Archive | Children and Play

Baby It’s Cold Outside Contest

We’ve welcomed back some old friends with our new ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ contest and are excited to work with Dilly Dally Kids, Pip and Pin, and Simply Merino on this amazing contest! Imagine the snow is falling outside, you’ve are snuggling your child in their chemical free wool PJs, you are wearing a beautiful hand-knit cowl, and the kids bring out some family favourite games to play. Now you’ve got the concept for ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’.

We are excited to introduce our new friend Simply Merino clothing company. If you are looking for chemical free sleep wear made without synthetic materials or flame retardants, you’ve got a friend in Simply Merino. These clothes are made in New Zealand from 100% Merino wool and are a wonderful barrier for children between their skin and athletic gear, to wear as sleep wear, or use as layering pieces. I know in our house, my sons are so limited with PJs this year because I’ve had a tough time finding sleep wear that isn’t made from polyester. The thought of them sleeping in a synthetic blend just isn’t how I want them spending 10+ hours. This holiday season, parents & family love to give the gift of cozy jammies. Let them know that Simply Merino is offering a 10% discount code to Mommy Footprint readers  – just enter  mommy10 at checkout after ordering.

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Next to join the winter party is our friends Pip and Pin. We fell in love with these talented West Coast sisters two years ago after discovering their craft for making beautiful hand knit items. They are also adorable, kind, and the type of small business owners you want to support. My favourite signature Pip and Pin design are their cowls and the lucky contest winner of this contest can select a cowl with or without buttons and work with Megan and Katie with colours. Make sure to check them out at Make It Vancouver this weekend if you’re attending.

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If you live in Greater Vancouver, chances are you’ve been to Commercial Drive and fallen in love with Dilly Dally Kids toy store that offers a wide variety of heirloom quality toys. I love the wooden selection at Dilly Dally Kids and they’ve done a great job with supporting local artists, sustainable toy options, along with classic favourites. They have generously allowed Mommy Footprint to select three fun family games to anchor our ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ contest. My family has spent hours enjoying these three games and I’m excited that another family will get to enjoy them too: Sleeping Queens Card Game, Rush Hour, and Zingo (pictured below). Visit Dilly Dally Kids in-store and enjoy the unique experience of finding holiday gifts in wide assortment and age ranges. Enter the below contest and your shopping will already be off to a great start if you win this prize basket.

dilly dally

Our ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ contest will run for one week November 26th – December 3rd at midnight. This contest is open to North American residents and I’m thankful to Simply Merino, Pip and Pin, and Dilly Dally Kids for working together for this amazing contest. Now close your eyes, imagine the snow falling outside, and think of how lucky you’d be to win a wool pair of kid’s PJs, cozy cowl, and family games package.

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West Coast Natural Toy Magic

My love of Waldorf, naturally handcrafted toys is more than just admiration of a person’s craft. When you see a toy that has tenderness infused into the stitches and wooden seams, you absorb the love that was given to make this special toy. Being a West Coaster that is connected to two of the leaders in the Waldorf play and education fields, I’m super honored to be hosting a contest with Bamboletta Dolls and Natural Pod.

I’ll start with Bamboletta. If you haven’t read their story, please click over and be ready to fall in love. The heart of Bamboletta is the founder Christina who has developed a business model that creates a better world. She has perfected a craft, taught others, and along the many years of hard work, never sold out with how the dolls are manufactured and what materials are used to make them.  Christina and her busy helpers have stayed where the dolls were created – right here on the West Coast making her magic bloom. What is new with Bamboletta since we last checked in? Over to Christina.

We’ve introduced 2 new styles last year that have been extremely popular. They are different then the traditional type of Waldorf doll as they are sewn to have more flexible limbs. Great for having a snuggle or a tea party! We will continue to do what we do, which is to create high quality dolls made with the best ‘ingredients’ we can find. I’m working hard to find more and more local sources my materials and have started working with a mill in Nova Scotia to get our yarn hair from. All our dolls are made right here in the Cowichan Valley by local moms creating a strong community of women working together with a lot of love hand crafting these dolls. They are infused with love in the stitches and will be an item that your child will eventually pass on to their child when they get older.

We are so excited to have our own Little Buddy doll from Bamboletta for this contest (her picture is in the contest box at the bottom of this article). She is so sweet and the beautiful touch at the front of her hair is a handspun yarn made by a local weaver from Cowichan Valley. Details are never left out with the Bamboletta ladies. Here is a picture of the Bamboletta shop. Doesn’t it look like Santa’s Workshop with magic and creativity bursting out the doors?

bamboletta doll shop

Over we go to Natural Pod who I’ve known for many years. They were one of the leaders in the naturally made toy movement 9 years ago and they haven’t slowed down with earth stewardship. With more of a global focus now, Natural Pod has shifted their expertise to help design and build beautiful, sustainable natural play spaces, furniture and open-ended play items that foster different learning environments for children. Their mission to foster how children can develop and learn from their environment when the focus is play is so important. They continue to inspire and ignite passion for teaching with the beautiful environments they create. I invite you to check out their Fan Page and look at the pictures of open-ended play spaces they’ve dreamed and delivered over the years. Very inspiring! More words from owner Bridgitte.

We serve educators and children in childcare, home-day, preschool, kindergarten, elementary and middle schools along with hospice and special needs students around the world. Raw materials for our products are sourced as close as the forests near our office on Vancouver Island and the wood we use is Forestry Stewardship Certified (FSC), supporting responsible forestry practices. Our other products are made of natural wood, wool or silk and finished in plant-based dyes, harmonic beeswax or in some cases are left naturally unfinished. The bulk of our product line is not only recyclable, but even 100% naturally compostable. Since our beginning, we have worked with over 500+ different learning organizations and have successfully delivered more than 27,000 products to our customers.

Check out how lovely this newly created classroom space is from Natural Pod.

newnaturalpod

Now over to the fun part of this feature – a contest!  Can you imagine winning a Bamboletta Little Buddy and Natural Pod Wooden Rocker? You could pretty much call Christmas shopping a wrap if you are the lucky winner! My thanks to Bamboletta and Natural Pod who are waiting to ship the lucky contest winner these two items. The contest runs from November 13, 2013 – November 20, 2013 – closing at midnight. This contest is open to North America. Good luck!

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Beeswax Leaf Garland

The weather for the month of October has been stunning on the West Coast. If you walk down the street, through a trail or park, you might be lucky enough to feel a falling leaf against your face. If only we could bottle up the beauty of Fall leaves as they turn all the different shades of orange, red, yellow, and more. But you can! Leaves and other beautiful bits of nature like acorns can be preserved for years with beeswax.  So before all the leaves have fallen and composted back into the earth, collect a few of your favourite and create tabletop confetti or a garland of leaves to hang in your window. The smell of beeswax drifting through your home and lingering on the coated leaves is another wonderful bonus to this craft.

leaf_post dip-new

Step 1: Collect leaves. My kids liked the look of alternating different leaf types and colours on the banner they created. I like the look of the same type of leaf, different sizes and colours.

Step 2: Buy a brick of beeswax and create a double broiler to melt the beeswax. I used a frying pan with a little pot that is now dedicated to only beeswax for the interior broiler.

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Step 3: Once the beeswax is melted, grab a leaf by the stem and fully submerge into the melted beeswax. Have newspaper nearby to transfer the leaves onto to dry. You’ll be amazed how only one coat works and how fast the beeswax dries! I wouldn’t let kids help with this step. I burned my finger tips a couple of times during the leaf dipping process.

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Step 4: Let leaves dry and decide if you want to leave them for Autumn tabletop confetti or if you’d like to string them into a garland. We did two methods. My kids decided to tie leaves onto hemp string. This was very quick and super easy. I think coloured yarn would look amazing too. We just tied the string around each leaf stem until we had enough leaves for our window treatment.

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Step 5: The other method of stringing our beeswax leaves was sewing them with needle and thread. This is a great idea if you have lots of the same types of leaves to hang. You thread the string through the base of the leaf stem. If you think the garland is going to be heavy with a large number of leaves, use a more study material like fishing line to thread through with a needle.

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I love crafting with nature. It’s free, right outside your front door, and you know the compost is ready when it’s time to say goodbye to these decorations.

Related Articles:

Preserving Fall Memories

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Eco Easter Ideas

It seems like most things these days, making something yourself is the best way to avoid toxic nasties. Easter is no different and so I’m excited to share some DIY projects inspired by the Dilly Dally Kids display window (for DIY Easter decorating), egg dying, and Easter egg hunt ideas that minimize waste and traditional Easter junk.

Let’s start with the display window ideas that got me excited to write this article. When it comes to the wonderful world of Pinterest and DIY I try hard not to take on projects that just aren’t obtainable. So when I saw pictures of this feather garland made by Dilly Dally Kids – I knew I wanted to photograph it, write about it and try it. Owners Tyler and Claire hung feathers to twine with clothespins – don’t you love the effect? I even collected a  few feathers from the beach with the kids so that a memory and real feathers could be included in this decoration.

Also displayed by DDK (Dilly Dally Kids) store owners are beautiful paper mache eggs. And for parents looking to minimize or eliminate purchasing more plastic eggs this year to hold treasures, paper mache eggs would be a great addition to an egg hunt. I found an easy DIY tutorial for this using hodgepodge & tissue paper via Pinterest. Here is the inspiration from DDK’s window and look how beautiful the paper mache eggs look nestled in gorgeous nests made from willow branches and a sprinkle of feathers. Imagine a forest walk to collect all of these treasures?  This is so inspiring to discover and decorate with pieces of nature gathered to create unique Easter decor!

Can we talk about Easter morning and one easy, Eco way to reduce plastic crap? Get your kids moving and working for their Easter treasures! The hunt my kids have loved over the last few years didn’t include little trinkets in each egg for the kids; rather a clue to where the next egg could be found. And at the end of the hunt my kids would find one sustainable gift from the Easter Bunny. Last year the kids found fishing rods and I think this year it will be tennis rackets. Anything that promotes keeping them active and playing outdoors I’m all in favour for. For the younger crowd that still delight in discovering toys – check out these adorable wooden bunnies & chicks from DDK. This line of wooden toys is from Europe, each one handmade and painted. You could create a nest similar to the one featured above (in mini form) and arrange these little friends for your sweeties to find.

Now that my sons are a little older (ages 9 and 10) the Easter Bunny sends them all over the neighborhood Easter morning. Pictures taken from a camera or handwritten clues leading kids from egg to egg to a figure in a neighbor’s garden, traffic sign, unique fence/door/garden decoration in the neighborhood is really fun and awesome for the kids. They go running from clue to clue – not thinking about chocolate or candy. They are on the hunt and using their mind, body, and energy to uncover each clue. This is the part of Easter my kids talk about every year and I love it. For my younger kids, the Easter Bunny sets up their hunt in a forest trail. It keeps them safe from traffic and the eggs are scattered along the forest floor and they also lead the kids to a more sustainable Easter gift rather than lots of little trinkets.

My last Easter tip is for parents that have the traditional egg dying craft with kids. With my new found love of using beets to dye icing, play dough, and to eat – I find it easy to dye using vegetables from my fridge. But one drawback to organic colours is sometimes they are not as bright or exciting as artificial. If you are looking for a kit to give you more of a colour spectrum, but still keep the process natural – check out these great egg dying kits! Lucky locals to Vancouver still have lots of time to stop by Dilly Dally Kids on Commercial Drive to pickup thoughtful selections of chocolate, toys, egg dye kits and totally adorable Easter books!

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Rink Rats Unplugged!

Have you heard the term ‘rink rat’ before? At our local hockey rink it refers to the younger siblings that are always scurrying around the bleachers, outer rink, and concession stands while waiting for older brothers and sisters to finish hockey games. Since my daughters have two older brothers that play hockey, they are probably at the rink more than they want to be. Learning to exert patience with waiting for siblings to finish activities can be difficult but after observing the behavior of my own little ‘rink rats’ over the years, I have insight to share on avoiding the electronics trap to keep kids entertained.

My girls are naturally shy. They do not have the personalities to introduce themselves when other children are already playing. I watch them gaze wistfully at groups of children that are playing and my natural reaction is to distract them from the possible discomfort they feel watching from the outside. But lately, they have started to inch towards the kids and will leave the bleachers to interact and I’m so glad I didn’t give them electronics to distract them from boredom. I see it time and time again…you’ve got the child sitting alone, probably shy, getting bored and they reach for mom or dad’s iphone to keep themselves entertained. It’s easy and sometimes we as parents, don’t stop and think why we shouldn’t just hand over the electronics. As a mom of many kids that would love my iphone – here are the reasons they don’t get it:

Shy or quiet kids sometimes need some encouragement with socializing. I am completely happy with having my girls sit on my lap to watch the game but I’ll keep asking them “are you sure you don’t want to go play with the kids?” And it’s almost taken the entire hockey season, but they are starting to join the group of girls and I can tell they are thrilled to be close to the action. But like most things with my daughters, it’s on their own terms and they just need time to feel comfortable.

I really think not letting kids sit idle occasionally is a mistake. My kids are all very busy…some might call it over scheduled but with four we are constantly on the go. And most children these days are busy with sports, music, or art after school, so play dates are non-existent. If kids are left to their own devices while older siblings or parents are busy, they re-discover the fine art of playing. And without toys or ‘stuff’ surrounding them, sometimes they get back to the purest form of play like hide-and-go-seek or climbing to escape burning hot lava or sharks on the floor.

My personal biggie with removing my iphone from the kids is not knowing radiation levels. It’s something I haven’t researched so I’m not comfortable handing it over without knowing acceptable levels. Green Child Magazine wrote a great article about radiation –  the link is here. Another trigger for me with telling my kids they would no longer be allowed to touch or hold my phone was after reading the article about phones being used as ‘shut up toys’. I wrote about this topic and still think a lot of times we are rolling over with excessive electronics just to keep our kids quiet or babysat.

If you want to keep kids close to you and entertained without electronics there are 3 great tools to have in your purse: notepad, deck of cards, all natural nail polish. I realize the nail polish might not work for all boys, but I use it when I’m desperate to keep my girls happy. They only get to apply Piggy Paint occasionally so it’s a treat and they can apply it perfectly by the age of 6. Using the nail polish is a great way for the girls to make friends because usually if another child sees the nail polish appear, they come over and ask if they can use it too. And since the ingredient list is pretty clean on this brand, parents always seem happy with it.

I mentioned keeping cards in my basket. If I know there will be longer periods of boredom I try to keep a deck of Gamewright cards on me. I’ve written about this brand of cards before and can’t say enough about our favourites Sleeping Queens, Too Many Monkey, Rat-A-Tat-Cat, and Zip Zap. Any of these will keep my girls happy for long stretches of time! If you are local to Vancouver, Dilly Dally Kids carries this line of card games or they are available online via Gamewright.

 

And isn’t there just magic with a new pad of paper and pen? My kids all love a new sketchpad or writing journal and look so cute sitting concentrated with their pen to paper. Kids can doodle, draw, play XOs, or Hangman. It sounds so simple but veteran parents know it’s the basics that kids love – and a notepad is no exception. All of the pictures in this post have been taken on different days at the hockey rink and you can see in the below picture, one of my girls was practicing her ‘handwriting’.

We’ve been lucky this year that most of the siblings that bounce around the rink have left electronics at home. All it takes is one kid to pull out an ipod and you’ve got 10 kids all hanging over their shoulder trying to get a peek at the app they are playing. We’ve seen this before and it makes the free play aspect more challenging.  But they are mimicking adults and if you look around, you’ll find people of all ages no longer able to just sit. If they have a quiet moment (and I’m guilty of this) the phone comes out and we get plugged in. We are building a society that just can’t be or focus. This isn’t to sound preachy because with using my phone for a camera I have it with me constantly and I know the kids see that. But limiting their technology is important because although parents swear by learning apps on ipads/ipods,  face-to-face social skills are also important for children’s self confidence and growth.

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