Last Day of School 2017

Today was my boys' last day of school, so I thought I would pop by and let you know how we celebrated the milestone. We have a couple of fun traditions, and you can read about them below.

Our traditions are simple, but they mean a lot to my boys and I.

The first thing we do is head out for ice cream. We have been doing it for years, and we always take a picture. Check out some of our past pictures below.

And here is our picture from this year! I can't believe we have been doing this for SEVEN years. Where does the time go... and how have they gotten so big???

After our ice cream, we head home so that my boys can run through their finish line. It's my favourite part of the day.

Finally, we celebrate with small gifts. We don't do elaborate "grading gifts", but my boys always get new books to encourage them to read during their summer vacation.

We had a wonderful day, and we are now ready to start our summer adventure. Happy last day of school to you and your little ones!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Top Netflix Movies for Kids of All Ages

Summer is the perfect time for kids to get outside and get active, but every once in a while, kids need a little "down time" to cuddle up with a good movie. Of course, Netflix has some fantastic options for children of all ages. Recently, I had my boys choose their favourite Netflix movies, and today, I am sharing their "Top 30 Netflix Movies".

I divided my boys' lists into two parts... their favourite movies that are suitable for younger kids and their favourite movies that can be enjoyed by older children

It was hard for my boys to narrow down their choices, but here are their top 15 selections for younger kids.

My boys also chose their personal favourites for younger children:

My 11 year old chose "Shrek".
My 9 year old chose "Kung Fu Panda".
My 7 year old chose "Big Hero 6".

And here are their top 15 selections for older kids.

My boys also chose their personal favourites for older children:

My 11 year old chose "Back to the Future".
My 9 year old chose "Star Wars: The Force Awakens".
My 7 year old chose "Cool Runnings".

Family movie night is my favourite night of the week, and we have watched all these movies with our boys. I'm looking forward to re-watching some of these wonderful films this summer. What would be the top movie on your list?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

*Disclosure: I receive special gifts and perks as part of my affiliation with Netflix.... however (as always) the opinions on this blog are 100% my own.

Last Day of School Teacher Gift... with clever printable gift tags

I know that teachers have enough mugs and candles, so I love giving gift cards. I enjoy knowing that my gift will be used, but gift cards can be boring, and not very fun for kids to give. But don't fret, I have a solution! This little treat and clever tag provide the perfect packaging for gift cards on the last day of school.

The key to the cuteness is this clever "Enjoy your summer BREAK!" tag. To download the tag: right-click on the picture below, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 4X6 photo.

Then, just use a little bit of ribbon to add the tag to a bag containing a KitKat bar and a gift card.

You can also use a cute container, and attach the tag to a lovely gift basket.

I love think this is a wonderful way to transform a gift card into a gift, don't you? My boys will be proud to give these packages to their teacher on the last day of school.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Tips for Encouraging Kids to be Active... and turn off their electronics

As a mom of three boys between the ages of 7 and 11, I understand the importance of keeping kids active. I truly believe that getting kids to play sports is critical to their physical, mental and emotional well-being. I also understand that in this age of technology, it is getting increasingly difficult to get kids to turn off their electronics and get moving. So, today I am sharing some simple and helpful tips for encouraging kids to be active.

Find what they love. -- My boys all love hockey, but they also enjoy anything that involves running around or playing with a ball or puck. I encourage them to participate in organized sports, but I also urge them to take part in unstructured physical endeavors too. I love to watch them play neighborhood games of ball, tag, Frisbee, or hide and seek… and I enjoy watching them go on bike rides/runs/hikes too. If they are moving and smiling, I’m happy!

Support them. Encourage them. Watch them. Cheer for them. -- I really try and teach my kids that the point of playing sports is not winning… it’s about working hard and doing their best. I want my boys to know that I love to watch them play and that I am always proud of them.

Set them up for success. -- I feel that my role as a parent is to help make sure my boys have the things they need to succeed. I get them the gear they require, help them fuel their bodies with healthy foods., and teach them to be disciplined and respectful.

Make it fun. -- Childhood sports are about being active, dreaming big, working hard, and having fun… period.

Are your kids into being active and having fun? How do you encourage their efforts?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Simple LAST DAY OF SCHOOL Teacher Gift... with free printable tags

A teacher is a special part of every child's life, and on the last day of school, I always want to give tokens of gratitude to my boys' lovely educators. I like to purchase something simple and useful, and add a bit of fun by attaching cute tag. Today, I am sharing a simple teacher gift... and a free printable tag that you can download.

I purchased some adorable and inexpensive tote bags, and I added a "Thanks for being a TOTEally awesome teacher" tag. Cute, right?

To download these tags: right-click on the photo below, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 4X6 photo. (There are three tags on every sheet.)

This is a really inexpensive and thoughtful gift that is guaranteed to get a lot of use. It's perfect for carrying papers, and it works for trips to the beach too! You could also stick a gift card or handwritten note inside the bag for an extra special surprise. Thoughtful notes and cards are always winners!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Summer Checklist 2017 (free printable)

Every year, my boys and I put together a summer checklist of all the fun adventures we plan on completing during their break from school. Our list is filled with simple and inexpensive ideas, but this annual tradition has proven to be a valuable tool for building priceless childhood memories. Today, I am sharing our 2017 checklist (that you can download for free), including many links to additional info about the activities. We have 50 items on our list, but feel free to just choose 20, 30, or 40 of your favourites.

