Monday, June 11, 2018

Encourage Healthy Eating: With a Book!


Learn new things and try new foods! Incorporating snacks into your class lessons and activities is a great way to introduce new foods while teaching important early learning concepts. Why not combine snack time with story time? Students will enjoy eating the same foods as their favorite book characters, and introducing foods through these characters will lend familiarity to foods children may be reluctant to try. Check out these neat examples below!

Jamberry by Bruce Degen

In this 'berry' wonderful tale, a little boy and his bear friend discover all kinds of delicious berries when they go exploring. The melodious rhyming sounds in this book roll off the tongue like berries into a bucket, easily engaging young listeners. Read with an assortment of berries, have some toast and jam, or try these berry recipes below!

Berry Popsicles
Creamy Frozen Fruit Pops
Triple Berry Popsicles
Berries & Cream Popsicles
Fruit & Veggie Popsicles

Berry Smoothies
Three Fruit Yogurt Shake
Berry Blast Smoothie
Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Berry Muffins/Cookies
Baked Blueberry Oatmeal Cups
Banana Berry Buttons 
Lemon Blueberry Muffins 
Healthy Raspberry Muffins

 Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert

In this classic, a father and child grow vegetables and make their own soup together! Ehlert simplifies the gardening process for young minds with easy-to-understand, straightforward diction and brightly colored, labeled illustrations of vegetables and the tools used to grow them. For the soup-making process, she explains the utensils and other kitchenware used.

When you read this story aloud to your classroom, bring in examples of different vegetables for your students to examine texture and smell.

Make an assorted platter of vegetables for your students to try as you talk about these vegetables in the book.

Read this book on a day you will be serving vegetable soup to facilitate a discussion on how those vegetables are grown.

You may also want your kids to grow their own mini vegetable garden!

If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Joffe Numeroff 

If you give a moose a muffin, he might want a whole bunch of things to go with it! Filled with humorous illustrations and lovable characters, this classic children's book is sure to leave your kids craving more...muffins!

Try these healthy whole wheat muffin recipes at the links below:
Sweet Spinach Muffins
Healthy Cinnamon Peach Muffins
Healthy Apple Muffins
Healthy Lemon Blueberry Muffins

For more healthy and kid-friendly muffin recipes, check out these listings:
Super Healthy Kids--Muffins
Babble--23 Wholesome Muffin Recipes
KidSpot--19 Healthy Muffin Recipes

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Encourage Healthy Eating: With a Craft!

 Encourage Healthy Eating: With a Craft!

Forget the paints! It's time for some edible arts and crafts! Getting kids to eat their fruits and vegetables can be tricky, especially when introducing unfamiliar foods for the first time. Tackle this challenge by incorporating healthy foods into multiple activities in your classroom. The more kids form positive associations with foods, the more likely they will be to try them at lunch time and snack time. Check out these neat food crafts below to help you get started!

Peanut Butter Celery Butterflies


These butterflies really are made out of butter! 

What You Need:
Peanut Butter (or other substitute)
Googly Candy Eyes

1.Slice your celery sticks into desired lengths.
2.Fill each celery stick with peanut butter.
3.Use two small pretzels for the wings on your butterfly or break one large pretzel in half and stick one half on each side of the celery stick.
4.Stick your candy eyes on with peanut butter.

Owl Toast

You'll be wise like this owl if you eat your fruits and whole grains.

What You Need:
Whole Grain Sliced Bread
Strawberries (sliced)
Bananas (sliced)
Peanut Butter (or other substitute)

1.Pre-slice the bananas and strawberries and put them into two separate bowls.
2.Give each child a slice of bread (toasted if you prefer).
3.Have each child spread the peanut butter over the toast.
4.For the owl eyes, stick two slices of banana at the top of the toast with one blueberry on each banana slice.
5.Use the sliced strawberries for wings by placing one strawberry slice on each side of the toast, toward the bottom.
6.For the nose, place a small strawberry slice underneath and between the eyes, in the center of the toast.
7. The cheerios can be used to decorate the remaining space on the toast.

Grape Caterpillars

You can prepare these cute critters ahead of time or let the kids make them.

What You Need:
Skewers (for young children, try coffee stirrers, mini straws, or popsicle sticks; we wouldn't want anyone poking their eyes!) 
Strawberries (cherry tomatoes will work too!)
Googly Candy Eyes
Peanut Butter (or other substitute)
Black Icing Gel or Edible Black Food Marker (optional)
Parsley/Cilantro Stalks (optional)

1.Stick your strawberry onto one end of the skewer. Then string the grapes onto the skewer behind the strawberry.
2.Stick your candy eyes onto the strawberry using peanut butter or other substitute.
3.Use your icing gel or food marker to draw a smile if desired.
4.Your parsley/cilantro stalks will make perfect antennae! 

Ladybug BLT

What an easy way to spruce up a BLT or tomato sandwich!

What You Need:
Whole Grain Bread
Bacon (optional)
Black Olives
Googly Candy Eyes
Parsley/Cilantro Stalks

1.Simply cut your tomato slice in half to make the wings.
2.Slice up one black olive to make the dots on the wings, and use a whole black olive for the ladybug's head.
3.Stick your candy eyes onto the olive using peanut butter or other substitute.
4.Your parsley/cilantro stalks will make perfect antennae!

**Tip: For any of these crafts, feel free to substitute other fruits/ingredients based on your children's needs and preferences. Substitute ingredients as needed to accommodate food allergies. Some good substitutes for peanut butter include sunflower seed butter, tahini butter, soynut butter, and almond butter.**

Friday, May 18, 2018

CACFP: What It Does and Why It Matters

CACFP: What It Does and Why It Matters

What is the CACFP?

The CACFP began in 1963 as the Special Food Service Program for Children, a government-funded initiative designed to provide children from low-income families with meals when schools were not in session. Since that time, the program, now known as the Child and Adult Care Food Program, has greatly expanded to provide grants to child care centers, after school care centers, day care homes, adult day care centers, and emergency shelters serving meals and snacks. These cash reimbursements are contingent upon each center's compliance with established federal regulations. Food may be free, reduced, or paid for at a certain rate depending on each center's needs. This program is important because it provides at-risk children and adults with nutritious meals they may not have access to otherwise.

Generally, reimbursements may be provided for the following:

Centers and Day Care Homes: Up to 2 meals and 1 snack per day (for eligible children and adults)
Emergency Shelters: Up to 3 meals per day
At-risk After School Care Centers: Up to 1 meal and 1 snack per day

Generally, the program assists:

Child Care Centers & Day Care Homes: Infants and Children up to age 12
Adult Day Care Centers/Homes: Adults ages 60 or older or those who are physically or mentally impaired
After School Care Centers & Emergency Shelters: Children up to age 18
Children of Migrant Workers: Up to age 15

New guidelines on servings and meal patterns were put into place in April of 2016, and centers had until October 1, 2017 to be in compliance with these new standards. Updated servings and meal patterns by age division can be found here.

What types of food do the CACFP meal guidelines recommend?


Most are naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories and contain no cholesterol.
Essential nutrients include potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and folic acid.


Most are naturally low in fat and calories and contain no cholesterol.
Essential nutrients include potassium, dietary fiber, folic acid, vitamin A, and vitamin C.

Dry Beans and Peas

These provide plant protein, iron, and zinc, as well as dietary fiber, folic acid, and potassium. 
They can count as either a vegetable or a protein.


Essential nutrients include protein, B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, zinc, and magnesium.
Proteins build up bones, muscles, skin, blood, and cartilage as well as enzymes, hormones, and vitamins.
Whole Grains

Whole grains retain many nutrients, such as B vitamins and vitamin E, which are stripped out of refined grains by the refining process.
Fiber in whole grains helps to lower cholesterol.
Both bran and fiber prevent spikes in blood sugar by slowing starch breakdown.

