Thursday, August 20, 2015

Helping your kids make school lunch

This year, I'll be making 3 school lunches each day. In the past, I have only had to make one. To help streamline the process, I have created a lunch making area in one of my cupboards. I keep all of the supplies needed there. I'm hoping it will help!
I also decided that my children need to help make their own lunches. To help them understand what to put in their lunch, I made this handy little chart and hung it on the cupboard with the lunch supplies in. I'm hoping it helps them in deciding what goes into their lunch.
What are some things you do that help lunch making go smoothly?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Keeping a routine during Summer Time!

One of the hardest things for me during the summer is changing up our routine and helping my kiddos adjust to being home all of the time. This summer I'm trying to help them understand that just because they are home, it doesn't mean that they get to be lazy or just play all day. They still have things that they need to do each day before playing. Don't get me wrong, their day is mostly filled of having fun, but I do need to have some help around the house. I also want them to having active learning experiences daily to help them stay sharp and remember what they learned in school. Soooo with the help of Power of Moms Summer Camp and Family Systems Programs, I'm trying to have a fun filled summer with the kiddos!
First I made a daily to-do list for each child. My kiddos LOVE lists so hopefully they will LOVE checking off this list each day. It's a basic list of things that they need to do each morning, afternoon, and evening. I'm laminating them so that they can use them over and over. I think I will tape them to our wall by our calendar and other family items. Here is a blank one and one that I have filled out.  So far, it's working well.
One suggestion that the Summer Camp program says to do is to have themed days for the week. I found a couple online that I liked, but decided to do my own twist. Here is a copy of what I came up with.
I'm still working on the daily jobs and will share that schedule after I get it done. I hope this helps someone out! The most important thing is to enjoy your kiddos and make some fun memories this summer!

Family Vacation: South Dakota

We just got back from our family vacation to Western South Dakota. We live about 10 hours away, but thought it would be a great trip for our family. It involved a LOT of driving (both to SD and around to the sights), but our kiddos did great. It helped that Grandma & Grandpa came along with us.

I have had a lot of people ask "What is there to do in South Dakota?" There is actually a lot to do. I was pleasantly surprised :) I decided to share some of the fun things that we did. I'll also attach our itinerary just so you can see how we did everything. Obviously, depending on how much time and the age of everyone going on the trip, would depend on what you do. But at least it gives you a jumping off point.

  1. Mount Rushmore - I know, I know, everyone knows about Mount Rushmore. Can I just say that is truly is amazing and spectacular! 
    •  Make sure that you go to the movie and learn about why and how it was built. 
    • Go in the morning for great lighting and less people.
    • Go to the evening Ranger Talk and lighting ceremony. Stay for the retiring of the flag for the opportunity to honor all of the veterans in the audience. 
    • Get the Jr. Ranger booklets for your kiddos to do. Then make sure they get their badge. (my kiddos learned a lot and thought it was great to get a badge). 
  2. Wind Cave National Park - This is one of the largest caves in the world. It is really cool. This is a great choice if the weather is stormy.

    • Go there first thing. They often sell out of tours. (It's first come, first serve).
    • Natural Entrance Tour is good for kids. We went on this one. It was a lot of walking and not as much talking. The kiddos LOVED walking through the cave and seeing how cool it was. They were patient during the stories that were told, but I think much more talking would have lost their attention. 
  3. Custer State Park - There is so much to do here!
    • Sylvan Lake is a fun place to stop for lunch. There is a beach where you can get in and swim. You can also hike around the lake and some cool rocks in the area. 
    • Needles Highway is a must drive. It is beautiful and majestic. Lots of great photo ops.
    • Wildlife Loop is great especially in the morning or early evening. We went during the middle of the day and didn't see as much as we would have at a different time of day. We saw buffalo, prarie dogs, wild turkeys, burros, deer, and antelope. 
    • Iron Mountain Road - Another cool drive with fun tunnels and bridges. If you can't do the whole thing, start on the Keystone side and just go up through a couple of tunnels and then turn around and go back down. 
  4. Story Book Island - This is a MUST DO if you have children younger than 12. It is a park themed after stories, fairy tales, and nursery rhymes.  We played there for a good 3-4 hours. It is free and one of the highlights of the trips for the whole family. I don't have any picture without my kiddos, but just trust me, it's SO FUN!
  5. Crazy Horse Memorial - This is amazing. I found it fascinating to learn so much about people dedicated to a cause and what they are willing to sacrifice for it. 
  6. Stay in Hill City - Hill City is centrally located but isn't as much as a tourist trap as Keystone and Custer. It's a quiet little city with some fabulous eating places (Bumpin' Buffalos, Alpine Inn, Hill City Cafe) and some fun museums and shopping. We stayed at Trails End Cabins. Can I just say, if you can at all possibly stay there, do so. Doug and Mary are the owners. They were so helpful and kind. They were willing to make suggestions and answer any questions that we had. There is a firepit, hot tub, patio, and bbq area that we enjoyed using. It is just a couple of blocks off of the main road and borders a forest area. It feels like your in the forest away from the city. Their prices were comparable to other hotels in the area and the service was beyond compare! 
That was our trip in a nut shell. If you want to see how it all came together. Here is a copy of our Itinerary. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Calling All Odd Squad Fans!

We made it through the birthday party! Yay! This was definitely challenge. I had to do it the old fashioned way! I watched several episodes of the show and played the games online. That helped to get the ideas flowing! Here is what I came up with.
 1. Badges as name tags
I made a page of badges and just printed it on yellow paper (saved me tons of colored ink :)). As each child came, they wrote their name and we taped it on their shirt. They also each received a small magnifying glass (dollar store, party favors section).  Unfortunately, the magnifying glasses didn't even make it through the party. (I think I would have just included them in the party favor envelope if I did it again).
2. I found a picture of a magnifying glass. I printed 3 pages off (2 per page). On each one, I wrote a mission (and numbered them). Here are some pictures of them.

I hid them all over the room and we had to find each mission clue and then do it before finding the next clue. We ended up skipping #4 because we had already done it as part of another game. The kids loved finding each mission.
The missions that we did were:
#1 - The shape monster came and hid all of the shapes. Can you find the shapes??  Each child looked for the shapes. After we found them all, we sorted them by shape and then colors.
#2 - The centigurps have escaped! The only way to get them back into their boxes is by carrying them on your head. Work with your team to get them in quickly! I bought a pom pom maker (such a great tool, I got mine at Micheal's) and made 20+ bright pink pom poms. They were a big hit! We divided the kids into two teams and gave them the same amount of centigurps. One child from each team ran with it on their head and dropped it into a box. Then ran back to their team and the next child went. The kids LOVED it and had a fun time. They enjoyed the centigurps so much that we put them all on a small parachute and tossed them up and down. When they all fell off of the parachute, we stopped and the kids had to catch them and put them back on. 
#3 - Agents need to stay in shape! Practice by going through the obstacle course. My friend has a gymnastics triangle and a hopscotch carpet. We borrowed those and used folding chairs for the kids to weave around ( you could use cones , we just didn't have any). We also had them throw ball pit balls into a basket. You could use anything around your house to make a fun obstacle course. The kids loved this one too! 
#4 - The ball pit balls are going crazy, try to keep them in the parachute without losing any! We didn't do this because we had used the parachute with the centigurps. 
#5 - All agents need to refuel. Take a break and have some lunch! I usually don't do food at parties because I would rather spend my time and money on games and the gifts we send home. However, I bought some cheap pizza and juice boxes for this party. I did this so I didn't have to worry about feeding my kids after the party. It was nice to take a break and eat for a few minutes. 
#6 - It's important to practice you counting skills! Play a little game of dice and cover the numbers as you go. I found some big dice at the dollar store and a four-leaf clover with numbers on it. The kids rolled the dice and cover the number. It was a fun game. 

After all of the missions were complete, we opened presents. We still had a few minutes before the party ended, so we decided to make special agent called #5 (that's how old the birthday child was turning). I found a number 5 and printed out a bunch and cute them out. The kids colored them, made arms and legs, and decorated them. 

As the party favors, I tried to put thing in that connected with the games we played. They each got a balloon, bouncy ball, two centigurps, a detective notebook and pencil.  I was going to put two dice in them, but forgot to pick them up at the dollar store when I was there. All of the items went into a small manilla envelope that had Top Secret written on it. I wrote their names on the envelopes as they picked them up. They had strict instructions that the envelope was top secret and should only be opened at home! The kids thought it was great!
The notebook had pages of activities that they could do. Some of the pages, I found online and edited them to make them work. Some I made my self. The notebook were the size of a 1/2 sheet of 8.5x11 paper. 
My kiddo that wanted the Odd Squad party was delighted with how it turned out. To me that meant that it was a successful party!
Here is a link to the files that I used.  As always, if you have any questions, please let me know! 
Have a Extraordinary Day!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Odd Squad Party Invitations

Update: Check out the next post for the link to ALL of the files that I used including the party invitations! 
My sweet boy that is turning 5 in a few weeks, informed me that he wants to have an "Odd Squad" party! I was less than excited to organize this party because Odd Squad is a brand new show on pbs. The problem is that I have to create everything from scratch because there just isn't much out there for this show yet. It's a great little show that has odd things happen and the kids figure out the solution using math concepts. My kids LOVE it.
So today, I made up the invitations. I thought I would make some for those who might want one as well. I just found a graphic of the badge and went from there. This is what I came up with. There is a link in the next post to ALL of my Odd Squad Party files, including these invitations. I also have a black and white version. There are four invites to each page and you just print them back to back. I used the black and white ones and printed them on yellow paper. It turned out great (and easy). I'll post more about the party after it actually happens! Good Luck!