Counting Down
15 Busy Kid Activities

conting down return from trip to china keeping the kids busy while daddy is out of townWhen my husband told me he was going to have to travel to China sometimes for his new job I was so thrilled for him. It is pretty unpleasant to travel with a lot of small children (and expensive) so we don’t do it, but whenever you have the opportunity to see another part of the world that is exciting.

So my husband has been in his new position a few months now, and came home a few weeks ago with the news that they were actually in the beginning stages of planning a  trip to China. I was very excited, my husband has always traveled some for work so nothing we weren’t used to. However, when he told me he was going to be gone for 15 days I was pretty surprised to say the least.

We live in a new place, we have made a lot of new friends, but you don’t just drop off your 4 kids for hours with people you like. Especially people who just are getting to know you, for fear they won’t want to get to know you anymore.

Honestly I have had a few people offer to help out with my kids, but sometimes I feel like people are just being nice and they don’t really mean it. Also, I feel like people don’t understand how much work it is to take care of 4 kids the ages of my children (6,4,3, and 1) so I don’t want to burden them when they were just trying to be nice.

I am still excited for my husband to see part of the world, I mean the possibility of the washi tape alone (no, but really).

Now I am faced with having to distract my children from missing their father for over 2 weeks. We are going to totally throw off their routine, which is going to cause a problem all on its own, plus their father will be gone, which will also be hard and just so happened that when my husband ended up leaving 2 of them were very ill.

Wow, well the first thing I wanted to do was make them a calendar so they could have a clear visual of when Daddy would return. It is very hard for kids to tell time, and really hard to keep track of so many days like this. So I made a countdown calendar, which really helped them. It also cut down on the constant asking of when daddy would return.

Each day I let them take turns on who would get to make the “x” on the day before.

countdown calendar smartandsavvymomI made sure to make the calendar bright and colorful and added lots of things we would be learning about that week in homeschool. I tried to add one picture for an activity we would do during the day aside from homeschool and church so that they would have some reference for whether the day had passed or not. Really it worked pretty well, and they have really enjoyed using it. I might be encouraged to add a monthly calendar to the fridge for every month, but I would have to plan a lot further in advance.

Turns out that illness had struck our household quite unexpectedly just as my husband was planning the last detail of his trip.


my 3 year old sleeping the day away after becoming ill

I have an 18 month old baby who was sick on the days leading up to my husband’s departure. This illness that has been going around town here was quite messy. For 5 days in a row, I had to change my babies sheets, and wash and dry them, and bathe her (twice) and oh there was also the diaper.

It was a lot, but then just as quickly as it had swept  in it was over, which was great because we were able to go to church a few days later and my kids really look forward to that. Also it was my turn to teach the 3 and 4 year old class, and I didn’t want to let anyone down about that, so we went.

Then on Monday morning, I stepped out of the room to get something from the upstairs of our house and I heard my 3 year old screaming. Honestly, I was not even alarmed as she tends to scream a lot. I figured someone took her toy or her seat on the couch and would deal with it when I got back down there.

When I returned (maybe 2 minutes later) I found my 3 year old standing in front of the couch telling me she was wet, from what we later determined was “spit out.”

There are a lot of such moments as a parent, but we still salvaged what we could of each day, went to church when they were well and to the store (all of us) when we ran out of fresh fruit, vegetables, and bread.

My younger ones were gracious enough to let my oldest use their laps when we ran out of seats in this 3 seat grocery cart

My younger ones were gracious enough to let my oldest use their laps when we ran out of seats in this 3 seat grocery cart

We ended up having to miss 2 weekday evening church services with the kids being sick so I had to do some on the spot brainstorming, but we survived.

Here is what we did for fun and a good distracting time while daddy was away.

1. Clean up games I know this might not seem like the most fun but it was definitely necessary after daddy left. We have a few different games we play that really help the kids enjoy helping mommy without feeling like they are working. My oldest was happy to wash some dishes and make bubbles as she loaded them into the dishwasher. It was a wet mess, but she had a lot of fun.

she loves that turbie twist

she loves that turbie twist

2. Fun at a friend’s house. The next day I took them to a friend’s house who watched them while I had an appointment. That was the most work ever, and I cancelled all future appointments that I had while my husband was away.

3. Painting. After I picked them up from the previous day’s events, I took them all to the dollar store and we picked up some painting activity sets that I think are meant to be for Easter baskets. Each set came with a little bit of paint, a brush, and 2 waxy cardboard sheets to paint on.

another messy night of fun

another messy night of fun

4.Movie Night. My children are not always easily distracted by the television, but I picked up a simple movie from the $5 section at Target and it kept them happy for an evening.

5. & 6. More Painting – This was really great for the older kids who are ages 4 and 6. My 4 year old will be 5 in just a few weeks and they did really well with keeping things pretty neat. My 1 year old did not participate, but my 3 year old was out of control. She did not get to paint for as long as her older siblings.

7. Baking Cookies and Pizza. – We counted this as half of our homeschool day. We were able to talk about the concept of one half which we have been reviewing in school and were able to have a lot of educational messy type fun.

8. & 9. Puzzle Time – I had found some puzzles on clearance, they were 24 piece puzzles, each box had 3 puzzles in it and were $.25 each. So for a $1 I was able to buy 12 puzzles and we put them together over the course of 2 evenings. Actually I don’t think we got to all of them.

10. & 11. Evening Church – Our church has ministries for the children on Sunday nights as well as opportunities for the adults so, like we always do, we did this both of the Sunday’s my husband was out of town.

12. Park Visit – There is a little park at the entrance of our subdivision that is a bit too far for the kids to walk to. Since we happened to have our only car while my husband wasn’t using it for work, I was able to take the kids to the park for about an hour on Saturday since we did not have school.

13. Craft Time. One of the evenings I found a craft for a fire breathing dragon on Pinterest. So I grabbed some disposable cups and some streamers, craft eyeballs, and tape and the kids had a lot of fun playing with these all night.

fire breathing dragon craft - smartandsavvymom14. Make up a Story Time – Usually for this time I start with reading a story. This time we had a story all about using your imagination. After we read the initial story I make up a story and then we all go around taking turns making up a story. My kids can never have enough turns doing this activity.

15. Play Doh Time – This is pretty self explanatory, but I sat with them and helped them make shapes and things they wouldn’t usually be able to do without me, so they really enjoyed it.

Between those activities and baths 4 days a week and sickness and laundry and meals, we really never had a free moment.

Several times the children mentioned to me that they were surprised how little they missed having Daddy around. I on the other hand still had to face the all to quiet evening while he was away. Luckily, I have this blog, tv, and reading to keep me company.

How do you keep your kids busy and distracted?


Books of The Old and New Testament Free Printable Songs

One of the great things about teaching my own children is how many new things I get to learn. I find that every time I go to prepare a Bible lesson for my children I most always pick up a new fact that I didn’t know before. I often add in facts that weren’t included in the lesson as well. Some days I really love teaching them.

I sometimes feel disadvantaged because I didn’t go to Sunday School or church or christian school as a child. So some of the basic things like the names of 12 apostles or the books of the Bible were not things that I memorized as a child. I can’t help but be reflective often as I prepare lessons and songs for my kids.

As an adult I sometimes find myself, smiling, I’m so lucky that my children will learn the Bible from a young age. I know idea what they will remember when they are 30, but I am fortunate they will have many hours learning bible during their school time.

For this weeks printable song, I am including the “Books of the New Testament,” and the “Books of the Old Testament”.

books of the bibile free printable song card previewAs a young adult I had to learn the books of the New Testament for a class I was taking, but I never did learn the books of the Old Testament. I always thought that as I continued to read my Bible each year that I would just some how learn them over time.

That did not happen. (haha) I am hoping that by teaching them to my children I will learn them eventually. I am fairly certain that my children already know them better than I do.

I wonder how long til they figure out that Brining in the Sheaves sound so awfully similiar tro their Books of the Bible Song.

Click here to Download >>Books of the Bible Free Printable Song Cards<<

Please enjoy!

The Never Girls Series,
Chapter Book for Young Readers

never girls collection 1 amazonSo many wonderful things to say about this set, but I think right now that the best fact about it is the price! Seems like my library is always out of the single copy of whatever books me and my little ones are after. I haven’t quite figured out the hold system and frankly it is just hard to get there with all these little ones and my husbands work schedule. So whenever we can catch a good deal on books it is always great. I have 3 daughters so this set will be put to good use!

Right now you can get Collection 1 of the Never Girls Series for just $13.52 on Amazon. That is a 44% saving on the list price! Great deal.

I have been reading the first book with my 5 year old and she has been loving every moment. She is always sad when our time is up and can’t wait to hear what happens next. I even heard her using some aspects of the story in pretend play today. What a joy it has been reading my first chapter book with my daughter.

This book has simple language and a picture about every 3 pages or so, so it is perfect for my young daughter. It mentions many of the characters from the movies and of course lots of new characters. It has enough consistency with the movie characters to excite my 5 year old daughter, and even my 4 year old son perked up when Peter Pan was mentioned.

We picked this up this weekend on the way back from another adventure and are already through about half of this story. We will be ordering this set right away and hopefully by the time we are done with that I will have figured out how to download an E book from the local library.

What are your young readers, reading this summer?

Our Summer Bucket List

2014 smartandsavvy summer bucket listI love the idea of a summer bucket list. Now that we are done homeschooling for the year time to focus on the fun things in store for the summer. I usually just plan a half dozen great big adventures for our family every summer, but I like having a list like this to have smaller fun activities in between. My kids are just thrilled to see this bucket list on the refrigerator and cross things off one by one.

And it is just as exciting for me to cross things off the list. As moms with many small ones know, any activity that involves little ones is always a challenge so it is a joy to me to cross things off the list and know that we survived that activity. We went and saw a movie this week and we got to cross that off, what a fun way to spend the summer. I can’t wait to look back at this list with my family and think of all the great memories we have to go along with it.

Feel free to pin it or PRINT IT

What fun things are you doing this summer with your family?

Pumpkin Decorating for Little Ones

This year we decided to paint the pumpkins, even though we think that some of the things you can do with a carving kit are amazing, it just wasn’t practical to carve pumpkins with so many little ones. So we bought some acrylic paint and some foam sticker decorating packs.


They had these cute sticker packs at Hobby Lobby for just $2.99 so we bought the Sheriff and the Lion and my little guy got to put the stickers on all by himself, he couldn’t have been more proud of his work.


For my 3 year old we thought she’d have more fun painting we only allowed her to have one color at a time and a lot of supervision but she did pretty well hardly any mess and she had a blast. I think it will be some years before we trade this in for carving.

The kids don’t usually get to paint even though I have a dedicated craft table down stairs in our basement. Taking everyone down there and then keeping them in line between potty breaks (upstairs) and diaper changes (also upstairs) and then having to take them all upstairs so no one is alone with the paint, too challenging for most days. So while this was a bit of work it was great fun!

We also bought some glow in the dark paints which my kids just think is amazing. Sometimes 3 year olds are so easy to impress. (Thank goodness) Just thought I’d share how fun and easy it was to do painting with our toddlers most of the work was just in preparing a paint proof work surface in our kitchen (we used old cardboard boxes to cover our dining table).

Love to hear what kind of fun clean decorating you all do for halloween :)