Seasonal Family Traditions – Halloween

Fall is officially in session and there is nothing better than a Holiday season to begin fun and festive family traditions with the ones that you care about most. Holiday activities like the ones listed below give parents the ability to teach their kids about the history behind certain times of year through memorable and fun activities that embody the spirit of the season.

Pumpkin Contest 2011a

Photo By: Amelia Extra

How does your family prepare for the Halloween season each year? If you are looking for ways to revamp this annual occurrence by starting a few family traditions of your own, look to our list of popular Halloween traditions that you might want to start in your home:

Pumpkin Carving Contest: A fun activity that results in having a number of beautiful décor items for your home. Nothing quite represents this fall holiday quite like gathering with friends and loved ones to carve a classic Jack – O-Lantern. Some cities and communities take it a step further by hosting festive carving contest that result in intricate and detailed designs that are sure to impress!

Cookie Decorating Party: Kids and adults alike would get a kick out of this family friendly activity. All you need to get started are a few plain sugar cookies, icing, sprinkles, and any preferred decorating tools. From bits of candy to chocolate frosting, cater to your family’s tastes but also provide a few Halloween themed items like pumpkin shaped cookies or spooky sprinkles.

Halloween Movie Night: Family movie nights can get a whole new feel when it comes to the Halloween season. During this spooky time of year, parents can share some of their favorite family friendly Halloween films with their kids. Additionally, movie snacks and other sweet treats can be themed around the holiday or scenes from the film that you’ll be screening.

Candied Apple Decorating: For many, fall is often seen as apple season, so when looking for new uses for this fall food, don’t forget about the classic candied apple! Simply gather a few of your kids favorite sweet treats and snacks and have them start decorating a Halloween themed treat. Make sure a parent or adult is there to supervise when it comes to heating up and dipping the apples in caramel or melted candy.

Celebrate Summer’s Arrival with Your Kids

It can sometimes be difficult to determine when spring ends and summer begins. Some people like to mark the beginning of summer by when school lets out for break, when the days become extremely long or even when the temperature rises to an extreme heat. These may all be signs that summer is coming quickly; however, in actuality, the start of this hot season is marked by a phenomenon called the Summer Solstice.

party

Summer Solstice

The Summer Solstice, or midsummer, occurs every year, in the Northern Hemisphere, between June 20th and 22nd. This year, the Summer Solstice occurred on June 21st and was the longest period of daylight for the year.  The cause of the midsummer has to do with the axial tilt of the earth and occurs when the Earth has reached its maximum tilt towards the sun. Because of the Earth’s tilt, the northern and southern hemispheres have opposite seasons. On this day, the Northern Hemisphere will receive the longest amount of daylight of the year, while the Southern Hemisphere will receive the shortest amount of daylight. The Summer Solstice is the planet’s indication to us that summer has begun and now that the season is officially here, it’s time to plan some awesome summer activities with your child!

Summer Activities with the Kids

Now that school is out and the days feel a little bit longer, there is plenty of time to find fun activities to do with your kid. Since it is so warm and sunny out, this season is a great time to get your child outside to embark on some great adventures. Try a few of these activities to help celebrate the Summer Solstice and the months of fun to come!

Go Swimming

Whether you live near an ocean, a lake, or even just a swimming pool, summer is a great time to put on a bathing suit and splash in the water. Before your family heads to the water, make sure to read up on our swimming safety tips to keep your kids safe at the pool. Not only is swimming is great exercise for your kid, but it will also help them keep cool and calm during these hot summer days!

Barbeques

With the weather being so warm and sunny, you won’t spend all day cooking in a stuffy kitchen. This season is a great time to break out the BBQ and grill up some food with friends and family. Whether you grill in the backyard or at a nearby park or beach, have your kids help you with some of the preparation and let them invite their friends over for summer barbeque. Having friends near will keep your kids busy while you cook and let them burn some energy running around outside!

Arts n’ Crafts

Find some cool arts n’ crafts ideas online and set up a craft station outside in the yard. You can help your child make a beautiful birdhouse, or simple let them use their imagination to create a masterpiece of their choosing. Also, if you’re looking for some Fourth of July crafts, check out our blog for ideas.  By being outside and making fun crafts, your child can enjoy the warm summer season while also being able to express some creativity.

Go Camping

Instead of doing an expensive resort or theme-park vacation with your little one, take the whole family on a camping trip instead. Spending time with nature and sleeping outdoors will help your child appreciate their surroundings and allow them to enjoy the wonderful summer season. You can take them on easy hikes around the campsite and enjoy a cozy campfire at night that they will be sure to remember!

Summer Solstice has come and gone, which means summer is finally here! This season won’t last forever, so be sure to make the most of it with your child by enjoying some of these great summer activities that they won’t forget.

Create a Paper Chain American Flag

Friday, June 14th we celebrate Flag Day. Flag Day can be celebrated in a variety of different ways ranging from barbecues to parades and even crafts. So for this Flag Day, celebrate it with your kids by creating a Paper Chain American Flag of your own!

Final

 

Materials

-scissors

-stapler

-tape or string

-red, white, and blue construction paper

Supplies

Instructions

 

 

  1. Cut each piece of paper crosswise into several 1-inch strips. The number of strips you will need varies depending on the size of your flag. For a large flag, like the one pictured above, you will need 20 blue strips, 32 white strips, and 46 red strips.

Strips

  1. Loop the strips around each other to create a chain. As seen in the example picture, you will need 4 blue chains that each have 5 loops, 2 white chains and 2 red chains that have 9 loops each, and 2 red chains and 1 white chain that are 14 loops long.
  1. Using a staple, connect the chains together in the order shown above, alternating between vertical and horizontal.

 Stapled

  1. Once the flag is completely assembled, use tape or string to hang it on the wall.

 

Try this fun craft with your kids and feel free to create other fun patterns and designs! Not only will your kids have something to be proud of after this project, but they will also have a fun family memory. Be sure to get in the spirit of Flag Day with this great craft!

Fun Springtime Outdoor Activities

Spring has sprung, which means it is time for everyone to come out of their winter-induced cocoons and enjoy the outdoors. Why stay inside when it is finally sunny and warm outside? And there is no better way to enjoy the outdoors than to do so with friends. Here are some ideas for fun outdoor spring time activities you can do with your friends.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Spring means that America’s past time begins, as baseball teams around the country take the field. Play a pickup baseball or softball game with some friends at a local baseball diamond, or maybe go out to a local major or minor league baseball game. Eat some peanuts and cracker jacks as you sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh inning stretch.

Show off your Green Thumb

With the cold and snow gone, the greenery of plants is returning. So why not add to that greenery and plant a garden? Find a small patch in your yard and pick out some vegetables and other plants to grow. Tend to the plants for a few weeks, and you will eventually have beautiful plants and delicious fresh vegetables to eat.

Go Fly a Kite

As soon as you see the trees start to sway in the wind, go to a local field or beach and try to launch your kite. Running around while trying to keep the kite up is a great way to be active. Have a contest to see who can keep up their kite the longest. Try to get your kite to do tricks. It is a great, cheap springtime activity.

Pack up your Picnic Basket

With the nice weather of spring, there’s no reason to eat inside. Pack a picnic to take to a park or the beach and eat with your friends outdoors. Bring some lawn or beach games to play, such as horseshoes or bocce ball, to top off the meal.

Go Swimming

Whether you go swimming in the ocean, a lake, or a local pool, swimming is a great activity to do with your friends. You can play fun water games such as Marco Polo or Colors, or splash around in the waves if at a beach or larger lake. When you are tired of swimming around, you can relax in the warm sun and talk with your friends – just be sure to wear a lot of sunscreen.

Those are just a few things you can do with your friends and family in the nice spring weather. Are you planning on going to a ballgame or having a picnic, or something else from this list? Or do you have any other fun spring activities planned?

The Importance of Basic Number Sense

In the early stages of a child’s development, much importance is put on the learning of their ABCs. While this is extremely important in developing skills in speaking, reading and writing, it is common for basic number sense to be overlooked. Recently, research has shown that a child’s familiarity with numbers at a younger age can help them better perform basic numeric calculations through adulthood.

As parents and educators work toward improving national math scores and skills, studies are now showing that getting kids more comfortable with numbers and basic mathematical functions in early stages like 1st grade give them the basic support for progressing toward more complex mathematical concepts later in life.

After observing a number of school-aged children who struggled in basic math testing, researchers from the University of Missouri found a correlating trend between these kids and those who displayed a less fluent understanding of numbers while in the 1st grade. Findings like this suggest that kids are not able to catch up if they are already struggling in those early school years.

Accordingly, for kids to excel in math it appears to be extremely important for them to be introduced to numbers and an understanding of quantities well before they enter the classroom. In the same sense that kids are encouraged to learn the ABCs, basic number sense could be the route to developing better overall math skills.

Before they are even able to  fall behind in math, parents might consider playing counting games or other activities with kids early on to give them the jumpstart they need to excel both in and out of the classroom.

Springtime Egg Decorating Craft

Decorating eggs is a long-time tradition for the beginning of spring. It is a great way to encourage a child’s creativity and foster imagination and self-expression, while also creating seasonal decorations you can display around the house. While most people simply dye their eggs a single color using food coloring, there are also many other ways for you and your kids to decorate eggs.

eggs

Materials
– Eggs
– Water
– Paint
– Paintbrush
– Glitter, glue, googly eyes, rubber bands,
   food coloring, construction paper, and other craft supplies
  you might want to use

First, be sure to hard boil the eggs. This will prevent huge messes when an egg is inevitably dropped. To hard boil eggs, place the eggs in a pot full of cold water. Put the pot on the stove and bring to a boil. Once boiling, slowly reduce the heat for ten minutes. Remove the eggs from the pot and let cool before decorating.

Be sure to cover your workspace with old newspapers and paper towels to make for an easier clean-up after the decorating is done.

Once the eggs are cooled, it is time to start decorating. The decoration possibilities are virtually endless, but in case there needs to be a creative push, here are a few egg decorating ideas.

Messy Egg

Paint splotches and lines of paint all over the egg. Layer different colors and leave some areas empty of a certain color to create an awesome multi-colored egg. Have the kids explore using complementary and contrasting colors, discovering which colors naturally go together and which ones do not. Encourage them to mix colors to create news ones. While the paint dries, they can roll the egg in glitter to get a glittery, messy colored egg.

Superhero Egg

Paint an outfit or a pattern onto the egg. Make sure to not forget the unique superhero logo. Cut out a piece of construction paper and glue it on the back of the egg like a cape. Glue googly eyes on the egg to complete the look.

Striped Egg

Squeeze a few drops of food coloring into a bowl with water and mix well. Wrap a few rubber bands around an egg to create a pattern. Dunk the egg in the bowl of colored water for a few minutes, until the color looks right; the longer the egg is in the colored water, the more vibrant the colors become. Take the egg out of the water and remove the rubber bands. You can repeat this process, putting rubber bands in another pattern and dye the egg in a second color to create a cool multi-color stripe effect.

There are tons of other ways to decorate eggs, this list barely even scratches the surface. Whatever method of decorating you choose, you will end up with colorful, seasonal decorations you can display around the house. This craft can help younger kids refine their motor skills, and older kids to express themselves creatively. Be sure to tell us how you and your kids decorated your eggs.

Vote for JumpStart in the 2011 SheKnows Parenting Awards!

Update: The results are in. JumpStart won 1st Place and was the Editor’s Choice in the Best Website for Kids category! Thank you to all those who voted for JumpStart in the SheKnows Parenting Awards and to SheKnows for this wonderful opportunity!

Do you often find yourself chatting with your kids about “mythies,” “quests,” “petz,” or “Jumpeez?” Then you must be a JumpStart fan! And we have some great news for you, parents. JumpStart.com has been nominated for a SheKnows Parenting Award!

Vote for JumpStart.com in the Entertainment Category’s Favorite “Website for Kids”

Every year, the SheKnows Parenting Awards program selects the leading products available to parents in a multitude of categories—from baby gear to eco-friendly gadgets, and everything in between. This year JumpStart.com has been honored as a nominee for the top “Website for Kids” in their entertainment category!

We are beyond thrilled to have received the nomination, but now we need the help of JumpStart fans like you! So spread the word and help support JumpStart by voting on the official 2011 SheKnows Parenting Awards page. Voting is open to everyone so please let SheKnows know how much you and your kids love JumpStart’s virtual world of ridez, charms, and endless activity! The voting results will be announced on October 31, 2011!

A little background on the SheKnows Parenting Awards: “The goal of the awards is to give SheKnows readers all the information they need to make educated decisions in their everyday lives—particularly when it comes to their kids! Nominated products are reviewed by the SheKnows team of editors and hand-picked for quality, functionality, convenience and more.” –SheKnows

Vote for JumpStart.com now!

To support SheKnows’ nomination of JumpStart.com for best “Website for Kids” please don’t forget to vote! Take this opportunity to share your love of JumpStart with parents around the nation! We here at JumpStart would really appreciate it!