Thursday, November 16, 2017

FREE Great Start Community Fair December 1st

The Holidays are right around the corner and Great Start Families are excited to help you celebrate with a family friendly craft night!

Our friends at Family Services and Children's Aid, Child Care Network, Community Action Agency, Integro, Center for Family Health and Kevin...one of our very own Great Start parents are all planning and supplying a fun craft for our kiddos. Parents and caregivers will assist their kids at each craft station for some family fun. 

Kids and families will be entertained by a Balloon Animal entertainer, enjoy "Story Corner" with Jackson District Library reading holiday books and Santa himself will stop by to visit the kids with a small gift for each of them.

The fun is from 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm at the Immanuel Lutheran Church at 1505 W. Michigan Ave.  At 4:30 pm we will bring out a pasta dinner complete with salad and bread sticks for families who attend. 

It's important to register for the event by Wednesday, November 29th so we can plan for plenty of craft supplies and enough food for everyone.

The event, craft supplies and dinner are absolutely free and when you register you will be entered in a drawing for Meijer gift cards and other nice prizes.  Please register by calling or texting Jennifer Ganzel, Parent Liaison at (517)745-9544 or emailing greatstart.parents@jcisd.org with number of adults and number of children (with ages) who will be attending.

Join family, neighbors and friends and strengthen family bonds while creating festive holiday crafts and celebrating the spirit of the season! 






Monday, November 13, 2017

Holiday Baking with Children

We are about to embark on the busiest time of the year for cooking and baking.  Include the children!  It may take a bit of flexibility and patience, but including your little one in the kitchen reaps several benefits.  By allowing your child to do simple tasks such as counting eggs, pouring water into a measuring cup, setting the timer, or together reading the ingredients on a recipe, your child will be practicing basic math and reading skills.  In addition, they will be building self-confidence; children love to show what they can do and creating something in the kitchen will give them a sense of accomplishment.  Most importantly, time in the kitchen is time spent with you, further strengthening your special, family bond.


Here are a few tips to get you started:

Don't plan an elaborate project.  Young children have short attention spans, so plan for 5 to 10 minutes.  Start small and keep it fun!

As kids grow, they will develop more skills.  Grow with them and enlist them for bigger jobs, like measuring ingredients into specific measuring cups and spoons, beating eggs, or mashing potatoes.

Just remember, always be in the kitchen with your child to monitor their progress and to keep them safe.


Here is a simple recipe that also makes a great gift!



Peppermint Spoons

You will need:

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 candy cane
12 plastic spoons, colored or clear
Colored plastic wrap
Holiday ribbon


  1. Put candy cane in sandwich bag and crush with a rolling pin.
  2. Melt chocolate in microwave on low, stirring every 20 seconds.
  3. Dip spoons in chocolate.
  4. Sprinkle with crushed candy.
  5. Place on waxed paper to cool.
  6. Wrap with plastic wrap and tie with ribbons for gifts.

Have fun and Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Priceless Gift Toy Store



The holidays are upon us and once again the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and Together We Can Make a Difference are partnering to offer the Priceless Gift Toy Store.  In order to help over 4,000 children this Christmas season, donations for gently used and clean toys are being requested now through December 15th.  In addition, personal hygiene items such as shampoo, deodorant, soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes, batteries of all varieties, zip-lock bags of all sizes, and cleaning wipes are requested.  If you have donations or time to volunteer to cleaning, organizing, or preparing for the opening of the Toy Store, stop by between 10 am and 3 pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from now until December 15th.  Lunch will be provided for volunteers.

Please note the new location: 

 Bethany's Gym, 1000 East Porter Street, Jackson MI 49202

The Store offers parents, grandparents, and caregivers who are experiencing hardship the opportunity to "shop" for children - items are in fact, free. Organized by age range and then sectioned into items for boys, items for girls, stocking stuffers, winter wear, and much more, all waiting for families to take home and wrap.  The Priceless Gift Toy Store, now in it's 12th year carries one mission: making sure no Christmas tree goes presentless.  

If you would like to visit the Priceless Gift Toy Store, doors open on November 25th at 10 am and will run through December 15th.

To learn more, please visit the Society of St. Vincent de Paul website. 


Thursday, November 9, 2017

CDC Milestone Tracker App

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has launched CDC'S Milestone Tracker, a free app for tracking children's development. The app gives parents a way to track developmental milestones and recognize delays that can be shared with healthcare providers.

This new app offers:

  • Milestone checklists for children 2 months to 5 years old.
  • Learning tips and activities
  • Information on when to speak to a doctor about developmental delays
  • Milestone summary that can be easily shared with healthcare providers
  • Appointment and developmental screening reminders
The app is available in the App Store and Google Play. To download the app or learn more about the app visit the CDC's website.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Holiday Crafts

Crafting with 0-5 year olds can be tricky sometimes, since there is such a wide range of ages to accommodate.  One thing that all of the children at playgroups have in common is that they all love to do the craft!  Typically at playgroups, I plan one or two crafts for the month and then the same craft is available at all of the sites throughout the month.  Personally, I love the months of October - December because of all of the holiday's!  Here are a few of the crafts from the past 2 months.  I will share our Christmas craft next month.


The Halloween craft was made from popsicle sticks, which the children were able to glue together to make the fence.  The pumpkins are foam peel and stick stickers, which the older kids can do completely on their own, while younger children may need some help peeling the backing off but then are able to stick them down where they would like.  I wrote the poem in with a sharpie.  This part would need adult help with our age group.

The Thanksgiving crafts started by tracing your hand on a piece of construction paper.  The older children are able to do this themselves, while younger children need some assistance.  We then put glue all over the inside of our hand and sticking feathers to it.  We glued a googley eye on and drew in the waddle.  This is a great craft for 0-5 year olds because older kids can do most of this on their own and younger children and their adult can do it together.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Michigan Department of Education needs your feedback

We have always known parent voice is an important contribution to programs and policy created for children and families.  The Michigan Department of Education realizes parents and caregivers are partners in their child's education and is working on an online Transparency Dashboard created especially for them.

Parents and other caregivers of children from preschool through grade 12 are invited to provide feedback on Michigan’s new, online “transparency dashboard”  designed to show the performance of every public school in Michigan, including public school academies. The dashboard is currently under development by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE). It is expected to be made available to the public by early 2018. 
The new dashboard will report on more than 20 different factors—or measures—that parents and other stakeholders have said are important to them when evaluating the quality of a school. The survey allows participants to view components of the new dashboard, then answer questions about the way information is presented, the usefulness of certain features, and viewers’ unique interests. The Michigan Department of Education will use survey feedback to help shape the current and future versions of the dashboard so that it is helpful to parents in every community.
  • The survey can be completed on any computer, tablet, or mobile device.
  • The survey should take no more than 15 minutes to complete.
  • All answers will be confidential.
  • Survey must be completed by November 15, 2017.

Thank you for your time and sharing your opinion.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Ages and Stages Social Emotional Health Screening



The ASQ:SE 2 provides a quick check of children’s social emotional development. The ASQ:SE 2 screens self-regulation, compliance, adaptive functioning, autonomy, affect, social-communication, and interaction with people. Children from 1-72 months can be screened with the ASQ:SE 2.

20% of children in the United States have an untreated diagnosable mental health problem. Signals for interventions can be seen in behaviors in infancy. Unresolved problems compound as children advance in the stages of social emotional development.


The Great Start Collaborative has made the Ages and Stages: Social Emotional 2 available through the Jackson County Health Department for Jackson County children up to 6 years old. Caregivers can complete the free screening online here.