2020 Guide to Summer Camps In + Around Flagstaff

It’s time to start thinking about those summer plans for your kids! This guide has something for everyone! We encourage you to work through this list and contact those camps you are interested in – many have already opened registration. Let’s make it a great summer, Flagstaff mamas! !


Are you a Camp Director interested in getting your camp included in our guide? Fill out the form HERE

Please Note :: Before we dive into this comprehensive camp list, we have to start by giving our sincerest of thank yous to our camp sponsor who made this guide possible. Please check out  Camp FALA

Come join us! CampFALA is a two week summer camp offered to kids ages 6-16 between June 15th-26th. Camps are available in one week increments, both half- and full-day options, and allows campers to experience the arts and sciences. Our workshops include dance, theatre, English, music, visual arts, as well as robotics and science. CampFALA allows students to learn new skills and experiment with different mediums.  All instructors are either FALA teachers or Flagstaff art community members.

CampFALA dates this year are June 15th-19th and June 22nd-26th. Camp will be five days a week.  This year there are half day (8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.) and full day (8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.) options. Camp fees (not including a one-time registration fee of $30 per student) are $150 half day, and $300 full day.

For more information please visit the CampFALA website or email our camp administrator, Andrea Garns, at [email protected].

Momentum Aerial Youth Aerial Camps

Momentum’s Youth Aerial Intensives are week-long camps that focus on teaching students proper technique and artistry in Silks, Trapeze, Lyra and Pole. These camps are age appropriate and welcoming of all types of children. No prior experience needed.

All of Momentum Aerial’s camps focus on cultivating self-esteem, friendship, healthy body image and other important life skills like hard work and the importance of practice. Momentum Aerial is a woman-owned local Flagstaff business with a passion and dedication to our art form and building a strong creative community.

All camps are M-F from 9am-12pm. We invite parents from 11:30am -12pm daily for parent viewing time, and friends and family on Fridays from 11:30-12pm for a weekly show. Students can drop in for the day, or register for the full week. Day Drop In $45 / Full Week $200.

Youth Aerial Camps will have separate cohorts for ages 6-8 and 9-12 years old. Each group will have daily lessons on Trapeze, Silks, Pole and Lyra. Youth Aerial Camp features a variety of games and aerial activities. Each Friday culminates in a spectacular aerial performance at 11:30am! More information on the description of each apparatus can be found here.
What to Wear and Bring: Students need to come dressed in active wear that covers the backs of the knees and under arms. Students need a snack and water bottle daily.
Funtown Circus Camp features lessons in juggling, unicycle, stilt walking, aerial dance, acro balance and circus themed arts and crafts.  This fun and funky camp celebrates the broad spectrum of circus arts, instilling a sense of wonder, creativity and skill in its participants. The last day (Friday) of Funtown Circus Camp culminates in a spectacular performance at 11:30am!
What to Wear and Bring: Students need to come in active wear that covers the backs of the knees and under arms. Students must bring sunscreen, a hat, helmet, high socks and tennis shoes daily.  Students need a snack and water bottle daily.

Contact ::[email protected]

Dates + Ages

June 1-5th Youth Aerial Camp for ages 6-12
June 8 – 12th Teen Aerial Camp (13-17)
June 15- 19 Youth Aerial Camp for ages 6-12
June 29- July 3rd Funtown Circus Camp for ages 6-12

Flagstaff Challenger International Soccer Camps

Challenger Sports, the leading soccer camp company in North America, has combined the most popular elements of their two existing industry-leading camp programs, British Soccer and TetraBrazil, integrating them into a collection of the most effective soccer practices used by youth teams around the world.

The Challenger International Soccer Camp reflects the truly global nature of the sport today and provides young players with a wide variety of coaching styles, practices, and influences that will help them develop a well-rounded skill set.

We have taken the best coaching methodologies and practices from England, Brazil, Spain, USA and France and have woven them together in a multi-faceted on and off-field coaching experience.

Camps will include a free soccer ball, T-shirt, Poster and Certificate, as well as a free early registration replica jersey.

Contact :: [email protected]

Dates + Ages

June 1st-5th & June 15th-19th   |   2- 14 years

Summer Camp KJ

Home based summer day camps with plenty of outdoor, sunny Flagstaff fun! I have been running camps our of my backyard and home for 13 summers and have loved every one! We will create, design, rehearse and perform our own unique play Theater week!! We will explore a whole day each of clay, painting, bead work and jewelry, folk art and drawing during Art Camp. Baking at high altitude isn’t intimidating for kids!! We have a day each of breads, cakes, pies and tarts, chocolate and candy and cookies; making between 8 and 15 recipes every day with loaded plates to take home and sample during Baking Camp!! YUM!! Culinary Art is all about the details!! Cake decorating, cookie decorating, bread art and designing, baking, building and decorating Gingerbread houses will help get our edible artsy sides going! Come on over and Join in the fun!!! West side, close to downtown location!

Limited to 8 Campers to comply with smaller gathering recommendations

Contact and to Register :: [email protected]

Kristie Jones, 928-214-7162, leave message

Dates + Ages

Baking Camp: June 1-5, 9am to 2pm, $250, includes all supplies, ingredients and a plate loaded with our creations each day!

Theater Camp June 8-12:, 9am -1pm, $180

Culinary Arts Camp: June 15 – 18, 9am to 1pm, $220, includes all supplies and delicious creations each day, ages 8 and up

Art Camp: June 22-26, 9am to 1pm, $220, includes all supplies

NAU Volleyball Camp

NAU Volleyball Camps provide skill development to many ages, whether you are a beginner or a skilled and experienced player. The NAU Volleyball staff’s goal is to create an engaging and exciting environment for campers to learn and polish their skills, strategies, and game.

Contact :: [email protected]

Dates + Ages

All Skills Camp: July 11-13, 2020; Females 5th-12th grade
Team Camp: July 14-16, 2020; Female High School Teams
Advanced Camp: July 17-19, 2020; Females 9th-12th grade

Mt. Calvary Early Learning Center

We offer summer days full of fun and learning all in a Faith based environment. Mornings will be full of play based learning and centers and also a dedicated bible story time. Afternoons are for water play, bike day and the bounce house!

