20 Craft Supplies Every Kid Should Have

Kid Craft Supplies

I believe that everyone approaches crafting time differently. Some may anticipate it and bend over backwards to carve out that time.  Some enjoy crafting spontaneously.  Sometimes like just needs to take a break while you fire up your hot glue gun and go to town.  No matter which category you fit into I bet you feel like crafting is a relaxing affair.  A place where you can sit and let your creativity overflow and you don’t have to think about the worries of life.  I love crafting and enjoyed it since I was a kid.  Now that I have children I want to pass along my love for creating something from little pieces of nothing.  Making something beautiful out of otherwise trash-worthy items thrills my heart.

I know not all mamas feel the joy of crafting that I do but still want to create the bonding moment that is crafting with kids.  To help you out I want to give you a list of my go-to craft supplies.  Sure, you can feel free to add in a cleaned out milk jug lid or a left over twist tie.  Add what you want to the list but to get your creative juices flowing I’m going to share my basic bare bones list.  (Trust me, you don’t want me to lay out all that I have because it’s a lot.  We craft several times a week and would do several crafts a day if the decision was left up to my kids.)  This post contains my affiliate links.

1.  Crayons:  Crayola, crayola, crayola!  I’ve used others and I always come back to Crayola.  Call me a crayon snob if you want! 🙂  I usually stock up on the 24 and 36 packs during the back-to-school season and keep them out of reach of the kiddos until the current box is in nubs.  We’ll then take those numbs and toss them in a bin until we have enough to melt down and make our own crayon molds (they make great birthday party favors!).  I’ve been eyeing this 152 Crayola color set from Amazon and I’ll probably be investing in it soon.  So many colors!!

2.  Glue & Glue Sticks: Glue sticks are great for most things but liquid glue is a must in some situations so it’s a good idea to have both on hand.  This Crayola Washable School Glue is my favorite for little kids because it has a precise applicator and it’s slow flow.  No more gluey messes!  Elmer’s Purple Glue Sticks are my favorite because they’re colored and you can see where the glue is…okay, who am I kidding?  I just love them because they’re purple!  Glue Dots would be great with older kids but I haven’t shown them to my children yet because I’m afraid they would enjoy putting ALL the dots EVERYWHERE! 🙂

3.  Paper:  Construction Paper & Cardstock.  Paper is the foundation of most crafts so stock up on these babies.  I love cardstock because it is thick (which means less messes and it’s easier for little hands to cut) and holds up well to all sorts of paint.  I’m not picky on cardstock brands but I just try to get a heavy weight.  Construction paper seems to be the same colors no matter the brand, with one little exception.  Melissa & Doug’s construction paper has slightly lovelier colors.  I’m still waiting for the day when a company makes really pretty colored construction paper but I’m afraid my kids will be grown by the time that happens.  Hey, maybe I can be the crafting grandma!

4.  Child Scissors:   These Melissa & Doug scissors are great for early beginners and then any child scissors will do.  If your child is left handed do them a favor by getting them a pair of left handed kid scissors for them.  It didn’t dawn on me to do this till I happened to see some in the back-to-school isle one day and the light bulb went off.  My daughter cuts almost as good as I do now!

5.  Washable Paint:  Crayola’s Washable Paint paint is the perfect paint for nearly every project.  It’s thick so it won’t get all over everything (with adult supervision of course).  At our house we also love the Crayola Neon Paint Set and hope to try the Crayola Glitter Paint Set soon!  I don’t mess with the fancy paint cups or pallets, I just get a paper plate and put a glob of each color on it.  No clean up required!

6. Paintbrishes:  Sure, there are a 101 ways that you can paint without a paintbrush but brushes are generally neater and therefore my go-to.  The Crayola Assortment Paintbrush Set is my favorite and we’ve tried quite a few.  The brushes hold up very well and the quality is so nice that I’ve even used them for a few of my adult painting projects.

7.  Watercolors:  Watercolors are great when the kids get a little older but can be frustrating for very young children.  I started with a cheap watercolor set from Target’s dollar section and as my daughter’s skills improved we graduated her to the Alex Toys Watercolor Set.  The colors in here are absolutely stunning!

8.  Liquid Watercolors: Liquid watercolors are also AMAZING!  Every adult and kid who likes to play with paint should own this set of Sax liquid watercolors.  The colors are bold and beautiful.  You can dilute them with water if you want and they are washable!  These pipettes help in transferring the paint to a pallet or a small glass cup (as we use) and these watercolor pens are incredible!!  I’ve bought a set for my kids and a set for myself.  They make hand lettering with the watercolors very fun.  I’m not very good yet but I love to practice.  You can fill the pen with the liquid watercolor, leave empty to work with liquid watercolors, or fill with water to use with the dry pods of watercolor.  I just have to mention that this is my favorite book for using liquid watercolors with when I want to save the picture.  The paper is thick and nice and perfect for adult use…and sometimes I let the kiddos use it too.

9. Oil Pastels:  I’m still a tad bitter that no one told me about these until I was an adult!  These are the things creative girls should know about.  These were what I always wished crayons were!  Lovely, thick, mixable colors!  Seriously, these are beautiful!  It’s probably no surprise to you that Crayola Pastels are my favorite.  The Amazon reviews say that they are just as good as the fancy pants artist’s pastels so I’ll take their word for it and stick with these inexpensive gems!

10. Craft Sticks:  These craft sticks, aka popsicle sticks, come in a variety of sizes and are great for letting the kids use their imaginations.  They could transform them into anything! While they do come in a lot of colors and sizes we mainly stick with the regular sized craft sticks and the jumbo craft sticks.

11. Pom Poms:  These are so much fun to hold, build, and craft with.  I’ve even used them as a sensory/fine motor skills game with my little one as he put them in an empty coffee creamer container….over and over and over again.  You can pick these up almost anywhere but this set on Amazon has some truly lovely colors in it and a variety of sizes in one package.  This is one of those craft items that you’ll want to use the liquid glue with.

12. Clothespins & Doll Pins: Doll pins are absolutely perfect for making little people!  When buying clothespins look for ones that are specifically for crafts or double check that they’re smooth and not rough.  Some I’ve bought could have easily given someone a splinter if they weren’t careful and children aren’t careful.

13.  Pipe cleaners:  Pipe cleaners are fun to hold and bend even if that’s all you do.  Plus, you can make our super cool borax snowflakes with them!  Jumbo pipe cleaners are also fun in our house although I don’t think we’ve ever actually made a craft with them. 🙂  They are very fun to play with though!

14.  Googly Eyes:  Googly eyes make me feel like a kid again!  I love these things!!!  They come in all sorts of colors and sizes too.  Just be careful with these around little ones or stick with the jumbo googly eyes till they’re older.

15. Craft Foam:  The sheets are thick, durable, and comes in a lot of fun colors!  We save our left over craft foam pieces in a zip lock baggie to keep the waste and mess down. Foam stickers are also a great addition to your craft supply, especially if you don’t like the hassle of cutting little foam pieces out.

16. Contact Paper:  To be honest, I’m just now finding myself in love with this sticky substance called contact paper.  It makes tremendous sun catchers and fun sticky collages with magazine clippings (all pink things, random letters writing the child’s name, etc.).

17. Washi Tape:  It’s the easiest way to decorate, well, anything and it’s completely mess free.  The glitter washi tape is my favorite!

18. Pony Beads:  Pony beads are fun to glue onto a project but our favorite use of them is to make all sorts of bracelets and necklaces.  They have primary colored beads, neon colored beads, transparent beads, glitter beads, glow in the dark beads, and even beads that change color in the sun!

19.  Letter Beads:  Letter beads are also great for jewelry, not to mention practice with letters and spelling too!  They come in black and white beads and also colored letter beads.

20. Gems & Pearls:  I am a girlie girl and am raising a girlie girl.  We love the gems and the pearls that have flat backs and can be glued on anything.

That’s all that I can think of at the moment.  You’ll notice glitter (as much as I love it, it’s not for your average crafter.  You have to loooove it to make it enjoyable!) and markers didn’t make my list.  I like clean crafting. 🙂

Craft Storage

To keep my craft supplies organized and my sanity intact I use Creative Options’ Medium Rack System.  They sent me a sample a few months back and it has revolutionized my craft chaos.  I’ve even bought an extra one (or two lol).  You can check them out for yourself on CreativeOptionsCraft.com or buy them on Amazon or Hobby Lobby.  They hold everything in neat little compartments and you can pull out separate sections to bring to the craft table for easy working.

If you’re unfamiliar with kid’s crafting I do hope you’ll give it a try.  It can be a lot of fun!

5 Sanity Saving Tips for Holiday Travel

This helpful post contains affiliate links and is sponsored by Randall Dodge Chrysler Jeep.  If you’re in the market for a new vehicle visit RandallDodgeChryslerJeep.com

July 2. That was the date when it had seemed like a great idea to travel home to spend the kids Christmas Break with your family. Amidst pictures in your head of jammie wearing cousins snuggling on your mom’s couch on Christmas morning you bought the plane tickets.

Now, 2 days before you travel, you’re watching your two little angels bicker over which movie to watch and you’re panicking. School has only been out for 3 days and you’re already feeling your patience thin.

What if there are weather delays? That happens right? Not just in the movies. What if they fight and spill their juice on the person next to them? What if your 6 year old takes your 4 year olds doll away and she starts crying and everyone on the plane gives you the long suffering totally annoyed stare? What if your baby has a potty accident?…maybe the tickets are refundable…

Or, you could do a little pre-planning and have an amazing and stress free trip. Now that would totally rock! And then you could go ahead and buy those matching cousin jammies for Christmas Eve.

5 Easy Tips for Holiday Travel with Kids

1. The Go Bag
Put together a bag for each child that has new toys/books that they’ve never seen before. If they love coloring buy them a new book with a new set of crayons. The dollar store and the Target $1.00 bins are great places to source these items from.  Amazon is great too when you don’t want to run out and run another errand before your trip!  Mini Play-Doh cartons, individual lego kits, new books, all fairly inexpensive, but totally worth the peace and serenity each will earn.

2. Healthy Snacks
Traveling can be exhausting for everyone, the kiddo’s are no exception. Eating in the airport and on the go is not only expensive, but the unhealthy options will sap energy quickly. We’ve all seen the after math of a sugar crash, and it’s not a pretty sight. Have some non-sugary snacks available to help them keep their energy up throughout the day. The day before, buy some fruit and nuts if they are not allergic. Individual packs of mandarin oranges and peaches are great choices. (These count in the individual allowances for liquid carry-on’s if flying.) Favorite granola bars or a bag of granola is also easy carry.

3. Separate Seats
If you have button tiny button pushers, why not give them a little space? If possible, choose seats across the aisle, have one parent sit with each child. You’re close enough to be able to share resources and chat, but everyone gets a little personal space as well. If you’re a single parent traveling with 2 or more, take the middle seat and alternate the window turns on different flight segments.

4. Check in Early
Online check-in opens for most airlines 24 hours early. The earlier you check in the less likely you are to get “bumped” in the case of an oversold flight. Less time stranded in an airport unwillingly is a win win. It also ensures you have the greatest amount of time to verify your seat assignments and contact customer service as needed if you need to ask to be reasigned. Verify that you are all assigned together, then re-verify within 2 hours of your flight.

Remember, while you are purchasing a flight, the airline is not required to accommodate you seated together. Most will make every effort to do so, but don’t hesitate to ask if needed. Sometimes planes are swapped out for a new plane with a different seating configuration. The automated system might not have seated you together and a live agent can adjust those assignments.

5. Choose Flight Times Wisely
That 6 am flight seems like a great idea when you’re thinking of having the afternoon at your destination. However, when you take into account how early you really are going to have to get up to get ready and get to the airport, allowing sufficient time for longer security lines, is it really worth it? Why not treat the travel as an adventure. Allow extra time in between flights if you have a layover for a relaxed lunch. Explore the airports, most have kid play areas and art on display. Everyone will arrive a few hours later, but relaxed and in a better mood.

These are just a few suggestions to help you plan a great traveling experience with your family. What has worked for you in the past with your kids?

Tis’ The Season to Travel Jolly

This post is sponsored by Patterson Chrysler Dodge.  If you’re in the market for a new car visit PattersonChryslerDodge.com

Kid in the snow

The perfect Christmas scene begins with the scent of hot coffee brewing in the kitchen, lights twinkling brightly around a tree filled with bright baubles, the kids squealing in excitement as they unwrap their gifts, and most importantly, the whole family gathered around to share in the fun. This is the love, kindness, and magic we all hope to have during the season, but traveling to get there, isn’t always a warm and joyful experience. Here are some travel tips for the kids:

-Seasonal Snacks– Tis’ the season to indulge in delicious and festive holiday treats, right? Packing the kids adorable little snacks for the trip will make it fun and memorable while keeping stomachs full. Cookie cut sandwiches into a Christmas tree shape, have some “cold” hot chocolate by adding mini marshmallows to a jug of chocolate milk, put red and green M&M’s into the snack mix, the ideas are endless.

-Surprise Sacks-Pack a few brown paper lunch sacks with small stocking stuffers. On each bag write a certain time, for example the half way mark, once that time is reached allow the kids to open the sacks for a surprise. This will also allow you to get little items then can play with in the car or on a plane.  I completely recommend these Dover Little Sticker Books for less than $2 each,  Melissa & Doug Water Wow book, a rubik’s cube, and a fidget widget.

