Monday, October 9, 2017

25 Free Halloween Printables for Kids

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It's getting close to Halloween!! I love this holiday because it affords so much in terms of creative and imaginative activities for kids. There are so many great resources to find fun activities for kids during the Halloween season. Here are a few of them that have free printables to use with kids.
 


Halloween is a fun time for kids and adults alike. Here are some exciting activities that can be done with children during this imaginative season.
 

Enjoy some relaxing coloring with this Halloween Coloring Book.
Practice shape recognition with these Shape-o-Lanterns.
Have more coloring fun with these Halloween Color Pages.
Exercise young minds with this I Spy Halloween game.
 


Create some Halloween bookmarks with this free printable page.
Complete a Halloween scavenger hunt  by Typically Simple
Have some fun with stampers and these Halloween dot printables.
Enjoy some coloring time with this Happy Halloween Coloring Page.
Give your kiddo a daily laugh with these Halloween Lunch Box Jokes.



Play bingo at your holiday parties with this Halloween Costume Bingo.
Celebrate the Halloween season with this Halloween Traditions Countdown.
Practice fine motor skills with these Halloween Lacing cards.
Build a Monster with this fun, free printable.
Create your own haunted house with this fun flap printable.
 


Play a game of Halloween Charades with these fun prompts.
Keep young hands busy at home or in the classroom with a Halloween word search.
Play Halloween Bingo as a family activity or for a class party.
Have some Halloween fun with this spooky edition of mad-libs.
Use this Halloween Color by number as a free extra activity.


 

Work those brains and practice counting with this Halloween I Spy & Count sheet.
Break out the dot stampers and decorate these Halloween Dot printables.
Practice handwriting with this Halloween themed Color & Trace.
Explore a colors and a favorite story with the Very Hungry Pumpkin felt board activity.
Have some word fun with a Halloween Word Scramble.

Find more fun Halloween activities for kids on my Halloween Pinterest board.




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Sunday, October 1, 2017

Moments Matter: October Photo Prompts for Moms

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The Moments Matter monthly photo challenge has helped me  to focus more on the little moments in our lives these past few months. I so hopeful that other mommas are benefitting like I am. Often the photo prompts lead me to look for moments that may relate in our day. It's made me much more introspective. If you follow me on Instagram, you can see how it has affected me. Or the prompts can act as ideas for daily activities. That's the beauty of this project... it allows us to focus more intently on ourselves, our family, or just life in general.
 
There are several ways you can join me in this project:
  • Use the photo prompts to capture moments in your day that fit them.  Join me on Instagram and share them or keep them for just you and your family to enjoy.
  • Use the topics to hone your photography skills.
  • You can also use the prompts as inspiration for activities for you to do with your children. 
  • If you can’t participate every day, no worries.  Just post when the prompts speak to you and relate to the moments in your day.
  • Share whatever photos you like with the tag #momentsmatter to share the special moments in your day.
  Here are the photo prompts for this month:
 
 
 
 
Don't forget to use the hashtag #momentsmatter when you share!  See you on Instagram!
 



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Friday, September 29, 2017

Free Halloween Word Search for Kids {free printable}

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It's the Halloween season! Time to the pumpkin patch, make costumes, and go trick-or-treating. There are so many fun activities for kids during this time of year.  But one of my favorite memories from school is the "downtime" work that we would do. You know... easy things like crosswords and word searches that made me think... but not too hard. So I created this free Halloween word search for kids.
 
 
My son loves to sit and do word searches frequently. I appreciate them because, though they fall under the category of a "worksheet", they are fun for him. And he can use them to fulfill screen-free times. This free Halloween word search can also be used in the classroom as a break from curriculum or as bonus work for students.
 
 
Get the Halloween Word Search Printable here


I'm going to try to get one out a new word search for you every month. Are there any themes you’d like to see? Leave a comment below and let me know! You can also find other free word searches I've created here.






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Monday, September 25, 2017

Disney Princess: Dream It, Be It Toys "R" Us Free Event for Kids

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Do you have a Disney Princess lover in your house? Then you *have* to check out this free Disney Princess: Dream It, Be It event hosted by Toys "R" Us on September 30. See below for more details...

 (post contains affiliate links)

At the Dream It, Be It Disney Princess event, participants are invited to dress up like princesses. Attendees will get free gifts, take home a dream activity journal, enjoy a storytime, and get a free princess poster! There is also a Dream Wall that kiddos can share how their favorite princess inspires them.
 
I've signed up for Sunny (3 years) and I to attend. I'm seriously considering dressing like a princess with her. Why not? I think it would be a great memory for her to have and some great mommy/daughter time. Many locations are full or almost full, so click here and register now!
 
Need a dress for your little princess? Find one below.
 

I hope you have a memorable day if you chose to attend this event. I know that it will be a dream come true for many little princesses (and maybe princes).






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Friday, September 22, 2017

Free Family Ninjago Activity at All Toys "R" Us Stores

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The new Lego Ninjago movie is set to premiere in theaters today! There's so much fun to be had with Legos and Toys "R" Us is joining in on the fun! Check out below to see how your child can participate and get a FREE Ninjago lego set.
 
 
A fun, free activity. Click here to find your local store and reserve a spot! You can find more details here. Below is the Ninja Training Temple that kids will get to build.
 
 
 
Don't miss this free fun family activity! Sign up while spots remain! Can't make it? Find Lego Ninjago building sets on Amazon below. (Affiliate link)
 
Happy building! NINJA-GO!!! 



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Monday, September 11, 2017

10 Ways to Show Your Children You Are Listening

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Holy cow. Am I the only one whose kiddo goes on and on about Minecraft or DanTDM? I'm going to admit that I've no clue what he's talking about half of the time. But I still listen. Because I need him to know that what is important to him is important to me. Because I need him to trust that my ears are open to issues that are big and small to him. Because this will lay the groundwork for when he's older.
 

 
It's not always easy to listen to everything our children always have to say. Sometimes that work we've brought home, emails, or housework scream at us louder than our kids. But it's imperative that children feel they can talk to their parents about anything... The teen years are fast approaching. They have to feel as though they have an "open mic" to talk about problems they face, whether it be struggling in math, bullying, or issues with their body.
 
All that in mind, I've created a list of ten ways parents can show kids they are listening.
 
1. Put down the phone. Empty your hands. Remove any distractions you may have that would deter you from devoting your attention to your child OR that might make them feel you are not fully paying attention.
 
2. Get down on their level. If your child is not at eye level with you, sit or kneel so you can look directly in their eyes. Not only does this make you less intimidating, but it offers a more intimate setting for the conversation, whether it's about a fear they have or that they just want spaghetti for dinner.
 
3. Check your body language. Having your arms folded across your chest or your hands on your hips is not showing that you are open to the interaction. Relax your body, soften your face, and put a glint in your eye. Sprinkle some of that loving momma pixie dust over yourself. It'll do wonders.
 
4. Let them know you are listening. This can be done as simply as saying, "I can't wait to hear about..." or "I'm very interested in what you think about..."
 
5. Smile. Putting on a smile is like smacking a "welcome" sign on your face. It tells your child that you are open and receptive to what they have to say.
 
6. Make your facial expressions match their sentiment. I just told you to smile, right? But if the matter at hand is a serious one, obviously smiling is not the correct response.
 
7. Nod your head and give small verbal feedback. There's nothing that drives me nuts more than talking to someone and having give me a blank stare in return. It makes me feel as though my words don't matter or that I'm boring them. We can avoid creating these feelings in our children by nodding at what they're saying and inserting "Oh, really?!", "Wow!", and "Oh, my!" are simple utterances that can show your child that you're an active participant in the conversation.

8. Ask questions about what they're talking about. In addition to small verbal feedback, ask questions about the topic your child is speaking about, even if you already know the answers. This not only shows them that you're listening, but that you want to know more.
 
9. Repeat what they've said. Once they've told their story or shared their worries, give a 1-2 sentence summary. This is as simple as saying, "Wow! That sounds like an interesting game. I'd like to play it with you sometime." Or, "I'm so sorry your friend made you feel that way. What can I do to help you feel better?"
 
10. Touchback later on about the topic. Just because the conversation has ended, doesn't mean it has to be over entirely. At bedtime, you can thank them for teaching you about their new game, lesson at school, or other topic. If it's a more serious topic, touch base with them on the next day or two to find out how the situation is going.
 
 
 
Having conversations with our children don't always evolve organically. Sometimes we have to do things that don't come naturally to us so that we can be who they need us to be. Talk to your kiddos... It's not always easy... I KNOW! But it's so worth it to open those lines of communication.
 



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Friday, September 1, 2017

Color Sorting Pick Up Sticks Activity for Preschoolers

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The other day, my 3 year old dumped a pack of multi-colored popsicle sticks on the floor. No amount of cajoling or creative attempts could get her to pick up her mess. Then it occurred to me... I had these color scavenger hunt bags in the hutch from years ago... I set up a color sorting invitation to play with them that would simultaneously get the mess picked up. And wouldn't you know? They did the trick...
 
 
Within minutes, we were having an educational moment filled with my preschooler practicing math skills through sorting by color and cleaning up her own mess. It was a win-win situation!
 
The color sorting bags I set out were just small kraft paper gift bags from the craft store. I had previously labeled them with colored squares and adhesive letters spelling out their respective color names. I lined them up, dropped a few sticks in, then commented on how much fun I was having. That was all it took to intrigue her. She wanted to try to do it herself.
 
 
This activity is a great way to help children practice identify colors, sort by type, and work on the pincher grasp needed to pick up each stick. If you don't have colored popsicle sticks, it can also be done with duplo blocks, craft pom poms, or any other multicolored item you've got in your stash. It was also an exercise for me as I had to search for a way to encourage my young learner to participate... a hefty job sometimes. Am I right?

 

If you're looking for other great color oriented activities for toddlers and preschoolers, check out my compilation of 50 Rainbow Activities for Kids and our Math with Tongs color activity.

 



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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Moments Matter: September Photo Prompts for Moms

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The Moments Matter monthly photo challenge has helped me so much in the past few months. I only hope that it's reaching other mommas like me who need to focus on the little things of each day. So much of the time, the prompts have led me toward introspection. If you follow me on Instagram, you'll definitely see this. But that's the beauty of this project... it allows us to focus on ourselves, our family, or just life in general.
 
There are several ways you can join me in this project:
  • Use the photo prompts to capture moments in your day that fit them.  Join me on Instagram and share them or keep them for just you and your family to enjoy.
  • Use the topics to hone your photography skills.
  • You can also use the prompts as inspiration for activities for you to do with your children. 
  • If you can’t participate every day, no worries.  Just post when the prompts speak to you and relate to the moments in your day.
  • Share whatever photos you like with the tag #momentsmatter to share the special moments in your day.
  Here are the photo prompts for this month:
 
 
 
Don't forget to use the hashtag #momentsmatter when you share!  See you on Instagram!
 



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Saturday, August 26, 2017

Grieving Another Lost Summer

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Well, school is back in session. Am I the only one feeling those pangs of regret that we didn't do all we wanted to with our kiddos over the break? We get 18 summers with our children before they go off to college. It seems like a lot. But when I realize that I've only got ten more with my son, I grow regretful... especially after this past summer.

 
I had big plans for all types of fun things we'd do... Printed out a calendar for each month and penciled in activities we'd prepaid for and those I wanted to do. You know... trips to the zoo,  museums, or just local sites that we'd not been to in a while.
 
Then summer happened... And I became overwhelmed. I didn't know how to handle these two children (ages 3 and 8) simultaneously. Didn't know how to keep everyone happy. How to spread my attention so that they both felt it was "fair".
 
Added into that was the onset of my son's behavioral problems the second week of summer. To keep it all simple and protect his privacy, it was a rough summer; a lost summer... Each day turned into survival instead of enjoyment. Of counting down until bedtime instead of counting down the moments we'd remember.

And it breaks my heart. Because his 8 year old summer, her 3 year old summer... they're ones I won't get back. I only hope that in future years they'll realize what a hard season we were going through as a family unit. I pray that they'll realize that their momma did their best to create memories, to offer experiences for them to grow, and that I did what the hell I could so that we all made it through with the least amount of traumatization....

As I said, for my son's privacy, I can't tell you what our summer was like. But in general terms, I'll say that it was horrendous... One I thought I'd never experience.

So what do we do now that summer is over? How do we heal? We start by focusing on what went right with the summer. Count those blessings, momma. Then, see what can be rescheduled for other times during the year. Maybe the flurry of activity will be less overwhelming if spread out a bit. Lastly, realize that sometimes the best laid plans are spoiled by the twists of fate. Stop blaming yourself. This was the hardest for me.... 

It's not easy being a mom. I don't think anything in the world prepares us for the struggles, the decisions we have to make, or for being under so much pressure. Take it easy on yourself. Remember that many of your friends only share their "Facebook worthy" moments. Many are struggling just like you are... Follow your heart. Love hard. And remember that you're doing the best you can in this very moment.




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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Making Kindness Rocks: A Random Act of Kindness for Kids

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Have you heard of The Kindness Rocks Project? It's an amazing new movement designed to inspire and share joy with random strangers.
As a new contributor to the amazing website, No Time for Flashcards, I've shared an amazing synopsis of the project as well as how you and your kiddos can participate. Check it out here!





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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

20 Backpacks that Empower Girls: Drop the Stereotype

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The back to school season is here! Lots of new backpack shopping being done these next couple weeks. I always love seeing empowered girls (and boys) that push past the gender stereotypes in their backpack selection. Girls shouldn't be pushed towards pink and purple princesses and boys shouldn't be encouraged to opt for "masculine" themes like superheroes. That being said, here are 20 great examples that empower children on their first day of school.
 
This post contains affiliate links
 
Now. Before I get any rash comments about focusing more on girls than boys, I'm going to remind you of the big push these past few years to let little girls break the stereotype and enjoy "boy activities". Likewise, if you've been a reader for a couple years now, you'll know that I feel strongly on discouraging gender bias in children. Boys being able to express themselves in the same way without being labeled as "feminine" or a "sissy boy".
 
 So here are these amazing backpacks!
 

Spread the message of peace and love with this funky peace sign backpack.
Represent an amazing artist and activist with this Frida Kahlo backpack.
Let Mexican-American kiddos be proud of their heritage with this Mexican flag backpack.
Because sometimes you've got to be honest about superhero love without all the pink.
Promote love and equality with this rainbow heart backpack.



Send your Hermione back to school in style with a Hogwarts themed backpack.
The Barbie line has so much more diversity now, which is evident in this backpack.
Got a Wonder Woman lover? This backpack has an attached cape!
Spread the vision of MLK Jr's dream with this awesome backpack.
Smart girls rule and so does this backpack with a science themed pattern.



Let your kiddo get her science geek on with this sweet galaxy backpack.
I'm so in love with this Black Girls Rock backpack, I can't even...
Share the DC Superhero girl love with this colorful backpack.
Moana is a favorite princess right now because she does it on her own terms. Love this version.
Older girls can rock a Hillary pack and show that they are still "with her".


 
Ditch the pink and purple and fall in love with this blue cat love backpack.
Feelings don't make you weak, so let your kiddo rock this emoji backpack with all the feels on it.
I love this Wonder Woman pattern too much to not share another WW backpack.
Got a dinosaur lover? Get her this dinosaur backpack to rock Ross-style, lol.


Bottom line is... honor your kiddo's backpack choice. It's an expression of who they are and what message they want to send the world.





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Monday, August 14, 2017

25 Back to School Photo Ideas

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One of my favorite things about the back to school season is seeing all of the creative ways that my friends celebrate the first day of school with their kiddos. There are so many ingenious ways to commemorate the back to school season. Here are some examples of memorable first day of school photos.
 
 
So many creative mommas out there. Here are what they've come up with...
 
 
Paint a chalkboard number and use it as a photo prop.
Create chalk art that depicts what grade your child is going into.
Take a first Day of School picture using this printable.
Take a picture of the first and last days of school to compare the changes in your child.
Grab a shot of your kiddo under the school's marquee.



Grab these photo booth printables and have a fun, impromptu photo shoot.
Don't focus all your photos on faces, take a few shots of the elements of the first day.
Set some extra room in your picture and add important stats about your child.
Take a pic with this chalkboard background and ruler height measurer. I'm in love with this!
Snag a photo of your child holding a picture of themselves on the first day of school last year.
 
 
 
Make funny signs for your child to hold during the first day.
Grab some props and create a "bookworm" photo shoot.
Take a picture of your kiddo with their bestie or sibling on the school playground.
Draw out a large picture of your child's grade and have them pose in it.
Skip the typical and go for an authentic photo shoot that captures your child's spirit.
 
 
 
Create a chalkboard with your child's name, grade, and other important stats.
If you can't take a picture of your child in their classroom, snap a photo of their backpack.
Have your child write their name (as best they can) and take a picture of them with it.
Capture your little (or not so little) one walking down the hall towards their classroom.
Multiple kiddos? Label the stairs with their grades for a group shot.


 
Take a picture of your kiddo in front of a school bus with a handwritten sign of the school year.
Grab a shot of your child before and after their first day.
Line up multiple kids in height order and take a picture. Interesting how the order may change.
Make a t-shirt with your child's graduation year on it and snap a picture of them in it every year.


How do you capture your child's first day back to school?




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Thursday, August 10, 2017

First Day of School Signs for Kids {free printable}

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The first day of school is fast approaching. I always love to see pictures on Facebook of my friend's children headed off for their first day of school every year. There are so many cute back to school photo ideas out there. Last year, I created a First Day printable and it was a huge hit. So I decided to make them again this year.
 

The first day of school pictures are some of the most treasured for many parents. Get other first day of school picture ideas here. I love taking them of my kiddos and seeing those shared by my friends on Facebook. It's always such a joyful occurrence to see how kiddos grow from year to year. It definitely adds a bright spot to my social media feeds.
 
Below you can find the link for my free printable first day of school signs. I made sure to cover all the grades, even transitional kindergarten (this seems to be a much skipped over milestone for some kiddos). I've also included the titles of the high school classes instead of just grade number. Use whichever you prefer.
 
All you have to do to get the sign, is go to the link below and save the file. Then you simply print the page(s) that you need. You can print on regular paper or on cardstock. I've also seen people print and put them in frames for their children to hold.


If you happen to use these signs and share them on social media, I'd love it if you tagged me or used the hashtag #crayonfreckles so I can see. That's where the joy is for me.




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