Monday, December 29, 2014

Baby's First New Year's: Milestone Card {free printable}

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Is it the new year already?  It'll be an early night for my little ones and I, but I'm marking the occasion by taking a picture of Sunny with this Baby's First New Year's printable milestone card that I created.  I'll take a picture of her with it just like I did with the Thanksgiving and Christmas ones.  Just right click to save it and print it out in 5x7 size. 

 
 Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve!  See you in 2015!

 
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Check out Why Does My Teen?, which is an informational site for the parents teens.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Baby's First Christmas: Milestone Card {free printable}

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There's nothing like Baby's First Christmas.  The expressions on my babies  on Christmas morning when they unwrapped their first presents will forever stay with me.  To mark the occasion, I created a Baby's First Christmas free printable photo prop just like I did for Thanksgiving.  Just right click to save it and print it out in 5x7 size. 

 
 I pray that you and your newest little blessing have an amazing Christmas!
 




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Tree image via NRC Design Studio

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Baby's First Thanksgiving: Milestone Card {free printable}

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Having a new baby is so much fun during the holidays.  I see our traditions with new eyes and enjoy sharing these new sights and sounds with my babies.   It's Sunny's first Thanksgiving and I'm trying to be better with taking pictures.  So I've created baby milestone cards that I can print out and take her picture with.  Here's the latest one.  I thought I'd share it on here so that anyone else who has a new baby can use it as well.  Just right click to save it and print it out in 5x7 size. 
 
 
I hope you, your family, and your new little ones all have a very blessed Thanksgiving!
 
Keep in touch with Crayon Freckles on Facebook to get daily post previews and hear about other great activities! You can also follow Crayon Freckles on Pinterest and Twitter.
Check out Why Does My Teen?, which is an informational site for the parents teens.

Turkey image via NRC Design Studio

Friday, October 24, 2014

Welcoming Little Miss Sunny

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It occurred to me the other day that I had never properly introduced our new little one.... Life has been crazy these past 4 months as we've adjusted to life with 3. 

Her birth was an easy one.  I actually wasn't even sure that I was actually in labor until the contractions started coming less than 5 minutes apart.  We ended up speeding to the hospital in the wee hours.  She was born about 15 minutes after we got to the hospital.  I'm very thankful that we didn't wait any longer to go, or she would've been born in the car. The most amazing part was that she was born in the caul.  That's where the baby is born in the amniotic sac.  So glad I didn't wait for my water to break, because it never did!

Since her birth, I've been trying to keep my head above water in all things domestic.  There's always a load of laundry to wash or fold, dishes to put away, clutter to pick up, or floors to clean.  I keep telling myself that I'll get back to blogging regularly, but it just hasn't worked out that way.  I know that you understand completely when I say that there aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done that I want to.  For right now, being a momma and loving on this little angel is my main focus, so I hope you all understand.  But there will be a new post every week, so make sure that you're still stopping by to check.
 
 
 
 
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Check out Why Does My Teen?, which is an informational site for the parents teens.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

25 Monster Activities for Kids

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Monsters have an appeal year round, but this time of year, monster activities are in high demand around these parts.  Monster activities for kids can be presented in various ways... As art, sensory experiences, science experiments, math, and more!
 
 
 
Here are some fun and educational monster activities for preschoolers from some of my favorite bloggers. 
 

Sort by colors with this easy to prep Hungry Monster color sort game from Two Da Loo.
Get the ball rolling with a game of monster bowling. {Craft, Interrupted}
Practice letter sounds with this Feed the Monster Language Game from Totally Tots.
Have some creative finger fun and make monster finger puppets. {No Time for Flashcards}
Spook up math practice with monsters like The Measured Mom did.

 

Practice color sorting with this monster eyeball sorting game like Prekinders did. 
Use these fun monster face printables to create your own monster magnet activity. {Ziggity Zoom}
Put on your own puppet show with these free monster puppet printables from Picklebums.
Break out the markers and water bottle and make these colorful monster prints like Housing a Forest.
Grab a sandwich, then make these bread tag monsters inspired by Inner Child Fun.
 
 

Get a little messy and do this fuzzy monster craft from No Time for Flashcards.
Work on both small motor skills and colors with this monster munch game from LalyMom.
Grab the stickers and go on a monster letter hunt. {Little Family Fun}
Use these free printables from The Creative Paige to make a build your own monster face game.
Break out the playdough and make playdough monsters.
 
 

Practice ABCs by doing this feed the monster game from I Can Teach My Child.
Work on math skills with this fun monster math tray from No Time for Flashcards.
If you're a monster and you know it, check out this smash art project from Totally Tots.
Connect the dots to create one of a kind monster dot drawings. {Little Family Fun}
Roll up your sleeves and bake some monster cookies like Reading Confetti did.



Get your hands dirty with this awesome monster slime from 123 Homeschool 4 Me.
Dig up some rocks from the garden and craft these rock monsters inspired by Kayboo Creations.
Use this free printable game from Happy Brown House to build your own monster.
Use the playdough to create monsters and practice math skills. {Learn with Play at Home}
Craft a milk jug monster inspired by Learn ~ Play ~ Imagine.
 




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Friday, July 25, 2014

3 Fun Activities to do with Pool Noodles

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When I first saw some gorgeous, flower shaped pool noodles at our local cheap store I knew I just had to buy them.

 
1. Create a pool noodle phone
Before I could even begin to come up with ideas on what to do with them Bubbles came up with her own idea. Do you remember the old tin can and string phones? The ones you have to keep taut or the sound doesn't carry? Well, Bubbles came up with a simple phone that most toddlers could use even if they don't hold them taut: Simply talk into one pool noodle and listen through the other! So simple a 3year old thought of it!



2. Paint with pool noodle cut offs
I loved the shape of the pool noodles so much I asked Numnut to cut a 10cm length off of each. I then paired them up with a dish of matching paint and let Bubbles paint with them.


3. Thread pool noodle beads
The final idea I want to share with you was again inspired by Bubbles. After observing Bubbles threading her pool noodle paint stampers onto a shoe lace I asked Numnut to cut me six 2cm wide beads from each coloured pool noodle, this meant I had enough beads for Bubbles to play with and the noodles are still long enough to play phones with or even take swimming!

 
If you want to read more about what we do, please visit my blog, Squiggles and Bubbles, I'd love to have you!

Victoria is a stay-at-home-mum of two beautiful girls (3.5 years and 16 months). Currently studying her Bachelor in Early Childhood she is also the voice of the blog, Squiggles and Bubbles where she shares all the fun they get up to during the day.  You can also find her on:  Google+          Pinterest          Facebook  

Monday, July 21, 2014

How to Help Children Eat Vegetables

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Do mealtimes sometimes feel like you’re taking the proverbial horse to water but it refuses to drink? Or rather eat vegetables? If your children are anything like mine, getting them to eat a healthy, balanced diet (or more specifically vegetables) is a bit of a mission. I lovingly prepare a healthy dinner, packed full of vegetables and what happens? There are cries of “yuck” and “I don’t like pasta, I only like spaghetti” or “Why did you put so many vegetables in it?” ‘it’ being the vegetable pasta.

At times, I wonder if it’s worth the effort. But I know it is. I know that if I instill healthy eating habits now, my children have a much greater chance of continuing those habits into adulthood. A lifetime of healthy eating, greatly reduces your chances of getting some pretty nasty diseases. Obviously obesity is linked to diet (and all its complications of which some like heart and lung failure are actually life threatening.) But there are also others, certain cancers, which are linked to diet. And not life threatening, but very common and not very pleasant is constipation.

So yes, I know that teaching my children healthy habits is worth while. But amidst those cries of “not more vegetables” and “I want more ham”, how does one go about not loosing your sanity or your temper?
 
Look at the big picture
The first thing I would advise, is to look at the bigger picture. Take the zen approach to veggies! That particular pea or carrot is not worth arguing over. Children usually win the “Battle of the Pea”. They are stubborn and you can’t beat them. The crosser you get, the more they refuse. Look at the bigger picture. You’re trying to teach them habits for life. In the same way that teaching them to swim or ride a bike doesn’t happen over night, nor does healthy eating. Some children (not mine) will naturally choose healthy foods, but the majority prefer sweets and ice cream, which is fine from time to time, but shouldn’t be ‘always’.
 
Do it together
Eating healthily together is another great way to help children grow up with good eating habits. Children learn by copying what they see. If they see their parents eating healthily and enjoying it, they will eventually join in. I know, I know, meal times with young children can be noisy, boisterous affairs but stick at it, they’re only little once. (And I know that this can be difficult for people due to working patterns, but do it as often as you can and if that’s not very often, make a celebration of it.)
 
Get them involved
Eating and cooking healthy food doesn’t have to be time consuming or expensive. Actually, it probably works out cheaper to cook from scratch than using all those not so healthy packet options. Get the kids involved. Mine love making apple crumble (which is essentially cooked up apples with a bit of topping.) Not only is it cheap and easy to make, it’s nutritious and much better for you than most of those puddings that come in pots. (And for some reason my kids think it’s great fun to eat the apples whilst we make it, a bit like licking the cake mix off a spoon but actually just nibbling around the cores.)
 
Variety is the key
Another great trick is to offer them a variety of healthy things to eat, dips and raw vegetables is a great way to start. It seems to work by bamboozling them with choice. They seem to forget that they ‘don’t like carrots’ and try them amongst all the other things. Last week my 3 year old even ate celery. (OK, he didn’t today but trying it is a start.)
 
There are loads of tricks and tips to try. Stick at it, don’t loose heart and you’ll get there in the end.

 

Dr Orlena Kerek is a pediatrician and mother of 4 young children (still small enough to fit in the bath together). She has a website that focuses on what to do when your baby is ill at snotty-noses.com and blogs about raising healthy happy children at snotty-noses.com/blog/. She has a special interest in helping children eat a healthy diet. If you sign up to her newsletter, you’ll get a free copy of 30 Tips to get your Kids to Eat and LOVE Vegetables. You can find her here on Facebook.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

How to Talk about Faith with Children

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this post contains affiliate links

Recently, a friend was in a quandary about choosing the right school to provide a religious education for her children. She explained that she doesn’t feel that she knows enough to provide that sort of education for her children. I can relate. I don’t feel equipped nor do I know how or where to start teaching my children about Jesus and God. The important thing is that I start. I need to make the effort. We can learn together. 

I found a great book to get us started on our spiritual journey.  It is God and Me, a child-centered way of learning about God’s love by Penny Boshoff. It features pictures of real kids doing real kid things. There are 365 daily devotions, a prayer, and a simplified bible scripture with its location in the bible.  



Every day, my daughters and I begin our time by predicting what they think our devotional is about based upon the picture. Next, we read and discuss the devotional. I ask lots of questions to generate discussions, check for understanding, and clear up anything they aren’t sure about. We read the scripture provided and talk about what it means. Then, I locate the scripture in my Bible. I have explained to my girls that scripture has its own special address/location similar to our house. We read and discuss the actual scripture. Lastly, we pray the prayer for the day. At the end of our day, I revisit what we learned during devotional time and ask how they were able to use what we learned throughout their day. This process doesn’t take much time. We spend maybe 10 minutes doing it. For us, it works. My girls are 3 and 5, so their attention spans are limited.
I hope this helps those of you who aren’t sure where to begin. For those of you, who have a great way of teaching your kiddos, please share. We would love your ideas to help us on our parenting and spiritual journeys.


Rebecca Rodriguez is a stay at home mom of two incredible girls. Previously a first grade teacher, she uses her skills as an educator to help navigate this adventure called parenting.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Rain Activities for Kids

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Living in the Midwest, we get our fair share of summer rainstorms.  Often times, we find ourselves hunkered down in the basement because said storms are accompanied by tornadoes.  That's what makes these rain activities for kids so much fun... They allow us to explore this element of nature in a way that makes it less threatening and scary when we are faced with it in real life.  Check out these amazing play and learning rain activities for kids!
 

Create rain in a glass using two simple items everyone has at home.
Mimic the noise the rain makes by making rain sticks like Danya Banya.
Partner up with the rain outside to create these rainy day splatter paintings from mama.papa.bubba.
Grab the cotton balls and glue so kids can create these cute rain mobiles from Learning 4 Kids. 
Reuse an empty plastic bottle to create a rainstick sensory bottle for little hands and ears to explore.
 
 
 
Let the rain wash some color into your kiddo's collages using this technique.
Get hands-on exploring raindrops using this super fun technique with cotton balls.
Let your little scientists explore and create their own rain in a jar like Learn Play Imagine did.
Experiment with the rain and various materials the way that A Mom with a Lesson Plan did.
Use this rainy day rhythm free printable pack to play from Let's Play Music some rainy day games.
 
 

Go on a rain walk and do experiments with the rain inspired by this post at Mom With a Lesson Plan.
Making a rain sensory bottle will provide for lots of quiet hands on fun for your little one.
Kiddos can get some great fine motor skill practice with these free printable weather lacing cards.
Rain paint with powdered paints and use them to rain paint the way that Housing a Forest did. 
Create drip art with 3D raindrops inspired by these from De Tout et de Rien.
 
 
 
Measure the rainfall in your area with a homemade rain gauge like the Imagination Tree did.
Grab one item from the garage and make these awesome rain chains inspired by Dollar Store Crafts. 
Create these rain suncatchers based on the book The Falling Rain Drop like 3 Dinosaurs did.
If there's not rain outside, try some indoor puddle jumping.
Dig through the recycling bin for what you need to make your own rain using this tip.

 
After looking at all of these activities and our forecast for the week, I'm actually anxious for us to get some rain so we can go outside and try some of them!  What's your favorite rainy activity to do? 

 
Keep in touch with Crayon Freckles on Facebook to get daily post previews and hear about other great activities! You can also follow Crayon Freckles on Pinterest and Twitter.
Check out Why Does My Teen?, which is an informational site for the parents teens.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Watching You Grow

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There is something magical about watching a child grow up; going from helpless infant to little person and beyond. During the day to day life, it's sometimes hard to take a step back and realize how much of a blessing it is to be involved in the life of a child in such a significant way. But it's also so important that we do take that time.
Every stage of development brings some new delight and it's amazing to watch. I've enjoyed something about every step on this journey thus far (and then there were parts that weren't so enjoyable, but I'm trying to think positively here!).

As an infant, when I would hold her in my arms and feed her before putting her into her crib, the room was darkened but I could still see her, holding my finger with her little hand, and I remember thinking, "I'm going to miss these days." And I was right. I loved watching her learn to roll over, and sit up, and crawl, and then walk. I loved how, as she became a toddler, she could be entertained and amused by just about anything. Fussy while we're out? Just hand her some keys. Getting underfoot while trying to make dinner? Here, take some pots and a spoon and have a blast.
 
Even those "terrible" twos weren't so bad. (I say now...) The thing I liked about it was that if I paid close enough attention, I could see what she was getting mad or frustrated about and it helped to understand her. One day she dumped all her toys out of a small toy box but before yelling,  I watched her, and she flipped the box over to climb up and reach something. It was actually a very creative thing to do and I wouldn't have known it if I'd just flown off the handle at her dumping her toys all over the floor. I loved how she would get excited to see a bus or a dog. I loved watching her play outside, finding a leaf or a stick, and I would think,  This is what kids her age have done since kids were invented.
 

 
At three you could have a conversation with her. She was much more opinionated but that just means she had her own ideas. There was more area for reasoning with her, where with a younger toddler you're just wasting your breath trying to explain why they can't do something. And I got to watch as she cut with scissors for the first time. And she was fully potty trained by then and starting to put her own clothes on. She wanted (and still wants) to do everything herself and I'm proud of her independence.
 
And now she's four, no longer a toddler, but a real kid, running, riding her bike and her scooter. She tells stories and remembers things (for better or worse). I love how excited she gets when she writes a letter the right way for the first time and she runs around the house, stopping to tell each person, the thrill in her voice never wavering. I'm proud of who she is and I wonder who she will be become.
 
And I look forward to all the ages and stages that we'll still get to experience. Together.
 

Emma Craig blogs at P is for Preschooler and tries to keep up with an active 5 year old.  She believes in simple play and playful learning.  Her daughter often has other ideas!  You can find them on Facebook and Pinterest.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Moments Matter: June Photo Prompts

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Last month, I shared the new Moments Matter monthly photo challenge.  The concept of the photo challenge is to focus on the small details of our days and to connect with our loved ones in the midst of our hectic lives.  Because it's in these little moments that life happens, love is shared, and memories are made. 
 
There are several ways you can join me in this project:
  • Use the photo prompts to capture moments in your day that fit them.  Join me on Instagram and share them or keep them for just you and your family to enjoy.
  • You can also use the prompts as inspiration for activities for you to do with your children. 
  • If you can’t participate every day, no worries.  Just post when the prompts speak to you and relate to the moments in your day.
  • Share whatever photos you like with the tag #momentsmatter to share the special moments in your day.
  Here are the photo prompts for this month:

 

Don't forget to use the hashtag #momentsmatter when you share!  See you on Instagram!
 