-Christmas Concert– Remember when we were young and would sing in the car? That never gets old, turn up your favorite holiday CD and belt out the songs as a family. Instruments are optional! (As you’ve heard me mention numerous times, Justin Roberts is THE go-to music for families! Trust me, you’ll love him!)

A sprinkle of creativity, a dash of joy, and a spoonful of love will guarantee a collection of new Christmas memories with your traveling family. Each of these tips is also a chance to teach about how priceless the time spent together truly is.

Happy Kids on Road Trips

This helpful post is sponsored by Hiley Volkswagon of Arlington.

Kids in the Car

There is nothing that spoils a road trip like an unhappy child – cooped up, cranky, bored and the kid’s aren’t too happy either. If you are going over 50 miles with kids under 12 you are going to want to have a game plan and load the car with plenty of kid friendly gear, food bribes, and fun activities. These tips are sure fire tools for success.

  • –  Comfort. At this point in parenthood you probably don’t need to be told to make sure the kids empty their bladder before leaving but just in case you need the reminder this is #1. If they say they don’t need to go, don’t trust them…MAKE THEM GO! After that is out of the way, be sure and dress them comfortably and cut out some of the complaining by putting them in loose, comfy clothes. Avoid tight waist bands, collared and buttoned up shirts, and anything that doesn’t support total comfort.
  • –  Snacks. Next you are going to want to pack snacks – Preferably items that won’t completely destroy your vehicles interior. Nothing sticky, oozing, or hard to clean.  Dried fruit, fruit snacks, pretzels, goldfish, and  juice boxes. Wet wipes and hand sanitizer are also must have items. Let them pack some items they want to have along for the ride-grab a small backpack or basket that will fit in the backseat and let them choose items like crayons and paper, their favorite book, doll, or handheld game (don’t forget the headphones). Dollar store cookie sheets make great activity trays for the road, throw on some magnets and you have a busy board that will keep kids from toddlers to tweens busy.
  • –  Music and Movies. Let them have a turn choosing music and the movies if you have portable dvd players in the car.  Keep in mind that it is their trip too and allowing them to have some say so will lead to increased cooperation (just choose movies ahead of time that you can tolerate, if not enjoy).
  • – Play games WITH them.  Punch Buggy, License Plate Bingo, anything to pass time and keep their minds occupied.  Who can spot the most pickups in 20 minutes?  How many yellow cars are in the state of North Carolina? Make them up as you go, be a part of the fun and you might find the trip goes faster for you too.
  • – Sing songs together.  Justin Robert’s music is our all time favorite.  If you have kids and HATE “kid’s music” you have to check this out!  Fun music that will have you reminiscing of your own childhood and singing the songs to yourself when you’re not even around your kids.
  • –  Stop occasionally. Kids are meant to move, it is cruel and unusual to strap them in and expect them to stay within the confines of a seat belt or car seat for 10 hours. Every once in awhile find a rest stop or even a park, let everyone out to stretch their arms and legs, have a run or quick game of catch if possible to get the blood pumping and burn off some energy (be sure to pack a football, a jump rope, or a Frisbee for stops).  This will make the time in the car a little easier to handle.

If you’re a pro traveler with kids I would love to hear what tips and tricks that have worked for you!

Drinkable Premama Prenatal Vitamins

Being pregnant changes a lot about a person.  Everything actually.  A woman’s world is totally rocked and now their focus is on the little baby inside them and no longer about themselves.

Pregnant Mama

This post was sponsored by Premama as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

From the way we dress to the things we put in our body, we notice everything!  Germs seem to not exist in places that they never did before.  Second hand smoke used to just be annoying and now it’s deadly.  No longer is plastic safe to eat off of because it contains chemicals that may leach into food and into my baby.  Not to mention the number of foods that pregnant women are warned to avoid…and the ones that they need to eat to give their baby the best shot possible.  There’s so much for a new mama to take in!

With all the new stress a pregnant mama goes through (including trying not to stress because that’s bad for the baby!) there’s one thing they don’t need to feel guilty over.  Prenatal vitamins.  If you’re pregnant and struggling to survive the prenatal vitamins your doctor prescribed ask him about Premama products.

Premama Vitamin Drink Mix

Premama products are great for before pregnancy (Did you know you should take vitamins before you become pregnant?  It’s true!), during pregnancy (prenatals), or after your pregnancy (Their Premama Lactation is perfect for nursing mamas).  Premama vitamin drink mixes are delicious on their own or can be mixed in with your own favorite breakfast smoothie.  They are rich in folic acid with levels similar to many prescription prenatal vitamins, and equal to, or greater than most leading over the counter brands.  Premama products also have Omega-3 fatty acids and non-constipating iron (which are often found only in prescription prenatal multivitamins.)

Premama Drink Mix

While pregnant (and always really!) it’s important for women to take care of themselves and their babies.  An easy way to do that is with Premama products that are perfect for women trying to conceive, expecting or lactating post baby.

meijer

Head to the vitamin section of your local Meijer store to take advantage of these money saving offers (September 12 – 25, 2016)!

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multivitamins

If you want to try Premama for yourself you can for free!  From now until September 29th you can receive a free sample of Premama Lactation or Premama Fertility!  Simply follow the actions on the widget below to claim your free sample and $5 coupon.

Premama Facebook Sampling

For a store near you that carries Premama products, you can visit their store locator.  For additional information visit Premama’s websitePremama on Facebook, and Premama on Instagram.

Things No One Tells You About Being a Mom

I’ve teamed up with Poise as part of the Mom It Forward Blogger Network to tell you the truth about being a mom.

Being a Mom

Babies are marvelous aren’t they?  They come into our lives smelling sweetly like only a baby can smell, with soft skin, and tiny fingers.  They are expert cuddlers from the get-go and just as fast they have you wrapped around their finger.  No matter how many parenting books you’ve read, kid’s you’ve babysat, or birth stories you’ve watched, nothing will prepare you for the journey that is motherhood.

Babies are completely worth it but there are several things that no one tells you about motherhood beforehand.  I’ve rounded up a group of mama friends to give you the low-down on embarrassing mom moments no one ever warns you about.  We share these frank experiences, or words of wisdom, to help you to embrace motherhood with a bit more knowledge and confidence.

Names have been changed to protect the embarrassed. 🙂

Courtney: I pee on myself every time I sneeze, laugh, or cough… It’s horrible.

Bethany: My body odor changed.  Like after a workout, I’ll never be able to do anything but immediately shower.

Carrie: Baby happened to prefer the boob that was naturally larger anyways. Now I have huge boob and little boob.

Jenn: Yep, saggy boobs, floppy boobs, mushy boobs…sense a theme here? Lol feet grew a tiny bit with each pregnancy too so I’m now a size 9 instead of an 8. Ummmmm premature balding thanks to hormones….. Definitely cannot run or workout without peeing first haha

Judy: Nursing is a nightmare for the first few months, because my body thinks I have triplets. All I have to do is bend over, and it starts coming!. I remember just standing there in shock, watching this 3-foot spray coming out of me, while my husband just stood there and laughed.

Jenny:  I get SO HOT so easily now. (Not fun when you live in the south and most of the summer is 100* and 100% humidity) I sweat a lot more too and the odor. 🙁 I’m so embarrassed.  Also, I can’t start dishes or anything having to do with water until I go to the bathroom first. 😬

Ashley: Um… Wardrobe malfunctions due to toddlers performing alligator death rolls to escape.

Marcy: I have the inability to hold my pee sometimes.  There are times that I end up cleaning the bathroom floor after a failed attempt to get my pants down fast enough.

Sarah:  Cabin pressure mixed with full boobs equals milk facial for baby. Sorry baby…

Tiffany:  I second the squishy boob comment not to sound weird but I had really great boobs before I got pregnant. Didn’t really realize they’d get so…floppy… Lol

Alexia: with the saggy boobs..and hair loss!! If my hair doesn’t stop falling out, I’m gonna need some rogain soon!!  Oh and the trend where girls shave the side of their heads I’ve achieved that naturally, thank you hormones.

Anne: My boobs. I mean after #3 they just weren’t even close to the same.

Stephanie:  Mommy brain is a real thing! Hubby makes me close my eyes sometimes just to finish a sentence! And one time, I was with a couple of my close guy friends and one of them had to tell me I was leaking through my shirt…

Kristen: This isn’t really a body thing per se, but my child pulled my skirt down to my ankles in front of a window at a restaurant downtown during lunch hour.  Also my dad was there.

Lauren:  This one stretch mark on my boob is perfectly placed so a big blue vein shows through. It looks really funny lol.

Stacie:  My boobs don’t hang evenly. Or they aren’t the same size, not sure which it is.  It started during pregnancy! I need to find some thicker bras now or I’m always wearing patterned shirts to help camouflage the problem!

