Celebrate Groundhog’s Day with the Kids

Punxsutawney Phil

Here in Chicago we are going to celebrate Groundhog Day with 12 -20 inches of snow. Yippee! (Note to self: Get gas for the snowblower today!) I don’t foresee any Groundhogs popping out in the blizzard to look for a shadow. However, since we might be trapped indoors, I went on the hunt for some Groundhog day fun for the kids.

Cook Up Some Fun

Pure Fun

    Groundhog Day Shadow Fun
    Since the day is all about seeing a shadow, why not play shadow puppets? Set up a white sheet a few feet away from a wall. Place a lamp behind the sheet near the wall. Have your kids take turns going behind the sheet and casting shadow puppets. Here’s a post I found on making a Shadow Puppet Theater that looks super fun.

    Here are some Groundhog Day Activities to do with the kids from the official Punxatawney Phil website. I’m all over the Groundhog ornaments to print out and hang from a chandelier or indoor tree but the Word Searches and coloring pages are cute, too.

    Groundhog Day movie
    If your kids are a little older, watch the Groundhog Day movie. My kids think it is hilarious. “Don’t drive angry!”

What do you do to celebrate Groundhog Day with your kids?

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Yummy Groundhog Day Pancakes

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Tags: Cooking with the Kids · Family Celebrations · Family Fun Ideas · Family Movie Night · Holiday Fun · Ideas for family projects

Thanksgiving Family Fun Ideas


Looking for some fun ideas to do with the family around Thanksgiving? Here are a few of my favorites as well as some great ideas from other Mom bloggers.

Get Active! Our town hosts a Turkey Trot 1 Mile and 5K race every Thanksgiving morning. While we usually travel out of town to visit family on Thanksgiving so we have never been in town to participate, several of our neighbors run as a family every year. It’s a great way to burn the calories before you pack in the carbs!

cooking with the kids

Bake Up Memories. We have a family tradition on Thanksgiving Day. After we gorge ourselves and the boys go watch football or take a nap on the couch, the women folk go back in the kitchen and make our favorite Holiday cookies. Each person brings their favorite recipe and we bake, bake, bake. (It keeps us awake and standing so we’re burning the Turkey dinner calories, right?)

When we started this tradition it was fun to see what Grandma’s favorite cookie recipe was when she was a kid. Now that she is gone, we still make those cookies to remember her by. The other benefits of this tradition are that everyone goes home with a plate of assorted cookies. Freeze them and pull them out for your Holiday parties. If that’s not a stress-bustin’ tip, I don’t know what is.

Here’s a post I wish I had written! Check out the great A to Z Thanksgiving Family Fun Ideas from Cindy Bultema at the SheSparkles Blog.

Marie at MakeandTakes.com offers some fun ideas for Turkey Bowling and Turkey Bingo.

TheMotherHuddle.com also had some very cute ideas for Thanksgiving family activities. I love the Ornament Exchange idea!

What fun activities does your family do on or around Thanksgiving?

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Tags: Cooking with the Kids · Fall Season Family Fun Activities · Fun with Grandma & Grandpa · Holiday Fun · Holiday Traditions · Ideas for family projects

Fun Halloween Cupcakes for Kids

jack skellington cupcake

This past weekend for our Halloween fun activity, we decorated cupcakes. I had seen so many incredibly cool cupcake designs on other sites that I wanted to see if we could recreate them. The goal was to make them for the kids’ school Halloween parties this Friday, but guess what? They’re gone already.

There are a million cupcake recipes out there to make the cupcakes from scratch (go ahead, Google Cupcake recipes and prepare to be overwhelmed) but we made life a little easier and just chocolate cupcakes from a mix. We were in the mood to decorate, not bake. So, how did we do?

jack skellington cupcakes

Jack Skellington Cupcakes
I love the movie Nightmare Before Christmas so when I saw these Jack Skellington cupcakes on the Disney Family.com site, I started to drool. I thought it was easy to do and the instructions were very helpful however, my daughter got mad because she couldn’t get the face to come out right. You need fairly good icing control. Her cupcakes looked like a cool ghoul, but not exactly like Jack.

owl cupcakes

Spooky Owl Cupcakes
Owls are the “it” animal this year! So, my daughter, who was a big fan of Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole wanted to make these cupcakes. You can find slightly different versions of these owl cupcakes on a variety of different sites (as I said, owls are hot) but we chose this photo at TheCupcakeBlog.com as inspiration.

We used, chocolate frosting, Oreos, white frosting and M&Ms. These cupcakes were super easy and my kids could put them together like pros. We frosted the cupcake. Split open Oreo cookies for the eyes and “ears.” Once the Oreos are split, take the piece without the white center and break them into “ear” shapes. Then put M&Ms on for eyeballs and an M&M turned sideways for the beak.

The only two issues we had were that the Oreos were hard to break open. I remember as a kid you could just twist them apart so I don’t know what’s in these cookies now but the centers are like super glue. These needed to be pried open with a knife or they would break in pieces. Also, when we did get them to break open cleanly, the white center part had black crumbs all over it from the other side of the cookie. It didn’t look like a nice, clean, white eyeball. So we used white frosting on the inside of the cookies which actually made it easier for the M&M eyeballs to stick. All in all, a great recipe for the kids.

spider web cupcakes

Spider Web Cupcakes
Our inspiration for these easy spider web cupcakes came from Bakerella.com. We did it in reverse with white frosting on the cupcake and a black web. We also used M&Ms for the spider since we had them out anyway.

kids making cupcakes

Finally, we just got out our collection of sprinkles, almond slivers, and other toppings to create our own ideas. Creating bats, cats, tarantulas, and werewolves was a pretty fun afternoon with the family.

Have you made any cool Halloween cupcakes that you’d like to share? Send me a link to your photos and I’ll post them on the blog.

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Tags: Cooking with the Kids · Fall Season Family Fun Activities · Halloween Family Fun Ideas · Ideas for family projects · Kids Birthday Party Ideas

Day #17 30 Day Summer Fun Challenge: Learn Something New

Happy Monday! It’s Day #17 of our 30 Day Summer Fun Challenge and our idea today is to learn something new as a family.

Is there anything you’ve always wanted to learn how to do? Speak Spanish, play guitar, play golf, tennis, take better photos, dance the tango, or cook a perfect souffle? Why not get the whole family involved and take a group lesson or start a new family hobby? (I suggested we all learn how to balance the checkbook but they “booed” my idea.)

Families that play together, stay together. Learning a new skill, hobby or sport is a fun way to spend time together and expand your mind. You’ll all be starting at the same level – newbie – and it will be interesting to see who in the family really takes to the lessons.

Find a class
Contact your local park district or community college to see the continuning education courses that they offer. If some of the classes look interesting for the whole family, sign everyone up. Look online for some local language classes or check your local health clubs, park district or YMCA for swimming, tennis, golf or even scuba diving lessons. Since you will have 3 or more “students” in the class, it might be worthwhile to find an instructor and see if you could arrange for private lessons in your home.

Now, show off your new skills
Once you’ve discovered your new skill and if everyone likes it, plan your next family vacation so you can apply this new knowledge or start a new family tradition.

  • Take Spanish lessons then vacation in Mexico or Spain
  • Take Cajun cooking lessons and then plan a trip to New Orleans
  • Take golf lessons and then swing away in California
  • Learn to scuba dive and head to the Caribbean
  • Take some wildlife photography lessons and then head to Yellowstone National Park

If no one really takes to the new skill, there’s always next summer to try something else. My husband loves to golf and my kids have been taking lessons for the past two summers. I always swore I would never golf (after having waitressed in a snobby golf club in high school and swearing I would “NEVER” be like those people) however, I’m rethinking taking lessons because it would be a fun thing to do as a family or with another family. (If I’m no good, I could always lay on top of the golf cart and just get a tan. That’s quality time together, right?)

Extra Practice
Ask around and see if another family you know loves the same skill or hobby. Invite them over to practice together. The more the merrier.

If you are going to tackle learning Spanish, we have some fun products to help practice with kids.

Spanish Bingo Game
Spanish Bingo

Spanish Ring Flash Cards
Spanish Flash Cards

Or if you are going to take cooking lessons, get the kids excited about the lessons with their own apron and cooking utensils, like our best selling Playful Chef Kids Cooking Kit.

playful chef

Is your family taking lessons to learn something new? If not, what do you think would interest them?

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Tags: Cooking with the Kids · Family Fun Ideas · Holiday Traditions · Ideas for family projects · Summer Family Activities · Traveling with the Family

Day #2 30 Day Summer Fun Challenge: Summer Hit List

Chocolate Cake Club Family Fun Calendar

Chocolate Cake Club Family Fun Calendar

Welcome to Day #2 of our 30 Day Summer Fun Challenge, where we’re giving you 30 days of simple, creative & most importantly memorable ideas to make this the most fun summer ever for your family.

Have you ever wondered where the summer has gone? Been disappointed that you didn’t get to the Zoo, or get tickets to a popular kids concert, or get the bikes out enough to justify the space they take up in the garage? Well, last summer we started a Family Summer Hit List and it made planning and scheduling our family fun a whole lot easier. We were tired of “missing” some of the fun things we wanted to do every summer because we didn’t act fast enough, so we decided to take charge and make it a family project.

Pick a night and when you sit down for dinner, go around the table and ask everyone in the family what they would like to do for fun that summer. Have someone write down all of the ideas. Then vote on the Top 10 ideas that your family is going to do together. (If this gets too heated or causes hurt feelings amongst younger siblings, put all of the ideas into a hat and pull the first 10. While someone might still be miffed that their idea didn’t make it, at least it’s fair!)

Now, grab the family calendar and plan which days you’ll schedule each activity. If any work needs to be done ahead of time like buying tickets, making reservations, or inviting friends over, assign the responsibilities to family members so everyone is working together to have fun. You’ll get more buy-in from the kids, Mom won’t be the only one planning everything, and you won’t miss any important activities.

Your kids and grandkids grow up so fast. Don’t miss these precious summer days and nights to have fun together. (That was my mushy Moment.)

Here’s our family’s Summer Hit List around the Chicagoland area:

  • Train ride downtown, eat at French Market
  • Six Flags Day with fellow Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Families
  • Concert at Ravinia, our outdoor concert venue
  • Long bike ride along Lake Michigan – RJ Grunts for dinner
  • Cubs Game
  • Splash time at North Ave. Beach
  • BBQ party with friends
  • Hang out with neighbors at local pool
  • Backyard camp-out
  • Drive-in tailgate party with friends
  • Trips to Austin, TX and Iowa to visit the Grandparents and cousins

TREAT: To make your planning a little easier, for every order placed today at the Chocolate Cake Club between 8 a.m. CST and midnight, we’ll throw in a FREE Mom’s Plan-it or momAgenda Family Planning Calendar. While supplies last, so get your order in now!

What’s on your Hit List for the Summer?

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Tags: Family Dinner Time Fun · Family Fun Ideas · Help Mom Stay Organized · Ideas for family projects · Summer Family Activities

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