Friday, March 30, 2012

Be Back Soon!


Hi Friends! I hope you'll excuse me as I take off the next week. I've got a busy week ahead of me, so to relieve myself of a bit of stress, I'm going to take a brief blogging break. I'll be back here in a week, hopefully much less stressed and much more relaxed.


If you're looking for good ideas, you can always check out my archives! Plus, the first edition of my monthly newsletter will go out on Sunday. If you haven't signed up yet, you can sign up below!



Kid's Co-op


It's Friday and you know what that means? It's time for the Kids Co-op! Link-up your favorite kid-related post and make sure and check out all the fun that has been linked up from other bloggers!

Since Easter is coming up soon, I thought I would share three of my favorite posts from the 175 posts that were linked up last week. (Yep, you heard that right 175 awesome ideas!)

B.Inspired Mama got the kids in the kitchen and made these adorable Easter Bunny Pretzel Treats. Yum!


Happy Hooligans made the cutest Easter chicks and nests from empty cardboard tubes.


Creative Connections for Kids has some great ideas for activities that use all those plastic eggs.

Now it's your turn to share! Please join up and share your favorite post. (And, we'd love you forever if you'd link back to us!) Your link will show up on all of the hosts blogs. It's time to link up, visit some new blogs, and have a lot of fun! 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

10 Ways to Keep Kids Occupied While You Cook Dinner


I know I'm not the only one who's struggled with trying to keep the kids busy so they're not underfoot while I'm making dinner. I'll admit that I've turned the TV on more times than I would like just so I wouldn't have to worry about splattering oil or sharp knives. (Why yes, I am terrified of dropping a knife on their head... probably won't happen, but it can stress me out nonetheless!)

So, for your benefit (and mine too), I've gathered 10 activities that are easy, self-directed and require little supervision (if any). Hopefully, you'll find something to make dinner prep a little less stressful!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Owl Masks


While learning about birds, there was no way we could forget the owl. Plus, the girls love just about any excuse to run around the house "hoo-hooing" at the top of their lungs. To encourage a bit of owl play, we got out our supply of paper plates and made a couple of owl masks.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Daily Buzz Moms 9x9 Spring Fever!


I'm thrilled to be writing this post as part of the Daily Buzz Moms 9x9: Spring Fever. When I think of spring I think of flowers, birds, warm breezes and new warmth. Lizzie and I set out to capture that feeling by creating our own indoor garden. Not only did we want to create a beautiful garden, we also planned on making it all from items that were in our recycle bin.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Textured Eagles

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more details.


During our bird week, we wanted to make sure we talked about one of our favorite and one of the most impressive birds, the bald eagle. We found a wonderful book about eagles at our library, Soaring with the Wind: The Bald Eagle by Gail Gibbons. After learning all we could about the bald eagle, we decided to make a couple of our own. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Weekends: How to Sew a Button

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more details.


After having the book How to Sew a Button: And Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew by Erin Bried on my "To Read" list for over a year, I decided it was finally time to pick it up. I do know how to sew a button, but I knew there are many bits of wisdom that our grandmothers knew that have been forgotten in these modern days. After realizing she was losing her ability to take care of herself, Erin Bried turned to 10 women from all over the United States. Through this interview process, Erin compiled over 100 bits of wisdom from how to carve a roasted bird to how to wear red lipstick. The information is useful and told with a humor sure to appeal to our modern times.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Kid's Co-op


It's Friday and you know what that means? It's time for the Kids Co-op! Link-up your favorite kid-related post and make sure and check out all the fun that has been linked up from other bloggers!


Here are a few of my favorite posts from last week. Make sure and pay them a visit!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

10 Ways to Learn About Birds


We've been enjoying our time learning about birds this week. Birds are all around and fun to learn about. They're fascinating and so different from me or you, or even the family dog. If your kids are interested in birds, I've compiled 10 fun ways to help your kids learn about birds.

1. Observe birds. We are fortunate to have been able to visit the National Eagle Center and observe eagles up close. Through observation, we've learned size, color, sound and the impressive wing span of an eagle. Unfortunately, it's not always practical to be able to observe birds at a location devoted to them. Luckily, birds are everywhere! Take a trip to a local lake, river, or hiking trail. Or, even better, just walk out into your own backyard. Having Fun at Home shares a creative way to observe and keep track of the birds that visit their backyard.


2. Listen to birds. While you're observing, use your ears. What do birds sound like? Can you identify a bird by it's call? ENature.com has an amazing collection of bird calls that you can listen to for free. Listen to all the different calls. Amazing, isn't it?


3. Feed the birds. Learn about the different food that birds eat and create a bird-friendly yard. We made Cheerio bird feeders and Glittering Muffins made simple bird feeders out of cardboard tubes. You could also use this recipe for bird cakes from Red Ted Arts. (I found many, many wonderful ways to feed birds. Please check my Birds Pinterest Board for all the great ideas!)



4. Read a book about birds. There are many books written for kids about birds. You should be able to find one at any age level. We've enjoyed A Nest Full of Eggs by Priscilla Belz JenkinsThe Bird Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta, and About Birds: A Guide for Children by Cathryn Sill. Your local library is sure to have a collection of bird books for children.

5. Learn about nests. We were recently able to study a real bird's nest. But, if you don't have one, you can make your own! Sun Hats and Wellie Boots made nests from mud and twigs. Mommy & Me Book Club made large nests from branches and twigs. Get hands on and learn how a nest is put together.


6. Help a bird build a nest. While you won't actually be able to work side-by-side with a bird, you can provide them with materials to help build their nests. Paint Cut Paste shows you how to make fun nest zests and Inner Child Fun shows you how to make colorful bird nesters. Learn about the materials used to build a nest and help the birds at the same time.

7. Learn about feathers. If you can, find a feather to examine. Feel how light it is. Fun your fingers along the side and feel the texture. Have some fun with the feathers and paint with them like this example from Mommy and Me Book Club. You can also try your hand at creating feathers, like we did with these peacock feathers or our feather stencils


8. Learn to identify birds. What characteristics do you need to observe in order to determine the type of bird. Find a good bird book and learn about all the different types of birds that live around you. Inner Child Fun created this simple backyard field guide for an inexpensive, child-friendly option.

9. Get active! Learn about birds through active play. Flap your arms like a bird. Can you feel the breeze it makes? Pretend to glide through the air or land on a branch. Help your kids learn about birds and burn off some energy at the same time.

10. Do a bird craft. Do a quick search for birds on Pinterest and you're sure to find many ideas. We made these cute collage owls. Toddler Approved made cute chicks using tape. Dilly-Dali Art made fun light bulb birds. Creativity My Passion made colorful birds from recycled tissue boxes. And this is just the tip of the iceberg or fun bird crafts! (Again, you can check my Birds Pinterest Board for more fun bird crafts.)


*Bonus Activity: You're never to young to learn about birds! The Educators' Spin On It shares some wonderful ways to introduce babies to the natural world and the wonders of birds.

What is your favorite way to learn about birds?

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Linking up to The Sunday Showcase and It's Playtime  


If it is your first time visiting Creative Family Fun, and you like what you have found, please follow the fun via our Facebook page.  You'll find even more fun ideas and great conversation!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Art Lessons: Creating Feathers


Since we are learning about birds this week, I thought it would be fun to make some pretty artwork with feathers. Feathers are both beautiful and easy to draw, so I hoped the girls would have a fun experience creating them.


In order to help them out, I cut stencils from an empty cereal box. I cut basic feather shapes in several different sizes, so they could cover their paper with unique feathers. We used oil pastels on black construction paper. But, if you don't have oil pastels, crayons would also work well. (I would use a lighter color of paper if using crayons.)


I showed the girls how to use the stencils and instead of instructing, I worked alongside them. AJ used her stencils and scribbled a few lines inside each, which is how she does all her artwork. She creates scribbles in as many colors as possible! 


Lizzie watched me carefully and noticed that instead of coloring my feathers all one color, I was using different colors. The more she worked, the more creative she got. I love her multicolored feathers!



This was an easy project to set up and a nice way to create a beautiful picture!
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If it is your first time visiting Creative Family Fun, and you like what you have found, please follow the fun via our Facebook page.  You'll find even more fun ideas and great conversation!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Exploring Nature: Bird's Nest


This past fall, we discovered a bird had built a nest in our garage on top of the garage door opener. It had been abandoned at some point (probably when the poor birds realized just how loud a garage door can be). We pulled it down, showed the girls, then it was placed in a plastic bin and forgotten about. When Lizzie requested that we spend this week learning about birds, I happened to spot the nest again. Perfect! I got out the nest, took it outside, and we started exploring.


We found the perfect book at the library to help us learn about this nest of ours, A Nest Full of Eggs by Priscilla Belz Jenkins. The book was written for young children and my preschool-aged child easily understood and enjoyed this book. We learned about how birds make nests, lay their eggs, how birds grow from egg to adult, and the different kinds of nests birds build.   



