Discussing the Solar Eclipse in the Early Years

Americans last saw a total solar eclipse two decades ago. This Monday, on August 21, 2017, we will be able to see a solar eclipse for the first time in decades. This is also the first solar eclipse to move from coast to coast since 1918.

The eclipse is an ideal time to engage your child about the solar system and inspire awe in our universe. The eclipse will occur between 11:46 – 2:45 PM Central. The maximum eclipse is visible around 1:16 PM  Central.  In Houston, at 1:16 PM, we will be able to see a Partial Solar Eclipse. This is not the same as the total solar eclipse, which will be seen across 14 other states.

Below are our favorite resources to help guide a conversation with your child about the eclipse:

  • Explaining the Eclipse

We recommend discussing an eclipse with children who understand that (1) the earth is a planet composed of land and water (2) a moon revolves around the earth and (3) a shadow is formed when an object blocks light. Here are some fun songs and visuals to guide your discussion of the eclipse:

From 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM, enjoy the Solar Eclipse Viewing Party at the Children’s Museum of Houston.  Children can take part in various museum activities, including a “Pinhole Viewer Workshop” ($5.00) and enjoy special activities exploring the solar system.

Watch the solar eclipse from the comfort of your own home (without the special glasses!).

Safety first. Don’t forget to use special glasses when viewing the eclipse. Don’t have the glasses? No worries! Make some!

Never photograph the eclipse when the Moon is directly covering the sun without safety precautions.

The Burke Baker Planetarium will offer a special schedule featuring six 15 minute shows about the eclipse. These will run at 12:00, 12:20, 12:40, 1:00, 1:20, and 1:40, and tickets will be $4. The 2:00 show is a special Starry Night Express featuring a live feed from Casper, Wyoming, with Museum staff in the path of totality.

Photo © NASA

Q&A with H-E-B’s Marti Owens

It’s hard to ignore the link between early childhood education and good eating.  A full tummy makes a difference in school performance, learning outcomes, and child development.  In 2016, parents at Montessori Preschool @ Copperfield came together to launch the Yummy in my Tummy cookbook to showcase diverse recipes from across the Cy-Fair community and inspire better eating habits at home and in school.

To continue the conversation, we invited our neighborhood H-E-B to share resources and their thoughts on how to make nutrition more accessible for children – and easy to understand for parents.  And frankly, just more fun!

Marti Owens

Marti Owens, H-E-B Area Community Coordinator

Our Director of Innovation and Global Strategy, Kevin Kalra, spoke with H-E-B’s Area Community Coordinator, Marti Owens, to understand her thoughts on good nutrition and ask about her favorite recipe:

1.  What can parents do to learn more about good nutrition?

I would start with two proactive yet simple steps.

  • Choose My Plate as a great way to manage nutrition.  The plate visual is great with any age but especially children.

  • Take the “Vegetables First” Pledge.  It simply means that you’ll eat your vegetables before anything else.  I just started doing this and I find I can stick to my portions because the veggies have already started filling me up!  March was “Veg Out” Month.  I know March is over but you can “Veg Out” anytime!

2.  How is nutrition linked to early education?  Why is it important?

I asked our H-E-B Houston Registered Dietitian, Rita Zapien, MS RD LD CDE, to help me answer this question.  She’s answered below and given more wonderful resources:

“How your child eats today will have a profound impact on his/her health now and throughout adolescence and adulthood.  Consuming nutritious foods provides the energy required for proper growth and development, enables children to do well academically and to feel good about themselves.”

“Visit our Pharmacy and Health tab at www.heb.com for an abundance of resources on improving your family’s nutrition.  In addition to our online recipes, our H-E-B app enables you to do an advanced search of our Quick Recipe Finder.  You can find recipes by nutrition, diet, cooking method and source as well.”

Check out these additional resources:

3.  What are ways to make a trip to the grocery store both fun and informative for children?

The more you include your child, the more you’ll both enjoy it.  I know you’re in a hurry to get the grocery shopping done, however, it doesn’t take much to enjoy the time you are spending together.  Maybe you could have your child help with planning and shopping for their lunch box (click here for our Healthy Lunch Box handout) or have them do a scavenger hunt (see H-E-B Scavenger Hunt worksheet).  I still enjoy shopping with my boys when they have time for me – they’re 27 and 24!

4.  Could you share a favorite home recipe?

I’d love to share.  I call them tacos but it’s really a burrito.  Here’s the recipe and I am very specific on some of the ingredients including brand.  I use H-E-B brand because the quality is national brand yet more economical.  Check it out for yourself!

  • 1 lb. H-E-B Ground Sirloin 90-10 (I use the chub package but you can use fresh ground)
  • 1 can Fat Free Refried Pinto Beans
  • H-E-B 30% Less Sodium Taco Mix
  • 3/4 cup Water
  • Mexican Blend Cheese
  • H-E-B Bake Shop 100% Whole Wheat Tortillas

Follow instructions on taco mix package.  Add and mix in the refried beans.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and place parchment paper on a cooking sheet.  Put the meat/bean mixture in a tortilla, cover with cheese, roll up and bake for at least 5 minutes.  You can bake a few minutes longer if you like your tortillas crispier.

You’ll need to eat your veggies first – maybe a salad.  I love to put guacamole all over my taco/burrito and pop cherry tomatoes in-between bites!

Download the Yummy in my Tummy Cookbook.

Featured Photo © 2015 Community Impact Newspaper

Starting Early on Fire Safety

October is Fire Safety Month, and our local Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department visited Montessori Preschool @ Copperfield to speak with our students about fire safety and preparedness.

Fire safety starts an early age.  It’s never too late to speak with your child about fire safety and introduce her to family meeting points, escape routes, and emergency phone numbers.  Below are five tips we learned to help parents improve fire safety at home:

1. Identify a meeting point and share it with your child.  A meeting point is a local landmark where your family can congregate in case of an emergency. Choose a location that can be easily found and is familiar to your child.  Show them the location in person and on a map.

2. Stop, Drop, and Roll.  Always remember to cover your face, stop, drop and roll if your clothes catch on fire.  Act it out with your child, like in the video below:


3. Explore Fire Safety. Sometimes, a fireman’s gear and special clothing can look scary to a child. Let your child see photos and videos of a fireman, so they can be familiar with a fireman’s gear. Complement your lesson with a visit to the local fire department, and encourage your child to use sight and touch to describe a fireman’s gear. Also, let your child listen to the sound of the Fire Alarm and instruct them what to do if they hear it.




4. Put away the matches and lighters.  Encourage your child to report matches or lighters to an adult or teacher.

5. Fire safety is not just limited to October. Fire safety and prevention is a year-round lesson. Remind your child about what they’ve learned throughout the year.

Be sure to contact your local fire department to learn more.  Also, visit our amazing Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department on Facebook and Twitter feeds for key updates.

Check out photos from the Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department Visit: