With winter break and the longest nights of the year approaching, try a magical project that will wow your entire family – ice lanterns and wreaths. Depending on the ages of your children, decide if a simple or more labor intensive project is in order.
For the younger ones, try filling a balloon up partially with water and freeze. After an hour or so, adjust your icy orb to coax some of the remaining liquid up the sides. Once solid, remove the balloon to reveal a vessel that will make Queen Elsa swoon.
Conversely select an aluminum pie pan or plastic take-away tray and fill it with water. Arrange cranberries, pine boughs and sliced oranges then freeze. If you wish to make a hole in the ice to hang your creation, heat the tip of a skewer and carefully push it though the ice before suspending outside.
Finally try filling a bucket or large container with water. Carefully tape a mason jar down to displace the water (or alternatively try using a bundt pan) and freeze. Once solid, remove the containers and add a candle or small light and enjoy! More detailed instructions can be found here.
For other unique craft project ideas, check out our Pinterest page!
March 20th is the first official day of Spring, and the city is alive with so much to do. Take advantage of longer days and warmer temperatures to get outside and explore the city with your host kids. From cherry blossoms on the Potomac to Easter egg hunts at Hillwood or even Madame Tussauds, there truly is something for children of all ages.
Whether you’re staying home with the kids during a blizzard, a polar vortex, or just because it’s cold and dreary, the hours inside the house during winter can seem endless for everyone. But with just a bit of preparation, you can ward off the winter doldrums and keep everyone smiling. Here are some ideas to get your started:
APIA’s Pinterest Pinboards are loaded with indoor craft ideas and activities for kids of all ages:
America’s Test Kitchen has recipes and STEAM-focused, hands-on activities designed to get kids ages 8-13 cooking, experimenting, and exploring in the kitchen. Learn more by visiting America’s Test Kitchen Kids and following them on Instagram.
Making Paper Snowflakes: Cutting paper snowflakes is a fun and simple indoor winter activity. Tip: For younger kids, keep the designs simple to avoid frustration. Here’s a great video showing you how to cut some of your own.
During the last week of December and first week of January, many host kids will have between ten days to two weeks off from school for winter vacation. The thought of having the kids home for multiple days during the winter can send even the most seasoned childcare giver into a panic. Cold weather, shorter days, extra sugar, later bedtimes, and visiting relatives can be a challenge, but with some pre-planning, you can provide your host kids with a vacation to remember.
Play tourist with your host kids. Again, use the free time to explore DC. (Use the DC Guides section to help.) We live in an amazing city!
Tip #2: Dress the Part
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Winter has finally arrived in DC. It’s important to dress for cold weather and to make sure that your host children are dressed warmly too. If this is your first experience with really cold weather, ask your host parents for advice on staying warm. For more info, read this blog post from October: It’s Cold Out There! A 2018 Guide to DC Winter Weather.
Help the kids organize their toys and rooms with these suggestions. With mom and dad’s permission, perhaps your host kids can donate some of the toys they have outgrown. This will create more room for the new toys from Santa.
Looking for a fun baking activity? Gingerbread is a delicious way to celebrate the season!
Tip #4: Make a Date
Playdates can be a great way for kids to socialize and work on the important skills necessary for being a good friend. Talk with your host family about planning a playdate over winter vacation. With their permission, you can use our cluster list to find an au pair who lives near you and has host kids who are compatible ages with your host kids. If hosting doesn’t work, you can also make plans to meet up at the library for a free story hour or crafting session.
Gingerbread is an important part of many cultures’ holiday celebrations. Gingerbread men, gingerbread houses, and even gingerbread-flavored coffee are just a few of the yummy treats available this time of year. DC-based cookie guru Meaghan Mountford details the history of gingerbread cookies on her fabulous website, The Decorated Cookie.
The story of the Gingerbread Boy has been retold in many versions. Head to your local library and check out a few of these fun books:
Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett.
The Cajun Gingerbread Boy illustrated by Berthe Amoss
The Gingerbread Boy by Richard Egielski
The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone
The Gingerbread Man: An Old English Folktale illustrated by John A. Rowe
The Gingerbread Man illustrated by Karen Schmidt
The Gingerbread Man illustrated by Pam Adams
The Gingerbread Man by Eric Kimmel
The Gingerbread Man retold by Jim Aylesworth
Make Your Own Gingerbread Cookies
A gingerbread man gift card holder adds a bit of homemade love to standard gift cards. Source: The Decorated Cookie
Excited to make some of your very own gingerbread? Below is a recipe for gingerbread cookies. (Don’t forget to use American measurements and temperature settings!)
Preheat oven to 350F
In a large bowl, sift together:
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
In a smaller bowl beat together:
¾ cups brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup of molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
Stir the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture. Cover and refrigerate for one hour. Roll out on a lightly floured surface and cut out cookies. Bake on a greased cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes. Place on a rack to cool. Decorate.
Gingerbread Fun Without the Baking
If you aren’t a baker, head to almost any store (Target, 5 & Below, Safeway, Giant, Harris Teeter are just a few) to buy a kit to make a gingerbread house, It will include everything you need ~ just add your imagination!
Even More Gingerbread Ideas
Quicker and easier to make than gingerbread cookies, try gingerbread man marshmallows for Christmas. Source: The Decorated Cookie
Or if you’re ready to take your gingerbread to the next level, The Decorated Cookie has loads of fun ideas. If you decide to try any of these projects out, be sure to post pictures on our cluster group page on Facebook.