Children’s Activities

Weekend Snapshot


Decorating gingerbread houses is an annual holiday tradition in our family. This year’s two-house event was definitely scaled down compared to last year’s village creation, but we still had a messy fun time and Jason’s house definitely achieved a new record of colorfulness. Before we began, I separated all of the green, red and white Jelly Bellies from the rainbow of colors … to maintain a common palette, of course. Somewhere along the way, however,  Jason discovered the banned colors and covered his roof in them. And I have to admit, his house is my favorite one yet. (more…)

Flower Shop: Floral Arranging with Kids

Ideas and tips for letting your children create floral centerpieces for holiday meals and other family gatherings. Such a great way to get young children involved in holiday gatherings.

Last year, we visited relatives for Thanksgiving and my aunt had a perfect activity to involve my then-five-year-old daughter in the preparation of the Thanksgiving meal: making flower arrangements for the table. My first thought was, scissors, glass, water? Been around young children much? But then I watched my daughter carefully pour, cut, and arrange to her heart’s content. She loved creating the centerpieces, and it turned out to be a simple and easy way to involve her in what is often a hectic day of kitchen mayhem.

This Thanksgiving, I brought back the tradition of Jenna-created floral centerpieces. And it was such a hit, I think she’s officially in charge of all future floral arrangements chez Dyer. (more…)

Countdown to Christmas: Teaching Kids to Give

Instead of an advent calendar, I'm sending my kids secret letters that will encourage them to give back this holiday season.

Now that Thanksgiving is a wrap, we’re turning our attention to Christmas, which immediately brings to mind the subject of advent calendars. While I love the way advent calendars weave holiday excitement into the month of December, I’ve never been a big fan of giving our children extra gifts leading up to a day full of even more gifts.

This year, I’m trying a new way of counting down to the big day – one that I hope will place more emphasis on giving than receiving. I’ll share the details of the plan on the Tiny Prints blog next week. In the meantime, I’ve posted a free editable Photoshop template here and be sure to check out the Tiny Prints holiday collection

Update 12/1/2014

Check out the Tiny Prints blog for more details on our approach to counting down to Christmas this year, including top ideas for getting your children involved in charitable giving. (more…)

Thanksgiving Table: Last-Minute Name Card Ideas

Simple last-minute place card ideas for your Thanksgiving table.

When I wrapped up this project for my recent guest post on Modern Parents, Messy Kids, I was feeling well ahead of the Thanksgiving curve. Our linens were hand-stamped, our turkey napkin holders were created, and we still had several weeks to wrap up any outstanding details.

Now we’re less than 2 days from Thanksgiving, and the possibility of my daughter creating place cards using post-it notes is becoming more likely. Sadly, it wouldn’t be the first time she made impromptu name cards with post-it notes.

To avoid this fate, I’ve assembled a few ideas for super simple place cards, all of which use easy-to-find materials. Now I just have to choose a favorite.

Sources: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8


Technology and Tinkering

Some thoughts on kids, technology and the new Tinker Crates from Kiwi Crate.

I read quite a bit about children and technology. As someone who works in the tech industry, the contradiction between being a designer who is constantly seeking out ‘the latest’ and being a parent who is simultaneously sheltering my kids from this same tendency is something I think about almost daily.

While we have boundaries in place like most parents (though I’ve read that parents in the tech industry tend to be stricter about screen time and device usage), we still struggle with creating a balance between ‘real’ and digital experiences. And as my kids made me realize last weekend when I looked out my window and saw the scene above, they don’t seem aware of a difference between real and digital.  (more…)

A Pokemon Party

A Pokemon Birthday Party: Great Ideas for Party Activities and non-sugary foods to serve.

Last weekend we hosted Jason’s Pokemon Birthday Party. Prior to planning this party, I knew very little about Pokemon, but I think my research paid off and I pulled together the theme pretty well. Based solely on the fact that my daughter is now requesting a Pokemon party for her next birthday, I’m concluding that the party was a success by the kids’ measures as well. But that might have been the pinata envy talking. (more…)

Slime Specimens for Halloween

Make this simple, all-natural slime. A perfect classroom activity or gift for kids this Halloween.


Last weekend we made slime – slippery, stretchy, silky slime. Jason and Jenna loved it, and I realized it would make a great classroom gift or party activity for Halloween. I was thinking about packaging small samples into bags or clear jars and using Halloween labels like these or these. What child wouldn’t want some chopped bat brain or fresh rat heart specimens for Halloween?  (more…)

Favorite Places: Legoland

Legoland has been one of our favorite places in to visit for years and now they have a new water park!

Legoland Discovery Center has been one of my children’s favorite places to visit since they opened a few years ago. We are huge Lego fans (as evidenced by Jason’s 6th and 7th birthday parties), and this weekend, we visited the new pirate-themed splash park that was added earlier in the month.

With temperatures still hovering around 90 degrees in Texas, it was the perfect afternoon to run around splashing in the sun and playing with large Lego bricks. (more…)

Summer Trend: Hair Chalk

Hair Chalk: A fun way to temporarily color children's hair without the mess of spray-on colors

Earlier this summer, we attended a birthday party that had all of the stuff that makes children’s parties awesome – face painting, balloon animals, pinatas and even a hair-coloring station. Jenna was especially excited to get her hair colored, and, while I secretly cringed at the thought of spraying her already tangled hair with sticky spray, I let her join in the fun. She, of course, was thrilled with the results:

Use hair chalk as a safer, easier way to temporarily color children's hair

This weekend, we came across Alex’s Hair Chalk at the store and I immediately recognized the appeal. All of the fun of temporary hair coloring without the mess and chemicals of aerosol sprays.

The hair chalk is really easy to use and the results can vary based on how you apply it. I applied it to Jenna’s dry hair (and Jason even applied a few streaks to his own) for a more subtle effect, but I’ve also read that you can apply it to damp hair and spray it with hairspray for a more intense color.

Hair Chalk

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Making Fresh Pasta with Children

Cooking with Jason and Jenna is something I wish I did more often. They’re getting older, but I don’t always recognize how much they can handle these days – especially Jenna who loves to help out in the kitchen. This weekend was a serious reminder of just how much that little girl can do.

Making Fresh Pasta with Kids

On Friday night, I made a batch of pasta and saved some dough so that Jenna could make her own noodles the next day. I thought it would mostly be for fun and didn’t really think we’d end up with an edible batch. But the fettuccine noodles for lunch, shown above, were almost entirely Jenna’s creation.

The dough was already prepared, a step I’ll likely do in advance next time too since I used a semolina pasta recipe, which is a little hard to knead. Once I showed her how to flatten a piece of the dough and guide it through the KitchenAid attachment, she worked through the entire batch. My only role was adjusting the levels during the flattening step and turning off the power between each piece.

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve made fresh pasta, but now that I have a helper, I’ll be making it more often!

Making Fresh Pasta with Kids