Emergency Medical Services for Children tips and resources

May 20, 2015

Children are not little adults and this is especially true when it comes to treating them in emergency medical situations. That is why EMSC (Emergency Medical Services for Children) has been working with medical facilities at the local, state, and national level since 1991 to make sure as many locations as possible are prepared and trained to work with children.

Today, May 20th, is the national Emergency Medical Services for Children day to help raise awareness of these efforts and increase funding for these important services. So what does this all have to do with you as a teacher, child care provider, or family?

A lot! The important emergency care actually starts before the medical experts arrive on scene. That is why EMSC advocates for everyone being prepared and knowledgeable about at least the most common and basic of accidents and first aid needs.

So here are a few easy things you can do to get prepared.

Create a basic First Aid kit (and keep it stocked)

first aid kit

Source: Redleaf Quick Guide Medical Emergencies in Early Childhood Settings (2007)

Teach children some of the basics of emergency protocol

  • who to call and what to say
  • where emergency contact information is located so first responders can find it
  • keep a list of allergies and immunizations handy and make sure care providers are aware

Great resources to keep on hand:

Guide to give to parents from Emergency Medical Services for Children 

Redleaf Quick Guide Medical Emergencies in Early Childhood Settings – new revised and updated edition coming March 2016!

Take care!

Literacy with limericks: rhyming fun for everyone

May 13, 2015

May 12th was Limerick day. If you don’t know what a limerick is, let us enlighten you.

A humorous poem only five lines long. Lines one and two rhyme with the fifth line. The third and fourth lines rhyme. Rhyme scheme looks like this: AABBA

These short and fun poems are great for kids. Have them find some or make them up. Working in teams makes it even more fun.

Here’s an example from the limerick man himself, Edward Lear

There was an Old Man with a beard,

Who said, “It is just as I feared! –

Two Owls and a Hen,

Four larks and a Wren,

Have all built their nests in my beard”

Book of Nonsense, 1846

If the children need help getting started with rhyming, try this fun activity from Lessons for Literacy or try a Rhyming Scavenger Hunt 390601_LfL

Lesson Activity 21

Outcome 29: Differentiates and reproduces rhyming sounds

Learning to rhyme words is not only an enjoyable experience for young children, but this phonological awareness skill has been shown to be a significant predictor of successful reading achievement in later school years. However, rhyming is not always an easy activity for young children to master. In helping children to learn the concept of rhyme, understand that they can use real words or nonsense words to accomplish the task.


Rhyming Names

Have children produce real or nonsense words that rhyme with their first and last names (for example: Jacob, macob, bacob; Jim, slim, him; Carla, Marla, Darla; John, Juan, lawn).

My Rhymes

Play a game in which you say a word and the children repeat it and add a word that rhymes. Initially help children who are having problems with the rhyming sound. Allow children to help each other. Work independently with children who are struggling.

Rhymes in Literature

Read books by authors who use rhyming words, such as those by Dr. Seuss, or books of Mother Goose rhymes. As children become familiar with these books, have them periodically add the last rhyming words. You can also use standard finger plays that feature rhyming words—for example, “Eensy Weensy Spider”.

Idiomatic Rhymes

Introduce children to common phrases that have rhyming words. Some examples include willy nilly, brain drain, lucky ducky, and so on.

Musical Rhymes

Sing rhyming songs. (For example, “Hush Little Baby”) As children become familiar with the songs, have them change or extend the lyrics with different rhyming words.

Same Yet Different?

Have children think of words that rhyme. Write the words so that children see that at times the same sound can be written in different ways (for example: seat/feet, bird/heard, spy/eye).

We would love to hear some of the fun limericks their little minds come up with. Share them here or on our Facebook page!

Have you said thank you to a teacher today? #teacherappreciationweek

May 6, 2015

According to Merriam-Webster a teacher is “a person or thing that teaches something; especially a person whose job is to teach students about certain subjects”. We are all teachers from time to time, but those that choose it as their life’s calling are truly special.

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week we asked a few of our authors, teachers themselves, if they had any special memories of their teachers. Here are just a few that they shared

“One of my happiest school memories was building a computer in my third-grade class with our wonderful teacher, Mrs. Lieber. This was back in the 1970’s when a real computer was about as big as a cow, so we made our classroom computer out of a cardboard refrigerator box. We decorated the box with buttons and switches and then we took turns crawling inside, pretending to be the brain or hard drive of the computer. One student would write a question on a piece of paper and slip it through a slot in the box. The student inside the computer used a flashlight to read the question and write the answer, and then we would slide the paper out again. I remember answering questions about Abraham Lincoln when it was my turn.  Our class loved our computer and we loved Mrs. Lieber and her playful, creative ideas.”

 – Ann Gadzikowski, author of several books including the forthcoming Creating a Beautiful Mess

“I have a lot of memories of fabulous teachers who impacted my life in big ways, but there is not a single teacher who surpassed the impact one man had on my life…my father. He had an undergraduate degree in theology and a graduate degree in special education, but was unable to find a way to provide for a family of seven on a teacher’s salary. He was not a teacher by trade, but was a teacher by all other standards.

With Dad there were no dumb questions and not a single question he wouldn’t do his best to dig up answers to. He was the resident tutor and had seemingly endless patience with all five of his children. He was passionate about education and all five of his children are college graduates. Four of the five have completed graduate degrees. Two of his children teach in the public school system, and one is a homeschooling teacher. “

Amber Harris, author of Wisteria Jane

From all the memories and stories we received we came up with our own definition of teacher . . .


We would love to hear your stories about special teachers! Share in the comments or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter (@RedleafPress). And remember to thank the teachers in your life.

Empowering tomorrow’s storytellers with early literacy

April 29, 2015

Children love to tell stories. From the time they learn their first words they begin telling you stories about what they see and think. They might be short stories of only a few words or long winding stories once they get going. Either way, it is an important process for them. They are learning to articulate their thoughts, building language skills, and communicating their emotions, desires, and more.

This week we celebrate both Tell a Story Day (April 27) and Poem in Your Pocket Day (April 30), so it is the perfect time to get the children in your care sharing their stories with you, you sharing them with families, and all of us becoming better storytellers.

A few ideas to get you started:

Start with a photo and have them tell a story about what they see.

Ask how they got to school today and keep asking questions to build on their story.

Have children retell their favorite story from a book in as much detail as they would like.

Or here is a great activity to get the poetic thoughts going . . .

Rhyming Scavenger Hunt

We would love to hear some of your favorite stories and poems from the writers and poets of tomorrow.

The activity above comes from Brain-Based Early Learning Activities by Nikki Darling-Kuria. Here are a few of our other literacy favorites and if you want more ideas check out the Early Learning and Literacy section on www.redleafpress.org.

Brain Based Early LearningStory DictationWeave the Literacy Web

Happy #EarthDay 2015!

April 22, 2015

Happy Earth Day! It has now been 45 years since the first Earth Day was held and it is probably more important now than it was in 1970. The focus of Earth Day is the celebration of environmental education and inspiring environmental learning and stewardship of everyone.

For several generations we have been less connected to our environment than our ancestors, yet we have done much more to affect the current and future healthy of the environment than others. That responsibility of stewardship can start at a very young age and Earth Day is a great opportunity to plant that seed in children and start teaching some basics.

Have them investigate, examine, and take an active-physical-sensory approach to learning. With the right activities you not only get them outdoors, but develop social sensory, literacy, language, and a full range of other skills at the same time.

Here are a few ideas for environmental education activities perfect for little hands:

Berry painting

Climb the gully

Not doing your own event and want somewhere to see environmentalism in action? Check out the events at www.earthday.org. You will find lots of great organizations that are active year round.

Need more ideas? Here are a few of our favorite books . . .

Celebrate Nature

Early Activities   Nature sparks  Lens on outdoor

April is National #StressAwareness Month

April 9, 2015

We all experience stress in our everyday lives and children are no exception. April is National Stress Awareness Month and while you are checking in on your own mental health be sure to check in on the little ones in your care.

There are several frequent behaviors that could be an expression of stress. In fact, many of these should sound familiar from your own responses to stress. What should you look for?

  • Learning issues such as a lack of focus and concentration. If a child is stressed they might only be able to focus on the worries on their mind instead of the lesson or task in front of them.
  • Problems understanding cause and effect when it comes to their behavior and the disciplinary action taken. When we are stressed we often see things as irrational that we would otherwise accept and understand. Consistency in your response to their behavior is very important, so they can build trust and make the connection.
  • Physical reactions such as heightened startle responses, moodiness, lack of empathy, trouble sleeping, and nightmares. These are all natural responses your body has to stress at any age.

So what do you do to help little ones dealing with stress?

Teaching self-quieting and coping skills to children can help them manage stress throughout their lives. When you think about how you react to stress imagine what it is like for a child. Their brains are still developing the ability to respond in slower, more rational ways so they are more likely to be high-jacked by their automatic survival responses of fight/flight/freeze.

First, offer emotional security; let them know they are safe to express themselves around you. In this safe environment offer sensory healing opportunities such as play, art, and writing that allows them to work through their emotions without being overwhelmed by them.

Many children don’t fully grasp emotions even when they aren’t stressed. As Barbara Oehlberg reminds us, “feelings are abstract and uncertain issues for children”. If they can practice identifying them in others they may be more comfortable owning their own emotions. Looking at images of others helps them realize their feelings are a normal and natural part of life.

Sometimes even we, as adults, need to remember that it is okay to be stressed and that we need to have ways to cope and work through it. So to build resiliency for long term success we need to help ourselves and children express and label feelings, develop self regulation, manage fears that are disguised as anger, manage stress, and solve problems instead of mask them – remember children model the behavior they see so if you can do it you will help them learn to do it too!

Here is a great activity to remind everyone (adult or child) that there is always someone there to value them . . .

wish box activity

Source: Oehlberg, Barbara. Making It Better: Activities for Children Living in a Stressful World. St. Paul: Redleaf Press, 2014.

Guest Blogger: A Funny Thing Happens on the Way by Holly Elissa Bruno

April 1, 2015

We’re delighted to welcome back guest blogger Holly Elissa Bruno. Through her Share Your Stories series, Holly Elissa has taught us all about the gift of second chances. Here she shares a story of a detour and the serendipitous second chances that emerge. When “a funny thing happens on the way” maybe it is a sign that you have a lesson to learn and a second chance to accept.specialguestblogger

Previous stories from Holly Elissa’s blog posts, and even some reader comments, appear in her upcoming book, The Comfort of Little Things. Life is full of detours and second chances, share your own story in the comments below (and who knows maybe it will appear in Holly’s future projects).

“We must be willing to let go of the life we had planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”*

Holly Elissa Bruno

A funny thing can happen on the way to our destination: A detour spirits us into the unforeseen. We can’t turn back. The known road is closed.

Have you experienced or witnessed this unfolding way life works? An unanticipated turning of the heart may result.

In my case, a funny thing happened on the way to a routine, unpleasant but necessary medical procedure. Katie Couric exhorts us to have this screening. Sandra Bullock quips: “Invite your friends to join you.”

Routine colonoscopies save lives and could perhaps have saved Katie Couric’s husband and Sandra Bullock’s mom. So we do what we have to do, grateful to get them over with.

As with many procedures, the actual event isn’t the problem: anticipatory anxiety and distasteful preparation are the problem. Some of us swear off lemon-flavored drinks forever after.

Thirsty and starving (no drinking for four hours or eating on the day leading up to the procedure), I want to be done with it. Having been sickened by an allergic reaction to the pills added to the preparation, I am cranky. Let’s roll!

So what if a rhumba is rocking the monitor? My heart has always beaten to a different drummer. The erratic rate is likely a PTSD response. Invasive medical procedures trigger PTSD. Once my heart feels safe, it will normalize itself. These things I tell myself.

The anesthesiologist’s eyes narrow; gastroenterologist Dr. Song himself rushes to my gurney. My denial protests, “Let’s finish the procedure. I feel okay. No chest pains. This happens a lot.” Dr. Song’s, “No. We need to get you to the ER,” is both resolute and gentle. I would travel the road ahead by ambulance.

This detour gets my attention. I befriend Matt, an ambulance EMT, alerting him of my PTSD and what I need to feel safe. “You too?” Matt replies. “Afghanistan got me.” His fellow EMT says, “Iraq for me”. A clearing in the woods established in a heartbeat, we talk triggers and flashbacks (in my case to violent childhood abuse), and more importantly, what helps. As we wait in the ER for space to clear, medical staff stop by, attracted to the spirited conversation.

Holly Elissa EROnce in my curtained “room,” hooked up to more monitors, I meet Dr. Ximena Castro, hospitalist, with whom I immediately cut to the chase, summarizing what happened and asking for data and clarity. She is equally direct about the tests she will order and the diagnostic path. Soon, she and I are leveling about her pathway from Cuba into medicine and about how our traditional families coped with non-traditional daughters. Our laughter calls others into the curtained space. Party in the ER!

Heart rhythm expert Dr. Dionysus Robotis joins us. I had already gotten the skinny on Dr. Robotis from the nurses. I am ready for him, What’s up with my heart? Yes, heart disease runs in the family. Yes, I’ve told doctors for years about my unique heart beat; it never shows up when I’m being examined. Go figure.

All this time, I am asking God to be with me. When I’m scared, I say I’m scared. When I’m grateful, I say I’m grateful. When I need help, I say I need help. I have steadfastly been unlearning the command I carried from childhood: Face trauma alone. Don’t talk, don’t trust, don’t feel. I’m texting my friends to ask for prayers. We are only as sick as our secrets.

Test results come in. A pronouncement is made: I have Atrial flutter, an electronic abnormality. Neurons tell my heart to beat too often and too much. Cause? Remedy? “We’ll get you stabilized with medication,” Dr. Robotis advises.

Dr. Song shows up after his full day of surgeries. He agrees: if Dr. Robotis says the colonoscopy is safe, Dr. Song will schedule it the following morning as long as I continue not to eat or drink. I am relieved I will not have to start the prep all over again. Once every five years is more than enough for me.

Friends text with sweet concern; Nick, my feisty son, is calling ER staff to demand they treat his mom royally. Suddenly, I am weary. Metoprolol has calmed my heart; rhumba has surrendered to foxtrot.

Night on the cardiac ward is measured every four hours by the taking of vital signs. A patient in the room beside me wails like a wounded elk every hour; my roommate crossly refuses treatment. I sleep when I can, noticing the moon outside my window is where it has always been. I rest. Moon through window

Next morning, I wave the queen’s wave as I am wheeled down the hospital corridor to the colonoscopy. Who else smiles on the way to a colonoscopy?

Procedure accomplished, I request a toasted cheese sandwich (whole wheat bread, please) and a drink.

That’s the moment I realize I have changed: I am choosing trust. I haven’t been bargaining with a conditionally loving God. I am asking a loving God to be with me. Presence is all I need. This is different for me, this abbreviated prayer: be with me. My heart beats a simple desire not to have to go this alone. A surrender to the detour. An openness to life on life’s terms. A turning of the heart.

“Pooh,” whispered Piglet. “Yes, Piglet?” said Pooh. “Oh nothing,” said Piglet. “I was just making sure of you.”

Detours can be bumpy. Second chances aren’t always pretty. But they do remind us of what matters.

*This quote is attributed to both E.M. Forster and Joseph Campbell, depending where you look. I agree with the sentiment, regardless of which of these men expressed it.


Cooking is Cool with fruit burritos [A National Nutrition Month reminder]

March 25, 2015

March is coming to an end already, which means there is only about a week left of National Nutrition Month. However, the end of the month shouldn’t signal the end of healthy eating for you or the children in your care. So here are a few tips to keep you moving towards a healthy lifestyle.

  •  Focus on fruits and veggies. They should make up 2/3 of your plate at a meal
  • Choose items low in added sugars
  • Buy minimally processed forms of foods. For example, frozen berries instead of berry flavored fruit leather
  • Drink water – lots of water!
  • Eat together and when possible everyone at the table should eat the same thing.
  • Schedule meals and snacks at regular intervals. This helps maintain blood sugars (less grumpiness) and keeps everyone from getting too hungry or passing on healthy items

All of these little things will help you work towards the bigger goal of a healthy lifestyle. The other important thing you can do to help children learn about healthy eating early is to get them involved. Give children preparation tasks based on their age and skill, and let them observe what they can’t do themselves. Children will have the opportunity to learn about food preparation and cooking, and they are more likely to eat what they helped make.

