Summer ideas from the Waldorf School of Atlanta

from our friends at Georgia CPR:

Poison Ivy: Don’t Let It Ruin Your Child’s Summer!

I remember being a kid, tromping through the woods in the glorious summer. Hide and go seek and any number of military games no longer PC were staples of childhood play in the outdoors. The green of the trees, cool breezes and the smell of fireworks on July 4th color nostalgic memories for me. And then there was always the Poison Ivy.

Bouts of Poison Ivy were a commonplace occurrence during my childhood. Several precious summers were marred with weeks of being covered with the itchy rash. I could never seem to recognize that awful plant that brought me such agony. Poison Ivy is just plain old fashioned bad. I feel itchy even writing this!

Georgia CPR teaches first aid topics in our CPR and First Aid classes, but we don’t usually cover information on Poison Ivy. I want to give you information to help you avoid Poison Ivy and treat it with the best stuff I know available on the market.

Recognizing Poison Ivy

Recognizing Poison Ivy isn’t hard once you get the hang of it. Poison Ivy, and Poison Oak look similar. Poison Ivy has pointier leaves and Poison Oak leaves are a bit more, well – dumpy. Just not as pointy. Be wary of both.

Poison Ivy can be of any color, from bright green to bright red, yellow, brownish and anywhere in between. But it’s the shape that will give it away.

Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Poison Sumac

Here’s a nice list for recognizing Poison Ivy:

  • Sets of 3 leaves
  • Leaves have large jags on them
  • Can be any color that a plant would be – (haven’t seen blue yet)
  • Any part of the plant will ruin your day!

What makes Poison Ivy “poisonous” is an irritating oil called Urushiol. It is a toxic oil that is present in live or dead Poison Ivy leaves, stems or vines. Yes, you can get Poison Ivy in the winter too. No fair.

Recognize Poison Ivy and Poison Oak and avoid touching it even with your shoes or clothing. That nasty Urushiol will get onto your clothing and will continue to give you the rash until you wash it off. Leather will hold that oil even longer, which is an unfortunate downside to leather boots.

If you or your child, or your pet comes into contact with Poison Ivy, IMMEDIATELY wash thoroughly with soap and COLD water. Warmer water opens pores leaving skin more vulnerable to Urushiol penetration and irritation. Washing with plain old soap and cold water can be really effective in stopping a bad case of poison ivy before it starts. But the treatment I recommend below works better.

Poison Ivy Treatment

In my experience with safety, I come across products that I love and then promote them. Sometimes I even sell them. Georgia CPR doesn’t sell Poison Ivy treatment, nor are we paid to endorse one. We will simply recommend a treatment that simply works.

The brand is called Tecnu. Their original product is my favorite. I would describe their product as a urushiol remover. It removes the toxin from your skin before a rash appears and in my experience, stops the rash from getting any worse once its already there.

No – I haven’t completed a scientific study. I did work for a tree service for years and we would order this product in really big bottles by the case. It works better than a charm in that it actually works.

Heres’ the basic Tecnu instructions

Before a rash appears:

  • Put the Tecnu on the area of skin that contacted poison ivy
  • Rub it vigorously for about 2 minutes – don’t forget to cover all possible exposed parts
  • Rinse it off with cool running water
  • Repeat

If you already have a Poison Ivy Rash:

  • Put the Tecnu directly onto the rash as well as on the skin around it
  • Rub for 2 minutes – which feels great – but don’t break the skin or blisters!
  • Rinse if off with cool water
  • Pat dry with a clean towel
  • If you are still itchy – repeat the process except then rinse in a very warm shower.
  • Don’t do this in a bath silly – they you would be steeping in urushiol!

If you can recognize and avoid Poison Ivy – that’s the best.

If you can’t and end up with a rash – use the Tecnu

Save that awesome summer and send the specter of poison ivy to bed without dinner!


Linden Tree Photography B. Karp 005 The article above is posted with permission from Georgia CPR.

Thoughts for Summer from the Waldorf School of Atlanta

butterfly painting


As the school year ends the children are delighted with their new freedom. Life is filled with the warm sun shining down on us all. It is as if a burden of dark and cold has been lifted. It is time to be out, to shed clothes and shoes…to really feel the earth and grass on bare feet and connect with the light of the sun and stars. It is summer. Children have all the time in the world!

We parents are delighted when our children are happy and resilient. Children are more patient, tolerant, flexible, and happy when their life flows rhythmically. Rhythm isn’t a schedule. Schedules are goal oriented. Rhythm is life oriented. It is ebb and flow, again and again and again… with little variations on the way.

Follow this recipe to create your summer rhythm: repeating days, weeks, and traditions to make the summer season full, rich, and memorable. Even those of us who work can create days and weeks that have that summer feel.

*Take a few activities you love and that make it feel like summer such as:

Rolling in the grass, riding bikes, jump rope, swinging…

Swimming, grilling, working in the garden, blowing bubbles…

Walking to the park/lake/pool/creek, natural places to wade/play/build a dam

Concert in the park, camping in the back yard, hiking, making/eating popsicles…

Camping trip, hiking, visiting Grandma and Grandpa for a week, some summer camp days


Decide if these are daily, weekly, or seasonal activities…

*Add in daily/weekly activities such as chores that need to be done, grocery shopping, laundry, food prep, cleaning house, … Your children are such capable human beings. It is healthy for them to participate in the life of the family. It can even be a disservice to a child to always have things done for them.

* Downtime to do nothing! …Find beautiful stones and four-leaf clovers, Give your children time to breathe (and yourself too)! Give them the gift of time to get “bored”. It is actually healthy for your child to not know what to do. It takes an inner strength of will to pull one’s self out of that seemingly empty place. What a gift when the creative juices start flowing! How empowering!

*Combine and Alternate

Inside time/ outside time

Loud times /quiet times

Silly times/focused times = breathing in and out…breathing is healthy!

Regular meal times!

Sleep time: Kinder children still need to get those same 10-12 hours sleep each night and a nap/quiet time in the afternoon. Even on vacations children (young and old) need rhythm and sleep… and the adults too!

So, give your children time to feel the warmth of the sun on their skin, see the dust sparkle in the sunlight, smell new mown grass, hear the insects hum as they work…and breathe your days in and out… enjoy your summertime.


~Annamay Keeney

Kindergarten Teacher


Grades 1-5:

As the summer months approach, the long days of summer seem like a dream come true. But after the first few weeks, many families struggle to find rewarding things to do with their children.  Of course there are wide range of camps available both at WSA and throughout the community but what else is there to do? Here are some fun, easy, and inexpensive ways to keep busy.

1. Become an investigative reporter – with a camera, students can take pictures of the world around them and make up stories to go with their pictures.

2. Gather up old greeting cards and create puzzles or collages.

3. Have your child make an obstacle course in the backyard and have the family take turns going through it. Who can complete the course in the fastest time?

4. Make a terrarium.

5. Find a place to volunteer with your child.

6. Invent board games

7. Explore making paper airplanes.

8. Create a sculpture with recyclable materials

9. Stargazing & story telling

10. Skip stones at the river

11. See a Shakespeare Play

12. Learn how to paddle a canoe

13. Hang and monitor a bird feeder

14. Celebrate a summer holiday (even if you make up your own)

15. Make Homemade Ice Cream!

Grades 6-8:

1. Encourage children to take on responsibility in areas of interest to them. (Volunteer at a veterinarian’s office, senior center or theatre.)

2. Physically challenge your children with activities like Outward Bound, hiking, white water rafting, rock climbing, water skiing or horseback riding.

3. Take them on an adventure with a purpose, i.e., not just a hike, but a hike to find the perfect camp site; not just a bike ride, but a bike ride to a lake for a swim.

4. Give them a job that will teach them to master a new skill (knot tying, bike repair, planning, shopping and preparing for a weekly dinner, building a camp fire, laying a stone path, tending a garden). Practical work will help them feel more competent.

5. Build a fort, shelter or tree house with your child.

6. Visit or volunteer on a farm (interactions with large animals help children learn how to adapt to another being’s needs).

7. Allow time for boredom. Let your child arrive at their own ideas for an activity, using imagination and initiative.

Often children have issues with focus and persistence in the face of obstacles. Encourage your child with activities such as these to help build their will, patience, motor skills, and sense of discipline.


This article originally appeared in the June 2011 issue of the Garden Breeze Newsletter of the Waldorf School of Atlanta.

bench and flower pot