Monday, January 28, 2013

Your Pre-Tween's Unpredictable Behavior

4 Ways to Manage Your Pre-Tween's Unpredictable Behavior

Mature one minute, having a meltdown the next. Welcome to the erratic behavior of a pre-tween. Experts demystify this new phase.
child brushing hair
Within just half an hour, my son, Jack, 8, pours his little sister some milk, begs me to let him walk to the bus stop by himself, fights with his younger brother over an Iron Man toy, and then zones out, almost missing the bus. Jack's behavior swings from that of pre-tween to preschooler. What gives?

"At 7 and 8, a child's brain is in the midst of huge shifts," explains Caron Farrell, M.D., Ph.D., a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Seton Mind Institute, in Austin. "It's almost as if children this age see how older kids and adults act, and want to behave that way—but after a certain amount of time their brain says, 'I'm done!' " Plus, while they have the physical power to handle all sorts of tasks, their mental abilities and concentration still lag. We'll help you and your kid through this frustrating time.

Increase Responsibility
New chores will help bolster his concentration skills and give him the confidence he needs to move into the tween years, says Russell Reiff, M.D., a developmental pediatrician at Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco. Brainstorm responsibilities that you both think he might be able to handle, such as packing his lunch, folding his laundry, or cleaning his room. Praise his effort—not the end result. "A 7-year-old isn't going to put away his clean clothes as neatly as you would, at least at first, but the point isn't perfection, it's skill-building," says Dr. Reiff.

If your child suggests a task that isn't safe for kids his age—like making pancakes on the stove or walking to the park on his own—don't dismiss his idea with "you're not old enough yet." Instead, tell him why the task is unsafe and when the two of you could discuss it again.

Rethink Routines
You might think that your child is too old for routines and that she should be able to handle bedtime or getting ready for school without constant reminders from you. But she needs structure now even more than ever. That's because her "executive function" skills—the ability to organize and break down the steps of a task—are still maturing. They're only slightly more advanced than they were at age 5 or 6, although her responsibilities have grown far more complex than they were in kindergarten, says Dr. Farrell.

For instance, Lauren Spataro, of Darien, Connecticut, had to keep tabs on her 8-year-old daughter, Gracie, for several weeks before she got the hang of her new after-school routine. "In the beginning of the school year, I'd talk her through opening her backpack, taking out her lunch box and throwing away trash, putting the reusable containers in the sink, and getting her homework out of her binder," she says. "Now she knows the drill, but I was surprised by how long it took to get there." One strategy to help a child commit a routine to memory: Have her write down each step—and post the list in her bedroom or on the fridge.

Encourage Empathy
Up until this point, kids have still been pretty egocentric. Suddenly, they develop a greater ability to put themselves in other people's shoes. "This marks a huge leap in their moral development," says Dr. Farrell. "No longer do they obey rules just because they don't want to be punished. Now they obey rules because they don't want to hurt other people's feelings or—more important—they want other people's approval, especially that of their teachers."

To promote this behavior, Dr. Farrell suggests praising your child when he does something kindhearted, whether it's pushing his little sister on the swings at the park or holding the door open for another family at the mall. It's also a good time to help a charity. For instance, you could ask him to choose between collecting clothing donations for a homeless shelter or selling hot chocolate at a yard sale to raise money as a family for the local children's hospital.

Play Together
In public, your 8-year-old may not even want you to stand next to her, but don't assume she feels the same way at home. In fact, kids this age still enjoy spending time with their parents, says Dr. Reiff. Change your family activities so they seem more "grown-up" to your child. For instance, swap Chutes and Ladders for Uno, or instead of reading a single story at bedtime, tackle a chapter of a book like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which your child might not be up to reading on her own.

Originally published in the November 2012 issue of Parents magazine.

Friday, January 25, 2013

"I'm Bored!"

It’s catching. Boredom is catching. Jeremy complained so regularly about being bored that his parents became bored with hearing about it. Ellie’s fifth grade class insisted that their lessons were boring so frequently that their teacher got bored with kids who want to be entertained full time. Jerry repeated why his job was boring so often that his wife got bored hearing about it. She described how boring her daily commute was so regularly that Jerry got bored hearing about that. Yes, boredom can be catching. And it can become a debilitating habit.

Boredom is a super tool to use when you want to avoid responsibility or manipulate others.

Charlie, 14, appeared to believe that boredom relieved him of responsibility and allowed him to blame others for his misconduct. Charlie and his friends had done minor damage to a neighbor’s home. The homeowner, instead of calling the police, had challenged the boys to think of a way to make amends. They decided each of them would do two hours of yard work as restitution. That was okay with the homeowner, but while the others were pulling weeds and picking up sticks, Charlie was wandering around, humming. When the homeowner asked why he had left his job he said he couldn’t do it because it was boring, and he went home. His mother, it was reported, commiserated with him because the homeowner was just trying to get free yard work and should have paid him. Bad news - boredom used as a crutch for failure and condoned by a parent whose intent may have been good. But, the impact of her overindulgence does not bode well for this boy.

Boredom Can Be Positive

Too bad for Charlie, because boredom can be such a helpful sign to people at any age. It is a signal for us to take action. It says: Look around. What can I learn? How can I make this an enjoyable experience? Get up and do something Why do I get myself stuck in this situation again and again? Have I made boredom a habit? Time to get creative!

How Much Is Enough Boredom?

Charlie’s mom let him use boredom to become irresponsible. Danny’s mom has a different approach. She welcomes boredom. When Danny says he’s bored, she says things like: Great – this is your opportunity to do something you have been wanting or needing to do. Do you want to help me sweep the garage? How long are you going to feel bored before you do something about it?

Is this a good time for you to do some day dreaming? Do you have a book or a project that isn’t finished? Shall we tell each other stories? Think of four things you could do and come tell me about them.

Whatever your approach, remember that children need to learn that boredom doesn’t need to be catching and that it shouldn’t become a habit. They need to understand that feeling bored is a signal that they have an opportunity. And children deserve to have parents who are NOT entertainment machines. You can read more about the results of doing things for children that they should be doing for themselves in the How Much Is Enough? book by Jean Illsley Clarke Ph.D., Connie Dawson Ph.D., and David J. Bredehoft Ph.D.

This article appears here from

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Valentine Project Ideas

I thought I'd throw out a list of ideas to get you started thinking about projects for Valentine's Day. We'd often start these projects the last week in January and continue right up to the big day. Spread the love around and enjoy!!

Homemade Cards
How can you miss with a handmade card? I would make sure we had enough paper, doilies, special stickers, ribbons, buttons, glue sticks, glitter, etc. on hand. We'd get our tub of supplies out and go to it. Writing our own personal messages and poetry. Fun to make, fun to give and a cherished memento for the recipient.

Many Hearts Wreath
We'd often make a wreath for special occasions or celebrations. A wreath base was often a paper plate with the inside area cut out or a ring cut from recycled cardboard. Cut out hearts and embellishments are added to the wreath base. Add ribbon and personal wishes to brighten any door or entry area. We also would make a special wreath for mom and dad by tracing the children's hands from pink, white and red paper. They would write a personal message or poem and decorate. These are sweet!

Paper Bouquet
A bouquet of paper flowers is a nice day brightener! Whether the flowers are simple paper cutouts attached to a pipe cleaner stem or an intricate tissue paper bloom they are sure to bring a bright spot to anyone. Gather several flowers to place in a vase or place them into a styrofoam base inside a decorated pot. This project has all kinds of possibilities and works well for many abilities. Add embellishments to bring depth and interest to the flowers.

Valentine Tic Tac Toe
If you read our homemade game article, you'll recall that making your own Tic-Tac-Toe game is easy and fun. You can use candy hearts or make special Valentine markers for your game.

Heart Suncatchers
We also did an article about making suncatchers. For valentines we used the versatile clear contact paper, heart shaped cut outs, stickers and glitter to create decorations for our windows during this season.

Valentine Card Holders
I remember each year at school creating a card holder either out of a box (great recycling project) or a medium sized bag. We started this tradition even before the children had any school experiences and because we home schooled for years I kept this one going. Each child decorated their box or bag as they saw fit, making sure we had a large opening for all sized cards and treats that might be deposited for Valentine's Day. We'd place their finished card holder on the mantle. They were always thrilled that their holder was filled with cards, messages, small treats and games or toys on Valentine's day. And they were very "sneaky" about making sure that a personal card was dropped in their sibling's card holder. Of course, I had to make one too - - - you know I love to join in the fun!

Valentine Coupon Book
A great gift for parents, grandparents or other family members, a Valentine Coupon Book was a personal creation that had coupons for all types of things that the children could do for the recipient including hugs, help with chores, volunteer with a special project, etc. They liked to use the computer to create their coupons and then assemble them with a special homemade cover.

Homemade Cookie Valentine
Using our favorite cookie recipe we'd simply make cookies in a heart shape and present them in a special Valentine bag or box - hand decorated of course. If we knew that the recipient loved a certain type of cookie we'd make that type. Also, we liked to make giant sized cookies with special decorations and message written right on the cookie with icing. If you attempt the giant cookie you'll need to adjust your baking time accordingly.

Lollipop Flower Valentine
This is a sweet treat for a friend or family member . . . and we made these for classroom valentines a few times as well. You'll need Tootsie Pops or another type of lollipop, craft weight paper - construction or card stock paper works best, scissors, markers, tape and a glue stick. Cut out a large flower shape from the paper, glue on a leaf shape to the bottom side of the flower, insert the pop through the center of the flower. We put our valentine message on the leaf with marker or use a piece of wide ribbon as the leaf. Add details to the flower with a marker. The pop becomes the center of the flower. To keep the flower attached to the pop for presentation we used a little tape to secure it.

Valentine Treasure Hunt
This is a game we play on special occasions and adjust it to match the theme. For Valentine's Day I wrote clues on hearts or colored paper. Children were off to searching for those hearts through out the house until they reached a special treasure. This was a game that included everyone and cooperation from all three siblings were needed to reach their goal. My game rule is that everyone must get to each clue together and the treasure is opened when all were present. If I said to them "we're going on a treasure hunt today" they were super excited! It was as much about the process of searching and cracking the clues as it was about the treasure itself.

Do you have some Valentine projects to share? Please post a comment so everyone can enjoy!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Hand Print Calendar


From our friends at Regarding Nannies

There are certain things that touch a parents heart in a way that nothing else can and it seems that their “handprint” is one of those things. Add a sentimental poem and you have a keepsake.
So what’s better than a handprint and a sentimental poem?

Well 12 more, made into art and put into a calendar of course.
Ideally, you would start this in January so the parent can actually see how the child has grown through the year, but you could also do this at anytime. A great gift idea for parents, nanny or family members.

The complete directions for this project can be found here on Little including a link to the printable pages.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Get Organized!

Keeping thing organized makes life a little easier. We all know this but how do we organize in a way that is child friendly and enlists their cooperation. Here are a few easy tips to get you started on the right path.

A Place for Everything - Having a place for everything is vital to encouraging all family members to maintain an organized household. Children's items should be at their level. We had a locker style cupboard for each child where their coat, boots, hat, mittens, etc. had a home. There was no reason for a coat on the floor or boot out so it could be tripped over. That doesn't mean it didn't happen from time to time, but then it was just a matter of reminding the child they were responsible for getting their items back into their locker. Backpacks came to the kitchen table to be reviewed before homework was done. By the morning the backpack was in their locker ready to go for the day. We created places with easy access for toys, games, art supplies, etc. Some items were needed to be stored out of children's reach and became the adults responsibility to retrieve.
Taming Paper Clutter - Whether it's information from school or the daily mail, paper can take over if you aren't prepared with a way to deal with it. I liked having a plastic expandable folder for each child and to help me keep them straight they were each a different color. This made it so easy to file away items for future reference. If a permission slip or other time sensitive item came home we dealt with it immediately often being placed back into the child's backpack for return to school the next day. However, if it was something that needed to be handled for a later date I put a post-it flag on it making sure it was in the front of the folder visible to everyone. Mail coming into the house was sorted and placed in appropriate trays to be handled. The typical rule is once you touch something you should deal with it immediately - file, trash/recycle or manage immediately. This is good to keep in mind. I found that I didn't always have time to deal with it immediately and thus the sorting trays became a good option. Periodically take time to clean out trays or children's folders and recycle paper.
Room to Grow - Children's rooms need to be child friendly and able to grow with them. So to the organization in their room. As the children got older we went from a toy box and small table to a desk and shelf system for their personal or school related items. Look for ways to make it work over time and be age appropriate. Having their own laundry basket or hamper was started when they were older toddlers and preschool age. Closet should be organized so that they can help adults take care of clothing, shoes and accessories. This system needs to grow with them too. There are all kinds of containers that can be helpful at different stages. Children's rooms should have some space for play or activities. Keeping it organized really helps. Provide for opportunities for a child's personal style to shine through as well. Maybe their favorite color for containers or hangers, or maybe in how they set up and accessorize their desk. When they feel connected to their space with easy access storage they will be more likely to keep it tidy.
Keepsake Keepers - There are going to be items that you and/or the children will want to save. Each child had their own Keepsake Keeper to put items in and their parents had another for items they felt they wanted to keep that wasn't already saved by each child. While an essay on frogs with original art wasn't in the child's "to save" file, Mom really wanted that kept. This opened the door for to deal with other items appropriately. We tried to have a sort through weekly. Then periodically - usually once a year - review all the items in your containers. It's a good idea to be sure you want to save those items. Each child had their container in their closet. Their parents kept one for each child in their basement storage area. It's fun to open up the containers and relieve the memories.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Let it Snow: Activities for Everyone

Since winter and snow are such a big part of living in Minnesota we embraced it with activities that kept us busy both outdoors and inside. Here are a few of my favorites. We'd love to hear from you - share your favorite snow related activities.

