10 Best Kids Costumes to Make On A Budget

So you want to make your child’s costume this year but you don’t want to spend a whole lot? Don’t worry! We have you covered with these 10 best kid costumes to make on a budget! 

Making your child’s costume does not have to be a daunting task. In fact, I’ve made at least one homemade or semi-homemade costume for each of my kids every year. Now that doesn’t mean that they always end up wearing it, but it does mean that I’ve had at least 8 years experience in DIY halloween costumes for kids. And I’ve found that the less expensive costumes tend to end up being the easiest and more fun costumes of the lot! 

Below are a few great tutorials on the 10 best kid costumes I’ve found including two of our top costumes for my oldest. But I’ve also included a link to the other DIY homemade costumes we’ve done in years past at the end of this post in case you don’t see something you want below. 

The biggest thing to remember when tackling a DIY costume is to keep it simple. If you don’t sew regularly, don’t choose something you’ll have to sew! That’s why they created no sew glue. And if you don’t have a huge budget, or no budget at all, rest assured that there are a ton of different supplies you can find right inside your home (or closet) already! Ok, enough of that… here are some awesome DIY kid costumes for you to check out! 

Now to get my kids to actually decide on a costume idea without changing it 10 times after I already start in on it…

10 Best Kids Costumes to Make On A Budget

DIY Dinosaur Costume from Simmworks Family

DIY Inexpensive Octopus Costume from Simmworks Family

DIY Star Wars Costumes – Jedi and Princess Leia from Mission to Save

Dr. Seuss Cat in the Hat & Thing 1 and Thing 2 Costumes from Mission to Save

Football Themed Family Costumes from Bare Feet on the Dashboard

Easy Greek Goddess Costume from Uncommon Designs

Easy $3 Medusa Costume from SlapDash Mom

DIY Peacock Tutu Tutorial from 365 Days of Crafts

Mermaid Costume (with a No-Sew Version) from Creative Green Living

No-Sew Pirate Costume from Artsy Momma

What are the best kids costumes you’ve seen recently? 

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Make Creative Back to School Memories That Last

The first day of school can be brimming with anticipation and excitement. Both for our kids and ourselves. With a new school year here, we want to capture as many back to school memories as possible. Especially when we can highlight these milestones through photos and traditions.

back to school memories

There are a few ways to create and preserve the memories of the first day of school.

Here are a few of our favorites:

 

Special First Day of School Breakfast 
Fix a special breakfast of your child’s favorite pancakes or some delicious french toast.  Try making a batch of delicious homemade cinnamon rolls lfrom the Frugal Greenish Mama or a delicious blueberry coffee cake. Or let them decide what they want to have the night before. No matter what, don’t send them off without a full tummy.

While they’re chowing down, leave a note or two for your child in their backpack or jacket pocket to let them know that they’re awesome and you’re thinking of them on their first day.


Back to School Photo Shoot

Before you leave for school snap a few photos. You can be creative and use a chalkboard to write what grade your child is going to.

I’ve turned my large chalkboard (tutorial can be found here) into a first day of school tradition. Every year I can take a photo of my children on the first day of school, and then a photo on the last day of school to store these perfect memories forever.

Or simply print out a piece of paper with the grade and date on it. There are a few great templates out there to download including this one we use every year – we’ve even included a PicMonkey tutorial in case you would like to make your own)

Make sure to have a repeat photo session on the last day of school as well so that you can look back on how much your child has grown over the school year.

First Day of School Questionnaire

Ask your child a series of the same questions every year when they get home from their first day. Add a photo and look back on the answers with your children at the end of the school year.

Some questions to ask: 

  • When I grow up I want to be a ______________.
  • My favorite color is ______________.
  • My teacher’s name is ______________.
  • I learned about ______________ on my first day.
  • My favorite part about my first day was ______________.
  • My friends are ______________.
  • I’m looking forward to doing ______________ tomorrow.

After the First Day of School Treat

When you pick the kids up from school on their first day, make it special by taking them to the local ice cream parlor or fro-yo shop for a special treat.

You can talk about their first day, fill out your questionnaire, and talk about what the rest of the year (or maybe just the week) has in store for them. Be involved, be excited for them, and make sure they know you’re there to share in the excitement of the new year.

How do you celebrate the first day of school?

This post was originally published on August 29th, 2012

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Top 5 Tips for Surviving a Long Road Trip with Kids

These top 5 tips for surviving a long road trip with kids will help keep you and your family sane on your next fun road trip!

This summer has been full of fun memories for our family. From days at the beach, to drives up to Disneyland and Great Wolf Lodge, to a road trip to Washington State, we’ve seen quite a bit of excitement. But being prepared for traveling with kids in the car has been something we’ve worked on. And surviving a long road trip with kids takes a bit of planning. 

