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Keeping Family Close For Little Ones

Our older son grew up with grandparents, aunts, and uncles all within an hour of our home.  He was truly raised by a village of people!  However, before the birth of our second son, we moved four hours away from our amazing family support system.  We knew, though, how amazing those relationships with extended family were, so we came up with a way to help our younger son identify his kin as he grew older.

We took pictures of all of our relatives and printed them out on sheets of photo paper.  Then, we mounted these pictures to magnetic sheets.  Next, we cut out each individual person (I cut close to the outline of the person to make them “paper dollish”) and cut out names for labels for each person as well.  Our refrigerator and dish washer are decorated with smiling faces of family and close friends, and our sons both love to “play” with their family.  When we talk to relatives on the phone, the boys can look at that person they are talking to and make a connection with them!

Baby, Its Cold Outside!

Are you looking for a few ideas to hold your sanity in tact until warmer weather arrives?  Even if you are already seeing signs of Spring, these are great activities in ANY kind of weather!

  • Let’s go on a treasure hunt!  Hide a treasure somewhere outside, then leave a trail of colorful aquarium rocks, bread crumbs or even cereal for them to follow to find it.  If there’s snow around, the edible trail idea will be great for hungry animal-friends!  Too chilly for those little bodies?  Create a treasure hunt indoors!
  • Become a weather bug! Have your child monitor the weather each day by writing or drawing what he or she sees.  Make a journal or chart of the changes in your local weather, and see if your child can predict what might happen the next day.
  • If you are in an area still covered with snow, fill a few squirt bottles with colored water and bundle those kids up.  Have them spray the snow to create fantastic works of art right there on the ground!
  • If springtime storms are starting to make an appearance, have your child create a picture with watercolor markers on a piece of posterboard or even a paper plate.  When the rain comes, place the drawing outside and watch what happens.
  • Create an indoor snowman…make good use of those styrofoam packing peanuts be drawing an outline of a snowman on a piece of heavy paper.  Have your child glue packing peanuts all over the snowman, then embellish with spare buttons, scrap material, twigs, bottle caps or whatever goodies you have just sitting around!

Valentine Card Fun

In one short month, Valentine’s Day will be here.  Giving someone a Valentine is a wonderful way to show how much you care, and when these Valentine’s are handmade, the message is that much more special.  Here are a couple of easy homemade Valentines for your kids to make – for neighbors, friends, relatives and classmates!

  1. Cut hearts from red or pink construction paper, about the size of a 3×5 index card.  Cut two slits in the heart, large enough to slide a stick of gum (such as Big Red) through, much like Cupid’s arrow through a heart.  On the Valentine, write “I ‘chews’ you to be my Valentine” and sign it!  These are always a huge hit with friends and classmates!
  2. As in suggestion #1, cut hearts from red, purple or pink construction paper.  Cut two finger-sized holes in the lower portion of the heart (you can start a hole with a hole punch then use scissors to increase the size).  Decorate the heart with a face, wiggly eyes and cute smile, then pen a message on the back, such as, “You make my heart dance!”  Viola!  A Valentine finger puppet!

Around The Blogosphere – Holiday Activities

I came across a great little site that will be full of oodles of activities to get you in the holiday spirit.  Heather created this site for the holiday season based on our 50 Days of Summer Fun.  How fantastic is that?  Check out what Heather is coming up with this week, and check back each week for a new batch of activities!  She’s quite crafty, too, so be ready to have some creative fun!

Stepping Stones

For my Mother’s Day gift when my older son was three, he created a stepping stone in his little preschool class.  It graces our front flower bed and greets everyone as they walk to our front door.  And, it is a constant reminder of how little he used to be (and how big he is now, six years later).  Creating stepping stones is an easy project that makes a sentimental and one-of-a-kind gift.

Start with a large container, shaped as you would like your stepping stone.  Ours was created in the saucer of a large flower pot.  Old baking pans (9×9 or even large pie pans) work well, too, depending on the size of hands or feet you intend to impress into the stone.  Other materials are handy to have around as well: glass stones or large beads, pretty rocks or other items to set in the cement, perhaps a twig or other pointed object for writing in the cement should you choose to chronicle the event with a date or name.

Purchase a bag of ready-mix cement and mix enough to fill your container about 2/3 full.  Reading the directions on the package is essential, as each brand has their own instructions and setting time.  Allow the cement to set somewhat, then impress whatever objects you would like into the forming stone.  Hand prints work well as do footprints (be sure to wash right after pressing into the cement).  Let the child decorate the stone with pretty beads or other objects; don’t press them INTO the cement, though!  Let them sit on top so you can still see them.  Any writing needs to be done before the cement is completely set.

This is a simple project but is a great gift for grandparents, parents, close friends and other relatives.  Repeat it year after year to create a collection of stepping stones, chronicling your child’s growth through the year.  It is a unique and beautiful addition to any landscape!

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