Easy, Kid-Friendly Ornaments to Keep and Give.

My daughter came across these simple – yet festive – ornaments that are perfect for even young kids to make on their own.     

Shower Curtain Ring Wreaths:

  • shower curtain rings
  • chenille/pipe cleaner stems of assorted colors
  • tacky glue
  • buttons, beads, ribbons for embellishment          

Step One:  Using two pipe cleaner stems together, wrap around the ring to cover it as shown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue until the entire ring is covered.  Tuck ends of the pipe cleaner into the wreath to hold tight. Repeat as many times as you wish, making each ring different…or a matched set…your choice.

Step two:  Decorate with buttons, beads, etc. Tie with ribbon or string to hang.

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Toys of Yesteryear: Do Your Kids Want to Play?

When I do school visits or talk to children about my book WHEELS OF CHANGE they often want to know how kids played and entertained themselves in the early 1900’s.  Without electricity and electronic devices, children of yesteryear had to use their imagination to have a day of fun.  Inventing games and pretend play really hasn’t gone out of style – I witness it every time I visit children on the playground or during their free time.

Toys have changed however.  Many of the things children play with today require batteries and often perform only one function.  Yet there are still some toys that have stood the test of time and continue to be popular.  During my research for the book – set in 1908 – I compiled this list of the top ten toys of the era. Do any of them appear on your children’s list to Santa?

TOP TEN TOYS OF 1900-1920

  1. Teddy Bear (1902)- in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt who, on a hunting trip, had an opportunity to kill a bear and didn’t.
  2. Erector Set- invented by AC Gilbert, a gold medal Olympian in the 1908 Pole Vault.
  3. Lionel Trains (1901)
  4. Lincoln Logs (1916)
  5. Raggedy Ann Doll
  6. Radio Flyer Wagon (1917)                                
  7. Tinker Toys (1914)
  8. Crayola Crayons 8 pack (1903)
  9. Tin Toys
  10. Tiddlywinks

Baseball Cards  (1900)    Ping Pong  (1901)   Jigsaw Puzzle (1909)

Other popular toys included:  Snap Card Game, Playing cards, marbles, checkers, chess, yoyos, wooden tops, dolls.

How many of these toys do your children or grandchildren still ask for today?  When it comes to play, some things just can’t be ignored.

Hess Truck = STEM Smarts.

While my son was growing up, one of the favorite traditions during the holiday season was the gift of a new HESS TRUCK.  These toys made their debut at Hess gas stations in 1964 and have gained in popularity over the years. Many kids receive these toys and have kept them as part of a collection.  My son has three such trucks tucked away and will no doubt hand them down to his children one day. The toys are considered collectibles and not available in stores.

This season features a DUMP TRUCK AND LOADER – with an added component: STEM lessons!

Available for FREE DOWNLOAD is a new STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) curriculum with eight lessons – all featuring the truck.  The curriculum can be used for home or school use and teaches kids about LIFTING FORCES, LEVERAGE, DEGREES OF FREEDOM, and other concepts.

Visit:  http://www.hesstoytruck.com

Kids Can Build: Free Hands-on Workshops at the Home Depot.

Do you have a child who loves working with her hands?  Does he enjoy taking things apart or building things from scratch?  Or, do you want to teach your child the proper way to use tools while creating something hand-made and original?  Try signing him or her up for one of the MONTHLY kids classes at your local Home Depot.

A recent class had children building a Military Appreciation Humvee.   Other projects have included: fire trucks, birdhouses, picture frames, toolboxes, mail organizers, race cars and many more.

These classes are FREE and the store will provide all the materials needed to complete a project.  Classes take place one Saturday each month and begin around 9AM, usually lasting a few hours.  BUT…YOU must register in advance to make sure your child has a spot.  Spaces can fill up quickly. 

The Home Depot Kids Workshop is for children ages 5-12. An adult will need to stay with the child during the entirety of the Home Depot Kids Workshop.

Interested?  Here’s information from the site on how to register:

Visit Home Depot Weekly Workshops and click on the Kids Workshops tab to view the project for the upcoming Home Depot Kids Workshop.

Click the Register button and your local Home Depot by using the Find Store button.Select the store you’d like to take your child to and choose the workshop day and time.

To complete the registration, you’ll need to fill out your name, email address, number of kids attending and their names and birthdates.

Heated Political Battle Led to Frosty Dessert: by Marilyn Ostermiller

Looking for a romantic treat for special someone? You might want to consider whipping up a Baked Alaska, the classic dessert that’s fiery hot on the outside with a melting heart and richly delicious all over.

