Simple Tutorial for a DIY Nursing Necklace

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This post is by contributor Sarah!

As my baby has grown, she has become more curious and fidgety while nursing and other times when she is in my arms. To keep those busy, investigating hands from pinching my skin, pulling my hair, and inspecting my teeth and gums, I decided to make this simple beaded necklace.

Give Baby Something To Hold Onto With This Simple DIY Nursing Necklace

Materials to Make this DIY Nursing Necklace:

Materials For Making Your Own DIY Nursing Necklace

All you need are some chunky beads and a wide ribbon. I chose to bead on a wide ribbon versus a string or cord so that if the necklace was pulled, it would not chafe my neck. I have used medium-sized wooden beads, but you could use larger ones. You might even use the big beads sold as bead lacing kits for toddlers. That way your nursing necklace can be reused as your baby gets older.

How to Make Your Own Nursing Necklace

I cut my ribbon so that it would hang about where my daughter’s hands reach when I am nursing or holding her. I did not want it too short, because that might hurt my neck. I didn’t want it so long that the baby would get tangled, either.

Easy Tutorial For DIY Nursing Necklace

Then I strung just a few beads in the center and knotted the ribbon on each side. I wanted to give a little more sensory interest to the texture and shape of the necklace. The knots are completely optional; you can decide what will be more interesting to your little one. Then I beaded a few more on each side. I tied the ribbon to close it off. You might choose to bead all the way up, again it is up to you!

Keep Baby's Hands Occupied With A DIY Nursing Necklace

The necklace was a big hit immediately. When I am holding my little girl, she likes to look at the beads and roll them around in her fingers, which keeps a hand busy and prevents her from accidentally pulling my hair. When nursing, it gives her something to hold onto and move around rather than poking and pinching. I love that this simple craft has helped me have a more comfortable experience as I nurse and hold an older infant, while still providing some sensory stimulation for her growing brain!

About the Author:

Sarah Benton Feitlinger, M.Ed. is a former Preschool-6th science teacher, mom, blogger and science curriculum developer. She is passionate about educating children, and loves anything and everything science! Check out her blog Share it! Science for fun science activities, lessons, science news, book and learning product reviews, and other resources for kids, teachers, homeschoolers and parents.

Make A DIY Nursing Necklace To Keep Baby's Hands Occupied While Being Held Or Nursing

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Bring the Snow Inside for A Snowy Sensory Play Experience

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This post is by contributor Dara!

Our beautiful, snowy winters in Canada sometimes have us cooped up inside. This past weekend, we had a huge snowstorm and it was extremely cold. Since going outside was not possible, I brought some snow inside for our sensory bin.

Snowy Sensory Play Inside

Materials Needed for this Snowy Sensory Play Fun:

We started off playing with different items: ladle, plastic Mason jar, metal fork and spoon. My daughter learnt very quickly that when metal gets cold it stays cold!

 

After 20 minutes, I noticed my daughter losing some interest, so I decided to add some paint. The clean white snow with bright colors was quite pretty. She loved mixing all the coloring; especially since the snow was beginning to melt.

Add paint for colorful snowy sensory play

Snowy Sensory Play

 

That’s when I brought some water for her to pour in. My daughter loved this sensory activity and it was quite educational. Once the snow melted my daughter found some small pieces and enjoyed putting it into a bowl of warm water and watching it melt.

Bring Real Snow Inside For Snowy Sensory Play

Do your children enjoy playing with snow, whether it’s inside or outside? Would this colorful, snowy sensory experience be enjoyed at your home?

Add A Bit Of Color To Your Snowy Sensory Play

 

About the Author:

Dara Greenspoon lives in Montreal, Canada with her husband and two year old daughter. Currently, Dara is a stay at home mother but was a preschool teacher for ten years before giving birth. Her passion for children is tremendous and she loves creating different activities with her daughter to share with everyone.

Bring The Snow Inside For Fun Snowy Sensory Play

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Bear Cave Hibernation Craft and Activity for Preschoolers

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This post is by contributor Dara!

In Canada, we have the most beautiful snow covered winters. White fluffy snow blankets everything; it’s such a magnificent sight! When it is too cold to play outside, we do lots of activities and crafts inside. Recently, my daughter has been playing with her bears, so I took this opportunity to teach her about hibernation with a hibernation craft.

We made a bear cave out of a tissue box and some cotton balls, tissue, thick paper towels, and cut up out shirts. We also created our own little bears using old, dried coffee grinds.

Materials To Make A Bear Hibernation Craft

Materials Needed for Bear Hibernation Craft:

  • Old tissue box (cut into half) or a square tissue box
  • Tissue paper, cotton balls, or hand paper (anything white to represent snow)
  • Old shirt, blanket, or towel
  • Glue
  • Bear template
  • Dried coffee grinds

My daughter truly loved gluing all the different textures to construct our snow covered caves. As she touched each material we discussed the different textures; soft, rough and smooth. Once the cave was completely covered with “snow”, we started decorating the inside of the cave. I explained, that during winter it gets very cold and the bears need to keep warm; therefore we need to put lots of “blankets”(cut up old shirts). My daughter couldn’t put enough material inside; she was really wanted to make sure the bears were warm!

Bear Cave Hibernation Craft To Make With Kids

 

To make our bears, I drew a bear onto a thick piece of paper and had my daughter glue on the dried coffee grinds. My daughter loved the texture of the grinds, but she didn’t really like the smell!

Once it dried she enjoyed playing with the bear and its cave.

Bear Hibernation Craft With Dried Coffee Grounds

We sang some songs to go along with her hibernation craft:

(sung to the tune of Allouette, Gentille Allouette)
Hibernation time for hibernation
Hibernation time go to sleep

(sung to Are You Sleeping Brother John)
Are you sleeping?
Are you sleeping?
Little bear
Little bear
Winter time is coming
Winter time is coming
Go to sleep
Go to sleep

Such a fun hibernation craft to play with again and again. Are your children fascinated by hibernation, too?

About the Author:

Dara Greenspoon lives in Montreal, Canada with her husband and two year old daughter. Currently, Dara is a stay at home mother but was a preschool teacher for ten years before giving birth. Her passion for children is tremendous and she loves creating different activities with her daughter to share with everyone.

Bear Cave Hibernation Craft For Preschoolers To Make This Winter

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Easy Heart Salt Dough Keepsake

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This post is by contributor Sammie!

Valentine’s Day can be a special time to put a smile on the face of family members with these adorable Valentine Salt Dough Keepsake Handprints! They don’t take long to make, but can be a wonderful keepsake to hold on to for years to come. You only need three ingredients to make them, and some paint.

Salt Dough Heart Keepsake For Baby And Toddler

To make salt dough, you will need:

1 cup salt
1 cup water
2 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, combine the three ingredients, and mix until a firm dough forms. If it’s way too dry, add water a tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired consistency. If the mixture is too wet, add a tablespoon of flour at a time until the desired consistency is met. It’s not a picky recipe, and is quite forgiving on the measurements.

Salt Dough Keepsake Dough

Form your design (we chose a heart for Valentine’s Day) using a large cookie cutter, or your hands. Keep in mind, you will need your dough to be fairly thick for the handprint to show up nicely in the salt dough.

Salt Dough Keepsake Pressing The Handprint

After you’ve formed your dough, press your little one’s hand into the dough. If your baby is anything like mine, you will have to be fast, as they will want to grab the dough and squeeze it. Don’t worry about getting it perfect.

Salt Dough Keepsake Before The Oven

Place on a baking sheet and bake for 2-3 hours (depending on the thickness of your design) at 200 degrees. Flip your design while cooking for best results. Once your design is dry (you will notice the dough will get lighter in color) remove from the oven, and allow it to cool.

Salt Dough Keepsake Final Tall 1

Once the design is cool, paint the entire top of the design using acrylic paint. Make a smooth coat, and allow it to dry. Using a different color, paint only the indention of your baby’s handprint. This will help the important part stand out, and will help mask any imperfections as well. Once both paint coats are dry, coat with a layer of mod podge.

Allow to dry thoroughly before gifting to your loved one. Enjoy making this cute keepsake with your baby. Making and giving treasures that will be wonderful memories for years to come is definitely a rewarding project!

About the author:

Sammie is a wife, mom-of-two, and long-term lover of kids and hands-on activities! She loves learning through play, and allowing kids to learn without knowing they’re learning.  She also believes that learning isn’t something boring, or something that fades with age, but is something that should happen every single day, for the rest of our lives!

Heart Salt Dough Keepsake

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DIY Tag Toy for Baby

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This post is by contributor Sarah!

Why is it that no matter how fascinating or expensive a toy is, children are often just as (if not more) interested in the box it came in? Like empty boxes, there are many things that my baby gravitates to, and often they aren’t the ones I expect.

One of those unexpected things for us is fabric tags. She loves to seek out the tags on her fabric toys and play with them instead of the toy itself! Toy makers have capitalized on this by adding ribbon tags to many of their designs.

I decided to make our own tag toy based on her fascination with tags. I keep the ribbons that come on gifts and packaging to reuse. Creating this little toy was a great way to use up this stash!

Early Fine Motor Ideas

To make a simple tag toy you’ll need:

  • A sewing needle
  • Thread
  • Variety of ribbon

Ribbon

I tried to choose ribbons that had a variety of textures. In addition to creating something I thought my little one would find interesting, I also wanted to make this a sensory experience for her. Rather than just use the satin ribbons like those on her manufactured toys, I included some cotton woven ribbon and grosgrain. I also tried to choose some different sizes and colors to add interest.

Threading The Tag Toy

First, I cut the ribbons into more manageable lengths. Then, after threading a needle, I folded one ribbon into the size loops I desired. I stitched through the bottom of the loops and then back again to make sure they were secure. I repeated with a second ribbon.

Complete Diy Tag Toy

I found that it was easier to secure the loops of each individual ribbon with a stitch or two first, then add it to the bunch. I continued the process with different colors and textures of ribbon until I was satisfied with its fullness. The number of different ribbons is totally up to you, experiment and see what your baby likes the best!

Easy Diy Tag Toy For Baby Sensory Exploring

The tag toy was a big hit. She enjoys running her fingers along the different types of ribbon, pulling them out one at a time and squishing it all together. It is great fine motor practice as she pinches the thin ribbons. All in all, this quick recycled project turned out to be fantastic for quiet play.

About the Author:

Sarah Benton Feitlinger, M.Ed. is a former Preschool-6th science teacher, mom, blogger and science curriculum developer. She is passionate about educating children, and loves anything and everything science! Check out her blog, Share it! Science for fun science activities, lessons, science news, learning product reviews and other resources for kids, teachers, homeschoolers and parents.

DIY Tag Toy For Baby

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Easy Sparkly Sensory Bottle for Baby

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This post is by contributor Sammie!

Valentine’s Day is a fun holiday to be able to show those around us how much we love and care about them! Celebrating Valentine’s Day with your kids can be fun, but with babies it can sometimes be difficult to make the day special. We recently made an easy Valentine’s Day Sensory Bottle that’s a great way to celebrate with your baby!

Sparkly Sensory Bottle

To make a Sparkly Sensory Bottle, you will need:

  • Water Bottle
  • Liquid Food Dye
  • Glitter
  • Valentine-Themed Sensory Bottle Filler (pom-poms, foam hearts etc)

Supplies For Valentines Day Sensory Bottle

To start, you will need a water bottle (we drank the water first, since we drink bottled water, and then refilled it with tap water for this project). Remove the label, and then wash the bottle to remove the leftover glue from the label as well. Add a SINGLE drop of food dye (be sure to use liquid, and not gel to make sure it mixes well) to the water and mix well. If you use too many drops of food dye, it will make the water too tough to see the objects inside. We used purple.

How To Make A Easy Sensory Bottle

Remove some of the water from the bottle, to make room for the items you will add to the bottle. Now you get to add the fun stuff! Find items that are Valentine themed and add them to the bottle. We used glitter in red and silver, red, blue, and purple foam hearts, and red, blue, and purple pom-poms. Replace the lid and shake the bottle to mix everything together.

Baby Sensory Experience

To keep the bottle from leaking on your baby as they play with it, or to keep the lid from coming off during play, dry the inside of the lid, and the rim of the bottle, and add some superglue, and replace the lid quickly. This will seal everything together well.

Easy Sensory Bottle For Baby

As your baby plays, be sure to interact with them. Point out shapes, and colors. Work on the phrase, “I love you!” with your baby as well during this activity. Show them how to shake the bottle to make the colors move as well, and encourage them to do the same. Happy Valentine’s Day!

About the author:

Sammie is a wife, mom-of-two, and long-term lover of kids and hands-on activities! She loves learning through play, and allowing kids to learn without knowing they’re learning.  She also believes that learning isn’t something boring, or something that fades with age, but is something that should happen every single day, for the rest of our lives!

Easy Sparkly Sensory Bottle For Baby

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How to Help Your Picky Eating Toddler

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This post is by Dr Orlena Kerek.

Toddlers are not well known for their table manners, or their consistent eating habits. One day they love something so much they want to eat 3 plates of it. The next time you offer it to them they act as if you’re trying to chop off their legs. It is very frustrating to have a toddler who won’t eat.

Help My Picky Toddler Wont Eat

Is Picky Eating Normal?

Most babies take to eating with gusto. They will happily shovel anything and everything into their mouths to explore new tastes and textures. They don’t have much control over their bodies and one of the first things they master is grasping something and directing it towards their mouth. Very useful when you want to know which tastes best, red wooden bricks or yellow wooden bricks?

As they reach toddlerhood (roughly between 1 and 4 years, there is no exact definition), all sorts of changes happen. They discover independence, doing things for themselves (can be very frustrating) and communication. And rules. Yep, they discover that those aren’t that great.

They like familiar things. Pretty much everything familiar, not just food. Familiar toys, familiar people, and familiar books. Seriously how many times have you read “Where’s Spot”?

They go through a phase of not liking new things and enjoying familiar foods that are firmly entrenched on the “accepted list”.

Things that are banished to the “I hate it list” may include anything with a texture that doesn’t appeal (normally slimy things such as eggplant and mushroom) but also very crunchy things like cabbage. Or a yucky flavour (cabbage has a strong flavour) or because they had a bad experience with it, or are fed up of it. Or just because.

Anything between “I totally love it” and “I totally hate it” is anyone’s guess. One day they love it, the next day they hate it.

All kids are different and some will sail through this phase without their parents noticing. Most kids will grow out of picky eating by around the age of 8, as long as it doesn’t become an “issue” (which basically means as long as you don’t pressure them into eating.) A few children with more serious problems have such a narrow diet that they need the help of a feeding specialist.

How To Get Toddlers To Eat Their Food

How Can I Help My Picky Eater?

  • Don’t pressure them to eat. Eating should be fun and enjoyable.
  • Give them a mix of healthy food you know they’ll like but still present them with other foods that aren’t yet accepted. (Here’s everything you need to know about toddler nutrition.)
  • Regular feeding times are good so that they know when the next eating opportunity is. They will stop those naughty snacks just before dinner!
  • Model healthy eating by eating different things yourself at family meals.

Turn Your Picky Eater into a Healthy Eater

Eating should be fun. As long as you don’t pressure your kids to eat and keep offering them healthy food in appropriate portions, your toddler should grow into a healthy eater.

Dr Orlena Kerek

Dr Orlena Kerek is a paediatric doctor and mother of 4 who believes teaching your kids to enjoy healthy eating and living can be pain free and even fun. Grab your free “Feeding Toddler Cheat Sheet and Food Diary” when you join her “Snotty Noses’s community.”

How To Help Your Picky Eating Toddler

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Noise Makers for Baby

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This post is by contributor Sammie!

New Year’s Eve can be such a fun time for kids.  They get to stay up late,  and if they make it to midnight,  they get to make a ton of noise!  Today we’re going to make an easy DIY New Year’s Eve noise maker for baby to ring in the New Year!  Even if your little one doesn’t make it to midnight,  this is a fun activity.

(This also works for anytime of the year as a sound sensory explorer!)

Noise Maker Fun For Baby

To begin,  you need an empty plastic container.  I used an empty puffs container,  but you could use a water bottle or something similar.

I rinsed mine out,  dried it thoroughly,  and then removed the product label.  This will make sure that if baby chews on it,  no little plastic pieces can come off.  Make sure the inside is dry too,  so you don’t have to worry about mildew on the inside of the container.

The next step is to find some things that will be lightweight,  but will make some fun noise inside the container.  I found some small buttons,  rice,  wooden beads,  and some jingle bells!  I only put a small amount of each item in the container,  so it’s not too heavy for baby.

Nye Filler

Use a funnel to get small items into your container without making a mess.  This is especially helpful if you’re using a small mouthed bottle like a water bottle.  Remember,  you only need to add just enough items to the bottle to make noise when it’s shaken.  Don’t overfill!

Nye Rice

After all your items are in the container,  use a hot glue gun to glue the lid on.  This will make sure the lid doesn’t come off and spill tiny items everywhere. Keep the glue amount small,  so it doesn’t squish out the edges of the lid. This also keeps your NYE noise maker from being a choking hazard!

Sound Touch Sensory

When the glue is cool and dry,  you can give it to baby to test out!  We had just finished snack time,  and my little one loved it!  It was hard to get a picture,  because she kept shaking it!  As you can see,  one of the first things she did was to try and chew on the lid,  so,  gluing that down is really an important step.  Enjoy your noise maker with your little one,  and Happy New Year!

