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Back to School Countdown Chain

Back to school is around the corner, so I wanted share this back to school countdown chain I made with my boys.  Each chain link contains a fun activity we can do together.

Isn't it cute? I love how my boys' adorable faces are peeking out of the windows of the bus.

I am sharing the full step by step tutorial over at CBC Parents today.  Pop on over and check it out.

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Cinnamon Sugar Campfire Snack

I have found the best campfire snack... seriously. The boys and I tried it out last weekend (with our new backyard fire pit), and it turned out fantastic! If you like cinnamon, you are going to love this cinnamon sugar campfire snack

To make this great alternative to s'mores, you'll need: a marshmallow roasting fork, tin foil, canned biscuit dough, butter, cinnamon, and sugar.

Then, just follow these simple directions:

1) Cover a roasting fork with tin foil.
2) Stretch out a piece of biscuit dough, and wrap it around the roasting fork.
3) Spread some butter over the dough.
4) Sprinkle both sides with a cinnamon/sugar mixture (1/4 cup white sugar and 1/2 tbsp cinnamon)
5) Roast over a very hot fire as close to the heat source as possible until it is no longer "doughy". 
6) Allow to cool slight, and then enjoy!

This is such a delicious alternative to roasting marshmallows.  If you give this cinnamon sugar campfire snack a try, let me know what you think.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Summer Checklist Update... and a fun idea for capturing summer smiles

Summer is flying by, and the boys and I are still working on completing all the items on our Summer Checklist.  With two weeks to go before school starts, we have completed 35 of the 50 items on our list.  Yesterday we completed #36 -- have a dance party in the living room -- and let me tell you... my boys have some serious dance moves!

My boys make me smile all the time, and as a KINDERMom, I am excited to share KINDER's fantastic new app with you.  #KinderSmiles is a fun and interactive way for parents to capture and share moments of joy in a playful way.  Once you're a KINDER® fan, it's just a few simple steps:

Step 1: Like KINDER® on Facebook

Step 2: Start your photo-strip

Step 3: Upload your photos

Step 4: Choose a fancy KINDER® frame

Step 5: Choose a filter

Step 6: Save & share

It's an easy way to capture summer memories.  My strip includes pictures of my boys hosting a lemonade stand for charity, my boys at my 5 year old's pirate party, and my boys at my 7 year old's spy party.  So many #KinderSmiles, and so much summer fun!

What has been the highlight of your summer so far?  Do you have any "must do" items left on your summer bucket list?

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

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

Alphabet Crafts - Letter Z

Last week my youngest son and I completed the last craft in our "crafting our way through the alphabet" adventure.  We made an adorable Zebra mask (from a paper plate), and we did a little letter Z printing practice.

To make a zebra mask:

1) Cut two "eye holes" from a paper plate.
2) Cut a strip of black construction paper for the mane, and cut slits 3/4 of the way down the paper.
3) Cut a round circle from a piece of black construction paper. Glue mane and snout onto the paper plate.
4) Cut ears from a piece of cardstock. Color the inside of the ears pink.
5) Draw zebra stripes with a marker, and color them in with a black crayon.
6) Glue two pink buttons onto the snout.
7) Allow all the glue to dry, and then tape a popsicle stick onto the back.

After our craft, we did a little printing practice. If you want to practice printing the letter Z with your little one, right click on the picture below, save it to your computer, and print it.

That's it!  We have finally completed a our 26 alphabet crafts.  It was a really fun project for my little guy and myself.  Have you made any of my alphabet crafts with your child?

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

7 Tips for Planning a Successful DIY Party for Kids

Children’s parties don’t need to be elaborate to be fun, and they shouldn’t be stressful for parents. So, today I am sharing my tips for hosting easy, inexpensive, and memorable parties for kids.

1) Plan ahead.  Do as much as you can before the day of the party so that when the big day arrives, you can enjoy it without being totally stressed out. Decide how many people you will be inviting, where you will host the party, and the date and time that will work best for you and your guests. I like to have a party in the afternoon because it gives me the entire morning to get everyone and everything ready. I also like to schedule 1-½ hours for the party. We never spend time opening gifts (as we always ask guests to bring a $2 coin in lieu of a gift), so this seems to be the proper amount of time for us. If you are opening gifts, I would suggest 2 hours.

2)  Pick a theme.  A theme will influence the invitation, the decorations, and the activities at the party. It can revolve around a character, a sport, an activity, or a color scheme. Having a theme is really about having something that ties all the elements of the party together. This year my five year old chose a Jake and the Neverland Pirates Party, and my seven year old chose a Spy Party.

3)  Add a personal touch. You can bake a special cake, craft your own decorations, or cook your signature dish to serve to guests. The unique DIY details are what the guests will remember.

4)  Have a schedule written out. You’ll have to be flexible, but a rough guide is definitely helpful. I always like to have a simple craft or activity to keep the kids busy until all the guests have arrived. Then, we eat, play games or make crafts, take a group photo, and serve the cake.

5)  Make sure that the activities at the party are fun, simple and age appropriate. You can play games, decorate cupcakes, or do a craft. If you have a large group, breaking the kids up into smaller groups can be helpful in keeping everything under control.

6)  Make sure everyone leaves with a small gift or loot bag. I try to come up with something that goes with the theme of the party. For our spy party, I put together little spy kits in a brown paper bags that were marked “top secret”. It’s a fun way to let your guests know that you appreciate having them celebrate with you.

7)  Relax and enjoy the party. Little ones are surprisingly easy to please. If good friends, music, balloons, and cake surround them, all will have a good time.

What's your best tip when planning a successful DIY party for kids?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Alphabet Crafts - Letter Y

My youngest son and I are "crafting our way through the alphabet", and today we had some fun with the Letter Y.  We did a Yarn craft, made a yo-yo, and did a little Letter Y printing practice.

To make the yarn sewing card:

1) Cut a "Y" shape from a cereal box or other piece of thin cardboard.
2) Use a hole punch to make holes around the perimeter of the shape.
3) Attach a piece of yarn to a piece of pipe cleaner, and use the "needle and thread" to weave the yarn around the shape.

Then, to make a water balloon yo-yo:

1) Take a normal size balloon (not a water balloon) and add a small amount of water.
2) Tie the end of the balloon.
3) Add an elastic band to the end of the balloon.
4) Start "yo-yo"ing!

After our craft, we did a little printing practice.  If you want to practice printing the letter Y with your little one, right click on the picture below, save it to your computer, and print it.

Fun, right? Next up, the letter Z.  I can't believe we have almost finished our "crafting our way through the alphabet" adventure!

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Alphabet Crafts - Letter X

We took a short summer break, but we are now finishing up our "crafting through the alphabet" adventure.  Yesterday, we made a Xylophone craft and did some letter X printing practice.

To make a paper xylophone:

1) Cut strips of construction paper in various colors, and have the child cut the strips into smaller and smaller sizes.
2) Glue the strips onto a piece of cardstock.
3) Glue a couple of pom poms onto coffee stir sticks to create xylophone mallets.

Cute, right?  After our craft, we did a little letter X printing practice.  To practice writing the letter X with your little one, right click on the picture below, save it to your computer, and print.

Fun, right? Next up... the Letter Y!

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)
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