Archives for category: educational toys
Schools out, now what to do to keep your kids from falling into the frightening world of boredom? Go ahead and cast a spell on them and see what transpires.
Wizard
If you need some coaching in this area, Lisa, from Little Bird School of Stitchcraft can show you how to cast a spell on your kids (fingers) this summer. She has a super trick for keeping little hands entertained while learning an age-old craft at the same time.
Finger knitting is a great way of getting children interested in wool crafts, and it is very easy to learn.  It helps to improve a child’s dexterity and ability to concentrate.  No extra implements are required,  just fingers, the best tools in the world!
The finished product is a long thin strip of stocking stitch. In this tutorial, which is suitable for children, you will learn how to finger knit.  Any weight of yarn will work for finger knitting but for this tutorial chunky yarn was used which produces a nice stocking stitch.
To cast on, begin with the palm of your hand facing you with the tail end of the yarn between your thumb and index finger.  Weave the yarn over your index finger and behind the middle finger then over the ring finger.  Wrap the yarn around your smallest finger and weave back to your index finger:
Weave the yarn around the index finger again and continue in the same manner but above the first rows of stitches returning to your index finger again:
Try to keep the stitches fairly loose otherwise, it will be difficult for you to make the following moves.
The first row begins with the little finger, lift the bottom row of wrapped yarn up and over the tip of your finger (see below).  Ensure that you keep the top row of wrapped yarn on your finger as you go.
Continue the process of lifting the bottom row of stitches over the top row of stitches along your hand until you get back to your index finger:
For all subsequent rows, weave the yarn around the fingers again ending with the index finger. It should look like the image below:
Beginning with the little finger, lift the bottom row of yarn over the tips of your fingers.  Continue weaving and lifting the yarn over the fingers.  As you continue the process you will see a long strip of stocking stitch appearing behind your hand:
To cast off, do not weave the work around your fingers instead, lift the stitch off the little finger and pass it across to your ring finger:
Then lift the bottom stitch over the top stitch on your ring finger.  Continue to pass the stitches across and over until you get to the index finger with one stitch remaining.
Cut the yarn, lift the stitch off the index finger and pass the end of your yarn through the stitch and pull to secure the end:

Finger knitting is very addictive and children love it for its simplicity and ease.

For more crafty ideas, be sure to visit Lisa’s blog  Little Bird School of Stitchcraft.

Thanks again for sharing Lisa!

Make your own PlayDough recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbs of oil
  • 1/2 cup of  salt
  • 2 tbs of vanilla
  • food coloring

First thing is to mix all dry ingredients together in a medium pot. Add the oil and water into the dry mixture. Cook over medium heat, and be sure to stir constantly. Keep stirring until you get a consistency close to that of mashed potatoes. Remove from heat and add vanilla. If you want the playdough to be all one color, then you can add the food coloring now, and knead it into the dough until it is all a consistent color. However, this recipe makes a lot of playdough and I find it fun to create a few different colors. So if you like a little variety then divide the playdough into separate balls and work in the food coloring of your choice into each different ball. Get creative and have fun with it. You can even let the kids join in on the fun, so they not only have a blast with the finished playdough but they have fun making it too!

Tips:

  • When adding food coloring it is definitely worth it to use some cheap disposable gloves so your hands do not get stained.
  • A little food coloring goes a long way! In fact a little trick is to dip a toothpick in the food coloring bottle and then puncture a hole in the playdough ball. You can repeat a few times throughout the ball until getting the desired color in it and then knead the color to consistency.
  • Store the playdough in a Ziploc baggy or a covered container and it should keep for a couple weeks. If you start to see a little sweat build up in the baggy or the container just add a little flour.

Happy Birthday Dr. SeussYou’re never too old, too wacky, too wild to pick up a book and read with a child! – Dr. Seuss

Who hasn’t eaten some green eggs and ham? Have you ever put a cat on your hat or a hat on your cat?

Happy birthday Dr. Seuss!  He was born Theodor Seuss Geisel in Springfield, Massachusetts on this day way back in the year of 1904.

With 46 published picture books, Dr. Seuss is considered one of the greatest children’s book writers and illustrators of all time. How many of his books have you read over and over and over? I remember knowing my son at age 2 was a genius when he “read” his first Dr.Seuss book aloud, over and over and over.

banana-cat-in-the-hat

How about building a  Banana Strawberry Cat in the Hat surprise for your little ones? A Worthy Life was the inspiration for this healthy treat.

green-eggs

How would you eat your Green Eggs? Well, first you might want to learn how to make them.  So Wonderful So Marvelous holds the secret Seuss-y recipe, Hop on Pop and head over to learn how.

one-fish

On fish, two fish. You can make them too fish and learn how over at Simple Girl.

These are some of our favorite Seuss-isms, what are yours?

1.  “You have brains in your head.  you have feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself, any direction you choose.”

2.  “Today you are you, that is truer than true.  there is no one alive, who  is you-er than you.”

