ABC and 123: A Learning Collaborative: August 2013

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Getting Creative with #DuckBrandTape

While attending Family Forward last week, our family had the chance to connect with Duck Brand Duct Tape during a project oriented session encouraging families to start a tradition of creating together.

Our family worked together to create 3 different projects of 3 different skill levels.

Beginner Project: 
Duck Brand Tape Bow attached to a Tape Headband

Intermediate Project: 
A Golden Wallet

Advanced Project: 
Super Hero Accessories

This session was a highlight of the conference for my kids and since we have been home they have been dreaming up, and searching Pinterest for, more duct tape projects.  Here are a few ideas for getting ready for back to school in Duck Brand Tape style!

iPhone or iPad case:  It's Overflowing

Locker Mirror: Rykauna's Ruffles

Lunch Bag: Pinterest

File Folders from The Silver Lining

Heart2Home: Drawer Caddies

Did you know?

The popular product, Cricut, used for scrap booking and creating fantastic classroom bulletin boards can also cut custom designs into Duck BrandTape?  Experiment with it. It's fun! Using Duck Tape would be an easy variation on the personalized pencil case shared on Chase the Stars.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Organizing the Back to School Wardrobe

Part of our back to school preparation includes the wardrobe swap.  Our kids spend the good part of a day swapping out the clothes they wore out with all their summer fun for more school appropriate outfits.  The majority of our back to school shopping is done with the tubs of hand me downs we store from one child to the next.  We set up a shop in our home and try to make it a special experience as the kids pick the outfits they like most in the size they will need for the new year.  
This year, after shopping the storage tubs we talked about the different mixes and matches each of the kids could make with the clothes they chose.  During the school year we typically expect our children to lay out a week's worth of outfits on Sunday night.  From day to day during the week they can pick which of the 5 outfits best suit their mood or activity for the day.  In the past it has been a bit of a challenge for our youngest ones to remember which pieces make outfits.  This year we have brainstormed a solution for choosing the weekly wardrobe.
1. Create Outfits.  Mix and Match.  Be Creative
2. Take pictures of each of the combinations
3. Print the pictures and load them into plastic photo sleeves in mini albums
4. Store the albums in your kids' dressers
5. As they pick outfits for each day children can easily refer to the pictures to find the pieces they need

Hopefully this easy tip will simplify our morning routine during this school year!
What are you tricks and tips for getting your children dressed and on their way on busy school mornings?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

One in a Minion: Encouraging Your Family

As I mentioned yesterday, our family recently traveled to Universal Orlando for the Family Forward Retreat organized by Mom It Forward. The conference focused on creating Super Hero families.  If you have been reading ABC & 123: A Learning Cooperative for long, you know that we are always on the hunt for activities that build family togetherness and promote learning.  Mom It Forward has put together an amazing series of e-books: Becoming a Super Family! The idea behind the series is to recognize your family's collective influence and to find ways to build each other up by understanding each individual's super powers.
Book 6 is about developing TRUST among the people we love most!  One of the activities in the book is called, "I Love You because..."  They suggest once a week, or a month, to have each person in the family think of a unique "I love you because" statement for another person in the family.  These encouraging words can easily be recorded and looked back on from week to week.  
While in Universal Studio Orlando each of the families was given a generous gift bag by the resort.  One of the items in the bag was this adorable little notebook.
Since our children had just enjoyed the opportunity for a private dance party with the lovable minions from Despicable Me they were all hoping to lay claims on this cute souvenir.  We decided to make it our "Love you because..." book with a twist.  

You're One in a Minion 

Every family is special! Start the brainstorming with some specific questions:
What makes sister special?
What is dad good at?
How did brother help you with this week?
What is a characteristic you appreciate about mom?
During our drive home each person in our family communicated some "One in a Minion because..." statements while uplifting each other with our words.  It was the start of a special once a month tradition for our family!
How does your family build trust and encourage one another?  Is this a tradition you might consider adding to your new school year schedule?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Survival Tips for Road Trips with Young Children

While I know many of you are back in the swing of the school routine, we are not quite there yet!  Our kids will hit the books next week, but this week we are still basking in the afterglow of an amazing summer vacation!  Our most recent adventure was a 22 hour road trip to Universal Orlando for the Family Forward Retreat organized by Mom It Forward.  In the next few days I would love to share some of the tricks, tips, favorites, and family memory making activities we discovered during this event.
To kick it off, we must talk about the journey  - which we all know is just as important as the destination!  

Tip #1: Explain the Route

By making the kids aware of the states we would be passing through, as well as some of the famous landmarks we would drive by, we kept them engaged in watching out their windows.  This little trick also significantly cut down on the "Are we there yet"s! In the first 10 minutes of our trip the kids colored a miniature picture of a mini van that we hung appropriate as we passed each mile maker on our route.

Tip #2: Clip Stops

Create a special clip for each of the young passengers and display them on your visor.  While in route the clips remain unless there is a problem (set appropriate boundaries with your children ahead of time as to what a "problem" will be).  If a passenger causes a disagreement on a leg of the trip, take their clip down. When you stop for gas, a bathroom break, or a meal allow each child with a clip still hanging to choose a small snack.  We designated which type of stops would be clip stops ahead of time.  We did not buy clip snacks at meal stops for our family.

Tip #3: Surprise Activities

Fill several lunch sacks with a special activity that encourages play, conversation, or creativity.  Label the bags by hour marks or time and allow the kids to open the bags as they reach those milestones.  Our bags included: How to Draw Characters instruction sheets, pipe cleaners, coloring pages,*BINGO cards, Spot It, Blink, ViewMaster, Math Mountain dice games, Comics, silly cds, and more.

Tip #4: Choose a Comfortable Vehicle

Driving a great car with comfortable seats, leg room, a moon roof for gazing, and satellite radio makes the trip much more enjoyable for everyone.  When we travel we like to rent a car from Hertz. With children on board it is also reassuring to know we won't end up stranded in our own vehicle waiting in a backwoods repair shop for hours...or days! 

Tip #5: Lap Trays

Purchase tin cookie sheets from a dollar store for each of the passengers.  These sheets come in handy for building and playing games, as well as turning into a makeshift place mat for meals on the go. 

Tip #6: You can never pack enough wet wipes for quick clean up!

Tip #7: When all else fails, plug in the portable DVD player! :)

*I saw an idea on Pinterest to attach bubble wrap to road trip BINGO cards.  The kids loved popping along as they found the licence plates and road signs they were searching for.  It may or may not have given the driver a bit of a headache (wink!).
What are some of your most successful road trip tips?  We would love to hear about them.
Disclosure: For this trip we drove a Buick Enclave from  They provided us with a free upgrade to the economy car package we booked. They have no expectations for us to write about their service or our experience, however it was a very positive experience for our family and we will look forward to working with them again in the future when we plan our vacations.