Tag Archives: parents.com

Make it a Memorable & Low Cost Halloween!

14 Oct

Did you know that Halloween is the third most expensive holiday of the year, right after Christmas and Valentine’s Day!  While there are fewer gifts to buy, purchasing costumes, candy and decorations during the fall can add up quickly.  Here are some tips on how to stretch your dollar, while still making the most of the fun of the fall season. 

Make costumes out of what you have!

  • Store-bought costumes easily can run $20-$35 each, or more.  If you have more than one child, buying costumes can bust a Halloween budget very quickly.
  • Home-made costumes will mean more to both you and your children, and will almost always cost less.  Check out FamilyFun.Com for great home-made crafts, treats, activities and costume ideas!
  • Many costumes can be made with supplies found around your house, meaning costumes could be created for free!  Look through your garage for the perfect handyman.  Old sheets can be torn to create a little mummy, or dad’s old shoes and clothes with some of mom’s makeup can create an adorable clown!  If you need an accessory or two to finish off your home-made costume, check out your local dollar store for economical options!

Buy candy – carefully!

  • Watch the sales and circulars, and purchase candy throughout the month – only when on sale.
  • With coupons, candy purchased while on sale can be a simple treat that is also inexpensive.
  • For parties and kid’s gathering, make treats. Often, you have all the ingredients to whip up simple brownies or cupcakes. Placed in individual bags with fun, festive ties, these inexpensive gifts are individual and cost-effective.  Parents.Com has great ideas on cool and creepy decorations as well as spooky cute & yummy treats!

Events and decorations.

  • Every store will have a Halloween decorations and fall décor for sale.
  • Skip the expensive stuff, and step out into your backyard for a basket of fall leaves.
  • For a few dollars, buy a pumpkin to carve with the kids. This inexpensive activity can become a family tradition.
  • Pumpkin patches, corn mazes and fall festivals are plenty this time of year. If you’re not careful, with a $5 or $10 entry fee per person, per event, you can spend a ton before you know it. Visit the event’s website for discounts, and look into what local churches, schools and community centers are offering. Often these community groups will offer events that are free, and they are just as good as the pay events.

For some more cost saving ideas, check out the article on CBS MoneyWatch:

Halloween Costumes: Cheap Tricks for Last-Minute Moms

Have fun, be safe and remember – memories and good times do not always have to cost a lot of money!


Fun Paper Crafts for Kids!

6 Sep

Here’s some great, fun and relatively simple paper craft ideas from Parents.Com.  My 5-year-old daughter loved making a paper mobile with a monarch butterfly theme – we gathered sticks from our yard and printed out monarch butterflies on paper to cut and color!  Now over her art table she has her butterflies overhead!  The paper chain caterpillar is also great for counting down to a trip, birthday or any special event/date!  My 5-year-old also liked making “fancy & pretty” fans out of thick stationary.  So take a look and give these a try – they are relatively inexpensive and super fun!






Paper Crafts for Your Kids

Vacation Countdown Caterpillar
Vacation Countdown Caterpillar

Your kids will love tearing daily links from this adorable paper-chain caterpillar to count down the days until an exciting trip or event!

Make It: Trim a few sheets of colorful double-sided cardstock into strips. Staple or glue the edges together as you help your kids form the chain. Accent the caterpillar with cute pom-pom feet, googly eyes, and a heart-shape felt-sticker mouth. Finish this cute little guy by punching two small holes in the head and threading a short chenille stem through each to create curly antennae.

Paper Ice Cream Cone
Paper Ice Cream Cone

At last — a delicious-looking ice cream cone that won’t melt in the summer sun!

Make It: Roll textured brown cardstock into a cone shape and secure with a brown brad. Crumble a piece of tissue paper into a ball, and help your child tape strips of colorful patterned paper around it. Attach to the cone. Use red buttons and a little hemp string for a perfect cherry topper.

Paper Mosaic Placemats
Paper Mosaic Place Mats

Your children can use their imaginations to create mosaic-style landscapes that look picture-perfect as place mats on your dining room table.

Make It: Select a large piece of cardstock or thin cardboard for the backdrop. Sketch rough outlines of a simple landscape or have your kids create their own. Let your kids tear colored paper to glue onto the cardboard. When the design is finished, take it to an office supply store for laminating.

Summer ABC Book
Summer ABC Book

Capture your child’s summer memories in this easy-to-make index-card book. Your child can choose people, places, and activities to add under each letter of the alphabet.

Make It: Help your child plan fun ideas for each letter; cut out corresponding pictures from magazines or take your own photos. Mat images with patterned paper and adhere to index cards.

To display a letter on each page, write the letter on a white circle and mat with patterned paper. Separate each page with plastic index-card dividers, and create a durable back cover by trimming the tab from an extra divider. Punch holes in the upper corners of the cards and dividers and insert a binder ring. Tie pretty ribbon on the ring. Decorate the cover with stickers to complete this unforgettable keepsake.

Paper Fans
Pretty Paper Fans

Cooling down on a hot day has never been sweeter! Let your children choose paper to fit their personalities.

Make It: For each fan, trim a 12×12-inch piece of heavyweight cardstock to 8×12 inches. Use a decorative border punch along a long edge of the sheet. To simplify the folding process, score at every inch with a scoring blade. Fold accordion-style. Gather at the bottom edge, punch a hole through all folds, and tie a decorative ribbon to complete a lovely fair-weather fan.

Hanging Paper Mobile
Paper Mobile

Watch your child’s artwork twist and twirl at even the slightest gusts when you hang paper clip art characters on this cute mobile.

Make It: Select royalty-free clip art to use for your mobile (we chose nature-theme images). You’ll need two versions: the standard icon and the icon flipped to be the mirror image (most image-processing software will allow you to do this; if you can’t, simply doodle on one side of the art before hanging it). Print the standard images. Turn the paper over in your printer and print the mirror image on the back. Have your child color both sides with markers or crayons. Cut out the images when he’s done, punching a hole in the top of each.

Cover two dowels with patterned paper and tie them together with ribbon to form an X shape. Attach string to the images and hang them from the ends of the dowels. Add string at the top to hang the mobile.

Fun Paper Kite
Fun Paper Kite

This adorable paper kite is made from an old map — perfect for inspiring all kinds of lofty adventures.

Make It: Tie two dowels (one dowel should be longer than the other) into a cross shape with twine. Cut a notch on the edge of each dowel and stretch a string around the kite frame. Open a map and lay the frame on top. Trim around the frame, leaving a few inches to fold over the edges. Adhere the paper around the frame. Tie a long string for the tail to the back of the kite. Embellish the tail with ribbons and decorate the kite with a white paper cloud and theme stickers.

?Stained Glass? Wall Hanging
“Stained-Glass” Wall Hanging

Your child will love watching the summer sun shine right through this beautiful “stained-glass” wall hanging made from colorful tissue paper.

Make It: Paint an embroidery hoop in your child’s favorite color. Cut the outline of a butterfly — or any other shape — from cardstock, to fit inside the hoop. Place the butterfly onto a piece of clear contact paper, sticky side up. Let your child tear up colored tissue paper to stick onto the wings. When you’re done, place a sheet of tissue paper over the butterfly and add another layer of contact paper, sticky side down. Place inside the hoop and trim the edges. Hang with a ribbon near a sunny window.

Spare Change Papier-Mache Bowl
Spare-Change Papier-Mache Bowl

Help your child keep her spare change ready for a shopping trip with this adorable papier-mache bowl.

Make It: Line the inside and rim of a small glass bowl with plastic wrap. Have your kids tear up colorful tissue paper and stick the pieces to the inside of the bowl using a simple mixture of white glue and water. After you’ve added a few layers, let it dry; remove the glass bowl and plastic wrap. Have your kids spell out “savings” in cute letter stickers. Add a little decoration by punching holes around the rim of the bowl and threading a pretty ribbon through.

Copyright & copy 2010 Meredith Corporation.



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.

Repurpose Paper Plates, Cups & More into Fun Kid’s Crafts

1 Sep

My 5-year-old daughter loves arts and crafts, so this article from Parents.Com that uses common household supplies and typical things in a kid’s crafting box/drawer/basket has provided a nice creative and fun outlet for Julia!  Our family favorites are the mushroom house (great to use with her Little Pet Shop toys), plastic spoon puppets and the finger puppet cup dolls (both are wonderful for pretend play in the car on road trips!).  So check it out and let your kid’s creative juices flow! 

Easy Crafts Made from Paper Plates, Cups & Other Dishware

Baby Bird Nest
Baby Bird Nest

Bring the outdoors inside by creating a cozy new home for these adorable pom-pom birds.

