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Guest Post: Making the Most Out of Every Day This Summer


This is a guest post by Theresa from Our Life in Words. Please stop by and visit her great blog!

My girls (ages 9 & 11) were only out of school for a few days when I heard, “Mom, I’m bored!”

My first reaction was what my mom used to say to me, “Is your closet clean and tidy? All your clothes hung up? Are your dresser drawers organized? Are all of your socks in the same drawer?”

As much as I never wanted to turn into my mom, summer is a great time to teach kids organization and how to clean up after themselves.

Summer is also an opportunity for parents to spend quality time with their kids doing all of those things they wish they had time to do during the year. It doesn’t have to take a lot of money.

Here are some fun *free* things you can do with your kids:
*Have a water fight; use the hose, water balloons, Super Soakers, rags & buckets
*Wash the car together – kids LOVE this!
*Make homemade play-doh together and play with it
*Go for a bike ride
*Go for a walk
*Play frisbee or catch
*Make a tea party for your little girl and use your real china & dress up
*Find a patch of lawn that doesn’t have any grass, turn the hose on and make mud pies with your son
*Make roads in the dirt with your boy, play with matchbox cars
*Check out what free summer programs your library is offering
*For more ideas on fun things to do with your kids for free over the summer, check out books or parenting magazines in your local library!

Work on school skills:
*Play Mad Libs – Kids LOVE Mad Libs and they are a great, fun way to teach parts of speech.
Google Free Mad Libs or check out Education Place.
*Play Math Bingo – I bought this game in the Dollar Store and my kids LOVE it!
*Sign up for summer reading programs at your local library
*Write a story with your kids. Start with a sentence and ask your children to each add a sentence. If they are too young to write, write it down for them. Have them illustrate it.
*Keep a journal with your kids of all of summer fun you have. Press flowers from your walks and glue them in. Or take photos of your fun and glue them in.

“The days are long, the years are short.” ~ Gretchen Rubin

Make the most of every moment with your child because childhood doesn’t last forever!

Do you have any suggestions for frugal fun this summer?

Theresa is a former teacher who spent nine years as a stay at home mom. She now works part-time as the Assistant Children’s Librarian at her local library. She blogs regularly at Our Life in Words and weekly at Three Thinking Mothers.

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Guest Post: Fun Summer Reads for Kids


This guest post is by Theresa at Our Life in Words. Stop by her great blog today!

Long hot summer days are a great time for lazing away with a good book.

Even if your children want to be active during the day, why not cuddle together at night with a good book?

When my girls were little, I looked forward to reading to them in bed at night. Now that they are 9 and 11, one of our favorite things to do is pop a big bowl of popcorn and snuggle together in my Queen size bed, each reading our own books. Sometimes we read really funny or good parts aloud to each other. I believe that if children associate reading with a quiet, cuddly, snuggly, comfortable family time where they feel loved, they will be much more inclined to grow up to enjoy reading.

As a children’s librarian, one of my favorite things is helping children to find books that will inspire a lifelong love of reading. These may be different books for every child. Honestly, many of the books that were said to be “wonderful” when we were kids will no longer inspire a love of reading in children.

Here is a list of New books that may, hopefully inspire a love of reading in your child. Please ask your local librarian for more help and if you still need recommendations, please email me at my blog and give me an idea of what your child likes and how old they are and I will be happy to try to point you in the right direction!

Toddler – PreK

Elephant & Piggie series by Mo Willems
Knuffle Bunny series by Mo Willems
Mo Willems is a New York Times best selling author of children’s books and a three time Caldecott winner. He has changed the face of children’s literature.

McDuff series by Rosemary Wells
Children delight in this series about a West Highland terrier. Beautiful, retro illustrations make it pleasurable for parents as well.

Olivia by Ian Falconer
Who can resist Olivia? The funny, formidable little pig will delight your children and the illustrations are sure to keep parents enjoying these books as well.

Biscuit series by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
This adorable pup can grow with your child. There are board books, story books and then easy leveled reading books for when they start to read on their own.

Grades K -2

Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
Parents will remember this amusing literal minded housekeeper from when they were learning to read. These books provide delightful lessons into the true meaning of what we say and keep children laughing.

The Grandmas Books by Emily Arnold McCully
These books are very funny and perfect for emerging readers.

Fly Guy series by Tedd Arnold
A boy meets a fly that can say the child’s name and together they set off on a series of adventures that will keep emerging readers entertained.

Berenstain Bears by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Parents may remember this family of tree house dwelling bears from their own childhood. This vast series covers all kind of life lessons and social issues from chores to going to the dentist to sibling rivalry.

Grades 2-4

Baby Mouse series by Jennifer & Matthew Holm
Reluctant readers and even children who love to read delight in this comical graphic novel series about a mouse and her adventures.

Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osbourne
Mystery, exploration and adventure abound in this series that covers historical and scientific events. This series is often recognized for teaching children to predict, infer and visualize- all key skills in building strong readers.

Ramona & Beezus series, Ralph S. Mouse series, Henry & Ribsy series – Beverly Cleary
Parents may remember these series from their childhood and indeed they are still popular with kids. Children can relate easily to these characters and the pace of the novel is just right for the reader who is ready to read chapter books independently.

Weird School Daze series by Dan Gutman
Boys love this off the wall series of impossible scenarios. Reluctant readers will have no trouble being entertained and children who love to read will delight in this fun series.

Grades 3-5

Allie Finkle by Meg Cabot
Moms may be familiar with Meg Cabot and now she has branched out into children’s novels. My daughters love this series about a quirky character who encourages individuality.

Mother-Daughter Book Club series by Heather Vogel Frederick
This series is really more for the 3-5 grader. In each book, the author introduces a work of classic literature and makes it more digestible for today’s young audience by having a fictional book club of girls from all different walks of life and their mothers read and discuss the books as part of their book club. Girls will relate to the modern day character’s lives and emotions while reading the book.

Baseball Card Adventures (Babe and Me) by Dan Gutman
Boys are able to time travel back in time to experience that greats of baseball at their finest, to meet them and get to know them. A fantasy for any young boy who loves baseball!

There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom, Wayside School series, Holes – Louis Sachar
Louis Sachar writes books that kids want to read. Kids find his characters likable and enjoy the crazy situations he puts them in.

Theresa gave up the glamour of being a kindergarten teacher to stay home with her kids for nine years. She now works part-time as the Assistant Children’s Librarian at her local public library.

Show Us Your Town (Hop)…Link Up!


It’s time to Show Us Your Town! This week I’m showing you Living Treasures Animal Park in Moraine, PA that we visited back in April.

Your hosts are:
Me! Jenn from Coolest Family on the Block 🙂
Michelle from Heartfelt Balance Handmade Life
Bernadette from Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas
Michelle from Michelle’s Charm World

Link up all of the cool fun places that you’re visiting in your area this summer. Link up as many related posts as you like. The linky closes Saturday at Midnight.

If you link up to the hop we’d appreciate it if you grab our button and link back to one of the 4 hosts. You can right click and save the image below or grab my button in the left sidebar. Thanks!



Click below to add your link!

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Coolest Family on the Block is committed to helping you find creative ways to have fun and make memories with your family all year-long. Don’t miss an idea, tip, or trick…subscribe and have updates sent directly to your email!

Guest Post: Top 10 List of Things to do with Toddlers this Summer


This is a guest post by Stephanie from Always Just a Mom. She has some great ideas for keeping your toddlers busy this summer. Be sure to stop by her blog and say hi!

Hi!  I’m Stephanie and I’m stopping by today from my blog Always Just A Mom!  I’m a stay-at-home mom to String Bean (3) and Biscuit (2) who are just 13 1/2 months apart, so we’re always doing something!  This summer has started off HOT!  I’ve had to adjust the way we do things around our home because of the heat and the fact that I’ve got two very active toddlers…so I thought I would share with you my…

Top 10 List of things to do with Toddlers this Summer!

1.  WATER:  Get them in the water and get them drinking water!  We have invested in a small inflatable pool (found on sale at Toys R’ Us for $69.99) but even if you don’t have the money for the pool get a sprinkler!  (I got a great ring sprinkler for $6.00 at Walmart the other day…perfect for toddlers because you adjust the height and strength of the water!)  
It’s also important to get them to drink water.  This has been a challenge so we invested in some fun CamelBak water bottles for the boys…they now reach for them in the fridge.  I let them pick them out (we had a 20% coupon from REI) and we carry them with us all the time now!  You can also get great reusable kid water bottles at Target ($3.00)!
2.  PARK:   Get up and go to the park.  The beds can be made in the afternoon, the dishes can get done later.  Get your kids outside before it’s super hot.  We are very lucky to have a park up the road…we can actually walk to…but pack some granola bars, some water and get to the park!
3.  PUDDING:  Make pudding with your kiddos.  This is great for your toddlers!  Get a Tupperware container, put the pudding mix in, add the 2 cups of milk, secure the lid and let them shake it until their little hearts content!  Then stick it in the fridge and they’ve made pudding.  It’s such a little thing and they will have helped make the dessert for that evening (add some whipped topping and a few bits of candy and you’ve really made something fancy for dinner). 
4.  GARDEN:  No you don’t need an acre of land or a green thumb.  Go grab a box of triscuits or wheat thins that have the plant the seed logo on the box.  All the directions are on the back and you can plant fun herbs in your house in a small pot (Terra Cotta pots are like $2.99 at Joanns).
5.  NIGHT OUT:  Let your kids be outside after dark.  This is really tough for a mom like me because I’m all about the schedule but I usually just let them sleep an extra 30 minutes or so on a day we’re going to do this, then let them run around outside as the street lights are coming on.  They love playing in the backyard with flashlights and chasing lighting bugs!  It’s just a change for them…it’s also fun to give them a yummy Popsicle or some other messy, cool treat.
6.  MAKE ICE CREAM:  Some of you are thinking…WHAT?!?  Make ice cream with toddlers…well not the ice cream maker ice cream.  Take some fresh fruit (strawberries), blend it with some ice and some milk, pour it into little containers, freeze for 20 minutes, add some craft Popsicle sticks and let them freeze for a few more hours…you made ice cream.  Yes…your toddler will think you are AMAZING!  (Remember they are impressed with very simple things!)
7.  TAKE PICTURES:  Take pictures of everything they are doing.  Let them have fun and pose and be silly.  Just try to capture all those summer events.  You can later make them into fun little cards/notes for family far away and share a little of their summer with them.  Very easy!  Don’t want to pay for printing pictures…just use your computer printer, print on regular paper, cut it out, glue to some fun cardstock or a card you already have and just let them “color” a little note.

8.  THANK YOUs:  My kids love to paint with those little water paints (little cup of water, get the hard paint color wet, make some pictures).  We use those for Thank You notes.  They paint them and then I hold on to them throughout the year to send as “thank yous” to family and friends when they receive a gift or have a special day with someone.  They have painted them, and then I write the words they want me to write over the painting.  It’s just a little more personal and it makes them part of the process!!!  (Who doesn’t want a cute little water color painting from a toddler hanging on their fridge door!)

9.  INDOOR PICNIC:  It’s HOT!  I hate the heat.  Summer is my LEAST favorite time of year.  Plan an indoor picnic.  Put on a movie, get some cheese, crackers, grapes, and juice cups and sit on a blanket in front of the TV.  Just changing the environment where they eat and getting to watch TV while they eat a meal (something we rarely do) is a noteworthy event!  This can be done for dinner with PB&Js just sayin’!
10.  PLAY IN THE MUD:  Let your kids play in the mud.  Although I have two very rowdy “BOYS” and they are all boy…let your girls play in mud.  You can put it in a little plastic tub and let them just put their feet in it…mud is fun!!  It’s messy, it’s a pain to clean up, it’s a picture you’ll cherish and it’s fun you can’t replace!

I hope you enjoyed my Top 10 and I hope you try a couple ideas!  These are nothing Earth Shattering but sometimes it’s the little things we forget to do!  Summer is here and like the lyrics say “There’s a 104 days to summer vacation…” enjoy these days and enjoy your little ones!!!  Have a great summer and thanks for letting me share a little bit of me with you!!!  Look forward to seeing you over at Always Just a Mom!

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