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  • Teaching Children about Gratitude – 4 Simple Activities

    In a world where everything is at our fingertips, and a feeling of privilege and entitlement can come natural – it can be difficult to instill an “attitude of gratitude” in our children. And while exercising manners and being courteous are quite satisfactory, teaching gratitude to young minds can have lifelong positive effects. But learning this outlook takes time and practice; after all it is a mindset and a lifestyle. Thankfully, there are techniques you can establish with your child today to begin cultivating feelings and expressions of gratitude – and what better time to develop an “attitude of gratitude” then the start of this holiday season?

    Studies show strong associations between showing gratefulness and improved happiness.

    In many respects, instilling a sense of gratitude is one of the most important lessons to pass along to our children. “Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives.” Harvard Health. Studies show strong associations between showing gratefulness and improved happiness; and so by teaching our children to find appreciation in the little things around them, they tend to be less materialistic, more empathetic towards others, more satisfied with life and often lead healthier lives physically and psychologically. When you see the positive,  you feel more positive – it only makes sense!
    This week we have put together a collection of activities you and your child can both do together. We encourage using these techniques daily as a way to make gratitude a meaningful part of the day.

    1. Write in a Gratitude Journal

    Gratitude journals are great for both children and adults. Taking time to reflect and report your positive daily experiences can increase your overall happiness. In a 2003 study by Dr. Robert A. Emmons and Michael E. McCullough, participants who kept gratitude journals for 9 weeks resulted in exercising more regularly, reporting fewer physical complaints, expressing optimism concerning the upcoming week and had higher ratings of joy and happiness.

    We have created a simple and fun gratitude journal print-out with both morning and evening prompts your child can use to build a healthy habit of gratitude starting today. Download the FREE printable below.

    2. Go on a Hunt!

    Make learning fun with a Gratitude Scavenger Hunt! We’ve created the perfect list to find the little things to be thankful for – and it’s perfect for adults to play along too.

    3. Serve Others

    An easy way to teach gratitude is by exposing our children to different perspectives. By serving those around us, we are reminded to be grateful for what we have, while also learning to be more empathetic. There are plenty of ways to actively serve others. See some ideas below!

    Image showing different ways to show gratitude by serving others

    4. Turn it into a Conversation

    One of the best ways to express gratitude, is by simply talking about it! By carving out a few minutes of your day or week and playing a conversation game, you and your child will exercise feelings of gratitude and also open up dialogue for deeper and more meaningful conversations.

    And since Thanksgiving is right around the corner, why not start a Grateful Tree? See our post on how to make your own here.

    We hope these activities will help your child to understand and foster feelings of gratefulness into their lives, but its best to remember that leading by example is what makes it stick! If you have a favorite activity or tips on instilling an “attitude of gratitude,” feel free to share in the comments below.



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  • How to Plan a Halloween Wine Tasting

    I’m going to be real with y’all. I love wine. I have a deep affinity for my evening glass while winding down after a long day with the kiddos. The tannins. Mouthfeel. Aromas. I love it all. I decided recently that I didn’t know enough about this beverage for how intensely I feel about it, so I started doing a ton of research and informing myself about all things wine.

    Image of spooky wine trivia game free printable

    Thats when I came up with the idea of a Halloween Wine Tasting. One: to flex my newfound wine knowledge. Two: to spend time with friends. And Three: to celebrate this macabre time of year. I was delighted in how perfectly the event unfolded and how much fun we all had!

    All of that being said, I want to share with you guys everything I did to plan and host a spooky Halloween wine tasting in the hopes that you will plan your own, revel in some adult time and de-stress in the company of great friends. We deserve it, Mamas!

    ALSO: We’ve made our Halloween Wine Tasting Trivia Printable available for FREE. Simply scroll to the bottom. You’re welcome!

    Find a Sitter

    I was up in the air at first on whether or not to keep the kids at home or send them to the grandparents and now I am so glad I went with the latter. The luxury of uninterrupted conversation is one I don’t take for granted when my kids are gone. Plus, I’m not sure I would have been able to get through a detailed tasting with my two year old calling my name every 5 seconds.

    My advice: find a sitter. Enjoy adult time and encourage your mom friends to leave their babies behind so they can do the same. There is nothing better than spending time with mom friends emancipated from their children for a few hours. As the saying goes, in vino veritas.

    Wine and Food Selection

    I decided to offer a variety of wines at the tasting to keep everyone happy. Reds, whites and even a good Rose. I sought out a few local wineries and some international bottles. Total Wine is my go-to but any grocery store with a decent wine selection will do. I chose wines under $15 that rated highly on the reviews.  That way, I kept costs fairly low and my friends who enjoyed a certain bottle could easily pick it up next time they’re out shopping.

    To add a creepy touch, I found some spooky wines in the seasonal aisle (one was labeled Witching Hour). We served Halloween themed finger foods to match the vibe and decor. I was thrilled with how the mummy jalapeno poppers turned out (recipe here) and I will say, Pinterest was a huge help. For the tasting portion of the event, I typed up small blurbs about each wine and gave a few tips on what to pair it with.

    image of party mummy Halloween jalapeno poppers

    We served Halloween themed finger foods to match the vibe and decor

    Image of Halloween themed party decorations and food display

    Games

    What’s a Halloween wine tasting without a little trivia? Games are a great ice breaker and a fantastic way to get the whole gang involved in the action. Our Spooky Wine Trivia game was a big hit with all of our guests and I could tell they enjoyed learning fun wine facts to take with them.

    I found a cute pumpkin charmed wine stopper as the game prize and stuck it in a Halloween bag with a card which both congratulated and thanked them for coming. Easy Peazy! And in case you didn’t see, our Halloween Wine Tasting Trivia printable is available for download below!

    Costumes

    I have a proclivity for dressing up on Halloween. It is the only time of year I can transform into a mermaid or a Dr. Seuss character without fear of judgment. However, we permitted our guests to make the call on costumes so no-one felt forced to come up with something.

    The different ideas were great conversation pieces and allowed for hilarious photo opportunities. My husband and I decided to do a play on snapchat and personify filter vs. no filter, which meant he was in a skirt all night and that in and of itself was worthing dressing up for. My advice: let your guests make the call! Costumes can be a real hit but you don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable. Some great ideas for easy DIY costumes here.

    Decor

    Decor for our Spooky Wine Tasting was easy and simple. I used generic Halloween gear that I had collected over the years, some faux cob web on our railings and mirrors and purple lights on the stairwell. The black cauldron was a perfect place to store the wines. I use my felt board for every event that we host at our house so that was a must. Emoji wine markers added a fun touch to each glass you can purchase them here.

    I used generic Halloween gear I have collected over the years, some faux cob web on mirrors and railings and purple lights in the stairwell

    And there you have it! The Spooky Wine Tasting. A unique and entertaining experience for everyone to enjoy. There are so many different things you can do with this event to make it your own. The most important takeaway: set aside time to be kid free with people you care about. You’ll never regret it!

     



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  • Help Kids Cool Down with this FREE Printable Workbook

    As part of our passion for social/emotional learning, we’re always looking for healthy cool down strategies for kids. The idea for this printable cool down workbook came to me when my son was having a big, emotional week and I wanted to offer him a solution that would not only deescalate, but help him identify his feelings and cope in a positive way.

    Now, having created 6 different worksheets to be combined into a book, I truly believe this tool will be great for parents and teachers alike!

    This workbook is a process of working through big feelings with multiple worksheets. First, it includes an emotion identifier, with easy to understand emoji graphics. Children experience meltdowns, tantrums and extreme emotions for a variety of reasons. By identifying the correct emotion, it is possible to get to the root of the cause.

    Next, the child will choose a healthy coping mechanism. Then, there is a list of calming affirmations. As we know, studies show affirmations strengthen personal foundations for happy and meaningful lives.

    The final sheets are a grounding exercise for mindfulness, and an emotion thermometer to help kids register emotional zones. Through the emotion thermometer, kids will learn how to assess themselves emotionally and recognize the importance of healthy cool down strategies.

    Our hope is that children will be able to adopt this process and continue to utilize healthy cool down methods as they grow into adulthood.

    Above is the calm down area, and worksheets filed into clear sheet protectors and placed in a binder. The binder is designed to grab & go and can be used repeatedly.

    Use expo markers on the sheet protectors and wipe them off easily to be used next time. Kids should circle their current emotion on the first sheet and circle the chosen cool down method on the next. The affirmations should be voiced out loud.

    For the grounding exercise, have the child start on the “breathe in” cloud and inhale until they reach the “breathe out” cloud. Afterwards, they can color in the rainbow as desired.

    For the final emotion thermometer worksheet, kids should color in the emotional zone they were feeling prior to the cool down exercise in the “before” column. Then, color in the emotional zone for post cool down in the “after” column.

    Easy to grab-and-go printable cool down workbook! Free download below!

    Insert a pencil bag for the expo markers and a few calming items like magnets or a fidget spinner to complete the workbook.

    The goal of teaching social and emotional skills is to build a child’s mental health and resilience—so that as they grow, they can adapt and handle what comes at them. Using this printable cool down workbook can help develop those important skills. It can also aid in self regulation and emotional control.

    For more on the importance of social/emotional learning click here!

    And for tips on fostering your child’s mental health check this out!



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  • First Day of School Book Favorites (+ activities too)

    As the summer comes to an end, so comes change for your child as the new school year begins. We all know that the starting the first day of school can be an anticipating and emotional time, as expected.

    One of the best ways my husband and I have found to ease our son’s impending emotions is through literature. By introducing characters with feelings and situations resembling his everydayness, he gains better insight and expands his perspective. And by forming character connections through literature with your child, you will be able to affirm their feelings and create open dialogue on topics of concern or excitement.

    Below we have listed some of our favorite first day of school books you can read to prepare your child for the new year. With comprehensive subjects such as first-day jitters, meeting new friends, learning the school rules – we’ve listed a book for them all. You will also find some post-reading activities to stimulate follow-up conversations and engage your child even more with some of the characters and topics.

    See Our List of Favorite First Day of School Books and Activities Below!

    This post may contain affiliate links, which means that we may receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links.

    1. Have You Filled Your Bucket Today? 

    Through sweet, simple prose and vivid illustrations, this book encourages positive behavior as children see how very easy and rewarding it is to express kindness, appreciation, and love on a daily basis.

    Activity:

    How Full Is Your Bucket childrens activity picture Have you child create a bucket of their own by thinking and writing down the things that make them happy and placing them in their bucket.

    Clickable link to download How Full is Your Bucket book activity

    2. First Day Jitters

    Sarah Jane Hartwell is scared and doesn’t want to start over at a new school. She doesn’t know anybody, and nobody knows her. It will be awful. She just knows it. With much prodding from Mr. Hartwell, Sarah Jane reluctantly pulls herself together and goes to school. She is quickly befriended by Mrs. Burton, who helps smooth her jittery transition. First Day Jitters is sure to be treasured by anyone who has ever anticipated a first day of school.

    Activity: 

    Picture of boy holding First Day Jitters book activityHave your child make a “Jitter Juice”. Cut out all the emojis that your child feels about starting school and put them in the jitter juice. You can also make a “Jitter Juice” of your own with Hawaiian Punch and Sprite!

    Clickable image to First Day Jitters book activity

    3. Llama Llama Misses Mama

    It’s Llama Llama’s first day of school, and he’s not too happy about it. Still, he trudges along and makes his bed, brushes his teeth, and eats his breakfast.

    But once he arrives at his classroom — with so many new faces, new names, and new games — little Llama doesn’t know what to do. And when Mama Llama leaves, the little guy feels even more shy and alone. What will this lonely llama do? Will Mama ever return?

    Activity:

    Boy holding up Llama Llama paper plate craft

    With two paper plates, make an outline of Llama Llama’s head, ears and scruffy hair. Cut out the eyes, color and glue together to create a Llama Llama mask!

    4. Brand New Pencils, Brand New Books

    It’s the first day of first grade! Gilbert is looking forward to learning how to read and making new friends, but . . .

    Will the teacher be nice? Will first grade be too hard? Will he like his classmates? Will they like him? Gilbert is excited and nervous at the same time and maybe your littles will relate.

    Activity:

    What's in My Backpack book activity exampleDownload the below activity to help your little one prepare their backpack. They’ll need more than just books and pencils!

    Clickable image to Brand New Pencils, Brand New Books book activity

    5. David Goes to School

    In this sequel, young David heads off to school for the first time and David’s teacher certainly has her hands full! From running, yelling, and pushing with abandon to chewing gum in class, David’s high-energy antics fill each day with trouble. David’s unruly romp through school is sure to bring a smile to the face of even the best-behaved reader. Read along as David learns the school rules.

    Activity:

    Picture of David Goes to School book activitySchool rules are very important. See if your child knows the difference between good school behavior and what is not allowed with this “Yes, David – No, David” activity.

    Clickable link to David Goes to School book activity download

    More First Day of School Favorites!

    Interested in more back-to-school posts? Check out this post to download a free first day of school printable!

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  • Free Father’s Day Printables Bundle

    If Father’s Day crept up on you (like I know it did me) we’ve got you covered. FREE Father’s Day printables! A fun and easy way to show the father figure in your child’s life some love.

    If you’ve never had your child fill in a fun fact sheet about their Dad, you’re in for a real treat. Not only are the responses absolutely priceless, but it’s also a gift that will be fun to look back on in years to come.

    Additionally, we’ve created a super simple and sweet card from mom included in the bundle.

    The printable card and fun fact questionnaire are available for download below!

    While helping my oldest fill out his fun facts printable, we learned some valuable information about Dad. Apparently he is all of 3 years old, loves broccoli of all foods, and his favorite thing to do is dig for worms! Ha!

    I’m confident that we’ll be laughing about these questionnaire responses when we look back on this in the future.

    It’s also hard to find the perfect gift for dad. Most years I’m left scrambling around trying to find something that is both desired and meaningful. With these Father’s Day printables you’ll at least have one item to knock it out of the park!

    Wishing all of the loving Daddies out there a very happy Father’s Day, but especially the one who claims me and my little wildlings.

    Looking for more fabulous printables? Check out our Summer Activity Planner! 



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  • The States I’ve Visited – A Printable Travel Log & Learning Activity for Kids

    It is a personal bucket list item of mine to visit all 50 states and if possible, the National Parks within their limits. With summer road trips and family vacations on the horizon, I wanted to find a way to pass this passion for travel along to my oldest who appears to share the same adventure spirit.

    Additionally, I wanted to create a fun way to learn about the 50 states and the protected lands we call our National Parks.

    The parks offer an exceptional gateway to the unique features each state has to offer. By highlighting each park visited my hope is that he will be encouraged to continue to visit these sites throughout his life.

    Above all, it’s important that my son understands the seriousness of protecting these sacred properties that our memories are made on.

    The printable domestic travel log and learning activity for kids (available for download below!) is a great way to foster an excitement for travel and exploration, and serves as a good introduction to the states that embody this vast, beautiful country. It can be printed and placed in a binder or framed on the wall for display.

    We hope your littles enjoy adding marks to the checklist year after year, and learn more about the 50 states as they color in the shapes on the map.

    Here are a few photos of my son filling out his own domestic travel log and how we’ve decided to display this fun learning activity for kids!

    We decided to make the map colorful but it would be fun to color code each state by year visited or otherwise! It is displayed here in a frame but a binder with page protectors is also a good idea to preserve the log.

    For the 50 states checklist, we added the dates that we traveled to each one (for the ones we could remember) as a memory keeper. We circled the parks that we’ve visited but a highlighter would work too!



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