Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Quick Summer Camp Checklist

If it’s your first time sending your little one off to camp for the summer, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed preparing for it. Just remember not to procrastinate on the packing process, because there are a lot of little things that are quite easy to forget. We would suggest you start packing at least a couple of weeks in advance, in order to give yourself a little leeway on time. The most important thing to remind yourself is that your children are not going off to stay at an all-inclusive hotel resort with room-service at their beck and call. They will be roughing it with nature, so any and all necessities you can think of will need to be added to their summer camp checklist.

We have put together a basic checklist of camp essentials your child will need for their summer away. Pair the checklist with a unique, personalized clipboard with your kid’s name, so they can take it to camp meetings. Also, it will help them not to lose the same checklist when it comes time to pack for their return home.

Since clothes and hygienic toiletries are a given, we won’t include those in the list below:

  • Sleeping Bag or Light Bedding – Whether your child is catching some Z’s in a tent or a cabin equipped with bunk beds, the camp most likely will not provide many, if any, bedding options to keep them warm at night. A sleeping bag will do the trick, and a light monogrammed blanket may serve as a reminder of home and bring comfort to them when they get a case of homesickness.
  • Swimsuit & Towels – Any summer camp will be near some sort of body of water, whether it be a swimming pool or a lake. Have them fully prepared from the cannonball in to the dripping walk out!
  • Light Sweater – Summer nights can get plenty chilly, so a light jacket or sweater will keep the shivers away.
  • Tennis Shoes & Flip Flops – Camp activities can range from anything as relaxed as arts and crafts to more vigorous activities like hiking in the woods. Consult the camp handouts and brochures, and make sure your kids have all the appropriate footwear.
  • Sunscreen – Chances are that your little ones will be out in the sun for the majority of the trip. Protect them from harmful UV rays with a broad spectrum sunscreen.
  • Insect Repellant – Itchy, throbbing, painful bites. Need we say more?
  • Reusable Water Bottle – In order to reduce litter, the camp probably doesn’t hand out drinks and water bottles all willy nilly. A reusable water bottle will keep the thirst at bay between meal times and during strenuous activities.
  • Non-electronic Entertainment/Games – One of the main reasons for summer camp – especially in this digital generation – is to get kids to step away from their electronic devices. Still, it’s impossible for the camp program to fill all hours of the day, so pack them a few non-electronic activities like board games, puzzles and cards for when boredom or restlessness approaches.

As parents, we’re sure it will be hard to let your children go – no matter how long or short the duration of the trip may be. However, don’t let the pre-camp thrill and excitement on your children’s faces fool you; many will experience homesickness, at least at one point in their trip, from the separation. Pack a family photo and some pre-stamped & addressed envelopes in preparation for this.

Most importantly, don’t worry too much and trust that this is a wonderful experience for your kids. Being on their own will be good for their personal growth, and they’ll be sure to come back with some lasting memories!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Creating a Time Capsule for Your Kids

With graduation season being in full swing, there are a number of ways to celebrate and congratulate your children. But one idea we love is creating an annual time capsule of their favorite memories for them to reminisce on once they’re much older. It’s a long-term project, but it’s one that will be well worth the effort when you see their grown-up faces light up like they were children again as they look through their past. Although creating one is fairly self-explanatory, there are a few elements you may overlook. Here’s how to create an annual graduation time capsule for your kids:

Materials needed:

  • An airtight, sealable container
  • Paint/coloring utensils
  • Construction paper/decorative materials
  • Mod podge

Decorating the time capsule will probably be the most enjoyable part for your kids, so make sure you take the time to do it together! Decorate the container with fun family photos or their names and current ages in big, bold font. The brighter and more personal you make it, the higher the likelihood it is for you to find it years later.

Items to place inside the capsule:

  • A letter from you, family members or friends
  • A letter to their future selves
  • A questionnaire they filled out about themselves or about their year
  • Drawings, artworks or crafts
  • A meaningful toy (that they wouldn’t mind letting go of)
  • Childhood trinkets
  • Souvenirs from travels
  • Graded schoolwork
  • An SD card or USB stick with digital memories: pictures, music, important news/events/pop culture of the year, etc.

