Category Archives: Hints and Tips

Find parenting tips, craft ideas, and yummy recipes to cook with your family. Have family fun with the helpful ideas from our hints and tips.

Spark Imagination during Summer Vacation


As we approach the end of summer, many families decide to have their last family outings/activities of the season. The choice on what to do and where to go can be difficult; but going somewhere where your little ones can use their imagination will make the experience more fun! According to, here are some adventure options that the whole family can enjoy while encouraging little minds to make believe:

  • Botanical Gardens: You may not have to travel far to experience the beauty and majesty of a botanical garden. Children can put on their pretend wings and travel around the garden as fairies. For added fun, bring some bubbles and explore the magic of the beautiful outdoors.
  • Tour a Castle: Whether you are on vacation or know of a neighborhood attraction nearby, take the family to a real-life castle! Your children can pretend to be kings, queens, princesses, and princes as they explore a large antiquated castle.
  • Boat Tour: Have your children dress up as pirates as you plan a trip to find sunken treasure. Before the trip, children can create a treasure map they can use as they can explore the old pirate ship.
  • Dinosaur Museum: Find a dinosaur museum while you are on vacation or close by your house. Children can learn about the history of dinosaurs while imaging that they have traveled back in time to the prehistoric era.
  • Zoo: Animal lovers will enjoy seeing all of the animals at the zoo! Encourage children to make the noises of each animal they encounter. Take a trip through the rainforest and act like a family of explorers!

Where will you go this summer to spark your children’s imaginations?


Sun Safety Tips for Toddlers

sun safety tips for toddlers

Summer is just days away! Although the outdoors can be beautiful when it is sunny, this is the time of year when UV rays are the strongest. That is why it is important that your family practices proper sun safety. Protecting a young child’s fragile skin will help teach them about healthy habits when they are in the sun. and have great tips and information pertaining sun safety:

Choosing the Best Sunscreen: Choose a sunscreen with at least SPF 30. It should offer both UVA and UVB ray protection, which should say “broad spectrum” on the label. You may be wondering what the difference is between the two rays. UVA rays can cause skin aging and contribute to melanoma. UVB rays can cause sunburn and can affect the immune system.  Making sure the sunscreen you purchase helps protect from both is critical. Also, make sure the sunscreen that you own is not expired. Sunscreen is meant to remain at its original strength for up to two to three years. If sunscreen has an expiration date on it, discard of the lotion if it is past that date.

Every Area of Skin is Important: It is important to put sunscreen on any skin areas that are exposed such as the face, arms, and legs. However, it is important to also apply sunscreen to a toddler’s ears, neck, tops of feet, hands, scalp, and back of legs. Surprisingly, lips can burn too! Protect your little one’s lips with a lip balm that has SPF 15. In addition, the younger children are, the more susceptible they are to sun damage because their skin has not fully developed melanin and at this point in their young lives, their skin is thinner. This is a great reason why it is always a safe idea to apply sunscreen everywhere to decrease the risk of skin damage.

No Such Thing as Too Much: It is a rule of thumb to apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outdoors and then reapply every two hours. It may be a good idea to apply the sunscreen more frequently than that if your child is playing in the water or sweating. It is also a good idea to make sure the sunscreen that you purchase is waterproof based on the activity level and types of activities that your child is participating in while they are outside. Also, just because it is cloudy outside on certain days, it does not mean that sunscreen should not be worn. Up to 80% of UV rays can get through clouds, so it is essential for children to wear sunscreen no matter what the weather is outside.

Timing is Everything: Sometimes, it is inevitable to keep your children out of the sun during the time that the sun’s UV rays are the strongest, which is between, 10am and 4pm. So if they are out there during those times, encourage children to play near the shade or sit under an umbrella while at the beach. And remember, put on extra sunscreen and reapply often!

Cover Up: Clothes offer protection from the sun, however, there is only so much that clothes can protect. If you want to take extra precaution, put sunscreen on your toddler’s skin that is covered by their shirt. Also, when a child is wearing dark clothing, the more UV rays will pass through. Protecting a little one’s face with a hat or cap with a brim will help shield their face. Sunglasses with at least 97% – 100% UV protection will protect the skin around their eyes and, most importantly, their eyes! Plus they will be the most stylish child on the block!

Be a role model: Children will follow by the great example of their older family members. If the adults and older siblings are wearing hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen, younger children may begin to understand the importance and want to participate in sun safety. If the adults are protecting themselves from the sun, than it must be a cool and healthy habit!

What tips do you have for protecting your child(ren) from the sun?


Encouraging Kindness

tips for encouraging kindness

“Wherever there is a human in need, there is an opportunity for kindness and to make a difference,” said Kevin Heath, the CEO for More4kids.It is important to encourage our children to be kind. It may help build character, prevent bullying, and influence children to be nice to others.

Being a role model, exhibiting how to be kind, is a great way to teach kindness. There are also many other ways to encourage kindness:

Teach teamwork: Whether your children have a play date or are just playing together as siblings, when it comes to cleaning up afterwards, have them work together. Children can learn the value of teamwork just by helping each other.

Teach sharing: Learning to play in pairs is a great way to start teaching children how to share. During play activities that require two or more children, demonstrate how they can share toys as they play with each other. Sharing teaches children about giving.

Give thanks: Teach children how to compliment the people they come in contact with. A great way to do this is by complimenting or praising a friend or relative. Children will start to pick up on how being praised or complimented can make another person feel good.

Give to charity/community service: Encourage your family to help out in the community by cleaning the local park, visiting a nursing home, or fundraising for a good cause. By spending time together performing an act of kindness, children will realize they are benefiting the community and helping others who need assistance.

