We have about two more weeks left before summer break starts but I know some parts of the country are already celebrating no homework and no school lunches. Good for you! Our daughter came out of school yesterday telling me that the kids were all hyped up because everyone is so ready for summer. Have I mentioned yet how much respect I have for teachers? You’re almost there, teachers!
During these hectic “end of the school year” days, we definitely look forward to the joys of summer: more time for creativity and art, sleeping in, swimming in lakes, hiking in the woods, unstructured play time and reading awesome books. What is better than laying on a soft picnic blanket under a big tree and “traveling” to whatever part of the world or time period your book takes you?
Whether or not your kid loves to read, reading during summer break is so important regardless. Most American kids get to enjoy being out of school for 2 1/2 months every summer which is a REALLY LONG time not to be practicing their reading skills. As a comparison, I grew up in the Netherlands where kids only get about 6 weeks of summer break. Their summer break really flies by!
So what are you to do when you don’t want your kid to show up back at school this fall feeling behind and frustrated because they are struggling to catch up after summer? I certainly don’t have any professional answers but I am a mom who is passionate about kids and helping them to love reading. That’s why I decided to create a program that would turn summer reading from a chore into a game where kids feel motivated and excited about the rewards they can earn. As a busy mom myself, I wanted to make sure to create a program that is easy to fit in with everything else. Win-win, right?
Want to know more about feeling less frustrated and more relaxed this summer about the whole summer reading thing? Then head on over to my etsy shop to check out this fun reading game and book log to keep track of favorite books. You can come up with your own rewards but to make it extra easy, I have included nine rewards that will make your kid happy and look cool with hand drawn illustrations. This summer reading kit even includes a word search game as a bonus. This is an instant download printable so your child can start playing it and reading right away. Also, you can print however many copies you need during the summer and give each child their own game board to visually keep track of their progress.
Instead of arguing and nagging your child to read this summer break, here are a few more tips to engage with your child in regards to their reading in a positive way:
I would love to hear any other tips you may have found to be helpful in enjoying summer reading with your child. Please share in the comments so we can all learn from each other!
P.S. I really hope you will enjoy the game I created and that it helps you to have a fun summer with your family. For less than a Starbucks latte, you can be their summer reading champion so that your kids won’t fall behind on reading this summer. Your kids’ teachers will thank you!
Super quick post here tonight to let you all know that I created an instant download printable for teacher appreciation week and teacher gifts for the end of the school year. It is available in my etsy shop.
The print has a sweet poem surrounded by a border of red roses to express you are thankful for the education and care teachers give the kids! Easy to print at home or at a local print shop for a meaningful gift. The simple, modern design is suitable and attractive for graduation from kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, high school or college. Busy mom? This is an instant download so perfect for last minute teacher appreciation week and end of school year gifts. Best part is you can print as many as you need so you can include the specials teachers, school counselor, music teacher, art teacher, ESL teacher, and assistant teachers as well!
If you have any stories about a special teacher, please share! Big time thanks to all you teachers!!
... you can make a difference for a sweet 7 year old girl in my family. You see, just a few months ago, Maddison’s days were filled with gymnastics, attending 2nd grade and playing with her sister and dogs. Then, on November 18th, Maddison was diagnosed with Stage 4 Glioblastoma Multiforme Cancer. Glioblastoma is a very rare and difficult to treat cancer. While battling cancer is so extremely challenging already, the family has had to battle with the health insurance company to get coverage for the chemotherapy drugs Maddison’s oncologist has recommended.
Hearing her story really touched my heart. I wanted to help but live too far away to help in a direct way. Because I express my feelings through art, I created a drawing inspired by Maddison and her love for animals and the zoo.
I’m offering this drawing to you as a free printable that you can use as a coloring page for your kids or a decorative print to hang on the wall of your child’s bedroom or baby’s nursery. You can download the pdf file simply by clicking on the image below and print from your home computer or at local print shop.
However, if you choose to download the printable, I ask that you please consider making a donation to Maddison’s gofundme campaign. Maddison is so strong and brave but she could really use a miracle right now. The gofundme campaign will help pay for the overwhelming medical expenses. Any donation will be appreciated! Your donation will bring hope and make a difference.
Thank you so much!
I just added an instant download printable for Valentine's Day cards in my etsy shop. This printable is for an 8 1/2" x 11" page of 9 cute Valentine's Day cards with my polar bears with heart illustration. The illustration shows two polar bears sharing a heart of love. The design works for both kids as well as adults (including teachers!) and is perfect for classroom Valentine parties at school!