Snow Scientist at Work
Science of Snow - Snow is fascinating!
Take the opportunity to explore the properties and note the differences each snowfall. We had a couple of plastic tubs, magnifying glass, rulers, yard sticks, black felt and a journal book as part of our snow science kit. During or after a snowfall we'd be out gathering a nice sample of snow for examination. When the weather was cooperative we did our experimentation outdoors but sometime we just scooped up a nice tub of snow to bring indoors. Science experiments included observing differences in individual snow flakes using the magnifying glass and the black felt.
Viewing the snow flakes on a black or dark background is best for noting each flakes unique look. Do this outdoors while it is snowing. We'd also measure the depth of the snow and test the packing property. Measuring rates of melting is always fascinating - get a good amount of snow in the plastic tubs, measure the depth of that snow and then take readings every minute or so. On occasion, when the idea struck the children, we'd have a tub of snow melting in different rooms. Then there would be a very excited meeting to discover which room's snow melted quickest and then the whys would start, which lead to more research. We kept a Snow Journal with details of different snows, dated all our entries and used drawings along with photos to capture the moment. I've done these snow related experiments with infants through school age children. Take the children's lead - they'll come up with questions and ideas that will keep the activity going and changing.

Torn Paper Masterpiece
Torn Paper Creation
This is a favorite from my own schooldays and one the children loved to do often. You need a dark piece of construction paper as your background, white construction paper and other colors to add interest. No scissors are needed and really tests patience as well as small motor coordination. Simply tear paper and glue down to create your masterpiece. This is fun to do any day or any season. Younger children may need a little help. They can tear the paper into small bits to be then layered for the shapes they want or tear the shape carefully out of the paper - both techniques work well. These technique works very well for mosaic art and we found ourselves tearing paper to have on hand for future use. I stored torn paper in zip lock bags. Hint: Sometimes tearing paper is very therapeutic for children and even for adults!

Shaving Cream Experience
Shaving Cream Exploration
A lovely pile of shaving cream is just fun to get your hands into. You can sculpt, paint, mush, draw or write into shaving cream. It smells good and is easy to wash off little hands. We often would do this after a day of sledding or snow sculpting outdoors. I do recommend wearing protective covering over clothes. Roll up your sleeves and get into it. Piling the shaving cream on a counter top or table that will tolerate this activity is fun, but you can also have each child use a tray on a covered table top. With their own tray they can keep their activity from sliding into others - which can sometimes be an issue. To paint - add food coloring. If you have a child who wants to participate but doesn't want the shaving cream to touch their hands they could use plastic gloves so they still get the sensation but there is a barrier between them and the shaving cream. You can also try using kitchen utensils to manipulate the shaving cream.

Snow Painting Fun
Outdoor Snow Painting 
Another favorite of ours for outdoor fun. You'll need spray bottles with diluted food coloring and a nice area of snow. I used the large and small sized spray bottles so all hands could enjoy this activity. We also brought out watercolor kits with brushes for smaller creations. Spray bottles give the children the ability to color a larger area of snow. This is wonderful to do on snow people or snow sculptures to add details.
I think of this as the sidewalk chalk activity of winter. Our neighbors enjoyed our creativity for several days afterward. This works best the day after a snow, after it's settled a little.
Depending on how intensely we got involved in this activity I might need to wash mittens and outdoor wear afterward.

Snow World

Snow Sculptures 
Taking it beyond snow people, let the children think of other creations they would like to make such as animals, forts, snow scenes, characters from stories, aliens and so much more are possible. I liked to have several things on hand for good sculpting results - several different sized plastic containers (great for shaping and transferring snow), small scoops and large plastic spoons (helps with detail work), spray bottle with water (good for giving a finish to sculpture or for adding moisture to a dry snow), then for small detail work plastic spoons/forks/knives are great and then we used other objects (sticks, rocks, vegetables, food color, etc.) for final details. I also have a couple small (child friendly) sized shovels for moving snow. Not all snow is good for sculpting. It depends a lot on the moisture content - fluffy snow with low moisture is lovely but doesn't hold together, slushy snow with high moisture is a mess. Test your snow by forming a snowball - if it packs well and stays together you're good to go!

