Posts Tagged ‘Summertime’

Using Technology to Make the Most of Summer

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

Boy using laptop outdoor

I’m not sure if you’ll see this as good news or bad news, but friends, summer break is almost here. Yes, it’s true. Those little people who eat so much food and make even bigger messes? They are going to be home for a solid 10 to 12 weeks, and they are going to need something to keep them occupied.

My almost-second-grader is a girl after my own heart these days and totally into books. That means our schedule is filling up with library events, reading programs and make-your-own bookmark craft projects. But eventually she’ll need a break from books (gasp! why?! I KNOW.), and then it’s time to figure out other ways to spend our summer days.

Now, obviously our summer and yours will involve lots of outdoor play, pool time, baseball games and the like. Even if – like me – you’re a little indoorsy, sunshine and swing sets and sandboxes and sweat seem to be required summer ingredients. Even if the siren call of our friends Netflix and Kindle is loud. Right?

So the question becomes: How can we balance our use of technology during summer break?

Great ideas, advice & tips on using technology during the summertime with your family from Mary Carver via

I’ve found that we use technology in four ways during family time (or Mama-is-working-so-find-something-quiet-to-do time).

Watching. Obviously this is the most passive of uses for the wonderful world of technology. From episodes of Kitchen Crashers saved on the DVR (my daughter’s latest obsession) to silly, G-rated clips on YouTube, it’s nearly impossible to run out of things to watch online. That’s why I work hard to keep track of her screen time (and mine) so we don’t overdo it and turn into Screen Zombies!

TIP: PBS, Disney, Nickelodeon and Sprout have free apps that show full episodes of your kids’ favorite shows.

Playing. Are your kids into Minecraft? If so, you can probably skip this one, because you are covered. My daughter hasn’t discovered Minecraft yet, though, so we have to look hard for appropriate games. Games that don’t require spending money to get to level three. Most the games we’ve found require just about as much brainpower as watching an episode of The Odd Squad on our PBS app, so I count games with her other screen time.

TIP: Don’t forget to adjust your settings so purchases require a password.

Learning. Now, learning games? THOSE I can get behind. (Even for myself, not that it’s a real hardship to “force” myself to play Trivia Crack instead of Candy Swipe…) My daughter knows the way to convince me to allow a little more time with the Kindle is to play an educational game, but she doesn’t mind the compromise anymore than I do. Tons of games that really do teach kids are out there – and many of them are free. One I plan to encourage her to play this summer is from PBS Kids, and it has several ways to teach her how to count money (something she hasn’t mastered just yet).

TIP: Your kids’ school is a great resource for educational websites, especially ones that they’re already familiar with. My daughter begs to play ABC Ya or read with Raz Kids, and we log on through her school’s website or with her teacher’s username and password. So find out about your options before school’s out!

Researching. When I was a kid and had a question about something my parents didn’t know (or wanted me to learn on my own), they always said the same thing: “Look it up.” Back then, that meant going to our shelf of World Book Encyclopedias. Not so much these days! Today if I tell my daughter we need to look up some information (she’s still a little young to do it herself, although she’ll be on her own soon), she knows we’re heading to Google, Wikipedia, Pinterest or another website.

TIP: In addition to looking up facts about whales, recipes for popsicles and the history of LEGOs, you and your kids can also look up community events or reserve books at the library.

Child playing video game with father

A Few More Tips & Ideas:

For older kids, technology is certainly going to be used for keeping in touch with friends. But even the youngest kids can Skype with grandparents or help you send a thank-you email after a play date.

One way to make sure your whole family is getting enough activity is with a device that measures your steps. Set a daily goal for each family member or even launch a friendly competition throughout the summer! Whether you use an app, a Fitbit, or a pedometer from the discount store, the point is to be more mindful of how much you – and your kids – move, and to encourage each other to do a little more.

And, of course, family night doesn’t always have to revolve around a movie or board game (those are the go-to activities at our house). Break out that Wii Fit, LeapTV or XBox Kinect – and break a sweat together!

Last but not least, summer is a great time to start discussions about safety. Remind your kids that not everything on the internet is healthy for them, and help them learn a few family rules about what you share online and what you do not. And as you tug the Gameboy (or whatever is cool these days…I CAN’T KEEP UP!) out of their hands and point them toward the backyard or the baseball field, use that opportunity to make talk about balance (and not turning into that Screen Zombie!) part of your regular conversations.

How do you plan to use technology during summer break?


Pin It

DIY Herb Garden and Garden Markers

Monday, June 16th, 2014

From our diy/craft contributor, Sarah Milne.

DIY Herb Garden with DIY Herb Markers
After a very long, cold winter here in Calgary, we’ve been graced with beautiful sunshine. I think we actually skipped Spring and went straight to Summer here. My children use every ounce of warm sun outside in the backyard jumping on the trampoline and blowing bubbles. And our yard work and landscaping projects are in full swing.

DIY Herb Garden Markers 2 ways
This past week, while my husband worked on building a bench and planter for our deck, the girls and I worked on our herb garden. The IKEA Socker plant stand is the perfect addition to our outdoor space, home to 10 potted herbs and 3 marigolds for each of my children. I purchased the full grown herbs because frankly, I’m impatient. The Socker was easy to build, stands next to our back door, and the base tucks under our vinyl siding for added support so it won’t topple over in a strong wind.

Above the stand, I spray painted some little letters I found on clearance at Michaels. They’re attached using some heavy duty outdoor double sided tape and so far, they’ve survived the heat and a handful of thundershowers.

IKEA socker herb wall


DIY Herb Garden Markers Supplies
We crafted two sets of fun, DIY herb markers – one for keeps and one to gift. Here are the steps to create your own diy herb markers:

1. Herb Garden Markers : Monogram Popsicle Sticks

What you need:

Jumbo wooden popsicle sticks
Spray paint: we used bubble gum pink from our garage
Wooden letters: Michaels scrapbook section
Gorilla glue

What you do:

1. Spray paint the popsicle sticks. I only painted one side.
2. Let dry.
3. Glue monogram letters to the popsicle sticks to represent each herb. Luckily I hadn’t any duplicates with the same letter. Let dry.
4. You can also jot down what the herb’s full name is on the back of the stick using a sharpie.
5. Stick the garden markers in your herb pots.

DIY Herb Garden Markers 2 ways

2. Herb Garden Markers : Vinyl Flags

What you need:

Vinyl fabric
Wooden coffee stir sticks : dollar store
Spray paint: we used cream white from our garage
Ruler, paper, scissors, or fabric cutter
Gorilla glue or hot glue

What you do:

1. Spray paint the stir sticks. I only painted one side.
2. Let dry.
3. Create a triangle template for your flag from the paper.
4. Cut your triangles from your vinyl fabric using your template.
5. Write your herb names on each flag with sharpie. Let dry.
6. Adhere the flags to the stir sticks using gorilla glue or hot glue. Let dry.
7. Stick the garden markers in your herb pots.

DIY Chalkboard pot and DIY herb garden markers
We made this set with intentions of gifting them along with a potted herb. I painted a terracotta pot using chalkboard paint and doodled with a chalk marker. Such a sweet, reusable gift for the end of the school year or just because…

Gardening is a hobby I love sharing with my children. My oldest absolutely LOVES to help. The herbs are small and easy for her to take care of. She especially loves to trim a little off for dinners. My 3 year old checks our giant strawberry plant each morning to see if there’s any red ones to pick.

Happy Summer!

kids and gardening


DIY IKEA herb garden

Pin It