Archive for the ‘Kids’ Category

04/05/10
Amy
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(Parenting) Doop! Doop!


There is an age-old debate on how to respond when your child gets hurt. You can tell them that it didn’t really hurt and to brush it off or you can overflow with sympathy about something that really wasn’t that big of a deal. In either case, you are telling for the child how they should feel. That leaves the child completely unable to assess his own mental, emotional, or physical state. He feels instead that he has to look to others to tell him. Our goal as parents should be to teach them to examine the way they feel and then learn how to appropriately respond.

Our family has established a response for when one of our children gets lightly hurt, and we have found it to be fairly effective in giving them the opportunity to evaluate minor mishaps. When we see our child have a small mishap, before they begin to cry, we declare in a sing-song voice, “Doop! Doop!” It doesn’t set out any expectations and conveys without words, “I see you got hurt. That’s a bummer!” The little distraction is just enough to make them smile or giggle a little bit. If they do proceed to cry, then we know that they really were hurt and we give them the hug of reassurance that they need. Otherwise, the simple acknowledgment of the mishap might be all that they need.

04/02/10
Amy

(Classic Play) Educational Egg Hunts


Kids squeal about and beg to do egg hunts. There is great anticipation and excitement in the hunt. We must bear in mind, though, that a household can contain only so much candy. But if your kids are still longing to continue the hunt, then by all means encourage this classic activity. They are often happy to simply find eggs without anything in them and they might really enjoy hiding them for each other!

There is another option yet, though! You can do an educational egg hunt! Put a slip of paper into each plastic egg with an educational answer. It might be a math question or a word or a sentence for them to try to sound out. For even younger kids, you can have them say the name of a given shape, color, or letter. If you are feeling generous, you can put a penny into each egg and let them keep it if they get the answer right! You will never see your kids so excited about finding and answering educational questions.

04/01/10
Amy

(Crafts) Egg Dying


EasterEggsWhen in doubt, go with the classic holiday activities. Some years we might come to a holiday where we happen to have a creative bug and we go all out with the holiday relevant crafts and activities. But for the rest of the time, it is usually best to stick with the same few activities that you do every year. There is little to no learning curve for you and these are the ones that your kids most strongly reference as a holiday tradition anyway! And as an added bonus, if your simple traditional activities align with the culture’s traditional holiday activities, then society’s marketing does half the work for you as they build it up as something special. Think about your own positive holiday associations – don’t you find yourself getting excited and a little sentimental when you see the first display of Easter baskets or Easter Egg Dye packets? Don’t underestimate the significance of the smallest tradition.

So my suggestion is simple: Dye a few Easter Eggs this year. Your kids will think it is one of the most magical and wonderful crafts ever.

03/30/10
Amy
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(Family Activities) Easter Scavenger Hunt


You could just hand your kids their Easter baskets….or you could send them on a scavenger hunt for them!

Write clues on a small slip of paper and put them into plastic Easter eggs. The difficulty of this activity can be tailored to kids of all ages. For really small kids, you might tell them exactly where to look next (i.e. “Under the couch”) whereas you might make it a more challenging for the older kids (i.e. “Look under a place where you sit.”). If you are the creative type, then you might have fun making them into a poem format. Each clue should give them a hint on where to find the next clue, until they reach the final “prize”.

There are a couple of optional twists you can put on the activity:

First of all, you can give them an empty Easter basket at the beginning of the hunt and each clue can lead them to a treat that they can add to their basket.

A second idea is to have an Easter Bible verse on each clue. As they work their way through the clues, they will read the whole Easter story. The “Resurrection Rolls” can be the treasure at the of the hunt, thus making the empty tomb the final celebration point!

03/20/10
Amy
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(Parenting) Concept of Time: Kids vs Parents


Kids have a very different concept of time than adults.

Adults are all about efficiency and practicality. If we do not have an urgent deadline, we manage to make it seem like there is one.  In contrast, kids find whatever is in front of them to be significantly more important than meeting any ol’ deadline. When they are asked to get into the car and buckle their seat belt, it may take them three times as long as you think is reasonable because they find a worm on the ground, an old cracker wedged between the seats, or they are simply lost in telling you a story of how their friend spilled milk on their shirt. While you may just be loading up for a morning trip to the grocery store, their childish dawdling can be frustrating.

Instead of demanding that they see life and time through your eyes, stop and take a moment to see life through your child’s eyes. Show excitement over their little worm discovery or gently move them along and help them buckle without shutting down their story-telling. Sometimes we need to acknowledge that our deadline is not really so important. In other cases, it is often possible for us to keep our kids on track for our necessary deadlines without demanding that they abandon their developmentally appropriate childhood mindsets.

When we hurry life along, we risk missing some significant moments with our children. What will you discover about life or about your child when you take a moment to see time through their eyes?

02/16/10
Amy
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(Crafts) Play Foam


playfoam

My kids play with Play-doh…a lot. It is a creative, hands-on activity that they love and a craft that requires very little preparation from me. playfoam2However, it is messy enough of an activity that it requires a certain level of commitment and some days I’m just not up to it.

Imagine my excitement, then, when I discovered Play Foam! It is not sticky, messy (no Play-doh crumbs!), doesn’t dry out or turn brown when colors are mixed. The substance of Play Foam reminds me of Rice Krispies treats without being sticky. The only downside is that it is harder to create detail than with Play-doh, but my kids still love it. It is a perfect 30-minute, no clean-up craft. Try it out!

*Tip – Play Foam can be purchased at most craft stores, but I have frequently found it at greatly discounted at stores like TJ Maxx, Ross, and Marshalls.

02/04/10
Amy
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(Family Activities) Treasure Box


Our lives are made up of happenings, big and small. Event the smallest events can be significant and defining.

Many events have some sort of token associated with them: bulletins, newspaper clippings, ticket stubs, pictures, keys, a lock of baby’s hair, a hospital band, or a small piece of brick from the new house you built. These small tokens can hold big memories.

Designate a special box to hold these little treasures from the life of your family. At the end of the year, make it a special family event to go through your little Treasure Box and relive some of the defining moments of your year. What events were significant to your family? Where were your happiest memories? What tokens do you hope to be adding next year?

There is magic in the Treasure Box. It can turn simple tokens into priceless treasures.

box

Tip – At the end of the year, transfer your year’s treasures into a year-labeled box (see box system) and repeat.

02/03/10
Amy

(Classic Play) Hide the Thimble


My grandmother used to play a game with me that she called “Hide the Thimble”. The concept was simple – she took a thimble from her sewing desk and hid it in a specified room. The kids were then sent on the mission to find it.

Not being much of a seamstress myself, I don’t have a thimble in my house, but I play this game with my kids using other small objects. The kids pick a small toy or trinket from around the house and we take turns hiding and finding it. It is a fun and simple game (requiring very little energy output from you!) that kids love.

Tip: Younger kids can play too! Simply pick a bigger object to hide!

01/23/10
Amy
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(Crafts) Dying Play Silks with Kool-Aid


I must have drooled over the idea of play silks for several years. I love the concept and the endless creative play possibilities that they offer. But the standard size silks (35″x35″) sell for $10-12/each, making a small set cost a small fortune. That didn’t even account for my dream of a bigger play silk collection that included multiple sizes.

I began to toy with the idea of dying my own silks after learning that a friend successfully did it, but she used real dye and I was intimidated by that. I like to keep my creative ventures simple….and clean. And then I discovered that you can dye silks with Kool-Aid! Not only was it cheaper, but it sounded fun! I mean, how many people can say that they have hand-dyed toys with Kool-Aid!? So, I ordered my silks and made some for Kaelynn’s Christmas present. It took a little bit of work (it took time more than anything) and mine have some imperfections, but my kids love them and I’m really pleased with the finished product. Here’s how I did it:

1. Order play silks in the sizes you want. I chose a half dozen 35″x35″ silks this time, but I have plans to expand our collection someday with various sizes. I bought mine from Dharma Trading Company for $3.75/each.

2. Bring a pot of water to boiling. Add a cup of vinegar and remove from heat. Soak all the silks for about an hour before dying.

3. Put on a pair of plastic gloves. Mix 3 cups of hot water, 1/2 c vinegar, and 2-3 packets of Kool-Aid (see the note at the bottom of post for a Kool-Aid color guide). Immerse a silk in the colored water and stir slightly until fully immersed. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 3 minutes. Remove and stir again. Cover and microwave for 3 more minutes. Repeat the cycle a third time.

(Note: If you increased the amount of water and vinegar and did the dying on a stove top instead of the microwave, stirring continually, you would probably end up with more solidly colored silks. Mine are slightly blotchy, but I kind of like them that way.)

4. Remove silk from the bowl and rinse with soap and water until the water runs clear.

Keep dyed, wet silks separate until they are dry. They can bleed onto each other (voice of experience speaking).

5. Dry on low in the dryer. Iron.

dec21

Kool-Aid Flavor/Color Guide:

Red – Strawberry, Cherry, or Black Cherry (Note: I wanted more of a salmon/dark pink color, so I just used two packages of Strawberry. A combination of Cherry and Black Cherry will get you the truest red.
Orange - Orange
Yellow - Lemonade (Note: I used two packets of Lemonade plus a few drops of yellow food coloring to achieve a slightly darker yellow.)
Green – Lemon-Lime
Blue – Blue Raspberry
Purple – Grape (Note – I only used two packets.)
Pink – Pink Lemonade (not pictured)

01/18/10
Amy
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(Classic Play) Play Silks


A super hero’s cape. A play tent. A doll sling/doll carrier. A picnic blanket for a tea party. A wedding veil. A sling for a (pretend) broken arm.

What do all of these things have in common? They can be created out of a play silk: a lightweight and silky soft square of fabric dyed in vibrant colors of the rainbow. If you have not yet discovered this classic childhood toy with infinite imaginative possibilities, a quick Google search will open a new world to you.

Truly timeless, classic toys are toys that do not have a predetermined identity; the child has to create the identity. Legos, blocks and Play-doh are all great examples of classic toys that allow a child to develop a concept or vision in their mind and then watch it come to life by their own hand. This is an invaluable lesson for them to learn.

dec21

Play silks are a classic toy that hold endless possibilities for a child’s active mind. Who will they be? What adventures will they embark on? What will they create? Possibility is a beautiful thing.

Note: I will be posting later this week about a simple way to dye your own play silks…with Kool-Aid!