Ashli:  Jumping jacks are not the best form of exercise any more, unless you enjoy seeing yourself on every jumping Jack.

Catherine: The jiggling. When I jog, it sounds like my body is giving me a standing ovation…..

Brittany: Pretty sure I thought I had regained decent bladder control at 3 months PP but the trampoline park with my husband’s work proved me wrong…

Carla:  Awful hair postpartum! It fell out (as it’s supposed to) but I have curly hair and the new hair growing in at my part is an inch long and always frizzy! Not even hair spray can tame that beast!

Jessica: Feeling like you have an internal canyon just above your belly button from where your abs are trying to come back together.

Abigail: Oh, yeah, Jessica, the way your abs look when you try to do a sit-up. It freaked me out the first time I saw it! My Dr. said he had a patient who was a fitness trainer who tried to sue him because of that!

Crystal:  The loss of the ability to hold my flatulence. Working out, going to the park, making dinner… Seriously, I just cannot control it.

Heather:  The feeling that your insides are going to fall out with every step for the first…oh…2-3 months!  I was anxious to get back to running and when I did (after my 6-wk checkup), I almost looked behind me to be sure I hadn’t left my uterus a few steps back…

Meredith:  Finishing coaching a volleyball game only look down and find 2 ginormous wet circles on each boob. Lovely. Also the hair regrowth that sticks up straight and NOTHING will keep it down.

Hillary:  The fact that I just found a ginormous chunk of pizza that had been in my hair for 3 hours and I had no clue. Also, The faint smell of ketchup that plagues you all day until bed time when you realize that your toddler smeared ketchup across your chest at lunch.

There you have it!  Real life accounts from real moms.  Which was your favorite?

standing ovation

This quote from Catherine was my favorite! It’s also my least favorite because it’s so true!

I noticed a theme throughout these, did you?  Boobs and pee.  I have no advice to help you get your pre-baby boobs back but at least there are products out there to help you with the pee.  Kegels are great but while you’re working those muscles back into shape you might want to look into a product that has you covered. The Poise brand teamed up with Brooke Burke-Charvet to start a dialogue about light bladder leakage (LBL) and to empower women to seize their Poise moment.  That moment being the point where they stop letting leaks interrupt their lives and reach for products, like Poise Thin-Shape Light Absorbency pads.  The new Poise Thin-Shape Light Absorbency pads are the thinnest pads for LBL.  They offer 3-in-1 protection, are designed to move with you and are 40% thinner than the original, but they stay 3 times dryer.  If you’re part of the 1 in 3 women who suffer from LBL, visit Poise.com to request a free sample and learn more about LBL.  For instance, did you know that there are more people with bladder leakage in their 20’s than in their 80’s?  Before having kids I would have never believed it!

Motherhood is a journey and as anyone who has ever been on a road trip will attest, it’s more fun with friends.  The best advice I can offer new moms is to befriend other moms, especially veteran moms.  You need someone who understands you and someone that will pick out that food that’s been in your hair all day.

Homeschooling on Vacation

This post is sponsored by Browning Dodge and contains affiliate links.  If you’re in the market for a new reliable vehicle for travel check out BrowningDodge.com.

How to Homeschool on Vacation

While I’m just setting off on this homeschooling journey of ours I’m jumping in with both feet.  That’s nothing new though.  Since both of my kids have been born though I’ve been talking to them about everything I do, reading to them every chance I get, telling stories when we’re not around books, asking them questions, helping them explore the outdoors around them, and instilling in them the values and manners that are so important to me.  I’m intentional.  Very intentional.  So much so that it’s exhausting some days and then we loosen up and try again.  Life is a constant struggle like that, isn’t it?  Try, try, try, try too hard, don’t try, wait – okay try again, try, try, try.  Balance.  Balance is such a simple word to say and yet it’s the most difficult one to live out.

We’re officially starting school tomorrow and yes, cute stage photos will be coming along shortly.  While I have my lesson plans ready and all my hand picked curriculum laid out in a row I’m going to work at my plans diligently and try to make learning as fun as possible.  Learning should always be fun!  Then a handful of weeks later I’m going to throw it all out the window for a five day break.  Why you ask?  Because we’re going on vacation!!!  I’m very excited about the time away and am just as excited about teaching my kids, especially my daughter about the beach.  We just picked a travel date yesterday and I’ve already got our packing list made and our meal plan ready.  Now I’m starting on what I can teach my kids about the beach before we go.  Just because I like to throw my thoughts out on a page sometimes I’m writing this post.  Additionally, I’m hoping it will be helpful for others who want to combine homeschooling and vacations.  If you’re a seasoned homeschool mom I would love your opinions and ideas so feel free to comment with those below.  Now, onto my plans…

Plan the Trip – I’m hoping to show my daughter the state we’re traveling to on a map of the US.  I also want to show her a detailed maps of roads and highways and show her the different paths we could go and let her highlight the way her mom and dad have already chosen to go.  Maybe we could even put stickers on places that would be great for rest stops.  She’ll also love to watch our gps in the car as it travels along our chosen path.

Read – Because we love reading this is a natural fit for our family.  I’m excited to research fish, sea turtles, other ocean life, and books that include swimming.  For my son the book list will probably look like: Rainbow Fish bath book (bonus points because I can take it to the beach since it’s a plastic book!), Dr. Seuss’ Clam-I-Am (All About the Beach), Over the Ocean (In a Coral Reef), Seashells by the Seashore, and Curious George Goes to The Beach The beginning reading list for my daughter includes: The Berenstain Bears By The Sea, National Geographic Readers: Sea Turtles (I just discovered that National Geographic has early reader books, how exciting!), The Usborne Internet-Linked First Encyclopedia of Seas & Oceans (there are several copies on Amazon now for $0.01 + shipping! I just bought one and thought I’d share.), Secrets of the Seashore Shine-a-Light book, and Seashore beginners book.  I also want to check out the state and area we’re traveling to and see if there is any history that would be appropriate and interesting for young kids.

Audio Books – Maybe we’ll listen to audio books, maybe.  Maybe we’ll just talk and have a blast singing Justin Robert’s tunes at the top of our lungs.  Yea, we’ll probably just do that for the majority of the trip but we’ll have an audio book cd or two packed just in case.  Lamplighter audio books are superb.  We love all of their material that we’ve read or heard.  Adventures in Odyssey is another great choice – check out their The Ultimate Road Trip: Family Vacation Collection.

Plan the Itinerary – I want my daughter to help plan the itinerary of our trip.  She won’t get the last say of course and itineraries are meant to be broken but it will be fun to work together on our plans while building the anticipation of the trip.  We can plan for things like a sea shell hunt, going for ice cream, ordering something we’ve never tried before at a restaurant (maybe a buffet is a good idea to try this at!), playing putt putt, and drawing a picture of the ocean from our balcony.

Busy Bags – Between now and our departure date I plan on making lots and lots of busy bags for our trip.  Some will be simple activities like a Melissa & Doug Water Wow book (no paint, just water – I love these!!), Dover Sticker Activity books (the prices vary but they’re always under $2 shipped from Amazon – these are great for little ones sitting in church too!), lacing cards, Melissa & Doug Scratch Art (I haven’t tried these before but they look fun for kids!), and The Cube (a smaller version of the Rubik’s cube. It’s 2×2 instead of 3×3.  I don’t think I would instruct them on how to use it but let them have fine motor fun with it.).  I also plan on including my own homemade busy bags that may include felt pieces of clothes for the felt doll, or clothes pins that have a number on them that need to be clipped onto the correct paper with that many items, etc.  I’m thinking of randomly rewarding my kids for good behavior on the trip by giving them a small toy.  My daughter would love a small princess doll or anything that came from the dollar store and my son would love any figurine puppy or Thomas the Train Minis (Have you seen these?  They are so tiny and adorable!).

Games – In the evenings before bed I think it would be fun to spend time relaxing together playing a board game.  My son is just now at the age where he can comprehend the basic rules of games.  I think the game Cootie would be a great game for us as a family.  We can talk about the colors, count the pieces, and of course the counting on the die.

Observation – I’m hoping to try and observe as much as possible and point out things to my kids.  Sure, sometimes I’ll just be exhausted, hot, and ready to put the kids down for a nap but most of the time I’m hoping to be a fun mom.  Observing which toy makes the biggest splash in the water is still fun.  I don’t plan on finding a butterfly and waxing on about metamorphosis.  Just taking opportunities to observe and talk about the things we see is an incredible way to bond as a family.  Learning is a bonus!

I think that’s all I have.  As I said earlier, if you have any other ideas to share please let me know.  I want to have a fun, relaxing, and educational vacation without having to go to museums all day and I think that’s possible!

America’s Best Road Trips

This post is brought to you by SheridanFordSales.com

There’s nothing like a good old fashioned road trip with your windows cranked down and the music cranked up.  What better way is there the see the beautiful United States of America (excluding a flight to Hawaii of course!)?  Now that that’s settled all that’s left to do is take off work, pick where to go, and head out on that open road.  To help you choose I’m listing a handful of America’s Best Road Trips!

Grand Canyon

  •  –  The Grand Canyon, Arizona.  Ever since the Brady’s visited there on TV Land I’ve wanted to visit. I’ll just make sure not to get lost like Bobby and Cindy did.

Amish Country

  • –  The Amish Country, Homes, OH.  If you’re wanting to get off the grid for a while and enjoy life a the slower place this is a great place to visit.  Their food is delicious and their craftsmanship is to be admired.

The Blue Ridge Parkway

  • –  The Blue Ridge Parkway which stretches 469 miles along the Appalachian Mountains and connects two national parks, North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains and Virginia’s Shenandoah.

Overseas Highway

  • –  Key West, Florida by way of U.S. Route 1 or better known as the Overseas Highway.  This is a gorgeous stretch of road that I would love to visit some day!

Maine's Coastline

  • –  Maine. I would love to visit Maine in the fall but I hear Maine’s coastline is lovely all year long.  There would be plenty of fun spotting light houses and enjoying fresh lobster.

Red Rock Scenic Byway

  • –  Red Rock Scenic Byway, starts at Sedona, Arizona.  This 7.5 mile stretch is a beauty!

Route 66

  • –  Route 66, Illinois to California.  Go get your kicks on Route 66.

Million Dollar Highway

  • –  Million Dollar Highway, Silverton to Ouray, Colorado.  This section of U.S. Highway 550 reaches more than two miles above sea level as it weaves its way between two historic gold-mining towns. It’s breath-taking because of the view and the altitude.

I know I’ve had to have left off some superior destinations because our country is so vast and beautiful! Please let me know what else I should have included in the comments below!

Make Over Your Mornings – On Sale!

This post contains affiliate links.

I’ve spoke before about how Crystal’s Make Over Your Mornings program was very beneficial to me.  Life changing even.  Her Make Over Your Evenings was also very, very helpful.  Well, right now through August 15th there is a tremendous sale on both of these and I just had to share.

You can snag Make Over Your Mornings for just $10!!
Her companion course of Make Over Your Evenings is also on sale for just $10
OR purchase BOTH courses for just $17!!! (That makes each course 50% OFF)!

If you’re running on that hamster wheel of exhaustion, slow down and savor this course because it can revolutionize your life.  That sounds like an enormous, unattainable claim but the topics she covers really, truly helps you prioritize your life and what matters to your family.  Once you have your priorities laid out you can arrange the rest of your day around them.  Plus, she shares a lot of practical tips that are very helpful too!

 

Sandwich Sushi for Kids

This post and giveaway were made possible by iConnect and Buddig. I was compensated for my participation in this campaign, but all opinions are 100% mine.

Buddig Giveaway

Over the summer I’ve tried a lot of creative lunches for my kids and I’ve shared a few of them with you already here and here.  Today’s idea incorporates one of my kid’s favorite food items…the tortilla.  I love tortilla as much as the next person but my kids have a unhealthy fascination with this bread product.  They would eat it as a snack all day long if I let them.  Just this morning I caught my daughter sneaking a tortilla from the fridge this morning to eat with her breakfast. (Who does that? lol)

Not only does this lunch include their favorite things tortilla, Buddig Premium Deli meat, blueberries, Craisins, and peanuts but it’s also fabulous because the kids can make their own lunch themselves!  My kids still need a little supervision, especially with the cutting part, but it’s exciting to watch them make their own creations.  I’ve watched this time and time again, when my daughter helps prepare a meal she seems to takes ownership of it and will eat it better than if I prepared it myself.

This creation is a smiley face.  The sandwich sushi rolls are the eyes and nose.  The blueberries and Craisins make up the smile.  The peanuts make the hair.
Sandwich Sushi

Check out our amateur stop action how to video:

A video posted by Ashley (@embracingbeauty) on

Totally doable and fun, right?  Spinach leaves or lettuce could easily be added as ears.  Ranch dressing could be earrings.  The sky is the limit!

Summer of Smiles:

Buddig not only makes great tasting and affordable lunch meat but they’re offering a fun contest this summer.  The summer of smiles! 🙂  There are so many reasons this time of year that make us smile – warm weather, sunny days, picnic lunches, family vacations & more.  Consumers are asked to post a picture of their family enjoying summer and flashing their biggest smiles on Facebook using the #BuddigSmiles.

Every week from June 16 – August 18 Buddig will randomly select 12 entries to receive a $25 American Express gift card – that’s 108 total winners and a whole lot of smiles! 🙂