Posts by Rachel Schultz

QUESTIONS FOR CHILDREN ON NEW YEAR’S EVE

January 1, 2022

So, on instagram stories I was sharing some ideas for family conversations at the end of year. Then I said that although you can do them verbally, I will likely make these into a homemade worksheet because homemade worksheets are one of my favorite parts of homeschool and or motherhood. Then there was messages and inquiries related to this and about how I make homemade worksheets and if I would share ours if I ended up making one and now we are here, sharing the information in an expanded form on the blog since it is the more stationary home base and archive for referencing.

The other good thing about a worksheet is that for younger children it helps them organize their thoughts a little beforehand. Maybe this isn’t just for younger children actually, but people of all ages are helped by thinking about their answers in advance! THEN AGAIN I love something about on the fly conversations more casually too, sans worksheet.

I think a fun tradition to do every year before reflective convos is a little slideshow to look together at our photos from the year. You could just gather around a phone, sling it on to a screen if you know how to do that, OR use this cute $25 smartphone projector with a nice vintage feel from amazon that now that I think of it might have a lot of life uses.

Now I will say what I had in mind when I first said homemade worksheet is the VERY easy making your worksheet handwritten on a piece of paper with permanent marker and then simply doing copies on a home printer for your number of people. This is nice for doing something quickly and easily, making it look just how you’d like without having to try to get it to format right in word or pages or something. And you can include which ever questions you like best.

I had bit of fun putting together a quick one of the question ideas I included in stories so you can download that here if desired and print it. I hope it works; I don’t really know how to do this! Let me know if there’s a problem.

  1. something you loved reading in the bible this year
  2. favorite art project
  3. new movie or show you liked watching
  4. your song of the year
  5. way someone showed you kindness that impacted you
  6. favorite time someone visited you or you visited someone
  7. new place you liked traveling to
  8. a gift you loved
  9. favorite restaurant experience of the year
  10. a moment you felt loved
  11. something you finished even when it was hard
  12. a family memory from this year that is special to you
  13. someone you liked getting to know more this year
  14. something you are thankful for
  15. a way God showed his faithfulness to you
  16. a habit you want to leave behind in the coming year

The other conversation we got into in stories was, do you do more homemaking planning at the beginning of the calendar year or back to school? Personally, I do it about equally. I welcome both as a time to course correct or freshen things up. Do you like to plan in seasons, months, or whole year?

I’ve previously been seasons but this year I may try whole year in a by months way. Sometimes it’s easier to think about it all zoomed out instead of when you’re in the minutia.

Lastly, it’s 2022, so do we consider 22 by taylor swift a new year’s eve song this year? Also do you love fresh flowers on new year’s day?

My New Cookbook


PRE-ORDER NOW:  AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

So, on instagram stories I was sharing some ideas for family conversations at the end of year. Then I said that although you can do them verbally, I will likely make these into a homemade worksheet because homemade worksheets are one of my favorite parts of homeschool and or motherhood.

READ MORE

IDEAS FOR LONG ROAD TRIPS WITH CHILDREN

December 29, 2021

Although admittedly not the most travel ambitious person, there is a desire and love for a classic family vacation. This post is ideas for car rides to help them go smoothly and even be special. I love the memories, bonding, and different versions of restfulness vacations bring, not often captured in the same way by anything else. Flying is a treat, but sometimes the car ride can be better in its own nostalgic way.

And also not having to rent a vehicle when you get there!

Before I even start, also consider an iphone tripod to get your great family snaps. I don’t bother to bring a DSLR even on big vacations anymore because I’m so satisfied with what you can get on a phone.

ACTIVITIES LIBRARY

I like to put together a bin of activities that kids can “check out” items from – the activities library. I usually announce everyone can pick something from the library and then that is each person’s thing for a while, usually like one to two hours. (Although that time is for a really long trip, so the increments would be relative. Like, I would do maybe only 30 minutes for an eight hour journey.) It’s roughly a one in and one out system. It helps people play with things more deeply and for longer. They trade and play together so it’s a little dynamic, but it puts some structure around requests and entertainment questions.

These are some of my favorite activities library items. Some in theory good ones, like melissa and doug’s reusable sticker books, I don’t really like for this (although honestly don’t love at home either) because there’s too many tiny pieces. So I skew toward favoring not having lots of little parts.

