First let me say.....I can't believe my baby is done with Kindergarten tomorrow!! My other baby is done with second grade on Thursday and moving on up to third.......where does the time go?? I always like to give my son's teachers something at the end of the year just to say thank you for all their hard work throughout the year.
This year my kids' teacher were awesome, especially my youngest son's Kindergarten teacher. Trace went into a special extended day program because at the beginning of the year he was not recognizing his letters or numbers. After taking him for his Kindergarten eye exam we found out he was blind as a bat and could not see anything close up! This was part of his problem but we knew he would still need some catching up. I am happy to say he is reading and writing and knows all his letters, numbers, sight words and more. 360 turn around!!
I think this is becoming my signature gift to the teachers at the end of the year as I keep giving it but they are just so stinking cute!!
Tonight I surprised the boys with a
Christmas box of fun.
I found the tickets HERE but they said the minivan express. Well I don't own a minivan so I opened them up in Photoshop, made a few custom edits to personalize them, and printed them out. I then ran them through my laminator so we can use them year after year.
After whipping up a few hot chocolate K-cups ( love these!), some marshmallows, bag of popcorn, a few cookies, and an envelope for the tickets, I put them into a Christmas box. The boys were so excited when they opened the box!! We have a house, not to far from us, that has you tune to a radio station in your car to watch the lights dance to the music. The Kotwica Express was a big hit and I can't wait to do it again!
Well my "summer blogging break" is officially over tomorrow when my oldest returns to school as a second grader. Where did the summer go?? I feel like the summer went so fast! Our summer here in Chicago started out cool and rainy but we still did a ton of things on our bucket list.
With the start of the school year I knew I need to get our homework area organized - it was a mess! Last year I watched my neighbors twins three days in the week. The twins and my older son were in the same class so doing homework together was easy peasy! This year I will be watching the twins again buy they have one teacher and my son has another, so homework might be a bit more challenging, but I will figure out a way to "getter done!" Also, add to it, my youngest son will be in Kindergarten with homework as well. So I knew I needed to get our homework area cleaned up and ready to go for the first day.
My youngest son is in Kindergarten all day. He qualified for a program where he will be in a regular Kindergarten class in the morning, and then stay with 12 of his friends to continue working on literacy. He is not recognizing all of his letters. My first thought as a mother is complete failure for not working with him more. Come to find out he is blind as a bat and cannot see near. They believe this is a huge factor but still put him in the program to make sure he is up to speed when entering first grade. I dug through my teacher bin and pulled out all my ABC, numbers, flash cards, worksheets, and other fun activities to help him through out the year.
Here is how our area turned out:
Each child has a seat to work, and supplies are in the middle in a caddy. Our calendar is up and will help my youngest with his counting along with our ABC poster. We also have some fun stuff on the board for seasons, weather and to determine today, tomorrow and yesterday. My youngest always says "Remember last year when we....." instead of yesterday. I will also add fun visuals for each month.
Off to the side I have our ABC/Word and Number/Math helpers. The black drawers hold extra supplies, scrap paper, notebook paper and more school goodies. My white TV cabinet I found at the curb. I removed the doors and spray painted it white. Here I house 3 bins that house workbooks and worksheet for ABC, numbers and math, and the last one has fun activities like mazes, hidden objects, connect the dots and coloring for when the kids are bored. All our markers, crayons, colored pencils, dry erase markers, and pencils live in the pencil boxes. On top is our word wall/sight words, and white paper and construction paper in the trays. The magazine holders hold my calendar markers and miscellaneous items I have used in the past when assisting in doing homework. The crate holds all our flash cards (addition, subtraction, ABC, numbers, sight words). It also holds some games and puzzles related to ABC.
Education is so important to me and having educational items at my finger tips to use in assisting with homework will make it fun for the kids and fun for me!
Happy 1st Day of School to you all!
Wow, these last few weeks of May are flying by! I have so much going on with the kiddos before they get out of school. Just a few weeks ago it was teacher appreciation day. The kids always give their teachers something small to just let their teachers know they are appreciated.
I found the cute printable tags on one of my favorite blogs eighteen25! I love, love their ideas. You can find the printable here on their blog.
For the end of the year gift for the teachers I like to do a bit more to give them a BIG thank you for all that they do. Here is what I pulled together for the teachers last year.
You can find my post about it here. I got wonderful feed back from the teacher on how much they loved them. This year my boys gave me the best Mother's Day present created by my Mom. I loved them so much I decided to make them and give them to the boy's teachers.
Aren't they so stinking cute??? They were so easy to make. All you need is a pair of rain boots, rocks or gravel, dirt, and herb plant of your choice. I also added the colorful duct tape for more color but it is not easy to put on with out any kinks! My husband drilled holes in the bottom of the boots for drainage. I filled the bottom of the boots with rocks to weight them down and then filled with dirt. Planted the herb, gave it some water and attached a to/from tag to it. My son who was in preschool is finished now and his teachers absolutely loved them!
What are you giving the teachers for the last day of school? I would love to see. Feel free to link up your gifts!
I'm so excited to show you how the boys closets turned out! If you saw my before pictures here you know I was working with a mess of items, and in a sea of un-organization! Knowing that I did not have a budget to get my dream organizers for both closets I worked with what I had on hand. I once again used dollar store storage to tidy up both closets.
I created, using some old Ikea wicker baskets I had laying around, a basket for clothes that are too big and one for clothes that are two small.
I love the tags I made. Green for one son and Red for the other! I printed out the paper, and text. Trimmed and inked the edges of the text paper just to make it pop out a bit. Then matted and laminated. Then tied it off with some matching ribbon.
I had some left over dollars on my Office Depot gift card so I picked up two green file bins as I knew they would be the perfect size to house all the boys friends. When do boys out grow stuffed animals? The boys stood their ground about not wanting to give away their friends!
My younger son gets all the hand-me-downs including shoes. 13 is too big for him right now so I keep them in the buckets for when he will fit into them. They were previously in a diaper box and I had no idea what type of shoes or size were in there. Now I can easily see I have a few pairs for him when his feet grow.
Since our house is brand new and we are waiting to paint after our year patching is done by the builder, I created a decor bin. Our younger son continued with his train room theme that he had in his old house, so the items in his bin are ones that will go up after we paint. My older son wants a lego room, so as I find items for his theme I have been placing them in his decor bin. I also put baseball pants, shirts and socks in their hats for an easy grab at game time.
Both boys closets are now color coded which makes it easy for them to pick out a shirt that matches their pants or shorts.
Now when I am hanging up their laundry I am happy to do so. Before I would go into their closets to hang up their laundry and want to quickly shut the door again. Now I can't help but have a smile on my face when I open the door. Silly how the simple things like an organized closet make me happy!!
Have you heard of grass buddies? They were a huge hit with my kids last year so I decided to do them again this year. They are basically a Chia Pet. They are super simple to make.
Any size flower pot/terra cotta pot
items to make a face
Here are our grass buddies from last year:
The kids loved to add the dirt and seed. I cut the face shapes out on my Cricut and the kids glued them on to the pot. Our grass buddies changed gender quite often. One day they were name a male name and had a buzz cut, a few days later they had a girl name and pig tales.
This year our grass buddies have just started growing and look like this:
I changed our pots/design this year for a few reasons. One the kids wanted the face to change as did their gender. Two when the kids would water their grass buddies water would spill and the paper face would get wet. Finally the pots were a little to large for me as they made a home on my kitchen counter. I think last years are cuter but the kids love being able to use the chalk on the pots and really it's about the kids and their creativity....right? LOL!
I had some extra terra cotta pots in the basement and gave them a coat of chalkboard paint. I watch our neighbors kids a few days out of the week,so I had 4 pots ready to go on grass buddy day! The kids first drew their face or art work on their pot. Then the kids added some dirt, then some seed, and then some more dirt. With a bit of water and some sunlight with in a few days the grass start grow and the kids get so excited! Once the grass get really tall the kids get to give their grass buddy a haircut (supervising little ones with scissors)! The great part about grass is it grows quick! Here is our grass buddies today (the picture above was from yesterday!).
Well that Leprechaun was back again last night and this time he is really was up to some mischief! He blocked the boys doors off with streamers and shamrocks. When the boys opened their doors this morning they were surprised. I don't know about this Leprechaun, (which the boys have named Hissy - I don't know how they come up with their names!) he is kind of a trouble maker. I think we might have to make a trap and try to catch him. I heard leprechauns are hard to catch as they are really fast! The boys and I will have to think of a trap that we can make to catch Hissy.
Our leprechaun was back last night! He left a trail of gold coins leading to our refrigerator. When I opened the refrigerator to get out some cream for my morning coffee I found GREEN milk!! That leprechaun turned our milk green!! The kids had fun drinking the green milk with breakfast!
Both my kids are way into catching a leprechaun this year. They are both learning about St. Patrick's Day and are coming home from school asking if we can build a trap to catch a leprechaun. So after some google searching and a search on Pinterest I found some great ideas on the mischief that a leprechaun can do. I decided to start this tradition with the boys by the leprechaun causing mischief a week before St. Patrick's Day. I started today with this one I found at Differentiated Kindergarten. Hop on over to the blog to find out how to make the feet.
This week I worked on the playroom. My kids are the luckiest kids in the world as we finished the basement in our new house just for them. They pretty much have the run of the basement, for now.
Clean up time can make or break us! My youngest always needed direction when cleaning up, what to pick up and where to put it. I dreamed about the day that I could say clean up time and my boys would just do it.
Well that day has come, after some organization happened. So let's dive right in. Here is the playroom area before me moved in. A lot of space and I knew if it wasn't organize it would be a sea of toys in no time.
In comes Ikea. I love their goodies! My husband and I went there for my scraproom and the playroom. We have a lot of Legos here.....I mean a lot! My son is a Lego engineer, and is always building so I knew I wanted a space for him to store, display, and build. So we created a Lego area.
I love the Ikea piece I picked out. It has bins for all his legos, and he can display what he has built on top. My son and I separated all his Legos by color, and gave them a bin. I then label by color so the youngest can find the color, and put the right color Lego in the bins. We even have some empty bins to grow the Lego collection. The table from Ikea is nice and wide and gives both of them plenty of space to build.
I am currently in school to become a teacher so of course I have a school area! After school, and after snack, we come down to do our homework. Each child has a bin (labeled with their name) with a pencil, dry erase marker, eraser, scissors and glue stick so we don't waste time getting our supplies out. Next to our table I have a 4 drawers that hold our supplies, markers in one, other supplies in another, paper in one, and our learning flash cards in the bottom drawer. I use clear plastic bins to hold our coloring items, and the other two hold our school workbooks. The kids seemed to pull out coloring/workbooks when they can see them. The kids get their homework done and out of the way giving them more playtime later and I fulfill my passion to teach! Even my youngest saves his preschool homework so he can do it with the big kids!
The next area I had to conquer was the the toy area. Before we moved we had bin after bin after bin of toys! As we packed our old house I had the kids go through their toys, and pick what they were ready to give away. They did great at this! In our old house I had used one of the Ikea Expedit bookcase and laid it on it's side. I purchased baskets and all our toys went in there. It worked for us so I knew I would be using that system again. We purchased two of them, put the baskets in, and filled them with toys. Each bin contained certain toys, and I wanted the boys to put them away in the right bins. I searched the internet for a picture of the items that belong in that bin, printed it out, cut, laminated, and tied them onto the bins. The kids love it! The picture helps my youngest one know what items go in the bin and my oldest is starting to read so he love to read the tags. When we change the toys in the bin we change the tag! It also helps when our kid's friends come over!
I also have my DIY chalkboard table. That was such a fun project and you can go here to read about it, and see my before and after pictures. The kids love to draw on the table, and their easel is near by to continue their imagination.
What's behind door number two.....storage. We kept part of the basement unfinished for storage. In here is our old Expedit and I have filled most of the bins with toys. When the boys are bored with the toys in the toy area they can just switch out the bins. The shelves hold all of our games, some larger toys too big for the bins, and the plastic bins hold toys that we can rotate into the bins when we do a toy swap.
I love how our playroom is evolving. We still have ideas that we want to put in place but my main focus was to give my children a space of their own and organize it in a way that would make it easy for the kids to take care of their space. Clean up time is no longer a struggle
(well we have our days here and there).
Just a quick post to say Merry Christmas to you and your family! We are having a wonderful Christmas! Santa was very good to our boys and I have a feeling that I will not see my boys for days with all the Lego's they got! Their fingers will be hurting by the time they are done building! We had candy canes for breakfast.....the healthy ones :) So easy to make and the boys loved it. Just cut up strawberries and bananas in slices and arrange in the shape of a candy cane!
Today the boys and I made snowman pillows, an idea I found on Pinterest. The idea was not linked for me to give credit as it was just a picture. I knew they would love them so I headed out to the stores to get the supplies. I had to guess a little as there was no supply list or instructions. This was a super cheap project! I got the pillows for $5.58 each, a set of two pillow cases for 3.58 the Santa hats for $2.99 each, I had the ribbon, and I had the foam for the eyes, nose, and buttons. So each pillow cost about $10.00.
I had the kids put the pillow case on their pillow. Then they held the pillow up while I tied the ribbon, and their little finger helped me to double knot it! I also tied up the top of the pillow to make it look more rounded like a snowman. I used the foam sheets that have a sticky side on the back. I cut out the eyes, nose and buttons and the kids peeled the paper off and stuck them on. Lastly I safety pinned the hats on. The kids had fun and so did Mommy too!
Do you have an elf?? This is our third year with our elf Roddie. The kids love him and become angels when Roddie shows up. Chores get done with out asking, dinners get finished, the talking back stops, it's great! We have found our elf in some fun place in the morning and thanks to Pinterest I think Roddie will have even better spots! Thought I would share with you some of Roddie's places we have found him over the past three years.
Roddie wanted to help me decorate
Roddie hanging out in my pots and pans.
Roddie wanted to help me decorate
Roddie need a nice relaxing bubble bath!
We have so much fun with Roddie. It is a holiday tradition for our family. When does your elf show up? Ours shows up right around Thanksgiving or right after. Has your elf forgotten to move? Ours has but we just assumed that was a spot he liked and wanted to stay there one more day. Has your elf ever been touched? What did you say or do? Nathan touched Roddie one year and I knew right away as I found him on the floor and not in his spot. I asked Nathan if he touched him and he started to cry and said yes. So I left Roddie there for 2 days! We then wrote Santa a letter about how sorry Nathan was for touching Roddie and can he please give Roddie his magic back......it worked! The next day Roddie was in a new spot! What are some creative spots your elf has landed in? I would love to hear all your stories and ideas!
I don't know about where you live but here in IL we need some rain....badly!! With that being said the kids are dying to cool off everyday but we are trying to conserve the water and our water bill!! So thanks to Pinterest (I heart that site) I found a great idea. Water sponge balls!!! They were so easy to make. You just buy some Cello sponges (I bought the package that was 4 to a package), cut them into 4 strips, put 6 strips together (I liked using 2 different colors) and zip tie in the middle. My husband has a great little tool that cuts the zip tie so there is no sharp edge left over and it cuts it clean. I used some dollar store buckets filled with water and put one kid at one end of the yard with a bucket and sponges and the other kid at the other end of the yard with a bucket and sponges. The kids had a blast and got really wet. All we had to do was re-fill their buckets from time to time. We saved on water, money and the kids had a blast!! Thank you Pinterest!
Today my youngest son turns 4. I can't believe how fast the time goes by. We have lots of excitement planned out for the day. Over the years I try to write down all the moments and funny things my kids say so I can look back someday and remember. That got me thinking about doing a birthday sheet of questions for the kids. Here is what I came up with.
The kids and I went strawberry picking!!! The strawberries looked great this year. This is the second year I have taken the boys. They really have fun trying to find that perfect strawberry. The great thing about strawberry picking is we get these cute little baskets.
I am already thinking of idea on how I can use these baskets! Maybe for my scrapbooking items, or the boys art items, or maybe in my pantry to hold those lose snacks??? What would you use it for?
The kids and I sat down and made a list of all the thing we want to do this summer and created our summer bucket list. Last year we made a list and checked off the things. This year, thanks to Pinterest I found a great idea with popsicle sticks from The Home Teacher.