10 Fantastic Crafts and Activities for GRANDPARENTS to do with their Grandchildren

I have a lot of wonderful grandmothers that follow my blog. They are always telling me about how my blog inspires them to engage and make wonderful memories with their grandchildren. Grandparents really are a special gift, so today I thought I would write a post just for them! Here are 10 of my favourite easy and inexpensive crafts and activities that are perfect for grandmothers and grandfathers to do with their grandchildren.

For an activity to be "grandparent friendly", it needs to be simple, it has to be fun and you should be able to do it with a small number of materials. All 10 of these crafts and activities fit this criteria, and they are sure to delight children of all ages.

1) Make a Skittles Rainbow - This is a super-EASY activity, and kids love it. You literally just pour water onto a plate and watch a rainbow appear. Find the simple instructions for making a skittles rainbow here

You can find additional ideas for science experiments here.

2) Craft Drums from Tin Cans - This idea is awesome because it is a craft AND a toy. To make this one, you just need some cans from the recycling bin, a few dollar store supplies, and the instructions for making drums from tin cans that you can find here

3) Paint Fairy Houses - Crafts that capture the magic of childhood are always wonderful... and who doesn't love fairies? Turning dollar store bird houses into fairy habitats is easy with the instructions you can find here

4) Make Birdfeeders - Kids will love making simple birdfeeders and hanging them in the trees for their feathered friends. The simple instructions for making three different kinds of birdfeeders can be found here.

5) Paint Rocks - Kids love collecting rocks, and painting rocks turns plain rocks into treasured keepsakes. You can find the instructions for painting rocks here

6) Have a Teddy Bear Picnic - Picnics are always fun, but a teddy bear picnic is extra special. When packing your picnic basket, you are going to want to make delicious and adorable teddy bear cookies using the recipe you can find here.

7) Grow Grass-haired Friends - Planting something and watching it grow is easy and educational... and these adorable grass-haired friends are fun to make and totally adorable. You can find the instructions for making grass-haired friends here. 

8) Paint Jersey Wall Art - Kids that are into sports will love painting personalized "jerseys" for their rooms. You can find the simple "how to" for this jersey canvases here

9) Bake Something - Baking with kids is a good way to spend time together making memories... and it teaches them an important life skill. Brownie pops are simple and fun to make with kids, and they totally delicious. Find out how easy it is to make brownie pops (from a mix) here.

10) Celebrate the Holidays - Making crafts and engaging in activities with kids is always fantastic... but it is even more special during holidays. You can find all my favourite holiday crafts and activities here.

My blog is full of many more ideas for fantastic crafts and activities for families, but these 10 should get you started. Don't forget to follow me on Facebook (here) so that you don't miss out on my latest ideas, projects, and adventures.

 (aka East Coast Mommy)

PS - If you have preschool aged grandchildren, you might want to check out the hundreds of ideas here.

Puppy Puppet Loot Bag

Who doesn't love an easy, inexpensive, and unique loot bag / party favour? I am so excited to share this fun puppy puppet kit idea with you today. I got the idea from my 12 year old son who started his own business selling these for $6 (with $1 going to charity). The "jar" packaging makes it the perfect party takeaway!

Each jar contains everything necessary to make an adorable sock puppet: 

  • a sock (with a piece of cardstock inside to make the puppet stiff and easy to use... and to prevent the sock from sticking together when the pieces are glued on)
  • a pom pom for the nose
  • brown felt ears
  • red felt tongue

Then, you print a cute tag like the one below, and attach it to jar with some twine.

Here is an example of the ones my son assembled and sold. Cute, right?

Then, to make it a loot bag, you can just attach another festive tag that says, "Thanks for coming to my party!"

Isn't this a unique and fun loot bag / goodie bag idea? I love a good, old fashioned craft, and every kid should make at least one sock puppet during his/ her lifetime, don't you think?

 (aka East Coast Mommy)

PS - You can find MANY more easy and inexpensive party favor ideas here.

