Wednesday, August 3, 2022

August is Amblyopia Month - Kids With Lazy Eye Syndrome

Hello viewers.,

I'm attaching a media press release with medical information that I thought many would be interested in reading. I know many of you are not in Florida, but the information is helpful to all. 

Enjoy your August,


The Florida Society of Ophthalmology (FSO) and the For Eye Care Foundation (FECF) have launched an educational campaign recognizing August 2022 as “Amblyopia Awareness Month”. The goal is to bring awareness about the importance and need for early vision screenings that can detect serious vision problems such as Amblyopia, a vision issue more commonly referred to as “lazy eye”.

Amblyopia is the most common, yet preventable, cause of permanent vision loss in children. In Florida, fewer than 20 percent of preschool children are currently screened for vision problems.

“Early childhood screenings are key to ensuring that no child has to lose their vision due to a detectable and preventable issue, especially as many forms of amblyopia are difficult to detect without a screening,” said Joseph T. Nezgoda, MD, MBA, President of the Florida Society of Ophthalmology. “Our efforts this month echo our mission- to educate parents and guardians on these common eye issues and ensure they are empowered to ask questions, seek help and ensure that the best eye care possible is provided to their children.”

During Florida’s 2022 legislative session, the Florida Senate approved a resolution that would recognize August as “Amblyopia Awareness Month” in Florida. The resolution also seeks to promote statewide preschool vision screenings, with the goal of testing all children between 3 and 5 years of age.

“I am proud to support the education efforts of the Florida Society of Ophthalmology and the For Eye Care foundation- the health of our children is critical, and we must ensure that Florida’s parents and guardians are educated and informed so they can make the best decision possible for their children,” said Senator Lori Berman, sponsor of resolution.

Early vision screenings are the greatest tool parents have at their disposal. The detection of amblyopia and other vision threatening disorders like retinoblastoma tumors, cataracts, and strabismus in early childhood increases the chances of successful treatment, especially if the disorder is detected before a child reaches 5 years of age. Vision screenings can be done by a child’s pediatrician or ophthalmologist and physicians recommend starting at 12-months, repeating every few years.

To learn more about the FSO’s efforts, visit:

Photo courtesy of 

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

5 Creative Toys From Household Materials

When the kids shout "I'm bored," suggest these games using household materials and some existing toys for a new slant on play. The children will learn educational skills as well.

Children love to play with games, store-bought or homemade. A manipulative type of game is an object used within a skillful manner. In other words, children can manipulate theses table toys to develop coordination and these same objects encourage thinking skills, visual perception, and problem-solving. Explore some of these innovative ideas and watch your children learn skills by using these homemade games for kids.

Shape Treasure Hunt -- Parents can precut shapes (squares, triangles, rectangles, circles, etc.) from construction paper. In advance, hide the shapes all around the room making sure to have enough so that each of your children can find at least 8-10 shapes. This is a game plus an art activity after the shapes are found. Direct the children to hunt for the shapes hidden. At the end of the hunt, encourage them to share shapes if one child gets more than the others. Sit down at a table and discuss what the kids have found. Ask, "Who can name the shapes?" "Who can name the colors?" "Did you get two or more of the same shape?" Now, let the children try to manipulate the shapes and create a picture or design. With glue, children can paste these into place on paper.

Twin Constructions -- Set out "fit-together" toys such as Legos, Duplo blocks, or any other construction-type toys. Have two children (or you and your child) sit side-by-side and try to construct the same structure. This activity teaches children to pay attention to color, shape, position, and also give them practice in following someone else's lead.

Make a Geo-Board -- Children can create geometric shapes on this grid-like board with the use of large rubber bands. Hammer nails (with adult supervision) in a grid pattern about one-inch apart all over a plywood square. Give the board to the children along with a variety of rubber bands in different sizes and colors. Invite the kids to stretch the rubber bands around the nails to create geometric shapes like squares, triangles, and rectangles. Who can create an octagon?

Paper Match Game -- Collect wallpaper, paint chips, or scrapbook paper samples and make a set of two matching cards. Index cards work well. Glue a large square of the same paper on two cards. After you have made a variety of cards, shuffle the deck and let the children turn over each card and match the pairs. You might want to laminate each card with clear plastic adhesive paper for durability. Kids can practice visual discrimination and attention to detail in this game.

Poker Chip Math Game -- Give the children a box containing red, white, and blue poker chips. Let them sort the chips by color and then count them. Next, make patterns with the poker chips, for example, two red, one blue, two white, one red, two blue, two white and so on. Let the kids copy the pattern with the remaining chips.

