Tag Archives: winter

Card Games for Kids of All Ages

I have wonderful memories of playing cards as a young child.  I was captivated as a 4-year-old when I first learned to play Fish. The way my older cousin shuffled the deck seemed like magic.  And then there was the overwhelming anticipation followed by horror if I unknowingly selected the Old Maid from the person next to me.  I couldn’t get rid of her fast enough.  Whether you have preschoolers or teens at home, here are 6 simple card games that everybody loves .

OLD MAID

Prep a standard deck of cards by removing one queen card and shuffling the deck. Deal out all the cards to all the players until there are none left. Players remove the pairs in their hands. The dealer fans out his cards in his hands and offers his hand to the player on his left. That player selects one and adds it to her own hand. Any matches are removed. The process continues around and around the circle until everything is paired up except the queen. Whoever is left with it at the end of the game is the Old Maid!

GO FISH

The goal here is to get four of a kind. Deal out seven cards to each player. If you have seven or more players, use five cards a piece. Put the remaining cards in a deck in the center. Player 1 picks any other player to ask if he has the card she’s looking for – e.g., “Do you have any threes?” Hand over the cards if you’ve got them or tell the person to “Go Fish” for a card in the pile. As soon as you find four of a kind, put them face up on the table. Whoever runs out of cards first is the winner.

WAR

This game of luck can be totally addictive for kids. Divide the deck evenly among the two players. Each player turns over the top card on her deck at the same time. Whoever has the higher card takes both cards and puts them at the bottom of her stack. If the cards are the same, then it’s war! Each player counts out three cards (face down) and the next card is shown. Whoever has the higher card wins all the cards.

UNO /CRAZY EIGHTS

This game, played with UNO cards or a standard pack of playing cards, has one goofy twist: eights rule! Deal seven cards out to each person in a two-player game, or five cards for games with three or four players. The remaining cards go in a draw pile, and one card is turned over to start the play pile. The player to the dealer’s left must match the card’s number or suit from the face-up pile. A player who does not have a match may play an eight and change the suit to anything they wish. A player who has neither a match nor an eight must draw until he gets a card that can be played. The first to discard all their cards wins.

CONCENTRATION

Turn a standard deck of cards into a game of concentration. Shuffle the deck, laying the cards out in rows, and hunting for “matches” of the red kings, black threes, and so forth. For little ones, use just the two red suits for a more manageable set.

FOREHEAD POKER

This is a fun, super simple two-player game for the small fries. Place the deck between you and your child. Each of you grabs a card without peaking at it and places it on your forehead so that your opponent can see it, but you can’t. Have your little one guess if their own card is higher or lower than yours. If they’re right, they take the pair. If they’re wrong, it’s yours. Take turns and work your way through the deck. The person with the most cards at the end is the winner.

Preparing for Cold Weather

We’re at that time of year when temperatures in the District start dropping a bit. It can be 70°F (21°C) one day and 40°F (4°C) the next. With this fickle weather, many people begin to opt for indoor activities instead of outdoor ones. But there may be times when COVID case numbers are high and you just might want to be outdoors to minimize your risk of getting sick.

A wise Scandinavian once said…

If you come from a warmer climate this may sound impossible. Over the years I have noticed that the temperature difference is much easier on those who have a gradual adjustment. It allows your body time to adapt to the lower temperatures.  So, that’s the great news for all of you who are already here! Your body is already getting adjusted, so give your mind a chance to stay open to enjoying the outdoors too.

The next thing to do is get yourself the proper clothing and accessories. Start shopping for cold weather clothing: sweater, coat, gloves, hat, scarf, long underwear & boots. Ask your host family if they have some you can use and then start looking out for sales and checking thrift shops for the rest. Take a look at what you already have and think of ways to layer it. A long sleeve t-shirt under a sweatshirt may be as warm as a jacket. A pair of leggings or tights under a pair of jeans adds a lot of warmth.