Exploring Sound With Baby

About the Author:

Sammie is a wife, mom-of-two, and long-term lover of kids and hands-on activities! She loves learning through play, and allowing kids to learn without knowing they’re learning. She enjoys singing, reading, being outdoors, and going to the beach. She’s a jack (or Jane!) of all trades, and the master of none. She has project ADHD and can’t ever stick to creating the same thing over and over. She also believes that learning isn’t something boring, or something that fades with age, but is something that should happen every single day, for the rest of our lives!

Noise Makers For Baby

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Mini Liquid Sensory Bottles for Baby

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This post is by contributor Sarah!

As my daughter grew closer to being able to eat solid food she, like many babies, was increasingly interested in the food on our plates, and especially beverages. She loves watching liquids move. So, rather than continue to push our glasses further and further away from her, preventing spills, but only adding to her frustration, I decided to make something she could hold herself to explore the motion of liquids.

Sensory Bottle Baby

Sensory bottles are a great way to allow kids to experience, observe and explore in a safe and engaging way. These mini-sensory bottles are the perfect size for my little one’s 6 month-old hands.

The bottles are a mixture of two of her favorite things to watch: liquids and the beads in a plastic transparent rattle. She finds both mesmerizing.

Supplies for baby sensory bottle

To make these sensory bottles, you only need a few supplies:

Water Bottle

The prep is relatively simple. Open up the bottles and put a few beads in. Then, simply fill up with the desired amount of water.

I experimented a bit with the bottles before I secured the lids with hot glue, just to see what my daughter’s preferences were. I found that by varying the amount of water, we got different effects.

When you only fill the bottle part way, the beads make more of a rattling noise and you can make a whirlpool with the water. When filled all the way, the beads flow nicely in the bottle. This seemed to be her preference, but your child’s might be different!

Once you are satisfied with the outcome, secure the lid by lining it with hot glue and screwing it shut. This will prevent any water from leaking out and potential choking hazards caused by the lid or the beads. I also periodically check the lid to be sure it is still secure before letting my little one play with it.

Sealing The Bottle

She loves watching me tip the bottle up and down to see the beads slowly go from one end to another. She also enjoys holding onto the bottle and watching it herself. This is a really nice, peaceful lap activity, and an excellent way to explore the properties of liquids without making a mess!

Showing Sensory Bottle

About the author:

Sarah Benton Feitlinger, M.Ed. is a former Preschool-6th science teacher, mom, blogger and science curriculum developer. She is passionate about educating children, and loves anything and everything science! Check out her blog, Share it! Science for fun science activities, lessons, science news, learning product reviews and other resources for kids, teachers, homeschoolers and parents.

Mini Liquid Sensory Bottles for Baby

 

You might also love these ideas! Over 40 Water and Ice Science Activities to Keep You Cool

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Easy Christmas Sensory Bin for Older Babies

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This post is by contributor Sammie!

Christmas is normally a time when we are constantly telling our kids, “No! Don’t touch that!” I know I have uttered those words a thousand times, especially when it comes to the Christmas tree! My daughter is ten months old, so you can assume how well that’s going (I’ll give you a hint: there’s a lot of ornaments on the floor right now.) Today, though, I encouraged Christmas touch with this Christmas Sensory Bin, and she had a blast!

Christmas Sensory Bin For Young Toddlers

This sensory bin is really simple to put together.

I started with a base of split peas. I used split peas both for their color, and the fact that if she ate some of them, it wouldn’t be a safety issue. I used two lbs of split peas for this sensory bin. I also used a bag of jingle bells, and a large bag of glittery pom-poms! The next part was my favorite thing to add to the bin; ornaments. I used shatterproof, plastic ornaments without hooks on them. This ensures that they’re safe and won’t harm your baby.

How To Make A Baby Sensory Bin

Remember, just because this is a sensory bin made with your baby in mind, you should NEVER leave your baby unattended when playing with it. Engage your baby in play. Ask him or her questions about the color of the items, about how they feel, talk to them about what each item is. I even made a point to hand items to her, and talk about them as well.

Explore Bin For Baby

My daughter enjoyed this so much. First, she started off slowly by carefully touching the peas, and fondling the pom-poms. But, after about ten minutes, all apprehension had left, and she was IN the sensory bin. I allowed it, and had the best time! I would recommend doing this on a surface with a hard floor, so you can easily sweep afterward.

Baby Sensory Bin

Enjoy the holidays with your little one. For a few minutes, let them touch, this Christmas season, and explore with their little hands and fingers. My daughter loved it, and I’m sure your little one will have a blast too! Make a Christmas sensory bin, and watch them light up with Christmas spirit.

Christmas Sensory Bins For Toddlers

About the Author:

Sammie is a wife, mom-of-two, and long-term lover of kids and hands-on activities! She loves learning through play, and allowing kids to learn without knowing they’re learning. She enjoys singing, reading, being outdoors, and going to the beach. She’s a jack (or Jane!) of all trades, and the master of none. She has project ADHD and can’t ever stick to creating the same thing over and over. She also believes that learning isn’t something boring, or something that fades with age, but is something that should happen every single day, for the rest of our lives!

Easy Christmas Sensory Bin For Older Babies

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How to Easily Sew Homemade Toys for your Toddler

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Your toddler needs new toys, but traveling to the store with a toddler can be a challenge, and they grow out of them so quickly.

You can save time and money by creating toys (or activities) for your toddler right in your own home.

Though it may seem challenging, with a little bit of creativity and these simple steps, you’ll be on your way to making new toys in no time!

How to Easily Sew Homemade Toys for your Toddler yay

Gather necessary sewing materials

You’re going to need a large, open space to work, and remember, bigger is always better.

The more space you have, the more you’ll be able to finish. You also want to be working on a solid, surface that can take a little bit of a beating (IE not your new mahogany table!)  to make cutting easier.

You’ll also need a sewing machine. Many projects are no-sew (like this project) or can be done by hand, but a sewing machine will make your project go faster and make your work much easier.  Sewing Makes Me Happy’s guide to beginner machines has a great list of sewing machines for people just starting out.

Find ideas and patterns for desired toys

There are tons of awesome patterns out there. If you search the web, there are many different toddler toy pattern websites available to you.

This one is even an adorable apron to keep your toddler clean during those awesome creative finger painting sessions! Keep searching around, there are thousands of great tutorials out there.

Repurpose or purchase material

Many items make ideal sewing materials. That shirt that doesn’t fit anymore, that set of jeans with a hole in them, or even old socks and gloves.

Clothes with holes in them can provide good fabric for projects, and as long as the rest of the garment is in good shape.

You can also purchase your fabric online, or go into your local craft and hobby store. Fabric is usually sold by the yard, and know that most patterns tell you how many yards of fabric you’ll need.

Give yourself plenty of time to practice

There is a learning curve to creating your own toddler toys. Some of them are more challenging than others, but know that it’s okay if you’re first one doesn’t turn out just like the picture.

Keep practicing, keep working towards it, and you’ll find that in no time you’ll be making all your own toddler toys. You could even get them involved with the process and start making toys they really enjoy!

Making your own toys can be an incredibly rewarding challenge. At the end of the day, you’ll feel excited that your toddler is playing with your handmade toys and they will be excited to play with toys they got to see created.

Laura Brooks blogs at www.sewingmakesmehappy.com and helps spread the word about sewing.

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How to Manage Older Siblings While Nursing a Baby

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(This post is written by Marie)

You’ve finally arrived home with your brand new baby, ready to introduce your little bundle to big brother or sister. Parents employ a number of tactics to help the older sibling adjust to their new arrival. A special gift or book or maybe a toy, but what do you do in the days and weeks after arrival? How do you manage the older sibling while you are nursing your new baby?

How to Manage Older Siblings While Nursing a Baby

Here are a few ideas for moms of toddlers and preschoolers after new baby arrives:

1. Special TV time

I know not everyone likes to go straight to technology, but I had to mention it right off the bat. This is a wonderful option for mamas, like me, who have babies who take a long time to nurse. Plus, when you are exhausted and still physically recovering from birth, you need to cut yourself some slack.

I chose a special TV show that my son only got to watch while I nursed his twin sisters. It quickly turned his protests, “NO feed the girls!,” to requests, “Time to feed the girls?” I particularly liked Signing Time (available on Netflix) because it was also interactive. My son and I could sing and talk about the signs together. Sesame Street, Super Why, Sid the Science Kid are also good options and all available on Netflix as well.

2. Read-Aloud Snuggle Time

This may take a few tries, but creating a habit of snuggling up on mommy’s free side while she reads books is a great way to make older brother or sister still feel loved while mama nurses. Have a special basket or bag of books set aside just for reading while nursing. Some of my son’s favorites were the Miss Bindergarten Series (great for learning the alphabet).

3. Busy Bag Activities

Just before the birth of my twins, I had a Busy Bag assembly party with some friends. I brought home a bin of busy bag activities that I saved for my son to do after the girls were born. There were several busy bags in that bin that he would happily do over and over with very little assistance. Life saver.

4. Outdoor Art

If you have a little yard or patio, this is perfect. Set your little Picasso at your feet with some sidewalk chalk or water and paint brushes while you enjoy a little sunshine and nurse baby #2 in peace and quiet.

5. Games

You can still play games while you nurse, you just have to choose them carefully. Simon Says is a good option that gets wiggles out. I Spy or some other scavenger hunt sort of game is good for curious kiddos. My son liked making a game out of labeling things. I would write a word on a Post-it note, tell him the word (for example, “door”), and he would run and put the Post-it on the correct item. We also made a Post-it game of Letter and Number recognition. I would put Post-its around the room with one letter written on each one. He would go find each letter in order and bring it back to me.

Do you have any other ideas?

What did you do to keep your older child busy while you nursed?

marie

Marie Osborne is a wife, mama, and blogger who loves Jesus and large non-fat lattes. When she isn’t laughing (loudly) with her 30-something husband, chatting (loudly) with her girlfriends, singing (loudly) with her preschooler, or feeding her (loud) toddler twins, she’s probably binge watching Netflix. You can find her on her blog www.marieosborne.com, encouraging, challenging and laughing… under a pile of diapers.

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How Crafts Helped Me to Engage My Kids

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(This post is written by Aradhana)

My children are little bundles of joy, always bustling with energy. They are on a constant quest to explore, learn and create. We are all aware that a child’s mind is like a blank canvas; you can paint it just the way you want. And certainly, you want nothing short of the best for your little ones. Being a mother of two hasn’t been easy but has surely taught me a thing or two about honing a child’s creative genius. Here are few examples of how I engage my tiny tots with simple and fun art & craft activities:

How Crafts Helped Me to Engage My Kids

1)    On Festive Occasions – Don’t you just adore the cute little cards your kids make for you? Turns out, they love making them as much! This is a simple way to cheer up your kids and let them explore their creativity. Hand them a few sheets of paper, non-toxic paints, sketch pens, cute stickers, buttons, glue, and voila! You’ll be surprised to see the wonders they are capable of! Let it get messy if it does. It only proves how much your child enjoys the activity. Handmade cards make memories for keeps! I tear up each time my kids make me a card to profess their love.

2)    On Weekends And Holidays – Being a working mother, I prefer staying at home and spending quality time with family on my days off, rather than going out. On days like these, I let my kids do what they totally love; I let them color! There are many coloring sheets available online which I usually keep a stock of. Not only is this a great outlet for your kids to keep busy, but it is also a good way for them to learn about colors, living beings, things, and shapes. It’s always better to let them color on a piece paper than the walls of your house, don’t you think?

3)    While Traveling – Most of you mothers would agree that traveling with little kids can get really arduous. They get restless and make it extremely hard for you and your fellow travelers. I for one have learned a fun way to keep my kids occupied on long journeys. I have introduced the concept of a travel journal in which they can draw and write about the places they see and the people they meet. This makes them better observers and learners. It also makes your journey a lot more peaceful.

4)    At Birthday Parties – Contrary to popular belief, organizing children’s birthday parties is a highly enjoyable and easy process!  You can plan a myriad of exciting craft activities like balloon painting, mask making, finger painting and many more! To minimize litter and avoid dirtying the surroundings, make sure you cover the entire area with old paper. Give the kids a memorable time by letting them freely showcase their creative flair!

5)    On “DIY” Days – I have noticed that many children, especially single children often experience boredom and loneliness. The situation gets further aggravated if both the parents are working. They resort to mediums like TV and video games to keep their children entertained. While these mediums are good in their own right, they aren’t always suggested due to their negative impacts on a child’s mental and emotional health. The perfect cure for boredom then is to introduce easy DIYs to your kids. Used plastic bottles, old clothes, sea shells, rocks, almost anything can be used to create a beautiful work of art. Mark a day each month on your calendar, where you and your child can get together to create magic out of waste.

Parents these days are giving very little importance to art & craft and are focusing more on digital learning. I strongly believe that craft can positively shape your child’s personality in many ways. You can use it as a medium to introduce many concepts of science, environment, culture and etiquettes very early on in their life. This will not only make them more aware of their surroundings, but also turn them into a well-rounded individual. Craft is also a great medium of self-expression. Let your child communicate creatively!

Author Bio

Aradhana Pandey Bio PicAradhana is an expert writer on parenting, wellness, health and lifestyle. As a regular contributor for sites like natural news, elephant journal, thehealthsite, naturally savvy, curejoy and MomJunction.com, she aims to motivate people towards healthy habits and a problem free life.

 

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Do You Wish Your Children Ate Healthily?

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(This post is written by my friend Dr Orlena Kerek)

eat healthily course powerful mothering

Do you wish your children ate healthily? Perhaps a better question is Do you wish your children would eat a bit more healthily? You try right? You offer them some fruit, but they prefer cake? You offer them vegetables. They eat chips. I know…Life happens. Until one day you think “why bother with the fruit?” The next day you reach for the biscuits without a pause.

Is there a little whisper at the back of you mind that keeps telling you that their diet isn’t really that healthy? Come to think of it, What is healthy anyway?

Feeding our children a healthy diet can be tricky. I know. I have 4 young children. You should hear the noise at the dinner table…twins aged two. Yep, at times it’s a bit…messy! As a pediatric doctor I know how important healthy eating is. As a mother, I know how difficult it is. Do you wish you could stop all that stress related to eating? Don’t you think it would be awesome if you could teach your children to develop healthy habits? They wouldn’t see it as ‘healthy eating’…they’d just be eating food that they liked, healthy food that they liked. (Don’t worry, they don’t have to give up the treats entirely.)

Healthy Eating for Children Course

I also do an awesome online course, which is not free. But it is great. It’s $350 which does sound a lot if you compare it to a book. But if you think of giving your children the gift of a healthy life…nothing in life is guaranteed, but there are things that you can do to increase your chances and healthy eating and exercise are up there at the top. If you could give that gift to your children, it’s a small price to pay. If you want to know more about the course…check out this page.

Just want to come along to the free session? It would be great to see you. Just register here.

Dr Orlena Kerek

Dr Orlena Kerek is a paediatric doctor and mother of 4 small scamps. She writes about helping children to eat healthily, without lots of stress and worry. It’s all about building healthy habits that last a lifetime.

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How to Stay Sane with a New Baby and a Demanding Toddler

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(This post is written by Melissa)

So, you have a brand new bundle of joy and you are in a state of bliss.  You have been waited on hand and foot by your loving family, which has allowed you to get some much needed rest and lots of bonding time with your little one.  You’ve got this.  Everything is going to be a breeze and then REALITY hits!

Your family has to leave.  Your husband has to go back to work and that leaves you alone with the baby AND your toddler!!  Not only do you have a toddler, but you have a very demanding one.  What are you going to do?  Go crazy?  No, you will be just fine and keep your sanity through it all.

How to Stay Sane with a newborn and toddler

Put your toddler to work!  I know what you are thinking….I can’t make my toddler work.  Let me explain.  Your new baby needs several things throughout the day.  The baby needs to eat, sleep, and potty.  Your toddler needs things during the day, too.  Your attention is one of the most important parts of your baby and your toddler’s lives.  When the baby needs to eat you can teach your toddler to hold the bottle and help you feed.  If you are breastfeeding, you can teach your toddler to talk softly to the baby or sing to the baby while you feed.  If you are not comfortable doing this, you can also teach your child that feeding time for the baby is coloring or busy bag time for the toddler.

Rest time is important not only for the baby, but also for you and the toddler as well.  The days will go much smoother if everyone is rested.  So, when naptime rolls around teach your toddler that it is time for him/her to rest, too.  Resting doesn’t always mean sleeping.  Your toddler can learn to lie in bed or on the sofa and watch television or listen to music, but your child needs to know that rest time is quiet.  There is another option, too.  If you are not feeling tired when the baby needs to nap, this would be a great time to spend with your toddler doing what he/she wants to do.  That way your toddler does not feel left out.

Potty time can be an adventure for your toddler.  When your baby needs to have a diaper change, you can teach your toddler to go and get you a diaper and wipes.  While you are putting the new diaper on, you can teach your toddler to help you secure the diaper in place.  Once the baby is all clean and the diaper is secure, you can teach your toddler to throw the diaper in the trash can or if you are using cloth diapers, your toddler can learn to put the soiled diaper in the washing machine.

Having a new baby and a toddler at the same time can be a rewarding adventure if you know what to do.  Come up with a schedule and stick to it.  Your toddler learns from you.  If you will lead and direct your child, they will learn quickly and life will be much happier for you, the baby, and your demanding toddler, too!

About the Author:

Melissa W. Orr is a 44 year old homeschool mom.  She homeschooled her three children through high school.  She enjoys helping other homeschool parents as they travel down the exciting road called “homeschooling”.  Melissa also enjoys raising Shetland Sheep on her farm and being a clogging instructor.

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Get Organized with a Kitchen Command Center

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Today’s awesome idea is by Ashley McCann!

Calendars, meal plans, shopping lists, homework reminders, coupons, invitations and announcements—there’s an app for that; lots of them, in fact. They sit there on my phone, easily ignored, doing very little to combat the ever-growing pile of random (and easily forgotten) papers on the kitchen counter. As a result, the book fair is a surprise, or I find myself attempting to make a George Washington costume with an hour’s notice using found items from around the house.

How many times have I woken up, heart-thudding, with the realization that it’s snack day and I have no snack? Don’t ask.

So, I decided to free up my phone’s memory and try to jump-start my own by putting information somewhere that I’d see it—somewhere that wasn’t neatly tucked away in an electronic device or obnoxiously strewn across my countertops. I no longer wanted to be reminded, I wanted to remember…but then also be reminded in case that fell through. I needed somewhere to feel in control, organized, and like the captain of my ship in life’s rough waters, so I came up with a plan of attack and created a command center. It even sounds official and strategic, doesn’t it?

Here’s how to make your own:

1_CreativeKCCcollage

Although it’s tempting to choose a tidy, out-of-the-way location—like a junk drawer or the garbage can—that is not what a command center captain would do. We are facing the reality of RSVP requests, dentist appointments, and fundraising flyers and you can no longer hide these things. That’s why we needed a command center in the first place, remember?

2_KCCmess2

It’s ideal to place your new mecca of organization somewhere that you will actually see it and use it, and try as I might, the kitchen is hard to avoid. Claim an empty strip of wall, a pantry door, or even the front of the refrigerator, depending on what works best for your space, and imagine the possibilities.

Actually, you’re going to have to do more than imagine; get out a piece of paper and make a rough sketch and some lists of what you’ll need, both in terms of how the area can serve you and what you will need to purchase to accomplish this mission.

3_Sketching_Area

What will you need? You can go two ways, depending on your budget and style.

4_KCCone

The slightly pricier and easier way is to hit your nearest big box store and purchase the office supplies that will best fit your needs. A dry-erase calendar and lists, clipboards for each child’s school flyers, metal strips for magnets, a compartmentalized bin for coupons and pens—there is so much hope in the office supply section! Most of these items can be adhered to your surface with double-sided tape, which is easy to apply. The clipboards can be customized with patterned Con-Tact paper and attached with small hooks or with magnets.

5_KCCclipboard

If you want to save on costs and are willing to get creative and invest a little extra time smoothing out air bubbles, purchase a roll of self-adhesive chalkboard paper and chalk markers. The result is a blank canvas (which is the good news and the bad news—you still have to add the content) and perfect for those with an artistic streak or the need for a less structured space to organize their thoughts. Write whatever you need to remember, and write it big to create an easy visual reminder for the rest of the family.

6_KCCChalkboard

Twine, washi tape and wooden clothespins come together to create an inexpensive display garland for photo cards, art and announcements:

7_KCCGarland

To give your refrigerator the same chalkboard paper treatment, search the internet for instructions on how to remove your model’s door handle so that you can smooth the paper on horizontally with minimal cutting. Slowly peel away the paper backing and use a damp sponge or credit card edge to smooth any wrinkles or bubbles. The seams will be virtually invisible once in use and you can continue to use magnets. It’s an inexpensive makeover for an ugly refrigerator, and since the paper is removable, it isn’t a permanent one. After all, maybe one day you’ll be so organized you won’t need an organization center? Or more likely, you’ll move.

The most vital aspect of this project is the content, so come up with a process:

  • Try not to handle items more than once—it comes out of the backpack or mailbox and is immediately posted or written down at the command center and then thrown away.
  • Come up with a long-term system for storing kids’ art (a digital copy will do, in most instances).
  • Dedicate a certain day of the week and month to updating meal plans, to-do lists, and calendar dates; don’t worry, you’ll be more inspired to work on these things when they are out in the open this way.

Although electronic reminders will likely always have their purpose, the act of writing and seeing and being actively engaged with recording upcoming activities seems to help cement memories into place. It’s so much harder for snack day to sneak up on me when I’ve been looking at it every time I feed the cat or wait for my coffee to cool. Also, family members have no (good) excuse not to pitch in on the “to-do” list or reason to ask what’s for dinner. Take charge of the new year, and your life, by creating a kitchen command center to cut down on clutter and chaos.

Ashley McCann is a mother of two boys, a word nerd, a reluctant yogi, a hedgehog owner and a newspaper columnist. She spends her time on the beaches in her hometown of Naples, FL and blogging for Treat.com and others.

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Inexpensive & Easy Travel Games for Kids

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Happy holiday season from Kara at ALLterNATIVElearning! I am excited to be able to share with you several fun, easy and inexpensive travel games today to help you prepare with and for your kids! With Christmas and the holiday season as a whole, travel is typically a part of the routine for most families. And whether it’s a short road trip or a long flight, keeping kids occupied is always a benefit, especially when they are wanting to open present or play with new gifts.

INEXPENSIVE AND EASY TRAVEL GAMES

Check out these great travel games for toddlers and preschoolers!

Create a travel shape sorter game out of recyclable materials. You won’t be bothered if pieces go missing and you can use a holiday stencil to customize it for the season.

Velcro Dot Craft Sticks make a fun and easy-to use busy bags for your child to play with in the car or on a plane ride. Also, not a huge deal if you lose one!

If traveling in a car, these I Spy! Cards are really a fabulous idea. PLUS, no cheating by finding something in the car 😉

Make Travel Folders to explore different topics like stretch, texture, shapes, and more. They are easy to store and still a fun, interactive travel game for young babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.

Travel Game Ideas for kids | ALLterNATIVElearning.com for PowerfulMothering.com

Put together a Crazy Straw fine motor game. It’s so simple, so inexpensive, but the time kids spend playing with it is so priceless!

Get a Sensory Fix Toolkit to help keep kids occupied and focused even when they are on the verge of a meltdown!

Discover 11 Screen Free Activities for the Car. These great ideas are wonderful ways to help keep your kids enetrtained without pulling out a phone or movie.

Make fine motor activities out of bottles. This would be a self-contained travel game where the hold for the artificial nipple is where your baby or young toddler can place items of your choosing.

Have your children help you make Travel Activities!

Have a Craft Day before your trip and create a fun felt matching game.

Put together Busy Bags out of thrift shop finds. Check out this post to see how to browse your local secondhand stores and find great additions to busy bags that don’t break the bank and aren’t a tragedy if they get lost or broken.

Find ideas like this 11 page no-sew Quiet Book to keep your child occupied, especially when they start getting a little rowdy in the car or on the plane.

Create DIY magnetic travel games to coincide with the season.

Easy travel activities for children | ALLterNATIVElearning.com for PowerfulMothering.com

Assemble Dollar Store busy bags that encourage learning, but do not cost too much money.

Put together your own quiet book. Just make sure you have tons of stickers! 😉

Gather items for travel games where kids can work on patterns, numbers, and letters, like these busy bags by theme.

Design a cute little map game for your child to play with a car on (and maybe help them understand the sequence of events for your trip).

Kara Carrero promotes and alternative learning style at ALLterNATIVElearning.com


More about Kara:

Kara is a stay-at-home-mom and former teacher. She loves to write and share her experiences tot schooling. Recently she started writing more and is officially the author of two books, Every Parent Can Teach their Toddler and Adventures of Dot! Find her at ALLterNATIVElearning.com and don’t forget to follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.


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10 Expert Tips for Supporting Healthy Child Development

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Today’s lovely guest post is by Claire Heffron of  The Inspired Tree House!

As pediatric occupational and physical therapists, we’ve worked with hundreds of families over the years to help support children with special needs so that they can grow, learn, and develop to their highest potential.

But our work doesn’t stop there.  Because we work in a school setting, we’re called on regularly to provide ideas and support to help address common developmental issues that come up for typically functioning kids too.

Plus…between the two of us, we’re moms to 5 little ones ranging from 4 to 10 years old.  So we’re always putting our “therapist minds” to work at home too, trying to solve the developmental glitches that come up for our own kids!

Here are some of our very best tips and ideas for supporting healthy development in kids.  From picky eating to learning to ride a bike, and everything in between – we’ve got you covered!

10 Expert Tips for Supporting Healthy Child Development

One of the most important tips we can recommend to help give babies a head start on strength, coordination, and overall healthy physical development is to include as much tummy time as possible!  Learn more and get some great tips for making tummy time fun and comfortable for your baby!  Check out some of these baby must haves for the first 12 weeks with your newborn and try out some of these simple activities for 6-12 month olds.

Eventually, babies will move beyond playing on their tummies and learn to sit on their own.  As they move into toddlerhood and beyond, it’s so important to ensure that they are demonstrating healthy sitting positions.  We strongly caution parents to be aware of the dangers of W-Sitting and encourage other safer positions in their kids.

For some children, W-Sitting can be a sign of weakness in the core muscles.  Weakness in the core can also contribute to poor overall posture and difficulty with gross motor skills.  But don’t worry!  Core strengthening for kids can be fun!  We have lots of great ideas for building strength that will keep kids entertained too!

expert tips for healthy child development

Another common question we get in our therapy practice is “How can I get my kid to sleep?”  Our best answer?  Sensory input!  A little sensory know-how can go a long way toward helping your little one fall (and stay!) asleep.  Here are some other tips for kids who have trouble sleeping.

Speaking of sensory, sometimes parents notice that their child’s behaviors are becoming more than just “quirky”.  These kids might need extra support to meet their sensory processing needs.  We think it’s important for parents and families to be aware of sensory red flags and when to get help from a professional.

Have a picky eater on your hands?  We’ve been there!  Check out our best tips for picky eaters along with some of our favorite products to address picky eating in kids.

Teaching kids how to dress themselves can be tough, but promoting independence with dressing skills is so important for self esteem, for being able to function independently at school, and for potty training…and it goes a long way toward preserving your sanity on a busy school morning!

Another common developmental issue we see in our therapy practice?  Toe walking.  Toe walking simply means that a child walks on his tip toes or doesn’t contact the ground with his heel first when taking a step. Learn more about the common causes of toe walking and what treatments are available if you see this pattern in your child.

expert tips for child development tree 6

Do you have a little one who is just learning to ride a bike?  Our pediatric physical therapist has some awesome tips and tricks that will pave the way to success as your child masters this childhood rite of passage!

And, finally, the one thing every parent wants to know…what can we do to make sure our kids are ready for school?  There are lots of simple and fun ways that you can promote the functional skills your child needs to succeed in the classroom.  Our tips and strategies are great for increasing attention, safety, and independence in school and beyond!

When it comes to child development, we believe that the more everyone knows, the better off all kids are.  Keep these ideas handy as you navigate through all of the phases of your child’s development.  And remember, the most important thing you can give your child is you – tune in, engage, play, explore, and move with your child every single day and you’ll be well on your way to healthy, happy kids!

Many thanks to Claire Heffron of  The Inspired Tree House for all these pointers!
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15 Recycled Christmas Crafts

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Today’s post is by Nadia from Teach me Mommy.

Take a look at these 15 Recycled Christmas Crafts!

recycled christmas crafts

Recycled crafts do not have to cost much, and that is why we love them!

Like these Popsicle Stick Stars using only sticks and glitter and Egg Carton Jingle Bells where the only things you need, you probably already have! Both ideas from Powerful Mothering.

Another idea, using things you already have in your recycling cupboard, a cute 3D Christmas Tree.

And before you throw away an old brush, try making it into a friendly Santa Ornament by Glittering Muffins.

An easy craft from Crafty Morning for little ones is this Egg Carton Christmas Trees.

recycled christmas crafts

Mini Wreath Photo Frames using old wooden curtain rings makes a special keepsake.

Have lots of TP rolls? Sure you do! Use them to make a lovely Toilet Paper Roll Wreath by Totally Green Crafts or bend them to make Gift Boxes from Toilet Paper Rolls and let the kids decorate them festively as we did.

Counting down to Christmas will be great fun using this Advent Calender from Baby Wipe Containers idea from No Time for Flash Cards.

Reuse those old stack of Christmas cards making a beautiful Garland, by Learning 4 Kids.

recycled christmas crafts

Who knew Ornaments from lids and serviettes could look so nice on the tree, and a Magazine Wreath by Childhood 101 on the door!
Add these cute Reindeer Decorations from TP Rolls by Happy Hooligans to your tree too!

Brilliant idea from Crafts by Amanda to reuse Bread Tags , decorating them into snowmen!

And lastly, when traveling over the Festive Season, bring along your Tin Christmas Tree, because it is portable, stackable and can be decorated over and over again with homemade magnetic decorations!

Nadia is a teacher turned mommy to an almost 4 year old girl and 18 month old boy. She blogs over at Teach me Mommy about easy and playful activities with the aim to teach. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and G+, she would love to connect with you!

Teach me Mommy

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10 Christmas Ornaments to Make with Kids

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My name is Becca and I share my family life, frugal living tips, and travel adventures over at Bare Feet on the Dashboard. Thanks so much to Nicolette for having me over to guest post. I love all things Christmas and can’t wait to get in to the holiday spirit with my whole family.

Today I’m’ sharing ten fabulous yet easy DIY Christmas ornaments and decorations you can make with your children. These are not mom-does-it-for-them ideas, but activities kids can really do with you as their guide.

Ten Easy DIY Christmas Ornaments to Make with Kids

Crafting is great for fine motor skill practice as well as creating sweet mementos and memories.

You can find more fun ideas for a creative Christmas with kids here. If your little ones are still too young to help craft ornaments, try this toddler friendly mini tree decorated with bells.

1) Turn Your Child’s Art in to a Simple Holiday Garland from Bare Feet on the Dashboard – We took our our kids’ finger paintings and helped them make a festive garland to hang on the tree or around the house.

2) Easy Christmas Ornaments Made with Pipe Cleaners and Beads from Powerful Mothering – These are simple and make for great fine motor skill practice and look super cute hanging on the tree.

3) Simple Christmas Ornaments Made from Poms Poms and Popsicle Sticks from Coffee with Us – I love how much room for creativity this project allows. Every child’s creation will be unique.

4) Time Capsule Christmas Ornaments from Bare Feet on the Dashboard are really fun to make with kids and will provide sweet reminders of their childhood favorites for years to come.

5) DIY Glitter Ornaments from Glued to My Crafts – This one looks a little messy but fun. Glitter and I have a complicated relationship.

6) Glitter Monogram Ornament from Mama Papa Bubba – More glitter, but perfect for kids learning their names and the alphabet. If the thought of combining preschoolers with glitter gives you a headache, check out this tip for making glittery projects less messy.

7) Fun, Fill and Shake Ornaments from Craftulate keep the glitter and paint contained but give more fine motor practice and look really fun.

8) Gingerbread Man, Tree, and Star Printable Ornaments to Decorate from Powerful Mothering – These are great for a quick, printable craft and could be a great activity for a play date.

9) Yarn Wrapped Christmas Tree Ornament from Fantastic Fun and Learning are definitely on our to-make list this year.

10) Snowman Stuffed Ornaments from NateandRachael.com are so cute and easy to make.

10 Easy DIY Christmas Ornaments to Make with Kids

After you crafted a special ornament with your kids, check out my ideas for DIY holiday keepsakes for you. This DIY Baby’s 1st Christmas Footprint Ornament (for under $2) is my personal favorite.

I’d love for you to visit me on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram, to find more fun ideas and follow along on our adventures.

What are you crafting with your kids this holiday season?

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Fun Christmas Felt Activities for Toddlers

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Today’s awesome collection is by the lovely Monique of Living Life and Learning!

As we approach Christmas I love this time of year because there are so many great Christmas felt activities that you can do with your toddler. I’ve only started my own felt projects this year and it has been a blast both for me and my toddler as well. She is having a great time exploring as well as her imaginative play as she creates whatever scenes she wants with her felt board.

Felt is super easy to work with and it sticks to itself so it’s so fun for little ones to create and play with it.

Fun Christmas Felt Activities for Toddlers For those Frozen fans, we made our own Olaf Felt Snowman, this is my daughter’s favorite movie at the moment so it has been well received. He gets into some trouble in the movie and the felt allows her to move him into some fun positions just like the movie.

The Felt Play Scene from Kids Activities Blog is a great way to discuss shapes as your toddler decorates the tree or builds the snowman.

Who can have Christmas without Felt Gingerbread Men? We love baking and decorating these cookies so they were lots of fun to create out of felt as well. I tried to come up with a variety of shapes and colors so that we could decorate our gingerbread men while learning about shapes and colors as well. winter-felt-2 The Christmas Tree Felt Board from Teach Beside Me includes a template and 4 Christmas tree designs that your toddler could try to replicate as well.

The Snowflake Matching Busy Bag from Teach Beside Me gets your child matching with shapes so that they can recreate the same snowflake patterns on the cards.

Crafty Connections includes a printable template if you would like to create your own DIY Felt Story Board. winter-felt-1 Kitchen Counter Chronicles has a great tutorial for setting up your own Snow Day Felt Board for Kids which includes storage ideas as well.

If you’d like a full size felt board idea then you have to take a look at the Holiday Felt Board from Homegrown Friends.

