Thursday, November 18, 2021

Games to Play During Thanksgiving Weekend


Just because Thanksgiving Day is over, we don't have to truly let go of the holiday. We have the weekend to bond and play with the kids. Here are a few to engage in. 
Games of chance and dexterity were very important to the Native Americans and Pilgrims as they became friends during the humble year of the first Thanksgiving. These ideas for parents will help children learn the symbolic meanings of this November holiday. Since kids learn through play, here are a few teachable activities to try.
Pass the Stone -- Two teams of players (representing Native Americans) sit on the floor in lines facing each other. Members of the one team cover their hands with a blanket. While a leader beats on a drum, the team passes a stone from one player to the next under the blanket. When the drum stops, the players stop passing the stone. Chose a member of the opposite team to guess which player has the stone. If he/she guesses correctly, his team receives the stone. Repeat the game as long as there is interest. 
Over the River -- Place two strings parallel on the floor approximately one foot apart. Pretend this is the river to reach Grandma's house for Thanksgiving dinner. The object of the game is to jump across the "river" without falling into the "water" (stepping between the strings). Keep moving the strings farther and farther apart with each round of the game.
Feather Hunt -- Purchase a bag of assorted colored feathers and hide these around the party area or yard. Mark one feather as a special token and the finder of this feather will become the chief of the tribe. Invite the players to hunt for the feathers. After all are found, use these feathers to make headdresses. Cut felt or wide ribbons to fit the child's head. An adult can use a low-temperature glue gun and adhere the feathers to the band. Glue the ends together to complete the headband. The Braves and Maidens may wear the headbands during your Thanksgiving celebration. 
The Hoop Game -- The early settlers of America played this game of chance. Place a hula-hoop on the ground (or make a circle with masking tape). A player stands a designated distance from the circle with his/her back to the hoop. Toss small sticks over the shoulder. The object of this game is to land the sticks inside the hoop.
Photo courtesy of mattysimpson/CCO Public Domain on pixabay.com 
Enjoy your holiday together.
Happy Parenting,
Tania :)

Monday, October 4, 2021

Fun Halloween Crafts for Kids

Get ready, as Halloween is coming on the 31st of October. What a wonderful family holiday; a perfect time for parents and children to spend time together carving pumpkins, designing costumes and planning trick-or-treat activities. Kids can lose themselves in fun without having to worry about normal, proper behavior. They can act out their fantasies, dreams and imaginations, it's OK because it's Halloween. Spend good days together making these fun Halloween crafts for children.

Make a Bat with Hands
Make use of a child's hands to make this fun Halloween bat. Trace each hand onto black poster board, heavy construction paper or fun foam. Then cut out a headpiece with pointed ears. Assemble the pieces with glue or tape. The handprints are the bat's wings. Decorate the head with googly eyes (or paper ones), a pompom nose, and a freaky mouth cut from white paper. Add a yarn or ribbon loop at the top to hang this bat decoration around the house.

Halloween Tic-Tac-Toe
Take the traditional tic-tac-toe game and give it a Halloween flair. Cut a large pumpkin from a sheet of orange poster board. Draw the game grid with a black marker. Cut game markers (in Halloween shapes) from construction paper. Another good tip is to use your computer and find clip art that would serve as markers, you need at least five markers of two different shapes. Preserve your game board and pieces covering them with clear plastic adhesive paper if you wish. Enjoy playing this game with the children and think about how this game can be made for other holidays too.






Photos courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Use the month of October to make crafts and decorate the home or classroom. Have fun bonding with your children and give them big hugs!

Tania

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Recycle and Make New Crayons



Are you wondering what to do with all those broken and worn-out crayons from past school years? Create a new crayon from all those old ones as a fun weekend craft. This is a great recycling lesson and art project all in one. Crayon cookies provide a rainbow effect in this new art medium. The kids can make swirls and designs with one swoop across the paper. This is a great activity to do on a rainy day or when it’s just too hot to play outdoors. Here are the simple instructions.

Materials You Need:

Old crayons
Muffin tin
Aluminum foil
Oven
White paper

Instructions to Make Crayon Muffins:

Step 1 - Invite the children to remove all the paper wrappings from each crayon. It’s best to use all the brightly colored crayons you have.

Step 2 - Line several cups of a muffin tin with squares of aluminum foil. Make sure the foil covers the entire muffin cup and overlaps along the top edge. The foil makes it mess-proof to the muffin tray and easy to take out after the melting process.

Step 3 - Have the kids break the crayons into pieces between one-half inch to an inch.

Step 4 - Fill the muffin cup half-way with an assortment of crayon pieces in a variety of colors. Continue with this process according to how many crayon cookies you want to make.

Step 5 - Place the baking tin in a preheated 300-degree oven. Bake the crayons for about five to seven minutes. Ovens vary so watch the melting process carefully. Melt them just enough to blend the colors but not to a total liquid where the colors turn into a muddy mess.

Step 6 - Carefully remove the muffin tin from the oven and set it to cool for at least 30 minutes. Personally, once the liquid started to solidify, I transferred the tin to the refrigerator to finish the task.

Step 7 - When the crayon muffins are completely cool and solid, the children can carefully peel off the aluminum foil. Note that the cookies are more colorful on the foil side.


Step 8 - Now, bring out the paper and challenge the kids to make designs and rainbows with their new art medium.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Back to School Crafts Any Kid Can Make




Once again, summer is coming to an end and school bells are beginning to ring.  A way to “beat the back to school blues” is to make crafty projects that will be “cool” for the new school year, as well as, a few activities that will preserve the memories of the summer.  The requirements are simple: some creative materials, a little imagination and access to a computer.  No matter what your child’s age, going back to school is a milestone parents and children can enjoy together while making fun projects. Here are two of my favorites I made with my children years ago and will repeat this project with my grandkids.

My Summer Vacation Shirt
Preserve your kids’ summertime memories on a tee shirt—a great way to “show and tell” everyone at school how you spent your vacation.  First you need some pictures that you took on a digital camera. Download these on a computer; crop and adjust the size you want.  There is a special paper that can be bought at office and craft stores that is fabric on one side and an iron-on material on the back.  This paper can go through your ink-jet printer capturing photos that can be placed onto your shirt.  You and your child can also download clip art on the computer; just type in school, vacation, or summer clip art on any search engine to find the sites.  Download and print these on special paper too.  Now that you have all your materials printed, just cut, place and press them on with an iron (parent supervision needed).  Voila, a special shirt that will let the memories of summer live on!

Buy your fabric transfer paper HERE.

Recycled Jeans Lunch Sack


Cut a 12-16 inch section from the leg of the jeans above. Turn the bag inside out and sew the bottom pieces together with a seam.  Fold over a half-inch strip around the top and sew it down to make a casing. Through an opening left in the casing, thread a 3-foot length of cording or ribbon and knot the two ends together.  Now, turn the bag to the right side. You can download some clip-art on the computer to the special iron-on paper and place these designs on the bag. Have your child write his/her name and make other enhancements using fabric paints. These lunch bags are definitely handy—if they get dirty, just toss them into the washing machine!

Fabric paints can be bought HERE. 

Get creative during these last few days of summer. Going back to school doesn't have to be dull -- make it bright and happy with these cute projects.

Happy Parenting,
Tania


Photos courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved
My projects have been posted on other sites and magazines in the past. 
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. 

Monday, July 26, 2021

The Summer Olympics: Are You Ready?

The Summer Olympics 2021 is happening in Tokyo, Japan. 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 weeks of the Olympic games. Until my next blog post.

Happy Parenting,
Tania

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.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Fish-Themed Activities For Children



It's summer and many families spend these days fishing, boating, at the beach and maybe visiting an aquarium. Here are ways to help children develop knowledge about the creatures that live 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!

Fish Net Mobile
Save one of those net bags that oranges or potatoes are sold in. Hang this in a favorite spot. Invite the children to make colorful paper fish cut from construction paper and decorated with art materials. Punch a hole at the top of each fish. Attach the fish to the net with hooks made by opening paper clips.

