How to Encourage Independence in Your Children this School Year




As children get older they tend to develop a strong desire to spread their wings a little more and test new boundaries. As school begins again, you may find that it’s a great time to start giving them opportunities to grow by allowing them to take control of some of the tasks, habits, and personal items they require. Assess the needs of each child and use these suggestions to start encouraging independence in your children this school year.


Let them take responsibility for their breakfast

Breakfast is something parents often take care of but can easily be entrusted to the kids. You can set the boundaries by choosing what foods go on the table, but most school-age children are ready to start serving themselves. If you want to get creative, consider a “breakfast station” like this one, full of breakfast options like oatmeal packets, bagels, and cereal that they can make on their own. Be sure to include some grab-and-go foods like fruit and granola bars for mornings when there are a few kids in a rush.


Allow them to choose their own clothes each day

Help the kids figure out a system for choosing school clothes each day so mornings don’t become too hectic when socks and underwear are nowhere to be found. Will the choice be made right before bed each night? How about choosing five outfits at the start of the week? A simple daily label placed on a hanger – like these free printables from Sweet Bella Roos – with each outfit can eliminate a lot of confusion. It’s likely the kids will become more confident in who they are as they find ways to express themselves through their clothing choices. Let each child find what works best for them and help them stick to it.


Put them in charge of their own lunch

Delegate the morning task of lunch-making to the kids! Set out the ingredients in a way that works for your family, with options from each of the food groups. You can see an example of a lunch station here. Every child can put together a lunch they actually want to eat and you can have more time to sign permission slips and comb hair. And if a child doesn’t get up on time, consider letting the natural consequence of missing out on lunch that day be a lesson to him or her. You can practically guarantee they’ll wake up tomorrow!


Make them responsible for their “stuff”

Allow each of your children to inventory their own backpacks when they walk in the door. Being in charge of their jackets, school papers, and sports gear takes a load off of your plate and uses natural consequences to teach kids why it’s important to keep track of those things. A family command center is the perfect way to give kids the reins but still provide a bit of guidance. There are many ways to create one and you’ll want to customize it to suit your family’s needs, but some basics might include a coat hook for each child, a calendar, a chalkboard, and a basket for each child’s shoes or loose items.  Keep chalk or pens nearby so the kids can write down project deadlines and things they need to remember. Make it clear that they will be responsible for their own gear, and this is the place to keep it if they want to have quick access to it in the mornings. You can see more great command center ideas on Remodelaholic.


Allow them to choose their snacks

Fill a basket (let the kids help too!) with healthy snacks your kids can munch when they get home in the afternoon. Here’s a great example from I Heart Organizing. Kids can choose what they will eat from the basket, but you are in charge of the options that go into the basket. It’s a great solution when trying to balance responsibilities between parent and child.


Put them in charge of some things at home

Including a few household tasks on their list of to-do’s is a good way to keep kids involved at home. Assign simple, age-appropriate tasks that they can choose to do before or after school or use a chore chart or chore wheel like these and perhaps a rewards system to help them start to understand the value of contributing within the family.


A few tips for children who are less enthusiastic about becoming independent:

  • Create routines – a routine establishes a predictable pattern that a child can learn and become confident in. Guide them through the first week of a new routine and then slowly begin to withdraw, allowing them to take responsibility for following and completing the routine.
  • Ask questions – when your child comes to you with a problem you think they can handle on their own, ask questions that will get them thinking for themselves. For example, if your child tells you a friend is talking and disrupting things at school, you might ask, “What could you say to your friend to help her focus on what the teacher is saying?” Or if a child keeps forgetting their homework, “What could you do to help you remember to put the papers in your backpack each night?” Many children can solve their own problems with a bit of encouragement.
  • Believe in them – it can be difficult to step away as your child learns to take care of him or herself. They’ve needed you for so many things for so long! Trust them. Trust that they can make good choices. Trust that they can figure things out, and tell them you trust them. It may be just the thing that gives them the confidence to take the next step


Featured image via Better Homes and Gardens.

Kayla Lilly is a photographer, writer, wife, and mama making a house a home in eastern Idaho. She met her mister while working at an amusement park and married him a year later after deciding there was no way to live without him. The amusement has continued as they’ve added three kids and a passel of pets to their lives while finishing college and starting a photography business. Drawing inspiration from the whirlwinds of marriage, parenthood, and the media, Kayla blogs at Utterly Inexperienced, and spends the rest of her time chasing chickens, organizing junk drawers, diapering toddlers, and photographing everyone willing to step in front of her lens.

30 Kid-Approved DIY Chore Charts

30 Kid-Approved DIY Chore Charts -  via tipsaholic, #chorechart, #chores

 30 Kid-Approved DIY Chore Charts

If the word “chores” has your kids groaning, it might be time to switch up the routine!  A chore chart can be both engaging and rewarding for your child, and give them just the incentive they need to get working and stop complaining.  If you need some ideas for chore charts that you can make yourself, we’ve got you covered!  Whether you’re looking for something simple to make and easy for kids to follow, or you want something more elaborate and effective for your tweens, these 30 kid-approved DIY chore charts are sure to be a hit at your house.


Work For Hire Board, The Chic Family – This simple yet ingenious bulletin board style chore chart is perfect for your tween or even teen looking to earn some extra spending money.  If you’ve got extra chores your willing to shell out some allowance for, this board is a great way to get kids involved in making their own decisions about the work they do around the house.TheChic_work-for-hire-board


Reclaimed Wood Chores and Rewards, The Winthrop Chronicles – This chore/reward system works great for kids who are a little older, around 5-10.  Their weekly chore list is clipped to the top and they earn points, or small pebbles, as they complete things.  Pebbles are removed when they don’t do what they’re supposed to.  When the pebble jar is full, they pick a fun treat, like an ice cream outing.  It’s effective because it clearly displays expectations, has an instant consequence for behaviors and offers relevant incentive.  Plus, it’s super stylish – who wouldn’t want this hanging in their home?IMG_1080-b

Framed Magnetic Charts, A Lemon Squeezy Home – These charts look clean and bright hung on the wall and are a very easy system for kids to tackle.  The magnets are made with wooden circles and computer-printed stickers and are completely customizable.  If you’re not big into giving out an allowance for chores, or simply don’t want the visual reminder of money right by the chores, this is a great option.  It’s easy to make and easy to use, and the kids will get a kick out of moving their own magnets around.  Plus, there’s a nice list of chores kids can accomplish on their own!chore charts_thumb[1]

 Washi Tape Chore Sticks, Simply Kierste – If you’re looking for something super easy to make and use, you can’t get much more perfect than this!  Simply write the chores on a craft stick, decorate with a strip of washi tape and place in a cute jar!  Little hands will love the surprise of picking the chores out blindly.  Plus it looks cute on display and doesn’t take up any wall space!



White Board and Magnet Pictures, Vanilla Joy – If you’ve got a pre-reader who’s ready to tackle some work around the house, this is a great chore chart for you!  The chores are designated with pictures glued to wooden tokens with magnets on the back.  It’s simple to make with a small white board and a few other materials and doesn’t take up a lot of space.  Little ones will love “playing” with the magnets and moving their chores to the right side!


Easy Chore Board, Gingersnap Crafts – This cute and easy chore board is a cinch to make, small enough to fit nearly anywhere, and super stylish to boot!  All it takes is a board or plaque, some vinyl, a strip of metal and magnetic chore circles.  Not only is it easy to make, but it’s easy to read and understand for your young kids.  The little stick figures make it that much more adorable!chores


Chore Box, Just another Day in Paradise – This “Uh-Oh” box is simply genius!  Sick of kids leaving a trail of messes in their wake?  Got some mini tornados kicking toys around the house?  Teach your kids responsibility with this cute poem stuck to the side of a rubbermaid tote.  When they leave their things out, place them in the box.  All they have to do to get an item back is pick a chore!DSC_0018


Burlap and Clothespin Chore Chart, Simply Kierste – This charming burlap chore chart is a cute way to get chores done and encourage your kids!  On one side of the clothespin there are chores printed.  When the chore is completed, flip the clothespin over to reveal praise and encouragement for a job well done!  Make a row with ribbon for each child and clip their chores on, then have them flip the clothespins themselves!  This is a great way to help them take pride in their work.burlap chore chart--finished project front copy


Baking Sheet Chore Chart, A Spotted Pony – It doesn’t take much to make these cute little magnetic charts – just a baking sheet from the dollar store, some spray paint and some magnets!  With minimal investment, you can make some to match any decor.  With the cute printed pictures on magnets, this is the perfect first chore chart for young kids who aren’t reading yet.chorechart1-300x200


Job Chart, Martha Stewart –  This sweet and simple job chart is fairly minimalist in design – so it’ll go with any kind of decor.  It’s easy to make too – All you need are magnets and a computer/printer!  The columns are headed with a photograph of each child, adding to the charm.  The chores are simply colored magnetic strips – you can color code them according to day or difficulty level.  Simply hang on the fridge and let your tweens at it!0206_kids_gtjobchart_l


