Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Favorite Posts: How to Make a Smilebox

Tis the Season for taking pictures so it's the perfect time to learn how to make a Smilebox.
Our friend Nanny Gael Ann has shared with us just how easy it is to make a Smilebox in one of my favorite Creative Nanny posts from October.

How to Make Smilebox

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Quick and Easy Crafts

If your kids aren't already out of school for Winter Break, they will be soon.
Here are some simple things you can do to pass the time.

If you missed it, here is a link to our
Hannukah Gift to you

If you have already been through all those ideas, here are a few more. Some of these ideas were contributed by nannies from Nanny Mall St. Louis

There are so many beautiful things to do with snowflakes.
If you don't know how to cut out a snowflake you can learn by going here:

How to Cut a Snowflake

Nanny Barb suggests:
Once you cut your snowflake, the children can decorate it and hang it or you can take a picture of the child and put it in the middle of the snowflake, glue it down, hang it on the tree, use it for a gift tag or just put it in the window.

Another thing you can do

You can take clear glass or plastic christmas ornaments, and put glue on it and then use glitter to make any design or you can use plastic ones that snap open and put glue on the inside with the childs name or nicknames and then use glitter to be able to see it. You could also add some of those little confetti pieces on the inside to shake around. Either the kind you buy at a party store in holiday shapes or just make your own with shiny paper. Cutting tiny pieces of shiny paper is a great way to develop fine motor skills.

Another thing you can do with your Glass ornaments: If you have access to a computer, you can print out a picture of the child on Clear transparencency. When it is dry, you can cut it out and put it inside the ornament. You do this by taking off the top of the ornament and rolling the picture gently to fit down inside. Once it is inside, it will usually just pop out but if it doesn't, just use tweezers to arrange it. (be gentle around the glass top) Replace the top of the ornament and add a ribbon.
If you have a 2 inch ornament you will need a 2 inch circle. You can use a compass or an editing program on your computer. I use Printmaster.

I have uploaded a google doc with a 2 inch, 3 inch and 3.5 inch template on it. This should be helpful.


Nanny Frances shared this with us.

Footprint reindeer.

Paint the bottom of the child's foot brown, and make a print on a piece of heavy paper. When it is dry you make a red nose on the bottom of the heel and put black eyes on either side about where the balls of the footprint are, and make 2 antlers coming from the top of the toes. You could use the childs fingerprints to make the nose and eyes and pipe cleaners for the antlers.

We hope that you enjoy these ideas and make them with the children in your life.
If you have a craft idea you would like to share, please let us know.
You can email us or post it in the comments section.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hannukah Gift to you

Saturday night at Sundown, Hannukah begins.

The children that I nanny for celebrate Hannukah and over the years I have celebrated it with them too. Hannukah is a beautiful celebration of the miracle of lights.

I went through my charges Hannukah box to find craft projects we have done over the years in celebration of Hannukah.

The Miracle of Lights is celebrated by Jews around the world but, even if you celebrate the birth of Jesus at this time of year, you can still enjoy and celebrate the "Miracle of the Lights".
I hope that you will enjoy some of the Hannukah Crafts.

Story of Hannukah

Songs and Fingerplays

Menorah Gloves


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Creative Nanny: Bath Salts & Bath Fizzies

Bath Salts & Bath Fizzies
by Buffi Gentry

Bath Salts/Body Scrub

What you need:

2 cups Epsom Salts or sugar (when I use sugar, I use organic cane sugar)

1 cup carrier oil (carrier oil is a light oil-grapeseed, lite olive oil, sunflower oil-you don't want to over power the scent with the smell of oil)

8 drops of essential oil (buy at holistic type market or order online)

glass jars (mason or recycle other food jars)

How to make:

Mix salt/sugar with carrier oil.
Add the essential oil.
You may also add a drop of food coloring, but I usually leave it white.

Put mixture into jar

Bath Fizzies
What you need:

1/2 citric acid (order from if you can't find it in stores)

1 Cup Baking Soda

3/4 Cup Cornstarch

1/4 Cup cane sugar

6 drops food coloring

10-15 drops of essential oil

Silicone ice cube tray (I found tree and heart shaped trays at Ikea for $2 last year)

Small spray bottle for water (I used bottles I found in the toiletry section of the drug store)

Stir together citric acid, baking soda, sugar, and cornstarch.
Put mixture through a flour sifter.
Fill a spray bottle with water and food coloring.
Spray mixture lightly until it becomes damp. Be careful to NOT soak because you're remove the "fizz" You should be able to pack mixture with your hands.
Next add your oil.
Mix with your hand or spoon until color is even.
Use your hands to pack the mixture into the tray.
If it starts to dry, spritz again.
Let it dry for 12 hours.
Make sure to gently pop out carefully.

