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Posted by on Jan 24, 2012 | 0 comments

Reader Submission: Kids Chores on a String

Reader Submission: Kids Chores on a String

My friend Rachel created a clever chore system for her two older children, ages 7 and 5, that’s a cinch to make, nice-looking, and easy to use. She used twine, clothespins, and Sharpies. It helps too that Rachel has absolutely perfect handwriting, making her chore chart even more aesthetically pleasing. You could do this with a label maker too. The concept goes like this: The kids have daily “must do” tasks as well as weekly chores that they get to choose. They can rotate the weekly chores. The tasks are listed on clothespins. When the task gets done each day, they turn the clothespin over to the blank side. By the end of the day, all pins should be on their blank side. At night, Rachel takes note, and flips the daily tasks back to the “chore” side for the following day. When in full affect, Fiona and Eamon each get a $1 allowance on Saturday. This is the string of weekly chores with their telltale double green and...

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Posted by on Jan 20, 2012 | 2 comments

Decor for the Outdoors: Ice Windows and Ornaments

Decor for the Outdoors: Ice Windows and Ornaments

Why not take advantage of the temperatures when they drop to the low 30s or freezing and make these gorgeous ice windows and ornaments. Nothing could be easier, gratifying, and fun to do with children too. Start by gathering various items from nature like berries, pine cones, pine tree and herb cuttings, and maybe add to the collection some items you may have in the house. We cut some orange slices and used some shells from summer beach combing.  You should also find a few small rocks because you’ll need them for the ornaments. For the ice windows, you can use a metal pie plate, or a wide and narrow plastic tub, or as we did, round cake pans. Just arrange the berries and such in the bottom of the pan and then take twine or thin nylon rope and lay it around the edges with a loop coming out at the top. Add water and then place the pan outside to freeze. When I checked them in a few hours,...

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Posted by on Dec 19, 2011 | 0 comments

Old School Christmas Crafts to Make with Kids

Old School Christmas Crafts to Make with Kids

Even though Christmas is less than a week away, there’s still time to enjoy making holiday crafts with your kids – especially these 5 ideas, because they don’t require elaborate ingredients or specialized skills and tools. An added bonus — you may remember these old school crafts from your youth. The popcorn garland To make this craft even simpler, I used plain Microwave popcorn. You do have to use a sharp needle though, so your children should be old enough to handle one. That said, I’m the one who ended up needing a Band-Aid. Pipe cleaner snowflakes These pipe cleaner snowflakes are easy-peasy. You’ll need to demonstrate how to make one first and then the kids will enjoy cutting the pipe cleaners and twisting them into cool-looking snowflakes – no two alike. We hung ours in our window. Paper snowflakes These are even easier. Just fold a square piece of paper on the diagonal and then fold again in half. Next, fold again in half and then cut off...

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Posted by on Dec 12, 2011 | 3 comments

Small-Scale Studios for Young Artists

Small-Scale Studios for Young Artists

I’ve recently chatted with several parents about how they display their kids’ art. Which ones do you keep, which ones do you sneak in the trash so your kids don’t see, and how do you encourage creativity in a small space without your house feeling cluttered or looking like a daycare center? Here are few ideas. In my house, I designated a small wall in the dining/living room area as a place to keep art supplies organized and to display the kids’ favorite projects. Jack loves having his own “art wall.” I attached an IKEA RIBBA ledge shelf on the upper part of the wall. This serves double duty — displays art projects and hides the awkward thermostat. The pictures only lean alongside the thermostat and do not block airflow to the register. A string hanging below the shelf holds additional projects, attached with small binder clips. This rod with hooked cannisters (also from IKEA) holds markers, crayons, and glue sticks. Need some markers? Just unhook the can and take to the table....

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Posted by on Dec 5, 2011 | 2 comments

The Making of a Sock Monkey

The Making of a Sock Monkey

The sock monkey is a model of DIY ingenuity. A long time ago, someone had the wherewithal to figure out you can take an old pair of socks and create a stuffed animal in just a few simple steps. Genius. I made my first sock monkey several years ago. I made a bunch that year for all my friends’ kids — different style socks, different colors, some in the traditional red-heeled Rockfords, and some in whatever I could find at Target. My youngest doesn’t have one yet so this is his year to get a sock monkey for Christmas. Step 1: Get socks! You can use any kind of sock with a distinct heel. The more interesting the sock, the most interesting the monkey. If you get the Rockford socks, you’ll get the instructions for making a sock monkey inside the pack. Otherwise, just follow along here. You’ll also need a sewing machine, needle and thread, stuffing, and embroidery thread or yarn. Step 2: Cut socks One sock will...

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