Spring Crafts for Kids

InlandMoms Spring

Since Spring begins this week I’d like to show you how to make some Window Clings and Ribbon Baskets with your kids to help you prepare for the season.

My oldest child made the Window Clings as part of her science experiment this year and we had so much fun the first time, we decided to make them again!  There were some things I wanted to do with her batch that I couldn’t because it was her project so this allowed me to get creative with this craft.

Decorating berry baskets was something we used to do in grade school, using strips of construction paper instead of ribbon or yarn.  I like this craft because its cheap, you use what you have, and your creativity is the limit!

Window Clings from KidScience App

1.5 oz (6 packets) plain, unflavored gelatin
food coloring
drinking straw
cookie cutters
glitter (optional)


Boil 4 cups of water.  Open the unflavored gelatin packets into a small bowl.  Stirring as you go, slowly pour the gelatin into the boiling water.  Stir well until the gelatin has dissolved.  If there are any bubbles, remove them with a spoon.

InlandMoms WindowClingsAllow the gelatin to cool a bit, then pour the liquid gelatin into two large pans so that the liquid measures 1-1.5 cm deep.

If using glitter, now is the time to sprinkle glitter onto one of your pansof gelatin…or both, the diffusion with the food coloring will still occur with the glitter pans but the glitter clings can only be hung outside (or facing in) so that is why I only do one pan.

Let the gelatin harden in both pans.  This should take about an hour or so.  Using one end of a straw poke holes straight into the gelatin but not all the way to the bottom.  Spin the straw, then use a toothpick or skewer to pull out the gelatin plug you’ve made.  Sometimes I would just tilt the straw and use it to pull out the plugs as well.  Poke lots of holes into the gelatin a few centimeters apart.  The food coloring will diffuse in the glitter pan as well if you want to make a few holes in that one.

Add a drop of food coloring to each hole in the gelatin.  Keep the shapes of your cutters in mind if you want to make a shape a certain color.  Science experiment spoiler alert!: Greens and yellows diffuse the best and fastest, then blue, and red not so much.

Let the pans sit for 24 hours, then use cookie cutters to cut shapes from both pans of gelatin and carefully remove them with a spatula.  I remove them all at once onto a cookie sheet so that I can take them all to decorate my windows instead of one at a time.  The food coloring will continue to diffuse while the clings are on your windows.  When they dry, peel them off the windows.  The clings will last 3-4 days.

InlandMoms RibbonBasketsRibbon Baskets

What You’ll Need
plastic berry baskets
ribbon or yarn
pipe cleaners (optional)

Thread your ribbon or yarn through the hole of your basket, starting at the bottom.  Again, you can make these very simple by skipping a few and making large weaves or more intricate by weaving through each opening.

With my yarn basket, I wove through each opening, skipping one as I got three lines on each side so that I would have an alternating pattern (I used a total of nine lines).  I used a simpler pattern in the middle (two lines of four) because it was a little tricky weaving through the “product of USA” on the basket.  I used the same pattern on the top portion of my basket as the bottom.  I tied the yarn to the basket as I began to keep it in place.  I also pre wrapped the yarn around my basket to get an estimation of how much yarn to use so I could pre cut it to make it easier for weaving.

I used the pipe cleaners to make my handles.  Those were the one thing I had to buy which was surprising considering all the odds and ends I have.  They are very easy to work with and hook onto the baskets with ease.

With the pastel basket, I used 6 different 3/8” ribbon and threaded them alternately.  I tied yarn to the ends of the ribbon and then tied it to the basket to keep it in place.  When finished with a row, use a small dab of glue to fix the ribbon to itself to keep it in place.

With my hot pink basket, I used a 7/8” ribbon on the top (with which you can make the cutest ruching effect) and a 5/8” for the bottom which lays perfectly in that opening.  I decided not to use a handle on this basket.  It is being used to keep my little girl’s various notebooks organized.




California Family Sues Petco After Child Dies From Rat-Bite Fever Infection

A California family is suing Petco after their 10 year old son died from a bacterial infection he contacted from his pet rat.   The boy took the rat home May 27, 2013, and woke up on June 11 in severe pain with a fever and stomach problems.   He died the next day.  The San Diego family is blaming Petco for the death of their son.



Photo Credit: Gomez Trials Attorney

According to Fox News:


A San Diego family is suing Petco after the death of their 10-year-old son from a bacterial infection they say he contracted from his pet rat.

Attorney John Gomez told The Associated Press on Tuesday that his firm filed the lawsuit Monday in San Diego County seeking an unspecified amount for the suffering endured by the Pankey family, whose son, Aidan, died June 12, 2013, hours after he was rushed to the hospital with severe stomach pains.

The San Diego County medical examiner’s office ruled that the cause of death was streptobacillus moniliformis infection, commonly known as rat-bite fever, after exposure to an infected rat.

The retailer in a statement expressed its condolences.

“We are deeply saddened by the Pankey family’s tragic loss,” Petco said in a statement. “The health and safety of people and pets is always a top priority, and we take the family’s concerns very seriously.”

The boy’s grandmother purchased the male rat, which Aidan named Alex, because her only grandson wanted a mate for his female rat, Gomez said. The boy took the rat home May 27, 2013, and woke up the night of June 11 in severe pain with a fever and stomach problems. He was pale, lethargic and could barely walk, according to the lawsuit. He died at 1:09 a.m. the next day.

“He was a bright, energetic, friendly, happy kid who actually had a prior rat, who was a female, and he had this idea in his young head of having his female rat get married,” Gomez said.

The lawsuit was not filed until now because attorneys were awaiting the lab results from the federal Centers for Disease Control, which tested the rat to confirm it was infected, Gomez said. The agency could not immediately confirm the results Tuesday.

Gomez said the Pankey family was not giving interviews, but they are devastated by the death of their only son and want to raise awareness among parents.

“It’s a means to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” Gomez said of the lawsuit. “Apparently there was some breakdown in procedures. They want tighter controls.”

According to the lawsuit, the rat appeared safe. But the lawsuit says Petco should have known about the rodent’s health and did not adequately test for the disease. It also says that negligence led to the boy’s death, which has caused his parents, Andrew Pankey and Vanessa Sauer, emotional and economic hardship, and that the retailer did not post adequate warnings about the potential risks, especially for children.

Petco Animal Supplies Inc. said it is “in the process of investigating these claims and will respond appropriately when we have more information.”

According to the CDC, people can contract rat-bite fever from bites or scratches from infected rodents, such as rats, mice and gerbils, or even just by handling an animal with the disease without a bite or scratch. It can also be contracted by consuming food or drink contaminated with the bacteria. It is not spread from person to person.

Antibiotics, such as penicillin, are highly effective at treating rat-bite fever, and it is rarely fatal, according to the CDC.

The CDC says those at higher risk of contracting the illness are people with pet rats or who work with rats in laboratories or pet stores, or live in rat-infested buildings. The agency recommends that people who handle rats or clean their cages wear protective gloves, wash their hands regularly and avoid touching their mouths with their hands after being in contact with rodents.

Petco also mentions preventative measures for rat-bite fever in information it posts online and provides in stores. The company warns that all rats are potential carriers and that pregnant women, children under the age of five and people with weakened immune systems should contact their doctor before buying a rat and “should consider not having a rat as a pet.”

Only about 200 cases of rat-bite fever had been documented in the U.S. as of 2004, according to the Center for Food Security and Public Health at Iowa State University. Scientists believe the disease may be underdiagnosed because it is hard to detect and responds to commonly used antibiotics. But the number of cases, they say, may be increasing, especially among children, with the growing popularity of rats as pets.

Rat Bite Symptoms according to the CDC:

Symptoms and signs of streptobacillary RBF within 3 days:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Rash

If you have symptoms of rat-bite fever after exposure to rats or other rodents, contact your health care provider immediately and let your provider know you have been exposed to rodents.  The doctor will prescribe antibiotics to cure disease.

Question: Does your kid own a pet rat?   Do you think Petco is responsible?

Youth Scholarships and Vocational Grants

The Elks National Foundation provides more than $3.74 million in college scholarships each year through its three scholarship programs:  Most Valuable Student, Legacy Awards & Emergency Grants.  For additional details visit, www.elks.org.

Photo Credit: Elks Foundation

Photo Credit: Elks Foundation

Youth Spark Closes Gap In Innovation

Do you want to help your child ages 3-24 discover their passion in Computer Technology fields? Visit Youth Spark Hub to help your child close the gap on their technology skills.  In the future companies will require more employees with computer skills in the workplace. However, studies show that some of our children don’t have the interest or are lacking access to valuable resources, training and skills to empower our youth to change the world.

Photo Credit: Microsoft/Youthspark

Photo Credit: Microsoft/Youthspark

We had the opportunity to join a Youth Spark roundtable in Southern California and witnessed the impact the program is making in the lives of our children.   We learned that one of the areas that are hardest hit is our young adults.   After youth graduate from high school many of our kids are making a decision not to pursue college or are unable to find employment after they graduate.

Through Youth Spark youth ages 6-24 can  learn about cool new technologies, build valuable skills, and imagine ways to create innovative apps. Youth Spark also will also provide access to free software, computer programming training hubs and show you how other youth around the world are changing the world.   It is a great place for youth to get inspired about careers in Technology and learn about computers even if you don’t know where to start.

For additional information visit the YouthSpark Hub.


YouthSpark Grants

Microsoft provides cash grants to eligible organizations whose missions and activities support youth development. For more information, see our Nonprofit FAQ.

Microsoft also donates software and services to a broad array of eligible nonprofit organizations. Visit software donation page for more information on eligibility and how to apply.