Magnetic Checklists

Start the school year off on the right foot by giving your kids a magnetic checklist. This tactile approach to a checklist offers strong visual indicators of their progress and will help keep them on track!

These magnetic checklists are perfect for setting up a morning routine, an after school checklist, a bedtime routine, or a chore chart. You can even easily print your own magnets! Get it here.

Perfect for setting up a morning routine, an after school checklist, a bedtime routine, or a chore chart. You can even easily print your own magnets!

 

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3 Printable Checklists Every Family Needs

The Trip Clip has a lot of tools to help your family get off to a great start this school year.

Get organized for the new school year with these 3 picture checklists.

Get organized for back to school with this drag and drop morning routine maker.

Get organized for back to school with this drag and drop morning routine maker. You can easily add your own items to the list, or edit the text to make it just right for your kids.

The pictures make it easy for big and little kids to know what needs to be done next. And you will stop being a drill sergeant shouting out orders!

Try it now!

Get organized for back to school by creating your own after school screen time rules.

You can use the custom checklist maker to create your own after school screen time rules. Clear expectations can help you avoid daily battles over screen time and keep your kids on track.

Try it now!

Get organized for back to school with this drag and drop bedtime routine maker.

A bedtime routine can do wonders for helping your kids feel safe and get them settled for sleeping.

Use the drag and drop tool to create a bedtime routine that’s just right for your family.

Try it now!

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Beat the Summer Slide

Studies have shown that kids perform better on tests at the end of the school year than they do at the beginning of the next school year – all those months off really do take their toll. Help your kids brush up on some important skills before they return to school in the fall with these educational Trip Clip Activities.

You can customize and print worksheets that are just right for your child's age and abilities. A little practice can help them the the year on the right foot!

Help your kids prepare for the upcoming school year with some math practice. You can print addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division worksheets that are super easy, or super hard, or anything in-between.

 

 

Help your kids prepare for the upcoming school year with some math practice. You can print addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division worksheets that are super easy, or super hard, or anything in-between.

Try it now!

Help your kids prepare for the upcoming school year with some spelling practice! Use grade-appropriate words and create your own puzzles!

 

 

Help your kids prepare for the upcoming school year with some spelling practice! Use grade-appropriate words and create your own puzzles.

Try it now!

The Trip Clip lets you print out worksheets with the full alphabet (upper and lower case), numbers 0-9, and custom words and phrases. Have them trace their name and phone number, or their favorite movie character’s names to make it more meaningful.

 

The Trip Clip lets you print out worksheets with the full alphabet (upper and lower case), numbers 0-9, and custom words and phrases. Have them trace their name and phone number, or their favorite movie character’s names to make it more meaningful.

Try it now!

Having your kids write their own book is wonderful writing practice. These simple templates are a great way to get inspired – ask your kids to write about something they did this summer.

 

 

Having your kids write their own book is wonderful writing practice. These simple templates are a great way to get inspired. Print out a set of pages, staple them together into a book, and ask your kids to write about something they did this summer.

Try it now!

And there is nothing that beats reading to help kids avoid the summer slide. Here are some great resources for kids of all ages:

How to encourage summer reading

Try this unique summer reading challenge for kids. Use The Trip Clip Custom List to add your own fun ideas and inspire your kids to read in a fun and somewhat silly way. It just might work!

Book recommendations

For kids who like the familiar, books series are a great choice. These are all excellent choices!For kids who like the familiar, books series are a great choice. These are all excellent choices!Excellent books for science fiction and animal loving pre-teens

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Embrace Screen Time This Summer – Connect

Are your kids asking for screen time all the time now that school is out?  Surprise them and tell them yes!  They can pick from any one of these activities that help them connect with others using screens:

Say YES to screen time! There are lots of good ideas here, or you can edit these to add your own.

Although kids can sometimes seem to disappear into their screens, we shouldn’t forget the wonderful way computers have helped us stay connected.  I love how much easier it is to stay connected to my family, compared to when my only choices were long distance phone calls or snail mail (which we just called “mail” back then).  Embrace the screens by using them to keep your kids connected to their friends and family.

