Celebrate the Little Things {because they are actually the big things}

When you have kids, life can get very busy.  I feel like we are always rushing to get somewhere or do something.  I sometimes need to remind myself of the importance of slowing down and taking the time to appreciate my boys (while they are still young). So today, instead of doing laundry, I baked a cake for my 7 year old's stuffed dog.

It seems like a silly thing to do, right?  But on the way out the door this morning, my 7 year old told me that today was "Slush's" birthday.  He told me this information as though it was very important news... and to him, it was.

So, after I got my boys off to school, I blew up some balloons and baked a cake.  And after supper, we sang, "Happy Birthday", and "Slush" blew out his candle.

I know my boys will only be little for a short time, so sometimes it is necessary to let the laundry pile up and have a birthday party for a stuffie.  Happy Birthday, Slush!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

5 Things Kids and Parents Should Know About Bike Safety

There is still a little snow on the ground, but my boys are ready for Spring aka "bike season".  I love seeing my boys outside and active but, of course, their safety is always my number one priority. Today I am sharing 5 important things that every child and parent should know about bike safety.

1) Wear a helmet - My boys all have helmets (that fit properly), and they know that they are not allowed on their bikes without wearing them.  Head injuries are the number one cause of serious injury to kids on bicycles, and wearing a properly fitted and correctly worn bike helmet can cut the risk of serious head injury by up to 80%.  Wearing a helmet is a must for kids!

2) Ride a safe bike - Make sure the bike is in good working order and fits the child.  You'll also want to make sure the tires are inflated and the brakes are working properly.

3) Wear proper footwear - My boys know that they must wear sneakers or their closed-toed sandals when they ride their bikes.  Flip flops are not proper footwear for bike riding.

4) Know the rules - If kids are going to be riding their bikes on roads, they should be taught bicycle safety and rules of the road. All riders should use appropriate hand signals and respect traffic signals.  My boys know that they must stay on the side of the road, watch for cars, and always stay together.  It is important for me to know that if someone gets injured, there will be someone to go for help.

5) Pick safe routes - Make sure kids know where they are allowed to ride their bikes. The routes should be safe and appropriate for the age of the child. 

These five tips are important, but you can find even more information on safe cycling at Parachute here.

What's your best bike safety tip?

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Disclosure: I was compensated by Parachute for my participation in the #safekidsweek campaign, but (as always) the opinions expressed in this blog are 100% my own.

Simple Popsicle Stick Frame... with a button heart

I love the idea of kids making their own gifts for the special people in their lives, don't you? This popsicle stick frame is a perfect DIY gift for Mother's Day, Father's Day, or a special teacher.

To make this adorable kid's craft, start by painting four craft sticks in a bright color.  Then, glue the ends together and embellish with buttons on the corners.

You can fill this frame with a child's drawing, a handprint, a meaningful photo, or this simple button heart.  To make the heart, just draw a heart on a piece of card stock and use glue and buttons to fill it.

Who would your little one make this popsicle stick frame for?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Number Crafts {Number THREE}... The Three Little Pigs

I teach a weekly class for preschoolers called "123 Learn with Me". Each week, we learn about numbers through a variety of activities and crafts.  This week, we had some fun learning about the number three by crafting and playing with the three little pigs.

We did some number three printing practice, decorated a number three with stickers, read a story about the three little pigs, and made two crafts.  Today I am sharing the tutorials for the crafts (including free printable templates).

To make the "Three Little Pigs" puppets:

1) Print the template and color the pigs' heads. To download and print the template, you can right click on the picture below, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 8X10 photo.  Or you can download a pdf version of the template for the pig puppets here.

2) Cut out the heads.
3) Add googly eyes and a button nose.
4) Glue or tape a craft stick to the back.

To make "The Three Little Pigs" houses:

1) Print the template and color the houses. To download and print the template, you can right click on the picture below, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 8X10 photo.  Or you can download a pdf version of the template for the Three Little Pigs houses here.

2)  Cut out the doors on one side and the top... leaving one side attached so the door can open.
3)  Tape or glue a piece of white paper to the back of each door to cover the openings.
4)  Draw pictures of the pigs inside the houses (behind the doors).

That's it!  Isn't this a cute way to learn about the number 3?  I'll be sharing our crafts and activities for the number 4 soon, so don't forget to come back and check them out.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

PS - You can grab a copy of my 40+ page "Numbers" WORKBOOK here.

Hockey Party Food

My boys are huge hockey fans, so it was no surprise that my oldest son chose "hockey" as the theme for his 9th birthday party.  It was a fantastic party, and today I am sharing the fun hockey party food we had at our party "canteen".

We had fruit and veggie trays, and we added some hockey themed treats.  We offered:

  • Playoff Pizza
  • Rink Chips
  • Olympic Hockey Gold Coins
  • Bulldog Bars (because my son plays for a team called the "Bulldogs")
  • Hockey Pucks (aka Oreos)

The food table decor also added to the festivities.  We used a plastic tablecloth for a backdrop and added some hockey cards.  I also added a picture of my son playing hockey and one of him with the captain of his favorite team.  And, finally, I made a "canteen" sign from a piece of dollar store foam core with hockey tape around the edges.

And, of course, the most important food at a party is the cake.  You can find the tutorial for this awesome hockey cake here

I think this hockey party food is perfect for a hockey birthday, end of season team gathering, or Stanley Cup Final party.  Do you have a hockey fan in your home?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Easy Toothbrush Organization

My kids' bathroom has been a disaster for a long time.  They have electric toothbrushes that don't fit in traditional toothbrush holders, and they all like different kinds of toothpaste.  I have been trying to find a way to organize our supplies, and recently, I came across a fantastic solution from "Musings from a Stay at Home Mom".  Today, I am sharing my version of her project -- a dollar store toothbrush storage solution.

For the record... here is the before picture of my bathroom.  I have no drawers in the bathroom, so I used the side of the cabinet door under my sink.

All you need for this project is a pair of scissors, some lightweight plastic cups from the dollar store, and velcro strips that are sticky on the back.


1)  You'll want to clean the back of cabinet door really well, and allow it to dry completely.
2)  Cut the velcro strips to the length of the cups.
3)  Attach the "hook" side to the cabinet door.
4)  Attach the "loop" side to the cups.
5)  Attach the cups to the door.  (Tip... Leave a little it of space above the cup so that the weight of the cup isn't constantly pulling on the top of the velcro strip.)

That's it!  I love how simple this solution is and the fact that I can easily remove the cups for cleaning.

Now my boys have a place for their toothbrushes, and my sink looks like this...

What do you think about this toothbrush storage solution?  Do you think it would work in your house?  Now I just have to find a way to keep them from splattering toothpaste every time they brush their teeth.  Any ideas?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Number Crafts {Number TWO}... Butterfly and Fish Crafts

I have started a Craft Club in my home for preschoolers, and we are doing different number crafts each week. This week, we are focusing on the NUMBER TWO, and we are crafting a butterfly (with two wings), two handprint fish (inspired by the Dr. Seuss book One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish), and a magic wand.

To make the fish:

1)  Download and print the template for the "One Fish Two Fish" craft, which you can find here.
2)  Trace the child's hands onto the sheet.
3)  Have the child color the fish, and finish by adding googly eyes.

To make the butterfly:

1)  Draw butterfly wings on a piece of card stock, and cut them out.
2)  Punch or cut holes in the wings.
3)  Glue tissue paper over the hearts.
4)  Attach a popsicle stick and googly eyes.

You can also add this little poem to the back.  To download a copy of the poem, right-click on the picture below, save it to your computer, and print like a regular 8X10 photo.

To make the number two magic wand:

1) Draw a circle containing the number two and have the children decorate it and it cut it out.

2) Tape some ribbon and a paper straw to the back.

Making a duck out of a "number two" is another adorable craft for Preschoolers. Color a two, and then add a feather wing, an eye, a head, and a beak. Cute, right?

We also did some printing practice, and used a stamp to "stamp out" the number two.

I think these number crafts are adorable, don't you?  I'll be posting some crafts and activities for the number 3 soon!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

PS - You can grab a copy of my 40+ page "Numbers" WORKBOOK here.

The Ultimate DIY Jake and the Neverland Pirates Party

I love a good DIY party, and today I am sharing all the awesome details of my son's 5th "Jake and the Neverland Pirates" birthday party.  It was a simple party, but the easy and inexpensive special touches made it the ultimate DIY pirate party.

A good invitation always sets the mood for a party, so I took a picture of my little pirate, and I added all the party info using a photo editing software.  I used Picmonkey.com because it is free and very user friendly.

Then, on the day of the party, as the guests arrived, they were greeted at the door by my three little pirates, and they were asked to choose a pirate name.  My oldest son wrote out the name tags and stuck them on our guests.

Once each guest chose a name, they were given pixie dust, a felt Jake headband, and a pirate hook.  (Click on the links for the tutorials for these three simple party favors.)

Once inside our home, our guests were transported into a pirate hideaway via a variety of easy DIY pirate party signage and decor. You can find all the adorable details and instructions here.

The guests were served a variety of food and snacks that fit with our pirate theme.  You can find all the details of our pirate fare here.

And, of course, our Jake and the Neverland Pirate cake was a hit with our pint-sized pirate guests.  You can find out how I made this cake (from a mix) using the step-by-step tutorial you can find here.

Of course, we also had a bunch of pirate games & activities to keep my son's friends entertained and happy. We had a plank, a hook toss, a treasure hunt, and more.  You can get all the game and activity details here.

Then, at the end of the party, each of our guests left with their headband, pirate hook, pixie dust, and a little "pirate booty" loot bagYou can download your own free, printable "pirate booty" tags here.

I loved all the little DIY details of this Jake and the Neverland Pirates party.  

I hope you ARRRRR inspired to host your own DIY pirate party. It really is a fun theme, and there countless opportunities to add special DIY details.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Party Games & Activities

The key to a successful party is a fun theme and a variety of awesome party games and activities.  Today, I am sharing the fabulous games and activities that entertained all the little pirate party guests at my son's 5th "Jake and the Neverland Pirates" party. 

DIY Hook Toss - I made a really fun ring toss using dollar store supplies.  I made some pirate hooks (using the tutorial you can find here), and then I used hot glue to attach them to a piece of foam core that I decorated with stickers.  Then, I created rings by cutting the centres out of paper plates.  The result was an easy and inexpensive "hook toss".

Bean Bag Toss - I cut four holes in a box, covered it in duct tape and added a picture that my son colored.  It's a simple way to create an adorable bean bag toss.  You can find a full tutorial here.

Walk the Plank - I nailed a few pieces of wood together to create a "plank" and placed it in water (i.e. on top of a blue tarp).  Then, I added a blow up crocodile from the dollar store.  "Walking the plank" was a big hit with the kids at the party.

Tattoo Parlor - I bought some dollar store tattoos, and used them to create "Smee's" tattoo parlor.

Make a necklace/ Pirate Treasure - I set up a station for the kids to make their own edible necklaces/ pirate treasures.  They strung Froot Loops onto cording and added a chocolate coin charm (which I created by gluing a bit of pipe cleaner to the coin).

Treasure Hunt - Every pirate party needs a pirate treasure hunt, and we did ours by following clues to the "Team Treasure Chest".  

Here are the clues that we used:
a) To find a treasure that you'll like, go and look for a purple bike.
b) Great job finding the first clue.  Look by the hose to see what to do.
c) Next, we won't go far you see.  You'll find a clue attached to a tree.
d) Keep on going.  You are almost there.  Take a look under the porch chair.
e) Here's a place you'll want to check.  There's a clue under the deck.
f) This is it.  There is no doubt.  You'll find a treasure in Jake's hideout.

The kids had a great time running around the yard, playing games, and hunting for treasure.  I think these easy pirate party games and activities are perfect for a Jake and the Neverland Pirates party, don't you?

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Number Crafts {Number ONE}... Spring Bird Craft

I have started a Craft Club in my home for preschoolers, and we are doing a different number craft each week.  This week, we are focusing on the NUMBER ONE, and we are crafting an adorable bird for spring.

Isn't it sweet?  To make your own bird craft:

1) Cut a circle from a piece of white card stock.  (I traced a small plate.)

2) Glue small squares of tissue paper onto the circle, allow to dry, and add googly eyes, an orange triangle beak, and a feather.

3) Punch a hole in the top of the bird, add a piece of ribbon, and attach a "number one" poem to the back.

To download a copy of the poem: right click on the picture below, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 8X10 photo.

I love how sweet and cheerful this little bird is.  It is simple to make, and it is fun way to learn about the "number one".

Here are a few other ways to learn about the number one: 

Make a Cheerios bird feeder in the shape of the number one, practice printing the number one, decorate the number one with crayons, and/or use stamps or Q-tip painting to make the number one.

I hope you enjoy my first number craft.  I will be sharing a cute craft for the "number two" soon!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

PS - You can grab a copy of my 40+ page "Numbers" WORKBOOK here.

10 {Simple} Science Experiments for Kids

Kids are naturally curious, and my boys are no exception.  I believe that fostering childhood curiosity is very important, and science experiments are a perfect way for kids to explore their surroundings and the way things work.  Today I am sharing 10 simple science experiments that are easy, inexpensive, and tons of fun!

1) Baking Soda Magic Trick - With a little help setting up this simple science experiment, the kids will love performing this trick for their friends.  All you need for this simple experiment is baking soda, vinegar, some food coloring, and the instructions that you can find here

2) Coloring Carnations - With a few carnations and food coloring, the kids can learn all about plants and how they absorb water.  It's a simple and cheerful little experiment, and you can find all the instructions here

3) Boats and Buoyancy - Building boats and learning about buoyancy is a fantastic way to spend an afternoon, and you can find all the information you need to know here.

4) Mentos Geyser - Messy experiments are always a big hit with kids.  Grab some soda and Mentos, head outside, and create your own fountain of fun.  You can find the full tutorial here

5) Making Ice Cream in a Bag - The result of this science experiment is a yummy snack.  With a few simple ingredients, kids can make their own ice cream in a bag. It's simple and delicious, and you can find everything you need to know here.

6) Exploding Sandwich Bag*

7) Balloon Magic*

8) Playing with Density*

9) Making Butter*

10) Film Cannister rockets.

* Experiments #6 to #10 are all great hands-on experiments for little ones, and you can find instructions for all of them here.

Exploring science with children can be a great way to foster their curiosity for learning. Which of these 10 simple science experiments will be most popular with your kids?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Bonus.... This Skittles experiment is super easy and fun. Read all about it here.

Don't miss any of the fun....