Monday, June 24, 2019

How my Unplugged Summer is Going so Far


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If you've read my previous posts on wanting an unplugged summer, you may be curious as to if it is really possible to achieve. I'm here to tell you that I'm not perfect *gasp* and to tell you exactly how my summer has been shaping up. Because my husband got off work for the summer the second week of June, I feel like our summer really started then.

Our summer started with a road trip to the beach! I packed my 4 year old many of the things I mentioned here in this unplugged road trip ideas: search and finds, activity coloring books, coloring pack from the Dollar Tree, his little container of toys and more! My sister printed off some Texas coloring sheets, since we were traveling to Chrystal Beach (near Galveston). He traveled well, and with activities and a nice long nap he made it with little fuss. It was during this road trip that I realized that Baby Girl is getting to the age of wanting to be entertained as well...she also doesn't like being in the car seat that long. It's hard to believe that time is rushing by so quickly with her. She is SO close to crawling  *bawling in the corner*.

We rented a house for the week from Home Away. I love using their site, as you can get a house for a price point comparable to a hotel, that can fit more people (we had 11 people all together!), and there is space for you to cook, play games, etc. Our house was perfectly situated, a couple of blocks from the beach, where I could see the ocean as I sipped on my morning cup of coffee. Why am I mentioning this house as a part of our unplugged summer? For our family, we are much more likely to leave the tv off, if we have more space for activities. Little Man could have space to play with his toys, and there was a constant game of Tenzy or UNO flip going on at the dining room table.

To be completely real with you, I will tell you that the TV did come on a few times during the trip. It was on the MeTV station where we watched Andy Griffith, similar to what we do at home. Outside of that it was rarely turned on, and even then not more than a few minutes. For the great majority of the time we were enjoying the sites and sounds of the beach. Isn't that how it should be, though? Why waste your time on vacation starting down at a device, or watching television, when you could be doing what you came to do? Relax and enjoy your vacation!

Well Hope, you may say, being unplugged at the ocean is nice and all, but how do you do it when you aren't on vacation? It is harder, I'm not going to lie. Mostly because my son was in the habit of watching a cartoon in the morning, once around noon, and then watching in the evening. With our Schedule we have printed on the fridge, we have just been turning the TV on when it's Andy Griffith time (this is a family favorite).  At first my son was pretty upset not to watch his shows, but by the second day he came and asked...not to watch a show, but to ask if it was family game time yet!



Our day is spent playing outside in the kiddie pool, coming in to do chores, sitting down to eat lunch together, and then enjoying some quiet time (well, my husband and I enjoy the quiet time-AKA my second cup of coffee-my son not so much, ha! He has enjoyed the quiet time basket, though, and looks forward to doing an activity from there each day). The end of the day is when we have family game time. Our favorite game to play together has been a game called GoNuts. It's one we can all enjoy.

There have been moments when the TV has been turned on, or my son and hubby have played a video game together. However, the time spent with the TV has been far, far less than usual, and I am loving it! I'm praying we continue this even into the next school year. More play, less TV!

Monday, June 17, 2019

9 Days of Summer Activities

Thank you for joining me for the Summer Activity Challenge that I've been doing over the past couple of weeks-it's been fun! My hubby is out for the summer (teacher) and vacation has been enjoyed, now time to apply a lot of these ideas I've been sharing with you!

If you missed out on a few days, don't fear! Here are the links to ideas that we've done, or want to do to give you a fun filled, device free summer.





Day 1: Fun Food

Click here to find different ways to create fun or silly food together as a family!


Day 2: Library Reading Program

Click here to find out how you can use your library to have some summer fun!


Day 3: Free Bowling

Click here to find how your kids can bowl for free!


Day 4: Water Table Activities

Click here to find several activities you can use with a water table!

Day 5: Car Wash Station

Find out here what my son's favorite activity is with his Little Tykes car!

Day 6: Around Town

Click here to find out different ways you can vacation in your own town!

Day 7: Summer Unit Studies

Click here to learn about unit studies you can do during the summer!

