Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Creating your own Stop Motion Story Book

At the cottage we are always looking for new and fun ways to keep everyone active and entertained.  My son had brought his dinosaurs down to the beach one morning and that is when inspiration hit!  We could create a story, set up scenes with the dinosaurs, take photos to capture the moments, then write a book as a family.  The project was embraced from the get-go. 

The kids were excited to think of how the story should unfold.  We jotted down a few notes so that we could be sure to set up the scenes we'd need for each page.  We then got down and dirty in the sand, placing dinosaurs, gathering grass and leaves to act as trees, building sand volcanoes, and snapping photos.  The kids enjoyed trying to take photos from different angles to see which would capture the scene best.

When we were done on the beach, we went through the photos on the computer and chose which the best ones to print.  I thought about creating a proper photo book online but I really wanted the kids to write their own text so that it was done in their handwriting.  It would be good practice but more than that, it would involve them further in the project and be a precious memento in years to come. 

The kids and I glued the photos to construction paper. Then each kid took a turn writing the text to accompany each page. I had them write it on lined paper which we cut and glued at the bottom of each page. That way if there were any glaring mistakes, i.e. writing the wrong word; spelling mistakes were kept - I think that will make a better keepsake in the end, we could fix them more easily.

We chose a cover photo and bound the book together with staples. 

We also included an 'About the Author' page at the back that included a photo of us all in the midst of our dino photo shoot. 

A year later they still love looking at the book.  To help preserve the book I think I will probably need to scan it soon and have it turned into a proper photo book.  We had planned to do a sequel this year but our cottage holiday was cut short.  Not to worry, this is a project that can be done any time and the older the kids, the more involved the storyline can be.

Try making one with your family.  Get out the Lego men, superheroes, barbie dolls!  It is fun, simple, educational (shh...that is between you and me) and creates memories to last a lifetime.

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Wish & A Prayer

These last two weeks have been exhausting, a bit scary and at times, and pretty frustrating.

My son spiked a 40C fever which lasted 5 days but he didn't exhibit symptoms that matched anything common known to our doctor.  There was a suspicion he might have a perforated appendix but tests came back negative (thank goodness) and it was determined that it was viral.  Then, two days after my son turned the corner and his fever broke, my daughter's fever spiked and we were right back in it.

Needless to say both kids got a little stir crazy after almost 2 weeks of being fairly housebound and having to cancel my son's 6th birthday party.   Our only outings had been trips to the doctor or pharmacy.  I myself was getting to the point of having a pretty short fuse as the stress and sleep deprivation really took hold.  The kids were beginning to peck at each other and I was running out of energy to come up with fun activities to keep the healthy child entertained.

That is when my salvation arrived on our doorstep in the form of the Sears Wish Book.  To be honest, at any other time and I'd be annoyed that Christmas was being pushed at us in August but this year I was extremely grateful. 

My daughter must have spent over an hour and a half reading the toy section.  She was so excited to show both my husband and I all the great toys she had found and explain the differences between all the dolls.  She even got out a piece of paper and started forming her birthday wish list (her birthday is in December).  My son then took over and got engrossed in the catalogue too.  It distracted them from the monotony of being housebound and gave them something new to do.  What kid doesn't like seeing new toys?


Nostalgia kicked in as I remembered pouring over the same catalogue as a child.  I remember spending hours looking through it in the month leading up to Christmas, cutting out the pictures and taping them to my Christmas wish list. 

Now I know it seems that I am kind of promoting consumerism in my kids but in our situation these last two weeks, I would definitely say the Sears Wish Book fulfilled all my wishes.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Love That Boy

Today is my little guy's 6th birthday. In another few weeks he'll be starting grade 1 and will no longer be at home with me during the mornings. While I've joked in the past that I can't wait to have both kids in school full time, the reality is that I am sad to see this chapter of my life end. He is the most interesting, kind, inquisitive, funny and cuddly little guy. I hope he never changes!

Love That Boy

Love that boy,
like a rabbit loves to run
I said I love that boy
like a rabbit loves to run
Love to call him in the morning
love to call him
"Hey there, son!"

He walk like his Grandpa,
Grins like his Uncle Ben.
I said he walk like his Grandpa,
And grins like his Uncle Ben.
Grins when he’s happy,
When he sad, he grins again.

His mama like to hold him,
Like to feed him cherry pie.
I said his mama like to hold him.
Like to feed him that cherry pie.
She can have him now,
I’ll get him by and by.

He got long roads to walk down
Before the setting sun.
I said he got a long, long road to walk down
Before the setting sun.
He’ll be a long stride walker,
And a good man before he done.

By Walter Dean Myers

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Great Start to Back To School

It is closing in on September, that means time to go back to school.  Here are a few great ideas to get their year off to a good start and ease the stress of getting back into the school routine for everyone in the family.

Start the Morning Right:

The morning is always easier if the kids know what to expect and what is expected of them.  After a summer of varied schedules, help them get organized by setting out their routine for them both visually and verbally. 

This place mat is a way to get them started.

Image & Idea: Family Fun

Another simple reminder that might work for your family.

Image & Idea: Save the Phillips Family

Make Lunch Time Fun:


This Official Lunch Survey from June Pfaff Daley serves two purposes.  For the child who has a hard time adjusting to the school year, lunch period can be hard.  This gives your child something to do that is fun and will take their mind of their first day jitters.  For those that have no trouble adjusting to school and are social butterflies, this survey can provide a fun activity to do with new friends. 

Image and Idea: June Pfaff Daley
Why not add a joke or two.

Image, Idea & Free Printable:  All for the Boys

Image, Idea & Free Printable:  Peonies and Poppyseeds

Let them Play with their Food:

A small surprise like these can brighten up any day.  These ideas are also great to keep in mind come mid-year when the monotony of lunch box meals starts to kick in.

Image & Idea:  One Charming Party

Now I'm sure many of you have seen some of the amazing bento box lunches out there on the web and some very cute sandwich ideas but I'm realistic and I know that those aren't in my arsenal on a school morning.  These sandwich kabobs and owls on the other hand seem very do-able.

Image & Idea:  Super Healthy Kids 
Image & Idea:  Meet the Dubiens

Send a Special Message:


This is the first year of school lunches for my little guy and I know that for the first few weeks he will be ready to come home at mid-day.  Lunch notes in his lunch bag will help him know that I'm thinking of him and hopefully put a big smile on his face.

Image, Idea & Free PrintableAlpha Mom

Image, Idea & Free Printable:  Fresh Picked Whimsy

Get them talking:

Sometimes finding out what your kids did at school can be like pulling teeth.  All too often the response is "nothing", "I don't know", "boring".  Try these conversation starters to get your kids talking at the dinner table.

Image & Idea:  iMOM

Reduce the After School Struggle:

Just like in the morning, helping your kids master an after school schedule will help reduce stress for everyone and establish expectations and routines. 

This clipboard checklist idea from 36th Avenue is great! It is easy to make and a great way to remind the kids of their after school responsibilities. Because you make it yourself, you can customize the items to your family's routine.

Image & Idea: The 36th Avenue
And again, another simple tool that may make all the difference.

Image & Idea:  Save the Phillips Family

Capture It:

And don't forget to get out the camera to capture the first day of school.  These free printables are super cute and will help mark the occasion.

Image, Idea & Free PrintablesHow Does She?
Image, Idea & Free Printable:  I heart Naptime

Wishing everyone a smooth transition and a great start to the school year!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Banana Split S'mores

S’mores are a cottage essential.  You can’t have a bonfire at our place without a call for S’mores.  Last week I received a box from Smucker’s filled with their three new Simple Blends flavours to try; Summer Fruit, Wildberry and Fieldberry.  These inspired a new cottage recipe; we called it Banana Split Smucker’s S’mores. 

The kids were excited to help.  They gathered the wood for the bonfire, helped to slice the bananas and gather our ingredients.  Of course their favourite part of getting ready was taste testing the Smucker’s Simple Blends to decide which one we would use for our recipe.  We chose the Summer Fruit blend but any of them would have worked well.

As the fire burned my husband and kids toasted our marshmallows.  I placed a piece of chocolate on half of the graham crackers and left them by the side of the fire to melt.  I then spread a layer of Smucker’s Simple Blends Summer Fruit on the other graham crackers, topped them with a slice or two of banana and waited for the gooey marshmallows from the kids.  We slid the toasted marshmallows off the sticks and onto the waiting graham crackers.  We then topped them off with one of the chocolaty graham crackers and squeezed them together to blend the flavours. 

The kids dug in and it was a HUGE success.  The kids loved this new take on a classic recipe.  I personally find S’mores too rich but the Smucker’s Simple Blends added a fresh sweetness that I really enjoyed. 

PS - this is my daughter's "I'm gonna make you jealous of what I'm eating" look.

Banana Split Smucker’s S’mores

Tools Needed:

  • Bonfire (or BBQ if you don’t have a bonfire)
  • Marshmallow Toasting Sticks
  • Ingredients listed below 
  • Cloth for sticky fingers


  • Graham Crackers
  • Marshmallows
  • Chocolate
  • Banana – sliced
  • Smucker’s Simple Blends - Summer Fruit


  1. Place a piece of chocolate on half of the graham crackers and leave them by the side of the fire to melt. 
  2. Spread a layer of Smucker’s Simple Blends Summer Fruit on each of the other graham crackers.
  3. Top them with a slice or two of banana.
  4. Slide the toasted marshmallows off the sticks and onto the waiting graham crackers. 
  5. Top them off with one of the chocolaty graham crackers.
  6. Give them a little squeeze to make and enjoy! 

Although this post has generously been sponsored by Smucker’s, the opinions and language are all my own.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Cereal Box Games

Recently  I shared with you a way to re-purpose those old baby wipes containers to store craft paint.  I also had a post that gave many creative ideas for re-purposing all the cereal boxes you have in your home.  Today I stumbled upon this idea and had to share it.  It combines re-using cereal boxes and baby wipe containers and it provides a fun educational (shhh...don't tell them) activity for your kids to do at home or on the road. 

Photo & Idea: Play, Talk, Learn
Emily at Play, Talk, Learn and her daughter cut out letters from empty cereal, cookie, detergent boxes, etc. and collect them in an old baby wipe container.  Not only is this a great activity for little minds, it is also a great activity for little fingers.  Cutting out the letters will also help with developing their fine motor skills.

Here are 10 suggestions of games/activities to do with your letters.

  1. Matching letters - this is more difficult than it sounds for little ones because the fonts and upper case/lower case letters make them look different.
  2. Find the alphabet - try and put together the entire alphabet together.
  3. Upper vs. Lower - separate the upper and lower case letters into groups.
  4. Name Game - try and spell out all the names in your family.
  5. Word Power - see how many words you can make from your letters.
  6. Hat/Mat/Cat - show your kids how you can make a million different words simply by changing the first letter.  See if they can come up with some of their own.
  7. Rhyme Time - how many rhyming words can you come up with?  Challenge each other to a rhyming duel.  One person puts down a word, the other has to put down a rhyming word.
  8. Proper Nouns - Remembering where to put capital letters is sometimes a challenge for kids.  See if they can put together some proper nouns.  You can even create a list of words (all lowercase) and have them put them together using the letters.  They need to decide which words need capitals and which don't.
  9. Alphabet Go-Fish - Just like the regular card game, deal out 5 or 7 letters to each person and have a pile in the middle.  In turn ask another player if they have one of the letters in your hand.  If they do, you take it and put down your matching pair.  If they don't, you 'go fish' in the letter pile and the game continues on.  * Note - be sure to have a match for each of your letters before you begin playing.
  10. Ransom note fun - Older kids will have fun creating ransom notes for the family using the letters they cut out. 

Not only will these activities keep them occupied during the summer and use old items in a new exciting way, it will help get them back into the rhythm of thinking outside the box, reading, and preparing for a new school year which is just around the corner.  Have fun!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Repurposing Old Baby Wipe Containers

I am thankfully out of the diaper stage but when my kids were in diapers it seemed that I had a wipe container in every room.  I still keep a small one in the car for travelling but the large ones aren't needed anymore.  Instead of throwing them in the recycle bin, I decided to re-purpose mine. 

It turns out that they are the perfect height for craft paint.  I am able to store 18 bottles of craft paint in each container.  Now when the kids and I are ready to get creative, I know exactly where to look and can easily grab a rainbow of colours. 

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