Top Fun Picks for Labor Day at Home with Kids

The first Monday in September is almost upon us which means that Labor Day is here again. Apart from the wonderful part about Labor Day always making it a long and relaxing weekend (yay!), we make it a point to do some fun activities with the kids every year, to get them into the spirit of the occasion. This year has been especially hectic and so no big plans are on the cards (as yet). But I got down to reading what we could do at home and came up on some pretty interesting DIY stuff. Here you go.

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Police Cap” by SOlvera is licensed under CC by 2.0

Hat Crafts: Crafting hats out of construction paper or old cardboard pieces is something we’ve been doing since time immemorial. Back in our childhood days, I remember the birthday parties that were organized at our house always had such hats made by us – thick paper rolled into a cone, stapled or glued onto the ends and covered in glitter or wrapping paper. Labor Day can be a good occasion to introduce fun, hat-making crafts for your kids. There are a number of hats that fit the bill – a nurse’s cap with white construction paper and a red cross at the front, a policeman’s hat in blue and a yellow badge on the front or if you are up to a little bit of extra effort, the best idea of all could be a tall chef’s hat made out of white paper (watch a simple tutorial here). It’ll be fun to have the kids (and parents too!) strutting around the house in their favorite colorful caps and hats!

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Piggy Bank” by relsi is licensed under CC by 2.0

DIY Piggy Bank: Since Labor Day is all about work and the efforts people put in, it can be a very good opportunity to introduce your little ones to the concept of money and saving practices. Constructing a simple DIY piggy bank fashioned like an ATM machine for them could be a good beginning. All you need is some cardboard, a couple of discarded toilet paper rolls, a pen knife (ensure you keep it out of the reach of young kids) and a sketch pen along with glue. Use this tutorial to mark out the lines on the cardboard which need to be cut and folded (the tutorial may seem pretty elaborate to do at first glance but if you follow the steps and go along, it’s actually quite simple and does not take more than an hour altogether). The only prerequisite is that the cardboard needs to be thick and of good quality so that the end product is sturdy. Not enough time on your hands? No worries – take hold of an empty coffee can with a lid, cut an adequately sized slit on its top and cover up the outsides with brightly colored paper. Your kid’s piggy bank is ready to be clanking with money in the coming months (depends on you and the pocket money you wish to afford too, of course)!

You could perhaps begin with this cute musical Labor Day video to set the tone for the day followed by a look at these Labor Day resources for kids for more interesting ideas for activities to be done at home..

How do you plan to celebrate the upcoming Labor Day weekend?

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3 DIY Friendship Band Ideas for Kids

Friendship bands have been popular amongst kids since the beginning of time – more precisely since the early 1970s in the US. It was believed back then that the wearer should not take it off till the colors fade or the cords of the bracelet wear out to honor the hard work and love put in by their best friend into making it (you can read more about the interesting history of friendship bands here). With Friendship Day around the corner in the first week of August, I thought it could be a good idea to revive the craft with some simple, fun DIY friendship band ideas that you can get crafting with your kids at home for D-day.

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Image courtesy: Pixabay

Button Friendship Bands: Any type of buttons can do for this type of bands, provided they are not very small in size. It would be ideal to have two types of buttons, one slightly larger in size than the other, so that the smaller ones can fit over the larger ones like a disc (if you are more adventurous and/or have more time on your hands, you could make this type of friendship band with three buttons too instead of just two). Take a piece of thick string and tie a knot at one end of it. Placing two (or three) buttons one over the other as mentioned above, thread them together from the bottom towards the upside and then cross towards the bottom again. Keep repeating the same procedure till your bracelet is as long as you want it to be and tie up a knot at the end like you did before to keep the buttons in place. You can go through this button bracelet craft activity to get a better idea of how it’s done. Voila, your simple DIY friendship band is ready!

Toilet Roll Friendship Bands: These can be like the new and trendy, broad friendship bands that double up as a recycled craft as well. Get hold of some discarded toilet rolls, some brightly colored duct tape (optional) and a pair of blunt scissors. There are two ways of going about this: If you’re planning to use duct tape, just roll it around the cardboard roll 2-3 times. If not, your child can put their artistic skills to work where the toilet roll is their canvas; crayons or water colors will work best on a relatively light colored background so it can be a good idea to perhaps cover the (usually) brown colored toilet paper rolls with white paper for them to draw or paint on. Once done, slice long ways up through the tube to open it up so that it can slide in easily on the wrist. For younger kids, it could be a good idea to divide a single toilet paper roll into two by cutting through the middle to make two friendship bands – a colorful way to proclaim to the world the everlasting bond between two best friends!