Advice for NEW and NEWish hockey moms {from a mom that has been there}

As a mom who has had kids in hockey for several years now, I have learned a lot of things. Now that my boys are heading into Bantam, PeeWee and Atom, I realize that there are a few things (that I know now) that I wish I had known when my boys were starting out. Today I am sharing my best advice for NEW and NEWish hockey moms.

1) All children develop at different rates... and being a star when you are 6 is not a sign that you should get ready for the draft. Encourage your son/daughter to work hard, do their best and be a good teammate. Odds are that your child will not be going to the NHL, so have fun and enjoy the ride.

2) Your child can carry or wheel their own hockey bag in Novice... and they should.

3) Success should not be measured by the number of goals scored. Don't ask your child, "How many goals did you score?" every time they get off the ice. Kids that aren't scoring goals are deflated by this question, and scoring goals isn't the only thing that matters. Great hockey players block shots, get assists, and make good passes. 

4) Winning isn't everything. Kids learn a lot of great life lessons from losing.

5) Coaches give a lot to our kids (and volunteer a lot of time), so respect them and let them do their job.

6) Learning to be part of a team is invaluable. A child that learns to work well with others grows up to be a kinder, more employable adult.

7) Everyone will have more fun if parents are supportive of ALL the kids... including the kids playing on the other team. Please don't yell out negative things about someone else's child.

8) The other hockey parents will become your family... and they are awesome!

9) Enjoy this time watching your young hockey player learn, grow, and have fun playing a game he/she loves. The time passes quickly... and your hockey player will be hanging up his/her skates before you know it.

Do you have a child in a higher level of hockey or are you just starting out? Do you have any advice you would add to my list?

 (aka East Coast Mommy)

**** If you are a hockey mom or dad, you might also be interested in:

                          Simple shared hockey bedroom

First Day of School 2018... it's all about continuing our back to school traditions

There is something very comforting about traditions, don't you think? Knowing what to expect, and having things "the same" is a wonderful way to reduce anxiety on the first day of school. I also believe that traditions provide the foundation for lasting childhood memories. Today, my three boys went back to school (grades 4, 6 & 8), and we continued all our simple first day of school traditions. Here is how our morning went...

As always, we started our day with a special breakfast. I made (not perfect but still fun) pancakes in the shape of the kids' grades, and they all drank milk from wine glasses.

Then (like all annoying parents do), I subjected the kids to a few first day of school pictures. My favourite pictures are the ones I take of the kids holding a picture from the first day of school the previous year. I love this tradition, and it is fun to see how the kids change from year to year.

The younger boys also took a little gift for their teachers and small treats for their new classmates. This year, they are took crayon vases full of chocolate bars (with "First Day of School Survival Kit" tags), pencils, and packs of gum.

My boys are currently safely at school, and I am now at home with my messy kitchen, piles of laundry, stacks of paperwork, and calendar full of after school activities and freelance work deadlines. It's tough to say goodbye to summer. 😢

I can't wait for my boys to get home from school so we can share a special after-school snack and chat about their first day of school adventures.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Back to School Organizing Ideas

With the arrival of a new school year, I always feel the need to get organized, don't you? There is something fantastic about  making the chaos of "back to school" a little less chaotic. Today, I am sharing a few of my favourite back to school organizing ideas. They are easy, inexpensive, and guaranteed to bring a little order to your home.

*Note: This post contains a few affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase using one of these links, I will get a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

Use clear shoe racks - Clear shoe racks are perfect for organizing because they utilize the unused space behind a door, and the clear pockets make it easy for kids and adults to easily find the item they are looking for. You can use them for school / homework supplies, water bottles / school lunch containers, and clothing (hats, mitts, socks, underwear, etc...).

Create a homework area - An organized space to do homework is important, and what could be cuter than making your own colourful pencil holder for all your homework supplies? Simply cover a dollar store pencil holder with crayons using a glue gun. You can find the full tutorial here.

Organize the kids' clothes - Back to school is the perfect time to organize clothes. First, get rid of everything that is out of season or doesn't fit. Then, fold everything like the picture below... clothing folded into thirds and placed in the drawer so everything can be viewed at a glance. It is life-changing. The kids will no longer have to dig through their drawer to find their favourite t-shirt!

Label everything - You work hard to get kids the things they need, so don't let them lose all their clothes and school supplies. I label everything... and I can't tell you how many items (including expensive hoodies and jackets) that have found their way back home. You can check out the labels I order here.

Stock the pantry - Make snacks accessible and minimize the time needed to make lunches by stocking and organizing the pantry. Save time and money by buying in bulk, getting rid of boxes, and storing snacks in easy to access containers.

Get the backpack off the floor - If you don't have a mudroom full of lockers, you can still easily create a space for backpacks. Using hooks to get them off the floor is key. We have door hooks that can support the weight of backpacks full of books. When the backpacks come home, sort through them, do the homework, and then hang them up on the hooks. They will be ready to grab on the way out the door the following day.

Create a space for artwork - All parents struggle with all the artwork that comes home from school. The key is to not let it pile up. When it comes home, display it proudly. (We use decorated clipboards to allow the artwork to be changed easily and frequently.) Then, when new masterpieces come home, get rid of the old stuff. Special pieces can be saved, but the rest should go in the recycling bin.

Aren't these back to school organizing ideas great? How do you organize your home for a new school year? The shoe rack is key for us, but all these ideas help us control the chaos. Please share your best tips and tricks in the comments. We are always looking for new ideas.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

First Day of School Class Treats

The first day of school is a big deal for kids, and it is an occasion that deserves to be celebrated. For this reason, I have always loved sending my boys back to school with treats for their teachers and classmates. Today, I am sharing some of our favourite ideas for first day of school class treats (for both classmates and teachers).

When it comes to treats for classmates, I like to find something that is simple and inexpensive. Then, I "up" the cute factor by adding a funny tag. Here are some of the trinkets and treats my boys' have shared:

Dollar store glasses - These colourful classes are super-cute, and I love the "I am really LOOKING forward to having you in my class!" tag that you can download for free here

Colourful pencils, pens, or markers - Something bright and cheerful to write with makes a practical first day of school treat. Just attach it to the "Let's start the year off WRITE!" tag that you can download for free here

"excel" gum - Gum is a great treat for older children to share with their friends. I love the idea of attaching a punny note that says, "We are going to have an 'EXCEL'lent year!" You can download the gift tags I designed (for free) here.  

Cookies - If school nutrition policies are not a concern, these packages of peanut-free cookies make a sweet treat. You can make it extra special by stapling "Happy first day of school to one smart COOKIE!!" tags to the tops of the bags. Get your FREE printable tags here

Goldfish - Little bags of crackers are inexpensive and easy to share, and they become a fun treat if you add a cute "o-FISH-ally wishing you a fantastic first day of school!" tag that you can download for free here.

LEGO crayons - Recycle last year's broken crayons, and make a unique gift to share with classmates. It's a great way for kids to "BUILD" new friendships. Read more here

Don't forget to bring a first day of school gift for the teacher too. Here are a couple of inexpensive gifts that my boys' have shared:

First day of school survival kit - Fill a fun container with chocolate, advil, coffee gift cards, hand sanitizer, etc... It's a cute gift that is useful too! Download the free printable tags here

Handmade pencil holder - I love the idea of a child crafting a gift for their teacher. You can give it on its own, or you can fill it with chocolate or markers. You can find the instructions for making this cute gift here.

You can download "A SWEET treat for a SWEET teacher!" tags here.

And, you can download, "MARK my words, we are going to have a great year!" tags here.

Sharing inexpensive treats on the first day of school is a wonderful way to start a new. Happy "back to school" everyone!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)