Winter Olympics Activities for Kids

Living in what I often refer to as the Arctic Tundra, a.k.a. Wisconsin, the Winter Olympics are right up our alley. Turning the Olympic Winter Games into your own fun with your family and friend with these Winter Olympic kids activities.

Activities:

Ski Jump

Supplies:
  • Little People
  • Popsicle Sticks
  • Hot Glue
  • Cardboard Ramp (You can use a box with a cardboard ramp taped to it or in our case we just propped up a large cardboard piece that we used with other games.)

Hot glue the bottom of your little people figures to two popsicle sticks. I know you are probably thinking, “This girl is crazy, I’m not going to ruin my little people.” I promise it won’t! Let kids take turns racing their skiers down the ramp.

Bobsled Race

Supplies:
  • Shoe Boxes or Small Boxes
  • Cardboard or Plastic Tub Lid
  • Stuffed Animals

Lay out a ramp on the stairs using either a lid from a large plastic storage tub or cardboard piece. Each child chooses a stuffed animal to place in their “bobsled” box. Take turns racing them down the ramp.

Paper Cup Bobsled

Supplies:
  • Paper Cups
  • Scissors
  • Little People
  • Hot Glue
  • Large Popsicle Sticks
  • Use the ramp that you created for the previous game.

Cut a rectangle out of the side of a cup (use the picture to help guide you). Hot Glue two Little People on to the inside of the cup below the rectangular opening. Hot glue two popsicle sticks to the outside of the cup under the people. On the bottom of the cup, you can draw the Olympic rings and write your team.

Ice Hockey

Supplies:
  • Cookie Sheet with sides
  • Playdough Lids
  • Action Figures

Freeze a layer of water on a large cookies sheet. If you want to add the Olympic logo under the rink, you can check out more directions here. Once it is fully frozen, let the kids “kick” the playdough lids around using their action figures.

Broom Hockey

Supplies:
  • Brooms
  • Paper Plates
  • Goals (We used the legs of a chair/stool as our goal boundaries.)

I think that with the video this Olympic activity is pretty self-explanatory! I’ll save myself the typing and you the reading and let you just watch the fun unfold on the cute video!

Magnetic Ice Skating

Supplies:
  • Strong Magnets/Magic Wand Magnet
  • Skater Printable
  • Cardstock
  • Brass Fasteners
  • Crayons
  • Hot Glue
  • Lightweight Metal Pans

Print out the skaters and have the children decorate their own. Cut them out and hot glue them to the side of a brass fastener with the prongs spread and the round button to the bottom. Use a strong magnet on the bottom of a lightweight metal pan to direct the skater. We found that the ridges on the bottom actually helped the skater jump and twirl!

Finishing Touches

Podium:

Create a podium by gathering stools of three different heights. Cover them with a white sheet or tablecloth.

Banner:

Print off small flags from different countries on cardstock. Tape them on a piece of string and hang them in the background of your podium.

Medals:

Mix up salt dough:

  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup of water (add it gradually)

Stamp out circles using the top lid of a drinking glass. Cut out a skinny rectangle near the top with a sharp knife. Using the circular end of frosting tip to stamp in the circles to the Olympic symbol. Bake on a baking sheet at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The amount of time depends on the thickness of your circles. Once it hardens you are able to paint them gold, silver, or bronze. String with ribbons and you are now able to proudly award each child with their medals.

Don’t forget to show clips of the actual Winter Olympics. Also, the Olympic theme music in the background is a must.

There are more great Olympic games, food, and fun here!

 

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14 Ways I Challenge You to Love Your Children

Love. A four letter word with such impact and weight. A word that shapes and molds these little humans into well-rounded citizens so that they can go out into this world and show love to all those around them. Just stop and think for a moment how much love impacts a child. As stated in the education.com article, “…nature’s partner is nurture, the environmental conditions that influence development. Children’s experiences in the environment affect all aspects of their being, from the health of their bodies to the curiosity of their minds. Nurture affects children’s development through multiple channels: physically through nutrition, activity, and stress; intellectually through informal experiences and formal instruction; and socially through adult role models and peer relationships. With good environmental support, children thrive.”

I will warn you that the next 14 things are NOT for the faint of heart. They are not easy. They are items that I personally work on each day. Fourteen points that I want to be mindful of as I raise my children.

WE HAVE A HARD JOB.

Show Your Children Love by…

Loving Their Father/Vital People in your Child’s Life

Children learn through modeling. They soak in their environment and what they see becomes their expectations for the future. Showing children how to humbly love one another is critical. Let them see you be vulnerable. Show them that it is okay to say you are sorry and to acknowledge your mistakes. Let them see that love is mutually respecting one another. That affection and touch are done in a loving way only when it is comfortable for both people. Have them help you in planning random acts of kindness as you invest in those that you love. Model to them how the needs of those you love are at the forefront of your brain as you model treating others the way that you want to be treated.

And you may be saying… “but you don’t walk in my shoes”. That is completely true. I will never walk in your shoes or know what it is like but I do know that much of these issues are adult problems. They are not things that children need to see or hear. I know that we do not live in a perfect world where all families are one cohesive unit but I do know that even if you are not with the father of your child, the words you choose when you speak of their father will affect them. That age-old saying, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all” holds so much weight when it comes to this topic. The people that your children love hold such a valuable place in their hearts. It will only hurt your child and your relationship if your angst gets the better of you. Take the higher road.

Loving You

So much of what they see in themselves, they have learned from you. As you poke at your “fat” in the mirror or comment about the ugly shape of your nose, they see it all. They learn that those are the things that we do. We pick at ourselves and critique our “flaws”. They watch as our eyes dart to another woman near us as we size her up and down and compare her to ourselves. Let us work together to lift each other up instead of compare one another. Help us to see the beauty in our “flaws” or at the very least not pick at them or express them in front of our children. My hope is that that inner voice that degrades myself will not be passed on to my children. I do not want them to hear those voices like I do but instead, I want them to hear my voice lifting them up and cheering them on.

Loving their Beauty

With that being said, love everything about the way your child looks. They are a part of you and they are beautiful. No matter the size or the shape, they are beautiful. You are their number one cheerleader in life. A comment, although meant with the best of intentions can be detrimental. I think of the amazing show “This Is Us”. My mind immediately goes to Kate who her whole life has suffered from an addiction to food. It had been a focus for her and a topic which comments that were made carried over to her adult life. Although no one meant the comment in a vicious manner, it still stung.

Help them to see that they do not need the make-up, hair dye, or fancy clothes to make them beautiful. Who they naturally hold so much beauty.

Loving Who They Are on the Inside

Every night before my babies go to bed I whisper into their ear, “The most important thing is to have a kind heart.” I try to be very conscious of how much they hear compliments about their clothing or accessories or beauty. I try to counter this with compliments on things that make them beautiful on the inside. It is important for them to see the beauty and value in who they are as a person.

Loving Learning

Being lifelong learners is something that we all should strive to be. Show them that you are always learning. Let them know that you make mistakes and that you seek out ways to learn and grow from them. There is so much out there to learn and grow from. Let them find the joy in mastering a new craft or the satisfaction of solving a problem that has puzzled you for some time.

Loving Books

One of the best gifts you can give your child is the gift of literature. Read to them. Show them the word that they can experience as they get lost between the pages of a good book. Let them see you pour over books. Help them see the value of words and how they can empower them. We may be raising children for jobs that do not even exist yet but one thing is certain, a rich language will be pertinent no matter the career.

Loving their Independence

The clock is ticking, you are late and your child insists on tying their own shoe. Your patience is tried as you let them fumble and try again and again. It is hard. I know. But that perseverance is so pertinent. The independence and strength they show is a trait that will help them go far in life.

Loving their Failures

They will fail. We are all human and we all make mistakes. Love them for the mistakes they make no matter how hard that can be. Let them know that no matter what mistakes they make they will always be loved by you.

Loving their Curiosity

A child’s eyes see this big world with such freshness that is inspiring to all that is around them. Foster this sense of curiosity and soak it up yourself. Get excited when they ask all the questions…who, what, when, where, WHY? Research with them. Learn and grow together and let them know that it is good to question the world around them.

Loving the Time Spent Together

Making time for each child can be so critical. You are not guaranteed tomorrow. Think about the memories that you want to leave your children with. How do you want them to remember you? Love your child with everything you have. Each day is a blessing and we must make the most of it. Say yes more often and live in the moment.

Loving the Little Moments

If you read my post about my biggest fear you will know my need to hold these little moments close. We hear all the time how fast this time goes. Sometimes when you are in the middle of it all, when the days are long and the fits seem endless it is hard to remember that this time is so fleeting. But even just looking back on the few years, you realize that it is so true. You do not realize at the time that it is your last time carrying your baby down to bed or the last time you will spoon feed them. Looking back you will realize that moment is gone and all that is left are the memories that you have soaked up.

Loving their Educators

My youngest started preschool this year. I took a long time reflecting on her school endeavors and allowing myself to let go. I even wrote a letter to her new teacher in which I poured my heart out as I handed my baby to them. Educators play such an important role in the life of our children. They spend so many hours with our babies. Teachers love our children and so it is important for our children to hear us talk highly of their teachers. If there is a discrepancy with something that has happened at school, make sure that it is discussed in private in a very neutral manner. We want them to hold their educators to the highest regards and not have their views tainted by our options or thoughts.

Loving their Quirks

These little things that make your child them may at time challenge you. Find the beauty in the uniqueness that makes them who they are. After all, they are partially made up of you…maybe upon reflection their little quirks are a little familiar. 😉

Loving their Dreams

Believe in their dreams and let them know that you will support them. If they want to be astronauts, take them to a space museum and find all the books in the library about being an astronaut. If they want to be an artist or basketball player, find classes to hone in on their skills. Be their cheerleader and their number one support.

LOVE YOUR CHILDREN WITH ALL YOUR HEART. It’s not always an easy job but it is the most important one!

Check out all the other great posts in the series on LOVE at  http://www.mamiworks.com/ and https://badasamother.com/! It has been my pleasure to collaborate with them.

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Preparing Children for a Funeral or Wake

The death of a special person is a difficult time for a family. You are grieving over the loss of that person. At the same time, you are heartbroken for any members that are also directly affected by the loss. While this hurricane of emotions is going on in your head, you can only imagine the new feelings a child must be experiencing. This can be a scary, confusing thing for children to observe and experience. It is our job as parents to do our best to prepare them for this type of situation.

*I am a Christian so some of the references in this blog do talk about Heaven.

Should The Children Attend These Events?

Often we feel that we must shelter children from the ideas of death. It feels almost like a taboo thing to discuss with children and yet is a normal part of life. Cemeteries have become an eerie place of fear from things viewed in moves and television instead of a place of remembrance. It is my belief that if children are prepared for what they will see and experience, attending such things will be healthy for them. However, I respect everyone in their own personal decisions. Ultimately you know what is best for your family. Follow your gut.

The traditions such as funerals and wakes that follow a death are put in place to help everyone have closure. It is a time for everyone to remember that loved one and say goodbye to them. In an article from Psychology Today, it discusses how “throughout history funerals have met the needs of adult mourners to acknowledge the death, honor the life of the deceased, and provide social support and comfort.” The children in their study responded two years later with feelings that the funeral met those same needs for them.

If you should choose to take your children to a funeral or wake here are some important things to think about:

Open and Honest Communication Is Crucial

This is the beautiful moment when all three of the girls placed their hands on Great Grandpa’s hand and told him they loved him.
People they love will be sad or crying.

