Celebrate Earth Day (April 22th)

Every year on April 22, Earth Day marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. On that day, a number of environmental actions take place, obviously – online or in person. It is also a good day to celebrate Earth, our Environment and Biodiversity.

Here are a few ideas of celebration for children and grownups !

Recycled crafts

You could try making recycled paper from egg cartons or old drawings (warning : it’s a very messy craft and you’ll have paper drying for a little while, but it’s super cool !). When it’s all dry, decorate the card you made and send love to your friends and family !

And why not include flower petals to make your recycled cards even cooler – or even small seeds so they can plant the card – and turn them into flowers ? Bees would love that – and we love bees.

If you’re not into the messy part of recycling, turn old magazines into cute little baskets – here’s how.

Recycled magazine paper basket
I liked the colors on that catalogue – the paper was quite nice and sturdy, it was perfect for this project !

You’ll find more crafts ideas using the content of your recycle bin on my Pinterest board here.

Coloring page

There is no passenger on Spaceship Earth. We’re all crew. – Marshall McLuhan

I designed a cool (according to myself) Earth Day coloring page – and added some cool (according to myself) quotes. You can get them all here !

(You can get all my other coloring pages here)

Have cookies

My friend Veronica makes the cutest cookies (and they taste good too!) and this month she made amazing Earth Day ones.

Things to listen to

We’re big fans of podcasts in this family ! Because we are French, our favourite are in this language. On environmental subjects, my children (especially my 7 years old daughter) likes OLMA (about Science in general, but very Ecology oriented) and Bestioles (fun and true stories about animals).

Things to watch

Ecology can be quite stressful to children – my daughter felt very depressed after we watched Our Planet for example. She still loved it, but she needed to find ways to help.

We’ve loved (in French) the latest season of C’est Toujours Pas Sorcier ! They cover a variety of subjects, but for Earth Day we’d watch the ones about atmospheric pollution, recycling, and the coral reefs and how to preserve them.

Saison 3 de C'est toujours pas sorcier - france.tv

Being part of the change

We tried to find ways to help her feel empowered about the environment – and I must say, apart from recycling, explaining why we did not buy as much plastic stuff as she’d like, and promising to get involved in associations (which we haven’t done yet because of covid and because she’s just 7), I’m at a loss here. I’d love to hear your ideas !

Easy Spring crafts for locked down children

As a homeschooling mom (and former high school teacher), I can tell you : staying at home with your children is HARD, especially when trying to get stuff done at the same time. Which is why I tried to almost never do it before lockdown. Museums, parks, playgrounds, friends’ houses, “real” homeschooling is very seldom at home.

I feel you.

I also feel myself : lockdown means no museums, fewer accessible parks and no friends’ houses, and this is hard.

Fortunately for me, I do have a lot of practice in crafts at home. Fortunately for you, I like to share.

I try to celebrate time and seasons, because I believe this enables children to build their time litteracy, and because it helps my creativity. Here are a few Spring crafts to try with your children !

Those are crafts we made between last year’s lockdown and this one, with my children and sometimes their friends ( 3 to 7).

Paper flowers for your windows

You will need white and colored paper, cissors and a glue stick.

Cut 2 (ideally identical) circles for the heart of the flower, and several paper strips for the petals.
Then fold (loosely) the strips and glue them to one of the circles. When your flower is finished, glue the second circle on top.

Ta-da !

3-years-old Arthur making a paper flower all by himself
Finished paper flower

These flower make a cute spring window decor ! Use blue tak or double sided tape to secure them to the window, and add a masking tape, chalk marker or paper stem if you like.
You can even add spring insects another day !

Family hands birds

You will need construction paper (white or colored) or cereal boxes, paint or markers, feathers, twigs, bits of yarn, and whatever you like.

Ask each member of the family to draw around their hands, then carefully cut the hands out (the paper ones, please). Using the thumb as a neck / head, transform the paper hands into birds ! You can use paints (acrylics or watercolor or whatever you have around), markers, or anything really.

Glue the bords on a large construction paper, and build a comfy nest for your bird family ! We used soft foam stickers, feathers , little bits of yarn, but you could add pompoms, cotton balls, anything you have lying around.

I’ve found this craft to be pretty therapeutic too, helping my anxious children feel safe at home.

Spring paint butterflies

This craft can be a bit messy, but it’s a lot of fun – and the results can be very pretty !

I made these butterflies, not my children. I mean, I made my children, AND the butterflies, but the children did not make these butterflies. They did make some butterflies though. Just not these ones.

You will need construction paper (or cereal boxes), paint (I used acrylics paints, you could use poster paint or finger paints or whatever. It needs to come in tubes / pots though, no watercolor palettes for this craft!)

Choose a few color that go well together. Try not to mix complementary colors such as green and red, blue and orange, purple and yellow, as you’d get a whole lot of muddy brown butterflies. We added gold and silver acrylics because I just love those.

Fold your paper in two – I used A4 sheets, cut lenghtwiise and then folded lentghwise again – then open it again.
On one side of the fold, drop blobs of paint, associating the colours as you like, then fold the paper and press to mix / spread the paint.

When you open your paper, you should see something pretty !

Add more paint if needed or until you’re bored with it.

Leave the papers dry (open !) while you clean the brushes, the table, floor, chairs, your children’s hands, their hair, and your bathroom.

When your colorful papers are dry, fold them again and draw half butterflies on the folded side (this is important). Cut them out (paper still folded) and open : voilà ! You just made a colorful, perfectly symmetrical fluttery butterfly !

Add a few more, glue them on a card (you can clue both sides or just one, like I did) and… Send your card to someone who loves Spring !

These butterflies were made by my 7 years old daughter. As you can see, we did try the green-and-red thing because my daughter never listens to my advice.

If you’re like me, you’ll keep the remaining painted papers for another craft, because they’re so pretty.

Three 3 easy spring crafts

Send love to your favourite people this Valentine’s Day

French people only typically celebrate the romantic / commercial version of Valentine’s Day. Which is a shame because now more than ever, we need love and we need to spread it !

While we can’t hug our loved ones in this cold winter, I decided to celebrate my friends, family (and also my lover who I happened to marry almost 8 years ago now) !

I designed Valentine’s day cards to print, color, cut and send (or give), in French and English. Some are inspired by my friend Veronica’s amazing cookies – another cool way to send love to people. Food. I know right !

Click here to get your free Valentine’s day coloring pages !

Show me your finished cards on social media (or email me ! I answer !). Also, remember to get in touch if you need a custom card / coloring page for any occasion !

Birthday parties in Covid times

Covid has been a part of our life for almost a year now, and I don’t know about you, but I’m fed up with it. These are hard times for everyone, but especially for children : they have even less control on their lives (and the situation) than our adult selves, and one year is a HUGE amount of time when you’re four, or five, or even 10. Distance learning is hard, ever changing sanitary protocols in open schools is hard as well, having stressed parents is hard. Having your birthday party cancelled is awful when you turn 6. Or 7. Or 5. Well, you get the idea.

Covid will be here a few more months (I don’t want to write years).

In my opinion, children need to celebrate their birthdays. They need to be celebrated and feel special and see their friends and get presents. Not necessarily expensive presents, a thousand friends and a huge celebration, but still. Sometimes a skype session with your grandparents is not enough !

I am NOT suggesting you should have a huge party, disrespect your local social distancing / lockdown / curfew rules or anything like that ! Nor encouraging you to go beyond your own limitations or do anything you’re not comfortable with. I just want to offer you a few ideas if you decide to have a safe-but-still-cool birthday celebration.

Location and guests

Most experts say outdoors is safer, because more space means easier social distancing, and there’s lots of air.

Limit your invitation to a few best friends instead of inviting the whole class (that’s the French way of doing it anyway). Bonus if the children all go to school together, as you won’t be mixing social bubbles.
If you have a backyard, great ! For most of us in the Paris area who do not, I would recommend your local park / playground. Bonus : as children from the same school typically live in the same area, you all avoid public transportation by walking to the party (and having it in a place you would probably have gone to anyway).

Having people wear masks as much as possible makes it safer – and remember to provide hand gel. (psst : cute masks and hand gel also make nice party favors!)

Some parents may not feel comfortable about sending their kids to a party these days, and that’s okay. You might want to have a chat with them beforehands about the measures you’re taking to avoid contamination. No judgement necessary – everyones tries to do their best for their families.

Food and drinks

Birthday party means birthday cake, full stop.

However, having a child blow (and spit) on a beautiful, big cake before handing everyone a slice does seem a little… 2019.