While we were reading, we examined the nest. We looked closely to see what materials the bird used to build this nest and came to the conclusion that the bird must have gathered a lot of materials for a nearby farm. We each held on to a side and tried tugging. We learned how strong a bird's nest is since it didn't come apart at all. 



We felt inside and discovered how soft it is. We decided it would be a very comfortable spot for an egg to rest. I know that my girls learned a lot through our bird's nest exploration. We had fun, asked questions, drew our own conclusions, and now how more knowledge of the natural world we live in.


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Linking up to Tuesday Tots, Read.Explore.Learn, Show & Share Saturday, and It's Playtime 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Weekends: Exercise Outdoors


Spring came early this year, so I decided it was the perfect time to bring my exercise outdoors. Heck, maybe that will even motivate me to exercise! I don't know about you, but it's always a much more pleasant experience to bring my work out outdoors.


An article by Fitness Magazine states that "being outdoors, among nature, will boost your mood and your mental well-being." And, why not? A nice breeze, sunlight, and the soothing sounds of nature always boosts my mood. But, not only does being outside improve your mood, it can provide an additional health benefit by helping your body produce more vitamin D. According to Medical News Today, vitamin D is an immune system regulator, may help keep the brain working well in later life, may be linked to maintaining healthy weight, and may lower the risk of developing cancer. They also list several other benefits. So, get outside! Not only is is fun, but it's good for you too.


So what kind of exercise can you do outside? Well, just about anything. I personally enjoy a nice walk, but others enjoy running, yoga, cycling, swimming, or hiking.  Step off that treadmill and go outside instead. You won't regret it!



What's your favorite way to exercise outside?


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Friday, March 16, 2012

Kid's Co-op


It's Friday and you know what that means? It's time for the Kids Co-op! Link-up your favorite kid-related post and make sure and check out all the fun that has been linked up from other bloggers!

Here are a few of my favorite posts from last week. Make sure and pay them a visit!

Inspired by the book, We're Going On a Bear Hunt, My Little Happies went on their own bear hunt.

  
 Mama's Little Muse learned about basic color theory with these fun cd color spinners.


Sun Hats & Wellie Boots had fun in the bath with a bit of bath time light play.


Now it's your turn to share! Please join up and share your favorite post. (And, we'd love you forever if you'd link back to us!) Your link will show up on all of the hosts blogs. It's time to link up, visit some new blogs, and have a lot of fun! 


Thursday, March 15, 2012

10 Ways to Explore Dramatic Play



Dramatic play (or pretend play) provides many benefits to your child. According to an article on Scholastic Parents, The Importance of Pretend Play, pretend play helps with cognitive development in such areas as social and emotional skills, language skills, and thinking skills. And, in additional to all the wonderful benefits, dramatic play is something most kids enjoy!


Here are ten ways to explore dramatic play:


1. Act out a book. Pick a familiar story and have kids act it out. My girls love to act out the Three Little Pigs. Ready, Set, Read provides a basket full of props to help act out classic fairy tales. She includes several examples of baskets she's created. You can see how Angelique Felix led a group of kids in acting out the book, We're Going On a Bear Hunt. (She also included a video you need to check out!)


2. Provide a fun pretend play set-up. I set up a snack bar for my girls to play with. We also set up a jewelry store. The possibilities for this sort of play are endless. Think about your child's current interests. Do they love to help you in the kitchen? Then, set up a pretend-play kitchen area. Do they love to play doctor? Then, set up a hospital or a vet clinic. De Tout et de Rien has many good ideas for this. Check out their paper blood transfusion set-up. (Just a note, De Tout et de Rien is written in French, but please do not let that deter you. She has installed a translator for your benefit!)




3. Make puppets. Puppets are both fun to make and fun to play with. The Nature of Grace shows you how to make easy wooden spoon family puppets and even provides ideas for how to use them. You can also find a wealth of puppet ideas at The Chocolate Muffin Tree with a wonderful roundup of 18 different puppet ideas


4. Play dress-up. It's easy to lose yourself in dramatic play when you're dressed for the part. You can find inexpensive items for dress-up at a thrift store or even go through your closet. There may be clothes hanging in there that you no longer wear, but would be perfect for dress-up play. Dinosaurs and Octopuses wrote a wonderful post with plenty of ideas for dress-up items.


5. Combine sensory play and pretend play. It will make the pretend play seem just a bit more realistic! Use dirt and construction toys to bring a construction site to life. We brought in snow, made a few ice blocks and created an Antarctica scene. The Golden Gleam used Epsom salt as snow to act out the book Katy and the Big Snow.



6. Have fun with small world play. Help you kids set up a scene for small toys or dolls to play in. They can experience and learn with dramatic play on a small scale. Creative With Kids set up a pretend party scene for their monkeys in a barrel. At Home with Ali made a fun miniature campsite

7. Use music. There are many songs that are perfect for acting out. Use a song with actions or one that tells a story. She'll Be Coming Around the Mountain is a favorite at our house. (Here's a great video that shows the combination of singing plus actions for a fun dramatic play experience.) Encourage you're children to sing, dance and do actions. Make sure you join in and have fun!

8. Make and use masks. It's easy to pretend you're someone or something else when you put on a mask. We love to make masks and and transformed ourselves into both tigers and panda bears. It's always a fun way to spend a day. 


9. Use blocks and loose parts to set the scene. Will your children build roads or a castle? Either way they're setting up a scene that will provide hours of pretend play. Brick by Brick has many good examples of this. Here they made a zoo. And here they added tools to the block area to create a construction site experience. 

10. Above all else, make it accessible and easy for your kids to enjoy dramatic play. Put the dress up clothes where your kids can get to them whenever it strikes their fancy. Have a box of loose parts always available so they can create and pretend. Dinosaurs and Octopuses has a wonderful example of a dress-up corner that's easy to put together and doesn't take up much room. 

*Bonus Activity: Go outside! My girls have so much fun with dramatic play outdoors. It's so easy to grab a stick and turn it into a magic wand. They've traveled to the moon, through a forest, and even to a magical fairy-tale kingdom without even leaving our backyard. 


What is your kid's favorite form of dramatic play?


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Linking up to It's Playtime, Fun Stuff Fridays, The Sunday Showcase, Show & Share Saturday, Link & Learn, and the TGIF Linky Party  


If it is your first time visiting Creative Family Fun, and you like what you have found, please follow the fun via our Facebook page.  You'll find even more fun ideas and great conversation!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Introducing a New Monthly Newsletter

I'd like to introduce a new feature here at Creative Family Fun, the monthly newsletter! I'll be sending the newsletter out at the beginning of every month, starting April 1st.



What can you expect to find?

  • I'll feature my two most popular post of the month as well as my favorite post from the previous month.
  • I'll include a fun activity for your kids *This is exclusive to newsletter subscribers; it will not be featured on the blog.
  • I'll let you know about any challenges, link-ups, or any other fun that will hosted at my blog or other fun kid blogs in the coming month.
  • I'll share one of my favorite inspirational quotes.
  • I'll feature a favorite blog, so maybe you can find a new place for fun ideas and inspiration.
  • I'll also feature an idea for a Creative Family Fun Night. This is something fun for the entire family! *This is exclusive to newsletter subscribers; it will not be featured on the blog.
Please sign up on the form below if you are interested! Remember, if you don't enjoy the newsletter, you will have the ability to unsubscribe at any time. I won't use any of the e-mail addresses submitted for anything other than sending the monthly newsletter.

I hope you join me!






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Will It Float? Making Boats


Yesterday, Lizzie looked up at me and said, "Mom, I want to make a speed boat. One with a window on the front." Well, okay... let's get started!

Keep in mind that unlike most of my other projects, this time I had no plan whatsoever going into this. We were winging it, but we were up to the challenge. We dug through our recycled parts and came up with an empty toilet paper tube. Was it lightweight? Check. Will it float? I hope so.


The next challenge was waterproofing. Certainly we could just try to float the cardboard, but it was thin cardboard and would get soggy quick. Also, we were making a speedboat, so shiny and flashy seemed perfect. So we got out the aluminum foil and covered the tube. We had already cut the tube so that it would open up and lay flat(ish). It still had a bit of a curve to it, which worked in our favor. 


After it was covered, we taped down the loose ends. Then we started bending. We started with a sharp crease in the middle for a small "v" to imitate the bottom of a speed boat. We bent the cardboard more to make a flat bottom and curved sides.


Now it was time for the window. Lizzie wouldn't let me forget the window. We cut a thin strip off another tube, flattened it a bit and covered it in plastic wrap. We then taped it to the front of our boat.

It was time to test out our boat! Did we do it? Lizzie filled the sink with water and carefully put her boat in. Guess what? We did it! It floated! Success!


A few final thoughts:
In hindsight, we should have bent up the front and back of the boat to keep water from seeping into the boat. Also, despite out best efforts, the cardboard did end up getting soggy (after a lot of play). But, all in all, I would consider this experiment a success. We started with nothing and with a bit of problem solving, we ended up with a speed boat. Isn't that what learning is all about?

Have you ever just run with a wild idea your kid had? I'd love to hear about it!


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Linking up to It's Playtime