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.

Friday, November 15, 2019

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,

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:

Friday, November 1, 2019

Fall is Baking Time: What Child Doesn't Love Homemade Cookies?

What combines art, math, reading, creative thinking, science, sensory experiences, and social skills, and results in delightful treats for the family and friends? Cooking! Let your youngsters engage in this activity with you – a lot of learning goes on in your own cozy kitchen.

These cookies are not crispy or chewy, but cake-like with healthy ingredients such as orange juice, dried cranberries and nuts (your choice or omit if you wish). They make a great dessert, snack with milk, and adults love them with their coffee or tea too.

Ingredients you will need:

½ lb. butter
1 ½ cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ½ cups chopped nuts
1 ½ cups dried cranberries
1 cup orange juice
3 ½ cups cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda

What to do:

  1. Beat the sugar and butter with an electric mixer until well blended.
  2. Add the egg and beat again.
  3. Mix in the orange juice and vanilla.
  4. Add the flour a little at a time until the entire amount is mixed.
  5. Fold in the cranberries and nuts.
  6. Drop by tablespoons onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  7. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in a 450-degree oven.

Note: all ovens vary so check the cookies for doneness in the shortest time so they do not burn.
Make cooking and baking a family activity. Children learn so much by doing and the bonding is memorable!

**All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without prior permissions from the author. Partial reposting is permitted with a link back to the original article.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Halloween Projects to Craft With Your Kids

Let's get crafting for the upcoming Halloween holiday. Here are some published clips I wrote a while back for your viewing. Crafts and instructions are included per article.
  • Decorate your room or use these ideas for make and take projects. The materials are probably in your art closet or easy to find. So let’s get started on these “boo-tiful" crafts.

  • Your children (and students) will love to make these theme projects for Halloween. Ghosts do not have to be scary (especially for young children) – make them a friendly part of this holiday season.  Click Here

  • How about some awesome monsters using paint chip pages that you can obtain free at your favorite paint store.  Click Here

Have a great week. I'll be posting more "spook-tacular" projects soon!

Happy Parenting,

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Pumpkin Crafts for Kids: Harvest and Halloween Ideas

Pumpkins are fun! Their size, color, smell and taste make them perfect for children's observations and explorations. Pumpkins are a type of squash that symbolize both the bright orange color and lead us into the spirit of the fall season. This is the best time to experience the numerous possibilities of using pumpkins during your "together time" activities. Your kids may consider pumpkins only with Halloween and jack-o-lanterns; however, you can de-emphasize the holiday connection and use this variety of pumpkin-related activities for fall and harvest.

Pumpkin Sun Catcher-

Place a piece of adhesive paper down on the table sticky side up. You may need to tape this in place. Encourage your child to tear and place pieces of red tissue paper on one side and pieces of yellow tissue paper on the opposite side. When finished, fold the paper in half and see what happens when the red and yellow paper overlap. Cut a pumpkin shape from this now "orange" paper and hang in a sunny window. Buy adhesive paper here. 

Popcorn Painting-

Here's a new experience in painting! Place a cup of unpopped popcorn into a knee high stocking and tie the nylon stocking in a knot. Holding the top end of the stocking, dip the bottom (corn) into poster paint and then "bounce" it onto paper. This makes a neat design and so complimentary to the season. Cut the paper into a pumpkin shape and you now have a unique painting.

Pumpkin Mosaic - 

Give your child a paper plate and orange construction paper. Let him tear pieces of the orange paper (little ones really like to tear paper) and glue them onto the plate. Help him brush on the glue and after he is finished you make want to brush on a final layer to keep the pieces flat. Make a leaf shape from green or brown paper and glue this on top to complete the pumpkin.

Pumpkin Prints - 

Buy pumpkin cookie cutters and let your child dip these into tempera (poster paint) and then press them onto paper. This makes really cool prints and good for eye/hand coordination. As a variation, buy a small fresh pumpkin and cut this in half. Invite your youngster to dip the pumpkin half into orange paint and make a print. Buy cutters here. 

So, whether you use pumpkin projects for harvest or Halloween -- just have fun and do these activities with your children. It's the bonding time that really counts!

This post contains affiliate links to products. Shopping these links generates a small commission to keep this website up and running for you.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

A New Site Has Started -- Visit Kiddo Blogger

Kiddo Blogger Has Started

Well, it's official -- my new blog is

Creative Preschool Time will always be here, but if you want more information and ideas check out Kiddoblogger too! Why not visit both?

This new parenting site will go far beyond just crafts. Kiddo Blogger will have parent resources, along with more product reviews, deals, recipes, health awareness, and much more.

If you land on this page, please CLICK and visit my new blog.  Why not BOOKMARK and SUBSCRIBE too?

