Category: General Tooth Care Info

Spokane’s Parks

Out of the many things that Spokane Washington has to offer, its natural beauty is one of its greatest.  Situated in the heart of the northwest, Spokane boasts the convenience of urban living while offering the freedom of gorgeous parks, forests, and other outdoor opportunities within driving distance.  Whether you prefer to merely observe nature or are an experienced outdoorsman, Spokane’s diverse landscape has something for everyone through its beautiful variety of parks.

Manito Park-

The best known of Spokane’s parks, Manito Park and Botanical Gardens encompasses 90 acres on the South Hill of Spokane.  It has five impeccably groomed gardens including Rose Hill with over 1,500 kinds of rose bushes.  There is also the Nishinomiya Japanese garden, named after Spokane’s sister city, with a koi pond, bridges, and benches making it the perfect place for relaxation and quiet.  Manito also has a large green house, a stone bridge, and various kinds of wildlife such as ducks, geese, and swans.

manito

The John A. Finch Arboretum-

Located close to downtown, the John A. Finch Arboretum offers 65 treed acres of woodland.  The tree garden contains over 2000 labeled varieties of ornamental trees, shrubs, and flowers.  Founded in 1949, the arboretum is considered one of the most peaceful places in the city, housing over 600 species of plant life.

arboretum

The Little Spokane Natural Area-

Remaining virtually untouched over the last several hundred years, this area surrounding the Little Spokane River is perfect for floating, canoeing, kayaking, and hiking.  Enjoy the serenity of the untouched landscape and travel back in time through the Indian pictographs that cover the rock walls of the area.

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Mt. Spokane State Park-

Mt. Spokane, known for its skiing and snowboarding opportunities, is also a part of the largest state park in Washington at 13,919 acres.  During the winter months, the park offers snowshoeing and cross country skiing trails and June through October there are a myriad of hiking trails that lead all over the 5,889 foot tall mountain.

sspark

Minnehaha Park-

A popular natural climbing place since the early 1950’s, Minnehaha’s granite boulders offer surfaces that range from novice to advanced for any level of climber.  Surrounded by trails as well, Minnehaha offers opportunities for anyone seeking an adrenaline rush whether it’s through mountain biking or seeing what the view looks like from up high.

minnehahapark

Riverside State Park-

At 10,000 acres, Riverside State Park is the second largest park in the state, occupying over 15 square miles.  At the Bowl and Pitcher there are large Basalt formations, telling of Spokane’s geological past.  This park is the perfect place to hike, camp, or picnic, located just 20 minutes from downtown Spokane.

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The Spokane River Gorge-

This roaring white water offers an escape from urban life without having to leave Spokane.  The 111 miles of the Spokane River brings life everywhere it goes, though the shores of the Spokane River Gorge offer solace to all of Spokane’s residents.  Whether you want to admire its beauty or enjoy its whitewater rafting park, the Spokane River Gorge enriches the city year round.

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Take some time this spring to get out and explore some of the amazing natural beauty that Spokane has to offer.  Whether you only have a few hours to read in Manito’s Japanese garden or can take a whole day with the family to explore some of the hiking trails in Mt. Spokane State Park, engage with your surroundings and deepen your appreciation for all this part of the northwest has to offer!

Spokane’s Fun Family Activities

With the fickleness of northwestern weather in the spring, it can be hard to confidently plan an outing for the family that requires sun and temperate weather.  Luckily enough, Spokane has a wide selection of indoor, family friendly activities that will get you and the kids out of the house without having to worry about weather getting in the way.  Here are some of the most popular, kid-friendly attractions that Spokane has to offer.

1. Mobius Children’s Museum:

Did you know that there’s a Mobius Science Museum designed just for little ones?  In the lower level of the Mobius Science Center, there is a museum just for children.  Mobius offers a wide range of exhibits.  Some of these include,

Friendly Critters– an array of bugs, snakes, lizards, and other fun creepy crawlies

Out-of-Hand Art Studio– here kids can paint, draw, and create mixed media masterpieces of their very own

Globe Theater– local storytellers and performers put on shows with costumes and lights and fun backdrops

Geotopia– this educational exhibit allows kids to witness firsthand the way that water currents and the earth interact, demonstrating how rivers and wind can change the appearance of the earth

Enchanted Forest– designed to let toddlers and crawlers roam free, this exhibit has a tree slide and foam pond as well as colorful puppets and books