Contact :: 928-774-8811 extension 102   |  [email protected]org

Dates + Ages

June 1 – July 31, 2020   |    3-6 years

Curry Summer Music Camp at NAU

Learn
– Work with NAU School of Music faculty and renowned musicians from across the country
– Full ensemble rehearsals with outstanding clinicians each day
– Attend master classes, sectionals, and other courses that expand knowledge and appreciation of different facets of music
– Private lesson and chamber coaching opportunities

Perform
– Final ensemble concerts in Ardrey Memorial Auditorium at the end of each session
– Audition to perform for peers in the annual Camper Showcase and Variety Show
– Pianists perform in recital on the stage of Ardrey Memorial Auditorium at the conclusion of each session

Enjoy
– Established in 1950 by Dr. Jack Swartz
– Surrounded by the San Francisco Peaks on the Northern Arizona University campus in Flagstaff, Arizona
– Attend concerts, recitals, and other fun activities such as the talent show, dances, movie nights, camp games, and more!

Contact :: [email protected]

Dates + Ages

Junior Session: June 21 – 27 (entering grade 7 – 9 in fall 2020)
Senior Session: June 14 – 20 (entering grade 9 – 12 or graduating seniors in fall 2020)

NAU Community Music and Dance Academy

Music and dance classes and lessons are available for students of all abilities. Ages 4 years old through adults. Classes priced at $12 per hour. Package registration required. We offer private lessons for any instrument, any ability, and for all ages. Join us for music workshops, and ballet classes. Beginner and new dance students ages 5-9 years old can learn about different countries through dance and activities in our Dance Around The World classes. Explore your love of dance in an adult ballet class. Take a look at our additional class offerings and join us this summer in exploring your music and dance passion.

Contact :: [email protected]

Dates + Ages

June 1 – August 21 | 4 -18 and adults

Lowell Observatory Camps for Kids

1st/2nd Grades | Exploring the Moon
Campers will enjoy learning about the moon with fun activities like creating their own space suits, building Earth/Moon models, and constructing craters. Other activities will include hiking, drawing, playing games, and more.

3rd/4th Grades | Discovering the Sun
Campers will build solar ovens and solar models and will safely observe the sun with telescopes and other devices. Other activities will include hiking, drawing, playing games, and more.

5th/6th Grades | Lighting Our Way
Campers will construct spectrometers and participate in exciting activities designed to teach them about the electromagnetic spectrum. Other activities will include hiking, drawing, playing games, and more.

7th/8th/9th Grades | Astronomical Research
Campers will get a brief look into what astronomical research is like through fun, hands-on science experiments. From collecting data to presenting their results, students will dive deeper into the world of science. Other activities will include hiking, drawing, playing games, and more.

Contact :: [email protected]

Dates + Ages

6 – 14 years old

June 15-19 (grades 1-9)
June 22-26 (grades 1-9)
July 13-17 (grades 1-6)

MNA Discovery Summer Camps

Each week-long summer camp offers amazing experiences and meaningful exploration of the natural sciences, art and culture of the Colorado Plateau. All camps take full advantage of the Museum’s exhibits, outdoor spaces, and natural environment surrounding Flagstaff. Camps are led by experienced educators, have a small class size, and are located in a safe and fun environment at the museum’s Discovery village. Extended care and scholarships are available.

Contact :: Jennifer Glennon   | [email protected]

Dates + Ages

June 8-July 31, 2020  |    4-14 years

Bloom 2020: An Event for New and Expecting Moms

Who :: All Northern Arizona moms or moms-to-be {no kids, please, with the exception of young nurslings}

When :: Thursday, April 16, 2020  6:00pm-8:30pm

Where :: The Garden’s at Violas

Ticket Sale Date :: Early Bird – ends Sunday, March 8 at Noon. General Admission – On Sale Friday March, 13

Cost :: $15 for general admission {includes EVERYTHING featured at the event – food, beverages, activities, and  raffle tickets. You do NOT need cash unless you want to shop (and we hope you do!)}

We couldn’t be happier that Bloom, a celebration of all things motherhood specifically designed for new moms and moms-to-be, is coming back to Flagstaff for the third year! This popular event is ideal for expectant Northern Arizona moms or those who are thinking of expanding their family. This is indeed a kid-free event, with the exception of young nurslings. It is rare that we as moms can get out and about on our own, and Bloom is all about taking an evening off and getting away from the routine for a celebration that’s all about YOU.

Flagstaff Moms Blog is known for producing high-quality events for Flagstaff area moms, families and children! We look forward to seeing your family soon and also encourage you to join the Facebook Event Page for additional fun updates!

Title Sponsor :: 2020 Bloom

We are extremely thankful to our title sponsor, as it is their generosity and support that allows our events to take place! 

Event Sponsors :: 2020 Bloom

We hope that you will plan to spend time with each of these amazing Bloom partners during our event. Each business offers something wonderful for Northern Arizona area moms or moms-to-be and we are pleased to introduce you to each of these Bloom sponsors at the event itself!

 

Table Sponsors :: 2020 Bloom

We hope that you will plan to spend time with each of these amazing Bloom partners during our event. Each business offers something wonderful for Northern Arizona moms or moms-to-be and we are pleased to introduce you to each of these Bloom sponsors at the event itself!

Decor Sponsors :: 2020 Bloom

We are so grateful to the fantastic businesses that are partnering with us to create a beautiful and inviting ambiance at our event! These sponsors are bringing our vision for Bloom to life, and we are so excited for you to see the beauty they are helping us create. 

Giveaway Sponsors :: 2020 Bloom

What’s a Flagstaff Moms Blog event without giveaways? These giveaways were specifically selected because of their relevance to expectant moms or moms with little ones. 

SWAG Bag Sponsors :: 2020 Bloom

All Bloom guests will be pampered and spoiled with a wonderful event! In addition, our attendees will receive a Bloom Swag Bag! Our Bloom swag partners offer products and items that are intended for new moms (whether it is your first or fourth child) and moms-to-be. You can expect to be spoiled at this event and leave with an array of goodies that will help you with your growing family!

Disclaimers: ALL TICKET SALES ARE FINAL. NO REFUNDS. NO RAIN CHECKS. THIS EVENT WILL HAPPEN RAIN OR SHINE. In the event of an act of God (such as a blizzard or giant lizard attack) we may not be able to reschedule due to the complex nature of the event and we will NOT offer refunds. In the event that you cannot attend the event we will do our best to assist you in finding another mom to exchange/give/or sell your ticket if the need arises and/or if time allows.  FMB nor Violas Flower Garden will be responsible and/or liable for any attendees who leave the event area. Additionally, everyone that purchases a ticket will be subscribed to our email list (if they have not been already) in order to provide the most timely and up to date event info. Photos will be taken at the event and of attendees for use on the blog and on social media by the Flagstaff Moms Blog and sponsors.

This English Teacher is too Tired to Read to Her Own Kids

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My husband and I both work full time and we have two kids under 5 with no childcare (you know, because of the pandemic).

Here’s our schedule
3:30 a.m. Husband goes to work while I watch the kids (this includes trying to take care of the house, feeding them, doing nap time, doing laundry, and attending periodic zoom meetings with the kids in the house)
11:30 a.m. Husband returns from work
1:50 p.m. I start teaching
5:15 p.m. I finish teaching
6:30 p.m. the 17-month-old goes to sleep
8:30 p.m. Husband and 4-year-old go to sleep while I grade

My 17-month-old is not talking as much as her brother did at that age. She’s not meeting the standards for speech, and due to swallowing issues, she was already supposed to be seeing a Speech Language Pathologist. When Covid started the SLP switched to virtual appointments. It was almost impossible to get anything out of those appointments with my camera unable to see inside her mouth, nobody to hold the baby while I adjusted the camera, and my son running around. I had to let them go. It wasn’t worth it.

The pediatrician said she knows I read to my kids all the time. I teach English after all. It pains me to say this, but I have not been reading to my kids each day. I used to read to my first child for hours, but now I’m so tired both physically and mentally. Bathing, feeding, dressing, and caring for two humans with no break is exhausting on its own. Add a full-time teaching job to that and I’m wiped. I’m just trying to keep my head above water. Now that we don’t have childcare there is no recharge time.

I have been trying to put out books to remind myself to read to the kids. It has helped somewhat. I can usually get one interested while the other destroys the couch or tries to scale the fridge shelves. I wonder what the long term results will be. Will my kids be okay in the end?

So many moms are leaving the workforce because they either don’t have the scheduling luxuries and a partner as I do, or they just can’t do this anymore. It is an impossible situation. Unfortunately, kids from working-class and poor families will bear the brunt of the strain.

Moms, if you are cutting out parts of your routine that used to be “essential,” if you feel like some days you fail to be the mom you want to be, if you wish you had enough energy for work or for home, if you feel stuck, if you are angry, if you are sad, just know that I see you. It takes a village but most of the village is closed. You are doing the best you can.

Creating a Great Relationship with Your Kids Starts with Understanding and Connection

“I will NEVER do this to my kids!” I thought heatedly, with deep conviction, for the thousandth time. I was a little kid with big emotions, one of them being frustration rooted in the feeling that my parents just didn’t understand (or try to) how I felt about [insert any number of things here]. I would iterate this same conviction a thousand more times as I grew up, each time knowing wholeheartedly that I would never forget what that ever-so-important point was that I would purportedly never deny my future progeny.

Well, I forgot. All those times I thought those words with such certainty, and yet now I can’t remember any of the points on the list. But there is something I haven’t forgotten: the frustration I suffered when I truly felt like my parents weren’t listening or trying to understand how important something felt to me. The connection and communication just weren’t there for me to lean on in those times because the foundation for it hadn’t been built in my family. I cannot guarantee that my child (or children – you never know what the future holds) and I will always agree, or that I won’t say no to things, or that there won’t be discontent between us. However, I can put in the effort as the parent to lay the groundwork for a more open relationship.

It starts with understanding and connecting with your children at every opportunity, and fortunately the opportunities happen multiple times a day, every day.

We as the parents have the tools to build the framework for communication, and it’ll be there as our children grow up so they truly feel they are being heard and understood. I have been working on this since I became a parent, and it has given me the confidence that, though I will still be the parent which inherently means we will have major differences of opinion, I will have a better connection and a better relationship with my child than I had with my parents growing up.

The general ideas that bring a relationship to this point are easy to grasp – it’s finding ways to consistently abide by and implement them that are hard. It takes active presence, thought, and work to build understanding and connection, and it’s an everyday thing.

Understanding begins with recognizing where your child is at developmentally, what that means in terms of how they process things, and what their needs are. For you, that might mean learning about how your new teenager experiences moodiness or a shortage of confidence as his or her body goes through unfamiliar changes. For me, that means understanding the developmental stages and milestones my toddler is moving through. It means taking the time to learn and understand how her emotions are becoming bigger, but that she hasn’t developed many tools for dealing with them yet. Knowing this information gives me the ability to be patient instead of feeling angry when she becomes worked up or stuck on something. It’s not personal, it’s just her working through new emotions and finding ways to manage them. My job is to give her patience and understanding, and help her find the tools to manage – teaching her how to take deep breaths, how to say things like “RED LIGHT!” when she begins to feel frustrated or naming emotions as they pop up so she can better communicate what she’s feeling.

Can you imagine feeling terrified, having all the physical responses that go with it (adrenaline or a racing heart), but not knowing what is going on in your body or why you feel that way? It would be even scarier. This is a toddler’s reality.

On top of that, not yet having the rationalization that most adults can use to calm down after feeling fear (oh, that loud bang was just my partner dropping the soap in the shower). The fearful feeling would just keep building until you almost couldn’t tolerate it. So I start by understanding that my toddler doesn’t yet grasp a certain emotion or how to cope with it.

As I look deeper into where my toddler is at developmentally, I can understand that she is reaching very hard for independence, she is needing to exercise and develop new skills, and she is testing boundaries – all healthy things to do for a kid her age. I have to go in with the mindset that she needs to do all these things, and I can meet those needs with patience. It means I have to accept what will happen as a result – the messes made as she works to develop fine motor skills, the bumps and bruises that occur as she demands to try things on her own, the lengthy boundary-testing as she determines why adults make rules. I can be present to connect with her through all these things, to let her know that she is heard, that I understand, and that we will work through it together. When she says she wants to try something that I know will create a mess, I get the towels ready and we clean up together, then follow up with reassurances that trying is important, messes are okay, and practice will get her to where she wants to be. Before I ask her to do something that I know will be tough (transitioning to bedtime, getting dressed in the morning, or sitting down for a meal), I try to set us all up for success by ensuring I’ve allowed enough time for her to work through the process. I might let her know there are ten minutes until we transition to bedtime activities, and use a timer as a neutral way of counting down the minutes. When I know she needs “rainbow” foods but isn’t really into them, I offer choices of two different foods so she’ll feel empowered by being able to choose the one she likes more. Thinking through situations that you know are difficult for your child can allow you to come up with creative and appropriate solutions to help you move through them more easily.

But things won’t always go right, even when you do your best to set everyone up for success. For me, it happens all the time. My toddler will fall and get hurt, or refuse to eat a meal, or cry about something that seems so trivial (but is not trivial to her). When it happens, I always choose connection. I won’t minimize her feelings by saying, “You’re fiiiine, don’t cry!”. I won’t yell at her for not listening to what I’ve told her, or ask her why she didn’t listen (because I have taken the time to understand that impulse control is not something toddlers excel at). I don’t force her to eat. Instead, I use the opportunity to connect with her over something that is difficult for her. I get down on her level. I open my arms to give hugs and kisses if they are needed. I open up the dialogue.

  • “I’m sorry that happened to you. I bet it hurt when that happened.” (Recognizing her feelings are real and true.)
  • “That noise was so loud, it startled you! I was surprised too. It was a garbage truck on the road. Do you remember seeing the garbage truck on our walks?”  (Naming the feeling, relating to it yourself, then talking about the thing that was scary.)
  • “I see you haven’t eaten any carrots. Did you try them? No? Oh, hmm. I wonder, are they squishy or hard? Did you try squishing them?” (Understanding that there are a lot of flavors that are powerful to young kids, but that toddlers love tactile experiences. This can be built up into your toddler using all their senses, including tasting, which means you could get your kiddo to try something new!).

Building a great relationship starts with these small communications – connecting with your child instead of building a wall by becoming angry or dismissive of how they feel, and meeting your child where they are developmentally. Take the time to be mentally present and patient as your child works his or her way through their development. It can grow into a beautiful relationship. It will empower your child, and make them feel heard and understood. My own frustrations are less because of my acceptance of where my child is developmentally, and my patience has grown. She still tests boundaries, loves to say no, and has big emotions. But connecting with her makes everything go more smoothly. Emotions rarely escalate into tantrums, and she is much more pliable and willing to try when I exert patience.

Go ahead. Take every opportunity to connect. Do your best to understand. The resulting relationship is 100% worth it.

How moms can find work-life balance (and be happy)

2020 was a blur.

It was hard enough being a mom of three young kids and juggling a full-time job while being married to a husband who is out of town half of the month. Then the pandemic hit.

I went on survival mode as I finished up the rest of the spring semester (I was an educator). I regularly slept less than 6 hours each day. I spent hours answering student emails. I felt overwhelmed and exhausted. Though I had considered myself a master at multitasking, it was just too much. The New Yorker magazines (which I used to obsessively read) started to pile all over the house and I couldn’t find the 20 minutes to read the latest stories.

This past summer provided an opportunity for me to reflect and figure out how I can find work-life balance moving forward. Ever since I recognized that COVID wasn’t going to be gone any time soon, it became apparent that I need to manage my life BETTER.

The first decision I made is to work half-time remotely with a flexible schedule. There are definitely some days when I’m envious of my friends who are toughing it out during the pandemic as full-time working moms, but I found it impossible to have reliable childcare during the pandemic. I lost several babysitters when NAU decided to roll out NAUFlex approach for 2020-21 (rightfully so) and many students decided to not move back to Flagstaff. Since we don’t have any family nearby who can provide childcare and it is impossible to coordinate my schedule with my husband’s (his work schedule varies from week to week), it became too difficult to set up consistent childcare.

I am extremely fortunate in that my family does not rely on my income and therefore working half-time is a possibility. I am also thankful that my new job allows me to work at times that work for me (i.e. when my kids are sleeping and on weekends). While I still do have to get help from a couple of babysitters, it is no longer the end of the world if childcare falls through because I can easily reschedule my meetings. This significantly reduced my stress level.

The second decision I made is to be fully present with my kids when I’m not working. I love cooking and baking with my kids even though it takes twice as long and makes double the mess. I let them choose what we should make for dessert and I don’t freak out when my not-quite-2-year-old insists on feeding himself (translate: drop half of the food on the ground). I relish my time with each child and aim to do something special with them individually. Most recently, I took my eldest on a biking date while his two younger siblings were napping. On our ride back, he – without being prompted – said to me, “thank you for biking to the playground with me.” Moments like this remind me to enjoy every moment at home.

The third decision I made is to be kind to myself. I decided to not shame myself for sending my children to school without brushing their hair. I decided to let go of the mom guilt for having a laundry room full of clean but unfolded, clothes. I decided that it is okay to turn on a podcast for myself instead of a nursery rhyme CD in the car. I know that other working moms have the same issue so there is no point in holding myself to an unrealistic expectation.

In an effort to finally prioritize myself, I asked myself what I want to do FOR MYSELF. I had neglected myself for so long that I didn’t even know what I wanted to do for fun. After contemplating for a while, I decided to go back to school!

It may seem crazy to some that this is my definition of fun, but I truly love learning and I believe in being a life-long learner. Unlike the three degrees I already have in science and education, I chose to head to a local community college to learn useful trades, like residential wiring and basic construction. I don’t plan to apprentice my way into a professional trade job, but I want to learn practical skills in my day-to-day life as a homeowner. Wouldn’t it be cool to safely wire your own house? I think so 🙂

I have to admit that it felt rather odd to get a student ID printed instead of flashing my faculty ID. It felt even more out of place to sit in a classroom full of young men in their 20’s in their baseball caps and hoodies (turns out that there aren’t too many women who take construction technology classes). But I was intellectually stimulated and appropriately challenged. Before class last week, I didn’t even know how to strip a wire. But now, I can make a Western Union splice and solder my own wires.

By going back to school, I hope that I am setting a great example for my children. I love that they get to ask ME what I learned at school. I am grateful that I get to continue doing something meaningful in my professional life while developing new passion in my personal life. I am happy to have found some balance.

Keeping Your Pre-schooler Kindergarten Ready

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So much has happened this year, and so much has…not. Earlier this fall there was a lot of back and forth about the reality of preschools (and all schools) being opened, and while some have, it isn’t the majority. Many families aren’t ready to send their littles back. Now we’re in a new year and with so many things coming to light I can almost see my kids going to school in the fall. Until then we are doing what we can to keep our kids ready when they get the chance.

Channeling my background as a former elementary school teacher I keep in the back of my head a checklist of things to keep forefront while my kids are home. While my family made the decision to not send our summer birthday to kinder until she is 6, there are still things we do to keep her on track. We do our best to keep a routine with “circle time” at least twice a week. In my family, this includes a letter of the week, counting, practicing Spanish, Religious Ed, and a story. It’s short and sweet, taking no more than twenty minutes, it is also entirely child-led as kids don’t want to do things they aren’t interested in and it benefits no one to force them.

Early childhood is about learning through play, but when kids hit kindergarten age we hit a big shift in (not entirely developmentally appropriate) expectations. Here are some ideas and tips that you may not have thought of when it comes to keeping your kids ready:

Counting: Not just 123s, but count everywhere all the time, let your kids count out the number of forks to set the table with, ask them what numbers they see on the city bus, or to read you the numbers off the clock on your oven. Practice different stretches or exercises counting in different ways (in Spanish, skip counting, etc)

Letters: Practicing the ABCs is great, but don’t forget sounds or identifying them in print. Start with the first letter in their name, pick a random (or themed) letter every week and practice the sound it makes, and finding it in real print.

