How To Use Role Playing In Discipline

Role playing in discipline is an effective technique that teaches kids confidence.  Learn more about how to use it by clicking the link.

Something you may not know about me is that I graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in Marriage and Family Studies.  Basically this means that I took a lot of classes about marriage, family, parenting, child development, family finance, family systems and a million others in preparation to become a counselor.  I loved (almost) all of them and they’ve been hugely helpful for me as a parent.  Obviously I know that what I learned in these classes is the ideal and isn’t always achievable due to *ahem* human error.  But at the same time, I’ve also learned that many of the methods and techniques taught are useful even when circumstances aren’t ideal.  The one I want to talk about today is role playing.

In one of my behavioral classes, we learned about concepts like positive and negative reinforcement and how you can use each in parenting.  To be honest, I don’t remember all the technical terms or theories from this class.  But one that stuck with me is this: if you eliminate a negative behavior or response, you have to replace it with a positive behavior or response.

Let me give you an example:

Say you are trying to get rid of a bad habit such as chewing your nails.  You’ve tried putting gloves on, putting your fingers in hot sauce so it burns your mouth when you try and cutting your nails down super short.  Nothing works.  You’re still biting your nails.  Why?  Because you didn’t replace the bad habit with a good one.  Instead of simply trying to eliminate this habit or behavior so it no longer exists, you have retrain yourself with a new, more positive or acceptable behavior.  (A really easy replacement in this example would be to chew gum or put a paperclip in your pocket that you can fiddle with.)

So how does this work in discipline?

A while back I wrote a post about a practice that will change the way you discipline.  (Read more HERE.)  In it, I explain the method that we use for disciplining our kids when they are doing something we want them to stop (the negative behavior) and it works well for us.  But I was thinking the other day and realized that my husband and I weren’t taking the extra step of helping our kids understand what to do instead of the negative behavior.  They knew what they’d done wrong and why it was wrong but not what to do instead (the positive behavior).  This is where role playing comes in.

As parents, it’s our responsibility to help our kids learn how to respond in different situations.  Role playing is a technique you can use with your kids as they get older and can be applied to so many challenges they have, whether it’s bullying, saying no to drugs and drinking, confronting a friend about a difficult issue and so on.  Role playing gives them options for how to respond.   Role playing gives your kids confidence that they can handle situations they may not have encountered before because it feels familiar to them.

Role playing in discipline is an effective technique that teaches kids confidence.  Learn more about how to use it by clicking the link.

For example, when my daughter gets frustrated because her little brother keeps knocking down her tower and retaliates by hitting him, she gets sent to time out.  (Normally, she gets a couple of chances to stop her behavior, but I’m not going to give her another two opportunities to hit.  Again, read more about our method HERE.)  During her time out, she knows she is expected to think about why she got sent to time out and then tell me or my husband why she had to go to time out.  In the past, we would have finished off with something along the lines of “Hitting your brother is not okay.  It hurts him and makes him feel sad.” and then sending her on her way.

BUT we recently added the extra step I mentioned above: we help her think through what she can do if she’s faced with that situation again.  This helps her understand her options and recognize other behaviors that are acceptable.  Then we role play.

Role playing is pretty simple.  You recreate the situation that caused the issue in the first place, then when you get to the part where they reacted negatively, you stop and ask them “what could you do differently in this situation?”  Allow them the opportunity to come up with options for themselves.  There have been times when my daughter’s response has been better than the one I had in mind.  If they can’t come up with something, help them out with some ideas.  Then role play again with the new (positive behavior) replacing the negative behavior.  Depending on the situation, this could take a couple of minutes or it could take 10.

Role playing in discipline is an effective technique that teaches kids confidence.  Learn more about how to use it by clicking the link.

There are days when my kids have pushed my buttons and I’ve reached the limits of my patience.  I know there are situations where I’ve overreacted or sent the wrong kid to time out.  The time they are in time out is also a good opportunity for me to take a few deep breaths, maybe walk into a different room or step outside and think about how I could have responded differently.  And thankfully, kids are pretty forgiving.

