Papier-Mache Octopus

Arts and Crafts time is often the favorite part of any child’s day. They get a chance to stretch and rest their brains from numbers, language, history, and any other scholarly activities, and instead nurture their creative side. They enjoy making drawings, creating colorful boxes, building ornaments – but after a while these things can get a little old.  As children get older, they want to do bigger, more complex projects. While these can be fun, sometimes they can take a little too much time.  Instead, you may need to focus on a group project.

Papier-Mache is a fun way to create a group project that is fun to make, and even more fun to decorate!  And the best thing is, you can do this with older or younger kids!

  1. Get some Newspaper. And hollow shapes (Balloons or small boxes work great!)

Take the newspaper and place over your hollow shapes.  Bind this initial layer with an adhesive – a basic glue mixture works well for the classroom.  Now continue to cover your objects with the newspaper and glue mixture.

If you plan on making a shape, have someone help you hold the shapes together while you work on connecting them with glue and some more layers of papier – Mache.

For an Octopus, Blow up a balloon for the center, and create a large head.  For the legs, you can do a variety of things.  For Papier-Mache Legs, take some sheets of paper, and roll tightly.  Next, rap Papier-Mache around it until you have your desired thickness.  To add length to the legs, simply continue to wrap Papier-Mache around itself, extending past the original paper roll – this also gives you more flexibility in placing the legs before drying.

Octopus

  1. Allow to dry.

Depending on how large your structure is and how many layers of paper you placed onto your creation, these can take anywhere form 24 hours to a few days to dry completely.  In a classroom setting, creating a Papier-Mache on a Friday – allowing it to dry over the weekend – is a good idea.

  1. Decorate!

Now, take your Octopus, and have some fun with it.  Pop the Balloon inside the papier – Mache, leaving a small hole for candy or treats if desired. Paint the outer portion a color (or colors!) that you enjoy, and add some eyes!  You can either add googly Eyes or paint your own on – either one can be fun!  Next, take small piece of tissue paper and decorate as you please.  You do not have to cover your project in tissue Paper, but it can be a fun way to decorate your Octopus and make it unique if your Papier-Mache is a little uneven.

Regardless of how you make these projects, Papier-Mache Octopus are surprisingly easy to make. They require nothing more than some creativity, an open mind, and some seriously sticky hands and smiling faces!  Whether you choose to make this in the classroom or at home, this project is easy, fun, and appropriate for everyone!

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Hand Painted Mirror Frame

Mirrors are something that most of us enjoy in our homes.  Singers use them to check posture and jaw placement.  Dancers use them to check their line. Actors, to check their expressiveness during lines, and the rest of us to check our appearance before another busy day. We rarely think of the importance of mirrors, but we use them for so many different things. We don’t realize just how much time we spend looking at a mirror during the day – while we brush our teeth, as we shave or put on makeup, while washing our hands, or for other purposes such as practice or examination. If we’re going to spend so much time in one place, shouldn’t we spice it up a bit?  Some mirrors come with frames already – some do not.  However, many that we place in our bedrooms or on walls are already encased in a lovely, simple frame.

So what happens when you want to doll it up a little?  Can you even do it, or is it something that needs to be prepared ahead of time?  What kind of design do you want to do? Here’s how to take care of a good mirror!

  1. Take any coatings off.

Many framed mirrors have a coating to keep the mirror frame looking in top shape. This coating can make it a little difficult to get paint to stay exactly how you want it.  So to remove it. Simply take a piece of sandpaper and gently buff off the top layer – it’s ok if there is paint on the frame afterwards, you just wanted that very top coat removed.

Painted Mirror

  1. Pick your paints.

Do you want to use acrylic?  Oil based?  Picking a paint can be a big deal for certain projects. If you want a special look, you may want to pick a style of paint that matches that particular look. If you are an amateur just looking to add your own personal touch, have some fun playing with it!

The very bottom corners are not somewhere people look very often – so take the time to do a little test portion.  Whether you simply write your signature and wait to see how it sticks to your frame, or paint a piece of your masterpiece, this will give you a good chance to make sure that your paints will appear how you want them to.

  1. Paint!

Now that you have picked your paints, tested them, and approved, it’s time to get painting!  Whether you paint free-hand or with a series of sketches is up to you – but enjoy making it into your very own work of art!  Add your own flare into the piece, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes – the wonderful thing about painting is that you can always paint over a mistake later! So have some fun, and make your own creations.  Whether they’re classic, colorful, crazy, or simple is up to you – the sky is the limit in all of your possibilities!

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Fun Sock Puppets Ideas to do with Your Child

When you are coming up with ideas to have fun with your child, you may think of things like Hide’n’seek, making cookies, reading books, and playing with Legos.  You may think of building blocks, softballs, soccer balls, or movies.  But what do you do with your creative little one?  Imagination is one of the best things about kids – but can also be one of the hardest things to accommodate.  Coming up with imaginative things can be quite different, and a large drain on your energy.  But it doesn’t have to be!

Kids love to play with puppets and representative objects.  They can create their own worlds with just a few pieces.  The best news of all – they aren’t something that you have to spend a lot of money on! You can make puppets at home! Making the puppets is only part of the fun though – here’s how to make some quick puppets, and some things you can do!

  1. Socks

To make sock puppets, you are going to need to start with some socks. Any socks will do, but the best are long tube socks – Black or White will offer quite a bit of variability, but you can also use a variety of colors – grey, maroon, red – the options are practically endless.  You don’t need to do anything with the socks – as they are works just fine!

Sock puppet

  1. Make a face!

If your child is older, you can add some more detail.  You can use objects like googly eyes, and eyelashes. You can hot glue some pieces on.  If, however, your child is very young, these items can easily pose a burn or choking risk, making them an unnecessary hassle. For younger children, bring out some markers and let them draw on their socks.  Even if they are a mess of color, your child will know what they are and be perfectly happy with the result! For expressions, have some fun with markers, paint, or pipe cleaner for your older kiddos. By making your puppets expressive, you are able to bring them to life!

  1. Choose what to do!

Your child can plan out a whole production for the family, and you can take part in it with them. Let them develop a story and characters, and be their own little director.  You can also use sock puppets for direct play, helping them to learn a lesson – it could be on manners, on math, on sharing – it can be on anything that you want it to be! Another option is to use sock puppets to explore a new idea, and allow your child to follow something through before applying it to real life.

No matter how you choose to make and use sock puppets with your child(ren), you can always find fun and enjoyment in it.  Being able to help your children learn and grow while they play?  Well, that’s just a perk.  Seeing their faces light up AS they learn?  That’s what makes the effort worth it!

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Six Rainy Day Activities for Kids

Summertime is a great time to be a kid…until it rains! Stormy days bring on the boredom and the whining! As much as parents sometimes love a good thunderstorm and a nap, kids often don’t see the nap thing as part of the plan. What are some activities you can do with kids at home on a rainy day after you have already watched Frozen or some other animated movie at least a dozen times? Here are six rainy day activities for kids.

Six Rainy Day Activities for Kids

Craft Time

Savvy parents never throw away anything! Pull out the craft box and get started! Some good ideas are cereal box jet-packs, paper towel roll light sabers, purses, hats and other odd ball stuff. Just let your imagination run wild and make craft time Some adult supervision may be needed with glue or other items, but let them have fun with it.

Build a Fort

Go old-school, and build a fort in the dining room. Make a quick run-through and remove breakable treasures. Pull out the extra blankets, sheets and pillows. They can read, play games or even take a nap in their forts. They can even play “defend the fort” using those paper towel roll light sabers!

Play Cards or Board Games

Play cards or board games with the kids on a rainy day. Anything from Candyland and Hi, Ho, Cheerios! for little ones to Monopoly and Scrabble for older kids. Take some time and teach your kids some of your old favorites with just a regular deck of cards. Who needs Uno cards when you know how to play Crazy 8’s! Even Go, Fish! is easy for young kids to learn. Can’t remember the rules? A quick internet search will have you playing in not time!

Make Cookies

Most of us have on hand the ingredients for sugar or peanut butter cookies. Let the kids help make cookies and have an ooey, gooey treat in less than 45 minutes! This is a great opportunity to teach kids how to follow a recipe and use kitchen utensils. They can also help in the cleanup while the cookies are baking.

Make a City

Get out the Hot Wheels cars and some washi tape (or painter’s tape) and get going. Use the tape to make a city with roads and parking lots. Boxes or cans from the pantry can serve as buildings. The tape comes up easily with no damage to your floors. This activity can provide hours of fun for kids as they zoom their cars through the city and build new roads.

Indoor Camping

Indoor Camping can be the best fun! You can set up a small tent or make one from chairs and sheets. Get out the sleeping bags, make a pretend fire and other camping accoutrements and tell ghost stories with the lights off or eat microwave Smores together.

These six rainy day activities for kids can save you from watching Frozen a dozen times and hearing “I’m bored” over and over again on a stormy day!

 

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How I Lost the Baby Weight: At-Home Workouts

Once your doctor clears you for exercise, the easiest way to exercise is in your home. That’s what I did. There exercises you can do with your baby and there are others you can do close to the crib. However, every pregnancy is different, so you do need to be sure to get doctors permission to exercise. However exercise is important to keep your energy levels up, strengthen your body in prep for holding your baby for hours on end as they continue to grow, and to help keep postpartum depression at bay.

Understanding Your New Body

In order to make room for the fetus your abdominal muscles got stretched and separated. These muscles need to be strengthened to help your stomach and your core flatten out. However, doing crunches will strengthen the muscles that create the post-baby tummy pooch. Instead, focus on doing exercises that will strengthen and lengthen your whole core instead of just pieces of it. These core strengthening exercises include doing planks and twists. I love this article because it contains many creative exercises that you can do at home that are designed to whittle away at your torso. Furthermore, you should expect that any weight loss program will require doing cardiovascular exercises.

Lost the Baby Weight

Walks

To lose baby weight, you're gonna have to do cardio. Walking is one of the best ways to reintegrate your body to physical activity and/or exercise with your baby. You can walk with your child in a stroller. You can walk with your baby in a carrier strapped to your chest for added strength training. Or you can leave the baby at home with other-mom or dad and take a few minutes to yourself to enjoy your neighborhood. Walking can be your cardio of choice or it can be your gateway to jogging and other cardio activities.

Yoga or Pilates

You can easily do yoga in the home, or even next to the crib as junior takes a nap. You can follow a video or complete your own sequences. Yoga and Pilates are both great for toning your body, strengthening your core, and centering your mind.

Pinterest

I get bored with doing the same work outs all the time. The health and fitness section of Pinterest always has something new for me to try at home. Whether it's a free video or a photo spread, there is always something to keep me motivated and new to try. I focus on workouts that are designed to be done at home with just my body or with light weights/dumbbells.

Keep It Up!

The only way to truly take off the baby weight is through consistency. Aim for around 30 minutes of activity every day and eat your vegetables. You cannot work out or eat healthy once and expect to change your body overnight. If you eat nutritious foods and consistently remain active the baby weight will fall off without you paying much attention to it. You can do it!

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10 Classic Rainy Day Activities for Teens

When your children were small it seemed easier to entertain them even if you were stuck indoors on a rainy day.  But now that they are teenagers, how can you meet the demands of their energy and satisfy their cries of boredom? Well, we are here to help with a list of ten classic rainy day activities that every teen will love.

 

Fun for the Kid in All of Us!

Games That Never Grow Old

Even if your teenagers think they are too big for some games, trust us when we say that some games will faithfully entertain all of your children, no matter how old they get!  Here are three such games with some ideas for variations.

  1. Dig out all of the spare blankets, scoot the furniture around and build forts.  Let your teenagers have a Nerf gun war or camp out and read books, make shadow puppets or watch a movie!
  2. Play hide and go seek!  The whole family can play and for an extra challenge, play at night with all of the lights off!
  3. Put on a talent show for dinner!  Rummage through closets to create outrageous costumes, create skits together, and discover hidden talents!  Have fun and laugh until your face hurts!

10 Classic Rainy Day Activities for Teens

Brain Games

Every Teen Loves a Challenge!

The teenage years are a significant period of developing brain power, so be sure to encourage your teenager’s curiosities and have fun learning together with these great indoor games!

  1. Stock up on board and table games that challenge strategy, financial smarts or trivia knowledge!  Some classic games include Monopoly, Chess, Clue, Trivial Pursuit, Battleship and Jenga.
  2. Create an online scavenger hunt and let your teenagers loose on the technology for a little while to see who can find everything on the list first.  Your teens will be learning new facts as well as how to efficiently use the Internet at the same time.  Use any theme that challenges your children’s interests!
  3. Teach your teens a new skill!  Try out a new recipe in the kitchen, take up knitting needles or head out to the garage to learn how to work on the car or repair their bicycle tire.

 

 The Sensational and Inspirational

Silly and Serious Fun for Your Teens

Here are a few suggestions for more serious endeavors or for being just plain silly that your teens will enjoy:

  1. Have a poetry reading.  Try writing your own or choose a work by a favorite poet.
  2. Everyone is an architect!  See what you can build using marshmallows and uncooked spaghetti sticks.  Or use the classic deck of cards.
  3. Create a vision board for your dreams for the next year.  Find pictures in magazines or online to cut out and paste to your board.
  4. Play speed card games like Spoons or Dutch Blitz.  You can even play speed Scrabble with just the letter tiles too!

The ideas are endless, but these are few favorites that are simple, inexpensive and you probably already have everything you need right at home!

 

Sources

 http://blog.moneytrail.net/2012/01/20-inexpensive-indoor-activities-for.html

http://www.scavenger-hunt-guru.com/activities-for-teenagers.html

 

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Creating Great Family Memories: How to Have the Perfect Low Budget Holidays

Creating Great Family Memories: How to Have the Perfect Low Budget Holidays

Great memories are made out of great experiences, not just great events.  When it comes to creating great family memories, the goal is not necessarily to overspend your budget paying for “name-brand” events; instead, you can create an unforgettable array of family experiences even while on a low budget.  Let us give you a few pointers and you will soon be making magical family memories of your own, no matter what the holiday, no matter what the budget.

 

Time Connecting

The Essence of Family

Every child intuitively knows what we often quickly forget in the hustle and bustle of growing up: family is the enjoyment of being together.  However, it really isn’t as complicated as marketing strategies would have us think.  It really doesn’t take an elaborate meal that was costly to your budget, not to mention the hours you spent in the kitchen nor does it mean that you have to fund Santa, Uncle Sam, or the Easter bunny several hundred dollars for each of their respective holidays.  Family starts with simply being together and enjoying those moments.

 

Time Remembering

The Essence of Tradition

Why do we enjoy tradition so much?  We think that tradition is not simply a way of doing things every holiday, but a way of remembering the best of who you are as a family and celebrating that.  And you have the freedom to create your own traditions according to the beauty you see in your family – and according to your budget, as needed.  Planning low-budget traditions does not have to mean that you value your family any less.  In fact, sometimes we work to simplify our traditions so that we can focus more on the enjoyment of family and love and laughter and remembering who we are and who we still want to become.

 

Time Well-Spent

Great Family Memories on a Low Budget

Ultimately, your goal for your family is to make time together to celebrate who you are together.  However, you may feel lost in coming up with some good starter ideas to do that, especially when you may also be overwhelmed with the pressure of costly commercial traditions.  So, here are a few ideas that we hope will spark your own creativity in making great family memories while on a low budget.

  • Every community generally has several free events over the holidays, such as parades, music events, fireworks displays, and other commemorative festivities.
  • Inexpensive crafts such as making paper snowflakes together, homemade Valentines, or carving pumpkins.
  • Thrift stores are usually overloaded with last year’s decoration or costume castoffs!
  • Affordable family events such as a potluck brunch on Easter, a picnic on the fourth of July with sparklers or a New Years neighborhood party with leftover holiday goodies.
  • Giving simple gifts with an elaborate treasure hunt or giving gifts of time and services.

These are just a few ideas that we hope will inspire you and always remember, enjoying time together is the key!

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Great After School Activities for Your Kids

Great After School Activities for Your Kids

Keeping kids busy and engaged in worth while activities can be difficult, especially after school when they only need to be occupied for a couple of hours until dinner time. Compounding the problem is finding activities that don’t necessarily involve you, as end of day chores and work emails may keep you busy. Here are some ideas for fun after school activities to keep your kids busy.

Sports, Dance, Instruments

Sign up your child for an activity of their choosing. They’ll attend scheduled practices, then can practice on their own. For sports, if money is an issue then consider talking to other parents in your circle about getting all the kids together a few days a week to play pick up games. It’ll be very beneficial if someone knows a game well and can act as the coach.

If you want to fit in a work out, bring your kids along. Give them a child appropriate work out to complete, or let them run around the play ground while you do pull ups on the monkey bars. Getting kids active after school will help disperse pent up energy and ensure a restful sleep.

Quiet Activities

There’s always quiet at home activities your kids can do while you finish your work. Give them a book to read or a 1000 piece puzzle to work on. With both activities they’ll utilize brain power and increase their attention spans.

For older kids, have them learn a bit of time management with class projects and reports. Discuss with them the concept of breaking down a big project into smaller steps and assigning each step a due date. Then in the weeks leading up to the project’s due date your child can work on the various steps after school. This life lesson will help decrease stress and cramming in your child’s later schooling years.

f You're not Busy

If you’ve not busy, take time to hang out with your child. In the warmer months plant a garden (probably on the weekend when you have more time), then weed, water, and trim after school.

Have your child help you make pizza dough from scratch or bake cookies for the weekday’s dessert. Find a recipe that takes a bit of time, but can be accomplished before dinnertime.

Work together on chores, especially if you’re planning a big weekend full of activites. Asking you child to help clean the house isn’t exactly a fun after school activity, but if you explain cleaning a bit every day will ensure a full weekend for fun activities, they’ll be able to see the reward of their actions, making them a bit more excited about vacuuming.

Volunteer

Teach your teenager the importance of giving back. Look around your area for things your teen can do after school such as tutor younger kids, keep elderly or ill company in a retirement home or hospital, or walk dogs at the humane society. The work will keep him busy and teach responsibility, kindness, and humanity- all important lessons for an adolescent to learn.

 

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Should You Save or Invest Your Money?

Should You Save or Invest Your Money

Choosing what to do with your hard earned money can be a frustrating choice. After all, you could invest it, and possibly earn millions, or you can save it, which seems like the safer bet. But which choice is better for you?

 

Saving Benefits

If you save your money, it gets put into a savings account, where it happily sits accruing interest until you need it again. It’s a safe bet, because no one else can take that money but you. And if you put it into a retirement account, it has a higher interest rate, and larger tax breaks. You’ll be able to see it grow nicely through the years, and you’ll have a large sum for when you retire. But why would this be the better choice? Simply for the security of it. You’re relying only on the bank, not the entire stock market, to keep your money safe. If you’re not much of a risk taker, it’s better to save your money in the best savings account you can find, and help it grow over time.

 

Investing Benefits

Now, investing may seem like a huge undertaking. And in some ways, it is, but there are options. You can try the new online trading sources, such as Etrade and ShareBuilder, which will simplify things for you and allow you to take control of your own money, or you can get an investment broker. They’ll take your money and invest it for you, nurturing your investment into higher returns. With investing, you’ll be earning a higher percentage on average than you ever would with a savings account. For instance, if you earn 2% interest in a savings account, investing could earn you on average 8% interest, multiplying your retirement money into a nice six digit number in a fraction of the time.

 

Saving Drawbacks

While choosing the safe bet is sometimes the better option, with saving you’ll get a lower interest rate. Your money will not grow as much as it could when being invested, and you’ll have to save a lot more money in your thirties and forties to live on when you’re seventy. In short, you’ll be saving all your life to be living frugally in retirement.

 

Investment Drawbacks

Nearly everyone has heard of Bernie Madoff, even if they don’t quite know what he did. But men like Bernie are a dime a dozen, and these unscrupulous investment brokers make their living off of taking your money and leaving you behind. It’s a gamble, choosing which broker to trust, and an even larger gamble to give up your money to the stock market, which can rise and crash within minutes. This sort of risk scares off many people, since just the thought of losing every dime you’ve invested can send some people into a panic.

So, should you save or invest your money? In the end, both sides have their benefits and drawbacks. What’s important is what you think is best for you. It’s recommended to invest some of your money, but to keep a portion in savings, just in case. That way you’re not risking every penny you own, but you still have the chance to earn more than enough money to live through your retirement with a smile on your face. Start looking into investing today, and don’t forget to save every month!

 

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Everyday Tips for Working Moms

Tips for Working Moms

Life takes on another, busier dimension when you’re a mom working outside of the home. In addition to your first priority of taking care of your family, there are work projects, household tasks, meals and planning some fun times with the kids. Thriving as a working mom relies on one central theme: organization. Here are some everyday tips for working moms to organize, save time and eliminate stress.

Maximize Your Time

The biggest challenge is always balancing work and home. To do this best, try to maximize the time you spend at each. That is not to say spend as much time with both as you can, rather, be as efficient as possible with the time to commit. This is especially true at work. While you’re there, make the best use of your time by creating lists and priorities, organizing your work, and being as productive as possible during the workday. The single greatest reason for this is that, when you’re organized and productive at work, you’ll be less tempted to take work home with you. Make is a general rule: work hard at your career while you’re there, just as you work hard at your family life when you’re home.

Streamline the Evening Rush

Those three hours between getting home from work and getting the kids to bed are a blur most nights. By the time you get home, get dinner going, monitor homework, do a few chores and spend a little time playing games or other family activities, it’s time for bed. There are some shortcuts to make the routine less frenzied. In particular, meal planning and chore planning are great timesavers. Let’s talk about them further.

Meal Planning and Prep

If the mention of meal planning has you thinking about days in the kitchen preparing bulk meals, think again. Meal planning has two components: the planned menu itself and preparation of meals. Try meal planning for just two weeks. You won’t believe how much time you will save by knowing, at the start of the week, the meals you’re going to prepare. You will be better at using leftovers (rather than having them rot in the fridge), you’ll try new foods, and you can get the family involved in planning the week. As for make-ahead meals, this doesn’t have to be daunting. If you’re making spaghetti with ground beef for dinner, brown twice the meat and season on half Italian and the other half with Mexican spices to make tacos the next night. If you’re making a casserole, double the recipe, make two pans, and freeze one. It will keep in the freezer for a month, making an easy reheating dinner on a busy night.

Rethink the Housework

If you’re in the habit of doing a day’s worth of house cleaning on Saturday, break free with some simple tips. Laundry is always something that piles up (pun intended) during the week, leaving you 4-5 loads on the weekend. For two weeks, try doing just one load of laundry ever night. If you think you don’t have time, consider this: loading the washer and transferring to the dryer really takes just minutes. You can complete one load of laundry in about two hours, with only about 40 minutes of that being actual work. If you do a single load per week, you may only have bedding to do on the weekend. Rethink other household chores that can be tackled on weeknights; you’ll have more time for family fun on the weekends.

Organization is essential for busy working moms. The better you get at organizing, the less stress – and more time – you’ll have to enjoy your family.

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