Tag Archives: family fun magazine

First Day of School_featured

5 Ways to Ease First-Day-of-School Fears

Easing First Day of School FearsBlogger and kindergartner mom Shannon McRae shares simple tips for taking the stress out of the start of a new school year, especially for first-timers or younger students.

My oldest starts kindergarten this year, so the first day of school has been marked on our calendar for months. Sometimes I’m not sure who’s more nervous—the kindergartner or his mama! Whether jittery about riding the school bus, making new friends, or even (and I remember this one) wondering if you’ve chosen the right “first day” outfit, the start of school can be stressful for kids.

Family Fun magazine had some great tips for helping ease those first-day-of-school fears. Find their ideas (and some of ours) below—and then go enjoy the last days of freedom:

1. Carry a Keepsake. This idea was sweet and seems like it’d work for any age. One reader mom found a heart-shaped rock on the playground, took it home and painted it. She gave it to her daughter on the first day of school to keep in her pocket as a reminder that her mom loved her no matter where she was. The little girl carried the rock in her pocket for the first few days. But after she felt more comfortable at school, she moved the rock from her pocket to her backpack. If sending a rock makes you nervous, a simple note or sticker would work the same.

2. Write to the Teacher. My 5-year-old is a little shy and takes a while to open up to people he doesn’t know. That’s why I loved this tip about helping your child write a note to his or her new teacher. The mom who submitted the idea said that in her little boy’s letter, he tells his new teacher things he likes to do and his favorite parts about school. “This makes him feel that he’s broken the ice, and it helps his teacher get to know my sweet, slow-to-warm-up boy a little faster,” writes Marilee Duggan Haynes.

3. Ease Bus Worries. The protective mom in me feels nervous thinking about my child riding home on a bus. Karen Freeman in West Chester, Ohio, came up with a creative way to help her daughter remember her stop on the way home. She cut out a traced hand and wrote her daughter’s school on the thumb. She numbered the fingers, reminding her to get off at the 4th stop. I also like the idea of making sure your child knows someone else on the bus so that it doesn’t seem so unfamiliar.

4. Read a Book. When my little boy started preschool, his teacher sent a copy of the book The Kissing Hand before the first day of school. The story follows Chester Raccoon as he prepares to leave his mom for the first day of school. His mom tells him about a family secret called the Kissing Hand so that he’ll know she’s always with him when he’s scared or alone. For my kids, stories are a great way to talk about things that make them nervous.

5. Start a Countdown Calendar. For younger kids who don’t have a strong concept about time yet, a countdown calendar can help them feel more informed about the approaching Big Day. Simple construction paper chains or tear-off calendars are a good visual to prepare kids for the exciting school year ahead.

Family Fun magazine March 2012

3 Creative Hometown Outings for Your Family

Family Fun magazine March 2012You don’t have to plan a trip to Disney World to have fun together as a family. Open up the world to your kids by exploring fun, low-cost adventures close to home.

We went spelunking a few Saturdays ago. There’s a state park with caverns about a 30-minute drive from our house, so we packed a picnic and headed down to check it out. I have to admit–my husband was more game than I was. I was a little worried about bats and claustrophobia. And I really wanted to work on the weeds that are overtaking our backyard. But he insisted the kids would love it, and he was totally right. It was one of the most fun Saturdays we’ve had as a family in a while–and it was practically free.

For me, it’s easy to fall into thinking that there’s nothing to do in my small hometown. But an article in the March 2012 issue of Family Fun magazine (and my trip to the caves) has me thinking otherwise. You don’t have to plan a trip to Disney World to have fun together as a family. As the article suggests, tons of low-cost adventures can be had close to home.

Here are a few ideas from the magazine’s readers for your next outing:

Take a Behind-the-Scenes Tour: There’s a world of information just behind the scenes of places you visit on a regular basis. One reader has taught her kids the motto “ask politely and you shall receive.” That truth has earned them trips back to the kitchen at their local bagel shop to see how the process works. At the grocery store, the produce manager showed them the fruit storage area when her 7-year-old asked about clementines. One idea in the magazine my kids would love: Visit your local dump for a special tour. It’s also a great way to teach about the need for conservation and recycling.

Become Local Experts: When I visit a new city, I seek out guides written by locals. After all, they know the best spots, right? Become that kind of expert for your hometown. One Family Fun reader in Illinois put together a guide of 50 parks with her kids. After each visit, they documented the highs and lows in a notebook. Then they would refer to their experiences when planning new trips to parks. Experts don’t have to be so organized. I loved one reader’s idea of finding “secret spots” with your kids–the special rock shaped like a bench behind the library or the booth in the back of the coffee shop where it’s fun to act silly. By naming these places together, you create fun memories for your kids.

Make Exploration a Game: Everyone loves a good challenge, so turn typical outings into a game for your family. One family featured in the magazine “visited China” by stopping at their local Chinese gardens, cooking Chinese food that night at home and doing a Chinese-inspired craft. For younger kids, I like the idea of posting an alphabet chart that you fill with photos associated with each letter–you and your child at the ice cream parlor for “I” or at a car show for “C.”

In the end, there are tons of adventures to be had, and while you might have to reach deep into your imagination, you won’t have to reach that far into your pockets.

Martha Stewart Living magazine February 2012

5 Magazines That Will Inspire You to Create

Martha Stewart Living magazine February 2012With so many crafting magazines of so many titles, blogger Dana McCranie offers her take on the five that draw her to her crafting table — every time.

There are few magazines I can’t enjoy for one reason or another. Each has its niche and, even within the world of craft magazines, each serves a different type of artists. I’ve found I have a few that I consistently go back to. The reason these titles are my go-to publications is because of their ability to provide quick, useful inspiration to get me to the crafting table. I love many magazines just for the sheer pleasure of witnessing the artistic process, but this list is dedicated to the publications that move me to create — every time.

1. Somerset Studio magazine – Although I’m not a mixed media artist, the content in this publication is always of such high caliber that I can’t help but try to duplicate some of what I see. The magazine features a consistent aesthetic that inspires a confidence within the reader. The result is that every time a reader picks up the magazine, a high level of artistry is expected.

2. Cloth Paper Scissors magazine – I love this publication for its whimsy. Every issue features artwork that transports the reader to another world. Each little vignette is like a lesson is storytelling through creativity that provides a unique level of inspiration.

3. Family Fun magazine – From the first time I picked up Family Fun, I was hooked. I was initially drawn to the magazine because I was looking for fun activities to share with my young children. It didn’t take long to realize this magazine offers just as many great ideas and content for adults. The best thing about the projects in Family Fun is that they’re almost always easy and inexpensive to recreate.

4. Creating Keepsakes magazine – As a card maker and avid stamper, I like to see artists putting stamps to paper and samples of cards. While Creating Keepsakes focuses primarily on scrapbooking, I’ve always been so impressed by their approach and how many useful resources they offer. Their sketches can be adapted to cards and many other projects, and I always find myself pulling out my card making supplies after reading this one.

5. Martha Stewart Living magazine – Martha will always be my first love. Martha Stewart Living is the first magazine where I remember counting down the days until the new issue was in my hot little hands. I have the fondest memories of every project I’ve ever attempted from the pages of this beautiful publication. Even when the project looked nothing like what was on the page, I still had fun with it. Martha Stewart Living was my sole resource for crafting inspiration and instruction for years, and for that reason this magazine will always have a special place in my heart.

Family Fun magazine February 2012 cover

How to Get Your Kids to Enjoy Cleaning Up

Family Fun magazine February 2012

Family Fun magazine Feb. 2012

Turn the chore of cleaning into a fun game with three great tips from Family Fun magazine.

It usually starts bothering me around dinnertime. The mess of toys that my children have slowly strewn about our house throughout the day reaches its peak in the evening. If you walked into my otherwise fairly neat house at the end of the day, you’d likely find a partially constructed tent in the dining room, an abandoned Lego tower in the den and every matchbox car we own lined up carefully down the hallway. I know I should get my preschoolers to put away one toy before getting out the next, but their games often involve a little bit of everything all at once.

On many evenings, I have them clean up on the way to their baths. But I have to admit that on some days I’m so eager for them to get to bed that I’d rather put away wooden blocks in peace myself after they’re asleep. Still, I know I need to do a better job of involving them in the cleanup, and an article in the February 2012 issue of Family Fun magazine gave me some great ideas. I love that each tip is from a real mom who’s tried it on her own kids.

Here are a few that we will be trying at our house:

  1. Shine Your Light. Heidi Lee of Coronado, Calif., plays flashlight tag with her kids to get them to pick up their rooms quickly. She turns out all the lights and shines a flashlight on a particular item that needs to be put away. Her kids love racing around the room to grab what’s been tagged. “My 6-year-old has even cleaned up his sister’s things, just so that he could play the game,” she says.
  2. Start the Clock. This one works better with kids who understand the concept of time. Cristin Frank of Williamsville, N.Y., assigns each child  few tasks and then asks them to guess how long it will take them to do the job well. She sets different timers and they race to see who can finish their jobs closest to their estimated times. “While the kids are working, they’re focused on the clock, not on the fact that they’re doing chores,” she says. My preschoolers don’t understand time yet, but they thrive on competition. I might try setting different timers and seeing who finishes first, emphasizing doing the job well. I have visions of every dollhouse piece being shoved into the oven of the toy kitchen just to be done “first.”
  3. Make it a Mystery. Heather Tomasello of Land O’Lakes, Fla., has created a brilliant game called “cleaning fortunes and cookies.” She writes different tasks on slips of paper, such as “put away toys” or “clean windows.” Then her kids each choose a slip at random and complete the tasks they’re given. Some slips say “Mystery! Ask mom.” For those jobs, Tomasello requires something funny like dusting while walking backwards. “The word ‘mystery’ makes these slips the most popular,” she says. If you reuse the slips each time (only including tasks that need to be done that day) you can quickly implement the game when it’s needed. The cookie part comes in the end: “After all the cleaning fortunes are done, we enjoy a cookie together,” says this creative mom.