Tips on keeping the younger sibling occupied during soccer

With the start of the school year comes the start of the soccer season. Pork Chop, who’s six now, has been playing since he was three.  Things have gotten easier since my kids both know what to expect when it comes to soccer practices and games.

This year, there was a slight change to the routine; practices went from once a week to twice a week. And there are a few weeks where we have a Friday evening game followed by a Saturday morning game.

We spend a lot of time on the soccer field.

Last week, while chatting with another soccer mom, who has a toddler, we got onto the topic of keeping the younger siblings occupied. She mentioned how she is distracted by keeping her son occupied and from running into the field.

I remember those days.

Pea used to despise soccer practices and games. She doesn’t play soccer because she doesn’t want to and because I would hate for her to let down a team by sitting out when her arthritis is flaring. This season, she has a playmate whose two older brothers play on Pork Chop’s team.  Her friend plays soccer and has practice herself on one of our practice days so there is one day a week where I have to deal with a bored and whiny child. Thankfully, she is not an emotionally unstable toddler.  She’s an emotional kindergartner instead.  Still a handful but more like clutching grains of rice in my hand rather than holding grains of salt.

It got me to thinking about how hard it is to occupy other children during practices.

How to keep siblings occupied during soccer

Here are a few distraction tactics that I’ve used…

Food

I bring crackers, goldfish, teddy grahams, fruit and sandwiches.

And if those options don’t work I bring out the treats.  Lollipops or candy that are only allowed during soccer practice work because it is a “special” circumstance.

Electronics –gasp!

I especially pull out the tablet during games because I really want to pay attention.  Little kids can get bored and get fussy, especially when your attention is on a soccer game.  Pea will play educational apps or watch something while I get to watch the game.  It’s a win win.

Toys

We’ve brought a blanket and favorite toys.

I was recently provided a Kaboom Go out and Play Essentials pack from the folks at Imagine Toys for review.  This pack is filled with tips and tools for classic outside fun.  It is perfect for keeping siblings occupied during soccer practice.

Kaboom Essentials Play Pack Review from Scruggbug Corner

The set includes a book with a collection of outdoor games and activities.  There is sidewalk chalk and a ball, which are both outdoor fun staples.  The jump rope is too advanced for toddlers but will definitely keep my five year old occupied as she tries to learn how to jump rope consistently.  (It may take her a while.  My six year old is getting pretty good though.)

The backpack is sturdy and well made.  It reminds me of the backpacks I had growing up.  And by that I mean, the backpack has no licensed character on it and actually lasts the entire school year and longer.  It is perfect for bringing to the soccer fields.  It is big enough to fit the inflated ball in it along with food, blanket, waters, and toys!

But in the end, the most important advice I can give to the mom with the young toddler is that she doesn’t have to stress about it.  The soccer fields are filled with young kids during practice, both players and non-players.  The other adults are all parents too.  Most of them have spent practices and games trying to keep baby brother or sister from running onto the field to join in on the fun in the past.  It’s a soccer field and kids are outside playing because it’s fun.

I’ve found that for us, Pea’s acting out and whining was really an expression of feeling neglected and/or jealous of the attention that her brother was getting while on the field.  When I am the most engrossed on the field and she is bored is when the issues are the worst.

Waiting for Practice to End

Through the years I have explained to her that soccer is his thing.  When we go shopping or she puts on a show, that’s her thing and she gets all the attention.  It doesn’t mean that I love him more.  It means that he deserves as much of my attention during his turn as she does during her turn.  She has turned into one of his biggest cheerleaders and sometimes coaches him from the sidelines, which always cracks me up.  The special treats help too!

How do you keep the siblings who are on the sidelines with you occupied at practice?