Milk (Dairy)

Essential nutrients include calcium, potassium, protein, and vitamin D.

Hydrate with Plenty of Water

Make clean drinking water accessible throughout the day. 

What are the benefits of these nutrients?

Potassium: helps maintain a healthy blood pressure
Vitamin A: battles infections and keeps skin and eyes healthy
Dietary Fiber: helps reduce cholesterol
Vitamin C: aids the growth and repair of body tissues and maintains healthy gums and teeth; helps the body absorb iron
Folic Acid: aids the formation of red blood cells
Iron: carries oxygen in the blood
Zinc: aids biochemical reactions and the immune system
B Vitamins: aids in energy release, nervous system functioning, formation of red blood cells, and the building up of tissues
Magnesium: builds up bones and releases muscle energy
Calcium: builds strong bones and teeth
Vitamin D: regulates levels of phosphorus and calcium, thereby maintaining overall bone health

What does the CACFP recommend decreasing in your meal servings?

Less Salt and Sodium

High sodium intake increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. 

Low Solid Fat

Solid fats are fats, such as butter, shortening, and beef fat, that are solid at room temperature.
These fats usually raise "bad" cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart disease. 
Less Added Sugar

Too much added sugar, which is present in many processed foods, can result in increased blood pressure and chronic inflammation, which may result in heart disease later on in life. Tooth decay and obesity have also been linked to high sugar intake.

More information on the CACFP can be found on the USDA Food and Nutrition website at this link.
More information on healthy eating--options, tips, and benefits--can be found on the USDA Choose My Plate website at this link.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Memorial Day Craft Ideas!

 Memorial Day Craft Ideas!

Memorial Day is just around the corner, and your kids can join in the celebration with these patriotic crafts designed just for them! These fun activities are a hands-on way to begin a discussion on the importance of Memorial Day and why we celebrate the men and women who have served in our armed forces.

Hanging Star Streamers

Great to use as door hangers and window decorations, your kids can proudly display these at home or at school.

What You Need:
Popsicle Sticks (Red and Blue or paint your own)
Ribbon (Red, White, and/or Blue in the pattern of your choosing)
Tissue Paper (Red and Blue, cut into small strips)
Glue (glue pen preferred for young children)
Embellishments (buttons, sequins, stickers, glitter, pom-poms, etc.)

1.Glue your popsicle sticks together in the shape of a star. You will need five sticks per star. Start by making an upside down "V" with two of the sticks. At each end point of this upside down "V," glue the end point of an additional stick so that these next two overlapping sticks form an "X" shape over the top of the upside down "V." Finally, glue a horizontal stick across the top two end points on the "X." Make sure all of your popsicle sticks are attached to each other by their end points. To add stability, put a bit of glue in the extra places where the popsicle sticks overlap.

2.Cut your tissue paper into strips of your desired length and glue them to the back of your star so that they hang down from different points.

3.To make your hanger, cut a small loop of ribbon, and glue both ends of the ribbon to the top point of the star.

4.Once the glue has dried on your streamers and ribbon, glue your embellishments on the front of your star. Let the star dry, and display wherever you wish!

Star Bubble Wands

What You Need:
Small Star Cookie Cutter
Pipe Cleaners (Red, White, and Blue colors)
Craft Beads (Red, White, Clear, and/or Blue colors)
Bubble Solution
Small Dish

1.Wrap a pipe cleaner around the star cookie cutter, making sure to fit it tightly into all the grooves. Leave a little excess cleaner at the end to close off the star. The remaining length of pipe cleaner is your wand handle.

2.String the handle with beads. Then bend the end of the handle and roll it into a ball to hold the beads in place.

3.If your star has lost a bit of its shape at this point, simply place it around the cookie cutter again and re-tighten its shape.