Prepare them ahead of time for what is going happen and what things they will see. Make sure that they understand that they will see many people that they love sad or crying. Help them to understand that it is a normal feeling because they will not be seeing the person who has passed away again until they go to Heaven. Just like they are sad when they must leave someone for a time, adults can be sad too when someone leaves. It is good for children to see other people showing and expressing their emotions. Children need to know that these emotions are natural and healthy.

What should they do when someone they love is crying?

Talk to children about what things they can do when they notice a loved one crying. Let them know that it is a good time to show empathy for that person. Ask them what things help them feel better when they are sad. Many of those ideas are things they could do for the grieving adults. A simple hug, “I love you”, or holding that person’s hand can go a long way in comforting someone.

What will they see?

Open caskets and viewings of the deceased are very common in traditional funerals. Seeing the person that everyone has told you is gone can be very confusing for children. Prepare them ahead of time that they will be seeing the outer shell or body of that special person so that they can have a final time to say goodbye. Explain that the actual person is their heart and brain. Their heart/brain is up in heaven watching over us. (I chose to use heart and brain versus the soul because it is a little more concrete for them to understand. The soul or spirit is a very abstract concept for children.)  What we are seeing is only their outer shell or leftover body. Once they get to heaven they get new healthy bodies so they do not need the outer shell they leave behind.

Let them know that it will look like that person is fast asleep. Their eyes will be closed and they will not move. Also, you may want to talk with them about how they might not look exactly how they remember them but they do not need to be afraid.

Establish Clear Behavior Expectations

It is important for children to be calm, quiet, and respectful in such an emotionally trying time. As a parent, we must prepare them for this situation. We can’t assume that they know how to act. Giving examples help the children clearly know what is expected of them. Depending on the age of the child, it may be helpful to pack a few quiet things that they can do independently.

Is it okay to be happy?

Children bring a refreshing air to such a sad time. Often their joyful innocence is a welcomed distraction. It is okay to be happy because a funeral is a celebration of someone’s life. They do need to know though that their happiness needs to be calm and respectful. It can be a time for them to talk about fun things they did with that person or happy memories they might have. Sharing these memories can bring comfort as we remember the love that was shared because of that person.

Military Honors

If the deceased person served our county and an honor guard detail is coming to honor them, it is important to warn children that they will be firing three volleys from rifles. The loud gunshot can be startling. Explain to them that this is actually an honor and in the military signaled that the dead were cleared and properly cared for. At the time of the shots, let them know they are coming. Cover their ears if need be to help muffle the sound.

Remember that children can sense when you are not being forthright with them. Make sure they know that they are able to ask any questions that they might have. Let them share their thoughts and feelings and validate them.

Children that are old enough to love, are old enough to grieve.

 

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Teething Amber Necklace As An Alternative Remedy

Making choices as a mother can be so challenging. You are deciding what is best for another person. Teething is one of the first big decisions you are faced with. Do you medicate or try a holistic approach like an amber teething necklace?
Insecurities and Decisions:

When I first found out I was going to be a mother, I often thought about whether I would make the right decisions for my son or daughter. I wasn’t only running my own life, but someone else’s life. Well, at least until he/she was old enough to lead.

Would I be able to give that person the foundation needed to lead a good life? Would I be able to keep him/her safe, healthy, and confident to face the world and all that it offers? I was unsure.

One of the first dilemmas I faced was whether I should use medication for teething or take an all-natural approach such as Baltic Amber teething necklace.
Teething was a nightmare.
Teething rings and toys did little to comfort my poor baby.

The crying, fussing, and not wanting to eat anything made me so nervous. I quickly learned that oral teething gels were NOT safe for children. The doctor just pushed my concerns away with a bottle of Motrin and Tylenol. I was giving her them every day for a couple weeks when I just couldn’t do it anymore. Turning to Dr. Google, I discovered Baltic Amber teething necklaces. I researched it and then bought one for her. In a matter of two days, she was back to the happy, calm baby she was before her teeth broke through.

The response to the Baltic Amber teething necklace was incredible.

How it works:

As I researched it more to see what it was that made it work, I found out that amber teething necklaces were made out of fossilized tree resin. This resign has Succinic Acid, which is a treatment oil that has helped people in Europe and the Middle East with illnesses and ailments. These people used amber to relieve fever, aches, pains, and boost immunity. If it worked for them, it would work for babies who are teething.

To take in the treatment oil, all you have to do is make sure the beads are consistently on the skin. Body heat warms the beads, and this releases the oil onto the skin. Since skin is highly absorbent, the oil seeps into the body and right into the bloodstream, which delivers treatment to wherever it needs to go for relief. Succinic Acid is completely safe and natural, so it’s much better than medications.

I am so glad that I decided to try an amber teething necklace from https://www.balticwonder.com/. It wasn’t something I thought I would try, but after reading about it, I felt like it was something I should try. I am so glad that I listened to my intuition.

The Point

Being a parent comes along with many decisions. It’s one of the many responsibilities of being a parent. You can’t get away from it. When the decisions come down the pipeline in life, sometimes you have days to think about it, and other times, you have minutes. You can talk to people and research online, but the final choice in every matter must come from deep inside of you.

Looking inside of yourself to see what your mind, heart, and soul is saying is what should be your guiding light. This is because a mother’s intuition lies in those areas of the body. Remember, your body was created inside of your body. Your body knows that little human being, and even though that person vacates the premises after 9 months, it doesn’t mean the body forgets. A mother will always have signals inside that will lead a mother’s decisions for baby.

Guest Blog Author:

Jenn Sanders wrote this blog to share her enthusiasm for natural teething necklaces as an approach to helping sooth children during this tough time.

Jenn Sanders currently works as a marketing assistant at Baltic Wonder, a company that is dedicated to the health and well-being of infants. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her family and outdoor adventures.

Be watching Parenting the principal on instagram for a chance to win your own Amber Necklace!

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A Children’s Museum Birthday Party is the Way to Go!

