Archive |

Valentine’s Day Crafts for Kids

< 1 minute read

Love is in the air, and this year why not go beyond the dinner and chocolates with your special Valentine? Get the whole family involved! Whether or not your kids enjoy the lovey-dovey stuff, they’ll always have some fun with Valentine’s Day crafts and games.

We’ve put together a list of ideas that kids of all ages will love.

You can find most of the supplies for these crafts and games just around your house too!

And after you burn all of those extra calories you can even sneak a few pieces of that yummy Valentine’s Day chocolate.

Let’s make Valentine’s Day awesome for everybody!

Babies and Toddlers Crafts:

I Love You Handprint Art
● Footprint crafts
● Handprint Bouquet
Games/ Sensory Activities:
● Touch and Feel Hearts
● Shake it Up Hearts
● Valentine Sensory Play

Preschool and Kindergarten Valentine’s Day Crafts:

● Love Bug Name Caterpillar
● Silly Heart Puppets
Pipe Cleaner Hearts
Games/ Activities:
● Valentine Discovery Bottles
● Stacking Hearts Game
● Pin the Kiss on the Frog

Elementary Valentine’s Day Crafts:

● Handprint Heart Frame
● Heart Mosaic
● Symmetric Hearts
Games/ Activities:
● Heart Viscosity
● Musical Hearts
● Valentine’s Bingo

Middle School Valentine’s Day Crafts:

● String Heart Cards
● Emoji Valentines
● Geometric Hearts
Games/ Activities:
● Music and Rhythm Game
● Valentine Science Experiments
● Minute to Win It Valentine Games

Wellness |

Why You Need More Sleep in the Winter

2 minute read

As the new year moves along and the days get colder, it can be harder and harder to get out of bed in the morning. Thankfully, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. More sleep is natural in the wintertime, according to the National Sleep Foundation. The normal range is an extra 1.75 to 2.5 hours per night. The key thing is to limit your sleep to between 7-10 hours per night (for healthy adults). Any more than that can be a symptom of depression, illness, or other underlying issue.

Why You’re Tired

  • Less Sunlight: Your body produces more melatonin when you see less sunlight, which can make you more sleepy than normal.
  • Colder Temperatures: Exposure to cold temperatures has been shown to increase metabolism, requiring more sustenance and sleep. Plus, indoor heating can dry out mucus membranes and increase your chances of getting sick, which then requires more sleep for healing.
  • Change in Exercise or Eating Habits: Fresh produce is less available in the winter months, and you may find yourself turning to refined grains and sugars. It’s also more difficult to exercise and spend time outdoors with the cold weather. These changes to your diet and fitness can lower your energy levels and make you tired more often.

Benefits of Sleep in the Wintertime

Remember, there’s nothing wrong with getting more sleep in the winter. Just keep it between 7-10 hours per night, and you’ll enjoy these benefits and more:

  • Fight Illness
  • Regulate Appetite and Weight
  • Help Counter the Winter Blues

Getting Restful Sleep

More sleep is a good thing only if it’s quality, restful sleep. Here are some ways to make sure you’re getting the most out of your sleeping hours:

  • Maintain consistent bedtime and waking time
  • Keep the heat a bit lower in your bedroom (66-68°F)
  • Spend time outdoors and exercise regularly (Tire yourself out during the day so you can get to sleep at night. Makes sense!)
  • Regulate humidity levels with a humidifier or dehumidifier. The optimal relative humidity is 30-50%
  • Avoid distractions like a cell phone next to the bed or a TV in the bedroom

National Sleep Foundation:
National Institutes of Health:

Healthy Air | Wellness |

Himalayan Salt Lamps and Air Quality

2 minute read

Do salt lamps really work? Himalayan salt lamps have grown in popularity in the United States in recent years. They are often marketed as natural air purifiers that can also help with respiratory issues, mood, and sleep.

Salt has been used in treating ailments for centuries, especially in “halotherapy”, which involves breathing in salt-rich air.

Few scientific studies have been done on the subject of in-home salt lamps, but research into some of the claims made by salt lamp producers has been mixed.

Here’s an overview of the reported benefits and some studies that have looked at the claims associated with Himalayan salt lamps. This information can be helpful to consider when thinking about adding a salt lamp to your home.

How Do They Work?

When heated, salt is a natural ionizer. It changes the electrical charge of the air around it. Other natural ionizers include waterfalls, waves, and storms, though these produce much larger numbers of negative ions than salt lamps can.

The idea is that as salt blocks are heated, they release negative ions into the air, which “attract particles of pollution and give them a negative charge, making them seek an electrical ground and causing them to fall harmlessly to the floor.”¹

Salt is also naturally hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs water molecules from the air. Some salt lamp producers claim that the water molecules that are trapped by the salt block contain harmful impurities that are then removed from the air.²

Benefits and Evidence

Air Purification

The claims about benefits for people with respiratory issues, like asthma, probably come from the use of halotherapy, which has been shown to improve respiratory health in some cases

However, the concentrations of salt used in halotherapy are much greater than those found in common salt lamps. And no studies have focused directly on Himalayan salt lamps and respiratory health.

Other claims about removing impurities from the air are based on hygroscopy, which is a known process. But it’s unclear if common salt lamps are capable of removing significant amounts of contaminants like dust, pollen, smoke, and mold from the air.


Research has shown that people report improved feelings after exposure to large concentrations of negative ions.

It’s unclear how many negative ions salt lamps can produce when heated by a light bulb, and if those levels of concentration would compare to what was shown in the study.

Beyond negative ions, salt lamps look nice in a room and can make it feel cozier. This can help improve your mood, and make your environment more relaxing for others.

Bottom line, the Himlayan salt lamps can add a calming presence to any room in your home.


At this time, there have been no studies that analyze the effects of salt lamps on quality of sleep. And there is no known association between higher levels of negative ions and better sleep.4

However, the lamp’s warm, inviting glow is a great alternative to glaring overhead lights as you wind down at the end of the day. And this may help you fall asleep faster.


Salt lamps are not a proven method for air purification, but can improve mood and make it easier to sleep.

Salt lamps have not been adequately tested. But their potential to improve your mood and the comfort of a your home environment can make them beneficial for you and your family.5


1 Solay Wellness, Inc.:

2 Mind Body Green Lifestyle:

3 Journal of Medicine and Life:

4 BMC Psychiatry:

5 Harvard Health Publishing:

Live Science:

Ask Nurse Kate: Managing Winter Allergies

Healthy Air | Wellness |

Ask Nurse Kate: How to Overcome Winter Allergies

3 minute read

Most people associate allergies with the summer heat or the blustery days of fall. But for many of us, wintertime can cause a sore throat, itchy eyes, and other allergy concerns.

The good thing is, there are plenty of ways to manage and overcome winter allergies. We asked Nurse Kate some questions on the topic, and we hope her expertise can help guide you to a happy, healthy winter.

Question #1: Every year I’m fine in the summer and fall, but when winter rolls around I start sneezing and I end up with a sore throat. What could be causing my allergies in the winter?

When the cold weather rolls around, we inevitably spend more time indoors. While this tendency helps us to stay warm and cozy, it also causes us to be exposed to more indoor allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, and molds.

Question #2: It’s annoying, but I’ve just accepted that I’m going to get sick at some point during the winter. How do I tell if my symptoms are from allergies, cold, or flu?

Good question! Cold and flu symptoms tend to be short lived, lasting only a few weeks. Allergies, on the other hand, tend to last longer.  Sneezing and itchy, watery eyes often accompany allergies as well. The National Institute of Health has a great chart to help you determine if allergies, a cold, or the flu might be causing your symptoms.  If you think you might have a cold or the flu and aren’t sure what type of treatment you need, or feel you aren’t getting any better, be sure to contact your local healthcare provider for more assistance.

Question #3: I seem to sneeze whenever the furnace turns on in my house. What’s going on with that?

