Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ten for Tuesday: Beyond Halloween - Lights, Spirits & Parties from Around the World

Fall might be my favorite time of year - great weather for outdoor play, beautiful colors as leaves change, yummy seasonal fruits and vegetables to enjoy. Plus,Thanksgiving ranks high on my list of holidays. With Halloween upon us (tomorrow!), I thought I would share some other Fall/Autumn holidays/festivals (AKA parties) from around the world. 

Western Europe:

1. St. Martin's Day (Martinstag) - Held on Nov. 11th, this German Holiday feels a lot like a festival of lights, typically including a procession of lanterns. It is holiday that children all over Germany, Austria and many other European countries celebrate. Red Ted Art shares the lanterns they made for this holiday.

2. Guy Fawkes Day/Bonfire Night - I am learning from my friends in the UK that this Nov. 5th holiday is actually quite a big deal and the celebration features fireworks, sparklers and a bonfire. I love that The Imagination Tree created edible sparklers for the occasion. She also shares more details about this holiday, including its history, in this post along with some great fireworks crafts. Cerys of Rainy Day Mum recently shared about Guy Fawkes Day/Bonfire Night at The Educators Spin On it with some great fire painting activities and more.

Asia/South Asia:  

3. Zhongqui (Chinese Moon/Mid-Autumn Festival) - Though already passed this year, I still wanted to share this great Mid-Autumn Festival celebrated this year on Sept. 30th. I think sharing it with kids now, with Pumpkin Patches and Harvest activities in full swing, can underscore for them the importance of the harvest time of year around the world. Carrots Are Orange shared how they celebrated the Moon Festival this year. Kids World Citizen also has a great post about this holiday that provides lots of information about the holiday and some delicious moon cakes.

4. Tsukimi/Otsukimi Festival (Japan) - Two Japanese festivals, typically held around the 15th day of the 8th month and 13th day of the 9th month (mid-Sept. and mid-Oct. in our calendar), this holiday is similar to the Chinese festival in that it also involves honoring the autumn moon. Beautiful seasonal produce is set out as an offering to the moon and decorations and dumplings are made to honor the beauty of the moon.

5. Diwali/Deepaval, the Festival of Lights - one of the most significant holidays of Hinduism also dominated with lights with the lights signifying the dominance of good over evil. This year, celebrations will begin on Nov. 13th and run for 5 days. The Educators' Spin On It shares how her family celebrates as well as many resources for learning more about this beautiful holiday. Putti's World has many posts with activities related to this holiday. This one includes lots of food and crafts for the holiday. Kids World Citizen offers another simple craft for this holiday. Plus, The Golden Gleam shared some great Mandalas her daughter made for Diwali, and the Nurturestore shared Playdough Mandalas. Oh - and Mama Smiles has a great Exploring Geography series that offers many posts about countries around the world, including this post written by Kim from The Educators Spin On It about India with photos and information about Diwali.

6. Chusok (Korean Thanksgiving) - Celebrated this year from Sept. 29-Oct. 1, this holiday is among the top three holidays in Korea. Traditionally, the holiday was a time when people gave thanks to their ancestors for a bountiful harvest and shared their abundance with family. It remains an opportunity for families to come together in a feast (similar to Thanksgiving in the U.S.) and to visit graves and honor their deceased loved ones. Connecting Family and Seoul (formerly Famiglia + Seoul) shared a great Korean cultural basket and book she and her son read and used to get in the spirit for Chusok this year.  

North America/Latin America:

7. Day of the Dead - A holiday celebrated on Nov. 1st in many Latin American countries is a major event where we live in Southern California, with many large public events, parades and activities taking place throughout the weekend. The skull image is most associated with this holiday and Kids World Citizen shares a simple skull craft perfect for this holiday. It is a day to commemorate loved ones who have died. Adventures in Mommydom created a Day of the Dead memory book with her Elementary-aged children. Glittering Muffins Around the World in 12 Dishes: Mexico linky also offers lots of Mexican food recipes and craft ideas/activities.

8. All Saints' Day - Also celebrated on Nov. 1st, this Catholic Holiday honors all saints, known and unknown, and was traditionally a feast day. Hmmm - perhaps you will find yourself feasting on Halloween candy from the night before...though I do not think that is exactly what the Catholic church had in mind.

9. All Souls' Day - While not similar in style of celebration, this holiday, held on Nov. 2nd, is similar in meaning and purpose to Day of the Dead, as it is a Christian Holiday to honor those who are no longer living. I love the way the NurtureStore shared this holiday with her family and why she introduces her children to many holidays from other cultures.

*All Saints Day and All Souls Day are also celebrated in many other areas, especially in Western and Eastern European and the Philippines and in many areas where Catholicism is the primary religion.


10. Yam Festival (Nigeria) - The earliest (relatively) of all of the holidays/festivals included here, as this festival typically takes place in August at the end of the rainy season, I wanted to include it because of the festival being a harvest festival and thus connected to many of the harvest festivities (pumpkin patches, hayrides, etc.) that often take place in the U.S. around this time of year. In Nigeria, yams are the first crop to be harvested and are the most important crop in the region. On festival day, only dishes with yams are served and the day is also marked with parades, folk dances and masquerades. Some yams have been known to weigh in at 150 pounds, making yams similar to pumpkins in terms of their range of size and their significance as a harvest crop. How about the Great Yam, Charlie Brown? For a great Yammy Yam Muffin, click here.

Celebrating and/or learning about holidays around the world offers a fun way for kids to learn about other cultures and to explore geography. It also reminds us (and teaches kids) of the similarities that are shared across cultures. Common themes I noticed were the use of lights in many of the festivals (the Divali, Moon Festival, St. Martins and other lanterns shared reminded me of jack-o-lanterns popping up everywhere right now for Halloween), the significance of honoring loved ones that have passed away was another common theme as is the world-wide tradition of celebrating the harvest and abundance of the Earth with friends and family. 

Also, Crafty Moms Share also recently shared a Halloween around the world post for more on the ways that different geographic areas celebrate similar holidays.

Pinboards to follow for more activities related to these holidays and other global learning and multicultural activities for kids:

Around the World with Kids Pinboard
Collaborative Pinboard: Multicultural Kid Blogs-Raising Global Citizens

Sunday, October 28, 2012

From Recycle Box to Story Box: Halloween Hide & Seek Story Time

A few weeks ago at the library, at the last minute I grabbed a few books from the Halloween display. One of those books was Where is Baby's Pumpkin? by Karen Katz. I made a story box to go with this Lift-The-Flap Book, which is a Hide-and-Seek type of story of the baby going around the house looking for her pumpkin. 

I made it almost completely with items bound for the recycle bin. Wild Thing helped me out with the finishing touches. He LOVES this story box and uses it to retell the story, which is great for early reading/literacy for toddlers and preschoolers.

In the book, Baby looks everywhere for her pumpkin before finding it outside.
She looks under some leaves and finds a black cat (I cut a cat out of a faux leather black fabric scrap). Behind a curtain, she finds a ghost (I made the ghost out of a lollipop with tissue and an old cloth for a cape to match the ghost in the book and used a fabric scrap for the curtain). Inside a closet, she finds some bats (Wild Thing helped to color a file folder to make the closet and put bat stickers inside the closet). Behind the bowls (made from egg cartons), she finds apples (Wild Thing colored the egg carton bowls and put some apple stickers inside the bowls), and under the bed (made from a soap box wrapped in fabric), she finds a hat (we made a hat from egg cartons too).

Wild Thing playing with the ghost.

Wild Thing coloring the bowls.
I loved getting creative with Wild Thing to upcycle recycled materials to make a great Halloween story box! You should make one too!! (P.S. You do not necessarily need the book. Just get creative and make your own Halloween Hide-and-Seek story!) 

Oh - but just in case, here is the book! 

Shared here and was featured!!
Also sharing it at Tuesday Tots and Artsy Play Wednesday!

The Educators' Spin On It
You might also like:

Hush! Storytelling Board
Ten for Tuesday: Storytelling with Puppets


Friday, October 26, 2012

Kids Co-Op: Link-Up & Play -- Featuring Safety Crafts + Baby Play!

These activities stuck out for me from the Co-Op last week because they connected with things we have been making, creating and enjoying at home as well. In addition to fun Fall/Autumn activities and our pumpkin fun for Halloween, we also did some great stuff for Fire Prevention Week and our cardboard fire truck is still a hit, and we recently shared some of our favorite DIY baby play at home items. So, I am sharing two great fire truck/safety posts and a great DIY baby toy that I absolutely LOVE because we love milk jug play too!

Tot School: F is for Firetruck and More from The Educators Spin On It
I really love all of the great tot school ideas for learning about fire trucks and fire safety over at The Educators Spin On It, a blog that I love and recently had an opportunity to guest post on writing about Teaching Children About Hunger, a timely important topic, especially during the holiday season. 

Another of my favorite bloggers, J Daniel Fours Mom has a great Read.Explore.Learn weekly series and she also shared some great fire safety and activities and books that I definitely recommend. 

I am going to have to put this book on our library list.
Her photo reminded me of the fun we had with our cardboard fire truck.

Here is the great Baby Toy from All Our Days! I definitely will be making this for Caterpillar because he loves playing with milk jugs.

How have you been playing?? Link-Up + Play!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

{In Season} - 3 Simple, Fun Fall Sensory Bins for Under 5 Bucks

Recently, we made three perfect sensory bins for the month of October -- and for all three I spent only $5 (total, not each). They have each been a hit and offered unique play and learning opportunities for Wild Thing, who is almost 3, and Caterpillar, who is 15 months.

We created a Fire Sensory bin for Fire Prevention Week earlier this month and shared the bin, fire truck/safety books and a cardboard box fire truck craft.

For Halloween, I made a bin that I call our boo bin, dominated by orange and black and pumpkins because for Wild Thing, Halloween means pumpkins and not much else. He loves all of the pumpkins, the black and orange, and the letters as he is into early spelling/reading right now. The pipe cleaner spider is a fun addition too. I have to be careful with black beans with Caterpillar, but he much prefers playing with paper shreds most of the time - throwing them up in the air amuses him to no end.

Halloween Sensory Bin in Action
For the black beans in the bin, we re-purposed the black beans from our Bee Sensory Bin that we made this Spring. The boys really enjoyed helping me sort out the black beans and sift out the cornmeal from the bin. (Tip: If you see a flour sifter at a yard sale or thrift store, buy it! We love it as a sand toy and for all sorts of other fun play activities). 

The most fun, from a making it perspective, was our Autumn Nature Sensory Bin because Wild Thing helped collect all of the items to put in our bin, even spotting some pine cones when we were waiting at a bus stop the other day (Wild Thing wanted to take the bus for a mini adventure and it was so much fun by the way!!). I found myself climbing over a small wall while wearing Caterpillar to get the pine cones Wild Thing had spotted. :)

We also sometimes add some non-natural Fall elements to the bin to mix it up, including the milk cap pumpkins that we have been having SO MUCH FUN WITH IT.

With the Fall bin, we really have enjoyed exploring the bin through the five senses. We explore the colors of Fall (sight) through the different leaves, the smells of Fall through the pine cones, the feel of Fall (touch) through the textures of the pine cones and comparing the different leaves (freshly fallen are smooth, long-time fallen are stiff), the sound of Fall (hearing) through crunching leaves, and the taste of Fall (taste) through the Spaghetti Squash and seeds play we did in preparation for the bin.

Here is the breakdown of the items I bought to make these three bins:
  • Orange paper shreds (for Fire and Boo bin) - $1 at Target
  • Mini Fire Trucks - $1 at Target (Transportation Domino set in the bargain section - alternatively you could cut out pictures of fire trucks or download and print pictures of fire trucks)
  • Pipe Cleaners (for Fire and Boo bin) - $1 at Target or Dollar Tree (you get so many for $1 and I use them for so much, such as this fun baby play activity with pipe cleaners and a milk jug)  
  • Dried black beans (for Boo bin) - leftover from my bee bin, but probably only 50 cents if I calculated it because most of the beans from the bag I bought for $1 were actually used for meals.
  • Autumn Nature Bin - Almost all items were free from mother nature: leaves, seeds (from a Spaghetti Squash I made for dinner and that offered lots of fun play and experiments that are coming soon to the blog), pine cones, nuts and a mini pumpkin. The mini pumpkin was the only thing I bought for 59 cents at the grocery store. We only have one that switches between the Autumn and Boo bin.
  •  Pumpkin and Leaf Stickers  (Boo and Fall Add-Ons) - came together in a set for $1 at Target.
  • Other Items - Other little things that were in the fire bin were fabric scraps, letters cut out from poster board, red blocks and his toy fire truck. These were all little things we just had at home that I thought were relevant and would fit well in the bin.
I also wanted to share some of my other favorite Fall/Autumn or Halloween bins from around the blogosphere. 

You can have spooky fun with this Halloween Sensory Bin from Here Come the Girls.
The Nurture Store has the cutest Autumn Sensory Tub featuring squirrels!!
I love this Hedgehog Hibernation Exploration Basket from The Imagination Tree that cleverly uses spiky, round seed balls to make the hedgehogs. SO cute! You must check it out.  
For little ones under 2, I recommend The Autumn Toddler Sensory Bin  from Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails, Small Fall Sensory Bin for Baby from Plain Vanilla Mom and the I-Spy Pumpkin Sensory Bag featured at The Golden Gleam.

