activities

Spring is here - get outside and enjoy it!

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After a long and (very) cold winter, it looks like spring is finally upon us! The days are longer, and the weather is a lot warmer – so why not take advantage and spend more time outdoors with your family! There are many free activities you can organize that everyone in your family can participate in. From exploring Calgary’s parks to having fun in your own backyard, you and your family don’t have to break the bank to enjoy the season.

Decide on an activity

It isn’t easy trying to decide what activity to do, especially if multiple people are involved. Why not start by getting together with your family and allowing everyone to share what activities they would like to do throughout the spring and summer. Everyone can be tasked with coming up with one or two ideas, which can be recorded on a board or sheet of paper. Once a few options have been decided, you can start putting them in to action. It is a good idea to go through all of the activities and make sure they are possible to accomplish. Are there any age limitations? Is distance or cost an issue? Do they require equipment you don’t have? Depending on what activities have been chosen, you can either decide to randomly draw an activity each weekend or every couple of weeks, or you can plan out activities for the next couple of months (especially if they are time sensitive or require special planning).

Plan your experience

For free activities like visiting city parks or natural areas, the only factor that might prevent you from visiting is the weather or renovations. Check the weather a couple of days before to get a more accurate idea of what the conditions might be and plan accordingly. Some events might take place at certain times throughout the summer and can only be experienced on certain days. If you need to book time off work, make sure that you are able to take that time, and make any other arrangements, like transportation, as soon as possible.

There are many activities that you can even plan in the comfort of your own backyard, like sports, scavenger hunts, tag, and campfires. These activities may require a visit to a local grocery or recreation store, but there are not many other tasks that need to be completed ahead of time. During periods where they weather is more unpredictable, activities like this are more ideal because they can easily be scratched or changed as needed.

Pack a bag (and bring some snacks!)

Before you head out, put together a day bag with plenty of sunscreen, bug spray, and water. Don’t forget to bring hats and sunglasses on particularly sunny days. For parents with younger children, a few snacks should also be packed for full-day activities. Snacks do not have to be anything extravagant, just enough to satisfy any hunger cravings, and prevent you from having to spend money on pricier items at stores or restaurants. Multiple snacks can even be combined in one bag to make a fun-looking treat!

  • Fruits and vegetables

Not only is this snack easy to put together, it’s healthy and easy to carry around as well. Cut up carrots, slice an apple, or wash a handful of grapes and store in a plastic container or recyclable plastic bag. When you’re choosing fruits and vegetables, choose ones that don’t have extra peels, stems or pits, and pre-cut anything that can’t easily be eaten on the go.

  • Cheese and crackers

This is another simple snack for shorter excursions, as the cheese should not sit out for a full day, especially if you don’t have a cooler or cold place to store your bag. Consider placing the cheese slices on the crackers before placing them in a container or plastic bag for each child for a more efficient snack break.

  • Energy balls

With so many different variations, energy balls are also a delicious and easy snack that can be made up ahead of time. They can be sweet or savory, and you can bring a couple of different kinds to a weekend activity, so your family can pick and choose which ones to have. Putting the energy balls together can be a fun activity on its own, as everyone in the family can help roll them out.

Have fun!

Sometimes, even the best plans can fail, so always be prepared for weather, injuries or other obstacles that may impact your spring activity plans. Whatever happens, make sure that you make the most of the warmer season enjoy the warm weather with your family!

Get ready for Spring!

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It may have taken a long time for the snow to finally leave, but it's safe to say that spring is finally here! The weather isn't quite warm enough for outdoor activities, but there are plenty of other indoor activities that can still help celebrate the upcoming season.

To help get you and your family ready for spring, why not try out one of these seasonal activities that can easily be done with a few household ingredients:

Baking

  • Use up your leftovers: Do you have a lot of Easter chocolate leftover, and aren't sure what to do with it? This recipe from Bake. Eat. Repeat. uses popular Easter egg candies on top of a haystack to make a festive treat! Not only is it easy to make, this recipe requires no baking at all, and is easy for children of any age to help with.
  • Snacks that are healthy and fun: Strawberries are a versatile fruit, and a great snack for kids to take to lunch or have at home. This spring, why not add a little something extra? Consider trying these pastel-coloured strawberries from Salt & Lavender that are covered in chocolate for a fun treat or dessert. Kids can easily help out by dipping them into sprinkles or dipping the strawberries themselves. For something simpler, Kid Friendly Things to Do has a recipe for lady-bug themed strawberries that only require some melted chocolate and mini-marshmallows.
  • Butterfly pretzels: It may be too soon to see a real butterfly, but consider decorating your cupcakes with chocolate covered pretzels and round candies to resemble a colourful butterfly like this one from Who Needs a Cape. Or, you can use your creative skills to assemble these pretzel butterflies from Butter with a Side of Bread with a variety of colourful candy melts and plenty of sprinkles!

Arts and crafts

  • Garden decor: This craft is easy for children to help with, and after it's done it can be used to spruce up your garden or flower bed. All you need are a few rocks, a brush and outdoor paint! Check out the full instructions at Crafts by Amanda.
  • Food into art: Bow-tie noodles have another use besides a meal option - they can be used to make a variety of springtime objects for an artistic rendering of spring. Crafty Morning shows how you can use these noodles, a few markers and glue to create butterflies, flowers and more.
  • Bird feeders: Bird seeds, water, and gelatine make for a fun craft from Messy Little Monsters. Use whatever cookie cutters you have to make the seeds into fun shapes, and hang them with coloured ribbon. This is also a great activity for kids to get involved in - not only can they enjoy making the bird treats, they can also have fun waiting to see who eats them as well!

There are many different activities that you and your family can do to celebrate the season without having to break the bank or buy extra materials. While these activities are spring-themed, they can easily be pulled out throughout the spring and summer whenever bad weather hits the city!

Ghoulish grub and bone rattling crafts for Halloween

Get into the spirit of Halloween whether it’s at home, at work, at school, or for a party. Making a craft or baking a spooky treat is simple and easy to do, and doesn’t require much more work than a regular recipe or activity would require. The best part is you don’t have to break the bank to participate in Halloween fun! Below, we’ve found some great recipes and craft ideas that anyone can take part in during the Halloween weekend that won’t take much time or effort on your part.

Trick or treating and wearing a costume are only one part of Halloween – make your own spooktacular decorations for your home or cook-up some wickedly good desserts for a party! [INSERT TWEET THIS LINK].

For a super-simple Halloween themed snack idea or party treat, try these Witch Brooms from Couponing to Disney. They’re really quick and easy to make, and you can add your own little designs and decorations to them! The amount of supplies you will need will depend on how many you want to make.

Ingredients:

  • Pretzel sticks
  • Peanut butter cup treats
  • Assorted decorations (optional)

Note: these ingredients can be purchased as gluten-free options.

Instructions:

  • Unwrap the peanut butter cups and place them upside down, so the narrower end is facing up
  • Insert the pretzel sticks into the peanut butter cups so the will resemble a witch’s broom standing up
  • If you want to add some flair to the broom sticks, you can alternatively use icing, sprinkles, and other baking decorations to the peanut butter cups.

 

Another great dessert idea that can also be made with gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and nut-free options, are these Frankenstein Rice Krispie treats from Big Bear’s Wife.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 10 ounces marshmallows
  • 6 cups rice krispie cereal
  • 10 drops yellow food coloring
  • 10 drops blue food coloring
  • Melted Chocolate/Candy Coating
  •  Candy Eyes

Instructions:

  • Melt the butter in a large pot and add the marshmallows. Stir until they are all melted!
  •  Add in the food coloring and stir until it turns green.
  • Add rice krispie cereal a little bit at a time and stir to combine.
  •  Press rice krispie cereal into a buttered 9 x 13 pan. Press flat and let cool.
  •  Let rice krispie treats sit for about 30 minutes.
  •  Remove from pan and cut into squares.
  • Melt chocolate according the package directions. Dip the tops of the Rice Krispie Treats into the melted chocolate.
  • Lay on a sheet of wax paper (or a plate).
  • Use some of the melted chocolate and “glue” on the candy eyes.
  •  Fill a ziplock bag with some of the melted chocolate, snip an end off and pipe a stitch mouth onto Frankenstein.
  • Let the Frankenstein Rice Krispie Treats sit for about 20 minutes undisturbed or until the chocolate had hardened.

 

If you’re feeling crafty, these Witchy Pinecone Owls from All Free Kids Crafts requires minimal materials – and they look really cute!

Materials:

  •  1 pinecone
  • Black craft felt
  • Colored craft foam
  •  Scissors
  • Glue
  •  Ribbon

Instructions:

  • Gather a pinecone from your yard.
  •   Cut out a triangular piece of black craft foam. Round the edges.
  •  Cut slits in the piece on the rounded side.
  •   Cut out two doughnut-shaped circles of black craft felt.
  •  Fold triangle into a cone. Slide cone into one doughnut piece. Flip up slits to the underside of the hat.
  • Glue slits to the underside of the hat. Glue second doughnut piece to cover up slits.
  • Glue colored ribbon around hat.
  • Cut out small diamond shape from craft foam in whatever color you like and glue onto pinecone.
  •  Cut out two small black circles and two larger colored circles from craft foam.
  • Glue smaller circles inside larger ones and glue onto pinecone.

Read more here.

 

However, if you’re looking for a little more complex craft – this one is sure to light up Halloween night! A Little Claireification has a great DIY Mummy Mason Jar Luminaries that is not only fun to make but will look great around your home afterwards.

Materials:

  • Mason Jars
  • 1″ Gauze Bandage
  •  Googly Eyes
  • Flameless Votive Candles

Instructions:

  • Take a mason jar and wrap it with some gauze bandage tape.
  • Hot glue on a couple of googly eyes
  • Add in a little flameless votive candle (or a regular votive if these will be attended at all times) and boom! 

 

Happy Halloween!