Dec 21 2010

20 Winter Activities Kids Can Do Without Parents

Inside and Out - there is fun for kids!

by: Caroline Fernandez

The phrase "Find something to DO!" often heard around households this time of year...here are 20 suggestions of activities kids can do without parents...(feel free to add your own in the comments)

  • Build a snowman
  • Make snow angels
  • Construct a snow fort
  • Board games (jenga, connect 4, monopoly)
  • Card games (go fish, memory, crazy 8s)
  • Read a book
  • Write a book
  • Have a tea party
  • Play lego
  • Decorate a cardboard box (make it a house, race car, space ship)
  • Have a play date
  • Do a treasure hunt
  • Colour
  • Dance in the living room
  • Build a blanket fort
  • Watch a movie
  • Play dress-up (superhero, animals, princess)
  • Do a puzzle
  • Listen to music or a book on cd
  • Create with play dough

  Homemade Cooked Play dough

Make this with (or without) your kids - handy to have on hand in the winter as an activity the kids can play without you.

1 cup flour
1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 cup salt
food coloring Directions:

Mix flour, warm water, cream of tartar, oil, salt and food colouring together.  Stir over medium heat (about 5 minutes), stirring constantly to ensure mixture doesn’t burn. 

When mixture forms a ball it is done.  Remove from heat. 

Place in an airtight container, store in fridge, it should last a few weeks.

Dec 13 2010

Choosing Baby Names

His name - her name

by: Caroline Fernandez

4 days until my due date and we have yet to settle on a name (we are either very laid back or very lazy).  I have friends who had baby names picked even before they were pregnant.  Us?  Well, it's #3.  Which means all the good child names are like parking spots in December - TAKEN.

We, my prince and I, come from large families where you don't repeat names (unless they are grandparents - and those are for middle name use only).   So there is a bunch of great names automatically off this list (gee thanks Sarah, Laura, Christophe and William!).

Then, we have our "big kids" chiming in on what to name their new brother or sister.  "Hannah, Lilly, Jackson, Oliver" "Troy, Gabriella, Sharpay, Ryan" - I have had to ban our baby being named after any character out of Hannah Montanna or High School Musical.

Being a multi-cultural family, baby's name has to work in English, French and Spanish.  For example: I liked Kaya - but apparently it means "shut up" in Spanish.  My prince liked Maude - but it makes me think of Bea Arthur.   Tabitha makes us both think of Bewitched.  Maya is the name of a bee in French cartoons. Names and culture are tough to mix.

And it's hard to talk to other parents about baby names because you never know what name-mine-field your walking into.  Like when I was talking with someone and mentioned that a child in DD2s dance class was called Ever. 

ME: "Who would name a child EVER?" 

The someone I was talking with: "My sister"

Geez, did I ever put my swollen pregnant foot in my mouth!  I will never, ever, comment again on original names.  Did you hear that Lucky?  Apple?  Story? My lips are zipped.

It's a hefty challenge...to find the right name...one which you will sing in rocking chairs, yell across playgrounds and cheer at soccer fields.  It just might be Thing #3.

Dec 8 2010

Easy Teacher Gift Ideas

5 Teacher gift ideas

by: Caroline Fernandez

What do I give the teacher?  I let go of the "teacher gift guilt" somewhere around 2nd grade stage when I was buying for 2 teachers, 2 teacher assistants, the secretary, the kids' BFFs and the school bus driver (though I still buy for the school bus driver - because that's a big job with little thanks).  In my world, teacher gifts were costing a fortune and a ton of crazy. 

Now, instead of thinking "What do I give the teacher?"...I ask the kids "What are YOU going to give the teacher?" - because it is their gift to a special person in their lives...not mine. 

And from my talking with teacher friends...teacher's don't need another box of chocolates. 

An easy teacher gift can be a simple, kid-made, card.  It's creative and personal.

Or making a donation in the teacher's name.  Your family could donate supplies for the classroom, a book to the school library or a $ donation to a children's charity. 

A gift card is a super, non-gendered, one-size-fits-all, easy gift to give the teacher.  And kids know what their teachers like...so ask them what kind of gift cards might be best...coffee shop?  movie theatre? building store? book store? music? restaurant?

The best teacher gift my kids ever gave (in my opinion)...a set of cards & envelopes with Canadian postage.  Sounds le boring?  no - it was le bomb in teacher gifts!

Each of the kids drew a colourful picture on an 8x11 page.  I scanned the drawings into the computer and uploaded them to a photo lab site.  Then, we had the drawings made into 4x8 greeting cards.  We left the inside of the cards blank and on the back inscribed: Made By Thing 1.  Gr. 3. and the year.  Both teachers LOVED the gifts because they were kid-made and practical. 

I think it best to stay away from food gifts (we do live in a world of food sensitivities), bottles of wine (basically a weapon, being carried by kids, on the school bus) and photo frames (because teachers don't need something else to dust). 

And really - it is a gift from student to teacher...so don't just buy willy nilly...get your kids involved!  This year, my kids "sewed" coffee cozies for their teachers.  I put 2 pieces of fabric together, cut holes around the edges and gave the kids some yarn. 

This no-sewing-needle-required activity was taken to karate class and soccer practice and while one did their sport - the other "sewed" the yarn through the pre-cut holes making the coffee cozie.  It was easy-breazy, kid-made and practical.

 So what do I give the teacher?...Easy answer: think outside the chocolate box...

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