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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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.”
With 8 to 14 inches of snow expected today, schools in the area were cancelled for a rare occurrence — SNOW DAY!! Needless to say, the kids were very excited and we spent most of the morning outside. This afternoon, we decided to stay warm and stick indoors for a Valentine’s Day themed craft.
Using these cute doilies from the dollar store, (click here for a similar product on Amazon) I simply cut out a heart shape from the middle of the doily and attached a square of contact paper (larger than the doily) to one side. Then, with Valentine’s Day inspired colors, I cut small squares of tissue paper and put them in bowls.
Sticky side up, the kids selected their preferred tissue squares and attached them to the contact paper heart in the center of the doily.
When their Valentine heart decorating was complete, I trimmed any excess tissue paper that was hanging over the lace part of the doily, then sealed their heart with another sheet of contact paper. After trimming around the outside of the doily (to cut off excess contact paper), we hung their masterpieces in our window to enjoy the beautiful stained glass colors!
These Valentines also make perfect gifts to send to family and friends! 🙂
“Close your eyes and picture of the sun. That’s what it felt like to love her, warmth.”
Right now Avery is OBSESSED with everything unicorn. Anytime she spots something at a store with a unicorn on it, she ogles at it like it’s a lost baby kitten and is convinced it was made for her. So to no surprise, this year we decided to create Valentine’s Day cards with this mystical creature – and just the right amount of sparkle!
Since Valentines these days usually come with a fun favor attached to them, I purchased cute unicorn fans to include with Avery’s. Some other ideas if you are interested in adding a favor (which you can either tie on, attach with double sided tape, or use a fun glitter or unicorn Washi tape)…
- Unicorn Bandages – Right now Target has some adorable unicorn bandages in their $1 section, but I also came across these on Amazon.
- Unicorn Stickers (Or if you live near a Party City, they have 24 stickers for only $1.99 – call to check stock)
- Unicorn Wristbands
- Unicorn Temporary Tattoos (Or if you live near a Party City, they have similar ones available in an 8 pack for only $0.99 – call to check stock)
- Unicorn Slap Bracelets
- Create-Your-Own Unicorn Sticker Sheets
- Or if you want to splurge and be silly, Amazon apparently sells Unicorn Poop!
Based on whichever size you would like, click on the above image to download and start creating your own magical Valentines!
“Always be yourself, unless you can be a unicorn. Then always be a unicorn.”
The boys have mastered the Color-Coded Beginner Piano Sheet Music I created for them, so I thought I’d put together another song. They are super into Star Wars right now, so The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s theme) seemed like the perfect option. Simple, yet dramatically fun – and perfect to get in the mood for our upcoming trip to Disney World!
All I had to do was add a few more color-coded note stickers to our keyboard. POST UPDATE: I originally cut down circle dot labels I had on-hand (as seen in my photo), but once we upgraded from our Fisher-Price Keyboard to an electronic piano, I wanted to use more gentle sticker adhesive so created these Removable Piano / Keyboard Stickers. The colors coordinate exactly and they are the perfect size for full-sized piano keys / keyboards.
Click on below image to download FREE printable color-coded sheet music…
…And may the force be with you.
‘Tis the season for roses, hearts, Cupid and the age old tradition of spreading love with thoughtful Valentine’s Day cards!
Avery is currently obsessed with decorating herself in adhesive bandages, like they are a fashion accessory – so I picked up some holiday themed bandages to use for her classroom Valentines (one of many amazing finds at the Target Dollar Spot!). I created and printed the below Heart Breaker Valentine’s Day Cards and attached the bandages with double-sided tape.
Click HERE to download free printable.
Now my adorable little heart breaker is ready for her 1st Valentine’s Day celebration at school. 🙂
The other day, Jacob was jamming away on his toy piano singing ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ – eyes closed, head bopping, slamming random keys on the key board… I loved the enthusiasm and figured the boys are probably old enough to start reading beginner sheet music, so I decided to put together a few songs for them.
I am by no means a musician, but I did play piano back in the day and remembered some of the basics. I wanted to keep it simple with what I feel is a reasonable goal for toddlers and preschoolers: Find Middle C and play a simple song with one finger (not at all insisting on proper finger placement). I’m not trying to raise Mozart – I just want them to have fun and become comfortable with the basics of sheet music while doing so.
POST UPDATE: I originally cut down circle dot labels I had on-hand (as seen in my photo below), then upgraded to these Color Coding Dot Labels which coordinated perfectly. Once we upgraded from their Fisher-Price Keyboard to an electronic piano, I created these Removable Color Coded Piano Key Labels – Now the colors coordinate exactly and I love that they have a less harsh, easily removable adhesive.
Using the color-coded labels, I created coordinating sheet music for a couple of their favorite songs. Click on below sheet music image to download a FREE printable.
For more song selections and coordinating color-coded sticker labels, please visit my Etsy Shop.
As simple as that – now my boys understand the concept of reading and playing music on the piano. With or without an accurate rhythm on the keyboard, watching their faces and sense of accomplishment after completing a song is absolutely priceless!