  1. wikisticks
  2. trivia fan decks
  3. paper atlas
  4. gel pens and black paper notebook
  5. water activity pad
  6. clipboard with graph paper
  7. bubble poppers
  8. cube-bot

Side note, a super power I wish I had is reading in the car without getting sick, so straight up books are sadly kind of absent from my car life list! If you have said super power, go forth on behalf of all of us.

SNACK BIN

I also allow a choice from the snack bin at intermittent times. This and the activity library goes with my overall observation for car rides that self imposed structure and little milestones (for adults or children) help the time go well and not blow through options. For the fun of personal agency, I sometimes at a check point will let them choose between either a snack OR activity.

MY FRIEND, BOREDOM

Good old fashioned boredom, it’s good for them. We rightly cushion ourselves from some discomfort in life. (Everything else in this post is kind of all about that.) And, still we like our kids to experience the toughness. It goes back to the concept – out of difficulty comes innovation. And when the kids are bored if you let them find their way through it they end up creatively relating with each other and coming up with imaginative things to do.

One thing you may notice or deduce is that we don’t really do movies and shows during car rides. It’s just our preference for how the trip feels; we certainly watch movies together other times. Maybe it’s harder in a sense, but we have observed we feel more connected (to each other) and engaged (in the surroundings) which we like. Sometimes we prefer to not shield our kids from tedious situations with electronics.

STOPS AREN’T REALLY FOR EATING

It whittles at the trip length from both ends because the stops are shorter and eating is an activity to do to help time pass inside of the car that is progressing, in motion down the road instead of parked while we eat! If we do eat at a stop it’s likely somewhere special that we want to stop slowly, for enjoyment – not utilitarian eating. I mostly do different types of sandwiches, pre-made at home maybe to save money but also for higher quality than road food. If I feel strong, I’ll consider doing a pasta salad but that includes dealing with bowls and forks.

EXERCISE AT STOPS

While the gas is filling, since we are not eating, what we are doing is bathrooms and dad runs some exercise drills that are fun, feel good for everyone, and help with behavior. Do you know about these family exercise idea cards that use just body weight?

DRY ERASE BOARD

I bring a little white board and write messages or draw pictures and hold them up from time to time for the kids. They are so excited to notice when a new one is up. And it just adds playfulness to the spirit of the car. This is partly born out of that I so dislike shouting to the back of the van to struggle communicate. Examples of messages on the board are things like: “10 minutes until pb and strawberry jelly lunch” or just pep things, like the order of the next states we are passing through or a little drawing of the city we are in.

SWIM AT THE HOTEL

If the trip is long enough that it is multi-day and we stop at a standard hotel before getting to our main destination, we definitely try to swim in the pool for a while. It feels like a quintessential vacation thing to swim in hotel pools and it burns off some energy so well.

CONDENSED BAGS FOR SHORT OVERNIGHT STOPS

As above, if there are multiple short overnight stops on the way to continuing on, we like having a more quick essentials bag packed that we can easily grab and take in for everyone instead of unpacking the full lineup of bags from the car.

ANIMAL TOY TRADING

These little japanese rubber animal figurines are one of mom’s other intermittent tricks to pass out to people. Sometimes I hand a few out at a new state line, or just when we need another infusion of something. Children like collecting, playing with, and trading them.

GLOW STICKS ONCE IT’S DARK

In the time when it’s dark before we move into “car bedtime” I pass out a glow stick to everyone. Sometimes we put on a playlist and have a dance party with them, but even when we don’t do that, glow sticks have that way of captivating a child just on their own.

SNACKS THAT DON’T COMPOUND THE ISSUE

I am not a health nut in normal life, but I have come to be pretty faithful to healthy snacks for long car rides. After being in the car for so long, you feel gross in general. So though still a lifelong sweets lover, I only eat light stuff on a long road trip and it is much better for already feeling so extreme-sedentary. It improves mood by a lot and I think it makes a difference in kid behavior too. Some of our favorites are: cucumbers, carrots, grapes, apples, rice cakes, dried fruit, clif bars, popcorners, and goldfish.

A WORD ON BATHROOMS

Some people seem to really like for young children bringing a potty-training potty for inside the van (this is our not ugly one we use at home because I’m allergic to garish kid things) and putting in a liner (plastic grocery bag or a diaper as the liner) so people can go in the car. I find just limiting drinks makes bathroom breaks pretty much fine and about equal with needing to fill the car with gas. So, I skip this. But JUST INFORMING OF AN OPTION!

VISUALIZATION OF PROGRESS

Kind of like how many planes have an electronic version of this for international flights now, stretch a piece of painters’ tape across the roof of the van and write cities or states you’re traveling through. Move a taped object (or picture of your car) along the line as you progress.

FOOT RESTS

Everyone sleeps more easily when they’re comfortable. I think children fall asleep better in the car when their feet aren’t dangling. This usually works out easily because the van is packed and suitcases et cetera are the foot rests. I still can’t sleep in the car, BUT this has become my favorite thing to be much more comfortable. I have a plastic tub I put at my feet that is level with the passenger seat which makes you feel cozy. And inside the tub is where I store all my mom supplies mentioned throughout this post and other things I like to have available (ex: wipes, trash bags, paper towel, tissues).

COOKIES IN THE SHAPE OF EACH STATE

A little indulgent (and is counter acting the mostly health snacking point above) but with these cookie cutters you can make a cookie for everyone in the shape of each state, to be passed out at each state line. Wait I’m realizing to be less sugar you could do cheese slices which I actually like way better in several ways.

CELEBRATE STATE LINES

And as a continuation of the previous, celebrate each state line! Honk and cheer and it adds to the festive-ness of the whole big, magnificent, memorable endeavor.

My New Cookbook


PRE-ORDER NOW:  AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

Although admittedly not the most travel ambitious person, there is a desire and love for a classic family vacation. This post is ideas for car rides to help them go smoothly and even be special. I love the memories, bonding, and different versions of restfulness vacations bring, not often captured in the same way by anything else.

READ MORE

PRETTY, SUBTLE COLOR HOMEMADE PLAY DOUGH

April 19, 2021

Why do I like making my own play dough? I like to make mine to smell good and to be pretty colors. Also I like to buy cute clear jars to put them in. (I have done big and small, I kind of like big better – easier to get the dough out and multiple colors can be stored together.) Also with homemade I can just make bigger batches for lots of kids rather than buying the little storebought yellow cups. I will say however that I like to sometimes alternate with store bought and homemade because they have kind of different experiences and each their own pros and cons. And I think children enjoy the variety too.

The way I make my homemade play dough that is a little special is I use 1) jello powder for the colors and 2) coconut oil. Both make a really pretty scent and the coconut oil helps make a great texture too.

If you don’t use coconut oil it’s a bit of a missed opportunity to kind of feel like you’re AT A SPA during play dough BUT vegetable oil is a fine substitute too.  Lastly here are some play dough tools on amazon that are cute and fun – mini patterned wood rolling pins and wood stamp set.

PRETTY, SUBTLE COLOR HOMEMADE PLAY DOUGH
Makes a batch for one color

3 cups flour
1/2 cup salt
1/3 cup coconut oil (vegetable oil works too)
3 tablespoons cream of tartar
1/4-1/2 cup jello powder in different colors (depending how saturated you like your colors)
1 cup boiling water
Storage container (bigs or smalls)
Optional: play dough toys like mini patterned wood rolling pins and wood stamp set

Combine all ingredients except boiling water together in a mixer. Mix in boiling water.

You can mix jello powders to make new ones. For example, if you can’t find purple you can do some red and some blue and it makes a pretty lavender!

PRETTY, SUBTLE COLOR HOMEMADE PLAYDOUGH
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 3 cups flour
  • ½ cup salt
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil (vegetable oil works too)
  • 3 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • ¼-1/2 cup jello powder in different colors (depending how saturated you like your colors)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Storage container (bigs or smalls)
  • Optional: play dough toys like mini patterned wood rolling pins and wood stamp set
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients except boiling water together in a mixer. Mix in boiling water.
  2. You can mix jello powders to make new ones. For example, if you can't find purple you can do some red and some blue and it makes a pretty lavender!

 

My New Cookbook


PRE-ORDER NOW:  AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

Why do I like making my own play dough? I like to make mine to smell good and to be pretty colors. Also I like to buy cute clear jars to put them in. (I have done big and small, I kind of like big better –

READ MORE

Copyright © Rachel Schultz 2022

PRIVACY POLICY