Summer is almost here, and with it will come these LONG stretches of time that need to be filled. You can put your family on a schedule that breaks the day into manageable chunks. You can run to all the activities, spend your days at those dollar movies, head to the beach, and swim at the pool. And yes. We do think you should do those things, if you and your kids are into it. But also? Sometimes you need a BREAK.
The best way to get your kids to leave you alone encourage independent play is to send them outside, and then leave them to their own devices. We recommend you splurge a little on some amazing outdoor toys for toddlers that will grow with them. The best outdoor toys for kids will last you for YEARS, and most of them aren’t even a huge investment.
Even if you need small outdoor toys that don’t take up a lot of space, you can find some amazing, open-ended outside toys for kids that will help them learn to love to play outside. So do some Amazon shopping, and then grab a cocktail and get ready to make outdoor happy hour a THING for your family this summer.
Make no mistake: We love our kids. We do. No matter what you read in the rest of this post, hold tight to that solid truth. But there is another truth, that is just as true: We HATE some of the games they require us to play with them. In no particular order, here are the games we wouldn’t mind never ever ever not once having to play ever again.
With kindergarten becoming increasingly academic, I’ve noticed a push for parents to teach their kids to read before school even begins. As a certified teacher, I can say that I do think there are other skills that are more important– like independence and kindness, to name two-but the need for early reading skills cannot be ignored.
The Salty Mamas are all about raising readers, which means that we start them young. But rather than focusing on just letters and phonics, we encourage you to teach your child to be a reader– and that means going beyond the basics. Here are 8 easy reading strategies you need to teach your toddler to read- or teach your preschooler to read! We promise their future teachers will thank you for it.
Nothing says summer like lemonade- even though here in sunny Southern California, the lemon season is happening now, in this little space between winter and spring. My sweet friend Cynthia gifted me dozens of lemons over the last couple of weeks, and we are definitely making use of this little burst of sunshine. We got the kids involved in washing, cutting, and juicing the lemons (using these kid safe knives and this juicer). Then we put some of the juice in the freezer, placing one-cup portions in Ziploc bags, and froze them flat for future, less-lemony seasons. Finally, when the big jobs were done, we celebrated by making a big pitcher of our favorite homemade lemonade recipe.
This week was the highest of highs (Universal Studios! Finally feeling well! Lots of drop-off playdates!) and some fairly low lows (No sleep! Overcooked dinners! All the shaving cream everywhere it shouldn’t be!). But in a week of chaos, here are six things that still managed to catch our eye.
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1. Our Favorite Wallet is Now Available in Black
We may own like six All About the Benjamin Wallets between us, but we most definitely need two more- because now it’s available in BLACK. This wallet has all the pockets and sections you’ll ever need- and if there happen to be any other Dave Ramsey enthusiasts out there, we HIGHLY recommend it for your envelope system.
2. We Were Featured in Two Amazing Round-Ups
The world agrees- The Salty Mamas write posts worth sharing. (Is that braggy? Pretty sure that’s braggy. But anyways. We’re gonna go ahead and brag.) Check out the post we are featured in at SuzanneHines.org , where she is giving out some amazing Spring Break travel tips (and sharing our flight and road trip posts). We were also flattered to make the cut for Friday Favorites over at Misadventures of Megan, where she’s asking her readers which of the 7 Types of Moms You’ll Meet at an Indoor Playground they are.
3. We Got The World’s Cutest Necklaces
Are these necklaces A.) Crazy Adorable B.) Super Punny C.) Made By a Crafty Mama we know IRL or D.) All of the Above? Give yourself a pat on the back if you guessed D, and then go buy a “Donuts are My Love Language” necklace for yourself. She also takes custom orders if you’ve got something else in mind!
4. Jaymi is Getting a New Camera
After years of debate, Jaymi’s finally pulling the trigger on a DSLR. She’s thinking of getting a refurbished Canon Rebel T6 from Amazon, but you’ve got a few days left to dissuade her if you know of a better one. Also, you can look forward to crisper, cleaner images for upcoming blog posts, so woot!
5. Marbled Shaving Cream Shamrocks
We took our Marbled Shaving Cream Art concept to the kindergarten St. Patrick’s Day party, and it was actually not a nightmare. Yes, a 12:1 ratio is not the ideal ratio for shaving cream and paint laden projects, but we DID IT, and the kids totally loved it. As a bonus, the whole classroom now smells like squeaky-clean shaving cream instead of five year old toots and gluesticks, so we’re gonna call it a win.
6. Spring is Almost Sprung!
We’re more than ready to usher in spring, and we’ve only got a few more days to wait! We are so excited for our April plans- birthday celebrations, strawberry picking, and a staycation at Great Wolf Lodge are in the works- and we are just desperately hoping the weather catches the memo. We’re ready for sunny days and blue skies for our outdoor adventures!
So now you know what we’re looking forward to this week, we want to hear from you- what are you most excited about in the coming days and weeks? Drop a comment below!
I usually have no idea what’s trendy or what “the kids” are talking about, but every once in awhile I’m totally on point with trends. I even feel like I’ve helped start one or two . When I got married, I wanted red velvet cake because it had been my favorite and my wedding colors involved red. But the bakery we used didn’t even carry red velvet at the time. Six months later, and BOOM- red velvet is all the rage, every bakery around carries it and every bride has it.
Then four years ago, my friends and I started a co-op play school for our young toddlers. It quickly became known that if it was my turn to teach, there would be a sensory activity. Usually it involved some sort of flubber-yes flubber- back before I knew the word “slime” was cool. I never intended to become the Mom who makes all the slime, but somehow I found myself passing around my recipe all the time.
When Jaymi asked me if I’d share my no-fail fluffy slime recipe with The Salty Mamas, I happily obliged. This recipe produces amazing, fluffy slime that your little one will want to play with for hours- and you might even have some fun too! I get my daughter in on the mixing, and she loves picking the colors and scents.
From an early age, I have always been both a teacher’s pet and an overachiever. I passed all the tests. I got all the awards. I always often came in first. For years, I’ve eagerly been awaiting my own kids’ turn. I told myself that I wouldn’t be pushy, wouldn’t assume my kid would be the best and the brightest, and was determined to let her go her own way. When the first few award ceremonies went by and Lila didn’t get an award, I tried my best to shrug it off. That’s okay! Everyone can’t get an award, or they would be meaningless! I mean, she has her moments, but she is fiery and passionate and smart and funny and AWESOME. Her day will come!
And today, when I opened up her homework folder and saw that slip of fancy copy paper, with the hint of a fancy border showing- well, I just knew. Our Her day had finally come.
“Congratulations! Your child has been selected to receive an award. Please join us for a ceremony on Tuesday, as Lila is recognized for… Alertness.”
As a preschool art teacher, I have to say that I strongly favor process-based art for kids. The research all shows that the true benefit of art for kids comes from the process of making something- mixing colors, experimenting with lines and swirls, and getting hands-on experience with creative expression. Your average Valentine’s Day art projects, with their prescribed colors and shapes and outcomes, are typically not in line with process-based activities.
I’m also a mother. I want some art for my dang refrigerator, gosh darn it.
So I’ve created this fun, process based art activity that will end with a product that you can display. By limiting the colors you present the kids with (pink, purple, and red for example), you can ensure that the project stays on theme- and the kids will be none the wiser. (Or feel free to go rogue here- this project can be accomplished with any colors and any shape of paper- including a plain old rectangle.) Continue reading “Valentine’s Day Marbled Print Art”→
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I don’t know how it works in your circle of friends, but in ours? We are heading full-throttle into what we affectionately call Birthday Season. From now until the end of April, we will likely be attending anywhere from one to four birthday parties every.single.weekend. And my kids LOVE it. But my budget? Yeah, it doesn’t.
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From the time my kids were little little, I had dreams for them. All the usual things – I wanted them to be happy. I wanted them to follow their dreams. I wanted them to be good and decent and kind human beings.
And I wanted them to love reading.
I know how much I’ve gained from falling back in love with books. From the practical – expanding vocabulary, being well-read to engage in conversations with others, having a good and purposeful hobby – to the fantastical. That feeling of getting completely lost in a book, expanding my imagination, exploring new worlds, ideas, feelings. All of it.
I wanted that for my kids.
So for the past four and a half years, I’ve surrounded my kids with books. Story time at the local libraries, reading as many books as we can every night before bed, sitting and reading a book in front of them while they play, teaching them to take a book everywhere, and basically never saying “No” when they ask for a new book. Continue reading “The Magic of Reading with Your Kids”→