Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Art Projects for Kids on the Frugal Family Link Up


It's time for another edition of the Frugal Family link up! This week I'm featuring some wonderful art projects for kids. These are really cute ideas and recycle many things you have around the house! 

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Monday, April 27, 2015

Fun Farm Activity for Preschoolers Inspired by Mrs. Wishy Washy's Farm

Fun farm themed activity for preschoolers based on the storybook Mrs. Wishy Washy's Farm.

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Welcome to this month's Poppins Book Nook - a monthly themed virtual book club for kids! This month's theme is Farms, and it was hard deciding which farm book to feature because there are so many wonderful choices. We decided on Mrs. Wishy-Washy's Farm, and came up with a fun filled activity that preschoolers will love!

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Apple Squash Bread: Storybook Inspired Snack

Apple Squash Bread! Healthy breakfast or snack that kids will love (and they won't know they're eating vegetables!)

I love having a garden. For the past few years we've gotten a wonderful bounty of squash, zucchini, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes from our own backyard. And now that I have kids, I love getting them involved in the garden - they are my best helpers! It's so important for them to learn how food grows and where it comes from. One of our favorite storybooks is all about gardening, so we decided to make a delicious snack using vegetables from our garden that was inspired by the book!

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Frugal Family Link Up: April 23

DIY home decor ideas featured on this week's Frugal Family link party! Get low cost and money saving ideas from bloggers around the world.

Welcome to the Frugal Family link party! I love hosting this link up every week because it gives me a chance to browse some amazing inexpensive (or free!) ideas from bloggers all over the world. I'm on a Spring redecorating kick right now, so I've chosen three awesome posts that showcase DIY Home Decor. 

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Fuzzy Monster Activity for Preschoolers

Fuzzy Monster Collage Craft using shredded paper. Fun, sensory craft project for toddlers and preschoolers.

My boys are big monster fans these days. We recently watched Monsters, Inc. for the first time and now it's all about monsters in our house! So, when we took on shredded paper as part of the 60 Day Junk Play Challenge, I thought it would be a great opportunity to do a furry monster craft. We had a lot of fun with this and I love how it turned out.

This post contains affiliate links. Read my Disclosure Policy for more information.

To make your Fuzzy Monster Collage, you'll need:

First, cut a monster shape out of your poster board using the knife or scissors.  Save the monster shape that you cut out and let your kids color or paint him for a second craft!


Line the back of your poster board with clear contact paper so that the center monster shape is sticky. Use painter's tape to hang your monster on the wall (we use our sliding glass door).


Set out bowls of shredded paper, pom poms, and googly eyes. 


Invite your children to create a monster by sticking the paper, eyes, and pom poms onto the sticky monster shape. 


My boys loved digging into the shredded paper - it is a wonderful sensory material for crafting. It can get a bit messy, but it is easy to sweep away (and causes no permanent damage).


They loved sticking all the pieces onto the monster shape and making their own furry monster. They found that tossing the paper was the most fun way to make the "fur."


Our monster turned out so cute, he is still hanging on our door! This was a really great activity for my monster loving boys, and I love that we were able to use a material that would normally be recycled away.

We did this activity as part of the 60 Day Junk Play Challenge hosted by Best Toys 4 Toddlers. Be sure to check out all the other great Junk Play ideas from bloggers all over the world here.

Love monsters? Try our Mix & Match Monster Cards too!



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Monday, April 20, 2015

Make a Rainy Day Activity Kit

Make a rainy day activity kit filled with creative and inexpensive play prompts for kids.


As a mom to twin toddlers (almost preschoolers!), sometimes I feel like a modern day Mary Poppins pulling out all my tricks to keep my kids entertained. I’ve found that simply getting outside and playing in the fresh air is usually all we need, but sometimes that just isn’t possible because of weather or someone not feeling well. That’s when I’m happy that I keep a bin tucked away filled with fun prompts for inside activities.

I stash our Rainy Day Activity Kit in our hall closet just waiting for those times when we are stuck inside and going stir crazy. Everything inside is inexpensive, easy to find, and guaranteed to keep little ones entertained. I’ll let you peek inside my box of tricks so you can fill your own for the next rainy day.

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Ready, Set, Draw!

I always keep a supply of inexpensive craft items in the bucket. It’s amazing how exciting a few new crayons, a coloring book, and stickers can be! Don’t limit your creativity to coloring books though. Throw the Sunday comics or a few catalogs inside for a fresh new canvas your kids will love.

Right now we have a copy of the Little Children's Rainy Day Activity Book in our Rainy Day kit.  It's filled with stickers, puzzles, drawing, coloring, and learning activities perfect for a rainy day kit or just quiet time.



Recycle

Before I throw anything away I think, how can my kids play with this? I keep a collection of things like cardboard paper tubes, bubble wrap, and egg cartons ready for crafting and play. We’ve turned a strip of bubble wrap into a bumpy road for our toy trucks, and paper rolls into stacking rings. The possibilities are endless and you will be amazed what your kids will invent. Check out all our recycled activities here.

Hide Away

Tucked in my rainy day bucket is a pair of flashlights and an old sheet. It doesn’t sound like much, but drape the sheet over the kitchen table, hand your kids the flashlights, and watch the magic happen. They now have a secret fort to defend with light sabers (or a pirate ship, or a rocket…) for hours of entertainment.

Scoop, Pour, and Play

I recently cleaned out my kitchen junk drawer and was able to fill my rainy day bin with an assortment of old measuring cups, mismatched scoops, and containers. When we are bored, I fill up a big tray with beans, sand, or even plain water and let the boys explore. We’ve searched for bugs, created a farm with corn, and even brought snow indoors to scoop and play.

Keeping all these things in one spot and readily available with prompts for creating and playing helps keep me sane on those stuck inside days, when the kids are bored and ready to get into trouble. It’s better than a spoonful of sugar but keeps our days just as sweet.

Going stir crazy inside? Head out to one of these fun places to take toddlers on a rainy day!
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Friday, April 17, 2015

Three Little Pigs Story Activity for Preschoolers

Three Little Pigs story activity for kids. Bring the Three Little Pigs story to life with this fun activity that kids will love!

My boys are OBSESSED with the Three Little Pigs. After reading it for the 1000th time, I thought we needed to mix it up and do something to bring the story to life. We came up with this fun activity and have played it pretty much every day since.  It's easy to play and keeps them entertained for hours!

This post contains affiliate links. See my Disclosure Policy for details.

It started with this wonderful collection of Animal Stories for Bedtime. This is a great compilation of many classic tales like the Ugly Duckling, Country Mouse & City Mouse, and of course, the Three Little Pigs. 


When one of our stories becomes a favorite, I like to incorporate it into our play activities. Here's what we used to bring the Three Little Pigs to life:
  • Animal toys - 3 pigs and a wolf (OK, ours is a dog, but they call it the wolf)
  • Play dough
  • Bendable drinking straws
  • Empty cardboard rolls (toilet paper or paper towel size)
  • Building blocks - we have these

Now it's time to play! We started by building the first pig's house of straw. To build the house of "straw," flatten 4 pieces of play dough onto your surface. This will be the base of the house. Then press the drinking straws into the dough, bendable part up.  Bend the tops to form the roof.


Now add your pigs and wolf as you tell the story! You may notice that there is also a frog in our house. He's not really part of the story but when you have toddlers, you go with the flow.


Then see if you can blow the house down! Or knock it down, as the case may be.


Now it's time to build a house of sticks. Our "sticks" were empty paper rolls, which my boys arranged on the floor into a house.


Again add your pigs and wolf to tell the story!


Then blow the house down! This one was my boys' favorite things to do because they could actually BLOW the sticks over.


