Alphabet Crafts - Letter D

Yesterday my four year old and I had some fun with the letter D. We made a Dog puppet, and we did a little letter D printing practice.



To make the dog puppet:

1) First, fold a sheet of paper into thirds, and then fold it into an accordion. {Per below.} Note: You can tape the edges together after the first fold for a neater look, but it isn't necessary.

2) Cut out two black doggy ears and a black circle (snout), and glue into place.

3) Use glue to attach the doggy's eyes and nose.





That's it! Cute, right?  Stick your thumb in the bottom section and your fingers in the top section, and your puppy is ready perform.

After our craft, we did a little printing practice. If you want to practice printing the letter D with your little one, you can right-click on the picture below, save it to your computer, and print it.


If you are interested in more "letter d" crafts, check out this darling dog made from a letter d. Draw or use your computer to make a "D" on a piece of paper. Color the "D", and then use glue to attach an paper ear, a paper collar, a googly eye, and a button nose. 


A duck puppet is another simple option. Start with a half circle of card stock, glue on a head, beak, googly eyes, and feather. Then, tape a craft stick to the back. Cute, right?


You can also use stickers to decorate a letter "D". It doesn't get much easier than this simple craft, and kids love stickers!


Fun, right? Next up... the letter "E"! :-)


Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)


Find more alphabet crafts here.


10 Reasons my House is Messy {and I don't mind}

I grew up in a house that was never messy.  My sweet mom literally vacuums her way out of the house each day (True story.) She is an immaculate house keeper... and I am not.  I do my best, but I have learned to not stress out over a messy house.  Today I am sharing 10 reasons my house messy... and I don't mind.  Can you relate???



1)  My children are incapable of eating over a plate.  The war against Cheerios and toast crumbs is not one I can win.

2)  Teeth brushing involves out-of-control tooth paste spatter.  Our sink is large, but seems to be a target that no one can hit.

3)  Building forts requires a lot of blankets, all the cushions off the couch, and a general state of chaos in the living room.

4)  Someone is always hungry and looking for a meal or snack.  A spotless kitchen before bedtime is a pipe dream.

5)  Crafting and being creative is a messy (and necessary) part of childhood.

6)  We have too many books, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

7)  LEGO is hard to contain.

8)  Laundry is never ending.

9)  Kids are only little once.  There will be time to clean when my children no longer want to play with me.

10) Snuggling up to read a story is more fun (and more important) than a spotless house.

Some days I wish my house was perfectly clean and tidy, but for now, I think I'll just enjoy the finger prints on my windows.  I know some day they won't be there, and I'll miss them.


Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Alphabet Crafts - Letter C

Yesterday my four year old and I had some fun with the letter C. We baked Cupcakes, made a Caterpillar craft, and did a little letter C printing practice.


We started with a simple caterpillar craft.  
1)  We used a circle punch to cut 5 green circles and one red circle from cardstock.
2)  My four year old used glue to attach two googly eyes, a pom pom nose, and two strips of yellow paper antennae.  He also drew a mouth with a black marker.
3)  We finished the craft by using paper fasteners to attach the circles together.

After our craft, we did a little printing practice. If you want to practice printing the letter C with your little one, you can right-click on the picture below, save it to your computer, and print it.




We ended the day with a snack... because "C" is for cupcake.  Fun, right? 



If you are looking for more letter C craft options, you could try making this adorable letter C cat. Have the child color a letter C, add some construction paper ears and a tail, glue on googly eyes, draw a nose and mouth, and glue on yarn whiskers. 



Filling a letter C with Cheerios is another simple activity.



Or, you could use some colorful circles and a picture to make this adorable caterpillar. I love this one, don't you?



Next up... the letter "D"!


Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)


Find more alphabet crafts here.


The Ultimate DIY Harry Potter Party

In November, my oldest son turned 8, and he requested a Harry Potter theme for his birthday party.  I immediately starting planning all the fun DIY details, and today I am thrilled to (finally) share The Ultimate DIY Harry Potter Party with you.


I set the tone for the party by designing a super cute invitation. The invitation was written like an acceptance letters to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  {You can find a full tutorial for the invitation here.}


The decor of the party also helped to set the mood.  The entrance to the party room was my absolute favorite DIY element.  I think it made a huge impact on the guests.  {You can find the tutorial for all of the DIY signage here.}


After passing through the brick wall (Platform 9 3/4), each child had their forehead marked with a red lightening bolt.  Then, they were directed toward a table where they colored a Harry Potter Tie that they could wear.  {You can find the free printable Harry Potter Ties and Glasses here.}


It was then time to go shopping for robes and glasses at Madam Malkin's robe shop.  (I was able to purchase vampire capes on clearance after Halloween.)


The shopping trip continued with a trip to Ollivander's wand shop where the children were able to choose their own wands.  {You can find the tutorial for the Harry Potter Wands I made from wooden dowels here.}


Then, we took a break for some lunch and cake.  {You can find tutorials for our two easy-to-make cakes here.}


After the cake, the kids received spell books and quills for their Charms/Spells class.  {You can find the free printable spell books here.}


Then, it was time for some Harry Potter Games.  We practiced our spells, played freeze dance, played pin the scar on Harry, tried a bean bag toss, and destroyed a pinata.  {You can find all the details of the games we played here.}


And finally, when the party was over, the guests were invited to "go shopping" at Honeydukes Sweet Shop for their loot bags.  {You can find out how to put together your own version of Honeydukes Sweet Shop here.}


I loved all the easy and inexpensive DIY elements of this party, and my sweet birthday boy was thrilled with how it all turned out.  Do you know someone who would enjoy a Harry Potter party?

♥ 
Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

5 Fun Snow Day Activities

We have had a number of "snow days" this winter, and some are more fun than others.  Today was fantastic because the snow was good, and the temperature was moderate... so I thought it was the perfect day to share our 5 favorite snow day activities.


1)  Build a silly snowman - My boys loved building this upside down snowman.  How cute are his rubber boots?



2)  Go sledding - Is there anything more fun than speeding down a hill on a sled with your brothers?  My boys don't think so.


3)  Drink hot chocolate with marshmallows - After a morning outside in the snow, my boys love to warm up with hot chocolate and marshmallows.


4)  Build a fort - When the boys need a break from playing outside, a pile of blankets and pillows can keep them entertained for hours.  Today our fort was a space ship, a secret spy hideout, and the Olympic village.


5)  Make snow ice cream - Snow ice cream is our favorite "snow day" snack, and today I let the boys add a few treats to it.  You can find the recipe for snow ice cream here... or check out our YouTube video here.


Don't you just love a good snow day?  My boys are now cuddled up on the couch watching a movie... and I am ready for a nap!  :-)

♥ 
Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Alphabet Crafts - Letter B

Yesterday my four year old and I had some fun with the letter B. We Baked Banana Bread, we made Bunny ears, and we did a little letter B printing practice.


To make the bunny ears like ours, cut two 2-inch strips from cardstock and tape them together to form a headband.  Then, have your child color and cut out the ears.  You can also glue cotton onto the ears and band if you want to spend a little more time on this craft.  {You can download the template for the bunny ears here.}  

After our craft, we did a little printing practice.  If you want to practice printing the letter B with your little one, you can right-click on the picture below, save it to your computer, and print it.



Then, when we were hungry from all the crafting and printing, we baked a little snack.  You can find my mom's {no fail} banana bread recipe here.  It's one of my favorite things to bake with my little guy.  He loves mashing the bananas and stirring in the chocolate chips.


For another adorable letter B craft, you could try this sweet "letter B" bear craft. Start with a letter B, and add some fun details and google eyes.



Or little ones could decorate a letter B with crayons and stickers. Peeling stickers and placing them on paper is a wonderful exercise for working on fine motor skills.



Fun, right?  Next up... the letter "C"!  :-)

 
Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)


Find more alphabet crafts here.


