Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Umbrella Art for Rainy Days



During spring rain showers occur frequently. We sure have had our share in Florida lately. As you discuss rainy weather with your youngsters, talk about what they wear while walking in the drizzling precipitation. While the kiddos answer raincoats and boots, talk about umbrellas as well. This cut, paste, and print craft design envisions a child hiding behind a big umbrella and all you can see is the child’s rain boots. After they finish cutting and gluing all the pieces, bring out some blue paint for some raindrop printing. What fun!
Materials:
  • Card stock or construction paper
  • Fancy paper, such as gift wrap or scrapbook paper
  • Black construction paper
  • Blue poster paint
  • Paper plate
  • School glue
  • Safety scissors
  • Black marker

Directions:
Step 1 – Cover your work surfaces with newspaper to prevent marring your furniture or messing your floor with glue and paint. You may want to dress your child in a paint smock to protect clothing.
Step 2 – Choose a fancy paper for the umbrella. Think about stripes, dots, or a cute design that can be found on gift wrap or scrapbook paper.
Step 3 – With a pencil or marker, draw a large umbrella (about 8-inches in diameter) onto the print paper. Invite your child to cut on the lines to create this shape. Very young children may need your help with this step.
Step 4 – Draw and cut out a pair of rain boots from black construction paper.
Step 5 – Take the umbrella and boots and have your child glue them onto a background page. It’s best to use a pastel color where the upcoming raindrops will show up nicely.
Step 6 – Mom may want to take a black marker and draw lines (to the points) making this umbrella look real on the page.
Step 7 – After the shapes have dried, it’s time to create raindrops.  Place a dollop of blue poster paint onto a small paper plate. Show your child how to dip his pointer finger into the paint and make a print on the paper plate for practice. After he gets the hang of this technique, have him make numerous raindrop prints randomly on the page around the umbrella.
Praise your youngster for her artwork and hang it in the house where all the family can see it. Talk about how an umbrella can protect a person from getting wet during rain showers. Crafting can be a time of bonding and there are many teachable moments while you work together.
If you like what you see, please subscribe to this blog. Are you looking for a specific craft? Product review? Parenting tips? Shoot me an email to: taniacowling@gmail.com and I will try to help you in future posts.

Until next time. Happy Parenting.
Tania

Photo courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Rainy Days and Mondays: Toys Kids Enjoy



As summer vacation rolls in, so does the rain and heat. There are just some days where your kids can’t go outdoors and play. The kiddos then get bored and can’t think of what to do next. So, this is the time to keep some new toys in your arsenal for fun. Here are a few of my favorite new top finds.

If you are looking for some experiment-type activities that also integrates STEM learning check out these two kits from Horizon Group USA. I like this type play that become teachable moments. 

Discovery Quick Sand
MSRP: $5.00
Age Recommendation: 6+
Experiment with non-Newtonian fluids by creating your own Quick Sand! Make swirling, slimy sand that glows in the dark. Real quicksand in nature acts as a liquid when it is agitated, which causes you to sink. With your homemade quicksand, solid objects will slowly get swallowed up! Try placing a small object on your quicksand and watch it sink.
Available at Michaels, Bed Bath & Beyond
Discovery Rainbow Putty
MSRP: $5.00
Age Recommendation:  6+
Product Description: Experiment with polymers and create your own Rainbow Putty! Polymers are long strings of molecules, and they all act differently. Some can be hard, some slimy and runny, and others rubbery and bouncy. Your Rainbow Putty is a bouncy polymer. Make, bounce, and stretch your putty! Combine as many colors as you like to make rainbow swirl!
Available at Michaels, Bed Bath & Beyond

For the younger kids, VTech provides fun toys that teach skills. If you have an animal lover, like my Matthew, check out this toy.

GearZooz™ GearBuddies Lion & Mouse™
               Go for a friendly spin with the GearZooz™ GearBuddies Lion & Mouse™.
               Kids can connect the Smart Gear™ mouse and turn the handle to watch the gears spin. Placing the mouse on the lion’s back triggers fun phrases and stories. They can also turn the handle gear to hear a melody, then turn the handle faster and faster to speed up the melody.
               Press the light-up button to hear fun stories, or roll the lion to hear playful sing-along songs.
               Then, mix and match with other GearZooz™ playsets (sold separately) for more gear-rific fun!
                Ages 1½ - 4 years, $9.99

And last in my arsenal is from LeapFrog.

Tad's Fridge Phonics™
               Make learning the alphabet exciting with Tad’s Fridge Phonics™!
               This interactive toy introduces children to the letters of the alphabet and the sounds they make, helps build vocabulary and exercises fine motor skills.
               Kids can place one of the 26 musical letter tiles into the letter slot and press down for three modes of play that reinforce letter names, phonics and word skills.
               Three frames can be customized with personal photos and images for a unique, personalized play experience. And, with its magnetic base, it’s great for fridge play in the kitchen.
               Age 2 years+, $19.99

These are only a few of the many toys these companies provide. Check out their websites for more options.

Keep the summer fun (indoors and out) -- Happy Parenting,
Tania

I want to thank these companies for the opportunity to review their toys. I was not paid or coached to write this blog post. The information about the products was provided and these are my own opinions.

Photos courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved.
Graphics by pixabay.com  CC0 Creative Commons

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Dr. Jacobs Naturals -- Natural Soaps for the Family



Today, I would like to discuss the importance of going natural. I personally do not like chemicals of any kind. I don’t want to ingest them, smell them, or put them on my body. Remember your skin is the largest organ of the body and keeping it safe from chemicals is of utmost importance.

I recently had the opportunity to try Dr. Jacobs Naturals. I was given three castile soap products and I have to say, “I’m in love”! I found these soap products easy to use; they rinse off clean, and smell great. I’m also not a big fragrance person, but these products have light, desirable scents made with natural essential oils. A plus!

I enjoyed the Almond Honey for my daily routine – my favorite. BUT, the Peppermint gave me an invigorating lift in the morning. Dr. Jacobs Naturals also sells bar soaps (which some people prefer). I had the opportunity to test the Coco Loco Limeade (so fresh). These bars are also gentle castile soap, but with a loofah exfoliating experience.

Here is a list of what I like about Dr. Jacobs Naturals:
  • 100% natural ingredients; no preservatives or coloring
  • No synthetic fragrances
  • Non GMO
  • Paraben and Sulfate free
  • Gluten free (a must for people with Celiac disease)
  • No palm oil

The soaps are multipurpose; can be used as a body wash, shampoo, and even a shaving product. It can be used on the face and body.
  • Aloe Vera and vitamin E for moisture
  • Includes Shea butter
  • PETA approved
  • Vegan and Cruelty Free
  • Made in the USA

The products are packaged in attractive dispensers, some with easy to use pumps. There are a variety of scents to choose from. Check out this WEBSITE for more information and ordering.  

Trust me – you will love these products for the entire family. It feels good to do something healthy for the body and the environment.

Until next time – Happy Parenting,
Tania
I want to thank Dr. Jacobs Naturals for the opportunity to try their products. I was not paid or coached to write this blog post. The information about the products was provided and these are my own opinions.


Thursday, April 26, 2018

It’s Finally Time for Some Outdoor Play



Spring has finally come and the weather is now conducive for outdoor play.  It’s time for the kids to put down those digital games (not that they don’t have merit) and grab a toy to exercise those gross motor muscles on terra firma.
I’d like to introduce you to a couple toys from SwimWays (Aerobie). I’m sure your children will enjoy these games with friends and family.
Aerobie Pro Ring™

         For exhilarating flying disc games, the thin design of this flying ring allows the disc to travel longer distances and it features soft edges for comfortable catches.
      The open center allows each player to personalize their throwing and catching style – catch the edge with your hand or use the center to catch it with your arm or foot.
                This flying disc was used to set a Guinness World Record for the farthest throw, an amazing 1,333 feet (406 meters)!
                Aerobie Pro Ring measures 13 inches in diameter.
                Available in assorted colors and sold individually.
                Recommended Age: 12+
                MSRP: $9.99
Availability: Dick’s Sporting Goods,  REI, Academy, Olympia Sports, Amazon, Big 5, Meijer, Fred Meyer, Hobby Lobby, Scheels, and Dunham’s Sports

COOP Scatter Dodgeball™


        A fun twist on the classic game of dodgeball, each player begins with two wristbands of the same color.  At the beginning of each round, players form a circle around the dodgeball while one player rolls the dice. Any player who is wearing a wristband that matches the color face-up on the dice is the thrower and may pick up the dodgeball while the other players scatter.
                As the other players scatter, the thrower attempts to hit them with the dodgeball.  Players that get hit must surrender a wristband to the thrower. If the targeted player catches the ball, the thrower must surrender a wristband. 
                The first person to collect all the wristbands wins!
                Two to six players can play the game
        Each set includes: 1 foam dice, 1 dodgeball (durable, sting proof ball), 12 wristbands (2 of each color) and game instructions
                Recommended Age: 5+
                MSRP: $19.99
                Availability: Target, Amazon


Take a peek at these new spring/summer toys. I’m sure your kids will enjoy them.
Until next time! Happy Parenting,
Tania

I want to thank SwimWays Toys for the opportunity to view their products. I was not paid or coached to write this blog post. The information about the products was provided and these are my own opinions.

Photos courtesy of Tania Cowling and SwimWays, all rights reserved

Monday, April 9, 2018

Beat the Heat in the Pool With SwimWays Products



Yes, I know most of you are still battling snow and cold, but some of us (me in Florida) are beginning to envision fun in the sun. Everyone will enjoy this weather soon. Think about this---

Your kids can quench the “sizzle” of summer with water. So, whether you have a big swimming pool or wading pool; your kids can spend hours of fun and “beat the heat” this season. These wet and wild toys will make your outdoor time a splash hit!
SwimWays puts the FUN back in water toys and swim gear for kids! The company’s innovative water toys, ranging from water-activated transforming toys to licensed toys featuring kids’ favorite characters, will keep kids entertained all summer long. Here are a couple products to consider.

SquiDivers™  
Featuring an all-new style, SquiDivers are soft and flexible learn to swim dive toys that wiggle and jiggle their way to the bottom of the pool, landing nose down. The soft, flexible tentacles float upright making these brightly-colored dive toys easy for kids to see and grab. Finger holes allow kids to place on finger tips for in or out of the pool fun

Great for every day swimming fun, for practicing underwater dive and retrieve skills during swim training practice, and as a pool party activity! New characters include shark, ray and fish.
Three SquiDivers are included in each pack. Recommended Age: 5+ MSRP: $7.99
Availability: Toys “R” Us (new style) and Target (current style) 

Funny Face Swim Goggles™  
Kids will love to express their personality at  the pool with these selfie-ready novelty swimming goggles, which add some fun to swim lessons and kids pool parties. The goggles feature an easy-button adjustable head strap, leak-resistant design and soft construction for a comfortable fit.

Available in 3 styles, sold separately: stars and stripes, soccer balls and butterflies. Recommended Age: 3+ MSRP: $7.99
Availability: Academy and Swimways.com
And while the big kids are playing in the pool, your baby can enjoy the water while safe in this fun product:

Baby Spring Float Activity Center™  

The Baby Spring Float Activity Center features an interactive play station with a rotating octopus character that holds 6 baby toys - squeaker fish, stacking rings, fish teether, and soft touch star.

Additional features include a removable sun canopy with UPF 50+ sun protection, see-through mesh sides on the canopy so baby can always be seen, fabric-covered inflation and a soft mesh seat with secure leg holes for durability and comfort, a wide base, child safety valves, and dual air chambers.

The float folds flat into three compact circles and a carry tote is included for easy portability Recommended Age: 9-24 months MSRP: $29.99 Availability: Toys R Us, Target, Amazon




I want to thank SwimWays Toys for the opportunity to view their products. I was not paid or coached to write this blog post. The information about the products was provided and these are my own opinions.

Photos courtesy of Tania Cowling and SwimWays, all rights reserved

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Creative Crafts for Easter



Easter/Passover is on it's way and the perfect time to craft with the kids. Do you need some ideas? I'm posting a culmination of some articles I wrote the past couple years. They are easy and mostly use materials found in the home. Enjoy your holiday and spring!

Happy Parenting,
Tania


Hatching Baby Chicks

Spring is the season for renewal of life and we often hear about baby chicks hatching from eggs. I would suggest getting a book from the library on hatching baby chicks so the children can understand the process.
You will need:
  • Egg halves (washed and dried)
  • 2 yellow pom-poms (one larger than the other)
  • Googly eyes
  • Orange construction paper
  • Safety scissors
  • Heavy-duty glue
Directions:
  1. Give each child one eggshell and two yellow pom-poms. Have them carefully glue their pom-poms inside the eggshell, one on top of the other. Make sure to have extra eggshells available as these are fragile and could crumble.
  2. Finish this craft by gluing on two eyes and an orange beak cut from construction paper.
  3. You can display these baby chicks inside an egg carton or staple a circular ring from heavy-duty paper to make an egg stand.

And more...


  • Crafting With Matzoh for Passover



  • For Passover, let the children use broken pieces of matzoh and invite them to glue these pieces onto construction paper. Lots of very creative pictures emerge from this activity. Have them tell you about their design.
    What’s more fun than painting matzoh? Eating it! Melt white chocolate chips in a bowl (a microwave can be used). Separate the melted chocolate into several bowls. Add drops of food coloring to make a variety of edible paints. Using a clean paintbrush or cotton swabs, invite your child to paint designs and pictures on a square of matzoh. Note: you may have to keep reheating the chocolate to keep it liquid for painting. Chocolate hardens very quickly. Another variation is to use pre-made frosting in tubes that can be purchased in grocery stores. When finished, share the artwork and then enjoy the snack.



  • The Hunts of the Season
    Celebrate Passover with a treasure hunt for the “Afikomen." The matzoh is placed in a holder and here is a simple one to make:
    You will need:
    • Two sheets royal blue felt (9" x 12")
    • Silver glitter glue, decorating decors
    • Tacky glue
  • Simply glue the two sheets of felt together around the edges, leaving one side open for a piece of matzoh. You could also sew them together if you wish. Draw six-sided stars with glitter glue. You can also add decors like lace, sequins, or faux jewels with the tacky glue. Let dry completely and you are ready to place this work of art on the Seder table.
    To hunt for the Afikomen, hide this piece of matzoh in the holder somewhere in the home. Present a few clues to lead the kids from the dining area to where the Afikomen is hidden. Whoever finds the matzoh wins a prize. 

    For Easter, create this cute bunny basket for your youngster to collect his “finds of the hunt." Take a half-gallon milk carton and remove one panel using safety scissors or a craft knife (adult use only). Save this panel to make a handle. Cover all sides of this carton with construction paper using glue or tape. Cut a strip from the saved panel and staple it on both sides to make a handle. Create a cute bunny face by gluing on googly eyes, stapling on bunny ears made from heavy paper, and lastly whiskers. If you punch a hole in the center of the top ridge; pipe cleaners can be inserted equal distance and bent slightly for bunny whiskers.
    Making homemade Easter crafts and Passover crafts for kids are milestones and memories that you and your children will never forget. Enjoy this creative time together and the fun holiday festivities to follow!
    Note: Use parental supervision and age appropriate art materials when making crafts with kids.

  • Articles first published on Bright Hub Education
  • Photos courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved



Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Keeping Your Pets Safe at Easter



Many of us have pets in our household. They need protection just as much as our children. Here is an article that has valuable information on pet safety during this spring holiday.

Until next week -- Happy Parenting (and pet parenting)
Tania


"As most of the country digs out from under the snow and rejoices in spring, there are hidden Easter dangers putting our pets at serious risks. With kids home for spring break, it’s important to keep in mind the Easter holiday may present life-threatening hazards for our furry friends. And you’ll want to be aware that Easter Sunday isn’t the only concern, it can sometimes be a few days after the incident before the symptoms start to show. Embrace Pet Insurance compiled a list of five Easter dangers that pet parents should be extra cautious about the days leading up to and following the Easter holiday.

1. Chocolate

Eating the ears off the chocolate Easter bunny is a household tradition, but don’t let your dog or cat help. Chocolate is toxic to your pets and could result in an expensive Sunday emergency vet visit. Embrace Pet Insurance always sees an increase in claims for chocolate poisoning around Easter. Last year, a curious Beagle racked up a veterinary bill for over $1,400 after helping himself to a basket of chocolate. Chocolate contains theobromine, a potent cardiovascular and nervous system stimulant which is rejected slowly in pets.

2. Xylitol

Make sure to hide sugar-free candies sweetened with xylitol up higher than your Easter-basket-hunting pets can reach. Even in small amounts, xylitol is extremely toxic to your furry family. Veterinary bills are usually around $2,000 and require follow up visits to check blood work.

3. Lilies

Lilies are especially dangerous to cats but should be kept from dogs as well. Lilies in the genera Lilium and Hemerocallis are all toxic. This information should be on the tag of the plant, and when in doubt find a safer option. Some of the claims made to Embrace were over $3,700. Treatment for lily intoxication includes aggressive decontamination possibly followed by a dose of activated charcoal, IV fluid therapy, urine and blood work monitoring, and overnight supportive care for approximately 48 hours.

4. Plastic Grass

The plastic grass used to line Easter baskets and displays is an accident waiting to happen for your pets. It isn’t digestible which means that it can become lodged in the gastrointestinal tract and wreak havoc if consumed. Pet parents should be concerned if their pet is vomiting, has diarrhea, a decrease in appetite, lethargy, and stomach pain.

5. Table scraps

Your Easter meal is likely delicious, and your dogs and cats probably agree – but be sure that your guests know not to feed them any scraps and remember to secure the trash once the feast is over. People food is too rich for your pet’s belly. According to Jenna Mahan, RVT, and Director of Claims for Embrace Pet Insurance, “We see an increase in the number of claims related to gastroenteritis, constipation, foreign body [ingestion], and lethargy during the holidays. An Easter favorite, hot cross buns contain dried fruit, such as currants and raisins are toxic to dogs. If your dog eats even a small quantity of these dried fruits they can suffer severe kidney failure which may be lethal.”

If a pet parent notices a pet experiencing vomiting, dehydration, diarrhea, lethargy, or hyper-excitability, they should take them to their primary veterinarian right away to discuss a recommended course of treatment. “Unexpected accidents and illnesses can happen at any time – and our dogs and cats aren’t exempt from this. Having pet insurance is like having a safety net for unexpected veterinary bills,” says Dawn Pyne, Marketing Manager for Embrace Pet Insurance. “It provides you with peace of mind that if the unexpected happens, you’re covered.”

Blog post with permission from Embrace Pet Insurance
Photo graphics courtesy of Pixabay.com  CC0 Creative Commons

Monday, March 19, 2018

March Winds Are Perfect for Kites



“March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb” is the common phrase for this month’s unpredictable weather. Discuss weather changes with your children by charting lion days (blustery, windy) and lamb days (spring-like) on a March calendar. Ask your child what he would like to do on a windy day? Have you tried flying a kite when the March wind blows? Here’s a fun craft to make that signifies the windy weather and a kite-flying theme. There are several art techniques with this project that are sure to keep your child amused.
Materials:
  • Clear adhesive paper
  • Colorful tissue paper
  • Safety scissors
  • Tape
  • Black marker
  • Stapler
  • Ribbon
  • Construction paper in several colors

Directions:
Step 1 – Cut a large square of clear self-adhesive paper and tape the clear plastic side down onto a table. Peel off the protective paper so the sticky side is facing up.
Step 2 – Gather some tissue paper in several colors, preferably spring-like hues. Cut the tissue paper into small squares or other geometric shapes.
Step 3 – Instruct the child to take the squares (or shapes) and place them onto the sticky paper. Let them cover half of the sticky paper with these shapes.
Step 4 – Carefully fold over the one side of the adhesive paper and press it down firmly.  Rub over the folded plastic to release any air bubbles. Now, the colorful tissue paper is inside the plastic sheet.
Step 5 – Draw a kite shape (diamond) in the middle of this large square and invite the child to cut this plastic kite out. You can draw a vertical and horizontal line on the front side of the diamond to look like a real kite.
Step 6 – Next, cut a piece of ribbon, about a foot long and fishtail the end. Staple this to the bottom point of the diamond shape. This is the kite’s tail.
Step 7 – To help the kite tail do its job small ribbon rungs can be cut from construction paper (bow-tie shape) and stapled to the main ribbon tail.  A kite’s tail helps to steer the kite in the proper direction using a combination of weight and air resistance to steer or trail this flying object.
Step 8 – Display your child’s artistic kite in his/her bedroom – on the wall or hanging from the ceiling.
On your next blustery day, why not take the kids outdoors and attempt to fly a real kite? It’s a fun sport and will give you and your kids plenty of exercise chasing this soaring toy.
Photo courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved