A family game: Dare, truth or promise

Mia-Von-Scha-kids2-150x150by Mia Von SchaTransformational Coach, motivational speaker, children’s author, student to two Zen Masters (aka kids), avid cloud watcher and lover of life.

Most people who can still remember their teenage years will remember a sometimes wild and inappropriate game of Dare, Truth and Promise. I enjoy games of all sorts, and I find that most kids do too, so I propose a reinvention of this crazy game with an alternative motive – to get to know your kids, to build family spirit and to help them through things they might be struggling with.

It works like this:

1. You have a bottle or something you can spin (yes, I know you all remember spin the bottle too!) and everyone sits in a circle.

2. You spin the bottle and the person that it lands up facing has to decide whether they are going to choose Dare, Truth or Promise.

3. Once they’ve made their choice, one of the other family members can entice them to do something (Dare), or ask them a question (Truth) or give them a task for the next week (Promise).

Each family member will have a chance to be the one giving the instructions or asking the questions, so the adults don’t get to just boss everyone around like they usually do. Keep this in mind when you think up your tasks – it may come back to bite you!

It can be fun to have a points and rewards system or a penalty for dares attempted or not attempted, truths told or lies caught out, and promises fulfilled or not. The idea though is to keep it light and fun.



Image courtesy of Shutterstock


So that’s the basics of the game as we’ve always played it. Here’s how it can be adapted, keeping in mind that it is only as limited as your imagination.


The idea here is to get your kids out of their comfort zones and help them to grow and extend themselves. Offer enough challenge to be slightly uncomfortable, but not so much as to be distressing. Some ideas…

  •  Help them to face their fears:
    Challenge your child to do something that normally makes them nervous (note – nervous, not terrified) eg. Run into a dark room, go to the toilet by themselves, look under the bed, hold a spider (a harmless one, of course).
  • Help them to step out socially:
    Dare them to tell someone something that they’ve been putting off, to ask someone to be their friend, to write a love letter to someone they.
  • Get them to try new things:
    Dare them to taste a new food, to smell something weird, to touch something with an icky texture.
  • Help them to learn something: Challenge them to learn to spell a difficult word, to memorise something, to tackle a problem, to finish a puzzle, to figure something out.
  • Help them to become independent:
    Challenge them to try tying a shoelace, dressing themselves, washing their own hair, making their own breakfast.

    Get to know your kids by asking questions that they may not always answer or that you wouldn’t normally ask in everyday conversation. Some examples:

  • What is your greatest fear?
  • What is the best dream you’ve ever had?
  • Who makes you smile?
  • What was the last lie you told?
  • What do you love about yourself?
  • Have you ever kissed a boy/girl?
  • What is the naughtiest thing you’ve ever done?
  • What is the kindest thing you’ve ever done?
  • What is something that someone in this family does that makes you mad?
  • What do you love most about living here?

    Get your kids to help out around the house as part of the game (here is where a points system really pays off) or to do something that they normally avoid. Make sure you have a mix of fun and not-so-fun tasks to keep them interested. Remember to choose this option yourself when playing so that they can also get you to do things that they would like. Some examples:

  • Clean up the dog poo for 2 days
  • Help to prepare one dinner
  • Make your bed for a week
  • Bring me tea in bed
  • Find a sneaky way to do something fun for someone in the family
  • De-weed the garden
  • Wash the car
  • Give someone a foot massage
  • Do something nice for a sibling
  • Not bite your nails for a day
  • Remember that it’s a game and therefore supposed to be fun. Children are wired to play, so if you can link what you want them to do or what you want to learn from them to something playful they are far more likely to cooperate. This is one way to do that. Happy gaming!

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    DIY Kids : Party pack pinatas

    Khatija Suliman By Khatija Suliman, owner of Arty Tots Sunninghill. Workshop facilitator, mother of two, passionate about children, creativity and play. A kid at heart.

    These cute adorable characters make a great addition to a jungle themed party. They can be used as decor, entertainment and party packs.

    You will need 
    Colour paper
    Loo rolls
    Bath sponge


    Step one
    Cut a piece of sponge and tie with ribbon to be inserted into the bottom end of the loo roll. Keep aside



    Step two
    Cover loo roll in paper and press down the top end to form the peaks.
    Cut out your shapes for the different characters features.


    Place these shapes in little containers so the kids can have fun sticking them on by themselves.
    Once decorated let them fill with goodies and pop in the sponge.
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    Staple ribbon to the top end.

    Step three
    You now have a Party pack piñata that you can hang up and get the kids to pull on the bottom to release the goodies.

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    Such fun and much safer than a traditional piñata.

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    DIY Kids: Open face omelets

    Khatija Suliman

     Khatija Suliman, owner of Arty Tots Sunninghill. Workshop facilitator, mother of two, passionate about children, creativity and play. A kid at heart.

    The art of cooking should not be limited to the Master Chefs’ kitchen. Allowing our children the opportunity to express creativity in the kitchen has invaluable benefits for fine motor and sensory development.

    Fine motor skills are needed in everyday life. Cooking provides many exercises to help develop these skills. For example strengthening of the wrist by slicing, pouring, whisking, squeezing, Tripod fingers which are required for holding a pen correctly by pinching, slicing and sprinkling

    This family recipe makes for a visually appealing, fun and rewarding fine motor and sensory activity.

    Tools and benefits

    Whisk (wrist movement)
    Cup (pouring action)
    Spoon (scooping)
    Butter knife (cutting and tripod fingers)
    Potato peeler (wrist action) supervision and assistance by an adult is required .


    Ingredients and benefits

    1 egg per person (breaking eggs good for bilateral integration as two hands are required)
    1 tsp. sour cream per egg  (adds a light fluffy consistency to omelet)
    Salt and pepper to taste (pinching the seasoning and sprinkling as an exercise for tripod fingers)
    Mushrooms (slicing, texture)
    Basil pesto or dried herbs (sprinkling or squeezing)
    Cheese (slicing)
    Tomato sauce (squeezing, colour)


    Crack egg into cup and whisk.
    Add sour cream and seasoning
    Pour into non-stick pan and cook over medium heat. (Adults only)
    Slice mushrooms
    Slice cheese

    Place the pan with the handle sticking out under the grill to cook the top of the omelet. Trying to flip it will result in breaking, as the mixture is very soft and fluffy. (Adults only)   Once its fully cooked slide it onto the plate and allow the kids to construct the face.


    Bon Apetite!

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    DIY Kids : Use household & office supplies

    Khatija Suliman Khatija Suliman, owner of Arty Tots Sunninghill. Workshop facilitator, mother of two, passionate about children, creativity and play. A kid at heart.

     Often we are discouraged by the cost and effort of buying expensive art supplies that we neglect our children’s needs for expression and development of their fine motor skills.

    Here  are 3 ideas for turning humble office supplies into spectacular works of art. These exercises will also help children develop “Out of the Box thinking”

    Envelopes turned to Canvas

    Simply cut a piece of Cardboard from old boxes to the size of the envelope. Slip it in and seal. You now have a firm surface that will withstand alot of moisture. Any size envelope will work.
    Cost  : Under R2 per Envelope. Canvas of the same size +-R20 per Canvas.


    Old toothbrush or make-up brush to paint brush

    Be sure to sterilise these items before us.
    Cost: R 0
    Professional paintbrush: +- R15 upwards

    Food colour to watercolours

    Diluting food colour with a few drops of water gives the same effect as watercolour paint. The less water you add the more intense the colour and vice versa. No more messy watercolour pallets cluttering your draws, breaking and crumbling and dont get me started on those useless brushes that come with those sets …

    All you need is three colours pink , blue and yellow. From these three you can mix to make orange , green , and purple. You can control the amount the children use and keep it stored safely for future use. Not a lot is required.

    Cost: Food colouring R21 for 3
    Good quality watercolour palets R21 and above.


    Ring binder to googly eyes

    Ring Binders make an Excellent Alternative to Googly eyes. Extremely cost effective as you can buy an entire pack of 720 pieces compared to googly eyes which usually come as 24 in a pack for the same price or more
    Cost : R +- 11 Pack of 720
    Googly eyes: R 12



    Follow this easy peasy step by step picture tutorial to draw an owl that can be traced by the Kids before they paint it. Awesome Fine Motor exercise to develop or improve Handwriting Skills.

    Honestly you needn’t have any drawing experience to copy this.


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    DIY Kids : Easter Bunnies

    Khatija SulimanBy Khatija Suliman, owner of Arty Tots Sunninghill. Workshop facilitator, mother of two, passionate about children, creativity and play. A kid at heart.

    Here is an adorable craft for the whole family to do over Easter or any other time.

    Step 1
    Paint Hand
    Make a Handprint
    Leave it to dry


    Step 2
    Cut out thumb , ring and pixie finger.


    Step 3
    Draw mouth, add cotton wool nose and googly eyes , or draw eyes.


    Use Your bunny to decorate a goody bag or make a whole lot to attach to string for a garland decoration.

    Happy Easter

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    DIY Kids : 2 min, 2 ingredients for sensory play

    Khatija SulimanBy Khatija Suliman, owner of Arty Tots Sunninghill. Workshop facilitator, mother of two, passionate about children, creativity and play. A kid at heart.

    I am a huge fan of quick and cost effective play ideas. Who has the time and energy or the money for that matter to go around looking for expensive, so called novelty play activities when you can make them at home in a jiffy, with items you can find in your pantry and bathroom cabinet?

    Here are your 3 quick and frugal ideas for the week.  Please take note that these sensory play substances should not be eaten by your children and the activity should be supervised by an adult.

    We have given you child friendly options for the shaving cream and the conditioner.

    Cloud Dough

    Cake flour
    Baby Oil.

    Add baby oil to about a cup of flour till you get a breadcrumb consistency. Voila.
    This dough compacts into shapes and crumbles again. Keep in airtight container to use again.
    You will not be able to get your hands out of this mixture. Soft and fluffy.

    Marshmallow Dough

    Baby hair conditioner (hyperallergenic)

    Add conditioner to 1/2 cup cornflour till you get a soft dough consistency.
    If it is sticky add more cornflour, if its dry add more conditioner.
    Great for rolling and shaping. It has a calming stress ball effect.
    Variation : add food colour
    Smells amazing and can be used as an air freshner block that will last up to two weeks.
    Snow Dough

    Shaving Foam ( supervised please) or Kaleidofoam from Acornkids ( taste safe)
    Bicarbonate of Soda

    Add 2 tsp of Bicarb to 2 tablespoons of foam.
    Feels cool like snow and has a grainy texture.

    Unfortunately you can’t keep this one so instead of chucking it away throw in some vinegar after play and watch it erupt ! Amazing fun.
    Variation add Glitter.

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    Alternatives to TV time for toddlers

    Khatija SulimanBy Khatija Suliman, owner of Arty Tots Sunninghill. Workshop facilitator, mother of two, passionate about children, creativity and play. A kid at heart.

    I plead guilty to using the television as a distraction tactic. Out of desperation trying to get just 5 min to get done whatever it is I need to do like cooking, packing my handbag clearing the kitchen, I pop the little ones in front of the TV in hope it will numb their brain and deactivate them. It never works though as within seconds there is this little being hanging onto my leg with puppy dog eyes pleading with me to pick them up.

    Thankfully I have found much more creative, stimulating ideas to keep them busy while I get on with my chores. I would like to share with you my secret to success.

    I have three minimal preparation, easy to clean, play ideas for different times of the day that are sure to keep tantrums at bay and keep the little ones busy.

    Need help with the morning rush?

    Sit the little one at the table and provide:
    1. a slice of white bread
    2. a few little containers of milk tinted with food colouring
    3. a pastry brush or teaspoon

    Leave them to go to town creating a masterpiece on bread. Provided it’s not a soggy mess pop it into the toaster and serve with butter and cheese. Breakfast masterpiece served…
    This is a wonderful fine motor activity.

    arty tots sunninghill bread

    For the afternoon or trying to get dinner on the table

    Have an ice tray prepared in the freezer that contains water and those small odd toys that just keep popping up all over. Provide:
    1. a plate
    2. bowl of water
    3. a teaspoon or squirty type bottle.

    Encourage them to pretend to be ice archeologist excavating a glacier that contains the secrets of the ice age. This activity is great for snack time with toddlers; just replace the toys with chunks of fruit. This type of play is great for the imagination and enforces patience and perseverance.

    arty tots sunninghill dinner

    In the evening at bath time

    Take of few minutes to soak your feet and catch a breather while you supervise. Provide them with:
    1. an ice tray filled with a mixture of conditioner
    2. food colouring
    3. an old toothbrush or make up brush

    Leave them to unleash their creative spirit in the bath. Awesome sensory activity involving touch, smell and sight and the mess is contained and simply washes away.

    arty tots sunninghill bathtime

    Have fun and send us more activities you may have for kids.

