Wilton’s Candy Melts are one of my favorite gems to use for fun holiday treats. Last year I used them to make a batch of yummy Valentine Marshmallow Pops. This year I picked up three bags… More
My daughter starts 2nd grade this week and she is beyond excited to go back to school. She can’t wait to see all of her friends and meet her new teacher. She is full of confidence and joy and counting down the days.
But this was not the case two years ago when she started Kindergarten. She was scared. She was starting at a new school. She didn’t know any of the kids in her class, and she had never been away from me for that many hours a day. In pre-school, her teacher let her bring a stuffed animal to school that she could snuggle with if she felt sad or missed mommy, but I knew that we couldn’t expect that to be ok in Kindergarten. That is where the “word bracelets” idea came from.
I told Karis that we would sit down and create some bracelets that she could wear to help her remember that mommy loved her and would pick her up right after school. We talked about how when she felt sad or missed me, she could touch the bracelet and be reminded of my love. The idea sparked more conversation about what other things she might want to remember at school, so we brainstormed other words and these are what we came up with…
These words provided great conversation for kindergarten preparation as we talked about what each word meant. I told her that she could choose one or more bracelet to wear each day depending on what she felt she needed to be reminded of.
I wish I could say that the first few weeks of school were a breeze for Karis, but it was not an easy transition for her. Thankfully, she had a very kind teacher and sweet classmates who helped her to become comfortable at her school. And I’m sure her word bracelets also helped to reassure her in those sad moments of missing her family.
Maybe you have a child starting a new school and you are looking for something to help them with that transition. Or maybe there is a word that would help your child with a character trait that they are working on. Pick up some plastic beads, letter beads, and stretchy string and spend time making bracelets with your child. Not only with they love their creations, but they will also love the quality time spent with you.
For another “Back to School” idea, check out my post: DIY Visual Schedule For Kids
School starts next week and we are so not ready! Summer seems like it has flown by and we are savoring these precious last days of sleeping in, staying in pajamas well into the afternoon, swimming, and staying up late. This really is the first summer that all of my kids have slept in…and by sleeping in, I mean, not getting up until after 7:30. I am a night owl, so that extra hour and a half in the morning is glorious for this mama!
The last couple of weeks, I have been taking little steps to prepare for the upcoming school year, cleaning out clothes that are too small and shopping for new clothes and shoes. But I know that the hardest part for my kids will be the transition from lazy summer mornings to the “get up and go” school morning routine. So this week, I created this simple and inexpensive visual schedule to help my 7 year old daughter adjust to the new norm.
Watch my tutorial to learn how to create one of your own. I’m including the template that I used with the morning routine icons and the words that go with each. The video gives you step by step instructions. Here’s a list of what you will need…
- one 12×12 piece of card stock
- SCHOOL MORNING ICONS pdf
- 16 2″ squares of colored card stock
- glue stick
- magnets (I used magnetic tape)
- letter stickers
I would love to hear some of your best tips for helping your kids transition from summer to a new school year.
At the beginning of this summer, we spent a day at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, CA. If you’ve never been there, it is such a fun experience with tons of hands on exhibits. One of my daughter’s favorites was a wall with plastic magnetic tubes to create a “marble track” and little balls to test it out on. She spent quite awhile rearranging the tubes to make different tracks and trying them out. As I watched her, I started thinking about how I could make something similar at home, and this idea was born.
I began saving toilet paper and paper towel rolls and waiting for just the right time to create our DIY Magnetic Marble Track. This Saturday was the perfect day! My oldest was away at camp with his youth group and my two younger kids were having a pajama day. My husband was taking a nap and the kids were getting “bored,” so together we created this super fun “boredom buster!”
Check out my daughter’s “Craft Time With Karis” video tutorial (above) to learn how to make these with your own kids. It took some trial and error, but we figured out the best way to keep the tracks up and the best balls to use. Here are a couple of tips:
- make sure your magnets are strong enough…we tried some at first that would not hold
- use light weight balls: we found my son’s Nerf Rival Bullet Balls to be the perfect balls for this project. Small bouncy balls were a close second. Marbles were too heavy and knocked the tracks right off. Experimenting with different options is part of the fun!
