Summer has come to an end, and it is time get our homes ready for relaxing indoors. The thoughts of our followers on Pinterest definitely turned inward, with a lot of attention paid to making homes more convenient and comfortable as the weather cools. Here are our Pinteresting Picks for August.
No matter how much reading your kids get done over the summer, learning in those first few weeks of school can be a shock to the brain. Here are five back to school brain boosts for your kids so they are ready to learn when the first bell rings.
1. The Pen is Mightier than the Keyboard Today’s schoolchildren have more gadgets at their disposal than previous generations could dream of. Smartphones, tablets, and computers are great tools for education, but there still is a place for the written word. Studies show that hand writing new information helps students of all ages commit it to memory. Writing something out engages more of the brain than typing, and since it takes longer, the brain has more time to process the information. Writing is especially helpful with spelling, reading comprehension, and mathematics. If your child is stuck on something or needs to memorize a fact, encourage them to write it out.
2. Make Sure Kids Catch Plenty of Zzzzs It is normal to be a little lax on bedtimes during the summer. When school starts, parents should enforce the rules to make sure children get a good night’s rest. Sleep is essential for any mind to function at its best. Not only does a well-rested mind pay attention during the day, sleep is the “down time” when short-term memories become long-term ones.
3. Feed the Brain Our bodies, including the brain, need the right fuel to do their jobs. While sugar and caffeine are useful for quick bursts of energy, they do not help build the brain. Antioxidants and vitamins found in vegetables and fruits fight brain cell damage and increase cognitive function. Experiment to find veggies your children will enjoy without a fight. No brain can function well without the amino acids in proteins like meat, fish, poultry, and eggs. Proteins especially are important at breakfast because they satisfy hunger, ensuring your stays focused in the morning.
4. Get Moving! The link between brainpower and exercise has been confirmed again and again in scientific studies. Unfortunately, many schools must limit the amount of exercise kids get during the day in order to squeeze in extra classroom time. Just 20 to 40 minutes of vigorous play every day can increase a child’s brain activity. It also improves concentration and a child’s ability to work for long periods of time without interruption. The exercise can be as simple as jumping rope, running games or hula hooping.
5. Review to Remember Repetition is the key to learning and memorizing new information. Every day, ask your children what they learned in school that day. Ask for specifics about the subjects you know they struggle with. One good idea is to make reviewing the day’s lessons a part of the nightly bedtime routine.
Starting a new school year is never easy. But with a little extra work, you can make sure your children get the most out of every day.
Back to school means changing your morning routine. Getting the kids up and out of the house could double your morning workload, but there are tricks to get you out the door on time. Here are 10 morning time savers.
1. EAT Do not skip breakfast because you are tight on time! Get ingredients and utensils ready the night before. You even can prep things over the weekend, like smoothie packs that go straight from the freezer or fridge to the blender.
2. PLAN TO EAT Plan lunch a day (or even a week) ahead. Pack as much of the meal in the evening as possible, and make sure ingredients for the rest are in one spot and easy to find. If necessary, keep the fully packed lunch bag in the fridge overnight.
3. PICK AN OUTFIT One of the biggest sources of last-minute struggles is clothing. Avoid this one by helping kids pick out clothes the day before. Children can take all the time they want to create an outfit, and parents have chances to make sure clothing is appropriate and clean.
4. PLAN A ROUTINE Create a simple routine that is similar to your family’s bedtime routine. This will prevent forgetting important things like brushing teeth and combing hair. The routine should include a bathroom schedule to make sure everyone gets the time they need.
5. GET UP EARLY Wake up before the kids. It is easier to get them up and going when you are up and going. Take a little time to shower, have a cup of coffee and get dressed before you need to focus on getting your children ready.
6. LEAVE IT AT THE DOOR Select a spot near the door specifically for things you need to grab on the way out, like shoes, bags, jackets, keys, and more. This will prevent a hurried search for a backpack or matching boots.
7. MENTAL NOTES Before you go to bed, go over the next day’s schedule. Don’t forget to check the weather report, too. You also can take this time to finalize transportation and carpool arrangements to avoid last minute scrambling.
8. TIME IT Use a timer to keep everything on track. Figure out how long you have to complete each task before you head out the door, then set a kitchen timer or the timer on your phone. That way, time will not slip away from you.
9. TUNE OUT Avoid the news unless the rest of your to-do list is finished. It is easy to get distracted by interesting—or depressing—stories from around the world. Staying up-to-date is important, but in the mornings, you need to concentrate on preparing yourself and your children for the day. There is plenty of time during the rest of the morning to catch up on current events. If there is a morning show you cannot miss, record it and watch it later.
10. STAY FOCUSED Resist the temptation to wash dishes, clean up an e-mail inbox, and other chores that do not need to be done in the morning. Once you have a morning routine down, you can add other activities to it if you have the time.
Do not wait until you are running late to find ways to save time. Plan ahead, and you will be ahead of schedule before you know it.
The first day of school is exciting and there are only so many we get to experience with our kids. Here are 7 first day of school traditions to make every first day of school memorable.
Preservation The night before the first day of school is almost as exciting as Christmas. To get rid of that nervous energy, help them craft a box where they can save their papers and artwork for the school year. It will be a collection of their progress and at the end of the year, have them sift through it to create a scrapbook. They can fill it with memories and see how they mature over the school year.
Fashion Show Help them pick out their favorite outfit to wear on the first day back to school. What they like to wear and what looks good for the first day of school might be two different things, so they may need guidance on how to be camera ready. Add something new to the outfit to mark the day – like a sparkly barrette or a hat – and look good for a picture.
Breakfast Your kids no longer get up or eat when they want, so make it easy on them and prepare a breakfast to entice them out of bed. Make an effort, but not so much effort you can’t get to work on time. Make healthy pancakes (it pleases you as much as it pleases them) or French toast (with whole grain bread, of course). Cut up fruit and make the batter the night before so all you have to do in the morning is heat the griddle.
Expectations Over breakfast, have them make a list in a cute, crafty notebook of what they’re excited about for the new school year. Talk about their friends, what they want to learn and their new teachers. Save the notebook and pull it out to review on the last day of school.
Pack It Help them pack their lunches. Make it extra special with a fun dessert and a note from you. Tell them how proud you are of them and what kind of potential they have for the school year. Give them gentle encouragement to finish the day.
Picture It Take a picture of them before they leave for school or at the bus stop. Have them hold up a sign – pre-printed, on a chalkboard, or hand-drawn – with the date, their age and grade. Take an identical picture of them on the last day of school to show how much they’ve changed over the school year.
Dinner The first day of school is exciting and stressful. Treat them to a family meal of comfort food. Make them things only you can make right – like your perfect macaroni and cheese, oven-fried chicken or broccoli pie. After dinner, set up an ice cream sundae bar and take dessert to the patio to talk about the first day of school. Ask about what they did at school, what their teacher is like and who they were excited to see.
It’s just the first day of school, but there are only so many you get to witness in your child’s lifetime. You’ll be glad you marked the days for your memories and for theirs.
Summer’s days are ticking away. Soon, kids’ schedules will be full of school, homework, practices, and lessons. Make sure your child takes advantage of every chance to play with toys and gear from the Lakeside Selection: Our Choice of Favorite Items of the Week.
August is Family Fun Month! We’re counting down the days before the kids go back to school, so we want to make the most of the time we have left with the family. Here are 6 ideas for having fun with your family.
Be Nostalgic Put together a family time capsule. Have everyone collect items to remind them of what they did this summer – shells from the seashore, artwork, postcards, photographs, small toys, books, calendars, lists of your favorite intangible items (TV shows, songs, bands), ticket stubs (movies, airline, sporting events). Put all the items in a sturdy container that locks out moisture, seal it and make sure you have an open date clearly written on it. Burying it could ruin the contents, so store it in a cool dark corner until it’s time to open it.
Be Active Play a game outside. Badminton is a great game for the family because you can play as individuals or as teams and it doesn’t take a lot of athletic ability for it to be fun for just about any age. If you want to do something less competitive, plan a family day at the pool.
Be Hungry Go on a picnic. Choose the most beautiful park in your community and plan a big portable meal. Get everyone to pitch in to make the food and prepare the coolers for an afternoon of eating in the outdoors. Make a whole day of it by planning games or flying kites.
Be Creative Make a summer family scrapbook. Have all the photos of everything you did this summer – include individual activities like Girl Scout camp or tennis camp. Come up with scrapbook themes and ideas as a family. Give everyone a few pages to decorate and include pages for journaling about how each of you spent the summer.
Be Curious Plan a treasure or scavenger hunt for around your block. Scavenger hunts are a great way for kids to explore the neighborhood and see it from a different perspective. Hunts encourage team work and give families the opportunity to communicate and interact. It sparks unique quality family time you won’t have during the school year.
Be Constructive Build something as a family. A tree house or a fort in the backyard will be fun to plan and make together and the kids will get use out of it for the next few months. But even smaller items like a table or bench made from an upcycled wooden pallet to add to your outdoor décor is fun for the whole family to build and enjoy. If you don’t have the time or materials to build something permanent, there’s no shame in building a blanket fort in the backyard.
The summer has flown by, but it’s not over yet! Enjoy the summer with your family while you can! Check out our emails and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more #familyfun as the summer winds down this month.
It’s almost time to pack up and head to college. Dorm life is nothing like home — food comes from tiny refrigerators, showers are shared with 30 other people and two people have to squeeze their entire lives into a 12’x12’ room. It’s not always pleasant, but there are items out there to help you make the best of it. Here are 5 dorm essentials to help your room make you feel at home…even when you’re far from home.
In the whirlwind of family summer fun, it can be difficult to find a little time for yourself. It’s so easy to be overwhelmed by schedules for children’s summer activities, and before you know it, autumn and school will be here. Take some time out to indulge yourself, or find something to make your life easier in the Lakeside Selection: Our Choice of Favorite Items of the Week.
We only get so much time to get to spend outside, making the best of it by camping is the logical way to take in nature at its best and warmest. The great outdoors are vast and beautiful — so where do you go? Here are some of the best places to camp around the country.
Illinois In the southernmost tip of Illinois, nestled between Missouri and Indiana is Giant City State Park. The park has everything you might want for an active camping trip – rock climbing, horseback riding, hiking and fishing. The campsites vary in accommodations – sites with water, electricity and showers are available for reservation, but you can also use the walk-in sites without all the amenities.
New York Just north of Lake Ontario and south of Canada, Canoe-Picnic Point State Park is open for island tent camping. What makes this campground more interesting than others is it is only accessible by boat, so you have to pack accordingly and budget for boat rental. The site is great for fishing and you can cook what you catch at the picnic ground where there are communal cooking facilities.
California Three hours west of San Francisco and four hours north of Los Angeles, is some of California’s most impressive landscape at Yosemite National Park. Cascading waterfalls, towering sequoias and tranquil trails attract more than four million visitors every year. There are thirteen campsites where you can pitch a tent, but motels and cabins are available for those who like a bed and bath.
Florida Not far from Cape Coral, on the Gulf Coast of Florida, cushy camping surrounded by water is best at Cayo Costa State Park where secluded beaches are lined by pine forests and swamps. The island is only accessible by ferry or private boat which means the nine mile island has hiking trails to lead you from the campgrounds to the water to snorkel and fish or watch for manatees and dolphins.
Pennsylvania In eastern Pennsylvania, camping, fishing and hiking is best at Locust State Park. Hiking and biking allows you to take in the lush forest and wetlands on your own, but the park provides guided tours to examine the lake and Pennsylvania wildlife. There are lakeside campsites for those who want to swim or boat and sites to accommodate RVs and campers.
Wherever you are, you’re never too far from a great camping trip. You don’t have to drive to enjoy the great outdoors; sometimes your backyard makes the perfect campground.
We don’t get weather hot enough to eat ice cream all the time, so we should make the most of it while we can. But how can you make something as exciting as ice cream more exciting? By making a party of it! Here are 4 tips for throwing a Midsummer Ice Cream Social for adults and kids alike.
For the ice cream itself, keep it simple and keep it classic. Everyone likes either chocolate or vanilla, so include those and a sorbet or Italian ice as a non-dairy option. Make sure to keep the serving scoops separate to prevent any cross contamination — if your guests want to mix up the flavors, let them do it with their own spoons. With three ice cream flavors, you can leave the excitement for the toppings – that’s where you and your guests can go nuts.
Make the toppings as elaborate and simple as you want. There’s nothing wrong with serving the basics – fudge, caramel, sprinkles, whipped cream and nuts; your guests can design their sundaes with mixed and matched toppings. If you really want to go the extra mile, crush up cookies, add some candy bar pieces, slice berries, spoon out marshmallow fluff – go wherever your imagination takes you.
Keep it Cold
It’s ice cream; by definition it’s cold and you want it to stay cold. For serving, fill a deep serving tray or large bowl with ice to hold your ice cream in the room but well below room temperature. For ice cream packaged in cardboard containers, place them in a plastic tub to go on top of the ice so the containers don’t get soggy. Until serving time, keep your ice cream dishes and spoons in the freezers so the ice cream doesn’t melt as your guests top their sweet treats.
Keep it Neat
Ice cream is full of sugar and when it melts, it’s sticky. To prevent too much mess, put a vinyl or oil cloth table cloth down for the serving area with a small bucket of warm water and a towel for immediate cleanup.
With the Fourth of July behind us, we only have a few weeks left to enjoy hot weather and cold treats — let’s make every day count!