Friday, December 5, 2014

Name Practice Shape Christmas Tree for Kids

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We've been doing more sensory play than crafts lately, but I had to share this fun Christmas tree craft with you. It was a big hit with my 3 and 4-year-olds and gave them a chance to practice with their names and shapes.
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Monday, December 1, 2014

10 Ways to Make Treasured Holiday Memories


Like most Americans, our house is drowning in toys, our dresser drawers are overflowing with clothes, and our pantry is bursting with food (until the kids get home from school and raid it!).  We are blessed with more than we could ever need, so this holiday we're working even harder to take the focus off of "stuff" and put it on making memories with people. 

Looking back on my favorite holiday memories growing up, not one of them revolves around a specific Christmas gift. All of my favorite memories are of spending time with my family and doing things for others. So, why is it that American families spent an average of $800 per family on Christmas gifts last year? Why are we racing around the day after Thanksgiving hunting for deals? Do we really need an elf to bring gifts each day or an advent of new books and movies?  Do we really need all this "stuff"?  This year, we're making lasting memories with each other doing some of the things that I did as a kid - and hopefully, we'll bring some joy to those around us as well.
10 Ways to Make Treasured Holiday Memories - I love these simple ways to go beyond just giving gifts!  #KeepGoodGoing #BH #ad

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pine Cone Owl Craft for Kids

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This is such a great craft for older kids!  I've been wanting to make them for awhile, so I went ahead and made them with my preschoolers.  They required more assistance, but they were so excited with the results!  This would be a perfect activity to pull out for the kids when they're home on Thanksgiving break!
Pine Cone Owl Craft for Kids - These would be adorable ornaments!
For our Pine Cone Owls, we used:
Pine Cones - I happened to have a bag of cinnamon pine cones from Christmas last year.  You could certainly use pine cones collected from outside, just be sure to freeze them first to get rid of any bugs.
Felt Sheets in various colors
Fabric Scissors
Buttons - courtesy of craftprojectideas.com
Tacky Glue
Hot Glue and Hot Glue Gun
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My original idea was to trace the kids hands and use those as the "wings" for our owls.  Unfortunately, our pine cones were too small for this so I just free-handed a wing shape and cut two for each child.  The kids chose which colors they wanted.  Older kids could certainly cut their own, but I did this for my little guys since we were using fabric scissors.
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For the eyes, we used our Craft Buttons from craftprojectideas.com.  I love the colors here and the kids had a blast searching through the buttons to find the perfect ones.  While they searched, we sorted them by colors and then by size (large and small).  This certainly isn't necessary, but was a fun addition for my preschoolers.
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To put the owls together, we used a combination of tacky glue and hot glue.  If you're kids are not ready for a hot glue gun (like mine), you can certainly use tacky glue or assemble certain parts for them.  My kids used the tacky glue to attach the small black buttons to their larger buttons to create the eyes.  They also used the tacky glue to attach the felt beaks to their pine cones. I used the hot glue gun to attach the eyes and the wings to the pine cones since I wanted them to adhere quickly.
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The kids were so excited with how these turned out!  My 2-year-old carried his around for the rest of the day treating it like a pet and then a super hero.  These would be so adorable on the Kids' Thanksgiving Table or as ornaments on the Christmas Tree!
Pine Cone Owl Craft for Kids - These would be adorable ornaments!

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Life With More Than One Kid - How I Get it ALL Done

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So many of my dear friends are having their second babies right now and I've gotten quite a few emails asking "How do you do it with 2 kids?".  In other words, "What does your day really look like?".  I got one of these emails today and she suggested I make a blog post out of it.  Fabulous idea!  So, here it is, my friends.  This is how we make it work with preschoolers, toddlers, and a baby!  I am going to try to include the little details so you can see how I fit in laundry, cleaning, and other household tasks.  Also, please notice that you will not see "exercise" or "doing my hair and make-up" anywhere in this schedule.  I am not Supermom.  I do not do it all, and right now being a fashionista and going to the gym are not making the cut.  Those 20-minute videos twice a week (ummm...month?) are going to have to suffice!

Disclaimer:  I have NEVER had just a toddler and baby in the house.  I started our home daycare when my second son was 6 weeks old, so I immediately went from one child to five.  In some ways, I think that may have been easier because my toddler always had someone else around to play with.
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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Step2 Sand and Water Table Review

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Today we're participating in the 2014 Kids Holiday Wish List: Reviewed.  With five kids, we've had a LOT of toys go through our house.  For the most part, these toys are played with for a week or two and then find themselves lost under the beds or the bottoms of their toy boxes never to be seen from again.  Unless they make noise, which means that they'll inevitably go off every time I try to sneak into their rooms!
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Two years ago, my youngest son received a Step2 Adjustable Sand and Water Table for his first birthday and it has been a huge hit with all of the kids.  This is a great toy for multiple kids to play with at the same time and has kept my kids entertained for hours on end!
DELIVERY AND ASSEMBLY
We ordered our table from Amazon and it arrived within a few days.  It took about 10 minutes to put together.  Some reviewers recommend a power drill to assemble, but I was able to easily assemble this myself with just a screwdriver.  The table is a large rectangle 2 feet wide by 3 1/2 feet long with adjustable legs.  The legs adjust between 16 inches and 20 inches.  While it's fairly simple to adjust the height, it does require unscrewing and re-screwing all four legs so it is not something you will want to do daily.

Pros:
  • The table is made of durable plastic to withstand years of play (If you are familiar with the Cozy Coupe or Fisher Price picnic tables, you know what I'm talking about!)
  • Removable umbrella provides shade for much of the table
  • Drain spouts on both sides allow for water to easily be drained from both sides
  • Lightweight material makes it easy to tip sand (or other materials) out of the table for easy cleaning.
  • Includes 2 pots, 2 boats, 2 bridges, and a shovel for sand and water play
  • Large enough for multiple children to play together
  • Durable plastic lid with tie-downs keeps sand clean and dry
Cons:
  • The umbrella is a little low for older children to fit comfortably underneath, but opens and closes easily
  • (Not really the table's fault but...) Sand and Water play together is a MESS.  I personally recommend using the table for sand OR water if playing with multiple children, but just be prepared for a mess if you choose to do sand and water together.
  • Does not fold for storage.  We keep ours on our covered deck year round for sensory play and LOVE it!   
  • Don't expect the ties to keep kids from getting into the table.  My 2-year-old quickly figured out how to open them!
AGE RECOMMENDATIONS
The Manufacturer recommends this for ages 2-15.  My Daycare Toddlers love it and start playing on it around 18 months, with supervision.  I would recommend it for ages up to 6.  My 8-year-old still plays on it with his brothers but has to bend over or pull up a chair.
Shell Names - Beach Sensory Activity and Homemade Sand Recipe - Mamas Like Me

OTHER USES:
Of course this makes an awesome sand and water table, but we've also used it for various sensory bins including:
Acorns
Rice
Beans
Pasta
Oatmeal
Homemade Sand



We've also used this during parties as a water gun refilling station and it makes a great drink station by filling it with ice and juice boxes.

If you're ordering this for a gift, I would also recommend a few accessories to get the most out of your table, including:
Learning Resources Helping Hands Fine Motor Tool Set
Beach Set in Bag

Be sure to check out these other awesome toy reviews from the fabulous moms of the Kid Blogger Network!

Royal Baby Kids Bikes Review from Lalymom
Nabi 2 Kid Tablet Review  from Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tail
Blocks Rock from P is for Preschooler
Haba Technics Wooden Blocks from Wildflower Ramblings
Samsung Galaxy 4 Review from Line Upon Line Learning
Airzone Trampoline Review from Mom Inspired Life
Zoomer Zuppies Review from Something 2 Offer
Xbox One Review from The Jenny Evolution
Caring Corners Cottage from Best Toys for Toddlers
Childcraft Light Table Review from Lemon Lime Adventures
Peg and Plum Handmade Peg Dolls Review & Giveaway from Bare Feet on the Dashboard
KidKraft Retro Kitchen Review from Where Imagination Grows
Step 2 Skyward Summit Review from Stir the Wonder
Electronic Snap Circuits Review by My Nearest and Dearest
Step 2 Sand & Water Table from Mamas Like Me
Gifts for Kids - Engino Simple Machines from Planet Smarty Pants
Power Wheels Corvette Review from House of Burke



 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Cinnamon Dough Turkey Math for Kids

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As I was putting away the Halloween decorations and taking out things for Thanksgiving, I came across the pieces from our Turkey Math activity a few years ago and decided to whip up some sensory turkey fun for the kids! We're sharing this post as part of All Things Kid's Thanksgiving collection in an effort to give everyone some great ideas for Thanksgiving crafts and activities.
Cinnamon Dough Turkey Math for Kids
I used my basic play dough recipe with a few tweaks to make cinnamon dough.  My 3-year-old now insists that every play dough we make have a scent and the cinnamon was perfect for giving us a nice brown dough for our turkeys.  It also reminds me of  a funny story from my sister's first time making Thanksgiving dinner when she added cinnamon to the stuffing to make the house smell good.  As it turns out, cinnamon turkey smells much better than it tastes!
Cinnamon Dough Turkey Math for Kids

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Cinnamon Play Dough Recipe for Kids

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It's that time of year when I want the entire house to smell of spices and baked goods.  This play dough was so easy to whip up with things I had in the pantry and it was the perfect color for our activity without adding any food coloring.  I loved how it made the whole kitchen smell of delicious baked goods while the kids were playing!
Cinnamon Play Dough Recipe - love this scent!
For our dough we used:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar
2 Tablespoons Ground Cinnamon
2 Tablespoons Canola Oil
1 cup water