Saturday, June 28, 2014

DIY Doctor Kit for Kids

Hello! I'm sorry for the super long break between posts. [A] and I went on a mini-vacation BY OURSELVES and it was amazing! I never understood why parents would ever want to go away on a trip without their children but I can say that having those few days to just be together and relax without any of the daily obligations that come with jobs and having kids was so... freeing. It's not to say that we didn't do a lot (we'll take that vacation later in the summer, the one where we lay on the beach and just "do relax") but it was still very relaxing and incredibly enjoyable. Anyway, that's a post (or two) for a different day. Today I'm going to show you how I made inexpensive Doctor Kits for the girls.

Back in this post about some of the kids favorite toys I mentioned that the girls, and particularly [E], really love playing doctor lately. Originally I had a bunch of odds and ends in an old free Clinique makeup bag that we used as a medical kit like Peso from the Octonauts when [K] was younger and loved that show. Then when the girls became interested in the Disney Jr. show, Doc McStuffins, they both wanted to perform check-ups on all of their toys. It became clear that the Dollar Tree medical kit I bought on a whim and the few supplies we already had would not be enough for two budding doctors.

I looked around on the internet for some ideas and used those, along with some of my own and pieces we already had, to create these Doctor Kits for Kids. They really aren't expensive and with how much time the girls have used them, they were worth every penny.

The idea really started because of the stethoscope. Both girls loved the Dollar Tree version but it was cheap and the two that we had broke quickly. My Dad has an actual stethoscope that was my grandmother's who was an RN for years, that he let the girls use once (with supervision) but because of the sentimental value of it, I knew I had to find some they could have for themselves. I looked at other toy versions, namely the old Fisher Price version I had as a kid but for a few dollars more I found I could buy them a real working stethoscope which is way cooler.

In the back, starting at the 12:00 position and moving around clockwise:
Clear Cosmetic Bag with Handles -I wanted a bag with a zipper and having it clear made it just that much better. I bought letter stickers from Michaels and wrote "DOC [K]" and "DOC [E]" on their bags. Inside I included:
  • Disposable face mask (from Walgreens)
  • Purple glitter headband (like Doc McStuffins wears) from the dollar section at Target
  • Tic Tac container (filled with Smarties and a few Tic Tacs). I found the free cross medical symbol printable on the Kylie Mae Events blog site
  • Empty travel container with a pop top lid. I was going to use actual empty medicine bottles but those lids are child-proof (for obvious reasons) and I wanted them to be able to open the bottles and pretend to put ointment on cuts and scrapes
  • Doc McStuffins sticker notebook. This comes in a set of four and would be nice for a Doc-themed birthday party as well.
  • Plastic magnifying glass. My Dad originally got this for [K] when she expressed an interest in the glass one he has and both girls have enjoyed using it so when I made two Doctor Kits I got another one from WalMart.
  • Three pack of mini memo notebooks from Target. (I wrote "My Big Book of Boo Boos") on the cover because that's what they call it on Doc McStuffins. The girls draw pictures of their patients and their injuries in the book.
  • Flannel bandages. The two in the back are from an old Ikea toy veterinary kit I bought long ago. It only came with three though and I wanted each girl to have four so I bought a sheet of bandage-colored flannel from Michael's and heavy duty self stick Velcro and made four longer bandages and one additional small one so both girls have two of each size.
  • Doctor badge (it's part of the free printable I mentioned above.) On the front it says "Dr. On Duty" and there's a spot for their names and on the back it's a blue cross. I covered both sides with clear contact paper to keep it from falling apart too quickly.
  • Fabric thermometer. This was also a part of the Ikea vet kit (like the bandages above.)
  • Soft facial brush. I don't remember where or why I bought this but it was never used for its intended purpose. One girl has this in her bag and the other has an old blush brush. They get more use than I would have guessed.
  • Hand tweezers. I found these in the dollar section at Target and while they don't do a great job actually picking stuff up, they're cute and the girls have fun trying to use them.
  • Stethoscope. I bought the pink one above for [K] (and I only bought the pink one because it was the cheapest of the colors they offer) and this black one for [E]. The reason I bought a different one for [E] is because they worded the description as if it would be smaller and more "child-like". Aside from color and hers being a single head versus [K]s which is a dualhead, they seem exactly the same to me. I ended up cutting the tube part that hangs down on both of them because they are so long that they were dragging on the ground.
  • Empty medicine dispenser
  • Syringe highlighter markers. These come in a pack of 6 so each girl has three colors. These are a huge hit. Originally I was going to buy them syringe pens but I was afraid the ink would end up leaking or something since they were just cheap from the Dollar Tree so I was really happy when I found the highlighter version on Amazon.
  • Also included but not pictured: I'm not sure how these didn't make it in the picture but each girl also has two plastic popsicle sticks to use as tongue depressors.

 And there you have it! Everything fits neatly inside the carrying case and the girls have been having hours of imaginative play with them. It's been so fun watching how the girls use their kits and seeing them take such good care of their stuffed animals as well as all of the members of our family. Hopefully this inspires you to make one for the little Doctors in your lives.

Have a great weekend and stay healthy!
~ [J]

Saturday, June 7, 2014

These Are A Few Of Their Favorite Things (Part 2: Books)

Two weeks ago I made a blog post about a few of the girls' favorite toys. Today I'm going to highlight a few of their favorite books. I'm very thankful that both of our girls love to read. Already [K] is reading beyond her grade level and I'm often impressed at how still [E] will sit to listen to a favorite book, even a long one. There is a wealth of research out there about the benefits of reading to your children from an early age and I truly believe it has made a huge difference for both of our children.

Ok, off my soapbox and onto the books! This is a sampling of the many books that are in regular rotation in our family library.

The links provided are only for ease of researching these books and are not endorsements.
I don't work for any of these companies nor do I make any money by recommending them.

1. Piggy and Elephant series by Mo Willems. Oh Mo, we love you so. I initially came upon the Piggie and Elephant books when I bought one for our Little Buddy because I thought it was funny and his Mom is a champion story reader. It turned out they loved that book so much that now they own every single Piggie and Elephant book published! Whenever we visit them I can always find [K] in his room reading every single one. Our collection is not nearly so huge but a few of our favorites include I Broke My Trunk, I Am Invited To A Party, and Watch Me Throw The Ball. The great thing about these books is that they span many ages. [E] absolutely loves them and I've read them to [K]'s kindergarten class. I think the key to these books (and possibly all of Mo Willems' books) is that they are great to read aloud. And the more you get into character reading them, they funnier they are to your audience. I highly recommend Mo.

2 & 3. Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann / Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. These are two books with minimal words that are great for helping a child wind down when getting ready for bed. Goodnight Gorilla was a first birthday gift for [K] and was read to her many times over the years and is now being loved by [E]. Zookeeper Joe is closing the zoo for the night but the sneaky gorilla has other plans. The pictures are very sweet and since there are very few words in this book, it's a great one for making up your own stories. Goodnight Moon is a classic. We never owned it when [K] was little but our Little Buddy had it and loved it so when [E] came along I bought a copy for her and she reads it almost every day. There is a nice sleep-inducing repetition to it along with well-drawn illustrations that allow the young reader to find and point out small details on each page.

4. The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss. I don't know a person alive today who hasn't read at least one book by Dr. Seuss. We have several in our collection and have been reading them to our girls practically from birth. Books like Hop On Pop and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish are great at teaching early vocabulary. And there are few authors who can match his ability for a great flowing rhyme. When [E] was younger she received small board book copies of Are You My Mother? and Put Me in the Zoo which she loved. Lately she's been on a Cat in the Hat kick and will sit and listen to the whole thing read aloud which always amazes me since it's fairly long for her age. I guess that just goes to show the power of the Seuss!

5. I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry. I stumbled upon this book in a quaint book store in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Because of [A]'s immense love for the beach and the ocean, I'm always on the lookout for a good aquatic tale and this one does not fail to deliver. It follows a giant squid who proudly proclaims to be BIG and then proceeds to compare his size to several other ocean-dwelling creatures until the humorous conclusion. Along with a cute story and a twist ending, your child will learn the names of several aquatic animals and size comparisons. Both of our girls have enjoyed this one.

6. Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty. My Mom originally found this book and told us about it so we could buy it as a gift for my Dad from [K]. (As a quick side note, in case you are unaware, my Dad is an architect.) Growing up I wanted to be an architect with my Dad but as I got older I became intimidated by the amount of math involved in architecture. For a few years now [K] has mentioned she wants to be an architect when she grows up. She loves drawing and building structures with blocks, Legos, and these mini actual bricks my Dad has in their office. So, when my Mom found this book it only seemed natural for it to be something he and [K] share. It's a clever book with many buildings and even furniture design references in its illustrations. It has a nice rhyming flow and has a great message about not giving up on our dreams and the things that make us happy, even when we are young. I hope to instill this message in both our children so that they don't end up missing out on something because they feel intimidated by it.

7. Say Hello to Zorro by Carter Goodrich. This is an easy but fun read for kids of many ages. [E] enjoys it and when I read it to [K]s preschool class, they all got a kick out of it as well. I'm not sure how we ended up finding this book but I think it was on display at a big box bookstore. The illustrations seemed familiar and it's for a good reason. Carter Goodrich has an impressive resume of illustrating and character development for MANY animated movies we've seen. He's released two other Mister Bud / Zorro books and while we don't own them yet, they are also cute and fun to read with the kids.

8. One Sweet Race by Elle D. Risco. From the time we saw Wreck-it Ralph at the theater, [K] was hooked. She loved the movie but more than that, she LOVED the Sugar Rush Racers. While she isn't as obsessed as she was last year (check out this post and this one from her 4th birthday party as evidence), when I asked her which are her favorite books she named this one as a favorite still. This is a story based off of Sugar Rush characters from the movie but not a retelling of the movie itself. The illustrations are really cute and the story is fun as well. I only have one complaint with this book; twice they call a character by the wrong name. I would think the proof readers would have caught that one but apparently not. Other than that, it's a winner in our house!

9. My Little Pony: Mini Pony Collector's Guide by Miranda Skeffington. I purchased this book for [K] at Christmas last year from a warehouse club store and while it isn't a book in the traditional sense that it follows a story, it has garnered a LOT of reading and use. Since [K] has such an extensive collection of mini ponies, she has enjoyed cataloging, marking, and tracking her growing collection against this book. Unfortunately it's already outdated but I'm guessing if this edition was popular enough that they'll release a newer one at some point. [K] loves to display her pony collection in order based on this book and she already claims to "need a new one" since she has marked up the one she has so much already. I think every kid (and adult) should have a collection (mine was teddy bears, [A]s was Hot Wheels) and it's so neat seeing the different ways she plays with her pony collection.

10. Chapter Books. Since [K] is such a good reader we've decided that she's ready for longer chapter books. I already owned Fairies and the Quest for Never Land and Fairy Haven and the Quest for the Wand by Gail Carson Levine based solely on the illustrated cover by David Christiana. I love fairies and I'm a sucker for beautiful illustrations, but I hadn't read the books yet and I've owned them for close to 7 years. As I've stated before, I'm not one to shun movies or television from my children and in fact, having books based on movies or shows that are so well loved make it very easy for [K] to want to read these books. Aside from the fairy books I already mentioned, this is true of the My Little Pony chapter books by G.M. Berrow and Charlotte's Web by E.B. White which is a movie the girls watch every time we visit Grandpa. (How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss is another super popular Grandpa movie and book with both of our girls. And yes, we watch and read it year-round, not just at Christmas time.) Lastly, the Fairy Blossoms series by Suzanne Williams was one I purchased the first of from a used book sale at our library for a quarter. These are still chapter books but they are shorter than any of the others I've already mentioned and in fact, one night when [K] was waiting for me to come in a read the last few chapters of the book to her for bedtime, she went ahead and finished the book herself.

So there you have it; a whole array of books that are appropriate for many ages and are enjoyable from an adult standard as well because if we have to read them over and over (and over) again, we had better like 'em too!

By the way, this was a REALLY hard blog post to make because there are so many books we love so if you ever want any additional suggestions, let me know. I have a ton ;)  Oh and also, if you have some favorites I haven't mentioned, please add them in the comments. We are always on the look out for new books. I know I want to get [K] a copy of Pipi Longstockings based off of a Facebook comment made by a friend of mine from high school. I've never read it and only know the very minimum of what it's about but I'm excited to read it with her. I'm also excited to break into my box of "vintage" Ramona Quimby books by Beverly Cleary and see if [K] loves them as much as I did growing up.

Until next time,

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Last Day of School

Today was [K]'s last day of kindergarten. It seems like only yesterday I was putting her on the bus for the first time, standing on the sidewalk crying as I watched her drive away from me.

I'm so proud of her and the many accomplishments she has achieved. Her penmanship is getting better, she continues to excel in reading and comprehension, and her writing has really blossomed. I worried about her seeing as she was the second youngest in her class but when I spoke to her teacher today she assured me that [K] is more than ready to move on to first grade.

So, just because I always love a good Before and After shot, here is my take with a First Day and Last Day picture comparison.

We love you [K]. Continue to grow in your emotions, blossom in your creativity, and amaze us with your intelligence. We could not be more proud.

(And in case you are keeping track, yesterday should have been a Muffin Tin Tuesday but it was a super crazy day and we ended up having to run through the drive-through of a local burger joint. Sorry!)

Take care and HAPPY SUMMER!
~ [J]