Rainy Day Fun

23 Mar

1. Make puppets and put on a play.

2. Write silly songs; have a contest (like American Idol).

3. Put on a play. Have the kids design the costumes, write the script, and build the scenery.

4. Write a book, and illustrate it too.

5. Build a fort. Pillows, blankets, couches- everything can be a building tool.

6. Write a letter to grandma, or another relative or friend who lives far away.

7. Get creative in the kitchen. This website has all sorts of crafty ideas.

8. Play with watercolors to celebrate how wet it is outside.

9. Have an indoor picnic- after all, summer is just a couple more rainy days away!

Travel Games

28 Feb

Going on a trip? Bring these easy travel games with you.

Bring with you:

1. An audiobook. Listen as a family and discuss or let the kids pick their own and listen on a CD player or iPod. Here is a list of six different audiobooks to enjoy as a family.

2. Puzzle and coloring books.

3. Books. What’s a better way to get the kids reading than by giving them a book on a long trip?

4. Travel sized games (such as Checkers or Hungry, Hungry Hippos).

 

Games to play as a family:

1. Travel Bingo. Everyone gets a card (they sell them online or make your own!) and see who can get Bingo first, watching out the window for things like cows or red trucks.

2. I Spy. Easiest game there is: One person says “I spy something _________ (descriptive word like blue)” and everyone tries to guess what it is.

3. A-Z. See who can spot things beginning with each letter of the alphabet first. Another version is to find words starting with each letter on billboards.

4. 20 Questions. Another easy and fun family game: One person picks an item, and everyone has 20 collective yes or no questions to guess what it is.

5. Last letter, first letter. Go in a circle around the car/airplane/bus/train and everyone must say a word. The catch is the word’s first letter must be the same as the last letter of the previous person’s word. With older kids, create categories. My family always played with different countries. (Example: England, Denmark, Kenya, etc)

Get Fit as a Family

22 Feb

Here are some ideas of how to build a healthy lifestyle for your kids by getting fit as a family. Remember, this blog is all about fun, so focus on “fun activities” rather than “exercise” or “losing weight.” Stay positive and have some ginormous fun!

1. Make it a contest. Have the kids shoot hoops or run a race. Create an obstacle course and see who can finish first.

2. Go to the playground or walk the dogs after dinner. Go to the zoo or go miniature golfing as a family. The focus doesn’t have to be on exercising; fitness can be a happy side benefit to family time.

3. Walk or bike rather than driving whenever you can. Make exercise a habit rather than a chore by walking to school/the grocery store/the library/friend’s houses/anywhere you can.

4. Give fitness-related gifts like a mini trampoline, a jump rope, hula-hoop or basketball hoop. Other options are roller blades, scooters, skate boards, or even fitness-related video games.

5. Be a good example and let the kids see you exercise and join in. Take them with you to the gym, or teach them the new stretch you learned.

 

How do you and your kids get fit as a family? Leave your ideas in the comments!

 

Special thanks to PBS and lilSugar for some of the above ideas.

Black History Month

15 Feb

February is Black History Month and a great chance to celebrate the contributions of African Americans and people of African descent to world history and culture as a family.

Read a book about or written by an African-American. This website provides plenty of resources. Click here for recommended reading.

Watch a movie as a family. This site gives some good kid-friendly suggestions. Here is one of my favorites: “Duke Ellington… and more stories to celebrate great figures in African American history.”

Learn more about famous black historical figures and inventors. Share a new fact each night at dinner, and point out which everyday items were invented by African Americans. Did you know a former slave invented peanut butter? Slip that into lunch. How about traffic lights? The perfect fact for a car ride. Don’t forget about summer staples likes lawn sprinklers and Super Soaker guns!

Take a trip! This website suggests places to visit all over the country to celebrate black heritage.

Celebrate diversity with a craft project. These “freedom puppets” are fun and teach kids that every person is unique. Remind the kids that black history isn’t just in the past, and there are ways to celebrate different races and diversity every day.

Find much more information on The History Channel and African American History Month 2012 websites.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with your family

9 Feb

There’s the standard “dinner and movie” or there’s Valentine’s Day on a budget:

  1. Instead of buying each other Valentine’s Day cards, make them!
  2. Give “coupons” instead of presents. The kids can include things like “empty the dishwasher” or “free hugs for a week.” Parents can include things like “stay up an extra 30 minutes,” “free dessert of your choice” or “get out of chores for a day.” The more personal they are, the better the gift.
  3. Stay in for dinner:

Make heart-shaped food for breakfast: heart cookie-cutter will give you just the right shape for pink pancakes, while heart-shaped muffin trays make adorable cupcakes or muffins

For dinner: decorate a home-made heart-shaped pizza with heart-shaped pepperoni, make heart-shaped meatloaf and personalize each child’s plate with ketchup hearts, or use heart-shaped pasta for a super quick and easy meal.

For dessert: red or pink jello, heart cookies or cupcakes, or splurge and have fondue.

Have the kids make dinner for the adults: The kids can plan a menu, let you order, and then make the food. This way, you still can have your date with all the special someones in your life.

What’s your favorite way to spend Valentine’s Day with your family?

Outdoor Snow Day Activities

2 Feb
  1. While the snow is still new, look for animal tracks and create your own
  2. Ice Skating: at a rink, or build your own on the back porch
  3. Sledding: if you don’t have a hill in your yard, build one.
  4. Build Igloos/Snow Forts
  5. Have a snowball fight (use the forts for protection)
  6. See how big you can make a snowball
  7. Take a nature walk
  8. Take pictures of the snow and any animals you see. For added fun, photograph scenes with your indoor toys outdoors (animal figurines are perfect for this)
  9. Use spray bottles filled with colored water to create designs in snow
  10. Bird watching- check online to find out what birds are in your area

Indoor Snow Day Activities

31 Jan
  1. Bake things: some great winter recipes can be found here and here
  2. Make your own popsicles: pour juice or Kool-Aid into popsicle forms or ice cube trays
  3. Make miniature igloos out of sugar cubes or marshmallows: have a contest for roundest, most creative, and tallest
  4. Bring back summer: have an indoor beach party. All you need is those summer toys out of storage, crank the heat, and let the kids run around in their bathing suits.
  5. Have an indoor campout: build tents out of pillows and blankets, make s’mores and tell ghost stories
  6. Grow an indoor garden: with a grow light and some soil, you can plant everything from flowers to herbs, and the kids will have something they can care for until Spring
  7. Have a family card or game night

If not snowed in:

  1. Go to the library: get books and see who can read the most pages or get movies and have a marathon
  2. Pottery decorating: there are places to decorate your own pottery in most cities. On a smaller budget, pick up supplies at a craft store and decorate your own pottery.

Easy New Year’s Eve Party

27 Dec

*If your kids are younger and can’t make it to midnight- celebrate the New Year in a different time zone. For more fun, theme your party to that time zone. For example, celebrate the New Year London-style at 6pm Central time.

What to do at the party:

  1. Create your own noisemakers using empty toilet paper rolls and dry beans or corn kernels.
  2. Decorate party hats.
  3. Have a movie marathon.
  4. Provide a mix of healthy and fun snacks.
  5. If you want party favors, decorate picture frames with the number of the new year, then include a picture from the night for each child.

Bury a time capsule

Include:

  1. Something special from each child.
  2. Pictures from the night’s event (can be easily printed from a computer or one hour photo)
  3. Have everyone write out (or draw for the younger kids) their favorite part of the past year, and what they’re looking forward to in the New Year.
  4. Write or draw resolutions for the New Year.
  5. Create a collage- clipping from magazines- of things from the year.

Create a countdown.

  1. Decorate large signs with the numbers 1-10. When it’s almost midnight, let different children hold up the sign for a picture while everyone starts using their noise makers around them.
  2. Use your bodies to create a countdown. Have ten children in one pose, nine in the next, all in funny poses. If you have fewer children, make the numbers with your bodies by lying on the floor.

At midnight

  1. Toast with grape juice, sparkling cider, or even milkshakes.
  2. Have a parade outside, bang pots and pans or blow bubbles to celebrate.
  3. Have poppers or sparklers.
  4. Fill balloons with confetti and let the kids pop them.
  5. Pick up a large sheet of bubble wrap at a shipping store and let the kids stomp on it

Is it a slumber party?

Ideas for the morning after (keep it low-key, the kids will be as tired as you)

  1. Silly face pancakes- let the kids decorate using strawberries, chocolate chips, etc.
  2. Easy bake cinnamon rolls or crescent rolls

Snowmen Decorations

14 Dec

Now that you’ve made your snowman treats, here are some crafts for the kids to do, before and during the party!

Decorations and invites made by the kids. For the invites, all you need is construction paper, buttons or if you’re on a budget, trace cirlces with a bowl on bright paper.

Cut-out snowflakes are super easy, and these snowmen will brighten any party room.

Create these snowman lights as table decorations to light up a dull winter day. Helpful instructions found here.

Crafts to make at the party:

These can double as ornaments:

The three projects below were found here, along with more!

A little more advanced, but this would look great on the mantle every year.

Goodies to take home. Have extra treats? (found in my helpful snowman treat post!) Wrap them up with these adorable ties.

Snowmen Treats

13 Dec

You want to have a winter party, but you’re not quite ready for Christmas. Maybe you don’t celebrate Christmas. Or maybe it’s your birthday and you’re sick of sharing it with Christmas.

Well, I’ve got a solution for you. A SNOWMAN-themed party! All week, I’ll be posting ways to create the perfect Snowman party.

Today, I focus on Delicious Snowmen Treats.

No- not like that!! Here are some snowman treats kids can make:

 

Cupcakes: all you need is cupcake mix, frosting, marshmallows, preztel sticks, black and orange sprinkles for the eyes and buttons, and hard candy for the hat. Add a little extra with a red fruit roll-up for the scarf! (found here)

 

Pops: these would make great party favors (instructions at this blog)

 

Doughnuts: super easy and delicious (instructions here and here)

 

Smores:a little more advanced, but very adorable (instructions here)