Category Archives: Kid Activities

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Apple Wreaths

 

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I love to decorate my home with my kids’ crafts projects—and they love to see their creations hanging around our home! That’s why I especially love projects that can be used specifically for decorations. The kids and I made these great apple wreaths the other day and they were so easy and turned out great!

 

What you need:

  • Blog Apple Wreath Template for the apples and leaves—or draw your own. :-)
  • Construction paper in red, green, yellow, and brown—or have your kids color their own.
  • Paper plates with the center cut out to make a wreath
  • Scissors
  • Glue

 

Throughout the morning, we talked about apples, different kinds of apples, what you can do with them, what colors they are, etc. I then gave them each a stack of apples I had cut out ahead of time in red, yellow, and green. You could also have them color the apples in different colors, but this worked best for our timeframe that day. I also gave them each leaves in green and yellow and some brown stems. They had had a paper plate, out of which I had cut the center to create a wreath, and some Elmer’s glue (though my 2 year old switched to a glue stick part way through and it worked just fine.)

 

I let them have at it and here is one of their creations. Fun, Festive, Fall wreaths! :-)

 

-Lydia

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Our Fun Timeline! (K-4 or K-5)

The kids and I are doing American History this semester!

And one of the fun things we’ve been working on is an easy hand-on timeline.

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- Print off some pictures of people we’ve been learning about. (The web is filled with free coloring sheets. I just google their names.)

- Color Them

- Cover them with packing tape (to laminate – but way cheaper)

- Cut out the peopleimage

(- The kids get to play with theirs [Reinforcing what we've learned])

-I put to mine on the timeline

That’s it! It’s easy and fun to do each week – and has added a lot to our History!image

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Fall Tree Invitation to Play

photo 1It just wouldn’t be fall without a fresh, fun invitation to play! The kids and I have been learning about the seasons lately, and of course, honing in on fall. Today they used play dough to decorate their own multi-colored fall trees.

 

I use THIS play dough recipe often, so we have accumulated several colors. I gave each child small balls of each color that could work for leaves. Today, I didn’t care that much if the colors mixed a bit as some of these colors were getting quite old. I also gave each child 1 stick (to start with) that they had picked up during a recent fall walk. By the end, we added in several more sticks and a few pom poms for fun.

 

photo 2We talked about fall, why and how the leaves change colors and fall off the trees. We flipped through a book about the seasons and discussed it, and we also looked up pictures of fall leaves on google images to view the many color options. Then I presented each of them with their plate and explained that they were going to get to make their own fall tree and to give it as many fun colors as possible!

 

They loved it. We had all different varieties!

 

photo 3Then of course, they went on to create other things as they often do, but how often do you get to to play with multiple play dough colors that you can mix a bit anyway? :-)

 

-Lydia

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Fall Scavenger Hunt using Pictures

Lately, I have been trying to savor each day that is warm enough to spend time outside. My kids are probably wondering why they suddenly spend each possible minute breathing in the great outdoors and listening to me talk about how beautiful it is outside even though we seem to add a new layer of clothing each week, but I know that winter is just around the corner. I dread the days of being cooped up in a house for months on end. Admittedly, in my “great outdoor endeavor,” I have struggled to find creative things to do out there. When I came up with the idea of a picture scavenger hunt for my 4 non-readers, I was pretty excited! :-)

 

I wanted there to be enough variety to keep them searching for the duration of a long walk, but I also wanted it to be attainable since they are between the ages of 2 and 5. I tried to find a variety of items that were somewhat unique to fall. It worked out perfectly!

 

I printed the sheets on cardstock and the half sheet size worked best for their little hands. I gave them each a pen and explained how to cross off each item as we found them. Within a few seconds they were searching everywhere, looking under things, running through the grass etc. I was impressed not only with their quick ability to find the things on the sheet, but also to find other unique things—like a toad in very urban area. Who would have guessed?! New things were discovered, first experiences had, and great memories were made!

Here’s the template:  Fall Scavenger Hunt

I hope your little ones are able to enjoy it as much as we did!

 

-Lydia

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No sew baby doll sling in 5 minutes!

Has anyone else noticed the rising trend of mothers who wear their babies? We have worn all three of our children and I love it, but I’m amazed by how many people tell me “I wish they’d had something like that when I was raising my children,” or “they sure do come up with great ideas these days.” In reality, baby wearing has been around for many, many years, but I think Americans are just reclaiming it in the last decade or so. That said, our daughters see us (and many other mamas) wearing our babies and they want to wear their babies as well. I looked up no sew baby slings for some ideas and found the concept HERE. I felt pretty silly that I hadn’t come up with it myself! It’s so easy and I was able to do it for both my kids using items I had around the house, so the best part was (drum roll please!) it was FREE and only took FIVE minutes!! :-)

 

Here’s how you can do it too!

 

  • Strip of fabric that will wrap around your child from one should to under the other arm and have enough space to stick a doll or stuffed animal in it. (Maybe 1 ½ yards??)

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I actually used an old skirt I didn’t need anymore; cut in half and cut the waistband off. I then cut down the side seam so it would just be a strip of fabric. Unless the fabric frays really easily, it should be fine.

  • Fabric Scissors
  • 3 rings. I used those plastic connecting rings found in the baby toy section of stores for like $2. They come in packages of about 36 I think.image

This picture shows the portion I cut out of the skirt and then you can see where I cut down the side seam.

 

Next, I put the strip of fabric on my son with all three rings near one end of the fabric. I brought the fabric up from the other end and thread it through the rings from the bottom to the top. (So you have fabric going both directions through the 3 rings.) Then, I pushed that same section of fabric (the one that came from the bottom) back through the bottom ring only to hold it in place.image

 

A few adjustments and a baby, and my kiddos now have ring slings to carry their babies in just like me! :-)

 

I tell ya’ the things they come with these days! :-)

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Annual stepping stone footprints

image“They grow so fast.” How many times have you heard a thoughtful grandmother share this precious truth with you? I even find myself saying it now. We have baby books, first pieces of hair, mementos, and billions of pictures of our children as we desperately try to savor each valuable moment of their childhood before it slips away into the past. It’s easy to get caught up in clutter as we try to save things from our child’s childhood, so today I’m hoping to share a useful idea with you that will still be precious and meaningful for years to come—you don’t even have to keep it in your house! :-)

 

imageThis is the third year my children and I have made salt dough footprints in the hopes of making a stepping stone path someday when we live in a house long term. At first I thought I probably wouldn’t stick with it or I’d forget each year, but it has been so easy and fun that I don’t forget! We do it about the 3rd week of August since that seems to be a good time for us as the summer winds down and we get ready for another school year.

I use basic salt dough. Nothing special. Depending on the size of your stone, it’s roughly 1 recipe per stone.

 

The first 2 years I used this recipe:

1 cup salt

1 cup white flour

½ cup warm water

Mix or knead until dough forms. Bake at 200 for several hours until hardened.

This year I used this recipe:

1 cup white flour

½ cup salt

½ cup water

1 tablespoon oil

Mix or knead until dough forms. Bake at 200 for several hours until hardened.

Just to give you a heads up: It took us 8 hours to bake ours this year!

Both recipes are fine (and there are many others out there) but I really liked working with the recipe that includes the oil. They, by far, turned out to be our best stones yet. That said, they are a bit darker than in the past.

This year I put parchment paper on the cookie sheet before baking, and other than a slightly reveled affect on the back of the stones, I LOVED the result. No sticking and perfect stones! I write each of the kids’ first initial and the month and year so we can keep track easily without it taking away from the footprint.

The size is up to you. When we first started, my son was 22 months and my daughter was only 5 months, so my stones were very small. I guess the growth factor didn’t occur to me. Last year, I made the same “mistake,” so this year I’ve decided that my stones will just grow each year with my son’s feet, and I’m okay with that. I actually think it’s kind of cool to have growing stones!

It has become a special tradition to pull the stones out each year and look back at how much each of the child’s feet has grown and remember their year. Someday, when I’m old and gray and my children are grown, I will be able to look back at many years of footprints and remember the years they were so small.

 

-Lydia

Sun Invitation to Play

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“Oh Mr. Sun, sun, Mr. golden sun, please shine down on me…” I often think of that song in the summertime. The big, bright, jolly Mr. Sun just seems to be a part of summertime fun—especially when you have kids! I decided to incorporate this idea recently when I did a sun themed invitation to play with my kiddos. Here’s what we did!

 

I made up 2 batches of play dough using THIS recipe. One yellow and one orange—though I’m no expert on color mixing. My son thought the orange was pink and with good reason. :-) I also had some leftover red play dough that I divided amongst the kids as well. In addition, I gave each kid…

  • 2 blue paper circles for eyes
  • 1 strip of pink ribbon for a mouth
  • 1 pair of sunglasses (we were recently given several for free!)
  • A few cut up circles (I used a design scissors to make it more interesting) for flowers
  • Some strips of green paper for grass

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As always, I used the invitation to play as an opportunity to learn about and discuss the sun. We talked about the sun specifically as well as why we have it and what it does. Then I explained the items on their plates and let them have at it! They enjoyed making their own suns and understood that it can look different colors at different times. Then they also enjoyed making things grow with their suns. If I were to do it again though, I would give them the sun items first and after a while give them the flowers and grass to add to what they had already done. I think it was a little overkill for the younger ones, but they still enjoyed it. Definitely an activity worth doing when you want to do something indoors on a hot day!

