It's almost Valentine's Day and I've pulled together a valentine themed Mommy Camp for you guys! There are a ton of fun, cheap and easy to set up activities that are sure to keep your little ones entertained and maybe give you the opportunity to do a few chores or even read a book! So, grab the free printable by clicking the image below and enjoy!
As usual, we didn't get to everything in the MC but, that's the beauty of Mommy Camp! You don't have to do it all! You can see all of the fun we had by checking out our pictures below!
We started with painting and the heart stamp from tp rolls activity. They thought that was very entertaining. We quickly moved on to the symmetry heart art. Arthur decided he wanted to just paint his whole heart and ended up with a very pretty heart.
Then we moved on to the heart hand tree art and instead of cutting a bunch of paper hearts and glueing them (which I thought would take a bit and that they would lose interest quickly) we decided to make finger print flowers on our trees which they of course loved.
After painting, we made some Valentine themed headbands with stickers and paper and then headed to the kitchen for some love potion science. I ended up kind of mixing two activities together because I realized that I forgot to buy baby oil and couldn't do one of the science activities I planned. So, good ole' baking soda, vinegar and food coloring to the rescue. This activity never fails to keep them busy for at least 30 minutes and I use it often. It's great for their dexterity skills because they use a medicine dropper or syringe to suck up the vinegar and squirt it on the baking soda. I find that hiding little doo dads and a few drops of food coloring under the baking soda so they get a bubbly surprise.
After they were done with their bubbly science, we pulled out some pink and red paper cups and stacked them so we could knock them down. Again, this activity is a favorite and keeps them entertained forever. I actually took a shower and did my hair and makeup while they were happily playing with paper cups for 45 minutes. If you haven't done this with your kids you should. You can extra fun by throwing in a nerf gun or ball for the destruction element.
I hope you and your children find joy with this MC like we did! Have a happy Valentine's Day and thanks for visiting!
I am sure you know how difficult travelling with kids can be. However, I truly feel that it is worth all of the stress and hard work and science backs me up on this. According to this article, taking your kids on vacation can enhance their executive functions and overall intelligence, help support their exploratory urge and can essentially refuel your family's affection for one another!
So, now that we've discussed how it can benefit your kids, let's talk about ways to make it not be a total shit show for you! Because, let's face it, going anywhere with kids can be a nightmare.
When I begin to plan a trip the biggest thing I can recommend is RESEARCH! Go to the internet and ask it some questions. Here are a few of the ones I always check on.
-What restaurants are kid friendly, offer kid discounts or even have a play area?
-What activities should you do? How much do they cost? What are the operating hours? Are there discount days?
-What is the driving distance from your hotel to the various activities you plan on doing?
After doing some preliminary research I begin to form my plan. First, I plan the trip there. We have not taken a trip requiring a flight with ours yet (mostly due to the extreme cost that involves) so, I have to do a good amount of planning for the drive.
Kids can't sit in the car for too long without a stop for play or pee or whatever. I usually use this site to find the halfway point between my start and end locations. Once I've found it, I will try to pick a good spot for us to stop somewhere around that spot, preferably a place that gives kids the opportunity to play.
For example, we recently went on a quick weekend trip to Huntsville, AL to visit the Space and Rocket Center. We live in Jonesboro, AR so halfway was a pretty small town. I started looking at a larger area not too far off and found a great indoor play center with a Red Robin close by! Winning! So, we ate and then played for a few hours. The play place was super cute AND offered free coffee for parents. They even had a giant ball pit that ALL of us enjoyed.
They were all really worn out and slept for the majority of the remaining 3 hour drive. The key is not to be in a rush. Take your time getting to your destination. It makes the drive there PART of the vacation! Also, this is important for the return trip too. You can repeat the same activities you did the first time or mix it up but, unless you are driving through the night, you should probably plan to have a fun stop in the middle.
Once I've planned the driving, I pick the hotel. I am very picky about hotels and generally want a suite that has a separate bedroom but, I'm also cheap AF. I am a Hilton Honors member which gets me some perks and discounts so, I generally stay at one of the Hilton affiliated hotels. I really like Homewood Suites. They have a free breakfast that is yummy, the hotels are usually very updated if not new and their suites include a full kitchen. Also, they usually have a pool. You should choose what your priorities are and go from there. I like to look at reviews and customer images on Tripadvisor when deciding between hotels.
After picking the hotel I get into all the details and actually create an itinerary for each day. Now, just because I have a plan does not mean that I stick to it hell or highwater. I leave it as an option but change based on how the day goes. I will often put some alternative activities or options on my list for the day just in case things don't go as planned.
