Start the year off WRITE with this perfect first day of school class treat... and free printable tags

Every year, on the first day of school, my boys bring little treats to share with their new classmates. I think this is a simple way to teach my boys about kindness, giving, and the importance of friendship. This year, my 8 year old wanted to share some brightly coloured pencils with his friends, and today I am sharing the finished product, and the adorable tags I designed.

I designed 4X6 tags in, had the tags printed at my local photo lab, and cut the tags in half. Then, cut little slits in the tags and inserted pencils. Cute, right?

You can design your own tags, or you can download and print the generic tags I designed. To download these tags for free: right-click on the photo below, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 4X6 photo.

I love how the brightly coloured pencils contrast with the chalkboard tags!

I think bringing a little class treat on the first day of school is a wonderful way to start off a new year. The pencils are a fantastic alternative to sugary treats too... especially when allergies and nutrition policies are an issue. What do you think about sending something small to share with friends on the first day of school? It's definitely not necessary, but it is a fun little tradition that my boys' enjoy.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Back to School Tips, Tricks, and Traditions... and a great giveaway from Sharpie and Paper Mate

Back to school is a busy time for families, but with a little planning, it can be stress-free and a lot of fun! Today, I am sharing some fantastic back to school tips, tricks, and traditions. I am also sharing FREE printable gift tags and a fun contest from Sharpie* and Paper Mate*.

1) Shop early, and let the kids pick out their own school supplies. Shopping early will ensure you get everything on your list, and children will be excited to fill their backpacks with their favourite items. Make sure to pick up some Paper Mate Ink Joy gel pens in fabulous colours. (My boys LOVE them!) Also, keep things simple by shopping all in one place. Chances are Walmart* will have everything you need at great prices.

2) Get organized. My secret weapon is this wonderful homework station that hangs on the back of the door leading down to our basement. A clear shoe rack full of school supplies doesn't take up much space and keeps everything handy and easy to find. Using colourful pens to make lists and update family calendars is also a great way to keep things organized and fun. 

3) Prep for first day of school traditions like: special photos, treats for classmates, and a little gift for the teacher. Sharpies in a cup make a perfect first day of school teacher gift. I found this super-cute mug at Walmart, I filled it with assorted Sharpie markers, and I added a fun "A little something to keep you sharp on the first day of school" tag I designed. (24 Sharpie Fine or Sharpie Ultra Fine markers fit perfectly in a mug.) I know my boys' teachers will love these colourful, fade and water resistant markers!

You could also forgo the mug, and just attach a tag to a package of markers. Check out the tag I designed that says, "MARK my words. We are going to have a fun year!" Cute, right?

To download the tags I designed: right-click on one of the tags below, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 4X6 photo.

I love the idea of kids bringing a gift on the first day of school. Teachers and students spend a lot of time together, and giving a gift to a new teacher is a nice way to start off the school year.

And I know how you might be able to create these fun first day of school gifts for free! Just take a moment to enter a great contest for a chance to win one grand prize of a $250 Walmart gift card and Sharpie & PaperMate gift pack (ARV $315). You also have the opportunity to win one of three Sharpie & PaperMate gift packs (ARV $65).

For all the details and a chance to win, check out the Sharpie and PaperMate Back to School Giveaway here.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

*Disclosure: I have partnered with YMC and Sharpie/Paper Mate have received compensation for this post. All opinions in the post are my own.

DIY Gift for a Grandparent

Recently, we had a large family party to celebrate my grandmother's 90th birthday. It was a special occasion, and I needed a special gift... but what do you get someone who is 90? With a little help from my aunt, I came up with this simple and thoughtful DIY grandparent gift.

I made this little note (using to explain my gift. I was giving my grandmother 12 postcards with the promise that I would send one each month for the next year.

I used Picmonkey to design my postcards, but purchasing postcards would be an easier option.

I put my postcards in a basket with some tea and a pretty mug.

I think this is the perfect DIY gift for grandparents, don't you? It is guaranteed to bring a year's worth of joy to the recipient!

(aka East Coast Mommy)

5 Ways to Get Kids Excited About Summer Reading (and a GIVEAWAY from TD Summer Reading Club)

Is there anything better for children than reading? I have always tried to nurture a love of reading in my home, but the summer can be a tough time to get my active boys to sit down with a book. Today, I am sharing 5 ways that I get my boys excited about summer reading. Reading doesn't have to be a chore; it can be a source of summer fun!

1) Make a journal - Reading and writing can be fun for kids when they have a colourful, customized journal. A "Mom and Me" or "Dad and Me" journal is a wonderful way for kids and parents to write notes to each other all summer. Diaries and travel journals are also fantastic. My boys like to write in their journals when they climb into bed at the end of the day.

2) Visit the library - Libraries are an endless source of summer reading inspiration, and many have fun (and free) summer reading programs. Summer reading programs are a wonderful way to get kids motivated to read and explore new activities during the summer months. (Visit your local library, and check out the TD Summer Reading Club* here.)

3) Make a summer reading list - Making a list of books to read can be a great way to get kids excited about reading. Kids can set goals and maybe even earn a reward (like a trip to the an ice cream stand) for completing their list. If kids need help getting started, you can check out the TD Summer Reading Club suggestions here.

4) Take it outside - The summer is the perfect time to get outside and read. Read signs on a road trip, read in a tent, read at the park, read at the beach, etc... Challenging the kids to read in 5 different places will help to keep them motivated!

5) Host a summer reading party - Share the love of reading with friends in your community. Have a book swap, make bookmarks, and enjoy a special book-themed snack.

If you are struggling to get the kids reading this summer, I hope you try some of my simple ideas. And don't forget to check out the TD Summer Reading Club*. It makes it easy for kids to keep reading all summer long by connecting families with books, inspiring a sense of play through reading, building confidence and celebrating accomplishments. 

And to help you and your kids on your summer reading journey, I am giving away a set of 10 books from the TD Summer Reading Club. Enter here:

Entry-Form (CONTEST CLOSED - Winner is Carolyn B.)

Good luck, and happy reading!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

*Disclosure: I have partnered with YMC and TD Summer Reading Club and have received compensation for this post. All opinions in the post are my own.
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