Get Busy with Spring Break Crafts for Kids

The kids are home for Spring Break, and chances are you could use a few craft ideas for entertaining them. Here are 5 Spring Break arts and crafts that are sure to keep them busy!

1. Yarn Eggs

Our first Spring Break craft idea could pass as an Easter-time craft, but really it works any time of year. It’s a fun project for school-age kids who will love the process and the end result – big, colorful orbs to hang in their rooms.  You’ll need thin cotton yarn, balloons, craft glue, newspaper, waxed paper, a clothespin and a hanger. The project involves making a watered-down glue mixture, dipping strands of yarn in it and and wrapping around a balloon. Once dry, you pop and remove the balloon, and you are left with a funky, colorful egg.

2. Spring Blossom Painting

The blogger from Toddler Approved created the idea for this gorgeous painting that is worthy of hanging on a prime spot on your walls. Check out her handy tutorial for a detailed how-to that includes photos of each step. Be assured that it’s a simple project involving materials you likely already have in the house, which is perfect for crafts for Spring Break… watercolor paper, paint and a Sharpie is all you need!

Blossom Painting by Toddler Approved
Blossom Painting by Toddler Approved

3. Chalkboard Flower Pots

We’ve tweaked this Spring Break craft a bit to make it more kid- friendly.  The day before you tackle this project with the kids, paint a few flower pots with chalkboard paint. The ingenious paint now comes in nearly every color of the rainbow.  Once dry, big kids they may enjoy embellishing the pots with trim, ribbon or buttons (similar to the project shown here). Kids of all ages will love using the colorful pots to plant a few fast-growing seeds or actual flowers or plants you’ve picked up from the home improvement store or local nursery, and then decorating their pots with chalk drawings that can be erased at whim.

Chalkboard Flower Pots by Paint Me Plaid
Chalkboard Flower Pots by Paint Me Plaid

4. Button Flowers for Counting

This cute craft helps young kids count and learn to associate numbers. It’s simple, too.  Help kids use green Wikki Stix  (wax covered yarn sticks you can bend and mold to any shape) to make stems and leaves for flowers and attach to a piece of white paper.  Children can then attach a button to the top of the stem (the Wikki Stix will adhere the button so no glue is necessary). Label the stems of the flowers with any numbers the children are working on.  Have the children place the corresponding number of buttons on top of the flowers.

Button Flowers for Counting by Sixty Second Parent
Button Flowers for Counting by Sixty Second Parent

5. Bunny Paper Plate Photo Frame

Here’s a cute Spring Break craft that even the tiniest tots can handle. Simply cut the middle out of a paper plate, paste cotton balls on the remaining circle, and staple two bunny ears made from additional plates and also covered in cotton balls You can either paste it around a photo of your child’s face (like a frame) or tie a string from side-to-side on the back and make a fun mask.

Bunny Love by I Love 1st Grade

Need a break from Spring Break? Find and book babysitters with UrbanSitter. Sign up for free and start searching for babysitters!

Throw a Memorial Day BBQ Bash!

Cooking with Kids, Grilling with Kids, Family Barbeque, Memorial Day Party with Kids

No matter where you live, there’s no way your family can spend Memorial Day inside of a restaurant! If you haven’t received an invite to a backyard barbeque, it’s time to plan your own. Get the kids involved and throw a fabulous kid-friendly Memorial Day BBQ Bash. Our checklist will have your party planned in no time.

Your Guide to Hosting a Memorial Day Barbecue Party

The Vibe

Memorial Day is a day to celebrate our fallen soldiers and the country they’ve served. It’s about patriotism and red, white and blue.  Let the theme set the scene:

  • Fill mason jars with simple flowers, such as white tulips, daisies and blue hydrangeas. Tie the jars with a festive ribbon and, if you like, stick a miniature flag into it to add to the theme These make great centerpieces or decoration on a buffet or bar and are a fun, easy activity for children.
  • Twinkling lights always make a night feel special. Hang up strings of tiny fairy lights for a festive look when the sun goes down.
  • Use red or blue cloth napkins and simple white melamine plates so there’s no extra waste or worry over broken dishes.
  • Get the kids to organize some All-American entertainment. Who doesn’t love a game of kickball, flag-football or badminton, if you can get your hands on a net, racquets and a few birdies. It just might become a Memorial Day tradition on your block.
  • Give the kids a memorial day activity or craft, such as creating red, white and blue slime from I Can Teach My Child. It’s an outdoor party, right? Or create a patriotic suncatcher from A Little Pinch of Perfect.

Memorial Day BBQ, Kid-Friendly Picnic, Kid Memorial Day Party

The Food

It’s all about the grill, whether it’s parked on your patio or in the park. Choose two main entrée options – one for the meat lovers and one that’s vegetarian.

  • Burgers are always a fan favorite at outdoor barbeques. You’ll find every kind of burger recipe imaginable, all claiming to be “the best burger recipe ever.” To keep it simple and kid-friendly go with a classic burger and guests can make it fancy or not based on the toppings you have. For the kids, a side of ketchup and pickles is all they need.
  • Crispy Quinoa Sliders are a tasty and fun vegetarian option. Even the meat-eaters will be eyeing it in envy, so make extras.

    Quinoa Sliders from How Sweet It Is
    Quinoa Sliders from How Sweet It Is
  • Side dishes are the perfect option if a guest offers to bring something to the family barbeque. Popular sides include salad, pasta or vegetable dishes. Keeping the kids in mind, a patriotic fruit salad is sure to be a hit – add strawberries, blueberries and watermelon. A caprese skewer of mozzarella balls, watermelon and a blueberry or two on top also keeps with the red, white and blue theme and is enjoyed by kids and adults alike.

The Drink

BYOB (to share!) always works, as well as providing a good selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Since it’s an outside bash, forego anything fancy or fussy and stick with a few choices of good beer, and chilled white or rose wine

Another good route is to create a signature cocktail that guests can serve themselves from a big pitcher or punch bowl. Good Housekeeping has an extensive list of memorial day signature cocktails that may have your mouth watering. Try out their backyard lemonade or the ginger mint margarita.

The Finale (Dessert!)

Everyone loves a good dessert. Make it a DIY “event” and the kids will have a blast. With a little prep, you can create the ultimate s’mores bar or ice cream sundae buffet Here’s a handy list of what to pick up to make your dessert bar a success!

For S’more Building:

  • Graham crackers
  • Marshmallows (there’s one than just the  plain white ones)
  • Milk chocolate, white chocolate, and dark chocolate bars

For Sundae Building:

  • Ice cream – mostly vanilla, but throw in a gallon or two of chocolate, strawberry or pistachio.
  • Chopped fresh fruit, such as bananas, peaches, strawberries or whole blueberries
  • Maraschino cherries
  • Cookie bits (crush Oreos or chocolate chip cookies)
  • M&Ms or other candies
  • Raisins
  • Shredded coconut
  • Chopped peanuts or walnuts (if there are no allergies amongst the guests)
  • Candy sprinkles
  • Chocolate sauce or hot fudge sauce
  • Carmel sauce
  • Whipped cream

Ask your kids to help plan the memorial day barbeque bash and especially what to have for dessert! The more involved the kids are, the more fun they’ll have!

Now all you need to do is invite your guests. If your guest list includes a lot of kids, find a babysitter to help you out!

How to inject Family Fun into a Summer of Work & Camp

four out of five of the miller & friedlander kids playing cards

Summertime, which we’d so love to think of as carefree fun-time, can too often be an extended period of regret for those working moms and dads who can take few vacation days to spend with the family. But do the post-school hot months necessarily have to translate into drudgery for kids, and a guilt-fest for parents?

Not in the slightest, say Lisa Friedlander and Ilene Miller, DC-area moms who are the founders of class- and camp-booking site Activity Rocket, and between them, parents to five kids. Fun for all might just start with an attitude adjustment: one that enables you to see the summer camp you might inevitably have to enroll your kids in as something exciting and enriching rather than an unfortunately necessity.

According to Miller—mom to sons Mark, age 13, and Max, age 10—“The beauty of summer is it gives kids the opportunity to do something new, that they don’t get exposed to in school, like Claymation camp, or rock band camp, for example,” she says. “But in our area, there are also kids who spend the summer at the community pool, taking swim lessons and being pool bums.” Either way, she says, when kids are happy and tired at the end of the day, that goes a long way toward minimizing parental guilt. Which makes for happier family time all around, when you do manage to wedge some in.

This doesn’t have to be an elaborate or expensive prospect, Miller maintains. “I really value the longer days in the summertime, when the kids can stay up later,” she says. “My husband, Craig, and I try to spend a lot of unstructured family time in the evenings with them. We can barbecue outside, have family tournaments that can last the whole weekend—the kids are huge card sharks. We just get back to basics.”

The basics certainly extend to weekends, when camp and work are finished for the week. Says Miller, “We’re so lucky that in the DC area, we have hiking trails, and a lot of rivers that are accessible to us within 10 minutes, that we can kayak on with the kids.” She’s also a big proponent of finding community events, most of which are free. “In the Potomac area, we’ve got all the Smithsonian museums, book fairs, concerts in the parks, festivals—often they have no admission and the only money we’ll spend is on food once we get there.”

Friedlander and family spend weekends at a river house on the Chesapeake (if you don’t have your own, make friends with someone who does, she jokes!). “It’s very much no screens, no electronics, a lot of time spent tubing and water skiing and playing beach tennis and fishing and crabbing the old-fashioned way, with a piece of chicken tied to a rope.” With her oldest child, Jaclyn, age 14, set to head off to sleepaway camp for the entire summer, she says she’s also relishing the opportunity to spend a bit of quality time with Cole, age 11, and Camryn, age 9. As well as taking her own breather from the usual grind. “Those eight weeks of summer go by so fast, it’s important to give yourself a little bit of a break,” she says. “Whether that means not cooking every night, or not cleaning up every day, or just enjoying a walk around the neighborhood—things you wouldn’t do on a regular basis. Just slow down and enjoy the pace of summer.”

Also critical for Miller, “I need time with my husband, too, whether or not the kids are away. We’ll take a picnic and a bottle of wine somewhere, and focus on our time alone.”

But absolutely the biggest opportunity afforded even to working parents and camp kids in the summer: the fabulousness of being outside. “We get really active,” says Friedlander. “We have swimming races, and we bought a Kanjam—literally a Frisbee you throw into a slot, a team game that’s tons of fun; we all love it.”

Says Miller, “Friends helped us build a Gaga pit, which is Israeli dodge ball in a confined space. On weekends we’ll have friends over and sometimes it’s just adults in there. It’s a great way to be outside, get competitive, and work out a little aggression.” Let the summer games begin!

Nona Evans of Whole Kids Foundation Wants to Turn Every Kid Into a Passionate Gardener—And Eater


By Lela Nargi

Nona Evans calls her latest job, as Executive Director of Whole Kids Foundation (WKF), penance for the past working lives of her ancestors. “My grandfather on one side of the family owned an Italian restaurant, and my grandfather on the other side started a candy store. They put a lot of sugar and calories out in the world!” she laughs.

Evans started her own work life in a conventional grocery store, in marketing and PR, before she found her way to organic specialty market chain Whole Foods. There, she headed the company’s foray into educating its customers about what children across the country were eating for lunch, and how it affected how they were performing in school. Response to the program was so successful that it became larger than her job description. So, in 2012 she went to the company’s powers that be and they voted to translate her work into WKF, to provide schools with grants to start gardens and salad bars. Evans has been its fearless and passionate leader ever since.

