Garanimals Blog

November 25th, 2014 at 2:38 pm

Everyday Gratitude

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At the Thanksgiving table we always list all the things we are grateful for. But after, the focus turns to Christmas and we tend to get sucked into the latest and greatest things, and become busy with shopping, parties, etc. It’s important for children to understand how lucky they are to have people who love them, clothes, food, shelter, clean water, etc., that other kids around the world might not have. Try to take some time in everyday life to keep the focus on gratitude.

Why only talk about the things you’re thankful for on Thanksgiving? Why can’t gratitude surround the table every night? Start by having each person in your family list three things they’re grateful for each day. It can be as simple as:

  • The sun is shining and we got to go outside and play.
  • Mom made my favorite brownies.
  • Its Taco Tuesday and that’s my favorite meal.
  • I got to stay in my pajamas a little later than usual.

If your kids are old enough, they can even start a journal. Take a simple notepad and decorate it with stickers, have them draw pictures and use it to write things they are thankful for. It gives them something to look back on and see what things they were most grateful for at certain times in their lives.

 

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November 19th, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Holiday Tablescapes

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The holiday season is upon us. It’s fun to bring your table to life and create a nice, festive place to gather as family.

Here are some tips for making your tablescape come to life:

  • Focus your decorating energy on the centerpiece. Fill a beautiful bowl with fruit, arrange some flowers, or use gourds, leaves, grapes, and other fall fruits and nuts. For a more wintery feel, use pinecones and evergreen branches to a bowl. Use ornaments, large colored light bulbs, and other Christmas items to fill in spaces.
  • Use cut burlap as a table runner, or for winter, use metallic or holiday-colored fabric.
  • Cover the table runner with gourds, leaves, mini pumpkins, and Indian corn for fall and Thanksgiving. Scatter different levels of candles among those things.
  • Use ribbon to tie napkins or silverware together.
  • Fill a mason jar with cranberries and water. Add a floating candle.
  • Be inventive when choosing place cards. I have a collection of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Years themes.

The most important part is to make the table your own. Have it reflect your family, things you love, and other things that will make the event special.

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November 17th, 2014 at 10:24 am

Online Shopping Tips

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Online shopping has become a popular way to handle the purchase of holiday gifts. It’s an easier and quicker way for busy people to shop. If you are new to online shopping, here are some tips to help you become a savvy online shopper!

  • Companies often offer sales online that they don’t offer in store. Coupled with coupons you might be able to use, you can not only save time, but money as well, by shopping on their website.
  • Create an account on sites you shop the most. This makes purchasing easier because your information (shipping, billing, order history, etc.) will be securely stored in the account. Additionally, you’ll be able to check your order/shipping status, facilitate returns, and sometimes even contact customer service through live chat or a direct account function.
  • Sign up to get emails from companies you frequently purchase from. They will send you exclusive emails with sales and coupons to use for future purchases. It can make a big difference when you have a significant percentage off your total!
  • Don’t throw away packaging and receipts once your item arrives. Most companies allow you to send the item back in it’s original packaging for a full refund with free postage. Sometimes you decide the item isn’t exactly what you wanted, sometimes there’s an issue with the item itself, or sometimes it doesn’t fit or work the way you need it to. Don’t get stuck keeping an item you don’t want or need.
  • Early Black Friday sales are already being posted, and even more appear on Black Friday itself. The best day to shop online is Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving. It is a good day to find significant sales of up to 40% or 50% off!

Also, you can earn cash back from your online holiday purchases (and any other time of year as well) by signing up with Ebates.com. Ebates is paid by a number of popular online retailers to drive sales on their online platforms. Each retailer offers a different percentage of cash back, some on certain items or type of purchases, some on your total purchase of any items. Walmart is one of the major participants, so you can earn cash back from buying Garanimals!

Some great sites to monitor for online sale information are:

Brad’s Deals

Penny Pinching Mom

Saving with Shellie

Passion for Savings

I plan on getting A LOT of shopping done this way for Christmas! How about you?

 

 

 

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November 11th, 2014 at 5:08 pm

Fun Thanksgiving Activities

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Thanksgiving is a great time to do some fun crafts and activities. These ideas make nice gifts to bring to family and friends on Thanksgiving, or to have the kids do at the Thanksgiving table.

One year we made a turkey centerpiece. We filled a brown lunch bag with popcorn and stapled it shut. We then used colored construction paper to make feathers and the turkey’s head. The kids could later cut open a slit in the bag to eat the popcorn as a snack.

Lego Turkey

Paint Chip Turkey

Handprint Turkey Hat

Leaf Turkey Craft

Mayflower Craft

Handprint Turkey

Candy Corn Turkey

Paper Bag Turkey

I am Thankful Pumpkin

Paper Plate Turkey

Tissue Paper Turkey

Fun Activities for the Thanksgiving Table

Thanksgiving Word Search

Turkey Color & Number Patterns

Thanksgiving Mad-libs

Thanksgiving Bookmarks

Thanksgiving Coloring Pages

Thanksgiving Conversation Cards

Thanksgiving Placemat & Activity Sheet

A Thinking Turkey Game

Thanksgiving Sudoku

Thanksgiving Jokes

Interview Questions for Grandparents

Max & Ruby Placecards & Table Labels

MORE….

More Thanksgiving Coloring Pages

Free Printable Activity Pages

 

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November 7th, 2014 at 9:14 am

Favorite Thanksgiving Books

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My boys love to read books about holidays as they are approaching. Thanksgiving is a fun time to learn about tradition and the history of the holiday through sharing books. Here are some of my favorites:

Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks

The Berenstein Bears Thanksgiving Blessings

The Night Before Thanksgiving

10 Fat Turkeys

Pete the Cat: The First Thanksgiving

Pinkalicious: Thanksgiving Helper

The Story of the Pilgrims

Fancy Nancy: Our Thanksgiving Banquet

Biscuit is Thankful

The Best Thanksgiving Ever

‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving

The Story of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day Thanks

This is the Turkey

Take some time this month to have some family reading time with Thanksgiving books, and discussions about the meaning of Thanksgiving and why it is a part of our history.

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October 28th, 2014 at 1:06 pm

Creating Halloween Memories

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Think back to your childhood….

What did you dress up as?

What was your most memorable costume?

Did you go on any Halloween “field trips” with your family?

How did you celebrate Halloween at school?

Did you carve pumpkins while you were growing up?

What were some of your favorite Halloween memories?

How did your family make Halloween a special time?

Did you like going to haunted houses as a child?

What was your favorite candy to get when you were growing up?

Take some time tonight at dinner to talk about what Halloween memories you have from childhood, then turn it around on your kids and see how they answer the questions. What are their favorites? What memories are you making that will stick with them? Life is about enjoying experiences and making memories! Spend this week making some good Halloween memories!

 

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October 24th, 2014 at 12:31 pm

Halloween Songs and Rhymes

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Little kids love to sing songs and say rhymes. Here are some fun ones for Halloween!

Spooky Loo

Here we go spooky loo, here we go spooky light
Here we go spooky loo, all on a Halloween night
You put your right hand in, you put your right hand out,
You give your hand a shake-shake-shake, and turn yourself about.

(Follow with left hand, foot, head, whole self)

Ten Little Round Pumpkins

One little, two little, three little pumpkins
Four little, five little, six little pumpkins
Seven little, eight little, nine little pumpkins,
Ten little round pumpkins

I’m an Acorn

I’m an acorn small and round
Lying on the cold, cold ground
Everybody steps on me;
That is why I’m cracked, you see!
I’m a nut (x x)* I’m a nut (x x)
I’m a nut! (*tongue clicks)

Three Green Goblins

Three green goblins danced on Halloween.
One was fat, one thin, one was in-between.
One green goblin danced on his toes.
Up he jumped, down he fell, he bumped his funny nose!
One green goblin danced through the town,
Right side up, upside down, round and round and round.
One green goblin danced beneath the moon,
Ha-ha-ha, he-he-he, he sang a goblin tune.
Three green goblins danced on Halloween,
One was fat, one was thin, one was in-between.

Pumpkins, Pumpkins

Pumpkins, pumpkins in the patch,
Pumpkins, pumpkins on the vine
There are five, round and orange,
I’ll pick one and it is mine.
(Four, three, two, one)

I’m a Witch

I’m a witch-ch-ch
I’m a witch-ch-ch
With a pointy hat on my head
I jump on my broom and I sweep the sky
While the children are in bed.

To the tune of “Are You Sleeping?”

Halloween candy, tastes just dandy,
Bubble gum too, is fun to chew,
I went Trick-or-Treating, then I started eating,
Ooo! I’m sick! Call the doctor quick!

Five Little Pumpkins

Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate,
The first one said, “Oh my, its getting late”
The second one said, “There are witches in the air!”
The third one said, “But we don’t care.”
The fourth one said, “Let’s run and run and run.”
The fifth one said, “I’m ready for some fun.”
Oooo went the wind and out went the light
And five little pumpkins rolled out of sight!

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October 20th, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Halloween Games and Activities

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Halloween fun isn’t only about dressing up and trick-or-treating. Playing halloween games is a nice way to have fun as a family, or celebrate with friends at a party.

  • Witches Hat Ring Toss – Purchase some witches hats from the dollar store and stuff with newspaper. Use rings of some sort (I used glow necklaces) to throw around the hats.
  • Tic Tac Toe – A great game for people of all ages this printable is an easy way to make it Halloween worthy.
  • Costume Paper Doll Dress-Up – An easy activity to keep kids occupied is by drawing a cut out of a person. I usually just trace a the largest gingerbread man cookie cutter I have. The kids love to transform the shape by drawing a costume on it. They can draw on clothes to make it a pirate, Frankenstein, Dracula, a princess, a fairy, etc. Be ready to provide lots of papers with the initial drawing because the ideas can be endless! You can even make these life-size by tracing your child.
  • Leaf Rubbings and Other Drawing Fun – Another craft idea is to take some leaves and stick them under a piece of paper. Use a crayon with all the paper off to make a leaf rubbing. Create a fun picture or use the design to be the background to a fun shape that you cut out. Or, did you ever notice that your foot upside down looks like a ghost? This is a great craft for really young ones. Paint the bottom of their feet and toes and place down on paper. Add some eyes once it dries and you have a spooky, but cute ghost!
  • Mummy Wrap –  Each  child gets a roll of toilet paper and they get to wrap up their friends.
  • Pumpkin Ping-Pong – Cut out some shapes to make them look like Jack-O-Lantern faces and line them up in a row away from you. Give the kids ping pong balls to throw at the buckets one by one. First person to get them in all the buckets wins!
  • Halloween Sensory Boxes – Take a box, cut a hole in it, and cover it with a cloth. Fill it with stuff and have the kids pass it around to touch. Some of the fun things you can add are popcorn kernels for “witches teeth, bologna for “tongues,” peeled grapes for “eyeballs,” and spaghetti for “brains.”
  • Costume Race or Dress-Up –  We’ve got tons of costumes and props lying around from past years. See how many different costume ideas can come out of that box. Have a timed race to see who can put the best costume together the quickest. Have little ones? Then do a Halloween fashion show complete with pictures.
  • Pumpkin Bowling –  Take some toilet paper and make it look like ghosts with cutouts from construction paper that you attach. Take an extra pumpkin and drill three holes in it, just like a bowling ball. Hours of entertainment!

Have a great time celebrating Halloween!

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October 17th, 2014 at 8:56 pm

Halloween Safety

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Halloween is such a fun holiday for kids! They get to dress up in costumes, trick-or-treat with friends, and get free candy. But with all that comes some concerns that you should discuss with your kids ahead of time. Safety first! Here are some things to think about, whether you’re taking your kids or they’re heading out with friends:

Costume Safety (For Parents)

  • If you are trick or treating in the dark, make sure the costume is visible. Give your kids a flashlight or flickering necklace hold or wear while they’re out. There is also reflective tape you could add to the costume.
  • Make sure the costume fits and isn’t hanging onto the ground, creating a tripping hazard. Also make sure any eye holes are big enough to be seen through.
  • Any props like guns, swords, etc. should be evaluated as to whether they are really needed for the costume.
  • Make sure any hair spray or makeup has been tested beforehand. Sometimes cosmetic substances like that can be irritating to the skin.

Trick or Treating Safety (For Kids)

  • Stay in the neighborhood (parents and kids should discuss boundaries beforehand). Be careful when crossing the street. Watch for cars and obey any traffic signals.
  • Never enter someone’s home, even if they invite you in.
  • Only go to each house once.
  • Don’t be greedy, take only one piece of candy (or two if the homeowner says you can) and leave the rest for other trick-or-treaters.
  • Stay with your group and/or adult or parent at all times. Don’t wander off.
  • Use manners – always say “thank you” after receiving your treats.

Candy Safety (For Parents)

  • Check your children’s candy to see if anything has  been tampered with, or if there is anything they are allergic to or should have because of certain dental or health issues. It’s generally a good idea to discard anything homemade or in unsealed bags.

Be safe and have lots of fun!!

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October 13th, 2014 at 1:53 pm

Fun Treats for Halloween

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Trick or Treat?

Halloween is really all about the treats, right?

There are so many ways to get creative with treats for this fun holiday. Here are some of my favorites.

Little Frankies

Frankenstein Cupcakes

Goldfish Filled Pumpkins

Monster Pudding Cups

Witches Hat Cupcakes

Frankenstein Rice Krispies

Mummy Hot Dogs

Pumpkin Rice Krispies

Yummy Mummy Treats

Frankenstein Halloween Treats

Candy Corn Cupcakes

Halloween Spider Chocolate Chip Cookies

Jello Worms

Banana Ghosts and Orange Pumpkins

Spookey Halloween Bones

Dracula’s Dentures

Mini Donut Spiders

 

I definitely will be making several of those for my boys over the next few weeks. An easy Halloween snack my boys love is caramel apples. Here’s how I make them for my family!

Caramel Apple Supreme

Ingredients:

Apples
Caramel topping for Ice Cream
Whipped Cream
Maraschino Cherries
Various Toppings: nuts, Heath bar pieces, mini M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces, chopped candies, sprinkles, and more!
Cut the apple into slices and place in a bowl. Cover with heated caramel topping. Sprinkle on how many toppings you would like. Top with whipped cream and a cherry!

Super easy and super yummy!

 

 

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