Posted 04-21-2016 at 08:38 PM by Jessica
Earth Day is the perfect opportunity to teach your kids about taking care of our planet. Kids that learn from an early age to respect the Earth will grow up to be adults that respect the Earth. Here are 10 super easy ways you and your family can help our planet, and a lot of them could make fun activities for Earth Day as well!
- Plant a Tree. (Make a day out of this. Have your kiddo(s) pick out a tree from a nursery to plant in your yard. While they help you plant the tree talk about how trees produce oxygen and provide homes for lots of animals.)
- Recycle. (Use a cheap garbage can, bin, or reuse a cardboard box to hold recyclables. Teach your kids about why recycling is so important as you make a designated place to toss recyclable items. Mention that items like plastic water bottles can end up being made into a park bench one day if they’re recycled!)
- Switch from buying packs of plastic water bottles and give each family member their very own reusable water bottle. Personalize the bottle with their name for an extra fun touch.
- Turn off the lights before you leave each room. (Make a game out of it! There are even fun songs you can sing about turning out the lights.)
- Clean up your trash and any other trash you see. (Grab some gloves and some bags and head to the local park to pick up trash. Turn it into a game to see who can fill up their bag the most!)
- Be nice to the bees. (Teach them about how incredibly important honey bees and bumble bees are to the Earth. Watching the Bee Movie would be an extra great way to learn!)
- Save water. (It’s as simple as turning the water off while brushing your teeth, or making sure you don’t leave the hose running outside.)
- Use both sides of the paper when coloring. (Easy enough! If kids are made aware that paper comes from trees, and trees ((like the one they planted with you outside)) need to be cut down to be turned into their paper, they may be less likely to waste pieces.)
- Reuse items for fun crafts. (The possibilities here are endless. A yogurt cup can make a fun vase for a flower, an egg carton can be painted and turned into a jewelry holder, a toilet paper roll can be transformed into a toy car…etc.)
- Go on a bike ride. (Next time you’re headed to the park (or anywhere, really!) take your bikes! It’s a great way to get some extra exercise and teach about keeping the air clean from pollution.)
There are so many easy ways to incorporate a small lesson on the importance of being kind to our planet Earth each and every day. Make this Earth day an experience that is just as enjoyable as it is educational for the whole family!
Posted 01-29-2016 at 12:27 PM by admin
Easy to make playdough for the kids! Safe and non-toxic fun for your toddler and kiddos. Hours of fun and you probably have everything in your cabinets!
1 cup All purpose flour
1/2 cup salt
1 tbsp. cooking oil
1 cup water
1 tbsp. cream of tartar
Step One: Get out a nonstick frying pan to mix and cook your ingredients in. Don’t turn the heat on yet! Add all your dry ingredients.
Step Two: Add your wet ingredients and stir until mixed well (it can remain lumpy from the flour).
Step Three: Go ahead and turn up the heat to medium or medium high. Continuously stir and adjust heat if necessary. You don’t want your dough gooey or crispy.
Step Four: When your ingredients start to form a collective dough as you mix it, turn off the heat.
Step Five: Let your play dough cool down.
Posted 12-30-2015 at 06:48 PM by Jessica
Family Friendly New Years Eve Ideas | New Years Eve With The Kids
New Years Eve is a little different once you become a parent. Who am I kidding? It’s a lot different once you have kids in the house. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a rockin’ time with the kids on New Years Eve. Below are a few ideas to get the whole family involved in ringing in the New Year!
Set the clocks forward
If you don’t want the little ones to stay up too late, plan an afternoon or early evening celebration. Set the clocks in the house so that midnight comes at their regular bedtime. They can ring in the “New Year” at any time of day, it doesn’t have to be midnight. This will allow you to spend time with your spouse or friends at midnight and you won’t have a cranky baby/toddler/child the next day!
Fun party hats and party dresses will get everyone in the mood for a fun night. Toddlers and preschool age kids would love to dress up like mom and dad do when they go out for a fun night. Fancy dresses and shoes. Play makeup and beauty salon would be fun as well.
You can’t have a party without noisemakers. These can be found at the local dollar stores, or in the party section at stores like Target and Walmart. If you can’t take all the noise, wait to pull them out until “midnight”.
Toast in the new year with sparkling cider. Let the kids cheer one another and join in on the fun.
Sparklers are always a fun addition to an evening party. With plenty of adult supervision, sparklers can help ring in the New Year!
Family Slumber Party
To make the night special, consider camping out in the living room as a family. Watch family movies, drink hot cocoa (and sparkling cider!) and make memories.
Posted 12-21-2015 at 12:39 PM by Jessica
Looking for some fun new holiday traditions that the entire family will love? Here are a few of our favorites that we look forward to each and every year:
Holiday / Christmas Caroling: Grab the kids and a wagon or stroller and hit the neighborhood singing! Invite family, friends, and neighbors to join and head out in a group. What a festive way to spend a night together!
Light-seeing: Grab a blanket, coffee, hot chocolate, and head on out for a drive around local neighborhoods to view the lights. This family tradition is one our family looks forward to every year. It’s so popular, we tend to do it twice!!
Christmas Eve PJ’s: Each year our kids receive brand new PJ’s on Christmas Eve. Each child gets their favorite character, which makes them very happy, and I’m happy because morning photos turn out amazing with fresh new PJ’s!
Cookie baking: My girls are huge fans of cookie baking during the holidays. They started helping when they were toddlers and now at the ages of 7 and 13, they still enjoy it just as much! And, I love that my teen enjoys spending time with me. Even, if it’s only once or twice a year.
Elf on the Shelf: This is not for everyone. But, if you haven’t heard of Elf on the Shelf, it may be a perfect tradition for your family. Each night since December 1st, our elf “Buddy”, makes his annual appearance. He leaves us each evening to report to Santa all the good and bad behavior in the house. When he returns, he usually gets into mischief. He has hung underwear on our tree, dumped out M&M bags, left notes, and drawn mustaches (in erasable markers) on our photos. The kids pop out of bed every morning excited to look for him. And they are always on their best behavior.
Posted 11-12-2015 at 04:40 PM by Jessica
Growing up we always had a “kids table” on Thanksgiving. Being the youngest of 9 kids, I was always at the kids table, so I consider myself an expert. I’ve learned how to make the kids table, the most fun spot in the house on Thanksgiving Day. Here are a few ideas I’d like to share:
Make your own place mat:
Have a canister of crayons in the middle of the table. have a large rectangle sheet of paper under each plate. Let the kids make their own place mat. They can decorate it with their name, make a hand turkey, and more. More ideas for decorating: stickers, stamps, markers!
I am thankful for…
Have each child write a few sentences about the items they are thankful for.
Have a hand-turkey drawing contest. Have paper and crayons available. Have the kids trace each others hands (or their own if they can) and decorate their “hand turkey”. Put names on the BACK of the turkey. Let the adults choose their favorite!
Have a few crafts on hand. Beaded necklaces with Fall colors (beware of any choking hazards for the younger kids), pilgrim hats, and more.
We always used a white paper table cloth so the kids could doodle on the table. The younger kids loved tracing their plate and utensils right onto the tablecloth.
Have small books and toys readily available to squash boredom when the kids are done eating.
Waffle cone cornucopia:
Let each child have a waffle cone. Set candy corn (with pumpkins!) in the middle of the table and let them create their very own “cornucopia”
Posted 08-3-2015 at 09:05 AM by admin
Easy arts and crafts for toddlers and preschoolers
Are you looking for easy and inexpensive crafts to do with the kids? Below are a few that our family have enjoyed over the years. They are great for toddlers and preschoolers, and a few of these are still enjoyed by my 2nd and 4th graders!
