Autumn – What’s Your Favorite Family Tradition

Autumn is my favorite time of year, especially when I was living on the East coast. I always enjoyed seeing the leaves change color and picking apples. That was something we did every year with my family as they were growing up. We would make a day out of it because it was some distance away.

Now that my daughter is grown and has children of her own she wants to continue the tradition with her family. Where we live in Northern California, Apple Hill isn’t very far away. My daughter and her family spent the day there at different apple orchards, picking apples, and eating some yummy pie. We didn’t get a chance to go with them this year, but we hope to next year.

Besides eating the apples whole, we enjoyed peeling, coring, and slicing the apples with the gadget we had that did this. The children also helped in making desserts with the apples.

What is your favorite family tradition?


Sponge Bullseye

When I was planning fun activities to do with my grandchildren I wanted to do one with water. At I came across this fun activity using wet sponges.

I stopped off at the Dollar Store and I picked up a pack of sponges and some sidewalk chalk. I already had a dishpan that I could fill with water for their sponges.

I drew a target on their patio with chalk and assigned point values for each circle. Of course the bullseye got the most points. We then drew lines on the patio where the children would be standing to throw the wet sponges.

We decided to play until 21 points was reached. We kept score on the patio with different color chalk. This was good for the older one to practice keeping score using tally marks.

I forgot to take pictures of this, so next time we do that I will.

Remember to supervise children under 3 when playing with water.

Olympic Playday

With the summer olympics coming in August it might be fun to have your own olympic playday. I did this a number of years ago when I did family day care and also when I was a preschool teacher.

What is an olympic playday? It is a day or afternoon/morning where you plan some activities for the children to do. You can do it with your family or invite some friends over with their children to join in the fun.

Decide on a day that you want to do it. Do you want to have it at your house or go to a park? Decide what activities you want the children to do – ball throw, jump(see how far they can jump), bean bag toss, running, make an obstacle course, and anything else you and the children can think of. Let them practice the week before.

Talk with the children about the olympics coming up and what kind of events are in it. Plan on watching an event or two. Talk about the difference between the summer and winter olympics.

Make ribbons/medals for the different events. What other events can you add for an olympics playday?

Home Made Sand

Are you looking for a different sensory material to make? Do you love coffee? This recipe has a great feel to it and it uses dried coffee grounds. If you don’t drink coffee or have access to anyone who does drink it, check with Starbucks or a local coffee shop to get some of their used coffee grounds.


4 cups dried used coffee grounds

2 cups cornmeal

1 cup flour

1/2 cup salt


Mix ingredients together. Put in sand or water table for scooping, pouring, measuring, feeling, and smelling. Keep in Ziploc bag or covered plastic container.

To dry coffee grounds: 

Place in shallow tray or box and let air dry. You can also leave it out in the sun for several hours to dry.


Outside Play – Chalk and Mud

A few weeks ago my grandchildren had a chance to go to something called Adventure Playground. It was a free event held at an elementary school that had access to mud, water, painting, cardboard building, as well as other things that they could play with. The brochure said to wear clothes that you can get messy and that’s what they did. My granchildren had fun doing the different things. The boys especially liked playing and digging in the mud.

K digging in the mud.

K digging in the mud.

My daughter lets the children play in the mud at home, but not that often because there is a lot of clean up especially in the cooler months where it would be harder to hose them off. She let them play in the mud to their hearts content because when they were done she could hose them off leaving the water and mud at the playground instead of her backyard.

C making plans of what he is going to do next with the mud.

C making plans of what he is going to do next with the mud.

Children should have the opportunity to play in the mud during their childhood. If you are not one for messes, try to find events that have that available or set something up on a smaller scale. Fill a dishpan with some mud and let them go at it. Have an old tablecloth or tarp underneath and do it outside. Hose your child and tarp off when done.

The girls enjoyed coloring with chalk. They like to get messy like their brothers but chose not to dig in the mud. The youngest one N who is 22 months old thought it was fun to color her foot with chalk. What’s nice about that you just hose them off before you leave.

H & N coloring with chalk.

H & N coloring with chalk.

More Crepe Paper Fun

Back in July, 2014, I wrote a post on crepe paper fun. I want to share some more ideas of what your child can do with it. Besides using it in the house, why don’t you let them take it outside for some fun. A couple of weeks ago I had some of my grandchildren over. It was a nice day and I wanted them playing outside most of the time. I set three rolls of crepe paper on the living room floor in case they wanted to play with it.

Crepe Paper

Crepe Paper

C found the crepe paper and asked if he could play with it outside. His brother and sister wanted one also. I said they could play with it outside but when they were done they had to throw it all away. We didn’t want to leave any around in case it rained.

C and K found different things to do with it. They wrapped it around trees, tied it to their waist and let it hang down like a tail, tied it around their wrist and ran with the wind blowing it. K tied his to two trees and would run through it like a finish line. N who is only 22 months old just kind of threw it and didn’t do much with it. I did tie some crepe paper to the stroller so when I pushed her around the crepe paper would blow.

You can also tie crepe paper to the back of bikes, or on riding toys, hang from a low tree branch and let them run through it. What does your child like to do?

If you don’t want to throw the crepe paper away just yet – your child can make a collage with it.

Paper – What Kind to Have Available?

In my book Summertime Sanity for You & the Kids(A variety of activities for preschoolers thru elementary) I have a section on paper which lists some recommended paper to purchase as well as craft activities to make using paper.

Try and have a variety of paper on hand. Some of the types of paper I like to have available are butcher paper, card stock, construction paper, copier paper, and tissue paper. You don’t need to get this all at once but it is nice to build up your stock.

One thing I like to have is a roll of butcher paper. You can purchase it at Sam’s Club for about $20.00. It can go a long way and you can do a variety of things with it.

You can do body tracing(outline your child’s body) then they color and decorate it; you can hang it on a fence and your child can spray paint it(using plastic spray bottles – make your own), or your child can decorate it for a tablecloth. Check out my book for additional ideas.

What do you like to do with butcher paper?

Fun Friday – Carnival Day

Carnival day can be a fun activity to do towards the end of summer when children will be starting school or at the end of a school year, or just for the fun of it. Invite another family or two over and let them help with planning it. Decide when you want to have it, in the morning or afternoon.
Plan on some games you want to have (bean bag toss, knock the cans down, drop the spoon or clothespin in a container, or anything else you can think of). If you have older children let them help make the games.
You can make tickets and play money or if you only have a few children just let them play the games without them. You can do face painting. Watercolors work well if you don’t have any face paint.
You can make some popcorn, pretzels, or other snack and put them in baggies for a prize or have it so the children can “buy” them. Fans from construction paper can be made for everyone. You might want to purchase/collect small toys or stickers that can be used for prizes.

Fun Fridays – Water Play

With the warm weather upon us I like to plan at least one day a week of water play, especially when we don’t have a pool. Some of the things you can do is paint with water, fill squirt guns or spray bottles, water balloon toss, or ice cube sensory tub.
Something else you can do with water balloons is tie string around it after it’s filled and hang it on a branch. Let the children swing at it to pop the balloon.
Your child can wash dolls, toys, or have a car wash for their riding toys. If you have a sprinkler and your state doesn’t have a water shortage, your children can run through it.
Look on Pinterest for more ideas and also other blogs that are on the iternet.

***Coming soon – Summertime Sanity for You & the Kids (A variety of actvities for preschoolers thru elementary). More details when it is published.

Foam Pool Noodles – Additional Uses for Them

In a prior post I shared how you can use pool noodles for art. When I did this activity with my grandchildren I had some sliced pool noodles and corks that I didn’t use. I also had some larger pieces. I just left it out and the boys started constructing with them in ways that I didn’t think of.

They stacked the sliced pool noodles and also used some extra corks to connect them.Each of the boys were doing something with them a little differently. I didn’t tell them how to play with them I just provided the materials and let them get their creative juices flowing.

K being creative with sliced pool noodles.

K being creative with sliced pool noodles.

C being creative with the sliced pool noodles.

C being creative with the sliced pool noodles.

Something they like to do with pool noodles is sword fights. For C’s birthday the children were playing outside and saw that I had some foam pool noodles. They each wanted one so that they can have a “sword” fight. I onyl had a couple of whole noodles, so we cut them in half so that each child had one.

H and A having fun with pool noodles.

H and A having fun with pool noodles.

Pool noodle fun.

Pool noodle fun.