Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Shape Witch Puppet and Book Activity for Kids

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Halloween is almost here and I'm sure you're as done with the Halloween crafts as I am, but here's one more quick one for you just in case you need a quick craft (or one to save for next year!).
Shape Witch Craft - Halloween Book & Craft

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Halloween Pasta Invitation to Play for Kids

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One of the ways I save money on activities for the kids is stocking up on holiday decorations in the week following the holiday. Last year, after Halloween I bought Halloween sprinkles, decorations, and a bag of fabulous Halloween Pasta marked down to $.50! This year I found that bag of pasta in my box of Halloween decorations and it became the basis for this fun sensory invitation to play.
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One of the best purchases I've made for sensory play has been this tray from the Dollar Store.  Every time the kids see it, they immediately get excited and it doesn't seem to matter what I put on it.
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For this Halloween activity, I used the pasta, plastic spider rings that we've also used for Spider Painting and our S is for Spaghetti & Spiders Sensory Bin, and lots of Halloween toys that the kids collected last year while Trick-or-Treating.  This is a great way to re-use all those toys that come from Halloween parties and birthday party treat bags this time of year.  Don't toss them out, save them for some frugal sensory play!
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I set the kids loose and gave them plenty of time to explore all the things on our tray.  They had a blast scooping pasta with the scoop from our Pumpkin Carving Kit and using the tongs from our favorite game for fine motor skills .  I also gave them some paper cups from my party supplies.  These turned out to be a hit with my toddlers for pouring and dumping the pasta, which is a great activity for spatial reasoning and developing muscle control in their hands!
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Then, we used the pasta for some color sorting.  My 2-year-old gets brown and black mixed up so this was a great opportunity to reinforce the color black over and over.  We found black bats, cats, pumpkins, and witches in the pasta.  Then my 2 and 3-year-olds helped me finish some Halloween Pasta Patterns.  I did patterns with different shapes and colors for them to complete. 
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My boys are working on number recognition so we did some simple addition problems together where we identified the numbers and then counted that many shapes.  To find the answer we counted all of our pumpkins on the board and wrote the correct number.  At this point, I am not concerned that they know the symbols for plus and equals, I am simply introducing them to the concepts of addition and showing them how we would write them together.  After we found the answers I would say, "oh look, 3 + 2 = 5" while pointing to the numbers and symbols.
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The next day, the boys asked to play in the pasta again, so I pulled out our neon fuzzy sticks from craftprojectideas.com.  I am always so excited when we receive new products from them to try out!  photo DSC_0973_zps237e970c.jpg The kids did a simple fine motor skills activity and used the pasta to string on the neon fuzzy sticks to create Halloween bracelets.  They loved the bright colors of the fuzzy sticks.  Some created patterns and some separated their colors making half orange and half black.  Most of the kids simply used their favorite shapes in any order. photo DSC_0979_zps0c86802e.jpgI love how we were able to find so many different ways to play with this $.50 bag of pasta.  The kids returned to it for several days and we still have much of it left to play with.  They did break some of them and some swept into the trash during clean-up, but all in all it has been a fun material for us to play and learn with!

You might also like:
Spider Web Blow Painting for Kids - so much fun to make! #Halloween

 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Why I Got Rid of Half of My Clothes

This is not an article about closet organization. I am not attempting to weed my closet down to 40 hangers and (although I have in the past), this is not the result of turning my hangers around to see what I didn't wear for 6 months.  And, no, TLC did not send the team from What Not to Wear to clear out my closet.  Although, if one of you would like to nominate me, my yoga pants and mommy jeans would thank you!
Why I Got Rid of Half of My Closet - I think all Mom's get to this point!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What I've Learned From Having Five Kids - a Babyganics Review


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When I got pregnant with my first son, I read every book on the library shelves. I had strategies for tantrums before he took his first breath. I knew the order to start solid foods before I knew if we'd be buying baseballs or hair bows. I was so determined to do everything right that I missed out on enjoying that sweet little bundle.

In fact, I was so scared with my first child that I'm afraid I stunted his natural curiosity.  He didn't play in the dirt because I was leery of germs. When he went down the tall slides, one of us was climbing with him and the other was at the bottom waiting for him. I spent so much time telling him to "be careful" that he missed out on opportunities to "be brave" and try new things.
What I've Learned From Having 5 Kids - with a giveaway for $100 Visa Gift Card!
Now that he's 8 years old and has four younger siblings, I've learned how resilient these little guys are. For example, you might notice that my sweet Ethan is eating a pine cone during this recent family portrait!  I've also watched kids run straight into walls, bounce off, and keep going.  I've seen them fly down slides and land on their rumps giggling in the mulch. I've seen them dig huge piles in dirt, taste-testing as they go and never end up sick.  More than that, I've seen the joy on their faces as they explore and discover the world around them.  In short, I've grown with my children and become a calmer, more patient parent.
What I've Learned From Having 5 Kids - with a giveaway for $100 Visa Gift Card!
I've also learned that the best thing I can do for my children is to create an environment where they have the freedom to touch, climb, explore, and discover freely.  Babyganics is one of the companies that I trust to provide products that help me create this environment where my kids can Grow Boldly.

After a full morning of playing in the dirt at the park or painting masterpieces, I know I have a package of the Face, Hand & Baby Wipes that are strong enough to clean up the dirtiest messes.  They're also gentle on the skin and work great for diapering as well as for face and hands.  Unlike many travel-friendly wipes, the packaging folds completely open and lays flat making it so much easier to change a squirmy baby no matter where I am.  I love having these in the diaper bag and in the car for the whole family!  With five kids, there are always plenty of sticky, messy hands to wipe!
What I've Learned From Having 5 Kids - with a giveaway for $100 Visa Gift Card!
My other favorite on-the-go product from Babyganics is their Mandarin Alcohol-Free Foaming Hand Sanitizer.  All it takes is one pump to sanitize my little one's hands before eating when we're out and about.  Since it's alcohol-free, it won't sting or dry out their hands, and we all love the fresh mandarin scent.

At home, we rely on the Toy & Highchair Cleaner Spray to clean up all those messes when my sweet babies and Daycare kids decide they have to feed themselves.  I love this spray because I don't have to worry about rinsing the toys or trays before they can be used.  Babies can eat right off of them or put the toys directly into their mouths without fear of harsh chemical residues.  This powerful natural cleaner leaves no residue or scent behind.

When washing dishes by hand, we've started using the Citrus Foaming Dish & Bottle Soap.  Baby Kate doesn't take a bottle often, but when she does, I can use this without needing to boil the bottle and it doesn't leave any residue behind.  The foam pump applicator is perfect for getting just the right amount of soap without wasting any, and a little goes a long way!  It's great for washing dishes by hand because it's so gentle on my hands.  Plus, I love the citrus scent that makes everything smell clean and fresh!
What I've Learned From Having 5 Kids - with a giveaway for $100 Visa Gift Card!
And I know that after all the baths and cleanings, I have the Chamomile Verbena Moisturizing Daily Lotion to protect my baby's skin and those sweet little toes.  This thick formula moisturizes really well throughout the day without feeling greasy or leaving a film on her skin.  It's gentle enough for eczema prone skin and has a natural soothing scent that isn't overwhelming for my baby or for me.
What I've Learned From Having 5 Kids - with a giveaway for $100 Visa Gift Card!
Babyganics is giving away a $100 Visa Gift Card to one lucky reader.  To enter, comment on this post with your favorite Baby or Toddler milestone.  Was it that first smile?  First word?  Learning to walk or crawl?  Or the first time they went down the slide all by themselves?  Share your favorite memories with us for a chance to win!
Sweepstakes Rules:
No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 10/16/2014 – 11/15/2014.
Be sure to visit the Babyganics brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!
 


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

S for Spiders and Spaghetti Halloween Sensory Bin

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Because our "A for Acorns and Apples" bin was such a hit, I decided that the kids needed a bin just for Halloween.  We picked up some cheap plastic spiders from the dollar section of Target and I knew they'd be perfect for some squishy spidery spaghetti fun!
 S for Spiders & Spaghetti #Sensory Bin - slimy, slippery, squishy, #Halloween Fun for Kids! 
Like all of our sensory bins, I try to focus on things that we already have in our pantry and cabinets at home.  My mom recently brought us 8 boxes of spaghetti (there must have been a sale) and since my kids aren't huge fans of spaghetti, I knew I was going to have to be creative to use it all up.  It turned out to be the perfect sensory experience for my little guys!  S for Spiders & Spaghetti #Sensory Bin - slimy, slippery, squishy, #Halloween Fun for Kids! Dying the noodles was really easy!  I simple cooked a box of spaghetti up according to the package directions and then put them in a large bowl.  I used the Wilton Icing Colors to get bright colors.  We used green and black because those were the colors I had in the cabinet that I thought would work for Halloween (obviously orange and purple would be good choices as well).  Then, I just mixed in the food coloring and added a tablespoon or two of olive oil to keep the noodles from sticking and give them a fun, slippery feeling.S for Spiders & Spaghetti #Sensory Bin - slimy, slippery, squishy, #Halloween Fun for Kids!
I added the noodles to a large 9"x13" Tupperware container and then hid our plastic spiders throughout.
 S for Spiders & Spaghetti #Sensory Bin - slimy, slippery, squishy, #Halloween Fun for Kids!
Look how colorful and inviting this is!  The kids couldn't wait to play with this one!S for Spiders & Spaghetti #Sensory Bin - slimy, slippery, squishy, #Halloween Fun for Kids! We took the bin outside to save the kitchen from sticky spaghetti noodles and food dyes.  I find I'm much calmer about messy sensory bins when they're done outside!  The boys were both a little hesitant to stick their hands in the container so they used the tongs from their Scatterpillar Scramble Game.  This game is awesome for fine motor skills.  All my boys love it and we've used the tongs for almost all of our recent sensory bins!
 S for Spiders & Spaghetti #Sensory Bin - slimy, slippery, squishy, #Halloween Fun for Kids!
I gave them each a bucket and let them direct their own play.  First, they dug through and "rescued" all the spiders from inside the spaghetti.  Then, they started moving the spaghetti from the bin to their bucket and back again.  They did this for quite a while telling me which color spaghetti they had and which color spiders they found.
 S for Spiders & Spaghetti #Sensory Bin - slimy, slippery, squishy, #Halloween Fun for Kids!
Finally, they got brave enough to touch the spaghetti and started trying to break it.  My 3-year-old took one strand at a time to break and then told me which one was bigger and which one was smaller.  So, without even trying, we got in some beginning measurement and comparison math skills. S for Spiders & Spaghetti #Sensory Bin - slimy, slippery, squishy, #Halloween Fun for Kids! We kept the bin in the refrigerator for a few days and played with it several times before finally tossing it.  The kids had a great time with it and I'd say we definitely got our money's worth of that $.50 box of spaghetti.

You might also like:

Spider Web Blow Painting for Kids - so much fun to make! #Halloween

 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

What I Hope My Kids Will Know When They're Teenagers

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I was recently on the phone with a relative and she asked me how the boys liked their new baby sister.   For those just joining us, we happen to be the proud parents of five beautiful children, four boys and one new baby girl.  I told her the truth. The boys ADORE their baby sister. Having a sister has brought out a softer side in all of them. They bring her toys and blankets. They make silly faces for her and run to find pacifiers whenever she makes the slightest whimper.
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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Orange Spice Play Dough Recipe

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One of my absolute favorite ways to cozy up our home is to have a pot of homemade potpourri simmering on the stove.  I took my favorite scents and added them into this play dough and now I think I'll have to get some on the stove tomorrow!
 For our Orange Spice play dough recipe we used:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar
1 cup water
2 Tablespoons oil
Orange Essential Oil
Red and Yellow Food Coloring
cinnamon
nutmeg
whole cloves