More Halloween Crafts!

What’s that? Your kiddos can’t get enough halloween crafts?  And you’re running out of ideas? Amy to save the day!  I already did one post about Halloween crafts, but there’s always room for another!

How about a magazine cut-out Jack-O-Lantern? Make them on paper pumpkins like the picture, or on real ones for even more fun!

What’s that? Your kiddo is really young and can’t do much? There’s always fun handprint and footprint crafts to do, which is a great sensory activity for super young ones, and it’s fun for the grown-ups to display!

Halloween is a great time of year to gather your mad scientists and do some experiments!  This slime recipe is one of my favorites!

And here’s an easy bat puppet that will keep the kids busy for way longer than just the crafting time!  I bet this puppet would be even more stable (and better for hands) if you used an empty paper towel roll instead of a strip of cardboard at the top.

Happy Halloween!!!

What I Learned from Laryngitis

I have weak vocal chords.  They strain pretty easily.  This is typically not a big deal because I’m also not a loud person. I only yell when I need to call someone from far away.  I’m more of a soft-spoken type of person.  But last week, I had bronchitis (don’t worry- it’s wasn’t that bad), and that strained my vocal chords enough that without any yelling at all, my voice went away completely. It was pretty rough. I couldn’t talk at all for 2 days, and for another 2-3 my voice sounded super funny and I had to be careful not to use it too much.

A week later, I am almost entirely better. My voice is back (thank goodness!), and I’m reflecting on what I learned from not being able to talk to my charges. It was an interesting week.

1)  You’d be surprised how much you can say without words.  Facial expressions and some general pointing and made-up sign language can get you by alright for a while.  You’d also be surprised how much you CAN’T say without words.  It got pretty frustrating at times. I ended up just giving my younger charge (who’s 4 and can’t read yet) lots of hugs when she couldn’t understand what I was trying to tell her. That helped.

2) Laryngitis can lead to a fun game in which your old charge pretends to have laryngitis too!  He got a lot of practice reading and writing. 🙂

3) Google Translate is pretty awesome. After a frustrating first day with no voice, I discovered this wonderful program, which allows you to type whatever you like and have it spoken by the computer. Side note- your younger charges might decide that they suddenly have a lot of questions for the computer.  The computer at my charges’ house, it turns out, is quite silly. Who knew? 😉

4) Maybe I talk too much sometimes.  I was a little amazed at how effective one little look could be in replacing a whole sentence.

5) Tiny nurses are adorable and wonderful.  Mr. 7 scolded me if I tried to talk to him, “You need to stop talking, Amy! How is your voice going to get better if you don’t rest it?”

I got by very well without my voice, all things considered.  However, I won’t be in this situation again for a very long time. 🙂

A Great Article about Autism

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a BIG fan of Disney’s animated movies. I’m definitely a Belle type- I always have a book to read (Belle- you need a Kindle. Seriously worth it.), and I’m that nurturing type of person who reaches out no matter how much of a challenge it can be to connect to someone.  So when I came across this article, I weeped. Not just as a Disney fan, but as someone who never gives up hope on people, like Belle. The article is about a boy with regressive autism and his family, who never gives up trying to find a way to connect with him.  It turns out that Disney was the key to getting into his personality again.  You won’t regret reading it.  I promise.

“Reaching My Autistic Son Through Disney”

Need a fun project NOW? Printables!

Printables!  For some reason, they are a little controversial in the nanny world.  Some people love them for their ease and variety, others feel like they keep kids from using their imagination.  I stand somewhere in the middle.  I do love printables, but I don’t think they should be used too much. There’s a time and place for everything, right? The ideal time to do a printable is when you had a project lined up, but your kiddo finished too quick and now there’s 15-20 minutes to spare before lunch or an outing or whatever. Or they got bored with their game/activity/project faster than you thought they would.  Or they got sick (surprise! It happens!) and now you need to cancel original plans and quickly come up with something will be fun and take up time without being too active.  Basically, I like them as back-up plans. I keep a pinterest board full of them so that in an emergency, I can find one easily and quickly.

I also like some printables more than others.  I look for what I call “combos”- sheets that combine some creativity, some skill-building (like cutting, pasting, coloring, etc), and may even have some play value after the project’s finished.  Here are some of my favorites!

Build Your Own Castle! Color it, cut it out, then paste the pieces together to make your castle anyway you want!  Paste the pieces onto thick paper to make this into a background for some fun fantasy play! The sheet is pretty far down on the website, so keep scrolling…

Bunting Template– There’s so many things you can do with this simple template!  Kids can draw, color, put stickers, glue on pictures from magazines, etc.  This would be great for a birthday party craft- everyone makes one, then they can be strung together and put up in the birthday kiddo’s room after!  This template’s on the same page as the castle sheet.

Cute Paper Dolls–  I think paper dolls are so much fun.  They have great replay value! And there are lots available to print out online, so if you don’t like this one, do a quick google search!  I love the simplicity of this one.

Silly Glasses–  Another very basic template that can be decorated in so many ways, and then it can be worn!  These are fun for anyday, but would be another great one for birthday parties, for silly family photos, and for holidays (I’m thinking 4th of July and New Year’s Eve!).

There’s lots more on my Printable Pinterest board!  Check them out the next time you need an emergency activity!

Jewish Holday Crafts: Sukkot Edition

Since I work for a Jewish family, I have learned a bit about Judaism and its holidays. I have to admit, Sukkot is my favorite! If I understand correctly, it’s a celebration of nature and the fall harvest. There are some great opportunities for learning about nature and making some beautiful crafts!

The Sukkah: A sukkah is a temporary structure built outside, with 3 walls and an open roof made of organic materials (branches, palm leaves, bamboo, etc). Depending on the family’s custom, it is traditional to spend time in the sukkah by eating, sleeping, or praying in it during the week of Sukkot. The sukkah can be decorated as much as you like, as long as the roof remains open (you can see the sky). Here are some ideas for making sukkahs with your kiddos:

  • Use a shoebox as a “sukkah” for small toys.  Decorate with stickers, paints, drawings, pictures from magazines, or things from nature like acorns and leaves.
  • Challenge your kiddos to build a “sukkah” out of legos!
  • Build a sukkah together with popscicle sticks and glue and/or yarn.  Don’t forget to decorate it!

Sukkah Decorations:  You can decorate your full-size sukkah with lots of different things!  Just keep in mind that they will be exposed to the elements- dew, rain, wind, sunshine, outdoor animals.

  • “Weather-proof” paper chain:  Instead of making the chain out of paper, buy sheets of foam and cut it into strips!  Then you can just staple the strips into a chain!
  • Citron Sun Catchers– Make sure to laminate them or cover them with contact paper to make them more durable outside.
  • Leaf Lanterns– I posted these in one of my posts about leaf crafts, too. They’re just so pretty!  And imagine how pretty they’d be outside in a sukkah!

Other Fun Sukkot things:  Sukkot is a big celebration, so decorate indoors too!  And go on nature walks, too!

  • Autumn Leaf Garland- Let the kiddos pick their favorite autumn leaves (but keep in mind that you can’t use the ones that are crunchy- they need to be flexible). Cut off the stems, put a hole in them with a hole punch, and tie them loosely onto a long piece of yarn.  I like mine overlapping, but you can spread them out more too. This wouldn’t be durable enough to be strung outdoors.  The holes would too easily tear open.
  • Apple or Leaf prints- Put a little paint on half an apple or a flexible leaf, and see what happens when you press it gently onto thick paper!  You could also try making prints with other things- acorns, pinecones, mini pumpkins, rocks…
  • Books about Sukkot and coloring sheets- these can help to educate your kiddos (and if you’re a non-jewish nanny like me, they can help educate you as well!) about this lovely holiday. Here’s a few pretty coloring sheets to get you started.

Halloween Crafts!

Have I mentioned that I love holidays? Because I really do.  Halloween is one of my favorites!  Who doesn’t love dressing up, being silly, and eating candy?  And there’s so many great craft ideas- it was hard to choose just a few!  I tried to pick some ideas that could work with a variety of ages, and I like crafts that have some real creativity built in.  Don’t be surprised if I post more Halloween crafts later. 🙂

Build a Monster Printables– For the younger ones, you can cut these out ahead of time and just let them glue away. For older ones, let them practice their cutting skills!

Masking Tape Mummies– This is especially great for the younger kiddos!  If you need an easy project for a Halloween party, you can buy people shapes at education-supply stores so that you don’t have to cut them all out yourself.

Pumpkin Rocks– These can be as simple or fancy as you like!  Plus, it’s a multi-day project.  Go for a nature walk to find the perfect rocks, paint them, let them dry, then use black paint or black sharpies to put faces on them.  These would look super cute on your front steps or by your front door on Halloween night!

Magnetic Jack-O-Lantern–  This is a great activity to make ahead of time, then pull out whenever you are making dinner or doing something else that requires a kiddo to be busy for a little bit.  Not really a craft for them so much as for you, but they’ll get to have fun being creative again and again! By the way, magnetic sheets are awesome!

I’m sure there’ll be more Halloween ideas soon!