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Activities for Kids Archives | Page 4 of 7 | Imperfect Homemaker

Category Archives for Activities for Kids

Cell Phone Safety for Kids

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Kajeet. All opinions are 100% mine.

 

As our kids get older, my husband and I try to think ahead and plan for what they will and will not be allowed to do, and why.  I don't want things to catch me by surprise. (Although I'm sure there are plenty of things that will anyway.)

One of the things we have talked about is the issue of cell phones.  Call us old-fashioned, but we don't think our children have any business being able to call or text whomever they want whenever they want, play games all the time, or access the internet on their cell phone.

One of us said how it would be nice if there was a way for parents to set which numbers the phone can call and receive calls from, as well as to control how much the phone is able to be used at all.

Shortly after that conversation, I received an offer to post a sponsored post about Kajeet, a wireless service devoted to kids.  Since I never post anything sponsored just for the money, but truly try to serve you, my readers, and post only things I would buy and use myself, I did what I always do and scoured the information to make sure it was something I could truly recommend.

After looking at all of the information about Kajeet, I can honestly say it offers everything my husband and I were hoping for and more!

*Note: our oldest child is only 6 years old and the only time he is away from home is when we are with him.  We aren't thinking about getting him his own phone — yet.  But we are definitely tucking this information away to revisit when is a little older.

 

Cell Phone Safety for Kids

 

Here is what we found out about Kajeet:

1. Free, unlimited, parental controls that are manageable from a computer and allow parents to:
a.) Set time limits on phone use to prevent late night texting (or simple over-use of the phone.)
b.) Block unwanted calls, but always ensure that those from mom and dad get through.
c.) Manage what websites can be accessed (even on Android™ smartphones).
d.) Decide who pays for certain services, like games or ringtones.
e.) Find your child (or his/her phone if it gets lost or stolen) with GPS locating (included in select service plans or as an add-on)

Note about time limits: If your child's phone is not able to be used during a certain time period, you can set the controls to ALWAYS allow calls from mom and dad to come through, no matter what.  No other service has this ability.

2. Affordable plans that start at just $4.99/month.
a.) No activation fee.
b.) No termination fee.
c.) No long-term contract.
d.) No hassles if you need to change your plan. Change it whenever you need or want to, with no penalty.

3.  Choose a popular Android™ smartphone (including the Samsung Galaxy S III 4G LTE or the LG Viper 4G LTE) or a more basic, “starter” phone (like the Kyocera Domino).

4. 4G LTE coverage is available on Kajeet (on select 4G LTE devices and in regions where 4G LTE coverage is available).

 

Kajeet has received awards and recognition from PTPA Media, the Mom’s Choice Awards, iParenting and NAPPA (the National Parenting Publication Awards), and it is easy to see why!

 

You can purchase a phone from Kajeet directly on the Kajeet website. (Be sure to verify whether or not there is coverage in your area.) You can check the Kajeet coverage map here.

 

I don't think your child's safety is worth messing around with.  If they're away from home, be sure you always have a way to contact them and vice versa.  At the same time, make sure that same safety device is not endangering them in the sense of their being able to access the internet without permission or call and receive calls from questionable friends.

Do you have any other tips for keeping kids safe when they're away from home?  I'd love to hear them!

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Frugal Role-Play with Preschoolers

Guest post from Imperfect Homemaker contributor, Andrea.

Frugal Role Play jpg
I don’t know about your kids, but my kids absolutely love to play dress-up.  We have more toy bins dedicated to dress-up and role playing than any other type of toy.  When I walk into my kids’ room, the floor is nearly always strewn with hats, scarves, coats, dresses, and accessories.  My kids may love dressing up, but my wallet doesn’t like the cost of buying dress-up outfits at the toy store.  I always get sticker shock, and then am disappointed in the quality of the items.  So we have found other ways to feed their role-playing habits.

I was especially inspired to make my own dress-up items after visiting the children’s museum in Fayetteville, NC on a recent trip.  The kids move from room to room and get to play farmer, supermarket, ambulance, ER, dentist, post office, banker, army man, TV weather forecaster, and more.  Most of the items were “real” items from that profession, and my kids had a blast.  They were willing to forfeit lunch in order to stay and play longer!

Here are some ideas for frugal role-play and dress-up:

Use “real” clothing that is larger in size.  When we get hand-me-downs, I throw some of the scarves, hats, frilly skirts, and dressy shoes into the dress-up bin.  The kids love it.  They are creative and turn scarves into ropes when they are braving a hurricane from the safety of the bunk-bed.  Purses become shopping bags when they “walk” to the store with their doggies.  They love playing with “real” items.

Save household and kitchen items.  When we empty an egg carton I give it to the kids to play with.  After a few days it has usually been stepped on and smooshed a hundred times, so we toss it out.  There will always be another one coming!  I rinse out vitamin bottles and save Band-Aid boxes for doctor play.  We have a plastic Starbucks coffee cup and old measuring cups for our “kitchen”.  Dead cell phones go in the toy drawer, and all of my kids love to walk around talking on a “real” phone.  (My husband wears out his phones quickly!)  When I am ready to pass on a scarf or necklace, I usually take it to the dress-up box instead of Good Will.

 

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-Make your own.  At the children’s museum, in the play Post Office, my kids loved sorting mail and handing out packages.  So I saved envelopes from the mail for about a week, laminated them, taped up a couple of small boxes, and turned an old wipes box into a mail box.  Put on a blue shirt from Daddy’s closet, and voilà!  Instant Post Office.  We play with it for a few days and then pack it away for a few days to keep things new and exciting.

Post Office Role Play

Post Office Role Play

Post Office Role Play

 

An old box can become anything you can imagine.  My kids love to pretend it’s a boat.  We usually keep the boxes from our diaper shipment around the house for a few days.  Turn the box upside down and glue on some red construction paper circles for a stove.  Cut a hole for a mailbox.  Make a baby cradle.  The possibilities are endless (and free!).  Two liter bottles become a jet pack.  A towel and clothespin becomes a super hero cape.  An empty toilet paper tube or paper towel tube can become binoculars or a pirate spyglass.  We cut necktie shapes out of fabric scraps and added a ribbon for instant dress-up.

N is for Necktie

 

Play store by setting out some toys on the coffee table.  Print out some paper money and give them a purse.  One child gets to be the shop keeper and one child can be the customer.  We use my daughter's baby stroller to be the shopping cart.  I love spending $5 and getting $20 in change!  (We will work on math skills in Kindergarten this year 🙂

My daughter loves to play Mommy, Little Girl, and Baby.  She usually gets to be the Mommy and my husband or I is the little girl.  I gave her a couple of real baby bottles, some newborn size onesies, cloth wipes from my diaper stash, and an old receiving blanket.  She uses the tray from one of the twins’ highchair, and we set up a little meal, change some diapers, put the baby to sleep, and have a good time.  No expensive baby doll accessories needed!

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–If there is a particular role-playing adventure that you would like to have with your child, you can scour garage sales and thrift stores for needed items.   You could find army items like canteens and binoculars.  Old hats, gloves, purses, etc. can usually be purchased very inexpensively.  I recently found some tiny tin muffin trays at a garage sale for 25 cents.  Perfect addition to the kitchen set!

If you really need some inspiration, Pinterest offers just about every DIY imaginable!  I have a Pinterest idea board with some frugal options, as well as ideas that may take a little more time or money.  They make great gifts!  Now get off the computer and go have some role-playing fun!

How to Be Your Kids’ Hero When You’re Not the Supermom Type

Pinterest is fabulous.  It's a treasure trove of incredible ideas.

But many times the ideas you find are completely unrealistic for normal people.

 

It may seem like every good mom makes teddy-bear shaped pancakes for her kids to eat for breakfast.  It may seem like every good mom carefully plans out complicated crafts for her kids on a regular basis.  It may seem like your children are missing out because you've never made a homemade water blob or braided your daughter's hair like a princess.

