May 5 is World Hand Hygiene Day and Essentia Health wants to Help

**Shared with permission from Essentia Health


It may seem like a simple concept, but washing your hands really is one of the best ways to stay healthy.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), handwashing reduces the number of diarrhea cases by a third, and the number of colds and other respiratory illnesses by 20 percent.  May 5 is World Hand Hygiene Day and Essentia Health is using this time to spread the word about not spreading germs.

“Good hand hygiene is really being aware that we can transmit infectious germs on our hands and that we carry them around with us,” says Dr. Kevin Stephan, an infectious disease specialist at Essentia Health. “Hand hygiene provides a means to get those germs off your hands.  There are several ways to do that, including an alcohol-based handwashing rub or old-fashioned soap and water. The key is to do it properly and to do it at the proper times.”

You should always wash your hands before, during, and after preparing and eating food.  If you care for someone who is sick or are treating a wound, wash your hands first.  After changing diapers, using the bathroom or blowing your nose, it’s time to lather up or sanitize.  And it is good hygiene to wash your hands after petting an animal, cleaning up animal waste, or handling pet food.  Don’t forget to sanitize after touching or taking out your garbage as well.

Effective handwashing involves five simple and effective steps:

  1. Wet
  2. Lather
  3. Scrub
  4. Rinse
  5. Dry

Dr. Stephan adds many places people commonly miss include their thumbs, the webs between their fingers, nail beds and around jewelry.

Please encourage your family to use good hand hygiene habits. Consider these tips:

  • Put a nail brush next to your sink
  • Remind yourself and others to wash carefully around nails and between the fingers
  • Show children how to properly wash their hands and remind them to wash after going to the bathroom, before eating and after playing with pets
  • Use an antibiotic wipe on shared surfaces of your home regularly, including your cell phone, computer mouse, and television remote

The CDC also has some great resources and science to back up healthy hand hygiene at this link:



Nature’s Classroom: 5 Great Outdoors Activities for Kids

Nature’s Classroom: 5 Great Outdoors Activities for Kids

The summer season is upon us and this fleeting time of year is destined to be filled with adventures and sunny fun. The following is a list of creative ideas that showcase the beauty and innovation of using nature’s classroom to continue learning even after school it out.

There’s Something in the Water: There is something mesmerizing about water, especially with kids. We all know summer fun would not be complete without lots and lots of WATER. Aside from swimming, water can act as a tool of fun, a chance for play and even an opportunity to learn about science. Here are some “out-of-the-lake” ideas for implementing water in your summer camp fun (all need adult supervision):

  • Fun games like a Bucket Relay Game or Water Balloon Target Practice.
  • Moving Water Boat Races (use tools like garden hoses, meat basters and scoops to motivate the boats to move).
  • Creative Boat Building Using Materials from Nature: What’s a boat race without a fun boat, right?
  • Homemade Aquarium(use smaller containers of water, natural aquatic plants and toy water creatures).
  • Absorption Experiments: Use different materials like sponges, paper, cloth and wood to create some sensory fun for your campers.
  • Water Nature Hunt: Tap into the wonder that lies at the water’s edge of lakes, ponds or streams with a good ‘ol fashioned scavenger hunt.

Go on a Bug Hunt: Did you know that some of the most interesting creepy crawlies come out at night? Arm your campers with some bug spray and a flashlight and go on an after-dark bug hunt. Sides of building and leaves are great places to find unique, multi-legged nightlife.

Explore Language and Culture: Did you know that the Ojibwe word for thank you is Migwetch? Some of the most rich and meaningful culture comes from those who inhabited the earth before us. Encourage your kids to use their summer months or summer camp experiences to learn about new languages, cultures and traditions such as foods and dance. To learn more Objibwe words go here and to learn more about Native American history go here.

Rocking Hunting: Rocks are everywhere and yet another piece of nature we take for granted. But have you ever noticed that some rocks increase in beauty once water is applied? Many stones like quartz and agates drastically change in appearance once they was washed allowing mom and dad to create a fun gem hunting adventure. Simply arm your young explorer with a squirt bottle and a bucket and send them out a rocking gathering expedition.

Make A Den: Many wildlife animals prepare a home for themselves, also called “den.” Dens can be in the ground, in a tree, in a cave or in a pile of fallen branches. Have your nature savvy campers research different types of animal dens, like a bear’s den for example, and create their own backyard version using nature’s own material like branches, leaves and plant life.

One final touch to your DIY camp adventure would be to create an indoor summer camp experience by making mock tents out of blankets, serving camp friendly foods like hotdogs, fruit and cold sandwiches and building a mock campfire from cardboard paper towel tubes and orange and red tissue paper. Top off this activity by reading stories around your mock fire or simply recapping the fun of the day.

What memories will you create this summer?


Tips and Tricks for Successful Slow Cookery

crockpot cooking

Slow cookers are a wonderful way to have food “cook itself.” If you’re not used to using one, knowing some tips and tricks ahead of time can help reduce the learning curve. Even if you do use your slow cooker frequently, it’s nice to expand your recipe repertoire and learn something new about this stand-by of busy kitchens.

Here are some tips and tricks for successful slow cookery.

1. Don’t Peek!

When you’re using your slow cooker, leave the lid on unless the recipe directs you not to. If you take the lid off during cooking, it can take up to 25 minutes for the food to resume its proper cooking temperature, and that extends your cooking time.

2. Warming “Plate”

You can use your slow cooker to keep foods warm even if you didn’t make them in the slow cooker. From soups to meatballs, a slow cooker on Low with the lid off or Warm with the lid on can keep foods hot while you transport them or serve them from your buffet or table.

3. Hot Weather Friend

Did you ever think about how little heat a slow cooker generates in the kitchen? This makes it ideal for cooking during hot weather. You can even do baking in your slow cooker, helping to keep your kitchen cool.
(Slow cookers use less energy than an oven, too.)

4. High, Low, and Making Adjustments

A good rule of thumb to remember is that 1 hour on High is roughly equivalent to 2 to 2 1/2 hours on Low. Knowing this allows you to adjust the timing of your dish, whether to speed it up or slow it down.

5. Blanch Veggies

Blanched vegetables do not lose as many nutrients as veggies that are placed in the cooker raw. (Blanching means dipping the vegetables in boiling water for a minute or two, then in cold water to stop the cooking process.)

6. A Special Warning about Raw or Dried Kidney and Fava Beans

If you are going to use these beans in your slow cooker, choose canned whenever you are able. Dry or raw kidney and fava beans contain a toxin that only goes away if the beans are boiled for 10 minutes. The low temperature of a slow cooker doesn’t work to get rid of this toxin. So either use canned beans or pre-boil them.

7. What Size?

Generally speaking, a family of four can do well with a slow cooker that’s about 5 to 6 quarts. However, having more than one slow cooker size can come in very handy. You can have a hot drink going in the small one while you make chicken stock in the large one; or bake bread in the large one while heating soup in the other (for example).

8. Fast-Cooking Foods

If you are going to be gone a while and still want to cook thin cuts of chicken or fish fillets in your slow cooker, you can place them in the cooker while they are frozen. This increases the cooking time and decreases the chances of overcooking.

I found some killer crockpot recipes over at Girl Love Glam! 8 Slow Cooker Recipes to Try | Fight the Flab Friday

Slow Cooker Recipes


Learning by Doing: A Roundup of Earth Day Printables!

Earth Day is only a few short days away!  It’s a time when our communities share a like-minded cause of remembering to care and cherish our Earth.

Earth Day came about after six years of effort from then Senator Gaylord Nelson, who, back in the 1960s, had the foresight to look at the long term impact of pollution on the environment. He was instrumental in getting his message out to college students, who took this issue on with concern and enthusiasm for this project. Earth Day became a National Awareness day on January 20, 1970, with the date set for celebration as April 22 of every year. In 2007, it is estimated that one billion people recognized Earth Day in some way.

Internationally, Earth Day is celebrated at different times, in approximately 175 countries. In the northern hemisphere, it is observed in the spring; in the southern hemisphere, Earth Day is observed in the fall.

There are a multitude of ways to celebrate this very special day from planting a tree, reading Earth Day related books to be “car-free” for a day. Many parents, teachers and caregivers also love the opportunity to deepen the understanding and wonder of this great planet we live on through activity and play. Below is a roundup of many wonderful activities and crafts from moms and earth-lovers just like you and I. Enjoy!


Earth Day Printables

3-Part Recycling Cards from Living Montessori Now

Earth Month Scavenger Hunt from Kc Edventures

Earth Day Printable Pack from Encouraging Moms at Home

Free Recycling Crushes Exercises for Kids from Christina Chitwood

Free Mini Earth Day Pack from 3Dinosaurs

Earth Day Action Reminder Cards from Cutting Tiny Bites

DIY Garden Seed Markers with Printables from Merriment Design

Free Earth Day Learning Pack from 3Dinosaurs

Reduce, Reuse & Recycle Activity with Printable from A Little Pinch of Perfect

Free Earth Day Playdough Mats from 3Dinosaurs

Earth Coloring Page from What We Do All Day?

Free Earth Day Math Printable Worksheets for Kids from iGame Mom

Earth Day Printable I Spy Activity from The Moments at Home

Earth Day Worksheet from Mrs. Karle’s Sight and Sound Reading

Earth Day ABC Order from Books and Giggles

Earth Day It’s Time to Recycle Game from Teach with Me

Printable Earth Outlines and Shape Books from A to Z Teacher Stuff

Printable Recycling Game from Adventure in a Box

Pollution and Solution Cards from Every Star is Different

Recycling Do-a-Dot Printable from Living Montessori Now
The day is observed to make all of us aware of our responsibilities towards our mother earth. The way we have been taking all that we can from the earth will one day finish all the coal and hydrocarbon from the earth. Same with all the minerals. We are extracting what all we can. The earth is our greatest friend but we earthlings behave as if we are the masters. The earth supports us in all the ways. It gives us the atmosphere to breathe, the water to drink, and food to eat. It gives us thousands of varieties of plants and it gives us the place to make our home. The earth gives its all to us without any protest, April 22nd is a day (and it shouldn’t be the ONLY day) that we can give back to Mother Earth. Reconnecting with nature is the best way to remind yourself why we’re fighting so hard to protect it.


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