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A Fun Activity at Home for Little Kids

A Fun Activity at Home for Little Kids

Today, I’d like to share a fun activity at home for little kids this summer…because as much as I love to be an on-the-go mama, with on-the-go kids, sometimes it’s nice to just be at home and enjoy some downtime (especially in the afternoon when it is so HOT to play outside!).

On the flip side, I can only play Legos or My Little Ponies so much before my eye starts to twitch (just keepin’ it real, moms!).  Which means that I am constantly trying to invent (or have the kids invent and create) fun indoor games to play…and if I can get some stealthy learning lessons in there, I will!  Here’s what I call the “Toy Store” game…and it kept them busy for at least two hours!

Prep work

First, I explained that we were going to make a toy store in our playroom – you can pretty much make up any kind of store, but we liked the idea of a toy store the best.  I thought if we played grocery store, they may eat all the “merchandise” before the game even began – lol!

I asked them each to pick seven toys (you can choose any number you want) and set them aside.

“Build” your toy store

Next, I gave them the task of “building” their store.  We have these large play “bricks,” which worked perfectly, but let their imaginations take over.  Part of the fun is letting them create this space!  Get out blankets, blocks, fabric boxes, let them move kid furniture around…whatever they want to do.  My one rule – they had to work together as a team.


Then, I had them work on price tags. Here’s where you can sneak in a math lesson and work on fine motor skills.  Each of my kiddos have different things they need to practice, so I assigned each kid a job.  My 5-year-old had to trace rectangles (to immulate price tags) and then carefully cut them out. Next, my 7-year-old assigned each price tag a different monetary value.

A Fun Activity at Home for Little Kids_2

Raid your piggy bank

Here’s my kids’ favorite part – I had them dump out their piggy banks and put handfuls of real money in little ziplock bags. I had them each categorize pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters – then pick them up (a great fine motor building activity!) and put them in their ziplocks.  They thought they were rich!

Set-up your store

Here’s when we put the final touches on their “store.”  I had them place each of their chosen toys in the store space, and then assign each toy a price tag.  Just for fun, I threw in a handful of Dollar Store toys so they had some cool, new things to “buy.”  They were thrilled!

Time to shop!

And, finally…it’s shopping time!  They could each pick out one toy at a time to “buy,” and they brought me (their trusty cashier) the toy and the price tag.  Then, they had to count out the exact change to purchase the item. This was awesome for so many reasons – they practiced counting, money denominations, how they could reach a certain price several different ways (depending on their available coins), adding, subtracting – the math lessons rocked in this game!  Here’s a picture of each of my kiddies, deep in thought (and counting).

A Fun Activity at Home for Little Kids_3

Overall, this was a really fun game that both kids enjoyed…and like I said, it took a good two hours! They worked as a team, used their creativity, practiced math, and even got to “buy” some new toys.  They loved it, and asked if we could play “toy store” everyday.  This is a huge compliment coming from them (even though they had already moved on by the next day – lol!).

Cheap Movies for Kids this Summer in Orange County

Who doesn’t love to go to the movies?
Wellllll…sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming with little ones in tow.  That’s why I LOVE these cheap OC movie theaters and their summer movie showings for kids! We are talking $1, fun movies for kids this summer  (yes, only $1!), offered at many theaters locations I have compiled for you below.


These kid-friendly movies are shown in the mornings. Typically filled with other parents and excited, squirmy kids. And it’s okay that your kids laugh extra loud, talk during the movie, spill their snack, and get up and down, and up and down, and up and down…

Cheap OC Movie Theaters

Summer Movie Deals for Kids in Orange County 

Regal Entertainment Group

Summer Movie Express Program

Tuesdays and Wednesdays / Start time:  10 a.m.
(All tickets must be purchased at the box office).
A portion of the proceeds goes to the Will Rogers Institute.
Cost – $1

Regal’s 2015 Movie Schedule Includes:

Week 1 –
Tuesday, June 23 – Nut Job
Wednesday, June 24 – Annie

Week 2 – 
Tuesday, June 30 – Earth to Echo
Wednesday, July 1 – The Boxtrolls

Week 3 – 
Tuesday, July 7 – Paddington
Wednesday, July 8
 – Turbo

Week 4 – 
Tuesday, July 14 – Rio 2
Wednesday, July 15 – How To Train Your Dragon 2

Week 5 – 
Tuesday, July 21Mr. Peabody & Sherman
Wednesday, July 22
 – The Book of Life

Week 6 – 
Tuesday, July 28 – Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
Wednesday, July 29 – Penguins of Madagascar

Week 7 –
Tuesday July 28 – Madagascar 3
Wednesday August 5 – Dolphin Tale 2

Week 8 –
Tuesday, August 11 – Muppets Most Wanted
Wednesday, August 12 – Alexander and the Very Bad Day

Week 9 –
Tuesday, August 18 – The Lego Movie
Wednesday, August 19 – The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

Click to enter your zip code and find the closest participating theater to you. And feel good knowing that a portion of the proceeds goes to the Will Rogers Institute.

