The kids really enjoyed my Thanksgiving Joke Teller / Cootie Catcher, so I decided to create another one for Valentine’s Day. Great entertainment for their classroom celebration and perfect way to connect with friends and family over Zoom this year.
We visited Utah a couple of years ago and took a day hike with llamas at Capitol Reef Resort. Avery got paired up with Woody (the smallest and sweetest of the bunch) and absolutely FELL. IN. LOVE. She lead Woody on our hike with the confidence of a well-seasoned backpacker, and soaked up every minute of the 5 mile trek.
Since our trip, she understandably has become llama-obsessed and learned about alpacas as well. After discovering they are smaller than llamas, she concluded they are “even more adorable!” and decided alpacas are her new favorite animal – with llamas as a close second.
Avery asked if I could make llama/alpaca-themed Valentine’s Day cards for her class celebration this year, so we brainstormed some options and I showed her a few cute favor ideas from Amazon:
- Llama and Alpaca Straws
- Alpaca Pens
- Llama Bookmarks
- Llama Alpaca Stamps
- Llama Alpaca Stickers
- Alpaca Backpack Keychains
- Llama Notebooks
- Llama Alpaca Stickers
- Alpaca Rings
- Llama Alpaca Temporary Tattoos
We went with the straws and designed a Valentine to include a cheesy picnic joke.
If you love llamas and have a chance to visit Utah, I highly recommend checking out Capitol Reef Resort. Staying overnight in their covered wagons was a one-of-a-kind, unique experience. We had such a blast and walked away with memories to last a lifetime.
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As of today, schools in the state of Illinois are officially closed as a precautionary measure to slow the spread COVID-19 Coronavirus. In order to make this unprecedented time with the kids at home less stressful and more enjoyable, I definitely plan on coming up with projects to keep them occupied. For me, projects like this are not only bonding time to create fun memories with the kids, but I find them especially helpful when their abundance of energy needs to be diverted to something other than going out of their way to annoy their siblings.
For starters – With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, I created the below Faux Stained Glass Shamrock Printable Template.
Note: This step is optional, as you can use the Printable as a coloring page as well.
After the glue dried, we used water colors to paint the image. This gave it a beautiful, uneven, glass-like effect.
Sticking with the Irish theme and in context with current world events, I also created the below Sláinte Coloring Page. As a standard way of saying “cheers” in Irish, “sláinte” [SLAHN-chə] translates to ‘Good Health’ in English – an Irish expression that derives from the Old Irish word slán, meaning “healthy” or “safe”.
Cheers to you and your family during this time of social distancing…. or should I say, “Sláinte!”
“Good luck be with you wherever you go & may your blessings outnumber the shamrocks you grow.”
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. 🙂
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
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.
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.
- CLICK HERE for the above Free Printable
- You can purchase corresponding Magnetic Pins HERE
- Looking for a personalized or custom chore chart? I’m happy to create one for you! Visit my Etsy Shop and if I don’t already have what you are looking for, simply send a request.
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
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!
Now that my planning and game creation is complete – I have 2 days till the Halloween Party… Wish me luck!
“Zombies – They love you for what’s on the inside.”
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!
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!
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.
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).
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.
Supplies for DIY Gem Jars:
General rules for our Gem Jars:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- Children are encouraged to inform parents of their sibling’s kind acts so the bucket filler can receive a gem.
- 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
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.
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:
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!
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. 🙂
“Without geography, you are nowhere.”