Here is an easy and tasty option the kids can have their little hands on from start to finish!

Fruit burritosFruit Burritos


1 banana, sliced

4 strawberries, sliced

1 peach, pitted, peeled, and sliced

1/4 cup fresh blueberries

1 10-inch flour tortilla

1 Tbsp cream cheese

1 Tbsp vanilla yogurt


1. Slice bananas, strawberries, and the peach into small thin pieces, and set aside.

2. On a tortilla, spread approximately 1 Tbsp of cream cheese.

3. Place the sliced fruit and the whole blueberries down the center of the tortilla.

4. Drizzle 1 Tbsp of yogurt over the fruit.

5. Roll the tortilla burrito style. To shape the burrito, first fold the bottom edge of a softened tortilla up and over the filling. While holding the bottom of the tortilla over the filling, fold in the sides. Then, starting from the folded bottom edge, roll up the tortilla to encase the filling.

Makes 2 servings. Serving size 1/2 burrito.

Fun fact: The word burrito means “little donkey” in Spanish 

Recipe source: Cooking is Cool: Heat-Free Recipes for Kids to Cook by Marianne E. Dambra

Tips source: Rethinking Nutrition: Connecting Science and Practice in Early Childhood Settings by Susan Nitzke, PhD, RD;                          Dave Riley, PhD; Ann Ramminger, MS; and Georgine Jacobs, MS

Brain Awareness Week: Activities for toddlers’ growing brains

March 18, 2015

Happy brain awareness week!

Sometimes we forget that children’s brains are a work in progress. They do not think the same way as adults and we must foster their development as we help them grow and mature. In the early years a child’s brain is making trillions of connections between brain cells. Although they will build on these connections throughout the rest of their life, they will never be creating as many as they do in the first five years of life.

The experiences and interactions a child has in the early years form the basis for the initial burst in brain development. So how do you foster healthy brain development in your everyday interactions? And remember to keep your cool when it feels like you are speaking two different languages?

What follows are a few fun facts and ideas from Brain Insight Cards by Deborah McNelis.

From More to Do While I’m Two 

Read it again

What I see

Play is best

I'm not so terrible

From Play with Me While I’m Three

One for everyone

Find the color

I can help

The same or different

Help a little one grow into one smart kid with these “fun and loving brain development activities”!

What’s inside that veggie?: A discovery activity for children

March 11, 2015

As spring finally arrives and we see green begin to sprout, our minds turn to flowers, gardens, and time outdoors. Since March is also National Nutrition Month it is a great time to combine learning about gardening and fresh fruits and veggies.

What child isn’t curious about what is on the inside? That hidden part they can’t see.

This activity from Gardening with Young Children is the perfect way to introduce children to produce they might be unfamiliar with and teach them some of the basics of how plants grow.

Have fun and get a little dirty! What's Inside

What’s Inside?


•   Fruits and vegetables are made up of different parts.

•   Many fruits and vegetables have seeds on the inside.

•   Seeds come in many different sizes, shapes, and textures.


two or three kinds of fruits or vegetables with seeds


trays on which to explore produce and seeds


1.   Set out the fruits or vegetables on the table. Engage the children in a discussion about what they know about the produce so far.

 2.  Discuss what the children know about seeds. Did they plant seeds in their garden? Where do they think those seeds came from? What do they think they will find if they cut the fruits/vegetables open?

  3.  Cut the fruits/vegetables. If the produce is soft enough, the children can cut it themselves with table knives. If the produce is large or hard, the adult should use a sharp knife to cut it. Encourage the children to observe the seeds. How are the seeds alike? How are they different? What words could you use to describe the seeds?


•   Cut open a large fruit, such as a birdhouse gourd or swan neck gourd. For this task, the children can use woodworking tools, such as a hammer. Be sure they wear goggles while attempting to open the gourd. They will first make a small hole in the gourd, and further work with the hammer should make the hole bigger. Soon they should be able to get seeds and pulp out of the gourd.

•   If you have seed packets, compare the seeds the children find in the fruits and vegetables with the seeds in the packets for those plants. Are they similar?

You can find more fun gardening activities in Gardening with Young Children by Sara Starbuck, Marla Olthof, and Karen Midden.

Enjoy spring!


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