Thursday, September 30, 2010

Customize a Coloring Book

Little kids love to color (as evidenced by the scribbles on your walls). To help keep their creativity on paper, give them pictures that capture their interests. With all the coloring pages available online, it's easy to create the perfect, customized coloring book for your little one. Go with one whole theme (for instance, ABCs, or mix it up with some Little Mermaid, favorite animals and some shapes. Check out these links for some popular options for toddlers and preschoolers: 
You have several options for putting the coloring book together.Whichever option you take, start by printing out 20 pages or so, which gives your child options to choose from (sometimes they want that perfect subject to color!).
  1. Punch three holes along the left side and put into a paper folder with brads. This makes for a book feel but with flexibility so it's easy to put into your bag (great for restaurants and waiting rooms). You can also have your child decorate the outside with stickers.
  2. If you want durability, stick the pages into plastic sleeves in a 1/2-inch binder. This gives the option of either taking the pages out and coloring with crayons, OR leave them in the sleeves and color with dry-erase markers! 
  3. Punch three holes along the left side of the pages. Then add a construction-paper front and back; pull pieces of yarn through each hole and tie. 
  4. Of course, the simplest route is just to staple them all together along the left side. Maybe add a blank "cover" your child can decorate.
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fun at a Discount: Family Deal Sites

We're always looking for good deals on things to do with the little ones. Lately I've gotten into using various discount sites, and we've found some great deals on food and activities (at least 50% off). For instance, we got half-price tickets to the children's museum (saving those for a cold winter day!). So far, I've come across two sites specifically geared toward families:

Mamapedia Sweet Deal - includes deals for the following cities: Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, L.A., Miami, New York, Phoenix, Portland, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle and St. Louis. When you make a purchase, 5% of it goes to the school or preschool of your choice.

Famgrab (click at the top to change the city) - includes deals for the following cities (all in the South): Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Louisville, Miami, Nashville, Orlando, Raleigh-Durham, San Antonio, St. Louis and Tampa. With Famgrab, 10% of the site's profits go to a different charity each month.

Each site has a different deal each day; if a certain number of deals are not sold (but you buy one), your credit card is not charged but the deal is also defunct. This seems to rarely happen. Usually there's plenty of interest in a deal--especially if it's a good one!

  • Be sure to check on the expiration dates. Sometimes you know you won't make it to a certain location before your discount expires. 
  • Sign up to receive the daily deals in your e-mail. That way, you don't have to remember to check the site.
  • If you find a deal you like, buy it! Remember, it won't last past the day and it may not last that long if it sells out first (many of the deals on these sites don't have a maximum number of deals, but it never hurts to be sure you have yours).
  • Always carefully read all of the details to a deal. Some may have restrictions you can't work with. (However, generally, they're easy to use.)
  • Keep other cities' sites in mind for when you'll be traveling. Then you can buy before you go as they come up and enjoy the discount when you're on vacation!
Know of any other family-deal sites?
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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Build a Bear...or Not...for Fun

The weather has been unbearably hot, and recently we were looking for something inside to do--but we had to get out of the house. At the time, Build-A-Bear Workshop was having a good sale, so we headed to the mall for a bear-making session. Figured it'd be a treat for A, and with the sale, it wouldn't be too costly.

Once we got there, A was definitely more into the accessories than the actual animals. We looked at each animal option, and while she got excited about a couple for a few seconds, overall she just wanted to check the place out. We even tried to talk her into choosing one (which isn't normal for us!), but she was just enjoying the experience. So we watched a few being made, checked out the clothes, and pretended to talk on a cell phone or two, and off we went. Money still in our pockets. So needless to say, if you, too, have a 2 year old, you might consider heading to Build-A-Bear just for the atmosphere! If the child's any older, you'll probably have to buy something. ;) So if you want to make a purchase, print this $5 off $25 purchase coupon on for some savings. Just choose the "gifts" category to access the coupon.
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Monday, September 20, 2010

Animal Magazine Made for Little Kids

Most little kids love animals--acting like them (as in my little monkey!) and learning about them. I just discovered a magazine just for little ones on that topic. National Geographic Little Kids is targeted to kids ages 3 to 6. I haven't yet seen an actual copy, so I can't say what the content is like, but they do have a website also for that age group (and with a mag subscription link, of course). It has various animal-themed activities such as interactive games (connect the dots, puzzles, etc.), masks to print out, coloring pages and science experiments (though the experiments aren't animal themed!).

If I have a chance to get to the newsstand and check an issue out, I'll post a review.
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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Recordable Storybooks

Hallmark now offers recordable storybooks. I'm interested to try them out. It looks like you just record yourself (or whoever--could even be your child) reading the story, and once you're happy with your recording, you can save it so it won't be deleted (even with a battery change). There are 12 different books to choose from, including some for the holidays. This could be a great keepsake for years to come, whether for your children or your grandchildren. They'll love being able to hear your voice whenever they like! Check out the website for ideas on how to use them and which stores have the books available for purchase ($29.95 each).

Here's a list of the books available:
All the Ways I Love You
Bright & Beautiful
Frosty the Snowman
Hey Diddle, Diddle
I Love You, Grandma
My Grandpa & Me
My Little Princess
The Night Before Christmas
Thank You, God, For Everything
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
The Very First Christmas
We're Not Scared of Anything

If you've purchased one and used it, let us know what you think!
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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Thomas Fun at Toys R Us

If your kids love Thomas the Train, you might want to head to Toys R Us this Saturday (September 11, 2010). Stores are having a Thomas Play Date from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. with giveaways, story time and coloring activities.
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