October 2022
Fun activities, aligned with the Pennsylvania Early Learning Standards, to help prepare children for school success!
We're Outside!
Help your baby notice the outside moving objects. Draw their attention to the leaves blowing in the wind, the birds hopping from branch to branch, the children on their bicycles. Try using touch and smell when appropriate to engage more senses. Get closer, take time to get down on your baby's level and view how they see the world. Read more.

Lay a rope on the ground and have your toddler follow or walk directly on it. Start with it in a straight line and then move it to different shapes (zig-zag, circle, wiggly, etc.). With it in a straight line, ask them to show you how they can move across the rope if they're pretending to be an animal, such as a turtle or kangaroo. Watch videos with animals moving to give your toddler more information on how animals move. For children with limited mobility ask your child to try the movement of the rope with their finger or eye movement. Read more.

Encourage your preschooler to use a magnifying glass to examine found outside objects. Ask them what they see when looking at different objects using the magnifying glass. Do they see anything with the magnifying glass they couldn't see without it? This is a great opportunity to introduce new vocabulary through braille, sign, written and spoken word. Explore not only what is seen, but how it feels and smells. Read more.

Take advantage of the sun by creating shadow monsters! Ask your kindergartner to create different shadow shapes using their body and encourage them to watch what happens to their shadow when they move. How does it change when they hold items in their hand (like a ball) or opens their jacket or holds your hand? Use this opportunity to teach descriptive words like tall, short, small, and round. Make predictions about movement in relation to the shadow. Engage all senses when playing in the sun with shadows, like asking your kindergartner how the sun feels on their skin and describing the things they smell. Read more.
9 Books about Going Outside
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
Inside Mouse, Outside Mouse by Lindsay Barrett George
Bump! Thump! How do we jump? by Janice Lobb
Inside Outside Upside Down by Stan Berenstain
Outside Over There by Maurice Sendak
Are You Ready to Play Outside? by Mo Willems
Feathers for Lunch by Lois Ehlert
Goodnight World Outside by Frances Gilbert
Sam Who Never Forgets by Eve Rice

Share Your Experiences with Humor in Raising Children in this Quick Survey
Have you shared your experiences with the use of humor in raising children in this quick survey? Whatever your experience has been (as a child or a parent), Dr. Benjamin Levi of the Penn State Children’s Hospital is interested in hearing about it. 

There are no right or wrong answers--just the opportunity for you to share your experiences about humor and parenting. The information collected will not be linked to any individuals, but it will give a better understanding of how humor can be used to help raise children. 

Thank you for your participation! A full explanation of the survey is available when you click here.
Reduce the Risk of Choking in Young Children at Mealtimes
Children under the age of four are at a high risk of choking while eating. Created for parents and caregivers of young children, this colorful four-page resource from the USDA Food and Nutrition Services includes tips on:
  • Preparing foods to make them easier to chew
  • Choking hazards to avoid
  • Ways to model and teach good eating habits
  • And more!

Encouraging the Development of Fine Motor Skills
From the time they’re born, children are working on their fine motor skills! Fine motor skills are the movements the hands and fingers make to grasp and manipulate objects. The way an object feels, moves or even tastes can help a child learn about the world around them.

Babies use fine motor skills to grasp the fingers of caregivers and clench their hands. Babies may grab or hold onto rattles or teethers and pass objects from one hand to the next. As a child becomes a toddler, they use fine motor skills when eating, playing and exploring the world around them. By the time they get to preschool and kindergarten, the fine motor skills they started developing as babies helps them learn to write, use scissors, button clothes, build with blocks and more.

Tips to help your child learn fine motor skills
  • Give your child opportunities to explore and manipulate age-appropriate objects. Put your baby down for tummy time when they can strengthen their arm, legs and back muscles. Encourage them to reach and grasp by holding rattles, teethers or other toys. As your child gets older, they can use their hands to explore items like foods, textures and more.
  • Encourage use of both hands. Did you know that being left or right handed can come from mom or dad? A recent study shows the same genetic markers tied to being left-handed may also play roles in brain development and communication between different brain areas. Although children may be as old as six years old before they show a preference for using their left or right hand, encouraging them to use either hand means they can more fully explore their world and learn.
  • Expect a mess. Messes can be learning experiences! When your toddler eats spaghetti with their hands, or your preschooler digs into the dirt, these are learning experiences using fine motor skills.
  • Use sign language skills. Before they can talk, babies as young as 4-6 months can begin to learn basic sign language, like more, all done, or milk. These basic signs are ways to communicate and can be steps towards building fine motor skills. Watch the video below for basic words in sign language you can use along with language to help your child communicate. 
Protecting Your Child From the Flu
Just as it does every year without fail, influenza season – also known as flu season – is coming. Many people don't realize it, but the flu can be a very serious illness. It causes thousands of deaths in the United States every year, some of which are among previously healthy children.

As a parent, the best thing you can do to protect your children from the flu is to get them vaccinated. Everyone around them should be vaccinated, too.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends everyone six months and older get the flu vaccine for the 2022-2023 flu season.

Each year, it is possible that flu, COVID-19, and other common viruses will spread at the same time. Last influenza season was longer than most. Sometimes, the vaccine is not an exact match with the strains in the community. But the vaccine still can protect against serious illness. Talk with your pediatrician about your child getting the flu vaccine along with other recommended immunizations. This includes getting a COVID-19 vaccine or booster, if they are eligible.

Check out these resources to help protect your child from the flu.
COVID-19 Vaccinations and Young Children
The number of COVID-19 vaccinations for children 6 months – 5 years of age is very low--in Pennsylvania it’s about 10%, and nationally it’s 8%. COVID-19 vaccines lower the chance of getting very sick from the virus. Vaccinated children are less likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19 than those who are not vaccinated. When more people are vaccinated, including children, there is less chance that other people will get sick.

Check out these great resources, available in multiple languages, to learn more about COVID-19 vaccinations for children: 

All Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC) pages are translated into Spanish. Select the Español button on the top right corner to see the Spanish translation.
Is your child meeting typical milestones? Use the Early Learning GPS to find out!
What do you expect your child to be able to do in six months or a year? How do you know if your child is meeting typical milestones? Learn more about children's developmental milestones and follow your child's progress with the Early Learning GPS. 

Answer 10 quick questions about your infant, toddler or preschooler's development and get access to reliable resources to help your child learn. Visit www.earlylearninggps.com.
Keeping Your Child Safe from Lead
Lead has had many uses over the years, from making paint flow smoothly or keeping your car from knocking, to hardening plastics. However, unlike other metals like zinc or copper, lead has no uses in the body. In fact, lead in the body is harmful. And lead that gets into the body stays in the body for a long time. It takes about 27 years for half of the lead that is taken into the body to be excreted.
Lead can affect every organ of the body. Because young children are growing and developing so quickly, they are more susceptible to lead's toxic effects. Find out what you can do to keep your child safe from the exposure to and effects of lead.
PBS Learning at Home
Children learn best through exploring, using all of their senses to understand their world. While playing, they are better able to focus on what interests them, but they still need lots of support from caring adults to help them develop the habits they need to thrive in school and beyond. Find resources from PBS to support child's early learning.
When Frightful isn't Delightful
It's the season for ghosts, goblins and scary things, especially for young children! Even if your family does not participate in Halloween activities, there are displays at stores, schools or activity centers.

10 Books about Being Afraid
Children can have many fears--of the dark, going to bed, or new places. The fears can change with their age or experiences, and sometimes we don't understand their fears. But for children, those fears can be very real.
Talk with your child's teacher, doctor or health care professional if your child is having difficulty with fears, or you feel the fears are causing problems with your child.
You can also read books with your child about the fears others may have and how they coped with those fears. PA's Promise for Children has a list of 10 children's books about being afraid.
Do you have a new preschooler? You need this!
Is your child now a preschooler? If so, you should sign up for the FREE monthly Kindergarten, Here I Come eNews! Each month get activities, tips and resources you can use to help your preschooler prepare for kindergarten. 
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The PA Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) provides families access to high quality services to prepare children for school and life success. 
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