Creative Gift Ideas that Feed Your Child's Passions

I'm one of those parents that still believes in surprises during the holidays. 

As in, I tell my kids you can make that Christmas list as loooong as you want to but there will be a few things under the tree that you never knew you wanted ;)

Each year, we brainstorm ideas for some unique gift that we can get each of them -- something we just know they would LOVE but that probably didn't make it on their list.

We start by thinking about their current passions and obsessions.  You know how kids get crazy for certain things -- they become nuts over dinosaurs or horses, or all of a sudden they are infatuated with art or building.  We like to find gifts that engage their minds and feed their curious side. 

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Teaching Kids about Veterans Day & Remembrance Day

Talking to kids about unhappy moments can be tough -- BUT it's a necessary thing in life. 

Educating them about Veterans Day, Remembrance Day and war is one of those occasions -- it's not a pleasant topic to discuss but one that needs to be talked about with the next generation.

It's important for our children to honor and appreciate what others have done for all of us and to understand some of the sacrafices that each person makes during wartime.  So today, we're sharing some great resources for introducing kids of all ages to the topic of wartime and service to your country.

 

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5 Tips for Stress Free Holiday Travel with Kids

 

Are you one of the millions of families who head "Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house" for the holidays?

Once you have kids, holiday travel takes on a whole new meaning :) 

Not to worry, we have a great group of FREE printables and AWESOME travel tips that will help you have a relaxing and fun holiday road trip!

 

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30 Service Projects for Kids & Families

Looking for volunteer ideas or service projects to help others this holiday season?

I’ve written before about what I want my kids to love about November and understanding how to help their community, serve others and be grateful for all they have is a big part of it.

But here’s the thing – it’s not always easy to do, is it?

We all get busy – school events, homework, prepping for the holidays, daylight savings time makes the day feel much shorter so you’re more likely to stay inside in the evenings ....

.... so many small excuses for why we aren’t able to fit things in.

But I realized over the years that the idea of giving & kindness doesn’t have to be this BIG, GRAND action --

The small acts are JUST as important!  

This year, we're sharing 30 Ideas for Gratitude & Giving to inspire families -- service projects that can be done at home, Random Acts of Kindness that can be done together and places where families can to volunteer during the holiday season.

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7 Ways to Get Rid of Your Extra Halloween Candy

Not sure what to do with that extra Halloween candy?  We've got a few awesome ideas on how to get rid of it (no eating required)!

I’m always amazed at how much candy we accumulate during the week of Halloween! 

I think my kids must look  extra good in their costumes on some years because we end up with waaayyy more candy than I think we should have -- and more than we will ever eat.

One of our favorite traditions is to dump it all out on Halloween night and sort it into groups -- then Dad takes his share (like as many Reese's as the kids will let him grab :) and the kids do the whole "bleah - I won't eat these" type of thing.

And then I look at what's left -- STILL too much candy.

In fact, when my daughter pulled out the candy container this week, there were still a few pieces of candy in it from Easter.

Some candy is good – but too much of a good thing just takes up space ;) not to mention tempts my peanut-butter-cup-loving-husband a little to much.

So what can you do with all that extra candy? 

We’ve got a few really good ideas for you!

 

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5 Awesome Activites at Your Local Nature Center

When I first started to stay home with the kids full-time, I knew that we HAD to get out of the house each week.

While I'll be the first to admit that there are so many fun ways to learn at home, kids quickly expand their understanding of the world if they have opportunities to visit new places.

That was always an easy task during the nice weather, but once lat Fall hit, it was more of a challenge to find fun places we could visit & explore (especially those that were in our budget and didn't involve a fast food location ;)

Then I came across a GEM!  We took a trip to our local nature center -- and we spent 3 hours there!  I know, we only expected it to be a short visit but there was just so much to do that I couldn't get the kids to agree they were done until they explored the whole darn place. 

And then we were hooked -- we found 3 more nature centers to visit that winter.  Since many centers have both indoor and outdoor spaces, they are a wonderful resource for the colder months.

 

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40 FREE Thanksgiving Coloring Pages & DIY Turkey Coloring Jar

With the new craze of coloring pages, I thought it would be a great idea to have a set of free coloring pages for kids all ready for Thanksgiving! 

Since both kids and adults alike enjoy this activity, it's a wonderful way to encourage multi-generational conversation while everyone's mingling and waiting for the turkey to cook.  And it's always a great idea to have some Thanksgiving Activities and fun ways that the kids can pitch in to help!

But I didn't just want to toss some crayons and such on the table (pictures in my head of melted wax on the cloth napkins made me shudder a little ;)

Instead, I put together an adorable Turkey coloring jar -- and of course I have a free printable for you so that you can quickly create your own, along with links to 40 festive Thanksgiving cooring pages for all the kids & adults who will be celebrating with you!

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Tips for Keeping Kids Safe while Playing Sports

I recently received an email with a question that caught my eye --

"Worried Your Kid Is Going To Break...Something?"

"Hell Yes!"  was all I could think because we have kids who are prone to injury.

Anyone who knows our family is not surprised to see one of the kids walking around with a cast or brace.  I swear that our family motto should be 'Play hard, get hurt, do it again'.

Let's see, the kids have suffered from a deep bone contusion while playing football, a broken wrist in basketball, a leg fracture with dance and four teeth knocked out during another basketball game (read more about our medical adventures & tips on caring for a child in a cast).

And I only have 2 kids!

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20 Alternatives to Candy for Halloween Treats

Have you ever considered NOT handing out candy for Halloween?

Let me tell you about the year I handed out pretzels -- It's a HUGE family joke so I'm sure I've mentioned it before.

To my defense, they were pumpkin & bat shaped pretzels in these cute little Halloween-themed bags ....

BUT that didn't seem to impress MY kids at all. 

All I heard was "What if my friends stop by?  They'll think you don't like Halloween?" 

Well that's totally not true given some of the fun ways we hand out candy and the cool Halloween decorations we have at our house!

But I wasn't going to waiver -- I was going with pretzels that year!  Every other house would hand out candy so there would be more than enough of that to go around, right?

Then came Halloween night ...

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Animal Observation Activities: Tips for Teaching a Child to Focus & Listen

Today we're going to talk about how to help your child increase their attention span.

I know, we can all use practice with that, right?  It's the age we live in -- things move so fast and kids don't have the time they need to process their experiences. 

However, that processing time is crucial to their development! 

The article -- What Helps Kids Focus Better & Why They Need Help -- is a must read for any parent or educator!  Research has shown us that kids will learn best when they can focus and maintain attention to a task.  BUT that doesn't just come naturally to children -- we have to give them opportunities to practice and build this skill.

And one of the ways to do this is to inspire kids with a fun outdoor adventure!

There are a number of benefits to getting kids more time outside -- it increases creativity, reduces stress, allows them to build their imagination --

and gives them an opportunity to focus and expand their attention span!

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55+ FREE Pumpkin Carving Stencils for Kids & Teens

Looking to create a pumpkin that reminds you of Star Wars, IronMan, the LEGO movie or even Game of Thrones?  Try this awesome list of stencils for the most awesome pumpkin carving ever!

Every year, we have a family pumpkin carving session for Halloween -- like many families, it's one of those holiday traditions you look forward to (along with toasting those yummy seeds!)

The kids love to find pumpkin stencils for their favorite book or movie character each year.

We know first hand that it can sometimes take longer to FIND the right stencil than actually carve the pumpkin ;)  Last year, we looked for more than an hour to find a really great Ironman stencil. 

Our last 100 FREE Pumpkin Carving Stencils was so popular, I thought we should share some *NEW* ideas so you can quickly find the cool patterns you'll need to carve the most awesome pumpkin ever!

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The BEST Halloween Decoration: Ideas for the Front Porch and Trunk or Treat Event

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias and its advertiser. All opinions & design ideas are mine alone. #TrickOrSweet #CollectiveBias

 

Every Halloween, we run into the same dilemma -- who will hand out the candy at our house?!

It all started the first Halloween BOTH the kids were old enough to trick or treat.  As we dressed to head out the door, my son asked "But if we all go, who will hand out the candy?"

We told him it would be fine if we were gone for a little while but it wasn't fine for him --

"What if my friends come while we're gone?  They won't think we do Halloween!"

Hmmm....it certainly is a dilemma.  We love heading out with the kids on Halloween night and visiting with the neighbors.  But I also like all the neighborhood kids to be excited when they stop by our house and not see a dark porch.

So we needed to create a good way to hand out the candy while we were off enjoying ourselves.

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50 FREE Forest Animal Crafts & Activities

When I was a child, I can remember spending HOURS exploring the woods behind our house.

My brother, sister and I (along with our neighborhood friends) would hike back to this forested area and walk through the creek, play games and hope to encounter all types of woodland animals.

During the summer, we would head out after breakfast and come back tired & hungry for a late lunch.  The woods were a special place -- so colorful in the Fall, mysteriously quiet in the winter, full of life during Spring and a cool respite during those hot Summer days.

We thought we were explorers!

And as a parent, I was reminded this summer that these moments of childhood are experienced by each generation.  During our marathon summer road trip, we spent a few days at Gran & Pop's house which is located on 4.5 acres of wooded property.

Each morning, the kids would say "We're going back to the creek" or "We're taking the path through the woods to explore" -- words that reminded me how every child is drawn to the forest.

So today we're going to kick-off a short series focused on Forest Adventures! 

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Halloween Glitter Glow Sensory Craft

I want to introduce you to our newest craft project -- we call them Frank, Pete & Mike :)

What else would you call a monster, pumpkin and mummy, right?

We loved making the Halloween Salt-dough Glitter Garland last year so I thought we'd try our hand at another glittery Halloween craft.

But we uped the anty with these -- we wanted something that was not only fun to make but was also interactive and had a sensory component to it.

Not to mention their awesome ability to go from day to night so the kids can enjoy it 24/7 -- they can even be used as a fun nightlight during the Halloween season :)

 

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40 Family-friendly Fall Activities

This Fall, we want to continue to inspire families to connect & make memories together with a great list of Fall activities you'll love! 

Do you know what I love about the Fall and Halloween season?

I adore the fact that adults enjoy it just as much as the kids!  I think so many of us are kids at heart -- heading to the pumpkin patch, the idea of dressing up, a hike in the woods and who doesn't love candy ;)

I know firsthand that it can be a busy time -- school events, sports practices, shorter days and things that need to get done around the house.  My husband & I were just lamenting that it's hard to find time to unwind as a family.  I firmly believe that you have to carve out time to connect -- otherwise those everday tasks begin to take over.

As with The $0 Summer activities that we shared over the past few months, our goal is to help you find free or low cost ideas for family fun this Fall -- and today, we have 40 fun ways you can get out & enjoy life together!

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