Dry Erase Chore Chart, Moss Moments – This is a really easy idea to pull together.  Just make a list of chores (and possibly the daily to-do’s) leaving boxes for check marks and print it out.  Frame it with any frame that matches your decor.  Each morning, write the day at the top.  The kids can check off the items as they do them.  Why it’s great?  Ease of use and simple to make.  Also, as you think of new things that need to be done that day, you can simply write them on the glass.  It’s super customizable, can be made as fancy and colorful as you’d like, and the kids will love writing all over the glass!Sofa and jellybean jars 025


Printable Sticker Chore Chart, The Vintage Mother – You can’t get any easier than simply printing off some charts and hanging them within easy reach!  The truly fun part is putting stickers next to the chores that are completed!  Let your little ones pick which stickers they want to use and watch them turn into cleaning machines!VRW-Chore-Chart-2


Big Helper Board, Grey House Harbor - With a magnetic dry erase board and some washi tape and magnets, you can create a super cute, perfectly personalized big helper board for your kids!  Create your own magnets for kids to move to separate columns and rows for each day of the week and chore.  Make it organized and cute by making lines with washi tape.  The best part about this chore chart is that it’s completely reusable as something new once the novelty wears off – and for young kids, you know that won’t take too long!  Washi tape is removable and all the writing on the chart is in dry erase marker.  580x384xwpid2209-magnetic-dry-erase-chore-chart.jpg.pagespeed.ic.YI6bbp4jJh


Reusable Chore Card Checklists, Our Story – You can break each room in your house down by listing the chores that need to be down on one convenient, laminated card.  Assign the kids a room to clean and give them the card.  They can check off each item as they go with a dry erase marker.  Rotate the rooms among your kids so they get a chance to do everything.  This is a great system for tweens and teens who are ready for more independence with their work, but still need a bit of a reminder as they go.  They can earn points for the entire room and cash their points in for rewards.  Wipe each card down when they’re completed and store them all together on a binder clip or in a folder or envelope._DSC9941


Coloring Page Chore Chart, And We Play – Even the littlest of helpers can keep track of their chores on a handy chart.  This cute little coloring page is just the ticket for the youngest in your brood!  You can download a pre-made chore coloring page from the link, or create your own personalized one.  Every time your child completes a task that’s pictured, they get to color it in!  So break out the crayons and colored pencils because preschool aged kids are going to love cleaning up now!IMG_5150


Framed Clothespin Chore Chart, A Turtle’s Life For Me – Upcycle some of your old, unused frames into a totally usable chore chart!  By gluing clothespins down the side of the frame and adding the child’s name inside, you’ve got yourself a cute and personalized chore tracker.  Simply print out some chores, cut them into strips and laminate them.  When the chore is completed, it comes down off the clothespin and back in the envelope.  This is super easy to make and super easy to use.  Kids will love getting to “play with” the clips, but this is great for older kids or teens as well because of its simplicity.chore chart emma


Clipboard Chore Charts, The 36th Avenue – These clipboards are so super cute, you’ll want to hang them just for decoration!  They serve a useful purpose, too, though.  There are chores listed on one side and spots to check off down the other side – in dry erase vinyl!  Along the bottom, there are dry erase spots to keep track of days, so at the end of the week the kids (or you) can clip a reward card to the clipboard if they’ve gotten everything done.  This is really a great idea for young school aged children up through tweens to keep them on track, independently responsible for their work, and give them extra incentive.15554116713


Clipboard Checklists, Stacy Julian –  These checklists are simple, easy to make and very straightforward.  Clip the checklist to the clipboard and have your tween or teen check things off as they go throughout their routine.  If everything is finished at the designated time, you clip a dollar to the clipboard for them to find next time.  This is a great instant incentive for older kids who don’t need or want a lot of fuss, and still helps everyone keep track of responsibilities.  IMG_0785


Family Chore Board, Our Prairie Home – Here’s a fun and easy way to keep track of daily chores for everyone in the family – and it doesn’t take up a ton of space!  It’s a simple board with the names of the family written across and hooks above and below each name.  Chores are printed on small laminated tags.  Daily tasks are places on the top hook at the beginning of the day and each person moves them down to the bottom hook as they complete them.  You can personalize this idea as much as you want, use pictures for pre-readers, offer a point and reward system, or fancy it up as much as you want!Chore 3


Chore Tags, A Pretty Life - This system works really well for keeping track of those extra chores that pile up.  The tags are magnetic, so you can keep them on the fridge or a magnet board.  Each tag has an extra chore and a price.  The kids get to pick with chores they want to do, and when finished, move the chore to their designated hook (Which could be magnetic or not, your choice.)  At the end of the week, just pull the tags from the hook, count up all the prices listed, pay the allowance, and move the tags back to the fridge.  Voila!  This will work best with older kids and teens who know the value of a dollar!Chores1


Ice Cream Cone Chart, Child Made – Little kids will love this colorful, fun, ice cream themed chore chart!  Every part of the ice cream cone is sewn separately and has a magnet on the back.  Start your child with the empty cone.  Each scoop of ice cream has a chore listed on the back.  When they complete a chore, they get to add the scoop to their cone!  They’re going to flip over making ice cream cones every day and will race to clean to see who can build their cone higher!ice_cream_19


Folder Chore Charts, Moritz Line Designs – These couldn’t be easier (or cheaper!) to make and are exceptionally easy to use.  The days of the week are listed across the inside pockets and the daily chore check list is stapled under each day.  A dollar bill is placed in the pocket above each day.  The kids check things off the list and when the whole list for the day is completed, move the money to the envelope on the front of the folder.  It’s instant gratification, teaches the value of earning and saving, and places the responsibility and consequences for chores on the kids.  This is a great motivational chore “chart” for older kids and tweens!chorechart_inside


Photo Chore Chart, A Mom’s Take – This chart turns chores into a game!  Everything is magnetic and can go on a magnet board or on the fridge.  The chart itself is simply “before” photographs of each chore in a grid, all of them taken before the chore was completed – so messy shelves, unmade bed, etc.  The kid’s look at the photos and when a chore is complete, find the matching “after” photo – obviously taken when the chores are completed and therefore clean – in the container or envelope.  They place this photo OVER the the messy photo.  When all the photos are clean, the kids are done!  What a fun way to show them what to do and engage them by turning work into a game!DSCF2194-750x499


Clothespin Chore Tracker, The Wid Kids – A super easy chart to make, and a fun way to keep kids on track all throughout the day.  Simply make a single row of chores for your child (you can write them, draw them or print them out, then put them on poster board for durability) with your child’s name at the beginning of the row.  Start the clothespin on their name at the beginning of the day and have them move it along as they complete each task.DSC_0619


Post-It Note Chore Chart, Tatertots and Jello – Brilliant!  This chart uses post-it notes with chores printed on, color-coded for each child!  Every chore has 7 checkboxes for the week.  Every day, the kids check off the chores that are complete.  When they’re totally checked, they place them in the post-it folder.  There’s even a “for hire” category with bigger chores printed and a dollar amount if the kids want to do bonus work.  What’s great about this system is that it’s so easy to alter.  Add chores, take them away, switch them around, whatever!  Tweens and teens will like the trendy, fun colors, and mom will like all the work getting done!post-it-note-chore-chart-system-at-tatertts-and-jello


Magnetic Photo Chart, My Sister’s Suitcase – Use all those photos you take with your phone throughout the day!  Create chore photos with your smartphone and add text with various photo editing apps.  Print them out on magnetic sheets and make magnet board separated into columns and the name of each child at the top.  Put a small box or envelope under the columns.  Place the chores with the appropriate child, and have them move the photos into the box once they are completed.  Simple enough for preschoolers, fun enough for older kids!kids-chore-chart-DIY


Responsibility Station, Organizing Junkie – This station has absolutely everything you could want in a chore chart.  There’s a checklist for daily chores, a bucket of chore sticks for extra chores or  responsibilities, a pay check tear pad where the kids tally up how much they make per day and total it at the end of the week, and even zipper pouches separated into spend it, save it and give it.  This system is a little more detailed as far as understanding and using it, but it also reinforces lots of great lessons – math, addition, percentages, charity, responsibility, among others.  School-aged kids would love watching their “pay check” add up over the week!responsibility-station-2


Magnetic Flip Chart, Miss Information – With very little effort and supplies, you can make a cute chart for your fridge that your preschooler will get really excited about!  Just use some poster board or heavy card stock and fold it in half.  On the top, write, draw or print out pictures of chores all across.  On the bottom half, simply cut up to the fold – making the strips you cut as wide as the chores on top.  Glue magnets on top and bottom.  When your kids complete the chores, they flip the bottom up to the top to reveal a secret message!  Just write “all done,” “good job,” etc. on each flap.  Kids will love flipping the paper, and encouraged by all the positive reinforcement!flip chart


Job Chart Slider, Spoonful – It may look a little complicated at first, but this job chart slider is actually pretty easy to make!  You just need paper, cardboard, wooden skewers, straws and glue!  In no time you’ll craft up something the little kids will absolutely love to use!  List the charts down the first column (you can even divide them into daily and weekly) and on the top write “to do” on one side and “done” on the other.  The kids slide the straws from “to do” to “done” – it’s like a game!make-a-job-chart-craft-photo-420x420-FF0911CREAT_A11

Wheel of Responsibility, How Does She – This chore wheel will take virtually no time and effort to make and will save you from lots of arguments!  All you need is sturdy card stock, a brad and a pen.  Just make concentric circles of colored paper or card stock and divide them up – each tier is for something specific to your own family, with the top or center tier being the names of family members.  You can rotate the wheel whenever you see fit, though weekly makes the most sense.  This is fun for young kids, but great as they get older too since it’s a simple and indisputable visual of who does what.IMG_2008


From dry erase to magnetic, flip charts, spinners, sliders, stickers and clips, simple checklists to photos and pictures, this list has it all!  There’s a chore chart here for everyone – whatever your needs!


Featured image via And We Play.

Kimberly Mueller is the “me” over at bugaboo, mini, mr & me, a blog that highlights her creative endeavors. She especially likes to share kid crafts, sewing attempts, recipes, upcycled projects, photography and free printable gift tags/cards. When she’s not enjoying being married to her best friend, chasing after the natives (AKA her three kids) and attempting to keep the house in one piece, you can find her with a glue gun in one hand and spray paint in the other. Aside from DIY pursuits, she also enjoys writing, reading, music, singing (mostly in the shower) and the color yellow. Kimberly recently published a craft book entitled Modern Mod Podge. You can also find her on FacebookPinterest,Bloglovin’ and Instagram. Email her at: bugabooblog(at)

Check out these other great kid friendly ideas:

tipsaholic-5-tips-to-start-dinnertime-conversation-with-kids                     How to Raise Kids Who Love Learning -                 5 Great Potty Training Books via

Starting Dinner Conversations       Raising Kids who Love Learning    5 of the Best Potty Books

20 Clever Ways to Recycle Bleach Bottles

20 Clever Ways to Recycle Bleach Bottles - #bleach #crafts #recycle #green



Have you got an overabundance of empty bleach bottles in your laundry room?  It’s hard to know what to do with them once you’ve scrubbed and cleaned your way through the bleach.  Fortunately, there are plenty of uses for empty bottles, from simple and utilitarian to cutesy and kid-friendly.  Whether you’re looking for merely functional projects or crafts and home decor, here’s a complete list of things you can make.  Reuse your bottles in style with our 20 clever ways to recycle bleach bottles!


Portable Paint Tray - Martha Stewart: With a few clever cuts and some stacking together, you can create custom, portable paint canisters that are perfect when you need to climb up the ladder!a100744_gt05_paintcaddy_l


Multi-purpose Scoop - Graham56 on Instructables: All you need is a scissors for this recycled idea; simply cut part of the container away, leaving the handle behind, to make a useful scoop for everything from kitty litter to ice melt.FBRU4N7GD2JKH7Q.LARGE


Hair Dryer Caddy - Hometalk: If you’ve got limited drawer space in your bathroom, chances are the counter is a tangled mess of cords!  Create a hair dryer caddy from a bleach bottle and hang it in the cabinet.  Instant organization with just a few very basic steps!ybas952fe564051f5e


Berry Picking Basket - Blue Viola Farm: A bleach bottle is perfect for creating light weight berry picking baskets!  The photo instructions are clear and easy to follow to create some simple baskets you can use out in the garden.Blog August 19, 2012 marmalade & bottle basket 032


Birdfeeder - Indiana Ivy Nature Photography: Here’s a super cute way to re-use an old bottle; cut some strategic holes and start feeding the neighborhood birds!3651b3343f0d56b840fc9822b2c42caf


Pig Planter - Cut Out and Keep: Looking for a cute way to display your plants, indoors or out?  Create a pig planter!  A bleach bottle is the perfect shape, all you need to do is some cutting and painting!full_PigPlanters2_1300490500


Crocheted Bleach Bottle BagExaminer: This is a clever way to create a sturdy, hard-bottomed tote!  Cut a bleach bottle apart, punch some holes and start crocheting!  The tutorial includes a crochet pattern.b1ed44d74bc176fa6dd2937ca2cbd281


Woven Bleach Bottle Basket - Creative Jewish Mom: Bleach bottle baskets aren’t really a new idea, but here’s a fun new way to fancy them up!  Cut slits and slip yarn around for a woven basket look!6a011570601a80970b016300ead6f2970d-800wi


Fruit Basket - OhOh Blog: Here’s another idea for a basket!  Create a slipcover for the bottom of your bleach bottle out of felt!  It looks so chic you could use it just about anywhere in your home!Feld basket 1


Recycled Caddy - Decoracao e Invencao: This caddy is oh, so clever!  Cut the bottle into a square for the bottom of the caddy, and create long, skinny handles. Decorate with ribbons and beads.  You could use this caddy for tons of different storage needs!

Click here to see 10 more great uses for recycled bleach bottles –>

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5 Ways to Organize and Display Travel Mementos

5 Ways to Organize and Display Travel Mementos | #travel #display #mementos #decor #home #ideas


The best part of traveling is the memories that we treasure for the rest of our lives. Sadly, we can’t remember everything, no matter how hard we try. That’s why we collect travel mementos, from photographs to ticket stubs to tiny travel souvenirs, to help us remember. Here are 6 ways to organize and display travel mementos.

1. Memory Glass Jars

Use mason jars, apothecary jars, or any other glass jar to fill with your travel mementos. These little glass jars are like worlds into themselves and are great to display, especially in your kids’ rooms where they’ll always remember their awesome trip with their family.


2. Coffee Table

Get a coffee table with a glass top and a place to display travel mementos. Fill a coffee table with shells that have been collected over years of traveling. So pretty. You could do the same with photos from various trips, tiny souvenirs with a common theme, or unique rocks that you found from each vacation spot.


3. Ticket Stub Diary

If you’re like me, you collect ticket stubs from train rides, plane trips, concerts, football games, and more with nowhere except for a shoe box to put them in. Once in a blue moon, you pull out that shoe box while looking for something else and sit for an hour just going through that ticket stub box. How about getting this ticket stub diary to organize your travel mementos? You’ll be able to put it in a bookshelf and go through it more often!


4. Gallery Wall of Memories

Gallery walls are popular today, so why not create a gallery wall of memories that’s filled with your travel mementos? Frame maps, postcards, photos, wall art, subway maps, and anything else from your travels that can fit in a frame. Put up your gallery wall in your bedroom, a hallway, or some other spot that you’ll pass by on a daily basis. You’ll pause, look, remember, and smile.


 5. Travel Boxes

This might be the easiest way to organize and display travel mementos. Grab an unfinished wooden box — choose one that is at a size of your preference. Next, paint on the color that you want your letters to be. For example, in the photo the letters are black, so you would paint the box black first. Put on letter stencils along the front of the box and then paint the box in another color. Ta-da, you’ve got a really nice looking box to dump all of your travel mementos in! As you travel more and more, you’ll build up a nice collection of travel boxes of different colors to display.



How do you display your travel mementos?

Never sure what kind of travel souvenirs to buy on your trips? Check out these 6 Clever and Useful Travel Souvenir Ideas.

Don’t forget about all the other memories that you’ve created with your family this year that didn’t necessarily include travel, though! Check out 8 Family Photos You Need to Take this Year.


“I’m Elisa and I live in Austin, Texas with my husband and our two little girls. I used to teach reading and writing, but now I stay at home with my two kiddos and read and write in my spare time. I also love to undertake DIY projects, find new recipes on Pinterest, and dream about someday finally completing our home. Above all, I love to learn about new things and sharing my new-found knowledge with others.”  Please check out my blog What the Vita!

Featured image courtesy of Martha Stewart.

7 Fun Bridal Shower Games

7 Fun Bridal Shower Games | #wedding #shower #bridal #entertaining #games #activities

Bridal showers are traditionally for showering a bride with gifts, but bridal shower games add a whole lot of fun to a bridal shower. To make your next bridal shower a success, here are 7 fun bridal shower games that will keep your party exciting and memorable for everyone, especially for the bride!

1. Love Bingo

There are many variations of the “how well do you know the bride and the groom” game, but this Bingo game is interactive and includes props. Give every guest a BINGO card with numbers on them and two paddles in two different colors, with the bride’s name on one and the groom’s name on another. Put various facts about the bride and groom on strips of paper with numbers on them, throw them in a basket, and pick up one at a time. Players guess the correct answer by holding up one of their paddles. It’s a lot of fun to see what others guessed and to learn more about the bride and the groom.

