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Friday, June 27, 2014

Keep 'Em Buzzy This Summer Blog Hop!

Hip, Hip, Hooray it is FINALLY summer vacation for me!
Yesterday was my last day of school and I am 'o-fish-ally' ready for summer, family fun, lazy days and the beach!

I could not think of a better way to kick-off summer than participating in this month's 'Keep 'Em 'Buzzy' Blog Hop!  I know I have a list of things I want to do this summer, but am always looking for new and fun ideas to do with my 2 boys!

I know there are others out there seeking some summer fun, so I have compiled a list of 10 things to keep them 'bee'-sy!
One of my favorite images of summer is seeing footprints in the sand!  I have pictures of both my boys 'first steps' in the sand and they are images I treasure.  Never again will their feet be that tiny!  How do we keep those 'footprints' forever and especially after summer is over and the waves have finished washing them away?


Back in December I posted about my 'sandy feet' ornaments that are something I make in summer, but treasure seeing on my Christmas tree each year!  I figured this would be a perfect opportunity to share, a bit more in detail, the 'how to' on making 'sandy feet' so that those visiting a beach this summer could make them!

You can make it 'on the beach' but I find it more successful to bring a bit of the beach back home to work on it!
Usually we take sand from our 'last beach trip' of summer, but I grabbed my 'partners in crime' and we walked down to the beach to grab some sand for this post...I can't believe my 'feet' are done and summer hasn't even begun for me yet!

Collect a bit of sand- for this you want 'clean sand' free of big rocks, shells and seaweed- and bring it home.  I usually use a large Chinese soup container for each 'foot' I want to save, but was out this year, so I discovered a large gallon-size Ziploc bag works too!

Gather all you will need:

Pour the sand into a big bowl and remove any large rocks/shells.

If you are doing just one print you can pour the sand into a pan/dish that will be big enough for your 'little stepper' to fit his/her foot into.  You don't want it to be too shallow- otherwise when your 'little stepper' makes a mark it will go down to the bottom of the pan and won't make a sufficient 'mold.'

 Pour a little bit of water and mix it around so that the sand is 'moist' but not 'wet.'  You want the sand to be able to 'hold' the footprint- if it isn't wet the print will collapse (I learned this the hard way!)  I mix the sand and water in a bowl and divide it between 2 containers since I need to make more than one print!

Divide it among your dishes and then make it smooth with your hand or the back of the spoon.

Have your 'little stepper' press his/her foot into the sand.   

Be sure to press those little piggies in good so that you have a really defined print!

Mix up a batch of Plaster of Paris.  Follow the directions on the package and then let it sit for a few minutes to 'stiffen/set' a bit (It is 2 parts plaster to 1 part water- I used 1 cup of plaster and 1/2 cup of water for each foot).  You want to still be able to pour it, but don't want it too 'liquidy' that it collapses the footprint.  This is the plaster I use- I bought the tub at Michaels using a 40% off coupon 4 years ago and am still using it!  It wound up costing me less than $5!  You can also find it on Amazon for about $6.50!
I also like to use a large size plastic cup to mix each batch.  That way I can throw it away and not worry about clogging my sink (and having to explain it to my hubby! :) )

If you are doing more than 1 foot at a time, I would suggest making 2 batches of Plaster and waiting on mixing the second batch until you have poured the first one.  Once it starts to harden it goes quickly and it will become lumpy!

SLOWLY pour the Plaster of Paris into the footprint.  Fill the print to the top.

If you want this to be an ornament, place a piece of looped ribbon into the top...

...and cover the end with a bit more plaster.  Let it sit to harden.

In about 30 min it will be stiff enough for you to write the date/name in the Plaster.  If your Plaster was really liquidy it could take a bit longer.  You will know when it is ready as soon as you start to 'write.'  You can also use rocks to date it.  I use them to put their age in the print:

Using a toothpick, write the name, initials, date and/or location of the beach you visited into the foot.  You can also type this information up onto a thin strip of paper (that would fit into the space of the foot) and laminate it.  You can press that paper into the Plaster and 'edge' it with a few small rocks, shells and/or left over sand!

It will be 'dry' in about 24 hours.  Pull the foot out of the sand and let it dry facing up.  Excess sand will be all over the foot and the 'print' won't appear that great right now.  That is OK!  

 You WANT it to look like this at first!

You can brush off some of the excess sand using your finger, but in about another day use an old toothbrush to brush off the excess sand- especially around the toes!  A lot of sand is going to fall off- that is OK!

Now it is all finished!  You now have a 'footprint in the sand' forever!  No wave is going to wash this one away!

...and then do it again for the rest of the sandy feet in your family...
or for another trip to a different beach!
You can even do a handprint the same way!

I know it appears tedious, but its really quite simple!  It's so fun to revisit those little feet year after year on the tree!  I know this year's prints are going to pull those branches down a bit...they are getting so big!  I promise this will be a memory to treasure!

Still thinking its too much?
Don't want to go through the fuss of making them?
You can still 'save some summer' for Christmas!
Photo from Google Images
Craft stores sell the glass and plastic ornaments that can be filled!
Simply pour in some sand, a few small shells, etc and use a paint marker to write the date, beach/city visited, etc on the outside of the ornament!
This is not one that I made as I didn't have a chance to get to the craft store to get the ornament yet, but it is the general idea!

Now that you have that BUCKET of plaster, what else can you do???
Did you find some fun shells and rocks?
Use the plaster to make a garden 'stepping stone'!
My boys collected these shells and stones and we made this for my hubby for Father's Day a few years ago.  

It was our first 'Father's Day' in our new home that is close to the beach.  I had purchased a mold/kit to do this, but you could do it in an aluminum pan.  After it hardens you can peel the pan away!

So how do you record those fun vacation memories?
How about a flip book!  It'll keep a bit of 'academics' going during summer and also serve as a fun memento!
Great for all different ages/abilities!  Kids can draw pictures, label, write words or create sentences!  You can even glue in pictures, pamphlets, ticket stubs and more!

To make the flip book you print the pages included in the free download front/back (print on both sides on the short edge):

Compile the pages so that they are 'staggered':
This is how it will look on one side and on the other...

Fold the pages downward

And put 2 staples on top!

I make flip books like this with my students all the time- 5 senses with different seasons, sequencing activities, etc.  They LOVE these books and they are simple to make but look like they took a lot of prep!
Want a fun place to go- especially on those rainy days?
Check out:
When you register your child, s/he will receive 2 FREE games of bowling DAILY!  It is valued at over $500 per child!  They have locations all over the US and in Canada!  Escape to the AC on hot and steamy days or a dry day of fun with Mother Nature sends rain your way!

If you have a slide in your yard you can turn it into a water slide for summer wet fun!
Simply fill a small kiddie pool and place it at the end of the slide (our slide lifts, so we place the slide in the pool).  Put your suits on and....

This pool lasted all season for us, but I would suggest a molded plastic kiddie pool if you want it to last longer!

My boys also liked experimenting with sending other objects down the slide to see how much of a splash they made!  There's your science lesson of the day!
Want to 'mix up' some fun?!  Try making some sidewalk paint!  You can even make it 'educational' by counting as you measure, talk about colors/ colors you can make by mixing colors, etc!  Use it to practice name writing, letters, numbers, etc!  

We just put a big shirt on as a 'smock' but you can also put bathing suits on and then dip in the pool/sprinkler to wash the excess off!

Here is the recipe I have used each summer:
For each color you want you will need 1/2 c cornstarch and 1/2 c water and about 12-15 drops of food coloring.  
Simply mix all 3 ingredients together!

You can even make them in mason/recycled sauce jars.  Have the kids 'shake' the jar to mix it.  The lid will allow for you to save some for another day of fun, although we always seem to use every little bit each time we make it!

I have them use the foam craft brushes.  They seem to hold the paint a bit longer and are cheap enough to replace when rocks and sand from the road get caught inside!  

*Please Note: If you have a fancy driveway (or a spouse that is particular about 'stains') this paint does last for a good month or so!  The colors fade with each rain or hose scrub, but you will see faint images for some time!*
Speaking of hoses...they are PERFECT for fine motor work!
Attach a nozzle and let your child get to 'work!'
Have him/her make letters, numbers, shapes, etc using the hose!
Place objects on a flat surface for him/her to 'push' with the water (leaves, balloons, small balls, shells, small rocks, sand toys/pails, etc!)

You can even have a 'race' if you have access to 2 hoses at the same time!
Draw a line down the middle of the driveway and have 2 people 'push' something down the driveway!  First to reach the end wins!! 

And while you have that water out, fill those water balloons!!!!!
Have relay races, tosses, etc!

One of my favorite water 'learning' activities is using foam!

Use foam letters dipped in a pail of water or let them float in a water table (these are a set I already had- tub letters by Munkin- but you can cut out your own letters from foam sheets).  Once wet they will stick to windows/glass doors!  Dip in water and stick to the glass to practice letter ID, sight word spelling, CVC decoding, etc!

Use foam to cut your own shapes and make fun games!

If it's too wet out to play, they work just as great in the tub- the kids can put on their suits and have an indoor water day!

Want to keep those 'I Spy' skills keen this summer?
Print these scavenger hunts and send them off to find the items listed!  You can turn it into a game with prizes if you have a large group, or reward with a summer treat (ice cream or watermelon!) for those that complete the hunt!
I made 3- night time (perfect to keep kiddos busy while waiting for fireworks at a 4th of July BBQ!), summer time (great for a play date with friends) and travel (have them lean on a book in the car and keep 'Are We There Yet?' at bay for a bit!)

Simply find the items and check them off!  For older kids have them number the items as they find them or make tally marks as they find 'multiples!'

Afraid you won't be able to find the items pictured?  Print a second copy and cut them apart.  Hide/tape the pictures around the house and have them find the pictures and check off on their recording sheet!  Fun indoor thing to do if the weather is not so nice outside too!  
Jellyfish Craft!
This fun craft will be nothing your kiddies will run away from!  No sting- just fun!

For each jellyfish you will need:
paper plate
glue, tape & stapler
sandwich size ziploc bag
hair gel
tissue paper or crepe paper streamers
glitter (optional)
googly eyes (optional)

Have your child color a paper plate with crayons. 

Fold the plate in half and cut out the inner space so that there will be a place to put the 'jelly'!

Have your child squeeze hair gel into the sandwich bag.  I use 'cheap' gel from the dollar store!  You can find all different colors too!

If you'd like to add some 'sparkle,' have him/her shake some glitter into the bag too!

Seal the bag up- you MAY want to seal it with a strip of tape too!

Tape the bag into the paper plate.

Fold the plate back up and staple to 'close' it.

Cut tissue paper/crepe paper streamers into strips and glue to the bottom back of the jellyfish.

Flip it over and glue googly eyes or draw eyes onto the jellyfish.

My boys thought they needed more than 2 eyes!!

Punch a hole in the top and attach a string/ribbon so that the jellyfish can be carried/hung!

Want another sea creature project?  My boys made these using their hands and a bit of sand in their preschool!

Keeping them busy is one thing...keeping them listening and learning all summer is another!
These reward cards can be used in many different ways!

Decide together what the reward will be and write it in.
Then hole punch as s/he does what you wanted them to do- it could be for:
*playing nice & fair with siblings
*working in a summer review/work packet
*Learning to write his/her name, ties shoes, use the potty, ETC!

Punch a hole on each button and when all 12 are done the card can be redeemed for the listed prize!
*ice cream/ice pop treat
*trip to a special place for the day
*new book
*special time with mom/dad/grandma/etc!
*sheet of special stickers
*container of playdoh
*action figure
*new crayons & coloring book
*computer/iPad time
*movie time

These reward coupons can also be used in your classroom when you return to school!

Still looking for more ways to keep them busy?
In my Summer Send Off Pack I have calendars for June, July and August that have 18 things to do for each month:
...along with over 20 other activities!

For this weekend only the pack is on sale for 50% off- just $2!!!

But that's not the end...

Want something to keep you 'buzzy?'  I make photo memory books for each season/vacation using Shutterfly!  Here are just a FEW of the books I have made:

In the back of each book I do a 'Highlights of the Season' where I list milestones, firsts, quotes, etc for each of the boys.  It's so fun to look back and see how much they have already grown and learned! 

I want you to have the chance to try out making a special book or anything else to preserve your summer fun, so I am raffling off a $10 Shutterfly gift certificate via this rafflecopter giveaway:

So if you are finished downloading your freebies, pinning images and entering the giveaway, you are ready to head to...

for your next stop in the hop!

I'd love to hear about your summer and if you tried out any of the ideas listed either on my blog or via my Facebook page at anytime!

Happy Summer!
Until next post,
post signature


  1. Thanks for sharing so many fun ideas Jennifer! Looking forward to trying some of these with my grandkids this summer. :)

  2. This is an amazing collection of ideas!! I was planning on making the sandy feet this year, but totally forgot about it. Thanks for the detailed instructions. I will let you know how ours turn out :)

  3. Wow, I am again amazed at your post! I love all your ideas, thank you. I can't wait to make the sandy footprints!

  4. Oh I love the footprints you made! I would use it to make a book of pictures for my family!

  5. Love all your fantastic ideas! Especially the sand feet. My boys are getting pretty big, but I am going to collect sand when we go to the beach next month for this project, I may need a couple buckets Thanks so much for sharing.

    Luv My Kinders

  6. So many ideas, I don't even know where to begin!!! Thanks for all of the ideas!

    Teaching Momster

    1. Oh, and my favorite activity is time spent at the beach. I love to upload all of our family vacation pictures into Shutterfly to share with my family and I make a vacation book each year too!

  7. What great ideas! I may use some as parent gifts in the classroom. I would use the gift certificate to make a vacation photobook or photo gift. Have a great summer!

  8. My favorite summer activity is going on vacation, random drives that I do by myself. I would use the gift certificate to make a photo gift for my girl scouts or to use it for Christmas cards for my new kindergarten class. :) Thanks for all the wonderful and fun ideas!
    Kinders on the Block

  9. Oh Jen, I just love that Sandy feet activity! Your books are awesome ideas! I have let my scrapbooking go to the wayside and would love to get back into that in some form, so I'd use the gift certificate to start a book for one or both of my boys for a year :) Our favorite summer activity is going to the pool. We were there 5 hours today! Exhausting for all!!

  10. I love the sandy feet post. Thanks for sharing. I would definitely get a family photo album. I love lazing in the pool and getting ready for next year.

  11. Oh my goodness!!!! So many great ideas!!! Hope I can fit some in before my summer ends! Thank you :)

  12. Love all of the activities! My favorite is he sand art! Just wishing I had brought sand home with me from the beach this year!!

  13. What terrific collection of ideas, Jennifer! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your creativity!
    Linda Nelson

  14. My favorite summer activity is catching up on all my blog stalking..... :o) I would use the gift certificate to order prints of my daughter's trip to Paris this past May! :o)


  15. This summer I'm going to Vegas, I Teach K Conference, I'd use the certificate for the Vegas photos!

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