Archive For The “Z Getting Creative” Category

Crafty Crystal Creations With Gemmies

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Gemmies Profile Pic 3

Many thanks to Blogger Bash, #SweetSuite and Tech4Kids for the opportunity to review Gemmies, a crystal arts and craft creation. Gemmies are tiny, so firstly make sure your child is old enough and that you have some way to contain the craft pieces while you and your child work. Tech4Kids recommends ages 6+. Personally, I think this is a great activity for parent and child or a couple of girls. It’s the kind of craft you don’t have to concentrate super hard on and can hold a conversation while doing it.

Gemmies Unboxing Pic

So what exactly are you doing with Gemmies? Gems are assembled on tiny rubber bands, according to a pattern and linking together to create flowers, animals, jewelry, and more. There are several kits available with multiple projects. Smaller kits have 2 projects such as Shimmering Flowers and have approx 150 pieces. Medium Theme Packs come with 300 pieces and offer 3 projects.

Gemmies Profile Pic

Gemmies Resealable PouchesThe Gemmies Design Studio is the ultimate Gemmies gift idea or craft workshop item. In a drawer below the work station, all the pieces can be stored in separated compartments.  Along the side of the work studio are areas to completed Gemmies projects and more storage compartments. The best part, as you can see from Victoria’s video below is the light box. After your child completes a crystal piece, she can place it on the light box to illuminate it. Really kinda cool. Oh yeah, and the packs are resealable.

In full disclosure, the girls did find it tricky to stretch the rubber bands on the tool. They needed help, almost every rubber band for the first… well many. The beads slide on easily and following the partner isn’t too difficult. I suggest stretching the rubber bands before activity time. Like anything new, it takes a few attempts. Otherwise, this was a terrific craft kit. Highly recommended for Girl Scout meetings too.

Gemmies Profile Pic 2

 

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Adventure Series: Hanging With My Little Monkey Friends

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So, how many time since having kids have you said, “You’re not a monkey, don’t climb on the ___” (use your own example here – table, sofa, curtains)?

Seriously, “monkey” became part of our every day conversations once I had kids. Now aside from acting like monkeys or being carried on our person like monkeys… children are also fascinated with this species. (Okay, okay so not just the kids.) Guess who’s most anticipated when we go to the zoo? Of course we love the lions and bird house and those huge snakes we’d never seek out elsewhere… but the monkeys, gorillas and apes always steal the show.  (And if you think I’m a fanatic, oh you should see my sister’s menagerie of monkeys!!)

Monkeys, chimpanzees, orangutans, apes, tamarin – after a while they all just seem to be the same but in fact there are two groups of primates: Apes and Monkeys. Orangutans, chimpanzees, gibbons and gorillas fall into the Ape category, while the Monkey category includes baboon, tamarin and mandrill.   So in the spirit of Homeroom At Home, we decided to put this curiosity to work. My family held our first on-site (and quite interactive) parent/child “edu-play date”. That’s right, we got down to the fun monkey business of learning all about primates.  It was simple; it was entertaining; it was educational (even for the adults!) With crafts, games and snacks we kept ourselves quite entertained for two hours.  Knowing that our audience was going to be on the younger side, we kept the games and crafts very very simple, although you could easily choose more age-appropriate ones. We decorated bookmarks with monkey and gorilla stickers. We used hula hoops and a round table cloth to play games with a blow-up monkey. Of course our littlest guest thought he should be the monkey-in-the-middle.  Another really cute game was “Where Is Sock Monkey?” complete with a stuffed sock monkey. For snack we ate Banana Graham Cracker Pudding Cake and Monkey Bread. We read a variety of books and used a simple story board to demonstrate the differences between apes and monkeys and then we tested our knowledge with picture books and stuffed animals. Each child took home coloring sheets of either gibbons, gorillas, tamarins, orangutans or monkeys. The highlight of the evening was the puppet story telling of 5 Little Monkeys Sitting In A Tree whereby teasing a certain crocodile. I happened to have a Crocodile Cuddle-Uppet and five stuffed animal monkeys. Everyone participated as one by one the monkeys disappeared. We also read and re-enacted 5 Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed and below you’ll find a cute picture of that action. Again, these highly engaging stories were the talk of the night.   Check out our Facebook page for more fun photos of our Monkey Edu-Play Date.

As fun as it was playing games and tossing around stuffed animal friends, it doesn’t hold a candle next to watching these primates in action. There are many local places to check out apes and monkeys including the Philadelphia Zoo. The Philadelphia Zoo has named 2012 the Year Of The Orangutan with special exhibits, events and education awareness. The Buffalo Zoo of New York offers wonderful PDF Fact Sheets for most of their animals on exhibit – in fact many zoos offer bios or facts for their animal population but the full sheet fact pages of Buffalo Zoo was impressive and helpful. This was also the case for Brandywine Zoo of Delaware.

We can’t have all this talk about monkeys and apes and NOT mention the Ape House at the National Zoo in DC. This exhibit is home to several gorillas and orangutans. The Ape House is only one of several exhibits the National Zoo offers for primates. When visiting be sure to stop by the Small Mammal House, Think Tank, Lemur Island and more. Be sure to bookmark their website here, as it is full of information to return to – monkeys and otherwise. Another fascinating feature of the National Zoo is the creation of the first ever Orangutan Transport System (OTS) – no kidding! As a solution to a logistical and design issue within the zoo, they created a traveling system allowing the orangutans to freely roam between the Ape House and Think Tank. In addition, the orangutans are offered the freedom to choose their evening dwelling. How cool is that? Check out more on the “O line” by clicking here. Now among several on-going projects, our National Zoo at the Smithsonian has spearheaded the Golden Lion Tamarin Conservation Program whereby saving these critically endangered monkeys over the last three decades and reducing their classification from critically endangered to endangered. Don’t forget to check out the education tools on the website – there’s so much offered.

Play time equals learning fun too, so check out these great toys to continue your primate experience:

China’s famous Yi Yuanji of 1000 years ago, depicted a beautiful scene on silk of two gibbons in a tree. This painting became memorable due to a culture that mostly focused on flowers and birds in artistic expression. You can check it out here.

Let’s continue our discussion… chimpanzees, monkeys, gorillas, etc have been featured in a number of live-action family films. Share with us your favorite and one lucky participant will win a small monkey surprise just for leaving a comment. (Be sure to leave your email, so I can contact the winner directly.) Winner will be chosen on October 25th.

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How to Beat Kid's Summer Boredom

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Sure there are so many things to do for the summer, and every child anxiously awaits the last day of school.  But nonetheless, they experience days of total summer boredom and with that comes nothing good, including the messiest play, mischief, migraines for parents and constant whining.  So here are a few simple suggestions to shake those days up and avoid the pitfalls of overly boring, super hot-n-sticky days of summer.

1.  Catch the sunset.

Sunset on the Delaware River

 

Catchin The Suns Rays

We are fortunate to live close to a park situated on the Delaware River… making an amazing backdrop for the day’s end.   The playground provided plenty of entertainment while we waited for each stage of the sun setting.  For my toddler is was a great lesson in colors as well, as we watched the sky transform from blues and greens to oranges and purples.  Just an amazing summertime thing to do.  We didn’t stay long after, but you could certainly take advantage of the light evening darkness for catching fireflies.  For more educational ideas, look for shapes in the distance and clouds.  For us, the bridge provided angles and triangles.  Talk about the different types of clouds, fresh water vs salt bodies of water, and perception of objects (like will that barge fit under the bridge when it looks too large?)  Test your little one to find the best angle to go down the slide or why sneakers might make you go slower.  And be sure to just sit back and enjoy nature’s beautiful daily artistry. 

Pillow Tower Fun

2. Build a tower of pillows.

Pillow Tower Tumbling

Almost like building blocks but bigger and softer.  Bed pillows, sofa pillows, even the decorative throw pillows add a different dimension to your child’s creative structure.  How high can they stack?  How about tunnels or geometric shapes?  Of course they are fun to climb and topple on top of.  The bravest moms might allow sofa cushions in the mix and/or pillow tosses and fights.  (Confession – I wasn’t that brave mom!)

3.  Themed play… in our case it was Star Wars.

These light sabers totally distract kids (and big kids) from unpleasant storms, heat waves or any boredom.  Part of the charm is that these toys rarely get played with, especially for the young one… so I encourage parents to dig deep for something that the kids rarely get to lay their hands on.

Everything Barbie

Another suggestion: clear a play area and pull out ALL of something for a huge focused playtime activity.  By example, we’ve done this with Barbie… lots and lots of Barbies, furniture, clothes, pets, etc and had one big community of Barbie.  Same idea with Little People making a large platform with all the different pieces arranged to create an interactive community (city, farm, circus).

Catching Some Quiet Time

4. Take a trip to your local library.

We enjoyed a variety of picture

Quiet Time At the Library

books and then had some quiet reading time to ourselves.  Unfortunately we missed the children’s story hour by 30 minutes but now we know better.  Be sure to check out the schedule of events at your library since most have programs for families, especially during the summer.

5. Break away from routine.

Find an opportunity to break your schedule.  Enjoy your breakfast outdoors or perhaps an informal dinner on the deck.  Put on a bubbles parade with music and dance.  Consider summer rain showers as natures sprinklers… and dance in the rain.

Picnic With My Brother

Picnic With My Cousins

6.  Create a Fort.

Sharing Our Fort

Pillows, blankets, cushions and large stuffies enable some cool creations.  Once complete, grab your flashlight for some shadow fun.  Pick out some favorite books and read by flashlight in your new cool hiding place.  Challenge your kids to build a tunnel, multiple entrances and hideaways within the structure.  For added educational fun, consider discussions around the pyramids and ancient castles that were cleverly designed with tunnels, secret spaces and defense in mind.

For more ideas visit Kelly Whalen’s article “25 Frugal Ways To Keep The Kids Busy This Summer” at blog.ableBanking.com.  She includes handy tips like finding free camps, discount museum admission, garden tours and so much more.  Share with us:  What’s your coolest boredom buster?

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