Frugal Family Fun!

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This February in British Columbia, a new official holiday was introduced called Family Day.  The holiday is intended to bring families closer together by providing a special day to just spend time together. So in honour of this new holiday, I have listed some fun and inexpensive ways to bond together as a family. Also for your enjoyment, my six year old has written a song just for the occasion! (Click on the link below to have a listen.)

Fun ideas for cold and dreary winter nights!

1.Have an inside camp out with sheets for a tent

2.Have a pick up party (clean the house together with fun music and special treats!)

3.Watch a family movie and make tickets for popcorn and treats

4.Bake cookies together

5. Go swimming at the local pool

6.Visit the library

7.Have a family dance party

8.Host a fancy dinner for your kids, let them help prepare and serve

9.Make music together

10.Scrapbook together

11.Have a treasure hunt around the house

12.Play board games or do puzzles

13. Make art!  Put out various art supplies and get crafty!

14.Invite friends over for dinner

15.Build lego together

16.Have a fashion show

17.Make up a story together . Write it down and have children do the illustrations

18.Read together

19.Do a science experiment

20. Make sock puppets and have a puppet play

These are all ideas I have used with my own kids. If you have any more ideas to share, please let me know. I’d love to hear from you!

Encouragement

matti keyboard

Today is my son’s 16th birthday. Seems like just yesterday he was a toddler climbing on the furniture and exploring everything life had to offer.  As parents, we encouraged him to try new things and gave him plenty of opportunities to try out his creativity.  Crayons and glue were always close by. Yes, sometimes the house did get messy, but children thrive when given the encouragement to use a variety of media to express themselves. I was watching a video clip the other day from the Octomom’s blog page (don’t ask me why I was there, curiosity I suppose) and her parenting advice was to keep crayons and markers out of the house in order to sustain a clean home.  This broke my heart, the very symbol of childhood taken out of the home. I’m sure she is doing the best she can with what she has to work with, but children that are denied the means in which to create often suffer in many academic and social ways later in life. There is much research to support this. (You can google for more information or if you would like to message me, I can send you some articles to read.)  As my son grew, we replaced the crayons with lego.  Mountains of lego were ever present and at times I thought I would scream from all of the lego everywhere. But he began to build some fantastic lego creations, even winning some awards which earned him some cash!  Music was another form of creativity we offered to our children. At a young age, we encouraged our son to try out his dad’s instruments. We bought him a small drum kit and let him bang around on it.  Again, one might wonder why in the world would you allow a child such freedom. First of all, we did set boundries. No banging after certain hours and because we loved our son, we wanted him to explore different interests in order to give him the confidence to pursue his dreams as he grew up. Whether those dreams involved the arts or not was irrelevant. What was important was that by giving him the opportunity to explore creativity in a safe and secure environment, he felt loved and encouraged.  What are my son’s passions today? He is a very talented musician who plays a variety of instruments! Did all of the creative opportunities we allowed him to explore as a young child contribute to his confidence to pursue music? You bet!  In the classroom and in the home, make sure to offer variety and opportunity to create, explore and to be encouraged!    (photo is of my son Matt at age 6 working on a keyboard composition.)

Last Minute Valentines

Short on time and cash? No problem!  Here are some quick and inexpensive valentines for you and your child to make. These make perfect classroom valentines or just a special valentine for a special little someone in your life. Image

We made these King and Queen Valentines by cutting out crown shapes and letting the children glue on hearts and jewels. Two holes were punched in the side for the lollipop.

ImageThese simple cards were made by placing a box of smarties and reeses pieces on a piece of card stock. For the smarties, we cut out a pocket shape of blue card stock and taped onto the smartie box to look like it was coming out of a pants pocket. So cute!

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Another simple candy card to make is the lifesaver card pictured above. Simply cut out a strip of card stock and fold to make an envelope. Place candy and saying inside, fold and tie with a ribbon. Children love these! Another variation could be to use tootsie rolls , gum or other candy for the cards. Get creative and make up silly sayings to go with the candy you are using!

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If you prefer not to use candy you can opt for the following valentines. Image

Wrap mini packages of microwavable popcorn in red paper.  Add caption and hearts for a cute classroom valentine. Or dress up a package of nuts for a special treat with the caption “I’m nuts for you!”  Just make sure there are no nut allergies before handing out these.

Hope that these ideas have inspired you to get creative and remember it isn’t the gift, it is the thought that counts! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentine Butterflies

To make this beautiful butterfly collage, simply cut out various heart shapes and let your child glue them onto construction paper in a butterfly shape.  This makes a lovely placemat for a Valentine party when laminated.ImageImage

Valentine Math

Here’s a simple yet fun math activity to do for Valentine’s Day.  Cut out heart shapes and write numbers on them. Laminate if you are using them for a classroom. Have children count out heart candies and place the correct number onto the heart shape cut-out. Image

Classical Music and the Young Child

There has been much debate on whether or not classical music is beneficial to the development of young minds.  It is my experience that classical music does indeed benefit children of all ages. Children love to hear the different sounds orchestral instruments can make. Letting children listen to various types of music helps to develop creativity within the young mind. Classical music serves as the foundation on which most styles of music are built upon so by exposing young children to Bach and Beethoven, you are helping to foster a love of music which can last a life time.  Because it is close to Valentine’s Day, I have been playing various classical love songs for the children and to my surprise they have quite enjoyed this exercise.  I keep a variety of instruments close by so that they can experiment and try to mimic the sounds and melodies that they have listened to. By encouraging children to try new sounds and songs, you are giving them the confidence to become musicians and to appreciate music.  Here is a short clip of my two little ones trying out the love song, “Habanera” from the opera Carmen.  I guarantee it will put a smile on your face!

Shaving Cream Snow

If you aren’t fortunate enough to live in the north where snow falls freely, here is a fun way to play in the snow without the cold.  Using a basic shaving cream, spray cream directly onto table, window, mirror or bath surface.  Kids can use fingers to make pictures in the “snow”.  I use a sensitive based cream for my kids because they have dry skin in the winter, but any cream will work nicely.  My kids LOVE to play with shaving cream in the bathtub. They could stay in there for hours if I let them. When teaching, I spray the cream onImage tables and let the children play with cars, cookie cutters and other toys in the “snow”. This is such a fantastic activity for pennies. We get our shaving cream from the dollar store and it lasts for several play times.  (This picture of my daughter playing with shaving cream was taken right before her bottom tooth fell out! )