This week’s pre-dinner craft with the grandkids were mail carrier bags made from recycled grocery bags. I cut off the top portion of the bag (to acccommadate their size) and punched holes on each side of the bag. A piece of twine was threaded through the holes. The twine ends were knotted and secured in place with packing tape.
I happen to have plenty of shipping stickers since my business ships daily. I dispensed a few of those along with stamps and mailing labels I printed online.
With scissors and double sided tape in hand, the kids decorated their carrier bags and filled them with junk mail I had saved. I also gave them envelopes to address. They filled the envelope with papers that were earmarked for the trash.
I recycled small postal boxes and the kids stuff small goodies into them and taped closed. I never thought I could find a use for the massive amount of junk mail I receive. This project recycles some of that paper, if only for a brief time.
My grand kids [age 3, 5 and 8] played with their mail carrier bags while I prepared dinner. We are storing them for future play time.
Fischer stuffing his bag with mail.
The 2012 Leap Year fell on a Wednesday. I loved it because the grand kids stay every Wednesday for an overnight. As usual, Blimpy Girl, NeeNee, had a fun pre-dinner event planned.
Frog puppets were on the agenda. I had a device that allows you to record sounds. I recorded a croaking frog sound and then hid the recorder under the paper bag. Every time the kids tapped the counter, the frog would croak. They loved it!
Twelve frog heads were hidden around the house for the kids to find. Three of those were marked for special prizes. This week there were no monetary prizes. Instead the kids searched for three coupons:
- I get to pick the movie for the night
- I get a special NeeNee and Poppy day
- I get to pick who I want to sleep with on my overnight stay (oddly enough, they fight over who gets to sleep with us).
Here is the printable paper bag puppet. Hope your little peeps enjoy it as much as mine did. I also included a coloring page and maze.
The grand kids missed Fat Tuesday at my house, so we made it a Fat Wednesday. Instead of Paczki, we had a baked apple, raspberry and strawberry dessert. Topped off with whipped cream, of course.
The kids loved that I designated dessert as the first course for this special celebration and they decorated Mardi Gras masks while waiting for dinner. My friend, Mike, who lives in Louisiana, shared with me what Mardi Gras really means (outside of the publicized craziness).
“The “real” Mardi Gras is truly a family event with lots of floats, parades, Gumbo cook-off’s, Cochon de lait (roasting a whole pig), BBQ, and really just visiting with everyone in town that shows up for the “from Fri night to Tuesday evening” party that goes on along the 5 mile parade route. There are 11 different parades during that time and somewhere around 250 floats with people throwing beads and playing Cajun music, and everyone keeps their shirts and blouses in the down position here.”
- Shredded apple, no need to peel
- Fresh raspberries, 5-6 per serving
- Fresh strawberries, one per serving
- Low-fat whipped cream in a can
- Pinch or two of ground cinnamon
I used three (4) ounce porcelain ramekins for this recipe.
Place 1/3 layer shredded apples in each ramekin, add 1 tablespoon applesauce and a sprinkle of cinnamon powder. Top with 5-6 fresh raspberries.
Bake in 375 degree oven for 12 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Place a whole strawberry in the center of each dish and garnish with whipped cream and cinnamon powder. It’s not a paczki, but the kids sure enjoyed it. It was a great lesson for them in American culture and how others celebrate special occasions and holidays based on their heritage.
Here is the link for the printable mask the grand kids colored. Attach elastic string to each side of mask and cut out the eyes with an Exacto knife or box cutter. Use crayons, markers, adhesive jewels, colorful feather and ribbons to jazz-up the mask.
This week’s place setting was all about pizza. Dinner was ordered from a local pizza joint. Of course, I had to make the place setting match the theme (because I’m anal and that’s what I do!)
Four pizza slices were missing from each 8-piece pizza pie place setting. The pizza slices were hidden around the house and each child’s name was written on the back that noted a special prize. Not every pizza slice yielded a surprise.
My oldest grand son, Carson, found a pizza slice gifting him a library day with NeeNee (that would be me). My grand daughter gets to pick out a special bed time book. My littlest guy (age 3) found a special helper pizza slice. He so loves helping.
- This pizza slice was hidden (and taped) next to framed wall art.
These simple meal time place settings don’t have to always have to be about money or gifts. Kids love coupons which that gift special treats. My grand daughter loves the opportunity to help with dishes. My eight year old grand son enoys picking out a special movie for us on NetFlix. My three year gets excited about showering by himself.
Heck, make coupons for special alone time to bake cookies, an hour for doing a craft, printing out coloring pages on the computer or reading books. We are all finacially strapped, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find creative ways to enjoy time with our kids or grand kids.
It was another “Wild Wednesday” with the grand kids. They arrived at 5:30 with their usual boundless energy. Blimpy Girl NeeNee was on task and ready for the chaos. This week Popsicle place mats were the agenda. They were nothing fancy, but the kids sure love to be surprised with their Wednesday place setting. As they enter the door, they toss their coats and shoes in the laundry room leaping toward the kitchen island to see what’s planned.
I found these adorable printable Popsicle designs at EatDrinkChic.com. Cute, cute, cute! Of course, you’ll need Popsicle sticks, but Blimpy Girl grabbed a handful from work (I own the biz, so it was OK). We use the sticks to make Popsicle soaps. You can snag a 50 count package here for $4.95.
Now for the pre-dinner fun! The kid’s assignment was to locate a hidden Popsicle that matched the one on their dinner plate. They ran around the house like they were on a serious mission and the comradery of helping each other was awesome. The prize included swords for the boys and American Girl dolly stuff for Miss Olivia.
Unfortunately, Olivia had too many time outs with her nanny and has to earn back her dolly clothes. If she proves herself by our Saturday library outing, she can add the dolly stuff to her AG clothes closet. Gotta love a five year old with spirit. It’s an understatement to say she’s a sassy little whip. God love the man she eventually marries.
Every Wednesday the grand kids come for an overnight. I plan a creative activity for the kids to do while I prepare dinner. This week it was a pre-Valentine scavenger hunt.
I tore sheets of white paper from a packing roll at work. They were the place mats. Next, large hearts were printed on card stock paper and taped to each mat. Now for the scavenger hunt…. hmmmm… we are working with a 3, 6, and 8 year old which means the hunt must be relatively easy to finish by dinner time.
Three year old, Fischer had to find 3 colored objects. A green, a red, and something yellow. He also needed a noise making object and something round.
Each grand kid had different items to find and place next to their place mats. The rule was you must be able carry the item in your hands. Geezzz, didn’t want a sofa sitting on the counter top.
It proved a successful pre-dinner game. The kids had a blast running around the house seeking the items on their list. Fischer was quite proud that his brother’s Ipod was the noise object.
The best part, you can use this idea for any occasion. St. Patrick’s Day, Fourth of July, Birthdays… kids 10 and under will love it! Certainly you could make it over the top… but, why? It’s a throw away place mat. Don’t labor over it. I promise, kids aren’t concerned with your elaborate ideas, they only want to have fun and share time with you.