Wednesday, June 25, 2014

5,4,3,2, FUN!

When I first mentioned that our family was going to get to go on our first real vacation together, one of the overwhelming responses I got back were friends sending me links to vacation countdowns. This just proves that my people (many of YOU) are awesome, as we were already riding on the same wavelength, haha! It's amazing to me how many different ways folks have come up with to countdown to the fun.

Of course, countdowns are great for SO many different things - not just vacations. Special events like birthdays or trips to grandma's, holidays, back-to-school, you name it. They are perfect for kids who may not quite have a grasp on time or numbers yet and who need a visual to understand. It's one way to really build up the excitement and to hopefully curb the constant, "How many days??" questions. :)

Today I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite countdowns that I've come across and show you what the girls and I decided to make for our countdown to Disney World this September. We are just about to start ticking off the days until we leave!

It's funny...if you search for "vacation countdown" the vast majority just happen to be for Disney. So while all of these are Disney themed, they can be translated over to any ole theme you desire.

Paper Chain Countdown

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This is by far the most popular countdown, and I love it! A paper chain is the perfect way for kids to physically see that the special event is getting closer and closer. Great for the younger set, seeing the chain get smaller let's them know the time draws nearer without using any numbers at all. I almost did this one for our countdown, but I didn't. Mostly because I didn't have a great place to put it that I knew Reagan wouldn't get a hold of it and rip it to shreds. :)

The Clothespin Countdown

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This countdown caught my eye because it's just so stinkin cute! There are numbers for the older kids to see, but once again there is a visual element for the younger kids as the clothespins get flipped over or taken off of the circle. I wanted more numbers on our countdown, but this is perfect for shorter countdowns! If the holiday or trip is about a month away or less, this one would be so fun to do!

Picture Frame Countdown

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Another super popular way to countdown the fun is with using a picture frame. My favorite thing about this countdown is that it is compact and discreet - not quite as loud as some of the others. :) It sits propped up on it's own little stand, so there is no need for hanging. These countdowns are great for older kids, probably Kindergarten age and up, who have a good grasp on numbers and what their values represent. Not so great for us, as it wouldn't matter if the numbers 50 or 15 or 5 were on the countdown - that pretty much means nothing for my kiddos just yet, haha.

Similarly, chalkboards or numbered cards can be used for the same type of countdown, like on this one:

So cute!

The Envelope Countdown

The idea here is to fill numbered envelopes with little trinkets (stickers, tattoos, etc.) that have to do with the theme, or even fun facts or activity ideas for that day. I mean...if I were a kid, this would be one of my favorites, but as a parent, it seemed like a lot of work. Haha! Still, I thought it was really clever and would work for a shorter countdown. (We started our countdown at 70 days, and there's no way I would stuff 70 envelopes with stuff!)

Present Countdown

If you thought the envelopes were a little over the top, what about GIFTS to countdown the days? The creator of this countdown shopped at Dollar Tree and found other very inexpensive things to wrap up as part of the fun of counting down to their Disney World vacation. These were all items that could be used on the trip or in the car or plane. Very fun, but once again, I have three kids and I wanted our countdown to last longer. Just not practical for us!

Magnet Countdown

I thought this magnet countdown from etsy was such a clever use of space. It's numbered, but it's also visual as the amount of magnets go away with time. My children can't seem to leave magnets alone, so it doesn't work for us, but very cute for anyone who doesn't want to hang something on the wall!

There are so many more ideas floating around out there...from balloon popping countdowns (which would so NOT be a favorite of mine, haha) to wooden block sets. But if we didn't do any of these, then what the heck did we do? 

I'm almost afraid to show you, as ours pales in comparison to the cuteness of so many of these!

The girls and I cut out a zillion little Mickey heads on the Cricut (or as Evelyn would say, "affidion" Mickey heads. That's her number for really really big, haha.) All of my pictures keep uploading onto blogger blurry, which is annoying, but ah well.

We combined several of the ideas to come up with something on our own that would work well for us.


Using poster board and a poster frame, we took ideas from the numbered calendar type countdowns and also from the picture frame countdowns. Because there is a plastic cover over the numbered Mickey heads, we can use a dry-erase marker to x out each of the numbers every day. So we have something that's a little more compact, out of the way, and visual for my younger kids.

Here ya go, a different angle. Ka-chow! (Name that movie!)

I decided to add some Mickey ears, feet, and some sparkly Michael Jacksonesque gloves to the poster frame, haha.

The best part is that it can be wiped clean and used again in the future! Our countdown starts at 70 days, which is right around the corner for us. We are precisely 72 days out from the day we leave for vacation as I type this. I would say that it can't come soon enough, but I have so much to do still, and that also means summer vacation would be long gone,'s okay. We'll just keep dreaming for now. :)

Making countdowns is absolutely nothing new. One of my most distinct Christmastime memories from when I was in preschool was when my teacher sent us home with a giant Santa head and a ziploc bag full of cotton balls. We were to glue a cotton ball onto Santa's beard each day through the month of December, and by the time Christmas Eve came around, Santa's beard would be full of fluffy white cotton. I loved that. Loved it! I looked forward to gluing that dang cotton ball on every morning. And since it's a quarter-century later and I still remember that, I'd say it left a little bit of an impression on me. 

Maybe my kids will remember x'ing off the days each morning to our very first vacation together, too. :) This is the kind of thing that makes being a parent fun for me. If we can't build up a little anticipation and excitement about things, well what are we good for anyway? Haha. Maybe you can come up with something fun to countdown with your kids this summer! No matter if it's big or small. Make some memories of counting down to your own fun times ahead!


Melissa said...

You never cease to amaze me. Really awesome job.



Adrien said...

Thanks, Melissa! And yep - you're right! :D

Cassie said...

you are such an awesome mom! what a great idea!

Heather said...

Love this!! And really love the gloves :)


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