Article: Fun & Easy Paints for Children
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    Founder Sara Noel's Avatar
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    Default Article: Fun & Easy Paints for Children

    Time flies when you're having fun - The miles fly by too! You can make a long family car trip seem a lot shorter if you have fun with your kids along the way. Plan ahead with a few car activities, and making the journey can be as much fun as the destination. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

    Make a Trip-Journal or Scrapbook Give everyone a big spiral bound sketchpad and a box of crayons or markers. Each day of the trip or for each event along the way, draw a picture of what you did that day, or draw a map of where you went, and write about it. You can also paste in souvenirs.

    Get a Good Songbook With All the Lyrics It surprising how many songs you think you know, but you don't really know all the words. Have a singing marathon and learn the old classics by heart.

    Give Your Kids an Allowance for the Day Tell them that this money is for snacks, treats, souvenirs etc. Help them learn to budget their money and make good choices.

    Let Your Children Have a Map Give your kids their own copy of a map of where you are going. Show them how far you have come, how much further there is to go and let them mark it with a crayon. Every time someone asks "How much further?" let them see for themselves. You might also like to get a compass and show them how it works along with the map.

    Have Bubble Gum Blowing Contests …The weirder the gum the better. Get it at the rest areas and try all the different flavors.

    The License Plate Game Print a U.S. map off the computer and color in the states as you see license plates from each one. See if you can get all 50 states between Memorial Day and Labor Day. You might even record the time and date and the state where you saw it. This can be a family project as you build your "collection" of license plates together.

    Cats Cradle or String Loops You just need a piece of string for this one. See if you can make "Jacob's Ladder", "Kitty Whiskers", or play Cats Cradle!

    Magnetic Board Games Do your children know how to play classic board games like Chess, Backgammon, Checkers, or Chinese Checkers? What better time to learn than in the car to pass the time! The magnetic car versions of these games are nice because they are small and compact, and have easy ways to store the pieces so they don't get lost.

    Counting Cows Count the cows you see on your side of the car. If you pass a cemetery on your side of the car, you lose all your cows. The one with the most cows wins.

    Read Out Loud This passes the time quickly in the car for the reader and for the family members who are listening.

    Lego Contest Have a contest to see who can build the best item that relates to where you are going. Use a shoebox to store the Legos, or large zip lock bags.

    Guess How Far Away That Is Pick an object and have everyone guess how far away it is, then clock it on your odometer.

    Play Favorites Have everyone think of different "favorite" questions for the group. What's your favorite... movie, flavor of ice cream, song, game, toy, place to visit, restaurant, book, animal, fish, etc. Be creative and don't forget to ask the driver too!

    Aluminum Art Give everyone a sheet of aluminum foil. Have them mold it into anything they want: animal shapes, Frisbees, balls, jewelry, crowns, headband, necklaces and masks. Be creative. It's inexpensive fun and easy to clean up. Toddlers love this one too.

    Remember that it's sometimes nice to sit in the back of the van with your kids while Dad is doing the driving and play some games right along side them. You might be surprised at how much fun you have too. Happy travels!

    About the author: Laurel Smith is a former schoolteacher and currently a stay-at-home-mom who has logged thousands of road trip miles both as a kid and a mom. If you pass her on the highway, you might catch her singing loudly in her minivan while her three children sing backup. Visit her website for more than 101 travel games and activities for kids at http://www.MomsMinivan.com

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    Founder Sara Noel's Avatar
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    Default Article: Fun & Easy Paints for Children

    In a child's mind, any time is a good time to paint. With these easy-to-make and easy-to-clean paint recipes, adults will have to agree.

    1. Easy Face Paint
    This is the easiest to make (and easiest to clean) recipe for face paint. Separate colors with a muffin tin or an egg carton. Place a spoonful of cold cream into each cup. Add 1 or 2 drops of different colors of food coloring to the cold cream, and stir. Apply the face paint using a clean paintbrush or cotton swabs.

    2. Spiffy-Sniffy Watercolors
    Your artwork will smell terrific with this simple watercolor recipe. Use a small cup for each color. Mix one package of powdered drink mix (Kool-Aid) with 2 tablespoons of warm water for each color. Stir until the powder dissolves. Once all of the colors are prepared, use a clean paintbrush to paint sweet-smelling pictures.

    3. Window Paint
    Turn your windows, patio doors and mirrors into works of art. Mix together equal parts dishwashing liquid and washable liquid paint or powdered tempera. Children will love the process of painting and adults will love the end result: the paint wipes off easily with a dry paper towel.

    4. Foamy Bath Paint
    Encourage children to paint undersea adventure scenes while taking their evening baths. To make bath paints, simply mix together shaving cream with a drop of food coloring. Dip a paintbrush, or better yet, your fingers, into the mix and start creating!

