Shoot & Splash – Outside Activity For Kids

summer outside activity I was that mom who had NO plans to allow my children to ever play with toy guns. I’d been a teacher and it was easy to say ” No guns at school.” It’s harder to say it at home, not because I don’t have resolve, but it was clear that when I said ” No guns are bad.” he was hearing ” No, and you should be ashamed for asking.”  Pretend play isn’t real. I Lay down ground rules and stick to them. For my family, that means only shooting outside.

One of the things I like to do with my kids and their Nerf blasters is target practice, it is a great outside activity. Not so they are more accurate when we have battles in the backyard but because it’s a wonderful exercise in concentration.

I provided my son with the materials and he set up the activity. Here is what he did, and how you can do it too.

Gather your materials. You will need some lightweight plastic containers, some pylons ( little traffic cones), some water, and a loaded Nerf type blaster.nerf gun target practice

Pour the water into the plastic containers.nerf target practice summer activity

Balance them on the cones. This took concentration too! target practice in the backyard

Step back and take aim! I loved how carefully he was aiming and the adjustments he made when he missed.nerf gun water activity for kids

Shoot the water off and watch it splash!water activities for kids

After all the targets are hit, refill and take aim.

27 Books I Can’t Wait To Read This Summer

27 books to read this summer from no time for flash cardsThis school year has been insane. I went back to teaching a year before I intended to but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have a dream job that I loved even more than I thought I would. Keeping up with that, the blog ( my other dream job) , writing a book, training and running a marathon, and spending time with my incredibly awesome and quirky family has left very little time for something I really really love, reading. This summer while school is out I am going to read like crazy! Read with my kids, read on the treadmill, at the soccer field, on the plane, and hopefully at the beach!

These are the books on my must read list. I haven’t read them yet, I can’t vouch for them, but I can tell you I am excited to crack them open! I have picture books and early chapter books for kids, YA for teens ( but I will totally be reading these, I have an inexplicable love affair with YA ) and books  for adults too. We have fiction and non-fiction on each list, some books will be published this summer, and others aren’t new, just new to me. Age suggestions are just guidelines, you know your child best!

I am begging you to add your MUST read titles in comments or on our Facebook Page.

This list contains affiliate links

Picture Books I Can’t Wait To Read This Summer

best picture books

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole  by Max Barnett
Journey by Aaron Becker
Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dykeman
The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee
Meet the Dullards by Sara Pennypacker
I Don’t Want to Be a Frog by Dev Petty
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat
What Pet Should I Get? (Classic Seuss) Dr.Seuss


Chapter Books To Read With Your Kids This Summer


El Deafo by Cece Bell ( grade 2+)
The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale
The Year of Billy Miller Kevin Henkes
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai ( grade 3+ )
Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes (A Percy Jackson and the Olympians Guide) by Rick Riordan ( non-fiction)
Quinny & Hopper by Adriana Brad Schanen ( grade 1+ )
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (grade 5 +)


YA Novels for Teens and Adults


The Heir (The selection Book 4) Kiera Cass
The Eye of Minds (Mortality Doctrine, Book One) James Dashner
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Legend (A Legend Novel, Book 1) Marie Lu
Winter (The Lunar Chronicles) Marissa Meyer
Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest

Books For Adults To Read This Summer

summer reading list
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown
The Girl on the Train: A Novel by Paula Hawkins
Go Set a Watchman: A Novel Harper Lee
After You: A Novel by JoJo Moyes
The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way by Amanda Ripley

Outdoor Sight Word Hunt with LEGO DUPLO

sight word game for kindergartenSome children are eager to show you what they know as soon as they learn it and some either lack the confidence or simply dislike any spotlight or obvious praise. As parents and teachers, it can be a challenge to assess what these children know and what to teach them next. This is what I love about play even when you are working on specific targets like sight words or math facts. Turning it into a game takes the pressure off and you can use this sight word hunt and match for assessment, practice or just for fun like we did.

