Friday, July 6, 2012

Artistic Kids Travel Pack

In the past, I have posted a few ideas to keep travel fun for kids.  My daughter is very interested in writing and drawing so I am always looking for ideas to keep her happy both in a car and on an airplane.  This is one that I started a couple of years ago and I have stuck with it!  I just refresh it before every trip and it has worked like a charm.  Plus - it's the perfect size for a backpack and the limited space they have to use it while traveling.  

I started out with a different case.  It was about the same size but less expensive.  However, after one trip it started to fall apart....  I found this one at a Michaels craft store in the scrap booking area.  A little more pricy but with a coupon it wasn't too bad.  Plus, I have been using them for over a year and haven't had any problems with it.  The latches were a little hard for my kids to open but they have no problems with it now.  

I used some paints (mostly paint pens) to personalize the boxes with their names and things that they like.  They love the personalization and it helps me keep track of which case belongs to who.  That is important to me because my kids are at different levels of interest and age so what goes in them isn't exactly the same.  Plus, it makes for less fuss when they have their own!

Suggested items to go in the case:

Road Trip Bingo
Clip board (I found these little ones that I love but they can use the case as a board)
Notebooks to write or draw in - both lined (for writing) and blank pages (for drawing)
Colored pencils
Pencil sharpener
Small coloring book
Small game books (I found this age appropriate word search for my daughter)
Map of where you are traveling (my kids love to follow along on road trips)

My son isn't as interested in drawing and he is not writing yet so I usually skip the lined paper for him and add a hot wheels car.  It keeps him happy :-)

Also, since I have two kids I divide some things up.  For example, my son (who is the youngest) gets the markers and my daughter gets colored pencils.  Thankfully they share really well!

Last years pencil boxes for school.

I am NOT an artist!!!  But, anyone can decorate these!  Since I used see through cases it was easy!  Just tape the picture you want to the underside and trace it!!  Here's some examples of recent pencil boxes I made for my kids to take to school.

Check out that butterfly!  I could never do that on my own!

This year they need a lot more supplies and do not have desks!
So, I decided to give them larger cases to held their personal items.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Personalized Children's Books

For a few years now I have considered the option of ordering personalized books for my children.  You know, the ones where there is a story in a real book but their names are added in as a character.  Every year I have passed up the idea because the cost was high or the books just weren't appealing enough to get me through the ordering process.

One day I was offered a Groupon for a personalized book from I See Me.  The picture that was featured was for the "My Very Own Pirate Tale".  My son LOVES pirates and his birthday was not far away so it really caught my attention!  After I checked out the website ( I was convinced this was worth the time and money.  Well, I also got a great deal through Groupon which made it even more appealing.

I will start with the book I ordered for my son but I was most impressed with the option I found for my daughter.  So make sure you read this posting all the way through!

So, here is the book:

Each letter in his name coordinates with a sea creature so every story that is ordered can be different!  I decided to pay a little extra to have his middle name added too.  There are many kids that have the same first name but not any that we know who have the same first and middle names.  Plus, this added more to the story.

They provide a list of all the creatures in the back of the book so you don't miss out.

Now here is the book that I am really impressed by!  I ordered "The World According to Me" book for my daughter.  She is a little older than my son and I felt ready for this.  Plus, she's not really into princess and girly stuff so a lot of the girl books weren't a great fit for her.

Here's the process:  you order the book (can be done as a gift too) and pay for it.  The person getting the book will receive a package/kit in a really nice box.

What it looked like when we opened it.
The kit includes:  markers, a pre-paid return envelope, a questionnaire, some pages to draw on, and some extra pages incase there was a mistake.

You complete everything as asked and send it all in the return envelope.  The questionnaire will ask things like who their friends are, who do they love and why, and what do they want to be when they grow up.

You can also add a note that will be printed on the final page of the book from the person(s) who is gifting the book.

When you send in the package there is a form that allows you to order additional copies ($29.95 each plus shipping), order a keepsake book jacket to keep the book in ($5.95), or you can include a picture of your child (that you will get back later) to have added to the title page of the book (I paid $4.95).  The pricing is all based on what I was quoted during my purchase but of course may be different at the time that you place an order.

It took a few weeks but here is the final book.  I was very impressed!!!

One of the questions asked my daughter if she was a superhero, what power would she have?  Then she had to draw a picture of it.  There were a lot of cute opportunities like this that really showcased her at that specific age!

I didn't order a keepsake book jacket but I was very curious to know if the final book would fit in the very nice box that my kit came in.  It did!!  So that is how I have it stored.  

I can't wait to go through this process with my son when he turns six!

The only thing that I really didn't like with the process & final book:  My daughter was asked in the questionnaire how many people are in the world.  Her answer was 1 million.  When we got the final book that section seemed more like a true statement rather than her response to the question.  When I read it I was fine with it because I knew that was an answer she gave.  But, everyone else who has read it thinks it is a mistake that the book author did.