Cooper’s Corner– dedicated to a 13-year-old Spokane native who was tragically killed in a biking accident, this portion of the museum is dedicated to teaching little ones about safety while on road, how to properly fit a helmet, and what different traffic signs mean

Wattson’s World– this exhibit is in association with Avista and teaches kids the importance of conserving energy and ways to do just that

So plan an educational outing for you and the kids, and head over to the Mobius Children’s Museum.  Check out the website to see admission fees and their operational hours: http://mobiusspokane.org/mobius-childrens-museum/visit

2. Wild Walls:

If your kids are getting to the age where they want to explore something more challenging, then Wild Walls indoor climbing might be a great option for a new family activity.  Wild Walls offers high climbing walls where you’re harnessed in, bouldering where you’re climbing at lower heights without a harness, and yoga classes.  It’s a very beginner friendly environment, offering their Vertical Introduction Package, designed to give you the foundation you need to start climbing with confidence.  They provide everything you need to get started, including climbing shoes in kids sizes, so visit their website to find out more about pricing and available classes: http://wildwalls.com/first-timers/

3. Laser Quest:

This live action laser tag arena offers three stories of smoky mazes, setting the perfect stage for this hide-n-seek style game.  With a variety of game lengths, ranging from 15 minutes to over night adventures, there’s something for everyone to enjoy!  Check out the website to see the different packages they offer: http://www.laserquest.com

4. Sky High Sports:

Fun no matter your age, Sky High Sports offers a great way to have fun as a family while being active as well.  What could be more fun then a room with nothing but trampolines for the walls and floor?  With options like their Munchkin Mondays, Sky High has bouncing opportunities for every member of your family, no matter their age!  http://spo.jumpskyhigh.com/event.php?ID=509&d=1395039600

5. Wonderland Family Fun Center:

If your children have a variety of interests, then Wonderland is the perfect place to spend an activity filled day.  With its five acres of space and wide range of activities, Wonderland is the perfect place to find something for every member of the family.  They boast rock climbing, two miniature golf courses, go-karts, batting cages, bumper boats, laser tag and so much more!  Take a look at the website to see the different packages they offer: http://wonderlandusa.com/attractions

Whether your children are still in grade school or learning to drive, Spokane offers a wider range of activities.  Plan a family day, and go explore some of these fun places!  Have a birthday coming up?  Nearly all of these locations offer birthday packages.  Check out these websites and see what Spokane has to offer for you and your family!

The Truth About Teething

There are many misconceptions revolving around the phenomena of teething.  Every symptom under the sun has been ascribed to a child’s teeth breaking through.  However, recent studies have revealed that cases of high temperatures, bad earaches, or stomach pain really can’t be blamed exclusively on a child’s teeth coming in.  As dentist Michael Hanna of the American Association of Pediatric Dentists has pointed out, every child experiences teething differently.  The amount of pain experienced is directly related to the thickness of the gum tissue and the child’s given pain tolerance.

While there are no set of symptoms that can be ascribed exclusively to teething, it is very common to see an increase in,

-biting

-drooling

-sucking

-irritability

-difficulty sleeping

-ear rubbing

-facial rash

-decreased appetite

-mild fever

Any extreme case of these symptoms is more than likely a separate incident and your child’s pediatrician should be consulted.  Drooling is perhaps the most widely associated symptom with teething.  While the exact reason that teething babies have a tendency to drool so much is unknown, it is assumed to be related to an increase in muscle movement.  When a child is teething and gums are inflamed, it is normal for them to be moving their mouths around more consistently.  This movement activates the salivary glands thereby increasing the amount a child drools.  When this is taking place, do your best to keep your child’s face and chin as dry as possible to avoid the development of a rash.  Sometimes it’s helpful to keep a bib on if drooling is particularly bad.

When a child’s teeth begin to come in, it is typically the bottom two front teeth that will make the first appearance.  The upper front four teeth usually follow these.  Since these are the thinnest teeth and have a sharp edge to them, they break through the easiest and tend to cause the least amount of discomfort for the child.  When the molars begin to break through, expect a little more discomfort and irritability from your child.  Molars are bigger teeth with a broad surface, making their cutting a bit more eventful.  On rare occasions, a child may develop a bluish looking cyst on their gums where a molar is about to break through.  This is caused by a build up of fluid beneath the surface and is not to cause alarm.  When the tooth finally does break, there is often blood released with it.   Simply wash out your baby’s mouth and all is well.  However contact your child’s dentist if you notice abnormal sensitivity or swelling after the tooth has erupted.

 

ERUPTION SCHEDULE :

teething

            Once your baby has begun the teething process, be careful of what they are putting in their mouth.  While they may be drawn to hard surfaces, try and keep them chewing on appropriate toys, pacifiers, and teething rings.  If left unsupervised, chewing on surfaces that are too hard can actually do considerable damage to the new teeth coming in.  Many parents have one trick that they swear by to soothe irritated gums.  Here are some that are commonly used:

-cold, wet washcloth

-frozen/ slushy applesauce or yogurt

-piece of frozen banana wrapped in a damp washcloth

-a small dose of infant Tylenol at bedtime

Not every remedy will work for everyone and sometimes a child may not respond to any of them.  However, don’t resort to numbing oral gels.  Recent studies have shown them to be quite dangerous and related to several severe health conditions.  Stick with infant Tylenol instead.

Also remember that as soon as a child’s first tooth has broken through, it’s time to see the dentist.  Establishing a child’s healthy oral habits early is imperative to creating positive habits that will last a lifetime.  Having an expert keep their eye on your little one’s teeth is important.  A dentist can save your child from unneeded cavities and the oral discomfort if given the opportunity to have regular check-ups with your child every six months.

Beginning the habit of brushing your child’s teeth or even cleaning their gums with a damp cloth is important.  Even before your child’s first tooth has appeared, make sure to wipe his/her gums after every meal.  This will make your child more comfortable when it comes time for brushing and will keep their mouth clean of harmful debris.  Also, resist the urge to put your child to sleep with a bottle or by nursing.  Set aside meal time and keeps bottles of milk and juice to those times.  Once a child gets used to the pattern of falling asleep with a bottle, that habit can be hard to break.  But doing so is imperative once their little teeth start coming in!  So be sure to avoid beginning the habit so you won’t have to break it later on.

When your child begins teething, keep in mind that mild symptoms are to be expected, but that anything resulting in an abnormal amount of discomfort for them is more than likely a separate incident.  Your child’s pediatrician should be contacted accordingly.  Should there be any complications with one of your child’s teeth coming in, don’t hesitate to contact your child’s dentist.  More often then not however, teething irritation is short lived and is no cause for concern.

 

Helpful Dental Tips: Canker Sores

Canker sores are small, shallow ulcers that appear in the mouth.  They are typically white or grey at the center and rimmed in red.  There are two types of canker sores:

simple canker sores– usually those ages 10-20 will get this type of sore; they will appear 3-4 times a year, lasting up to a week each time.

complex canker sores– these sores are less common and occur more often in those who have had canker sores before.

In the case of a simple canker sore, scientists and doctors are still not sure what causes them.  They can often appear in correlation to a stressful event or situation, or can develop as a result of damage being done to oral tissue.  This damage would entail something like a sharp tooth or rough edge on braces irritating the inside of the cheek and creating a canker sore.  Food can often times be a trigger for simple canker sores as well.  Fruits and vegetables that are high in acidity, such as citrus fruits, pineapple, figs, strawberries, or tomatoes, can cause irritation within the mouth and result in a sore developing.

Complex canker sores, on the other hand, can often be the result of a weak immune system.  However, more often than not, they are caused by vitamin deficiencies within the body such as an insufficient amount of vitamin B-12, zinc, folic acid, or iron.  It is important to note that canker sores are not cold sores.  Cold sores are a virus and must therefore be dealt with differently.

How to Prevent Canker Sores

            Canker sores can appear on the roof of the mouth, the interior of the cheek, on the gums, or even on the tongue.  If a canker sore is particularly large, it can cause the side effects of a fever or even swollen lymph nodes.  Typically a sore will not last more than a week and its painfulness will subside as the days go on.  You can help prevent canker sores by avoiding irritating foods such as citrus, overly spicy foods, acidic vegetables and even sour candies that are high in acidity.  Chewing gum can sometimes be an irritant as well.  Brushing and flossing after meals can help keep these irritations at bay.

If Sores Persist…

            Some home remedies to try include,

– rinsing your mouth with salt water

– swab the sore with diluted hydrogen peroxide to help kill bacteria

– try dabbing Milk of Magnesia on the sore to assist in reducing pain

– purchase some pain relieving gel, such as Orajel, to numb the area

– make sure to clean mouth after every meal to keep the sore is as clear of bacteria as possible.

If a canker sore simply will not go away after a week, contact your dentist.  They may prescribe an antimicrobial mouth rinse or, if it’s particularly bad, a corticosteroid ointment.

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/canker-sores

http://dentistry.about.com/od/basicdentalcare/f/cankertreatment.htm

Helpful Dental Tips: Bad Breath

Bad breath, scientifically known as halitosis, can be a symptom of several different things.  It could be an indicator that your oral hygiene practices need to be brushed up, or it could be a sign that you have some larger lifestyle practices that need reevaluating.  Here’s a look at the most common causes of bad breath and ways to help reduce this troublesome symptom.

You Are What You Eat

            When it comes to your breath, the foods you ingest on a regular basis really make a difference.  As is commonly known, strong smelling foods like onions or garlic will cause your breath to smell strong.  The reason for this is that these foods get into your bloodstream and travel to your lungs where they are exhaled in your breath.  Onion or garlic breath won’t go away until your body has thoroughly digested these foods.

Regular coffee and alcohol consumption can also lead to strong, stale breath.  Due to the dry mouth that both beverages promote, saliva production is reduced, thereby allowing bad-breath causing bacteria to stay in your mouth longer.  Smoking is, of course, another habit that will cause strong breath as well as other negative health issues.

With food or beverage related bad breath, it is good to get in the habit of drinking lots of water.  Water is a naturally cleansing liquid that helps promote saliva production that in turn washes the mouth by dissolving odorous food particles and bacteria.  Try to get in the habit of swishing your mouth out with water after meals if a toothbrush and floss aren’t handy.  Also, studies have shown that after dinner breath mints can further agitate bad breath rather than squelching it.  The sugar in the breath mint only further adds to the development of odor producing bacteria.  Try a sugar-free chewing gum that’s sweetened with xylitol instead. Xylitol has been shown to prevent bacteria growth within the mouth, helping keep your breath fresh and healthy.

Oral Hygiene

            As would be expected, bad breath can often be a result of poor dental hygiene.  If you’re not flossing regularly in addition to brushing, food particles caught between your teeth will begin to attract bacteria and smell, causing bad breath.  Make a habit of flossing regularly and brushing at least twice a day.  Make sure that you’re cleaning your tongue as well.  Your tongue can hold onto food particles, so it’s good to make a habit of brushing or scraping it regularly.  Antibacterial mouthwashes can also be added to your daily regimen if the problem persists.  If bad breath persists, a change in toothbrush might be in order, such as a Sonicare toothbrush that will keep your teeth free of plaque and other stubborn debris.

Persistent Bad Breath

            If bad breath persists for an abnormally long period of time, it could be an indicator of a bigger  concern.  Make sure you’re maintaining good oral hygiene to keep down on plaque build-up.  An overabundance of plaque can cause gum disease or irritation, which can, in turn, cause bad breath.  Persistent bad breath can also be a symptom of a respiratory infection such as pneumonia, bronchitis, or a sinus infection.  It can also be an indicator of liver or kidney problems and sometimes, even diabetes.  Be sure to visit your dentist   every 6 months.  This will keep your mouth healthy and give you a chance to seek  advice if health concerns such as bad breath persist.

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/bad-breath

http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/bad-breath-good-and-bad-foods

http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/get-rid-bad

The Most Harmful Foods for Dental Health

It’s easy to get caught up in the habit of snacking.  You’re having a long day, your children are hungry, and so you grab something easy for them to eat in the car while you finish running errands.  A few packets of fruit snacks or bags of goldfish won’t do instant damage, however it’s good to be aware of just how often you resort to feeding both you and the little ones these kinds of sugary foods.  For their dental health, it’s good to know what happens when those sticky food particles stay on teeth for too long.  Here is a look at potentially harmful foods (and beverages) that you should try to keep to a minimum in your family’s diet:

Drink Up

            There’s nothing more wholesome than starting your child’s day off with a glass of orange juice—or is there?  While oranges, grapefruits and lemons are all a wonderful source of vitamin C, they are also very acidic which can be detrimental to teeth.  This is not to say stop serving orange juice with your eggs and pancakes, but rather to make sure that you   brush after breakfast.  Also, take a look at the sugars in your orange juice.  The average glass contains only 10 grams less of sugar than orange soda!  So  give juicing a try.  The orange juice will be fresh and delicious without all of those unneeded (and damaging) grams of sugar.

