Saturday, November 30, 2013

Advent Calendar For Young Kids 2013

We had so much fun with out Advent Calendar last year as the girls were old enough to really get into it and enjoy the activities! You can check out last years post here: Advent Calendar 2012

I'm really looking forward to continuing this tradition with them this year!

Just like I posted last year we try to keep it simple by combining fun family events with simple activities and even include ways to give back during the holiday season.

Although our list is very similar to last years I thought I would share it anyway as it does include a few new items. As stated last year most of the new items on the list (new ornament,  new coloring book etc.) were purchased at the dollar aisle or The Dollar Store.

1. Hot Coco Bar and put up the tree
2. Buy toys for Wish Tree Gift (Gifts to help needy children in the community)
3. Read A New Christmas Story
4. Write A Letter To Santa
5. Pick toys out of our own collection to donate
6. See Santa at The Mall
7. Cookies with Santa at our church
8. Go on a sleigh ride (neighborhood holiday party)
9. Santa chocolate treat
10. Decorate Foam Snowmen ($1 aisle at Target)
11. New Christmas Ornament to put on tree
12. Donate to Wings ( local shelter for women and children)
13. Family Christmas Movie Night
14. New candy cane to put on tree
15. Go see The Zoo lights
16. Read Christmas Stories in front of the tree
17. New Christmas coloring book
18. Go see Christmas lights in our PJ's while listening to Xmas music
19. Make ornaments for family gifts
20. Make Gingerbread House
21. Read The Christmas Story and Christmas song family sing along with guitars
22. Decorate Christmas Cookie Party
23. Hot Coco with Mrs. Claus
24. Open 1 present (new pj's) and sprinkle reindeer food
25. Merry Christmas (chocolate treat)

What's on your Advent Calendar? Anything your family enjoys that I missed?

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Placemat For Kids To Make

When I hosted Thanksgiving dinner a couple of years ago I had so much fun coming up with ways to decorate the kids table.  Here's a simple way to get the kids involved in personalizing their very own spot at the table. Have them make their own Thanksgiving placemats!

All you need are oil pastels (crayons or markers will work too), orange construction paper, printed out sheets of paper that say We Give Thanks, glue, Thanksgiving stickers and contact paper.

I played around with my various fonts on the computer and chose a bold puffy font to type the words We Give Thanks. You want something that is fairly chunky so the kids have space to color it in.

The girls glued on the We Give Thanks paper to the orange construction paper and then using fall colored oil pastels they colored in the words. I used oil pastels because they tend to be a bit brighter but crayons or markers will work too.

We had been talking about what it means to be thankful and grateful so we continued our discussion of what it means to give thanks.

After they were done coloring in the words I gave them some foam Thanksgiving stickers and they decorated along the sides of the paper with them. On a side note peeling off the backs of the foam stickers is great fine motor skill practice!

Once they were done decorating we covered the placemat with contact paper and then they were complete and ready to be displayed!

This is a perfectly simple activity for the kids to do to prepare for Thanksgiving! You could even have the materials ready and use this as a little project for your guest children to do on Thanksgiving day!

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Gift Guide- Favorite Toys under $15

The holidays are coming and the catalogs are rolling in nearly every day! Time to start thinking about holiday shopping and I have just the gift guide for the little ones in your lives. The best part is it won't break the bank as all of these gifts are priced $15 or under!

I wanted to focus on toys that we have in our own home because these are 100% tried and true. They are some of our all time favorite toys and some have been used by all three of my kids through the years! Since I have young kids, 5 and under, that is obviously the age this little toy guide will focus on.

1. Hide-N-Squeak Eggs- This adorable open-ended toy has been a favorite since my oldest was a baby! Kids will enjoy taking the eggs apart and putting them back together. They can enjoy the cute squeaking sound when you press down on the egg and the bottom of the carton has a different shape for each egg where my kids loved fitting the egg bottom with the proper shape. So much fun and so much to do with these little eggs.

2Dr. Kit- This simple doctor kit is seriously one of the most played with toys by my 3 and 5 year old that we have ever had! It lends itself to hours of pretend play. They play doctor with each other and with their dolls and of course the grown-ups have received their fair share of check-ups too! Great gift that is surely to be used over and over!

3. Travel Magna Doodle- We have this travel version and the larger Magna Doodle and both are a huge hit with my girls! It's a great way to practice those fine motor and writing skills all while having fun. The pen is attached so it doesn't get lost and you simply slide the little slider at the bottom to erase and start over. Mess free and easy to throw in a bag and take with for traveling!

4. Dot Paint Markers- This is my go to Birthday Party gift for preschool age children. I discovered these years ago when I taught preschool and they were a favorite in the classroom art area. Now I get to watch my girls enjoy creating with these fun paint markers. These are great if you want to paint but don't want to deal with the mess. They have a sponge tip that doesn't spill over and the pain comes out when pressed down on. They can be used to make dot prints, patterning, drawing and more!

5. Cubed Farm Puzzle- We love puzzles and have many different types at our house but I will have to say this one gets the most love! This one has 6 puzzles in all and each cube side has a different animal including a cow, pig, sheep, chicken, horse and duck. What I love about this puzzle is that it keeps kids challenged as it's not super easy to figure out and memorize. Great puzzle and great value!

6. Easel- We love this easel from IKEA and love the price tag on it even more. When I was shopping around for easels I found a lot that I liked but some of them were very pricey. Then I came across this IKEA one for $14.99 and snagged it for my daughter. It's now been 3 years and it's held up great! It has a chalk board on one side and a dry erase board on the other side. We purchased the paper roll from IKEA and use that for painting. It's not fancy but has served the purpose throughout the years!

7. Animal Sound Bingo Game- This was another favorite that the preschoolers used to love when I was teaching. My girls have enjoyed this game just as much and frankly never seem to get tired of it. It comes with a cd with animal sounds, chips and Bingo type cards that have animal pictures. You play the cd and match your chip to the animal sound on your card. The first one to get their card filled up is the winner. This has been a bedtime favorite game in our home for two years! Highly recommend it!

8. Cash Register- We have this exact same one and it's great! My 14 month year old loves to play with it, pressing all the buttons and hearing the beeping sounds and my girls play with it all the time. It has the scanner, conveyer belt, money and credit cards that they love using to play store. You can't beat the price either- $12.99!

9. Wooden Block Set- This is a great little starter block set. I love that's it's wooden and not plastic and it holds up very well. I bought these for my now 5 year old daughter when she was 2, they are played with frequently and are still in great condition. Blocks are a great open ended activity that encourages imaginary play, spatial awareness and many other concepts. This is the perfect set to either add to or begin your block collection!

10. Play Tunnel- We don't have this exact same one but the one we purchased is similar. It actually was from IKEA but they no longer make that exact same one. These are great for indoor active play, especially during rainy days and those cold winter months. Again, it's a toy that has been with us through the years and my children have used this at every stage of their life so far. It's great for babies just learning to crawl as well as preschool age children ready to burn off some energy. You could make a little obstacle course with it or roll a bunch of balls through it. The possibilities are endless!

Hopefully I've given you a few ideas to help fill up your gift giving list for young children!

For some more inspiration be sure to check out this ultimate list of 50+ gift guides from some wonderful bloggers!!    50+ Gift Idea For Kids

Don't forget to hop on over and checkout the Pinterest Board as well! Gift Guide Board For Kids

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Fun Math Games With Colored Cotton balls

We used colored cotton balls from the dollar aisle for these simply activities. The ones we used were left over from Halloween but you obviously can use any color for these activities. 

My daughter has been learning a lot about patterning in Kindergarten and she has really been interested in it at home as well. So I thought she would enjoy making patterns with the cotton balls.

I used tag board paper to cut strips and then I drew lines to make the squares on each strip. I then colored in the squares with the pattern I wanted on each strip. My daughter also helped me color in the squares. 

When we were done coloring it was all ready for her to make the patterns. It was fairly simple for her to match the cotton balls to the corresponding color so once she completed a strip I asked her to tell me the pattern and then continue the pattern without the color boxes. This added an extra challenge for her. 

Simple but educational way to have fun with patterns and you can use them over and over again! 

We used the cotton balls with my 3 year old to work on sorting. I made color cards ahead of time to correspond with each pom pom color. I wrote the color word in the actual color on each index card. I also pulled out our tweezers and ice cube tray that we purchased from the dollar store and incorporated them into the activity for fine motor practice. 

Writing the color word instead of just having a colored index card is a great way to also incorporate print into the activity! Now we have three concepts being practiced: fine motor skills, sorting, and exposure to print! Not bad for a quick and easy set up! 

My 3 year old used the tweezers to place each pom pom onto the corresponding color card. 

Once she was done I asked her to count how many orange ones, black ones etc.. Wait, now we just added counting skills to the list of educational concepts used! Super! 

So many ways to use colored cotton balls but listed here are just a few fun suggestions to get you started! 

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