What were you hoping to get out of this project when you started the Foundation four years ago? 
We fully believe that a school garden is the most reasonable investment a school can make. We did lot of research and found that a grant of $2,000 is adequate for a school to implement garden for first time, or for a school with an existing garden to make meaningful transformation: triple it so every class can have bed, or add an outdoor classroom, or add irrigation. But when we started, the idea of gardening at school was just beginning to become something parents and teachers and administrators could consider. Today, awareness of its impact and importance is so much greater, and there’s an openness to the type of learning that can be accomplished with it. I don’t think we’re at the tipping point of being mainstream just yet—the USDA did a survey at end 2014 and found there are only an estimated 20,000 school gardens across the US—but I’m encouraged by the experience of Whole Kids so far.

Well, what are the benefits of a school garden?
The most important thing that school gardens do for our kids is add a hands-on, nature-based learning environment. There are three types of learners: visual, artistic, and kinesthetic. One and three learn best in school garden, so it enhances educational effectiveness for two-thirds of the population. It actually makes the academic portion of what a school is challenged to do more effective. We know from research, and from what Alice Waters did with her Edible Schoolyard Project, that when kids know where their food comes from, they’re more willing to eat a new vegetable. They want to understand the connection between what they eat and how their bodies work: how it helps them perform on the soccer field, or whatever they’re passionate about. The most powerful ingredient we activate is curiosity.


Do you do garden experiments on your own kid?
I have a 12-year-old son, Patrick. He’s best case study I could ever have been given. He ate absolutely everything till he was 4 years old. Then one day he came home and said word “yuck,” and I almost fell out of me chair. His girlfriend at daycare, Summer, had said “yuck,” and he became a picky eater, because he could. He would pick the green stuff out of everything. We live in Texas, where we have Tex-Mex rice with everything, and he would pick out every iota cilantro. So, we started gardening. Funnily enough, he decided he wanted to plant cilantro . And he started eating it by handful, because he had that connection. He had grown and nurtured it himself. Even now, I bought some cilantro seedlings a few weeks ago and I found him sitting at the kitchen table, with every leaf picked off it. My caterpillar son!

That experience is very similar to what we find and advocate for with Whole Kids. Give kids a choice and the world opens up. Implement a salad bar at school, and kids are empowered to pick what they want for lunch. They may begin by picking lettuce and carrots and croutons, but by end of the school year, they’re experimenting because of positive peer pressure. They’re eating garbanzo beans.

greens-in-gardenHave you always been a gardener?
Actually I have to credit my husband, John Spillers, who’s a police officer. He was a gardener long before it was fashionable; he was a fan of Square Foot Gardening, that PBS show. He really enabled us to garden as family. Once, for Valentine’s Day, he gave me two new raised beds with spectacular soil in them, a mix of compost and vermiculite and peat moss that produced beautifully. Four years ago, when we moved so we had more room to garden, he moved my dirt.

We make a good team. I’m laissez faire and he’s meticulous. I had the good fortune three years ago to visit the White House garden—talk about meticulously cared for! I came back with every intention of having a pristine garden. But no matter how much time I have to spend in garden, nature is an amazing thing and so much grows, both literally and figuratively. We make sure to take care of our pollinator friends, so this year I planted zinnias for them, and we always put in milkweed for the monarch butterflies, which are experiencing a lot of habitat loss. Last year, we had so may caterpillars, they made a chrysalis across our front door. We saw so many butterflies emerge, which is like it’s magic.

How’s your neighborhood for gardening?
We live in Shady Hollow, which has lots of the old-growth oak trees that are native to area, which is wonderful. But in terms of gardening, I think we were the original catalyst in the neighborhood. There’s a wonderful young man next door, Caulden, who when he was 3 years old wandered into our yard. He tugged on some greens and out came carrot. I still remember the amazement on his face. His mom said he’d never eaten that before and in 10 seconds, it was gone. The kids around here expect them, now. I’m constantly delivering fresh greens and tomatoes to people. I always have bountiful rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, parsley, enough for everyone. And we’ve created a neighborhood share; these days, we’re a wonderful gardening community. Our next door neighbors just started raising chickens. All the kids around here benefit.

