ERS News You Can Use

Environment Rating Scale info. and tips - April 2014

Tomatoes in Children's Gardens

According to “Toxic Plants of North America” (Iowa State University Press, 2001), by George E. Burrows and Ronald J. Tyrl, “A toxic dose of tomatine for an adult human would appear to require at least a pound of tomato leaves. These authors conclude that “the hazard in most situations is low.”

According to Wikipedia, "Leaves, stems, and green unripe fruit of the tomato plant contain small amounts of the toxic alkaloid tomatine. They also contain solanine, a toxic alkaloid found in potato leaves and other plants in the nightshade family…. However, levels of tomatine in foliage and green fruit are generally too small to be dangerous unless large amounts are consumed, for example, as greens.”

Therefore, as with any children’s garden caution should be used when choosing plants for the garden. Plants such as tomatoes should be well supervised with young children to avoid ingestion. Staff should be made aware of the toxicity of tomatoes so they can monitor the children and teach children safety rules in the garden, such as "not to eat anything without asking permission".

25 Ways To Promote Creativity With School-Age Children

When children reach school-age years they are eager learners, naturally imaginative and creative. Moreover, school-age children learn by doing as they interact with their peers and explore the materials in their environment. This is why it is vital that you promote creativity in your program in the following ways:

1. Provide open-ended materials that children can do many things with such as: felt, fabric, yarn, card board boxes, etc.

2. Arrange the environment to encourage children to explore and be messy.

3. Provide space for projects that cannot be completed in one day.

4. Allow projects to stay in place for days so that the children can expand the project.

5. Be sure to allow long blocks of time where children are free to lead their own activities without adult involvement.

6. Encourage the children to make their own plans and implement them.

7. Provide samples of creative work.

8. Store materials where children can easily choose them.

9. Allow children to explore subjects that were introduced at school or on fieldtrips.

10. Encourage children to freely express their ideas and feelings.

11. Give the children opportunities to extend younger children’s play.

12. Allow time for brainstorming.

(Look for 13 more ways to promote creativity in the June newsletter!)

Amabile, Teresa (1992) Growing Up Creative (Second Edition)

Attention - New website with great ideas!!!!!

Check out this great new website for all kinds of play based, hands-on ideas for your child care (newsletters, blog, handouts, training opportunities, and more)!!! It is written by a current, star rated child care provider in Salmon Idaho! Like them on Facebook at My Intentional Play and check the website often for new resources.


Dramatic play is pretending and making believe. Dramatic play for infants and toddlers begins with the child imitating something they have seen someone or something else do. This moves into children acting out roles themselves, practicing language skills and developing social skills. Children practice many skills in dramatic play and attempt to understand what happens in their world.

Note: Children should be free to use the materials in their own way, as part of their own make-believe play. There should be a specific place set aside for dramatic play with plenty of space and organized shelves and containers to store items.

Music/movement Items:

  • Infants: dolls, soft animals, pots and pans, toy telephones

  • Toddlers and Preschool: dress-up clothes, child-sized house furniture, cooking and eating equipment, play foods, dolls, doll furnishings, soft animals, small play buildings with accessories, toy telephones
  • School-Age: dress-up clothes, costumes, props, puppets

How many?

  • Infants: 3-5 examples on the above list of materials
  • Toddlers: 2 or more of each example on the above list of materials, with no more than 2 types missing
  • Preschool: Three or more children can use the materials at one time and there are a variety of materials to encourage complex play. Try to include examples of dress- up clothes that represent men and women (purses, high heels, ties, men's hats, etc.).
  • School-age: At least 3 of the 4 examples on the above list of materials

Above and beyond: Add and/or rotate themes other than housekeeping, such as different kinds of work, fantasy or leisure. Include props to represent diversity (ethnic play food and clothing , dolls of different races, etc.) Consider adding dramatic play materials outdoors.

Harms T., Clifford R. M., Cryer, D., (1996-2013) ITERS-R, ECERS-R, FCCERS-R and SACERS

The Child Care Health Consultant Program

Autism after Infection, Febrile Episodes, and Antibiotic Use during Pregnancy

Information on infection, fever, and use of antibiotics was self-reported in telephone interviews during pregnancy and early postpartum. Overall, researchers found little evidence that mild common infectious diseases or febrile episodes during pregnancy were associated with autism. However, study data suggest that maternal Influenza, prolonged episodes of fever and use of various antibiotics were potential risk factors for autism.

Daleen Nelson, RN, PHN, CCNC 208-338-4727

Child Care Health Consultant Program

Caring Health Professionals Supporting Safe, Healthy Child Care

ERS Website

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The IdahoSTARS Project