6 Simple Ways to Welcome Winter

The following post is by contributor Amy Anderson. It originally appeared in 2010.
Is it already feeling like winter where you are? We have been enjoying some night walks around our neighborhood in the brisk, damp air. I’m enjoying bundling up in my scarf and gloves, followed by something warm to drink on our return.

As of December 21, it is officially be winter. On the winter solstice, the northern hemisphere has its “shortest day” or least amount of sunlight. Traditionally, it is celebrated as the promise of light, warmth and the return of spring.

Here are 6 simple, peaceful ways to welcome winter with your kids. Whether you are hustling and bustling this time of year, or keeping it mellow, I hope you and your kiddos will enjoy a few moments connecting with nature and the changing seasons. [Read more...]

Easy Ways to Surprise and Delight Your Children

The following is by contributor Amy Anderson of Let’s Explore.

My kids love a good surprise – how about yours? Since the baby days of peek-a-boo, I’ve loved finding little ways to add more smiles and giggles to our days.

As often as I can, I look for sweet, memorable, or unexpected things I can do for my kids. I feel like I shine as a parent when I make the everyday things special - these moments fill me up as much as they do for my girls.

So, here are a few ideas I have up my sleeve that I know will both surprise and delight my two girls. They are easy, frugal, and don’t require much more than my time. There are going to be lots of smiles around here!

[Read more...]

Create a Letter-Writing Kit for Kids

The following post is by contributor Amy Anderson of Let”s Explore.

Every day, my daughters excitedly walk to the mailbox and check to see if they received any letters. There is just something special about receiving a hand-written note in the mail. I love it, too!

Writing letters is a wonderful way to maintain connections with family and friends. And, letter-writing provides meaningful reading and writing practice.

To make letter-writing a regular part of our weekly routine, I put together a kit with all the supplies we need. Toddlers and preschoolers can use a kit like this alongside mom or dad, and older kids can develop independence with all the helpers and fun inspiration.

We keep our letter-writing kit in an inexpensive plastic envelope from the office supply store. I added a ribbon handle, just for fun. It”s portable, so the girls can take it to their desks, or we can throw it in the car when we”re heading out on vacation. A basket, caddy, or small suitcase would work as well.

Here is a peek at all the goodies in our letter-writing kit: [Read more...]

Creative Pretend Play Props and Ideas

The following post is by contributor Amy Anderson of Let’s Explore.

Pretend play is an important part of a young child’s life. Trying out different roles, replaying experiences, practicing social skills, and trying out new vocabulary are just some of the many benefits of imaginative play.

Creating an environment that supports pretend play is easy – kids just need some space to play, unstructured blocks of time, and a few simple props.

We usually do a combination of gathering things from around the house and creating our own props for pretend play. Making your own pretend play props is a great way to extend the playtime, involve older siblings, and incorporate real-life literacy and math skills. Keep your play props together by theme in plastic bags or bins and rotate them to keep things fresh and interesting.

I’m sure you have played your fair share of restaurant, house, and doctor. Here are three more pretend play ideas to add to your repertoire. Happy pretending! [Read more...]

Nature Collections: Simple Ways to Store and Display

The following is by contributor Amy Anderson of Let’s Explore.

My youngest daughter is a collector and a saver. Her favorite thing to do is head outside with a bucket and gather acorns, rocks, leaves, and sticks. We come back from any walk or trip to the park with full pockets.

I have dreams of shadow box frames and other beautiful displays, but for now we have a few simple systems in place for storing and displaying all the nature goodies my two girls collect.

Keep it outside…

As much as I love pine cones, acorns, sticks, and leaves, I do not want my entire house filled with them. Since my girls do a lot of collecting, I like to have plentiful outdoor storage containers.

[Read more...]