed to take a charitable donation deduction on your 2017 tax return by putting money or stock into a donor advised fund for future donations to TLC. Simply open an account with your wealth manager or online brokerage, fund it before December 31, 2017, and you will be able to deduct this amount on your 2017 tax return. This account can be used to make your future donations to TLC. Learn more about donor advised funds and strategies to maximize your charitable giving deductions in this article from the New York Times.
•    Double your benefit by donating appreciated stock – If you transfer appreciated stock to your donor advised fund or directly to TLC, your charitable donation deduction is the fair market of the stock at the time of the donation. You are allowed a deduction for the appreciated value of marketable securities, rather than your cost basis, which could significantly increase your donation deduction and avoid paying tax on your capital gain. 
•    Colorado Child Care Tax Credit – A donation to TLC qualifies for the Colorado Child Care Tax Credit. The credit is equal to 50% of your donation and reduces your Colorado income tax liability dollar for dollar on annual donations of $100,000 or less. Any unused credits carry forward up to 5 years. The Colorado credit is not impacted by the new tax bill, so we expect the credit to be available in future years as well. 

Please consult your tax advisor prior to making any charitable contributions. This is intended for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as tax advice.

Thank you again for everything you do to support TLC Learning Center and to give back to those in need! And thank you for taking the time to consider making a year-end donation to TLC to help support our program! Your gift is very much appreciated.

Sincerely,

Matt Eldred
TLC Executive Director
 

Please Vote "Yes" on 1A This November

A special message from Bobbie Watson, Executive Director, The Early Childhood Council of Boulder County:

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The County Commissioners have put a ballot measure on this fall called Worthy Cause IV, an extension of a 0.05% countywide sales and use tax which was first passed by Boulder County voters in 2000. These funds are used to provide non-profit safety net providers with funds for ‘bricks and mortar’-that is to either buy new buildings and/or expand/renovate existing buildings. I know that many of you are aware of programs who have benefited from these funds including: 

  • The OUR Center
  • The Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center
  • The Homeless Shelter
  • The Wild Plum Center in Longmont
  • Clinic Campesina
  • The Boulder Safehouse
  • EFAA, and many others.  

There con tinues to be increasing demands on all of our safety net providers. You may recall the Neighbors Helping Neighbors campaign in 2014 which passed with broad approval. Those funds go to support safety net program costs like salaries, program materials, etc. But our non-profit partners also need have up-to-date facilities in which to provide their programs.

That is why I am urging you to support Worthy Cause IV. The Early Childhood Council of Boulder County Board has endorsed this ballot measure. This extension would go until Dec 31, 2033, and revenues would be used in the following manner:

I urge you to continue to support your neighbors in Boulder County. Please vote YES on ballot measure 1A.
 

 
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Teaching Babies to Self-Regulate Themselves to Sleep

When you're this little, even a toy cubby makes a good space to curl up for a nap.

When you're this little, even a toy cubby makes a good space to curl up for a nap.

;By Shari Karmen, TLC Therapeutic Services Manager & Occupational Therapist

Sleep is so important to our everyday wellbeing. Babies, children, and adults all need sleep, along with food, to be self-regulated. Self-regulation is the ability to manage emotions and control body functions as well as maintain focus and attention. Self-regulation happens differently over the many stages of our lifespan. Self-regulation in an infant encompasses how an infant deals with a disruption (for example, a loud television) and regains control of their behavior so they can focus on what they're doing (nursing, eating, playing, etc.). In a preschooler self-regulation looks at how a child plays with others, learns to share and take turns.

If a child doesn’t have a healthy sleep and waking pattern, it makes it hard for them to learn. In babies we tend to see two issues with sleep that can cause problems with self-regulation:

1.    Fragmented sleep – many short periods of sleep, but not good long sleep cycles and

2.    Too much sleep, especially during the day. This frequently suggests a developmental issue. Daytime is when sensory stimulation occurs and the sleeping baby is not stimulated.