-Lydia

Letting Them Help – Part 2

House 1Well, 3 weeks ago, I glibly promised that I’d post the following week on how we do chores in our house.

Of course after promising that we had a couple messy days  (followed by a couple naughty days) which made me feel unsure of writing about something in which I’ve not yet arrived.

However, it’s been a helpful couple weeks for me – nothing like promising all my digital friends that I’d share about our chore systems, to help me reevaluate!

So I’m going to share what works for us, areas we are working on, and areas we need work – and then I’d love for my readers to share suggestions and thoughts!

What is Working for Us:

1. Having a Cleaning SYSTEM

My Mom is the best housekeeper ever. She is a natural, and she always made cleaning look SO EASY.

I am not a natural – and even though I KNEW how to do everything (since she had taught me), I NEVER knew where to start. I wasted so much time the first couple years of marriage just standing in the middle of clutter-filled rooms staring blankly around and feeling defeated.

I finally realized that I needed a system – (I think it barely even matters what the system is – just to have one. It is a starting point, a map, and the oil that helps you move faster down the track to your day and sweet productivity.)

Here are our systems. If you ask my 3 or 5 year olds. They will (hopefully) be able to recite it to you.

It is my heartfelt goal that they not get overwhelmed but always know where to start. (On anything – but we’re talking about cleaning today.  

Our system when cleaning is always in this order:

(Left to Right)

(Top to Bottom)

1. Clear Big Items

2. Clear Garbage

3. Put Away In-Room Clutter

4. Put Away Out-of-Room Clutter

Example of Dining Room Table after Breakfast Using This System:

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I clear the big items (Crockpot or Gallon of Milk)image

Kids clear the garbage (Napkins)

I grab the in-room clutter (My husband’s iPad)

(I wasn’t fast enough – they cleared other stuff too for this pic)

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Kids Carry out-of-room clutter to the kitchen table to be put away. (Small food items and dirty dishes.)

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Wipe off High Chair on Left then Table then Bumbo Seat and Tray on Right (Left to Right)

Sweep Floor (Top to Bottom)

imageThis System works really well for us in any room. We use it daily in the living room and their bedroom as well. (So at least three times a day you’ll hear me say “what do we look for first?” and hear my son say “garbage!”)

 2. Having a Cleaning Routine

Again, it doesn’t matter the order, but it helps to do the same tasks in the same order.

Less decisions – more productivity!

As soon as my husband leaves in the morning we clear the table, straighten up the living room, get dressed, straighten the bedroom, clean the bathroom (If we have time), get the laundry and feed the dog.

A routine helps us start each day strong. (Of course things may be messy 10 minutes into the day… but oh well! LOL!

3. Each child has their own chores first thing in the morning – before we start our day.

If we are doing well, we are dressed and have everything cleaned up half an hour after my husband leaves for work. (About 8:30) But that can range. (9:00 is our average.) 9:30 is a bad day. 10:00 is a really bad day. :-/

I wrote about their chores here.

4. Each Child responsible for their own basket of toys

A year ago, I got rid of the big toy box and each child has their own basket of toys to take responsibility for.

(We also have a play room downstairs in the basement that I will eventually write an article about. )

I wrote about their separate upstairs toys here.

5. Children Allowed to Earn Money

imageSince my oldest was 3, I’ve allowed the kids to do extra jobs for money. They each save up for items.

This has helped them understand the value of a dollar, and they know that while I rarely buy them new toys, they always have the option of working for something themselves.

(The pic is ash. It’s messy, but I let him clear it because he LOVES to help clean the fireplace. It’s not smoke.)

Areas I’ve tweaked that last couple weeks:

1. We Clean Each Room TOGETHERimage

As mentioned in my previous chore article, the kids have picture chore lists.  This way they could refer to their lists and complete their chores themselves. Lately we’d had problems with them not staying on task so I’ve we now do our chores together.

- We ALL clear the table

- We ALL clean up the clutter in the living room

- We ALL sweep (they move chairs) and I do most of the sweeping while they help with their little brooms

- They ALL change at the same time. (Jedidiah sometimes takes to the bathroom. He has days when he’s suddenly obsessed with modesty and days when he’s …not.)

-  We ALL wipe down the bathroom,

- Jedidiah usually finishes getting the laundry and feeding the dog while I get school books.

This way I help stay on task

It also became more essential to have their toy baskets stay on their shelves to help them stay on task.

2. Toy Baskets that actually FIT on the Shelves in their room!!!

It also became more essential to have their toy baskets stay on their shelves to help them stay on task.

(Out of mind and out of sight!!)

Before they each had their own baskets, but I let them leave them on the floor or in their beds because they did not fit on the shelves.

Since we are moving the baby, (CHILD NUMBER 4 into their 10X10 room) in a couple weeks, we needed to rethink their closet system.

(I wrote about having the 3 kids in a 10X10 room here.)

(Thank you, sweet husband for the $125 worth of [super-cute, Container Store,  hyacinth, I promise this was an important purchase, complete life-saver] baskets.)

Old baskets were traded in, and now (Exciting music), they each have their own toy basket (and will soon have their own basket to put away their play clothes.)

(Pictures of their new closet system coming soon!)

Areas We Need Work: (Suggestions Welcome!)

1. Breastfeeding Baby

We have a 10 month old, and (though neither Lyd nor I have written about it) breastfeeding is not a 10 minute thing for us. On growth-spurt days, everything else falls apart because Mama is attached to baby.

Such is life. :-I

2. Getting up Before Them

My husband is a night owl, and I choose to stay up with him. I used to rise before the house. Now I grudgingly roll out when I hear the first child’s steps in the hall.

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I even set my alarm early a few times a week thinking I’ll get things pulled together before the house wakes, but I rarely do. (Except Sundays – no choice)

3. Just Being with Them

Digital friend Jeanne commented last week that “What helped me a lot to enjoy it is when I decided I would just not care about the mess WHILE doing activities together and just deal with it later on. Then, I could relax and enjoy.”

I’ve been thinking about that a lot the last weeks.

This is probably the biggest area that needs work – MY ATTITUDE! I need to enjoy the time with them even when our ‘morning routine’ fell apart or when the clutter takes over. Pray for me here friends!

There is what is working, is a work in progress, and what needs work!

Any thoughts? What works in your routines?

-Verity

Kid’s Sun Craft

At the height of the summer heat, what better craft project than for the kids to make their own

personal sun? My kids loved this—it may have been the fact it was a sun, or the fact they got covered in sticky glue—regardless, I’m excited to share this idea with you today. :-)

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What you need:

 1 paper plate per child

1 bottle of glue per child

A couple sheets of tissue paper in yellow, red, etc.

A couple sheets of construction paper in yellow, red, etc.

A pair of scissors

Tape or 1 glue stick for each child

Cut out the center of each paper plate to make a circle

Cut out the tissue paper in squares

Give each child a paper plate circle and a small stack of tissue paper squares.

Have the kids glue the squares to the plate. I’m big on kids gluing things since they seem to be able to start doing it when they are about a year old and enjoy it through childhood. I love bringing multiple ages together for a project! :-)

Let the gluey tissue papery paper plate circle suns dry for several hours.

Cut the construction paper in strips. You may just want to use one color (like yellow) for this.

Show the kids how to tape or glue (with glue sticks) the strips, folded in loops, to the back of their suns. If the kids are younger, you could just staple it too.

THEN, the kids can hang up their suns using the loops–or wear them as a bracelet as my daughter did–or carry them around on a stick… The loops were a huge hit!! :-)

Happy Summer!!

-Lydia

Daddy Countdown Craft

My husband recently had to leave town for an extended period of time. I thought my children had a good understanding of the fact he was gone, but it didn’t take long to realize they really had no concept of what the number of days actually meant. My son was saving cherry tomatoes from the garden to give to Daddy. My daughter would make plans for when Daddy would be home before bed or the next morning. I realized we needed a visual so they could understand.

 

I had just scored blue and pink post-it notes at Target for only $0.02 (Thank you Target.com coupons!), so I wanted to incorporate them into our project. :-)

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I gave each child a piece of white cardstock and had them thoroughly color each side making it as personal and special as they wanted.

When they finished, I used a LARGE black permanent marker to write out the numbers on either side of the cardstock to make a chart of sorts.

Next, I had the kids take their post-it note pads and cover each number with a post-it note. For being 2 and 3, I thought they did surprisingly well! They also loved it!

 

We hung up their charts where they could see them and discussed that each day at breakfast they could pull off a post-it note and when they were all off, Daddy would come home that day. It worked wonderfully!! They had a much better concept of when he would be back, and they loved to play with their post it notes they pulled off each day. I think it was kind of like a daily present for them with a BIG present at the end! :-) image

There are so many different ways you could have your kids craft this type of project based on your child’s age and available supplies. You could have doors that open by attaching two pieces of paper together with pictures on the bottom one and doors on the top. You could use brads to turn attached pieces of paper with a picture or number underneath. These could be used to countdown to a relative coming to visit, a birthday, an upcoming trip, or anything else. I’d love to hear your ideas for future countdown projects!

 

-Lydia