5 Halloween Books for Young Kids

Halloween doesn’t have to be frightening for young kids. When my daughter was young I remember how afraid she was of going into any store that had larger-than-life Halloween decorations. Luckily, at the age of nine, she now loves Halloween. We recently cleaned out her bookshelf and re-discovered some of her favourite Halloween reads that were a bedtime staple when she was in preschool and kindergarten. So, I thought I would share our love for these 5 Halloween books for young kids (you can click on the title of each book for more information):

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Clifford's Halloween

By Norman Bridwell

Clifford makes Halloween cute. He’s a classic beloved character and this story humorously shows how Clifford loves Halloween and reminds adults of how excited kids get when it comes to showing off their costumes to their friends.

The Spooky Old Tree

By Stan And Jan Berenstain

What’s Halloween without the Berenstain Bears? This book is about exploring a spooky old tree and is short enough to read out loud without losing your voice, and it's fun to do it in a creepy, scary voice – and for your kids to participate too.

Slinky Malinky

By Lynley Dodd

This book isn’t really a Halloween book, but it’s about a sneaky black cat and is a fun read. My daughter received this book years ago from a friend and refuses to part with it. The story is told in fun rhyme. It’s a simple adventure that captivates young minds – especially at Halloween when black cats may otherwise seem scary.

The Biggest Pumpkin Ever

By Steven Kroll

This book is a classic story about two mice caring for a pumpkin, each without the other's knowledge. The pumpkin ends up growing phenomenally large because of the extra care it receives. It’s a sweet story about how taking care for something can really make a difference – perfect for children who prefer stories that don’t have any ghosts or goblins in them.

Bone Soup

By Cambria Evans

This story may seem scary, but it’s more cute than scary.  It’s a Halloween take on Stone Soup. A cute little skeleton with a very big appetite manages to get all sorts of ghastly ingredients from the ghouls to make a magic "bone soup". His ingredients will have kids laughing and saying “ewwwww!” So, if you have young kids that like to be grossed out – this book is perfect for them.

Do your kids have a favourite Halloween Book? Leave a comment and let us know!

 

Valentine’s Day Crafts for Kids

Valentine’s Day is more than just a holiday for lovers. It’s the holiday for showing love and appreciation to those near and dear to our hearts. For kids, it’s the perfect holiday for homemade crafts to give to the special people in their lives.

Try out some of these Valentine’s Day craft ideas for kids to give to their parents, siblings, teachers, babysitters, or whoever else makes a big impact in their lives. They’ll have fun with hearts, bows, reds, and pinks, and their recipients will love the thought behind them. You can even use them for fun decorations to spread a little love in your home!

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Handprint Lovebugs

Handprint crafts are always fun for kids, especially when making homemade gifts for family members who love to watch your little ones, and their adorable hands, grow.

For Valentine’s Day, turn your kids’ handprints into little Love Bugs, a Valentine’s Day version of a butterfly. Paint one of your child’s hands a desired colour using washable paint. Help her gently place her hand on a sheet of construction paper, gently pressing her hand and fingers into the paper to ensure her whole handprint stamps well.

Turn her hand print upside-down, so her fingers are pointing downward. Then, have your child cut out two large hearts for the “wings” of her Love Bug. Have her finish the creation with wiggle eyes, construction paper antennas, foam hearts or stickers to decorate the wings.

Design a T-Shirt

Have your child design a piece of Valentine’s Day art for someone special. Whatever makes your child think of Valentine’s day is fair game: a portrait of your family, hearts, or even red and pink scribbles, depending on his age.

Then, look for cheap shirts to transfer his one-of-a-kind design to! He will love seeing his art come to life on a real shirt. This is the perfect gift for a grandparent who would be proud to showcase a personal, handmade design on a t-shirt from a loved grandchild.

Ceiling Hearts

If you’re looking for a fun, and easy, way to get your family into the spirit of Valentine’s Day this year, start with a simple craft to decorate your home. These Valentine’s Day ceiling hearts are good for even the smallest hands to create.

Using red, white, purple, and pink construction paper, cut out several sizes of hearts. Then, attach some ribbon to your hearts with tape. You can use a simple, white curling ribbon, or get more creative with a variety of ribbons in different widths and festive designs.

Attach your ribbons to the ceiling with tape or thumb tacks, and you have fun craft that instantly puts you and your family in the mood for love!

Foam Love Bracelets

Use craft foam in pretty Valentine’s Day colours to create homemade bracelets with your kids for them to share with their friends. This is a good craft idea for them to make something special to hand out to their friends in class, along with their Valentine’s Day cards during the class exchange.

Cut strips of foam long enough to encircle a child’s wrist (use your own child for a good measurement!). Place adhesive Velcro strips on each end for an easy clasp. Then, let your child decorate each bracelet with foam hearts, glitter, or Valentine’s Day stickers.

If he or she is old enough, he or she can even write her friends’ names on the bracelets, or a sweet message for the holiday.

Candle Holder

This craft can instantly make a room feel the spirit of Valentine’s Day, and is an excellent gift for a babysitter or teacher.

Find a large, empty glass jar, like a pickle or sauce jar. Make sure it’s completely clean, inside and out, and remove any paper and sticky residue from the outside.

Cut out hearts in a variety of sizes and colours from tissue paper. Let your child paint some glue onto the jar and stick the hearts wherever he desires. Leaving some space between hearts for light to shine through creates a cool effect, but it’s just as pretty if your child wants to cover the whole jar!

Place a small votive candle inside, and you have a beautiful, handmade Valentine’s Day gift that your child created on his own.

Recycled Seed Paper Valentines

One of the most unique Valentine’s Day crafts for kids is also one of the most educational and eco-friendly! You can use recycled paper to make adorable hearts that hold seeds that will grow once you place the heart in a container with water.

To make recycled seed paper Valentines, like these beautiful ones from jamonkey.com, you’ll need some thin seeds, paper, water, food colouring, a heart-shaped cookie cutter, and some sort of screen, like a window screen, to dry the hearts on.

Your child will have fun tearing up the paper and mixing it with water and food colouring! She can even use a blender, with your help, to shred and blend the paper. Once you drain off the excess water after the mixture sits for several hours, let your child sprinkle the seeds into the mixture and stir.

Shape the mixture into hearts with a cookie cutter and place on the screen to dry in the sun. When they’re fully dry, you can attach them to your child’s Valentine’s Day cards, or put them in a festive baggy, for her to hand out to friends.

How do you get crafty with the kids for Valentine's Day?

Amy is a former preschool teacher turned freelance writer living with her two children and two cats. Amy graduated college in 2014 with an A.A. in Elementary Education and a B.A. in English. When she's not playing "super heroes" with her son or toting her daughter to sports practices, Amy writes for Babygaga, AdvisoryHQ, and several other blogs, including her own mom-business blog: theworkathome-mom.com.

Our Favourite Holiday Traditions

Every family has their special way of celebrating the holidays. From favourite movies and songs on the radio, to family gatherings and special presents, traditions help create lasting memories for children.

The Kids in the Capital team is excited to share some of our favourite Christmas traditions with you, and we've invited our holiday campaign sponsors to join in!

Misty

Growing up, my mom would buy my brother and me a children's book each year, and sign the inside with a quote or message. Now I have a huge stack of books that I read to my own children. I cherish these books so much!
Other family traditions included watching the BBC's "A Child's Christmas in Whales" and tracking Santa's progress on the radio.

Lara

"Each child receives a Christmas ornament every year, so they'll have a collection when they move out. Each ornament commemorates things they liked that year."

Tracy

"Every Christmas morning we check outside to see if Santa's reindeers left any hoof prints in the snow... which they always do (and they often look a lot like a horseshoe)." ;)

Here are some holiday traditions from our Holiday Giveaway sponsors: 

Saunders Farm

"While not open to the public anymore, Saunders Farm once housed a cut-your-own Christmas tree farm. Hundreds of guests would visit us each December for a chilly hayride to find their perfect tree, and then enjoy some hot chocolate by the bonfire in our 180-year-old Log Barn. Cutting Christmas trees is our favourite holiday tradition!"

Patti, Tag Along Toys

"We always let our son open one gift the night before Christmas and it is always a new pair of pajamas and a book."
Child reading with parents

Ooka Island

"A favourite holiday tradition is gifting each child in our lives a classic hardcover children's book for Christmas and writing an inscription on the inside along with the date." 

Canadian Museum of Nature

"We love hiding tiny reindeer in the exhibits during the holiday season. Fun for the kids to find!"

The holiday season is full of so many traditions including putting up Christmas lights, baking and, of course, quality family time. The Kids in the Capital team also seemed to share similar traditions, such as opening the gift of pyjamas on Christmas Eve.

What are your family traditions? Leave a comment and let us know!

This post is part of our 2016 Holiday Campaign, with support from Tag Along ToysThe Canadian Museum of NatureSaunders Farm and Ooka Island. Make sure to enter our giveaway!

Give the Gift of Saunders Farm

Ask my daughter what she likes the most about Saunders Farm and she will say "the jumping pillows!" And she's not alone. Thousands of kids flock to this unique family-run farm, which has been in operation since 1976. It is now considered a must-see destination for all things fun and fright! As part of our 2017 Holiday Gift Guide & Giveaway we are introducing you to some of our favourite local businesses, and today we are highlighting Saunders Farm.

What is Saunders Farm? 

Located in the small community of Munster in Ottawa’s west end, Saunders Farm is best known for their Haunting Season and Summer Mazes. Their mission is to create a space that provides fun, food, and memories for everyone, which they accomplish through opening their doors to tens of thousands of guests each year.

Between April and September, Saunders Farm welcomes guests to its Mazes Season (they have the world’s largest collection of hedge mazes and labyrinths), birthday parties, Farm Camps, Farm Dinners, and corporate events and team building. During this time, the Farm also hosts dozens of weddings where they provide an amazing experience for brides, grooms, and their families.

Each October, their Farm opens Haunting Season, Ottawa’s largest fall festival, where they delight and entertain guests through their numerous haunted attractions, live performances, and delicious farm fresh foods. The daytime Haunt is more child-friendly and still offers families the opportunity to explore the mazes and the rest of the farm, while the night time haunt, Fright Fest, is guaranteed to make you scream. 2016 celebrated 25 years and 1 million screams! Fright Fest makes for an unforgettable date night.

Saunders has grown one of the largest collection of hedge mazes in the world and their property is always clean, well kept and is a great space for kids to run, have fun and play. In addition to the mazes and jumping pillows, there is a unique farm-inspired play structure, a huge slide and a splash pad. Families can easily spend (many) summer days making memories at Saunders Farm. 

Award winning family attraction

Saunders Farm has won numerous awards for their innovation, marketing, leadership, and overall excellence.

How can you give the gift of Saunders Farm from Christmas?

This holiday season, Saunders Farm will be offering its guests special discounts on Annual Passes. Annual passes include the Summer Mazes Season and the Haunting Season!

Make sure to enter our giveaway - one of the prizes is an Annual Pass (which, don't forget, includes Haunting Season!) to Saunders Farm. The good news is that you don't have to wait until spring to learn more about Saunders Farm. You can follow their fun all year round online:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/saundersfarmfun/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SaundersFarmFans
Twitter: https://twitter.com/saundersfarm 

Disclaimer: this post is part of our 2016 Holiday Campaign. Make sure to enter our giveaway post before the end of November!

Unique Gift Ideas for the Holiday Season

The holidays are a season of giving, but it can be hard to find that perfect gift for a friend or loved one. Many times our kids are overwhelmed with presents, and parents spend the year trying to purge and organize. We want to cultivate gratitude in our children, which is hard to do when gift giving gets out of control! The same goes for the adults – when we’re buying something because we feel like we have to (and not because it’s meaningful) it can make the holiday season stressful.

To take the stress out of shopping, we’ve come up with unique gift ideas for the whole family. Thanks to our readers and sponsors for providing such cool ideas!

FOOD

Everyone has that foodie in the family, or the kid that’s going to become a “Cheffer” (as my 7 year-old puts it) when they grow up. For little ones you can buy mini kitchen items for pretend play. Older kids would love a cookbook for children, and adults may be lusting over a new kitchen gadget. OR, you could just get them food! Treats on Christmas morning is the best:

“In our opinion, food always makes the best gift! The challenge is knowing what to get for your friends and loved ones that is truly unique and amazing...that's why we LOVE fudge! It's gourmet, creative, and can be personalized for the recipient. Plus, it's fudge!!!” - Mark Saunders, Saunders Farms

BOOKS OR MAGAZINES

Have you heard of the holiday tradition “something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read?” I love that idea! Maybe you have a "bookoholic" in the family that’s provided you with a list of no more than 36 books they would like. Or maybe you have the child who needs a bit of encouragement. Pairing books with electronics may be your ticket to success:

“With a ticket to Ooka Island you’re not only giving a child the gift of reading for life, but they’ll have access to 80 hours of educational games and 85 e-books anywhere, anytime – it’s a gift for Mom and Dad as well,” said Kelly Shaw, CEO, Ooka Island.
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Some of our readers also suggest a good ol' magazine subscription, which can be full of fun activities, craft ideas and short stories. Kids love getting mail!

EXPERIENCES

In my mind, there's nothing better than the gift of an experience. Last year I bought my mom a mom-daughter pedicure at my favourite spa; concert or theatre tickets would also go over well with Grandma!

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For the little ones, you have ample choice here in Ottawa for experiential gifts. We're known all over Canada for our fantastic museums! We are partial to our fantastic sponsor, The Canadian Museum of Nature.

"A membership gift certificate is the perfect gift!" says manager Laura Sutin. Enjoy the museum all year long, and enjoy special perks as a member - discounts on museum programmes, and discounts on purchases at the Nature Boutique (another great place for gift items) and Nature Cafe.

GAMES AND PUZZLES

We've just implemented game night at our house, and although my 4 year-old is still a little young, she can still take part. Once she's bored, we send her off with a puzzle and she's happy to sit on the floor beside us. My 7 year-old is into all kinds of card games, and recently discovered Monopoly. She's playing the original with me, but I'm thinking Monopoly Junior might be a good choice for a gift under the tree!

UNIQUE TOYS

The best toys are the ones that spark imagination and creativity. They are usually quieter (ahem, no batteries) and allow children to create their own worlds of play.

"We love the Fairy Cottage. The Fairy Cottages and Tree Hollows are popular as the children can look after their own Garden indoors by watering it and maintaining it at home and moving the small Fairy Figurines inside the garden." - Patti Taggart, Owner of Tag Along Toys

Disclaimer: this post is part of our 2016 Holiday Campaign, with support from Tag Along Toys, The Canadian Museum of Nature, Saunders Farm and Ooka Island. Make sure to enter our giveaway post before the end of November!