Coffee, while also a very acidic beverage, is known mostly for its staining power.  Studies have shown that coffee stains can sometimes be even more stubborn than those caused by tobacco use!  Stains themselves seem more like an aesthetic problem, however what you may not know is that heavily stained teeth can become almost sticky in texture making them more prone to bacteria build-up and, eventually, decay.

Soda and other carbonated drinks are easy to reach for throughout the day when you want a little boost of caffeine. All parents know to keep sugar to a minimum in their children’s diets, but when it comes to soda, sugar isn’t necessarily the biggest tooth decay offender.  Many assume that if they’re drinking diet soda  that they’re saving their teeth, however these lower calorie options are just as harmful.  All soda, even diet and low calorie, contains both citric and phosphoric acid.  These acids   do the real damage by eroding the enamel on your teeth.  It’s best to keep your soda consumption as simply a mealtime treat.  This will limit your mouth’s overall exposure to the harmful acids.

As kids get older, it becomes more and more common for them to reach for sports and energy drinks for electrolyte replenishment after a soccer game or a boost of caffeine after a long school day.  Don’t run out and stock up on these just yet though, as they are more harmful than soda. Look for some natural electrolyte supplements instead, or choose the sports drink with the least amount of sugar to help keep your kids energized throughout the day.

None of these beverages need to be eliminated from your diet in order to keep your teeth healthy, however it might be good to talk to your dentist.  Find out what your mouth’s weakness is and learn if there are certain things that you should try to avoid more than others.

Snack Attack

            When it’s late afternoon and the satisfaction of lunch is starting to wear off, it’s tempting to reach for the easiest thing in the pantry: a can of Pringles,   goldfish, a handful of crackers.  What you may not realize is that starchy foods like these are full of refined carbohydrates.  You wouldn’t think it, but carbohydrates can actually be quite bad for your teeth because when chewed, crackers and chips become like a paste.  This paste then adheres itself to every nook and cranny of your teeth’s surfaces.  This paste, when left, begins to break down and erode your teeth’s enamel.  So next time you want to snack on a bag of chips, make sure you floss and brush shortly after to ensure that refined carbohydrate paste doesn’t get stuck and have an opportunity to cause harm.

 

Sweet Tooth

            Chewy candies such as taffy, caramels, gummy bears, and fruit snacks are, of course, not the healthiest choice for your teeth.  They’re sticky and and sink down between your teeth allowing bacteria to grow.  This bacterium then utilizes the sugar in the stuck candy to produce acid.  It’s the acid that then dissolves the protective tooth enamel and causes a cavity.   Sour candies are also harmful.  Since these candies are already covered in acid (what gives them their mouth-puckering flavor), they speed up the process of tooth-harming decay making them the most dangerous of chewy candies.

Hard candy may seem like a less harmful way to satisfy your sweet tooth, but that isn’t necessarily the case.  Since hard candy is sucked on rather than chewed, it stays in your mouth for longer periods of time, giving it a chance to coat your teeth in sugar as it dissolves.  This gives bacteria a chance to grow and produce more acid since the candy is in your mouth longer.  Also, hard candies have lots of citric acid, so they’re primed to begin the erosion process.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19083423

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellness/best-worst-foods-teeth/story?id=19085884#11

http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/ss/slideshow-teeth-wreckers

Winter Olympics Coloring Contest

In honor of the 2014 Winter Olympics, held in Sochi this year, the Kidds Place Dentistry is hosting a special coloring competition for all our wonderful patients! Download a copy of our coloring pages and have your child pick one of the three pictures to color.  On March 3rd we will select our favorite piece of art and that child will receive four movie passes to take them and their family to the movie of their choosing!

We have a skier, a snowboarder and a hockey player, ready to be colored in whatever colors your little one sees fit.  The Winter Olympics begin on February 7th, 2014.  Try to sit down and watch them as a family and have the kids color while they watch. If they need some inspiration, help point out some of the amazing athletes who will be skiing, snowboarding, and playing Hockey for the US team this year then have the kids color their pictures to look just like them.  Once they’re finished, have each child pick their favorite page, and then bring them down to the dentist office so we can display them on our wall! Watch our Facebook page and blog to see who wins best picture, and make sure to tune in and watch the 2014 Winter Olympics February 7th-23rd to cheer on Team USA!

Valentine’s Day Crafts for Kids

As February 14th gets nearer, it’s easy to resort to boxes of Sweet Hearts and chocolates to have your children give to their teachers and classmates as valentines.  Here are some cute (and clever) ideas that are fun, practical, and will keep your children from being overloaded with sugar!  Your fellow parents will thank you!

For Teachers and Classmates

Give something cute and practical to your child’s teachers and classmates this year. Check out these three classroom approved valentine ideas:

1. The “You Rule” Valentine

kidsvalentine1

For this scholastically themed gift, all you’ll need is some rulers, red craft paper, and a printer.  Check out this mom’s fun blog post to download a copy of this ruler template for easier assembly of the project (http://www.relocatedliving.com/diy-you-rule-valentine/).  Once you’ve printed out the template on red construction paper, cut slits on either side of the words, and slide the ruler through!  Add some stickers for extra sparkle if you can.

2. The Bookmark Valentine

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Go to your local hardware store, like Lowe’s or Home Depot, and snatch up some Valentine’s inspired paint swatches.  Get a fun heart-shaped hole punch, some pink ribbon, and make a night of putting together bookmarks with your little ones.  Have them give them to their English classmates, where they’re sure to get some good use!

3. The “Stuck on You” Valentine

kidsvalentine3Another cute but practical valentine is this glue stick inspired one.  All you need is some brightly colored glue sticks, some white card stock to print this template onto (http://www.relocatedliving.com/diy-stuck-on-you-class-valentine/), and some Valentines-inspired washi tape.  Just print, tape, and you’re done!  This would make the perfect gift for an art class.

 And for that Someone Special… 

Here are some adorable valentines ideas for those you love the most:

kidsvalentine4 1213 REAL SIMPLE WEDDING AND EASTER KRISSY TIGLIAS kidsvalentine6 1213 REAL SIMPLE WEDDING AND EASTER KRISSY TIGLIAS

Using odds and ends you have at the house, help the kids make some fun 3-dimensional valentines for special family members or best friends.  It’s sure to be a valentine they’ll remember and cherish!

Fun Valentine Crafts

            With Valentine’s Day falling on a Friday this year, take the opportunity to make the weekend fun and family-focused with these creative, colorful crafts:

1. Kool-Aid Playdough

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There’s nothing more fun than making hearts out of squishy playdough.  With this easy to follow recipe, you’ll be able to make homemade playdough that’s safe for even your youngest to play with since it’s edible and colored with unsweetened Kool-Aid!

All you’ll need is:

-1 cup flour

-1 Tbsp vegetable oil

-1 package unsweetened Kool-Aid (get various colors and make a few batches)

-¼ cup salt

-2 Tbsp cream of tartar

-1 cup water

Mix flour, salt, cream of tartar and Kool-Aid in a medium saucepan. Add water and oil. Stir over medium heat 3-5 minutes. When mixture forms a ball in pan remove. Knead until smooth. Put in plastic bag and refrigerate. (http://www.simpleasthatblog.com/2011/02/friday-craft-day-valentine-playdough.html)

Once the playdough has chilled, your children can use cookie cutters to make fun shapes or draw in a rolled-out piece of dough with a toothpick.  It will give hours of creative fun that can involve the whole family!

2.  Edible Finger-Painting

If your children are still little and playdough seems like too much, try this fun finger-painting project.  You’ll need a blank canvas (available at many dollar stores), food coloring, masking tape, and an old bed sheet or big piece of plastic you don’t mind getting messy.

Follow this easy finger paint recipe:

kidsvalentine9

Then tape up your canvas with a word or pattern:

kidsvalentine10

Let you’re little one have at it!  Make sure they cover the whole surface so that the word will show up well:kidsvalentine11

Once the paint is dry, remove the tape.  Now you have a fun piece of artwork to hang!  Be sure to date it

kidsvalentine12

(http://deborahgilbert42.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/capris-valentine-craft/)

Indoor Entertainment for the Winter Months

When the temperatures outside drop, it can become hard to find reasons to pull the kids away from the television and limit the amount of computer games that are played.  Here are a few ideas for keeping both you and your kids entertained and interacting with each other while being creative at the same time!  By the end of the day, the kids will be so distracted with all of the fun things they’ve accomplished that they’ll forget to complain about not being allowed to spend the day on the couch.

1. Build-a-Story Time

This is a great activity to enhance creativity.  Have all the kids sit in a circle on the floor.  Pull out your phone so you can record using either your video camera or voice memo app.  Recording the story you and your kids are about to create makes it more fun since you can all listen to it afterwards and laugh at all the silly things you came up with.  The goal is to have each person make up a sentence to the story, building on whatever the previous person said.  So if you start the story by saying,

“Once upon a time, Mr. Paul Porcupine was walking through the forest when he came on Mr. Clarence Crow wearing a kilt.”

Then the next child will continue like,

“’Why are you wearing a kilt, Mr. Crow?’ Mr. Porcupine asked.”

And so on.  The story can go on as long as you like.  Maybe decide in advance how many times you’d like to go around the circle to keep it from going too long.  When you’re finished, stop the recording and replay it for the kids.  It’s a great way to get them feeling creative and make a fun memory that you can relive again and again by playing the recording!  You can even share it with any family members who missed out that night over dinner to get a few more laughs.

2. Have a “Snowball” Fight

If the temperatures have been below freezing or you live somewhere where a white winter isn’t something you get in the early months of the year, then maybe this fun activity will help pacify your kids’ need for snow!  Assuming you feel up to the work of re-matching them all later, have the kids gather together all the socks they can find.  Then have them ball them all up and split them into even piles.  Once the kids have picked their teams, have them build up barricades using couch cushions or pillows and then have them go for it!  Make sure to remove any breakables from the war zone ahead of time to ensure the activity remains fun for everyone.  The first team to run out of snowballs has to clean them all up and redistribute them to the winning team before beginning round 2!

3.  Put on a Puppet Show

Pull out a few old white socks and have the kids make them into pieces of art with personality!  The longer the socks, the better puppets they’ll make.  Set the kids up at the kitchen table (or wherever is most convenient) and have them use markers, glitter glue, paint, old buttons, pipe cleaners or whatever else you have laying around to make some colorful puppets.  Assign each child a character like a princess, prince, knight, etc.  Or have them make animal puppets like a fox, a bear, or a bird.  Then find a big cardboard box (or a smaller table with a sheet draped over it) and send the kids to rehearse.  Have their puppet show be the after dinner entertainment that night!  It’s fun for everyone and makes for a break from movies and games.

4. Indoor Ice Skating

If your kids are still little enough that they take daily afternoon naps, then this activity will make for the perfect middle of the day entertainment to tire them out before they go down.  All you need it some wax paper, a few rubber bands, and a carpeted room with open space.

Cut off pieces of wax paper big enough to fit over your child’s feet and then wrap them up and rubber band them around the ankle so it looks like they have on little wax paper booties.  Then have the kids start sliding around on the carpet.  Make sure there aren’t any hard pieces of furniture too close by to ensure they can’t slip and hurt themselves.  It’s a great activity that gets them moving and tires them out even when they can’t be outside running around!

5. Build a Fort

One of the most fun things for a child is to have a space they can call their own.  What better way to do that than by having them build themselves their very own fort? First, decide what room in the house you don’t mind them invading.  A room with couches and chairs can be fun because it allows them to string blankets between the different pieces of furniture.  Or maybe nominate one of the kid’s bedrooms as the location for the structure.  Inform them at the beginning how long the fort can be up.  This will help make sure they cooperate when you say it’s time to clean it up and will help you keep your sanity so you’re not staring at a mound of pillows and blankets for a whole week.  Pull out blankets and sheets that are acceptable for them to use, set any ground rules you need to (perhaps you don’t want them stealing cushions from your snow white couch or have them using the crystal bowl from your great grandmother to hold blankets in place) and then have them begin!  This is a great activity for kids who are a little older.  It helps sharpen their reasoning skills since they have to figure out how to put all of the pillows, cushions, and blankets together in such a way that ensures their structure stays intact.

Once their fort is complete, make some popcorn and send a stack of fun books or coloring materials in with them.  Let them make the space whatever they want it to be and have them spend their afternoon and evening playing house.  And, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, pull out the sleeping bags and let them sleep in there for the night.  What could be more fun than a cozy campout beneath blanket ceilings?

 

Make Brushing Teeth Fun

When children are old enough to understand its importance, getting your kids to brush their teeth ceases to be a struggle.  But when you’ve got toddlers on your hands that want everything to be fun, it can be difficult to come up with ways that keep you from feeling like you’re fighting with your child every night at bedtime.  If your toddler sees brushing their teeth like a chore, their willingness to do it is much less than if it seems like something enjoyable and game-like.  The following are some creative ideas to get your little one’s pearly whites shining with as few tears and meltdowns as possible!