 

DIY Glow in the Dark Window Clings

DIY Glow in the Dark Window ClingsA few weeks ago, Echo from The Domain of a Mad Mommy, shared a wax paper painting craft.  It looked like so much fun that I immediately wanted to try it myself with Pork Chop and Pea.  We ended up making some fun Glow in the Dark Window Clings for Halloween.  It’s been a while since we made our Easter faux sun catchers and our Earth Day Sun catchers so our windows haven’t been as dressed up as usual.  What better holiday to make window clings for than Halloween!

Supplies for Halloween Clings Scruggbug

This post contains Amazon affiliate links of some of the items I have purchased for crafting!

Materials

Sharpie

Tulip 6-Pack 3D Fashion Paint, Glow

Coloring pages

Wax paper

lunch trays

Instructions

First I found and printed some free coloring pages from around the web.

I tore out enough wax paper to cover my crafting lunch tray.  (I got the idea to use Cafe Standard Tray, 16w x 12d, Black from my kids’ old daycare.  It really contains the mess!)

I placed the coloring page under the wax paper and traced the design on the wax paper with the sharpie to help us paint inside the lines!

DIY Halloween Window Clings

Next I chose my puffy pain colors and simply squeezed out the paint onto the wax paper.  I tried to make sure that I had a thick layer of paint everywhere because I was afraid that the cling would tear when I removed it from the wax paper.

DIY Halloween Cling

Once the painting was done, I let it thoroughly dry.

Window Cling Halloween

When dry, I gently peeled off the wax paper.  To my surprise the sharpie lines were visible!  I really like the “outlined” look.

Some of the paper stuck to the cling so I used a wet paper towel to gently rub the excess wax paper off of the cling.

I stuck it to the window and it worked!

I couldn’t get a photo of the cling glowing while on the window because the moonlight kept drowning out the glow but I was able to take a photo of it while on the tray that shows how cool the paint is at night!

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Don’t forget to check out our popular crafts page!

 

 

Our Back to School Landing zone!

If you’ve been reading this blog awhile you are probably aware that I have organization issues. It even affects how I’ve filed the posts on my site. I am constantly researching to improve and learned about landing pages or landing zones recently.

Apparently landing pages help organize a blog and bring search engine traffic to the right place.

So I figured that a home entry way organization “landing page” would help organize our home and bring traffic to the right place too.

After two weeks of school and soccer practices, I can say that our new entry way organization and landing zone is working fabulously.

This is how we made it

I went to Jo Ann’s and got a three cubby shelf (with a coupon of course) and three wood crates.  I normally buy cubby units from target but I wanted something sturdy and not pressed board.

We painted the shelf white and the cubes a pale yellow.

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Pork Chop and Pea thought the yellow was too pale so I spray painted a coat of glossy bright yellow over the cubes.

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We also got a wall shelf with hooks from the craft store and painted it white. (We did this one first. This whole project took place over a long period of time because I kept getting distracted!)

One cube holds Pea’s commonly worn shoes while the other hold Pork Chop’s shoes. The third cube has clean soccer socks, cleats, and shin guards in it.

The backpacks  and lunch bags go on the hooks.

Whether we are headed to school or practice, everything we need is ready to go.

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Since the entry way is actually part of the living room, I didn’t want it to be all function and no form.

My tin can succulents and burlap bird art dress up the area. The two reindeer were thrift store finds that I was planning to paint for Christmas but the kids decided to put them on the shoe bench. They have excellent senses of style! The paper mâché deer tie together the natural brown of the burlap and bottom of the entry way.

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Picking colors and decor also gives the kids a sense of ownership and a vested interest in keeping the area neat! Score!  I always thought entry way areas were a bit odd looking if they aren’t in a separate hallway.  Our front door opens right into the living room but practicality won out over my misconceptions.  Any little bit helps when it comes to cutting down morning stress.

Last year, we were stressed and rushing every day on the way to school.  It set the tone for the rest of the day.  Stress affects my son’s ability to sit still and pay attention in class and affects my daughter’s health.  I am doggedly struggling to overcome my lack of natural organizational ability for the benefit of my children and mixing practicality with my love of crafting is helping me keep at it!

What do you mean it’s not because he’s left handed???

So last week I started my left handed letter writing practice worksheet series but I am going have to call it “Learning with the Scruggbugs” or something similar from now on.  You see, I went to Open House last night and I learned something from another parent and my son’s first grade teacher.

The other mom was concerned because her child was still writing letters his letters backwards.

The teacher went on to explain that this practice is common in kindergartners and first graders.  The habit would fade as the year progressed and they practiced letter writing more.

Wait, what? I had to butt in and say, “It doesn’t have anything to do with being a lefty!?”  The teacher laughed.

And several others laughed because their kids do it too.

So I apologize to all of you parents of lefties that downloaded my last printable because it was geared towards left handed children.  Our kids are not especially challenged by writing letters in the correct direction!  They are commonly challenged.

Here’s to all of our common mistake making kids!

Though I say that jokingly, I really do think that kids these days are so propped up on their extraordinariness (I think I made that word up)  that it puts extra pressure on them to be “special.”  In other cases, children may feel that normal things that they should be doing (like helping with household chores or being kind to a friend) is some grand accomplishment that they should be rewarded for doing.  This goes along with my feelings about “participation trophies” and soccer games where there is no “score” kept so there are no winners/losers.

Hello–the kids keep score.  We all win sometimes and we all lose sometimes.  That happens throughout life so shouldn’t they be used to it?

L is for Lions

Okay, I will jump off my soapbox.  Here is the next printable in the series. Click on the worksheet to print it!

 

Lis for Lion Handwriting, letter practice, homeschool printable, handwriting, kindergarten worksheet, preschool worksheetI am not going in order of the alphabet.  I am actually doing the worksheets in the order of most-frequently-messed-up-by-my-kids.  These letter writing worksheets are used in my house.  Since this is only the second week of school, my kindergartner doesn’t have homework yet but my first grader does.  She works on my practice sheets while he does his homework.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easy Homemade DIY Carpet Deodorizer

So the first week of school was pretty hectic.  I wanted to spend it cleaning after the summer chaos but ended up running around getting school paperwork and health documentation squared away.  This week I am finally able to be home and start checking off my to do list.  While cleaning, I grabbed my homemade carpet deodorizer so am sharing it with you.

I used to buy carpet deodorizer but it such a silly expense to me. Most deodorizers have baking soda as a main ingredient along with other chemicals. Carpets can get pretty funky,  though I vacuum regularly and we have a “no shoes in the house” rule.

Often, I simply sprinkle baking soda around the house, leave it for half an hour and then vacuum it up.  Baking soda absorbs the stinky smells.  You can even buy it in an easy Arm & Hammer Pure Baking Soda Shaker – 12 Oz – (Pack of 6)(affiliate link) now.

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I did miss the fresh scent of store bought carpet deodorizer.  Lately, I have been adding a dropper full of lavender essential oil to the baking soda.  I absolutely love the calming effect of lavender.  The essential oil is not too thick or cloying.  I don’t feel like I have to wear an aspirator in order to vacuum up the powder.

Plus, it has so many different uses.  The homemade DIY carpet deodorizer can be scattered on the carpets, sofas, mattresses, and even in stinky shoes, leaving just a hint of the clean scent of lavender.

I use my DIY label method to label the baking soda shaker because I am trying to be more organized.  Baking soda is inexpensive and that little bottle of lavender oil is still mostly full after a year of use.  Carpet refresher really isn’t all that expensive but with my version, I know EXACTLY what is in it.  Sodium bicarbonate (aka baking soda) and lavender essential oil.  That’s it.

 

Left handed learning: Letter practice Worksheet Z

Somehow both of my kids ended up being lefties.  I blame it on the husband.  He is ambidextrous but started off left handed.  The nuns at his Catholic Elementary school didn’t agree with his hand preference and trained him to use his right hand.  Now he can use both!