Braided Woolen Friendship Bands: One of the most traditional type of DIY friendship bands, I remember me and my sister making these braided woolen bracelets by hand back in our childhood. The process is simple – take three different colors of woolen threads cut to suitable lengths (to fit easily on the wrist) and tie a knot at one end before you ask your child to start braiding them – left over the centre, right over the centre and so on till you reach about an inch or so from the end. Tie another knot at the other end and you’re done with a simple yet good-looking friendship day band. If you’re good with fishtail braids, have a look at this interesting fishtail braid friendship band tutorial for a quick and easy way to make them.

Like they say: ‘True friends are never apart; maybe in distance, but never in heart.’ A big shout-out to all my friends out there – Happy Friendship Day!

World Environment Day Resolutions for Kids

June 5 is celebrated the world over as World Environment Day. Established back in the year 1972 during the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, the day holds significance as a means to encourage awareness for our environment. Why not use the opportunity to get kids to be environmentally-friendly from an early age?

Here are three simple ways to get kids acquainted with how to care for their environment in simple, everyday ways.

Say no to plastic: Though World Environment Day falls every year on the 5th of June, the year 2018 in particular has been earmarked as the year when we should ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’. Children should be introduced to small, plastic-free alternatives in their everyday lives. For instance, encourage them to say no to plastic cutlery of all kinds. I remember my mother carrying around a stainless steel spoon in her handbag everywhere she traveled; she would whip it out the moment anyone offered her plastic cutlery and say an outright ‘no, thank you’. Your kids will follow you if you take the lead. Replace plastic drinking water bottles at home with reusable water bottles or flasks. A good way to start a discussion on the topic could be to watch this Great Pacific Garbage Patch video with your kids. Mark the occasion on June 5 by taking your kids out shopping and getting them a colorful environmental-friendly bottle of their choice.

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Planting a tree” by Iyo is licensed under CC by 2.0

Plant a tree: It has been shouted from the rooftops all over the world millions of time in the past but it’s never been enough – we need to plant more trees and give back to Mother Nature. Like the Chinese proverb goes: ‘The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.’ Get hold of a shovel, a bucket of water and a seedling from the local nursery and get planting with your children. Allot a certain corner of the garden to them which is exclusively their responsibility to tend to on a daily basis. To make the activity more exciting, get your little ones to click a picture of their tree every week, in order to mark its growth from a seedling to a plant.

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girl cycling in spring” by rg1024 is licensed under CC by 2.0

Cycle together: Did you know that June 3, 2018 will officially be celebrated as the first World Bicycle Day the world over? If you and your kids don’t have a bicycle already, invest in them this World Environment Day. We did last year and it was one of the best decisions we could have made. Most of our weekends are now spent cycling around the neighborhood, with picnic baskets packed on our carriers behind us. It’s invigorating in the fresh air, we get our required dose of sunshine plus the added advantage of quality family time together. Remember: when in doubt, simply pedal it out!

Gone are the days of taking up New Year resolutions and not keeping them; this World Environment Day let’s take up environmentally conscious resolutions with our kids and resolve together to do our bit, however tiny, towards the environment we live in. I’ve decided to give a break to all sorts of online games that I allow them to indulge in and spend the day outdoors. After all, don’t we owe it all to the fresh air we breathe in and the pure water we drink?

Happy April Fools’ Day Easter

Last year around Easter, we talked about a nice big Easter spring clean here. This time around, I just realized that Easter falls on April Fools’ Day this year, or vice versa. That got me thinking: How about some Easter fun pranks on Fools’ Day, to fool around and have a good time? So here goes… nothing.

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Easter Egg Fight” by feraliminal is licensed under CC by 2.0

What about substituting hard-boiled, nicely painted Easter eggs with not boiled, nicely painted ones? A word of caution though: Any egg activity with the said eggs should strictly be carried out outdoors, since gooeyness of egg insides is hard to get off most things. Be it an Easter egg relay race with the egg on a spoon or simply a treasure hunt, the expressions of kids will be a sight to behold when the egg cracks open suddenly (I’m pretty sure though my son will be thrilled with the discovery if it happens to him and he’ll smear it happily all over, ugh).

Easter also means everything sweet and chocolatey, and even more so at our place. Small bits and pieces of chopped vegetables dipped in chocolate sauce and wrapped in silver foil would act as the perfect chocolates to be handed out to the kids as treats. Well, everyone loves almonds and pistachios within chocolates; why not a bit of carrot or a piece of broccoli at the core to bite off?

Why, I’m already excited at the ‘evil’ thoughts taking shape in my mind. Care to add to this list with some enlightening ideas?

3 Reasons for Choosing to Homeschool My Kids

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Studying Together” by oksmith is licensed under CC by 2.0

Okay, so this is just me letting off a bit of steam here, through this post. I hate to admit – yet I have to – that even after all these years of homeschooling, I do tend to doubt myself every now and again. Am I doing the right thing for my kids? What if they grow into socially inept people in a couple of years? This, that and so much more. And because I’m presently going through such a ‘phase’ (as I like to call it), here’s reminding myself why I chose to take it up in the first place.

  • I wanted to be the primary influence in my children’s lives, to gently guide them through their learning years.
  • I did not want my kids to be restricted by any set curriculum of a particular school, which may not suit them; I wanted them to be learning at their own comfortable pace.
  • I wanted them to be able to chase their dreams and discover what they are good at, by trying out everything without formal lesson plans – be it sports, studies or anything else.

Phew! That sure was cathartic. To all the like-minded parents out there, all I want to say is this: There will be unproductive days on your homeschooling journey and there will be days when you’ll doubt your own capabilities of being able to impart the best education to your kids; but in the end, you’ll be proud to have a major hand in their coming out as terrific human beings. Keep going, homeschoolers!

Family New Year Resolutions for 2018

Another New Year, yet another chance for us to make the wrongs right and be more awesome than the year that went by. Less junk food and more real green leafy food; less late nights and more early to bed and early to rise; less frowning and complaining with more smiling and forgiving; less talking and more listening; less sitting and more walking… and the list goes on. But yes, like always – easier said than done, of course.

Instead of making the same old promises to yourself at the beginning of the year, why not take this opportunity to make some New Year resolutions as a family, which you can all work on together in the coming year? This way someone will always have your back to give you that extra nudge or a word of encouragement when you wander off your set path.

Here are three New Year resolutions we have decided to adopt as a family this 2018.

Sweat, Smile, Repeat

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Kids on a Jungle Gym” by j4p4n is licensed under CC by 2.0

Exercising together as a family is resolution number one. It is no myth that happy healthy parents make happy healthy children. Let’s lead the way and become examples for our kids, making our exercise time a fun activity rather than just sitting indoors and playing all sorts of virtual games on your tablet every evening. No, going to the gym is a big no here. Go for a short jog with your kids early in the morning and hear the birds chirping. Cycle together with your kids as a weekly ritual to the neighborhood grocery market. Learn a sport together and get really good at it. It’s a win-win situation all around – you keep fit, you spend quality time together and you have fun together as a family while doing it.

Collect Moments, Not Things

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Old Man Teaches Boy” by j4p4n is licensed under CC by 2.0

Mark Victor Hansen, the successful book author, trainer and inspirational speaker puts it like this: “Give your children family pictures. Create family memories and leave a pictorial family history. Keep a journal so that your kids can really know you… Maintain a library. The books you keep will give your children an idea of what you read, what was important to you and what you found influential. Kids can see where you have dog-eared a corner or underlined a sentence.” He said it all in those few words. Collecting moments and not things will always prove to be your life’s greatest treasure.

Spend what is Left after Saving

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Coins (Money)” by mystica is licensed under CC by 2.0

It is never too early to teach your kids how to save money. Giving them a monthly allowance from their early years and helping them how to manage it can go a long way in developing healthy monetary habits for them in their later years. Gift them a transparent glass jar instead of a piggy bank so they can actually see their money grow. After a couple of months, let them buy something of their choice with their own money; and then begin by saving up again for something else they would like to purchase at a later date. Spending what is left after saving and not the other way around is what must be inculcated into the children’s minds from a very young age.

The key to keeping any kind of resolutions is this: If it makes you happy, you’ll end up doing it anyhow. If it doesn’t, then it’s just a matter of time before you’ll give it up. But since family is all about laughter, love and happiness, these family resolutions will definitely be yours to keep. Happy New Year!

Cartoon of the Month – Johnny Bravo

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Image courtesy: BuzzFeed

Hey baby, I can tell we both love the same things: Me!

Well baby, what’s it like looking at the man of your dreams?

Man, it must be great being you watching me.

No points for guessing whose flattering lines these are – the king of pick-up lines, Johnny Bravo. Our hero is sinewy, broad-shouldered, fakes a stylish demeanor when he speaks which actually ends up being too gruff, and drives women away in spite of trying very hard to get them to date him. A highly entertaining specimen of sorts – there’s Johnny Bravo for you.

  • The name Johnny Bravo has its origins in its creator’s full name – Efram Giovanni Bravo Partible, more popularly known as Van Partible.
  • Joe Barbera (half of the namesake Hanna-Barbera) was a part of some goofy jokes in the writing part of the series. He also had a brief presence in the Bravo Dooby Doo episode wherein Scooby with his gang and our Bravo come together to unmask the ghoul.
  • Jeff Bennett, the signature voice of Johnny Bravo, was asked by its creator to sound like Elvis for the series.

Nominated for 4 Annie Awards, 2 Golden Reel Awards and 1 YoungStar Award, our Bravo is a real hero with a great fan following that he manages to keep thoroughly entertained with his antics. Hardly anyone can match his hairstyle and the way he speaks as well as strikes poses. Also, did you know that the creators of Johnny Bravo, Powerpuff Girls and Dexter’s Laboratory were all roommates in college? Such a lot of creative talent holed up together!