Make creative toys and games from household materials. Your children will love these homemade games for kids that will keep them amused for hours and teach them skills along the way.

Source: Personal Experience
Photo courtesy of

Until next time. Happy Parenting!

Monday, June 6, 2022

Are You Visiting the Beach? Capture a Memory!

Summer is beach weather and the perfect place for fun in the sun, sand, and surf. Whether you live near the ocean, vacation there, or attending a home beach party, this craft is a way to hold onto memories. Your children will love to make this time capsule-type craft that will savor the memories of the beach. If you don’t have a beach nearby, fear not! These supplies can easily purchased at craft stores. It’s an easy project that can be saved and displayed in your child’s room as a great decoration and memory maker. 

Supplies Needed for this Beach Craft:

Medium sized plastic jar with lid
Photo of your child 
Sea shells
Beach sand
Netting or raffia
Heavy glue or low-temperature glue gun
Seaside favor or decor

How to Make a Beach Memory Jar:

  1. Find a suitable jar for this craft. With young children it is best to use a plastic jar with a lid. I chose a mayonnaise jar. Wash and dry the jar thoroughly.
  2. Look through your photos and find one of your child at the beach. If you are doing this craft at a beach party, the host/hostess can take photos when the children arrive in bathing suits and then download and make prints before craft time. 
  3. Take the photo or photocopy and place it inside the jar. Tape it in place to the back curve wall of the jar with the picture showing through the front. 
  4. Pour a couple inches of beach sand into the bottom of the jar. 
  5. Add some sea shells and arrange them to your liking. You may want to include some sea coral or a star fish. Just make sure if you are using fresh beach finds that there are no living organisms inside your shells. These need to be returned to their natural habitat. 
  6. When you are finished filling your container, screw on the lid tight. You may want to run a line of glue inside the lid before screwing it on. This will prevent spills of beach sand all over your floors.
  7. Now, it’s time to decorate the lid. Glue on some extra shells; a low-temperature glue gun works best. Wrap the side of the lid with raffia or a netting-type ribbon.
  8. As an extra enhancement I added a paper beach umbrella to the top or think about a plastic palm tree as another option. 
  9. With a black permanent marker, mark the child’s name, date, and location to the top of the lid.

Memory jars are awesome projects for children of all ages and various events. Think about making a miniature time capsule for birthdays, visiting a theme park, or to add mementos for any vacation. 

Happy Crafting With the Kids,
Photo courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Saturday, May 14, 2022

J is for Jump for Health with a Jump Rope

The jump rope is one of the oldest childhood games in the world.  Yet in our high-tech world, this classic game has all but become a lost relic.  Let’s revive the jump rope tradition along with rhymes your kids are sure to enjoy (think of the wonderful exercise they will be accomplishing). Your kids can jump rope singly or with friends using a larger rope.

Here are several rhyming games that your children can recite as they jump rope:

MS./MR.______MOVES IN.
The jumper calls out the name of another player for the last line.   That person then begins jumping.

The next jumper must then repeat the rhyme using the letter “B” and fill in “B” words (then continue to “C” and so on).  Pity the jumper who gets to “X”! 

Enjoy your day. Think healthy!

Photo courtesy of FreeImages

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

4 Earth Day Activities for Children

Earth Day is celebrated April 22. Use these fun activities to teach children the importance of taking care of our planet and learning to become environmentally friendly.

Children can develop an understanding of protecting our environment with the help of adults who make them aware of the fact that we are all interdependent. We can be guardians of the plants and animals in our surroundings. Below are several activities to help develop awareness for Earth Day and every day.

Take a litter walk together

Put some excitement into a clean-up litter walk by also making it a scavenger hunt. Together, make a list of various types of things that when thrown away becomes litter, such as soda cans, newspaper, paper cups, plastic or glass bottles, and so on. Children can become aware that certain items, although good in themselves, can become litter when discarded -- and litter dirties up our Earth.

When walking, take a brown bag and the list. When the child finds an item on the list, check it off. See how long it takes to cross off each item. Of course, dump the litter in appropriate containers -- some may be recycled.

Grow-it-again foods

A great way to save the Earth is to repopulate things that we eat. Many fruits and vegetables can be grown again by planting the seeds or stalks. Here are a few examples.

Pineapple: Cut off the top and trim three rows of the bottom leaves. Let this dry for a few days and then plant the pineapple top into the soil, with the top above ground. Keep it moist and in a sunny place. Pineapples will repopulate into new plants that will eventually bear fruit.

Onion: Find an onion that has already sprouted. Plant it in the soil and watch it regrow into a new onion.
Carrot: Cut off the top and trim off any leaves. Place in a layer of pebbles in a low dish container. Keep it well watered and when the carrots sprout roots, plant in the ground.

Avocado: Place three toothpicks into an avocado seed. Set this inside the mouth of a jar filled with water. Place this in partial sunlight. When the roots sprout about four to five inches, plant this in soil outdoors.

Learn to compost

If you garden with your children, you may want to start a compost pile. Composting takes time to break down, but becomes great fertilizer for a garden. Children can also see how some waste materials can be recycled. A compost pile uses vegetable scraps such as potato peels, carrot scrapings, cornhusks, lettuce, cabbage, and onion peels. It can also use coffee grounds, plant clippings and grass.

To make a compost pile, surround a small area with chicken wire. Place another small circle of chicken wire in the center to help circulate the air. Layer the vegetable scraps with fresh soil. Keep it moist and add some lime and fertilizer. Continue the layers, always covering with soil. You will have good rich mulch for a garden within a few months.

Recycle together as a family

Introduce your children to the recycle emblem on many products. Talk about why we recycle. Discuss the differences in packaging of goods -- paper, plastic, and glass. Ask the kids, which would be better to use and why? Together, make a game of sorting product containers using paper, plastic, cans, and glass (do not sort glass with very young children). This is a good activity that teaches classifying as a math skill. Have a recycle center at your home and ask the children to use it daily.

After these discussions, brainstorm together ways that will help our Earth -- like use cloth towels instead of paper towels in the kitchen, don't let the water run needlessly, turn out the lights when you leave a room, and use both sides of the paper when drawing or coloring. Better yet, use junk mail for extra drawing paper on the clean side.

As parents, we can show our children how some things taken from nature can be returned to help it thrive.

Until next week -- Happy Parenting,

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links or advertisements. I earn a small commission if you click and shop through them, which helps fund this website so I can continue to bring you informative and interesting content. All opinions are my own. 

Free photos courtesy of

Friday, March 25, 2022

Creative Crafts for Easter

Easter/Passover is on it's way and the perfect time to craft with the kids. Do you need some ideas? I'm posting a culmination of some articles I wrote the past couple years. They are easy and mostly use materials found in the home. Enjoy your holiday and spring!

Happy Parenting,

Hatching Baby Chicks

Spring is the season for renewal of life and we often hear about baby chicks hatching from eggs. I would suggest getting a book from the library on hatching baby chicks so the children can understand the process.
You will need:
  • Egg halves (washed and dried)
  • 2 yellow pom-poms (one larger than the other)
  • Googly eyes
  • Orange construction paper
  • Safety scissors
  • Heavy-duty glue
  1. Give each child one eggshell and two yellow pom-poms. Have them carefully glue their pom-poms inside the eggshell, one on top of the other. Make sure to have extra eggshells available as these are fragile and could crumble.
  2. Finish this craft by gluing on two eyes and an orange beak cut from construction paper.
  3. You can display these baby chicks inside an egg carton or staple a circular ring from heavy-duty paper to make an egg stand.

  • Crafting With Matzoh for Passover
    For Passover, let the children use broken pieces of matzoh and invite them to glue these pieces onto construction paper. Lots of very creative pictures emerge from this activity. Have them tell you about their design.

  • What’s more fun than painting matzoh? Eating it! Melt white chocolate chips in a bowl (a microwave can be used). Separate the melted chocolate into several bowls. Add drops of food coloring to make a variety of edible paints. Using a clean paintbrush or cotton swabs, invite your child to paint designs and pictures on a square of matzoh. Note: you may have to keep reheating the chocolate to keep it liquid for painting. Chocolate hardens very quickly. Another variation is to use pre-made frosting in tubes that can be purchased in grocery stores. When finished, share the artwork and then enjoy the snack.

