Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Web Wednesdays: Free Websites for Kids

Today's website is The Toymaker. This website has several downloadable paper crafts for parents to print and kids to enjoy.

There are cards, games, paper boxes, paper mice and all sorts of neat paper projects. You will probably want to invest in some card stock so the end product is sturdy enough for play. I love the fact that there are options to print a black and white template or a color template so kids can color or not.

This is a really neat website that kids ages 5 and up will love. This would be a perfect place to go for slumber party activities or birthday party crafts. It's simple, unique and cheap--the perfect trifecta!

Oh! And don't forget to check out the holiday section--fantabulous. I LOVE this site. (Can you tell?) Here's a short video showing an example of a Halloween paper craft.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Toddler Toys: Best Toy Ever Critter Clinic

Our toddler's aunt arrived for a visit with this gem of a toy. It's a vet clinic with animal cages and color coded keys. The top holds all the medical equipment and various animals can be housed in the 'hospital'. Toddlers will LOVE the keys which are color coded and are great manipulatives that give budding fine motor skills a work out.

Really really cute set and our toddler has been playing vet ever since. Not sure what stores carry it, I know I haven't seen it in our area. Thankfully Amazon does have it, although a slightly different version for $19.99-- our version pictured here is selling for $77! Wowza!

Also the manufacturer seems to be somewhat eco-conscious using soy based inks and recycled paper. (Although the toy is still plastic so, you know, take that for what it's worth.)

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I know everyone is in Fall mode---it seems like all the craft, mommy etc... blogs are talking about apples.

But we haven't even bothered with apple picking here.

Not when raspberry season goes until Halloween.

Picking your own raspberries is the most cost effective way to buy raspberries and it doesn't take too long to pick 3 quarts. I can do it in about an hour.

Our toddler eats her weight in raspberries and is covered in red smears by the end. So it's a perfect way to spend a morning--her cramming the berries into her mouth as fast as she can and me picking. We also get to see bees (who don't care about us, they are drunk on raspberries), butterflies and spiders.

Check out the u-pick websites to see if anyone is growing raspberries in your area. We use ours in banana raspberry muffins and raspberry freezer jam. They can be frozen whole as well.

I always tell my toddler that when it is very cold outside and it seems like the snow will never end, we can remember summer by eating raspberries.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Web Wednesdays: Free Websites for Kids

Web Wednesdays is a new feature that will post weekly on Craft Impaired. I know we love kid websites around here and I'm always looking for something new and fun to do online.

If you have a website you want to recommend, I'm all ears, please do share.

So, on to our inaugural website...

Todays Free Websites for Kids is....


Kideos is Youtube for kids. Videos are arranged by age, from infants up to the age of 10. On Kideos, you know your kids won't see anything inappropriate. The only downside? No embed option for sharing videos which made it hard to complete this blog post. However, I was able to source one of the videos on Youtube to give you an example of what you can find on Kideos.

Check out these too cute baby pandas. Roly poly balls of adorable. This is what Kideos is all about.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How to Make A Play Kitchen: Tips and Mistakes to Avoid

We recently made a play kitchen for our little girl and what an experience! We wanted to do something that would look nice without the $200 price tag of other wood play kitchens and without the plastic of the $99 made-in-China play kitchens. Here's how we did it along with some tips and ideas on designing your own play kitchen based on our experience.

Note this is not a step-by-step tutorial. We assume that, if you're interested in making a play kitchen, you or someone you know has basic carpentry skills. This is more of an overview for the planning stages that will help you design a play kitchen and be happy with the end result.

  1. Use found materials whenever possible. Visit second hand stores, garage sales or local junkyards to find items for the play kitchen. The hardest thing to find is usually the cabinet that will form the main structure. Old kitchen cabinets or desks work well for this. If you can't find anything suitable, some crafty people have used inexpensive Ikea furniture, but a sturdy piece of plywood will work too so long as you have power tools and know how to use them. (Our kitchen used scrap wood from a painting facility that would have been put in the landfill if we hadn't taken it.)

  2. Make stove burners out of paint can lids or stain wood circles (from a home improvement store) and use those.You can also paint burners on the stove top. Some DIY play kitchen instructions suggest using CDs, which, while attractive, could pose a shattering hazard.

  3. Use a small stainless steel mixing bowl for the sink and a second hand or new (cheap) faucet. Glue both in place with a product called Liquid Nails.

  4. Design the oven door to swing open to the side instead of folding down. Play kitchen oven doors that fold down end up being climbed on and they aren't designed to hold a child's weight. (Ask me how I know!)

  5. Incorporate real kitchen elements such as an egg timer. Glue in place with Liquid Nails glue. (Before gluing anything, lay all the accessories out to be sure they'll fit.)

  6. Obtain handles and knobs from places such as Target, Home Depot or Lowes. You can buy wooden wheels at craft stores to make oven knobs. Don't attach the wheels too tightly, keep them loose so they'll spin.

  7. Be sure to add enough storage space for pots,pans,play food and other accessories. No one likes a small kitchen, even if it's a play kitchen.

Mistakes we made building our play kitchen.

1. The depth was not big enough. We went with 12" when we really should've gone with "16 or "18. With just 12" there's not enough counter space for pretend food prep. In our experience, the best dimensions for a play kitchen are: 26" high (not including back splash) x 30" wide x 16" or 18" deep. The height should be adjusted for your child's height.

Alternatively, look at the dimensions of your dream play kitchen and use those.

2.The oven door fell off due to kids climbing on it. Definitely do a door that swings open to the side. I know I already mentioned this, but it is a huge safety hazard which exposes nails. I don't want anyone to make the same mistake.

3.We used small nails to attach the back and the back fell off as a result. To fix it, we drilled in screws, which is what we recommend using in the first place.

4.Not enough food storage. I would add a shelf over the top of the kitchen for extra storage. While we did an okay job building in enough storage, we're a hair short on space.

Overall, though, our play kitchen has held up and still looks as good as the day Daddy made it.

Have you ever made a play kitchen? Did I miss anything?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Better Picture of Dragonfly Craft

Here's a better pic of our dragonflies, cavorting with some hand print butterflies. You can check out how to do this dragonfly craft here.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

How to Select Dance Classes for Children

Since we are in the thick of signing up for children dance classes, I thought I'd throw together what we've learned so far.

1.Decide what kind of experience you what for your child. Exposure to movement, a fancy recital, no recital, or hardcore ballerina training.

Knowing what you want will help you find the right dance class for your child.

2.For introductory classes with no recitals and a low-key environment, check out local rec center schedules. These classes tend to be less expensive, less uptight and more about having fun. They introduce kids to the basics so if they want to pursue dance more seriously, they will have some basic skills under their belts.

3.If you want a recital, sign up at a dance studio. Recitals can get expensive, but can also be fun, especially if you have a natural performer on your hands. Be sure to ask the school about their recital policies and procedures, some dance schools get kind of wound up about recitals and issue handbooks bigger than a phone book packed with rules and regulations.

Also screen the dance school's approach to recitals. Do they think 'Bootylicious' is a good song for 3 year olds to perform to, while wearing a barely there tankini? Or do they keep it age appropriate?

4.If the goal is to develop a future ballerina, look at local universities, art centers, and theaters. Some dance studios also specialize in more intense dance instruction, but you'll have to ask around to find them. These dance classes for children will be much more traditional and are for kids who can follow directions well. They will also have a strict dress code (i.e. hair in bun, leotard, ballet shoes etc...). Which is fine, but I know my toddler would never do a bun, so we would totally be expelled from these type of children dance classes.

So how did you find dance classes for your children? What was your experience? We are starting with a rec center community class and we'll see from there. Having studied dance quite a bit myself, I hope our toddler is interested, but knowing her genetics, she probably won't have the body type for classical dance. I ended up performing folk dance myself.

Oh, and don't forget to take a second to check out my review of Brontorina a lovely book about a dinosaur who wants to be a ballerina.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Toddler Video: Tinkerbell Youtube Preview

Just in case you didn't know, the Tinkerbell movies are perfect first movies for young toddlers. They are gentle and not scary and kids (girls at least) love Tink.

Disney has figured this out and there's a new Tink movie coming out later this month on DVD. You can treat your tot to an 8 minute preview on of Tinkerbell on Youtube.

Check it out.

FYI there are 3 Tinkerbell movies, which I'm going to list here simply because I've been trying to figure this out for myself (we have a birthday coming up and someone is going to be Tinked out of her mind).

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Toddler Activities for Fall

Here are our plans for Fall fun this year.

1. Pick apples and make homemade apple sauce. Mmmm can't wait for this one!

2. Rent a pontoon boat at our nearby national park and see the Fall foliage on water.

3. Decorate our dining room table for Fall using pumpkins and other seasonal goodies. (We didn't have a real dining room for the last few years and just finished a big home remodeling project to create one, so this is a Big Deal for us.)

4. Take the dogs to the same park as #2 for a walk and a swim.

5. Visit our favorite pumpkin farm and binge on pumpkin donuts.

6. Our toddler is starting preschool!

7.And dance class!

What are you doing with your family as the seasons change? I would love some more ideas!