Trading More Kids’ “Stuff” for Christmas Gifts That Make Memories

Christmas is here and with it comes the search for the “perfect Christmas gift”. Often time’s children get inundated with trinkets and toys that pile up and become overwhelming from a parent standpoint. Unique experience Christmas gifts are a great way to alleviate some of this holiday anxiety while at the same time making lasting memories. I know as a parent I would personally be elated if someone did some of these things for my children instead of getting them more “stuff”.

Here are some ideas that I think would be valuable to fill their memory bank instead of the clutter your house!

Experience Gifts:

A Membership to the Children’s Museum and/or Science Museum

We LOVE our local Children’s Museum!

These museums are gems, filled with play-based learning that you can do with your children. They become a great haven for kids to explore and learn with new materials. Get a family pass for them to go any time throughout the year or just a few passes for them to go with you! Set aside the time to go with them and get in on the action as they create projects, do experiments, try out hands-on stations, and have tons of fun! Best of all you are helping foster their love of learning!

A Membership to the Local Zoo, Playgroup Areas, Pools, Arboretums, etc.

Do a little digging for some fun local areas to take kids. Many of these places sell memberships or passes that you can give as Christmas gifts. As a Mom who loves to take the kids on adventures, having memberships to different places can be very helpful. Often pools, zoos, arboretums, nature centers, and playgroup areas have season passes that might not normally be in the budget but if they receive it as a gift they may be able to experience it more often.

My girls loved experiencing the Butterfly House at Beaver Creek with their Mema and Grandma-Great!

In our local area, we have unique places such as Tiny Tots or the Indoor Sports Center, where kids are able to play. These venues are especially nice in the winter or on rainy days! We also have Beaver Creek Reserve which has a lot of fun nature trails and activities, as well as an area for the kids to play. Our local pool also sells summer passes that might be a fun idea, however, living in the midwest this gift wouldn’t be used until summer…or for a winter option, we have a local volleyball complex that turns the sand area into an indoor kids’ beach party! They sell passes for that as well!

Indoor beach parties are perfect for March in WI!

When we were in Dallas, we fell in love with their Arboretum. It had a whole area dedicated to children where they could explore and learn in an outside setting that was similar to a children’s museum. You can bet that if we lived there, we would LOVE a membership!

Each city has its own unique venues for children!

Dig around the area that the children live in and find out what are the great family-friendly places. There might be a whole bunch of hidden gems that you can help them experience. Any of these places would make great Christmas gifts! Parents would be thankful and kids would be reminded of you each time they visit!

Classes for the Children

Swimming lessons were a hit with this little fish!

Cooking classes, dance classes, karate, soccer, piano lessons, painting classes…all of these are fun activities for kids but add up for parents. It is such a blessing when a family member says that these lessons will be their Christmas or birthday gift!

We have a fun place called The Lily Pad lab that offers a variety of different classes geared towards younger children and their parents. As a mom of three, I struggle with providing a class for one and not the other. Taking all of them to class would break the bank! Having the flexibility to do this because it was given to them as a Christmas gift can be such a relief as a parent. You want your children to have experiences, but they must fit in the budget as well! You can feel good that you are helping out the parents and helping give them experiences to make them a well-rounded person.

If someone does give them a class as a gift, we always make it a point of talking to the children each time we go to the lesson how lucky they are that they are able to go because “Grandma Susy” got them these classes. And as an added bonus, if you are able to go with them to the classes that would be even better! Then you are making memories with them!

Day-Date

My oldest spent an evening packing meals for people in need with her Mema.

Taking the children on a date is a great Christmas gift! They will be so excited to have that special one-on-one time with you. It will be something you can be sure they will talk about for days and they will remember for years! Do something they enjoy together whether it is going to dinner and a movie, go bowling, play at the library, checking out a park, or picking out a craft at the craft store to go home and complete together. Giggle, have fun, and let their youthful excitement rub off on you!

What kid wouldn’t like a date to Chuck E. Cheese?

Trampoline Park Pass

Trampoline park Christmas gifts

Winter time and rainy days make for lots of cooped up energy! Give them the gift of time at the Trampoline Park! By the end of it, they will happily have quiet rest time and their parents will be so thankful!