Going Fishing (Snack)
Give each child two paper cups. One with fish shaped crackers and the other with peanut butter. Give the children a carrot stick and tell them to dip the end of the veggie stick (fishing pole) into the peanut butter and then go fishing into the crackers. The peanut butter makes the crackers stick to the carrot stick. Kids love to see how many fish they can catch!

Children love fish themes and you can enhance these ideas with books, songs and even movies like the movie Finding Dory. There is a mysterious and beautiful world down under the sea, so as you are having fun with fish activities, children are learning through play.


Photo courtesy of Flickr  

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Celebrating July 4th With the Kids



July 4th is the birthday of our country and the most important of all our national holidays. This holiday commemorates the adoption on July 4, 1776, of the final draft of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress to proclaim America’s freedom from British rule. Every year Independence Day (July 4th) is the legal holiday celebrated throughout the country with picnics, parades and firework displays after dark. Just as you celebrate birthdays of family members, use this day to have a birthday party for our country.  Decorate the house, prepare festive foods, play Americana games; get the family involved in activities relating to this historic event. Here are some tips to make this a “sparkling” holiday.

Recycled Noisemakers

it wouldn't be a celebration without noisemakers. Here are two simple ones to make from recycled trash and a few art materials. 

The first shaker is made with plastic water bottles. After you clean the bottle (dry it) and take off the label, brainstorm with the kids what you want to put inside for noise and for a pretty display. My gang chose sparkly pipe cleaners, wooden beads, jingle bells, feathers, and such. There are endless possibilities. To make sure the contents do not spill out, run a bead of glue inside the lid before screwing on the top. These bottle shakers are so cute to make for other events such as birthday parties, New Year's Eve, and more. What a fun take-home craft!

The next shaker is using empty soda cans. Clean the cans and let them air dry. Invite the kiddos to fill the can with pebbles, rice, or coins. Tell them to be careful of their fingers when filling the can. The opening is sharp.  When finished, tape the opening closed with heavy-duty tapes, like duct tape. Proceed to wrap the can with construction paper and decorate with drawings, stickers, and other baubles you can glue on. Top the can with a cluster of ribbons. I found that the clusters you buy from the gift wrap section of your favorite store works best (and easy). Sometimes you can find these ribbons at a dollar store.

Around the USA Game
You can't have a successful party without a game or two. This one is fun and makes you think!

Gather the family together and have them sit in a circle.  The first player announces, “I’m traveling around the country and in [state] I visited [place].  For example, “I’m traveling around the country, and in New York I visited the Statue of Liberty.”  The next player must repeat what the first player said (“I’m traveling around the country, and in New York I visited the Statue of Liberty”) and add another phrase like, “and then I traveled to Pennsylvania and visited the Liberty Bell.”  Play continues around the circle with each player repeating previous phrases, and then adding a new one.  As a player forgets an item in the list, he/she is eliminated from play until one winner remains.

Wishing you all a happy and safe Independence Day!
Happy Parenting,
Tania :)

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Sunday, June 6, 2021

Are You Visiting the Beach? Capture a Memory!



Summer is beach weather and the perfect place for fun in the sun, sand, and surf. Whether you live near the ocean, vacation there, or attending a home beach party, this craft is a way to hold onto memories. Your children will love to make this time capsule-type craft that will savor the memories of the beach. If you don’t have a beach nearby, fear not! These supplies can easily purchased at craft stores. It’s an easy project that can be saved and displayed in your child’s room as a great decoration and memory maker. 

Supplies Needed for this Beach Craft:

Medium sized plastic jar with lid
Photo of your child 
Tape
Sea shells
Beach sand
Netting or raffia
Heavy glue or low-temperature glue gun
Seaside favor or decor

How to Make a Beach Memory Jar:

  1. Find a suitable jar for this craft. With young children it is best to use a plastic jar with a lid. I chose a mayonnaise jar. Wash and dry the jar thoroughly.
  2. Look through your photos and find one of your child at the beach. If you are doing this craft at a beach party, the host/hostess can take photos when the children arrive in bathing suits and then download and make prints before craft time. 
  3. Take the photo or photocopy and place it inside the jar. Tape it in place to the back curve wall of the jar with the picture showing through the front. 
  4. Pour a couple inches of beach sand into the bottom of the jar. 
  5. Add some sea shells and arrange them to your liking. You may want to include some sea coral or a star fish. Just make sure if you are using fresh beach finds that there are no living organisms inside your shells. These need to be returned to their natural habitat. 
  6. When you are finished filling your container, screw on the lid tight. You may want to run a line of glue inside the lid before screwing it on. This will prevent spills of beach sand all over your floors.
  7. Now, it’s time to decorate the lid. Glue on some extra shells; a low-temperature glue gun works best. Wrap the side of the lid with raffia or a netting-type ribbon.
  8. As an extra enhancement I added a paper beach umbrella to the top or think about a plastic palm tree as another option. 
  9. With a black permanent marker, mark the child’s name, date, and location to the top of the lid.

Memory jars are awesome projects for children of all ages and various events. Think about making a miniature time capsule for birthdays, visiting a theme park, or to add mementos for any vacation. 

Happy Crafting With the Kids,
Tania 
Photo courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved


Thursday, May 20, 2021

Zoo Play At Home ~ Animals From the Art Cart




Children love animals! A trip to your local zoo is bound to be a hit, but when that's not possible you can have lots of zoo fun at home. With a variety of animal activities and with a spark of imagination you and your kids can 'take a walk on the wild side!'

From the "art cart"

With paper, glue, paints, crayons and the recycle bin, your child can create a menagerie of animals at home.

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 inkpads 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 inkpad 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.   



Playing zoo can be loads of fun and a good way to bring out all the stuffed animals your child has hidden in her room. Whether you have a rainy day or one where staying home is the call, creative play is so productive to your child's development.


 



Previously posted on Examiner.com
Pictures courtesy of Pixabay.com

Enjoy animal fun with the kiddos.
Happy Parenting,
Tania

Monday, May 3, 2021

Is Your Tween Ready to Babysit?



Hi all,

I'm trying to expand this blog to cover information that will appeal and offer helpful information to parents with older children, not just preschool. So whether you have an infant, toddler, preschooler, or older child, keep checking my blog for all things parenting. 

Today, I'm focusing on Tweens. Has your child asked you about starting to babysit? Here is a helpful checklist to give to your tween to see if he/she can answer these questions. Is the job right for them? Let's find out!

Happy Parenting,
Tania


BABYSITTING:  ARE YOU READY FOR THIS RESPONSIBLE JOB?

During the tween years, it’s normal to begin your first paying jobs: mowing lawns, walking dogs, or babysitting.  These activities help to build a sense of independence as well as teach the importance of scheduling, dependability and managing finances.  Babysitting is more than watching small children while their parents are away from home; it’s a real job that demands responsibility and full-time attention.  Can you handle this task? Below is a checklist to see if this job is for you! 

§  Are you comfortable staying alone?  It’s important to be at ease being alone at home, both during daylight and nighttime hours.  If you’re nervous about staying home alone, you may not be ready to be alone in someone else’s home and responsible for other children. Some tweens may be okay during the day, but become apprehensive after dark.  In this case, begin with daytime babysitting only.
§  How do you relate to younger children?  Do you treat children with patience and compassion?  Can you take command of situations that require guidance or supervision?  Do younger children respond to you positively?
§  Can you handle unexpected or emergency situations?  Are you able to stay calm and proceed wisely in a crisis?  Preparing a plan of action and learning basic emergency procedures can be helpful in handling unexpected situations that may arise.
§  Are you skilled in the basics of childcare?  Do you know how to hold, feed, and change baby’s diapers?  Can you soothe a crying child who woke up with a bad dream, misses her parents or has fallen during play?  If you feel apprehensive with very young children, maybe sitting with older children would be wise until you gain more experience.
§  Can you handle the business of babysitting?  Babysitting is a job that requires interaction with parents as well as children.  Be businesslike and explain the days and hours you are available.  What you charge per hour.  Try to arrange a visit prior to babysitting to meet the children.  Make arrangements for transportation to and from the job.

If you answer yes to these questions babysitting can be a rewarding experience. Go on to the Internet for babysitting safety tips.  Babysitting Safety Tips

Photo courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved