4 Ideas to Keep Kids Occupied at Family Gatherings

For most of us, family gatherings are once-in-a-blue-moon events that take a lot of planning and coordination, just so we can spend a few precious hours with loved ones. If you are a parent, you definitely want to make sure your toddler is reasonably well behaved and productively engaged at the party. Here are four useful ideas to keep the kids busy and happy next time you host a family get-together.

Crafts and kids’ activities

Depending on the available space, have a dedicated craft/activity room where the kiddos can happily work on crafts, puzzles, building blocks, coloring, toy-making and other activities that require little or no adult supervision. If possible, enlist an adult helper to keep an eye on the kids. Easy-to-make crafts such as paper airplanes, necklaces, scrapbooks and doorknob hangers can also serve as keepsakes or goodie bag items. Whatever activity you choose, make sure there are plenty of supplies at hand so there’s no squabbling or whining.

Fun kids’ games

There’s nothing like a game or two to keep the youngsters occupied while the adults are having fun. For an indoors party, try classic children’s games such as bowling, Hangman, Duck Duck Goose, Pin the Tail on the Donkey, Simon Says, and so on. For outdoor games, let the kids run loose with relay races, balance games, poolside games, hide and seek, etc. Consider the amount of preparation required for each game and as far as possible, do all the prep work ahead of time. Keep the kids’ ages in mind while choosing the game – younger kids enjoy simpler games with few rules, while older ones appreciate a certain amount of complexity. After all, the idea is to keep them engaged!

Preschool worksheets

While I do not recommend indiscriminate use of worksheets for kids, there are times when these free printables come in handy, especially when it comes to keeping tiny preschoolers busy. Online preschool worksheets cover a variety of interesting topics – healthy eating and physical activity, coloring, dot-to-dot, reading, alphabet, critical thinking, etc. Since preschoolers have notoriously short attention spans, you’d be better off downloading simple one-page worksheets that can be completed in a few minutes. The kids can then move on to a different topic or subject without getting bored. Like games, preschool worksheets combine fun and learning in one innovative package.

Books and movies

Visit your local library to find children’s storybooks and picture books. Once the party begins, have an adult read to the kids and encourage them to invent and exchange stories. Lots of hot chocolate (or iced tea) and munchies can keep them going. Or you could play a selection of kids’ movies (The Wizard of Oz, Toy Story, How to Train your Dragon) with plenty of popcorn and cold drinks doing the rounds. Either way, your party is definitely going to be a tantrum-free success!

A combination of or more of the above ideas will make your family gathering a smooth and stress-free affair.

25 Things To Do With Your Kids In The Fall

What an amazing list – and I’m not just saying that cause I love lists! Going to adopt some of these things to do!

The Pinterested Parent

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I hate to sound like a broken record, but I can’t help it. My favorite season is here & I am not afraid to gush about it. Being a New Englander, I just can’t help but love the fall. One of the great things about it, is there are so many fun things to do with our daughter. Some we have done already this season & some are still on our to-do list waiting to be checked off. Not everything on this list applies to every region, but I am sure that you can find a thing or two that you can do together.

  1. Go leaf peeping – My husband & I have done this every year since we started dating. We take a nice drive & stop at scenic outlooks & look for covered bridges. It is such a beautiful time of the year.          …

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Late night conversations with my daughter

I was sitting down to write another article this weekend when my daughter cuddled up to me and said she wanted to write something as well. I often give the kids writing assignments – I’m blessed with kids who not only love to read but also love to use their imaginations creatively. So I gave her a few sheets of paper and went on to make her some hot cocoa. I find hot cocoa always makes me write better.

When I got back to my work haven, I found her, pencil in hand but not a word on the paper. “Mom?” she hesitated and then continued, “I don’t know… I mean … I want to write a story … like you do … I mean … I want it to be published … Can I … Erm … Write one for you?” I smiled. I told her that she definitely should write for me. Happy and with a belly full of chocolate warmth, she dozed off on the couch while I finished my article.

That night, when I was preparing to sleep, I had a sudden panic attack. I had said ‘yes’ to my daughter without actually thinking it through. Writing articles is one thing, putting it up on the World Wide Web is another. We all know that this space can be dangerous and anything unmonitored can lead to situations you don’t want her to be in. So I had to think over whether I should allow her to write on my space or allow her to start her own blog. I went to sleep, troubled.

I am a huge fan of using new age technology for learning and didn’t want to discourage the use of the blogging platform. I talked to my daughter the next day and asked her what she had in mind with regards to writing. She said that she wanted to stories for me occasionally that I would publish on my blog. Considering I will have control over what goes up, what comments come through etc, I thought we’d both go for it. She will weave her magic stories and also learn about the intricacies of blogging (She is fascinated by WordPress stats – where the views come from, what search terms are used to reach certain articles etc)

We’re making this our monthly mother-daughter bonding activity.

What do you think of the idea?