The most important part about the contents of the time capsule is that your kids actually have a connection with the items you’re putting inside. It’s possible to get caught up in the project and make the memory box more of your own and what you want to remember of your kids. However, those memories may not produce the same visceral reaction in your kids as it does to you. The intended purpose is for your children to come back from their college graduation, marriage or even having kids of their own and feeling that intrinsic, instant connection with the items inside.

Possible locations:

  • Attic, basement, closet, any hidden part of your home
  • Backyard
  • In the woods or your child’s favorite outdoor play spot

While burying the time capsules outdoors provides a higher sense of mystery, it can prove problematic with animals digging it up or simply forgetting the exact spot you buried it. If you decide to go with the outdoor route, make sure you apply clear markers around the area with items like heavy rocks or ribbons on trees. If you choose to hide the time capsules in the safety of your own home, the only advice is to hide it well – where your kids cannot reach.

In an age where most of your memories can be stored digitally, creating a time capsule of real, tangible keepsakes for your child can be the most sentimental gift of all. What would your child choose to preserve for the future?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

5 Fun Spring Craft Ideas for Kids

By now, the sun should gradually be peeking through your blinds earlier and earlier. Birds should be waking you with their morning song. Depending on the climate, maybe you’ll even have the buzz of lawnmowers adding to that tune. These are all emerging signs of a new spring season, and they are also signs that your kids will become increasingly restless to exert their cooped up energy from the winter. In order to help you convert that energy into positive action, we’ve compiled a list of five exciting crafts, recipes, and activities for your kids’ enjoyment.

Birdfeeders

The warm weather attracts all types of living things to come out of their nooks and burrows; you’ll typically notice that in the number and variety of birds fluttering around regardless of where you live. Encourage your children to watch these beautiful creatures in close proximity by making do-it-yourself birdfeeders. The list of materials needed for the project is short, and making them is safe and easy enough that the children will hardly need any parental supervision. They’ll love it as if they were feeding the birds by hand! (Source)



Pretzel Nests

For once, you can tell your children that it’s perfectly fine to play with their food. With pretzels, peanut butter, honey and powdered sugar combined, you’re looking at a relatively healthy snack for your kids. But the real benefit is in the joy you’ll see on their faces as they each create their own nesting masterpiece. Grab a variety of Easter candy – like colorful peeps and chocolate eggs - at the grocery store, so the kids can customize the nests to their own liking. (Source)

Pretzel Nests


Bubble Refill Station

In most cases, you will find most of the ingredients required for this project all in the convenience of your own kitchen. We have to say that even adults appreciate the majesty of bubbles; imagine how these effervescent spheres look to your children! By filling a large container with a homemade bubble mix, you have easily whipped up a fast and easy outdoor activity to entertain them for hours. (Source)

Bubble Refill Station


Pastel Deviled Eggs

This project is a wonderful play on dyed eggs for Easter. But the reason why we love this better is because it’s a delightfully presented snack that’s already ready-to-eat! The instructions are almost exactly similar to dying shelled eggs; simply dye the yolk-removed egg whites instead. It will be sure to provide a fun and visually appealing experience from the making to the devouring! (Source)

Pastel Deviled Eggs


Egg Carton Nature Hunt

With this activity, you can give that empty egg carton from the previous project a purpose of its own. Just cut the carton in half, and let your children explore and gather some environmental tokens from their outdoor adventure. We love this activity, because it focuses attention away from technological devices to learn and experience what nature has to offer. (Source)

Egg Carton Nature Hunt


If you have any other great spring crafts for kids, share your brilliant ideas in the comments below!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

How to Plan the Best Easter Party for Kids

Easter is a great day to host a party for kids. The weather is warming up and you can have an Easter egg hunt, play games, do crafts and share some great food. The following tips will help you plan the best Easter Party your child has ever seen.

Best Easter Party for Kids


Easter Decorating

You want your house to look festive for your Easter party. Hang cutouts of colorful Easter eggs, bunnies and decorative crosses around your house. Gather some small tree branches and place them in a vase. Hang multi-colored eggs from the branches. Make it festive by spray painting the branches silver or gold. Set out some vases filled with colorful spring flowers as a reminder of renewal and rebirth.

