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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Kid Grocery Store

My daughter, Aubree, is almost two and a half-years-old and she's really getting into pretending and exploring. So, instead of throwing away a big box her wagon came in, I covered it with a plastic tablecloth (leftover from her birthday party) and started collecting the boxes from our pantry. 

Within weeks, she had her very own grocery store of cereal, snacks, spaghetti ...etc. We already had a shopping cart and fake food (thanks to hand me downs from Grandma Dea Dea).

I found the wagon box was a perfect height for Aubree.

This is just another way to keep your kids busy and learning while on a budget!

Total cost of this project: ZERO (I already had everything around the house!)

Kathryn :)
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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Quick and Easy Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger hunts are a great way to get your kids outside and exploring nature. I got this idea from other blogs that I pinned on Pinterest.

I drew my own pictures and copied others from blogs to fit my needs (I put a piece of paper on my computer monitor and traced them -- see below for links).

I ended up with toddler friendly pictures of things/animals the kids could find on a walking trail.

We gave the kids different colored star stickers to mark what they found. You could also use crayons or if you laminate the paper, you could use dry erase markers and use them over and over again.

As a bonus, I colored the bottom of egg cartons so the kids could add items that matched the colors. (i.e. grass goes in the green spot.)

Here are the blogs I got some of the picture ideas from ...

Egg carton idea ...

Thanks to all the other bloggers for their great and inexpensive ideas!



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Monday, May 21, 2012

Cheap(er) Chuggington Party

Okay, so if you don't have a young child, you may not even know about the latest train craze. It only took a few rides on the rail for Chuggington (Disney Jr.) to win my daughter's heart, so we decided to have a train party for her 2nd birthday. 

I really didn't want to spend too much money since her birthday is a few weeks after Christmas, but I soon realized (after many stops in multiple stores with my toddler in tow) that you had to buy the party supplies online because Chuggington was fairly new (at the time) in America. I ended up spending $35 online (see below) and did some savvy shopping elsewhere.

Below you will see the ways I cut some corners and hopefully still made her party a "Traintastic" one!

For the main table, I added some tracks from our Christmas train display and put trains she already had on the tracks. I loved the colors! I made the cupcakes myself and even added pudding to the middle of the chocolate ones. I got the cupcake mix for less than $1 with coupons during a BOGO sale!

The Chuggington picture is my daughter's place mat she already had (a Christmas gift). See below for the party favor bag prices. The sticker books (in front of the bags) were 10 cents EACH after the holidays at Michael's!! I thought ahead and loaded up for the little party guests! 

I put our Christmas train behind the presents and added some streamers with a picture of my daughter stuck in the center.

I used green scrapbook paper to make name plates and stuck leftover Chuggington stickers from the party favor bags on them.

I bought Chuggington plates and took one to Party City to match up with solid colored napkins, cups, cutlery .. etc. In the middle, you can see some of my daughter's Chuggington trains to add to the decor. I also bought the red tablecloth right after Christmas and cost me $1 each!

Here I used leftover wrapping paper to go under the cups for "Dunbar's Drinks". I thought it added an extra pop of color or two!

I created cute sayings with scrapbook paper and stickers --- Koko's Cupcakes, Dunbar's Drinks, Frostini's Fruit, Chuggy Chips ... etc.

The Chuggington cupcake decorations were a big hit for the kids because they doubled as rings too!

"Chuggy Chips"

I made a scrapbook page of Aubree with pictures I took of her at a local train depot and put it up for people to see.

Here is a look at my receipt from -- I did a lot of research at the time to figure out which online party supply website had the cheapest options.

1 x Train Whistles VALUE FAVORS (12) (81169) = $2.36
1 x Chuggington Stickers (4 Sheets) (79758) = $1.81
2 x Chuggington Cupcake Rings (8) (20857) = $5.16
3 x Pink Train Engineer Hat (1) (29989) = $8.58
1 x Chuggington Invitations (8) (79756) = $2.12
2 x Chuggington Lunch Plates (8) (79751) = $3.94
2 x Train Engineers Hat (1) (80423) = $4.16
Sub-Total: $28.13
Shipping: $6.95
Total: $35.08

Not too bad! I think I spent less than $100 on party supplies, cupcakes and favors! My daughter talked about her train birthday party for months after!


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Decal Decor

I had a tough time finding a picture to match our bedspread (Simply Shabby Chic Floral Scroll Comforter from Target). I finally decided to make something instead of buying and hoping it would match. I found the below decal at Hobby Lobby on sale for $10.00 (originally $19.99). That was a steal, so I had to give it a go!! 

(Here's a hint for Hobby Lobby shoppers with smartphones ... if you search for Hobby Lobby coupon on your phone, all you have to do is show them your phone to get the code. You can usually find a 40% off coupon online! You can also get the Iphone app for Michaels and Joann's too -- you just show the cashier your phone ... no need for cutting coupons!)

Okay, back to getting the supplies. I took my pillow sham to Joann's and matched it with acrylic paint. I chose Apple Barrel PLAID Granite Gray (#21392). The 2 fl. oz. bottle cost less than $2.00 and I only used one. The canvas was on sale too ... I believe it was 40% off at Joann's. 

I painted the canvas with the acrylic paint several times and let it dry overnight. I then took the white acrylic paint that I already had in my craft supplies and painted the same pattern from my bedspread onto the canvas. I let it dry overnight and then added the rub-on decal (after cutting it into several pieces to make it fill the entire canvas).

TOTAL COST = Approximately $20.00 

I was so happy with how the painting matched our bedspread! Maybe Target will buy my painting (ha)!

Simply Shabby Chic Floral Scroll Comforter from Target

Final product on the wall -- don't forget to buy a sawtooth hanger (I already had some around the house).

Paint I used on the entire canvas

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Busy Bag Bargain

So, this is an idea I got from Pinterest (imagine that) and I decided to see if our MOMS Club ladies would give it a go. Basically, you each make something to keep your kiddo "busy". You make the same thing for how many kids are signed up for the swap.You can grab these bags to take to doctor appointments, church ... etc.

We had 13 kids signed up, so we each went home with 13 busy bags!! All the moms came up with great ideas and my daughter, Aubree, loves each and every bag (I do too 'cause it keeps her busy while learning some great skills).

The reason I'm calling this a bargain is because I only spent $20 - $30 and ended up with endless fun for my toddler. Worth EVERY penny!

#1 - Pipe Cleaner Bead Threading

This is the one I made... I folded a small piece of white duct tape at the top of the pipe cleaners. I added different colored star stickers on the tape so kids can match up the color of the beads with the pipe cleaners.

To make it interesting, I mixed up different types of beads (some looked like trains and cars) with buttons. Just be careful if you make this one for younger kids because of the potential choking hazard!

 I think this is a good task for hand eye coordination!

#2 - Heads or Tails (plus more)

One of the Moms made these cute printouts. You may recognize the pictures from a favorite children's book. She made several different "games" for this busy bag...

Heads and tails matching game. My two-year-old daughter LOVED this! 

 Brown Bear size sequencing

1-2-3...Count With Me!

I think the original idea came from here ... you can download the printables and see more great busy bag ideas from the "Toddler Times" blog!!

#3 - Cloud Dough

This is a great outdoor idea and it kept my girl busy for hours! She was able to build sand castles and hide small toys in the dough.

Here's the recipe --8 cups of flour and 1 cup baby oil ... that's it! Easy Peasy!

My only warning ... it makes you want another baby in the house -- the baby oil smells soooo good!

 I suggest getting a bigger tub -- I hated losing some of the cloud dough!

#4 - Numbers Wheel

This is an easy and inexpensive way to learn numbers in English and Spanish (or whatever language you want to add). It's made of a sturdy paper plate, stickers with numbers/words, pins with a little bling bling and button decorations in the middle.

I love how the stickers have English, Spanish and the actual number!

#5 - Name Threading

This is a great way to teach your toddler hand eye coordination and his/her name at the same time! I didn't make this one, but I think the letters were bought at a craft store. You punch the holes and cut some string. The end of the string has clear tape wrapped around it to make it easier for younger kids to thread.

#6 - Popsicle Puzzle

This busy bag came with three puzzles! This Mommy printed out pictures of see saws, bunnies and kid friendly things and animals.

The pictures were glued to the sticks and then cut.

These puzzles are actually harder to do than you think (hence the reason you see only one put together for the picture ... ha ha!).

(By the way, I have tried this one before and used colored sticks from the craft store which was NOT a good idea because my daughter put them in her mouth and the colors rubbed off on her mouth and hands. I suggest using the plain sticks like the ones you see below!)

#7 - Velcro Popsicle Shapes

This is a great way to learn shapes! I believe this Mommy spray painted popsicle sticks and added velcro to the ends to overlap the sticks. What a simple way to educate!

#8 - Uppercase Lowercase Spoons

This is another great learning tool that can be fun at the same time! This Mommy wrote the UPPERCASE alphabet on the white spoons and the lowercase letters on the clear spoon. Be sure to put the lowercase letters a little lower so your kiddo can see both when stacked!

#9 - Make and Decorate a Cupcake

I have tested this one out on my toddler daughter, three-year-old nephew and eight-year-old niece and they ALL love the cupcake maker!

They can build and switch around cupcakes, liners and icing. But, the best part is the decorating with cherries, hearts, chocolate chips and sprinkles! I'm getting hungry just thinking about that!

The FREE pattern came from  here ... thank you ""!

Aubree is putting on the final touches! So cute!

#10 - Color Wheel

I'm trying to work on colors with Aubree, so I'm pretty excited about this busy bag! It's a handmade color wheel (laminated too) with clothes pins. The pins have the colors and the color names which is good for learning how to spell later on down the road.

#11 - Find My Match

My daughter is a big fan of this swap too. It's felt (or something like that) with buttons (hearts, starts, circles and flowers). All you have to do is trace the shapes!

#12 - Button Snake

All you need to make this project is a button, ribbon, felt, thread/needle and scissors! The idea is to have your kiddos thread the felt pieces on and off the button snake for hours of entertainment!

This Mommy got the idea from  here ... click and enjoy!

Each felt square has a slit the size of the button.

It takes a little sewing skills to attach the button and last felt piece.

#13 - Pom Poms and Pipe Cleaners

I have seen different variations of this one. Here, a hole was cut out of an empty cottage cheese tub. My daughter loves stuffing the pom poms and pipe cleaners inside. I know it doesn't sound like loads of thrills, but she doesn't mind the work!

I also added an empty and clean plastic parmesan canister to add extra shapes for the stuffing! I have read some kids like the sound of the short pipe cleaners hitting the bottom.

So, that's it for this busy bag swap! I hope this blog has encouraged you to make inexpensive busy bags for your lil ones too! I'm all for spending less and sharing ideas to help other parents do the same!

A year later, I ended up doing another swap ... click here for NINE more busy bag ideas!



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