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10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!  I hope you’re staying warm and happy in your corner of the world. 

We’ve had some bitterly cold temperatures here in Minnesota lately (-19 without wind chill!) but it’s starting to warm up a little and I’m optimistic we’ll at least get above zero for a few days so we can properly take advantage of all of our lovely snow.

Here are a few ways to make a little magic with your kiddos this week…

1.  Print out some free toys! 

Made by Joel offers free printables of everything from a paper city Nativity scene to paper slotted animals to an oscillating bird and more.

We’ve also loved the toys at The Toymaker for years.

2.  Go sledding or ice skating in the kitchen!  Pull little ones around on towels, or have them put on socks and slip around the floor.  Older kids can pull the little ones and accidentally get some exercise in at the same time!  If you’re brave enough, give them a bucket of warm soapy water and have them “mop” the floor with their stocking feet.  My girls used to love to do this, though it can get pretty wet!

3.  Host a gingerbread house building party.  Magical Mama Tiffany has all sorts of wonderful recipes and fun ideas for hosting a gingerbread house making party here.

4.  Make the kids a “Yes” tree.  Do you have little ones who love to fuss with the ornaments on the tree?  This is another wonderful idea from Tiffany, who says, “I made the kids a ‘YES’ tree that they can decorate and undecorate to their heart’s content!!”

yes

yes2

5.  Cancel something you didn’t really want to do.  Go ahead.  The world won’t end!  Do something that sounds fabulously fun (or completely lazy!) instead.

6.  Make Santa strawberries or other healthy but delightful treats.  Here is a round-up of ten whimsical (healthy) holiday treats to make with kids.

7.  Have an inside snowball fight!  Crumple up oodles of paper from the recycling bin and give each player a laundry basket full.  Find some good launching spots (behind the couch, behind a table…) and commence flinging!

8.  Have fun with boxes.  If you’re getting lots of boxes coming into the house right now, why not let the kids put them to use?  Let them use them to make robots, tunnels, playhouses, you name it.  You can be fancy and help out, like the ultra-creative mama at Life as a Thrifter

Or just let the kids loose to make up their own fun!

9.  Compliment each other, balloon style!  Pick someone in the room to focus on and toss a balloon up in the air.  Everybody else has to keep bopping the balloon up and keep it from hitting the ground.  You can’t bop it without calling out something fabulous about your subject though!  Think quick! See how long you can keep it up (and how many wonderful things people can think up about each other!).

10. Make a paper chain of happy memories and accomplishments from the past year.

Want more ways to make some more magic with your kids?  Here are 50 ways to make the holidays magical from my examiner column a couple of years ago. 

And with that, I’m off to make a little magic of my own.  Have a magical week!

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10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!  I’m popping in from the midst of our chaos to jot off a quick list of ways to make some memories this week, and to once more give myself a nudge to start posting more often.  After a dozen or so years of doing this I tend to get a bit lazy at times!  ;)

In any case, I hope you’re having a magical December so far.  Here’s a few ways to add a little magic with the kiddos…….

1.  No snow where you live?  Head to the beach and make an adorable sandman instead.  I love this lovely pic from Zontini Studios!

2.  Make some homemade gifts together.  You can try your hands at some DIY beeswax modeling clay or a felt board busy box (with a baby wipes container as a base!) or homemade watercolor paints or some wonderful edible treats.  Check out my homemade toys board or my handmade gifts board on Pinterest for some of my favorite ideas.

3.  Cut up a zillion paper snowflakes and decorate the house.  Paint them with watercolors to make them extra special.  Coffee filters make it even easier.

4.  Give each child a small amount of money and go shopping for the food shelf.  Let them choose what they buy, reminding them to look for stuff they’d want to eat but also that they can get a lot more by buying inexpensive items and they should aim for healthy too.  Go together to the food shelf or drop off spot.

5.  Turn a box into some sort of awesome hideout.  You can make a bear den or a cave or any number of other sweet little cubbies.  Add a reading light and a pillow, and it becomes a fantastic place to bring a pile of books!

 

6.  Make real sugarplums.  These are so much fun and healthy too!  Just fruit with a bit of orange juice pulsed together, then rolled in sugar, coconut flakes or something similar.  Here’s the instructions.

7.  Start a nightly read-aloud.  This time of year, we always gather and read “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” as a family over the space of a few nights.  Make some time to read aloud besides just at bedtime, particularly from books that suit all ages.

8.  If you get some snow, try snow dyeing.  Isn’t this the most beautiful effect?!

 

9.  Try making some LEGO holiday creations.  Here’s some ideas and help finding patterns.

 

10. String cranberries, popcorn and other edible goodies on trees outside for the birds and squirrels.  Be sure to put them near a window where you all can watch them being enjoyed!

And with that, chickadees, I’m off to make a little magic with a few kiddos of my own.  Have a wonderful week and don’t forget to take care of you!

 

 

 

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10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!

Sorry for disappearing for so long again.  It’s a busy time of year for us here, with lots of hiking to enjoy the season and lots of “putting things up” from our gardens, from friends’ apple trees and from produce bought in bulk from local farm families.

October is such a magical month.  It isn’t hard to find lots and lots of ways to make the days magical.  Here’s a few options for the week.

1.  Get the kids’ shoes or bare feet muddy and help them “walk” across the ceiling to leave muddy footprints. 

2.  Dress up the dog in a different crazy costume each night this week and go walking with the kids.

3.  Do some fall nature crafts.  You can find a round-up of ten of my favorites here.

4.  Use a pumpkin for a Mr. Potato Head or use playdough to make fun faces.  Here’s a few dozen other fun things to do with pumpkins besides just carving them.  :)

10 Ways to Make Today Magical 10-28

5.  Dress the kids up in their Halloween costumes and visit a nursing home to deliver treats to the residents (call first and find one who’d welcome the treats and visitors).

6.  Here’s a delightful suggestion from Sakina on the Magical Childhood Facebook page:  here is my magical childhood moment earlier today… perhaps it’s already on your list somewhere??… let your child become the make up artist on yourself.  :)

sakima

I love it!  :)  Thanks Sakina!

7.  Do some Day of the Dead crafts and teach the kids the history of this historic festival that honors loved ones who have died.  Here’s some information about the day and here’s some fun crafts.

8.  Learn how to do The Cup Song with the kids.  Or, go old school and teach them how to do The Macarena or The Hand Jive

9.  Dress the kids up in old fashioned clothes and go visit a historic site like a train museum or a pioneer village.  Pretend you live in those old times and talk about what it would be like.

10. Try this lovely idea from Parents: 

You can brighten your yard with this temporary art project that highlights (but doesn’t harm) a favorite tree. First soak sidewalk chalk in water for a couple of hours to soften it, then go outside and choose a tree that’s looking a little drab — the smoother the bark, the better. Rub the chalk on the trunk to give it a coat of color. Smooth out the chalk and blend the hues with a large paintbrush and water.

Originally published in the March 2013 issue of FamilyFun

And with that, my dears, I’m off to play ball with a small boy, bake some gluten free bread and wrestle some piles of laundry into order.

Have a magical week!

 

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10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!

I keep meaning to get back to posting daily or near-daily, but life is still so busy  here.  We are finishing up the season of “putting things up” — making applesauce and apple cider from extra apples on friends’ trees, grape jelly from Grandma’s backyard grapevines, salsa from flats of tomatoes from the farm family down the highway, and so on.  I love this season and I love that Daryl and I have taught ourselves these old fashioned skills and are teaching them to our kids, but it is a lot of work and I will also love the slower pace of winter once the apples, zucchinis, tomatoes, pumpkins and other goodies have all been dealt with.

We’ve also been busy with making the most of fall — lots of hiking and outings, nature studies and so on. 

Magical Childhood is always busy this time of year, when What Should a Four Year-Old Know? gets shared again and brings a new flurry of visitors.  Many of you know it was also shared in Huffington Post last month, and it was translated into another handful of languages.  Another neat thing is that a community magazine in North Dakota asked to reprint my article 10 Things to Do Instead of Yelling, which is one of my favorite articles from my parenting columns at examiner.com.  I’m trying to finish up the Magical Childhood book at last, too, but to be honest I am more than a little flaky about finishing it and I tend to go off and play when I should be working.  :)  Perhaps saying it here will help motivate me to get back to work!

And that’s enough yapping out of me. 

Here’s a few ways to make some memories with your kiddos this week…..

1.  Make some leaf art, like Color Me Katie She punched out little hearts from dead leaves and then created whimsical vines and such around her neighborhood with them.

2.  Wear fancy clothes all day, just because.  We’ve had a whole stash of thrift store costumes, capes and prom dresses for years to make an ordinary Monday seem more special.  :)

3.  Take your child out for coffee or dessert.  Head out someplace, just the two of you, to enjoy some lazy conversation over something tasty.  Take the time to really talk (and listen!).

4.  Bring the kiddie pool inside and fill it with fun nature items like dried leaves and seed pods.  Spread a sheet out underneath it to help with cleanup.  To make it even more fun, give your little one some markers to decorate the leaves and items.  Be sure to involve the kids in the clean up!

5.  Make pumpkin pie playdough.  We made this every fall for years and I need to make it up again soon (I’m going to try swapping corn flour for the flour for my gluten free little guy this time).  It smells heavenly and is so much fun to play with!  Note that this makes a lot (we have a lot of kids!), so feel free to use some math with the kids and make smaller batches.

Pumpkin Pie Playdough Recipe

  • 5-1/2 cups flour
  • 2 cups salt
  • 8 teaspoons of cream of tartar
  • 1 container (1-1/2 oz) of pumpkin pie spice  ( If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, just substitute cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves, or whatever combination of them you have on hand!)
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • orange food coloring (2 parts yellow, 1 part red)
  • 4 cups water

Mix all ingredients. Cook and stir over medium heat until all lumps disappear. Knead the dough on a floured surface until it is smooth. Store in a plastic bag.

Note:  For extra sensory fun, you can also let the kids press in some clean roasted pumpkin seeds. 

6.  Start a recipe box or cookbook of family recipes you teach your child.  Bake and cook them together and write each one out as you teach it to add to the collection.  Don’t know very many?  Learn together!

7.  Make some fall projects like twig looms.

8.  Write a letter to your child all about who he is right now, what he loves and why you love him.  Tuck it into someplace safe for the future.  Be sure to show him or tell him all those things too!

9.  Stick a giant piece of clean contact paper to a window (sliding glass doors are also perfect) and gather up an assortment of seasonal pretties for your child to stick to it.  You can use fall leaves, squares of colorful tissue paper, shapes cut from construction paper, natural items like milkweed fluff, you name it. 

10.  Be outrageously silly at odd times, for no reason, all day long!  Suddenly widen your eyes and say, “Oh no! I forgot to give you noisy kisses!” and scoop up your toddler.  Stick your tongue out and grin at your teenager.  Be silly as much as you possibly can.

And with that, magical people, I’m off to do the oh-so-magical task of several loads of laundry.  Perhaps I’ll tickle some small people on my way….

Have a wonderful week.  Don’t forget to take care of you!

 

 

 

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Ten Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!

I hope everything is fabulous in your little corner of the world.  I have a little girl on my lap as I type this so I’m going to try to be quick.

Here’s a few ways to make some memories with your favorite little (or big) people this week!

1.  Find a really old cookbook and make a meal fit for an old fashioned family.  Some of the intriguing recipes we’ve found include Porridge, Lone Ranger Sandwiches, Creamed Chicken in Potato Nests and Jumbo Prunes with Cream.  Some sound more tempting than others!

2.  Have a Project Runway challenge.  Let the kids pick out several yards of clearance fabric in glamorous, funky and fun patterns. Help them make their own scarves, doll clothes, dress up clothes, throw pillows or whatever they dream up. Iron on fusible tape instead of sewing seams, if you like (you do this part for younger kids, obviously), or teach them how to use a sewing machine. If you’re short on money you can let them use old clothes or sheets. 

3.  Set up a carnival in the back yard (or even in the basement or living room).  Make up your own games using whatever you have on hand — hula hoops, a kiddie pool, stuffed animals, cardboard boxes, you name it.  Invite some friends or neighbors to come join you if you like.

4.  Make painted soap clouds Microwave a half a bar of Ivory soap and then use liquid watercolors or watered down food coloring to make it beautiful colors.

5.  Have a silly word day.  Pick an ordinary word to be the silly word of the day, and anybody who accidentally says that word during the day has to do something silly.  For instance, if the silly word of the day is “car” and you forget and say it, you might cluck like a chicken or yodel. 

6.  Put birthday candles in dinner or dessert and let your little one blow them out again and again.

7.  Find a new-to-you park to explore together.

8.  Have the kids dress up and pose for old fashioned pictures.  You can use free editing software and apps to give them a proper old-time look!

9.  Or print out these fun printable disguises from Design House Digital and use them as props for a wacky photo shoot.  :)  Add fun hats, ties and other clothes to add to the look!

10. Have a balloon day.

balloon

And with that, I’m off to throw on some more presentable clothes for a volunteer appreciation picnic and toss any number of small and medium sized children into the car.

Have a magical week!

 

 

 

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Ten Ways To Make Today Magical

Hello magical people!  I hope everything is wonderful in your corner of the universe.  Here’s a few ways to make some memories with your kids this week.

1.  For September, use a white crayon to write an invisible message or fun activity on each square in the calendar. Each day, let your child color the square with a marker to reveal the secret message.

2.  Tie-dye some clothes with tissue paper and squirt guns.  I first saw this darling craft on Dollar Store Crafts (that’s their versions below!) and loved the versions (and reports on what worked best) at How to… do something.

3.  Have a paper airplane derby. You’ll find free patterns for simple to fancy planes, helicopters, rockets, frisbees and more here.  This is also a fun way to reuse old coloring pages, worksheets, scrapbooking paper and even maps.

