Fun January Activities for Preschoolers

Okay, so the New Year is upon us and we’re more than halfway through January already. Most of us have probably already given up on our New Year resolutions too. Down in the doldrums? Well, apparently, it’s not all your fault. January 17 is (officially) celebrated as ‘Ditch New Year Resolutions Day’. So there.

Well, talking about days to celebrate in January, I ran a search and found some pretty fascinating results. Here’s how you can find several excuses to make January one of the most enjoyable months of the year, both for you and your little ones. Talk about beginning the New Year with a bang!

‘We didn’t realize we were making memories. We just knew we were having fun.’

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Pooh” by Wetmount is licensed under CC by 2.0

Come January 18 and cartoon lovers the world over celebrate ‘National Winnie the Pooh day’. Celebrated author A.A. Milne’s birthday falls on this day. My daughter absolutely adores her lovable Pooh bear, so much so that she’s been sleeping with a cuddly, stuffed toy version of it from as far back as I can remember! How to celebrate the occasion? Well, add a bit of honey to every meal to make it sweeter; Pooh loves honey. The more adventurous ones can whip up a honey-sweetened dessert or two (read: scrumptious honey cupcakes). Read aloud Winnie the Pooh stories to your preschooler from colorful story books. Or else, if you don’t already have one, buy a Winnie the Pooh soft toy for your home. It sure adds color and cheer to the room!

‘Winter – you’ll miss it when it’s gone.’

No one knows how and why this day came into being, but January 22 has its own name – ‘Come in from the Cold Day. I feel there are both pros and cons of the winter with the pros far outweighing the cons; the only con being it’s difficult to go out of the front door. Apart from that, it’s all pros – hot chocolate at any time of the day and night is acceptable, the best feeling in the world is snuggling in front of the fireplace with your favorite book or in my kids’ case, with their favorite virtual games on the tablet, and the aromas of hot sauces simmering on the stove accompanied with chicken lasagna, sausages and apple pie. A win-win situation for kids and adults alike!

‘It’s always the small pieces that make the big picture.’

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Puzzle” by LeoNeoBoy is licensed under CC by 2.0

Puzzles are for everyone, irrespective of age. Right from basic jigsaw puzzles for young children to their advanced versions for adults, putting together a jigsaw puzzle can be an engrossing activity. What’s more, the earlier kids get into the habit of solving jigsaw puzzles, the better. From developing hand-eye coordination at a young age to fine-tuning their fine as well as gross motor skills, from getting to recognize basic shapes and colors to learning how to be patient while solving a problem, a jigsaw puzzle does wonders to young, inquisitive minds. Not into jigsaw puzzles yourself? Try your hand at crossword puzzles in the newspaper instead, or number Sudoku puzzles. Oh, and we’re talking about puzzles here since January 29 is designated as National Puzzle Day.

To put it in a nutshell, January is much more than just about making and keeping resolutions – it’s about friendly, cuddly, honey-loving bears which give you a whole lot of good advice from time to time; it’s about sugar and spice and everything hot and nice in the wintry weather; it’s about spending quality time together as a family poring over a jigsaw puzzle with the crackling sound from the fireplace that keeps you warm. Have a wonderful start to the New Year!

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For your Easter bunny

Is the Easter bunny at your place all set to bring gifts for the kids this Easter? Ours is and that is why we’ve decided to keep ready a special basket to welcome him this year.

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What you need:

  • A cardboard juice carton
  • Different colored pipe cleaners/felt
  • Cotton balls (a lot of them)
  • Glue
  • Tape
  • A pair of scissors
  • Easter grass

What to do:

  • Push the spout of the juice carton flat against the sides and tape it down to form the nose.
  • Using the pair of scissors, cut out ears along the sides of the carton (the side where the flaps are taped down).
  • Bend the ears and make a hole under the nose in order to insert the different colored pipe cleaners. These will be the whiskers of the Easter bunny.
  • Stick on the cotton balls using glue to cover each exposed side of the carton. Put on a puffy tale at the back (the puffier the better!).
  • Next, the whiskers (read: pipe cleaners) need to be inserted in the hole made earlier under the nose.
  • Using pink felt, cut out the inside of the ears of the bunny, black felt shapes for the eyes, pink felt for the nose again and a red felt mouth (kids will enjoy choosing the colors of their choice in this step).
  • Line the basket with green felt… and you’re done!

