Thursday, June 19, 2014

New Products Featuring Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Hi Friends,

Have your kiddos been nagging about seeing the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film? It will be hitting the theaters around August 8th, and there are action figures, vehicles and role play gear, that reflect the personalities and distinctive look of the Turtles in the movie.

Below is a press release from Playmates Toys that will give you all the information, keeping you abreast of everything you need to know to converse with your children about these 'green' heroes.


Playmates Toys to Introduce New Toy Line Based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Film

El Segundo, CA – June 18, 2014 – Playmates Toys, the creative force behind the successful Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toy line over the last three decades, is set to introduce a new product line inspired by Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies’ summer blockbuster film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, directed by Jonathan Liebesman,written by Josh Appelbaum & André Nemec and Evan Daugherty and produced by Michael Bay, hitting theaters August 8. The movie line of toys will include an assortment of products for Turtles fans, including action figures, vehicles and role play gear.

“We are proud to introduce an all-new line of toys that reflect the personalities and distinctive look of the Turtles in the movie,” said Karl Aaronian, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Playmates Toys. “The range of toys will provide kids and fans of all ages with a one-of-a-kind ninja play experience that brings their favorite characters from the film to life.”

“Playmates has outdone themselves yet again, with an incredible product offering for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie,” said Manuel Torres, SVP Global Toys and Publishing, Nickelodeon Consumer Products. “These products – from action figures to role play toys – will provide hours of play, collectability and deepen our fans’ connection to the beloved brand.”

 The new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie toy line from Playmates Toys will feature the following action figures, group vehicle and role-play gear:

Action Figures
The action figure collection will include basic action figures, 11-inch figures and deluxe feature figures. The action figures are highly detailed, fully articulated and uniquely sculpted to reflect the Turtles’ appearance in the movie. In addition, each figure comes equipped with unique accessories. The basic action figures vary in heights from 4.0 inches to 5.5 inches. The collection includes Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and Raphael, as well as Splinter, The Shredder, Foot Soldier, April O'Neil and Raphael in Disguise. The 11-inch figure collection includes the four Ninja Turtles.

The Combat Warrior Deluxe Figures are highly detailed, fully articulated and uniquely sculpted, with heights ranging from 5.25 inches to 6 inches. The Turtles’ legs can be squeezed to trigger battle actions. The collection includes Leonardo with quick cut katana action, Donatello with smack-down spinning staff action, Michelangelo with triple terror twist nunchuck action and Raphael with serious slashing sai action.

The Turtle Assault Van is packed with ninja action features, allowing kids to drive the Turtles into their next battle and recreate their favorite scenes from the movie. Features include a spring-powered Turtle torpedo, launching luge assault vehicle, pop top hatch and side attack ramp. The control cabin holds the basic Ninja Turtles action figures.

Role Play Gear
With the Ninja Combat Gear, kids can transform themselves into one of their favorite heroes in a half shell from the film. Each set includes the Turtles’ signature weapon and bandana, allowing kids to see if they have what it takes to become a Ninja Turtle. The collection includes Leonardo with katana sword, bandana and two hand guards, Michelangelo with Nunchuck, bandana and two hand guards, Raphael with two Sais and bandana and Donatello with Bo Staff and bandana.

About the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie
In this modern-day iteration of the popular franchise that has captivated audiences of all ages for decades, the Turtles must work with fearless reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox) and her wise-cracking cameraman Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett) to save New York City and unravel Shredder’s diabolical plan.  Based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles characters created by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman, written by Josh Appelbaum & André Nemec and Evan Daugherty, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is produced by Michael Bay (director and executive producer of the blockbuster Transformers franchise),Andrew Form, Brad Fuller, Galen Walker, Scott Mednick and Ian Bryce, and directed by Jonathan Liebesman (Wrath of the Titans).

About Playmates Toys
With a history of over 40 years, Playmates Toys is today among the most well-respected and innovative marketing and distribution companies in the global toy industry with a proven history in the creation of imaginative products as well as the development and management of profitable, long-term brand franchises. Key brands include TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, HEARTS FOR HEARTS GIRLS and WATERBABIES. From its offices in Hong Kong and California, Playmates designs, develops, markets and distributes its products in over 60 countries worldwide. For more information, visit or

About Nickelodeon
Nickelodeon, now in its 35th year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The company includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, online, recreation, books and feature films. Nickelodeon’s U.S. television network is seen in almost 100 million households and has been the number-one-rated basic cable network for 19 consecutive years. For more information or artwork, visit  Nickelodeon and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIA.B).

About Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures Corporation (PPC), a global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment, is a unit of Viacom (NASDAQ: VIAB, VIA), a leading content company with prominent and respected film, television and digital entertainment brands. Paramount controls a collection of some of the most powerful brands in filmed entertainment, including Paramount Pictures, Paramount Animation, Paramount Vantage, Paramount Classics, Insurge Pictures, MTV Films, and Nickelodeon Movies. PPC operations also include Paramount Home Media Distribution, Paramount Pictures International, Paramount Licensing Inc., and Paramount Studio Group.

# # #

© 2014 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and all related titles, logos and characters are trademarks of Viacom International Inc.

Information and photo courtesy of Playmates Toys

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Teaching Children About the World Cup Soccer With Toys

Dear Parents and Caregivers,

The World Cup Soccer just began and already people all over the world are glued to the games. It's also a great time to teach the kiddos about soccer and the countries that partake in this event. Playmobil has a series of toys that emphasize soccer. Take a peek at this review about their soccer products in celebration of the World Cup. ~~~

Rio (Brazil), host of this year’s World Cup, is gearing up for one of the world’s most widely-viewed sporting events. As interest in the sport once again takes center stage, the focus will be on the teams, players and event sponsors. But did you know that toymaker PLAYMOBIL is actually the world’s largest soccer ball producer? Since 2006, they have manufactured more than 11.6 million soccer balls! The German-based company, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, first introduced soccer player figures that can kick in honor of the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Berlin.

Below are some of the toy sets Playmobil has to offer:

Take Along Soccer Match (#4725): With the Playmobil Take Along Soccer Match you can dribble your way across the field to victory! With six athlete figures primed and ready to play, this set comes fully equipped with everything kids need to have a complete game experience. Goalie figures connect to an included goal joystick that allows kids to control the goalies' movements from behind the goal net. This compactable and travel-ready set also includes a 22 x 33 inch field, soccer ball and other accessories. Recommended for ages five to ten. Suggested Retail Price: $67.99. Warning: Choking Hazard. Contains a small ball and small parts. Not for children under 3 years.

Soccer Shoot Out (#4726): Score the tie-breaking goal with the Playmobil Soccer Shoot Out. Two figures compete to see who can score the most goals and win the match. The working digital scoreboard with timer keeps track of points and ensures a fair match. Set also includes goal area, two orange cones and soccer ball. Recommended for ages five to ten. Suggested Retail Price: $24.99. Warning. Choking Hazard. Contains a small ball and small parts. Not for children under 3 years.

Referees (#4728): The referee and 2 linesmen are ready for action. Warn the players with the cards to prevent misbehaving. Set includes whistle, flags and yellow and red cards. Recommended for ages five to ten. Suggested Retail Price: $8.99. Warning. Choking Hazard. Contains a small ball and small parts. Not for children under 3 years.

Germany (#4729): Share your team pride with the soccer player from Germany. Set includes one figure with leg that kicks and soccer ball. Recommended ages five to ten. Suggested Retail Price: $3.99. Warning. Choking Hazard. Contains a small ball and small parts. Not for children under 3 years.

Spain (#4730): Support your national team with the soccer player from Spain. Set includes one figure with leg that kicks and soccer ball. Recommended ages five to ten. Suggested Retail Price: $3.99. Warning. Choking Hazard. Contains a small ball and small parts. Not for children under 3 years.

England (#4732): Display your team spirit with the soccer player from England. Set includes one figure with leg that kicks and soccer ball. Recommended ages five to ten. Suggested Retail Price: $3.99. Warning. Choking Hazard. Contains a small ball and small parts. Not for children under 3 years.

France (#4733): Cheer on the French team with the soccer player from France. Set includes one figure with leg that kicks and soccer ball. Recommended ages five to ten. Suggested Retail Price: $3.99. Warning. Choking Hazard. Contains a small ball and small parts. Not for children under 3 years.

Netherlands (#4735): Root for your favorite athlete with the soccer player from the Netherlands. Set includes one figure with leg that kicks and soccer ball. Recommended ages five to ten. Suggested Retail Price: $3.99. Warning. Choking Hazard. Contains a small ball and small parts. Not for children under 3 years.

Brazil (#4799): Score a goal with the soccer player from Brazil. Set includes one figure with leg that kicks and soccer ball. Recommended ages five to ten. Suggested Retail Price: $3.99. Warning. Choking Hazard. Contains a small ball and small parts. Not for children under 3 years.

Look for these sets at your local toy store or on Playmobil's website.

Information and photos courtesy of PLAYMOBIL

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Father's Day Activities

A big thanks to Mrs. John B. Dodd, of Washington, for the idea of Father's Day first introduced it in 1909. Through the years it became more and more popular until finally in 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the 3rd Sunday of June as Father's Day.
Each of us have our ideas of how Father's Day should be celebrated and in our society the cards and gifts will continue to help build those memories. But Dad deserves more than just one more striped tie-he needs the gift of time and/or something homemade. Let's appreciate all the things he brings to our lives by sharing these experiences and bonding with Dad on his special day.

SWEET CHILD OF MINE: (Baby and Toddler)
Early in a child's life, it's important that fathers get involved with daily care activities-feeding, dressing and changing diapers. Bonding is an important lifetime experience between a father and child.

Play this game anytime you dress your little one. Massage, kiss, cuddle and blow air on the child's body. Tell your youngster you love him/her. Daddy can recite the following poem as he dresses his bundle of joy on Father's Day.


As you child gets a little older, comparing handprints is a lifelong lesson. Have your child place his/her hand on a sheet of paper and trace around it. Place your hand over the tracing of your child's hand and help your child trace around it. Ask your youngster to compare the sizes of the two sets of hands. Tell your child a story about something you liked to do when your hands were small. Let your child tell you what he/she would like to do when his or her hands are the size of yours. As an extended activity, take a walk together holding hands.

Go to the local nursery together to buy a few plants. At home, spend fun time in the yard planting your new foliage. Continue gardening together as much as possible.

Go for an afternoon drive. See how many muscle (sports) cars you can identify together.
Set up the sprinkler in the yard and have fun splish-splashing through the water. Brings back Dad's childhood.

Have a "mini family reunion." Invite relatives over for an afternoon of food and games. Help Dad with the all time favorite BBQ.

Snuggle away a few hours together on the couch talking about your child's dreams, hobbies, etc. Today, read a story to Dad.

Most of all, tell Dad you love him. That will really make him smile!!!

I hope all the dads and father figures enjoy their special day on June 15th.
Until next time,

This article was originally posted on Yahoo Voices
Photos courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

It's Summer: Time for a Fish Theme

It's summer and many families spend these days fishing, boating, at the beach and maybe visiting an aquarium. Children love fish so get their focused attention and keep them hooked with projects and games that have a theme from under the sea.

Fish Stories

Cut out fish shapes from construction paper. From old magazines, cut out interesting pictures and glue these onto the fish. Place all fish into a box. Invite the children to pick a "fish" from the box. Look at the picture and try to incorporate it into a fish story they make up. This is a fun game for a group of children or with the family.

Pick Up Fish (A Fine Motor Game)

Remember the game of pick-up-sticks? Here is a fish version. You will need two containers, one empty and the other filled with fish shaped crackers. Invite the children to use tweezers to move the crackers from one container to the other.

Fish Dramatic Play

Have the children pretend to be fish swimming in the water. Ask, "What type of fish do you want to be?" Tell them to lie on their stomach with their arms close to their side. Now, have them wiggle their body and try to move. Ask, "How would you rest when you are tired? How would you eat? Where would you hide if there were danger?" Have the children describe what they imagine in their underwater world. Act out the following verse.

There is so much activity beneath the sea.
The crab crawls, the eel wiggles,
The octopus swims, the jellyfish jiggles.
Dramatize the creature you want to be!

Under the sea is so much fun for preschoolers. Let these ideas be a start to your fish theme. I'll add more ideas in the next weeks.
Until then - have fun - be creative - enjoy life!

Photo courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Memorial Day Fun With the Kids

Memorial Day is a time to honor our nation's fallen heroes and many activities are planned for this patriotic holiday. It's also a long weekend for us to find things to do on Memorial Day with the kids; quality family time with our children without the usual interruptions of phones and household chores. Let's welcome the first inkling of summer with outdoor activities where parents and children can enjoy each other, the sunshine, fresh air, food, games and just "fun, fun, fun!"

Picnic Basics (Preschool +)

Children love picnics! And picnics are even more fun-and full of learning when your child helps with the planning and preparations. Talk with your child about the picnic so the excitement begins and enlist her help in the planning. As you pack, remember the extras like tissues, wipes, bandages, and something to sit on.

You can carry food in a basket, bucket or backpack. If you are not traveling far, your child could pack her own finger foods in the compartments of an egg carton. It often works well to have one blanket for food and another one or two to sit on. Small children love to crowd to the middle of a blanket of food, and it is discouraging to have someone sitting on the bananas. Just remember today is a day of fresh air, fun and happiness. This song should set the mood. (Tune: "You Are My Sunshine")


Let your children fill in other reasons of their happiness, maybe they are happy to eat "hot dogs" or "playing baseball". Make this song open-ended and sing as many verses as you can dream up.

After the picnic, bring out the crayons, markers, and some extra picnic supplies to make simple puppets. Your child can add pipe cleaner arms and a face with markers to a plastic or wooden spoon. With small paper plates, she can draw a face with crayons and then attach the plate to a plastic fork by weaving it through the tines. The fork becomes the handle for the puppet-or the whole plate can become a mask if you cut out holes for the eyes. Encourage your child to put on a puppet show for the entire family.

Enjoy your holiday weekend,

This article was originally posted on Yahoo Voices.

Craft photo courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Endangered Species Day and Playmobil Toys

Hello friends,

I'm always on the lookout for new events and special toys for our children. Here is something you may be interested in.

This Friday, May 16th is Endangered Species Day and PLAYMOBIL has new wildly-fun playsets bound to spark awareness in young animal lovers. From the African elephant to the giant panda, PLAYMOBIL’s Endangered Animals of the World playsets are ideal for educating kids about respecting wildlife and the protection of all creatures worldwide.

Kids can take a ride through the African Savannah where elephants and rhinos roam, journey off-road in the jungle and observe bamboo-munching pandas in their natural habitat. With four different playsets, they’ll love learning about different animals and regions of the world while exploring the natural wonders of the environment.

Check out these sets in your local toy store or online:

Pandas in Bamboo Forest: (#5414): Get up close and personal with the Pandas as they graze in the Bamboo Forest. After they’ve had their fill of bamboo shoots, the two adult pandas and their cubs can take shelter for the night in the cozy cave concealed within the rocky terrain. Thanks to his off-road bike, the researcher can view the animals from a safe distance, while all of his gear remains safely stowed away in the bike’s storage box. Set includes one figure with helmet, off-road bike, two pandas, two cubs, camera, binoculars, trees, flowers, and other accessories. Recommended for ages four to ten. Suggested Retail Price: $25.99.  Warning. Choking Hazard. Small parts. Not for children under 3 years

Gorillas and Okapis with Film Maker: (#5415): Document the animals in their natural habitat with the Film Maker. Using her professional video camera, the film maker can record how these wild animals live. The baby gorilla loves swinging from the trees while the mother keeps an eye from below. The exotic okapi with baby snack on the surrounding vegetation as the film maker catches everything on camera. Set includes one figure, gorilla with baby, okapi with baby, camera, clipboard, storage container, tree, landscape, and other accessories. Recommended for ages four to ten. Suggested Retail Price: $29.99. Warning. Choking Hazard. Small parts. Not for children under 3 years.