It may also help to remind yourself that people in other parts of the U.S. and other countries experience much colder temperatures than we do here and still embrace the outdoors.

Pick your activities carefully. If you are sitting next to a fire pit or doing physical activity you will feel warmer. When you take the kids to the playground or out in the snow, don’t just sit on the bench and watch. You will feel warmer and have more fun if you are actively involved and enjoying a brisk day outside.

Recipes, Crafts & Activities for Winter Fun

If you are looking for fun things to do with your host kids to celebrate the winter season, check out Au Pair in America on Pinterest. You’ll find recipes, crafts, games and winter traditions from a variety of countries to share with your host children.

If you have some fun winter traditions from your home country, share those with your host family. This beautiful season is a great time for culture sharing.

Winter Fun &  Winter Holidays

 

Top 10 Winter Driving Tips

Cold weather can bring a new set of driving challenges, especially if you are not from a climate where you have experience with these conditions. Driving in the snow and ice can be a challenge even for experienced drivers. If you don’t have to go out in bad weather, stay home. If you do have to go out, here are some tips. More information can be found on the AAA website.

Top 10 Winter Driving Tips

  1. Bulky coats and snowsuits should not be worn underneath the harness (straps) of a car seat. Check out information here and discuss with your host parents.
  2. Keep cold-weather supplies in your car, such as a blanket, a flashlight, window ice scraper, snacks and water.
  3. Make certain your tires are properly inflated and have plenty of tread.
  4. Keep at least half a tank of fuel in your vehicle at all times.
  5. Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
  6. Avoid sudden moves, accelerate and decelerate slowly.
  7. Don’t stop going up a hill.
  8. Increase the following distance between you and the car ahead of you. 
  9. Know your brakes. Test our how they perform on slippery surfaces in a safe place where there are not other cars parked close to you.
  10. Leave early to give yourself extra time and drive slowly.

Even better… If you don’t have to go out driving in snow and ice, stay home.

This short video has some great information.

Photo: Steve Pisano (Flickr)

Preparing for Cold Weather

We’re in that time of year where the temperature starts dipping a little lower. It can be 70°F (21°C) one day and 40°F (4°C) the next. This is a time when many people begin to opt for indoor activities instead of outdoor ones. As the pandemic continues, we may be rethinking that this year. CDC guidelines state that outdoor gatherings and activities are generally safer than indoor ones.

There is a Scandinavian saying about this…

If you come from a warmer climate this may sound impossible to you. Over the years I have noticed that the temperature difference is much easier on those who have a gradual adjustment. It allows your body time to adjust to the lower temperatures. So, that’s the good news for all of you who are already here. Your body is already getting adjusted, give your mind a chance to stay open to enjoying the outdoors.

The next thing to do is get yourself the proper clothing and accessories. Start shopping for cold weather clothing: sweater, coat, gloves, hat, scarf, long underwear & boots. Ask your host family if they have some you can use and then start looking out for sales and checking thrift shops for the rest. Take a look at what you already have and think of ways to layer it. A long sleeve t-shirt under a sweatshirt may be as warm as a jacket. A pair of leggings or tights under a pair of jeans adds a lot of warmth.

It may also help to remind yourself that people in other parts of the U.S. and other countries experience much colder temperatures than we do and are still able to enjoy the outdoors.

Pick your activities carefully. If you are sitting next to a fire pit or doing physical activity you will feel warmer. When you take the kids to the playground or out in the snow, don’t sit on the bench and watch. You will feel warmer and have more fun if you are actively involved and having fun with them.

If you have tips on enjoying the cold weather, please share them!

CONTEST: The first au pair in our cluster to message Christine or Lisa with their favorite cold weather activity will win a prize!

Image: Canva.com

Make Your Own Play Dough

Play dough is the perfect modeling material for children. Their small hands can pat, poke, pinch, roll and knead it into many shapes. Keep it in an airtight container to use another day, or let it air dry into favorite shapes.

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Measure 2 cups of flour, one cup of salt and 4 teaspoons of cream of tartar into a bowl. Add 1/4 cup of oil to one cup of water in a separate bowl then add the mixture to the dry ingredients. For colored play dough, squeeze 10-20 drops of food coloring into the water before you add it to the mixture. Cook the dough at low heat in a wide pan, stirring constantly until it becomes rubbery. Remove the dough from the heat and knead it for a few minutes. When it cools the kids can play too!

Photo: Kevin Jarrett (Flickr)

Indoor Winter Fun

Brr…It’s cold out there!

Whether you’re staying home with the kids during a  blizzard, 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:

APIA Winter Fun

APIA Kid’s Stuff

APIA Fun Recipes

 

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.

 

If you’re looking to get out of the house, the Winter Fun for DC Kids (2018-2019) blog post from has the rundown on DC-area adventures.

Winter Vacation: Tips for Success

Photo: m01229 (Flickr)

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.

Tip #1: Plan Ahead

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.

Tip #3: Plan a Cozy Day Indoors

  • Staying home for the day? APIA’s Pinterest boards have loads of winter fun and holiday crafts and activities.
  • 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.

DC’s Winter Lights

Looking for something fun to do on a cold winter night? Check out these free events designed to help you enjoy DC ~ even with the earlier sunsets.

Light Yards

Light Yards DC

Dec 7 to Jan 4 | 6 – 10 PM

#LightYards has two must-see, worldwide traveling light installations:

  • The Pool (by Jen Lewin Studio) invites visitors to hop, skip, and jump across 106 interactive circular pads of light.
  • Angels of Freedom (by OGE Group) aims to reveal the inner beauties of everyone by visually turning visitors into real-life angels.

ZooLights

Photo: Jim Jenkins, Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Nov 23 to Jan 1 (except Dec 24, 25 and 31) |5 – 9 PM

#DCZooLights includes live music performances, tasty winter treats and plenty of opportunities for holiday shopping. More than 500,000 environmentally friendly LED lights transform the Zoo into a winter wonderland complete with two dazzling laser light shows set to music.

New this year:

  • Gingerbread Village
  • Reindeer Game Fun Zone
  • Interactive Light Display
  • Grump Holiday Market (Dec 6, 7, 8)

National Christmas Tree

The 96th annual National Christmas Tree Lighting at The Ellipse in President’s Park on November 28, 2018, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi)

Nov 29 to Jan 1 |10 am-10 pm weeknights/11 pm weekends

The National Christmas Tree will be lit every day starting from approximately 4:30 p.m. as part of the “America Celebrates” display at President’s Park (White House). The walkway surrounding the National Christmas Tree features 56 state and territory trees decorated with handmade ornaments that are unique to each tree. Please visit the National Park Service website for the most up-to-date information.

US Capitol Christmas Tree

U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree on the West Lawn of the Capitol Building in Washington DC, December 6, 2018. (Forest Service photo by Cecilio Ricardo)

Dec 7 to Jan 1 |Nightfall-11 pm

This year’s 80-foot-tall #uscapitolchristmastree traveled over 3000 miles from the Willamette National Forest in Oregon to Washington, DC,  aboard a 106-foot-long truck and trailer. Seventy smaller companion trees from Oregon also decorate government buildings and public spaces around Washington, DC. Oregonians contributed 10,000 handmade ornaments celebrating the state’s cultural history and people, landscapes, natural resources, and fish and wildlife. Click here to learn more.

Georgetown GLOW

Image: Bekah Richards (Flickr)

Dec 1 to Jan 6 | 5 – 10 PM

#GeorgetownGLOW invites visitors to reimagine the season of light through outdoor public art. Click here for more information about this year’s art installations and to download a map.

 

Looking for more fun ways to celebrate the holiday season in DC?