Kindergarten Summer Activities Guide

Kindergarten Summer Activities Guide

These kindergarten summer activities are a good way to connect and have fun while they – hopefully – learn something.

Why Kindergarten Summer Activities?

Now that camps are over, vacations are done and school is right around the corner, I am slowly starting to get Big Nugget into specific academic kindergarten summer activities. Nothing outrageous and still very play/game orientated but I’m wanting to get her brain dusted off after a fun summer. She’s not reading enough on her own just yet to do most of these independently so it’s a fun way to spend some time together and “do challenges” as she likes to call them.

One thing I did learn with these kindergarten summer activities is that sometimes she has a hard time listening and learning from me. When she starts to get frustrated and shuts down, we move on. I don’t push it because I’m not a homeschool teacher and this is just meant to be fun. She’s going to learn all the things at school – I’m not stressing myself or my daughter out making sure she’s acing these games. There are plenty of other things for me to be stressed about like what we’re going to pack for lunches and how are we going to deal with both kids transitioning into full-time school at the same time.

This post contains some affiliate links – meaning if you click through the links and buy anything, the retailer will pay me a small commission at no additional cost to you! I was also gifted a few of these products to provide my honest review to you.

Highlights Summer Big Fun Workbook

Highlights can seriously do no wrong in my book. We are huge fans of their Hidden Pictures books, it’s a favorite activity the girls do with their Grandma, and we are subscribers. This Big Fun Workbook though gives your child a variety of activities to do from reading to math in a fun, challenging way. The illustrations are colorful and fun, just like you expect from your regular Highlights magazines. There is a progress chart that includes stickers for each chapter that your child completes and a fun hidden pictures bonus game.

Big Nugget wanted to skip over pages that she wasn’t interested in, mostly the tracing of letters, but the chapter completion stickers really motivated her. Such a great learning experience FOR ME as her Mom to see what she is motivated by and now I’m researching sticker charts for other activities (like chores)!

Kindergarten summer activities that make learning fun for kids and parents. Ideas and products that help teach children sight words, science experiments, math, and art projects. #kindgergarten #learning #sightwords

They are available for each lower grade level so it can become a summer tradition for you to work through one of these workbooks each year.

The pages in this book – bridging preschool and kindergarten – include what Highlights calls Fun With A Purpose activities. Hidden Pictures puzzles, mazes, jokes and all are teacher-approved. They are designed to help with language arts, like sight words, and rhyming, math activities like counting, sorting, and simple addition and subtraction.

There are other sections that encourage you to go outside and others that give you step by step instructions to make a craft, usually at the end of the chapter. I would highly recommend this workbook for your rising kindergartener as a fun summer activity.

hand2mind Learn to Read Set

This set from hand2mind combines some great Bob Books with Versatiles. I had never seen them before but my 5 year old LOVES them. She has asked to play this “game” every night before bed. It’s quickly become one of her favorite kindergarten summer activities and made earning some phonics fun for her. The tiles were a little confusing at first but once I read the directions a few times, we figured it out.

Pro tips with the tiles: open the tile case and lie it flat on the workbook page. Make sure the tiles are arranged in order in the top two rows. Lift one tile and follow the page instructions on how to match it to the bottom.

We have loved Bob Books in our house for quite some time. They are simple but so effective in teaching the early layers of learning to read. The illustrations and the sentence structures are simple so that it’s easier to comprehend (and teach).

Kindergarten summer activities that make learning fun for kids and parents. Ideas and products that help teach children sight words, science experiments, math, and art projects. #kindgergarten #learning #sightwords

Melissa & Doug Smarty Pants – Kindergarten

We’ve had this Smarty Pants trivia game since the spring and has been great for travel! Big Nugget also loves to do a handful of these each night before bed. They are a mixture of trivia, questions, math, matching, and logic. My only critique is that the type on the cards can be hard to see in the low light of a bedroom. #oldeyes

Other Kindergarten Summer Activities

  • FREE TIME! They are going to be so scheduled once school starts, give them the freedom that is what makes summer amazing.
  • Games like Guess Who
  • Have your child help you make a bucket list for the last few weeks of summer.
  • Other workbooks like this one and question cards like this one
  • Learning apps – we love the Endless Apps for reading and counting
  • Include them in your back to school shopping
Kindergarten summer activities that make learning fun for kids and parents. Ideas and products that help teach children sight words, science experiments, math, and art projects. #kindgergarten #learning #sightwords

How to Install Roman Shades in 5 Easy Steps

How to Install Roman Shades in 5 Easy Steps

A byproduct of our kitchen renovation was a little bit of a facelift to our adjoining living room. We painted the walls white and I decided to switch out the window treatments to match the roman shade we put in the kitchen window. I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to measure, purchase and install roman shades.

Here is the before picture, we have these standard white blinds on every window of the house. Slowly, I’ll start replacing them all with cordless window treatments. This was a perfect spot to start.

How to install roman shades in 5 easy steps. These affordable window coverings are cordless and an easy DIY update to any space. We added our roman shades to our living room and kitchen for a completely updated look. #romanshades #DIY #howto

I bought these roman shades at Lowes, they are custom cut at the store and very affordable, at least for a window covering. This entire installation took me under 10 minutes to complete and I did it by myself with a drill, pen and measuring tape. Super simple!

Install Roman Shades – Step 1

Remove your old window covering and made sure to give the window a good wipe down.

Remove your old blinds and make sure to wipe the space down before you start drilling.

Step 2

Measure and mark where you are going to drill the holes to install the brackets.

Measure out and mark where to drill your holes.

Step 3

Drill your holes and install the top brackets. Yes this looks a little crooked but the design of the roman shades are very forgiving.

The bracket to hold the shades before installing the roman shades.

Step 4

Lift the roman shade into place to make sure the screws align.

How to install roman shades in 5 easy steps. These affordable window coverings are cordless and an easy DIY update to any space. We added our roman shades to our living room and kitchen for a completely updated look. #romanshades #DIY #howto

Step 5

Tighten the butterfly nut on the post and you’re done!

How to install roman shades in 5 easy steps. These affordable window coverings are cordless and an easy DIY update to any space. We added our roman shades to our living room and kitchen for a completely updated look. #romanshades #DIY #howto

This installation was so easy and made such a difference in the space. I love bringing in the natural fibers in the window against the white walls of the living room. These shades are easy to adjust as well so when we want to watch a movie and darken the room a bit, they pull right down.

We love how they turned out, such a quick and affordable DIY update to the space.

How to install roman shades in 5 easy steps. These affordable window coverings are cordless and an easy DIY update to any space. We added our roman shades to our living room and kitchen for a completely updated look. #romanshades #DIY #howto

Install Roman Shades in Ceramic Tile

We followed these exact steps to install roman shades in our kitchen. The inside of the window sill was tiled to match the walls so we needed a special drill bit to drill through the ceramic tile. We also kept the bit and the tile wet with a spray bottle while we drilled slowly to prevent cracking.

How to install roman shades in 5 easy steps. These affordable window coverings are cordless and an easy DIY update to any space. We added our roman shades to our living room and kitchen for a completely updated look. #romanshades #DIY #howto

End of Year Teacher Gift Ideas

End of Year Teacher Gift Ideas

I always struggle to come up with a great end of year teacher gift for our wonderful teachers. There is only so much room in one’s life for custom frames and coffee mugs. I want to give them gifts that are useful and meaningful and that show how deeply they are appreciated for what they do all year, not just during teacher appreciation week.

This end of the school year is a particularly special one since my oldest is graduating from this special preschool we’ve called home for the last three years. I wanted to do something a little different than our teacher appreciation week gift last year so I sourced some ideas from readers and ya’ll don’t disappoint.

This post contains some affiliate links – meaning if you click through the links and buy anything, the retailer will pay me a small commission at no additional cost to you! 

End of Year Teacher Gift Ideas

  1. Handwritten notes about why you loved them – such a great idea and so deeply personal. Get a stationary set about something the teacher loves and have your child write a note on one and give the rest to them to use. How cute is this camping set or one for the Disney fan? My oldest loves to write her own thank you notes. I just write the text on a piece of paper for her and she copies it on her own.
  2. Book Store Gift Card – Teachers can never get enough books right? I also love giving them a gift subscription to Audible. That way, they will be motivated to use it for themselves and not the classroom.
  3. Wine – No brainer. These wines from Verse + Wine pair poetry with great wines.
  4. Survival Kit – a great end of year teacher gif idea from one of my readers! She used a 4×6 photo storage box and made this adorable DIY gift loaded with goodies from Target and the Dollar Store.
  5. Cookie Jar – The theme for our graduation party, yes we are doing a preschool graduation party, is One Smart Cookie. This cookie jar paired with a cookie mix, an oven mitt, and a spatchula will be perfect!
  6. Trinket Box – Something that is teacher related but not so literal – this Kate Spade Apple Box.

Do you have any ideas to add to this list? Share in the comments!

End of year teacher gifts from students. Show your teacher appreciation from preschool to high school, these DIY and inexpensive gifts are meaningful and unique. #teacher #giftidea #school

Black Toaster Oven Transformation For Under $20

Black Toaster Oven Transformation For Under $20

As we are finishing up our kitchen renovation, I found myself torn up about my toaster oven. I’ve had this Hamilton Beach toaster oven for over 10 years and I love it. It’s functional and ok, maybe I have a little bit of a sentimental attachment to it. So when I realized that the red wasn’t going to look good in our new kitchen design, I needed to come up with a plan.

A few people suggested that I give it a good cleaning and then paint it with some high heat spray paint to give it a little facelift. A matte black toaster oven for under $20? What did I have to lose right?

This post contains some affiliate links – meaning if you click through the links and buy anything, the retailer will pay me a small commission at no additional cost to you! 

Black Toaster Oven Transformation

Black Toaster Oven Transformation For Under $20. Step by step guide to this simple DIY project that is budget friendly and quick. Turn any appliance into a dated piece with some high heat spray paint and elbow grease. #diy #kitchenideas #appliances

First step in making this a black toaster oven was making this a clean one. I used a degreaser and following the directions, made sure I was in a well ventilated area and used gloves. This degreaser worked so quickly and very easily got this little toaster oven looking like new, at least on the outside.

Black Toaster Oven Transformation For Under $20. Step by step guide to this simple DIY project that is budget friendly and quick. Turn any appliance into a dated piece with some high heat spray paint and elbow grease. #diy #kitchenideas #appliances

I’ve linked everything I used for this DIY project in my Amazon Store.

Black Toaster Oven Transformation For Under $20. Step by step guide to this simple DIY project that is budget friendly and quick. Turn any appliance into a dated piece with some high heat spray paint and elbow grease. #diy #kitchenideas #appliances

Once it was clean and completely dry, I tapped off everything with blue painters tape. I was very generous with the tape to make sure none of the chrome or stainless steel parts were accidentally painted matte black. The I used this high heat matte black spray paint and got to work. It coated very easily and dried quickly. I started with the back of the toaster oven so that I could get used to the spray paint. Once that was dry, I did the front. I used a small piece of cardboard to over the opening when the glass door was open and the red lip on the inside needed to be painted.

Black Toaster Oven Transformation For Under $20. Step by step guide to this simple DIY project that is budget friendly and quick. Turn any appliance into a dated piece with some high heat spray paint and elbow grease. #diy #kitchenideas #appliances

I am THRILLED with how it turned out. It looks just perfect in the new kitchen. This little black toaster oven is now just the perfect combination of new and completely used.

Black Toaster Oven Transformation For Under $20. Step by step guide to this simple DIY project that is budget friendly and quick. Turn any appliance into a dated piece with some high heat spray paint and elbow grease. #diy #kitchenideas #appliances

Want to see the rest of our kitchen renovation? Make sure to subscribe for email updates and be the first to see the reveal.

Black Toaster Oven Transformation For Under $20. Step by step guide to this simple DIY project that is budget friendly and quick. Turn any appliance into a dated piece with some high heat spray paint and elbow grease. #diy #kitchenideas #appliances
Black Toaster Oven Transformation For Under $20. Step by step guide to this simple DIY project that is budget friendly and quick. Turn any appliance into a dated piece with some high heat spray paint and elbow grease. #diy #kitchenideas #appliances

Potty Training the Second Time Around

Potty Training the Second Time Around

Here is what I learned about potty training the second time around.

There are a lot of things that you think you know when you have your second child. You have some idea of what labor, delivery, and recovery will be like. You know about all the things that no one talks about – I’m looking at you hemorrhoids. You’ve been through teething and introducing foods. All those big milestones the first few years happen so quickly and if you’re anything like me you’re thinking this whole raising kids thing is not so bad.

Then it begins. Your toddler starts showing signs. Probably with a fascination with the toilet. Or the annoyance with the diaper and an overwhelming need for your toddler to be naked. Watching their older, independent, sibling use the toilet freely certainly is fuel to this burning desire to want to use the toilet themselves.

Potty Training, no problem right? I’ve done this before, how hard can it be to get this other tiny person to use the potty…correctly? Piece of cake.

That’s when my motherhood reality check hit me smack dab in the face. Here are my potty training takeaways this second time around.

There Is No Potty Training Blueprint

Just because it’s your second time doing this does, by no means, mean that you know what you are doing. There is no one size fits all way to potty train a child. My two daughters couldn’t be more different both in physical stature and in their personalities. What worked for my oldest does not work for my youngest so why then would I think potty training would be any different?

I went into potty training having SOME idea of what worked but that easy peasy 3 days of nakedness at home and they come out of it potty trained did NOT happen here. Sure we cleared our schedule one weekend and stayed home and did the thing but at the end of the three days, she was still wearing a diaper at night and during naps and ya know what…I’m totally ok with that and so is she.

Don’t Rush It

This was something I learned the first time around – listen to your child, they will show you when they are ready to make this leap. My oldest had urinary reflux when she was a toddler and we had a few visits with an amazing Pediatric Urologist. Her biggest advice to us was to not rush potty training. Too many parents are in such a rush to get their kid out of diapers for one reason or the next when really they are better off staying in them until THEY are ready, not you. Don’t worry, they aren’t going to go to Kindergarten in diapers, it will happen and it will happen much easier if you go on their schedule.

We waited until Big Nugget was almost 3 until we potty trained her so I thought we had PLENTY of time until we had to do this with Little Nugget. She, like always, had other plans. Around the time she turned two she started to really dislike her diaper and would take it off whenever she had a chance. So we went with it and by the time she was 26 months, she was daytime potty trained.

Make It a Family Affair

Little Nugget things the earth revolves around her big sister. Anything she does, Little wants to do twice as badly. I used that to our advantage when we were potty training. Getting big sister involved not only helped the little one, but I could see Big Nugget’s confidence and pride grow each time she helped out.

That also means that if you are going to reward your toddler for going pee in the potty, that you have extra. When I was handing out marshmallows for a successful pee in the potty, there were four hands waiting for their handout, not just two. And that is totally ok. Fostering the sense of accomplishment not just for your own achievements but for others as well is a great lesson to learn as an older sibling.

We also utilized our reward jar a lot during this time. The girls loved earning rocks by just going to the bathroom.

Potty Training Stinks

Both literally and figuratively. One thing that hasn’t changed is that you have to bring your A game with your patience. There is no relaxing on the couch when you have a minute or two. No focusing on other tasks at hand when the naked one is on the loose. You’re always on. Always waiting for the next “I gotta pee” scream and sprint to the toilet.

When the accidents happen, cause they will, then you have to put your own frustrations aside and be as supportive and reassuring as possible. This is a big undertaking for that little person and it’s just as easy for them to get frustrated and discouraged. Patience and persistence will eventually pay off, I promise.

Want to see all of my must-have products for potty training? Check out my Amazon Store list called….potty training.

Potty Training lessons learned from a mom who's been there, done that...twice.

11 Step Guide: How to Leave Your Abuser

11 Step Guide: How to Leave Your Abuser

Last year, I shared my personal story of domestic abuse and how I survived. I shared it because I knew I wasn’t alone in how I felt at the time and I wanted my story to maybe help someone else. I promised myself I would continue to share, continue to be open in what I lived through and continue to try to help other women in similar situations.

As a writer with a platform, I get a LOT of emails with pitches about various products, services, and people. I’ll be honest, I don’t read them all but this one email got my attention and I feel compelled to share it in the hopes that this could help another woman.

The email talked about how women who are being abused by their partner are under a tremendous amount of stress, which may have a significant impact on their ability to think and make decisions clearly and calmly. It shared this list of how to prepare to leave your abuser from financial advisor and candid abuse survivor Rosemary Lombardy 

I remember when I decided to leave that I did as much prepping as I could without it being noticed. I started to put my toiletries in boxes under the guise of an organization project and I started to stash money away. So this list hit home for me.

This list provides a clear roadmap for women to follow so that they can prepare to leave their abuser, minimize the damage he will try to inflict, and do what is necessary to protect their children, themselves, and their assets. Rosemary has a new book out, Breaking Bonds: How to Divorce an Abuser and Heal—A Survival Guide.

You are not alone. There are people who will help you and you can always reach out to me and I can help you get in touch with resources.

11 Step Guide: How to Leave Your Abuser

1.  Safety First. Your family’s personal safety is the only thing that really matters. If you or your children are being subjected to physical violence, take them and leave the home right now. If you suspect that physical abuse may be imminent, take the children and leave right now. Use the resources listed in the Emergencies Tab on the Breaking Bonds website to find a secure place to stay if you don’t have somewhere else to go. You can access the rest of the information on this website from a safe distance.

2.  Have Money. Before alerting your abuser that you plan to leave him, set aside hard cash for emergencies and transfer up to half of the balances in the bank accounts to an account in your name alone. Have the bank mail the statements to a post office box instead of to your home. You will need to be able to pay bills until you are able to petition the court for financial assistance. Abusers will frequently drain the accounts once they discover they are going to lose control over their victims in order to retaliate, or to force them to drop the divorce petition or settle for unfavorable terms. Do not drain the joint accounts yourself and leave your husband without any funds, as that would be unethical.

Disclose what you have done with the money in your first meeting with your lawyer.  He or she may have different advice as to whether you should move funds to a separate account before filing for divorce. Inform him or her that an abuser will do whatever it takes to be punitive and maintain control, and it is highly likely that he will drain the household accounts as soon as he is aware that his wife plans to divorce him. Although your attorney can ask the judge in your case to issue a temporary order to freeze your jointly held bank accounts, such measures will take time. You must have funds for your day-to-day living expenses and to pay your attorney and court expenses in the meantime.

3.  Go-to Bag. Prepare a go-to bag that contains contain cash, your driver’s license,  credit cards, checkbooks, a list of your assets and debts, a set of clothes for you and the children, toys, court papers, your passport, birth certificates, medical records, marriage certificate, social security cards, , medicines, insurance information, immunization records, welfare documents, immigration papers, and other legal documents. Keep copies of court papers in your possession to prove to the police that your spouse is violating a court restraining order if you have to summon them.

4.  Make Copies. Make copies of bank and other financial statements, deeds, paystubs, recent tax returns, estate documents, and emails or posts that incriminate your abuser or prove his infidelity without alerting him that you plan to file for divorce. Store this evidence somewhere safe outside the home. Abusers frequently remove or destroy records once they become aware of the divorce.

5. Protect Children. When you leave your husband, take your children with you to avoid losing custody of them. The courts may consider your leaving them behind to be abandonment, a sign that you are an unfit mother willing to leave them in danger. Or that you are lying about the domestic abuse. Even if your husband tries to intimidate you to leave without the children, you must not let him force you to leave the house without them under any circumstances. Call the police if you must.

6. Document Abuse. Take pictures of any physical abuse and date them. Start documenting verbal abuse in a journal that you keep outside the home. If your abuser becomes violent, call the police immediately and have them take pictures to document the abuse. Make sure that you have written down the names of the officers who are present. Have your abuser arrested. If you give him a free pass, the abuse is likely to escalate. Protect yourself.

7. Get Help. Use the Resources Tab on the Breaking Bonds website to find safety resources, therapists, and financial and legal assistance in your area.

8. Protect Credit. Before you file for divorce, obtain a credit card in your name alone. You may not be able to get credit based on your income alone, so make an application to get the card before you file for divorce so that you can qualify for credit based on your joint income with your spouse. As soon as you file, close any joint credit cards that have a zero balance and put a freeze the jointly held credit cards. You won’t be able to close them out completely if they still have a balance, but you can prevent any additional charges from being added to joint debt by freezing the account.

You are responsible for payment of any joint debt that you or your husband incurs during your marriage, even debt that your husband will ultimately be assigned in the settlement. Credit card companies are only concerned with whether you signed for the card, not the terms of a court order. Document all phone calls you make to the credit card companies and send them follow-up letters requesting that the lender report to the credit agencies that each of these credit card accounts was closed at your request.

Late payments and skipped payments will adversely affect your credit score for years to come, so do your best to make sure that payments are made by the due date for any debts you or your husband have incurred while the divorce is still going on. Your credit score will affect whether you can buy a home in your name alone or if you can refinance your existing home to remove your husband’s name afterward. It also affects the rate of interest that you will be charged on any loans you apply for in the future. Do what you can to protect your credit score.

9. Confide Well. Be careful whom you confide in. Some of your friends, colleagues, and family members may be judgmental or repeat to others what you have said to them in confidence. Even worse, word may get back to your abuser. Do not confide in your children unless it is absolutely necessary, as they are dealing with enough emotional turmoil and deserve to have their childhood protected. When discussing the situation with your children, say that you don’t feel safe living with their father or leaving them alone with him. Tell them that he does bad and scary things, not that he is a bad person. It is not necessary or helpful to elaborate. The best plan is to confide mostly in your therapist and your dog. Then give it to God.

10. Self-Care. Take care of yourself so that you can handle the stress of the divorce effectively. You will need physical energy and brainpower to deal with a very manipulative and unscrupulous opponent over a period of many months. Begin making changes now in your daily routine so that you get enough nutrients, exercise, and rest to feel empowered and think clearly. This will also boost your self-esteem and confidence.

11. Choose You.  Choose not to be a victim any longer. Stop blaming yourself! He has been brainwashing you into thinking that everything is your fault. He is the one who is mistreating you and making your family life miserable. Take back your power and take appropriate action. Do not argue or engage with your abuser. Use your legitimate fear of him to protect yourself and your children. Use your anger, which is telling you that something is very wrong with your life, to overcome your fear and make the changes that you need in your life.

I will not lie to you – this is all really scary but it’s possible. I’m proof that it is. That there is a better life out there that YOU deserve. If you are feeling alone, I’m here for you. Promise.

You can also call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1?800?799?7233 or visit their discrete website for more information on how to get help.

You are worth it.

11 Step Guide: How to Leave Your Abuser