Tuesday, February 24, 2015

It's Just A Roll of the Dice

One die, many dice...
by Dale Ho

I love games that involve a simple set up and an even easier take down and how simple can you get than two dice?

That's it, all you need for this game are two dice and some time well spent with the kids and it's ideal for children of all ages.  Use it to introduce numbers and new concepts such as addition and subtraction or just use it to practice already acquired skills.

Each of you take turns rolling the dice and either identify numbers you land on or add and subtract the numbers together.

Spend a few minutes each day with the kids on this simple activity and help increase their mental math skills.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

*HEALTH & WELLNESS* Healthy Eating - 7 Easy Ways to Eat Healthier

By @Deb_Lowther

Water with frozen lemon wedges 
Learning healthy eating habits is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your family. Understanding that healthy food matters and healthy choices do taste good is vital to maintaining a healthy lifestyle for our children as they grow.

There are many easy and beneficial changes you can make now that will create healthy eating habits that can last a lifetime.

Don’t reinvent your grocery shopping list all at once, try some of these simple changes to make your daily diet include healthier foods. Take recipes you love like pancakes or spaghetti and look for ways to make them healthier by adding fiber from whole grains or nutrients from vegetables.  Without even thinking about it you will start enjoying the benefits of healthy eating.

7 Ways to Start Eating Healthier

- Drink it.
Drink lots of water.  Replace pop, juice, flavoured waters, fizzy drinks – all of it – with water.  If you need something to jazz up boring water add cucumbers, frozen lemon wedges, or strawberries. Even try freezing berries or lemon into ice cubes and pop in your glass when you refill.  A pretty drink tastes yummier.

Peanut Butter
- Go natural.
Natural. As in one ingredient on the label.  Peanuts.  Yes it tastes different without the hydrogenated oil and added sugars but add sliced bananas or apples, a trickle of maple syrup or honey and your kids will love it.  Peanut butter is a healthy protein to add to any snack but only when it is natural.

- Go for whole. 
Whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, whole grain cereal, whole wheat flour, and brown rice. Remove white starchy everything from your pantry.  Add whole grain oats to everything you bake, make kids lunches with whole grain bread, use whole wheat flour in waffles or pancakes, top whole grain cereal with sweet fruit instead of buying sweetened cereals.

- Go Nuts.
Full healthy monounsaturated fats, almonds are a great snack.  Buy them dry roasted or make your own if plain blanched almonds do not have enough flavour.  Add to salads, grind up in your morning smoothies, crush to coat fish or chicken and serve with cheese and orange slices to add protein to snack time.

Salad Dressing – Say Yes to Yogurt.
Switch to yogurt or vinegar based dressings.  Yogurt based creamy dressings in the refrigerated section of the grocery store have only 1-2 grams of fat per tablespoon compared to a whopping 7 tbsp in most ranch dressings.  Better yet, make your own dressing with rice wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, a little extra virgin olive oil and use Dijon, lemon or pressed garlic for flavour.

Speaking of Yogurt – Buy Wise.
The yogurt isle is quickly becoming the most confusing stop in the grocery store.  Beware of ‘fat free’, as it usually means artificial sweeteners and flavours have been added to keep the taste after they have removed all the fat.  Try Greek yogurt that has more protein, less sugar and all the calcium and add your own berries or honey to flavour and sweeten naturally.

Add Vegetables – To Everything.
I am long past pureed baby food, but having a stock of pureed squash, zucchini, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli and carrots in my freezer makes it easy to turn everyday mac n cheese into a healthy meal or otherwise guilty brownies into a healthy snack.  Toss in puréed squash and zucchini to spaghetti sauce or even when baking your favorite muffins and a 1/2 cup pureed cauliflower goes great in scrabbled eggs or quiche!

The idea of healthy eating as a lifestyle is not to restrict what you can and can't eat but to improve the ingredients of your everyday food and drinks and turn them into healthier meals the whole family will enjoy.

More about Deb:  Deb Lowther is a mother of 3 young daughters who, when not running after the kids, is running in the trails. She contributes Family Health articles to many websites and magazines and ensures her own family has fun while eating healthy & staying active.  Find more inspiring tips on her website http://www.raisinghealthykids.co and follow her on both Twitter @Deb_Lowther and Pinterest.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Letter Find

What you need to make your own letter bin 
by Dale Ho

What You'll Need:
Pictures of letters or numbers (I used magnetic letters)
A large container (deep enough for the kids to reach into)
Some recycled shredded paper

What to do:
Clearly print and cut out each letter of the alphabet on small pieces of construction paper or any sturdy piece of paper.  Empty some recycled shredded paper into the large container or tub, put the letters in with them and mix it all up.

Let the kids dig in!

This is simple to set up, loads of fun for kids and a great way to either introduce letter and number concepts or reinforce what they already know. But don't stop there, you can also use this activity to teach shapes, animals, colours and so much more!

This game easily adapts to all ages and stages, turn it into a spelling game, simply hide the letters of the word they are spelling in the container, once they find all the letters have them put them in the correct spelling order or use numbers and have fun practicing basic math concepts such as addition, subtraction, multiplication or division.

The possibilities are limitless...

Monday, February 02, 2015

Make a recycled place-mat

Make a Recycled Place-Mat
by Dale Ho

Save all those greeting cards you received for special occasions or over the holidays and preserve those memories by recycling them to make personalized place-mats. 

Cut the front off each of the cards, set them out and arrange them as you'd like onto a piece of bristol board cut to size and glue them down.

To keep them from getting wet or soiled you may want to either laminate your completed work or use a sheet of contact paper that can be purchased from any craft store.

This is a craft that the entire family can sit down and enjoy making together.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

The Buddha Board: Master the art of letting go *Sponsored*

The Buddha Board
by Dale Ho

In recent times there's been a huge movement -of which I back 110%-  to limit the amount of screen time our children are exposed to in a day, it takes away from play time, family time, quality time in general, instead let's provide children with genuine encounters throughout the day which aid in the healthy development of the whole child.

Saying that I'm always on the lookout for quality products for children -children of all ages- especially ones that don't require any form of batteries, and I think I found one a few weeks ago.

No batteries required, its only fuel is that of the imagination and creativity of the individual, it can be used time and time again with none the worse for wear and it's simplistic design makes it easy to integrate into any decor; the Buddha Board.

It's easy to use, simply paint on the surface with water using the bamboo brush provided;  Create, design, inspire and imagine, then magically watch your work disappear as the water evaporates leaving you the opportunity to create, design, inspire and imagine all over again!

I choose to use it to write one inspirational word a day for the kids, it sparked some very interesting conversation and deep thought between us, take a peek at some of them over on my Instagram feed.  
The kids on the other hand used it to practice everything from brush strokes to creating their own artistic impressions.   It's interesting to see how their pieces varied with their changing moods, everything from getting silly to the more serious and thoughtful side at times. 
I can't help but see endless amazing possibilities when it comes to how and where you can use the Buddha Board;  In the classroom, in conjunction with therapy, at home, in the workplace.  The possibilities are endless!

Thanks so much for sharing some of MY FAVOURITE THINGS


Find out even more about the Buddha Board below..

Master the art of letting go...

"Buddha Board is inspired by the Zen idea of living in the moment. You simply paint on the surface with water and your creation will come to life in bold design. Then, as the water slowly evaporates, your art will magically disappear leaving you with a clean slate and a clear mind, ready to create a whole new masterpiece. 
Buddha Board is environmentally friendly - no ink, no paint, no chemicals - and will last for years with proper care. Live for the moment, and enjoy!"