 
Keep in touch with Crayon Freckles on Facebook to get daily post previews and hear about other great activities! You can also follow Crayon Freckles on Pinterest and Twitter.
Check out Why Does My Teen?, which is an informational site for the parents teens.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

5 Tips for Taking Great DIY Maternity Photos

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Pregnancy is such an amazing journey.  And it goes by so amazingly fast.  There are so many amazing maternity photos out there and even more extremely talented photographers able to take those photos.  But professional shoots and photos can be pricey.  And if you're anything like me, that type of thing can also be a bit awkward feeling (being the center of a stranger's attention).  If you're thinking of giving it a go yourself, here are a few tips for taking great DIY maternity photos.

Dressers and children can make the best photographers.
Don't think that you absolutely have to have a tripod.  A dresser, stool, or countertop can do just as well to set your camera on. Another method if you've got the time to let them experiment, is to give your kiddo the camera and invite them to take pictures of Momma's belly.  They're at just the right height and their perspective and ability just might surprise you.  This is an example of a free shot taken by Bear {5.5}.  All I had to do was crop it down a bit.
Set the self-timer.
For the book shot below, I set the camera on Bear's dresser, turned the self-timer with the continuous shot setting.  I focused the camera on where I would be sitting.  After pressing the shutter button, I ran to the bed, quickly found my position, and sat there.  Using the self-timer function can require a quick dash to your pose position, but it works for simple pictures.
Send a message.
Make a statement in your photos by holding a book, sign, or handwritten note that means something to you.  The message can geared towards your new child or a message to family and friend who are viewing the pictures.  For the image below, I chose the book Oh, The Places You'll Go!  You could also use books like Love You Forever or Guess How Much I Love You.

Keep it light and simple.
Lighting and wardrobe choice are important.  I chose Bear's bedroom which gets the best light in the house in the afternoon.  The light in there is bright and clean without being direct sunlight, which could make the colors and shadows really harsh.  I also chose an outfit that was fairly plain, fitted around the tummy, and coordinated well with the surroundings.

Editing does wonders.
Editing.  It can do amazing things to photos.  Don't let editing intimidate you.  I couldn't navigate Photoshop if my life depended on it.  I love the site PicMonkey to edit photos.  It's easy to use and most of the functions are free. {Though I will say that the paid version of $4.99 a month is well worth it for the amount that I use it.}

Using just a few functions, I was able to convert this picture below from a quick, candid shot into a photo that I'll treasure for years to come.  To achieve this, I first converted the image to black and white.  Then in the "Exposure" section, I increased the shadows and contrast until the shelves on the right side were virtually gone.  Then I used the clone function to mark out any existing light spots.  To make the shoes colored, I used the Lip Tint to color them in. 
Once you're past the maternity stage and have that adorable newborn to take photos of, use these great newborn photography tips from MamaSmiles.  I'm excited for these ones, too.  I've already got some great props made and ideas set up!



Keep in touch with Crayon Freckles on Facebook to get daily post previews and hear about other great activities! You can also follow Crayon Freckles on Pinterest and Twitter.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Jungle Activities for Preschoolers

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A while back, I found some super cute jungle animal erasers in the dollar section at Target.  We've used them in several activities, but these jungle ones were Bear's favorites.  {I'm super late in posting these activities.  They were done when Bear was 4 yrs old}
 
To practice fine motor skills, I mixed the erasers and some shredded green paper in a tub.  Bear got to "save" the animals by using kitchen tongs. 
 
After he had saved all of the animals from the trouble in the jungle, he sorted them out by type in a muffin tin to practice some basic math skills.
 
We also explored pattern-making with the animal erasers.  I started each pattern by placing 4 erasers down.  Then Bear was able to complete the patterns using the rest of the erasers.  I set patterns in AB/AB, ABB/ABB, and ABC/ABC format. 
 
Once we were done with those activities, Bear even came up with one of his own using animal-striped craft pom poms, two of his plastic giraffes, a beaded necklace, and a plastic tub.  Jungle ball was easy to play and very fun because he got such a kick out of the fact that he made up an activity for me to do.  The goal was to throw the little craft balls through the necklace the giraffes were holding and have it land in the plastic tub behind them.
  
We actually ended up doing this activity for the longest of them all.  It was fun and challenging for both of us.  Again, I think the most fun part of it was the fact that he came up with the idea.
 
 
 
Keep in touch with Crayon Freckles on Facebook to get daily post previews and hear about other great activities! You can also follow Crayon Freckles on Pinterest and Twitter.
Check out Why Does My Teen?, which is an informational site for the parents teens.
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