Fine motor: Cutting and gluing! Woah! Don’t get too scared. Start by making lines on paper and having your kid cut them until they are scissor confident. Practice holding scissors safely between activities. Use white glue and glue sticks to make projects. Do your kids know how to hold a pencil? Let them draw with different medians. Let them paint with not a paintbrush. Let them lead arts and crafts.

Gross motor: Skipping, jumping, hopping are all things you can randomly ask your kids to do without you. Practicing throwing or kicking a ball are great to do with them!

Shapes, body parts, and colors: Let them lead with real-world application. Expand with 2-D and 3-D shapes (like balls and cans). If your kids are great at their colors or body parts, ask them to identify in another language (if that’s something you’re interested in).

Workbooks: Don’t use a workbook. They aren’t developmentally appropriate and they make kids hate school. The exception is if it is your kids choose to write in them! It must be a child-led choice. If this is something you want to push I suggest getting a dry erase one (markers make practicing letters fun!) or getting a few from the dollar store and letting them lead. Getting a notebook and letting kids just write or draw what they want will lead to some surprising developments all on their own!

Socialization and cooperative play: It’s so SO hard right now but this is the biggest foundation preschoolers need. Siblings are great for practicing cooperative play. Lead by example when moments need to be structured, “S can throw the ball to J and then he can throw it to me, then it’s S’s turn again”. We also try our best to walk with other kids outside when the weather is nice and we aren’t feeling COVID anxious.

Bonus! Make up a song about your home address (yeah, this is a real Kindergarten standard) and teach your kids your phone number.

The most important thing you can do to keep your kids academically ready for kindergarten? Read. Read, read, read! Every day, multiple times a day. Read them books, let them read you familiar books that they vaguely know the plot of. Read EVERYTHING!

The Gift of Struggle

The Gift of Struggle

As parents, it can be a challenge to let our children struggle.  We want to keep them safe; we do not like to see them having a hard time.  It feels as though it goes completely against our evolutionary instinct.

When I see my son struggle, my heart rate skyrockets.

But, I know while he struggles, he is developing a skill.  When this happens, I have learned to observe and stay close but not intervene right away.

Whether it is allowing him to fail so he can learn to try again or try another way, giving him the opportunity to solve a problem, and giving him space to feel and work through frustration when something does not go his way or is simply not easy.

We are the parents who do not let our son always win.  Whether that is during board games, card games, or physical activities (To be fair, there are a number of “ties”).  Rather, we focus on the effort being put into the game, how to handle it when we lose and how to congratulate someone else when he or she wins.

I have trained myself to resist the urge to jump in and fix a conflict he may be having with a friend or to speak for him when he is interacting with adults (unless he asks for help, which is also a great skill to learn).  I have seen in most situations; he can figure it out on his own.

I find it is an important foundation for him to be able to accept when situations may not go his way and to see that failure is an important part of success.

I notice in him the development of confidence, problem-solving skills and the ability to speak to and interact with all kinds of people.  I get so proud listening to him communicate his needs and ask thoughtful follow up questions to adults.

I have had the opportunity to watch him comfort others during their own challenging situations and praise them for their efforts.

As challenging as it is to watch him struggle, I never want to take away the feeling he may get from completing a task on his own.  The self-assurance he gains from trusting himself to handle age-appropriate challenges and watching him be empathetic towards others cannot be learned with me clearing his path to make things easier for him.

I believe there is no other way, so I give him the gift of struggle.

Introducing Wee Scotty Sewing & Craft Boutique: Your new downtown source for creativity

Lynne Gallagher, Wee Scotty owner, and master seamstress formed the idea for Wee Scotty while sewing on her machine with her infant daughter sitting on her lap. Over 25 years later, she has built a sewing community where students and customers of all ages, skills, and backgrounds can thrive in their creativity and ideation. 

Lynne provides a learning space at Wee Scotty like no other. Her career & Industry experience speaks volumes of her knowledge and expertise in garment and fashion sewing. Classes &  camps at Wee Scotty give students an insight into the world of clothing design. The sewists illustrate their design, choose their fabric(s), and sew it all themselves. Along the way, they learn about textile design, fabric grainline, how-to pin, how to fix their mistakes, and the ins and outs of machine sewing. Our students finish their classes with a one-of-a-kind wearable garment (or even an outfit!) and the empowerment of their own creativity.  

Wee Scotty’s adult classes allow students at any skill level to learn and improve in their sewing.  Each student follows the same pattern and sews their garment in the 6 weeks with expert advice and guidance from the instructor. Beginner sewists learn the basics of sewing, how to read patterns, cut fabric, and machine sewing. Advance sewists learn how to work with more difficult fabrics, refine tricky techniques, and can add any customization or tailoring to their garment. Even our most beginner sewists have come out of the adult sewing class with confidence in their ability and a hunger for more sewing!! 

Wee Scotty Sewing and Craft Boutique also offer trendy, top-quality fabric from wholesalers like Cotton+Steel, Paintbrush Studios, Tula Pink and much more! We also provide sewing notions, quilting necessities, and crafting supplies. As well as selling machines (sewing &  embroidery machines, multi-needles, sergers, cover-stitch machines, and ScanNCuts), Wee  Scotty offers machine servicing and repair. Plus, you can sign up for a one-on-one machine 101 class to learn the ins and outs of your own sewing machine or serger.  

Early spring classes start in March 2021 for kids and adults. Please stop by our new address –  18 N Leroux Street – pick up supplies, inquire about our services, drop off a machine repair or just say hi! You can also check out our website www.weescotty.com for info on classes,  products and to sign up for our newsletter!

Use the discount: FIRST75 to get $75.00 off your first sewing session!

This post is created in partnership with Wee Scotty

Celebrating Kwanzaa

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Joyous Kwanza to all!

2020 has shown such a light on the black experience in America. Highlighting injustices, with the murders of many African Americans, showcasing triumphs with the Black actors having the most wins at the Emmys, and enlightening the masses to the historical misdeeds that we as a people have endured. Subjects such as Jim Crow, Redlining, and the 3/5 Compromise being talked about by news outlets, authors, and on social media, it feels like the country is finally taking notice of the plight of Black Americans.

With such a tainted and tangled history in this country, many Black Americans have begun to look into their heritage, seeking connection to their roots. I am one of the many Black Americans that has taken the last few years to learn more African traditions, religions, and customs and hopefully teach them to my daughter.

One of the best ways my husband and I have decided to impart more African (or African American) traditions in our home is with Kwanza! Kwanza is a 7-day celebration that focuses on unity, family, and connection.

Kwanza was created in 1966 by Dr. Maluna K, a professor of African studies, in response to the racial tension and upheaval of the Watts riots in Los Angeles. He sought to give the Black community the chance to celebrate themselves and their history.

Kwanza is a Swahili word that translates to “First Fruits’; This ties into a feast that takes place during the celebration.

The celebration of Kwanza is organized in 7 principles, one for each day starting December 26th ending January 1st

Umoja: Unity

Kujichagulia: Self-Determination

Ujima: Collective Work and Responsibility

Ujamaa: Cooperative Economics

Nia: Purpose

Kuumba: Creativity

Imani: Faith

While celebrated in the Americas mainly, Kwanza has also been adopted by black Caribbean’s and others in the African diaspora.

Now that we’ve covered the origins, let’s get this party started!

First, you’ll need to gather a few items. A mat or Mkeka is what all the items will be placed on. Traditionally made from woven material, using a kente cloth print or printed fabric is fine. Similar to the Jewish manora, a kinara is used to hold 7 candles. 3 candles are red, to represent the blood that was shed and the blood that is shared, 3 green representing prosperity, and a single black candle that sits center to represent our people. Next, you’ll want to get yourself some Mazao (fruits and veggies representing the productive labor) to place in a bowl, an ear of corn (muhindi) for each child in the home (if there are no children in the home, a single ear will represent the children of the community) a unity cup (Kikombe cha umoja) filled with juice, water or wine to be shared and gifts! (zawadi) Kwanza gifts can be small or big and are usually educational or tied to heritage.

Now Twende! (Swahili for “lets go”)

To Begin, the oldest person in the home will greet everyone with the Swahili phrase ‘Habari Gani?’ meaning “What’s the news?” Those gathered would respond with that day’s principal. Umoja on the first day, Kujichagulia on the second day, and so on.

On the first day, the center black candle is lit.  The word of the day and its correlating meaning is what the family will discuss as they share food, drink from the unity cup, recall memories, and discuss dreams for their community.

For the rest of the week, the process goes the same with the candles going in this order.

The black, center candle is lit first and then it alternates between the red and green candles starting with the ones on the outside and moving inwards.

On the 6th day, New Year’s Eve is when we have the feast! Traditionally the meal was made with African foods like rice, beans, or peanut soups but over the decades, as the holiday entered the African-American mainstream, African foods got less emphasis, and people turned to more familiar foods.

Catfish, collards, and macaroni and cheese all began showing up on Kwanzaa tables, as did jerk chicken, gumbo, and plantains. I see this mix of old and familiar foods as a beautiful showcase of how far the African diaspora spreads.

Along with the feast, many families will dance, drum, sing and wear African prints and headdresses or bright colors. On the last day, January 1st, the Kinara is lit in order, greetings and poems are shared and gifts are exchanged from parents to children.

With such rich symbolism and ties to a people that have endured and overcome, Kwanza is a wonderful way to practice and focus on your community and your family. No matter your race, background, or ethnicity, you can celebrate Kwanza! Remember, without traditions, we don’t have a culture so take these principles of unity, purpose, and faith into this new year.

Mpaka Wakati Ujao! (until next time!)

Christmas Presence – Creating Salt Dough Magic with your Kids

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We’ve all heard it and experienced it before, each and every year, that the holidays are such a busy season. Brimming with the work of creating the magic for your children, finding creative gifts for family, participating in food and toy drives, dealing with end-of-year deadlines at work, creating travel plans (at least in normal years), sending holiday cards… it feels like a long list. But at the top of this list is what we strive for most: creating time to spend with our families, finding that sense of hygge together, and making special memories with our kids that will live in their hearts. It’s NEVER too late to start a tradition in your family, and the gift of your participation and presence creates lasting memories.

My mom had an advent calendar that I absolutely loved. It’s quite likely that no one else would look at it and say it was special. One year in the good ol’ 80’s, my mom purchased it from Avon with the idea that it could be fun for her children. It was cloth, had a little Christmas scene of Santa and Mrs. Clause enjoying cocoa together by the fire of their cozy little cabin, and 24 pockets in which you could move a disembodied little mouse (it was a mouse head on a strip of cloth) from pocket to pocket. It was my favorite part of Christmas, and I was always the first one to run downstairs in the morning to move the mouse to the next pocket, eagerly counting down the days. It appears that my mom had the right idea.

My mom doesn’t know where that little mouse or the old Avon advent is these days, but I still hold onto the memory. I started the same tradition with my daughter, but decided we could be more hands-on with it so that she might feel even more connected with it. Enter the advent spiral, made out of salt dough. It’s ten times easier than baking cookies, but looks just as delicious so watch your little taste testers or they’ll get the salt lick they never wanted! Disclaimer: I have caught my dog licking the salt dough ornaments we made and hung on the tree, and this is usually followed by my toddler telling the dog, “Hey! Those aren’t yours!”. Ahh, the Christmas spirit!

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

1 cup salt

1 cup water

Increase quantities proportionally for extra dough to make ornaments!

Directions:

  1. Mix flour and salt together. Add water and mix until dough is formed. You will likely need to use your hands! Get those kiddos involved in mixing for a great tactile experience.
  2. Roll your dough into a long sausage shape, then coil it into a spiral directly in your baking pan. I had to use a large sheet pan for the size of the spiral I wanted to achieve.
  3. Use your thumb to make depressions along the spiral (24 depressions if you want to do all 24 days). Alternatively, if you want to light candlesticks for each day, press the base of the candle into the dough to create the correct sized hole. At the center of the spiral, create a depression for the main candle you will be lighting either daily or at the end of advent. I hollowed out an area large enough for a tea light because I only wanted to use a single candle since my spiral was being created with a toddler in mind.
  4. Take any extra dough, place between two sheets of wax or parchment paper, and roll it out using a rolling pin. Create your own shapes from the dough or use cookie cutters! Use toothpicks to poke holes at the top so you can string them as ornaments.
  5. Bake at 250°F for 2-4 hours (depends on thickness) or until firm to the touch. Make sure to place your candles into the holes every now and then (if you decided to do all candlesticks or taper candles, you need to prevent the holes from shrinking while baking so they remain the correct size to keep your candles upright!). Let your creations cool.
  6. Have your kids paint the spiral and ornaments! Use string or ribbon to hang your ornaments. Let your child collect holiday-themed items, rocks, or other nature treasures to place on the advent every day. My daughter loves finding pretty rocks, so every day we would go out and collect one, wash it together, then place it on the spiral and light our tea light in the center of the spiral.

My daughter’s galactic salt dough spiral. First comes solstice, then comes Christmas!

We put one stone on everyday and light the candle at the center. My daughter did all the painting.

Our salt dough ornaments hung on the tree.

My advent spiral is not quite Christmas themed because my daughter painted it and chose every color of the rainbow (I’d say it’s more galactic themed!), but the point is for the kids to have fun and create memories! My spiral also does not have 24 advent days on it because I let my toddler “count” the fingerprints out herself. C’est la vie, it’s special to her because she created it, and we can count down the days to solstice and then start adding our trinkets in between the others. She gets very excited to pick her rock and light the candle every day, and we do this right before a meal so we can all sit and enjoy the ambiance together as a family. I also use that special time as a segue to talking about relevant, important ideas (what are we grateful for, what is our favorite memory this year, who might need extra love this year and how can we give it…).

Have fun creating some messy, but lasting and lovely Christmas memories with your most treasured little people on the Earth!

Peace, Love, and Joy, Friends!

What to Do Indoors in December With Young Kids

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Finding fun indoor activities can be a challenge in the middle of the pandemic. Besides decorating a Christmas tree and making a gingerbread house, what can you do with your preschoolers / kindergarteners this December at home?

  1. Get an Advent calendar: It’s a special calendar use to count the days in December leading up to Christmas Eve. The calendars are for kids AND adults! We like the classic chocolate calendars – they are a wonderful hands-on way for kids to get into the holiday spirit and to brush up on their numbers. You can get these calendars locally – we bought the adult (i.e. non-chocolate) one at Bright Side Bookshop and the kid (i.e. chocolate) ones at Sprouts.

 

  1. Make cookies and decorate them: Sure, they won’t look like Melissa Clark’s cookie box (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/01/dining/holiday-cookie-box.html) but it is fun and the kids really get into the action. As long as the clean freak in me expects some mess before starting this activity, I am better able to tolerate the icing going everywhere. You can also skip the decorating and just enjoy the icing-less cookies.

 

  1. Use cookie cutters for fine motor activities: Cookie cutters are more versatile than you think! They are great for building hand strength and coordination. You can use cookie cutters as stencils and have your kids trace around the inside (or outside). Another idea is to play cookie cutter fishing. All you need is a bin or bowl with water and a pipe cleaner fishing pole so the kids can “fish” cookie cutters from water. Using cookie cutters is an excellent way to play with play doh as well.

 

  1. Craft a holiday card: My kids are really into cutting and identifying shapes these days. If you have construction papers, scissors and glue, you can outline simple designs that your kids can cut and glue on a sturdy paper. If your kids are old enough, they can write a short message to their cousins or grandparents. They can also help you prepare the mailing envelope.

 

  1. Have an at-home spa day: My kids love taking a bath. You can add extra bubbles or turn on a relaxing song. You can also lay out bathrobes nicely for them. If you really want to spice up their bath experience, you can add a bath bomb that brings endless fun, unique scent, exciting fizz and vibrant color to the tub.

 

What are some indoor activities you enjoy in December with your kids? Please feel free to share!

My Best of Book List for 2020

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Earlier this year I thought I would grace you all with my booklist for the year, but then the pandemic hit and I read nearly twice as many books as I did the year before (about 42). I won’t give you a whole list but I thought a nice best of would give you some direction if you’re looking for something new!

Best reread:

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Why yes, I comfort re-read Outlander, and I watched several episodes of the show (wedding episode can get it). I read it toward the beginning of the pandemic and have already considered reading it again. If you’ve never given yourself the pleasure, I highly suggest it. I do not suggest reading any of the other books in the series!

Best nonfiction:

The Last Boat Out of Shanghai by Helen Zia

I read a surprising amount of non-fiction this year, but this harrowing biography of Chinese citizens escaping the country on the verge of communism is fantastic (if you’re really into Chinese history, which I am).

Funniest Book:

Stiff by Mary Roach

This is a book all about what happens to dead bodies. Somehow it is both hilarious and completely respectful to its subject matter.

Best Guilty Pleasure:

Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer

I’m zero percent embarrassed that I read this book. I enjoyed every teen drama filled moment of Edward monologue-ing about killing his future wife. Could it have been 300 pages less? Absolutely. But it was so so good/bad.

Best sequel:

The Testements by Margaret Atwood

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel and to be honest, I think I liked it better than The Handmaid’s Tale *hides from crowd*

Best memoir:

When Life Gives You Pears by Jeannie Gaffigan

Sorry Michelle Obama. I generally don’t go out of my way to read sad books or cancer books or even inspirational story books but I am all about this memoir. Jeannie survived brain cancer and has 5 kids. This book was also hilarious because she is hilarious.

Best book of the year:

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

I can’t speak enough about how much I enjoyed this book. I blindly checked it out, read it in a day and then told everyone to read it. You should read it.

What’s your top book list?

11 Things That Don’t Suck About Being Pregnant During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Currently, I am sitting in my home office, halfway through my third pregnancy. There was foresight and decision making that when into choosing to become pregnant during a pandemic (no, we aren’t just another pandemic pregnancy!) but some amazing words from a friend/birth worker put us at ease and we went ahead with growing our family. While things are unknown and crazy (I currently am not sure where I’ll be allowed to deliver) there have been some really amazing things about being pregnant during a pandemic.

1. It’s quick

I  have never felt a pregnancy go by so quickly. Remember how April took forever but suddenly it’s the end of the year? It somehow has been that way with this pregnancy. Suddenly I am very big and need to start making plans.

2. Maternity pants are optional

Maternity pants, or any pants, are optional. I have three good pairs of maternity pants, but am I going to waste my time in jeans right now? No. Currently, I’m wearing elephant pants. If I run out of tops that fit, no one in my house cares about my underbelly being out.

3. Total Privacy

I have four bump buddies that are not currently public with their pregnancies- each one informed me via text. At this point, I think they should all just stay that way and show up with a baby in April (because I think it would be hilarious). Since no one is going anywhere we only know what social media tells us.

4. Naps

Due to the pandemic, I had to quit my job back in May. Finances aside, the huge upside to this is that I can nap whenever I need to. I’ve always worked through pregnancy and early childhood and not working is AMAZING. I normally also have incredible back pain which hasn’t been as much a problem this time (probably due to all the laying around I can do)

5. Curb Side

Curbside pick up and porch delivery is everything right now. Sometimes it can be a pain, but not having to get out of the car, with two kids and a beached whale really makes it worth it. Same with contactless pick up for second-hand baby items. I’m not too much of an introvert, but even I appreciate not having to interact with people sometimes.

6. Comfort Eating

I started this pandemic making and eating whatever I want and I have continued this trend. My girlfriend’s three year old had a cookie cake for her birthday (via social media) and I decided I needed one likewise. It’s fine, everyone has gained weight these last few months.

7. Lack of appointments

I’m not actually sure if this is a pro or con. On one hand, I love my midwives and I think it’s completely bonkers that I’ve only seen them twice this whole pregnancy. On the other, if they aren’t worried, I shouldn’t be either. I have other things to do, cookies to eat, and naps to take.

8. Flexible appointments

On top of not having that much to go to, I’m super flexible about when I can go to things because of that whole no work thing. The only downside is that I can’t take my kids to any of these appointments so that part is a juggle.

9. Reliable partner

My husband has been working from home full time or part-time since March. There is nothing like having another adult around when I can no longer function.

10. Time

Time is on my side here. I have nothing but time to get everything I need and to prepare our house and family for its new addition. Nesting started early and so did birth talk with our kids. We spent most of the first half watching Call the Midwife with the kids and I think they grasp the concept, as well as they, are able.

11. Everyone is in the same limbo

What are you doing for New Year’s Eve? Probably the same thing I’m doing. How about this weekend? Oh, same. If I’m feeling up for it, maybe we’ll go on a hike. I might do a craft or read a book. In the evening my husband and I might watch as much Grey’s Anatomy as we can stand. I’m not missing out on anything over here and aside from the lack of alcohol or my constant need to pee, it won’t look any different from anyone else until baby girl is ready to come on out. It might sound silly, but it’s a huge comfort.

Toddler communication | Magic words that help me get my way (most of the time)

As most of us know, toddlers are tricky. They can communicate their wants, they don’t fully understand their emotions, and their highs can turn to lows in an instant (and vice versa). They are also so full of love and wonder and curiosity. In trying to understand my two and a half year old better, I’ve been experimenting with words and phrases to get him to work with us instead of against us. Here’s what is working… for now.

I’ll do it. 

If I ask him to do something and he says no. I just throw out a little “I guess I’ll do it…” and all of sudden his little body perks up and he knows that he just has to do it himself. “No, I’ll do it. I’ll do it.” And he’s on his way to put away a toy, throw out some trash or pick up a mess. Thank you, emerging independence.

Listen to your body.

Asking him if he has to go #1 or #2 NEVER works. He always says no, even though I can see him wiggling over yonder… I started to say “listen to your body, it will tell you if you have to go.” Sometimes, I see him think through that statement and he’ll make his way to the bathroom. Other times, I catch him as he struts out of the bathroom saying “someone listened to their body.”

No, thank you.

We’re still working on this going both ways. If we do something that he doesn’t like, he’ll say “No, thank you” and we stop. It’s usually if he’s not in the mood for a hug or a cuddle or if we are bugging him while he’s focused. However, when used in reverse on something that we don’t want him to do such as hitting, throwing or kicking, we say the same “no thank you.” We need a little more consistency here.

Choice A or B.

This one is probably well known throughout toddler management circles, but giving our kid a choice between the baseball shirt or the shark shirt really helps him focus on the decision in front of him. He has less opportunity to say no (though he does at times) while still giving him control.

We’re working together.

When he is over the top with energy or just doesn’t seem to do what we want, we try to make the point that we are working together and a team. He likes to be part of the family team so this one works most of the time.

Of course, it’s always a work in progress and their issues change ever week. I am always looking for more tips on how to successfully communicate with a toddler, especially when it comes to manhandling baby sisters (or brothers). Feel free to share any other magic words. Many of us could benefit from them!

Presents Your Kids’ Teachers Actually Want

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The holidays can be a busy and rushed time for all of us, and one person, in particular, is someone you shouldn’t forget to acknowledge – your kids’ teachers. Now, I’m not telling you to go out and buy them something amazingly expensive to show your appreciation. But this person is with your child frequently enough that there should be some way to show your thanks.

If you’re keeping tabs on me, you know that in the last 10 years I have taught preschool to 6th grade. I hope this offers some insight into the knowledge I have to impart to you.

Today, I present to you, 4 gifts your child’s teacher actually wants, and 1 they definitely don’t:

1. Special treats

The holidays are full of cookies and cakes- and in general, elementary classrooms always seem to be full of cupcakes. I love sugar but I really try to keep self-control for all the delicious things I’ll be eating later. It can be fun to make a teacher a special treat but remember that they’re adults and it doesn’t always need to be candy. I’ve had students bring culturally thoughtful gifts like fry bread and tamales.

I’ve also had a mom come and ask me what my favorite hot beverage was. This is my favorite teacher appreciation gift story. I don’t drink coffee and I’m not a fan of major chains. So moms who have the foresight to not assume and to ask first are the best! This mom one day, randomly brought me a chai from a local cafe. It was incredibly thoughtful and a great pick me up. Homemade sweets are great, but keep in mind it will either be shared or it will be eaten as much as you could probably stand to eat so many sweets.

2. Plants or flowers

There’s something I enjoy about getting a live plant as a gift. Plants brighten rooms and help children understand how to take care of them. I could honestly tell you about every plant I’ve received from a student – I have also killed all of them (I’m not a great plant person). Flowers are also great, you get to enjoy them and appreciate them and then they die. They’re quick and simple. They work in a classroom or at home.

3. Gift Cards

If you really want to go all out, go for gift cards. I’ve received movie tickets, bookstores, and coffee shop gift cards. Look for clues as to what the teacher is interested in and go from there. Gift cards are great because people can get what they truly want. And it’s not like teaching is a high paying gig!

4. Personal messages

You don’t need to spend money to thank a teacher. There is nothing compared to a genuine and sincere thank you card from your family. Teachers love things that are from the heart and show actual appreciation. Teaching is exhausting and frequently can feel pretty thankless. Let your child’s teacher know that not only are they doing a great job but that you are so thankful that your child spends time with them day in and day out.

Finally, what do teachers not want this season?

Definitely, knick knacks. It’s so sweet to get things like mugs that say “Best Teacher Ever” but what are you supposed to do with say, 8 similar items? I’m not a fan of clutter, and classrooms are busy enough as it is without adding a figurine. While you’re preparing for teacher, asking yourself, “what if every student brought this?”

I would never be opposed to 28 gift cards or tamales.

What are your holiday go-to’s for your child’s teacher?

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Introducing Wee Scotty Sewing & Craft Boutique: Your new downtown source...

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Lynne Gallagher, Wee Scotty owner, and master seamstress formed the idea for Wee Scotty while sewing on her machine with her infant daughter sitting...