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Archive for the ‘activities’ Category

June 16th, 2014 at 9:36 am

It’s Strawberry Season!

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Since I was a little girl, my favorite fruit has been the strawberry, and it was always SO much fun to go strawberry picking with my mom. Now, as a parent, I keep that tradition with my boys. In Wisconsin, the strawberries will be starting to ripen in the next week, so you will definitely find us in the strawberry field picking away! Once I fill up a box with fresh strawberries, the actual work begins, and I wanted to share with you what I do to freeze strawberries so we can enjoy them all year long.

The first step is to wash the strawberries. I put a cup or so at a time in a colander and rinse them off. I then lay them out on kitchen towels and pat dry. Once they are all done, I then hull all the strawberries. I personally use this strawberry huller, but there are all kinds of models you can look into, or you can even do it with a simple drinking straw.

At this point, all the major prep work is done. Now you have to decide how you will use the berries. If you are just going to eat or serve them, leave them whole or cut into quarters or halves. If you plan to freeze them, you can cut them in a variety of ways.

I like to freeze most of my berries for use at a later time. Some I will freeze whole, and others I will mash for use on strawberry shortcake or on waffles. To freeze berries whole, put the hulled berries on a pan and stick in the freezer. Once they have frozen, remove them and fill freezer bags, remembering to seal them tightly. When you thaw, they are almost as fresh as when you picked them! To mash strawberries, I put them in a large bowl and use my potato masher to break them up. I also add a pinch of sugar, to taste, so they have a little more sweetness to them. These I ladle into freezer safe jars or plastic containers and then thaw right on the countertop when I am ready to use. Out of season, berries from the supermarket can get very expensive, so this saves money in the long run!

The picking process can get boring for the kids, but all you have to do is remind them of all the delicious treats they can eat with them! Strawberry shortcake is a great summer dessert dish, and smoothies are healthy and filling for breakfast, lunch or a snack. There are so many things you can do with this great fruit, so get out there and pick some strawberries!

 

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June 13th, 2014 at 6:57 am

10 Reasons to Visit a Farmer’s Market

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Farmer’s markets are not only a source of healthy and often organic produce, they’re also a source of learning for kids! Supporting local businesses helps your community as well. Here are 10 reasons you should visit a farmer’s market with your kids.

Talk With Real Farmers – One thing I have found is that the vendors at the farmer’s market love to talk about how they grew their food. Have the kids talk to them and ask questions.

Teach Kids About Farms- In the city, a lot of children don’t know about farms or have never been to one. Take this time to talk about people who farm, what they do, and how the food gets to their plates.

Spend Family Time Together – Set an hour or so aside to walk through the market and talk about the items. Sometimes there is even music and other activities for your children to participate in.

Learn About Your Community- Connect with others and learn all the different things that go on in your town. At our market, one of our favorite restaurants does cooking demonstrations. Our kids have learned that much of the food they eat comes from the market.  Our farmer’s market also takes place on our downtown main street. This gives us an opportunity to explore the stores and restaurants that are in the area as well.

Develop Healthy Eating Habits- Open up a possibility of options for new foods that your kids will eat.

Learn About Nutrition- Talk about the importance of eating a rainbow of colors.

Introduce New Foods- Discuss any new foods you may see. Some even YOU may not know about.

Teach Kids About Money – Give each child some money to spend on things they want to try.

Teach Kids About When Certain Things Grow- Certain fruits and vegetables are available at certain times of year according to weather and growing conditions.

Cook Your Purchases – This is a great way to get your kids involved in the cooking of the items you found. It is known that kids are more likely to try new things if they had a hand in preparing them.

Have fun exploring your local farmer’s market!

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May 30th, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Encouraging Learning During Summer Vacation

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Just because school has ended doesn’t mean that kids should stop  learning. Summer is a great time to incorporate learning into your everyday plans, and work on skills for the next year.

Use Your Imagination
Summer is a great time for your kids to use their imagination. Play with Legos, dolls, or even stare at the clouds outside. If your children are at an age when they can write, have them keep a journal (it makes a nice keepsake for them to look back on as well).  Make  time to do some of these things with them.

Visit The Library
The library is a great place to explore regularly during the summer. While this is a great place to get reading materials, you can also investigate and learn about things you may encounter. If you are going on a walk in the woods, you may want to pick up a book about wild flowers or insects. There are children’s book clubs or story time events you can join as well.

Take Field Trips
One of my families favorite summer activities is exploring places during our lazy summer days. Take some time to check out nearby parks, wildlife centers, museums and more. There is so much you can learn plus it is a great way to learn about the area you live in.

Worksheets/Coloring Pages Are Fun and Educational
There are some great workbooks available to help your child. Something as simple as a journal or some coloring pages can help them too.

Study Nature And Science
Summer is a great time to learn about science and nature. How do bubbles work? Can the hot sun fry an egg? How do caterpillars turn into butterflies? The list is endless. Use this time to help your children what’s going on in the world around them. If you have a telescope, you can help your child identify constellations and such.

Sing Songs
My boys love music. Even if we are just outside hanging out, we love to listen and sing to music. Sometimes we even dance around. Look for outdoor concerts to enjoy. There is a summertime lunch concert each week in our town that we like to attend and bring a picnic lunch to. It’s nice to get outside and enjoy some culture!

Play Games
We love play card and board games together! Whether it be puzzles, strategy games, or just games of concentration, they are all fun tools for keeping brains sharp and focused.

How do you incorporate learning into your summer days?

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May 26th, 2014 at 9:00 am

Summer Fun Bucket

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One of my favorite things to surprise the kids with is a summer fun bucket! I take a bucket and stuff it with all the fun items we need for summer vacation. Here is a list of fun things to fill your bucket with:

  • Sandals or flip-flops
  • Inner tube or pool float
  • Goggles
  • Beach towel
  • Water balloons
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Bubbles
  • Fun craft set
  • Tickets to the zoo, pool, or another local attraction
  • Popsicle sticks and dixie cups
  • Water gun
  • Sparklers
  • Journal to document summer activities
  • Water bottle
  • Sandbox toys
  • Frisbee
  • Cards – to play War, Go Fish or other games
  • New coloring book and crayons
  • Sporting items
  • Glo sticks

What other things would you fill your bucket with?

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April 25th, 2014 at 6:52 am

Get Your Family Moving!

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Life is different for kids these days – between video games, television, busy schedules and long car rides confined to car seats, there isn’t as much time for physical activity. We have to think about making our lifestyles more active and making physical activity a part of our everyday life. Here are some ideas to get your whole family moving more.

Have a Dance Party. Turn on some music and go crazy. The kids love doing this especially when parents are involved.

Set Up An Obstacle Course.

Take A Bike Ride. Add a bike carrier for little ones that can’t ride themselves. Take a ride to the park or a long ride around town. In summer we love to take a ride to the nearby ice cream shop for a treat at night.

Take Walks. Strap your little one in the stroller and take a walk. Not only is the fresh air great, but the change of scenery can be a good change of pace. Go to a nearby trail and have everyone walk along.

Exercise During Commercials. Make commercials fun for the whole family with some of these great ideas.

Make Exercise Challenges. Kids love challenges. In January, I was practicing my plank, increasing my time every night. My kids loved to do it along with me and try to beat me at it. Do this with sit-ups, push-ups, and even flexibility. We love to race to the car or house door when arriving home from outings as well.

Do Yard Work As A Family. A great workout can be achieved by raking, shoveling, or even pulling weeds. Work together as a family to get stuff done around the house.

Hold A Sports Night. Do you often have a game night? During nice weather switch to a sports night. Play tag, jump rope, soccer, tennis or any other fun game that involves activity.

Take The Stairs or Park Farther Away - Park at the back of the parking lot or take stairs when they are available. Your kids will think this is the norm!

What do you do to help your family be more active?

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April 10th, 2014 at 12:07 pm

10 Easter Egg Hunt Tips

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As a child, my favorite part of Easter was the egg hunt in our backyard. My siblings, cousins and I would search the entire property for colorful eggs left by the Easter bunny! Now, as an adult, I love watching the kids have that same experience. Some of you may have only a few children and the hunt coordination is fairly easy, but if you do a multi-family egg hunt it can get pretty complicated…especially when it comes to keeping the peace when the kids have free reign and goodies are involved! Here are ten egg hunt tips to make sure everything goes smoothly.

  1. Decide on a set number of eggs each child will get. I recommend plastic eggs so you can hide prizes inside, but some people like to hide real eggs.
  2. Choose a variety of prizes to fill the eggs with. Make sure things are age appropriate. Some good ideas are: Change or dollar bills, candy, erasers, whistles, stickers, hair clips, small toys, temporary tattoos, bracelets, etc. You can also have one or two special eggs for each child with a note inside that they can trade in for a big toy that wouldn’t fit. You can find some great, affordable prizes at your local Walmart!
  3. If you have a small scale egg hunt, give each child an egg color or size so there is no confusion as to which eggs they should look for. If you have a large scale egg hunt, decide on egg colors or size per age group, i.e. Ages 2-4 can only take red and yellow eggs, ages 5-9 can only take blue and green eggs, etc. That way, they will get the appropriate goodies for their age group and you know how to appropriately hide them so that they’re not too difficult for little ones, or too easy for older ones, to find.
  4. Set an appropriate time for the hunt. Keep in mind when it starts to get dark in your area and allow the kids ample time before sundown. Also keep in mind that the kids will want to play with and eat their prizes right away, so plan it around your meals.
  5. Decide on the area you will hide the eggs in and,  if necessary, use flags to create boundaries so the kids don’t go looking in the wrong places. It also provides an element of safety so you can make sure that they don’t wander off or go into areas where they might get hurt.
  6. Write down where you hide the eggs. I can tell you from experience that it’s easy to forget after hiding a bunch of them!
  7. Hand out baskets to make it easy for the kids to collect their eggs. A fun way to prepare for this is to let them decorate and personalize their egg hunt baskets a day or two before Easter!
  8. Designate egg hunt “moderators” who can help the kids find the eggs if they have trouble and get frustrated. For little ones, they can guide them in the right direction.
  9. Designate a few people to handle photography and take pictures of the kids hunting for the eggs. These moments are precious and will be special memories to look back on!
  10. Make a rule that no one can open their eggs until each child has found all of their eggs. Patience is a virtue!

What do YOU have planned for the egg hunt this year? Share with us on our Facebook wall!

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April 7th, 2014 at 1:40 pm

100 Easter Basket Fillers

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I love to watch my kids’ eyes light up when they find their Easter basket. We fill the baskets with candy and other favorite food treats for the little ones to enjoy, but every year I struggle to find other items to include. Here is a list of 100 items you can fill your child’s basket with!

  1. Pacifiers
  2. Pacifier Holder
  3. Headband
  4. Sippee Cups
  5. Bibs
  6. Onesies
  7. Musical Toys
  8. Garanimals Baby Toys or Foam Letters
  9. Small Stuffed Animal
  10. Toddler Cutlery
  11. Pajamas
  12. Magnetic Fridge Letters
  13. Umbrella
  14. Rain Boots
  15. Coloring Books
  16. Character Undies
  17. Hex bugs
  18. Crayons
  19. Bath Toys/Crayons
  20. Sidewalk Chalk
  21. Bubbles
  22. Fun Toothbrush
  23. Fun Shampoo
  24. Sunglasses
  25. Stuffed Animal
  26. Painting Smock
  27. Art Supplies (pencils, crayons, markers, paints)
  28. Art Kits
  29. Bubble Bath
  30. DVD
  31. CDs
  32. Blocks
  33. Fun Cups/Plates
  34. Frisbee
  35. Dress Up Items
  36. Play Jewelry
  37. Kaleidoscope
  38. Pool Toys
  39. Posters
  40. Fun Duct Tape
  41. Suncatchers
  42. T-shirt
  43. Top
  44. Kids Word Search
  45. Jump Rope
  46. Construction Paper
  47. Hair Pretties
  48. Yo-Yo
  49. Flashlight
  50. Book light
  51. Sandals/Flip Flops
  52. Beach Towel
  53. Matchbox cars
  54. Kite
  55. Play Tool Set
  56. Sand Toys
  57. Shovel and Pail
  58. Chapstick
  59. Bike Horn/Bell
  60. Watch
  61. Character Bandaids
  62. Temporary Tatoos
  63. Water Bottle
  64. Swimsuit
  65. Summer Hat
  66. Books – appropriate for child’s level
  67. Sticket Books
  68. Water Gun
  69. Nerf Gun
  70. Swim Goggles
  71. Lego’s
  72. Sporting Supplies or games
  73. Jigsaw Puzzle
  74. Balls
  75. Cards or Card Game
  76. Jacks or Marbles
  77. Tape Measure (my boys loved the keychain ones since they were toddlers)
  78. Doll
  79. Nail Painting Supplies
  80. Animal figures
  81. Magic Tricks
  82. Comic Book or Kids Magazine
  83. Bop it or Tangle Jr
  84. My Little Pony or other small horses
  85. Play Food
  86. Walkie Talkies
  87. Small Magna Doodle or Etch a Sketch
  88. Glow Sticks
  89. Small Musical Instrument (harmonica, recorder)
  90. Pencils/Pencil Toppers
  91. Action Figures
  92. Trading Cards
  93. Fun Socks
  94. Seeds and a pot
  95. Diary or Journal
  96. Video Game controller or new game
  97. Play Dough
  98. Bunny Ears
  99. Gift Cards to favorite stops
  100. Bunny Money

