Make The Art Projects For Kids A Mess Free Experience!

If it’s one thing that works every time to make my kids happy, is painting!

There’s only one thing that I don’t like about painting with small kids: it’s the cleaning up afterwards.

We don’t really have a special place for our art projects for kids. So when they paint, there is some degree of mess happening.

Make the art projects for kids mess free
Not too long ago, when Elena was 2 and really-REALLY wanted to paint I had this awesome idea – or so I think: To make a portable space, where all our messy art projects for kids could happen and mommy wouldn’t have to clean all the time. That’s when we started to paint inside cardboard boxes.

Make the art projects for kids mess free To make this mess free space for the art projects for kids, you’ll need a stanley knife and a wide cardboard box. The cardboard boxes where vegetables and fruits are stored are perfect for this – we get them from our local supermarket.

Make the art projects for kids mess free

I cut out a piece from the side, put all their painting tools inside and we are ready to roll!

Make the art projects for kids mess free

And you know what’s the best thing? If you choose your boxes wisely, they can be great drying racks for all that great kiddie art!

Make the art projects for kids mess free

Was this idea useful? What are your tricks for doing art projects for kids?

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A Birthday Countdown With A Bang!

Birthday Countdown Craft for KidsIt’s that time of the year again: Birthday time!
I have 3 kids so it only happens 3 times a year, and yet this time it came as a big surprise.

I totally forgot that Elena was turning 3 in a week! Sure, we were preparing a family party, so I didn’t really forget about her birthday. But I completely forgot about our tradition to make a birthday countdown. I was struck by the terrible feeling that I’m a lousy mom.

There I was making a train birthday countdown for Lukas and a fairy birthday countdown for Victoria and now 7 days before my youngest would turn 3 I had nothing. And that felt bad.

I finally thought of it about 30 minutes before they’d all be home from school. So what was I to do? I had to choose between feeling lousy about myself, or taking action. So action it was! I got creative with what I had around the house: balloons, candy and stickers.

So 30 minutes later this birthday countdown and a happy mom was welcoming the almost 3 year old princess home.

Did she like it? She liked it alright, tough she was very confused about the fact that the balloons had to be popped to get to her surprise. That is so not done in her world! Balloons are there to be played with, and if they break, it’s usually a mini tragedy. Luckily this time the balloon explosion came with a shower of candy and stickers and that made up for the pain of the first broken balloon. The next balloons got popped much smoother.

Here’s how I did Elena’s birthday countdown.

I used 7 big balloons and as usual I had some small candy, stickers and a note as “filling”. The size of the balloons and the candy is important, because if the balloons are too small or the candy is too big, there’s no way to put the “filling” inside.

Birthday Countdown Craft for Kids

I put inside each balloon some candy to be shared between the kids, an activity note and a sticker for Elena.  About the activity note, I was less inspired than the previous time, but luckily for me she can’t read, so I can still adapt last minute ;-)

Birthday Countdown Craft for Kids

Then I blew the balloons, wrote numbers on them and hang them on the ceiling using a ribbon and some paper tape. Keeping in mind that my target group consists of little people, I also wrote numbers on the bottom of the balloons. Elena sees her birthday countdown from a different perspective.

Birthday Countdown Craft for Kids

If you’d rather not hang the balloons, you can forget about the ribbon, and you can stick them on the wall or ceiling using a piece of paper tape that you can roll around the finger with the sticky part on the outside.

Birthday Countdown Craft for Kids

Then attach one side of your – homemade – double sided sticky tape on the balloons. That will help you stick the balloon wherever you want it.

That’s it folks! Do you like our latest birthday countdown?
If you want to read more about my play experiences with the kids, join the CreatifulKids mailing list and be the first to know when new articles are available.

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The Best Way To Explain Technology For Kids

How can one explain technology in a way for small kids to understand?

Hello Ruby Paper Laptop Crafts for Kids

Our technology for kids lessons started with the building of this paper laptop (you’l find there the free computer printable template). If you haven’t seen that yet, go on and have a look and then come back here to read more about how I explained all the technical gadgets to my 4 and 6 year old kids.

Hello Ruby Paper Laptop Crafts for Kids
We started our technology for kids session by looking at a laptop and discovering the “pieces” it is made of: A screen, a keyboard and something under the keyboard that is full of holes. So we went deeper to understand what is under the keyboard. I didn’t want to disassemble the laptop to show the kids what’s inside so we worked with pictures. this and this image work well to show that there are many things under the keyboard. We didn’t get into details. The aim was for them to see that there are MANY things inside.

Then I asked them if they’d like to know more about some of these things and how they all work together to make a computer work.

