Hidden Message Valentine Mystery Worksheet

Jacob was such a fan of the Secret Agent Valentine I designed for him, that I thought I’d use a similar concept to come up with an activity for Evan’s class Valentine’s Day party.

I created a series of worksheets where the kids get to tap into their inner Secret Agent and are challenged with the task to find Cupid’s stolen arrows. Using some of our favorite Love/Heart/Valentine’s Day themed books, the kids dive into the stories a bit deeper to investigate clues, decode messages and figure out who the Arrow Thief is.

Supplies needed:

  1. Hidden Message Valentines Mystery Printable Worksheet
  2. Secret Agent Pens
  3. Secret Decoder Screen
  4. Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin
  5. The Day it Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond
  6. In My Heart by Jo Witek
    *Check your local library.

What do you think, Secret Agent? Can you solve the Valentine’s mystery?

Like the idea but want to use a different selection of books or make changes to the worksheet? Contact me through my Etsy shop and I’m happy to work with you to create a custom mystery experience.

Have a spy-tastic Valentine’s Day!

“Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.”
– Neil Armstrong

Video Game Valentine

Video Game Valentine Banner

My little gamer, Evan, is currently obsessed with Mario Odyssey. Well, anything Mario actually. He’s read the Mario Encyclopedia from front to back several times and – whether he’s played a particular game or not – can shoot off statistics and level details like nobody’s business.

Needless to say, he was super pumped when I suggested Mario themed Valentines so I showed him two cute favor options from Amazon:

  1. Magnetic Bookmarks
  2. Backpack Charms / Zipper Pulls

Evan preferred the bookmarks, so we went with those. A video game theme with the balance to encourage reading – I like it!  🙂 We came up with a Mario-themed twist on the classic Valentine’s poem (Evan of course had no problem choosing something ‘red’ and ‘blue’) and now he’s ready for his classroom Valentine’s Day party!

Click on below image or HERE to purchase the Video Game Valentine from my Etsy Shop.

Video Game Valentine PIP

 

Secret Agent Valentine

Secret Agent Valentine Banner

Jacob received an Invisible Ink Secret Agent Pen for Christmas and has been using it all the time (mostly to write the word “poop” and giggle about it). He thought it would be fun to give his classmates one for Valentine’s Day, so we created these spy themed valentines – because who doesn’t love decoding top secret messages?

Secret Agent Valentine - PIP.jpg

Use the Secret Agent Pen‘s UV light to reveal who the valentine is from and decode the mission.

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To create your own, simply print out the Secret Agent Valentine (front and back), attach the Secret Agent Pen (with washi tape or something similar) – Mission Complete!

Related Posts:
DIY Mermaid Valentine Printable - Mermaid Valentine's Day Card

Check out more of my DIY Valentines HERE.

 

New Year’s Eve Activity Sheet

As a simple New Year’s Eve activity for the kids, I created this printable activity sheet. Similar to a restaurant kids menu, I thought they can work on this at dinner. Figured it will give them a holiday themed challenge, as well as some fun topics to discuss. 🙂

New Years Eve Printable Thumbnail

Click on above image or HERE to download free printable.

Happy New Year!

“Tomorrow, is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.” ― Brad Paisley

Magnetic Chore Chart

 

DIY Magnetic Daily and Weekly Chore Chart - projectsinparenting.com

As a parent, I feel it’s an essential part of my job to teach my kids how to help out around the house and learn how to become a productive member of the household. They all attended Montessori Preschool, which I feel really jumpstarted them to recognize most “chores” as “practical life skills”. Whichever term you choose to use, I’ve found that most children enjoy helping out with these daily tasks and it’s a great way to teach them responsibility, independence, and self-sufficiency.

Although my kids have been great at wanting to be involved in household duties, as they’ve gotten older it’s been more of a challenge getting them motivated for regular chores — and nearly impossible to get them enthusiastic about completing them on a daily basis.

We’ve tried a good handful of ways to motivate our kids, but the most successful has definitely been the regular use of a chore chart. It not only provides motivation, but has also begun helping us teach them financial responsibility. One key to being successful has been getting the chores organized in writing – then there’s no question about who’s responsible for what on a given day.

After quite a few trial runs and alterations, below is the Magnetic Chore Chart we now use to keep us organized and help our family life run just a bit smoother.

DIY Magnetic Daily and Weekly Chore Chart - projectsinparenting.com

With the understanding that as the children grow, our household expectations may change and their chores will be reevaluated and tailored to their age level. I designed this chart so it can grow with us – easily being able to change and swap out chores as needed. In the future, perhaps adjust allowance amounts as well.

One of the most important things we are trying to teach them right now is that money comes from work, so rather than freely receiving an allowance, our kids earn their money by completing tasks. After they complete a chore, they simply move the corresponding Magnetic Pin to the jar with their name. On Sundays – payday – the kids trade in their pins for the cash they’ve earned.

