Kids & Family

How to Survive Online Learning in Elementary School

The new school year is here and many kids will begin this year with some form of online learning. For our youngest learners, online learning can be difficult. This is a critical time for social-emotional development as well as academics. How can we survive online learning while still instilling a love for learning and striving to meet rigorous academic standards as we begin this school year? Here are some things to include in your family’s day that will help keep the kids busy, creative, and happy during online learning this year. 1. Create a Routine Your child’s teacher will have a set routine that they will follow during the morning meeting and throughout the day online. It is important to extend this into your at-home learning environment. Here are a few things you can do to establish a routine at home and set your child up for success as they begin the new school year: New Routines For a New School Year Set an alarm and begin the day as you would if you were getting ready to leave for school – It is easy to stay in pajamas all day, but children thrive with routine. Remember, we hope to return to traditional schooling later in the year, so if you have this routine already in place your transition will be much easier! Create a space for learning – Make a desk next to your desk, create a classroom in your play area, or designate your kitchen table as the official learning spot. Have a set (yet flexible) time for learning activities, lunch, and recess – Having a schedule is an important part of the school day. Making the switch from the carefree days of summer to a more structured day can be difficult for kids. As many of us hope to transition back to traditional school days in the future, it is important to structure our days while doing online learning at home. Use timers to indicate when it is time to transition to the next activity – This is especially helpful to break-up the day and gives kids a break from electronics. Set the timer for 20-30 minutes so kids can take a brain break and do a movement activity. Make time for art, music and independent play Print your copy of the School Day Checklist and Daily Schedule 2. Foster Independence In a classroom setting, children are encouraged to develop self-help skills and do more things independently. Through daily classroom jobs and developmentally appropriate expectations, teachers help children develop a sense of responsibility and help them strive for independence. Here are a few activities that your child can start doing at home to foster independence and create a sense of responsibility: Dress independently – Kids can learn how to do zippers and buttons but we have to resist the urge to rush over and do it ourselves because it is quicker. Help Cook and Clean-up after meals – Check out my Kids Cooking Challenge to learn more about the different activities kids can do in the kitchen. Encourage problem-solving – instead of immediately telling kids how to fix something, help them develop the skills to work it out on their own. Ask questions instead of giving answers: How could you do to solve that problem? What is the hardest part? Can we break this up into smaller steps to help us solve the problem? Encourage patience – Our kids often expect our undivided attention, but in a classroom setting they must learn patience. If they ask you to do something do not drop what you are doing – set a timer and have them wait or have a red light green light system in place that let’s them know if it is a time that you can talk. Cube Timers are perfect for teaching time management. 3. Schedule Playtime Giving children time to play isn’t just for fun, it is an opportunity to develop critical thinking skills, problem solving skills and social-emotional skills. Below are some important play/learning areas that you will see in a typical classroom that you can also provide at home. Pretend Play Children learn about the world around them through pretend play. It gives kids the opportunity to control the environment and provides a time where they can work through feelings, expand their creativity and problem-solving skills. Here are a few ways to add pretend play into your child’s day. Offer pots, pans and some cooking utensils – perhaps they will be a chef or start a band Provide menus, aprons, coffee cups, and dishes to create a restaurant. You can even let them create their own snack to serve. Having a basic Kids Science Lab Kit to use for pretend play will provide hours of fun. Open-Ended Play Open-ended play is an unstructured playtime that allows children to play independently and use their imagination to make decisions about how the materials will be used. By adding these open-ended activities into your day, you will find that your child will become more independent, creative, and self-directed which will give you more time to focus on work or have some much-needed me-time. Learn more about the benefits of open-ended play. Sensory Play Sensory play stimulates children’s senses through touch, smell, sight, sound, and taste and is an integral part of brain development in children. It is how young children learn about the world. As children get older, adding sensory experiences throughout the day still has many benefits. Sensory play improves fine motor skills, helps children retain information, and can be very calming for children who are upset or overstimulated. Sensory Play Ideas Water play Playdough Slime Sensory Bins Loose Parts Kinetic Sand Water Beads Physical Play When kids spend a large part of their day learning online, we cannot forget to balance that time with physical activity. Kids need fresh air and brain breaks throughout the day. According to the CDC school-aged children should get 60 minutes of physical activity each day! Whenever possible, send the kids outside! According to this article from Today’s Parent, when kids spend time outdoors it boosts their academic performance, improves sleep and increases happiness! Learn some new dance moves or try a kids yoga class online – here’s a great list of online PE classes for kids. Make time to get fit as a family and do these activities together! 4. Make Time for For Screen-free Activities Online learning puts kids in front of a screen for hours each day. It is important to give their developing brains time to away from screens. Podcasts and Audiobooks It can be challenging to keep kids motivated to play independently day after day. Podcasts and audiobooks are a great way to keep kids busy while developing listening skills while learning new things. Check out this list of great podcasts for kids from Classroom Nook. Kids Echo Dot My kids use their Echo Dot to decompress throughout the day. They listen to music, podcasts and stories and it has really helped them stay busy. They love to draw or build with Legos while listening to their Echo Dot. Music – Whether kids listen to music or create it, music has so many benefits for kids. Take Lessons has some great ideas for Music Crafts and Activities for Kids Art – provide open-ended art supplies to encourage creativity paper and old magazines paint and canvas air dry clay You Got This! We don’t know what to expect this year, but we can to do our best to provide a fun and engaging learning environment at home. Remember to stay flexible, have fun, and show love because there’s a lot of big things for our little ones to deal with right now! …
Summer Camp – In the Garden

Summer Camp – In the Garden

We will get our hands dirty as we explore everything in the garden. So many learning opportunities can be found whenever you dig deep in the soil, hunt for bugs and investigate plants. Get ready for making mud pies, hanging with creepy crawly things, and learning about what makes our garden grow! Summer Camp – In the Garden – Day One Listen to Diary of a Worm online or click here to order your copy from Amazon. Activities Bug Investigation Head out to the garden, park or forest and investigate the world below our feet. Materials: Shovel Magnifying Glass Bug Catcher Ultimate Bugopedia – this book will keep kids busy all summer, as they explore the backyard for new specimens to learn about. Let’s go on a bug hunt! Look under rocks and logs for insects. Grab a scoop of soil and spread it out on a big sheet of paper. Then use your magnifying glass to search the soil for bugs. Gently place the insects into your bug catcher or plastic container and use the bug encyclopedia to identify the bugs. After you identify your bugs, carefully return them to the soil. Diary of a… After reading Diary of a Worm, print off a copy of Diary of a… HERE and create your own comic book. You can pretend to be a different insect, or you can create a comic from your point of view. My kindergartener’s book is called Diary of a Butterfly! This great opportunity to practice writing and researching facts about the main character. Snack What has eight legs that kids love to eat? Spider Crackers! Spread peanut butter or cream cheese on cracker rounds. Place four pretzel sticks on each side of the body. Then place a cracker on top and enjoy! Summer Camp – In the Garden – Day Two Listen to Hey, Little Ant online or click here to order a copy from Amazon. Song – The Ants go Marching Activities Create Your Own Insect Print these insect cards HERE and use them to create your own insect art. Play-Dough Insects Use art supplies and play dough to create colorful an interesting bugs! Materials Play-Doh – I love this no-cook play-dough recipe from Tinkerlab Art supplies – pipe cleaners, google eyes, foam craft sheets, cardboard, glitter beads & buttons. Clay or play-dough tools Activity Create body parts for insects using the play-dough Use various art materials for legs, eyes, wings, etc Try adding details and designs to your bugs with clay tools Insect Art with Nature Search your yard or park for materials to create these beautiful nature bugs. Materials Rock of various sizes Shells Twigs Flowers Leaves Bark Activity Use the insect art cards for inspiration or create your own insects from your imagination. Snack Make the childhood classic Ants on a Log for snack today! You can let the kids get creative with different spreads and ants to add to the top. Some yummy options: almond butter and chocolate chips cream cheese and blueberries Nutella and strawberries strawberry cream cheese and chocolate chips cheese spread and carrots Summer Camp – In the Garden – Day Three Podcast – Soil – Can You Dig It In this Brains-On podcast, you’ll find out how soil helps plants grow and learn about all of the little organisms hidden in the soil and why they are so important. Activities Mud Kitchen Get ready to get messy! Clothes will be caked in mud, hands will be dirty, and a bath will be necessary, but your kids will love making mud pies in a mud kitchen! Gather old kitchen tools, cups, bowls and of course mud and let the creativity begin! Inspiration for Mud Kitchen Fun Mud and Nature Pies from Rhythms of Play Coffee Shop Mud Play from Happy Hooligans Dirt Investigation Investigate the layers of the Earth with this Sediment Jar activity from Raising Lifelong Learners. Snack Every kid loves making dirt cups to eat. The traditional recipe calls for chocolate pudding, but we decided to make a dirt cup sundae with chocolate ice cream and crushed up chocolate cookies. Ingredients chocolate ice cream Oreos or any chocolate cookies broken into small pieces gummy worms whipped topping – mix with a little green food coloring for grass In a clear cup, alternate layers of chocolate ice cream and crushed cookies. Then top with green whipped cream and place your worms on top! Summer Camp – In the Garden –Day Four Video – Cat in the Hat – Flutter by Butterfly This video explores the amazing migration of the monarch butterfly. Activities Flower Painting There are so many ways to paint beautiful flowers. Here are some of my favorite flower painting activities. Watercolor Flowers from Projects with Kids Bug Movement Activities Get moving like our garden friends today! Print these Bug Action Cards HERE for a fun bug movement game. You can also play a game of bug charades. Do your best impersonation of an insect and have someone guess who you are! Snack Here’s a twist on the camp classic –Bug Juice from Thrifty Fun. Summer Camp – In the Garden –Day 5 Video – Sci Show Kids – Worms are Wonderful Learn about what makes earth worms so helpful with this great video. Activities Planting a Garden Grab some soil and seeds packets and let your kids plant their own garden. This Garden Root Viewer is a great way for kids to learn about how different vegetables grow. It includes everything you need to grow a mini garden at home. Exploring Seeds Let the kids explore the different seeds in the seed packets. A fun activity is to take a few seeds out of each packet and let them guess what seed goes with each seed packet. Flower Dissection Explore the parts of a flower with this Flower Dissection activity from Sugar Spice and Glitter. Get your copy of this Flower Dissection printable HERE. Snack Learn about the edible parts of a plant at snack time. Choose one from each group and put on a plate Let your child guess what part of the plant they are eating …
End Sibling Battles with the 30 Day Sibling Challenge

End Sibling Battles with the 30 Day Sibling Challenge

Are your kids constantly fighting? Arguing and sibling rivalry is a common household problem, especially at a time when they are forced to spend more time together than ever before. If your kids constant bickering and tattling is driving you crazy, it’s time to try the 30 Day Sibling Challenge! The 30 Day Sibling Challenge is a way for your kids to reconnect, work together as a team, and have fun! Each day your kids will pick one of the challenges from the chart to do together. At the end of the 30 Day Sibling Challenge, your family can celebrate this awesome accomplishment with something special – ice cream sundaes, family movie night, a new board game. This is an opportunity for your kids to make decisions, so let them take the lead and decide what activity to do as they plan and collaborate. These activities focus on creating a connection, fostering independence, creativity, and generosity as well as developing problem-solving skills. The 30 Day Sibling Challenge 1. Play a game This is a fun list of old-school games for kids to play. This list of classic outdoor games from Fatherly are a must for the warmer weather months. 2. Draw a picture for each other Children learn a lot from one another. Drawing together allows older siblings to teach younger siblings as well as inspiring each other in their creative pursuits. 3. Make a snack together Whether it is a simple trail mix or working together to follow an easy recipe, let the kids decide what culinary specialty they will create. 4. Build a fort Something special happens when kids create their own space to play. 5. Challenge your parents to a race Kids love racing parents (especially if they will be the victors) 6. Have a sleepover As my kids get older, we have a sleepover night every few weeks. They plan what to bring and where to sleep. I love peeking in and see them cuddled together reading and giggling. 7. Read a book together 8. Play the floor is lava Give them pillows and furniture and watch as they save each other from the dangerous lava that surrounds them. 9. Build a castle with blocks Sometimes it’s hard for kids to work together to build something. This is a great way for them to learn to listen to another person’s thoughts and decide how to work together to achieve a goal. 10. Prepare a family picnic Kids love planning something special for the family to enjoy together. Older kids can pack the snacks and make the sandwiches. Younger kids can decide what they want to eat and work together to pack the picnic basket and set everything out for the picnic. 11. Sing silly songs together Here’s a great list of silly songs for kids to sing together! 12. Look at baby pictures together Looking at baby pictures together and talking about when they were little is a great way for kids to connect. 13. Go on a nature treasure hunt I love this free printable nature scavenger hunt from Empathy Encompassed. 14. Work on a puzzle together 15. Do something nice for your parents This is an opportunity for your kids to practice thoughtfulness and generosity while using teamwork. If you’re looking for more ways to teach your kids to live generously, head over to my post Raising Kind and Generous Children – Simple Ways Kids Can Give Back. 16. Play Would Your Rather Would you rather is a fun game that kids can play anywhere. The object of the game is to come up with two scenarios and choose which one you would rather do if you had to make a choice. The questions can be silly or serious, but the point is to get the kids talking and learning more about each other. 17. Create art and have an art show Let your children go crazy with the art supplies and then display them in a hallway for everyone to admire. They could even dress up and make and serve hors d’oeuvres. 18. Try to make each other laugh Silly faces, fart jokes, a goofy dance…anything to make the other person laugh. 19. Draw a huge picture together Bust out the butcher paper and art supplies and let the kids create a mural. 20. Perform a play for your parents Your kids can create their own play to perform or grab one of these simple skit books from Amazon. These books are great boredom busters for kids and reader’s theatre is a wonderful opportunity to enhance reading fluency and comprehension! 21. Kids against parents game night Kids love playing games. For the next family game night, have the kids team up together against the parents. This online Pictionary word generator is a great activity or give one of these team games a try: 22. Create an obstacle course Outside or inside, planning an obstacle course is the perfect way to get kids moving. 23. Play the mirror game Kids take turns doing different actions and the other person must copy. 24. Have a pretend birthday party Who doesn’t love a birthday party? Kids can make invitations for friends (stuffed animals, dolls or mom and dad), make decorations, and plan the snacks and activities. Let them bake a cake or make a pretend cake with a box and art supplies. 25. Have a dance party 26. Do a chore together When kids tackle a job together, they learn the importance of teamwork. 27. Make a LEGO city 28. Surprise your parents with something special 29. Camp inside or outside. Build a fort or pop up a tent for a camping adventure. 30. Draw portraits of each other I love this activity! Each child draws a portrait of his/her sibling. The finished masterpiece is something that you will definitely want to display in a frame! Click HERE to print your copy of the 30 Day Sibling Challenge If you enjoyed the kids cooking challenge, try the Kids Cooking Challenge for even more family fun! …
Kids Cooking Challenge

Kids Cooking Challenge

When kids spend time in the kitchen, they learn skills that will last them a lifetime. Kids of all ages can help in the kitchen. Not only do they find it fun, but it is also a wonderful way to get them to try new foods and take pride in helping out. The Kids Cooking Challenge is a fun way to get the kids involved in cooking and the perfect way to help develop their culinary skills. The Kids Cooking Challenge will inspire culinary creativity, allow kids to take on new responsibilities, teach them about planning and following directions, and also help them learn about kitchen safety. Not only are you teaching your child so many important skills, but you are also bonding and creating memories! Let the Kids Cooking Challenge Begin I like to think of this challenge as a way to get kids excited about cooking and place for parents to go for fun ideas. The kids cooking challenge is not meant to be done every day; however, if you are super motivated and have the time, go for it! Having a helper when you’re rushing to make dinner can be more frustrating than helpful, so choose a time that works with your schedule. That way you can enjoy the time you are spending together. All ages and ability levels welcome, but some little ones will need a lot more help from an adult. Always supervise your young cooks in the kitchen and make adjustments if necessary! As your kids move on to the teen years, they can be more independent in the kitchen. It’s important to teach them how to safely use all of the kitchen equipment before they make the leap from the kitchen helper to cook. Kids Cooking Challenge Recipe Ideas Scroll down to print your free copy of the Kids Cooking Challenge to hang on your refrigerator! Then get the kids involved in choosing the activities and recipes to try. You can even write it on the calendar so they have something to look forward to later in the week. Recipes Chips Let kids explore making vegetable and fruit chips in the oven. Get creative with different flavors. Our favorite is sprinkling a little taco seasoning on kale chips! Although the adult will have to do the cutting, kid can help with adding oil and spices and spreading the chips onto the baking sheet. Kale – they look a little scary, but kids love them and they are super healthy! Zucchini Apple Potato Dips Sometimes getting kids to eat their vegetables seems impossible. Pairing veggies with a healthy dip might be the answer. Try one of these great dip recipes to go with your homemade chips! Hummus – kids can help with opening cans, squeezing lemons, and pouring ingredients. You can also try a few different kinds of hummus and decide which one you like the most. Have you ever had dessert hummus with graham crackers? Guacamole Healthy Ranch Dip Sauces Kids will be amazed to learn that sauces can be made at home instead of coming out of a jar. Tomato sauce – kids can press garlic, open cans, and cut herbs with scissors Cauliflower – a delicious and healthy alternative to alfredo sauce Pesto – making pesto offers a lot of opportunities for pint-sized assistance – kids can tear-off basil leaves, sprinkle in parmesan, zest and squeeze lemons – such a delicious learning activity Applesauce – making homemade applesauce with kids is fun and it makes the house smell amazing. Kids can use an apple cutter to cut apples and then you just throw the apples and spices into a crockpot to cook down. With a food mill, you don’t even need to peel tomatoes or apples for sauce! And they are fun for little ones to turn! Using this OXO Good Grips food mill makes sauce making easy and fun! Farm to Table Stainless Steel Chinois Dinner Recipes Kids can help with almost any dinner. Whether it’s setting the table, grabbing ingredients for you, or washing the vegetables you can find a number of ways for kids to help. Pizza – Tortilla pizza bites English muffin pizzas Pizza bread Pizza dough – kneading and stretching the dough is the best sensory experience for kids Eggplant parmesan kids can help with breading the slices of eggplant and sprinkling the cheese on top Walnut Meatballs – kids will love forming these meat-free meatballs Breakfast Recipes Create your own toast choose a spread – nut butter, cream cheese, Nutella, jelly add your toppings – nuts, fruit, chocolate chips, granola older kids will have fun creating these fun animal face toasts Pancakes – pancakes are easy to follow for master mixers that are learning to read recipes French toast – kids can help dip and flip Mini Egg and Cheese Frittatas Snack Ideas Fruit kabobs Energy bites Smoothies Cheeseboard Click here to download your free copy of the Kids Cooking Challenge Tools for Little Chefs To get your kids excited about the Kids Cooking Challenge, add a few special kid-friendly tools to your kitchen. Sandwich & Vegetable/Fruit Cutters Kid’s Rolling Pin Kid’s Fruit & Vegetable Prep Set Safety Knives Kid’s Baking Set Kitchen Scale What’s your favorite thing to make with your kids? Notice: JavaScript is required for this content. …
The Best Gift Ideas for Busy Kids

The Best Gift Ideas for Busy Kids

If you’re looking for the ultimate guide to gifts for kids, look no further. These gift ideas will definitely keep kids busy and having fun for hours. As a teacher, I learned the importance of providing kids with toys that encourage problem-solving and creativity, educate, and provide open-ended play opportunities. There are many great premade craft kits out there, but giving your child a bucket of cool art materials or science tools to play with, will lead to bigger thoughts and more meaningful play than a one-time craft activity. Curious about the benefits of open-ended play for kids? Click here to learn more! This Little Nugget is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Gift Ideas For the Budding Gardener Gift Ideas for Future Scientists Gift Ideas for the next Picasso Gift Ideas for Future Engineers Gift Ideas for the Litte Chef Gift Ideas for Outside Adventures Gift Ideas for Little Learners Cool Gift Ideas Classic Gifts Ideas Experience Gifts Sometimes finding a gift option that will not end up in the land of lost toys in the back of the closet is appealing. If you’re looking for a non-toy option, kids an experience gift instead of the typical toy. Experience gifts are great because it gives you an opportunity to spend some quality time together somewhere fun. Click here to learn more about experience gifts. …
Experience Gift Guide

Experience Gift Guide

It seems like kids get gifts for many occasions – which means more stuff. If you have a toy box bursting at the seams, then this year you can make memories instead of more clutter. This experience gift guide offers great ideas for parents, friends and family members to gift your kids. Nature Center Activity + Magnifying Glass Many park programs and nature centers offer indoor and outdoor family-fun nature-filled activities throughout the year. Pick the one that fits best for your family. Roller Rink + Neon Bracelets Summon your inner 80’s spirit, and roller skate your way to a good time. You’ll be sure to light up the dance floor with matching neon bracelets. Yoga Class + Water Bottle Looking for a fun, healthy way to bond with your child? Many studios offer classes for families that you can take together. Recenter your mind and body and then enjoy a healthy smoothie afterwards. Zoo + Stuffed Animal For the animal lovers out there, wrap up a little stuffed animal, along with a certificate for a trip to the zoo or zoo membership. Make sure to snap a selfie of you, your child, the stuffed animal, and the real animal to capture the memory. Breakfast + Books For the little bookworm in your life, spend the morning grabbing a stack of pancakes at your favorite breakfast spot and then head to a bookstore to pick out a new book. Lounge around and read together and then talk about your favorite parts of the story. Beach/Pool + Sand Toys or Fun Towel Make a warm summer day extra special with a day of water fun with your little one. Surprise them with a new beach toy or cute towel for them to enjoy as they have fun in the sun. Baking Day If your kid loves to help out in the kitchen, then give them a day of baking with you! Wrap a kids’ cookbook and bookmark the special recipe for you to do together or give an apron with some fun baking tools. Movie or Play For this experience gift, wrap up a box of candy and print out a picture of one an upcoming movie or play you want to take the child to. Sledding + Hot Chocolate Head out to a park for some good’ol fashioned sledding fun! Some parks even have tow ropes to give you a lift up the hill. If snow tubing isn’t your thing, there’s always ice skating or skiing. After a day on the hill, warm up with a hot chocolate! Building Project + Measuring Tape Building something together is a great way to connect and create pride in a job well done. Some fun ideas for building projects you can do with kids: birdhouse, toolbox, balance board, butterfly house, LEGO figure display case. Home Depot Workshop – On the 1st Saturday of the month, Home Depot offers free kids workshops. Kids get to keep their craft, receive a FREE certificate of achievement, a workshop apron, and a commemorative pin while supplies last. Craft Project + Art Materials Making art together is a wonderful experience gift idea. Not only will you have fun doing an activity together, but you will create something that your child can keep to remember the special day. Nothing says I love you like bringing out the glitter and the glue! Some fun ideas for craft projects to do together: Paint a picture frame Use clay to make a bowl or pinch pot Paint on canvas String art Take Pictures + Make a Scrapbook Grab a camera or phone and capture your day in photographs. Take a trip to the city and look for cool architecture and unique sites, or put on your hiking shoes and take some snapshots of nature. Afterward, make a cute scrapbook to commemorate your fun adventure. Museum Day For this experience gift, plan a trip to a museum. If you want to include a little gift to go along with the museum theme, wrap a cool rock or fossil or a book that matches the museum’s theme so they can learn more after their visit. Pumpkin Farm + Carving Kit If your child has an autumn birthday, celebrate with a trip to the pumpkin farm. Make a day of bumpy wagon rides and hot apple cider and running through the field to find the biggest pumpkin to carve. You & Me Day Tickets Without a doubt, the best part of experience gifts is the opportunity to spend time together and create memories. Add to the fun of experience gift-giving with these printable experience gift tickets. You and Me Day tickets are fun and flexible. Gift all of the tickets at once and let your child redeem one each month or let your child open one each month to reveal the special day that you will enjoy together. Click here to learn more! …
How to Throw a Birthday Party While Social Distancing

How to Throw a Birthday Party While Social Distancing

As a result of social distancing measures we are all taking to stay safe during the pandemic, our kids are missing out on celebrating their birthdays with family and friends. Kids have endured a lot already, for this reason, it’s important to make the celebration as fun as possible. Although a traditional party is not possible right now, you can still throw a fun birthday party while social distancing. How to Throw a Virtual Birthday Party Start With Creating a Group Video Chat First choose a video conferencing app to host your party. Some popular options are: Facebook Messenger Skype Marco Polo Google Hangouts Houseparty Zoom Send an Invitation Then, send an invitation for people to join in the fun. Make sure to send the details about the app that will be used, any activities you have planned and the time you will be starting the video chat. Evite has free online invitations. They even have a virtual party invitation that includes a place to put the link to your video chat. Birthday Party in a Bag Birthday Activities to Do While Social Distancing Together with a little help from the party-goers parents and little extra planning, you can still include a fun activity and even some goodie bags for your child’s virtual party. Not only will kids love seeing their friends on their birthday, but they will also appreciate the normalcy of doing an activity together. First, pick a theme and plan a simple, fun activity for the kids to do together while they video chat. After you choose your theme and activities, plan what supplies you will need. You can order your supplies online and have them shipped to each party goer. Plan ahead to make sure the items will be delivered on time. Many stores like Michaels are offering online ordering with convenient same-day curbside pick-up. Another option is to make up a Birthday Party in a Bag that includes party favors, packaged treats and supplies. Then you can drop them off on everyone’s doorstep a few days before the party. Make sure to include everything the kids will need to participate in the activities. It’s also a good idea to add instructions in the invitation or send an email to the parents prior to the party so they can help set up the activity party begins. After all of the kids are logged into the virtual chat, the fun can begin. Let them catch up for a little while and then start the activity. Keep it easy and casual. Most importantly, remember to let the kids have fun and create memories together. Once everyone is finished with the project, have them share what they made and then everyone can sing Happy Birthday! Virtual Party Theme Ideas Art Party Choose one of These Step by Step Drawing Activities Oil Pastel Fox Drawing Owl Art Project Funny Monster Drawing Additional Art Party Ideas Wind Chimes Paint Your Own Flower Pot Create with Clay Give each kids a box of modeling clay and let the creativity begin! Pirate Party Paint Your Own Treasure Box Build Your Own Pirate Ship Pirate Coins Pirate’s Booty Unicorn Party Add a little sparkle to the birthday celebration with a unicorn themed party. Make Your Own Unicorn Key Chain Blindfolded Unicorn Drawing Game Each person at the party has to put on a blindfold and draw a picture of a unicorn. Then, share your picture with your friends. Unicorn Bingo Game Unicorn Bingo Unicorn Party Favors Unicorn Headbands Unicorn Horn Suckers LEGO Party For all of the LEGO lovers celebrating their birthday, make the most of your day with a virtual LEGO party. Send or drop off mini lego sets to everyone invited to the party. Have the kids build together as they video chat. Another option would be to let them make their own LEGO creation while they video chat and show each other what they made. Here are some easy LEGO sets that make are perfect for a LEGO Party: Birthday Treat Ideas In addition to sending friends fun activities to do in your Birthday Party in a Bag, you can also send a birthday treat! Don’t forget to have everyone sing Happy Birthday! More Fun Ways to Celebrate Your Kids Birthday While Social Distancing Make a Special Book In the weeks leading up to your child’s birthday, have friends and family send a note with a list of things they love about your child. When my daughter turns eight, I will have everyone send 8 Things I Love About Harper, and then I will put it into a book for her to read. Regardless of how you celebrate your child’s birthday, make sure to make it a special day. Maybe for a day, they can forget about everything that is going on and have a moment to feel like things are normal again. They will look back on this time and remember how special you made them feel and the outpouring of love from family and friends. This Little Nugget is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Looking for More Great Parenting Tips? Simple Ways to Connect with Your Child Parenting in a Time of Social Distancing …
Signs of Spring Bingo

Signs of Spring Bingo

Signs of spring are popping up everywhere. Enjoy the warmer weather while searching for signs of spring around the neighborhood or nearby nature center. With this printable Signs of Spring Bingo sheet, you can check off all of the signs of spring that you see or hear. 7 Signs of Spring Use your senses to help you spot these 7 signs of spring! Print out the Spring Bingo with Pictures or the Spring Bingo with Words and head outside to look for signs of spring. This is a great opportunity to get out of the house and head to a nature center where you will be sure to hear the call of the frogs and the pecking of woodpeckers! For extra fun and learning, try one of the accompanying activities below. 1. Flowers – early spring flowers that you might see emerging from the ground include daffodils, crocuses, and tulips. 2. Green Grass – the melting snow and spring rain helps our grass go from brown to green. To watch your own grass grow, try this fun Egg Head activity from Mother Natured. 3. Buds on Trees – buds contain the beginning of a leaf, shoot or flower. Create a tree bud observation sheet to record how the tree buds change. Choose a tree to observe. Draw a picture of what the buds look like and record the date. Every few days go to the same tree to observe how the buds are changing. Then, record your observation on your chart. 4. Robins – Robins are the first birds of spring. Watch for them as they begin to search for worms in the newly exposed grass. For additional activities, watch this video about robins and write down facts that you learned, see the lifecycle of a robin, or learn how to draw a robin. 5. Worms – if you dig into the soil or look on the ground after a heavy rain you will find earthworms. We like to save the worms after it rains and put them back in the soil. To learn more about worms watch this video or read facts about worms here. Books about Worms 6. Woodpeckers – You will often hear this bird sound before you see them. Woodpeckers use their beaks to peck at the bark of a tree to find carpenter ants, beetle larvae, and other insects. Did you know woodpeckers have super long tongues? Learn more here. 7. Frogs – This pond dweller is a springtime favorite and a very interesting amphibian to learn about. The lifecycle of a frog is amazing. Watching the metamorphosis of a frog is a learning experience your kids will never forget. Order a Grow A Frog Kit from Amazon This Little Nugget is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. For more springtime fun click here …
Weekly Activity Schedule

Weekly Activity Schedule

With everything completely out of our control and our lives turned upside down, it is important for our kids to continue to have things to look forward to, have some semblance of a routine, and the opportunity to make choices. Plan some fun and add a little routine into your week with this printable weekly activity schedule. This weekly schedule was not created to add more to your already overflowing plate. As our roles have changed to an all-in-one package as parent/teacher/employee, finding time for fun can be hard and sticking to a routine is even harder. These daily themes are there to help guide families in brainstorming ideas and planning activities to do throughout the week. The best part is that you can plan activities to fit your schedule and the level of parent involvement that you can handle. For example, on Make It Monday you can plan a cooking activity on a day your schedule is a little more flexible and on a day that you’re swamped, you can choose an art activity that can be done independently. Get the kids involved in picking the activities. The more buy-in the more likely they will be to participate! Weekly Activity Schedule Ideas Here are a few ideas to get you started with your weekly activity schedule. Each week I will be posting ideas on social media as well, so make sure to follow me! Make it Monday – Let’s get creative Kids in the Kitchen – pick a kid-friendly recipe and let your kids take over the kitchen. Check out my Pinterest page for cooking ideas for kids Art – Recreate famous works of art, sculpt with clay or take up weaving with this circle loom weaving activity. Music – introduce different musical genres, buy a recorder and have your kids learn the basics, or go to Classics for Kids for virtual music activities. STEM Project – add a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) project to your weekly activity schedule. Build a Catapult or design a bridge as an easy engineering activity. Take it Outside Tuesday – Make nature your classroom Build a fort – building a fort is a great engineering activity for kids. Have them draw a design, make a list of materials and then get busy building! Read outside – the best part about reading is you can do it anywhere. Throwdown a blanket and grab a basket of books for a day of reading in the sunshine. Pack a picnic – make the kids in charge of planning and packing the lunch for the day. My kids love creating the menu and making a list of everything we will need for our picnic. Nature Color Hunt – find something in nature for each color of the rainbow. Nature Walk Observation Journal – make a nature journal to record your observations. Weird Science Wednesday – explore – explode – examine Science Experiments – kids learning about science through hands-on activities. Many experiments take a bit of prep, but you can also encourage independent experiments with kitchen materials, water and ice, dirt and sand. Let kids mix things, use magnifying glasses, and discover what happens. Animal Research – read or watch videos and record what you learn in your Animal Research Book Mystery Science Lessons – Mystery Science is offering free lessons that include learning videos and accompanying activities. Soil nutrients experiment – learn how soil nutrients are beneficial to plants with these fun experients. Throwback Thursday – Way back in history History Podcast for Kids – The Past and The Curious has a huge library of interesting podcasts for kids to listen to. They range from bizarre to inspiring and all of them will certainly be entertaining. History for Kids – this is a wonderful resource for independent learning for older students. Let them choose a history topic to read about and then do a project to go with the topic. Field Trip to the Smithsonian Museum – visit the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC without leaving your house. Discover Kids – This is an amazing e-learning resource full of interesting facts in an easy to read format for kids. Discover Kids is offering Free Access until June 2020. Freebie Friday – Friday funday Virtual Field Trip – there are many different tours available online that go behind the scenes of different factories and businesses. Take a tour of Balloon Factory to learn how they are made. Yoga – do an online yoga class to center your mind and body with Cosmic Kids Yoga. Legos – Legos can offer hours of open-ended fun for kids and many leaning opportunities. Check out Learn with Legos for different educational activities that you can do with Legos. See a Broadway Show – Broadway has gone dark but you can still see some of the best broadway performances online. Attend a Concert – NPR is providing links to concerts that you can stream live during the quarantine. Super Saturday and Sunny Sunday Super Saturday and Sunny Sunday are completely open to plan whatever works for you. Check out my ideas for family fun on the weekend! Follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram where I will be posting activities to do each week! …
Weekend Family Fun During COVID-19

Weekend Family Fun During COVID-19

Weekend Family Fun As our days begin blur throughout this quarantine, we can still make time for weekend family fun. Here are some ideas for some family fun on the weekend! Build a fort and have a sleepover Pitch a tent and camp inside or out – don’t forget the s’mores Start a collection and learn more about it – Create a display rocks stickers cards natures leaves Read together and start a family book club Read a comic book and then make your own – get my free DIY comic book printable here Learn magic tricks Make a collage or scrapbook Wash the car and let the kids play in the soapy water and wash their bikes. Do yard work together or plant a garden Help a neighbor (clean-up their yard, plant flowers) Teach your kid how to take photographs Dress-up and have a fashion show Exercise Together – check out my post – Get Fit as a Family for different ways to get your family moving. Teach your kids an old school game from your childhood Family Game Night Ideas Minute to Win it – These fast-paced challenges will be sure to have your family laughing and asking for more. Teach Mama has a great list of family-friendly Minute to Win it game ideas. Would You Rather – make a list of silly questions to ask your kids. Would you rather swim in a pool full of pudding or a pool full of slime? If you need more ideas, grab the Would Your Rather Book for Kids from Amazon for hours of family fun. Pictionary – grab a white board or easel paper and play a game of Family Pictionary. Charades – this classic game is always fun. Head over to BonBon Break for printable charade cards. Jenga – with a twist – Jenga is always a fun game. Make it more interesting by adding a twist. Card Games – card games are always a hit with kids. It’s Always Autumn has a great list of easy to learn card games for kids. Once you’re done playing cards, make a house of cards together! Dice Games – Yahtzee and Farkle are two of the best family dice games to play with the kids. If you’re looking for more dice games to play as a family, check out this dice game list from Everyday Chaos and Calm. Domino Games – Did you know there are over 100 different ways to play dominoes? Lady and the Carpenter has 10 different domino games for you to try at your next family game night. After your game of dominoes, try building a domino run. Watch this video for a little inspiration! Follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram where I will be posting activities to do each week! …
Get Fit as a Family

Get Fit as a Family

The gyms are closed and we are with the kids 24/7, so let’s burn some calories while the kids burn off some of that energy! These activities are so fun, the kids won’t even know that your plan is to get fit as a family. Here are some sneaky ways to get a workout in and spend time together as a family Hiking – get outside and discover a new trail. Learning more about how you can make hiking a blast with kids. Obstacle Course – create an obstacle course inside or outside. Biking Hot Lava – pretend the floor is lava and get around without your feet touching the floor Tag – try one of these different tag variations for a fun Dance Party Jumprope Contest Beachball Fitness Game Fitness Dice Game Uno Workout Spell Your Name Workout – free printable from Mom on the Side Workout Videos to help you Get Fit as a Family Cardio Let the gym class begin! Recreate your child’s gym class at home with one of these upbeat cardio videos. Yoga Sometimes our body and minds need a more mindful workout routine. Dance Need a few extra moves for your next family dance party? Check out these easy dance routines that your kids will be sure to love. …
Springtime Fun for Kids

Springtime Fun for Kids

Winter has finally come to an end! We have been cooped up with the kids for too long! It is time to get them off the couch and into the fresh air. So throw on those adorable rain boots and enjoy some springtime fun with our printable Spring Activity List! Spring Activities for Kids 1. Grow your own Butterfly Your kids will be amazed as these tiny caterpillars create a chrysalis and emerge as beautiful butterflies! Order yours here from Amazon. 2. Pack a picnic and head to a new park Get the kids involved in packing a delicious picnic lunch for your next park adventure. Let them get creative with their own recipes! Picnic food ideas that kids can help make: Sandwiches Trail mix Fruit salad Veggie dip Homemade Lunchables Pasta Salad Fruit Dip Energy bites 3. Pick some flowers & paint a picture Grab a canvas and washable paint and see how your kid’s creativity unfolds as they paint the colorful spring flowers. 4. Start seedling for the summer garden Seedling starter kits are a wonderful way for kids to learn about plants. They will be amazed while they observe as their food grows from a tiny seed. 5. Go on a hike Hit the trails and explore the signs of spring in nature. Make hiking a blast with kids and make some fun memories. 6. Do some spring cleaning Kids love to help Mom and Dad around the house, so keep them busy with a little spring cleaning. E-cloths are a great way to let them help clean without the use of harsh chemicals. 7. Make a bird feeder Welcome our feathered friends back with one of these cute bird feeders! Milk Carton Bird Feeder Toilet Paper Roll Bird Feeder 8. Hunt for bugs Hunting for bugs will bring hours of entertainment to any child’s day. 9. Fly a Kite Take advantage of the windy spring weather and go fly a kite! Order a cool kite from Amazon! 10. Jump in Puddles April showers… bring awesome puddles for little feet to splash in! Rain Boots for puddle jumping are the best! 11. Visit baby animals on a farm Springtime means baby animals at your local farms and zoos. Nothing is better than cuddling and feeding baby animals! 12. Borrow & add books to a local Little Free Library After you finish your spring cleaning, take your books to a Little Free Library to pass them on to someone new. Click here to find a Little Free Library near you. 13. Bake muffins to share with a friend Try one of these tasty muffin recipes to share with your neighbors. Chocolate Chip Muffins Blueberry Muffin with Streusel Crumb Topping Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins 14. Go camping indoors or outdoors Whether you pitch a tent at your nearest state park, or in your living room, camping offers so many fun activities to enjoy as a family! Indoor camping ideas 15. Take a Springtime Scavenger Hunt Walk As the weather warms up, the world wakes up for the spring season. Enjoy a springtime walk together and record how many times you see each thing on this free Springtime Tally Chart printable. This Little Nugget is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. …
Make Hiking with Kids a Blast

Make Hiking with Kids a Blast

Studies have shown the positive impact that time in nature has on human beings. Taking your kids on hikes is a time to teach them to appreciate and be grateful for the natural world. It is a time away from electronics and schedules. It is a time to be free, take breaks, make detours and just go with the flow!  We’ve collected our best hiking tips to make sure hiking is something your kids will want to come back to again and again. Pre-Hike A little planning goes a long way. Rebrand Hiking to Get Kids On Board – The dreaded “I’m bored”, “I’m tired”, “When are we done?” AKA – the whining. Sometimes calling it a hike is enough to make kids groan. The word hike means hard work. There is a lot of persuasion in a name, instead of saying you are going hiking call it “going on an adventure” or some other motivating moniker. Also, hiking can be a great time for props – let the kids wear a cape, a princess dress, or whatever costume they want! Whatever keeps them in the adventurous mood! Attitude is everything – for kids and parents! Hiking should be fun and you want your kids’ memories of hiking to be positive ones. Snacks, snacks, snacks – I can’t stress this enough. Hiking burns a lot of energy, and kids need to stay fueled up to make the hike a successful one. Bring your kids’ favorites and lots of them! I frequently bring a secret stash of “Super Fuel” for when my kids need a little extra motivation to keep going or to just get back to the car! One fun idea is to let your kids make their own trail mix, trail mix bars or energy balls the night before a hike. They are usually super excited to eat snacks that they had a hand in making. The Outdoor Backpack – I have found that letting my kids bring a backpack can help make the hike fun. Pro-tip – make sure the bag is something that Mom or Dad are able to stash in their backpack because at some point you will end up carrying everything! Keep the kids’ packs light, I usually let my kids pick out 1-2 things max for their bags. Fun Hiking Gear For Kids a small magnifying glass a sketchbook and color pencils for when the artistic inspiration hits a camera a small field book to identify trees, flowers, animals, etc., sunglasses walkie-talkies can be really fun on a hike. Oh, the Places You’ll Go –  Letting the kids be involved in the decisions is a way to keep them engaged. Look at maps together to decide which trail you are going to hike. During the Hike Follow the Map –  Pick up a map or other interactive materials at the visitor centers. If there are no copies of maps, take a picture on your phone if there is a map at the trailhead. Little Photographers – Let your kids take control of the camera or your phone camera (if you trust them to do so!) They will find all sorts of things to take pictures of! Another idea is to make it a themed hike – how many different colors can we find on the hike, take pictures of all of the different kinds of leaves that you find, etc. Walking Sticks – Finding the perfect walking stick can make a youngster feel like a professional hiker. Another fun walking stick idea – find a stick that you can drill some holes through. Use some twine to tie treasures onto the walking stick such as feathers, twigs and anything else that you can attach to the stick! Step it Up – Pedometers can be a fun motivator for kids – How many steps was the hike? Can you go farther than your previous hikes? Create your own Hiking Scrapbook – you can add pictures, maps, number of steps you hiked, highlights of the trail, funny things that happened on the hike, etc. Be a Friend to the Earth – Bring a bag and pick up litter. This is also a great thing to do in your own neighborhood. Bring a Friend – Let your kids bring a friend with, or plan a hike with friends or family. Find a Hiking Event – State Parks and Nature Centers put on some really great hiking events. Go With The Flow! Kids are world-famous for getting distracted, so a rigid schedule might not be the best plan when hiking with kids. A hike is a perfect time to support and encourage their natural curiosity.  Distracted by a rock? Have to turn back to see the pattern on the tree bark? Go with it! Play with It Play follow the leader and give kids turns at being the leader Take breaks! This is why you packed all those snacks! Play I-spy, sing songs, make up the silliest verses you can think of for ‘Down by the Bay’, do a scavenger hunt. Download a free Five Senses Walk printable to take on your hike. Pick hikes that have a reward at the end. Nature centers may have a natural play area or fun indoor play areas. Hike at a park that ends with a playground. Take a hike around a lake that has a swimming beach and cool off after the hike! Hike on trails that have features that kids find exciting, such as bridges, boardwalks, docks etc. Post Hike Backup Clothes – Have extra clothes, shoes and plastic bags for wet/muddy items in your vehicle. I can’t tell you how many times my kids have changed in the back of the car after a hike. Being able to put dry clothes on for the ride home can help curb a very whiny ride home! Yes, More Snacks – Consider keeping extra snacks in the car in case you each everything you brought on the trail. Or have a plan for a special stop after the hike for ice cream or a smoothie! Positive Reinforcement!!! Tell your kids how great they did. Talk about the highlights. You want to keep them excited for your next hike! …
Peace & Mindfulness Activities For Kids

Peace & Mindfulness Activities For Kids

This is a time of uncertainty and new normals. Many adults and kids are feeling worried and anxious about our current situation. It is important to continue to be mindful and in the present moment. Use the following peace and mindfulness activities for kids to help your family find calm during this difficult time. I Am Peace Questions What is the problem and solution in the story? Tell me about a time you felt worried? Draw a picture of what the character did when she was worried. What can you do when you feel worried? Share Your Peace Art Project Option 1: Print this peace sign and have your kids paint or color it. Then cut it out and put it in your window to share your peace with people in your community. Option 2: Create a peace sign suncatcher. Peace Sign Suncatcher – Materials: peace sign printable, clear contact paper, tissue paper Color and cut out the peace sign and cut the inside of the peace sign. Place the front on the peace facing down on contact paper and fill inside of peace sign with torn up pieces of tissue paper. Place the second piece of contact paper on the top of the peace sign. Trim off the excess contact paper.  Peace and Mindfulness Activities for Kids Start a Mindfulness Journal from Enjoy the Learning Journey Listen to a Guided Meditation for Kids Write messages of love and peace on your sidewalk for people to read as they walk past your house. Play the Five Senses Game Sit quietly and have your child pay attention to what is happening around them. Ask them to use their senses to describe what they notice. This game teaches children to be present and aware of what is happening around them. After playing this game a few times with your child, you can use it in the future when they are struggling to calm down. Move Your Body- Ease Your Mind Shape Yoga Yoga Triangle Tag Kid’s Yoga Videos This episode of Cosmic Kids Yoga focuses on mindfulness, courage and peacefulness. Take a Five Senses Walk As you walk, have your child use their senses to observe the world around them. Have them record what they notice on the Five Senses Walk observation form. Print this observation form for younger kids here and have them draw a picture of what they observe. Mindful Eating Snack Plan a mindful eating snack. The purpose of this activity is to help kids be in the present moment as they use their senses to notice the sensations they have while they are eating. Oranges or other fruits work well for this activity. Before they eat, have them use their senses to describe how the fruit looks, feels and smells. After they take the first bite, have them describe the sensation of the fruit in their mouth and the sound of the food as they eat. Is it juicy, crunchy, sweet, our? Books About Mindfulness This Little Nugget is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. I Am Peace Sitting Like a Frog What Does it Mean to be Present? The Three Minute Gratitude Journal …
Staycation Family Fun – Beach Day

Staycation Family Fun – Beach Day

This year, Spring Break won’t include warm sandy beaches, theme parks or roller coasters, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy time as a family with some beach day themed fun. Forget online learning for the week and take a moment to reconnect, and have some fun! Since we can’t make it to the beach, let’s bring the beach to us! Turn up the heat to 90 degrees, put on your flip flops and Hawaiian shirts and let the beach party begin! Tropical Delights to Tantalize Your Tastebuds Tropical smoothies Start with any combination of your favorite fruits -pineapples, mangos, strawberries, bananas. Then add a liquid – orange juice, pineapple juice, almond milk, coconut milk or coconut water. Blend together You can also add 1 cup of Greek yogurt to make it a creamy protein-packed smoothie. Seashell pasta Tropical Fruit Salad – have the kids help cut up strawberries, pineapples, mangos, watermelon and bananas. Mix together and drizzle with honey and lime juice and top with coconut whipped cream. Goldfish trail mix Goldfish, pretzels, oyster crackers and peanuts Sand dollar cookies Ice cream Beach Themed Games Play Go Fish Grab a broom and have a limbo competition Play Beach Ball Toss – two people hold on to each end of a large towel with a beach ball in the middle and toss the beach ball into the air. See how many times you can catch the ball! Play frisbee Beach Day Crafts and Activities Make Sea Foam 2 tbs dish soap, food coloring, & 1/4 cup water. Use a hand mixer to blend the soap and water until foam is created. Make paper lei necklaces Give each other a mani-pedi and paint your nails Have a seashell hunt around the house, in your backyard or bury some in your sandbox for kids to find Fill a bucket, the bathtub or kiddie pool with water and let the kids do some water play. Make play dough mermaids Do a jellyfish craft Listen to the beach-themed playlist Paint rocks or seashells Beach and Ocean Movies Finding Nemo The Little Mermaid Shark Tale Dolphin Tale Oceans Moana Turtle: The Incredible Journey Mission Blue Available on Amazon Finding Dory A Turtle’s Tale (included with Prime) Free Willy Dolphins in the Deep Blue Ocean ((included with Prime) Let the staycation fun continue with a night of indoor camping! This Little Nugget is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. …
Camping Staycation

Camping Staycation

Whether you can’t head to the woods for a camping adventure or the camping just isn’t your idea of a fun weekend, just bring the outdoors in with these fun indoor camping activities. Have the kids pack an adventure bag with a flashlight, games and snacks for a weekend of “camping”. Daytime Adventures and Activities Go on a hike outside and do this nature scavenger hunt from Make and Takes Create a nature treasure box with all of the great things the kids find on the hike Make twig boats and float them in the bathtub Play ring toss or cornhole Wrap up in blankets and read books outside Nighttime Fun Go for a nighttime walk and stargaze Play flashlight tag Make shadow puppets Play a card game in the tent Tell spooky stories Start a fire in the fireplace or in the backyard For a real camping experience, make s’mores on the stove or in the microwave Another fun snack option is this yummy s’mores trail mix. It’s super easy for kids to make and delicious! Tent Time Pop-up a tent and set up camp inside. Or, pull out the couch cushions and blankets to build your own fort. Then fill it with pillows, blankets, stuffed animals and toys Put on your jammies and snuggle together in your sleeping bags After a fun day of playing, let the kids sleep in the tent or fort all night! Looking for more staycation ideas? Have some tropical-themed fun with these beach day activities. …
Parenting in a Time of Social Distancing

Parenting in a Time of Social Distancing

Parents everywhere begin a new normal as we start social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. During this unprecedented time, many will go from a life centered around a structured day with over-filled schedules to an isolated time of unstructured chaos. How do we handle parenting in a time of social distancing? As a teacher and stay-at-home mom during the summer, I am familiar with spending time with kids for long stretches. I would love to say that those days always fun, but oftentimes it is exhausting. Planning, cooking three meals a day, constantly picking up after little humans and keeping structure and routine while still having fun is overwhelming. But without that structure and routine, it’s even harder. My daughter is a sensitive and spirited kid and when we are out of our routine her anxiety takes over. I have a feeling that many parents will experience their child’s fears and anxiety in the next few months. I would like to share a few things I have learned along the way. A child’s feelings and emotions don’t always come out in ways that you would expect. It took me a while to realize that when my daughter struggled to pick an outfit or was overwhelmed by choosing what to eat for breakfast, it was actually her anxiety. Her tantrums had nothing to do with the current situation but really it was an underlying worry or unsolved problem. There’s a lot of scary information that our kids are being exposed to through the media and through conversations they overhear. They might not tell you how scared they really are, but they will definitely show you through their behaviors. If you notice that your child is more irritable, clingy, can’t seem to find anything to do, or just seems a bit off, they might be worried and unsure about how to talk to you. They are struggling as they try to deal with things on their own. What Can You Do? This article from the Child Mind Institute is a great resource to learn how you can help children cope during this difficult time. Find time to have one-on-one time with your child. Kids will open up when they are engaged in an activity that is unstructured and they have your undivided attention. This is a daily practice in our house now. Each kid gets 5 minutes of one-on-one time and it really helps us stay connected. Legos Drawing Building with Blocks Playdough Provide Structure and Routine to Your Day When the novelty of summer wears off (usually after the second week) I start to structure our day. The first week or two at home will be fun for the kids, but for their sanity and yours, you will want to create some sort of schedule. Below is a schedule that I loosely follow. I’m not a morning person, so I make sure to give myself enough time to wake before I have direct human contact. That’s where online learning activities are essential! Print your daily schedule here Make the Most of this Special (Crazy) Time With Your Kids Take advantage of this time at home and get the kids involved in making decisions and helping around the house. Chores for elementary age kids: Staying at home 24/7 means the house will need to be cleaned and organized more often. I love this chore chart for scheduling daily/weekly chores. Enlist there help with some of these chores and cooking activities. Wiping down tables, chairs and cabinets Dusting Folding laundry and putting clothes away Taking out the trash Emptying the dishwasher Picking up sticks in the yard Pulling weeds Washing and drying dishes Sweeping Vacuuming Cooking activities for kids: Wash fruits and vegetables Stir ingredients together Cut with child-safe knives Add ingredients to dishes you are making Make simple recipes like banana peanut butter roll-ups Get Kid’s Involved In Their Learning This is a perfect time to let your child lead. Set a positive tone for the day by asking your child to list the top three things they would like to do. Make a list of all of the topics that pique their interest and use that as your guide. I always find the day is way more enjoyable if we have a theme! Here are a few theme ideas my girls love: Frozen Learn about the arctic Build an ice castle with marshmallows Make your own ice cream Paint with ice Spring Springtime activities and printable bucket list Take a walk and search for signs of spring Spring Science Ideas – weather, worms, plants Springtime tally chart – download your tally chart here Learning Around the World Take a trip around the world from the comfort of your couch! Paris Inspired Activities Get Moving & Get Outside We are lucky to have weather on our side during this time of social distancing. Take the learning outside and encourage more outdoor playtime. Playing outside is good for the body and mind, so make sure it is part of your schedule. Outdoor Learning Activities Nature scavenger hunt Go on a letter hunt around your neighborhood Build or do art with natural materials Collect and sort objects based on size, color, shape Use Electronics Wisely Too much screen time isn’t great for kids. Although it is a great distraction and the best babysitter ever invented, too much screen time negatively impacts our children. Tips on How to Limit Screen Time During Social Isolation Schedule when your kids have screentime – I like to schedule screen time during times when I need to get stuff done. Teach your kids the importance of downtime – put down your own electronics and read or take up a new hobby. Schedule time for unstructured play – unstructured playtime is a time for kids to play independently and is important for a child’s development. Read my tips about how to implement open-ended play and the many benefits. Isolate But Still Communicate Social isolation for extended periods of time can affect our mental health. Research shows that children who have been socially isolated experienced greater mental health difficulties. Other studies suggest that social isolation leads to disrupted sleep patterns, altered immune systems (not a great time for a compromised immune system), and higher levels of stress hormones. The research is pretty scary, so it is important for us to continue to reach out to people during this time of isolation. What Can We Do To Fight Loneliness During Social Distancing? Schedule virtual playdates – Facetime with friends and cousins every day to expand the world beyond the four walls of your home. Pick up the phone. Giving your kids time to laugh with their friends and talk to their peers is a great way for kids to relieve stress and work through their feelings. I remember talking on the phone with my friends for hours even though I had just spent the entire day with them. This is something kids don’t really do anymore. That kind of interaction during adolescents is important because it helps kids develop their social identity. Write a letter or a postcard – This one is great because it is a learning opportunity and kids love to get mail! Take Care of Yourself This is a time of a lot of uncertainty which is scary and stressful. Children pick up on everything and the effects of exposure to parental stress can be significant. Tips for Self Care Exercise – Yoga, walking, online workout videos Practice Mindfulness – Being in the present moment and taking time to quiet our minds is important right now. We can’t predict what will happen tomorrow but we can decide how we live today. Talk to People – Feeling socially isolated is lonely so we need a community more than ever. Make a date to Facetime over coffee with friends. Call people and open up about how you’re feeling. We are in this together! Share activities and helpful resources to friends and family Get help when you need it – mental health is a serious issue. Talk to your doctor if you are finding it difficult to cope. A New Normal – How to benefit from this time of social distancing This is our opportunity to create a new normal. Slow down, unplug, and find happiness through a simpler way of life. There’s more to come! Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I will post resources, learning activities and updates from This Little Nugget. …
Benefits of Open-Ended Play

Benefits of Open-Ended Play

What is open-ended play? Open-ended play is unstructured playtime that allows children to play independently and use their imagination to make decisions about how the materials will be used. Open-ended play has many benefits for young children and the best part about it is that it keeps kids busy for a long time! “Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.” -Mr. Rogers When children are given time to play with open-ended materials they are learning to: Develop problem-solving skills Express creativity Make independent choices Build self-confidence Explore the world around them and make connections Work on things at their own pace Increasing playtime in place of electronics is very beneficial for a child’s development. A recent study about the effects of electronics on early childhood development reveals that early exposure to electronics leads to structural differences in the brains of young children. These children also had delays in language and literacy skills. Open-ended Toys & Materials to Give your Kids Blocks Boxes and paper tubes Playdough, clay, kinetic sand Nature Materials – sticks, rocks, plants Scarves and pieces of cloth Loose Parts Offering children a tray of loose parts is a wonderful way to provide an opportunity for unstructured open-ended play. Loose parts can be anything you have around the house! buttons, applesauce pouch caps small animal figure rocks sticks cups cars cotton balls popsicle sticks flowers wikki stix acorns beads feathers colored pasta Put the loose parts in a tray or a muffin tin and let your child get creative. Things to Remember About Open-Ended Play When children are engaged in self-directed, open-ended play activities they should be allowed to decide where their play will take them. This is an opportunity for them to explore, take chances, and make mistakes with very little adult intervention. This type of play should not be directed and have an established outcome. If you do want to engage with them while they are playing, try asking open-ended questions (questions that can not be answered with yes or no) that foster critical thinking. Tell me more about what you are making How did you come up with that idea? Why did you choose…? Why do you think…? I wonder… When your child is struggling with what they are trying to accomplish and starting to get frustrated, resist the urge to swoop in and immediately solve the problem for them. Let them struggle and problem-solve for awhile. By providing your child with safe opportunities for frustration, disappointment, and failure you are teaching them resilience skills. If they ask for help, use open-ended questions to guide them through the problem-solving process. What would happen if you…? Can you do it another way? Why do you think that happened? What part is difficult for you? I wonder what would happen if… “Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.” -O. Fred Donaldson …
Too Many Toys? 5 Awesome Tips to Reduce the Clutter

Too Many Toys? 5 Awesome Tips to Reduce the Clutter

Reducing the insurmountable pile of toys that your kids have accumulated throughout the years seems impossible. Tackle the job with these 5 easy tip to control the clutter. …
Fun Ways to Entertain Your Kids

Fun Ways to Entertain Your Kids

Today was the fourth snow day of the year! It’s too cold to go outside and everyone is starting to get a little stir crazy. Time to pull out some fun activities to keep the kids occupied and entertained for a few hours. I give you 8 fun ways to entertain your kids. 8 Fun activities to do with the kids 1. STEM Science Lab Create a science lab at home for the kids to explore. Baking soda, vinegar and food coloring is a fun way for kids to learn about chemical reactions. Practice mixing colors in different ways. We made colored foam with 2 tbs dish soap, food coloring, & 1/4 cup water. Use a hand mixer to blend the soap and water until foam is created. Head over to Kids World Citizen and Little Bins for Little Hands for more fun STEM ideas to entertain the kids. 2. Kid’s Baking Championship This one takes a little more parental guidance, but I promise this is a great way to create memories and entertain your kids on a rainy day. Choose a theme (cupcakes, cookies, sandwiches, ice cream sundaes…) Have each person choose a recipe and create a shopping list. Buy your ingredients Each person will create their own creation based on the chosen theme. Finally, taste each masterpiece and declare a winner! If you don’t want to be the judge, invite a neighbor over to deliberate and proclaim a winner. You can create multiple categories, too, if you want to have more than one opportunity to win (e.g. taste, decoration, creativity) 3. Build a Fort or Go Camping Indoors Find a small, cheap pop-up tent and set up camp inside. Or, pull out the couch cushions and blankets to build your own fort.  Fill it with pillows, blankets, stuffed animals and toys. Have the kids pack an adventure bag with a flashlight, games and snacks. For a real camping experience, make s’mores on the stove or in the microwave. Another fun snack option is this yummy s’mores trail mix. It’s super easy for kids to make and delicious! After a fun day of playing, let the kids sleep in the tent or fort at night 4.  Have an elegant tea party or hot chocolate party Have your child create invitations for the tea party. Set the table with fancy dishes and yummy treats. Dress up and enjoy the party! 5.  Host an art show Learn about different artists online. Have the kids create their own masterpieces inspired by famous artist’s work. Learn in Color and Messy Little Monster have some great art activities inspired by famous artists. Display their work throughout the house and serve juice and hor devours while you enjoy the art show. 6. Declare today to be Pirate Day! Dress up like pirates (make newspaper pirate hats and telescopes) Turn the couch into a boat and put the pillows on the floor.  Jump from pillow to pillow to avoid the crocodiles! Fill a container with treasure (candy, coins, or a new toy) and hide it.  Give the kids a map and have them search for the buried treasure. Write letters on jewels or plastic coins and hide them in the sand or dry rice. Make an Alphabet Treasure Map with an upcycled paper bag. Paint your own treasure box ($1 from Michaels Craft Store) 7. Ninja Warrior Course Create an indoor ninja warrior course with painter’s tape, pillows, chairs. These websites have some great ideas for indoor obstacle courses. DIY obstacle course from Fatherly String Laser Maze from My Kids Adventures 8.  Minute to Win It Game Day Minute to Win It Games are fun quick games that your kids will love! Teach Mama has a wonderful list of games that are great for all ages. Frugal Fun for Boys Minute to Win it games are easy to set up and a ton of fun! Simply Kinder has 7 easy Minute to Win It for to entertain the younger kids. This is for all of the parents who find themselves stuck in the house with the kids again or anyone who just doesn’t want to leave the house today because it’s a coffee and comfy pants kind of day… …
Stress-Free Travel Ideas for the Holidays

Stress-Free Travel Ideas for the Holidays

With the anxiety of the impending holiday to-do list, growing try taking a stress-free approach to the holidays with these simple tips! …
Raising Kind and Generous Children Simple Ways Kids Can Give Back

Raising Kind and Generous Children Simple Ways Kids Can Give Back

Teaching our children to live generously is a practice that will have a profound impact on their lives and the lives of everyone they touch with their kind spirit. By providing simple ways for your kids can give back, you instill a special quality that has the potential to change the world. …
11 Simple Ways to Connect With Your Child

11 Simple Ways to Connect With Your Child

Making time to connect with your child can be hard to do, but is the key to happier and more amiable kids. Giving your son or daughter your undivided attention will not only create lifelong memories, but it will also help strengthen your relationship. …