Make it: Cut a paper plate in half and staple the rims together (leaving the top of the ?nest? open). After your kids paint it brown, help them glue shredded brown paper onto the front to add texture. Create the birds by gluing three blue pom-poms to the ends of Popsicle sticks. Add googly eyes and orange paper beaks for a little personality. Have your kids slide the ends of the Popsicle sticks between the plates so the baby birds can rest inside their new nest — and even pop up when they get hungry!

Paper Plate Banjo
Paper Plate Banjo

Indulge your kids’ musical fantasies with this simple banjo made from paper plates and a few well-tuned rubber bands. Making music was never this much fun!

Make it: Stack two thick-weight paper plates and staple them together for durability. Let your kids paint the stacked plates their favorite colors and decorate them with stickers. Attach a paint stick to the back of the stacked plates and glue beads to the end as the pegs. Finally, add strings by stretching rubber bands around the stacked plates.

Pretty Paper Purse
Pretty Paper Purse

This stylish paper purse is a fun addition to any little girl’s closet — and it’s perfect for toting around small toys and crayons too.

Make it: Paint the underside of a sturdy paper plate green, let dry, then cut the plate in half. Staple the rims together with the green side facing out to create a pouch. Next, staple a ribbon onto the sides of the purse. To create the latch, cut out a rectangle of pink felt and glue it onto one side of the purse. Hang the felt over the pouch and glue on a pink button to weigh it down. For a stylish purse that really stays closed, add a little Velcro underneath.

Mushroom House
Mushroom House

Your child will love building an imaginative new home for her toy figurines out of a paper cup and a paper bowl.

Make it: Flip a colorful paper cup upside-down and cut out a small door. Draw windows and flowers, or let your child decorate the cup with stickers. Next, have her paint the underside of a paper bowl. Once the paint has dried, help her add white dot stickers to make it look like a mushroom. Tape the bottom of the cup inside the paper bowl and your child will be ready to move her toys into their new dwelling.

Spoon Puppets
Spoon Puppets

Whether they’re Mom, Dad, the babysitter, or your kids’ favorite cartoon heroes, these hand-drawn puppets are sure to provide hours of theatrical entertainment for the whole family.

Make it: Let your kids use their creativity to draw imaginative characters on the flat part of a paper plate. Cut out the images and tape them to the ends of plastic spoons. Then sit back and enjoy as the kids duck behind the sofa and put on a show with their new cast of spoon-puppet personalities.

Paper Cup Terrarium
Paper Cup Terrarium

Help your child discover his green thumb with this easy-to-make paper cup terrarium. His eyes will be wide with wonder as he watches his plant grow bigger every day.

Make it: Use markers to decorate a paper cup. Fill the cup with soil and place a small green plant inside. Give the plant a companion by adding a toy insect, a butterfly, or even a dinosaur on top of the soil. Cover the plant with a clear plastic cup and tape the two cups together. Place your new terrarium near a sunny window, add a little TLC, and track its growth together.

Finger Puppet Cup Doll
Finger Puppet Cup Doll

Bring a paper cup to life by letting your child’s fingers act as the arms on this darling finger puppet doll.

Make it: Flip over a paper cup. Cut out armholes with small scissors, leaving enough room for little fingers. Let your child decorate the cup using markers and stickers. Add the head by drawing a face on a wooden bead and gluing it on top. Glue on a fluffy feather and some small pom-poms to make a silly hairstyle. Finally, create a pretty collar by cutting it from paper and gluing it just above the armholes. Create a whole family of paper cup dolls for even more finger puppet fun!

Paper Cup Owl
Paper Cup Owl

Making this wise old owl from a paper cup and a few pretty feathers is sure to be a hoot for your little ones.

Make it: Paint a paper cup brown and let it dry. Cut a heart and oval from brown felt for the head and belly. Cut a tiny triangle of pink felt for the beak. Flip the cup upside-down and glue the pieces in place. Attach round, white office stickers for eyes. For the ears, fold triangles of brown felt in half and adhere them to the top rim of the cup. Pick out a few fluffy feathers to glue around the cup and your new feathery friend will be ready to play.

Cotton Ball Cat
Cotton Ball Cat

This super-soft, cuddly kitten is made from a paper cup and a few golf tees, plus oodles of cotton balls.

Make it: Cover a white cup with cotton balls, then help your child glue on sequin eyes and a cute button nose. Poke a hole in the bottom of the cup with a white chenille stem to create a tail. Turn the cup on its side, and add legs by gently poking four golf tees into the side of the cup. To create the ears, make small incisions in the cup. Cut out small squares of white felt, fold them diagonally, and pull them halfway through the incisions.

Copyright © 2010 Meredith Corporation.



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.

Just-Right Discipline…

11 Mar

Do you and your spouse have different parenting styles or discipline techniques/beliefs?  My wife and I strongly feel a united front is always best – even if we don’t agree with what the other already said to or daughter(s), we discuss it later – not in front of the kids.

Do you find each stage of your child’s life offers new challenges and issues to address?  We sure do!  And our two daughters are rather different from each other, so what we dealt with when Julia was a young toddler is much different then the things we are going through now with Stella…

At any rate, when I came across this on-line article from Parents.Com, I found it very helpful and insightful as I am guilty of some of the Too Harsh and Too Whimpy replies, but at the same time I can say we did some of the “Just Right” answers as well.  Whew, to live is to learn and in my household there’s a lot of living and learning always going on!

Just-Right Discipline

Kids sure know how to push your buttons. But the way you respond when they act up determines whether you’ll get better behavior next time.

By KJ Dell’Antonia


You’ve said no — it’s too close to dinnertime for a sweet. In fact, you’ve said no more than once. But when you come back into the kitchen, you find your preschooler hanging precariously off the freezer door with a box of Popsicles clutched in her hand.

Do you explode? Or give in and let her have the pop? Either reaction would be normal because your brain tends to operate on autopilot in stressful situations. “But if you respond in an overly harsh or wimpy way, you miss the opportunity to teach your child the skills she needs to do the right thing in the future,” says Becky Bailey, Ph.D., author of Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline. It’s tough to keep your cool, but it’ll be easier to discipline thoughtfully if you’ve already considered smart responses like the ones for the following situations.

When crossing the street, your 4-year-old won’t hold your hand.
  • Too Harsh “If you can’t hold on, I’ll pick you up and carry you!”
  • Too Wimpy “Fine. But please stay really close to me, okay?”
  • Just Right “When we get to the light, we will hold hands.”

Holding hands when you cross the street is one of those non-negotiable safety issues. “This shouldn’t be a debate. If she refuses, just take her hand,” says Lynne Reeves Griffin, author of Negotiation Generation. Even when you threaten to carry her, you still make it sound like she has a choice.


When she won’t share

Your 2-year-old snatches a toy train away from his friend who came over to play.
  • Too Harsh “Bad boy! Give that back!”
  • Too Wimpy “Come on… please say that you’re sorry.”
  • Just Right “You really want a turn, and you’re going to get a turn. You and Mommy can play with blocks together, and after we stack up ten blocks, it will be your turn to have the train.”

Sharing doesn’t come naturally for toddlers — especially at their own house. Don’t let your disappointment over your child’s “selfish” behavior (or worries about what the other parent will think) interfere with your ability to reinforce the concept of taking turns, no matter how many times you feel like you’ve covered this ground before, says Parents advisor Sal Severe, Ph.D., author of How to Behave So Your Preschooler Will, Too! Remind him that his friend is only playing with the train for a little while, and use terms he can understand to explain how long he’ll have to wait. When you’re alone later, you can practice sharing, to help him appreciate the fact that taking turns doesn’t mean losing a toy forever.

You’re at the store and your 5-year-old keeps putting sugary cereals and candy in your cart.
  • Too Harsh “Pull one more thing off the shelves and we leave with nothing!”
  • Too Wimpy “Okay, we can buy that, but only this once.”
  • Just Right “These are the two cereals we can buy. You can choose which one you’d like. If you put anything else in the cart, you have to put it back.”

“It’s natural for young kids to want these foods — after all, the packaging is designed to attract their curiosity,” says Dr. Severe. Since you’re focused on your list, your child may be tossing items into the cart in order to get your attention — or to sneak in treats because you’re distracted. Keep her engaged from the start by allowing her to make choices about items on the list (yellow or red apples? chocolate or vanilla pudding?) and let her put things you’re buying into the cart for you.


