This Thursday, families and friends across the country will celebrate our nation’s independence –flaunting red, white, and blue on the Fourth of July. It was in 1776 – 234 years ago – that our fore father’s signed the Declaration of Independence. Written by Thomas Jefferson, it is the day America declared itself independent of the British Empire.
So as parades go by and communities celebrate, Chipper’s Tips assure everyone will be in full cheer:
1. Stay Together! Large crowds often form on Fourth of July fireworks displays, parades, and other such outside events, so please stay close together to ensure everyone’s safety. Pick an easy and familiar spot to meet at in case someone gets lost. Remember Chipper’s tip: “You can play, but don’t stray.”
2. Be safe! Fireworks are dangerous when not handled properly, so keep children at a safe distance and under constant parent supervision.
3. Careful cooking! When barbecuing, prevent injuries or burns by making sure all children stay away from the cooking area and keep all fires under control with water nearby at campsites in case of an emergency. Don’t forget to leave no trace and clean up afterwards, making sure all flames are put out.
4. Think of your Pets! Pets often become frightened with loud noises such as those made by fireworks, so be prepared to either leave them at home, bring something to shelter them with, or bring something that might help comfort them in such a distressful time. Most importantly, prevent possible injuries by restraining them in some way and ensuring that they, too, keep their distance from all fireworks as well.
5. Sun Protection! Remember to re-apply sunscreen every two hours or so to prevent any possible sun damage. Chipper’s tip: “From your head to your toes, and don’t forget your nose.”
Have a Chipper 4th of July!
Summertime is the perfect time to let kids explore while you’re outside; whether in your backyard, the beach, or a local park keeping everyone within eyesight or earshot creates a safe space for children to exercise some independence. And these explorations usually end up with kids coming back to you with pockets full of special “finds.”
This week we welcome our summer Chipper Intern, Alexa Swartz, and her ideas on where to put the treasures you decide to keep.
Chipper Intern – Alexa Swartz
I remember collecting things as a child when out hiking with my family. Many items are a part of nature so my parents always taught us the principals of Leave No Trace which meant we needed to leave most of what we found with nature and the animals using it as a resource for their habitat. But some items made it home and the mementos soon took over drawers and countertops. I like thinking back on this time and I realize it’s so easy to allow kids to contain these souvenirs with fun containers to store them in!
As an intern for Lets Go Chipper I will be posting weekly container crafts to offer ideas for all your keepsakes – they even make great packaging ideas for birthday gifts or housewarming gifts.
Not only will these crafts create a fun way for kids to store all their pieces of summer, but making crafts actually helps improve fine motor skills, strategic thinking and builds self-esteem in the process. Read more about the benefits of crafting!
Week 1: The Gum Container
What you need:
- A plastic gum container
- Mod Podge, glue, or tape
- Pipe Cleaners
- Magazines, paper, paint or anything you want to stick on your container
How to make your container:
- Set out materials on an easily cleanable surface allowing your child to create without worry. Breaking down a cardboard box is an easy way to create a workspace that protects counters or tables you don’t want to get dirty.
- Encourage your child to make a plan and think about what they want before immediately jumping in.
- Feel free to create! There is no right or wrong in this project so let their imaginations take flight and see what the container ends up looking like. Let them use any medium and design they want. This project is about the process and fun and memories that come from creating the container, don’t dwell on if the child will like the outcome and just let them enjoy the process.
- Enjoy! Fill the container with anything, from pens and pencils at school, to sticks and rocks found around the garden. Let it contain whatever the child perceives to be important to them.
What else would you do with this container? Share with Chipper in the comments below!
Let’s Go Chipper! … Into the Great Outdoors
Today’s children are losing their connection with our natural world and spend over seven hours a day of “screen time.” The negative effects are lack of physical exercise and opportunities to explore creatively and exercise our critical thinking. That’s the research, but what if we just go on our gut instinct and reflect on how our days unfold?
When we pause the “research and worry” button and consider our basic desire to connect with our children and just play, we should all feel confident in just saying “yes” to taking time to join our kids on the floor, grass, or on the swing set! Adventure into the park, take a walk around the block, or get the bikes out. Nature is waiting for us.
Children in touch with their natural environment are healthier, do better in school, have increased creativity and improved concentration. Realizing these benefits and sharing adventures and experiences help broaden a child’s perspective on life which leads to a stronger emotional spirit. Even more so leading children in guided experiences, engaging in hands on activities, and exciting conversation will inspire a contributive spirit so today’s child will become a more conscientious, involved student and member of the community.
So what can we do?
- Let’s get physical – Be active, play outside, and just excite a sense of freedom to explore
- Connect with the outdoors – Provide access to safe, green spaces
- Discover the five senses – Provide activities which will engage seeing things in nature, listening to nature, touching, smelling … even tasting
- Participate – Provide opportunities for your kids to engage in the process and therefore be interested in taking care of the animals they find in nature
Most importantly for parents – don’t fear getting dirty. We say, “It’s not a good day unless you do a load of laundry.” So next time you have the urge to check your phone or text a friend when your child is close by, put it back in the bag … maybe play a little “tag” and see how letting go can make you feel connected to your child and remind you of how easy it is to build your own care free spirit.
How do you get outdoors with the kids? Share with Chipper!
Explore the outdoors with your little one(s) and collect nature materials to make cute critters! Not only will you a foster a connection with nature, your kids can also exercise their imaginations and creativity. There is so much you can find outside: nuts, rocks, sticks, leaves, petals, and more.
Chipper Playfully Teaches: Earth and Space Science, Creative Arts and Fine Motor Skills.
Adventure into the great outdoors with young children and use the natural materials as craft supplies for creating creatures from the children’s imagination or animals identified on the walks.
Timing: One Hour
Explore and collect: 15 minutes
Craft Time: 30 minutes
Extra 15 minutes: Travel time and padding because projects with young children will always take longer than you plan!
What you need:
- Reusable tote to carry found treasures
- Cardboard bases from recycled boxes and scrap paper and materials for accessorizing crafts
- Glue and string
- A partner or chaperone
- Explain the rules of staying together “You can play, but don’t stray!” and the project
- Check off that everyone has their tote for collecting items. While exploring, be it in the backyard of a school facility, house, childcare center, or beyond the yard, keep children on track by talking about what they might find; the colors, shapes, texture and more.
- Assist young children with glue or glue gun and string assembly.
- Welcome conversation while exploring. What do you see, hear, smell and feel?
Upon returning, sit down and talk about the items in the bag and what can be made; a butterfly from leaves, a nature cake, a boat from sticks, a car from rocks and bark. Welcome the conversation and encourage the creativity!
A veggie garden is a great place to teach your youngsters valuable lessons while spending satisfying time together. Gardening is more entertaining than any video game; I have yet to meet a child who didn’t get a kick out of playing in the dirt, planting seeds and watching them grow. And finally, there’s no better way to get kids to eat veggies than to grow their own.
So where do you start? These 10 ideas just might inspire your gardener-in-training:
- Take a field trip. Visit a farmers market or produce aisle and talk about what you see. Explain the life cycle of a veggie, from seed to fruit to dinner table. Have kids taste-test a few varieties, then help them plant the ones they like.
- Let them choose. While at a nursery or garden center, ask your kids to pick out a few seeds or plants they want to grow. Also let them select any extras, like trellises or containers. If they’re involved at the very beginning, they’re more likely to remain interested throughout the growing season.
- Give ‘em some space. Pint-size gardeners love to have their own little section of a garden. They’ll treat this space with extra-special care. Let them make the decisions, from what gets planted to keeping the occasional “pet” weed.
- Tools of the trade. On birthdays or other occasions, give your children a colorful garden tool, apron or hat. Make it a game to get dressed up as a gardener when it’s time to play outside.
- Family history lesson. Use your time outside as an opportunity to tell kids about your family. Was Great-Grandpa a gardener? Did Aunt Nora grow heirloom tomatoes? It’s a great way to get them interested in relatives and radishes at the same time.
- Theme gardens. Try an alphabet garden, where your kids choose everything from asparagus to zucchini. Or create a garden of miniatures with cherry tomatoes or mini-pumpkins.
- Be realistic. You can’t expect a 6-year-old to spend an afternoon weeding, so you’ll have to perform some of the mundane tasks yourself. When kids do tackle these chores, don’t expect perfection—a few jagged rows or a weed here and there won’t matter. Remember that kids have short attention spans, so make your garden a fun place where they can see real results.
- Let’s go crazy. Kids love unusual varieties, so don’t be a conformist. Instead, walk on the wild side with yellow tomatoes, white eggplants, purple carrots, brightly colored chard and giant pumpkins.
- Teachable moments. Explain how natural vegetable gardening promotes healthy living by providing safe, nutritious, low-cost food for the family. Also point out that growing your own veggies means more exercise, no pesticides and less pollution from delivery trucks.
- Continue in the kitchen. Invite your children to help you make dinner by adding cut-up garden produce to a salad or soup, and let them snack on a few as you cook. Don’t be surprised if they learn to love veggies.
Plan a community garden for your school or neighborhood! Collect spare change to fund the project and teach your kids how they can help make change for the better!
10 Best Veggies For Kids To Grow
- Sugar snap peas. Kids love to eat them fresh off the vine and they are packed with Vitamin C!
- Lettuce. Easy to grow and lots of cool color varieties, plus it contains a considerable amount of iron.
- Pumpkins. Plant a smaller variety, like Jack Be Little, for your smaller helpers. Don’t forget to eat the seeds which help keep heart heathy!
- Radishes. Within a month, these fast growers are ready to pick AND they help keep away allergy sniffles.. Just for giggles, try red, white and purple varieties.
- Carrots. Quick-growing carrots are perfect for short attention spans. In addition, they are filled with powerful vitamins that support your eye sight.
- Potatoes. Kids really dig potatoes, which are as much fun to harvest as to eat. These nutrient-dense veggies can be cooked dozens of ways!
- Green beans. The big seeds are fun and easy to plant. Plus they are packed with Vitamin B!
- Cherry tomatoes. Little hands love to pick these tiny fruits. They are sweet and nutritious, filled with fiber, protein and Vitamin C.
- Sunflowers. These beauties take off without much work, and come in tall or small varieties. Plus, it’s fun to harvest the seeds, or leave out the seed heads to attract birds.
- Broccoli. Like many veggies, garden-fresh broccoli tastes sweeter than store-bought. Broccoli is also a powerful antioxidant and great for bone health.
What other veggies do you kids love to grow? Share with Chipper in the comments!
Celebrate Easter and Earth Day with this cute recycle bunny craft! For many of us, Easter is the Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion. For others, this time of Spring celebrates the Jewish holiday of Passover. However, for those who aren’t religious, Easter is followed with the tradition of coloring hard-boiled eggs and giving baskets of candy.
This tradition of bunnies, eggs and candy go back to the holiday’s root purpose: procreation! Easter was originally the celebration of Ishtar, the ancient Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility. Her symbols (like the egg and the bunny) were and still are fertility and sex symbols. After Roman Emperor Constantine decided to Christianize the Empire, Easter was changed to represent the rebirth Jesus as well as the spring season of birth and growth. Who knew!
Have some fun with your kids creating this colorful and playful bunny from a recycled toilet roll. Create a habitat for the bunny with other recycled material and let your children’s imaginations roam or take it outside and explore nature with your recycle craft bunny!
- Recycled Toilet Roll
- Paper (Chipper used red and white but choose any two colors or use paint!)
- Googly Eyes
- Cut two long skinny bunny ears out in the same color and cut two more smaller ones out in a different color. Glue the smaller ones inside of the larger ones to create bunny ears.
- Cover the roll with paper your used for larger ears, cut with scissors to fit and tape or glue to attach to toilet roll. Or paint it whatever color you like!
- Glue the ears to the inside of the toilet paper roll with smaller ears facing forward.
- Glue on googly eyes and small pompoms for nose and tail. Add any other decorations that you can think of!
- Draw on whiskers with marker or pen. Try adding a smiling bunny face too!
- Place your bunny somewhere around the house or classroom OR go outside and hop around!
Make it a teachable moment! Check out these fun facts about bunnies and share with your little ones. Have a Chipper Easter! :)
“Different Not Less”
Can you believe we have a generation growing up realizing that we are all different and that we should celebrate not criticize, shame, nor ignore individuals needing our kindness and support. We live during a time when parents have enough information teach their children acceptance and even more so to acknowledge that we all have a right to reach our potential? We share knowledge through so many channels and, collectively, we can make change for the better.
One of the best ways to teach your children acceptance is through education. Give age-appropriate information and then look for influential and inspiring individuals either aligned with the cause or someone faced with the challenges. Share your own experiences as a child and how you overcame indifferences through education.
When you educate you empower empathy and the interest to help. Collaborate within your community and come up with ideas to support causes or share Chipper’s Making Change for the Better initiative where every person can help reduce waste while increasing financial support for others in need.
April marks Autism Awareness and Acceptance month and Earth Day – so we have reasons to celebrate when noting causes which support people and nature … a very Chipper cause!
We are moved and inspired by the work of Dr. Temple Grandin, animal science doctor, professor, best selling author, autism activist and probably most noted in the livestock industry as an exceptional animal behaviorist for her teaching the industry more humane livestock handling processes. In 2004, Grandin received the “Proggy” award in the “Visionary” category, from PETA. It should be noted that Dr. Temple Grandin was diagnosed with Autism at the age of two but she regularly speaks and shares of her success stemming from early support and a supportive foundation built by family and educators. Read her most recent book.
Autism Awareness: Make Change for the Better!
Educate and Inspire Action
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex set of neurological disorders and developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. ASD is generally diagnosed before three years of age. There is no known cause of autism, but early intervention plays a huge role in treatment and can greatly improve a child’s development.
Autism is a spectrum condition; this means that although some people with autism may share certain difficulties; their conditions may affect them in different ways. Many individuals with autism can live independent lives but others may need a lifetime of special support. In March 2012, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued their ADDM autism prevalence report. The report revealed that 1 in every 88 births in the United States is shown to have a form of autism. The report also shows on average 1 in 54 boys were diagnosed with autism, and 1 in 252 girls. Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S.
- There is no medical detection or cure for autism
- Autism costs a family $60,000 a year on average
- Autism receives less than 5% of the research funding of many prevalent childhood diseases
- Boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to have autism
- The annual cost of autism is $60 billion
- The annual cost of autism per person over a lifespan is 3.2 million
- The annual cost of autism is $60 billion
- 60% of costs are in adult services
When we all work together we can help fund more research into the causes of autism, provide families with financial support, and increase awareness and acceptance of autism spectrum disorders.
Did you know? One 14.5 ounce can (standard soup can) filled with mixed coins can average anywhere from $12 – $45+. Imagine if you find a few dollar bills laying around as well – put them in the can and let’s help contribute.Your spare change makes a difference!
Download Chipper’s Making Change for the Better label and wrap a can or container. Collect your spare change and donate to an organization or a local support chapter.
Join Chipper in making change for the better!!!
The snow is melting, the time has changed and the weather is officially transitioning to warmer days that linger into the night. It’s spring. What a time to connect.
What other reason do you need to take your kids outside – sunshine synthesizes the vitamin D, fresh air helps clear the mind, and the trails are ready so pull out the map. Overwhelmed by what to do? Then ease into the change; stay home and get to know your backyard, front porch, even your windowsill. It’s time to garden!
Tilling the soil is tactile which excites the senses. Allowing your child to touch the soil when planting gives them the physical experience which is beneficial especially to kinesthetic learners. The gentle push of a seed into a can or container inspires an emotional connection. Ask questions like “what will grow here,” “how will you take care of your seed?”
By taking time to brighten up your home with plants and flowers you welcome a new season while teaching your child about weather, caring for the environment, parenting, and even cooking! Planting carrots takes just a few feet sideways and down and the magic of pulling out a crunchy snack from the ground in the middle of summer is something to remember. Have you ever wondered how long it takes to grow a carrot or the many different shapes – take a look here!
At the end of the day, watering and checking your plants gives your children a sense of responsibility and an appreciation for schedules. If you are considering flowers, hop on over to one of our favorite blogs – Frog Mom and see what’s growing on.
The biggest “aha” for parents is the reminder that getting dirty has its benefits and place in a child’s life …so let’s get growing! We’ll see you in the garden.
You see the signs right? And it seems obvious but millions of pounds of trash and plastic enter our waterways through our curbside drainage system each year. The effect on our plant and sea life is huge: about 22,000 bodies of water in the United States are considered “impaired” by the Environmental Protection Agency due to this pollution.
As we celebrate National Wildlife Week and the theme being “water,” be inspired to take action over just acknowledging the importance of clean water for our animals on land and sea.
What we can do:
- If you see it, own it: Lead by example and pick up trash when you see it on the ground. Use good judgment, plastic/foil chip bags, paper bags, and plastic bottles are generally safe to pick up but be safe first.
- Make the grade: Collaborate with your classroom and take a walk through the neighborhood. A good stroll is healthy for both mind and body and the clean up helps foster a deeper connection with your community.
- Power to the Park Ranger – Chipper is the most enthusiastic ambassador in town and always pays respect to the ranger. Invite your local state or national park ranger, or junior ranger, into the classroom to teach kids about streams, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, even the little puddle along the path. All give life to the forest and eventually make it to the sea. Teaching kids the principals of Leave No Trace will inspire them to pick up any litter along the trails during spring and summer hiking and camping adventures
Here are some great tips and things to keep in mind:
Collaborate as a family, school, and community and join Chipper in Making Change for the Better – what we do as individuals makes a different for all …Let’s go Chipper and remember to give a little thumbs up to the National Wildlife Federation!
Rainy season has arrived! Whether you are experiencing snow and rain in the North West or a sunny summer on the opposite hemisphere, condensation is a common occurrence that can turn into an educational lesson for your little one(s).
In the car or at home, windows fog and water drops form. In the bathroom after a long shower, mirrors get fogged. Use these teachable moments to talk about the water cycle and it’s importance to our entire planet. Let your kids know about water conservation, especially during droughts, when bathing, brushing teeth, or washing dishes and clothes. As the saying goes, “Waste not, want not!” The more we save, the more have in the long run!
Water is important for our survival and also for the survival of plants and animals. During rainy season, explore the outdoors and search for little critters soaking in the rain like Chester the Wise Old Frog and Bruce the Banana Slug. Some animals and plants need more water than others. Humans, for example, should drink around 2-3 liters of water a day, where as giraffes get most of their moisture from leaves, so they can go months without drinking water!
Teach your kiddos about the following terms so they become familiar with the water cycle! Try some of the activities to illustrate their meaning and give your child an opportunity to really understand this important ecological process.
1. Evaporation is when the sun heats up water in rivers or lakes or the ocean and turns it into vapor or steam. The water vapor or steam leaves the river, lake or ocean and goes into the air, forming clouds.
Illustrate: Boil some water in a kettle so children can see the vapor rising!
2. Condensation is when water vapor in the air gets cold and changes back into liquid, forming clouds. Clouds are made up of tiny water molecules.
Illustrate: Use a window, mirror or any glass surface and breath on it. Your warm breath forms a foggy layer that is like a thin cloud on your mirror! Use your fingers to draw a smiley face :)
3. Precipitation occurs when so much water has condensed that the air cannot hold it anymore. The water molecules start to bounce and shake (precipitate), making the cloud so heavy that the water falls back to the earth in the form of rain drop or rainfall. The water can also fall hail, sleet or snow depending on how cold it is.
Illustrate: Pour a glass of cold water on a hot day and watch what happens. Or if it’s still cold out, place a cup of warm water on the counter. Then put some ice on to a plate and place on top of the cup. Water will start to form on the outside of the glass and drip down the sides. That water didn’t somehow leak through the glass! It actually came from the air. Water vapor in the warm air turns back into liquid when it touches the cold glass. This is precipitation in action!
4. Collection: When water falls back to earth as precipitation, it may fall back in the oceans, lakes or rivers or it may end up on land. When it ends up on land, it will either soak into the earth and become part of the “ground water” that plants and animals use to drink or it may run over the soil and collect in the oceans, lakes or rivers where the cycle starts!
Illustrate: After a rainy day or snow fall, go outside with your kids and try to find evidence of water collection: puddles form, street gutters flow, and plants soak in the rain! Take a little trip and visit your local water reservoir to see where your town’s drinking water comes from. The more they see and experience, the more your children will understand!
What other ways can you illustrate the water cycle? Share with Chipper! We love hearing about your outdoor adventures and educational stories!
Americans represent 5% of the world’s population, but generate 30% of the world’s garbage. Now, more than ever, we need to do our part to reuse, reduce, recycle, reconsider and reimagine before we throw something away. Teaching our children to reduce waste is a crucial element to the future of our planet and species. Of the garbage Americans throw out, half could be recycled, which is enough to fill a football stadium from top to bottom everyday. Let’s work together to lower this number – we can start by being creative!
Recycling Resources for Plastic Bottle Caps
- Check with your city. Some cities do accept plastic bottle caps, but they may require that you remove the cap from the bottle and put it in the bin separately. The only way to find out is to check with your city. Try Googling something like “[YourCity] Plastic Recycling.” Lots of cities now have websites where that information is easy to access.
- Whole Foods. Some Whole Foods Markets and other grocery stores accept #5 plastic caps for recycling along with their plastic bag recycling. Next time you’re shopping, check their bins to see if yours does, too!
- Earth911. A go-to resource for any recycling question. You can search the Earth911 database for “plastic caps” to find facilities near you that will accept them.
- Caps Can Do. If you can’t find a local place to drop off your plastic caps for recycling, you can ship them to Caps Can Do, a company that specializes in recycling #5 plastic!
Recycling is great, but reusing is better when you consider how inefficient plastic recycling is. TThere are many fun ways to reuse plastic caps, no matter your skill level. The possibilities are endless when you go through your recycling and trash bins with a creative mindset! Recycle crafts in general help kids learn to come up with their own ideas, build their creative confidence and mobile skills, and envision new purposes for common objects.
For example, you can make some adorable magnets from recycled bottle caps or lids. Notorious for their longevity in the landfills (plastic takes over 1,000 years to degrade in a landfill!), plastic lids can be reimagined to make fun recycle crafts, gifts and decorations!
Plastic Bottle Cap Magnets
- Plastic lids and tops
- Permanent markers
- Hot glue gun or craft glue
- Sticky magnet tape to put your creations on the fridge
- Decorations: Multi-colored plastic (think of using the strip from around milk jugs or bread bag holders), construction paper, or felt…and any thing colorful you have around the house, like buttons, yarn, etc. Recycled magazines are perfect for cutting out letters and numbers to make into magnets.
- Optional: googly eyes for cute looking faces
- Cut wine corks if your lid is too deep to magnetize or just flip you lid and use the inside to decorate
Simply draw your face or creature on the lid with a permanent marker then use the hot glue gun or craft glue to add flare! From googly eyes, to pipe cleaners, have fun making monster lids, lady bug friends, or keep it simple with various facial expressions:
There are many thing you can do with your recycled plastic bottle caps and lids! Extend the life of your hand soap with a home-made soap dish from EcoKaren:
Make some cute stamps with your lids, styrofoam and some paint from The Long Thread:
Or save your bottle caps and lids by color and get crafty! Here are some example of some beautiful art pieces made with recycled plastic:
What can you craft with your plastic lids and bottle caps? Share with Chipper!
I’m a Chipper Mom: Review: Good Kids Apps
Puffs Playground App
A day long hike turning over rocks, jumping in and out of streams, and casting magical spells on each other was only made better by the sounds of my mom strumming her guitar singing “Puff the Magic Dragon” by the campfire. Even as a young girl, I always cried because it made me think of my first dog, Puff, a playful sheepdog ever loyal and at the ready to be my best friend. The song about a magical dragon sparked many adventures with my own imaginary friends. No matter where we went camping it always felt like the land called Honalee after that first night and most requested campfire song.
Imagination is a powerful tool for children and when we nourish it we help foster the creative spirit which even scientist say is necessary. Dr. Michio Kaku, Theoretical Physicist and author says creativity plays into the “aha” moment; this allows the scientist to think outside the box and push towards new beneficial discoveries be it in medicine, engineering, space programs, all of it. Imagination is the first seed of creativity and kids need the opportunity to exercise theirs through multi-sensory experiences. I say this because with so many apps on the market today, I often wonder if they stifle and stunt imagination over excite the wonder of true explorations that engage our five senses.
I recently discovered Puff’s Land of Honalee had gone digital so I was curious to see if after 50 years, could the magic still be sparked by tapping on an app. Puff’s Playground app welcomes all ages into Creative Cove, a creativity center with a plethora of tools to paint, draw, create mixed media collages, or simply use coloring pages from the original artwork Puff, the Magic Dragon storybook.
A fan of puzzles, I enlisted the help of my two daughters to join me in Puzzle Plantation where we connected the pieces to bring images from the original Puff to life. In Castle of Concentration we engaged in a classic game of memory featuring character art but innovated with playful sound effects.
Created by FatRedCouch, a Marin-based interactive media company headquartered in the former building of George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic, as well as Pixar, I was happy to see the spirit of imagination was alive and well along with the level of quality in the artwork and production. A quick browse through the publisher’s portfolio of apps and you can see they are indeed committed to creating good kids apps.
There is plenty to do with this app (it’s free with in app purchasing) but we hit our self-prescribed family-allotted time limit so it was time to grab our sticks and go have some fun on Mt. Tam frolicking in the mist we call fog this time of year. The app sparked memories for me and created another layer of wonder for my kids, I knew it would translate to more pictures being drawn at the kitchen table.
I’m a Chipper mom and, to me, a good kids app should inspire thought, conversation, and creativity. I want a Good Kids App to be playful and embrace nature, art, science, music, and educate while having fun. Sounds like a lot but it’s not when you focus truly on the development of a child; when it comes to imagination just excite it and watch the wonder light up. If you are choosing an app, I hope you will follow Chipper’s GoodKidsApp guidelines:
- Is it story-based with a clear, kind message
- Does it engage and excite imagination away from the gadget
- Does it spark conversation and promote learning
Puff’s Playground app does this and more for us as I quickly learned while listening to my girls sing a cherished song introduced by Peter, Paul, and Mary more than 50 years ago. Time to frolick!
Available on iTunes. Free with in-app purchases.
If Meatless Monday is the only day on your calendar for vegetarian dishes we have a new recipe for you to be chipper about. Even your picky eater whom refuses to eat their veggies will consider these healthy bite-size bursts of flavor on any day. Mushroom Nuggets – call them “earth balls” – are a delicious alternative to “chicken nuggets.” Each bite-sized nugget is packed with flavor and conveniently hides the healthy stuff like beans, mushrooms and veggie protein – yes, the stuff your kids bemoan.
Or make as veggie burgers…
These bites are savory, slightly cheesy, with a hint of sweetness and accents of earthy flavors. Do you think your kids will notice the health benefits? Just tell them that they are going to have a ball at dinner tonight.
Mushrooms are an excellent source of vitamin D; they boost your immunity, are high in antioxidants, and increase your metabolism. And they go from snack to meal; try stuffing these tiny falafel-sized bites into pitas, wraps or over pasta.
Store a few mushroom bites in the fridge for a grab and go lunch. Salads, sandwiches, pitas and more love these bites. Use any way you would a meatball!
Makes about two dozen | Recipe & photos by KATHYPATALSKY
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
1/2 cup nutritional yeast (add more if you’d like more cheezy flavor)
1 Tbsp mushroom powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
A few dashes pepper
2 Tbsp salt-free spice blend
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp maple or agave syrup
2 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
2 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup water (or low-salt veggie broth for added flavor)
1 1/2 cups TVP or TSP (textured veggie or soy protein)
1 can Cannellini beans, drained
1 1/2 cups mushrooms, chopped
1/3 cup diced sweet onion (omit for onion-opposed kids)
1/2 cup flour
Sauté in 1-2 Tbsp safflower oil.
1. Combine all the spices in a large mixing bowl. This can be a fun math moment for kids: How many tablespoons of spices are we adding? How many teaspoons in a table spoon?
2. Add in the liquids and the base ingredients. Grab a large fork and start mashing well – especially the beans. Another great step for kids to jump in and help. Wear ‘em out with the mashing! Try to break them down as much as possible so they provide a sticky agent which binds the mixture. The TVP will begin absorbing the liquid as well to thicken the mix.
3. Next, add in the flour for the final step. You can add in a tablespoon at a time until you are comfortable with the consistency. You want the mixture to be like a very wet bean patty.
4. Turn a nonstick skillet on med-high heat – add about 1-2 Tbsp of safflower oil. Safflower oil is perfect because it gives these nuggets crispy edges.
5. When oil is hot, grab golf ball sized balls and roll in a big of flour (roll in some nutritional yeast for added savory flavor) – then plop onto skillet. Another fun moment for kids to help out and get a little messy! Allow each side to cook for about a minute or two. Try not to burn, but you do want a nice brown color to the exterior.
6. Place on a paper towel to rest a few minutes – they will further bind as they cool – serve hot and enjoy!
Valentines is the perfect time to show your love! Your love of family, friends, community…and NATURE! Recycling crafts are not only a fun activity to get creative, they teach our children to reuse, reduce and recycle materials rather than tossing things in the trash. Explain to your little one’s that paper comes from trees and trees make our air, so let’s conserve and reuse!
Nothing’s as special as a home-made craft. Connect on an intimate level not only by making something but by giving extra kisses and hugs this month. It’s the little things that really matter so spread your love in small ways. Share a special family moment with Chipper on Facebook for a chance to win some delicious homemade heart cookies!
CRAFT #1 – Toilet Paper Roll Heart Prints
What you need:
- Toilet paper roll
- Recycled paper or news paper
- Simply shape your toilet roll into a heart by folding it in half. Use tape to secure shape if necessary.
- Fill a small plate or container lid with pain the color of your kiddo’s choice.
- Dip one end of your toilet roll heart into the paint, and press against your paper like a stamp.
- Repeat as desired. To make a different color, simply flip your heart stamp and use the clean end or make another heart stamp with a fresh recycled roll.
- Hang up on the fridge or in the class to decorate for the holiday of love! Great for making homemade Valentine’s Day cards.
CRAFT#2 – Sweet Stuff Container
Make an adorable container for your Valentine’s Day treats! Customize for that special someone or make a bunch for your whole class!
What you need:
- Toilet paper roll
- Paint, markers, stickers, etc.
- Color and decorate your toilet roll with paint, markers, stickers, buttons, crayons, etc. Sky’s the limit with recycle crafts. Use what you can find around the house or in your waste bins! You’ll be surprised how creative your kid can be.
- Bend in the sides on each end, securing one end with tape or glue.
- Fill your container with yummy sweet, love notes, or some special coupons for the parents like, “Worth 10 Hugs!”
- Bend the open end to close and secure with tape, glue, or even some pretty ribbon or string!
- Share with loved ones and friends.
CRAFT#3 – Crayon Hearts
Reuse old and broken crayons with this creative craft!
What you need:
- A bunch of old, broken or unused crayons.
- Heart cookie mold or tin
- Conventional Oven
- Heat the oven to 250°.
- Fill each heart mold with crayon pieces. You can mix colors or try coordinating them.
- Place heart mold or tray into the oven and bake until the crayons melt, about 10 to 15 minutes. Make sure to place a sheet pan under the crayons to catch any drips.
- Once they’re cool, remove the hearts from the molds and smooth any rough edges by rubbing them on a piece of scrap paper.
- Give away to friends with a note saying, “You color my world!” or enjoy them at home. Fun gift that keeps on giving when you use them for future crafts!
What’s your favorite thing about Valentine’s day? Share with Chipper!
Valentine’s Day is coming up fast! Make a healthy and fun snack with your kids in the kitchen to celebrate. Whether you are making heart-shaped pancakes or chocolate-dipped strawberries, having your little ones help cook not only builds confidence and independence, it’s a great opportunity to practice simple measurement math skills and connect with your child on a deeper level.
Make some heart-shaped tortilla chips in honor of the day of love! When kids make their own tortilla chips, they get to pick the flavor and shape (and you can monitor the ingredients).
What you need:
- Tortillas (make your own with this easy, kid-friendly recipe!)
- Sea salt or table salt
- Olive oil or butter
- Heart shaped cookie cutter
- Pastry brush
- Cookie sheet
- Blend oil or butter with the flavor of you choice! Cheese, lemon and herbs, or cinnamon sugar are all yummy ideas. Or keep them plain and eat with a tasty salsa or guacamole dip!
- Brush whole tortillas (corn or flour) with olive oil or melted butter.
- Cut with a knife or heart cookie cutter and place them on your cookie sheet.
- Sprinkle on some salt to your taste.
- Put in the oven at 350˚ F for about 15 minutes. Make sure to keep a close eye on them and pull them out every once in a while to flip the chips around. The rate they bake depends on the size of your hearts.
Once they’re baked, package in snack-size bags for a nutritious snack to share with your child’s class or to enjoy at home over the weekend. What other shapes and flavors will you try? Let Chipper know in the comments!
Celebrate your love of nature and make a heart shaped bird seed feeder this Valentine’s Day! The birdies like Red and Robbin will sure love you back for putting some out and bird watching makes a great activity for you and the family to get outdoors and watch you winged friends stop by!
What you need:
- 1 1/2 cups Bird Seed (check out your local pet store or learn to make your own here!)
- Peanut Butter (if your child has allergies, try using 2 gelatin packets and a 1/2 cup of boiling water instead!)
- Heart Shaped cookie cutter (and tin foil or wax paper!) or silicon mold (no tin foil or wax paper needed!)
- First, make your bird seed mixture in a large bowl. How much peanut butter you use depends on how many bird feeder hearts you want to make. A regular sized container of peanut butter to one regular sized bird bag works perfectly. The goal is to have enough peanut butter to make sure the bird feed stays together. Alternatively, if your kids have peanut allergies, use gelatin and water instead!
- Once you have your mixture, start pressing it firmly into your mold. If you are using a cookie cutter, place your cutter on top of a sheet of foil or wax paper. If using foil, some no-stick cooking spray makes it easy to remove your feeder once it dries.
- Cut up your straws into small pieces. Stick one piece into the top of your heart. This makes a hole for your string so you can easily stick it through to hang your feeder. If you don’t have any straws around or want to forgo using plastic, just stick your pre-cut/pre-tied piece of string into your half-filled mold or cutter then add the rest of the seed mixture on top to hold in place.
- Once you have formed your hearts and have added your straws or stings, place on a cookie sheet and dry for a few hour (over night is best).
- Once dry, pull out your straws and tie through your string.
- Now comes the fun part! Explore your back yard or school yard for the perfect place to hang your feeder. Make sure it is in a spot you can observe later.
- Look outside every day and observe which kids of birds you see and how long it takes for them to eat the whole feeder. The hearts not only give little birds some much needed nourishment during the cold winter months, they also add some natural sparkle to your wintery yard!
Making flower art is another fun craft with left over bird seed and dry beans. Just grab some recycled paper and glue, make your design with the glue on your paper, then pour over seed and dry!
What other craft can you make with bird seed? Let Chipper know and have fun bird watching! :)
Healthy Dip Recipe #1: Lowfat Mexican Layer Dip
- 1 cup of fat free refried beans
- 1/4 cup low fat shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cups fresh guacamole
- 1/2 cup fat free sour cream
- 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
- 1 cucumber chopped
- 1 cup fresh salsa
- 1 head of finely chopped iceberg lettuce
- 2 cups chopped tomatoes
- 1/4 cup sliced black olives
Mix the sour cream and taco seasoning together and set aside for 10 minutes to allow flavor to mingle. In a glass pie plate or 8 x 8 inch baking pan, layer the refried beans in the bottom so they are equally spread. Top with guacamole and spread evenly. Top with chopped cucumber, tomatoes and lettuce. Top with salsa. Sprinkle cheese over the top. Place sour cream in a zip lock bag and cut off the end, do a zig zag pattern across the top of the dip. Sprinkle with olives. Serve with popped tortilla chips or veggies.
Healthy Dip Recipe #2: Best Ever French Onion Dip
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 large sweet onions, chopped
- salt & pepper
- 1/2 cup beef broth
- 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 12oz plain greek yogurt
- 8oz 1/3-less fat cream cheese, at room temperature
Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. add onions, salt & pepper, worcestershire sauce, dried thyme, garlic powder, sugar, and beef broth then stir well. Turn heat to high and bring broth to a boil, then turn heat back down to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are very soft and dark brown, about 35-40 minutes. If onions begin to burn, turn heat down to medium-low. Remove onions to a plate or bowl then cool completely.
In a large bowl, stir together greek yogurt and cream cheese until smooth then fold in cooled onion mixture. Spoon into a serving dish then serve with chips and veggies.
Healthy Dip Recipe #3: Chopped Cherry Salsa
- 1 c. cherries, pitted and cut in quarters
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 1 jalapeno, chopped
- 1/4 c. cilantro, finely chopped
- 1/2 lime, juiced
Chop it all up. Throw it in a bowl. Stir. Chill for an hour or so. Eat and ENJOY!
Share your game day dip recipes with us! Have a Chipper Super Bowl :)
Young kids can get bored quickly on the long Sunday Game Day. Keep your little ones happy and busy during Super Bowl with some fun activities like helping make some dip and making their own paper football field game! Paper football is an easy, fun game passed along the generations that will occupy your children all day.
Take it a step farther with an arena for your paper football from a recycled cereal box, Fortified for FUN! :)
Or just make a goal without the field if you don’t have a cereal box on hand. You’ll need straws and tape. If your kiddos don’t want to take turns holding their goal, also have a small cardboard box (recycled crayon box or similar sized box works great) to make a goal stand.
Bend straws to create “u” shape of the field goal posts and tape into position. Use duct tape or colored tape to represent your team’s colors!
Create a stand for the goal post out of an empty crayon box covered in duct tape to prop up your goal.
That’s it for the simple goal post! Making a goal field take a bit more time but is a ton of fun and controls the area where your kiddos are flicking their paper football (scroll down for instructions on making your Paper Football). To make a field, you’ll need:
- 1 empty cereal box
- Construction paper
- Toothpicks (or use Straws and instructions above, both work great!)
- 1 white crayon
- Duct tape
Start by cutting off a side of your cereal box. If kid friendly scissors won’t work, have an adult use a sharper pair or crafting knife.
Make the sides more sturdy by covering them with duct tape.
Cut a sheet of green construction paper to fit inside the box. Draw yard lines using a white crayon and a ruler. Alternatively, have your child color a piece of recycled white paper, leaving gaps for the yard lines. This give you and opportunity to talk about recycling and how we can Reuse and Recycle to help keep our planet clean and beautiful!
Place the paper inside the box to make the field. Secure with tape or glue if necessary.
To make the goal posts, tape the corners of the toothpicks (or straws) into place and secure with tape.
Make a small hole in the bottom of the box for the goal posts to stick into. Secure with a piece of tape along the bottom if needed.
Once you have your field, you can make your paper football! Folding a paper football is also super simple. Take an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper and cut it in half lengthwise. You can use brown construction paper or color some recycled paper brown.
Then fold the paper lengthwise.
Take a corner and pull it over to the opposite edge creating a triangle.
Continue folding up and creating triangles for the length of the paper until you can’t make anymore.
Make the last triangle come the opposite direction.
Cut off some of the end to make it a bit smaller for tucking.
Tuck the end in to the open slot on the triangle of paper so you are “closing” the football.
Draw laces on your foot ball with a white crayon. And you’re done!
Hold the football and flick it to get it through the goal post. Move farther and farther away to make it harder.
Have fun seeing who can make the most goals! What other games does your family play on game day? Share with Chipper!
With Winter in full affect, lakes and waterways have frozen over. Chipper has always wondered, what happens to all the flora and fauna below the surface? To answer this question, we first have to take a look at the chemical properties of water.
In general, most substances become more and more compact as they are cooled. However, the nature of water is such that, as it freezes, its molecules join into rings, each of which takes up more space than the same number of liquid molecules. This means that ice (frozen water) is less dense than liquid water. For this reason, ice is lighter than water and will, in fact, float on water (which is why icebergs float).
Now, think of what happens to a pond or lake as the temperature cools and the water begins to freeze. As ice crystals form, they float to the surface of the water. Eventually, the entire surface freezes over, covering the bulk of the water underneath, which is still liquid. Once the ice forms, it acts as insulation, helping to retain heat in the liquid below.
Thus, unless the temperature is extremely low for a very long period of time, the water below the ice does not freeze, although the ice may grow thicker. In a normal winter, the cold does not last long enough to freeze all the water, so the fish are able to live just fine until the coming of spring warms the surface and melts the covering of ice. Also, oxygen is trapped beneath the layer of ice, allowing fish and other aquatic animals to live comfortably in the frozen lakes and ponds.
Different animals have developed various patterns and characteristics to survive the cold winter months. Male pink salmon and some sockeye salmon develop pronounced humps just before they spawn. The humps make it less likely the salmon will spawn in the shallow water at margins of the stream bed, which tend to dry out during low water flows or freeze in winter.
Certain species of cod, flatfish and polar fish have a reduced metabolic rate and produce antifreeze molecules called glycoprotein to reduce the freezing point of their body fluids. One could look at it as the fishy version of bears hibernating, a survival tactic that has seen these finned friends outlive many other creatures on Earth.
