Monday, November 03, 2014

Advent Calendar

So because our move was a complicated one, we lived with family for the entire month of December with our entire life in a storage unit . . . Including our Christmas decorations which included our advent calendar.  So I used what we did have (large pad of white paper, construction paper and a marker) and made this advent calendar with my daughter.  I cut out 24 rectangles with different colours and then my daughter made the pattern.  Once she was ready, I wrote on the back of each rectangle and then glued lightly the top of each card.  Every day, the kids ripped off the special activity and we were off.

For the most part, we stuck with Christmas themed activities like visiting Santa at the mall and eating a red and green supper.  We also wanted to use this as an opportunity for the kids to say goodbye to their old city and go places and see people that we knew they would miss, so we enjoyed some suppers with friends and swimming at the local swimming pool.

Here are a few other things that we did . . .

Wrote letters to Santa 

Made a gingerbread house

Decorated the Christmas tree

Went to Chuck E Cheese

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Summer Vacations with Kids

Last summer we went on a really big family vacation.  The longest (and furthest from home) yet.  We were gone for 9 days and travelled a whopping 2000km (1242 miles), not including driving in and around cities and towns when we stopped through.  Pretty much we travelled from Vancouver to Winnipeg (or New York to Miami for an American perspective) in 9 days and we had a great time!  We took along a TON of stuff for the ride for the kids.  Dollar Store Toys, Colouring Books, Leapsters and even a DVD player which I can proudly say we used once.  For one hour.  That was it.

The trick was to split up the handout of the toys.  I bough something like 10 new toys for each of them from the Dollar Store and the plan was to hand one out a day when tensions were high - to keep them busy for a little while.  I only used 6 of those items, which I thought was great!

We also implemented a ticket system.  I bought the tickets from the Dollar Store and we had a stash with us in the front.  When the kids did something to be rewarded for (on the left of the binder), they would get a ticket.  They could save or spend their tickets (see the right side of the binder).

Behaviours We Watched For . . .
Hiking without whining
Finishing a BINGO sheet
Sleeping nicely in the tent/hotel
Helping around the campsite
Doing their homework
NO Crying
Being quiet in the car
Reading a book

And They Were Rewarded With . . .
Juice Box (otherwise it was water only)
Treats (otherwise it was healthy snacks only)
$1 (to spend at a gas station)
iPad time (which was cancelled once we learnt that the car would not charge the iPad.  We had to save our battery because it had all of our maps on it and we were camping with no electricity)

Every day the kids would get their pack of papers.  I organized each day inside a page protector.

The first page was always a map and at the bottom, I listed the highlights of that day.  We saved the best adventures for the end of our trip when we knew they would be sick of camping.  That was when the zoo, waterparks, county fairs and outdoor waterslides came in.

On Zoo day, there was a passport also tucked into their page protector.  I went to the zoo's website and found out what kinds of animals were at the zoo.  I then found Google Images of some of the animals, printed, taped and wrote down names.  As we walked through the zoo, the kids had to watch and check off (or in H's case, circle) all the animals they could find. 

Each day in the packet, both kids also had "homework".  They were just pages ripped out of old activity books or printed from online.  Super simple, a few pages to keep them busy at the beginning of each trip so mommy and daddy could figure out where we were headed.

Once they finished their 'homework', they worked on their BINGO sheets together.  By this time, mommy and daddy were on a highway and we were more able to help the kids with this task.  I made 9 different BINGO cards, putting in pictures of things that I knew we would see on that stretch of the trip.  For example, if you know you will be passing by a lake/river, find a picture of that and put it in.  There were some days we did NO highway driving, only city driving so those days had urban pictures.  There were some days we stayed two nights at a campsite, so I made a nature BINGO because we did NO driving.

Then at the end of the day, to calm everyone down (whether it was in the tent, at the picnic table or in the hotel room) the kids thought about their most favourite part of the day and they drew a journal entry.  I still have these and I can't wait to scrapbook them! 

And that was how I survived a REALLY long trip with my family.  No fighting.  No yelling.  No "I'M BORED" or "ARE WE THERE YET???"  Seriously.  I didn't hear it once.  I hope I have given you at least a little inspiration for your family vacation this summer!

Safe Travels!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Easter Everyone!

Happy Easter!

Hope you are all enjoying the holiday with your family!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Cutting Grass

Do you need something for your preschooler to do outside while you work in the yard?  Something that practices fine motor and teaches your child how to use scissors?  Then get them to cut the grass!  My son was doing this too with his small scissors and using the scissors the correct way.  He laid down on his stomach and cut the grass that was poking up through the patio blocks.  My daughter insisted on using "adult" scissors which were too big for her hands, so she had to hold the scissors with two hands.  Either way, it kept them busy for about 30 minutes while I got a bunch of spring clean up done in the yard.  Yay for fun, skill practice and peace and quiet!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Spray the Letter

Check out this awesome blog for the original post of this idea!

It was hot last summer and my son was getting ready to start preschool in the fall.  His big sister has taught him so much, but just how much I never know because he is always surprising me.  I wanted to see how many uppercase letters he could recognize, so I made it into a game. 

With sidewalk chalk, I wrote all 26 uppercase letters on our fence.  I handed him a spray bottle (also great for small motor practice) and we did a little "test" together.  I would say, "Spray the 'H'" and he would find that letter and spray it.

There are many other variations that you could use with this same technique, depending on the age and skill level of your child.  Here are just a few ideas . . .
  1. Use lowercase letters
  2. Mix up the letters instead of putting them in alphabetical order
  3. Mix up the letters and get your child to spray them IN alphabetical order
  4. Draw lowercase letters on the fence and hold up the uppercase letter to see if they can match
  5. Say the sound the letter makes instead of the letter
  6. If your child is learning to spell, say the word you are practicing and they can spray the letters in the correct order (see bottom picture with my daughter)