Summer Boredom Busters

PicMonkey Image(38)

Disclosure: Items were received for inclusion but all thoughts are my own.

It’s nearly August which means if you haven’t heard “I’m bored” from your children yet, it’s coming…. Today I wanted to share some of my favorite summer boredom busters to keep your kids occupied at home as you all enjoy the rest of the summer season.

Enjoy water fun in the backyard

The best way to cool off on a hot day? Playing in water. We are loving the H2OGo! Slide-n-Splash Bowling. This isn’t just any slip n’ slide- your kids will become human bowling balls as they slide and try to knock down all the inflatable pins before they land in a shallow pool of water.

Another awesome thing kids will love is the new H20Go! Fun Blobz which is a cool, cushioned surface for kids to slide across and jump on. They’ll enjoy an afternoon of squishy, slippery fun in the backyard!

Craft with recycled materials

No need to go out and buy materials for these crafts because all 100 ideas use materials you probably already have around your house. Find the craft list here.

Learn to code with a fun project

MakeCrate offers carefully curated and tested electronics kits that include all the parts older kids need (along with step-by-step instructions and video tutorials) to build fun projects.

Build papercraft scenes

Have a Star Wars fan? They’ll love the Build-A-Scene Star Wars kit that provides everything they need to make iconic papercraft scenese from the Star Wars universe. Kids and teens can recreate the drama of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader’s duel on Mustafar from Revenge of the Sith; the nail-biting trench battle on the Death Star from A New Hope, and the Kylo Ren and Rey lightsaber fight in the snowy forest of the Starkiller Base from The Force Awakens.

Make your own obstacle course

Have your children work together to create an obstacle course using cones, hula hoops, chalk or whatever else you may have sitting in the garage. I encourage my boys to plan it on paper first and then set it up using the blueprint they made. They can take turns going through it and you can even challenge them to make a fun obstacle course for you to go through as well!

Get some hands-on science fun with a Geology experiment

Science during the summer? YES! Kids will enjoy doing the experiments in Geology Lab For Kids. The book features 52 simple, inexpensive, and fun experiments that explore the Earth’s surface, structure, and processes.

 

Go on a flashlight hidden message letter hunt

Looking to keep kids busy in the evening? Send them on a flashlight hidden message letter hunt. Hide rocks with letters on them in the backyard and then send them out with flashlights to find them all. Kids then use the rocks to figure out your secret message. When we did this we hid chocolate in our house and then the boys had to figure out the secret message that would lead them to where exactly the chocolate was hidden in our home. After they found the chocolate “in the kitchen where the food is kept cold” we used the chocolate to make s’mores and ended the night together around the firepit.

Learn to draw animals

Do you have an artistic child? They will love Stick Sketch School: Animal Safari Artventure, a book that helps children learn to draw stick figure animals in 3 easy steps. I love that this book offers creative prompts throughout and encourages kids to pretend that they are on an animal safari, documenting all that they see.

Make mud creations

Summer is the perfect time for kids to be messy because kids can keep most of the mess outdoors. Mud pies and other muddy creations are fun to make and setting up a mud pie kitchen is a great way to let children be creative.

Build your own pinball machine

Both budding scientists and game lovers will enjoy this fun book and kit. Pinball Science is a hands-on opportunity for children to build their very own pinball machine and then learn about basic science from its workings. This cool handbook is packed with engaging graphics helps young scientists come to grips with fundamental concepts like gravity, force, and acceleration.

Play a new video game

Stuck inside on a rainy day? Surprise kids with a new video game like the brand new CARS 3 game! Cars 3: Driven to Win picks up after the final race in Disney-Pixar’s Cars 3 film, bringing together players of all ages and skill levels to battle it out on the racetrack. The competition heats up with 20 customizable characters like Jackson Storm and Cruz Ramirez, along with the beloved Lightning McQueen, putting pedal to the metal on 20 tracks set in iconic locations from the film. (Cars 3: Driven to Win is available on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Wii U.)

Learn a new interesting fact every day and share it with your family

Did you know that NASA is developing a 3-D printer designed to make hot, edible pizza for astronauts to enjoy in space? Or that a flying dragon lizard can glide through the air for 30 feet? Your child can learn all sorts of interesting facts like this in the National Geographic Kids Almanac 2018. The book is packed with more than 300 pages of news, facts, features, photos, games and learning fun!

Create a nature journal

Follow these easy instructions to make a nature journal and then explore your backyard and neighborhood while your kids journal what they see around them. Nature walks are a great way to get some fresh air while kids learn about the world around them.

Build and learn with LEGOs

Kids love building with LEGO bricks but did you know there’s plenty of ways to learn with them? I’ve rounded up 30 of my favorite learning activities that cover everything from math to science to reading & writing here. Whether they make a magnet maze or a wind turbine, they will have so much fun they won’t even realize they are learning!

How are your kids keeping busy this summer?

Share and Enjoy

Afterschoolz: An Activity Finder For Chicago Area Families

Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 2.55.08 PM

Thanks to Afterschoolz for sponsoring this post.

At the beginning of this year I shared about a helpful resource called Afterschoolz, a website that helped caregivers find activities for their kids in the Chicago area. The site was pretty new at the time but had such a great variety of activities listed and new ones being added frequently. I really liked the variety of activities provided, from sports to STEM classes to unique things like anime club. There seemed to be something for everyone.

Since the site was fairly new, they were looking for feedback and asked Making Time For Mommy readers what else you’d love to see available on the site. I know many of you asked for better search functions and I’m happy to say that the folks at Afterschoolz heard your request and made updates to make the search options even better.

This is great news for those of us still looking for summer activities! Personally, I have been wanting to find a gymnastics class for Lucas because the one he goes to at our local park district was cancelled this session and he was really disappointed. When I searched Afterschoolz I was excited to see many options, including gymnastics studios nearby that I never knew existed.

Searching the site to find local activities your children would enjoy is so easy using their new search feature with adjustable filters. You can pick the kind of activities you’d like by main category (academics, arts, athletics, camps or preschool) or search by specific activity keyword like “crafts” or “hockey”. You can look at all activities in your area or narrow the activities to only show ones within 5 miles of you. You can narrow the search even more by adding in more specifics about your child like age and gender and price limits if you are on a budget.

My favorite feature though, is the date and time filter. With a busy schedule I like being able to put in the hours that we have open and be able to see classes and lessons that are during those time periods. It’s great not having to search through dozens of activities looking for ones that work for our family’s schedule because this filter does all that work for us.

So whether you are looking for a summer camp for your tween, an art class for your preschooler or a dance class for your budding ballerina, Afterschoolz is the website Chicago area parents will want to check out. In addition to the great search function, the site shows detailed descriptions along with ratings and parent feedback on activities. There is even the option to sign up for the activities right on the site making this an easy to use resource parents will refer to for years to come!

What summer activities will you be searching the site for?

Share and Enjoy

What Children Learn Through Play

PicMonkey Collage-14

Thanks to the Toy Association for sponsoring this post as part of their Genius of Play campaign.

Did you know that kids learn through play? Whether they are building with blocks, playing with dolls or running around the playground, play is an important teaching tool! Through play, kids learn how to interact with others and develop critical lifelong skills. Today I’m sharing 6 benefits of play and how they each play an important role in raising well-rounded children. I’m also sharing some fun activities for each in case you are looking for more ideas to keep the kids learning through play all spring and summer long!

PHYSICAL

Active play helps kids with coordination, balance, motor skills, and spending their natural energy (which promotes better eating and sleeping habits). While sports are a favorite way for my boys to play outdoors, they also enjoy creating obstacle courses, having water gun fights and batting balloons around trying to keep them in the air. When I was younger, my favorite active games were Sardines (like hide & seek but you hide with the people when you find them) and Capture the Flag.

EMOTIONAL

During play, kids learn to cope with emotions like fear, frustration, anger, and aggression in a situation they control. They can also practice empathy and understanding. One way that kids can work through emotions is by role playing- so things like playing house or with dolls is great for working on these emotional skills. Reading stories about emotions and talking about them and acting them out, like in this activity called Mad Face Scary Face, is helpful as well. Musical Feelings is a fun active, musical game kids can play to talk about emotions, too.

SOCIAL

Playing with others helps kids negotiate group dynamics, collaborate, compromise, deal with others’ feelings, and share – the list goes on. I’ve noticed great strides in my children’s social skills after they go to summer camps and over the years as they have been involved in a number of activities. Being around other children really does help them grow. Whether they are playing team sports, chasing after each other in a game of tag, or playing a board game, children learn social skills as they navigate game rules and learn to work together towards a common goal.

CREATIVE

By allowing imaginations to run wild during play, kids create new worlds, and form unique ideas and solutions to challenges. One of my favorite creative play activities is making mud creations. Children enjoy this messy fun and it’s a great way for them to be creative with nature. Open ended craft activities allow children to be creative as well. As a teacher, I’d often set out a variety of materials on the classroom tables and it was fun to watch what the children created out of the random materials they were given.

COGNITIVE

Children learn to think, read, remember, reason, and pay attention through play. STEM toys and activities are great for encouraging children to learn cognitive skills. Activity ideas include making marshmallow sculptures with toothpicks and marshmallows, playing 20 questions, and creating a marble run. Children don’t even realize how much they are learning because they are having so much more fun learning these skills through activities than they would have sitting in a classroom or doing worksheets!

COMMUNICATION

Play lets kids exchange thoughts, information, or messages by speech, signals, writing, or actions. There are so many fun activities that kids can do to strengthen their communication skills. I shared 25 fun writing activities here- from writing out a script for a play they can act out with friends to making a treasure map to using sidewalk chalk to create a town or race track for their toy cars. Another fun activity to do in Spring is to create a nature journal to draw pictures of what they see on their walks.

Want more activity ideas? Check out the Genius of Play website. What are your child’s favorite ways to play?

Share and Enjoy

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

20170219_131552-3

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!

Share and Enjoy

Embrace Messy Fun With Mud Creations

20160710_105636 (2)

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #Clean2TheCore #CollectiveBias

Lucas loves messy activities, whether it’s painting, playing with playdough, digging in a sensory bin or building castles in the sandbox outside. I thought making mud creations would be a fun activity for him so we gathered everything we needed for a mud/dirt kitchen and then he set out to create a mud “cake”. (If you are thinking this sounds like a super messy activity, you are right but don’t worry- I had the new all® POWERCORE™ Pacs OXI on standby so I knew I’d easily be able to get his shirt clean, bright and smelling fresh again).

Here’s what we had set out for our {non-edible} pretend mud creations:

  • dirt (*see note below)
  • water
  • colored sand
  • rocks of different sizes
  • fake flowers
  • kitchen tools (spoons, spatula, wisks, measuring cup)
  • metal baking dishes
  • cupcake liners
(*We used soil instead of dirt since that’s what we had available but you will want to use dirt if you have it. Dirt will form more of a mucky messy mud whereas soil is more of a soggy mud. Both are fun though and I don’t think the kids would mind either way.)
You can gather anything you find in your backyard or have in your art area. Other things that would be good additions to a mud kitchen include sticks, acorns, pine cones and pie tins.

I gave Lucas a chef’s hat to wear and set the “ingredients” out for him. I then let him get to work on his creation, giving him little direction.

He started out with a little soil, some rocks and some flowers. He then added water, mixing it while he went.

It was fun watching him create and I loved listening to him as he talked out loud about the steps he was doing. It was almost like we were in a real kitchen and he was the chef and I was his apprentice ;)

He made a layered creation, much like his favorite desserts, and topped it with the colored sand to imitate”frosting”.

After he was all done making his creation he loved digging through the mess to find all the rocks and flowers.

Of course he also liked squishing the mixture between his fingers!

As his hands got messier and messier, so did his outfit. Kids will be kids, right? He even used his shirt and pants as a napkin at times but I wasn’t worried about the mess at all (remember those new all® POWERCORE™ Pacs OXI I have?)

Once we had cleaned up our pretend mud creations I decided that we should end the afternoon with a creation that we COULD eat. Chocolate pudding, chocolate sandwich cookies and gummy worms combine to make “dirt cups”, one of our favorite fun treats!

I kept Lucas in the clothes he had been wearing earlier which was good because he ended up getting pudding all over himself as he made his snack and ate it.

Thankfully I had all® POWERCORE™ Pacs OXI in my laundry room because by the end of the afternoon, Luke’s shirt had dirt, colored sand and chocolate pudding on it. These new products are the first ever powder-liquid combination pacs and perfect for tough kid stains.

I put the shirt in the washer with one pac and it came out completely clean and ready for another day of messy play! (You can use two pacs for more soiled loads- just make sure to read the directions on the package and follow them exactly.)

You can find both all® POWERCORE™ Pacs OXI and all® POWERCORE™ Pacs Plus Removes Tough Odors at your local Walmart. Both products offer superior whitening & brightening along with a powerful clean. What messy fun will your kids have now that keeping their clothes clean, white and bright is easier?

Share and Enjoy

30 Fun Outdoor Activities For Kids To Do This Spring

Spring Outdoor Activities for kids

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

SPRING OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

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

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

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

What is your favorite Spring activity?

 

Share and Enjoy

15 Activities To Keep Kids Busy When They Are Sick

Untitled

Nobody likes to be sick so I wanted to share some ways to make a sick day fun for kids. All of these can be done from the couch! A big thank you to Pfizer for sponsoring today’s post and providing a product bundle as a giveaway. I’m not a doctor and this post should not be taken as medical advice. I’m just a mom sharing what works for our family :)

SICK DAY ACTIVITIES

  • Have a movie marathon
  • Eat treats like popsicles that make a sore throat feel better
  • Play some board games together
  • Cut out paper strips and make a paper chain to decorate the house
  • Let your child play with special toys from the rainy day box
  • Color in a coloring book
  • Let your child help plan your next family vacation
  • Read books from the library
  • Make playdough creations
  • Make thank you cards for members of the military (here’s where to send them)
  • Make sock puppets and put on a puppet show for the family
  • Paint nails
  • Play a game on a tablet
  • Look through photo albums together
  • Put together a puzzle

Make sure to head to Target and stock up on over the counter medicines that will make your little one feel better when they are sick! Our must-have list includes Children’s Robitussin®, Children’s Advil® and Children’s Dimetapp®.

  • Infants’ and Children’s Advil® provide unsurpassed fever and pain relief, and contain ibuprofen, the medicine pediatricians use most for their own kids’ fevers (for ages 6 months -11 years)
  • Children’s Robitussin® provides soothing action and cough control with some formulations lasting up to 8 hours (for ages 6-12 years)
  • Children’s Dimetapp® provides great-tasting cold-fighting power and is the #1 pharmacist recommended brand for children’s cough & cold symptoms (for ages 6+)

GIVEAWAY

One reader will win a Pfizer product gift bundle

HOW TO ENTER

1) Leave a comment telling me one fun thing your child does on a sick day

2) Share this post on social media

 Giveaway ends April 15, 2016 at 11:59pm CST. Must be 21 or older and a US resident to enter.

Share and Enjoy

Letter “M” Crafts & Activities

This week’s letter is “M”. Find fun kid’s crafts and activities on my Pinterest board!

 
Follow Alicia Marie Letter “M” Crafts & Activities on Pinterest

Share and Enjoy

Letter “J” Crafts & Activities

This week I am sharing crafts and activities that start with the letter “J”. Enjoy! :)

 

Share and Enjoy

Letter “I” Crafts & Activities

This week I’m sharing crafts and activities for things that begin with the letter “I”.

 

Share and Enjoy

Play-Doh’s Holiday Craft Fun

playdoh collage

(Disclosure: I received books from Play-Doh to review but thoughts are my own.)

My boys love playing with Play-Doh’s “Let’s Create” series books that we reviewed back in August so we were excited to learn about their new Holiday Craft Fun Series. Both books in this brand new series combine tactile, interactive play with learning to not only help children retain basic concepts taught at the preschool level but also to make the learning experience enlightening and entertaining by bringing in 15 inventive craft projects that tie in the spirit of Halloween and Christmas.

In PLAY-DOH: Halloween Craft Fun, Groovy Ghost invites kids to an evening of crafty creations. With the projects in this kit, children will help Groovy bring the Halloween party to life with the turn of every page and step-by-step guides to molding spooky PLAY-DOH sculpts. By the end of the book, children, from ages 3 and up, will know how to craft jack-o’-lanterns, ghosts, witches, spiders, candies, and other ghoulish goodies. Learning takes shape within the book and activities that combine reading, written and verbal directions, and hands-on projects. Complete with a book of instructions, four cans of PLAY-DOH compound, a roller, and a plastic knife, PLAY-DOH, Halloween Craft Fun is a thrilling adventure that invites youngsters to be bold and mold.

Lucas loved creating spooky figures with his daddy.It was a great way for Sinisa (who hates crafts) to do something creative and not too messy with the boys and he seemed to enjoy it as much as the kids did. I liked how the book gave step-by-step directions for those who can’t just look at a picture and copy what they see.

The other book is PLAY-DOH: Christmas Craft Fun which introduces young readers to Holiday Hound, who acts as their guide in this holiday crafting extravaganza. In no time at all, kids will be as equally enchanted by the Christmas-themed story that unfolds as they will by the snowmen, candy canes, bows, and drums that they will learn to make under Holiday Hound’s tutelage. This kit also comes with 4 cans of PLAY-DOH compound and two sculpting tools. Recommended for ages 3 and up, PLAY-DOH: Christmas Craft Fun is a great way to kick off the holiday season and it makes a great gift for school gift exchanges and a project to keep kids occupied during holiday parties and gatherings.

If you are looking for something to keep the kid’s busy as it gets colder outside these are perfect for indoor fun. They’d make great gifts, too!

Share and Enjoy

Shape Monster Craft For Kids

shape monsters

I teach Sunday School and it’s held in a preschool classroom. I couldn’t resist the cuteness of these shape monsters on the wall! How adorable are they?

Make them with your own kiddos by cutting out various shapes in different sizes along with arms and legs and let the creativity happen!

Share and Enjoy

Letter “D” Crafts & Activities

This week I’m sharing letter “D” crafts and activities. Check out my Pinterest board for lots of fun ideas!

 

Share and Enjoy

Truth In The Tinsel: Advent Experience For Little Hands {New Ornaments!}

truth

Spend December impressing God’s Word on your kids’ heart! You’ll get 24 days of Scripture reading, ornament crafts, talking points and extension activities. Plus fun printables and templates! You can read my review of last year’s Truth In The Tinsel ebook here.

This is the perfect book for kids of any age–from preschool to elementary!

Click here to order the ebook!


NEW for 2012! Get the printable Truth in the Tinsel ornaments! Use these on days you’re too busy to do a big craft, for toddlers, while you’re at Grandma’s or if you just want to save a little money on supplies!

Click here to order the ornaments!

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.)

 

Share and Enjoy