Category Archives: Arts and Crafts

Ideas and activities that you can do with your kids—at home or on the road. Slip on your grubbies, roll up your sleeves and put on your happy face. We are going to help you spend quality time with your kids while you all get in touch with your creative side.

Affordable Winter Birthday Party ideas for Kids

Snowman-fun-for-kids-in-winter

Brrr.

Yes, it is cold out there.

Winter has finally arrived—but don’t let that get you down. Go ahead, celebrate winter. Revel in it. Throw a party and make the most of it while it lasts. Spring will be here before you know it.

Kids love it. If your child’s birthday is coming up soon, and you live in a place where the snow piles up, you’re in luck. You can have a great party outside in the snow, the kids will have a blast and unlike a trip to Disney world, you won’t have to spend much money.

Even though the snow can be the bane of an adult’s existence, kids consider the snow to be fun, exciting, and full of opportunities. When dressed warmly, they don’t even seem to notice how cold it is outside if they’re in the middle of building a snowman or making snow angels.

If you want to throw a birthday party, and winter wonderland is in your backyard, why not bundle up, have a lot of fun with your kids and save some money at the same time? If you love winter, then you will love this:

4 great ideas for winter birthday party activities for kids:

1. Snowman Building Competition:

Have the kids form teams of two or three, and each team can try to build the best snowman. (You and the other parents at the party can be the judge of who wins). You may want to give the kids some buttons, carrots, and scarves to decorate their snowmen with. Kids could also bring some supplies from home like hats and brooms, if you let their parents know about the competition in advance.

2. Snow Football

This is a particularly good idea if you’re throwing a party for young boys. Playing football in the snow is actually a lot safer than playing football any other time of the year. Piles of snow are generally a lot softer than the pavement. So, if kids happen to accidentally fall during the game, they can get right back up again and keep playing. It’s probably a good idea for you to have the kids play touch football instead of tackling football, especially if they’re on the younger side.

3. Snow Angel Competition

The kids make snow angels, and the parents decide which one is the best. This is pretty similar to the snowman competition. When you hold any type of competition for kids, it’s actually a better idea to not offer some kind of prize or reward to the winner. Kids tend to get a little more upset about not winning if there’s a prize involved. Plus, forgoing the prizes saves you some money.

Winter games for kids

4. Paper Snowflake Construction

Once the kids get tired from playing outside, you can take them all inside and have them make paper snowflakes using colorful paper. Kids love making their own snowflakes and taking them home as party favors. You could also have the kids draw snowmen and other winter characters. Having the kids make their own party favors is a great way to cut corners.

Sound like fun? Consider your own version of the activities above, put on your best winter gear and get outside. This year, celebrate the best that winter has to offer and throw a snow party to remember for your birthday boy or girl this year!

About the Author:

Lisa is a guest blogger and mom with many years of experience throwing everything from Super Mario birthday partys to a celebrity dress-up party on a budget. Throwing a birthday party? Need some help with ideas and solutions? You can get everything you need for a fun and memorable event from thePartyworks.

Fun for Kids at the Toronto Christmas Market

Toronto Christmas Market in the Distillery DistrictWho said a Winter Wonderland needs snow? If the crowds at the Distillery District’s Toronto Christmas Market opening ceremonies are any indication, the spirit of Christmas prevails with or without the fluffy white stuff.

This relatively new city tradition (inspired by the Christmas Markets in Germany and now in its second year) is a welcome addition to the holiday activities available to Torontonians in December. Every Christmas delight is covered, from a stand where you can purchase a Christmas tree for your home, to miniature cottages spread throughout the Distillery selling gifts and snacks, to a neighbourhood-wide liquor license (take your pick between beer or mulled wine), to the spectacular 45-foot Christmas tree (donated by Trees Ontario) and decorated with mint green sashes, shiny red ornaments and more than 12,000 reed switch component Christmas light bulbs.