I know it sounds super OCD of me to have it all planned but, with kids, it really does make it SOOO much better. When we went on our first family trip with an itinerary my husband scoffed and thought I was crazy but, because it was so informative (time to get from hotel to restaurant, addresses, business hours and cost) it made it easier for us to make decisions about our day and unplanned events didn't throw us for a loop.
For example, when we went to St. Louis for a week last summer, the first night we were there my son began to complain of a pain in his leg. Upon inspection, we found that it was hot, hard and red. Not good. So, we dosed him with some tylenol. (You should ALWAYS bring tylenol/motrin you'd be surprised how often you need it.) Then, the first thing the next morning we took him to an urgent care clinic nearby. Because I had planned so well and we knew what our plan was supposed to be along with hours and distance, it didn't mess with our day at all. He got treated and we went about our day.
Now, how do I keep up with all of this info? If you are picturing a jumbled up mess of papers and post-its to keep up with all of this info you'd be wrong. I created a doc to edit and use with each trip. It is graphically pleasing, well-organized and FREE for you to download! Just click one of the images below to download the free file!
I hope that my tips are helpful and give you the tools you need to plan an awesome family trip! Let me know how it goes and if you have any tips for me! I'm always eager to learn something new!
Thanks for visiting!
I'm planning another bday party! This time I'm taking a bit of a break by having it at a local gymnastics place. I won't be able to use the outside since it's February and I don't think I can handle a bunch of 4-5 year olds running around my house even if I plan the heck out of the thing. So, as you can see above, I've still done quite a bit of planning as is my way. I also created a bunch of printables including id badges, food signs, goody bag labels and photo props. You can check out my Pinterest inspirations here and download the printables by clicking the party planning image above!
My plan involves no activities for kids which is a first for me! I figure they will be much more interested in the giant foam pit, trampoline and other gymnastics stuff than crafts and games. I do have plans for fun goody bags, food and custom shirts for the family.
I used my favorite digital everything maker site, Canva, to make the invite. The coolest thing is that now they print your creations AND the prices are great! So, for about $30 I ordered 50 invites with envelopes and they look perfect!
I'm excited about this party and can't wait to get it all put together! Be sure to check back to see the party photos!
As you might already know, I am a high school teacher. This week we had parent-teacher conferences on Tuesday and then had Wednesday off so, while sitting in my classroom between parent meetings I worked on a little plan for entertaining my kids and keeping my sanity during our day off together. As always, we didn't finish everything but, we did have a lot of fun that was pretty low effort on my part and extremely inexpensive too! You can print out my plan at the end of this post!
We started the morning with some indoor fun because it was a bit chilly outside. So, I set up an invitation to play with play dough by giving them some spider rings, plastic eyeballs, gems, silk flowers and orange play dough and asked them to make me a monster. You can give them any doo dads you think they might like. I hit up the halloween aisle at Wal-Mart to have a few spooky things like the rings and eyeballs.
After the play dough fun, we headed outside for a little bit of messier play. I set up a container with colored water and googly eyes and placed a few large spoons next to it for them to create an eyeball stew. I also had a pumpkin painting station, pumpkin washing station and a pumpkin hammering station. For the washing station I just filled a container with soapy water and for the hammering station I provided a few small hammers and golf tees. They all enjoyed various areas more than others and they were all entertained for almost two hours!
We also made some boo hand print art and were going to make a monster wreath but, Arthur wasn't interested and wanted to play with play dough more and Lillian didn't want to make a monster wreath. Instead, she made a "pretty" wreath using ribbon and glue. They were happy so I was happy. If we end up with some free time before Halloween I will try to do the activities we didn't have time for and I'll post about it if I do. There are several fun science ones that I couldn't do because I didn't have any vinegar! So be sure to check out the document for those!
We ended the day with a trip to chikfila and I have to say, it was a pretty great day!
Download my very basic but serviceable plan below and enjoy!
I have another great guest post from Education.com! This time they've provided a free worksheet and answer key!
Let your child float through practicing subtraction with this fun Under-the-Sea Worksheet. Find more subtraction resources from Education.com.
You can get the free worksheets by clicking each image.
I've finally finished all of the planning for my Mommy Camp Summer 2017 lessons and activities!! It took a lot of work but I know my kids and I will be excited all summer long and they'll learn a ton and create some great memories. You can download the lessons and materials for each week by clicking the images below. Each document contains everything you need including worksheets, lesson plans, dramatic play printable and set-up ideas, directions and even pictures to help guide you AND it's all for FREE!
