Book Review: 50 Easter Things to Make and Do

50 Easter Things to Make and Do

This craft book, 50 Easter Things to Make and Do, is a really great thing to have on hand in springtime.

The title may say “Easter” and it’s certainly focused on Easter-type things, but it’s got a lot of wonderful craft ideas that are generally themed around the season of spring.

And while the crafts themselves are super cute, there are other things about the book that I also absolutely LOVE.

For example, it has the spiral binding, so it lays flat – which is handy when you’re looking from it to your project and back again.

Plus, the projects themselves have step-by-step instructions, which is great for showing children the progression of the craft from start to finish.

It’s also a great size to fit inside an Easter basket – which is how my daughter will be receiving it this year.  And since, like I mentioned, many of the projects are great to do all throughout spring and not just for Easter, we’ll be working on some of these adorable crafts all through the season.

You can get a better look at the book in my video review:

The book is out of print on my Usborne Books & More site, but you can still find used copies on Amazon.

Happy Crafting!

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Pretend Play: Raking Autumn Leaves

Pretend Play:  Raking Autumn Leaves ...... a fun fall activity for kids!

This is such a wonderful fall activity!

My girls have had – and are still having – so much fun with this Pretend Play activity of Raking Leaves.

And it’s so simple, too!

I bought 3 bags of 50 leaves each at the dollar store, and we already had the rakes – although I think we bought them at the dollar store in the spring.

Pretend Play:  Raking Autumn Leaves ...... a fun fall activity for kids!

I do suggest using plastic rakes because they’re safer for indoors.  We also have metal and wooden rakes, but plastic worked best for this.

Also, I prefer doing this activity on the carpet, but it does work on the tile and wood floors.  To be honest, though, I found raking the leaves up on carpet with the plastic rake to be somewhat soothing.  Meditative, even.

To store the leave we use a basket that we already had, but you could also use a plastic baggy.  {That’s what I plan to store them in at the end of fall.}

Pretend Play:  Raking Autumn Leaves ...... a fun fall activity for kids!

Another thing these leaves are perfect for is throwing.

Rake up a pile and toss them into the air!

Seriously:  these are made of fabric, so they kind of flutter down gently.  The whole reason I decided to do this with my kids is because they adore the Elefun Game so much.  And, really, the Elefun game isn’t perfect.  The butterflies/fireflies come out too quickly and there aren’t enough of them, but my girls still love catching them AND collecting them afterwards.

But that’s why I bought 150 leaves for this activity – so there would be enough to entertain both of them.  Plenty to keep them busy with raking and throwing.

And organizing.

My 4yo would make piles of the leaves, sorting them by color and counting them.  And my 2yo made piles that were her “birds nests.”

The options are limitless.

Pretend Play:  Raking Autumn Leaves ...... a fun fall activity for kids!

And, like I said, this activity can be extremely affordable.  I already had the rakes and the basket, and I bought the 3 bags of leaves for a buck a piece at the Dollar Tree.  The plastic rakes can also be found in the outdoor toy section or garden section of places like Target or Kmart even Walgreens – at certain times of the year.

BUT, if you’re having trouble finding the items you need, here are some Decorative Fall Leaves and a Gardening Tool Set from Amazon:

Decorative Fabric Fall LeavesPlastic Gardening Tool Set for Kids

And please let me know if your Little Ones enjoy it – and if they come up with any games of their own!

And check out these other Pretend Play ideas, too:

Pretend Play:  Makeup

Pretend Play:  Post Office and Mail Carrier

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10 New Year’s Eve Activities for Kids

10 New Years Eve Activities for Kids

Need some fun ideas to entertain your kids on New Year’s Eve?

I’ve compiled a list of all the things my girls and I did this past New Year’s Eve.  I had such a great time making this a special holiday for them and watching them have fun celebrating it.

And my girls may be just shy of 2 and 4-years-old right now, but these activities will be a part of our traditions for many years to come since they are great for all ages.

1.  Make a “New Year’s Eve Activity Bag”  (or Box)

New Year's Eve Activity Bag

I filled a gold bag with some of the party supplies we’d be utilizing on New Year’s Eve, which included noisemakers, glitter hats, silver bead necklaces, gold balloons (not yet blown up), and a couple of LED light-up wands I picked up at the dollar store.

Since it was only a few days after Christmas, I felt that getting a “present” of activities would be a neat way to start the day.

New Year's Eve Activity Bag

2.  Champagne Bubble Balloon Toss

Speaking of balloons, I find that they are a sure way to make any day special.  So, naturally, they make holidays extra special.

In the spirit of the holiday, I picked up a package of gold balloons at Walmart (for a buck) because they were the color of champagne.  I told the girls they were like bubbles and we kicked and bounced and tossed them around throughout the day and night.

New Year's Eve Balloons

3.  Make Giant Numbers for Photos and Decoration

I always have construction paper on hand (especially for our alphabet activities) and so that’s what I used to make the numbers.  I chose 4 colors and cut each of the numbers from a different sheet.  And I did it by hand.  I’ve learned that my kids aren’t perfectionists like me, so I don’t have to kill myself over the details.

We used the numbers first to pose for a few photos.  Next I asked my oldest daughter what the numbers were and asked if she could trace them each with her fingers.  Then we taped them to the TV hutch, just under the television, so that they would be visible while we watched the ball drop.  (They actually fell asleep before that, but we left the numbers up for a few days anyway, since they looked so cheerful.)

New Year's Eve Numbers 2014

4.  Practice Counting Down

Okay, I don’t know if older kids would get a kick out of this, but my girls certainly found it exciting.

Throughout the day, when discussing New Year’s Eve and how the ball would drop at midnight, I would announce, “Let’s practice counting down!” and we would shout out the numbers from 10 to 1 followed by a shout of “Happy New Years!”

My oldest daughter loved the counting and my littlest one enjoyed all the noise.

5.  Celebrate with Fireworks

We let the girls handle a couple of sparklers, and I was surprised at how quickly and excitedly they went through a whole box of snappers.  Then we lit a fountain-type firework in the street and did our many ooooohs and aaaaahs.

Many people set off fireworks at midnight, but we did all this just after the sun went down.

6. Dress Up

A great way to ring in the new year is by getting all dolled up – even if you’re just hanging out at home.  Whether you’re throwing (or attending) a party or just riding out the ball drop on your couch, adding a little frill to your outfit will make it extra special.

My girls got dressed up in twirl-worthy skirts and party bead necklaces.  Let girls paint their nails in fun colors.  Let boys try on silly neckties or style their hair in Mohawks.  Have fun with it.

7.  Eat Party Food

You may actually be throwing a party, but even if you’re not, celebrate the holiday like you are.  This goes along with #6.  Serve appetizers and tapas instead of a large meal.  Set out chips and dip, cheese and crackers, hot wings.

You could make regular food special, like serving hot dogs that have been cut in spirals and turned into “confetti ribbons.”

And eat grapes.  You’re young ones might not be able to stuff a dozen grapes in their mouths in a minute like the traditional Twelve Grapes of Luck, but you can still snack on them throughout the day.  It helped to sneak some more fruit into our day by announcing that they were good luck.

8.  Make a Giant Cookie Clock

Make a cookie cake into a Cookie Clock by adding chocolate numbers.  And, sure, I talked about numbers and counting with my daughter with this clock as inspiration, but really, we mostly made it for the sake of the chocolaty, gooey goodness.   Read about it here.

Cookie Clock 5

9.  Make Confetti Poppers

This was a New Years craft for us, because my kids helped.  We made confetti and made “poppers” that showered the confetti on us.  It was a fun addition to our celebration.  Here are our Confetti Poppers:

Confetti Poppers

10.  Serve Sparkling Grape Juice

But not just any sparkling grape juice… if you want to make it really festive, add in some cotton candy!

Cotton Candy Champagne

What New Year’s Eve traditions do you have?  How do you celebrate it with your kids?

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Painting With Chalk

Painting with Chalk

A bit of a warm streak hit us here in Florida while most of the rest of the country was freezing.  It’s a strange December when it’s 80 degrees outside.

Anyway, it does mean we’ve been spending plenty of time outdoors.  In shorts, too, but that’s not the point.

One of the things I showed my girls today was that chalk wasn’t just great for drawing – it was great for “painting,” too.

This is a method of drawing where you simply dip your chalk into a cup of water before drawing with it.  (Kind of like watercolor pencils.)

I let the chalk soak for a few seconds before drawing, and I repeatedly dipped it back into the water while drawing.  The wetter it was, the smoother the finished product.

Painting with Chalk

You can see that I made some different shapes to show my girls how the colors would look when the chalk was wet.  It was brilliant against the brick and smooth to the touch. My oldest daughter liked to blend the colors.

You could, obviously, also do this on concrete, but we have brick in the backyard.  Whatever surface you usually use for chalk drawings should work.

We also used the blocks from the chalkboard storage box and blocks set I made.

And my girls also drew all over themselves with the wet chalk.  My 21-month-old especially.  She covered her legs in the wet chalk, and thought it was hysterical.  Luckily, one of the reasons I love chalk so much is it’s very, very easy to wash off.

Have you tried this?  I’d love to know if your kids enjoyed it, too!

Coloring the Disney Box

coloring disney box

The best part of the Disney Store box?  What’s inside, of course!

What was inside were Christmas presents… and another surprise.

I opened the box that came in the mail when the girls weren’t around, expecting just the things I ordered awaiting me.  But, much to my delight, the inside of the box was a present in itself:  it was decorated with Disney characters.

The plain, brown cardboard part of the box was on the outside when it was packaged and delivered, with the fun stuff hidden inside.

So, after storing away the Christmas gifts in the closet, I opened up the box into a flat piece of cardboard, and invited my girls to draw on it, much like they did their gingerbread house.

There was an outline of Tinker Bell and Pluto all ready for their designs, plus a trail of pixie dust and plenty of white space to fill in.

A great way to keep my little artists entertained.  :)

Blustery Day Water Play

Blustery Day Water Play

Some days it’s just too cold and windy and blustery to play outside.

But we needed something to keep busy, and we’d already blown up the small pool the night before when we didn’t realize the sun wouldn’t be showing it’s face today.

So:  water play.

We moved the pool indoors to the dining room.  I filled two large plastic bowls with water, and placed them inside the pool.  Then collected as many measuring cups and spoons and general gadgets (whisks, funnels, mesh strainers) as I could find, and tossed them in the pool, too.

Then, I let the girls have at it.

Blustery Day Water Play

Blustery Day Water Play

Blustery Day Water Play

It was a great way to spend the afternoon.

I had to refill the large bowls a couple of times since most of the water ended up in the bottom of the pool anyway, but that’s the reason I had them wear swimsuits.

I kept towels nearby to clean up spills that splashed onto the dining room floor and also to wrap them in when they’d had enough.  But they spent so much time measuring and scooping and experimenting with the water to make setting it all up more than worthwhile.  We’ll be doing this again.

This activity can also easily be done in the bathtub if you don’t have a little, blow-up or plastic pool.  Or, if it’s a nice day outside, them you can just provide the bowls and tools spread out across the grass or a patio.

Either way, a fun yet educational (and basically free) way to keep your little ones entertained!