Category Archives: summertime activities

How does your summer measure up?

For many parents and teachers in the south, the summer is rapidly coming to a close and school will soon be starting.  This means that families are getting in those last minute vacations and activities.  Kids are counting the last days of freedom while many parents are counting the number of day until they are free again.  It’s a mixed bag of feelings and energy.

Due to the ever present social media deluge, many parents and kids experience a fear of missing out (FOMO) as the summer ends. Scroll through your Facebook feed and you will see everyone you know posed on the beach or cruise ship or traveling with their team sport.  That’s where the comparison begins.  Did you take a vacation as grand and exciting as your neighbor or friends?  Did the kids learn new skills at band or sports camp?  Did the baseball team win the championship?  Sometimes it seems that everyone else is living a celebrity like exciting life and in comparison your summer experience may seem mundane and dull.  Worried about what your child will write in their “What I did this summer” essay? Then you may have fallen victim to the FOMO virus.

Reflections on Your Daily Experience

What if instead of trying to have the grandest summer ever, you tried to be your personal best every day… summer included?  Rather than compare your summer to that of your Facebook friends, here is a better way to reflect on and review your summer.  In his excellent book, Triggers: Creating Behavior that Lasts/Becoming the Person You Want to Be, Marshall Goldsmith suggests that we all ask ourselves the following questions each day.

Did I do my best to:
Set clear goals?
Make progress toward goal achievement?
Find meaning?
Be happy?
Build positive relationships?
Be fully engaged and present?

This is a revolutionary approach to living each day because it takes the responsibility for our actions and feelings off of others and puts it squarely where it belongs… on our own shoulders.  No more comparing our day at home to the neighbors’ day at the theme park. While Goldsmith is recommending these questions to adults, i think they are quite relevant to kids as well.  Here’s what it might look like:

Spend time over the dinner table discussing these six questions.  Model for your children how these questions are relevant for your daily life as well as theirs.  Here are some examples:

  • What was your goal today? Maybe finish reading a book or create a new craft project?
  • What progress did you make?
  • How did you create your own meaning?  This doesn’t have to be philosophical and deep.  Maybe you were being creative, social, learning something new or helping someone out.
  • Did you decide to be happy?  How did that turn out?  If you were unhappy, how could you turn that around tomorrow?
  • Did you build positive relationships with your family and friends?  What are some examples? What did you do that was kind?  helpful?
  • Were you fully engaged and present… did you give all your attention to what you were doing at the moment?

I know that these questions are challenging.  I’ve started asking myself these questions every day myself and some days I fall short.  But the important thing is to reflect, share and grow together as a family.  Let me know how it works out.

Related Posts:

4 Secrets to a Stress Free Family Vacation

3 Ways to Make the Most of Your Summer

5 Ways to Create a Summer of Renewal


Wyatt’s Little Book of Lesson Plans, Worksheets and Games

Just for you!  Here are activities, lesson plans, discussion questions, coloring sheets, word search puzzles and games for each of the six Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books.  Over 75 pages of ideas so that you can create lessons on cooperation, teamwork and leadership skills to quickly extend and incorporate the Wyatt stories.




4 Secrets to a Stress Free Family Vacation


Family Fun or Family Frustration?

(This is a re-post from March 2015)

Anticipating your family vacation?

Looking forward to unplugging and enjoying some time off?

Keeping your fingers crossed that everyone will getting along?

Worried that it will be exhausting instead of relaxing?

Vacation Reality

Family vacations aren’t always the stress-free family bonding time that you envision. Maybe the last time you took off on a get-away as a family, you returned more exhausted and on edge than ever.

I’ve been there:  left the daily routine eager for a fun filled but relaxing time away and found myself  frustrated and aggravated beyond belief as we drove aimlessly around a strange city arguing about where to eat dinner. There was one memorable trip to California  where we strolled through the spectacular awe-inspiring redwood forest of Muir Woods, while my young children whined and continuously asked, “When do we get to go to the gift shop?”

Is there a way to create a stress free family vacation where you leave behind the baggage of aggravation and worry?  Follow these tips, and you’ll be on the road to a family vacation that’s smoother than those bumpy rides of past trips.

Set a budget

Before you make any decisions about your family get-away, determine your travel budget for the trip. Nothing kills the fun of a trip than arguing about the cost or even worse putting it all on a credit card that you dread opening when you return. Plan the larger costs first such as the flight, the hotel and car rental.  Then set a daily budget for meals and entertainment.

Be sure to check out the costs for the local restaurants and other activities you know will be on your agenda as you determine a reasonable daily budget.  Don’t forget to include an extra emergency fund for unexpected expenses.

Plan together

Our best trips involved the whole family in planning.  While polling for ideas and activities doesn’t mean a trip that meanders from gift shop to gift shop per my daughter’s request, it does mean that you can include activities that appeal to everyone. It also means that you will plan a vacation that is more age appropriate and avoid unrealistic expectations for behavior and interest levels.

Moms and dads are still in charge of the final decisions and it is a lost cause to try to please everyone at all times. You might find though that your kids are more interested in a lower cost, easy to plan trip like exploring a nearby state park than they are a trip across country. Take into consideration your child’s personality style, interests and energy level as you plan.

Continue a routine

I know that vacation typically means late nights and sleeping in.  However, especially with young children, consider keeping a similar schedule and routine to what you have at home.  Children thrive on predictable routines so be spontaneous with activities but keep a consistent bedtime, meal time and mid-day rest to prevent meltdowns due to exhausted kids and parents alike.

Resist the urge to do everything possible in a few short days and instead schedule some down time just to relax and play.  Plan to arrive back at home a day early so that you can get back into the regular schedule before returning to work and school.

Identify behavior expectations

Be clear about positive behavioral expectations and share them just as you share your trip itinerary with your children.  Plan ahead and set boundaries for what children will be allowed to do and not to do.  This way you aren’t constantly saying no throughout the trip and having to make snap decisions on what is possible.  Planning ahead for behavior is just as necessary as planning ahead for the trip details.   

Most important of all, enjoy the time together, be present in the moment and don’t sweat the small stuff. Rather, have fun and play with your crew as you create new memories together!

Related Posts:

3 Ways to Make the Most of Your Summer

5 Ways to Create a Summer of Renewal

Create Summertime Memories Through Writing


Want to know how to communicate best with your child’s unique personality style?  Check out the Parenting with Heart ebook available in the Wyatt store!

Grab a copy of Wyatt’s latest adventure here!

Wyatt the Wonder Dog -Cooperation Cover

Wyatt wants to play Frisbee. Max wants to build a fort and Callie wants to have a tea party. How do the three friends reconcile their differences? Can it be done?  When Wyatt doesn’t get his way, Max’s mother suggests he be the Superhero for the day. Join Wyatt as he learns how the magic of cooperation and compromise can bring the five friends closer together.

3 Ways to Make the Most of Your Summer

Make the most of summer by starting an intention and reflection practice with your children. Beginnings and endings are an essential part of life.  We learn from our experiences when we bookend our time with an intention at the start and reflect on the results at the end.

Make the Most of Summer Memories

  • Set an intention for the summer months–  It doesn’t have to be serious, complicated or long.  Here are some examples:
    • Play! Have fun!
    • Spend time together as a family
    • Read lots of  books
    • Learn something new everyday
  • At the end of summer reflect on whether or not you followed your intention.  Again, make this a pleasurable experience:
    • Write or journal about how you took action on your intention
    • Create a photo collage depicting the intention
    • Draw pictures that show how you acted on the intention
    • Make a family video describing how the family as a whole made summer memories
  • Celebrate the end– I know the summer just started!  But plan now for a fun way to celebrate the end.  Incorporate the reflection in the  celebration.  Show the video, share photos or drawings.  Share the best and the worst parts about the summer and plan what you want to do again next summer.  An end of summer celebration will give you something to look forward to all summer long.

Related Posts:

Create Summertime Memories through Writing

Summertime Family Fun

Make Summertime Reading Time


Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning

Wyatt the Wonder Dog didn’t make it on the All Star baseball team and he feels like a loser.  All  his friends will be playing baseball this summer, while he and his pesky sister, Callie, visit grandparents at the beach.  How Wyatt learns to handle disappointment and failure will be an important lesson for the future.  Will he give up trying new things?  Will he have the confidence to try again?  Are there some things that take more practice and persistence to learn than others? Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns About Winning
Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning (Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books) (Volume 5

5 Ways to Create a Summer of Renewal

Does summer mean a time of renewal for you?

How do you make that happen?

Here’s how NOT to make it happen:  Dive into the weeks ahead with no plan except to fill every moment with enriching activities.  Schedule back to back camps or sports activities for the kids. Volunteer for every possible  need or request that comes your way.  After all, since you work with kids all year, you are the perfect fill in at vacation Bible school or scout camp. Plan exhausting family vacations and spend time on the road or jostling for  space in line at crowded theme or water parks.  Catch up on lots of classes and get the credits that you need…

I think you get the idea. If this is your plan (or lack of one) then you will return to school in the fall exhausted… and in need of a vacation.

How to Create an Oasis of Summer Renewal

  1. Take time to reflect and be aware:  What do you most need to feel refreshed and energized?  Relaxing time by the pool to catch up on your reading?  An exercise plan to get you back in the routine of regular exercise?  Quality family time to really connect and share? An educational class that will get you up-to-date and excited about new trends?
  2. Survey your family:  Rather than assume that the kids want to spend all summer at the pool or standing in line at the theme park, set up a family meeting to get everyone’s idea of a perfect summer.  You may be surprised at what is important to them.
  3. Set goals and create a plan:  Schedule events throughout the summer.  Create balance with family vacations and time for kids to explore and discover on  their own.  Studies show that creativity and critical thinking is enhanced with unscheduled  and unstructured time.  This is as important for you as it is for your children.
  4. Post a calendar and the plan: Keep everyone informed of the scheduled and unscheduled time and their responsibilities.  Re-frame “I’m bored” as a sign that a child needs to get creative and read, play a game or do something active outside. It’s not your responsibility to keep everyone entertained.
  5. Keep a gratitude journal:  Every evening review what family members are grateful for and either write it down, take a photo or draw a picture for your journal.  At the end of the summer you will have a great record of summer time memories!

Summer time can be a time to be renewed and energized or a time of exhaustion and over work.  The real key is to create a plan and follow through on it.  I wish you a summer that is an oasis  of renewal in the busyness of life.

Related Posts:

Creating Summertime Fun

Create Summertime Memories through Writing

3 Ways to Slay the Boredom Dragon


Wonder what Wyatt is doing this summer?  Visiting his grandparents at the beach… Check  out the Wyatt the Wonder Dog Book Series, children’s books with an empowering message.


Need some activities to keep the kiddos engaged with the lesson in the story?  I put everything together for you in one book!

Wyatt’s Little Book of Lesson Plans, Worksheets and Games

Here are activities, lesson plans, discussion questions, coloring sheets, word search puzzles and games for each of the six Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books.  Over 75 pages of ideas so that you can create lessons on cooperation, teamwork and leadership skills to quickly extend and incorporate the Wyatt stories.




Make summertime–reading time

Summer is almost here!   Planning to relax and chill out? Worried about keeping the kiddos entertained?  Afraid they will be brain-dead from too much screen time by the time school starts back?

Summer is a great time to encourage kids to spend time reading. Not only is it entertaining but studies have shown that over the summer months, students typically lose many of the reading skills that they have worked so hard to gain throughout the school year. Parents can prevent this by making sure that there are plenty of opportunities to read. Even reading for just 15-20 minutes a day can make a big difference.  It’s so important that the state of Georgia has issued a summer reading challenge designed to keep kids engaged in reading.  You can read about it here.

Engage Children in Summertime Reading

One of the best ways to get children engaged in reading is to model it yourself.  Set aside reading time when the whole family reads and shares what they are learning.  Discuss the characters, anticipate the plot and ask questions.  What if the main character did something different?  What if the story was set in another time or place?  What if you had to make similar decisions?

There are a lot of great books out there too that are not only exciting adventures but wonderful messages as well.

Young adult author, Martha Orlando has a  trilogy that is packed with action, humor and inspiration. For a young adult book that is a real page turner pick up A Trip, A Tryst and a Terror, Children of the Garden and  The Moment of Truth.

My friend Erin Casey, has penned two terrific young adult books in her Zany Zia Hats To Where series. In the first book, An All Knight Adventure, Evan Tanner is transported to a castle in the middle ages where he conquers his fears in order to battle dragons and bullies. In Lost in Comanche Country, Marianna bravely navigates between Indian warriors, hungry mountain lions and cowboys out for revenge, while learning that despite all our differences we still have much in common if we will but take the time to get to know each other.

Jordan Crowl, author of Ed’s Journal is a talented author and illustrator who has written a series of character education books  (12 at last count)  that allow the reader to determine possible choices and consequences.  These books make for great discussions between children and parents, as well as a wonderful classroom lesson too. Check out all the titles in this interactive series.

For the younger set, my favorite author is Helen Lester.  Her books are humorous, clever and teach an important lesson at the same time.  A couple of my favorites are Hooway for Wodney Wat  and Listen Buddy.


Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns About Winning

Finally, I have to mention my own series of books about Wyatt the Wonder Dog.

In the first book, Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns About Good Manners, Wyatt learns what to do about a bossy friend who doesn’t use his manners.

In the second book, Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns About Being Organized, Wyatt learns how to plan ahead and organize his day, a skill that I’ve had many adults tell me they need to develop as well!

In the third book, Wyatt the Wonder Dog Goes to Kindergarten, Wyatt learns that adjusting to change can often be very rewarding.

The fourth book has Wyatt wondering what he will get for Christmas in, Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Giving.

In the fifth book, Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning.  Wyatt learns what it takes to be a winner after the disappointment of not being chosen for the traveling baseball team.

In the sixth book, Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Cooperation, Wyatt learns to be the Superhero among his friends as they build a fort and learn cooperation at the same time.

Happy Summertime Reading!

Related Posts:

Create Summertime Family Fun

Create Summertime Memories

3 Ways to Slay the I’m Bored Dragon

Last week… Special ends June 4th!!

Four of my best selling books:

Wyatt Learns about Cooperation, Wyatt Learns about Good Manners, Wyatt Learns about Winning and Wyatt Learns about Being Organized.

Wyatt the Wonder Dog -Cooperation Cover

Wyatt_the_Wonder_Dog_Cover_Manners_KindleWyatt the Wonder Dog Learns About WinningWyatt_the_Wonder_Dog_Front_Covr-Organized[1]

Plus Wyatt’s Little Book of Lesson Plans, Worksheets and Games

Digital Cover New


Creating Summertime Family Fun

Think personality style to plan summer activities

kids in park

Summer vacations are upon us! How do you plan your child’s activities for the summer?

Is everyone off to camp or spending the day at the local pool?

Are you visiting local parks or exploring a museum?

The unstructured days of summer sound heavenly, but sometimes the end result falls short of the mark…

As a mom, I can remember looking forward to the summer months with guarded anticipation. I like planning ahead and I tried a lot of different things but I must admit that I didn’t take into account my children’s personality style as I planned their days. What a difference that might have made!

The four basic personality styles

There are four basic personality styles and here’s a short description of the characteristics of each one:

D: dominant, determined, doer, demanding

I: inspiring, influencing, interactive

S: stable, supportive, sweet, shy

C: cautious, competent, calculating, concerned

How to Plan Activities with Personality in Mind

For the high ‘D’ type, plan some activities that involve physical activities and challenges – join a swim team, sign up for camp or plan a neighborhood get-together. The ‘D’s’ love anything that involves a challenge and offers clear results. Put them in charge of the activities and they are working in their strengths.

For the ‘I’ wired child, social activities are a priority. This child will enjoy attending play groups, vacation Bible school, drama camp anything where they find lots of friends participating. In fact, to get an activity going well, ask them to invite all their friends. You will soon have a party going on!

The ‘S’ wired child would probably be content just to hang around the house entertaining themselves with a few close friends. They like creative pursuits, a laid back easy going routine and a peaceful environment. Lots of rushing off to camp or classes is not for them.

Finally the ‘C’ wired child likes plenty of opportunities to investigate and discover. While they might enjoy a science or computer camp, they could be equally happy pursuing their own projects at home. Encourage them in their quest to satisfy their curiosity about everything around them.

Well, there you have it. A unique way of looking at your summer plans based on your child’s personality style. So often we feel compelled to send all our children to camp or sign them all up for swim team. However, sometimes the activity doesn’t fit the personality or the interests of the child.

First recognize your child’s unique strengths and gifts and then plan your summer accordingly. The lazy days of summer will go much more smoothly.

Great summertime reading:  Grab Wyatt’s newest book  here!!

 Wyatt the Wonder Dog -Cooperation Cover

Wyatt wants to play Frisbee. Max wants to build a fort and Callie wants to have a tea party. How do the three friends reconcile their differences? Can it be done? When Wyatt doesn’t get his way, Max’s mother suggests he be the Superhero for the day. Join Wyatt as he learns how the magic of cooperation and compromise can bring the five friends closer together.