Sun Catcher Valentine

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With 8 to 14 inches of snow expected today, schools in the area were cancelled for a rare occurrence — SNOW DAY!! Needless to say, the kids were very excited and we spent most of the morning outside. This afternoon, we decided to stay warm and stick indoors for a Valentine’s Day themed craft.

Using these cute doilies from the dollar store, (click here for a similar product on Amazon) I simply cut out a heart shape from the middle of the doily and attached a square of contact paper (larger than the doily) to one side. Then, with Valentine’s Day inspired colors, I cut small squares of tissue paper and put them in bowls.

Sticky side up, the kids selected their preferred tissue squares and attached them to the contact paper heart in the center of the doily.

When their Valentine heart decorating was complete, I trimmed any excess tissue paper that was hanging over the lace part of the doily, then sealed their heart with another sheet of contact paper. After trimming around the outside of the doily (to cut off excess contact paper), we hung their masterpieces in our window to enjoy the beautiful stained glass colors!

These Valentines also make perfect gifts to send to family and friends! 🙂

“Close your eyes and picture of the sun. That’s what it felt like to love her, warmth.”
– Atticus

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Unicorn Valentine Printable

Unicorn Valentine Banner

Right now Avery is OBSESSED with everything unicorn. Anytime she spots something at a store with a unicorn on it, she ogles at it like it’s a lost baby kitten and is convinced it was made for her. So to no surprise, this year we decided to create Valentine’s Day cards with this mystical creature – and just the right amount of sparkle!

Since Valentines these days usually come with a fun favor attached to them, I purchased cute unicorn fans to include with Avery’s. Some other ideas if you are interested in adding a favor (which you can either tie on, attach with double sided tape, or use a fun glitter or unicorn Washi tape)…

Based on whichever size you would like, click on the above image to download and start creating your own magical Valentines!

Related: DIY Heart Breaker Valentine’s Day Cards

“Always be yourself, unless you can be a unicorn. Then always be a unicorn.”

DIY Darth Vader Costume for Girls

DIY Darth Vader Star Wars Costume for Girls with Free printable chest plate iron-on - projectsinparenting.com

When planning our trip to Disney World, I mentioned to the kids that sometimes people dress up as their favorite characters and showed them some pictures. Avery immediately shouted “I want to be Darth Vader!!”. Coming from a girl that plays with a 4ft tall Stormtrooper like it’s a doll (singing him lullabies and tucking him in for bed) this came as no surprise. I decided to take the challenge and come up with something that has a little bit of Disney Princess flair.

I purchased a black leotard and tutu from Amazon and created the below chest plate.

DIY Darth Vader Star Wars Cosume for Girls FREE Printable Chest Plate

I used Dark T-shirt Transfers, printed the chest plate on a sheet, and ironed it on the leotard following the given directions (Note: It is not recommended to print on fabric that stretches like the leotard, however I was happy with the results).

Click HERE for free printable chest plate (to scale for girl’s leotard).

The force is strong with this one…

DIY Darth Vader Star Wars Costume for Girls - projectsinparentingDIY Darth Vader Star Wars Costume for Girls (2) - projectsinparentingDIY Darth Vader Star Wars Costume for Girls (4) - projectsinparentingDIY Darth Vader Star Wars Costume for Girls (3) - projectsinparenting

Happy Star Wars Day! May the force be with you.

The Imperial March Beginner Piano Sheet Music

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The boys have mastered the Color-Coded Beginner Piano Sheet Music I created for them, so I thought I’d put together another song. They are super into Star Wars right now, so The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s theme) seemed like the perfect option. Simple, yet dramatically fun – and perfect to get in the mood for our upcoming trip to Disney World!

All I had to do was add a few more color-coded note stickers to our keyboard. POST UPDATE: I originally cut down circle dot labels I had on-hand (as seen in my photo), but recently upgraded to these Color Coding Dot Labels, which I highly recommend. The colors coordinate exactly and they are the perfect size for full-sized piano keys / keyboards.

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Click on below image to download FREE printable color-coded sheet music…

Star Wars - The Imperial March Color-Coded Beginner Piano Sheet Music - projectsinparenting.com

…And may the force be with you.

 

 

Color-Coded Beginner Piano Sheet Music

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The other day, Jacob was jamming away on his toy piano singing ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ – eyes closed, head bopping, slamming random keys on the key board…  I loved the enthusiasm and figured the boys are probably old enough to start reading beginner sheet music, so I decided to put together a few songs for them.

I am by no means a musician, but I did play piano back in the day and remembered some of the basics. I wanted to keep it simple with what I feel is a reasonable goal for toddlers and preschoolers: Find Middle C and play a simple song with one finger (not at all insisting on proper finger placement). I’m not trying to raise Mozart – I just want them to have fun and become comfortable with the basics of sheet music while doing so.

We have a Fischer-Price electronic keyboard that has color coding to the keys, so I decided to coordinate with that…. POST UPDATE: I originally cut down circle dot labels I had on-hand (as seen in my photo), then upgraded to these Color Coding Dot Labels which coordinated perfectly, but then finally created these Removable Color Coded Piano Key Labels – Now the colors coordinate exactly and I love that they have a less harsh, easily removable adhesive.

I then created color-coded sheet music for a couple of their favorite songs. Click on below sheet music image to download a FREE printable.

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For more song selections and removable color-coded piano stickers, please visit my Etsy Shop.
9 song pack

As simple as that – now my boys understand the concept of reading and playing music on the piano. With or without an accurate rhythm on the keyboard, watching their faces and sense of accomplishment after completing a song is absolutely priceless!

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Related: Star Wars The Imperial March Beginner Piano Sheet Music
Related: Color-Coded Beginner Piano Music Book

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Toddler Water Activities

Toddler Water Activities

With summer comes water – especially here in Chicago, where the heat and humidity can make a bed of ice cubes sound comfortable. Even with the scorching weather, I like to spend as much time as I can outdoors with the kids – which means LOTS of water activities to keep them cool. We have a ton of fun with sprinklers, water balloons, and the kiddie pool, but sometimes they need a little extra creativity to catch their interest and get them excited to play outside in the heat.

With 3 little ones, I try to stick with activities that have minimal set-up time. I’ve seen a ton of great ideas on Pinterest, and as fun as some of them may be, I simply don’t have the time for things like building an extravagant “car wash” system out of PVC, hoses and hanging sponges…. For me, simple = good. And holding the kids attention for 30+ minutes = WIN!

That said, below is a list of our top 10 water activities…

1. Target Practice

Target Practice
Using water sprayers from our local dollar store, I set up rubber ducks and frogs on top of activity cones and the kids practice their aim by spraying them off.

 

2. Fishing for Ducks

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Holding the test of time, this has been a favorite activity since the boys were just short of 2 years old. Using an aquarium net, the kids “fish” for anything from rubber ducks to ping pong balls… After they are done fishing, sometimes the kids like to get out kitchen utensils and make “duck soup”.

 

3. Animal Baths

Animal Baths
This particular day we were taking a break from the heat, but have done this activity indoors and out… Using an old toothbrush and some soap, the kids enjoy pampering their favorite toy animals with a little spa-day.

 

4. Sink, Float & Explore

Sink and Float
With simple items from around the house, the kids explore what sinks or floats. The activity itself only lasts about 10 minutes, but then they enjoy simply playing with the items in water… (example items: plastic cups, paper, marbles, straws, plastic beads, coins, pom poms, plastic bugs/animals, buttons, wooden sticks, spoons, paper clips and rubber bands)

 

5. Splash Slo-Mo

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Playing around with the ‘slo-mo’ feature on my iPhone, I decided to take some clips of the kids splashing around in the pool – SO FUN! Now the boys are constantly requesting I take videos so they can watch their playbacks in slo-mo… Summer splashing at it’s best!

 

6. Chalk Paint

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Wet Chalk Jacob
Water + chalk = messy fun!!… Great for using left over small pieces of chalk – Just throw chalk sticks into a baggie, pound with a hammer (or the flat end of a meat tenderizer), pour chalk powder into a bucket, and add a small amount of water to make a thin paste… For less prep: Simply pour water on the ground, color heavily in the puddle with chalk, and mix with hands.

 

7. Car Wash

Car Wash
Whether it’s washing their toy trucks or Mom and Dad’s cars, the kids always enjoy a good car wash.

8. Wet Paper


As simple as construction paper in water – Squish it, squeeze it, and tear it. A great sensory experience.

 

9. Water Transfer

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Another go-to activity of mine, indoors or out… Using kitchen utensils, sponges, and a Fine Motor Tools Set, transferring water becomes endless hours of fun.

 

10. Putting out Fires

Putting out Fires
Off in imagination land, the kids love to pretend their toy house in our backyard is on fire and they help put it out with the hose, buckets of water, and/or their Paw Patrol Water Backpack.

Thanks for visiting my blog! For more fun ideas, follow me on Pinterest and Facebook… and now I’ll leave you with this adorably happy face…

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Teacher Appreciation Coloring Page

Teacher Appreciation Coloring Page Free Printable

It’s time to celebrate our real life superheroes – teachers! With Teacher Appreciation Day just around the corner, I wanted to come up with something the boys could give to their teachers at preschool. I thought it would be nice if they had a hand in creating it with their own personal touch – so I designed a coloring page with an option to add a statement about their teacher/classroom.

Click HERE for Teacher Appreciation Coloring Page. (Also great for nannies and child care providers)
Click HERE for Teacher Appreciation Coloring Page with Questionnaire.
Click HERE to see my latest post and NEW coloring page with full page questionnaire.

Thank you to all the hard-working teachers! I appreciate your dedication to making a difference, while inspiring curiosity and knowledge that ultimately shapes our children’s future.

“It takes a big heart to shape little minds.”

