Halloween Crafts For All Ages.

Several years ago I came upon a wonderful site that teaches craft-lovers of all ages how to make some amazing things. RED TED Art hosted by MAGGY, makes crafts using household objects, paper, yarn, origami, crayons, clay, and more. Here are some great links for Halloween Crafts for kids of all ages.


Halloween crafts for kids


Halloween Activities for Families


If you’re still hesitant about letting your kids go out trick-or-treating this season, they can still have a blast and get into the spirit of the season by making some of these kid-friendly crafts.

Happy Halloween!

Backyard Olympics Here We Come!

The 2020 Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo, Japan began on Friday, July 23, 2021.  I am one of those people who normally ignore sporting events and televised games during the regular season.  But there is something about the Olympics that keeps me riveted to the screen.  I think it has to do with the premise of peaceful International competition.  So many countries coming together to share their best athletes with the world. Even with Covid changing the way athletes compete, I hope there will be memorable moments for all of us to reflect on and admire.

In the spirit of friendly competition, why not enjoy some Olympic inspired activities of your own?  Got a pool?  Try some water polo or synchronized swimming.  Practice backstrokes or have raft races.  Who can get the wettest in a splashing contest?  Young children can enjoy water fun as well: Set up the sprinkler.  Or fill up buckets of water and have toddlers “paint” the driveway to their hearts content.  What is more fun than a water balloon throwing competition?

There are lots of ways to enjoy water-free Olympic events as well. 

Sack races, three-legged races, wheelbarrow races, crab walk races and log rolling (using your body as the log) are guaranteed to bring on smiles and get everyone moving.  You can also set up games and events using balls, ropes, or other props.

Let you imagination go and enjoy exercising as a family by trying some “Backyard Olympics”.  For more fun ideas visit:  https://hoosierhomemade.com/backyard-olympic-games/

What are some of your favorite outdoor family activities?

Slimy Summer Fun!

What Kid doesn’t enjoy a fresh pile of slime to play in?  On days when it feels too hot to play out in sand or make mud pies, you can still give your kids a tactile experience by making your own SLIME.  There are plenty of recipes out there.  Here are two that will help you create colorful slime for indoor fun.  One glows in the dark and has glitter.

Happy Sliming!

The first one is borax, glue and chemical free:

http://www.redtedart.com/easy-slime-recipes/   No Borax Easy Slime Recipes - LOVE Slime? Have NO glue? NO Borax? NO Chemicals...??!! Check out these AMAZING play safe (and often "taste" safe) Slime Recipes for Kids. Explore, discover and have LOTS of sensory fun!!! The best sensory slime play activities for preschoolers and beyond. #Safeslime #noborax #slime #noglue #slimerecipeshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcTzNAzHyY0  Glitter-glow-in-the-dark slime recipe

Whistling Grass

Here is a simple and fun activity everyone can enjoy when you’re outdoors and anywhere near grass.  Just take a wide blade of grass and place it tightly between your thumbs.  Blow onto the small opening and the grass will whistle!

It actually sounds like a turkey call.  Try different blade thicknesses and widths to see if you can change the sound.

 Can you make up a song using this whistle from nature?

Creating Friendships…One Bench at a Time.

One person can really make a difference. This post originally appeared in 2017 but it is so wonderful and special, speaking to the idea that one kind dead spreads and becomes something much bigger. I am reblogging it today on NATIONAL BEST FRIENDS DAY.

Christian Bucks, an 11 year old fifth grader from York, PA came up with a great idea for encouraging friendships on the playground.  After seeing kids on his playground sitting alone or having no one to play with during recess, he asked his principal if they could get a Buddy Bench. A place where a child could sit down and be joined by others looking for friendship.   The principal agreed and a bench was installed on the playground.

It was an instant hit.  A lot of new friendships were being made.  The bench also helped prevent bullying. Since the installation of that first Buddy Bench, the concept has taken off and there are now more than  2,000 Buddy Benches at schools in all 50  states and in 13 countries including Russia, Australia, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia.

When asked how he felt about his idea Christian said, “I like how the idea has spread.  It’s a little thing, but little things can be big.”

To find out more about the Buddy Bench visit: http://www.buddybench.org

Follow Christian on Twitter @Buddy_Bench

Memorial Day Activities

Since Memorial Day Weekend is the official start of summer, that usually means more time outdoors and lots of outdoor eating. If you’re going to a picnic this weekend, here are a few simple games, activities and food ideas to help win the day.                      patriotic-dove

MAKE PATRIOTIC NECKLACES using red, white, and blue straws cut into one inch sections. String them onto a piece of yarn and everyone looks ready for a parade or backyard barbeque.

Try frozen STRAWBERRY POPS to cool off after a fun day in the sun. Wash and remove the stems from a quart of strawberries. Toss them in a blender and add a splash of orange or grape juice.  Puree until smooth. Pour into small paper cups. Place a popsicle stick in each one and freeze until firm. Peel away the paper and they’re ready to eat.

At the next family reunion, have the kids dress up in red, white, and blue and have a backyard parade. You can decorate wagons and bikes, and play some peppy marching band music to add to the festivities. Adults can join in and everyone can “perform” by doing whatever they’re good at: acrobatics, card tricks, puppet show, singing, dancing, telling corny jokes.  Getting everyone – young and old – involved adds to the fun.

While you are celebrating, remember those brave and selfless men and women in uniform who gave their lives  to keep our country free.

Happy Memorial Day.

Financial Literacy For Kids.

Learning to manage money and stay within a budget are life skills that even many adults struggle with. And with most school curriculum stretched to include college prep and technological literacy, simple financial literacy often gets pushed aside.

Yet, we want our children to be able to live within their means and use money wisely. How do we teach this life-skill to our children?

www.Jumpstart.org is a great place to start.


Here is the Mission of Jumpstart: Mission

Jump$tart is a coalition of diverse financial education stakeholders. These organizations work together to educate and prepare our nation’s youth for life-long financial success.


Why not check out this free resource and get your child started on a life-long journey of financial literacy and security?

Love to Read? Share It With Kids on March 2: Read Across America.

“When people make the time to read with children, children get the message that reading is important.” NEA

Students, parents, teachers and people from many walks of life, will read to children March 2,  in recognition of “National Read Across America Day,” a program the National Education Association established 20 some years ago.

Athletes and actors will issue reading challenges to young readers. Governors and other elected officials will recognize the role of reading with proclamations.

Naomi Gruer, a children’s writer and preschool teacher, participated in a remote event,   “World Read Aloud Day,” a few years ago.

“Reading to kids made me so happy because, in that moment, we explored the world inside the story together.”

To prepare the children for the online experience, Naomi asked them to listen for certain things as she read — a funny incident or a silly outcome or a character acting in a peculiar way. “The minute I was on Skype with the kids, everything else melted away. It was as if I was in the classroom with them,” she said.

Later, as a Microsoft Guest Educator, she was asked by several educators to read to their students. One request came from a teacher in Spain, who wanted English to be read to her classroom.

Naomi applied the same format to all her remote classroom sessions: an introduction, followed by reading (either chapters or picture books depending on the age of the students.)

“They listened actively and were ready to point out and discuss the humor. Introducing students to my dog was the ultimate ice breaker.” Naomi blogs at https://bmoreenergy.wordpress.com

What You Can Do:

There are many free and low cost ways to provide children with books in print, online, audio and video formats. For example, the “We Need Diverse Books” program provides free diverse books to schools serving low-income students around the country.

To learn more:

Visit https://www.nea.org/professional-excellence/student-engagement/read-across-america/support-your-readers/free-materials

How to help kids develop the reading habit:

  • Keep books everywhere you spend time. Put them in the car, in every room of the house and tuck them in backpacks and purses.
  • Visit the library often. Knowing how to use the library and learning the benefits of a library fosters a love of reading as well as a genuine respect for the services libraries provide.

Do you have a favorite children’s book? Please share it in the Comment section.

Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist and voracious reader of  children’s books.

Kindness: How Can You Make a Difference?