Birthday parties-Two words that can send some Moms into panic mode. Between the planning, preparations, cleaning, and the thought of keeping everyone entertained while making sure your house stays in one piece can be a straight out nightmare. Thankfully it doesn’t need to be that way. A birthday party at the Children’s Museum makes for a stress-free, fun event for everyone…including Mom!

Let me do the honors of breaking it down for you…

Planning:

If you have taken a look at the birthday tab on the blog, you know that I go overboard when it comes to planning birthday parties for the girls. For a few examples check out the Party Animal birthday, Unicorn birthday, or the “One-derful” Woodland Adventure party.

Not this one! This was the easiest party hands down! Game and activities…who needs them when you have a whole museum of hands-on learning for the kids to explore! Even the adults are entertained as they marvel at all the exhibits. Family members who had never been to the museum before were in awe of everything. My grandma just kept saying, “We never had anything like this when I was growing up. I would have been so smart if we had a place like this to play.”

Food

Keep. It. Simple. You are at the museum and the kids want to go PLAY. Who can blame them! They don’t want to sit in the room the whole time. Snacks or pizza is a great, fast option to keep everyone’s bellies full. The museum staff is extremely helpful so if you need a place to store drinks or ice cream until it is the time they will gladly do that for you. Enjoy some cake while your child opens presents and then it is time to just spend the afternoon surrounded by friends and family in a safe, fun environment.

 

Why decorate when you have a whole colorful museum as your backdrop!

Save your time and money on decorations that will just be thrown out anyway! The museum is a bright, welcoming space with so much to look at. You don’t need anything more. Plus, the museum will have a large “Happy Birthday” backdrop already in place on the main wall of your room. The amazing staff will have yellow tablecloths on all the tables for you and on the counter, you will find orange and blue paper plates, cups, and napkins. That’s right you don’t need to go out and buy those things and remember to bring them along. The museum takes care of it for you!

Minimal Mess:

Do a quick toss of the items you have used, tidy up the room, and be on your way. It doesn’t get much simpler than that! You no longer need to spend hours cleaning your house FOR all the guest and then hours afterward cleaning your house FROM all the guest.

Honors for the Birthday Child:

Parade

The museum does unique things that make the birthday child feel special.  One part that the kids especially enjoyed was the parade. An announcement is made and all the children gather. The staff goes through a few basic rules and directions. Each child is given a noise maker and told to be as loud and excited as they can be! The birthday child leads the parade as it goes throughout the museum leading either down to the birthday room or from the room to the exit.

Stuff an animal

Before the child leaves they are able to choose a small animal to stuff in the machine. This animal is theirs to take home as a token of their special day. The Children’s Museum staff is trained in how to interact with children and from a parent and educator’s standpoint, we were so impressed with the staff as they took the time to help the birthday girl with her stuffed animal.

Prices:

Birthday Party Room rentals at the Children’s Museum will include the room for two hours for $50 for non-members or $25 for members. The birthday child and his/her family get in free. Party guests each cost the museum admission price even if they have a membership. Rooms hold up to 25 people.

What Other Mom’s Love About Birthdays at the Children’s Museum?

“No decorating and not much clean up is needed! The parade is fun and makes the birthday child feel special!”

-Ashley Brott whose son recently celebrated his 5th birthday with friends and family at the museum.

“I really liked two things. The first was the convenience. The second was the wide variety of activities for kids to do during the two hours. We had children ranging from age 2 to 6 at the party. There was something for everyone to do no matter the age. If you asked my daughter, she’ll tell you she likes playing with her friends and the stuff-a-bear that she got at the end!”

-Ashley Kohls whose daughter recently celebrated her 6th birthday at the museum.

For more information or to schedule your party click here! 

Adorable bows from Hello Lolly Shop.

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Money Tips for New Parents: Jump-start Your Baby’s College Fund

Before you know it, your kids will be heading off to college, you will be pouring tears into your handkerchief and the hubby will be dancing with joy. So you want to prepare to meet that day with plenty of money in a college fund and a plan on how to make this transition as smooth as possible for the entire family.

And it’s never too early to start saving money for your children’s tuition. In fact, you should have a kid’s college fund set up well before they are born, but if you’re just now getting around to it, here are the five best money saving tips for your baby’s college fund.

Saving the Right Amount

First things first, you’ll need to figure out how much money on average you’d need to save to one day be able to cover your child’s tuition fees. On average, a family earning $75,000 annually would have to save $2,250 a year, or $190 a month for 12 years in order to ensure a public college fund. But there are several problems with this type of mindset.

For one, you can’t know whether or not your child will want to attend a public or a private university what his or her aspirations and goals in life will be. Secondly, your child might or might not receive a partial or a full scholarship – this will significantly impact the total cost. Be sure to find a reliable college savings calculator in order to get a rough estimate of how much you should save annually.

Saving the right amount – Bich Tran

Investing in a 529 Plan

A good way to ensure monetary savings is to purchase a college savings plan or a prepaid tuition plan through a 529 savings program. These plans are sponsored by states or educational institutions. A college savings plan allows you to invest money in mutual funds, money market funds, or other investment opportunities in order to make them grow and thus help tuition and other college expenses.

On the other hand, a prepaid tuition plan allows you to buy college credits at the current tuition rate. This means that you can use those credits at select colleges and universities and that you can use the credits’ value for tuition at other schools.

Saving Money Over a Long Period of Time

Much like you are planning to spend thousands of dollars on diapers, baby gear, supplies, and all of the other necessities over the years (BUT NOT THESE BABY SUPPLIES), you should be putting money aside for your kid’s college tuition – that’s a given. However, with all of the expenses on a monthly and annual level, it can become quite hard to allocate funds for this purpose.

Look for ways to cut your expenses and shift your resources by buying used clothes and toys, and less expensive baby essentials. And don’t waste your money on these items! Stash the extra saving away for your child’s college fund!

