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DIY: Study Rooms for Kids

September 8, 2014

By Nikki Cecala

DIY: Study Rooms for Kids | A photo of the YOU Parent Pinterest board called DIY: Study Rooms for Kids

Your child has returned to school and you’re noticing the homework and studying is getting heavy. School books are scattered on the kitchen table, notebooks are opened on the coffee table in the living room, and pens and highlighters appear magically throughout the house. Why not make a study room for your son or daughter?

Your first thought may be that you do not have the funds for such a wonderful idea. But making a study room does not have to be expensive. You probably already have everything you need without realizing it. You really only need three things for the foundation of a great study room: location, furniture, and accessories. We even created a Pinterest board to inspire you.

First, you and your child need to agree on a location. Maybe you have a junk closet that you can clean out. Maybe you have a mudroom or a window recess that can be put to great use. Maybe you have an inside back porch that nobody uses. Maybe you don’t have an extra room but have a corner of a room you can section off with a simple hanging curtain. Find somewhere private, quiet, and peaceful. Does the space have access to a view or window? Imagine what would help you focus and get work done and ask your child what would help him or her.

You won’t need to go out and buy all new furniture, but you will need a table and chair. Depending on the space, you can add shelving. I recommend wall shelving because it is space-friendly and inexpensive. A cabinet would be another good piece of furniture to use in this room, as it could store supplies like notebooks, pencils, rulers, calculators, and any other study materials that could clutter up the area.

This is the fun part! Let your son or daughter get creative. Allow him or her to hang pictures, add a clock, a corkboard, a calendar, etc. I recommend a motivational board to help inspire and keep your child focused.

If you need ideas on how to utilize a closet or make cute accessories, visit our DIY: Study Rooms for Kids board on Pinterest. We will be adding to it regularly, so follow the board for the latest updates.

Where have you created space for your child’s studying? Tell me in the comments below.


Too Hot To Play Outside: Fun Indoor Activities

July 17, 2014

By Nikki Cecala

Too Hot To Play Outside: Fun Indoor Activities | Fruity freeze pops and blueberries sit in a bowl.

I always recommend playing outside as much as you can when summertime rolls around. There are countless benefits to playing outside, including fresh air and space for exercise. But when the summer heats up, it’s crucial to know when it’s too hot for your child and to have some fun indoor activities ready to go.

Did you know that children heat up faster than adults do? Not only do they have faster metabolic rates, but also they don’t sweat as much as adults. So even if you’re not uncomfortable in the heat yet, your child could be at risk for heat-related illness.

According to these weather guidelines for children, 80°F or below is considered safe and comfortable for children. Anything above 90°F is considered uncomfortable and can be hazardous to your child’s health. Humidity also plays a factor, so use your best judgment based on where you live and continually check in with your child.

Look at the weather forecast every day. If the temperature is expected to rise above 90°F, it is safer to keep children indoors than to risk playing outside. Playing indoors can be just as much fun with these easy and entertaining activities:

Twister. Any type of board game would do, but Twister can be a lot of fun! It’s not messy, doesn’t require a lot of space, and children love attempting to be as flexible as possible to reach all the colored circles.

Fruity freeze pops. These are so simple and refreshing that I wish I knew about them when I was a kid! There are many ways to make these. In an ice cube tray, add cut up fruits and fill the rest of each cube with yogurt. Wait until frozen and enjoy! You can also blend fruits in a smoothie maker and pour the liquids in an ice cube tray with a wooden stick.

Scavenger hunt. Anything that involves frantically running through the house without getting in trouble is exciting for children. Hide some objects and make a list of what you hid. Give the list to your child and allow him or her a certain amount of time to find these objects. If you have a bigger family, you can add points to the objects found and whoever has the most points wins!

Video Games. No, I do not mean place your child in front of a TV for hours. There are many fun and active family games that you can all play on the Wii and PlayStation. My kids and I love Just Dance and Wii Fit. My favorite game on Wii Fit is the Hula Hoop®. I look ridiculous and everyone gets a good laugh!

Even if it’s too hot to play outside, your family can still have fun with these indoor activities. Remember that it’s sometimes safer to keep the kids indoors during hot days.

What are some of your family’s favorite indoor activities? Tell me in the comments below.


Fireworks Safety

July 3, 2014

By Nikki Cecala

People gather to watch a brilliant, professional-grade fireworks show.

There are many ways to celebrate Independence Day but fireworks are the notorious winner. Fireworks are a big part of the celebration and from a distance they can be very beautiful. But up close, they can be extremely dangerous. There are almost 9,000 fireworks victims treated in U.S. hospitals each year. 44 percent of those injured are children under 20 years old.

The Facts:

The only way to prevent a firework injury is to not play with or be near any fireworks. Regardless of their ages, do not give children access to standard fireworks. Novelty fireworks such as smoke bombs, snakes, and party poppers are safer for children but should still be supervised by an adult.

Instead, I recommend making homemade noisemakers to make your own ruckus in the celebration. Younger children are mostly attracted to firework noises, so these noisemakers are an easy and safe way for them to participate. Put uncooked rice in an empty plastic bottle, tightening the cap, and shake. Or give them a box of macaroni and cheese that you haven’t opened yet. You would be surprised how fun shaking these bottles and boxes can be for a young child.

The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. If someone is setting fireworks off at home or if you are attending a party where someone has fireworks, they should follow these safety rules:

  • Do not let small children light fireworks.
  • Keep water buckets near as a precaution and have a fire extinguisher available.
  • Wear eye protection when lighting fireworks and light one firework at a time.
  • Do not relight a dud, or a firework that doesn’t explode. After waiting at least 15 minutes, move the dud into a water bucket to let it soak. Throw it out the next day.
  • Do not throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, buildings, or flammable materials.
  • Leave any area immediately if you do not feel safe.

Sometimes the best seat in the house is your backyard or front porch. Use your best judgment on the location for viewing fireworks. And remember, have fun!

Tags :  holidaysafetyDIYphysicalactivitiesfamily fun

DIY: Lemonade Stand

June 30, 2014

By Nikki Cecala

A girl and boy stand smiling behind a lemonade stand.

Lemonade stands are a great way to introduce children to business and money while under your supervision. It’s also easy to start up and can be a lot of fun! Operating a lemonade stand teaches your child responsibility, the value of money, how to improve interactions with people, and encourages the entrepreneurial spirit. It’s a great activity for children ages three and above with adult supervision.

There are only a few steps to starting a lemonade stand.

First, check the laws in your city. City officials have the right to shut down a lemonade stand or hand out fines if operating a stand without a license. Check the guidelines first.

Second, choose the type of lemonade you wish to make. Lemons (these are healthier!) or lemonade powder?

If you’re making the lemonade from powder, decide how sweet or sour you want to make it. Experiment by adding a few extra spoonfuls of sugar to the pitcher at a time. Let your child determine how tart or sweet it is so he or she can take ownership of the product.

If you’re using lemons, roll them on a table first, as this will help get more juice out when you squeeze them. Then cut each lemon in half and squeeze out the juice. Add it to a pitcher with water and sugar and mix well using a big spoon. Slice an extra lemon and add the slices to the pitcher for decoration and added flavor. If you would like to be more creative with your lemonade, try adding strawberries for an additional refreshing flavor.

Third, choose a location. If you really want your child’s business to succeed, I recommend the local park or beach. Of course, you can also display the stand in front of your house or somewhere safe in your neighborhood.

Check the weather forecast so you can bring enough sunscreen, water, or an umbrella. Make the stand look presentable but noticeable enough to lure customers in. Have a neatly written, personable sign that indicates the cost per cup and whatever else your child is offering along with the beverage. Help your child come up with a clever name so if he or she continues to host the stand throughout the summer, people may recognize and remember the unique business name.

Here are a few more items you should bring to the stand:

  • Ice
  • Cooler (for keeping ice and lemonade cold)
  • Cups
  • Cash box (with coins for breaking change)
  • Folding chairs for sitting

At the end of your child’s lemonade stand business, I recommend making a journal of the experience, profits, and lessons learned with your child. Go over the pros and cons, make recommendations, and ask your child’s opinion of the experience and what he or she would do differently. This will help your child further succeed with any future lemonade stands or other businesses he or she may be interested in.

Check out Lemonade Day, a website that helps children dip their feet in the entrepreneurial world with a 14-step process that inspires children to follow their dreams and educate them about operating small businesses. See what dates the National Lemonade Day celebration begins in your town!


7 DIY Rainy Day Adventures

May 22, 2014

Article and Photograph by Nikki Cecala

The author's one-year-old son and her 11-year-old step son play in a DIY fort.

Most people look at rainy days as sad, gloomy days, but for families, they can be an enjoyable bonding experience. Rainy days are a great opportunity to shut off phones, cancel plans, and just stay inside and catch up on family engagements. There are wonderful low-cost adventures that are great for children of any age. Here are some examples and the benefits these simple games have that you may not have recognized.

Build a fort or an indoor obstacle course
If you don’t have boxes lying around, grab a bed sheet and throw it over the kitchen table. You can also put blankets and pillows under the table and tell stories or read a book together. If you have furniture you can easily move around, create obstacles using pillows, blankets, and sheets.

Play hide and seek
You are never too old for this game and it gets better as you get older! Be creative with your hiding spots but also accessible if you are playing with younger children. Hide and seek is a great game to get children wildly excited and physically active while indoors.

Imaginary playtime
Children love playtime and it assistances with brain development. You are giving the child an opportunity to be imaginative and artistic all by themselves. By letting them play “grown up,” they are unconsciously making life decisions and choices based on pure observation. Warning: this can be extremely adorable to witness.

Make some noise
Have a dance party! Kids are full of energy, so what better way for them to release it than through music and dance? If you aren’t the dancing kind, make instruments out of household objects like macaroni in a plastic soda bottle or use wooden spoons as a drum set. Either way, turn up the music and get silly!

Indoor scavenger hunt
Make a list of 30 or 40 harmless, nontoxic objects and hide them throughout the house for your child to find. You can time the scavenger hunt or attach points to it to make it more challenging and exciting, depending on the child’s age and skill level.

Play board games or cards
Board games play a crucial role in recognizing numbers, shapes, grouping, letter recognition, and reading. It also enhances visual perception, color recognition, and hand-eye coordination. Depending on the game, you could also be teaching your child life skills such as decision-making and showing the cause and effect of one’s choices.

Puzzles teach your child critical thinking and concentration skills. A younger child will learn shape recognition, from more basic shapes such as triangles and circles to more complex shapes used in jigsaw puzzles. Puzzles also enhance a child’s memory as he or she tries to remember the shape of pieces that don’t fit or will fit somewhere else later on.

Invent a family rainy day adventure yourself!
Take this opportunity to invent a tradition with your family that you all can do when it’s gloomy outside. The list is never-ending! It also gives you and your child something to look forward to on rainy days instead of moping around the house trying to find something to do.

Tags :  physicalfamily funactivitiesDIYbudget
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