Diwali is approaching, and we have started preparing for it at our home, be it from buying diyas, rangolis, decorative items, lights, to preparing for the festivities. Re-decorating our home is the big goal and if you are looking for new ideas to deck up your house with simple crafts hand made by your little ones, read along.
I am delegating simple and easy to do tasks to Vir. While there are multiple Diwali craft ideas for preschool kids as well as grown-up children, I shortlisted some of our favorite craft activities that we are working on this year. I started looking for some craft kits and shops too to get pre made kits. And that saved me so much time. I love to support small business and encourage you all too also do your bit in helping them out this time of the year.
Here are some of the interesting and easy to make crafts for Diwali.
Diwali Greeting Card (Free Printable)
There is no precious gift than something handmade, right? We are teaching our son to make some personalized ones for each relative that can be posted in mail for families across the world. I loved the art work by Pavni Kapoor from PKK DESIGNS and she was so kind to custom make a Diwali Rangoli design card for my readers. Vir loved coloring it and adding some jewels and stickers to bling it up. You can download it HERE.
We ordered some earthen diyas online (you can also find it in Indian stores) and used acrylic paint to color the diyas. After they completely dry, add some different colors, jewels, or use markers to make patterns. Vir loved making them and was so proud to see how they turned out.
I cant imagine Diwali decoration without some kandils in the house. This beautiful kit from etsy store was just the perfect craft for me too honestly. I really enjoyed making the kandils and decking them up. You need to supervise young kids with this craft.
5. Making Rangoli with flowers.
Last year we celebrated Diwali at Delhi, India and Vir helped me make a floral rangoli at my in-laws houses. This year we are planning to make some floral rangoli too and I cant wait to share that very soon on my Instagram.
6. Diwali Banners & decoration from small shopDesi Favors.
Desi Favors specializes in merchandise of traditional Indian handmade products, party decor for weddings, religious events, bhajans, baby showers, get-togethers, give away gifts, DIY backdrop kits, gift packs, DIY kits for kids and more. Check them out. I love these Big diya cut outs that I am using to decorate indoors.
7. Diwali photo frame.
I found this image on Pinterest and immediately pinned it for future craft reference with Vir. This is a perfect activity for older kids to cut, paint and craft.
8. DIY recipe for chocolate gifts for Diwali
If your kids enjoy joining you in the kitchen, they can help you in creating this Pistachio Rose Chocolate Bark as a DIY recipe gift for Diwali. Love this easy and delicious recipe by Nisha from Love Laugh Mirch. Check out the recipe post here on her blog. I love following Nisha, she has some great recipes and tips.
You can also give it a twist and make yogurt barks instead of chocolate, use mango yogurt, strawberry yogurt or any other flavor and add same toppings.
We love Diwali at home and its the time of the year when the whole family is in one place, celebrating and enjoying. Wishing you all a very Happy Diwali. May the festival of lights brighten up you and your loved ones lives!
In this post I am sharing some of my tips on how we prepared Vir to read. Social distancing has been helpful in giving a lot of one on one time to our son as he has been home since March 2020. I used this time to work with him on reading, writing and building other skills as you must have seen on my Instagram Page The Snazzy Mom
Please note I am not an expert or a teacher and have used my personal approach to prepare Vir and build his interest in reading. Vir is currently 4 years old and in PreK 4, he is currently reading Kindergarten level books. Reading at bedtime has been a daily activity in our home and that has helped us encourage our son to start reading. I recommend including reading daily in your routine.
Once Vir mastered identifying the letters visually, and memorizing the sound associated with the letter we started with below steps. You can help memorizing letters by incorporating in play, by clay, drawing or through letter magnets and toys.
1.Phonics is Important
Phonemic awareness (understanding sounds in spoken words) and an understanding of phonics (knowing that letters in print correspond to sounds) are the most basic first steps to becoming a reader. We practiced it daily by reading books out loud and using Reading Eggs app. This app has been extremely helpful in making phonics a fun process and after a while I didn’t even need to supervise my son as he enjoyed doing it himself.
(Reading Eggs uses self‑paced lessons that match each individual child’s ability. Children are regularly rewarded for completing activities and reaching new levels, which keeps them motivated to stay on track. Parents can also view instant progress reports to see how a child’s skills are improving.Free trial.
Additionally, we used songs and nursery rhymes to build phonemic awareness. the rhyme and rhythm help kids to hear the sounds and syllables in words, which helps them learn to read.
2. Making word cards
Cut out simple cards and write a word containing three sounds on each one (e.g. dog, sat, pig, top, sun, pot, fin). Invite your child to choose a card, then read the word together and hold up three fingers. We focused on the sound each letter makes, more so than letter names. In my Instagram posts I have shared how I used Post Its to DIY these words cards and color code it. You can also use the post its for learning lowercase and uppercase letters. And play a word scavenger hunt at home.
3 Create Print Rich Environment at home
Seeing printed words (on posters, charts, books, labels, white boards etc.) enables children to see and apply connections between sounds and letter symbols. When you’re out and about, point out letters on posters, billboards and signs. Focus on the first letter in words. Ask your child “What sound is that letter?” “What other word starts with that sound?” “What word rhymes with that word?”
We love Highlights preschool workbooks because it’s designed and written just for their age group. Highlights is an exciting, colorful, fun-filled magazine developed by the early childhood experts at Highlights. Vir loves practicing his writing in the workbook and reading and solving puzzles in the magazine.
Additionally, we also put cartoons for Vir on Netlix with captions on so he can hear and read the words as well. I have seen him point at many new words he now recognizes.
4 Start Introducing Sight Words and Play games
Sight words are typically shorter words that come up very frequently in text and sometimes they don’t follow predictable spelling rules. Some examples are: look, yes, the, do. It’s better to know them by sight rather than trying to sound them out. Sight word practice can include flash cards as suggested with post its, hunting for the words in books, and using computer games or apps like Reading eggs.
We also started with Bob Books and now Vir is reading the Advanced Readers Set 2 book. Bob books helped a lot in learning sight words and build the confidence in reading. I really like how each set focuses on a few key reading concepts. Throughout the set, each book uses repetition to build mastery of that concept before moving on to another set of concepts in the next set.
5 Play CVC word games
Say a CVC word (consonant-vowel-consonant), for example ‘cat’, and ask your child to spell it using the magnets or write on a magnetic board. I help Vir, say each vowel sound aloud (/ayh/, /eh/, /ih/, /awe/, /uh/) while pointing at its letter, and then ask him which one makes a sound similar to the middle sound. We practice this daily too on the magnetic board and I often use this site for free printable and CVC word list. Pinterest has a lot of free downloads too. You can download 1 here.
CVC list for A
6 Read together daily and ask questions about the book
A lot of people don’t realize just how many skills can be picked up through the simple act of reading to a child. Not only are you showing them how to sound out words, you’re also building key comprehension skills, growing their vocabulary, and letting them hear what a fluent reader sounds like. Most of all, regular reading helps your child to develop a love reading, which is the best way to set them up for reading success.
Strengthen your child’s comprehension skills by asking questions while reading. For younger children, encourage them to engage with the pictures (e.g. “Do you see the boat? What color is the cat?”). For older children, ask questions about what you’ve just read, like “Why do you think the little bird was afraid?” “When did Sophie realize she had special powers?”
7 Reading online apps & books
Reading books aloud from your collection at home or online works best. You can use FREE digital libraries or tools available online like. We have all these below e magazines saved on Vir’s ipad and often switch to online reading to make it more fun and interactive.
For more information on other online digital tools for kids of all ages check this resource.
8. Get magazines in mail or make going to library a monthly affair.
Arranging for kids to receive free or monthly subscriptions of fun and educational items by mail is a great way to bring smiles to their faces and bring joy to reading. There are many sources of free items you can order, and your kids will have fun anticipating and receiving free stuff by mail! Here is FREE PETA helping animal guide I ordered recently for Vir.
Due to COVID we have not had access to the library for months but few weeks back the library opened in our city and so we might go to it sometime soon.
9 Be Patient and make it fun!
We all know every child learns at his or her own pace, so I remind myself the single most important thing I can do is to make it enjoyable. By reading regularly, mixing things up with the activities you choose, and letting your child pick out their own books occasionally, you’ll instill an early love of reading and give them the best chance at reading success in no time.
We also have a list of podcasts on Spotify that Vir listens too and asks questions about new words he is learning . Here is a link to the FREE podcasts you too can follow. I highly recommend this activity.
Traveling looks much different right now than it looked last summer. My husband and I talked for a week before we decided about the trip and it was not an easy decision to make. We decided to go with the idea that we’d be diligent, overly cautious, and not take any unnecessary risks.
My family just finished a 2300 miles road trip from Houston, Texas to Breckenridge, Colorado. One-way drive from Houston to Breckenridge was 18 hours and 1150 miles. This was the first time ever we decided to go on a long road trip with our son and dog. The longest road trip ( 7 hours) with our son was to New Orleans in December 2019.
Honestly there was a guilt of traveling in pandemic, the time away from our house was much needed for our mental health. We’d all been cooped up together for 5 months, and it’s been a real challenge working from home and keeping Vir active and engaged for so many months. The summer in Houston is always hot and humid with temperatures touching 102 degrees on some days.
This act of taking this road trip was a luxury for us even though it wasn’t a luxurious one. I realize we are extremely fortunate to both have jobs at a time when so many Americans are looking for work. And we are so grateful of the ability to take time off from work and stay out of our home for 10 days.
Please note – any decisions to travel are highly personal and I encourage you to take note of the risks. Please do your research, take your doctor’s advice, assess the health of your family and make an informed choice. The information I am sharing here cannot guarantee anyone’s health or safety and is not meant to be divisive or comprehensive. Please do not travel through Indigenous communities currently.
On my Instagram page I shared with you all details on my road trip and was flooded with questions on several topics. I will be sharing my tips and experiences on this post and will be happy to answer any questions either here on the post in my comments section or you can DM me on my IG page. Note- I approached our road trip planning with an overabundance of caution.
Covid Related Road Safety Precaution.
Tip- Plan you breaks ahead of time. Find the biggest rest stops that wouldn’t have a dingy bathroom.
While stopping for gas, we took extra precautions. We wore hand gloves and a mask while pumping gas. I wiped the card down after inserting it into the card reader everytime. Also trashed the gloves immediately before entering the car.
Our one-way trip was 18 hours so we broke up our trip in to 2 stops. 1 in Amarillo and 1 in New Mexico for the first phase of the drive.
However while returning from Colorado we drove 9 hours to Amarillo . (Pit stop at Sand Dune National Park) and straight to Houston next day.
On our entire road trip we ended up having total 3 restroom breaks. Stopping at hotels helped minimize public restrooms usage too.
Post using the restroom we used hand sanitizers immediately. We didn’t use any rest room that someone did before. I also carried sanitizing wipes and used on doorknobs and toilet seat before using. We wore masks all the time! Vir wasn’t allowed to touch anything.
Tip – With younger kids I recommend bringing a small, portable toilet to use. And be open to roadside bathroom break depending where it is allowed. Carry all toilet essentials.
On Road meals
I packed lot of snacks for the entire trip and a cooked meals that could easily stay fresh for few hours . We carried lots of water, juices to avoid any stops in an ice box. However we did stop at Starbucks and Mc donalds only to grab coffee, snacks and food. We wore masks all the time while getting our food from drive through.
Note none of these restaurants has restrooms open for public.
Staying in Hotels
We dint want to make this our first camping and RVing experience and so we decided the best option for us will be hotels. So far the hotels we stayed in took fantastic precautions. Everyone was wearing masks and it was enforced for all guests even kids. There were face shields between customers and front desk. The check in was smooth. The breakfast places were closed and food was only to go. Some places pools were closed too, while at our Colorado hotel, the pool had to be booked in advance . And only 2 families were allowed for an hour. We stayed in a condo in Colorado at Marriot Inn Breckenridge. Since we had our dog we had only pet friendly hotel options.
Tip – Take the first-floor hotel room next to the exit door to avoid getting in elevators and corridors with others. Call in before booking to check for covid measures taken at the property and booking room on 1st floor.
I carried a bag of cleaning supplies like lysol spray, paper towels , sanitizers and cleaned all the surfaces that would be touched before Vir entered the room.
We found that staying in a hotel and getting food to go felt perfectly safe with the excessive protective measures in place. Yet we booked a condo in Colorado with a kitchen and cooked some meals there too. I carried some ready to eat food like (pasta, pasta sauce, frozen paranthas( stuffed tortillas) noodles etc.
There was no room service until we stayed. For change of linen and towels we called the reception and left the stuff out of the room. Same with trash. It was replaced by the staff in few minutes.
National Park Visits on the way
Note: Some National parks are requiring reservations via advance ticket purchases.
We stopped on our way to Colorado at Paulo Duro Canyon in Amarilo. We checked ahead of time if the parks were open and what were the Covid restrictions. The tickets needed to be purchased in advance. We drove around the canyon and didn’t get out as it was 100 degrees that day.
On our way back from Colorado we stopped at Great Sand Dunes National park. Here the tickets were not needed in advance and was first come first serve basis. We wore masks throughout our trail and social distancing was relatively easy as it wasn’t crowded people were respectful of space.
Road trip Entertainment.
Spotify was the only source of entertainment for us. Apart from listening to my playlist we were hooked on to True Crime Podcast.
With the school year approaching, we’re ready to beat after-school boredom with some classic DIY- inspired activities and crafts you can do at home with your kids. When the school year turned virtual, Vir and I loved spending the days cooking and creating new crafts – we even set up a camp tent for our “summer vacation!”
Even though I loved the extra time with Vir, I know he missed his friends and teachers while we were at home. Homeschooling my son while working from home has made me realize how much work and effort goes into teaching our kids all day. Our teachers really made the year special, which is why I’m so happy that we’re a part of the new Juicy Juice 100% Thankful Teacher Contest. To honor and thank the teachers that go above and beyond for our kids, Juicy Juice is giving away over $30,000 in prizes to set them up for the best school year yet, and Michaels is even providing gift cards for the teachers.
Do you have a stellar teacher you want to nominate? If so, it’s super easy!!
1) Throughout August, parents can nominate the superhero teachers who have made school special for their kids, whether in-person or through virtual learning. 2) Entrants can go to juicyjuice.com/thankful to nominate teachers until August 31. 3) 20 finalists will be selected and then the grand prize voting begins! 4) All finalists will win an assortment of prizes, with 2 grand prize-winning teachers each receiving $10,000 and others winning a selection of Juicy Juice merchandise, product and a Michaels gift card!
To help get ready for the year, we found inspiration from Juicy Juice to help get in the back to school spirit and find at-home entertainment.
We usually play with the sprinkler in our driveway to cool off in the 95 degrees Houston weather and hydrate with Juicy Juice fruit juice boxes. Juicy Juice is an iconic kids’ beverage brand enjoyed by families for over 40 years. Available in 15 juicy flavors, Juicy Juice 100% juice has no added sugar, ever! I love that Juicy Juice is an excellent source of Vitamin C, making it a great choice as we head back to our school routine.
Below, I’ve shared a few of our favorite crafts and activities that you and your family can enjoy while getting ready for the year. Paired with 100% juice from Juicy Juice, it’s a great way to get ready for a new year!
1) Making tie dye shirts was on our bucket list, and it’s not as messy or daunting as it sounds. Vir was very excited about the project.
You need- White T shirt, Tulip one step Tie Dye kit and plastic bag. I searched on you tube to learn some tie dye techniques and used the spiral one for Vir’s T shirt. The idea is to keep it simple and mess free.
After tying the T shirt with rubber bands, we squeezed the dye bottles to get the color on the T shirt and then let the T shirt soak in the color up to 8 hours in the plastic bag. Later wash the T shirt in cold water and run a cycle too in the washing machine to get rid of the remaining dye and air dry.
2) Juicy Juice Monster Juice Box craft – Vir is fascinated with googly eyes and Halloween and we decided to decorate Vir’s favorite strawberry + watermelon flavor and berry flavor Juicy Juice boxes with felt paper, goggle eyes and colorful Chenille stems. It was one of Vir’s favorite craft activities to date. We are reusing the monster Juicy Juice boxes after they were empty as pen and crayon stands.
3) DIY hand painted bug rocks-These DIY hand painted ladybug rocks are perfect for your garden or indoor pot decor this summer. They’re so adorable, and so easy to make for kids. If you have stones is your front yard this is a great way to re purpose them. Vir learnt some facts about the bugs and insects too as it was the main theme for one of the camp days. You need smooth rocks, acrylic paint, black color pen, glue, google eyes. (You can also use spray paint for better coverage)
4) Nature Scavenger Hunt – Taking a walk with the kids in the summer is exciting especially when they have the Summer camp Nature Scavenger Hunt sheet. This activity makes them more aware of all the things going on around them that they might otherwise miss. You can download the free Scavenger hunt sheet here.
I hope these are helpful and you enjoy them with your kids.
There are no doubts that trying to juggle working from home with children is challenging. Whether you’re in a video call, focusing on writing, or making a presentation, there are going to be several times you are going to be interrupted and called out Mama, Mommy, Mom breaking your concentration or rhythm.
In these 3 months of working from home with a four-year-old I have realized that there are some activities where you will need to be involved with the kids and some that need minimal involvement. In this post I am covering ONLY those activities that have worked for us.
For many parents around the country school year is closed, and for those with younger kids who go to daycare, there is still time when things can go back to normal schedules. And so I hope this post can help you to keep your kids busy and occupied while learning from home.
Honestly the first few weeks of homeschooling were hard, but after trying and testing several things I have found a schedule that works for all of us. The key is Flexibility. We made sure each day for our son flows like how it would have been at school. (screen time is a new entrant although in this timetable).
Not every day is the same, we switch activities, play and learning time as the day goes by. We have no hard timetable that we follow for Vir, it is not possible given the fluidity of the workday. (Except for breakfast, lunch, snack, nap, chores and outdoor play.)
Below list is broken down into different categories.
We step out of the house at least twice in a day, once after breakfast to get some activity for 20-30 minutes and once in the evening at 5pm for longer time anywhere between an hour or more. We take necessary social distancing measures and now have started wearing masks too. (walks, scooter rides, biking, dog walk, nature treasure hunt, park hikes etc)
Vir is in Pre k 3 and at at almost 4 years of age I try to ensure 3 core activities are part of his educational time. Reading, Writing and Numbers. Below are some resources
Reading online apps & books
Reading books aloud from your collection at home or online works best. You can use FREE digital libraries or tools available online like
We also love the Reading Eggs App and Vir has picked up so many spellings. He is learning to read and can form 4 word sentences. I love the amount of puzzles, activities the app offers. Also there are worksheets that come with it, so we download that and practice too. I highly recommend this app.
For more information on other online digital tools for kids of all ages check this resource.
Writing, Tracing, Patterns
We follow this daily with some workbooks I bought from Amazon to make sure Vir practices his writing. He has learnt writing all alphabets big and small.Here are some resources
We also use the Notability App on Ipad with Ipencil. That has help change things around when Vir is bored of the books. I use the app for work but have realized we are able to lot more things with Vir for his writings and dot to do activities that are reusable.
Pinterest has several free printables online that you can use.
I also recommend having a magnetic slate, it makes it more fun and has multiple uses.
Numbers and Counting
Using flash cards has helped most in teaching Vir numbers. Also, we use a white board at home and the magnetic slate daily. All the above online resources have math and number printables available too
Visit a Zoo and Aquarium online.
Although some states have opened up and museums and zoos are accessible, you can watch animals online here
1.Household scavenger hunts have been a huge success whether be it with hiding eggs indoor on Easter or to reintroducing the Easter hunt every week. We improvised with a monster truck hunt and recently took it outdoors with nature hunt too. Below are some ideas. You can download these free printables
2. Lego Time or Building Activities: Lego is sharing videos and daily challenges online for kids to build something new. We have been following the lego masters build amazing cities and characters. You can see more here on Lego’s initiative to help families
3. Toy-Washing Bin or Water activity – Let your kids wash their plastic toys, cars trucks etc. Add tear-free bubbles, sponges, towels and other supplies. You can also open your backyard or driveways to water play with water table, balloons, toy water guns. Summer is here.
4. Bathtub Play When the day is long, and I feel I did nothing that day, all I have to do is fill up the bathtub with a little bit of water, put some fizzy bath tablets in the water and give Vir markers and toys and also a Popsicle somedays and we are good to go for a 45 minutes at least!
5.Ice Smash Game – By far one of the most IG shared and successful games to keep Vir busy while I am on office calls. Just freeze tiny toys in water overnight and give it to the kids next day to break and smash with toy hammers, spoon. Sticks etc.
1.Pasta Necklace with food coloring – We recently made our quarantine accessory at home.To make the “jewelry”, you need 2-3 spoons of water in a ziplock bag + 4 to 5 drops of food coloring + pasta. Shake the bag and dye all the pasta. Repeat step for different colors. (Optional: sprinkle in some glitter) Let the pasta dry and use a yarn to string the pasta! You can also use acrylic paint if you like. With food coloring the pasta is dyed evenly. Vir enjoyed the entire process and was proud of his creation. I love how I can do this fun activity with my son and match with him too!
2. Tootpick and Playdough STEM activity– We have started discovering the concept of Geometry and it is so much more fun while playing! We use playdough and toothpicks in this classic, hands-on activity to learn about shapes on a 3-dimensional level.
3. DIY a Boardgame Forget about a ready-made game. Your child’s creativity will kick into high gear when they make their own board game. Vir and I made a simple board game with markers, colors and paper and he loves playing with it. You can keep changing it up every few weeks by adding stickers, more colors, levels on a new chart paper or sheets
4. Nature Craft. One of Vir’s favorite activities is picking flowers from our plants and on our morning walks. We made some mixed material crafts at home on paper and with flowers, beads, crayons, colors, paints, clay and more. Try it out !
Online Dance & Karate Classes
Learn specific stances and basic positions for karate, Taekwondo or another martial art or even free dance lessons by following YouTube videos. (Definitely requires supervision.)
1.You can include little kids in your new WFH schedule by giving them their own briefcase full of office supplies and asking them to “work” quietly nearby. Use markers, pads of paper, child-friendly scissors, stickers, and any other grown-up things like pencil cases, a measuring tape, or an old-school calculator
2.We recently converted Vir’s kitchen into a café, and he loves it. The Ikea kitchen is one of the best investments we made. I have ordered some chalkboard paper to switch things around and make a taco truck and ice cream parlor too. He is learning to count money and understanding simple math like addition and subtraction.