Buffi Gentry is a career nanny of 20 years. She's lives in Southern California with her husband, dog, four cats, and gerbils. She currently works with three girls ages 5, 10, and 15. In her spare time she likes to research different craft, arts, and spa/bath related recipes online.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Beyond Peanut Butter and Jelly

Professional nannies contributed recipes and art projects to create the INA Cookbook called "Beyond Peanut Butter and Jelly"
Today I am going to share with you 3 different kinds of recipes to give you an idea of the variety of ideas offered in the INA cookbook.

After you read them I know you will want to enter our give away for December.
This book would make a wonderful gift for anyone who cooks.

Recipes from "Beyond Peanut Butter and Jelly"

The first is : Peking Chicken (As you can see,this would be an easy recipe for a child to help with)
You will need
6-Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
1-8oz jar of Apricot Preserves 1-8 oz jar of Russian Salad Dressing
1 Envelope of Onion Soup Mix
Arrange the chicken in a 9X13 baking dish.
Combine the apricot preserves, salad dressing and soup in a bowl and mix well.
Pour over chicken.
Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until chicken is cooked through.
6 servings

Rice Krispie Drops
1 C. Chocolate Chips
2 T. Peanut Butter
4 C. Rice Krispies
Heat the chocolate chips and peanut butter in a double boiler or saucepan until melted.
Combine the chocolate mixture with the cereal in a large bowl, stirring until the cereal is well coated.
Drop by spoonfuls on a cookie sheet. Chill covered for 30 minutes before serving. Yield:2-3 dozen

Pasta Jewelry
Stringing colored pasta on cord is great way to help a child build their fine motor skills needed for writing.

Here is how to color your own pasta:

3-4 T. Rubbing Alcohol
Food Coloring
Pasta Bowl
Uncooked macaroni in a variety of shapes
Waxed paper

Combine the alcohol with a small amount of desired food coloring in a bowl and mix until smooth. Add the pasta and mix genty to color.
Spread on waxed paper and let stand until dry.
String on cords to create necklaces and bracelets.

In addition to recipes, sprinkled throughout the book are helpful tips such as this one:
A great storage idea is old suitcases. Keep things such as Legos and drawing supplies in small suitcases. They are quick and easy to grab when you need something for entertainment in the car. Larger suitcases can be used to store dress up clothes, car collections or building blocks.

The final element that is included in this book are words of wisdom from past INA Nannies of the Year such as this one by Harriette Grant:

Recipe for a Successful Nanny Career
1 C. of Open Communication
1 C. of flexibility
1 C. of patience
1 C. of love

Mix well and use generously on a daily basis. Make sure you visit Regarding Nannies to enter the Giveaway for the Beyond Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookbook.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A gift from Creative Nanny

A few years ago I made an Advent Calendar Activity Book for my great niece.
I set it up so that she could do one activity a day but you can really use these files anyway that you choose.The files consist of simple finger plays, songs, games and activities that can be adjusted to fit each age.
For example: On the coloring pages, if you have older children you might in addition to letting them color the pages let them use cotton for Santa's beard and markers or glitter or rhinestones to decorate.

On the games, you might want to print them out on card stock and laminate them so that you can keep a file of holiday games and activities that you can use over and over again.
Simply laminating your game pieces will save a lot of wear and tear on them. I set the matching games up so that the backs can be used for both games. You can also simply print out the pieces without backs or print out the backs and use your own stickers to create a game.

When you do snowman soup, I have included the graphics so that if you would like to make snowman soup for a gift you can do that too.

On the finge rplays I have added simple graphics so that if you want to print out an extra page and cut out the graphics, you can turn it into a counting game too. It adds one more dimension to the fun.

On the make a snowman, it is fun to print this out on a magnetic sheet and then you can play with it on the refrigerator all winter long.

There is really no right or wrong way to do this as long as you enjoy them. These are simply my suggestions of what worked best for me.

I would suggest you download all the pages, print them out and read through them.
You don’t need a lot of extra things to do the activities but you probably want to look through the pages and figure out what you need so you can be sure you have everything in one place.

I took a 3 ring notebook, printed out each page and slipped it inside a photo protector sheet. That way it was easy for me to see what we had and it protected pages from getting torn up. If I needed extra supplies, I just tucked it into the sleeve of the page.

I divided mine up into Songs, Games, Art projects and Finger plays.
You could also divide it up by Themes. Reindeer, Snowman, Gingerbread Man, Santa.

I have also included some Hanukkah pages and some religious themes, so you can choose whether or not you want to download those.
With or without them, you will have enough to keep you busy.
There is nothing like sharing the joy of Christmas with children!

Merry Christmas

The Creative Nanny

The majority of art used in these projects is from
They have wonderful graphics and ideas and I highly encourage you to check them out.
You won't be sorry.

Here are the projects: You should be able to click on the links and go directly to the page where you can print your projects.

Christmas Fun!

Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer
Song and Fingerplay

Reindeer Hokey Pokey
Song and Dance

Color the Gingerbread Man

Color Santa

Snowman Soup

Snowman Soup for someone else

Tic Tac Toe Board

Tic Tac Toe Pieces

Gingerbread Man Fingerplay

Gingerbread Man Song and Dance

Five Little Christmas Trees

Eight Little Reindeer

Five Little Snowmen

If you are a Christian and you celebrate the birth of Christ, here are some simple activities related to the Nativity.

Mary and Joseph Paper Dolls

Color Baby Jesus

Angels we have heard on high

Away in a Manger

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Perfect Pumpkin Centerpiece

Looking for a wonderful fall project to do with your charge(s)?

Nanny Gael Ann has shared with us this great idea for a beautiful centerpiece that is fun and easy. It will look beautiful with your Thanksgiving decor and your kids can say "I did it myself" (Thanks Gael Ann!) Below are some finished centerpieces.

Just gather a few simple supplies and make this easy fall centerpiece.
What you need:
One pumpkin (ours was about 30 inches in diameter)
Golf tees approx. 20-25 (fall colored ones are nice but natural colored work well too)
Silk flowers and/or fall decoration(s) attached to a stick (We used a purchased scarecrow already on a stick but you could use any festive decoration attached to a thin wooden skewer. This year we are going to use craft foam sheets to make pilgrim and native American figures for a Thanksgiving centerpiece. The flower stems do not need to be very long so I just bought an inexpensive silk bouquet and used wire cutters to cut the individual flowers and leaves off with only 3-4 inch stems.)
Kid size hammer (a toy wooden one worked just as well as the child size metal one in photo)
Step 1: Simply get your charge(s) to hammer the golf tees into the pumpkin in a random pattern all around the top 1/3 to 1/2 of the pumpkin. Even a young charge will have no trouble doing this especially if you poke the golf tee in just a bit to help it stand up for the fun hammering part.
Step 2: Now have your charge(s) remove some of the golf tees and insert a flower stem or decoration into each hole. The remainder of the golf tee are left in.
Step 3: Adjust the height of the golf tees, flowers and other decorations for a pleasing effect.
I hope you give this very fun simple project a try! Ours lasted on the kitchen table for 4 weeks.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Turkey Puppet

Turkey Puppet by Glenda Propst (Regarding Nannies Team)

This is a turkey puppet I made with my now almost 11 year old when she was 4. Back then she went to Pre School 2 days a week but Monday was always craft day for us and even now when we get together we love to be Creative.

This puppet is perfect to take an on airplane or in the car or just about anywhere and we enjoyed using it with lots of Thanksgiving finger plays and songs.

I bought cheap stretch gloves for $1 ( You can find these at most discount stores or Dollar Stores.) I made a simple feather pattern with card stock and then I just cut two sets of feathers out of felt and fringed the edges a little. I made the feathers just a little taller than the fingers on the gloves.
My gloves came with little cardboard inserts and I just covered them with aluminum foil and slid them back inside so that the fingers didn't get glued together. Aluminum foil is easy because it can be smashed but don't forget that it might get hot so use caution if you are using a glue gun around children.
Then we glued the feathers on. You might even be able to find felt that already has the sticky backing on it so all you have to do is stick them on but I used a hot glue gun. I am sure you could also use any kind of fabric glue. I used clothespin clips to hold the feathers in place until they were dry and then we flipped it over and did the same thing on the other side.
Don't forget a beak and a gobbler.
Then we drew on details and I let her use the glitter paint to decorate.

We finished with googly eyes. There is nothing like googly eyes to bring a project to life and put a smile on the face of a child.

Here is a finger play and a song to get you started. A google search for "Turkey Fingerplays" will give you lots more!"

I have a turkey, big and fat.(Make a fist with one hand-thumb Out for turkey's head)
He spreads his tail and walks like that.(Attach "tail" by spreading Out fingers of other hand and join together)
His daily corn he would not miss.(Poke with thumb at floor)
And when he talks, it sounds like this: Gobble Gobble Gobble

Here is my favorite Turkey song that I remember from my childhood:
A turkey sat on a barnyard fence and he sang this sad sad tune.
Thanksgiving day is coming gobble gobble gobble. I'm afraid I will be eaten soon.
Oh gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble gobble gobble. I would like to run away.
Gobble, gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble, I don't like Thanksgiving day!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thanksgiving Blessings Mix

I do this each year for Thanksgiving. I like to vary who I give them to. Sometimes it’s my friends, sometimes it’s my neighbors and if I do Thanksgiving in my home I give them to my guests. It often seems that Thanksgiving gets skipped because it comes after Halloween and before Hanukkah and Christmas, but I think it’s important to remember why we have Thanksgiving and this is a great reminder. (Plus it taste’s good!)
Children can easily help you with this by measuring and pouring and gently mixing the ingredients and putting them into the bags.

Thanksgiving Blessing Mix
2 cups Bugles brand corn snacks
2 cups small pretzels
1 cup candy corn
1 cup dried fruit bits or raisins
1 cup peanuts or sunflower seeds
1 cup M&Ms-brand chocolate candy
16 Hershey's-brand chocolate kisses

(You can also use Trail mix for the dried fruit, and nuts. Sam’s Club carries a large bag of Mountain Mix that even includes M&Ms which works really well. Try to buy your Candy Corn after Halloween and you might even get your Hershey’s kisses and M&Ms half price the day after Halloween if you plan ahead for this.)

In a large bowl, gently mix all ingredients except Hershey's Kisses.

Place 1/3 to 1/2 cup Thanksgiving Blessing Mix in small cellophane treat bags.
I like to use the clear ones with gold stars. Add one Hershey's Kiss to each bag.
Close bag with twist tie or ribbon.

You can go to this site where they have pre printed cards

Or if you email me at Regardingnannies(at)gmail(dot)com I will send you a pdf file of the design I have at the top of the page.
I print mine on Card Stock but you can also print it on regular paper.
Cut the cards apart, punch a hole in the corner, and tie them onto your bag with your ribbon.

Thanksgiving Blessing Mix

Bugles: Shaped like a cornucopia or Horn of Plenty, a symbol of our nation's abundance.

Pretzels: Arms folded in prayer, a freedom sought by those who founded our country.

Candy corn: Sacrifices of the Pilgrims' first winter. Food was so scarce that settlers survived on
just a few kernels of corn a day.

Nuts or seeds: Promise of a future harvest, one we will reap only if seeds are planted and tended with diligence.

Dried fruits: Harvest gifts of our bountiful land.

M&Ms: Memories of those who came before us to guide us to a blessed future.

Hershey's Kiss: The love of family and friends that sweetens our lives.
You can easily make these a couple weeks ahead of time as long as your bags are sealed.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pumpkin Songs, Fingerplays and Books

Here are some songs, fingerplays and books about Pumpkins from the crafty and creative Kari Ewest. Kari will be featured here starting in January with her Alphabet Express.

The Five Little Pumpkins is one of my all time favorites.

Five little Pumpkins/ One hand up
Sitting on a gate
The first one said Point to thumb
My, it's getting late."
The second one said, Pointer Finger
There are witches in the air."
The third one said/ Middle Finger
"But we don't care."
The fourth one said, /Ring finger
"We'll run and run and run."
The fifth one said/Pinky
"Isn’t Halloween fun!"
"Whoooo" went the wind
And out went the light pause/………and then big clap
And five little pumpkins rolled out of sight! /Roll arms

I'm a Little Pumpkin Sung to: "I'm a Little Teapot"
I'm a little pumpkin Round and stout
Packed full of seeds that you can scoop out
When I get all carved upThen I'll be
The cutest Jack-o-Lantern you ever did see.
Three Little Pumpkins Sung to: "Ten Little Indians"
One little, 2 little, 3 little pumpkins
Rolled down the lane like funny bumpkins
Had their faces carved & thought they were something's
Funny Halloween jack-o-lanterns!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Witches Fingers and More!

Today I am going to share with you a few fun projects that I found different places online.
I found this one at
Their magazine is published locally here in St. Louis, MO but you can also order it.
If you go to their website you can also sign up for their newsletter and get a great entertaining idea every week.
"Witches' Fingers" are without a doubt the hottest dessert this Halloween. You can find the recipes in almost any book or magazine. The drawback is that they all require quite a few ingredients, not to mention kneading and mixing. Not ours! We found a fun and simple way to create a similar dessert, but with a twist!
1 package of peanut butter refrigerated cookie dough (nothing with chips or chunks in it)
1/4 cup of peanuts
Chocolate syrup or chocolate icing
Cut the cookie dough just as you would to make round cookies, then cut the cookie circle in half. Form a long cylinder with your fingers or roll the dough between the palm of your hands to form something that looks like a fat snake or worm (great task for kids!). Arrange the cookies on a cookie sheet and if you wish, create indentations where the knuckles are. Bake according to package directions.
The cookies will flatten as they bake, turning out looking as if something ran over them on the road. Once the cookies are ready and have cooled, make the gnarly fingernail by taking half a peanut and adhering it to the tip of the cookie with chocolate syrup or chocolate icing. That's it, you're done
The next quick idea is Baby Boos.
A fun, easy cookie that kids of all ages will love.
Melt white chocolate in a double boiler.
When chocolate is melted, dip Nutter Butter cookies in the chocolate.
Lay them on a cookie sheet and decorate with sprinkles, chocolate chips for eyes or whatever
creative idea you and your kids come up with.

Most houses are busy on Halloween night.
Everyone is rushing to get home, get dinner and get the kids out for Trick or Treat.
If you don't do this for Halloween, be sure to do it one night during the Fall Season so you
can enjoy Dinner in a Pumpkin

This recipe is from a wonderful nanny in Boston named Anne Marie:

Here is a great recipe that you have to make it is so yummy.
I found it in a book called the Abc's of Halloween.
You will need
1 Large Pumpkin
2 stalks of celery (cut up)
2 Large carrots (cut up)
3TBS of Butter
chicken breast cut up into small pieces
1/2 cup scallions
1/3 cup sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can of ABC soup
1 cup hot water
What to do
Hollow out the pumpkin and put aside. Saute chicken with scallions, carrots,
celery in 3 TBS of Butter. Add all the soups and 1 cup of water. add the
sour cream. heat to a boiling point. Place the Pumpkin on a cookie sheet
with foil and add all the mixture into the Pumpkin. Put the hat back on and
bake in the oven at 350 for 90 minutes.
Scrape sides of pumpkin when serving.

So yummy.
Here are some variations:
Lo calorie way (use all reduced fat soups and sour cream.)
Vegetarian way (add cream of mushroom soup and add tofu chicken.)
without the pumpkin
add all the ingredients and cook on the stove until thick. place in the
oven at 350 for 20 minutes.
watch for an extra Creative Nanny post from Kari Ewest tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Parent Gifts for any Season

Parent Gifts for any season by MaryAnn X. Meddish
(2009 INA Nanny of the Year)

Once again it is that time of year where we all start scratching out heads trying to figure out what to get our employers. I have been asked for ideas so many times over the years that I started keeping a list of ideas, it keeps changing so here are some tried~n~true and some new ideas for you to refer to all through the year as anniversaries, birthdays, Mother’s and Father’s days, Grandparent’s day, and next years holidays start to gang up on you.Craft gifts you can make with your charges:These ideas can also be used to make gifts for extended family members and the household staff (i.e. an apron for the cook, flowerpots for the gardener, a scrapbook for the Au-pair). Remember that the expense of craft supplies is usually covered by the employers or you can ask for a Christmas allowance for the children to make gifts.

Handprint Art:

I have made T-shirts, sweatshirts, and wall hangings with my charges handprints and footprints and cute things written on them like “We can handle Daddy”. A wreath wall hanging is easy with a large piece of felt and a couple shades of green and red fabric paint (have the oldest child use their hands to make a widely spaced wreath of green hand prints then have the next child start filling in the wreath a bit with their prints and so on until each child gets a turn. Have the children place red fingerprints for holly berries in the wreath.) Always date these shirts and label the handprints as they will probably be saved even if they are not worn. I have done plaster-of-Paris handprints and then carved the child's name and the date. After drying you can paint the handprint to make it stand out. For a more modern twist of hand prints pick up canvas board, paints, and a frame at the craft store and have the children do a hand and foot prints with class – one of my favorites was a splatter painting background with footprints. One year for Christmas I painted acrylic paints on the children’s hands and had them pick up glass globe ornaments (paper Mache ornaments would work too) then I then held by the hangers while they let go so they would not smudge – I hung then to dry on the tree and then hid them away before the parents came home.

Children’s Art:

An easy gift for grandparents, parents who travel, or doctors on call is pillowcases. Buy a box of fabric markers and let the kids decorate ~ you can go to Kinko's and add iron on photos if you want. You can even trim the open end with ribbons. Other items you can paint and decorate include hats, aprons, tote bags, placemats, and throw pillows.Take the kids to the local ceramics painting place and let them pick out an item to decorate - remember these items have to dry and be fired which can take a week or more.Garden memory stones have always been a hit. The kits contain everything you need to make either gray or terracotta colored pavers. The kits have ideas along with supplies like small stones and shells for decorating. Have each child make one to ring the birdbath or line the path to the garden.Picture frames are fun, you can also pick up frames at the Dollar store or go to a framing and matting store and have then cut you some small matting frames for the fridge or ask for their scraps and cut & glue the strips together to make your own frames. Place self adhesive magnets on the back of the frames. Give the kids a variety of things to glue on the front (sequins, pompoms, coins, foreign stamps, puzzle pieces spray painted different colors, candy, woodsies pieces, etc.)

Decoupage flower pots and give the gift of flowers.

Make a scrapbook with pictures, drawings, stickers, and all that other fun scrapbook stuff. Title it “A Year in Review 2009” or “Our Family” and work on it with the kids during the year.

You can make your own holiday wrap for the kids to wrap presents by making fingerprint trees on white paper with green and brown paint and adding gold stick on stars.

You can also lay some paper in the yard and letting the kids splatter paint with watered down red and green paint.

Gift Certificates:Give a gift certificate for their favorite restaurant, favorite clothing store, local gourmet shop, favorite bath shop, a manicure or pedicure at a day spa, a bookstore, a video store, iTunes, or a catalog they order from frequently.