Since my daughter is newly potty trained the one thing we worried about when on the road with her is that she’d have to go #2 and not be able to tell us until we were too late and she got out of the car. Also, with the long 2 day ride to Washington State, we worried about how many stops we really needed to make and how many stops were just “fun” stops.

In preparation of our trip we decided to bit of research to make sure that we had a successful journey with three kids in the back seats. Since we’ve made this trek once before with our two older kid,s we kind of had an idea about what to expect. In an effort to make our next trip successful we wrote down a few things that helped us along the way.

Top 5 Tips for Surviving a Long Road Trip with Kids

Top 5 Tips for Surviving a Long Road Trip with Kids

Here are a few ways to keep your road trip fun and successful with young children:

1. Make sure to pack a potty –

We simply placed our Joovy Loo in the back of the car. That way if we needed to stop and there wasn’t a place to do so, we could just use the back of the van. This helped us a lot when my son was working on things and just needed to sit on something other than his car seat to help him along when he was little and it worked perfectly for our daughter as well.

It also gave us peace of mind when on long stretches of road. We didn’t have to worry about not being able to find a sanitary place to stop (my husband isn’t as adventurous as I am and doesn’t approve of a 2 year old relieving themselves on the side of the road unless it’s an absolute emergency… just wait till we go camping!).

Potty Kit Necessities to Bring: 

Top 5 Tips for Surviving a Long Road Trip with Kids

2. Plan out frequent stops –

This won’t just give your child a chance to “try” to go potty but it will also give them a chance to stretch their legs and get a little energy out. By planning out where your next stop will be you might be able to quickly answer your children when they ask how long it will be until you arrive at your next stop. That’s much easier for them to handle then to say, “Oh, about 12 hours!”

You can also use pre-planned stops as points for conversation. By letting your children know what the next stop is, or giving hints to where your heading, you might be able to create a sense of excitement and adventure as you make your way through the trip.

We had fun picking out where we stopped and made sure to mix restaurants in with quick pit stops at gas stations. I also allowed the kids to pick out one “surprise” at each stop to make it more interesting to them as well. They sure did love the huge gas stations we found along the way filled with everything from fidget spinners to snacks to souvenir t-shirts. 

Pit Stop Checklist: 

  • Did everyone try to go potty? 
  • Do we need to re-load on snacks or water?
  • Did we take all of our trash out? 
  • Do we need to change clothes?

Top 5 Tips for Surviving a Long Road Trip with Kids

3. Create a fun pack filled with games and activities –

By creating a fun pack filled with new-to-you toys, activities focused on the age level of your child, and games the children can play in the car you can create distractions and, hopefully, reduce the amount of, “Are we there yet?” questions from the back seat. Surviving a long car trip with kids is no fun when they don’t have anything to do IN the car. 

Figure out some fun games you want to play with your child on the road. Consider simple ideas like finding an object of a certain color, finding a certain letter of the alphabet, or, depending on where your driving, looking out for different animals! By making the ride fun and entertaining itself, your child will be less likely to complain about being in the car and more excited.

We brought our fun activity backpack and filled it with the following:

Another great distraction for the older kids is a portable DVD player or tablet that already has their favorite games and movies downloaded. We grabbed a copy of The Lion King and Disney’s Star Wars Rebels: Season 3 (both out on Blu-ray August 29th) to keep our kids entertained on the trip. it helped to have both a movie and a tv series because we could switch from the longer movie for longer stretches of travel and the shorter episodes of Disney’s Star Wars Rebels while we went through smaller stretches or in between playing other games in the car. 

Top 5 Tips for Surviving a Long Road Trip with Kids

Pro Tip: Finding fun crafts to go along with the movies you select are also fun! Check out these awesome Lion King crafts by clicking the button below: 

Download The Lion King Signature Mask Craft

4. Find a great local attraction to visit –

Take a look at a map and find a great middle point between your home and your destination. Are there any fun, quirky activities you can stop and do in between? Maybe a museum or a historical monument. By maping out a spot or two on the way to your destination you can talk with your children about what you might see, what they would like to do, and how you will spend your time at the next spot.

You can also use these stops as teaching opportunities. By learning a bit about the spot beforehand you can tell your child about the history behind the attraction as well as why it’s such an interesting stop on your journey. Surviving a long road trip with kids takes a bit of planning when it comes to local attractions but there are sure to be some gems along your route! 

Local Attractions Do’s and Dont’s: 

  • Do – take the time to explore and learn about where you’re stopping
  • Don’t – spend all day unless already scheduled
  • Do – consider free or in-expensive pit stops that take an hour tops
  • Don’t – forget that delicious bakeries and restaurants can be considered local attractions too! 

