Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Monarch Party

My mother has put her heart and soul into teaching for 35 years, so we knew that, for her retirement party, we had to go big or go home. The theme of the party was easy to come up with, as mom spent the last 10 years of her teaching career raising monarch butterflies to show her students its life cycle and quickly became obsessed with everything monarch.

I wanted the students of her school to be a part of the party, so we were able to have each classroom decorate monarch butterflies of varying shapes and sizes that we used for centerpieces and decorations. The centerpieces were very simple, as we filled Mason jars with green raffia, tied orange ribbon to the top and filled the jar with a few branches. We then cut two small slits in each paper butterfly and attached them to the branches. We then sprinkled other butterflies the students had decorated over each of the tables and used what remained for the walls.

As you can see, we left no butterfly behind and had them EVERYWHERE for the party! Like I said...go big or go home!

We used the stage of the auditorium to display former yearbooks, class pictures, and student work over mom's years of teaching and the screen above for a powerpoint show.

Another big element of the party were stations set up in honor of the other themes that mom had used in her classroom over the years. Each year, her second graders read the book Stone Soup and then brought in ingredients to make it themselves. Each student brought a different ingredient for everyone to enjoy. In homage to this tradition, my sister purchased the adorable bowl below that was decorated by a friend of hers for mom to have as a keepsake.

In addition, we also printed out Stone Soup ingredients and encouraged everyone at the party to chose an ingredient and write down on it what they suggest she should do in her retirement. The pieces will eventually be placed into a scrapbook for mom to keep, along with some of the other souvenirs from her party.
A second station we included gave guests the opportunity to write messages to mom that we would put into her "retirement yearbook," complete with pictures from the Powerpoint show we displayed of mom's teaching career from past to present. The third was a play on the 100th day of school tradition that mom has done for years, in which students place 100 fingerprints onto t-shirts that they wear on (you guessed it!) the 100th day. Each former student in attendance at the party was instructed to place a fingerprint and their name on a t-shirt we had created out of foam board to be proudly displayed for years to come.

My family looooooves the opportunity to use ridiculous props and use them for even more ridiculous photos, so the idea of a photo booth at the party was a no-brainer! My awesomely artistic sister-in-law, Tiffany created a beaver (did I mention my mom was "Mrs. Beaver?"), a bulldog (her school's mascot) and a monarch butterfly out of foam board to use as props!

Photo booth models mom (left) and her sisters Rene (left, center), Rita (right, center) and Julie (right)

A huge congratulations to my amazing mother, who is an incredible educator and human being. She has enriched the lives of many and I know will approach this next chapter of her life with open arms and a tenacity to never stop educating. We love you, mom! Congratulations on your retirement!!!!!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Chalkboard Frisbee-Air Mail

I'm taking part in an awesome Kids' Crafts Summer Camp series, courtesy of Randi and her blog Sowdering About, along with a crew of other, awesome bloggers. Given four choices of possible materials, I immediately chose "chalkboard," as I have a bit of an obsession with EVERYTHING chalky! One of my favorite summer activities is tossing a frisbee. Its the perfect summer can take it anywhere easily, play with it in large and small groups, and adults, kids and pets alike love them! Pair that with the fact that I found Americana's clear chalkboard coating on my most recent trip to Michael's, which allows any painted object to become a chalkboard, and I've found my project! In a few, short steps, kids can transform their frisbees into chalkboard score keepers, message boards, and anything their little, creative hearts desire! Here's how...


-acrylic paint
-clear chalkboard coating
-wet paper towel


1. Paint a thin layer of acrylic paint on the top of the frisbee. After the paint has dried, paint 1-2 additional coats of acrylic paint.

2. Once the acrylic paint has completely dried, paint a layer of clear, chalkboard coating over the acrylic paint. 

3. Once the coating has dried completely, it is time to start writing! I found that chalk markers work more successfully than regular chalk, but both are   
    options. Use the chalk to keep score, write messages, and tell jokes (just to name a few).

Chalk can be removed with a sponge or wet paper towel, which will dry very quickly for reuse!

I would LOVE to see pictures of the chalkboard frisbees you create and all of the creative ways you've come up with to use them! Here's hoping this is your best summer yet!!!

Check out the rest of the Campers for this Summer Craft Camp!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Questions to Ask Grandparents Journal

I have the extreme fortune of having all four of my wonderful grandparents alive and well. They are some of the most incredible people I have ever met, and my life has been so blessed as a result of them and all that they have taught me. The stories that they have shared with me over the years are those of love, strife, perseverance and family. In order to ensure that I remember their stories long after they are gone and can share them with my children and my children's children, I have put together journals filled with questions that I had my grandparents each fill out (note: you could definitely complete the journal in an interview fashion where you write in the answers, but there is something about seeing my grandparents' handwriting that I truly will cherish forever).

I gathered some questions from various suggestions online, along with information I knew I wanted to gain more specific to my grandparents. Here is the list the questions I put together...

What is your birthdate/place?

What is your mother's full name? What are some details about her?

What is your father's full name? What are some details about him?

What are the names of your siblings?

What is your family origin?

What was/is your favorite color?

What were some of your activities in childhood?

Did you have any pets? What were they?

What were/are your hobbies then and now?

Where did you grow up?

What was your education?

What did you want to be when you grew up?

What are some of the jobs you've had?

How did the two of you meet?

When were you engaged? How did the proposal happen?

When were you married? Where? What was the wedding like?

Where was your honeymoon?

What countries have you visited?

Did you spend any time in the military?

What are your favorite foods?

What is your fondest memory of childhood?

What was life like when you were growing up?

What was your favorite toy to play with as a child?

How much did things cost when you were growing up?

Were you named after anyone?

What inventions do you remember growing up?

What did your parents do for a living?

How did you determine the names of your children?

As you look back on your life, what significant world events do you remember most?

What advice to you have to give to future generations?

My intent is to eventually copy these answers into a photo book, along with pics of my grandparents from birth to present for a family keepsake.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Number Recognition and Counting Activities

It is so hard to believe that we are half way through summer break (at least over here in Pennsylvania)! Prepare your little ones for their upcoming preschool and early elementary years using these fun and simple ways to identify numbers, put them in order, and begin to count!
Label Legos with numbers 1-20 (or as high as your little munchkins can go) and have your child stack them in order!
Use a cookie sheet (aka-instant magnet board) and write numbers 1-10 using a permanent marker. Match magnetic numbers found at your nearest dollar store with the written numbers for number id fun!
Use any type of envelopes labeled with numbers 1-10 to have your child count the correct number of popsicle sticks to place inside them!
Use a basic sorting tray marked with various numbers and encourage your child to sort index cards by number.

Activities like these are perfect for summer learning, as they are so simple to put together and super quick and fun for munchkins to complete that they won't even realize they're educational! Happy rest of summer!!!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Elmo Birthday Party

My baby girl is 2!!! How did that even happen?!?! When people tell you to cherish every moment because children grow up so quickly, I don't think I ever realized just how true that statement was until I had a child of my own! In celebration of the big day, we held a big, Elmo-themed party for family and friends in my mom's backyard. Here are some of the fun pics and projects created for the party...

The cake table, complete with delicious Elmo cake, party hats, piñata, favor bags and candy boxes

My sweet, birthday girl! I created an iron-on transfer that was placed onto a shirt she already had and added a cute little fabric flower for extra flair!

My husband won me this ginormous Elmo at Cedar Point when we were dating, so I decided to use it to welcome guests to the party!

Looove this Elmo wreath! Check out the tutorial to make one for yourself HERE!

A family friend created this absolutely adorable Elmo cake, which was devoured by party guests!

If I had a nickel for every white and orange circle I cut out in preparation for this party...haha! I added them to red bags I found at the Dollar Tree for favor bags...

...and these birthday hats, which were regular hats found at the Dollar Tree and covered in red construction paper...

...and this game of "Pin the Nose on the Elmo"...

...and these red cups!!!

Party City sells this adorable, pull-string, Elmo piñata---way more appropriate for a two-year-old's party than the typical whack-and-grab type!

The kiddos had a great time taking turns pulling the strings, beginning with the youngest first!

Chowing down on her birthday grub and modeling her Elmo hair clip, made using felt and pinking shears, google eyes and black, paint pen.

Love this little munchkin sooooo much! Bring on the terrible two's!!!!!