Does Your Child Need a Drink?

A drink of water, that is. Is your child sluggish and irritable when she gets home from school? That groggy, “I need a nap” feeling could be a sign she needs water. Everyone knows a dry, parched throat signals dehydration. But even mild thirst, feeling tired or having a headache are signs of dehydration. That’s why it’s a good idea to drink water throughout the day, whether you’re thirsty or not.

The human body is ½-¾ water, making it an essential nutrient. It requires no digestion, only absorption. Just about every function that keeps us alive requires liquids. Our bodies lose water all the time – through waste, moisture we breathe out, sweat evaporating off our skin, even tears. We must replace fluid losses through food and drink or we’ll become dehydrated.

Kids may not have frequent opportunities to get a drink during the school day. While playing in the summer heat, they need extra fluids. Try these ideas for keeping kids hydrated, at school and at home:

  • Talk to your child about grabbing a drink at the water fountain during breaks, at recess or between classes.
  • Check if your school allows kids to bring bottled water to class.
  • Include at least a cup of liquid in your child’s lunchbox or have him buy a drink.
  • Give your child a cup of water to drink first thing in the morning, before getting ready or eating breakfast. By the time your child is ready to eat, the water will be on its way to providing hydration to start the day.
  • Make sure kids drink 4-8 ounces of water before going out to play in the heat and offer water breaks frequently.
  • Offer water throughout the day while children are indoors, too.

Estimates vary, but about 75% of adults are chronically dehydrated. Babies and children can become dehydrated more quickly than grownups, especially in hot weather. Keep tabs on your family’s hydration status this summer and drink to your health!

Blessings to you,
Beth Bence Reinke, MS, RD


Teaching Kids to Cook

As parents, we try to prepare our kids to be independent adults. There are so many life skills that need to be taught in the short time they live with us. One of them is learning to cook. Some kids love this process and others would rather have all their food cooked and set before them without lifting a finger. Oh, wait. Sorry. That’s me. 😉

Seriously, how can you go about teaching your kids to make a meal for themselves?. Here’s what I started doing when my three kids were around eight to ten years old. You can start whenever you feel your child is ready to tackle something like this.

Every summer, we’d have one night a week where one child would plan a meal, prepare it, and clean up afterwards. Thursday nights were our kids’ cooking nights. They’d alternate weeks. Their meal had to have an item from each of the five food groups: dairy, meat, bread, vegetable, and fruit. Here’s a link to help kids choose food that fit those groups. 

Early in the week, the cook of the week would look through cookbooks, especially their junior cookbooks, to find ideas. We’d mark each recipe with a bookmark for easy reference. Then we’d make a shopping list of necessary ingredients, so by Thursday, we were ready to cook.

When we first started this summer project, the kids needed a lot of help and guidance to get their meal planned and made. We allowed extra prep time to ensure it would be done at a reasonable eating time. Remember, it will take your child longer than you to figure out measurements, find the right tools in the kitchen, and to simply figure out how to read a recipe. There are lots of abbreviations for them to learn! By allowing plenty of time, you can stay relaxed and have fun teaching them to cook.

By the end of the summer, my kids were much more self sufficient at creating a meal from start to finish. I was available to answer questions as they arose, but they enjoyed feeling like they could do it themselves.

Here’s a simple recipe I recently taught my ten-year-old grandson.

Cheese Quesadillas

1 flour tortilla per person

2 cheese sticks per person (I use colby/jack sticks)      

  1. Place tortilla on a plate  
  2. Break cheese sticks in half and place them in 2 v-shapes on one half of the tortilla  
  3. Fold the tortilla in half  
  4. Cook in the microwave for 30 seconds
  5. Remove from microwave and press the folded tortilla with a fork to spread the cheese around  
  6. Using a pizza cutter, cut the quesadilla into three pieces.  

You can also add shredded chicken or beef before cooking if you’d like. Top with salsa, sour cream and guacamole if desired. Serve fruit as a side dish or dessert.

Above all, have fun with your kids as you coach them in the kitchen. Don’t fret over spills, messes, and failed attempts. It’s all part of the learning process. Encourage without criticism. Laugh instead of getting frustrated. Keep a good sense of humor. If you do, you’ll have fond memories of this time spent with your kids, and they’ll be able to make a few meals for themselves when you aren’t available to do it for them. But more importantly, they’ll have special memories of happy times spent in the kitchen with you!

Do you have an easy recipe you can share with us? How about a favorite kids cookbook? I can’t wait to hear from you!

What’s the Magic Word?

When I was growing up, there was only one answer to the question, “What’s the magic word?” It wasn’t Abracadabra. I’m guessing it was the same at your house, too. “Please!” That magic word was invariably followed up with the required phrase, “Thank you.”

Please and thank you have been staples of our vocabulary for generations. Good manners weren’t a luxury, they were a necessity. But lately they’re becoming a bit scarce, replaced by rudeness and a me-first mentality.

You may be thinking, that’s not the case in our home. My children (or grandchildren) have been taught to say please and thank you. That’s probably true when they’re with you, but what about when you’re not around? Are good manners part of their DNA, or are their responses something they parrot back because it’s expected?

Do good manners carry through in their behavior when they think you’re not looking? I taught a Bible class last week that included Acts 22:12-23, in which the apostle Paul’s nephew overhears a plot to kill Paul. Another example that children are often paying attention when we least expect it! Remember the adage, “Little pitchers have big ears”?

It’s been said children learn best when the lesson is caught instead of taught. Let’s face it, remembering what we’ve been taught often takes intentionality – we force ourselves to remember, to memorize, to practice. But when we’re exposed to behavior over a long period of time, or when we observe something that piques our interest, well, that’s another story. Think about it. We don’t say, “Learn the vision,” we say, “Catch the vision.” It’s not, “Learn the excitement,” it’s “Catch the excitement.”

So how can we help children catch the importance of good manners? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Model good manners in interactions with your family. Do you say please and thank you when you ask your child to do something? Do you extend the same courtesies to your spouse?
  2. Practice kindness and good manners with strangers. Do you hold the door open for the person behind you at the supermarket? Do you graciously allow the other driver to take the open parking space? What about when you’re on the phone trying to resolve a customer service issue? Are you modeling that it’s okay to be rude if you haven’t been treated the way you deserve?
  3. Model good manners and kindness as you respond to current events or discuss the political process. Let your children “catch” the truth that political views are not exempt from good manners!
  4. Show that kindness and graciousness aren’t just qualities we need, they are attributes of God.

“The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love”
(Psalm 145:8).

   “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us”
(Titus 3:4-5a).

And since God wants us to grow more like Him each day, that’s something to get excited about!

Prayer Garden

What does it mean to young children when they hear adults say, “Our prayers have been answered”? I can hear it now. The conversation might sound like this:

“When we pray,” you say, “we are talking to God.”

“When you pray,” your child asks, “does God answer out loud?”

Young children interpret everything literally. Their senses—what they see, hear, smell, taste or touch–help them understand more clearly and remember longer.

What can you do to help your young child begin to understand the concept of answered prayer? How can you make it more part of your child’s experience, easier to grasp?

Prayers aren’t often answered in a flash, in a twinkling of an eye. It usually takes longer  to see an answer, more like the time it takes a plant to grow. If you and your child check a plant’s daily growth, your child will think it’s taking forever, but the child will be able to identify the stages of growing–getting taller, leafing, budding, and blossoming. Your child will know that something good is happening.

To help connect the idea of your prayers for Nana to an answer, you need a visual aid. Help your child create aPrayerGarden. Here’s how:

1. Hang a strip of paper from near the floor to as high as you want it to be. With crayons, magic markers, etc. draw soil at the bottom of the paper. (NOTE: If this is a private matter of prayer, hang it in a private place.)

2. Cut flowers from colorful paper. Tulip shapes with writing space work well.

3. When, for example, Nana has a prayer concern, help your child to write Nana’s name, the date and details of her concern on a paper flower.

4. Using masking tape, stick Nana’s prayer flower to the paper, near the floor. Draw a stem for the flower.

5. With your child, pray for Nana. Check regularly on her condition.

6. As Nana’s condition improves, i.e. an emergency situation is reversed, health begins to return, she is released from hospital, comes home, can have visitors, goes back to church, shops at the store again, each time you receive such a report, thank God and move Nana’s prayer blossom farther up the wall and lengthen the stem. The flower seems to grow, and your child begins to see the connection between your prayers and Nana’s progress toward becoming well. The prayer flower’s moving up on the paper is a visual reminder to pray, a visual comfort, a gradual realization for your child that Nana is getting better.

So, at last, when Nana is well and comes for a visit, encourage your child to show her the PrayerGarden, the picture of her progress during your prayer times for her. It might well be that, on this day, your child will be the one to say, “Yea! Our prayers have been answered.”


Icky, Sticky, Hairy Scary Bible Stories by Jonathan Schkade

■Title: Icky, Sticky, Hairy Scary Bible Stories
■Author: Jonathan Schkade
■Illustrator: Tuesday Mourning
■ISBN: 978-0758626714
■SRP: $14.99
■Reviewed By: Cheryl Malandrinos

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)

The fact is: not all the stories in the Bible are nice. Some are scary. Some are messy. Some involve hairy guys or guys without any hair. In this zany and fun poetry collection, children learn all about God’s love and how He is willing to do anything to “lift us up and set us free.”

I’ve probably been teaching Sunday school for close to twenty years now. I can’t say I’m always the most entertaining or inventive teacher, but I know the kids are learning. The group I have at church now runs from ages five to thirteen. The challenge is in putting together lessons that span these ages. And honestly, teaching the same stories the same way over and again isn’t that fun.

Icky, Sticky, Hairy Scary Bible Stories by Jonathan Schkade has helped me share more of the Bible with my students than ever before. From Jonah and the whale to demon pigs falling off cliffs, from the healing of Naaman to Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, from Hezekiah’s plea for God to stop the attack of Sennacherib’s army to the truth in the Book of Revelation and more, these simple and funny rhymes not only engage youngsters, they help kids remember what they learned. Complemented by the wacky artwork of Tuesday Mourning, I find myself using this book time and again to share God’s Word.

Why do I know this works? Because months after reading, “Baldy, the Boys and the Bears,” my students can still tell me the details of Elisha cursing the forty-two boys for mocking him. They can still tell me the story of Esau and Jacob, because “A Hairy Scary Man” made it fun to learn. They also recall the death of John the Baptist, as told in, “Head on A Plate.” Starting off Sunday school lessons with fun allows us to have more meaningful discussions that all the children can participate in.

I purchased a copy of this book to use for our church’s Sunday school program. I received no monetary compensation for this review.