Get Them Excited for School with This Duct Tape Creation

The end of summer is creeping up and school days are right around the corner.  Back to school can bring conflict to an otherwise happy household – children who do not want to go back to school on one hand, and Mom’s who are slightly relieved at the return to a routine on the other.  It can be a real challenge to get the kids on Mom’s side of the back-to-school equation. One way to do so, besides outright bribery, is to let them customize some of their back to school supplies.  This simple yet fun Duck Tape project is a great way to get them engaged in back-to-school fun.

STEP 1:  Cut the zipper part off your sandwich bag. Leave about ½ inch of bag attached to the zipper part. Do not throw away the rest of the bag.

STEP 1  –  Cut the zipper part off your sandwich bag. Leave about ½ inch of bag attached to the zipper part. Do not throw away the rest of the bag.

STEP 2:  Make 2 pieces of Duck Tape® fabric that measure as wide as your bag and 4 in. tall.

STEP 2  –  Make 2 pieces of Duck Tape® fabric that measure as wide as your bag and 4 in. tall.

STEP 3  -  Using a strip of Duck Tape®, adhere the piece of Duck Tape® fabric you made in step 2 to the zipper from step 1. Repeat for the other side with your second piece of Duck Tape® fabric.

STEP 3 – Using a strip of Duck Tape®, adhere theof Duck Tape® fabric you made in step 2 to the zipper from step 1. Repeat for the other side with your second piece of Duck Tape® fabric.

STEP 5 -  For the I.D. holder cut a rectangle out of the remaining plastic bag that measures 2.5 in. tall by 4 in. wide.

STEP 5 – For the I.D. holder cut a rectangle out of the remaining plastic bag that measures 2.5 in. tall by 4 in. wide.

Fold a single piece of Duck Tape® over each of the open edges of the supply case to close them up. Trim any excess tape.

Step 4 – Fold a single piece of Duck Tape® over each of the open edges of the supply case to close them up. Trim any excess tape.

STEP 6  -  Cut a piece of  Duck Tape® that measures 1 in. tall and 4 in. wide and fold it over the top of the plastic rectangle from step 5. Use 3 more pieces on the sides and bottom to attach it to your case, keeping the top open.

STEP 6 – Cut a piece of Duck Tape® that measures 1 in. tall and 4 in. wide and fold it over the top of the plastic rectangle from step 5. Use 3 more pieces on the sides and bottom to attach it to your case, keeping the top open.

STEP 7  -  If desired, adhere 3 more strips of a different color Duck Tape®, leaving a littly of the previous color Duck Tape® showing. Trim any excess.

STEP 7 – If desired, adhere 3 more strips of a different color Duck Tape®, leaving a littly of the previous color Duck Tape® showing. Trim any excess.

STEP 8  -  Create a tab to add to your supply case by cutting off a 5 in. long piece of Duck Tape®and folding it over on to itself lengthwise.

STEP 8 – Create a tab to add to your supply case by cutting off a 5 in. long piece of Duck Tape® and folding it over on to itself lengthwise.

STEP 9  -  Cut a 1 in. slit in the side of your supply case with a craft knife and insert the tab. Use a small piece of tape on the inside to hold the tab in place.

STEP 9 – Cut a 1 in. slit in the side of your supply case with a craft knife and insert the tab. Use a small piece of tape on the inside to hold the tab in place.

This project is courtesy of Duck Tape® Brand Creations and can be found at http://www.duckbrand.com.  You can find a great selection of colored duct tape, metallic duck tape, camo duck tape, patterned duck tape, and even glow-in-the-dark duck tape at jmcremps.com.  If you want even more fascinating and fun Duct Tape Projects, check out our e-book series called Warfare by Duct Tape.  The easy-to-follow instructions will allow any creative kid (or adult) to create swords, armor, shields, and more!

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Don’t Forget to Relax This Summer – National Relaxation Day is August 15

Let’s face it, summer is crazy busy.  We all look forward to “lazy” summer days, but it seems that those lazy days are few and far between.  As we transition from the summer mind-set to a back-to-school frenzy, it’s important that the whole family takes some time to relax.  We all need to recharge our batteries between these busy seasons!

National Relaxation Day

Next time someone tells you to “Go jump in the lake”, go for it. You may find it to be quite fun and ultimately a great way to unwind.

National Relaxation Day is officially on August 15, and yes, it is a real holiday!  It is also the perfect excuse to grab a book, take a nap in a hammock, or chill by the campfire.   As adults, we all know how to relax, but do we do it enough?  Sometimes we need a little reminder, and National Relaxation Day is a good one.  Incase you forgot just how to do it, here are some of our favorite family-friendly ways to unwind.

  • Read a good book
  • Take a walk
  • Take a nap in the shade (or better yet, a hammock!)
  • Take the family swimming
  • Have a backyard campfire
  • Go to the beach
  • Visit someone you’ve been missing
  • Have a picnic lunch in the park
  • Go fishing
  • Go for a family bike ride
  • Go for ice cream
  • Order pizza for dinner and play a family game
  • Play an instrument

Whatever your choice, just remember to keep it simple.  The more work involved, the less relaxing you’ll do!

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Have Fun After Dark with Our Favorite Night Time Activities

Summer is in full swing.  The days are warm, the evenings are pleasant, and the kiddos probably want to stay out “all night”.  Well an outside, all-nighter may be a bit much, but that doesn’t mean that some after-dark fun can’t be had.  As a matter of fact, night-time games can be fun for the whole family.  Here’s some of our favorites:

Glow in the Dark Book Planets & Supernova

Have some fun in the dark this summer with games, activities, and even glow-in-the-dark books.

  • Flashlight Tag – Catch your opponents with a beam of light from a flashlight.
  • Hide-n-Seek Glowsticks – Parents, hide glowsticks throughout the yard and let the kids find them.
  • Shadow Puppet Theater – Encourage your kids to be creative by putting on a shadow puppet show.  Use a wall or other flat surface to shine a beam of light onto.
  • Star Gazing and Constellation Hunting – Use a star chart or star finder, your own knowledge, or even an app on your phone to find and name various constellations.
  • Have a Backyard Fire – Roast marshmallows or hot dogs, sing songs, and tell stories.  You don’t have to go camping to have an evening campfire!
  • Tell Ghost Stories – Better yet, let the kids tell them to you.
  • Catch Lightening Bugs – See how many beautiful lightening bugs the whole family can catch.
  • Read a Glow in the Dark Book – Yes, there are such things as glow-in-the-dark books, and they sure are fun to read on a warm summer night.

 

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The Hidden Benefits of Survival Skills Training For Boys and Girls

Bear Grylls Survival Guide for Life

Bear Grylls once said, “I hang out all the time with kids and young scouts and I never meet kids who don’t want adventure.” As a childhood adventurer himself, Bear knows what he is talking about. In his latest book, he discusses the life lessons learned from his epic adventures and the effect that his training has had on his entire life.

When we discuss “survival skills” and “survival training”, we are usually referring to the mechanics involved in wilderness survival situations.  Survival trainees need to know how to build a fire in less-than-perfect conditions, what supplies should always be in their pack,  how to find or build a shelter, and on and on. The amount of books, websites, and videos devoted to survival skills training is growing every day.  Of course these are the nuts and bolts necessary to stay safe in less than optimal conditions, and the benefits derived from possessing these skills can be lifesaving.  However, there is one intangible aspect to teaching your children survival skills that is rarely discussed, and it is equally as important.

There are enormous benefits to be derived from the actual process of learning and practicing survival skills that are life-changing and ultra rewarding.  The survival skills training process reaps great rewards on its practitioners in the form of:

  • increased self-esteem
  • enhanced self-confidence
  • reinforced character
  • a greater appreciation for the outdoors
  • the ability to be self-reliant and to trust in one’s own abilities
  • the ability to calmly and rationally analyze a situation and act accordingly without panic
Survival Skills Training leads to happy healthy men

Yes, they may come home dirty, but the boost to their self-esteem, confidence, and mental stature is worth a bit of dirty laundry.

As a mom whose boys have learned and practiced survival skills for several years, I’ve seen firsthand their intellectual and personality growth during this process.  The boost to their self-esteem and confidence has been no small thing.  In the rare times that their skills have been put to the test, it has warmed this mother’s heart to see my boys step up to the plate.

Very recently (as in during the middle of writing this article) my boys were splitting and stacking wood when a split log crushed my son’s finger breaking it and opening it to the bone.  Without panicking, the boys cleaned it, stabilized it and wrapped it as best they could.  When they arrived home, marched into my office, and calmly shoved the mangled appendage under my nose, I will admit that it was mom who panicked a bit.  However, my injured son calmly assured me that it was cleaned, stabilized, and likely broken, so I bit back my motherly “OH MY POOR BABY” response, grabbed my purse, and drove him to the emergency room for some proper medical attention.

When I started to write this article, I didn’t except to prove my point with a real world example mid-article, but I guess that truth IS stranger than fiction!  Without having to experience this example yourself, keep it mind the next time your kids show an interest in camping out, scouting, learning survival skills or simply starting a fire with a piece of flint.  It may be worth considering the long-term benefits.  Then, grab the fire extinguisher, make sure the first aid kit is up-to-date, and indulge them in their adventurous spirit a little bit.  There may be more to be gained in such an endeavor than is readily apparent.  In hindsight, I can say that my calm “we’ve-got-the-situation-in-control-mom-so-don’t-panic” sons did a good job in a less than optimal situation.

Now if I can just find a way keep the broken-finger kid occupied and still long enough to let that finger heal….

You can read more about Bear Grylls new book, Bear Grylls:  A Survival Guide for Life on our website.   This latest book focuses on the life lessons Bear has learned as an extreme adventurer and survivalist.  At jmcremps.com  you can also find all types of survival gear, survival books, and resources for parents.

 

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Cure Their Technology Addiction in Two Days Flat

Break Their Technology in Two Days Flat

Strike a balance between your child’s love of technology and their natural desire to explore the world around them. All it took was a couple of hammocks and my teenage boys spend every afternoon they can at the lake.

Are you from the generation that remembers when a stick became a sword, a pile of blankets became a fort, and an afternoon outside meant an epic adventure to far distant places?  If you are, it can be hard to stomach the constant need for technology that today’s youth seem to have.  It can be disheartening to see a 12 year old curled up on the couch with his iPod in hand and headphones in his ears on a gorgeous and sunny summer afternoon.  Even more disheartening is when you wrench the headphones from his ears and tell him to go outside and play, and the response you get is, “Outside? Now?  It’s so boring out there!”

A 2010 Kaiser Foundation Study found that children and teens are, on average, spending seven hours and 58 minutes on entertainment media each day.  That’s over 53 hours a week!  The truth is, technology is here to stay and your kids love of it isn’t going to dim anytime soon.  But, fear not weary parents – we have some ideas on how to break that reliance and expose your children to the dreaded “outdoors”.

A weekend of family camping is at the top of our technology-busting list, and for good reason.  By taking the kids away from their electronic habitat, you’re removing them from their familiar routine.  Over the course of your camping adventure, they’ll be able to focus on exploring the world around them and getting hands-on with nature.  Since children tend to be curious creatures who bore easily (especially when they reach teenager status), you can play upon that personality trait to get them outside, get them moving, and keep them happy.

One of the greatest and lasting rewards of a weekend of camping is the memories that your family will carry with them forever.  My family used to do quite a bit of summertime camping, and many decades later (but not too many), those camping weekends form some of my fondest childhood memories.  Now that I’m a mom of teenage boys, it puts a smile in my heart when my boys run out the door with their hammocks, backpacks, and fishing poles for a day of adventure.

If you aren’t a camping type of family, then you can still encourage (or in my case “trick”) your children into spending more time outdoors and away from their X-Box.  All it took for our family was for our boys and their friends to get a couple of hammocks.  Before I knew it, they were heading out to the lake or the local bluff with not only their hammocks, but fishing poles, backpacking equipment, and even assorted survival gear.  Of course, they bring their phones and iPods along and text me pictures, but that’s the kind of technology I DON’T mind!

JM Cremps carries a full assortment of outdoor camping and hiking gear for children of all ages.  Find the ideal outdoor gift for the child in your life here:   You can also find several ideas for camping fun and outdoor activities for children on this blog.

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Discover the American Heroes that Shaped Our Great Nation

As the 4th of July rolls around, most families are focused on the fun associated with this patriotic holiday. If we take a quick moment amidst the fun and celebrations to explore the men, women, and events that helped to shape this great nation, we can turn a memorable holiday into a meaningful holiday.

Here are some kid-friendly, family-oriented, JM Cremps approved books for kids that will introduce your children to some of our nation’s greatest heroes. From Abraham Lincoln to the everyday colonial family, your children will be fascinated and enlightened by the events that took place during our nation’s turbulent past.

Lincoln’s Last Days, by Bill O’Reilly

Lincoln's Last Days Good Books for Boys

Lincoln’s Last Days will educate and entertain the whole family!

Lincoln’s Last Days is a gripping account of one of the most dramatic nights in American history- of how one gunshot changed the country forever. Adapted from Bill O’Reilly’s bestselling historical thriller, Killing Lincoln, this book will have young readers-and grown-ups too- hooked on history.

In the spring of 1865, President Abraham Lincoln travels through Washington, D.C., after finally winning America’s bloody Civil War. In the midst of celebrations, Lincoln is assasinated at Ford’s Theatre by a famous actor named John Wilkes Booth. What follows is a thrilling chase, ending with a fiery shoot-out and swift justice for the perpetrators.

With an unforgettable cast of characters, page-turning action, vivid detail, and art on every spread, Lincoln’s Last Days is history that reads like a thriller.

The American Revolution for Kids, by Janis Herbert

The American Revolution for Kids

The activities and projects in this book are ideal for younger children (with help from someone older), and middle-school aged kids. It offers a glimpse into colonial life.

Heroes, traitors, and great thinkers come to life in the activity book, and the concepts of freedom and democracy are celebrated in true accounts of the distinguished officers, wise delegates, rugged riflemen, and hard working farm wives and children who created our young nation. The American Revolution for Kids tells the story of the Revolution from the hated Stamp Act and the Boston Tea Party to the British surrender at Yorktown and the creation of the United States Constitution. All American school children are required to study the Revolution and the Constitution- this book complete with its 21 activities will make learning fun and memorable.

In The American Revolution for Kids Activity Book, children can:
• Make a fringed hunting shirt like the one worn by frontiersman General Daniel Morgan
• Reenact the Battle of Cowpens and the cunning strategy that helped the outnumbered Americans win the war
• Learn how to make their own voices heard in I Protest!
• Dance a minuet like George Washington, the best dancer in Virginia
• Discover how Congress works in There Ought to Be a Law
• Create Papyrotamia, paper cutouts that were all the rage in colonial homes

Gettysburg, The Graphic History by Wayne Vansant

The Graphic History of Gettysburg

The Graphic History of Gettysburg is a great read for middle school children, teens, and adults alike.

The Battle of Gettysburg is one of the most famous battles in American history, and is widely recognized as the turning point of the Civil War. A landmark event in United States history, it accounted for the most casualties of any battle during the war and spelled the beginning of the end for the Confederacy.

In this power graphic history, Wayne Vansant describes the period leading up to the Battle of Gettysburg, as well as all of the major military events on July 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, including the famous fight for Little Round Top and the death march known as Pickett’s Charge. He paints portraits of each army’s leaders, including Robert E Lee, James Longstreet, George Meade, and then little-known Joshua Chamberlain.

Vansant concludes a few months later at the dedication of the Soldier’s National Cemetery in November 1863, when Abraham Lincoln delivered one of the most famous speeches of all time: The Gettysburg Address. Gettysburg delivers one of the hallmark events of American history in an exciting and innovative format.

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How to Write Your Own Secret Code

Have you ever written a secret message in code?  If not, this is a great place to start.  Codes are a fun way to send messages to your friends in a way that ensures that the wrong person won’t read it.  But did you know that in real life, secret code writing, or cryptography, has given both rise and fall to nations for thousands of years?

The first examples we have of cryptography (the art of writing messages in code) dates back to 1500 BCE.  The Greeks used a clever form of cryptography to send a message to the Spartan General Lysander to warn him that the Persians were mounting another attack.  Thanks to this clever warning, Lysander readied his troops and held off the invading Persians.

Encoded messages have been used by by armies, kings, queens, emperors, treasure hunters, bandits, and normal people with a secret that they don’t want to be revealed.  Did you know that one of the most commonly used ciphers of all time was created by Julius Caesar and is known as a Caesar Cipher?  Julius Caesar was the emperor of Rome from the years 100 BCE to 44 BCE.  He was known as a great leader, an exceptional public speaker, and brilliant military strategist.  His military conquests of neighboring nations turned the Roman Republic into the powerful Roman Empire.  Caesar’s cipher gave the Romans a military advantage that their enemies lacked.  In today’s age of computer systems, Caesars code may seem simple, but it is a great way to get your code-writing skills up to speed.

How to Write a Secret Code

Step 1. Write the standard alphabet in a line on your paper.

To create your own Caesar Cipher:

  • Write down the alphabet in a line on your paper.  This is known as the Standard Alphabet.
  • Select a number that will be used as your key.  (We chose the number 7 in our example.)
  • Starting with the letter A in your Standard Alphabet line, count 7 letters.  (In our example, the 7th letter is the letter G.)

    How to Write a Secret Code for Kids

    Step 2. Choose your Key. Our Key is 7. Count over 7 letters from the letter A, and begin your Substitution Alphabet below the 7th letter.

  • Now write the letter A directly beneath the letter G.  This will be known as your Substitution Alphabet line.
  • Continue writing the remaining letters of the alphabet until you get to the end of the Standard Alphabet.  (In our example, the letter is written directly underneath the letter Z.)
  • Now go back to the beginning of the alphabet and write the next letter in your Substitution Alphabet directly under the letter A in the Standard alphabet.  Continue filling out the rest of the alphabet.
  • Now you are ready to begin encrypting your message!
How to Write a Secret Code for Kids

Step 3. Finish filling in your Substitution Alphabet and you can now use your secret code!

To encrypt your message, simply locate the real letters of your word on the Standard Alphabet line and substitute the letter directly below it from your Substitution Alphabet Line.  Continue working through your message substituting the real letters with the letters from your cipher.

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