How To Help Your Child Plan And Create An Outdoor Obstacle Course

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #GoldfishGameTime #CollectiveBias

After enjoying a “heat wave” in February I feel like warmer weather will be here to stay soon! With this in mind, I wanted to share a fun outdoor activity you can do with your kids this Spring. My boys and I went to Walmart to buy some outdoor toys and Goldfish® crackers (in the Cheddar flavor and the Xtra Cheddar flavor) and then we headed home for a fun afternoon.

Our outdoor activities usually consist of sports (because our children like to fit in practice however they can) but occasionally I like to switch things up a bit. Having taught preschool before Pinterest existed I had to come up with as many ways as possible to keep a classroom of kids busy and an obstacle course was one of their favorite activities. I thought it would be fun to make one with my boys as we spent time together outside.

The first thing you need to do to help your kids create an obstacle course is to gather all of the outdoor play items you have that your kids could use in creating an obstacle course. We used a few hula hoops, a little bowling set, flying discs, a football, cones, relay race batons, chalk and a tunnel. (If you don’t have much or it’s all packed away check out Walmart’s selection of outdoor toys!)

Don’t forget to bring your Goldfish® crackers outside because you know your kids are sure to get hungry while you all are playing. I buy Goldfish® crackers in the bulk boxes and then pour them into individual cups for easy serving outdoors.

After you bring everything you need outside, have the child plan their obstacle course by drawing it out on paper. Having children plan the activity before they set it up helps them develop critical thinking skills.

Jacob’s course involved jumping in hula hoops then going into a tunnel. Out of the tunnel he had put the relay batons down so that people would have to hop over each one. Next was a chalk drawn hopscotch and then a little bowling. After the person knocked all of the pins down he had cones set up and discs available to throw on each cone. The final obstacle was throwing a ball through a hula hoop someone was holding.

Jacob enjoyed drawing out the course he envisioned while Lucas preferred to sit in the shade and eat his favorite snack – Goldfish® crackers! {The Snack That Smiles Back®}

Jacob made sure to eat some of his snack as well before they headed out to the front yard to complete the next step of the process- creation of the obstacle course!

Jacob did great setting up the obstacle course just like he had drawn on his paper.

Lucas, meanwhile, loved being the obstacle course tester.

He also helped by changing around things he thought needed to be fixed :)

After an afternoon full of building their obstacle course and going through it numerous times they enjoyed some more Goldfish® crackers before it was time to head inside.

Have you ever created an obstacle course with your kids? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Summer Festival Must-Haves {Giveaway}

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Festival season is in full gear and here in Chicago we are gearing up for one of the biggest music festivals of the summer season- Lollapalooza (more affectionately known as Lolla). I’m not going to be able to make it this year but I thought I’d put together a list of some festival must-haves so those of you that are going to Lolla (or any other festival) have the best experience possible.

Sun protection

There is nothing more unfashionable (and painful!) than a sunburn so make sure to pack some sunscreen, a floppy hat and your favorite sunglasses to protect you from the hot summer sun.

Oil blotting sheets

One of my favorite products for the summer months, oil blotting sheets will keep your face looking fresh.

Refillable water bottles

It’s essential to drink plenty of water while you are outside all day, especially with this heat wave we’ve been having here in Chicago!

Gum

Keep your breath minty fresh with some gum.

Portable phone charger

You’ll want to send snaps and share ‘grams of your favorite moments but won’t be able to do so when your phone dies.

Toilet paper or flushable wipes

Let’s face it… you are going to have to use the bathroom while you are at the festival and port-a-potties are not the cleanest places in the world. And am I the only one that always picks the one that’s out of toilet paper? If you bring your own flushable wipes, like Cottonelle® Flushable Cleansing Cloths with CleanRipple® Texture, or toilet paper you don’t have to worry because you are all set. Cottonelle® with CleanRipple® Texture is a proprietary innovation on all Cottonelle® toilet paper and flushable cleansing cloths that is designed to clean better (than the leading national value brand) so you’re clean & confident enough to go commando if you want to!

Pain reliever

It’s always good to have a pain killer on hand in case you have a headache or are in pain from walking so much.

Hair tie

Whether it’s to tie your hair back to get some air on your neck or for another use, I always make sure to have a hair tie with me.

Light sweater

When the sun goes down it can get a little chilly, even during the summer months, so having a light sweater in your bag will come in handy during those times.

Makeup setting spray

To make sure you look just as good after hours in the heat as you did when you first started the day make sure to spray some makeup setting spray on your face. ‘Melted’ is not a good look for anyone ;)

Lip balm

Just like you want to keep your body hydrated you will want to keep your lips hydrated so they don’t crack as you are singing along to your favorite song.

Now that I’ve shared my must-have list I’m wondering, what items are on your list? Guiliana Rancic shares her top must haves (pictured below) and we are giving them away to a lucky winner!

Enter via the form (or link) below. Good luck! :)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway Entry Details:

The Cottonelle® “Festival Must Haves” Reader Giveaway (“Sweepstakes”) starts at 12:01 a.m. EST on July 25, 2016 and ends at 11:59 p.m. on August 8, 2016 (the “Entry Period”)

Prizes:

Cottonelle® Festival Must Haves Kit ($50 ARV). Each kit will include a selection of fabulous festival “must haves” — Cottonelle® Flushable Cleansing Cloths with CleanRipple® Texture (for your bum!), a floppy hat, makeup setting spray, tinted moisturizer and moleskin.

Also, click here to learn how to enter the Cottonelle® sweepstakes for a chance to win an all-inclusive trip to Wanderlust 108 Festival in Miami (October 22)

 

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

30 Ideas For Outdoor Summer Fun At Home

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Summer is in full swing now and if your kids are anything like mine you’ve either heard “I’m bored” at least a couple times already or they’ve spent a bit too much time on electronics. Either way, with the long weekend coming up, I wanted to share a bunch of tech-free ideas for things kids can do outside at home to enjoy the summer days and nights. Thanks to Bestway for sending us some of their outdoor water toys and inspiring this post!

Here are 30 ideas for outdoor summer fun at home:

1) Have a water gun fight

2) Play hopscotch

3) Have a tea party

4) Play tag

5) Run through the sprinkler

6) Make light sabers out of pool noodles

7) Have a race

8) Make a mud pie

9) Plant flowers or tend to a garden

10) Ride a bike

11) Kick a soccer ball

12) Play hide and seek

13) Draw with chalk

14) Build a fort

15) Have a water balloon fight

16) Go on a scavenger hunt

17) Have a lemonade stand (with help)

18) Make smores (with help of course)

19) Camp out in the backyard

20) Read a book in the shade

21) Have a picnic

22) Play cars on the sidewalk

23) Create an obstacle course

24) Paint with water

25) Catch fireflys

26) Play in the sandbox

27) Blow bubbles

28) Play “ghost in the graveyard”

29) Jump in a pool

30) Go on a slip n’ slide or play tether ball splash

Looking for some new things to ramp up the fun in your backyard? You’ll want to check out the line of H2OGO! outdoor water toys that Bestway came out with this summer!

H2OGO! Tether Ball Splash

H2OGO! Tether Ball Splash takes the classic fun of tetherball and infuses it with a new level of wet and wild excitement. Kids are able to battle each other in a heated game of schoolyard tetherball while staying cool as they swing and splash the spinning spray ball all the way to victory. Easy to assemble in minutes, the inflatable 6.5 foot Tether Ball Splash attaches to a garden hose and has a built-in water chamber at the base to keep the fun upright all summer long.

H2OGO! Color Wave Pool

The pool is not just for fun during the day. Kids can splash around all night long in a rainbow of colors as the H2OGO! Color Wave Pool’s built-in LED lights illuminate the walls of the pool in an array of five different neon colors. The pool is constructed with sturdy I-beam construction, extra-wide sidewalls, holds 147 gallons of water and is designed for easy assembly and take-down.

H2OGO! Doodle Glow Pool

Pushing the bounds of creativity, The H2OGO! Doodle Glow Pool takes the artwork off of the refrigerator and puts it on the bottom of the pool. Utilizing innovative technology, the Doodle Glow’s fluorescent floor doubles as a blank canvas for kids to create an underwater, glow-in-the dark art show. Using two patent-pending LED underwater flashlights and a stencil set, kids can let their imagination splash wildly as they create an underwater world of glow art.

H2OGO! Backyard Water slides

H2OGO! single, double and triple backyard waterslides are back after sweeping across the nation in a tidal wave of fun last summer. The H2OGO! water slide’s inflatable launch pad at the start of every slide reduces the impact of the landing. Without the ‘ouch’ of a belly-flop, riders are smoothly propelled down the 18-foot slide into the drench pool. Kids can either take turns sliding down the single slide or race each other on the double and triple slides.

What’s your child’s favorite thing to do outside in the summer?

Summer Day Date Idea: Recreate Memories On A Local Road Trip

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and The Coca-Cola Company. All opinions are mine alone. #ShareTheLyrics #CollectiveBias

Back before we had kids, Sinisa and I went on a lot of dates. A lack of money kept us from doing anything too expensive so we’d do things like walk around downtown, go star gazing, go to festivals and enjoy picnics at the park. Here we are at a local festival on one of our first dates back in 2007:

Looking back on our relationship, one of our favorite dates was a road trip to a campsite where we intended to camp for the evening. It turned out to be an even more memorable trip when we woke up to find ourselves, and everything inside our tent, soaked from rain and we ended up sleeping in Sinisa’s small sports car that night. We have learned that it’s not what we are doing, but who we are doing it with that matters. Sometimes the simplest things bring the best memories so I set out to recreate some of our favorite dates- road trips-  as we hopped in the car for a short road trip to a lake area in another town.

Want to plan your own day date full of memories? Here are some of my tips for planning a road trip day date:

1) Think back to your most memorable times as a couple and what you two enjoy the most and plan those into your road trip, whether it’s the spot of your first kiss or an activity you two love doing together. Some of my favorite dates have been sitting by the water just talking so that’s why I chose a park with a beautiful lake so we could sit and relax like the “good ‘ol days”.

2) Pack a picnic lunch and keep the menu simple. We love finger foods like cheese, crackers and salami along with some fresh fruit. It’s filling, doesn’t require silverware, and is easy to eat.

3) Make a road trip playlist. There is nothing worse than having to flip through radio stations while you are in the car so I like to have a playlist ready to go. Sinisa and I have different tastes in music (he likes country and old school rock and I like r&b and pop) so we find a mix of genres is best. You can even make a list of romantic songs that you both enjoy and make a playlist out of those. If you need some song inspiration for your road trip playlist, you can find it on the new Share a Coke and a Song Coca-Cola campaign cans because Coca-Cola has lyrics to popular songs right on the cans.