I'm excited to share lots of parent/child tips, ideas, reviews and random musings on both blogs.

Happy Parenting,


Friday, August 2, 2019

Back to School on the Bus Craft

As the summer months come to a close school bells will begin to ring.  Some states begin classes in late August and others wait until after Labor Day in September. When you see the infamous bright yellow school bus on your roads you know that school is in session. Here is a fun school bus craft your child will enjoy making whether he/she rides this iconic form of transportation or not. Why not sing “The Wheels on the Bus” while you are crafting together? With a recycled egg carton and a few supplies that are readily available at home this 3-D bus can be constructed.  So, let’s get started.
Supplies needed to make a School Bus craft:
  • Cardboard egg carton
  • Yellow tempera paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Safety scissors
  • Heavy-duty glue
  • White card stock paper
  • Markers or crayons
  • 2 plastic bottle caps
Directions to follow:
Step 1 – Prepare your work surface with newspaper to avoid paint and glue to mark your table top. You may want to place a smock over your child’s clothes as well.
Step 2 – Cut the lid off your cardboard egg carton. You can also use a yellow Styrofoam egg carton if a cardboard one is not available.
Step 3 – Place the two pieces back-to-back – the top of the lid should be next to the bottom of the egg cups (the open cups should be facing out). Glue these two pieces together. This will give your bus stability to stand up on the table.
Step 4 – Invite the kids to paint the entire bus construction with yellow paint.  Set this aside to dry thoroughly.
Step 5 – While the bus is drying, cut out six circles from white card stock paper. Use a bottle cap or lid to trace around to make the circles the same size. Make sure the circles fit slightly inside each individual egg cup.
Step 6 – Encourage the children to draw facial features on each circle with colorful markers or crayons. Challenge them to draw pictures of their school friends that ride the bus with them.  One circle should be a portrait of your child. Another option is to use photocopies of school pictures you may have of your child’s friends.
Step 7 – Glue these circles into the six egg cups on the top row of the bus.
Step 8 – Place two plastic lid caps on the bottom of the bus as wheels. Glue these securely in place.
Step 9 – The small flap of the egg carton at the top of the bus is a place to write the name of your school, bus route number, or just school bus in general.
Place your finished school bus construction in your home or child’s room as a reminder of the upcoming school days ahead.
How are you and the kids getting ready for school? Tell us in the comment section below.

Photo courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Back to School Shopping Can Be A Teachable Moment

Parents can get back-to-school shopping done with the kiddos along — and it can be an exciting learning experience for them with these tips.
The mall or department store is a special place for anyone with its sights, sounds, and smells. There are several things to do with children before, during, and after the shopping trip to make it more worthwhile for both parent and child.

Just before leaving for the mall, talk with your children about what they will be doing.  What type of products are you looking for? Clothing? School supplies? It’s best to take an inventory of your needs before planning the shopping trip. Why not take a day to clean out drawers and the closet and plan to donate clothing that no longer fits to the needy.  Work on a shopping budget so the kiddos know the family’s limits and see how many necessities can be purchased within these parameters. Who knows? There may be a little extra cash for a trendy piece!
While wandering through each department or each small store in a mall, discuss the noises, colors, smells (especially in the bakery or cosmetic departments), and textures of things. Pick up free samples so they can be examined at home and let the children participate in any taste or smell tests offered. Shopping excursions are terrific opportunities to help children develop their senses and vocabulary.
While shopping at the mall, ask your child his/her opinion on things. “Which sweater do you like the best?” Don’t forget to ask why she prefers one thing to another. Besides making her feel very grown-up and boosting her self-esteem, these questions help her develop important thinking skills. Let the child be responsible for one purchase. Have her pick out the item, take it to the salesperson, and pay for it. Isn’t this task an ego booster?

Shop ‘Till You Drop Game
Kids love a challenge when visiting the mall. Play this “shop ’til you drop” game which is like a basic scavenger hunt where a list of things is found within a specified amount of time (but the kids don’t actually collect them, they list them). Each child will need a tablet and pencil to write down the name of the store where each item is found. This shopping list gives ideas to plan this scavenger hunt, but it has lots of room for variations and creativity. Here are a few ideas: 

Something from Star Wars
Something people wear “under”
Something that makes music
Something that smells like coconut
Something dated with the year
Something rough and hard
A variety of candy
Something with a Disney character
Something plaid
The coolest backpack

