Aug 28

Summer is great for fun but some kids’ activities could harm the environment – like water balloons. The following ideas from Margaret Hyde of Huffington Post would create the best Eco-Friendly Summer Fun for Kids without hurting Mother Nature:

1. Grow a garden play area
- Plant sunflowers to create a maze or a beautiful natural playground in your backyard. Planting a “pizza garden” (tomatoes, oregano, basil) is also a great idea. Harvest them with your kids at the end of summer and make the best homemade pizza.
2. Create a natural art box mobile
- Materials: box, translucent contact paper, string, pebbles, rocks, small twigs, flowers, and some homemade paint (egg white and red ochre blush and charcoal). View some ancient cave art pictures with your child for inspirations.
3. Make toys and crafts from boxes
- Big boxes make great puppet theaters and tunnel playhouses. Medium boxes could be made into train tunnels or matchbox car highways.
4. Add some scent to Play Dough
- Create an “Around the World” Play dough and add different spices like lemongrass and ginger for an Asian smelling clay, or cumin and turmeric for an Indian scented play.
5. Make your own water sponge toys
- Instead of water balloons, why not play with water sponge toys instead? It’s easy to throw around and leaves no rubber trash behind.
6. Do some finger painting
- No brush use but only fingers. Use non-toxic finger paint [cornstarch, water, and food color] for a fun messy activity.
7. Colored rice and pasta (using non-toxic coloring)
- Use food color and some (quick drying) rubbing alcohol for your colored rice and pasta . The kids could use these in spatial relationship play and/or crafting. Let the kids pour them into cups or use to make necklaces or to glue onto their artwork.
8. Sand box treasure hunting
- Buy some inexpensive environment-friendly toy pirate ‘loots’ (“fool’s good” pyrite) and bury them in your kid’s sand box. Have the kids dress up into pirates and let them dig up their gold.
9. Make a toilet paper tube bird feeder
- Take a toilet paper tube and recycle it by covering with peanut butter and rolling in birdseeds. It’s a worthwhile activity for kids.
10. Create a backyard beach
- Buy several bags of sand from the hardware store or local garden shed and spread it out in the kiddy pool or just anywhere you can enjoy it in your own backyard. Next, place some sea shells, sand dollars, and even driftwood you’ve collected from your previous trips to the beach. Then, take out the beach umbrella and sand toys.

Let your kids engage with fun and nature in these activities. Which of these green summertime ideas you’d be trying with your kids?


Aug 15

The sky is great and beautiful this summer – Why don’t you take out your kids and have some fun outside – right in your very own backyard! Natural Parents Network suggests 5 Activities for Summertime Fun that both you and your kids can enjoy:

1. Creating a growing play pot ‘fairy garden’
- What you do is plant a sturdy plant on an extra large pot (a good height for children’s play), cover it with moss or other soft touchable ground covers, and then let your kids decorate it with small stones, pebbles, small animals, toys and trucks, and fairies!
2. Setting up a sensory playground
- To set this up, you will need to use your wading pool (without wat er). Place it outside on the grass or on the porch, or you can take it inside your living during cool or rainy summers. Now dump it with beans, rice, pillows, balls, packing peanuts, and duplos and other colorful blocks and toys. No need to fill it all the way – just a small layer on the bottom and your kids will be ready to dive in!
3. Rock painting and garden decorating
- Go on a walk to where you can find large rounded stones or river rocks you can use for this project. Wash and dry the rocks with the kids. Heat up the rocks in the oven for just a bit, at 225 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel some crayons and let your kids melt the colors away on the warm rocks! Decorate your garden steps or windowsill with your creations.
4. Making a homemade sidewalk or driveway paint
- Mix equal parts of water and cornstarch and add food coloring. Let your kids do the stirring. You can use painbrushes or just let your colors drizzle and drip. You can now paint the ground with your kids!
5. Painting with water
- How about painting with water? Yes, you don’t have to use paint. Your kids’ imaginations are what matters. Best of all, they can paint anything outside with this – the porch table, trellis, the fence, walkway, or even the wall and the entire deck!

What other warm weather activities can you suggest? Have fun this summer!


Aug 14

Summer living may be a lot easier or laid back, but it certainly is not the time to waste the chance for your kids to learn, letting them just slack the entire summer. Summer is the perfect opportunity to let them learn some important life skills they would need as they grow older. You can become a better parent and guide them through in learning the following life skills:

1. Domestic Resposibility. Let them take on the bigger chores at home like doing the laundry or mowing the lawn. This will help them learn some important “move-out-skills” which they would be able to use once they become someone else’s roommate.

2. Self-entertainment. Let them learn to entertain themselves independently, or without the use of a computer or TV. Get your kids a library card or a digital camera (which they can take around the neighborhood to explore and discover things they had never thought so interesting).

3. Time management. This is a very important skill to learn which helps them become more in control of their life and activities. Help them plan out all your family’s upcoming summer activities, marking them down in the calendar.

4. Body-Mind learning. Physical skills are just as important as academic skills. Encourage your kid to be more physically active by letting him engage more in sports, and to learn skills through observation instead of reading.

5. Inter-age communication. At school, your kid is mostly with other kids his age so learning to communicate with people in other age-groups is something he needs to practice outside of school. Assign him to become a baby sitter to his younger cousins or let him chat up with different people in the grocery store, or, you let his grandparents visit often so they could talk.

6. Goal-setting. This summer, let your kids grab the opportunity to set a goal and achieve it, whether finishing reading an (n) number of pages or doing an (n) number of pushups. It will challenge his skills and boost his confidence.

You can read more about how you can help your kids learn some life skills during summer on Babble.com (Article by Asha Dornfest, the Accidental Expert)


Aug 12

Day camp is a great idea for parents like you to have some respite from raising your kids. Summer camp also cultivates a child’s self-reliance, independence, self-esteem, among other life skills. Yet there is much more to preparing for your kid’s day camp than placing his name in all of his belongings or loading up his stuff with sun block and other necessities. Here are 8 ways to prepare your child for summer camp (as suggested by iVillage):

1. Familiarize yourself and your child with the camp site and counselors beforehand.

2. Get your kid involved with the preparations.

3. Foster new friendships.

4. Advocate for your child – if necessary, talk to the camp director or other camp personnel to pay special attention to your child.

5. Share your own camp stories. Share your day camp experiences when you were still a child.

6. Do your assignment. Find out what’s allowed or not allowed in the day camp (for instance personal items like favorite toys) days ahead before camp starts.

7. Don’t let him cop out. If something happens in the day camp that your child doesn’t particularly like, listen to him and help him cope, but don’t let him quit right there and then.

8. Let him go. Let day camp drop-offs go as quick as possible, and lastly..

9. Help your child enjoy his summer camp.

You can read more details on these tips on Summer Camp Countdown! Preparing Your Kid for Day Camp (on iVillage)


Aug 12

You really don’t have to be bothered by kids saying, “I’m bored, there’s nothing to do” during summer. There’s a great solution for this, and it doesn’t mean sending him off to “Just go there and play.” All you need is a list of the best 2012 summer readings for kids for all ages:

BOOKS FOR BOYS:

Dan Gutman’s “Baseball Card Aventures”
David A. Kelly’s “Ballpark Mysteries”
Kevin Markey’s “The Super Sluggers”
S.J. Kincaid’s “Insignia”
Catherine Fisher’s “Incarceron”
Matt and Dave’s “Yuck” series (“Yuck’s Amazing Underpants”)
“Planet Tad”
Lincoln Pierce’s “Big Nate Goes For Broke”
Jennifer and Matthew Holm’s “Squish: Super Amoeba”
“Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers”
“Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants”
Brian Selznick’s “The Invention of Hugo Cabret”

PICTURE BOOKS FOR BOYS:

Artie Bennett’s “Poopendous”
Owen Davey’s “Night Knight”
Chris Van Dusen’s “Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit
Charise Mericle Harper’s “If Waffles Were Like Boys”
Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Licktenheld’s “Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site”
Ame Dyckman’s “Boy + Bot”
Michael Chabon’s “The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man”
Peter Stein and illustrator Bob Staake’s “Bugs Galore”

BOOKS FOR GIRLS:

Polly Horvath’s “Mr. and Mrs. Bunny — Detectives Extraordinaire”
“Charlotte’s Web”
Lissa Price’s “Starters”
Cassandra Clare’s series “The Mortal Instruments”
Lauren Oliver’s “Liesel & Po”
“Junie B. Jones and Ramona Quimby”
“Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly School Bus”
Stephanie Barden’s “Cinderella Smith”
Jennifer L. Holm’s “Eighth Grade is Making Me Sick”
“Letters to Leo”

PICTURE BOOKS FOR GIRLS:

Matthea Harvey’s “Cecil the Pet Glacier”
Emily Redmond’s “Felicity Floo Visits the Zoo”
Jonny Duddle’s “The Pirates Next Door Starring the Jolly-Rogers”
Peter McCarty’s “Chloe”
Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s “Plant a Kiss”
Amy Beth Bloom’s “Little Sweet Potato”

Have you found any interesting titles for your kids?

