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