Top Ten Posts of 2014

Wow, what a year 2014 has been!  It’s been a blur of a year with a new baby, three kids in three different schools, play dates, volunteer positions, activities, and lots of fun and play around here.  It’s so hard to believe that this year has gone by at lightning speed.  When you are a mom, the days go by so slowly, but the weeks and months (and years) FLY!  Every seasoned mom can tell you that…and it’s still a surprise when the year wraps up and we head into a new year.  

It was SO much fun to look back at this year’s most popular posts.  It’s fun to see what you’ve been here to see.  We’ve certainly had a blast with learning activities this year.  Here are our ten most popular posts.
Best activities and crafts for kids on Sugar Aunts

# 10 Sight Word Ping Pong Game

#9 Winter Science Experiments for Kids

#8 Press Here book Sensory Activity

# 7 Visual Scanning Activities

#6 Scissor Skill Activities

#5 Finger Dexterity Exercise

 #4 Harold and the Purple book Purple Crayon Play Dough

#3 Sight Word Crayon Rubbing


#2 Random Acts of Kindness for Kids and Families



And our most popular post of 2014: 


#1 How to Make Crayon Play Dough



Stay tuned for lots of fun and exciting activities to come in 2015!

New Year’s Eve Activity Kids Countdown Chain

Celebrate New Year’s Eve with kids by making a customizable activity countdown chain! 

New Year’s Eve sure has changed since having kids.  Gone are the days of glamorous parties with friends and family, heels and dresses to ring in the new year.  Now, we celebrate another year with dance parties with the kids and movie marathons.  Celebrating New Year’s Eve with kids is a different life and one that I wouldn’t trade for all of the little black dresses and strappy heels in the world.  With four young kids, we are in the thick of diapers, learning to tie shoes, and band-aides.  Being up all night has taken on a new definition with this stage of life!  

New Years with kids is about snacks, music, games, and family time. We made this New Year’s Eve Countdown Activity Chain to celebrate each hour leading up to the ball dropping with a child and family friendly activity.  This is a fun for the whole family! 

This is a quick and easy New Year’s Eve craft and activity that we threw together this week.  We made an activity chain to help the kids understand the passage of time to reach midnight (or a little earlier in the evening).  Kids can tear off a chain link as the hours pass to reach the new year. 

We’ve made a paper chain countdown as a visual reminder of time before, and it was such a hit with my kids, that I knew they would love to celebrate New Year’s Eve this way, too!

New Year’s Eve Activities for Kids to Countdown

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 New Year’s Eve ideas for Young Kids

We started with some fun shades of cardstock
.  Cut the paper into one inch strips.  I grabbed a marker and wrote out activities on each chain link.  Add a number for each link.  If the kids are older and will be staying up until midnight, you may want more numbers with activities for each hour.  A great idea for younger kids is to celebrate “midnight” at 7 or 8:00 pm.  You can still do this activity chain, you just won’t need as many chain links and activities.



Our New Year’s Eve Countdown Activities included:

  • Make a New Year’s resolution.
  • Play charades.
  • Dance party!
  • Say something you are thankful for.
  • What is something you are looking forward to in the new year?
  • And for the midnight chain link…Band pots and pans!  Celebrate the new year with family and friends!

Use a piece of clear tape
to connect the rings.  You’ll want to make sure they are in number order.

This is a fun way to get the kids involved in the new year celebrations.  Have the kids give input on the ring activities.


Let us know if you make a New Year’s Eve activity chain.  We love seeing pictures of our ideas in action on our Facebook page.

We’re wishing you a very happy New Year here at Sugar Aunts!

New Year's Eve activity countdown for ids paper chain craft
Love this idea? You’ll love to see more easy Crafts for kids:

 Germ Kids craft Germ kids craft Pirate PuppetNew Year's Eve Activity countdown for kids.  This is a great way to get the kids involved in New Year's Eve festivities

Snowball Learning Activities

Winter fun and play is here!  We’re sharing ideas from Share It Saturday for snowball learning this winter.  With winter in full swing, we’ve got snowball themed math, science, art, sight words, and more!


Snowball learning activities for kids this winter. Snowball math, snowball science. snowball art, snowball sight words

Snowball Alphabet Throw from Mom Inspired Life
Comparing shapes with snowballs from Hands On As We Grow
Indoor snowball painting from Fantastic Fun and Learning
Snowball Fine Motor Activity from Still Playing School
Snowball number learning activity from Toddler Approved
Shaving Cream Snowball Big Art from Coffee Cups and Crayons
Snowball Fight Math from Sugar Aunts
Snowball Science Experiments from Sugar Aunts

Practice Sight Words with Balloons

We’ve got a big collection of sight words.  We started last year when Big Sister was in Kindergarten, and we’re continuing this year in first grade.  The fun thing about our sight word activities is that they can be used and modified for all ages.  When kids practice sight words, they need repetition to memorize the spelling of words that don’t follow rules of the English language.  They are the tricky words that may be difficult to sound out.  SO, making sight word practice fun is essential for kids! 

We did this balloon sight word activity back in the summer months but are just getting around to sharing.  This was such a fun way to practice first grade sight words, that we’ll be doing this one again!
Sight word activity with balloons

Sight word activity with balloons:

I started by writing Big Sister’s sight words on the sticky side of masking tape, using a black marker.  I taped these to balloons that were already blown up.

That’s it!  When Big Sister saw the balloons with tape on them, she was very curious.  It didn’t take her long to figure out that there were words written on the tape.  Using the black marker makes it easy to see and read the words through the balloons.

She held the balloons up to her face to better read the sight words.  This was a fun way to identify the the words.

We played a game where we put all of the balloons on the floor and kicked the words as I called out the sight word.  

Sight word activity ideas using balloons

More ways to extend the play and learning using balloons and sight words:

Pop the balloons as they are read
Blow the balloons across a table.  Call out a sight word and blow that balloon only.  You can use a straw to make it even more difficult.
Balloon static games:  Using static electricity, stick certain sight words the wall.
Balloon scavenger hunts
Balloon races-don’t drop the balloon.

Looking for more sight word activities?  Try some of these:


Creative Sight Word Practice with String.  

Quick and Easy Christmas Activities for Kids

This time of year is a busy season for families.  There is a sense of rush, rush, rush to get everything done on time.  The busyness of the Christmas season does not mean that kids can’t play and learn with creative activities.  These are a few ideas that I found on my iphone camera.  These are quick and easy ways to play and learn this Christmas.


Quick and easy activities for busy families this Christmas: snacks, fine motor, math, all with an easy set-up and clean-up.

You may want to follow along with us on our Instagram feed for tons of quick and easy  activities year long.  We’re also sharing fast ideas on our new site, Mommy Needs a Coffee Break where moms can catch a few moments to grab a cup of coffee and play along with their kids or just put their feet up for a mini me-time break while the kids play.  Mommy Needs a Coffee Break has a great Instagram feed too, with fun ideas for quick and easy activities with the kids.

A few easy Christmas Ideas for the Kids…from my iphone:

Healthy Christmas snack for kids: slice green apples into thick slices and add cranberries for a "green wreath" snack.

Healthy Christmas Snack for Kids

Make a healthy Christmas snack for the kids with thick slices of green apples.  Add cranberries to make a “green wreath” snack.  The crisp & chewy and sweet & tart combos of this snack delicious as it is nutitious.

We made these one afternoon and the kids loved them for their Christmas-y cuteness.  Easy to throw together and fun= a Christmas win for mom!

This was another quick and easy snack, that involved a little fun and learning too.   Grab a large graham cracker and break it into shapes.  I used a sharp knife to cut triangles.  Press strait down on the cracker to get a nice strait edge andavoid breaking the corners of the cracker.  I threw in a few gingerbread boy cookies for extra fun.  The kids made shapes, houses, and trees with their cracker tangrams.  Then snack time happened.  


Sometimes baby needs a quick and easy activity while mom whips up dinner.  Or wipes up spilled milk, or folds a quick load of laundry, or… you get the picture.  

Give baby a few brightly colored bowls in Christmas colors and let them explore the textures as they reach, grasp, move, throw, taste, and explore.  Put a few crackers or pieces of fruit (age-appropriate) into the cupes for more tasting fun for baby. 

Quick Soda Dough Recipe

Use our baking soda dough recipe to mix up a batch of baking soda dough.  This is a quick recipe to put together, but will be long on fun as the kids play and create with their soda dough. 

Fine Motor Christmas Activity for Kids

 Use a few items from around the house (garland, tinsel, ribbon, feather boa…you always need a reason to pull out the feather boa…) and something that you can thread.  We used these foam snowmen and wreaths for fine motor skills, bilateral hand coordination, and visual motor skills with this quick and easy activity.  You could thread ornaments, bracelets, pipe cleaners, or anything with a “loop”.

What are your favorite ways to play and learn when the kids need an activity and you are short on time? 

Winter Snowflake Stamp Art

Kids love stamp art.  Using a tool to press paint onto a surface is therapeutic and creative.  You can press down hard or lightly, overlap stamps, add colors, or just make a simple stamp.  There’s a lot of process to creating with stamps and you can use so many objects!  We’ve stamped with potatoestoilet paper tubesstyrofoam, and even hair rollers.  These winter snowflakes use pipe cleaners and the result is wintry and beautiful!

Snowflake stamp art with pipe cleaners and blue paint. This is a great winter craft!


Winter Snowflake Art with Pipe Cleaner Stampers

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This is a pretty easy set up for an art project.  We used just a few materials:
easel paper (this pad gives you a nice big surface for creating)
bowl for the paint
I twisted a couple of pipe cleaners into a snowflake shape with one piece sticking up for a handle.  You can experiment with the shapes.  We did a flowery shaped snowflake, too.  (This would also make a great spring craft in a few months!)

Pour the blue paint into a bowl.  I LOVE this paint for it’s bright colors that don’t fade or flake once they dry.  It’s a great paint for preserving little one’s works of art.

And now it’s time for stamping.

Big Sister was so happy that she had a day off from school and got to do a craft with us.  We need to do more after school art work as a wind down from full days at school.  She loved making this stamp art and did page after page after page…

Make snowflakes art with pipe cleaner stamps.

Be sure to let us know if you make this snowflake art project.  You might be interested in more stamping activities:

    

   

What to Do With the Kids in Winter

The cold weather is upon us!  If you’re in the freezing temps with scarves and gloves or in warmer environments, winter play and learning is fun for the kids!  We love the ideas shared in Share It Saturday this week, from snowman books to crafts, to science and art. This round up of ideas will keep you occupied all winter long!


winter learning and play activites for kids.

Winter Activities for Kids

Snowman Picnic from Growing Book by Book

Snowman Books from Planet Smarty Pants
Snowman Listening Game from Pre-K Pages
Non-Fiction Snowflake Books from Brain Power Boy
Marshmallow Snowman Craft from Krafts and Kiddos
Winter Craft ideas for Middle Schoolers from Tina’s Dynamic Homeschool Plus

 

Almond Scented Salt Dough Recipe

We love a fun salt dough recipe.  From orange zest salt dough to gingerbread salt dough…these are a fun way to play and create.  This time we wanted to try another scent in the salt dough arena  (okay, we actually experimented with TWO scents this time…)  and tried an Almond Scented Salt Dough AND a Peppermint Scented Salt Dough.  Christmas is the perfect time of year for salt dough.  This dough is great for molding and cutting ornaments from.  And the memories that you’ll have each year as you decorate the tree are well worth the salty hands and sticky counter tops you get from making these doughs!
 


 
Almond scented salt dough recipe for Christmas ornaments.  These smell fantastic!
 

 

 


Almond Scented Salt Dough Recipe

 
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It’s important to note that all doughs come together differently.  Different flour, slightly different measuring techniques, different kneading skills…all make a difference when it comes to mixing together doughs.  This recipe came together as described.  You may find slightly different results, but play around with your dough.  If it seems too sticky, knead it and add a bit more flour.  If it seems too dry, knead and add a small amount of water.  Always add additions in very small incriments and knead before adding more flour or more water.  Whatever your result, it will be a fun sensory experience with the kids!

 

Almond scented salt dough recipe
 

 

 
To make this almond salt dough, we started with our standard salt dough recipe.  Once the dough was mixed together, we poured in a shake or two of almond extract.  (Like those exact measurements?)  It was probably about a teaspoon of almond extract, but you can add what seems good.  You will need to add a bit of flour after adding the liquid almond extract, to take the stickiness away when kneading.  Be sure to flour the counter top surface before kneading in the extract and keep kneading until the dough becomes smooth.  Warning:  this dough smells AMAZING.  Like almond cookies that you will want to eat.  Refrain yourself and just enjoy the almond scent. 

 

 

 
 

Next, we molded circles of salt dough with our hands and flattened them down a bit.  We pressed the almonds
into the dough in designs or just strait into the dough.  You certainly don’t need the almonds in these ornaments, but it was fun for us to add them in.

At this point, you’ll want to poke holes in your ornaments.  I used a chopstick to do this.  Bake the dough at 200 degrees F for about 20 minutes.  Then, turn off the oven and let the ornaments sit in the warm oven.  When it’s time to make dinner, or you need the oven for something else, pull them out and let them sit overnight.  It may take an extra day to completely dry, depending on how thick your ornaments are.

At this point, I sprayed our ornaments with glitter spray.  This glitter spray is permanent, so be sure to spray on a napkin or other surface.  I wanted to use the glitter paint to seal in the almond and keep the skins from flaking off.  So far, it’s holding up well on our tree.  We’ll see how they stand the test of attic storage by next Christmas.
 
 

 

 
Add a bit of string to hang your ornaments (We used embroidery thread provided to us by www.craftprojectideas.com).  
 
This was such a fun ornament to make that we had to try a different version with the same dough and a different scent that we had in our pantry.

 


Peppermint Scented Salt Dough Recipe

Peppermint scented salt dough recipe for Christmas ornaments
 

 

 
We made this dough with the same technique as above, only instead of adding the almond extract to our standard salt dough recipe, we added peppermint extract.  This dough smelled equally amazing and was such a fun sensory play material to just manipulate and explore.  Its a great activity for the Christmas season!
 



Of course we had to experiment with peppermint candies in our dough.  We used a sugar free version because that’s all we had in our house at the time, so I’m not sure how the regular peppermint candies would work in this ornament.  We did cook ours in the oven for about 20 minutes like we did in the recipe above, and it turned out melting the candy just slightly to keep it attached to the ornament.

 

Looking for more scented salt dough? More scented salt doughs you may like:



 

 

Christmas modified paper for holiday handwriting for kids

SALE! Save 25% on Modified Christmas Paper NOW THROUGH CYBER MONDAY.

Coupon code is HOLIDAY25

Use the Christmas modified paper handwriting pack to work on handwriting, letter size, letter formation, and legibility with meaningful and motivating activities:

  • Letters to Santa
  • Wish List
  • Holiday To-Do List
  • Shopping List
  • Thank You Notes
  • Recipe Sharing
  • Winter Writing Prompts

Click here to get your packet.