{Mama Pea Pod's Best of 2011}

2011 has been a year of such fun for me and my little peas! I absolutely loved spending the first 7 months of the year (plus 10 months of the year before that) home with them; we got up to so many wonderful, creative, and playful experiences together, and the girls have really grown to be great friends and playmates. Since returning to work in August it's been harder in all respects, but we still manage to do fun and creative activities together each week.

Here are my personal favourites from the blog over the year. Since I didn't start the blog until February, there's no January post listed below, but for each month after that I've shared a link to what I think was our 'best' activity I shared that month. Enjoy!

December - Curled Paper Trees

And watch for the upcoming Best Ideas for Kids in 2011 blog hop on January 2nd, where I'll be sharing another post of mine not listed here, along with the best ideas from many of your favourite kid bloggers.

Sharing at: ABC&123, It's Playtime, I Can Teach My Child


{Watch this space...Best Ideas for Kids of 2011 coming soon!}

Since the Creative Christmas Countdown went so well, many of us same bloggers plus some others have decided to collaborate on another project - The Best of 2011! Check back on January 2nd to see the best posts of the year from each of the bloggers below, and link up your own best/favourite post of the year in our blog hop!

AngeliqueFelix.comThe Golden Gleamhands on : as we grow,Toddler ApprovedRed Ted ArtThe Iowa Farmer’s WifeThe Outlaw Mom BlogLet Kids Create,  Come Together KidsCreative With Kids,  Science sparksMama Smiles,  Rainy Day Mumteach mamaKitchen Counter ChroniclesThe Imagination TreeJDaniel Fours MomTeach PreschoolDe tout et de rien: Activités pour le PréscolaireTinkerlabMama Pea PodCrayon FrecklesSun Hats & Wellie BootsFrom Tantrums To Treasure HuntsMy Creative FamilyClassified: MomPuddles and GumbootsArt For Little HandsCreative Connections for KidsAt home with AliNurturestore, The Chocolate Muffin TreeCritters and CrayonsThe Mommies Made Me Do ItMommy LabsJamieJumble

Addendum: Click the button above to take you to the blog hop - now live!


{Creative Christmas Countdown: Day 24}

Well, this is it! Tonight's the big night! I'm both excited for tomorrow, and a bit sad that all the momentum is ending.

For today's final, Day 24 of the Creative Christmas Countdown, Kristi at Creative Connections for Kids has a special post for you.

Merry Christmas and see you after all the excitement has died down!


{Creative Christmas Countdown: Day 23}

Time to have a family game night! Chrissy, The Outlaw Mom, has a game for you for Day 23 of the Creative Christmas Countdown!


{Creative Christmas Countdown: Day 22}

Oh my goodness, it's really almost Christmas! Are you ready yet? In all the madness of planning, I hope you're finding some time to enjoy with your little peas and maybe even try out some of the advent activity ideas in the Creative Christmas Countdown. Perhaps you're ready to slow down, take a break, and treat yourself and your kids ... see what Science Sparks has for you for Day 22!


{Creative Christmas Countdown: Day 21}

Today's Creative Christmas Countdown post is brought to you by the mastermind herself, Alissa at Creative With Kids! Alissa is the genius behind this collaborative online advent calendar, so be sure to leave her a thank you when you go to visit. She's writing about a sweet family tradition that they have.


{Creative Christmas Countdown: Day 20}

I'm a little sad that the Creative Christmas Countdown is nearly over! Today is Day 20, and Joyce at Dinosaurs and Octopuses is bringing you a super-fun family tradition -- I think we might start to make it a tradition at our house too!


{Hand- and Footprint Reindeer Growth Record}

Last year we started a new Christmas tradition in the Pea household, and they are a great, easy preschool Christmas craft to make!

We made these handprint and footprint reindeer for everyone in the family. Every year the kids will make new ones to add to the reindeer family. They have the kids' ages on the backs so that they will form a record of their growth over the years. As our reindeer family 'grows', I will string them into a garland to use for decorating at Christmastime. (For now, they're individually taped around the living/dining room).

The reindeer themselves are super easy to make. Just trace a footprint for the head, and two handprints for the antlers. We used scrapbooking papers in shades of brown, so they are always a little different. Then we added googly eyes and a paper nose and mouth.


Sharing at: Christmas Traditions Link Up

{Creative Christmas Countdown: Day 19}

If your kids like small world play as much as mine do, then you definitely won't want to miss the Day 19 advent calendar activity for the Creative Christmas Countdown, brought to you by Kristina at Toddler Approved!


{Preschool Christmas Crafts}

Princess Pea made these sweet Christmas crafts at her preschool and presented them to Daddy Pea and I at their class party. I thought I'd post the pictures in case any last-minute-crafters are still looking for inspiration.

preschool christmas craft flower pot bell

Flower pot bell
It has a bead dangling underneath to make the ringer part. Painted and decorated with punched-out shapes. She assures me she painted it completely herself, though I'm not 100% convinced of the truth of that claim! She says the teacher only did the ribbon and bead part.

preschool christmas craft pinecone elf

Pine cone elf
(This isn't the one she made, hers is hanging from the rearview mirror in my car, but it's basically the same as this except that her pinecone was brushed with glue and dipped in white beads to make a snow effect - very pretty!) The teachers provided the cones with the heads and hanging threads already attached. I was there and helped her to make a hat, glue on a scarf (hers is made of braided yarn), and do the snow.

preschool christmas craft napkin holder

Napkin holder 
Made of paper, tied at the top with gold string, and decorated with punched out Christmas shapes. The teachers cut out the paper, tied the top, and pre-cut the shapes. The kids glued the shapes on.

{Creative Christmas Countdown: Day 18}

Today I'm super excited because one of my favourite blogs, Sunhats and Wellie Boots, is bringing you the advent activity for today, Day 18 of the Creative Christmas Countdown calendar! Check out the preschool-friendly beaded ornaments they've made!


{Creative Christmas Countdown: Day 17: Giving to Charities}

This year we decided that Princess Pea was old enough for a preschooler-sized explanation of how not every child gets presents from Santa at Christmas, or even from their parents, maybe because their parents don't have enough money to buy them, or because they may not even have parents at all.

After several days of gently discussing this topic over dinner, we started to gather old clothes and toys from around the house that we could donate to those children who need them more than we do. Clothes were easier for her to part with than toys, and yes, there were some tears, but in the end we carted off a box and 3 bags of stuff, plus a baby gym, to donate. To get her even more involved in the process, I also took her with me to help sort out the many items that had been donated by the school community to give to several charities that help children in extremely poor areas in this country and neighbouring countries. While I unpacked donations, she ran around delivering them to their correct table set up in the school gym. Then we helped to bag everything up, label it, and drag it out to be loaded onto a truck. She was quite excited by the idea that she was getting to 'be like Santa' -- though she was a bit disappointed to discover that we were not going to deliver these presents to the children ourselves. Maybe next year.

Today is Day 17 of the Creative Christmas Countdown advent activity calendar, and it's from Terri at My Creative Family. She's got some suggestions for how you can get your kids involved in giving to charities.


{Outdoor Play Party for the Holidays}

Come join the Outdoor Play Party linky! I'm a bit late getting this up, sorry, have been crazy busy with holiday preparations, last week of school for us before the holidays, and last week for my daughter's preschool too. Looking forward to some family outdoor play again at last over the next 3 weeks! And I think we've got snow in the forecast for next week, so maybe I'll have some snow play pictures to share next time.

In the meantime, we are taking a holiday break from the link party, so this week's link will run for 2 weeks instead of one. You are welcome to link up at any time in those two weeks, it will be open to accept submissions until midnight (GMT+1) on Dec. 28. And notice that on the right hand sidebar, there are now grab buttons for the party! If you link up a post, please grab a button to post either on your blog homepage or within the post you are linking. And if you are featured (or have been in the past), feel free to grab the 'featured' button too. (Thanks to my lovely friend Michele for making those for me!)

Now, time to catch up a bit:

From 2 weeks ago, my favourite post was the 5 best presents for toddlers by Taming the Goblin - I wholeheartedly agree with her list!

From last week's link party, my favourite was this Christmas lights scavenger hunt by The Golden Gleam - what a fun idea for the holiday season!

Ready to join the party?

How did your kids play outdoors this week?

Share your ideas for outdoor play activities with us every week! The linky goes live each Friday at 12:01 GMT+1. Here are just a few guidelines for sharing.

  • Any kind of children's outdoor play is welcome. If it happened outside, then please link it up!
  • Please do not share any competitions, promotions, or posts that are not related to Outdoor Play.
  • Please remember to link back to this post and help us spread the word about the importance (and fun!) of outdoor play! You can grab my button from the sidebar or copy and paste the 'Outdoor Play Party' button below. 
  • Each week we will feature an activity from the previous week. By contributing you are giving permission for an image and link to your post to be republished.