Avoid the Summer Slide: Review Packets Worth Investing In

I spent quite a while this past month searching for a summer packet for the kids.  Now before you think I’m crazy, I don’t make them do schoolwork all summer.  If you saw my last post, you know I love to fit in lots of fun.  But I also hate to think that my kids missed out on great learning opportunities and fell behind just because I decided to let them completely veg out over the summer.  Must be the importance of education that my grandma ingrained in my head.

So finally I came across some great packets that I thought would do the job.  I hate spending money, but I don’t have the patience to make my own worksheets (or the knowledge for that matter!), and I worry that the workbooks available at the store cover the common core.  What better way to know than to get it from a teacher.  So we decided to invest.  And $6-$7 per packet really isn’t bad for keeping your child up-to-par for three months.

Here are my favorites.  I hope you like them as much as I do!

Image

On My Way to K by Miss Kindergarten Love – $6.75 at TPT

Image

Ready Made for 2nd Grade by Lyndsey Kuster @ A Year of Many Firsts – $7 at TPT

Image

1st Grade Summer Packet by Faith Wheeler – $7.50 at TPT

Know of some other great summer packets for this age group?  Please share!

Planning Summer: Theme Days

Not one of my parenting priorities, but just something fun: theme days.  Having theme days allows to do a variety of different things under a certain theme.  This keeps the kids busy and sometimes allows me to be more closely involved with their play.  Here are some of the theme days we have planned for this summer:

First Day of Summer Party
Construction Day
Craft Day
Yard Game Day
Sports Day
Splash Day
Spa Day
Last Day of Summer Party

I always plan for plenty–that way, when I don’t get to all of them, we still remember the ones we were able to have fun with.  Our favorite: Spa Day!  Last year, each of the kids invited a friend over, and we painted nails, made homemade chocolate face masks, and did some hair.  This is another MUST DO for this year!

What are some of your favorite themes?

Super Summer 2014 Is Almost Here!

Before I even knew it, June was upon me!  I always feel like I’m in a frenzy, trying to get things done.  Working.  Driving the kids.  Other work.  Soccer.  Cooking.  Cleaning.  Taking care of the kids.  More chores.  Groceries.  Working.  You know.

So many of you have already entered the blissfulness of kids-are-home-for-the summer.  For some of you this might be wonderful.  For others, this may be terrifying.  I have a love-hate relationship with school summer vacation.  Yes, I love being able to do things with my family.  But I have to say I really DO NOT like to take them to work with me.  It seems like no matter what I do or give them, they are still constantly fighting, hungry, thirsty, wanting to sit on my lap, using all the tape, drawing on things they’re not supposed to…

But back to the fun part.  What I like best about summer: memory-making.  I love love LOVE knowing that I am making memories with my kids–the kind of memories I remember spending with my grandparents over the summer when my dad was working.  Church camp.  Ice cream.  Fireworks.  Museums.  Outdoor activities.  I loved fishing with my grandpa, playing wiffle ball in the back yard, playing in the lake.  Going to the library.  Ah, but we’ll save that for another day.

I realized I am way behind in revealing my summer calendar!  I hope you will check out my summer calendar and come up with some awesome ideas of your own to fill in there as well!  Oh, and while you’re here–let me know what you think and what your favorite ideas are!

ImageImage

 

Image

 

 

Planning Summer: Getting Outside

Image

Another item of great importance to me and my parenting style is exercise.  I have always struggled with my weight, and there are several weight-related diseases that run in my family.  It is my goal to encourage active behavior early in life so that my kids live a healthy lifestyle as adults.  Because of that, I like to make sure I get the kids outside to play.  I also remember some of my greatest fun as a kid being outside.  I hate to have my kids staring at the TV all day when they could be running around.  Here’s what we are planning to do this summer to encourage that behavior:

Camp out in the back yard
Roast hot dogs
Make s’mores
Corn roast
Go roller skating (this will probably be on our sidewalk)
Fun day at the park
Start a water fight
Picnic at the creek
Watch the birds
Plant a garden
Catch bugs (be careful with this one–last year, Rapunzel caught a bee!)

Our #1 outdoor activity is the local parks’ summer program.  Every year, they set up little platforms at various local parks, and you have to follow the directions provided to find them.  Each one has a piece of plastic on it with an image cut out, and the object is to place a piece of paper over the image and color it with crayon so that it shows up on the paper.  The goal is to get all of these, and we have for the last two years in a row.  It sounds easy, but they change up the parks every year, some trails are fairly difficult, and some can be over 2 miles.  We spend most of our time over the summer on this, and we have many great experiences from the last two years (too many to mention!).  Check with your local library and park programs; maybe you have something similar in your area!

What do you like to do outside with your kids over the summer?

Planning for Summer: Being Creative

One of the most important things to me when parenting my children is encouraging their creativity and the creative process.  Since the start of my parenting journey, I’ve been all for creative play: less about the toys that do things for you and more about the dolls and legos, crayons, paper, etc.  Apparently I did a good job of this too, because my kids have this knack for making just about anything using paper and an ENTIRE roll of tape.

So that being said, of course I am all for encouraging creativity throughout the summer.  Here are some of the things we plan to do to keep those creative juices flowing:

Make our own bubbles
Blow those bubbles
Find shapes in the clouds
Write in your journal
Learn a dance
Make a video
Create a collage using pictures from magazines
Play with sidewalk chalk
Create a photo booth and take pictures
Make oobleck and play with it
Use your imagination day!
Build a fort
Write a story
Draw pictures to go with your story
Make a sock puppet
Put on a show with your sock puppet

I’d also like to visit two area arts festivals over the summer as well.  It looks like a huge list, but when you space things out and group some of the smaller things together, it really isn’t too much when your kids are home all summer.  Better building that creativity than having their face in a cell phone!

I still have a couple of days to fill.  What creative things do you like do with your kids?

Planning for Summer: Play Dates

Less than a week ago, after picking up Princess Anna from preschool, she announced from the backseat that this summer, after camp and after her birthday could she have a sleepover at her friends house?  And could she play at her friend’s house?  Because she would have fun.

Now a planned out family summer is fun and all, but sometimes kids just need time to blow off steam with their friends.  Her preschool friend doesn’t live quite as close to us as some of her other friends, but even last summer we made sure they had plenty of time just to play.

That being said, one of the first things I wanted to do when planning this summer was to include her friends.  Last year we had an absolutely wonderful time during spa day, so we wanted to make sure they were included in that.  Craft day was also a hit, and they were there that day also.  And of course a play date here and there.  Now that I have her friend’s vacation schedule, I know when to plan the activities that they won’t want to miss!  But don’t let the play date schedule run your summer.  You still need time to unwind, and you still need family time.  We’ll shoot for play dates every other week maybe, and I think that should be a good balance.

Missed my post about summer trips to museums?  Check it out here!  And keep watching for my next post in my Planning for Summer series: theme days!

Thinking About Summer: Visiting Museums

A few weeks ago, when we were still seemingly in the midst of Winter, I suddenly had the urge to plan out our summer.  So that’s what I did.  Yep–at the beginning of March, I planned out the months of June, July, and August.  Complete with camp adventures.

We knew a while ago that we were doing camp.  Princess Anna is going to Mom & Me Camp for the first time (and she is already packed!), and Rapunzel is going to “Big Girl Camp” for the first time!  We are all so excited.  But of course these camps are short term, and I have a lot of summer to fill.

I’ll be talking in the next few posts about how I scheduled our summer and will be ending with our summer calendar.  But one of the first things I decided to do was to visit museums.  Our family hasn’t been in a financial position…ever…really to visit any museums at a cost.  And just about all of the museums in our area come with a cost.  This year, we aren’t incredibly well off per se, but we are at least finally able to pay our bills, and I knew that our kids could benefit immensely from visiting museums.

Because museums are quite costly, and because there are few I wanted to visit, Prince Charming and I decided to use any extra money I make on the side to put toward a family membership with a children’s museum that has affiliations across the country.  We went with the Family Plus membership, which allows us admission for 6 people (so we can ALL go!), up to three adult cardholders (so a grandparent can take them too!), guest discounts, free access to members-only events, express entry on busy days, and discounts at the museum store, on birthday party packages, on guest memberships, and guest admissions PLUS 50% off general admission to 200+ member museums.  Even if we only visit each museum once and don’t use any other benefit, we are still saving over $26.

Now Princess Anna has this problem called I-have-to-touch-anything-and-everything-especially-if-Mom-doesn’t-want-me-to.  (Reason #2 why we never really went to museums before.)  That’s why our membership includes admission to museums like Port Discovery, Hands on House, and Please Touch Museum.  Now I can breathe a sigh of relief.  I can’t say for sure if we will do this every year, but at least for this year I am pleased to provide my kids with some active learning at a discount.  And what’s better than having your kids learn while having fun?

1 Year and Counting…

Wow!  What a fun (and busy!) summer we had.  Now we’re in the midst of fall and school, soccer seasons, and Wednesday night church programs, homework, and planning for the fall.  Does the busyness ever end?

I wanted to post a little over a week ago but, as usual, ran out of time!  I was excited to (internally) celebrate my one year anniversary of being a (sort of) stay at home mom!  October 1 was my first official day as an unemployed mother, and I can honestly I would never go back.  While the circumstances that surrounded my leaving my full-time job were thoroughly discouraging, I wouldn’t trade the experiences I had in the last year for anything!

I have no doubt that God was at work when he allowed me to leave full time employment.  Only two months into 2013 I had already had to grieve two loved ones and take time off to attend viewings/funerals.  There’s no way my full time job would have allowed that, as neither of the individuals who passed were immediate family.  I had the opportunity to volunteer for Kid Writing numerous times, went on field trips I never could have attended otherwise, and had the opportunity to attend other school functions.

I had a summer off!  (Well, mostly.)  We worked around my part-time work schedule, and I got to take my family to many different parks around the county, libraries, have playdates (my favorite was spa day!), color, read together, snuggle together, make crafts, and more.

I was able to start working out regularly at the gym–something I definitely wouldn’t have time for as a full-time working mom.  I’m working back toward being healthy.

And best of all, I’m able to drop Rapunzel off at the bus stop in the morning, drop off Tinkerbell at preschool three days a week, put in my hours, pick up Tinkerbell from preschool, and still get Rapunzel off the bus–something my full-time job wouldn’t budge on (we’ll just leave it at that.)  And in the meantime I get to help out my working friends who need to get their kids to and from school.

I love how God can take rotten circumstances and turn in them into something beautiful.  When has He done this for you?

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!

Plans Foiled (Again!): Learning to Adjust When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned

Yesterday, my plans were foiled again.

While I was working at church, a friend stopped in to visit.  I had Tinkerbell with me, as she needed to be picked up early from preschool for a short day (they only had preschool graduation practice yesterday).  Suddenly (and when I suddenly, I mean it!)–she started crying hysterically, holding her ear and telling me that it hurt and it was “bubbling”.  Whenever she did stop crying, it wasn’t for long.  She’s had the sniffles and a cough in the morning and evening hours for about three weeks now, so I figured I ought to take her to the doctor right away.  Luckily, I was able to set up an appointment for 1:30 and went straight there from work.  Bet you can’t guess what the issue was.

Yep–ear infection.

Ordinarily, I would try to fix it myself.  Check out my link for earache remedies here.  But with end-of-year activities coming up, I hated for her to miss them.  So we went with the antibiotics right now.  While we were there they gave her some Tylenol, and finally, about half-way home, she finally calmed down.  Now, you’d never be able to tell there was a problem.

As a side note, did you ever wonder why they don’t make adult medicines taste good?  It’s just not fair.

Needless to say, we didn’t have game day yesterday, but I’m hoping we can (maybe) squeeze it in today after our dance party.  Though if we can’t, I can always tack it on to something else.

That’s the thing about making plans.  If you’re going to survive life as a Type A personality (like me!), you need to learn to be flexible–which means flip-flopping plans if necessary, squeezing it in some other time, or just agreeing to wait until a better time in the future.  If you don’t, you’ll go insane.  Believe me–I know!

So whatever your plans are this summer, I hope you relax and go with the flow, adjusting where necessary.  Happy relaxing!