When the furnace turns on, air begins to circulate around the house, which kicks up those common allergens. If you are prone to allergies, you might find yourself sneezing more when this happens. A few ways to combat this issue is to dust and vacuum your home on a regular basis. Then check to make sure your furnace’s filter is rated to filter out common allergens.

Question #4: We don’t like to keep our dog outside when it gets really cold, so he spends most of the winter inside with us. Is that alright?

Of course! Our furry friends are prone to getting frostbite and hypothermia in cold weather just like us. It’s great that you are bringing your dog inside. The Humane Society has a great article on ways to protect your pets during winter months. If you find that your allergies are acting up since bringing your dog indoors, try some of the techniques described above.

Question #5: When I try to work out inside, it can be hard for me to breathe. How can I fix that, and when is it safe to exercise outdoors in the winter?

If you are having a hard time breathing at any point during exercise, stop what you are doing. Take a moment to catch your breath. If you are still struggling to breath after stopping the exercise, seek emergency medical attention immediately. If you catch your breath after stopping the exercise, consult with your doctor for further evaluation. He or she will be able to help you determine what might be causing your symptoms.

After coming up with a treatment plan, your doctor may give you the green light to exercise outdoors. This can be especially refreshing during the winter months, when we are otherwise cooped up inside. If you aren’t sure when it is safe to exercise outdoors during the winter, the Mayo Clinic offers excellent guidelines for keeping yourself safe and healthy when pursuing wintertime fitness.


The information contained on the Aprilaire website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment in any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition. All content is for informational and educational purposes only and any use thereof is solely at your own risk.

Handling the Winter Blues

Healthy Humidity | Wellness |

Healthy Ways to Handle the Winter Blues

2 minute read

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s associated with the changing of the seasons. It can happen any time of year, but here we’re focusing on wintertime SAD (aka the winter blues).

With colder temperatures and less sunlight, it’s natural to feel different in the wintertime. But there are ways you can overcome the negative feelings that are caused by your environment.

Strategies for Dealing with SAD

Let’s look at some steps to take if you’re not feeling like yourself when winter comes around.

Light Therapy

A lack of sunlight is a major contributor to SAD. Adding more light to your day seems like a smart option. Light therapy has been used for decades, and it typically takes the form of sitting in front of an artificial light each day. For more information on the specifics of this method, check out the Mayo Clinic’s guide to light therapy.


Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that attempts to treat SAD by modifying dysfunctional emotions, behaviors, and thoughts. One of its goals is to identify negative thoughts and replace them with more positive thoughts. Whether that means having a more positive attitude towards getting outside in the winter, or discovering new activities to do indoors, being intentional about finding ways to feel better can be a major help. Here’s more information on cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Create a Comfortable Environment

When you go outside, it’s cold and raining or snowing. Your heating systems dries our your air. It can feel like you can’t get comfortable anywhere.

One way to make your home or apartment more inviting is to be aware of humidity levels. The ideal range is between 30-50%, and it can help with overcoming illness and preventing dry skin. You can find more specifics with our guide to humidity.

Find a Sleep Schedule That Works

Reduced sunlight can impact your sleep cycle, making you constantly tired or unwilling to get out of bed. Don’t worry if you are getting closer to 8-9 hours of sleep. What’s important is to find a sleep schedule that works for you and to stick to it. More and better sleep can help you fight illness and provide stability during the winter months.


  • The National Institute of Mental Health
  • The Mayo Clinic
  • Psychology Today

Note: The information contained on the Aprilaire website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment in any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition. All content is for informational and educational purposes only and any use thereof is solely at your own risk. If you’re experiencing symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder or any other negative emotions, please contact a mental health professional.

Healthy Home |

The Best Indoor Plants for Winter

2 minute read

Ready to hunker down for the winter? Don’t forget about those green members of your household. Indoor plants are perfect for wintertime. They help freshen up the stuffy air, bring some color to your surroundings, and studies show that they can improve your mood, which is especially relevant during the dreary winter months.

When deciding what indoor plants are right for your home, consider a few things:

1. Find something that’s hardy and able to make it through colder months without much sunlight
2. Choose plant types that are safe and non-toxic for pets and children
3. Don’t be scared of plants that need a little pruning or managing. Having something to care for is a great way to beat the winter blues!