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain

In a world where we are bombarded by mean words, negative news, and depressing events, it sometimes feels like kindness is hard to find. Even though we are still in the middle of Covid and social distancing, we can spread kindness through the words we say and the things we do.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021 is RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS DAY. This is a day set aside to reflect on how we might be kind to our fellow man. Buy the person standing in line behind you  a cup of coffee. Pay for the gasoline of the car behind you. Volunteer at a local food bank. Pay the toll of the person behind you. Give a piece of chocolate to the woman who greets you so warmly at the gym. Let the “other” person have the parking spot closer to the store. Say “Thank You” to the cashier at your favorite grocery store. Leave some home baked goodies on the doorstep of a neighbor who is alone and has not been able to get out during this time.

You get the idea.

There are so many ways we can show kindness to others. Many of us do kind things every day. But, why not make an effort to really ramp up the kind quotient on Wednesday and see how good it makes you feel. When we pass on acts of kindness, it changes the giver as well as the receiver.

For those who want to take kindness to another level, read below.

If you had $1,000.00 to spend, how would you use it to benefit your neighborhood or community?  Entrepreneur Ari Nessel of THE POLLINATION PROJECT, will grant  awards of $1,000.00 each to individuals who want to make a difference. You can apply for one of these awards at: http://www.thepollinationproject.org.

Here is a perfect opportunity to do something lasting for your neighbors, friends or town.  Pass it on. May kindness follow you wherever you go.

I’ll leave you with one of the verses from my recent middle grade book WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY (Creston).

What kind of ice cream do you like, Cody? asks Gran
when we’re sitting around the table.
Everyone has a scoop of
butter pecan
or orange sherbet.

Cody looks at Jill with her scoop
of strawberry and says, The same
as Jill, I guess.
You hate strawberry ice cream, Cody, Jill says.
You hate anything with strawberries, remember?
Cody sighs, frowns,
shakes his head. Then I don’t know what kind, he says.

Jill looks like she might cry
until Katy smiles, pats Cody’s arm.
Taste all of them until you find
the one you like, she says.

The rest of the day is just like that, Katy doing
one kind thing after another for Cody,
Mom, Gran, Pops beaming smiles,
me and Jill staring in disbelief.

It isn’t hard to believe Katy is kind. She’s
the princess of kind everyday.
What is hard to believe is how a wish
that was supposed to help Cody
be a boy full of spirit,
a boy once kind himself,
turns him instead
into someone empty.

“Three things in human life are important:  the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; the third is to be kind.” – Henry James

Celebrate National Bubble Gum Day: Fun Facts to Chew On!

Bubble gum was invented in 1928 by a man named Walter Diemer. He worked at a chewing gum factory (as an accountant!) and was experimenting with all kinds of gum recipes. One day, Walter came up with a formula that wasn’t as sticky as regular gum. It was also super stretchy. This meant you could blow bubbles with it. Unfortunately for Walter, he lost the recipe and had to start experimenting all over again. But after four long months, he figured out the recipe once more. And bubble gum was here to stay!

The following fun facts are from the website listed here:


Kids in North America spend approximately half a billion dollars on bubble gum every year.

The largest piece of gum ever was equivalent to 10,000 pieces of chewing gum!

100,000 tons of bubble gum is chewed every year all around the world.

Chewing bubble gum is said to keep one from crying, as it reduces stress and helps in concentration.

Scientists found a 9,000-year- old wad of chewing gum in Sweden.

The average American chews around 300 sticks of gum in one year.

Another cool fact is that if your popped bubble gets stuck in your hair, you can remove it by rubbing the piece stuck with peanut butter.

A mathematician once calculated and figured out that the energy Americans expend everyday when chewing bubble gum was enough to light a city of ten million people.

By the 1940s, bubble gum had become so popular that it was included in the ration kits given to U.S. soldiers.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest bubble ever blown measured 23 inches in diameter!

Humans are the only animals on earth that chew gum. If you give a monkey a piece he will chew it for a couple of minutes, then he will take it out and stick it to his hair.

For more fun BUBBLE GUM facts, visit:


There’s an alley in California that’s absolutely covered in gum.

It’s called Bubblegum Alley and people stop there to stick their chewed-up gum on its walls. The alleyway has been a landmark for gum-chewers for about 20 years. It now features millions of pre-chewed, colourful wads of gum. In the past, the alleyway has been completely cleaned of gum. But passersby can’t seem to stop themselves from visiting and sticking their gum to the wall. So Bubblegum Alley remains in all its gum glory!

Happy Bubble Gum Chewing!