Last Day of School

Today was the last day of Grade Primary for my oldest son.  Where did the year go? 

I have seen a number of "Welcome Summer" banners around the blogosphere, so I thought I would adapt the idea and make a "Grade Primary Finish Line" banner{So much fun!}

My son was sad to say goodbye to his very first teacher, but excited to run through his banner and head out for ice cream. Now we are all ready for the carefree days of summer! :-)

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)  

End of Year Presents

I have always thought it was important for my boys to give little presents to their classmates and teachers at the end of a school year.  I think it helps them learn that it "feels good" to give.  Here is what we did this year:

1)  My three year old made some adorable "Have a Ball This Summer" treats for his preschool class.  I printed some labels, bought some balls from the dollar store, and voila... a super cute gift for his little friends!

2)  For his Preschool teachers, my three year old added a special touch to his gift by making super cute personalized tote bags. He drew the pictures and printed the names with a sharpie, and I stitched over it in black embroidery thread. He was super proud of his creations!

My five year old made one for his teacher too.  

3)  My five year loves to bake, so for his Grade Primary class, we made some cookies for the "Smart Cookies" that just completed their first year of "big school".  We packaged them up individually with a cute little label... have a look at how they turned out.


Are these sweet little treats for kids to share with the friends and teachers on the last day of school? Which one is your favourite?

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

You might also like these adorable last day of school treats.

DIY Monkey Themed First Birthday

My oldest son is about to finish Grade Primary, and today I was thinking about his first birthday {which I loved!}.  I hosted the party before I had the blog, so today, I am sharing the fun elements of his {simple} Monkey themed first birthday party.

The color scheme was yellow... and we decorated with things that were "Monkey" related.

I made monkey bibs for the guests, and the snacks were "baby-friendly" (bananas, Cheerios, and Mum Mum crackers).

I made a simple monkey cake... a round cake and two cupcake ears.  No special cake decorating skills required, and the guest of honor loved it!

Cute, eh???

Here are 5 easy party planning tips that will help you plan a successful DIY birthday party:

1) Pick a theme. Decorations can revolve around a character, an activity or a color. Just make sure there is something to bring everything together.  (For the monkey party, the focus was "monkeys" and the color yellow.)

2) Make every guest feel part of the celebration. One way to do this is to give everyone a loot bag or small gift.  (We gave out stuffed monkeys at this party, but here are some other unique loot bag ideas.)

3) Add a personal touch. Bake a special cake, craft your own decorations, or cook your signature dish to serve to your guests.  (The handmade monkey bibs and adorable monkey cake were big hits with our baby guests and their parents.)

4) Plan activities that everyone can participate in. Rent a karaoke machine, play board games, decorate cupcakes, or do a craft. Do something that keeps your guests entertained and together in one room. (Helium balloons and snacks seem to keep our one year old guest entertained... such an easy-to-please audience.  :-)

5) Make your event memorable. Take lots of pictures, and send copies to everyone that attended. Your loved ones and guests will appreciate the opportunity to re-live the memories.

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

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Simple No-Sew Super Hero Cape

This cape is really fun and "super" easy {pun intended}.  I did a little hand-stitching to make it cuter and more durable, but you could easily use fabric glue if you want to make a "no-sew" version. I am planning on making a bunch of these capes for the boys and their guests at the Super Hero birthday party we are having in July.  The boys are "super" excited.  :-)

What I used:
  • white felt (cheap and easy to work with)
  • red and blue felt (any colors would work... these ones go with my birthday party color scheme)
  • white embroidery thread and a needle (but fabric glue could be used instead)
  • white button
  • self sticking Velcro
  • scissors

What I did:

1)  Using a word processing program, I made a letter template (inside a circle).

2)  I used the paper template to cut out a blue felt letter (the first letter of the child's name) and a red felt circle.  I then stitched the letter to the circle using white embroidery thread.  (Glue could be used if you are making a "no-sew" version.)

3)  I cut a basic "cape shape" out of the white felt.  My cape was about 26 inches from the neck to the bottom, and the straps where about 5 inches.

4)  I cut some red felt to attach to the straps for some color (but this step could be skipped for a "no-sew" version).  I then attached one piece of Velcro to the top of the right strap and the bottom of the left strap, and reinforced it with a couple of stitches.  I added a white button embellishment (for decoration only) and stitched the red felt to the straps.

5)  Finally, I stitched the red circle to the cape.  (Again, this could be done with glue if desired.That's it!  Done... and ready for your Super Hero in training!

At the birthday party, I am going to have the kids decorate their capes with foam star stickers.  Won't that be cute????

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

PS (If you haven't already done so, "Like" me on facebook for lots of great info that doesn't get posted on this blog.

PPS (For a matching Super Hero Mask, check out this tutorial.)

5 Rainy Day Activities

I don't know about you, but rainy days can sometimes make me question my sanity {seriously!}  Here are 5 rainy day activities that I use to keep my boys busy and happy when we are stuck in the house all day.

1)  Build with Marshmallows:  This is so easy, and it doesn't require much adult assistance.  Aren't these the best activities?  All you need are:  toothpicks, marshmallows, and imagination.  The kids use the toothpicks to connect the marshmallows and "build" things.  Fun and simple!

2)  Have a Puppet Show:  For the puppet theatre, we use a spring loaded curtain rod and an old sheet in a doorway.  The sheet works well because it already has an opening for the rod -- no sewing required.  

For puppets, we print pictures off the internet, color them, cut them out, and attach a popsicle stick to the back.  

3)  Build Stuff Out of Boxes:  In this picture, we turned a cardboard box into a car that the boys named "The Imagination Car".  They had a great time decorating and "building" the car.  If you let the kids take the lead, they will come up with lots of great uses for a box; however, if you are looking for inspiration, you can find 5 fun ideas here.

4)  Make Playdough:  I use a great/easy "no cook" recipe that uses Kool Aid.  It makes great colors, and the playdough smells yummy.  (You can find the recipe here.)  My boys love to make playdough creatures using googly eyes and pipe cleaner.

5)  Indoor Camping:  We have an indoor tent, but a tent made out of chairs and blankets will work too.  We make a fire out of construction paper for "roasting" marshmallows, and the boys put on their bathing suits. 

Hopefully, these ideas will help to make your rainy days a little more "sunny"!  :-)
Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

PS (If you haven't already done so, "Like" me on facebook for lots of great info that doesn't get posted on this blog.

PPS (You might also like my Fishing Fun post -- really fun on a rainy day.)

DIY Music Party

My boys LOVE music.  So, when my oldest son turned five, a "Music" party was a no-brainer.  Of course, the goal was to plan something:  fun, memorable, and not expensive.  Here is a peek at our DIY Music party.

When the gates arrived, my son greeted them with a pair of "rock star" glasses and a backstage pass.  (I used self laminating luggage tags from the Dollar Store to make personalized back stage passes.)

Activity #1 - Decorating guitar shaped cookies - Each child decorated some to eat and some to take home.  I had some ziploc bags with pre-printed name labels so there wouldn't be any confusion when it was time to go home.

Activity #2 - Making musical instruments - We made guitars out of kleenex boxes, stickers, markers, elastics and rulers.  I used pre-printed name labels again to make sure everyone could identify their guitar at the end of the party.  

Activity #3 - Karoke - Every child had a chance to sing while the other children played instruments.  At the end of every performance, "The Star" received a medal.  

The Drum Cake -  My boys always look forward to their cake.  This one was super easy to make.  I decorated the sides with Smarties and Ovation (mint and chocolate) sticks, and topped the cake with two lollipop "drum sticks".  

Here is another cake that would work.  I got the idea here.  (I made this one for my middle child when he turned three.)

Don't you just love it when a party comes together?  :-)

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

*** If you like this post, you might like this one about Unique Loot Bag Ideas or these 5 Truly DIY Parties for Kids.

SIMPLE Science Experiment - Cause and Effect

Last week, my son (who is in Grade Primary) had a "Scientist" visit his classroom.  He was fascinated, and since then, he has been asking to do a science experiment at home.

Because the other two boys (3 and 22 months) were involved, we decided to keep it simple.  I explained that we were going to put vinegar in a bottle and add some baking soda, and when they mixed together, they were going to create gas/air.  I asked them what they thought would happen.  Then, we did the experiment.

We used:
  • a plastic bottle
  • vinegar
  • baking soda
  • a balloon
  • funnel (to fill the balloon with baking soda)
What we did:
  1. We poured about 1 1/4 cups of vinegar into the bottle.
  2. We filled the balloon (about 3/4 full) with baking soda.
  3. We attached the balloon to the top of the bottle -- making sure there was a tight seal.

 4.  We carefully dumped the baking soda into the bottle and watched as the balloon filled with air.

Fun, eh?  I thought it was a great, simple lesson on "Cause and Effect", and the boys LOVED it.
Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

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