Easter Activities!

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Well folks, just like that, the season of pastels, Cadbury eggs, allergies, and that strange Easter basket grass is upon us (is that stuff really necessary? Debatable). My big charge (almost 3) has been out of preschool for the week, so we’ve gotten busy with our Easter prep. Here’s a little snapshot of what we did this week:

Egg dying! A classic Easter activity.¬†We followed this recipe over at Happy Hooligans¬†for marbled eggs. The process was super simple and all it required was vinegar, cooking oil, and food coloring – staple pantry items we already had on hand. She explains the process in more detail on her blog, but here’s the gist:

  1. You start by dropping your eggs in a small cup filled with hot tap water, vinegar, and food coloring – this creates your base color. You can add more drops to adjust your color as needed. This was the only step where I felt I had to watch my charge closely, you want that water to be fairly hot. I gave her a spoon and let her swirl it around a bit.¬†The shells might crack just a tad, but the marbling effect more or less hides it (and life isn’t perfect, eh?).
  2. Let them dry a few minutes on a drying rack.
  3. On to the marbling!¬†Rinse out your cup, and add a little more water (she recommends about 1 inch, but we did a little more than that). Add your second color, you’ll want quite a few¬†drops to¬†make it nice and dark. I gave my charge the bottle food coloring and let her squeeze away. Stir¬†in your oil (1 tsp – I just eyeballed it), drop in your egg, and let your charges watch it take on a gorgeous, swirly pattern.

And voila! We had a blast doing this. The end result was lovely and my charge is pretty stoked about displaying them on the Easter table.

*A note on dying Easter eggs – I highly recommend hard-boiling them beforehand and leaving the shells on. Solves the potential tragedy of your little ones breaking them, and they can be eaten later,¬†so good eggs won’t be going to waste. Some resources suggest poking tiny holes in them and blowing them out. I tried that last year, and my lips were sore for a solid week. Take it from me, you’ll want to hard-boil them instead. Did you know you can hard-boil eggs in the oven? You can! The shells might crack a bit in the hot water, but the marbleized effect more or less hides this. And hey, eggs sometimes crack. That’s life, eh?

Also, here are the Easter-themed ones we picked up from the library:

Bonus: I managed to get both charges involved¬†in a little keepsake for mom and dad.¬†The little¬†charge is 6 months old, so his¬†involvement was mostly passive, but he was a good sport and let me paint his feet like a champ. Since we’ve been reading¬†Peter Rabbit, the big¬†charge and I decided this¬†is Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and Peter.¬†It seemed fitting.

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Here’s a few more ideas I thought looked fun:

See more ideas on our Pinterest board here!

Have a fun Easter Friday with your kiddos!

xo,

Kathryn

St. Patrick’s Day Roundup

I’ve always had a soft spot for Saint Patty’s Day. It’s a quirky little holiday that involves several things I’m fond of, like¬†shamrock shakes, good luck, green, and rainbows. My eldest charge – almost 3 – is just now at the age where she’s beginning to grasp the meanings and traditions behind holidays. She’s a huge bookworm, so I like to¬†use books as the primary vehicle for introducing¬†her to¬†anything new, and supplement with a few simple crafts and learning or sensory activities. Here’s how we’ve celebrated this week:

I made this slime recipe found over at¬†Little Bins for Little Hands (adapted to fit the holiday) and she¬†loved it! It has a jiggly, jello-like consistency, and holds together well. She loved stretching it as far as it would go before breaking apart – it’s quite stretchy! This slime is considered “taste-safe” and compared¬†to most slime recipes, it¬†has pretty tame ingredients – water, food coloring, and ground psyllium husk/metamucil. It certainly should not be considered edible though, and I will¬†say that it took a second attempt for me to perfect the recipe. She¬†loves all things glitter and sparkle, so I tossed it in some gold craft glitter that I had on hand. Here’s how ours looked:

And since we’re all about embracing our imperfections over here, here is my first, failed¬†attempt for your viewing pleasure:

Photo Mar 13, 12 23 41 PM Nope, not quite.

We also made a sun catcher in the shape of a 4-leaf clover. This was more of an on-the-fly, time-filler activity I pulled out while her little brother napped. I find contact paper to be a super versatile craft item and the big charge loves sticking things to it, so I always keep some on hand. I grabbed some old green and gold holiday tissue paper from the closet and let her rip it into tiny pieces Рa great fine motor activity for little fingers. This one also involved glitter, naturally. Once she was finished, I cut the whole thing into the shape of a 4 leaf clover. Easy-peasy.

Also, BOOKS! As I mentioned, both of my charges¬†are little bookworms (and so am I) so we checked out a big stack of books from our local library on St. Patrick’s Day.¬†These 3 were¬†the favorites:

  1. Lucky Tucker by Leslie McGuirk
  2. This is Ireland by Miroslav Sasek
  3. Hooray for St. Patrick’s Day!¬†by Joan Holub

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

xo,

Kathryn

5 Developmental Reasons to Build Blanket Forts with Your Charges (And a Handy-Dandy How-To Guide)

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When thinking up activities to do with my charges, I often think back to the simple things that brought me joy as a child. I don’t know about you, but as a kid,¬†building blanket forts was hands down one of my all-time favorite pastimes. I recall¬†carefully¬†draping blankets and arranging chairs until they were just so, creating¬†a perfect little oasis that was all my own. As an adult and a professional nanny, I’m still quite¬†enthusiastic about my fort-building. With the rainy spring season coming up, you may be stuck indoors for a little while¬†(unless you’re jumping in puddles, which we whole-heartedly¬†encourage). If you’re looking for ways to beat the rainy day blues, let me encourage you to adopt fort-building as a regular rainy day activity. As I’ll explain below, building forts offers your charges so¬†much more than just a few hours of fun.¬†Keep reading to hear¬†why it’s so beneficial¬†developmentally,¬†and see our 5-step guide to help your charges take their fort to the next level.

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5 Reasons Forts Rocks (From a Developmental Standpoint)

  1. It¬†supports development across several¬†domains.¬†It’s a classic engineering and STEM activity.¬†It¬†requires children to think critically, create and execute a plan,¬†¬†practice spatial reasoning, innovate, solve problems, learn through trial and error, and exercise their gross motor skills.
  2. It encourages collaboration. Be it siblings, cousins, or neighborhood playmates, fort-building forces children to work together to get the job done. Teamwork makes the dream work, folks.
  3. It fosters¬†a¬†sense of accomplishment. They’ve constructed¬†something with their own two hands, and been the engineer and architect of their very own building project.
  4. It’s a safe place to retreat and recharge. Education writer David Sobel, M.Ed., suggests¬†children benefit from having a hideaway – a cozy, private space all their own to hunker down and forget the cares of the outside world1. A blanket fort is a perfect opportunity for just that.
  5. It fosters imaginative play. A blanket fort can easily become whatever a child’s imagination can dream up. It might be a¬†princess’s palace, the battle fortress of brave knights¬†fighting dragons, or a tent for explorers¬†of the untamed wilderness¬†(watch¬†out for bears!).¬†The possibilities are truly endless.
    dragon-prince
    He requires a fortress.

How to Help Your Charges Build an Awesome One (In 5 Easy Steps)

Step 1: Gather Materials

  • Pull out old¬†sheets and blankets for the walls of your little ones’ fort. In my experience, lightweight materials like cotton and muslin are your best bet – they won’t weigh things down too much and are breathable, so it won’t get too stuffy inside. Ask your nanny family where they keep the old stuff. You don’t want to be using their 900 thread count Egyptian cotton bed sheets here.
  • Keeping a blanket fort from collapsing is tricky business. Your¬†charges¬†will need fasteners¬†to anchor those blankets down.¬†Clothes pins,¬†binder clips, and chip bag clips will all get the job done and can be found in most homes. I prefer clothes pins as they don’t seem to pinch little fingers quite as often, but if you’re working on the fly, use what you’ve got.
  • Couch cushions are great for flooring, along¬†with quilts, thick blankets, pillows, and sleeping bags. Aim for softness and lots of padding!
  • Add a cardboard box to that materials pile while you’re at it! They’re multifunctional.¬†The kids might¬†need one for a super cool tunnel entryway. You never know.

Step 2: Pick a Base Structure

  • This is what your charges will drape their sheets and blankets over. Tables, beds, sofas, and a collection of chairs are obvious options, but your nanny kids may have an ingenious idea for rigging their fort that you would have never thought of. Give them room to innovate, within reason (the Steinway grand piano in the foyer might not be the best option).¬†Remember, your charges are the architects here, let them choose the structure. You’re just there to tell them what’s off-limits.

Step 3: Assembly

  • Let¬†the building¬†begin! Your¬†only job now¬†is to watch out for safety hazards and make sure¬†everyone is happy with the finished product. If you’re nannying toddlers, this may take several hours. Godspeed.

Step 4: Establish Fort Rules

  • You may want to ask your charges a few questions to get them started. Is there a password? Who’s allowed in? How many toots¬†before someone gets the boot?¬†This is¬†great practice in brainstorming, autonomy, and handwriting if they’re at the right age.¬†Once they get the ball rolling, sit¬†back and thank the nanny gods (goddesses?) you don’t have to make the rules for once. And of course, make sure the rules are hand written and posted on the fort. Intruders¬†need to be made aware!

Step 5: Lighting 

  • Layers of blankets will block¬†a lot of light, so your kiddos will need something to illuminate the place.¬†String¬†lights, flashlights, outdoor lanterns, flameless candles, glow sticks, glow in the dark stars, disco balls. Drag out whatever you can find and let them go wild.

And voila! We have a fort, people. Now¬†crawl in there with your charges and¬†watch the magic happen.¬†And remember that not¬†many people can list¬†hanging out in a blanket fort as one of their job perks, so for heaven’s sake, enjoy every last minute of it. IF¬†you’re allowed in, that is. Refer to fort rules on that one.

Happy Building!

Kathryn

PS –¬†See here and here for cute¬†children’s books on the subject.

PSS – Go here to see our pinterest board for inspiration.


1)Sobel, David.¬†Children’s Special Places: Exploring the Role of Forts, Dens, and Bush Houses in Middle Childhood.¬†Zephyr Press, 1993.