Sound like fun? Ferris Wheel at the Toronto Christmas MarketYour kids will think so too–this is one Christmas event in Toronto for the whole family, and it is in continuous improvement in this regard. This event is so kid-friendly, it may come as a shock to your children! My advice would be to tell them you’re all going out to pick a Christmas tree, and let them discover the ferris wheel and the carousel for themselves. That’s Christmas magic.

On top of the tremendous novelty of outdoor carnival rides in winter, your kids will love the free candy canes, hot chocolate, fudge, and other ‘sugar plums’ on offer; though they won’t enjoy the subsequent trip to a Toronto dentist as much, ’tis the seaon!

Make this Christmas season a magical one for your kids by attending the FREE Toronto Christmas Market. For the occasion, one of the cobblestone streets in the Distillery has been renamed Santa’s Lane. Father Christmases of all cultures and customs will be present to tell their traditional stories and fill hearts with cheer, but to get to Santa’s house children must first find their way through a maze made out of small pine trees.

– Santa will be in the Distillery on weekdays from 2 p.m.7 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m., with a reindeer petting zoo on location during weekend hours.

-There will be daily reading of Grimm Brothers classics, and real-life characters Father Christmas and the Christmas Angel walking around.

– Write the North Pole via Santa Mail! Canada Post is providing two letter boxes from which letters will be shipped express to Santa. Kids can write Carollers at the Toronto Christmas Marketletters in Santa’s Workshop (indoors) as well as make crafts, stocking stuffers and play Christmas games with other children. With so much to see and do, you might want to make a whole day out of it, bringing lunch containers or opting to try some of the German street fare (like hot pretzels or schnitzel) available.

– Finally, take photographs! Lenzr.com is sponsoring a Toronto Christmas Market photo contest, rewarding the best photograph taken of the market with $250. 2nd place will receive a $250 restaurant gift certificate, and third place will receive a $100 gift certificate courtesy of the Distillery District.

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Fingerplay for the five and under set: Five Little Leaves

Leaf coloouring activities for Kids

Colouring activities for Kids

Hello Parents and caregivers of children under five…

Here is a fun fingerplay that you can enjoy again and again with your child and children as you adjust to the cooler weather, spend more time inside and celebrate the fall season together!

Fingerplays support your child’s development in so many ways. They encourage your child to listen and to speak, to co-ordinate hand and finger movements that accompany the words, to use their imagination, to practice counting and to hear the musical quality of spoken words. They play an important part of your children’s fine motor skills development which is the precurser to learning to draw, write and work with their hands.

You don’t need props to do this fingerplay, but the rhyme can easily be extended into a fun and simple craft activity, if you like. All you need are construction paper, tape, pictures of leaves (many can be found in Google Images, or here at 321coloringpages) and crayons or markers or pastels or paints…

When you have found leaf images you like, encourage your child to colour them, then help with cutting them out. Set the leaves aside, then cut out five strips of construction paper, just long enough to wrap around your fingers, like rings. Tape the ends together.

Cut strips of paper long enough to wrap around each finger

Now you can attach the leaves to the rings using paper clips. Put the leaf rings on your fingers and then you are ready to recite this simple rhyme that the little ones adore. With each repetition you can easily remove one leaf at a time by sliding off the paper clip. The leaf cut outs can be used to help your child understand number concepts such as counting and subtracting in a creative way.

Leaf finger Puppets

Leaf finger Puppets

 

Be prepared to say this rhyme over, and over and over again:

Five little leaves went out to play (hold up five fingers)

They danced upon a tree one day (wave hand back and forth)
The wind came blowing through the town
Wooooooooo!
And one little leaf came blowing down (wave one finger back and forth in a downward direction)

Repeat this rhyme, subtracting one leaf each time until no little leaves remain.

For more information on the importance of art in children’s education, or for educators, parents and care providers who are looking for creative ideas to share with young children, please feel welcome to participate in helping to create a community of teachers and learners who enrich the lives of young children through the arts at the Early Childhood Arts Connection.

