Teaching Kids to Set the Table – FREE PRINTABLE!

One goal of mine last week was to begin teaching my kids to set the table.  Now, seeing as I have a teenager, a pre-teen, an elementary-schooler, and a preschooler, you may be wondering what took me so long.  Well, I don’t know how things work at your house, but over here it doesn’t matter how many times I tell them–they always forget!  So this time I found the perfect solution.

I LOVE this printable placemat that I found at Parents Magazine website.  They usually have a lot of good resources for activities, crafts, printables, and plain old parenting advice.  I wasn’t actually looking for a placemat printable on their website; I just ran across it, and I’m so glad I did!  Click on the image below to download this FREE printable:

Printable Place Mat from Parents Magazine

 

After printing it out, I laminated it and set it out for Rapunzel and Tinkerbell.  They took to it right away.  It wasn’t much later that Cinderella discovered it and wanted one for herself, so I went ahead and printed one for both her and Wendy.  This is SO easy!  Not only do they have a fun new placemat, but they also have a visual example for when they DO set the table–hopefully this will help them remember when they’re gone!  Right now we’ve been on track putting everything in the right place, and the only question I received was, “Where does the bowl go?” (lol)

I’d definitely recommend this as a resource for learning to set the table–and now I know it goes for any age! Try it out yourself!

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Summer Scavenger Hunt (with FREE Printable!)

I know it’s been a while since my last post.  I must have had a crazy week, because it’s been a blur and now I can’t remember what on earth I did.  I can tell you I didn’t do anything I had planned, that’s for sure!

I did spend most of the day planning for the next two weeks at home, searching activities, creating activities, moving plans around, etc.  One thing I was looking for was a summer scavenger hunt.  I couldn’t find a whole lot online that I really liked, and I had my own things in mind anyway, so I made one up myself.  I’d love for it to be a little snazzier, but I don’t have great access to good graphics right now so this is what I have.

When you look closer at it, don’t freak out.  I’ve created this scavenger hunt to be a summer-long hunt.  This scavenger hunt is not meant to be completed in a day!  If you want to complete it in a day, by all means go ahead…but this is supposed to allow the kids to keep their eyes open all summer, notice certain things when they go somewhere different, and learn in the process.

Click on the image below to access the FREE printable!

Summer Scavenger Hunt - FREE Printable

PLEASE NOTE: If you’d like to share this printable, please do not post the PDF.  Instead, please link to my blog page.  Thanks!

Hello Summer!

Well, as I announced to my Facebook friends earlier today, as of today we are officially parents of a preschooler, an elementary schooler, a middle schooler, and a high schooler!  I don’t know whether to be excited or scared!

No matter how you look at it, one thing is true: it’s summer, and the kids are out of school.  Now officially begins our Summer of Fun 2013!  I’m so excited for more first summer (mostly) at home!  You have seen my calendar already, so you know we are booked for more fun than we can handle.  We’ve already started some activities, as my last week’s posts have indicated.

Unfortunately, due to some unforeseen circumstances, we were unable to do a few activities this week, but after Tinkerbell’s end-of-year preschool picnic today, we were able to squeeze in some of those.

little girl playing Pop the PIg game

Game Day was supposed to be on Wednesday, but we were able to fit that in today.  Kids this young still have a relatively short attention span, so this didn’t take long.  Our first goal for Game Day was to play a favorite game.  TInkerbell loves Pop the Pig, so we played that one first.

Our next task was to play a game we had never played before.  Surprisingly enough, we found one.  Thank goodness–Rapunzel’s teacher sent home foam dice and a few summer worksheets, one being a dice games packet and one a card game packet (learning activities in disguise!).  We played one of each.

I love these packets that the teacher sent home–they’ll keep the kids’ brains working over the summer so they don’t lose that important segment during their time off.

Last thing today: dance party!  This didn’t last very long either.  The kids didn’t want to do a whole lot right away, but once they got into it, it was dance party turned ring-around-the-rosie slash horseplay followed by some rest time on the floor.

I’m looking forward to the park’s fun day tomorrow. it’s supposed be chilly but not rainy and the kids always have fun there.

What did you do with your kids on the last day of school?

DIY Raised Garden Bed

do-it-yourself raised flower bed

For a while now, I’ve been wanting a raised garden bed in our backyard.  Our front yard is only so big so I didn’t have any more room for flowers, and we definitely didn’t have any space for a vegetable garden.  Our back yard has been so run down by the dog and the kids that I was afraid to plant anything back there for fear it would be trampled.

I’ve been checking out Pinterest and some of my favorite blogs just keeping an eye on things. I’d also looked at some kits and talked to some friends who had them or knew people who had them.

Then yesterday, we finally had just enough money that we could build it.  My loving husband did some research in the morning and went out to Home Depot for the supplies.  Here’s what he picked up:

1x6x6 picket fence boards cut to 5 ft and 2 ft
2×2 grading stakes for corner posts
1×2 grading stakes for added support
Top Soil
Potting Soil

building a raised flower bed
Initially, Prince Charming put together the planter before driving the stakes in the ground, as our ground isn’t very level, and he wanted to make sure the box was level.  He is, however, planning to try it a little differently today.  I’m providing instructions for his plans for today.

First Prince Charming cut down the picket fence boards to 5 ft and 2 ft.  We wanted our box placed between some existing metal posts in our yard and about 2 feet out to cover the torn up yard, so ultimately the box would be a final 10×2.  Our box is 6″ high.  Height for raised flower beds tend to vary between 6″-12″ on planter boxes depending on your preference and your yard.

Next, Prince Charming attempted to level out the ground (as much as possible) so that the box would be level.  He then drove the corner stakes into the ground and screwed the 5-foot and 2-foot sides of the box to stakes.  After that, he drove the center stakes into the ground halfway between the corner stakes and attached the respective sides to those stakes.

After all this, we filled the box with 4″ of top soil followed by about 1″ of potting soil, and we were done.

We put one planter box together yesterday and will finish the second one today.  Eventually we’ll build two more, but for now we’re just sticking with two.  This project cost us a grand total of $65.81 for both boxes (including soil), which makes each box $32.91 (including soil).

Hubby did great with our resources on this one!  Most boxes you have to spend at least $30 on (for just the box), and we’ve noticed that they tend to bow outward after a while.  These should be fairly sturdy, and are even cheaper than what you’ll find at the stores.  You can’t beat it!

two girls with dirty hands

Cinderella and Tinkerbell show proof of their hard work!

Thanks to Home Depot for the good prices!

And…since we ended up putting together the raised flower beds yesterday, we switched the days on our summer calendar.  So yesterday was our “Plant a Garden” day.  Tinkerbell and Rapunzel planted some flowers and greenery my stepmom gave me, and today we will plant some vegetables, including cucumbers, tomatoes, and carrots.  We’ll also make our homemade lemonade tomorrow.

This was a great family activity.  THANK YOU to Prince Charming for spending all his time and effort on this project for me!  Even Wendy and Cinderella helped out a little bit (even though Cinderella had a strenuous weekend helping my in-laws).  I can’t wait to see our plants grow!

NOTE: For those concerned about the chemicals in pressure-treated wood like fence posts, I am currently not concerned with the risks, as the dangers from these chemicals are very small.  If you’d like more information, please visit the following links:

 

Finding Gifts for Toddler Boys

Look what is this
So a few weeks ago, I received an invitation to my nephew’s 2nd birthday party.  And as I was thinking about his upcoming birthday, I was reminded of a dilemma that I encounter annually: I don’t know how to shop for boys!

I first ran across this issue when we attended Tinkerbell’s friend’s first birthday party.  We went the store all ready to shop, and that’s when it hit me.  After shopping for girls for so long…I haven’t a clue how to shop for boys.  Especially toddler boys.

So here’s what we came up with around Christmas.  Granted, you might want to make sure you know something about this kid.  Is he really boyish (into tools, sports, cars, trains) or is he artsy (into books, crayons, paints)?  I’m sure there are all sorts of things you could buy for a little boy.  Here’s what we came up with:

  • Play-Doh: This stuff is good for boys and girls of many different types and ages.  You can even make this yourself.  We got a bucket of Play-Doh toys at Wal-Mart at Christmas time for $5.  Can’t beat that!  Cheap and fun.  🙂  And thankfully it’s non-toxic, so if he eats some behind your back, you don’t have to worry too much.
  • Trucks and Cars: Our nephew is into the Disney Cars movies, so he was happy with a couple of these toys.  Just make sure there aren’t any small pieces for children under 3.
  • Doctor Kit: This another one of those timeless toys that kids of many ages like to play with, no matter the gender.
  • Fisher Price Little People toys: This is one of our favorite go-to items.  Our girls loved them.  Our nephew has them and likes to play with them.  Timeless.  No gender boundaries.  And sometimes you can get a really great deal on them.
  • DVDs: This will depend on your viewpoint of the tube as well as the parents’.  If you want to buy the child a DVD, make sure the parent lets him watch TV at all; otherwise, you’ve just wasted your money.  We personally love Veggie Tales, Backyardigans, and of course just about all of the Disney movies.
  • CDs: This will also depend on the parents.  We let the kids listen to their music as soon as they had CDs, but of course now that everyone has an iPod this may soon be obsolete.  Again, we like Backyardigans, Veggie Tales, Disney, and there are a whole host of other kids CDs out there.  Rapunzel’s favorite is her Zumbatomic CD.
  • Books: If the child you’re buying for likes to read, this is my favorite option.  I’m all about reading.  If you can, find out what the child likes and get books that have to do with his interest.
  • Tool Bench/Tools: For the child who loves tools, this choice is obvious.  There are many different variations out there that should work.
  • Trains: This seems to be one toy that most boys like to play with.  The con to the Thomas the Tank Engine toys is the price, unfortunately.  But if you can find Thomas and his friends for a good deal or some other train toy, this is generally a hit.  Just make sure you get one marked 3+ if you’re buying for a toddler.
  • Building Toys: Boys and Girls alike also love these toys.  Lincoln Logs, MegaBloks, and Duplo are some of the most popular ones.  We have both MegaBloks and in our church nursery, and the kids play with both.  Make sure you’re not buying regular Legos for kids under 3.
  • Sports Equipment: For the sports-minded child, balls of any kind (baseballs, basketball, soccer ball) will do the trick.  If you would like to spend more money trikes are a good bet.  I wouldn’t get into scooters just yet.  You may want to invest in a helmet with the trike though.  Safety first.
  • Art & Music: I gave our nephew a coloring book and crayons for his birthday when we celebrated as a family.  My sister-in-law was thrilled.  Crayons are good for just about any age that has the dexterity.  I personally hate markers, because they draw all over themselves and everything else.  Musical toys are a good choice too, if the parents don’t mind noise.  We once were given a toy drum with a tambourine  drum sticks, a maraca, and a flute inside.  The kids still love this toy (although the flute gets pretty annoying sometimes).

And if worse comes to worse, make sure you get a gift receipt, and the child can exchange it if necessary.

What are your best go-to boys’ toys for toddlers?