At that point I had them enthusiastic about learning about computers and that was the start of a long discovery play together. We discussed about hardware and software. I used the comparison to a child and a school to explain the operating system. And from there we went on to learn about the Fan that keeps everything cool, the bossy CPU, the helpful RAM, the Hard Disk that remembers everything, the GPU that controls the screen and the ROM to remember the important stuff.

Hello Ruby Paper Laptop Crafts for Kids

We took it of course step by step.
As a start, I wanted them to understand that you need some hardware in place before you can install the software. From there I went into explaining the Operating System. And to make it easier for them to understand, I made an analogy to a child and the school he goes to.

We discussed also that schools can be in different languages. Just like schools have different languages, computers can have different Operating Systems. And just like kids going to school in different languages, computers with different operating systems will have it harder to talk to each other.

At this point I wanted to get on with the assembly of their computers and have them discover the different components and put them in place. Keeping the analogy to the child and the school, our conversation went a bit like this:

Can a baby go to school?” I asked.
NO” They answered fast.
Why not?” I asked again.
Because a baby cannot talk and it cannot walk,” said Victoria, “and it cannot go to the toilet! And you cannot go to school if you have a diaper!” said Lukas.
So a baby is not ready to go to school. It needs to grow. Right?
Yes!
That’s also the case for our computer. Before we can do anything we need to help it grow
How do we do that?” they asked.
Well…how do babies grow?
They eat” said Victoria.
Right, we give them to eat!” I said “Well, we cannot really give a computer to eat, can we?
NOOOOOOoooooo” they said laughing with me.
But we can give them some components, like these ones we have right here“- and I pointed to the components on our printed page.”That’s how computers grow

While the kids were cutting out the components, I googled for the pictures of these different components and we all watched the pictures and discussed about what they do and made our choices about which one is which. And then they glued it all.

Hello Ruby Paper Laptop Crafts for Kids

Mommy, what is this?” Lukas asked pointing to the fan.
It’s a fan, it helps to keep everything cool inside the computer. Because all these components you put in there to help the computer grow, they get warm when they work all together and if they are not cooled down they break” I explained, while I rubbed my hand very fast against his arm to show him how it gets warm.

“So the fan blows some wind on them to help them cool down.” and I blew some wind on him. “You felt how the wind cooled you down?
Yeah
That’s how a fan works“. I paused and then I continued. “And you know what? The fan makes noise. Do you want to try and hear it?
Yeah!
Put your year against my computer and see if you can hear it

Hello Ruby Paper Laptop Crafts for Kids

And so they did, they listened to both sides of the computer and found the place where the noise was coming from and concluded that that’s where the fan must be. They were delighted!

“What about my phone, do you think it also has a fan?” I asked.
Yes” they said together.
Ok, then listen and try to find it.” I told them.

And then they listened and listened. But smartphones and tablets have no fans so they could not hear anything.

I can’t hear anything!” said Lukas.
Then maybe it has no fan.” I said.
But then it will break!” Lukas said with a genuine worry in his voice.

So I explained him that the tablets and phones are less strong and less smart than the computers. So their components don’t work as hard that’s why they don’t get so hot. So they don’t need a fan to cool the down.

Then we continued talking about the computer components they needed to assemble their computer.

To stay in the same kid & school environment, we compared the Hard Disk with a big cupboard where the computer keeps everything. Like a big wardrobe where a kid would keep everything from clothes to toys to … everything.

And we compared the RAM with a smaller cupboard where things like underclothes and favorite toys would be kept so you can get to them faster and you would not have to search through the whole wardrobe full of pullovers and jackets and toys … and you name it! So the RAM helps the computer find faster the things that you’re using more often. That was the analogy I used, but here’s another great analogy for you.

Then I explained that the CPU (central processing unit) is like the brain. It is the boss and likes to tell everyone what to do, and he is very good at it. Because without it the computer would get confused.

How would you function if your brain would not tell your hand to bring the food to your mouth? Maybe it would get into your nose.” I said.
Ha ha ha” the kids were having a good time. And I knew that they were learning because that’s the best way to learn, when you enjoy yourself.

With the GPU (graphic processing unit), I was short. I just told them that it helps the computer to show us nice movies, pictures and even the games they play on the tablet.

The ROM  was a bit of a hard nut to crack, so while they were busy cutting I told them I need to look online for more information and once I understand I’ll explain it to them. In the end I compared the ROM to a small Hard Drive cupboard with the only difference that the things that are in the ROM cupboard cannot be taken out and changed. You can only look at them. For example as a kid grows, you might take away the small clothes from the Hard Drive cupboard and replace them with bigger clothes. But no matter how much a child grows, his or her name or date of birth will stay the same. So the computer keeps all this information that is not changing in a special cupboard called ROM. So that it can remember it forever.

We discussed about all these while they were cutting and gluing the components for their laptop. And when all the components were in place we concluded that their laptop was not a baby any more and was ready to go to school and start learning.

The computer schools are called Operating Systems. And the funny thing is that the computer doesn’t go to school. It’s the school that comes to the computer. That is why we need to install an operating system on our computer” I explained.
And how do we do that?” Victoria asked.
Well …. we’ll just put a sticker on the computer that shows at what school it went

Then we looked at the stickers on my computer and checked the back of our iPad and saw that these devices went to different schools.

So I asked the kids: “Do you think the tablet can speak to my computer?
No … they have been to different schools so they don’t speak the same language Victoria said.
Probably one speaks Romanian and the other one Dutch” Lukas added
I think you are right” I answered.
“Now you have to decide to which school you want your computer to go to, so which operating system to install
I want to go to the same school as mommy’s computer” said Victoria.
Me too,” Lukas added, “I want that my computer can speak with your computer.

So they both glued the windows operating system on the keyboard and they continued the assembly of their paper computer.

Hello Ruby Paper Laptop Crafts for Kids

After all, if you think about it a bit, technology for kids is not that hard to explain. Or is it?

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A fun crafts activity to explain computers to tots

Mommy, the computer is out of INTERNET, we need to CHARGE it! my son replied when I asked him why he was fiddling with the plug and the power cord.

My 4 year old boy had a point. The computer was out of battery. So while helping him with the plug, I thought in loud voice: “Ah … the battery is empty. The internet is fine” and I wanted to return to whatever I was doing at the moment. But then a little voice asked “Mommy, what is internet?” And I froze.

How do you explain a 4 year old what the Internet is? 

And how do you explain how a computer – or a tablet or smartphone – works?
That’s how I started looking for ways to explain technology to my little ones. So I was very happy when I saw the invitation to test one of the games from the Hello Ruby book where the kids could make their own computer and learn how it works. That was exactly what I was looking for!

Hello Ruby Paper Computer Crafts for Kids

So I got hold of it and we started to play and learn about technology !
The goal was to assemble a computer, install an operating system, select the software and design a webpage, application or game. In the meantime we all learned about the hard and soft components needed to build a computer.

It was one of the best and meaningful crafts session we had in a long time!

Hello Ruby Paper Laptop Crafts for Kids

Do you want to know what we did and maybe do the same paper computer with your kid(s)? 

Then this is what you’ll need to make your own Hello Ruby laptop:
- print the PDF with the computer and accessories
- print the play instructions (it will help you run the session)
- some pieces of cardboard (about the size of an A5)
- glue and transparent tape
- colored pencils
- and a real computer (so you can go online and ask the mighty Internet all the questions you don’t know the answer to yourself)

Later on we also used:
- some empty pieces of paper (because my kids wanted to create more computer stuff)
- 2 paper clips and a piece of thread (for our mouse) - although you can do without these if you decide to make a “wireless one” :-)

So armed with the materials and having a curious 6 year old and an eager 4 year old by my side, we got started.

STAGE 1: Preparation

Lukas decided to first cut everything out before starting, while Victoria wanted to just cut out the pieces when she needed them. Each kid has it’s way of doing things. That’s cool.

As support for our paper computers we used cardboard. I took pieces form a cardboard box so they would have a fold in the middle of each piece, this way our creations look even more like laptops.

Hello Ruby Paper Laptop Crafts for Kids

While the kids were cutting and gluing, we discussed about what each component is and what it is used for. We went online to see how the components look and we made parallels to the things they are familiar with. And in the end, I think we more or less understood everything. It was as much a lesson for them as it was for me. If you want to read more details on the explanation I gave about each component – and the associations I made for their little minds to better understand each point – have a look over here.

STAGE 2: Assembly

After the discovery phase, we started to assemble the paper computer.

Hello Ruby Paper Laptop Crafts for Kids

We used glue for most parts except the website and the keyboard. For those we used transparent tape because the kids decided they want to be able to access the inside of the computer and its files.

Hello Ruby Paper Laptop Crafts for Kids

This way if a component would get broken or a file would get corrupt they could reach it and fix it. Good thinking – right?

Hello Ruby Paper Laptop Crafts for Kids

They of course added a camera and a start button also using the stickers, and the computer files and operating system so that it could start functioning.

STAGE 3: Development

After examining his laptop, Lukas pointed out that it needs a battery - because he now knows that battery and internet are 2 vital parts needed in order to watch his favorite YouTube cartoons ;-) But he was not in the mood to make one. He just wanted to make a point that it’s missing from his paper computer.

Victoria decided that she wanted to have access to more webpages. That’s because she wanted to be able to look at movies, at pictures and to read. So she started designing them.

Hello Ruby Paper Laptop Crafts for Kids

And then she told me that she’d like to have a mouse. So after a bit of discussion about how it should look, I helped her design one. Here’s my work of art !

Hello Ruby Paper Laptop Crafts for Kids

I was so proud of my idea to connect the cord using paper clips! I thought it’s super cool … That’s until Lukas asked me: “Why did you make that?” – pointing to the cable of the mouse – “Granma’s mouse has no cable“. Ah … a wireless mouse. I forgot about that!

Well, some of them are smarter than others,” I said, “you can use it with or without the cable, you choose.” And that seemed to be a good enough explanation for him. Luckily for me because I had no clue how to approach the wireless technology with my 4 year old. So I was happy to leave this for another time :-)

STAGE 4: Testing

Once everything was properly made – the components in their place, the proper files and operating system installed – the testing could start. How did it go?  …. I’ll let you judge from the pictures :-)

Hello Ruby Paper Laptop Crafts for Kids

Notice the comfortable keyboard and the fast browsing speed?
Hello Ruby Paper Laptop Crafts for Kids

In conclusion, I’m now happy to present you the coolest, sleekest newest gadget in the house: The revolutionary HelloRuby laptop! 

Hello Ruby Paper Laptop Crafts for Kids

What’s next?

This is a prototype, and I invite you to test it also. If you do, keep a note of the questions the kids ask, what interests them and what are the speed bumps. We’d love to see pictures of the finished computers! You can submit your pictures and notes here.

If you want to read more about my play experiences with the kids, join the CreatifulKids mailing list and be the first to know when new articles are available.

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My Favorite Group Activities for Small Kids – Ages 2-6 Years

Do you also find it challenging to find group activities for kids of different ages?

I do, specially when the weather is crap and we are stuck inside. Many times I wish for some great play ideas that would let my 6, 4 and 2 years old kids play together without getting in each others’ way (too much).

Group Activities for Kids of Different Ages to Keep them from Bouncing off the Walls So I decided to start building a list of group activities for kids that I can come back to in time of need. And if you have kids of different ages in the house, this list might be useful for you too so read closely.

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Active group activities for kids to unleash the energy

On rainy days , the kids can’t go outside to play but they still need to unleash their energy. So here are some ideas to do just that!

Group Activities for Kids of Different Ages to Keep them from Bouncing off the Walls

      • Make an indoor slide from a mattress and let the kids take turns in going down the slide. If you want it a bit more adventurous, you can try this cardboard slide on the stairs.
      • Build a cardboard race track for cars from the table to the floor and have some time to relax and enjoy. It’s not going to be a quiet time, but it’s going to be a hands-off one ;-)
      • Build a pool noodle marble race on the stairs, or in the living room. I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks like lots of fun and easy to make. So I definetly will thanks to m myhomespunthreads and buggyandbuddy for coming up with thee ideas!
      • Stick some paper tape on the floor in the shape of roads and invite the kids to take the cars out for a ride. For the older ones – more or less as of 4 years- they can  blow small balls of paper through a straw and try to keep them on the road. Lukas had lots of fun with this one and was very determined to improve his “accuracy blowing” ;-)
      • Play balloon ping pong using as rackets paper plates combined with wooden sticks  or plastic spoons.
      • Challenge the kids to exercise their lungs and play with straws and napkins. The goal is carry pieces of paper from one place to the other by using a straw and the suction power of their lungs

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Arts and Crafts 

The arts & crafts group activities for kids are certainly my favorite. That’s because everyone can take part in the creation and the age is not that important. Everybody has fun and they will play with the same things in their own way.

Group Activities for Kids of Different Ages to Keep them from Bouncing off the Walls

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Sensory stimulation 

I find it wonderful to see my kids’s eyes sparkle when they discover and learn something new. There are loads of activities that fit here, but I limited myself to a couple of ideas that are easy to do.

Group Activities for Kids of Different Ages to Keep them from Bouncing off the Walls

      • Play with snow inside the house. Last winter I took a box of snow inside and added some toys. Later on I added also some paint and left the kids to experiment and play. They really had fun with this!
      • Prepare a bath with colored water. If you add some shaving cream to the mix, you’ll surely give them the coolest and nicest bath experience they ever had!
      • Play with colored spaghetti. It’s true that this one requires some. preparation, but my kids had so much fun with it that it’s now a regular activity in our house.
      • Make something. Play-dough is of course always good to entertain the little ones, but it’s a bit messy. Alternatively if you want something that involves less mess, you can play with corn starch noodles.

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Experimentation and investigation

Kids are natural scientist and love to experiment and investigate and that’s how they learn about the world around them. Whenever I say let’s try something out, you can be sure that I have their attention.

Group Activities for Kids of Different Ages to Keep them from Bouncing off the Walls

      • Learn about fire. My kids are playing with fire sometimes and I think that’s a very good way for them to experience this element and learn to be safe around it.
      • Involve them in a fun rescue mission to save their toys that have been trapped in ice and investigate how the ice is melting when they use the “mysterious powder”. Did you see how much fun we had with this kids activity?
      • Do some science experiments for kids at home. These are my 2 favorite ones, because they are so easy to setup and they put on a good show for the kids:

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Give them grown-up tasks

When I really need to get something done myself and I find that the kids are a bit too demanding, I try to involve them in whatever I’m doing. It does not always work, but it does most of the time. So if they are not tired or hungry then these are the things they are helping with.

Group Activities for Kids of Different Ages to Keep them from Bouncing off the Walls

      • Cooking with the kids. I would typically have my kids cut some (soft) vegetables and stir in the pots of pasta, soup or whatever I am making. They love it. At grandma’s place, they would often make pancakes together. If you haven’t done this yet and you’re not entirely comfortable with the idea of having your kids in the kitchen, check out this advice from PBS Parents and go for it!
      • Take them shopping…. and make it fun. Shopping with kids can be very stressful, but we try to be well prepared and then it can be super fun!
      • Asking them to help you clean the house and give them chores. Kids usually like to unpack suitcases, get the grocery out of the car, get clothes out or into the washing machine or drier and yes … they might even enjoy to vacuum clean and do some sort of window washing.

Now, no matter what activity you do, if you do it with kids of different ages, then read these 7 activity tips for toddler and big kids from “HandsOnAsWeGrow.com”. She gives some excellent advice there on how to organize yourself to avoid chaos ;-)

Phew….that was a long read, but I hope you did find some inspiration along the way.

PS: If you have fun group activities for kids of different ages, let me know in the comments below. And do subscribe to the CreatifulKids mailing list if you want to read more of this.

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This is why my kids are playing with fire

That’s right, in our family to have my kids playing with fire is very common. And both me and my husband are very fine with that!

kids playing with fire- Should children play with fire? I hear you thinking “here she goes again, she’s totally nuts!” But for those who have read more stuff on this blog, it won’t be a surprise that I like to question conventional parenting truths and do stuff a little different. I recall some of my closest friends frowning while reading my article on telling the truth about St-Nicolas to my kids. But hey, give me a chance to explain before you judge me too harsh :-)

I bet you have heard before that kids should not play with fire. I know that I heard that a lot. And rightly so, as the National Fire Protection Association reports that kids playing with fire cause about 10.000 fires a year. So we conclude from here that kids need to be told that playing with fire is dangerous.

But that is exactly why I believe it is important for me as a parent to do some fire play activities with the kids. This way I can teach them the basics of how to deal with fire rather than letting them discover this element by themselves and get into trouble.

“A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.”-Mark Twain

My point is that kids play with fire out of curiosity. As a parents we can tell our kids not to play with fire, we can even explain them why. But I believe you can’t take away their curiosity. So chances are high that one day they will experiment with fire anyway. Just that they will do it in secret and unsupervised. And with a bit of bad luck you’ll make it into the fire accidents statistics. Of course it’s up to you to decide how you want your kid(s) to learn about fire. I decided to tackle their curiosity!

Kids playing with fire

By playing with fire in a controlled environment, I let my kids experience fire in a relative safe way. That’s why kids playing with fire is perfectly OK in our house, as long as I am with them! For my kids playing with fire means often that they get to play with candles. This requires some preparation but they have lots of fun with it.

As a preparation I put some sort of a cover on the living room table to protect it from wax. I use a big piece of wood or sturdy plastic. As well, I make sure to a plate close-by to put the used matches and a bowl of water …. just in case. Then I get out the candles and matches and make the room semi-dark so the fire play can start.

How are my kids playing with fie? I let them experiment in various ways to really get accustomed with candles and fire:

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Lighting matches: One by one, I let each of our kids try to light a match. It’s a little hard at first, but with some guidance they quickly learn how to do it. And for the kids it is super exciting to do this. Be prepared for some great looks of amazement and excitement on their faces.

Kids playing with fire

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Blowing out the matches: Once they know how to light a match, it is important to teach them how to put it out and not to panic. I let them feel how their fingers get hot when the match burns too far so they know that they need to stop it before it gets close to the fingers.

Kids playing with fire

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How to hold a burning match: I show them that if you hold the fire lower than your hand, the match will burn very fast and it might burn your fingers. So I practice with them to hold the match with the fire up and keep their hand down, under the fire.

Kids playing with fire

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Lighting the candles: Once they got it how they need to hold the match, I light some candles and then I invite them to do the same. This way they practice some more of the “how to hold a burning match” technique.

Kids playing with fire

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Blowing the candles: Of course that once the candles are lit, they beg to be put out! So blowing the candles, and then lighting them again is one of the things my kids like the most when they play with fire.

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Feeling the heat: I let them put their hand at different distances of the candle to feel how it gets hotter the closer they get. This way they get to realize the danger of the fire and that they should not get too close.

Kids playing with fire

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Color show: I discover together with them that fire can have different colors. from blue, to red and yellow.

Kids playing with fire

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Feeling the hot/warm wax: Once we blow all the candles and there is no more fire, I turn on the light and let them experiment a bit with putting some liquid wax on their fingers. They put their fingers in the transparent wax and then they watch it get solid and change colors on their hands. Then we examine the little wax molds they did ….. and then, they want to start over again :-)

Kids playing with fire

Be warned, accidents can happen very fast. So as an adult you do need to stay around and be alert. 

During our play it sometimes happens that one of the kids panics and drops a burning match on the table. As long as you have a protective board, some water and you stay alert, there is no problem. I also do this always with 2 adults, so if there is any accident, one adult can deal with the mess, while the other can continue to supervise the rest of the kids playing with fire.  I believe that as long as you do this in a controlled way, big accidents are very unlikely to happen and these small accidents actually help the kids learn how to deal with fire.

Recent studies confirm that allowing kids to do risky play to some extend helps them in their development. It actually also helps them to better judge and manage risks in real life situations.

So what do you think now about kids playing with fire?
If you want to read more of this, subscribe to the CreatifulKids mailing list.

kids playing with fire- Should children play with fire?

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Print this game next time you travel with kids!

Will you travel with kids any time soon? If so, print this little game and take it with you on your next plane trip. It will be fun. I promise.

Travel with kids - airport game

I don’t know about you but for us, when we travel with kids things can get intense. There is always someone wanting something and having a different opinion or running in the wrong direction. Its like going to the supermarket with my 3 energetic kids. That’s why, when we travel with kids we use similar tricks as when shopping with kids.

What about tablets, smart phones or other tech devices? In my experience those are great but are only part of the entertainment we take along when we travel with kids. Think about it. You cannot use tablets when rushing through the airport or while the plane is taking off or landing. That’s why when we travel with kids we always have some non-tech entertainment with us.

For our latest travel with kids we prepared a new game: an airport treasure hunt.

It follows the classical treasure hunt format where they have to follow the path and they can advance by finding the different objects.

Travel with kids - airport game

I printed one version of the game for each of the kids and gave it to them when we arrived at the airport. In fact, using the same drawing, you can play the game in several ways:

  • The beginners level: Have your kids spot the objects without any obligation to follow the path. As soon as they have found all the objects, the game is over.
  • The intermediate level: They again have to spot the objects on the path, but this time they are obliged to follow the order, like in a treasure hunt. If the first object is a piece of luggage, then that’s what they have to find first. Even if they spot a taxi as shown further down the road, it doesn’t count if they haven’t found all the objects which come before the taxi on the path.

Travel with kids - airport game

You can have your kids compete, but when I travel with kids I personally prefer to have them play together and win as a team.

You can of course design your own path full of objects, but you can also subscribe to the CreatifulKids mailing list and download this game for free.

Once subscribed, you’ll receive the download link in your email and you’ll be the first to know when free printables and new posts are available.

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How to manage children lying? Positive parenting tips.

How do you deal with children lying?

I’ve asked the question a while back on the creatifulkids facebook page and I learned that many people face the same challenge. So along with the positive parenting tips I’ve shared so far, I decided to also write down the approach I took when my 6 year old lied to me about some money she took.

I’m not going to write here about the small little innocent lies which often originate from the imagination and fantasy of toddler kids. Instead, I’m touching the serious topic of children lying and give – what I believe is – an example of positive parenting approach for managing these situations.

How to manage children lying - practical positive parenting tips

That day I went swimming with the kids. As usual, when going out of the swimming pool, I took the clothes from the locker, and put the coin I used back in my wallet. I didn’t think much of it when I saw Victoria (6 years old) fiddling with my wallet. I was busy dressing her siblings and I just reminded her to leave my wallet be and not to take money out. She said “OK”  and that was that.

However while getting out of the building, Victoria was stalling and when she caught up with us she was holding a small new toy in her hand.  It was the kind of toy you get from those machines where you insert a coin and get a random object in return.

Right that moment I suspected what happened, but I was not sure. So our next conversation went kind of like this:

Me: “Victoria, where did you get this toy from?”
Victoria: “From the machine over there.”
Me: “But you need to put money there to get a toy. Did you put money?”
Victoria: “Yes.”

From the look on her face, I knew my suspicions were true and I started to get upset. So I said: “I told you not to take money from my wallet! Did you take a coin from my wallet?”
I could see the expression on her face changing and the joy of her new toy fading away. Yet she still answered me: “No, I didn’t.”
Me: ” Are you sure?”
Victoria: “Yes.”
Me: “I don’t believe what you say. I think you took the coin from my wallet even when I told you not to and you bought yourself a toy with that!”

She was silent.  And I also didn’t know what to say or how to act next.

The only thing I knew was that I did not want to get physical because I wanted her to UNDERSTAND that what she did is wrong rather than FEAR my reaction. So I decided to buy myself some time: “We’ll continue to talk about this later. Now let’s get to the car!” I said in a firm voice.

Once everyone was in the car I started to reflect about what just happened and how I can deal with my children lying.

  • As a first, I wanted to give her the opportunity to come out and admit her mistake. Although, away from the heat of the moment, I realize now that I didn’t do a too good job here. Without wanting it, I went very fast into blaming and kind of set her up for failure with words like “I told you…” and “Did you…?”.  So indeed, she did not recognize her mistake and dug her whole even deeper. (I’ll write more about this later – now let’s get back to the story)
  • As a second I told her that I didn’t believe her. I deliberately avoid using strong language as “You are lying!” or “That is not true!” as I find it important to recognize the possibility that I am wrong.
  • As a third, I decided not to react immediately, but take a step back and make a break. I think this is very important for several reasons:
    1. It avoids too much negative emotions. I could have shouted, screamed or cried and this would have made it clear for her that she did something wrong. But I don’t think it would teach her much about WHY it is wrong what she did. She would likely start crying and as such not be much of a listener anymore, because her and my emotions would get in the way.
    2. Buying myself some time also allowed me to think my approach through. I believe in positive parenting and I do believe that you can use occasions as this one to help your child develop and strengthen the bond you’re having.

After keeping silent for 5-10 minutes till I figured out my approach, I started talking to her again.

Me: “Victoria, I am very disappointed by what you did and it makes me upset. I believe that you lied to me about taking the coin from my wallet. If you are lying to me, that means that I can not trust you and I don’t like that.”

I paused a bit and looked at her. She was silent but I could see she was listening. At this point it was me doing all the talking and Victoria doing the listening. I kept my voice down and stayed calm so she would not start crying but pay attention instead. So I continued.

Me: “I find it very important in our family that we are honest with each other and we don’t lie. I would like to raise beautiful and good kids that I can trust. But if you lie and steel, and you think it’s ok, you will become a bad person and I don’t want to have bad persons as part of my family.”

I could see on her face that she was getting worried and was concerned with what I was telling her.

And still I continued: “I am disappointed with you because I thought that you knew that it is not good to do these things … But maybe you did not realize just how bad the things you just did are. Maybe you did not realize that by lying and stealing you can become a bad person and a thief.  Do you want to become a thief?”

Victoria: “No…

Me: “I will try not be upset with you this time, because you maybe didn’t realize that you were doing something so wrong. But it is very important to me that you understand now that you did something very bad and that you should never do that again. Because if you will lie again to me, then it means that I can not trust you anymore. OK?”

“OK” she said in a soft voice

Me: “OK, I am not upset with you any more because I know now that you understand it was bad what you did and I trust that you will not do it again. But I want you to tell to daddy this evening what you did.”

She started crying and we had some more discussion about why it is important for daddy to know (because we are a family and have no secrets towards each other), and why it was important for her to tell (because she needed to take responsibility for what she did) – but she kept on crying.

Me:“Would it help you if we tell it together to daddy?”

“Yes” she said and stopped crying and I stopped the car and we hugged and felt closer than ever.

That’s pretty much where I left it and I did not act upset anymore with her after this. This actual made her very kind and hugging the rest of the day. However I did make sure she got to talk to daddy that evening. This was hard for her, but I helped her with parts of the story, and made sure she felt I was on her side while she was telling daddy.

I find it important to explain my kid the impact of what their actions are on our relation because I believe this one of the most powerful ways to bring such messages across.

I also try to treat my kids with respect, so I will try as much as possible to explain my point of view. To explain why I believe it is wrong what they did and why they should not do so again in the future. I don’t want them to behave out of fear of my reaction, but rather for them to truly understand the impact of what they are doing.

For the same reasons I had this open conversation with Victoria in front of her brother and sister, because I believe this is a life lesson they can learn from as well. I made sure they understand that this is an important discussion and that they cannot interrupt. Instead they should understand why their sister did something wrong, and they should pay attention so that they know in the future not to do the same mistake. While teaching  a lesson in front of an audience, it is important tough to do this in a respectful way and not to bully one kid in front of the others.

I don’t always manage to parent as good as I’d like to, but the times I manage, I’m very proud of myself :-). Now time will tell if this approach I took will pay off.

How do you react when you see children lying?

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How to manage children lying - positive parenting tips

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Ice Summer Activity for Kids – Easy and Fun!

For a  while now, I’ve been looking for easy to make summer activities for kids that don’t require too much space and can be done in a small balcony, small courtyard, or even inside.

So today I’d like to share with you one of our favorite summer activities for kids: playing with ice.

Summer Activities for Kids
It’s not the first time we play with ice, but this time I added a bit of drama to make it more fun for the kids. Did you notice how everything is better and more fun when you add drama? I sure did and I am using this tactic often with the kids.

So this ice play all started as a rescue mission to save Elena’s toys which were trapped in ice by the evil snow witch. Because the evil witch found them on the floor – as they were not put back in the cupboard – and she froze them. ALL OF THEM!

So if they wanted them back, they’d have to do their best to set them free.

To get them into the game I started with a loud “OOOhhhh”. So they turned to me and asked ” What is it mommy?” ….. “Something has happened, and I need to tell you about it.” I replied, and the game was on!

Summer Activities for Kids
They were immediately taken by the story and they all wanted to help rescue the toys! So while they were getting themselves comfortable at the table waiting for me, I went to the kitchen to prepare the activity.

I came back with plastic glasses that contained the magical melting powder, water spraying bottles and a big container that had the tower of frozen toys. The kids had to put some magic powder on the ice and spray with water over it. And they got really excited about this!

Summer Activities for Kids

Somewhere in the middle of the game Victoria turned to me and whispered in my year … “Mommy, I know it’s not the snow witch who did this, it was YOU who put the toys in water and then in the freezer”. But that was to stay our secret.

It’s nice to see their little minds working. She didn’t question the magical powder though, and I didn’t tell her. I figured that I can leave that for her to discover another day when we’re doing other summer activities for kids.

So how did we do it ?

  • I used the bottom part of a plastic bottle as recipient for freezing the toys. The nice thing with using a plastic bottle is that you can cut it to fit whatever space you have in the freezer.
  • I filled it 1/3 with water, added some of the toys and let it freeze. Once frozen, I added some more water and toys and let it freeze again. I did it like this to avoid the toys from floating and concentrating only on one part of the ice tower. I wanted them all over :-)
  • The magical powder was a combination of salt and sparkling powder. The salt is all you need, so you can leave the sparkling powder out but I just wanted to make it more magical :-)
  • Water for the kids. I used spraying bottles, but you can basically use any pot you have in the house. Once the glasses with the magical melting powder were empty we used them to simply pour the salty water over the ice.
  • A container/tray so you don’t make a too big mess. I used a shallow plastic box so all 3 kids could work together.

Although this is a perfect idea for hot summer activities for kids, we played with this indoors as at the time the weather was not that great. But that did not alter the fun at all! That’s why this activity is on the list of fun summer activities for kids that we tested and approved!

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If you want to see another nice ice activity for kids, have a look at this tower ice excavation from FunAtHomeWithKids.
Summer Activities for Kids

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Make a Fairy Birthday Countdown for Kids

Birthdays … for most kids this is THE DAY, the highlight of the year. In our house the birthday countdown is a big deal and we started a tradition to make a themed birthday countdown for the kids.

Make a Fairy Birthday Countdown for Kids

10 days before THE day, a birthday countdown made of 10 fairies “magically” appeared on the wall of our living room, and that made quite an impression on my birthday girl.  Have a look at Victoria’s reaction when she first saw her fairy birthday countdown.

 I had the pleasure to write about how I made Victoria’s birthday countdown on  a favorite blog of mine, KidsActivitiesBlog.com. So hop over there to read the rest of the story and download the free printables so that you can also make your own fairy countdown!

And one last thing, if you liked these birthday countdown fairies, have a look also at how I used the  black and white version of the fairies in one of our favorite activities for toddlers. And while you’re there, you can also download some more free printables ;-)

Make a Fairy Birthday Countdown for Kids

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