Creating a kids work station

Creating a space where kids school aged can do work and pre-school kids can be creatively and practice their skills is so important in making sure you lay the foundation for good study skills.

When tight on space the kitchen table often becomes the best option.  As parents prepare dinner; questions can be answered, daydreamers can be brought back down and the unmotivated can be re-directed.  I had to create a quick and easy solution so when it was time for homework to pause and dinner to hit the table it was a quick clean up.

In a quick afternoon project we make this colorful caddy using

  • old soup cans
  • spray paint
  • a ribbon
  • hot glue gun
  • toilet paper tubes

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Wash and clean empty tin cans.  Using a variety of sizes worked well for us.  Peal the paper labels off and get ready for painting.  Spray paint two coats of any color of your choosing.  IMG_6214

Wait until dry and place a vertical line of hot glue on one can.  Press it onto its mate joining them together.  Repeat with additional cans until all 3 cans are glued tightly together.  Place fabric ribbon around all three and glue where they touch the cans and each other.  (The ribbon is purely decorative and doesn’t really provide any structural support in holding the cans together.) I suppose you could wrap the cans in some tight fishing line if you wanted more support, before putting the ribbon over it.

Using toilet paper tubes as dividers in the larger of the cans allows you to separate pencils from pens from highlighters from colored pencils etc.

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As time goes on and you use this caddy more and more you’ll realize what you want to add.  With a first grader we ended up making sure glue and a huge eraser were added.  IMG_6201There are of course tons of other products out there that help solve this need.  I’ve seen them made with plastic shower caddies and those are nice because of the handle.  I’m sure this won’t last forever but it’s gotten 3 good years thus far.

Happy crafting, cheers.

Can you handle my mantel? 

Here are 12 months/attempts at decorating my mantle.

January– I went with a snowflake theme which was super cute.  Ended up using a painting that my son did in early December. If you want direction on making your own snowflake  click here.

February — Sprinkle it with love. The red looked bold against the yellow wall.  
March — This is where I started thinking thru decorations for the mantle last year. For the blog post that started my mantle adventure click here.IMG_3763

April–  I found to be hard because my motivation and creative juices were low.  I made due with a ton of lush greens and pops of Easter colors thanks to eggs in clear vases.      

May & June– will share the same design as life just gets so busy. This year I’ll used a 12 meter boat hull that my uncle made for me many years ago.  The craftsmanship is amazing and he didn’t finish installing the 6ft rig and sails as a project for my husband and I.  Needless to say we have not found the time to commit to doing it right. 

July– My favorite holiday and I did not have a shortage of option to pull from. 

August — Raced by as all summer months do.  Keeping it simple and beachy was the name of the game.  

September — In our house it is time for back to school and football.  I raided the back to school supplies and my son’s toy stash.

October–Playing with black and orange was the focus for this month.  Next year I’ll invest in a few more skulls and black cats. 

November– I find it the easiest if I just pull from nature.  Pinecones, mums and beautiful colored leaves did just the trick.  

December — Nutcrackers seemed to hit this spot this Christmas.  Rich reds and golds worked perfect with the Christmas tree my husband had from post college days.  The vase of chestnuts became an entertaining evening as my kids tried to crack them open with little success.  

To see last year’s Christmas mantle which featured a beach and nautical twist; using a brown, silver and cream theme click here.  I must say I’m excited to start again in 2017 with adding on to last year’s ideas or throwing them completely out the door and going in a whole new direction.  We’ll see what the next 12 attempts hold in store, stay tuned.

Back to School

It’s that time again when we all have to dive into a back-to-school routine.  All those amazing lazy days of summer have hopefully made some lasting memories and the excitement of a new school year is here.  If your house is like mine, morning are not where we shine.  No matter what time we’re awake we’re always rushing out the door.

I’ve taken to the school of thought that we pack bags as soon as we come back. i.e. swim bags get emptied and re-filled with dry towel, and dry bathing suit so they are ready for the next week.  I am also one who tries to have it all prepped and ready the night before.  We practiced last year, using what in our house is called the “tomorrow hook”.  Just one of those fancy command hooks square on the back of the door.  It is loaded nightly with what you’re going to wear the next day as well as your bag(s) are on the knob ready for school and activities.

Above the command hook is a second smaller hook that hangs the packing sheet.  This pictorial weekly calendar outlines extra activities and what needs to be packed for them. 

Learning new things before the big first day is so important. Little hands need lots of practice doing what we think of as the easiest tasks.  My kindergartener has spent the summer opening lunch items at the beach and making sure that water bottles and juice boxes won’t slow her down, at what is a very short lunch time.  Last thing you want is your little learner to spend half of their 22min lunch trying to ask a teacher for help.

The other thing that came as a reminder from my cousin, Laurie H.,  the mom of an older student is carpool protocol. “A plea from a carpool parent to anyone with a child starting kindergarten. I truly offer this as a tip from someone who has been there and did not know I needed to work with my child on this prior to kindergarten.  Please spend a few minutes this summer working with your child so they know how to do up their seatbelt during carpool.  Some kids have never had to do this and the pressure of a lingering carpool line will make mom and child crazy (not to mention everyone waiting behind you). We want everyone to be safe…while keeping things moving along!  If you need to park your car in the carpool line, get out to escort your child to their seat, buckle him or her in, and then walk back around to your side of the car to leave…you might want to consider just parking and work your way up to carpool!”

As you go thru the supply list it isn’t a bad idea to make a parent one.  Mine each year includes ordering long lasting labels from companies like Mabel’s Labels or Name Bubbles.  I also run a sheet of return address labels in my computer with just my kid’s name.  I use these for disposal items such as juice boxes and sunscreen.  Items that I don’t want to have used the more expensive labels on because they will be tossed.Our school is also peanut free so we have to include a note that says what alternative we are using in the sandwich.  I printed these out ahead of time as not to have to hand write this each morning.

In addition to name labels I pre print a handful of blank notes to teachers, school office and money envelopes.  In the hopes of keeping myself organized and on time these are ready to grab and go.  Hello Cuteness (formerly AnythingButPerfect) totally helps me out with these adorable free downloads.  

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My husband is the breakfast man. He loves to eat and cook breakfast foods. His cheese eggs are by far better than mine.  There are days when he’s not available to cook and we are not on our best time table.  I always make sure there are breakfast foods and fruit that can go with us in the car or to the bus stop.

I hope these will help you and your family jump start into another great school year.  Please share any other helpful hints for those of us that struggle in the AM.