Friday, 31 January 2014

Caravan Camping Tips & Ideas

Today I'm sharing with you some great ideas for caravan camping from my fabulously organised sister Bec. Well okay I admit I don't call this camping but in fact glamping!! Hehe .. sorry sis xx

Now my very blessed sister has five kids and is now onto her third different type of caravan. They started with a Jayco Swan, upgraded to a Jayco Expanda and now have a Jayco Starcraft. They are also now down to just four kids (the eldest has moved out of home) but this many kids has always required lots of organisation and great storage ideas.

The first great idea/tip is setting up a breakfast/lunch/snack station outside of the caravan. Could you imagine that many people trying to negotiate making breakfast in a small caravan kitchen? On the fold out table lives the kettle, toaster and toasted sandwich maker. In the drawers ther is cutlery, cutting boards, spreads, coffee, tea, sugar, plates, bowls, cups, cereals, breads, snacks and so much more!! Milk, juice and butter is easily accessible in the engel. With this set-up the kids can get up and get their own breakfast easily.

Check out the bin on the caravan door. It's a croc brand one from BigW fitted onto the door that fits shopping bags. On the side of it is an Ikea plastic bag dispenser. A very clever use of space I think.

Now what do you do with 101 towels and bathers that come with lots of kids? Use an an large laundry airer but stop it from blowing over in the wind by holding the base down with U shaped pegs stuck in the grass. If you've got no grass or less kids try using a removable hanging rack on your awning arm.

Those hooks are also great for hats too!

Now inside the caravan can be a little space limiting so you have to be smart about storage. The Variera Ikea tubs here are great and often fit on the tops of the cupboards for easy access. 
One very smart thing my sister did was turn the wardrobe in the caravan into a pantry by adding shelves. Let's face it when your camping do you really need to hang all your clothes?

One idea I remember she used when her kids were little (i.e. shorter) was to store their clothes in an organiser like this one from Big W at the the end of the beds.
 Plastic drawers that you often find at the discount stores can come in very handy.
When the older kids sleep in their own tents they are very useful beside tables that hold all their crap essential belongings.

They are also very handy for storing toys for the younger kids.

These flexi tubs come in handy too. They can be used for lots of things just outside the caravan from bins to thong/shoes buckets. Or maybe even play equipment like balls, bats, Frisbees etc.
The last great idea I have for you at the moment is if you are staying in a caravan park and none of you can ever remember the code for toilet: 

write it on your hands with a permanent marker.

Now these are not all of her fabulous ideas ... trust me she has loads more! 
Hopefully I can twist her arm to share some more with us in the future.

Thanks Bec xxx

School Photo Ideas

While many of you in Australia sent your kids off back to school this week most of us over here in Western Australia are still on the countdown. In this house we are down to four sleeps til my eldest child starts kindy. She loves school and is so excited she has started drawing pictures for her teacher already.

Now I'm just about all ready for her first day. There are a few little things left that I need to do. I'm also busy preparing my daughter's project life school album which I shared on the blog's facebook page a few weeks back. 

On the first day I will of course be taking the standard first day of school photo holding a printed sign. But I also wanted to prepare a list of all the photos I want to take of other things that make up her school days. Here's a list of ideas I came up with ( not all will apply to her class this year). Now I will be working through this list as I don't want to spend all my time on her first few days just taking photos. I will spread out these ideas and I'm sure add more through out the year. I may even take two or three shots of certain things to record how they change.

Of course these will also not be the only photos I take at school as there will be many events throughout the year that I will be photographing and many general shots of her in the classroom during the mornings or when I'm on parent help.

I'm also working on a list of ideas of other things I want to include in my children's school albums such as sample of how they write their names, what letters they can write, their favourite school activities, their friends etc.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

My Top Tips for Starting School for the First Time

So this year I will be sending my eldest child off to kindergarten for the first time. Now I'm not that concerned as we have already been sending her off to school for pre-kindy for over a year now.  We know the drill quite well. The pre-kindy program was one full day each week and she settled in beautifully but I did do a lot of prep before we started. So here are some of my top tips from a parent's and an early childhood teacher's perspective for starting school for the first time.


1. Be Positive!

Sure I'm nervous about sending my first child off to kindy but there's no way I'm letting her know that. We have been talking about the excitement of going off to kindy instead. She's starting at a new school this year so it's all going to be different for her. I save the 'OMG my baby's off to kindy' to my friends, family and hubby because it's amazing how much kids pick stuff up from us. If we're nervous or sad they are likely to be too!
2. Practise

Get them trying on their new uniforms and if they don't have a uniform maybe choose some clothes to set aside just for school (this is what we've done). Choose clothes they can do up themselves after they've been to the toilet and you don't mind getting a little messy. Take a photo of them in their uniform/school clothes and make them feel special. If you've bought new shoes let them wear them around the house for a few days to wear them in. It's a good idea to pick shoes they can put on and take off themselves.

 3. Plan the goodbyes.

If you are feeling anxious about the first day or you feel your child will not cope too well with the separation come up with a plan.  When you say you are leaving, tell your child and leave. I have a one kiss and hug for me and one kiss and hug for her little sister routine and then we leave. Try really hard not to give in to another minute or puzzle or story or they'll just keep trying to delay it which makes the goodbyes even harder and more stressful. They may cry but I bet that five/ten minutes after you've left they have settled and are fine. It's normal and okay.
However if you are having issues with the separation in the morning talk to your teacher.
There's also a great article here with some useful information and advice

4. Buy kid friendly stuff.

Make sure your child can open their lunchboxes and all the containers. Think about the size of their school bag. Those cute little bags are adorable but can they fit your child’s spare underwear/clothes, lunch box/bag, drink bottle, hat, jumper (because it will most often come off), art work, notes and their items for news? In fact make sure that every you buy for them can be open, closed, used by your child without assistance. This is very important to helping your child build their independence and therefore confidence.

 5. Involve your kids.

Let them come shopping with you for school supplies or help unpack it if you order on-line. Get them to help with some of the prep work, covering, labelling or even just packing the supplies away to take on their first day. Involve them in some way even if it's checking everything off the list. This all helps build up the familiarity and excitement of starting school.


6. Encourage independence from day one.

Have them carry their own bag and place everything away themselves. If they put it away there's more chance they'll remember where it is when they need it. Independence is really important not just for their learning but also their own self confidence.

7. Make sure your kids can toilet themselves independently.

Can they undo their buckles? pull up their pants after? hitch up their dress or skirt? wipe themselves? Yep that last one is essential and yes I've had many a child tell me they can't as mum always does it for them. Not fun for the teacher trying to explain how!  Now accidents do happen so also let them know it's okay and their teacher will be there to help them find their spare clothes for them.

8. Lastly clear their schedules!

Why? Starting school is exhausting for kids. Try not to over schedule their first weeks/term until you see how they are adjusting and coping. What they would usually be able to fit in their day/week will not be the same for a while even if they've been attending daycare. School really is tiring on a whole different level. If you feel your child really isn't coping have a chat with your child's teacher.

Most importantly, enjoy the first day at school! It's a special day. Remember to take a photo before you leave home of them all dressed up for their first day. Pack a few tissues but try not to cry til you're out of view of your child. If you feel yourself about to burst in front of them remember the old trick of pushing your tongue up on the roof of your mouth to prevent the tears.

On that first day I'm planning on a little coffee date with my littlest after I've dropped my big girl off for her first day of kindy. I see a large latte and a big piece of cheese cake in my future. It will be like my little reward for surviving and a great distraction!

Make sure you go out and reward yourself on that big day too. 
You deserve it xx

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Australian Animal Activities

With Australia Day this weekend I thought I'd share some of the activities we've done for the wonderful animals that live in this great country. I know I shared these on the page last year but I thought I'd pop them in a blog post for you all.

These shredded paper emus have been a favourite of mine since I first made them with my Pre-Primary kids at school about 13 years ago. They are so easy just using a paper plate, grey paper (I bought some from Officeworks) and some shredded paper. If you don't have a shredder at home I bet someone you know does and wouldn't mind sharing some of their rubbish with you. The concertina folding legs are great for kid's fine motor and eye/hand coordination. Of course if your kids are struggling you can always 'help' them out with them. If you want a template for the emu head I did a rough one up that you can download here.

I love these matchstick echidnas. All you need is craft or PVA glue, matchsticks and a googly eye. I did another template here for the echindas or you can sometimes find precut Australian animals at art shops. I found the ones below at a Riot Art Store and I used them for free collage providing glue, brown crepe paper, brown paint, feathers and googly eyes.

Here's a platypus Molly made at the free collage table:

These super cute koalas that my girls made were inspired by the ones Bianca from A little delightful shared on her blog here.

 Last week I even set up the kid's bookshelf with Australian animal books all ready for Australia Day.

Next on my list is some baking for the weekend including ANZAC biscuits, vegemite scrolls and lamingtons.
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