Saturday, January 9, 2021

It's All About Family: Activities for Kids



Whether you are a parent who is homeschooling or a teacher needing a lesson plan for the classroom --- family is a good theme. Celebrate this very special relationship by using a variety of activities that focus on the family. Take this theme into reading, writing, speaking, music, and art.
My Family Quilt

There is nothing cozier than a quilt. They feel like home. Begin this lesson by reading The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Flournoy and discuss the importance of family and what family means to each child. Talk about the making of quilts and how you can incorporate family heirlooms and memories inside this stitched piece of art.

Why not try an art project involving quilts? Cut out squares of pastel-colored paper. Invite the kids to draw and color a quilt block for each member of the family including pets. Draw the person and surround the headshot with things they love. Now, if you have an odd number of family members, just have the child create an extra quilt block (or two) with some of his/her favorite things. When all blocks are done, glue them together onto a sheet of poster board. Next, take a black marker and create stitch marks around each quilt block to replicate the real stitching on a quilt – a work of art that has spanned generations.

Family Fun and Laughs
For this themed activity, read the book The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant. It’s a fun pairing of words and pictures that capture the energy and love that flows from a family reunion. After reading the story together, take time to share memories of family experiences.

For a project, have the kids think of a specific family gathering.  At the top of the page of paper, write the event in a large circle. Next, branch down to the next level and add all the family members who attended. The third row holds circles for things that happened during the event.  The last row of circles includes thoughts of how the children felt during this family gathering.  This “graphic organizer” project helps kids to express how they feel about their family, the events, and even tips for future family gatherings. This organizer design is almost like an outline for when students are asked to write a story.
CONTINUE READING... (a Bright Hub Education article by Tania Cowling)


Books available on Amazon -- Click to Purchase

The Relatives Came
The Patchwork Quilt

Family is always a good theme to engage children in discussion and activities. Children learn through books and art -- get them involved today. 

Happy Parenting,
Tania  :)

This post may contain affiliate links. The money we make from linking helps to keep this website up and running. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

C is for Celebration Logs


When I think of the letter C, I think of celebrations. It could be a December holiday, patriotic event, or just a simple family celebration that you want to emphasize. Your children will love making these yummy logs in the colors that represent your theme. They're simple to make, great for a treat, or even a take-home favor. Here's how to make them.

Celebration Logs (edible treat)

Celebrate your event with pretzel logs adorned with sprinkles in colors of the season, holiday or your child's choice.

You will need:
·      Pretzel logs
·      Chips (either chocolate or white chocolate)
·      Colored baking sprinkles
·      Waxed paper

Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in the microwave inside a glass bowl.  Dunk the pretzels halfway into the chocolate;  then roll them in a dish of sprinkles.  Dry the decorated logs on waxed paper.

Display them in a large glass to set on the table or enclose them into cellophane bags to be given as favors. Enjoy!

Taking kids in the kitchen is a great bonding experience between parent and child. Enjoy your holiday time together.

Happy Parenting,
Tania :) 

This activity was used in one of my A to Z Challenge years. Photo by Tania Cowling, all rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Calling All Parents: Do You Shop Online?


I'm sharing an article that is very important to me as I was hacked and a victim of identity theft and fraud. Check out the "9 things you should know to avoid online fraud while shopping." Prevention is key to keeping your identity and credit safe.

Happy Parenting,
Tania


9 Tips from NordVPNs’ Security Expert on How to Stay Safe


 As holiday shopping begins, be wary of online shopping and stay safe with these tips.
“More and more parents and teachers are shopping online. It’s understandable, as online shopping is less stressful and likely cheaper. These days it is absolutely possible to get all you need for school without ever leaving your home,” says Daniel Markuson, NordVPN Digital Privacy Expert. “But there’s bad news as well - online shopping frauds and identity theft are on the rise.”
While scammers, hackers, and other shady individuals are polishing new techniques, many online shoppers are still unaware of the basic online privacy rules. According to NordVPN’s Daniel Markuson, there are some simple steps that help avoid online fraud.
9 things you should know to avoid online fraud while shopping
1. Look into the online store
You should ideally stick to websites you trust or have bought from before, as there are some online stores created by scammers who just want to get your credit card information. Otherwise, do the research: Do they interact on social media? Are there any customer reviews? Are there any spam complaints? Check their email, phone number or address - if you can’t find any of those, it might be a fake company.
2. Too good to be true? Scam!
Criminals use two main techniques to scam you during the back to school sales season: rock-bottom prices and email scams. If the deal seems too good to be true - it probably is. Extremely low rates, when compared to similar stores, may mean that the website exists only to get your personal information. Similarly, scammy email deals promise a too-good-to-be-true prices or freebies, but clicking on them could infect your computer or smartphone with viruses and malware.
3. URL should start with ‘https’
When making an online payment or entering any personal information, the first thing you should check is whether the webpage URL starts with ‘httpsrather than ‘http’. The tiny ‘s’ means that the connection is made through a secure protocol and your data is encrypted properly.
4. Don’t give too much personal data
Pay attention whenever a website requests for more information or permissions than is necessary. If you are asked to provide very personal details that seem unrelated or excessive, it usually signals a scam. You should always think twice before providing your personal or financial information anywhere on the Internet.
5. Stay away from public WiFi
It’s never a good idea to shop online while you are connected to a public WiFi network at a cafe, hotel, city park or any other public place. Public WiFi networks are common hunting grounds for hackers and data snoopers, who try to access your personal and financial information, such as credit card details.
6. Use a VPN to encrypt your traffic
Can’t resist doing your shopping while on public WiFi? Then you need a VPN (Virtual Private Network). VPN encrypts your Internet traffic and is the best security mechanism you can employ to make sure your browsing data remains safe from spying eyes. From the moment a user turns on a VPN, like NordVPN, their Internet data is encrypted. It becomes invisible to third-party snoopers or hackers and even NordVPN itself.
7. Always use strong passwords
The most popular password is… ‘password.’ People are so overwhelmed with how many accounts and passwords they need that they go the easy way. Don’t do that. You need to change your passwords regularly and use a combination of capital letters, numerals, letters, and punctuation. For example, if you live on Flower Road, you can use ‘fL0w3rR04d!’ for a password. Additionally, share some tips with your family members on how to create strong passwords.
8. Mind the details
Stay organized: keep all the receipts, order confirmation numbers and other documentation you got after an online purchase. Also, don’t forget to check your credit card statements regularly, at least once a week. If you see some unexpected activities - recall whether you really authorized the charge. Your bank or other credit card provider can help you solve the problem.
9. Catch the bad guys!
And finally, if you fell into the trap laid for you by some shady cyber criminal - be a good citizen and report the incident. It might not help you, but it will make the Internet a safer place for us all. First of all, notify your credit card company or bank and then - file a complaint to the state authorities."
Article Courtesy of NordVPN:
NordVPN is the world’s most advanced VPN service provider that is more security oriented than most VPN services. It offers double VPN encryption, ad blocking & Onion Over VPN. The product is very user friendly, offers one of the best prices on the market, has over 4,500 servers worldwide and is P2P friendly. One of the key features of NordVPN is zero log policy. For more information: www.nordvpn.com.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Putting Fun into a Healthy Breakfast




Whether it's school, distance learning, or a day adventure, getting up in the morning is a scene every parent dreads. The alarm goes off; the kids pull up their covers and refuse to get up. As the kids finally rise and decide what to wear, it's time to head to the breakfast table. Whether breakfast is eaten at home or in the car, it is important for your child's performance. Breakfast jump-starts the brain and keeps adults and children alert throughout the morning. After eight to ten hours without food, the body is essentially a cold furnace waiting to be fueled. A good breakfast should include.

-A serving of protein-rich food, such as low-fat milk or yogurt, cheese, or peanut butter.
-A food rich in complex carbohydrates, such as whole-grain cereal, bread, or muffins.
-A food rich in vitamin C such as an orange, grapefruit, or strawberries.
-A small amount of fat.

Special containers make mealtime a special treat for the young child. Use clean egg cartons and fill each section with a finger food. Or fill an ice cream cone with snacks other than ice cream. Try foods such as cubed cheese, peeled apple slices, or cereal. Your youngster may find this on-the-go breakfast fun while carpooling your older children. The almighty juice boxes and bags can help to wean your toddler from his bottle. Start by filling his bottle only with water and later, let him drink juice with a straw from the box or bag. This is a pleasant diversion for your child and a convenience for you because these containers can be carried easily in the stroller or car.

Instead of serving your child plain hot cereal, set out a few small bowls of toppings from which she can choose. For instance, try yogurt, applesauce, apple butter, fruit spreads, chopped nuts, dates, raisins, fresh fruit, or granola. Your child many want to add just one topping or she might choose to mix several of them on top of her cereal to experience some new and different tastes. Some of these toppings can also be used to add creative interest to cold cereals with nutrition along the way.

Keeping in mind that creativity often means doing something in a new way, you can give your child's breakfast toast a "new look" by using a cookie cutter to make them heart shaped. This also boosts self-esteem by sending her a "you are special" message. Another way to do some creative personalizing is to form your child's initials with batter when you are cooking pancakes. Or use ketchup to squeeze an "I love you", a heart shape or her initials onto cooked hash browns. Having fun in the kitchen now should bring a love of cooking later.