Just set it out overnight and be ready to be greeted with an inviting Easter goodies filled basket in the morning!

3 Fun Family Bonding Activities for Valentine’s Day

Did you know that on February 14 every year, more than 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged all around the world, making this the second most popular card-sending occasion after Christmas? That’s a pretty significant number! And luckily enough, this year the Feast of Saint Valentine (as it is sometimes also referred to), falls on a weekend. What better way to spend some quality and fun time with family, and celebrate the festival of love with those for whom you care the most?

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Heart, Card, Pastels, Figure” by kaboompics is licensed under CC by 2.0

Here are some sure shot ideas for having a good time the coming weekend.

Bake something special together

I once came across the following definition of ‘kitchen’ and loved it: ‘A kitchen is a gathering place for friends and family; a place where memories are homemade and seasoned with love.’ You could try your hand at baking heart shaped valentine cupcakes together with your kids (here’s the recipe video). Or you could whip up delicious desserts with fruits and whipped cream (we all love heaps of whipped cream and bananas). The time you spend bonding in the kitchen – all the while creating a mess- is a special and beautiful time. The best part about it is that all age groups can get to be a part of the process of cooking, even kids as young as preschool.

Play online games together as a family

A study was recently conducted by Goldsmiths University and gaming company PopCap, which involved a total of 3250 parents and grandparents altogether. Their research was mainly focused on ‘casual gaming’ of sorts, thanks to the smartphones and tablets which have become a part and parcel of our (and our children’s) everyday lives. One of the findings of the study was that a third of the guardians involved played computer and virtual games with their kids on a daily basis and considered it to be quality time, claiming that it had strengthened the bond between them and their children. Why not try doing something similar this Valentine’s Day? Your kids would probably love it more than anything else.

Revisit old family memories together

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Books, Book, Old Books, Read” by cocoparisienne is licensed under CC by 2.0

This is the best way to end the day and make it special. In the evening, put on an old video of your kids as toddlers, or simply hunt down and re-open those dusty old photograph books stored right at the back of your closet. Even going through birthday party videos of your kids can be taking a happy and nostalgic trip down memory lane. You’ll surely end up recollecting so many of their pranks from back then when you leaf through those pages.

“Having someone to love is Family.

Having somewhere to go is Home.

Having both is a Blessing.”

No wonder, the best way to celebrate Valentine’s Day is with your loved ones around you at home!

The Big Gift Box

Christmas Present Wrapped in Gold and Silver

Don’t we all adore being gifted by our loved ones? And when it comes to kindergarteners or preschoolers and gifts, they are the most over-excited of the lot! Here’s a fun gifting game to play with the little tykes (especially when there are more than 10 of them involved) that is bound to result in squeals of laughter and lots of merriment.

All you need is a really big cardboard box; as in each of the kids should be able to fit inside it individually. Just before you begin the game, ask the kids to guess what could be inside the well-wrapped up box. They’ll have fun imagining stuff – computers, bicycles, televisions or helicopters! Then you can lift it up and show them that it’s empty.

The game is actually all about letting one child be blindfolded and then choosing one of the others to hide within the box. Once the blindfold is removed, the child in question needs to guess who is missing from the group. The others can even give hints as to who might be within the box. Needless to say, the kids will love the hiding part in this game more than the guessing part!

2 Fun Thanksgiving Activities for Preschoolers

It’s that time of the year again when Thanksgiving is just around the corner and in most of our homes, the preparations for the festival are already in full swing. People all around the world celebrate it in different ways, but with one common guest that visits every home – the turkey! And though the preschoolers today are a smart lot who are hooked onto all sorts of virtual games along with animated series and cartoons, the Thanksgiving festive season is an ideal time to let them carry out some hands-on activities for a change. Here are two such fun craft and cooking activities which preschoolers will love doing.

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Happy Thanksgiving 2010” by Benn Wolfe is licensed under CC by 2.0

Thanksgiving Turkey Craft

What You Need:

  • A large white paper plate
  • Adhesive (glue)
  • Uncooked fusilli or macaroni
  • Sketch pens

What to Do:

  • Allow your preschooler to place his hand on the paper plate, with spaces between the fingers. The size of the plate should thus be a little bit larger than the hand spread out on it.
  • Hand him a sketch pen and ask him to trace around his hand (the hand-print should be drawn on the plate).
  • Once the hand is removed, the child can draw an eye on the outline of the thumb (to signify the beak of the turkey) and add turkey feet with orange-colored sketch pen at the bottom of the hand outline.
  • The uncooked pasta can then be pasted inside the hand outline to make up the feathers of the turkey. If your preschooler enjoys getting his hands dirty with paint, you could even ask him to paint the pasta in different colors so that each finger (the open feathers of the turkey) is of a different color.

This colorful turkey can be hung up in the kids’ room or in the kitchen as a part of the Thanksgiving decorations. Another way is to make these turkeys out of pine cones which you can see here.

Mini Thanksgiving Turkey Burgers

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Mini burgers” by Tim Rodenberg is licensed under CC by 2.0

What You Need:

  • Ground dark meat turkey
  • Pepper (preferably freshly ground)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Ketchup
  • Burger buns
  • Lettuce
  • Cheese slices

What to Do:

  • Once the grill is oiled and heated until it is medium-hot, ask the kids to flavor the ground turkey using ketchup, salt and pepper. Allow them to mix everything together with their hands (preschoolers really enjoy creating a yummy mess!).
  • The ground meat should now be rolled into balls, one ball for each burger. Ask the kids to gently press down the balls (not too hard, otherwise they will all break up) just so that they flatten into around half an inch thick patties.
  • Now the kids can get to work on the lettuce and after washing it, can get down to separating it into leaves.
  • Using a pastry brush, ask the kids to lightly cover the insides of the burger buns with olive oil. It imparts that extra flavor to the buns which makes it delectable.
  • The grilling of the buns should be carried out by the adult. Once they are grilled and transferred onto a clean plate, the kids can add the patties, cheese slices and lettuce etc. to the burgers.

Rest assured, they’ll love boasting to their friends that they actually whipped up burgers on their own, and before you know it, you’ll probably have the neighborhood kids all thronging to your doorstep in search of these mini Thanksgiving turkey burgers!

And in case you want to make actual-sized turkey burgers and not mini ones with a lot more seasoning, here’s another recipe which you can check out.

 Wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Dream Playrooms for Kids of All Ages

We’ve been thinking of doing some spring cleaning and re-decorating. Usually we just clean stuff up and rearrange furniture so it looks different and more organized. The room gets pretty messy from kids playing around – art work in various stages of falling off from the wall, floorboards being scratched, walls bearing all sorts of crayon art. You know what it’s like to have a bunch of preschoolers with endless energy running around.

This time instead of doing the same things we were thinking of renovating it in a way that makes the classroom be a place that the kids are dying to get to. A little bit of chalkboard paint here, replacing crayons with dry erase markers, that sort of thing. For inspiration, we have scoured our beloved Pinterest. Some of the ideas we found has made us wish we never googled ideas in the first place. I’ve had my fair share of dream playrooms but this took things to a whole new level.

While we won’t be able to recreate some of these fantastic ideas, some of them are too mind-blowing to not share with you guys. Some of these I wish I had in my own house!

A Library Treehouse Trap Door Space Pod Rock-Climbing Wall Rock Climbing Wall and Slide Narnia Passage Lego wall Entire Jungle Gym Cocoon Chairs A pirate ship

What do you guys think? Which one of these is your favorite?

3 Learning Activities for your Child this Spring

Any time there’s a change of season my kids look forward to all the fun seasonal things they’ll do; some of them educational and some just fun. I’m a great believer in using natural phenomena such as the changing weather to engage my little ones in new educational activities, both indoors and outdoors. As we prepare for spring this year, here are three spring learning activities we plan to do together.

Lady BugLady Bug.” By Lauren Hammond, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Create a Garden

My two little gardeners absolutely adore wallowing in dirt, so what better way to teach them about plants and trees than a spot of gardening! Kids love the sense of accomplishment that comes from creating something from scratch and gardening is the perfect outlet for all that pent-up energy. So let him identify what plants, flowers or veggies will do well in your area and take him to a garden center to buy all the stuff you need. The next step is to identify a sunny space in your backyard and let your child get busy with a shovel and spade. As he develops a green thumb, he will take great pride in watching his garden grow. At harvest time, show him how to make a salad with cherry tomatoes, lettuce and the other succulent veggies he grew in his own garden.