When he won’t go to bed

Your preschooler is out of bed again asking for his third drink of water of the night.
  • Too Harsh “I’m going to lock this door so you can’t come out again!”
  • Too Wimpy “Daddy will lie down with you until you fall asleep.”
  • Just Right “Let’s have one final hug and get tucked in. It’s time for sleep.”

As frustrating as this is, try not to let your child see that you’re annoyed. When he pops out, calmly walk him back to bed — and don’t give him any snacks or read an extra book unless you want to be doing this every night. He probably imagines that all sorts of exciting things are happening after he goes to sleep; when you make his repeat appearances boring and repetitive, they’ll eventually stop.

Your toddler is having a tantrum because you turned off the TV, and she kicks you in the shins.
  • Too Harsh “That’s it. This time you’ve gone too far. You can forget about watching television — ever!”
  • Too Wimpy “I know you’re upset, but how would you feel if I kicked you?”
  • Just Right “You hurt Mommy. Let me know when you have calmed down, and we can talk about why you’re upset.”

“The right response is probably the opposite of what your instincts are telling you,” says Betsy Brown Braun, a child-development and behavior specialist and author of Just Tell Me What to Say. Rather than punishing her for kicking, just walk away (and take the remote with you). Separating yourself is a powerful strategy; you won’t stay with her if she hurts you, but you won’t let her distract you from the original issue. Later on, remind her that no matter what she’s feeling, it’s never okay to hurt another person. If you get mad and yell at her instead, there’s a good chance you’ll feel guilty afterward and may even turn the TV back on.

When she throws a tantrum
It’s time for you to go home from a playdate, and your 4-year-old decides to throw a fit.
  • Too Harsh “Stop that right now or we’re never coming back.”
  • Too Wimpy “We’ll stay a little longer.”
  • Just Right “We’ll leave in five minutes. Our next stop is the supermarket — do you want to ride in a shopping cart, or push a little cart on your own?”

No child likes to end a fun playdate, so give a warning and change the subject to the next activity. “Offering two choices about what to do next will give him some control over what’s going on,” says Dr. Bailey. Time is a tough concept for kids, so it’s helpful to use a visual cue: Hold your hands out far apart to indicate a five-minute warning, then move them closer when there are two minutes left, and put them together when it’s time to go.

Your kids are screaming at each other and you can’t take it.
  • Too Harsh “That’s enough! Both of you go to your room this minute!”
  • Too Wimpy “Come and tell me what’s wrong, and I’ll figure out a solution.”
  • Just Right “I don’t know what’s going on, and I don’t want to know, but if you can’t work it out quietly, you both need to leave the room.”

This is about the noise, not the arguing (at least they’re using their words). “Your goal is not to get involved and not to assign any blame,” says Braun. “You simply need to remind them to use their indoor voices or take the screaming outside.”


When he won’t listen to you

Your 18-month-old keeps standing up in his high chair while he’s eating dinner.
  • Too Harsh “That’s all — you’re done! No more supper for you.”
  • Too Wimpy “Be careful! Come on, sit down now. Look, here comes the airplane spoon flying to your mouth!”
  • Just Right “We sit when we eat. I’ll help you sit back down.”

“Parents sometimes think it’s better to just distract their toddler or ignore unwanted behavior, but 1-year-olds are old enough to follow simple rules,” says Griffin. In fact, your child is probably watching to see your reaction when he demonstrates his new high-chair maneuver. Calmly let him know that sitting is always required at mealtime. If he doesn’t get a rise out of you (or a free trip onto your lap for the rest of the meal), he’ll take a seat and be less likely to stand up during the next meal.

You ask your 6-year-old to hang up her jacket and she says, “I’m busy. Hang it up yourself!”
  • Too Harsh “Don’t you talk to me that way, young lady. Go to your room right now!”
  • Too Wimpy “Okay, I’ll do it this time.”
  • Just Right “In this house, you’ll have to lose that attitude. I don’t speak to you that way, and you may not speak to me that way. I asked you to hang up your jacket, and I expect you to do it.”

There are two issues here — the back talk and the jacket. “If you respond in a tone that shows you mean it, most kids will hang up the jacket,” says Braun. “She probably heard another kid talk like this, and she’s seeing if she can get away with it.” The most important thing to do is take a deep breath, and focus on the good behavior you want to teach her.

Originally published in the June 2009 issue of Parentsmagazine.

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.