I also firmly believe that our kids’ generation will be working remotely (rather than in person) far more often than our generation has. The skills they gain by learning to communicate and collaborate via voice chat, video chat, and texts are going to serve them well in their work lives down the road.

grandparents
Skype With Family

Skype is a wonderful tool – you can use it to text chat, voice chat, or video chat. There are other similar options you can use as well, like FaceTime or Facebook Messenger. Your kids can have a conversation with Grandma that will make everyone feel much closer together. I still get surprised by how much more connection you can get from a video call. My college roommate moved recently, so we used FaceTime on our phones so she could show me her new house even though I wasn’t able to visit. It makes a huge difference to be able to visualize where she lives now.

mail
Email Relatives

I love having my kids use email – not only do they stay more connected with relatives, but they practice their writing and typing skills as well.  They prefer to use email instead of handwriting thank you notes to their grandparents, and it’s a nice way for them to keep in touch with relatives who don’t live nearby.

This year one of my son’s good friends moved away, and we plan to have them become email pen pals so they can stay in touch. They will be practicing writing and typing skills, as well as learn about how to maintain a friendship even when they no longer live near each other.

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Connect With Friends

I’ve read many articles that talk about how excessive screen time is making kids less socially capable. I see the opposite with my kids. They use Skype to chat with friends on the computer. My older son uses his phone for group texts with friends which let them share jokes, be silly, and arrange to meet up in real life. I think this is the future of how people will communicate, and I’m glad my kids are learning and practicing these skills now when I can help provide some oversight.

Instead of restricting all screen time, notice the ways that those connections with others are strengthened by their devices. And take the opportunity to have lots of conversations with your kids about good ways and bad ways to communicate electronically!  We stick to two primary messages at our house:

  1. If you wouldn’t say it to your friend’s face, don’t say it digitally.
  2. Everything you share on the Internet is permanent. If you don’t want a future college admissions officer or boss to read it, don’t post it.

kids
Play Cooperative Games Online

I was worried at first about letting my kids play online games with their friends, but after dipping our toes in years ago, we’ve expanded their online game experiences and have been very pleased with how it has gone. They aren’t sitting alone in a dark room getting lost in their screen all alone, they are chatting with their friends and working together to coordinate their efforts and solve problems.

Minecraft in particular has been an especially popular online game at our house, though there are others they enjoy (like Portal, Ark, Terraria, and Clash of Clans). Over the years playing Minecraft, they have worked with friends to build things together like roller coasters and underwater houses. They have built communities where each person specializes in a skill or resource requiring them to trade and barter. We’ve watched them handle the situation where one friend in the group stole resources while others weren’t online.  They are interacting with each other, creating things, and dealing with different personalities and conflicts, all in an online setting.

When my kids are adults and need to work with people at other companies in other states or even other countries, they will have some good skills under their belts already about how to effectively communicate, collaborate, and be productive online.

And if you are worried about their safety when playing games online, here are a few things we’ve done to make sure our kids stay safe:

  • We always try the games ourselves so we know how violent they are, and whether or not the community playing the game is a good, friendly community.
  • When possible, we set up our own, private server that the kids can invite their friends to, so that they are only playing with people they personally invite, not with the Internet at large.
  • When they do play on public servers, we evaluate the online chatter. If it’s inappropriate, we either say no to the game, or we allow the kids to play but we turn off the ‘chat’ feature for the game so that they are not exposed to inappropriate language or behavior.
  • We talk to them often about the kinds of things they hear online, and whether or not they are comfortable with the language and tone of the chatter.  This is helpful both for limiting games that have too much inappropriate content or chatter, and also as a teaching tool for online behaviors that they don’t like shouldn’t emulate.
  • We talk to them often about what is and is not OK to tell people online.
  • They only play games within our earshot, so we can always hear their side of any chatting they’re doing.

homework
Coordinate School Projects

There might not be school projects to coordinate over the summer, but you can encourage your kids to use their devices to work on a joint project with a friend. Help them think of something they might want to make together – a movie, a summer business to earn some money, or even a LEGO creation. They can use screens and online communication to make progress even when they can’t be together physically. Give it a try – you might be surprised by how much all of you learn!

 

Say YES to screen time! There are lots of good ideas here, or you can edit these to add your own.

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Embrace Screen Time This Summer – Make It Educational

Are your kids asking for screen time all the time now that school is out?  Surprise them and tell them yes!  They can pick from any one of these excellent educational activities using screens. You can also easily edit this list to make it just right for your family.

Say YES to screen time! There are lots of good ideas here, or you can edit these to add your own.

Math Games

Digital devices were practically made for enabling fun math games. There are tons of good choices out there – the real problem is finding the good ones. You have to be careful because some of them are too focused on the game and not enough on the math.

Here are 3 compilation websites that have good suggestions for math games. I recommend trying a bunch of them, and bookmarking the ones you and your kids like the best:

Math Game Time

Cool Mom Tech

Edutopia

Current events

Many adults these days get their news on their devices, so this is a habit we can begin teaching our kids now. Here are some good current events websites for kids.  Have your kids pick one article each day to read and then tell you about it.