They each get ONE daily task and ONE weekly task. Having three children, that has been the most realistic expectation for us, as well as not overwhelming to track (for them and myself). Since they also sometimes ask to help with additional chores, I listed those in the ‘Bonus’ section. These are not expected, but an extra way for them to earn cash.

Magnetic Chore Chart Free Printable - projectsinparenting.com

I have to say, it has been nice to pass some responsibility over to my kids — waking up to an empty dishwasher has been glorious! Most importantly, I love seeing them learn new practical life skills and confidently contribute to the household.

“The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.”  – Denis Waitley

Halloween Party Games

Halloween Party Games with FREE Printables - projectsinparenting.com

I volunteered as Room Parent for the first time this year and found out I’ll be rolling solo. At first I got nervous, realizing a seasoned Room Parent wasn’t going to take me under their wing and show me how to throw a class party. Then I realized it’s probably a great thing because it allows me to get creative and come up with new and fresh ideas!

Since Halloween is my favorite holiday, I couldn’t be happier it’s my first class party to plan. Ghosts, zombies, vampires, mummies and witches – what’s not to love?? In the *spirit* of coming up with unique ideas, I created these spooktacularly fun and simple DIY games…

Zombie Ball

Rules: 2+ players race to knock down a row of zombie-themed water bottles, using only a ball dangling from a stocking on their head.

 

 

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Preparation: Using these FREE Printable Plants vs. Zombies inspired labels –  I wrapped them around the water bottles (sized to Ice Mountain), adhered them over the existing labels using double sided tape, and sealed the two ends together with packaging tape (which happened to be the perfect width for the seam). To knock down the zombies, I used these black stockings stuffed with an old tennis ball.

CLICK HERE for FREE Printable Zombie Water Bottle Labels.

Frankenstein Fishing

Rules: Players take turns catching Frankenstein Fish. Each fish has a letter on the back, which the players use to work together and come up with as many Halloween themed words as possible.

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Preparation: I used this Frankenstein Fishing Printable, cut out the rows of fish and attached a paperclip to each tail. I then used contact paper to laminate them for extra durability, and cut out the shape of each fish. For catching the fish, I used a magnetic fishing pole I happened to have.

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CLICK HERE for FREE Printable Frankenstein Fishing Word Scramble.

Skull Toss

Rules: Players toss mini skulls into 3 black jack-‘o-lantern buckets, each containing a prize. I used spider rings in the 1st, vampire fangs in the 2nd, and glow in the dark bouncy balls in the 3rd (each player receives only one from each bucket).

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Halloween How-to-Draw

This will be a drawing station where each student receives a pumpkin drawing pad and skeleton pens (Thank you Target Dollar Spot!) along with a packet of Halloween themed How-to-Draw sheets – like this easy to follow Haunted House from Art Projects for Kids. Google and Pinterest are great for more resources!

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Now that my planning and game creation is complete – I have 2 days till the Halloween Party… Wish me luck!

Related: Room on the Broom Inspired Scavenger Hunt

“Zombies – They love you for what’s on the inside.”

 

Father’s Day Questionnaire

Happy Father's Day Free Printable Questionnaire, All About Me - projectsinparenting.com

Two of my absolute favorite things: Children’s drawings and unfiltered kid honesty. 🙂

I created this Father’s Day printable because, as a mom, I always enjoy getting questionnaires from my kids. Whether it’s their coloring, personalized drawings or thoughtful answers – I love that their choices come straight from their little hearts. And lets be honest, some of their responses are simply hilarious!

Happy Father's Day Free Printable Questionnaire, All About Me - projectsinparenting.com

Click HERE to download the above free printable.

Smaller kids may need help writing down answers to these questions, but all kids will enjoy coloring in the pictures and drawing dad with this fun Father’s Day printable!

 

Related Posts:

Thank you Coloring Page  DIY Childrens Artwork Canvas Tote Bag

Encouraging Kindness with Bucket Filling Gem Jars

Encouraging Kindness with Bucket Filling Gem Jars

I’ve always encouraged my kids to “be kind” and “use kind words” but when there was an excess of crabbiness and bickering in our household, I invested in a book called ‘Have You Filled a Bucket Today: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids by Carol McCloud‘. It literally changed our language around the concept of kindness to the point where “You are dipping in my bucket!” and “Did I fill your bucket?” have become common phrases in our house.

Image result for have you filled a bucket today

Using a simple metaphor and explaining kindness in a way that children can grasp immediately, this book encourages positive behavior and explains how easy and rewarding it is to express kindness, appreciation, and love on a daily basis. It’s the perfect introduction to self-awareness and feelings, and beautifully helps kids visualize how their actions and words impact others.

To immerse ourselves a bit deeper in the concept of this book, I created a worksheet for the kids to help think through and specifically list out what “fills their bucket” and “dips in their bucket”. It was fun discussing the results as a family and interesting discovering what differences they had based on their individual personalities and/or love language(s).

Have You Filled a Bucket Today - Bucket Filling Worksheet - Free Printable - projectsinparenting.com

Click Image to Download Free Printable

In an effort to encourage more “bucket filling” behavior into our daily life, as well as help visualize and reinforce the book’s concept of how “filling other people’s buckets also helps to fill our own”, I created these Gem Jars.

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Supplies for DIY Gem Jars:

General rules for our Gem Jars:

  1. Mom or Dad rewards an individual for “bucket filling” behavior / acts of kindness with a big or small gem – at their discretion, based on the specific act.
  2. There is no removal of gems for bucket dipping behavior. This is meant to detour any tattling on negative behavior, as our goal is to focus on and encourage positive behavior.
  3. It is perfectly acceptable to perform a bucket filling act specifically to ask for a gem. However, Mom or Dad may deny the gem for any reason (you’d be surprised at some of the stuff they come up with, lol).
  4. Children are encouraged to inform parents of their sibling’s kind acts so the bucket filler can receive a gem.
  5. When a child fills their Gem Jar, they receive a reward. Reward options are provided by Mom or Dad. Example rewards include: A specific toy/book/gift we know they want, 1:1 time with Mom/Dad like going to a movie, dinner at their favorite restaurant, out for ice cream, etc.

We have been using our Gem Jars for almost a year now and I’m happy to report that there has definitely been an increase in kindness and helping behavior around these parts. While I can honestly say I saw an immediate impact on my children’s behavior after reading this book and using our gem jars, I’m not going to pretend it’s some kind of miracle fix. I am just happy that it helped them become more self-aware and realize how their behavior impacts the people around them. Sure, sometimes they go out of their way to do kind things only because they want a gem – but hey, that’s the point! To be honest, I am especially proud of those moments when I see them clearly making a conscious effort to do something kind, when otherwise they may not have done so. When they are actively trying their best to be kind, everyone is happier. By putting happiness into terms the kids can understand and use, I think it really has helped them understand the effects of their actions and words on their own well being, as well as the well being of others. I couldn’t be more proud of my little bucket fillers!

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” -Dalai Lama

Continent, Country & Flag Identification

Color Coded Continents Countries and Flags Puzzle Identification - Hands on Learning - projectsinparenting.com
Since my boys were 3 years old, this US Foam Puzzle has been a favorite go-to of theirs. At 1st it was just fun for them to put together, but as they got older it became a great learning tool. They are now familiar with most US states, their shape, general location, as well as some facts we’ve learned along the way.

Jacob has been asking about the difference between city, state, country and continent lately, so I wanted to come up with a hands-on way for him to understand the bigger picture. Since they enjoyed the other foam puzzle so much, I decided to purchase this World Map Puzzle with Flags & Capitals. Understandably due to size constraints, it doesn’t include EVERY flag in the world. If it did, I think that would be too overwhelming anyway. The puzzle has a total of 65 flags (based mainly on country size) which seems to be the perfect start.

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The foam puzzle, flags and map provided are great. Unfortunately there is no ‘key’ to know where each flag goes. I was able to figure it out using the original sticker sheet, but both Jacob and Evan were at a complete loss putting the puzzle together without my help. To give them the independence of easily figuring it out on their own, I created a color-coded diagram showing all of the 65 flags and the corresponding country by continent. I also made a color-coordinating continent map for easy reference.

Click on image below for FREE Printable:

Hands-on Learning, Color Coded Continents, Countries and Flags - projectsinparenting.com
Hands-on Learning - Color Coded Continents, Countries and Flags - projectsinparenting.com

Once I gave them my diagrams (other than some adorably incorrect pronunciations) – easy peasy. Both Jacob and Evan were able to correctly identify 65 flags, place them in their corresponding country, and understand which continent they belonged to as well!

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I have no doubt this puzzle will be another one of their favorites – learning more as they grow and discovering new things each time they complete it.   🙂

Related: Color-Coded Beginner Piano Music Book
Related: Constellation Sticker Craft

“Without geography, you are nowhere.”

Dinosaur Valentine Printable

dinosaur t-rex valentine thumbnail

Sweet, sweet Evan. My dino-loving, Lego master. When I came across these Dinosaur Building Block Figures, I just had to get them for his Valentines.

To go along with the theme and Evan’s appreciation for a good joke, I created these silly T-Rex Valentines to attach to each building block bag.

To create your own T-Rex Dinosaur Valentine, download my printable here.
Dinosaur t-rex valentine printable - Valentine's Day Card

Other favor ideas to pair with this Valentine…
Dinosaur Temporary Tattoos (Option #2)
Make Your Own Dinosaur Stickers
Dinosaur Squirting Bath Toys (Option #2)
Wikki Sticks & Dinosaur Stickers
Dinosaur Stress Balls
Dinosaur Pez Dispensers

Have a dino-mite Valentine’s Day!

Related: Build a Robot Papercraft Valentine
DIY Heart Breaker Valentine’s Day Cards

“When you are upset, just imagine a T-Rex making a bed.”