For those of us battling below zero temperatures, it can be difficult to find indoor activities for our children. Even if warm beach days are rare in Winter, you can bring the beach indoors with this fun activity for your kids.
What you need:
- Deep blue construction paper, felt or material (even a sheet will do)
- Light blue construction paper, felt or material (again a sheet will do)
- Tan material, sheet or blanket
- Yellow construction paper, felt or material
- Beach Towels
- Non-toxic glue or safety pins
- Beach umbrellas (optional)
- Various colors of green & blue tissue paper
- Beach/Hawaiian music, sounds of waves crashing or anything else that reminds you of summer
- Summer snacks
- Summertime reading books. If you don’t have any at home, take a trip to the library.
What to do:
- You and your kids can create your own indoor beach by hanging up the light blue material or construction paper on a wall for the sky.
- Make a sun out of the yellow construction paper and hang in the “sky”.
- Put the tan blanket or sheet on the ground as sand.
- Next to the “sand” put down fish and waves that you cut out of the tissue paper.
- Turn on the music & start your beach party.
- You can read to your kids, lay out on the beach towels, snack on summertime foods, etc.
- Have your kids wear their favorite summer outfit and sunglasses. If it’s too cold in the house to do that, you can have them put a bright colored summer t-shirt over their winter shirt.
We love this Pink lemonade pie recipe for your beach party sent to us from @StepanieCHicks on Twitter:
Do your children have cabin fever? We have a great game to help them burn off some of that energy – Snowball Relay race! This game is very easy to play and needs minimal supplies.
What you need:
- 2 Styrofoam balls (these will be your snowballs)
How to play:
- If you have enough children to divide into teams then do so. (You can even invite over their friends to expand the teams )*
- First child on each team will be given a “snowball” and a spoon.
- When you say “On your mark” they are to bend over, place the snowball on the floor and push the snowball with the spoon across the room, around an obstacle like a chair or a box, and back to next child on team.
- First team to finish wins.
- Finish with a cup of snowman soup!
*If you don’t have enough children to divide into teams, you can time the relay instead of having competing teams.
Starting the year together as a family can be fun and doesn’t have to involve waiting around until midnight. You can have your very own ball dropping to ring in the New Year with a few kid-friendly activities.
- Set your clocks ahead a few hours so you can have a countdown to midnight without having your kids up past their bedtime.
- Make a New Year’s buffet made up of your children’s favorite finger foods.
- Have a board game challenge. Set up board game stations around your house. Play one round at each game and keep the night moving with everyone having a turn to play their favorite game.
- Spend some time sharing as a family your new year’s resolutions. You can make a special new year’s resolution jar where each member writes down their resolution and puts it in the jar. Throughout the year you can pull out the jar and remember the one thing you want to do that year to improve yourself.
- Create your own ball to drop from a stairway or have an adult stand on a chair and drop it. All you have to do is blow up a balloon and decorate it with glitter glue for a sparkly New Year’s Eve ball drop at “midnight”.
- Make your own noise makers (craft below) and crowns to wear at your countdown.
Her is a fun DIY New Year’s Eve noise maker for your family that you may remember from your kindergarten days.
Materials you will need:
- Empty plastic water bottle or dish soap bottle
- Beans, beads or other items to place inside (be sure these are not accessible to children under 3 years of age)
- 1 sheet white tissue paper
- Scraps of tissue paper in various colors, cut into small squares
- Non-toxic glue
- Scissors for adult use only
- Place a handful of beads or beans inside the clean, dry water/soap bottle. Run some glue around the mouth of the bottle and replace the cap.
- Make a mixture of 1/2 white craft glue and 1/2 water that will be enough to cover the bottle a few times over.
- Tear white tissue paper into large chunks, approximately 4”x2”.
- Paint a small section of the outside of the water bottle with the glue mixture. Place a torn piece of white tissue paper onto the glue mixture and paint over it with the glue mixture. Repeat this process, covering the entire bottle with 2-3 coats of white.
- Apply small colorful squares of tissue paper randomly over the white tissue paper to resemble confetti.
- Cut ribbon and carefully tie one of the pieces around the neck of the bottle. Repeat with other lengths of ribbon. Use scissors to cut each length to about 4” hanging length, and then cut upwards into thin strips. Allow to dry for several hours.
What ideas do you have to ring in the New Year with your children?
If you or your kids still believe in Santa, we thought you would like the NORAD Santa tracker. It’s a fun way to get your kids excited about the upcoming holiday(as if they need any help!).
The site counts down the days until Santa comes, has a Google Santa tracker and has all sorts of fun SantaVillage games such as Holiday crosswords, mazes, etc.
