Kids Can Cook: Summer Recipes Kids Can Make

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Develop healthy eating habits in your children by nurturing a love of cooking and eating healthy, flavorful foods from a young age. Summer is the perfect time to experiment in the kitchen with these kid-friendly, easy-to-prepare, delicious-to-eat recipes. You’ll be amazed by how much kids enjoy preparing their own meals (with a little adult supervision) and, of course, chowing down on the finished product! Serve these up on personalized Frecklebox placemats for tons of mealtime fun.

Ants on a Log
Cut stalks of celery into small pieces and spread with peanut butter. Artfully sprinkle with raisins (ants) and serve.

Yogurt parfaits
In a tall glass, layer plain yogurt, fresh fruit (such as strawberries, blueberries, bananas or pineapple) and granola. Drizzle with honey for an extra-sweet treat. Serve as breakfast, dessert or a snack.

Mini pizzas
Make small, individual pizzas out of English muffins, bagels or pre-prepared pizza dough. Cover with marinara sauce, shredded cheese and your favorite toppings. Some creative combinations to break out of the standard pepperoni pizza:

  • Mediterranean: chicken, feta, olives, pesto and sundried tomatoes
  • Veggie: mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, broccoli and tomatoes
  • Barbecue: chicken, cilantro, red onions and barbecue sauce
  • Hawaiian: pineapple and bacon or ham

Quesadillas
Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese, diced bell pepper and onions on a whole wheat tortilla and top with another tortilla. Melt a small dollop of butter in a frying pan and cook the quesadilla on each side until the cheese is melted and the tortillas are browned and crispy. Serve with salsa and sour cream.

Summer Salad
Mix greens in a bowl with sliced strawberries and cucumbers, cubed ham or grilled chicken and the cheese of your choice (mozzarella, feta, string cheese or cheddar are good options). Serve with a balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing.

Pastry Dough Treats
Cut store-bought pie dough or pastry dough into small squares or triangles. Place a small slice of Brie and a spoonful of blackberry jam in the center of each piece and fold the ends together to create a small pocket. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes or until pockets are golden brown.

Sweet Rice Cereal Bars
Melt three tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan over low heat, then add a bag of marshmallows and stir until melted together. Add six cups of rice puff cereal and stir until completely coated. Pour into a greased 13×9-inch pan and let cool completely. Cut into squares and devour.

Bon appétit! What are your go-to recipes for cooking with your kids?

Summer Road Trip Fun with Frecklebox

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Summer is here, and families are hitting the road on vacation. Road trips with children can be fun-filled adventures, but they can also become long, fidgety drives if you don’t have enough sources of entertainment. Prepare in advance, and make sure the whole family is happy. Keep your kids so engaged with these games and activities that they will forget to ask, “Are we there yet?”

  • Break out your Frecklebox clipboards or notebooks for some classic pen and paper games.
  • Tic-tac-toe: This game is simple enough even for small children. Start with the standard 3×3 grid and, for an added challenge, try a 4×4 or 5×5 grid.
  • MASH: See the future with this fun, silly game. Write the letters “MASH” at the top of a blank piece of paper (they stand for “mansion,” “apartment,” “shack” and “house”). Have another person give you names of four boys or girls (to determine future husband or wife), four numbers (to decide how many children), four careers, four cars, four pets, etc. Follow these instructions to eliminate choices and read your predictions.
  • Mad Libs: The “World’s Greatest Word Game” provides hours of entertainment and is a fun way to teach kids the parts of speech. Buy a summer-themed Mad Libs book or make your own version by writing a simple story and leaving out key words. Have the other people in the car fill in the blanks with nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs to create a hilarious story.
  • Printable car games: Print out these entertaining activities in advance and stash them for long road trips. Car bingo, scavenger hunts and battleship games will help pass the time.
  • Does your family get carsick easily? No worries; try these games that don’t require any reading or writing, just your imagination and observation.
  • I Spy: Take turns “spying” something outside or in the car and beginning a sentence with, “I spy with my little eye something that starts with…(a letter of the alphabet)” and having others guess. You can also vary this by using colors, shapes or sizes to describe the objects.
  • 20 questions: Think of a noun (person, place or thing) and give your carmates 20 chances to ask “yes” or “no” questions to discover its identity.
  • If you put the von Trapp family (or the Jonas Brothers) to shame, a car sing-along is the perfect way to have fun on the open road. Make your own mix CDs or playlists of songs that are fun to sing along with, or invest in Car-I-Oke or Wee Sing sing-along CDs and songbooks.
  • Sit back, relax and listen to someone read to you on long drives. Many public libraries loan out books on tape and CD, and you can purchase a wide variety of family favorites from Audible.com.

What are your road trip survival tips? Safe travels, and happy summer!

The Best Campfire Activities

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Who needs a fancy resort when you can create a fantastic vacation with nothing more than a tent, a few sleeping bags and some firewood? Family camping trips are inexpensive, easy to plan and a wonderful way to get some much-needed rest and relaxation together (away from work and school and email inboxes). Gather around the fire, toast up some deliciously gooey marshmallows and play some good old-fashioned campfire games.

If you can’t get away for a full weekend, go camping in your backyard for a night! Set up a tent, and use a fire pit or lanterns instead of a campfire. You’ll still have a blast, and it will feel miles away from home.

Sing-Alongs

Create your own karaoke party in the great outdoors. Sing songs you know well a cappella (“Puff the Magic Dragon,” “On Top of Old Smokey,” “Yellow Submarine” and “She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain” are good starters) or use a campfire songbook to help you remember lyrics. Bring a guitar, a tambourine or a battery-operated CD player for back-up music.

Finish the Story

Tell an epic fairy tale, uproarious comedy or nail-biting adventure… or all of the above! Start a story with half of an enticing sentence (for example, “Jessie woke up this morning with an astonishing super power…” or “Kevin thought his day couldn’t possibly get worse when all of a sudden…”), then pass it along to the next person to finish. Keep going and watch as the story becomes more and more outrageous.

Charades

Get in touch with your dramatic side and play charades, the game where you have to act out a word or phrase without speaking. Split into two teams and have each group write down titles for the other team to pantomime (try to keep the ideas simple or silly if you’re playing with younger children). When you draw a slip of paper, indicate to your team whether you’re acting out a movie, a book or a TV show. Then, indicate how many words are in the phrase, and get going! See more charades rules and tips on charades.

Spooky Stories

Older children will love hearing (and telling) traditional spooky stories around the campfire… Just don’t be too surprised if everyone wants to sleep close to you in the tent! Check out a copy of the compilation, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, for classic tales including “High Beams” and “The Viper.” Right before bedtime, lighten the mood by telling a few funny or silly stories.

What are your favorite activities to do around the campfire? Share your suggestions, and happy trails!

Perfectly Easy Party Favors

bubblesFor children, no birthday party would be complete without party favor bags chock-full of toys and treats. For the parents throwing the party, however, party favors aren’t always as fun. Putting together goodie bags for all the party guests can get complicated and expensive quickly, so we have come up with tips to take the stress out of the process. Creating party favor bags can be easy, enjoyable and affordable!

 

  • Keep it simple and use plain brown paper lunch bags to hold your party favors. Have the birthday boy or girl decorate each bag with markers, sponge paints, ribbons, glitter or stickers, writing the name of a guest on each bag. If the party has a theme, you can decorate the bags to match – for example, pineapples and hula dancers for a luau or spaceships and aliens for an intergalactic bash.
  • Attach a colorful personalized folder to each bag with a paper clip. Fill the folder with coloring book pages, stationery or crossword puzzles. For extra pizazz, include a sheet of personalized stickers, only $3.95 for a sheet of 12 stickers. Guests will be thrilled to take home sticky souvenirs featuring their own names.
  •  Bake a batch of delicious homemade treats-cookies, brownies and cupcakes are always crowd-pleasers- and include a few in each favor bag.
  • Make your own bubbles (using one of these great recipes) out of a few household ingredients, and pour them into small bottles from a craft store. Twist pipe cleaners into colorful bubble wands, tie each bottle with a ribbon, and voila!
  •  Buy gift cards from local stores in small dollar amounts ($5 or less) good for video rentals, frozen yogurt, or other indulgences.
  • Take a photo of each child at the party on a digital camera and print out copies on glossy paper using your home printer. Have party guests glue the photos of themselves onto pieces of cardboard and decorate to create simple, homemade frames.

Yoga for Young’uns

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There are plenty of adults who swear by yoga for its physical and mental health benefits—improved flexibility, strength, balance, focus and relaxation. It’s not too surprising to learn that yoga also provides these same advantages for children, encouraging them to increase their self-esteem, body awareness, coordination and concentration. Yoga is a great way for children to exercise their bodies and minds, and more importantly, it’s fun! Kids can use yoga to play make-believe—imagining they are stretching like a cat, slithering like a snake or swaying like a tree—and who doesn’t like a good game of make-believe?

 

Learn more about children’s yoga, and try it out with your kids. Enjoy the relaxing benefits along with them, and show them that when they stretch and stand up tall, they reach a higher point on their Frecklebox growth chart!

  • Even if you are an experienced yogi, read up before you get started teaching yoga to your children. Kids learn yoga differently than adults, and it’s a good idea to find ways to incorporate playfulness and energy into exercises to hold their attention better. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Yoga With Kids is an excellent resource (available free online ). Here’s an excerpt from the introduction:

Yoga is simply an organized system for what comes naturally to kids. It is the art of fusing body and mind for an overall sense of strength, flexibility, and well-being. Yoga moves, bends, stretches, and empowers bodies. It also moves, bends, stretches, and empowers minds… It can help kids become better athletes, better students, even better friends, siblings, and family members. Best of all, yoga can help kids to see the beauty within themselves, boosting their self-confidence, helping them feel comfortable with their bodies, and getting in touch with who they are inside. 

  • If you want a little more guidance and structure, find a class where you live or buy one of the YogaKids DVDs  or check out a preview on YouTube. They combine music, simple yoga poses, breathing exercises and imaginative activities in an infectious way that are sure to be a hit with you and your children.

Time to get moving! What do you think about trying yoga with your kids? Have you ever done it before, and if so, would you recommend it to other families?

Five Books You Loved as a Kid…That You’ll Still Love Now

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We at Frecklebox love reading (can you tell?) and think reading out loud to your children is the best present you can give them. Short picture books are fantastic, but even little kids can get stay engaged in longer books a chapter at a time.

 

It’s a great opportunity to reread all your favorite books from when you were growing up, but nothing is more disappointing than realizing a book you loved as a child hasn’t stood the test of time. We have road-tested these favorites as both kids and adults, and we can vouch for their greatness at any age. Rediscover these classic children’s books that you will appreciate along with your kids.

 

Matilda by Roald Dahl  Roald Dahl is one of the great masters of children’s literature and though we adore Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The BFGMatilda just might be his best book. Matilda Wormwood is a child prodigy with special powers, but her negligent parents and tyrannical headmistress see her as nothing more than a nuisance. Matilda uses creative and hilarious pranks to get even, and you’ll find yourself cheering her on with every new trick. 

Hatchet  by Gary Paulsen  Hatchet is every adventure-minded child’s dream come true. Brian Robeson finds himself stranded in the Canadian wilderness after the small plane he is in crashes, and he must learn to survive with only a hatchet to help him. 

Half Magic  by Edward Eager  Siblings Jane, Mark, Katharine and Martha are facing a dull, slow summer when they discover a normal-looking coin can actually grant their wishes… but only halfof each wish.  The coin takes them on fantastic adventures, from King Arthur’s Court to the Sahara Desert, and the story will keep you on the edge of your seat.  

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White  This classic novel brings a busy farm to life from the perspective of its lively talking animals. The story is built around the friendship of naïve pig Wilbur and intelligent spider Charlotte, who uses her wits to save Wilbur from slaughter. (Warning: this book may temporarily make your kids want to be vegetarians.)

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson  Pirates, adventure, buried treasure—this book has it all. Jim Hawkins, the young narrator of the story, is the son of the owners of the Admiral Benbow Inn who is unwittingly drawn into a hunt for buried treasure and an intrigue involving a fearsome one-legged pirate. The novel has some violence and suspenseful moments, so it’s best for older children. 

 

What were your favorite books growing up? Have you reread them to your children?

 

For more books your kids will love, even when they’re all grown up, check out the selection of Frecklebox personalized books