Hope these tips are helpful.
Happy Parenting,
Tania
Photos courtesy of pixabay.com -- CC0 Creative Commons


Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Gift Guide: Toys That Entertain and Educate



How do you find toys that children will play with long after the wrappings have been recycled? Think about what kind of play your children are involved and the toys that match. Do they need an active toy, something that can be played alone, or a game that requires a group? Here are a few favorites from Playmates and VTech toys.
Kuroba Training Pack by Playmates Toys

The Kuroba toy line is an all-new collectible line of cube-shaped creatures that puts a twist on the classic game of “rock-paper-scissors.” Each player selects rock, paper, or scissors, then folds up a Kuroba creature and locks it into game mode. They then slide two Kuroba toward each other, and the winning Kuroba literally captures the other!
Collect all 16 Kuroba, mix and match their panels to create unique Kuroba, and battle against friends to become a master Kuroba Keeper!
Read about Playmates Toys new Kuroba on their website. Watch Kuroba webisodes and other fun videos on the Kuroba World YouTube Channel or visit KurobaWorld.com. 
Photographed is the training pack with 1 transforming creature, 1 practice cube and 1 creature gem. The kids can practice their Kuroba battle skills and later increase their creatures for a world of fun.
This starter pack is recommended for kids ages 6 and up. It’s currently available at Target, Amazon, and Walmart with a MSRP of $8.99 each.
New Products by VTech Toys – check this website for all products!
Kidi Star Music Magic Microphone™
Set out on the path to stardom with the Kidi Star Music Magic Microphone™. Be the lead singer with this interactive microphone that features Music Magic mode, which reduces the main vocal track of your favorite songs so your own voice is center stage! Easily connect your MP3 player or mobile device and sing along to favorite tunes from your collection. The microphone is packed with exciting features like four games, four original songs, a voice changer with four effects and an applause button. Record yourself for up to two minutes and enjoy your performance again and again! Age 5 Years+, $29.99
Kidi Star also has a Karaoke Machine, which also includes a disco light and audience sounds like applause, cheering and laughter. Your child will feel like he/she is on a concert stage. This toy records the performance up to five minutes. It is recommended for ages 5 years and up, retailing at $49.99.
MickeyMouse has turned 90 years old, and in his honor, the VTech toy company has produced a variety of playthings.
Go! Go! Smart Wheels® Mickey Ramps Fun House

Ramp up the fun with Go! Go! Smart Wheels® Mickey Ramps Fun House. Take Mickey Mouse on an adventure with tracks that can mix and match to form three different play routes, two launch zones and includes two SmartPoint® locations. Watch Mickey Mouse and his Convertible ride around the track and off the ramp to see how far he can go! Spin the flower or the flag to promote motor skills or activate the SmartPoint® locations to listen to Mickey Mouse say fun phrases and encouraging words. Let’s jump to it! Ages 1-5 Years, $19.99.
And we can’t forget about Mickey’s girlfriend Minnie!
Go! Go! Smart Wheels® Minnie Ice Cream Parlor
Little sweeties will have a delightful time creating, exploring and playing with the Go! Go! Smart Wheels® Minnie Ice Cream Parlor. Take a ride with Minnie Mouse and her Ice Cream Truck down the tracks and through the gate, activating three SmartPoint® locations as you go. Drop ice cream shapes into the shape sorter and into Minnie Mouse’s Ice Cream Truck, raise the elevator, spin the gears and move the gate to promote motor skills. Listen to Minnie Mouse’s voice say fun phrases and encourage pretend play.  So brush off that sweet tooth and bite into this adventure! Perfect for ages 1-5 years, $29.99.
For more Disney adventure toys check out this website

Play is the very foundation of a child’s emotional, social, physical, cognitive and linguistic growth. Children learn through play – plain and simple. Including some of these toys will quench the toy wish and promote learning as well not only during the holidays but all year long.

Photos by Tania Cowling, all rights reserved
Package photo courtesy of pixabay.com

I would like to thank these companies for providing me samples of their products for my review. There was no payment for my blog post.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Make Extra Income Cleaning Your Closets



It doesn't matter the season, it's closet cleaning time any time of the year! But, with the stay-at-home days of COVID-19, I found it was the right time to start sorting the family's closets.

I decided it was time to clean my closets -- maybe the Marie Kondo way. If I don't love something, why am I keeping it? If I haven't worn something in over a year, do I really love it? Well, it's time to trash, donate, AND maybe sell it!!!!

Many towns have really good consignment shops, but for me, I wanted something easy and online. Well, I found Poshmark. It is so easy -- you upload pictures of your item, set a price and wait for a buyer. When your item sells, Poshmark sends you the mailing label. You just attach it to the package and mail. Now, how easy is this? And, the USPS will even send you free priority mail boxes just for asking. Check it out HERE.

Oh, did I tell you -- Poshmark accepts women's, men's, and even children's clothing. Yes, it's time to clean out your kiddo's closet.


Go to Poshmark's website and set up your account. It's free!  In the FAQ they will explain the procedure and how much they take from your sale to cover shipping label help and other efforts to help you. It isn't very much. When I sold a $12 item, they took like $3-$4 from my earnings. I feel like these are clothes I cannot use or do not like. If I make a few dollars -- this is a good thing!

And, if you join please use my referral -- you don't have to, but I would appreciate the love!  @TKC6



Happy Parenting,
Tania  :)

I am not affiliated with the Poshmark company in any way. I'm just a client and voicing my opinion.

Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

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



Thursday, March 19, 2020

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 

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Puppet Play: Fun with Recycled Items and a Few Baubles









Get out the recycle box and begin to craft puppets with your child. Paper bag puppets can be made and enjoyed by kids—from preschool and up. You decide how much time and artistic effort you want to put into your sack puppet project. They can be quickie puppet play stand-ins or works of art. You can draw facial features with crayons and markers and decorate them with a few “found” objects like fabric scraps, buttons, faux jewels, pipe cleaners, yarn, any variety of miscellany you can gather.  Place your hand inside to manipulate your newly created character.

Think about using old nylon stockings to make adorable puppets young children love. Stretch a leg from panty hose over a bent wire hanger. You can bend the hanger into a diamond or even a circle shape and tape the hook for safety. Knot the stocking leg at the bottom. This is a great puppet for the little ones as they can see through the nylon like a mask and pretend they are the puppet—good vision and a no fear factor. You can go to town decorating this puppet mask with all kinds of materials glued on. Puff and glitter markers work well on the nylon. You can make almost any character you want.

Turn your family snapshots into lifelike puppets. Invite your child to choose several family photographs (use the photo or make a color copy). Cut out the face or figure. Tape this photo figure to a craftstick.  Encourage your youngster to create a scene with a few toys and have these family puppets interact. Use a puppet yourself to ask your child’s puppet questions and to suggest different themes, such as going shopping or taking a family trip. While you are having fun together, this activity helps your child develop language and social skills.

Stick puppets are exactly as their name implies—puppets build and manipulated on a stick. These are among some of the quickest to make. For sticks, use dowels, yardsticks, tongue depressors, wooden spoons, and Popsicle sticks. The very simplest stick puppet is a head shape cut from construction paper and features added with paint or markers. Tape a stick to the back and your puppet is complete.  Make several with “faces of emotion” and your child can talk about his feelings through puppet play.  To act out stories, draw the characters, find ones in coloring books, or cut them from an old storybook.  Attach these to sticks and you now have all the characters to act out your favorite tale.

Photo by Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links or advertisements. I earn a small commission if you shop through them, which helps fund this website so I can continue to bring you informative and interesting content. 


Sunday, December 1, 2019

December Holiday Garland Craft



Children love the holidays and these crafts are adaptable to suit three different holidays. Surprise your group with a fun holiday craft this month. These crafts can be multicultural by just changing the colors. Be it red & green for Christmas, blue & white for Hanukkah, or red, green & black for Kwanzaa—adapt these crafts for your holiday!

Multicultural Children Garlands:

These garlands can be strung along a wall or across a doorway.  Use brown grocery bags that you have stored from shopping.  Dress the children cutouts in the colors of your holiday.

These are simple paper-doll instructions. Start by cutting a 5-by-4-inch strip from a grocery bag.  Next, fold the strip of paper, accordion-style, about four times.  On the top layer, draw a child shape. You can draw this freehand or trace around a child or gingerbread cookie cutter. The hands and feet you draw must extend out to the folded edges.  Cut through all layers of the paper, making sure not to cut where the arms touch the fold. Young children may need help with this task. The decorating is the fun.  Cut clothing from gift-wrap or construction paper.  Draw in shoes, hair, faces, and any extras with markers, puffy paints, or gel pens.  For texture you can glue on pom-poms, buttons, or pieces of fur.  Let your child’s imagination run wild.

Holiday Wreath:

Use your child's hands to make this holiday wreath. From a piece of cardboard, cut a 12-inch circle (a pizza box lid or carton works well).  Again cut another 3-inch circle in the center to complete the wreath. A craft knife is useful to make the cuts but only by an adult. Invite your child to paint the entire cardboard wreath with poster paint in the color of your holiday. After the paint dries, have the child make handprints on the wreath. Brush the child’s hand with a different color paint and press the hand down on the board. Continue to print handprints around the wreath in a circular fashion.

For another option, trace hands on complementary-colored stiff construction paper, cut out, decorate the hands if you wish, and glue them around the circle.

Make a bow from fabric, crepe paper, large ribbons or construction paper to decorate the bottom.  Make sure to write the date on the back of this memorable project.

Have fun with these two crafts.
Happy Parenting,
Tania  :)

Photo courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Note: if anyone wants to use any part of this post or any other one, please notify me for permission and make sure you provide a link back to this site.