5. Make Sure The Kids Are Safe And Comfortable

When traveling with young kids, it’s important to remember that while we want our kids to be comfortable, we also need them to be safe too. I have 3 kids in 3 different types of car seats right now. My 2 year old is in a 5 point harness, my 6 year old just transitioned out of her 5 point harness into a high back booster, and our 8 year old has now transitioned into a regular booster seat. 

To make things easier on us and allow all of these car seats to fit, we brought along the new mifold we received so that our son could easily transition from our van to my family’s car up in Washington State when we arrived. mifold is more than 10 times smaller than a regular booster seat and is just as safe. The foam padding technology provides extra comfort and stays cool, even on hot days. And since it was averaging about 80-90 degrees our whole trip, this was a huge relief for my son. 

The mifold is convenient for parents for travel and road trips but it’s also great for carpooling, taxis/ubers, etc because it can literally fit in my son’s back pack. how awesome is that? 

In addition to car seats, check out our Road Trip Safety Kit:

  • first aid – includes bandages, first aid ointment, tweezers, scissors, and an ice pack
  • every day medication – includes indigestion medicine, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and allergy medicine
  • flash light
  • jumper cables
  • roadside assistance kit
  • 1 gallon water

What are your best travel tips for surviving a long road trip with kids?

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Top 5 Tips for Surviving a Long Road Trip with Kids

SeaWorld San Diego Rescue Program + More Cool Changes

Many people would never guess that my husband’s first job was at SeaWorld San Diego. He held various roles while there and loves reminiscing about his interactions with both staff and animals. I’m pretty sure he’ll always have a soft spot for the park and the animals that live there. With SeaWorld right in our backyard, being annual pass holders isn’t a hard sell. Especially when it means that our kids have direct access to a ton of information about the marine life we live by and can reach out to trainers with questions they have about the animals they’re most excited about. And boy have they learned a lot through their years of going to SeaWorld (many times while being Preschool Pass holders). 

So when SeaWorld and The Moms invited our family out for a fun day in the sun at SeaWorld SanDiego for a fun behind the scenes glimpse into everything else they have going on, we couldn’t say no! 

One thing I love about our experiences with SeaWorld is the hands-on interaction and experience. From the moment you walk into the park, you’re greeted with opportunities to learn more about the amazing sea life out in the ocean and can physically touch and interact with them. My kids all love the feeder fish and bamboo sharks that are found right inside the front gates of the park. 

One thing you may not know is that in addition to the great resources inside the park, SeaWorld San Diego is the go-to place for animals in need up and down the California coast, even into Central California. If there’s a seal who’s been injured or a sea turtle who needs some TLC, SeaWorld steps in and helps rehabilitate these animals in need so they can release them back into the wild to live long, healthy lives. Want to learn more about this amazing program? 

SeaWorld San Diego Rescue Program

The goal of SeaWorld San Diego’s rescue program is and has always been to medically rehabilitate and return all animals back to their home in the wild. On average SeaWorld San Diego comes to the aid of 300-400 marine animals every year (sea lions, seals, dolphins, whales, sea turtles and sea birds). Every visitor to the park here in San Diego helps aid in the ability to have one of the most robust rescue programs in the world.

SeaWorld San Diego has rescued more than 17,000 animals over the history of the park, and all the SeaWorld parks have rescued more than 30,000 animals in the last 50 years. SeaWorld rescue program also helps resource managers with agencies like the National Marine Fisheries Service better understand the health of the ocean ecosystem. SeaWorld rescue program is a primary example of the passion SeaWorld has for the lives of all animals. 

How’s that for giving back to our sea life community? 

In addition to the SeaWorld rescue program, SeaWorld is also sharing a lot of cool facts and information about their animals through the shows that guests can watch while at the park. Learn about beluga whales, bottlenose dolphins, killer whales, and more when you sit and watch one of the various shows available at the park. 

The new Orca Encounter is quite fascinating and allows guests to witness live natural orca behaviors up close while an expansive infinity screen brings their story to life. You can also join the dolphin and pilot whale family as they show off their athleticism – and playfulness – in our favorite new show, Dolphin Days. Plus, hear what inspires the trainers.

And before leaving the park, it’s always nice to have a little fun! My little ones love the new Ocean Explorer area in the park. So.Much.Fun! Are you ready to have some fun of your own? Read on to find out how you can win a family 4 pack to SeaWorld San Diego! 

What are you excited to see at SeaWorld? 

Want to check out what’s new at the park? Enter to win a 4 pack of tickets to SeaWorld San Diego by entering below! 

Open to US only, 18+. This giveaway ends September 5, 2017 at 11:59EST. 

Mandatory Entry
Please comment* below with what you love to do at SeaWorld.

Bonus Entries

These entries are NOT required, they just give you a few extra chances to win, do one two, or them all, it’s up to you. Please leave a separate comment for each entry you complete. Please note that your COMMENT is your entry, not the action you perform.

1. Do you Like us on Facebook – leave a comment and let us know!
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4. Follow us on Twitter and leave a comment with your Twitter user name.
5. Tweet this and leave a comment with your tweet URL. (you may do this twice a day with at least 2 hours in between each tweet, please leave a comment each time)

Enter to win a 4pack of tickets to SeaWorld #SanDiego from @acraftyspoonful! http://acraftyspoonful.com/seaworld-san-diego-rescue-program/ Ends 9/5

Thank you and good luck!

*Important: By completing any entry in our giveaways, you agree to ALL of our giveaway terms and conditions. Comments such as “Thank you for the giveaway” “I want to win” etc will not be counted as the mandatory entry and will be deleted along with all corresponding bonus entries. Please be aware that comments are moderated and may not appear right away. Make sure you use a valid email address so we may notify you if you’ve won! Giveaway winners will receive their tickets through the mail directly. Winner must provide mailing address to receive these tickets.

Easy Morning Breakfast Hacks + A Kid-Approved Strawberry Smoothie Recipe

As we get closer to the start of school, I am all about the easy morning breakfast hacks. And this kid-approved strawberry smoothie recipe is all of that and more. This post was sponsored, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

As I got up the other day, I was greeted by both of the older kids complaining that they were STARVING and needed something to eat. Somehow the fully stocked fridge and pantry weren’t enough for them to fend for themselves and they needed me to whip something up to satiate their hunger. When you have two growing kids in the house, this moment can happen quite frequently. So I grabbed a handful of fresh strawberries and our tub of FAGE Total 0% Plain Greek yogurt to make a smoothie for them. With a splash of almond milk and drizzle of honey, I had a simple smoothie that they both enjoyed.

While smoothies are quick to make, when we start school, things can sometimes get hectic in the morning. So I figured I’d get a step ahead of myself and prep my own homemade smoothie freezer bags that the kids could grab and pop in the blender on their own. That way if I’m taking care of the little one and don’t have two seconds to drop everything and feed them, they can take care of making their own kid-friendly strawberry smoothie recipe.

Easy Morning Breakfast Hacks

I love keeping ingredients on hand that the kids enjoy eating that are good for them and good for me too. By keeping these items on hand I can make a variety of breakfast goodies throughout the week for us to enjoy. Plus, when I purchase fresh berries, I like to freeze half of the container once cleaned and prepped so that it lasts a bit longer. 

Here’s what we keep on hand: 

  • FAGE Total 0% Plain Greek yogurt
  • strawberries
  • raspberries
  • blueberries
  • honey
  • almond milk

With these ingredients we make these awesome breakfasts: 

Kid-Approved Strawberry Smoothie Recipe

This kid-approved strawberry smoothie recipe is so easy to prep! Simply use an ice cube tray OR adding a baggie to a small individual mason jar and add yogurt. Top with a swirl of honey and then freeze until solid. Once frozen, transfer the yogurt to a bag with 1/2-1 cup prepped berries and store in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. Then follow this recipe for smoothie deliciousness.

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Kid-Approved Strawberry Smoothie Recipe

Course Breakfast, Drinks
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 2

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup FAGE Total 0% Plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup berries
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 5 ice cubes (if not using frozen berries or yogurt)

Instructions

  1. Place FAGE Total 0% Greek yogurt, berries, almond milk, orange juice and honey in the blender. Blend for 30 seconds. 

  2. Add ice (if not using frozen berries or yogurt) and pulse until smoothie is completely smooth and lump free. 

  3. Serve and enjoy! 

You can find FAGE Total yogurt and seasonal berries at your local Walmart store. Head over to the dairy aisle in the refrigerated section of your store to pick up a tub of your own!

And don’t forget to check out the quick and easy recipe creations that incorporate FAGE Total Plain Greek yogurt during the in-store demos at Walmart 8/26.

What are your breakfast hacks for smooth school-day mornings? 

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Top Tips for Back To School Prep: The Ultimate Guide

Back To School Prep

We are half way into the summer already and my kids are excited about starting a new school year soon. I’m starting early to make sure that not only are the kids prepared but that I’m prepared as well! And luckily by starting a little early, I have time to get everything organized and ready for a smooth transition from summer to school.

Top Tips for Back To School Prep

  • Before the school year starts, prepare your bins, canisters, folders and more with these tips for back to school organization with sight words.
  • Meet the teacher before the school year starts, if possible. Since my daugther is going to a new preschool, we have a meeting scheduled to meet her new teacher before school begins.
  • First day of school pictures can be fun, but you may be putting your child’s safety at risk. Read about the back-to-school picture no-nos before snapping those pictures.
  • Preschoolers with first day jitters will love reading these encouraging books about the first day of preschool.
  • Check out these 10 Tips for Starting Kindergarten if your little one is making the transition from short preschool days to the longer days for kindergarteners.
  • Does your child require vaccinations before starting school? Help them cope with these five tips.
  • Make a back to school bucket list to remind you to review important things with your child, such as a safety plan, how to make friends, and refreshers on concepts learned in the previous year.
  • Do you normally have trouble getting into a good routine? You’re not alone! Here are 10 tried and true back to school routine tips.
  • Bedtime routines can be particularly difficult for children who are attending school for the first time this year.
  • It’s easy to get out of practice with reading and writing, but these free resources can get your child back into the swing of things before school starts.
  • If your children will be walking to or from school, now’s the time to nail down the safest, quickest route.
  • Start some fun back to school traditions this year. Start thinking about which ones you’ll implement now.
  • Your children will have less time for chores now, but that doesn’t mean they should forgo them altogether. Here are some before and after school chore charts to help your kids nail down a good routine.
  • Prepare a homework station with pencils, paper, crayons, highlighters and anything else your child needs to focus on homework.
  • Start a cute back to school countdown to get your kids excited about the upcoming school year.

Finally, don’t forget to label all the things! Whether your kid is going into preschool (like my youngest) or heading off to college, it’s always helpful to have a pack of personalized labels on hand. Right now Oliver’s Labels is excited to introduce their new Shopkins™ line of labels now available in their Special Edition design category.

The official launch of this new line is on Tuesday, August 22nd as part of their annual Back-to-School 15% off sitewide sale (excluding gift cards), however, this week only our readers get to enjoy an exclusive offer just for you! 

Use promo code ACraftySpoonful before checkout to SAVE 20% on Shopkins™ design themes! Offer valid Aug. 15th – 22nd.

You’ll love the bright and fun labels available! There are so many great features and options such as:

  1. Don’t lose another jacket to the lost and found bin! Fun new designs encourage your kids to label all of their items so they don’t lose anything when it’s taken out of the home. Have a Shopkins™ fan at home? Let Cheeky Chocolate, Kooky Cookie, D’lish Donut, Strawberry Kiss, and Apple Blossom help keep your child’s belongings out of the lost-and-found bin.
  2. Found-It Lost & Found Code: Found-it™ is Oliver’s Labels FREE online lost and found system. When you choose to add Found-it™ to your labels, we print them with your very own unique I.D. If your item is reported found, we send you a notification email right away. Oliver’s Labels acts as an intermediary between you and the person who has found your item.
  3. They have a school packageEverything you need for back to school all in one place! The School Package features: 20 x Original Labels, 30 x Mini Labels, 6 x Shoe Labels, 1 x Large Bag Tag, 3 x Mini Bag Tags, and 35 x Stick-eez™ Clothing Labels.

How do you prepare your kids for heading back to school?

If your child is starting Preschool or Kindergarten, check out these great ways to prep before you begin! 

(just click on the photo)

5 Back to School Tips for Preschool Parents

Preparing for Kindergarten with Preschoolers

5 Back to School Tips for Kindergarten

 

Back to School Prep + a Morning Routine Checklist for Kids Printable

It’s 3 weeks until the kids get into the back to school grind and we’re in full on prep mode over here. Making lists of all the things we need to still grab off of the teacher’s school supply lists, digging out the old meal plan ideas and calendars we put away over the summer, and doing all of our back to school clothes shopping. Luckily, with the help of our sponsor, Sears, we were able to grab new backpacks, lunch boxes, shoes, and outfits for each of the older two in one painless trip! 

By the time summer ends, we are all ready to get back to the grind and welcome the structure that school brings to our family. But sometimes it can be hard to jump right in. So in an effort to help the kids find their routine again, we’ve created these simple morning routine check list reminders to remind them of what to do next once they get up in the morning. 

Not only do these check lists help us prep for waking up earlier, and getting ready in a short period of time instead of having all morning, it also helps get the kids in the school mindset instead of the summer mindset. And by starting a few weeks before school starts, they don’t go through the initial shock of transitioning from summer schedules to fall schedules. 

Back to School Prep

With this transition also comes the hassle of getting everything ready for school as well. Each child has a school supply list that includes the easy and not so easy items to grab plus they have each grown like weeds this summer (2 shoe sizes!!!) and needed a bit of a revamp in their school uniform wardrobe. To make things easier we headed to Sears for a one-stop-shop solution for our back to school clothes needs. 

Even though the kids wear uniforms, we do like to let them pick out their own back packs and lunch boxes. So before jumping into the hassle that is trying on clothes, we headed over to the Land’s End backpack and lunch box selection in our local Sears store. Both kids were happy to be able to have the option of choosing their own set and it got them in the right mindset for our next stop… clothes! 

