Effing Four Year Olds, Kids' Activities, momlife, parenting, The Salties, Tips & Hacks

10 School Readiness Skills (That Have NOTHING to Do with Academics!)

 

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The school year is rapidly approaching, and for the very first time, I am preparing my own little girl for going “Back to School.” As a former teacher, there are soooo many things I want to teach her before school starts- and believe it or not, letters and numbers are the least of my concerns! Here’s ten things that you can teach your kids that your Kindergarten/TK/Pre-K teacher will LOVE you for.

1. How to Write Their Name
This is a really, really hard thing to teach whole group. Spend a little time having them trace their name before having them move on to writing it solo. And feel free to leave the paper and pencil approach until later- check out Practical Name Writing in 12 Fun Ways by Hands On As We Grow.

2. Cutting on a Line/Curve
Similar to the skill above, scissor skills are really tricky to teach when you’re no longer one-on-one. Show your kiddo how to hold the scissors, to use them safely, and to move the paper (not the scissors) as they cut. You can draw lines on paper for them to practice with, or buy this colorful activity book that gets progressively harder with each page.

3. Coloring Skills
Now listen, we LOVE a kid who colors outside of the lines. BUT, there are times when coloring inside is important, too. Help your child to learn the difference between coloring for fun and coloring on schoolwork. Help them to decide when to use “realistic colors” versus when they can go rogue. Any coloring book can be used for this, but this fun book really narrows in on these skills.

4. Glue Skills
Let’s save the poor teacher some mess, yeah? Can you imagine cleaning up after thirty kids with glue bottles? Let’s don’t do that to him or her. Work on squeezing the glue bottle just a little (we use the phrase “Dot, dot. Not a lot!”). This exclusive, Salty Mama printable can help your kiddo to practice this skill, along with a few others on the list. Also work on using gluesticks. Need more help with gluesticks? This cute little craft kit  will give your child plenty of practice- and they won’t even know they’re working on school readiness skills!

School Readiness Printable
You can work on several school skills at once with this fun printable craft! Get yours here!

5. Pencil Grip
I don’t want your child’s teacher to have to run around to each student and show them how to hold a pencil. Think of all the time wasted! Have your child practice using a functional grip (on or two fingers on top of the pencil, with the thumb underneath). Is your child struggling? Use shorter pencils or crayons, which eliminates some of the other, less useful grips. Need more tips on how to help with this? Head on over to Living for the Sunshine to read more about ways to practice.

6. Folding a Paper in Half
Okay, this is a weird one, but there are a LOT of school crafts that involve folding a paper in half. Practice folding length-wise and width-wise (like a “hot dog” or a “hamburger,” if you remember from your school days). You can have them practice their scissor skills on their folded paper by tracing a half-heart and letting them cut it out.

7. Workbook Skills
I am no fan of workbooks personally, but there are going to be plenty of them at school. Grab one from the dollar store or the Target Dollar spot, or order a fun one here. Kids can practice valuable school-skills like circling an object, drawing lines from one item to another, and finding the line where they should write their name (or writing on the top right-hand corner if there isn’t one).

8. Putting Things in and Out of Their Backpack
Can you imagine the first-day-chaos if none of the kids could do this? Practice opening and closing backpacks with your kids, and make sure they are able to open any containers/packages that you plan to send to lunch with them. There’s not a ton of time to eat, and you probably don’t want your kid waiting the whole lunch period for it to be their turn for the lunch aide to open their Pirate’s Booty or juice box.

9. Taking Off/Putting On Their Own Sweater (Shoes, Etc.)
Big kid school is not like little-kid-preschool or daycare- there just aren’t enough grown-up hands to assist with these tasks! Help your child to become independent with their own zips/ties/snaps. And avoid sending them to school in shoes with ties until they can retie them on their own!

10. Wiping Their Own Booty (TK and Up, at the Least)
I mean, I’m just saying.  I can almost guarantee that wiping booties was not a part of your child’s teacher’s credential program, and someone’s gotta get it done. It’s gonna have to be your kid, so get to work on this one- stat.

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Bujo, Mama Mojo, MicroLuxuries, momlife, Tips & Hacks

Micro Luxury Monday: For the Love of Bullet Journaling

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When I was in high school, my 10th grade History teacher made us all take our notes in a spiral notebook – the bane of lefties everywhere, but I digress – and part of our assignment was that we had to make them artistic. Whether it was doodling in the margins, using markers for headings or drawings, or trying different handwriting fonts, we were to do something to enhance our notes. The idea was that it would engage us more and we would retain the information better. There were groans from much of the class but I started to fantasize about the markers I was going to ask my Mom to get for me. I loved making the pages beautiful and making my notes come to life with my drawings – bad as they probably were. I’m no artist, but that wasn’t the point. The point was to connect in an artistic way.

I’m grateful for that teacher that made us make that artistic component a priority. As the years went by, the markers fell by the wayside. There wasn’t much room for doodles in college and grad school. Working life presented even fewer opportunities to play artist. Then came parenthood….I looked forward to getting to bust out thick coloring books with my kids, opening a new box of Crayolas and running my fingers across my old friends. Reality was harsh. My perfect pages were quickly destroyed enhanced by my small assistants. Unhappy to stay on the perfectly good coloring books I gave them, they wanted to “help” me with mine. I soon realized this was not going to be the fantasy I had….I gave up. We made coloring a team project. Crayons went outside the lines, trees were purple, dogs had rainbow stripes, the ocean was orange. And I was going crazy inside.

I needed something for ME.

Enter: Bullet journaling.

Part day planner, part LIFE planner, part coloring, I am living for my bujo (what the cool kids call the bullet journal). I would LOVE to dedicate about an hour a day to making it beautiful, but alas reality is more like carving out 15 minutes to dedicate to it’s pages. Some days I can be more creative other days I just have to get my grocery list down before I forget everything. There’s a TON of info out there about bullet journaling, so we’re going to focus on what has worked for us! You’ll have to play around to find out what works for you 😊

So, here are my basics:

I use a Classic Notebook from May Designs. It’s available in a larger size as well, but I like the classic because it’s small enough for me to toss into basically any purse. I use my bujo as a very functional journal that goes everywhere with me, so that’s important for my use. You’ll want to get the dot grid for the inside which will help you draw your calendars, lists, basically anything. I love the May 20668189_10214250399720253_793223806_nDesigns books because there are TONS of seriously stunning prints available for your cover and you can personalize your book with your monogram, family name, at home company, etc. I probably spent about three hours trying to decide what I want my covers to look like, but that’s because (a) Libra and (b) there are just that many cute choices.

I mentioned I am a color junkie, so I go big and use markers. These triplus fineliner Staedtlers have been my favorite so far. I use these basically like pens. I also like to have something with a thicker tip for coloring and decorating, so I use these Duo Tip Staedtlers for that. Now, this FREAKED ME OUT when I started. Because I’m also a little anal about things being perfect. And when you eff up with markers you’re just screwed. So I just decided to be perfect all the time. Wait, no, that is the opposite of what happened. I messed stuff up. Not a lot, but definitely more than I’d like. And for a hot second it stressed me out. But then I was like, who cares? No one else is going to see this! Well, until now. 20705946_10214250399320243_760964557_o

Yikes. That hurts.

20684217_10214250399240241_1648788619_oBut the beauty is I can get used to it, I can incorporate it into the design, or I can cover that shit up with Washi tape. Yep, there was a big ol’ mistake under there, then wham, bam, apply Washi tape and make it look like that was your plan the whole time! Plus, washi tape is ADORABLE.

Remember how I said I take it everywhere? Well I also like to take most of my pens everywhere. And I actually have a few bujos for different things (one for life, one for 20731164_10214250296677677_117642145_nmy Thirty-One gig, one for Salty Mama stuff). That’s a lot of stuff rolling around in my bag, SO I keep it all in a Swap It Pocket. I love, love, love this product for my bujo because it has two pockets with zippers that fit the classic notebooks PERFECTLY. It keeps them flat and protects the edges from getting bent (which has happened when I just toss them into my purse solo) and I can keep markers and things in the middle section or the other zipper side. If I have the pens in the other zip pouch, I can put my wallet and cell phone in the center. Then when I change purses I just move the whole shebang over. And if you are already bullet journaling or have a planner that works for you and is larger? There’s also a Super Swap It Pocket 😉

SO, that’s what I use daily for my bujo!

Coming soon – I’ll show you some of my most used spreads and layouts and some Mommy specific ways I use my bujo, including the time I used it to measure which kid was my favorite! Can’t wait? Check out our Facebook video where I show off all these products and some of my favorite bujo pages!

Bullet Journal
Caffeine, Cheapskating, MicroLuxuries, Tips & Hacks

Mini MicroHustle- Have You Had YOUR Break Today?

There’s a bright spot in my day lately.  A beautiful oasis in a hot, hot landscape.  The promise of refreshment, enjoyment, a tiny little break.  And this magical oasis? It is likely very near to you indeed- just under the Golden Arches.

Today’s post is spotlighting the rare combination of both a MicroHustle and a MicroLuxury. Odds are, most of you already know about the glory that is the $1 Any Size Fountain Drink campaign, a rare bird that flies in each summer to make the long, warm days more bearable.  And since there is a McDonald’s on basically every corner, and most people are able to carve out a dollar here and there, and you can get to it in a drive-thru format, it is the perhaps the most accessible and the most attainable of all of life’s little luxuries.Me, Lila, Diet Coke.And as if that wasn’t enough (which, if you’ve met me, or read my blog before, or seen my Instagram -you get the idea- you know it would be enough), McDonalds had to go and outdo themselves by making an app.  A pretty darn good app, at that. Not only does the app offer perks like mobile ordering and location finders, but they have some SICK coupons and deals.   They’ve got some of the more standard discounts, like $2 off a $10 purchase, which of course I won’t turn down. But they also regularly offer a TON of good freebies. When the Dodgers win, for example, I get a free six piece nuggets with any purchase (including those $1 fountain drinks!).  Hello, snacktime! And when the Angels win, I get a free signature sandwich with purchase of fries and a dollar coke (so basically a whole meal for $3ish). On FRYdays, you can get a free Medium fry.  And, for most of the summer, I have been able to get a free McFlurry with purchase.

You heard me right, that soft-serve Oreo goodness has been within my reach somewhat regularly for free.  So basically, I can bribe  reinforce my children’s good behavior with ice cream almost any day of the week, AND get myself a Diet Coke the size of my head, for just a buck and tax. Because dreams DO come true people (as long as your dreams are as little as mine, that is).

So if you’re as into either McDonalds or Diet Coke (etc.) as I am, do yourself a favor and download the app. Then find yourself a McDonalds with a Playplace and move on in.  WiFI, endless soda, and free ice cream? Your summer has been solved. You’re welcome.

This is so not even a sponsored post. I just love McDonald’s that much.  But, how you doin’, McDonald’s? Feel free to hit me up if you WANT to sponsor us.

 

Using the McDonald's App to Get Free Stuff
koefoe party of 5, momlife, Tips & Hacks

How to Survive a Family Trip to Costco

It seems that every other weekend or so, my husband gets it in his head that we NEED something from Costco. A part of me seizes up inside because carts and samples and hot dogs and toys and clothes and so many things for the kids to ask for and so many places for them to get lost! Another part of me knows that I CANNOT send my husband alone because he will come home with a new TV, 96 beers, a giant tool chest, a squatty potty 2-pack and a gallon of potato salad. He will spend $800 and will not get the paper towels we were going for in the first place.

One might think, take a page from Jaymi’s playbook! Divide and conquer!! Check things off your list, girl! And I admit, that sounds good. But somewhere along the line we got into the habit of just being together all weekend. Even if that means five of us strolling through Costco trying not to lose each other. And for me, after five days of braving the day to day parenting alone, I want to attach to Chad like a barnacle and have him there to help deal with any tantrums, freakouts, blowouts, accidents, or injuries.costco shenanigans

So most Saturdays, after our family breakfast, we drive through the car wash (another family favorite) and then head to Costco. We’ve gotten it down to a bit of a science, so here’s what works for us – including a couple tips I KNOW you’ll love!!

1. Don’t be shy about the samples. I used to be so embarrassed to hover by the samples and get enough for Chad and the kids. No longer. I proudly announce that I’m with an entourage and take however many samples I need to survive until we get to the next aisle. Maybe even one for the road. It’s easier than having my kids throw a fit in the middle of the store. And guess what? No one cares! Except maybe the other people hovering waiting for free food, but guess what? I waited my turn patiently (I’ll turn into the sample police when it comes to waiting your turn) and they can wait for theirs. There will be more. Grab your stash and carry on.

2. Set limits about toys/books/craft supplies early. My kids go ape-shit for the books and toys at Costco. And they often have giant bins of some sort of crafts for sale. Unless you want eighty thousand puff balls and 40 baggies of glitter all over your house, set limits before you even get out of the car. I like to tell the kids they can get a book just to keep them happy. In our house we will (almost) always allow books. And a book or two is better than listening to my kids cry desperately for a GIANT BEAR THE SIZE OF MY CAR. We always give the bear a hug though. I’m not a monster.

3. Ask the cashier for an extra receipt. Yeah, you heard me right, your kids do NOT have to fight until the end of days over who gets to carry the receipt to the door and get a happy face. If you ask nicely, your cashier will print out a little extra paper so that each kid has their own!! This was maybe one of the most life-changing parenting tips I have ever received. So you’re welcome. Now, if your kids are like mine and decide to try to make the person working the exit play Pictionary with them I do not have help for you. But I do know sometimes they’ll draw a fish if you ask nicely.

4. At the food court – ask the cashier to cut your pizza slice in half. You know how the pizza slices at Costco are HUGE and your kids each want one and refuse to share? So you end up asking for a plastic knife and hacking through the thing like a bad slasher movie? No need my friends! If you ask, they will straight up slice your piece in half. AND give you an extra plate. You just gotta slide that over real stealth like and your kids have their own slice. I know. Life changing info here.

So yes, doing all the things as a family can be intimidating, but with a few tricks and tips, I promise it’s not as miserable as it sounds. And if it all backfired on you, the iced mocha at the food court isn’t half bad. You earned it.

costco