3.Super Hero pretend play. Check out my recent blog post here for all superhero activities you can try.
Below are some of my other posts with additional ideas & resources
Kid’s love superheroes. What’s not to love? They can fly, apply super strength, use their superpowers, work as a team and can do good in the world.
Another thing that kids love is “Pretend Play”. Pretend play sessions promote enthusiastic dialog complete with descriptive new vocabulary words and increased social interaction. Best of all, when kids pretend, they also take on the perspective of another person or creature. This, inherently, helps them to develop empathy—perhaps our greatest superpower as humans.
At our home we engage with our little superhero through Role play in some of his favorite characters. And I have seen through superhero pretend play how Vir feels brave, in control and just plain good.
April 28TH is National Superhero day, this day is for honoring both fictional superheroes and real-life superheroes—those who risk their lives to keep others safe. Both heroes are role models for children, and even for adults.
Vir is a big fan of the dynamic hero trio of fan-favorites – Catboy, Owlette and Gekko – from the hit show PJ Masks. Good News!! Season 4 is debuting on May 15 at 7 PM EST/PST on Disney Junior. And new episodes, including the FIRST-EVER 44-minute special Heroes of the Sky, that will take us through heroic adventures where we meet new allies, villains and locations while centered around the power of friendship and teamwork! The show is also available to watch on Netflix.
In today’s post I want to encourage all parents to use the power of roleplay and imagination on National Superhero Day with PJ Masks with their little superheroes.
In this kit there are Activity Sheets/Printables that will help the kids have an entire day of superhero roleplay fun. Ring in the heroic day with the dynamic trio from PJ Masks, Catboy, Owlette and Gekko.
The certificate can be a great way to let the kids know they did a great job with all the activity sheets and effort they put in.
Some other learn and play activities you can include
Physical activity with a superhero obstacle course and tire them out.
Organize an obstacle course in your backyard or even your living room. Use a small blanket as cape or use the cut outs masks in above link and ask the kids to complete the course, pretending they are superheroes.
Balance a book on the head to walk.
Crawl under the chair
Knock down all the cans.
Jump from block to block.
Ride the tricycle across the living room while making a silly face.
Drag a heavy thing past the line.
DIY laser maze
Source: It’slawaysautmn blog
You can tape crepe paper streamers, ribbons or yarn in your hallway and create a maze for kids to get through without breaking or touching.
Science Exploration with Magnetic powers
You need a variety of things available at home (nails, paperclips, coins, rubber bands, crayons, blocks, etc) Hold a magnet next to each item, one at a time. Sort the objects into two piles, those that are attracted by the magnet and those that aren’t.
Practice writing with superhero name
Use a dry eraser board and ask your child to trace or practice writing his /her superhero name.
Make Superpower Jell-O potion.
Take Red, green, blue or different flavors of Jell-O powder. Ask the kids to add one tablespoon of powder to a bowl. Add hot water and encourage children to take turns stirring until the powder is completely dissolved. Once the mixture is lukewarm, invite them to drink a spoonful of the superpower potion to make them strong like a superhero.
Bring in Real Life Superheroes.
In my recent Instagram post I had shared how I explained Vir that not all heroes wear capes. Real-life heroes put themselves in harm’s way, and in circumstances where they may risk their lives for others, just as their fictional counterparts do. Some of these heroes have careers that put them into these scenarios, such as members of law enforcement, military personnel, and firefighters and as we can see how the front-line workers are daily fighting the current pandemic. Reading a book and talking about their courage to our kids can be a great way to show the importance of helping others in time of need.
Vir is so excited to sport his DIY Holi T shirt that we made together
I believe incorporating cultural traditions in lessons and activities at school can help teachers build inclusive classrooms. My son has been the only South Asian in his classroom ever since he started going to daycare and now even at preschool. And every year I have worked on introducing a cultural day in his classroom around our big festivals like Diwali and Holi. This has helped me personally build the excitement around our culture and festivities, as our son gets to experience the fanfare around it not only at home but also at his school with his friends and teachers.
Although the kids in his class are very young to really understand the significance of “culture,” it is important for us that our toddler can celebrate these festivals with same rigor and excitement as other classroom events. Honestly, this is also a reminder for us parents to continue taking these steps to raise confident kids who are proud of their roots.
Holi is the festival of colors and when it comes to kids, we all know how much they love to play with colors! Below is a list of things I have done in the past and plan to do at my almost 4-year old’s classroom. Also, I am sharing some ideas for older kids that I have saved for coming years.
Talk to your kid’s teacher
Share with them more information about the festival or event you plan to celebrate. ( I usually bring print outs on simple and key information about the festival, also share pictures and ideas I like to incorporate)
My son gave a small presentation last year on Diwali. We will be doing it this year for Holi too. I usually read him books and show him videos and pictures to help him prepare. We try adding some festival related props that bring excitement to the talk. For Holi I plan for him to show powder color and water blaster ( pichkari ).
4. Dress for the occasion.
As Vir will be presenting to his class, I decided to work on a simple DIY project with him. This Holi T shirt was a fun way to engage and learn about the festival. Older kids can make one on their own and share it with their friends too. There are some T shirts you can also buy online at Etsy and Amazon.
I bought the supplier from Marshalls . You just need fabric pends and a white T shirt to make something similar.
5. Request for a collaborative class project
We did the finger painting and hand painting activity last year on a large chart paper as a collaborative classroom project. It was displayed in the class all month, so all parents could see it and the kids could admire their prints.
Here are some art and craft project ideas that you can get inspiration from
Spray Painting Holi cards , Hand print heart canvas art, Watercolor garland, Holi spring tree with colorful tissue paper
6.Decorate the class
Just like any other celebration I like to include some pieces of decor in the class after teacher’s permission. This makes the celebration extra special. Usually I offer to get the decor and it can be something simple like, colorful ribbons, streamers, paper banners etc.
No celebration is complete without some celebratory food and gifts.. You can request for a colorful snack or buy one for the entire class – from sprinkle cupcakes, to holi special cookies, yogurt or fruit pouches. It’s a fun way to make the day extra memorable. Avoid homemade desserts or food.
I will be offering snacks and paints for favors , will be using this cute printable from 5Minutesformom
8.Class / Teacher gifts
You want to thank the teachers for their efforts, and it is a sweet gesture too. For teachers I like to give usually give succulents and for Holi a pretty spring bouquet will be apt. Gift cards from Amazon go a long way. (For Diwali I gave diyas and candy to the entire class in organza bags. All the parents and kids love it soo much.)
Before having my toddler, I had seen one too many living rooms taken over by toys. I was determined that my own living room would never look like a play area. But, like all the other things I said I would never do, I found it difficult to avoid once I became a parent.
I have tried to curtail my toddler’s toy collection by buying only a few thoughtfully curated open-ended activity-based toys, some action-based figures and pretend play toys and few outdoor play and sport related products.
I am making this list based on seeing which toys have received the most use and love in our house over the years, and by the stream of friends who have played with them, the clear winners are the below 10 products. We love open ended toys as they foster creativity, imagination and problem-solving skills and makes little ones learn to be independent. These toys can vary from the child’s desire and age. (blocks, animal figures, dress up accessories and more).
Ikea Play Kitchen – This kitchen by far is my son’s favorite pretend play toy, and I have seen him play with it since he was 1 year old. I love with time he has learnt to be independent by playing with it. The best part is watching all his male friends also enjoy playing in the kitchen as much they do while playing with trucks. I have added several small items in his kitchen like a coffee maker, cup and kettle set to play food and utensils. (found in ikea and amazon)
2. Augmented Reality games helps in memorizing better and is an immersive learning experience. Vir was recently gifted the Play Shifu Space card game by his aunt and he is learning a lot more about the planets and solar system
I also liked theOsmo games and had seen them at our friend’s and stores, planning to try them out too
4. Board Games like Three Little Piggies helps with logic and spatial insight. I love Vir is playing the expert level and this is by far one of his favorite story and game
5. Puzzles from eeboo has helped in letter and picture recognition for at early stages of development and we have recently bought the Word puzzle gameto develop reading skills
6. In Culture Toys and Learning Kits – Teaching our son about our culture and language is very important to our family and plush toys and books from Modi Toys and a Travel kit with memory cards and so many other products from Sanskar teaching has helped us make the learning process fun.
Modi toys recently launched the baby Hanuman plush toy and story book I can wait to get my hands on. Also Sanskar Teaching offers virtual and online courses in Gujrati. I highly recommend checking out these two mom owned business.
7. Car Track Play –PlayTape is perfect for building the kid’s own world of roads, highways, and racetracks. It is compatible with all match box size trucks and cars and the best part is roads can be made anywhere. Its is easy to remove and I like how my son makes these roads around his bed room
8. Balance Bike – Getting my son to balance bike since he was 18 months was one of my best decisions. We started with the Woom 1 bike and after a year of balance bike we moved toWoom 2 and now he is pedaling without any training wheels! I highly recommend their bikes we have been using the brand for over 3 years now and love it. The woom 2 bike represents the ideal link between the balance bike and a pedal bike and enables fast learning of the movement process – even without training wheels.
9. Scooter – We got the scooter when Vir turned 2 and it has been very helpful in promoting muscle strength and development. We love the Microkickboard scooter, it is one of the highest rated scooter in the market. Vir’s favorite activity after school is to hit the park on his scooter. I love the quality and that he never trips on it while turning.
10. Outdoor toys like water and sand table is a must especially with summers approaching. Vir was gifted Step2 Fiesta Cruise Sand & Water Table with Umbrella by his grandparents for his 2nd birthday. I like that it has a place for sand and water both. Most of the time my son makes it a car wash for all his cars.
Hope you find this resource useful!
I will love to hear your most recommended toys too.
I love listening to Vir’s stories when he plays with these toys. He loves to see his favorite Sago Mini charterers come to life with this Road Trip Collection.
Forget the ‘terrible twos’ – meet the ‘tricky threes’! As our little ones toddle their way into preschooler-hood, they leave the obsession with ‘no’ behind, and begin to develop their own unique tastes, faves and dislikes. While it’s a unique privilege to watch them blossom into little people, it does make coming up with activities they’ll like even trickier.
16.Explore textures and practice sensory skills by placing various objects in a paper bag and have your child guess what they are. 15.Take a Portable Playset to your neighborhood cafe. 14. Work on a puzzle together. 13. Clean up your craft game with these zero-waste activities. 12. Practice organization by packing a suitcase for a pretend-play trip. 11. Fill up the bathtub with water, throw in some fun water toys and create a splash-zone play area!
10.Create an on-the-go puppet show with the Walk & Play Finger Puppets. 9.Act out your favorite fairy tale – or better yet, create your own! 8. Learn all the dance moves to your kid’s favorite song (Baby Shark, anyone?) 7.Craft a creative hat (& then try it on unsuspecting family members.) 6. Take the subway or drive to a new area, and be a tourist in your own town.
If you follow me on Instagram you know we love to go to our neighborhood library every other weekend.
5.Set up your very own Tickle Trunk. 4.Get some help in the kitchen. 3. Check out the local library or community center for free activities. 2. Find a petting zoo – or create your own with animal figurines and stuffed animals! 1. Snuggle up with some sweets and their favorite story – this one’s fun for both the 3-year-olds and the 30-ish-year-olds. 🙂
I will love to know how you keep your little one’s busy!
I have been lately posting a lot of stories on my Instagram of the popsicles batches I have been preparing for my son to be beat the H town heat. And as promised to all my followers who sent me so many DMs, here are the recipes to Vir’s favorite popsicles that are easy to make and healthy too!
It’s hotter than hot in Houston and so these nutritious and healthy popsicles end up as snacks and even sometimes as a meal on those hard days with a toddler.
The recipes are extremely simple and has almost 3- 4 ingredients max.
You need these 2 very important things to start with the process.
1)Ice Cream Mold
I planned a trip to my local grocer Kroger on the weekend to get all the fresh fruits, yogurt and ice cream molds. While shopping I came across the Brawny Tear-A-Square® paper towel! I cannot tell you how much I hate wasting paper napkins and tearing an entire sheet to just clean a little spill or to have to use as a napkin while feeding.
The award-winning Brawny Tear-A-Square®just solved such a huge waste problem for me, as the quarter sheet size works for both clean-up and as a napkin! Just the right size of paper towels a toddler can use. It is perfect for home use, picnics, barbeques, road trips, just anywhere. I highly recommend getting this product and trying it out. I wished I found them during Vir’s Birthday Party, I threw so many napkins out that just had a little bit of cake on it or were just left on the floor.
Below are my most recommended popsicles that you and your kids can enjoy. To make them interesting I added some layers with yogurt for a bit extra!
Strawberry, Blueberry Watermelon Smash
These are 90 % fruit and 10% yogurt for that extra zing. It helps balance your electrolytes.
I hate wasting food and fruit especially. A big watermelon sometimes at our home gets wasted and so I made sure I blend it with other fruits to get the taste, strawberries add some more sweetness and the blueberry adds the deep dark colors ( It can also make it tangy ). You can choose to add sugar or replace blueberry with lime for a zing. I didn’t add either.
Pour the blended mixture in ice mold upto ¾ till top and freeze for 3 hours.
After 3 hours use some store bought strawberry or vanilla organic yogurt. And pour it in the remaining portion of molds to fill up the rest and add a layer.
Check after a few hours. It should be ready to eat!
These are beautiful looking, tastes awesome like any other fruit popsicle in the market minus the sugar.
I had been wanting to introduce mangoes to Vir, he somehow hasn’t appreciated the fruit as much. I guess because it’s a bit tangy and not as sweet as alphonso mangoes.
So, I took 1 whole peeled mango, added 2 tbsp sugar and some whole milk to make it smoothie like and not entirely fruity. Please see how much sugar you need to add as some mangoes can be tangy.
Like above I poured the blended smoothie in ice mold upto ¾ till top and freeze for 3 hours.
After 3 hours use some store-bought vanilla organic yogurt. And pour it in the remaining portion of molds to fill up the rest and add a layer.
Check after a few hours. It should be ready to eat!
This was a hit, as Vir got excited about the yellow color. You can also add pineapple and make it a tropical smoothie without the milk.
Peanut Butter, Banana and Chocolate Pop!
This was a hit especially last week when my son was sick and wasn’t eating a lot. I tried to give him milk and he kept refusing it. So, I took his store-bought chocolate milk, add 1 tbsp of peanut butter and half banana and blended it.
You can add sugar too or even honey. I added 1 tbsp of sugar as the peanut butter had no sugar added to it. Taste the smooth mixture when you are done blending and add accordingly.
Pour the mixture in mold and added the rest of the banana pieces in the mold and set it to freeze. Check after 3 hours.
The right amount of screen time is a completely personal choice for all the parents to make and I would like to stress I am not promoting the use of devices on this post today. However, we live in a device obsessed world and setting limits on screen time is a more crucial point to think over than ruling it out completely. One of the greatest struggles we’ve experienced as new parents has been how to foster digital savvy‐ness in our child– while we don’t want to shield him from today’s latest technology.
Responsible use of media currently is important, and tablets or phones can be used for either reading books out loud, or for learning apps and games that could be like educational toys. Or for example sometimes watching language promoting cartoons (in our case Hindi cartoons) while eating dinner or having lunch at the restaurant. (moms just banish that mom guilt, we can eat at least 1 meal in peace)
We are constantly looking for some new ways to entertain our energetic toddler without feeling guilty about, while offering something that offers creativity, is educational and engaging!
So, I am rounding up some apps that is my top picks. We have often used these on our long flights and have usually downloaded them just days before to keep him interested.
Recommending apps for kids of age 1-5 year below
Lego Duplo Train (Age 2+ )–This app is a lot of fun – first it FREE,it’s Lego there are Trains ! One of Vir’s favorite, build tracks, choose the wagons, load the train , drive it and also make bridges. It is almost like a puzzle
Talu Town for (Age 5 and under)– Another app we recently introduced to Vir. In this app kids drive around a virtual city and help friendly characters with various tasks—disguised as mini games. I love how all the tasks help in practice counting, matching, sorting, shapes, puzzles, and more. Completing each task allows them to earn stars, which can be used to buy new cars and outfits.
Artie’s World (Age 3-6)– We started using this a month back and love it. Artie’s World is a playful app that teaches kids how to draw with a dot-to-dot system. Kids trace basic and irregular shapes to draw toys, vehicles, and animals, then watch as their creations come to life with funny animations. The app is simple enough for young kids, and there is no reading required
Woodie Hoo Animal Friends Ages 2+ . This game can be played at the kid’s own pace and stimulates to learn with fun, colorful, high quality animations and pictures. I like how it hold’s the attention for a good amount of time. Note there are in app purchases.
6. Sago Trucks and Diggers (Age 2+) One of my son’s favorite he likes to play it till date. Kids can drive a dump truck, pile dirt high and dig deep in the ground with diggers, cranes and bulldozers. Great for motor skills and no in app purchases.
7.My Very Hungry Caterpillar (Age 2+) This is a unique app and promotes imaginative play. The app is basically an extension of Eric Carle’s classic book. Vir really enjoyed it as he was reading the book and could see the caterpillar in action. On the app daily, the caterpillar is up to some new challenges and things to play with including painting, making music, and watering your garden. After around 6 days, your caterpillar is quite large and makes a cocoon, emerging the next day as a beautiful butterfly. A great lesson on the life cycle!
8.Daniel Tiger’s Stop and Go Potty(Age 2+) – This app helps in toilet training and helps in understanding important bathroom routines. There are some games too that are simple and appropriate for the target age, and the narration is excellent.
9. Bimi Boo Kids Baby Piano (Age 1+) This app has been one of the first musical apps Vir started with. It allows little ones to develop creativity, an ear for music, hand-eye coordination, fine motor and attention.
10. Peek a Boo Barn (Age 1+) was one of the first few apps that we introduced to our son when he was 2. He learnt the names of animals and sounds within days. They have many other apps but first definitely try this.
Please do share with me in comments your most recommended apps too.
Unlike last year where we decided to go on a vacation with our 2-year-old to Los Cabos on his birthday, this year we celebrated our son’s third birthday party at our place. One of the major reasons I wanted to have it at our home was that I hardly got to invite my friends and family over last year. With all my travels, pending projects and of course never having enough time to complete errands- planning a party, potluck or dinner was never on my list. However, this year I am hoping to host more parties and get together for our friends and especially now when our son is getting older and making so many memories.
Vir’s Third Birthday is such an important milestone for us. He is a preschooler (unbelievable), full of energy and questions, finally potty trained (Thank god!) yet still in that adorable toddler stage where he wants his independence but still wants mom and dad around for everything. I made sure to make his big day truly special and so we went and choose a theme that is exactly what he wanted and cared about at this age. TRUCKS and TRUCKS and all kinds of trucks. He clearly knows way more heavy-duty vehicles than me and often corrects me if I call a dump truck just a truck.
I took me 2 weeks to put together his Construction Theme Birthday Party at our place. I think this was by far my biggest Pinterest mom moment. I thought through every detail and scanned several stores to land the items I needed for the party and visualized in my head.
Invitation: I wanted to make an invite for Vir’s party, I always make the invitations on apps like Canva or order from Shutterfly. But I decided to buy a template from Etsy store, I looks for the right card and was very happy with my choice.
Decorations: The most important element that truly brings out the theme of a party are the decor pieces. From Amazon, to Etsy, to local Boutique shops and party stores I went and shopped everywhere. We used our dining table as the main table to display the cake and construction items. The key pieces I used for the construction theme birthday party were:
I avoided black as much as I could and used more yellow and blue colors for the theme. I used a lot of black and grey on Vir’s first birthday party.
Snacks and Kids Table: For kids we rented 2 small center tables with 16 chairs from a party place so that the kids could comfortably sit, eat and play the games there. It was tough to have them all seated in 1 place for long, but I was so happy at different times of the party several kids sat to eat, chat and play. Apart from candy on the center table I has these items on the kids table
Fruit Punch flavor Juice packs
And of course, Cake
Construction Birthday Cake: I had so many designs in mind for the cake and found so many great ideas on Pinterest. Having visualized a lot of yellow on the center table I stuck with a blue 2 tier cake for 40 people in chocolate flavor. The kids loved it and most of all Vir was so happy! We got it from Alphorn Bakery, I have ordered all our event cakes from there.
Party Activities and Games for Toddlers : This Birthday party had 15 kids mostly of the age 3 and under, except for a couple of 6-year-old. Initially I was looking for a party entertainer mostly a balloon twister and I couldn’t find a good one as it was too last minute.
Not many party entertainers fit in a construction theme, so we made 2 simple activities, but the biggest hit were the 20 construction trucks out of which Vir owned most and few I borrowed from our friend who has a 4 year old equally obsessed with trucks as Vir.. All the kids found their favorite toys and played together. It was amazing that there was no crying and yelling for any toy!!
Truck Coloring Pages and Crayons– I downloaded this that I found online and gave it to the kids.
I will say at least 3 of them spent more than 2 minutes on it. This activity will work better with elder kids over 5 years.
Pound the Nail Game: I was sure that kids will enjoy a fun pounding session. Just give each item to the kids and ask them to pound the nails. Offer more nails and Styrofoam when kids are done with one session. The game was huge hit and surprised everyone. You need:
Sand Play Site: You can also make a sand play area if you have a backyard and can take the party outdoor. We didn’t do it as we have a town home and no backyard or outdoor space.
Construction Pop up photo booth– This was also a huge hit. I forgot about it until the end of the party but all the kids who hadn’t left loved taking their pictures and seeing them too. I got this from Arnes in Houston.
Party Favor for kids: I found the cutest party favor box from here ! The sell 12 boxes per pack so I ordered 2 bags. In the favors I kept sunglasses, whistle, fun bracelet, small trucks and candy for kids. Also, the hard hats, hammer and a gas balloon each was used as a favor. For older kids and babies, I got age appropriate gifts.
Party Food for Family and Adults- All the parents and adults in the house got good few good hours to chat and indulge in adult conversation as kids the were busy having fun. We had drinks and snacks items as the party was from 3pm-6pm. Here is the food we kept which hardly got wasted
Cheese Platter- 5 Cheeses,Dry fuits and jams with crackers from Whole Foods
Family Matching Outfits: We also coordinated our outfits with yellow as the primary color. Instead of wearing the family construction T shirts we wore our regular outfits but stayed in theme through color. I wore a Yellow Striped Jumpsuit (sold out), Vir and Deep wore matching yellow bow ties and my mom wore a yellow shirt.
I hope you have a great celebration and these ideas help you prepare better!