4) Bring a cooler full of drinks to enjoy as you travel and to drink once you arrive at your picnic spot. I bought a 28 pack of the Share a Coke cans at Sam’s Club and, not only did we drink them, but I incorporated the cans into our date by telling Sinisa how I feel about him using the lyrics on the cans. It would also be a fun idea to have each person pick out a can for their significant other and explain why they chose it and what the lyrics mean to them or pick out cans that tell your love story. Below is the story I told him as I handed him the corresponding cans. It was kind of sappy and corny but thankfully he likes things like that :)

You can find Share a Coke cans at your local Sam’s Club. We found ours on pallets near the kitchen products. You’ll want to look for ones that have the special Share a Coke and a Song Coca-Cola campaign packaging so you make sure to get the cans with the lyrics on them.

What tips do you have for planning a memorable day date?

 

18 Summer STEM Activities Suggested By K-12 Teachers

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My boys have only been out of school since Thursday and I already feel like it’s going to be a long summer. I’m so excited to share 15 STEM activities that were suggested by a handful of K-12 teachers. These fun activities will keep kids busy this summer and keep kids learning at the same time.

1. Take a field trip to your local wastewater plant and/or water treatment facility. Tours are usually free but need to be scheduled beforehand. This is a great way for kids (and parents) to learn about water management processes and what we can do to help conserve water and properly care for our water resources. Water management systems involve many fields, including, but not limited to, biology, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, and environmental engineering.

2. With so many products now being manufactured, many students do not get much experience with hand tools. One great summer project is to design and build a small structure with your kids, such as a dog house or a tree house. There are many design plans online that you can study before creating and building your own design!

3. Want a fun and educational adventure for the whole family? Visit a glass blowing studio to see demonstrations and/or take classes. This is a great way to experience the beauty of combining STEM with art through a creative manufacturing process!

4. Girls: Watch the TED Talk about Debbie Sterling (inventor and CEO of GoldieBLOX) about her journey as a female engineer and her quest to inspire young girls to pursue engineering.

5. Do science experiments with pill bugs! Here’s a great blog with wonderful science experiments to do over the summer using the Pill Bug.

6. Create with cardboard boxes. There are so many fun things you can create with cardboard boxes to inspire the inner engineer in your child! Here are some ideas:

  • Design and build a car out of cardboard. Families could park their cars in the living room and enjoy a family night watching a movie in their own drive-in!
  • Design an arcade game! Get some inspiration from a 9-year-old boy named Caine who created his very own cardboard arcade. http://cainesarcade.com
  • Create a miniature golf course. Q-Tips and paper towel and toilet paper rolls work great!
7. Put together an inventors box! By having a “Tinker” Box at a child’s disposal it will encourage them to use their imagination and natural curiosity to design and build, not to mention it can also store all their items for building. I have a couple of rules for my kiddos at home: if it’s in the box, they can use it how they see fit in their designs. However, if there is something they want to use that is not in the box, they must ask for permission.

Items to include in the box: small boxes, toilet paper and paper towel tubes, yarn, egg cartons, empty butter tubs, broken toys, old toy parts, tape of all kinds, empty cereal boxes, white glue, glue sticks, paper clips, string, left over craft materials, construction paper, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, cotton balls, and any recycled materials around the house. The list could really go on and on. Make sure all materials are safe for children to use.

One fun idea for your child’s tinker box is to design a boat that can hold 10 to 20 pennies and then try to float it in the sink, bathtub, or small pool.

8. Read a book that introduces students to STEM and their inner inventor. Here are some ones to check out (affiliate links):

9. The Engineering Encounters Bridge Design Contest is an Internet-based competition that provides middle school and high school students with a realistic, engaging introduction to engineering. While the contest for 2016 has ended, you can still download the free software and try your hand at bridge design to get a leg up on next year’s competition!

10. Robot Virtual Worlds – Expedition Atlantis! Download this fun activity to learn how to code, incorporate math skills, and expand on your proportional reasoning skills!

11. Many colleges and universities offer STEM summer programs. The Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), offers a “RoboCamp” that is great for students. They actually have a week long robotics camp, as well as weekend programs. Look up a university or college program like it close to you. What kid wouldn’t like to go away for the weekend or the week and delve into the world of robotics?

12. Attend a local “Rocket Launch”! See rockets large and small take to the skies on a monthly basis at a local rocket club’s launch site. The Syracuse rocket club hosts a monthly launch and invites the public to come and watch, and even build one and launch it with them! Do a google search to see if there are any rocket clubs or launches near you.

13. Visit a local science museum or STEM-based museum to keep students’ interest piqued all summer long. Most have daily activities and lots of hands-on displays as well as an I-MAX theater.

14. Try your hand at the various tutorials on the MIT App Inventor website. Basic tutorials are great to start, and once you have a basic understanding, try the QuizMe tutorial to help students understand the concept of List and how to use indexes to iterate through them.

15.  STRETCH your body. Use stretching techniques to become more flexible. Then research the changes in your ligaments and muscles that have to happen for you to become more flexible. Record your observations.

16. Design your own toothbrush. What do you wish could be better about your current toothbrush? What issues do you see with it? Design a better version and test it. Record the steps you took to identify the problem, design a new toothbrush, and your final observations in a notebook.

18.  Collect water samples from different areas in your house and backyard. Look at small drops with a high magnification magnifying glass. Do you see anything moving? Then research the various things contained in water.

Thanks to Project Lead the Way (PLTW) for sharing these ideas! PLTW is a nonprofit organization that provides a transformative learning experience for K-12 students and teachers across the U.S., in more than 8,000 schools nationwide. Special thanks to the following teachers for providing the ideas:
  • April Moon (@aprilsunshine77), Robert and Patricia Kern National Teacher of the Year – Waxahachie, TX, PLTW Engineering Master Teacher (Ideas 1-4)
  • Kelly Wheeler (@kwheeler_kelly), PLTW Launch Teacher of the Year – Menifee, CA (Ideas 5-8)
  • Beth Fox (@bfox01), PLTW Gateway Teacher of the Year – Lenoir, NC (Ideas 9-10)
  • Chris Hurd (@CazHSTechLabs), PLTW Engineering Teacher of the Year – Cazenovia, NY (Ideas 11-13)
  • Darwin Shorters (@MrShorters), PLTW Computer Science Teacher of the Year – Charleston, SC (Idea 14)
  • Dr. Julye Adams (@DrJulyeAdams), PLTW Biomedical Science Teacher of the Year – Georgetown, KY (Ideas 15-18)

 

Teach Kids Healthy Skin Care Habits This Summer

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As a mom I have learned that my children are watching and listening, even when I don’t think they are. They are listening to conversations I have with other adults, they are watching how I treat people when we are out and about and they are watching the things that I do. They are not only paying attention but they are learning from me. One thing I want them to teach them through my actions is the importance of taking care of our skin by putting sunscreen on when we are going to be outside. Thanks to Neutrogena for sponsoring this conversation about the importance of being a good role model when it comes to skin care.

Skin cancer is one of the most preventable cancers, yet it continues to be an epidemic with more than 350 Americans being diagnosed with skin cancer every hour. Making smart choices about sunscreen is one of the most important decisions people can make when it comes to preventing skin cancer.

Studies show that kids are actually more likely to adopt healthy habits, like applying sunscreen, if they see their moms applying it on themselves. I think as moms we have a tendency to make sure our children are set and then worry about ourselves but we need to remember to make time for our self care as well. It’s important to apply our sunscreen on in front of our kids, before helping them apply it on themselves. I like to walk through what I’m doing and why as well (I think it’s the preschool teacher in me). I’ll say “oh I better put sunscreen on because I don’t want to get burned!” So your kids see you putting it on and they hear you talking about why you are putting it on which I think makes double the impact than if you just talk about how important it is.

When choosing sunscreens this summer, here are some things to keep in mind as you make choices about sun protection and skin cancer prevention:

  • Don’t just rely on sunscreen rankings or reports, speak with your dermatologist for information on the best sunscreen choices for you.
  • Make sure sunscreen labels list UVA and UVB (or broad spectrum) protection and a minimum of SPF 30. Consider using SPF 50+ if you are outdoors for an extended period.
  • Choose the formulation – stick, lotion or spray – that is the product you and your family will be most likely to regularly use.
  • Start sun protection early in life. Just 1-2 severe sunburns can increase the risk of melanoma later in life by 40 percent.

A great brand that we like to use is Neutrogena. They have a spectrum of different products, from sticks to sprays to lotions. I prefer to put lotion on myself and spray on the boys. The stick sunscreen is great for faces and easy to take with on the go. They also have a variety of SPF, from 30 to 100, to protect every skin type during every summer situation.

How do you get your kids to apply sunscreen with you? I’d love to hear how you set healthy examples for your kids! Check out the #MimicMommy hashtag on social media for more stories and tips!

Swim Lessons At British Swim School

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Did you know that the number one cause of death for children five years old and younger is drowning? Children with Autism are even more likely to drown, a chilling fact that I’m well aware of as a mother of a child on the Autism Spectrum. I’ve done everything I can to protect my kids and help them learn to swim, enrolling them in numerous swim lessons since they were young. My boys have taken swim lessons at swim schools, at our gym’s pool, through a couple different park districts and at our local high school. When British Swim School asked me if I’d like to try swim lessons there I jumped at the chance to test them out. They are providing complimentary lessons for my children in exchange for me sharing my honest opinion about their swim school.

Last month they started taking the lessons at British Swim School. This swim school has franchise locations across the United States, with a number of locations right here in the Chicago area. They use pools at gyms and other facilities which helps keep the costs lower for parents. Classes are offered for babies as young as 3 months through adults, all separated by age and skill. Instructors work on everything from helping children feel comfortable in the water to water survival skills like floating to different swim strokes.

We are loving our lessons at British Swim School so far and I’ve seen both boys’ skills improve in just four sessions. Their instructor does a great job of keeping the attention of my boys and is very patient with them. I love that he works on skills with them that have been glossed over during their lessons at other places. Things like making sure Jake’s arms brush his ears so he gets the full power of the stroke while he is swimming freestyle and making sure Luke’s pushing his tummy towards the ceiling when he’s working on his float.

My boys are excited to go to swim lessons which means that they enjoy it as much as I like watching them. They love the last five minutes of lessons because it’s “play” time. While they just see it as fun, they are really still learning skills like treading water and holding their breath as they go under to retrieve a toy from the bottom of the pool.

Here’s a video showing some of Luke’s progress. Lucas couldn’t swim on his own at all before we started the lessons and now he can swim to the edge of the pool which is great progress.

Want to enroll your children in swim lessons at British Swim School? There are around 25 locations in the Chicago area including Alsip, Schaumburg, Matteson, Lincoln Park, Tinley Park, Waukegan and the Loop. Find the location closest to you and learn more here.

WIN FREE LESSONS!

I’m offering two readers a month of free group lessons!

Valid at the following Illinois locations: Tinley Park, Alsip, Matteson, Waukegan and Round Lake Beach

TO ENTER:

Leave a comment on this post telling me why you want to win.

For an extra entry, share about this giveaway on social media and share the link in a second comment below.

Giveaway ends June 15, 2016 at 11:59pm CST.

The Ultimate Summer Guide For Families

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Summer is my favorite time of year and I’ve written a lot of posts about how to squeeze every last bit of enjoyment out of the season. I figured I’d gather them all up in one place, and then continue to add to the list all year long, for the ultimate Summer guide that will give you hundreds of ideas to keep busy this Summer. You’ll find Summer bucket lists, craft ideas, Summer activity ideas, learning activities to avoid the Summer slide, Summer camps and swim lesson schools I’ve written about and things to do in Chicago during the Summer months.

Summer Crafts and Activities

Summer Learning Activities

Summer Camps & Swim Lessons

Summer Fun In Chicago

Encourage Your Child’s Creativity This Summer

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I’m proud to share that I have a little budding inventor! Jacob had announced a while ago that he wanted to create video games when he grows up (along with playing professional football) but recently he has also shown an interest in becoming an inventor. Last week we were sitting in the drop off line outside of his school and he was telling me all these things that he wanted to create. Though many of them contained partially trademarked brands and copyrighted ideas I loved his spirit and creativity.

To help encourage him  to walk through creating things I have learned to use the Galileo Innovation Approach® and their 5 Key Mindset. First, we talk about what his goals are, whether he is trying to solve a problem or just create something fun. Next we brainstorm and generate ideas. Third, we talk about the importance of being Visionary as he begins the design and to be courageous as he starts to create. Fourth, I remind him to stay determined while he tests things. The last step is to evaluate. I ask him what worked and what didn’t and what he can do different next time.

If you have a child like mine, who is interested in creating things, I encourage you to develop your child’s sense of wonder this summer by enrolling them in Camp Galileo. Galileo is a summer camp that’s focused on STEAM education that teaches kids to explore, make mistakes and create without fear, all while inspiring creativity.

Camp Galileo, for kids pre-K through 5th grade, gives campers opportunities to take on art, science, and outdoor activities tailored to their level. They learn lasting innovation skills like collaboration and reflection and take home tangible creations like a rocket, photos inspired by Ansel Adams, or even an archery bow!

For kids entering 5th grade through 8th grade there’s Galileo Summer Quest. Campers can choose from 13 immersive majors, each confidence-building, collaboration-packed session gives them an opportunity to realize their personal vision in a new inspiring subject. Campers make short films, engineer catapults, whip up inventive dishes, design custom video games, and much much more.

By signing up now, you can lock into major Galileo savings this summer! For $40 off a week of Galileo Camp use code BEBOLD. This promotion can be combined with the Refer-a-Friend savings where you can save up to an additional $100.

 

Robots-4-U Summer Camps Now Enrolling

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Have you made your summer plans yet? If you want to put your child in camp this summer the time to register is now. I know it seems crazy since it’s only April but many camps start to fill up this early so you don’t want to delay! Thanks to Robots-4-U for sponsoring this post about their fun summer camp.

If you are looking for a camp that focuses on S.T.E.A.M. education for your child aged 7-14 you will want to look into ROBOTS-4-U Summer Camps. They cover science, technology, engineering, art and math with hands on learning. Children will learn all about Robotics and Science, in an independent and exciting way, whether they are beginners or experts! Each camper individually uses a ROBOTICS or DYNAMIC ART Kit. Robot kits do not go home with campers but are available for purchase!

Visit www.ROBOTS-4-U.com to see dates and locations for these day camps. Robot Camps and Dynamic Art Camps are offered during June, July and August. Each camp is one week long, Monday to Friday from 9:00-11:30a.m. and 12:30-3:00 p.m.

To receive 55% off Robotics Science Summer Camps use code: USF1550r

Encourage Your Child’s Love Of Soccer Through Camp This Summer

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This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.

Do you have a little one who loves soccer? If so, enroll them in soccer camp this Summer! British Soccer Camp is the most popular camp in North America with 150,000 campers!

With an innovative curriculum that develops skills, speed and confidence in players ages 3-18, British Soccer Camps provide boys and girls with the rare opportunity to receive high-level soccer coaching from a team of international experts right in the heart of their own community. In addition to teaching new skills and improving game performance, each British Soccer Camp provides lessons in character development, cultural education and is the most fun your child can have learning the sport they love!

Jacob loved this camp last Summer and he had a lot of fun playing with other kids in our community. I noticed that his skills really developed over the course of the week. It was the perfect start to his Fall soccer season.

Enroll you child in a British Soccer Camp today and get a FREE Water Bottle with code: USFG16 .

Making Reading Fun With Disney Story Central

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Thank you Disney Story Central for sponsoring this post. Sign up for Disney Story Central‘s new subscription service today to access the largest collection of digital stories, featuring a wide array of beloved Disney stories and characters that kids and families know and love!

Getting my kids to read is tricky business because my boys would rather watch TV or play on electronics. Serious reading is more like a chore to them but luckily I discovered an app to help make reading exciting. Disney created a great app for tablets and phones called Disney Story Central.

 

Disney Story Central is the largest collection of Disney digital stories, featuring a wide array of Disney stories and characters that kids and families know and love. The cross-platform experience is available via iPhone and iPad app, tablet-optimized website and Video on Demand. All the titles can be read by the children or the app can read to the child. My boys are excited because summer vacation is underway and they are working on their summer reading lists. Disney Story Central is designed to encourage kids to develop a lifetime love of reading. Disney Story Central gives families the freedom to choose the reading experience that suits them best, whether through an annual subscription service or a-la-carte options, using Disney Book Tokens.

The best part is all the characters the kids already know and love and customizable bookshelves for each member of the family with personalized reading recommendations. A “Browse By Character” carousel lets families easily find books starring their favorite character. spanning all Disney Franchises, including Disney Princess, Disney Classics, Frozen, Doc McStuffins, Cars, and more. My youngest one is the biggest Toy Story fan so he is ecstatic for all the Toy Story selections.

Personalized book recommendations and character-driven navigation make it easy to find new books and to keep the kids reading there are Stars, Ranks, and Trophies that reward kids for reading and encourage them to keep it up. My boys get competitive so this will be a great feature for them.

The Disney Book Token system helps parents empower their kids to pick out the books they WANT to read, allowing them to build their own collection of stories, featuring the characters they love. Tokens work like currency, in which one token is worth one book and are used to download books and that will get my boys to do chores for the tokens. For our family getting a subscription seems to be the better option as the kids get download crazy. The subscription service gives kids unlimited access to Disney Story Central’s expansive library of books for $7.99 a month.

I want to encourage readers to download and access the free Disney Story Central app at Disney Story Central or on iTunes. It will make any child happy and pump up their reading desire. Summers fly by but the reading my boys will do will make them better for a lifetime.

You can even participate in Disney Story Central’s ‘Mid-Summer Light Reads’ Campaign – promoting weekly Disney reading themes — for a chance to unlock free books and enter the sweepstakes! Launching on June 11, the campaign will run through August 13.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

List Of Free Things To Do In Chicago This Summer

free-things-chicago-summer

Traveling to Chicago this summer? It’s possible to make the trip on a budget! Here is a list of FREE things to do in the city and the suburbs.

1) Walk around Navy Pier. Don’t miss the stained glass display!

2) Take a picture in front of “The Bean”

3) Enjoy the weekly fireworks display (every Wednesday and Saturday evening in summer)

4) Head to the Lincoln Park Zoo to see animals

5) Spend a day at one of the beaches and swim in the lake

6) Enjoy a free movie or concert in the park

7) Walk along the lakefront

8) Window shop on Michigan Avenue

9) Walk around the city and look at the amazing architecture

10) Take the kids to Bear Garden Park in Glenview to play on the playground, build sandcastles and splash around

11) Go to a museum on a free day.

12) Go to a playground (try Maggie Daley in Millennium Park)

13) Walk around a Farmer’s Market

14) Splash around in Crown Fountain

15) Check out the Skokie North Shore Sculpture Park

16) Watch the water display at Buckingham Fountain

17) Go to story time at a library in the city or suburbs

18) Enjoy the beauty at the Chicago Botanic Garden

19) Check out the Children’s Garden at Garfield Park Conservatory

20) Attend a Vacation Bible School

21) Learn to dance at the Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park

22) Explore nature at Emily Oaks Nature Center

23) Visit a farm (like Wagner Farm in Glenview)

24) Phillip’s Park Zoo and Playground (Aurora)

25) Build with legos at the Lego Store in Water Tower Plaza

26) Visit Chinatown

27) Go to a parade

28) Enjoy the sights and sounds at Taste of Chicago

29) Go bowling (check out the Kid’s Bowl Free program)

30) Walk around Downtown Naperville

 

 

25 Fun Summer Writing Activities For Kids

kids-writing-over-summer

In planning our summer, one thing that I’m making sure to do is building in time for math, reading and writing exercises for my kids amongst our travel, summer camp and family activities. Since summer is all about having fun I wanted to find things my kids could do that wouldn’t seem like schoolwork but would fit into their days and they’d enjoy doing

I’ve shared our summer bucket list and a list of free summer reading programs already so today I wanted to share a list of 25 activities that get kids to practice writing throughout the summer. There are no worksheets here, just fun!

1) Create a summer journal.

Buy a spiral notebook and have the kids write about their day every evening. You can add in pictures or glue in other flat items to create a special memory book. My boys got summer memory journals from day camp the past few years and they love looking back on the summer memories. Now that they are writing and at a different camp where the counselors aren’t going to do this for them, it’s up to them to make there own.

2) Write a pen-pal.

I remember having a pen-pal when I was little. I wasn’t sure who my kids could do this with so I put a call for pen-pals on my personal Facebook page and had a number of responses in just a few hours from people I felt comfortable giving our home address to. I paired Jacob up with other kids who can write and Lucas with a few younger children who don’t write as much and might rely on drawn pictures to communicate. My boys are going to be sending letters a few times a week to other kids. This is a great way for them to make new friends, learn how to communicate better (especially for my youngest with Autism who has a hard time realizing that his interests aren’t always what other people want to talk about), and learn about new places.

3) Write a letter to a family member who doesn’t live nearby.

This is a great way for kids to connect to family they might not see very often.

4) Create a summer bucket list.

To be sure to squeeze every second they can out of summer, kids can make their own summer bucket list of all the fun things they want to do over the summer. See how many your family can cross off the list!

5) Write out a script for a play or puppet show.

This may be the perfect way for older kids to keep busy. Have them create their own play! They pick the theme and create a story around characters they create. Younger children may have an easier time writing a short script for a puppet show. Invite family and friends over for the show and make sure to pop some popcorn to enjoy while you watch their creativity unfold before your eyes!

6) Plan a family fun day.

Have children write out the itinerary for a family fun day. They can include what your family will be eating and where you will go. My kids would probably include a trip to the library, an afternoon playing at the playground and end the day with ice cream sundaes!

7) Write invitations for a party or playdate.

If kids want to have a party or playdate this summer they can make their own invitations to pass out.

8) Make a packing list.

Make your (older) children responsible for packing their own suitcases for vacation or a short family trip to the beach or zoo. Have them create a list of items they need so they don’t forget anything important. Younger kids can help create packing lists as well but will probably need more help with them.

9) Create a shopping list and party plan for a bbq in the backyard.

Have children help plan a bbq and make the shopping list for all the groceries, decor and items you will need to host a fabulous barbecue for family and friends. Don’t forget to make a quick list of things that need to be done as well- kids are more likely to pitch in with cleaning or other chores if they are helping plan the party ;)

10) Write a book.

This is something I loved doing in school and I used to do with my pre-k classroom so it can be modified for kids as young as 4 who are just starting to learn to write. Blank books can be found at craft stores, teaching stores and occasionally I have seen them in Target’s dollar section. Here are my tips for this activity (which will span a few weeks): have children plan out the book first. They should think about the theme of their story and the characters that will be in it and then write it out on paper. A parent or adult can help edit or you may choose to let the child do it on their own and let the spelling/grammar be (I prefer to do it the second way). The next step is to figure out how to break the story up into pages so they might need an adult to help them do that. This is not such an issue for shorter stories but if they have a longer story this is important so they don’t run out of pages before the story is over. Make sure to leave space for pictures as well! The last step is creating the final book. Do the cover in pencil and then go over it with cover, make the title page and then the children can transfer the story from paper to the book. This is a long process but the final product is something the kids will want to hang on to for years to come!

11) Make a card for a loved one or friend.

Instead of buying a card for an upcoming birthday or holiday, like Father’s Day, have your child create their own. It’s always nice to receive handmade things and they are a lot cheaper, too.

12) Make a list of movies to see or books to read.

My kids always tell me what movies they want to see or books they want to read next. Have them create a list so next time you are going to the movies or library you pick one they have been wanting to see or read.

13) Create a recipe.

Have a little one who loves to help you in the kitchen? Have them create a recipe of their own! They can make one for their favorite summer treat or create a brand new dish. Make sure they write the ingredients and directions and then you can make it together for the family to enjoy.

14) Make a treasure map.

Have your child hide something in your home or backyard and have them draw a treasure map for family members to find it. Instead of just pictures, they can label the items on their treasure map.

15) Write to get published.

There is nothing more exciting for a young writer than seeing their name in print. Here’s a list of places for kids (as young as Kindergarten) to submit stories and poems to.

16) Create your own board game.

Board games are perfect for rainy days so what would be more fun than creating a game of their own? Children can label things on the game board and also write out instructions so others can play their game.

17) Do a Mad Libs book or create a Mad Libs story.

Remember Mad Libs? If not, here is a reminder- http://www.madlibs.com/. These books were so fun! Someone asked you for random words and they read the story back to you with the words you chose in the spaces. They have lots of themed books nowadays but if you have an older child they may want to create one of their own mad libs stories.

18) Make a daily schedule.

I’ve found that things normally run smoother when we have a schedule. Develop a daily schedule with your children and have them write it down. Things to include: snack, outdoor time, reading time, pool time, quiet time, meals, story time and other bedtime routines.

19) Write thank you notes.

Kids can write thank you notes for gifts they have received, a thank you to a friend for helping with something or to a community worker.

20) Play a name game.

Have children write their full names on paper and then see how many words they can make out of it. They can do this for everyone’s name in their family, the titles of their favorite books, or really any set of words they want. To make it more fun they can play against someone to see who can create the most words.

21) Write a letter to save the lions.

Have a little environmentalist? Your child can write a letter about how important lions are. This writing prompt is from National Geographic Kids and some letters will be published and featured by them. More details can be found here.

22) Build a town for barbies or cars.

Children can use boxes, paper or chalk outside to build a town for their cars or barbies and then can have their toys “visit” the places. They can practice writing when making the road signs and labeling the places. This led to hours of fun when I was a little girl playing with barbies and my boys had fun doing this with their cars a few weeks ago. Their “town” included a car wash, bank, movie theater and jail.

23) Enter a writing contest.

Kids can write stories to enter into writing contests for a chance to win prizes or have their work featured. Here’s one for funny stories that ends at the end of June 2015 (though seems like this site updates with new contests regularly).

24) Make signs for a lemonade stand or garage sale.

If your family is having a garage sale this summer have your child make the signs to advertise it and help price items. Another option is that kid’s can host a lemonade stand and make signs for that.

25) Write a goodbye letter to friends.

The end of summer camp is a hard time for my kids. They miss all the friends they’ve made over the summer so what better way to keep those friendships going than to have kids write letters to their camp friends saying they’d love to keep in touch. They can include a phone number so their friends can contact them for a playdate. If your kids aren’t in camp they could do this for VBS, summer school or a sport that’s ending.

What other ideas do you have? Feel free to share them in the comments below!

 

Everything We Need For An Active Summer

luke1

Disclosure: I received LISTERINE® Brand products and a Walgreens gift card from Johnson & Johnson Healthcare Products Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc. and The Motherhood as part of my participation in the LISTERINE® Brand Totally Taken Care Of program. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Summertime is a very busy time of the year and we love to cram it full of fun activities. Since we have four unique people in our home we try to do things that everyone wants to do. I enjoy grilling out and relaxing in the backyard, Alicia likes exploring our community and trips to the beach, Jacob likes playing sports and Lucas likes trying to visit every playground that he can. Since we are all so unique we need products that are going to meet our unique health needs as well. One brand that understands that best is LISTERINE® because they offer a wide range of products for a busy family.

As a parent I always encourage my boys to have excellent mouth care habits and we like LISTERINE® TOTAL CARE because it is a complete mouthwash that offers six unique benefits in one bottle. LISTERINE® TOTAL CARE helps prevent cavities and restores enamel, strengthens teeth and freshens breath while killing bad breath germs and completely cleans the whole mouth. LISTERINE® TOTAL CARE ensures completely that my family’s oral care needs are taken care of 100%.

My new favorite is LISTERINE® TOTAL CARE ZERO. All the same six in one bottle benefits but without any alcohol. It’s my last step in my morning routine and easy to swish and go.

The boys have their own favorite flavor too. It is LISTERINE® SMART RINSE®. It is a post brush rinse specifically designed for children between 6 and 12 years of age. Kids are protected up to 12 hours due to the added benefit of fluoride.

Using Listerine gets my whole family and I energized and ready for whatever each summer day will bring whether we are chilling at home or on the go. For everything else there is Johnson & Johnson brand products. We always have some of these with us at all times, including Neutrogena Cool Dry sunscreen spray, Neosporine and Band-Aid Brand Adhesive bandages.

My boys just love running around all day, whether they are playing sports or playing on the slip-n-slide in the backyard. All of these products are must haves!

As our summer will be fun and hectic it is always good to know that in emergency we can always stock up on Johnson & Johnson brand products at our local Walgreen’s. Walgreen’s will make sure the fun never runs out.

What products are you stocking up?

Free Summer Reading Programs For Kids

2015 Free Summer Reading Programs for kids

This list has been updated for Summer 2016 :)

Jake learned to read this year and just recently has started reading for the fun of it, as opposed to reading because he has to. This has made my heart so happy. I want to do everything I can to encourage the boys to read over the summer so I will be signing them up for all the reading programs I can. I am sharing these free summer reading programs for kids because I thought you all would be interested in signing your children up as well. Most of them are available nationally and each one costs nothing to sign up. Some even give prizes to children who read a certain amount of books. If you know of any others please leave a comment on this post and I’ll add them to the list.

1) Your local library- Check your library’s website to learn about their summer reading program and when the sign up time is. We do the library’s reading program every year.

2) Scholastic- The Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge™ is a free online reading program for children. There are no prizes for children however they are helping set a reading world record which is something fun they can say they helped do. Learn more here.

3) Barnes & Noble- Kids can earn a free book by reading 8 books and recording them in a reading journal. Learn more here.

4) Meatheads Restaurants (Illinois locations only)- Kids ages 13 and under can read 5 books to earn a free little meathead burger. Learn more here.

5) Pizza Hut- The Book It! reading program has been around for years. I remember participating in the reading program when I was a kid so it’s fun my kids can do it now. Details for 2015 will be live in June and details can be found here.

6) Chuck E Cheese- Children get 10 tokens for reading every day for two weeks in a row. Find the form here.

7) Chicago Botanic Garden- Sign up at the Lenhardt Library at the Chicago Botanic Gardens. Every time they read a book they get a stamp. Every 5 stamps they get a prize (up to 20 stamps). Learn more here.

8) Sylvan- Sylvan’s Book Adventure is a fun, free way to motivate your child to read! Kids in grades K-8 can search for books, read them, take a short quiz on what they’ve read, and earn prizes for their reading success. Learn more here.

9) Half Price Books- Earn HPB Bookworm Bucks for reading 300 minutes in June and July. There is a chance to win HPB gift cards as well. Learn more here.

10) TD Bank- Children, grades K-5, who read 10 books this summer get $10 deposited in their new or existing Young Saver account. Learn more here.

11) Showcase Cinemas- Children in NY (and other areas where there are Showcase Cinema locations) who read a book and then write a book report about it can get in free to see a movie on Bookworm Wednesdays. Learn more here. (2016 updated link: https://www.showcasecinemas.com/programs/kids-and-families/bookwormwed)

12) Books A Million- Children read any 6 books from the list they are provided for a Theodore Boone pencil case and pencil. Learn more here.

Not near any of these locations? How about having your own summer reading program? Check out this 10 week do-it-yourself themed summer reading program!

2015 Summer Bucket List (And Tips To Get The Most Out Of Summer)

Palmetto

I am so excited to share this year’s summer bucket list with you all! I have a general bucket list for kids and also am sharing some of my favorite Chicago area bucket list ideas as well. Before I share those though, I wanted to share some of my tips for getting the most out of summer!

First of all, extend your summer! Who says “summer” needs to start in June and end in August or whenever the kids go back to school? I declared May 1st as the start of our summer and we are going to enjoy fun times as long as the weather will let us (which will hopefully be into September!)

Make sure to plan it. We’ve had many Saturdays that were filled with errands and before we knew it, we’d wasted a gorgeous day off with things that can be done in little chunks of time elsewhere throughout the week. Schedule the fun in! I have our summer bucket list in a notebook that I carry around so that if bad weather cancels Jake’s baseball game I can come up with an indoor activity to do.

Lastly, don’t forget to record it! Take lots of pictures of the memory making. Another thing we are doing this summer is having the kids write in journals daily. They’ll practice their writing skills but also record all the fun times they had.

When planning my bucket list I thought of all the fun things I’ve enjoyed in the past, either as a child or with my own kids. I also looked into events going on in my community and found many free ones. I discovered many places have free activities and events including ToysRUs, Home Depot, Walmart, bowling alleys and more so make sure to look at stores in your town as well! Anything we definitely wanted to do I added to my calendar as an event. I then made a list of all the passes we had along with free or discount days at places, open gyms, story times, farmer’s markets and anything else that happened on a semi-regular basis or had certain hours.

Creating my bucket list took almost a whole day but if you don’t have much time I encourage you to start one and add to it as you think of things. I found splitting my list into categories helped me so I have it split by: places I want to travel to, day trips, Chicago city fun (since I live in the suburbs), neighboring towns, my town, home- outside, home- inside, and things to learn/practice. I also made a bucket list for myself since mom needs a bucket list, too!

Now to the fun! :)

Our Family Bucket List

 

Home- Outdoors:

  • Fly a kite
  • Have a water balloon fight
  • Draw with chalk
  • Make smores over the fire pit
  • Play in a bounce house
  • Ride bikes and scootes
  • Blow bubbles
  • Play on the slip n’ slide
  • Get ice cream from the ice cream truck
  • Play in the rain
  • Host a BBQ
  • Play water balloon baseball
  • Race remote control cars
  • Paint with water
  • Catch lightning bugs
  • Wash the car by hand with soapy water
  • Treasure hunt in the sandbox
  • Play in the water table
  • Build a sandcastle
  • Have a water gun fight
  • Watch a sunset
  • Play catch

Home- Indoors:

  • Make homemade pizza
  • Have a cousin sleepover
  • PJ/Movie day
  • Make lemonade
  • Have a family game night
  • Bake cookies
  • Make rootbeer floats
  • Do science experiments
  • Make homemade popsicles
  • Build a fort in the TV room
  • Eat watermelon
  • Have an indoor scavenger hunt
  • Enjoy breakfast for dinner
  • Make ice cream sundaes
  • Cook dinner together

Things to do in our town or neighboring towns:

  • Go to garage sales
  • Visit at least 5 different playgrounds
  • Have a picnic in a local park
  • Visit the local Farmer’s Market
  • Go to ChuckECheese
  • Attend library storytime
  • Have a family walk around the neighborhood
  • Go to a kid’s workshop at Home Depot or Lowe’s
  • Spend a day at the local pool
  • Go paddleboating
  • Play mini-golf
  • Go fishing
  • Ride horses
  • Go to the local arcade
  • Go out for ice cream
  • Make your own pottery
  • Feed ducks at the lake
  • Star gaze
  • Eat a sno cone
  • Go geocatching
  • Attend a craft class at Michaels
  • Go on a nature walk
  • Enjoy a movie or concert in the park
  • Go for a train ride
  • Pick fruit
  • Go to a parade
  • Watch fireworks
  • Ride go karts
  • Play laser tag
  • Go to a drive in movie
  • Go to an amusement park
  • Go to a baseball game
  • Go to the movies
  • Volunteer together
  • Go to a waterpark
  • Attend an art class
  • Go bowling

To learn or practice:

  • Learn: how to ride a bike without training wheels
  • Learn: how to tie shoes with laces
  • Learn: a magic trick
  • Learn: how to dribble a basketball (Luke)
  • Learn: site words (Luke)
  • Learn: how to swim
  • Learn: to skip rocks
  • Practice: reading
  • Practice: writing
  • Practice: sports

Mom’s to do list:

  • Have a spa day
  • Clean out and organize garage
  • Create travel display
  • Complete a puzzle
  • Have a date night in Chicago
  • Spend an afternoon reading in the hammock
  • Travel somewhere at least a few times a month
  • Enjoy a pina colada
  • Go to lunch with family
  • Go to Sunday brunch
  • Eat a meal by the water

Our Chicago Bucket List

 

City:

  • Navy Pier
  • Hard Rock Cafe
  • Taste of Chicago
  • China Town
  • Millenium Park
  • Michigan Avenue
  • Water Tower
  • Visit “the bean”
  • Museum of Science and Industry
  • Shedd Aquarium
  • Donut Vault
  • River tour via boat
  • Get a lobster roll
  • See Chicago from Montrose Point
  • Walk along the lake
  • Get popcorn from Garrett’s
  • Stay overnight in the city
  • Splash in Crown Fountain

Suburbs:

  • Great America
  • LegoLand in Schaumburg
  • Downtown Naperville and the riverwalk
  • Air show in Bolingbrook
  • Sky Zone
  • SciTech
  • Morton Arboretum
  • Blackberry Farms
  • Outlet mall
  • Phillips Park Zoo
  • Ravinia Fest
  • County Fair
  • Ribfest in Naperville
  • Wolfe Wildlife Refuge in Oak Lawn
  • Children’s Museum in Naperville
  • Red Oak Nature Center
  • Brookfield Zoo
  • All Aboard Diner

Day Trips:

  • Diecke Discover Zone- Huntley
  • Indiana Dunes
  • Starved Rock
  • Bourbonnais- Bears training camp, Strickler Planetarium, Perry Farm Park
  • Long Grove
  • Valporaiso- Valplayso park

Weekend Trips:

  • Camping
  • Wisconsin Dells
  • Michigan- Beach and Saugatuck
  • Mackinac Island
See our past bucket list here.

ROBOTS-4-U And Art & Design Summer Camps Now Enrolling

robots

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

Planning your summer fun? I have two new camps to share with you today that are all about S.T.E.A.M. education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math)! The first camp is ROBOTS-4-U - where fun, thinking and learning comes to life!  Campers will be learning about Robotics and Science, in an independent and exciting way! The other camp is the DYNAMIC ART & DESIGN Summer Camp – where technology meets creativity. Campers will have a BLAST, while learning and playing in a dynamic environment.

The camps are for girls and boys ages 7 to 14 and offer hands on learning that is self-paced for beginners to experts with a ratio of 1 instructor to 16 participants. Each Camper Individually uses a ROBOTICS or DYNAMIC ART Kit. Robot kits do not go home with campers but are available for purchase!

Camps are offered in one week sessions during June, July and August. Each camp is 1 week (5 days) long. They are Monday to Friday from 9-11:30am and 12:30-3pm. Visit the web sites www.ROBOTS-4-U.com and www.dynamic-art-design.com to see dates and locations for these Chicago-area day camps.

Register early as camps do fill up quickly! Get 60% Off Robotics Science Summer Camps using the code: “USF1550r”.

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.

To learn more about the brand visit www.puracynplus.com and follow the brand on facebook (facebook.com/puracyn) and Pinterest. Another product they have is the Puracyn Plus Foot Wash and Skin Cleanser, a highly effective cleansing solution for healthier feet and wound care. If you or a loved one have diabetes Puracyn Plus Foot wash is essential to help make foot care part of your daily health routine and self care.

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.

To learn more about the Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™ , LIKE the brand on Facebook and follow the brand on Pinterest.

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.


Summer Technology Camps For Kids And Teens

DMA

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

Founded at Stanford University, Digital Media Academy is ranked as one of the ten best summer camps in the world. Kids and teens learn computer programming, app development, 3D modeling, robotics, graphic design, filmmaking, and much more. DMA summer camps are one or multiple week experiences taught by industry experts and tech professionals. Campers get hands-on experience creating projects using the latest hardware and software from Apple, Canon, Adobe, and more.

Give your teen a pre-collegiate experience or build a child’s confidence through project-based learning. 25 locations at top universities throughout the U.S. and Canada. Camps are filling fast, register early to save money and stay off the wait list.

Save $75 off summer camps at Digital Media Academy with code TECHFUN15 at DigitalMediaAcademy.org register by March 31st. Call 1-866-656-3342 to speak with a Guest Service Representative or email at info@digitalmediaacademy.org. Mention the US Family Guide Special Offer to get the discount.

Time To Start Thinking About Summer Camps

challengersports

This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.

There is still snow on the ground but I’m already starting to plan for Spring and Summer. I just signed Jake up for baseball and soccer and tomorrow I go to register both boys for summer camp. Since moving recently, I have been looking into all the local sports related activities I can find and came across a fun summer camp that I think both boys will enjoy.

British Soccer Camp is the most popular camp in North America. With an innovative curriculum that develops skills, speed and confidence in players ages 3-18, British Soccer Camps provide boys and girls with the rare opportunity to receive high-level soccer coaching from a team of international expert’s right in the heart of their own community. In addition to teaching new skills and improving game performance, each British Soccer Camp provides lessons in character development, cultural education and is the most fun your child can have learning the sport they love!

As a bonus, if you enroll your child in a British Soccer Camp today you will receive a Free British Soccer Jersey. PLUS – enter code FMG15 and you will get a bonus Challenger water bottle! Register here.

Freeze Pop Sabers {Easy Summer Craft}

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I love the summer and all it brings: playing outside, swimming, sunshine and warm weather. Sometimes all I want is something cold to cool me off and freeze pops are a fun and colorful way to do so. Family Fun Magazine sent me this adorable craft to share with you all and it is perfect for serving freeze pops. They are super easy and I could see my boys using their freeze pops as light sabers and recreating that famous movie :)

Feel the force of ice-cold refreshment—and keep hands unfrozen—with these felt cozies. For each, cut a 3- by 4-inch rectangle from gray felt. Fold it over a freeze pop and use fabric glue to seal the side and bottom edges. Clamp the fabric closed with binder clips or clothespins, if needed. Slip the felt off the pop. Glue on stripes and dots of black and colored felt. When your pop is frozen and the glue is dry, you’re ready to battle the heat!

Our First Month Of Summer {In Pictures}

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Summer break has been fantastic so far! I know I don’t share as many pictures as I used to so I wanted to share some of my favorites from the past month. These are all taken in the evenings and weekends since the boys are in camp during the day. I can’t wait to see all those pictures at the end of the summer! They’ve been to the zoo, horseback riding, golf, the movies and lots more fun places with the camp :)

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Join Me In Taking The “Let’s Play” Pledge

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(Disclosure: I am currently serving as a “Play Ambassador” for Let’s Play. This is a sponsored post, however, the opinions expressed are my own.)

I’m excited to share that I’ve recently been chosen to be a Play Ambassador for Let’s Play, a community partnership led by Dr Pepper Snapple Group to get kids and families active by providing the tools, places and inspiration to make play a daily priority. I first realized the importance of play when I taught pre-k years ago. I saw first-hand how children learned through play more so than they did through any other way.

As a mom, I continue to believe in the importance of play but it is not so easy to integrate into life outside of the classroom. After a long day of work and driving the boys to their activities, I often just want to head home to eat dinner and relax. We have a backyard but the boys would rather sit inside and play legos or watch TV. I don’t want them to grow up and be couch potatoes so it’s my responsibility, as their mom, to get them outside playing.

With summer just around the corner I’m looking forward to warmer weather and more time outside. I decided that as tired as I am at the end of the day, it doesn’t take much more energy to sit at the park while they play on the playground than it does to sit on my couch. I figured we could spend 30 minutes to an hour at least a few times a week at the park. I recently heard about the “Let’s Play” pledge and signed it, pledging to engage my children in 120 hours of active play each week.

Along with playing on the playground, here are 5 other fun active ideas for kids this summer:

  • Go on a nature walk and make a nature collage with items they find
  • Have a toy wash. Grab a bucket of soapy water and a sponge and kids can have fun while they are cleaning their toys
  • Pull out the sprinkler and the slip n’ slide and cool off on a hot day
  • Play ball! Baseball, soccer, football, and other sports are great activities
  • Ride tricycles or scooters on the sidewalk

Want to join me and make active play a daily priority in the lives of your kids? You can sign the pledge here. Follow along on Social Media, too! Find Let’s Play on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Thinking About Summer Camp For Your Teens Already?

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(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.)

Thinking about summer camp already? Here’s information about a camp that looks like a lot of fun!

Camp KIVU is located in the foothills of the San Juan Mountains outside Durango Colorado. For the last 15 years, The KIVU staff have provided a world class experience to the Summer Camp model. Their facilities are resort style, and their adventures give teenagers stories for years to come. Representing over 26 different countries, KIVU has hosted nearly 15,000 students who long to unplug for two weeks and make new friends from across the globe. Founder and current President Andy Braner has become an expert on Teenage issues ranging from bullying to the current addiction to technology most students are trying to navigate to date. Braner has written five books on teen issues, curriculum for students to ask hard questions about relationship value, global engagement, and multi faith conversations. Each summer KIVU hires 150 University staff to come mentor students in the art of relationship building, outdoor adventure, and faith based values.

Learn more about them on YouTube and Facebook.

If you sign up by April 1, use the code BLOGS2014 and you will receive an immediate $100 off your tuition.

Summer Printables From Snapfish

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Quench your thirst for fun with sweet summer printables. From lemonade stand banner and signs, to travel tags, activity sheets, and ice cream cone wrappers, Snapfish’s citrus-themed printables feature bright color delightful designs, and everything you need to create a fun-in-the-sun summer.

(Image from snapfish.com)

Head on over to the Snapfish website and check out the adorable collection of free printables they have!

(Disclosure: This is not a compensated post. Just wanted to share!)

 

8 Tips To Save Money At The Zoo {And Brookfield Zoo Pictures}

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We are lucky to have two large zoos and a handful of small ones in the Chicago area. Our favorite is Brookfield Zoo. Here are some of my favorite pictures from our first zoo trip of the summer (and ways we saved money while there):

Money Saving Tip #1: Brookfield Zoo has a dinosaur exhibit so instead of paying a lot in the gift shop for a souvenir, we picked up these dinosaur hats for just a couple dollars at Target.

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Money Saving Tip #2: Pack a cooler with drinks and food. We packed our drinks, snacks and the boys lunches. My mom and I ate food from a snack shack at the zoo and we splurged on ice cream since it was so hot outside.

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Money Saving Trip #3: Check into joining your local zoo, especially if you plan on going there often or are going to pay for attractions anyways. Our membership includes 4 tickets to the dino exhibit, 4 tickets to ride the tram, 4 tickets to the dolphin show, unlimited access to the Children’s area, free parking and guest passes. Once you pay for parking, it’s often cheaper to get a membership! Plus, zoo memberships often get you a discount on food and souvenirs.

Other ways to save?

#4: Look for coupons online.

#5: Check to see if your local library has any passes to local attractions (here in Chicago they do).

#6: If you are going to be purchasing a drink, look for refillable cups.

#7: Check to see if your zoo has free admission days.

#8: Enjoy a free show. A lot of times you can see zookeepers feeding animals or talking about animals around the park. These talks are free. Check the schedule at your local zoo.

How do you save money at the zoo?

Family Friendly Events at Chicago Botanic Garden

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It’s July and the time of the year that many parents start to hear “I’m bored”. With over a month still left of summer and plenty of nice weather days left it’s the perfect time to go visit the Chicago Botanic Garden.

This summer, the Garden has a variety of activities for families to enjoy together. From the new Grunsfeld Children’s Growing Garden and Kleinman Family Cove to the Model Railroad Garden and Butterflies & Blooms exhibitions, there are many engaging destinations to discover. A full calendar of events is designed specifically for families throughout the summer.

Image courtesy of Chicago Botanic Garden

Model Railroad Garden: Landmarks of America – runs through Sunday, October 27

The Model Railroad Garden returns for a 14th season with new features such as the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and a refurbished White House. Eighteen model G-scale trains will run on 17 tracks, winding over bridges and trestles, and around nearly 50 models of American landmarks. The 7,500-square-foot exhibition is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (weather permitting). Special evening hours on Wednesdays, June 5 – August 28, until 8 p.m. Cost is $6 for adults; $5 seniors; $4 children (3-12). Members receive $1 discount off these rates; Garden Plus members are free on Wednesdays. The Model Railroad Garden is generously sponsored by Bank Of America. Visit www.chicagobotanic.org/railroad for more information.

Plant Giveaways – Wednesdays through October 6

Visitors are invited to stop by the Fruit & Vegetable Garden between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday to pick up a free seedling. Plant giveaways vary by month and include a care sheet and recipe to help you enjoy your new plant.

Butterflies & Blooms Exhibition – runs through Monday, September 2

The popular Butterflies & Blooms exhibition returns for its second season. Visitors are immersed in a tropical habitat full of hundreds of colorful butterflies interacting with plant life. Butterflies & Blooms features butterflies from around the world, including South America, Asia, North America, and Africa, as well as those native to Illinois. Volunteers are also on hand to answer questions. The 2,800-square-foot white mesh enclosure is located on the lawn of the Learning Campus. Cost is $6 for adults; $5 seniors; $4 children (3-12). Members receive $1 discount off these rates; Garden Plus members are free on Wednesdays. Visit www.chicagobotanic.org/butterflies for more information.

Grunsfeld Children’s Growing Garden Family Drop-in Activities – Daily, through September 2

Get close to nature and discover where food comes from and how plants grow. Pollinate flowers, dissect seeds, see roots growing, compost with worms, create a rainbow for healthy eating, and more. Activities vary from week to week and all feature books and puzzles. Weekend hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Weekday hours are noon to 4 p.m. Visit www.chicagobotanic.org/forfamilies for more information.

Kleinman Family Cove Family Drop-in Activities – Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, through September 1

Explore the plants and animals in aquatic habitats. Use scientific tools to look at tiny critters living under water, find out what makes water plants different from land plants, and more. Activities may vary from week to week. Program hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitwww.chicagobotanic.org/forfamilies for more information.

Malott Japanese Garden Family Sundays – Sundays, July 7 and 21, August 6 and September 1 and 15

Drop by the Elizabeth Hubert Malott Japanese Garden for hands-on activities related to Japanese arts and culture. Practice using chopsticks, rake miniature dry gardens, make Japanese kites, and more. The free activities vary each time, and are subject to change. 

Family Campout – July 27 (rain date August 2)

Families can come pitch a tent in our Outdoor Classroom for a low-stress camping experience with flushing toilets and running water! We’ll go for a scavenger hunt and evening hike through the prairie and cook s’mores around a campfire. Please plan to spend the night, as the Garden is unable to accommodate “under-night” or evening-only participants. Activities are geared for participants ages 5 and 6, but younger campers are welcome. Please note the rain date when registering for the campout. Campout fees will only be refunded if both the original date and the rain date are cancelled by the Garden. Program runs 5 p.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Sunday. Cost is $50 per child; $20 per adult. Garden Plus members receive a 20 percent discount. Adult must accompany children. Limit of three children per adult. Campers should bring a sack lunch for dinner. S’mores and breakfast is provided. Visit www.chicagobotanic.org/afterschool/campouts or call (847) 835-8239 for more information.

Herb Garden Weekend – Saturday, July 27, and Sunday, July 28

Learn about a variety of kitchen garden herbs in the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden at Herb Garden Weekend. Staff, volunteers and outside experts will talk about their top ten herbs, how to grow herbs in containers, herbs in the kitchen and more. Herb Discovery Carts will introduce visitors to the herbs and edible flowers they can grow in their own gardens. Marcia Carmichael, herbal expert and historical gardener at Old World Wisconsin, will answer herb gardening questions throughout the weekend. Select vendors will offer plants and herbal products for sale. Visitors can take part in a number of family-friendly activities, including a sniff guess game, planting an herb seed and making a dried herb mix for herb butter. As part of the Plant Giveaway Program, visitors can take a marjoram seedling home (while supplies last). Hours are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Nature Nights: NEW! Abounding Butterflies – Saturdays, July 6 or 20

Bring a picnic dinner and spend an evening in the Garden! Children ages 4-10 and their families will explore different areas of the Garden and enjoy a variety of discovery-based activities. You’ll learn how butterflies sense the world around them, find out about the butterfly life cycle, and discover how to attract butterflies to your garden. Each Nature Nights also includes a tram ride, a planting project, and s’mores around the campfire. Hours are from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Registration is $25 for nonmembers. Garden Plus members receive a 20 percent discount. Visitwww.chicagobotanic.org/naturenights/ for more information.

Nature Nights: Aquatic Adventure – Saturday, August 3 or 17

Bring a picnic dinner and spend an evening in the Garden! Children ages 4-10 and their families will explore different areas of the garden and enjoy a variety of discovery-based activities. You’ll gather your own water sample and look at plants, insects, and animals that live in the water at the Kleinman Family Cove using scientific tools. Each Nature Nights also includes a tram ride, a planting project, and s’mores around the campfire. Hours are from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Registration is $25 for nonmembers. Garden Plus members receive a 20 percent discount. Visitwww.chicagobotanic.org/naturenights for more information.

Kite Festival – Saturday, August 10, and Sunday, August 11

Enjoy a day at the Garden as colorful kites decorate the sky above the meadow west of Evening Island. Members of the award-winning Chicago Fire Kite Team perform sport kite ballet and precision flying demonstrations, and experts will offer kite-flying tips. Kids are encouraged to join in the fun by making their own kite during the kite-making workshops between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. There’ll also be a ‘Kids Mad Dash’ in which participants will compete to see who can get their kite built and soaring the fastest. Registration is free and available at the Gift of Wings tent between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The first 30 children to register will receive a free kite to build and fly in the competition. Participants may bring and fly their own kites in the designated “Kite Festival” area between performances. Kites will also be available for purchase through Gift of Wings, a Milwaukee, WI-based retailer which will set up shop during the festival. Gift of Wings along with the Kite Society of Wisconsin and Illinois make this festival possible.

Festival hours are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., weather permitting. Visit www.chicagobotanic.org/specialevent/kite or call (847) 835-5440 for more information.

Malott Japanese Garden Summer Festival – Saturday, August 17, and Sunday, August 18

Learn about the summer festivals (matsura) celebrated in Japan during this special weekend of activities. Listen to taiko drum and koto harp music, enjoy traditional folktales, and watch a tea ceremony. Kids of all ages can make projects to celebrate summer—fold origami, create a paper fan, make a kite, and more at family-friendly, hands-on stations. Program hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Malott Japanese Garden will be staffed with volunteers in the Shoin House and around the Garden from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Also stop by the Mid-America Bonsai Society Show & Sale. Visit www.chicagobotanic.org/familyprograms/dropin for more information.

Heirloom Tomato Weekend – Saturday, August 24, and Sunday, August 25

Get new ideas about everyone’s garden-favorite, tomatoes, with programs focused on growing and using heirloom varieties. Volunteers and staff will provide tips on growing and using tomatoes. “Tomato Discovery Carts” will explore many types of tomatoes you can grow at home and trace the history of tomatoes as they’ve traveled the world. Visitors can ask experts tomato questions and shop for tomato-related items in the Wheelbarrow Shop and from select vendors. Family activities include a creating an herb mix for pasta sauce, a tomato toss, a tomato test, “sorting supper,” “rainbows of tomatoes,” and “indicator art.” As part of the Plant Giveaway Program, visitors can take a Crimson King basil seedling home (while supplies last). Hours are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors will be able to tour the tomatoes growing in the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden with the horticulturist at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Seed saving demonstrations will be offered on the half hour throughout the weekend.

Find out more at www.chicagobotanic.org

(Disclosure: This post is not sponsored.)

Six Flags Great America’s New igNIGHT Show

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(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post from Six Flags Great America. As someone who loves Great America I am happy to share about this exciting new show and provide my readers with a discount on admission.)

Six Flags Great America is pleased to present the premiere of igNIGHT – Grand Finale, a mesmerizing and immersive nighttime spectacle bursting with energy, vivid colors, brilliant visual effects, lively performances, fascinating imagery, and pure imagination.

 

The groundbreaking new high-tech show — the most advanced show in the park’s 37-year history! — plays on all your senses, taking you on a wonderfully wild journey to a beautiful never-before-seen world. Watch in wonder as igNIGHT illuminates the dark night, magically bringing to life a phenomenal bright and vibrant multimedia universe filled with music, singing, dancing, laser lighting, and pyrotechnics right before your very eyes. Guest interaction along with advanced audio, enhanced video projection, and special effects round out the brand new show that is sure to stun and delight audiences of all ages.

 

igNIGHT – Grand Finale will premiere in summer 2013 and will take place in the evenings right before the park closes because there’s no better way to end an adrenaline-filled day at Six Flags Great America than with a big bang!

 

My Readers Save $20 Off One-Day Admission to Six Flags Great America http://www.windycitykidsguide.com/coupon.php?bid=11220&dealid=1287


Summer Is Here!

First day of Summer School & Camp 2013

First day of Summer School & Camp 2013

After a busy Spring it’s an even busier Summer here. The boys are in our school’s extended school year program and in summer camp in the afternoons which all just started yesterday. It was so weird to sit in silence for my entire workday. I missed the giggles of my boys and even their whiny “mommy he did….” moments but I know they are going to have a ton of fun. They would have spent much of the day inside while I worked and this way they can be at the pool, playing with friends at the playground, and going on field trips to exciting places. They are also playing some sports this Summer like they did during Spring.

I have committed to spending weekends completely with them and not working or blogging during that time. As a work at home mom it’s hard for me to pull away since my work is always sitting there and in the online world there is always more I could be doing but my kids come first. They need me and I want to spend this time with them while they still want to spend it with me.

To prepare for summer I made a list of all the free places we can go (including those we have memberships to), put fun community events in my calendar, and made a list of everything the boys and I thought would be fun to do together or places we want to visit. This way I can look at the list and decide what we want to do in the evenings and on the weekends. We also picked up the backyard and pulled out the summer items so we have the slip-n-slide, kiddie pool, sandbox, and sports gear all ready to go for lazy afternoons outside.

What are your plans for the summer? How will you be spending time with your kids? If you need some ideas I have a fun list from last summer of 100 things you can do to enjoy the time with your family :) Find the list here.

20 Fine Motor Activities For Preschoolers

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It’s been shown that children lose skills over the summer so I wanted to share 20 activities you can have your preschooler do to help them practice their fine motor skills. Most of these work for other seasons as well so this list can be used year-round.

1) Have them blow bubbles and pop them with their pointer finger or clapping with two hands.

2) Have them use sidewalk chalk to draw pictures or practice writing their name

3) Let them help you pull weeds using their pincer grasp.

4) Play finger soccer with cotton balls

5) “Paint” with water on the sidewalk

6) Make a rain stick out of toothpicks, beads, and pebbles and a paper towel tube. Let them poke the holes in the tube with the toothpicks.

7) Have a toy wash. Have them squeeze the water out of the sponge while washing the toys and press the nozzle on the hose to rinse the toys off.

8) Make cookies together. Have your preschooler help stir the thick batter.

9) Have your child make a paper chain to count down to a vacation or fun summer event. Have them cut out strips of paper and then loop together and glue the ends to make a chain.

10) Squirt shaving cream onto a clean table and let your child draw pictures in it. (Watch that they don’t put it in their mouth)

11) Have a picnic in the backyard or at a local park and let your child open the containers and baggies.

12) Get the playdough out and have your child make faces with the playdough. Roll the playdough into a long piece for the mouth, roll into balls for the eyes, etc.

13) Make necklaces. Have your child paint pasta noodles and then, once dry, put them on a string.

14) Celebrate friendship. Color a picture for a friend.

15) Have a lemonade stand! Let your child stir the lemonade.

16) Sponge paint flower pots together and then plant something in them.

17) Head to the beach or a sandbox and have your child practice writing their name in the sand.

18) Make a marshmallow sculpture with your child. Poke toothpicks into marshmallows and build a sculpture.

19) Read books together. Let your child turn the pages themselves.

20) Have your child sort pom poms or other small items into ice cube trays. You can have your child do the sorting by shape or color.

Summer Fun At Magic Waters

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(Disclosure: I am receiving a family pack of tickets for posting about Magic Waters.)

Hey, Chicago! Looking for something fun to do on a hot summer day this summer? Visit one of the largest water parks in Illinois! Magic Waters is located just off I-90 near Rockford. Experience the Double Dare Drop 75 ft. Speed Slides, Tsunami Bay Wave Pool, Typhoon Terror Adventure Ride and the thrill a minute Splash Blaster Water Coaster Ride. Enter the dark tunnel of the Abyss for lots of twists and turns or relax on the 1,200 ft. Splash Magic River. Have tons of fun at Tiki Island where a 1,000 gallon pineapple water bucket spills to the delight of guests! Coolers welcome or grab lunch at the new Ocho’s Cantina! Luxury cabanas available. Free Parking. Visit magicwaterswaterpark.com for more information.

Water park opens June 8th 2013. Open Daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Mon & Fri 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Special Offers & Events

$12 Buck Bargain Days: Tues, Wed, Thurs during the 2013 season.

Friday Family Fun Nights: June 14 through August 16.

Meet & Greet: Sunday July 14th. Disney band IM5 will be at the park for a Meet and Greet. Go to magicwaterswaterpark.com for details.

Get your season passes now!

This is an exclusive offer brought to you by WindyCityKidsGuide!

grUVywear UV Protective Swimwear Review {And A Coupon Code}

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My boys love to play outside in their kiddie pool so I was happy to have a chance to review grUVywear, UV protective swimwear. Most of the time they just wear swim-trunks and their skin is coated with sunscreen that is 50 or higher but having read so much about skin cancer recently I wanted to try this. From what I’ve heard, dermatologists say that the most effective way to protect skin is to wear sun protective clothing. grUVywear swimshirts block 97.5% of the sun’s harmful rays.

I chose the 18-24 month size for Lucas since the swimwear is supposed to be a little fitted. He just turned three but is really skinny {he still can fit into his 12 and 18 month shorts!} I thought the swimwear fit true to size. I liked the bright colors though I would have preferred the writing not be on the front of the shirt. The shirt and shorts seemed to be made of quality material and it was very stretchy which was nice. The thing I like about the shirt and shorts most is that they are protecting his skin when he wears them and that they provide a UPF, or Ultraviolet Protection Factor, of 50+ {compared to dry t-shirts which provide a UPF rating of about 7}.

Here are some facts that I found in the grUVywear informational brochure that I’d never heard before:

  • We get about 80% of our total lifetime sun exposure in our first 18 years of life.
  • Skin cancer is the fastest growing form of cancer in the US. One person dies every hour from skin cancer.
  • More that 90% of all skin cancers are caused by sun exposure, yet fewer than 30% of adults and children use sun protection.
  • Two early sunburns can increase the risk of skin cancer later in life.

That last fact really surprised me and reminded me how important our job as parents is to take care of our children’s skin and teach them the importance of proper skin care.

COUPON CODE:

Use code SAVE1503 for 15% off your grUVywear purchase

{Discount code valid until July 15, 2012}

(Disclosure: I received a complimentary outfit from GrUVywear in exchange for this post.  All opinions expressed are my own.)

LEGO Summer Brickation Event {And A Giveaway!}

LEGO_2012_TourLogo_FINAL

LEGO is hosting four free events across the nation this summer. They aren’t coming to Chicago but they will be sort of close by in Traverse City, Michigan from now until July 17th. The address is: 3oo E. Front St.

I couldn’t find many details about the event but Traverse City’s Tourism website did have a little more information including times: MORE DETAILS

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a LEGO prize pack.

The prize pack contains: LEGO Club Magazine, 10 Bricks to Click and a pirate hat.

HOW TO ENTER:

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

1) Tell me who in your life loves LEGOs

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Follow me on Pinterest

Giveaway ends on June 21, 2012 at 11:59pm Central time. US Only.

(Disclosure: I was compensated for this post but opinions are my own.)

Summer Grilling {And A Giveaway!}

SAMSUNG

When it comes to cooking during the summer I don’t think there is any better way to cook than to grill out. Grilled food just tastes better and has the added bonus of helping keep the kitchen clean because we don’t have to use any pots and pans. Our landlord left his grill and so we have had a grill sitting on our patio for the past two summers but it has never worked so I was really happy when I had the chance to go shopping for a new grill and some grilling accessories to make grilling easier.

I looked online at Sears.com because I knew they had a great selection of grills. I was also searching for a few other pieces to make my backyard feel more relaxing and less like a children’s play zone.

The Simply Outdoors catalog on the Sears.com website had some amazing outdoor setups that I would love to have.

A table to gather around to eat, a nice conversation area by the pool, a relaxing lounge chair to sit and sun myself… oh wait…. only in my dreams! I knew I would have to be more realistic in the items that I chose. After looking at all of the outdoor setups it was time to search for what I had really got online to find- a grill!

I looked on the website and was excited to find a side by side comparison of grills. There is also a grill finder on the website to help you find your perfect grill. I also checked out the local deals online and then headed to Sears.

I didn’t even have to walk into the store to find the grills. They were right outside the door.

I quickly found the grill that I had decided upon online. At $80 it was perfect for our small budget. I liked that the corresponding grill covers were with the grill so I could easily find the one that I needed. Next us I looked at grill accessories.

I didn’t realize that there were so many grilling accessories available on the market! I knew for sure that I needed the basic items like tongs, a spatula, and a brush to clean the grill but other than that I wasn’t sure what else to get.

After about 30 minutes I managed to fill my cart up with a grilling tools set, a wok for cooking veggies, a kabob basket, and a fish grilling basket. I also considered purchasing a fajita skillet but figured I probably had enough grilling accessories already. I headed to the checkout and told the employee which grill I wanted and was pleasantly surprised to find out that they had one already assembled that I could put together. When I asked about cost I was told that it was free! I told him I’d love one that was put together because I was short on time and saving even an hour of time on a busy day was a huge help. I paid for my items {and got my Shop Your Way rewards points} and pulled my car around to the loading area of the store. My grill was loaded into my car and then I headed home. {You can find even MORE pictures of my shopping trip on Google+}

Once home we rolled the grill to the backyard and hooked up the propane tank. A couple hours later we were already grilling on it since we had a family party to celebrate Jake and Luke’s birthdays.

We made cheeseburgers and hot dogs. Of course I was so busy running around during the party that I neglected to take pictures of the food we enjoyed, other than the dessert table.

We have used our grill multiple times since the party. We’ve made shish-kabobs, steak, and brats.

When it comes to grilling, I don’t know a whole lot so I turned to my dad to get some of his best grilling tips. Some people just make amazing food and he is one of those people. He used to own his own restaurant and I haven’t ever had anything he made that wasn’t fantastic so I knew he’d have some great tips to share. Here are four of his top tips to help you this grilling season:

1) Start with a clean grill. To do so, start the grill and lay aluminum foil on the grates. The particles will turn to ash.

2) Most meats should be seared before cooking to hold in the juices. To do so, turn the grill on high. Spray the meat with cooking spray and then put it on the grill. Turn the meat over so both sides are seared and then continue cooking on medium heat.

3) When cooking for yourself and your family, get to know how long it takes to get your food just how you like it. Once you have figured out the timing your food will always come out perfectly if you always cook it for the same amount of time. Also, having a timer will help keep you from burning your food if you get preoccupied with another task.

4) Cook your entire meal on the grill. An easy side dish can be made by throwing some sliced potatoes, peppers, onions, salt & pepper, and olive oil together in a foil packet and sticking it right on the grill.

Live in the Chicago area? Join me at the Naperville Ribfest! I am so excited to be joining Ty Pennington and some other bloggers in the Sears tent! On June 30th, from noon to 6 p.m., those at the Ribfest can experience demonstrations by Sears grilling experts, take a picture with Ty Pennington, and even enter to win a grill and other wonderful prizes. Joining us at the Sears “Grilling is Happiness” tent are television host and author George Hirsch, “Grill Grrrl” Robyn Lindars, and “Burnin’ Love BBQ” chef Perry Perkins. You can join us online during the event by following the #GrillingIsHappiness hashtag on Twitter. Hope to see some of my local friends and readers at the live event!

GIVEAWAY:

One lucky winner will receive the Grillfinity Gourmet 3-Piece Grilling Tool Set pictured above {$50+ value}

HOW TO ENTER:

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

1) Tell me what your favorite food to grill is

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Follow me on Pinterest

4) Like Making Time For Mommy on Facebook

5) Like Sears on Facebook

6) Follow @aliciamarie112 on Twitter

7) Follow @Sears on Twitter

Giveaway ends June 30, 2012 at 11:59pm Central time. US only. This giveaway is not associated with Facebook in any way.

Want to buy your own grill or items to make your backyard fabulous? Check out these deals:

  • Great grill bundles at Sears ~ valid online & in-store 6/10-6/17. http://bit.ly/LdTcFm
  • 1 day only 6/10 ~ Online Only at Sears~ 10% off Outdoor Living
  • 6/10 Only get 30% off Patio + Extra 10% using YARD10 coupon code at Sears online

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ #CBias #SocialFabric #GrillingIsHappiness )

100+ Fun Things To Do This Summer {Our Summer Bucket List}

summer bucket list

Summer is my favorite season. I love the sunny, warm weather and all the time spent cooling off with water related activities. If one were to have been with my family last summer though, you would have thought I despised summer since we spent too much of it indoors and I spent a lot of it working. I have vowed that this summer will be different and that my kids will enjoy this summer to the fullest, despite the fact that I work from home. To help ensure that I’d give them all the great memories of summertime that I had as a child, I created a Summer bucket list for our family with over 100 ideas for summer fun. The list is geared towards preschoolers.

Outdoor Fun:

*Have a picnic lunch

*Plant flowers

*Host a backyard playdate

*Make smores

*Get ice cream from the ice cream truck

*Make a mud pie

*Paint with colored ice cubes

*Play in the sprinkler

*Make a nature collage

*Blow bubbles

*Host a family party

*Build a sandcastle

*Play in the rain

*Go on a nature scavenger hunt

*Go fishing

*Paint with water

*Wash the family car together

*Draw with chalk on the sidewalk

*Paint rocks

*Play soccer in the backyard

*Eat juicy watermelon

*Create a car racetrack on the sidewalk

*Make {and eat!} ice cream sundaes

*Read books outside in the shade of a tree

*Fly a kite

*Have a water balloon fight

*Freeze toys in a block of ice and then try to get them out

*Teach the boys how to ride their tricycles

*Catch fireflies

*Slide on a slip n’ slide

*Decorate t-shirts

*Go for a wagon ride

*Roll down a hill

*Pick flowers and make a bouquet

*Play catch in the backyard

Indoor Fun:

*Make homemade pizza

*Have a pajama day

*Make a musical instrument

*Compete to see who can build the tallest block tower

*Have a sleepover

*Board game day

*Bake cookies together

*Play playdough

*Make {and eat} “dirt cups”

*Read through a children’s Bible together

*Make a fort

*Cook dinner together

*Dance to songs from a children’s CD

*Dress up in costumes

*Have a family movie night with popcorn

*Pretend to be in a marching band

*Make homemade popsicles

*Play “I Spy”

*Make a fruit salad

*Fingerpaint in the bathtub

*Make {and play} a memory game

*Serve lunch in an ice cube tray

*Make a craft for every letter of the alphabet

*Make a suncatcher

On The Go:

*Go somewhere fun for Jake’s birthday

*Go somewhere fun for Luke’s birthday

*Go to an amusement park

*Visit a children’s museum

*Walk around a children’s garden

*Play in a splash pad

*Go to a carnival

*Attend an outdoor concert

*Go to the aquarium

*Eat at a train themed restaurant

*Go to the Indiana Dunes

*Walk along the lakefront

*Go to Starved Rock

*Visit a waterpark

*Go to a farmer’s market

*Go see a movie at the theater

*Visit daddy at work

*Go to the Museum of Science and Industry

*Take GiGi to lunch

*Go to Navy Pier

*Visit a pet store and buy a fish

*Go to a children’s concert

*Eat at a restaurant and sit on the patio

*Take a train ride

*Go garage-saling

*Feed ducks

*Go berry picking

*Watch a fireworks show

*Go on a picnic

*Go for a family walk

*Go swimming

*Go to Chuck-E-Cheese

*Attend a workshop at Home Depot or Lowe’s

*Go on a nature walk

*Try out 5 different playgrounds in town (went to 1)

*Listen to stories at library storytime

*Go to a parade

*Go bowling

*Go to a children’s farm

*Go downtown Chicago

*Attend a Vacation Bible School

*Play mini-golf

*Do the summer reading challenge at the library (signed up)

*Take a 2 day vacation somewhere within driving distance

*Jump in a bounce house

*Go out for ice cream

*Swim lessons

*Go to Day Out With Thomas

****

What’s on your summer bucket list?

Beyond Coastal Sun Care Review & Prize Pack Giveaway

My family loves spending time outside. I like to sit on the back porch with a magazine and an iced coffee and watch my boys play in their water table or in the kiddie pool. When they will be outside for more than 15 minutes at a time I make sure to protect their skin with sunscreen.

We recently had the chance to try out Beyond Coastal Sun Care products. I haven’t had a chance to use all of the items we were sent yet but I liked the ones I did try out. My favorite product is their lip balm with spf because it tastes like I am biting into a citrus fruit. I used the natural sunscreen on my skin while I was outside one afternoon in the sun for a couple hours. When I first squeezed it into my hand it felt very thick and I wasn’t sure how well it would work but it actually spread pretty easily and it kept my skin from burning. The other product I used was the sunscreen for the kids. While the lotion covered well, I found that I definitely preferred a spray on sunscreen for them because the application is a lot quicker and as we are getting ready to walk out the door I want something that can be applied in seconds.

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win the prize package pictured above

HOW TO ENTER:

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

1) Tell me what ‘fun in the sun’ activity your family enjoys most

2) Like Making Time For Mommy on Facebook

3) Like Beyond Coastal Sun Care on Facebook

4) Follow @aliciamarie112 on Twitter

5) Follow @BeyondCoastal on Twitter

6) Share this giveaway on a social network

7) Enter another one of my giveaways {found here}

8) Subscribe to Making Time For Mommy via email or RSS {look in upper right hand corner}

Giveaway ends June 3, 2012 at 11:59pm Central time. US Only.

(Disclosure: I received products from Beyond Coastal Sun Care to review but all thoughts are my own. This giveaway is not associated with Facebook in any way.)