Nature – The Ultimate Playground for Kids

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Every year parents spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on toys and activities for their kids. While many of things are great for keeping young minds and bodies active, many of them are unnecessary. Sure kids need structured play, but they also need “free” play and this is easy to do when the world’s largest playground is right outside your back door. Why not let them play outside?

Every toy, book, and TV show that comes out
has been designed and redesigned several times in order to make it educational and entertaining for children.  The great thing about nature is that, while being entertaining and stimulating to the imagination, it’s also educational. Nature can teach children the basics of science, economics, and creativity.

It’s cheap. Depending on where you live, Exploring nature is usually pretty inexpensive, if not free. It may mean going out in your own garden if you have one, local park, or perhaps going to the local nature center or state park (which usually have low cost fees or memberships). This way, you don’t have to pay for expensive toys, jungle gyms, or memberships to expensive entertainment centers, but you still get the benefit of stimulating and educational play.

It makes them think. Lately there’s been a trend in education towards inquiry based learning. Researchers have found that if students explore and experiment to figure out answers on their own, they’re going to learn better, and retain more information. It also helps them develop skills to be able to learn things on their own later. What better environment to learn things than out in nature.  There are lessons for kids of all ages to discover about the world around them.

It may help the world. Everyone these days is trying to be more green and more environmentally conscious. What better way to help do your part than to get your children interested in their own planet than right now when they’re young and impressionable? What might be a fun time for them now, might be a future hobby, career, or world saving invention.

It’s fun. While it’s easy to forget, childhood isn’t just for learning about how to be an adult, it’s also about having fun. Nature gives kids a chance to use their imagination and be free to just be kids.

While unstructured play outside is great for kids, you can also find a lot of places offering structured classes and learning sessions for kids that focus on the natural world. Check your local park, zoo, or museum. There’s a good chance they have classes you can sign up for, and since many of these places are not for profit, they’re usually affordable as well as informative.

Across the world, there are millions of dollars being spent to help promote sending your kids outside to learn from nature.  That’s because spending time withoutside play areas is so important for developing minds. It can also be a great escape for you as well.

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Organic Chemical Free Gardening Made Simple

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Every year, thousand of chemicals are poured into the environment and millions of gallons of water are needlessly wasted.  How? By growing plants. Sure, most of this is done by large agricultural producers, but some of it is still done in personal gardens. And that means that you can make a difference by changing your gardening practices. There are many agricultural producers who have done it, and you can use the same tricks to help your own garden, and the planet.

Pick appropriate plants. Not all plants are appropriate for the area you live in. While you might be able to control the temperature, humidity, and rain conditions inside your house, you can’t do it out in the garden. If you pick appropriate plants for your area, you may be able to avoid using fertilizers and saving on water too. Research, what plants are native to your surrounding areas and try planting them in your own garden. Wildflowers, are just that, they can pretty much be left alone and will thrive in most areas.

Pick natural repelling plants. You don’t need to rely on poisons to keep away garden ruining pests. Many plants produce chemicals that repel these animals naturally. By putting them in or around you garden, you can keep your garden safe with little effort and no chemicals. Plus, you can pick parts of these plants and use them to make products to keep them away from you too.

If you don’t want to plant natural repellents in your garden, you can use them to spray your plants without harming them or adding artificial chemicals to your garden. Many herbs like hot pepper, vanilla, and lavender can help repel insects from your garden.

Pull weeds. We’re all looking for a quick and easy way to safely get rid of weeds without chemicals, but the good old fashioned way is still very effective.  It you take time every day to pull the weeds you can find, you’ll only take a few minutes so it doesn’t seem like a lot of work.  You can even get the kids involved, just be sure to do it properly so you don’t spread the seeds around.  There are even some common weeds that are edible, just make sure there are no pesticides that could have gotten on them.

Crop rotation. Farmers all over the world use crop rotation to naturally fertilize plants. The concept is to change what crop you’re putting in a certain field each year. Plants use different nutrients and put other nutrients back into the soil. If you rotate crops that replace the nutrients the other plants use, you will have to fertilize the soil less.

You can use this same concept in your garden by planting different plants every year, or just rotating where you put specific plants in the garden.

My Organic Food GardenSo, you’ve made all these changes and are using a low-water, chemical free garden?  Well, you still haven’t done the most important thing: pass it on! One garden can make a dent, but more can make a bigger difference. Tell your friends, teach your kids, you can even visit their school and teach your kids friends! Every little bit helps make a better world.

 

 

 

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Keeping Your Toddler/Preschooler Safe in Your Backyard

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Perhaps your home is like many in the country. You have a pool or outside play equipment in your yard. Maybe you have a garden or shed which houses the tools you need for gardening. Your children could be hurt on any of these things if they’re not careful. The following are some things you can do to ensure their safety.

The best way to keep your toddler or preschooler safe in your backyard is to have adult supervision. If your toddler or preschooler is outdoors, it’s important for you to be there. You may have other things to do inside the house, but being outdoors with your child will allow you to keep an eye on them and keep them from danger.

After supervising your children, your next best method of keeping your children protected is to ensure the backyard is safe. Safety comes from having a clean yard, safe play equipment, and fences with gates to keep children from certain areas. It is also advisable to have locks on buildings where chemicals and tools are stored.

Outdoor play equipment can be a lot of fun for your children. However, if it’s not put together properly, damaged or made with inferior grade materials, it can be dangerous. Choose outdoor play equipment which meets or exceeds government standards for safety. Then be sure to instruct your children on the proper use for the equipment.

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Protect your children by providing fencing around your yard. This will keep them from wandering from your property without your knowledge, as well as keep others out. A privacy fence, one that’s tall and doesn’t allow people to see through, can also protect your children from potential predators.

Some children love to climb trees, but climbing trees isn’t necessarily something which should be encouraged, especially for very small children. Keep limbs picked up to avoid children tripping over them or picking them up and running with them. If there are stumps in the ground, remove them completely or plant flowers around it to make it more noticeable.

Gardens can be a great learning environment for toddlers and preschoolers, but you may want to keep it off limits to your children unless you’re with them. You’ll also want to be aware of the plants you have around your yard. Some plants can be poisonous if handled or eaten. For this reason, it is always a good idea to keep the telephone number for Poison Control available: 1-800-222-1222 is how to reach them 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Put yard tools and equipment up when finished with them. Don’t leave an idling lawnmower unattended. It may even be best to keep children indoors when the lawn is being mowed. This will keep them from being hit with anything launched during the process.

If you have a pool, do everything you can to ensure children cannot get into it unless a parent or other adult is present. Place a fence with a locked gate around it. Then keep it locked unless adults are in the pool. Do not leave children around the pool even for a second; if you must leave the area, take the children with you.

You know how important it is to keep your toddler or preschooler safe, even in your own backyard. The above ideas are a start. Remember, however – nothing will keep your children safer than being with them while they are outdoors.

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Pond Safety Tips

Ponds can be wonderful additions to your yard. They can provide a place to learn about nature and wildlife, as well as being a quiet spot in the midst of your garden or yard. Unfortunately, they can also be a hazard; it is for this reason it’s important to know these pond safety tips.

Perhaps your family has a large enough pond for you to go fishing. Or it may be a small pond in the center of your garden. No matter if it’s a huge pond or one that’s small; you’ll want to make sure everyone is aware of the rules and knows that safety comes first.

* When deciding where to place a small garden pond, try to locate it where children won’t be tempted to go to it. You may also want to place it where it can be easily seen from inside the house.

* Research the local ordinances where you live to determine what safety laws you have to follow. You may be required to place a fence around your pond if it’s a specific size or depth.

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* Let children know they’re not allowed near the pond without an adult. This rule stands for children even if they know how to swim. Ponds can appear to be safe but you can never tell where the safety ledge is within any given pond. The ledge may drop off quickly and they might not be prepared for it.

* Children should also be taught not to go in any water where they can’t see the bottom. Seeing the bottom is not a guarantee that the child will be safe, but this rule could keep them from going into a pond with dirty water where they don’t know how deep the water is.

* If there are animals around the pond which aren’t family pets, don’t go near them. They’re wild animals and might bite. If you’d like to watch the animals, do so from a safe distance with a pair of binoculars.

* Learn about the plants which may be around your pond, particularly if the pond was there before you arrived. Explain to the children that it’s not safe to chew on plants around the pond. Even though most of them won’t be dangerous, some may be poisonous. Learn to recognize what plants are there, which ones are poisonous, how to recognize problems associated with the poisonous plants, and what to do if someone ingests some of the poisonous plant.

* Do not drink water from the pond. Birds and other animals may come to the pond to drink. In the process they may also go to the bathroom in the pond. This makes the water hazardous to drink.

Your family may have your own pond safety tips. If you don’t, however, these tips will give you a starting place for creating your own.

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Mosquito Bite Prevention and First Aid

Most people love the summer months because of the warm temperatures and all the activities they can be involved in. It’s safe to say no one likes dealing with mosquitoes, though.

Mosquito Bite Prevention and First Aid

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No one likes to be bitten by mosquitoes or any other insect. In some instances it’s possible to avoid getting bitten, but not always. Here are some ways to avoid mosquito bites.

* Make sure there’s no stagnant water near where you work, live or play. Stagnant water is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Where would you find stagnant water? Pet water dishes, ponds, pools, empty trash cans, unused toys or old tires are normal culprits. Dump out anything that can hold water so mosquitoes won’t be tempted to stick around.

* Wear long sleeves, pants and socks when you’re going to spend time in areas you think mosquitoes will be. For added protection, spray a mosquito repellant on your clothing.

* Mosquito repellants containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) are thought to be the most effective. Spray it directly to the skin or onto clothing. It is considered to be safe for pregnant and nursing mothers. Children need a product containing 10% or less concentration.

* Some people prefer to avoid DEET altogether. If so, find mosquito repellants with Picaridin or oil of eucalyptus. While they may not be as effective as DEET because of their lower concentrations, they may do the trick for you.

* Stay indoors during the hours mosquitoes are most active. They are normally very active beginning at dusk and remain active until very early morning. Use any and all measures to avoid being bitten if you’re outdoors during this time.

* Repair or install screens to windows and doors. This is particularly important if you like to leave your windows open for fresh air at night. Having screens on doors and windows will keep as many mosquitoes out of your home as possible and outdoors where they belong.

How do you treat mosquito bites should you get them? As with any other injury you get, clean the area with a mild soap and water. Pat the area dry and avoid scratching it. The more you scratch the more you’ll want to scratch, which can tear the skin and cause it to become infected.

You can make a mosquito bite remedy by mixing two parts baking soda and one part water. This will create a paste when mixed well. It is then placed on the bites and will relieve the area as it begins to dry. The swelling and itching will also be reduced. Once the symptoms have eased you can wash the paste off with soap and water.

Apply a cold can of drink or ice cube directly to the bitten area. This will reduce the swelling and can help stop the itching. Aloe Vera gel is also a good treatment for mosquito bites. It is all-natural and can be reapplied as necessary.

Calamine lotion and hydrocortisone cream can also alleviate the itching. If the topical measures don’t do the trick, take an anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen or an antihistamine. If the area becomes infected, be sure to contact your doctor.

Mosquito bite prevention and first aid is something you’ll want to know now that warmer weather has finally arrived. Use these tips for avoiding the bite in the first place. And if you do get bitten, you also know how to care for the bites.

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Insect Bites: How to Relieve the Itch

Summer gets people moving from indoors to outdoors. The fresh air is invigorating but the insects are not. Here are some ways to deal with your bug bites so that it won’t ruin your fun.

Bugs are all around. In fact they are one of the most numerous species on earth. So, that means that you are going to see two or ten when you are outside.

If you spend a lot of time doing outdoor activities, here are some precautions you can take to keep bug bites at bay.

* Wear insect repellent – Mosquitoes can make your cool summer evening unbearable. Spray exposed skin (except the face) every couple of hours while you are outside. This can cut down on the number of bug bites.

Mosquito Bite Prevention and First Aid

* Wear socks in the tall grass and woods – Taking hikes along trails can expose your legs and feet to a number of unpleasant insects. Wearing socks does two things: they keep your feet cool and fresh, and they also act as a barrier for bugs. Anything trying to attack your ankles will come in contact with the sock so you can catch them.

