There’s something about Easter egg waste and chemical dyes that makes me squirm. Of course there are store-bought, non-toxic natural Easter Egg dyes out there, but I set out to create my own from ingredients in the fridge. The result was muted and beautiful – almost what you would find if you happened upon a bird’s nest in nature. Natural easter egg dyes also make it healthier to consume the hard-boiled eggs after the fact. And after you master these, maybe cloth dying is in the cards!!
Here are 10 creative ideas for an affordable and fun kid’s birthday party:
You’ve threatened, cajoled – even begged your kids to tidy up. But it still seems you’re the one facing the ultimatum: either ignore the mess or do it for them.
Here are 7 tips to encourage kids to clean their bedrooms, without raising your voice or losing your mind:
I’ll never forget traveling from Rome to Toronto in executive class with a one year-old who didn’t sleep a wink. (I’m quite certain the airline had to appease many of our fellow travelers!) Every parent has a ‘bag of tricks’ and we’d love for you to add your own ideas to our 15 ways to entertain kids on an airplane. Having their full attention for so long is a great way to bond and can reveal amazing teaching moments. Even looking at the maps in the airline magazine is an opportunity!
Usually I’m not preachy, but watching this video of three generations talking about summer ‘fun’ filmed by Nature Valley jarred me to my roots. Our relationship to nature is changing and with technology at our fingertips, it’s easy to forget about what’s important, like being outside and enjoying nature. With each passing generation, children seem to be playing outside less and less.
What if our connection to nature is lost for good? I want my grandchildren to develop skills and knowledge that can be acquired only in nature. Learning to fish, to camp, swim, built forts and plant seeds are part of childhood – play is necessary for development. Not only are motor skills developed, but creativity, reasoning, logic and life skills are honed. Can you imagine having no access to food other than fish, but the only time you’ve held a rod was during a fishing video game? So let’s make a pact to get the kids outside this summer, K?
The time is now to rediscover the joy of nature.
The kids and I have completed our ‘Summer Bucket List’ and pasted it to the fridge, where we can check off the items as we complete them. I’m giddy. Too often the summer slips away from us and I regret not having slept in a tent or taking the kayak out. This will be the best summer ever.
I challenge you to complete your own Bucket List (click to get your own printable)! I’d also love to hear your ideas in the comments below. Happy summer!
“Passported” – Seamless Vacation Planning
Feather+Flip, a family travel resource, has acquired itinerary planning company Bon Voyaging to create “Passported”. The new resource combines the itinerary planning technology of Bon Voyage with the family content of Feather+Flip. According to CEO Henley Vazquez, “Passported celebrates kid-friendly travel for grown-ups. We highlight the places your junior entourage will love in destinations you’re excited to visit. Family travel can be sophisticated, cool, and fun for the whole family.”
“Passported” allows families to view parent-reccomended restaurants, hotels, activities and sites, for vacation spots around the world, while creating a seamless vacation itinerary. Mapping capabilities are also available in unison with the technology. In addition to streamlined booking services, travellers booking with the new technology have access to special perks such as free breakfast, spa credits and late check out.
The philosophy of the company is that family travel can be sophisticated, cool, and fun for the whole family.
It’s easy to entertain children on a dime in Vancouver, so save your money for a rainy day (not that Vancouver has any of those) and check out these 10 things to do in Vancouver for those on a budget. Here are our top 10 affordable Vancouver family activities – feel free to add to the list in the comments!
There’s something for everyone at this popular Vancouver tourist attraction, from the food and flower market to feeding the pigeons on the wharf. Kids play for free at the indoor playground in the Kids Market, and the outdoor water park if the sun is shining. On weekends, buskers entertain crowds of people and the atmosphere is more carnival than quiet.
Beaches and kids go together like pie and ice cream, so take yours to one of Vancouver’s several sandy beaches. Go to Spanish Banks for incredible city views, Kitsilano Beach to catch some basketball or volleyball pick-up games, Third Beach in Stanley Park for a calmer setting and sunsets, or Ambleside Beach to catch some waves if they’re breaking. Beached logs double as chair backs, just bring a blanket and a shovel and a desire to get your feet wet.
It’s not Vancouver’s most popular tourist attraction for nothing. In Stanley Park, the largest urban park in North America, you can bike around the seawall, play in the water park or playground, smell the roses in the rose garden, check out the Totem poles, ride the miniature train (for minimal cost), and watch the float planes take off and land in the harbour. If you want to get up close and personal with Douglas Firs, there are also well-marked hiking trails to explore.
