Archive for the ‘ kids ’ Category

Drip-Painted Pots: FamilyFun Test Drive

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

 

My kids are finally getting to the age when a lazy beach vacation needs planned activities—no more naps on mommy’s chest under the beach umbrella and no more satisfaction with simply sitting on the floor swatting at some random toys. We need outings, games, activities…crafts! And seriously, I couldn’t be happier with this turn of events.

But crafting on the fly isn’t always so easy—do you bring materials with you and if not, where do you buy them? How can you keep it simple and engaging at the same time? (I see a future FamilyFun magazine story here!)

Today I thrilled my kids with this really fun, painted pot project from the August issue of FamilyFun. They loved helping me buy the materials and then making a big mess of themselves!

What you’ll need:

  • Paint (tempera or acrylic)
  • Ceramic pots
  • Tape
  • Paper
  1. Cover the bottom hole inside the pot with tape so that the paint doesn’t come through.
  2. Turn pot upside down and squeeze away, letting the paint drip down the sides. 
  3. Let it dry for about 24 hours before turning it over.

You can use either tempera or acrylic paint—it all depends on what’s important to you. If washing clothes is important, go with tempera. If using the pot to plant in is important, go with acrylic, just know that it’s not as washable as tempera when dry. 

And then they wanted to paint everything in site…so we painted an egg carton, a Pringles can, sticks, our feet…it was endless fun!

Home Organization: Arts & Crafts Supplies
Home Organization: Arts & Crafts Supplies
Home Organization: Arts & Crafts Supplies

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Sea Creature Bread Snack: FamilyFun Test Drive

Friday, August 15th, 2014

There’s something about eating food that’s in the shape of something else that makes it super fun. Why is that? And especially if it has arms, legs, eyes, tentacles…that just adds to the enjoyment! I became the best mom on the block today when I served these octopus bread treats to Oliver and his friends. The original recipe in the August issue of Family Fun called for olives as eyes, but in order to win the Mom-of-the-Year award, I used chocolate chips. This is the easiest project in the world…here’s how you do it.

  1. Unroll crescent rolls onto 2 cookie sheets.
  2. On the short side of the triangle, cut 7 2″ slits. 
  3. Roll top point down towards the 8 legs. Then press your eyes of choice into the dough.

Bake them in a 350 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Et voila! Adorable, edible sea creatures!

Octopus Cupcakes
Octopus Cupcakes
Octopus Cupcakes

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Tags: | Categories: FamilyFun Test Drive, Food, Fun, kids

Plastic Bottle Bug House: FamilyFun Test Drive

Friday, August 8th, 2014

Last Sunday night at 6:30pm, my cousin-in-law Jane took Oliver and Sommer on an “adventure” walk. Which, in Brooklyn and at that hour, meant a stroll down the block. Oliver walked slowly back into the apartment 20 minutes later with his hands cupped, saying “Mommy, look, look!” He pried open his clam-shelled fingers to reveal a furry, yellow caterpillar. “His name is Kinini,” Oliver beamed.

So we poked some holes in a jar lid to make him a little make-shift hotel room to hang out in for a few hours and then took him back after the kids went to bed. (We, of course, warned them of this in advance.) So what better FamilyFun summer craft to test out this month than the Bug Inn—an easy-to-make observation station that gives kids a closer look at their insect friends.

What you’ll need:

  • Clear drink bottle
  • Craft knife
  • Window screen repair material
  • Duct tape
  • Adhesive-backed Velcro

First, cut an opening with the craft knife in the side of the bottle. If your screen is a certain size, make this hole a bit smaller than that piece of screen. This is definitely a job for an adult!

Then, cover the edges of the opening by folding over a 1-inch wide piece of duct tape. It’s okay if it’s a bit messy, it will eventually be covered up.

Next, create a duct-tape border around the piece of screen, using the same size duct-tape strip.

Then, tape one side of the window to the bottle over the opening, and put the velcro on the other side so the door stays closed. (I cut my Velcro dots in half to fit on the width of my tape frame.)

Now, it’s time to take it outside and collect sticks and leaves to make a comfy stay for our bug friends.

They each took their turn filling the bottle bug house, and then it was time to find Kinini’s brother, Shippy. I told Oliver that it would be hard to find Kinini again, but that we might run into his brother; Oliver told me his name is Shippy.

After no caterpillars were found, we settled on Kinini’s cousin, a roly poly. (He’s a little shy and hasn’t told us his name yet.) I told Oliver that Kinini and his brothers were probably napping after their lunch, so we’d come back later for a visit.

This little Bottle Bug Hotel is going to be the most desired hot-spot in the neighborhood. I might have to start charging these bugs rent!

Footnote: We talked a lot about returning our bug tenants to their homes after a few hours. I think both Sommer and Oliver understand that everyone, even bugs, likes to go home eventually!

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City-Streets Felt Craft: FamilyFun Test Drive

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

I’m sure I’ve said this before, but my 4-year-old son Oliver is of the wheel-loving variety. Cars, trucks, trains…he loves it all. When I was flipping through the June/July issue of FamilyFun and saw this felt road project, I knew this was a must-do. It’s basically 2 materials—felt and duct tape— and no drying time. Gotta love crafts that simple. The photo in the magazine had yellow roads with black lines, but I didn’t have black duct tape, so I reversed it. (They also recommend using thinner tape that you don’t have to cut, but I discovered a work-around for that! Read on…)

What you’ll need:

  • Cereal or cracker box
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Black felt
  • Yellow duct tape
  • Parchment paper

 

So the first thing to do is to measure and draw a 5″ by 5″ square onto the cardboard and cut it out.

Then, take this square and lay it on your felt to trace. You can make straight lines by just moving that cardboard piece or you can make an intersection like this one. Basically, I kept tracing and cutting until I ran out of black felt. Flip the felt over before the next step so any pencil lines are on the back.

The last step is to put the street lines on. Have you ever tried cutting duct tape? It’s a total pain in the rear—it sticks to the scissors, curls up, sticks to itself; basically, it’s a nightmare. So I came up with this quick technique. Ready? Rip off a piece of duct tape and stick it to parchment paper. Then, cut 1/4″ to 1/2″ wide strips. They peel right off and stick to the felt really well. Now it’s time to play!

Oliver and his friend Elias loved driving his cars around the streets! (Then Sommer came home from ballet, and joined in. Why not?) Bonus: It’s a great (read: lightweight), portable toy to take on trips.

Just as one extra added step, I made this little handy storage bag. I’m on a constant toy-organization rampage, and I figured it would be the easiest way to get Oliver and Sommer to put these pieces away. (It’s totally worth having a stash of these cotton bags to store small toy parts and pieces in!)

Home Organization: Organizing Toys
Home Organization: Organizing Toys
Home Organization: Organizing Toys

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Spark a Love of Good Food in Kids

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

Ask any parent what she struggles with the most and usually, at the top of the list is healthy eating. As my kids get older, I notice that involving them in the cooking process really encourages the exploration into new foods. And that first bite (or sip) is step one. All we can hope for is that one of those first bites will catch and a new flavor, food group, or, dare I say, green will get worked into our kids’ repertoire.

Finding recipes that are easy enough to do with kids as young as 3 is a bit challenging, and then you prop up the iPad, print-out, or laptop on the kitchen counter, sticky fingers create smudges, then excitement grows, and spills ensue.  A kids’ cookbook is a fun idea, for sure, but there’s something a whole lot more exciting about getting a box every month in the mail with a new recipe, a new tool, and a new activity. And that’s what you get with Kidstir, the subscription service that brings easy-to-follow, easy-to-do, and healthy kid-friendly recipes to your door. Every month. No joke.

Here’s how it works…you sign up and for $19.95 a month (you can do 3, 6, or 12 months), Kidstir sends you a box of goodies. You’ll first get the starter kit that comes with this cute, customizable 3-ring recipe binder with dividers, and then each month you’ll get more recipes, more cooking tools, and more fun activities to try with your kids. The pages are smudge-proof, easy-to-read, and adorably designed. Each kit lists the recipe’s ingredients, the kitchen skills that your child will learn, the steps, and notes to grown-up helpers with safety guidelines. And if this isn’t enough, Kidstir also has free printable downloads on their website for Honey Bee Bar Wrappers, a multiple choice breakfast in bed menu, and a cute chart that reminds kids about the importance of eating the rainbow. Again, no joke.

Oliver and I started with the simple orange drink; he loved squeezing the oranges and I’m not sure if he took a breath as he slurped down his homemade refreshment.

When I cook in the kitchen, my kids always drag their chairs over to the counter and rarely am I prepared for their “assistance.” Sommer will grab for a knife and then Oliver will shut his sister’s fingers in a drawer. It’s not a pretty sight. Now we can plan for real kid kitchen time and they can both lend a hand to making something that we all want to eat!

 

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Tags: | Categories: DIY, Everyday Fun, Food, Fun, Gifts, kids