You should plan on having an Easter Basket for each child. Line them up on the table or a buffet and they can be part of your decorations. Personalize the baskets for each child. Put their name on their baskets with stick on letters or a name tag. Items to include in their baskets include small toys or candy. Help educate your family of Jesus’s love by adding in personalized gifts. Giving Christian items such as personalized crosses or prayer plates are very appropriate for an Easter basket.

personalized crosses for kids                prayer plates for kids


Easter Party Games

The most popular game is an Easter egg hunt. Depending on the weather, you can hide plastic Easter eggs inside or outside. The following are some interesting variations on the traditional Easter egg hunt:
  • Instead of candy or prizes, put clues inside the eggs. These clues can lead to one larger prize.
  • Use multiple colors of eggs and assign each kid their own color. Give a prize to the kid who finds all their eggs first.
  • Hide some eggs with extra special prizes inside them. Mark these eggs with glitter or stickers.
Another option is to have children decorate a wooden cross. Cover it with chicken wire, and then have everyone put flowers in the holes until it if full and blooming. You can also decorate small hand held ones with whatever art supplies – glitter, sequins, feathers, old magazines, crate paper, buttons; really anything you have around the house can work.

Easter Party Menu

While a traditional Easter meal may consist of lamb and asparagus, kids may prefer a simpler menu. An egg and cheese bake can be prepared ahead of time and simply reheated for the party. French toast is popular with kids. To make it special, cut out the bread first with a bunny cookie cutter. Cinnamon rolls or hot-cross buns will go with any Easter party menu. For desert, you can serve Easter cut-out cookies or a decorated Easter cake.

Easter will be here before you know it. Start planning your party now and you will have the best Easter party ever. Let us know if you have any additional tips to add to our party planning!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

7 Lessons from Winters Olympics for Kids

While watching the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia with your family, don’t miss out on the opportunity to teach them some valuable life lessons. From the opening ceremony to the closing of the Olympics, there are many teachable moments on topics ranging from sportsmanship to world geography to health and nutrition.

Seven Lessons from Winters Olympics for Kids

Lesson #1: Sportsmanship

Sportsmanship, both bad and good, is on display in every event in the Olympics. Have your child watch for examples of good and bad sportsmanship. Do the athletes accept their victories with grace? Are they able to handle defeat with grace as well? Do they support their fellow teammates in victory and defeat? Are they able to show respect to their coaches? Ask your child how they can exhibit good sportsmanship in their everyday lives.

Lesson #2: Competition

The athletes at the Olympic Games are the best of the best. Talk to your children about the commitment necessary to compete at this level. Do internet research together to see how many hours of practice a week it takes to have a chance to make the Olympic teams. Teach your family it is important to strive to be the best but in the end, participation counts more than anything.

Lesson #3: Exercise and Nutrition

Olympic athletes must usually follow a very specific diet. They have to choose the correct balance of nutrients to help repair their muscles and fuel their body for competition. Discuss with your child the importance of following a healthy balanced diet. Encourage them to eat their vegetables and fruits by using their favorite Olympian as an example.Exercise also plays a major part in an Olympian’s life.

In addition to spending many hours a week training specifically for their sport, they also spend many hours cross training. They need to develop skill specific to their sport as well as condition their body. The Olympics expose your child to lots of different sports activities. After they are done watching the Olympics, encourage your child to get out and get some exercise.

Tip: Tiny Keepsakes has a great selection of colorful meal time plates to make this fun.

Lesson #4: World Geography

During the games, keep a world map or your tablet or laptop handy. Then your family can research all the different countries that attend the Olympics. Take a look back at the opening ceremonies or upcoming closing ones, pay attention to the different country flags and the athlete’s choice of clothing. You can also use your laptop or tablet to research the cultures and foods of different countries.

Lesson #5: Don’t Give Up

During the actual competition, the athletes might fall down on ice or snow but are quick to get up and continue with their performance. Point out how these athletes don’t give up just because they fell. Instead they get up quickly and move right back into their routine.

Lesson #6: Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help

No Olympic athlete has ever gotten to the Olympics by themselves. They all need some type of help and support. They may get help from their coaches and team mates. They may even get help and support from some of their competitors. The athletes have to know their strengths and weaknesses and be able to ask for help in overcoming their weaknesses.