The other day, my daughter asked my husband if she could play a game on his phone.  He said no.  In the past, her response would have been to get mad and possibly yell or stomp away.  But instead of all that, she just said, “okay, maybe another time” and went off to find something else to do.  I was totally amazed!  The conversations we’d had and role played actually stuck and she put them into practice.  (Not to say that this happens every time of course.)

So the next time your child misbehaves, think of it as an opportunity to help them learn more about acceptable behaviors.  Teach them to recognize their options and give them the confidence to deal with their daily situations in a positive way.  Take a few minutes to go through a short role play with them.  And remember that you’ll probably have the same conversations and the same role plays a few dozen more times until it sticks. *wink*

Do you use role playing with your kids?  What are the benefits you’ve seen or think you would see by using this technique with your kids?

5-Ingredient Chicken and Rice Casserole

An easy and inexpensive 5 ingredient chicken and rice casserole.  Perfect for weeknights, weekends or when you need to feed a group.

Growing up, we had a lot of casseroles for dinner.  It was one of the fastest, easiest and most inexpensive ways to feed a family.  I danced and played other sports and had a high metabolism which was the perfect combination for needing to consume a lot of calories each day.  Forget boys, I was a growing girl!  *wink*  As a mom now, I totally understand why my mom made casseroles as often as she did.  I just don’t have time to slave over a meal that takes hours to prepare.  The recipe I’m sharing today is perfect for an easy weekday dinner, a Sunday meal or when you need to feed a lot of people without spending a lot of money.

I first had chicken and rice casserole while over to dinner at my dad and step-mom’s house a couple of years ago.  My step-mom is a great cook, but when she pulled this out of the oven, I was a little bit skeptical because it’s certainly not pretty.  But hey, it’s chicken and rice, which I always like and know my kids will eat so we piled it on our plates and ate it all.  Then went back for seconds.  My husband might have even had thirds.  A couple of days later, I texted my step-mom asking for the recipe and was surprised at how short the ingredient list was: 5.  Five ingredients to make a tasty, filling meal.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 (10.5 oz) can cream of chicken
  • 1 (10.5 oz) can cream of mushroom
  • 3 lb. chicken breasts
  • 1 pkg onion soup mix
  • 2 c. Minute/instant rice
  • 2 cans water

    An easy and inexpensive 5 ingredient chicken and rice casserole.  Perfect for weeknights, weekends or when you need to feed a group.

    Okay, so it’s 6 ingredients, but who counts water?

    To get started, you need to preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and get out a 9×13 pan and some tin foil.  Next, remove the fat and cut your chicken into large chunks.

    An easy and inexpensive 5 ingredient chicken and rice casserole.  Perfect for weeknights, weekends or when you need to feed a group.

    Open the cans of soup and pour them straight into the pan, along with the rice and water.  Also, make sure you use minute/instant rice.  The real stuff won’t cook all the way through.  Stir it all together until thoroughly mixed. 

    An easy and inexpensive 5 ingredient chicken and rice casserole.  Perfect for weeknights, weekends or when you need to feed a group.

    Put the chicken in, spacing it throughout the pan as evenly as possible but don’t stress out about it.

    Take your packet of onion soup mix and sprinkle it over the top of the chicken and rice/soup.  Cover the pan with tin foil and pop it in the oven.

    An easy and inexpensive 5 ingredient chicken and rice casserole.  Perfect for weeknights, weekends or when you need to feed a group.

    Start checking the chicken at about an hour and a half, but it could take up to 2 hours to cook through.  Don’t go any longer than that, or you will end up with dry, overcooked chicken.

    We usually serve this with salad or steamed veggies, fruit and rolls.

    An easy and inexpensive 5 ingredient chicken and rice casserole.  Perfect for weeknights, weekends or when you need to feed a group.

    5 Ingredient Chicken and Rice Casserole
    Makes (1) 9×13 pan, serves 6

    Ingredients:

    • 1 can cream of chicken
    • 1 can cream of mushroom
    • 3 lb chicken breasts
    • 1 pkg onion soup mix
    • 2 c. minute/instant rice
    • 2 cans water

     Directions:

    1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and get out a 9×13 pan and some tin foil.  
    2. Remove the fat and cut your chicken into large chunks.
    3. Open the cans of soup and pour them straight into the pan, along with the rice and water.  (Make sure you use minute/instant rice.  The real stuff won’t cook all the way through.)  Stir it all together until thoroughly mixed.  Put the chicken in, spacing it throughout the pan as evenly as possible.
    4. Sprinkle the onion soup mix over the top of the chicken and rice/soup.  Cover the pan with tin foil and pop it in the oven.
    5. Start checking the chicken at about an hour and a half, but it could take up to 2 hours to cook through.  (Don’t go any longer than that, or you will end up with dry, overcooked chicken.)
    6. Serve warm with salad, steamed veggies, fruit and rolls.

    If you’re looking for another tasty chicken dish, check out my Parmesan Chicken!

    Simple, inexpensive, but most of all, moist and flavorful!  Makes great leftovers!

      You Know You’re a Blogger When…

      How do you know if you're a blogger?  Read what these 5 bloggers have to say!

      For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been interested in how people think and why they think the way they do, which in turn causes them to act a certain way.  I find it totally fascinating.  We each have different talents and abilities, likes and dislikes, interests and desires.  For example, I’m really glad that there are people out there who like accounting.  I hate accounting (and pretty much anything to do with math), but I am really grateful for them when tax season comes around. *wink*  There are also people out there who do this crazy thing called blogging.  And unless you are a blogger, you probably don’t think like a blogger or even know what bloggers think about in the first place.  Well my friends, you’re about to find out.

      When I started Sunshine & Munchkins 16 months ago, I didn’t really know what I was doing.  I set up a new blog separate from my personal one, bought a domain name, created social media accounts and read A LOT of articles found on Pinterest about all things blogging.  Slowly but surely, I’ve learned about HTML, photography, finding my voice, telling stories, sharing my vulnerabilities and challenges with strangers and making friends all over the world.  Blogging is a powerful thing, even if it’s only for the person doing it.

      But enough about me.  What you want to know is how to know if you’re a blogger!  Odds are if you’re reading this, you already are one and are looking to connect and maybe have a little laugh, almost like an inside joke that only bloggers will get.  If you aren’t a blogger, then this is going to be a fun little peek into our brains.  You’ll get to see how we think, feel and try not to go crazy trying to manage our lives and this blog thing that you don’t really understand why or how we do it.  (Kind of like our kids!)

      I’ve partnered up with 4 other awesome bloggers to share “You Know You’re A Blogger When…”  You can read the full post on Little Dove.  Then be sure to check out the other ladies and their blogs and social media.  You just mind find someone new to like (besides me, of course *wink*).

      The Best App for Organizing Kids Artwork and Schoolwork

      Learn more about the best app for organizing and managing your kids artwork and schoolwork

      When I was in 9th grade, my mom brought out a box of my old school papers, pictures I had drawn as a young child, lists of my first words and favorite foods to eat at different ages and so on.  She apologetically told me that she’d tried to keep as much as she could but couldn’t hold onto everything and hoped I was okay with what she’d held onto.  I opened a box and it was like a walk down memory lane, except I didn’t have memories of everything in the box.  I tried to organize everything by age and then school year but my mom couldn’t remember all the dates and could only give me approximate time frames.  If I was lucky, I found a year or even a full date written on the back.  All those pictures and school assignments are now in a scrapbook of mine that I started on shortly after receiving this box of memories and I continued to add to it as the years progressed.  Now I have kids of my own and I find myself wanting to keep every single picture they draw or art project they make, but let’s be real: there is no way I can physically hold onto everything.  So what’s the solution?  I’ll tell you: it’s called Keepy.

      I received a subscription from Keepy to try it out and share my experience with you.  As always, all opinions are 100% mine.  This post contains affiliate links.


      What is Keepy?

      Learn more about the best app for organizing and managing your kids artwork and schoolwork

      Keepy is an app you can download onto your phone (or other iOS or Kindle device) that is basically a way to keep track of all your kids art projects, drawings and even schoolwork.  By creating an account for each child, you can easily organize each picture or video you take.  You can then invite family or friends to view the pictures/videos you save and they are the only ones who have access it to.  No more group texts every time you want to show off how creative or smart your child is–just save the picture and anyone on your list will get an email about the new Keepy you’ve saved and they can view it on their own time frame.  (You can also choose to send it to a specific person rather than everyone.)  Another awesome thing about Keepy is that you can add descriptions, crop, rotate and even add video of your child talking about the project, drawing, artwork or schoolwork.

      My Experience with Keepy

      I have to tell you that I was so excited to learn about this app.  I had already started taking pictures of my daughter’s preschool crafts that she brought home last year and tried to organize them into a folder in another app, but it was annoying and time consuming, plus I didn’t think everyone I was friends with would care about seeing them.  I continued taking pictures, hoping to find another solution.  When I was approached about trying out Keepy, my answer was a huge “YES!”  I actually had this pile of papers in my kitchen that I’d been meaning to take pictures of so I grabbed that and got started.

      Setting up the app was really easy.  I downloaded it from the Google Play Store and right off the bat, I received prompts on how to set everything up.  (I have an Android but it’s also available for iOS and Kindle.)  As part of my collaboration with Keepy, they provided me with an unlimited account which meant that I could download and save as many pictures as I want in a month for up to a year, at which point I would need to either renew or continue with a monthly or basic (free) account.  I set up accounts for both of my kids and started adding “fans” which are the people I want to share my Keepys with.  (If I want to add my husband to the account as a parent, he can also add photos or videos to the account!)

      Learn more about the best app for organizing and managing your kids artwork and schoolwork

      Then I took pictures of each item I wanted to save, cropped and rotated them (if needed), wrote a description about the project and saved it under the right kid.  A few days after downloading the app, my daughter brought me a picture she’d drawn and started telling me a story about it.  After she was done I told her I wanted to record her telling the story again, so I grabbed my phone, took a picture of her drawing, and recorded a video of her talking about the picture.  (They have it set up so that it uses the forward facing camera and kids can see themselves talk.)  It was a really fun and cute way to save that little memory and there’s no way I could have captured that simply in words in a description of the picture.

      Learn more about the best app for organizing and managing your kids artwork and schoolwork

      Each time I take pictures on my phone, I receive a prompt from the app asking if I want to organize the photos.  This is great because I have the best of intentions of saving pictures in the right place, but forget so the reminder is really helpful.  I can always go back and edit the description or add a video which means I have flexibility and don’t have to do everything right then.

      Another great feature of Keepy is that you can save videos as well as pictures.  You can organize everything into different folders, tag which child(ren) are in it and share it the same way you do with pictures!  Seriously, I’ve been blown away at how versatile and robust this app is!

      So far, I’ve loved using this app and it’s ease of use, flexibility and range of features have been a huge motivator for me to continue using it.  I did have a couple of questions as I started using the app and when I emailed their support, they got back to me really quickly which I greatly appreciated.  They were helpful and my issues were resolved quickly and efficiently.

      Learn more about the best app for organizing and managing your kids artwork and schoolwork

      Now What?

      So you’ve decided you want to get a handle on managing and organizing your kids artwork and schoolwork.  Good for you! *wink*  Click on this link HERE to download it on your phone (or other iOS or Kindle device).  You can try out a basic account with no strings attached and see how you like it.  Each account has a password you can set up so you can access the app from different devices.

      With a basic account, you can upload up to 5 photos/videos per month.  If you want to do more than that, you can upgrade to a monthly account for $2.99/mo, or a yearly account for $9.99/yr.  Both will give you the ability to upload unlimited photos/videos.

      If you want to have something more tangible to give as a gift (Mother’s Day or Father’s day anyone?) or keep at home, you do have the option to print out an 8×8 photobook of your Keepys.

      I hope my experience with Keepy has motivated you to check it out, use it and feel like you can still keep your child’s memories without feeling like you have to keep every. single. paper. *wink*

      What feature of Keepy appeals most to you?

      4 Ways To Style A Floral Skirt

      Floral skirts are a fun and versatile way to brighten up your wardrobe.  See 4 different ways to style a floral skirt by clicking the link!

      Before I had kids, I dressed up a lot more.  I wore heels and my skirts and dresses had less spandex in them.  There were days I’d wake up and think, “I’ll wear a skirt/dress today, just for fun!”  Fast forward to today and my daily wardrobe consists of jeans and a t-shirt with a cardigan thrown over the top with flats (nothing wrong with that).  Because when I’m chasing two kids around, running errands, playing on the ground or in the yard, I need to feel like what I’m wearing can keep up with my lifestyle.  At the same time, I want to look and feel put together and what I wear often affects how I feel.

      I received this skirt in exchange for my review and promotion but all thoughts and opinions are 100% mine.  This post also contains affiliate links.

      Think about it: you know you’re going to be spending a lazy day at home and what do you put on?  Comfy bottoms and a t-shirt.  Going out with your friends or spouse?  Clothes that you love and look good in.  Running errands?  Definitely some flats or tennis shoes.  I’ll be totally honest: most days I don’t feel like getting all the way put together with my make up on and hair done.  I’m happy if I got to take a shower before the kids start making messes or trying to fix their own breakfast (which usually results in the aforementioned messes).  But the days where I put on something that feels a little bit nicer also lifts my mood and makes me feel better about myself.  One of the those “somethings” that I put on? A floral skirt.

      I like to get the most use out of my clothes as possible which means that I love pieces that are transitional or that I can wear year round.  Floral skirts are one of those pieces and they are quickly becoming a favorite of mine.  With the variety of patterns and colors available, it’s just a matter of finding one that fits your style (and lifestyle).

      Today I want to share 4 ways you can style a floral skirt.  My hope is that you will be inspired to look in your closet and refresh your wardrobe as we move into a new season.  With the exception of this skirt, I had everything else already in my closet.  I didn’t buy any accessories, shoes or tops to go with it.  Each outfit is one I could easily wear and move around in while taking care of my children, which for me is key, since I have them with me most of the time.

      So scroll through the pictures below and see if anything jumps out at you.  I’ve included looks you can wear to the office, meetings, church, date night, running errands or even a day at the park with your kids.

      Floral skirts are a fun and versatile way to brighten up your wardrobe.  See 4 different ways to style a floral skirt by clicking the link!

      Floral skirts are a fun and versatile way to brighten up your wardrobe.  See 4 different ways to style a floral skirt by clicking the link!

      Floral skirts are a fun and versatile way to brighten up your wardrobe.  See 4 different ways to style a floral skirt by clicking the link!

      Floral skirts are a fun and versatile way to brighten up your wardrobe.  See 4 different ways to style a floral skirt by clicking the link!

      Floral skirts are a fun and versatile way to brighten up your wardrobe.  See 4 different ways to style a floral skirt by clicking the link!

      Floral skirts are a fun and versatile way to brighten up your wardrobe.  See 4 different ways to style a floral skirt by clicking the link!

      Floral skirts are a fun and versatile way to brighten up your wardrobe.  See 4 different ways to style a floral skirt by clicking the link!
      Find the tutorial for my Mama Bear shirt HERE

      Floral skirts are a fun and versatile way to brighten up your wardrobe.  See 4 different ways to style a floral skirt by clicking the link!
      See the tutorial for my Mama Bear shirt HERE

      Did you find something you love?  The style of skirt I got is called the Ashlyn Floral Pencil Skirt in blue (also comes in black).  I love the way it fits because it allows me to move in it and it doesn’t ride up at all!  This particular skirt has a little bit of spandex in it and is made of a thicker scuba-like material.  I am 5’9″ and wear a size 5 so I got the Medium to give me a little more length.

      If you’ve been searching for the perfect floral skirt (or just love buying more of them), you have to check out the amazing sale that Cents of Style is running this weekend as part of their Fashion Friday!  They have over 10 patterns to choose from and each one is only $19.95 plus free shipping with the code: FLORALSTORY.  This deal runs from today, 2/17/17 thru 2/19/17.  To take advantage of this deal, click HERE to go straight to the Fashion Friday deal page and see all the skirts you can choose from.

      I also want to give a shout out to my friend Kendra from Kendra Leigh Photography and Video for the fun pictures in this post.  If you haven’t already, check out her guest post from Wednesday about using natural light in photography and enter the giveaway to win a spot in her Snap Happy photography class!

      What is your favorite way to style a floral skirt?

      Using Natural Light In Your Photography (Plus a Giveaway!)

      Learn how to use diffused light in your photography to instantly improve your pictures.

      In today’s world, cameras are only an arm length away (or less!).  Like many people, I keep my phone nearby during the day in order to check my texts or emails, but more than anything, I want a camera close by to capture pictures or videos of my kids.  But how many times have I taken a picture thinking it’s going to turn out so great, only to be disappointed because of a lighting issue?  Let me tell you, the answer is a lot.  And it’s frustrating!  But the good news is, using light to your advantage is a skill you can learn, especially with the help of a good teacher.

      Meet Kendra from Kendra Leigh Photography and Video.  If you’ve been around my blog for a while, you might remember the guest post she did last spring about how to choose colors for family pictures.  It’s a fantastic post and I highly recommend it if you’re considering taking family pictures any time in the near future.  In addition, Kendra is the person behind many of my more styled shoots (the ones where I’m in the picture), such as this and this as well as one coming up this Friday. She is a very talented photographer and I’m so lucky to have her as my friend.

      Today, Kendra is going to be sharing an important tip on how to use light to capture those beautiful images on your camera that you see with your eyes.

      ********************

      Learn how to use diffused light in your photography to instantly improve your pictures.

      I am Kendra Hill of Kendra Leigh Photography and Video; I’ve been a professional photographer for three years, and have a Bachelor’s degree in Film from UVU.  Because I take pictures all the time, and I love what I do, I’ve been able to learn many tips and tricks on how to use different qualities of light to capture beautiful images.  The mastery of light is something everyone can learn, and I will teach you how to create beautiful images regardless of what camera you have!

      One of the best ways to improve the quality of your photography is to ‘see the light.’  Light is the most powerful tool we have when we take a picture.  It can make the ordinary look absolutely extraordinary.  There are quite a few kinds of light, which we will talk about during the Snap Happy Course (see details below).  One of the best types of light for photography is diffused light.

      What is diffused light?

      When using natural sunlight, it can be very harsh when shining directly on your subject.  But, it can be diffused by cloud cover, a doorway, garage, window, tree overhang, etc.  By using an object to diffuse harsh front light, it becomes a softer, more flattering light.

      Learn how to use diffused light in your photography to instantly improve your pictures.
      Sheer curtains diffuse the light in this photo

      If at all possible, you want to avoid harsh front light as it creates dramatic shadows, and often leaves your subject squinting to protect their eyes.  We don’t always have a choice on what time of day we take our pictures, and it is important to capture your memories regardless of the light you have to work with.

      Learn how to use diffused light in your photography to instantly improve your pictures.
      Trees diffuse light in this photo

      However, if you can find a tree, door, sheer curtains, or other way to soften that harsh light it will help you to create more beautiful images.  This is only one natural lighting technique.

      Learn how to use diffused light in your photography to instantly improve your pictures.
      Edge of wall diffuses the light in this photo

      Coming in March is a photography class you don’t want to miss.  It’s called Snap Happy and in this class, I’m teaching you how to take the best photos possible, in any kind of light, whether it is noon or dusk.  This is a local, hands-on class on March 4, 2017 from 2-5 PM in Springville, UT.  (Sorry to those of you out of state or not within driving distance!)

      This beginning photography class will cover:

      • Equipment
      • Protecting your Memories
      • The 5 Steps to Happy Snaps
      • How to Lose 10 lbs in the Camera
      • And a Q&A

      The Snap Happy class is $60 for a 2-hour technical course, followed by a photoshoot with a child model, or we can take photos of each other if you want, so you can practice what you’ve learned.  When I have received your class fee, your spot is secured. I have a limited number of seats and they are filling up, so sign up quickly.  This is a class you will not want to miss!  To give another person the opportunity to transform their snaps, Shani and I have teamed up to do a giveaway and present one of our followers on social media a chance to win one of our remaining spots!  If you send in your class fee to secure your spot and happen to win our contest, your fee will be refunded.

      A DSLR is not a requirement, however, portions of the class which discuss manual functions may not be applicable on other cameras.

      If you have any further questions, please email me at kendra@klphotographyandvideo.com, or call/text me at 385-221-8849.

       ********************
      I’ve got to tell you that I have made the mistake of taking pictures of my kids outside, knowing that light is important for good pictures, only to end up with squinty eyes or hands over the face because I put them directly in the sun.  Have you been there too?  
      The giveaway for (1) Snap Happy class will run from Wednesday, February 15 to Tuesday, February 21 ending at midnight MST.  The winner will be announced on both my and Kendra’s Facebook page on Wednesday, February 22.  If you’d like to enter the giveaway, see the requirements below.  Good luck!
      Requirements:
      • 14 years or older
      • Ability to come to the class in Springville, UT on March 4, 2017 from 2-5pm
      • Have a camera (any kind!)

      To enter the giveaway, you will need to:

      • Visit Sunshine & Munchkins Facebook page (1 entry)
      • Visit Kendra Leigh Photography and Videos Facebook page (1 entry)
      • Leave a comment below about a photography technique you’d like to learn (1 entry)
      • Follow Sunshine & Munchkins on Instagram (optional: extra entry)
      • Follow Kendra Leigh Photography and Video on Instagram (optional: extra entry)

      I am signed up to take Kendra’s class next month and I am so excited to be able to learn from a professional and then try out what I learn on my poor, unsuspecting kids.  Good luck and if you know someone who would be interested in signing up for the class or entering the giveaway, send them my way!

      a Rafflecopter giveawayhttps://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

      Mermaid/Under the Sea Party

      Everything you need for a fun and simple under the sea or mermaid birthday party!

      For my daughter’s 5th birthday, she wanted a mermaid party.  Originally she had asked for a mermaid beach party but when I reminded her that mermaids live in the ocean, she came up with the idea to change it to a mermaid/under the sea party. *wink*  I had her help me look through Pinterest and pinned any ideas she liked to my party ideas board.  It was fun to have her help me plan it out and be involved but it also made me a little sad because it means she is growing up.

      This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional charge to you.

      I started by making a list of the different aspects of the party: invitations, games, activities, food and decor.  I made the invitations on my computer and printed them out at home.  I kept it pretty simple in terms of the games: fishing for prizes and pin the tail on the whale.  Our craft/activity was to decorate little “treasure boxes” with stickers, jewels and crayons/markers.  The food was one of my favorite parts to plan (details below).  And while I had the best of intentions when it came to decorations, I was also going through my miscarriage that same week and so I had to cut down.  You can find a breakdown of each aspect of the party below.  Feel free to use any of these ideas!

      Invitations

      Invitation for a mermaid or under the sea birthday party

      I made the invitations using my computer and some wording I adapted from an invite idea I saw on Pinterest.  It said: Come for a dive!  Our little mermaid (child’s name) is turning 5!  I found a silhouette of a mermaid tail online which I saved and inserted into the word program I used.  Then I printed it out on white cardstock and cut it down to size with the name of the child who was invited on top.

      Games

      Fishing for Prizes
      I went to the Dollar Tree and bought a variety of things for the kids to “fish” for: stickers, necklaces, rings, paddle boards and tops.  I also found a pack of two mini plastic buckets that were the perfect size.  Both my kids have little fishing rods with plastic hooks on the end that latch so we used one of those and attached the handle of the bucket that way.  We have a half wall leading down to our stairs so I just went on the other size with the prizes while my husband helped the kids go fishing.  Because we had boys and girls at the party, I made sure to ask who was fishing and gave prizes accordingly.

      Pin the Tail on the Whale
      While at the Dollar Tree picking up prizes, I also grabbed a couple pieces of blue posterboard.  On one, I drew a large whale shape, including the tail, then I cut it all out.  I drew a line across the part of the tail I wanted the kids to “pin”, cut it off and used that piece as a template for all the other tails.  I wrote the names of each child on the tail beforehand to save time.  We blindfolded each child and turned them around the number of times that matched their age, pointed them in the right direction and then let them go.

      Everything you need for a fun and simple under the sea or mermaid birthday party!

      Craft/Activity

      I had hoped to find some inexpensive treasure chests the kids could decorate, but the closest I could find was some paper mache boxes from Hobby Lobby that cost $.50 a piece.  I had grabbed a variety of stickers and adhesive foam shapes from the Dollar Tree and cut them up and put them in containers that I spaced between the kids.  We also pulled out the markers and crayons and let them go to town.  (Make sure you (or the child) write the name on the box.)  We encouraged them to put their fishing prizes in their treasure boxes to try and keep everything together.

      Everything you need for a fun and simple under the sea or mermaid birthday party!

      Everything you need for a fun and simple under the sea or mermaid birthday party!

      Everything you need for a fun and simple under the sea or mermaid birthday party!

      Decorations

      Decorations were pretty minimal.  I had dreams of crepe paper and balloons and cut outs of fish and sea shells all over but it just didn’t happen.  Instead, I found these little tissue paper pom poms at (where else?) the Dollar Tree and strung a couple of those above the table where we had the food.  Aaanndd…that was it.  Haha.  I didn’t worry about it too much and I don’t think a bunch of 4-5 year olds really cared either.

      Food

      Ah, yes.  What is a party without food?  There are at least a million food ideas for an under the sea or mermaid party on Pinterest and they are pretty amazing!  Basically, I picked out a few that I liked and knew would be simple and stuck with those.

      Cupcakes  I made vanilla cupcakes with a yummy vanilla buttercream frosting.  I colored it using the Neon food coloring which turned out to be the perfect shade of blue.  I piped it on and then placed a seashell made from melted candy wafers on top.  (I found the mold at Hobby Lobby for $2.)  I sprinkled some crushed up graham cracker on top to look like sand and placed one little “pearl” (chocolate candy) on top.  They turned out so cute!

      Everything you need for a fun and simple under the sea or mermaid birthday party!

      Everything you need for a fun and simple under the sea or mermaid birthday party!

      Oyster Cookies  I used vanilla wafer cookies, the same buttercream frosting I used for the cupcakes and another chocolate pearl to make the oyster cookies.

      Everything you need for a fun and simple under the sea or mermaid birthday party!

      Mermaid Tail Rice Krispie Treats  I used the individually wrapped store bought Rice Krispie Treats for this.  I cut kabob sticks in half and poked them into the treats.  I melted more candy wafers in a tall container and then dipped the treats about 1/2 to 2/3 into it before placing it on wax paper to cool.  I made the seashells by printing out a template on my printer and placing wax paper over the top, then piping more melted candy wafers it on top of the shape.  (A word to the wise: let the melted wafers cool a bit in the piping bag before trying to trace the template.  If it is too hot, it will just run out the tip in a blob.  Ask me how I know…)

      Everything you need for a fun and simple under the sea or mermaid birthday party!

      Blue Raspberry Kool-Aid  Self explanatory. *wink*

      Goldfish Crackers  I totally forgot to set these out and probably would have been a good balance to all the sugar, but it is what it is.

      (Most of the kids took their treats home on paper plates from my favorite store for party stuff: the Dollar Tree.)

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      Afterwards, we opened presents and then parents were coming to pick up their kids!  The entire party lasted about an hour and a half with 10 kids.  My daughter loved it and kept telling everyone about her mermaid party.

      Do you like doing themed parties?  What have been your favorite (to throw or attend)?