Monday, June 29, 2009

Easy Patriotic Kids’ Crafts

Patriotic crafts was the subject this morning on WUSA9 News Now. Liz McConville of FAMILY Magazine demonstrated a couple fo great ideas if you want to stay away from live fireworks this year.

When people think of Independence Day they usually think of fireworks. cookouts and parades. But you can get your children involved in the day’s festivities without the safety issues of live fireworks.

Here are two easy patriotic kids’ crafts that the whole family can enjoy.

Star-Spangled Wavers
The first craft is to make star-spangled wavers. Just in case you don’t know what these are they are essentially batons with streamers. All you need are five items: scissors, tacky glue, a 3/8 inch dowel, and red, white and blue felt and ribbons.

First cut a pair of six-inch stars from the felt. Then make two smaller stars, each slightly smaller than the other, to place on top of your bigger star. Make sure to use different colors for each star. Place the dowel between the two larger stars and glue the stars around the dowel. Then you can glue the smaller stars on top of the bigger one. Make sure to let the glue dry and then you can tie the ribbon around the dowel. Now you have a fun star-spangled waver.

4th of July Shaker
The second craft is to make your own 4th of July shaker. All you need is an empty toilet paper tube, tissue paper, uncooked beans, scissors, glue, and two aluminum-baking cups to cap off the end. Another optional item you could use would be glitter to make it pretty.

First glue an aluminum-baking cup to one end of the toilet paper tube. Pour a handful of beans into the tube. Then glue your other aluminum baking cut to the other end of the tube. Then you can decorate your tube with the tissue paper and glitter. Now shake away.

Here area a cou;le more of crafts from Denise Morrison Yearian, a regular contributor to our magazine.

Items needed: Terracotta planter; red, white and blue non-toxic acrylic paint; paintbrushes; ruler; pencil; white star stickers; potting soil; plant; small American flag.

Paint the top rim of the planter blue and the lower portion white. Let it dry. Give both colors a second coat of paint then let it dry again. On the lower, white portion, use a pencil and ruler to draw vertical lines that are evenly spaced apart. Paint a red stripe between every other line so it looks like an American flag. On the upper, blue rim attach small, white star stickers over the blue paint. Fill the planter with potting soil, add a plant and push a small American flag into the soil.

Items needed: Star stencil (several inches in diameter); paper lunch bags; red, white and blue tissue paper; glue stick; star stickers; sand; tea lights.

Use the star stencil to trace and cut out stars on red, white and blue tissue paper. Glue the stars to the inside sides of an open paper bag using a glue stick. Add small star-shaped stickers to the inside too, if desired. Fill the bag with two inches of sand. Repeat these steps to make additional luminaries. Place luminaries outdoors where you can keep an eye on them. Press a tea light into the sand at the center of each bag. As the sun sets, light the luminaries and watch the stars glimmer and glow.

You can read several more craft ideas from Denise inside the July issue of Washington FAMILY Magazine. To find a location where you can pick up a copy, go to and click on the “Where to Find” words at the bottom of the page.

Happy Holiday!


Monday, June 22, 2009

Kids flying solo

This morning I discussed children traveling alone with Peggy Fox on WUSA9 News Now. If you are planning to put your child on an airplane for a trip alone, you may have cringed when you heard the news a few days ago. Two young unaccompanied girls, traveling separately, were placed on the wrong Continental Airlines flights.
For many families this is a summer ritual, children flying alone to see grandparents in faraway cities, going to a favorite camp or perhaps spending time with another parent.
How safe is this and how can we plan so that we make it easier on our children? Here are some of the tips Peggy and I talked about.

How old should a child be before you allow them to travel alone?
Millions of children fly alone each year, the majority without incident. Most airlines will not allow a child under 5 to travel alone. Children ages 5-14 who travel without a parent or guardian are known as “unaccompanied minors.”
Whether or not your child is mature enough to travel alone is really dependent on the child and not their age.

What type of guidelines do the airlines have?
Many airlines will not allow children who are under 7 to make connections at all, but in the event a minor is old enough to change planes, airline personnel will probably escort them and a fee of $70 to $100 will be charged. Some airlines will not allow any minor to take a flight with a connection.
We have links to specific airline guidelines inside the group for Washington FAMILY Magazine.

Is this really a safe way to send your child on a trip?
I know we have heard some really bad press on this over the last week, however I know of many children who have traveled across the country with good experiences. In my own family we sent our youngest off to a camp in the Florida Keys for several years. We were allowed to go through security and walk her onto the plane. At the other end, the camp had personnel there to greet her as she left the plane. She called me immediately and we never had any problems.

You have some tips for Smooth Travel for Unaccompanied Minors

Buy Nonstop Tickets
Try to buy nonstop tickets for your child. This will make the trip much easier for them and for you. Also, try to get morning flights. This will give you more time if you have a problem with canceled or delayed flights.

Tell the Airlines
Talk to the airlines in advance to become familiar with their policies. Make sure they know your child will be traveling unaccompanied.

Verify You Can Go to the Gate
Verify in advance that you can go with your child to board the plane or come close to boarding the plane. You can make sure they are on the right flight. Stay at the gate until the plane takes off. This way you know they did get on their way and the flight is not delayed for some unknown problem that is discovered after they are boarded.

Prepare for the Unexpected
Make sure your child has plenty of emergency information, as well as phone numbers and names of people they can contact in case they are unable to reach you. Give them resources such as a credit card in case the worse happens and they need to spend the night somewhere.

Get Information on the Person Picking UP on the Other End
Make sure you have all the information you will need about the person picking up on the other end. Some airlines require driver’s license numbers for the receiving person when you check your child in at the originating airport. Another good tip is to give your child a picture of the person who is picking them up along with their information written on the back. This will help the airlines agent on the other end as well as the child.

Get There Early
Arrive at the airport early so there is no rush or need to hurry for your child. This will assure that you get the arrangement all set up and that your child will not be stressed when they go on to the plane. They will be apprehensive so you want to make sure they don’t get upset by being rushed.

Here are links to information and guidelines for letting your child travel alone. We would love to hear any other tips parents might have. Send them to me at

Kids Fly Alone from Department of Transportation (download the booklet)

Airline Guidelines





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US Airways

Article online from

Bus & Train Guidelines



Monday, June 15, 2009

Slip in Summer Learning

School is out and you and your kids are ready for a break from academics. But should you really give your kids the whole summer off from learning?

Today Amy Bevins, Assistant Editor for Washington FAMILY Magazine, was on the Moms Like Me segment on WUSA9 talking about toys and games that Slip in Summer Learning.

Why is it so important for kids to keep learning over the summer?

Amy offers the following thoughts and suggestions:

Research shows that over the summer, kids typically lose 2.6 months of grade equivalency in math and often a month or more in other subject areas.

Summer is a great time to give your kids, and yourself, a break from traditional academics, but you can still reinforce skills in fun ways. A lot of it is how your present it. Make it fun and your kids won’t feel pressured to learn.

Here are a few toys and games that slip learning into a fun package for at home or on the road.

Fractiles are one of Amy’s favorites, because they are so versatile and portable. Fractiles are magnetic pattern blocks whose angles are based on the number 7. You can follow the patterns on the package or website or create your own designs.

Fractiles are wonderful for teaching about symmetry, geometry, spatial relations and pattern matching, which is critical for reading success. Fractiles come in several sizes, from a small travel version all of the way up to ones for the fridge. And, you might even find yourself vying with the kids for a turn with Fractiles. (

When keeping a journal about travels, memories or observations, kids practice handwriting, recall, sequencing and so much more. Notebooks by Eeboo are perfect for collecting summer memories. The Summer Days journal has places for memories of camp, the beach, books read or hanging out in the backyard. The Travel Notebook has places for itineraries, packing lists, mementos and, like all of the notebooks, comes with fold over stationary to send letters along the way. The Nature Notebook has space for your budding naturalist to write observations and draw pictures and comes with glassine envelopes for field specimens. So you can even sneak in a little science and handwriting. Tricky! (

The Brain Game from Discovery Toys is a fast-paced trivia game for the whole family and has categories like geography, history, sports/games and even a no-brainer category. Because it is a game the whole family can play and has this fun electronic brain, kids won’t realize they are learning while they are playing. (

What about those pesky math facts? For things like multiplication facts, there really is no way around drill and practice. But is doesn’t have to be boring. Amy’s daughter actually asked to play with Math Whiz and was thrilled when she beat her time on a math challenge. Math Whiz has 8 challenge levels for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division for basic facts up to pre-Algebraic concepts. It is great for at home or on the road and can be played individually or head-to–head and even converts into a calculator. (

Slipping in summer learning can be fun and can really pay off in the long run.

For more articles and resources for families visit the Washington FAMILY Magazine web site.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Father's Day Crafts

This morning on WUSA 9 News Now, Annette Cooper, managing editor of FAMILY Magazine and Peggy Fox discussed gifts for Father’s Day.
Before we getting started on these great Father’s Day ideas I want to let everyone know that we will be hosting our next Moms Do Lunch event, sponsored by, Wash FM and FAMILY Magazine on June 11 in Sterling at the Loudoun Gymnastics Center. We will have a light lunch so moms and kids can come, network. We will have a short discussion about choosing a preschool. You can get more information inside the Moms Do Lunch Group on
With Father’s Day right around the corner children (or moms) everywhere are asking the same question, “What should I get dad?” Special tables are even set up in store entrances geared towards Father’s Day presents. But the perfect Father’s Day gift may not need to be purchased in the store. Sometimes the best gift you can give your dad is something that you make yourself.

I know how hard it can be to find the perfect gift for your dad. I struggle with this every year. Annette told Peggy that when she asked her dad what some of his favorite Father’s Day presents have been it was the ones she made herself. I love to give handmade gifts because they mean more to me and the person I am giving them to. So Annette had a few craft ideas that any child could make for their dad.

Here is what Annette had to say:

Make a card –
This is one of the easiest long lasting gifts you can make for your dad. I like to take an activity that my dad and I enjoy doing together and use it to make my Father’s Day card. One of the things my dad and I like to do is watch baseball or go to baseball games. One of the memories I have from growing up is going to a St. Louis Cardinals game with my family. I’ll never forget the experience. So to honor this memory and many others like it I have designed a card with a baseball theme.

Make a coupon book –
Another fun idea is to make your dad a coupon book. I’ve gone to a local craft store and found a wooden clipboard but you can use anything including just cutting up paper and punching a hole in it and tying it with a ribbon. Then I cut up some cardstock in different colors and wrote a few coupons to my dad, which he can “cash in” whenever he wants. The nice thing about this idea is that you can decorate the wooden clipboard to personalize it and also write some nice things about your dad. This is something he can keep forever. If you didn’t want to do coupons you could write the top ten reasons you love your dad. There are really endless possibilities.

Dou you have a favorite craft for your dad? Is there a gift you have given him in the past that he loved or appreciated? Let us know. We will share them with other moms.

Have a great Monday!