You are probably looking for various ways to keep your children busy but at the same time, you want these activities not to cause a gigantic mess? Say no more.
(Guest post-- Alex Farley)
Most parents are feeling worried whether they would be able to clean the mess after a craft project, for example. I know out of a personal experience that there are many fun activities which often turn into an apocalypse.
No matter how many times you tell your kids to be careful, your words go in at one ear, out at the other. Kids will be kids. I am here to share with you a number of tips which I hope to come in handy. Roll up your sleeves.
Take the fun activities outside
If the weather allows it, there is no better place to play than outdoors. My kids can spend hours playing in the sandbox, for an example. I love this option because when they are done playing, it is so much easier to clean after them. Even if it is a craft project, it takes me a couple of minutes to clean up. Of course, it depends on the activity but can you imagine what it could be if the kids play with sand or water inside?
Make sure to cover the play area
Trust me, the best way to accomplish mess-free crafting is to cover the entire area where your kids play. For instance, you can cover it with a blanket or a shower curtain. There is another plus- you can easily toss the blanket in the washing machine, or wipe down the shower curtain when the play is over.
Take advantage of the bathtub
If the weather does not allow outdoor activities, my children are used to be playing… in the bath. No, I am not kidding. Initially, I thought it was ridiculous but I got sick and tired of the mess so I had to take action. Because I am the only one who deals with the housework, I took matters into my own hands.
Since that moment, my kids use the bath as a vessel. To be honest, it is the ideal playground for messy kids because the bathtub contains all the mess. Once they are done crafting or playing, I just run the water till the mess is gone. You should definitely try it!
Washable art supplies
Have you thought about replacing the art supplies with washable ones? If you want to keep your children’s clothes from getting stained, you should take my advice. Since my kids use only washable art supplies, I can easily wash their clothes without me having to worry whether the stains would come out or not.
Limit the materials for a mess free crafting
In the very beginning, I did not think that this trick could actually turn out to be efficient. But still, I decided to try it out. I gave my children materials in small amounts. They love drawing and crafting a lot. So I provide them with a small amount of paint, and I do not add more till the first supply is completely gone. This trick does minimise the mess because kids do no romp about.
The ugly truth is that no matter how many times you tell your kids to be more careful, no matter what kinds of measures you take, there will be always a mess in the presence of kids. Anyway, if you are concerned about the mess you have to clean instead of enjoying your time with your kids, you deprive yourselves of the fun. :)
YOU MIGHT ALSO BE INTERESTED IN:
Updated and reposted from April 3, 2017
'Presentation is Everything.'
Simple ideas to create an elegant Easter table arrangement
Do you have family visiting for Easter? Whether you're planning your Easter celebrations for just your own immediate family or an extended gathering of friends and family, a beautiful table arrangement really sets the scene for a perfect Easter celebration.
Now, this can be daunting consideration. But, don't feel you need to spend hours preparing a lovely display. I've found a collection of ideas, from a simple minimal approach to an amazing table overflowing with delight.
You may have decided to go with a separate table for the kids. That's fine. I've got that covered, too. So, just click through the images and find the table creation that appeals to you and your needs. There is a link on each image to the original and the instructions.
And remember, you can add to or simplify the original concept or substitute items where necessary.
Just as an example, this Easter arrangement took minutes to prepare.
3 SIMPLE STEPS TO CREATE AN EASTER TABLE DECORATION
STEP 1. Buy an Easter wreath. Yes, you can make your own but I didn't have time and you can find them everywhere.
STEP 2. Place the wreath in the centre of the table.
STEP 3. Add a floral arrangement to the centre of the wreath, candles, or an apothecary jar filled with eggs. (You can buy a floral arrangement or make your own.)
And that's it! Done. Simple.
Check out the other beautiful and creative ideas below.
There are many other ideas from truly creative people, and I gathered some to show you, that will inspire you and provide some simple, yet beautiful solutions. From fun-filled kids' table arrangements to elegant designs to outdoor dining ideas, you'll find something in the following collection that, I'm sure, will help you create your own Easter table arrangement.
This amazing list of Easter Table Decorations can also be viewed on Listly.
Or... check out the collection of Easter Table Decor YouTube clips below.
And... as an added bonus, why not plan to include Easter themed table serviettes.
You'll find links to the instruction below.
Yes, there's more..
If you're looking for other Easter ideas and inspiration, then check out myEaster Pinterest board. Are you planning an Easter Egg Hunt? Here are some tips. And if you'd like an Easter that allowed you time to focus on what really matters, download my free book below, Stress-Free Easter.
Why not sign up below for VIP access to my library of FREE resources, where you'll find plenty more books, downloads and family resources?
I was looking through our family photos recently... Sigh.. Where did the years go? How did our kids grow up so quickly? Those were fun times and I'm so glad we took time for family outings, adventures and moments that matter. We built unforgettable memories into our lives. But I noticed that, almost without fail, we finished our adventures with ice-cream.
(Yep... affiliate links are included which means, if you buy through me, I get some coffee money ... though not enough for the raisin toast as well. Full disclosure listed below.)
Sure, it was messy.
I loved and laughed at the photos of our kids standing with ice-cream dripping to the elbow or the ones of the scoop of ice-cream spattered on the ground. Yes.. you're right. Not so much fun- and the dismay on the kids' faces was tragic.. but humorous, too.
We all love ice-cream but I've noticed that, with so many on restrictive diets or watching their weight, we haven't been enjoying ice-cream as we used to. The good news is that ice-cream has become healthy! Yes, truly!
And sure.. you may have noticed a growing number of healthy choice ice-creams in the supermarkets but it's even better to make your own. And it means that you can include your favourite flavours, and avoid anything that is a health issue for you and your family.
Take gluten for instance. I'd almost given up on ice-cream. It's included in so many commercially produced ice-cream and I can't handle gluten. But there are wonderful recipes available now that do not included gluten..or dairy. And the recipes are soooo easy.
So.... how do you begin to make your own healthy ice-creams?
Start with frozen fruit.
Strawberries, blueberries, peaches, and banana make great frozen fruit choices when you’re making a healthy smooth ice-cream. Put them in your blender along with a little nut milk or coconut cream. Alternatively, use a bit of coconut yogurt and either enough ripe fruit to sweeten the smoothie or a little natural sweetener like agave, honey, or maple syrup. Blend it all up, going light on the nut milk and adding just enough to get the consistency you like.
Use a recipe book or create your own favourite natural ice-cream recipes
Frozen banana blended with milk and a little vanilla extract tastes and feels very much like vanilla ice cream. It’s a great base for any ice-cream or even a thick shake. Add some other frozen fruits like strawberry, peaches, and even pineapple for a delicious treat.
Of course you don’t have to stick to only fruit. Avocado is a surprisingly tasty and nutritious addition to any ice-cream. It works well with organic cacao powder and, with a bit of natural sweeter, will give you that creamy, smooth flavour and texture.
Don't stop there... add other dairy-free ingredients.
Adding peanut butter also gives a lot of body and a smooth texture to your ice-cream. If you like a good peanut butter chocolate ice-cream, use the suggestions above, but add a spoon of peanut butter to the mix before you blend it all up. Chopped nuts add texture and a lovely flavour or you might like to stir through gluten-free biscuits, ginger, vanilla or even chocolate chip, broken into small pieces. Margie Broadhead creates a gluten-free cookie dough and adds it to a healthy peanut butter ice-cream in her book, Nice Cream. Mmmm... delicious!
Ice is another great addition to any ice-cream that will thicken it up and give it that ice cream feel without any added calories. Play around with how much ice you add to your blender, and make sure you have a blender that can handle grinding down and blending in ice cubes. Go easy on the liquids and keep blending. For a thick, creamy ice-cream, you need a lot less liquid than you may think.
Pour it into your ice-cream tub and refreeze. Or you might like to pour the ice-cream into individual moulds for the kids. Above all, have fun, blend away, and create some yummy frozen treats.
Oh... and remember to take the ice-cream from the freezer about 20 minutes before you need it so that it's easy to scoop out and serve.
Now if you'd like a bit of added help, check out the videos below.
You'll find more ideas and step by step instructions in this Best Collection: Natural Ice-creams and How to Make Them.
I hope you enjoy them.... and try them yourself. You'll find that they are incredibly easy.. and incredibly delicious.
Disclosure: At Grandma's Place is committed to high standards of integrity and quality. I do not promote any brand I do not believe meets these standards, and I only promote brands I would purchase myself.
If I don't love it, and don't think you'll love it, it won't appear on my blog.
Counting down to Christmas is always so much fun.. especially for kids. And an Advent Calendar really helps to make that lead-up time to Christmas more tangible, more comprehensible. It also means that you don't have to answer the ongoing question, "How long until Christmas? When can we unwrap all the presents?"
Why use an Advent calendar?
Sure, an advent calendar looks great as part of your festive decorations as you gradually add, day by day, to the finished calendar. It can add to the Christmas fun. It can be used to keep the focus of Christmas on the birth of the Saviour. And, depending on your choice of calendar, it can help your kids focus on the joy of giving and serving others, too.
What do I need to consider when choosing an advent calendar?
Well, there are plenty of commercially prepared advent calendars. Some would make lovely gift ideas for friends or family. Some commercially prepared advent calendars present small gifts for each day leading up to Christmas. Some are simple thin boxes with perforated windows with a hidden recess for a small chocolate for each day leading up to Christmas. Others are books with windows or flaps to reveal something of the nativity story as Christmas approaches.
Create a family tradition- your own advent calendar
An advent calendar is even more meaningful if you can make it yourself and personalise it as a family legacy. The treats and activities created for and added to your advent calendar can revolve around the interests, activities and favourite choices of your family.
And you can create variations for each year.
So, here are a number of such suggestions listed below that you might like to consider.
The Dainty Bauble Advent Calendar (find the link for this advent calendar below) is easy to print and create. Use the back of the decoration to either: a. write a Scripture verse on the reverse b.include a fun activity c. provide instructions or clues to find a hidden treat or d. include all ideas.
You might decide to just attach a small wrapped chocolate or treat to the reverse of the decoration. Or you may keep it simple and glue a second copy of the decoration to the reverse for extra strength and durability.
However you decide to personalise it, this advent calendar combines the elegance of the past with the energy and minimalism of the future. It's sure to become a family treasure.
What you'll need:
*Download and print the files for the 25 decorations. (Print onto a good quality card. You might also want to consider a good parchment or linen textured card.)
*silver cording for the hanger and perhaps paper clips.
* double-sided tape and normal tape.
*small Christmas tree that will look attractive on the table or side table.
1. Download, print and cut out each of the 25 advent calendar decorations. Use a good quality card and it looks even better if it has a light texture. Print and cut out a second copy if you intend to back each decoration with its twin. It means that it looks great even if the wind blows the decoration to reveal the back. Leave the back blank if you intend writing something on the back or attaching a small treat.
2. Cut a hole in each tab and thread a small piece of silver cord through the hole as the hanger.
3. If you prefer to have a hanger that's a big more substantial (especially if your kids will be hanging the decorations) you might like to use a paper clip for each decoration. Just tape the paper clip on the back with the loop just visible above the rim of the decoration.
Use a second copy of the decoration and attach on the back to cover the taped paper clip. I used double-sided tape. it's just a bit neater. Sometimes glue can cause the card to slightly buckle. Now slip a piece of thin cord through the loop of the paper clip as the hanger.
4. You don't have to add anything else but if you want, you can write a Scripture verse on the back or a clue to where to find the day's treat. You can also decide on a fun activity for each day: sing your favourite Christmas carol, go out for ice-cream, decorate a gingerbread cottage.. If you don't want to add that info on the back of the decoration, just use slips of paper with the activity or treat written on each piece. Pop all of the papers into a small bucket or container. Your kids can reach in and choose one each day to read and complete.
5. Set up your small tabletop Christmas tree and start adding one decoration each day leading up to Christmas Day. I found an inexpensive tree at Kmart for about $10. There was a lovely natural-looking bare tree at another store but it was expensive. I think you could make something similar with a good sized branch set into a pot of plaster of Paris.
So.. that's about it.... pretty simple... and you can check out the summary slideshow below.
Oh... and you can find a FREE pair of Christmas decorations to download and print for your own Christmas tree. Normally, these vintage-inspired decorations would cost $4.95 but they're free for you to download, print and use. See below.
Here are some more ideas that you might like to consider.
FocusontheFamily has produced a free advent calendar, O Holy Night, plus instructions for an advent wreath.
Download and print the calendar. Then highlight each day leading up to Christmas with a character from the nativity story plus a Scripture reading and devotion. Beginning December 3, your advent calendar builds a nativity scene with the daily characters from the advent calendar.
You'll also find a suggestion for creating an advent wreath to remind your family of God's never-ending faithfulness.
Find it here...
Share the love advent calendar: this resource from iMom focuses on building a legacy of giving with your family.
Each day you'll find sweet and selfless ideas to help your kids experience real Christmas joy through the spirit of giving.
Find it here..
This Christmas countdown is also a puzzle and provides a daily treat and activity idea.
Download the printable calendar. Then use the instructions to create an advent calendar that must be assembled day-by-day to reveal a beautiful Christmas decor piece. On the back of each card, you'll hide a treat and an activity.
Find it here...
This advent pack includes 5 weeks of family devotions that focus on a different carol each week.
There are 5 colouring pages that combine to tell the story of Jesus' birth and the advent calendar with fun family activities.
Instructions for creating and illustrated advent wreath with paper candles complete the fun family advent pack.
Find it here...
This updated article 'Creating a New Christmas tradition' was previously published November, 2014.
"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time." -- Laura Ingalls Wilder
Christmas, for most families, is a time of family traditions.
What Christmas traditions does your family hold to and treasure?
When my children were young, our Christmas traditions involved bright Christmas carols playing while decorating the tree, setting up the nativity scene, the advent calendar activities and daily Bible readings, the train trip to the city to view the department stores' animated displays, Christmas in Story & Song at our church and more.
Yes, it was a busy time but, in many ways, it was simple and unhurried. And the emphasis was definitely on the birth of the Saviour.
But times have changed and my kids are grown.
Fun Family Christmas Traditions
Now, as a grandparent, the traditions of Christmas are just a bit quieter. Maybe you're the same. Maybe you're looking forward to celebrating Christmas with a bevy of grandchildren. Hey, there's no reason why your time with your grandkids now can't be every bit as memorable and meaningful as when life was bursting at the seams with Christmas excitement and activity.
But how? What can I do?
But I guess you're wondering how, amongst all the frenetic activity of Christmas can you, as a grandparent, create a family tradition that will emphasise the real message of Christmas?
I was asking myself the same question when I happened to watch the latest clip from the SkitGuys...You can watch it below or via the link: see here.
The Search for the Saviour
The idea is simple: hide the Baby Jesus from your nativity scene and create a set of clues to help your grandchildren find the Saviour. Tailor your clues to the age of your grandchildren. If they're quite small, draw pictures with hints of where to look. Add some simple directional signs- large cards with printed arrows or footprints. Provide more cryptic clues for older kids or use Scripture verses for added levels of difficulty.
But, don't stop there...
Read the Christmas story together
Once your grandkids have found the Saviour, read one of the many wonderful storybooks of the Christmas story. Here's a couple of suggestions with links to where you can find them.
* Read Aloud Bible Stories Vol 3. Award-winning publication for young children filled with simple stories with big illustrations.
*The Jesus Storybook Bible.... where every story whispers His name.
*Jed And Roy McCoy.. One of the Lost Sheep series. A Bible storybook that the whole family will enjoy.
* If you're Missing Baby Jesus.. A true story that will unwrap the warmth of the real meaning of
Also, check out the review of Friends with God StoryBible. I think you and your grandkids will enjoy it.
You may be wondering about other tradition-building Christmas fun
Well, how about
There are so many other fun family ideas for building Christmas traditions.
If you're looking for other ideas, download and use this Christmas activity checklist.
Begin a new tradition this year with your grandkids that is not only fun, but places the focus on the real meaning of the festive season.
If you're looking for even more ideas, download and use this Christmas activity checklist to make more moments that matter for your family.
Do you know how to create a regular storybook time with your kids or grandkids that will have them demanding more?