* Know where the danger lies – Some bees make their nests in the ground. Fire ants can give you a nasty bite if you disturb their habitat. Mosquitoes love standing water. Knowing what to avoid can also help you stop getting tortured by bugs. Steer clear as much as possible from their stomping grounds so you keep the bites to a minimum.

* Wash off when you come inside – Remove dirty clothes and inspect them for any bugs that may have gotten folded into your clothing.

How to Treat the Itching of a Bug Bite

Even if you are super careful, you can still get bit by a bug. Ever heard of “no-see-ums”? They are named that for a reason. You won’t be able to see them but you will feel their presence.

Bug bites introduce a foreign substance into the body. It could be bug saliva or oils from their skin, or even venom from stinging insects. The body rushes to respond by releasing histamine to combat the invasion.

The one thing about histamine is that it can cause local and systemic reactions in the skin. One irritating reaction is itching. Once you begin to scratch an itch, especially one from a bug bite, it can get worse and lead to more itching.

Here are some ways to treat a bug bite itch.

# Clean the area – Use soap and water to remove dirt and debris from the area.

# Hydrocortisone cream – Apply to the affected rash or bite mark to reduce itching.

# Cold compresses – This can provide relief, especially if you have already done a lot of scratching. The coldness numbs any pain and can stop venom from spreading through the system.

# Antihistamines – Antihistamine tablets block the release of histamine so other remedies can work to stop the itch once and for all.

Are you being attached by mosquitoes, chiggers, ants and other bugs? Try to avoid them as much as possible, but if you can’t, use the above treatment suggestions.

 

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Are You Allergic to Bee Stings?

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A certain species of bees (belonging to the Hymenoptera order) are more likely to cause anaphylaxis in humans. If you have discovered that you are allergic to bee stings, prepare to stay safe while you enjoy the summer outdoors.

Anaphylaxis is a severe reaction to a food, insect or other substance once it enters the body. The effects are usually felt almost immediately. They can be life threatening if treatment is not administered right away.

For those who are allergic to bees, you may find that anaphylaxis occurs even if you have been stung before with no adverse effects. The venom of the bee enters the body and causes a severe allergic reaction.

Those who are allergic may experience:

Bee Sting

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* Swelling of the tongue and throat
* Dizziness
* Labored breathing
* Headache
* Nausea and vomiting

 

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After you have been exposed to a bee sting leading to a bout of anaphylaxis, your doctor will more than likely prescribe an epi-pen. This is an injector pencil that delivers a dose of epinephrine into the system to reopen the blood vessels and the airway. Epinephrine, or adrenalin, is found naturally in the body. It dilates blood vessels.

An immediate shot can provide enough relief to get medical attention. One thing to remember is that one epi-pen dose can wear off and the anaphylaxis begins again if the venom is still present. That is another reason why it is important to seek medical attention right away.

Preparing for a Summer Full of Bees

Don’t let your allergy to bees keep you from getting out and about in the summer sun. You can still live your life the way that you want by taking a few precautions.

One main precaution is to ask your allergist about immunotherapy. This consists of allergy shots to help boost your protection against any future stings. The more medicine that is in your system, the more you are protected. This doesn’t mean that you ignore a sting, but it gives you more time and control over the situation.

Here are some items to carry with you for first-line protection.

* Epinephrine auto-injector (epi-pen) – Your doctor has probably prescribed an epi-pen. They may even give you two. A second dose may be needed if it takes you longer than 30 minutes to reach medical attention. When one wears off the anaphylaxis may return. Carry them with you always in a cool, dry place. Check expiration dates to get a fresh refill if yours has expired.

* Use antihistamines – This can cut down on the amount of histamine released by the body. Histamine leads to the rash, itching and redness that are exhibited at the sting site.

* Salt or a credit card – Certain bees leave the stinger in the skin. This continues to release venom into your system. Using salt as a rub or a credit card, scrape over the surface of the sting area to remove the stinger.

* Cold packs – These reduce the pain and spread of venom so you can get help.

Those who are allergic to bee stings need to take precautions when spending time outside. This doesn’t mean that you have to stay indoors, just as long as you are protected.

An Epi-Pen Trainer will give you the confidence & skill to administer the essential medication if necessary.

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