Dry Tempera using Ice Cube Brush
Ice Painting
Painting with ice is great fun for all seasons. I like using dry tempera paint sprinkled onto a large sheet of paper and use an ice cube from the freezer or even better, an icicle from outdoors as the brush. As the ice melts it dissolves the dry paint creating beautiful designs. If I'm using ice cubes I put in a Popsicle stick when freezing them. With an icicle we get out our mittens or gloves - which is great fun! This can be a messy but rewarding project so cover table, floor and clothing well.
We have even painted with snow using this same technique. Sprinkle dry paint onto paper, add a scoop of snow and paint with a large long handled art bush. It doesn't take much snow to wet the paint.
This can get to be a soggy activity if you let it, so keep an eye on the amount of water that's being generated. Enjoy!!

This article was originally posted in December 2010 and brought back by popular interest.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Relaxing Bedtime

Establishing a bedtime routine starts early and is important to continue through the school years. Bedtime can be an opportunity to reconnect with your child at a pace that is predictable and peaceful. If bedtime at your house is less than peaceful here are a few tips that can help you "re-establish" your routine and start fresh.
A night time routine can be a special time to wind down from the day and get close to your child. No matter who is managing the bedtime routine they need to follow the same plan as closely as possible. Your children may have their own agenda which can include night time fears or stalling tactics, but establishing a routine that they can count on with consistency from you get the results you are looking for. A relaxing bedtime routine can look like this:
  • Bedtime should be quiet - no wrestling, tickling or activities that rev up your child. Calm voices, soft lighting, soothing music are some options to set the scene. If you have a protest from your child, remain calm and consistent.
  • Dim light or start turning some lights off signaling the time for bed. If you start this 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime it will become a non-verbal signal that the day is winding down.
  • Include time to brush teeth, take a soothing bath or other self-care options. Do these things as part of the routine nightly so that it children can count on these tasks. It's best if you are close by supervising or helping (depending on the age of the child). Don't just send them off to do it while you are engaged in another activity.
  • Have a quiet time activity reading books or singing. You may want to include other things at this time that incorporate your family traditions and beliefs. Think about how soothing and comforting being tucked in with a soft light on, hearing a story being read, followed by a lullaby and a kiss each night to bring the day to a close in a gentle way.
  • Children who are or have experienced anxiety at night may need more comfort measures. Night lights can be helpful. Leaving their bedroom door ajar with a hall light on is a comforting sign. Promising to check on them before you go to bed is helpful. If you've made this promise, be sure to follow through. You can even share with them in the morning how nice it was to see them sleeping before you went to bed or some similar comment. Some children find soft music a comforting way to fall to sleep.
  • Keep a consistent "lights out" time. Adjust this time as children get older, but be sure to stick to agreed time for bed.
  • When you make bedtime rules be sure to do it during the day and have children work with you to establish the plan. It could be fun to do a daytime role play of your new night time routine so that everyone knows what to expect. Trying to negotiate bedtime rules at bedtime is simply a mess!
Establishing these routines for your child builds a sense of security for them and develops a special time for you to connect with your child at the end of the day. Put this time aside to spend time with your child. Even as they are old enough to get themselves to bed you may want to continue some aspects of your routine as a way to reconnect with them.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Family Friendly Activities for Today

From Minnesota Parent some activites for today, many are ongoing. You'll find links to MN Parent which will then bring you to more details.
Nannies from the Heartland Staff

Friday, January 4th 11:30am
Next Date: Friday, January 11th
Event End Date: Friday, May 17th
Ongoing Event
Kids 5 & under, join us for EGA's Toddler Open Gym in our temperature-controlled Tots Gym on Fridays from 9:30-11:30am! Only $10/kid ($8/EGA Member) for 2-hours of tot-sized fun.
Full Details


Friday, January 4th 9:00pm
Next Date: Friday, January 11th
Event End Date: Friday, May 17th
Ongoing Event
Kids 12 & under, join us for EGA's Open Gym in our temperature-controlled Main Gym on Fridays from 7:00-9:00pm! Only $10/kid ($8/EGA Member) for 2-hours of active fun.
Full Details


Friday, January 4th 11:30pm
Next Date: Friday, January 11th
Event End Date: Friday, March 22nd
Ongoing Event
We have a variety of programs at all levels for International Folk Dance. Discover heritage and dance roots! International folk dances teach ethnic dances from around the world including Eastern Europe, Greece, Israel, Turkey, Armenia, Scandinavia, Brittany, and a little English Country. We encourage dancers to try out most dances by following the leader. The dance instructors rotate every few weeks with a wide variety of talented and experienced teachers. No partner is necessary to participate. All ages are welcome. Tapestry is alcohol-free and family-friendly. Make new friends and learn a new dance style!
Full Details



Friday, January 4th
Next Date: Sunday, December 30th
Event End Date: Tuesday, December 31st
Ongoing Event
Then Now Wow Dedicated entirely to Minnesota history, “Then Now Wow” is the largest exhibit ever created by the Minnesota History Center, with 14,000 square feet of gallery space. Designed primarily for children, visitors of all ages will enjoy exploring Minnesota’s distinctive places from the prairies and forests to the cities, along the way they'll meet the people who have made their homes here. Step inside a prairie sod house; board a Twin Cities streetcar; don a headlamp to venture underground in an Iron Range mine; hitch a ride on a boxcar; sit in a modern tipi; and encounter artifacts and images unique to Minnesota’s diverse people and historic events. “Then Now Wow,” is made possible by the Legacy Amendment's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on Nov.
Full Details


Friday, January 4th
Next Date: Sunday, December 30th
Event End Date: Tuesday, December 31st
Ongoing Event
Weather Permitting: An ongoing exhibit at the Minnesota History Center. Minnesotans learn to cope with extreme temperatures, watch for signs of storms and generally enjoy the outdoors, whether boating on a summer’s day, skiing down a hill or snowmobiling across snowdrifts. Visit the multi-media tornado exhibit, “Get to the Basement,” named the best museum exhibit in the Twin Cities by City Pages. For more information visit
Full Details


Friday, January 4th
Next Date: Sunday, December 30th
Event End Date: Saturday, January 26th
Ongoing Event
Enter the world of The Amazing Castle to become kings, queens, jesters and dragons and create a community of cooperation. Prepare a meal in a cauldron in the castle kitchen, build and fix tools and equipment in the workshops, or meet the Lord and Lady of the castle and the resident friendly dragon. Through the magic of imagination and immersive environments, fantastic costumes, the exhibit explores the interdependence of living in a community.
Full Details

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

January Beach Party!

Looking for some fun activities to shake up the winter blues? Maybe it's just too cold to play outdoors but you need some distractions that are fun and unexpected. Why not try an indoor beach party? We used to have days in January or February that were just too cold to play outdoors so I started having winter beach days. You can make this one big celebration or pick from several ideas to sprinkle throughout the winter. If you go with beachy clothing to enhance your party you might want to raise the temperature in the house so everyone is comfortable. Below are a several ideas to get you started.

Hoola Hoop Hoopla - make sure everyone has plenty of room if you have several hoops going at once. Create different challenges using hoola hoops - obstacle course, spinning challenge, bean bag toss, etc.
Beach Blanket Bingo - Everyone has their own beach blanket, homemade bingo cards with beaching items, use fish crackers for markers (and a little snack).
Limbo - Make your own limbo challenge and don't forget the music!
Water Play - This is great fun but you'll want to spread a tarp out. We used individual dish pans for each child with pouring toys. We also filled the small swimming pool with warm water so each child could enjoy a mid winter splash party. Warning - fun but wet!
Sand Play - Much like above; we'd have pans of sand or a sand in the swimming pool. This takes some planning but is so fun. If you have an area to keep a sand and water play set up throughout the winter it's even better. We used the basement and of course put a large tarp on the floor. Spills needed everybody to help to clean up.
Ball Pool Play - Alternative to water or sand play is to fill the kiddie pool with plastic balls for fun without all the mess.
Beach Ball Bounce - using small or large beach balls, configure a ball bounce obstacle course.

Picnic items are such a treat in the middle of winter. While you're at it spread out a big picnic blanket and eat your lunch or snack in another room.
Summer treats like ice cream or even better icy pops are a special treat.
Fruit kabobs are a healthy summer snack.
Be creative! Ask the children what their favorite summer foods are and then make a menu plan.

Sun Visors - Decorate foam visors with foam stickers or jewels. All the materials are available from your local craft store or online suppliers.
Create Personal T-shirts - You can do tie dying or permanent marker methods for making your own beach day T-shirts.
Sand Painting - You can use colored sand or plan sand on colored paper. Remember it's the process not the product.