Gather your materials. You will need some LEGO DUPLO, a DUPLO base piece, a permanent marker, and a yard with lots of places to hide the words.sight word activity gross motor

Write out pairs of words. There are all different places to find sight word or high-frequency word lists by grade level. Find lists here and here. When I choose the words I use for my daughter’s activities I use many I know she will recognize immediately and a few she might need help with. This activity is great because of the matching element, even words that aren’t immediately recognizable can be matched up. Do not worry about using Sharpie on your DUPLO it won’t wreck it. Watch this video and see how to do it. duplo sight word game for kids

Stick one copy of the word pairs on the DUPLO base piece.sight word actovoty for kids

Hide the others. I kept the words in one small area because the point wasn’t to have her run everywhere but to do a little gross motor as part of a literacy activity. summer reading game for kids

Read through the base pieces together. There were only a few she didn’t immediately recognize but later when she found their match she did. Awesome! sight word scavenger hunt for kids outside literacy activity

She found the first few right away and matched them up.

sight word actvity for preK

The last few were tricky, but she eventually used her super finder skills and grabbed them. Awesome reading game with sight words outside!

Making learning fun is important not just because it helps make a deeper connection but because we expect a lot of our children and increasingly young ages. Some parents like will simply opt out, but I choose to help my children meet the expectations they can through playful learning. sight word actvity


Summer Reading Prompts For This Week

summer reading calendar for kids Summer reading is so important. I am a huge fan of giving my kids time to chill out in the summer, but one thing we do not get lazy about is reading. One way to keep summer reading fresh is to use prompts. I decided to write out these prompts in a calendar. You can download our full June, July, and August calendars HERE !

Our calendars are geared towards children who are still reading picture books ( psst! I think all kids should). If your child is only reading chapter books, I suggest choosing 1-2 of the prompts from each week and spend a few days reading these longer books.

Today I just want to share the prompts for this week. Today’s prompt is reading a book with pirates  and it can be interpreted however you want, with a friend who is a pirate or a book with pirates in it. You choose! I want to know what you have been reading. Have you stumbled upon any absolutely fantastic books recently?

Tell me about it here in comments or on The No Time For Flash Cards Facebook Page.

27 Ocean Activities For Preschool

27 Ocean Activities For KidsWe live on an island and going to the beach is a pretty common outing for my kids, but learning all about the ocean is still exciting. The creatures, the sand, finding beach glass… it’s a new discovery every time we go. When we can’t go to the beach we can still explore it with fun at home activities. I have gathered our favorite ocean activities for kids in one spot for you to find some fun too!

fish craft for preschoolPaper Roll Fish Craft 

Shell Sorting

Shell Sorting 


Ocean Shapes Mural

paper plate and pom pom octopus craft for kids

Paper Plate Octopus Craft

sea shells alphabet activity

Shell Play Dough Letters

star fish craft

Bubble Wrap Star Fish



Ocean Sensory Play  

ocean themed crafts

Paper Bag Jellyfish


Bubble Wrap School Of Fish


Seahorse S 

classic letter fishing game

Alphabet Fishing Game 

ocean sensory tub

Ocean Watertable Play 

math games for kids shell game for 3 year olds

Shell Memory Math Game

jelly fish craft

Cupcake Liner Jellyfish



Beach Sensory Tub 

letter crafts

Octopus O

beach activities

Shell Picture Frame 

kids crafts

Paper Plate Crab 

mod podge melts counting beach glass sensory bin

Beach Glass Sensory Play ( safe for little hands)

Shaving Cream Puffy Paint Fish

Puffy Paint Fish 

painting beach sea glass

Painting Sea Glass 

Walnut Shell Turtle

Walnut Turtles 

Paper Plate Jelly Fish

Paper Plate Jellyfish

Finger Print Fish Craft

Fingerprint Fish 


Toothpick Sea Urchin 

Fish Craft for Kids

Fish Suncatcher 

snadpaper craft for kids

Magnetic Sandcastle