Finally it's time to build your house of bricks. We used our building blocks to make a strong brick house.


And of course, the wolf (or the boys!) couldn't blow this one down.


The pigs are safe!

We really love this activity. It's a wonderful way for us to have fun with one of our favorite stories, and it makes the story come alive for my boys. 

This activity also provides learning opportunities for us to talk about why the straw and the sticks are not so strong, but the bricks are. It also gives them lots of fine motor and building skills practice as they construct their houses. And, it uses simple materials that we already have at home.  No wonder it has become a favorite!

Love The Three Little Pigs? Find more activities, crafts, & printables here!




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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Frugal Family Linky: April 16

Frugal Family link party for April 16 featuring ideas for gardening with kids and low cost crafts.

Welcome to this week's Frugal Family link party! We had so many wonderful posts linked up last week - every week I am so impressed by the creativity that I find here. Thank you for sharing!

I picked four posts to feature this week: two ideas to help you with your Spring garden, and two to inspire you to get crafty.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

DIY Piggy Bank & Money Counting Activity for Preschoolers

Make a piggy bank from a recycled wipes container! Add in some milk cap coins for a fun preschool counting activity, or use it as a real DIY piggy bank for kids. Such an easy way to help kids learn about money!

This post contains affiliate links. See my Disclosure Policy for details.

My boys were playing with this piggy bank toy at a friend's house last week and they really seemed to enjoy it. I loved the idea of starting to talk about counting and money, but instead of buying another toy I thought we'd make our own!

If you're a fan of Sunny Day Family you know I love to repurpose things that we have around the house to use in our play activities. This DIY Piggy Bank activity is one of those projects. It came together really quickly and I already had everything on hand.  Here's what we used:

  • Baby wipes container. I happened to have this cute "designer tub" because I had a coupon for it, but any container will do. 
  • Pink and black card stock or construction paper
  • Googly eyes
  • Scissors
  • Glue (I use Mod Podge)
  • Milk Bottle Caps
  • Permanent marker

To make your piggy bank, cut out a small circle and two ear shapes from your pink card stock. Cut out two small ovals from your black paper.


Glue the black ovals to the pink circle to make the pig's nose. Glue the nose and the googly eyes to the front of your wipes box.


Glue the ear shapes to the sides of the box. If you use the same type of box that I did, be careful not to glue it so that you can not open the end of the box.


Finished! Now, to make your coins, use permanent marker to write the number values of each coin on top of your milk bottle caps.


That's it! You're ready to play.


My boys loved putting the coins in the piggy bank and counting them as they went along. It was so fun they didn't know they were learning!


As they get older this can make a great addition activity too, as they add up the value of the coins in their bank. And it can become a great piggy bank for real coins too!

We loved this activity because it was inexpensive, easy, and so much fun. Plus it provided a wonderful learning opportunity as we are working on counting skills. It's a keeper!




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Sunday, April 12, 2015

DIY Cardboard Building Blocks

Make your own big cardboard building blocks for kids by recycling empty shoe boxes!

This post contains affiliate links. See my Disclosure Policy for details.

I've been looking at these giant cardboard blocks for a while, but I just couldn't justify buying them when it seems like my recycling bin is always overflowing with boxes! So when I decided to take on the 60 Day Junk Play Challenge for shoe boxes I thought, why not make my own?

I recently reorganized my closet so I had a lot of empty shoe boxes ready to recycle. Instead of taking them to the bin I made them into cardboard building blocks that my kids absolutely love! Here's what you need to make your own:



I fell in love with this brick contact paper for our blocks, but you can use any contact paper that you like. There are tons of different patterns on Amazon or you can find a variety in your local home improvement or discount store. 

Making the blocks is simple. Wrap your empty shoe boxes with the contact paper, just as if you were wrapping a gift. The contact paper is very forgiving, so if you get air bubbles you can remove and reposition it.


The paper will seal nicely to the box, but you will want to reinforce the ends with clear packing tape. Otherwise your kids may try to unwrap the block like a present!

That's it! So easy and inexpensive. My kids have had so much fun building with their new blocks.




We use our cardboard blocks as extension activities for a few of our favorite books. Check them out here!


Are you cleaning your closets and finding a lot of empty shoeboxes? Here's more projects to make from them!

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Friday, April 10, 2015

15 Gardening Books for Kids

15 gardening books for kids. Includes board books for toddlers and preschoolers, story books, and non fiction books for kids about seeds and plants.

I love having a garden. My boys adore helping with our garden, and have since they were tiny.

Being involved with a garden is so important for kids to learn how plants grow and where their food comes from. We're getting ready to plant our garden this year, and I have been looking for books about gardens to read with my kids. We found 5 great choices that we really enjoyed, and a list of 10 more that we want to try!

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Frugal Family Linky: April 9

Frugal Family link party for April 9, 2015 featuring upcycled toys for kids and money saving ideas from bloggers around the world.
Welcome to the Frugal Family linky! This week's features are all about recycling common household items into fun activities for kids. I love taking something that I normally throw away and turning it into something my kids will love. And these two posts are both ones I definitely want to try!

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Monday, April 6, 2015

5 Things To Do Every Day to Keep Your House Clean and Organized

Keep your house clean and organized by doing these things every day.


I have two toddlers. And two dogs, a cat, and a husband. I could spend all day scrubbing and sweeping to keep my house as clean as I would like it to be. But I would rather spend my time playing and learning and having fun with my kids, so I don't. Instead, I concentrate on 5 little things that I do every single day to keep my house clean and organized.

This list isn't going to catch everything, but I promise that is is completely do-able and will keep you from going insane with clutter and mess.

5 things to do every day to keep your house clean and organized.

This post contains affiliate links. See my Disclosure Policy for more details on affiliate programs.

Put Everything In Its Place

I host a play date for up to 10 toddlers in my house about once a month. When they leave it looks like a tornado has torn through my first floor leaving a path of legos, trains, and blocks in its wake. But it only takes me about 20 minutes to put everything back together. Why? Because everything in my house has a place to go. I love bins and baskets and cubbies - anywhere that I can store things so that they are not strewn all over the floor.

See how I've organized our playroom here.

We pick up twice a day: when my boys go down for their nap and again after they go to bed. The boys help me pick up their toys and even at 2, they have learned that everything has a place to go and it needs to be put away in the right spot. They don't always get it right but they give a very good effort and it goes a long way to keeping our house organized.

I just organized my kids' bathroom so my boys can help keep it clean too - see it here.

Control the Paperwork

When paperwork comes through the door I handle it immediately. We have a hanging organizer right in our kitchen command center with 4 pockets - one for my mail, one for my husband's, one for bills and one for receipts. I love having this right on the wall so it doesn't take up counter space - you can find lots of options to fit your decor, space, and price range.


Or you can make your own! Check out this easy DIY wall organizer that anyone can create with just a few supplies.


When we bring in the mail, it is sorted into the right pocket (mine, hubby's, or bills) or it goes straight to the recycling. Receipts are filed immediately when we get home from shopping. This system keeps papers from lingering on the countertops and piling up. It's amazing how much paper can accumulate if you don't deal with it right from the start.

Speaking of Those Countertops

I wipe down the sinks and countertops every day. Several times a day in the kitchen to be honest, but I make sure that every sink and counter gets a quick wipe down daily. This keeps germs and mess from building up and makes everything feel so much cleaner.

Want a portable cleaning caddy that you will actually want to leave out on the countertop (and use every day)? Click here to see mine!

I also empty the sink of dirty dishes every night and start the dishwasher. There's just something about a sink full of dirty dishes that makes the house feel dirty to me. And I can wake up to a load of clean dishes to put away - another wonderful chore for my toddlers' help!

