NEW Subscription Box COMING SOON

Hey there moms!

Does Pinterest totally overwhelm you?

Do you see an awesome at home activity for your little one but then cringe at the idea of having to go to a separate store to buy all the supplies?

And what are you going to do with all that extra baby oil? You have zero use for baby oil.

I am here to save you.

I am launching a subscription box this winter. you choose the age of your child (birth – kindergarten) and I send you a box each month with 2-3 activities that you can do together at home. You will also get access to an exclusive group where parents and caregivers chat about activities that they’re doing at home, tips and tricks about keeping your kiddos engaged and suggestions for games/activities.

I also will include an activity guide with your box. It will explain in depth HOW to do the activity and WHY you are doing the activity. It will also give you suggestions on how to differentiate it if your child isn’t feeling the intended purpose. Abandoning is not always necessary!

To keep up with my progress (including information on a local to Naperville, Illinois focus group), please enter your email here. Keep a look out for your confirmation email in your junk or promotions tab!

I couldn’t be more excited about this launch!

Sensory Balloons

(This post contains affiliate links)

We’ve done sensory bins and we’ve done sensory bottles. I love sensory activities (obviously) so I wanted to keep going.

If you search on Pinterest, these can be called “sensory balls.” I couldn’t bring myself to call them that – because I’m 10 years old.

Anywho, I bring you Sensory Balloons.

Like most of my activities, you can find these contents at the dollar store (The Dollar Tree, to be exact.)

If you check out my other post about sensory bin filler ideas, a lot of those little things can be put into balloons for sensory balloons. Here’s what we chose:

*Black beans
*Cloud dough
*Play doh
*Rice
*Water beads

You also should grab a funnel because it will help you a lot – trying to do this without one is pretty frustrating. Just make sure you grab a funnel with a big enough hole for the beans.

The beans, cloud dough and rice went in best in small amounts. The play doh we just rolled into “snakes” (or, if you’re 10 years old like me, poop) and dropped them into the balloon. When they startΒ  to reach the top, blow up the balloon a little and then let the air out. Smush all the play-doh together at the bottom of the balloon. Then keep adding.

The water bead one was done one by one, but that’s only because I didn’t have a funnel near me and I’m lazy πŸ˜‰

Dylan also wanted to make faces on his and who am I to tell him no? Go to town, bud.

I think I might actually make a few to sit at my desk – they are good stress relievers.

This little lady ran off with them while I was trying to snap some pictures. Trouble written all over her face. Don’t let her fool you.

If you try these out, please let me know in the comments!

And as always with my activities, please be smart πŸ™‚ After I filled the balloon, I put it inside another balloon to be extra safe.

Alphabet Blocks

Happy Friday!

I’m just going to jump right into it today.

Dylan has been having a blast with his big Duplo blocks. He grabs the big bucket and drags them into my craft room and goes to town. He builds trains, spiders, buildings, cars, “shooters,” airplanes…you name it, he’s built it. He even uses the bucket as part of his play. It’s usually a body of water – ocean, lake, river, whatever.

I have been wanting to do letters with him as he starts preschool in a few weeks (right after Labor Day) but he has no desire. So I thought back to my preschool days. When lesson planning, I always catered to the boys because they were more stubborn. I would be more likely to see boys doing a “girl activity” than girls doing a “boy activity.” So I used the blocks to my advantage a lot.

I took out his Duplo blocks and measured them and then created rectangles for the 2 part blocks. I printed this out and cut them up and taped them to the front of each block (I didn’t have a lot so I used both sides of the blocks for the letters – uppercase on one side and lowercase on the other side).

At first, I’m not gonna lie, he ripped them off and told me he didn’t want them on his blocks. So, obviously not on my side. But I put them back on and he was playing with them. He wouldn’t stack them according to their letter and picture, but I did catch him repeating the letters as he picked them up or saying the picture.

In my book, that’s a success.

You could really do anything on these. Animals, people…tailor it to their age group.

You can download the letter version here for your own use.

Looking for more activities that help with letters? Check out this simple DIY Letter Flip Book!

Grocery list and meal planning printable

In my Facebook recipe group, I post every Sunday (read: try to post every Sunday) what our meals are going to be for the week. I have found that planning each week makes us spend less money on groceries (because there are no last minute grocery trips for “a few things” to make this random recipe). It also makes it so that we go out to eat a lot less, which saves us a ton of money – we were going out to eat at least twice a week. It was a bad, bad habit. I never cooked on the weekends it felt like.

When I post my meal plan for the week, people will comment on how organized (ha!) it is or say “how do you do it? I could never do it!” And the truth is, YES YOU CAN. If I can, you can. I decided to break it down for everyone and tell you HOW I do it. Plus, I’ll give you some FREE printables. You can print new ones each week, you can print one and laminate it or put it in a sheet protector and then use a dry erase marker..whatever you prefer.

*Note: I only plan dinners. Breakfasts and lunches are a free for all. But I put all three on here for anyone that does all 3.*

In the beginning of the month, I sit down with my phone and look through Pinterest and my Facebook group to gather some meal ideas. I also have an excel spreadsheet (nerd, I know) with all of our favorites. It has the name of the recipe and the link. I print it out and then I have it on hand. I am in the process of switching over to pencil and paper recipes books. I come up with about 20 (I throw in our regulars each month – frozen pizza, leftovers once a week, hot dogs, mac and cheese, frozen meals I made in bulk the previous month, we go out to eat for dinner once a month, etc) different meal ideas and list them out. Then, from here, I pick and choose each Sunday which ones I want for that week. Again, I do leftovers every Thursday or Friday, and a “regular” meal once a week so I really am only coming up with 5 meals a week.

I keep that list on my fridge and each Sunday when I plan something from it, I tick it off of my list.

I take the monthly list that I made and make my grocery list from there. I try to pick and choose meals based off of what I already have in the house so that I am not overbuying.

Then I go through our necessities and see if we are in need of those – coffee, milk, eggs, cheese, creamer, lunch meat, Goldfish, etc. I add those to my list and it’s off to the store!

I also created a “freezer list” for you. When I make some meals, I double the batch and freeze what we don’t eat to save it for future meals. Chili, taco pasta, meatballs, pulled pork, etc. (You see what I did there?! πŸ˜‰ )Our freezer where we keep the meals is in the basement. So I like to have a list of what’s going on in there.

Here are the printables…(Click on them, then save, then open and print) πŸ™‚

So, while this isn’t groundbreaking, I hope it can inspire at least one person to start meal planning in their family! It sounds overwhelming but it really isn’t. Would I ever lead you in the wrong direction?! Please comment if you have any questions!

 

DIY Clipboard – Back to School Teacher Gift

 First off, let me apologize for using the phrase “Back To School.” As a parent, you may be super pumped. BUT as a teacher, not so much. But it has to happen!

I wanted to do a project for a friend of mine who just got married. She is a teacher so she is teaching this year with her new last name. Eeeek! I wanted to make her something that she can use in her classroom with her new last name. And you know me, I like to do things as inexpensive as possible. Hello, Dollar Tree!

The Dollar Tree has these clipboard for (yep, you guessed it) $1. When I went to get one for this project, I grabbed 2 extra and thought I’d do this project with my 2 nieces while we were on vacation. Yes, I am that lame aunt. I also buy books and clothes for Christmas and birthdays πŸ˜‰

I brought my scrapbook paper packs and had them pick their favorite one. They both picked the gold pack. I had also cut out their monogram out of gold sparkle paper to attach on the back. You could do stickers from Hobby Lobby if you don’t have a cutting machine. They have all different kinds of fonts and colors.

Then I had them cut up the paper into triangles, squares, whatever they wanted. We put a layer of Mod Podge on the back of the clipboard and added the paper shapes so it kind of got a mosaic look.

You could do the front side too, but I didn’t want to because I didn’t want the paper to create an indentation when you go to use the clipboard.

After you get all of your paper and monogram or stickers on (I took paper with already straight edges and lined them up on the side. I had to cut my niece’s because I didn’t think to tell them this strategy), put another layer of Mod Podge on top. After that one dries, 2 to more layers, drying in between.

For good measure, I added a sealer over the last layer of Mod Podge.

I love how these turned out! They would be a great back to school gift for a new teacher.

What I found while Cleaning my Craft Room

The other night, I took one look at my craft room and knew I had to do something. It looked like Hobby Lobby lost its lunch in there. It was out of control.

When I feel this way, I usually clean for about 30 minutes and call it a day. But not this time.

I took one look at it and knew that I needed to do more. I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. I sold things and I donated things. As I dug I found something super important.

Motivation. (cue cheesy music)

Stay with me here.

I have always wanted to have a craft room. We bought this house and I decided I wanted to turn my craft room into a craft room that people pin on Pinterest. The clean, white, organized craft room.

And you know what? I plan on following through with this one this time.

I am picturing lots of white with gray walls. A pegboard on the wall to hang small tools. A painted pegboard with my signature teal and yellow. A cozy corner with a floor work space for my kids and me with a spot to hang their art work. I have goosebumps just thinking about it.

No more moving from one desk to the other.

No more moving from one room to the other.

I am tossing out.

I am donating.

I am selling.

Get ready (Ikea). Cause here I come. Stay tuned.

 

Paint Swatch Number Activity – One to One Coorespondence

 
At the risk of sounding so completely cheesy and cliche, my favorite part of teaching (and one of my favorite parts of parenting) is seeing kids “get it.” Seeing their eyes light up when they understand that 11 comes after 10. Seeing them get so excited when they write their name properly (still trying to find a fun activity to get Dylan to write his name!). The joy in their faces is amazing (to me at least) and the idea that I had a hand in them understanding that is indescribable. I miss it so, so much!

We have been working on numbers with Dylan and he has a book from Usbourne called “1001 Animals to Spot.” Each page has a different habitat and tells you how many of each animal to find. He is currently obsessed with it (he goes through phases where we read the same 2 books every night for a few weeks) and can recognize all the numbers 1-10 (that’s as high as they go). But he doesn’t quite have the one-to-one correspondence yet, which is fine. He has some time!

What is one-to-one correspondence, you ask? It’s the ability to actually count items. Kids Dylan’s age can count, but they’re not actually counting when they learn numbers. They are essentially memorizing the numbers and their order. Children with one-to-one correspondence demonstrate that they understand that this duck is 1, this one makes 2, this one makes 3, etc. Right now Dylan will point to the animals as he counts which is a start, but he does that because we do it. He sometimes skips ducks or counts a duck a few times.

You can also use this activity a step further by adding and subtracting, and I’ll show you how at the end.

I took paint swatches from Home Depot (free, but I always feel like I have to do it discreetly) and leftover glass gems I had from 2 other projects. I wrote numbers on each color and would hand him a certain amount of gems. Then I would tell him to count the gems and show me on the paint swatch how many he had. He started to place the gems on the cards if he could.

(It is impossible to get an in action picture of this kid that isn’t blurry)

If you want to work on addition, you can take two paint swatches and a plus sign (I wrote it on a larger paint chip, along with an equals sign), and find the paint Swatch with the answer. Easy enough, right? πŸ™‚

 
He really loved playing with the gems and even telling me which number was which. He always surprises me when I give him these activities. He goes right ahead and does them on his own – making up his own rules. 

Happy teaching!

Craft Room Art

When we went and saw our new house for the first time, I was obsessed. If I’m being honest, I was obsessed because I knew I could have my own craft room. My “craft room” at our old house was an Elfa system from the Container Store and then an old IKEA desk with a sewing machine and random mismatched bins from The Dollar Tree, Hobby Lobby (not without a coupon), Target and Wal-Mart, all crammed into a small, unfinished basement. There was nothing cute about it. 
So when I saw that I could have my own space, I was hooked. But then we moved in. I quickly realized how low if a priority it had become. I had all this super cute art that I had printed out before we even put an offer on the new house. But it just sat in a pile in my craft room, waiting patiently for me.
The room still has A LOT of work to go, but it is getting somewhere. I really want to paint it and get all coordinating furniture and maybe some built ins for storage. But for now, quotes will have to do.
Since I am not a fan of permanency or putting holes in my walls, I bought these 3M clips. They are like the hooks but they clip. 
I eyeballed their placement (they’re not centered on the wall but I did that on purpose) and put 3 clips up. Then I used hemp cord and strung it through the clips.
I love, love, love clothespins,  so I used them to hang the prints up.
These are some of my favorite quotes. This one is probably my most favorite. Words I live by, definitely. 
The lighting in my craft room is awful! But this is how it turned out. I am so in love with it and I can’t wait to get the walls painted and organize my supplies. Maybe when my kids are out of high school πŸ˜‰

DIY Glitter Magnets

 
I love magnets. I love putting stuff on my fridge with said magnets. We have pictures (some are super old), comic strips, birth announcements, invitations, etc. So I set out to make some new magnets.

I had these glass gems left over from a sensory bag activity I did with Reagan and wanted to do something with them. I have a whole bag so I will probably do another project as well πŸ˜‰ I also had glitter leftover from that activity. And who doesn’t love glitter?! Well, most people don’t. My sister leads that pack.
This was so crazy easy. You actually could use Elmer’s glue instead of Mod Podge if you wanted to. I tried it out and it works.
First, brush some Mod Podge onto the backside (bottom) of the gem.

Dump glitter onto the Mod Podge and let dry. Mine took about 15 minutes.

Once it’s dry, tap the gem on your work surface to get rid of the excess glitter. Brush a little bit more Mod Podge onto the glitter layer to seal it all in.
Then when that is completely dry (about 15 minutes), take your extra special glue (I used glass glue. It was about $4 at Hobby Lobby), and dab a little bit on. You don’t need a lot because it spreads out quite a bit when you put on the magnet. Stick the magnet on and let it dry according to the glue instructions.

This is the glue I used…

Ta da!
These would be a super cute housewarming gift. You could also use paper to put on the back!  Just lay it on your paper and trace with a pencil and cut it out. Glue it to the stone picture side up on the bottom.

Here they are holding up my favorite comic. I think I cut this out before we even had kids. It is 100% us. I feel like everyone should have a comic strip on their fridge that relates to them.

And because it wouldn’t be a normal blog post without chubby little boy hands….oh, and Hulk.

Happy crafting!

DIY Glitter Slime

We love sensory activities in this house. If you read my blog regularly (thanks, mom!) you’ll know that. I truly believe it helps Dylan control his emotions and behaviors. I sense better behaviors in him if he’s had sensory play that day and very little (or no) TV. Whether it’s play-doh, clay, shaving cream (he requests that one A LOT), one of his sensory bins, the hair gel bags that sit on our back door, whatever. He usually requests at least 1 a day. I never say no because I know it helps him regulate.

So, with that being said, that is why I do so many sensory activities! And this one is no exception.

I used to make this all the time when I taught preschool, but for whatever reason, I never added color. No idea why. Seems so simple, right? Right.

What you’ll need for this gak is:

*1 part Elmer’s glue (you can use clear or white. If you’re adding glitter, I recommend using clear)
*1 part Sta-Flo liquid starch (Found mine at Wal-Mart)
*Glitter
*Food coloring (I also have read that you can use acrylic paint and liquid watercolor paint, but I haven’t tried)

Empty the glue bottle into a bowl. Add the glitter and food coloring / paint and mix together (I used a craft stick)

Fill the empty glue bottle with liquid starch and add it to the glue / glitter mixture.

Mix it all around until it’s all combined. You may need to add glue if the liquid starch doesn’t seem to be blending or add liquid starch if it’s too sticky. I found that I needed more glue than liquid starch. I’ve seen it go both ways.

You could put other little things into this, too. Sequins, pony beads, whatever (obviously just be careful with choking).

Dylan really likes to put his “little guys” into it. They sink down and leave marks in the gak.

I really like that it keeps him occupied and it’s an option other than TV.

Keep this stored in an air tight container (or zip-loc bag).