Eco Friendly Ways to Use Water in your Preschool Activities

Preschool activities are a great way to have fun while imparting important skills to preschoolers. Because of their age and developmental stage, there are a wide variety of fun activities that are counted as educational for the young kids. Even simple games like playing catch or building with wooden blocks count as important preschool activities as they help develop fine and gross motor skills. This gives parents and teachers a great deal of freedom in choosing activities that they think their preschoolers would enjoy. Some activities seem to be a universal hit among preschoolers. A good example would be preschool activities involving water. Kids love playing with water, and there are many educational activities that let kids do just that. However, in all the fun and excitement of hosing things down and getting wet, it’s easy to lose track of how much water is getting wasted.

 

 

Also, many parents feel that the little water that goes down the drain in their own homes couldn’t possibly affect the world’s supply of water. However, it’s important to remember that it’s never a question of one house – the same preschool activities are repeated in hundreds of homes across the country, and together the water that gets wasted can indeed impact the water table. Further, people do not need to wait for a drought to start getting serious about water conservation. While Californians are tearing out their lawns to reduce their levels of water consumption, those of us in more blessed locations would still do well to keep tabs on how much water gets wasted at home.

On that note, here are four simple eco-friendly ways to use water in your preschool activities:

Use a container to control spills – Various preschool activities involve transferring water from one container to another. This may be done using a dropper, a sponge, by pouring the water directly from one container to another, or in any other way. When done by five and six year olds, spills are inevitable. Instead of just letting the spilt water go to waste, you can use a larger container to hold the smaller containers in. That way, the water that gets spilt can just be poured back into the smaller containers again.

Play with sprinklers rather than water guns – When playing with water guns, a lot of the sprayed water goes to waste. Even if the kids are playing over a lawn, the water distribution is uneven and doesn’t really substitute for actually watering the lawn. A simple way to work around this issue is to use water sprinklers in your preschool activities. The kids can have a great time jumping over, ducking under or running through the water, and your lawn gets watered at the same time!

Use food coloring to color water – Colored water is pretty cool. It makes simple preschool activities seem more exciting. Kids can pretend to run their own lemonade stand, or have fun mixing the colors to make new ones. But no matter what you do with the colored water, once the preschool activity is over, you need to dispose of it. As long as you’re using food coloring or some other dye that is safe for plants, you can dispose of the water in an eco-friendly manner by using all of it to water the plants.

Choose activities that involve minimum wastage – The next time you search for preschool activities involving water, remember to use one more criterion for shortlisting – how much water is getting wasted. Sure your kids may enjoy hosing down letters or numbers written on the sidewalk according to the questions you call out, but is there absolutely no other way you can revise the numbers with him? It may take a little more effort to find the right activities, and maybe even some creative changes of your own, but if means wasting less water, why not?

As you make these small and simple changes to your preschool activities, you have a great opportunity to discuss water conservation with your kids. By being more environmentally conscious in the way you carry out the activities, you are giving them a valuable lesson in water conservation, and being a great role model that they can emulate as they grow older.

Fairy Tales Learning Games and Activities for Kids

All it takes to entertain a three-year-old is an illustrated book of fairy tales. But fairy tales are more than simple entertainment – they are learning opportunities to impart a variety of skills to their young audience – language, math, creativity, cultural awareness and even cooking! Here are some interesting learning games and activities based on some of the most beloved fairy tales of our times.

Hint – Remember to adapt them to the age and attention span of your child!

Three Bears Dinnerware

In the tale, Goldilocks enters the Three Bears home, eats off their china and sleeps in their beds. You can use this simple story to teach your child sorting and classification skills. Place dishes, glasses and silverware in three different sizes on the table and invite him to sort them by size – small, medium and large. He could also sort them by category or material used. This entertaining learning activity is suitable for four to six year olds.

Act it Out

This fun game puts the “act” in “act”ivity! Just create a variety of cards featuring popular fairy tale characters and invite the kids to perform an action. For instance, one card could say “You’re Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf is chasing you. Run as fast as you can!” Or, “You’re Karen and you’ve put the magical red shoes. At a word from the old soldier, you must dance.” Apart from building your child’s literacy skills and gross motor skills, this fun learning game also allows them to give free rein to their imagination.

Make Your own Fairy Tale

Place small objects and pictures in a bag and invite your child to make his own fairy tale, using the contents of the bag. For instance, he could start off with “Once upon a time, there was a gnome who loved to dance in the rain. One day (pulling out a picture of the sun) it was bright and sunny and the poor gnome couldn’t dance. So he (pulling out a toy car) went for a ride in his car instead.” The story goes on until he has incorporated all the objects into his story and brought it to a conclusion. Your little story teller is sure to enjoy this creative learning game!

Cook up a Tale

Here’s a great learning game to keep your child engaged on a rainy day! Read a fairy tale together and do a cooking project based upon the story. For instance,

  • Make porridge after reading Goldilocks and the Three Bears
  • Make gingerbread cookies after reading The Gingerbread Man
  • Make apple pie or apple strudel after reading Snow White
  • Bake a cake after reading The Little Red Cap

As adults, we relive our childhoods by reading fairy tales to our kids. Now it’s time to make your child an active learner rather than a passive listener. If you have more ideas for turning fairy tales into learning games and activities, I’d love to hear them!