Pasta Necklaces – Pasta comes in all shapes and sizes. Wheels and tubes are two pasta shapes that make amazing necklaces (or bracelets). This teaches great motor skills and is easy for toddlers and preschool age kids.
Paint with water – Out of paint? Grab a big paint brush and bucket of water and let the kids paint the driveway with water. If you’re in Florida or other very hot states, it may evaporate before you can paint a picture, so consider doing this before the sun is at it’s hottest. Best part – no cleanup!
Finger paints – This can be messy but so much fun for the kids. As toddlers, I would put my kids in their diaper only and we’d head outside with finger paints, newspaper, construction paper, and our folding table. Cover the table with newspaper (tape it down). Set out pieces of construction paper, and let them go wild with the paint!
Rock painting – grab the paint and a few brushes and head outside to find some rocks. The kids will have a blast painting rocks and once they dry they can make great decorations in their room.
Cereal bracelets – Very similar to pasta necklaces, but much tastier. Have the kids string Cheerios or Froot Loops to make delicious necklaces and bracelets they can wear and then snack on. Fun!
Paper Bag Puppets – This is another inexpensive craft. Grab a pack of paper bags for around $2. Washable markers, yarn, glue, construction paper, child scissors, and anything else around the house that will help make faces. The kids can make multiple “puppets” and put on their own puppet show. This will work with socks as well. Sock puppets are so much fun.
Posted 07-24-2015 at 08:00 AM by admin
It’s summertime and that means it’s HOT outside. But that doesn’t mean we have to stay cooped up in the house with nothing to do. Moms and kids alike can get stir crazy being inside all day long. Below are some fun options to beat the heat this summer (with kids!):
Hit the mall: This fun outing is sure to make mom and kids happy. Many mall locations have a children’s play area. And I’ve also noticed that quite a few have a coffee shop next door to the play area. How convenient is that? Not to mention air conditioning!
Cheap Movies: Check your local theater for $1 or FREE movies during the summer for the kids (parents are free/discounted too!). If your area does not participate, consider viewing a matinee at a discounted price.
Water Play: Head outside with the kids for a water balloon toss. Or flip on the hose for a fun afternoon of water play. Fill a baby pool and splash around to cool off on a hot afternoon. If you’re in an area with a local splash pad, you’re in luck! Have a beach or lake nearby? What a great way to cool off and the kids will spend hours playing in the sand!
Morning/evening walks and bike rides: Head on out as the sun is coming up or setting. Avoid the hottest parts of the day, yet still have sunlight for safety. We take morning walks and evening bike rides as a family during the summer months to burn off some energy.
YMCA Pool: Check local listings for your community pool or YMCA. Even if you’re not a member, you can pay a small fee to utilize the pool and/or gym for some fun!
For more options, go online and find a local moms group and/or playgroup. Local play groups tend to be even more active during the summer months. Some will take turns hosting play dates at each members home, head to the movies together, visit local museums, pools, libraries, and parks as a group. The options are endless. Also, as a group, many local venues offer a discount because so many people are attending together at once. So, joining a group has multiple benefits – finding new friends, keeping busy, and saving money.
Posted 05-7-2015 at 06:16 PM by Ellen
Ragdolls have a long history as children’s toys, although many have not survived the centuries due to being made from common household fibers, which were already worn and degraded to the point of near-disintegration. You can make a friendly little ragdoll for your kiddo using nothing more than a book, scissors and some scrap yarn.
First, grab a book. It can be any size, but the size of the book determines the size of your ragdoll. A bigger book means a larger ragdoll and vice versa. The thickness of the book doesn’t matter, but it should have some heft to it. Hardcover books are best. Remove any dust jackets before using the book for this project – you don’t want to damage it.
• Wrap your yarn into a working ball. Most yarn comes in a log-form called a hank or skein. This is helpful for some projects, but for our purposes, we need a good, solid ball.
