Archive for the ‘ Everyday Fun ’ Category

Gratitude Mobile: FamilyFun Test Drive

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

A deliciously cooked turkey. Check. A beautifully set table. Check. Pecan pie, pumpkin pie, apple pie. Check, check, and check. So everything is ready for the Thanksgiving meal. There’s one thing left on your list…oh right—the lesson of this holiday. Take some time with your kids to reflect on what you are grateful for. As I learned this year, kids as young as two can understand the concept of gratitude, and it’s so important to start on this lesson early.

I sat down with Oliver and Sommer this week and talked about all the wonderful things and people that we have in our lives…from Lego trains to each other (Lego trains were mentioned first, mind you). So as a seasonal reminder of our good fortune, we made this festive little mobile from the November issue of Family Fun to hang in the kitchen so we can look up and remember all that we are grateful for.

How it’s done:

1. Punch circles from a 2″ to 3″ paper punch. (Kids love doing this part!)

2. Invite everyone to jot down a few things that inspire gratitude in them. Write “We’re thankful for …” on a larger circle.

3. To assemble the mobile, knot string onto the inner ring of an embroidery hoop, then extend it across to the opposite side, knot it, and trim. Repeat with 3 more lengths of thread to create 8 spokes. Gather the threads together at the center and knot a loop of twine around them for hanging.

4. Punch holes in the circles, then hang them from the hoop with thread. (I tied a circle on either side of a string and looped it over the hoop instead of tying. This allowed me to balance and move the circles as needed.)

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Join Family Volunteer Day on November 22nd!

Friday, November 14th, 2014

There’s no better time of year to teach children about giving and community service than the holiday season. While we are enjoying delicious foods and looking forward to Christmas, Hanukkah and other festive celebrations, it’s so important to teach our kids that we need to share with others who may not have as much as we do.

Points of Light created Family Volunteer Day 22 years ago to highlight the benefits of family volunteering and provide opportunities for families to help communities create supportive environments for their children and each other. This year Family Volunteer Day takes place on November 22 (the weekend before Thanksgiving) and is being sponsored by Disney Friends for Change and powered by generationOn. Visit generationOn for all sorts of resources of how to get involved with your kids on this very important day.

My husband Michael and I talked to Oliver and Sommer about giving back to our community and ways we could help. Even at 2 and 4, they came up with suggestions as to what we can give away to those in need. We decided we’d put a box in our kitchen, and every week before Thanksgiving, we each put one item into the box. So that we know that everyone did their part that week, each family member was assigned a color sticker: Oliver is blue, Sommer is purple, I’m yellow and Michael is red.

We decided to decorate our box with the stickers so when we take it to our donation location of choice on November 22nd, (find yours at Feeding America or All For Good) it looks and feels like a gift. Two families in our neighborhood joined us in this family volunteering project and we plan to go together to deliver our donation. I find that when kids can discuss an activity among their peers, they often come to different observations and lessons.

If you volunteer on November 22, tell your story at—selected families will appear in a future issue of FamilyFun magazine!

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Ghostly Halloween Pretzel Treats: FamilyFun Test Drive

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Today is the big day. Not your wedding day. Not high school graduation. Not even your birthday. It’s HALLOWEEN!

I don’t know about yours, but my kids woke up this morning with a special kick in their step, so I decided to surprise them after school with these adorable Paranormal Pretzels from the October issue of FamilyFun Magazine.

If you need to kill time before the trick or treating begins (and your costumes are finished!), whip these up with the kids this afternoon. So easy and they’ll love giving expression to their little pretzel ghosts!

Here’s the recipe:


  •  Yogurt pretzels
  •  Candy melts
  •  Sprinkles and/or small candies for pupils

Make It

1. Place yogurt pretzels on parchment paper. Heat candy melts according to the package directions. Spoon each color into a ziplock bag and snip off one tiny corner. Let the candy cool for a minute, then pipe it into the holes as shown. Before the filled areas set, add sprinkles or small candies for pupils.

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Creative Toddler Painting Tools: FamilyFun Test Drive

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

On the last day of my son Oliver’s first year in preschool, he brought home a dossier full of paintings. They were mostly either red, blue, or some mash-up of the two together, all done with what looked like the same brush. So I did what we all do—I saved the ones that appeared to have some intention, design, or composition and chucked the rest.

But here’s my question…why are we only giving kids a chunky paintbrush to make marks on paper? In the October issue of FamilyFun, I saw a little item about art beyond finger painting—ways for kids to paint that will produce new and exciting results. So I thought I’d put a few of their ideas (and some of my own) to the test with my little artists!

1. TOY CAR: Pick a car, any car, and roll it through some nontoxic, washable paint to make colorful tire marks on the paper. Try different kinds of wheels with different textures to see how the marks differ. Sommer gave this an enthusiastic 2 thumbs up.

2. PLASTIC FORKS: The forks didn’t make quite as big an impact on her, but she experimented nonetheless. She dragged some paint around, smearing it with both the tines of the fork and the back of the fork. A more delicate painting technique. I’d say she gave it just one thumb up.

3. POM-POM BRUSH: I thought for sure she’d love this idea…a pom-pom on a stick to smear the paint with. Well, my clothespin didn’t hold well and she wasn’t so into the results. To be honest, she just wanted her cars back! But I think there’s potential here even though she gave it 2 thumbs down.

Now I feel inspired to hand my kids anything and everything to use as painting tools! As I lay on my couch, staring at Sommer’s newest masterpieces, I can’t help but think they may one day be protected behind a velvet rope at the Metropolitan Museum.

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Stenciled Grab-n-Go Totes: FamilyFun Test Drive

Friday, September 12th, 2014

As my kids are growing older and going to more and more “extracurricular” activities, I find that managing all the stuff is an extracurricular activity in and of itself. The idea of keeping it all together is obviously the way to go, but with limited closet and drawer space in their shared room, I haven’t found a clear way to store it all and to always know where it is.

When I came across these stenciled activity bags in the September issue of FamilyFun, one word came to mind: genius. After karate, we can put Oliver’s gi back in the karate bag, and after ballet, Sommer’s shoes and tutu can go right in. (This also doubles as a prevention tool for her wanting to wear her ballet shoes everywhere, everyday.) Best part? They are really easy to do, and pretty darn cute. Here’s how…

What you’ll need:

  • Canvas tote or drawstring bag
  • Templates or your own drawings
  • Freezer paper
  • Pencil
  • Craft knife and cutting mat
  • Iron
  • Acrylic or fabric paint
  • Sponge brush

1. First, outline the design with you pencil by pressing down pretty hard.

2. Turn the drawing over onto the non-shiny side of the freezer paper, and pencil over the line, transferring the original pencil line. (You may want to tape the template to the freezer paper to hold it in place.) Discard the original template or drawing.

3. Carefully cut out the design with the craft knife.

4. Iron the stencil onto the canvas bag using the cotton setting of your iron. You are ironing the outside area of where you cut, not the object you cut out.

5. With a sponge brush, dab paint onto the bag, inside the stenciled shape. Let dry.

6. Pull off freezer paper and voila! You too have created a genius grab-n-go activity bag for your kids!

Surf's Up Shirt
Surf's Up Shirt
Surf's Up Shirt

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