4.Now pour your bubble solution into a dish, and use your star wand as you would any other bubble wand! 

Make these wands in any color or shape for all kinds of occasions!

Dot-Painted American Flag

A spin on traditional flag painting, this quick and easy craft utilizes pom-poms instead of paintbrushes.

What You Need:
Plain White Index Cards (use 5" x 8" for larger flags)
Small Pom-Poms
Acrylic Paint (Red, White, and Blue colors)

1.You will need three clothespins. Each clothespin will clamp onto a pom-pom. Make sure enough of the pom-pom is exposed to properly dip it into the paint. Use each pom-pom to dip into a different paint color.

2.Dot the top left corner of your index card with blue paint to make a solid square.

3.Using your red paint, dot evenly spaced horizontal lines stretching from one end of the card to the other. Do this from the top to the bottom of the card.

4.Once your blue paint has dried, make several rows (however many you can fit) of evenly spaced white dots on top of your blue square.

5.Now you have an American flag! Glue it onto a popsicle stick, and display it proudly!

Friday, April 27, 2018

Rainy Day Activity!

Do you have the rainy day blues?? Here is a fun DIY moon sand activity.
What you will need:
·         8 cups of flour
·         Baby oil (1 cup of oil per 8 cups of flour)
·         Plastic Tray
·         Cups
·         Sand toys
  1. Put all ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Combine the baby oil and flour well. It can take a good 10 minutes to get everything completely incorporated.
  3. Put it in a plastic tray, and let the children play freely with it.
  4. You can put measuring cups, spoons, straws, sand toys and other items into the bin for an even more sensory experience.

Children's Factory: Safe and Affordable Daycare Classroom Supplies and Childcare Furniture

Searching for childcare furniture and equipment? Meet all of your daycare playtime and nap time needs with soft, safe, and affordable products from Children's Factory!  For over 35 years, Children's Factory has been dedicated to designing fun and functional play equipment to aid children in developing their social and gross motor skills. From humble beginnings in the attic of its founder, Mike Richter, to its current manufacturing plant in Union, Missouri, Children's Factory has continued to innovate and expand their product line to include bedding, costumes, dolls, and various sensory toys to excite your children's imaginations and assist in early development. Check out some of their awesome daycare and classroom supplies and childcare furniture below!

These brightly colored panels separate spaces for learning, play, and rest in your daycare or classroom! Each hygienic, easy-to-clean vinyl panel fits securely over plastic piping, and panels attach neatly to one another using the included double-claw clips. Turn them horizontally or vertically to suit your tastes. Available in Green, Red, Yellow, Royal Blue, and Deep Water Blue. Buy them separately or as an entire set! And don't forget your Play Panel cantilever legs--one pair needed for every 3 panels! 

Daycare Cots and Cot Sheets

Ensure your children get the rest they need with Children's Factory cots for kids! Featuring durable steel side rails, a moisture-proof, vinyl-coated, open weave bed, and heat-sealed bed seams, these cots will support and comfort your little ones for a restful nap time. Easily wipe them clean after use. They stack comfortably on top of each other as well as most other cots due to their rounded legs for easy storage in your daycare classroom. Available in Full-Size or Toddler-Size.

Cot Accessories

Easily transport your cots to wherever they are needed in your daycare with this rolling cot carrier. 15 to 20 cots fit comfortably onto the carrier. 

Keeps your kids warm and cozy! Machine washable and dryable 100% cotton double-napped surged blanket comes in an extra long length, perfect for kids' cots and rest mats.

Cot Sheets

Available in Fitted, Full-Size, and Toddler-Size, these cot sheets fit snugly onto cot corners by their elastic straps. Cotton/poly blend sheets are machine washable and dryable.

  • Tough Duty Folding Rest Mats: These comfortable kids' folding rest mats feature waterproof seals between sections and an easy-to-clean vinyl cover. Available in 1" and 2" thicknesses. Available in a set of 5 for the 2" or a set of 10 for the 1".
  • Infection Control Folding Rest Mats: Protect your kids from germs and prevent the spread of disease in your classroom. Radio frequency vinyl welding technology seals the seams of these kids' mats, which protects the foam padding from liquid and bacteria contamination. Available in 1" and 2" thicknesses. Available in packs of 5 or 10 with three different color options. You can even get one with a built-in pillow!
  • Flat Rest Mats: These 2" thick kids' rest mats feature smooth, easy-to-clean vinyl covers with inside stitching for smooth edges and a clear plastic name tag holder to label each child's mat as his/her own. Available in two different sets of 5 colors each.


                 Rainbow Flat Rest Mats                                      Woodland Flat Rest Mats

Out of sight and out of the way! Store your kids' rest mats away in this lightweight mobile trolley! Trolley assembles easily with eight casters that snap into place to keep kids' rest mats of any thickness tucked away and ready for the next nap time. Rollers provide easy transport from classroom to classroom in your daycare.

These 48" x 24" cotton-poly blend sheets fit neatly over the corners of your 1" and 2" kids' rest mats to add extra comfort for your little ones and to keep your kids' mats clean and germ-free.

Chair cubes are perfect for your preschool or daycare classroom and provide a great seating solution for reading time! These versatile chair cubes can be used as a chair or a table. Seat is 6" high for kids or 9" high for adults when flipped over. Lightweight and durable chair material is gently rounded at the corners to prevent injuries. Get them individually or as a set! Comes in Red, Green, Yellow, Blue, Sky Blue, Fern, and Almond colors. Perfect for indoor and outdoor use.
Other Products 

Bean Bags, Sit-Arounds, and Sit-Upons


Activity Mats

Activity, Shape, and Obstacle Climbers

Ethnic Dolls


Baby Blocks

Sensory Tables with Sensory Beads

Now that you've seen the highlights, be sure to check out the huge collection of neat products Children's Factory has to offer. Just search under the Children's Factory brand on our website!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Bible Lessons Snack Time

 Genesis 6:9  Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.

While doing this activity, talk to your child about how Noah built the ark. What did he use to build it? How big was it? How did the animals get in? What animals do you think were on the ark?

Check out our Noah's Ark Bulletin Board Sets!

What you’ll need:

  1. Animal crackers
  2. Peanut butter
  3. Banana


  1. Slice a groove on the inside of the curve of the banana.
  2. Fill the groove with peanut butter.
  3. Stick the animal crackers into the peanut butter.
  4. Eat!

Have Children with food allergies? 

For kids with a gluten allergy you can substitute animal crackers for a gluten free version. For peanut allergies you can use an alternative to peanut butter like almond butter or sunbutter.

How to make a Daniel and the Lions Snack

We love the story of Daniel and the Lions. The ideas are simple and easy to teach to toddlers and preschoolers:
  • Daniel was faithful to God
  • God kept Daniel safe
  • He kept Daniel safe from hungry lions by sending angels to shut the lions’ mouths!

Daniel 6:27  He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.

What you’ll need:

  • Crackers
  • Mini Pretzels
  • Raisins
  • Thinly sliced carrots
  • Peanut Butter
  1. Fill the bottom cracker with peanut butter.
  2. Stick the carrot slices in the peanut butter, fanning them around the entire cracker.
  3. Fill another cracker with peanut butter and put it on top.
  4. For the nose and mouth, use peanut butter to stick an upside down mini pretzel to the bottom half of the cracker. Put a raisin in the top for the nose.
  5. Use two more raisins for eyes.
Have Children with food allergies? For kids with a gluten allergy you can substitute animal crackers for a gluten free version. For peanut allergies you can use an alternative to peanut butter like almond butter or sunbutter.

Don't forget to enjoy these snacks with a cup of  PureFUN! 100% Juice Blend Concentrate !!