Jungle Animals with Researcher and Off-Road Vehicle: (#5416): Learn everything there is to know about the Jungle Animals as the Researcher observes them in the wild. The off-road vehicle’s removable roof and hood make it easy to view the animals in their natural environment, while the sizeable trunk provides plenty of storage for the microscope, laptop, and other equipment. There’s plenty to see in the jungle as everything from tigers to orangutans roam the forest. The orangutans swing from branch to branch while other animals find shelter beneath a movable rock in the terrain. Set includes one figure, off-road vehicle, tiger with cub, orangutan with two babies, scorpions, snake, food, lantern, flowers, vines, and other accessories. Recommended for ages four to ten. Suggested Retail Price: $42.99. Warning. Choking Hazard. Small parts. Not for children under 3 years.

African Savannah with Animals (#5417): Take a ride on the wild side through the African Savannah with Animals. With the help of his camera and tripod, the researcher can capture priceless photos of elephant and rhinoceros families as they roam the savannah. But beware! A dangerous cheetah is lurking nearby in the trees. Set includes one figure, adult and baby elephant, adult and baby rhinoceros, cheetah, binoculars, cooler with water bottles, and other accessories. Recommended for ages four to ten. Suggested Retail Price: $46.99. Warning. Choking Hazard. Small parts. Not for children under 3 years.

I hope you have enjoyed this toy segment. These sets are perfect for creative play and are quite educational.

See you next week,

Information and photos are courtesy of PLAYMOBIL

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Celebrating Mother's Day With Homemade Gifts

Mom, put the blindfolds on and overlook this article! Calling all Dads, Grandparents and babysitters---please gather up the kids and help them make a special gift for mom. There is a special holiday coming this month-- Mother's Day. What mother wouldn't appreciate a homemade gift from her child? These things don't cost much; actually the best gifts for Mom are free.

A Little History:
Mother's Day dates back to ancient Greece when the people paid tribute to Rhea, the Mother of the Gods. Later in history, England paid tribute to mothers on "Mothering Sunday", the fourth Sunday of Lent. There were several women who suggested the idea of Mother's Day, however, it wasn't until Miss Anna M. Jarvis (1864-1948) of Philadelphia campaigned to make Mother's Day a national holiday. In 1910, the first Mother's Day was proclaimed and was celebrated by West Virginia and Oklahoma. By 1911 every state observed Mother's Day. Resolutions were passed, but it wasn't until May 8, 1914 that President Woodrow Wilson issued the proclamation making Mother's Day an official national holiday. Miss Anna Jarvis's mother's favorite flower was the white carnation. This flower was chosen to represent the sweetness, purity and endurance of mother love. As the years went by, the red carnation has since become the symbol of a living mother while the white flower signifies that one's mother has passed.

Click on this link to find an assortment of homemade gift ideas and activities for Mother's Day.
It's just around the corner on Sunday, May 11, 2014.

Have a great week,

This article was originally posted on Yahoo Voices 2010.
Photo courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Z is for Zoo Crafts

Your child can create a menagerie of animals at home or school. With just a few household items and stuff in your art cart -- zoo animals can be made!

Gentle Giraffe -
Cut out the shape of a giraffe on yellow construction paper and let your child put spots on it with a bingo marker or ink stamp.

Slithering Snake -
Your children can make a snake out of a paper plate. First, draw a line that goes around and around from the edge to the middle and stops. Next, invite your youngster to sponge paint the plate (dab, dab, dab) with green and brown poster paints. When dry, the kids can cut on the line (lots of curves) to make a spiral. Punch a hole at the top, thread in a piece of string and hang the snake. It will wiggle and cause lots of giggles!

Zebra Stripes -
Draw and cut out a horse-shape from white construction paper. Using black poster paint, invite the children to marble paint this animal. Do this by placing the paper shape in a baking pan. Tape it down on the bottom of the pan with a rolled piece of tape. Coat a couple marbles with black paint and then place them into the pan. Your kids can tilt the pan back and forth, letting the balls roll over the animal. Children love to see this "horse" turn into a zebra. As a variation, ping-pong balls can be used.

Thumbprint Monkeys -
Give your children a piece of construction paper with the outline of a tree drawn on it (older children can draw their own tree). Set out ink pads and felt-tip makers. Let your kids make thumb print monkeys all over their tree picture. To create monkeys, have them press a thumb on an ink pad and make two thumb prints, one above the other on the paper. Then complete the monkeys by adding faces, arms, legs and tails with the markers.