  • The Hunts of the Season
    Celebrate Passover with a treasure hunt for the “Afikomen." The matzoh is placed in a holder and here is a simple one to make:
    You will need:
    • Two sheets royal blue felt (9" x 12")
    • Silver glitter glue, decorating decors
    • Tacky glue
  • Simply glue the two sheets of felt together around the edges, leaving one side open for a piece of matzoh. You could also sew them together if you wish. Draw six-sided stars with glitter glue. You can also add decors like lace, sequins, or faux jewels with the tacky glue. Let dry completely and you are ready to place this work of art on the Seder table.
    To hunt for the Afikomen, hide this piece of matzoh in the holder somewhere in the home. Present a few clues to lead the kids from the dining area to where the Afikomen is hidden. Whoever finds the matzoh wins a prize. 

    For Easter, create this cute bunny basket for your youngster to collect his “finds of the hunt." Take a half-gallon milk carton and remove one panel using safety scissors or a craft knife (adult use only). Save this panel to make a handle. Cover all sides of this carton with construction paper using glue or tape. Cut a strip from the saved panel and staple it on both sides to make a handle. Create a cute bunny face by gluing on googly eyes, stapling on bunny ears made from heavy paper, and lastly whiskers. If you punch a hole in the center of the top ridge; pipe cleaners can be inserted equal distance and bent slightly for bunny whiskers.

  • Making homemade Easter crafts and Passover crafts for kids are milestones and memories that you and your children will never forget. Enjoy this creative time together and the fun holiday festivities to follow!
    Note: Use parental supervision and age appropriate art materials when making crafts with kids.

  • Some crafts were part of articles first published on Bright Hub Education by Tania K Cowling
  • Photos courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Friday, February 25, 2022

March Winds Are Perfect for Kites

“March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb” is the common phrase for this month’s unpredictable weather. Discuss weather changes with your children by charting lion days (blustery, windy) and lamb days (spring-like) on a March calendar. Ask your child what he would like to do on a windy day? Have you tried flying a kite when the March wind blows? Here’s a fun craft to make that signifies the windy weather and a kite-flying theme. There are several art techniques with this project that are sure to keep your child amused.
  • Clear adhesive paper
  • Colorful tissue paper
  • Safety scissors
  • Tape
  • Black marker
  • Stapler
  • Ribbon
  • Construction paper in several colors


Step 1 – Cut a large square of clear self-adhesive paper and tape the clear plastic side down onto a table. Peel off the protective paper so the sticky side is facing up.

Step 2 – Gather some tissue paper in several colors, preferably spring-like hues. Cut the tissue paper into small squares or other geometric shapes.

Step 3 – Instruct the child to take the squares (or shapes) and place them onto the sticky paper. Let them cover half of the sticky paper with these shapes.

Step 4 – Carefully fold over the one side of the adhesive paper and press it down firmly.  Rub over the folded plastic to release any air bubbles. Now, the colorful tissue paper is inside the plastic sheet.

Step 5 – Draw a kite shape (diamond) in the middle of this large square and invite the child to cut this plastic kite out. You can draw a vertical and horizontal line on the front side of the diamond to look like a real kite.

Step 6 – Next, cut a piece of ribbon, about a foot long and fishtail the end. Staple this to the bottom point of the diamond shape. This is the kite’s tail.

Step 7 – To help the kite tail do its job small ribbon rungs can be cut from construction paper (bow-tie shape) and stapled to the main ribbon tail.  A kite’s tail helps to steer the kite in the proper direction using a combination of weight and air resistance to steer or trail this flying object.

Step 8 – Display your child’s artistic kite in his/her bedroom – on the wall or hanging from the ceiling.

On your next blustery day, why not take the kids outdoors and attempt to fly a real kite? It’s a fun sport and will give you and your kids plenty of exercise chasing this soaring toy.

Photo courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved 

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Winter is Baking Time: What Child Doesn't Love Homemade Cookies?

What combines art, math, reading, creative thinking, science, sensory experiences, and social skills, and results in delightful treats for the family and friends? Cooking! Let your youngsters engage in this activity with you – a lot of learning goes on in your own cozy kitchen.

These cookies are not crispy or chewy, but cake-like with healthy ingredients such as orange juice, dried cranberries and nuts (your choice or omit if you wish). They make a great dessert, snack with milk, and adults love them with their coffee or tea too.

Ingredients you will need:

½ lb. butter
1 ½ cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ½ cups chopped nuts
1 ½ cups dried cranberries
1 cup orange juice
3 ½ cups cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda

What to do:

  1. Beat the sugar and butter with an electric mixer until well blended.
  2. Add the egg and beat again.
  3. Mix in the orange juice and vanilla.
  4. Add the flour a little at a time until the entire amount is mixed.
  5. Fold in the cranberries and nuts.
  6. Drop by tablespoons onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  7. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in a 450-degree oven.

Note: all ovens vary so check the cookies for doneness in the shortest time so they do not burn.
Make cooking and baking a family activity. Children learn so much by doing and the bonding is memorable!

**All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without prior permissions from the author. Partial reposting is permitted with a link back to the original article.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Cabin Fever Learning: Math With Cereal

Anyone snowed in? Cabin fever? Here are fun ways to brush up on math skills using dry cereal at home.

One of the reasons that Americans have taken to breakfast cereals is that they are quick and easy. Besides, cereals have been specifically designed so kids will like them: creative shapes, colors, flavors and the box is entertaining while they eat.

Cereal can be used in mathematical learning, but think of the creative process this manipulative material offers to develop the senses and ingenious art activities as well. Try a few projects below and don’t forget to provide a clean bowl of cereal for munching!

Tactile Cards

On pieces of cardboard, draw a large number. Have the children glue O-shaped cereal inside, the same amount as the number value. After it’s dry, they can run their fingers along the shape of this number and begin counting skills, along with your help. Start with numbers one to five and increase numerals according to age and skill level.

Egg Carton Math Game

Write the numerals 1-12 inside the sections of an egg carton with a black marker. Give each child a cup of cereal and have him place pieces of cereal to correspond with the number in each section. Count the pieces together in each egg cup. As children play this game, they are learning to recognize symbols for each number. Another way to teach number recognition is to look for number symbols every time you sit together to read a book or look at magazines. Point to numerals and say the number name out loud.

Making Patterns

Make a pattern model using bamboo skewers. Thread on mini-marshmallows and O-shaped cereal. Use colorful cereal and sort by color or number of O’s between each marshmallow. Encourage the children to copy your model, and then make up patterns of their own. NOTE: Adult supervision is advised when using pointed sticks with young children. A variation to this activity is to glue cereal pieces on paper, creating specific patterns.

Geometric Cereal Shapes

You will need construction paper, scissors, glue and cereal for this project. Instruct children to cut out squares, triangles, circles and rectangles from the paper. Younger children may need adult help. Glue pieces of cereal to fill each shape.

Children learn by doing, so as they play, mathematical skills can be mastered. Think creatively by using cereal and foods to make this experience fun.

This article was originally published by this author in regional print magazines.
Photos by Tania K Cowling, all rights reserved

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Puppet Play: Fun with Recycled Items and a Few Baubles

Get out the recycle box and begin to craft puppets with your child. Paper bag puppets can be made and enjoyed by kids—from preschool and up. You decide how much time and artistic effort you want to put into your sack puppet project. They can be quickie puppet play stand-ins or works of art. You can draw facial features with crayons and markers and decorate them with a few “found” objects like fabric scraps, buttons, faux jewels, pipe cleaners, yarn, any variety of miscellany you can gather.  Place your hand inside to manipulate your newly created character.

Think about using old nylon stockings to make adorable puppets young children love. Stretch a leg from panty hose over a bent wire hanger. You can bend the hanger into a diamond or even a circle shape and tape the hook for safety. Knot the stocking leg at the bottom. This is a great puppet for the little ones as they can see through the nylon like a mask and pretend they are the puppet—good vision and a no fear factor. You can go to town decorating this puppet mask with all kinds of materials glued on. Puff and glitter markers work well on the nylon. You can make almost any character you want.

Turn your family snapshots into lifelike puppets. Invite your child to choose several family photographs (use the photo or make a color copy). Cut out the face or figure. Tape this photo figure to a craft stick.  Encourage your youngster to create a scene with a few toys and have these family puppets interact. Use a puppet yourself to ask your child’s puppet questions and to suggest different themes, such as going shopping or taking a family trip. While you are having fun together, this activity helps your child develop language and social skills.

Stick puppets are exactly as their name implies—puppets build and manipulated on a stick. These are among some of the quickest to make. For sticks, use dowels, yardsticks, tongue depressors, wooden spoons, and Popsicle sticks. The very simplest stick puppet is a head shape cut from construction paper and features added with paint or markers. Tape a stick to the back and your puppet is complete.  Make several with “faces of emotion” and your child can talk about his feelings through puppet play.  To act out stories, draw the characters, find ones in coloring books, or cut them from an old storybook.  Attach these to sticks and you now have all the characters to act out your favorite tale.

Photo by Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links or advertisements. I earn a small commission if you shop through them, which helps fund this website so I can continue to bring you informative and interesting content.