Along with a substantial savings account behind you, you will have to gather the necessary information on how to get into an Ivy League School or a state university your kid can one day use to leverage the odds in their favor.

Exploring the UWEC bridge where Mom and Dad both went to college.

Opening a Custodial Account

You can also open up a savings account in your child’s name. This is called a custodial account and it works much like any other savings account – the money grows over time and you can choose to invest as much or as little as you want. The great thing is that other family members may add to the account as well.

These accounts are subject to annual taxes or when the money is withdrawn. When your kid reaches a certain age, they can use the funds however they please. This means that the money doesn’t necessarily have to go towards college, should your child choose a different path.

A true life capture! Six years speed by and life changes fast, so be prepared!

Being a parent is a full-time job, but more than anything else, it’s expensive and if you don’t organize your finances thoroughly, it can bleed you dry within a few years. You might be thinking that your kid’s college days are still far away in the future, but they are coming fast – don’t let them catch you by surprise.

About the Author

This is a guest post feature from Claire Adams, a personal and professional development expert who believes that a positive attitude is one of the keys to success. She contacted me to write this post. Since it was something that fit my niche and was something we both are passionate about, I was excited to have her as a guest blogger. To connect with Claire, please visit her on Facebook and Twitter.

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15 Snow Crafts and Activities for Cold, Snowy Days

Winter days can be long, bone-chilling days with hours that seem to melt away slower than molasses. Little noses press up against the window unable to understand why they can’t go out and play in that white wonderland. So instead why not bring the snow inside to them! I’ve gathered together some fun snow activities and crafts that we have been doing together so that we can enjoy the snow in the warmth of our home.

Snow Table

That amazing water table that I talk about so often is perfect for an indoor snow table. Put down a plastic tablecloth or a few towels and fill your table up with a few shovels of snow. I also pulled out my cup of kid’s tools that I always keep on hand. They were able to shovel and scoop snow for hours! I would advise them having gloves on because their fingers will get cold.

TIP: We keep a shovel right on the deck to easily scoop up the snow any time we need some of our activities!

Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

Every kid wants to build a snowman and I can’t blame them for not understanding why the snow isn’t right or ready. When you bring the snow inside it starts to warm and becomes the perfect consistency for packing. Gather carrots, googly eyes, beads, and anything else that can be used to decorate a snowman.

*BONUS: Try throwing in your Mr. Potatoe Head pieces!

Snow Painting

A cookie sheet, snow, and watercolor paints are all you need for hours of fun! We put towels down and painted and mixed colors together all afternoon. Then we set the trays out and watched what happened as it melted.

Tissue Paper Snow Color Transfer

Cut or tear up smaller pieces of different colored tissue paper. Place a piece of white cardstock on a tray. Have the child arrange the tissue paper on the piece of cardstock. Give them a large bowl of snow and have them cover all of the tissue paper with the snow. Allow the snow to melt. Remove the tissue paper to reveal the colors that have bled through and stained the cardstock. Allow it to dry completely and hang it to admire the beautiful artwork.

You can also do something similar to this with do-a-dots!

Glitter Snowflakes

Cut a square of white paper. Fold it in half from corner to corner to make a triangle. Fold the larger triangle in half again to make a smaller triangle. Imagine the small triangle into thirds. Fold the right third over and then fold the left third over. Cut out off the top of the paper at an angle of in a triangle. Then cut out at different spots on the edges of the paper. Unfold to reveal a beautiful snowflake. Use glitter glue to decorate the snowflake.

Salt Painting Snowflakes

Draw a bunch of simple verticle lines to create a snowflake. Trace over the lines with glue. Sprinkle salt all over the glue. Tap off the excess. Dip a small/medium sized paintbrush into water and then the watercolor. Just touch the snowflake salt and allow the color to seep in and spread.

Fluffy Snow Paint

Snow paint is so fun and easy to make. Stick the bottle of glue into the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Mix equal parts of chilled glue and shaving cream together in a bowl. Add glitter and mix well. That is all that you need to do to have a unique substance to paint with!

Ice Cube Painting

Popsicle sticks and ice cube trays filled with water and food coloring make a unique way to paint. Freeze the colored water in the trays with the popsicle stick stuck in the water. Once it is frozen take the cube out and paint with it.  Please be careful with this craft because food dye does stain.

Make Your Own Snow

Just two ingredients are needed to make your own snow…baking soda and shaving cream. Mix them together to make a consistency that you like. Then have fun playing and creating in your “snow”. After you are done, you know what is my favorite thing to do with baking soda? Add some vinegar of course! This fizzy fun will surely extend the play!

Pretzel Marshmallow Snowflakes

Need a snack to go with your snow theme? How about a big marshmallow with pretzel sticks stuck into it and little mini marshmallows stuck at the end of each stick.

Mix it up and use toothpicks and marshmallows to create unique snowflakes!

Frozen Water Beads

We LOVE water beads! They are something that we use a lot and one bag lasts FOREVER! They start out tiny and expand as they sit in water. Florist use these beads for plants but there are so many great ways to use them with kids! This week we stuck the water beads in the freezer for about an hour. Place the frozen beads into a large plastic tub and let the exploration begin. Roll, scoop, dump and smash with little hammers. As an extension, use a squeeze bottle to squirt warm water on them when you are finished exploring.

Q-tip Snowflakes

Q-tips are a fun and easy way to make your own little snowflakes. The 18-month-old was so proud that she was able to participate in this craft as well. We bent the Q-tip in half a few times causing them to break. Then we squeezed outlines of glue in the shape of a snowflake. In our case, we had leftover gold glitter glue from our other snowflakes above. Then just stick the Q-tips onto the glue.

Paper Snowflake Fight

Grab a big stack of white printer paper and set it in the middle of a large empty area. On the count of three everyone runs to the middle and crinkles the paper up into a ball. Teams can either start stacking the balls or immediately start throwing at each other.

*BONUS: Draw letters or math problems on each one. In order for them to be able to throw it at you, they must say the letter or solve the problem. We did ours with letters and I had my oldest give me the sound of the letter while the younger two just had to name the letter.

Ice Skating Rink

 

Fill a cookie sheet that has edges with water. Place it outside for a few hours to freeze the water. Bring it in and set out your child’s little figures or cars or anything that they want to use to ice skate.

What do you like to do to keep everyone busy on these super cold, snowy days?

For more great tips on surviving bad weather with kids check out Chronicles of a Babywise Mom. She has some amazing tips and ideas!

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Safety Tips to Teach Your Children

Opposites truly do attract because when it comes to safety, my husband and I are on opposite ends. While he would be the one jumping out of airplanes and believing a little rough and tumble freedom does a child well, I’m over here ready to put them in a bubble and protect them from EVERYTHING. With that being said, we have put together a list of things that we can both agree are important in keeping our children safe.

I now realize what I thought at the time was my Mom’s irrational fear, was very valid. Just turn on the news and you get a healthy dose of reality. Although I would love to believe in the good of the world, I also want to be prepared.

If you stop and think of all the information that you know that keeps you safe it’s a little overwhelming. There are a few basic things that children need to know in order to give them the best help possible in an emergency.

Things to Memorize

At the age of three, or even younger depending on the development of your child, it is important to start practicing and helping them memorize important pieces of information to help keep them safe.

Mom and Dad’s Full Name

Children not only need to know their full name but they also need to know their parent’s full name. If they are ever lost or separated from you, this information will help other people assist them in finding you.

The Main Phone Number

Although your child might not carry their own phone, chances are there will be someone around them with a cell phone they could use. It is so important that they know your number so that if there was an emergency or if they are separated from you, they could contact you. We made up a silly little rhythmic tune and chunk the numbers together to make it easier to remember.

Full Address

It is so important for children to be able to tell emergency personnel where they live. If something has happened to you, they need to be able to locate your house. Chunk the address into smaller parts or practice it in little sections so that it isn’t too overwhelming.

Allergies or Health Concerns For Them and Family Members

A child needs to know if they have any allergies or health conditions. At a young age, we need them to start advocating for themselves and being cognizant of these things. It can also be important for them to know other health concerns for other members of the family in case they need to relay that message to those that are trying to help.

Code Word

A code word is a word that your family knows and recognizes as a word they use when they are feeling unsafe or need help. This word allows you to discretely remove the child from the situation without drawing attention to what is happening. A codeword can also be used in situations where someone says they are sent to pick up your child. If the person offering them a ride doesn’t know the code word then the child will know that should seek out help.

Take a look at how one father started the X Plan for his family to help them feel safe and avoid uncomfortable situations.

Tips and Trick to Keep Kids Safe

AngelSense

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children “attempted abductions happen more often when a child is going to and from school or school-related activities. The risk was greatest for school-age children on school days before (7-9am) and after school (3-4pm) and again after dinner time (6-7pm)”.

AngelSense is a wearable GPS locator for children especially those with special needs. Not only can you see where your child is but you can also use their AngelCall 2-way voice to talk to your child. It can also give you peace of mind because you are able to hear what is happening in class, on the bus, or anywhere. This is especially useful for those children having issues while on the bus. And for an added bonus, you will know exactly when the bus is arriving and when you should expect your child!

To purchase an AngelSense Guardian Kit visit angelsense.com/ihelpmoms and use the “ihelpmoms” discount code for $50 off your kit!

Practice 9-1-1

The days of simply picking up the phone and dialing 9-1-1 are over. With the development of cell phones comes a whole new component to learning to dial 9-1-1. First off, each cell phone is different which can be challenging even for some adults. Take for example the iPhone 7 or older, in order for a child to call for help on a locked phone they must push the HOME button, tap emergency, dial 9-1-1, and press the green button to call.  I highly advise going through all of these steps numerous times so that your child is fluent in how to call for help.

Also, Apple has now announced a new SOS feature for newer phones that you can check out!

With an older phone such as mine, you can repeatedly push the power button until a screen pops up with an Emergency SOS slide button. This might also be a great option to teach your children.

If Lost…Find a Mom with Children

It is so easy to get lost in a crowd of people. Parks, like these amazing ones in the MN Twin Cities, are enough to make any Mom’s anxiety level rise sky high. Whenever we are out in a location that has a lot of people and a chance of getting separated, the first thing I do is establish a meeting location. I point out something that is easy to spot. I remind them that if they can’t find me to go to that spot and I will meet them there. The second thing I always talk to them about is to find a mom with children and ask her for help. Most likely that mom will be an understanding, safe person to help them.

Get Rid of the Personalized Items

Personalized items are fun and cute but they give predators crucial information and jeopardize the safety of our children. Predators are able to act like they know your child just from reading the name on a backpack, lunch box or clothing item.

Acting out situations where strangers approach them and act like they know them might help your child have the tools to feel confident in a situation like this. This would be a great time to practice your families’ code word.

Body Safety

Teach children to be cognizant about changing discretely and respecting their privacy. Absolutely no one should be touching you in places where your swimsuit covers. If anyone touches you or tells you to keep a secret, tell an adult right away!

Guidelines to Establish

Building Trust:
  1. Secrets Aren’t Okay-If anyone tells them to keep a secret from a parent, then it is probably because it is something bad and needs to be shared with a trusted adult.
  2. Always check with Mom or Dad before going anywhere with anyone…even if they say that “It’s okay with your parents”.
  3. It’s okay to say “NO” or not be polite when you are in a situation that is scary or uncomfortable.
Car Safety:

  1. Unbuckle and honk the horn-If you are ever left in a car that is hot or if you are in a car and aren’t safe, unbuckle and honk the horn. I’ve taught my children at a young age how to unbuckle their own car seats so that they can get out if need be. We have a Bucklebee for each seat which has been a life-saver in getting them to independently unbuckle.
  2. Hand on the side- Parking lots and little one’s safety can be a Mother’s nightmare. From little on we have a spot on the car that the child must put their hand while they are waiting for us to get the other ones out. (A car magnet can be a great way to mark this spot.) This keeps them right by me and elevates the risk of them running wondering into the parking lot or getting hit but inattentive drivers.
  3. Watch for cars in driveways- It took many years before my own Mom let me ride my bike around the block. I now understand a little bit more as to why that was. She knew my biking skills were up to par, that wasn’t the issue. The real issue was the driveways. People often fly in and out of their driveway with barely a backward glance. Even with the development of backup cameras, I still find it so important to coach my children to watch driveways and keep an eye out for the backup lights on a car.