Similar to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, only without the price tag, the Lynn Valley Suspension Bridge located in Lynn Canyon Park is the most thrilling adventure you can have for free in North Vancouver. Suspended fifty meters above water, the bridge will bounce and sway as you walk across it, thus earning its nickname, the shaky bridge. Bring a picnic or purchase snacks at the cafe in the nearby Ecology Centre, which is also worth a visit and free of charge.
Head east of downtown Vancouver and you will hit the third largest Chinatown in North America. From the ornate gated entrance to the narrowest building in the world, Vancouver’s Chinatown is a vibrant, historical part of the city, loved by young and old. If they like Chinatown they’ll love the Richmond Night Markets for cheap thrills and sampling Asian cuisine, on May 15-Oct 12.
For minimal cost, get a tour of Vancouver’s False Creek in one of these cruisers. Choose one of their eight docks to start from and enjoy a twenty-five minute boat ride around the bay, children ride for $4. The Aquabus is stroller-friendly and the best-kept commuter secret in Vancouver, with boats leaving every fifteen minutes.
May 2015 marked the 138th anniversary of the first train arriving in Vancouver, and you can check it out for free at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre in Vancouver’s Yaletown. CPR Engine 374 is on display, and volunteers will give you a tour—their knowledge of rail history will impress Thomas the Tank Engine aficionados.
We mean this in a good way. Vancouver is home to the finest hiking east of the Rockies, many of which are possible for little legs. Pack water and snacks and head to Deep Cove, the Quarry Rock hike is part of the popular Baden Powell trail, and takes about an hour and a half round trip. The reward is a stunning vista of Indian Arm and mountains surrounding Belcarra. For flatter terrain and less view try Rice Lake, a three kilometre loop in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park.
Libraries aren’t just for bookworms. Head to your local library for story times, author talks, LEGO parties, movie showings, pajama parties, board games, puppet shows and singing, all for free. The summer reading club will be starting soon, sign your children up and inspire them to read more, and game less this year.
While the Vancouver Aquarium and Science World are popular destinations, they aren’t inexpensive, especially for families. Alternatives are the Vancouver Art Gallery, $6 for children and by donation Tuesday evenings, the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre with an $8 evening rate for children, and The Vancouver Maritime Museum with entrance by donation Thursday evenings. Culture doesn’t have to be costly.
Face it, there’s nothing to keep you inside in Vancouver – not even the rain.
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/footloosiety/
Summer is a perfect time to facilitate learning through entertainment. Remember being a kid and looking in the encyclopedia when you found a mushroom or learned a bit about physics when your fishing rod broke? Let’s get outside this summer and see what nature will teach us!
15 Summer Activities in Nature
1. Go for a hike! It’s a great way to get some exercise and discover new species at the same time.
2. Build forts made of driftwood on the beach. The kids can learn about structures while having fun scouring the beach for the much needed piece of wood for the roof.
3. Go camping! Whether it be at a site or just the backyard, camping is a great way to get outside and learn about your surroundings.
4. Do some gardening! Get the kids involved and give them a small patch in the backyard to create their own mini garden. They can learn what different species need to survive and have fun choosing the plants for their garden at the same time.
5. Go on an outdoor scavenger hunt! Make a list of things to find, whether it be a pinecone, something yellow, or a leaf the size of your hand and get scavenging!
6. Go geocaching! Teach the kids some navigation skills as they hunt for treasure. You never know, there may be treasure waiting for you right around the corner!
7. Go for a family bike ride. On a trail or through the neighbourhood, biking is a great way to be active in nature.
8. Go berry picking! Everyone can do it and afterwards the family can learn how to make a delicious treat incorporating the berries.
9. Fly a kite! You can get crafty and make your own or you can by one at the store. Either way, kite flying is a great family activity.
10. Have a neighbourhood game of soccer! Get the whole neighbourhood involved and play this simple yet fun game in your front yard or the park. You will be teaching the kids about teamwork in a way that just seems like fun and games.
11. Decorate the sidewalk with chalk! The kids can unleash their creativity while enjoying the great outdoors.
12. Take out your camera and go outside for some outdoor photography. Get some shots of your favorite plants and animals to use in a scrapbook!
13. Scavenge the beach for shells and sea glass to use in an art project of the kid’s choosing. Their creativity will not be lost over the summer with projects like these.
14. Go kayaking or stand up paddle boarding! Get outside and breath in the ocean air! Perseverance is taught (especially if it’s your first time) and the health benefits are endless!
15. Set up the sprinkler on those particularly hot summer day’s and watch the endless hours of enjoyment begin.
If you’ve cared for kids during summer break, you know how those ten weeks can stretch out! But summer is also a wonderful time to learn with your kids, in ways that might not normally have time for. Best of all: they can help someone (or something!) in need, and feel really great about it.