• Wind the yarn around three of your fingers approximately ten times. Remove the yarn from your fingers and start wrapping the yarn around the center of the loops you just made.
• Keep wrapping in different directions until you form a ball. You don’t need much yarn for this project – 80 yards is more than enough to produce a sizable ragdoll that any child will love and adore.
• Now that you’ve got your ball of yarn and book, it’s time to start winding the yarn around the book. This forms the body, head, arms and legs of your ragdoll.
• Anchor one end of the yarn to the center front of the book using your finger and begin winding the yarn ball around the book vertically. Keep winding until you run out of yarn – the more yarn you use, the thicker and more plush your doll will be.
• Next, insert your scissors under the wraps at one end of the book, where the space between the hardbound covers and pages creates a gap. Cut through all the strands of yarn and leave the yarn folded in half.
• Cut six extra strands of yarn, each approximately 5 inches in length. Wrap and tie one about 2 inches down from the folded center of the yarn. This creates the “head” of the yarn rag doll.
• “Guesstimate” and separate out two equal chunks of yarn for the arm and two equal chunks of yarn for the legs. Tie and knot each chunk about half an inch from the cut end.
• The sixth and final extra strand of yarn goes to separate the legs from the torso. Tie this piece of yarn approximately halfway between the midpoint from the tie that created the head and the ties that hold the legs together.
You now have a very rustic yarn ragdoll that took under than ten minutes and less than $5.00 in materials to make.
• Get fancy and creative – make clothes for the doll by cutting up old socks or wrapping additional colors of yarn around different sections of the doll.
• If your child is old enough for it to be safe, you can even hot-glue googly eyes to the doll to give her a face or tie on brightly-colored strands of yarn to the head for hair.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to creating your yarn ragdoll.
Posted 05-7-2015 at 06:09 PM by Ellen
Getting your kids to play outside in the winter months can be more challenging than in warmer months. In the summer, kids spend hours riding bikes, splashing in the pool, running under the sprinklers and playing baseball, kickball, tag and hide-and-go-seek.
In the winter, once the kids are all bundled up and escorted out the door, once the snowman is built, there have been a couple of snowball battles and the sled-riding is completed, kids want to come back in and warm up.
When that happens, it can be a challenge to get them back out again. Children who do not get enough exercise all year long can become obese – and this could have life-long consequences. According to the Mayo Clinic, obesity in childhood can lead to medical conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type II Diabetes and other ailments that can have a negative impact on the quality of life of the child when he becomes an adult.
This is why proper diet and exercise are important for children. Controlling their diet in the winter can be handled easily enough, but how can you make sure your kids get enough exercise during the coldest months of the year?
You can create games that allow them to move around while they are outside. One such game called Winter Treasure Hunt requires kids to scour a location searching for buried items such as Christmas decoration, toys or other items.
Things you’ll need:
• Small toys, trinkets such as Christmas decorations, party favors
• Jars or another type of container
Setting up the game:
• Collect the items you plan to use in the game and bury them in the snow in the area where the game is going to be played. You want to make sure that part of the item is still visible so the kids can find it.
• Create a map of where items are hidden and give the kids hints about where the “treasures” are buried (keep a copy to use later to retrieve any items the kids didn’t find).
Put toys or other items that might be damaged by cold or snow in a clear plastic baggie. Kids can still see the item, and the item is safe from the elements.
Playing the game:
• Send the kids outside with the knowledge that there is treasure to be found and give out clues when necessary.
• Watch hilarity ensue as kids run around the location seeking out treasure.
• You can also add hints or clues to where things are buried throughout the location on index cards or signs placed throughout the search area. This can help kids hone their reasoning and logic skills.
• If you have a lot of kids participating, you can create teams and let the kids search for the buried treasure together. This develops teamwork skills.
• Once the kids begin to find treasure, it’s placed in jars or containers. The kid or team with the most items in a jar wins. The prize could be the items in their jar or something else.
This could also be turned into a neighborhood event, with all the kids and families on the block participating. It could be used as a way to gather the community together and enjoy some time outdoors as kids and parents go from house-to-house with their maps and jars looking for treasure.
However the game is arranged, it’s an ideal way to get the kids to spend extra time outside on a winter day once the sled riding is done and the snowman is erected and guarding the front yard.
Posted 05-7-2015 at 06:07 PM by Ellen
Dried beans are trendy again – and with good reason. Where else can you find a solid source of protein that makes vegetarians happy, while costing a fraction of other protein sources? Beans are a healthy, fat free ingredient that can be the star in lots of family-friendly meals, from Southwest chili to New England baked beans. Most people are familiar with the more common dried beans, including black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans and lima beans, but there are dozens of different bean varieties you can try.
Growing your own dried beans is very simple. The dried beans you harvest might be very different, but most of the vines themselves will be very similar. The leaves may differ in size and some of the vines are taller, but most bean plants look pretty much the same – especially to your kids. Knowing this gives you the perfect opportunity to teach your children about plants passing on their traits through their seeds.
Share in some garden fun along with learning all summer long by helping your kids to grow a row of bean plants. Beans are simple to grow and mostly maintenance-free, so even the smallest preschooler can help enough to feel like he or she is growing a garden.
Plant four or five of the same type of seed, adding differing varieties until you’ve planted an entire row. As the plants grow, the plot will look like a uniform wall of vines. When you harvest the bean pods at the end of the growing season your kids will be able to see the variety of beans you’ve grown.
The ultimate seed source
If you’ve looked through seed catalogs, you might think this little garden plot will cost a small fortune because you’ll be planting about a dozen different bean types. On top of that, most of the seeds will probably never even get planted. Think of the waste! But, if you take advantage of a little known packaging fact, your entire mixed seed collection will only cost you a dollar or two.
• When beans are picked for packaging that’s aimed at the grocery store, they aren’t allowed to have any pesticides or other chemicals sprayed on them before being bagged. What you have is simply a large bag filled with dried bean seeds.
• Check your grocery store dried bean section. Almost every store stocks bags of 12-bean soup mix, 15-bean soup mix or some other variety of bean seeds. They may make a tasty meal, but you can also separate out a handful of each bean and save them before using the rest of the package.
• The dried soup beans will last a year or more. Most multi-bean soup bags include such beans as pinto, kidney, lima, black, red, and about a dozen others, with possibly some split peas and other seeds. Choose smooth, whole seeds, and place half a dozen of each into an envelope, saving them aside until the spring thaw.
Planting with the kids
There probably isn’t a kid alive who doesn’t love an excuse to dig a hole. Imagine their delight when you let them dig an entire trench along the fence in the back yard. Show them how to dig about six inches from a chain link fence or other sturdy support, in a trench about six inches wide. Once the soil is prepared, have them plant groups of each seed, placing the seeds about two inches apart until the trench is filled.
Growing seasons vary
Watch the moisture levels in your bean garden. If you live in an arid area or if you don’t get rain for a week or so, give the bean patch about an inch of water from the hose. It’s healthier to let the kids soak the row once or twice a week rather than giving them a short sprinkle every day. Watch the growing vines with your kids and mention any differences you might notice in the color or size differences in the vines and leaves.
When the vines begin to die back and the bean pods are showing signs of becoming dry and brittle, it’s time to harvest your crops.
• Pull them all at the same time and drop them into a grocery bag.
• Once you’ve got them all together, compare how the pods look next to each other and talk about what kind of seed they think might be inside.
• Crack open the pods to solve the mystery, putting the contents of each type of pod into a different bowl or storage container.
There are benefits far beyond the simple act of planting and caring for a garden for children. If they plant and grow something, chances are they will eat it. And the simple act of getting outdoors and working with the earth will grow an appreciation of nature within them.