You could prepare a big cake to share, and a little cupcake on the side to put the candles on.

You could also have no big cakes, but instead cupcakes or custom cookies for everyone !

And why not get some cute, happy-meal style boxes for each guest containing a cupcake, a little water bottle (you could customize the label for a 100% instagrammable effect), sweets, party favors, you name it ! That way you avoid glass sharing, cake touching etc. Be careful to write names on everything – or provide markers for kids to do it themselves.

Jade at Party Box Paris can help you with that !

Games and activities

If your party is in the summer, a pool party / water games theme is just perfect.

For those of us who gave birth in the winter (october and february babies here !), we can still have a cool party – remember there is no bad weather, just inadapted clothes.

Again, be clear with the guests’ parents beforehands that you will need the children dressed appropriately for an afternoon outside – and that you might have to change the date in case it’s pouring. Unless you want to wear your prettiest wellies, umbrellas and rain suits to have a puddles party ! Some smaller children would just LOVE this.

Here are a few outdoors ideas that still work when it’s cold !

  • Bubbles ! You could buy big bubble wands and give one to each child as a party favor (to avoid sharing), get a set to make GIANT bubbles, or even have a professional bubble show like Sarah’s !
  • Sidewalk chalks : again, a cool party game doubling as a party favor. Have everyone draw the birthday child, or self portraits, or write compliments to each other. Having the birthday child lie on the ground (if it’s dry…) and drawing a story arond them will make cool photos ! BONUS : if you walk by often, you will see the drawings for a few days.
  • Treasure Hunt : This one is always a hit, especially if party favors are to be found at the end of the hunt. My children are young, so I do a very simple version with things to find and names to write on a collective spreadsheet, but you could have riddles, puzzles and ciphers if that’s your thing !
  • Pinata : my children just love this activity, so I HAD to include it here. Just remember to have everyone wash their hands before they have a turn !
  • Mud pies / potions / jumping in puddles : Take advantage of being outdoors and get messy ! This will make your party a day to remember (you may warn parents in advance and ask for a set of clean clothes though)
  • A Motor Skills relay race : Jum from hoop to hoop, climb the ladder, slide the toboggan, run around the swings, accross the sandpit and back, then the next child goes under everyone’s cheers. A nice way to burn off some energy and get warmer !
  • Facepainting / Glitter tattoos : Glitter tattoos are especially appropriate these days, because everything is either one-use or cleaned with 70% alcool between each child. If you prefer facepaints, do know that I also have a safety protocol so I can paint children without risk – even masked ones !

Party favors

My friend Elise made custom masks and hand gel bottles as her party favors and I just LOVED the idea !

Have you had a birthday party since March ? Or did you have to cancel ? How did you manage ? Share your ideas and thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook group English Speaking Families in Paris – Kids Party Tips & Ideas !

Mr and Mrs Gingerbread (free printable)

I miss hugs ! Do you miss hugs ?

gingerbread man and gingerbread woman coloring page

I’m lucky to live with a loving husband and two adorable hugging machines, but still. I miss hugging my friends, and having fun together, and I miss restaurants.
This coloring page was inspired by cookies made by Veronica at Very Vero – Sweets by design. Because what’s almost like a hug for your belly ? You’re right, a beautiful AND delicious christmas cookie.

If you wonder what their story is, head to the Party Smarty facebook page on Saturday 12th of December 2020 at 3pm for a special live balloon storytime !

And of course, you can download your coloring page by clicking here . Have fun !

Little girl gingerbread people facepainting
My daughter loved this coloring page so much she had to have it painted !

10 dinosaurs coloring book

Do you know what’s cool about dinosaurs ?
OK, OK. There are a lot of things about dinosaurs. But one cool thing is that we mostly have no idea what colour(s) they were !

L’attribut alt de cette image est vide, son nom de fichier est Dinosaurs-EN-1024x724.jpg.

Which is super cool, because it means you can get all of your very favourite colors out, print those cool dinos I drew for you, and get crazy ! What do you mean, T REX isn’t light teal with purple hearts all over ? He might as well be.


Download your FREE 10 dinos coloring book (and subscribe to my newsletter) and give them all the colors they deserve !

Don’t forget to share your colorful dinos on your social media – and tag me so I can see every single one of them !