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Photo Contests for Fall

October is an exciting time for kids – winds howl as classroom chatter turns to preparation for Halloween. “What are you going to be this year?” becomes the most-repeated question, though it’s often met with “It’s a secret!” Halloween is a great time to create lasting memories with your children, especially if you’re willing to get crafty and creative and help your child make a great costume. Many little girls may want to dress up as their favourite Disney princess and boys may likewise wish to personify a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle or another superhero, but convincing them to spend some time with you to see what costume creations you can come up with together may be easier than you think.  Your child may have their heart set on a store-bought costume; suggest making one together and tell them that if they really don’t like the costume they make themselves you can still go shopping for another one. If that still doesn’t work, it’s time to pull out the big guns: Lenzr‘s fall photo contests provide a lucrative incentive.

Homemade Halloween Costume Photo ContestThe Homemade Halloween Costume photo contest is proud to be your secret Halloween weapon this year. When you tell your child you can win $250 in cash (or candy) by making the best homemade costume it may not be long before you see pipe bending and box collecting going on in your living room as your young robot creates his/her new look. Boxes are versatile costume-building tools–you can make refrigerators, ovens, ‘kid-in-the-showers’–tin foil for sci-fi, burlap for zombies or mummies, or real flowers for Mother Nature. A homemade costume will carry with it the pride of its conception and construction, and the fond memories of making said costume with a parent will last indefinitely. You’ll also save money, and might even win money!

This contest was sponsored by a boutique marketing agency that specializes in social media contests.

The House for Renovation photo contest is another Halloween-themed challenge–this time focusing on that creepiest of buildings, House for Renovation Photo Contestthe infamous haunted house. The contest is titled differently, but haunted houses and houses in need of renovation are one and the same to Lenzr. They are not, however, one and the same to kids–kids wouldn’t give a second thought to a deflating porch or leaky roof, but tell them you suspect the place might be haunted and you’ll have instant interest. There are lots of Haunted House hay rides or neighbourhood walks at this time of year, and possibly even a house in need of renovation, I mean…Ghostbusters, on your own block. Try to include a story in your entry (even if it’s just what you and your kids imagine might be inside scaring people away).

The prize is an Apple iPad, courtesy of the contest’s sponsor, a Toronto mortgage broker.

Our Daily Bread Photo ContestThe Our Daily Bread photo contest leaves behind the chocolate, chips, pop and sugary candy of Halloween for the wholesome and sustaining taste of bread. Bread is an ancient food source vastly superior to the processed sugars that are soon to be the bane of teachers’ existences across North America. Do you ever bake your own bread at home? Breadmaking is not as difficult as it’s made out to be, and is certainly yet another way to connect with your children, while at the same time teaching them of the importance of making healthy, delicious food, and demonstrating their creative skills by taking a photograph that looks appetizing.

The prize is a breadmaker courtesy of the contest’s sponsor, a Natural Artisan Bakery that sells all its organic ingredients online.

The Warehouse Stockpiles photo contest is the most challenging contest of the lot, but rewards the best photograph with a great Warehouse Stockpiles Photo Contestprize. This contest is looking for submissions that depict inventory management and this could include car parts, food supplies and even children’s toys. This could be a great learning exercise for kids; young kids don’t think about things like manufacturing or distribution or production planning, often times they think that the store is where the process begins. If you are able to find a warehouse for you and your child to photograph, it will open their eyes to all the tremendous work that goes into bringing products to the public.

The prize is $250 and a photo licensing agreement with the contest’s sponsor, a manufacturing software making that is looking for warehouse-related photos for its website.

Fun time activities for kids in the Fall

Autumn is such a beautiful time of year.

Watching leaves change from green to gold, red, orange and brown seems so magical to young children.  The different colours and the shapes of the leaves can easily inspire creative art activities to enjoy with your child. Leaf rubbings are simple, and always fun to do for toddlers and preschoolers. They can be a lovely follow-up to an afternoon of looking at and playing in the leaves.

