With the start of the Sochi Winter Olympics this week, I have been looking for activities for my kids to do around this theme. Enchanted Homeschooling Mom has a great pack that can be used for Pre-K through 6th grades. Perfect for those families with multi-age kids. This is not just for home schooling, but would make good weekend actives for all kids surrounding the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Every once in a while the time I spend on Pinterest actually yields a good idea. I want to thank I Life Heavy Things for the pinspiration!
This mom made a poster for her kids that deals with the “I’m bored” whine. Because I am all about pointing to a menu or poster until they learn to check there first, I LOVED this idea. I will never draw a poster and I cannot resist the chance to do some graphic design work, I created this printable Bored Poster that you can download and print yourself.
If you like this, check out the THINK poster!
Every family has one. Some of us get two or three. But there is a picky eater in every group. That kid that won’t try something just because it is new. I recently saw a post from a Facebook friend discussing her child’s unwillingness to eat something she prepared as a snack. This reminded me of what our family did when the kids were younger. Our oldest daughter resisted trying new foods on the simple premiss that the food was new. No other reason. There was no way to logic her out of this so we decided to embrace the adventure of new. We created a “Food Passport” for her. Every time she tried a new food, she got a stamp in her passport. Initially, she was allowed to purchase items out of the prize box for 2-3 stamps, and over time we increased the price of things to 5-10 stamps. Eventually she stopped asking to buy things with her stamps and stopped requiring stamps altogether. However, almost 10 years later as a tween, when she tries something new, she still says it is for her food passport. She embraced the adventure of trying new foods and that became a platform for her to embrace all kinds of adventure as we have traveled and lived in different states and foreign countries.
Making a Food Passport can be as simple or complex as you like. We cut pages to be ¼ sheet size, but you can use any size you want or purchase a blank notebook or journal. Decorate the cover (get your kid to help). You can keep it simple, and just have blank pages, or theme pages by type of food (vegetable, fruit, pasta, etc.) or country (American, Mexican, Italian, etc). Being creative and getting the kids involved in the production of the Food Passport will help increase they excitement of using it. If you don’t want to take the time to make something, click on the picture for a kid’s food journal that you can purchase. (Disclaimer – I have never used the journal in the picture. I am always going to opt for saving the money and making it myself!)
As a kid I remember Christmas mornings were always interrupted by someone searching for scissors, batteries, or grabbing a trash bag for all the wrapping paper. In order to minimize the last-minute running around for things on Christmas morning, we use a Christmas Morning Basket.
This simple basket goes under the tree and has all the things we needed for the morning. If you have little kids, be sure the basket is out of their reach or is covers so that they don’t get into things that could hurt them.
Here are some tips of what to put in it:
- Bible – To read the Christmas story before you start opening presents
- Scissors or a pocket knife – We prefer using a Swiss Army knife because it is harder for little kids to get into the sharp parts.
- Batteries (TIP – Take everything out of the packaging and put batteries in before you wrap it! Add some extra batteries to the basket, just in case.)
- Clear trash bag – For bows, bags, and other wrappings that you might want to re-use
- Trash bag – For paper, packaging, and anything else you might want to throw away.
- Small Zipper Bags – For little pieces to games and toys that might otherwise get lost in wrapping paper mess. Snack sized works great for this!
- Sharpie marker – To write on the zipper bags what the pieces go with or to write names or initials on toys that may be the same as another child’s (e.g. two kids in the same family each get the same stuffed animal.)
- Screw Drivers – Include a Phillips and flat-head screw driver for any toys you didn’t assemble prior to wrapping or to open battery compartments if you didn’t add batteries prior to wrapping. TIP – We always assemble and add batteries before wrapping presents.
- Note pad and pen – If you are sharing Christmas morning with someone other than your immediate family, make a note of what gifts they give and who the gifts were for so that you and your children can write thank you cards during the next week.
- Snacks – Especially if you have little kids or you didn’t eat breakfast before opening presents, include granola bars, breakfast bars, or other healthier breakfast alternatives to keep kids from getting too hungry while opening presents.
Around our house we have many assigned chores. We use MyJobChart.com to keep track of everyone’s responsibility charts and the kids are expected to do all their work every day. However, there are often some jobs that come up that are not scheduled and don’t have to be done weekly. For example, we don’t need to rake leaves or pick up sticks out of the yard every week. When these jobs come up, some of the time the kids are expected to help without pay simply because they are part of the family. But there are other jobs that we are willing pay the kids to do. For example, the baseboards need to be dusted/wiped down about once a month. I hate doing this chore and am more than willing to pay the kiddos to do it.
Enter Extra Job Cards! These can printed and then the job is posted on the corkboard attached to our family calendar. The first child to claim the job and do it well gets paid.
TIP: If you use MyJobChart.com extra jobs can also be added there. We have found that the cards get more attention. We also add the job to the children’s online profiles and that is how the actual pay is given.
TIP: Print on and laminate! You have an instant dry-erase card that you can use over and over.
Ok, it isn’t really a new year, but back to school always feels like that chance to start over, much more so to me than January 1 actually. This year is the first year our kids are not actually starting a new grade in the fall (we “leveled up” in April, deciding to let the kids progress when they were ready and not holding them back until fall). Even with that, because my husband is a teacher, this time of year seems like a good point to hit “reset”!
Any major changes to chores or responsibilities are done at this time of year. We reevaluate kids responsibilities and privileges. We make decisions about what extra curricular, church, and social activities we will focus on this academic year. Each kid makes goals for the next 12 months.
This time of year is also a great time to do a whole home reset. If you haven’t, consider creating a family calendar. Set up you home inventory. Do a house clearing out and cleaning from top to bottom.
Happy New (school) Year!
Back to school time, whether at a traditional school coming off a long summer break or a home-schooler returning from a vacation, can be a time of strife and chaos as everyone tries to get back into the “normal” routine. As with most times of change, a combination of organization and flexibility are key. Here are some of my favorite back-to-school tips:
- Homeschool – Here is a collection of home school tips and organizational ideas that have worked well for my family. Some of these are home-school specific, but many can be used by families no matter how you decide to educate your kids.
- School Supply Stock-Up – A list of school supplies to stock up on whenever they are on sale
- Back-to-School Schedule – Tips for getting your kids back onto a school (and not a vacation) clock
- Back-to-School Trial Run – Making a day to “practice” going to school
- Morning Cards – A simple system for taking the chaos out of busy mornings
- Packing Lunches – Tips for setting up an easy-to-use, kid friendly lunch packing station
- Lunch Notes – Cute notes to put into your kids lunches
- Must-Have School Items – A list of must haves
- Color-Coded Family – How to organized your family through color – even in their school supplies!
- Family Calendar – A must-have for busy families
- Monday Morning Organization – Start your week off right with these tips for Mondays
Even though we don’t actually go back to school at this time of year anymore it is still one of my favorite times. My husband is a teacher so he does go back at this time of year, and it is always a time of transition from summer to a fall schedule. This is my “New Years”! We set goals for the next 12 months, stock up on school supplies (the only kind of shopping I actually like), and in general use this as a time to re-set the family.