I will be posting every week so you can follow along and see how I put it all together! I hope you decided to join us on this very exciting summer of learning!
Just click on each image to download the documents for that week!
I've become disillusioned with vinyl t-shirt creating. No matter what I do, they never look as good as I imagine they will. They take a lot of effort and don't end up costing much less than if I'd just purchased it already made. So, when I decided to create some shirts for Earth Day I went with a new method: Freezer Paper Stencils! And, let me tell you, I AM IN LOVE! Why do you ask? Well, it was cheaper, faster and way, way, way easier! Let me tell you all about it!
You will need:
- freezer paper (You cannot sub wax paper. Freezer paper is only waxed on one side unlike wax paper.)
- exacto blade and/or cutting machine (I used my silhouette machine but, technically you could get extra artsy and use a cutting tool and free hand it. I would never dedicate that time but, to each his own.)
- acrylic paint colors of your choice
- paint brush
- pre-washed t-shirt
1. Design your stencil. I used my silhouette machine and designed the shirts using it's software. You could design it on a piece of paper or in powerpoint, print it out, and then trace over your design on the wax paper to cut it out.
2. Send your design through the machine. Place the freezer paper shiny side down on your cutting mat. The settings will depend on how detailed your design is and how sharp your blade is but for me, the settings that worked best were:
I did modify for different designs by changing the thickness or speed one or two depending. But, the blade remained at 1.
3. Weed your design and make adjustments if necessary. There were a few times where it didn't cut quite right and I ended up modifying it with scissors. You couldn't even tell when it was all done so don't stress if it's not perfect.
4. Position your paper on your shirt and apply heat with the iron. This creates a seal on the shirt with the waxy side of the paper but is easily removed with no damage making it great for painting!
5. Paint with desired colors using a paint dobber brush. I really liked the weathered look that was created by using just enough paint and not applying it evenly to all letters. I think it made the shirts look more professionally created. So, imperfection is rewarded here. Don't overdo the paint and don't stress that some letters get more than others. Yay!
6. Allow to dry.
7. Remove freezer paper stencil.
I couldn't be more pleased with how my shirts turned out and after washing they look as good or even better! I'm excited to make a ton more and am so glad that I don't have to mess with the frustration or cost of vinyl anymore! I hope you're inspired by this post and if you like my shirts you can download the silhouette files below!
My son was born in October and I have only recently finished his nursery. I figured I didn't need to rush since he is still sleeping in a bassinet beside me. Plus, we waited to find out what we were having and let it be a surprise on the big day! So, I didn't want to decorate until I knew the gender. Once I began planning, I decided on a mountain theme and am really pleased with how it turned out!
To begin I turned to Pinterest for inspiration, of course, and decided the mountain theme would be perfect. Originally I planned on painting a mountain mural similar to the ones below but, my husband was not a fan of the idea and, after painting the bedroom gray along with two other bedrooms and a bathroom, I was kind of over painting.
I went on a painting spree in our new home and took both of the boys bedrooms (they share a bath jack and jill style) from a seriously bright turquoise hue to a much more subdued and versatile gray from Sherwin Williams called "Evening Shadow". It has a tendency to lean toward the blue end of the gray scale but, from my experience, works well with any colors you throw at it. I also painted my office this color. It is almost complete and I will post about it soon! In addition to painting those three rooms, I also painted the jack and jill bathrooms, taking them from flamingo pink (I know right?! All THREE of our bathrooms were painted this color when we moved in!) to a blue gray from Sherwin Williams called "Rarified Air" and my daughter's bedroom went from boring taupe to a lovely light (almost white) purple shade called "Silver Peony".
So instead, I decided to create faux wallpaper using my silhouette machine and white vinyl. I found a few mountain shaped silhouettes and paired them with various triangle shapes, sent them through my machine and then applied them randomly on the main nursery wall. It took very little time and I love the result! In fact, if you want to create your own faux wallpaper using vinyl and a silhouette machine, you can download my file! Sweet!
After applying the vinyl, I made the name sign for above the crib by purchasing the blank sign at Hobby Lobby for $20 and painting the tops to look like snow covered mountains. Then I created a stencil using letters printed out from my computer and then cut and traced on top of the wood. It was also a quick project but makes a big impact. To finish the room, I added a gray and white striped teepee from Hobby Lobby for $45 (I used the 40% off coupon) and white faux fur rug. The crib is the same one from my other two children but I added white teething covers to lighten it and to cover the destruction left behind from my first son. I hung gray room darkening curtains on a white arrow shaped curtain rod from Ikea. The rocking chair is also a hand me down from the other two kids and the pillow cover was also a clearance Hobby Lobby find for $3. The dresser is a vintage piece from my grandfather. I found an awesome LED moon light on super clearance at Target for $15 and created the national park prints by sending free original images, found online here, to Walgreens for printing and then framed them in $5 frames from Hobby Lobby where I also found the wall vinyl tree. It has the ability to hang hooks on the branches but I haven't gotten around to it yet.
I only have one remaining project to complete for the room which is a mobile. I plan on making a mountain and tree one like the ones below. I've purchased all of the materials but haven't had the time to get it made. I'll definitely post about it when it's complete. I'm also on the lookout for a cool lamp but haven't found one I like yet. I'm sure there will be a few changes and additions once Alan gets moved into his new room but for now it is a lovely place to sit and relax while rocking him.
If you're interested in checking out my inspiration board on Pinterest, you can see it here!
If you loved my DIY Easy-Change Gallery Wall I thought you might like to see what changes I've made for the Christmas season. (I changed pics and art for Thanksgiving too but didn't post about it.) I decided that a Christmas countdown would be fun and started brainstorming ways to incorporate that into my gallery wall. I decided to buy a chalkboard from Hobby Lobby for 14.99 (I used the 40% off coupon though and got it for about $9!) Then I switched the chalkboard for the framed art that I had anchoring the wall display. I sketched a tree shape out of numbers inside boxes and it was done! I also swapped photos and art for ones with a Christmas theme using some free printables I found on Pinterest and family photos from years past. I love it and still love my easy-change gallery wall. It's so fun to change it with each season!
We lucked out and in our new neighborhood there are a bunch of kids our kids ages. We are especially lucky that directly across the street lives one of my daughter's best friends! But, sometimes it can be a struggle when either mine or theirs wants to play when the parents may have other plans. So, my friend/the mom across the street mentioned having door signs so the kids know not to knock/ring the doorbell and cause a meltdown to occur because they can't play. I thought it was a great idea and quickly whipped up these adorable and useful door signs!
Their easy to make and will definitely save us some heartache!
1. Download and print the free printable.
2. Glue the two sides together.
3. Cut the sign out.
4. Laminate (if possible) to enhance durability
5. Hole punch on the white dot and tie a ribbon/string through the hole.
6. Hang on your door!
Cute and functional!
We had a fun but busy weekend filled with birthday celebration! We held Lillian's 6th birthday party at our house and I think it was a great success! Check out all of the adorableness and visit the other blog posts to see how some of the items were made and to find some free printables!
We planned for an outside party but the weather was very iffy all week long. On Friday evening the forecast predicted an 80% chance of thunderstorms at 10am, the time the party was to begin. So, we cleaned up the garage (Remember, we just moved into our new house a month ago.) which was no small task and set up tables, chairs and activity areas inside it. We set up the food table, gifts and party favor areas inside in the dining room and entryway of the house. But, by 9:00 am the next day it was clear that the weather would cooperate and we enjoyed blue skies and not too hot temperatures! So, we moved the tables and activity areas outside and set up the water sprinkler for extra watery fun.
As far as other activities, I left the photo area in the garage and we set up a water table filled with soapy blue and green bubbles and a sign stating "Sea Foam Sensory Play". I also hid a bunch of seashells under the bubbles for kids to find and collect. It was a big hit and rather entertaining to see the kids with their handfuls of shells. We also had a face painting table where kids could get mermaid scales or sharks, an arts and crafts table where they could make a paper bag mermaid or shark puppet as well as color mermaid crowns and I had several games planned. But, we only managed one because the kids were so happy with the other activities and just playing with each other.