Uniform shopping is pretty easy. We grab some tops and some bottoms, then try everything on to make sure that everything fits well. When we settled on the right number of shirts and bottoms, we headed over to the shoe department. We can only wear all black or all white shoes so sometimes this can be a challenge. Luckily we were able to find exactly what we needed and scored 2 pairs of shoes for each of the kids. My fashionista daughter insisted on the slightly sparkly flats in addition to her tennis shoes because, “I need choices, Mom!” Sears is here to help you gear up with all kids’ shoes on sale starting at $9.99.

Here are a few things to note when heading out for your Back to School shopping: 

1. Try Everything On

I know it’s something that I hated doing as a kid but that time spent in the store trying things on and making sure they fit will help out in the long run! 

2. Get Fitted for Shoes

We would have never known that my son grew 2 shoe sizes over summer if we hadn’t gotten his feet measured. He was still trying to cram his shoes into the same size he came into the store with. 

3. Print Out Your List

So you don’t forget anything, make sure to print out your school supply lists and a list of clothes, gear, and accessories that you’ll need to pick up. I don’t know how many times we thought we were done with back to school shopping when we realized we needed that one other thing. 

Morning Routine Checklist for Kids

Now that the back to school shopping is all wrapped up, thanks to Sears, we’re working on our back to school morning check list to prep the kids for the first week back at school. You can grab this free printable by clicking here and printing it off! We suggest laminating each check off so your kids can add a clothes pin and move it down each step as they go in the mornings. 

Another great option is using the colors of each step and color coding the time on a basic wall clock in each of the kids’ rooms to keep them on schedule! We use this idea for our afternoon schedule to make things run smoother once we get home from school! 

Click here to print Morning Routine Checklist for Kids

How do you prep the kids for the back to school transition? 

Shop at Sears in-store for your back to school apparel, footwear, and gear! Plus get an extra 20% off when you spend $50 or more thru 8/12 to gear up on all the back to school necessities to make this year amazing. And don’t forget to check out the Sears shoppable back to school digital catalog for fun looks and outfit inspiration.

I participated in this sponsored campaign for SEARS. All opinions stated are my own.

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Instant Pot Mexican Rice Pudding

When you’re juggling work, kids, and life, it’s nice to have a dessert you can make with little to no effort to enjoy at the end of the day. This Instant Pot Mexican Rice Pudding is the perfect dessert to do just that! And it hits all of the right spots. 

Our lazy summer has turned into quite a busy one. I can’t even remember the last time I’ve been able to test out recipes to share here so when I had a craving for rice pudding, I knew I had to try it out in the Instant Pot to see if I could re-create one of my favorite desserts. With the help of the instant pot doing all of the work, I’ve gotten fairly close to replicating my favorite Arroz con Leche. This is the perfect dessert to dish out after a long day of juggling work and the kids when I want something no one else will steal bites of. 

One thing I love is that this recipe makes enough for 2 of my 3-cup Pyrex glass dishes. That way I can stack them in the fridge and take out 1/3 of a dish to enjoy. Because when I need a little comfort I don’t want to think about portions. 

You could try switching out the half and half with all milk but I feel the half and half adds a bit more creaminess to the dish. Also, if you have a ceramic pot insert for your Instant Pot you can reduce the amount of rice that may stick to the bottom of the pot. I’ve also found that there may be some spittle when releasing the pressure. That’s OK! Just put a dish towel over the top of your Instant Pot when you depressurize. 

5 from 1 vote
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Instant Pot Mexican Rice Pudding (Arroz con Leche)

Course Dessert
Cuisine Instant Pot, Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 cup milk
  • cups water
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • cup sugar
  • teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Rinse rice well using a mesh colander.

  2. Add half and half, milk, sugar, water, and salt to Instant Pot

  3. Add rice to liquid mixture and stir

  4. Place lid on Instant Post, seal lid, and close vent.

  5. Press the Porridge button. The rice will take 20 minutes to cook on this setting.

  6. When the timer beeps, allow the pressure to release slowly for 10 minutes.

  7. After 10 minutes, press the Cancel button and open vent to release pressure.

  8. When depressurized, open lid.

  9. Add Sweetened Condensed milk and vanilla.

  10. Sprinkle with cinnamon and stir until well mixed, adding a splash of half and half if needed for creamy consistency.

  11. Store in individual glass containers and top with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

  12. Refrigerate and serve or enjoy hot!

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How to Raise Money For School: Elementary School Fundraising Ideas

Check out these great elementary school fundraising ideas to raise money for school the easy way! There’s a lot we can do for our school by simply signing up for programs that already exist. And there are way more than just the “known” programs we’ve seen. 

elementary school fundraising ideas, how to raise money for school

Over the past two years, I jumped onto the parent teacher organization bandwagon and joined my son’s school’s PTG board (a variation of a PTO). As someone who has made social media and this blog her job over the past few years, I decided to use the skills I’ve learned – networking, promoting, and marketing myself essentially – for something good. And with that, I stepped up into a brand new role for the school – the sponsorship coordinator. Basically, I would reach out to local and national businesses and ask for their support.

But in addition to reaching out to local businesses for donations, there’s a lot we can do for our school by simply signing up for programs that already exist out there. And there are way more than just the “known” programs we’ve seen.

In an effort to make things easier on me, I decided to do a little research and ask fellow parents and teachers to share what programs their schools are using – public and private – to raise funds. And, of course, I’m sharing that with you! 

Below is a list that I’ll continue to add to and update with ways schools – teachers, parents, students, the community – can raise money easily and with little effort. If you have any other tips or tricks that can help, they’d be warmly welcomed! 

How to Raise Money For School: Elementary School Fundraising Ideas

eScrip –

eScrip is a simple and easy way for schools to earn money by selling gift cards and receiving rewards by having parents and individuals register their reward cards and their debit/credit cards. Every time a purchase is made, depending on the retailer, a percentage of the sale is given to the schools. An added bonus? You can buy a gift card to the store you’re using your rewards card at and receive double the bonus (rewards for buying the gift card and then rewards for using your rewards card). You can find out more on how to register – like less than 5 minutes and you’re done – by going to their site here.

eScrip also has a program called ForgetMeNot™ that you install on your computer to remind you when you visit one of the shops online that gives back. You can also click when you see the ForgetMeNot™ reminder to activate your earnings and to access all available coupons & offers. Save money while earning for a great cause.

Box Tops for Education –

Now most schools are already utilizing this program but it does take a little extra work. If someone on the PTG or PTA board isn’t already in charge then this might be someone you’d want to reach out and find to act as the Boxtops coordinator. Once the school is set up, its as easy as 1, 2, 3, 4!

  1. Find Box Tops on hundreds of products.
  2. Clip Box Tops from each package. Do the school a favor and make sure you follow the edge carefully and trim all Box Tops before turning them in. While doing this check to make sure the Box Tops haven’t expired.
  3. Send the Box Tops to your school.
  4. Box Tops are each worth 10¢ for your school.

Fore more info, visit the Box Tops website.

Campbell’s Labels for Education –

Labels for Education a fun and easy program where families and members of the community work together to “Earn Free Stuff” for their school.

By collecting UPCs and beverage/sauce caps from many participating products and supplementing your earnings with bonus offers, your school earns points that can be redeemed for Arts, Athletics, andAcademics merchandise.  Explore the online catalog to see what your school can earn.

If your school or organization is not one of over 60,000 registered with the Labels for Education program, you can help your school enroll by contacting your school principal and asking them to appoint a coordinator, or you can volunteer to be a coordinator. The school coordinator helps by managing the school’s account, program communication, point collection, and redeeming points for merchandise for the school.

America’s schools and organizations have earned over $114 million in merchandise over the Labels for Education program’s 42 year history. You can find more info here on their website.

Please note: You will need to choose between enrolling in Labels for Education OR Box Tops for Education. Your school cannot currently participate in both. 

Target REDcard Take Charge of Education® –

I don’t know what it is about Target but every time I go in, I come out at least $100 poorer. Sure I *needed* that dollar spot notebook, and those throw pillows for the couch, but if I could also be benefiting my son’s school while shopping there too I’d feel a LOT better about the amount I spend there. If you have a Target REDcard, choose your kids’ elementary school, the neighborhood middle school or any other eligible K–12 school and they’ll donate up to 1% of your REDcard purchases at Target stores in the U.S and at Target.com. More info can be found here to find out how to sign up.

* Since first publishing this article, Target has decided to end this program

Amazon Smile –

Do most of your shopping online when you’re not shopping at Target? Amazon has a program that’s just for you! By shopping through your school’s Amazon Smile link you can help earn 0.5% of the purchase price for your school. AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon that lets you enjoy the same wide selection of products, low prices, and convenient shopping features as on Amazon.com. The difference is that when you shop on AmazonSmile (smile.amazon.com), the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to the eligible charitable organization of your choice. More info can be found here if your school isn’t already signed up.

* I must note that when shopping on Amazon through eScrip, it looks like Amazon donates 1.2% of your purchases back. So I’m not sure if it’s better to go through Amazon Smile or eScrip when shopping on Amazon. Maybe it’s possible to take advantage of both? Please comment below if you have any experience!

Shoparoo –

Oh yes, there’s an app for that. Shoparoo is a quick and easy way for schools to earn money by having the user scan receipts from any store, big or small, that sells grocery items to earn Roo Points (cash donations) for your school. Whether you’re shopping at a supercenter, dollar store, or local convenience store – it doesn’t matter where you shop or what items you buy – Shoparoo will make a cash donation for every receipt! Submit up to 20 grocery receipts within a rolling 7 day period. Here are some examples of grocery retailers:

  • Grocery Stores
  • Convenience Supercenters
  • Club Stores
  • Drug Stores
  • Liquor Stores
  • Dollar Stores

There’s even a program for non-grocery stores. For more information, check out the Shoparoo app website and download the app today!

Do you know of a different program that supports schools or offers funding?What are your best elementary school fundraising ideas? 

This post was originally shared on Aug 12, 2015

Tips to Make Potty Training Fun for Kids + A Free Potty Reward Chart Printable

Check out this FREE printable to help make potty training fun for you AND your child. No more tears, stress, or frustration when you follow these tips and use this potty reward chart printable.

This post is sponsored by Pull-Ups.

Make Potty Training Fun, Potty Reward Chart Printable

When your child has finally shown all of the signs of readiness and is eager to potty train, you may think the journey will be an easy one. But sometimes their interest loses steam. By making potty training fun for kids, you can bypass that disinterest and keep your child engaged! We’re sharing a few ways we’ve had success at making potty training fun for our kids, including a free potty reward chart printable, with the help of our sponsor, Pull-Ups Training Pants.  

Make Potty Training Fun

Tips to Make Potty Training Fun for Kids

Make the Potty Accessible and FUN!

When a child is learning how to potty train, access is key. And when a child doesn’t know the path to the potty, you may be providing a block in the road without even realizing it. Make sure that your child’s potty is accessible and you’re sure to make potty training fun. Whether this is a small, portable potty seat, or a toilet cover and stool that is near or on the regular toilet that allows them easy access without having them fall in. Yes… my child has fallen in the toilet before…

Now, access to the potty isn’t just for when you are at home. When you go somewhere new, make sure to talk to your little one and point out to your child where the nearest restrooms are in the area you’re in and assure them that as soon as they feel the urge to go, they can let you know and you will help get them to the potty. Sometimes kids get nervous that they’ll miss something when you’re out and about or if they’re playing. By reassuring them that their toys will be there when they are done or that they’ll return to the same spot they left, they’ll feel better about stopping to go. 

Keep Your Child Involved

When your child is first starting to show signs of readiness, get them involved. Allow them to pick out their own pack of Pull-Ups in the theme or style they like, take them to pick out their potty or potty cover, and get them involved when you’re heading out of the house by making sure their potty pack is ready to go when you’re on the go. What I’ve learned through trying to keep my kiddos involved is that Pull-Ups is more than just a training pant – Pull-Ups.com has tons of simple ways to make potty training easy and fun for parents and children to start together, with guidance on how to tailor the journey based on your child’s unique personality. In fact, 3 of 4 moms prefer Pull-Ups©!*

Pull-Ups provide an award-winning design specifically to help teach potty training skills. They look and fit more like underwear, which means they’ll give your child the independence to slide their pants on and off. They also provide consistency for any learning style throughout their potty training journey. What does this mean for you as a parent? Less frustration! 

Pro tip: Bring a travel potty pack with you when you’re traveling around with your toddler. Your potty pack should include a few pairs of Pull-Ups, a travel potty seat, some potty seat covers (in case you need to use the big potty), and wipes.

Create a Potty Reward Chart 

Who doesn’t love receiving a sticker when they do something they’re supposed to? I know I love them. Your child doesn’t necessarily need a physical reward at first. When your child has success on the potty (because we don’t focus on the failures) let them mark off their successes each day on their own Potty Reward Chart Printable. This allows them to take control and see the marks when they succeed on the potty – how fun! 

If your child needs a bit more encouragement, you can use incentives after lots of success too. We’ve had great luck with chocolate candy and lollipops. Not only are they easy to store away, they’re also travel-friendly and are small. Once they’ve had success for a full week, you can start letting them pick out an item from the dollar store or dollar section of your favorite store. 

Click to Print Potty Reward Chart Printable

Potty Reward Chart Printable

Share your Big Kid’s Big Moments 

Think you might be ready to start potty training? Share your Big Kid’s Big Moments on Instagram or Twitter using #DisneyAndPullUpsSweepstakes for a chance to win a vacation to Walt Disney World with your family! Hurry though – the sweeps ends on August 4 and you don’t want to miss a chance for a FREE trip to Disney!

What do you do to make potty training fun? Do you use a potty reward chart? 

*Pull-Ups offering includes product, packaging and in-pack prizes and activities vs. Pampers© Easy Ups©.

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Make Potty Training Fun, Potty Reward Chart Printable



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