DIY Cardboard Rocket Ship Birthday Countdown

“A cardboard rocket ship”, that’s what my husband proposed when we were brainstorming on what birthday countdown to do for Lukas’ 5th birthday.

He likes rockets, he keeps on drawing them over and over again. So my husband’s idea was a sure bet. But how to make one?

Cardboard Rocket Ship Birthday Countdown
This is what I used for this cardboard rocket ship birthday countdown:

  • a big piece of cardboard for the body ( you can also glue smaller pieces together )
  • 2 smaller pieces of cardboard for he legs
  • 7 paper cups for the windows
  • transparent tape
  • paint, brushes and scissors/utility knife
  • candy in small bags

Cardboard Rocket Ship Birthday Countdown After cutting and gluing the cardboard pieces for our cardboard rocket ship, we started the painting.  And we painted … and painted …. and painted … Spreading paint on big surfaces is so much fun! :-)

Cardboard Rocket Ship Birthday Countdown
Victoria was very excited to help preparing this surprise for her younger brother.

She was in charge of painting the paper cups, selecting the candy, putting it in a small transparent bags and taping it inside the paper cups. This way when Lukas would remove a window of the rocket he’d find inside the hidden candy.

Cardboard Rocket Ship Birthday Countdown Once all the candy was hidden in the cups, we taped the cups to the body of the rocket and the only thing left was to attach the legs of the cardboard rocket ship.

Cardboard Rocket Ship Birthday Countdown

Using a utility knife (or scissors) I made two cuts in the body to slide the legs in, and that was it. Lukas’ rocket was standing, ready for take-off!

Cardboard Rocket Ship Birthday Countdown

Here are some more ideas for themed birthday countdowns for kids:

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Snow Maze: Free Printables For Kids

Snow Maze: Free Printables For Kids
Print this maze and help the little girl find the lost items  that she needs to make her snowman!

This is an excellent trace game for small kids – although my 5 and 6 year olds were also very keen to complete this challenge :-)

If you liked this, then check out also these other free printables for kids.

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3D Turkey Craft For Kids

I wanted to make an easy turkey craft for kids. Something that looks good and is easy enough to do even for 2 and 3 year olds. Let me know if you like it.

This is the result: a 3D turkey made of cardboard.

Travel with kids - airport game

To make this turkey craft for kids you need:

-a printer to print the free turkey template (see below)
-some coloring tools
-some thin cardboard (cereal and cookies cardboard boxes are perfect for this)
scissors or utility knife

Once you have all the above you can get to work:

Print the template and color it
Glue it on a piece of cardboard
Cut out the turkey’s body and tale and
-Assemble it

You can of course design your own 3D turkey, but you can also subscribe to the CreatifulKids mailing list and download it for free.

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

Thank you melsbrushes for the feathers I used for this turkey craft!
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Egg Carton Jingle Bells – DIY Christmas Decorations

If you’re looking for easy to make Christmas decorations, then these egg carton jingle bells might be just the thing for you!

Christmas Decorations - Egg Carton Jingle Bells This is something we did last year for Christmas, but I did’t have the time to write about it because … life got in the way. But this is such a fun and easy crafts for kids, that I thought it’s worth sharing.

Have a look at the jingle bells we did out of egg carton boxes!

Christmas Decorations - Egg Carton Jingle Bells These are the materials you need to make these Christmas decorations:

Christmas Decorations - Egg Carton Jingle Bells

Make your own Christmas decorations in 4 easy steps:

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Cut a bell looking shape out the egg carton box. If there’s not yet a whole on top of the spike, make one as you will need it later on to attach the bell.

Christmas Decorations - Egg Carton Jingle Bells

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Paint the egg carton bells and let them dry. A word of caution, be prepared for some mess at this phase. If your kids are anything like mine they will end up with paint on their hands and clothes. So either you live with it, or you can use  some protective equipment for the messy artists. You can also use this little trick of ours to avoid a big mess on the table.

Christmas Decorations - Egg Carton Jingle Bells

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Cut the pipe cleaners in pieces – slightly longer than the height of the egg carton bells . Then attach the bells to one end of the cut pipe cleaner and slide the other end into the egg carton bells. If the pieces of pipe cleaner are too short, the kids won’t be able to slide it through the whole and catch it on the other side.

Christmas Decorations - Egg Carton Jingle Bells

That’s it! Your Christmas decorations are ready … unless you want to decorate them like we did below.

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As a last step, you can decorate the Christmas jingle bells with some glitter. I used two shallow containers: one filled with transparent glue, and the other one with red glitter. My kids (age 4 and 5) took turns in dipping the bells first in the glue and then in the glitter. They loved playing with glue and glitter and since they were taking turns, I loved it too as there was almost no mess :-)

Christmas Decorations - Egg Carton Jingle Bells

So here are our glittery Christmas decorations. 

We couldn’t hang them in the tree, as we had a felt Christmas tree, but we used them as Christmas decorations in the house – hanging on a piece of red ribbon in front of the window – and they looked very nice.

Christmas Decorations - Egg Carton Jingle Bells

If you have some time to spare, some creative kids to grow and some egg carton boxes, then try out these easy to make Christmas decorations!

And another tip: If you’d rather make Christmas lights, then instead of the pipe cleaners and bells, add some Christmas lights. Just like RedTedArt did it here!

For more creative ideas, join the CreatifulKids mailing list.

Christmas Decorations - Egg Carton Jingle Bells

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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 bad 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?
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kids playing with fire- Should children play with fire?

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