Thursday, August 25, 2016

Coming Soon: Holidays and Celebrations in September

If you're always looking for new ways to liven up the day or week, think about unofficial holidays and celebrations along with the major ones. Here you can engage your children in fun projects and creative learning activities, helping them learn about special days that tie ideas and concepts together. Who knew that almost every day of the year has some significant fact to it? Other than going back to school, September is not one of the most exciting months of the year, but I bet I can come up with some fun days for the kids to celebrate. Here are a few of my favorite days and activities to enhance them.

Labor Day falls on the first Monday in September. It originally was a time to honor those who work and to give them a day of rest. Yes, it still is, but also the last holiday of summer and many families plan picnics or other outdoor outings. This is also a great time to teach your children about the community helpers in your neighborhood that are important in many ways. At home, make a Labor Day collage together. Set out a variety of magazines. Let the children look through them and tear or cut pictures of people at work. Think about truck drivers, people who wash dishes, a singer on stage along with the occupations we normally think of such as doctors, police officers and school teachers. At the top of the paper, write "People Who Work" and let the kids glue on the pictures. Take time to discuss working and occupations during this official holiday.

National Grandparent's Day is celebrated on the first Sunday following Labor Day. This is a special day to express love and appreciation for grandparents by giving cards and presents (especially homemade ones) and holding family gatherings. Talk about the roles that grandparents play in your child's life and the special times they have spent together. Making decorated bookmarks is always a nice craft and gift the kids can make for this occasion. Bring out the art materials and invite the children to create one for each grandparent. Make sure to have them dip their thumbs into paint and print thumbprints on the front or back of the bookmark. Have the kids write "To Thumb-body Special" on this project.

Remember September 11, 2001, when the fatal terrorist attacks of the Twin Towers in New York City happened. Take time to reflect what happened and how this has made our nation stronger as we fight the war on terrorism. Do something patriotic on this day, like making American flags together. Younger children can make "stars and stripes" collages by cutting strips of red, white and blue construction paper and gluing them randomly onto a base paper. Provide sticker stars to adhere anywhere on the page. Hang these on the walls as decorations of our patriotic spirit as Americans.

How about a pickle celebration? Snack-a pickle time is the last ten days in September. So choose a day to pay tribute to the almighty pickle - the world's most humorous vegetable. This is a good time to recite the "Peter Piper" tongue twister rhyme and have fun seeing if your kids can repeat it after you. Younger kids may enjoy making green pickle puppets from construction paper glued onto craft sticks. Add whimsical facial features and name the puppets such as Polly Pickle, Pickle Man and so on. You can even make up stories about the adventures of the pickle people.

Let the last full week of September go to the dogs as you and the kids celebrate Dog Week. If you have a pet dog, pamper it! Let the kids make some homemade toys for your dog. Kids can even make paper dog tags for themselves. Let them choose a dog name and decorate a bone-shape tag from poster board. Punch holes and attach a yarn necklace for the kids to wear. Read dog books, sing some dog songs like "BINGO" and "How much is that doggie in the window?"

There are so many other fun and wacky days to celebrate this month, such as Teddy Bear Day, Chocolate Milk Shake Day, National Play Doh Day and many more. Find more fun celebrations here. 

Until we meet again -- Happy Parenting!
Tania :)

Photos courtesy of Bing Images and Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Color Yellow

Am I too late? Well, we still have those last few days of summer. There's time to enjoy some of the symbols of summer with these "yellow" activities.

Enjoy and Happy Parenting,
Tania :)

Yellow is a color synonymous of 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 children participate in these (late) 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.

Loads of Lemons

Cut lemons in half. Place a few folded paper towels in a shallow pan to make a pad. Pour yellow tempera paint on top. Add a few drops of lemon extract (found in the spice section of your local grocery store). Have the children dip the lemon into the paint and press down onto a sheet of paper to make prints. A dark sheet of construction paper would be a great contrast to the bright yellow prints. Smell the lemon scent!!

Make Lemonade-
Exercise the hands as you and your children squeeze lemons together. The reward is a thirst quenching drink that's sure to please any child on a hot summer day!

You'll need:
1 part fresh lemon juice
1 part sugar
5 parts water
Serving pitcher

What to do:
Show children how to squeeze lemons. Encourage them to try on their own.
Take a taste of this juice; is it sweet or sour?
Invite children to mix all the ingredients in a pitcher and stir well.
Pour the drink into cups of ice.

Questions to ask about this experience: "What color is lemonade? What fruit gives us the juice? How does lemonade taste? Sweet? Sour? Are there other fruits we could squeeze to get their juice?"

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!

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.

Photo courtesy of morgue file 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Summer Olympics: Are You Ready?

The Summer Olympics 2016 just began in Rio de Janeiro (Rio) last night. Did you watch the opening ceremony? Take time to view some of the events with your little athletes at home as this is history in the making. Below are a few activities to do with the children to enhance these global games.

Olympic Ring Art

The Olympic symbol of five rings is displayed everywhere. The ring colors of blue, black, red, yellow and green represent the colors of all the flags of the world. Show the kids a picture of this flag on the Internet or in books, and then proceed to this craft. Pour paints of the colors above in shallow containers. Give each child an empty cardboard toilet tube (you will need five) and invite them to dip the end into the paint and then print a circle shape onto a piece of white construction paper. Have your kids copy the Olympic flag with this technique overlapping the circles to make the rings. Younger children will just enjoy making the circle prints with these art tools.

To make the bow and arrow craft (that I made) check this site.

Let Your Home Games Begin

Young children have a hard time understanding the idea of teams, winners and losers. So, in your games, make sure that everyone is a winner. You can invite your children to try some of the following Olympic activities:

 • Discus throw: use paper plates and see how far the children can toss them.
 • Javelin: let the kids throw plastic straws and measure where they land.
 • Shot Put: throw ping-pong balls or paper balls.
 • Relay race: invite the kids to run a distance passing off a stick (it’s safer to use an empty paper towel tube). For younger children, there is no need to have teams.

 • Bicycle or tricycle races: create an obstacle course at your home where children can ride safely. Use plastic cones if available. If you have a stopwatch, the kids may want to know how many seconds it took them to finish the course.

Olympic Music

Enjoy singing this song with your kids to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat."

Run, run, run so fast
Fast as you can go.
I’m running in the Olympics now,
I’m going for the gold.

Jump, jump, jump so far
Mark where I land.
I’m jumping in the Olympics now,
I’m going for the gold. 
Change the verses to sing about other events in the Summer Olympics such as throwing, swimming and gymnastics. Conduct your closing ceremonies with lots of praise and award colorful homemade ribbons! Remember everyone is a winner in your own Olympics!

Enjoy the next two weeks of the Olympic games. Until my next blog post.

Happy Parenting,

Photos courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved
Article text by Tania Cowling may not be duplicated without permission of this author.
Ideas in this article have been published in parenting magazines during previous summer Olympics.