How to Embrace Back to School Season

Over the past few months, we’ve discovered a new appreciation for our schools and teachers, especially as we look ahead to back to school season. This time of year always feels like the holidays for many parents and students. While this year likely continues to look and feel different for many students and families, we still believe back to school can (and should!) be celebrated. No matter if you’re prepping to learn virtually from home or return back to the classroom, below are four tips for embracing back to school this year. 

Start Incorporating Learning: 

Depending on where you reside, you’re either days away from returning to school or you have another month filled with summer fun. Either way, one of the best ways to start getting into the school mindset is to ease it back into your everyday routine. Set aside time for your kids to read, switch to an educational game on a computer or iPad, dive into a math game, or complete a science experiment. By welcoming learning back now, students will feel more ready to fully embrace a school schedule in the days and weeks to come.

Create a Schedule: 

The summer is when we all relax our schedules and embrace a go-with-the-flow mindset, but schedules are key during the school year. Take a moment to revisit first grade teacher Mrs. Lamb’s tips from the spring. She and her kids discovered how they can best learn while at home. Mrs. Lamb said sometimes that involves incorporating more focused work during the morning followed by an increased emphasis on play in the afternoon. Start determining how you think your family’s ideal school day will look and feel now. Then give it a try in advance of your official start date.

Shop for School:

We know how much students love shopping for new school supplies, and this year should not be any different even if you’re planning to learn virtually from home. Purchase new folders, notebooks, pens, pencils, crayons, markers, tech, and more just like you normally would. This nod to normalcy will feel comfortable, familiar, and exciting to your kids, and we think you will enjoy it too.

Also, consider shopping for back to school clothes! We’ve found it’s best to make a concerted effort to get dressed every day even if we’re working at home, and we think the same is true for kids. Think about shopping for new tops, pants, dresses, and shoes from their favorite stores, like Carter’s, OshKosh B’gosh, GAP, Kohls, Dicks Sporting Goods, and more through your Shopkick app as you embrace the fall season together. You’ll earn kicks, and your kids will keep up with their fun school year style. 

Embrace the School Season:

Just as you did during the spring, now is the time to embrace the school season whether it involves learning from home or returning back to the classroom. The more you and your student lean into learning, the more fun and normal it will become. Many of us are facing the same challenges, so keep this in mind: We’re all learning together, Shopkickers!

How are you and your kids embracing back to school this year? We would love to hear your thoughts on Facebook! 

P.S: For more on our “How to Homeschool” series with Mrs. Lamb, click here!

Camp Shopkick: Family Fun Week

The summer fun themes continue, Shopkickers! Last time, we shared activities, recipes, and even crafts for you and your family to enjoy with your grill in mind. And, this week, we’re back with 10 new ways you and your family and play together in your backyard this summer and well into the fall. Let’s get started!

Tie-Dye:

Tie-dye is the must-do craft this summer, and we think it’s because it’s quick and easy (albeit a little messy!). There are all-in-one kits for sale online from most craft stores, and we also discovered great tutorials from the dye brand, Rit. On their site, Rit shares new methods for creating tie-dye patterns, how to best prep your fabric before you dye it, and even faster ways to encourage your pieces to dry. Take a look!

Open a Little Free Library:

This summer, we have been reading non-stop! Although we have all largely been keeping our physical distance from our friends and neighbors, one fun way to help your community to feel more connected is by building a Little Free Library for your neighborhood. The idea is neighbors can stop by and take a new book, and the hope is they will add a new or used book to your library in return.

Put on a Play:

Put your family’s acting skills to the test and put on a play or talent show! You can encourage your kids to create a show of their own or have them recreate an old favorite. You can also encourage them to show off their talents. If friends and family want to see the debut performance, encourage them to stop by with masks and their own chairs placed 6’ apart.

Design a Fairy Garden:

We have suggested planting vegetable and fruit gardens, and flower gardens are always a given. But, we have a new garden idea: create a fairy garden! Country Living has great inspiration for you to use to create one of your own at home.

Jump Rope:

Whether your kids have already experienced the old-fashioned fun of jump rope games or they have yet to play, embrace this classic game at home! For new jumpers, consider having them begin by jumping rope on grass. This way if someone does trip, they’re falling on a soft surface rather than on hard pavement.

Make Popsicles:

What is summer without a cool treat to enjoy outside? Try your hand at making your own popsicles. With a few simple ingredients, you can create smoothie inspired popsicles your kids will love making and eating. Thank you to Lemon Tree Dwelling for sharing this delicious recipe! If you’re allergic to dairy, try adding extra fruit and orange juice in lieu of yogurt.

Add Swings:

If you have a large tree in your yard that feels like it’s simply waiting for a swing, now is the time to install one! Try shopping online, make your own, or stop by your local hardware store for a pre-made option. Another idea? Install a porch or deck swing!

Play Mini Golf:

Put your golfing skills to the test from home! Consider purchasing a mini golf set to enjoy in your backyard, or task your kids with coming up with a course for everyone to play. Don’t forget your clubs, balls, and scorecards!

Play Life-Size Memory:

We love playing backyard games because they feel even more fun when they’re life-sized. So, try creating your own version of memory! Make the cards big enough to create a large game in your backyard on your lawn. Who can match the cards the quickest?

Car Wash:

With soap, sponges, and a hose, you can create a few hours of fun for your kids outside with a car wash! Think about having them help you to wash the family’s cars, or create a “kid’s car wash” where they wash their own bikes and scooters. Everything could likely use a good clean. Why not make an afternoon out of this form of water fun?

How has your family been spending time outside together in your backyard this summer? Chime in on Facebook with your ideas!

Merry Christmas in July: How to Save Early with Shopkick

We have reached July, Shopkickers! One of the best things we have focused on this year is the joy of simply having something to look forward to, and Christmas definitely fits the bill. Even though Christmas and the holiday season are still six months away, that simply means there is plenty of time to sneak Christmas songs onto your playlist, start organizing your Christmas movie watch list, and begin prepping to save for the holiday season.

We know every little bit helps, especially during a year filled with so much uncertainty, so celebrating Christmas in July by sharing easy ways you can earn kicks and gift cards to stow away well in advance of the holiday season. Let’s dive into the simple steps you can take before, during, and after you shop! 

Before Shopping:

  1. Turn on Bluetooth for Walk-ins: When you open your Shopkick app, you will be prompted to turn on Bluetooth. Make sure you do! This enables you to receive kicks, whenever available, for walking into your favorite stores. 
  2. Link Your Card: Whether you’re shopping in stores or online, make sure to link your credit card. You can do this by clicking on the person icon in the upper left hand corner of the home screen. Then scroll down to “Linked Cards”, which is found under “My Account”. The trick is making sure to use the card that’s linked when you shop!
  3. Turn on Notifications: Whether you’re receiving notifications while you’re at home or as you’re walking into stores, make sure to enable them on your phone. This will allow you to be in the know about kicks before you start your shopping trip. 

During Shopping: 

  1. Scan While You Shop: While you’re shopping in stores, like Walmart, Target, and your grocery store, take a peek at the list of items that are available for you to earn kicks. While you’re strolling down the one-way aisles, scan! This is such a simple way to earn kicks on items you were already planning to purchase as well as those that might not be on your list during your current trip.  
  2. Submit Your Receipts: If you have scanned an item that also can be redeemed for more kicks by submitting your receipt, make sure you send a photo of your slip in! Your kicks will be rewarded shortly after your receipt is received by the Shopkick team. Keep an eye on your kick total, and watch it grow!

After Shopping: 

  1. Explore the Discover Tab: While you’re at home watching Hulu or enjoying your backyard, take a moment to explore the Discover Tab. You will find plenty of content, including lookbooks and links to blog posts. Plus, you also might just find hidden kicks!
  2. Watch Videos: Brands love launching videos in the app, so keep your eyes peeled! Videos appear while you’re shopping in stores, and they’re also on the Discover Tab. Make sure to watch so you can earn even more kicks.

What are your go-to ways to earn kicks? How are you saving for the holiday season? Let us know your best tips and favorite Christmas movies on Facebook!

Simple Ways to Get Outdoors This Summer

Summer feels a little different right now, so we have to take matters into our own hands and make the most of it! We are all definitely not trapped inside, so let’s keep making sure to get outside into the fresh air. Whether you’re a homebody or an adventurer, we’re sharing fun and simple ways to get outside, and we think you’ll find a perfect match among these suggestions! 

Host a Cookout

Not feeling up to planning a full day trip or excursion? Why not spend the day with loved ones by hosting a backyard barbecue?! While this may not be the most outdoorsy option, you’re bound to have a good time. Get creative by putting your own twist on classic recipes to make new traditions in your household. Plus, get active by pulling out a soccer ball or corn hole boards to get a little friendly competition going. Kids not around? Throw it back to your college years and dust off the old beer pong skills. Whatever activities you enjoy, getting out into the sun is key!

Start a Garden

Whether you have a small plot of land in your yard or a little planter box on your balcony, you can turn it into something beautiful and beneficial! Just by putting in a little bit of research into the types of plants that will thrive in your environment or based on the level of care you want to commit to, you’ll find something great that works for you. Will fresh herbs or tomatoes elevate your cooking? Will your favorite flowers (we love wildflowers and sunflowers!) liven up your space? Let’s find out! Grab some soil, seeds, and get to work! 

Check Out a Local Park

No matter where you live, there’s a park nearby to explore! An easy way to get out into a greener environment is to check out open, public spaces. Maybe it’s a metro park, neighborhood park, dog park, or even national park. Make a day out of it by bringing the kids, dog, frisbee, and picnic. Just getting some fresh air and a change of scenery can make a huge difference if you feel stuck in a tired schedule.

Go for a Hike (or Walk)

Hey outdoor enthusiast! You’re our type of gal/guy. A great way to get outside and embrace the natural world around you is to find a trail and get those steps in. Maybe you have a favorite hiking trail, or maybe you want to take up hiking as a new hobby. Either way, a great place to start is alltrails.com! You can plug in your location and find a spot that fits your desired location, activity, difficulty level, length, and so much more. Enjoy the warmer months by getting out and exploring nature! 

If a strenuous hike isn’t really your thing, you can still get moving with a low-intensity walk around similar trails, parks (see above), or even your neighborhood. Got kids? Building healthy habits and fun hobbies together like going on walks as a family is a great bonding opportunity.

Go Camping

If you’re really vying for a chance to get away from home, try planning a camping trip. It’s super easy to go online and reserve a campsite at a drive-in campground, or you could even backpack into a remote area if you’re feeling ambitious. Either way, just being immersed in nature and soaking up the sights, sounds, and smells can bring peace of mind and soul. Getting out of the house and finding adventure and/or tranquility within the natural world is an easy way to have a vacation on a budget. If you don’t have the time or energy to round up the troops and get away for the weekend, try pitching a tent in your backyard to have a fun but low-stress “getaway” with the kids!

Fruit Picking

It’s summer fruit season (a personal favorite of ours)! If day trips are more your speed, fruit picking is a fun, quick way to try something new, get out into the sun, and get your grocery shopping done. There are lots of fruits and veggies in season this time of year, so check out berry patches, stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, etc.) orchards, and local vegetable gardens that allow you to pick your own produce. If something like this doesn’t exist in your area, try hitting up a farmer’s market! You’ll still be able to find the freshest goods and greens, but the hard part of harvesting is already done for you.

How will you get outside this season? Keep the conversation going on Facebook!

The Best House Plants for Your Home

While we have been spending more time at home, we have been looking for ways to bring nature inside. It’s felt like a welcome respite to see plants and flowers throughout our homes! In order to source new house plants, we have been looking for online options with great selections. And, we have noticed 1800Flowers.com has plenty to explore! After searching through their inventory, we thought we would share some of the house plants we have discovered that promise to last for years while only requiring you to follow simple care instructions. 

The Best House Plants for Your Home | www.shopkick.com

Dieffenbachia Plant:

The Dieffenbachia Plant is available in three sizes on 1800Flowers.com – floor, table size, and shelf – which means you can choose the best option for your home. The leaves feature a variety of green and yellow tones, which we’re drawn to. Plus, the plant loves indirect sunlight and evenly moist soil. The care is simple, but it will require a little more effort than other options on our list.

The Best House Plants for Your Home | www.shopkick.com

My Pet Plant:

We spotted this Pet Plant, and immediately thought of dog and cat lovers as well as kids. The plant that arrives in the cat or dog planter is a spider plant, which only requires water when the soil is dry. Spider plants don’t love direct sunlight, but any other kind of light will work! If you opt to purchase this house plant, you can also choose to have it arrive with cat or dog treats for your real life animal.

The Best House Plants for Your Home | www.shopkick.com

Pilea Peperomioides Plant:

If you have heard about propagating, which means starting a new plant using a leaf and roots from an existing plant, the Pilea Peperomioides Plant might be for you! 1800Flowers.com describes this plant as one that has extra bright and airy green leaves. It requires water when the soil is dry, which means the care is very simple! Plus, it doesn’t grow too large, which means it will always look wonderful on a table, desk, or counter.

The Best House Plants for Your Home | www.shopkick.com

Snake Plant:

Snake Plants grow vertically, so they will always feel like 1800Flowers describes – modern and architectural. Similar to the other options on our list, snake plants only require water when the soil is dry, and they do enjoy indirect sunlight the most. A bonus? They purify the air! 

The Best House Plants for Your Home | www.shopkick.com

Fiddle Leaf Fig Floor Plant:

If you have spent any time reading blogs or exploring Instagram, you have likely seen Fiddle Leaf Fig trees! They are one of the most popular house plants, but be warned – they do require a bit more work in order to truly thrive. According to 1800Flowers.com, Fiddle Leaf Figs do best in inside spaces that offer indirect sunlight, watering when the soil is dry paired with daily misting, and space to grow. Humidity is also a bonus for Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees, so you will definitely benefit if you live in the south!

Do you like to grow house plants at home? What plants would you recommend that are easy to care for? Let us know on Facebook!

4 Mother’s Day Crafts for Kids

Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 10, so we are a little more than a week away from celebrating our favorite ladies. With that in mind, first grade teacher Mrs. Lamb was back on Facebook Live today to share four fun and sweet crafts your kids can make for any and all ladies who are impacting their lives. Let’s take a closer look at Mrs. Lamb’s ideas below! 

4 Mother’s Day Crafts for Kids:

Interview: 

Mrs. Lamb’s first suggestion is one of the easiest! Ask each of your kids a series of questions about each of their favorite ladies. You can either type their responses or ask them to write down their answers. Once the interview is complete, ask them to draw a portrait of the subject of their interview! Make sure to frame the final piece before mailing it or dropping it off on their favorite lady’s front porch.

I Wished for You Fingerprint Art:

This art project looks like a dandelion blowing in the wind, and kids will love adding their fingerprints. Mrs. Lamb said she and her kids dipped their thumbs in watercolor paint to create the piece they made, but any water based paint will do the trick. This is another craft you can easily frame and ship to a happy recipient. 

Simile Poem:

A simile poem is a great idea for older kids! Talk about similes. Then ask them to make comparisons. Your kids can also create patterns when coloring in the border, and they can also draw a portrait of their recipient. This is another piece you can frame and keep or drop into the mail.  

Heart Photo:

Mrs. Lamb’s final Mother’s Day craft suggestion is her favorite, and we love it too! Start by cutting hearts out of construction paper. Mrs. Lamb’s kids used red, but any color or a collection of colors will look wonderful. Once you have a group of hearts in various sizes, tape them onto your wall. You will want to place them slightly higher than your kids, and you will want them to start at a point and float either out or up. Finally, capture a photo of your kids “blowing” the hearts out of their hands. The result is a photo that looks like they’re making a loving wish for their favorite ladies. This is a great project to text or email to friends and family, or you can print the photo and send hard copies in the mail.

What will your kids make for their most-loved ladies in honor of Mother’s Day? Let us know! Make sure to watch the full Facebook Live, and tune in next week for more fun learning tips from Mrs. Lamb.

5 Books Turned into Shows to Watch on Hulu

Since the debut of streaming services, like Hulu, there has felt like there is a complete plethora of new movies and series. That’s definitely beneficial now while many of us are practicing physical distancing at home! We’re always most curious to watch shows that originated as books because we’re eager to see how the production and creative teams have changed the storylines (if at all). So, today we’re highlighting five books turned into TV shows that you can start streaming now on Hulu! 

1. Little Fires Everywhere

Celeste Ng’s “Little Fires Everywhere” debuted in March as a new series on Hulu, and Hello Sunshine, Reese Witherspoon’s production company, is one of the teams behind the series. Reese also stars in the show as Elena, one of the main characters, along with Kerry Washington, who plays Mia – an artist who moves to town with her daughter Pearl. Through twists and turns, the series follows both women and their families as their lives intertwine in the ‘90s in Shaker Heights, Ohio. You will be guessing about who started the little fires you see in the first scene until the very end of episode eight when the season comes to a close. We’re already hoping there will be a season two!

2. Big Little Lies

Liane Moriarty’s “Big Little Lies” is one of the author’s most well received novels. It weaves together the story about Madeline, Celeste, and Jane, and the book opens with a murder. The book felt made for TV, so when Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Shailene Woodley debuted on the screen as the famed characters, the series was immediately a cult favorite. The first season featured seven episodes, and fans were quickly requesting a second season. The creative team happily obliged, so there are currently two seasons available on Hulu!

3. Pretty Little Liars

If you enjoy YA novels with a mysterious twist, you will likely be a fan of “Pretty Little Liars”. The book series is set outside of Philadelphia, and it centers around the lives of five high school best friends. The problem is one of their friends, Alison, is found dead in her yard, and the four remaining friends keep receiving messages from “A”. Who is “A”? You’ll have to watch the series, which is available on Hulu, to find out! There are seven seasons available.

4. Pride & Prejudice

In 1995, Jane Austin’s “Pride and Prejudice” debuted on the BBC starring Colin Firth. Now, the famed novel and series are both available for you to stream on Hulu. There is only one season available, but it does tell the complete story of the Bennett sisters and their love interests, including Mr. Darcy.

5. Younger

Can Liza successfully find a new job in publishing after raising her daughter? Will her peers believe she’s half her age? “Younger” originated as a book by the same name by Pamela Redmond Satran, and the series, which is set in New York City, follows the same arc (with new twists, of course). Starring Sutton Foster and Hilary Duff, the series is reminiscent of “Gilmore Girls” if Lorelai and Rory were living in the city. There are currently six seasons of “Younger” available on Hulu, and the next season will hopefully debut later this year on TV Land. 

Will you read the book before watching the series? And, which series piques your interest the most? Let us know on Facebook!

How to Keep Your House Clean

Anyone else feel like they are constantly cleaning? Through researching and talking with friends and family to ask for opinions, we’ve landed on five tips that we’re already putting to the test.

Put Things Away:

It’s tempting to allow dishes to sit in your dishwasher, laundry to remain unfolded, and toys to stay where kids were last playing with them, but try to put things away instead. Run your dishwasher overnight and put your dishes away while you’re waiting for coffee to brew in the morning. Fold your laundry in your laundry room so you only need to put it away. Ask your kids to put away their toys at the end of the day so they can start playing again in an organized space the next day. By putting things away as you go, you won’t have to spend more than a few moments tidying up at any one time. 

Clean Room-by-Room:

We like to clean each room completely – whether we’re cleaning it quickly or doing a deeper clean – rather than jumping from room to room. By doing this, we’ve found it’s easy to stick to a schedule. Another idea is to do a task a day (i.e.: vacuum, dust, mop, etc.).

Let Small Tasks Add Up:

When we think of small tasks, many of the chores we’ve mentioned, like running and emptying the dishwasher and putting things away, come to mind. We can also add sticking to a laundry schedule, sorting through mail, making sure keys are kept in a central location, and shoes aren’t scattered to the list. If you have kids, they can easily help to ensure these small tasks add up throughout the week – it’s their space too!

Do a Quick Clean: 

Sometimes when we think about cleaning a room, we think we need to completely scrub down every corner of the space. In most cases, that doesn’t have to be true! You can quickly clean a space by dusting or wiping down surfaces, vacuuming, and generally tidying up within 20-30 minutes. By completing a quick clean of high traffic spaces, like bedrooms and bathrooms, frequently, you will feel confident cutting back on the amount of times you choose to deep clean the same rooms.

Create a Playlist:   

Cleaning does not have to be something you dread! One of the best ways we’ve found to enjoy the time we spend tidying is by creating a playlist. Look to songs that put you in a great mood and want to move with purpose or cue up a podcast or two to listen to while you clean. Either promises to take your mind off of what you’re actually doing (cleaning!) while making you feel encouraged to complete the task even faster. 

What are your top tips for cleaning? We’re ready to hear what you do! Leave your comments for us on Facebook.

5 Trendy Workouts to Try at Home

Aside from staying home during the current pandemic, one of the best things we can do for our mental and physical wellbeing is to stay active. Spending 10, 30, 45, or 60 minutes a day invested in a workout has the potential to make you feel strong and accomplished because you’re sweating and moving your body. Thanks to the known benefits and in an effort to encourage us to continue (or start!) our workout routines, many gyms and fitness studios are now posting their classes online. So, if you have been wanting to try out a trendy workout, like Peloton, Barre3, or Orangetheory, keep reading because we’re sharing five trendy workouts you can try for home!

1. Peloton App

You’ve likely heard of Peloton and their bikes, but did you know they also have an app filled with plenty of other workouts? Try out yoga, strength training, walking, running, cycling (of course), and more via the app with any of their trained instructors. Classes range from quick 10 minute sessions to hour long classes you can participate in live or at your leisure (everything is saved). At the time we’re publishing this post, Peloton is currently offering a 90-day free trial. 

2. Obe Fitness 

Obe Fitness is known for their 28 minute workouts, and they recommend alternating between cardio (SWEAT), strength (STRENGTH), and yoga (FLOW) classes throughout the week. Because the sessions are short and known for their high energy feeling, we won’t be surprised if you achieve their recommended goal of 5 classes/week. Try a free trial to see what you think before joining and paying for a monthly membership.

3. Shopkick 

Have you worked out with us yet? We have been launching new workout videos on Mondays and Wednesday in the app and also on Facebook Live! Mondays is devoted to mindfulness, so join us to practice yoga and stretch with Cat. On Wednesday, join us as we try a different workout each week. We’ve done Zumba, stretching, and core work so far with Nikki!

4. Orangetheory 

If you have not yet tried Orangetheory, you likely have a friend who is a big fan. Typically, Orangetheory workouts are an hour long, and they’re designed to work on “endurance, strength, and power”. Currently, the team behind Orangetheory is launching daily workouts for you to do at home with most lasting for 30 minutes. Everything is free through the Orangetheory At Home program!

5. Barre3

Barre3 combines strength training together with ballet, and the full-body workouts are known to be challenging. Choose your level and stream workouts online during a time that suits your schedule. Currently, you can enjoy a 15-day free trail and some items you may wish to purchase to use during your workouts are discounted.  

Join us on Facebook as we stay active together!

At Home Science Experiment: Egg Drop

First grade teacher Mrs. Lamb was live again yesterday on Facebook, and we’re back to recap her session! This time, she dove into science after receiving requests to explore this fun subject. And, after chatting with a friend, she decided to explore the egg drop. Many of us remember the day when we had to create a structure that would protect an egg from a fall, and Mrs. Lamb introduced her kids to the experiment first and now you’re invited to take part too.

The steps to try this experiment at home are simple!

How to Do an Egg Drop Experiment at Home:

  1. Explain the concept of dropping an egg to your student. Older kids may have learned about force in their science classes, which is the ultimate lesson. However, there is plenty of creativity to be had for younger students too.
  2. Ask your student to create a structure they think can withstand a drop from a second or third story window or even from a lower down ladder. Encourage them to get creative and think about what might protect their egg during a fall. The key thing Mrs. Lamb noted was she encouraged her kids to use anything that could be recycled, which is a great idea in general and also in celebration of Earth Day.
  3. Encourage your student to decorate their egg! Mrs. Lamb’s kids got creative and drew on their eggs, which we thought was such a fun touch. They also named them for even more personalization.
  4. Prepare the egg for the drop! Place it inside the structure, make sure it’s secure, then head to the spot where you will drop it.
  5. Mrs. Lamb’s kids waited in the yard outside where they took videos of their eggs dropping in slow motion. The videos are fantastic!
  6. Open the structures to see if your egg survived the fall. The goal is for it to be intact.

After taking a peek at their eggs post-fall and reviewing why certain structures worked while others didn’t, Mrs. Lamb’s kids asked to try again. One experiment turned into a complete activity for Mrs. Lamb and her family, and we think you and your family will have fun too!

Will you take part in the egg drop experiment? If you do, make sure to share it with us on Facebook. Stay tuned for next week because Mrs. Lamb will be back on Tuesday to share even more ideas live!