Category Archives: Family

Operation Christmas Child Ideas

kids holding plastic shoeboxes. This post give the best Operation Christmas Child Ideas!

Every November is collection week for Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes. (We had much younger kids in this post! Man, where does time go?!) Summer and fall is the perfect time to start thinking of Operation Christmas Child ideas.

[Having your child/family participate in child sponsorship through an organization like Compassion or World Vision is also a great way to build an ongoing relationship and come along side a family in another country.]

I love how simple this project is and how involved children can be.

Each child can put together a shoebox for a child their same age and gender and give ideas and input for what is going into the box.

Operation Christmas Child Ideas

Earning Money:

This is a great project to have your children earn extra money for and purchase themselves. If your children are young, you could match what they earn so they will have enough.

Small Jobs:

Find small jobs that don’t normally get done around your house and set a pay for each of them and give your children the list. They learn to work and how earning money works and you get a few extra jobs done.

Bake Sale/Lemonade Stand:

Another idea would be to have a bake sale/lemonade stand on your corner or as part of a garage sale and have the profits go toward the Operation Christmas Child Boxes.

Operation Christmas Child Box Ideas:

After the money is earned, you have to come up with what exactly to put into a small box. Of course Samaritan’s Purse has ideas for you on their website.

Be sure you remember: no liquids, toothpaste, candy/food, war themed toys, or breakable items.

Not knowing where your box will be going to can make a little difficult to buy for. You don’t know the weather or any cultural differences. If you know where you box is heading you’ll know if you can include things like scarves and gloves.

I imagine that kids will be kids throughout the world, though, so what your children are into is probably a good starting point.

The following list of Operation Christmas ideas consists of options for boys and girls and the littles to the older kids. A mixture of fun and practical is a good idea. And I know my kids love receiving “real” grown up things. Tools are a fun idea for any hands on, creative kid.

Fun/Toy Items:
Blocks
Legos
Art/Drawing Supplies
Dolls
Stuffed Animals
Small, real, musical instrument (some things just aren’t worth getting at the dollar store)
Trucks
Balls (deflate the ball and include a ball pump with extra needles)
Clothes (fun depending on the age 😉 )
Puzzles
Frisbee
Etch-a-Sketch
Coloring Books (age appropriate)
Marbles
Dominos
Jump Ropes

Personal Items:
Toothbrush (no toothpaste)
Hair Accessories
Soap (packaged in zipped bags to keep the smell contained)
Brush/comb
Shirt
Socks
Sandals
Washcloth/Towel
Nail Clipper
Blanket (small, lightweight especially since it may be going to a warm weather location)
Watch
Accessories
Draw String Bag
Coin Purse
Ball Cap
Sunglasses

Other Items:
Sewing Kit and Fabric
Solar Powered Lanterns
First Aid Kit (without medicine or liquids)
Screwdrivers (Head to Lowe’s or Home Depot for this and the following items)
Nails (in their package)
Level
Work gloves
Hammer
Bungee Cords
Rope/Twine
Duct Tape
Tape Measure

School Supplies:
Watch the back to school sales every July and August. It’s a great time to stock up on most of these things. For example, Crayola crayons are much nice than the dollar store ones and you’d be able to purchase them for the same price during the sales.

Backpack
Scissors
Crayons
Markers
Paints
Colored Pencils
Erasers
Pens & Pencils
Pencil Sharpener
Paper/notebook/journal
Ruler
Stapler
Calculator
Tape

I love starting early in the season focusing on others, and this is an easy way to do it.

There are over 55 Operation Christmas Child ideas to help you pack your box this year. Have you done the shoeboxes with your kids before? Any favorite packing ideas to share?

Gifts for Kids Who Have Everything

Do you struggle with coming up with gift ideas for the kids in your life? Do you especially struggle with coming up with gifts for kids who have everything?

wrapped boxes taking about the best gifts for kids who have everything

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You are not alone! So many kids have the latest and greatest gadgets and everything that they could wish for. It definitely makes it a challenge to go shopping.

It’s time to start thinking a little outside of the box!

If presents are a problem at your house during the Christmas season, you might even want to consider de-emphasizing gifts this holiday season!

Gifts for Kids Who Have Everything

Experience Gifts

An experience gift is a great option. You can create memories with the recipient or they can create them alone. This could be anything from a fun adventure to learning a new skill.

This post has some great ideas for experience gifts.

Money

No kid will ever turn down money. Perfect for them to spend or put towards a savings goal. If you are looking for a unique way to gift money, check out these posts!

Gift Cards

If you know restaurants, stores, hobbies, etc that the child likes, you can pick up a gift card or two! Here are some ideas on how you can wrap a gift card to make things a little more interesting.

Shop for Others

Only you know the recipient and if this idea would work for them. But if their personality and the situation is ideal, this is a fun idea if they truly don’t want or need anything. Instead of spending the money on them, you can either donate in their name or, better yet, give them a budget and let them help you shop and donate the items.

Here are some places to look into:

World Vision and shop their online catalog

Angel Tree or another similar organization

Pregnancy Center – donate cash or buy items for their clothing room

Book

Think back to when you were the recipient’s age and what your favorite books were. Purchase the book and include a card saying why you purchased that particular book for them and what you enjoyed about it.

Themed Gift

Put together a bundle of goodies according to a theme.

It might be craft supplies, coffees, food, game night fun, rock climbing, cooking essentials or one of many other things. Gather the must haves and put them in a basket or bucket to gift.

Mission Trip

What a great idea for a teenager! This can get pricey, so it’s probably not the best option if you are on a budget. There would be a lot of details to this, so it might not work for it to be a complete surprise but how fun. If you aren’t the parent, you could coordinate with the parent before gifting the money for a mission trip and then work out when, where, and with what organization after giving the gift.

Sentimental Gift

Is there something special to your child, something that belonged to a grandparent or another important person in their life? If they are mature enough to appreciate it, this gift might be treasured for the rest of their life!

Have you found any great gift for kids who have everything? Do presents end up being a struggle in your house year after year or have you found a method that works well?

Be sure to check out these other gift guides for more ideas:

Best Experience Gifts for Kids
Educational Gifts Kids Will be Excited About
The Best Craft and Art Gifts for Kids
Gifts for Kids Who Have Everything
Gifts for Teen Girls
Gifts for Teen Boys
Gifts for Preschool Boy
Gifts for a 2 Year Old
Gifts for Preschoolers
Gifts for a Home Cook
Gifts for a Fitness Lover

smiling girl next to tree and gifts for kids who have everything

square picture of wrapped boxes for gifts for kids who have everything
smiling girl next to tree and gifts for kids who have everything

Thanksgiving Tradition Ideas Your Family Will Love

Thanksgiving. What comes to mind when you think of the holiday? For me I think of family, food, being grateful, travel, cool weather, beautiful leaves, cranberry salad. What Thanksgiving tradition ideas do you have?
dinner plate setting and the ultimate list of Thanksgiving tradition ideas

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If I’m honest, I am a bit torn when it comes to traditions. On one side, you know what to expect, the kids love it and look forward to them, it’s easy to plan. On the other side I don’t like always having to do the same thing.

I guess my balance is traditions that are held lightly. Traditions that we can take a year off of or tweak if needed.

Traditions that work for our family.

If you are looking to tweak your Thanksgiving traditions or add some new ones, I have a great list of Thanksgiving tradition ideas for your inspiration!

pile of pumpkins and the best Thanksgiving tradition ideas

Thanksgiving Tradition Ideas

Writable Tablecloth

Whether you get a cloth table cloth you reuse each year or simply cover your tables with butcher paper, have sharpies, pencils, or crayons available for everyone to write down one thing they were thankful for the past year. If you use the cloth cloth, have everyone initial and put the year next to their item.

Thanksgiving Tree

Gather some sticks and arrange them in a vase to make your Th. Set out a basket with leaves cut out of paper and some yarn. Again have everyone record what they were thankful for the last 12 months and hang on the tree. At some point during the evening someone can read them aloud.

Write Cards

Take a moment on Thanksgiving to have everyone write a card (or draw a picture) to let someone know how much you appreciate them.

Say What You are Thankful For

Go around the dinner table and have each person say 1-3 things they are grateful for from the last year.

Activity Sheets for the Kids

Set out different activity sheets for your kids to work on through out the day. It will help the times of waiting go a little more smoothly. Perfect quiet, not messy activity for when the kids are getting a little rambunctious. Here are some ideas.

Games for the Kids

Take sometime for fun and giggles. Plan a few special games for the kids (and adults even) to enjoy. You can find lots of ideas online!

New Dish Every Year

This would be so much fun! Something new and probably nontraditional making an appearance each November. If your Thanksgiving involves multiple families, I think it would be fun to rotate who brings the “surprise” dish each year.

Volunteer

Spend a part of your day volunteering. Look around your town for organization that serve Thanksgiving meals and see if they need help. Growing up we volunteered at a local church that served a meal in their facility and delivered meals to people that were working or home bound. We loved it!

Take a Walk

Spend 30 minutes or even an hour an a stroll around your neighborhood sometime after your meal is eaten and the kitchen is cleaned. As simple as it is, I can remember this happening in my home growing up.

Movie Theater

Going to the movies was a rare occurrence in my family. We did this once when I was still home and I’m pretty sure they have done it since I’ve been married. It was special enough that I even what movie we watched! (Treasure Planet, in case you are remembering.)

Pizza

Okay, it doesn’t have to be pizza but there’s nothing wrong with not having a turkey dinner. Mix it up an do the traditional feast one year and something completely different the next. Pizza and ice cream always seems like a good option though. 🙂 One year it was just my husband and 2 kids for Thanksgiving and we had fajitas.

Visit the Nursing Home

There are people in the nursing home with no family coming to see them for the holiday. Spend a little bit of time wishing the residents of your local nursing home happy thanksgiving. Have the kids draw pictures to give away.

Watch a Thanksgiving Movie

Instead of going to the theater put a BluRay in at home and let the kids relax for a while. There’s always A Charlie Brown Christmas or Miracle on 34th Street. 😉

Read Thanksgiving Books

Books are the best. Read aloud a few picture books – even over breakfast in the morning. I’m a fan of Read Aloud Revival, so be sure to check out this post for some great ideas!

Trivia

Have a little fun with a trivia game (and probably learn something while you are at it)! While you are preparing the questions for one year I’d go ahead and make them for the next few years. It won’t take much longer and your can separate out the questions into a list for each year. Check out these lists for some ideas.

Turkey Trot

I’ve only actually done this once, but it was so much fun! Cold and exciting. It was nice to start a day that involves so much food and sitting with some physical exertion. If you live (or travel to) an area with a Thanksgiving morning race, I highly recommend you give it a try.

There are just 16 Thanksgiving tradition ideas out of countless options. You can get as creative as you want.

I’m curious, what fun Thanksgiving traditions do you have in your family? Are you going to try any of these Thanksgiving tradition ideas this year?

fall tree and the ultimate list of Thanksgiving tradition ideas! pile of pumpkins and the best Thanksgiving tradition ideas

Educational Gifts for Kids That They Will Be Excited About

Christmas and birthdays are filled with all sorts of excitement and fun toys and gadgets. Isn’t it nice when you know that those presents will also be stretching their brain? Educational gifts for kids are the perfect solutions.

chalkboard and globe with list of educational toys for kids

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This list of educational gifts for kids is full of ones that they will even be excited about!

So many presents turn into clutter. These will be ones they will use again and again. I love the one time use kits too because they learn and have fun while putting the project together and then shortly after that you can dispose of it, not feeling bad. 😉 (Just don’t tell my kids that.)

Educational Gifts for Kids

1. Dinosaur Fossil Dig Kit

This would be a hit with both my son and my daughter. Anything dinosaur is a guaranteed home run.

2. Nature’s Explorer Kit

Perfect for your young kids who like exploring in the back yard. They will spend hours finding everything there is to see.

3. SmartyPants

Your kindergartner will think it’s cool to be called a SmartyPants as they go through the fun activities on these cards.

5. 3D Walking Dinosaur Puzzle

How cool is this? I’m telling you, it will be a winner for the dinosaur and puzzle lover. (Don’t exclude your girls from all things dinosaurs and science! My daughter loves both and wonders why dino’s are only marketed to boys.)

6. Pop Can Robot

My nephew received one of these for his birthday and I got to assist him with putting it together. He was so proud when it went moving across the floor.

7. Snap Circuits

Designed for ages 8+, they will love building burglar alarms and even a radio. Such a fun hands on way to learn about circuits.

8. Brain Builders

This game for ages 7+ will have your brain learning to go from a 2D pattern to 3D!

9. K’nex

K’nex takes building to a whole new level. So fun!

Be sure to check out the rest that K’NEX has. So many super cool looking sets!

10. Microscope

A present that you will also be able to use for school. Your child will have a blast using the included slides and finding numerous things around your house to inspect (maybe even the mold in that container that’s been in the fridge too long).

11. Bananagrams

Have some fun with words!

12. Science Kit

The young scientists in your house will find these kits amazing. My 5 and 7 year old love them.

13. Coding

Coding and a robot – a fun combination. This particular kit doesn’t require a phone or tablet.

14. Magnetic Tiles

A fun building toy that’s different than Legos. I love that it’s okay for ages 3 and up.

15. Gravity Maze

A logic game and marble run for ages 8 and up.

16. Geode Kit

You know it’s going to be a good gift when you get to break something. 🙂

17. Sleuth Kit

Pretend you are a detective and learn some new skills while you are at it.

18. Human Body

This is recommended for ages 8-16. A fun way to learn about the human body.

19. Shape Sorter

The best toddler toys are also educational. Melissa and Doug products are always a favorite.

20. Doctor Kit

Another great idea for the toddlers to elementary age children in your house. There’s always something fun about doctor kits for kids.

21. Brickyard Building Blocks

This comes with building ideas from ages 3 to 7+!

22. Cash Register

Everyone needs to learn about money and every child loves to play cashier.

23. Puzzles

Puzzles are a skill all kids need to learn. My children started with these large Melissa and Doug puzzles. There are so many options, but here are a couple:

This extensive list of educational toys for kids (that they will actually be excited to receive) will make gift giving easier for you this year!

What are the favorite educational toys that you have in your house? I’m always looking for new ideas!

 

Be sure to check out these other gift guides for more ideas:

Best Experience Gifts for Kids
Educational Gifts Kids Will be Excited About
The Best Craft and Art Gifts for Kids
Gifts for Kids Who Have Everything
Gifts for Teen Girls
Gifts for Teen Boys
Gifts for Preschool Boy
Gifts for a 2 Year Old
Gifts for Preschoolers
Gifts for a Home Cook
Gifts for a Fitness Lover

toy robot and list of educational gifts for kids chalkboard and list of educational gifts for kids square graphic with chalkboard and globe. educational gifts for kids

Halloween Alternatives for Families

Halloween alternatives.

Let’s talk for a minute.

I know this subject can be controversial: Is trick or treating okay or not okay? Are substitutes okay?

jack-o-lantern and fun halloween alterntaives

In Christian circles, this topic is touchy with lots of opinions and thoughts.

Today, though, we aren’t going to get into all of that. Instead, I want to share with you some Halloween Alternatives you can do with your kids.

If you do Halloween the traditional way and Trick or Treat, some of these might be a fun addition.

Halloween Alternatives:

jack o lantern and list of fun halloween alternatives

Trunk or Treat

I guarantee that there are numerous churches in you area that put on a truck or treat or some sort of fall carnival. Check out their Facebook pages, community Facebook pages, or your local Christian radio station to find them.

Harvest Party

Again, this is something I’ve seen done by churches and individuals. Host a fall themed party. Have a bonfire or the grill going. Roast hot dogs, grill some burgers, have the ingredients for s’mores and invite your friends for an evening to just hang out. Have everyone help by bringing food.

Family Game Night

My kids love games and would jump at a chance to do this. Let everyone in your family pick a game and rotate through them. Of course, have plenty of yummy snacks instead of a regular supper and this idea will be a home run.

Movie and Popcorn

Another family favorite here. How can you go wrong with popcorn and a movie? Throw in some ice cream and I’d be even happier. 🙂 Growing up we always watched a movie as a family in my parent’s bedroom and indulged in once a year foods. We loved it.

Eat Out

If you never eat out, this can be a fun idea. I can remember one time we met up with friends at a local restaurant for Halloween. Because eating out was a rare occurrence, we thought it was super neat.

Pumpkin Carving Party

Knives, pumpkin guts, creativity. Have a pumpkin carving party with your family or invite some friends to join you. I could see this being something your family looked forward to year after year.

Pumpkin Themed Games

Do these alone or in addition to any of the other ideas. Surprise your kids with just how many fun pumpkin games you can come up with. Younger kids would especially like this idea, but there are some games that would work for older kids. Here are two posts to give you some ideas.

Escape Room

This idea would be perfect to do when you have teens in the house. As much fun for them as it would be for the parents. Full disclosure, I have yet to do one. I’m a little scared of failing the puzzle.

Fall Themed Potluck

Anything done with food and friends is better, right? Send out a bunch of texts, group email, or start a Facebook event. Host a fall themed potluck at your house and everyone brings their fall favorites.

Go Treating

Everyone goes trick or treating on Halloween. Do the opposite. Put together some treat bags and go to peoples’ homes and pass them out. Such a fun idea to do with people you know, neighbors, and strangers.

Fall Crafts

SO many cute ideas out there for kids. My kindergartner and 2nd grader love all things craft. Here are three posts to give you lots of ideas for children.

For teens and adults, check out this list. So much cuteness!

Chili Cook off

We come back to foods and friends once again. This time you get to throw a little competition into the mix. 🙂 Be sure to have slips of paper so everyone can vote. If you can find them locally for a good price, mini styrofoam tasting cups like these are a lot of fun!

Decorate for Thanksgiving

If you haven’t decorated yet, Halloween would be the perfect night to get out your decorations (maybe even make some new ones) and Thanksgiving-fy your house. Of course food should be involved here too. 🙂

So many fun ideas. Try a few out and pick some to be a new tradition for your family. If you don’t trick or treat, I have a feeling your kids won’t miss it much at all.

Do you have any unique and fun Halloween alternatives to share?

pumpkin and fall leaves talking about fun halloween alternatives pumpkin in field and list of halloween alternatives

The Best Fall Activities for Kids

It’s my favorite time of year! I love all things autumn, including thinking about an exhaustive list of fun (and easy) fall activities for kids – AKA a fall bucket list!

picture of pumpkin patch on list of fun fall activities for kids and 3 free printables

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Fall to me means cool evenings and mornings along with the perfect daytime temperatures. It’s when I can make soups frequently and baking calls my name. The trees paint beautiful pictures. All things pumpkin are celebrated.

It just makes me excited.

Autumn is also the perfect time of year to purposefully have a little fun and make memories with your children using a fall bucket list.

road with fall leaves on list of fall activities to do with kids

Isn’t it easy to get caught up in to-do lists and the chaos of life? Having a list and plan can help me slow down and enjoy life and my kids more.

They don’t even have to be big, expensive things on your list. Take the time to appreciate and get in the moment of even the little things. Your kids will love you for it.

If you are overwhelmed at the thought of just one more thing, pick just 4 and do one a week. See if you can turn something you have to do anyway (being in the kitchen) into a fall theme.

I’m all about simple, but there is nothing wrong with being elaborate and doing it all. We each need to do what works for our families.

Pumpkin patch on list of fun fall activities for kids and 3 free printables

Fall Activities for Kids

Have a taste testing of several apple varieties

Make apple crisp, bread, muffins, pie, bars, or cobbler

Make apple cider

Make applesauce

Make dried apples

Go to an apple orchard

Make pumpkin puree from scratch

Roast the seeds from the pumpkin

Make pumpkin bread, muffins, cookies, or pie

Deliver a fall baked good to a neighbor or shut in

Carve a pumpkin

Visit a pumpkin patch

Go on a hayrack ride

Corn maze

Make chili

Have a soup potluck at your house

Take a hike in a nature park

Drive to see the colorful leaves

Make hot chocolate and star gaze

Have smores

Leaf prints. Try one  of these

Jump in a leaf pile

Rake leaves for someone who can’t

Practice drawing autumn trees and leaves

Do a fall science experiment

Stovetop popcorn

Fall movie (Charlie Brown Thanksgiving or Great Pumpkin or maybe a football movie like Rudy)

Fall themed book. Here’s a great list of picture books. For a chapter book try this one or Read Aloud Revival recommends this one.

Go on a picnic

Feed the ducks

Fly a kite

Attend a football game

Start a Thankful tree

Pumpkin Spice playdough

Camp out in the backyard

Switch over the clothes

Mail an “I’m thankful for you card”

Pumpkin on list of fun fall activities to do with kids!

Isn’t the idea of a Fall Bucket List fun?!

What have I missed? Do you have any favorite fun (maybe even easy and frugal) fall activities for kids I should add to the list? Have you done a fall bucket list before?

There’s no way we will get all of these done, but I’m confident that numerous ones will happen. 🙂

Pictures of 3 free printables on list of fun fall bucket list for kids

I’ve made a few printables for a fall bucket list in my resource library. One has every one of these ideas on it and another is blank so you can include exactly what you want – after all, you want to enjoy fall not be stressed out! You can get access to them for free when you sign up for my newsletter!

Pumpkin patch on list of fun fall activities for kids and 3 free printables

Easy Ways to Avoid Raising Ungrateful Children

Do you ever wonder if you are raising ungrateful children? Our kids have long lists of wants. Wants that they think are needs. My kids have all their needs met and have so many extras yet they still complain about what they don’t have.

picture of boy jumping with text that says easy ways to raise grateful children

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What are some easy ways to avoid raising ungrateful children?

I’m learning as I go. My children are still young. I don’t know what I am doing. If it makes you feel better, Kristin Welch at We Are That Family says that the secret to raising grateful kids doesn’t exist. (Bummer, I know!)

Yet I do know I want to raise grateful children. I do know I get tired of hearing “I wants” and that what they have is not enough in their little minds.

Thankfully, I think as parents there are some simple things we can do to help cultivate gratitude in our children.

7 Ways to Avoid Raising Ungrateful Children:

1. Serve

Isn’t there something about serving that takes your eyes off of yourself? Be there for those around you. Serve not only financially but also with your time. Have your kids be very involved in the process.

Here are some simple ideas to get you started:

  • Making cookies for someone that recently had a loss
  • Delivering a meal for a family after a surgery
  • Doing yard work for an individual who can’t
  • Volunteering at a refugee center, homeless shelter, or crisis pregnancy center

2. Don’t Give Your Children Everything

Just because your child wants something, doesn’t mean you need to buy it for them! It might feel mean to say no when all of their friends have it but it’s okay to tell your child “no, you aren’t old enough or it’s not appropriate” or “you are right, that sounds like a lot of fun. If you want it, you will have to save up for it”.

When you work hard for something, it’s tends to be appreciated (and taken care of) a lot more. It will also help your children learn that money doesn’t magically appear – they learn and appreciate its value.

Not only will your kids be grateful for their prized item when they save up and make the purchase, they will also be more grateful in the future for things that are given them.

3. Gratitude List

Anyone else guilty of sometimes forgetting the big picture? Of sometimes only seeing the negative and stressful moments? I know it can’t just be me. Our kids are the same way! Having a gratitude list is a great way to help change their mindset and how they view life.

Buy a simple notebook for everyone in your house and challenge them to start writing down 2 or 3 things they are thankful for everyday. Even the little ones can get involved – have them dictate to you their “thankfuls”. You can also print off one of the free gratitude printables in the resource library you receive access to as a subscriber!

4. Thank You Cards

Did you grow up writing thank you cards? Keep the tradition going with your kids! After their birthdays and Christmas have them sit down and write (or draw) notes before they spend the money or use the gifts. My mom was great about doing this with us. I’ve tried to continue doing it with my children. I need to work on being a little more prompt with it. Thank you cards months late just aren’t quite the same.

5. Ditch the Media

Companies everywhere are trying to get our kids to want to have (have to have) their products! If the “gimmes” and “I wants” are a big problem in your house, consider how much screen time they have. Commercials, YouTube channels, ads on electronic devices, and kids’ shows can all contribute to the need for more. Limiting media might also just help your kids enjoy and utilize the toys they do have!

6. Read the News

Read the news with your kids or give age appropriate summaries. Learn about other countries and cultures around the world. Being aware of the world outside of their own community broadens their horizons and gives them a bigger picture. Learning about natural disasters and fighting in another country suddenly makes your want seem not quite as important.

7. Leading by Example

This is a little scary, isn’t it? Our kids are watching us and how we react. If we change our tune and start responding to circumstances differently, they probably will too.

As parents, do we have to have the latest and greatest gadgets, best vacations, nice cars or are we content with what we have now? Are we okay with taking the time to save up for a purchase?

Instead of seeing the glass half empty, purpose to look for the little glimmers of hope, the gifts in our lives, and all that we have to be grateful for even when life isn’t going the way we want. What an example we would be to our children.

We need to give thanks in everything. Not just the good, not just the exciting. Not just when life is going well. Even when it’s a struggle to find one thing to be thankful for.

When we do, and we let our children hear us give thanks, we are influencing them and how they respond. How can we do that – give thanks even in the bad? There’s only one way – looking to Jesus. Our joy has to be found in Him.

What ways have you found to avoid raising ungrateful children?

Don’t forget to check out the resource library for the free gratitude template downloads!

If you want to read an entire book on this subject, check out this one by Kristin Welch:

picture of balloon with chair and text about ways to avoid raising ungrateful children

picture of table with journal and text about ways to avoid raising ungrateful children

Easy First Day of School Activities

Can it really be that time of the summer where we are thinking of first day of school activities?

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Time flies. This year I will have one in a 2nd grade and one in kindergarten and one that specializes in making messes. 🙂 Kids like routines and they like having things to look forward to, so having a few fun first day of school traditions up your sleeve will have them excited.

I’m all about keeping things easy (I need easy to make sure I can keep up with them each year) and frugal, so these first day of school activities will be both of those things.

Since we homeschool, these ideas for the first day of school will work for public, private, and homeschooler. Perfect!

First Day of School Activities

Breakfast for Dinner

The night before school starts, have a breakfast feast! You don’t want to spend your first morning of school rushed, so this is a perfect way to sit down and have time to enjoy the breakfast foods you would have made.

Some ideas:

  • A pancake bar with assorted toppings (fruits, chocolate chips, nuts etc). Pancakes could even be shaped into the number of each child’s grade.
  • Cinnamon rolls, bacon, and eggs
  • Breakfast Casserole and Fruit
  • French Toast
  • Yogurt bar

Afternoon Cookies

Make up a batch of  your favorite cookies to celebrate the completion of day 1! You really can’t get much easier than that. Making the dough a day or two before and sticking it in the fridge makes the process even simpler. If you want dairy and gluten free, try these peanut butter cookies or these chocolate chip oatmeal cookies are also yummy!

Pictures

You knew this was going to make the list. 🙂 Find a chalkboard, or small dry erase board, or printable and and find a place to take a picture. For printables, check out this one or this one that’s customizable.

Questionnaire

If it’s hard for you to keep up with remembering to do these on birthdays or over the busy holidays, make them a part of your first day of school traditions! Here are a few that I found and liked – this one and this one are great all about me printables. I also really liked this interview worksheet.

Fun Breakfast

I know we already talked about doing breakfast for dinner the night before so come up with a super simple idea for the actual breakfast. Jessica Fisher does a slab apple pie for breakfast every year. If you are like our family, you don’t buy packaged foods – so a box of granola bars or cereal could be a fun treat. Or a box of donuts. Or leftovers from the night before. 😉

Measuring Chart

This is another one of those things I never seem to remember to do. Line up your children and see how much they grew in the past year. I’m loving this removable one I found on Amazon! Don’t want to leave it out all the time, no problem.

Kids Choose Dinner

Let the kids pick dinner for the night. If you think they’ll blow the budget, give them a dollar amount if they are older or help guide them if they are little.

Saturday Fun

The Saturday before school starts, pack up and have a little more summer fun. Try the beach, pool, or hiking and make an afternoon or even day out of it.

Write a Note

Write each of your kids a note for their first day and stick it in their lunch, inside a school book, or in the front of their notebook.

Homeschool Bonus First Day of School Ideas:

Two more ideas that will probably only work for the homeschoolers out there:

PJ Day

Celebrate by letting your kids do school in their PJs. My kids would think that’s the coolest! I know there’s the stereotype that homeschoolers stay in the pajamas, but that’s not how it works in my house so it would be a fun (and looked forward to) treat.

Picnic Lunch

Whether you go to the park or simply to the backyard, make lunch a little special by turning it into a picnic. If your kids already completed their work, it will be a celebration. If they are still in the thick of it, it will be a fun and needed mental break.

What are your favorite first day of school activities?

Super easy, last minute, and frugal first day of school activities you need to check out. Your kids will love doing these traditions year after year.

Can’t Afford a Vacation? Ideas for Family Fun on a Budget

How to have family fun on a budget even when you can't afford a vacation. Get out there and make memories with your kids.

During summer and fall months, Facebook and Instagram feeds are filled with pictures and stories of amazing looking family vacations.

“Some years the budget doesn’t allow for a short trip let alone the vacation you’ve always dreamed of taking your kids on. It might be easy to feel mom guilt over not being able to give your kids that trip – but there’s no reason to!!! Instead, focus on the all the areas that you can have fun as a family on a budget!

If your children are young like mine, you can easily find lots of ways to have fun without going anywhere. If you are excited about the awesome year you are going to have staying home, it will rub off on your kids. If you are down and upset about not going on vacation, that attitude will rub off on them.

Here are four ways you can have fun with your family on a budget this year:”

Click over to Money Saving Mom to read the rest of my guest post.

I’d love to hear, what are your favorite ways to have family fun on a budget? Are there any free events I need to look for in my area?

How to have family fun on a budget even when you can't afford a vacation. Get out there and make memories with your kids.

Summer Bucket List for Kids

Summer Bucket list ideas for kids! Great ideas to make memories this summer.

Have you ever considered having a summer bucket list for kids?

School is almost done, it’s getting hotter (we were up to 90 degrees this week), schedules and expectations are changing. Maybe your kids aren’t yet old enough to be in school but you still want to make summer special. There might be a big vacation planned or maybe you are saving money this year and staying home.

One way to keep things fun is to have a Summer Bucket List. Have your kids help come up with fun summer activities and narrow it down to your top 10, 20, 30 or however many you think you have time for over the next few months. Write them down on a chart and tackle some each week checking them off as they are accomplished.

Having a Summer Bucket List for kids will make the summer of a staycation more exciting or help the weeks before and after a big vacation go by quickly. The kids will love having lots of little summer activities to look forward to.

I have a 6 year old, 4 year old, and a 14 month old. The older two would love all these ideas (and even helped brainstorm) and the baby eagerly does whatever her big siblings do.

I have 31 free ideas and then a bonus 21 extra ideas that begin at just a couple dollars. If you keep scrolling to the end of the list, I have a printable list of all 52 ideas and a blank form you can use to make your own bucket list to check off this summer.

Affiliate Links may be used:

Ideas for a Summer Bucket List for Kids:

Free

  • Splash pad
  • Make popsicles
  • Fly a kite
  • Have a water fight
  • Read a chapter book aloud
  • Local beach at the lake
  • Story time at the library
  • Other library kids events
  • Star gazing
  • Park hop to all the good parks in your town
  • At home movie night
  • Camp in the living room
  • Swimming
  • Hike/nature walk
  • Picnic
  • Cookout in the park
  • Game night
  • Scavenger hunt
  • Relay races
  • Chalk mural on the driveway
  • Make a giant sheet fort
  • Free community events (parade, touch a truck, etc)
  • Family walks
  • Vacation Bible School
  • Bike ride
  • Feed the ducks
  • Fishing
  • Service project
  • Write cards/draw pictures and mail
  • Climb a tree (this is my 6 year old’s addition to the list)
  • Home Depot workshop

Almost Free

Paid Activities

  • Buy (and play) a new outdoor game
  • Buy (and play) a new board game
  • Go to a movie
  • Concert or show
  • Zoo
  • Children’s museum
  • Bowling
  • Ice cream shop
  • Go to a baseball game
  • Mini golf
  • Dollar store shopping spree
  • Local museum/historical site
  • Amusement park
  • Water park


Here is a printable list of all of the summer activities for kids!

Here is a blank form you can use to create your own summer bucket list for kids!

What are your favorite things to do during the summer?

Great Free summer bucket list for kids printable Continue reading