3.  “From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere.”

4.  “Don’t cry because it’s over.  Smile because it happened.”

5.  “Today is your day!  You’re mountain is waiting.  So…get on your way.”

6.  “If you never did, you should.  These things are fun,  and fun is good.”

7.  “I meant what I said, and said what I meant.  An elephant’s faithful, one hundred percent.”

8.  “So the writer who breeds more words than he needs is making a chore for the reader who reads.”

9.  “And you will succeed?  Yes indeed, yes indeed!  Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed.”

10.  “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

So…“Just tell yourself, Duckie, you’re really quite lucky!”H

autism-toysDoth your playroom runneth over with toys?

You are not alone if you find yourself suffering the post-holiday buried in toys syndrome.

Take advantage of this time to do some decluttering and organizing your kiddos toys.

Make room for the newly acquired toys by playing a game of lining up and counting all of the new toys. Next, have your child match each new toy up with one that is no longer being played with.  An excellent opportunity for teaching your children a lesson in sharing exists here. Explain how happy some other children will be to receive the toys and how they will be new toys for the other children to play with.

If resistance is encountered,  ask your child to think about the last time a particular toy was played with, and if it’s been over six months, “wouldn’t it be nice to let another child play with it?”

There are charities all across the country that collect toys for various organizations. Almost everyday Totally Kids fun furniture and toys receives new and gently used toys donated for Twin Cities families affected by Autism. If you are in the Minneapolis St. Paul area please drop off any toys that you can spare.

We would like to express gratitude to all of those who have so generously donated toys over the last few years. Thank you!

new-years-eve-countdown-bags

We love tradition at our house and so do the kids. Celebrating the last day of the year, and better yet, a special night that bedtime is delayed makes it a favorite tradition.

We like to start out the  New Years Eve Countdown with these clever party bags. The idea originated over at Organize Your Stuff Now. The kids look forward to them and they are a perfect way to keep the young ones entertained all night long! We like starting the countdown at 6 p.m. and then every hour on the hour.  There is a surprise in each bag. You can fill them with anything you like, ending with a special treat for the bewitching hour. You might include card games, bubbles, silly string, glow sticks or even some sparklers that the kids can take outside for some happy new year fun.

 

new-years-tree

Don’t take down your Christmas tree just yet. Look at how you can transform it into a great New Year’s tree with a few balloons and streamers. Step it up a notch and add some crazy hats and noisemakers.

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Mr. Kyle’s Kitchen Midnight Fantasy Fudge

If you want the best, the smoothest, no-fail fudge recipe for your party, try the original Fantasy Fudge.

This is the original Fantasy Fudge recipe from the back of the Kraft Marshmallow Creme jar.

3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 12-oz.  package semi-sweet chocolate chips (we prefer Ghirardelli)
1 7-oz.  jar Kraft Marshmallow creme
1 cup chopped nuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine sugar, margarine, and milk in a 2-1/2 quart saucepan; bring to full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Continue boiling 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring. Remove from heat, stir in chocolate till melted. Add marshmallow creme, nuts & vanilla beat till blended. Pour into greased 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Don’t fight over who gets to lick the spoon! Let cool and cut into 1-inch squares.

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Gather the family and create a Family 2018 Time Capsule from an empty tennis ball container. Stuff the can with family photos, special mementos, drawings and written memories of the top ten moments of the year as well as comments about what is currently happening in the world and with your family. Find a spot in the backyard and bury your Family 2018 Time Capsule.

tennis-ball-can

Be sure to draw a treasure map if you choose to use this Tiffany & Co. sterling silver ($1500.00) tennis ball container. BTW it was designed for keeping  tennis balls at “their optimum playing temperature whilst on the court.”

 

New-Years-Resolution-Printable

Keep it simple. Go ahead and shortlist your New Year’s Resolutions on these printables from the best ideas for kids blog.

Our wish to you: May all of your troubles last as long as your new year’s resolutions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Christmas there are few little people on our list who will be getting this weekend DIY project. Magnetic states is an idea from Natalme and looks oh so easy to create.

We have a couple of jigsaw puzzles of the United States that will be perfect to upcycle. Next step is attaching pieces of magnetic tape to each state. That’s it, back in the puzzle box and what fun they’ll have putting the states on their fridges.

The United States has a vast variety in the traditions, however, most come in the taste of the Christmas feast:

  • New England has Lumberjack Pie (a mashed potato crust, filled with meats, onion, and cinnamon.)
  • Pennsylvania Dutch serve Sand Tarts (thing, crisp sugar cookies)
  • North Carolina features Moravian Love-Feast Buns (faintly sweet bread of flour and mashed potatoes.)
  • Baltimore serves Sauerkraut with their Turkey (which includes apples, onions, and carrots.)
  • Virginia gives us oyster and ham pie.
  • Southern states have Hominy Grits Soufflé and Whiskey Cake (with one cup of 100-proof whiskey.)
  • Louisiana’s treat is Creole Gumbo. It can include ham, veal, chicken, shrimp, oysters, and crabmeat.
  • New Mexico has the Empanaditas–little beef pies with applesauce pine nuts and raisins.
  • Hawaii blesses us with Turkey Teriyaki marinated and cooked over an outdoor pit.   What is your favorite Christmas meal? Is it a traditional meal that you grew up with?

Handprint Ornaments – Tomorrow’s Memories

Salt dough ornaments are so very easy to make.  Here is a perfect clay recipe for creating little hand impression ornaments giving you a head start on Christmas gifts. We like that it is non-toxic, made of food ingredients therefore safe for kids to play around with and squish, mush and squeeze the dough through their little fingers. It’s great for a quick economical, yet treasured gift for grandparents and other favorite relatives.  There may be a new tradition happening at your house too.

This clay recipe will harden when left out for a day or two and can then be painted and embellished if so desired. In humid climates, it may take several days to dry out. The drying time will depend on the humidity and how large your ornament is. To speed up the drying process, you can put it in the oven at 90 degrees for 30 minutes, then shut off the oven for it to cure. Remember to leave it inside the oven with the door closed.  You could also dry it completely in the oven for several hours.

Salt Dough “Recipe for Fun”:

  • 1/2 cup of table salt
  • 3/4 cup of flour
  • 2 tablespoons of mineral oil
  • 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup water

Mix all  ingredients together and knead it with your hands. If it is too wet, add a pinch more flour and if it is too dry add a bit of water. For a seasonal scent, add a small amount of cinnamon to the dough mixture.

This recipe yields a good snowball size ball. It is the perfect size for one keepsake hand print ornament. Flatten the ball out and press your little one’s hand into it. Pierce a hole with a drinking straw toward the top of the ornament for a festive ribbon that you will tie through once it has properly dried.

Kellie from This Blessed Nest made these hand prints with her twins.

If you’re not quite ready for Christmas preparations, then, let’s talk turkey.

Turkey Toes if you dare! Tickle the fancy of your Thanksgiving guests with these turkey toes aka what to do with leftover Halloween candy corn. This timely idea is provided by Laura Lee Lewis.

A great hostess gift!

Gobble Gobble!

 

IMG_5322

With the arrival of fall tomorrow and  Starbucks now serving their Pumpkin Spice Latte, are you ready for the season? This recipe for fun may put you and the kids in the mood. We have found a Pumpkin Latte Playdough for your little ones that just may become a new autumn classic at your house. Dinosaurs and Octopuses have the recipe for fun this week.

Here it is:

Ingredients
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 cup water
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp cream of tartar
1/3 of the jar of pumpkin pie spice (the tiny jar)
maple extract
vanilla extract
food coloring

Combine the dry ingredients and the oil. Slowly add the water. Add a few dashes of each of the extracts and a few drops of red and yellow food coloring. Cook over medium heat, stirring until stiff. As it mixes you can see if you’ll need more food dye. Adding a little at a time until the desired color is achieved. Turn out onto wax paper. The pumpkin pie spice was too spicy by itself, for my liking. The extracts make it smell sweeter, just like a pumpkin pie. Sniff the dough. Does it smell too spicy? Add a little bit more extract and knead it all together. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour. If it’s too dry, add a few drops of water.

Betsy, you must give this a try for Katherine.

Anyone looking for a copycat Starbucks Pumpkin Latte recipe? Give this one from the Kitchn a try!

Pumpkin Spice Latte
makes 1-2 servings

Ingredients:
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons canned pumpkin or 1 teaspoon of Torani Pumpkin Spice Syrup (your choice)
2 tablespoons sugar or sugar substitute – you can halve this amount
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1-2 shots espresso (about 1/4 cup of espresso or 1/2 cup of strong brewed coffee if you don’t have an espresso machine.)

Directions:
In a saucepan combine milk, pumpkin, and sugar and cook on medium heat, stirring, until steaming. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and spice, transfer to a blender and process for 15 seconds until foamy. If you don’t have a blender, don’t worry about it – just whisk the mixture really well with a wire whisk.

Pour into a large mug or two mugs. Add the espresso on top.

Optional: Top with whipped cream and sprinkle pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, or cinnamon on top.

Start baking!

Whether it’s for a bake sale or afternoon tea, wow your guests with these
easy slice and bake cookies. Create, bake in one of our ovens, and serve up! The set includes a dozen wooden cookies, a dozen wooden mix and
match decorating pieces, and toy wooden kitchen utensils.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave Your Mark

Move over sand pails and shovels. We plan on adding this to our beach fun time. You can do it too! Have some fun while at the same time you can leave your mark.

It is so very simple, just hot glue foam letters, numbers or shapes on the bottom of flip flops. Think of the fun – leave your mark in the sand. Hint: remember that the prints will be a mirror image, so arrange the letters backward.