- even though we used magnets that were sticky on one side, it is best to hot glue them as well for a stronger hold
For more “Craft Time With Karis” videos click on the following:
Birthday parties are challenging for teen boys. The past couple of years my son Jacob has not wanted a theme or decorations, so we have just had a few friends over for movies and board games. But this year, for his 15th birthday, we decided to do something unique. The idea was sparked by a conversation we had about the youth group I attended as a teen and some of the fun events we got to do. My favorite was called “The Torture Rally,” a 24 hour car rally around our city with clues to solve and challenges, definitely one of the highlights of my teen years. I described it to Jacob as a sort of youth group Amazing Race, and the idea for pulling of a birthday party like this was birthed. We kept the party small and just had one team…so they were essentially competing against themselves, but they had so much fun and it was well worth all the hours of prep that I put in to plan all the clues and challenges.
Here is a list of what we did for Jacob’s AMAZING RACE PARTY!
- PULL 50 MARBLES OUT OF A TUB OF ICE WATER USING ONLY YOUR TOES
2. MEMORIZE THIS POEM. FIND THE MAN IN RED ACROSS THE PARK AND RECITE IT PERFECTLY. IF YOU MESS UP, GO BACK AND TRY AGAIN
Spaghetti, spaghetti, all over the place, Up to my elbows – up to my face, Over the carpet and under the chairs, Into the hammock and wound round the stairs, Filling the bathtub and covering the desk, Making the sofa a mad mushy mess. The party is ruined, I’m terribly worried, The guests have all left (unless they’re all buried). I told them, “Bring presents.” I said, “Throw confetti.” I guess they heard wrong ’cause they all threw spaghetti! – Shel Silverstein
3. (set up in someones front yard) MEMORIZE THE ORDER Of THESE TRIBAL PRINTED CARDS. NOW RECREATE THIS EXACTLY IN THE BACKYARD. YOU MAY RETURN AS MANY TIMES AS NECESSARY BUT CANNOT BRING CARDS WITH YOU.
4. (part 1) WEAR CRAZY PARTY HATS AND MARDI GRAS NECKLACES IN PUBLIC (WALK ACROSS THE BRIDGE) (part 2) CHALLENGE…WITH STRING TIED TO YOUR WRISTS AND CONNECTED TO A PARTNER, FIND YOUR WAY APART (it’s actually quite simple but seems very complicated)
5. MAKE MARSHMALLOW SHOOTERS. NOW SHOOT MALLOWS INTO A BUCKET THAT IS HELD ON YOUR TEAMMATES HEAD (MAKE 5 MALLOWS EACH)
6. PLAY A GIANT GAME OF MEMORY: BOARD GAME STYLE (game made out of heavy paper plates, printed boardgame photos, and weighed down with flat marbles)
7. FIND THE PIECES OF THE WOODEN PUZZLE HIDDEN IN THE PLAY STRUCTURE. NOW PUT THE PUZZLE TOGETHER. (much more challenging than it looks)
8. GO TO BARNES AND NOBLE AND ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS…
- HOW MANY BOOKS ARE THERE IN THE BIBLE?
- WHAT IS THE TITLE OF A BOOK WRITTEN BY OUR PRESIDENT?
- HOW MANY BOOKS ARE IN “THE DIARY OF A WHIMPY KID” SERIES?
- NAME 3 “NON-BOOK” ITEMS YOU CAN PURCHASE HERE
- FIND AND NAME 2 BOOKS BY THE CHILDREN’S AUTHOR ERIC CARLE
9. GO TO THE MALL. FIND THE PHOTO BOOTH. TAKE A PHOTO WITH YOUR WHOLE TEAM IN THE BOOTH AT THE SAME TIME.
10. USING SIDEWALK CHALK, DRAW AN ACCURATE DIAGRAM OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM, PLACING EACH PLANET IN ORDER STARTING WITH THE SUN
11. DIVE INTO THE POOL AND RETRIEVE THE GOLF BALLS AT THE BOTTOM. EACH HAS A LETTER WRITTEN ON IT. UNSCRAMBLE THE LETTERS TO DECODE THE MESSAGE
FINISH THE NIGHT WITH PIZZA AND CUPCAKES AND OF COURSE AN EPISODE OF THE AMAZING RACE!!!
The Amazing Race Birthday Party lasted for about 5 hours total (the race itself was 4 of those hours which included a “pit stop” for snacks about half way through). Be sure to come prepared with bottles of water to keep everyone hydrated, especially during the summer. For more Amazing Race Birthday Party footage check out this fun video of the highlights from Jacob’s party!
We celebrated my daughter’s 7th birthday the first week of June with a Moana Themed Birthday Party. My girl fell in love with Moana after watching the movie in the theater and she’s been belting out “How Far I’ll Go” at the top of her lungs ever since. Her Grandma and Papa surprised her with the soundtrack for her birthday, which made the party even more special to have her favorite Moana songs playing in the background while she swam and played with all of her sweet friends.
I had so much fun planning this party and I’m happy to say that everything turned out just as I imagined it would. I started making decorations several weeks in advance because May and June are always crazy busy with all of the end of school activities, dance recitals, and two kids with birthdays just a couple of weeks apart.
I used my Cricut Expression 2 to make the black and white tribal sewn paper garlands and the HAPPY BIRTHDAY KARIS pennant banner. I also used it to cut some of the pieces for the Kakamora faces. These were all made out of card stock that I purchased from Joann Fabrics. I also found the tribal print material at Joann’s that I used to cover the contents of our two bookshelves.
The Dollar Tree is a great place for inexpensive tropical decorations this time of year and it did not disappoint. This is where I purchased the tissue paper for the giant tropical flowers, the leis, the grass skirts that I used to surround the table, the plastic beach backdrop, plates and napkins, and the Moana and Maui “magic towels” that we gave to the children as party favors.
My favorite part of the whole party, was the Moana Boat and Sail Photo Backdrop (tutorial link below). All the kids were greeted by my daughter and given a lei to wear and the first thing they saw when they walked in was a huge beach scene with a cardboard Moana boat and sail to play in. I even made an oar out of a dowel, cardboard, and twine. We got some super cute pictures of the kids in Moana’s boat.
If you are planning a Moana party of your own, here are three fun tutorial for you as well as a ton of pictures from my daughter’s party. Enjoy!
Coloring pages, painting, and puzzles…three things my girl loves, all combined into one project. This is a super simple craft that your kids can do at home and you only need a couple of items, most of which you probably already have.
To make DIY Magnetic Puzzles, you will need:
- adhesive magnetic tape
- white card stock
- paint, crayons, or markers
- scissors or a paper cutter
Your child can print a coloring page from the computer or create their own art. The possibilities for unique puzzles are endless! This activity can be modified for very young children by cutting fewer puzzle pieces, and can be made challenging for older children by cutting a variety of shapes.
Watch my daughter’s “Craft Time With Karis” tutorial (above) to learn how to make some DIY Magnetic Puzzles of your own.
For more “Craft Time With Karis” fun, check out these other blog posts:
I love setting up sensory bins for my kids. Over the years, we have done white rice, beans, popcorn kernels, shaving cream, salt, and more, but we have never made rainbow colored rice. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to make!
This week, my kids are on Spring Break and the weather forecasted several rainy days. Since we were staying home this week, I decided that I’d plan a couple of fun activities to keep us busy. I picked up a large package of inexpensive white rice and some Wilton’s Gel Food Colors at Target and began looking at recipes for colored rice. Some recipes called for rubbing alcohol, but I wanted to make ours without, so I found that vinegar was a great alternative for setting the colors without the alcohol.
My daughter and I had so much fun making this rice! She actually made it almost all by herself! We created this little video tutorial (below) as part of her kid’s series “Craft Time With Karis.”
In the past couple of days, “Colored (rainbow) Rice” has provided hours of sensory and imaginary play. Karis added some little bunnies and plastic eggs for Easter play. She put plastic dolphins and other animals in too, and yesterday we included some cardboard with holes cut out and a funnel for pouring rice. This inspired Karis to create an imaginary town called “Flowerville” while she played with her animals and rainbow rice.
Watch our tutorial to learn how to make some “Colored (rainbow) Rice” with your kids!
More “Craft Time With Karis” Fun: