Tag Archives: Savvy Auntie

New Year’s resolutions for body and brain

I recently shared an article with the Savvy Auntie community on ways to involve the kiddos in your life in keeping those get-healthy new year’s resolutions.  You can read the full article here, but one of the tips I shared was to help those resolving to keep their MINDS as healthy as their bodies in 2013.

With all the focus on getting fit and healthy, don’t forget to keep your mental muscles toned! Studies show games can improve memory and prevent dementia—do you really need more incentive to play?!

Game night doesn’t have to mean Monopoly every time… Expand your repertoire with classic strategy games like Mancala, Backgammon, or Go! Live far away? Become puzzle pen pals and exchange Sudoku puzzles or crosswords from your local newspapers. For older kids, launch an ongoing mobile game of Chess, Blokus, or Catan. You’ll stay connected and get a brain boost with each move—a win-win!

Do you make games part of your family bonding?  Prefer to play solo?  Finding new ways to incorporate brain play into your healthy routine has so many benefits, and I encourage you to get creative in involving loved ones for double the fun!

An aside – my first get-healthy resolution of the new year… switching to a stand-up desk! I’m 2 weeks in and, for lack of a better phrase, still standing!

I’d love to hear any healthy resolutions you’ve made for the new year – whether for body, brain, or both. Please share!

Summer Learning Abounds at Auntie Camp!

I had such fun writing this Aunt Camp article for Savvy Auntie the other month and hoped it served to inspire other aunts to think about fun learning experiences they could create over the summer months.  I was thrilled when I received the following email and photos from Jennifer, a very savvy auntie who has been running Auntie Camps and Retreats for her lucky nieces for years!  Here she shares her story… where can I register!?

I wanted to respond to an article from Savvy Auntie that you posted a while back.  I was just delighted to see you promoting Aunt Camps (or as my nieces and I call it “Auntie Camp”.  I have been doing Auntie Camps and now Auntie retreats for the past 3 years and before that sporadically and we are all huge fans!

It started when I was living/teaching overseas and I was looking for a way to spend some quality time with my nieces when I was home during the summer.  So I sent my sister and her husband away for two nights and moved in to take care of my two nieces then about six and seven years old.  I did simple things but made a big deal about it. 

Going to the park, baking a cake, a simple craft and a simple science experiment (I am a high school science teacher so that one came naturally. 😉 ) My nieces LOVED it.  Since then they’ve been begging to send their parents away every summer so we can have Auntie Camp.

I now live near Washington D.C. and they came to my place for a few days.  They are 10 and 12 now and it just keeps getting better.  I try to tailor activities to their interests or educate them about it so they are interested!  This past year we went to the Kennedy Center and the zoo, painted pottery, did cake decorating, saw free concerts on the Capitol steps, traveled the world through Thai food, and other exciting things.  The best part is my relationship with them is deepening and as they head into the teen years – I’m so thankful I can be a positive voice in their lives.

I realize it’s not possible for everyone, but even starting with an overnighter is a blast, minimal planning and tons of fun.   It’s also a HUGE blessing to my sister and her husband who are thankful for a break and at peace that their kids are well cared for and not homesick.

I’ve attached a couple of pictures from over the years and my niece’s edition of her biweekly newspaper that she writes. This one was about Auntie Camp.

Extra Extra, Read all about it! Auntie Camp featured in the Duvallville Herald!

I have tons of ideas including easy science experiments, craft ideas, even how to schedule things.  It does take some effort but it is definitely worth it.
~Jennifer F. aka Auntie Jenn

Avoid the Dreaded B-Word: 10 Ideas to Fight Tween Boredom

I was recently invited to share a post with the Savvy Auntie community with ideas for summer fun, and I thought I’d repost here in hopes you’ll be inspired to make the most of these last few weeks of summer!  Here’s a link to my original article, which I’ve re-posted here:

Keeping kids entertained as the lazy days of summer drag on can be a challenge – and tweens can be a particularly tough crowd.  There are few phrases as cringe-inducing for an auntie as a whiny, “I’m booooooored!”  While sidewalk chalk and a garden sprinkler could be all it takes to remedy this for a younger audience, finding creative ways to entertain tweens takes a bit more ingenuity.

While it is important to encourage overscheduled kids to work through boredom on their own from time to time, a Savvy Auntie armed with fun ideas can be a hero when the B-Word looms large!  Here are some creative ideas to keep in your back pocket:

Cross Train Your Brain

Get in the Olympic spirit with a Brain Decathlon.  Gather a collection of 10 logic and reasoning puzzles and set up a rotation for an afternoon of brain fitness. Tweens build confidence, creativity, and problem solving skills… but they’ll think it’s all fun and games!

Become a YouTube Sensation

As the countless videos of cats playing piano illustrate, anyone with a smartphone or flip cam can create and share video with the world.  Film your niece’s rendition of Call Me Maybe using sock puppets or your nephew wowing the world with magic tricks… you never know what will go viral!

Play With Your Food

Tie on your aprons and have fun with food!  Challenge tweens to an Iron Chef-style competition, with a secret ingredient each must incorporate into three dishes.  Cheese, bananas, sprinkles… you choose the twist and provide cookbooks or food magazines for inspiration. Let tweens plan menus, make a grocery run, and get cooking!  Invite friends over and present your creations to a Judge’s Table.

Get PINspired!

Pinterest is a goldmine for creative craft ideas!  Check out some great DIY boards from Makedo, ThinkFun, and Babble and choose your next crafting adventure together.

Stalk the Wild Cupcake

Put your sweet tooth to the test and track down the best cupcake in town.  Conduct site visits and taste tests, taking notes and narrowing down the finalists.  Surprise the winning shopkeeper with a special award you design and present!

Super-Size Me

Even the typical toothbrush is riveting when its 6 feet long!  Stock up on supplies like recycled bottles, wire hangers, newspaper, and paint, and create a large-scale version of an everyday small object.  Get messy with paper mache, and add buttons, cotton balls, yarn and other found objects as decorations.  Turn your living room into a gallery and invite neighbors over for the grand opening.

Mini Golf Masters

With a little creativity, mini golf becomes much more than swiping a ball into a clown’s mouth. Scout out local courses (or pools, arcades, whatever destination most excites you) and spend the week visiting several, clipboard in hand.  Set criteria for evaluating – quality of hot dogs at the snack bar, ball color options, etc. – and create an insider guide to the best of the best!

Opposite Day

Ridiculousness knows no bounds when you commit to a day where nothing works as it should.  Start your day with a spaghetti dinner, read a magazine back to front, only respond to your name when said backwards… let tweens see how far they can take the theme!

Move Over Frommer’s

Create your own guidebook to your town.  This fun activity will help visiting nieces and nephews explore your city or get to know their own hometown better.  Take walks to find little-known landmarks – or invent your own!  Use an online photo service to create a hardcover guidebook filled with your pictures, captions, and funny anecdotes.

Old Movie Night

Let your tween pick the film – the catch is it has to be from the 1970s or earlier. Have fun in the kitchen preparing retro snacks like pineapple upside-down cake for the ‘50s or fondue for the ‘60s and enjoy some wholesome (and tasty!) family fun.


What activities do your tweens love?  Please share your ideas here and help build the Tween Toolkit!

Calling all Savvy Aunties…

As a proud auntie myself, I was honored to share this recent “Aunt Camp” article on playful summer learning with the Savvy Auntie community!

If you’re new to Savvy Auntie, this site is the first and only community for Aunts – a group that includes Aunties by Relation (ABR), Aunties by Choice (ABC), Great-Aunts, Godmothers, and all women who love kids!  This site is designed to empower Aunts to exchange ideas, get advice, find gifts and connect with other Savvy Aunties!

Growing up, summers always included a fun-filled week with my own amazing aunt, and I hope this piece encourages other fun-loving aunties to engage their families in some brain-building summer fun!  Enjoy!

My sweet nephew Hunter, enrolling in Aunt Camp Summer 2014!

Also, mark your calendars for July 22nd for the 4th annual celebration of Auntie’s Day!