And back at home…
After the shopping trip is over, spend some relaxing time at home with a fun project. Recycle the trip into a collage. Have the kids use parts of boxes, labels, bags, tissue paper, tags, and ribbon to create a permanent record of this trip. Glue these pieces of memorabilia onto a large sheet of construction paper or poster board.
Back to school shopping doesn’t have to be hard and trying, just use some imagination and make shopping days fun and exciting. Kids may even learn something along the way!
When does school start in your area? What are your best shopping tips to share with this group? Please tell us in the comment section below.
Happy Parenting,
Tania J

Adapted from my article, first published on Peku Publications, Your Parenting Info, 8/13/14

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

5 Toys That Foster Creativity and Critical Thinking

When buying toys for children I always lean toward creativity -- things the kids can make and do. It can be an art kit or a toy that challenges creative thinking. Look at your toy list holistically. Try to match the toy to the child’s interest and abilities. And, an important factor is purchasing age-appropriate toys/kits from well-respected companies that will provide playthings that will last and abide by the safety rules.
As a parent/grandparent who looks for money-saving toys – I’m always looking for a bargain. Let’s face it; kids grow out of toys too soon. Either the child grows out of the toy’s age span, or interests change. We need to look for deals – comparison shop!  Here are a few prices I found – but these prices are always changing. So, let your fingers do the shopping, even before you set out your door or online shop.

OnTel Products Make the MagicPad

MagicPad™ features an amazing crystal-clear, light-up screen that not only brings art to life but also makes learning fun! The kids just insert one of the stencils behind the screen featuring games, art or learning. Once their drawing is complete, press the color-change button to choose from 8 different light effects to see their creation glow! They can also create freely without using s stencil.
The MagicPad’s screen easily wipes clean and is portable for fun on the go.  It also has a built-in stand, so kids can display their creations, or it makes for a perfect nightlight. Each set includes a MagicPad™, 3 Dual-Sided Neon Pens (for six total colors), 30 Stencils, a Glow-Boost Card, Eraser Cloth and a Fun Guide.
Recommended Age: 3+ with a MSRP of $19.99
·      Target $14.29
·      Walgreens $19.99
·      Walmart $19.88
·      Amazon $14.29 
Now, if you are shopping online don’t forget to use Ebates/Rakuten to gain cash points (percentage varies per store). Please use my code:
VTech Makes the DigiArt Color by Lights™
Let lights guide the way as you create your next masterpiece with DigiArt Color by Lights™. The light-up board identifies each of the 50 included coloring pages and responds by showing what color to use in each section. Download more pages online for unlimited printing and play. Connect the light-up dots to draw shapes, objects, and animals. The art board features a dry-erase surface and a stencil card for more creative play, plus a variety of melodies to enjoy while creating your work of art. Color and create with light!
Ages 3-6 with a MSRP of $21.99
·      Walmart $19.88
·      Target $19.89
·      Amazon (only by second distributors $30+) 

DigiArt Spirals & Sounds™

Create unique spiral art designs with DigiArt Spirals & Sounds™. Place a piece of letter size paper (not included) inside the electronic art board, choose an animal stencil, then use one of the five included gears and the marker to make fun and intricate spiral patterns. Place an animal stencil in the board and press the talk button to hear creative encouragement, fun facts and a silly rhyme about the animal. Roll a gear inside the animal stencil to trigger funny sounds. Switch to music mode to hear 20 cheerful melodies while you create. Let your creativity soar with spirals!
Ages 3-6 years, $19.99 is the MSRP
·      Target $10.49
·      Walmart $10.49 (out of stock at the moment)
·      Amazon$10.49  

Kidi Secrets Selfie Journal™ by VTech
Protect your thoughts and dreams with the Kidi Secrets Selfie Journal™. Make a photo journal, write diary entries or record messages and keep them safe. Facial recognition software unlocks the journal only when it recognizes your face. Features front and rear cameras so you can take selfies and pictures of your friends. A full suite of mini-apps includes games, photo and video filters, music and utilities that give you a variety of activities to play. Create new looks for yourself and your friends, care for a virtual pet, decorate photos and videos, play learning games and more! You're the key to this diary!
Age 6 Years+, $49.99 is the MSRP
·      Target $31.49
·      Walmart $37.49
·      Amazon$31.49
And of course we can’t forget about making music. This activity enhances the creative side of learning.
Kidi Star Music Magic Microphone™ by VTech

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 MSRP
·      Walmart  $22.99
·      Target $22.99
·      Kohls $29.99
·      Amazon$22.99   
These are just a few of the many toys available that foster creativity and critical thinking. The list is endless.

Note: you have to factor in the shipping costs. Always try to get free shipping if online shopping. 

Photos by Tania Cowling, all rights reserved
Feature photo – Pixabay 

I would like to thank these companies for providing me samples of their products for review. There was no payment for my blog post. Please use the clickable links for online shopping – the affiliate bonus helps to keep this website up and running.