The Dollar Tree

I know that I’m not able to resist a trip there and surely, if you’re someone who’s able to shop at high-end establishments, you share no such desire or interest with me.

Oh but how I personally love perusing the aisles for coloring, crafting, toiletries, office supplies and/or home goods!  I think the toys as well, are pretty neat for the price and they really run the gamut.  Keeping a small stash always comes in handy for little visitors or for extras inside of goodie bags.

There’s also a ton of early learning items to be found there.  For example, even with today’s technology, my child was still very excited when I showed him the item below.  He was able to conveniently practice letters during car trips and I myself enjoy this childhood relic on occasion.

My plan is to present my child with a twenty-dollar bill along with instructions to choose twenty items from anywhere in the store that he would like me to purchase.  Of course, the exact total will be a bit more than that after tax, but you get the idea.

If you have more than one kid with you, then divvy up the total as you see fit.

You can do this with a five or ten-dollar bill (we happen to have a $20 that his grandmother gave him to spend as he so wishes.)  If you have money to burn, then by all means, count up even higher.  I think I would personally go bonkers if I had $50 to spend in the Dollar Tree but that’s simply not in the budget.

Or go in the other direction.  If they only have one dollar to spend then maybe they’ll focus on picking a single item that is really special!

Another idea is to have them choose one item per each person they know for surprise gift giving instead.  They can put down on paper the names of each person beforehand as a way to incorporate writing practice to the project.  The options are endless.

For instance, they can also sort by category and collect things like faux flowers, cups, pencils or a notepad.  Speaking of, I simply can’t get enough of writing instruments, folders and clipboards (color coordinated at that!)

 

Sidebar.  I hope when I return they still have a jumbo eraser I spotted but forgot to throw in my cart that had a message on it about making big mistakes.  I want to display it for symbolism.  If only we could invent something that truly wipes out the real errors we’ve made in life (since Mr. Clean’s little white sponge is not really magical.)

Anyway, we hope you enjoy this outing/activity suggestion over the summer months (assuming you won’t be on holiday in the South of France) at the time.

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Chalkboard for Childhood

You’d be hard pressed to find a good old-fashioned chalkboard nowadays and even if you did, depending on the size, it will cost you.

So, what’s the next best thing?  If you don’t already know, it’s chalkboard paint.

Perhaps your response is a firm, “No thank you.”  Or, maybe you’re simply asking yourself why on earth would you want to paint any wall like that.

Well, not everyone wants to that is for sure but if you have small children you just might be interested or so inspired.  Kids are notorious for scribbling on all types of surfaces so here’s one place they can dedicate such efforts.

The Inspired Treehouse shares the learning benefits as to Why Kids Should Work on a Vertical Surface that might sway parents as well.

To my surprise, most elementary schools have done away with them (opting for white dry erase boards) so children today may never use one in class like we had the chance to while growing up.  Can we agree that even though it’s still vertical, it’s just not the same?  I fondly recall volunteering to clean the erasers and the boards often for my teachers.

Even small children who cannot yet work with chalk in their small hands can use their fingers or paint brushes dipped in water for writing or coloring practice on them.

When I took a trip to Home Depot, that’s when I first realized that there are many other color options available so it doesn’t necessarily have to be a blackboard, either.  Although, that’s exactly what I wanted.  I also noticed that the cans are small, so you might need more than one (I did.)

Lastly, if you don’t want to commit to this by sacrificing a wall in your home, you can paint a large piece of plywood instead.  The Artful Parent will show you How to Make Your Own Chalkboard and you really don’t need a backyard to put it to good use so, don’t let that stop you.

Even as an adult, I simply get a kick out of grabbing a piece of chalk to jot down my own life reminders, to do lists, meal plans and any sort of random family lesson planning.  Not to mention the games we play such as Hangman, Tic-tac-toe , drawing things or just keeping score. When we celebrated my son’s last birthday party, the board was used as a guest book for his friends to sign upon arrival.

The possibilities are endless.

And hey, I’ll be the first to admit that I personally had to have one, kids or no kids (much like the old-fashioned pencil sharpener nailed to my desk.)

Busy with business cards

While going through a file box I came across a stack of something that needed another purpose.

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And so, my old business cards have been colored, counted and cut.  We’ve used them to play memory games and arranged them to form different shapes.  They’ve been converted into small flash cards, a mini pennant garland and tools for setting the table.

Future activity ideas will include writing practice (one card per each letter that can be shuffled later for the child to spell their own name) as well as to count how many.  I also thought to save all the colorful dots left over from all the hole-punching for easy table confetti to decorate our next birthday party.

As they’re made out of sturdy card stock, the possibilities are endless.

Pluma

It wasn’t Mother’s Day, my birthday or even Christmas and yet, someone sent me a beautiful surprise.  Good friends don’t need a reason or an excuse to do something nice for you, do they?

Some weeks ago I had casually shared how much I always wanted an old-fashioned pen (after being reminded during a period piece on television.)

Then, on a random afternoon,  a feather pen, heart-shaped stand and ink made its way here.  It was totally unexpected and really made my day.  To my utter delight, a package of special paper was also part of their thoughtful gift.

19025003_800637813437719_7515497085339831705_oIt puts a smile on my face every time I see it displayed on my writing desk.  I also cannot wait to begin practicing the fading art of penmanship.

I plan on sending letters, greeting cards and invitations just like our ancestors once did (my parents, actually.)  I might even use it to pen short cover letters for business correspondence.  Well, why not?

A major bonus is that the young ones around me (who are just learning how to write period) will witness an adult trying hard to get better at something similar.  In this case, calligraphy.  The inadvertent lesson that it’s never too late to pick up a new hobby.

For some, receiving a hand written note in the mail might in turn make their day as well, so it just may be the type of gift that will keep on giving.  I know that I appreciate a personal touch. Speaking of, if you happen to know someone who’s equally enthusiastic about writing instruments and/or stationary, this is a superb gift idea for sure.  I’m beyond thrilled to have received it myself, can you tell?

Now on a more personal note:  I know that other Spanish translations for the word pen include “bolígrafo” as well as “lapicero.”  But, that’s not part of the lyrics my mother used to sing to me:

Pollito, chicken,
Gallina, hen,
Lápiz, pencil
And pluma, pen