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!!
There is a little girl I want you to meet. Her name is Cecilia. She is about 6” tall, has a sweet smile and two sassy braids. The coolest thing about her? She is bilingual! I have been working on Cecilia for months and I’m so excited to finally introduce her to you!
Cecilia is a paper dress up doll that comes with a bunch of cute outfits for both winter and summer, all labeled in Spanish and English. I drew all the illustrations by hand before uploading them into a digital, instant download printable. Playing with Cecilia, your child can practice English and Spanish conversation skills talking about the clothing, the seasons or any other fun topic that comes up! Children can color the simple black and white illustrations with pencils, markers or any favorite art supply. Then, they can cut out the shapes and “dress up” the doll in a cute outfit.
Besides using this bilingual printable as a dress up doll activity and coloring page, your child can also cut out the labels for the clothing and see if they can match the label with the correct piece of clothing as a matching game. While kids of all ages may enjoy this activity, I think kids in preschool, kindergarten and elementary school would especially enjoy it.
Since the time my kids were very little, I have always been on the lookout for bilingual kids toys and books. With kids in Spanish immersion school, I wanted to support their education by providing them with fun activities in Spanish because I’m a big believer that learning should be fun and that kids can learn so much through play. The idea for Cecilia was born from my love for kids, language and bilingual education.
The idea for Cecilia was born from my love for kids, language and bilingual education. "
Cecilia, the paper dress up doll, is available as an instant download pdf file printable in my etsy shop so your child or students can play with this learning activity immediately. After purchase, you can print as many copies as you need for your personal use (or classroom use if you are a teacher). You can find more details about Cecilia by clicking here.
I know that we all get busy but would you leave me a comment to let me know what you think of Cecilia? It would make my day!
Thank you so much!
We all know that children love to explore and that exploring is important to their development. As adults, it is easy to get stuck in the routines of daily life and occupy ourselves with the same old activities, habits and chores. I personally love my routines but recognize that us grown-ups can certainly benefit from exploring too!
Exploring can open our minds to new ideas, gain a new perspective, clear our minds from stress and inspire us to seek knowledge of the world around us. Here are five easy ways to incorporate more exploration into our adult lives and helping our inner child to soar:
One of my favorite ways to explore is by going outdoors and into nature. I’m blessed to live in a beautiful place where within a hour’s drive I can be either at the coast or the mountains. The Pacific Northwest offers a variety of landscapes that make it fun to explore with the whole family. The seasons offer different activities to explore nature and many of them are free!
Our family loves to go hiking and pay attention to wildlife tracks on the trail. We study the native plants we see or try to figure out which bird is singing so pretty. In summer, we swim in mountain lakes and learn about newts. In fall, we hunt for edible mushrooms in the forest or go for “nature treasure hunts” in the city as we look for pretty acorns and chestnuts.
While the kids learn lots through these experiences, I have found myself learning as well. Exploring engages me with the natural world and encourages me to open up reference books to better understand what plant or animal track I’m looking at.
As an artist, I explore by trying out a new art supply or experimenting with a new medium. In my illustrations, I strive to communicate ideas with simple line drawings and push myself which lines are necessary to make the drawing as pleasing yet simple as possible. Last year, I received a rubber stamp making kit for Christmas. I had never tried my hand at making stamps but found that my simple designs work very well in making stamps.
Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist, it can be so fun to doodle with some pencils, build something out of wood or create a bowl out of clay. Our modern smart phones are equipped with amazing cameras so you can literally be a photographer on your lunch break and receive instant feedback through posting on instagram!
Explore New Skills
If you feel stuck in your job or tired with daily chores, maybe it’s time to learn a new skill. Who knows what opportunities open up by learning a new skill! It may help you to work more efficiently or step up in your career. You may find a new hobby, for example by learning how to play a musical instrument.
I recently started taking ice skating lessons. If you would have told me last year that I would be taking ice skating lessons, I would have told you you’re crazy. However, my daughter started taking lessons and it looked so fun, I couldn’t resist! I grew up ice skating during the winter in Holland so it feels great to be back onto the ice. I have to be very careful because of my back issues but taking a basic skills class has been an exciting way to get back into it.
Explore through travel
Being an international family, we’re lucky we have family all over the world we can visit. We love to travel! Exploring through travel truly opens your mind and helps you to learn about other cultures, foods and ways of living. It widens our horizons…. quite literally.
If travel is not in your budget or you have physical challenges to make travel a reality, you can travel from your most comfortable chair right at home by reading books! I recently read “A State of Wonder” by Ann Patchett which allowed me to “travel” to the Amazon rainforest, a place where I have never been. Do you love to travel through books? If you have any good book recommendations for me, please leave them for me in the comments.
Explore your community
Talking about books, have you visited your local library recently? The library is not only a wonderful place to find books but also connect with your community. Our local library offers free events for all ages.
How can you explore your community? By visiting a park, by visiting a neighborhood coffee shop, by introducing yourself to a new neighbor, by supporting a local small business or getting involved as a volunteer? So many ways to explore your community!
Feeling inspired, I created a new design around this concept of exploring. The design has a triangular shape with colors that are attractive to men and women, boys and girls. The “explore” design is available on a wide variety of products including cards and apparel. By clicking on the images, you will be directed to zazzle which is the print-on-demand company which produces my designs into real life products and gifts. If you are interested in seeing the entire product line, please click here and select newest products.
If you believe in the benefits of exploring and enjoyed reading my post, I always appreciate it if you share via social media. Thank you!!
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!
If you love spending time at a lake cabin or mountain cabin, raise your hand! Nothing can rejuvenate us like spending time in the outdoors, connecting with nature and swimming in a lake. Spending time at a cozy cabin allows us to reconnect with our family, reading books and playing games. It is one of our family’s favorite ways to spend time! Since I enjoyed working on the bilingual memory game printables I recently launched in my new etsy shop, I was inspired to create a memory matching game that celebrates the simple joys of staying at a cabin with your family.
I started with creating little doodles of woodland animals and illustrations of things that remind me of cozy cabins. Living in the Pacific Northwest for so many years has given me plenty of inspiration! From staying at historic fire lookouts on stilts to rustic cabins without any modern amenities to warming up in a beautiful ski lodge or log cabin, cabins are the best for creating lasting memories! Working on these drawings would remind me of our special family memories and before I knew it, I had 24 unique designs!
I kept the designs as simple line drawings in black ink because I thought kids may like to color in the drawings themselves and have another fun activity to do besides playing the game. Plus, it makes it easy for us moms to print at home even if the color ink cartridge on your printer is out of ink!
Would love it if you check out my new “Cabin in the Woods" game printable as it has been a labor of love! Here is the link to my new etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/PresentsofLoveShop
Also, I would value your feedback on any other printable products you’d like me to create with a cabin theme. Bookmarks? Games for kids? Stationery? Please leave me a comment and share your thoughts! Thank you so much!
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!
Who doesn't love the sweet romance and joyful simplicity of the daisy? When I was little, my dad enjoyed gardening and strived for a beautiful, pristine green lawn surrounded by blooming garden beds. While I loved the plants and flowers in the garden beds, we had different ideas in regards to the lawn. You see, I loved blowing dandelions and making necklaces out of daisies. So, there may have been a time (or two or three....) that he came home from work to find me sowing my favorite wildflowers onto the lawn...
Sitting on the grass on a hot summer day stringing daisies together to make a floral crown or necklace is a vivid childhood memory for me. In fact, I still enjoy making them! This new design was inspired by this childhood memory. I kept the lines of this illustration of three daisies simple and added just a bit of color with yellow and pink circles for a modern retro style. Almost all of these products and gifts are customizable. You can change the background color and personalize gifts with a name or your own text.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this new design! If you like the illustration and would like to see it on a gift or product other than the ones featured below, please leave me a comment here or contact me directly. I can most likely make it happen. I work with a print-on-demand company called zazzle for excellent customer service and shipping all around the world so please click on the images below to see more product details and pricing. I'm here to make your meaningful gift shopping easy!
String Backpack with Personalized Name for School or Sports
Keepsake Ornaments with Personalized Name
Coolest Comfy Shoes Ever....with Daisies!
Personalized Mug Gift for a Favorite Teacher
New Home? Pretty Floral Address Labels
Round Stickers with Daisies to Decorate
Adorable Thank You Notes for All Occasions
Personalized Phone Case
Looking for Cool Party Favors? Floral Temporary Tattoos!
Must Have Coffee....Mug!
Wedding Anniversary Cards with Custom Year
Gorgeous Tissue Paper To Wrap all your Gifts
Floral Fabric with Daisies for your Crafty Sewing Projects
New Baby Outfit "Bloom"
Special Cards for your Bridesmaids
Bridal Shower Invitation With Daisy Flower Theme
Attractive Floral Business Card for your Small Business
Beautiful Stationery for your Small Business or Home
Thank you for sharing my new daisy design via the social media buttons and leaving me a comment! It keeps me going!
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.
... to go make something! At least, I couldn't control the urge to make cute little wooden art stamps when I discovered that the print-on-demand company I work with, zazzle, now offers this cool new product for artsy and crafty moms like myself. I possibly went a little crazy and had a little too much fun designing these customizable stamps but I hope you will agree with me that they will help you create so many fun craft projects! Here is my guide for a few crafty creations and uses:
Moms: use this wooden stamp with smiling baby elephant to write little reminder notes to your kids. Remember... your lunch box! Remember... to do your homework! Remember... to put your dirty socks in the laundry bin!
I bet you can think of a gazillion ways to use this little stamp now, right?! Much more efficient (and cuter!) than repeating yourself over and over again and sounding like a broken record. And yes, you can easily customize the text if you want to add a child's name to it or have another creative use for this stamp!
Love to make handmade gifts?
You love to sew. And knit. You can whip up some amazing meals in the kitchen. You bake desserts so delicious even the strictest dietician can't help themselves. You fabricate art out of mere paper and with a splash of paint can transform even the most simple items into attractive home decor. If you are a maker, I'm sure your skills are a treasured gift among friends and family as handmade gifts are the best! You may have even started selling your handmade goods online or in an etsy shop. Whether you are gifting your creations to your close circle or selling them around the world, this wooden art stamp is perfect for creating cute tags and labels for your handmade goods as well as homemade food. You can also stamp your shipping label!
Good to know: These wooden art stamps are laser engraved on foam cushion. You have the option of adding a wooden handle. The ink pad is not included but you can choose from 5 color options of dye based ink pads as an add-on.
Are you ready for Back to School, teachers?!
This little stamp of a fish swimming happily wearing a snorkel mask will surely bring a smile to your students' faces! I know my kids love silly stuff! The stamp has the words "Great Job!" but you can easily customize this text with your own words. Perfect little stamp for completed homework assignments and as an incentive for positive behavior! Also perfect for swim lesson certificates and for kids on swim team!
Of course, my illustration of a quirky cat wearing glasses with a "Read" sign dangling from its tail also deserved to be turned into a stamp! How fun for teachers to stamp homework assignments and reading logs! Besides teachers, this stamp is great for reading specialists at school, librarians, teacher aides, reading volunteers or anyone else with the important job of helping kids to succeed in reading!
Writing thank you notes can feel a bit like a chore, especially when you have MANY to write such as after a wedding, birthday party or milestone anniversary party but receiving a thank you note is so nice! You can make the experience of finding a sweet thank you note among bills and junk mail in the mail box even sweeter by decorating the envelope with this beautiful stamp featuring a floral border of roses. Stylish yet modern, it will look graceful on handmade thank you notes as well. Just buy a quality piece of card stock in your favorite color and center the image of the stamp. Voila! You can customize the text if you want to change the language or change the font. Easy peasy.
Do you have a craft idea for one of these stamps? I'd love to hear it in the comments! Want me to customize a stamp for you? I'm happy to work with you directly so just send me a quick note through the contact tab at the top. Thank you SO much for your support!
Illustrations and nature inspired, handmade art that celebrates simple joys.