Homemade Finger Paint

Anyone who has spent even the shortest amount of time with a 1 year old can tell you that they put EVERYTHING in their mouths. Between trying to find comfort in teething and exploring their bodies, anything that makes it in their hands eventually ends up in their mouth. So when Baby F ended up with a mouth full of blue Melissa and Doug finger paint you could imagine the feeling of angst that overcame me as I rinsed the blue goop from her little toothless grin. I know, I know…I should have known better but that day I greatly underestimated the speed at which a determined 12 month old could move. After being reassured by the overly patient rep at Melissa and Doug that Baby F would not blow up into a blueberry like Violet Beauregard I decided to save myself stress in the future, I’d pack up the finger paint for a few months and just make some homemade paint for the time being. Even non-toxic paint from reputable companies like Melissa and Doug is chock full of all kinds of nasty chemicals. So I hit the internet and after some research I found this recipe to be a safe alternative to the usual kid paint!


Appropriate for:

  • Infants
  • Toddlers
  • Preschoolers

*with help from an adult.


Why we love it: Sure, it’s not exactly like “real paint” but it is completely natural and free of harmful chemicals. It is also a great sensory activity for children, which is a great for brain development!

Ingredients:

  • 3 TB sugar
  • 1/2 C corn starch
  • 2 C water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • food coloring

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients into a medium size sauce pan
  • As the mixture begins to thicken on medium-high heat begin to slowly whisk to remove any lumps that form
  • Once the mixture reaches desired thickness, remove from heat, whisk once more and allow to cool
  • Once cooled scoop the mixture into separate small containers (I used mini glad containers, but baby food jars would also work)
  • Add a couple drops of food color into each container and mix (Don’t be afraid to get creative when creating colors-I mixed colors to make orange, purple, teal, and lime green!)
  • Store in refrigerator for several days to avoid mold growth. If mixture becomes too thick add a little water, reheat, and whisk out any lumps.


*Even though this recipe is made completely of edible ingredients, aside from the occasional handful in the mouth, try to limit the amount of “paint” that is ingested. I wouldn’t want your little one to get a tummy ache! 


(Kinda) New Beginnings 

Almost exactly one year ago, my husband and I packed up our little life in Brooklyn and moved to the suburbs of Philadelphia! Leaving behind all my “kids” that I’ve cared for over the years was definitely not easy. (Especially Little A, who ended up moving out to Northern California around the same time we moved.)  I feel fortunate to have formed so many friendships with other nannies, parents, and teachers. They were  undoubtably a necessary support system for me over my 5 years in NYC, which is so important when working as a nanny. The reality of nannying is that it can be lonely at times. Especially since your only “co-workers” are usually under the age of 10. While I miss Brooklyn it’s been fun starting over in a new city. For the last 9 mths I’ve been caring for a sweet (now) 14mth old, Baby F. Reexperiencing the joys (and challenges) that come with caring for an infant has been amazing and being able to encourage and witness all of her developmental milestones has reminded me why I got into childcare in the first place! Now that I’ve finally found my groove you can definitely count on me posting more regularly…

So cheers to babies, philly, and (kinda) new beginnings! 

xoxo

Homemade Goldfish Crackers with a DYI Cookie Cutter!

IMG_8438IMG_8443

A couple of weeks ago I attempted to make homemade fruit snacks, which turned out to be an epic fail. They looked pretty, they tasted alright, but the consistency was very strange. They boys apprehensively ate them, but I’m pretty sure they were just being polite. In order to redeem myself and give my ego a much-needed boost, I decided to make a recipe that has never failed me in the past. Goldfish crackers! It’s been a while since I’ve last made them, but I knew the boys would devour them. Not out of pity but because they’re actually good…and healthy! I wouldn’t consider myself a health nut (I’m a strong believer in the motto “everything in moderation”), but I am, however, extremely conscience of what the boys are eating. And while goldfish crackers are a healthier alternative to other snacks, I feel if I can make a better option-one with no preservatives and unnecessary added ingredients-why not?

IMG_8406

 Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons of salted butter cut into small pieces
  • 2 cups of shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese (or you can experiment with other cheeses!) *For orange crackers be sure to use yellow cheddar.
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • OPTIONAL: 1/8 teaspoon of onion powder. This does not give the crackers an oniony taste, but adds a little flavor. I definitely recommend it

 Directions:

  • Pulse flour, onion powder, and pepper in food processor until blended. (If you do not have a food processor you can also use a pastry blender.)
  • Add butter and cheese. Continue to pulse
  • Slowly add 1TBS of water of water at a time (You will need approximately 3-4 TBS) until the dough forms a ball onto of the blade
  • Remove ball of dough, wrap in plastic wrap, and place in fridge for 15 minutes
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper
  • Once chilled, roll out dough to about 1/8 inch (the crackers will puff up slightly when baked) and begin to stamp out the crackers
  • Bake for 13-18 minutes, until slightly golden
  • Allow to cool fully before eating. Next day tastes the best!

IMG_8427

I made the little adorable mini goldfish cookie cutter by hand. Click here for a tutorial! If you’re not so crafty, you can purchase one from online. When it comes to actual stamping, I must admit it is a daunting process. You will feel like you’re cutting out little fishes forever. Half way through Little A and I used his slightly larger animal shape cutters, and made animal crackers. Don’t limit yourself to just “goldfish” crackers. Use what you have handy, if it helps! Happy Fishing!!

Little Snowy Toes

With all the hype of recent Blizzard Juno, I thought I’d share one of my favorite winter inspired craft. These adorable “snowy toes” snowmen can be turned into a greeting card, like I’ve done, or just made into cute keepsakes to remember how tiny those little feet once were! Have fun, get creative with it and be sure to share your finished projects with us!

img_3415 img_3431

Supplies:

  • Construction paper
  • White paint
  • Paint brush
  • Scissors
  • Black and orange sharpies
  • And most important….Little toes!

Appropriate for:

  • Infants
  • Toddlers
  • Preschoolers 
  • Adolescents 

*With help from an adult.

Why we love it: Painting the bottoms of feet in this craft is a great sensory activity for little ones! Not only is exploring new senses fun, it also helps with brain development. For more info on the importance of sensory play, visit http://familychildcareacademy.com/sensory-development/

Directions:

  • Apply white paint to bottoms of feet and make desired number of footprints onto a piece of colored construction paper.
  • Once dry, cut out the snowman, creating 3 humps on each side and leaving a slight trim.
  • Cut out stick arms and a top hat from construction paper, then attach with glue/scotch tape.
  • Draw on face and buttons. 
  • To make a card, glue onto a folded piece of construction paper.

Raising a Kind Kid

If I had to decide on the most important life skill I try to instill in the children I care for, I would say it is kindness. Hands down. Like many caregivers, the day I realized that I was going to be largely responsible for helping lay the foundation of who Little A would be one day, I was overcome with sheer panic. I couldn’t screw this up! I couldn’t be the one to blame for the bully in the sandbox! Or even worse, the future bully in the boardroom!

Years ago, before Little A could barely speak, I remember he grabbed his baby doll by the leg, spun her around and catapulted her clear across the room. I immediately picked up the doll, coddled her in my arms asking if she was okay. I passed her back to Little A, reminding him that was not nice. With sadness in his eyes, he took the doll into his arms and mimicked my behavior, gently kissing her forehead. He never threw her again.

Over the last few years I’ve continued to encourage these subtle actions, in hopes that it becomes so ingrained in his brain that he will continue this type of kind behavior long after I am no longer his nanny. When a friend falls on the playground, I remind Little A to go over, offer a hug and ask if his friend is okay. When we see a homeless person on the train, I will ask him to look through his backpack for a snack he can share, or hand him the loose change in my pocket for him to pass along. I have banned ugly words like, “shut-up”, “stupid”, and my all time LEAST favorite, “you can’t play with us!”.

Now that Little A is at an age where he can really grasp the concept, I felt he was ready for his first organized volunteering experience. So this past Monday, in honor of MLK Day, we took advantage of the day off from school and decided to volunteer for Repair the World. We joined dozens of other preschoolers in a gymnasium of a school to make get-well-soon cards for the patients at a hospital near by. Before they began, the event organizer spoke to the children about who the cards were for. “Your cards will be given to people who are feeling sad or sick. Your cards will help make them feel better!” For the next hour I watched as little hands poured so much love into these cards, holding up the finished product with gleeful smiles across their faces. The end result was a large cardboard box filled with scribbles, hearts, stick figures, paper snowflakes, wobbly signatures, but most importantly KINDNESS! It was such a lovely experience that I decided to compose a list of a few fun ways to incorporate more of this kind of “caring” into our lives.

5 Activities to Help Raise A Kind Kid

  • Make cards and hand deliver them to the residents at your local nursing home or VA hospital. It is often very difficult for patients to be away from their families and the type of happiness only a child can bring is undeniable. And you don’t have to be part of an organized event, like we were, to do so.
  • Let’s not forget our furry friends! Spend the afternoon at your local animal shelter! You can walk dogs, give some much needed love to the cats, clean cages, fold pamphlets, staple papers….the list is never ending!
  • Start a “Pay it Forward’’ jar, filling it with loose change. Once full, decide as a family where to donate the money.
  • Encourage children to go through their old clothes and toys to donate to kids who are less fortunate. Since children often have a hard time parting with their belongings, this can be a bit difficult at first, so start slowly. Encourage them to pick these items out themselves and if its only one old pair of pajamas or a book they are no longer interested in, that’s okay! What matters most is you are teaching them the importance of helping others!
  • And most importantly, lead by example! Children are products of their environment.  It’s the small, everyday acts, like holding the door open for someone or helping an elderly neighbor carry groceries in, which will truly teach children how to be kinder in this world!

IMG_3370 IMG_3377 IMG_3379

“Every child is an artist.”-Pablo Picasso

Welcome to Second Nature Nanny, an artful resource for caregivers! As a nanny, I am constantly searching for new and exciting ways to encourage my “kids” to play, explore, and experiment in ways that allow them to express themselves fully, without judgement. Here I will share with you my experiences, tips, and all things creative for you to try with your little ones, from craft ideas to day trip suggestions and everything in between! Caring for children is an extremely rewarding experience but at times it can be exhausting, lonely, and overwhelming. That is why having a strong network of other caregivers is so important. Whether you are a nanny, parent, the occasional babysitter, or grandparent, I hope to share you with not just some fun ideas but also offer you my support!  IMG_7120