Last Day of School 2013 {Family Traditions}

Tuesday was the last day of preschool for my three year old, and today my two older boys went to pick up their report cards.  We have two special traditions for the last day of school.  First, I pick the boys up at school and take them for ice cream.

Then, the boys get to run through their "finish lines".  {This was the first year my three year old was able to run through a finish line, so he was super-excited!}

Do you have any special end of year traditions?  I just love hearing about the fun things other families do! 

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

10+ Canada Day Recipes and Crafts and Activities

Canada Day is just around the corner, and to get you in the spirit, I have rounded up a little collection of Canada Day crafts and activities.  They are perfect for celebrating Canada150 too!

Click on the links {titles} for the full tutorials.

Canada Day Hair Accessories from Mama Pea Pod

Canada Day Sparklers from East Coast Mommy

Canada Day Flag Craft from Kitchen Counter Chronicles

Tape Resist Canadian Flag Craft from And Next Comes L

Toilet Roll RCMP from Crystal's Tiny Treasures

Canada Day Book Page Banner from East Coast Mommy

{Easy} Canada Day Flag Cake from East Coast Mommy (featured at Canadian Living Moms)

{Kit Kat} Canada Day Cake from Little Miss Kate & Co

Canada Day Hat and Flag from East Coast Mommy

Canada Day Toy Treehouse from Northstory

Canada Day Wreath from East Coast Mommy

Canada Day Paper Fan from East Coast Mommy

Thanks so much to all the creative ladies that allowed me to share their Canada Day creations with you today.  Do YOU have a favorite?

Happy Canada Day {from me and my boys}!

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Canada Day Fan {with free printable template}

Who doesn't love a simple craft that is fun AND useful?  This adorable, patriotic fan is easy to make, and it is a perfect Canada Day craft for children of all ages.

Ready to make this Canada Day Fan in three easy steps?

1)  Download the free template I created for you, and print it onto white card stock.  {You can find the free printable here).

2)  Have your little one color it, and cut it out.

3)  Add a craft stick to the back (with tape). 

Fun, right?  Wouldn't your little one enjoying keeping cool with this paper fan this summer?  Happy Canada Day!

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Quick Tip Tuesday #5 - Simple Summer Craft

When it comes to kids, it is always helpful to have an "I'm bored"  solution at-the-ready.  So, here is a simple craft for a rainy summer day... a paper plate fish puppet.

This craft requires minimal supplies and minimal adult supervision.  Can you say, "Win Win"?

To make this craft, have the children color a paper plate.  Then, cut out a mouth and glue it on as a tail.  Add a googly-eye and a popsicle stick, and you have an adorable fish puppet to keep the little ones entertained.

Do you have "quick craft" for your kids to do that requires minimal supplies and minimal adult supervision?  I'd love to hear about it.

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Balloon Pop Countdown

Don't you just love a good "countdown"?  Me too!  So... with five days left to the end of school, I put together this fun, easy, and inexpensive balloon pop countdown for my boys.

Each day, my boys will pop a balloon, and we will do the activity that is written on the slip of paper inside the balloon.  Fun, right?

Here is what we have written inside our balloons:

You can download a pdf version of our list here.

All you need to do is:

1)  Print out the list, and cut it into strips.
2)  Roll up the strips, and pop them into the balloons.
3)  Blow up the balloons, and write numbers on them (if you want to do your activities on specific days).

That's it!  We are having fun counting down to summer vacation, but you could use this simple idea for any occasion.  What exciting event do you have coming up? 

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

ECM Kids' Craft Club - #16 {Canada Day Crafts}

Welcome to the 16th edition of the ECM Kids' Craft Club {an easy & inexpensive way for kids to have fun crafting and experience the excitement of getting their very own mail}.  If you want to join the club, you can find more info here.  For everyone who is already a member... let's get started on this month's craft.  This month we are making two Canada Day Crafts!

Here's the "how to":

1)  Color your flag and "Canada Day Carl" finger puppet.

2)  Cut out your flag and finger puppet.  Have a grown up help you cut out the two circles at the bottom of the finger puppet.

3)  Add a Canadian flag sticker to "Canada Day Carl's" t-shirt, and tape a popsicle stick to the back of your flag.

That's it!  I hope you enjoyed these crafts, and I hope you have a great Canada Day.  {Don't forget to leave me a comment, or send me an email.  Your comments help me improve the club, and I love hearing from you.} 

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Don't forget... Assist young children when using scissors, and be careful of the small parts included with this kit, as they can be a choking hazard for children under three".)

7 Ways to Make Family Movie Night Special

At the end of every week, my family gathers together to enjoy one of our favorite family traditions – Friday Night Family Movie Night.  Does your family enjoy movie nights?  Here are 7 simple ideas that can help make movie nights a little more special.

1)  Make movie night a tradition by having it on the same night every week.

2)  Pair it with a favorite meal.  (We always have pancakes for supper on movie night, but Pizza Friday would be fun too.)

3)  Pick a good family movie... one that everyone will enjoy.  If consensus is difficult, let the kids take turns making the selection.

4)  Use special dishes.  (I have popcorn bowls from the dollar store that we only use on movie nights.)

5)  Set the scene with a special sign or two.  We have a “Movie Snacks” sign and a “Now Playing” sign that we use every week.

6)  Get comfy.  PJs are the perfect attire for family movie night, and it makes the transition to bedtime (after the movie) easier.

7)  Have movie snacks.  Popcorn is always a good choice, but pick whatever your family enjoys.

It’s also fun to “mix it up” some weeks by adding something special.  E.g. Choose a fun theme, have an outdoor screening, make a craft to go along with the movie, or bake a special treat.

Implementing some (or all) of these suggestions will add to the fun, but the most important part of family movie night is sitting down together as a family.  Years from now, the kids won’t remember what movies they watched or the snacks they ate, but they will remember the time spent together cuddled up on the couch.
Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Quick Tip Tuesday #4 - Makeshift Mudroom

Although I dream of a fancy, highly organized mudroom -- I just don't have the space or budget for it right now.  So... I took a small wall in my garage and made a little "makeshift mudroom".

It isn't fancy.  It is just 6 hooks and 3 bins from the dollar store... but it works.  Each of my boys has two hooks for their sweaters and jackets, and each boy has a bin for all their shoes.

It is an easy, inexpensive, and effective solution.  A place for everything and everything in its place.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

What makes summer "all good" for you? {Contest from McCain}

Summer is almost here, and McCain is asking the question, "What makes summer all good for you?"  To find out, McCain is hosting an All Good Pinathon and awarding $100 each to the 5 pinners whose boards inspire them the most.

Entering is fun and easy.  Just follow these simple steps:

1) Create a board on Pinterest and name it "McCain All Good Pinathon".
2) Pin the things that make summer all good for you. e.g. a perfectly ripe peach, the smell of grass, a picnic with friends, blowing bubbles at the park, a trip to the beach, etc..
3) Include one pin from McCain that makes you feel happy.
4) Tag each pin in your board with the keyword McCainAllGood.
5) Fill out the short contest application here.

That's it! And... if you are looking for inspiration, you can check out my board here.

My boys and I have a summer checklist full of things that are "All Good" to us, and we have already started checking some things off. Don't you just love summer?

Good luck, and happy pinning!  I can't wait to see what makes summer "all good" for you.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Disclosure – This is a sponsored post.  I received compensation as a thank you for participating; however, the opinions on this blog are 100% my own.

Backyard Safari

Last week I made some "safari" binoculars out of foam and felt, and I got a great idea.   Wouldn't it be fun to set up a backyard safari for my boys?

It was a simple idea, but it was a blast!  Here's how I did it:

1)  I found a package (with 5 identical sheets) of safari stickers.  I took one sheet, and attached the stickers to paper plates.


2)  I took the sheets of matching stickers, and I gave one to each of my boys.  I also gave each boy a clipboard and a sheet of paper.

3)  I went into the yard and hid all the plates.

4)  The boys took their clipboards, and they went in search of the paper plates.  When they found one, they took the matching sticker from their sheet of stickers and stuck it to their piece of paper. The goal was to find all the plates and move all the stickers onto their sheet of paper.

Fun, right?  I think it would be fun to hide little plastic animals and have the kids search for them.  I think we might try that next time.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Easy Paint Touch-ups

I just finished painting my main floor, but I know that my three little boys will be marking up my walls very soon.  So, here is my quick tip for today....

With little jars of touch up paint labelled and ready to go, paint touch ups will be a breeze.

Clever, right?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Foam and Felt Binoculars

Recently, I was contacted by Jo-Ann (a fabric and craft supplier) about taking part in their Summer Craft Challenge.  After looking through their catalogue, I knew I needed to make foam and felt binoculars for my boys.  Their version is on the left, and mine is on the right.  

Didn't they turn out cute?  My boys absolutely love them.  Here's how I made them:

1) I cut two 6"x6" squares of blue foam.
2) I cut two 6"x6" squares of zebra felt.
3) I cut two 6" X 1 1/2" strips from the leftover blue foam, and I cut four 1" X 6" strips from the black felt.

4) Using hot glue, I glued the zebra felt to one side of each foam piece.
5) I glued the foam to the edge (on the end) of each of the square pieces.
6) I glued the black felt strips on top of the blue foam (near the edge) and on the opposite side from the foam and felt.
7) I rolled each square piece to create a cylinder, overlapping 1/2", and I glued it in place (using lots of hot glue).  
Then, I used hot glue to attach the cylinders together.
8) I traced around each end of the cylinders on black felt to get 2 felt circles, secured them in place using hot glue, and cut out centres using sharp scissors.  
9) I used scissors to punch a small hole in the side of each cylinder, fed cording through the holes, and secured it with knots.

These binoculars turned out super-cute, but they take some time to construct given all the steps.  For a simpler version, you could just use plain foam squares and a couple of black felt strips at the top and bottom of the cylinders.  It just depends on how much time you want to spend on the project.  :-)

Would your little one love going on a backyard adventure with these adorable safari binoculars?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Disclosure:  I received free projects related to this post, but the opinions on this blog are my own.

Easy and Inexpensive Class Treats

The end of a school year is a big milestone for little ones, and I like to mark the occasion by letting my boys take "end of year" class treats to their friends.  This year, I came up with 4 different options for them to choose from:

Aren't they cute?  I made tags for each "treat" using the "collage" function in Picmonkey, and I had the photos printed as wallet size.  I think using a picture adds a nice, personal touch.  

Here is a closer look:

Option 1:  Have a "BALL" this summer!

Just fill a little bag with some inexpensive balls from the dollar store, and your little one's classmates will be "bouncing" with happiness.  ;-)

Option 2:  "STAY COOL" & have a great summer!

Just tie a tag around a freezie.  When your little one's classmates get home, they can pop the tasty treat in the freezer and enjoy it on a summer day.

Option 3:  You are one SMART COOKIE!

Bake up a batch of your favorite cookies, and bag them up individually with a tag.  Who wouldn't love a cookie for an afternoon snack on a summer day?

Option 4:  O-fish-ally headed to grade 3!

Just staple a tag to a bag of goldfish.  Quick, easy, and great for a school that prefers pre-packaged snacks.

I love the idea of my boys sharing special treats with their friends.  Do your little ones bring class treats on the last day of school?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

A {Simple} NEMO Cake

Finding Nemo is one of our family's favorite movies, so last time we watched it on family movie night, we decided to make a special cake to celebrate.  It's always a party if you have a cake... am I right?

It isn't fancy, but it was super-easy to make, and my boys thought it was awesome.  Here's how I made it:

1)  I used a cake mix to make a round cake and some cupcakes.  I allowed them to cool completely, and then I arranged them on the plate (as per the picture above).

2)  I frosted the cake with orange icing, and then used white icing and a piping bag to make some white "clown fish" stripes.

3)  I finished the cake by adding an eye -- a white chocolate wafer, a little icing, and a chocolate chip.

That's it... easy peasy!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Disclosure:  I’m part of the Disney Junior Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Quick Tip Tuesday #2 - Cupcake Liner Storage

Do you have a large collection of cupcake liners scattered in a drawer?  This week's "quick tip" addresses this little annoyance.

Clever, right?  So, pick up a jar at the dollar store and fill it with all your cupcake liners.  You'll feel more organized, and they will look totally cute all stacked up in a jar.  Win win!   :-)

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Father's Day Photos

Last year my boys and I made a special gift for their Dad for father's day - personalized photos.  (You can read about it here.)  I loved the idea so much that we are doing it again this year.

Here's how I did it:

1) I interviewed each boy (separately), and asked them the following questions:

My Daddy loves ________________.
He is good at __________________.
My favorite thing to do with my Dad is __________________.
I love my Daddy because ____________________.
Love, ___________ (Age _____)

2) I uploaded a picture of each boy to {which is free and user friendly}, and typed in the info from their interview).  

That's it!  I had the photos printed in one hour, and my husband can put them in the frames we used last year.  Cute, right?

My favorite response this year was: "I love my Dad because... he helps me get off my shoes."  Adorable!

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

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