Check out the site with your children and watch the magic and delight of Santa light up their faces.
What ways do you get your children exciting about Santa’s visit?
The holidays are a great time to have family date nights to see decorations, lights and more. Many cities have free events for people of all different cultures and faiths. We took a little tour around Chicago to find family date night events that were free. Here are some ideas for you to do in your city.
One of our favorite traditions in the Santa Express CTA. For the low price of a CTA fare (children ride free or reduced rate depending on age), you can hop aboard the Santa Express. Every car has an Elf who hands out candy canes, holiday music playing, holiday decorations and lights, special Santa seat coverings and Santa on his sleigh is hitched between cars. We Googled Santa trains and many cities have special Santa trains for families to ride.
Department stores have great decorations for the holidays. Macy’s and other department stores decorate their windows with a theme especially for children. If you have a Macy’s in your city, be sure to stop and write a letter to Santa (we did!) and watch the believe-o-meter rise!
Go for a family holiday scavenger hunt. Plan to go to a few department stores, the town square, etc. with a list of holiday themed items you need to find. You can just check them off the list or take a photo since you don’t want to take decorations from public places! The list of items to find can be: an elf, a snowman, Santa, a sparkly tree, a wooden soldier, etc. If your family is big enough you can divide into teams!
Google to see if different cultural centers or houses of worship will have special exhibits about their culture at holiday times. Learning how other people celebrate the holidays can help your children to appreciate other traditions as well as their own.
Pack some hot chocolate, pile into the car and put on some holiday music as you drive around the neighborhood and see the lights. If you Google “best places for lights in (insert name of your neighborhood)” you will find the hot spots for holiday lights in your neighborhood. You local holiday music radio station site will also have a calendar of holiday happenings in your town.
The options for a free family date night during the holidays are limitless. In the midst of all your holiday preparations, don’t forget to take the time to celebrate with family.
What inexpensive family holiday date night tips do you have?
Mom started reading to us when we were still in her womb. She was determined that we would love books because she knew they would open new worlds for us. Mom made reading fun. She would snuggle with us in bed as she read our favorite bedtime stories. When we got a little older, she would read a chapter a night of a bigger book like The Secret Garden or Mandy.
Those special bedtime reading rituals are cherished memories I still have today, but they are more than memories. I continue to love reading and I’m so grateful that the good reading habits I had as a child, helped me throughout school and even now in my current career.
The holidays are a great time to start some reading traditions. A few simple tips to get your little one hooked on books!
Children under a year
- Snuggle with your child as you read to equate good feelings with reading.
- Look for age appropriate books with bright simple, pictures with few words.
- Use rhythm when you read. Clap to promote baby’s natural sense of rhythm. Brown Bear is a perfect book for this.
Children 1-2 years old
- Let your child turn the pages of the book as you read so he feels part of the reading experience.
- Use silly voices, make animals noises and add drama. It will get your child extra excited about the story.
- Make your own book with your child’s baby photos. We love Shutterfly’s albums where you can add text and pictures. Your child will love reading the story of her own life.
What reading tips do you have for your little one?
It’s the day before families gather nationwide to pause and be grateful. In the midst of our crazy, hectic schedules it’s easy to forget all the blessings we have. One idea to remember your blessings from year to year is to start a Family Gratitude Book. At Thanksgiving each member of the family writes in the book what she or he is grateful for. Make sure you write the date at the top of the list. Year after year, you will be adding memories that you can look back on and remember. It is especially rewarding to remember what kids wrote when they were little (especially if now they are grown up with their own children) or what family members who have passed on have written. Your Family Gratitude Book becomes an heirloom for many generations.
Supplies for Family Gratitude Book:
- Notebook or Journal
- Grateful Heart
Decorate Your Thanksgiving Table
If you would like little place holders or an easy-to-do craft for your kids, how about a Turkey made from a toilet paper tube?
Supplies for the Turkey toilet paper tube craft:
- Construction paper
- Markers, crayons or non-toxic paint
- Toilet paper tube
- Scissors (to be used by adults)
- Non-toxic glue
- Wiggly eyes (not to be used by children under 3 years of age)
- Cut feathers out of the construction paper
- Cut feet & beak from construction paper
- Glue feathers, feet, beak and wiggly eyes to the toilet paper tube. Toilet paper tube should be “standing” up vertically.
- Color Turkey as desired.
What fun Thanksgiving ideas do you have?
Last Friday we blogged about unlocking your child’s imagination at the Disney Imagination Center. (Wally is already asking when he can return to the Disney Imagination Center for a play date with Jiminy Cricket. ) Today we are exploring opening your child’s imagination through art.
There are many ways you can help your child get in touch with her inner artist.
- Coloring Books – While coloring books have been a go-to staple for years, they allow your child to “put color on paper” and explore the possibilities of making drawings come alive.
- Blank Paper with a Squiggly Line - Draw a squiggly line on a piece of paper and give it to your little one. Ask them if they can make that squiggly line into something. It’s fun to watch their drawing come together as that line becomes part of a tree, animal, etc. (Let them draw a squiggly line on paper for you to create art too!)
- Test Different Mediums – Give your child non-toxic finger paint, markers, crayons, etc. and let them use all these different art mediums to create a masterpiece. You can even use different fabrics, paper sources, etc. to use in their art exploration.
- Introduce Your Child to Different Artists – There is a wonderful series of books that help your child get to know famous artists in a fun way. Making these artists “familiar” helps your child realize that he too can be an artists in his own way!
- Take Your Child to an Art Museum – Many cities have special art museums just for kids! Your city doesn’t have one? No problem! Your child will love the online art museums that not only introduce them to famous artists, but let them create some masterpieces of their own!
What ways do you help unlock your child’s imagination through art?
Wally & I are really excited about today’s Fun Friday because we get to share with you our adventure to unlocking imagination. Yesterday we had the opportunity to go to the new Disney Imagination Center® in downtown Chicago. The Imagination Center is very different from the “regular” Disney stores you have been to. As a matter of fact, it integrates experiences that you could have in Disney World® or Disneyland®.
The Disney Imagination Center is built around unlocking your imagination. Wally & I loved this aspect of the center because as we have learned from studies, developing your child’s imagination is key to many other developmental milestones. (Wally was very excited about it because his baby activity center helps your baby with play and imagination at a very young age.) There are many different ways to unlock your imagination and the Disney Imagination Center excels at it.
We arrived in time for the opening ceremony. The Disney Imagination Center doesn’t just open their doors, they open imagination from the very start of the day. The opening ceremony is a lot of fun. We don’t want to ruin the surprise of all that happens in the ceremony, but there is A LOT of participation from the crowd.
Wally and I then walked down the pixie dust trail left by Tinker Bell. We stopped at the princess castle where we got to pick which princess we wanted to meet. We picked Cinderella and received her special wand. Once we went through the castle and waved the wand before the magic mirror, Cinderella appeared and told us her story!
Wally and I then spent some time coloring in the Imagination Center theater where we also watched some of our favorite Disney movies. You get to pick from a wide variety of movies and see on the mini-screen the countdown to when your selected movie will play.
In the Imagination Center theater, kids who are young and old have the opportunity to learn to draw with Woody, attend story hour, and be part of all sorts of activities that unleash their imaginations.
The cast members were so helpful and fun. When I asked Miguel, who was a team leader, what was their biggest hope for people who visit the Disney Imagination Center he responded, “We want kids of all ages to experience magic for at least 30 minutes.” From the pixie trail to the magical trees that have hidden Mickey Mouses and more, it truly was a magical experience.
We also loved how the Disney experience is designed to customize a guest’s experiences and make every visit special, from the interactive displays and changing lights and media clips shown on the LED light trees to the events and so much more. (We also applaud Disney for being socially conscious & using energy saving lights. Applaud, Applaud)
Before we left, the cast put up a special message in the theater. (They asked who my favorite character was & I told them Alice.)
Wally and I celebrated my unbirthday Disney style with song and fireworks in the trees!
We give the Disney Imagination Center 10 stars. There are a lot of these new Disney stores popping up around the country -just check out the Disney website for the one nearest you!
And we brought a little of the Disney magic home for our Kolcraft fans. Leave a comment about which Disney character unlocks your child’s imagination and why and you will be entered to win a $25.00 Disney Gift Certificate. Contest ends at 7am CST on November 2nd.
Did you know that by the time the average child goes to kindergarten, she/he has watched 5,000 hours of TV? That’s a lot of TV – enough time to have earned a college degree! What’s a parent to do? One activity to get your toddler active is to host your own Olympics. You can even use this theme for a playgroup.
- Make a balance beam by taping a line on the floor with masking tape and letting your child do a “routine” on it.
- Put on your child’s favorite music and let her dance away to her own floor routine.
- Put on music and time how long your child can hula hoop.
- Create your own track event by having your child run, then throw a tennis ball for the shot put, a Frisbee for the discus and end by jumping up into your arms for the pole vault.
Tips for your Olympics:
- Have a medal ceremony at the end of the event. You can find medals at a teacher supply store or make your own with ribbon and foil cut into a medal.
- Dress up your child’s favorite stuffed animal as the mascot for the event.
- Have fun!