    We all need a little support when it comes to keeping our kids safe.
Fire Safety
  1. NEVER HIDE!
  2. Firefighters may look or sound scary but they are there to help! If you can, show them what the outfit looks and sounds like.
  3. Get out and meet at a common location. Practice getting low to the ground and getting out as quickly as possible. Make sure they know to go right to the meeting place.
  4. Once you are out, STAY OUT! Nothing is worth going back in for.
I must add that we haven’t hit the internet safety since we are not at that stage in life. That has its own set of safety rules and guidelines. Without being at that stage, I don’t feel comfortable sharing tips.

Mom-anxiety is a real thing for so many reasons! We have precious little lives that we must teach and protect. Our job is challenging. There are so many responsibilities weighing on us. Hopefully, these tips can help us all remember the big things that we need our children to know to stay safe.

Let’s help them navigate this crazy, beautiful world safely!

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Memorable Christmas Games

When my first was born, I decided I wanted my family to have more traditions. I thought these traditions were something that made your family unique and gave you lasting memories. One of the first things I started was a Christmas PJ party with my whole family which included PJs of course, lots of delicious food, festive drinks, and my favorite part…CHRISTMAS GAMES!

It is because of these Christmas games, my Christmas memories are filled with laughter and excitement.

Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t love having memories of your grandpa trying to wiggle a cookie down his face while he makes ridiculous faces or of your competitive grandma swinging a string and puffball in her mouth feverishly trying to get it to stick to her vaseline covered nose?

I’m a huge advocate of games and how they build bonds between family members. I even have a whole blog dedicated to over 30 educational family games! So many of my best memories of my family involve playing games together.

In an attempt to liven up your holidays and get everyone off the couch and creating memories, I’m going to share with you some of our all-time favorite Christmas games.

Antler Ring Toss

 

Currently, at Kohls, they have this adorable game! You blow up the antlers and rings. Tie the antlers to your head and enjoy all the ridiculousness of this awesome game! You can play that the person with the antlers has to stand still or that they are working together as a team and have them move to help you snag the antlers.

Kahoot Christmas Edition

Kahoot is an amazing game to get everyone using their devices in a constructive way. Everyone will get a code to join your game. You can use the ready-made Christmas questions and add your own for a personal touch. We tried to come up with questions in reference to our past Christmases. More technology savvy people took a seat next to those that weren’t as versed in technology. You may want to request people to bring their tablets, i-pads, laptops, etc. so that everyone has access to a device. Then everyone races against the clock to answer the trivia questions fastest. If you have ever been to Buffalo Wild Wings, it is set up very similar to their trivia game.

Jingle Bell Toss

If you have ever been to a college party and played beer pong, then you will be an expert at this game. Set up your red solo cups in a Christmas tree pattern (4,3,2,1…as shown above) and do the same for your opponent a few feet away. Using bells, try to throw them into the cups. When they land in a cup, remove that cup. Continue this pattern until all of the cups have been removed. The first one to get rid of all the cups is the winner. Head over to Playground Parkbench for a clever and easy way to construct this game to use over and over again.

Snowball Fight

Target Dollar Spot has these adorable Santa slingshots that make for the perfect Christmas game. They also have tubes filled with soft “snowballs”. Purchase a few of these and let the games begin! We also used the slingshots to try to catch the snowballs in Santa hats as well for another element to the game.

Snowman Knock Down

Decorate white cups to look like snowmen. Grab ball pit balls to see if you can knock down all the snowmen in a minute.

Toilet Paper Snowmen

Gather a roll of toilet paper, a hat, scarf, and carrot (or any other snowman materials you may have in your house). Each partner pair will need one of each of the items. Agree upon a time (1 or 2 minutes is recommended) and see who can make their partner into the best snowman.

Mitten Mayhem

Give each player a set of gloves and a Hersey kiss. See who can unwrap their chocolate the fastest while wearing their gloves.

Christmas Pictionary with a Twist

I found this twist on the traditional game of Pictionary over at Happy Home Fairy and loved everything about it! Head over to their blog for step-by-step directions.

Red Hot Pinchers

A tray of Red Hots candy (also known as cinnamon imperials)  and tweezers can add a fun element to this race against the clock game. Try to see how many red hots you can pick up and put into a cup before a minute is up. My eighteen month old wanted to join in so we gave her a plastic spoon and she was able to compete as well.

Snowball Shake

Take an empty Kleenex box and tear out the plastic that is in the center. Secure the back of the Kleenex box to a large string. Fill the box with ping-pong balls and tie it around the player’s waist. See how many ping-pong balls they can shake out in a minutes time. Whoever can shake out the most is the winner.

Rudolf Nose Stick

Each player gets a string with a cotton ball hot glued to the end of it and a dab of vaseline on their nose. Without using their hands they must swing the cotton ball up and get it to stick to their nose. The first person to complete the task is the winner. Caution…this can get wild!

Christmas Bingo

Pinterest is filled with fun Christmas bingo games such as this one from The Girl Creative Blog. We used Christmas M&Ms to mark our gameboards but I’ve also seen Christmas Hersey kisses used. The pictures make it a game that gets even the youngest players involved!

Christmas Charades

Put together a bunch of traditional Christmas words on pieces of paper. Have a person draw a word or phrase out of the tin and act it out without talking. The person who guesses is the next person to act.

Naughty Elf Noodle Race

Grab a box of penne noodles and a box of spaghetti noodles. Using only a spaghetti noodle in their mouth, the players must put as many penne noodles on their spaghetti noodle as possible in a minute.

Naughty or Nice

Everyone had a few good laughs from this game. We let the youngest players decide after each player read what they drew if what they said was naughty or nice. We went around a few times and found out who was the naughtiest and who was the nicest! Of course, we had to take a picture of the naughty people and the nice people.

Grab a copy of the printable from The Crafty Blog Stalker or create your own for a little twist. (They put the paper in punch through cups, however, we just put ours in a bag and drew them out for simplicity sake.)

Marshmallow Snowman Stacking

See how many marshmallows everyone can stack in a minute. The person who stacks the most marshmallows on top of each other is the winner.

Snowball Wreath Toss

Take down the wreath on your door and use that for this game. See who can throw the most snowballs (either marshmallows or the Target snowballs from the previous game) through the wreath in a minute.

Christmas Tree Cup Stacking

Race against the clock and your opponent to see who can stack the most cups in a pyramid or Christmas tree shape in a minute.

Reindeer Nose Race

Gather cotton balls, the jingle bells from your other games, and one red puffball into a container on one end of the room. Gather each team on the other side of the room with a plastic spoon and an empty container at their feet. Give them a minute to race back and forth and gather as many “noses” as possible without dropping them.

Cotton Balls = 1 point

Jingle Bells = 2 points

Red Puff Ball = 5 points

Whoever has the most points in a minute is the winner.

Christmas Cookie Face

It is finally time to dig into those delicious Christmas cookies! Each player puts one on their forehead as they tip their heads back. The players must get the cookie to their mouth to eat it using only their facial muscles. Whoever can successfully complete the task first is the winner!

I’m all for simplifying life.

I have a special bin filled with all the materials (minus the perishables of course), costumes, and photo props that we use for our Christmas PJ party. This makes it quick and easy to set up each year.

I challenge you to go create memories this Christmas! And while you are at it, check out these great memory making Christmas gift ideas for kids!

 

Four years of amazing memories…

and still going strong…

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How to Support a Blogger

The blogging world is a foreign entity for so many. As a person fully submersed in the ins and outs of it I often forget this. Although this is not my typical type of blog, I find it important to share with you how you can support a blogger. If someone has written something that resonates with you or if you follow along with a blogger who you feel connected to, I want you to know what things you can do to help them be more successful in this challenging, competitive network. You may not even realize that there are very simple things that you can do that makes that blogger do a happy dance!

Sharing is Caring:

I say this in a cheeky, teasing way but in all honesty, sharing means SO much when it comes to supporting a blogger! It spreads the word, gets more people engaged, and drives traffic to the blogger. So how do you go about sharing what they write? There are little icons for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. on most blogs. If something connects with you hit one of those buttons and it will allow you to post that article on your social media. And feel free to do more than one! Share it on your Facebook and your Twitter and then Pin it to your Pinterest! We will be throwing our hands up in excitement and jubilation.

Why Pin the blog post?

The more people that pin a post, the more it gets suggested to others. It’s a dog-eat-dog numbers game out here on the web. Everything is about the numbers. More pins = more exposure just like more shares/tweets = more engagement.

This shows that my pin has been saved to 218 boards and has had a total engagement of 464 people.
If you look at the little gray bar graph to the right under the pin you can see the number of people each pin has reached.
How can you use Twitter to help?

Twitter is a pretty straightforward way to share. Simply click the heart and then hit the retweet button. The more people that like the post or retweet it, the more chances we have that they will read the blog.

The Messy Instagram Algorithm:

Instagram has been playing a hard numbers game lately. Posts aren’t getting shown on newsfeeds the same way that they were before and everyone is fighting to get likes and followers. It’s complicated. If you know someone that you enjoy seeing their posts, you may have to search for them. You may see that they have posted a few posts and you never saw them in your feed. Like their posts if you see them or if you have time search for them to double check if they have posted recently. Adding a comment by clicking on the speech bubble will also help increase the chances that their post will be shown on more feeds. You could even snap a picture of their Instagram feed and put in on your story encouraging others to check them out!

What about their Facebook page?

First and foremost like the page and follow it! Suggest to other people to do the same thing! I can’t tell you how important it is to have people liking and following your page. Silly I know, but like I said, numbers matter in this internet word.

After you like the blogger’s main page, when we post something, a simple thumbs up (like) on the post is important. Yes, I know it is crazy but even getting more likes on a post drives traffic. Love it, then let us know! Did it make you laugh out loud, then hit the reaction for us?  Want to score major points, add a comment for us. You will make our day.

And once again sharing things that we post is huge! Sharing right on Facebook is easy. Just hit the share button and it will end up on your page. Don’t feel like you have to share everything but, if it is something you connected with or something that the person you care about personally wrote and spent hours poring over as they selected the correct word choice and found the perfect image to portray their feelings…and you share it, it MEANS SO MUCH TO US!

Facebook Breakdown:

Since we are talking so much about numbers, let’s break down the importance of your help on Facebook. To put it into perspective, let’s say that a Like = 1 point, Comment = 7 points, and a Share = 14 points all of which impact engagement and increase our reach!

If you compare the next two posts you can see the difference sharing and comments can make in the impact or reach of a post.
The first post reached 375 people by being liked 84 times, commented 33 times, and shared 2 times. The second post reached 764 people by being liked 71 times, commented 55 times, and shared 6 times.
What it all means…

Basically, it’s a numbers game out here and it’s ruthless. In some ways, it’s petty I know. But those numbers are what support a blogger and push us forward in our blogging careers. And hopefully, you now understand a little better how you can support the people in your life who put their souls out there for all to read.

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