Our Family Vacation to Kos Island, Greece!

On our second night in Israel my husband asked me if I would like to go to Greece for a week-of course I jumped at the opportunity! The last minute deals from Israel are inexpensive-and very family friendly.

Tigkaki Beach

We stayed at Peredise Family Resort near Kos Town.  This resort is great for families with little kids. We had a suite with a small pool.  There is a large resort style pool on the other side of the property along with a baby room, indoor playroom, playground, kiddie pool, and spa.  We had a free breakfast and dinner buffet included with our room -and the food was fabulous!  We looked forward to each meal-every night had a different theme, and lots of vegetarian options. 

We mostly beach hopped: Tigkaki our first day, Paradise Beach the second day, and a small private beach in Kefalos our last day.  Paradise Beach was our favorite-gorgeous sand and perfect water-hardly any rocks.  There was a restaurant and bar next to the beach that we ordered ice cream and coffee from.  The kids enjoyed swimming, building sand castles, and paddle boarding with their dad.

Back in Kos Town we walked around the pier, Kos Castle, and took a tour on a mini train.  The kids adored every second on the mini train and I recommend it for the first day of the trip as it gives you an overview of the town.  We enjoyed coffee and milk shakes in the town center and shipped for souvenirs in the market.  

What I enjoyed most about the trip was our bonding time with our kids.  Watching the kids get some much needed time with their dad who works long hours as a business owner providing for our family was so special.  I love traveling-the magic of it-the closeness it creates in families.  

Tips on Traveling with Jet Lagged Toddlers

This post is completely about what’s happening in my life right now.  We travelled by plane, train, and automobile to Israel this week in a trip that took 20 hours total.  That’s enough to throw off an adults internal clock-so for sure it’s enough to throw off a toddler’s internal clock.

Honestly, last year our trip was easier when it came to jetlagged. I was traveling with a nine month old baby who still slept quite a bit during the day, and my two-year-old was a terrific sleeper.  The good news is that two-year-old is now still a great sleeper at three years old. However that nine-month-old who used to sleep all the time, he is not doing so great this time around.  Leading up to our trip there were often times he would wake up for a couple hours at home in the middle of the night, wanting something to eat and drink. Now, it’s been five nights in Israel and he is still waking up for five hours at night!  So how do we cope?

1. Take turns napping with your partner.  Right now my husband is taking a much needed power nap, and my 20 month old is taking a mini nap.  He’s exhausted but I want him to sleep through the night so I will wake him up for dinner.  Then he and his father can hang out together until they get tired later on.  I can rest until they need me to help with bedtime later on.

2. Consider children’s melatonin for toddlers and kids.  My friend recently moved with her daughter to the other side of the world and recommended the Zarbee’s brand.  I didn’t bring melatonin with me, and I doubt they have it for children in the pharmacy here (which is something to consider when you travel to other countries-medicines are different). I have second guessed my decision not to purchase some for our trip.

3. Try to keep the first few days easy on your trip so you can get ample sleep.  We travel for a month at a time so it makes it easier for us to take our time to transition. Nap during the day as needed.

4.  Set up your child for sleep success.  Cut day napping shorter, bring favorite blankets and lovies, and play light music when it’s sleepy time.

5.  Allow a couple of days to adjust back after your trip.  Yes we had jet lag both ways on our trip last year.  It took 3 days to catch up.

Remember that no matter what the age traveling opens our eyes and senses to the world. Your child will be so lucky to see and experience the world with you, and you will treasure these memories for a lifetime! Don’t let fear of flying with your child or jet lag keep you from making memories.

Four Fall Sensory Bags 

It’s definitely not fall here!  It’s been over 100° F for the last few weeks! Frankly, we don’t really get much of a fall in Las Vegas. My kids sure don’t experience the fall that I had growing up in Buffalo, New York!

As a child I remember picking apples, raking colorful leaves from the ground and jumping into the pile, and drinking homemade apple cider!  In Las Vegas we try to have fall by going to a pumpkin patch and farms.  With the excessive heat it makes it difficult to really enjoy the day. So I came up with these four easy sensory bags with the theme of fall in mind to allow my boys to experience fall with all of their senses. The best part is they do not require any special supplies, most likely these are items you have laying around the house!

For sight we had the colors of fall through out all of my bags. We had the sound of fall through my tissue paper leaf bag, it sounds like leaves crunching when you squish it in your hand! With every sensory bag project there’s always the sense of touch being included with different textures the children will feel from our squishier to our crunchier bags. Smell could and taste from the walnut sensory bag that we ate the contents of as we made it!

Shaving Cream Sensory Bag

For this bag I focused on the color red, however you can try a different color such as gold or orange to focus on. I filled the bag halfway with shaving cream then added red food coloring.   I squished the bag around to mix the food coloring and shaving cream together until it was evenly mixed. Then I added red glitter. This bag felt like a stress ball. My oldest child loves squishing it. He would not stop squishing it in fact this was his favorite!

Tissue Paper Fall Leaves Bag

For this bag I used half a bottle of orange hair gel that I got at the Dollar Tree. Then I added in brown, green, yellow, orange, and red tissue paper squares. You can also pick these up at the Dollar Tree. They are a huge time saver! Then I added gold glitter and strings of brown yarn. The brown yarn stuck together creating sort a viney-tree trunk effect. Once I closed up the bag and squished it and made the crunchy sound that leaves make in the fall as you walk across your yard.

Cotton Ball Bag

For this bag I again chose red as the main color. I think if I was going to do this project again I would do an orange or gold bag for the shaving cream and keep this one as my red bag. Red is so synonymous with fall. For this bag I added a full bottle of clear hair gel and I filled up the bag halfway with cotton balls. Then I added in some red Pom Poms and strands of red yarn.  Lastly,  a few drops of red food coloring to swirl as the children played with it.

Walnut and Burlap Bag 

This bag is made of used pieces of burlap that I cut into basic shapes like triangles and rectangles. Then I added in walnut halves from my pantry.  The main ingredient is steel cut oats. They look almost like sand. I gave it a nice grainy texture. With this one the children could see different shades of the same color: brown. My oldest son could tell me the different names of the shapes. My youngest son could feel the different textures from the more flimsy burlap to the very hard, curvy walnut halves.

My three-year-old and I put all of these and three bags together in about an hour one afternoon while my 20 month old slept. Both boys had a great time playing with them. In fact they’re still playing with them! One thing I like to do is use clear tape on the top of all of my sensory bags to make sure they stay shut. Another idea is taping them to a sliding glass door or a big window so the kids can look inside of them better and see all the different variations of colors.
I hope you and your children have as much fun as we did with this project. It’s a great project for kids three years old and younger.  Older kids can even make it for their younger siblings!

Fall Process Art Projects for Toddlers

There has been a recent debate in art education about whether we should be focusing on process or product. Process art refers to simply the student focusing on the process of making art rather than the product. Art that is focused on product would result in well-made, well crafted projects that result in a beautiful “product”. 

The three projects we are sharing with you today are process art projects. My boys while making them were not given any guidelines, just materials and free expression.  These three process art projects were crafted with the theme of autumn in mind.

The first project is a yarn wrapped apple. I’m starting to think about teaching Ben how to tie a knot. Just becoming comfortable manipulating yarn or string will be an excellent start I think. So for this project I had him simply weave and wrap the cardboard apple with red yarn.  

In preparation for this project I simply cut out an apple shaped from cardboard. Then I cut slits all around the edge of the apple about a quarter of an inch apart and about a third of an inch long.  To start I taped one end of the yarn onto the back of the apple and began weaving and wrapping the apple while showing Ben how to find the slits and slide the yarn through.  He definitely had some trouble with this. He’s not used to manipulating string or tying. However, he did stay with it for a good 15 minutes working on it and we were able to work on it together to finish the project.

Our second project is a shofar. This project is for the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. The shofar is an instrument made from a ram’s horn that is blown ceremoniously to welcome the new year. It was used by the ancient Israelites to call attention in the villages.  In Judaism it is considered a good deed or a mitzvah to hear the shofar be blown in the beginning of the Jewish year.  To make the shofars I simply drew and cut out the shapes from white card stock. Then I had the boys decorate with markers, stickers, and Dobber markers.

When the boys were done I stapled the sides of the shofar together and I popped a piece of toilet paper tube inside with some glue around the outside of the edge so it would dry inside and create that puffed out, 3-D look to our shofar.

Then the boys took the time to pretend to blow their shofars. They had a lot of fun making this project and watching it come together. While this project does have a definite product at the end, the children are focused on the process rather than the product. 

The last project is a collage using tissue paper squares I purchased from the Dollar Tree.  In fact, all of these projects could be made with items from the Dollar Tree.  They have an extensive amount of arts and craft supplies for kids. Most of the items in our art cabinet or from the Dollar Tree.  As we live in Las Vegas we don’t get the fall foliage here. I’m from upstate New York originally and the colors changing were such a part of fall and my childhood.  I spent many falls raking the leaves up and jumping in the pile.  So to give that a fact the tissue paper has a crunchy sound that it makes if you squish it up in your hands. I actually use this concept to create a sensory bag for my boys that I’ll be sure next week in my post. The boys used glue sticks and the tissue paper squares in fall leaf colors to create a collage.  This is a true process our activity. I was hands off. I just showed them how to rob the glue on the paper and press the tissue paper squares down in it. They took it from there.

The boys had a lot of fun making these projects.  They are very proud of their shofars and continue to play with them a week later. I love making handmade toys like that with them.  I hope you’ll try some of these simple, process art projects this season with your toddler! Please share and Pin for future reference.