Five Easy Decorating Ideas for Kids’ Rooms

decorating-225x300Tired of the same old décor in your kids’ bedrooms? Liven things up with a little color and creativity. Here are five easy and inexpensive ways to get inspired:

1.     Play with color. Paint the walls your child’s favorite color (or colors) to add life to a room. Kids love bold colors, and letting them help with the decision allows their personalities to shine through. If you’re not thrilled with the idea of painting the whole room lime green or hot pink, go for a more neutral color for the base and use the bolder color as an accent. Go wild-try polka dots, stripes, camouflage or other artistic designs (remember you can always paint over it later if necessary). Check out an online color visualizer before you commit.

2.     Add Wall Decorations.  Adorn the walls with pictures of family and friends, posters of favorite movies or bands or removable wall decals of animals or video game graphics. Hang personalized wall art or a growth chart to add décor with special significance.

3.     Create an Art Gallery. Give your young artist a place to showcase his or her talents. Mount a large corkboard or a piece of galvanized metal as a magnet board. Use pushpins or magnets to display drawings, paintings and other creations. Paint a section of the wall with chalkboard paint so your child can create (temporary) art any time.

4.     Make a Reading Corner. Section off a small part of the room that is dedicated just to reading. Place a few kid-height bookshelves near a good light and a few comfy chairs or beanbags, and it’s story time!

5.     Get Organized. Make clean-up easy on you and your kids with built-in shelves and cabinets, underbed storage bins and hanging pockets. Find more simple and attractive organization ideas here.

Earth Day — April 22, 2010

earth-day-300x225The 40th anniversary of Earth Day is April 22, and it’s the ideal opportunity to show your love for Mother Earth. Experiment with kids’ crafts using natural or recycled materials, and get artsy (while helping the planet).

  • Make a milk carton birdfeeder for your favorite feathered friends. Wash and dry an empty milk carton, cut a large window in the front and attach a string at the top to hang from a tree. Before you fill the feeder with birdseed, add some color by decorating it with non-toxic, organic paints or nature-themed stickers.
  • Plant an egg carton garden. Take an egg carton made of recycled paper and cut off the lid. Scoop a small amount of potting soil (and compost, if you have it) into each indentation. Bury a few flower or herb seeds in the soil, add water and place on a windowsill that receives direct sunlight.
  • Create a picture-perfect natural photo frame. Go on a walk through your backyard or a woodsy area to gather fallen branches and use the sticks, twine and glue to make a beautiful, rustic frame. Trim a photo or artwork from your favorite coloring book to fit in the frame and hang in a place of honor.
  • Give used tin cans a new life by turning them into pretty storage containers. Wash, dry and remove labels and sharp edges from tin cans of different sizes. Glue scraps of wrapping paper, fabric, wallpaper or any other colorful material to the outside of the cans and accessorize with stickers, ribbons or glitter. Use them to hold art supplies, school materials or small toys.

Celebrate APRIL! It’s National Poetry Month

Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? Since 1996, poetry lovers of all ages have taken part in this month-long, national celebration of everything from haikus to sonnets. This April, get inspired and try these fun wordplay activities with your children in honor of National Poetry Month!

  • Learn more about National Poetry Month and get activity ideas and tips on how to participate. If you want an extra challenge, join in on Poet.org’s NaPoWriMo pledge. Write a poem each day for a month, publishing your work to the Poet.org discussion forum and asking friends to sponsor you for each day you play. Poets who raise the most money will win great prizes.
  • Start a personalized poetry journal. Record ideas and favorite words, and start jotting down poems as you find inspiration. Try cutting out pictures from a magazine, pasting them in your poetry journal and writing poems about what you see in the photos.
  • Can’t find the right words? Get a kick-start with Magnetic Poetry. Order a set of themed word magnets, arrange the magnets on your refrigerator and start composing poems. You can even play online with a just-for-kids virtual Magnetic Poetry kit. If you change your mind, you can always rearrange the words until you are satisfied.
  • Read poetry together. Borrow a stack of poetry books from the library and take turns reading out loud. Robert Louis Stevenson, Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky and Gwendolyn Brooks are always favorites, and the Random House Book of Poetry for Children is an excellent place to start.

Do you have a favorite poet or poem? Share your picks in the comments section.

Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten?

I recently read a great article on education.com about how to gauge whether or not your child is ready for kindergarten. With all the hype around the proper age to start school, this article addresses the basics and brings you back to reality after seeing so many “my eight-month-old baby can read” infomercials.

Read the article: 10 Kindergarten Readiness Skills Your Child Needs

Education.com also has a helpful checklist to help you track which skills your child has mastered their pre-kindergarten year.

Read the checklist: Kindergarten Readiness Indicators 

My oldest daughter started kindergarten when she was four. Even though she has been very successful in school and is now a freshman in college, I’m not sure whether I would make the same decision again.  The principal of her elementary school had an expression that I love, “Education is a journey, not a race.” I think that’s important to remember. Every child moves at a different pace. By being honest with whether they are ready for kindergarten (or not) and being positive about it can only benefit both the child and the parents in the long run.

Please share your thoughts.