GIVEAWAY: Crafts at Tag Along Toys

by Alicia E and I had the great privilege this Spring to visit Tag Along Toys and choose a craft to test out. In Karen's post in March welcoming Tag Along Toys as a Kids in the Capital sponsor, she took some great pictures of the many sections in the store. I was really excited to see the craft section in person and for E to get a chance to choose a craft of his choice.

We decided on a paper bag puppet craft kit that was age appropriate for a 3 year old.

E was super excited to take it home and get started! With a little direction, E went through the steps of gathering the stickers and cut-outs, gluing them on to the paper bag and the best part - creating his very own puppet show!

I highly recommend checking out all the amazing craft kits Tag Along Toys has in stock for children of all ages.  Thank you, Patti, for welcoming us in to your store and offering us this fun opportunity. We will be back soon for some more crafts!

Alicia is a mother of two and blogs at I Found My Feet.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

Patti from Tag Along Toys has generously given us two Alex Craft kits (ideal for preschool age kids) to give away to our readers!

To enter leave a comment telling us what kind of crafts your kids like to do.  Contest closes on Friday June 15 at 5pm and winners must be able to go to Tag Along Toys (499 Terry Fox Drive, Kanata) to pick up the prize.

Good luck!

 

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Here's what you might have missed in January 2012

It's been a while since we've done a Monthly Roundup, but we're bringing it back in 2012! Here's what's been going on around here in the last month: January Craft Carnival The craft carnival by Alicia married two of kids' favourite things - reading and crafts. Go on over and see what everyone else did! Perhaps you'd like to use some Melissa and Doug art supplies for your next craft project.

Activities for Kids As we all know, there is so much to do with children in Ottawa. We started out by sticking close to home with a little YouTube time. The best part was all the videos everyone posted in the comments! When you're done flipping through a few YouTube channels, it's time to get up and MOVE. So, how about doing some gymnastics? Or perhaps you'd prefer to go skating? But if you're already a skater, ringette or soccer might be just thing thing for you! The Ottawa Public Library (sponsor) gave us a number of timely book suggestions - all about hockey.

Parenting Tips We've had some great advice, from the birth of a second child to Kindergarten registration and even when to register a child who's birthday falls close to the cut-off.

Cooking Making healthy snacks for children can be challenging so Ezmy shared a few of her ideas with us. Of course, special days come along every once in a while and they call for colourful cupcakes!

Child Safety We shared a great video from Tail-Wags Helmets about bicycle safety and the need for helmets.

Speaking of Videos - and other technology Lara shared her thoughts about taking video of your children and how much they enjoy watching themselves.  It's pretty easy to see the benefits of having video of your kids, but the question of when to get cell phones is not nearly as straightforward.

Moving Abroad We've started a special series - written by contributor, Krista - about her family's adventures living in India where they moved last fall. Don't miss out on these posts - her pictures are stunning and gorgeous!

Kids in the Capital Finally, in this month's KIC Gives Back post, I shared about One Laptop Per Child. We got a response from the organization and they made sure we knew about their Canadian operations. This is a great program - if you missed it the first time, you can read all about OLPC here.

We did a lot of calling on contributors this month - for pictures and posts. Before you know it, we'll start to see the snow melt and the green will come back and we'll need more pictures to update our new banner - did you get a chance to see it yet? Here it is:

Keep coming back in February as we add new contributors and share more about what's going on in Ottawa as well as adding enhancements to the site to serve you even better!

Help for the least-crafty-mom-in-the-universe

by Karen I don't know what happened to me. I grew up with a mom who was a teacher. She was creative and had endless ideas for crafts. I, on the other hand, don't have the first clue where to begin with crafts.

But I recently had an epiphany when Lara made me write about Pinterest. It's actually a never-ending reservoir of ideas - specifically craft ideas! I have a pinboard that I called Crafty Ambitions where I'm storing all the ideas I find that I'm interested in. One that I may try over the holidays is this one - with some modifications to make it more age appropriate for Brandon:

This next pin led me to a site called CraftGawker. Are you the crafty sort? It will blow your mind. Click the link with caution - you've been warned.

There's so much out there to explore and find. And Pinterest or CraftGawker are much better than going the Google route. I even found some interesting ideas for wreaths. What do you think? (Conveniently, W works for me!)

I'm really looking forward to the holidays so we have a little extra time to try out some new crafts. And I have a few weeks left to find some really fun ones.

What are your crafty secrets? Where do you source your ideas and find projects? What are your favorite materials to work with?

Karen Wilson is a wife to Matt and mom to Brandon (3), who blogs about her life at Karen’s Chronicles. She also explores one of her favourite topics – social media – at her blog, The Media Mesh. You can follow Karen on twitter and find her in other places here.

This weekend:

Don't forget that there are more Santa Claus parades happening and Shopping and Sweets is this Saturday!

Kids Create! November Craft Carnival {Family}

It’s time to get crafty with the KITC Kids Create! Monthly Craft Carnival. Thank you to those who participated in last month's craft carnival! October's theme was Leaves and we had a lot of fun celebrating fall and it's beautiful colours.  Here are the submissions (you can click on the description below each picture to learn more about the craft): 

Fall Alphabet Tree by Rebecca at A Little Bit of Momsense



Leafy Sun Catchers by Lara at Gliding Through Motherhood
Leaf Garland by Alicia at I Found My Feet

Interested in getting involved this month? Read last month's post for more details on what a craft carnival is, who can participate, and where and how you can showcase your crafts!

November 2011 Theme - Family

Will you create a family painting or family tree? Maybe a craft that represents your family's bond? Whatever the craft - have fun making this craft WITH your family.

Deadline to submit: Wednesday, November 30th

What will your family create?

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Encouraging Young Writers: Make a Writing Caddy

by Valancy

Whenever I am writing a grocery list, my kids love to highjack my pen and paper and fill the page with their own scribbles. My son, who is four, enjoys making his own lists and telling me what each scribble means (usually his favourite foods that he wants to buy at the store). My daughter, who has just turned two, specializes in covering up my own words with ink first, and then filling the rest of the page with loops or a series of vertical lines.

I know that this enthusiasm for making their own marks is an important precursor to literacy and writing skills, and I’ve read the expert advice that says to encourage these developing skills by making writing materials readily available. The thought of toddlers and preschoolers with free access to Crayola can strike fear in the hearts of parents. Especially those with white couches. I had never really shared that worry when firstborn my son was younger, as he was naturally cautious and was very good about keeping his art more or less on the paper. His younger sister, on the other hand, tends to be a bit more carefree and experimental. I have to admit that over the past year or so I’ve reserved crayons and markers for supervised craft time exclusively, and then only in locations with surfaces from which crayon and maker are easily washed off.

However, now that my two-year-old daughter can (usually) be trusted not to draw on the walls and the furniture, I figure it is time to have some writing and drawing materials available whenever the kids wanted to use them. Looking around the internet for some inspiration on how to best organize the supplies and make them easy to access for the kids, I discovered this lovely writing caddy from PlayfulLearning.com

I love the fact that everything is neatly contained and organized, and the caddy is portable, so the kids could use it wherever they were inspired to write – at their own kid table in the family room, the coffee table in the living room, the kitchen counter, etc.

While you can buy this caddy, stocked or empty, directly from PlayfulLearning.com, it is a bit out of my budget. As a more affordable alternative, I bought an inexpensive cutlery caddy, and stocked it with art supplies that I already had on hand. I found this great bamboo caddy on Amazon.ca, which was perfect because it had one long cubby that is perfect for storing paper.  (Tip: if looking online try searching for “cutlery” or “flatware” caddy.)

I did splurge and purchased some high quality children’s pencil crayons. These Lyra Ferby pencil crayons are short and fat, which makes them easy for small hands to grab, and the triangular shape is recommended by preschool and kindergarten teachers to encourage the development of the proper pincer grip. According to the manufacturer, these pencil crayons are also supposed to have rich colour lay-down and be resistant to breaking, and so far they’ve been living up to those promises. They really are lovely to draw with; they feel so silky on the page. I ordered mine online, but you can also find them locally in Ottawa at 3 Little Monkeys .

I also stocked the caddy with some small empty notebooks, loose paper, envelopes, old Easter Seals and World Wildlife Fund stamps, and other “treasures” from my stationary drawer. To help my son, who is starting junior kindergarten this year, practice his letters, I also found some free letter sheet printables online. (See below for links.)

Both kids loved their new writing caddy right away, and have been using it regularly since.  Even my 26-month old will pull it off the shelf herself when she wants to draw, and both she and her big brother have been surprising good about returning the crayons and markers to the caddy after using them. There have been a few incidents with an uncapped marker too near the couch, but it really has been only a few times. Thank goodness for washable markers and easy to clean microfiber!

Free alphabet printables:

Uppercase & alphabet charts at PlayfulLearning.net: http://www.playfulearning.com/Playful_Learning/Writing_Playful_Learning_Experiences.html

Learning ABC’s worksheets from Classroomjr.com: http://www.classroomjr.com/learning-abc/

Individual letter alphabet handwriting practice sheets from Mywaytoo.com: http://www.mywaytoo.com/Pages/alphabet.html

Block printing alphabet practice worksheets from k12reader.com: http://www.k12reader.com/handwriting-practice-worksheets-block-style-print/

Traceable alphabet worksheets for preschoolers from Kidslearningstation.com: http://www.kidslearningstation.com/preschool/teach-printing.asp

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