    Fun Tip:
    To level the playing field between painters of different ages and artistic abilities, place paintbrushes between your toes and paint with your feet!

    About the Author:
    Deborah Shelton is a mother, freelance writer, and author of the brand new book, "The Five Minute Parent: Fun & Fast Activities for You and Your Little Ones." Visit Deborah's website for more family-friendly ideas, and a free email newsletter. http://www.fiveminuteparent.com

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    Founder Sara Noel's Avatar
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    Default Article: Family Fun on a Budget

    When you and your family are on a tight budget, sometimes one of the first things to be cut out is money for entertainment.

    When our 3 children were small, my husband and I always tried to find fun things to do as a family that didn't make a huge dent in our budget.

    One thing we recommend is setting aside one night a week for "Family Fun Night". Turn off the TV and the phone and do something together. It doesn't have to be an expensive outing, but do plan ahead and let the children have some input into your plan.

    Here are some ideas for 'family fun on a budget'.

    1. Take a walk through your neighborhood. Say hello to everyone you meet, whether you know them or not. Point out to your children some of the beautiful things in nature, maybe the beautiful sunset, someone's pretty flowers, the clouds in the sky.

    Teaching them to enjoy and appreciate simple things is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your children. When you arrive back home, treat yourselves to homemade ice cream sundaes!

    2. A great source of cheap entertainment is your public library. At our library, we can check out family videos and jigsaw puzzles as well as books. Check out a video the whole family can enjoy and
    pop some popcorn (maybe the old-fashioned way-- some children don't even know there's any other kind but microwave popcorn!)

    3. Have a family picnic in the park. Let the kids help prepare the food--make sandwiches, pack an ice chest, make cookies for dessert. The town we lived in when our children were small, had a nice park with lots of playground equipment. It was a real treat for them.

    4. During the school year, we took advantage of entertainment the school had to offer. For example, a couple of times a year, the high school band has a free band concert. The Christmas concert was always our favorite. Some schools have drama clubs that offer plays from time to time. If you live in a college town, you will have access to even more opportunity for free or low-cost concerts and plays.

    5. In the summer, set aside one night to make home- made ice cream. Invite grandparents to come over and talk about the "old days". Maybe you would even like to go so far as to make the ice cream with a hand cranked freezer. If your parents don't live close, think about inviting an older couple or person from your neighborhood. They will enjoy it and so will your children!

    6. During the winter months, when it's impossible to get outdoors, make some hot chocolate and read aloud a classic book, in installments. Research shows that children who are read to from an early age, are better readers themselves.

    I'm sure you get the idea by now. What you do on family night may not be as important as just doing it! Keep it simple and fun!

    --Good character, like good soup, is usually homemade!--

    Cyndi Roberts has been happily married to her best friend for 34 years and is a proud mother of 3. In her newsletter, "1 Frugal Friend 2 Another" she uses her years of experience as a wife, mother and chief budget officer to help others learn how to "live the good life...on a budget!" To subscribe, visit her online at http://www.cynroberts.com

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    I like the family picnics. We let the kids pack what they want to eat so everyone is happy lol
    We sometimes take old bread to feed the ducks The kids love it,and it's super cheap!!

    Edited to add: We also do a yearly picnic in May with some of Steve's family.We all pack a lunch and meet at a huge park.His aunt rents a pavillion and we make a day out of it.
    There's about 20-25 of us that go. I look forward to seeing everyone and having some adult conversation

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    Great article!!!! We do many of the above on a regular basis.

    Other things we do:
    ~Go fishing at the juvenile fish pond right outside of town and take a picnic with us. We might even catch a few frogs while we are there!
    ~We live near colleges and take advantage of free concerts and events there.
    ~Win prizes in radio trivia contests. Today we cashed in 2 pizza coupons (free), 1 video coupon(free) and a car wash (free) coupon.
    ~Have a family devotions night with singing and sharing.
    ~Invite friends over for a potluck meal and game night.
    ~Get together with friends for a softball game, sledding, or basketball game depending on the season.
    ~Have a backwards dinner where you get to have dessert first.
    ~Take in a free concert at the park.
    ~Go camping at a no fee campground.

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    Registered User Mom23boys's Avatar
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    ~Have a backwards dinner where you get to have dessert first.
    Great idea Debbie. I never thought of that. I bet that would be fun. My kids would be in shock!!

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    Many years ago, when I was young The Girls from church & I would have a "Progressive Supper" We would start out at the first house...go to the second house...then go to the last house. We would do this every few months. Everyone took turns.

    One would do the Appetizer

    Next would do the Main meal

    Last would do the Dessert

    This was loads of fun!

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    Registered User duckduckgoose007's Avatar
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    oops forgot to tell you...back then we recruited our Moms to do the cooking
    After we were all married we still did it a few times...no kids ..just us girls! Boy, I haven't thought of this in a long time...

    Good Memories

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