2. Why Do We Do That?

Weddings are full of traditions, from wearing something blue to throwing the bouquet. But how did these traditions start? Find out by playing the Why Do We Do That? game at your next bridal shower! This game is very simple, but educational! If your guests love trivia, you could consider playing a longer game with this Bridal Shower Trivia card game.

3. DIY Wedding Dress

Divide your guests into teams and give them white materials to create a DIY wedding dress on one person in each group, from toilet paper, white tissue paper, feathers, glitter, newspaper, and whatever else you can think of. Don’t forget tape and/or glue. Give them a limited amount of time to create their wedding dress and then have your bride choose the best dress. You could even have every team have “design consultations” with the bride to find what she wants in a dress, for more bride involvement. Another variation on this game is to have every team create an aspect of the wedding dress, like the veil or the skirt, and put them all on the bride for an awesome photo op.

4. Wedding Poem Contest

This is another team competition that will result in an added entertainment at the wedding, if your bride agrees to this! We did this at a friend’s wedding shower and my team won, so we performed our Wedding Poem at her wedding reception and it was such a hit! Divide your guests into teams and give them a limited time to create a wedding poem, rap, or song. Have each team perform to the bride and let her choose the winner. And then let everyone enjoy the winning poem/rap/song at the wedding reception!

5. Guess Who I Am

This is a great game that will have everyone laughing and becoming more close to each other at the end of the game. Guests write down a favorite memory with the bride without leaving their names and then the bride reads them out loud to everyone. The bride will guess who wrote the memory. If she gets it wrong, the guest gets a prize.

6. What Is She Wearing?

Ask the bride to leave for a few minutes and give a sketching paper and colored pencils to everyone. Have them draw the bride and what she is wearing that day. Guests will have to depend on their memory to draw every detail of the bride’s appearance, from her hairdo down to her shoes! Once everyone is done, have the bride come in and let everyone vote on the best sketch that includes the most correct details. Finally, give all the sketches to the bride to keep as a great memento!

7. My First Kiss

Have everyone tell the story of their first kiss! It can be the story of their first kiss ever or their first kiss with their current boyfriend/husband. Once everyone has told their story, have everyone vote on the best story, funniest story, most romantic story, etc. This game will definitely draw out a lot of laughter and maybe even a few tears.


Rather than focusing on the gifts, bridal shower games bring the attention to the bride and the friendships and love she shares with her guests. Have you played some of these bridal shower games before? What are your favorite games to play at a bridal shower?


Looking for decor ideas for your bridal shower? Try these succulent DIY ideas  or these mason jar ideas!


“I’m Elisa and I live in Austin, Texas with my husband and our two little girls. I used to teach reading and writing, but now I stay at home with my two kiddos and read and write in my spare time. I also love to undertake DIY projects, find new recipes on Pinterest, and dream about someday finally completing our home.  Above all, I love to learn about new things and sharing my new-found knowledge with others.”  Please check out my blog What the Vita!


Featured image courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens.

10 Math Books 6-9 Year Olds Will Love!

10 Math Books 6-9 Year Olds Will Love | #education #math #books #reading #kids

Math can seem a very daunting endeavor when you’re beginning to learn complex concepts.  Reading picture books is a great way to make math more accessible to our children.  If you want to show your 6-9 year old just how fun math can be, take a look at these great math books!

1. The Penny Pot by Stuart J Murphy

This book was written by a mathematician who travels the US talking to kids about everyday math.  He shows kids how they use math all the time, whether sorting socks or spending their allowance.  The Penny Box is a humorous story that illustrates the fun in math – and hopefully helps kids recognize math as accessible and fun.

2. How Many Jelly Beans? by Andrea Menotti

How many jelly beans are enough? Aiden and Emma can’t decide. Is 10 enough? Or 1,000? That’s a lot of jelly beans. But eaten over a whole year, it’s only two or three a day. This giant picture book offers kids a fun and easy way to understand large numbers. Starting with 10, each page shows more and more colorful candies, leading up to a giant fold-out surprise—ONE MILLION JELLY BEANS!  Kids will love the fun, bright pictures, and learn that big scary numbers can be easily accessible.

3. Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni

In this charming book kids will meet a lovable inchworm who is very proud of his ability to measure absolutely anything.  A great introduction to measurements and mathematical terms, kids will love the characters and the winsome, watercolor-esque illustrations.

4. Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by James Dean and Eric Litwin

Pete loves his groovy buttons!  But when one falls off, does he cry?  No!  He just keeps singing his song.  When you count down with Pete the Cat in this fun book that teaches math concepts and subtraction, you’ll feel pretty groovy too!

5. 123 Versus ABC by Mike Boldt

This book explores the age old question, which is more important?  Letters or numbers?  While numbers and letters compete to be the stars of the book, funny props and animals pop in for cameos.  The whimsical illustrations and fresh and funny text introduce readers to letters and numbers in a refreshing way and by the end of the book, the answer to the BIG question is perfectly clear.

6. The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins

When Ma makes a dozen delicious cookies, she knows it will be plenty for her two children.  But then, the doorbell rang!  And it keeps on ringing!  In this cute and unpredictable tale, kids will love to count along.

7. How Much Is A Million? by David M. Schwartz

What an abstract concept a million is!  This book takes a look at the concept that has kids wondering and guessing.  Just how much IS a million?  Or a billion?  Or a trillion??  With fantastical images in classic style, this book is sure to engage young readers.

8. Bedtime Math by Laura Overdeck

Bedtime Math has a mission: to make math a fun part of kids’ everyday lives!  Math in this book looks nothing like school, with a kid-friendly and kid-APPEALING take on math problems.  Families are sure to love the riddles, with whimsical illustrations and mischief-making math problems.  There are three different levels in one book, so it’s sure to have something for everyone in the family!

9. The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos by Deborah Heiligman

This book of reader-friendly, lyrical text and rich illustrations explores the life of Paul Erdos, a mathematician who was also a great man.  While introducing readers to math concepts the book also follows Paul from his early start at age-related calculations as a young boy, through the many adventures he has while traveling the world to meet mathematicians and collaborate on publications.  Kids will see what made math for one little boy who loved math!

10. Tally O’Malley by Stuart J. Murphy

The O’Malley’s are off to the beach – a long, hot, LOOOOONG drive!  How will the kids pass the time?  By counting up everything they see by categories – be it green shirts or gray cars.  Whoever has the most marks at the end of the round wins the game.  Eric wins first.  Then Bridget.  It seems like Nell will never win… but she has a surprise in store for her brother and sister!  This book not only introduces math concepts, but shows that math can be a fun game!


Kimberly Mueller is the “me” over at bugaboo, mini, mr & me, a blog that highlights her creative endeavors. She especially likes to share kid crafts, sewing attempts, recipes, upcycled projects, photography and free printable gift tags/cards. When she’s not enjoying being married to her best friend, chasing after the natives (AKA her three kids) and attempting to keep the house in one piece, you can find her with a glue gun in one hand and spray paint in the other. Aside from DIY pursuits, she also enjoys writing, reading, music, singing (mostly in the shower) and the color yellow. Kimberly recently published a craft book entitled Modern Mod Podge. You can also find her on FacebookPinterest,Bloglovin’ and Instagram. Email her at: bugabooblog(at)


Featured image courtesy of Mike Boldt.

9 Tips for Getting a Toddler to Sleep in a Tent

9 tips for getting your toddler to sleep in a tent - @tipsaholic. #tent #camping #kids #summer

 sleep in a tent header

Going camping as a family is a great way to create memories together and to spend a lot of time outside. It might feel scary to bring along a baby or a toddler (or both!), but you’ll have so much fun!  When nightfall comes, many parents are unsure of how to put their kids to sleep in a dark and unfamiliar tent. Here are 9 tips to getting a toddler to sleep in a tent when on a camping trip. (These tips also apply to getting a baby to sleep in a tent, too!)


1. Bring a nightlight.

A campground can be pitch dark during nighttime… how scary that must be to a little human! Try this tent ceiling fan and light; it’s great for getting a toddler to sleep in a tent because it has two light settings: nightlight and regular light. The nightlight is perfectly dim – dark enough to sleep, but not so dark you can’t see. The fan is just a bonus, though it only circulates the air, it doesn’t cool the tent.  It’s worth the price for the nightlight feature!  Another idea is to get a night light that doesn’t need to be plugged in, especially if your campsite doesn’t have electricity and you have no generator. Bonus points if it’s soft and something you can put in the crib with your kid. This SPOKA night light from IKEA is a good option.  Or consider a stuffed animal with a night light.   If you need ideas, check out the Twilight Buddies or Dream Light Pillow Pets.


2. Stay in the tent until your toddler sleeps.

Just as it does when you are trying to acclimate your child to a new crib or bed, it can take a while for him or her to feel comfortable enough to sleep on their own.  Once you leave the tent, it’s quite possible they’ll think it’s play time again!  In an unfamiliar area, it’s even more important for you to help your child feel relaxed enough to drift off, so that means you may have to stay with them until they do.  Just put your child to sleep in their sleeping bag or portable crib and lay down in your own spot.  Hopefully this will give them enough reassurance for them to nod off in no time.


3. Bring a play yard (or two).

If your baby or toddler still sleeps in a crib, a play yard (or pack ‘n play or play pen) is your best bet. It’s similar to a crib and will keep them in one spot until they zonk out. It will work even better if they are used to sleeping in one occasionally.  You may have to upgrade to a large tent in order to accommodate a pack ‘n play, but it’s worth it!  If your toddler isn’t sleeping in a crib anymore, you might still want to enclose them to help them feel safe and sleep. This enclosed bed, the PeaPod is a great option if this is the case! It’s probably not a good idea to introduce a new sleeping routine, like co-sleeping when camping if you don’t do that at home.


3. Put your tent in a shaded area.

For naps, you want the tent to be cool and not too hot or humid. If you pitch your tent in the morning, check where the sun is and it’s path.  This will ensure you find the best spot for your tent, which will aid in afternoon nap times.  Keeping your child as comfy as possible is key!


4. Recreate their beds/cribs at home.

It’s important to make sure your child has their security objects – whether that’s a stuffed animal or a blanket.  If they’re used to sleeping with certain items, don’t expect them to do will without.  BUT, on the other hand, don’t overpack either — only bring the things that you KNOW your kids will want when they go to sleep.


5. A new toy or bag with things in it.

This may sound unusual, but there’s a purpose!   If your kid does well with toys in the crib and goes to sleep with them, then try this trick. Get a small bag and put in a few things in there, maybe new toys that don’t do much or random things like a brush, a baby mirror, a DVD cover, and a card, for example, that are safe for a toddler to handle. Your toddler will dig through the bag and relax as she explores these things. Before she knows it, it’s dreamland time.


6. Get your kids excited about sleeping in a tent.

Around two weeks before you go on your camping trip, pitch your tent in your backyard - this is standard when checking your equipment for holes and leaks.  Since the tent is already set up, it’s a great idea to set up beds inside and treat it like a mini camping trip!  At first, you may want to start slow with simply nap time.  Leave the tent up for a day or two longer and work up to spending the whole night inside with your child.  That way, the tent and their bed inside the tent will already be familiar when you get to your campsite.


7. Try to stick with naps.

Follow your usual schedule and try to help your kids to nap at their usual times.  Most kids do much better when they have a set routine and will become out of sorts if too many things are changed at once.  They are already getting used to a new environment with all sorts of unusual distractions, so sticking with a familiar schedule will help.  However, don’t stress if they simply refuse naps. They’ll be ok.


8. Keep them warm.

Nights can be cold. Keep your little ones warm with several layers of fleece or wool, but don’t put them all on at once. Here’s a good explanation of how to do it!


Tenting can seem intimidating when you have toddlers or babies, but with these tips you’ll be prepared and ready to go!  What other tips do you have when getting a toddler to sleep in a tent?


For more camping tips, check out 25 Camping Ideas for Families or the Camping Kitchen Box Checklist.  Don’t miss our Packing Tips for Camping Trips.  And plan your menu with 8 Ideas for No-Cook Camping Breakfasts and 25 Delicious Camping Desserts.  Finally, have some fun with your kids and these 10 No Fuss Camping Crafts!


Featured image via Remodelaholic.


“I’m Elisa and I live in Austin, Texas with my husband and our two little girls. I used to teach reading and writing, but now I stay at home with my two kiddos and read and write in my spare time. I also love to undertake DIY projects, find new recipes on Pinterest, and dream about someday finally completing our home. Above all, I love to learn about new things and sharing my new-found knowledge with others.”  Please check out my blog What the Vita!

6 Ways to Build a Bedtime Routine



bedtime routines


Crying, begging to stay up late, asking for food, drinks, or one more story – bedtime can be a struggle for parents and children at any age! Family routines can help, but it is often difficult to know where to start. Start working with your child tonight and use these 6 great tips to really design a bedtime routine that works for the whole family!


1. Prepare for the routine during the day

Make sure kids are not napping too late. A toddler typically needs 6 hours of afternoon wake time before being able to settle down again for bedtime, and a nap at 4:30 in the afternoon would set that time at 10:30pm! Try to plan ahead and set nap or quiet times at the appropriate hours. Also be sure to feed children a meal or snack earlier in the evening that will carry them through the night. Your best bet – a combination of protein and carbohydrates, such as string cheese and a piece of whole wheat toast.


2. Establish the right environment

Bright screens, loud noises, video games, movies, and other distractions all spell trouble when it comes to falling asleep. Variations in light can also interrupt sleep patterns once a child does get to sleep. If a night light is needed for nighttime trips to the restroom or keeping “monsters” at bay, select one that is dimmer and less likely to keep a child up if he or she wakes in the night.


3. Offer simple choices

Children, particularly toddlers, have a tendency to do the opposite of what adults ask of them. They have so little control over things that they constantly seek things they can choose – so why not bring that into your routine and thereby remove some of the “battle?” You might try choices like:

One book or two?

Green pajamas or yellow?

Bubble gum toothpaste, or mint?

Lullaby music, or no music?

Come up with some ideas for your child that fall within your own limits for bedtime.


4. Resist the “stay with me” pout

No matter how puppy-eyed your child gets, don’t make a habit of lying down with or rocking he or she if you want them to be able to put themselves back to sleep in the night. Learning to fall asleep on their own will help them soothe themselves if they wake and keep them from crawling into bed with mom and dad!


5. Consistency is the real key

No matter how you look at it, consistency is the only real way to make bedtime work. You’ve got to commit to your routine and do it every night. If a child gets out of bed, you’ve got to put them back – over and over again! Giving in when things get hard will land you right back where you began.


6. Other useful ideas for “cracking a tough egg”

  • Provide a transitional object like a pacifier, stuffed animal, blankie, etc. can continue to comfort a child after mom and dad have left the room.
  • Practice and role play your routine – help your child understand their new routine by doing some role playing during the day, long before bedtime. Take turns “putting each other to bed” or show them how to go through the routine by practicing on a doll.
  • Include some time for a “wind-down chat” with your child. Kids need time to release their thoughts and emotions at some point during the day, and a quiet few minutes with mom or dad in the evening can be just the thing to get them to sleep without all the “what if’s” running through their minds.
  • Older children may benefit from a “you decide” type of bedtime. If the bedtime routine is not getting them to the point where they can fall asleep quickly, there is another method you can try. Go through your routine, take them to the bedroom, and let them know that they can play or read quietly until they feel tired. Let them know that they must stay in their room, however, and if the play becomes noisy or they leave the bedroom, it’s “lights out” immediately.
  • Say goodnight to people and objects around your home. As in the book Goodnight Moon, sometimes it is helpful to tell everything else it’s time for bed before actually going to bed yourself!


Looking for more great parenting ideas? Try these tips for How to Help Your Toddler Listen!


Featured image via Better Homes Gardens.


Kayla Lilly is a photographer, writer, wife, and mama making a house a home in eastern Idaho. She met her mister while working at an amusement park and married him a year later after deciding there was no way to live without him. The amusement has continued as they’ve added three kids and a passel of pets to their lives while finishing college and starting a photography business. Drawing inspiration from the whirlwinds of marriage, parenthood, and the media, Kayla blogs at Utterly Inexperienced, and spends the rest of her time chasing chickens, organizing junk drawers, diapering toddlers, and photographing everyone willing to step in front of her lens.

6 Tips for Moving with Kids

Moving with Kids - Tipsaholic

moving with kids header


No matter how experienced or savvy  you are with relocation, every move causes challenges. Moving can be especially hard for kids with changes in neighborhoods and schools, along with saying good bye to friends. But with a little advanced preparation, the move can go more smoothly for the whole family. Check out these six tips to help you plan your move with kids.


1. Kids might be anxious about moving to a new place, so address any concerns they might have ahead of time. Communicate with kids as much as possible, so they know what is happening at every step. You can even make a calendar with them that shows the day of the big move plus other events such as a last get-together with friends or the date of a visit to the new neighborhood. If the children need to, let them talk about how they are going to miss the old place, but also let them know about possible adventures the new home might bring.


2. Let the children say goodbye to the old home, and hello to the new one. Have your kids make cards for both your old and new neighbors and let them pass the cards out themselves.  Let them take a moment during the move to walk through each room in the home and talk about all the fun things that happened there.  Encourage them to tell the old house what they will miss, but also what they are looking forward to.  Let them wave to the old house as you drive away.


3. Help your kids learn about their new place. Show them pictures of the new house. If it’s a new city, get books at the library about the town’s history or local sports teams. Use Google maps, with ariel views, so you can easily show the children the new neighborhood and any fun nearby places.  Point out (either in person or on a map) where they will go to school, where you will most likely go grocery shopping, the closest park they will play at, etc.


4. On the day of the move, it will be much easier on everyone if the kids are kept busy. Not only will that help the parents move faster during the packing and loading; it will keep the children from seeing their house slowly emptied. Ask friends to plan play dates to keep the kids out of the house, or have family or a trusted babysitter take the children to do an activity they enjoy.


5. Let the kids pack a special box with their most important things.  This way they won’t worry that their favorite books or toys will somehow get lost. They can even decorate the outside of the box, so it can be easily visible among the many boxes. Plus, this will get them involved in the moving process, so they feel more control over this event.


6. If possible, move the kids’ room last and set their rooms up first in the new space. This will help the kids quickly get settled, and make the new house feel more like home.


Moving with kids doesn’t have to be a nightmare!  For more moving tips check these out here.


Photo Source: Better Homes Gardens.


I’m Frances. I am a mother, a wife, and a community volunteer. I work as a scientist by day and moonlight as a blogger. Making lists helps me keep everything on track. While I have a good life, there is always room for improvement. Join me as I decorate, organize, and try new things over at my blog Improvement List.


8 Awesome (And Educational) Pool Activities To Play With Your Kids

8 awesome pool activities for kids - tipsaholic.  #poolactivities, #pool, #summer,


pool activities header

Whether you blow up an inflatable pool in your backyard, go to a community pool, or have your own swimming pool at home, you’ll find at least one pool activity from this list that you can play with your kids! These 8 pool activities range from easy and toddler-friendly to challenging and perfect for teens.

1. Colored Water Balloons

This colorful pool activity is perfect for an inflatable pool and younger kids. Fill up your pool with a little water and a bunch of balloons with water and food coloring. Then have your kids smash the water balloons to let out the colored water! They’ll have loads of fun mixing the colors in the water and learn a little bit about color theory in the process.

2. Giant Bubbles

If you have a hula hoop and dish soap, you can create giant bubbles in your wading pool with your kids! Just mix in the dish soap with water in the pool and pull up the hula hoop to make a bubble that can get as big as your kids! Fun and easy.

3. Pool Noodle Boats

Floating boats are always fun to play with in the pool, so why not make a whole bunch of them with a pool noodle, foam sheets, and straws? If you have kids who can craft, include them when making the boats, then let them have fun in the pool. You could even host a boat race!

4. Fishing for Letters

Instill the love for fishing and learning in your toddler at a young age by playing this cute fishing game in a wading pool. Grab magnetic letters and spread them out in the pool and add other items that are water-related, such as shells, but aren’t magnetic. Stick a magnet at the end of a string on a kid’s fishing pole (or use a simple string on a stick) and have your kid fish up the letter magnets! They’ll learn what is magnetic and what isn’t and you can also practice letter recognition with them.  Older kids could even fish out letters to create words!

5. Swimming Pool Scrabble

This swimming activity is great for bigger pools and you can play it with younger kids who are beginning swimmers and/or learning their letters. Write letters on sponges with a permanent marker and throw them into the water. Have your kids swim and collect them. Depending on their age, you could have them arrange the letters in alphabetic order or create words with the sponges they collected.

6. Floating Numbers

There are many pool activities that include letters, but what about numbers? This floating numbers pool activity includes wine corks with numbers written on them. Throw them into a pool and have the kids collect them and play various math games, such as putting them in numerical order or finding only odd or even numbers.

7. F.I.S.H

Are you familiar with the HORSE game that’s played with a basketball and a hoop? The water activity FISH works in the same way. The first player starts off the game by doing a task in the water, such as doing a handstand or swimming a full lap underwater. Then the other players try to do the same activity. If someone can’t do the activity, they “earn” the first letter of FISH. Each player takes turns thinking up of a different and challenging move and the game continues until someone spells the whole word FISH first. This game is great for preteens and older kids!

8. Pool Raft Building Activity

This great team-building activity can be done with preteens and older kids. Promote critical thinking and cooperative skills by asking several kids to build a raft using pool noodles and other materials, such as soft form wire, rope, and a small hand drill. If you have a large group of kids, divide them into teams and see what kind of creations they come up with!


For more summer fun, check out 5 DIY Sprinklers to Cool Down Your Kids This Summer and 5 Backyard Activities for Lazy Summer Days.

I hope you like these water activities and that you’ll try at least one of these with your kids this summer! What other water activities do you love?


Featured image via Better Homes and Gardens.


“I’m Elisa and I live in Austin, Texas with my husband and our two little girls. I used to teach reading and writing, but now I stay at home with my two kiddos and read and write in my spare time. I also love to undertake DIY projects, find new recipes on Pinterest, and dream about someday finally completing our home. Above all, I love to learn about new things and sharing my new-found knowledge with others.”  Please check out my blog What the Vita!


25 Water-Fun Crafts and Activities Kids Will Love

 30 Water-Fun Crafts and Activities Your Kids Will Love | #waterfun #summer #watergames #summer #kids #activities


Summertime and the living is… hot!  As temps start climbing, parents everywhere look for ways to cool their kids down while still allowing them to play outdoors and run off some energy!  No one likes to be cooped up in the air conditioning all day – least of all kids.  We’ve got the big list of creative cool-down ideas for you so you can still have fun in the sun!  Take a look at these 25 water-fun crafts and activities your kids are bound to love, and start cooling off now!


1. Sponge Boats - Make and Takes


These adorable floating sail boats use three simple materials you may already have at home!  Your kids will love using them in the bathtub, wading pool or water table.  Have races, see if you can make them sink, or find little objects to take a ride!


2. Garden Hose Music – Spoonful


Find fun objects around the house that are made from different materials and are different shapes and sizes – i.e. beach ball, pie tin, cookie sheet, small plastic sheet or tarp, plastic bowls, etc. – and hang them from a fence, bush or even the back of the house.  Give the kids a hose with a nozzle attachment and let them “play” the items as musical instruments by hitting them with jets of water. They’ll love getting sprayed, hearing the music, and making up songs while you’ll love getting the bushes and lawn watered!


3. Water Bottle Raft – Crafts for Kids, PBS Parents


In a fun and thorough video tutorial, you can find all you need to create these bright and colorful rafts.  Use items from around the house, dig through your recycling and let your kids creativity run wild!  Kids will have a ball floating their rafts in the pool or lake, having races and trying to sink the rafts!


4. Water Balloon Piñata – Ziggity Zoom


This is such an easy way to have fun and cool off!  Kids love piñatas – and what’s not to love?  They get to be silly and dizzy, swing a bat around, and try to burst a hanging balloon!  And instead of candy spilling out, the kids get sprayed and splashed with spilling water.


5. Ice Pirate Ships – Pink and Green Mama for Melissa and Doug Camp Sunny Patch


These cute “ice ships” are so easy to make with your kids!  Just use some water, food coloring, small plastic animals and bendy straws to get your kids’ imaginations flowing.  Make your “ships” in plastic containers and pop them in the freezer.  Create sails with paper or craft foam to slip over the straws and you’re good to go!  Put a bunch in the wading pool, set them afloat in the water table or just have your kids push them around a metal pan of water!  The variations on this are endless!


6. Water Balloon Catch – Spoonful


Not only do you get to craft with your kids – making cute catching “buckets” out of milk jugs and ribbon – but your kids get to play a super fun game while running around expending excess energy!  Water balloons are a hit with nearly any kid, and they’ll have a blast seeing how long they can keep their balloons intact, how far they can throw them without breaking them, and trying to soak each other.  And you don’t need any fancy materials to make or play!


7. Milk Carton Boats – Ziggity Zoom


Imagination can really set sail with this fun water craft!  Build boats with juice or milk cartons!  You can use paints, markers or duct tape to decorate the boats, then make sails from straws and napkins or paper.  After completing your creations, kids can race these sail boats in pools or ponds, urging them on with lots of encouragement and some manmade wind!  Then let them play in the tub before retiring the boats in the recycling.


8. Sponge Ball - One Charming Party


These sponge balls are a must for an easy, no mess water fight!  They’re fun and simple to make with only two materials needed – sponges and dental floss (or twine).  Kids can make them with very little help and they’ll love playing with them afterwards!  Why use sponge balls for your next water fight?  No time needed for “refills”, no sting when they hit you, and no annoying plastic balloon pieces all over the yard!  (Plus, they look cute!)


9. Milk Jug Whitewater Raft – Crafts for Kids by PBS Parents


The bottom of a milk jug makes a fabulous white water raft with very little effort at all!  Watch the fun video tutorial to learn just how to cut the jug, poke holes for the “oars” and more.  Then let your kids take their lego people for a ride around the splashy wading pool!


10. Backyard Water Wall - All Parenting


This super creative discovery wall is chock full of water fun!  Let your kids help you draw up a plan and design the elements on the wall, shop the hardware store for cheap parts and pull everything together on some pegboard.  Set it up in the yard and enjoy hours of entertainment for your little ones!


11. Water Balloon Yo-Yo - kiwi crate


Your little ones will love these happy, bouncing water balloons!  Create a yo-yo with every day items in about a minute.  Easy and fun for your kids to create, playful and whimsical to use!


12. Paint With Water – The Frugal Girls


Even the toddlers can get in on the water fun!  They may not love throwing around water balloons or getting sprayed, but with some brushes, cups and water they can paint with no mess all over the pavement.  They’ll be amazed by the “magical” disappearance of their “paint” and have tons of fun!


13. Water blob - Clumsy Crafter


You may have seen this idea floating around pinterest already.  A giant “water blob” can be amazing fun for everyone!  It’s almost like a waterbed you’re actually allowed to jump on!  Let your kids help make it, then watch them perform crazy antics, jump and wiggle, roll and somersault for hours and hours of hilarious entertainment!


14. Water Bottle Rocket - Science Sparks


Use some water fun to teach science principles!  Making the rocket is half the fun – and it’s fairly easy to do with a water bottle, some paper and tape.  But kids will flip for what comes next – when they launch their very own rocket into the sky!  It’s surprisingly simple to do and doesn’t take any special equipment or know-how.  Let kids take guesses on how  high their bottles will fly.


15. Water Playdate - Sweet and Lovely Crafts


As temperatures climb, parents will jump at any opportunity to help their little ones have fun and cool down.  Why not host an entire afternoon of water fun?  Follow the link for ideas and activities to make your playdate a success.   Kids will have such a blast splish-splashing with their friends all afternoon they’ll be talking about it for months to come!


16. Simple Water Wall – Frogs, Snails and Puppy Dog Tails


This variation on a water wall uses containers you’ve already got, along with some inexpensive PVC pipes, to create some pouring and splashing fun for the littles!  If you’ve got a fence or railing on a porch or deck, you can create this version in just minutes.  You can’t beat easy, cheap and quick for a whole afternoon of engaging fun.


17. Water Arms Race - Bob Vila


All you need are watering cans or buckets with handles, water guns, and rope to play this hilariously fun water game with your kids! Divide into teams and see who can shoot their strung up bucket along the length of the rope faster!  Everyone will get soaked, and no one will keep a straight face!


18. Water Balloon Baseball - iCandy Handmade


If your kids dig baseball, this ones for you!  Try setting up batting practice, games of catch, and even sliding practice to improve their baseball skills – with a twist!  Instead of baseballs, use water balloons!  For sliding practice, set up the slip and slide.  They’ll never look at baseball the same again!


19. Water Balloon Spoon Races – Two Shades of Pink


You’ve likely seen the common egg on spoon races at picnic and outdoor parties… but have you tried it with water balloons instead? Purchase large wooden spoons at the dollar store to balance your balloons easily and see who makes it to the finish line first – without bursting their precious cargo!  Splashes and laughter guaranteed!


20. Angry Birds Water Balloon Game - No Time For Flash Cards


Anyone familiar with the popular Angry Birds app is bound to love this water balloon version!  Here you can see they drew their targets – the pigs – on the ground with chalk, but you could use balls for the bigs and set them up on tables, chairs, blocks of wood or anything really for a more 3D version too.


21. Soap Boat Races – i heart nap time


For once, kids won’t mind lathering up with soap!  Grab some cheap bars (you could even get them at the dollar store) and create boats with toothpicks and small triangles as sails. Use a plastic rain gutter and your average garden hose to make a river for your soap boat and let your kids race away!


22. Spray Away Carnival Game – Your Homebased Mom


With very little effort, you can create the base of this game with a board, golf tees and ping pong balls.  Then give your kids some squirt guns and let them have at it!  They may end up getting each other a little wet as their “aim” goes a little awry, but that’s most of the fun in this game anyway!


23.  Water Noodle Sprinkler - Ziggity Zoom


Connect a dollar store water noodle to your hose, poke some holes, hang from a tree and let loose!  As this noodles twists and turns in a wriggly, watery dance, your kids will have a ball jumping through those cooling jets!  It’s a unique take on the homemade sprinkler, and uses easy to find materials and minimal time and effort commitment.  Which is good, since you want to get to the fun part right away…


24. Colored “Glass” – Hurrayic


Make giant, brightly colored ice cubes by putting food coloring in water balloons and freezing them.  Cut away the balloon and put the “colored glass” in the wading pool with your kids!  Or set them outside and let your kids spray them with the hose and watch the colors combine.


25. Mini Water Bead Aquarium – Sweet Little Peanut


Aquariums seem to be kid magnets.  Why not make one they can actually play IN?  You can create a mini aquarium with lots of fun little sea creatures, water beads and – of course – a net to catch them all in.  It doesn’t take much, and kids will love being able to fish about in the water.  Not only does this promote discovery, curiosity, imagination and pretend play, but your kids will cool down and have a blast!


For even more water fun, be sure to check out 5 DIY Sprinklers you can make for your kids this summer!


Title image via Better Homes and Gardens.

Featured image via Sweet Little Peanut.


Kimberly Mueller is the “me” over at bugaboo, mini, mr & me, a blog that highlights her creative endeavors. She especially likes to share kid crafts, sewing attempts, recipes, upcycled projects, photography and free printable gift tags/cards. When she’s not enjoying being married to her best friend, chasing after the natives (AKA her three kids) and attempting to keep the house in one piece, you can find her with a glue gun in one hand and spray paint in the other. Aside from DIY pursuits, she also enjoys writing, reading, music, singing (mostly in the shower) and the color yellow. Kimberly recently published a craft book entitled Modern Mod Podge. You can also find her on FacebookPinterest,Bloglovin’ and Instagram. Email her at: bugabooblog(at)

8 Ideas for No-Cook Camping Breakfasts

8 ideas for easy, no cook camping breakfasts, #camping, #breakfast, #easyfood


no cook breakfasts


Cooking while camping – some love it, and some just don’t. If you tend to be on the “don’t” side of things or are just looking for some simple early-morning meals, these no-cook camping breakfasts are perfect for your next adventure in the woods. Simplify your camping trip by leaving the eggs and frying pans at home for Sunday brunch. If cooking anything but hot dogs over an open fire makes you cringe, take these 8 great ideas and get your breakfast on!


1. Yogurt parfait bar

A container of yogurt and some sliced fruit are all you need for this light and healthy camping breakfast. Layer your favorite yogurt with your favorite fruits – try peaches, strawberries, or blueberries for starters – and top it with granola for a bit of crunch.


2. Fruit and make-ahead dips

It doesn’t get much simpler than fruit for breakfast. It’s light, healthy, satisfying, and you can always choose your favorites. If plain fruit doesn’t appeal, try making this easy cherry fruit dip to go with it or this even easier two-ingredient “Strawberry Fluff” dip from Oh, Sweet Basil.


3. Cereal and milk

You heard me. Throw a box of your cereal of choice in the camper and a carton of milk in the cooler and call it good. Or, if you’ve got a crowd, try the miniature boxes in a variety pack like this  that carries a little something for everyone! Oh, and don’t forget the spoons!


4. PB&J or other simple sandwiches

It might sound like more of a mid-day meal, but nothing beats the simplicity of a sandwich. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich can easily replace toast and jam on a campout, particularly where the kids are concerned. Even your favorite sliced meats and cheeses go great with fruit.


5. Make-ahead refrigerator oatmeal

Oatmeal doesn’t have to be cooked with this great idea! Whip up a batch of refrigerator oatmeal breakfasts with this recipe from Happy Go Lucky and pack the jars in the cooler. If your group of campers enjoys trying new meals together, you might consider simply bringing the ingredients and jars along and letting everyone mix up their own the night before.


6. Tortilla roll-ups

Grab a package of flour tortillas on your way out of town and give this simple breakfast a try! Spread a tortilla with peanut butter, hazelnut spread, or cream cheese, then add bananas, strawberries, or other fruits you like.


7. Bagels, donuts, or muffins

A store-bought breakfast should never be underestimated. When the campers are hungry and anxious to start the day, you can bet they’ll be ready for anything. Bagels and cream cheese, donuts, muffins with butter, and other quick breakfast options will be welcome in the campsite. Add in a side of yogurt or fruit to round out the meal.


8. Breakfast cookies

If you’ve got the time, a couple dozen of these breakfast cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction can be made ahead and used for a quick meal while enjoying the great outdoors.  These compact finger foods are also great for hikers!


Looking for more great camping foods for your summer? Try these 8 Easy and Delicious Camping Food Ideas!

Featured image via Sally’s Baking Addiction.


Kayla Lilly is a photographer, writer, wife, and mama making a house a home in eastern Idaho. She met her mister while working at an amusement park and married him a year later after deciding there was no way to live without him. The amusement has continued as they’ve added three kids and a passel of pets to their lives while finishing college and starting a photography business. Drawing inspiration from the whirlwinds of marriage, parenthood, and the media, Kayla blogs at, and spends the rest of her time chasing chickens, organizing junk drawers, diapering toddlers, and photographing everyone willing to step in front of her lens.

How To: Camp With Kids (8 Tips for Success)

camp with kids

camping with kids title
Now that summer is here, it’s time to pack up the gear and head into the woods for a night of camping. With young kids though, a little more is involved to guarantee a successful  camping trip. With a little preparation and some advance planning, the whole family will enjoy this adventure into the outdoors. Here are 8 tips for success when you camp with kids.


1. Read a good book.

A few days before the camping trip prepare your young kids for what the outing will be like by reading a few books. Some good ones to try are S Is for S’mores: A Camping Alphabet, Camp Out!: The Ultimate Kids’ Guide, The Camping Trip that Changed America, or Curious George Goes Camping


2. Stake the tent in the back yard first.

Ease into this adventure by starting out slow. For the first excursion, keep it close to home. Set up the tent in your backyard so the kids can get used to the idea of camping, but the comforts of home are only a few short steps away.


3. Make a Check List

After a successful backyard camping excursion, the kids will be ready to venture out into the wild. Just make sure YOU are prepared, too, by making a check list.  Confirm that you have everything you need. Be sure to include tents, bedding, clothes, toiletry items, cooking supplies, food and water. Also, the list should include all things related to activities you plan to do while camping – like fishing gear.


4. Bring a first aid kit

Include a first aid kit with your camping gear, because you never know if it might be needed. A well stocked first aid kit includes medical tape, antibiotic wipes and creams, bandages, burn ointment, eye wash, hydrogen peroxide, pain relievers, scissors, snake bite kit, insect repellent, sterile gauze, sunburn lotion, sunscreen and tweezers.  You’ll feel more at ease knowing you can take care of your kids if needed.


5. Pick easy foods

Bring food that is easy to prepare. Hot dogs are always a big hit when roasted over a camp fire. And of course,  S’mores are a must have for any camping trip with young kids. Be sure that all food is stored in waterproof bags or containers and kept in an insulated cooler. Insure that food is cooked to the proper temperature. Also, bring plenty of drinking water if a reliable, clean source will not be available at the camping site.


6. Wear the right things

Dress appropriately for a trip into the woods with long pants and long sleeved shirts. Also, include a wide-brimmed hat to minimize exposure to the sun’s rays. Kids can get cold easily, so bring extra sweatshirts or jackets for cooler nights. And as much fun as it is to run barefoot through the grass, it’s best to keep shoes on the whole time since there are lots of things in the woods that can injure unprotected feet. Hiking boots are great for long walks, swim socks can be used when swimming in a lake or stream, and flip-flops are appropriate for hanging out at the camp site.


7. Be aware of potential harm

While camping can be fun, there are still a few things to be wary of.  Show young kids how to avoid poisonous plants such as poison ivy or berries they might want to eat. Also, teach them that they cannot approach wild animals or attempt to feed them. The animals might look cute, but they can be unpredictable, territorial and protective.  Go over camp rules ahead of time and reinforce them once at camp.


8. Plan Up-Past-Bedtime Activities

Of course this camping trip with young kids is supposed to be fun, so plan in advance a few activities for when the sun goes down. Flashlights can easily be used for a great game of tag. Singing or telling stories (not too scary) around the campfire are always a must for any camping trip. End the evening with some star gazing. There are always so many more stars to see away from the bright city lights.


Hopefully with the completion of a successful first camping trip, your young kids will be begging to do this get-away again soon!


Photo Source:


I’m Frances. I am a mother, a wife, and a community volunteer. I work as a scientist by day and moonlight as a blogger. Making lists helps me keep everything on track. While I have a good life, there is always room for improvement. Join me as I decorate, organize, and try new things over at my blog Improvement List.

7 Tips to Make Camping Easier

7 tips to make camping easier, #camping, #summertime, #campingtips

tips to make camping easier

Summertime, the weather is fine, and it’s time to head into the great outdoors. But the outdoors can be anything but great without the proper preparation and organization for your group.  If you’re in charge of this year’s camping adventure, use these 7 tips to plan ahead, turn camping into “glamping,” and ensure that this summer’s wilderness vacation will be the best ever!


1. Prepare ahead of time. Anything that takes a while to do at home will take even longer when you’re camping if you don’t have the right gear! Consider setting up tents and other gear at home to check for broken zippers, holes, and missing parts that might really ruin your campout. Make-aheads like these DIY firestarters are definitely worth the prep time. Consider bringing glowsticks or even solar-powered stake lights to make it easier for everyone to find their way around tent stakes and long anchor cords that always seem to trip people up. Old rugs or pieces of carpet can be placed outside tents to keep dirt inside to a minimum. Extra tarps, garbage bags, and sturdy rope and string also come in handy more often than not. Use this basic camping checklist if you’re not quite sure what else you might need.


2. Organize, organize, and stay organized. The organization should begin as you pack for your trip. Try to use boxes or bins that will stack together well and take up the least amount of space possible. Pack the paper plates, cups, and utensils in one box. Pack the cooking tools in another. Pack bug sprays, sunscreens, and first-aid gear together. Pack foods like chips and bread that don’t require refrigeration in the same box.  You might even go so far as to create a small box of supplies for each of the meals you have planned. Organize and pack in a way that makes sense to you, because you will most likely be the one that everyone will run to when they need something.


3. Designate areas within your campsite for different “stations.” Handwashing, food preparation, cooking, first aid, drink, and snack stations are just a few suggestions. Take into account that you probably don’t want high-traffic stations near food prep or first aid areas, as these places require a certain amount of sanitation. Food prep and cooking areas may be best kept under a canopy or within a shelter of some kind to reduce the amount of insects, animals, and dirt.


4. Institute some “camp rules.” Especially if you’ve got a large group, are camping with small children, or are near water, you’ll want to let everyone know what to expect from the get-go. Does everyone have a “buddy?” Do the kids know water safety rules? Is the group aware of hazardous plant and animal life around your campsite? Make sure the rules are clear and be consistent so that everyone stays safe.


5. Establish a “restroom” if there are no man-made facilities at your campsite. Chances are, this is one of the first things your campers will need! Always check the waste disposal requirements for your area before you hit the road – you may be required to remove all waste or at least any toilet paper that may be used. In general, you should select a spot at least 200 feet from water, camp, and hiking trails to avoid contamination and plain old nastiness. Dig a hole with a shovel or rock and use it as your toilet, burying the waste afterwards. If you plan to be in your campsite for long, you may want to use a shovel to dig a deep hole to be used by your group for the entire trip. A hanging tarp or an old sheet can serve as an extra privacy measure if bushes aren’t enough. When the trip is over, top the hole off with dirt. Other campers will thank you.


6. Keep the meals basic. It can be tempting to try to feed your campers the same way you would at home, and there are lots of “camping recipes” that seem easy enough, but try to think ahead. Keeping ingredients and pre-made items cold enough can be tough if all you’ve got is a cooler, and refrigerators in RVs and campers are usually limited in space. The preparation and cleanup required for meals can be messy and time consuming when you’re out in the wilderness. Consider making a simple menu with lots of pre-packaged and easy to store items, and don’t be afraid of old camp favorites like sandwiches, hot dogs, and pre-made tinfoil dinners like these.


7.  Plan simple entertainments for kids. The wonders of the outdoors will keep them busy for quite a while, but there’s sure to come a time during your campout that the kids need something new to do. Bringing tons of toys and books from home takes up a lot of storage space and you can bet they’ll come home with camp grime on them. Inspire the kids with some simple nature crafts instead, like these 10 No-Fuss Camping Crafts for Kids, or hold a camping scavenger hunt!


Remember that your area’s weather, your family’s needs, and the activities you enjoy together while camping make a big difference when it comes to getting the most out of the experience. Use these tips and add to them to make your campout unique and special to you! And if you’re looking for more great ideas to make camping easier and more fun, try these tips from Remodelaholic!


Featured Image via Kayla Lilly


Kayla Lilly is a photographer, writer, wife, and mama making a house a home in eastern Idaho. She met her mister while working at an amusement park and married him a year later after deciding there was no way to live without him. The amusement has continued as they’ve added three kids and a passel of pets to their lives while finishing college and starting a photography business. Drawing inspiration from the whirlwinds of marriage, parenthood, and the media, Kayla blogs at, and spends the rest of her time chasing chickens, organizing junk drawers, diapering toddlers, and photographing everyone willing to step in front of her lens.