In it’s traditional form, Baked Alaska is concocted with hard ice cream on a base of sponge cake and covered in a shell of toasted meringue. Plan ahead because the cake must be baked and cooled before topping it with layers of firmly frozen ice cream. Just before it’s time to serve dessert, whip several egg whites into a stiff meringue, spread it completely over the ice cream and cake and place it in a very hot oven for a couple of minutes, until the meringue begins to brown. The trick to making sure the ice cream doesn’t melt is to seal the cake and ice cream with the meringue. Here’s a recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/baked-alaska-recipe.html

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If the classic form is daunting, consider a small version made with brownies that children with some experience in the kitchen can help assemble. This version with easy-to-follow directions comes from Baking Bites, a food blog written by Nicole Weston, a pastry chef, food writer and recipe developer based in Los Angeles, CA http://bakingbites.com/2015/07/brownie-baked-alaska/

Baked Alaska Day is commemorated nationally in February.

According to the National Day Calendar organization, Baked Alaska was created by a celebrity Victorian chef, Charles Ranhofer. The Frenchman was the chef at the swanky Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York City in the mid 1860s, where he became notorious for naming new and renaming old dishes after famous people and events.

In 1867, a political debate was raging over the potential purchase of Alaska from Russia. Secretary of State William Seward agreed to a purchase price of $7 million and Alaska became a United States territory. Those who were of the opinion the purchase was a giant mistake referred to the purchase as “Seward’s Folly”.

Capitalizing on the heated controversy surrounding the purchase in the frozen north, Ranhofer’s Baked Alaska fit the bill. It was cold, nearly frozen and quickly toasted in a hot oven prior to serving.

Who knew!?       Marilyn Ostermiller

Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time business journalist who now writes for children. You can follow her on Twitter @Marilyn_Suzanne.

Anyone out there “daring” enough to try making your own BAKED ALASKA? If you do, send me the photo and I’ll post it here on the blog!

 

Happy Chinese New Year: Easy Dragon Craft

The Chinese New Year will be celebrated on Saturday 1-28-2017.  It is the YEAR OF THE ROOSTER.  Why not have your kids join in the festivities by making their own CHINESE DRAGON PUPPETS.

Here is all you need (with scissors, tacky glue and some bag clips to hold pieces in place):

2016-01-16-19-52-20I used thin foam pieces for the head and tail, and card stock for the head fin and middle section.  You can also use craft paper for the whole thing, or felt and ribbons or yarn for the mid-section.  Pipe cleaners are another option for the mid section or stems. Let your imagination go for creative designs.

Using the pattern pieces below, cut the number of pieces indicated and set aside.

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If you’re using paper for the midsection, fold it accordion style as shown here:

2016-01-16-21-09-48Make it as long as you like…it actually looks best when the middle is long and twisting.

Assemble the head by inserting the fin between the two pieces.  Glue in place.   Insert the sticks (I used wooden skewers) between the head pieces and tail pieces.  Insert the ends of the midsection into these pieces as shown.  Glue in place and clip to hold together until it dries.

2016-01-16-21-26-15        2016-01-16-21-26-27Add a googlie eye or draw facial features with a Sharpie marker.  Don’t forget to put features on both sides!

 

Hold the sticks at both ends to make the Dragon move.

Here’s another version of a dragon puppet:  http://www.redtedart.com/chinese-new-year-craft-dragon-puppet-free-printable/

For more activities and easy crafts to celebrate the Year of the Rooster visit:

http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/chinesenewyear/

Happy New Year!

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Keeping Winter Bugs at Bay.

Now that the holiday season is over, many of us tend to hibernate or stay close to home during the coldest months of winter.  So do the germs that cause colds and flu.  With a few simple steps, you can protect yourself against these infections.

Contrary to popular belief, YOU CANNOT CATCH A COLD OR FLU FROM BEING OUTDOORS IN THE COLD WEATHER.  While you may get chilled or overheated, it is GERMS that cause these conditions.  Because we spend more time indoors in winter, so do the bugs that plague us.  Here are ways to AVOID a bad cold:

  1. Wash your hands frequently with SOAP AND WATER.  Soap and water is just as effective as anti-bacteria cleaners.  And, you don’t run the risk of creating super-bugs from overuse of antibiotics.   How long should you wash?  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends at least 20 seconds of hand washing – the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
  2. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  3. Wipe down remotes, phones, laptops, mouses, doorknobs, and anything else sick people at home may touch.
  4. Avoid sharing cups and glasses with those who are sick and be sure to properly wash these items after use.
  5. Cough and sneeze into your elbow, rather than your hand.  Avoid shaking hands with those who are sick as well.
  6. Stay home if you are not feeling well.  Work will always be there, but if you get run down, you could compromise your immunity and ability to fight off infection.
  7. EXERCISE helps prevent colds and flu when practiced in moderation.  Walking, biking, ice skating and moderate aerobic activity help boost immunity. Turn on some music and dance…great fun AND exercise for all ages.
  8. Studies have shown that ELDERBERRY SYRUP EXTRACT can be taken daily to prevent colds and flu, and to reduce symptoms of you are already infected.  ZINC and VITAMIN C serve a similar purpose.  (Note: Check with your doctor before taking any supplements).
  9. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables often.  These vitamin-rich foods have natural anti-inflammatory properties that keep our immune systems functioning properly.

Enjoy a happy, healthy New Year!