Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Synchronized Swimming

Since Friday, I have spent a lot of time enjoying and celebrating the Olympics. There really is an event for everyone...even if your thing is hand ball.

Thinking about trying some new Olympic-inspired moves? Allow me to recommend learning some basic synchronized swimming techniques. This great article provides five simple moves to start with.

What could be better than dancing in the water?

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Perfect Flip Turn

Inspired by a graphic how-to illustration in American Girl Magazine  (which cannot be found anywhere on the web), I took to the pool with a mission: to learn how to flip turn.

What better time to work on your swimming techniques than during the Olympics? This instructional video breaks down the turn in a way that would be easy for both kids and adults.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Let the Games Begin!

Do you remember watching the Olympics as a kid? At 11 years old, the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta meant everything. Dominique Moceanu, only a few years older than me, inspired me to believe that young people were talented, capable, and dedicated. The US women's basketball team completely changed the game. Sheryl Swoopes was god!

Whether it's just watching, or getting out there and trying some of the sports themselves, the Olympics can have a big impact on kids.  Get your future medal winner inspired with an Olympic themed party. Need last minute invites? Paperless Post has got you covered! Get the party started right by asking your guests to create their own opening ceremony uniform, from either a country of their choice or a country of their own making! Let them show off their sporty digs while marching around the yard or neighborhood to outrageous fanfare played over your iPhone. 


For decoration, hang up a banner of international flags, or have your guests create their own flags with white paper, crayons, a wooden dowel, and some glue. A chart to keep track of each country's medals is a great decoration, activity, and math exercise.

Don't forget snacks! I'll be making Olympic torches out of ice cream cones and popcorn. Air pop the corn kernels for a healthier option.

A photo booth will keep the party going, and helps each person remember the fun. Buy or make your own Olympic or sport-themed props!

Before each guest leaves, award them all with a medal. Turn it into a game by saying a few nice words about one child, give them a medal, and then have them say some nice words about another kid. Continue this activity, emphasizing that each person has to pick someone new, until each child has a medal.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Big Top Fitness is on Pinterest

With the help of my favorite fancy lady, Tara Hewlett of As Long As It's Fancy, Big Top Fitness is now pinning. Tara and I have been scouring the Internet looking for images and ideas that help parents bring the Big Top to their own homes. The boards include: A Circus Party, Kids Doing Amazing Things, Healthy Snacks, Family Fitness, The Big Top Look, and Circus Stuff. Check us out, and share any pin ideas here!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fashion Tips from a Preschooler: Salt-Water Sandals

While teaching preschool in Massachusetts, I began to master the teacher dress code: comfortable yet professional. This usually included loose fitting pants, lots of cotton shirts and blouses, and basically anything that I didn't mind getting paint or dirt on. I always had trouble with shoes, especially during the summer, though.

I was inspired by one of my own students who wore cute, colorful sandals that seemed to keep their shape and vibrance despite all of the running around she did. It was then that I learned about Salt-Water Sandals (cue: angelic singing).

Salt-Water Sandals are inexpensive, bright, virtually indestructible footwear with a great history. They were originally created for children during the Second World War from scraps leftover from military boots. There wasn't enough leather to make the sandals kids had been wearing prior to the war, so a simple pattern was created from the boot leftovers. The company has remained family owned since 1944, making virtually the same product for almost 70 years.

Over the years, these shoes have gained popularity among both kids and women. One of my co-workers recently told me that they were my hipster mom shoes. I took that as a compliment.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Ultimate Lemonade Stand

The best kinds of lemonade stands are spur of the moment creations, making a homemade concoction with your parents, and setting up shop on the sidewalk or front lawn. The lemonade stand is not only a childhood right of passage, it's also a great way to practice necessary developmental skills:

  • Making the lemonade requires math skills for measuring (dependent on your use of the powdery, mixy stuff), fine motor skills when cutting lemons, and also lets kids practice culinary skills 
  • Creating a sign allows kids to practice their handwriting and experiment with their artistic skills
  • Communicating with customers means kids are going to have to socialize with other kids and adults (after several reminders not to talk to strangers), and lets them communicate their ideas about their product
  • Pouring is another great way to practice fine motor skills and requires focus and precision
  • Counting money and making change is a fun way to work on math skills and number sense 

What if you could create the ultimate lemonade stand? I thought about that a bit and put together some of my favorite pieces for the design savvy lemonade parent:child team!

1. Mason jars take the drinking experience up a notch and offer a greener option
2. These pink and yellow straws compliment the lemonade and add a bit of whimsy
3. Don't forget a brightly colored apron to hide the lemonade spills!
4. This vintage cash box not only keeps your earnings in one place, it also brightens up your stand 
5. This sign framed would be a fun and positive reminder for passers-by and potential customers
6. Even if you're making lemonade with a mix, sliced lemons add some fun and flavor
7. Try making your own organic lemonade from scratch with an inexpensive juice press
8. This ceramic lemonade crock has a retro vibe, and the wording is another great way to get the word out on your product

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Friendship Bracelets

So often, we get excited about media and technology for children that we forget about some of the timeless activities that kids are still very much interested in. For example, friendship bracelets. No, I'm not talking about those fancy ones that you buy at Claire's, I mean braids, chevron patterns, and Chinese staircase.

I came across these familiar childhood tokens while at the beach. Sitting, focused in the shade was a young girl with her plastic embroidery box full colorful thread and a clip board to hold the thread down while she worked. Why didn't I ever think of that?

In typical iGeneration fashion, she wasn't just crafting, she was practicing her entrepreneurial skills. Propped up next to her was a white board listing the different sizes and patterns, and prices associated with them. I couldn't help but shell out a dollar (ugh...inflation) for a green and pink ankle bracelet. These kids aren't just making. They're making, marketing, selling, and posting about it.

I can't help but hope to find my own box of embroidery thread buried in my parents' basement this weekend. I may even take a few tips from this young DIY-er on YouTube.