Theater Productions

Get them tickets to see a live theater production! Support the local arts while providing the children with a cultured experience of viewing a live theatrical performance. This year we are giving our girls tickets to go see the Annie at our local theatre, ECCT. They are so excited and so are we!

Tickets to Unique Events

Christmas gifts
Tickets to the Princess Tea for a gift!

Is someone a big music buff? Does another one love princesses? Is one in love with a certain sport? Get tickets to a concert, Disney on Ice, Princess Tea Parties, or a local sports game. Take them to the event and invest in that time together. Not only are you investing time with them but you are also showing them you are in tune with what things they like and care about their interests.

Hotel Stay/Water Park Night

What is more fun than spending the night at a hotel and hitting up their pool!? Rent some movies, pop some popcorn, and swim to your heart’s content! Enjoy the time together. That is more important than any toy that will lose its luster after a few days.

Kids Love Mail:

Millennials are big into things coming to them in the mail. Subscription boxes are in big demand. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love it when something shows up in your mailbox or on your doorstep? They are also a great Christmas gift that keeps on giving for months! It can be something easy for relatives that are farther away or who aren’t as familiar with local venues. Here is my tip since I’m all about making connections and going the extra mile…have them Facetime or Skype when they open the box or get the subscription each month! You can still be a part of the excitement from afar.

Magazine Subscriptions

My grandparents did this for me as a child and I loved it! Now our children get a magazine a month sent to them and it is so fun to watch their excitement when it comes in the mail! Here are some great magazines to look into:

Box Subscriptions

Christmas Gifts

There are so many fun subscription boxes to choose from. My current favorites are The Story Box and the newly launched Little Feminist Book Club for kids. I love books and these provide questions and interactive activities that go with the stories! And while you are at it maybe you want to look at a Date Night In subscription for the adults!

Why These Types of Christmas Gifts?

I recently was at dinner with a good friend whose Aunt was passing away. One thing she said really resonated with me. She said, “She was the Aunt that got down on the floor and played with us and spent time with us.” It was in the little things that she did to foster a relationship by creating experiences together that she honored and remembered at the time of her passing.

At the end of the day, it will not matter how many things you bought them, but what will stand out is that you connected with them!

Twin Cities Parks with Littles

Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN a.k.a. the Twin Cities has so many great parks and places to explore with your littles on a sunny summer day! Since the Twin Cities are right in our back yard it makes for a great day trip. I actually just returned from spending three days there with my three littles. I’m going to highlight a few of the fun places that we spent a good chunk of our time at. My kids loved these places and so we felt compelled to share these great Twin Cities parks with you so that you too can experience the fun!

Hyland Lake Park Reserve

Located in the Three Rivers District, this park seems to have access to everything you could want! It is home of the Richardson Nature Center . The center has many different events for families as well as a bunch of fun kits that the kids can borrow to catch bugs, explore the ponds, or go on a bird watching hike.

Along with having a variety of landscapes for walking and picturesque spots for a picnic, the main attraction to this park for us was their massive playground!

I mean seriously massive. This place spans 16,000 square feet and has slides up to 50 feet long!

A word to the wise I would definitely go with man to man coverage on your kids if you are a little more on the cautious side like I am. There is truly something for everyone at this park. I can honestly say I have never been to anything like this before. One look at it and you know why they have won awards for creativity and ingenuity!

There are multiple different play areas that are perfect for different ages and stages.

The toddler park is located to the left and has a small plastic climber with a few small slides. The only downfall to this part is that it is sand which we all know can be a little challenging with littles who love to put everything in their mouths.

There are only two swings at this playground so it does take a long time to get a turn if your little one has their heart set on swinging!

At the center is a play set that is the next step up. It’s got a lot of ramps and smaller slides for those kids who are a little too old for the toddler area but not quite ready for all the climbing of the other areas. This was where my two year old found her niche. She could run and climb on everything independently and wasn’t scared of going down any of the slides by herself.

All the other areas of the park are great for stronger, more independent children probably ages 4+ (depending on your child). A large area of the park reminds me of the McDonalds Play Area only on a much larger scale! It has netted tunnels that are a maze to me from down below. My oldest had a heyday climbing through these. Coming back to this park I would make her wear something super bright colored (avoid blue or black clothing-the color of the equipment) so that I could spot her as she spider monkey’s her way through all the netting. At one point I chuckled out loud as a large mass of children were climbing their way through ropes and sitting on a suspended chair because it truly did look like a troop of monkeys!

Good to Know:
  • It is completely free!
  • Bring lots of help (one adult to one child ratio is best especially with younger children) or try to avoid weekends/holidays where it may be extra busy!
  • Establish a meeting spot in case you do get separated.
  • Have kids wear bright colored clothing (avoid black or blue).
  • They do have a Visitor Center with bathrooms and concessions.
  • Pack a lunch, snacks, lots of water or drinks, and of course SUNSCREEN!
  • Towels, swimsuts, or a change of clothes may be helpful since there is an area that sprays a mist of water.
  • Wear shoes that are good for climbing but that can also get wet. The equipment and floors can get very hot so I would make sure to bring shoes.
  • Fenced in with only one exit (whew!)
  • Handicap accessible with ramps for wheelchairs and strollers
  • Open April through October (weather permitting) 9 a.m. to sunset

 

Central Park of Maple Grove

12000 Central Park Way
Maple Grove, MN

I can’t even begin to express how much fun the Central Park of Maple Grove is and how nice it is!

Let’s start out with the interactive fountains, a 2,100 sq. ft. area with 49 jet sprays and 18 arching sprays. It is a hot day haven for kids and parents alike! This feature is free and open seven days a week starting at 10 a.m. Bring swimming suits and towels and use their clean restroom facilities to change before heading home!

Fun fact: It goes into show mode from 8:45-10:00 p.m. where the fountains light up with different colors!

Next to the fountains is the playground with seven play zones, 24-foot climbing tower with tunnel slides, a hillside slide area, a 3 unique swing including one that was like a teeter-totter swing (I seriously considered making my sister try that one out with me!), and a 120-foot long climbing wall. This park is customized with unique play equipment you won’t find anywhere else. It really is almost like a piece of art!  Most of the area is rubberized so I would advise good play shoes since it does get very hot! A few areas are sand which can be a little tricky if you are still wet from playing in the fountains.

I want to go back in the winter to try out their LED lit 810 feet long ice skating loop! Check back and who knows maybe I’ll update you on this park’s winter features!

Good to know:
  • There is a picnic area as well as a lot of beautiful green space if you want to pack a lunch or snack.
  • They do have a small concession stand inside near the restrooms.
  • Be prepared with good shoes and sunscreen since there isn’t much shade so the ground gets hot and the sun is strong!
  • Changing areas and restrooms are available.

 

Van Cleve Park

901 15th Ave. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414

In the heart of Minneapolis is a little park with a great wading pool for little ones. At it’s deepest it is 2 feet deep, perfect for little swimmers! It is open daily from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. and will stay open till 10 p.m. if the temperature is over 85 degrees at 6:00 p.m. They do have a playground and toddler playground but truly the best part about this park in the summer is the wading pool! It is free for anyone to use and has been newly remodeled. Best of all, it isn’t crazy busy like a lot of the other parks I have mentioned so you can have a more intimate and relaxing time with your family.

(And it might just be on my winter ice skating list as well since they too have a rink in the winter!)

 

Como Park Zoo ad Conservatory 

I’m always surprised with the number of people that haven’t been to Como Park Zoo! We frequent it multiple times a year and are always please with our visit! It is a free zoo (donation based $3 for adult and $2 for children is suggested). Como is filled with elaborate gardens including a fun butterfly garden with moths, I kid you not, as big as birds, an amusement park, a splash zone, and of course a variety of animals! Every time we go we are pleasantly surprised with how active and engaging the animals are! The monkeys and gorillas are sure to put on a fun little show for you as they play together. And of course there is a whole carnival, amusement park with a splash pad to explore as well!

Before you go be sure to check out their website to find out what unique programs they are offering that day!

Good to know:
  • You can pack a cooler with drinks and food.
  • They do have a restaurant and concession stands.
  • Make sure you have comfortable walking shoes and sunscreen!
  • Strollers and wheelchairs are available to rent. Single strollers and wheelchairs are $5/day and double strollers are $8/day. Electric scooters are also available for $20/day.
  • There are multiple bathrooms throughout the area.
  • It is open every day of the year! (April-September 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and October-March 10 a.m.-4 p.m.)
  • Also in the area is Lake Como, mini-golf, a pool, and picnic areas!

Elm Creek Park Reserve

Elm Creek is the largest park in the Three Rivers Area. It has a wide range of things to offer including a whole area dedicated to disc golf, a nature center, an archery range and a swimming pond!

The play area itself is one of the largest in the state and offers something for each age group. It opened in 2011 and was a $1.2 million project, just to put it in perspective a little…

It is sectioned off into seven play zone which does make it a little harder to watch multiple children if they all want to be in different areas. I will say though I saw play equipment here that once again I’ve never seen before in my life and it had me wishing I was a kid again! It is designed to inspire creativity and imagination while exercising and strengthening gross motors muscles. For example, it has a 30 ft. dinosaur buried in the sand to climb and explore!

Take for example this awesome skateboard track:

If you haven’t explored this park, I highly suggest you give it a go! And plan for an all day event! There is plenty to do to keep everyone busy!

Good to know:
  • There are bathroom facilities right near the park in two different locations.
  • Picnic tables are around for adults to sit and relax or for a little lunch/snack break.

  • The play area is entirely wheelchair accessible!!!
  • The swimming area is located just to the right of the playground area.
  • You may want to bring your swimsuits and towels if you would like to partake in the swimming pond. It does cost $5 per person ages 1 and up to swim at the beach. But it is a very clean (chlorinated and filtered) water and beach to spend the afternoon. The water gradually increases from zero feet to six feet deep. It also has facilities located at the beach area for restrooms, changing, and concessions. There is a lifeguard on duty at the lifeguard stand. It is open Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend.
  • The swimming area has a wheel chair ramp into the three feet deep area and you can rent floating beach chairs.

Future Parks we will be visiting:

  • Centennial Lakes

Check back or subscribe so you don’t miss out on info on these parks when we go try them out! And of course be looking for more about our winter adventures as well!

 

 

 

 

Summer Fun on a Budget

Summer has been full of fun, cheap adventures that have kept us happily busy!

I truly had planned to write up a bunch of fun 4th of July activities that we were going to do in preparation for the 4th of July but, that didn’t happen. Let’s be real here, it’s busy and doing a craft project just doesn’t seem to be fitting in with our lifestyle right now and I’m totally okay with that! The winter will be here soon enough and our days will be filled with crafts, books, and games once again. But for now, it is SUMMER! And we are going to live every moment drinking up this beautiful sunshine!

So you may be asking yourself what sorts of cheap or free things have been keeping us so busy? Well I’ll share them with you in hopes that you too can find some adventures in your neck of the woods!

Family Fun Runs

I am not a runner by any means. It’s just not my thing. Lately though, everywhere I look there is information about these fun different runs that people are doing! It just so happened the our whole family has now done two Color Runs! What is more fun that getting covered with a bunch of different colors as you run around together!? Look in your area maybe you all can go do an obstacle course through the mud like the Tough Mudder. Or what could be more fun than running through a bunch of inflatables as your obstacle course!  Usually there is a small fee to enter however, in our cases both were donation based events for local schools.

Making memories with family + Supporting a good cause + Being healthy and active= Major win!

                

Free Zoo

In our area there are a few different options for free zoos. Having the flexibility in the summer allows us to be able to go on more of a whim! We always try to shoot for a week day when the weather looks nice since it isn’t as crowded during the week. I pack a cooler with lunches, snacks, and drinks to help save money on food. We all wear comfy shoes and spend the day meandering around the zoo. Even the littlest one is in awe of all the animals.

As you can see, my middle child was not happy being so close to the mom and baby gorillas!
A face to face view of the grizzly bear!

Free Zoos near Eau Claire, WI:

Irvine Park

Como Zoo

Trips to the Beach

Nothing beats the beach on a hot summer day! Most beaches are free to the public or just have a small parking fee. I have a bag of sand toys always packed and ready to grab! We throw together a bag full of sunscreen, towels, life-vests, tubes, and a change of clothes. (Be watching Instagram to find out about the newest all natural sunscreen that I recently discovered!) Then we work together to pack a few food items that everyone likes! And of course being out in the sun we make sure to bring lots of water to drink! The littles can play to their hearts content and then nap on the beach when they get tuckered out! That is definitely one of my favorite ways to spend the day! These pictures were taken at Lake Altoona Beach, a great place to swim in early summer.

             

Bike Trails

Our area is full of different bike trails and paths to explore. Even if its just for a quick jaunt together or a longer trip that usually end with a stop to get ice cream, we always have a blast! The girls love riding in the Burley Bike Trailer and my oldest is building up her stamina to ride her own bike! Once again we feel good since we are having fun together but also staying active!

Good thing she has a little sis to give her the extra boost she needs every once and awhile!

Nature Hikes

Along with bike trails, there are lots of unique walking paths in our town to explore. And sometimes we find ourselves forging our own trails! The girls love to find different flowers along the way, as well as sticks, feathers, and other fun things to collect! We usually pack snacks in the stroller because as you all know, kids are hungry all the time! This allows for us to explore for longer periods of time. These pictures are from a recent hike along the Chippewa Water Trail.

                 

Feeding the Ducks and Throwing Rocks

Eau Claire means “Clear Water” so our city is full of fun areas along the river to spend an afternoon. My girls could throw rocks in the water for hours! And of course we have to bring along any bread to feed any ducks we may see.

Treasure Hunting

Growing up we always stopped at thrift sales (or garage sales as some call them) whenever we went anywhere. As kids we would grab whatever coins we could scrounge together and come home with all kinds of fun treasures. It is still something my Grandparents, my Mom, and I love to do. Of course the thrill of finding unique treasures has now been passed on to my girls. My husband is not a huge fan but it has seriously clothed our children, basically filled all our bookshelves and playroom, and decorated much of our house! (Check out the cute lemonade stand I just scored here.)The other day it was my husband’s birthday and my four year old grabs her purse on the way out the door to lunch and says to him excitedly, “Do you think there will be any thrift sales along the way Dad?!” Of course it was a Sunday and it was his birthday so the chances of going treasure hunting that day were slim to none. I had to laugh at her excitement and the fact that the tradition had now rubbed off on her!

These roller skates were our newest finds! We found the brand new Frozen pair for $4 and the other pair at another sale for $1!

Trips to the Park

There are so many different parks around town to explore. Each one has something different to offer the kids. It has been kind of a fun bucket list idea of ours to write down all the parks in our town and try to visit each of them! I love to see how excited the kids get when we visit a park they have never been to before. If you haven’t checked out the new playground at Altoona Elementary School, we highly recommend it! They did a great job of survey the kids to get their input on what type of equipment they enjoyed playing on.

  

Free Kid’s Classes

Keep your eyes and ears posted for fun classes that are being offered.

Churches are a great option for fun summer activities. My four year old just had a blast at her Vacation Bible School Class this past week. It was free for anyone who wanted to come and have fun and learn about God! They sang songs, did all kinds of fun experiments, played games, and made different projects together! She gained so much from that week.

We have also found a fun free Yoga in the Park for Kids class that happens every Tuesday. The girls grab their mats and practice their poses with other kids. The leader does a great job leading them in playing games, doing stories with actions, and strengthening their bodies.

Another resource to check is your local schools and libraries! They have a bunch of fun, free classes that they offer for kids over the summer.

S’mores and Campfires

Evening fires and s’mores have been a large part of our evenings lately. We just finished up our new patio area and so we are spending a ton of time out there. Sitting around the fire is a perfect time to reflect on the day together and just relax. Of course, the girls are always thrilled to roast a marshmallow over the fire. Although it is messy, nothing is cuter than a kid devouring a large s’more.

Our first s’mores on our new patio!

Community Events

I love to check out the Events Calendar that our city puts online. There are so many great activities happening all the time!

Last week, on the day of the Summer Solstices, a local yoga company put together a large free event for the International Day of Yoga. They had face painting, vendors, and live music. Then they led a class for a large group of people. The older two girls and I went with some friends and had a great time! There is also free Yoga in the Park for everyone on Thursdays and Saturdays!

Booked on our calendar is:

  • Family Fun Day– a free event with live music, sports, demonstrations, exhibitors, arts, an outdoor movie, and so much more! This year we are excited to watch The Secret Life of Pets on the big outdoor screen!

             

  • Chalkfest– a free event where local artist spend the day covering the sidewalk with unique pieces of art. At the end of the day, the pieces are judged and awards are announced. They have fun chalk related games and food vendors out so you can spend the day watching the chalk artwork progress. The kids can also participate by adding to the kid’s sidewalk mural.

                   

  • Dragon Boat Festival-watch teams paddle large Hong Kong style dragon boats along a 250 meter course.
  • Ski Sprites– We love to go on Wednesday and Sunday nights to Lake Altoona Beach to watch the Ski Sprites preform daring tricks!

I’m sure there will be many more spur of the moment community activities that will fill our calendar.

Strawberry Picking

I just took the kids to a local strawberry patch with a friend and her little ones this week! It was perfect! The baby was content pulling berries off the vine and stuffing them into her mouth. The kids were content eating strawberries and occasionally putting berries in their buckets. And we got to pick berries while chatting together. It really was such a wonderful time! And we came home with a pail full of delicious, juicy berries! These pictures were taken at Mcilquham’s Orchard.

                 

I’m hoping to take them blueberry picking soon because those are my favorite to pick! They are seriously the easiest berry to pick and fresh blueberries are hands down THE BEST!

Playing in the Rain

Summer rains are the best time to go out and play! The air is warm and the cool rain is refreshing. Rain boots and “sumbrellas” as my middle baby says, are fun accessories that we don’t often get to use! Here is the link to score a cute frog umbrella like ours! I’ll be honest though, I got mine treasure hunting at a thrift sale! I love going out with all the kids and splashing in the puddles with them. We have splash contests and races. Best of all, occasionally Daddy comes home during our rain adventures and joins in, dress clothes and all!

  

Backyard Water Play

I love setting up water play areas in our yard. It is so much easier for me than to bring all these young kids to the pool.

  • I put up our pool which has a slide and sprinkler on it. (Another find of mine from treasure hunting that I scored for FREE!) I also bring over a small little tikes slide and put that into the pool as well. Then we fill it with ball pit balls (see more here). The kids could spend hours in this pool.

  • Another favorite is a simple slip and slide!
  • Turning the sprinklers on is another easy way to stay cool and keep the kids happily, busy!

  • And of course we always have our water table on hand! Here more about my love for our water table here.

Outdoor Music Concerts

On Tuesdays, Owen Park in Eau Claire is filled with Blues Music. Local food vendors gather and people bring their blankets, chairs, and beverages to relax and listen to the music.

Schultz Barn in Eleva has a featured band every Tuesday in the summer too. I actually just came home from there. It was just gorgeous! It isn’t too crowded and its set at a barn looking out over the rolling fields! They have a woodfire pizza company come and they also sell ice cream. You can bring your own beverages and just relax with family and friends.

                 

Thursday, Pheonix Park in Eau Claire has their Sounds Like Summer Concert Series. 2,000+ people come to these every Thursday night!

                

Take a look in your community to see if they have any live outdoor music shows! It is a perfect venue for a family picnic!

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Local baseball games are a family event that can be enjoyed by all ages! We have our local Express games that we like to frequent. The kids have a fun time seeing the game, enjoying a hot dog, and doing the different family events that they often have. While we are there we also try to hit up the train ride that goes through Carson Park!

                             

That’s what we have been doing…

And of course LOTS of play-dates with friends and family!

Do you have any family things that you can do on a budget over the summer?

 

Ready, set, RIO! Olympic Totschool Party!

The Olympics are here and in our house that means it’s time to celebrate!

Since it was a beautiful day outside one of the first things we did was take our learning outside for some chalk drawing fun! We discussed some of the fun sports and symbols that you may see at the OlympicsIMG_6815!

Olympic symbols:

-flags of different countries

-Olympic torch

-Bronze, Silver, and Gold medals for the top three finishers of each sport

-5 rings (Olympic rings) to represent the 5 world continents: Africa, Asia, Americas, Europe, and Australia/Oceania. Rings are composed of the five (six including the white background) colors that were shown on the flags of the countries competing in 1912.

IMG_6817 (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course all the chalk work made us pretty hungry so, we decided it was time for our first Olympic themed snack of the day!

The Torch:

Ice cream cones filled with Cheetos! The kids had a blast making this snack on their own. Be prepared for orange fingers and faces!

IMG_6811

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next up was the color sorting activity. I decided to break out the tongs to help with the fine motor skills. Both my three year old and almost two year old were able to do this activity however, the tongs were a little challenging for the younger one. These cute little cups are actually paint cups from the dollar store. We used puff balls of coordinating colors for them to sort into the correct container.

IMG_6803

We celebrated our color sorting activity with a festive Olympic themed drink. We even decided we needed to pull out the “FANCY” glasses!

All you need is life savor gummies and 7-up or sprite!

IMG_6818 (1)

CHEERS!!

IMG_6823

 

IMG_6810

Next up was the marshmallow toss. The girls helped me created
the Olympic rings using color coordinating pipe cleaners. We then put a piece of tape on the floor so they new how far away from the rings they needed to stand. The goal was to try to throw the marshmallows into the rings. Disclaimer: Many marshmallows were consumed in the playing of this game!

 

I figured by now we needed to off-set all the sugar with a few healthier Olympic dinner options. Okay so pizza might not be much healthier but, the Olympics don’t happen that often right?! The girls helped me create homemade pizza. They love to cook with me. It’s a great way to keep them engaged and out of trouble while I make dinner. They do all my mixing and pouring. Homemade pizza is a great hands-on food for them to help with. They are able to help spread the dough and sprinkle the cheese. Lastly, their job was to help me create the Olympic rings out of pizza toppings.

Our toppings included:IMG_6828

-pepperoni for the red

-green pepper for the green

– pineapple for the yellow

-black olives for the black

And we added another ring of pepperoni since we didn’t have a blue pizza topping that we were big fans of. I have seen some people use Blu cheese.

While the pizza was in the oven we cut up and put the fruit in the coordinating bowls.

-strawberries for the redIMG_6794

-Oreo (okay so not a healthy fruit but…oh well!) for the black

-blueberries for the blue

-pineapple for the yellow

-green grapes for the green

 

And for dessert…

IMG_6829
Sorry this isn’t the best image!

We had a blue jello swimming pool with licorice rope dividers and teddy graham swimmers (technically we had Elsa, Ana, and Olaf swimming in our pool! But hey, you use what you have and make it work!)

And, strawberry cupcakes with frosting and the girls were able to add the Fruit Loop Olympic rings! Yum-yum!

IMG_6834

Dinner was served and extra cupcakes delivered to neighbors just in time for us to cuddle up and watch the opening ceremony! Of course the ceremony got to be a bit long for the attention spans of a three year old and two year old so we created our own Olympic torches!

How to make an Olympic torch:IMG_6836

Materials:

-toilet paper roll

-tinfoil

-red, orange, yellow, and pink tissue paper

-tape

The girls rolled their toilet paper rolls in the tinfoil. Then they helped me tear the tissue paper into smaller pieces. They would pick a color and we would put a tape ball on the end and stick it to the top of our tinfoil roll.

Since the Olympics will be going on for a while we are hoping to do a few more crafts later in the week. Look for them on instagram @teacher_at_heart_sahm! And of course don’t forget to enjoy a little break while your children watch the movie Rio!

What are some fun things that you will be doing to introduce the Olympics to your little ones?

-Ashley