I created labels (You can download the labels at the end of the post.) for the food but went with easy and quick to prepare items to keep my sanity. I ordered cupcakes from my favorite local bakery in strawberry, s'mores and lemon blackberry flavors with blue icing and fondant mermaid tails, shark fins, clam shells and life preservers. They turned out really cute and were delicious. The riskiest food I went with was a watermelon shark. I hacked away at a watermelon to make a shark and then stuck some googly eyes on it. I had directions but they were way too time intensive and with only 20 minutes before guests were to arrive and still unshowered, I decided to wing it. We also had shells and cheese, skewered grapes or "seaweed", pretzel sticks or "driftwood", baby carrots or "crab legs", a knock-off sonic ocean water, sunbutter and jelly sandwiches shaped like stars for "starfish" and turkey and cheese croissant crabs with googly eyes. It was all completely devoured and looked pretty adorable. For the backdrop I taped a blue tablecloth to the wall and then taped green cellophane cut into wiggly strips on top to create the illusion of seaweed. I topped it off with some clear and pale turquoise balloons and a birthday banner I made with my silhouette machine. I sprinkled the table with some golden confetti strips and seashells. The table was covered with three different colors of blue table cloth to create an ombre that I quickly cut scallops out of the base of each cloth. I did that at a very late hour the night before and wasn't too particular about making it perfect. I didn't even get on my knees but simply bent over and hoped for the best and it turned out fine so don't stress about perfect scallops. It isn't worth the worry.
For party favors, kids got a shark fin or mermaid tail handmade by moi and on their way out grabbed a bopper balloon toy. The tails and fins were big hits and I had several moms tell me that their kids refused to take them off long after the party had ended. You can see how I made them in this post.
I had a few other small decorations including seaweed and fish taped to the base of the walls inside and I made wreath for the front door using only cardboard, tissue paper and craft paper that turned out really cute and was basically $1! It was made around 11:30 the night before and I completely forgot to take pictures of the process but I can lay it out for you pretty simply.
1. Take some cardboard and cut a donut shape out of it in the size of a wreath. My circle was by no means perfect but it doesn't matter as long as it is close.
2. Make some tissue paper flowers in the colors of your choosing. You can use this tutorial from Pinterest. I went with varying colors of blue.
3. Hot glue the flowers to the cardboard donut shape.
4. I created a few embellishments using glitter card stock and my silhouette machine and simply hot glued them on top of a few of the flowers.
5. Hang and admire!
The final touch to the party was the photo area. I always like to have a photo area and I was especially proud of this one because I free-handed the shark and was really impressed with myself. To create the photo area I taped a blue table cloth to the wall and then added a few fish leftover from the seaweed/fish wall decor. Then I grabbed a big piece of cardboard and drew and painted the shark after cutting out his mouth. To create the clam shells I drew two clam shells onto two pieces of poster board and then painted them and added sharpie for the detail. Since I set it up in the garage I realized the floor was somewhat dirty and grabbed a blue rug we had in the playroom and layed it down in front. I also created a few fun signs and hung them above the photo area. (You can download my signs at the bottom of this post.)
For my final act of craftiness I made iron-on cut outs with my silhouette machine to create custom t-shirts for me and Lillian. I was going to create ones for all four of us and then I found the "jawsome" shirt for $3 on Amazon for Arthur and the cool button up shark one for Derek so I didn't make theirs. I also managed to reuse Lillians fish scale leggings from last year's Ariel halloween costume. If you're curious about how I made our awesome Ariel and Ursula costumes from last year check them out here and here!
I hope my party ideas spark some inspiration for you and that you enjoyed reading about our adventure under the sea. If you want to download the printables I created for the party you can find them below! Thanks for visiting!
Download the pdf of the signs shown above by clicking the pdf file below.
Download the pdf below to get the food labels, mermaid crowns and gift tags.
Our trip to France was full of art projects and fun! We learned about three major French artists, ate a little French fare, attempted a few ballet moves and had fun with our dramatic play bakery!
As with each week of MC Around the World, first we had to "travel" to our focus country. Last week we ended our travels in Rome, Italy so, we looked at the map and discussed how we would travel from Rome to Paris. We decided to fly and then looked at the weather in Paris to make sure we had the right clothes. Then we went through airport security and boarded our plane. Upon arrival they each handed their passports over for checking and stamping. Once we arrived we took a quick tour of the city by watching this video and then visited the main attraction, The Eiffel Tower. We learned about it by watching this video and then we did some tape resist painting art to create our own mini Eiffel Towers.
After the long flight and fun at the tower, we needed a break and stopped for a baked treat at a French café. The kids played with this forever and loved taking my order using free printables from here, here and here that I laminated. We used things we already had from the play kitchen and I pulled out the diy doctor's window that I made last summer to be transformed into the bakery storefront. To add to the fun we made some play dough using this quick recipe (and used some store bought I had on hand) and created custom play dough cupcakes complete with their own cupcake liners!
I had a hard time finding French food that I thought the kids would even attempt to try. So, I ended up making crepes for breakfast one day. We actually make them quite often so my kids are not strangers to them. Lilly enjoys peanut butter on hers and Arthur likes jelly/jam like me. The only other French item that was made was for breakfast over the weekend. My husband made Croque Madam which is kind of like a ham and cheese breakfast sandwich with a super yummy mustard based cream sauce and it was fantastic. The kids outright refused and had cinnamon toast crunch instead.
Even though they may have had limited exposure to French cuisine, they learned a lot about art! We discussed the Impressionist art movement which began in France and learned a little about a few major players including Van Gogh and Degas. To begin, we read a book about each artist for Van Gogh we read "The Starry Night" which was a made up story but gave some great info about the artist, his style and his art. For Degas we read "Chasing Degas" and I really enjoyed this one! It followed a ballerina in search of Degas throughout the city of Paris where she ran into many other famous Impressionists. We also read "Katie Meets the Impressionists" which gave more great info using a fictional tale.
In addition to reading about the artists, we also watched a few videos including more "Art with Mati and Dada" about both Degas and Van Gogh. We also watched this cute video of a 5 year old teaching how to paint like Van Gogh. Lilly was really into it and then created her own version of "The Starry Night". I was super impressed. For more Degas knowledge we watched this short video and also had a mini ballet lesson using this video to get us in the ballerina spirit before learning how to draw our own ballerinas.
In addition to the focus on learning about art, we focused a little on the French language by reading an adorable book called "Everybody Bonjours" and watching several videos that taught a few key French phrases like hello, thank you, please and numbers as well as some classic French songs like "Alouette" and "Frére Jacques".
As always, here are my horrible but fun photo shopped pics of our trip!
We had fun and are ready to visit the U.K. next week! See you soon!
We had a blast on our "trip" to Italy! We had fun with a dramatic play pizza shop, learned about opera, drew like Michelangelo and made some yummy Italian food!
Just like the previous weeks, we had to get to Italy first! This week we discussed train travel and I used a train tent that we already had as our transportation. They were both issued train tickets (you can find your own printable train tickets here), grabbed their suitcases and boarded the train! We also looked at the map and discussed how far away Barcelona, Spain and Venice, Italy are and why we decided to take the train instead of fly.
Once we "arrived" in Italy we started with a dramatic play pizza kitchen. I created a pizza oven and pizza using a cardboard box, brown craft paper, paint, a sponge, felt and an electric tea light. To make the oven I folded one side of the box in on itself and cut out the bottom. Then I wrapped it in brown paper and used a sponge and red paint to make faux bricks. For the fire element, I used a piece of the box that I cut out and drew a flame shape and painted it. Then I hot-glued it to a longer strip of cardboard and glued it to the inside on the bottom of the box. Then I placed an electric tea light behind the flame. I think the effect was really great and it only took about 15 minutes to make!
For the pizza I took various pieces and colors of felt and cut out shapes to look like different toppings, crust and sauce. I used tan cut into a circle to create the crust and red cut into a circle for the sauce. The toppings I made matched the order form that I found here for free! For the pineapple I cut yellow felt into semi triangles and added a few lines to make it look segmented. For the purple onion I cut crescent shapes out of purple felt. For pepperoni I cut smaller circles out of red and did the same for ham but used pink. I used black circles without centers for black olives, pink with red lines cut into rectangles for bacon and green squiggle circle shapes without centers for green bell pepper. For the cheese I used cream colored yarn cut into 3 inch pieces. I also made spaghetti and sauce using cream yarn for noodles and red for sauce. I grabbed a few containers and quickly drew labels for the lids to store each topping. Then collected a few plates, bowls, utensils, aprons and a chef's hat from the play kitchen, made a quick sign stating "Arthur and Lillian's Pizza Joint" out of craft paper and, Voila! Dramatic play pizza kitchen! This was a major hit! They played for hours off and on throughout the week and the best part is that now it is a permanent addition to their current play kitchen so, they'll get to continue enjoying it!
For breakfast one day I made zepoli which are kind of like donuts but actually a little more nutritious as they contain ricotta cheese. It may not seem like a big deal to you but, I actually fried something! I usually avoid it like the plague. However, I decided these sounded so yummy that I would go for it. I thought they were fantastic and actually easy but the kids weren't as enthusiastic. I think they're crazy. Lillian ate one and Arthur just licked the powdered sugar off before declaring they were "ucky". Ugh! Seriously?! Kids! Whatever, more for me! (I actually had a playdate with a friend and let her try them. She thought they were awesome too. So, I'm not crazy, just my kids.) You can find the recipe in the MC recipe book here.
To finish out the day we discussed the city of Venice by watching a this video, making a gondola craft using this free printable and reading the book "Olivia Goes to Venice" and "This is Venice". Both were big hits and were read multiple times throughout the week.
After learning about Venice, we discussed the city of Pisa and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. We watched this video and then we made a craft version for ourselves using an empty toilet paper roll, white paint, paper, black marker and green crayon. Surprisingly, they really enjoyed this simple craft and were very proud of their creations. To make them lean, I cut an small portion from the bottom of the roll at an angle and taped it to the paper.
For lunch we made our own pizza. It was pretty simple using pre-made pillsbury pizza crust, a jar of pizza sauce, fresh and shredded mozzarella, pepperoni and I added basil from our garden and black olives to my portion. Yum!
Our next focus was on opera since it's a pretty big deal in Italy. We watched quite a few videos on youtube to get a good idea of what it is including the following: "What is Opera", "Sesame Street: People in Your Neighborhood Opera Singer", "Sesame Street: Marilyn Sings C is for Cookie"and "Zoom: A Soup Opera" Once we had a good idea of what opera was, we watched "Mozart's Magic Flute: An animated plot summary" to learn about a popular opera story line and then watched these segments from a performance of that opera: "Metropolitan Opera: The Magic Flute" and "Erika Miklosa: Queen of the Night". I actually thought I had really worn out the opera thing and that they were both totally over it but, Lilly said she would like to watch a whole opera in real life and at various points throughout the day I caught her singing about her actions in an operatic style. Including a point when she sang, "Arthur has a poopy!" in a very dramatic, Queen of the Night manner. It was pretty hilarious and let me know that she got something out of the whole lesson.
After learning about opera we discussed Michelangelo and watched this video about him. Then we practiced creating art like he did when he painted the Sistine Chapel after looking at pictures of the ceiling located there. I taped paper to the underside of our piano bench and gave them a bucket of crayons. At first they weren't really into it but in the end they each created multiple masterpieces and spent about 30 minutes or more drawing. I call that a win!
We finished the week by creating laurel crowns using paper plates, glue and green construction paper. I prepped the plates by cutting the center out and cut out leaf shapes from the green paper. We discussed how in ancient Italy, they were often given to scholars upon completion of schooling and, since we finished learning about Italy they got to wear them! I was super impressed with Arthur and his focus on this craft. He spent at least 30 minutes and actually completed the crown. He did insist on looking fabulous with Lillian's sun hat while working which made it even more adorable. It even looked pretty ok for a two year old! I was, however, unable to capture a good photo as the apple sauce was more important at the time. Lilly was into though.
We wrapped up the week by making ravioli from scratch. I purchased this handy ravioli press, we made the dough and mixed up the filling and boom! Ravioli! We made a bacon, basil, cream sauce to go with them and boy was it delicious! You can get the recipe from the MC Recipe book here. I also made the Roman Apple Cake recipe found in the book. It was ok, but not my favorite. It may fave been because I ran out of flour and had to use coconut flour instead.
Finally, here are my horrible photo shopped pics from our "trip" to Italy. So silly!
It was a fun week and I'm ready for our next country, France! See you soon!
We started our MC journey this summer by flying south to Brazil! You can see how I made all of the airplane dramatic play items in this post. Before our "trip" we learned about airplanes and read the book "The Noisy Airplane Ride". They showed me their plane tickets (I discuss how I made them here.) , went through airport security with their luggage (described here) and piloted the plane with this handy control panel. We even had an airplane themed treat! The flight there was fun but it was just beginning!
In preparation I created all of the dramatic play airplane stuff and you can read about it here. We also decorated our "suitcases". I had lots of different ideas for how we would create the suitcases but ended up buying two unpainted wooden boxes with hardware already attached from Hobby Lobby for about $6 each. I let Lillian choose her colors and we purchased fun, travel themed stickers for decorating. Then we painted them, let them dry and applied the stickers. I didn't realize how much of a hit these little boxes would be but, each kid carries them around all day. Arthur even wanted to sleep with his!
Once we landed, I stamped their passports (You can find the document for your own passport and stamps here.) and we discussed the journey by looking at a map. Then, we explored our new surroundings. I hung green streamers from the light fixture, added a plant, tropical themed stuffed animals and some green pillows on the floor, and hung a raffia door curtain with green streamers in the doorway. Then I placed safari hats, the books for the week about Brazil and binoculars on the table along with some fake Brazilian Reales, and the items from the Raiforest Toob. I also placed lizards around the room and placed Lilly's bug jar and plastic bugs on the table.
It was a pretty fun day and a great way to kick off our 2nd Annual Summer Mommy Camp. As always there were several things we didn't get to but, I'm sure I can work them in on a different day in the future. You can see my lesson plan including all of the things I didn't get to here. Have fun and thanks for visiting!
I'm sorry it's been awhile since my last post! I've been busily finishing up the school year with my Spanish classes and feverishly working on my Mommy Camp plans for this summer. I think I'm finally finished with all of my MC planning, printing, purchasing and laminating and am ready to share my super detailed plan with the world!
The plan is to "visit" ten different countries, dedicating one week to each. We will be learning about Brazil, Spain, Italy, France, The U.K., Russia, China, India, South Africa and Australia. Each week will include crafts, music, art and food from each country and we will "fly" or travel by "train" to each one using our imaginations, a few printables and some cleverly created crafts.
travel dramatic play
To begin, both of my kids will be given their own "passports" and tickets for the trip. I created the passports and you can download your own version by clicking the links beneath the photo above. I used this free site to generate the plane tickets. I created one ticket for each child that goes to each country we will visit and we will have fun with dramatic play and "boarding" the plane each week.
I plan on creating a baggage check area with an "x-ray" machine similar to this one, an airplane prop using foam board and my drawing skills and diy cardboard suitcases which I haven't quite figured out yet. I'll link to that once I've actually made those items.
So, the first day of each week will be dedicated to "flying" to the country, learning a bit of basic info, discussing geography and even focusing on airplanes and trains. There is at least one week where we will be "traveling" by train. For example, Paris to London on the chunnel. These weeks they will be given a train ticket and we will pretend to ride a train instead of the plane. They will also get a "passport stamp" each week (you can find my passport stamps in the passport file above).
While we are "in" The U.K. we will also "ride" a double-decker bus and they will be given a bus ticket. You can get your own by clicking on the above images!
I also created this nifty travel journal for my daughter to fill out (with my help) after we "visit" each country. It will give her a little more focus on reading and writing to keep her fresh and ready for Kindergarten this fall. Plus, it will create a really fantastic keep-sake of our adventures this summer. You can download your own Mommy Camp travel journal by clicking on the first image above!
Now that we've covered all of the fun introductory stuff for MC, let's get to the meat and potatoes of this whole crazy thing! The lesson plans! I've created a lesson page for each week that looks similar to the one above. Each page has links to the project, video or content that I plan on using. When I created my MC folder, I simply went through and clicked on each link (unless it was a video link) to make sure I had printed out any templates or directions that I might need to complete each project. All of the links are also pinned to my MC pinterest board for easy reference this summer. You can download my lesson plans by clicking the photo above!
You may notice the "food" column and all of the links to recipes for each country. I'm determined to get my picky kids to broaden their horizons this summer. Plain spaghetti noodles and pb&j are not going to be the only things that they eat! So, I've decided that we will learn about the food of each country and give it a try. I selected the least offensive items I could find to make it as kid-friendly as possible and, to make it easier for myself I went ahead and compiled all of the recipe links into a cookbook file! So, instead of having to go to the web every time I'm ready to get cookin', I can simply pull out my handy dandy cookbook arranged with each country in order! So much better! You can get your own copy of my cookbook and the cover art by clicking the photos above! Pretty awesome right?! You know...that's how I do.
Finally, after all of that planning and the massive amount of things I am planning on achieving, I decided to make a materials list for each week, a grocery shopping list for each week to cover all of the recipes and a photo reference sheet to remind me what the craft projects should look like. (This way I don't have to run to pinterest each time I read the craft project for the day but can't remember what it's supposed to be.) You can also download those files by clicking the pictures above!
You'll notice in the weekly materials list that I plan on creating a dramatic play area/scene for each country. They vary and some will include restaurant style dramatic play. I couldn't find any freebies that I liked for some of the restaurants so I created my own! You can download your own Indian restaurant and Chinese restaurant menus by clicking the photos above! The other dramatic play printables I used are linked in the lesson plan document and the things I plan on creating i.e. felt food, are also linked in the document.
So, there you have it! My summer Mommy Camp plans in full! I will be posting weekly about our amazing adventures and how I manage to do everything so stay tuned all summer and enjoy!
Rachel is a mother of three, high school Spanish teacher and part-time blogger who loves crafting, creating fun and engaging activities for her children and students and hanging with her friends and family. She blogs about what she's doing and her interests at any given time which vary. She's a little OCD and always looking for her next project. Her husband calls it, "focusing her crazy", but she just calls it fun.