DogoNews

Teaching Kids News

Tween Tribune

Science discoveries

If your kids want screen time, tell them to use a screen to learn about a latest scientific discovery. Amazing things are happening in the world of science all the time, and teaching kids to use their screens to keep abreast of the latest developments is great for them and for society!

You can start by simply following NASA on Instagram. The images and information they post are wonderful.

I also recommend the website Science News for Kids. There are lots of videos to watch, colorful pictures, and easy to read articles about all things science.

Read an eBook

Your kids will feel like they’re getting away with something by getting to use a screen to read a book. Many libraries will now let you check out eBooks, so this doesn’t need to break the bank.  You can also teach your kids about the wonders of using the Internet to find great new books to read. Check out my blog post about this.

If your kids need more encouragement to think this is fun, let them have screen time in the dark by reading at night on an iPad. They can even build an eBook fort for special reading time on their special device. Seriously – this works!

Programming

In the future, more and more jobs are going to require a basic knowledge of how to use and even program a computer. You can easily get started at home with some fun games and software.

Avatar Generation has some fun apps and games to try that promote coding skills.

Scratch is a great tool for kids who are just starting to learn to program computers.

Code.org is a wonderful website to learning coding skills.

Research

The Internet has a wealth of great information on virtually any subject you can think of. Have your kids use a screen to research any topic they’re interested in. They will be practicing their research, skimming, and reading skills, while learning about something they care about. Ask them to name something they’re interested in – horses, archery, trains, basketball, whatever they want. Then tell them to go learn three new things about that topic and come back to you with what they learned.  If they need more incentive, have them create a board game about the topic, write a children’s story about it, create a photo story with captions, write a skit about it, create a trivia game to play at dinner – play to their interests and you’ll hit on something that won’t feel like work to them.

Kids can definitely get too much screen time, especially time spent vegging out or playing endless games. But screens can also connect your kids to a wealth of information that just wasn’t available when we were kids. Learn how to harness those screens and teach your kids how much more there is out there than games!

Say YES to screen time! There are lots of good ideas here, or you can edit these to add your own.

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Embrace Screen Time This Summer: Be Creative

Are your kids asking for screen time all the time now that school is out?  Surprise them and tell them yes!  They can pick from any one of these excellent creative activities using screens. You can also easily edit this list to make it just right for your family.

Say YES to screen time! There are lots of good ideas here, or you can edit these to add your own.

Although my kids do spend a lot of time on screens, I comfort myself with the knowledge that many of the skills that they are gaining really are skills that they can use in the real world. With a little encouragement, they can be geared towards screen time that will help them gain the right kinds of skills. This blog post is all about how digital devices can promote creativity.

There are plenty of artists who still paint with paper and brush, take pictures with film cameras, or write music using a guitar or a piano. But as our world becomes more digital, more and more artists are enhancing their art digitally, or even creating it digitally.

In the business world, presentations, videos, marketing materials etc are largely created digitally.

Even at school, my kids are using their computers to create materials for presentations and reports online more and more often.

So instead of saying no to screen time, try asking your kids to use a screen to be creative, or to enhance their creativity. Just remember, art is never wrong! Let your child explore these tools and their personal vision to create whatever they want.

art-palette
Painting and Drawing

There are many ways kids can use digital tools to create visual art.

  • There are lots of great drawing apps on the iPad. Here are some recommendations.
  • Drawing games can be fun and educational. My family likes to play Draw Something on the iPad. It might seem like just a game, but expressing yourself visually so that someone else can understand what you’re drawing is actually a good skill to gain!
  • Understanding how to use digital paint tools like Paint.NET (you can download it for free here) is a great skill to have. Kids can use this tool for homework projects too. Ask them to create a picture on the computer, or make a hybrid picture that they draw on paper, transfer to the computer (by scanning it or photographing it), and then adding digital effects online.
  • You may also want to start with a picture they create on the computer, print it, and then add to it with crayons, markers, or any medium they like. This could be as simple as drawing a picture on the computer and then coloring it on paper. But your kids may have wonderful ideas about to extend this concept in ways that never even occurred to you.

camera
Taking Pictures

Photography these days is one of the art forms that has become the most digital. If your kids want screen time, send them on a walk with your phone to record their outing. Give them a goal (take pictures of 10 living things,) or just let them snap away at whatever they find beautiful. Teach them about framing a picture, taking close-ups, lighting the shot. With a phone they can take as many pictures as they want to get practice and find the beauty in the world around them. There are also lots of apps for having fun with and manipulating digital photos. Your kids can also learn about editing photos for color, brightness, red eye correction, cropping, and much, much more! There are so many photo editing tools out there you won’t have any trouble finding a good one.

movie
Making a Movie

Digital devices have made movie making accessible to everyone, even very young kids!

  • To start, they can simply record video using your phone or an iPad. Have them write a script and try to tell a story with the videos they record.
  • For something a little different, have them make a stop motion video using an iPhone or iPad and their toys – LEGO works great for this. Stop Motion Studio is a really good app for making stop motion videos that even young kids can master.
  • Help them move their videos to a computer, and use an editing tool like Windows Movie Maker or iMovie to edit their video.
  • Encourage them to find or create their own audio for their movie. You may all be surprised by how much difference good audio makes! And they’ll have a blast searching for and listening to all the crazy sounds they can choose from to make just the right ‘kersplat’ sound.

book
Write a Story

Having your kids write a story on a computer when they ask for screen time is a great compromise. It can feel like screen time to your kids when really they are working on their language skills, story telling ability, and even their typing! Give them a lot of free rein to help make it fun – they can play with the fonts, colors, and page layout, or use an online thesaurus. Scholastic.com has a wonderful story starter website to help get your kids on the right track. Taking the time to turn their creation into a physical book they can hold, draw pictures for, and make a cover for (on the computer of course!) will also help be more fun for them. You can find good instructions for doing this here or here.

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Music

Making digital music is a little trickier because you need more tools, but there are some easy ways to get started:

  • Your kids can play an instrument, or simply sing, and record themselves using a mobile phone.
  • Many digital keyboards can record the music you make, or upload it to the computer.
  • A microphone can be plugged into your computer to record voice or any instrument. Here’s a digital microphone that might help you get started.
  • You can use apps to compose music.  Try Notation Pad on your iPhone or iPad.
  • Kids can use software to mix tracks.  Some high quality free tools are Pro Tools | First and Audacity.

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Play a Creative Game

And finally, even video games can promote creativity. Anyone who has listened closely to an involved story from a kid who has been playing Minecraft can attest to this. For many reasons (see my post about working collaboratively online for more on this) I do not consider time playing Minecraft equal to time spent watching a TV show. Not all screen time is equal. TV watching is very passive screen time, but games like Minecraft that don’t necessarily have an end goal are wonderful for encouraging creativity. Minecraft is a building game (think LEGOs), except it’s online, and the only limits for what you can build are your imagination. Like LEGOs, you are limited by the blocks that are available in the game, but if you can think outside the box (literally), you can do crazy fun things. Check out this list of impressive creations, including a playable guitar!

Say YES to screen time! There are lots of good ideas here, or you can edit these to add your own.

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Step 6: Summer Schedule

Step 6 is about making a loose schedule for your days.  You can plan time for all the things you want to fit in this summer – fun activities as well as reading time, or chores, or whatever is important to you this summer. You don’t have to follow it to the T every day, but a little structure can be great for everyone.

If you haven’t yet, look through the first 5 steps so that you know what things you want to include in your Summer Schedule:

Once you know what your goals are, you can set up a schedule that gives your days a little rhythm.

Whether you're trying to accomplish learning goals, or make sure you have time to work, or just save your sanity, a summer schedule, even a loose one, can work wonders.
For me, I want to make sure that chores like walking the dog and emptying the dishwasher happen early in the day. And I like to use the mornings to get some work done, so I put screen time and play outside time right after chores so that I will have time to focus on the things I need to do. I also really wanted to schedule in time for the kids to help with dinner so I can get them into that habit which I hope to continue during the next school year.

Whether you’re trying to accomplish learning goals, or make sure you have time to work, or just save your sanity, a summer schedule can work wonders.  You can use The Trip Clip Custom List to create a schedule that’s just right for your family.

If a daily schedule isn’t your thing, you might trying setting a weekly plan instead:

With The Trip Clip’s weekly schedule, you can easily create your own version of this chart with ideas of all sorts of fun things you can do this summer – use it to set goals, make a bucket list, or encourage them to find their own entertainment!

With The Trip Clip’s weekly schedule, you can easily create your own version of this chart with ideas of all sorts of fun things you can do this summer.

If you create a summer schedule that works great for your family, send it to me at molly@thetripclip.com.  I’d love to see it!

A little planning and organization can turn a good summer into a great one.

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