field trip fridays (& some review)

Happy Summer!

We have finished the school year, so that means Boone is officially a first grader (YIKES). Jonah’s officially very two, which has nothing to do with the fact that school is done. It does explain why he’s frequently covered in food and/or without pants.

We kicked off summer in the purest, most innocent way possible… Boone had the stomach flu. Thankfully it truly was a “24 hour bug,” and he hasn’t been so kind as to share it with anyone else.

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Ah yes Jonah, a yogurt hair mask. How very pinteresty of you.

So our very first masterchef monday got off to somewhat of a rough start, as the chef-in-training was down for the count. He requested “goldfish and gatorade” for breakfast (which he barely touched), so we definitely weren’t going to push any sort of food prep. He drifted in and out of sleep and The Legend of Zelda on the couch. I was somehow able to convince him to do a math worksheet (“I’m really good at math, mama, even when I’m sick” — at least he’s modest), and he made his own breakfast today (fruit and yogurt parfait), so he’s certainly back on the upswing.

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Mathin’ it up on a messy summer counter.
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Eat your heart out, Gordon Ramsay.

Today was our first tech-free tuesday, and I’m pleased (and slightly afraid of jinxing it) to say that it was fantastic! When Boone first woke up he said, “hey, while you make breakfast can I watch — OH! Nevermind, it’s tech-free Tuesday!” (Woohoo!)

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Ink pen and notepad, my two trusty summer companions.

Jason was home so he and Boone had some one-on-one fun time which surely helped. I mentioned in an earlier post that Boone would have “screen time cards” to earn and use for screen time in the summer (with the exception of Tuesdays, of course). Boone decided these cards should absolutely be in the shape of rupees from the video game The Legend of Zelda. Thanks to Jason’s fantastic dad skills, Boone got his wish today.

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Painting some rupee-shaped screen time cards, like ya do.
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Not completely finished, but getting there.

If you’re a Zelda fan, you may enjoy knowing that the colors of these rupees correspond with the amounts they are worth on Skyward Sword. Blue are worth five minutes, red are worth twenty minutes, and there is one special silver rupee worth one hundred minutes that will be hidden away until mama has a really bad day.

(For real.)

If you’re not a Zelda fan, you’re welcome for that insight into our nerdy little lives.

Tomorrow will be our first wacky wednesday, followed by our first thinking thursday, which will bring us to the LAST POST in this premeditated summer series:

FIELD TRIP FRIDAYS!

I’m going to be honest here; I’m not going to print any specific worksheets for Fridays (or the weekends) and they are precisely as the name implies: days for field trips. Sometimes these trips will be very close to home and very simple:

The beach (we’re five minutes from Lake MI, so this is a no-brainer)
Splash Pads
The outdoor pool at our gym
Local trails, parks
The mall (because sometimes it’s gonna rain)
The children’s museum
The zoo
The Critter Barn
Dutch Village (what, you don’t have a Dutch-themed amusement park in your town? Too bad.)

Some of these trips will require a little bit of planning (and prayers no one gets sick)

Train ride to Chicago
Michigan’s Adventure
Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland (because who doesn’t LOVE Christmas in summer?!)
Sea Life Aquarium
Binder Park Zoo

We might think of more, but that’s what we’re starting with anyway. And yes, of course, we might go on “field trips” when it isn’t Friday. We might watch a movie on a Tuesday sometime. We may abandon all the plans at the end of July when we’re all hot and sweaty and sick of each other…

…but hopefully not.

Thanks for reading this series — feel free to pass it along! I’ll be back next week with the normal observations/humor/nerd jokes/life stuff.

 

 

wacky wednesdays

Welcome back to another rousing rendition of “what we’re doing this summer!” Summer is so very quickly approaching (8 school days left around here!) so if you, like me, need plans to keep you sane, read on.

(And if you want to catch up on what we’ll be doing on Mondays and Tuesdays during the summer, you can check out those posts here: masterchef mondays and tech-free tuesdays.)

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He’s ready to craft! Now excuse me, while I cry about how small my giant almost-done-with-kindergarten kid used to look.

Wednesdays are for arts and crafts. Now, I may be a caffeine-fueled mom with a solid pinterest addiction, like so many of us, but I am unfortunately NOT a crafter. That’s not to say I haven’t tried; oh, I’ve tried. I’ve made cards. I’ve sewn bedding. I’ve knit scarves. I’ve purchased paints and small canvasses with the intention of making something super ~shabby chic~. I have failed. I just don’t get any satisfaction from cutting and gluing or stitching and pearling or anything else that requires I sit and do instead of stand and move (or sit and not do).

I do like writing to-do lists while sitting. Does that count?

Here’s my arts and crafts plan for Summer 2016:

On the first Wednesday of summer break, I’ll be gifting my kiddos a $30 gift card to Hobby Lobby. We’ll go there with the specific intention of purchasing craft supplies, DIY kits, anything that catches our eye and fits our budget. This is our craft budget for the summer — period. If we want other items, we’ll get creative with our trash and recycling. It’s important to note I’m not looking to make museum-worthy pieces of art here — or even gift items — we’re looking to have some fun with some mostly temporary creative pieces.

True confessions time: my planning for our art projects will usually take place on Tuesdays after the kids are in bed. I’ll scroll pinterest and choose a project we already have materials for. But I’ll happily share with you a few of the favorites I’ve saved from preliminary pinterest searches…

LadyBugs vs Tadpoles Tic-Tac-Toe — ok, this is just cute. And it’s a game we can play later! We probably won’t use an actual piece of freshly cut-tree for the playing board (though my neighbors do have tree-cutting plans, so we’ll see), but we can totally paint rocks.

Kid Made Bird Feeders — I love a craft that serves a purpose, and I’ll happily hang kid-crafted bird feeders all over our yard. Prepare to feast, birds!

Beaded Snakes — this craft incorporates hand-eye coordination (which, to be honest, both the two year old and the five year old could stand to practice more) and the end result is a fun new toy.

Our school activities will focus on social studies for the big kid (I love the worksheets found here) and shapes and colors for the little kid (preschool pages found here).

And that wraps up Wednesdays! My husband did suggest “wine down Wednesdays” to give mom a break during the week, but I’m pretty sure the only thing that would accomplish is “ok everybody, it’s time to take a nap.” Which… now that I think about it…

Grab some wine (or not) and let’s craft, everybody. Happy Summer Wednesdays to you!

tech-free tuesdays

OK… here we are… the day of the week that I will admit is freaking me out! A disclaimer — I love technology. I’m a millenial, albeit an older one, but I grew up being wow-ed by what the wide world of technology can accomplish, and I believe I’m better for it. My kiddos do/will absolutely use and embrace screens in their lives. But not on Tuesdays… for this summer. (Also, yes, I appreciate the fact that you’re reading this on a screen right now.)

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Screens? Where we’re going we don’t need screens…

If you’re just jumping in, I’m sharing my weekday summer plans with you. Last week I told you all about our plans for masterchef mondays , and today I’ll share our ideas for a day of screen-free fun.

Our Tuesdays will likely begin slowly, with my kids maybe sleeping in (oh, just allow a girl to dream). We’ll work through our morning chores (making beds, getting dressed, practicing piano, visiting our garden) and sit down to do some worksheets. I’ve decided the theme for tech-free Tuesdays will be writing — as in, pencil to paper, good “old fashioned” writing.

I like these websites for printable writing worksheets:

Beginning Writing — this page has some great pre-writing worksheets, like mazes and connect-the-dots, which are great for those kiddos just starting out. It also has some blank writing templates to help older kids with handwriting and spacing.

Cursive Writing — I know this is an occasional hot button issue. Should the students learn cursive in school? I’m a little torn on my answer; it really depends on how cursive will be used in the future, and I can’t predict that. However, will we practice it at home? Sure, if time allows.

Creative Writing — there are many websites like this, so here is one example of a list of writing prompts for journaling. I think creative writing is incredibly important, and I want my little summer students (OK, mostly — I mean entirely — John) to stretch themselves in this way.

Truthfully, after we finish with all of this, we’ll probably pack a lunch and go to the gym, because 1) free childcare and 2) outdoor pool with toys and sprinklers and a slide to entertain us during the afternoon. However, sometimes the weather will not be agreeable, and not everyone has this option, so here are some other ideas!

We will be making an “I’m Bored” jar, similar to the one found here: Shabby Beach Nest Bored Jar. You can make this in a huge variety of ways, from printing and mod-podging and sanding (as in the tutorial at the Shabby Beach Nest) or writing some ideas on small pieces of paper and keeping them in an envelope in a desk. The main idea is to have some ideas on hand in case the dreaded “I’m bored” comes out to play.

(And may I remind you that it is certainly okay to be bored every once in a while!)

Here are our “Bored Jar” ideas so far (ours are specifically “rainy day” activities — but yours can be for anytime!):

Visit the library
Take some books to a coffee shop and read/sip hot chocolate
Put together a lego creation
Board Game Tournament of Champions (basically just playing one board game after another and keeping track of who wins the most games)
Visit a museum
Paint a story
Make a play-doh village
30 minutes of quiet reading time
Make a dessert for after dinner
Talent Show
Scavenger Hunt (Scavenger Hunt Ideas)
John reads three books to Ev
Mama reads two books to John and Ev
John reads one book to Mama
Geocaching (We haven’t done this yet, but hope to get into it this summer. My friend explained how it works to me, and I’ll explain it to you via this Wikipedia Page.)
Call up a friend
Visit a relative/friend
Go to the mall
Make a “favorite things” collage
Try a brand new food
Build a fort
Visit Meg’s Playhouse (a local place where kiddos can play inside)
Visit Crazy Bounce (a local place where kiddos can… bounce)

I’m sure we’ll add more to the list as we think of things — and if you have any ideas, please leave them in the comments! Team work makes the dream work, my friends.

Next week we’ll venture into “Wacky Wednesdays” — our arts and crafts day. Thanks for reading!

masterchef mondays 

Hello, friends! Before I embark on sharing our summer plans, I want to offer a few qualifiers:

NO, we will not be strictly following these plans every day of summer. Summer is about flexibility and freedom, and we’ll be sure not to forget that.

YES, sometimes we will get super lazy (that is, full of summer freedom!) and throw all of our plans out the window in lieu of whatever strikes our fancy that day.

NO, we aren’t looking to spend a lot of money with these summer plans. Some, yes; but I’m trying to keep these plans as accessible as possible.

YES, even in summer, even if we scrap the themed activities of the day, we will still complete our daily chores (to the best of our ability). The daily chores are — get dressed/get in pajamas, put dirty clothes in hamper, make bed, water/tend to garden plot, read, and practice piano.

Outdoor activities are always encouraged, and screen time will be limited to 2 1/2 hours per day, split into half hour increments. John will be given five 30-minute “screen time” cards he can use at his discretion, but when they are gone, they are gone.

I know how I operate and how my kids operate, and a plan like this will work well for us. It might not work as well for you, and that’s fine! However summer hits you, I hope it’s a good one.

Without further ado… MASTERCHEF MONDAYS!

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Making lemonade in our pjs, because it’s kind of how we roll.

John and I recently watched Masterchef Jr. on Hulu, and he loved it so much (and so did I!). Our main goal for Mondays will be choosing and making some sort of food, and John will do this (somewhat) by himself. We’ll probably do our grocery shopping for the week on Mondays also, so this will coincide well.

We own several items from the Curious Chef line of products. We don’t own this exact set in the Amazon link, but we have a few strong (but safe!) knives and other cooking utensils that are perfect for John’s little (clumsy) hands. The Internet is, of course, swimming with kid-friendly recipes, as any Google or Pinterest search will prove, but if you want to put a book in your child’s hands, here are a few I love:

Cooking Class by Deanna F. Cook — I like this book because it starts out with the basics. What are your basic kitchen tools? What do they do? It also has a fun overview of kitchen vocabulary with photos.
National Geographic Kids Cookbook — This book is great because it is divided into months, with different recipes and activities for the entire year. Although it’s subtle, it touches on eating locally grown foods in season, which is a passion of mine.
Wild Eats and Adorable Treats by Jill Mills — This one is just fun! All of the recipes require way more time than I would normally spend “designing” food, but if John wants to make a turkey and cheese sandwich that looks like a cow, more power to him.
In addition to actually prepping and making foods, our “masterchef” activities will be: watching Masterchef Jr. (told ya this would be here), making sand pies at the beach we are lucky enough to live five minutes away from, washing dishes (because it’s truly an important part of the food-making process/I don’t want to be stuck with it all at night), and — everyone’s favorite — MATH WORKSHEETS!

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Now there’s the face of a kid who is excited to math.

 

I also want us to do at least a few worksheets everyday, so we don’t forget things, like writing our names on papers and stuff. Math seems to work nicely with the cooking theme, so here are a couple links with free, printable math worksheets for preschool-elementary aged kiddos.

K5Learning.com — Math
HomeschoolMath.net

That’s all for Masterchef (Mathterchef I’m so sorry) Mondays! Tune back next week when I hit you with a bunch of ideas for Tech-Free Tuesdays… and yes, this one scares me a little (a lot). Happy planning!

premeditated summer

I know this statement has the potential to cause offense, but I’m saying it anyway: I’ve never been a summer girl. Sure, there are summer activities I enjoy. Give me a week of summer, and I won’t complain. OK, five days and I won’t complain. As long as humidity stays low and I can stand to be outside. Is a cool breeze too much to ask?

But summer has its way of coming around. And it’s true that I probably wouldn’t cherish cozy nights under blankets in front of fireplaces if they happened 365 days a year. And so, I embrace you, summer. I embrace you like one embraces going to the doctor for an annual exam. It’s not too awful, it’s good for me, and it only comes around once a year.

Summer — as fun as a doctor visit.

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Maybe slightly more fun than a doctor visit.

But seriously, I am a lover of routine, and summer turns it upside down. I am a firm believer in “play time” and allowing kids to be bored, but as studies have shown, kids do well with structure. Mine do, at least. Wonder where they get that from…

And so, over the next five weeks, I’ll be sharing with you my plans for the summer. When John isn’t at summer camp (he has two week-long day camps and a couple other random “camp” days sprinkled in), we will be focusing our activities for the day based on a specific theme. Those themes are as follows:

Masterchef Mondays: the boys and I will pick new recipes to try, we’ll shop for ingredients, and we’ll cook them together. My hope is that each Monday, John (who is 5) will learn how to cook something independently.

Tech-Free Tuesdays: As the name implies… there will be no screen time on these days. Even for mama. I’ve taken the oath as well. My oath will end when the boys go to sleep, because Netflix. And I’ll still use my phone for calls/texts — just not excessively.

Wacky Wednesdays: We’re doing arts and crafts, and they’re going to be wacky! Mostly because I couldn’t think of another great W word for arts and crafts.

Thinking Thursdays: Science experiment day!

Field Trip Fridays: We are seriously blessed to live in such a cool town in such a cool state. Michigan has so many awesome things to offer, and we’ll spend our Fridays exploring them. We will usually stay pretty close to home, but we may drive (or take a train!) a bit as well.

In addition to our themed activities, the boys will have their normal chores (these are mostly John’s, but Ev is a great picker-upper): make beds, brush teeth, get dressed, clean up toys, etc. John will practice piano daily, and we’ll all be aiming for at least an hour of outside time if/when the weather allows. I’ll also be scouring the internet for summer school work; 1st grade readiness pages for John, and preschool pages for Ev.

And here’s the fun part (if you’re me) — I will be sharing all of this information with you! You can use it regardless of whether or not you want to follow our themed days plan, but it’ll be a place for links to worksheets and activities (and my hilarious commentary) that you can reference if you are in need of summer activities. Think of it like an annotated pinterest board tailor made for summer fun.

So stick around, because next week I’ll start with activities and ideas on how we’ll participate in Masterchef Mondays (and yes, some of those activities will be “watch old episodes of Masterchef Jr. on Hulu with your child,” because I am a realist).

Happy summer planning!