Gifts Baskets:Gift baskets are not to difficult if you work with a theme. Pick up a basket at goodwill or the craft store then add a little tissue paper, your theme items, and ribbons.

Bath - pick a few items like bath oil, bath crystals, body gel, body splash, lotion, a scrubby, a bath pillow, and a nice candle.Tea Lover / Chocolate lover - check out the grocery store and a specialty shop and fill the basket with divine little goodies. A special tea cup and saucer or a big cocoa mug will finish this off perfectly.

Sports Buff - get some great munchies and a six pack of their favorite beverage, then add a hat, T-shirt, or tickets to their favorite team.

Golfer - line a basket or small cooler then sprinkle with their favorite brand of golf balls, some tees, and something else that catches your eye at the golf shop.

Gardener - gardening gloves, trowel, decoupage pots, and seeds with a small plant thrown in for color.

Dinner – placemats, napkins, candles, wine, gourmet pasta & sauce, grated cheese, bread, and a dessert item (Marshall’s & TJMaxx are great for this stuff).

Baked Yummies - Make some of your favorite cookies, breads, and candies, then add in a couple packets of hot chocolate mix and a few candy canes. I can promise you that ridged potato chips dipped in chocolate and drizzled with red & green color candy coating (or blue & white for Chanukah) is always a hit despite how it sounds.

Gifts under $50 give or take:Buy a set of picture frames or collage frames and designate one for each parent and then fill them with pictures that you think mom and/or dad might like. Include a card in each saying I thought this would brighten up your desk.

Digital photo key chains for each parent uploaded with great kid photos. You can also buy a digital photo frame – they come in a variety of styles and sizes and you might be able to fit a whole year of photos on the memory card.

Order a photo calendar from Vistaprint, Snapfish, Kodak Gallery, or Kinko’s – you can even enter special dates to be printed in the calendar including holidays, birthdays, the school calendar, kids activities, and special events.

You can design a photo book on Snapfish, Kodak Gallery or Shutterfly– you get to pick the colors and prints for the backgrounds, you can choose soft cover or hardbound, you can type in anything you want printed and pick how many photos per page. With one family I was leaving we did photos of the kids cooking their favorite foods with the recipes.

Monogrammed or personalized stationery can be created at a number of places such as American Stationery, Vistaprint, and many other websites. There are also websites for other personalized items and stores such as Thing’s Remembered .

Go to a wine shop and ask for help choosing a wine that would go with a meal that your family enjoys.Pay attention to those little comments like ‘I wish I had a nice pair of gloves’ and ‘Someday all the glasses in my kitchen will match’ you could make your bosses day.

Portraits are always a nice gift at Christmas as long as your employers don't have the same idea. To add a little flair have the kids photographed in black and white and have the prints hand colored or have sculpture portraits (the finished products are mounted on Plexiglas and cut out and mounted so they stand).

Make a donation to a charity of your choice in their name and ask the charity to send a letter telling them the donation was made.

Start a charm bracelet for your boss or if the bracelet is to expensive ask dad to buy the bracelet and have each child and yourself provide a charm.

Gifts of time

Put overtime coupons in there stockings or cards ~ make an envelope of coupons such as "Get out of the 'I was late doghouse' free" or "Go out without kids" or "Mommy gets time for a haircut" or "Nanny does the dishes" I try to think of things they say they don't have time for and then make the coupons funny and decorate them (as they are redeemed collect them in a new envelope so you will be ready for next year).

Give your employers free 24-hour care overnight for their anniversary ~ I just make a coupon and stick it in their anniversary card (be sure to note when it can be used such as within 60 days of your anniversary if you don’t want then to pull it out on New Year’s).
Well, that is a starter list that I hope helps you not only during the holidays, but all year round!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wednesdays Creative Nanny: Scrapcoloring

Scrapcoloring is not only a site for coloring pages, but you can also create names that you can decorate and print. Another really fun feature of this site is that you can color them online with a variety of colors, patterns and two toned gradients.
Whether you are a professional nanny, mom, teacher or grandparent, this site is just fun, and useful for lots of things. is an innovative concept dreamed and developed by Elsa (kindergarden / elementary school teacher) and Stephane (software engineer).In their quest to find coloring pages for their 3 children, they discovered that there was not a lot of room for creativity offered in online coloring sites.
Their goal was to reinvent online coloring, allowing kids to color not only with basic flat colors, but also with fabrics, papers, textures, patterns and gradients. They wanted to allow them to also create and test new patterns very easily, to choose their colors and size. The ScrapColoring concept was born!

Scrapcoloring provides more freedom to the young artists, and enables them to sharpen their coloring skills, as they have to carefully draw between the lines in order to obtain a beautiful result. With ScrapColoring, online coloring becomes creative, artistic, and very fun! Stephane and Elsa hope that your kids will like our site.
Stephane and Elsa ask you to
Please leave feedback, share ideas and suggestions and also share the colored pictures made by our young visitors. If amongst our readers there are some people who like to draw, we could try to transform your images to our online coloring pages.
Don’t forget to tell your friends, share this blog post on facebook and twitter and link it to your blogs and websites. With winter upon us, we will all be looking for creative entertainment for kids of all ages, scrapcoloring is the perfect way to enhance creativity and learn about color and shapes at the same time.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Creative Wednesday: Fun with Contact Paper!

A Great Craft Project For Every Holiday
By Alice Shaffer

This is a fun craft for children ages 2 and up, and you can make it to fit any holiday. For Halloween you can make spooky bats & cats, and colorful pumpkins. For Christmas you can make trees or stars; for Thanksgiving a turkey or pilgrim. You can also make animals or any other object.

This example shows how to create a Fall tree.

Things you’ll need:
- Clear contact paper (1 - 2 rolls)
- Scissors
- Colored tissue paper (choose color that fits holiday)
- Hole punch
- String / yarn
- Construction paper
- Your and your charges’ imaginations


1 .Trace a shape of a tree with branches onto a piece of construction paper and cut it out
2. With two pieces of contact paper laying ontop of each other, cut out a "tree top leaves" shape.
3. Tear little squares or pieces green, red, yellow, orange etc., tissue paper. The kids can do whatever they like they can ball them up into little balls, or just make little square shapes etc. There is no right or wrong with tearing :)
4. Peel off one of the tree tops from the contact paper
5. Place your construction paper tree with branches on the sticky part of the "tree top leaves" shape.
6. Place the little pieces of colored tissue paper on it to create “leaves.” Use your imagination.

5. Peel off the second "tree top leaves"shape from the contact paper and place it on top of the other tree.

6. Punch a hold in the top of the tree top. String the yarn through the hole.

Hang tree in your favorite window to create your own “stained glass” Fall Leaves tree.
Please send us your photos of your creative projects! You can email them to us at regardingnannies (at) gmail (dot) com

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Creative nanny Wednesday: Apple Season

Apple Fingerplays, Songs, Books and a Snack

Eat an apple; (Bring right hand to mouth) Save the core. (Close right hand in fist) Plant the seeds. (Bend down touch hand to ground) And grow some more. (Extend both arms out) Here's a great Raffi song about Apples and Bananas. If you don't know the tune, you can listen to it or buy it here

I love to eat Apples and Bananas
I love to eat, eat, eat apples and bananas
I love to eat, eat, eatapples and bananas
I love to ate, ate, ateapples and bananas (say with the long A sound)
I love to ate, ate, ate apples and bananas
I love to eat, eat, eat epples and benenes (say with long E sound) I love to eat, eat, eat epples and benenes
I love to ite, ite, ite ipples and bininis I love to ite, ite, ite ipples and bininis (Long I sound)
I love to oat, oat, oatopples and bononos (Long O sound)
Repeat I love to ute, ute, ute upples and bununus (Long U sound)

Repeat I love to eat, eat, eat apples and bananas.

You can find lots of great books about apples here and don't forget the one by Dr. Suess: 10 Apples Up on Top

Don't forget to do this fun snack for all ages.
Take an apple and cut it into wedges. Give each child 2 wedges. Spread peanut butter (if your child is not allergic, if your child is allergic you could substitute almond butter or sunflower butter) between the wedges. Then take mini marshmallows and add teeth to your smiling mouth.
Feel free to share your favorite apple activity here.
If you would like to feature your craft ideas here on Creative Nanny Wednesday, email us at regardingnannies(at)gmail(dot)com

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Coloring Pages 24

Today we are sharing with you a website created by Jimmy Hoog from Sweden.At the site visitors can print and color more than 2000 images for free. Mr. Hoog developed this site because he wanted easy and clean, printable coloring pages with no advertising.

It is very easy to find pictures to color on the site.

All of the pictures are suitable for children.

Jimmy Hoog is a web developer and he designed his coloring pages site to be user friendly for parents, children, nannies and preschool educators.
A computer, a printer and crayons is all you need. If you would like to save the image on your own computer, just click the "green plus" icon at the top right corner of each image. The icon will now turn red. Go to "My Images" written in blue at top of the site. Your saved images will show up there :)
Mr. Hoog is also working on developing another function where children can upload their colored images and have them presented on the website.
If you go to:
You can use the images to learn some new words. It’s also a great way to teach the alphabet, create a matching game or even make your own flashcards.

Theme based images: can be used during Halloween, Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, birthdays etc.

My favorite feature on the site is that you can change the size of the image just by clicking on the user friendly resizing tool.

With more than 2000 images you are likely to find lots of things you can use on this website. The website is also updated with new images frequently. This is one you will want to bookmark to use over and over again.
Check it out:

Jimmy Höög is a 30 year old web developer from Sweden. is his latest project.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Painting to Music for Elementary & Middle School Aged Children

Painting to Music for Elementary & Middle School Aged Children by Cindy Wilkinson

There are some really cool ways of integrating painting with music for children in elementary and middle school. (These activities may also work for pre-school aged children who have had previous experience with painting projects, although you may want to simplify it some.) Since most kids this age have already mastered many of the basics of working with different types of paints, brushes, etc., you can really get down and get creative!! Here are a few of my favorite activities.

Jackson Pollack was an American painter who experiemented with liquid paints and various objects to apply the paint including brushes, sticks, and even basting syringes. His style was called the "drip and splash" technique. Doesn't this description just call out to young children to join in and explore their creativity?

Integrating this approach of painting with music has endless possibilities. Since most schools or average households don't have access to an actual canvas, you can use large sheets of butcher block paper or an old solid colored sheet. Put out some paints (thin tempera is what I use); then some objects such as cups to drip the paint from, brushes, sticks, etc. The fun part starts when you choose what music you will play to get children into the mood for their painting extravaganza. This might be a good time to get out some of your "oldies but goodies" and rock out while the kids are painting! Or you might use this as a time to introduce your painter to opera. Be creative and think of music which may inspire your young artist.

A great variation of this activity is to have the children paint the bottoms of their feet. (Again, I usually use tempera paint.) Then put on some music with a fast beat and let the children dance around on butcher block paper or a sheet. The results are totally awesome! You will have a work of art which you will treasure forever. This also works well as a group activity. Let several children work together on a footprint dance painting, or if you are an especially fearless teacher, your whole class can do it together. Arts education organizations stress the importance of collaboration as a key fundamental of their curriculum. This is a great way to accomplish many goals: experimenting with color, fostering creativity, moving to the beat of the music in a new way, and working together with other budding artists to create a masterpiece.

My final activity is a bit different, but can be very meaningful to the young painter. Put on a recorded song with lyrics which tell a story; folk songs work really well. Some examples would be "Puff the Magic Dragon", "Sweet Betsy from Pike", and "Cockles and Mussels"... There are too many to mention them all, but you get the point; now think of some songs you know or like that would work for this activity. Set up each child with an easel with paper and paints. First, play the song and have the child listen to the story within the song. Then play it again as the child paints and watch as their impression of the song emerges in the painting. Be careful not to coach the child, just let the artist use his imagination and create what is meaningful to him.

Whether you use the activities which I have listed above or you are inspired to create some new activities of your own, painting to music is an experience your child will never forget!

Cindy Wilkinson is a music teacher in the Denver area. She has recorded several children's CDs: Jumpin' Up to the Moon, Jumpin' On Down the Road, and Jumpin' Into Dreamland (soon to be released). In addition to her work in the music field, She has also been a professional nanny for 30 yrs. In 1998, She was honored as the International Nanny Association's Nanny of the Year!
To order her CDs you can go to

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wednesday Creative Nanny Fall Leaf Rubbings

Fall Leaf Rubbings

To do this you will need:


Go on a short nature walk and collect some leaves in a variety of sizes and shapes.

Then set out leaves, paper and crayons and let your child choose a leaf.

Place the leaf under a sheet of paper and rub it with a crayon. (Sometimes it works better if the paper wrapper is off the crayon and you can use the side of the paper.If the child can’t rub and hold the paper still, you could put the paper on a clipboard, use paperclips to hold the paper together or just hold the paper for them.)

Rub the paper with the crayon and let the magic begin.

The impression of the leaf will appear on the page.

If you want to take this one step further you can offer scissors and let the child cut the leaves out and hang them on a string in the window.

Don’t forget to do some for yourself. It will bring back wonderful memories of your childhood.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

How to Make a Smilebox!

Smilebox Basic is free and I used it satisfactorily for over a year before my employers upgraded me to the Smilebox Club. It is only $5.99/month or $39.99/year and gives you access to unlimited premium Smilebox designs, lets you choose from additional music selections or download music from your own collection. You can try Smilebox Club free for a 14 day trial and cancel anytime. Smilebox Club members can also send their creations without ads (full screen), print keepsakes and burn DVD's to be played on regular TV. You can also buy the cards individually for about $2.99.
A new feature, just added this month, allows you to view Smileboxes on a digital frame using a memory stick. What a super gift idea for the upcoming holiday season! Handy suggestion: Smilebox has a design called Simply Calendar that would be the perfect format for cute photos taken throughout the year. The other day, after returning from having dinner out, I asked my preschool charge if he liked the new restaurant we had tried. He replied, "Yes, can I see the Smilebox?" Check out and get ready to send some smiles! Here is an example of one of the Smileboxes that Nanny Gael Ann created.

Click to play this Smilebox invite: Thankyou firestation
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