When water bodies freeze over, the waterfowl, like ducks and geese, migrate south to enjoy the warmer weather and hunt for fish. Animals like seals, penguins, walruses and a wide variety of sea birds are all fish eaters and survive in the extreme cold. They live in the Arctic and Antarctic Circle, amidst the icecaps. The land is completely frozen. Yet these animals manage to live in this region because they are warm-blooded and keep warm through their fur like all mammals. They also have a large layer of fat which helps keep them warm.
As for flora, some hardy plants in large bodies of water can survive a surface freeze. If a heavy amount of snow accumulates on the ice surface of lakes, the amount of light penetrating through the ice will be reduced. This will result in less light reaching aquatic plants below the ice which is needed to carry out photosynthesis thus, causing the plants to die and be broken down by bacteria. These bacteria will then use up the oxygen and cause a drastic drop in dissolved oxygen in the water. When this winter oxygen depletion occurs, marine life such as fish that depends on oxygen will die. As fish and other marine life die, their bodies decompose and use up even more oxygen, and the depletion of oxygen gets even worse. This is called “Winterkill” and can be very damaging to fragile ecosystems.
Anyway you look at it, the winter brings the harsh cold but there’s plenty of fun to be had as well: ice skating, skiing, sleighing and more! What’s your favorite thing about winter? Share with Chipper!
You may have felt it last night in the grocery store (if you were one of the lucky few living in a climate that welcomed you outside) – the lines were long and shelves seemed short on the necessary items that make for a good lunch and an easy family meal. Everyone is settling into the New Year and back to routines. For many of us, today is the first day back to school and back to a full workweek which might have you feeling frazzled and we’re barely a week in to 2014.
But rather than stress, I say have a ball! A meatball…and welcome the week with a hearty meal that only tastes better with each passing day. The meatball is versatile – from topping Old Smokey covered with cheese to sliced and slathered with sauce in a sub sandwich; it’s a great, easy opportunity to get a head start on your weekly meal planning.
Making meatballs is also a great opportunity to welcome your kids into the kitchen. It may seem messy to think about but you keep everything contained in the bowl, sauté in one pot, and just wash up when finished.
A few quick tips then let’s get ready to roll:
- Children under Five – Little hands make big messes so pre-measure and let your kids pour ingredients into the bowl. Also, if you have concerns over your child touching a raw meat product, use spoons to mix ingredients then form with minimal touching.
- Children Five and older - Pull out the recipe and read together. Let your child help you identify the ingredients, and help you measure.
- Children Eight and older – Let your child read and direct the cooking process. Don the aprons and begin. This age is perfect for getting into the mix and rolling, to engaging at the stove and cooking.
- All ages – It goes without saying but I’ll say it: Be mindful of the stove, teach your children appropriate safety at the burner, how to handle boiling water, keeping your space clean, and proper physical clean up. Safety in the kitchen is a daily discipline and when you start early it becomes intuitive.
We take the Mary Poppin’s approach in our family when cooking – “practically perfect in every way…” – so we don’t mind the imperfections. We love this scratch recipe but I welcome the savvy chef whom knows when to call in a little help from pre-made. FYI, you can find ready-made meatballs and sauce at the market which makes boiling water the biggest task.
Meatballs in Sauce with Spaghetti (or your favorite noodle) Courtesy of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook
1 pound ground beef
½ cup dried bread crumbs
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1 tablespoon basil, crumbled
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons oil
4 cups Tomato sauce (make or pour your favorite brand)
½ pound parmesan cheese, grated (or shake your favorite from the container)
1 package spaghetti
In a bowl, combine the beef, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, basil, egg, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly and shape into balls. Big or little, it doesn’t matter. Melt the oil in a saucepan and brown the meatballs on all sides – lightly. Drain off any fat. Add your tomato sauce, cover and simmer up to 25 minutes.
Boil your water and prepare pasta according to package. Serve meatballs and sauce over pasta and sprinkle with cheese.
Here is the recipe for the Fanny Farmer sauce if you choose to go homemade.
Remember, twice as good the second day and share you’re favorite meatball recipe!
It’s that time of the year again.
Happy New Year! A few days in and I’m already asking myself why I resolved to eliminate sugar from my diet. Many researchers state that most individuals whom set New Year’s resolutions are successful for the first two weeks – about 71% according to the University of Scranton, Journal of Clinical Psychology, and barely 50% of us are still committed by the sixth month. The biggest reason we abandon our resolutions is because there isn’t a clearly defined strategy to help us achieve the goal. Kind of like parenting! Most of us say “I want to be a better parent” …or I want my child to achieve ____, but what we need to do first is stop and assess the needs of our children and ourselves then create a clear path to success.
For example, my resolution (daily) is always: “I want to raise an emotionally fit, capable and conscientious child.” The results of this goal would be an independent, productive adult thriving within the life they choose to lead. I’ve got a ways to go but I try to practice an approach steeped in behaviors I learned as a child, and ideas studied and proven by various behaviorist around the world.
The basic strategy for our family is: Provide a safe and stable environment, Ground Rules, based on mutual respect and contribution; and encouragement to reach the stars. My childhood was choc full of responsibilities “chores” which needed to be completed before free time. Now it’s the same with my children. This simple strategy teaches everyone to participate in the operating of the home both physically and emotionally. Adopting this strategy alone will help your child grow up to take care of themselves; while also infusing a collaborative spirit necessary for them to grow in a business environment.
My daily action items are exercises in patience, creativity, motivation, support, and resolve. Allowing my children to see this gives them a better understanding that life takes work and the rewards are loving and joyful. I resolve to continue these daily actions.
As you set your own resolutions for 2014 how about adding in your strategy, and make it inclusive. Research shows sharing your resolutions and goals with others builds a support system so start with your spouse or partner at home.
For example, instead of saying “I want to lose ten pounds,” how about: “This year I will take a daily walk with my child or partner and always have fresh fruit in a bowl on the counter.” Hmmmm, sounds easy. Did you roll your eyes? Well, instinct might just send you reaching for that apple next time you come home starving from a day full of “to do’s” rather than foraging through the cupboard and opening up a bag of chips. And that walk you schedule will become routine; research shows repetition is what reinforces a behavior so let’s add some physical activity for the entire family. Don’t let inclement weather deter you – a little music in the living room will get your heart rate up and awaken all the senses when you’ve got a little one to boogie with.
So back to me and my big resolution to eliminate sugar from my diet – well, three days in and I’ve adopted a long-standing Chipper mantra “Healthy before sweet, can’t be beat.” We’ve said it many times but I was reminded by my own child today when I squirmed at the taste of coffee without any sugar. I’ll keep a healthy eating outlook and fresh veggies at-the-ready but my little spoonful of sugar to help start my day is back in the daily grind and it’s a Happy New Year once again.
During the Holidays and cold winter months, it’s easy to want to hibernate like Peabody the Bear! But with all the extra feasts and sweets, it’s important to stay active and keep your body healthy and strong. Don’t let the cold keep you inside all winter. Bundle up in your winter coats, hats, gloves and ear muffs and go enjoy the snow! Here’s a list of fun outdoor and indoor activities to try this winter and stay active with the kiddos while connecting with nature:
- Have a snowball fight or “contest” of who can roll the biggest ball
- Build a snowman: get creative and make some snow animals or a hand-stand snow man!
- Go sledding. Who can go the farthest?
- Watch the snow fall and catch snowflakes on your tongue, there are no two alike!
- Make a snow angel!
- Make snow paint. Simply add food coloring to water and put in a spray bottle, then go out and paint your yard!
- Build a snow fort or maze.
- Shoveling snow is hard work. It’s also awesome exercise — even for kids. Pick up a kid-sized shovel and have them help out by clearing a path in the snow, or digging to make fun patterns. Afterwards, they can have fun following their winding snow paths!
- Go ice skating at a local ring or lake.
- Blow bubbles on freezing days and watching them turn into ice bubbles — they look amazing!
- Hit the slopes with skis or snowboards!
- Go snowshoeing! Rent them or make your own.
- Head to the playground. It will be transformed by snow and ice, and more likely than not, you’ll have it all to yourselves!
- Play a game of winter horseshoe by burying a wide-mouthed water bottle in the snow so that the mouth is flush with the snow’s surface, then gathering sticks or small stones to toss into it from a few yards back. You can create your own version with a can or bowl in a backyard or park.
- Break out the binoculars and look for winter critters. They are easier to spot with the leaves all gone. How many animals can you and you little one’s spot?
- Try tracking some animals in the snow! Here’s a guide to recognizing animal tracks.
- Collect pine cones and make a craft!
- Make paper snowflake cut-outs.
- Reread a favorite book and check out Chipper’s Eco-Ecucational Series!
- Complete a jigsaw puzzle or play a game with the whole family.
- Take a winter hike and breathe in the smell of pine. How many different pine trees can you spot and name?
- Find pine branches to make and hang a wreath.
- Take a walk around the block to admire your neighbors’ holiday lights
- Go caroling and bring some Christmas cheer to your friends and neighbors!
What winter activities keep you moving? Let Chipper know!
‘Tis the season for gift giving! This doesn’t mean we have to empty our wallets and fill up our trash bins though. Americans spend 35% more money and throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than any other time of year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week! Not only does wasteful spending effect our savings, it hurts our planet with all the waste created. Let’s all do our part and lower the amount of trash we create this Holiday!
Take a look at some statistics of holiday spending in this infographic:
So how can we lower our costs and waste this Holiday? Reduce, Reuse and Recycle! If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet. If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields! The 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high. If we each sent one card less, we’d save 50,000 cubic yards of paper!
(Statistics found at Use Less Stuff. Visit this website and use the checklist to reduce your waste this holiday season!)
Everything from wrapping paper to Christmas trees is discarded after the festive fun is over. But there are so many ways to reduce our waste:
Paper - If all the wrapping paper we throw away was laid out in a line it would reach all the way to the Moon - that’s a lot of paper! But it’s very easy to recycle and saves you a ton of money each year. Put it in your recycle bin or take it to your local recycling center. Save salvageable paper and reuse next year! Or use it for some creative crafts and save on decorations too.
Why spend money on new gift bags every year? Reuse ones you are given again next year and save on paper! Save sturdy shopping bags throughout the year and cover up brand logos with old cards, wrapping paper or even a custom printed image! Find instructions to make custom gift bags here.
Christmas cards don’t have to be thrown away. Try cutting them up and making new cards, ornaments or gift tags out of them. You’ll be extra organized for next Christmas and save a few pennies!
If you have a real Christmas tree, it’s a great thing to recycle. There are services who will collect it for you and then shred and use as compost to help next year’s trees grow or as chipping to cover pathways.
How about getting a living Christmas tree with roots? That way it will keep on growing year after year and eventually be planted in your backyard.
It’s estimated that we throw out over 7 million tons of food every year. So why not help out in the kitchen and get creative with all that leftover turkey? Make a sandwich or soup instead of tossing it out. If you’ve got a compost bin, throw in all those veggie peelings. Birds love Christmas leftovers too! Any scraps will give them energy and nutrients to help them through the cold winter months.
If you’re given any presents that don’t fit or have old things that you won’t need anymore, don’t throw them away. Many charities pass on gifts to people in need. To reduce waste, give gifts of time and gifts that are sure to be used. Here are some suggestions:
- Certificates: Baby-sitting, taking out the garbage, doing the dishes, cleaning the house, or cleaning the car. Kids can make a “coupon book” for parents with chores, hugs and massages as gifts!
- Trips/Outings: Experiences are better than gifts! Museums, parks, beaches, hikes, full moon walks, or winter picnics are great activities to gift someone with. Or get some tickets for a movie, concert or sports event.
- Hand Made Gifts: Something home made is much more sentimental than something store-bought! Fill a basket with baked goods, assemble a collection of favorite family recipes, make a holiday bouquet from fresh greens, holly, etc. and tie with bow, make Christmas ornaments from family photos, or video tape family members telling favorite family stories/memories..
- Gift Certificates: The answer for those hard-to-shop-for friends and family! Restaurants, record stores, book stores, video rental stores, department stores, or grocery stores.
- Memberships: Help your loved ones get active, relax or learn with memberships to health spas, swim clubs, museums, zoos, or amusement parks.
- Subscriptions: Have a friend that loves to read? Magazines, newspapers, or book club subscription can make a great gift that lasts all year!
- Creative Gifts for Children: “Dress Up Box” filled with costume jewelry, scarves, hats, aprons, and ties; cooking equipment and a recipe with ingredients to encourage your little ones to help in the kitchen; blank journal or diary or blank scrapbook with scissors and tape where your child can get creative with and even save their holiday cards; flower seeds and pots to get them outdoors and gardening!
- Gifts to the Environment: Send e-greetings to family and friends who are on-line; add a battery charger with rechargeable batteries for electronic gift; bus/light rail/train passes, bicycles or walking shoes encourage friends and family to drive less!
For more tips on having an Environmentally Friendly Holiday, check out www.ReduceWaste.org
Other Holiday WasteWhile it is one of the most visible components of holiday waste, wrapping paper is not the worst. For every pound of wrapping paper that we throw away there are several pounds of cardboard packaging, blister packs, twist ties that shackled Elmo to his box, ribbons and bows. Behind the scenes there is even more waste. The gift that you purchased at the store was probably delivered in a master carton on a pallet surrounded by plastic wrap. Pre-consumer waste is really the hidden part of the iceberg of holiday waste and can only be reduced by reducing consumption or shopping at stores that are actively working to reduce waste. Believe it or not Walmart has, and continues to, reduce packaging waste through its highly ambitious and effective sustainability initiative. This year, as you search for last-minute gifts, consider gifts that keep on giving, such as an investment in Kiva or gifts that support a local services-based economy such as a 1-hour massage.
Online shopping helps you save on gas and transportation fees! Check out our Chipper Shop for some great eco-educational gifts, books and apps for the kids. We pride ourselves in keeping to our motto: “Less Packaging, More Fun!” How are you helping the planet this Holiday Season???
The Holiday Season is officially up and running! From Christmas feasts and family gatherings, to buying gifts and decorating the house, things can get a little hectic! Instead of focusing on the frenzy of it all, try to enjoy each moment as it comes and let the little things go …”It’s the most wonderful time of the year” after all!
Here are a few Chipper Tips as you approach the holidays: playful yet disciplined to help create boundaries for yourself and those around you.
1. It’s not “No” it’s “not Now” – Don’t give in to yourself or your child as it pertains to food, activities, or purchases. Set up a goal-oriented mindset. Establish the goal, write it down, work for it, and then reward. It becomes a game and everyone can celebrate the win – be it a sweet, ski outing, or outfit/toy. Do this together with your child so they understand that there are things that you want and may get, but some you need to work for as well. Check out our cute Chipper Plush for an adorable stocking stuffer that will delight your child and teach a daily “positive mindset” exercise!
2. I’m Chipper for… – We all say “I’m thankful” at Thanksgiving then most of us shop like crazy the day after and quickly forget the real reason for the season! This year, fill in the blank “I’m Chipper for ____” everyday with yourself or child. Research shows by focusing on what makes you happy you can improve your physical and mental health. The Mayo Clinic offers extensive research on the matter – but just try it for yourself. Identify something immediately in front of you to be happy about – I’m Chipper for skipping, bumping into an old friend, the penny I found, or the sunshine coming through the clouds. You can change your mindset and the effect is longer-lasting. Find full instructions here!
3. Being prepared – How many times have you said “you wish you would have been better prepared”? Adopt this exercise – get what you need done out of your head, off of your iPhone, and on to a pad that sits right with your keys or someplace accessible. Is it dry cleaning for you? Snack pack for your child? Whatever it is, just write it down and put it in a place where you can see it immediately. Sound familiar? Maybe something you saw your own parent do when you were a child? It works. Get it out of your head and onto paper so you can just get it done! Read about the benefits of writing things down here.
Teach your little ones about Recycling and taking care of our planet with these cute and eco-friendly Christmas Crafts! Learn how to make your Home Made Christmas Tree Ornaments from Recycled Cards here!
Fill your paper plate with buttons, sequins, glitter, yarn, pasta noodles, or even dried Fall leaves and make a Paper Plate Christmas Wreath. Here’s what you need to get started:
- Paper Plate
- Ribbon or String to hang
- Decorations: Red & Green Construction Paper, Glitter, noodles, paint, markers or crayons, buttons, or whatever tickles your fancy!
How to make it:
- Cut a hole in the center of your plate using the ridged edge as your guide. Don’t throw the scraps away! Cut into little circles and leaves and color with a red and green markers then glue together for little Mistletoes!
- Poke a small hole into the edge of your plate. String through a piece of ribbon or yarn and tie in a circle. This will be the “top” of your wreath and what you’ll use to hang it up once your done.
- Decide on your decorations: Color your plate with markers, mistletoe or glue on some buttons and painted noodles. Chipper loves glitter even though it can get a little messy (HINT: use another paper plate to decorate on to keep the mess to a minimum!) Sky’s the limit with how you decorate. There is no right or wrong way and allowing your child to decide for themselves how to decorate lets them to use their imagination and practice their problem solving skills. Here are a few example ideas:
4. Now go hang it up! Whether on your door, tree, or refrigerator, these make for fun decorations made with love by your tot.
Stray away from tradition and get real creative with an Adorable Snow Girl (or boy!).
What you need:
- Paper Plate
- Ribbon or yarn
- Construction Paper/Cardboard or colored recycled paper
- Googly Eyes
How to make it:
- Start with your face on the bottom of your paper plate: Add googly eyes with glue or draw on a face with markers. Cut out a triangle nose from construction paper/cardboard/recycled paper.
- Then make your hat: Trace your shape on cardboard or paper and cut out carefully. Add a cute flower or other decoration to the hat if desired using paper. Then glue (or double stick tape!) your hat onto the plate.
- Add hair: Cut 1″ think strips of paper and fold back and forth for a bit of crinkle. Attach to your hat with glue or tape.
- Lastly, add your scarf: Tie a piece of string or yarn into a bow and glue on. Voila! Cute little snow girl makes an adorable decoration for the house this Holiday Season.
Need some last minute Thanksgiving crafts and decorations? Try making these adorable crafts using recycled paper plates and fall leaves.
First, recycle a couple of paper plates that you have left over. Cut out the middle part of one of them if making a wreath, leaving the rim (about 1-1.5″ from edge).
Then, gather your decorations! Find colorful falls leaves and dry them over night in a book. Gather ribbons, buttons and anything around the house you want to decorate with. Find some colored construction paper or use recycled paper and markers to create your turkey body.
Finally, decorate! Use glue or double stick tape to attach leaves and create a Turkey! Fall leaves make the perfect turkey feathers. You can even find small leaves to make the beak and gobble. Use yellow and brown construction paper for the feet and body.
For the wreath, try wrapping ribbon around your plate and adding a few real dried leaves or fake felt ones. Buttons, feathers, acorns and more can be glued on as decorations.
When your done, hang ‘em up! On the door, or refrigerator, these cute fun crafts are a great way to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday as well as teach about recycling. Fill your plate and not our landfills by recycling and reducing waste in any way you can.
Have a Chipper Thanksgiving!
So steeped in tradition, the latke is open to interpretation. We created a Chipper favorite to celebrate two great family holidays landing on the same day this year Thanksgiving and Chanukah! Share the story with your children and weave in your own history; the opportunity to celebrate who we are, while acknowledging others, helps children develop an appreciation and respect for the world in which they live.
In America we enjoy many things: the ability to celebrate and choose our own religion, where we live, what we do in life, and the friends we keep. It seem obvious to our children today – and they even receive more freedom than the generation before them. But do kids today realize this?
Thanks a Latke Recipe
What you need:
- Frying pan
- Vegetable oil
- Potatoes (russets to sweet)
- Salt and Pepper
- Sour Cream
- Apple sauce and cranberries
- Roasted turkey breast sliced
*If you’ve made your mashed potatoes, have a half cup ready!
How to cook it: *Latkes can be made in advance and then baked to heat before serving.
- Two pounds russet potatoes
- Shred potatoes.
- Beat an egg in a large bowl.
- Pour in potatoes and coat. *Add in the mashed potatoes if you like as it yields a fluffy to crispy latke
- Pour about ¼ inch oil into frying pan and heat to medium high.
- Fry the latkes for 2-3 minutes on each side until they turn golden brown. Test the first latke and make sure it’s cooked all the way through; if the latkes are browning faster than they’re cooking, reduce skillet heat.
- Place on paper towel and pat.
- Place one to three latkes on a plate then layer the turkey breast.
- Dot each latke with sour cream, applesauce and cranberries then drizzle the gravy over them.
*Makes 12-16 medium latkes.
Enjoy and have a Chipper Thanksgiving!
“This sweet potatoes recipe is made even sweeter with orange juice, cinnamon, marshmallows and a pinch of LOVE.”
Thanksgiving is only 3 days away! Still trying to figure out what dish you’ll bring to the table? Try a classic and easy Sweet Potato and Marshmallow recipe that tastes great and is good for you! Sweet Potatoes are a great winter veggie filled with important nutrients (see image below.)
Even with some sweet marshmallows, this dish is healthy and filling! Marshmallows sometimes get a bad wrap but they really aren’t that bad for you, especially if you try some organic ones! Learn more about marshmallows rise to f(l)ame in this infographic!
- 2 (15 ounce) cans sweet potatoes or cook and mash your own: One 15-ounce can of sweet potatoes equals one cup fresh!
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup brown cane sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows (try organic!)
- Preheat oven to 350˚F.
- Place sweet potatoes in a 10×6 inch shallow baking dish and pour orange juice over.
- In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt; mix together and cut in margarine. Sprinkle over sweet potatoes.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with marshmallows and broil until browned.
What’s your favorite Thanksgiving Recipe? Let Chipper know and have a Chipper Thanksgiving!
The Gratitude Game to Promote Writing, Math and Thankfulness!
Get together as a family (on Thanksgiving or before) and play the gratitude game with your little ones! This fun and simple activity not only help you appreciate all you have, it improves your child’s writing and math skills! Here’s the rules to the game:
1. Each player gets a pencil and a piece of paper.
2. Time your writing giving more time to younger players, and write as many things you are grateful for as possible! Parents write for one minute, kids write for 3 minutes.
3. Have everyone share their thankful thoughts as they add them up to see how many each player came up with.
4. Have your child add up each players total to calculate how many thankful thoughts everyone came up with. How many did the kids come up with? How many did the adults come up with? What is the difference between the two? How many are there total?
5. Decorate and hang it up to reminded there are many things to be grateful for this Thanksgiving: home, family, friends, books, play, food, etc!
Alternatively, you can create a gratitude jar! Just write something you are grateful for down on a strip of paper, put it in your jar, and on Thanksgiving, have everyone read them out loud. Have your child count how many strips you’ve made then divide them depending on how many people are attending your Thanksgiving celebrations. Math, writing, and gratitude!
Toilet Roll Napkin Rings
Save those toilet rolls! There are SO many fun crafts and projects you can use them for. Make your very own napkin holders for Thanksgiving this year. Simply cut a regular sized toilet roll (or paper towel roll) into 2 inch think rings with a pair or scissors and decorate! Attach yarn, sequins, buttons or even pictures of your family members with glue or tape and for-go name labels! Here are a few examples to inspire you and you little one(s):
Helping Hands Activity
Let Chipper excite and reinforce good character in your children with the Helping Hands Activity Kit, on SALE this Holiday Season! It’s simple: acknowledge the good behavior on Chipper’s helping hand then let your child color and place on the poster. Includes Helping Hands storybook, poster, 25 helping hands. Download the FREE Helping Hands Lesson Plan here!
What other ways do you teach gratitude to your kids? Let Chipper know!
Make magic in the kitchen this holiday season! Eat seasonally and try adding these winter vegetables into your next meal! Look for these winter vegetables at farmers markets (if you’re lucky enough to have year-round markets near you) and in produce departments for the best flavor and greatest value in season. Specific crops and harvest dates will depend on your region’s climate and most of these are only available locally in temperate regions. Find details for your area with Regional Seasonality Guides and State-Specific Guides.
- Beets are in season in temperate climates fall through spring, and available from storage most of the year everywhere else. Fresh beets are often sold with their greens still attached.
- Belgian Endive are mostly “forced” to grow in artificial conditions, and are thus available year-round. Their traditional season (when grown in fields and covered with sand to keep out the light), like that of all chicories, is late fall and winter.
- Broccoli, like many cruciferous vegetables, can be grown year-round in temperate climates so we’ve forgotten it even has a season. But, like the rest of its family, it tastes best (that is, more sweet, less bitter and sharp) when harvested in the cooler temperatures of fall in most climates.
- Broccoli raabe, rapini is a more bitter, leafier vegetable than its cousin, broccoli, but likes similar cool growing conditions.
- Brussels sprouts grow on a stalk, and if you see them for sale that way snap them up – they’ll last quite a bit longer than once they’re cut.
- Cabbage is bright and crisp when raw and mellows and sweetens the longer it’s cooked. The cooler the weather in grows in, the sweeter it tends to taste (this effect is called “frost kissed”).
- Cardoons taste a lot like artichokes; look for firm, heavy-feeling specimens.
- Carrots are available from winter storage from local growers in many areas, and fresh in warmer and temperate regions.
- Cauliflower may be grown, harvested, and sold year-round, but it is by nature a cool weather crop and at its best in fall and winter and into early spring.
- Celeriac/celery root is at its best in the cooler months of fall, winter, and early spring (except in cold climates, where you’ll find it during the summer and early fall).
- Celery is at its best in the fall, with its harvest continuing through winter in warm and temperate climates.
- Chicories are cool weather crops that come into season in late fall (and last in temperate climates through early spring).
- Curly Endive (Frisée) is a chicory at its best in fall and winter.
- Escarole is another bitter chicory in season fall and winter.
- Fennel‘s natural season is from fall through early spring. Like most cool weather crops, the plant bolts and turns bitter in warmer weather.
- Herbs (from hothouses in cooler climates)
- Horseradish is at its best in fall and winter. Like so many other root vegetables, however, it stores well and is often available in decent shape well into spring.
- Jerusalem artichokes/sunchokes are brown nubs, that look a bit like small pieces of fresh ginger. Look for firm tubers with smooth, tan skins in fall and winter.
- Kale is like all hearty cooking greens – cooler weather keeps it sweet.
- Kohlrabi (late fall) comes into season by the end of fall, but stays at its sweet best into winter.
- Leeks more than about 1 1/2 inches wide tend to have tough inner cores. The top green leaves should look fresh – avoid leeks with wilted tops.
- Onions (storage)
- Parsnips look like white carrots and have a great nutty flavor. Look for thinner parsnips, since fatter ones tend to have a thick, woody core you need to cut out.
- Potatoes (storage)
- Radicchio, like all chicories, radicchio is more sweet and less bitter when the weather is cool.
- Radishes (large varieties)
- Rutabagas also known as “yellow turnips” and “Swedes” are a sweet, nutty root vegetables perfect in stews, roasted, or mashed with plenty of butter.
- Shallots from storage bring a sweet and delicate onion-slash-garlic flavor to winter cooking.
- Sweet potatoes are often sold as “yams.” They store very well and so are available from local sources year-round in warmer areas and otherwise from late summer through winter.
- Treviso (radicchio)
- Turnips have a bad rap they don’t deserve. Fresh turnips have a sharp but bright and sweet flavor. Look for turnips that feel heavy for their size.
- Winter squash of all sorts comes into season in early fall and usually last well into winter.
SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE
Looking for the perfect Thanksgiving dish? Try making this seasonally sound Sweet Potato Casserole recipe with your little ones. Have them measure out the sugar and salt, beat the eggs, and/or mash your potatoes. Small accomplishments not only build confidence, they encourage your child to help out. Learn more about motivating little Helping Hands!
- 4 Cups Sweet Potatoes, cooked and mashed
- 8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
- 1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter, softened
- 2 Eggs, beaten
- 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
- 2 1/2 Tbsp. Dry Sherry
- 1/4 Tsp. Salt
- 3/4 Cups Black Walnuts, chopped
- 1/2 Tsp. nutmeg, freshly grated if possible
- Pre-heat oven to 350˚F
- With electric mixer (NOT food processor), whip all ingredients together except for walnuts and nutmeg until light.
- Stir in walnuts and put into buttered casserole dish.
- Spread evenly and grate fresh nutmeg over the top.
- Bake for 45 min. until golden brown!
- ENJOY :)
Roasted chestnuts, spiced pecans and nut crackers! Tis’ the season for some deliciously healthy nuts. Try this Spiced Pecan Recipe to perfect your next salad or put out as an appetizer for you Holiday party. You and your little one(s) won’t be able to each just one!
- Spray Olive Oil
- 2 Cups Pecan Halves
- 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar, firmly packed
- 1/4 Cup melted Butter
- 4 Tsp. Mexican Hot Pepper Sauce (CHOLULA or any type you prefer)
- 1 Tsp. Salt
- 1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper
- Pre-heat oven to 350˚F
- Lightly spray olive oil on cookie sheet.
- Mix all other ingredients together and spread on pan in 1 layer.
- Bake 10 minutes until lightly toasted, stirring once.
- Cool and ENJOY! Makes 2 cups of yumminess.
What’s your favorite Thanksgiving Day recipe? Let Chipper know!
DIY Leaf Animals
All it takes is a little embroidery floss or a marker to turn fresh fall leaves into a fun project for you and the little one(s)!
It’s time to head outside and hunt for interesting leaves! Here are two great ideas for using fresh leaves as a canvas for embroidery or press them and draw fun animal friends!
Get creative and let your child make their favorite animals from fall leaves! Gather together outside and try some of these other Fun Fall Activities.
Drawing on Leaves
Leaves are great for drawing animals with ears, like foxes, cats, and owls. Chipper recommends using leaves from tulip and maple trees or from a common grapevine.
What You Need
- Leaves, pressed in a heavy, thick book for a couple of days
- Markers, black and white
Take a look at the shape and color of your leaf—there is definitely an animal in there! You can even frame the finished project. This little owl is framed in a painted cheese plate. Plastic tops make great frames for lots of projects so don’t throw them away.
Stitching On The Leaves
Have you ever tried to embroider a fresh leaf? It’s easy and fun! Find some fresh, tough leaves and get your needle and floss ready!
What You Need
- Fresh leaves work better than dry ones: I used leaves from a grapevine and walnut tree
- Blunt needle
- Embroidery floss
Take your leaf, thread your needle, and start sewing!
You might want to press the finished leaf in a book.
Eagle Owl Sewing Card
For little hands, make a sewing card for the eagle owl on a tulip tree leaf.
What You Need
- Printable eagle owl sewing card template (download here)
- A4 printer paper 90-120g
- Blunt needle
- Embroidery floss
Download the printable sewing card template and print it.
Take the blunt needle and carefully punch holes at the ends of the white lines.
Cut out the template cards along the dotted line.
Thread your needle and start sewing!
That’s all there is to it! Now you’re set with a couple of fun fall activities that will keep you and the little ones busy on a crisp, rainy afternoon!
“Time to get ready for bed!” you say. “Oh, no!” your child thinks. “Why do I have to go to bed? Sleep is boring, and I’m not even tired!” They’d rather read that great book or that computer game that they’re winning. But sleep is so much more important than kids even realize. Even smaller children can recognize that they feel groggy and cranky after not getting enough sleep. Learning more about the importance of sleep and how it makes you feel at your best with encourage them to shut those little eyes!
Why You Need Sleep
The average kid has a busy day. There’s school, taking care of chores, running around with friends, going to sports practice or other activities, and doing homework. By the end of the day, their little bodies need a break! Sleep allows one’s body to rest for the next day. Everything that’s alive needs sleep to survive. Even dogs and cats curl up for naps. Animals sleep for the same reason we do — to give your body a tiny vacation!
When a child gets a good nights sleep, their mind and body are rejuvenated to learn and grow the next day. Research has shown that even getting a single hour more of sleep a night can actually make you a happier person! Parents, consider these words from psychologist Norbert Schwarz the next time you tell yourself “I’ll just get a little less sleep tonight!”: “Making $60,000 more in annual income has less of an effect on your daily happiness than getting one extra hour of sleep a night.” You owe it to yourself and your child to get enough rest each night.
Your Brain Needs Zzzzzs
Not only is sleep necessary for your body, it’s important for your brain too. Though no one is exactly sure what work the brain does when you’re asleep, some scientists think that the brain sorts through and stores information, replaces chemicals, and solves problems while you snooze.
Most kids between 5 and 12 get about 9.5 hours a night, but experts agree that most need 10 or 11 hours each night. Sleep is an individual thing and some kids need more than others. Over sleeping can actually cause you to feel groggy as well so find the right amount of time that fits for your kids! A short afternoon nap can do wonders as well.
When your body doesn’t have enough hours to rest, you may feel tired or cranky, or you may be unable to think clearly. You might have a hard time following directions, or you might have an argument with a friend over something really silly. A school assignment that’s normally easy may feel impossible, or you may feel clumsy playing your favorite sport or instrument.
One more reason to get enough sleep: If you don’t, you may not grow as well. That’s right, researchers believe too little sleep can affect growth and your immune system— which keeps you from getting sick.
How to Catch Your ZZZs
For most kids, sleeping comes pretty naturally. Here are some tips to help your child catch all the ZZZs you need:
- Try to get your kids in bed at the same time every night; this helps their bodies get into a routine.
- Follow a bedtime routine that is calming, such as taking a warm bath, drinking some chamomile tea or reading a bedtime story.
- Limit foods and drinks that contain caffeine. These include some sodas and other drinks, like ice tea.
- Don’t have a TV in your child’s room. Research shows that kids who have one in their rooms sleep less. If you have a TV, turn it off when it’s time to sleep.
- Don’t let them watch scary TV shows or movies close to bedtime because these can sometimes make it hard to fall asleep.
- Don’t exercise right before going to bed. It will be harder for them to calm down and relax and get into bed. Do exercise earlier in the day or after school— it helps a person sleep better.
- Make sure your children use their bed just for sleeping — not doing homework, reading, playing games, or talking on the phone. That way, you’ll train their bodies to associate your bed with sleep.
If your child has a hard time falling asleep for more than one or two nights or have worries that are keeping them from sleeping, just talk with them about what’s bothering them so they relax just enough to get ready to sleep. Another strategy is to tell them to make up a story in their mind as they try to fall asleep and start off their “dreaming stage!” What other ways do you get your child ready for bed? Let Chipper know!
Chipper is Feeling Funny for Fall! Don’t let the cold keep you inside. Bundle up and lets go play outside this Autumn season! Research has shown that children who play outdoors regularly are happier, healthier, and stronger. It also boosts immunity and lowers stress levels. Outdoor play not only benefits their physical and mental health, it gives children a chance to explore the mysteries of nature. Plus it’s a ton of fun!
Autumn Obstacle Course
Don’t let those leaves in the yard seem daunting! Chipper is here to help parents and educators make “work” and “learning” seem fun. Make a game out of raking up your fall leaves (this can work for shoveling snow if you live in a northern climate!) by forming an obstacle course. You can even have a “prize” to motivate your little one(s) to participate. Check out these yummy yet Healthy Halloween Snacks as a treat for your little helpers once they complete the course.
WHAT YOUR NEED:
- 3 bean bags (optional)
- A yard full of leaves
WHAT YOU DO:
Decide where you will build your course, what shape it will take, and what obstacles you will include. Here are some obstacle ideas to get you started:
- Pile of leaves to crawl through
- Bags of leaves to leap over
- Paper grocery bags that must be filled with leaves before continuing on
- Stations where your child must find three bean bags (or other objects) that are buried in a leaf pile
- A huge pile of leaves to dive into as the grand finale
To make an obstacle course, you’ll need leaves, lots of them. Give your child a small rake so he or she can help collect the leaves you’ll need. Then arrange the leaves into the obstacle course you designed earlier. If you have two kids who want to race, make two identical courses!
Ready, set, go! Now it’s time to have fun. Race with your child or referee two kids racing. Or time your child as he or she runs the course. Change the obstacles to keep the fun going.
- Fall into the season. Tell your child that autumn has another name – Fall! Ask if he or she can guess where the name came from. Explain that it refers to the time of year when the leaves on some trees turn color and “fall” off.
- Why do leaves change color? Explain to your child that leaves are green because they contain chlorophyll, a substance that helps plants make food. In fall, leaves stop making chlorophyll, and their green color fades. That’s when other colors that were underneath—the beautiful yellows, reds and oranges of fall—can show through. Ask your child to guess the most common leaf color (Answer: yellow.) Learn/teach more details for older kids!
- Fall recycling. Help your child discover ways that nature reuses old leaves. Overturn a bunch of leaves that have been on the ground for a while. You’re likely to find insects and other creatures. That’s because leaves provide these animals with food and shelter. Look for leaves from last year, and show your child how the old leaves have begun to decay. Explain that these old, rotten leaves enrich the soil, supplying food so other plants can grow.
Pumpkin Patch Fun
Try these fun pumpkin games to make Halloween EXTRA fun! Not only do they get you and your little one moving outdoors, they are a great way to spend time and connect with family! Early childhood connections are important and shape your child’s outlook for the rest of their lives. So take the time to play! Check out these cute Halloween Recycle Crafts for some indoor fun too.
WHAT YOUR NEED:
- 10 plastic bottles
- 1 large pumpkin
- Several small pumpkins (some may break during play)
WHAT YOU DO:
Pumpkins come in different shapes and sizes. While you’re at the pumpkin patch, see if you can find the roundest, the tallest, the funniest looking, the one with the curliest stem, the one with the longest stem, and one with no stem at all.
Partially fill your plastic bottles with water or any other material you can use for pins. Cut the stems off the pumpkins so they roll easier. Then set your “pins” on a flat, grassy surface, and start bowling with your pumpkin balls. The scoring system—or whether you score at all—is up to you!
Carve a pumpkin and leave a wide hole in the top. Take five steps away from the pumpkin and try to pitch pennies into the pumpkin. If it’s too hard, step closer. If it’s too easy, step farther away. The person who gets the most pennies in the pumpkin wins!
After Halloween, put your jack-o’-lantern and pumpkin bowling balls in your yard for local wildlife to enjoy. Squirrels like Chipper, raccoons, deer, and even many dogs will chow down with gusto on all parts of the pumpkin!
What other Fall activities do you and your family enjoy? Let Chipper know!
It’s time to get Chipper for Halloween and carve those pumpkins! There are lots of things to consider when carving your Jack-o-lantern: Should you carve a face or a scene? If a face, what kind of face? Scary? Funny? Share your Jack-o-lanterns photos with Chipper on Facebook for a chance to win a Chipper Plush Clippy!
Once you decide on what to carve, the next thing to consider is what to do with all the pumpkin insides? You can get creative and use if for your jack-o-lantern in some of the examples seen below. No matter what you choose to do, make sure to save those pumpkin seeds!
Pumpkin seeds are not only a tasty fall snack, they are packed with powerful nutrients and have an array of health benefits…like helping your kids fall asleep and providing a great source of fiber!
How To Roast Pumpkin Seeds:
1. Clean the seeds! The first and most difficult step in making your roasted pumpkin seeds is removing them from the stringy insides of your pumpkin. It’s easiest to try and do as much of this when you are first cleaning your pumpkin out. have one big bowl for the guts and another for the seeds. After picking off the strands, give them a GOOD rinse with water in a colander.
2. Boil for 10 minutes in salt water. Add the pumpkin seeds to a medium-sized pot of water along with 1 tsp salt. Bring it to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes over low-medium heat. This method helps make the pumpkin seeds easier to digest and produces a crispy outer shell during roasting.
3. Drain the seeds in a colander and dry lightly with a paper towel or tea towel. The seeds will stick to the towel, but just rub them off with your fingers. Don’t worry, they don’t have to be bone dry – just a light pat down.
4. Spread seeds onto a baking sheet and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil (use about 1/2-1 tsp depending on how many seeds you have). Massage oil into seeds and add a generous sprinkle of vegetable salt or fine grain sea salt will do. Try to spread out the seeds as thin as possible with minor overlapping.
5. Roast seeds at 325˚F for 10 minutes. REMEMBER: The inner seeds cook much faster than the outer shell! they are easy to burn so keep a close eye. Remove from oven and stir. Roast for another 8-10 minutes (if your oven temp is off, this could vary a lot!). During the last 5 minutes of roasting, remove a few seeds and crack open to make sure the inner seeds are not burning (you don’t want the inner seed brown). Cool a couple and pop them into your mouth to test. They are ready when the shell is super crispy and easy to bite through. The inner seed should have only a hint of golden tinge to it. They should NOT be brown.
6. EAT and ENJOY! Remove from oven, add a bit more veggie salt to your own taste, and dig in! There is no need to remove the outer shell; it’s quite possibly the best part.
Pumpkin seeds make a healthy alternative to popcorn or candy, especially during the sweet-craze of Halloween! Be sure to pair it with Vitamin C to absorb the most iron you can.
Pack them in your little one(s) lunch using a plastic baggy or make a gift out them with cute miniature mason jars. Just be sure to share and enjoy!
Are you feeling “chipper” about Halloween? Pumpkins, ghosties and bats galore, it’s time to carve out some craft time and share eco-friendly ideas that teach your kids the art of recycling. Why throw something away when it can be reimagined? Chipper and his new friend Recyclesaurus, spokes-dinasour at Keep Phoenix Beautiful, want everyone to know that landfills are running out of space; so we need to do our part to reuse, reduce, recycle and reconsider before we throw something away. Checkout these spooktacular ideas and share your ideas with us on Chipper’s Facebook page.
Halloween Critter Plastic Lids Craft
Mad Libs to Fad Lids! Make some jack-o-lanterns and other spooky creatures from recycled bottle caps or lids. Notorious for their longevity in the landfills, plastic lids can be reimagined, make holiday crafts and decorations! Follow Chipper’s blog for more ideas in the future.
- plastic lids
- permanent markers
- some multi-colored plastic (think of using the strip from around milk jugs or bread bag holders), construction paper, or felt…and any thing colorful you have around the house, like buttons, etc.
- hot glue gun
- Optional: Sticky magnet tape of you want to put your creations on the fridge!
- Optional: Google eyes for cute looking creatures!
Simply draw your face or creature on the lid with a permanent marker then use the hot glue gun to add flare! From googly eyes, to pipe cleaners, have fun making monster lids or keep it simple with jack-o-lanterns!
Halloween Milk Jug Lanterns Craft
clean empty gallon milk jugs, laundry detergent containers, or any large plastic container.
black permanent marker
holiday string lights
- for colored creatures, use acrylic paint or permanent markers. Paper mache works too!
Draw ghost eyes and a mouth on the milk jug/container. Leave the caps on to help keep the shape.
Use an exacto knife to cut a half dollar sized circle out of the side of the jug(s).
For one jug, place an LED light inside and you’re ready to go.
For a line of ghosts: Line your lanterns in a row and cut a second hole so you can string lights through the jugs. Pour sand in the bottom to weigh them down or a few rocks. Gently push in the string of lights and you’ve created a ghostly party!
Halloween Toilet Roll Crafts
We are always “chipper” for toilet paper roll crafts! There are so many things you can do with them! Frankenstein is one option using golf tees in his head, or try a simple mummy with some artfully draped toilet paper and some googly eyes. Sky’s the limit!
- toilet paper roll(s)
- black marker and/or paint
- colored markers and/or paint
- googly eyes
- glue or double stick tape
- 2 golf tees for Frankenstein’s bolts
- construction paper for the bat wings and jack-o-lantern leaves
Start by coloring your toilet paper roll. You can use markers, paint or just a cut strip of construction paper taped on and sized correctly.
Then add the face: use markers, googly eyes (tape or glue), pompoms, pipe cleaners, or other remnants you have around the house. Buttons work great as eyes!
Use scissors to cut your Frankenstein hair and cut out your bat wings. Chipper’s Helping Hands downloadable cut out work great as wings!
Place around the house or glue to chop sticks and place in the yard!
Halloween Jar Lanterns Craft
These are great looking Halloween Lantern Jars! Use fun halloween paper to cover some tins as flower center pieces or candy fillers. Or make some cute trick-or-treat jars! Just glue on orange tissue paper squares, then cut out and glue on eyes, nose, and mouth to make your Jack-o-Lantern and put a candle inside. Or make a black cat with some black construction paper!
Halloween Tissue Box Monster Craft
Here’s a funny monster craft recycled from a tissue box. Great for Earth Day, Halloween, or anytime!
- Tissue box
- corrugated cardboard
- popsicle sticks
- craft knife
- foam packaging peanuts
- pipe cleaners
- hole punch
- Remove the plastic from the inside of the tissue box.
- Paint entire box 1 color. Allow to dry.
- Paint a big mouth around the opening in a different color. Allow to dry.
- Cut 2 big circles for eyes and 2 ear shapes from cardboard.
- Paint the eyes black and the ears another color.
- Glue packing foam peanuts into the mouth for teeth.
- Paint 1 foam peanut for a nose and glue on.
- Glue white bottle tops to the black eyes.
- Cut pipe cleaners into small lengths and insert into the holes of the cardboard for eyebrows.
- Insert a popscicle stick between the cardboard of the eyes and ears.
- Punch a hole in each earlobe and tie a pipe cleanerloop for earings.
- Cut slits in the top and sides to insert the popsicle sticks for the eyes and ears.
Fall is officially here and Halloween is just around the corner! One of Chipper’s favorite Holidays, Halloween is all about dressing up and eating treats! What are you and your little one(s) going to be for Halloween? Let Chipper know on Facebook for a chance to win some fun prizes! Just LIKE, COMMENT, & SHARE to be in the running!
As a parent, it can be hard to avoid all the unhealthy candy given away at school or received Trick-or-Treating. As Chipper always says, “Healthy before sweet, can’t be beat!” So how can you get your kids to eat carrots instead of candy corns? Get creative and make some of these spooky treats your kids are sure to love!
- 1 banana
- creamy peanut butter
- pretzel sticks
- 2 mini chocolate chips, 2 peppercorns, or 2 pieces of black olive
- A red fruit snack, a small piece of red apple or strawberry
Slice the banana into 1-2 inch pieces. Spread a layer of peanut butter between each slice of banana. Break the pretzel sticks in half and press into the sides of the banana slices. Place of dollop of peanut butter onto the chocolate chips and stick on the front for the eyes. Dip the fruit snack in peanut butter and place that on the front of the banana for the tongue.
Spooky spider eggs
If deviling your eggs isn’t enough this Halloween, spider them too! First, devil your eggs. Then cut pitted black olives in half lengthwise. Place one half on top of an egg for the body, and cut the other half crosswise into thin slices to form the creepy legs. Presto, Deviled Spider Snack!
Vampire Bagel Bites
Sink your teeth into this well-clad Transylvanian bagel. We dare you to count the number of bites it takes before this spellbinding treat disappears.
- Spread cream cheese on a mini bagel half.
- Add triangle strips of red pepper for a colorful collar.
- Cut one Kalamata olive in half lengthwise, then slice one half lengthwise again. Use the two slivers as eyebrows. Slice the other half horizontally to make a triangle and use as the widow’s peak hairstyle.
- Use a shred of carrot as the nose and capers as the eyes.
- Decorate with thin slices of green onion for the mouth.
Ghost PB&J Sandwich
A simple but spooky ghost sandwich makes a lunchtime staple into a fun Halloween treat. For multiple hungry goblins use a variety of Halloween-theme cookie cutters such as pumpkins, witch hats, and cats to make a festive and tasty sandwich platter.
1. Make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
2. Use a ghost-shape cookie cutter to cut the sandwich into a ghost shape.
3. Press two raisins into bread — use peanut butter if necessary — for the ghost’s eyes.
Banana Ghosts and Orange Pumpkins
This is as healthy, cute and simple as you can get! Make the Banana ghosts with Bananas and Chocolate chips for the eyes and mouth. To make the pumpkins, remove the core from oranges or tangerines (cuties work great!) and chop small pieces of celery for the stems! Easy-peasy :)
So simple, just sharpie on tangerine skins and you have a jack-o-lantern in no time. It helps to make sure you buy smooth skinned tangerines as rougher skinned oranges do not take the marker well. The ink on these dried completely and didn’t smear when peeled.
Making real orange jack-o-lanterns is so easy! Cut the top just as you would a real jack-o-lantern, remove the top, use a spoon to remove the orange pulp and finish by cutting out the face. The pulp can be made into healthy orange smoothies!
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Save all those pumpkin seeds from you Jack-o-lantern and use them for a yummy, healthy snack full of fiber! Find the BEST PUMPKIN SEED RECIPE HERE!
- 1 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika (or smoked paprika would work nicely too)
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
On a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet, add pumpkin seeds. Try to remove as much pulp from the seeds as possible.
In a small bowl, combine oil, paprika, chili powder and salt. Stir to combine. Toss oil with pumpkin seeds, and coat evenly.
Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Cool, and serve.
A cool twist to a classic veggie platter! Arrange your baby carrots in a pumpkin shape and use 3 small square or triangle dip dishes for the eyes and mouth, filled with ranch or your favorite sauce. Create the mouth with sliced cucumbers and add a large piece of broccoli for the stem.
What are some healthy, spooky snacks you like to make? Or what other Fall Recipes do you like to make? Let Chipper know and have a Happy and Healthy Halloween :)
These sweet potato fries are a tasty Fall Recipe to try during the school year… especially if they’re crispy, coated in gluten-free panko, and an aromatic mix of parmesan, sage and garlic!
They’re so easy you can make them in minutes. Your kids, friends and family will adore you, and you can rest assured that you’ve given them a healthy snack or side dish. Find a list of health benefits gained from eating Sweet Potatoes below!
(based on 2 potatoes)
- 1 sweet potato per person
- 1/2 cup of gluten-free panko
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 4 or 5 leaves sage, finely chopped
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 450˚F.
- Cut potatoes in half and then in 1/4-inch steak fry slices.
- Place in a large mixing bowl, add the oil and toss until all are well coated (add more if needed).
- Season with salt and pepper and toss.
- Mix together the panko, parmesan, sage and garlic and place on a plate or leave on the cutting board.
- Dip each fry into the mixture on both sides. Press the mixture down with your hands to help it stick.
- Place fries in a single layer on a baking sheet that’s been lightly coated with olive oil or place a sheet of parchment paper on the tray and then layer.
- Bake for about 20 minutes or until cooked through and crispy.
- Enjoy! :)
Not only are sweet potatoes readily available, inexpensive, and delicious, there are many other reasons to love these yummy vegetables. Here are 9:
1. They are high in vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 helps reduce the chemical homocysteine in our bodies. Homocysteine has been linked with degenerative diseases, including the prevention of heart attacks.
2. They are a good source of vitamin C. While most people know that vitamin C is important to help ward off cold and flu viruses, few people are aware that this crucial vitamin plays an important role in bone and tooth formation, digestion, and blood cell formation. It helps accelerate wound healing, produces collagen which helps maintain skin’s youthful elasticity, and is essential to helping us cope with stress. It even appears to help protect our body against toxins that may be linked to cancer.
3. They contain Vitamin D which is critical for immune system and overall health at this time of year. Both a vitamin and a hormone, vitamin D is primarily made in our bodies as a result of getting adequate sunlight. You may have heard about seasonal affective disorder (or SAD, as it is also called), which is linked to inadequate sunlight and therefore a vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D plays an important role in our energy levels, moods, and helps to build healthy bones, heart, nerves, skin, and teeth, and it supports the thyroid gland.
4. Sweet potatoes contain iron. Most people are aware that we need the mineral iron to have adequate energy, but iron plays other important roles in our body, including red and white blood cell production, resistance to stress, proper immune functioning, and the metabolizing of protein, among other things.
5. Sweet potatoes are a good source of magnesium, which is the relaxation and anti-stress mineral. Magnesium is necessary for healthy artery, blood, bone, heart, muscle, and nerve function, yet experts estimate that approximately 80 percent of the population in North America may be deficient in this important mineral.
6. They are a source of potassium, one of the important electrolytes that help regulate heartbeat and nerve signals. Like the other electrolytes, potassium performs many essential functions, some of which include relaxing muscle contractions, reducing swelling, and protecting and controlling the activity of the kidneys.
7. Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet-tasting but their natural sugars are slowly released into the bloodstream, helping to ensure a balanced and regular source of energy, without the blood sugar spikes linked to fatigue and weight gain.
8. Their rich orange color indicates that they are high in carotenoids like beta carotene and other carotenoids, which is the precursor to vitamin A in your body. Carotenoids help strengthen our eyesight and boost our immunity to disease, they are powerful antioxidants that help ward off cancer and protect against the effects of aging. Studies at Harvard University of more than 124,000 people showed a 32 percent reduction in risk of lung cancer in people who consumed a variety of carotenoid-rich foods as part of their regular diet.2 Another study of women who had completed treatment for early stage breast cancer conducted by researchers at Women’s Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) found that women with the highest blood concentrations of carotenoids had the least likelihood of cancer recurrence.
9. There are versatile. Try them roasted, puréed, steamed, baked, or grilled. You can add them to soups and stews, or grill and place on top of leafy greens for a delicious salad. I enjoy grilling them with onions and red peppers for amazing sandwich or wrap ingredients. Puree them and add to smoothies and baked goods.
October is here! Autumn is underway and it’s time to enjoy one of the most popular fall fruits: Apples! One of the world’s healthiest foods, apples have numerous health benefits and are sweet enough to get kids to eat them without hesitation. Still have difficultly convincing your little one(s) to munch on this healthy snack? Try this tasty yet nutritious snack after school or even for dessert:
Peanut Butter Honey Apples
A classic recipe with some oomph:
- Cut apples into bite sized wedges and remove seeds and core with knife or apple-corer.
- Then dip in peanut butter or spread peanut butter onto apples with knife. Whichever you prefer!
- Finish by drizzling on some honey with a spoon.
There are many variations to this yummy classic snack. Make it an apple sandwich by cutting your apple into flat round slices and put peanut butter and honey in-between two slices. Or add the three ingredients between two slices of bread to make it a real sandwich! Another idea is to add cinnamon to make it extra special this holiday season. Have other ideas? Share them with Chipper!
Learn more about which apples to use for what in Your Autumn Guide To Apples [Infographic]!
Recycled Toilet Paper Roll Apple Craft
This craft is awesome because it requires almost no supplies, and it’s safe to assume most of us have paper rolls around the house. Oh and it’s so cute! These could also be used for cute apple napkin rings, a useful craft perfect for the Holiday Season!
- Gather your materials. You will need a toilet paper roll, red and green paint, a sponge paint brush ( any brush or even fingers will work but sponges work best!), scissors and glue.
- Start by cutting your roll into rings, you can make think or thin.
- Cut 1 or 2 into strips ( these will be made into the leaves).
- Paint the rings red, inside and out. Let dry.
- Paint the strips green. Let dry.
- When the paint is dry cut the strips into leaf shapes.
- Bend the bottom.
- Add glue
- Stick it on the red ring! Use as decorations, fun toys, or napkin holders!
Recycled Plastic Bottle Apple Craft
Chipper loves to reduce, reuse and recycle! The bottoms of plastic drink bottles come together to form what looks remarkably like an apple shape. By varying the size of the bottle bottoms, you can make bigger or smaller kids apple crafts to use as boxes for all sorts of things.
- Cut off the bottoms of two drink bottles. (You will have to do this for the children, as it requires sharp scissors or a knife.)
- Have children fill one of the bottle bottoms with whatever they like – red colored treats, little notes, small toys, or anything else they can think of. They can also crumple up some red cloth, red napkins, red tissue paper or red-colored recycle paper inside the apple crafts for kids, which makes them a bit more decorative.
- Punch two holes in each bottle bottom. Now have your child close the “apple” by sliding the second bottle bottom on top of the first. He or she can add a stem and leaves made of colored cardboard, craft foam and/or felt for decoration.
- By threading ribbon through the holes and tying a bow, you can secure the lid onto each of the kids apple crafts.
- Finally, have your child add a note with the recipient’s name or a sweet message.
This “apple for the teacher” back to school craft for kids is perfect for children to present to their teachers during the first week of school – or any time, really. Apples are also one of the symbols of the Jewish New Year, so this also makes a great Rosh Hashana craft for any Jewish friends or teachers in your kids’ lives!
Recycled Paper Plate Apple Craft
Re-imagine and old paper plate using torn red paper, tissue or napkins and gluing them on! Then just cut out a stem and a leaf and hang up on the fridge. This is a very simple and easy craft for your little one’s to try and they make cute, home-made decorations for Fall, the Holidays, or a classroom!
Baking with kids is fun AND educational! Teach them healthy habits while they practice their mathematical, reading and motor skills.
Make it mathematical! Baking involves simple measurements that can help your little one learn about fractions and proportions. Whether you double the recipe or just add two 1/2 teaspoons to make a whole, add a dash of math into the experience. Learning hands-on helps kids really understand a concept. Depending on your little one(s) age, you can even get into the chemistry and ask why you have to add baking soda to the recipe.
Make it collaborative! Invite a friend over or have siblings work together as you follow the recipe. Taking turns is an important lesson for kids to learn and baking is a great way to put it into practice. Have one child add one ingredient and the other add the next. Have them figure out which measuring cup to use and help each other mix it all up! Team work is a valuable lesson at any age.
Don’t forget to teach them Chipper’s Tip on Healthy Eating Habits:
“Healthy before sweet, can’t be beat!”
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature, plus more for pan
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (4-5)
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or non-stick spray a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan or miniature Bundt pan for shorter bake time; set aside. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, and beat to incorporate.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture, and mix until just combined. Add bananas, sour cream, and vanilla; mix to combine. Stir in nuts, and pour into prepared pan.
- Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Let rest in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool.
- Enjoy! :)
What’s your favorite Fall Recipe? Share it or other tips with Chipper to receive a FREE gift! Enter our fall photo contest by posting a picture of how you’re chipper for fall to Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook and hash tag with #Chipper4Fall!
One week till Christmas! Are you ready for the festivities? Celebrate in style and try decorating with some of these cute crafts made from recycled materials. They are fun and easy to make and a great way to spend some time with your kids. The Holidays are about spending time with the ones you love and making everything sparkle and glow (from the inside-out). 7 days left — 7 crafts: Time to get Crafty this Christmas!
1) Corky Rudolph Decoration:
All you need for this simple craft is a recycled cork (which should be plentiful during the Holidays), a brown pipe cleaner, a red bead or pin for the nose, and some googly eyes! Don’t have ornament hooks? Just bend some paper clips out–they work great! Don’t want to buy googly eyes? Just draw some on with a permanent marker, cut some out with paper, or find something around the house like buttons, push pins, or pom poms.
Twist you brown pipe cleaner around your cork in the middle and then shape ends into antlers. Then ass your nose and eyes: use glue (hot glue gun works best but any will work if you let dry long enough) or just stick in a push pin nose. Then attach your ornament hook/paper clip/string, hang on your tree or around the house, and voila! You have a quirky Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer decoration!
You can also make cute reindeer from recycled toilet roles or lids too! All you need is some brown construction paper or paint, googly eyes and something red for Rudolph’s nose!
2) CD Ornament:
Create a personalized ornament add to your collection by using a recycled CD! Not only does it provide a sturdy base for your ornament, but you can design some neat looks with its circular shape. This would is a great project to showcase your family’s holiday photos through the years. Or get nuts with some puffy/glitter paint! Anther idea is to color your CD with some markers, add Elmer glue, and let dry for a pastel colored CD decoration.
3) Clay Pot Snowman
Use an old plant pot or a recycled plastic cups to make snowmen! Find some wrapping paper or use recycled paper first and wrap your pot/cup using tape or glue. Then use markers or puffy paint to make your snowman face! Torn fabric or ribbon can be used to decorate the top. Just cover a cup with some paper, poke a hole in the top with scissors to hang (with string, ribbon or a bent paper clip), and let your child use their imagination to make a original ornament!
4) Egg Carton Silver Bells
Transform a simple egg carton cup into a fabulous bell ornament! This is a simple project, good for a parent and young child to make together on a winter night!
- Egg Carton
- Large Needle
- Thin ribbon or yarn (thread works too since these are quite light!)
You can do the parts that need scissors and needle depending on your little one(s) age(s). Your child(ren) can wrap the foil and hang the finished bell. Each bell is made using one cup cut from an egg carton. Start off by cutting off an egg carton cup and trimming around the edges. Cut a piece of tin foil about 6-inches square and wrap it around the egg carton cup and tuck the extra foil into the inside of the cup. Set the foil wrapped egg carton cup on your table upside down (open side should be on the table). Poke a small hole in the center of the egg carton cup using a needle. Cut about 12-inches of narrow ribbon or thick yarn. Holding the two ends of the ribbon together, tie two or three knots on top of each other. Push the other end (the looped end) up through the hole so that the knot is inside the bell. Pull the ribbon up as far as it will go. Your bell is now ready to decorate if you like. You can decorate with stickers, glitter, or anything else you have around or just leave it plain. Hang on your Christmas tree and enjoy!
5) Festive Container
Make a fun container perfect for a Holiday gift of cookies/etc. using a recycled Pringles potato chip container or a coffee container or a oatmeal container (pretty much any container you have used that has a sealed top). You can even send these in the mail!
- Items to Decorate (see below)
Clean out the inside with paper towels letting them absorb most of the oil that might be left in the can or whatever was in your recycled container. Then using paper, fabric, or wrapping paper cover the outside. Hot glue works best for the fabric and wrapping paper; white glue or tacky glue is sometimes better for construction paper. Both work fine though so use whatever you have. Now get creative! Decorate with markers, glitter and sequins–sky’s the limit!
If you are using this container for cookies, put waxed paper inside once the outside is decorated. Stack cookies into the can just like the chips used to be. If there is a little space at the top and another cookie won’t fit you can use a little waxed paper to act as packing. Put the top back on and you have a wonderful cookie gift for friends, family or Santa!
6) Old Bags, New Look
Why spend money on new gift bags every year? Re-use, Reduce, and Recycle! Save sturdy store bags throughout the year. As the holidays approach, the family personalizes the bags (and covers any store names or logos) by gluing on old holiday cards.
- Sturdy store bags
- Old holiday cards
- Wrapping paper
- Glitter pens
Glue old holiday cards (you can also added pieces of wrapping paper) to sturdy store bags you’ve saved. You can embellish the bags with glitter pens, adding stickers and other decorative touches. Save money, have fun, and give customized gift bags to all your loved one this year!
7) Home Made Dreidel from Plastic Bottle Caps
Here’s a Hanukkah craft that’s also a Hanukkah game! Spinning tops are a traditional Hanukkah toy, so what better activity to engage the kids this Hanukkah than with a simple technique for making their own brigade of spinning tops? These tops spin so amazingly well, it’s almost hard to believe!
- plastic bottle caps: either from regular soda bottles, wide mouthed juice bottles, or bottles like vinegar bottles
- toothpicks or wooden skewers
- a thick needle or sharp item, such as a hat pin or those metal things you use to hold poultry together for roasting (employed by an adult only)
- colorful electrical tape (optional)
- quick drying glue (optional
- Make a hole exactly in the middle of the bottle cap. Some caps have a small bump there, if not eyeball it. A hole not in the center will result in a imbalanced top.
- Enlarge hole if necessary by moving needle around while still in the hole.
- Insert tooth pick or skewer through hole, trim second side of toothpick (dangerous) or shorten skewer.
- Secure toothpick with a few dabs of glue, though usually not necessary, and decorate with small pieces of electric tape.
- Have fun!
HAVE A CHIPPER HOLIDAY SEASON EVERYONE! :)
Fall is officially here and the evidence is all around us! From shorter days, to falling leaves, Autumn is one of the most beautiful seasonal changes! We want to see fall in your neck of the woods! Show us how you and your little one(s) are Chipper for Fall by sharing your favorite Fall photo to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram and hash tag #Chipper4Fall!
We all enjoy the colors of autumn leaves. The changing fall foliage never fails to surprise and delight us. Have you and your little one’s ever wondered why and how fall leaves change colors? Why a maple leaf turns bright red? Where do the yellows and oranges come from? To answer those questions, we first have to understand what leaves are and what they do.
Leaves are nature’s food factories. Plants take water from the ground through their roots. They take a gas called carbon dioxide from the air. Plants use sunlight to turn water and carbon dioxide into oxygen aneaves are nature’s food factories. Plants take water from the ground through their roots. They take a gas called carbon dioxide from the air. Plants use sunlight to turn water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and glucose. Oxygen is a gas in the air that we need to breathe. Glucose is a kind of sugar. Plants use glucose as food for energy and as a building block for growing. The way plants turn water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and sugar is called photosynthesis. That means “putting together with light.” A chemical called chlorophyll helps make photosynthesis happen. Chlorophyll is what gives plants their green color.
As summer ends and autumn comes, the days get shorter and shorter. This is how the trees “know” to begin getting ready for winter.
During winter, there is not enough light or water for photosynthesis. The trees will rest, and live off the food they stored during the summer. They begin to shut down their food-making factories. The green chlorophyll disappears from the leaves. As the bright green fades away, we begin to see yellow and orange colors. Small amounts of these colors have been in the leaves all along. We just can’t see them in the summer, because they are covered up by the green chlorophyll!
The bright reds and purples we see in leaves are made mostly in the fall. In some trees, like maples, glucose is trapped in the leaves after photosynthesis stops. Sunlight and the cool nights of autumn cause the leaves turn this glucose into a red color. The brown color of trees like oaks is made from wastes left in the leaves.
It is the combination of all these things that make the beautiful fall foliage colors we enjoy each year!
Helping Hands Fall Tree Craft:
Take your little one’s outside to observe and find some colorful Fall leaves! Se if they can name all the colors, and for older children, help them identify what kind of tree each leaf comes from. Once you’ve collected some Fall leaves, you can dry and flatten them in some thick, heavy books while you make a your Helping Hands Fall Tree!
Autumn is the Harvest season so let’s harvest healthy habits with our FREE downloadable Chipper’s Helping Hands Lesson Plan! Print out some some hands here or buy your very own Helping Hands Activity Kit, including tree poster, hand post-its, the book, and a Chipper plush!
Have your children write or draw how they help family, their friends, their community or the planet on their Helping Hand. Then color it and cut it out and tape or glue to your tree! This is a great project for teachers to do in the classroom and you can even add some of your real Fall leaves you found to the tree!
Here’s a beautiful Autumn video to inspire you! Have a very Chipper Harvest Season!
Don’t throw away your old egg cartons next time your finished with your dozen eggs! Instead, have fun with the kids and try some of these ideas to recycle or re-use the containers! Not only are these cartons great for organizing jewelry or desk items, they can be used to hold small round craft items when doing crafts or make a great Rock Collection holder! Egg cartons also work great for holding and protecting Christmas decorations.
Get creative and paint your carton to your liking or simply use it as a paint palette! You can also make a project out of it and use your carton as plant containers or seed starters and teach your little ones how to grow plants. Just poke a few holes in the bottom for drainage. Fill about 3/4 with potting soil and vermiculite. Plant seeds and set in a sunny window. Then have your children follow their growth and have them help you transplant and harvest when ready! It gets you all outdoors, spending quality time together, while teaching them about various plants.
Here are a few other great ideas. Share some of yours with us!
Make Tulips with Old Egg Cartons
This is an easy project kids can do by themselves or with very little help, and these flowers make a great Mother’s Day present. Or, make a bunch for a lovely Spring bouquet!
You will need:
- Clean cardboard egg cartons
- Green chenille (pipe cleaners)
- Elmer’s glue
Cut the egg carton into separate cups, leaving some of the middle “pop-up” sections. Cut the main cups into the pointed shape of the tulip petals. With the point of the scissors or a sharp pencil, poke a hole in the bottom of each cup. Paint and decorate each cup however you like.
Cut the little center “pop-up” sections between the egg cups into small pointed shapes that will go beneath the tulip cups. Poke a hole in the center of each and paint green.
When the pieces are dry, poke a piece of green chenille through the holes. Tie a loop on the end in the cup so it can’t pull back out, and add a dab of glue between the two sections. Shape the chenille into leaf shapes and leave a few inches at the bottom for the stem.
You can stick the stems of several flowers into some clay or floral foam in the bottom of a pot. Or just tie together and wrap with pretty paper and a ribbon to give to mom!
Use some of the same materials to make some bug critter friends! Make legs and wings from pipe cleaners and use pompoms and googly eyes for their face and eyes. Look around the house and through your trash and recycle bins and get creative with your decorations.
What else can you do with recycled egg cartons? Share with Chipper!