Sunday, December 30, 2012

Most Popular Posts of 2012

It's always fascinating for me to go back and see which of my posts YOU liked the best. Each and every one of these posts was packed full of ideas, so in a way you're getting a bonus. Inside of these 10 most popular posts, you'll be getting hundreds of ideas for family fun! So here they are, from 10 to 1.

10. 10 Ways to Bring a Book to Life: In this post, you'll find 10 fun ideas to add a little something extra to the books you read from using props to having a book-inspired meal.
9. Summer Bucket List: Inspiration Roundup: Here is a list of all the information I used when creating our 2012 Summer Bucket List.
8. 10 Ways to Have Fun With Math: Math doesn't have to be boring! Here are 10 hands-on ways to have fun while learning basic math skills. 
7. 10 Ways to Have Fun on a Walk: Walks are a fun way to spend time together as a family. So in case you want to add a little variety to your neighborhood walk, here are 10 fun things to do on a walk.
6. Summer Bucket List: Our 2012 List: Here is is, our 2012 Summer Bucket List. We kept things simple by only listing 20 fun things we wanted to do this past summer and we accomplished all but two! 
5. 10 Ways to Keep Your Kids Occupied While You're Cooking Dinner: It can be hard to cook dinner with kids underfoot. Here are 10 activities that are easy, self-directed and require little supervision (if any).
4. 10 Ways to Create with Cardboard Tubes: One of our favorite supplies to craft with is an empty cardboard tube. Here are 10 fun things to create with the cardboard tube.
3. 100 Ideas for Your Fall Bucket List: Fall bucket lists are just about as popular as summer bucket lists. In this post, I've provided 100 ideas for fall fun.
2. 10 Things to Do When You're Stuck Indoors: The kids are stir crazy and you're desperate to find a fun activity for everyone to do. Here are 10 fun things to do when circumstances are keeping you inside.
1. 200 Fun Ideas for Your Summer Bucket List:  This was far and away my most popular post of the year. Check out these 200 ideas for summer fun!

I hope you enjoyed this look back at 2012. Thank you for joining me in this journey and I hope you stick around as we have fun in 2013 celebrating family and creativity!

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Simple Ideas for Holiday Family Fun

Merry Christmas! Posting has been slow around here lately as I've been enjoying the holiday season. I love this time of year so much and want to spend plenty of time enjoying the simple pleasures of Christmas. But, I did want to post one last time before I signed off for Christmas and New Years. I encourage you to do the same. Spend time with your family. Enjoy the season. Here are 10 simple ways to spend time together as a family over the holidays.
  1. Gather round and go through your Christmas cards together. Tell stories about your family and friends to help your children get to know them better.
  2. Put the kids in their pj's (you can wear some too) and drive around to look at Christmas lights. 
  3. Settle in with mugs of hot chocolate and a pile of Christmas books. Have a family read-aloud night.
  4. Sing carols together. Have your little musicians accompany the family with some homemade jingle bell shakers. (You can find the instructions here at Daria Music.)
  5. Bundle up and go for a winter evening walk. Look at all the holiday decorations in your neighborhood. Use the time to appreciate the sights and sounds of nature.
  6. Bake Christmas cookies. Pick out a fun new recipe, buy the ingredients, and spend time in the kitchen together.
  7. Have a board game night. Pick a few favorite games and spend the evening playing. Younger children can team up with a parent or older sibling if needed.
  8. Brainstorm your New Year's resolutions together. Or, just talk about your hopes and plans for the new year. Is there anything you can do together as a family?
  9. Spend an evening doing family interviews. Consider making it a family tradition.
  10. Play charades! It's an old-fashioned game that has stood that test of time. And it's no wonder, it's fun to play.

What are some of your favorite holiday family activities?

See you back here after New Years Day!

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Hearts to Newtown Project

Today, many blogs are taking a day of silence to honor the victims of Newtown. I had planned on doing the same until a read a post on The Mary Frances Project late last night and found out about the Hearts to Newtown project. So instead, I want to tell you about the project and how to participate.

The premise is simple. Have your children make a heart to honor Newtown. Here are the words from their Facebook page, "We just want to fill the walls of the school, the Newtown library, city hall, the hospital with reminders that children from all over the country are with them. Have your child draw a picture on a heart piece of paper of something "happy or good," include their name, age, and state, and send it to: Include your school, scout troop, baseball team or church in the effort!" 

Cut your heart from a standard 8-1/2 x 11-inch paper. If your children are too young to know about the tragedy, just have them decorate the heart with happy things. Include your child's first name, age, and state. 

Once completed you can send your hearts to: P.O. Box 754 Bethel, CT 06801

For more information, you can visit the Hearts to Newtown Facebook page.

Please join me in honoring the victims of Newtown.

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

10 Ways to Play This Weekend: Week 20

After Friday's tragedy in Connecticut, I debated whether or not to post my usual weekend post. But then it occurred to me that this post is all about connecting. It's a way for me to share good ideas I find from others and it's full of ways that you and I can use to spend time together as a family. I'm sure many of us are craving family time this weekend. So go, play, and enjoy each other.
  1. Make the biggest snowflake ever with Mama Scout
  2. Do some simple candy cane science with Teach Preschool
  3. Make salt dough coasters to give as gifts with Rainy Day Mum
  4. Play some fun Christmas word games - Mad Libs style.
  5. Make beautiful glitter star ornaments with The Artful Parent
  6. Make yummy peppermint bark with the Brown Eyed Baker
  7. Play Christmas Carol Charades with Inspired by Family Magazine
  8. Make pretty icicle ornaments with Happy Hooligans
  9. Make Hugs Pretzel Sandwiches with Mess for Less
  10. Learn a new Christmas song with Angelique Felix - The Magic of Play
How are you going to play this weekend?

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Cards for Faraway Family & Friends

I'm so happy to be participating in the Creative Christmas Countdown this year. Each day until the 24th, all of my favorite bloggers will be sharing a fun & simple Christmas activity. Be sure to check the official Creative Christmas Countdown page for all the previous activities and you can keep up with the rest of the countdown.

We have a lot of family and friends that live far away. Unfortunately we never get to see everyone we love during the holiday season, so this year we're going to send some love their way.

We started with the camera. I took several pictures of the girls blowing kisses. I had hopes of getting the girls together in a picture, but sometimes that can be an impossible task! Once I had a couple of pictures I loved, I used PicMonkey to add the text. PicMonkey is a free, easy-to-use, web-based picture editing program. You just upload your picture, edit, and then save to your computer. Easy-peasy. 

I printed the pictures out and trimmed them to fit inside my blank cards. I cut some pieces 8-1/2x11" card stock in half and then folded them to make the cards. We glued down the photos and got to work decorating the outside of the cards. We used stickers and markers, but anything would work.  

Now, we're all set to send a bit of Christmas cheer for all of our faraway friends and family! We'll be sending our love in our own special way.

I hope you're enjoying the Creative Christmas Countdown! Don't forget to follow along and catch up with all of the other fun & simple ideas that have been shared already.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Creative Family Fun Nights: Frosty the Snowman

One of our favorite Christmas movies is Frosty the Snowman, so I thought it would be fun to create a family night based around Frosty. You can fill your night with crafts, books, movies, and a special treat all based on that lovable Snowman. Today I'm sharing microwave puff paint snowmen, snowman hot chocolate, and a few snowman book suggestions. I hope this will help you have your own Frosty the Snowman family night.

Microwave Puff Paint Snowmen
White and black puff paint (I used the recipe found on Teach Preschool)
Paint brushes
Card stock or cardboard

I made up a batch of the puff paint that I found on Teach Preschool. Deborah's recipe makes a lot, so if you're doing this for your family, you will want to halve the recipe. I only made white and black, but you can make any color you want by using food coloring. I also cut my card stock in half so it would go in the microwave easier.

Our plan was to paint a few snowman masterpieces. The girls loved playing with the goopy paint. It was fun to paint a little sloppy and to experiment with dripping the paint (the paint is really thick!) Once we were done, we popped the pictures in the microwave one by one. It was fun to watch the paint harden and puff while in the microwave. Our pictures only took about 20 seconds each in our high-powered microwave. Watch your pictures carefully, you can tell it's done when your card stock starts curling up on the end. You can see the fun three-dimensional effect you can get once they're done! Oh, and one other tip, make sure and wash out your paint brushes immediately after painting. At that point, they're very easy to clean. But, if you wait, the paint will harden on the brushes making it terribly hard to clean.

Snowman Books:
We read one of my old Little Golden Books, Frosty the Snowman. I know this book is not available unless you happen across one in a thrift store. But, don't worry, any book about snowmen would work. Here are a few suggestions:
In addition to the books, watching the original Frosty the Snowman would be a great way to end the evening.

Snowman Hot Chocolate
We couldn't have a Frosty the Snowman night without a special treat, so I whipped up these simple mugs of snowman hot chocolate. I simply used instant hot chocolate with plenty of whipped cream squirted on the top. To make the face, I used miniature chocolate chips. It was that easy and everyone loved them!

If you want another special treat, check out these snowman pancakes that Glittering Muffins made.

Now it's time to plan a fun family night to celebrate the season. What snowman activities would you add?

If you enjoy these Creative Family Fun Nights, please feel free to request to join my new Google+ Community!

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*Disclosure - All Amazon links are affiliate links. I earn a small percentage of any purchase made through these links. Thank you for your support!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Let's Play Over at Google+

Are you on Google+ yet? I'll admit that I was very resistant at first. It seemed like just one more thing to suck away my time. But then, late last week, Google went and added something that managed to convince me to spend more time there: Communities!

What are communities? They're small groups (or large if you're so inclined) that are designed for discussion and sharing. It sounds a bit like Facebook, I know, but there are some advantages I'd like to try to use. I can create categories. So if you're looking for posts about Exploring Nature, you can more easily find it. With Facebook, it's hard to find anything except the most recent posts. Also, unlike Facebook, you will be able to see EVERYTHING I share, instead of just what Facebook wants you to see. Also (and I'll admit I'm a bit scared to try this), we can have live on-air hangouts. Woot!

Won't you join me there? I'm not abandoning Facebook, just adding a new dimension to Creative Family Fun. Let's make Google+ the place to be!

Click here to join the Creative Family Fun Community! This will be a direct extension of the blog. You'll find all the same sort of content and more.

Click here to join the Creative Family Fun Nights Community! This is a place dedicated to family nights. We'll share ideas from the best family board games to creative ideas for family nights. You'll have to request to join this community, but don't worry, I'll approve you.

Come join me and let's have fun!

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

DIY Scratch Art Christmas Ornaments

Every year, we make tons of homemade ornaments for our tree. One of our choices this year, were these fun scratch art ornaments. I had to do a lot more prep ahead of time for this project, but the results were worthwhile.

To begin, I cut a selection of circles. I used a couple of different sized circle punches to make life easier on me. If you don't have punches, just use some drinking glasses as a stencil.

Next, I used our oil pastels to make colorful designs on the circles. You can also use crayons, though you will want to color darkly. I prefer using the oil pastels because they go on so much thicker than crayons.

Finally, you'll want to color over your designs with a thick coat of black. When you're done, it's time to scratch! We used a toothpick to gently scratch our designs on the ornaments. Some were well planned out and others were random and fun. When all were done, we punched a hole in the top, strung some string through the hole and hung them on our tree.

Scratch art is fun and you don't have to buy a specialized kit to experience it. Not only were these a fun afternoon project, but they would also be an easy and inexpensive stocking stuffing. Just bundle a few pre-made ornaments with a few scratchers in a pretty package. What a fun thing to find in a Christmas stocking!

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Around the World in 12 Dishes: Morocco

When Around the World in 12 Dishes whisked us away to Morocco this month, the girls and I decided to spend out time in the markets of Marrakech. We watched a short video on National Geographic Kids and looked at their slideshow. We talked about all the different things you could find at the markets, such as clothing, leather, olives, tea, dried fruits & nuts, and carpets.

I was very fortunate to have found a book at our local public library that was set in the markets of Marrakech, My Father's Shop by Satomi Ichikawa. In this book, Mustafa, who always admired the beautiful carpets in his father's shop, asked his father if he could have the rug with the hole in it. His father agrees to give Mustafa the carpet only if he agrees to learn some of the foreign languages that were important to their trade. We learned, along with Mustafa, of the importance of being able to communicate with people from all over the world.

To go along with the book, we created out own rugs similar to the ones we imagined Mustafa's father sold in his shop. We used construction paper and our markers to create the designs on the rug. I joined along this time instead of just observing the process. After we had our designs, we used our scissors to cut a fringe along the two short sides of our "rugs."

By now, I'm sure you're wondering about the food. Well, this month, we skipped the food and went for the craft instead. While browsing recipes, I couldn't find anything that I thought the family would like, let alone try. We love some of the individual ingredients, but when combined together, I knew I would be hard pressed to get anyone to try a bite. Since this is supposed to be a fun project, I didn't want to add that kind of stress to it. If you have any suggestions for a kid-friendly Moroccan meal, let me know. I'm still willing to give it a try!

Even minus the food, we still had a great experience imagining ourselves as rug sellers deep in the markets of Marrakech. 

Welcome to "Around The World in 12 Dishes". We will be taking you on a journey around the world, (loosely) following in Phileas Fogg's footsteps, exploring 12 different countries with our children, by cooking 12 dishes with them. One for each country visited.

The world is such a wonderfully diverse and colorful place. Our children see maps, flags and books. They see postcards and maybe they see films about the world.. but let's really bring it to life through food! Taste and smell don't often get explored, we think this would be wonderfully fun and interesting for you and your children.

Not only is it an exciting and different way to learn about cultures, but cooking with children brings a host of benefits - from numeracy to science. How can you beat that?

Adventures In Mommydom, Creative Family Fun, Domestic Goddesque, Glittering Muffins, Here Come The Girls, Juggling with Kids, Kid World Citizen, Kitchen Counter Chronicles, Mermaids' Makings, Montessori Tidbits, Mummymummymum and The Educators' Spin On It have come together to help you on your food journey and will each cook a dish with our children and post about it - to help inspire you to have a go! Then go out there, cook, blog, and join in the linky fun! Check out the other great posts as well!

Around the World in 12 Dishes

We had started our journey the same way Phileas Fogg did in London, UK, and now are arriving in Rabat, capital of Morocco!

How to join the fun!

  • The only mandatory part is the dish, the rest is all up to you, we just thought it would be fun and more concrete to the kids as to why we are making a unusual dish.
  • Cook a dish from Morocco: The goal is to explore this country through FOOD and activities if you wish. Make a typical dish (sweet or savoury) from the country with the kids, take photos and have fun!
  • Typical dishes: Tajine, Briouat, Kefta, Merguez or Ma'amoul.
  • Print your passport: Click here to download, comes with space for a photo of the child with the dish. Here is a little cover for it if you wish :)
  • Color a placemat: Once colored/painted or whatever other way you want to do this, you can laminate it or put it between clear contact paper to use it over and over. Great conversation piece for you and your kids. Click here to download it.
  • Make a craft: you can make a country related craft with the kids [optional!]
  • Fun fact: Even though the official language is Arabic, Moroccan Arabic is so different that someone from, for example, Saudi-Arabia will hardly be able to understand.
  • Share with us: Our Morocco challenge starts on November 2nd and will remain open for a year, so attach a link to your blog to enter the linky party or go to the comment section and post a photo together with what you did together with your child(ren).
  • Pinterest: We will add your photos to a "Around the World in 12 Dishes" Pinterest Boards (one for the dishes, one for the crafts) you will be a great source of inspiration for everyone :)
  • Are you a blogger? Let your fans know about the challenge and grab our cute lil’ button to share it on your blog.

Around the World in 12 Dishes
<a href=" " target="_blank"><img src=" " alt="Around the world in 12 Dishes" width="125" height="125" /></a>

If you do this, we’d LOVE to see a photo of it. Email it to us or post it on our Facebook page. We’d love to do a Facebook album, a Pinterest board and a page of your creations :)
Please link up your Moroccan dish and/or craft in our linky below, we would love to see it!

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Monday, December 3, 2012

10 Kid-Made Christmas Cards

This year, we paring down our Christmas card list and sending out some handmade fun. I'm planning on letting the girls get in on the fun and make the cards themselves. While searching for ideas, I found these 10 fabulous kid-made card ideas. 

  1. Use your kid's fingerprints to make wreaths like these adorable cards shared on Hands On: As We Grow.
  2. You can also turn those cute little fingerprints into Rudolph. Make and Takes show you how.
  3. Blog Me Mom used salt and glitter to make some sparkly hand print holiday cards.
  4. Mudpies & Sunshine shows you how use paper strips and cork stamps to make beautiful Christmas trees.
  5. Last year, we turned tissue paper collages into Christmas trees for some special holiday greetings.
  6. Mermaids' Makings shows you how to use corrugated cardboard as Christmas tree stamps. They turned out so beautiful! 
  7. You've got two choices to check out at CraftoArt Creativity My Passion, folded Christmas tree cards and folded Santa Hat cards.
  8. Red Ted Art turned photos of the kids into adorable Rudolph cards. You have to check these out!
  9. At Home with Ali created beautiful cards with paper snowflakes and watercolors. They are stunning.
  10. Finally, Dilly-Dali Art shares 6 ideas for homemade Christmas cards. Yep, I said six! You'll find paper strip ornaments, glue yarn snowflakes, and 4 more fantastic ideas. She even shows you how to make your own envelopes to put all of those cards in.
So, you tell me, which cards should we make and send out for family and friends?

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