Wow, I made it through my first A to Z Challenge. I hope you have enjoyed these early childhood activities and I would love to share more. I also appreciate all my new blogging friends who joined this site. Please pass this site address to any teacher friends or parents of young children. I usually post weekly (sometimes more often). I'm also looking for guest bloggers who would like to post anything related to children, early childhood schooling, and a child's well-being (you can also link back to your website). If you would like to select a week to post, please contact me at:

All the best,

Photo courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Y is for Yellow Activities

Yellow is a color synonymous of the upcoming summer. It reminds many of the big, bright sun shining above, giving warmth and sending children outside to play. Yellow is the color of sunflowers so vivid and lemonade so yummy. Explore the color yellow as your group participates in these summer activities.
Mr. Sun
Cut sun shapes from yellow construction paper and hide them around a room or outdoors in the yard. Have the children go on a "sun search" to find as many sun shapes as they can. Continue to search until all the suns have been found.
After the search, set up a table with crayons, markers, sequins, faux jewels or anything that shines and dazzles. The children can decorate; gluing these materials to the sun shapes they found.
Make Sunflowers
Have each child paint a small paper plate yellow (mix a small amount of white school glue in the paint). Lay pieces of yellow tissue paper in the wet paint (to give it a petal appearance). When this process is dried, give the children sunflower seeds to glue in the center of the plate. Staple two giant green construction paper leaves at the bottom. These flowers make great summer decorations for your room or to take home!
Play Games with Children that Involve Colors
Use a yellow beach ball or other large ball. Players form a line, all facing the leader. The leader calls the name of a player and tosses, rolls, or bounces the ball to the named person. The player catches the ball and returns it to the leader in the same manner.
Teaching colors does not have to be about worksheets and printed pages. Since play is a child's learning tool, use fun activities and projects to embed these skills into a child's mind for life.
Wow, just one more letter. See you tomorrow with the letter Z.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

W is for Weekday Lunches

The challenge, as parents, is to create lunches that are reasonably healthful and palatable to kids, that can be carried off to school or play dates and left at room temperature for hours. The place to begin is at the grocery store where children can get involved with food selection. At home, try brainstorming a list of lunches that you both agree on. And don't forget to include a few fun items that your kids can help to prepare. 

Sandwich Shapes
Cookie cutters can be used to turn a peanut butter, cheese, tuna fish, or cold-cut sandwich into something special. Since some children shun bread crusts, shaped sandwiches are an alternative to cutting off the crusts. Most children are glad to chow down on their favorite shapes, no matter what's inside.
Homemade Lunchables
Buy a plastic sectional container. Cut lunch meats and cheese into fun shapes, such as triangles or sticks. Or use small cookie cutters for stars, hearts or teddy bears. Add some wholesome crackers, fruit or yogurt. Top it off with a fun dessert. The container can be brought home and reused. This is an inexpensive and healthy alternative to prepackaged lunches, and a way to add some fun to the lunch box.

Stuff an Apple
Pick an apple or your choice and remove the core (with a little extra space) with a knife and spoon. Fill this hole with peanut butter and top with raisins. Another favorite is cheddar cheese spread topped with chopped nuts. Put this apple into a plastic bag sealed with a twist tie. Remember making apple smiles. Just follow the photo above.
Fruit Kabobs
What child wouldn't like fruit-on-a-stick? For safety reasons, skew pre-cubed fruit on a plastic drinking straw, such as those used for coffee stirrers. To keep the fruit from turning brown, dip it into lemon juice. Pack these into a plastic container to avoid crushing the fruit. Another kebab idea is to layer cubes of cooked chicken breast or turkey, ham, cheese and little grape tomatoes.

This is all for today. See you next week with the letter X. Hmmm, this may be tough.

Photo courtesy of Tania Cowling

Friday, April 25, 2014

V is for Valentine Any Day

Playing with hearts is synonymous with Valentine's Day, but truthfully using hearts in a lesson or creative play could be any day. Here are a few "valentine" related activities that can be used any time of the year.


Teach your child about spatial directions as they participate in this fun activity.  Set a decorated valentine box on the table.  Invite your child to move a valentine card in relationship to the box according to directions you give.  Examples are "move the card" under, behind, in front of, to the left side, to the right side of the box. Continue to play as long as your child desires.


Dramatize the following verse together:

Let's be friends on this Valentine's Day.
We'll show love in so many ways.
I'll blow you a kiss.  Catch it in your hand.
Throw it back.  Watch it land.
Now, be my partner and let's dance to the music.
It's so nice to have a friend like you,
Not just for today, but the whole year through!


Place several shoe boxes on a table.  Fill them with construction paper hearts that you cut in different sizes and colors.  Have your child sort the hearts according to size, color or both. This game helps your little one learn pre-math skills.

You will need 20 index cards
Colored hearts--two of each color

Glue a different colored heart on 10 index cards and then make a matching set. This game is played like the traditional "concentration" game. Place all the cards heart side down.  The children take turns turning over two cards to find matches.  If they don't get a match, they return the cards, and the next player goes.