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    DIY Kids: Making coloured rice



    By Nadia Tayob, mother of 3 children. She enjoys teaching and playing with her kids in unusual and creative ways.  You can find examples of these activities and more on her blog, Fun With Mama along with printable activities for those pressed for time.  Find her on Facebook and  Twitter .

    Making coloured rice with children is a process activity that is fun while teaching them some life skills without them even realizing that they are learning something. Yes, Mom can make it at home while they are at school but then you miss out on some valuable fun teaching moments. All you need are ingredients you probably already have in your pantry!


  • White Rice (use the cheapest one).
  • ¼ cup Vinegar for each color
  • Food Colouring
  • Ziplock Bags
  • A container to keep your rice in or ziplock bags.
  • What can children learn?

    Children will learn to carefully scoop and pour while trying to balance their cups and the ziplock bag all at once.
    They will then need to measure out the ¼ cup of vinegar and pour that in slowly.
    The mixing part is just plain fun!
    If doing this with more than one child they will both have to work on their patience by waiting for their turn.
    They will also learn the value of teamwork when they see their finished product (gorgeous coloured rice).

    Lets get started:


    Add your desired amount of rice and the food colour you would like to your ziplock bag.


    Put in about a ¼ cup of vinegar and shake it all up. Mix it in so the color distributes evenly.

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    Lay out to dry in the sun for a few hours or in the oven under low heat. Transfer to your desired container.

    What can you do with coloured rice?


  • Let your child add it to their paintings or play dough.
  • rice 3

  • Hide items inside and let your child search for these items.
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  • Use the coloured rice in your sensory bin.
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    Christmas gift ideas, from freebies to cheapies and biggies

    Tiffany Markman latest feb 13. jpg


    By Tiffany Markmancopywriter, editor and mom to an almost-four-year-old, who tries to balance her workaholism with cuddles, books,caffeine & reining in her intrinsic kugelry. Follow her on twitter.

    You may have read my last column, ‘Help! My kid has too many toys’. (If not, here it is.) You may be wondering what the hell else you’re supposed to get your friends’ and family members’ kiddies this Christmas, if they’re already at Max Toy Capacity.

    If you’re not a maker/upcycler and you’re not into toy-swapping, here are 11 ideas:


    Salt dough

    Google ‘salt dough’ and you’ll get 4.9 million results. Used to create crafts, sculptures and ornaments, it’s super-easy and ultra-cheap to make at home, requires basic ingredients, is paintable and can be fired in a domestic oven or air-dried. Got salt, flour and water? You’re sorted. Recipe here. Salt dough is great for kids aged 3+.


    Floam is like slime with polystyrene beads in it and kids can mold it into shapes. They can sculpt with it or use it to coat other objects. They can store it to reuse it or allow it to dry, for permanent creations. I love the stuff, which comes in an awesome range of colours, doesn’t seem to stain anything, is pretty cheap in most SA toy stores and is easy-ish to make yourself. It’s most suitable for ages 3 and up.

    Bath crayons

    My daughter loves these and uses them to ‘decorate’ the bath, the tiles and sometimes our faces and bodies. The best part? They wipe off surfaces incredibly easily and don’t stain the kid. Ours came from Woolies, but you can find the Crayola and Munchkin ones at most toy stores. While they’re affordable at about R150 per pack, there are recipes online for making your own. Ideal for toddlers and littlies.

    salt dough and alphabet shapes



    This film is an oldie, but such a goodie. To be honest, although it was one of my own tweenage faves, I was surprised by how much my three-year-old and our resident 10-year-old enjoyed it. The songs are catchy, the characters are fun and an 18-year-old Christian Bale is the lead, should you need the eye candy. It’s rated PG.

    Pigeon and Pals

    My in-laws are in their 60s, my husband and I are in our 30s and my daughter is 3. We’re all besotted with Mo Willems’ Pigeon and Pals DVDs. They’re silly, funny, heavily ironic and gorgeously animated – plus they’re narrated by creator Mo. Pigeon and Pals retails online for R200 for the Complete Cartoon Collection Vol. 1 & 2.


    The Sneetches

    One of my personal bests, this little story by Dr Seuss is about a society of haves and have-nots, in which access to life’s goodies is determined by whether or not you have a star on your belly. For me, it’s a clever commentary on racial, gender and other social categories that are socially constructed, and my pre-schooler loves it. A great conversation-starter, The Sneetches is also fantastic for older kids.

    Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book

    Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (of The Gruffalo) just rock my socks. For one thing, their rhyming irreverence make the stories fun for adults to read. For another, the illustrations are magnificent. And for a third, kids never outgrow these books.

    Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book is about a boy, Charlie, who is reading a book about a pirate captain, who is reading a book about Goldilocks, who is reading about a knight, who is reading about a frog … and so on, until the story comes full circle via burglars, aliens, a friendly ghost and kings and queens with a giant birthday cake.

    Mrs Noodlekugel

    The name of this book appealed to me, because it sounds like a Yiddish dessert. In the world of Mrs Noodlekugel, cats converse and bake cookies, short-sighted mice join the party and two children in search of adventure are drawn by the smell of gingerbread and the promise of magical surprises. Sparsely illustrated, it’s ideal for kids aged 4+ and as a practice reader for new-ish primary school readers.


    This is the pricey category. For spoilies. But each of these toys is ama-ZING! They’re available at leading toy stores; recommended retail prices range from R900-R1299.


    First, Xeno, who I’ve reviewed before. He’s squishy and squashy to touch, with eyes that light up; multiple facial expressions, gestures and sounds; a ‘language’; the ability to play games; an app; and a gross drop of green snot, that you can tug on.

    Complete with sneezes, tummy aches, burps, farts, crying, and the chronic need for love and tickles, Xeno needs your kiddies to learn to understand what he’s saying so that they can care for him. Think Tamagotchi 10.0. Ideal for kids aged 4-10.

    Furby Boom

    Remember the Furby? This is the Furby Boom, which looks like an owl and comes in a range of bright patterns (ours is zebra-striped). He/she/it can respond to music, motion and your voice, plus there’s an app that lets your Furby take a shower, go to the loo and choose what to eat. Your Furby can also interact with other Furbys.

    And then, oh then … Furby has a number of different traits and, depending on how you treat it, will develop its character over time. Ours appears to have the personality of a drunken sailor, without the swearing. I’d recommend him/her/it for kids aged 7+, who have a sense of humour and lots of patience. You’ll love him too. Promise.

    My Friend Cayla

    This is a super-cool toy. Think of an extremely high-quality doll, about 45cm high, with brushable hair, nice clothes and Wikipedia inside her. And that’s Cayla.

    Completely interactive and powered by Bluetooth, Cayla can answer questions, understand and chat, tell stories and play games. She doesn’t just speak pre-set words and sentences – she can also listen. So if you ask, ‘What’s an elephant?’ and she’s online (via your smart device), she’ll look it up and tell you.

    (Note: Cayla needs to be quite close to your device and you can’t use it for anything else at the time. You also need a wifi connection while playing with her. But she’s completely safe for kids aged 4 and up, with all sorts of built-in firewalls, and she will charmingly resist any attempt to get her to talk porn, sex or bad stuff.)

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    Make your very own Easter eggs



    Supplied by Daleen ter Wolbeek, mom of two beautiful girls who combines her love for children and passion for food by running workshops, holiday programs and parties at Tots n Pots Helderkruin Johannesburg. Click here  for more info.


    Hard boiled eggs – Do not remove shells!
    Food colouring – any colour you’d likeUntitled1
    Vinegar (1 tbsp per colour)
    Separate bowls for your food colouring
    Water (enough to submerge an egg)
    A cooling rack for drying eggs
    Acrylic paint, koki pens & glitter glue


    1. Make sure your eggs are nice and cool.
    2. In a bowl (or bowls) mix 1 tbsp food colouring, 1 tbsp vinegar and water. Add more food colouring if you wish.
    3. Submerge your eggs in the colouring one by one – keep it submerged for longer periods for deeper colours!
    4. Remove from colouring and let it rest on your cooling rack to dry.
    5. You can draw or paint on the eggs too!


  • Before placing eggs in the colourant, bind an elastic band around. This will give a cool a stripey look to your eggs!
  • Use Latex gloves to prevent colourant staining your hands
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