Back To School – Making Memories, Traditions and Trinkets

Remember the book All I Really Ever Needed To Know I Learned In Kindergarten?  I think I should write a modern version, All I Really Ever Needed To Know I Found On Pinterest!

Seriously though, skimming through Pinterest I have found some really great ideas.  For example these great links to various back to school ideas…

I love the idea of lunch box notes.  I once met a mother who happened to also be a great artist.  Every morning she would sketch a design, scene, note or whatever on a square yellow post it note and stick it in her children’s lunch.  I know this because when I opened the pantry door each note was taped to the back side.  Her son saved each note.

The great part is you do not have to be an artist at all – or have little squares of paper.  I like to write notes on napkins.  To show your love it doesn’t have to be fancy.  Or, you could use this template and keep a stash of different notes in your drawer to toss in as you make lunch.

Back to School - Free Printable Lunch Notes by PaperCrave

These Pocket Hearts are another super sweet idea.  I know my girls would love to keep one of these in their pockets at school.  Or you could slip this in your little one’s lunchbox or backpack to find during the day.  Granted one might need to be slightly crafty to make these, you might choose something similar but of another material.  A Shrinky Dink (like) charm shaped heart that read “Love Mom” could be another option.


How about a Back To School Interview?  These are some great questions I have found.  This is always a good time to go back to later in life.  It is going to be great fun to share my daughter’s plans one day.  At age 5 her plan was to live on a ranch, be a veterinarian, ride her horse to work and have five children who will stay home with their daddy.  I just love it!

back to school yearly interview tradition with questions

1st Day of School Traditions can be great memories and even help ease the transition into a new class.  Children thrive on knowing what to expect and consistency.  While there will be much change and a lot to learn on the first day back to school, having a few traditions to rely on might help relieve some of the anxiety associated with change.

3 fun first day of school traditions

And when they come home from school be sure to talk about their first day.  While a day in kindergarten may seem like a vacation to you, your 6 year old has just made a huge accomplishment.  Ask questions to acknowledge your interest in their success.  This will be a big confidence booster for the many days to come.  Check out these Questions To Ask After the First Day of School.  And if you have one of those children not really interested in conversation use the car ride home to your advantage, they will be in their seatbelts – a captive audience!

Talk About School with Your Kids: Questions to Ask

Ten Days of Art, Part 10 – Ready for School

This project would be a great one for storing milk money!

Carton Wallet


What you’ll need

  • Half gallon milk or juice carton with plastic cap, rinsed
  • Scissors
  • Paper towels
  • Tape
  • Wallet Template
  • Ballpoint pen
  • Ruler
  • Craft knife (optional)
  • Butter knife

How to make it

  1. Carton Wallet - Step 1Cut open the carton so it lies flat, as shown; put aside the cap for now. Dry the inside with the paper towels. Tape the template on top of the carton so that the top circle lines up with the spout. Mark the outline of the template with a ballpoint pen. Using firm pressure, trace the lower circle and the dotted lines of the template so that they transfer to the carton. (This will score the lines for easier folding.) A ruler will help you mark the straight lines. Cut out the shape from the carton.
  2. Carton Wallet - Step 2Use scissors to cut out the lower circle as marked. (Tip: To make cutting out the circle easier, first make an X with a craft knife.) Use a ruler and a butter knife to further score the fold lines.
  3. Carton Wallet - Step 3Following the fold lines you marked, create an accordion fold on each side of the wallet.
  4. Carton Wallet - Step 4

Tightly squeeze the accordion folds. Fold the top flap down, pushing the spout through the hole. Screw on the cap to keep the flap in place.

Many thanks to Spoonful for the great tutorial.


Ten Days of Art, Part 9 – Back Pack Charms

Do you remember Shrinky Dinks?  I used to love them.

Since school is about to begin and we are slowly getting in the mood, we plan to make Shrinky Dink (like) back pack trinkets.  And maybe we will even make a few extra to share with our friends on the first day!

This is my plan:

To get started you will need:

  • #6 plastic container (like the to-go boxes on the salad bar)
  • Colored Sharpie markers
  • Hole punch
  • Parchment paper
  • Baking sheet


This is a #6 plastic container.  Cut the flat sections to make a sheet of plastic to work with.

Decorate your plastic as you like with the Sharpie markers.  Be sure to remember to punch a hole before you shrink it.