Love Play Learn has a wonderful snowman song to go along with this Once There was a Snowman Felt Storyboard. winter-felt-3Kids Activities Blog has a great tutorial for a DIY felt board.

If you’re looking for more ways to use felt, take a peek at 20 more ways to learn with felt activities and this awesome no sew quiet book!

 

prof2

 

You can find Monique writing about homeschooling tips, activities and parenting at Living Life and Learning. She is a SAHM and homeschools her 3 children, they love notebooking, lapbooks and a relaxed approach to homeschooling.

Follow Nicolette | Powerful Mothering’s board Felt | Quiet Book on Pinterest.

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Fall Sensory Color Rice Bin

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Today’s gorgeous idea is by Amy from The Connection We Share.

Making fall colored rice sensory bins is a great way to bond with your children. I love this activity because it is very easy for kids to make, highly safe to play with, and demands a little creativity with role playing.

Here are some simple steps to make your own fall colored rice sensory bins.

fall-sensory-bins-color rice

1. Gather the Supplies

First, you need to gather the supplies for this activity. Gather some color rice, pine cones, chestnuts, cinnamon sticks. If you want it to be scented, you can also add cinnamon powder to it.

2. Dye the Rice

Since this is a fall themed sensory bin, try using browns, yellows and oranges as your color base. Use our no fail color rice recipe here!

If you like to make this scented, put in a tablespoon of cinnamon powder or pumpkin spice.

When all the rice is coated, pour the rice out into a large tub and let dry. This tub will be used to store all your rice so make sure to have a lid.

Repeat this process with different colors.

3. Add the Fun Stuff

When all your colored rice is dry, add anything fall themed like pinecones, leaves, cinnamon sticks, kernels, and chestnuts etc. Also, give your children some cups, small buckets, scoopers or even leftovers from your monthly craft box subscriptions for kids so they can really have fun with this.

easy-fall-sensory-bins

About Amy!

Amy Lee is the blogger behind The Connection We Share. She is a tea lover, a chocolate eater and a kale chip maker but most of all, she loves spending time with her children in their backyard. When Amy is not taking pictures of her kids, she spends time creating photo albums of her family. See her Blurb review to learn how you can use your photos to make heirloom albums of your children’s childhood. You can find Amy on Facebook and Google+.

Looking for more RICE PLAY ideas? Check out our Book!!

color rice activities play ebook

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20 Cute Christmas Crafts for Toddlers

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Hi, it’s Laura from Lalymom! I’m so thrilled to be writing a guest post for Nicolette while she is snuggling with her new baby! I remember being really in love with all her Christmas Crafts and Activities last year so it seemed fitting to share some more inspiration in that area.

These Christmas crafts for toddlers are great because they can all be done with the younger set and older kids too!

My toddler and preschooler would both have fun with these! I Hope they help you have a happy holiday season.

Christmas Crafts for Toddlers

20 Cute Christmas Crafts for Toddlers! With Lalymom.com and PowerfulMothering.com

Top row:

Toddler Made Christmas Ornament from Dirt and Boogers

Simple Toddler Made Wreath from Toddler Approved

Printable Gingerbread Ornaments to Decorate from Powerful Mothering

Easy Bubble Wrap Tree Ornament from Lalymom

Second row:

Christmas Tree Window Craft from Hands On As We Grow

Two Christmas Cards Little Kids Can Make from Mama Pea Pod

Toddler Made Christmas Wreaths from Sow Sprout Play

Super Simple Christmas Cards from Learn with Play at Home

Third row:

Tree and Baubles Toddler Craft from Craftulate

Hand Print Wreath from Lalymom

Pom Pom Painted Christmas Tree from Fantastic Fun and Learning

Build a Snowman Craft from Mama Papa Bubba

Fourth row:

Christmas Toddler Art from Lessons Learnt Journal

Easy Christmas Tree Craft for Toddlers from My Nearest and Dearest

Coffee Filter Trees from Happy Hooligans

Washi Tape Ornament from And Next Comes L

Bottom row:

Christmas Tree Water Bottle from Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

Scented Gingerbread Craft from Fun at Home with Kids

Paper Plate Christmas Tree from House of Burke

Hand Print Ornament from Sugar Aunts

If you like this be sure to check out the companion post over at Lalymom full of Toddler Christmas Activities as well as my collection of 25 Christmas Themed Fine Motor Crafts for Kids!

20 FUN Christmas Activities to do with Toddlers on Lalyom - I want to do some of these this year!

25 Fine Motor Christmas Art Projects for Kids from Lalymom

More about Laura: Laura is a Chicago stay-at-home mom to two sweet redheads: a son born in 2012 and daughter born in 2010, who are about as different from each other as can be. She keep her kids happy and learning by creating a mix of DIY Toys, quiet crafts and art projects as well as fun energy burners. Find out more on the Lalymom Blog and follow her on Facebook and Pinterest!

About Lalymom Chicago Area Mom Blogger at Lalymom.com

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10 Thanksgiving Crafts and Activities for Kids

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Hello Powerful Mothering readers! I am Devany from Still Playing School! I am thrilled to be putting together this Thanksgiving guest post round up for Nicolette because I am thankful for all of the inspiration she posts for me and you through her blog!

If you need crafts and activities to keep the little ones busy while you prep, bake, set the table, eat, and clean up Thanksgiving dinner here are ten of the top ideas for kids!

Lalymom’s Color Match Turkey is an excellent educational and fine motor activity to keep the little ones busy while dinner cooks!

Everyone has seen and made the classic and timeless hand print turkey but work with those cute feet too by making these Hand and Foot Print Turkeys from House of Burke!

This Thanksgiving Themed Sensory Bin from Still Playing School is the perfect invitation for kids to play!


Fun-A-Day’s Colorful Corn Mosaics result in beautifully open ended art!
This Fine Motor Turkey Activity from Two-daloo is adorably motivating!

Recycle a box to make a Turkey Diorama Fall Scene!

Decorate your home for the holiday with a family collaborative Thankful Banner inspired by Frogs, Snails, and Puppy Dog Tails!

Sing fun and interactive Thanksgiving Songs gathered by Fantastic Fun and Learning!

Paint a Foot Print Cornucopia to fill with a sticker harvest!

Mamas Like Me shows us how to create colorful Wine Cork Turkeys!
Cheers!
For more Thanksgiving posts and ideas please follow us our Thanksgiving Board on  Pinterest:
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Learning Phonics with Fall Leaves

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Today’s contribution is by Becky Spence the author of This Reading Mama!

It’s no surprise that learning phonics is an essential part of learning to read. And when it comes to teaching phonics skills, I much prefer hands-on activities (and for the most part, so do kids.) Sorting words is a great way to help kids see how words are connected, both in reading and in spelling. And with the beautiful leaves beginning to fall, why not use them to sort some words?

Learning Phonics with Fall Leaves

My Kindergartner has been working through the digraphs (sh, th, ch, & wh) with some picture sorts and various games I’ve created. I thought it was time to stick those digraphs into actual words for some word sorting with fall leaves.

Preparing our Phonics Activity

  • First, I brainstormed a list of short vowel words that started with th-, sh-, and ch- (6 words for each digraph). I picked short vowel words because he can already read and spell most simple short vowel words. Short vowels are a great place to start after kids know their letters and letter sounds because the spelling patterns in short vowel words are much more predictable than long vowel patterns.
  • The day before the activity, we spent some time collecting fall leaves together from our yard. Once I was sure I had enough, I placed them in a book to flatten them overnight.

writing phonics words on fall leaves

  • The next day, I wrote the 18 words with Sharpie on the fall leaves, each on a separate leaf.

Sorting our Phonics Words

  • First, we read through all the words together. I wanted to be sure he could read the words before we sorted them. The two sounds of th threw him off a little, but we had a good discussion about that.
  • Then, I explained that we were going to sort the words by the sound/letters at the beginning of the words.

sorting words by phonics pattern with digraphs

  • As he sorted each word, he practiced reading it again.
  • At the end, he counted each pile to discover they were all equal (6 leaves each).
  • We quickly reviewed the sounds of sh-, ch-, and th- again.

FIVE of my Favorite Things About Word Sorts

  1. They are hands-on, with the child manipulating the words (or sometimes pictures).
  2. They can be tailored to the skill the child needs, making them developmentally appropriate.
  3. They help kids see the connection that words can share, training kids to look for common patterns as they read and spell (a powerful strategy.)
  4. They work well for direct instruction or for the discovery method of learning.
  5. They are quick. Our leaf sorting lasted maybe 10 minutes, perfect timing for an active boy!

There’s an App for That!

Short Vowel Word Study app from This Reading MamaI recently launched an app based on word sorts called Short Vowels Word Study app. It is perfect for kids who are learning short vowel patterns or need more practice with them. It can be purchased on iTunes or Google Play for $2.99.

Becky Spence Headshot

Becky Spence is a blogger, author, speaker, and coffee drinker. She homeschools four, little blessings who keep her on her feet (and knees). She is the author of This Reading Mama, where she shares lots of reading and writing activities as well as free literacy curricula and printables. Her favorite online places to hang out are Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

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16 No Preparation Activities To Keep Toddlers Busy

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Guest post by Emma of Adventures of Adam

With the time pressures of modern living it’s not always possible to have time to prepare toddler play activities. Sometimes you just need to be able to grab something from the cupboard in order to entertain your little one. Here are 16 instant toddler activities that promise to deliver.

These activities are perfect if you are cooking tea, feeding a baby, feeling ill yourself or simply want to dry your hair without having a toddler attached to you. The activities are low mess, quick to set up whilst promoting independent play.

16 No Preparation Activities To Keep Toddlers Busy from PowerfulMothering.com

Items found around the house

Many everyday household items can be used in a variety of ways. They can help develop fine and gross motor skills, enhance your toddlers thinking skills and thought processes and help build your child’s self esteem as they accomplish new tasks. Around the house Do you have lots of old scratched CD’s and DVD’s?  See if your toddler can stack them onto the spindle of the container. The CD’s and DVD’s can also be used to catch sunlight reflections and view rainbows. Plastic coins make a great noise when they are posted through a metal money box. If your little one finds it too difficult just take the lid off. My toddler loves to hook old shower curtain hooks on to a broom handle. This is a great activity for hand-eye coordination. Whenever I need an emergency play activity I bring out the clothes pegs. My son really enjoys transferring them from one container to another or simply throwing them into a laundry basket.

Items from the kitchen cupboard

Although you wouldn’t necessarily think of a kitchen cupboard as a toddler resource area, there are some great items inside that can be used to entertain a little one. Kitchen cupboard Plastic cups are great for stacking. How many different ways can your toddler find to stack the cups? They can also be used for filling, aiding your child’s concept of volume. Grab a variety of kitchen cupboard items, preferably with holes in, and a packet of straws and see what activities your little one makes up. Spice containers are a perfect size for little hands. They can be stacked, shaken and placed in a line. Plastic spice containers are safest to use. Pushing pipe cleaners through the holes of a colander is super activity for fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

Recycling bin

Raid the recycling bin to see what items can be reused for a play activity. Recycle Bin Dig out those cardboard tubes. These are great for giant threading on to a broom handle. Post pipe cleaners into a recycled plastic bottle. Can your little one manage to get them out again? Free play with loose parts is a great way to develop toddlers’ fine motor skills. Simply give them some cardboard tubes and a variety of small craft items and watch them experiment with the items. Cut slits into the plastic lid of an old container and give your toddler some lollipop sticks. They will love posting them through the holes. Once they have all been posted simply open up the lid, tip the sticks out and start again.

Pom poms

We would be lost without pom poms in our house. As they come in all sizes and colours, the pom poms come out in any emergency play situation. Pom poms Placing a mirror on the floor is enough to distract any toddler. Give them some pom poms and a few cardboard tubes and they will be occupied for ages. Using a recycled wipe bin you can create a fantastic monster who simply loves to feed on pom poms. Placing tiny pom poms on top of sticker bath toys is a great activity for pincer practise. A recycled chocolate box tray makes a great container for pom poms. See if your toddler can sort the pom poms by colour or size.

Check out my other activities that do not require any preparation and how to entertain a toddler when you are ill.

About: During a difficult pregnancy suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) Emma vowed to make every day an adventure once she had recovered. Adventures of Adam is the outcome of completing a 100 day play challenge with her toddler as part of that promise. Emma has a section dedicated to HG friendly play activities so that women can entertain their children whilst they are ill.

Follow Emma on Facebook, Twitter,  Pinterest, and Instagram.

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Fine Motor Skill Activities with Pumpkins

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Hello Powerful Mothering readers, my name is Katie and I’m the mom of two curious 5-year-olds. I blog at Gift of Curiosity, where I share hands-on learning ideas, Montessori activities, as well as loads of educational printables for kids ages 2 to 7. I want to thank Nicolette for the opportunity to guest post here at Powerful Mothering so I can share some seasonal fine motor skills activities.

Pumpkins are ubiquitous this time of year. Every store I walk in to is selling pumpkins of one size or another! Today I’m going to share three ways your kids can get practice their fine motor skills using pumpkins.

Decorate a pumpkin using pins and buttons

I’ve always loved the mini pumpkins that appear in stores this time of year, usually costing just $1 or so. You can use these mini pumpkins to promote the development of fine motor skills by allowing your kids to decorate them using pins and buttons.

To do this activity, I put some fabric pins and buttons on a tray along with a mini pumpkin. I demonstrated for my kids how to stick the buttons on the pumpkin by pushing the pins through the button holes into the flesh of the pumpkin. And then I let them get creative with their decorating. Their little fingers had to really work to get the pins in, but they had so much fun and were so proud of their decorated pumpkins when they were through.

Fine motor activities with pumpkins 1 - pinning pumpkins

Polish a pumpkin with water

I love the Montessori approach to education, and I feature many Montessori activities on my blog. This pumpkin polishing activity is a typical Montessori practical life activity that develops children’s fine motor skills. It was amazing to see how much fun my kids had polishing a pumpkin!

For this activity, I put a pumpkin and a spray bottle filled with water on a tray. I also included a washcloth and a Q-tip. I showed my kids how to spray water on their pumpkins. Using a spray bottle is a great way to strengthen little fingers!

Fine motor activities with pumpkins 2 - pumpkin polishing

I then showed my kids how to use the washcloth and Q-tip to polish their pumpkins. My kids really got into this activity and had their pumpkins squeaky clean by the time they were done. And best of all, along the way they got in some great fine motor practice.

Fine motor activities with pumpkins 3 - pumpkin polishing

Smash a pumpkin with a hammer

Smashing a pumpkin with a hammer is a great activity to do with your leftover Halloween pumpkins or jack-o-lanterns. My son went crazy for this activity!

Safety is paramount with this activity, of course. You need to ensure that the hammer is not too heavy for your child to use safely. We used a real hammer, but a very light weight one that he could easily manage on his own. I recommend a lightweight hammer like this one from Montessori services. We also showed my son how to use the hammer so he would hit the pumpkin rather than miss and end up hitting himself in the leg or foot.

And although my son is not wearing goggles in the picture below, some sort of protective eye gear would be an excellent idea. I also recommend doing this activity in open space where no one will get hurt and nothing will get broken. We did this activity in the middle of our backyard lawn.

Once you’ve taken care of the safety issues, the idea is to let your child use the hammer to smash the pumpkin to smithereens. This activity is highly motivating for many kids, so it should give them plenty of fine motor practice as they work.

Fine motor activities with pumpkins 4 - smashing a pumpkin

By sharing these fine motor practice ideas, I hope I’ve inspired you to use seasonal items to present fine motor skills activities to your children. If you enjoyed these ideas, I invite you to check out the many other fine motor activities I share at Gift of Curiosity.

Fine motor practice with pumpkins || Gift of Curiosity

Katie SG is the proud mom of two curious kids, a 5-year-old son and a 5-year-old daughter. She shares hands-on learning activities and educational printables at Gift of Curiosity. You can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and Twitter.

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15 Ways to Learn Shapes

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Today’s post is by Georgina Bomer of Craftulate!

Here are 15 super fun and creative ways for young kids to learn all about shapes. How about using an abacus, looking in nature or making a page for a quiet book?

15 Ways to Learn Shapes

15 Ways to Learn Shapes

Grab an Abacus! – As well as being great for maths practice, this classic toy is also great for working on shape recognition with younger kids.

Busy Bag Learning – This busy bag idea comes with a free printable and is great for working on colors and numbers too.

Look in Nature! – There are shapes all over the place in the natural world – so get outside and go on a shape scavenger hunt.

Shape Puzzle for Train Lovers – There are loads of ways to play with this puzzle – just download the template and cut the pieces from craft foam. They stick to the sides of the bath and you could also add magnets.

Go Big – Tape out giant shapes on the floor and send the kids off looking for items that match the shapes.

Quiet Book Page – Quiet books are a great tool for learning! This tutorial demonstrates how to make a learning shapes page – no sewing required!

Break out the Play Dough – Use shape cookie cutters with play dough for some imaginative learning.

Matching Blocks – This activity needs a bit of preparation – but any size or shape blocks can be used for this fun matching puzzle.

Cutting Practice – Combine learning shapes with some cutting practice with this simple idea!

Get Moving! – Incorporate some gross motor fun into this energetic game of Shape Hopscotch!

Pizza Time – Let kids have fun with their food with this pizza craft made from different shapes.

Sandpaper and Felt – This matching game has a great textural element too! The felt shapes will “stick” to the sandpaper!

Let there be Light – If you have a light table then this is a great way to engage your children in learning shapes.