Feel free to share any other ideas I may have missed!

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April 4th, 2014 at 9:00 am

Fun Easter Themed Apps

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Easter is such a fun time filled with the anticipation of hidden baskets and eggs. Help spread the excitement by adding some games for your child to play. Whether it be an Easter themed puzzle, virtual egg coloring, or even an Easter themed book, these apps will make preparing for Easter even more fun!

Easter Bunny Tracker - See if the Easter Bunny is close to hiding his/her eggs at your house!

Paint Easter Egg HD – A fun app for coloring virtual eggs…same fun without the mess!

Hidden Egg Hunt - A hidden picture game where you find hidden eggs. Race against the clock to beat each level.

Easter Bunny Call – Make your little ones think the Easter Bunny is calling them directly.

Color Me! Easter – A virtual coloring book with pictures of the Easter Bunny, eggs, and other spring things.

Bubble Blast Easter - A puzzle game you won’t be able to put down.

Puzzle Me Easter – Work on your jigsaw puzzle skills with this easter themed app.

Easter Bunny Scan O’Meter - Tells children whether they are being good or bad according to the Easter Bunny – the best part is that you set it secretly!

Easter Expressions - Make cards that can be emailed to wish Easter blessings to family and friends.

Easter Egg Design Generator - Another virtual egg dying app.

Easter Bunny Dress Up – Have your child take a picture with the Easter Bunny that they dressed up themselves!

Easter Bunny Games for Kids: Easter Egg Hunt Jigsaw Puzzles HD for Toddler and Preschool - An easy jigsaw puzzle app for the littlest ones.

Sneezies Easter Edition - A chain reaction game with sneezing fun!

Easter Egg Match – A fun slider game matching Easter Eggs.

Fly the Flappy Easter Bird - An arcade style game.

Bunyfur’s Easter Eggs – An Easter eBook.

 

 

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April 3rd, 2014 at 7:08 pm

Easter Treats

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Easter is only a few weeks away and it’s never too early to plan your holiday meals. Instead of saving the best for last, we like to start with it…DESSERT! Cakes, candy, cookies, and more, there are so many choices! You can go traditional or get creative. Do you have a special family recipe for an Easter dessert? Share your delicious creations on our Facebook page!

 

Photo Credit: www.bhg.com

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March 31st, 2014 at 7:28 am

DIY Scarves

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Scarves are all the rage, and just because winter is over doesn’t mean they need to be packed away in the closet. During spring and summer, choose scarves that are lighter material and have brighter colors. Have you ever tried making one yourself? Check out some of these great DIY scarves!

32 Easy DIY Scarves - I really like the tie-die infinity, braided infinity, ruffled, stenciled, and circle scarves for spring!

No sew rosette scarf - This would be a great way to dress up a tee or tank.

Arm Knitting – An easy, new trend. This is the best tutorial I have seen!

Ruffled Flower Scarf

Felt Flower Scarf

10 T-shirt Scarves- All 10 of these are on my to-do list!

You will find me wearing scarves all year long!

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