Related Posts:

Happy Father's Day Free Printable Questionnaire, All About Me - projectsinparenting.com Color-Coded Beginner Piano Music Book Banner dinosaur t-rex valentine banner

DIY Super Hero Valentine’s Day Cards

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It’s that time of year – spread the love by giving thoughtful cards to your friends, family and classmates!

While Valentine’s Day cards are nice – As a toddler, receiving ones with little favors (glow sticks, stickers, candy, etc.) are much more enjoyable, so I wanted to make something fun for the boys’ friends. With Evan being really into Batman right now, I created these Gotham City inspired cards and stapled on Batman tattoos I found at Party City. (Note if purchasing this specific tattoo pack: The label states “16 tattoos” which is essentially 8 perforated squares, with 2 tattoos each – so you can make 8 Valentine’s Day cards per pack)

DIY Batman Tattoo Valentines CardDownload FREE printable HERE.

For Jacob, I stuck with the super hero theme, but included Avengers tattoos.

DIY Super Hero Tattoo Valentines CardDownload FREE printable HERE.

Stay super and have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!!

Follow me on Pinterest and Facebook for more fun and creative ideas!

Stained Glass Sun Catcher Ornament

‘Tis the season for Christmas crafts!

Stained Glass Ornament 2

We decided to make these beautiful sun catcher ornaments, to look like stained glass. They make great window decorations and help set the mood for the season. A super-easy, no-mess craft, perfect for all ages!

1st a little prep-work to get the project ready…

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Click HERE for free printable.

Print this ornament shape (provided above), ideally on card stock, and cut out the CENTER of the ornament frame with an X-Acto knife or scissors.

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Prepare colored tissue paper by cutting them into squares, strips and/or shapes. For toddlers, squares are perfect. For older kids, shapes would give them the opportunity to experiment with more complex designs (Example: A star in the center with stripes in the background, etc.)… NOTE: I separated the tissue paper squares into coordinating cup colors for easy selection. I’m not pointing this out to show how overly organized I can be, I’m sharing this to display one of the MANY ways I’ve re-purposed the cups provided in our Easter egg dying kit. Great items to save and reuse!

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Adhere a piece of contact paper to the FRONT of your pre-cut ornament print-out, covering the entire ornament frame. Lay the paper down, sticky side up, onto a table.  (I ran out of contact paper and discovered that clear packaging tape works as a wonderful substitute!) Now it’s time for your little artist(s) to decorate their ornaments. Have them select their tissue paper pieces, and press them down onto the contact paper.

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When your ornament decorating is complete, seal the back with another piece of clear contact paper. Trim around the outside of your ornament frame and tape or hang your masterpiece in a window to enjoy the beautiful stained glass colors!
Stained Glass Ornament
Follow me on Pinterest, for more fun ideas!
“People are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” – Elisabeth Kubler Ross

Documenting Baby’s 1st Year

When I was pregnant with Jacob & Evan, my cousin told me about a new (at the time) website called Pinterest. I signed up for an account to start Pinning decor ideas for their nursery. Little did I know what a life-changing website it would become. Why did it have to be created AFTER I got married?!?! I came across so many crafty ways to document the boys’ 1st year and couldn’t wait to make something especially for them!

With so many ideas, I decided to photograph and create two different monthly comparisons – One with the boys together (because twin baby portraits are simply adorable!) and one with them alone (because they are, after all, individuals). In attempt to capture their personalities, I also included brief descriptions about them.  It was fun to reflect on each month’s little joys and take time to appreciate the small things.

Twins 1st Year Monthly Photo Collage with Keepsake Memories

Jacob:

Baby 1st Year Monthly Photo Collage

Evan:

Baby 1st Year Monthly Photo Collage with Stuffed Animal

Naturally, when Avery was born, I wanted to create the same monthly snapshots for her as well…

Baby Girl 1st Year Monthly Photo Collage with Keepsake Memories

Baby Girl 1st Year Monthly Photo Collage

I used Photoshop to create my images. If you do not have Photoshop (or any other photo editing software), a similar technique can be used with either of the following:

  • An online photo editor like PicMonkey that allows you to add a paragraph of text, and enables you to crop and edit your photo as well.
  • If you only want to insert a small amount of text, such as the month, AddText has a quick and simple process for adding a caption (downside = limited fonts and their website appears in bottom right of the photo).
  • If you have the images on your phone or iPad, there are tons of apps that allow you to add text. Imagic Text and Word Swag are ones that allow for longer text/paragraphs.

If you have any other suggested ways to add text to your image, I’d love to hear about it – please comment below.

Looking back at these photos, I had no idea they would trigger so many heartwarming memories (all too easily forgotten). It doesn’t feel like it during the day-to-day grind of picky eating, tantrums and poopy diapers, but it’s true when people say “they grow so fast”. I’m glad I took the time to create this project, as it really helped me cherish the little moments and capture their growth for the 1st year.

Follow me on Pinterest, for more fun ideas!

Sometimes you will never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory.

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