Take Out the Trash

I take our our kitchen trash every night. There's something about this 5 minute chore that makes my house seem so much cleaner in the morning. It really is worth it! I also sprinkle some of this homemade deodorizer into the bottom of the empty can before I put in the new bag. It adds a nice fresh smell and keeps those stinky trash odors at bay.

Sweep the Floors

My mom always says if the floor is clean, the house feels clean. This is totally true with crumb dropping toddlers and shedding pets! I don't vacuum every day but I do sweep the kitchen after the kids are in bed. During the day, they help me after meals and snacks by sweeping with small handheld brooms. They don't get it all but the dogs help.

And, if you have the money, I could not recommend my Roomba more. I run it pretty much every day, usually while we are out running errands. I just push a button and come home to a vacuumed floor. Sheer genius.

My house may not be perfect, but concentrating on these 5 simple things every day helps me keep it clean and organized without sacrificing quality time with my family.

Get Organized with My House Cleaning Planner

Ready to take charge of your cleaning routine and keep your house clean with less stress? Grab my House Cleaning Planner and get organized! The planner includes 146 pages for an entire year of a clean and organized home.

You'll get monthly planning calendars, weekly cleaning schedules (with my 5 things to do every day already filled in for you) and a weekly laundry schedule. You'll also find my favorite specialty checklists for deep and seasonal cleaning. Preview a sample below then grab yours!



Buy the Cleaning Planner on Amazon now.


Prefer a printable version? Get a digital copy by clicking the button below.

$7.99

Organize Your Life: The Ultimate Guide for Moms

Doing these 5 things every day is just the tip of the iceberg to getting and staying organized. I've found that when you organize your life as a busy mom you're more able to enjoy your family. That's why I've put together the ultimate guide to organizing for moms - check it out here for cleaning tips, organizing ideas, meal planning solutions and more!


Follow me on Facebook for even more tips and ideas!


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Do these 5 things every day to keep your house clean and organized - even when you have kids and pets! These tips really work and they are so easy to do. Cleaning | Organizing | Mom Life

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Friday, April 3, 2015

Little Blue Truck Book & Sensory Play Activity for Preschoolers

Sensory play activity for toddlers and preschoolers featuring the book Little Blue Truck.

This post contains affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy for more details.

Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle is one of our favorite books. It covers our two favorite subjects - farm animals and trucks! It's the story of a little blue truck and his animal friends who help a dump truck get unstuck from some mud, all while teaching a valuable lesson about friendship. Since my boys love it so much, I thought we'd put together a fun sensory activity to bring the story to life.




To set up this activity, you'll need:
  • Copy of Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle
  • Large bin or tub (we use our old baby bathtub as a sensory bin)
  • Sand foam - we used this recipe from Paging Fun Mums
  • Toy trucks - a small blue truck and a larger dump truck
  • Toy animals as shown in the book - Toad, Sheep, Cow, Pig, Chicken, Goat, & Duck

Mix up your sand foam in the bin. I doubled the recipe and added a little more sand, so ours was a bit crumbly. Experiment until you get the texture you like. 

Add in your animals & trucks. This activity can get a little messy, so be sure to put a sheet under your bin or play outside.


I started by reading the story with my boys. As each animal greeted the Blue Truck in the book, we picked them out of our bin and repeated what sounds they made.



Then I invited them to act out what happened in the story as I read. 


Here's Toad coming to the rescue!


And the dump truck and Blue are finally unstuck.


Once we finished reading, I just let them play. They loved scooping and dumping the sand foam with the dump truck.


This is a wonderfully simple sensory activity that entertained my boys all morning. And when they woke up from their nap they wanted to play again! I love activities that involve their favorite books and help to make the stories come alive. These activities reinforce their early love of books and reading.

Want more Little Blue Truck fun? Try these other Little Blue Truck activities too!




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