Young kids go through all kinds of ages and stages—one year they may be interested in dinosaurs, cats or ponies and the next sports, princesses or ballerinas. This year, my daughter has been captivated by everything rainbow. From rainbow playdough, rainbow toys or even real rainbows in the sky, the bright, cheery colors just seem to draw her in. We have found it a charming fascination, so decided to incorporate rainbows as the theme for her family birthday this year. Enter, rainbow cupcakes!
We started by sitting down with our girls and following a simple yellow cupcake recipe together step-by-step. Our little one loved having the opportunity to “cook” with her big sister, and was given the provisions of bowls, spoons and flour (which made for a wonderful kitchen “snow fall” according to her big sister!)
Once the cupcakes were out of the oven and cooled, we mixed food coloring and frosting into 6 different cups –one for each color in the rainbow. My daughter used piping bags (when we ran out we simply used Ziplock baggies and cut the corner off, which seemed to work just as well) and spoons to spread her multi-colored frosting on her cupcakes—creating beautiful rainbow designs. And while she was at it, she also decorated herself as a bear. What are birthdays for if not for messy, tasty fun?!
Toddlers and young children aren’t always enthusiastic about eating their fruits and vegetables. But it’s of course our duty as parents to provide these nutritious foods throughout the day. Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to battle, coerce or sneak around this matter with our children?
Our mission at Excited 2 Learn is to prevent such power struggles in everyday situations between kids and their caregivers by keeping tasks positive. So we recently were inspired to create a way to make eating vegetables and fruits more fun for children. Thus, we invite you to download our free Hippo Eats Fruits & Veggies printout and try this out with your kids!
What you’ll need: Laminate (can do at your local printer) Dry erase or window markers (more colors the better!) A color printout of “Hippo Eats Fruits and Veggies” PDF (free download)
How it works: Simply cover the printout with laminating sheets (the thicker the better) and explain to your child that as he/she eats fruits and vegetable you’ll add them to the shopping cart. You can write the words and/or draw a picture of the items with a dry erase marker. If you send your child to school or daycare with fruits and veggies as lunch or snacks, be sure to draw them in together when they get home. By dinnertime your child will be able to see and feel good about just how many nutritious fruits and veggies were consumed all day.
Because welcoming a new baby into the family can bring on a range of challenging emotions for young kids, we started a series to help you make the transition as smooth and positive as possible for them. We began with 5 tips that help set expectations for older siblings during pregnancy. Here are a few suggestions for a positive first meeting between your older child and your newborn at the hospital:
1. Have A Picture Of The Older Sibling Up in The Hospital.
This will make your older child aware that mommy and daddy have been thinking about him/her while they’ve been away.
2. Display/Use Big Sibling Activities.
Have your child wear his big brother/sister shirt or sticker and display any pictures or banners your child has made. Let everyone know, especially the big sibling, that you are celebrating his/her new role in the family.
3. Have The Older Sibling Meet The New Baby With Just Your Immediate Family Present.
Many people may want to see your child’s reaction when he/she meets the new baby, but this should be an intimate experience, not one that stimulates and sparks emotion with a potentially overwhelming crowd. You can always discreetly use a tripod to videotape the experience so everyone who wishes can cherish the special meeting forever.
4. Give Older Siblings Special Jobs For When You Are at the Hospital.
Your older child could introduce the baby to visitors, put on the baby’s hat, sing or read to the baby. Your goal is to make your older child feel important without pushing the new baby on him/her. If your older child would like to sit back and observe for a while, that is perfectly fine too.
5. Make Sure Your Child is Well Rested and Fed Before The Visit.
Introducing siblings for the first time may be emotional for everyone involved, so it is best to reduce factors that might add to that. Limiting hospital visits to two hours or less may also help keep things short and as sweet as can be.
Random acts of kindness inspire. In celebration of random acts of kindness week, we wanted to share some tips to inspire your kids and help instill the value of giving without expecting anything in return.
Our aunt had a Blessings Jar for her two boys when they were little. She put a bowl of coins next to an empty jar and encouraged them to become aware of every time they felt blessed (when they got to go on a special play date, if hugged & told “I love you,” while playing with a toy, eating a home cooked meal, etc.). Each time they felt grateful, a coin (or coins) went in the blessing jar. When the jar was filled they would bring it to church and donate it to those in need.
This week we started a blessing jar in my home. When our jar gets filled I plan to present my oldest daughter with a few options and have her decide where the money should go–who needs some extra blessing (whether it is church donations, buying something with the money to donate to someone in need, or purchasing groceries and make a meal for someone who is sick, etc.). As my girls get older I hope they will generate new ideas about where the money should go.
We decided to keep a notebook next to our jar in case someone wants to write down what they are grateful for, although it is not a “required” step before putting money into the blessings jar. (We wanted to make sure this didn’t discourage anyone from recognizing a blessing even when in a rush or he/she would rather keep something private). I am eager to read the blessings from the notebook with my children on Sunday nights at bedtime. I think this will be a great and positive way to wrap up our week.
I truly believe that instilling in my girls from a young age the joy that comes from giving, as well as being thankful for all the blessings in their lives is important.
Want to start a blessings jar in your home? Try starting with a small, clear glass jar so it gets filled often, especially until your little one is used to the idea.
We would love to see pictures of your blessings jars or hear about what you chose to do once it was filled. Do share and keep the inspiration of random acts of kindness alive!
Although everyone seems to love Angry Birds lately–we like to keep our birds happy! In fact, after Christmas each year my grandparents always let their 10 kids transfer the popcorn decorations from the Christmas tree to a tree outside for the birds to snack on.
So to carry on this family tradition we’ve taken to creating bird feeders with our children. Here are two we’ve tried out so far:
FRUIT FEEDER: We made this bird feeder with oranges, limes & grapefruits. I simply cut them in half and scooped out the inside. Then my daughter poked a wire through the top and twisted it to make a loop for hanging it. My daughter filled all three fruits up half way with peanut butter and then filled them with birdseed. We then found “perfect” trees to attach the feeder to for the birds.
PINECONE FEEDER: My daughter and her friends really enjoyed making this simple bird feeder. They took a large pinecone and smothered the outside with peanut butter. Then they rolled the cone in birdseed so it covered the outside. Lastly we tied yarn around the middle so they could hang it on a tree outside.
We’re eager to try something new, are you? Here are some other wonderful bird feeder ideas we found:
While your little one may not be quite ready to learn how to tie his or her shoes, with a little guidance, even young toddlers can grasp the concept of which shoe to put on which foot. Teaching your child the skill of matching shoes and putting them on correctly encourages independence and confidence, as well as promoting hand-eye coordination. Our latest tip provides you with an easy, fun way to get the ball rolling!
Simply use a permanent marker to draw a dime-sized design on the inside toe of the outside of your child’s shoes. For younger kids it’s best to keep it simple: drawing stars or hearts that match up, smiley faces that “kiss” or hands that give “high five.” You may wish to use little stickers or draw on a part of the shoe that is covered by your child’s foot, if you’d prefer not to draw directly on the shoes. Depending on the design you choose, explain to your child that when figuring out which shoe goes on which foot, he/she should make sure the two items match up when they hold the two shoes together.
For older kiddos, fun designs could include a bat and ball, house and key, elephant and peanut…
Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel and stay tuned for more tips from Excited 2 Learn!
So much cheer comes from a festive outdoor atmosphere, for decorators and passersby alike. Particularly in colder months when trees are bare, flower beds are empty and lawns are far from green, a little creativity around the outside of your home can go a long way in adding that extra little something. I’m referring to decoration that surprises and delights with visually appealing materials or themes you just don’t see everyday. Take this tree I captured in a neighboring town.
I love all of the colors and the creative way all of the hearts are hung about. I am definitely inspired to try this next year. What unique outdoor decorating projects do you have up your sleeve?
Especially for toddlers and young children, welcoming a new baby into the family can bring up emotions of confusion, frustration and even fear. These feelings can cause them to act out in negative ways, interfering with the entire family’s chance to have a positive experience throughout the transition. Here are our top five tips on how to help prepare your child for a new sibling during your pregnancy.
1.Set Expectations Verbally and Visually
Communication is key to setting your child’s expectations about having a new sibling. As you start to “show,” start by explaining that your family will be having a baby and that the baby is growing in your belly. Provide a general time frame for when the baby will arrive. It is helpful to associate the due date with a big event in your child’s life, e.g., after Thanksgiving, around your birthday, at the beginning of the summer, because young children’s sense of time is not well developed. As things progress, continue to explain what will be happening (the baby will want to eat and sleep a lot, the baby will sleep here, mom and dad will be going to the hospital to have the baby, etc.)
Make the idea of a new baby more of a reality for your child by looking at pictures of when he/she was born, as young children have an easier time dealing with new situations if you relate it to their own experiences. I made a photo book for my daughter before our second child was born. It included my pregnancy, ultrasound pictures, our stay in the hospital, all the people who came to visit her, what she was like as a baby, and what she was like when she started getting bigger.
2. Include Your Child in Your Prenatal Care
(This video is of my daughter along for a prenatal visit as we expected our 2nd! )
Depending upon your child’s age, it can be fun and informative to go to some of your appointments. He/she will get to hear the baby’s heart beat, measure your belly and ask the doctor questions. If your hospital allows it, also consider taking your child on a tour of the hospital/center where you’ll have the baby. These seemingly little things will have a big impact on your child’s understanding of all of the changes as they happen.
3. Visit With or Babysit for a Baby
One of the best ways for your child to get prepared for what it will be like with a newborn at home is to invite one into your home. Your child can practice some of the things you have been discussing, like being gentle with the baby, and get a firsthand feel for what a baby is really like, e.g., such as diaper changes and feedings!
4. Instill Sibling Pride
Do activities, read books, or give your child a special gift that helps demonstrate the exciting role of being a big brother or sister. These items will provide a much-needed touchstone of pride when it comes to the new baby.
5. Do Not Focus or Blame the Pregnancy or the New Baby for Disruptions/Changes in the Older Child’s Life
Blaming the baby will fuel resentment, so try to state the facts, for example, “You are getting too big for Mommy to carry you, but I would love to hold your hand.”
Hope these tips are helpful! Sign up for our regular blog updates so you can stay tuned for big sibling tips for during the delivery and after you bring your new baby home.
#1 My daughter loved this sweet heart sandwich thanks to Ohhh…..Mhhh. I made it with soy butter & fluff so she could enjoy it at school. A little sweeter than we usually do for lunch…but I figured an occasional treat is OK!
#2 In our family it is never too early to start making Valentines. We display the cards as decorations as my three-year-old daughter completes them until the big day, February 14th. We simply hang them on fishing wire and enjoy watching the string of cards grow daily.
#3 My daughter had a wonderful idea to hang hearts from her door like Santa hung snowflakesfrom her ceiling. So I cut out a bunch of hearts in different shapes and sizes out of felt. I cut two pieces of felt at a time so I had 2 of each heart I made. Then my daughter helped put glue on the side of one heart and we attached it to a 24-inch fishing line. It is important to have the finishing line go from the bottom point of the heart to the middle of the V in the top. My daughter enjoyed helping attach the hearts and it was very easy. I was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful it turned out. We attached the string of hearts to a dowel, that my daughter painted white, by simply tying the fishing line in a knot around it.
#4 My father made this precious heart ”night light” for my daughters. We found this idea on Pinterest thanks to Project Wedding and decided to give it a whirl. I drew dots for where the nail holes should go with permanent marker. We did two hearts, one on each side. We put in 3 battery-operated tea-lights that we had leftover from Halloween and hung it in my girls’ bedroom. They love it, especial because “Gup” helped them make it.
#5 This Valentine’s Day treat was part of The Heart Project this year. We are honored to be included in such a wonderful project! For the last couple years we have made giant Rice Krispie treat hearts as a Valentine’s Day treat for some of my daughter’s closest friends. They have been a BIG hit!
#6 I am very excited to see my daughter’s reaction to the “love notes” she will find in random places (taped to the bathtub, under her pillow, in her lunchbox, on the car window, held by her favorite stuffed animal…) throughout her day on Valentine’s Day. I started this project by cutting out a bunch of hearts from colored oaktag. Then I handed them out to friends and family members to write a special note to her. For individuals who live far way, you could mail them the hearts or simply email or call and transcribe their message onto a heart. I plan on keeping a bunch to put out as the day goes on so that she doesn’t find them all right away. I can’t think of a better way to make my daughter feel as special and loved as she is this Valentine’s Day.
#7 My daughter made a painting by ripping little pieces of masking tape and putting them over a heart shape I had lightly drawn on watercolor paper. Then she tried to fill the entire piece of paper with color. Lastly, she had fun removing the tape once the water-color painting had dried for a couple minutes.
I hope you and your family enjoy these Valentine’s Day activities and crafts as much as we have and will!
At the request of my three-year-old daughter, hearts of all shapes, colors and sizes make their way into our crafts. So my family and Excited 2 Learn were excited about the opportunity to support The Heart Project spearheaded by Jamie of Hands On As We Grow. In order to raise money for The American Heart Association, the project has compiled creative heart-related material provided by 70+ bloggers into a February limited-edition book. The goal is to raise $1,000 by Valentine’s Day so please support this cause by donating $5 to receive the Heart Project ebook or $20 for the print version book.
We were thrilled to submit one of my daughter’s favorite heart projects “Sprinkle Hearts” to help support this special cause. Here’s a step-by-step outline of our fun Valentine’s Day themed activity:
Materials You’ll Need ? contact paper ? magazines ? glue stick or Elmer’s glue ? scissors ? permanent marker
1st Pick a color for your “Sprinkle Heart”
2nd Rip pieces of paper (in chosen color) from magazines. I ripped out big sections of the color and then let my daughter rip it into smaller pieces. Collect the ripped paper in a container.
3rd Peel off the backing of the contact paper (big enough to make the size of heart you would like) and tape the non-sticky side of contact paper to a cookie sheet (I used double-sided tape).
4th Stick the different pieces of the magazine onto the contact paper to make a collage. I had a glue stick on hand for the edges that didn’t stick well over the other pieces of magazine. Cover a large enough area so you can cut a heart shape from it. Flip the contact paper over and draw a heart with a marker.
5th Cut the heart shape out.
6th Add more decoration if your child would like (such as glitter, buttons, pompoms, sequins, or letters).
7th Tape or glue a piece of fishing wire to the heart.
My daughter wrote a note to go with each, which was adorable. This was my favorite: “Callie this is a Sprinkle Heart for you from L. Hang it in your window and when you are missing me or want me all you need to do is go to the window and think about L.” Gotta love her!