Source: Summer Reading 2012: Books for Kids of All Ages (Huffington Post)


Aug 12

Summer parties! They’re fun but kids could be so messy at times especially when eating. Limit the spills and stains by serving these kid-friendly party foods perfect for the summer – 25 Easy-to-Eat Summer Recipes

These summer party menu recipes from Babble.com are great easy-to-eat summer party foods. The list includes perfect summer treats, entrees, desserts, sweets, and refreshments. Note: They are all kid-friendly – hence, perfect for the family.

However, what really makes these foods special is that they are healthy and at the same time, yummy. We all know that kids are finicky eaters so these foods will suit their taste buds while still adding some nutrition to their diet. These creative healthy finger foods range from a salsa-pizza combinations, mac-and-cheese muffins, shortcake push-up pops, apple pie pops, easy no-mess s’mores, nutella cupcakes, healthy trail mix, jiggle cups, lemonade cupcakes in a jar, and other smart and interesting desserts on a jar.

The list also includes foods that adults will enjoy – such as classic party favorites cheese platters, BLT panini, easy pigs in a blanet, vegetable pasta, grilled salmon, tofu, and interesting drinks like sparkling femonade, and fruity frizz sangria

You can view the entire food list HERE (including the links to the recipes). Enjoy your summer!


Jul 29

Kids grow up so fast! And because they do, don’t you think you should start planning to spend more time with them? Having fun with kids is one of the best rewards of being a parent. So take your time and enjoy activities with your kids this summer.

Child and Adolescent Therapist Signe Whitson from Huffington Post shares 45 Ideas for Summer Fun with Kids that parents could do with their fast growing children. Her summertime with the kids ‘to-do-list’ includes making stepping stones, having a car wash, running through a fountain, organizing a block party for the neighbors, making homemade icecream, selling lemonade at the park and donating the money to charity, catching fireflies, looking at the stars, swinging ‘so high we think our feet would touch the sky’, making swirly designs with sparklers in the night sky, roasting marshmallows and hot dogs on long sticks, wearing glow bracelets and running around after dard, planting flowers, going to a museum, blowing bubbles, swimming a lot, just lying in the hammock, and just enjoying being young spending time the kids!

Remember, children are only young once so make the most out of it. Enjoy the time with them while it lasts, especially while it’s summer. You household and professional tasks can wait. Enjoy the no-school no-hurry mornings, savor the staying-up-late-past-bedtime, and just become a kid again with your kids!


Jan 25

If you’re already planning your summer vacation, you might want to listen to this…that is, your summer vacation in 2014. Singer Dolly Parton is building a 114-care snow and water park near the Grand Ole Opryland Resort in Nashville. The family-oriented park will be first of its kind.


Jan 7

I know what you’re thinking: it’s too cold for a bathing suit right now, but this time of year, many people choose to take a vacation to somewhere warm to escape the cold weather. If you’re pregnant and are planning such a trip, here are some great maternity bathing suits you can buy right now. (Because, let’s face it, you won’t find any in the stores right now.)


Sep 22

With summer coming to an end, you’ll probably be spending less time at the pool or the beach and you’ll probably spend less time thinking about water safety.  According to a new report from the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, however, drowning is a year-round danger. Kids are just as likely to drown at home as they are in a swimming pool.


Sep 10

Summer may almost be over but that doesn’t stop kids from reliving some of their favorite moments.  Usually, that includes a big summer blockbuster or two.  With this in mind, Indianapolis’s Fox 59 has put together a list of some of the hottest toys inspired by summer movies.  It’s never too early to do a little Christmas shopping!


Aug 20

After spending a summer with the kids at home, chances are you’re ready to sneak in some me-time.  But how can you do it when everyone is always demanding constant attention?  From grocery shopping to spending some extra moments in the bathroom with a book, here is a look at 10 ways moms are sneaking in a little stress-free time for themselves.


Aug 15

Let’s face it: back-to-school shopping can be a hassle, but according to Redbook it doesn’t have to be.  From going shopping alone to shopping online, here are ten back-to-school shopping tips that will leave moms and dads a little less stressed out this year.


Aug 5

Dr. Robin Schaffran has created an all-natural, chemical-free sunscreen for children. The new product, appropriately called Dr. Robin for Kids, uses quick-fade technology and is mineral-based.  It’s already a family favorite of several celebrity moms, such as Marcia Cross and Sarah Jessica Parker. The sunscreen will set you back a bit though; it’s priced at $24.


Jul 29

The Smurfs movie is all the rage this summer, and it’s bringing the classic cartoon to a younger generation as well.  The movie isn’t the only way people are enjoy the Smurfs this summer though; check out this great Smurfs gear, including costumes, lunchboxes toys, t-shirts, games and more.


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