Do you also cook from your garden every night?
We’re a two-parent working family. Cooking is my therapy, and I specialize in getting dinner on table 15 minutes or less, and whatever I make it always has lots of herbs from my garden. I love to cook with herbs. But it’s important to have go-to paces for dinner when don’t have energy or time to cook. We try and find places that serve locally-grown ingredients. Anything that has a vegetable combo on the menu, it’s definitely on our list.

What’s your advice for starting a garden for other Austinites, or for anyone who wants to plant something in the ground?
Start with what you love to eat, and don’t be afraid to experiment. There are tons of places in Austin for seeds and seedlings: there’s The Natural Gardener, which promotes native species. There’s a nursery called It’s About Thyme that’s locally-owned; I love anyplace where you can get to know the owners. And we love High Mowing Organic Seeds, which is one of the best seed suppliers in the country—you can order seeds online. But it’s also important to remember that you don’t have to have a huge back yard. Your garden can be as small as a windowsill or a pot you put on your patio. Just give it a shot!

Photographs of Nona and Patrick, and bed of greens, courtesy of Nona Evans.

4 Easy DIY Projects for Parents & Kids

Contribution by Andrea Davis, Home Advisor

Finding projects to do around the house and yard with your kids is a great way to engage and teach your children. When choosing projects, it is important to consider two things: whether it requires adult supervision and if it engages or intrigues your kids. You want a project that awes and teaches them. Here are some fun projects that get work done around the house and keep your child entertained at the same time.

Paint a Room Together
Kids love to finger paint and work with paintbrushes on paper, so why not give them a canvas like a wall in a room? You can teach them the proper way to move a roller up and down, or you can let them go crazy—to a point—on a wall. Laying down plastic sheets on the floor and painter’s tape over the molding and baseboards will protect them from getting stained or needing a new coat of paint. This will also allot your child the opportunity to feel like they contributed to a project in the house, even if you might have to do a little repainting later.

Grow a Vegetable Garden
Growing an easy vegetable garden is a fun and simple thing to do no matter where you live. If you do not have room in your yard, you can buy a large pot and fill it with soil. There are plenty of vegetable types that will grow in pots. Carrots, bush beans, herbs and radishes are all easy vegetables to grow nearly anywhere. Have your kids plant the seeds and then instruct them on the watering schedule. Once the vegetables are ready to harvest, make sure to cook them up and let your kids take pride in the vegetables they grew.

Vegetable pots copy

Install Stepping Stones in the Backyard
Making stepping stones is a great project to do with kids, and it adds an artistic flare to backyard gardens, patios or walkways. The creativity with this project is unlimited as you can make your own molds with old pans, wood or just about anything that will aide in creating a stone two inches thick. Use ready-mix concrete or mortar and a 40-pound bag will make three to five stones, so plan accordingly.

While you do the prep work of mixing the concrete, have the kids find decorative objects such as beads, pebbles, old marbles or anything else hard and decorative. When the concrete is wet, the kids can add the decorative items. It will take about 48 hours for the concrete to set and then you can remove it from the mold and install it where you choose.

Stepping stones

Plant Solar Lights
Adding solar lights to your garden, walkways or lawn perimeter is simple, fun and creative. Solar lights come in a wide range of styles, anything from basic lights to whimsical creatures. The lights are also supremely easy to install, and your kids can enjoy staking them in whatever location you, or they, choose. Make sure and take them out to see the lights coming on at night. Some tips for installing solar lights to get the most out of them are as follows:

  • Avoid putting them in places where they could be obstructions.
  • Put them in places to highlight a feature, such as a garden or pathway.
  • Make sure to put them in places that maximize sunlight.
  • You can also use the opportunity to teach your kids about green outdoor lighting.

Solar lights

These four projects will require some initial prep work and instructions, but once underway, they should occupy children without much hands-on help from adults.

Andrea Davis is the editor for HomeAdvisor, which helps homeowners find home improvement professionals in their area at no charge to ensure the best service in the shortest amount of time. 