 

Let me tell you something.  Most of the moms I know are happy to stick a piece of toast in front of their kids and call it good.  Doing a craft means pulling out the construction paper and some crayons (markers only if mom's in a really good mood).  Homemade water blobs?  Sorry kids, not that, but you might be allowed to play in the sprinkler if I have any clean towels for you to dry off with afterward.  And the hair thing?  In the amount of time it would take me to watch enough YouTube videos to figure out how to do that, you will have outgrown the desire to have your hair braided like a princess anyway.

 

But it is still possible to do fun stuff with your kids even if you are regular old, plain jane, boring type of mom.

Here are some ideas of fun things to do with your kids when you don't have 3 hours to assemble craft supplies or watch youtube videos about doing girl's hair.

How to be Your Kids' Hero When You're Not the Supermom Type - great encouragement when it feels like you're a boring mom!

 

1. Go outside and play with them.  Play with a stick, a ball, a bike, anything.  Your kids will be thrilled to have you outside giving them your full attention.  No homemade water blobs required.

2. Read books to them.  When I was growing up I loved nothing more than for my mom to read to me — and I learned to read and write before I ever started kindergarten.  Regardless of what you might learn from Pinterest, children can learn to read and write without creating letters out of playdough, cutting their sandwiches into letter shapes, and tracing letters in the sand.  (I'm not saying there's anything wrong with those learning activities, but if you're the non-supermom type, rest assured that snuggling your child in your lap with a book is just as exciting and educational for them.)

3. Buy store-bought treats.  Guess what?  Your kids will like fruit snacks from the store every bit as much as the homemade ones you saw on Pinterest.  (Disclaimer: the homemade ones are probably more healthy, but you can find store-bought organic options without a lot of nasty additives — like these.)  The secret is to make treats be…well…treats.  If you give your kids treats every single day it's no longer a treat and they will always be wanting something bigger and better.  But when a treat is really a treat, you will absolutely make your kids' day when you bring home something fun from the store.  (And their health will be a lot better off too.)

4. Let them help you cook.  You have to cook anyway, so you might as well let the kids join you.  You'll be getting dinner made and spending time with your kids all at the same time.  Cutting cheese slices into animal shapes won't be necessary, as it will be all the fun your kids need just to be with you, feeling all grown up about cooking.  Not sure what the teeny tiny ones can do to help?  Here are 10 ways kids can help in the kitchen.  If you want some more in-depth info, Laura at Heavenly Homemakers has a couple great e-books: “What to do With Your Kids in the Kitchen” and “Teaching Your Kids to Cook“, or this 12 Week Cooking With Kids Curriculum is awesome!

5. Do crafts together.  Personally, I think a kid gets a kick out of doing crafts regardless of complicated they are.  The opportunity to use scissors and glue puts a smile on my kids' face.  There are hundreds of incredible craft ideas on Pinterest, but many of them make me shudder at the thought of trying to help my kids complete them without their having a meltdown that their melted crayon art didn't turn out exactly as they'd hoped.

melted crayon art

image via craftfail.com

 

Instead of going for the super-complicated crafts on Pinterest, keep it simple.  Your kids will probably actually enjoy it more anyway due to their short attention spans, and you'll be a lot less stressed.

Oh, and if you want to spend a few dollars to take even more stress out of the whole craft thing (can you tell I'm not the crafty kind of mom?), you'll want to take advantage of this free box from Kiwi Crate!  This is one of those things that will make you look like supermom without your having to do any work.  I normally wouldn't spend extra money on stuff like this, but when you only pay $3.95 for the cost of shipping, I say it's worth it to do something that your kids will think is totally cool!  (Just please don't forget to cancel your subscription after you receive your free box – unless you want to keep the subscription of course.)  You can get that free box here.

Free craft box from Kiwi Crate

 

All right, you other non-supermoms –  what other ideas can you share?  What makes your kids' day without giving you gray hair in the process?

 

 

 Oh, yes.  I'd be bad not to mention this book that is a lifesaver for so many frazzled moms who are trying to get a little housework done without kids making messes behind them as they go.  And of course, these are all non-supermom activities!  Get more details here, or get it now:

[wp_eStore_fancy1 id=7]

101 Independent Activities for Kids

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Lost Sock Day: Putting Lonely Socks to Useful Purposes

Guest post from Imperfect Homemaker contributor, Andrea.


Lost Sock Day jpg

 

Did you know that there was a holiday for missing socks?  Neither did I!  But let me tell you – I have lots of experience with missing socks!  My family does not have a washer and dryer in our urban apartment, so we utilize the laundry mat.  And nearly without fail, we come home with at least one mate-less sock.  I think this quote sums it up for me:

                “I have come to the conclusion that dryer lint is the cremated remains of all my missing socks.”

Or perhaps you can relate to this one:

42c7cfc26630175d179f672bce846be8

Whatever the reason, I’m sure we all have some missing socks in our homes!  I always hate to throw away those perfectly good socks, just because their mate is M.I.A..  So what can we do to put lonely socks to useful purposes?  A quick search on Pinterest revealed many ideas.  Here is a list of the best ideas I found, and a few of my own ideas too!

Children:

  • Make a Sock Fishing Game:  Basically, you stick a heavy duty magnet down in the toe of a baby/child’s sock, then stuff it (with paper, fabric, etc.).  Tie up the ends, decorate it, and you have an adorable homemade fishing game that the kids will love!  I made this with my kids and shared it on my blog here.
  • Sock Puppets:  Put a few miscellaneous craft supplies to use and get creative with your kids making sock puppets!
  • Foxtails:  You know – those balls with a tail?  Stick a tennis ball in a lonely tube sock, tie with a hair rubber band, and go play in the back yard!  If you want more information on Foxtails, check out this link.
  • Baby Doll Socks: My daughter loves to dress her baby doll in real baby clothes – the ones left over from her siblings.  Give the mismatched baby socks to your kids to dress up their dolls or stuffed animals.  (As long as your child is not OCD about matching).
  • Dog Toy: Not exactly for your kids, unless they like to play with the dog.  As a kid I used to tie knots in old socks to make a tug-o-war rope for the dogs.

Crafts:

You can make all kinds of crafts with lonely socks!  Here are a few ideas to get you started (and there are many variations on Pinterest!)

Household:

  • Bottle Sleeve: Use a lonely sock to insulate your water bottle in the summer.  It will absorb the “sweat” from your bottle and keep items in your bag/purse dry!
  • Suitcase Organization:  My family is on deputation for missionary work right now, and we are doing a lot of traveling.  There are always tiny items getting lost in the abyss of the suitcase.  Use various sized lonely socks to organize everything from jewelry, to belts and accessories, to kids’ bow ties and hair bows.  I can’t wait to put this idea to use on our next trip!
  • Dusting:  Slide a sock over your hand and dust away.  This would be especially helpful when using furniture polish.  I use Scotts Liquid Gold on my wood furniture, but I hate touching the rag and getting the oils all over my skin.  You could also make a reusable Swiffer-type duster out of old socks.
  • Shoe Polishing: You can use mate-less socks to polish your shoes.  When they are worn out, toss them in the garbage and start over with another lonely sock!
  • Shipping:  Use socks to pack valuables for shipping or moving.  You could place glasses and stemware into the sock itself, or use the socks to pack around items in a box.
  • GPS/Electronic Protector: We do not leave our GPS in the windshield because it invites theft.  We have had our car window broken twice since moving to Brooklyn; in each case something electronic was the target.  One time we think they were looking for the GPS because the glove box had been emptied.  However, I stored my GPS in a cosmetic bag in the side door, and so the thief came up empty handed.  You could use a lonely sock to protect electronics such as your GPS, and “camouflage” them at the same time!
  • Soap Exfoliator: Slide a bar of soap into a mate-less sock and wash the car, the bathtub, or even yourself.  The sock will exfoliate the soap suds!

My last tip comes from personal experience.  These are ideas are great for using those lonely socks.  But it may be better to prevent the missing sock epidemic from happening in the first place.  I throw all of my kids’ socks into a mesh laundry bag prior to heading to the laundry mat. img_6112

I wash and dry them in the bag.  They are usually still damp after going through a dry cycle this way.  When I get home I spread them all over the dining room table to air dry overnight, and then I mate them and put them away in the morning.  It has been mostly successful for me thus far!

