Wednesday, July 26, 2017

DIY Dry Erase Boards

Also known as How to Be Disproportionately Excited About Finishing a Project.

We do most of our homeschooling at the dining room table (or, let's be honest, the couch if it involves reading). We've got a good sized eating space and a dedicated school shelf so it works out well.

Awhile ago, we bought a world map from Amazon and Chris built a simple pallet for it to hang on. We really like it, and I always knew I wanted to add something to display our CC memory work on the walls as well. I wasn't in a huge rush since the kids can't read, but it's been on my mind for awhile, and I think it'll be a neat way for Chris to see what we're learning.

I toyed around with dry erase paint, but all my online research concluded that it was a) pricey and b) tricky. Apparently a lot of stores sell expired material which doesn't work well, so I kept hunting. I found dry erase vinyl at Hobby Lobby and decided to try that. So without further delay, here are my 6 steps to DIY dry erase boards.

1. Purchase small wooden plaques at Hobby Lobby in October. Occasionally see them on your craft shelf and think you know, I should really finish that project. Leave said plaques alone until July when you're trying to finish everything on your pre-baby list.

2. Sand the plaques and paint the edges. Here's where I messed up: I should have painted the entire thing. I mixed the paint color from a couple samples I had and probably wouldn't have had enough, but had I done so, it would have saved me a step.

3. Realize the adhesive dry erase surface is more see through than you thought. Also cut cardstock to fit each plaque, attach that to the dry erase surface and use glue dots to put it on the plaques.

4. Use Silhouette to cut out the subject names from vinyl and attach to each plaque. Mine are very obviously not perfectly straight, but we just hope people don't point that out. ;)

5. Hang with command strips.

6. Show everyone who cares (and even some who don't) because you are so thrilled to finally be done with said project.

The project ended up being fairly reasonably priced, which was nice. The plaques were $18 total and I used leftover paint and cardstock. The vinyl dry erase was $13, but I had a 40% coupon and didn't use all of the material.

Hopefully they hold up well. I can tell I need to add more glue dots, but I was running low and Hobby Lobby is an hour away (#smalltownproblems). Now to make sure I update the memory work each week!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Road Trip Activities 2.0

(Also known as The Trip For Which I May Have Slightly Over-Prepared.)

We just got back from an epic road trip (5,388 miles, to be precise) in which we saw much of the Western US and much of our families. We hadn't done a long road trip since Christmas of 2015 and I was a little worried about keeping the kids busy for that many miles When we first planned the trip, we knew we'd be caravaning with my parents for the second leg, but thought the kids would be with us for the first and third legs, so I maaaaay have over prepared. Maybe. (Pretty sure that when Chris reads this post, he'll roll his eyes and say "yes, yes you did,") Plans changed and Chris and I ended up driving the last leg kid free (which, yes, was as wonderful as it sounds). Don't worry, we didn't abandon our children; they spent a week with grandparents and great grandparents, going to the library, the pool and various parks and they arrived home safely yesterday afternoon.

Due to a last minute vehicle change we ended up taking Chris' Jetta station wagon, and I'm happy to report that it went much, much better than expected and we all still like each other. ;) It did make things a little cramped (all three kids in one row), so a few activities got left behind (roll of aluminium foil, extra sketch books and some construction magnets) but most of what we brought was well used

Last our last trip, I made road trip binders, which they asked for before we'd pulled out of the driveway (sorry, kids, I don't hand out activities until at least an hour into a trip). In the binders I put colored pencils (no crayons on a summer road trip!), a coloring page for each state went to, color by number, blank paper, dry erase markers, dot to dots, a map of our trip, etc. Restaurant bingo was a huge hit. It was pretty cute to hear "that's on my list!" from the backseat multiple times when they spotted one.

I also made travel trays and had some fun customizing them.

Pipe cleaners, strategically picked books (Where's Waldo?, a children's treasury, etc.), stickers and glow sticks (which, by the way, aren't really necessary on a summer road trip when you're not driving late at night) were all repeats from our previous trip. New this time were...
Finger puppets: The homemade Veggie Tales puppets from our last trip didn't hold up well, and I was lazy so I bought some from Amazon this time. They're super cute and are now in the game closet to be used for quiet time or future road trips.

Tic Tac Toe: I bought some colorful round magnets from Hobby Lobby, drew Xs and Os on them and then drew a tic tac toe board which I put into a page protector. Isaac and his Lovey played a bunch, which was adorable.

Plastic animals: I got some from Amazon and then printed off these landscapes, put them in page protectors and added magnets to the back so they'd stick to the travel trays. The kids ended up using them mostly without the pages, but the animals were definitely a hit. I found some road pages, too, for cars and airplanes.

Magnetic puzzles: I took a couple of jigsaw puzzles from the Dollar Tree and put a magnetic strip on the back of each piece. It would have worked really well if I'd measured and realized before we left that the finished puzzles were too big for the trays. Mom fail.

Target Dollar Spot Treasures: Several weeks before our trip (when we thought we were going to be in a van/have extra room), a friend and I went to Target in search of car activities. I left with a memory game, Old Maid and checkers (which we didn't end up playing), some sketch books, pirate magnets and some weird light up ball/Koosh hybrid things. 

Read alouds: I was thrilled that kids liked reading chapter books more this time around. We listened to Little Town on the Prairie, and I read aloud two Boxcar Children books (which I'd gotten on Kindle for a steal. I'm not a huge fan of eReaders, but I can't deny they're quite wonderful when traveling).

Would You Rather?: I printed these cards and put them on a ring, which was a fun thing we all could participate in.

Ice Cream Parlor: I cut cones, ice cream scoops and toppings out of felt. Nothing very exciting, but Lydia enjoyed playing with them.

Misc: The kids were each in charge of packing some toys in their backpacks (Timmy brought the necessary race cars, Isaac the airplanes and Lydia the dolls/stuffed animals). We also borrowed a couple Boogie Boards (LCD writing tablets) from a friend, though we only brought one due to space.

Also, kids are pretty content to just look out the window...who'd have thunk? ;) When your boys love building/construction and airplanes and your daughter loves animals, there's quite a bit out there for them to see. Isaac and I were excited to count the number of crop dusters we saw, and ended up with a whopping one. 

There are probably a few more that I forgot about. I'm not kidding when I say that I literally wrote down every activity so I wouldn't forget what all I'd brought, because pregnancy brain.  

Next time we epic road trip it will be with four kids. Not that we have one planned anytime in the near (or distant) future, but this baby is coming sooner than we think!