You can print from your home computer or at the local print shop so you can print last minute! Just cut the cards along the lines and have your child fill out the "to" and "from" sections! Easy!
These Valentine's Day cards are super affordable as you can print as many as you need.
Click the button below to visit my etsy shop. Thank you for checking it out and sharing the love by liking my post, leaving me a comment or sharing on social media!
How are you doing on your holiday prep? Are you feeling well prepared to enjoy the holidays in a relaxed state of mind or are you feeling stressed rushing around to get everything done on time? December is such a busy month! Every year, I tell myself to start earlier but then the holidays come so quickly again... If you're like me, you will find yourself wrapping gifts late at night right before Christmas!
At moments like that, the last thing you need is finding that you are out of gift tags! After all the effort you put into finding meaningful gifts, you wouldn't want to write who the gift is for with a barely working pen found underneath a pile of your kids' toys and written straight onto the wrapping paper...
If you don't have the energy at that point to run to the store for more printed gift tags, I have another solution! I recently added a gift tag printable with my Polar Bears with Heart design to my etsy shop. These gift tags are super affordable as there is no limit to how many you can print. Plus, like I said, the best part is that you don't have to head out to the store again! The polar bear design works great for any holiday or celebration in winter, whether you celebrate a birthday, Christmas or Hanukkah.
To find this cute gift tag printable, head over to my etsy shop by clicking the yellow button. If you like my illustrations, I really appreciate it if you share with friends! Thank you so much!
Best Wishes for a Joyful and Peaceful Holiday Season!
Just a quick post tonight as it has been a very full week and I need some sleep! I'm super excited to share with you though that I added a second product to my etsy shop today! It is a memory matching game in my native language Dutch.
If you are an English speaker wanting to learn some Dutch because of your heritage, an upcoming trip to Holland, because you are an expat living in the Netherlands or whatever the reason may be, I hope you will enjoy this game to practice your Dutch!
If you are a Dutch speaker who would like to practice English or teach your children English or you are planning travel to an English speaking country such as England or the United States, I hope this memory matching game will be fun for you too!
Because this product is a digital printable, it is easy to bring along on a trip. Whenever we travel back to Holland (a long flight from the west coast of the U.S. for sure), I always bring a memory game for the kids to play. It is easy to play while we wait for the plane in the airport and lightweight to carry along in our luggage.
I would love to hear your feedback about my memory matching games and if you have a connection with Holland! Are you learning Dutch? Thank you for leaving me your thoughts in a comment!
You can visit my etsy shop by clicking the yellow link below. Thank you!
If you want to receive special coupon codes and stay in touch, please join my email list! You get a free printable gift too!
I opened an etsy shop!! It only has one product in it so far but hey, it's a start, right? I have been thinking about this project for a long time and have been working on it tiny little baby step by little baby step at a time. And now the shop is open and it has one product in it!
What is the product? It is a bilingual memory matching game in Spanish and English designed with my cute illustrations and delivered as an instant download printable. My vision is to create more printables that will help make learning fun for kids and help fellow moms and dads (as well as teachers, homeschooling families and grandparents) expose their kids to a second language. Playing games is an excellent way to connect with a child too!
I came up with the concept for this game as my children have been attending Spanish immersion school and it is difficult to find fun, engaging games to build their vocabulary and practice their Spanish language skills. I have played this game with my very own kids so I know it’s a winner!
Born and raised in Holland, I learned the importance of studying foreign languages because few people outside of my birth country speak Dutch! In high school, I studied 6 different languages and in the process learned that language is an important bridge between groups of people.
Language is an important bridge between groups of people."
I have been living in the United States for a long time now. Here, I see a desire among many parents that their child learns a second language but honestly, it is a lot more difficult when everyone around you speaks English and depending on where in the States you live, you can travel for days in a car without hearing another language. Picture books and bilingual educational games are wonderful resources to introduce a foreign language to your child.
I'm a big believer that learning should be fun so I illustrated the English and Spanish words with cute, whimsical illustrations that celebrate the simple joys in life. All illustrations were first hand drawn and then digitally uploaded by me. Creating this memory matching game has been a labor of love and I hope that shines through!
You can check out my new etsy shop here:
What is your greatest challenge in teaching your child a foreign language? Which language would you like your child to learn?
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
P.S. I recently designed gift tags that you can use to add a cute little something to presents for your friends, family and kids. They feature my new daisy flower and popular smiling snowman illustrations so they are perfect all year around - for both gifts in the summer as well as winter. I strive to help you find meaningful gifts for your loved ones so I hope you like this gift tag printable!
Sign up for my email newsletter below and you will receive them as a FREE printable. No more boring gifts!
What’s going on this week? Well, a whole lot of learning. Our son left for a week long overnight field trip last Sunday. He just started attending a new school and even though he has been making friends, he has only known them for a few weeks. This is the longest he has been away from home and I miss him!
I’m sure he is having a wonderful time and I’m thankful for my friends who reassured me that their kids who already had the opportunity to go on this trip, had a great time and came back with lots of fun stories. So, while he is learning about nature and science and being away from home making new friends, I’m learning to trust that he will be just fine and learning to let go.
This morning, I volunteered with our daughter’s classroom. Every month, their class gets to visit an elderly home to read to the residents who receive care for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The kids walk from school to the care home with books tucked under their arms. While the kids bring joyful energy and the excitement of having a visitor to these residents, the kids learn so much more than just reading skills.
They learn how to be respectful to others, about the challenges of having a disease like Alzheimer’s and that they can provide joy just by showing up and reading. They also learn that even though a resident may fall asleep during the middle of their story or act like they don’t care about being read to, it doesn’t have anything to do with how well they read their story or the level of their reading skills. They still have a gift to give and can share it by reading.
This morning, one of the residents had fallen asleep while a boy was reading to her. He didn’t get deterred by this at all and just continued reading his book. I walked over and told him that his reading must have relaxed her so much that it helped her to fall asleep. He gave me the biggest smile and continued on. A gift to her and a gift to him.
Watching these kids connect with the elderly at this care home, reminded me of one of my favorite quotes by Mother Teresa: “We can do no great things; only small things with great love.” Life can be such a struggle but sometimes the smallest acts of kindness and love can make the biggest difference.
P.S. In the spirit of giving, I recently designed gift tags that you can use to add a cute little something to presents for your friends, family and kids. They feature my new daisy flower and popular smiling snowman illustrations so they are perfect all year around - for both gifts in the summer as well as winter. I strive to help you find or make meaningful gifts for your loved ones so I hope you like this gift tag printable!
Sign up for my email newsletter below and you will receive them as a free printable. No more boring gifts!
Last night was very special. After working on this large mosaic for a small eternity, my sweet hubby helped me on the final stage: hanging it up! I can't tell you how gratifying it was to see my artwork hanging up on our front porch... complete! After months of painting the frame, cutting glass (and perhaps my fingers at times...ouch!), arranging each individual piece, attempting to glue the pieces without getting glue in my hair and even getting my dad involved in the muddy process of grouting during their visit... it is complete! A visual sign that baby steps will eventually get us there!
I took this photo as the sun was almost going down and there was barely any sunlight to shine through the colored stained glass but it didn't matter! Because it's about celebrating the moment! And we live in Oregon. We don't really have any light for a good part of the year so there. :0)
While there are plenty of flaws in the artwork for the critical eye, this is my hope: that people who see my mosaic will simply be reminded of the beauty of nature and be inspired to cherish the simple joys in life. May all who walk past our home, be lifted up like a hummingbird in flight. I know that all sounds a bit sentimental (which I try to avoid most days because you know, I'm Dutch) but that's my hope.
It's September and kids are back in school again! We had a great summer making lots of memories with family and friends, playing in the woods, swimming in lakes and even built a giant catapult to launch our melon rinds (I'm sure amazon is a bit confused finding surgical tubing in our order history but hey... it makes a great catapult!)
Now that our bodies and souls are sun soaked and well rested, it is wonderful to be back to school because even though the school year makes us hustle more between lots of activities, it also brings more order and routine to our days. And yes, that's a good thing. :0)
Because I'm a strong believer that you can make ordinary days special and find happiness in the little things, I wanted to share these five fun finds to make you and your kids smile this back to school season.
A Practical Love Note to your Kids
Cute Thank You Notes for Kids
Gentle Reminders for Busy Kids
Personalized and Ready to Haul
Encourage your Kids to Read
How has back to school been for your family? Any tips to make the transition from summer break to school easier? Would love to hear from you in the comments below! Also, please share this post if you like these back to school fun finds! Thank you!
Illustrations and nature inspired, handmade art gifts that remind us of the simple joys.