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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Slime Puppets


We always have some sort of slime, gak or flubber around this house. The kids were playing with it the other day with google eyes....... 

Slime + Google Eyes = Puppet Show?

Worked for them!  Nice easy entertainment. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Planning for New Year's Eve

For the past several years we have spent New Year's Eve at a hotel with friends.  The kids all swim, we play games, eat a ton of food and watch the ball drop.  On New Year's Day we would head to Lake George for the Polar Plunge - swimming in the icy lake!  Well, for many different reasons we are not going this year so we need to create some new traditions.  

I am starting to plan what we will do on New Year's Eve this year.  Would love to get some input, suggestions or other ideas. Here are my ideas so far (background info - 5 kids age range 3-13 years old and I am a cheapskate):
1.  Go to movies - I have a gift card!
2.  Maybe a food cook off challenge for dinner - two teams same ingredients with judges to see who make the best meal
3.  Fill out our Reflections on 2013 page (we do this every year)
4.  Board games or poker
5.  Chocolate fondue station - received it as a Christmas gift, can not wait to use it
6.  Maybe try an International tradition - race to buy lucky underwear in the mall (Italians say red brings luck, Mexicans say yellow brings happiness and Filipinos say dots to attract money) So maybe first one to find red underwear with yellow dots you win a prize!

My main goal is not to fall asleep before Midnight and to have FUN!  What are your New Year's Eve traditions or goals?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Tickets Please

Looking for a cheap idea to add to your pretend play? Buy a roll of tickets from the office store. We have had rolls of these in the house through the years and the kids love them. They create some lovely open ended creative play. Here is what my kids have used them for without any adult suggestions:
1.  Admission to dance shows they put on. 
2.  Admission to art museum they created. 
3.  Pretend money. 
4.  Tickets to use at homemade spa.
5.  Tickets to redeem for prizes at homemade carnival. 
6.  Homemade raffle type games or to pick names out of a hat. 

Great "toy" to add for imaginative play for various ages. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Challenge Game

Since we are not heading out for Thanksgiving dinner until later this year, I created a simple group game for us to play in the morning to help celebrate the day.  My family loves healthy competition where we team up against each other.  Sometimes it is a game of poker, a cook off or other simple challenges, so this is a just a twist with a Thanksgiving theme.  You can print this Thanksgiving game from GrowingPlay at http://www.growingplay.com/freethanksgiving.html

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tips for Supporting Risk Taking During Childhood

Do you allow your children to explore enough?  Risk taking is so important in childhood. This generation of children is so shielded from many risks that we were allowed to overcome as we grew up.  Taking a risk and achieving your goal provides a child with a strong sense of accomplishment.  Remember back to when you were young when you climbed a tall tree or rode your bicycle down a steep hill.  It feels exhilarating that you did it by yourself.  So next time your child is trying a new skill that might be a bit risky try some of the tips before you say "stop":
  1. Observe the situation closely. See if they can do the task safely without you interfering. 
  2. If you need to interfere to ensure safety can you offer verbal suggestions instead of physical prompts?  
  3. It is the same theory when children are learning any new skill assist as little as possible. Even in situations where it may be easier for you to help in terms of speeding up the task or peace of mind. 
  4. Can someone else supervise or be the teacher for the skill?  For example, my daughter loves to climb across the top of the swing set where there are ladder rungs. It makes me terribly nervous although she can do it. It challenges her balance and coordination. She has shown me she can do it but I truly can not watch. Which is not safe. My solution...  Daddy needs to be here. Dad is much better suited to watch her and cheer her on than I am in that situation. When it comes to riding a bike though I am much more patient than he is. I can repeat the skill over and over until she gets it right. Whereas after two trials he is done. Bottom line is sometimes your child will succeed better if someone else is the teacher.
  5. Stop and make sure that you are not saying "no" due to your own fears.  I remember the first time I had my children go into a grocery store by themselves to buy a few items.  They were so excited to be allowed to do it on their own.  They did a great job and afterwards I wondered why had I waited so long to let them shop on their own?    I think I was 5-6 years old when I was allowed to go and buy candy by myself.  I think I said "no" to them shopping alone due to my own fears from things I have seen on the news of horrible things happening to children when alone.  We can not live in fear. 
What do you do to support risky exploration in your children? 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Foamy Soap Play

When I saw this activity at  http://www.funathomewithkids.com/2013/08/rainbow-soap-foam-bubbles-sensory-play.html?m=1. I knew it would be a hit. We have made foamy soap before but it was with shredded ivory soap. This recipe is much easier!  Just mix 2 tbsp Dawn dish detergent with 1/4 cup water. Turn on the mixer and whip it up. 

My little one adding the food coloring and  started mixing. She loved just stirring it up and spreading it all over her hands. She added some small toys to the mix to hide and find them. This was loads of fun and my three year old preferred it to shaving cream for sure. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Outdoor Letter Match Up

My three year old loves to play this game outdoors matching up the letter cards to the sidewalk chalk letters. This is super simple and she repeats it over and over again. 

1.  Write a few letters on index cards. One letter per card. I only use four letters at a time right now to reinforce the letters. 

2.  Draw matching letters scattered all over the driveway using sidewalk chalk. 

3.  Place the index cards on an outdoor table. 

4.  Ask the child to pick an index card, find the sidewalk chalk letter that matches and put the card next to the big letter.  Ask your child to say the letter and the sound of the letter. 

5.  Head back to the table to get the next index card. Repeat finding each letter. 

Super simple, cheap, educational and encourages physical activity.