So go out and celebrate Lost Sock Day.  Make a craft.  Dust your house.  But if you can't find any of these ideas useful, then please throw away those mate-less socks and and at least be clutter free!

What it Means to Be a Yes Mom

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Savings.com.

Being a “yes mom” doesn't mean letting your kids do whatever they want.  They need to understand that life doesn't revolve around them.  You don't need to feel guilty for not catering to your child's every whim.  That doesn't create happy children; that creates spoiled children.

But at the same time your children need to know that they are important to you — more important than what you want to get done in a day.  Sometimes we say no to our children just because it's more convenient to us.  Help me cook dinner?  No way.  I'll be done a whole lot faster if you just let me do it.  Read a book to you?  Not right now; I've got work to do.

Being a “yes mom” doesn't have to be complicated.

It's not about doing fancy crafts you found on Pinterest (though if you're up to it that's totally awesome.)

It's not about spending lots of money on whatever the latest gadget is that they want.

It's about letting them know by your actions that they are important.

 

Actions like going outside with them even when you'd rather get some housework done.

kohls #YesMomDay

Like playing a goofy game they made up.  And then playing it again.  And again. And genuinely having fun, not because you really want to play the game but because you get to spend time with your kids.

kohls #YesMomDay

 

Actions like letting your 6-year-old plant and water his “plant” even though he's probably going to need a bath.

kohls #YesMomDay

And then letting him use the camera because he really wants to take a picture of his hard work.

kohls #YesMomDay

It's about letting the kids sit up on the stool and watch me make dinner even though it drives me nuts to have people all up in my space while I'm trying to work.

kohls #YesMomDay

Do you truly believe that your kids are important?  That they are human beings who just happen to live in tiny bodies right now?

How can you show them that they are important?

I'd love for you to use the hashtag #YesMomDay to share your “yes mom” moments on social media!

How to Take Great Pictures of Your Kids (Even When You Have No Idea What You’re Doing)

 

 

How to Take Great Pictures of Your Kids (even when you have no idea what you're doing)

 

Folks, I am not a photographer.  I'm just a mom with no time to sift through my camera's manual or all the photography tutorials on Pinterest.

But doesn't every mom like to have adorable pictures of her kiddos?  And doesn't every mom dread making an appointment at a studio, wondering if the kids will be happy that day, keep their clothes clean until they get there, and avoid procuring any scrapes or bruises on their face until after their photos have been taken?

What's a girl to do? 

Although photography is definitely not something I am good at, I have been happy with the photos I have been able to take of my children in the comfort of our own home.

Here are just a few simple things to keep in mind, and you too can get great photos of your kids to keep or give as gifts to the grandparents!

1. Lots of light.  The more natural light you can find, the better.  Place your child with a window facing them (not with the window behind them).  I have found that I can get better photos inside rather than outside because I have no idea how to handle shadows or too much light.  A place inside near a sunny window is almost foolproof.

2. A nice background – Place your child in front of a solid-colored wall, or use a blanket or a piece of fabric as a background.  (In the below photo, I used a piece of fabric. I just taped the fabric right to the wall.  Easy as pie.)

kezi-1

3. A strong finger.  This is the one that's most important when you have no idea what you're doing.  Just click that button over and over and over, and eventually one of the pictures will come out good!  See, it's really not that hard!  (If you're a photographer, please stop reading.  This is getting embarrassing.)

 

4. A little teensy-tinsy bit of editing know-how.  You don't have to have any fancy software.  PicMonkey will do fine.  It's just nice to know that when you look through the 400 photos you clicked and find the best one and it's almost perfect, that you can brighten it up just a bit, or erase a little bit of snot under your kid's nose.

(The eBook Monkey See, Monkey Do: A Tutorial to Using PicMonkey with Professional Results,will make using PicMonkey a cinch!)

Want to edit photos and create graphics easily? - this tells you how!

 

So…are you ready to try some snapping some photos of those cuties?!  Let me know how it goes!