Back to School Organization Must-Haves

Styleboard by The Land of Nod’s Design Services Team

Back to school season is the perfect time to get organized. To get you prepared for the flood of papers and art projects that will start to flow in soon, we put together a few of our favorite back to school organization must-haves. From art rails for displaying your kiddos art to hooks for those book bags, we’ve got all your organization needs covered.

Back to School Organization Must-Haves

A to Z Wall Art / Gallery Art Rail (Aqua & Black) / Chalk About It Wall Hook (Square, Triangle, Circle) / Touch Tone Wall Hanger / Natural Cargo Desk / Panda Backpack / Navy Sidebar Rug / Blue Floor Bin / Green Color Pop Storage Bin / Red Homeroom Metal Desk Chair / Acrylic Drawers / Acrylic Double Cup

The Land of Nod’s Design Services Team offers free one-on-one design advice, mood boards and space planning. You have a room to decorate? They’d love to hear from you.

9 Ways to Connect With Your Kids During the School Year

Post by M.J. of Pars Caeli

9 Ways to Connect With Your Kids During the School Year

The store shelves are stocked with folders and notebooks, and the camps and vacations are coming to a close. We’re all soaking up the last nuggets of summer before the school schedules, activities, and homework begin again! Every year the relaxing family time seems to go faster and faster, and I will miss the sweet moments, connecting with my three kids, learning more about the incredible people they’re becoming.

But the quality time together doesn’t have to be limited to summer fun, we can make it last throughout the year, too, with a little extra planning and patience. We try these nine easy ways to connect with your kids during the school year. See what think of these playful and practical suggestions:

9 Ways to Connect With Your Kids During the School Year

1. Spend time together before school – I am not a morning person so getting out of bed to be cheerful and/or excited for a new day is not my strength. However, I love having small moments with my children every morning. Some days that’s an extra snuggle and chat before changing out of PJs or lip syncing a Taylor Swift tune to bring on some giggles.

If you’re off to work before the kids, consider leaving them a note to read at breakfast or the comics to bring a smile. Days are so much better when they start off on the right foot (for us all)!

2. Send a little home with them to school – Since full-day kindergarten began for our family, five years ago, we’ve been sending lunchbox notes with our children. After hearing from my daughter about quiet lunch times and wanting to have something to chat about with friends, I decided to add a joke and doodle to these notes. Teachers and lunch helpers would read them to the kids as they were learning to read, and everyone got a kick out the silly pictures and corny jokes.

I started sharing these notes on Instagram and hearing from other moms and teachers who would reuse them with their kids! I loved the idea that I could help other parents connect (in the middle of the day or on a long drive or in a doctor’s office) with their children.

The seeds of Lunchtime LOL Notes were born! I’m so delighted to partner with the Land of Nod to bring these jokes to life in a pack of 180 (the whole school year!). I wanted to make it easy for parents to send their love so one side is blank for your message with the other side bringing the silly along! And now you can… so go grab your family a pack.

9 Ways to Connect With Your Kids During the School Year - Lunchtime LOL Notes

3. Coach, lead, assist – Not all of us can fit it in, but if you can, I’ve heard it from the mouths of my own babes, coaching your kids can be a great way to connect with them. In coaching or leading an activity, or volunteering in the classroom, you establish a new context for your relationship as a parent and not only get to see your child in a new light, but also get to know their friends, too. . . which leads me to #4

4. Get to know their friends – Where you can, be the parent who drives the carpool, goes on the field trip, watches the games. Get to know your children’s friends. The older your kids get, the more insight this will provide into who they are becoming! It also lets your children know that you’re really interested in their lives, even the nitty gritty details. This comes in very handy when you hear the stories come home and know who’s who to ask your children the right questions. :)

9 Ways to Connect With Your Kids During the School Year

5. Be goofy – There’s a time for antics and a time for. . . yada, yada, yada. We all know that adults and parents need to be mature. The work conference call, the brilliant tweet, the email – sometimes they have to wait. Make sure to spend some all-out-silly time with your kids, too!! Whether it’s dance parties, wrestling, or silly string fights, let them see that you’re still a kid, and that you can laugh until you snort, too!

6. Listen (and fall in love with) their music – For those of us who live and die by our favorite tunes, this can be a challenge. However, sometimes it’s the nonverbal communications that can speak the loudest. We spend a decent amount of time in transit, in the car, listening to music. Sing your heart out to their favorite tune (even if the words make no sense) and drum along to the weird beat. Showing a love and an embrace for what they love, let’s them know you’re trying.

7. Talk over the day – How was your day? Answering this question goes really well with some children and not so well with others! In our house, it completely depends on the day who wants to share happy/good/sad/surprising news. Some days there’s silence. But I do want there still to be a space (usually over dinner) where we all talk about the latest. Sometimes I have to talk about my weird day at work to prime the pump, and sometimes I’m inspired by their insights and observations. Ultimately, I want them to know that we’re interested and listening – always.

8. Read what they’re reading – Enjoying books with my children has been a total unexpected highlight of motherhood! We read together at bedtime with our youngest, exploring our favorite picture and chapter books. But we’ve also started a kids bookclub with our 8 and 10 year olds to read along with our children and their friends – some long-time favorites like The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and new ones like Wonder. It has elevated our conversations and broadened our understandings of one another. Reading together has also been truly beneficial to their reading confidence and interest.

9. Go on dates together – We are a mix of introverts and extroverts in our house, and, at times, it can be hard to get everyone engaged as a full group of five. My husband and I make it a priority to go on “dates” with each of our kids. They used to get jealous when we’d leave on a date together. Why don’t we get to have a special time with you? Well, now they do. Often these take the simple form of a trip to the bookstore or library or playground. Other times the dates can be a special shopping trip or dinner out. Bonus: my children have a new level of understanding of Mommy and Daddy needing one-on-one time together, too!

Here’s hoping we get a few more weeks of summer to squeeze in all the fun we can. And once school begins again, we’ll be ready to dig into some other ways to stay connected with our kids, too. How do you do it? How do you stay close when schedules leave you spending so much time apart?

9 Ways to Connect With Your Kids During the School Year

M.J. is a graphic designer and illustrator and proud momma to three. She founded Pars Caeli (meaning a piece of heaven), a happy blog and shop on the web, three years ago to share projects for kids, parents, and home to add a little creative to the everyday. She worked with our team to bring her lunchbox jokes to life in our product Lunchtime LOL Notes, now available to kick off the school year!

Science Themed Graduation Party

Post by Colleen of Lemon Thistle

Science Themed Graduation Party

Let’s face it. Throwing parties can be stressful (with a capital S), but they can also be a ton of fun. A couple of weeks ago we traveled 8 hours by car to celebrate my little sister’s university graduation. She’s a ‘super nerd’ (we lovingly call her) and she graduated with an Honors degree in Cellular Molecular Biology and a Chemistry Degree. I wanted to throw a little graduation party for her to invite some friends to visit with our family while we were in town and celebrate her incredible accomplishments. After telling her to invite her friends over I realized a few things. I had NO idea what her house looks like… is there a good place to put a party table? I had NO room in our car (filled with playpens and snacks for our twins) to pack bunches of decorations but I really, really wanted it to be fun and special for her. PLUS, my sister is my biggest blog fan and has talked me up to all of her friends so I felt like I really had to make it look good.

So I set to the internet to find some ideas for adult science graduation parties and came up pretty empty. Then I came across this Fundamental Party kit from The Land of Nod and decided that was my solution. Since I’m a DIY’er at heart, I decided I’d DIY a science themed backdrop to go along with the decorations. I used black dollar store table cloths to cover the table and wall so I didn’t have to worry what kind of wall/ decorations I was competing with. That wall is actually brown/tan with nails sticking out of it… the backdrop covers it all! I had my sister write equations and diagrams in chalk pen on the table cloth for a chalkboard look. I created some molecules using painted Styrofoam balls and barbecue skewers for something a little extra. I’m so thrilled with how it turned out and it was a ton of fun to get to know her friends a little bit.

Science Themed Graduation Party

Nod Science Party-15061110 Nod Science Party-1506118 Nod Science Party-1506114Here’s some tips to throw a stress-free (but beautiful!) party no matter where on earth you are:

  • Find some awesome pre-made party decorations. Paper and plastic make for a fast clean up!
  • Get a table cloth and backdrop- again, disposable is best!
  • DIY a couple handmade touches ahead of time that you can toss when you’re done (like my molecules, or a centerpiece)
  • Bring everything you may possibly need (I learned the hard way that not everyone stocks tape in their house- save yourself the stress!)
  • Have food either prepped ahead of time or choose ready made options (we hit the grocery store when we got to town since we were traveling on a hot day)
  • Keep it simple – don’t get too fussy, you and your guests will enjoy themselves more if you’re not running around asking them to tape up last minute signs and arrange flowers.
  • Focus on one area – you don’t need to spread decorations around a whole house for a fun party. Make a great table and relax about the rest!

I hope these tips will help you have  a stress-free party (no matter where you are!), they certainly helped me pull this off in 45 minutes in a house I’ve never been to. Do you have any tips for a simple (but fun!) party? Share them in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

Colleen is a wife, Mama to 21 month old twins, and the DIY and lifestyle blogger behind Lemon Thistle where she shares printable art and hands on tutorials for DIY home decor, parties and gifts. Colleen believes you can have a beautiful life, home, and party without spending a lot- we’re keeping it real on a budget so everyone can join in on the fun.

Party On: Mystical Unicorns

Written by Becca of CAKE. | events + design

I’m in full planning mode for my daughter’s 5th birthday party, and as far as she’s concerned-unicorns are where it’s at!  I’m so in love with Sabrina Gibson’s charming plush unicorns that I’m using them as the inspiration for our unicorn themed party as well as our favors.  Check out this month’s Party On ideas for creating a sweet and modern unicorn theme.

Unicorn Themed Party 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8

Color Palette: lilac // aqua // bubble gum pink // cool grey

Party Invitation: available here

What do unicorns make you think of?  I grew up in the 80’s so for me it’s a throwback to icons of childhood… stars, hearts, rainbows and fluffy white clouds.  You could create a unicorn themed party with any one of those elements, but I like the idea of mixing them all up in a soft and playful way. These boards are all about finding creative uses for household items, so here are some of my favorite suggestions on how to make this party yours:

  • Use these colorful cubbys to make a statement at your dessert bar by filling each one up with a color coded candy surprise.  Even better, make it a party activity by having guests use the candy to decorate their own cupcakes and top them with sparkly stars.
  • Garlands and streamers are an easy way to turn your living room into a magical party space, and there is no such thing as too many. For a little extra detail that won’t go unnoticed, consider replacing your drawer pulls and use them as the anchors to hang decorations all around your space.
  • Create a unicorn dance party area with simple strobe style lighting and piles of colorful balloons… while you’re at it, a rainbow heart rug wouldn’t hurt.
  • A shower curtain… why not!? Run a dowel through the top hooks and suddenly you’ve got a dramatic table backdrop or photo booth.  And if you like to DiY, craft up some party hat style horns and ribbon tails for super cute dress up props.

If you’re inspired to go out and throw your own unicorn party now, you might need an invitation… lucky for you I happen to have just the thing in my shop.

Becca Gorski lives in the SF Bay Area, is a working mother of two, and moonlights as an occasional designer / blogger / celebration maker. You can find her creative ideas at CAKE. and her line of merry happy party printables on Etsy.

The Party On series offers inspiration for family friendly parties, featuring items from The Land of Nod that can be incorporated into both your event and your home.