I shared this post at Saturday Show and Tell hosted by Cheerios and Lattes, The Golden Gleam through her Outdoor Play Party, Crafty Moms Share: Sharing Saturday, Living Life Internationally TGIF Linky Party, the Sunday Showcase, Outdoor Families Fall Activity Link-Up and at the Weekly Kids Co-Op with 150 activities linked up. Also shared at:
Montessori Monday

Featured at Crafty Moms Share: Sharing Saturday and on the Fall Activities Round Up from Sow Sprout

See Where We Were Featured
You can also keep up with Wild Thing, Caterpillar and I on Facebook at The Good Long Road and see all of the sensory bins and other play ideas I am pinning by following me on Pinterest!

You might also like:
I Spy: Backyard Pumpkin Hunt
Fall Bucket List
Earth Day Scent-sory Bin

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What A Survivor Looks Like {Kid Bloggers Go Pink} {Real Life Wednesdays}

Today, I share these photos to celebrate my grandmother's approach to her battle with breast cancer. This post signifies important growth for me regarding my relationship with her. Above, she is with Wild Thing when he was just a few months old and with my brother. Two months later she would pass away, but not from breast cancer. She would be cancer free for almost 20 years--dying from unrelated health problems. She outlived this disease that effects way too many of us. She shared her story with me of losing a breast as I helped bathe her one night when she was too old and frail (because of severe osteoporosis) to bathe herself -- even decades later, I could tell how traumatic the loss was. My genetics mandate that my mother and I get checked, but self-checks, mammograms and education about diet and life choices that increase the risk of getting breast cancer are important for all women, since currently 1 out of 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

This post also reminds me that this what real life looks like sometimes: a frail older woman being comforted by a baby in her lap and by the hand of her grandson, a granddaughter writing late into the night as she learns to let go of pain and honor another, a community of people who have never met in real life connected through machines to spread awareness and help kids begin to understand what cancer is, Small Hands Creating Hope.

We're hosting a Go Pink Blog Hop. This blog hop includes great posts with ideas for how to help kids understand and get involved, including a great book list from The Educators Spin On It. We invite you to share your Pink Themed posts about how you are reaching out into your community or even into your own homes and playgroups to spread the word.

Go Pink Blog Hop, Kid Bloggers Joining Together to Go Pink for Breast Cancer Support

10 Things You Should Know About Breast Cancer
  • One out of eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer… that’s one every three minutes.
  • One woman will die of breast cancer every 13 minutes… nearly 40,000 women each year.
  • Monthly breast self examinations and annual clinical exams and mammograms in women 50 years and older could prevent as many as 30 percent of those deaths.
  • The American Cancer Society recommends women begin annual screening mammograms at age 40. Women should begin breast self examinations as early as in their 20s.
  • Breast cancer death rates have been steadily decreasing due to increased awareness of the importance of early detection and because of improved treatments. Today, there are more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S.
  • Between 5 to 10 percent of breast cancers are linked to inherited genes. Women who have inherited these genes are 80 percent more likely to develop breast cancer. If your family history includes close relatives on either your mother’s or father’s sides who have had breast cancer at an early age, you may wish to seek genetic counseling to learn if you are at higher risk for breast cancer.
  • If your mother, sister or daughter have had breast cancer, your risk for it more than doubles. Genetic counseling and aggressive surveillance/treatment may be recommended by your doctor.
  • More than 85 percent of women diagnosed do not have a family history of breast cancer… that’s why breast self examinations and annual exams and mammograms by your doctor are so important to early detection, treatment and survival.
  • You can reduce your risk of breast cancer with simple lifestyle choices… maintain a healthy weight… exercise regularly, even if it’s just a brisk walk 20 minutes each day… eat healthy foods…. and drink alcohol in moderation.
  • Tobacco use is clearly linked with many kinds of cancers and other diseases, such as cardiovascular disease. If you smoke, consider quitting. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Simple Ideas for Baby Play at Home #3

For my third post in my Baby Play at Home series (a monthly series I stumbled into in August), I am turning my blog over to other wonderful bloggers by sharing their favorite simple baby play activities that you can do with things you (probably) have at home.

I love Mama Smiles - one of my favorite blogs and this simple non-shape sorter box is a great idea, especially for encouraging independent play with your baby. You do not have to have an orange box. You could simply cut holes in any box. She also shares a favorite toy among her kiddos (baby and older kids included): a bottle filled with water and glitter. So clever, I am going to have to try it.

