Tips for Keeping Your Family Healthy This Winter Season

The winter season can be cold and beautiful, but it is called “cold and flu season” for a reason! Many people associate winter with sickness, and not always just the cold and flu. Stomach “bugs” and mysterious, annoying illnesses seem to plague families in the winter. How can you avoid them? Is there anything you can do to prevent these nasty bugs from bothering your family this winter?


Yes! There are some things you can do to boost your family’s health and help keep illnesses at bay. Here are some tips.

Rest and Sleep

Many families have schedules that keep everyone running during the day and up late at night. But resting and getting enough sleep are very important for staying healthy. While it’s understandable that some nights are late nights, it’s not a good idea to make staying up late and being sleep deprived into habits. Help your children balance activities and homework so they will get to bed on time.

Eat Well!

During the winter, there is not the abundant produce that we have in the summer. But there are still whole, healthy foods that are available and affordable. Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and whole-wheat pasta are readily available in the winter. Other healthy foods you can include in your family’s winter meals include:

* Winter squash
* Sweet potatoes
* Dried fruits like raisins, dried apricots, apples, figs, dates, cranberries, etc.
* Citrus fruits
* Frozen vegetables and fruits are more affordable and nutritionally similar to seasonal, fresh produce.
* Salmon and other fatty fish are good sources of fish oil, which is considered important for immune system health
* Greens like kale and collards

Vitamins and Minerals

It may help a lot to have everyone in the family on some sort of vitamin and mineral supplement. What supplement is best depends on everyone’s age and lifestyle; generally, a vitamin and mineral supplement that corresponds to family members’ ages should be fine. Make sure the supplement includes Vitamin D3, a key vitamin in fighting off illness, sources say.

Get Outside When You Can

The weather is not bad all winter. Whenever there is a sunny or milder day, get the family outside to get some winter sunshine and activity. Fresh air is a nice break from germ-laden, indoor air, and sunshine exposure helps your body make that important Vitamin D. If there’s snow on the ground, have snowball fights and build snowmen, and go sledding if you have the right kind of terrain. Winter hikes can be fun, too.


Celebrating as a Family: Columbus Day Kids’ Activities

Columbus Day Kids’ Activities

Columbus Day

You can have fun and teach your kids about Columbus Day at the same time. Crafts and activities are a great way to give kids a hands-on experience that underscores their learning. Here are some ideas for kids’ activities for Columbus Day.

1. Boat Race

For this activity, gather the following items:

* Wading pool
* 3 egg cartons, Styrofoam or cardboard
* Floral foam
* Craft sticks or wooden skewers
* White paper
* Scissors
* Electric fan
* Permanent markers and/or crayons
* Hot glue gun

First, cut the egg cartons apart along the hinge. You will be using the lids. Lay slabs of floral foam evenly in each lid so that it’s balanced. Decorate the outside of the egg carton lids however you like. Maybe give them a wooden look with brown, gray and black crayons and markers.

Cut sail shapes from the white paper and decorate them with the names of Columbus’ three ships (the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria). Hot glue the sails to the craft sticks or skewers, then stick them into the floral foam sail-side-up.

Fill the wading pool with several inches of water. Keeping the cord and fan well away from the water, place it near enough to create a breeze on the water. Line up the ships, turn on the fan, and have a boat race.

Red Ted Art has 20 awesome ideas for boat building!


2. Spanish and Italian Feast

Christopher Columbus was a native of Italy, and his trip was funded by Spain’s Queen Isabella. Find recipes online or at your local library for classic regional foods and have an ethnic meal. Here are some ideas for various foods and dishes.

* Paella (traditional chicken and rice dish)
* Gazpacho (cold vegetable soup)
* Chorizo (pork sausage with paprika)
* Tortilla de Patatas (tortilla made with potatoes and eggs)


* Frittata (savory pancake with egg and various ingredients)
* Fresh pasta (making pasta noodles can be a fun activity in itself)
* Tiramisu (sponge cake-based dessert with chocolate and Kahlua liqueur)
* Risotto (slow-cooking skillet rice dish)

3. Make a Map

Use butcher paper, large sheets of brown wrapping paper, or even brown paper bags (cut along the seams to make a flat sheet) to make a big map. Research in order to get Columbus’ route accurate, and draw a map of the countries and the route. You could use construction paper to cut out three little ships to go along the route on the map.

The finished map can be put up on a wall if you like, and the ships moved a little each day.

4. Explore

You don’t have to go finding another country, but the whole family can go out exploring with a goal in mind. Put away the GPS and use a paper map and a compass to go on a drive or a hike. Circle the destination on the map and find your way using the old-fashioned implements. You could also replicate this spirit of exploration and map reading with a scavenger hunt.

You can find awesome scavenger hunt printables at Make and Takes and also Free HomeSchool Deals!

Free Hiking Scavenger Hunt Printables

What Kids Should Know about Columbus Day

What Kids Should Know about Columbus Day
Columbus Day

Columbus Day can be a controversial holiday, and interestingly enough, it was not particularly well received in the early 20th century when it was first proposed by a New York senator. Nonetheless, many parents and educators consider the study and recognition of history important, and Columbus is a part of history. So what should your kids know about this holiday? Here are some things you might consider teaching your children about Columbus Day.

Why Do We Celebrate It?

A good place to start is finding out why Columbus Day is celebrated. Some suggest that it should be more a day of recognition than celebration. Either way, consider teaching your kids some of the “why’s” of Columbus Day, such as the following points.

* Columbus’ determination, navigational and sailing skills are admirable.

* His “discovery” of South America opened the door for exploration and recognition of the other half of the world that had been unknown.

* It’s a significant historical event of global proportions.

* Columbus Day can be a source of national pride for native Italians and Spaniards.

Columbus Day
Who Doesn’t Celebrate Columbus Day, and Why?

Regardless of your views on the matter, your kids should know that not everyone celebrates Columbus Day. Without sugar-coating it or relating uncomfortable details, frankly explain to your kids that some communities do not celebrate Columbus Day because they relate Columbus’ arrival in the Caribbean with European conquest. Point out that some non-European cultures find this offensive or at least not something they want to celebrate.

Who Was Columbus?

Facts and tidbits about Columbus’ life are interesting, and help put his life’s work and journey into perspective. For example, you can teach your kids:

* Columbus may have been Jewish.
* He insisted until his death that he had found Asia, not South America.
* He vied for recognition and awards for his work.
* Columbus’ remains were exhumed and reinterred at least four times.

What Does It Mean for Us?

Show your kids the modern results of Columbus’ explorations. Chocolate, for instance, and some everyday spices were once unknown in Europe. Black pepper is everywhere now, but your kids might be interested to know it’s one of Columbus’s spice discoveries.

Conquest and Slavery – Getting Perspective

While it may seem shocking to our modern sensibilities, conquest and slavery were part of Columbus’s culture and time, and such concepts were hardly unique to Europeans. To help your kids get the proper perspective, you might make a list of societies and cultures that had slaves (it’s a very ancient concept). Explain that conquest was simply how tribes and people groups acquired land and power. If you like, discuss with your kids what alternatives they think might have worked better.

How do you celebrate Columbus Day?

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