Let Your Children Show Others Just How Thankful They Are

As Thanksgiving rolls around, the conversation ultimately centers on how thankful we are.  As parents, we use this time of year as a stepping stone to one of those “teachable moments”.  Each year we feel obligated to remind our kids of all the things that they should be thankful for.  This is a good thing, and by all means- keep it up!  But instead of more stories of Pilgrims, turkeys, and abundant harvests, why don’t you use this year as an opportunity to let your children show someone else how thankful they are?

It’s simple. Download and print the attached Thanksgiving Thank You notes. (There are four to a page, so you’ll need to cut it into 1/4’s as indicated.)  On each 1/4 sheet, have your child write why they are thankful that so-and-so is a part of their life.  Have them do this for each guest you are having dinner with or for anyone important in their lives.  This simple exercise forces children to think about each person individually and brings to their conscious the reasons why that person is special to them.

Let me tell you something from experience.  Being the recipient of such a thoughtful sentiment is more meaningful than turkey, stuffing, and stories of pilgrims.  It’s a true blessing to be thankful for that will last the whole year through.

Click here to download your Thanksgiving Thank You notes.

Mother’s Day Coupons – a Special Project for Mom in 4 Easy Steps

Moms LOVE when their kids take a moment out of their day to do something nice for them.  Even if they just put their own plate in the dishwasher us mothers tend to get very excited.  Imagine how thrilled we’d be with a book of “Just for You Mom” Coupons?  It’s an easy project for the kids to do for Mom, Grandma or any special person in their life.  (Oh, if you’re a mom reading this, then maybe you should show this post to dad and say “hint hint”.)

Here’s how easy it is:

1.  Be creative about what the coupons are for. Some ideas include: free dish-washing, free hug, free laundry-doing, free kitchen clean-up, free massage, free hair styling, free gardening-for-an-afternoon, etc. You could also offer to cook certain meals for a specified time, or to bake treats.

Step 1 - How to Make Mother's Day Coupons

 

2.  Gather about 3-4 different paper colors. They can be white or colored (pink, yellow, purple, red, etc).  Cut them into equal sizes.

Step 2. How to Make Mother's Day Coupons

 

3.  Write out your coupons and decorate them.  You can color them, add glitter, stickers, or leave them plain if you’d like.

Step 3. How to Make Mother's Day Coupons

4.  Staple your coupons together in the form of a coupon book or place them in an envelope.  They are now ready to give to Mom, Grandma, or anyone you love!

Step 4. How to Make Mother's Day Coupons

 

The instructional portion of this article was provided by wikiHow, a wiki building the world’s largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Make Mother’s Day Coupons. Content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons License.

Easter Themed Scavenger Hunt

Round up the whole family for an Easter Themed Scavenger Hunt!
Round up the whole family for an Easter Themed Scavenger Hunt!

After the Easter Baskets are found and dinner is consumed, you may want to plan an activity to help burn off some of that excess sugar.  An Easter Themed Scavenger Hunt is the perfect way to get the kids focused on an activity that will get them moving and keep them occupied – at least for a little while!

Download your printable copy of the Easter Themed Scavenger Hunt here:

_______ Easter Basket

_______ Stuffed Animal

_______ Chocolate Egg

_______ Cross

_______ Easter Basket Grass

_______ Red Jelly Bean

_______ Easter Bunny

_______ Flower

_______ Lamb

_______ Plastic Easter Egg

_______ Real Easter Egg

_______ Easter Hat

_______ Baby Chick (Can be candy, toy or real)

_______ Easter Card

_______ Easter Decoration

_______ Chocolate Easter Bunny

Spy Games for Kids – Create Your Own Invisible Ink in 4 Easy Steps

Secret messages, treasures maps, and notes that big brother or sister isn’t allowed to read – those are a few of the many reasons why young kids need to know how to make invisible ink!  Luckily for Mom, it’s easy, non-toxic, and shouldn’t make a big mess.  You only need two ingredients – baking soda and water.

 

Step 1.  Mix equal parts water and baking soda.

Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 12.38.26 PM

Step 2. Dab a cotton swab, toothpick, or paintbrush into the mix.

Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 12.38.47 PM

Step 3. Write a message onto white paper using the baking soda solution as the ink.
Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 12.38.53 PM

Step 4. Allow the ink to dry thoroughly.
Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 12.39.07 PM

Reading the message is easy, and there are two ways to do it. The first is to hold the paper up to a heat source. An incandescent light works perfectly for this. The baking soda will cause the writing on the paper to turn brown.
Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 12.39.15 PM

The second option is to paint over the message with purple grape juice. The message will appear in a different color than the juice.

Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 12.39.22 PM

 

The instructional portion of this article was provided by wikiHow, a wiki building the world’s largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Make Invisible Ink. Content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons License.

How to Build A Plastic Parachute Guy

Here’s the perfect project to cure boredom.  Help your kids build their very own plastic parachuter and they’ll have something fun to play with today AND tomorrow.  It’s fun and easy to do, and best of all – it’s the perfect project for families to do together.

What you need:

  • A plastic grocery store bag
  • Scissors
  • String or twine
  • A marker
  • Tape
  • A hole punch
  • A small figure or weight to act as your parachutist
Gather Your Necessary Supplies.
Gather Your Necessary Supplies.
Cut out your parachute.
Lay your plastic bag flat. Draw a large circle on the center of the bag. It is easiest if you trace a plate or large plastic bowl.
Mark 4 evenly spaced spots on your circle.
Mark four evenly spaced spots on the edge of your circle. This is where you will attach the parachute strings.
Place a small piece of tape over your marked areas.
Place a small piece of tape over your marked areas. This will provide reinforcement so that the plastic doesn’t tear.
Using a hole punch, punch a hole in the four spots that you taped and marked.
Using a hole punch, punch a hole in the four spots that you taped and marked.
Cut four equal-length strings the length of which should be slightly longer than the diameter of the plastic circle.
Cut four equal-length strings the length of which should be slightly longer than the diameter of the plastic circle.
Carefully tie one string to each of the holes you made in the plastic.  Be careful not to rip the plastic.
Carefully tie one string to each of the holes you made in the plastic. Be careful not to rip the plastic.
Tie the strings around your object.  A plastic army man, a figurine, or other small toy that weighs 5 to 10 grams is best.
Tie the strings around your object. A plastic army man, a figurine, or other small toy that weighs 5 to 10 grams is best.
You're all set!  Just drop your parachuter off a high spot and you'll see the chute open up and begin to catch air.
You’re all set! Just drop your parachuter off a high spot and you’ll see the chute open up and begin to catch air.

If you like projects like this, check out the Duct Tape Project CD series titled Warfare By Duct Tape.  The projects in these e-books will keep kids busy for hours.  They’ll learn how to make a shield, a sword, and even a helmet.  If outdoor projects are more your style, then the Handy Dad Series books are perfect.   If science is your thing, then check out The Geek Dad Book for Aspiring Mad Scientists.  It’s a fun father/son science project book.

The instructional portion of this article was provided by wikiHow, a wiki building the world’s largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Make a Plastic Parchute. Content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons License.

How to Make the Perfect Stunt Plane Paper Airplane

It’s easy to make the perfect paper airplane that flies loop de loops.  All you need is a piece of paper and you’re all set!

How to Make a Perfect Paper Airplane
Step 1. Start with a plain piece of paper. You can use any size you’d like. In this example, we took a regular notebook-sized piece and cut the bottom 1/3 off.
How to Make a Perfect Paper Airplane
Step 2. Open the folded paper. Fold the top two corners towards the middle until they meet with the crease.
How to Make the Perfect Paper Airplane
Step 3. Fold the point straight down to the bottom edge of the paper.
How to Make a Perfect Paper Airplane
Step 4. Flip the paper over and repeat step 2.
How to Make a Perfect Paper Airplane
Step 5. Turn the paper over again. You will see a perfect triangle formed at the top. Fold the bottom half of the diamond up to form a triangle at the top.
How to Make a Paper Airplane
Step 6. Fold the airplane in half keeping your newly formed triangle on the outside of the fold.
How to Make A Perfect Paper Airplane
Step 7. Fold each wing down to form the plane.

If you need help or get stuck making this plane, you can view the animated instructions here.  For even more paper airplane ideas and instructions, check out the Dangerous Book For Boys.  It’s loaded with fun projects and ideas to keep your boys busy.

The instructional portion of this article was provided by wikiHow, a wiki building the world’s largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Make a Paper Airplane.  Content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons License.

A Sweet Home Science Experiment for Kids – Rock Candy

Old fashioned rock candy is as fun to make as it to eat.  In doing this experiment, you’ll experience first hand the properties of saturated and unsaturated solutions and the effect that heat has on both.  While there may be more exciting at home science experiments for kids, this one is definitely the sweetest.

Rock Candy Science Experiment for kids
Create your own Rock Candy in this simple science experiment for kids.

For this kids science experiment you will need:

  • a clean wooden skewer
  • a clothespin
  • 1 cup of  water
  • approximately 3 cups of sugar
  • a tall narrow glass jar
  • An adult to help you because this experiment uses extremely hot liquids.
  • Food coloring (optional)

What to do:

  1. Pour the water into the pan and bring it to a boil.
  2. Add ½ c. of sugar and stir it until it dissolves.
  3. Keep adding more sugar, ¼ c. at a time until no more sugar will dissolve.  Stir continuously.  This requires time and patience because as you add more and more sugar, it will take longer for it to dissolve.  This is also where most mistakes are made.   People lose patience and quit stirring too early.  If you don’t create a completely saturated sugar/water solution, your rock candy will not form.
  4. Once you are sure that no more sugar will dissolve into the water, remove the pot from the heat.  If you would like to stir food color in to your solution, do so now.
  5. Allow the solution to cool for at least 25 minutes.
  6. While the mixture is cooling, dip the skewer into the solution and roll it in sugar.  This will give the crystals a head start so they will grow faster.
  7. Have an adult pour the sugar solution into a clean glass.
  8. Clip the skewer into the clothespin and lay the clothespin across the top of the jar so that the skewer hangs down into the liquid but does not touch the bottom.
  9. Carefully move your jar to a place where your jar will not be disturbed.  Your crystals will grow in 3 to 7 days.

How does the science behind this work?  Well, when you heated the water and added the sugar, you created a completely saturated solution.  The water could only dissolve that much sugar because it was so hot.  Therefore, when the solution cooled, the sugar was released from the water and solid sugar crystals formed creating Rock Candy.

Want to try some other SWEET science experiments?  The Soda Geyser Car uses Mentos candy and a 2 liter bottle of soda to create a rocket car.  The Great Geysers Science Kit uses similar candy and the principles of chemical reactions to create some amazing geysers.  Check out JM Cremp’s Science Department for these and other great at home science experiments for kids.

The above photo”Rock Candy Sticks” by Evan-Amos is licensed under CC 3.0.

Best Board Games for Bored Kids

It’s that time of year again. The weather is turning, and with more rainy days and evenings spent indoors, finding quality entertainment for your kids and family can be challenge. JM Cremp’s has the perfect solution! Stave off boredom and promote electronic-free family time with a good, ol’fashinoned board game.

Electronics have replaced the board games in many modern day households, but nothing can replace the fun and laughter generated around a good game of The Settlers of Catan. Whether it’s a game of strategy, chance or knowledge, kids both young and old can enhance and develop life skills from participating in a game. JM Cremp’s has a huge selection of board games that will keep your kids entertained and bring your family closer together.

CAMP Board Game – Camp Board Game
CAMP is a fun, educational game and a great way for the whole family to increase their knowledge about the great outdoors. With four levels of questions, this game will challenge a 4 year old as well as a 70 year old. You will enjoy an evening of learning and laughter as everyone races back to camp question by question.

Catan Junior –
Pirates, ships, gold and treasure, what more could you want?  This game is a great way to Screen shot 2013-10-05 at 3.56.48 PMintroduce younger players, age 6 and up, to the fun and adventure of the Catan Games.

Catan Junior takes place on a ring of tropical islands. Each island contains a resource you need: wood, goats, cutlasses, molasses, and even gold!  To start with, you have two pirate lairs, and as the game goes on, you’ll build ships and expand your territory. The more you expand, the more you resources you can acquire. The first player to control 7 pirate lairs wins.  Just watch out for that dreaded Ghost Captain.

Checkout the original Settlers of Catan game for older players.  It is one of the top rated board games of all time and will provide hours of entertainment, adventure and fun.

Fall Leaf Carving Project – An Advanced Wood Whittling Project for Kids

Fall Leaf Wood Carving Project
Choose any leaf you like to use as your pattern to carve your own Fall Leaf.

Wood whittling projects are a popular and timeless activity that have been enjoyed by generations of boys, girls, and adults.  A good whittling project is a great way to get your adventurous boys away from their electronic devices.  Our original blog post on wood whittling covered the basics, and it featured a beginner’s wood whittling project.  If you’ve conquered the basics and are looking for something a little more advanced, then this Fall Leaf Carving Project should fit the bill.

Supplies Needed:
Whittling or Carving Knife
Thumb Guard (recomended for safety)
A carving block made of soft wood that is wide enough to fit your leaf
A real leaf

Step 1 –  Find a leaf that has a shape you really like.  Oak leaves, maple leaves, and birch leaves work well.

Step 2 –  Trace the leaf onto your carving block so that the grain of the wood runs straight up through the leaf from top to bottom.  (This will make it easier for you to carve.)

Step 3 –  Begin to whittle your leaf.  First whittle the basic shape of your leaf along the edges you traced.  (Remember to carve with the grain.)

Step 4 –  After you have the basic shape of your leaf carved, begin to round the edges and carve the top and bottom of your leaf.  You can carve it to be as thick or as thin as you want.

Step 5 –  After you have top and bottom rounded and trimmed to the thickness you want it to be, you can then carve in the details of your leaf.  Add the veins and lines that run through the leaf.  If you want, you can also carve the edges so that they look like they curl up.

Fall Leaf Wood Carving Project
Once you have the basic shape of your leaf done, you can finish it by carving in the details or painting it.

Finish your leaf –  At this point, you can do many things with your leaf.  You can carve your name into it, paint it, or varnish it.  Carve several leaves to decorate the Thanksgiving dinner table.   Drill a hole in your leaf and tie a string through it to make a personalized Christmas decoration.   Carved leaves like this make very nice personalized gifts for family and friends.

Tips –

If it has been a while since you’ve whittled or carved anything, then you may want to review the basics of wood whittling first.

When you are choosing a block of wood to use, try to pick one that isn’t too thick.  This way you won’t have to spend a lot of time carving it down to a manageable thickness.

If you are looking for other fun whittling projects for kids, then check out the Little Book of Whittling for some great ideas.

Erupt Your Own Giant Soda Geyser – At Home Science Experiment for Kids

This fun science experiment for kids is easy, exciting, and brings “oohs” and “aahs” from everyone around.   It’s easy to do – just drop the mentos into the bottle of soda and watch the eruption!  This experiment is as exciting as Fourth of July fireworks with the added benefit of a mini science lesson.

Soda Geyser Tube At Home Science Experiments for Kids
Think how much fun they’ll have erupting a bottle of soda!

What exactly will your kids learn from this dramatic experiment? They’ll learn that a chemical reaction occurs when two substances combine to form a new substance.   If you explain this concept to them before the experiment, they will see with their own eyes this simple and amazing transformation.   In this case, the demonstration will be the most valuable part of the lesson.

You will need:

One 2-liter bottle of diet soda
One package of Mentos mint candy
One empty toilet paper roll

Step 1:  Slice the toilet paper roll lengthwise so that it fits into mouth of the soda bottle.  This creates a tube that will allow you to drop the entire package of Mentos into the bottle at one time.

Step 2:  Slide all of the Mentos through the soda tube – and RUN!  In an instant, the chemical reaction will begin to take place between the candy and the soda, and your soda bottle will shoot a geyser into the air up to 25 feet high!

TIPS:  Do this kids science experiment outside – otherwise, your house will never be the same again!  Also, you can use regular soda, but diet soda works a little better and doesn’t leave a sticky mess behind.

To make this experiment go off without a hitch, pick up the Geyser Tube kit.  It contains a package of mentos and a special tube that makes quick work of adding the mentos to the soda.  (No cutting toilet paper rolls here!)  At under six dollars, it’s a good deal because the tube can be used over and over again.

At home science experiments like this one are not only exciting for your kids, they can help to foster a life long love of science.   JM Cremps carries many home science experiments kits for kids of all ages.  Our Gravity Goo Science Experiments for Kids kit allows them to create a special goo that will defy gravity right before their very eyes.  If launching rockets is more in line with your child’s way of thinking, then the Pop Top Rockets Kit will really intrigue them.  If engines and electronics are more popular at your house, then the “Build Your Own Internal Combustion Engine” Kit is a great tool for your youngsters to learn the basics of a modern engine.   The kit contains everything they’ll need to build a complete working engine and includes detailed instructions for every step of the process.