Another favorite blog of mine is NurtureStore, and this post explains, in a very clear and simple manner, how to make a treasure basket for your baby using, again, household items.  While it looks beautiful and you might at first think, whoa-I would have to get so many things, if you read the post you will see you really can do this with what you have. Oh, and if you do not have a basket, I see them all the time at thrift stores for $1, or you could use a cardboard box. Here is more from her on heuristic play for babies or un-toys (i.e. things you have at home).

Have a little one that likes to pull the wipes out of the container? Do you cringe at the loss of wipes? Are you thinking, now I have to drive to the store to get more? Money down the drain? Well, Frugal Fun For (4) Boys has got you covered with the perfect solution and a great baby play idea: fabric wipes in an empty wipe container. All the fun of pulling them out with none of the mess. I also love her idea of putting ping pong balls in a container - lots to see and hear for baby with that activity.

I recently had the pleasure of guest posting at The Educators' Spin On It. The two posts of hers that I am sharing are right up my alley because, if you have read my blog at all, you know that I am all about activities that come out of the recycle bin. (Our recent milk cap pumpkins are a case in point).

Babies love exploring sound, so their simple musical instruments that you can make for baby are a great idea. You just need containers and rice or dried beans. If you did not want to use food items, you have other options. I have seen people use small erasers, pennies, paperclips and pony beads. I also love the idea of creating your own blocks for baby using cereal/cracker boxes and covering them with family photos. Babies love stacking and block play. (We often use different sized containers to stack and experiment with here for Caterpillar.) 

Does your baby have a favorite toy that is actually a household item? I would love to know what it is or find out how you use what is in your recycle bin to get creative for and with your little ones. Share in the comments or at The Good Long Road on Facebook. And for more great baby play ideas, follow this Play {Babies} Collaborative Pinterest started by Tinkerlab.

You might also like:
Simple Ideas for Baby Play at Home #1
Simple Ideas for Baby Play at Home #2

Kids Co-Op: Wild Thing Picks + Link-Up & Play!

This week, I looked through the Kids Co-Op posts from last week on my own, but Wild Thing also climbed into my lap and pointed out which posts he wanted to see. (I absolutely love it when my ever-growing and ever-independent almost 3 year-old snuggles up with me on my lap.)

So, today I am sharing some of his favorites. He actually wanted to look at quite a lot of them, so I picked two from the many, many that he wanted to explore.

From Train Up A Child
We go through lots of milk jugs around here and recently made pumpkins with our orange milk jug caps, so this would be another great upcycle Halloween activity for us.

We have also used paint samples for play a lot, including Mickey Mouse ones before, so I think that is why this next post stuck out for Wild Thing.

From All Our Days

I would love to hear what you think of Wild Thing Picks! (I thought last week was a really great week, so thanks to everyone who linked up and shared and if you have not looked through the link-ups, circle back and do -- it is worth it!) 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Outdoor Play: Pumpkin and Leaves Blog Hop + Free Backyard Pumpkin Hunt

In the spirit of outdoor pumpkin fun, I looked back at photos from our pumpkin patch visit with Wild Thing two years ago, right after he turned 1. It amazes me to think that just two years later, we will head to the pumpkin patch this weekend with an almost 3 year-old and not quite 15 month old. As they say, time flies...
Even though we have not gone to the pumpkin patch yet, we are enjoying some creative, outdoor pumpkin fun in our own backyard and neighborhood that is absolutely free! No money spent, nothing special bought just a simple upcycle of our milk jug tops, which, conveniently, happen to typically be orange!

We are doing pumpkin hunts in our own backyard and on our neighborhood walks. A bonus to hiding these pumpkins and taking them along on walks is that it does not really matter if the pumpkins get lost. (On walks, I hide the pumpkins along the way and Wild Thing finds them on the walk bake home). 

Another bonus is that these simple, homemade jack-o-lanterns offer is reinforcement of shape learning as Wild Thing would tell me if he wanted triangle, square, rectangle or circle eyes and noses. He also likes to match his jack-o-lantern milk caps with the jack-o-lanterns in this book we checked out at the library. 

What pumpkin fun have you been having? Have you been to a pumpkin patch yet? Do you make jack-o-lanterns?

Sharing at: Outdoor Activities Fall Link-Up

This post was featured at The Kids Activities Blog by The Quirky Mommas It*s Playtime Link-Up!
Featured at Lessons Learnt Journal
Also featured here!
You might also like:
 Go Orange Fall Bucket List
Kids Co-Op: Fall Share + Play