Go for a walk in the park. Bring along a paper bag and collect a variety of leaves – maple, oak, basswood, ash.  When you’re ready for some creative art, place a few leaves under a piece of newsprint. Then hold fall colour crayons on their sides and rub them over the top of the paper to reveal the textures and patterns on the leaves.  Children strengthen the small muscles in their fingers as they grasp and control the crayons.  They also learn the names of different colours and relate these to the seasonal changes they are observing.

If you want to connect your art activity to a wonderful reading experience, go to the library and sign out Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert.  Her beautiful, fall colour illustrations use leaves of different shapes to create familiar creatures like chickens, pumpkins, fish and butterflies.  You and your child will really love identifying these shapes and following Leaf Man on his adventure.  Use the leaves you collected to imitate the patterns in the book or to invent your own!

Until the next activity, enjoy autumn with your child and the imaginative places that your shared activities can take you.

How to save money when having a baby…

bring home the baby without bringing down the house

Bring home the baby without bringing down the house…

Saving Money on Baby

Having children can be expensive. When you’re just starting out with a baby, it can be easy to spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on new baby gear, clothing, diapers and other necessities. Fortunately, there are many ways to save money with a little planning. I am expecting my first baby in December, and I have already acquired two car seats, a crib, a swing, clothing, pregnancy books, and more without having spent any money. Here are some of the ways I did it, as well as a few other tips for how to save money when you have a baby:

Get it for Free

Of course, this is what we’d all like to do. Fortunately, when you have a new baby, there are many ways to get items for free. Take advantage of all the inevitable offers you will get for hand-me-downs from friends and family members. You can upfit the items by giving them a good wash, paint where needed, or add new embellishments. Many times, you won’t have to do anything since the items will be in such good condition. Another option for finding free goods is to look at Freecycle, an online recycling community in which members give away unwanted or unused household goods. You can even post “wanted” ads. Another Excellent Option is to download the Bunz App and find stuff you can trade for. It’s a cashless economy but you can trade your stuff for other people’s stuff or trade it for Btz coins that are good for anything in the Bunz community on Facebook and beyond.

Buy Used

Goodwill, Craigslist, Kijiji, thrift shops, and yard sales are great places to find items for babies and young children. Children outgrow their things so quickly that parents don’t have much else to do with them besides give them away. Items will still be in good condition, and most likely not more than a few years old (meaning that some trends may still be holding up). The best part is that you’ll get items at a fraction of the cost.

Use Cloth Diapers

They are a bit more expensive on the front end – materials cost more and you have to buy pails and cleaners – but they will cost far less than disposable diapers in the long run. Disposable diapers will have to be changed more times than you think possible in a day, and you’ll end up spending hundreds in a few short months. Cloth diapers are no more messy than disposable diapers; they just require more upkeep.

Breastfeed

It’s better for your baby, and it costs far less than formula. In fact, it costs nothing. (Obviously, you dads can’t breastfeed, but you can encourage your partners to do so.) Formula can also cost hundreds or thousands of dollars over a short period of time, and it contains chemicals and additives that can be harmful to your baby. Breastfeeding is free (unless you need to buy a breast pump to go back to work), and it allows you to be sure of what you’re feeding your baby.

Coupons

Many, many companies offer coupons, discounts, and other deals to new parents. Take advantage of these deals, and sign up for newsletters or other e-mail clubs, which can entitle you to exclusive savings and giveaways. Sign up for the major daily deal providers like Groupon, Dealicious, DealFind, WebPiggy and EthicalDeals. There’s no shame in getting something for half price, especially when you were going to buy it anyway.

Get Crafty

Finally, many costly baby items such as custom clothing or décor can be made if you have a little imagination and some crafty skills. Even if you are a relative beginner, you can modify or upfit items to your liking: add applique to onesies for cute customs, paint furniture for your own unique look, or make your own wall hanging with cloth or construction paper. If you really don’t know where to start, look for tutorials online or in craft books.

What other ways have you found to save money when welcoming a new baby?

Have any of these tips worked for you?

Send us your money saving tips and we just might publish them here on HeadsUpDad.

Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blogger for First in Education where she’s recently written about material scientist careers along with a guide to online electronics technology programs. In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, traveling, and working with origami.

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