We're coming along with the A to Z Challenge. Let's see what W will bring tomorrow,

Photo courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Thursday, April 24, 2014

U is for Unique

Families today take many different forms:  two parents, one parent, blended and extended.  But all families play an important role in a child's life. Children have so much to share. "Together Time" activities and sincere attention will let them know you value their thoughts and ideas. We are all UNIQUE~~
We Are All Unique
Explain how everyone has fingerprints unlike anyone else.  Have all the family members make a thumbprint collage.  Press your thumb on an ink stamp pad.  Press the thumbs down on white paper and label with everyone's name.  Look through a magnifying glass and compare prints.
Bag of Disguises Game
No matter what you put on your body---you are still "you".  It's fun to experiment with disguises.  Provide a bag or box of disguise props and a mirror---what fun!!!  Suggestions for your box are wigs, make-up, hats, helmets, uniforms, clothing, ties, jewelry, scarves, glasses and so on.  Bring out the camera, as this is a great time for humorous picture taking.

Oh! Baby
Start with reading library books about animals and their babies. Discuss the similarities and differences between parents and their young. Then enjoy going through old family photo albums. Notice the changes of your children as they have grown through the years. Last, compare pictures of yourself and your parents to your children today. Are there many physical traits across the generations?

See you later for the letter V,

Photo of my child's hand plaque - we are all unique by Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S is for Spring Songs

“Music is a great way to engage young children because it is a natural and enjoyable part of their everyday lives. Children hear music or sing while watching television, riding in the car, at school, and as part of bedtime rituals. We often hear children creating their own songs and incorporating music in their play. Music is a socially engaging way to learn, and especially appropriate for the developmental levels of young children”.**
Here are several songs chosen to sing with your group during this spring season:

Signs of Spring Song (Tune: “The Twelve Days of Christmas”)
On the first day of springtime, my good friend gave to me, a bluebird in a big tree.
On the second day of springtime, my good friend gave to me, two green frogs and a bluebird in a big tree.
On the third day of springtime, my good friend gave to me, three yellow buds, two green frogs, and a bluebird in a big tree.
On the fourth day of springtime, my good friend gave to me, four raindrops, three yellow buds, two green frogs and a bluebird in a big tree.
Be creative and finish the songs with ideas from the children.

Baby Animal Lullaby (Tune: “Frere Jacques/ Are You Sleeping”)
Mother cat, mother cat,
Sings to her kitten, sings to her kitten,
Meow, meow, meow
Meow, meow, meow
Sleep baby kitten, sleep baby kitten.
Continue with other verses about animals and their babies.

The Sun Song (Tune: “I’m a Little Teapot”)
When the sun comes up, we start our day,
Dress and eat our breakfast, go outside and play,
When the day is over, the sun goes down,
Moon and stars light up the town

**Excerpted from "Music as a Teaching Tool: Creating Story Songs" by Shelly Ringgenberg - an article in the NAEYC journal, Young Children.
Authors to songs unknown
Sing a spring tune today and come back tomorrow for the letter T,

Monday, April 21, 2014

R is for Respect

Take a moment to read this poem, written by an unknown author, and decide what environment you think would be beneficial to your children and/or ones you may teach at school. Then promote that environment in your everyday actions.
Teaching “respect” (showing consideration, understanding and regard for people, places and things) is a fundamental part of life. Each time you have the children say those magic words “please” and “thank you” you are teaching the most basic form of respect. In addition, teach children that even an inanimate object is worthy of respect. For example, teaching children at a young age not to tear a book, scribble in a book, or even stand on books can enhance their entire outlook on the fundamentals of reading. Books become respected and take an important place in a child’s life.  This in turn can enhance their quest for knowledge.
If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy.
If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement, he learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise, he learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice.
If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith.
If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship, he learns to find love in the world!

See you tomorrow with the letter S,

Photo courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Q is for Queens and Royalty

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!  Capture the enchantment of castles, knights and royalty with these medieval inspired projects. Children love to pretend they are kings and queens for the day!


Let the children’s sense of fantasy carry them back to Medieval Times as they make and decorate regal crowns and maiden’s hats.  For the girls, form a large sheet of heavy-duty construction paper (15” x 24”) into a cone and staple the edges.  Add a piece of sheet fabric or scarf to the top point and let this drape down.  For the boys, using poster board cut a large strip to fit around the child’s head.  Make it wide enough to cut out crown points.  Each child can decorate their royalty hat with paints, sequins, faux jewels, feathers and so on.


Back in Medieval Times, a coat of arms told all you met who your family was and if you were friend or foe.  Your little knights can carry a coat of arms, and even the maidens can carry one for recognition.  For this project, cut out a simple shield-like shape from cardboard.  Make a handle using a 1” by  4” strip of cardboard and glue or staple this to the back of the shield, allowing room to slip in the child’s hand.  On the front, divide the shield into sections using a black marker.  Place the child’s family name at the top.  In the section(s) invite children to clip magazine pictures of fun things related to families.  Another idea is to have your group create their own drawings using art materials (crayons, markers, colored pencils).  Glue these onto the coat of arms board.

See you next week beginning with the letter R,

Photo taken at Disney by Tania Cowling

Friday, April 18, 2014

P is for Popsicle Sticks

Popsicle sticks (aka craft sticks) can be used for crafts and games. Here are a few ideas I would like to share.

Did you know?

Eating a frozen Popsicle is still part of growing up in America just as it was in the past.  Frank Epperson, from California, invented and patented the “Epsicle” which later became the “Popsicle.”  In 1905, when Epperson was just 11 years old, he mixed some soda water powder to drink.  He accidentally left it overnight on the back porch with the stirring stick inside.  That night the temperature dropped to a record low causing this mixture to freeze.  Voila! The first “Epsicle!”  Today, the Popsicle is manufactured by the Good Humor-Breyers Ice Cream Company.  Popsicles come in a variety of fun shapes and flavors, now even offering natural juices and no-sugar-added Pops.  Not only have Popsicles been treats for our children, the famous wooden sticks are great resources for arts, crafts, games, and learning.

CRAFT STICKS AND CRAYONS (crayons & Popsicle sticks)—
Place Popsicle sticks, crayons and white paper on the table.  Invite the children to make designs on the paper by tracing around the sticks with their colorful crayons.  Teach your kids the art of overlapping.

POPSICLE FRAMES (Popsicle Sticks)—
Glue Popsicle sticks into shapes, such as squares and triangles.  You can even create a star by laying one triangle on top of another.  Glue the sticks together.  Trim a photograph to fit the inside of your frame and glue this to the back of the frame.  As a variation, you could glue a plain piece of heavy paper in place to be colored, painted, or decorated inside the frame.  This is an easy project to hang; just attach a loop of yarn or ribbon to the top.

PICK-UP STICKS (Popsicle Sticks)—
Use Popsicle sticks to play a game of pick-up sticks.  This is played just like pick-up sticks except that when your turn is finished you have to add your sticks to that of the person before you.  Let’s say Mom was able to pick up five sticks before she moved any of the others.  Then Bobby picked up three without moving the rest of the sticks.  Bobby would note that since Mom picked up five and he picked up three, then there are eight sticks picked up so far.  Therefore, five plus three equals eight.  If he gets it right, he gets Mom’s sticks.  If he gets it wrong, Mom gets her sticks. This makes the game an incentive to learn math facts.

Summer is the time for eating Popsicles - so save all those sticks for further fun!

See your tomorrow with the letter Q, 

Photo courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Oh, the Music You Can Make With Homemade Instruments

I've been thinking about the letter O and it has been a tough one for me. But, I didn't want to skip a day and wanted to share yet another couple homemade musical instruments with you from my book.

Music is a positive way to promote social interactions among children, involving them in rhythm activities and games. Gross and fine motor skills are exercised as children play rhythm instruments and dance. And if they make their own instruments they will have fun along the way.

My "Green" Tambourine
Punch three to five evenly spaced holes around the outside rim of a heavy-duty paper plate (it's best to use paper instead of plastic for this project). Invite the children to decorate their plate with paint, markers, or crayons. Glitter, sequins or stickers may be added as well. An adult can help the child to tie on several jingle bells in the holes. Elastic thread works well. Children can hold the plate in their hands and shake it. They may also tap the tambourines against their bodies.

Click Those Castanets
If you can find some metal bottle caps you will be all set to make this project. Have an adult punch a hole in the middle of each bottle cap using a hammer and a nail. Be sure to flatten out any sharp edges. Take a one-inch by six-inch strip of heavy cardboard and invite children to use paint or markers to decorate the strip. Then, have the adult punch a hole an inch from each end of the cardboard strip using the hammer and nail.

Place a bottle cap face down over one of the holes in the cardboard strip, lining up the hole in the strip with the hole in the cap. Thread string through the holes and knot them. Repeat this process on the other side. Help the children fold the cardboard strip in half with the bottle caps on the inside. The children can hold the folded end of the cardboard strip in one hand and click the bottle caps together by squeezing the cardboard.

Store-bought instruments may be okay, however, the making of musical instruments offers children fun, great hands-on experience, and the pride of ownership of a project made alone. 

*Instrument ideas have been taken from Shake, Tap and Play a Merry Tune by Tania K. Cowling

Photo by Tania Cowling, all rights reserved


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for Nature Walks

Take children on nature walks to look for bugs. Tell them to observe only and not touch (a child might touch an insect that could sting). Together talk about how some bugs crawl and other fly. Ask the children to pretend to be an insect and move like the bugs they see. Sing songs like “Eensy Weensy Spider” or “Bringing Home A Baby Bumblebee"

At home, plan a "bug hunting exploration" by hiding several plastic toy bugs around the house and invite the children to find them. Another variation is to fill a dishpan with clean sand, hiding the toy bugs inside. Children can catch the toy bugs by using a tweezer or tongs to pull the insects out.

Make a Bug Hotel

In order to observe insects closely, try capturing a few placing them in a well-confined temporary home. With a little “bug hotel”, children can invite friendly insects inside to spend a day or night studying them through its many windows. Youngsters can use poster paint to decorate the outside of an oatmeal container. Paint or draw the windows, then use scissors or a craft knife (adults only) to cut them open.

Placing insect stickers on the container would be fun too. Take a piece of window screening and roll it so it rests snugly around the inside of the container. Trim so the top edge fits beneath the lid, and leave a one-inch overlap where the sides meet. Place the lid on top. Glue a hotel sign on the container – let the kids choose the name.

After the insects have been captured, take time together to look at the bugs closely either with the naked eye or use a magnifying glass. Count the legs, wings, antennae and look at the colors and patterns of the insect. Be kind to the guests – provide some nature food and water (a filled plastic water cap) while they are visiting. When observation is over, just unfasten the lid and let the insects fly out.

