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Foam Light Sabers

Our family has some fun traditions for birthdays, and one of them is for us to get the birthday child a mylar balloon to tie on his/her chair to announce their birthday. A couple of weeks ago my middle child turned five. And he was having some friends over to play for his birthday. And I didn’t have a balloon for him yet. Oops! So an hour before his play date, I ran to the dollar store near us to see what they had on hand. They were OUT of helium, so no balloons. But they assured me a store across town had them in stock. That wouldn’t work since we were under a time crunch, so I went into panic mode. What could I do that would be cool enough for him to not worry about the balloon? Then I saw some foam noodles in a bin. And then I remembered this party idea that I had seen.

I found the needed supplies (they had them all there!), ran home, and my husband and I pulled them together just as friends were coming over.

Here’s what you need:

Foam Water Noodles, Black Electrical Tape, Silver (Gray) Duct Tape, Clear Tape, Knife

Step 1: Take your foam water noodle, and cut it in half. I found a serrated knife to work well for this.

Step 2: Find which side is straighter, and wrap two strips of duct tape next to each other. This will make part of the “handle”.

Step 3: Wrap a strip of black electrical tape over the seam between the strips of duct tape, and then wrap another strip at the end of the duct tape. This will give the handle more of a finished look.

Here’s what your two light sabers should look like now:

Step 4: Draw a dot for the button on the handle, then cut a piece of clear tape to “seal” the button on. We just drew the buttons on for the kids at the play date, and by the end the buttons had all worn off. I redrew the buttons on the extra light sabers we made after the play date and covered the button part with tape. It only takes a little square to seal it off.

You’re done! These are a great way for little kids to be able to play without really being able to do much to hurt each other. The kids at the play date took the light sabers out on the tramp and went to town – it was a lot of fun to watch them. We ended up making enough to have one for each kid to take home, one for each of our kids, and then four extra for when friends come over to play on another day.

The fact that you can find all of the supplies at the dollar store made this a really inexpensive project too – each noodle made two light sabers ($.50 each), and then we still had tape left over after making 14 light sabers.

Enjoy!

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Conference Candy

A tradition that our family has is to have “Conference Candy”. Twice a year, the worldwide leaders of our Church hold a 2-day televised conference called General Conference. It is 8 hours of instruction (four 2-hour segments) for all of the members, and then an extra 2 hours for the men. We have tried to find ways to keep our kids “tuned in” to what is being said – and eight hours is a long time, awesome as the lessons are.

Our biggest success has been using candy, or other treats (pretzels, nuts, popcorn) to help keep their interest level up. This is a good alternative to “Conference Bingo” – our kids are too young to keep interest in that for very long, and tend to just eat the candy. We just had four of the hours today, and my seven- and five-year old were both paying attention for most of the time. My two-year old even got into it for some of the time.

How does it work?

Step 1. Choose your “key words” and label your bags/cups/whatever. Six words seems to be a good number – it is enough that there is at least one of them being said on a fairly frequent basis, but not too many to keep track of and to lose interest.

The kids helped to pick some of these too (like “therefore”). For example, our first six words were: therefore, baptism, prophet, church, family and temple. Our second round words were: faith, prayer, prophet, therefore, gospel and quote (again, “quote” was chosen by my seven-year old).

Step 2: Fill ’em up with candy/nuts/pretzels/etc. Pretty self-explanatory.

Step 3: Listen for the words, and enjoy! We kept the bags on the fireplace, and I would go get the candy whenever someone called a word out that was said. If you were in the room, you got the candy. My older two were engaged for probably 95% of the time, which was huge. And, actually, Elder Quentin L. Cook had a talk FULL of key words, which prompted my oldest to say, “Apostles are AWESOME! They want us to eat candy!” As long as we are getting a positive memory and learning something, works for me.

Words we might try next time: sacrifice, hope, love, testimony, blessings, service, covenants, commandments. I decided intentionally not to do Savior, Jesus or God just because I don’t feel comfortable with my kids screaming their names at the top of their lungs to get candy. That is my personal feeling. Also, the words in the songs count for us, but not the ones in the prayers. Again, I don’t want my kids shouting out words in the middle of a prayer.

Enjoy!! :)

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Scavenger Hunt

Today my son asked if we could go to a local museum. It is an outdoor museum, and the weather has been perfect here, so I agreed that it would be just the thing. Until I realized that we had a repair person coming during the time we would be gone. !! Oh dear. Five-year olds love when their world gets shattered. So, thinking quickly I pulled together a list of things to find to try and pitch the idea to him.

I decided to try and find things that were easy to be found around here at this time of year, and tried to keep it relatively quick enough that we could get back in time for the repair person to come.

I told my five-year old that he could bring some of his “spy gear” that he had bought with his birthday money – this, thankfully, sealed the deal. We were off!

I would highly recommend this – it is an easy idea, totally free, and keeps everyone entertained and in the fresh air. It’s always fun to check things off too. See? I knew that we had an abundance of acorns down the street – it was the quick find to get us excited.

When we had found everything, he decided to make a list of his own for the way back to our house: a stick, a bird, a helicopter (one happened to be flying overhead) and an airplane.

My two-year old was happy to be collecting things too. (Pardon the hair – it was a bit windy….)

This was one of the first things my five-year old told my husband about when he came home on his lunch break, and was the first thing he told his older brother about when we picked him up from school. This is definitely something we will be doing again over the summer.

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