Learning is Fun

5 DIY Projects to Keep Your Kids Entertained

With summer vacation just around the corner, the kids will be at home–and inevitably, you’ll hear them say “I’m bored”. You’ll need some ideas to keep them happy and entertained, even on hot or rainy days. Many kids will readily get up and go outdoors if they get to make something; below are some easy and affordable projects for kids of all ages, to be done rain or shine.

DIY Lava Lamp

Flava

For this project you’ll need:

Empty water or soda bottles
Vegetable oil
Food colouring
Alka-Seltzer

Fill the bottles a little over half-full of oil, filling the remaining space with water. Leave roughly 1″ at the top. Add ten drops of any color food coloring. Break each Alka-Seltzer tablet into four pieces, and drop them into the bottles one at a time. Wait for each piece to stop bubbling before dropping the next one in, or the solution will become cloudy.

Soda Bottle Fireflies

You’ll need:

Green soda bottles, cleaned and with labels removed
Glow sticks in various colors
Pipe cleaners (for legs and antennae)
Beads or googly eyes
Cardboard or construction paper for wings
Scissors
Glue
Black paint or marker pen
Tape

This craft is ideal for dusk and after-dark play. Transform a green soda bottle into a firefly with a simple glow stick (they’re readily available at discount and dollar stores). Simply decorate the bottles with eyes and wings (don’t forget to supervise children when cutting out the wings), pop the glowstick inside the bottle, do it up and place around the house or garden. You can save the ‘fireflies’ year after year, simply adding a fresh glow stick with each use.

DIY Sidewalk Paint

If we’d had this when we were kids, our parents would have had a VERY colorful driveway indeed! This paint is very easy and fun to make. Mix up a paste of food coloring, cornstarch and water, and use an empty egg carton or old muffin tin as a palette. That’s it!

Decorating the Doors

This easy idea can be adapted to any holiday or time of year. Wrap your door in colorful paper, being sure to cut a hole for the doorknob and/or lock. Add stickers, use poster paint or markers, or tie a ribbon around the door to make it look like a big gift that you can’t wait to ‘open’! Alternatively, cover the door in white paper and let the kids use it as a ‘whiteboard’ – make sure that the paper is thick enough to avoid staining the door and that no sharp pens, such as biros, are used to avoid any scratches.

Homemade Edible Finger Paint

This idea is great for kids of every age; with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry, you can make edible finger paint. Finger_PaintingYou’ll need:

Sugar
Flour
Food coloring
Salt
Plastic cups (or baby food jars)

Image URL: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/39/Finger_Painting.jpg

Add two tablespoons of sugar to an empty saucepan. Mix in 1/3 cup of flour and stir in two cups of water, whisking until the mixture is smooth. Turn the stove on low and stir constantly until the mixture has thickened. Divide the mixture evenly among the plastic cups or baby food jars. Add in a couple of drops of food coloring (use slightly more for darker colors). Stir until completely blended, and allow to fully cool before use.

This post was written by the team at UK Oak Doors, proud retailers of internal oak doors.

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Learning is Fun, Theme of the Week

Theme of the Week – Pirates

The Golden Age of Pirates was from 1560 to 1730 and many of the most famous pirates were based in the Caribbean.  The most notorious pirates lived around 1700 and include: Blackbeard (considered the most feared pirate), Calico Jack Rackham (who created the classic Jolly Roger flag with scull and crossbones), Henry Morgan and Bartholomew Roberts (both very successful pirates).

Fun Pirate Facts:

1. They Rarely Buried Treasure

2. Their Careers Didn’t Last Long

3. They Had Rules and Regulations

4. They Didn’t Walk the Plank

5. A Good Pirate Ship had Good Officers

6. The Pirates Didn’t Limit Themselves to the Caribbean

7. There Were Women Pirates

8. Piracy was better than the Alternatives

9. They came from all Social Classes

10. Not all Pirates were Criminals

Learn more about each of these facts at About.com.

Check out these and other books about Pirates at your local library.

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Pirate Crafts:

Pirate’s Hat

pirate_hat_10

Pirate Flag.

pirateflag2RS6k[1]

 

Paper Plate Pirate

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Paper Plate Parrot

splate-parrot

Sunset Pirate Ship

SunsetPirates4RS6k[1]

Pirate Masks

pirate-masks

Newspaper Pirate Hat

NewspaperPirateHat16RS6k[1]

Pirate’s Hook

pirate-hook-craft

Easy Catapult 

EasyCatapult13RS6k[1]

Pirate Activities:

How to Talk Like a Pirate

Sandpit Treasure Hunt

Online Pirate Quiz

Pirate Maze

Pirate Song

Pirate Poem

Pirate Snacks:

Pirate Ship Cheese and Apples

Peter-Pan-2-780x676

Treasure Map Quesadilla 

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Pirate Sandwich

piratebento[1]

Jolly Roger Sandwich

PirateLunchW[1]

Additional Lesson Plans:

Teachers.net

WorldHistory.org

YahooVoices.com

Au Pair International puts together weekly learning crafts and activities called Theme of the Week to help au pairs and host parents with ideas about educational and fun activities to do with their kids.  Want to learn more about au pairs?  Check out au pair profiles on our website.

Learning is Fun, Theme of the Week

Theme of the Week – Jellyfish

Jellyfish are beautiful marine creatures that can be found in oceans all over the world, even near Antarctica.  They can be found at the surface of the water or down deep in the sea.  They are very simple organisms that have an umbrella-shaped top and tentacles that trail below.  Jellyfish use their tentacles like a net to find food.  Their tentacles also are a great defense mechanism since they carry venom that is shot into a predator, temporarily paralyzing it and allowing the jellyfish to escape.

Did you know…

… some jellyfish are bigger than a human and others are as small as a pinhead?
… people in some countries eat jellyfish?
… that jellyfish have been on Earth for millions of years, even before dinosaurs?
… jellyfish have no brain but some kinds have eyes?
… that jellyfish are mainly made up of water and protein?
… a group of jellyfish is called a smack? (http://www.jellywatch.org/blooms/facts)

Want to learn more about jellyfish?  Check out these websites:

http://twistedsifter.com/2009/06/10-amazing-facts-about-jellyfish/

http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/animals/creaturefeature/jellyfish/

http://www.jellyfishfacts.net/

Jellyfish Activities:

Make your own jellyfish lights.

make-your-own-jellyfish-lights

Check out this amazing jellyfish in a bottle.

101106_jellyfish5

Create a fun jellyfish umbrella.

l in jellyfish

These are beautiful ribbon jellyfish.

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These jellyfish are easy for kids of any age.

jazzy-jellyfish-craft-photo-260x260-cl-a

Pretend with this no-sew jellyfish costume.

jellyfish-costume

Make glow-in-the-dark jellyfish.

jellyfish 8

Jellyfish Song and Video:

The Jellyfish Song

Jellyfish Poem:

The Lost Jellyfish

Jellyfish Snacks:

Jello Jellyfish

jello jellyfish

Hot Dogs Jellyfish

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Jellyfish Sandwiches

JELLYFISH-SANDWICH

Jellyfish Lesson Plans:

Westfield

Bright Hub Education

Suite 101

Books about Jellyfish:  Go visit your local library to find these and other books about jellyfish.

book4 book1 book2 book3

 

 

 

Theme of the Week:  Au Pair International developed the Theme of the Week to give au pairs different ideas of things to do with the kids they take care of.  If you are interested in learning more about the Au Pair Program, contact Au Pair International.

Amazing Au Pairs, Candidates, Learning is Fun

May 9th is Europe Day

What is Europe Day?

“Europe Day (9 May) celebrates peace and unity in Europe. The date marks the anniversary of the historical ‘Schuman declaration‘. At a speech in Paris in 1950, the French foreign minister, Robert Schuman, set out his idea for a new form of political cooperation in Europe, which would make war between Europe’s nations unthinkable.

His vision was to create a European institution that would pool and manage coal and steel production. A treaty creating such a body was signed just under a year later. Schuman’s proposal is considered to be the beginning of what is now the European Union.” Source Europa.eu

The original founding nations were Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany.  Now the EU has 27 members: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Teach kids more about Europe day and the European Union:

Play an online matching game with all the flags of the EU.

Learn more about the European Union with this fun quiz.

Collect Euros in the fun online game.

In honor of Europe Day we are highlighting some of our Au Pairs from the countries that make up the EU.

Andreja from Slovenia

AndrejaCrnic3After a successful first year with a family of four children, Andreja is looking forward to spending more time in the USA. She is confident driving on US roads and has a 7 year driving record in Slovenia. Before becoming an au pair, She has excellent English, is knowledgeable in First Aid, CPR, and Water Safety. She also holds a degree as a swimming instructor.

 

 

Soraya from Spain:

SorayaOrtega3Soraya is 26 years of age with 5300 childcare hours.  She has 3100 hours from caring for children under the age of 2.  Soraya gained her childcare abilities from babysitting several children over the years.  In addition, she has experience teaching dance to children after school.  Soraya is an excellent swimmer and certified in CPR and First Aid.  Check out her video.

Interested in a Spanish au pair?  See the others we have available.

 

Carolin from Germany:

CarolinHCarolin has 2000 hours of childcare experience and has been driving for a period of 3.5 years.  She gained her childcare knowledge from working in a daycare center caring for children ages 2-6. Carolin has experience with children that have minor physical and learning disabilities and is currently studying to become a nursery nurse.  She describes herself to be a responsible, warm and creative caregiver.

See our other German candidates.

 

Ieva from Latvia:

Slide 1Ieva is 23 years old with 5300 childcare hours, 1600 of which are from caring for children under the age of 2.  She gained her childcare experience from being a nanny, volunteering in daycare centers, and working as an au pair in Greece. Ieva is fluent in three languages and has excellent English.

 

 

Jessica from Italy:

Name:  Jessica Tiziani                              Age: 25Jessica is 25 years of age with 1600 hours of childcare experience from babysitting and being an au pair.  Jessica has very good English and has been driving for 5 years.  She describes herself to be a patient and responsible caregiver who is knowledgeable in First Aid.  Jessica is willing to care for children with both physical and learning disabilities.

 

Stephanie from the Netherlands:

StephanieMentink3Stephanie is a Professional Au Pair with over 8000 childcare hours, 4000 of which is from working with children under the age of 2.   Stephanie has excellent English and Swimming abilities and is knowledgeable in First Aid.  She loves to plan activities for children and get them excited to be involved!

Check out our other Dutch au pairs.

 

Lemonia from Greece:

LemoniaB1

Lemonia (Leni) gained her experience in childcare from working in a daycare center, babysitting, and caring for younger family members. She is 25 years old with very good English skills and a Master’s Degree in Biochemistry/Biotechnology.  Leni describes herself to be a patient and trustworthy multi-tasker.

Interested in Greek candidates?  Here are some others.

 

Julia from France:

JuliaFranceJulia has good English and speaks a total of 4 languages.  In addition, she is an excellent swimmer and has been driving for 2 years.  Her references describe her to be a patient and responsible caregiver that has many ideas to keep children occupied.  In addition, they say she has experience helping with homework and preparing meals for their children.

 

Rodica from Romania:

RodicaPaduraru1Rodica is 23 years of age and has been driving for a period of 5 years. Rodica has very good English and enjoys playing interactive games with the children she cares for.  She feels that the au pair program is a chance to combine two of her passions: travelling and childcare.

Check out our other Romanian candidates.

 

Jennifer from Sweden:

JenniferHiltunen1Jennifer has over 1000 hours of childcare experience from babysitting and interning in a primary school.  She describes herself to be a caring, sensitive, and creative caregiver that has a high capacity to manage stressful situations.  Jennifer is 23 years old with excellent English.

Learning is Fun, Theme of the Week

Theme of the Week – The Solar System

In honor of Star Wars day on 5/4 (“May the 4th be with you”) we have decided to feature the Solar System as our first Theme of the Week.

What is the Solar System?  The Solar System is everything that orbits the sun.  This includes planets, moons, asteroids, comets and more.  There are 8 planets and 5 dwarf planets that orbit the sun.  Before 2006 scientist classified Pluto as a planet, but it was downgraded to a dwarf planet at that time.

Want to learn more?  Visit these great sites:

http://www.kidsastronomy.com/solar_system.htm

http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/sciencefacts/space/solarsystem.html

http://www.makemegenius.com/cool_facts.php?mId=43

OR

Check out these and other great books at your local library.


National Geographic Space
The_Magic_School_Bus_Lost_in_the_Solar_System There's No Place Like SpaceThe planets in our solar system

 

 

 

Fun Solar System Activities:

Make a Solar System Online.

foil ball

Learn about the distances of different planets from the sun.

Make asteroids out of aluminum foil and toss them into a black hole.

DSCN2949Or create your own constellation with black paper.

 

plant cut outs

 

 

Teach your kids this fun song about the planets from Hooplakidz.

Color and cut out the planets.

 

paper mache planets

You can also make these great paper mache planets.

Solar_top_228

 

Finally, you can all make this healthy Solar System snack together.

 

Theme of the Week: We wanted to help our au pairs with different topics they could explore each week with their host kids.  Each Monday we will introduce a new topic and give ideas for games, activities, crafts and resources to learn more.  Let us know what topics you might be interested in.  Want to learn more about getting an au pair or being an au pair in other countries?  Visit our website.

Learning is Fun

Top 5 Fun and Educational Activities for Kids in Los Angeles

Photo by Thomas Pintaric
Photo by Thomas Pintaric

 Whether you’re a local Angeleno with kids or have recently moved into town with your family, you’ll likely be surprised at just how many fun and educational activities there are available throughout Los Angeles.

Next time you’re looking for educational family activities, be sure to consider one of these top five attractions:

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Make Meaning

Arts and crafts doesn’t have to be only enjoyed in school thanks to arts and craft centers such as Make Meaning in Sherman Oaks where kids can enjoy jewelry making, cake decorating, pottery painting – and much more. This is a fantastic place to take the kids on a weekend or after school for a couple of hours as its both fun and encourages creativity. Just bear in mind that you may need to book your session in advance as it’s an extremely popular destination.

 

LAzooThe Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

 You don’t have to go all the way down to San Diego to enjoy a day at the zoo. The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is located conveniently in Griffith Park and is small enough to be enjoyed by kids of all ages, but large enough to keep them entertained for hours. Particular highlights include the Indian rhino, the giraffes and gorilla reserve. Ideally aim to go on a weekday, as it’s tremendously busy at weekends virtually all year round.

 

Hollywood_boulevardHollywood Boulevard

Hollywood Boulevard definitely isn’t somewhere to take the kids at night, but it is a fun and even educational family destination by day. Kids can learn the rich history behind Hollywood and the film industry by looking at the stars outside Grauman’s Chinese Theater, have fun taking pictures with the various celebrity waxworks at Madame Tussaud’s and look at movie memorabilia at The Hollywood Museum.

 

Griffith_9136The Griffith Observatory

The Griffith Observatory is one of the most beloved attractions in Los Angeles, and it’s a genuine cultural icon. Here you’ll be able to enjoy stunning architecture, gorgeous views of the city and the chance to observe the stars and learn a thing or two about astronomy. Children have adored coming here since it first opened in 1935, and is an educational attraction really not to be missed out on.

 

IMAX_at_California_Science_Center

The California Science Center

The California Science Center is billed as the West Coast’s largest interactive science center and is both educational and a lot of fun for kids of all ages. And the best part? Permanent exhibitions are always free to visit! Kids will learn a bunch about science, aerospace and aircraft as they tour the various exhibitions and take in the numerous onsite aerospace and aircraft vehicles. Just make sure you bring your camera, as there’ll be plenty of great photo opportunities.

 

There’s certainly no shortage of educational attractions for families in LA, and above are some of the very best. Instead of hitting the mall this weekend, take the kids to one of the above attractions – you won’t regret it!

Where do you like to take your kids in LA?

Learning is Fun

Happy Koninginnedag – April 30th

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Beatrixscheveningen2005

Koninginnedag, also know as Queen’s Day, is celebrated in the Netherlands on April 30th.  It pays tribute to their Queen Beatrix who has been serving as Queen since April 30, 1980, when her mother abdicated the throne to her.  She is carrying on that tradition and plans to abdicate her throne to her son Willem-Alexander.  Once he is king, the Dutch will celebrate Koningsdag, or King’s day, on April 27th (which is his birthday).  Willem-Alexander will be the first male monarch since 1890.

Want to send well-wishes the Royal Couple? You can do that here.

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Photo from Holland.com

People celebrating Queen’s Day often wear orange or dye their hair orange to “represent the House of Orange-Nassau, which rules over the Netherlands.”

Celebrate Queen’s Day with these fun activities:

Learn to speak in Dutch at Digital Dialects.

Learn to play the traditional children’s game of Hul Gul.

Learn about a Kid’s Life in the Netherlands.

Make a windmill craft.

Color a map, flag or tulip at DLTK.

Want a Dutch au pair?  Check out a few of our great candidates from the Netherlands.

Stephanie M.

Maya H. 

Are you interested in being an au pair and traveling to The Netherlands? Au Pair International place au pairs all over the world, including The Netherlands.  Find out more!