3 Reasons Your Kids Should Start a (Secret) Club {w/free printables!}

One summer, the kids decided they wanted to start their own club.

A secret club.

"One that only has kids allowed Mom -- you can't come in, okay?"

It's one of those times as a parent when you're excited for the creativity and independence but also a little skeptical about the motive ;)

Since parents have their own little secrets, I thought it was time for the kids to bond a little and this club might be just the thing they needed.

Little did I know it was just the thing I needed too!

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Kids Books about Fractions & Hands-on Math Activities

We have a running joke in our house about the 'bigger half'.

My daughter started it when she was younger -- we would ask if she wanted to split a sandwich or cookie with someone and her reply was always "Yes, but I want the bigger half!"

We tried to explain that half meant two equal amounts -- but that didn't go over in her mind.

"Just cut it like this Mommy" as she showed me a line that clearly allowed one part of the item to be larger than the other.

"But that's not half, Honey.  If we split it, than we would both get the same amount."

Her reply -- "Oh, than I don't want half.  I want more." :)

What I realized as a parent is that we introduce the idea of fractions very early in a child's life --

Half a cookie or the slices of a pizza

Counting out an equal number of blocks or legos on a playdate so everyone has equal amounts

Using measuring cups when kids cook with us in the kitchen

All those activities involve fractions but I know that I'm not always the best about pointing out when we are learning with fractions.  So today we're sharing great books & easy hands-on activities that help kids learn about the idea of "parts of a whole" -- and it's part of an awesome month-long series on maths hosted by Peakle Pie & 20 bloggers who love to share unique ideas for math activities!

 

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Tips for Finding the Best Vacation Home Rentals

 

My husband will be the first to tell you that I'm the brains & braun behind our family vacations.

My family grew up taking trips every summer and I knew I wanted the same for my kids -- getting out to explore the world and seeing some amazing things together!

But I'm also not the most laid-back person when it comes to family travel.  I like to be uber prepared and have a good 'home base' on our trips.

When we first started traveling with kids, I knew staying in a hotel room wasn't going to work for us.  Our oldest was not a heavy sleeper and would wake up (and stay up!) with the littlest noises.  And my husband never got a good night's sleep when the baby was in the room. 

So on our first big family trip, we decided to rent a vacation home -- and we've never looked back!

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Awesome Travel Journal Ideas for Kids {with free printables!}

Use these travel journal ideas to help your kids document their trip!

Summer travel is the perfect opportunity to inspire the kids to do some writing.

I think downtime during the summer months is really important for kids but I've also seen what happens when they don't pick up a pencil for a few months (yikes!)  It can be a rude awaking when they head back to school so I'm always looking for fun ways to encourage them to write a little throughout the summer.

Since we're heading out on a mega road trip this month, I thought I would include some travel journal pages in our Road Trip Binder (which already has 40+ Free Printable Road Trip Activities you might want to check out!)

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150+ Activities for Year-Round Play & Learning

If you were standing right next to me when I tell you this, I'm sure you would laugh a little because it's hard for me to say it without jumping up & down ...

We have written a book!

Being an author is a life goal of mine so I'm really excited about this first book :)

I work with an outstanding group of writers, educators and moms -- we call ourselves the Kid Blogger Network -- and we love to share unique ideas for fun ways to play & learn.  We write & create kids activities for many websites across the globe but we wanted to create a resource for parents, teachers and grandparents where it was easy to find activities your kids will LOVE all in one place.

So let me introduce you to "Learn with Play:  150+ Activities for Year-Round Play & Learning" along with some BONUS activities and a special offer during our kick-off launch week!

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The Secret to a More Relaxing Summer

I've got a secret to share with you today!

I'm not really that organized during the summer :)

Ok, that's not really it -- the secret is in how I APPEAR to be organized on those crazy summer days. 

If you've been following The $0 Summer: 105 Ways to Make Memories with the Kids series, you know our goal is to help you focus on more fun and less chaos.  (If you haven't been following along, we'd love for you to join us!)

We had one of THOSE summers a while back -- you know the ones -- every time we would head to the park or the pool or out to an event, something would get left behind.

Like the water bottles or the kids' socks (which you ALWAYS need at play places) or the towel so the kids wouldn't shiver when they got out of the pool. 

Or worse yet, I would forget the snacks!

Ugh!

So I got myself together and put a little system into place -- a very easy system that made my family very happy because we always had what we needed when we needed it (yea!)

Want to know my secret?  And bonus:  it comes with a FREE printable to make your summer less chaotic too :)

 

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Glow in the Dark Sensory Bottles & 14 Free Games for July 4th

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I can't believe it's already July!

Man, summer sure can fly by if you're not paying attention ;)

If you have kids, this week will not get past you without them asking about picnics, parades and fireworks!  Which are all reasons to celebrate a little and enjoy some time together.

To keep the fun going all day long, we're sharing an easy sensory craft for the kids -- Fireworks Bottles!

They are awesome to look at and play with PLUS they have a special secret hidden inside.

And because the kids have to wait a little for the secret, we're also include 14 Free Printable 4th of July games & activities (to make the waiting a little more bareable ;)

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The One Thing Every Parent Should do this Summer

Many of us are now ‘officially’ on summer break.

For kids, it’s a time for popsicles, pool visits and unscheduled adventures!

For parents, it’s a time to reconnect with our kids who have been trapped in a school building for the better part of the year.  

It’s also a time to think about what we might do together this summer.

Now I’ll bet you’re thinking this is going to be one of those ‘list’ posts – as in, make a summer bucket list or a what we’ll do this summer list.

But it’s not.

Even though that’s a great thing to do – it’s not the ONE thing I want you to do –

Scratch that

It’s the one thing YOUR kids really need you to do this summer.

 

The item I’m talking about only requires a pen, a sticky note and 3 minutes of uninterrupted time ….

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Favorite Kids Books about Summer

Enjoy these favorite kids' books about summer that inspire favorite summertime activities!

Summer is the time to kick back, relax and enjoy those long, don't-need-a-schedule type of days. 

Kids relish in having time to explore, create and head out on a few adventures. 

Plus fun reading ideas always make it on our Summer bucket lists!

And there are so many wonderful activities that you can only do during summer -- catching fireflies, visiting the fair, enjoy cold treats on a hot day, spending a day near the water and having a lemonade stand.

It's also the perfect time to reconnect with the kids -- those long summer days allow parents and kids more time together to talk and learn about each other.

This week's book list focuses on those popular summer moments & traditions. 

We've hand-picked picture books, early readers and chapter books that all share the joy of summertime along with some fun reading & writing activities to kick-off a few get-to-know-me discussions!

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Fun Hands-on Math Activities: Get Creative with Clothespins

Math is one of those topics that many kids find easier to learn if they can DO something with it. 

Instead of just working problems on a worksheet, learning becomes hands-on when you sort coins, pull out the tape measure or build items that will teach kids about shapes.

There are a TON of things that kids can use to make math fun (our 100 Items to Use to Count to 100 post shares a very large variety) -- and that's our goal:  to make learning fun!

So this month we are teaming up with a wonderful group of bloggers to introduce some super cool items from around the house that can be used in math activities.

What's the super cool item we are using today?

Clothespins!

And we've got 20 fun ways that your kids can practice counting, adding, geometry, fractions and more!

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5 Tips for Kayaking with Kids

Try something new this summer by learning to kayak with your kids -- we've got tips & inspiration for how to get started!  This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Banana Boat® . All details & opinions are mine only.

Every summer, we like to get out and try something new with our kids. 

In my own little world, I have this list of "things I want to experience with my kids before they grow up and won't be around any more" :) 

So each year, I revisit the list and pick something that I think would be fun to try.

Because one of the best parts about family is experiencing something new together!

To inspire you, we're starting a short summer series on the blog -- Outdoor Family Adventures!

My goal is to introduce you to fun and adventurous activities that families will enjoy -- hiking, horseback riding, snorkeling and ...

... today's feature activity -- kayaking!

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Great Wilderness Adventure Books for Ages 9 - 12

With the first official day of summer coming this week, I sat down to review our summer reading list.

Since I know first hand that it can be somewhat challenging to get those older kids reading during the summer months (or reading something OUTSIDE of their normal 'book type'), I always like to have some go-to chapter books on hand.

One of our favorite genres during the summer are outdoor adventure books -- stories where kids are up against nature and must do some quick thinking and use their survival skills to get through a tough situation.

Those books where kids think "Man, I wish I could have an adventure like that!"

So today's book list is for all those adventurous spirits out there -- both boys & girls -- who wonder what it would be like to be lost in the woods or shipwrecked alone on an island.

Stories like these help our kids to think about how they might 'step up' and handle a challenging situation when there are no adults to lead the way. 

And they're sure to entice and capture the attention of even the most reluctant of readers!

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15 Free Father's Day Cards & Activities {printables}

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It's only a week until Dad's special day -- and boy do we have some GREAT {and free!} ideas for the kids to give Dad!

Father's Day is June 21st this year so I thought we would round-up some fun printable activities the kids can print & personalize. 

These aren't regular boring old cards either -- we've found ideas for techie greetings, funny fill-ins and some unique ideas that will make Dad smile.

I hope these make your week a little easier as you get ready to celebrate with 'The Best Dad in the World'!

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Go BIG! Life-size Games & Art Activities that Make Kids Say "WOW!"

Have you ever noticed that normal sized things are boring for kids?

"Want pancakes this morning?" and all I hear is  "Ok."

But if I ask "How about a pancake the size of your plate?", then I hear "AWESOME!"

Yep, size matters to kids ;)

They LOVE things that are super big or super small -- small world play is always a huge hit and creating BIG art is something they can do for hours.

So in keeping with our 105 Ways to Make Memories with the Kids without Spending a Dime theme this summer, we are introducing some VERY BIG activities the kids will really enjoy!

 

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30 Fun Things to do in June: Holidays & Observances

Sometimes creating fun memories is as simple as celebrating a day together -- so I thought I would share some of the fun & unique June Observation Days that families will enjoy!

It seems that there is a Fun Day celebration for everything under the sun -- Hug your Cat Day or Make a Sandwich Day (odd but true).

And the whole concept of there being days unique observances is a little foreign to kids -- except when they ask you "There's a Mother's Day and a Father's Day, so when is it Kid's Day?" 

Of course, we all answer "Every day is Kid's Day", right ;)

For June, choose a few observation days that fit your family's life -- maybe you're an outdoorsy group and want to do something special for National Get Outdoors Day.

Or maybe your kids LOVE Bomb Pops -- then make National Bomb Pop Day a new family tradition.

In line with our $0 Summer: Fun & Free Ways to Make Memories with the Kids philosophy, it doesn't have to be time-consuming or expensive -- it's the little things that create BIG impressions!

 

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