DIY Drums Kids Can Make From Recycled Cans

Isn't making a musical instrument something that should be part of every person's childhood? It's a wonderful way for kids to be creative, learn about music, and explore the science of sound. Today, I am sharing the instructions for a darling set of drums that my 9 year old made as part of class project. I think he did an excellent job crafting three drums made from tin cans.

To make the tin can drums, my son started by collecting the supplies he needed: three empty tin cans (cleaned with the tops removed), colourful balloons, painting supplies, and elastic bands.

Then, he carefully painted each drum with acrylic paint. (He did a couple of coats to make sure the colours were vibrant.)

Once the tin cans were dry, he cut the tops off the balloons and stretched them over the tops of the tin cans. The elasticity of the balloons holds them in place, but to make the surface tighter, he secured the balloons with elastic bands.

Check out the sound of the drums when he hits them with dowels. Cool, right???

I think this is a perfect project for a rainy day, don't you? I hope you make one (or more) of these fun tin can drums with your little ones. If you do, let me know how they turn out!

 (aka East Coast Mommy)

10+ Simple Ways to Celebrate Mother's Day

Mother’s Day provides the perfect opportunity to pay tribute to the wonderful woman in our lives, and it is important to put some effort into the details of the day. Today, I am sharing some simple ways that kids can make Mother's Day special.

Of course, mom is going to need a gift. Store bought options (including flowers) are great, but no mom can resist the beautiful handmade treasures lovingly crafted by her children. Check out these fantastic craft, card, treat, and decor ideas that dads can help little ones make and bake for their moms. Older children can make things independently, or they can write heartfelt notes.

1) Sharpie pendant - Any mom would be proud to wear one of these lovely pendants made from tin foil and sharpies. 

2) Popsicle stick frame - Popsicle stick frames can be made for a special photo, drawing, or button heart. 

3) Hockey mom artwork - Any hockey mom would love this artwork that you can download here for FREE. There is a version for the mom of multiple kids too. 

4) Custom coffee mug - There are countless options for making moms custom coffee mugs (including this cheeky option). Find out how to create your own version here.

5) Photo Flower - No mom can resist a handmade treasure featuring a photo of their little one. This simple vase and photo flower card are sure to make her smile.

6) Card and Handmade Flower Pen - This simple card comes with a cheerful, handmade flower pen. Cute, right?

7) "Love you to Pieces" Card - Handmade cards are always special, and this one is perfect for little crafters. If a child can rip paper, they can make this simple keepsake. 

8) Handprint Calendar - Give your mom a year's worth of love by making her a special handprint calendar. No mom can resist adorable handprint artwork.

9) Mason Jar Vase - This beautiful mason jar vase is perfect for children of all ages. It can be filled with real flowers or handcrafted paper ones.

10) Mother's Day Banner - Kids can easily transform an old book into festive Mother's Day decor that their special lady will love.

11) Sweet Treat - Serving mom a sweet treat for Mother's Day is always a great option. She'll enjoy a few minutes to herself with a cup of coffee/tea and a delicious, freshly baked goodie!

12) Mother's Day Photo - Moms are often behind the camera documenting her family's special moments. Why not take a minute on Mother's Day to snap a photo of your special lady with her tribe.

However you decide to spend Mother’s Day, I hope you pamper the special mother in your life… because she deserves it. Happy Mother’s Day to all the lovely, hardworking ladies doing their best every day to make the world a better place.

Gina Bell
(aka East Coast Mommy)

Simple Mother's Day Craft For Kids

When it comes to Mother's Day gifts, store bought options are wonderful, but no mom can resist the beautiful handmade treasures lovingly crafted by her children. Check out this adorable DIY Mason jar vase and flowers that children can easily make for their moms.

Start with a clean, empty jar.

Then, use Mod Podge to cover the jar with small squares of tissue paper.

Finish by letting the Mod Podge dry completely.

You can put a battery operated votive in the jar, you can add real flowers, or you can fill the jar with handmade flowers.

I like the idea of making flowers from card stock, adding a picture to the centre of one of the flowers, and using paper straws for stems. The result is simple and adorable!

You could also add a cute tag to your jar vase.

To download the tag I designed: right-click on one of the photos below, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 4X6 photo.

Cute, right? Happy Mother’s Day to all the lovely, hardworking ladies doing their best every day to make the world a better place. You are awesome!

(aka East Coast Mommy)

Tips for Feeding a Young Athletes

I am not a nutritionist or an expert on feeding high performance athletes, but I am a mom of three very active boys (7, 9, and 11) who are always moving and constantly hungry. Generally, I try to feed my boys a healthy and balanced diet, and on game days we stay away from high fat and fried foods. This often means having "easy to grab" snacks in the fridge and packing a cooler when we are on the road.

My boys (like most people) are more likely to eat make healthy choices if tasty and nutritious foods are easily available to them. Here are the types I food I generally feed my boys when we are "on the go":
  • low sugar cereal (which they love as a bedtime snack after a late game)
  • chicken wraps (mayo, chicken, shredded cheese, and whole wheat tortillas)
  • peanut butter wraps or sandwiches (peanut butter and whole wheat tortillas/bread)
  • hard boiled eggs (cooked and peeled)
  • salad or raw veggies
  • fruit (washed and ready to eat)... and don't forget bananas
  • unsweetened applesauce (it travels well)
  • pasta (warm noodles and spaghetti in a thermos or cold noodles with an olive oil based salad dressing)
  • cheese or cheese strings
  • yogurt
  • snacks (pretzels, crackers and hummus, granola bars, etc...)
  • Don't forget to pack dishes, utensils and a refillable water bottle!

Recently, I was given the opportunity to work with Hans Dairy*, and I was really impressed with their all natural dairy products. They are a small dairy company (run by two sisters) that truly understands that quality trumps quantity every time. Hans Dairy makes ready-to-eat products such as smoothies, lassies, rice pudding, whipped butter, and yogurt in their traditional and time honoured small-scale operation. Hans Dairy products are free of artificial sugars, flavourings, colourings, and preservatives... wonderful high protein and healthy options for my little athletes.

You can also enter here to win a Hans Dairy* prize pack. 

The blueberry and strawberry smoothies were my boys' favourites.

It can definitely be a challenge to keep busy children happy and well fed... especially when busy schedules keep you "on the go". I hope you find my tips useful, and I hope you get the chance to try some of the wonderful Hans Dairy* products. Let me know what you think!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

*Disclosure: I received compensation as part of my affiliation with Hans Dairy .... however (as always) the opinions on this blog are 100% my own... and my love for products that are 100% natural is real. I only ever promote products that my boys and I like and believe in.

Teaching Children to do Laundry... including a printable chore chart

Keeping up with my boys and their busy schedules is always a struggle, and the constant mountain of laundry they create doesn't help. I can't stop my hard-playing boys from getting sweaty and playing in the dirt... but I can teach them to help me get their clothes clean. Today, I am sharing some tips and tricks for teaching kids to help with the laundry, and I have created a handy laundry chore chart that breaks down tasks by age.

It's important to get kids involved early, and it is necessary to set them up for success by giving them age appropriate chores. Below, you will find a laundry chore chart that breaks down the laundry tasks (by age) in a way that allows children to build on their skills as they get older and more responsible.

To download a copy of this chore chart for free: right-click on the picture below, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 8X10 photo.

Young children (age 3 to 5) enjoy helping, and it is a good time to get them involved in the laundry process. They can easily put their clothes in the hamper. Encourage them to get the laundry ready for the hamper... separate the pieces, make sure the clothes aren't inside out, and empty the pockets.

As children get older (age 6 to 9), they can start to take on more responsibility when it comes to doing laundry. They can decide what is dirty and what can be re-worn... i.e. not everything has to be thrown into the laundry hamper! They can also help by matching socks, learning to fold (even thought it may not be the neatest), and carrying their clothes to their room(s).

At around age 10, mature children can really start taking their laundry assistance to the next level. Lessons on sorting and washing can begin, and they can start learning to put away their laundry in an organized way. Writing out instructions on how to use the washer, and letting the kids use laundry pods makes the job a little easier.

Recently, I was given the opportunity to try out the NEW Arm & Hammer 3 in 1 Power Paks*. These Power Paks will are easy to use, and they will cut your chore time and your budget -- while doing the top performance job you'd expect.

Did you know?
  • The simple, effective, all-in-one triple chamber system features the freshening power of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, the stain fighting strength of OxiClean, and a deep cleaning liquid laundry detergent to tackle tough stains and keep your clothes smelling fresher, longer.
  • Easy-to-use paks means no bulky bottles, spills or messes.
  • Cold water formula saves energy and money.
  • At just $0.19 per load versus $0.35 per load for other leading brands, this all-in-one detergent gives you the results you want at a fraction of the cost!
  • Arm & Hammer Plus OxiClean 3-in-1 Power Paks are available in Fresh Scent and Coldwater at mass drug and grocery retailers across Canada (including your local Loblaws store).

Do your kids help with the laundry? I'd love to hear your tips/tricks for getting them involved. Leave a comment below, or share your fresh experience with me online using #AHFreshPerspective.

(aka East Coast Mommy)

*Disclosure: I received compensation as part of my affiliation with Arm & Hammer .... however (as always) the opinions on this blog are 100% my own... and my love for products that save me time and money is real. I only ever promote products that my boys and I like and believe in.

Simple Dollar Store HACK for Organizing Kids' Games

When it comes to Spring cleaning, the dollar store can be your secret weapon. Inexpensive bins, baskets, and containers are perfect for organizing kids' stuff... especially in their playroom. And when it comes to the overwhelming task of getting organized, starting with small changes and projects is the key to success.

Recently, I noticed that my boys' card games were in boxes that were overstuffed and falling apart. I made a quick trip to the dollar store and picked up a couple of small containers that fit their games perfectly.

The containers stack perfectly too!

I love this simple solution for organizing my boys' games, and the games are now easier to take on the road too. It would work well for games with dice and small pieces too.

Do you use dollar store items to organize your kids stuff? You can read more about how I control the mountain of toys in my boys' playroom here.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Sock Puppets and Parenting Help... courtesy of Netflix

As parents, teaching our children important life skills and values is an important part of our job. Children are influenced by their friends, their teachers, and countless media sources (including TV, movies, apps, and games). Rather than trying to compete with all these outside influences, it can sometimes be easier to work with them. Watching TV together can spark conversations and inspire creative ideas for playing together. Recently, my boys and I made some DIY sock puppets inspired by popular Netflix* characters. We had a lot of fun creating a comedy show video together.

How cute are the puppets we made?

To make a Walter puppet: you'll need a blue sock for the body, clear wiggly eyes, black felt for the mouth, white felt for the teeth, blue pom poms for the belly, and a blue pipe cleaner for the antennas. You can use fabric or hot glue to attach everything.

To make a Kip puppet: you'll need an orange sock for the body, blue wiggly eyes, an orange pom pom for the nose, black felt for the mouth, white felt for the teeth, a tan felt circle for the belly, and orange felt for the ears. You can use fabric or hot glue to attach everything.

To make a Peri puppet: you'll need a tan sock for the body, black yarn for the hair, pink wiggly eyes, pearls for the necklace, and pink tulle for the skirt. You can use fabric or hot glue to attach everything.

Check out the puppet show my boys performed with their sock puppets. Don't you love when your kids tell jokes?

Do you use your kids' favourite shows as a way to communicate with them and spend time together? According to Common Sense Media, entertainment can be a strong tool for teaching empathy as it showcases strong, supportive bonds between characters of diverse backgrounds and perspectives, for example. Fuller House is a favourite with my boys, and it has helped us have conversations about the importance of family, compromise, and working together.

What are some of your kids' favourite shows and characters on Netflix? Have you used any of these shows/characters to talk to your kids about their values and/or teach them about important like skills? I hope you enjoy my boys' puppets and video. Perhaps you'll be inspired to spend some time creating your own Netflix production with your little ones.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

*Disclosure: I receive special gifts and perks as part of my affiliation with Netflix.... however (as always) the opinions on this blog are 100% my own.
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