Lesson #7: Strive to be Your Best

Emphasize the importance of always striving to be the best you can be. While most of us will never be Olympic athletes, it is still important to put in the time and effort to do things well. Whether you are discussing sports, hobbies or schoolwork, practice and dedication will help your child reach their full potential.

The Olympic Games showcase the best athletes in the world. Athletes from countries from around the world come together for a world class competition. There are many life lessons you and your child can learn while watching the Olympics.

Tell us your favorite life lesson from the Olympics.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

5 Best Valentine’s Day Craft Ideas for the Kids

Valentine ’s Day is just around the corner. We have compiled a list from some of our favorite bloggers for cute craft projects to get you inspired and spend a lot of quality time with your kids and family.

  1. Heart Tic Tac Toe: Create a heart-shaped tic-tac-toe game that you can play as family on game night.  (Source)


  2. I love You Message using hand and foot print: Who doesn’t love a hand written love message. Make one with your kid’s heart and foot and send it to their grandparents. We are sure they will pin it on their fridge. (Source)


  3. Heart Bookmark: A quick and easy way DIY bookmarks with paint sample cards. They will be perfect for your child’s books too. (Source)


  4. Heart Garland: This fun curtain would complement any room d├ęcor and make it more festive. (Source) 



  5. Crayon Heart Sun Catcher: Just like the dream catchers, this sun catcher is sure to capture the warmth of the sun and bring a smile to your face. (Source)

Friday, December 13, 2013

5 New Christmas Traditions For The Family

Everyone's heard, “it’s better to give than to receive,” but explaining to a child exactly why this is true can be difficult. For those of us who have found the commercialism that seems to have taken over much of the Christmas spirit troubling, starting some new family Christmas traditions can go a long way toward not only providing an explanation but also a demonstration of why giving is better than getting, especially when that giving is from the heart.


New Tradition #1: Christmas Tree for Another Family

The tried and true tradition of picking out, taking home and decorating the Christmas tree can be made even more fun this year by each family member designing a personalized ornament for another member. For an added touch, how about providing a small tree with some lights and ornaments for a family who otherwise might not be able to afford one or for a widow who may be spending Christmas alone? This can be augmented with a goodie box with some seasonal treats or taste temptations, but mostly it’s the giving to those less fortunate that’s the idea.

New Tradition #2: Christmas Concert as A Family

As the countdown to Christmas Day proceeds there are some things that you can do to heighten the excitement of the advent season and spread the cheer throughout the weeks leading up to the big day. Get the family together for a Christmas Concert staged by a local performing arts or college group. Another worthwhile Christmas tradition can be established by putting together your own singing group, learning some of the more popular Christmas Carols and walking through your neighborhood to view the different Christmas Light decorations on display while providing a bit of entertainment to your neighbors at the same time.

New Tradition #3: Treasure Hunt for Christmas Gifts

While gift giving will always be an important part of the Christmas celebration, there are some unique ways to spice up this activity to make it more enjoyable and to extend it out just a bit longer. One method to accomplishing this is to have a treasure hunt to uncover the location of one gift for each family member. This could incorporate the use a map, written clues or 20 questions. Other fun ideas include elaborately designed gift presentations or a contest to see who can come up with the most deceptively wrapped present.

New Tradition #4: Show Appreciation

Christmas traditions are what we make them and those that become traditions are the ones that are meaningful or enjoyable enough to want to do again next year. Taking some cookies to your local fire department to give to the firefighters working the holiday shift is a nice touch and a great way to let them know you appreciate all they do for us in the normal fulfillment of their duties. Pick a name from one of the local “angel” trees and give a nice gift to an underprivileged child in your area.

(Not So) New Tradition #5: Spend Quality Time with  Family

When Christmas Day arrives, you already know the kids are going to awaken at the crack of dawn to check their stockings and see what Santa’s left during his nightly rounds. Maybe a worthwhile and meaningful tradition to establish this year is to wake everyone up even earlier, get together with your coffee or hot chocolate and watch the sunrise together. Take pictures, spend some quality time together expressing what the day means to each family member and write these down in a journal to be saved and then revisited in succeeding years. This is the season of love. Create it, share it and express it to those who are important to you

We would love to hear from you. Share with us your favorite Christmas Tradition in the comments below and remember the “Reason for the Season”.