Day 8: Hot Afternoon and Rainy Day activities

Stuck inside? Click here to see 3 activities you can do when it's too hot to play outdoors!


Day 9: Activity Free Day

With all the activities we do during the summer, it's nice to have a relaxing, no stress day. Click here to find out more. 

Today is day 10! Hope you enjoyed these ideas. Let me know what you enjoy doing during the summer!


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Summer Activities Day 9: Activity Free Day

So my next suggestion is no activities? What kind of post idea is that?!

Do you remember in my first post in this series I talked about what I remembered most about my childhood summer? As much as all the previous suggestions are fun, and I highly encourage you to do some of those ideas, however, my wonderful childhood summers included non of those! (except for library reading program...that was an amazing part of my childhood!) Can we take a day, or a week and do absolutely nothing?

A no activities day might include making forts in the living room, homemade ice cream in the kitchen, or your children sitting around you as you read a Little House book. Craft supplies might be gathered with no plan or purpose of looking like anything you've seen on the internet...or maybe even this planet! Sidewalk chalk and bubbles might be taken outside, or perhaps simply splashing in a small blow up pool. After a hot afternoon, a cold slice of watermelon might be the most wonderful cap to an amazing day.

Here is how to have a no-plan day work for you:

  • Take away the devices

    Kids will always lean towards devices if given the choice. If it's not an option, then they will just do something else.
  • A routine that allows for time outside

    Going outside seems harder for us here in the south, during the summertime. It's hot, sticky, and there are bugs the size of Texas(okay, exaggerating here a little, but have you seen mosquitoes in the south? They seem to get bigger every year!). However, a little heat and stickiness never hurt anyone (bugs do, so where bug spray!). Just make sure your kids have plenty of water to drink. I like for us to do our playing in the morning, or evening when it's not so, because hot-afternoons are just too hot for this momma!
  • Craft supplies at easy reach

    When I make crayons, paper and markers easy to get to, my son will simply draw on paper for long lengths of time. He loves drawing robots, trying out letters that he knows how to draw, and making cards for us. I am a little shy of a mess, so I want the paints and such to be something we pull out together on occasion, but simply being allowed to draw often helps shy away boredom
  • Allow your children to do chores

    Your children may not appreciate this suggestion, but summer makes great training time for different chores you are trying to teach. My son is 4, almost 5 and right now his chore is to simply make his bed and straighten his room. However, I'm wanting him to start wiping down his bathroom each day, and maybe dust the living room, once school starts. Right now on our routine chart, he is starting to help clean the bathroom. This is a great time for us to get some one-on-one training to make sure he can master the chore, before I assign it to him this fall. 

Enjoy a day at home with no plans! What is your favorite recipe for a no stress day?

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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Summer Activities Day 8: Hot Afternoon and Rainy Day Activities

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I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest. I see all these beautiful crafts, sentimental handprint or foot print art that turn out absolutely perfect. When I go to try these 'easy' activities, it normally ends up in toddler tears, paint everywhere, and a craft project that looks nothing like the picture.

So here I am, to help you out with some art, crafts, and projects that look like the picture, or at least result in less tears for both mommy and child. These are great during the hot summer afternoons, where maybe it's hard to do anything outside.




Dinosaur Hatching

When we studied dinosaurs last year, we made these dino 'eggs'. It was a mixture of baking soda and water, and once they froze, you used vinegar to 'hatch' them. It takes a little while for it to completely dissolve, but my son really enjoyed this! I was watching my cousin at the time, who is a young teenager, and he even seemed to enjoy this!









Crayon Resist Painting

Another favorite around here is simply drawing on watercolor paper with a white crayon, any design you like. You then let your little one use watercolors to see the design 'magically' appear as they paint! They are more likely to stay at the project longer, so that they make sure the entire design appears. We've done this using letters, like here, and other designs.













Nature Art

For this project, you'll need to take a nature walk in the early part of the morning. Search for twigs, wildflowers, seeds, leaves, whatever strikes your child's fancy. Once inside, gather craft supplies and let your child create 'art'. I've let my son make flowers out of seeds, paint over leaves and then remove them to show the outline. You can also pound flowers to leave the imprint behind, or you can simply let your child glue the objects on whichever way they want. No perfect end goal here, just letting your child have fun!








I'm sure there are many more I could add, but this is a great place to start! Hope this helps on your next hot or rainy day!




Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Summer Activities Day 7: Summer Unit Studies

This next idea is something that we haven't done quite yet, but I'm very interested to do in the future! If you follow me here on my blog or social media, you'll know how much I love The Peaceful Press. We are about to start our second year of their curriculum and as much as I'm enjoying the freedom of summer, I am so excited to begin our upcoming school year. Something I had thought about doing, in between school years, is this ocean study by The Peaceful Press.

In this unit study, they follow the normal pattern of book reading, Bible study, phonics, fine motor, large motor, and so on. If you are going to the beach you can do the beach unit study, or if you would like to study the mountains, they have one on that as well. Other extra unit studies include a tree study, and even a Christmas study! These mini units are only $12 for the pdf and lasts 4 weeks. Because of my husband's schedule, this doesn't exactly work for us, but I've only heard amazing things about these mini studies.

I do believe there should be some sort of break between 'school', but you should never stop learning! This is perfect for those who want relaxed learning for in between school years, or those who are doing year round that need a break in the 'normal' study.


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Summer Activities Day 6: Around the Town

Every once in a while, when we get a free day, our family goes on one of my favorite family 'dates'. We have a couple of favorite flea markets that we enjoy browsing. I don't always buy anything, but if I do it's normally a good book! Afterwards we go across the street and get a burger or wings at a local restaurant, and if there is any room at all, we head over to a little gelato, sweets and coffee shop. It's a great place for us, because they have the gelato for my son, and coffee for me and my hubby!

You know your town, and their own local places. It's always nice to support local businesses and making it a full outing doesn't really have to cost you a ton. Here are some things you can look for in your own town:

Flea Markets

Farmers Market

Art and Crafts Market (okay, so there are a lot of markets on this list!)

Town History Museums

Children's museum 

Some of the Farmers Market and Art and Crafts will happen on certain days of the week/month, so be sure you check with your local newspaper or news site to know when things are happening in your town.



 

Monday, June 10, 2019

Summer Activities Day 5: Car Wash Station

Last summer, my son announced to us that when he grew up he wanted to be a car wash man. He was mesmerized by the automated process of the car wash, and saw that there were people who got to help work there. He decided that would be the job of his dreams. To prepare, he would constantly ask to wash his Little Tykes car and his little wagon. We would have a bucket with soapy water, a sponge, and some towels. Then let him have fun with the water hose as he washed it all off. He would play this for almost an hour, and it was one of those great things that was providing him some life skills and helping motor skill development at the same time!

This little activity takes little time to prepare, and although I think this is more geared towards little ones, it can be enjoyed by everyone. Perhaps you can get your 'big' kids to help you with the real deal. I'm just not sure if they'll think it's as much 'fun' as your little ones will!

I've seen these really elaborate ideas on Pinterest using pvc pipes, pool noodles, etc., but honestly, just a bucket and soap is all you need for this fun activity. Sometimes the best ideas are the most simple. You don't have to have a 'Pinterest-worthy' activity to have a fun time.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Summer Activities Day 4: Water Table Activities

The next couple of days I am focusing on just the little ones, and today is all about water table activities. We have a small, simple water table, that my 4 year old really loves. It can be played with as is on a hot day, or you can use some of these activities to change things up a little!


Water Beads

Water beads is a go to sensory play activity for my son, who hates getting his hands dirty (he is actually getting better with this, as long as there is a way for him to wash his hands nearby!). I don't do water beads often, as they take 6 hours to expand-which means I have to have it planned out when we play with them. However, my son will play with these for a long time. I add measuring spoons, cups, scoops, etc. to this sensory fun!

Soapy bubbles


Something else we've tried is adding dawn dish soap and allowing the bubbles to foam up. Here is a fun ocean play activity idea from Pinterest. I will warn you though, if you add food color, it will stain their hands for a while! I do like to add seashells to things like this and the water beads. I've also added alphabet magnets for my son to search for and find-fun and educational!

Muddy puddles 

Muddy puddles can be made from dirt and water, or cornstarch, cocoa, and water to form ooblek. I like to add construction vehicles to this kind of sensory play, and when they're finished, you can create a washing station to wash them off!

What are some other ways you can use a water table?

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Summer Activities Day 3: Free Bowling

Bowling is a fun summer (or anytime) activity with the whole family! Kids Bowl Free allows a kid, aged 2-15, 2 free games per day. You only have to buy shoes, plus games for the adults playing. We normally go a couple of times per month, but even if you only go once, it's a savings to sign up!




For your little tykes, I am so glad bowling alleys have these dino friends to give the ball enough momentum that you aren't having to call the bowling alley employees every few minutes to go fetch the ball 🤣 Or is that just us? 

Personally, I have never been that great at bowling...and when I say not great, I really mean terrible! Having kids has helped a lot, seeing how we have to have the little gutter bars up now. My husband, on the other hand, does pretty decent. He even has his own balls and shoes! 

Ready to sign up? Click here to go to their site and sign your child up today! Dates are good until August 18, for my location, I'm not sure how other locations are done.  

Friday, June 7, 2019

Summer Activities Day 2: Library Summer Reading Program

As a homeschooler, the library was always one of my favorite places to be. I remember while my mom stayed with my younger siblings in the children's section, I would peruse the Non-Fiction isles looking at books on historic figures and events and then go to the Fiction isle and check out the next book in the series I was reading. I have such wonderful memories at the library! Now it's such a blessing to see my son get excited to hear that it's library day.

Most libraries have a summer reading program. You receive a chart that you color in for every hour of reading and return it for prizes. This was created to help encourage kids to read, but if you are like my family, we read all the time! A reading program is basically getting coupons for something we already do :)  

Not only does the library normally offer some sort of summer program, but they normally offer classes as well. My siblings and I have gone for things like crochet, arts and crafts, music, history, etc. Check your library's schedule to find out more. They also host library books sales, where I've gotten many of the classics for very cheap. 

If you are signed up for a reading program, here are some of my favorite series books to read aloud as a family:

Little House on the Prairie

These books are called classics for a reason. Pa, Ma, Mary, Laura,  Carrie and Grace all felt like family to me as we read the series. I felt like I was within the four walls of the shanty, and could relate to Laura's sense of adventure whenever they moved. We are using the Playful Pioneers this year and I am looking forward to introducing him to these books. Get to know this pioneer family and learn what it was like to live during this time! 

Little Britches

A lot of people aren't as familiar with these books as the Little House books. With this book series you get to see a little boy in the early 1900s grow up to be a man. Just like in the Little House books, there are so many life lessons to be learned as you read about this real life little cowboy (just like in the Little House books, the books are about the author-writing about his life as an adult).  I will warn you, that there is some mild language in these. My mom would just skip over some of the words as she read these aloud to us. 

Chronicles of Narnia 

As a preteen/early teenager this was my favorite series of all time. I remember getting The Magicians Nephew  when I was 12 and having the world of Narnia come alive. This series introduced me to the world of magic and dragons, dwarves and a not-very-tame-lion named Aslan. Watch your child become wide eyed with wonder as they discover these lands for the first time. This was my gateway to other magical lands as I am a huge Tolkien fan as well!

Anne of Green Gables

Allow your imagination to grow as you discover a kindred spirit in Anne -with an e. Learn about this orphan who found a home in a strange place, and won the hearts of all who met her. She's smart, spunky, and a little vain, and she learns many life lessons as she grows up in Prince Edward Island. Young and old alike will love this series!


Thursday, June 6, 2019

Summer Activities Day 1: Fun Food





I thought I would start this 10 day blogging challenge with something near and dear to my heart: food! ha! Nothing quite tries my patience and yet helps me bond quite like cooking with my child. As a part of school, over the past couple of years, we've made walrus waffles, caterpillar pancakes, and snowman pizza. The level of 'help' has increased over the years, and now he will come into the kitchen when I'm cooking supper and asked to do something for me.





Summer time can also be a time for fun foods. Here are some of my favorites that we've done, and you can easily do too with your kids!


Owl Toast

This idea came from here. Whole wheat English muffins are a staple during the summer around here. They make great breakfast sandwiches and mini pizzas (hey! that's also a great fun food!). I saw this idea and we added peanut butter strawberries, bananas and blueberries. My son loved it, and ate lots of fruit at the same time. Score!



Banana Yogurt Split

I've seen this idea several places on Pinterest. Using the same berries that I purchased for the owl toast, I quickly put together this fun take on a dessert favorite. Yogurt, bananas, berries, granola...delicious!

Dirt Cups

I don't know a child alive who doesn't enjoy a good dirt cup. I used to love these as a kid, however, now I question gummy worms with chocolate. Why, just why?! Did you know they sell these in a kit at the grocery store? This makes it much easier for your child to be able to help, and it makes several, so you could make it with siblings, or friends!

Pizza

Pizza has always been an our go to for the whole family getting in on making something. The one pictured above, I used the Pioneer Woman's dough recipe, homemade tomato sauce (which you can see the recipe for in this very, very old post of mine), fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, mushrooms and basil. Other times we've gotten frozen dough from Walmart, tomato sauce from a jar, and simply added pepperoni and cheese. Sometimes we've made funny faces, other times we've kept it simple. No matter your cooking level, or child involvement in the process, this is a fun one to do together!


What is your go to 'fun food' that your whole family enjoys? Let me know in the comments below! Want to make sure you don't miss out on a summer activity post? Be sure to follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. See you tomorrow!


Wednesday, June 5, 2019

10 Day Blogging Challenge

Now that my husband is out for the summer, I *should* have a bit more time for blogging. A fellow Timberdoodle blogger, shared a 10 day blogging challenge, and I've decided to do one too! So for the next 10 days I'll be sharing 10 ways we are having an unplugged summer. It might be an outside play idea, craft, toy, recipe, etc.

Would you join me each day for this challenge? There are several ways to follow me, to make sure you see each day's content. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and finally you can follow me here on blogger. Thank you for reading!

Now for a picture of my sweet babies playing together. Here Little Man is playing dress up. The army coat is supposed to be a doctor coat (I guess I know what I can get him for his birthday now!) and he is giving baby sister a shot. Something you see when you watch TV less, or aren't on a device, you will notice your kids playing together more! I know it was true for me and my siblings as well.


Monday, June 3, 2019

10 Activity Ideas to Have a Device Free Road Trip!

Ah, summer vacation! Pristine beaches, breathtaking mountains, hiking, swimming, whatever your end destination, there is first the road trip. I've always loved the journey to the destination, and then I had kids! 'Are we there yet?' 'I'm done playing with this toy' *sobbing* 'Mom I spilled all of my ________ on the carseat!!'
Over the past 5 years of being a mom, I've discovered a few ways of keeping my son entertained on the journey. A few of these suggestions are actually my sister's ideas, but I wanted to share them with you, today! If you're like me, and having an unplugged summer, you want the portable DVD player as a last resort. Hopefully these ideas will help you as you prepare for summer vacation! Here are 10 screen free ways to entertain your kids on the road:

Search and Find Books

Is my kid the only one who will look at a search and find book for a half hour or more? Since he was little he enjoyed books like this one Nickelodeon Paw Patrol - Look and Find - PI Kids and even some of the more advance ones. We probably have 5 or so search and find books and they are road trip essentials for us!


Felt Books

My sister made this one for my son. It has sandwhich making, buttoning flower petals, color popcicle stick sorting, and more! She found ideas on pinterest and DIY-ed it herself. If you are like me, and lazy don't have a lot of time, here is something you could buy already made:Melissa & Doug Soft Activity Book – Little Chef (Developmental Toys, Interactive Cloth Lift-the-Flap Baby Book, Machine Washable) It's a bit young now for my son, but the 2-4 age range would be perfect!

On the Go Color packs from the Dollar Tree

Dollar Tree normally has popular characters on these road trip ready packs! I normally pick up one or two every time I go to the store, as I don't go to the Dollar Tree often, and you never know when they will be out of stock of something. Speaking of Dollar Tree, here are a couple more things you can get from there to entertain your child.

Unwrapping through the States

Another sister idea, but when they went on a trip to Vermont, my sister fixed up a small gift for my younger siblings to unwrap for every state. It was normally something from the dollar tree. Perhaps a felt coloring page,  national geographic book to look at, adult coloring book (yes, they have all these at the Dollar tree!). When we traveled a couple of states away, we used a 'every hour' kind of a deal. We will do the same thing this year, since we are traveling several hours, but not leaving our state! For Little Man's age, little toys, craft packs, sticker scenes, and whiteboards are great things to unwrap!

State Printable

Another thing my sister would do once they reached a new state, is have a printout like this one. She would actually have my siblings do the printable before they opened up the gift. This provides entertainment, and education-win, win!

Water Wow

I've talked about these before, but they are great for church, trips, and basically anytime! Something I have noticed about these, though, is that the 'brushes' do wear out eventually and don't 'paint' as well as they used to. We have had them for over 2 years now, so I still think that it's worth the money. They are pretty inexpensive and come in all sorts of different themes. If your child is like mine, and eventually learns how to unscrew the brush, it's only a tiny amount of water that's spilled! I think I may get a new Water Wow for our trip this summer, since ours are getting a bit old. Here are some great ones to choose from! Melissa & Doug On the Go Water Wow! Under the Sea Reusable Water-Reveal Activity Pad, Chunky-Size Water Pen Melissa & Doug Water Coloring & Painting Book, (Water Wow Animal - On the Go Travel Activity)

Coloring Books

This may seem like a 'duh' one, but I am adding it so I can say that I recommend one that also has activities in it. Even though my son can't unscramble words yet, or do all the activities, he enjoys doing his own thing on those pages. It just adds some extra time to the activity, making it almost like a 2-in-1! Here is my son's favorite one (which I can sometimes find at the Dollar tree!) Paw Patrol Coloring Books - 2 Pack

Sticker Activities

You can normally find sticker scenes, or pads at the Dollar Tree, but I find that those can sometimes have stickers that are hard to get off. I am linking a Melissa and Doug activity pad, since they normally have higher quality products.Melissa & Doug Safari Puffy Sticker Play Set (Activity Pads, Reusable Puffy Sticker Play Set, Double-Sided Background, 42 Stickers)

Toys in a plastic container

This sounds very random, but my son has a small screwable container where he has a couple of hot-wheel cars, a couple of tiny figures (superhero, pawpatrol, etc.) and some plastic bugs...yep, bugs. He LOVES this thing. I used to keep categorized toys in a Ziploc and would give him one category at a time, but he will play with this little container for much, much longer! I have no idea why, but I thought I would share. I don't know if it's because he got to decorate it with his name and stickers, or that it is small enough to fit in his cup holder. I just don't know.


Magnet Tins

One like this-T.S. Shure Farm Magnetic Tin Playset is a great little person thing to play with. I will warn you though, you will not come home with the same number of pieces you started with! They seem to get everywhere! However, my son really enjoyed playing with this, and it can serve dual purpose, as it's a great quiet time or church activity as well.


Did I miss anything? What are some things you've found work well on road trips with kids?

Did you know I'm on Pinterest now? Go follow me there, where you can pin this and other ideas!

Budget Stocking Stuffer Ideas

Note: Amazon links are affiliated After sharing non-toy gift ideas, and the few things I am getting my kids for Christma s, you may ...