This Toy Will Teach Your Baby How to Code

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Coding is all the rage and there are more jobs for computer programmers and in the tech space than there are people who can fill those positions. Now, parents can start molding their tots to be able to work in the tech space with Fisher Price’s Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar.

The toy teaches the basics of coding, like sequencing and programming, with segments of the caterpillar’s body. Each of these eight segments is labeled with different symbols and colors. Kids put them together, attach them to the caterpillar’s smiling, blinky-eyed, motorized head, and press a button to get the whole toy to move.


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The child can cause the toy to move different ways. Here’s how it looks.

Fisher  Price also sells three expansion packs at $15 each, allowing kids to add additional features like turning 180 degrees, or making different sounds or lights.

The caterpillar also works with a free companion app on iOS and Android that teaches counting and patterns.

 Order one for your baby! It debuted last January for $50, retail but is available for under $40 at Amazon.com.
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Stock Up On Baby & Kids Stuff with Gymboree’s $2.99 Warehouse Sale

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Our friends at Gymboree asked us to share with you that it is having a massive warehouse sale and is offering markdowns as low as $2.99.

This means our readers will find accessories $2.99 and up, tees and tops $4.99 and up, pants $4.99 and up, and sleepwear $8.99 and up.


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It may be a great time to stock up on stuff for next winter. [Remember to anticipate how much your baby or kids will grow by then]; and to get some deals for this upcoming Spring.

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Gymboree makes pretty top notched clothing with quality stitching and long lasting material and fabric that does not fade in the wash, shrink or otherwise become too tattered and worn after a few washing.

There’s even some Valentine’s Day Stuff!  GET TO SHOPPING!

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Hope you can take advantage of some deals!

Here Are The Benefits of Hiring an Au Pair


img_1922Parents have two choices when hiring an in-home caregiver: a nanny or an au pair.

Although sometimes the two titles are used interchangeably, they are very different types of caregivers. Nannies are caregivers, either live-in or live-out, that are responsible for meeting the developmental needs of the child and taking on child-related household responsibilities.

They are hired as employees directly by the parents. On the other hand, au pairs are foreign caregivers that are placed with host families through the Department of State.


Rather than an employee/employer relationship, au pairs are part of a cultural exchange program, and are welcomed as part of the family from the start. They receive a weekly stipend, the opportunity to experience American life and the chance to continue their education while they’re in our country in exchange for childcare. Although there are restrictions on the number of hours an au pair can work and what duties she can perform, there are lots of advantages to au pair care too.

Here’s a look at what many families love about having an au pair.


An au pair can teach your child a foreign language.
In today’s world, children who are bi- or multi-lingual have a strong advantage over children who only know English. An au pair can teach her native language to your child, or she can reinforce and expand his language skills if he’s already learning the language in school or from a relative. Because she is also fluent in English, she’s able to communicate with you and your child from the start and introduce her language slowly or provide a complete immersion experience. She’ll be able to approach it in a way that’s best suited to your child.


Your family can experience a different culture through an au pair.
Your au pair can introduce your family to the language, customs and history of her country in a way that brings it to life. You’ll get to learn about life in a different part of the world through the experiences of someone who’s grown up and lived there. This can be especially exciting for school age children who may be learning about the au pair’s country in school. She can support your child’s formal learning with unique stories, crafts, cooking and other activities from her background. This is a much more fun and personal way to learn about a foreign land.

It’s an affordable childcare option. Because au pairs are paid a weekly stipend instead of a typical nanny’s wage, this option makes in-home care affordable for many families. While there are some restrictions on what you can ask of an au pair, she can work up to 10 hours a day or 45 hours a week, can provide hands-on childcare and can do many child-related household tasks, like preparing the children’s meals, doing their laundry and keeping the their areas tidy. This lines up with what many families need from a childcare provider, so for many it’s a perfect fit.

You don’t have to take on the nanny tax hassles. While most au pairs are required to pay state and federal taxes at the end of the year, as the host you’re not required to pay Social Security taxes or other employer taxes like unemployment. This means that you don’t have to deal with the time consuming hassles that come with being a household employer.

An au pair has childcare experience and training. Although au pairs are young men and women, all must have childcare experience before entering the program. Also, all au pairs are required to satisfactorily complete a childcare training program before being placed with a host family. So you can be assured that your au pair has a solid foundation of childcare knowledge before she comes to live with your family. This ensures she’s ready to take on the daily responsibilities of caring for your children.

There’s a strong support network for the au pair and host family
. When you welcome an au pair into your home, it’s the beginning of a long-term relationship with both the au pair and the organization that placed her. She’ll have a counselor that will help her adjust to the American lifestyle, connect her with other au pairs in her local area and also be there to deal with any questions or problems she has. The au pair organization also provides support to you as you go through the natural challenges of welcoming an au pair into your home. Having this professional, ongoing resource can be a huge help in making the relationship a success and getting the most out of the experience.

Hosting an au pair isn’t for everyone. But for many families, it’s the perfect in-home childcare option and cultural exchange experience, all rolled into one.

Here’s How to Make Baby Food Using a Blender

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As concerns about genetically modified produce and dangerous farming practices escalate, and controversy surrounding Monsanto become more common, the number of parents committed to – or at least considering the practice of – making their own baby food is also on the rise. There are also parents who would love to provide their baby with organically grown, preservative- and additive-free foods, but are under the misconception that the process is a long and laborious one. In fact, making baby food from locally or organically grown fruits and vegetables is surprisingly simple.

The Price Factor


Any parent who’s seen the expensive systems advertised for making and storing baby food at home could easily be fooled into thinking that the process is not only a difficult or time-consuming one, but also an incredibly pricey option. The truth is, those systems are only more convenient than the tools you already have in your kitchen, if that, and they are by no means necessary to create fresh, nutritious food of verifiable origins for your bundle of joy. With nothing more than a pot, a knife, a cutting board, fresh produce, and a blender, you can be on the path to becoming an in-demand chef for the smaller set. Because saving money by making healthful food for your baby rather than paying more for processed jarred food is one of the many selling points of taking on the task, spending a small fortune on an entire system with all the bells and whistles is unnecessary.

Storage

Buying a fully-stocked homemade baby food system brings a set of storage containers to the party, but there are several storage options at your disposal that will work just as well in conjunction with the blender you already have. Rather than purchasing a space-hogging, pricey system, take advantage of the variety of storage solutions available to you for a fraction of the cost.

For frozen foods, simply prepare an item in accordance with your chosen recipe, and allow it to cool. Spoon the pureed food into ice cube trays and freeze them until they’re solid, then pop the cubes out and into carefully labeled freezer bags. Foods can then be defrosted in just the amount you need, eliminating waste and allowing you to make food in large batches when you have free time, rather than scrambling to make baby food every day. Small storage bowls are widely and readily available in the market today, and are also suitable for baby food storage. Just be sure that any plastic containers you purchase are BPA free in order to avoid any potential health risks.

Tips for Making the Most Out of Your Blender

Because small batches of food tend to be pushed to the sides of a blender carafe and missed by the blades, your blender is most effective as a method of pureeing baby food when you’re working with a fairly substantial amount of food. This small drawback is eliminated, however, by setting aside an afternoon to make and freeze enough food for a few weeks. Properly stored in airtight freezer containers, your baby food will have a shelf life of up to three months.

Blenders are also great at liquefying solid foods, which means that it’s important to keep a close eye on food that’s being pureed in a blender, lest it become a very thin soup. Always use the pulse button for maximum control over the texture and consistency of the food; using even a low continuous setting could turn your perfectly prepared produce into something more akin to a juice if you’re distracted from the running blender for a moment. With children in the house, there’s constant potential for distraction, so use the pulse button and watch carefully. Remember to scrape down the sides of the blender carafe regularly as well to ensure a uniform texture with few lumps.

Immersion or Stick Blenders

Parents that are lucky enough to have an immersion or stick blender in their kitchen are in an even better position to make their own baby food with less hassle. Rather than transferring cooked food to a blender carafe to puree and then moving it to containers for storage, food can be blended in the cooking vessel and dished straight into storage containers for easy clean-up. Just be sure to avoid scraping the sides or bottom of a non-stick pot with an immersion blender that doesn’t feature housing or guards to prevent flakes of Teflon from ending up in your baby’s carefully prepared, all-natural organic baby food.

reprinted with permission

You’re Going to Love these 10 DIY Valentine’s Day Kids Crafts Ideas


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Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and soon you’ll be scrambling to find activities for your little ones to do while celebrating the day together! Here are a few ideas to get you going.

1. Make heart shaped pancakes – Make heart shaped pancakes for breakfast! Put pancake batter into a squeeze bottle and draw heart pancakes on the griddle! You can also cut sandwiches, deli meats, and fruits into heart shapes using cookie cutters. Creating heart shaped cupcakes or muffins is simple, just drop a marble or rolled up piece of tinfoil between the baking liner and muffin tin before baking to create an indent in the finished product, it will look just like a heart!

2. Create a conversation heart wreath – Cut the middle out of a paper plate to create a ring. Have your children help you cut out hearts and write short messages on them such as “I love you” or “You rock” and glue the hearts onto the ring to create a conversation heart wreath. Be creative with your phrases and make them special to your family.


3. Make your own valentines – Younger children will usually have a party in their classroom to celebrate Valentine’s Day with their classmates, so take some time to help your child create their own cards. They don’t have to be fancy, all you need is some construction paper, glitter glue, stickers, doilies, and adhesive to jump start the creativity in your child. Encourage your child to be creative and let them create whatever they want to, the cards don’t all have to be the same as long as there is one for every child in their class.

4. Valentine’s Day scramble – Post a piece of paper on the wall that has the words “Valentine’s Day” on it and see how many words you can create from those letters, adjusting to the age of the children around you. How many words can you find? You could also add the traditional candy heart phrases and see what additional words you can make using those letters.

5. Hold a Valentine’s Day dance party – Invite your neighbors over for a fun, family friendly dance party! Decorate the room with streamers and balloons, choose a few fun songs together, and get ready to dance!
6. Themed worksheets – A quick search online will turn up dozens of Valentine’s Day themed worksheets, from math sheets to crosswords, so you can easily find something to meet your child’s needs.

7. Love themed books – Hit up the library for books with a Valentine’s Day or love theme; most libraries will have seasonally appropriate books on a separate shelf, which makes finding them easy. Check a few out and read them together!

8. Create coupon books for family members – Talk about what love is and what it means and then discuss various coupons you could create to show family members that you care about them. Offer to walk the dog for free, give a back rub, have one on one time, play a game together or offer to sweep the floor. The receiver can then choose when to redeem the coupons. Coupon books are a great way for kids to be able to give back to the family without a monetary contribution.

9. Go pink and red! – Create a pink and red theme! Pink lemonade, strawberry milk, cupcakes with pink frosting, watermelon, beets, strawberries, and apples are all great pink and red foods to offer for snack time.

10. Make a paper heart chain – Use your cutting and gluing skills to create a chain of hearts to hang up in your house! You can either create a chain by cutting hearts out like you would with paper dolls or cut out hearts together and tape or staple them together to create a chain of unique hearts. Hang them where everyone can enjoy them.

 

Have fun!

Grab These Kardashian Kids Clothes Deals: 50% Off; Starting at $7.00 NOW!

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Boy do the Kardashians know how to do business. I know I’m late to the party but I just discovered that the family sells kids clothing! Whoa mama! The cool part is that the clothes are hip and chic, with a bit of edge to them but not too adult.

The line actually started back in 2014! (where have I been?) and they are inspired by the children in the family: Kourtney and Scott Disick’s three children 7- year old Mason, 4-year old Penelope and 2-year old Reign; and Kim’s 3-year old daughter North; and I suppose now her


The girls collection come in sizes newborn to 5T and include frilly tulle, faux fur, leopard prints and shiny gold leggins the boys run from newborn to 24 months and feature baggy sweat pants, sleeveless hoodies,  camo sweatshirts and suspender pants, signature of Mason.

The line is sold at Babies R Us, Nordstroms, Lord & Taylor and other retailers nationwide and the price ranges from $20 to $40 which is a great moderate price point but if you look around the web, you can find them at discount stores for less.

I did some digging and here is what I found of my fave items from this collection all ON SALE!

  1. A super cute sleeveless cream party dress for a baby up to 6-years old that comes with a sequinned top fitted to the waist and an adorable tulle skirt which is perfect for a portrait, a formal outing or visit to friends. It’s on sale now at Off 5th Avenue for just $26.99.
  2. I think the floral jumpsuit is something Kourtney would wear and so this is cute little mini me jumper for her daughter. It’s down from $37 to $22 at Alex and Alexa.
  3. The gold belted romper with cubic print is a great summer play version of the jumpsuit and it’s on sale now for $14.99 at discount outletters 6pm.
  4. I love the faux suede side panels on their Pointi leggings for girls. It too is down to $16.99 at 6pm. 
  5. Perfect for weekend outings, cruising at the mall, play dates are these pants with the edgy ribbed side panels. So fly! They’re $17 right now at Alex and Alexa.
  6. I love Ye and his style so I definitely saw him when I peeped this camo-inspired sweater. It’s a decent $19.99 at 6pm right now. 
  7. I know that it is winter in many parts of the states but I would definitely grab up this past season striped baby shorts for $$7.20 at Lord & Taylor and stock up for Spring!
  8. These pants with suspenders just scream Mason Disick. That little boy had so much style and sophistication when he wore such smart clothing. The pants and suspenders go for $29.99 at Off 5th for 2T-4T. And the infant version thru 24 months is $22.19 at Lord & Taylor. Not bad !
  9. I’m not sure when they released this baby girl black mesh dress but I think it is the cutest thing. And Lord & Taylor is selling it for just $9.99, down from $33! That’s a steal and won’t last long, I’m certain!
  10. The asymmetric black zipped coverall in that muted purple is to die for and it’s down as well at Off 5th for $26.99 from $36.99.
  11. I love the sporty look to the hooded sleeveless top. Zappos has it for $24.99
  12. Finally, I cannot get enough of the harem pants for infants they sell! Love! It too is on sale, I guess, for $17.49 at Nordstrom half off!

If you’re interested in picking up any of these items, I suggest you do so fast because often times right after I post about clothing on sale at various sites, they sell out pretty quickly and Lord knows when they’ll be restocked and if they’ll be priced that low again! Good luck and happy shopping!

Here are 51 Ways to Save Money on Having a Baby

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Having children can be expensive. A recent study found that the average American will spend over $245,000 to raise a child from infancy to adult…and that’s not including the cost of psychotherapy bills when they mess them up.  That is a high enough price tag to deter some from starting a family altogether.  But it can be done if one does research, skip on the extra stuff and move wisely. A little while ago, TheBump.com compiled a list of 51 different things couples can do to save money before and after having their baby. We shared some on the blog with a link to check out the rest. Here it is again because the list if awesome and worth re-sharing!

1. Buy secondhand gear and clothes. – Consignment shops are often full of great maternity and baby clothes as well as gear and furniture.


2. Borrow a bassinet (or skip it altogether). – Most bassinets can only be used until baby starts rolling over, so try to find one that you can borrow for those few weeks.

3. Hold off.- If you aren’t sure which products will work best for baby (especially with bottles, pacifiers, even diapers), buy the minimum to start with, then stock up once you know baby’s preferences.

4. Limit the tests. -Not pregnant yet? Buy three (and no more than three) pregnancy tests to keep on hand. If you have a larger supply, you’re likely to wind up with a trash can full of them. (Believe us. We’ve been there.)

5. Go easy on the starter diapers. – Start with only one pack of newborn diapers. Baby may not even fit into them at the start, and he’ll grow fast.

6. Breastfeed as long as possible. -The cost of formula adds up. (And breast milk is great for baby!)

7. Pump.– Again, formula can get expensive.

8. Formula feeding? Ask for samples.– Be sure to head home from the hospital with samples (some now only give them upon request), and ask for samples at each visit to the pediatrician. Don’t be shy — it never hurts to ask.

9. Buy a convertible crib. – A crib that converts into a toddler bed will definitely save you some cash over the years.

10. Do your homework! – Research is essential to make sure you know which products give you the most bang for your buck.

11. Get mom (or aunt, or MIL…) to babysit. – Family can quickly turn into your most valuable childcare resource.

12. Buy in bulk. -You know you’ll need lots of some things (like diapers and formula). If you have the storage space, stock up to save cash.

13. Make your own baby food. – When baby starts to eat solids, toss cooked veggies into the blender with a bit of liquid, and save the meals in ice trays — the money you’ll save makes it worth the extra effort.

14. Forget the comforter. – Since baby won’t actually USE it, it isn’t really necessary.

15. Get crafty. – DIY projects take time, but they save cash (and add fun personal touches).

16. Forget the fancy toys. Baby will be content with smaller price tags (or spoons, pans, and cardboard boxes, for that matter).

17. Go without a changing table. – Instead, top the dresser with a changing pad and add a few wall shelves for storage.

18. Cook. – Eating out, ordering in, and frozen meals can eat up a lot of cash.
Read the rest at The Bump.com

Get to Know the Difference Between Engaging and Entertaining Children

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When it comes to spending time with children, do you spend your time engaging them, entertaining them or doing a little of both?  Before you can fully answer that question, you may need to explore the difference between the two.

When caregivers engage children their time is spent being actively involved with the kids.  Engaging children requires active participation from both the caregiver and the child. When caregivers actively play with children, they are engaging them.  Caregivers might engage children by playing blocks with them, dancing with them, playing a game with them, or being involved in dramatic play with them.


When caregivers entertain children their time is spent passively involved with the children. Entertaining children is not interactive. In fact, it’s mostly one-sided with the child fulfilling the role of audience. Entertainment requires observation. When caregivers take the children to the movies or put on a television show for them to watch, they are entertaining them.

The purpose of engaging children is to help focus their attention so that learning can happen. The purpose of entertaining is to create a pleasurable experience. Engagement involves children being creative and solving problems, while entertainment involves children watching others be creative and solve problems.  While some entertainment can be educational, that’s not its primary purpose.

For many caregivers, given the integration of technology in everyday life, it often requires some entertaining to get the children interested before you transition to engaging them. And while some learning may come from entertainment, when children are engaged, real and lasting learning occurs.

As you consider how you spend time with the children in your care, ask yourself:

  • Am I actively interacting with the children?
  • How does the entertainment I offer deepen or enhance their learning experience?
  •  Is the activity the children are doing designed to benefit them or me?
  • Am I nurturing the children’s sense of curiosity about themselves and their world?
  • Am I providing tools for hands-on learning?
  • Is technology trumping your relationship?
  • Are we going places more than doing things together?

If your answers lead you to believe the children would benefit from more engagement and less entertainment, consider spending more time engaging the children by:

  • Playing play-dough
  • Building blocks
  • Doing arts and crafts together
  • Playing board games
  • Having a tea party
  • Rolling a ball back and forth
  • Taking part in fantasy play
  • Playing outside
  • Putting on a puppet show
  • Baking cookies.

While having fun is certainly important, providing opportunities for interaction, hands-on learning and problem solving can create an environment that promotes active learning, which will yield lasting results.

 

10 Tips for Mixing and Matching Your Children’s Wardrobe with Essentials

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Winter is a great time to reassess and clean out the kids’ wardrobe and cycle out cool weather clothes and make sure the closet is  It’s also the perfect time to clean out the closets and make room for warmer clothes, and cycle out clothes that no longer fit.

To get some longevity out of your child’s wardrobe, before you invest in new clothes, though, take inventory of what your child still has that fits.  Either take pictures of these pieces or make yourself a list prior to going shopping so you don’t double up on the same items.  To maximize her wardrobe, you will want to buy pieces that coordinate with the ones that she already has.

  1. Jeans are a must.  Jeans are a wardrobe staple that match just about everything, so having a few pairs on hand is never a bad thing. Colored jeans are all the rage right now, so make sure to pick up at least one pair of those.  Stick to a few pairs of basic blue jeans as well so that they can be mixed and matched with tops.
  2. Leggings are great for girls. For girls, leggings are a must wear item.  They can be paired with a cute dress or a long shirt, or they can be worn under a shorter skirt.  Choose basic colors like navy, black, and white when buying leggings so that you can mix and match them easily.
  3. A basic white shirt goes with everything.  For both boys and girls, buying a basic white shirt is a closet staple. The white shirt doesn’t have to be a plain t-shirt though, and you can buy girls a pretty blouse and boys a white button-down or polo.  Make sure to use bleach when you wash these because a bright white shirt looks great, but a dingy gray one does not.
  4. Underwear and socks are very important.  As kids grow it’s often overlooked if they need bigger underwear or new socks.  See how your child’s are fitting and assess if she needs some new ones.
  5. A jacket or hoodie will allow kids to layer.  Fall is an especially tricky time to dress for the weather since it frequently changes throughout the day, so putting your kids in layers will help them stay comfortable all day long. Winter definitely requires layers. If it’s a little cool in the morning when he walks to school a jacket or hoodie will keep him warm, but you don’t want to dress him in a sweatshirt because by afternoon it will have warmed up and he will be hot.  Sometimes the air conditioning in schools can seem too cold to some so having a way to keep the chill off will make your child more comfortable.
  6. Tennis shoes are a must for gym class.  Kids don’t necessarily need the latest and greatest brand name shoes, but they do need shoes that fit well and allow them to move quickly with ease.  Whatever your budget, it’s important that the shoes fit and support her growing feet.
  7. Boys will need a pair of nicer slacks.  Sometimes schools will take the kids on a field trip to see a play or musical and ask that they dress up for the event.  Having a pair of dress slacks that can be paired with the basic white shirt that you’ve already bought will give them an easy option when they need to look a little nicer.
  8. Girls may need a dress.  This dress does not have to be overly frilly and full of ruffles, but it shouldn’t be too casual either.  Find something comfortable that would be age appropriate for your girl.
  9. Dress shoes are needed.  To go with the boys’ dress pants and with the girls’ dress a pair of dress shoes is needed.  Unlike the tennis shoes that will most likely be worn almost every day, the dress shoes can be inexpensive if they aren’t going to be worn frequently.  Buy something very basic, like a black or brown shoe that can be worn with most colors.
  10. A winter coat is a must in most climates.  Some areas of the country will use this more often than others, but most areas will need a winter coat at some point during the year.  How heavy the coat is will be determined by where you live.  If you have almost six months of winter, like in the Midwest and Northern states, you will want to get a coat that is heavy or has several separate layers. Warmer climates may only need a light parka.

Buying clothes in basic colors can extend her wardrobe and increase her ability to mix and match her clothes.  Adding a hoodie to an outfit will change the entire look of an outfit.  Having shirts that can be worn with jeans, leggings, or a skirt will give her the versatility to make different looks throughout the year.  While these are just the basics, you should also plan to pick up a few special items for picture day or other times when she wants to look especially nice.      

MLK Day: 5 Ways to Celebrate with Your Kids

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Keep the Dream Alive
“He wanted all the brown kids and white kids to like each other.”
“He wanted everybody to sit on the bus wherever they want.”
“He had a dream and it was so big and then he died.”

In honor of the gifts Dr. King gave our nation, try these five creative ways to help children celebrate his vision of hope and sense of humanity.


1. Create a Multicultural Banquet!

One of Martin Luther King’s greatest achievements was his ability to help Americans appreciate diversity. Celebrate his birthday with an eclectic holiday dinner featuring cuisine from different countries or geographical regions. Serve Puerto Rican rice-and-beans, Boston clam chowder, a Chinese stir-fry, and a peach pie from Dr. King’s native Atlanta. The variations on this theme are endless, and the dinner doesn’t need to be time-consuming. You can achieve almost the same effect by stopping for takeout from Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, and your local pizza parlor (Italian or Greek).

2. Decorate with Many Colors

What’s a birthday party without decorations? Here’s a great MLK Day activity to do with younger children: Make the classic paper chains using black, white, red, yellow, and brown construction paper to represent the various skin tones found across our nation. Show kids the symbolism behind the craft: “Each link represents a hand, and our chain reminds us that Dr. King joined hands with people of all colors when he marched for freedom.” A variation on this theme: Children can trace their own hands, then color them in using different skin-tone shaded crayons.

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