Tag Archives: kids

Cardboard Box and Paper Towel/Gift Wrap Tube Log Cabin

16 May

Voila! Paper Towel Log Cabin!

When I saw this at my daughter’s preschool I thought this was ingenious! ¬†Well… anything not involving paint but involving a lot of fun is pretty ingenious in my book ūüôā

Here are the steps involved–

1. ¬†Find a big appliance box¬†— pictured is a box for a smallish refrigerator. ¬†If you don’t have any on hand you can procure one by calling your local appliance stores. ¬†It really depends on the size you want to end up with – the bigger the box the bigger the cabin, but on the other hand the more paper towel tubes or gift wrapping tubes you’ll need.

2. ¬†Carve out with a blade (be careful!!) the windows and door. ¬†Position top flaps of box to make the triangular roof – if not perfectly even use butcher paper (or brown paper bags) to make up for any gaps on the ‘peak’ of the roof. ¬†We used clear packing tape to hold things together. ¬†TIP – to save time – measure windows by placing a paper towel tube on both sides to gauge how wide the window needs to be – this will save you from having to re-carve the tubes later to accommodate extra space.

3. Now for the fun part – start attaching the tubes to the outside of the cabin – begin from the top and move downward (that way if you end up with a small tube-less gap in the end it will be at the base of the cabin and not at the top) – you can use school glue (Elmer’s Glue) or a glue gun if your want – I found that the tubes were light enough to stay on – although I suggest you use a good amount — inevitably little hands will want to try prying their ‘logs’ out of their cabins…

Front view

Now… if you DON’t have enough tubes to fill everything up – I would use brown construction paper (even better if they were on their way to the recycling bin anyways) or any color construction paper (if you’re adventurous ūüôā ) and roll them up to the size of the paper towel tubes – just tape the ends and glue to the cabin.

No need to fill the backside of the cabin if the cabin will be backed up to a wall anyway.

Let Your Kids into the Kitchen – They will Learn, Help & Have Fun!

1 Jul
Modern kitchen

Image via Wikipedia

My 5.75 year-old daughter, Julia, has¬†asked to “help” in the kitchen since she was 3 years old or so.¬† Rather than always say no, my wife and I found it best to allow her to enthusiastically help – it may take a little (sometimes a lot) longer and it usually does¬†mean more (sometimes much more) to clean up, but my wife and I find that letting her help in the kitchen gives her pride in participating, which encourages her to eat and there are other lessons learned and quality time spent together.

The following is a random list of some of the things Julia helps with:

  • Help measure/scoop dry ingredients (i.e. rice, flour, sugar, salt, etc.) into a bowl or pot/pan or measure/pour (not hot) liquids with guidance from adult.
  • Help stir or mix.
  • Help “chop” veggies for soup, stew, salad, stir-fry.¬† We let Julia use a stainless steel scrapper/chopper to cut veggies – works well and no sharp dangerous blade.
  • She¬†can make her own PBJ or toast or ham & cheese sandwich – after a couple of times¬†she¬†learned not to put so much peanut butter, jelly or mayo on a slice of bread – learning through experience!
  • Help wash fresh fruits and veggies.
  • Help roll out cookie dough, select the cookie cutters, cut out the cookie shapes and of course decorate.
  • Help empty the dishwasher (excluding knives) and just over the past¬†several months she wants to help rinse and scrub the dishes before they go into the dishwasher!

Once Julia was 5, she started helping me make her pasta salad. ¬†I would cook the pasta, drain and cool it,but she would help cut a block of cheese into cubes while I would open a can of vacuumed packed corn and bring out the dressing and seasonings. ¬†She would help add and mix the ingredients and be the ‘official taste tester’! ¬†It’s fun to get her involved and she has pride and ownership in her school lunch for the next day!

Regarding the “learning” aspect of kids helping in the kitchen, Parents.Com has the following article which has some good examples!

Cooking School: Learning in the Kitchen

While you’re stirring up soup or making a batch of cookies, let the little ones into the kitchen for some tasty, hands-on learning.

By Kathleen M. Reilly; Photos by Lucy Schaeffer


Kitchen as Classroom

Having a pint-size sous chef¬†“helping” you in the kitchen while you’re racing to get dinner on the table isn’t, at first blush, the greatest idea of all time. But your kid will love it, and with a little planning so will you. Will things get messy? Probably. But you’ll be building a foundation for knowledge that will last long after the splatters¬†are wiped away. “Young kids get so much out of being in the kitchen,” explains Mollie Katzen, coauthor of the preschool cookbook Pretend Soup. “They develop dexterity through activities like kneading dough and cracking eggs. And they also get an educational boost in areas such as science, math, and language.” So break out the aprons and let’s get cooking!

Fun for the Little Kids

The Big Bang

It’s practically a rite of passage: the baby on the floor pulling all the pots and pans out of the cupboard. Silence your inner control freak! Hand him a wooden spoon, and let him bang to his heart’s content. Cook to the beat, and when it’s cleanup time, help him sort by size, match lids to pots, and put everything back where it belongs.

Go Dough Nuts

While you’re making a homemade piecrust, bread, or cookies, tear off a small piece of dough and give it to your kid to squish around or pat into her own pretend pie. Even if you’re not much of a baker, why not keep a roll of store-bought dough in the fridge — your child will enjoy creating play pastries and pizzas while you’re busy getting real dinner ready.

Water Works

Set your child up at the sink so he can fill and empty different-size plastic containers — he’ll be learning about the concept of volume. Add small objects like measuring spoons and rubber spatulas so he can guess: float or sink? Squirt in a little dish soap and get scientific: Why do bubbles float? How long will it take before they pop?

Butter Up!

Pour room-temperature heavy cream into a small plastic tub, leaving it about 1/3 empty. Take turns shaking the container. When you no longer hear a swishing sound, let your child have a peek — you’ve made whipped cream! (A small taste is in order.) Shake some more, wait for a thudlike sound — and voila: a hunk of butter! It will be surrounded by some sour liquid — buttermilk. After you and your kid are done being amazed, rinse the butter in cold water to get rid of the buttermilk. Then it’s ready to eat.

For the Bigger Kids

Breaking News

Make your child Chief Egg Cracker. Author Mollie Katzen suggests letting kids break an egg over a pie plate to contain any drips. Show your child how to give a good hard thwack with a spoon. Have a damp paper towel at the ready as little kids tend not to like getting sticky egg white on their hands (and raw eggs can contain salmonella, so you want to keep your child’s hands clean as he works). Transfer each egg into another bowl before breaking the next one, to avoid contaminating the entire batch with a rotten one or a wayward shell.

Count On It

Whatever you’re cookin’ up, there are bound to be fractions (“How many quarter-cups does it take to fill a one-cup measure?”), simple calculations (“If we use four eggs, how many will we have left?”), and compare and contrasts (“Which is heavier — the sugar or the flour?”). Another important math skill: creating and replicating patterns. Hello, kabobs! Skewers can be made with fruit, vegetables, cooked meat, cheese. And threading builds fine motor skills¬†(use coffee stirrers to make this safe for all ages).

The Whys Have It

For your budding scientist, the kitchen is a lab where wild chemical interactions result in more than dinner. It’s easy to take it all for granted, but once you start posing questions, so will your child. How does the microwave work so quickly? Why does the soup “move” when it’s cooking and stand still when it’s cold? How come you can smell cookies baking all the way upstairs? Why indeed! Answers to these and other fascinating questions can be found at the kid-¬†(and mom-) friendly Web site exploratorium.edu/cooking.

Alphabet Soup

Your kitchen is a hands-on reading buffet. Challenge your child to pick out ingredients from the pantry: “Quick, find me something that begins with the letter P.” Or when she brings you a box of spaghetti have her point out the word pasta. All the while, she’s honing her prereading skills, and you have someone to fetch everything you need to get dinner on the table.

Two Treats to Try

Tea Off

Don’t let your yummy homemade butter go to waste. Make sweet and savory mini sandwiches and have a tea party.

  • Homemade butter (at room temperature)
  • Salt in a slow shaker
  • Jam
  • Whole wheat bread, graham crackers, or both
  • Optional: sliced cucumbers, sliced bananas

 Savory Sandwiches

Ask your child to shake a small bit of salt onto half the butter, then mix with a rubber spatula. Have him spread a slice of bread or a cracker with butter. Top with cucumbers, if you like. Close the sandwich, and if you’ve used bread, have your kid press lightly to flatten. Get fancy by cutting off the crusts or using cookie cutters to make fun shapes.

Sweet Sandwiches

Butter the bread or cracker and add a dollop of jam. Top with banana or other sliced fruit and another slice of bread or cracker. Serve tea or water in fancy cups, and invite a special friend over to share.

Willy-Nilly ‘Dilly

Help your young chef create her own special quesadilla.

  • 2 flour tortillas
  • Grated cheese
  • 1 ripe avocado (sliced by your child), salsa, and sour cream as toppings
  • 3 fillings of the chef’s choosing — we like to pick one from each section:a)beans (black, red, white, baked), rice, lentilsb)shredded chicken, sliced hard-boiled egg, turkey, or salamic)¬†any steamed or sauteed vegetable (such as broccoli, cauliflower, or carrots), peppers, and olives

Once you and your child have assembled the fillings, have her sprinkle (or spread) a tortilla with cheese and then layer with the fillings. A final layer of cheese keeps it “glued” together. Top with second tortilla. Let your kid spray a skillet with cooking oil, then you take over heating on a medium flame, flipping once. Give to your child to garnish. Together use a pizza cutter to divide.


7 Kitchen Safety Rules

  1. Tuck back long hair and wear short sleeves.
  2. Wash hands often.
  3. Keep pot handles turned away from edge of stove.
  4. Store a fire extinguisher in an easily accessible spot.
  5. Use a butter knife for cutting practice.
  6. Have adults take things off the stove and out of the oven, food processor, or blender.
  7. Keep all your small appliances unplugged.

Originally published in the March 2009 issue of Parents magazine.


http://www.parents.comBringing together the power of respected magazine brands including American Baby and Parents, the Parents Network is your go-to destination for parenting information. From first kicks to first steps and on to the first day of school, we are here to help you celebrate the joys and navigate the challenges of parenthood.

Best & Worst Snacks for Your Kids!

24 Mar

¬†Are you looking for healthy ideas for kid friendly snacks?¬† With an active preschooler and toddler, I always am.¬† DOn’t you find you need to change things up once in a while as well?¬† It can¬†be¬†a constant struggle not to go to a drive-thru and buy your kid’s food out of a fast food window…

When picking Julia up from school or going to run errands with the kids, we use a¬†small insulated bag with an ice pack in it and bring¬†somewhat healthy snacks like a cheese stick, fruit,¬†yogurt, peanut butter crackers or sandwich, hard-boiled¬†eggs…¬† Of course,¬†goldfish, cookies¬†and “baked” Cheetos¬†made a round every once in a while as well.¬† So, when I saw this¬†list on Parents.Com and it said “Place it on Your Fridge”, we did!¬† Check it out and hopefully it’ll help you get healthier snacks for your family as well.

Best and Worst Munchies for Kids

Here’s a list to post on your fridge. Check it when your kids say, “I’m hungry!”

By Mindy Hermann, R.D.


Best Foods 

  • American cheese
  • Baby carrots
  • Baked potato
  • Breakfast cereal
  • Broccoli
  • Cantaloupe
  • Chocolate milk
  • Eggs
  • Frozen mixed vegetables
  • Ground beef
  • Ketchup
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Orange juice
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Peanut butter
  • Pizza
  • Sweet potato
  • Tortillas
  • Whole-wheat bread
  • Yogurt

 Worst Foods 

  • Chicken nuggets (high in fat and salt)
  • Chips
  • Doughnuts
  • French fries
  • Fruit leather (too much sugar!)
  • Hot dogs (lots of calories, low in protein)
  • Juice-flavored drinks
  • Prepackaged lunches (no fruits or veggies)
  • Soda
  • Toaster pastries (try raisin toast)


How to get invited to a Playdate

17 Feb

Do you have young toddler to school age kids?¬† Do they want to go to a friend’s house or meet up at the park?¬† My kids are 4 1/2 and 14 months and yes, having them play with their counterparts is often times much better than bouncing off the walls at home, alone or with Mom/Dad.¬† Read the following tips/pointers to get repeat invites to meet at the park or get invited to regular playdates!

From another perspective, if¬†you host playdates at your home and sometimes wish that one kid wouldn’t come?¬† Have you been¬†to the park/playground and given a mean look to the parents who are chatting away or¬†reading a book/magazine¬†and¬†NOT watching their kid(s), who are inconsiderate¬†like their parents?¬† Well, I can say YES to the above and many other situations…

When I read the article from AmericanBaby.Com, it prompted me to create this blog post and share some of my playground and playdate guidelines.





Playground Etiquette

  • Watch your child, especially if he/she is the biggest kid there or you “know” (be honest) he/she is aggressive or oblivious of other kids!¬† This is a public facility and not a drop-off service!
  • Do not allow your child to monopolize any equipment at the playground when there are¬†others waiting (ie. swing, see-saw).
  • Have your child practice common courtesy – wait their turn, no cutting/pushing in line for the monkey bars, slide, etc.

Playdate Etiquette

  • Although playdates are a nice time to catch-up with other parents, PLEASE keep an eye on your child, especially when there are either unsafe equipment (i.e. exercise machines, boxes etc.) or worse, staircases nearby.
  • You may be in the midst or ‚Äútraining‚ÄĚ your child how to eat on their own, or you may be used to letting junior walk around with food spewing out of their hand or mouth,¬†but in the case of attending a playdate ‚ÄĒ I suggest keeping the training at home, when in someone else‚Äôs house either feed your child yourself or sit your child down to minimize crumb/spill scatter.¬† True story – we hosted a playdate when Julia was a young toddler, there were 5-6 others kids over and one mom asked if she could give her daughter fruits and cheese on the hardwood floor – we said “No, please use a plate” and the mom still put cantaloupe and cheese on the floor!¬† Ugghhhh! Grrrrr!
  • If junior or your princess is¬†getting tired and starting to be disruptive,¬†take him/her¬†out of the room and settle him/her¬†down, otherwise, it may be time to leave.¬† If you‚Äôve been¬†anywhere where a group of kids are together, one strong emotional child can really¬†lead to a landslide of fussy from the group.
  • As the host, if there are a couple of toys¬†that are “special” to your child(ren), it’s best to put them away so there is no¬†dispute¬†and tears¬†over them.¬† I¬†consider this proactive and preventative and believe it’s okay for my daughter to have a few things that are special to her and she doesn’t want to, but she¬†understands that all other toys are to be shared during the playdate.
  • At least try to help clean up before you go ‚ÄĒ whether putting back a couple of toys that your child played with, or putting plates or glasses in the kitchen, throwing your napkins/tissues/crumbs away in the garbage can ‚Äď it shows some consideration to your host ‚Äď a playdate is not a party.
  • Reciprocate and take turns hosting playdates – if you have a good group of parents and kids that all get along well, share the effort in hosting.¬† If your apartment/condo/house is really too small, plan¬†a playdate in your yard or at the park, but make the effort to coordinate and “host” it.¬† Fair is fair.
  • Lastly, but definitely not the least, do not bring your child if you even remotely think that he/she is sick.¬† We’ve had¬†playdates at our house in the past¬†and a small runny nose from one child caused a mini-epidemic of the cold that spread to everyone else.¬†¬†I know its hard for stay-at-home parents¬†to be cooped up, but its hard for everyone else too.¬† At least inform the host/other parents about the sniffles and see if they still want to run the risk of the kids getting the germs.

The above is definitely not all-inclusive…but what come to the top of my list at this moment.¬† The article below provides some further pointers to remember whether you are hosting or attending.¬† The bottom line is, please treat others as you (or your home) want to be treated!

Play-Date Protocol

Make your baby’s play dates fun and positive experiences!

By Deborah J. Waldman

American Baby

Play dates are a great way for kids to work on building their relationships, but it’s important to keep a few things in mind when planning one, according to Tovah Klein, PhD, director of the Barnard Center for Toddler Development in New York City:

1. Three’s a crowd. Toddlers¬†do best in pairs, notes Dr. Klein. They don’t interact as threesomes¬†or foursomes, so it’s easier to invite one child at a time.

2. Less is more.¬†One hour is a good length for a play date for kids under 2. If you sense your child is miserable — if he’s tired, overwhelmed, or not feeling well — end it early.

3. Keep it friendly. Make the play date with someone your child likes, not someone who happens to be convenient, such as your best friend’s daughter.

4. Take a snack break. When kids run out of steam or get too wild, shift gears by offering a healthy snack of fruit or cheese.

5. Plan ahead. To cut down on toy disputes, think of projects that encourage side-by-side play, such as racing toy cars, running through a sprinkler, or drawing with sidewalk chalk.

6. Don’t overdo it. If your child is more aggressive than usual, cries, or doesn’t seem happy to have a play date, he may be saying, “This is too much for me.” We tend to think kids are better off with lots of friends, but they really don’t need to be with other kids all the time.