Bake at 350 degrees on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Watch carefully.  The plastic will begin to melt and curl and then lay flat.  When flat remove it from the oven and allow it to cool before handling.

If you need more specifics check out the great tutorial and photos at Rust & Sunshine.

Isn’t this great?  What will you make?

Ten Days of Art, Part 3 – Successful People Journal

Do you keep a journal?  There are so many options – art journals, written journals, smash books, junk journals.

Well if you don’t, you should.  This is a list of 100 reasons why.

As school ended and Summer rapidly approached I contemplated what activities we would work on to ensure all of our hard work the past year would not be lost amidst the lazy days of Summer.  Of course options included worksheets and flashcards, but really, who wants to do that everyday.

I decided what was really most important was to continue reading, writing, discovering and then a little math.

So, we created journals.  My plan was to allow the kids to be creative and motivate them to write a little bit while giving them a fun way to document their Summer.  And hopefully, plant a seed for success with their very first journals.

This is what we did:

Because this was a first attempt at journaling for the kids I wanted to make sure the project was as inexpensive as possible.  I bought a Chipboard Album Kit from Michaels for about $5.  The kit came with several chipboard pages and binder rings.  I only used two pieces of chipboard for each journal, one each for the front and back cover.  For the inside pages I cut an assortment of extra scrapbook pages, cardstock and white paper to fit and used the pre-punched chipboard cover as a guide to punch holes in the paper.


The girls decided they wanted to use tissue paper to begin decorating the front of their journals.  They cut small pieces of tissue paper then lightly glued the pieces to the front cover.  Using a paint brush and diluted glue (about 1 Tablespoon white glue and 2 Tablespoons water, so that it looks like milk) they brushed the tissue paper with the glue mixture.  This seals the tissue paper edges and causes the tissue paper to bleed creating a really fun blended effect.  (Art stores sell “bleeding tissue paper.”  Not all tissue paper will bleed.)  Beads were also added for extra flair.


I like to keep the journals in a Ziploc bag along with a few supplies so that it is easy to work on whenever they are ready.  Your supplies could consist of anything you choose.  Glue sticks and tape are essentials, along with some sort of pen.  Stickers, felt tip markers, washi tape or anything else you might find would work well too.


 If you are really creative you could also create a few pockets in your journal.   I did this by cutting a slightly smaller piece of paper, folding the edges under and gluing it to the page.

It is also fun to include some prompted pages.  I wrote a few prompts on the tops of a few pages like:

  • If I were an animal I would be…
  • Books I have read this summer…
  • Today I…

Be creative.  Be Unique.  And have fun!


 If you need more ideas take a look at some of these journals that inspired me:

Art Journal ideas for kids

Art Journal Ideas

Smash Books

Journals to get you started:

Strathmore Art Journal Kit

Visual Journal

Smash Book Kit


A little something for the birds

This is a very simple project the kids and I worked on one rainy afternoon.  It is a perfect project for all ages.  My older ones were very proud to be in charge of measuring the ingredients while the younger ones really enjoyed helping mix and stir.  I am not sure what it is about the rolling pin, but everybody really enjoyed that part.


Birdseed Cookies


  • 3/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 3 T. corn syrup
  • 4 c. birdseed

From the kitchen:

  • sheet pan lined with parchment or wax paper
  • rolling pin (helpful but optional)
  • another piece of parchment or waxed paper for the top of the mixture
  • an assortment of cookie cutters (rounds, hearts and less intricate designs work best)
  • jute or twine to hang the cookies for the birds


  • Combine flour, water and corn syrup in a bowl and whisk it all together until it is well combined.
  • Add the birdseed.
  • Stir until all the seed is coated and sticky. The mixture will be loose and gooey.
  • Dump the mixture onto the lined sheet pan.  Cover with the extra sheet of parchment.
  • Using a rolling pan or your hands, firmly compress the mixture to about 1/2″ thickness.
  • Once you are satisfied with the depth and density, press the cookie cutters into the “dough” and leave them in.
  • Leave the dough to dry for several hours.  We left ours overnight.
  • When the cookies are hard and dry, gently break away the seeds from the outside of the cookie cutters and gently remove the cookies from the cookie cutters.
  • Use string, jute, twine or yarn to wrap the cookie.  Be sure to leave a long enough strand to tie from a branch.
  • Watch the birds enjoy their cookies!