How To Make A Nature Journal For Kids {Writing Prompts Included}

tampico-nature-journal

Thank you Tampico Beverages for sponsoring this conversation.

The boys love exploring the outdoors and we are lucky to live near a number of forest preserves. We created some nature journals together and went for a walk on a nearby trail. It was the perfect way to spend a Spring day! Below I’ve shared instructions for making a nature journal.

Materials Needed:

  • Paper- blank and lined
  • Stickers (optional)
  • String/Yarn
  • Scissors
  • Paper bag
  • Crayons/Colored Pencil/Markers
  • Pencil
  • 3 Hole Punch
  • Tape

Directions:

  • Gather your materials
  • Use the 3 hole punch to punch holes in your plain paper
  • Cut the bottom of the paper bag off along the fold line
  • Cut the side of the top part of the bag to make a long strip of paper bag
  • Trace a piece of paper onto your paper bag and cut it out. Repeat. (These will be your front and back covers.)
  • Punch holes in the bag to line up with your paper
  • Cut string into 3 inch pieces (you need 3 pieces)
  • Stack papers- One piece of paper bag on top, then lined papers, then blank papers, then a paper bag piece on bottom. Note: If your bag has any text/images on the outside of it you will want to make sure they are not showing when you look at it as a book. The front and back covers should be plain brown.
  • Insert string into holes and tie into a knot
  • Let kids decorate the front and back covers. They can color or put stickers on them as well.
  • Make sure to put a pencil in the pocket so they have something to write with
An additional part to the journal can be a pocket in the front. Here is how to make it:
Here are a number of writing and drawing prompts. I’d suggest putting the list on the first page of their journals. This will help guide them if they aren’t sure what they want to journal about.

Nature Journal Prompts For Kids:

  • Draw something you see
  • Write a story of an animal you see, pretending as if you were that animal
  • Draw a bug you see
  • Describe something you smell
  • Draw a picture of something smaller than you and something bigger than you
  • Describe the sounds you hear- can you identify any of them?
  • Find the prettiest flower
  • Draw a picture of the sky today
  • Find the smoothest rock
  • Draw a picture of the tallest tree you see
  • Find 5 different shaped leaves
  • Draw an animal you see along with the home you think they live in
  • Write about the ground you are walking on using three descriptive words
  • Add leaf rubbings of your favorite leaves
  • Draw a picture of something prickly
  • Write down all the colors that you’ve seen on your walk today

Don’t forget to bring your Tampico juice drink to keep your family hydrated! My boys love the Tropical Punch flavor!

What do you enjoy doing outside during this nicer weather?

30 Fun Outdoor Activities For Kids To Do This Spring

Spring Outdoor Activities for kids

Spring is here and that means warmer weather and more time outside. I’ve rounded up 30 of our favorite activities to do outside in the Spring! The best part is that most can be done in your own backyard for free! Thanks to KEEN footwear for sponsoring this fun activities post and providing us with rain boots and shoes to keep Jake and Luke’s feet dry on Spring’s many rainy days.

SPRING OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

  • Go on a nature walk (don’t forget to bring your journal)
  • Practice animal yoga poses
  • Plant flowers
  • Draw on the sidewalk with chalk
  • Blow bubbles
  • Play baseball or soccer
  • Play hopscotch
  • Go on a scavenger hunt
  • Read books outside in the fresh air
  • Visit a new playground
  • Fly a kite
  • Ride a bike or scooter
  • Play a game of “follow the leader”
  • Have a picnic or outdoor tea party
  • Visit a zoo
  • Make and hang a bird feeder
  • Paint rocks to decorate your garden
  • Get a bucket of soapy water and sponge and have a toy wash
  • Play a game of tag
  • Take a family walk around the block
  • Make mud pies
  • Make homemade windchimes together
  • Go on a bug hunt and try to find worms, butterflies, and other bugs around your house
  • Go fishing with your family
  • Have a backyard campout
  • Make a “mess”terpiece fingerpainting with shaving cream or whipped cream
  • Hunt for four leaf clovers
  • Make nature prints
  • Play “I spy”
  • Jump in puddles

Don’t forget to get a good pair of rain boots for the season so your kid’s feet stay dry when they are puddle jumping! We’ve been loving the ones that KEEN sent us. Their Encanto 365 Boot keeps feet dry using a waterproof membrane and water-resistant materials, making it 50% lighter-weight than most heavier boots made with rubber. (That means your kids can actually run and jump and play in them!) Webbing loops make it easy for little kids to pull on the boot themselves and the adjustable bungee closes around the leg so kids can puddle-stomp all they want without water splashing into their boots. A protective toe-cap adds the durability KEEN is known for and the fun mix of colors will look cute paired with any outfit! 

KEEN also sent us a pair of Encanto Sneakers. These are great for little ones who are still working on putting on their own shoes.  The hook and loop strap with bungee laces makes it easy for toddlers to explore their independence, getting shoes on and off “all by myself”. The padded collar, foam footbed and breathable mesh lining show attention to detail and the reinforced toe area is perfect for kids who are rough on their shoes. These shoes go through size 13 so even younger grade school children can wear them. As an Autism parent I love that there are shoes Lucas can put on himself, as a 1st grader, that don’t look like “baby” shoes.

What is your favorite Spring activity?

 

Worry Free Outdoor Fun

baseball

This is a product-sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™ Wound & Skin Cleanser. The opinions and text are all mine.

Today the temperature outside reached 64 in our Chicago suburb. This is very exciting for everyone, especially for active families that will be thrilled to go hiking and biking and play sports outside in the fresh air. For my family this means it is time for baseball, soccer and the playground. This also means it will be a time full of scrapes, cuts and bug bites. As a parent I know this is unavoidable and I hate to see my boys suffer.

To be truly prepared we always have a bag of a few essentials in our vehicles that can help in an emergency. Some of the best things to have in an emergency kit are an instant ice compress, bandages and band aids, extra mouth guards (for football), snacks and Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™

To keep your team from getting sidelined new Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™ Wound and Skin Cleanser, the easy first step in first aid that gently and effectively cleans and hydrates minor wounds, wants you to enter the Play to Win with #TeamPuracynPlus Giveaway for the chance to win a  Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™ Emergency Kit, including a $50 gift card to a sporting goods store of your choice and  Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™ product. One winner announced each Friday on March 13, 20, and 27. #TeamPuarcynPlus (3 winners total).  It will be the best way to kick start the outdoors activities season.

My kids both play soccer and baseball during which they both get scrapes and usually the scrapes are messy from the field. The easy to use, hands free spray application of  Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™ thoroughly cleans minor cuts and wounds, eliminating the need for running water in the critical first moments of cleaning a wound.

I also like Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™ because it is doctor tested and recommended for quick wound treatments and is free of alcohol and steroids. It is so safe that it will not bother them even if it accidentally gets in their eyes or ears. A 4oz bottle can be purchased at Rite Aid and Walgreens for $14.00. It is convenient to carry in your car kit so you will always have  Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™ in stock for when you really need it.

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We are ready for the warm weather and the outdoors and especially the fun that comes with it. Thanks to Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™  we will be ready for anything that comes our way. So join in the fun and discover fearless life with Puracyn.

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This is a product-sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™ Wound & Skin Cleanser. The opinions and text are all mine.


Flower Themed Activities For Kids {HOP}

flowers collage

I’m really excited to be joining in as a host of the Hands-On Play Party with some fabulous bloggers. The linky will be posted each Tuesday. This week I’m sharing some of my favorite colorful sensory activities from bloggers that linked up to last week’s HOP linky.

Flower Math Game from Fun-A-Day

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Bottle Flower Stamp from DabblingMomma

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Paint Chip Color Match from Life With Moore Babies

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Flower Painting from Minne-Mama

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Visit my co-hosts!

Sight Words Egg Hunt from P is for Preschooler

Exploring Mirror Reflections Easter Eggs, Lights & Shiny Objects from Little Bins for Little Hands

Creating the Perfect Egg Drop Project from Lemon Lime Adventures

Sensory Play with Paper Pulp from Stir the Wonder

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Check out our Pinterest board!

HandsOnPinterest

Now it’s your turn! What fun hands-on play activities have you been creating at home? If you are a blogger you can link up your blog posts (no more than 3 please) or, if you don’t have a blog, share your activities on Facebook and leave a link in the comments below. Just looking for activity ideas? You can do that as well by clicking on images linked up below to view the full posts.

(Please note: If you are linking up below you give the hosts permission to use an image with a link back if you are featured in a future HOP post.)



7 Ideas For An Active Spring Break Staycation

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Spring break starts today for my kids. One and a half weeks of time off from school. We were thinking about going away for a weekend but decided to skip it and save the money. Should be an interesting time as I work full-time from home along with running this blog. The boys will probably spend plenty of time in front of the tv but I wanted to share some ideas for getting kids (and their parents!) up and off the couch as well. The following is a guest post from Shana Schneider, fitness expert and founder of FITWEEK, a fitness company dedicated to helping women “turn their week into a fit week.”

Play old school games. Remember things like red light/green light, Simon says, duck-duck-goose, musical chairs, or freeze tag? These are lots of fun, and free! Or, for older kids, go to an arcade. See who has the skills for Pac Man or Skee Ball.

Head to the park. Find a list of all the parks in your city and make a plan to visit as many as you can during the break. As part of the fun, pack a picnic. This way, your kids can still run around outside and you’ll all be ready for a nap afterwards. Check out the playgrounds or the trails, and then when home, place stickers on a map of your city identifying each parks and playgrounds you have visited.

Watch a movie marathon. The key here is to make fitness part of the viewing. Here’s how it could work – assign a character to each family member; that person has to get up and sit down, or do some exercise each time the assigned character comes on the screen. It’s pretty funny to see people randomly get up and down throughout the movie. There’ll be some giggles involved, which can get your abs working, too!

Visit a museum. They usually run walking tours and will often have activities for kids. If you’re in the Connecticut area, check out the children’s museums, which are interactive fun for the whole family. And no one has to worry about not touching the exhibits.

Cook in the kitchen, and use that elbow grease. Do something out of the ordinary like making bread or pizza dough from scratch. When getting those ingredients together, remember no electric mixers allowed.

Learn a new sport or activity. Try yoga for the first time together, or take a dance class. If someone in the family is an expert at a particular sport have them teach the others how to play it.

Host an active video game tournament. If you have a video game console, set up your own family tournament and compete in a different sport each day. Need more people involved? Invite the neighbors or other friends over to join you. Choose from – golfing, tennis, boxing, snowboarding, dancing and the list goes on. You can even divide up the groups so you have adults play one game and kids another. The point is you want to pick games that get everyone moving!

 

Spring Fashions From The Children’s Place {Giveaway}

children's place

(Disclosure: I received a gift card to shop at The Children’s Place but all thoughts are my own. I featured pictures of my boys in clothes from The Children’s Place long before I started working with them as a blogger and TCP Ambassador.)

The boys are all set for Spring after my recent shopping trip to The Children’s Place! I try to get a couple pieces each Spring that are green because that color, to me, is such a bright, fun color that’s perfect for the season. I had bought some dress shirts around Christmas time that the boys will wear to Church on Easter Sunday but I bought the plaid shirts above for our Easter celebration and egg hunt at my mom’s house. I figured that would be more comfortable while they are running around and playing. I bought some matching plaid shorts for them and they each got a pair of sunglasses since the sun is finally starting to come out around here!

Overall I got 15 items for a little over a hundred dollars and got 2 ‘Place Cash’ certificates to spend next month which will get me $40 off my purchase. At that time I will probably get some more Summer clothes.

Have you gone shopping for clothes yet this season? What are staples in your child’s wardrobe during the Spring?

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a $25 gift card to The Children’s Place

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Tell me who you’d shop for at The Children’s Place

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Subscribe to this blog via email or RSS

Giveaway ends April 14, 2013 at 11:59pm Central time. US residents, ages 18+ only.

FREE 40-day eBook Devotional

banner-book-sm

I heard about this ebook devotional from the MOB Society and just had to go check it out. The Seed Company is offering a free 40-day devotional for people to use during Lent. I was unfamiliar with The Seed Company so I poked around their site a bit.

Did you know that nearly 2,000 languages – 300 million people – worldwide still do not have one verse of scripture in their language? I mean, I knew there were some people that didn’t have it, but 300 million? That number is too high. I literally have tears in my eyes right now at the thought of all those people who have never, ever heard the word of God. 300 MILLION.

I knew I had to do something. An obvious way to help is to donate money. Another way to help is by praying. The Seed Company wants prayer partners for the different projects going on throughout the world.

While you are on the site getting your free devotional, I’d ask you to take a look around the site, check out the prayer requests, and, if you feel led to, sign up to pray for this vital ministry.

Gift With Purchase At The Children’s Place {And Spring Fashions}

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I love dressing my boys up in cute clothes so I’m really excited to announce that I am a Blogger Ambassador for The Children’s Place! This means I will be sharing great promotions, sales and giveaways with you this year!

With thoughts of shopping for Easter clothes coming up soon I thought I’d go back in time and share some of my favorite Spring looks from there modeled by my children over the past few years :)

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Apparently I love green and blue at Easter and argyle is my go-to look in Spring for the boys :) This last little outfit even had argyle socks with little linen pants. My kids just prefer to wear no clothes in the house apparently.

If you need to go shopping for some new clothes, The Children’s Place has some great promotions right now. The monster sale I talked about weeks ago is still going on–prices are up to 80% off! They have a Spring sale and a Valentine’s Day sale going on as well. {I love a good sale!}

One new promotion is a special gift with purchase. From today, January 22nd , to January 31st (while supplies last) if you make an in-store purchase of $75 or more you will get a free plush Bunny. How cute would this little bunny be in your child’s Easter basket?

(Disclosure: As an Ambassador I receive promotional items from The Children’s Place. All thoughts are my own.)

 

Spring Clean Your Digital Life

spring cleaning

Every Spring people talk about spring cleaning their homes. The purging of unused items, organizing, and deep cleaning of the house is a great way to start this new season but what about tidying up the things others don’t see? Things like your email inbox, your computer’s storage files, and your online security measures?

As a family in Trend Micro’s Digital Joneses, our challenge of the month was to spring clean our digital life. I didn’t know where to start. With thousands of pictures stored online, even more unread emails in my inbox, and so many files with contents that are a mystery to me I was overwhelmed. Thankfully, Trend Micro has created a digital spring cleaning checklist. Being an avid to-do list maker and checklist lover this made me very excited :)

The first task that I wanted to do was to clean out my inbox. I have over 9,000 emails in my inbox folder and over 3500 of those haven’t been opened. I have been trying to go through it and either delete or sort emails but it’s a daunting task. Looking over the checklist I saw a few more things I wanted to do when it came to my inbox. One suggestion from Trend Micro was to delete the attachments from my emails. Another task on the list was to delete any emails that had password or account information. It’s a great way to keep would be hackers from getting confidential information.

The next step was to go through my web browser history. This is something that I have never done before. The checklist also suggested that I go through my bookmarks and delete ones I don’t need anymore. This wasn’t too hard since I don’t really use bookmarks that often.

After this I needed to sort through my documents. The checklist suggested sorting them into three categories- delete {documents we don’t need}, confidential {documents that need to be secured with a password}, and important {documents that should be backed up}. I had a lot of old documents that I didn’t need anymore so I was able to delete them. I only had a couple things that were confidential. Most of my documents are just things I wanted to keep {like pictures} so I need to back them up. That is still not crossed off on my list. Programs that are unused need to be deleted, too but I didn’t have any programs to delete since I only download what I need.

The next steps include running scans on the computer. I used to do this often since I’m used to my computers running slow and I have found that running troubleshooting and maintenance scans make it run faster. My new computer is running fine so I skipped this step.

One of the last steps is to make sure your digital life is secure by changing your passwords. It’s recommended that passwords be changed at least every three months. This is something that I often forget to do on a regular basis but probably one of the most important steps in this whole process. Trouble remembering multiple logins and passwords? Trend Micro has a product that will manage website passwords and login IDs in one secure location so you only have to remember one password!

Once your digital life is clean and your house is clean, imagine how amazing you will feel! Find out more about the Digital Joneses here.

(Disclosure: I am receiving technology and software as a member of the Digital Joneses blogger study but all thoughts are my own.)

Fun & Easy Rainbow Activity

Here's my 3 year old's rainbow. Though he enjoyed the activity, he has a short attention span and didn't want to finish it.

Daddy is not a fan of crafts but enjoyed this one!

I wanted to do a quick St. Patrick’s Day themed craft with the boys so I thought of making fruit loop rainbows with them. Having seen these all over the web I knew that there were probably printables online that we could use. I came across a great one over at Making Learning Fun that had pre-printed circles for the fruit loops. This was great because it worked on one to one correspondence which is a skill both boys are still learning. They both didn’t want to make a correctly colored rainbow so I let them do it any way they wanted.

Also, just a note: Make sure your box of cereal is all “O”s. The box we got had “8″ shaped red cereal instead of the typical circle shape.

Here’s how they turned out:

Here's my 2 year old's rainbow. He got a little carried away with the fruit loops. lol

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Here's my 3 year old's rainbow. Though he enjoyed the activity, he has a short attention span and didn't want to finish it.

Ten Spring Recipes I Can’t Wait To Try

Spring Veggie Pizza

(Click on a picture to be taken to the recipe page. This post is linked to Top 10 Tuesday at OhAmanda.)

Spring Omelet

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Spring Veggie Pizza

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Grilled Pork Tenderloin & Asparagus with Peanut Dipping Sauce

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Strawberry Mint Spring Rolls

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Tomato Feta Salad

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Moroccan Chicken Kebobs

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Sun-Dried Tomato & Feta Stuffed Artichokes

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Carrot Cake with Maple-Cream Cheese Icing

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Roast Side of Salmon with Mustard, Tarragon, and Chive Sauce

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And as a special treat…

 

My mom's lemon bars

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ENJOY! If you make one of these recipes I’d love to hear what you thought about it!

Top Ten Tuesday- Looking Forward To Spring

Can't wait for the boys to use their new gardening tools

Today I walked outside and was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t too cold out… it  made me think about Spring and all the things I had to look forward to. I can’t wait for:

1) Warmer weather- Having to bundle up the kids to go outside is no fun. I can’t wait until a light jacket is all they need.

2) A lower gas bill!

3) Family walks- We moved to a new neighborhood this winter so I can’t wait to walk around and explore with the boys.

4) Opening the windows and letting the fresh air in

5) Starting a garden- Now that we have some outdoor space of our own I can’t wait to start a mini-garden with the boys. (Anyone have any suggestions on easy to care for plants?)

 

Can't wait for the boys to use their new gardening tools

 

6) Planning the boys’ birthday party- Jake turns 3 and Luke turns 2 in June so I need to start planning their birthday party in the next couple months.

7) Easter- I checked my calendar and it seems Easter will be later than usual this year. I can’t wait to dress the boys in matching outfits, tell them the Easter story, and go hunting for eggs.

8) Short sleeve shirts- Jacob chews on his sleeves when he wears long sleeve shirts and I have to constantly put new ones on him because he chews them so much and then says they are “icky”. It will be nice to be able to put him in short sleeves because then he can’t chew on the ends of them!

9) Getting outside to play- We have only played outside twice since we moved so it will be fun to play in the backyard.

10) No more snow! (ok, a girl can wish right?)

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I have linked up this post to Oh Amanda’s Top 10 Tuesday