To download and print the summer checklist: right-click on the checklist below, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 8X10 photo. I sent mine to my local copy store and printed it for $0.39. 

And... in case you need more info about the items on list, check out the helpful links below.

1) Celebrate Canada Day or the 4th of July

2) Watch fireworks or attend a parade
3) Have a teddy bear picnic

4) Go to a splash pad or swim in a pool
5) Host a "half sleepover"

6) Go to a farmer's market
7) Visit the library and read a book outside

8) Have a water fight
9) Go fishing or hiking
10) Have a family movie night outside

11) Eat donuts from a string (with no hands)

12) Pick out a toy or treat at the dollar store
13) Plant something and watch it grow

14) Visit a wildlife park, farm or zoo
15) Build a fort
16) Get ice cream in PJs (drive throughs are OK) 
17) Play baseball, soccer, golf or street hockey
18) Make ice cream or go to an ice cream stand

19) Go for a bike ride
20) Decorate a cake or bake cookies

21) Spend time at a cottage, beach or park
22) Do a science experiment

23) Play a board game

24) Go geo-caching

25) Have a "kids pick the meals" day
26) Play mini golf
27) See a play or visit a museum
28) Have a lemonade stand

29) Try a new food
30) Have a theme day (e.g. a pirate day or superhero day)

31) Camp in the backyard or living room

32) Have a PJ day
33) Build a large puzzle
34) Make a summer reading list or keep a summer journal
35) Fly a kite

36) Have a dance party in the living room
37) Go on a scavenger hunt

38) Build an obstacle course
39) Play with water balloons

40) Do a good deed or raise money for charity
41) Visit a new city or town
42) Play "tag"
43) Roast marshmallows or make a different campfire treat

44) Write and mail a letter or postcard
45) Run in a race
46) Make a craft

47) __________________________
48) __________________________
49) __________________________

As you can see, there are blank spaces at the bottom of my checklist for you to add a few of your own activities/ideas. Or, you can create an entirely new list using the template below. Right-click on the template, save it to your computer, print it like a regular 8X10 photo, and add as many activities as you like!

This really is one of my favourite family traditions. It's always a lot of fun, and definitely something my boys look forward to each year.

 (aka East Coast Mommy)

Simple and Fun Ways to Celebrate CANADA DAY

Canada Day is fast approaching, and it's always fun to mark the occasion with festive decor, crafts, activities, and treats. Today, I am sharing a fantastic collection of easy and inexpensive ideas for celebrating July 1st.

Don't forget to click the links for additional details.

Canada Day Photo Booth - Sometimes simple ideas are the best ones, and this photo booth is easy to make using dollar store supplies. Besides... doesn't everyone want an excuse to get adorable holiday pictures of their kids?

10 Minute Canada Day Wreath - You don't have to be crafty to make this simple Canada Day decor. All you need are a few inexpensive supplies and a glue gun.

Simple Red and White Canada Day Dessert Buffet - The elements of this buffet are simple and delicious... and the red and white colour scheme ties it all together.

Canada Day Sparklers - Protect little hands, and celebrate in style with this simple Canada Day celebration HACK.

Canada Day Banner - Create your own inexpensive and unique Canada Day decor with an old book, a cookie cutter, and a little creativity. 

You could also hang some store-bought red and white lights to create a festive outdoor atmosphere.

Canada Day Cake - For a simple Canada Day cake, use Froot Roll Ups cut out with cookie cutters. It's easy to do, and kids will love it!

Canada Day Hat and Flag - Kids can create their own flags and hats using crayons and card stock. They'll proudly show their pride wearing their own creations.

Canada Day Paper Fan (with template) - Kids can craft their own fan to show their pride and keep cool during Canada Day celebrations. Download the template, cut it out, colour it, and add a popsicle stick. Easy peasy!

Paper Plate Wreath - Kids can create glittery and fun Canada Day decor using tissue paper, a paper plate, and glitter. Draw a maple leaf in the centre of a paper plate, colour it, and trace it with glue and glitter. Then use glitter and 1-inch squares of scrunched up pieces of tissue paper to decorate the outside edges of the paper plate. Finish by adding a ribbon to hang the wreath.
Canada Day Ice Cream Sandwiches - Tasty treats don't have to be a lot of work. This no bake Canada Day treat is simple, festive and fun!

Paper Bag Beaver Puppet - Kids will love making this festive Canada Day craft. Start with a paper bag. Then, using card stock, draw and color ears, arms, teeth, a nose, a tail, and a maple leaf. Finish by gluing all the pieces (including two googly eyes) to the paper bag. Download the template here. AND... you can watch a step by step "how to" YouTube video herehere.

Aren't these fantastic ways to celebrate July 1st? I hope you try out some of these simple ideas and have a wonderful and fun-filled Canada Day!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

You might also be interested in the fantastic Canada Day ideas here.

Don't miss any of the fun....