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The “Green” Church Day Care

Running a day care is a great opportunity to educate the next generation not only in academics but also regarding environmental awareness. In a day care center, ecology lessons can be included in the curriculum, in addition to a stringent recycling practice throughout the center. The kids can both observe and actively join in the daily routines.

To instill environmental awareness in kids and make the lessons easy to remember, providers can use various and fun learning games and activities. Some questions to be raised can include where paper comes from and what bins waste paper goes into. These activities are lot easier than you would think. Kids are like sponges and they are always curious and very open to new ideas and concepts.

In a "green" day care center, parents are usually advised to choose products based on the recyclibility of the packaging when they send in store-brought snacks. An example is to buy certain goods in larger containers or in cardboard boxes instead of plastic packs like in yogurt, raisins, and recycling juice bottles. Here, kids are also involved through art projects that incorporate pictures of more environment friendly containers.

Each day care owner is aware that lots of batteries are required for all those educational toys. A great green idea is to use a charger and rechargeable batteries that can be reused and save more money. If you have a lot of those old batteries lying around, you can take them to your local battery charging depot.

A little extra thought and effort even in small changes can make a huge difference. Day care providers have this great opportunity to mold little minds and make environmental concern and awareness a second nature to them.

With colder weather and closed shut windows and doors, the season for colds, flu, and other respiratory issues seem to open up during these times. These illnesses, which are not as prevalent in warmer months, can easily spread during those colder months.

Studies show that this is because of the insulation we do with the spaces that airborne pollutants are trapped. This makes indoors heavily populated placed like day care centers not a very healthy place to be. But here are some things you can do to improve the air quality in your day care center:

Wash Mats and Blankets
In most day care centers, the children are asked to bring their favorite mat or blanket or their sleeping bag for their use on rest time during the day. These mats are hiding places of dust mites, which can be sent airborne with the slightest movement. And, since kids are going to handle these mats, there is great potential of these mites to become airborne.

Mats and blankets should be washed by parents or by the facility at least once a week in hot water to keep mite count at a minimum. If you are letting parents do this, let them know its importance and educate them about the difference it can make in their child's overall health both at the center and at home.

Get Rid of Carpets
Yes, carpets are real cozy, but they can also be great places for pollutants that had been tracked in on shoes such as dust, sand, pollen, mold, and mildew spores that have started to grow when they found moisture. With all the kids jumping, bouncing, running and rolling around on the carpet, these pollutants are sure to go airborne and create symptoms in even the healthiest kids and aggravate symptoms of children suffering from chronic allergy and asthma.

Educate Children
Children in your day care should learn about germs and how they fly around and cause sickness. Teach them how to make a difference and have control over the germs that they could spread. Instruct kids to cover their mouths with their arms when they sneeze or cough to stop germs from flying out to visit someone else and pile on praises when they are successful at doing it.

Go Green
It may be difficult to do this at once but just after a few months or a year, you can protect your children and staff with products that do not off gas chemicals, including cleaning products that are effective without the volatile organic chemicals that off gas easily, natural organic fibers for furniture and curtains, paints and markers, as well as glue that are okay for children to breathe. This improves air quality and is also be a way to model an environmentally friendly way to live both for the kids and their parents.

Use an Air Purifier
High-efficiency particle arresting (HEPA) air purifiers are a safe, effective, and economical way to remove harmful airborne pollutants, such as bacteria and viruses, from the air every day. The HEPA technology is recommended by the American Lung Association as well as the International Association of Air Cleaner Manufacturers because of its effectivity without producing toxic ozone gas or off gassing any harmful by-products. HEPA air purifiers only have fresh clean air as its byproduct.

This article is courtesy of OwnADaycare.com.

Using Puppets to Engage Children
By Dean Wilson

The word "evolution" has gotten a bad rap in certain circles, but, believe it or not, it has its place… at least among puppets. When shadow puppets first slid off the walls of our ancestors' caves and gave place to the wood, straw, or fiber filled heads, arms, and trunks of the past several centuries, I suppose most people thought puppets had peaked in the evolutionary process. But remember – the theory of evolution suggests a survival of the fittest.

Fortunately, someone had the foresight to see that, without a little genetic engineering, these furry, half-foam, half-man smile-grabbers would not survive the onslaught of pixilation from our media-savvy culture. The result of all this selective tampering is a brand new species of digital puppets. This is what I call the best of both worlds. It is a welcome merging of two mediums that have been very successful in influencing children.

In a nutshell, your puppet skits no longer have to be performed by those musty old cloth puppets, nor presented through a costly opening carved out of much-needed space in your children's church. Oh no, this is 2010 stuff we're talking about here. It's all done with smoke and mirrors…or, in today's vernacular, flat screens and game components.

If you've played a video game in the past 15 years, then operating these puppets will be a cinch (and even if you haven't, it's very user-friendly). A video game controller is all that is used to activate your colorful, animated, pixilated puppets. Puppet selection can range from tropical fish, tail-wagging puppies, wispy butterflies, even an uplifting smiley face. Plus, personalized puppets can also be created to work with your existing church curriculum. And, word on the street is that 3-D puppets are in development right now.

As for puppet movement, you've got all kinds of options, including full body rotations, traveling on and off screen, interactions with another puppet, head movement, eye movement, eyebrow movement, smiles, etc. And, of course, the mouth moves as fast (or as slow) as you move your finger. So, what makes these "power puppets" so superior to the puppets of the past? One word: interactive.  

Imagine, for example, a puppet on screen welcoming first-time visitors, calling them by name, and commenting on their Saints' jersey or their Adidas tennis shoes. As a teacher, I no longer have to be behind a curtain or stage, but I can be where I can see the kids and interact with them. Now, I've got their full attention and can drive home the points of the lesson, lead them in scripture memorization, or just play a game with them.   

Plus, in the puppet skits of old, the backdrop was a black curtain that screamed, "You're getting sleepy!" Now, with digital puppetry, the backgrounds can change with the push of a button. Oh sure, it's just eye candy, but if it helps keep this generation focused on the truth of God's Word, then I believe we should be doing a lot more of it.

Dean Wilson has over 20 years of experience in the film and video industry. Formerly head of the television department at Willie George Ministries in Tulsa OK, Wilson was the Senior Writer/Producer/Director for their children's video curriculum entitled, "Kids on the Move."

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