Reading provides so many more benefits than just a time-filler before bed. And it can be so much fun if you do it right! Not only will you help create wonderful family memories, your kids will develop a delight of books and reading. But there are plenty of other benefits, too.
So... why is it important to read to kids?
You may think it's just something that you do at bedtime when your kids are small. Or maybe, you're thinking that it's something that teachers will do with your children so you can just forget about this activity as your kids get older.
Reading to your kids, at any age, has so many benefits; in fact, reading will help children:
And, don't stop as your children grow. It's still important and something they will continue to enjoy as you share books, reading and adventures with them. You'd be surprised how a regular reading time creates one of those amazing 'moments that matter' activities that your kids or grandkids will remember and treasure.
But you may be worried about how to do this storybook time, or how to make it interesting for them.?
How can I improve my reading aloud to my kids?
Let's run through some simple ideas as we look at Fearless, by Colin Thompson; a wonderful book for kids 4 years and up. You can find a small intro clip for Fearless below.
Choose a good book. In this case, it's Fearless; but find something that will appeal to the age and interests of your kids.It should be fun, and you should enjoy it. Remember, if you're enjoying it, so will your kids. Books are usually displayed in libraries or bookstores according to age groups so that will help with selecting something suitable.
Read it through a few times before you read aloud to your kids. If you're planning to do some activities after reading, prepare your resources beforehand. The book, Fearless, deals with emotions and in particular, fear. Print off the free emotions cards below to use during and after your reading time.
Make sure everyone is comfortable. You might decide to set up a special reading area, and that's great, but it's not essential. You can read on the lounge, on the bed, toss some beanbags on the floor and read there... whatever works for you. If you're reading to little ones, they need to see the book. They will probably want to sit on your lap or lean against you. Remember, as they watch you read the book, they are learning important aspects of reading: books are read from left to right, the printed words correlate to spoken words, pictures provide context clues and more.
Display the cover of your book and discuss what the kids think it might be about.
Read the book more slowly than you would normally speak. Add expression as you read: lower your volume for scary parts or when the character is being careful, whisper when a character is trying to hide, smile while you're reading fun parts (listeners will hear it in your voice), use different voices for different characters etc.
Gauge the content you read for the listeners. In other words, you can leave things out. The book, Fearless, has a couple of pages with a lot of text. For smaller children, I'd probably skip some of the sentences and just read the important ones.
You can stop and ask questions while you're reading if you think something needs clarification. For instance, you might ask, "How do you know that Fearless was happy?" "What was making Fearless scared?"
You'll probably find that you'll be asked to read it again, as soon as you finish. That's fine! But first, spread out the emotions cards and talk about the different feelings. Ask your kids about times when they have felt sad, happy or scared.
Now this time, as you read the story of Fearless, ask your kids to locate and hold up the emotion pictures that show how Fearless or the family might have been feeling. (You can reuse this activity and cads for other books, too.)
Now, ask if any of your kids would like to read the story. Don't worry if they can't read, yet. Show the pictures and they can tell you what was happening in the story. It will be a simple paraphrase, but that's fine. It's a great way to develop a grasp of story sequencing.
Finish with a game of memory with the emotions cards.
On their own
The book, Fearless, also deals with the importance of names. Fearless seems to be an inappropriate name at the start of the story but he lives up to his name at the end... sort of.
Use this book to talk about names, and why each child was given their particular name and what it means. There are plenty of activities listed below that encourage kids to learn about names, letters and how to write their own name. Choose a couple of these activities for your kids to work on themselves.
So now, you're a pro. You have the skills to create wonderful moments that matter at bedtime or whenever you choose to schedule regular reading time with kids. And... you'll be setting up your kids for a life-long love of reading and learning. Jacqueline Kennedy once commented: 'There are many little ways to enlarge your child's world. Love of books is the best of all.'
You also might like to download the FREE GUIDE- Early Reader Essentials from ReadBrightly.
For more creative family ideas, get your free access to At Grandma's Place library below.
Anne specialises in helping you create moments that matter for you and your family.
Grab more simple family ideas and resources now.
Life as a grandma.. it's no 'quiet, restful days in the rocking-chair'. It's filled with activity, excitement and lots of family fun. Please share it with me.