My kids aren’t going to be forced to learn how to use their right hands.  Though they may end up in Catholic school they currently attend a magnet school.  Though I am proud to say that they are both very bright, I have noticed that there are difficulties we encounter because of their dominant hand.

Sometimes their letters are backwards.

For years, Pea constantly wore her shoes on the wrong feet.  She is so stubborn that whenever we would put them on the correct feet she would switch them back.

My son used to write his words from right to left.  He’s had enough practice that he doesn’t normally do that anymore but it used to be very common.

The only way to reinforce writing letters and words from left to right is by practice.  Because they are left hand dominant, it does not feel natural to them to write from left to right.

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Only 10% of the population is left handed.  It’s surprising that both of our kids are south paws!  After watching my son struggle to use normal scissors, I decided to order Fiskars 5 Inch Left Handed Kid Scissors
(amazon affiliate link) for them.

When I read books to them, I trace the words as I read them to reinforce the directional learning.

I’ve also put “reminders” on their handwriting worksheets that they brought home from preschool and kindergarten.  After looking over their old school work as I am organizing it for storage, I came up with some handwriting worksheets that can be used for homeschooling and supplemental education practice.  I am focusing on the most commonly erred letters.

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Simply click the picture to print!

Though, I did start the worksheets with left handed letter practice in mind, they can be used by any preschoolers or kindergartners for practice!

 

 

Upcycled Back to School Chalkboard Signs

I love chalkboards–which is strange since I hated having to clean erasers when I was in elementary and middle schools. Way back in the time before dry erase markers we had good old fashioned chalkboards. This year I decided to make upcycled back to school chalkboard signs from two old pizza pans I found at my Dad’s house. Seriously, I am pretty sure these pizza pans were the ones my mom used when I was a kid.

I cleaned them as best as I could but it was time for them to be retired. They have a new role as our back to school charlkboards now! I simply bought a can of chalkboard paint for under four bucks and sprayed it on.

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I did two coats with about 45 minutes in between them, letting them dry overnight.

Then I took white chalk and conditioned them by lightly chalking over the surface with the sides of a piece of chalk.

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(I confess. I prefer the look of chalkboards to the actual “chalking” part!)

I wiped them down and added each child’s grade and what they want to be when they grow up.  They turned out great and now there are two less baking sheets under my Dad’s stove.

We had a lot of fun taking pictures before leaving for school this morning.  I made sure we were ready an extra thirty minutes early so we would have time to take photos and still make it early enough to get a parking space.  Things mostly went according to plan.

Both kids were super excited about going back to school.  They made faces and laughed during the photoshoot.

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The only hitch came up when Pork Chop said, “Look, Mommy! Someone put chocolate on the truck.”

Chocolate?  NO--Do not touch…Don’t put it in your mouth.

“Why,” he asked with his finger almost at his lips.

Because that’s not chocolate, it’s bird poop and even if it was chocolate, we don’t eat chocolate off of my truck–or anything else.

Oh.

IMG_6725

Still grossed out after washing his hands…

So then all my leaving early plans were shot because Pork Chop had to go wash his hands.

It’s okay though.  We’re looking forward to a great year!

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Are you taking back to school photos?

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How to fake Mom confidence like a rockstar on the first day of Kindergarten

I am sure you’ve seen all the posts about preparing your new  school-ager for the first day of Kindergarten.  My youngest is one of those new kindergartners and the tips have been a great help.

  • she knows my phone number
  • she knows  how to put on her clothes unassisted after going to the restroom
  • she knows to raise her hand when she has a question
  • she knows all her letters, colors, and numbers

She still can’t tie her shoes though.  Since she doesn’t own any shoes with shoelaces, we’re going to worry about that on another day.

Let’s talk about you…the mom.  Dropping your child off for the first day of kindergarten is one of those “big deals” in motherhood.  Your baby is entering a new phase and you won’t be there to help her.  There may be tears again this year.  My tears.  I am not ashamed to say that a few tears trickled down my cheek as I drove away and left Pork Chop at “big kids school” last year.

It helps that this is my second go around with the whole “new kindergartner” thing.  Last year, when Pork Chop was going to kindergarten for the first time, I was an anxious mess.  He had about 10 minutes of anxiety the night before the first day of school.

I had a 10 hour panic attack.

He was going to a school where I didn’t know all the teachers, the routines, or the other kids.  My kids attended the same daycare from the time they were 8 weeks old until they moved to kindergarten.  Their pre-kindergarten teachers were the same women that had changed their diapers as infants.  They had moved up from the baby room to preschool by the time my kids got to voluntary pre-kindergarten.

I was no longer in my element when it came to the place they would spend a large chunk of their day.

But I didn’t show the nerves to anyone outside of my friends and family members.

Why?

Because Pork Chop needed me to be okay.  He needed to see me go with the flow and embrace this change in our longtime routine.  He went from being the “big man on campus” at his preschool/daycare to being a little kindergartner surrounded by all the “–graders.”  His backpack was nearly as big as he was.

So in honor of my first back to school and my second first day of kindergarten, here are a few tips so that you can fake mom confidence like a rockstar.

Mom Confidence on the first day of kindergarten

Wear something that makes you feel both comfortable and presentable.  Those heels may make your legs look stunning, but with all the parents dropping off their kids at school on the first day, you may not be able to find a nearby parking spot.  Those legs may start to stun you with every step.

Smile

Make eye contact with other parents.  Some of those parents may have older children so seem like old pros but there will be others who are just as anxious as you.

Smile

Introduce yourself and your kindergartner to another parent and child.  This will help your child feel more comfortable because now she will know someone in their class.

Smile

Accept assistance from the teacher if needed.  If your child has never been to preschool or daycare before, there may be tears and clinging.  Don’t be embarrassed to accept help from the teacher.  Your child won’t be the first crying child refusing to let go of Mommy.  Let the teacher take the lead, this is what they do.  They probably have more experience with first day of school freak outs than you do.  So accept the help and

Smile

You’ve got this.

Now please excuse me while I practice what I preach as my baby girl heads to Kindergarten.  I’ve never been so happy and sad in my life.

photo credit

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Kindergarten preparation with the Kids Academy Apps

Pea had a kindergarten pre-screening test last week.  The week up to it we focused on kindergarten preparation for her. I remember being so worried about Pork Chop’s screening this time last year.  I was a nervous wreck but he did wonderfully.  The daycare that they attended, La Petite Academy, had an excellent curriculum.  It turned out that Pork Chop was well ahead of his classmates.  He complained for the first half of the year that the work was the same as it was in VPK (voluntary pre-kindergarten.)  When I pulled out the homework that he had in preschool, it was literally the same exact worksheets.  He was right.  (He was also bored and got into LOTS of trouble that first half of the year but that’s a story for another post.)

I am a little nervous about Pea starting in a new school.  She has food allergies and her Juvenile Arthritis is unpredictable.

I seriously considered home schooling her this year but decided that it would not be the best choice for us at this time.  My children go to a magnet school and benefit from the classroom environment.

That being said, I do work with the kids at home.  Though I am far from being a tiger mom, knowledge and learning are a priority.  The high school magnet program I graduated from is consistently one of top ten high schools in the country every year.  That educational base has served me well time and again and I would like my children to be taught to think critically and creatively by the school as well as my myself.

I am an active part of the homework time though I will not do the work for either of the kids, no matter how many tears are shed!

I was offered the opportunity to review the Kids Academy apps and gladly accepted.  Though I was compensated for the review, all opinions regarding the apps are my own with input from my children.  These apps are free on the iTunes app store.

I integrated using the Kids Academy apps into our kindergarten preparation review and it worked very nicely.  Of the three apps, Kids Academy Learning Games, Kids Academy ABC, and Kids Academy songs, the first two were by far the more useful.   Pea played games that gave her practice with counting and writing her numbers and letters.

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Pea loves to sing so she enjoyed the Kids Academy Bingo Song Karaoke app.  However, at five she has outgrown many of the preschool songs like Bingo.  I, for one, enjoyed listening to her sing something other than “Let it Go” or “Do you wanna build a snowman”, even though she did get bored of Bingo pretty quickly.

Pork Chop is more into video games than Pea is and he surprised me by opening the apps on his own and playing some of the educational games.  He is going into first grade and he breezed through the apps as expected.  The ease in which he played the games helped bolster his confidence regarding his readiness for first grade.

Pea completed her pre-screening with flying colors.  The door to her testing room was ajar so I was able to eavesdrop overhear the testing.  It was pretty amazing to hear her answer so quickly, all the while laughing at how easily she was answering.  Hopefully, she doesn’t laugh so loudly every time she answers correctly while being tested in a class full of others!

There is nothing more awesome than hearing my child’s pride in her own abilities.

Does your kindergarten have a pre-screening review?  Do you have favorite learning apps that your kids enjoy?  If so, share them in the comments!
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How I cut my laundry folding time by 30%

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I love folding laundry like I love chocolate covered worms (pardon me while I puke.) I used to have a nice big pool table that served as “folding table,” dresser, closet, and general keeper of all fabric items in our house.  We ended up selling it when we moved so I have had laundry baskets and the folding table in the laundry room (and the floor) holding the clean laundry until I decide to fold them (never).  Then something magical happened.

My kids gained the ability to follow simple instructions.  And ta-dah! A portion of the laundry became their responsibility. They do it perfectly…because I made them DIY kid sized shirt folding boards.

I came up with a cheap method because kids grow (and grow) and easy because I like easy. By the time they’ve beaten the boards up, it will be time to make a slightly larger version.

First I bought two foam core boards, grabbed scissors, an x-Acto knife, pencil, yard stick, and got fancy printed duck tape (with coupons–because I said cheap).  I made two so they would not fight over one and I used the fancy tape to entice them to like it.

 

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I took the foam board, which is 20″ by 30″ and cut 8″ off of the long end ending up with a piece 22″ by 20″.  This part is “adjusted” to fit toddler through first grade sized clothing.

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The important thing to remember is that the two flaps must be equal in width.  Above I show the pieces marked and labeled (on the back side) for you to easily see.

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“What is going on here?”

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Then I used the the X-Acto knife and the scissors to cut along the lines.

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I flipped over the pieces and fit them back together.  (You don’t have to label the backsides of the one you make!)

 

After I was done, I realized that it wasn’t clear how I taped the bottom flap on so I took a photo of Pea’s folding board to show this part.  (She prefers Hello Kitty to Star Wars–How is she my child??? Star Wars ROCKS!)

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The key is that the side flaps and the bottom flap must be able to fold.  The tape is the hinge.

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shirt folding board, shirt folder, shirt fold, diy shirt, diy folding board, how to make, kids clothes

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Shirt folding board for her.

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Shirt folding board for him.

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Lay the shirt the flap with the front down.   “Nice and smooth,” as Pork Chop likes to say.

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Fold one flap and the shirt over and then fold the other flap and shirt over.

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Bring the flaps (without the shirt) back flat.

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shirt folding board, shirt folder, shirt fold, diy shirt, diy folding board, how to make, kids clothes

Then fold up the bottom flap and shirt.  Bring the bottom flap back down without the shirt.

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Look who folds his own shirts like a professional!

shirt folding board, shirt folder, shirt fold, diy shirt, diy folding board, how to make, kids clothes

Epic WIN for me!!!

 

This was a super simple and cheap project that helps make folding kids’ shirts a little more fun and a whole lot tidier! So grab some tape and foam board or cardboard (which I used last time (and lasted a year) and let your young kids help with the dreaded laundry.

 

For more fun with the kids you might like The icing on the pie!

For more tips and tricks for young kids, read Tip for giving young children medicine successfully. You can also check out Removing tangles with the “Wet brush.”