10 Family Activities for a Sweet Summer

For most of us, summer provides a less restrictive schedule with a little more time to spare. There are no school bells to beat, carpools to shuffle, homework to deal with or early bedtimes to make. Take advantage of some of the extra time and freedom, even if it’s just having a longer evening thanks to Daylight Savings Time, by enjoying these top 10 summer activities to do with your family. You’ll be glad you did!


  1. Attend a baseball game.
    Whether it’s a MLB or a little league game, nothing says summer quite like rooting for the home team at a ballgame. Grab a few hot dogs for the kids and find a spot on the bleachers… even if your little ones are too young to last more than a few innings.
  2. Splash with friends at a pool party.
    If you don’t have a friend’s pool to crash, find a local public pool or private swim club and arrange to have a few friends and their kids gather for a fun afternoon in the water.
  3. Throw a BBQ.
    You don’t need a backyard to host an outdoor summer BBQ. A park with accessible grills or a spot for you to bring your own will work just as well. Check out our Pinterest board, Party Food for fun outdoor dishes to share.
  4. See the stars.
    Loosen the reigns and let your kids stay up late enough to see the night sky. Pack a blanket, load up the car and find a spot dark enough to see for miles.
  5. Get away without the kids!
    No matter how much you cherish the extra hours with your kids during summer vacation, everyone needs a break from each other. Log onto UrbanSitter to find a sitter who will stay the night, or better yet the weekend. You don’t need to spend a fortune or go far to rejuvenate and recharge.
  6. Enjoy an outdoor concert.
    Even families with infants can manage and appreciate a concert in the park. Kids will love camping out on a blanket and listening to the music. Just be sure to bring snacks.
  7. Get wet!
    Come summer, you gotta hit the water. Find a local spot to rent a paddle boat, tube down a lazy river or get drenched at a water or kids splash park.
  8. Go camping.
    Our post last summer on camping hot spots was a reader favorite for good reason. Camping is perfect for families! Check out our post for super family-friendly sites, coast to coast. If packing up the car and hauling your kids to the woods seems like a daunting task, pitch a tent in the backyard for a slumber party under the stars.
  9. Get together with school friends.
    Back to school transitions will be easier if there are familiar faces to share the new routine. Take the time now to schedule play dates with school friends and host an afternoon at your place for your child to meet new friends who will be together in the fall.
  10. Have a picnic. A picnic is the perfect way to enjoy a relaxing afternoon with your family, and knock out dinner, too. We have just the menu for you to do it right and with little effort.

Before the hectic routine of the school year starts again, take the time to enjoy the season with your family. Sharing these fun, memorable summertime activities helps to build happy memories that will stay with you and your kids a lifetime.

 What’s on your summer to-do list?

Summer Entertainment for Kids – Free Printables

Once the final school bell of the year rings, keeping the kids engaged and occupied for the next three months lies solely on you and whatever childcare you’ve lined up for the summer. Fear not! We’ve found 6 totally free, downloadable printables, guaranteed to be welcomed diversions on more than one rainy day, long car ride or when you simply need a moment to yourself.

ABC PracticeThis letter tracing sheet will keep beginning writers sharp and help ABC newbies learn and practice their letters before the start of preschool or kindergarten. The clean, watermark-free file is also nice to frame as artwork or at least to keep in the baby book. (via Back House White Shutters)

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 12.36.04 PM

Travel Bingo: There are six of these save-your-sanity bingo cards that are beyond perfect for the family road trip. They have pictures along with the words, so even little ones can play. You can print them on card stock and have them laminated or place each in a page protector. As kids find an object on the card, they can mark it by placing a sticker on it or use a dry erase marker. (via Simple As That)

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 12.44.56 PM


Coloring Pages: Take your pick, depending on your audience – coloring pages from Disney’s much adored Frozen movie or super cool color-by-number sheets. If your kids are as obsessed with Disney’s Frozen as much as ours are, they’ll melt to pieces over these fun coloring pages. (via The Kids Coloring Pages)

via Kids Coloring Pages

Reading with Kids: For older kids or for those who like a bit more of a challenge, Reading with Kids provides dozens of color-by-number and color-by-letter printables. Simply use the code at the bottom of each pages to determine how to color each space. A picture is revealed when all the spaces are colored. (via Reading with Kids)

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 12.48.59 PM

Dr. Seuss Word SearchWord searches are fun, attention-grabbing and just the right activity to bring to a restaurant, on a road trip or as a quiet activity for rest (in lieu of nap) time. Here’s a cute word search with words from the popular author. If you’d rather make your own, providing the words and controlling the difficulty level, check out Discovery Education’s Puzzlemaker. (via Jinxy Kids)

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 12.59.10 PM

For more great printables, including finds to keep your family entertained, organized and sharp, check out our Pinterest Printables Board. You, your kids and your sitter will be glad you took the time to download a few sanity savers! 

World Cup Fun for the Family

If you haven’t yet caught World Cup fever, it’s not too late to get in on the excitement and cheer for the home team. Team USA secured its place in the last 16 of the World Cup and will play Belgium on Tuesday, July 1 – just days before our nation celebrates its Independence Day. Kick up your family’s patriotism with these fun crafts. Cheer on our team in Tuesday’s game and again on the 4th when they’d make for great decorations for a family BBQ and awesome fanfare for a neighborhood bike parade.

Fun, festive crafts to cheer on Team USA and celebrate July 4th

via The Crafting Chicks

This printable USA banner is perfect for game day decoration at home or for a bike or stroller decoration. (via The Crafting Chicks)

via Paging Super Mom

These paper flag fans are festive and fun, and make for an easy craft to make with kids. Simply print the template and glue to sticks. Your kids will love them! (via Paging Super Mom)

via Spoonful

It’s party time when you hang red, white and blue stars from the ceiling! We’re digging these star streamers. (via Spoonful)

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 9.42.44 AM

Oh, the wonderful things you can do with duct tape! These patriotic duct tape banners are perfect if you’re lacking in craft supplies and need a simple, afternoon project. (via Becoming Simple)


Although a little messy, these paper rockets are a hit for kids! Not only can they decorate their own rockets, but who doesn’t love a confetti shower? (via Alpha Mom)

In no time at all, you’ll have your whole family cheering, “U-S-A! U-S-A!” How is your family celebrating the World Cup? Let us know in the comments!

This Fall’s Must-Do Activities with Kids

fall activities for kids
photo credit: D Sharon Pruitt

Ahhh, Autumn. It’s many people’s favorite season, and for good reason — the nip in the air, the crisp leaves, the pumpkin-flavored espresso drinks — to name just a few. And for little ones, there’s loads of fun to be had. Why not take the whole family and indulge in one of these sure-to-please Fall diversions on your next free weekend?

1. Pumpkin Patch

Now, this one is a classic, tried and true. Children are just as pleased with a trip to the super market aisle or an off-the-freeway patch complete with jumpy house. But most counties have at least one big, fall-festival-like patch with a corn maze, hot cider stand, and maybe even a petting zoo.

These off-the-beaten-track spots offer a little something extra and really bring the experience home. Plus, the car ride builds anticipation. Check out these safe, no-carve pumpkin decorating ideas.

2. Apple Picking

If you venture out a little further into the country (or deep suburbs in some spots), you can usually find a place to pick apples when Fall rolls around.

A family farm is the typical backdrop and kids as young as one or two can join in the fun. Apple orchards are heaving with fruit this time of year and for a small fee, you can borrow a basket and pick as many you like (or want to pay for), as you meander amongst the trees and livestock. Have a taste or make apple cider at home! This is a fun, easy activity for families and makes for a great photo op as well. Some farms require an appointment, so do your research.

3. Pie Making

Once you’ve picked your apples (or purchased them at the grocery store), why not share the experience of making a home-made pie with your kids?

Whether you have Grandma’s tried and true recipe or one just downloaded, the kids will love the hands-on experience…and delectable result. You can even let the kids use cookie cutters to decorate the crust….easy as pie! And sure to fill your home with a delicious Fall aroma.

4. Jumping in Leaves

A classic straight out of a Normal Rockwell painting. But truly, leaf jumping never gets old for kids–or even dogs. Just use a standard rake to gather the leaves in your yard and let them go to town. Of course, you will have to deal with the end product — a mess of crispy leaf bits, but it’s worth it…right?

If you don’t have a yard full of leaves, head to your favorite park and do the same. In that case, the kids will have to gather the leaves themselves, but that in itself can be a great diversion.

Whatever you do this Fall, enjoy yourself! It’s a cozy season filled with rosy cheeks, full moons, and warm sweaters. Plus, before you know it, the madness of the holidays will be upon you. So get out there!

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Family Hot Spots: Enjoying the Great Outdoors in San Francisco

lynn_benandwill_beach_ggbridgeAs any San Francisco resident or frequent visitor can attest, Fall is the ideal time to be outdoors in the City. The afternoons are warm and the evening’s crisp.

If you’re lucky enough to live in SF or are visiting anytime soon, don’t miss an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors with your family. Here are parent-recommended spots for soaking up some sunshine and fresh air in SF.

4 Family-Friendly San Francisco Destinations

Golden Gate Park

Sure, the enormous park is an obvious choice for playing outdoors, but there are so many great destinations within the park that you just may have missed. If you haven’t already, check out a few of these insider favorite spots:

  • The piazza area between the de Young Museum and the Cal Academy is just right for families. There’s plenty of grassy area for spreading out a picnic, playing catch or letting the kids run free. For parents, the abundance of benches and fountains are also a big plus.
  • The Windmill/Tulip Garden on the western side of the park is a worthy stop, especially if you are hoping to visit the Beach Chalet for dinner or a drink.  The sweet oasis is lovely, even if it’s not tulip season.

    Windmills via Golden Gate
    Windmills via Golden Gate
  • If you’re leaving the little ones home, consider a Segway tour for an outdoor date.  If kids are in-tow, consider renting tandem bikes from Bay City Bikes. Kids will love riding with you and early riders won’t slow you down.
  • The children’s playground, called Koret Children’s Quarter, offers a blend of old and new, including an authentic carousel (open weekends-only after Labor Day). There are plenty of climbing opportunities and slides for younger kids, too.
  • Park Chalet – You don’t need an excuse to visit this dining destination, but if you need to put something on the calendar, make it the next JAMBand Family Festival, September 22.

Mission Dolores Park

For those who aren’t familiar, this super-accessible park with plenty of wide open space (edged with palm trees) is located two blocks south of Mission Dolores at the western edge of the Mission District. It’s biggest advantage over other parks in the city? It’s the sunniest spot in SF! Expect a mixed crowd – kids aren’t the ones who like open space and sunshine! Do keep in mind that a major renovation is expected to begin this winter, though the playground will stay open throughout the work.

Mission Dolores Park via SF Parks and Recreation
Mission Dolores Park via SF Parks and Recreation

Claus Oldenburg Cupid’s Span on the Embarcadero

The can’t-miss-it bow and arrow sculpture marks the spot for the perfect family picnic. You are a mere 5-minute walk from the Ferry Building where you can pick up all the good eats you need for a delicious family spread before plopping down by the sculpture. While you’re at the Ferry Building loading up on refreshments, don’t forget to take a minute to gaze at the bay, watch the boats and take in the view. Oh, San Francisco….

Cupid's Span via
Cupid’s Span via

Off the Grid Picnic in the Presidio

Enjoy an Autumn afternoon at this giant family picnic, held weekly on Sundays from 11 am – 4 pm.  Picnics at the Presidio is located on the Main Post Lawn (Main Parade Ground) adjacent to the Walt Disney Family Museum and the Presidio Trust. Their Facebook page says it best, “You can’t say no to a picnic in 75-degree sun, complete with bay views, bloody Maries, hot food, fresh produce, and even bocce ball.”

Picnic at the Presidio 620x390

We hope these SF top spots will give you reason to spend a day outside with your family, sneak out for an afternoon with your kids or escape with your spouse while the kids are at home with a sitter! Fall is the time to do it!

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