Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Egg Decoration and Play for Easter--Little Monkey-Style

Toddlers and preschoolers can have a blast decorating eggs. And while you can certain go the traditional dyeing route, you might prefer a few less messy options if the kids are going to help. And of course, make sure you hard boil these first. Otherwise, you're in for a MAJOR mess.

Set out a variety of colors of crayons and/or washable markers. You'll want to make sure the eggs aren't wet first; otherwise, the color won't stick. An even "cleaner" option is to put out a pile of stickers or foam stickers (you may need to help them peel to access the adhesive) to stick onto their eggs. Circles, flowers, rabbits or favorite characters will be a hit.

Once you have your beautiful eggs, you can always hide them in the yard (keep it simple to keep their interest). Or, especially with dyed eggs and infants, you can put the eggs back into the carton and help your baby sort them by color. Playing a game of "roll the egg" is another activity to try. Instead of rolling a ball, roll the egg. They're a great size for little hands to grab; plus, the little bit off wobbling action the egg has as it rolls will be entertaining!
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Monday, March 29, 2010

Bowl Without the Alley...or Buying a Set of Pins

Your toddler or preschooler probably loves knocking things over. And you've probably seen (or maybe even have) one of those toy bowling sets. A bit pricey for what it is (in my opinion). However, you can easily make your own, and I bet your set will end up cuter than any you could buy. Plus, this can be an indoor or outdoor game; a great option for a warm spring day!

To make your own bowling set, start collecting empty 2-liter plastic bottles for the pins (to make a full set, you'll need a total of 10). Rinse them out well once the drink is gone. Then you can do any of several things to make up your set of pins. Here are some ideas:
  • Leave the labels on if you like the "ad effect"!
  • Remove the labels and have clear pins.
  • Remove the labels and then have your child add decorations like stickers or foam shapes with adhesive backing.
  • With clear pins, you can even put things inside for added drama (and, if you fill it up enough, an extra challenge for knocking them over). Try colored beads, pom-poms, colored sand, glitter, bells, colored tissue paper (for color and a textured look) and old buttons. Just be sure you the lid is on tightly so you don't have any accidents or give kids access to choking hazards.
Now all you need is a rubber ball to roll at them. Then let the kids have at it!
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Friday, March 26, 2010

FREE Potty Training DVD With Games & Songs

Phew...it's been a LONG week! (Posting had to take a bit of a backseat, unfortunately). Still much more to do this weekend, but somehow it seems better knowing it's the weekend!

We're in the beginning stages of potty training, and I got an e-mail this morning from Huggies about a FREE DVD you can order from them that includes games and songs. Of course, who knows if they really make a difference, but figure we'll see if it inspires some potty time! If you want to give it a shot too, head to the pull-ups.com site.
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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Top Items for Toddler Easter Baskets

Easter baskets are obviously lost on babies. They don't get either the concept or the stuff. Of course, that generally doesn't stop us from giving them one! If you're making one up, you can always include things like board books, a cuddly doll, a package of teething biscuits, a rattle, maybe a new pacifier or bottle. Even just some plastic eggs with Cheerios inside. A had lots of fun with the plastic eggs themselves last year.

Once they're toddlers, even if they don't really "get it," they at least know the basket is filled with fun stuff! Here are some idea of things to include:
  • Hard-boiled eggs, plain or dyed (A loves these and they're better for her than candy eggs!) 
  • Small books
  • A stuffed bunny, duck or chick (maybe one that moves or makes noises)
  • Plastic eggs filled with raisins, Raisinets or Craisins
  • Small bag of fruit snacks
  • Small package of Goldfish crackers
  • A sweet treat (pastel marshmallows or a small piece of chocolate)
  • A page of stickers
What have you included in Easter baskets for your toddlers? Leave a comment to let us know!
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    Sunday, March 21, 2010

    Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's!

    If you and the kiddos need a snack break on Tuesday (celebrating spring could be your excuse), head to Ben & Jerry's for a free cone! (12-8 p.m., Tuesday only). I just wish I knew a time to suggest to go when it might be less crowded...anyone have any tips?
    Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's!SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

    Thursday, March 18, 2010

    Not Your Typical Lullaby Music

    If you're sick of the usual baby lullabies (or you're just a big fan of a rock band), check out these CDs (Rockabye Baby) of rock songs turned into instrumental lullabies. You can hear a sample of each on the site (in fact, if you click on the album, you can hear a sample of each song). I must say, some I heard were quite good; others, not so sure. But see what you think! A few of the artists: U2, The Beatles, Radiohead, Journey, Guns N' Roses, Queen, Nine Inch Nails (quite the variety). $16.98 each.
    Not Your Typical Lullaby MusicSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

    Wednesday, March 17, 2010

    Happy St. Patrick's Day!

    If you missed it, check out this previous post for a fun game to play with your toddler in celebration of St. Patrick's Day.

