Galaxy and Outer Space Sensory Activities

We have been loving all things Outer Space lately.  We have been having a ball pinning to our Outer Space Awesome pin board.  And last week’s constellation crafts were such a hit that we had to dig for more fun space ideas. When we saw the Outer Space Discovery  bottle from Artsy Momma linked up in this week’s Share It Saturday, we had to check it out.  Of course we wanted to find more sensory activities dealing with space, the galaxy, planets, and stars.  We’ve got them all here for you:

If you’ve got a little space fan, be sure to check out our Outer Space theme learning and play activities for crafts, activities, snacks, movement, and sensory fun.

Outer space ideas for sensory play


Outer Space Sensory Play Ideas for Kids



Space Sensory Tub from One Perfect Day
Outer Space Play Dough from I Can Teach My Child
Space Discovery Bin from Craftulate
Coffee Beans Sensory Bin from I Heart Crafty Things
Sensory Galaxy Jar from Lemon Lime Adventures
Galaxy Oobleck from Two-daloo
Glowing Bedtime Stars Bottle from Kids Activities Blog
Galaxy Slime from Two-daloo
Glowing Galaxy Water Bin from Fun-a-Day


Which will you try first?

How to Take Phone Pictures and Stay in the Moment

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and Walmart Family Mobile. All opinions are mine alone. #MobileMemories #CollectiveBias


Capturing Summer memories is easy when your phone is on hand.  Most of us have a phone always in the back pocket or within reach in a purse pocket, so capturing summer memories of the kids at the park is quick and accessible.  How do you capture the moment in a photo while engaging and savoring the time with your kids?  There is nothing that moves faster than time when a child is small.  It seems like a blink of an eye and they have grown from chubby little babes to running toddlers.  The precious summer fun can quickly turn to headaches when us moms are focusing on the “stuff”: the snacks, the sunscreen, the water bottles, the keys (CAN’T lose those!), the sun hats…all a mom wants is a quick picture of the kids on the slide.  Then the kids are off and running and the moment has passed.  Are you focusing on all of the stuff and juggling with the phone before the moment has gone?  Do you find yourself missing the fun and engaging with your kids?  We’ve got a few tips to help with the balance of capturing the memories and enjoying the moment.  


Tips to Capture Memories while Staying in the Moment:

Keep the phone close.  But then put it away:  Keep the phone in your back pocket for quick shots.  And when I say quick, capture a series of images by pressing the shutter button quickly.  There are a ton off iphone photography tips out there, but sometimes you just want to get the shot and move on.  Get your pictures then put the phone into your purse or away so you can get into the action of play.  Connect with your child with snuggles, tag, getting in close and be in the moment.  Don’t worry about sharing the image or adding a filter on Instagram.  Do it later after the kids are in bed.  Be in the moment during the moment.


Get in the photo:  Kids (usually) love to be in a picture with their mom.  Take a  quick selfie with your kids. Or ask a friend to capture a picture.  But again, put it away and play.


Take pictures of the good, the bad, and the ugly.  (The real moments):  You don’t need three smiling kids to savor a moment at a special event.  Kids will be kids and there will be tears, pouts, and maybe a little shoving.  Take the pictures anyway.  Get the real shots.  You might have two smiling faces looking in opposite directions, but it is the real thing.  You can also take action pictures while the kids aren’t even looking at the camera.  Maybe they are dancing in puddles or spinning around a tree trunk.  Those are the real moments.



When the cell is so close all the time, it’s easy to want to pull it out and get photos of those cuties.  You can capture those memories with an unlimited wireless plan at an amazingly low price.  Walmart Family Mobile has the perfect deal for you which now includes more 4G LTE data! $29.88/month (+taxes/fees) gets you Walmart’s Lowest Priced Unlimited Plan which includes Unlimited Talk, Text, & Data with up to 1 GB at 4G LTE Data Speeds. This plan allows you to do even more without paying more.

If you are looking to further increase your 4G LTE data, Family Mobile also offers Unlimited Talk, Text, & Data that includes up to 3 GB of 4G LTE for only $39.88/month (+taxes/fees). Walmart Family Mobile gives you the option to select the data plan that is right for you!
Don’t forget to check out Walmart Family Mobile’s amazing phone lineup available in-store and on Walmart.com. They have great devices on rollback prices plus brand new phones like the Alcatel One Touch Pop Astro. Check http://cbi.as/a68r or visit your local Walmart for more information on these amazing deals, and make sure to follow @FamilyMobile on Twitter or on Tumblr at walmartfamilymobile.tumblr.com.

How do you capture memories on the go while saving big?











Quick As A Cricket Activity Teach Empathy

Teaching kids empathy doesn’t have to be hard.  Empathy is an important part of social-emotional awareness and self-awareness.  One fun way to teach kids about empathy is with the children’s book,“Quick as a Cricket”. By using this book about feelings, and a fun activity that can be adjusted to meet the needs of various kids, teaching about feelings and values is meaningful.  This book really hits on the self-awareness of a child as they see that each feeling in the book makes up a part of him.  We thought that if this boy is feeling all of these emotions about himself, then others are too! If you are looking for for more activities based on children’s books then we have a lot to share with you!


How to teach kids' empathy? Make an empathy bracelet with empathy beads to show respect and awareness of other's feelings.  This busy bag activity is based on the book, Quick as a Cricket.

Activity to teach empathy

Teaching kids about empathy is important. There are studies that show us that specifically teaching kids about empathy makes a difference. In fact, when we teach kids about empathy in ways that make sense to them (or are meaningful), we may see more positive positive social behaviors, such as sharing.  Helping others becomes more meaningful as well. Additionally, research tells us that kids that learn about empathy are less likely to be antisocial  or present with uncontrolled aggressive behaviors. 
 
Additionally, it’s been said that empathy and perspective taking serve an important role in what  is called prosocial behavior, or helping others, sharing, taking turns, etc.
 
After reading the book Quick as a Cricket, (just a few dozen times–this is a book you WILL read over and over again!), we talked about how each of us has many feelings that can be seen in animals.  Some of our feelings happen daily, and some not for a while.  Other feelings pair together (feeling small and sad). 
 
Kids can have a difficult time with learning to be empathetic.  My kids really got an understanding of empathy as we talked about how other people might feel these feelings and we should be aware.  To take the empathy lesson a bit further, we made Empathy Bracelets with our empathy beads!  


Empathy Activity

This Quick as a Cricket activity will be a hit at your book club play date, or any day!  I loved the simplicity of our activity as it really went well with the simple rhyme of the book’s text.
 
How to teach kids' empathy? Make an empathy bracelet with empathy beads to show respect and awareness of other's feelings.  This busy bag activity is based on the book, Quick as a Cricket.
This post contains affiliate links.
To discuss and learn more about empathy, we used just a few items. First, we read the book, Quick as a Cricket, by Audrey Wood.   If you haven’t read this classic book, it’s one you definitely want to find!  The boy in the book discovers the characteristics of animals make up parts of himself.  The book has simple rhyming words and captures children’s attention.  It’s a great book to discuss self-awareness and feelings that make up all of us.  


How to teach kids empathy:

How to teach kids' empathy? Make an empathy bracelet with empathy beads to show respect and awareness of other's feelings.  This busy bag activity is based on the book, Quick as a Cricket.
We grabbed a handful of pipe cleaners, that we received from www.craftprojectideas.com.  To make our empathy bracelets, we used a bunch of different colored beads.  Some of the beads were different shapes and sizes, and that fit in perfectly with our empathy talks.  People come in different shapes and sizes but we all have the same feelings inside!
 
To create the busy bag for Quick as a Cricket, I used our snap and stack containers.  This worked great as a busy bag storage system so the kids could create bead bracelets whenever they wished as a quiet activity.
 
How to teach kids' empathy? Make an empathy bracelet with empathy beads to show respect and awareness of other's feelings.  This busy bag activity is based on the book, Quick as a Cricket.
Before making the empathy bracelets, we read through the book once more.  We looked at each of the animals and talked about their color and found a bead that went along with the animal.  We discussed the feeling or description of the animal and how we sometimes show those feelings.
Then we made our bracelets.  It was fun to see how each of my kids made their bracelets differently.  One just plucked the beads from the bin and said the feeling that went along with that color.  Another flipped through the book and matched up beads to the animal.  
 
Each empathy bracelet is different as it is made by a different child.  But, they all mean the same thing; they represent the feelings that we all share!
 
When you make these empathy bracelets, you could pull out colors to match the animals or feelings, or you could just let the child create as they wish.  It is completely up to you!  
 
You can talk about empathy and kindness in many ways using activities with kids.  Mine loved this Little Blue and Little Yellow book activity to promote kindness, too. 
 
Kids will love to wear their bracelets and fiddle with the beads.  As they fidget with the individual beads, they can remember the feeling that is associated with that bead.  They might see someone who is having a bad day and recognize the emotion.  
 
Encourage empathetic respect of other’s feelings even when your child is not feeling that same way.  You can explain that not everyone has the same beads or colors of beads on their bracelet (or might not be wearing a bracelet!) but they still have those feelings and emotions inside of them.  
 
How to teach kids' empathy? Make an empathy bracelet with empathy beads to show respect and awareness of other's feelings.  This busy bag activity is based on the book, Quick as a Cricket.
How to teach kids' empathy? Make an empathy bracelet with empathy beads to show respect and awareness of other's feelings.  This busy bag activity is based on the book, Quick as a Cricket.
How to teach kids' empathy? Make an empathy bracelet with empathy beads to show respect and awareness of other's feelings.  This busy bag activity is based on the book, Quick as a Cricket.

See what the other bloggers in the Book Club Play Date series have created to go along with the book, Quick as a Cricket.  We’ve got a snack, craft, sensory activity, game, and our busy bag for you:

 
Quick as a Cricket Snack from Craftulate
Quick as a Cricket Sensory Play from Still Playing School
Quick as a Cricket Art from Fun-a-Day
hands-on activities to explore social emotional development through children's books.

Love exploring books with hands-on play?  

Grab our NEW book, Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activities based on Books About Friendship, Acceptance, and Empathy, that explores friendship, acceptance, and empathy through popular (and amazing) children’s books!  It’s 50 hands-on activities that use math, fine motor skills, movement, art, crafts, and creativity to support social emotional development.
 

MORE ways to promote empathy in kids:

  • Use plastic eggs to work on empathy by writing various scenarios on strips of paper. Kids can open an egg and state how they would feel in the scenario. This is a great group activity.
  • Read books! These chapter books that teach empathy are great for the older kids or using as read-aloud books with the whole family. They are great ways to spark conversations about empathy. 
  • Use dolls and puppets. Act out scenarios and record the story on a phone or tablet. Kids can re-watch and describe the various feelings and how the characters felt and acted. 
  • For kids with autism, modeling, prompting, and reinforcement are strategies that can help.
 
References:
Schrandt, J. A., Townsend, D. B., & Poulson, C. L. (2009). Teaching empathy skills to children with autism. Journal of applied behavior analysis42(1), 17–32. doi:10.1901/jaba.2009.42-17
 
 
 

Kids Rhyming Prayers Blessings at Meals


One of my favorite memories from mealtimes as a child was the blessing. I can still remember the rhyming thanks to God that started each meal.  We would all
bow our heads and fold our hands as we said a small prayer that showed our gratitude for the day’s blessings.  Now as a mom to small children, that blessing is one of the best slow moments of our day. My children have their small chubby hands (and usually sticky fingers) clenched into small folded prayer hands.  They have their heads bowed and are all saying a rhyming prayer together as their baby sister looks on from her high chair with wide eyes at the moment. And then someone starts the prayer in their opera voice. Or Pig Latin.  It happens.  Life with four kids 7 and under brings surprises and chaos.  During blessing time is no exception.  We just start over and try again! 


Mealtime Blessings for Families of small children

The routine of a meal time blessing is a blessing in itself to a family of any size.  It can signal the start of a meal and a time to slow down from the chaos 
a family brings.  Saying a blessing at meals is a time to focus on the gifts from God: each other, the food, events from the day.  Having a palpable moment of quiet (usually!) during a blessing prayer is a calming moment and
a signal to regroup as a family together around  a meal. Even the smallest children can recognize the moment.  A mealtime blessing is a time to express gratitude.  And when those sweet little
children that are the biggest blessing of all are saying their prayer, this mama just has to sneak a look up and express her gratitude too.  Until a glass of milk spills.
Family mealtime prayers to say with kids and families before meals.  Rhyming prayers for saying Blessing. Preschoolers and kids of all ages love these prayers!

Rhyming Prayers to Say before Meals

Growing up, my family said our blessing at each dinner meal until we were much older than preschool age. I’m sure that is why it’s stuck with me for so long. These are blessing prayers that can stay with a family for a lifetime. These blessings are prayers that we’ve either said as a child or my kids have learned through their preschool class.  They are now part of our meal!

Family Blessings to say before a meal

God is Great
God is great, 
God is good. 
And I thank Him for our food.
Amen

Johnny Appleseed (This is one from my son’s preschool class)
Oh, the Lord’s been good to me.
And so I thank the Lord,
For giving me the things I need.
The sun and the rain
and the appleseed.
The Lord’s been good to me.
Amen

Thank You God (said to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star)
Thank you God 
for Food and prayer.
Teach us how to love and share.
Amen

Family mealtime prayers to say with kids and families before meals.  Rhyming prayers for saying Blessing. Preschoolers and kids of all ages love these prayers!

Do you have a special blessing that you say with your family?  Tell us about it!  We love to hear from you on our Facebook page or our Twitter feed!



Wedding Soup Recipe Cooking With Kids

This week in the A-Z Cooking With Kids series, we’re sharing one of my kids’ favorite recipes.  My three older kids (and now the baby is loving it too!) LOVE Wedding Soup.  It’s one of their most requested meals.  We’re making our way through the alphabet with our cooking with kids series and this week is I is for Italian.  So, of course we had to share our wedding soup recipe.  
Italian Wedding Soup Recipe.  Kids love this soup and can help with making it! Part of the Cooking With Kids series.

Making Wedding Soup isn’t as difficult as you might think.  There are a lot of steps, but with four small kids running around, I usually do the parts in steps.  on the chicken on the stove top and making the meatballs when you have the time makes it easier.  I will usually make the meat part of the soup a day ahead of time or whenever I have extra time.  

Wedding Soup Recipe

Wedding Soup is a hearty soup with a chicken based broth, and full of protein with meatballs and chicken, and filling with pasta.  I love that my kids get extra veggies when they chow down on this soup’s spinach and carrots.  It is a sure winner in our house!
Italian Wedding Soup Recipe.  Kids love this soup and can help with making it! Part of the Cooking With Kids series.

How to make meatballs:

Start by making the meatballs.  Wedding Soup calls for small bite-sized meatballs.  They are the perfect size for toddlers and make this soup fun for kids.  To make meatballs, grab a few ingredients:

1 pound ground beef
1 egg
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped onions
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix all of the ingredients together by hand.  Roll into bite-sized meatballs.
Cook on the stove top until browned.  

Put the meatballs aside.
Italian Wedding Soup Recipe.  Kids love this soup and can help with making it! Part of the Cooking With Kids series.
Next, saute 1-2 chicken breasts. I used chicken tenderloins because that is what we had on hand.  The nice thing about Wedding Soup is that it is very versatile. You can adjust the measurements of the ingredients and it will still taste great!

Shred the chicken and put aside.
Next, pour 8 cups of chicken stock or chicken broth into a large soup pot.  Add 6 cups of water and 4 chicken bouillon cubes.  You can also use granulated chicken bouillon.  This just adds chicken flavor to the soup.  (Bouillon is essentially dried compressed chicken stock.)  

Italian Wedding Soup Recipe.  Kids love this soup and can help with making it! Part of the Cooking With Kids series.
Chop 3-4 large carrots.  I sliced ours lengthwise first to make chopping easier for my kids.
Italian Wedding Soup Recipe.  Kids love this soup and can help with making it! Part of the Cooking With Kids series.
Next comes the veggies! 
Italian Wedding Soup Recipe.  Kids love this soup and can help with making it! Part of the Cooking With Kids series.

Italian Wedding Soup Recipe.  Kids love this soup and can help with making it! Part of the Cooking With Kids series.

Add the chopped carrots and  6 cups of fresh spinach to the soup pot.  Frozen spinach also works in this recipe.  Toss in the chicken and meatballs.

Allow the soup to boil and then turn down the heat.  Simmer the soup for 1 hour or until the carrots are softened.  Add 1 cup of uncooked acini di pepe pasta and turn up the heat.  Allow the soup to boil and cook for 15 minutes.  There is no need to drain the pasta.  

Italian Wedding Soup Recipe.  Kids love this soup and can help with making it! Part of the Cooking With Kids series.
Enjoy!  My kids love looking for the meatballs in their soup bowls.
Italian Wedding Soup Recipe.  Kids love this soup and can help with making it! Part of the Cooking With Kids series.
Look at that meatball!

Stop by and see what the other bloggers in the Cooking with Kids A-Z series made for I is for Italian:

Want to cook healthy foods for your family?  Grab Yum! Deliciously Healthy Meals for Kids, a cookbook for busy families that want healthy meal ideas. 

Healthy recipes for kids

Patriotic Crayon Salt Dough Recipe

This play dough recipe is a spin on the classic salt dough recipe.  Add a few broken crayons and you’ve got a crayon salt dough recipe that is sure to be a hit with the kids!  It’s just one of our crayon play dough recipes that are fun in so many ways! 


Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and all days patriotic (i.e. any day!) deserves a little red, white, and blue salt dough.  This Crayon Salt Dough is our current twist on our Crayon Dough series where we use melted crayons to color the doughs for vivid and bold colors with a soft texture.  This is a definite dough to make, and you’ll want to try them all! Using broken crayon pieces to make Crayon Play Dough is a fun way to reuse and recycle with a creative twist! 
Make patriotic salt dough with crayons this Memorial Day, Fourth of July, or any day! Use melted crayons to dye the salt dough for a bright and vivid color with a smooth texture.

Patriotic  Crayon Salt Dough


Our patriotic salt dough uses the same directions and ingredients as our regular salt dough recipe and a twist on our crayon play dough recipe. It’s an easy dough to throw together, which gives you more time for playing!
Make patriotic salt dough with crayons this Memorial Day, Fourth of July, or any day! Use melted crayons to dye the salt dough for a bright and vivid color with a smooth texture.
We divided the dough into three lumps and dyed one part with red crayons, one part with blue crayons, and left the last lump as is.  Instant red, white, and blue dough!  Play with the three individual colors or roll the lumps together for a swirled effect.
Make patriotic salt dough with crayons this Memorial Day, Fourth of July, or any day! Use melted crayons to dye the salt dough for a bright and vivid color with a smooth texture.
Part of the awesomeness of salt dough is it’s ability to harden and make long-lasting ornaments, paper weights, bowls, and all sorts of crafty items.  We used start cookie cutters to make multi-colored patriotic stars.  I wouldn’t bake these in the oven due to the wax content, but instead allow any creations to harden for several days in a dry place.  If you are making ornaments or hanging stars, be sure to poke a hole for a string with a skewer.
Make patriotic salt dough with crayons this Memorial Day, Fourth of July, or any day! Use melted crayons to dye the salt dough for a bright and vivid color with a smooth texture.

Make patriotic salt dough with crayons this Memorial Day, Fourth of July, or any day! Use melted crayons to dye the salt dough for a bright and vivid color with a smooth texture.
Enjoy your patriotic Crayon Salt Dough!

You can read all of our Crayon Dough recipes:



If you like the idea of using your broken crayon pieces in something as fun and creative as play dough, then you will love to try a few different ideas, too.  We’ve given crayon play dough a run for it’s fun and tried a few different versions.  Check them out and if you make a batch, let us know how you get creative with crayon play dough!

Constellation Crafts for Kids

My kids are SO into stars, the galaxy, and outer space in general.  So, when we saw a glow in the dark constellation mobile linked up in last week’s Share It Saturday, we had to feature it.  We searched the internet for the best Constellation Crafts out there.  This collection of crafts will definitely come in handy this summer as we search the skies for constellations and then make all kinds of constellation crafts!


If you’ve got a little space fan, be sure to check out our Outer Space theme learning and play activities for crafts, activities, snacks, movement, and sensory fun.



Kids will love these constellation crafts!

Constellation Crafts for Kids

Constellation Sewing Cards from Kids Activities Blog
Constellation Drawing Craft from Gift of Curiosity
Make your own Constellation from No Time For Flashcards
Lacing Constellations Craft from Lets Go Fly a Kite
Constellation Coasters from Assemble Shop
Sticker Resist Art from Artful Parent

DIY Whiteboard Busy Bag Kids Travel Kit

Traveling with kids is extremely difficult.  There are the bathroom breaks, the “Are we there yet”s, the bickering, the whining…sometimes a 6 hour drive with a car-full of children is one of the toughest forms of self-torture there is.  Travel with children doesn’t need to be a torture chamber on wheels, though!  We made this DIY dry erase board travel kit for those moments when the kids need an activity to keep them occupied for miles and miles of highway.  They can draw, write, practice letter and number formation, and wipe it off and start over.  Kids will love having their own private “space” during a long flight or car trip as they work and play with their travel dry erase board set.


DIY Whiteboard dry erase board kit for travelling with kids. Practice letters, numbers, math, handwriting, and drawing while on long car trips or flights.

Traveling with Kids: Keeping the Kids Busy!

 
We’re including affiliate links in this post for convenience.  This dry erase board was easy to put together.  We used a plastic pencil box to create the kit.  I cut a piece of dry erase board to fit the top section of the pencil box. One one side of the white board
rectangle, I wrote out the alphabet and numbers 1-10 with a permanent marker
. I chose the alphabet and numbers for my kids’ needs. We could use the lower case letters for handwriting practice for my 5 year old. The number line would be great for subtracting for my 7 year old. My youngest (3 years old) could circle the numbers and letters as she worked on number identification and letter identification. You can customize your whiteboard as your child needs. I am in the process of creating another whiteboard with the cursive alphabet as my daughter has recently expressed an interest in learning to write the cursive letters. I decided to leave the reverse side blank for full drawing and writing space. Once you’ve figured out what you want to write on the board, cover it with clear contact paper
. Simply lay the contact paper over one side and fold it over the other side. Trim the edges and your whiteboard is done!

In the lower compartment, I added a dry erase marker and a bit of paper felt for erasing. You will want to get a dry erase marker with a fine tip or ultra fine tip for more legibility when writing and drawing.

DIY Whiteboard dry erase board kit for travelling with kids. Practice letters, numbers, math, handwriting, and drawing while on long car trips or flights.
I also added a handful of mini craft sticks. We received these from our friends at www.craftprojectideas.com.  The small size is perfect for fitting into the travel box.  I used the permanent marker to write on the craft sticks.  I wrote things like sight words, open ended questions, and math problems.  Children can pull out a craft stick and write sentences, complete math problems, or even trace the words.  I wrapped a piece of clear contact paper around the craft sticks so that my oldest could make her own words and sentences using the dry erase marker.  This travel kit will come in handy on our next long car ride, and it’s already a hit right here at home!  
Busy Bags for little travellers
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT:
My Busy Book for Travel // Powerful
Mothering
Tic Tac Toe Busy Bag // The Pleasantest Thing
Free Airport Scavenger Hunt //Playdough
to Plato
Yellow Car Game // Adventures of Adam
Wheel Letter Match Busy Bag // Coffee Cups and Crayons
Transportation Memory Game // Itsy Bitsy Fun