Top Indoor Plants for Winter

Spider Plant

This probably won’t be the only spider you see in your house this winter, but it’s definitely the least creepy.

It requires only moderate amounts of water and indirect sunlight, so it has a good chance at making it through the winter.

Plus, it’s non-toxic! A good thing, since kids and pets may be intrigued by the unique look and feel.


Wouldn’t it be nice to breathe in the soothing smells of lavender all winter long?

Buy several pre-potted lavender plants and place them throughout your house. They don’t want much water in the winter, so not much care is needed. Just put them in a porous pot material like clay to avoid damp soil and root rot.

Palm Tree

If you dream of your snowbird future, spending the cold months in the sunny tropics, this is the plant for you.

Try out a pygmy date palm or bamboo palm. They do require some pruning as they grow, but that’s the perfect project for staying active indoors all winter long. Also, keep them in warm areas of the home, not too close to drafty windows.


So you’re more into Arizona than Florida, that’s ok. Plant the seed for your future free from blustery winds and snowy sidewalks with a few cacti around the house.

There are so many varieties available, and most require very little water and maintenance. Try out a mini cactus in a terrarium to keep away curious fingers and snouts.

Rubber Plant

Nothing bounces back quite like a rubber plant.

These hardy plants keep their large green leaves without much water and marginal sunlight. Give them a little water when the soil gets dry, and they’ll be alright throughout the winter and ready to thrive when summer arrives.

In the warm summer months, rubber plants can grow quite tall. You may need to trim them to keep them manageable, and that gives you a great opportunity to propagate the rubber tree for sharing with family and friends. It can be simple to do and makes for a great winter activity.

Archive |

2019 New Year’s Resolutions: Achieve a Healthier Home

2 minute read

It’s the same thing every year: you set goals to eat better, get more exercise, maybe even get more sleep. You want a healthier you. But what if you could do something for 2019 that improves your health and the health of your family? Make 2019 the year for a Healthy Home!

Healthy Home Resolutions for 2019
The air quality in your home—the place you spend more time than anywhere else—is a major factor when it comes to your overall health.

So for a healthier home and a healthier you in the New Year, here are five picks for Healthy Home Resolutions:

1. Clear the clutter
This isn’t something that can happen overnight, but resolving to clear out a different room every month is a great way to make this goal a reality.

Start with the most-used room in your house and work from there. Whether it’s your kitchen, living room, or bedroom, rid it of anything that you don’t love or use often.

Clutter is nothing more than a dust collector and excess dust means poor indoor air quality.

2. Add some greens
This might be one of the easiest resolutions to keep because it doesn’t involve getting rid of anything.

Plants are amazing for improving indoor air quality. Adding some green plants to your home can not only help you breathe better, but it adds major style points, too.

To purify air, think one large plant for every 100 square feet in your home, or two smaller ones for the same effect.

3. Change the filters
Regularly cleaning or changing your air filters will make a huge difference for your indoor air quality.

Resolve to check your filters on the schedule that’s recommended by the manufacturer. (Aprilaire filters should be changed once a year, so with our filters, this resolution is pretty easy! )

4. Green Cleaning
Replacing your toxic, chemical-filled home cleaners with eco-friendly, non-toxic cleaning supplies will improve your air quality and save you money.

Get a group of friends together and make some of these DIY natural cleaning products.

Then you can use those products to keep your home clean throughout the year! This is a great activity to get kids involved with, and you don’t have to worry about them being exposed to harmful chemicals.

5. Invest in an air purifier
Here’s a shortcut to improved indoor air quality. Consider investing in an air purifier to help reduce airborne pollutants, allergens, odors, and more.

Having clean air in your home environment is vital to the health of your family. And air purifiers help reduce the concentration of air pollutants all year long, whether it’s allergens in the spring or stuffy heated air in the winter.

Wherever your New Year’s journey takes you, Aprilaire is here to help with Healthy Home tips and professional support so you can create a better home environment for your family. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2019!