Harry Potter Party Games

Today I am sharing another one of the fun elements of my son's Harry Potter party... the DIY Harry Potter Party Games.  With 20 little guests, it was important to make sure there were plenty of great games to keep the little ones entertained.


We played 6 games.

1) Charms and spells class - I pretended to teach a class using the spell books and quills I made for the guests.  The children loved practicing the spells and trying them out on each other.  {You can download the spell book I created here.}


2)  Howarts Freeze dance - We played freeze dance using some spells from Harry Potter.  We used Tarantallegra to make legs dance uncontrollably and Petrificus Totalus to make the kids freeze like a soldier.

3)  Pin the Scar on Harry - I drew Harry Potter on a piece of bristol board and gave every child a scar to place on his head. 


4)  Bean Bag Toss - I made a simple beanbag toss using an old cardboard box.  {You can download a template of the head a drew here.}


5)  Wingardium Leviosa - The kids used the wands I made for them to try balloons in the air.

6)  Piñata - I made a simple piñata using a balloon and some paper mache.  Then, I drew a simple owl on it using a sharpie.  Easy peasy!


All the guest had fun with our Harry Potter games, and they were all easy and inexpensive to put together. It doesn't get much better than that!


Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Alphabet Crafts - Letter A

Today my 4 year old and I started a fun alphabet adventure, and I am hoping you will play along with us.  Before my "baby" starts school in September, we are going to do a craft or activity for each letter.  We started with the letter "A" and made an adorable apple craft.



We started with a red paper plate, and we added a stem and a leaf.  Then, I cut a "worm hole" in the plate, and drew a little face on his finger.  He loved sticking the "worm" through the apple.

We also did a little printing practice.  You can right-click on the picture below, save it to your computer, and print it for your little one.


Are you interested in more letter A crafts?


You could try a ripped paper apple, which is made by ripping paper and gluing it to a card stock circle.


A letter A alligator is also cute. Start with a letter A, turn the A on it's side, and glue on eyes and teeth.


You could also decorate a letter A with crayons, markers or stickers. It's a simple way to work on letter recognition and fine motor skills.


These are all fun ways to learn about the letter A, don't you think?

Stay tuned!  The letter "B" will be coming soon.  :-)

♥ 
Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)


Find more alphabet crafts here


Celebrating the Olympics {with kids}

Our family has really been enjoying the Olympics in Sochi, and today I am sharing 3 simple Olympic crafts that will help you celebrate the games with your kids.  I am also sharing a few ideas for fun Olympic treats. 



When it comes to Olympic crafts, it's all about the torch, the Olympic flag, and the medals.  Turn an empty paper towel roll into an Olympic torch by wrapping it in tin foil and adding some red and orange tissue paper flames.  


Or... cut some circles from cardstock, colour the circles, and add some ribbon or string to create adorable gold, silver and bronze medals. 


And finally... grab a piece of card stock, markers, and a craft stick to create a simple Olympic flag.  


Themed snacks are the perfect companion to any crafting sessions, and the Olympics provide the perfect snacking inspiration.  Try baking cupcakes in ice cream cones and adding fruit roll-up flames to create edible Olympic torches.  Cakes or cupcakes decorated with the Olympic rings are also fun options.  (You can find the instructions for this adorable Olympic cake here.)


As the games draw to a close, I am reflecting on all the valuable lessons that children can learn from watching athletic competitions.  The Olympics, as a worldwide competition, provide a unique opportunity to teach children about diversity, other countries, and different cultures.  The games also give parents a chance to nurture their children's sense of national pride and community.

I love that my boys are being exposed to new sports, the rewards of hard work, and the inevitable fact that sometimes people (even great athletes) don't always win.  We are watching the events together, as a family, and we have had some great discussions about these things.


I hope you enjoy some of these easy Olympic crafts and snacks with your family as you continue to celebrate the games.  I know our family will continue to watch and cheer, and I hope my boys learn some lessons about the importance of being active, the value of teamwork, and the grace that comes from exhibiting good sportsmanship.  GO CANADA GO!

♥ 
Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)
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