An example of kindness

26 Acts of Kindness is an initiative that was started by Ann Curry in December following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. She challenged people to perform 26 acts of kindness, one for each victim in their honor. Now, in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, Ann has asked for people to participate in 26 more acts, this time in honor of victims of the bombings at the 26th mile of the Boston Marathon.

These acts of kindness can be used as learning tools for children and may even encourage you and your family to spread the love and generosity.


St. Germaine’s 4th grade class in Oak Lawn, Illinois sent well wishes to the Boston victims.




A donation of twenty six hearts to the American Heart Associate, one in honor of each of the Sandy Hook victims.



Jaide, who is three years old, ran her first 5k with her mom to honor Boston.

If you choose to participate in the 26 Acts of Kindness, we invite you to post your acts of kindness to the 26 Acts of Kindness Facebook page.

Encouraging kindness is like a never ending cycle, when you do something good for someone; someday someone may do something nice for you. Being kind can make brighten someone’s day and that is the best reward of all. Do you have suggestion on how to encourage kindness in children?

Earth Day Activities & Resources

Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! Earth Day is an annual day where communities gather together worldwide to demonstrate support to protect the environment for plants, animals, and humans. To start off this important day and raise awareness, your family can help a global mosaic on  All you have to do is upload a picture, preferably one that includes your face and a sign that says “The Face of Climate Change.” Check out what the global mosaic looks like so far at

In addition showing your support online, there are plenty of fun & creative ideas you can do with your kids to educate them about Earth Day. We were inspired by the ideas , , and had about this green celebration.

  • Plant a Tree: If you have some room in your front or back yard, get the family together to help plant a tree! However, if you do not have the room, the National Arbor Day Foundation can plant a tree on your behalf.
  • Earth Day Cookies: Create cookies that look like Earth but still taste like delicious delicacies. The kids will have a blast swirling around blue and write frosting to create the top layer on the cookie(which is meant to be the water and clouds of Earth) and then sprinkling green sprinkles (which is meant to be the land).  What a cool and yummy concept!
  • Sort recyclables: Teach children about plastic, paper, and metal. This is a great sensory activity to teach children what each material feels like. Present examples of the materials such as a plastic soda bottle, a cereal box, and a can of fruit. Create and decorate different boxes for each material and have children sort through to place the correct recyclables in each box.
  • Clean up the park or neighborhood: Take the kids on a nature stroll and bring plastic bags with you. While on your walk to the park or around the neighborhood, pick up any trash you see. With the trash you have collected, you and your children can sort through and put the different trash items in your decorated recyclables boxes.
  • Create earth: Get crafty and let the kids create their own version of Earth. There is paint, small bouncy balls, sand, and glue involved in this activity so that means it is guaranteed fun!
  • Make a family pledge: On behalf of Earth Day, have your family create a list of ways to help keep the Earth clean all year round. From recycling to picking up more trash to donating to nature organizations, there is always a way to help.

Celebrating and teaching your children about Earth Day will help them to pass the knowledge and passion about taking care of our planet to future generations. What activities do you have planned for Earth Day?

Activities for Playing in Pairs


When children play in pairs it can help develop their social skills. They learn to share, take turns, and solve problems together. Also, as children begin to play in pairs, it helps to prepare them when they partake in group play. There are numerous benefits for children playing in pairs. However, it is not just about children sharing toys or playing tag outside together, there are plenty of fun activities that children can do in order to develop other skills that involve active and pretend play. has great examples of fun activities for children to play in pairs:

  • Classic games: Play games like Simon Says, Hot Potato, or charades to get the laughs going and the creativity ignited.
  • Dress up: Pull out all old clothes, Halloween costumes, and accessories for the kids to try on. They can even act like a silly character based on what they are wearing. Have the children guess what one another is such as a hippie, if they have a lot of beads and big sunglasses on.
  • Cooking: Cooking can be a lot of fun, giving each child a duty to complete such as mixing or adding ingredients to the bowl. It can also be a messy activity. If you want the activity to be less messy, have the children interact in a play kitchen and ask them to work together to create a pretend meal.
  • Let’s act: Ask the children to put on a show and give them household items such as a ladle, towels, shower caps, hats, ect. Give them time to prepare and capture the memories with camera or camcorder once they are ready for show time.
  • Agree to Disagree: If the dynamic duo cannot agree on an activity or toy to share, have the children say activities they would like to do. Write the options down on little pieces of paper and draw an activity from a hat. Each child can grab one piece of paper from the hat and do the activities in order.

What tips do you have for having children play in pairs?

The Bedtime Game


Make a game out of teaching toddlers how to stay in bed! Thriving Early Magazine inspired us to share this great bedtime game you can try with your children.

Follow these steps to start playing:

  • Create a board game on cardstock and grab one color block.
  • Draw a line on one side of the cardstock that says “START” and draw a line on the opposite side that says “FINISH.” In-between the words start and finish draw seven squares to represent the seven days of the week. The objective is to move the one block from start to finish.
  • Each night that your children stay in bed, they will be able to move the block up one space the following morning. Each night that they do not stay in their own bed, they will have to move the square back a space the following morning.
  • Once they hit the finish line for staying in bed, they will get to pick an activity they would like to do as their reward. For example: going to the playground.

It may take some time for children to get to the finish line. It is important for both children and parents to be patient with the progress of the bedtime game. However, once your children make it to the finish line for the first time, it will encourage and provide them with an incentive to continue to stay in bed in order to get their next reward.

What tips do you have for getting your children to stay in bed?