3D Shape Sorter – Make your own shape sorter to use with foam shapes. Great for fine motor practice too.

Mice and Dice – This shape game uses customized dice and is based on the book Mouse Shapes.

Today’s post is by Georgina Bomer of Craftulate, which features a wide range of art, crafts and activities for young children. To get more creative ideas follow Craftulate on FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram or YouTube!

Follow Nicolette | Powerful Mothering’s board Kids Learning Letters, Numbers, Shapes & Color on Pinterest.

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How to Look at Art with Toddlers and Preschoolers

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Guest Post by Cindy Ingram of The Art Curator for Kids

Powerful Mothering and many other blogs are filled with fun arts and crafts activities to bring the joy of art to your littles, but today I am going to focus on how to look at and talk about works of art throughout art history with your kids so they can make art a powerful part of their lives.

In preparation for this post, I brought this idea to some of my friends who also have young kids at home but don’t spend their lives immersed in art history as I do as a full-time art teacher and art education blogger. I asked them why they didn’t look at and talk about art with their young kids. We talked about the fear of our kids running amok in art museums, not knowing enough about art to get started, and barely getting by with the whole exhausting keeping-kids-alive task we are charged with day in and day out.

One of my friend’s answers really stood out to me. She said, “truthfully, I haven’t thought about it.” I think that really is one of the primary barriers parents have when looking at art with their kids. They just don’t think about it. Well, now by reading this, you are thinking about it! Read further to learn how to take the next step. Then, give it a shot and let me know in the comments how your art exploration went with your kids.

Powerful Mothering Guest Post - The Art Curator for Kids - How to Look at Art with Young Kids

Why should I look at art with my kids when I can barely manage to take a shower?

This is a tough one. Yes, shower first, but I believe that art can be as integral to a child’s understanding of the world as reading. When you look at art frequently with your kids, it opens them up to different cultures and viewpoints. Art teaches a person about themselves and others. They become more empathetic. And, “research shows that not only does studying the arts improve skills in math and reading, but it also promotes creativity, social development, personality adjustment, and students’ feeling of self-worth” (Source: Lysa Heslov at Huffington Post and NASBE Study Group on the The Lost Curriculum).

Do I have to go to an art museum? If not, how do I show my kids the artworks?

I love art museums and find them to be valuable places for families, but you don’t have to go to a museum to enjoy looking at art. Museums may just be too much hassle until the kids are older.

the Art Curator for Kids - How to Look at Art with Young Kids

I find the best way to look at art with kids is on the computer or on an iPad/tablet. The majority of my own conversations about art with my kids are around the computer screen when I am working on PowerPoints for my art lessons. They see a picture on my screen as they walk by, are drawn to it, make a comment, and we go from there!

You also can look at artworks in books. Check out art coffee table books or books about art made especially for kids from the library. I especially love the Can you find it? and Can you hear it? books from the Met Museum in NYC. Flip through and find something that catches your eye.

Which artworks should I choose?

The best answer for this is any artwork that you or your kids find interesting and fun to look at. It doesn’t really matter. Just like with music or books, just follow your family’s personal tastes. I also find that the best artworks to choose for the toddler and preschooler set are those with a strong narrative component.

Marc Chagall, The Violinist, 1912-1913, Oil on canvas, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

To help you with this, I have compiled a collection of 20 great artworks that are perfect to use with toddlers and preschoolers on my blog. I also have my Curated Homeschool series with more collections of artworks to use at home which include some targeted looking questions you can use to start the discussion.

How do I talk about art with my kids? What should I say?

Follow the child’s lead. They know exactly what to say and how to do this. You can also think about what you do when you are looking at picture books with your kid. Let them point things out and describe the scene. Talk about what is interesting to you and to them. With little kids (or anyone really), you don’t need to get all technical with them or know all sorts of art vocabulary. Just enjoy it.

Try these questions are a great starting place for looking at art with your toddler or preschooler.

  • What is happening in this picture?
  • What do you notice?
  • What do you like about this picture?
  • What do you think [the figures in the artwork/the artist/etc.] are thinking/imagining?
  • What do you think [the figures in the artwork/the artist/etc.] are feeling?
  • What colors/shapes/lines/textures do you see?
  • Can you pose/move like the figure in the artwork?
  • What do you think will happen next in the story?

the Art Curator for Kids - How to Look at Art with Young Kids2

Thanks for reading, and I hope you try this out with your littles! Please let me know in the comments if you tried it out or pop over to my blog for more art history resources and posts.

Bio: Cindy is an art teacher and work at home mom of two daughters ages 2 and 5 in Dallas, TX. She muses about art, education, and kids at the Art Curator for Kids.

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20 Easy Learning Activities for Toddlers

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Today’s resourceful post is contributed by the lovely Tarana Khan at Sand In My Toes!

The one thing that I can count on my three year old to do is ask questions. He is so curious about the world around him, and his questions reflect his immense desire to learn. Clearly, there’s no better phase than toddler hood to learn new things. But the other thing with toddlers is that they are excitable and can barely sit still. So, ‘learning’ cannot really happy in the traditional sense. If you want to teach your toddler a thing or two, you will have to get down to their level, and play with them!

There are hundreds of ideas out there (and this blog itself is a great resource on learning) to develop skills and learning in toddlers and preschoolers. You can’t find the time to do them everyday, though. You may have other kids to take care of, or chores to do.

So, here’s a list of 20 ideas that can be set up fairly easily with little resources, and promise lots of learning opportunities.

20 Easy Learning Activities for Toddlers from PowerfulMothering.com

Learning numbers

You can set up a number hunt with only some Post-It Notes or paper and a marker. Toddlers will love looking for numbers around the house, and will learn them in order too.

Balloons make toddlers happy so they’ll have fun playing this balloon dice game to practice counting.

For this parking lot number activity, all you need is some toy cars, markers, and a sheet of paper. If you have a car-loving toddler, this is the perfect game to promote number recognition.

Stickers are a wonderful teaching material, and a favorite with toddlers. Try this sticker sorting number game for a fun way to learn numbers.

Learning numbers

Learning letters

This alphabet recognition and matching activity is sure to keep your toddler busy for a while. It involves cutting, pasting and recognizing letters, and includes a free printable.

This name treasure hunt is another fun way to recognize letters and objects, and would also work well with random letters for toddlers.

For this chalkboard maze game, all you really need is a toddler willing to learn! It’s very simple to set up, and helps in identifying letters.

Learning letters

This playdough prewriting activity is sure to be a hit with your toddler, as it involves playdough and colourful straws. It is aimed at teaching letter recognition and prewriting practice.

Another simple activity is this alphabet watering garden which your toddler will love playing while they recognize letters.

tot letter learning

Learning shapes

You don’t need much more than cardboard tubes, paint, and paper for this cardboard roll stamping activity to help with shape recognition.

Cut out some colored paper for this simple paper shapes puzzle and watch your toddler put their mind to work!

Another fun activity is to set up this shape block table top with masking tape and wooden blocks.

Since toddlers love to discover for themselves, they will enjoy finding shapes this salt box discovery activity.

Learning shapes

Learning colors

I love recycling material for playing and learning, so this egg carton color sort activity is perfect for fun with colors!

Free play is a great learning experience so just letting your toddler explore colors with droppers is something they’ll love.

It is really easy to set up this color wheel hunt and help your toddler identify and pick colored objects around the house.

Learning colors

Other skills

Apart from teaching the basic concepts, you can focus on developing those gross and fine motor skills through play.

This matching lids memory game will help your toddler identify patterns, objects, and colors, while improving memory skills. All you need are some foam stickers and jar lids!

Try this fruit stick-on puzzle for a fun way to improve hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and pattern and shape recognition.

How much simpler can you get than paperclips? Try making this paperclip busy bag with free printable, and keep your toddler busy for a while!

These craft stick magnets are also easy to set up, and can be used to learn shapes, letters, or just for free play.

Other skills for early learning

Learning opportunities are all around you, and since toddlers are easily entertained, there are so many activities you can do with things around your house! I hope this list gave you some ideas to start with.

Tarana Khan at Sand In My ToesTarana Khan is mom to a toddler, living an expat life. She loves writing and has done her stints as a copywriter, reporter and content editor, before embracing parenthood full time.

She blogs at Sand In My Toes, where you can drop by to read more of her parenting and other adventures! Tarana also has a series called Busy Hands where you can find more activities and craft for toddlers and preschoolers.

You can also catch up with her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Google+.

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3 Ingredient Glowing Taste Safe Cloud Dough Recipe

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This month’s sensory dough is all about glowing dough! This recipe is for, what else, a taste safe cloud dough that glows!

For the entire year we have been making various sensory doughs from homemade moonsand, cloud dough to slime dough. Our spin on all these recipes is that they are taste safe so that if your little one were to put some in their mouth they would be just fine.

Disclaimer: Please note taste safe is just that “taste safe”, this does not mean eating spoonfuls of the sensory dough. This recipe uses a vitamin to make it glow and any vitamin can be toxic if too much is consumed. Read the ingredients and know your child. Supervised play is always recommended. If your child is likely to eat cloud dough please take a look at our edible playdough recipe here. Also as a note, this post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

Three Ingredient Taste Safe Glowing Cloud Dough - a kid friendly play recipe guest post by Lalymom on PowerfulMothering.com - wow this looks so cool!

Today’s Cloud Dough recipe is brought to you by our friend Laura over at Lalymom….

Hi, it’s me Laura! Thank you for the chance to guest post! It might seem like a strange thing to want to guest post for a recurring series but my friend Nicolette here lives in a place where taste safe glowing ingredients are hard to come by. I said I’d be happy to guest post so she wouldn’t have to skip this month.

Honestly I’m so glad I did it! This was SO fun! And this is coming from a mom who is pretty averse to mess! My kids needed me to have this push to get out of my comfort zone! It led to a lot of experimentation and neat discoveries with my four year old!

After you check out this recipe you should check out the two ways I found to recycle this cloud dough and make it into two more taste-safe glowing play recipes- as well as the other GLOWING awesomeness from the other 12 Months of Sensory Dough Bloggers!

So! Glowing Cloud Dough! To start with I should say that this play recipe is inspired by Nicolette’s super simple taste safe play recipes as well as Asia from Fun at Home with Kids and all her crazy awesome glowing play recipes.

In Asia’s post about Safe and Edible Glowing Water for Bath and Play she uses a specific vitamin to make the water glow. The whole recipe is on her site along with links to the vitamin she used. We actually had a similar vitamin in our medicine cabinet (although twice the strength) so I used that.

This recipe can be prepared ahead of time but I prepared it along with my 4 year old and found it really fun to witness the glowing alchemy-like action together! I kept asking her if she thought it would glow at each step and we would turn the black light on and off for each step.

The part you DON’T see is that we actually experimented with a few other taste safe potentially-glowing ingredients, with varying degrees of success, but none really glowed when combined with so much of our dry ingredients. So when we got THIS reaction below we were both pretty excited! Here is how we did it! If you try it I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

How to Make Glowing, Taste Safe Cloud Dough

Materials:

Corn Starch

1-2 of these Vitamins as mentioned

Cooking Oil (Olive, canola, vegetable, etc.)

Water (I don’t count that as an ingredient, you don’t have to buy it!)

A Black light (We got ours here but they are also on Amazon)

Shallow dish or container (ours was a 9X13 Pyrex dish)

Mixing utensils such as a fork or spoon

Play tools such as cups, scoops, and whatever else you like! We used our super fave plastic happy face shot glasses….which sadly no longer show up on the SciPlus website!)

Directions:

Take one or two of your vitamins and crush it to a powder. I used a mortar and pestle but placing it in a zip-top bag and using a rolling pin would also work. It should be a very fine powder. We ended up using two full pills worth because a certain preschooler got ahead of me. I suspect you would be fine with only one but it would be brighter with two.

Pour 1 1/2 cups of corn starch into your dish. Pour the vitamin dust on top. Stir well to combine. When the normal lights are on you should see the powder will look yellow-ish. Feel free to check it out under the black light before the next step. Did you stir it? Okay let’s go!

Recipe for Glowing Taste Safe Cloud Dough - Super fun play recipe from Lalymom of PowerfulMothering.com - wow cool!

Keep your black light on for this part. It’s the exciting part. Pour a drizzle (like a tablespoon) of oil in and then about 3 tablespoons of water. (This was the coolest part, to see the glowing water!) You will probably add more later but start with that. Mix it up and watch how the glowing parts spread. COOL! The orange is actually the olive oil!

Making Taste Safe Glowing Cloud Dough from Lalymom on PowerfulMothering.com - cool alchemy affect!

Keep mixing and mixing, scraping it off the bottom and continually breaking up and clumps you find. We used spoons and forks.

Once it is all incorporated see if it glows fully under the black light and if it clumps when you smush it in your hand. If the answer to either one is no, you need more water. Ours looked like smoldering yellow ashes at one point. If you see dark peaks of cornstarch under the black light, then keep going with the water. Repeat the process adding a couple spoonfuls of water each time. I would say we probably added a total of half cup but I would not want you to overdo it!

How to Make Glowing Taste Safe Cloud Dough by Lalymom on PowerfulMothering.com

Once you get it fully mixed it will have a universal yellow glow and will clump and mold nicely in your hand. It’s time to play! Add in the scoops, cups and other tools!

Super Cool Glowing Cloud Dough that is Taste Safe for Toddlers and Preschoolers - Play recipe by Lalymom on PowerfulMothering.com

The texture of this sensory dough is soft and fluffy. It feels slightly damp but does not leave a wet feeling on your hands. It leaves a slight dust on your hands. You can keep a wash cloth or wipes nearby if this would bother you or your kids.

Super Cool Play Recipe for Glowing Taste Safe Cloud Dough - by Lalymom on Powerful Mothering.com - such a cool kids activity!

It also looks pretty in the day light and my daughter came back later to play with it in the sink where I stashed it to go run errands. (Mental note, we should just do our messy play in the sink now that she can reach inside! Ha!)

Awesome Kids Play Recipe for Glowing Cloud Dough - Taste Safe Ingredients too! From lalymom on PowerfulMothering.com

It held up pretty well too, even later in the day after it had dried out a little we could still mold it!

Taste Safe Cloud Dough that Actually Glows! Cool play recipe for kids from Lalymom on PwerfulMothering.com
That’s it. That’s the story! Hope you liked it! If so, please do pin it to share!

Taste Safe Play Recipe for Kids - Glowing Cloud Dough by Lalymom on PowerfulMothering.com - this looks SO cool!




BONUS: If you like this play recipe, come check out my two companion posts today over at Lalymom! In one I share the Secret Ingredient that takes this Glowing Taste-Safe Cloud Dough Recipe and turns it into Colorful Glowing Taste-Safe Oobleck!

The other one takes this recipe, adds water and another secret ingredient to make Taste-Safe Glowing Bath Paints! Is your head exploding from excitement? I *KNOW*… mine TOO!

Cool Play Recipe for Three Ingredient Taste Safe Glowing Bath Baints on Lalymom.com - holy COW are these cool! Perfect for my preschooler and toddler!

Four Ingredient Glowing Taste Safe Oobleck - Super Fun Play Recipe for kids on Lalymom.com - So much messy fun for toddlers or preschoolers!

 

Take a look at what my co-hosts got up to with glowing dough this month! Also catch up on all our 12 months of sensory dough right here, as they happen!

Lemon Lime Adventure~Look! We’re Learning!~Glittering Muffins~Still Playing School~ Little Bins for Little Hands~Natural Beach Living~The Eyes of a Boy~Powerful Mothering~ Wildflower Ramblings~I Heart Crafty Things~Delightful Learning~Life of Jennifer Dawn~Sugar Aunts


Follow Nicolette | Powerful Mothering’s board Taste Safe Play on Pinterest.

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Picking the Perfect Baby Name

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Todays post is by Holly!

Holly Easterby is someone who finds joy in seeing infants and parents share precious moments together. She encourages parents to make the right choices for their kids through her written works for Bonza Brats and in blogs like this one. In this article, she will be giving tips on how to pick the perfect name for your kid.

Are you expecting a little baby soon? Then no doubt, you must have already done a little bit of shopping for some cutesy baby toys and accessories. But have you considered your baby’s name? If not, then you should get started. Let the tips below help you find the perfect one for your small boy or girl.

Picking the Perfect Baby Name from PowerfulMothering.com

Ways to Choose Baby Names

  1. Get trendy and crazy. Modern baby names can have its benefits. Your child will have a name that will fit his generation. While this may be so, this can also have its drawbacks. More than one kid might have the same name in school. What other parents do is change the spelling of the name to make it unique.
  2. Pick a positive characteristic. Instead of regular names, you can name your kid a positive characteristic. What are the characteristics that you want to see in your child? Do you want your small girl to be someone who gives hope? Then you can name her Hope. If he’s a boy, would you want him to be courageous? The name him Courage. Other popular baby names that speak of human characteristics are Faith, Charity, Love, and Charity.
  3. Let different cultures be your guide. Instead of copying the names of popular Hollywood artists, why not consider naming your kid according to baby names in different countries? There are many websites that categorized baby names according to their traditional roots. For example, African baby names will include Asha, Adisa, Charlize, and Obi.
  4. Rely on their meanings. Many names have meanings tied to them. Some of these are considered positive, while others leave nothing so much to be desired about. Your child may protest being named Arnalda, but telling her this means “strong as an eagle” could make a difference. Now Claudia may not be able to appreciate her name once she finds out this means “lame”.
  5. Go classic. Out of baby name ideas? Then you can always opt to go timeless with your baby’s name. Unlike current popular baby names, classic names will never be outdated. A few decades from now, your child’s name will still sound as good at the time when you chose to have this written down in the birth certificate. Examples of classic baby girl names include Anna, Alice, Caroline, Beatrice, Charlotte, Julia, Irene and Rebecca. For a baby boy, top baby name choices include William, Michael, Ethan, Daniel, Alexander, Noah, Gabriel, Andrew, and Raphael.

Final Thoughts

Unless you live in a country that does not have any restrictions when it comes to changing names legally, then your kid will be stuck his birth name for the rest of his life. So when it comes to naming your kid, choose wisely. Make this one of the fondest memories for your baby. Remember that when you call out your child’s name when he’s older, the name should at least be pleasant enough to make your kid smile back at you.

Author: Holly Easterby

picture8Holly’s love for children has seen her featured in many education and children websites, whether talking about healthy snacks, motivating students or children’s fashion at Bonza Brats. Holly loves reading books, and shopping is her way of spending time with her young family. If you would like to catch her, you can via Google+ or Twitter: @HollyEasterby

 

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Home Schooling Resources: Teach Like A Pro!

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Today’s post is by Jade!

Jade Benny loves learning. She wants other people to similarly have this passion too, that is why she shares teaching resources in Inspire Education and in blogs like this one. In here, she will be telling you some of the websites that provide teaching resources that can be used for home schooling.

Home Schooling Resources: Teach Like A Pro! from PowerfulMothering.com

For some moms and dads, traditional schooling for kids is not a viable option. Why? It’s not always just because parents can’t afford it. Some of them opt to home school children because both parents are always travelling, tagging along their kids. For others, they just want to have more quality time with their kids.

Other parents on the other hand may have read about the benefits of home schooling, one of which is having the ability to nurture children’s natural inclinations such as dancing or music. If you want to try this on your kids, you need not worry too much about it. There are now online teaching resources that could help you make this a success.

Some Online Teaching Resources

Parents, since you are designating yourself as your kid’s educator, then you should start thinking like a teacher. Instead of just relying on your own knowledge, you may be able to find help in these websites.

1. Living Montessori Now. The Montessori way of learning is focused on hands-on learning that is tailor-fit in accordance to the needs and learning curves of students. This principle is not just effective in traditional environments but can also be used for home schooling programs. Living Montessori Now offers valuable resources you could use such as teaching materials that can be bought from the website. For parent teachers, the website also offers theoretical and practical information on how to teach kids at home following Montessori principles.

2. JumpStart. If your kids are the type to engage in games rather than read their textbooks, then JumpStart may be the best way to teach them at home. To make learning more exciting, JumpStart has formed a close relationship with DreamWorks Animation, a partnership that produced some of the most entertaining educational mobile learning applications to date. This caters to several areas of interest such as Science, Math, History and Art to name a few.

3. EducationWorld. This is an online resource for teachers, school administrators and parents alike. This offers a wide array of learning resources such as printables, worksheets, curates briefs, and a constant stream of helpful columns and articles. EducationWorld has been providing free resources since 1996.

4. 8notes. Aside from academics, parents could choose to enhance other skills in children. For example, 8notes offers music sheets for those who are interested in music. This has music sheets coming from several genres that include classical, jazz, pop rock and children’s music.

Final Thoughts

As you see, the Internet will be giving you a vast number of resources. Take note that you may need to choose resources in accordance to your country’s learning standards. For example, type ‘learning resources Australia’ if you are living in this country so that you will be able to see the ones offered in here.

To add a twist to learning, you can divert from the use of ready-made teaching resources. Instead of these, you and your child can make up your own unique activities such as the use of foam mats for learning.

jade benny avatarAuthor: Jade Benny

Jade creates well researched content for Inspire Education and is also a regular contributor to other education and self-improvement related blogs. She loves reading, writing short stories, spending time with friends and family (over red wine, of course) and listening to music. You can get her on Google+ or via Twitter: @MsJadeBenny

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5 Fun Places to Read to Make Storytime Extra Special

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Today’s post is by Sarah!

Sarah Mueller is a homeschool mom of 4 boys from toddler to teen. She loves helping busy moms use simple systems to help their homes run more smoothly. You can connect with her at Early Bird Mom.

Stories aren’t just for bedtime. Spice up your read-aloud routine with a change in location.

5 Fun Places to Read to Your Kids

Here are 5 ideas for fun places to read aloud:

  1. At the breakfast table. A captive audience is more likely to listen, right? Even the most ordinary breakfast is more special if there’s a good story to go along with it.
  2. Take it outside. Spread a blanket under a tree and enjoy a picture book. When the story is over, your little one can run off to play. Bonus points if you pick a nature-themed book! Blanket fort for reading books
  3. In a pillow fort. Your child will be thrilled if you join him in a super-secret spot made of couch cushions and blankets. When you’re done reading, leave him with a pile of books and he may choose to keep looking at pictures on his own.
  4. In the bathtub. Find a beach or water-themed story and act it out with some bath toys. Your child will think you’re the best parent ever!
  5. Under the table. Make a tent by using a large sheet over the table.

If you’re wondering why reading to kids is so important, take a look at my 9 reasons to read to your kids this summer.

Where is your favorite place to read to your kids?

Photos by Sarah Mueller

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Keeping Your Kids Away from Unexpectedly Dangerous Things at Home

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Written by Jeanette Anzon. Jeanette is a DIY-er, a Home Stylist and a writer. She runs the blog AdventureDweller.com.

Because most of us lead fast-paced lifestyles on a daily basis, we often overlook caring for the safety of our kids. I, for one, am guilty of constantly leaving my kids around at home, unattended. As a result, it’s not uncommon for me to find my kids getting into accidents.

I have learned through time, though, to put extra effort in doing my best to be mindful of my kids’ safety at home, even during occasions that I am struggling to juggle multiple tasks at the same time. To ensure kids and family safety, we need to prioritize the needs of our loved ones, despite being caught up with the hustle and bustle of our daily lives.

Image by Tom Carmony

Keeping your Kids Safe

Sharp objects attack

I make sure that knives, scissors and other sharp objects around the house are kept properly in safe storage areas. Carelessness can bring about the unexpected. I can just never be sure when and how my kids’ curiosity will perk up. Kids are naturally playful, without being aware of the danger that their actions may bring.

Value of age-appropriateness

My preschool-aged kids love to play with the stuff they explore. I have a backyard playground at home, and often, my little ones go out of our house to explore the wonders of our residential playground. In fact, they constantly wander to our backyard without me being aware of it!

I make sure that I only keep preschool age-appropriate playground equipments, such as tiny swings, in my backyard. By having such equipments in my backyard, I get the peace of mind that my kids won’t accidentally hurt themselves, even when I’m not closely watching over them every minute. Most of kids’ physical injuries occur in the playground. Therefore, maintaining playground safety for your kids plays an important role in parenting and child-rearing.

Pool safety

My kids love playing with water every weekend when school is out. Things got difficult for me when I couldn’t take time to watch over my kids while they’re splashing around the water. Worries about their safety nag me, while at the same time; I couldn’t leave my pending household chores undone.

To maximize my kids’ safety, I decided to put up a kiddie pool in our backyard for them to play in. Additionally, I made my kids wear a life-preserver to support their safety when there is no adult watching over them every moment they’re out swimming.
Watch out for heat stroke

I used to be guilty in overlooking the dangers bad weather conditions bring to my kids; one of the most common mistakes that other parents also commit. Now, I’ve learned the hard way that heat stroke can cost my child’s life without me being aware of it. I almost lost my 2-year old daughter from heat stroke a few months ago. I didn’t think that having no air-conditioner can possibly cause such fatality. Thank goodness immediate liquid intake saved my kid’s life.

I immediately bought an air-conditioner and installed it in all rooms in our house, after being traumatized by that incident. Thank God I still have my daughter, as my family will not be complete without her in it.

Some plants can poison you

I know for a fact that my kids love to satisfy their curiosity by exploring some new stuff around the house. To be on the safer side, I decided to install security devices in the form of CCTV cameras in several areas of my house.

One unexpectedly dangerous thing at home that can almost always bring about fatality is a poisonous plant. Thanks to the CCTV camera I have in my front porch, I can constantly supervise if my kids get near or touch these plants. I’m immediately alerted to take the appropriate action when I see my kids in the camera getting near these plants, subsequently avoiding fatalities even before they occur.

Stranger threat

I’ve heard my neighbors getting home break-ins. A break-in is the last thing I would ever want for my home. Because of their innocence, my kids are vulnerable to strangers. Sometimes, they open the door to anyone who knocks, despite not knowing who the visitor is. A sensor alarm system in my house alerts me when my kids are about to open the door upon hearing someone knocking. After being alerted, I check out the visitor through the door’s peeping hole before I decide to open the door myself.

I was able to purchase the alarm system, despite my tight budget, as an alarm system store in our neighborhood sold it at a discounted price. I don’t know what I would have done without this alarm system, if it wasn’t sold at a discounted price, since money was hard for me at some point in time.

As a parent, it is my top priority to manage my home’s suitability for raising kids. Huge responsibility comes along with my desire to raise a family. My kids give me inspiration to be the best mom that I can be. I need to make sure I can be the mom my kids can rely on, not only through the good times, but also when times get tough.

———-

Thank you to Jeanette for sharing with us today! Please do visit her blog AdventureDweller.com.

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15 Ideas to Use your *POOL* Noodle

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Today’s post is by Emma!

Emma Craig is a SAHM to a 5-year-old girl. Besides blogging at P is for Preschooler, she likes to find fun and simple ideas to keep her daughter playing and learning. And, of course, she loves pool noodles!

Who knew how versatile pool noodles could be? Certainly not me, at least not until I discovered the big wide world of Pinterest!

15 ideas to use your pool noodles with from PowerfulMothering.com

Here are some of my favorite ideas for using pool noodles, aside from their intended pool purpose. You can make:

  1. Cute bees from And Next Comes L – and these ones can even “fly!”
  2. Busy Bag Blocks. Coffee Cups and Crayons cut theirs into different shapes for building.
  3. But just cutting them into chunky blocks is fun too, as I Can Teach My Child shows
  4. StampsCrafting in the Rain used them on pillow cases to wonderful effect
  5. Fun-A-Day used them to make lovely artwork, among other things.
  6. Indoor basketball hoops from Ever Never Again (great for when you’re stuck in the house!)
  7. Use with toothpicks to make sculptures from Play Based Learning 
  8. This fun outdoor game from Jen’s Brain Things
  9. Swords from Rubber Boots and Elf Shoes (Also like the rules she gives her kids for the sword play)
  10. pom pom shooter (Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails)
  11. Marble run. We made a basic one and an then an even simpler one, while Mama Papa Bubba made a fun water slide version.
  12. A backyard obstacle course, including hurdles, from Learn Play Imagine 
  13. Water bin, like this one from Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails.
  14. Use them as giant beads for stringing, like Money Saving Mom did for a busy bag.
  15. Or add numbers to them with a marker and make a counting caterpillar like From the Hive.

What do you like to do with pool noodles?
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Great Father’s Day Gift Ideas He’ll Love!

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With Father’s Day 2014 right around the corner (it’s June 15th, not that you didn’t know!) mums everywhere are wracking their brains as to what to get the kids’ favourite man this year.

Getting something he’ll really love shouldn’t be too difficult as dads are easy to please, but if you do want something he will be really pleased with, we’ve come up with a few ideas to help you out. You can even add some DIY elements to the gifts that the kids will get involved with too, which is bound to put a smile on dad’s face this year!

Great Fatherss Day Gift Ideas He will Love!

A special portrait of the two of them together

You could frame or mount his favourite picture of himself with the kids and display it on the wall for all to see. You could get the kids to write a message like ‘I love you dad’ and hold it up for the photo which looks really sweet and makes it even more personal to father’s day. Or you could even go that extra mile and get some professional family photos done! Companies like Venture Photography do gift options which are a great idea for special occasions.

Something cute for the office

If daddy could majorly benefit with something to brighten his day when he’s at work, something nice for the office or his desk at work is a good idea. Things like photo upload mugs with a photo of the little ones on are a nice idea, or things like photo upload mouse mats or coasters. You can even get personalised diaries and calendars too which is bound to make him smile whilst he’s making lots of arrangements. Or if you want to go for more of a token gift, an engraved pen is sure to go down well.

fathers day family gift ideas

A ‘family night in’ gift pack

How about a gift for the whole family, but centred around dad? Organise a family night in and put together a gift pack filled with things he loves, and lots of sweet ideas from the kids. Fill a box or hamper with all the things you need for a family night, including his favourite film, a bottle of his favourite tipple, favourite snacks and perhaps a takeaway menu for his favourite restaurant. That’s sure to put a smile on his face and won’t cost too much either, and the kids will love getting involved in putting all of it together.

A gift set of his favourite smellies

Dads are often overlooked when it comes to pampering and indulging with toiletries, but they love looking after themselves just as much as we do! Help give dad a night off and a night to rejuvenate himself by giving him a lovely gift set of luxury smellies. We love the ones available at Molton Brownas they’re just that little bit more special and are unlikely to be something he’d buy for himself, which is what occasions like this are all about.

 

This post is contributed by Venture Photography.

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How Play Dough Can be One of the Best Teaching Tools

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This guest post was written by Lumi Dough.

While teaching kindergarten kids looks like a fun and interesting career, ask someone who plays teacher to 3 year olds every single day and you will come to know how tough it is to handle the tiny tots. They ask you weird questions and give weirder answers, most of which are things that their parents feed their tiny brains. It is a teacher’s job to teach the toddlers the things that they ought to learn. From mathematics to English to shapes to other subjects, there are so many things that little ones have to learn about.

Worse, leaving a few, almost all of them seem to hate books and studies. How do you make them stick to one place and get their counting right? Teachers understand that kids are creative and inquisitive by nature. Therefore, they prefer role plays and games over books and black boards. Therefore, teachers always have to introduce new ways of learning.

Expand Playdough play with other Toys shapes

Play dough seems to be the favorite of many teacher teaching little kids since it can be used for innumerable ways to aid learning. Some of these are mentioned as follows:

Alphabets and Numbers: Creating different numbers and alphabets out of clay or play dough is an interesting and fun way of making kids learn basics of Mathematics and English. From recognizing alphabets to learning subtraction and addition, teachers have been successful in teaching them to kids, with Lumi Dough.

Shapes: From squares to circles to triangles and spheres, with play dough, children can learn about different shapes.

playdough shape tools

Animals and Birds: As the little ones make different animals and birds out of clay, they are learning about them too. Using clay they can understand about carnivorous and herbivorous animals, as well as those that are wild or domestic.

Cooking: Making dough with kids can help them understand how important it is to take safety precautions while in the kitchen. Children learn by observing. They also understand things that are demonstrated to them, therefore, while making edible or non-edible dough, be with them and ask them to help.

Emotions: Though children feel, they do not recognize all the emotions. This is why it is important at the age of 3 or 4 to give them some clay to play with. The soft and gooey texture of the clay is what the children use for expressing most of their emotions. Playing with clay is just like therapy. The children who often feel extremely angry or sad, are given clay to play with so as to keep calm.

The Best Homemade Playdough Recipe

Colors: How do children come to learn about colors? They are first made to recognize them. Slowly, they start memorizing them. When kids play with different colored clays, they automatically remember the shades and their names. This is why they are able to recollect the names of the colors better.

Textures: Just like different colors, there are different textures of clay as well. Your kid gets to understand these better when he or she plays with various clays with different textures.

Learning with play dough is one of the tried and tested ways of enhancing learning in little kids. Those kids who find it difficult to concentrate can benefit a lot of playing with dough. Teachers know what is the best for kids. And they understand that Lumi Dough is the best for the kids.

Other Play dough ideas:

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Making the Most of the Time with your Toddler at the Pool

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About the author of this post: Kaitlin Gardner started AnApplePerDay.com to further her passion for a family friendly, green living lifestyle. She is married to her best friend and lives in Pennsylvania. In her spare time, she loves to go hiking, biking and enjoy nature. She just started her first book about living an eco-friendly, healthy, natural lifestyle.

Time with your Toddler at the Pool

I could see it coming – the weather would be warming up just when I wanted to have my toddler learn the joys of the pool. I knew I’d be spending a lot of time with her, so I went looking for some ways for us to have some fun in the water.

Making the Most of the Time with your Toddler at the Pool with PowerfulMothering.com

Here are some things I took into for consideration for that first swim season:

Take care of the basics. The sun can be harmful to a young child, so I had to make sure to protect my baby girl. I decided to stay inside between 10 AM and 2 PM, when the ultraviolet rays are the strongest. I put her in long clothing if we were going to be out at the pool, so she wouldn’t get too much sun.

I made sure I got some well recommended baby diapers, so we’d minimize pool “oopsies.” The other thing I made sure to do was always be holding my baby – at her age, it’s the only thing that makes sense.

Next I had to figure out some fun ways for my daughter and I to bond in the pool, and I found some great resources with ideas about introducing toddlers to the pool:

Mom and Dad can help with the introduction. I didn’t want my baby to be scared of the water, so I asked my husband to help me with a gradual introduction. My toddler is very inquisitive, so I thought we might make her first pool experience a lot of fun for her.

My husband sat with the baby a few feet away from the pool, and then I got her attention, and walked into the water. I started splashing around and laughing out loud, and she kicked her legs and reached out to all the fun. My husband then quietly moved to the side of the pool, so she could be close enough to see more of what I was doing.

Into the water. My toddler reached out to me, and my husband made the transfer, so she was very quickly in my arms. If she held back, I wasn’t going to push the issue, but I figured it wouldn’t take long for her to warm to the idea. I held her facing me, and smiled widely, getting back that super smile that just warms my heart so much.

I gradually put one of her feet near the water, and she didn’t react, so I dipped her toes in the water. As I did, I held her against my chest, and began splashing the water next to us. She reached out for it, and in a flash, she was splashing the water like she did in the bathtub.

It doesn’t have to be complicated. At the toddler age, it’s not like you have to invent fancy games to keep them occupied. We wanted to keep early exposure short, so we weren’t out at the pool for long – in that time, my baby hardly tired of splashing the water.

To stretch her a little, I began a little game of catch – or mostly I would call it “reach.” I took a ball that she had played with in the house, then threw it a couple of feet away. She began to reach for it, and I waded over to let her capture it. She was thrilled. I had discovered that reaching out is an early start on the swimming motion. After that, we branched out to she and I sinking down into the water up to our necks, and coming back up together. The simple games delighted her.

My daughter has since become a real water baby, and is in the pool all through the summer. Once in a while she looks over at me fondly, and I wonder if she’s thinking about our early positive experiences with water.

Looking for some more summer fun? Check these out!

Best Summer Activities for Kids under 5 years old

Kids Summer Watermelon Popsicles

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A Do It (Yourself) With Your Children Guide to Kiddie Container Garden

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Today’s post is by Emily Harper from SecurityOcean.com. Emily Harper is a busy housewife, and is also an active member of the neighborhood watch. She also finds time to blog.

Since gardening has always been ingrained in my system, I thought it is best to share this passion with my two children who are enjoying the time of their lives as kids. Entertaining our children with a range of activities such as planting and even building their own pot gardens are good ways to make them appreciate what may soon be a rarity.

My children have a natural inclination to learn by doing and love to play with dirt, I guess all kids do. Then, I think, container gardening is a perfect activity that fits both.

Container Gardening

I have collated a set of step by step guide on how you can start building a pot garden for your child without having to ransack your pockets. You can also inflect your own ideas in the process.

1. Be familiar with the growing conditions.

Choose plants that have parallel growing needs. Make sure that the plants you select need the same amount of water and sunlight and can be planted in the same type of soil. Start by introducing your kids to seeds or sprouts and better if you encourage your kids to name the seed or sprout. Let us say “this tomato sprout’s name is Patrick”, and then label it. Provide letter stamps, wood sticks and pad to let your kid stamp their name on it.

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2. Choose a container.

A variety of containers are available for gardening. You may want to consider reusing the sandbox. By this time, your children might have already grown past their sandbox years. Then, consider transforming the old sandbox to a garden bed. A familiar space inspires a sense of duty to the gardening venture as they continue to hold ownership of something of great value to them. You can use old toy cars too or old garden pots or any container that would interest your kids. Remember to put some decor to the pot, so it will be more attractive to your kids.

2Image Credit

3. Pick a theme that suits the garden and your kids’ interest.

Involve your kids through the whole process, from sprout to table. Ask their opinion about colors and schemes. Colors like red and yellow, are warm and bright, and look good with wood. Blue or lavender which are cool colors, look calm and go with terracotta, stone and cool colored containers. Children might prefer to have a mix of both colors in their own garden.

3Image Credit

4. Play with different textures.

Texture is important in gardening as it makes a good backdrop for the garden. Choose plants that have good texture as they will be making the design look more natural. Undergrowth is good for adding texture. According to experts, ornamental grasses are also a good choice; they come in many different sizes, colors, and growth habits.

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5. Arrange the plants to his/her liking.

Try to mix and match the plants in your garden. Add in some tall trees and bushy plants. Do not forget to give your kids their own garden beds. Keep it small for young kids. Put their plots right in the center of the action, with the best soil and light. Provide them tools. Avoid using plastic or play tools. They break easily and frustrate the user. It would be a challenge to find good tools for kids, like work gloves fit for small hands. Allow your kids to use your tools if it becomes necessary. This is indicative of you recognizing the importance of the work they’re doing.

5Image Credit

Container gardening may bring about several advantages; one of which is a stronger bonding with your children. As a mother, I suggest that you start now while you can still encourage them at least with pot gardening. As we all know, children have so much interest and as they grow up it becomes even more difficult to compete for their time and attention. So, do it now and do it not with yourselves but with your children.

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Halloween Fears: Scaring the Boo Out of Our Children

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Halloween Fears: Scaring the Boo Out of Our Children was contributed by Anna Kaminsky of Psychological Resources for Parents.

Halloween is a favorite holiday for both children and adults; they enjoy the ability to dress up, trick or treat (as adults, we just take the candy from our child’s collection (with their permission, of course)) and enjoy a scare or two.

We spend time decorating our houses, carving pumpkins and picking out our costumes. We picture how precious our daughter will look as a ladybug or a princess or how adorable our son will look as Batman or a firefighter. We want our children to be excited about the costumes they will wear to school or even showcase as they walk in their Halloween parade.

Halloween for our young children should be a different experience from older children and adults.

Halloween Fears: Scaring the Boo Out of Our Children
As parents of young children, we want to celebrate Halloween age appropriately. Taking your 3-4-year-old to a haunted house with the advisory warning, “Not recommended for children” is not a good idea; you may have to calm your child down after the nightmares that experience may cause for the next week. Scary movies, frightening haunted houses, jumping out of the darkness and scaring someone are activities that you should save for your children until they are old enough to know the “reality” of these activities.

It is best to have a discussion (using age-appropriate language) to learn more about what your child thinks is “real” and what is “make believe” with regard to Halloween. Ask basic questions to further understand what they already know about Halloween. Since children are around other children (e.g. in daycare programs), they are bound to share their “knowledge” amongst each other. Once you are aware of what your child “knows”, you can better direct your own conversation.

Find out what scares them, so that you can dodge these things as much as possible.

It is imperative to explain that Halloween is a day where people dress up and get to be anything they want to be; strongly convey that children and adults play the part that fits their costumes (pirates, witches, zombies, etc.).

Children that are 3-4 years of age are incredibly imaginative; their perception is everything. With this in mind, one tip to avoid scaring the boo out of your child is to avoid masks. This is incredibly important advice for the parent; do not enter a room with a scary mask covering your face or point one out on the mannequin at the store, especially if it’s gory or too scary.

Young children experience difficulty in deciphering between what’s real and what’s fake (in movies and in life). If a parent enters a room with a scary mask on, his/her child may not know the parent is beneath the mask; a child may believe it’s actually a “monster”. It is even best to avoid having your child wear a full-coverage mask at such a young age. Most schools these days don’t even allow masks anyway, but even if they do, a mask may be too scary for other kids as well as pose danger to your child (restricts their vision).

Halloween Fears Scaring the Boo Out of Our Children webs

It’s common for children to be scared of the dark, but even more so during Halloween. If you are going trick or treating and project that your child may express a fear of the darkness, bring a flashlight. If your child does communicate a fear of the dark, comfort your child by stating that the light will take away the darkness and it will allow them to see far away.

To prevent this from happening altogether, try to go trick or treating as early as possible, ideally before it gets dark out. When it begins to get darker, older children and others may begin their mischief; you don’t want your child to be exposed to that. Additionally, if a home is set up to be a haunted house (dark, very decorated and noisy), try not to draw attention to it and just keep walking. If your child voices a desire to visit that particular house, do it in stride. Walk up to the house, then go into the first part of the “haunted house”, all the while observing your child’s reactions. If your child gets scared, just turn around, leave and proceed to the next house.

You don’t want to scare your child out of Halloween.

Having conversations with your child about Halloween will be most beneficial. Never invalidate their feelings, concerns, anxiety or fear by telling them not to be afraid of what they see, hear or know about Halloween; encourage them to articulate the aforementioned and utilize this time to reinforce what’s real and what’s make believe.

The only part of Halloween that should upset your child is not getting more candy than his/her sibling or best friend.

Author Bio: Anna Kaminsky is a blogger, a mother of two boys, and an aspiring child psychologist. She is doing PhD in Psychology at the University of Toronto and works as an intern at the Richmond Hill Psychology Center, where she maintains “Psychological Resources for Parents” blog and helps with psycho-educational assessments and play therapy. You can follow Anna on Twitter at @AnnaKaminsky1.

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I’m Ready, He’s Not: When to Start a Family

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{Contributed by Tammy Winslow}

As a woman, you may feel the call to parenthood earlier than your partner. While you are ready to start discussing baby names and planning a nursery, he may be quite content with your life together as a twosome. Finding yourself in this predicament is never easy, as you and your partner need to be on the same page before you start trying to conceive.

I'm Ready, He's Not: When to Start a Family

Discuss Your Feelings and Consider His Perspective

Be open and honest about your desire to start a family. Take the time to have a conversation with your partner in a quiet, comfortable location where you can both earnestly discuss your feelings. He plays an important role in the process, and he will be 50 percent of the parental unit. Consider his perspective before coming to a compromise on when you will add a little one to the picture.

Think About the Reasons Why You Want a Family Now

Perhaps you feel your biological clock ticking louder and louder as each birthday passes, or maybe you are envious of your friends and family members who are announcing their pregnancies. Whatever your rationale is for wanting to become pregnant, do it for the right reasons. Avoid trying to fix any marital issues by adding a child into the mix. Make sure that your desire to have a child stems from your mutual decision as a couple to become parents and treasure those special moments along the way together.

Take Note of Your Fertility

It’s never too early to start thinking about your fertility. Note that your age, health history and environmental factors can all play a role in your ability to conceive and carry a baby. Start by taking the time to understand your menstrual cycle. Charting your cycle and tracking your fertile days is the best way to get to know your own body and identify when you will be able to conceive each month, according to WomensHealth.gov. Using a First Response ovulation calendar, you can identify your fertile window and note any patterns in your cycle.

Evaluate Your Financial Situation

You and your partner should discuss your financial situation at length before trying to conceive. Determining if you are financially stable will help you prepare your budget for a new baby. Your new little bundle of joy will cost you a lot of money — upwards of $10,000 during the first year, according to BeforePlay.org. Adjust your budget accordingly before you become pregnant. By limiting your spending and increasing your savings, you will feel more prepared financially whenever you decide to add to your family.

Decide If You Are Truly Ready to Change Your Life

As everyone will tell you, your life will never be the same once the baby arrives. Before you start trying to conceive, check off all those must-do items from your bucket list. Take a vacation with your partner, complete any major home improvement projects and enjoy your ability to be spontaneous. Completing these goals will help both you and your partner feel more prepared for the life changes that will come along with a baby.

Author: Tammy Winslow, Tammy is a mom and freelance writer happily living in Phoenix.

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Combatting Kid’s Summer Brain Drain

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{Contributed by Rose Williams}

How to Take Advantage of Online Tools to Beat the Summer Slide

Allowing children a break from school over the summer is all too easy–after all that hard work reading, writing and doing math, it’s natural to give them a chance to be carefree kids.

But carefree comes with a cost: a growing number of studies have demonstrated that students lose an average of one to two months of academic growth during the summer break, a phenomenon that has been dubbed, the “summer slide.” Teachers must then spend the first months of the following school year covering old material that students have already learned just to remind them.

The Internet, however, provides a number of tools to help parents combat this slippery slide backward. Make sure you’ve got the most bandwidth possible, as many of these resources will require heavy streaming. At InternetProviders.com there are plenty of options for families who need a faster, more reliable connection while there are kids at home using multiple devices.

(Image via Flickr – Some rights reserved by paalia)

Combatting Kid's Summer Brain Drain

Stimulate different learning styles

One of the main hurdles of getting children to read at any time is that reading is a primarily visual experience: we move our eyes across lines of text to create images in our brains. Some children respond better to other forms of sensory stimulation, however, and one of the virtues of electronic media is that they can use different senses to communicate. If your child resists sitting down quietly with a book and reading, try using an audio book in conjunction with text to spark their interest.

Kids can read along with the person speaking the words aloud, stimulating both auditory and visual systems; services like Amazon’s Audible provide high quality, dramatic recordings that can help stories come alive for young children, and make reading feel like less of a boring, solitary experience.

Gamify learning

Psychologically, the summer slide is a consequence of our tendency to treat learning as work for children; the summer break becomes a vacation where children can pursue other, more frivolous activities before they must return to work. But in reality, children never stop learning even while they are playing; the trick is to orchestrate what they learn during their play so that it advances the skill sets they are learning in school. One of the best ways to do this is through online learning games, like those offered at pbskids, that blur the lines between children’s work and leisure time.

Good learning games implement virtual rewards schemes that encourage children to progress just for the sake of completing awards or trophies; some even integrate social components so that children are driven to compete with their friends–they’ll complete tasks so that their friends can see the awards they’ve earned from the game. If parents can team up to get a peer group playing a single game system like this, they tend to spark more interest and long term engagement.

Enroll in an online summer camp

The Internet provides an easy way for young people to congregate, without the trouble and expense of getting them to a physical place; several companies have thus begun to sponsor online camps that offer fun, structured activities that encourage children to keep learning during those summer months. In particular, Google’s Maker Camp encourages students to engage in practical but fun activities, like building small robots or coding simple programs.

Children don’t have to be sitting quietly at a desk to learn; the multimedia nature of the internet offers a number of interesting ways for motivated parents to get them interested in their education and beat the inertia of the dreaded summer slide.

Rose Williams is a freelance technology writer with a focus on how the Internet improves our lives, from online education and mobile streaming to ‘stuff’ minimizing and beyond. She holds a B.A. in Technical Communications and is currently working toward an MBA. You can contact Rose directly via email.

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Top 4 iOS Hidden Objects Games for Kids

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{Contributed by: Annie Friedman}

If you want your child to have fun while learning, hidden objects games are dynamic tools. These games are a subset of the puzzle gaming genre that require players to find hidden items within a picture or level in order to win the stage. With these games, kids learn how to look closely in an environment, observing everything to see what’s out of place. Once they learn how to identify the objects, they can improve their hand-eye coordination and memory.

Puzzle games of this nature also involve mini-games that have other types of gameplay outside of finding hidden objects, with storylines and an engaging environment. This makes hidden objects games great for children of any age, since they can delve into them as deeply as they want, and the lengths of the games varies greatly. These games are great for kids and puzzle gamers who are tired of playing the same kind of match-three games over and over, while still having easy-to-learn gameplay and pick-up and playability. It’s difficult to figure out which objects games to start with, so here are four popular iOS selections for kids of all ages.

Top 4 iOS Hidden Objects Games for Kids

1. Dream Chronicles (Ages 5 and older)

This game starts you off as Faye, who wakes up to an empty house, a door that won’t budge due to ice, and an adventure that takes you to the answer. The graphics are brilliant, so if you have a chance to play this on the iPad, it benefits greatly from the bigger screen. It’s somewhat easy for a hidden object adventure, as you can tell which objects need to be selected easily. There are also some easy puzzles, and you get about an hour of gameplay in total.

2. Otherworld: Spring of Shadows (Ages 13 and older)

The art direction on this game looks like fine art. It’s stunning throughout and shines on the iPad platform. The creators didn’t only make technically beautiful art, they also made the graphics work in the context of a game, which brings you to a country home that is in the middle of supernatural war — a theme that might make you want to limit this to older kids. You find objects to further your goal to finding out what happened to the previous owners.

3. Doodle Find (Ages 2 and older)

Doodle Find is a great game for all ages, as it provides bright and colorful illustrations. You don’t have a story you need to follow, you just need to find objects within a room, which is a great direction that really helps to advance the genre. There’s a timer that keeps you on track to finding all of the objects, and the clip art style is cute and distinctive.

4. Hidden Land (Ages 10 and older)

Gamers are put in the shoes of the Chosen One, who needs to save civilization by finding objects to advance the story. Gamers look for priceless treasures in various beautiful locations, so kids with an adventurous side will love this game. The ancient villagers need the player’s help, but you also have to deal with modern-day pressures. Younger kids will love finding the object, while older kids will also appreciate the storyline. (4)

Does your child love an iOS objects game? Tell us what it is in the comments, and for more kid-friendly reviews, go here.

Contributed by: Annie Friedman

Annie isn’t your typical girl gamer. She went to school for graphic design and teaches yoga on the side, but her true passion ignites when there’s a controller in her hand.

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Summer Crafting Projects with Cardboard Boxes

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{Contributed by: Marcela De Vivo}

Thanks largely in part to Pinterest, we’re becoming much more “crafty” than we might have been several years ago as a society.

Coupling that with a strong cultural push to sustainability, we’re learning how to take old, unused or unwanted items found in our home and, instead of throwing them away, we are turning them into something entirely different.

Perhaps there is nothing better suited for this kind of activity than an old cardboard box.

Cardboard, aside from its ability to house other objects or function as a gift box, has little or no value, at least on the surface; however, a little bit of creativity and ingenuity can help make your cardboard boxes useful for a lot more than just packaging.

Since crafts don’t usually have to be particularly heavy-duty, cardboard works well because it’s usually readily available, and stronger than paper.

You can use cardboard to solidify other crafts, or create something on its own. What you’re able to create will depend on your own mind and creative abilities, so your options are wide-open, particularly if you have young kids.

Summer Crafting Projects with Cardboard Boxes

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Cardboard Guitars — We’ve all seen it done before, but usually with an empty tissue box and some rubber bands. If you have the time on your hands, you can use cardboard to make a small decorative guitar, or a hollow one that will work with the rubber band idea.

If your son or daughter likes guitar (or even just music), this can make a lovely decorative item for their room, on a mantle or on a bookshelf. We love what Red Ted Art has done theirs!

2. Cardboard Mailbox — You wouldn’t use this as your actual mailbox, but again, if you have kids, this can be a fun and engaging toy for them to play with. Pay attention to what kinds of games your kids play— chances are that you can work a toy mailbox in there somewhere. Check out this cute DIY Cardboard Mailbox from The Busy Budgeting Mama!

3. Organizing Baskets — If you take pieces of cardboard, fit them together and wrap them in material with a nice color or pattern, you can create organization “baskets” that will actually look every bit as nice as what you would find in a store.

This particular project may take a bit of time, but it can be done. In the end, you’ll have more than just a toy— you’ll have a decorative organizational item that you can actually put to good use. Have a look at these DIY Cereal Box Drawer Dividers from IHeart Organizing just gorgeous!

4. Homemade Toys — Like we’ve already mentioned with the mailbox, try and create small (or large) toys that will fit in well with the activities that your kids already participate in. For instance, if you notice your children playing with their toy stove a lot, maybe add some cardboard pots and pans, or even “cookie sheets”.

Cookie sheets, you’ve got to admit, would be pretty easy.

5. Cardboard Box Shelves – Have a few of similar sized boxes hanging around? Make a toy shelf! Here are the steps to make your own DIY Cardboard Box Shelves.

6. Draw – Drawing on a huge sheet of cardboard can be so much fun. Make a scene or just doodle, the sound of drawing on the cardboard with wax crayons is also very appealing to kids!

Being Creative

If you spend enough time on Pinterest and other craft sites, or think about it long enough, you can find a use for just about everything in your home— gift boxes, paper towel rolls, empty water bottles, coffee cans, candy jars, etc.

Since you probably already have a lot of cardboard on hand, try and come up with some ways to be creative and make use of it. Even if you can’t make something that you can use, your kids are going to be far easier to please and entertain, even if it doesn’t last long.

Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer in California whose writing covers everything from DIY and home improvement, to health and fitness, to marketing and tech. With three children of her own, she is always finding new ways to keep them entertained. Find more DIY tips by following her on Facebook and Twitter.

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How to Crochet a Baby Blanket

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This post is shared by Lizelle Rademeyer, visit her Facebook page and Blog. (Afrikaans)

Dedicated to Aunt Anne.

My aunt made this blanket for me for a special occasion when I was just a little baby. She still made a baby blanket for our eldest son as well. What makes this blanket even more special is that she had a stroke a couple of years back and will never be able to make another crochet blanket. I decided to work out the pattern and made a second one. Now each of my little girls can one day have one.

How to Crochet a Baby Blanket

I used about 300g 4 ply baby wool and a 3mm crochet hook. The blanket is approximately 75cm x 90cm (without the tassels) .

Stitches needed:

ch – chain

dc – double crochet (US) or treble (UK)

sc – single crochet (US) of double crochet (UK)

4dc-tog – Start with a dc, but only yarn through the first 2 stitches (leave 2 on the hook), continue making 3 more dc’s in this way. You are now left with 5 stitches on the hook. Pull the yarn through all 5.

How to Crochet a Baby Blanket

Pattern:

1) 192 ch

2) sc in each ch

3) 1 ch , 1sc, *3ch, skip next 2 sc, sc in next sc * (repeat * to* until there is only 2 remaining sc, sc in last 2 sc

How to Crochet a Baby Blanket

4) 3 ch, dc, *3 ch, sc in first 3 ch space, 3 ch, 4dc-tog in next 3 ch space * (repeat * to * until 2nd last 3 ks space), 3 ch, sc in last 3ch space, 3ch, dc in last 2 sc

How to Crochet a Baby Blanket

5) 1 ch, 1 sc, 3 ch, skip first 3 ch space, sc in next 3 ch space, * 3 ch, sc in 3 ch space* (repeat * to * until 2nd last 3 ch space), 3 ch, skip last 3 ch space, sc in last 2 dc’s

How to Crochet a Baby Blanket

repeat row 4 and 5 (ending with row 5) until you have the desired length .

Finish with sc’s around entire blanket (3 sc in each 3 ch space and 2sc in each dc side).

fringing

There is 2 easy ways to add fringing to the blanket. I usually prefer to rather start out with a too long fringe and then cut it to the length that I prefer. For the simple fringe on the left I’ve cut approximately 12 cm pieces of yarn, 4 pieces per tassel. Then added a tassel to every 5th sc.

For the fringe on the right I’ve simply used longer pieces of yarn (about 20cm). Each tassel is then divided into 2 pieces and knotted midway.

You can obviously add more pieces of yarn for thicker tassels or decrease the 5 sc spacing.

Once you are finished simply cut all the tassels to the same length for a even fringe.

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Motor Badge ABC Flash Cards

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{This post is shared by Lizelle Rademeyer, visit her Facebook page and Blog (Afrikaans).}

At some point you might want to start introducing your little one to the alphabet or maybe they are asking to learn it. That was where we were a while back when our eldest wanted to start reading.

The first thing was to get him to recognize the different letters. I wanted to keep it fun, knowing that he can easily lose interest if things became boring. I ended up making some motor flash cards. These included some trucks and tractors, he LOVES all and everything with wheels.

Motor Badge ABC Flash Cards

These really got him going, learning the letters became secondary to learning all the different motoring icons. It really turned out to be a better activity than I ever expected.

Now on trips around town he tries to identify as many different motor badges as possible. Best of all he learned his ABC’s in no time and has even started reading simple words (to his own delight).

The pdf file of these Motor ABC flash cards can be downloaded here.

***To save to your PC right click on the above link and say “save link as”. You will need Adobe Reader, free PDF viewer on your pc to view this.

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New Mom Must-Haves: 7 Items to Bring to the Hospital

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{Contributed by:  Nikki Jones}

Packing for your child’s birth can be difficult, especially if this is your first child: It’s tricky to predict what you will really, truly need and want in those moments right after your wee one’s birth. While you can always have guests bring some of the things you need, planning it out well in advance gives you peace of mind in what can be a nerve-wracking, emotional time. Experienced moms love to offer advice on what worked well for them.

New Mom Must-Haves: 7 Items to Bring to the Hospital

Here are seven items to consider packing in your overnight bag:

Comfy Clothes

You’ll be provided with a hospital gown to wear during your stay in the hospital, so these aren’t strictly necessary. However, having your own clothes with you means that you get to change into them when the delivery is over. Those comfy sweatpants or yoga pants can really help you relax during recovery time. Cozy slippers cushion your feet from the hospital floor. A robe and pajamas not only feel so right, they can help lull you to sleep so you get that needed rest.

Lip Balm

During labor, you’ll be kept to a limited amount of liquid. That plus the heavy breathing — and panting, screaming and other noises — do quite a number on your lips, which can become chapped and sore. That little bit of lip balm can do wonders for you inside and out, restoring your lips to smoothness.

Personal Care Items

Deodorant, makeup, a brush or comb, and cleansing wipes will help put you back together after the delivery, so you can look your best during baby’s first photos. You’ll be so tired from delivery that you don’t need a lot of makeup, but those necessary and familiar personal care items that can help you freshen up will go a long way toward making you feel yourself again after delivery.

Snacks

Babies come on their own time, and you may be waiting around the hospital for a long time before actually giving birth. So you’re not stuck with vending machines or cafeteria food, pack a few options into your overnight bag. Consider healthy snacks like energy bars or granola as well as indulgent snacks like chocolate. Make sure your partner also has snacks for the hospital stay.

Pillow

This one is all about comfort: Those hospital pillows are not luxurious, and you will be exhausted after giving birth. Pamper yourself with a good night’s sleep by bringing your pillow. You’ll drift off to sleep on your favorite pillow from home instead of tossing and turning on a lumpy hospital pillow. Trust me, you’ll need that rest when entertaining visitors or caring for your newborn.

Electronics Equipment and Chargers

So you can spread the joyous news via telephone, text message, or tweet, remember your cell phone and charger. Make sure that your partner also has a cell phone and charger handy. Consider bringing a camera and extra batteries or battery charger so you can capture all of those precious first moments for posterity.

Entertainment

Again, you’ll be waiting around for some time before delivery, as well as afterward. Need to distract yourself? Use that smartphone or tablet to catch up on your favorite shows. Take time to browse Pinterest. Surf the web for funny pictures that are just too good. Bring magazines, a good book, or even a craft like knitting to keep yourself sane during the hospital stay. Even with a slew of visitors, you’ll likely have down time, so put it to good use.

As delivery gets closer, prepare a packed bag with these essentials and keep it near the door. You never know when you’ll need to rush out, and you do not want to be caught unprepared.

Contributed by:  Nikki Jones

Nikki went to school for fashion merchandising. Upon discovering her knack for description by the written word as well as illustration, she began a career as a freelance writer in the fashion industry.

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First Born Birth Story – My Preemie Miracle

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You experience so many emotions when you find out you pregnant, your happy, excited, then suddenly nervous, scared all in one, just by looking at that little stick “shouting” +. Then suddenly dawns on you, you are caring a little human being, growing, developing, alive in you, and all the nervous scared feelings disappear.

You start to prepare yourself for the upcoming 9 months not just of your life but of your fetus, your unborn child. I found out I was pregnant on the 28 December 2010, early January 2011 went for my first scan, I was told I was 7 weeks pregnant, fetus was healthy and had a strong heartbeat, Expected Date of Birth would be 26 September 2011. I walked out there so overwhelmed, clutching my scans. I couldn’t stop looking at them with such heartwarming emotions and love. I never knew I’d feel this way to someone I haven’t even met yet.

All was going well, my 13 week scan was great baby showed well neck fold, but at 19 weeks I started bleeding at work, after being examined by Gynea I was informed was a start to a possible miscarriage so was booked off bed rest for 2 weeks. Next check up around 21 weeks showed all was good with baby, don’t know why had that bleeding scare but I was diagnosed with Placenta Previa, (Low lying Placenta, just above my cervix) I found out I was having a girl I was so excited.

I couldn’t wait to get something PINK.

Then everything felt like it was going down hill from then, gynea started noticing something by her face, thought she could be a possible downs baby that she didn’t pick up at 13 weeks, and my placenta was starting to deteriorate on the right side, she sent me to a professor to examine the baby from the ultra sounds, after 3 visits each over 4 hours long she determined she wasn’t downs but just never wanted to clearly show her face and possible cysts on my placenta causing her to not have sufficient space, or her movement wasn’t as much as it normally should be.

I was so busy at work for 3 days round 24 weeks, I work in retail and we were upgrading our system, I started complaining that Friday with lower back pain, Saturday 26 May 3 am I thought I was suffering with a week bladder but only to find out (after contacting gynea) that I ruptured a membrane (my water broke) hubby rushed me to hospital, I was put on a dialysis machine and was showing signs of contractions, they gave me a steroid injections (to help her lungs in case of premature labour) the morning went and contractions stopped, baby was stable but I was still loosing water so had to be kept in for the day for supervision, baby weighed 750g and I was only 24 week at the time. Next day I still lost a lot of water so had to stay until water stopped or until baby was big enough for possible C-sec.

Every day the gynea said we should wait till baby bigger, 2 weeks went past and I was still in hospital, and still loosing water, then at 5 am on the 8 June 2011 I started having really bad pains, worse “menstrual pains” I have ever felt in my life, but I was definitely having contractions, (I never got the chance to go to Anti-natal classes) so I just tried to remember what to do from books that I read etc, breath in & out, count the contractions, by 10:45 am I was dilated to 4 and the contractions were getting closer.

By 11:30 am I was rushed to theater, was fully dilated with a baby ready to come out, I couldn’t believe I was going into labor (after I was told due to placenta privea I couldn’t  have natural) hubby arrived to hospital by 11:40 (in utter shock).

I finally started pushing at 11:45 (though I refused to before hubby got there) baby was born at 11:55am 1kg 26 weeks. We named our miracle TANIKA…..

first born story preemieShe was perfect, beautiful, dark hair, so SO tiny, I still won’t forget how tiny she was, she was very blue in color cause the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck. Tanika was sent to Neonatal ICU, and put in a incubator onto a ventilator, I went under theater to get the placenta removed cause couldn’t push it out as it had detached from my uterus, in theater they also found out I had cysts growing on my placenta.

Tanika was off the ventilator the very next day, and was breathing on her own, she lost 150g in the first 3 days, and got jaundice. Every day was so hard, I was battling to get the amount of expressed milk they required for her, every 3 hours they feed and I still couldn’t keep up, she started with 1ml (which was still hard for me to get. My body didn’t quiet know yet that I had had the baby. By weeks end she was on 6ml every 3 hours.

Once I was discharged I decided to go to work (pointless taking maternity leave while Tanika was in ICU). I would express in the mornings, then go to work from 9am to 12pm, drive to the hospital, express again once I’m there. I would just sit there watching her, praying she will grow, be healthy & come home. I would check her chart and be so excited when she’s gained weight.

first born story preemie visitingAround 3pm would be feeding time, she would have to be fed by a tube, so I would hold the tube while doing Kangaroo treatment. The skin to skin was the most, exciting part of the day for me, I couldn’t wait to hold her in my arms, her fragile, soft, little body in my arms, I will never forget that smell she had, it was hard to try hold her in between all the wires, keep her warm. My breasts would drip milk everywhere when holding her like this sometimes, it was very funny when did happen.

The Kangaroo treatment is the only best treatment that helps growth with preemies  the stimulation they feel from you, hearing and feeling your heartbeat, your breathing, your warm loving touch.

I didn’t want to let her go, I would sit there for 3 or 4 hours at a time holding her, the world was quiet around me, it was just me and my precious Tanika.

Once I was under a lot of stress and felt so depressed with everything that my breast milk dried up & I couldn’t get sufficient expressed milk for her, so had to get donor milk, I felt like I had disappointed her already as a mother! But the milk helped me build up some containers while she had the donor milk, so I at least got ahead and felt a lot better after that.

first born story preemie large dummyShe wore Little Miracle nappies the xprem size, they were the size of a blackberry phone, sat high above her little body had to be folded down, and her dummy was a Nuk prem dummy, only certain places sold them, it covered her poor little face.

One day in ICU the nurse’s noticed that Tanika kept desaturating on the machines they did a blood test & found that she had a low red blood cell count, my husband has the same blood type as her, so they drew blood for a blood transfusion for her to help increase the cells and her breathing, after 3 days she was back to her normal busy little self in the incubator, she was truly a busy little baby, moving her arms around so much, they always had to fix her little “nest” every few hours.

Days dragged and weeks rolled in Tanika was in ICU for 1 month and nearly 2kg, once she was off the tubes, she started being bottle fed more in between feeds to help her sucking, I had to bottle feed her one day and was such a challenge, took over 45 minutes to feed her 40ml, in between winding, feeding, winding, felt impossible, I was so nervous and couldn’t even manage at times without assistance of a nurse, I couldn’t bear to think how I will manage on my own at home.

first born story preemie at homeEveryday when I walked into ICU I kept my hopes up, hoping if today will be the promising day she will be sent home, but sadly it wasn’t. Tanika spent 52 days in ICU,and FINALLY on the 6 August they told me she was ready to be discharged, she was feeding and finishing her bottles, sucking well and weighed a very good weight at just over 2,2kg.

I was beyond excited and was quickly overwhelmed with good luck and welcome home messages from all my wonderful, supportive family and friends. Those 52 days were the most, challenging, hard, emotional experience of my life! But was all worth it, as they say God Gifts you what you can handle, and he really gave us a challenge.

Home was a different world for her, she was used to the noises of the beeping machines, muttering nurses, and other crying preemies, so to be home in a room all quiet, alone and dark was very new to her, she was very restless and so were we, waking up every few hours to watch her, check if she’s breathing, just a sense of security.

Tanika was a very hard and demanding newborn, she suffered with Colic for 4 months and reflux for 2 months, constant crying and screaming drove me insane, I suffered with postnatal depression with it. But then I thought to myself, we went through worse, I must just be strong and calm.

She wore xx prem clothing till she was about 4 months (2 months actual) and only started wearing new born clothing round 5 months, and then by the time she grew out of 3-6 months she was nearly 8 months old, she’s now 20 months and wears 12-18 months.

happy little girlTanika has been such a blessing in our life as any newborn is, she’s a real gift, she is now such a beautiful, happy little toddler, she hadn’t reached her milestones at correct stages as full term babies.

She started crawling at about 10 months, got her first 2 bottom teeth about 2 weeks after her 1st birthday, top two at about 14 months, and started walking at 16 months, she’s little slower with the talking doesn’t say many words, but she is so cute, lovable,  precious, petite, so clever sometimes, naughty and cheeky (as they all are) with beautiful golden curly locks of hair, big brown eyes and long eye lashes.

She is my ANGEL, my Miracle, love of my life and apple of daddy’s eye.

We would like another child one day when we can, but deep down I am scared it may all happen again, and though my gynea has reassured me that it may not, I’m still little scared. But what ever may be, if we managed and got through it first time, we more prepared for the next.

I love Tanika with all my heart, and will never ever regret or forget the experience we had, she made us stronger as parents, and me as a  mother. She is our Precious Miracle….

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