Parents and caregivers play a vital role in how babies learn to sleep. The amount of support given in the beginning impacts how much caregiver involvement is needed later on. This means if we teach babies early how to fall asleep in a healthy, self-regulating manner, the better off they are for sleep learning. It’s important for the caregiver to recognize:

–   Their decreased role in helping a baby to sleep;

–   Recognizing sleep cues and conditioning;

–   The infant's ability to self-regulate.

Having a consistent place to sleep is another important key to sleeping. Young infants have few self-regulatory behaviors, but as we teach them self-soothing techniques – pacifier, lovey – they become more competent self-soothers. Crying it out doesn’t work because babies don’t have the skills to self-regulate, calm, and then fall asleep on their own.

In the first few months of life babies show clear signs of sleepiness:

–   Yawning

–   Glazed eyes

–   Rubbing eyes

–   Heavy eyelids

–   Decreased sucking during feeding

–   No, or less, interest in interacting

–   Turning away from stimulation in the environment

–   Body movements become less organized

–   Fussy behavior

It’s important to recognize these cues and respond to them while the “sleep gate” is open. If you don’t catch the sleep cues within 15 minutes, “tired is wired.”

Place a drowsy baby in the crib and stay close by without touching the baby. A self-regulating baby will suck fingers, look around and then fall asleep. If the baby cries, wait for a time and then approach with a comforting voice.

If your baby continues to cry, approach and pat, but don’t pick up. Provide reassurance with your voice. If crying persists, re-enter the sleeping area with a “boring” visit. Stand close by, but don’t interact with the baby.

Encourage naps when babies are full. It’s easier to fall asleep with a full belly rather than after a baby has been stimulated with play. Between 6-8 months separation anxiety is heightened so parents are encouraged to move baby out of their room before this period if they are sharing a room.

Routines create predictable patterns. Babies with bedtime routines develop into toddlers and preschoolers with predictable bedtime routines. Sleep in the same location every night. Start to power down an hour before bedtime. Read books, play soft music, have a small snack, and other calming activities are pieces you can add to a bedtime routine.  Developing a consistent bedtime routine is key!

Happy sleeping!

Read more about cultivating healthy sleep habits in children:

Zzz! The Active “Sleeping” Brain 

By Brenda Lord, TLC Preschool Teacher

Sometimes you're too tired to even make it onto your nap mat before Zzz

Sometimes you're too tired to even make it onto your nap mat before Zzz

Infants, toddlers, and preschoolers are busy people. Parents and teachers alike know that young children can be constantly in motion as they learn to move through and explore the world around them. As children are engaging with their surroundings, their brains are flooded with new information. We all know that sleep is important, and many assume that sleep is critical for resting our bodies, especially for active toddlers. However, research indicates that this is not the case. 

Building Brains

Surprisingly, the brain is more active when one is sleeping than awake! When young children and adults are sleeping, their brains are busy building and strengthening connections within the brain. Words, movements, and ideas that are introduced to children while they are awake get built into more permanent knowledge while they are asleep. If children or adults are deprived of sleep, research indicates that learning simply can’t happen. Also, when you are tired, your brain is not as good at filtering out distractions and focusing on tasks. Loss of sleep in both children and adults hurts attention, working memory, mood, quantitative skills, logical reasoning, and physical movement. 

Naps improve the brain’s day to day performance. These short bursts of sleep are critical for developing bodies and brains. The information from children’s rich and social learning environments in the mornings can be solidified into lasting memories during their afternoon naps. 

Creating Good Sleepers at Home

Many children thrive on routines and structure. Recognizing this, the TLC classrooms have well-established routines around quiet time. Children are used to having quiet time at the same time each day in a darkened environment with cozy blankets and relaxing music. Their bodies become accustomed to slowing down at this designated time. Establishing nighttime routines at home might make evenings more relaxed and getting children to sleep more successful. Taking baths, reading books, and snuggling together might be part of your bedtime routines. In addition, deep pressure exercises and calming yoga poses can be effective at quieting young bodies. Doctors also recommend that children should not have any screen time—computers, TV, video games, cell phones—at least an hour before bedtime. These video screens produce blue light which affects melatonin production, a hormone that signals your body that it is time to sleep. Creating and sticking to structured bedtime routines is important for helping children establish positive, lifelong sleeping habits. 

Napping is for Everyone!

Lastly, some great news for adults! Those naps that we envy our wobblers and toddlers taking are just as productive and valuable for adults. In one study, a 26-minute nap improved NASA pilots’ performance by 34 percent. Unlike our children, adults, unfortunately, are rarely able to have an afternoon snooze. Even though biologically our brains are programmed to slow down between 2-4 pm, work schedules and the realities of life usually make naps prohibitive. When you get the afternoon slump, recognize that this is normal. Nap if you are able; otherwise, try not to schedule important meetings at 3 p.m. Your body will thank you. 

Bienvenidos a TLC Learning Center!

Traducido por Lupe Morales, TLC Profesor

TLC Learning Center: Enriqueciendo el éxito de todos los niños desde 1956

Bienvenidos a TLC Learning Center, donde los niños de todas las habilidades e historiales aprenden juntos en un ambiente enriquecedor y positivo. 

El centro de aprendizaje de TLC es un centro de educación infantil temprana para infantes, niños pequeños y preescolares con un centro de terapia pediátrica en el lugar ubicado en Longmont, Colorado. Nuestras aulas preparan a cada niño para kindergarten a través de alfabetización y currículo enfocado en STEM (Ciencia, tecnología, ingeniería y matemáticas. Desarrollamos un comportamiento social y emocional positivo en cada niño, creando un ambiente de aprendizaje holístico que se centra en todo el niño. Además del desarrollo cognitivo y socio-emocional, los estudiantes de preescolar TLC participan en Yoga para niños y jóvenes atletas para el desarrollo de habilidades motrices finas y gruesas. TLC ganó el programa de 2017 jóvenes atletas del año en Colorado.

TLC atiende a los niños en un ambiente completamente inclusivo y deliberadamente diverso para fomentar la compasión y el pensamiento crítico en todos nuestros estudiantes. Para cumplir con nuestra misión – proveer educación integral y servicios terapéuticos de la niñez temprana para ayudar a cada niño en alcanzar su potencial más alto – estamos calificados en el nivel cuatro por Colorado Shines. 

Nuestros salones de infantes, de niños pequeños y preescolares están abiertos durante todo el año para servir mejor a nuestras familias. El salón de infantes de TLC sirve a niños desde ocho semanas de edad. Nuestros salones de niños pequeños sirven a niños hasta 2 1/2 años de edad. Nuestro programa de preescolar sirve a niños de hasta seis años de edad. Todos nuestros salones de clase sirven a niños con desarrollo típico (que no se ha identificado ninguna necesidad especial o retraso en el desarrollo), al igual que a niños con retraso en el desarrollo o necesidades especiales. Salones de clase diversos son parte de nuestro modelo de aprendizaje totalmente inclusivo.

La terapia física, ocupacional y de lenguaje para niños de hasta 12 anos de edad ofrecida aquí en el mismo lugar permite al personal de TLC identificar retrasos en el desarrollo y necesidades especiales en los niños tan pronto como sea posible y proveer una intervención temprana para mejorar resultados a largo plazo. 

  Los estudiantes de TLC son de origen diverso, y estamos muy orgullosos de nuestros salones de clase totalmente inclusivos donde los niños con habilidades típicas (que no se han identificado necesidades especiales) aprenden y juegan al lado de otros niños con retrasos en el desarrollo o necesidades especiales. Salones de clase inclusivos promueven compasión y cuidado a los niños y se benefician ambos, niños con habilidades típicas y niños con necesidades especiales.

TLC fue fundado como The Tim Center en 1956 por familias locales, y ha servido a la comunidad con la más alta calidad de cuidado de infantes, de niños pequeños, preescolares y terapias pediátricas desde entonces. 

Tome un recorrido por nuestras instalaciones, aprenda sobre nuestros programas de Educación temprana de niños y nuestros programas de terapia pediátrica, lea nuestro blog, vea nuestro último boletín, hojee nuestro informe anual, o pónganse en contacto con nosotros para más información y programe un recorrido por nuestras instalaciones. ¡Nos complaceremos de tenerlos aquí! 
 

Celebrate Pollinators with Kids

June is pollinator month in Colorado, and you can learn more about these critical critters (bees, hummingbirds, moths, butterflies, wasps, beetles, and more!) at Save Our Pollinators Day tomorrow from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM at the Jefferson County Courts Administration Building (100 Jefferson Parkway, Golden CO). 

A bee covered in pollen

A bee covered in pollen

When most people (especially children) think of bees, they think of honeybees. Did you know honeybees aren't native to North America? While a welcome immigrant to this continent (honeybees were brought over in the 1600's to make honey), we have hundreds of native species of bees and pollinators who also need our care and appreciation. As most bees are not aggressive (and only lady bees have stingers), it's important to teach our children to appreciate these garden friends, without whom we wouldn't have 70% of the produce we eat. If you're having a healthy snack right now, thank a bee!

We're serious - let's thank the bees! First, get to know some of the bees that are native to Colorado. These include: metallic green bees, sweat bees, cuckoo bees, wool carder bees, leaf cutter bees, mason bees, carpenter bees, squash bees, digger bees, bumblebees, mining bees, and so many more! Each prefers a different kind of nest, with some, like the squash bee, burrowing beneath squash blossoms, and others, like the leaf cutter bee, making nests out of cut-up leaves to secure in a safe spot, like a hole in a wood post. 

A shallow dish with rocks and water provides a safe place for bees and butterflies to land take a drink

A shallow dish with rocks and water provides a safe place for bees and butterflies to land take a drink

Only 12% of Colorado’s bees like to live in a colony in a hive (known as social bees). The majority of Colorado bees are solitary, and would love to find an inviting bee house waiting for them in your yard (or a bare patch of dirt to dig in, or an old log they can burrow into - there are so many options for providing bees with a safe habitat).

You can help thank bees and celebrate pollinators with your children by making your home and/or yard pollinator-friendly through habitats and flowers. A green lawn without flowers is like a desert to a bee - no food, water, or place to rest in sight. Here are a few ways you can make a flower buffet and rest stop for busy bees with your own little busy bees:

 

Plant these flowers as suggested by the Denver Botanic Gardens’ Sonya Anderson, via The Denver Post

Spring: Crocus, tulips, snowdrops, hellebores, lenten roses, poppies, crab apples, serviceberries, false forget-me-nots (also known as brunnera), creeping Oregon grape, sweet alyssum, snapdragons, blue flax, pasque flower, mock oranges, currents, gooseberries, columbines, and bachelor buttons.

Summer: Salvia, lavender, catmint, yarrow, yucca, bee balm, black-eyed Susans, penstemon, snapdragons, verbena, coreopsis, echinacea, milkweed, agastache, blanketflower, gayfeathers, rabbit brush, button bush, and herbs like fennel, dill, oregano, and parsley which support both the immature and adult forms of butterflies (let them go to flower for the nectar).

Fall: Asters. autumn sages, Mexican sages, and goldenrods.

While we love bees, let's not forget our other pollinating friends, like hummingbirds! There are 11 species of hummingbirds that arrive in Colorado in April and will stay till September, drinking nectar and pollinating our plants while they're here. Plants that hummingbirds love include:

  • Flowers with red blossoms and a tubular shape. But they also feed on pink, orange, peach and purple flowers.
  • Bee balm 
  • California fuchsia
  •  Lobelia
  • Catmint
  • Columbine
  • Delphinium 
  • Firecracker penstemon 
  • Garden phlox 
  • Honeysuckle 
  • Indian paintbrush 
  • Maltese cross 
  • Pineleaf penstemon 
  • Salvia
  • Spider flower
  • Sunset hyssop 

(via Beauty of Birds). Remember if you put out a feeder for hummingbirds to keep it disinfected and clean. Dirty hummingbird feeders can cause an infection in hummingbirds that leads to starvation and death. 

A bee house that can be purchased at a bee supply store or built at home. Each tunnel has cocoons for leaf cutter bee eggs. The Plexiglas cover lets children peak at the progress the momma bees have made in laying their eggs and taking care of their young! When these eggs hatch, they'll fly out into your garden looking for food from flowers. (Image via The Bees Waggle)

A bee house that can be purchased at a bee supply store or built at home. Each tunnel has cocoons for leaf cutter bee eggs. The Plexiglas cover lets children peak at the progress the momma bees have made in laying their eggs and taking care of their young! When these eggs hatch, they'll fly out into your garden looking for food from flowers. (Image via The Bees Waggle)

Switching Hats: Teacher to Parent

By Amanda Brunning, TLC Preschool Teacher & Parent

TLC Infant Lead Teacher Debbie Van Thuyne with a friend

TLC Infant Lead Teacher Debbie Van Thuyne with a friend

I have been working with and teaching children with special needs and their families for the past eight years. I have been through many emotional roller coasters with parents and have been a part of many conversations where parents just needed to vent and I was happy to listen. I tried to be as much help as I could, but before becoming a parent myself, my view was limited and I couldn't say that I knew what it was like to parent a child with a disability full time.

Teachers in early childhood have kids from four to eight hours a day before they go home and we're off duty. We work with the children in a controlled setting and on a consistent schedule. We have extensive training and on-hand tools that we can draw from and utilize when a child is having a hard time. Life outside the classroom - with families, in public places - is very different and far more unpredictable than classroom life. As a teacher, I have preparation and immediate assistance for handling trying situations and behavior on top of my primary job of helping teach children educational skills and positive social behaviors,  but when a person becomes a parent, there's very little preparation for the next 18+ years of caring for and raising children of any ability. Children don't come with handbooks, and parents have to learn as they go.
 
My husband and I had been going through the adoption process for several years, and nine months ago we were matched and placed with a 7-month-old little boy with Down syndrome. I would love to say - with all of my experience and degree in early childhood and special education - that I was prepared. In truth, I did not feel prepared at all. I knew that this beautiful little boy would need pediatric therapies and that TLC would be the perfect away-from-home-home for him when I went back to work, and that the therapists would work with him both at our house and in the TLC infant nursery, and that was a huge relief when I felt overwhelmed. I was so thankful for all the help from my co-workers in getting his therapies and early interventions in place and for helping the process of transitioning our son into our home go as smoothly as possible.

After he arrived, every day was a new experience and a new visit to a new doctor. In the first few months of having our little boy we saw so many different doctors and with each doctor we felt overwhelmed at what this new doctor could say or what that visit could bring. His therapist became my go-to when I was unsure what advice to take, what direction to go, or when I was trying to figure out if something going on with him was normal for his diagnosis, or when I needed guidance on what I needed to do to help him grow and develop. His infant teacher at TLC is my other go-to when I have a parenting/infant question, and I no doubt ask her a million questions a day. Debbie (the TLC infant teacher) has also listened to me vent about everything from difficulties getting him to sleep to doctors appointments that we came away with no answers or nerves about surgery. These people have become part of our support system and we are so thankful for them. In stepping into the role of parent of a child with special needs, I'm finally getting to walk in the shoes of the parents of kiddos I've worked with throughout the years, and I feel even more connected to them and struggles that come with parenting young children.
 
Switching hats to the parent roll has opened my eyes to so much of what families with children with special needs can be going through. I hope that my new roll as this beautiful little boy's mommy can help me grow as a teacher and better support the children and families better that come into my classroom.

Through all the struggles, the late nights, spit ups, and parade of questions, I wouldn't change a thing, and I'm so grateful to my TLC support group.