Last Day Of School Party & DIY

last day of school partyStart your summer off right with a fun celebration that includes books and motivation for summer reading. Just because school is out does not mean that your kids are going to turn off their brains until it’s back in. Let them celebrate and have fun but know that summer is going to be about more than extra TV time.  Even if your last day of school has already passed you could use these same ideas for a kick off to summer reading.

This celebration is somewhat hypothetical for us because school isn’t out here for another 3 weeks! But this is my plan and I can’t wait!

5 Steps For A Simple Celebration

1. Prepare the sign.  We are using our easel . It will be blocking the door so when we arrive home from the bus it’s waiting for him to start the celebrations! You could also use banner paper covering the front door, side walk chalk on the driveway or spell it out in balloons!  No matter how you do it make it big enough so in their excited state they don’t miss it.

2. Prepare the treat . I know you don’t want to reward with food but this is a celebration and for us that means cake! Here is how we made this easy peasy 2 minute DIY mini banner.  You will need some construction paper, double stick tape, a pipe cleaner, 2 kabob skewers, scissors and a marker. summer party bannerStart by folding your paper in two and cutting a strip about an inch from the folded edge. Cut it into triangles. Some will be folded some won’t. Make sure you have 6 folded ones. Write summer on the folded ones one letter per folded triangle. Add double stick tape to it and fold over the pipe cleaner. Make sure there is enough pipe cleaner on either edge to wind around the skewer. After all the letter flags are on secure it to the skewers and add to the cake. last day of school 2 minute cake banner


3. Prepare the gift. Books are a must. You don’t need to buy them, you can get a stack out from the library but you need to make it clear that they are special and will be read during summer break. If you need a great guide for books try our book gift guide , book lists or try Scholastic’s Book Wizard .  I included some books for my husband and I to read with my son, some picture books for him to share and read to his sister, some early chapter books he can read solo or with us and some non fiction too!

books for summer reading

4. Summer Reading Bucket List – print it out ( email me for a high res version) and include it with your books. last day of school party


5. Summer Coupon Book ( click here to print our version) . These are little treats like staying up later to read, getting to decide on what movie we watch for family movie night and S’mores! Nothing huge just some fun things to look forward to. last day of school party

As a parent I struggle trying to balance making milestones fun but not making them too over the top. I don’t want to set my kids up for the expectation that everything they do , especially things we expect them to do deserves a huge celebration with lavish gifts. I do however want to encourage summer reading, learning all year long and I think this simple celebration focuses on that.

Do you do something special for the last day of school? Tell us about it in comments.


Summer Reading Bucket List

Summer Reading Bucket List

The school year is almost over and if you are like me you have already started planning your family calendar for the whole season. Before you declare all the planning done take some time and plan your summer reading adventure!

Summer reading isn’t just for fun it’s the best way to prevent summer slide. Did you know that it’s estimated that teachers spend on average 4-6 weeks re-teaching material children have forgotten over the summer? Think of all the time that teachers could have for other things if we send our kids ready to learn new material instead of reviewing and re-learning . My kids and I brainstormed fun, silly and educational ideas for summer reading and came up with this bucket list. Follow the links to book recommendations .

  1. Read in a tent.
  2. Read a book about wild animals.
  3. Read a book in the bath.
  4. Read a book under a tree.
  5. Read a book about a city far away.
  6. Read at dinner.
  7. Read a magazine.
  8. Read as a family.
  9. Read a book about your country.
  10. Read in a blanket fort.
  11. Read a book about friendship.
  12. Read a comic book.
  13. Read at the park.
  14. Read a magazine.
  15. Read a book about art.
  16. Read a book that makes your laugh.
  17. Read a book with a flashlight.
  18. Read a book to a pet.
  19. Read at the beach.
  20. Read a book about space.
  21. Read a book in a funny accent.
  22. Read a book while having ice cream.
  23. Read a book then act it out.
  24. Read a book and capture it on video.
  25. Read a biography.
  26. Read a book with chapters.
  27. Read a book about bugs.
  28. Read a book without any words.
  29. Read an alphabet book.
  30. Read a pop up book
  31. Read at breakfast.
  32. Read a book you wrote yourself.
  33. Read an ebook .
  34. Read all summer long.


As you know together with Amy Mascott I write  all about family literacy for Scholastic Parent’s Raise A Reader blog .  On Monday night we will be taking over  Scholastic Parent’s Facebook page for a great kick off of their Scholastic Summer Challenge. This year is set to be the best yet and Amy and I will be answering questions to get you and your family ready for a summer filled with reading. Do not miss it!



Messy Sensory Tubs For Kids

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messy sensory tubs for kids Sensory tubs are fun and messy sensory tubs are even more fun, at least for the kids. Summer is a perfect time to take these outside and not worry about your floors while your kids explore. I am asked often how I handle sensory tubs and pouring everything out . If you saw this instagram showing my daughter pouring rice out you know I am not immune to this and you may notice it was taken outside on our porch. She is in a messy phase and I don’t want to just stop sensory exploration so I head outside too . The way I handle pouring out of the tub is that accidental spillage is no biggie but pouring it on the floor for the sake of pouring it on the floor gets one warning. If it happens again the tub is removed or child redirected to another activity but the key to getting them over this is you try again, same rules.

Mud Soup
Beach Sensory Tub
Ice Fishing
Coffee Grounds Sensory Exploration
Alphabet Sensory Tub
Shaving Cream Fireworks
Ocean Sensory Tub
Butterfly Sensory Tub
Cloud Dough
Rainbow Gelatin Sensory Tub
Swamp Sensory Tub
DIY Water Table
Spring Bird Seed Sensory Tub

Read & Win

It’s that time again folks. If you haven’t submitted your weekly tally for the Summer Reading Challenge do it now. It’s your entry into the sweepstakes for a $50 gift card and a great way to keep your kids learning all summer long!

If you are wondering what the heck is this Summer Reading Challenge? Find out all the details and download a free tally sheet for at home here. It’s not too late to jump on board.

So far we have read almost 7000 books which is awesome but we need to step it up to beat last year. I will read an extra few this week if you will. Our goal is to blow past last year’s total and reach 25, 000 books . I know we can do it and if your weather today is like ours we will all be adding a few extra books to our tally .

Here are a few fun book lists for you to check out if you need some suggestions for reading time.

Books About Space
Books About Ballet & Dancing
Books About Dinosaurs
Books About Music
Books About Families

Also don’t forget reading can be done with books or ebooks! MeMeTales is our favorite ereader app for kids check it out!

Submit Weekly Tally Here

Official Rules
This sweepstakes is open to American residents 18 years or older .To be eligible for the sweepstakes you must fill out this form. 1 winning participator will be drawn at random, using, after the sweepstakes closes on Sunday August 26th 2012 at 8:00pm PST. The winner will receive a $50 gift card valued at approximately $50. After the winner is notified he or she has 48 hours to respond with their email address to send the gift card to,or another winner will be chosen at random. No purchase necessary.The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Any information gathered through the sweepstakes including email and postal addresses will not be used in anyway other than contacting winners and shipment of winnings. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.


{FREE} Summer Fun eBook

Have you planned out your summer yet?

Well if not Life Your Way can help you out.

They have brought together recipes, crafts and everything you need to have a fun organized family summer in on FREE eBook.  I contributed some of my favorite kids activities for the summer but you’ll have to download it to see what . There are over 40 different ideas , recipes and tips from bloggers all over the web all FREE for you.

You can download it here!