1. Copy Cat

Bring your toddler into the bathroom with you and show them how you brush your teeth.  Show enthusiasm and excitement.  Explain how it’s fun and feels good to your teeth and gums and makes it so your teeth will stay strong and healthy.  Explain how food and sweets can get stuck in your teeth and how it’s your toothbrush’s job to get them out of there.  Make it fun!  Put your child up on the counter and have them try brushing your teeth.  This will help them see that it’s not scary at all and that it won’t hurt.  Then have them brush the teeth of their favorite doll or stuffed animal.  Finally, have them brush their own teeth and let you help with reaching the difficult spots.  This will help them see that brushing their teeth can be fun even though it’s necessary.

2. Give Them the Choice

Help your child feel that brushing their teeth is a big kid activity that they get to be a part of.  Make it an outing with them!  Take your child out to the store when you go to buy their toothbrush and make it a fun occasion.  Show them which toothbrushes will work for their mouth size and have them pick the one that they like best.  Then look at kids’ toothpastes together and have them pick out their favorite flavor like strawberry or bubblegum.  This helps them feel in control of what’s going on and excited about brushing their teeth!

3.  Make it a Musical Affair

What makes something feel more fun than with a song?  Making a tooth-brushing jingle or song can make the process feel like more of a game to your toddler.  Sing something like, “Brush, brush, brush your teeth…” to the tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat or simply sing the theme song from your child’s favorite cartoon like Mickey Mouse Club House, Winnie the Pooh, or Sid the Science Kid.  Sing it while you brush their teeth and decide in advance how many times through the song makes for a thorough brushing.

4.  Create a Diversion

Having your child distracted while you brush their teeth may make the process a whole lot easier on you.  Maybe have them sit in your lap while they watch a few minutes of a show or just put them on the counter in such a way that they can watch themselves brushing in the mirror.  Sometimes just seeing their reflection can be enough to make it interesting for them and distract them from what they’re doing.

5.  Try a Fancy Toothbrush

With today’s plethora of teeth-brushing options at affordable prices, it may be worth it to invest those few extra dollars and get your child an electronic toothbrush.  They even make ones that have music built in so that your child knows how long to brush for. It’s easy to find one that will be right up your child’s alley and make brushing more pleasant for everyone!  Children’s Sonicare toothbrushes are available for purchase at The Kidd’s Place.

6. Change it Up

Here are some random tips and tricks that have worked well for some parents:

–          Try changing up your language.  Say something like, “I’m going to tickle your teeth!” rather than saying “brush”.  This makes it feel silly and fun for your toddler!

–          Try brushing while your little one is in the bath.  It might be easier to incorporate it right into their bath time routine rather than making it a separate event.  Brush rubber ducky’s teeth and Mr. Tugboat’s teeth and then make it your child’s turn.

–          Find a funny video of your child on your phone or maybe a special YouTube video they enjoy and make it the brushing video.  They can only watch it while getting their teeth brushed and they have to sit very still while watching.  This creates a distraction while making your child see it as something fun rather than a chore.

If songs aren’t working for you, try making it a tooth-brushing countdown.  Pick a number like 15 or 20 and start counting down to 1.  When you’ve done it once for the top and once for the bottom, you can be through!

7.  When All Else Fails…

Sometimes you can try every little gimmick and game and your child still won’t fall for it.  They’ll be too smart for their own good and know exactly what you’re trying to do no matter how well you disguise it.  When this happens, don’t despair!  Teeth brushing will still get done.  It just may not be as fun as you were hoping.  When this happens, resort to the basics:  hold your child in your lap with their neck resting on your non-dominant arm.  Then proceed to brush their little teeth until they sparkle!  If you have a particularly stubborn toddler, you may need to tag team them with your partner, having them hold the lower half of your child’s body while you have their head in your lap.  The more used to the process they get, the less they’ll squirm.  Make sure to keep it from being a scary thing though.  You don’t want them blurring the lines and developing a fear of everything that involves their teeth.  Keep it as light as possible and hopefully in time they’ll come to see it as an enjoyable practice!

Of course, with any of these methods, always make sure your toddler’s teeth are getting fully cleaned. Teach them how to move their brush and make sure they’re reaching far back enough in their mouths to get all of their little pearly whites.  Happy brushing!