Here are five activities for all kinds of kids:
The entrepreneur: If your kids want to earn money, brainstorm for small business ideas. The classic lemonade stand still lures many a thirsty family en route from the park. Perhaps a portion of the proceeds can be donated to a charity. Have your children research at least three.
The environmentalist: Create a way-station for migrating monarch butterflies, whose populations are threatened due to loss of natural habitat on their routes. Visit http://monarchwatch.org/waystations/ to learn what to plant in your backyard or a nearby abandoned lot.
The fundraiser: With FIFA World Cup on this summer, many will have soccer on the brain! Perhaps your resident soccer nuts could invite friends to play ‘the world’s longest soccer game’ in the local park, to raise funds for sports equipment for underprivileged kids.
The friendly neighbor: Is there an elderly person in your neighborhood, or mom with a very small child? Summer’s a great chance to walk across the road with some baking, to ask how your son or daughter could help. It’s a great chance for your child to practice reading out loud over the summer.
The caring baker: Invest in a tin of fair trade cocoa, or bag of fair trade sugar, and learn a basic cupcake or brownie recipe. Wherever your child offers these treats (to neighbors in need or for sale at a lemonade stand) he or she could share what they’ve learned about child labour. Visit nochildforsale.ca to learn more.
“Over the River and through the woods…”
Well, you know the rest, don’t you? Gone are the days of congenial drives in the family car to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. Did those days ever really exist? Today, our little singer would rather don a pair of earphones and spend time staring at a screen (computer, gaming system, DVD player etc.) than participate in a family sing-a-long in the car. But, if like us and you feel that allowing your child to completely disconnect from the rest of the family is just plain unacceptable, there is a solution. TravelKiddy, a company that specializes in keeping your kids entertained on long car, plane or train rides without the need of an electronic screen is just a mouse click away.
Created by an industrious mom (aren’t we all?) who was constantly creating activity kits for her children while traveling back and forth from Hong Kong to the United States, TravelKiddy can best be described as “an adventure in a bag.” The staff selects bundles of toys, activities and crafts to challenge and engage kids for extended periods of quiet play.
TravelKiddy specializes in finding the best travel toys, travel games, educational games, brain teasers, travel activities, puzzles, and accessories that amuse kids on journeys around the block or around the world. The toys and activities are grouped by age as well as by stage development. So, your toddler might receive mini puzzles and stacking cups while your older children will be entertained by the selection of a unique games, puzzles, and brain. Plus, TravelKiddy uses brands that we’ve actually heard of like mudpuppy, eeboo, Crayola, Klutz, Think Fun, blue orange, Melissa & Doug, Peaceable Kingdom, and Stephen Joseph. Finally, the activity kits come preassembled taking the hassle out of a parent pulling together interesting and interactive toys prior to leaving for a trip.
Our family has used TravelKiddy several times for our summer car trips to Minnesota and our daughter has NEVER complained of boredom. Here are some of the things that were in her bag:
- 24 count Melissa & Doug® triangular crayons
- A luggage Tag
- Mini-First Aid Kit including: Bandages, Sanitary hand wipes and tissues
- Melissa & Doug® 6×9 doodle pad & a pencil
- Bead kit from Bead Bazaar
- Sticky Mosaic Kit from Orb Factory
- Squiggle™ On-The-Go
- 2 sheets of stickers
- 2 sheets of scene stickers
- Map coloring and activity book by Kappa Publishers
- Traveling Fun activity book (TravelKiddy® exclusive)
- Pocket snake
- 2 fashion bendi dolls
- Only Hearts mini pet with clip
- 2 Safari Ltd® animals
- Plastic spring toy
- Pocket Magic trick
- Jawbones construction kit
- Wikki Stix®
- Wild Wooly classic magnetic game
- Wooden 3-d puzzle from Puzzled, Inc®
- Happy cube puzzle cube
- Create your own puzzle
See what we mean about the best travel toys and games? It’s hard to get bored with all those surprises in one travel bag! And, if that isn’t enough, included in the cost of the kit is a “Return Pack” which I cleverly hid at the bottom of my suitcase for the return trip home. While not as big as the TravelKiddy, the Return Pack contains all new toys and puzzles. And let’s face it, the return home can be just as taxing as the ride there, right? TravelKiddy makes it possible for your kids to never run out of things to do.
So whether or not you are going over the river and through the woods or around the world for the upcoming winter holidays, we think that you will be hard pressed to find a more entertaining and varied entertainment package that doesn’t include a monitor or thumb-pad. Who knows? Your children may be so happy with their activities that may break out into spontaneous song? Or maybe your are hoping that the TravelKiddy will prevent them from singing at all?