Picture Show at Westfield Mainplace

Westfield MainPlace
2800 N. Main Street
Santa Ana, Orange County, 92705
Discount shows on Tuesdays 

Krikorian Premiere Theatre

2015 Krikorian Kids Series – 6/16/2015 – 8/18/2015
(Buena Park and San Clemente locations)

Krikorian Premiere Theatres is excited to announce the return of kid’s movies throughout the summer! Every Tuesday from June 16th through August 18th, Krikorian locations will be hosting the 2015 Summer Kids Series, a 10-week series of kid’s movies that are fun for the whole family.

Two showings per day will be available at 10:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Tickets are $1.00 (Buena Park Metroplex 18 tickets are Free – sponsored by Buena Park Downtown), and are the same price for adults and children. Seating will be first come, first serve, so be sure to arrive early!

Buena Park Metroplex 18

8290 La Palma Ave.
Buena Park, CA 90620

(714) 826-7469 (SHOW)

***Movies are FREE at this location!!  Sponsored by Buena Park Downtown.

641-B Camino de Los Mares
San Clemente, CA 92673
(949) 661-7469 (SHOW)
$1 movies at this location

Every Tuesday from June 16th through August 18th
Two showings per day will be available at 10:00 a.m. & 12:30 p.m.
Seating is first come, first served!

Tuesday, June 16 – Mr. Peabody & Sherman

Tuesday, June 23 – Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Tuesday, June 30 – How To Train Your Dragon 2

Tuesday, July 7 – The Boxtrolls

Tuesday, July 14 – Annie

Tuesday, July 21 – The Book of Life

Tuesday, July 28 – Rio 2

Tuesday, August 4 – Paddington

Tuesday, August 11 – Penguins of Madagascar

Tuesday, August 18 – Dolphin Tale 2

Cinemark – Century 20 Huntington Beach & XD

Summer Movie Clubhouse

Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m.
$1 movies (when purchased at the box office)
$5 for 10 movies (when purchased in advanced at the box office)

Century 20 Huntington Beach & XD
7777 Edinger Avenue
Huntington Beach, Orange County 92647

June 16 -18 – Dolphin Tale 2

June 23 – 25 – 
Mr. Peabody & Sherman

June 30 – July 2 – Penguins of Madagascar

July 7 – 9 – Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

July 14 – 16– How To Train Your Dragon 2

July 21 – 23 – Alvin and the Chipmunks 3

July 28 – 30 – 
Dog Days: Diary of a Wimpy Kid 3

Cinemark – Orange Cinemark Century Stadium 25 & XD!

Orange Cinemark Century Stadium 25 and XD!
Stadium Promenade Shopping Center
1701 W Katella Ave.
Orange, CA 92867

Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m.
$1 movies (when purchased at the box office)
$5 for 10 movies (when purchased in advanced at the box office)

Tuesday June 16 & Thursday June 18
 – Dolphin Tale 2

Tuesday June 23 & Thursday June 25 – Mr. Peabody & Sherman

Tuesday June 30 & Thursday July 2 – Penguins of Madagascar

Tuesday July 7 & Thursday July 9 – Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Tuesday July 14 & Thursday July 16 – How to Train Your Dragon 2

Tuesday July 21 & Thursday July 23 – Alvin and the Chipmunks – Chipwrecked

Tuesday July 28 & Thursday July 30 – Dog Days: Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Tuesday August 4 & Thursday August 6 – The Nut Job

Tuesday August 11 & Thursday August 13 – Rio 2

Tuesday August 18 & Thursday August  20 – Turbo

**Disclaimer and note – I encourage you to always call ahead or check theater websites for updates!

Another great resource I found is Plan a Day Out – this site shares about local discounted movies, movies in the park, movies at your local library…plus lots of other great summer activities and event ideas.  Check it out!

And if you also have little ones, I encourage you to read my blog on “Tips for Taking Little Kids to the Movie Theater” – hope they help!

I love these $1 movies for kids.  It’s cheap, it’s air conditioned, and it’s fun for summer!  Share your favorite thing to do with your kiddos below.  And, where do you like to take your kids to the movies?

Cute DIY Father’s Day Gift Ideas

DIY Fathers Day Gift Ideas from Kids

For anyone looking for some cute DIY Fathers Day gift ideas from kids, I’ve rounded up some of my Pinterest favorites.  These are super adorable and super easy to make!

1. Book About Dad

Image and idea found on


This free printable Father’s Day “book” template is perfect for kiddos who are old enough to draw their daddy some fun pictures…and write about what they love most about him.

2. Daddy Tackle Box

Image and idea found on

daddy tacklebox

I saw this idea and thought it was adorable!  Pick up an inexpensive plastic container with multiple sections, and select candy that resembles anything fishing-related (Swedish fish and gummy worms are my favorite!).  A yummy treat for dad…and a cute spin for daddies who love to fish. A daddy “tackle” box!!

3. I’m hooked on Daddy!

Hooked on Daddy

Speaking of fishing, isn’t this precious?!  I’m little biased since my son made this at preschool.  His preschool teacher had each child dip their hand in orange paint and carefully make a print on a white ceramic tile.  And since (at the time) this was the “3s and 4s” class, she finished up the masterpiece by painting the hook and ocean…plus added the “I’m hooked on daddy,” with my son’s name and date.  My husband LOVED this!

4. Daddy Ties

Image and idea found on


This is a great way to not only make daddy a new “tie,” but also have your kiddo fill out one of those cute surveys about their daddy.  I loved this presentation.  Plus this site offers it as a free printable!

5. Daddy Art Frame

Idea and image found on 

Daddy Frame Art

You can pick up one of these three tier frames pretty inexpensively at Target or Walmart.  Choose a finger paint picture (or really any art your child has made) and crop it to fit in the first photo spot.  Add your kiddo’s picture in the next space, and finally write a personal message, or print this super sweet poem for daddies (found on the site) and put it in the third spot.  Add any stickers or writing to the matte part of the frame, and voila!  A great keepsake for daddy!

6. “A Chip Off the Old Block”

A Chip Off the Old Block

This is another favorite project from our preschool, back when Elizabeth was little.  Her teachers got a smooth piece of wood and made a “chip” in the wood block. Then each child got to paint/decorate the wood.  Next, they had each child wear something that represented their daddy (for us, of course, was his favorite Wildcats sweatshirt!), printed the picture, and hot glued the picture on the wood block.  The final touch?  A sweet little “Chip off the old block” print-out.  My husband still has this in his office.  Such a cute idea!

7. “Play Ball” Mason Jar

Image and idea found on


This is so fun for any sports loving dad…you can decorate a mason jar to look like a baseball (pictured above), a basketball, a football, a soccer ball – the sky’s the limit!  For a little extra pizazz, add sporting tickets to an upcoming game!

8. New Daddy Survival Kit

Image and idea found on

New Daddy Survival Kit

I LOVE this idea for new dads.  Check out the site for details on what to put in this gift basket – they suggest adding a little attached note to each “survival” item…some are cute, some are hilarious!  Great for new dads or dads-to-be.

9. Father’s Day “Scrabble” Frame

Image and idea found on

Scrabble Frame

Talk about simple…and cute!  Pick a frame you love, print a picture of your kiddo(s) that you love, and hot glue scrabble letters to the frame.  You can spell out any message you want…”I love you,” or “You are my hero,” or “Super Dad.”  The possibilities are endless. Done and done.

10. Kid-Made Scribble Mug

Image and idea found on

Scribble Mug

Last, but not least, this site walks you through how to make a “scribble” mug.  If you have coffee or tea loving dad, this would be a great DIY gift idea!  Check out the site for step-by-step instructions.  Love this!

Do you have any favorite DIY or easy Father’s Day crafts that you’ve had success with?  If so, please share below!  Let’s show all of the daddies out there some love!

Helping Kids Prepare for a New Sibling

Helping Kids Prepare for a New Sibling

The Pregnancy Diaries

There is nothing like welcoming a new baby into your family.  A sweet little angel that will bless you beyond belief…and change everything!  And, it can be an exciting, happy, thrilling, confusing and scary time for new big brothers and sisters.  Today, I’d like to share with you some of my favorite tips for helping kids prepare for a new sibling.

Involve them in the pregnancy

Explain how it’s going to work.  And no, I don’t necessarily mean “the birds and the bees” talk or “how the baby is going to get out” talk (unless you’re ready for that!).  What I mean is a high-level, big picture explanation of what’s going on with mommy…and depending on your child’s age, will depend on how much detail you choose to share.  When you decide to talk to your older kids is also a consideration – whether you choose to tell them early on or once you start showing more.

With my seven and five-year-old, we waited until after we had our first ultrasound and saw (and heard!) that amazing flutter of a heartbeat.  And we told them on Christmas morning – their last Christmas present that they “opened.”  Once the excitement, jumping up and down, and squealing simmered, I explained that the new baby was growing in mama’s belly.  The baby’s job was to grow a little bit bigger and a little bit stronger everyday, and that it was my job…our job…to help him or her. I went on to say that mom’s belly was going to get a little bigger everyday (which they thought was hilarious), and that there was going to be some things that I wouldn’t be able to do anymore…and would need their help, because they are were so big and strong and smart.  They felt very important.

And thus began our family “pregnancy project.”  I was no longer pregnant – “we” were pregnant.  And they felt like they had a part in helping their new sibling from the beginning.

Let them help

Speaking of letting them help, I think this is absolutely essential in having your big kids feel a part of the pregnancy and their new sibling.  The sooner they feel like they have an important part, the sooner they are more likely to be onboard.

We talk about our Baby Emma quite often, and have since we told the kids we were pregnant.  I am constantly referring to them as “big sister” and “big brother.”  I don’t just say how I’ll need their help once the baby comes, I tell them I need their help now. Because kids are all about the here and now and instant gratification.  “When the baby comes” seems like a lifetime to them.  So I say, involve the older siblings now!  Here are some of the ways I ask my bigs to help me and baby girl:

– Every time they help you pick up something that you can’t reach, get you a snack, pick up their room, do their chores/tasks without complaint or asking, etc., praise them.  “THANK you for helping mom and baby!  I really appreciate you helping us.  What an awesome big sister/brother you are – you’re already helping the baby!”  Verbal praise goes a long way with my kids.

– Nesting?  Let them help.  Of course, depending on the age of your older sibling(s) will depend on what’s reasonable and doable.  Mine are a bit older, so I let them help me go through baby boxes unearthed in the garage, and tell them funny or cute baby stories about when they were itty bitty.  And how Baby Emma will love their ________ (whatever we are unpacking).

– Speaking of dragging all of the baby clothes and bins out from the garage, if your child is of appropriate age where they will understand, I recommend that you make a really big deal out of how much they are helping the baby by letting him/her use their old baby stuff.

– Take them shopping with you, and let them pick out something special for the baby.  I don’t mean take them on every shopping trip.  But schedule something where they can be part of it.  Talk about what the baby will need.

– Let them help you set-up items where the baby will be.  Give them an opportunity to fold clothes, put wall decals on the wall, organize baby toys, etc.

– If they are older, like my Elizabeth, ask them to help you make to-do lists.  Elizabeth LOVES helping me organize and making lists to prepare for Baby Emma.  Take a look at her latest below – love it, and I’m saving this one!

Preparing for a New Sibling_2

Let them bond

Here’s how I started encouraging the baby bonding with my two bigs – every time I would feel a flutter or kick (even before anyone else could feel it), I would say “Oh my goodness, baby is kicking mama!  That means she hears your voice and is trying to get to you!”

I constantly say to both kids, “You two are going to be Baby Emma’s favorite people in the whole world.  You’re going to teach her everything and be her best friends and protectors!”  Now that she visibly kicks through my shirt, I’ll say, “Baby girl wants to play patty cake with you!” Or, “Baby girl wants a hug from you!”  This is a super easy way to make a new big brother and/or sister feel special.

From the beginning, I’ve asked each child to read her a book or sing her a song each night.  This has become part of our bedtime routine. They love “teaching” her new songs.  Elizabeth is convinced that she will come out knowing her “ABCs” because she sings it to her every night. Nathan is constantly kissing my belly and getting right up to my belly button (which he thinks is a microphone) and tells her stories. Let them talk to the baby…and see how easy the bonding comes.

I’ve also started talking about how we will correctly hold the baby, burp the baby, snuggle the baby, etc.  We get dolls out and each kid practices holding a “baby.” Here’s Nathan working on supporting the head.

Preparing for a Sibling_1

If you’re up for it, let them come to a doctor’s appointment with you, where the can hear the heartbeat on the doppler.  The first time I let Elizabeth hear at the appointment, it was magical to see her eyes lit up – “MOM!  She’s REALLY in there!!”

If it’s not feasible for them to accompany you to the doctor, take an audio recording of the heartbeat with your phone, and share it with them at home!

Welcome “birthday” party

Who doesn’t love a party?  Especially little kids (and big kids!)!  And there has to be cake – because I know my kids don’t think it’s really a birthday party unless there’s cake!  Ask them to make welcome signs for the new baby, get balloons and decorations, make birthday cards, etc.  Make it a festive, happy party atmosphere for when mom and baby come home.  You can even have them sing “Happy Birthday” to the new baby upon their arrival home!

New sibling gifts

On the flip side, I always have the new baby give a gift to their new big brother and/or sister.  One of my friends suggested this to me way back when I was expecting Nathan and Elizabeth was only two-and-a-half-years old.  It doesn’t have to be extravagant!  Just something that the new baby can “give” to his/her new sibling to say thank for helping take care of me.


What are your best suggestions to help older kids prepare for a new baby?  I would love to hear from you!  Please share any sibling bonding or preparation tips in the comments below!

Adorable Teacher Gift Ideas

End of Year Teacher Gift Ideas

Okay mamas, we’re in the home stretch.  You know what I’m talking about.  The beloved tradition of counting down the number of schools days left until…SUMMER!  And it’s not too early to start thinking about teacher gift ideas for the end of the year.  Because if you think we’re tired…they have to be exhausted!!!  Let’s show them our love and appreciation.

Recently our “Thanks for Helping Me Grow” end of the year succulent gift was featured in a round up of DIY Thank You Gifts for Teachers, so check out those cute ideas, and here are some more adorable end of year teacher gift ideas to celebrate your child’s teachers this year.

End of Year Teacher Gift Ideas Round-Up

Picture Flower Bouquet
Idea and image found on

Picture Flower Bouquet

How darling is this?!  If you plan far enough in advance, you can ask each parent to bring in a small headshot picture of their child…or “sneak in” one day during class time and take individual pictures, then have them printed. What a fun and creative way to say thank you to your favorite teacher!

“Thank You Teacher” Free Printable
Idea and image found on 

Thank You Teacher Free Printable

I just love this idea because it’s such a cute keepsake.  You can have each child in class fill out this adorable free printable and have them either attach a picture…or draw one themselves.  Then have the printables bound or put in cute folder booklet.

Hands Down Teacher Appreciation Gift
Idea and image found on

Hands Down Best Teacher

Sweet-smelling soap, a cute little gift tag, and your child’s cut out handprint with their name.  Super simple, super cute, super sweet.

Summertime Basket
Idea and image found on

Easy Teacher Gift Idea - Summertime

I love theme baskets, and I thought this one was really cute for summer. Doesn’t it make you want to have a nice cold glass of lemonade?  Take a peek at all of the items, add your own, and personalize it to what you know your teacher will love and/or use.

Cute Cups and & Printable Tags
Idea and image found on

Teacher appreciation ideas - Cups

What I love about these super cute cups and tags?  They are summery, totally usable…and you can put just about any gift card, candy, bath salts, confetti, etc. that you want to jazz it up.  Voila!

Thank You for Helping Me Grow
Idea and image found on

Thank You for Helping Me Grow

I know how much my teacher loves gardening, so this would be such a sweet gift for her. What a fun spin on giving a pretty bouquet of flowers.

Manicure Jar Teacher Appreciation Gift
Idea and image found on


Who doesn’t love a mani?!  Such a cute mason jar idea, especially with the free printable tag to go with it.  A manicure in a jar!

Teacher Summer Relaxation Kit
Idea and image found on


How charming is this?  You can “build” your teacher a beach or pool bag with all of her summer “relaxation essentials.”  Lots of room to customize, depending on what your teacher likes.

Coffee Lovers Basket
Idea and image found on

Teacher Gifts - Coffee Gift

Ah, the best “go-to” gift in my opinion.  A Starbucks cards.  You can never go wrong with a Starbucks card!  And I love that the card “holder” is actually a Starbucks cup.  A clever and cute way to snazz up the gift presentation.

Free (Funny!) Teacher Appreciation Cards
Idea and image found on

Free Funny Teacher Appreciation Cards

And finally…if Pinterest and crafty projects aren’t your deal, take a look at these hilarious teacher appreciation cards on Chickabug!  Print ’em out, slap on a gift card, and you’re good to go.  Done and done!

Do you have any fun or cute end of year gifts ideas to celebrate teachers?  If so, please share below!  And hang in there mamas (and teachers!), it’s almost SUMMER!!!

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