Tag: family activities

Why Your Family Needs an Adventure Backpack

Why Your Family Needs an Adventure Backpack

Many, many years ago, there was a movie called One Fine Day featuring Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney as two single parents working together to juggle their kids and their jobs. One of the recurring jokes in the movie is that ultra-controlling mom Pfeiffer always has what she needs in her bag, from juice boxes to costumes for the kids. Clooney, more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants dad, even asks at one point, “Where I can get a bag like that?”

I’m not sure why that random movie fact has stuck with me for more than 20 years, but I had a similar moment last week when we met up with some friends at a fairground. One of my girls needed to use the bathroom immediately, so we walked to the Porta Potties right around the corner. As she came out of her little hut, I was waiting with wipes and some hand sanitizer, which made my friend crack a joke about being a Boy Scout. I joked right back, “I’m not a Boy Scout, I’m a mom.”

Our family tradition of carrying a backpack came right after the diaper bag years. Typically, our “adventure backpack” stays in the trunk of our family car, filled with all the supplies we tend to need most.

Whether your family adventures include travel or exploring the outdoors, an adventure backpack can make life with kids easier!

Young girl on dad's shoulders with text: 16 Must-Haves for Family Adventures

What is an adventure backpack?

Our backpack is a simple, two-shoulder bag that holds all the things our kids tend to need when we are hiking, geocaching, touring the zoo, or visiting an apple orchard. We keep it light enough that any one of us can carry it if needed–but not so light that we end up sunburned or covered in bug bites because the sunscreen and/or bug spray is in the other car.

What should we put in our adventure backpack?

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The type of backpack your family chooses depends on the types of activities you’ll need it for. Rarely do we hike more than a couple of hours and we typically drive right to our campsites, so we don’t need an actual hiking backpack. A regular school pack works just fine for our adventures, so long as it has lots of pockets for our supplies:

  • hats for everyone
  • sunscreen
  • umbrella
  • insect repellent
  • bandaids
  • wipes
  • hand sanitizer
  • tissues
  • pain reliever
  • flashlight
  • compass
  • whistle
  • water bottles
  • snacks (optional)
  • zipper bags for trash or nature collections
  • notepad and pencil

Where should we take our adventure backpack?

  • Our family loves to go traveling–you can follow our adventures over on Instagram.
  • You can also read our guest post all about family adventures over on BethanyIshee.com {coming soon}.
  • Get lots of destination ideas here on our Family Adventures Pinterest board!

If your family is looking to have more adventures full of hands-on learning and fun memories, keeping a family adventure backpack in the car will be a lifesaver!

What do you keep in your adventure backpack?


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What is a family adventure backpack and WHY do we need one?

Patriotic Activities for Kids

Patriotic Activities for Kids

Here in the United States, summer officially arrives on Memorial Day weekend. Now that my girls are older (9 and 6), we will spend part of the weekend talking about the true meaning behind Memorial Day (no, not barbecues and pool openings). Like most countries, America has experienced a lot of loss — from the Revolutionary War to current conflicts. We will probably travel to see the latest version of the Freedom Rock and make a list of patriotic activities to get ready for our Independence Day celebrations.


Patriotic Activities for Kids | Celebrate Memorial Day and Independence day with these patriotic songs and resources, fireworks crafts, patriotic sensory bin, and more!

Click here to download our FREE Red, White, and Blue Activities for toddlers and preschoolers!

No email address required.


If you have young kids, you can start with the basics, The Pledge of Allegiance and The Star Spangled Banner! You can also teach them classic patriotic songs like America the Beautiful, My Country Tis of Thee, and This Land is Your Land.

Our favorite resources for learning about American history and geography:

(Just a reminder that Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links, at no additional cost to you. You can read our full disclosure policy here.)

School House Rock: America

Stack the States (app)

Liberty Kids

You can also fill your home with fun patriotic books, such as America the Beautiful or Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution!

Click here for our entire list of recommended patriotic books for kids!


If you like to do crafts with your kids, there are lots of choices for Memorial Day and Independence Day. Last year, we made wreaths using red, white, and blue fabric with some senior adults at the local retirement community! You can see our ever-growing collection of patriotic craft ideas on my Pinterest board here.

Patriotic Activities for Kids | Celebrate Memorial Day and Independence day with these patriotic songs and resources, fireworks crafts, patriotic sensory bin, and more!

Our girls love sensory play, so be sure to consider a patriotic sensory bin. We like red and blue dyed rice (mixed in with undyed white rice), along with 4th of July “table scatter” found at the craft shop. My girls also enjoyed adding pom poms to the mix along with their favorite sensory bin accessories.   


Patriotic Activities for Kids | Celebrate Memorial Day and Independence day with these patriotic songs and resources, fireworks crafts, patriotic sensory bin, and more!

Want 35 more patriotic activities for kids for just $5.00?

Click here for our Patriotic Family Activity Guide.

Letter Recognition Activities for Preschoolers

Letter Recognition Activities for Preschoolers

It’s hard to believe I’ve been involved in education for nearly two decades now. I’ve gone from working one-on-one with struggling students to a classroom teacher, from tutoring small groups to teaching “mommy and me” sign language and early literacy classes. Again and again, I come back to working with preschool and primary grade students (and their parents) because it’s a crucial time to instill a love for learning that lasts a lifetime.

In our Facebook group and in my one-on-one chats with parents, I’ve noticed one skill comes up more often than others: learning letter names and letter sounds.

In my mind, the best early literacy activity is simply reading aloud to our kids. There is no program or app that has a better track record than the powerful connection of a caring adult, a good book, and a willing child.


Click here for our favorite read aloud resources.


However, in my experience both as a teacher and a mom, some skills do need a little extra direct instruction. When it comes to teaching letters to toddlers and preschoolers, I will always recommend hands-on, FUN learning activities.

From an early age, our younger daughter showed us that she preferred choosing her own activities. By rotating her toys and setting out invitations to play every afternoon, she has become confident at directing her own learning.

What is a parent’s role in teaching letter names and letter sounds?

It’s simple, really.

Filling your home with books, stocking your toy closet with open-ended toys, and understanding how your child learns best will go a long way toward early literacy success.

So which books and toys are best for letter recognition?

Read on!

Letter Recognition Activities for Preschoolers | ABC games, learning letter names, learning letter sounds, early literacy, tactile activities, learning through play

(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you. You can see our full disclosure policy here.)

By nature, most young children are hands-on learners. Our favorite TACTILE (touch) letter recognition activities are:

Wooden Letter Puzzle

Magnetic Letters

Foam Letters

Letter Stamps

ABC Cookie Cutters

We also use cut-up pool noodles for a tactile spelling activity. You can start with just single letters for toddlers and preschoolers. As your kids get older, start adding in other spelling rules like double consonants, blends, chunks, etc. (Isn’t it fun when an activity can grow with our kids?)

Picture of cut up pool noodles with text: 12 hands-on ABC learning activities

My older daughter (a visual learner) also loved these two-piece letter puzzles and our ABC books:

My younger daughter (an auditory learner) loved this CD and our sign language DVDs/CDs:

Finally, some of our favorite letter recognition activities come out in our seasonal play. Leftover plastic eggs are great for making homemade ABC games!

 


Download our plastic egg activities here.


It is my sincere hope that this post has sparked some ideas for letter recognition activities that you can do at home! If you need MORE ideas, I would love for you to join our free Facebook group or schedule a one-on-one chat with me.