Photos courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Moving right along to the letter O,

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for Mosaic

Think before dumping household junk into the garbage can, as children may want to use it for art projects. Yes, junk! Believe it or not, many items that are otherwise known as trash can be used to create an array of arts and crafts projects – and if this trash is gathered neatly in a decorated "junk box", they'll be more accessible to young crafters.

Smaller pieces of junk can be used to create a colorful mosaic – a picture made of tiny items. Glue materials such as bottle caps, broken toy parts, or torn notebook covers, into a pattern on a piece of cardboard or sturdy paper. Dried foods, such as rice, seeds, beans, dried pasta, and even egg shells also make mosaics appealing.
Rather than a pattern, children may choose to make a representational mosaic of a dog or a house. Have them first draw the figure on the cardboard, then they can glue on the small junk pieces to fill inside the shape.

Photo courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

See you tomorrow with the letter N,

Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for Homemade Lunch Bag

Do you want a fun craft that has a purpose? Think about taking a pair of old jeans and repurposing them into a nifty lunch bag. This activity requires sewing so it’s the perfect opportunity for older children to learn how to use a sewing machine. For preschoolers, this craft is partially for adult construction, but the kiddos can do some decorating.
What You Need:
Old pair of jeans
Ribbon or cording
Sewing machine
Decorative appliqué and/or buttons
Fabric markers and or puffy paints
What to Do:
  1. Cut a 12-16-inch section from the leg of a pair of jeans.
  2. Turn the piece inside out and sew the bottom pieces together with a sewing machine creating a 1/2-inch seam.
  3. Fold over a 1/2-inch strip around the top of the bag and sew it down to make a casing. Leave about two-inches open to pass the ribbon.
  4. Through the opening in the casing, pass the ribbon. The two ends can be tied into a knot.
  5. Turn the bag to the right side. Finish sewing the casing that was left open.
  6. Time to decorate. Your child can use a variety of materials to decorate the denim lunch sack. Iron on appliqué patches, sew on decorative buttons, or draw with fabric pens and puffy paints. The ideas are endless!
  7. Make sure to personalize this lunch bag with your child's name.
This denim lunch bag is eco-friendly as it can be tossed in the washing machine when dirty. How cool is that?

Photo courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Stop by tomorrow to see what I have for the letter M,

Saturday, April 12, 2014

K is for Kitchen Cord Organizer Gift Craft (toilet tube art)

Do you have the problem with appliance cords being too long and unruly on the kitchen counter?  With these cute organizers you can thread the excess cord inside for a tidy workspace. Decorate empty toilet paper tubes in a variety of ways; paint them or spread glue and cover with pieces of torn tissue paper.  When using the tissue paper, brush a thin layer of glue over the top so all the paper will stick—this is like a decoupage craft.  Stand the tube on end and let it dry thoroughly.  Your child can now add bright stickers.

When presenting this gift (maybe for Mother's Day coming soon), write this verse on paper and roll it up and insert into the cord organizer.

Here’s a cord organizer to use each day,
Slip a cord inside and neat it will stay! 

Photo courtesy of FreeImages


Have a great day and see you next Monday with the letter L.




Friday, April 11, 2014

J is for Jump for Health with a Jump Rope

The jump rope is one of the oldest childhood games in the world.  Yet in our high-tech world, this classic game has all but become a lost relic.  Let’s revive the jump rope tradition along with rhymes your kids are sure to enjoy (think of the wonderful exercise they will be accomplishing). Your kids can jump rope singly or with friends using a larger rope.

Here are several rhyming games that your children can recite as they jump rope:

MS./MR.______MOVES IN.
The jumper calls out the name of another player for the last line.   That person then begins jumping.

The next jumper must then repeat the rhyme using the letter “B” and fill in “B” words (then continue to “C” and so on).  Pity the jumper who gets to “X”! 

Enjoy your day. Tomorrow is the letter K.
See you then,

Photo courtesy of FreeImages

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I is for Interlocking Bag Books

You are your baby’s first teacher!  Dr. Jean Piaget, upon whose theories many of the foundations of Early Childhood education have been built, said “ that young children are explorers and it is the job of the adults around them to provide the experiences and materials to stimulate their development.”  Parents promote education from the beginning, using everyday life experiences to expand the child’s mind as well as the body.  Toys are stimuli in the world of learning.  When a young child plays—he learns.  Unfortunately in a world of inflation, it is difficult for us parents to provide every toy available on today’s market.

Think homemade! The use of bright colors, soft textures and tinkling sounds have made these play things appealing to the little ones.  For the parent, making these toys provide a sense of gratification and a gift of love, while keeping within your toy budget.

Interlocking Bag Books:
  1. Sew together (by hand or machine) several zipper top closing plastic bags along the bottom edge.
  2. Cut cardboard to fit inside each bag.
  3. Glue magazine pictures or real life photos on the cardboard.  Then slip each page into the plastic sleeve.
  4. Change these pictures often for variety.
  5. Easy to clean with a damp sponge.
  6. Sit with your baby and together turn the pages.  Talk to your baby as you look at the pictures.  It helps to develop important language skills.

Photo courtesy of Morguefile

Hope you enjoy this "I" craft for babies, please visit again to see what I have for the letter "J"