Worksheets for Kids

A simple Google search will turn up a large array of websites offering printable spring-themed worksheets for kids, most of which can be downloaded for free. These useful learning resources cover different elementary grade subjects like math, science, social sciences, language arts, coloring, and so on. Your kids can use them to review previously learned concepts or learn new ones. If they get bored, get them excited with fun coloring printables or puzzle worksheets that will get those little gray cells back in action. When my kids were small, I used to download simple, one-page worksheets they could sit down and finish in 10-15 minutes. As they grew older, I started using age-appropriate worksheets dealing with concepts they had already learned in the classroom.

Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning might not the most glamorous activity to celebrate spring, it is a great learning experience for kids of any age or skill level. Cleaning need not be limited to scrubbing the doors and windows; it also encompasses organizing and rearranging the closets; getting rid of old, unused stuff and decorating your home. When you turn these boring chores into a fun family activity, you are actually helping your kids learn and practice sorting, classifying, problem solving, language comprehension, personal and collective hygiene, along with instilling a sense of ownership.

Simple Cooking Games and Kitchen Activities for Young Children

My five year old loves to “help” out in the kitchen, but it was pretty hard to let him do so without wrecking the place or hurting himself. For years I let him play online cooking games because they are fun and absolutely non-messy. Turns out, there ARE some simple, safe and most importantly, FUN ways to let him indulge in his hobby without turning my hair gray. Here are four great kitchen and cooking games for young children.

2359056682_a3c274b575_zCooking with Soren No. 2” by fotologic, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Handling Groceries

The next time you go grocery shopping, hand over each item to your child and ask him where it goes – pantry, refrigerator, cabinet, etc. This works well for very young kids, even those as young as 2 or 3. As your child grows older, he can help place the groceries in the appropriate places; he’ll be proud and happy to be entrusted with this responsibility!

Food Geography

Today’s kids have no idea where their food comes from – and I mean this is in the geographic as well as an environmental sense. Your little one needs to know that some foods come from trees, some from the ground and others from animals. Gather together an assortment of foods – milk, fruits, pasta, eggs, cookies, etc. – and ask him where he thinks each one comes from. Another fun game is to show him a collection of common as well as exotic fruits – apples, bananas, oranges, kiwis, mangoes, pineapples, etc. Take a world map and point out the places where each fruit originated from and how it is grown. Your child might like to sit at the kitchen table and draw the fruits using paper and crayons.

Fun with Pots and Pans

It’s easy to keep your toddler amused with this simple cooking game. Just spread out a varied collection of pots and pans on the kitchen floor and give him some wooden spoons to make some noise with. He might get creative with pretend play or create some highly original “music.” Whatever he does, it’ll free you up for chores or keep him busy and happy on a rainy or snowy day. This age-old kitchen activity is never known to fail!

DIY Shakers

Bring out your little one’s creative streak with this simple yet fun cooking game. Collect some empty lidded containers, some pasta and a spoon and invite him to fill the containers with the pasta. Have him put the lid on securely and decorate the “shakers” using pretty stickers or crayons. Your DIY shakers are ready for service!

Cooking games help kids learn about nutrition, boost their self-esteem and offer family time and bonding – that’s why I let my child play in the kitchen as long and as often as he likes.

Going Green Two Thousand Fifteen

We’ve recently made a few resolutions as a class – some of them I’ll share as we go along 2015. One of the main things the kids wanted to do was make our little garden a bit bird friendly. In a bid to do so, we’ve been researching birds, their habitat, what they like, what they don’t like etc. We’re hoping that we can come up with an idea of what sort of birds we want to attract and what we need to do in order to have our garden be their haven.

While this activity requires a lot of study work, we want it to culminate in building a bird feeder and a bird fountain. We thought it could be a nice DIY activity to bring in the New Year and help the class bond a bit more. So one part of our research also includes the fun opportunity to look online for unique bird feeder ideas and also put to action the creativity of the little ones. The ideas that are flying and the enthusiasm are unparalleled.

We haven’t yet decided which design we will pick but here are some of the more outstanding ones we love. Hopefully this will inspire you to make your house/class/garden more bird friendly as well.

Hope you’ve had a good start to the year. Looking forward to journeying with you for the next 365 days.

Bottle and Spoon Bird Feeder

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Lego Bird Feeder

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Paint Can Bird Feeders

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Juice Carton Owl Bird Feeders

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Teacup Bird Feeders

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