4.  Make crab apple cider If you’re lucky enough to have access to crab apple trees, you have to try making crab apple cider with the kids!  It’s easy (no apple press required) and the cider is beautiful ruby red and delicious.  We have friends who go to a park near their home every fall to harvest unsprayed crab apples for this stuff since we introduced them to it.  It’s a fun, tasty tradition!

5.  Do bleach pen altering.  Here’s a shirt Victoria did a couple of years ago and here’s how she did it.

6.  Invent a secret handshake or special good-bye.  Some families have special handshakes that mom or dad do with each child every morning before school.  Victoria and I had a long series of signs we went through every night when she went to bed for years.  It’s a special way to start the day or end the night and know you’re loved.

7.  Start making toasts every night at supper.

8.  Have a bake-off for your pup!  The internet is full of fun and easy recipes for dog treats, from sweet potato “rawhide” dog chews to gluten free pumpkin dog cookies to no-bake peanut butter oat balls. You can find assortments of recipes on sites like Dog Treat Recipes too.  Make up an assortment together and have your dogs do a taste test to determine their favorites. 

9.  Have a cleaning party with the kids.  Dress up in fabulous play dress-up clothes (party hats and/or tiaras are a must!), blast some happy music, grab some fun treats and clean like crazy together.  Set a timer for every 15 minutes to take a break and enjoy some treats together, and concentrate on being as wild and wacky as possible as you clean.  Decide on a fun family treat to enjoy together when you’re done. Who says cleaning has to be dull?!

10. See if a city near you has a sculpture walk.  Our family loves to visit Sioux Falls every year to walk the annual “sculpture walk” downtown.  Dozens of artists display their sculpture each year and the city gives out pamphlets that tell a little bit about each piece and let you vote on your favorite.  We all walk the streets together checking out all of the works and deciding which ones we like best.  I just found out that a city even closer to us has an annual sculpture walk too.

And with that, my dears, I’m off to catch up on the other 99 things on my to-do list!  Have a wonderful week and don’t forget to take care of you!

 

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10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!  Sorry I’ve gone off for so long again.  I seem to always be behind in everything but my heartbeat.  :)

Here’s a few ways to make some magic with your kiddos this week….

1.  Plan a silly theme pot luck in the park with friends.  Have the kids agree on a theme (foods that start with B, family heritage recipes, naturally red foods, finger foods, foods on a stick, round foods…) and meet up at the park to enjoy the fun together.

2.  Do art in the rain.  Whether it’s drizzling or full on pouring, gather some sturdy cardstock, watercolor paper, canvas or poster board and art supplies and go out to create in it.  Let the rain help make the art.  Lay the paper flat to see how the raindrops splatter paint and markers as the kids create, or prop it up on an easel to make running paint effects.  Bring it someplace safe to dry and then admire the kids’ artistic collaborations with nature.  No rain?  Use the sprinkler!

3.  Explore a cave.

4.  Make mix-and-match fruit slushies.  Just freeze some fruit (chopped if it’s large, or whole if it’s small like berries) and then blend it in a strong blender with a little water and a bit of sugar to taste.  Let the kids mix and match flavors and colors and then do taste tests to choose favorite combinations.  If you have an ice cream maker you can also make fruit slushies or a soft serve sorbet by pouring in juice instead of your milk mixture.

5.  Decorate some old hats as crazy as you can, and then wear them out in public. 

6.  Clear out a back closet or other out of the way place to become a secret hideaway for your child.  Stock it with flashlights and lots of fun items to decorate it.

7.  Start a family poem wall.  Put up a large piece of paper on a door and put a pen nearby.  Ask every family member to add a word every time he or she passes.  It can be silly or serious.  Save the finished poems in an album or scrapbook.

8.  Make a bubble frenzy somewhere public.  Get lots of bottles of good bubbles and head out someplace where you and the kids can make masses of bubbles to bring smiles to as many faces as possible.  We used to love to do this at a park on a corner where evening traffic was always congested, just to see the smiles break out on grumpy drivers’ faces.

9.  Drape some blankets over a clothesline, tree, tent poles or other props in the back yard and make some impromptu forts.  Stock the insides with some fun books, games, snacks, a flashlight, whatever, and see what fun the kids dream up to have in their new fun space.

10. Go to another town and on the way make up totally different identities for yourselves.  I’ve recommended this one several times over the years, because it’s a family favorite.  :)  All day, call yourselves by your fake names and play along with your alternate life.  Encourage the kids to really get creative for eavesdroppers. 

And with that, my pretties, I’m off to tackle the next 99 things on my to-do list… or get distracted by something shiny on the internet.  That’s pretty likely too!

Have a magical week!

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