My Favorite 5 Toys to QUIETLY Entertain Kids

We went to church yesterday, and as always I bring my 50 pound bag filled with paper, coloring books, crayons, markers, colored pencils, pencils, pencil sharpener, puzzles, books, cars, snacks, water bottles, and Kleenex, among other things.  I bring these things to help ensure that the kids are quietly entertained while we listen in church for the hour and 10 minutes we need to sit there reverently (cough cough).  And these things are usually helpful, but yesterday we happened to sit behind a great family with a couple of teenage kids, one of whom babysat my kids recently.  So of course, my kids were more entertained my tickling their backs and playing pew-peek-a-boo than getting out the same old coloring books they have every week.  These awesome teenage kids in front of us also shared some of their toys that were completely entertaining and I will be purchasing for our family ASAP.  This gave me the idea to share my favorite 5 toys that are unique and helpful in keeping kids QUIETLY entertained without using electronics:

1. Boogie Boardd.  My parents gave one of these to my kids for Valentine’s Day a few years ago and it is still a favorite in my church bag.  We got the idea from another family at church who had one and my kids were completely enthralled just watching these other kids use it.  You can draw on the screen and then push a button to wipe the screen clean.  It has been used over and over for tic-tac-toe and hang-man, and hilarious pictures of grandma.

2.  Cryptograms Books– My 9 year old daughter loves these.  It is a little hard to start a blank cryptogram, so I usually look in the back at the cheat sheet and then fill in a few letters for her.  After that, she can usually fill it out on her own.  I actually love doing these as well!  This one that my daughter uses has some great quotes.  For example, “When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.” – George Washington Carver

3. WAFF Journal– This is one of the activities that the teenage boy let us play with at church on Sunday.  It will definitely be an Easter gift for my kids this year.  My kids love little notebooks and that alone is a fun gift, but the letters and numbers that snap on to this journal really make it unique.  My kids just sat on the floor and spread out the little rubber tiles and came up with different words to write on the notebook.  There is a little bag or container to keep the tiles together and clips to keep the journal shut.  There are several different colors, sizes, and styles.

4. Magnetic Beads– These are so addicting!  They can be shaped into about anything you can imagine and you can separate them to share among kids.  The description mentioned stress relief for adults and I could seriously see this.  I just couldn’t get enough!  It was hard to give these back to the family in front of us at church.

5. Peg Game– This game will forever remind me of my Grandma and Grandpa Lyon.  This game was always sitting on their counter and you couldn’t help but pick it up and try it a few times before moving along.  It’s small enough that a Ziploc baggie would keep all the pieces together and fit inside a church bag.


I would love to hear what works for your family to keep kids entertained without electronics.

Quiet kids in a quiet place make me a nice and happy mom!

This post contains affiliate links to help support this blog.  I only link items I have used and love.


Encouraging Kids to Set Goals

Are you a goal setter? I usually set new goals at the beginning of each year.  Sometimes I make it till Spring before I forget about what goals I set. One year I made a goal to go a whole year without eating chocolate (what was I thinking??).  I did surprisingly well until Mother’s Day.  My husband sent me roses from ProFlowers and they were delivered in a box to my house.  The box came while he was at work and when I opened it I found a box of chocolates included with the flowers.  I figured that my hubby must want me to break that no-chocolate goal, so I ate every one of those chocolates before he got home from work!  When he got home he apologized about sending chocolate and explained that the chocolates automatically came with the flowers.  Oops.  Well, I’m an all or nothing kind of gal, so since I had ruined my goal I just forgot about it all together.

So even though I don’t always keep my goals, I still feel like it’s important to set them.  This year I feel more goal driven than ever.  I wrote goals for physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, relationship and parenting categories. I made goals and then details about how I will achieve those goals. I also made a vision board to help me visualize some of these goals. I am using a bullet journal to track how well I do with each goal.  It’s only February, but I’m hoping that I will do better this year.  I also wanted to encourage my kids to set goals.

I bought a foam cork board at the dollar store and cut it in half.  Each of us got a half to post our goals on.  We had the kids think of goals for spiritual, character, educational, and extra-curricular categories. My husband and I asked questions and helped prompt ideas for the kids, but we really tried hard to not make suggestions.  It is hard to do, but that was our goal. Our older kids were able to come up with ideas easier than our five year old. We had them set a goal and them asked them to come up with a plan on how to achieve that goal. Their goals boards are now hanging in their rooms as a visual reminder to ask themselves how they are doing with their goals.  We haven’t done this yet, but I keep thinking it would be a good idea to give each kid one of my bullet journal pages to help them track their progress.

I hope this helps the kids to be nice and happy!

Gratitude Journal

Have you ever tried a gratitude journal?  I have heard several people talk about them, but it wasn’t until the new year that I finally tried it out.  I have been doing one for about a month now and so far I am loving it.  I have enjoyed it for me personally to end each day reflecting on what I am grateful for.

But the real power that I have seen is with my son.  We have been doing this as a family after we do our scripture study and prayer, we then each have our own notebook and we jot down one thing we are grateful for that day.  My son can sometimes get into a habit of focusing on the bad and get into a slump of feeling sorry for himself, but I have noticed a change in his attitude recently.  There could be many factors contributing to this change, but he has really gotten into the gratitude journal and takes it seriously every night and I don’t think it is hurting his attitude.

We help write for our preschooler, but then he draws a picture of whatever it is.  Our two year old will sometimes tell us what he is grateful for that day too.  Tonight he was grateful that he could play Harry Potter and basketball.  I really feel like these little notebooks are going to be treasures for all of us.

I bought these little notebooks at the dollar store and every night when we finish reading scriptures and saying a prayer, we write one thing we are grateful for.  It was easy to throw into our bedtime routine and has been something my kids really enjoy doing.

This has made me nice and happy.













Hot Spots

Isn’t chore time your favorite part of the day?? I just love how when I tell the kids that it’s time to do chores they all quickly stop what they are doing and jump up and down and beg to get started right away. NOT!!! We all know that it’s easier, faster, and will get done better if we just do all the dang chores ourselves, right?  But, we also know that doing this is a great way to raise entitled slobs.

There are so many wonderful methods out there that really do help chore time go smoothly… or smoother.  For my family, assigning a “HOT SPOT” to each person is what really eliminated my fear of saying, “time to do chores.”  It’s pretty simple.  I created a spin wheel to match each person with a chore.



I first cut out a large circle and a smaller circle that was about an inch smaller than the large. I then divided the circles into six even slices (do this depending on the number of people in your family).  In each section of the large slice I wrote the name of each person.








On the small section I put a picture of an area around the house: dining room, bathroom, entry way, living room, kitchen, and family room (this is when having a large family pays off!!).







I then put the small circle on top of the large circle and attached them with a brad in the center and voila! You now have a hot spot chart.







Now what do you do with it?
Each person is now assigned a spot in the house, A.K.A. a hot spot! And that person is responsible for keeping it decluttered and clean until the hot spot chart is turned to assign a new hot spot. We usually rotate hot spots every week or two.  You can do it daily, monthly or weekly; whatever works for you.

Before you begin this process make sure to take the time to go through each hot spot and give your expectations of what it should look like.  I usually just wanted the area picked up each day, not necessarily cleaned.  After explaining the rules, try it out by simply saying, “check your hot spot.” I love that I don’t have to give assignments or explain what they need to do.  We usually like to set a timer for five minutes and see if everyone can do their hot spot before the timer goes off.

After everyone has completed their hot spot and it meets mom’s approval, then the kids would get a rock in their jar… which brings me to another day and another post!

Are you ready to be nice and happy??