    What all are you doing to celebrate the day with your kids? Green snacks? Hunting for four-leaf clovers in the back yard? Leave a comment, or if you have a post about your St. Patrick's Day plans, feel free to leave a link.
    Happy St. Patrick's Day!SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

    Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    Morgan's Wonderland: A Special Place for Kids With Special Needs

    You may or may not have heard about Morgan's Wonderland--The World's First Ultra Accessible Family Fun Park. It's a new theme park in San Antonio, Texas, created especially for kids with special needs, taking their needs and wants for fun into account. Of course kids without special needs would enjoy it as well.

    There are TONS of things to do--even for little ones! The Butterfly Playground was designed especially for people with cognitive and physical disabilities. The ramps are even wide enough for two wheelchairs to pass each other (it's a big deal that's there's even a ramp at all!). Swing sets include both traditional and adaptive swings (including wheelchair swings). Sensory Village is made up of themed spaces within a "town." Here kids can shop for groceries, visit an auto/fix-it shop or stable, and more. The goal of this town is to provide imaginative play along with sensory stimulation, which is often key for those with special needs. To further encourage sensory development, there's also a Music Garden with various instruments to play. And don't forget the adaptive racetrack, train, carousel and sand area, complete with diggers for kids who can't get down into the sand themselves. And it doesn't end there; you'll also find a gymnasium, amphitheater, food courts and more. Check out the site for full details.

    Here's what you need to know before you go:
    • Admission: Visitors with special needs and kids 0-3: FREE; persons accompanying someone with special needs: $5; general admission: $15
    • All guests must pre-register (to make the entry process easier)
    • When you arrive, you'll receive special wristbands IDing your group's members (the park is big on safety and security!)
    • For the vision and hearing impaired: Braille signage, 3-D scale models and rest areas for service animals
    • Most areas are shaded and water misters are located throughout the park
    Morgan's Wonderland officially opens on April 10, 2010.
    Morgan's Wonderland: A Special Place for Kids With Special NeedsSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

    Sunday, March 14, 2010

    Target: Printable Coupons for Toys, Games and More!

    Target's website has some great store coupons up right now on kids' toys and games (a mix of items for younger and older kids). Great to use when the products are on sale--and even better when you find a manufacturer coupon to use too! Here's a roundup of what's available:

    • $3 off select Hasbro games
    • $3 off select Disney DVD or Blu-Ray Disc
    • $10 off Schwinn bike
    • $5 off select Lego toys
    • $5 off select Fisher-Price Thomas & Friends items
    • $5 off LeapFrog purchase of $30 or more
    • $5 off Hot Wheels purchase of $25 or more
    Plus, there are coupons for kids' apparel (Circo, Cherokee, Hanes, Gerber), diapers and kids' snacks.
    Target: Printable Coupons for Toys, Games and More!SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

    Friday, March 12, 2010

    Baby Shower at Babies R Us Tomorrow for Expectant Moms (and those they love!)

    If you're expecting, consider going to the Super Baby Shower tomorrow (12-3 p.m.) at Babies R Us locations. Get more details via a link on the Busy Little Monkey facebook fan page. Looks like there'll be savings and giveaways. If you've been in the past, let us know how it was.
    Baby Shower at Babies R Us Tomorrow for Expectant Moms (and those they love!)SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

    WaterWheel Play Table Deal

    I'm determined not to give up on the idea that nice, warm weather is coming soon! Because of that, I've started looking into outdoor play stuff for A. We're finishing up renovating our deck, and between that and the back yard, we have lots of room for fun this spring and summer. In my search, I found a Step2 WaterWheel Play Table for $35 with free shipping, which some of you might be interested in. If you've seen it cheaper (at a store or online with free shipping), let me know. It's definitely the best outdoor toy deal on the Step2 site right now.

    What outdoor toys do your kids love? What do you plan to buy for the summer?
    WaterWheel Play Table DealSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

    Thursday, March 11, 2010

    Code for 20% Off Outlet Prices at Disneyoutlet.com

    If your kids are into Disney characters, check out the Disney outlet online for discounted toys, games and clothes. Right now, you can apply a coupon code for an extra 20% off items. Use promo code OUTLET20. There appear to be some great deals to be had (and don't forget, Baby Einstein products are owned by Disney)!

    Thanks, Common Sense With Money!
    Code for 20% Off Outlet Prices at Disneyoutlet.comSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

    Wednesday, March 10, 2010

    Homemade Scratch-n-Sniff Paintings -- Plus Learning About Fruits

    Remember the water painting I mentioned awhile back? Well, I recently learned you can add a whole new dimension to it! If you mix 1 Tbsp. of Kool-aid in warm water, you can create a "paint" that then turns into a scratch-n-sniff work of art! The kids paint with it (which is obviously no longer clear but whatever color your flavor is), then let it dry for 24 hours. After that, they can scratch and sniff their paintings.

    A potentially even better (or at least more educational) idea is to print out coloring sheets of various fruits and have your child paint each their appropriate color and scent! For instance, you could give them a strawberry to paint in the strawberry flavor, an orange with orange, etc. It teaches them about smell and colors.You can find some fruit page to print here (look in the bottom of the left column to additional pages) or here.

    And don't discount the fun to be had by your little one when he gets to pour in the tablespoon of mix and then stir it up and watch the water change color!
    Homemade Scratch-n-Sniff Paintings -- Plus Learning About FruitsSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

    Monday, March 8, 2010

    Free Easter Basket and Candy With $20 Purchase at Build-A-Bear

    Now through April 4, 2010, you can get a free Easter basket with candy when you spend $20 at Build-A-Bear Workshop. While supplies last and candy may vary by store.

    Thanks, Coupon Cravings!
    Free Easter Basket and Candy With $20 Purchase at Build-A-BearSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

    Edible Fun! Peanut Butter Playdough

    Many young kids have lots of fun squishing and molding Play-Doh, but some even want to eat it. To make that a non-issue, create your own edible playdough!
    Here's what you need:
    • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
    • 1 cup honey (or substitute light corn syrup for kids under 1)
    • 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 1/4 cup powdered milk

    You may want to play with this base recipe to get it the consistency you prefer. Once the kids are done playing, they can use it as a snack. You can also put any leftovers in a sealed container and store in the fridge for later use.
    Edible Fun! Peanut Butter PlaydoughSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

    Thursday, March 4, 2010

    Kids Book Sale at Barnes & Noble This Weekend

    Barnes & Noble is having a kids book sale this weekend (ends Sunday, March 7, 2010): Buy one children's book, get one 50% off. If you purchase via bn.com, use coupon code H4U9M3W at checkout. If you purchase in-store, you can use this coupon.
    Kids Book Sale at Barnes & Noble This WeekendSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

    Finding Gold the Toddler Way

    Get your child in the St. Patrick's Day spirit while helping him learn colors and have fun (and a treat) at the same time. Use chocolate gold coins to represent the pot of gold. Get some rainbow-colored bowls or cups, then set a coin under all or just a few of them (when your child's not looking). Then ask your little leprechaun to pick up or find the blue bowl (or whatever color has a coin beneath). When he chooses the right one, he gets a treat!

    If you'd rather not give your child chocolate, you could always use a golden cookie like a vanilla wafer as your coin (or even Cheerios for mini-coins). And of course you could hide the coins under anything, but the rainbow containers play on the theme of a pot of gold under the rainbow.
    Finding Gold the Toddler WaySocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010

    Baby Alive First for Me Doll $5 Coupon

    For those of you looking for a first baby doll for your little girl, you can print a $5 coupon for the Baby Alive 1st for Me Sips & Cuddles doll. Expires April 15, 2010. This would be especially great if you find it on sale.
    Baby Alive First for Me Doll $5 CouponSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

    Science for Little Ones: Sid the Science Kid

    Have you or your kids seen "Sid the Science Kid"? It's a fairly new (Sept. 2008) kids show on PBS from Jim Henson's production company; it's one of my favorites. It has great science lessons taught in ways little ones can understand and get excited about (I'd say Sid himself is in preschool). For instance, learn about weather, why it's important to brush your teeth, and why pancakes don't always turn out just right. You can then re-create the experiments at home. Plus, I want to go to the school Sid goes to! And have his room. So inviting and fun.

    For a preview of the show and Sid's world, head to pbs.org's Sid page for episodes, games and activities.
    Science for Little Ones: Sid the Science KidSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

    Monday, March 1, 2010

    Homemade Bubbles: Easy, Cheap and Fun!

    The Little Monkey loves bubbles. Now that the weather's thinking about getting warmer, I'm sure we'll be spending lots of time outside blowing them. I've found several variations for making homemade bubbles (generally one of two recipes). Going homemade is cheaper (mostly because you can make in a large amount from household items), and they work better than other "cheap" bubbles you might find. And of course you could double or half the recipe, depending on how much you want to make. Store the mixture in a jug and pour out into a shallow dish when needed. For best results, combine the ingredients the night before (but don't shake or stir them) and let them sit overnight.

    This first recipe uses light corn syrup:

    4 cups water
    1 cup dishwashing soap 
    1/4 cup light corn syrup*

    *You might avoid this recipe if your yard is prone to stinging insects as the sweet corn syrup may attract them.

    The next recipe uses glycerin, which is said to help make the bubbles work better. I've yet to try it, but when I do, I'll let you know what I find. Have any of you used glycerin to make bubbles? What did you think?

    1 gallon water
    2/3 cup dishwashing soap
    2 to 3 tbsp. glycerin*

    *Glycerin can be found at drug stores.

    To go along with your bubbles, use objects from around your house as the bubble "wand." Try cookie cutters, pipe cleaners with shapes formed at the end and metal rings. Of course you can also often find bubble wands at discount or dollar stores.
    Homemade Bubbles: Easy, Cheap and Fun!SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend