Back to School Mantle Decorating Ideas

There is always that time of year between the 4th of July and the start of fall/Halloween where I am never quite sure how to decorate. There aren’t really any holidays that require decorations but I don’t like leaving my piano bare. So I figured, why not decorate for Back to School? There are lots of cute items associated with school (apples, globes, books, etc.) and I knew I could make a fun Back to School Mantle with some creative shopping around my house.

Back to School Mantle DecorationsBack to School Mantle Decorations

I am pretty happy about this arrangement and the fact that I didn’t have to buy a single thing for it! I left up my $3 thrift store deal from the 4th of July display I stole decorations from my son’s room (he’s two, he won’t care) and off the bookshelf in our living room.

Back to School Mantle DecorationsDon’t you just love old books? There is something so charming about their faded covers and worn pages. I don’t know if you can describe a book as cozy, but that is the word that comes to my mind. Old books are cozy!

And speaking of old books, I love this large leather dictionary I found at a thrift store several years ago. It is from the late 1800s and the inside has so many beautiful illustrations to go along with the definitions. It is definitely in some rough shape so I try not to handle it too much, but it is perfect for this back to school mantle.

Back to School Mantle Decorations

And any back to school display wouldn’t be complete without a jar full of shiny, new pencils and bright red apples!

Back to School Mantle DecorationsThe globe is one of the stolen pieces from my son’s room, I think it originally came from Ross? The board behind is a scrap piece of wood that I just spray painted to use as a backdrop and as a place to hang the fabric bunting.

Back to School Mantle DecorationsBack to School Mantle DecorationsI also created the A is for Apple print which I’m sharing with you all today! Download the PDF or save the JPEG to your computer for easy printing!


So what do you think? Will you decorate for back to school?


August 2017 Visiting Teaching Handout

The message for August 2017 Visiting Teaching is called Living a Consecrated Life, and I really appreciated the chance to ponder on this topic a little more. You can read the entire message here on

Whenever I think of the word consecration I usually think of sharing earthly goods but this quote from Elder Neal A. Maxwell gave me a whole new perspective. “We tend to think of consecration only as yielding up, when divinely directed, our material possessions. But ultimate consecration is the yielding up of oneself to God.”

The whole message is really great, and I think it is full of wonderful inspiration to share with your sisters as you visit them this month. Here is the VT Handout for the month to take along on your visit, mail in a card, or send it over in an email or text!


August 2017 Visiting Teaching Handout August 2017 Visiting Teaching Handout


Printable First Day of School Signs

I can’t believe that it is time to start talking about Back to School! We were just barely enjoying fireworks and parades and now all of sudden it is time for new pencils, backpacks, and first day of school outfits. The schools here start in two weeks so I know there is a lot of to do as everyone prepares. (And celebrates if you’re a parent!) I’ve created some new printables to help you out in at least one part of back to school. The traditional First Day of School Signs for your pictures!

Free Printable Back to School Signs- Preschool thru Senior Year

This is such a fun tradition to do every year with your kids. It is so special to be able to look back and see how they have changed and grown over the years.

**Okay, I’ve got to take a break and be honest for a second. If you were sitting next to me on the couch while I am typing this blog post you’d see me sitting here trying really hard to hold back the tears. Whhyyyy are my kids growing up so fast?! I just watched a video where a dad interviewed his daughter after every first day of school and whew, that one really brought on the tears. So taking these pictures is important, you won’t ever get another chance to capture this time in your child’s life again.**

Free Printable Back to School Signs- Preschool thru Senior YearI’ve made signs for every year of school from Preschool to Senior Year. And while yes, you may have to resort to some good natured mom guilt or bribing to get your teenagers to cooperate, go ahead and take their picture too! They’ll appreciate it when they’re older. At least that is what we moms tell ourselves as we are knee deep in laundry and dirty dishes.  :)

The First Day of School Signs are all formatted to fit on standard 8.5×11 paper so you can print right from your home computer. You can frame them, laminate them, or simply have your children hold the paper while you snap away. Easy peasy! I’ve broken the signs up into two PDF sets due to the file size so make sure you download both sets!

First Day of School Signs – Preschool thru 5th Grade

First Day of School Signs – 6th Grade thru Senior Year

Free Printable Back to School Signs- Preschool thru Senior Year

Travel Busy Book and Road Trip Printables

I recently heard the saying that once you start travelling with kids you no longer go on vacations, you go on trips. And while that made me laugh it is also kind of true in a way. The stress of travelling with kids can sometimes take away the relaxing vacation aspect parents so desperately need! But yet we travel with our kids anyway! Because there is nothing better than a family trip that creates memories, brings you closer together, and allows us to explore the world around us! I absolutely LOVE to travel and hope to go on as many family vacations as we possibly can! In preparation for our upcoming trip (which I’ll blog about later) I created a Travel Busy Book for each of my sweet kiddos to pass the time during our very long car ride.

Create a Travel Busy Book to bring more adventure to your next family vacation!

Each child receives their own binder with a few fun surprises inside! The Dollar Tree is a great place to find goodies for a road trip. You don’t want to spend a ton of money and they actually have some really fun items. Stickers, coloring books, short story books, and I even found these really cute dry erase bingo games! Heck, Sam and I might even play them on our own as we drive down the road!

Create a Travel Busy Book to bring more adventure to your next family vacation!My four year old loves hidden pictures! So when I found some online I knew I had to include them in our travel busy books too. My two year old is still a little young for them, but I printed the hidden pictures for his book anyway. He can enjoy looking at the images and scribbling on the pages so it is still great entertainment! You can find lots of free hidden picture printables at All Kids Network.

Create a Travel Busy Book to bring more adventure to your next family vacation!

Paper and  color pencils or crayons are a must! I put them in a zipper pouch rather than leaving them in their boxes to try to minimize the mess and spills. And of course a folder to hold any treasured artwork that is created along the way.

Create a Travel Busy Book to bring more adventure to your next family vacation!I also found this really cute free printable race track at Free Time Frolics, and it is perfect to include in the book for my car loving boy. A couple of hot wheels are all he needs to get lots of fun time out of this page!

Create a Travel Busy Book to bring more adventure to your next family vacation!I love these free alphabet and picture tracing printables from Tot Schooling. We have been working really hard on writing our letters and I love giving my daughter a fun way to practice as we drive.

Create a Travel Busy Book to bring more adventure to your next family vacation!And I am sharing the Adventure Awaits covers I created for our travel busy books! There are three different colors to choose from and they are made to be printed on a regular 8.5 x 11 piece of paper. Perfect for printing at home and slipping into the cover of your binder!


I hope this gives you some good ideas as you get ready to hit the road! Now go make those memories!


The BEST Water Play Games to Beat the Heat

Well we are full blown in the middle of an Arizona summer here and I am always on the lookout for water play activities to beat the heat! My kids and I recently came up with a new activity that has become our standard afternoon play in the backyard. We all love it! And it is definitely keeping us cool! Check out our video below!

Beat the Heat with Water Play Activities and Water Silhouettes

How many crazy outlines do you think you and your kids can come up with? Each different pose has us cracking up with laughter! Every family member from our littlest to us big kids loves joining in!

Beat the Heat with Water Play Activities and Water SilhouettesSo go outside and start playing! All you need is a hose and a wall or fence. And let’s just go ahead and be honest…this can totally count as bath time for the kids. :) Mom win!!!


Printable Pretend Play Restaurant- Tiny Tots Cafe

Welcome to Tiny Tots Cafe were we serve up a daily helping of imagination with a large side of fun!

Printable Pretend Play Restaurant - Tiny Tots CafeDid you know that when your children engage in pretend play and use their imagination not only are they expanding their creativity, but they are also developing critical thinking skills, building their language skills, and increasing social skills such as empathy and positive self-esteem? It’s true! There are so many more benefits to pretend play besides just giving children something to occupy their time. In fact, pretend play is vital for normal, happy childhood development.

Printable Pretend Play Restaurant - Tiny Tots CafeAnd along with all the studies and research saying how important pretend play is…it is also just FUN! Silly and funny moments turn into precious memories. Kids love playing when they are given the chance! And hey, if it distracts them for even just a few minutes, Moms enjoy some time to themselves!

Printable Pretend Play Restaurant - Tiny Tots CafeI had the idea to create a pretend play restaurant after my daughter and I spent an afternoon playing and taking turns being the waitress. Since I created this set for her it has become one of her favorite pastimes. She LOVES it! We play together all the time, she plays with her dolls, even her little brother loves to join in on the fun.

The set has been such a hit in our house that I decided to add it to my Etsy Shop! This printable set comes with everything you need to start your own restaurant!

Printable Pretend Play Restaurant - Tiny Tots Cafe

And this set can be fully printed at home, or sent to any local copy store for printing. Everything is formatted to fit on 8.5 x 11 paper. There is also an extra copy of the Tiny Tots Cafe sign that can be printed at 11 x 14 if you are wanting a larger sign.

Printable Pretend Play Restaurant - Tiny Tots CafeI recommend laminating the items after they have been printed, this will allow you to write on the order and receipt forms with a dry erase marker! Once you’re done playing just erase the marker!

Printable Pretend Play Restaurant - Tiny Tots CafeAnother huge benefit of buying printables? If anything should happen to one of the items all you have to do is print another one! It is bound to happen with kids, things get bent or ripped all the time. But since you now own the files you can print another menu in seconds, no additional purchases required!

Here’s a closer look at everything you get in this set:

  • Welcome Sign (large and small size)
  • Open Sign
  • Closed Sign
  • Menu
  • Order Form
  • Receipt
  • Placemat
  • $1, $5, $10

Printable Pretend Play Restaurant - Tiny Tots CafePrintable Pretend Play Restaurant - Tiny Tots CafePrintable Pretend Play Restaurant - Tiny Tots CafeHead on over to the Etsy Shop and pick up your set! You can be serving your kids a fun filled afternoon in no time!

  • You may also be interested in: