Kids Playdate Ideas: Nature Theme

Post by Rebecca and Suzanne of A Feteful Life

Kids Playdate Ideas: Let's Go Camping!

Hello, hello! We’ve done books, we’ve done science, and now we’re taking on the great outdoors. The AFL crew is always up for a new adventure and thanks to Land of Nod’s awesome outdoor imaginary play toys, we were able to “set up camp” in our backyard and start exploring the best of what summer has to offer… Nature.

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I just love the S’more the Merrier Campfire Set. It was the center of our camp that also included the Indoor Explorer Pup Tent (which I got the kids for Christmas last year and continues to be one of their favorite toys), some lanterns and cushions. And what would an AFL kids party be without a journal of some kind for the kids to take notes of what they observe as we explored.

Kids Playdate Ideas: Nature Theme - SnacksKids Playdate Ideas: Nature Theme - Snacks 1 Kids Playdate Ideas: Nature Theme - Snacks 2Ants, ladybugs, worms and dirt?! Yes, please! Who wouldn’t want to eat bugs if they looked like these.

We were so in love with the Meri Meri Fundamentals party collection we used for the science party, we knew that we needed more! This time we used the Meri Meri Toot Sweet Charms collection along with the coordinating paper straws and fell in love again. While the charms collection doesn’t immediately make you think “nature,” we thought their colors and whimsical feel were the perfect fit for our party. We pulled out the blues and greens from the collection and created some DIY food tents, drink flags, favor tags and journal labels. You can find all of these (and more) in our printable party pack.

Kids Playdate Ideas: Nature Theme - Decorations 4 Kids Playdate Ideas: Nature Theme - Decorations 5 Kids Playdate Ideas: Nature Theme - ProjectsHanging above our craft and favor table was this awesome “I LOVE DIRT” pennant banner that we made out of the Land of Nod’s Achievement Banner Flags along with some simple streamers to add some color. Some simple seed starter pots, dirt & packets of seeds were the perfect favor so our kiddos could keep discovering the wonders of nature long after our party was over.

Kids Playdate Ideas: Nature Theme - 6 Kids Playdate Ideas: Nature Theme - 7 Kids Playdate Ideas: Nature Theme - 8Once Camp AFL was all set up the kids came out and went straight to work roasting our pretend s’mores (marshmallows dipped in chocolate and coated with crushed graham crackers — yum!) over the campfire. Then they filled up on some more provisions before we got to crafting and exploring.

Kids Playdate Ideas: Nature Theme - Crafts Kids Playdate Ideas: Nature Theme - Crafts 1The kids crafted up some scarecrows, trees and flowers thanks to the Eco Crafts Kit. There were so many options for them and it was fun to see them follow the directions but also add their own personal creative marks on their projects.

Kids Playdate Ideas: Nature Theme - 9 Kids Playdate Ideas: Nature Theme - 10 Kids Playdate Ideas: Nature Theme - 11 Kids Playdate Ideas: Nature Theme - 12 Kids Playdate Ideas: Nature Theme - 13 Kids Playdate Ideas: Nature Theme - 14Once they finished crafting, they grabbed their journals and magnifying glasses and we set out on an adventure walk to find rocks inspired by the I Love Dirt book by Jennifer Ward. It has some simple but great ideas to help you get out into nature and start exploring with your kids.

As I mentioned above, I made each kid a field journal and on the inside cover a made a rock scavenger hunt to help the kids look at the rocks more closely and to see just how cool a simple rock could be. We also had a bucket of water on hand to wash any dirt off the rocks and also to see how the colors or the rocks changed when they were wet.

Kids Playdate Ideas: Nature Theme - 15 Kids Playdate Ideas: Nature Theme - 16There’s no better way to end a surprisingly hot afternoon of exploring than by eating ice cream, right? The kids love getting dirty with this faux dirt of crushed oreos, chocolate ice cream & gummi worms. Now get out there and start exploring!

Rebecca and Suzanne are bloggers, graphic designers, and event stylists living in Washington, DC.  Rebecca is a mom to two young kiddos and, in her spare time (ha!), likes to pretend she’s a back-up dancer, craft cocktails, and run long distances. Suzanne is a big fan of good design, good wine, and her two rambunctious little boys. They share DIY lifestyle and event styling projects at A Feteful Life. Rebecca also blogs kid-friendly projects at Not-So-SAHM

Kids Science Club

Post by Rebecca and Suzanne of A Feteful Life

Summer Activity: Kids Science Club

Hello friends! We had so, so much fun with our recent book club that when The Land of Nod asked us what else we had in store for our kiddos this summer, we knew instantly that we had to expand our group to include science. All of our kids have an interest in the subject and we knew once we put together a little party for the club, they’d be all over it. And they were — despite the sweltering afternoon summer heat (btw, how cute is our motley crew!?!).

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Fortunately for us, The Land of Nod carries the most stylish party goods perfectly suited for our club: The Meri Meri Fundamental Party Collection. The bright colors and graphic prints are right up our alley and the incorporation of real scientific principles, concepts and theory make them much more than just pretty partyware. Good looking and smart — a combo we can get behind.

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In addition to the party collection, we decorated the entrance to our gathering with a fabulous customizable Pennant Garland spelling out the name of our club. We hung Land of Nod’s gorgeous periodic table of elements Science Banner front and center over our lab for the day. Suzanne’s son Brady is a bit chemistry-obsessed and was over the moon to see the periodic table! We were equally impressed with the quality of canvas and beautiful colors of the artwork. We also draped a graph paper bunting, which we made using our free pennant bunting template, along the top of the elements banner. And even though a table full of sweets was sitting nearby, our kids wasted no time in getting right to the experiments.

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We set up three relatively straightforward experiments: making slime; mixing colors; and creating “snow” (you can download free printable blank experiment labels over at A Feteful Life).

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I was surprised that the color mixing seemed to be everyone’s favorite. The kids used their custom periodic element initialed lab notebooks (we had to make them after the book club notebooks were such a big hit!) to hypothesize which two colors they needed to mix to achieve their desired result. They took it very seriously and even experimented mixing different ratios of two primary colors to get what they wanted. The “snow” was another messy hit and Suzanne and I were grateful we held the meeting outdoors!

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While we waited for the slime to finish congealing, we turned to snack time. I set up a drink as an experiment itself by prepping one of my favorite party drinks: cotton candy + lemonade (a little trick I learned from Sweet Paul awhile ago). When you add lemonade to colored cotton candy … it changes color! Well, the party decided to take it a step further for us. It was so HOT outside that the cotton candy had lost all its moisture and completely solidified. The kids thought it was a hysterical “experiment.” No worries, the lemonade still changed color when we poured it over the petrified candy and earned oohs and aahs from our crowd.

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I added periodic element flags to the awesome graph paper straws, which we slipped into the beaker cups. The kids all loved finding their own initialed straw. We served puffed corn snacks and berries in clear cups, which we decorated with leftover stickers from the party collection. For some more sweet, we served up a plate of “whoopie pi,” which sat on a cake stand decorated with a handmade graph paper mini bunting.

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We obviously can’t resist DIY accessorizing, so we put together cute labels to wrap around chocolate milk boxes and custom confetti, too. You can find all of the items, including the periodic element flags, in our printable party pack.

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To keep the science going after the club adjourned, each kiddo took home an edible experiment: DIY Rock Candy (you can download the free printable favor tag at A Feteful Life). The favor kit included all non-grocery items needed to grow your own rock candy. And I used the bright cupcake wrappers from the Meri Meri kit to top a mason jar containing it all.My kids can’t wait to try it!

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It must be obvious from the photos, but we so loved our Science Club. And we think you should have one too! To get you started, we designed an invitation to go with the party pack. Hope your own little scientists are staying busy this summer. Fete on!

Rebecca and Suzanne are bloggers, graphic designers, and event stylists living in Washington, DC.  Rebecca is a mom to two young kiddos and, in her spare time (ha!), likes to pretend she’s a back-up dancer, craft cocktails, and run long distances. Suzanne is a big fan of good design, good wine, and her two rambunctious little boys. They share DIY lifestyle and event styling projects at A Feteful Life. Rebecca also blogs kid-friendly projects at Not-So-SAHM.

Kids Book Club

Post by Rebecca of A Feteful Life Kids Book Club | The Land of Nod All the AFL kiddos are big readers. Well, they aren’t all reading independently, but it’s safe to say Suzanne and I spend A LOT of time reading to our littles. So we thought it would be really fun to have a summer book club for the kids along with a few other friends. And have a little party {with cute decorations} while we’re at it, obviously. Our plan is to do about one per month. We read a book (sometimes a few times), get together for a little discussion and a project, and then follow-up when we can with some sort of related field trip. To help get the kids thinking ahead of time (and allay any nervousness about participating), we had each child think of a discussion question they wanted to ask. And each family will to take a turn hosting and “leading” the discussion. The kiddos span from rising PK’ers to rising 1st graders (plus a few younger siblings), so for our first book, we picked one of the Magic Treehouse series, which seems to work well for many ages: Abe Lincoln at Last! I have to say, I was pretty impressed. As one mom said, “well, they certainly spent longer discussing the book than the adults have at any book club I’ve been to.” And I totally agree. They all came up with good questions and insightful answers. To help everyone take notes, write thoughts, or just draw pictures, we made chalkboard name tag notebooks — they seemed to go over well and keep all the kids sitting still(ish) for the discussion. When everyone started to get a bit restless, we switched over to the other big business of our first meeting: the club name, of course! My son Kane spent a good chunk of time making a “ballot box” and the kids all voted on the name. After settling a little ballot-box stuffing, we ended up with a tie and merged two names together to make: The DC Duck Book Worms! Our DDBWs then did a little craft (making “log cabins”) and all wrote a wish for our “Hope Jar” (the book we read involves giving Abe Lincoln hope with a feather). Then there was lots of pizza and brownies. Running and screaming ensued. The moms hid in the kitchen for cocktail hour. All together, a pretty successful first book club. We plan to have a Lincoln-related field trip once we can pick a good spot — there are lots of options since we live in DC. We’ll report back!

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Kids Book Club 11 | The Land of Nod Post by Rebecca Rebecca and Suzanne are bloggers, graphic designers, and event stylists living in Washington, DC.  Rebecca is a mom to two young kiddos and, in her spare time (ha!), likes to pretend she’s a back-up dancer, craft cocktails, and run long distances. Suzanne is a big fan of good design, good wine, and her two rambunctious little boys. They share DIY lifestyle and event styling projects at A Feteful Life. Rebecca also blogs kid-friendly projects at Not-So-SAHM

Vacation Scavenger Hunt

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Maybe it’s just me, but it seems to take so much planning to get my own kids to run wild outside and entertain themselves. Last summer we traveled to Maine with my family, and I had visions of a vacation spent outdoors watching the kids play in the surf while I read a good book or two. But, with 8 adults and 6 kids, it was a little more challenging than one might think. And, in an effort to find our own relaxation, we didn’t protest much when the kids spent way too much time on their iPads. 

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It left me wondering why we endured the pain of air travel with small children, when they may as well have been sitting on the couch at home playing their games. (Well, I did get to dine on freshly caught lobster every night, so that’s probably why.)

So this summer as we planned for our family vacation to Northern Wisconsin, my husband and I were determined not to let iPads take over. We agreed with the other adults that we’d try our best to institute an “electronics after dinner only” rule. But, that meant finding some way to entertain the kids. They couldn’t exactly “run wild,” I am, after all, an extremely overprotective mom, and we were on a lake with a boat and camp fires and bugs and eagles and all other forms of danger. (I’m being a teensy bit dramatic, but not about the eagle, he was totally circling us and eyeing my daughter for an afternoon snack.)

In an effort to give the kids an activity that didn’t require constant adult intervention, my husband had the great idea of creating a scavenger hunt. It was something all the kids could participate in, and they could work on it the whole week, including on the drive up. The drive was about 6 hours each way, so passing time in the car was key. We came up with a lengthy list of things to see/catch/build, and the kids loved it. They ended up forming teams based on the cars they drove up in, and it started quite the competition. They did everything from catching fish to building forts and burying each other in the sand. Here’s the one we created. 

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This could be easily personalized for any vacation location, and can be done as a competition or the whole family can pitch and do it together. We’ve already started a list of additional items we’ll include next time around. 

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It took a little bit of preparation in the beginning, but was an extra little element that everyone enjoyed throughout our trip, and hopefully it helped create some memorable moments for the kids.  Call me old fashioned, but I’m pretty sure catching a slimy toad from under a rock with your bare hands is more memorable than taking care of virtual frogs on your iPad.

By Danielle Kurtz

Danielle is the Creative Director at Nod and an over-protective mother of two. She’s also completely obsessed with Pinterest, Twitter and her Kindle, but not necessarily in that order. Danielle loves to craft, sew and crochet, but all her supplies have a layer of dust on them about 6-years-thick, wonder if it's just a coincidence that her oldest kiddo is 6 years old?