Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Getting Ready for Mickey! - Part 1

I've been having so much fun making things in preparation for our trip to Disney World later this year. I'm reeaaallllyy excited about this trip and even though I know it'll be an amazing trip without my help, I'm doing what I can to add a little extra magic here and there. :)
Here's what I've done so far:

I'll confess this took me a long time to make, but that's mainly because I'm a perfectionist when it comes to stuff like this. I researched websites to find out which characters appear in the parks and then I scoured Google Images for nice looking photos of said characters and each park's logo. Then I had my husband whip up a program that equally distributed the characters over 10 game boards so there's a fair shot for each person playing. Lastly I printed and cut everything and then finally our Disney bingo game was ready to play with! James loves it and we play it often. It's been a great way to get him acquainted with the parks and the characters he's not so familiar with.

~Mousekeeping Tags~
I was inspired by this (much cuter) version. The housekeeping persons that care for the rooms at Disney parks are called "Mousekeepers" (love how Disney throws a little magic everywhere!). I know tipping housekeeping isn't required and that it's not everyone's cup of tea to do so, but we like to show our appreciation when a job's been done well. So, these tags will serve to do just that - they were quick and easy to make, all it took was just a bit of colored paper and ribbon, this font, and a paperclip! I made one for each day of our stay.

~Spilling the Beans!~
Several of you wrote asking me if we're keeping the trip a surprise from James. The answer is no! Not only because there's just no way I could've stopped myself from accidentally spilling the beans over the next few months, but also because I believe the anticipation is half the fun! I made this countdown straight away which has removed any of those "Is it almost time to go to Disney??" questions.

Here's how we told James about the exciting news: I created a "secret message" for him to decode. Take a closer look at the photo, hopefully it's self-explanatory. :) I put the message in an envelope and placed it in the mailbox. James collects the mail each day and was really excited to see he'd received something "top secret and confidential". We video taped his reaction as he read the completed message, which was: "You are going to Disney World!!" He was *SO* excited and repeated the message over and over before finally saying, "Let's go now!".

~Pressed Pennies~
I've heard about the autograph books you can buy/make for the characters to sign, but I've also heard many parents say that while their child enjoyed getting the autographs, they really don't do much with the book afterward. Then I heard about the pressed penny machines available in the parks and knew James would really get a kick out of those. He likes collections of things and I could see him pulling out the pennies and using them to play with, count with, etc.
So, thanks to Pinterest, I made these pressed penny money tubes using graphics from this site. We'll use just one tube (that'll make 19 pennies) - I made the others for some friends that are going to Disney next month.
A few pressed penny tips:
1) For shinier pennies, select coins pre 1982 - apparently they have a higher content of copper.
2) Make an activity out of cleaning the pennies before you leave. Click here to see what I mean.
3) You could also choose brand new pennies from your child's birth year or the year you're visiting Disney.
4) The machines cost 50 cents plus the penny you're wanting to press.
5) Within the tube stack the coins in 51 cent increments, this will make for a more user-friendly visit to the pressing machine. :)
6) I used small Mini M&M candy tubes. Filled to the top each one held $9.69.
7) Click here to find a complete list of where to find the machines throughout the parks and which images you'll find at each machine.

That's all for now! In the coming months I'll have more Disney things to share as well as a big giveaway! Click here to see other parts to this series.

~Thank you for your comments!~


Lindsay said...

You guys are going to have sooooo much fun!! Love the decode message to tell him how to go!

twolittleseeds said...

Mousekeeping tags.... too cute! x

Jo said...

All these little activities sound so fun. We are going to Disney World in February, but it's a surprise for our kids. I love the idea of the press penny machines tube things. I will def being doing this. Thanks for the idea!

teachermom said...

Thanks for the tips. I will look for your future ideas. I am driving my 3 children to WDW in June.

Carolina said...

Oh my goodness, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE share your bingo game for printing. That is the best thing I've ever seen! We live in Florida and go to Disney World a lot, and my daughter loves everything disney related.

Love your site, great ideas as always!

Jenette said...

What great ideas! Some new ones I'll be using for sure next time! Will you possibly be sharing your bingo and decoding that you made?

jengod said...

You may actually be the best, most energetic and awesome mom in the whole world.

teampr8 said...

Love your ideas!! The bingo game sounds so wonderful! We have four kiddos who love take part in our trip planning process. We talked of Disney for a whole year before we went. I believe they were much more prepared and informed. We read disney books (character and kids travel), watched the movies of course, played trivia about the parks each night at dinner, dvr'ed and watched the travel channel specials about disney, researched the history, made lego mock ups of each park and so much more. My kids love pressed pennies too! We did autograph books too, but had the characters sign a page of a scrapbooking 4x6 mat stack. When we got home we took apart the stack and put the autographs in our photo albums. Another thing we did was have the Mickey Fairy come to our room each night, he left a small trinket that I had brought from home-a disney water bottle, mickey temporary tattos, a new disney tshirt, glow sticks for nights we were going to a night parade. The kids loved them and so much cheaper than buying in park.

Lina said...

Ditto the comment about sharing your bingo game! What a terrific idea and it looks spectacular. Heck, I'd be happy to pay you for the PDF :)) Just tell me where to send the money!

Allison said...

We are leaving Saturday for Disney World and we are soo excited! Keep the Disney posts coming!


Malessia said...

I am new to your blog, and to Montessori. After seeing your activities for your trip to Disney, I wonder if I have the time to do these sorts of things. I certainly don't want to be disrespectful, but I honestly cannot get my mind around all the time it must take for you to create these projects. Because you're not just "finding" them. When do you have time to do all this? Are you up all night? Are your children both very good at independent play? Just curious. I only have one 2 1/2 year old and I am lucky to get the dishwasher unpacked!

I am a former middle school teacher with master's degree. I am also very interested in how you got your Montessori certification. My son didn't get into any of the Montessori schools we applied to (it's a lottery because they're so popular). So in order to better serve my son, I am thinking about getting certified then eventually going back to the classroom. Any advice on the training?

Your blog is very inspirational. I will give this my very best effort. Congratulations on all you do. I'm gobsmacked!

Counting Coconuts said...

Thanks so much for you comments and ideas!

I would LOVE to share my bingo cards with all of you, but I'm fearful of there being some image copyrights I'm not aware of. I've heard too many copyright horror stories lately!! :( Sorry!

As for the decoding message, I did it all by hand and subsequently there's no 'document' to share. But it's super easy (and fun!) to make and only took me about 15 minutes to put together.

@Malessia: I received my training and certification online - you can read more about my thoughts on that here on my blog (see my FAQ). As for my time, I'm not offended that you asked, I get asked this ALL the time. Funny thing is, though, I have the same amount of time as every one else. I have two kiddos, I homeschool, I run around all over the place taking them to this or that lessons/event/playdate, I have errands, and cook, clean, etc. :D I suppose it comes down to how I organizing that time. I cannot survive on little sleep, so no, I'm not up all night. :) I only work on these kinds of things in the evenings after my children go to sleep. They go to sleep at around 7, which leaves me about 3 hours to do what I will, whether that be knitting, exercising, reading, blogging, crafting, watching TV, etc. Plus, for the most part, it doesn't take long to do these things (the Bingo game was an exception, but that was done here and there over the course of a month). I also have my weekends to do devote a bit more time to projects and school planning. I have a very understanding and supportive husband who gladly spends time with our children should I need/want to focus on said projects.

Anyway, that was a long answer, but I hope it made sense!


The Scribe said...

What kind of tubes did you use and where did you get them? My girls LOVE these pressed pennies and this is such a great idea rather than frantically digging through my purse for change! :)

Lotte Lu and Brother Too said...

We are prepping for our first Disney vacation too! Ours is little under a month away! I've been making lots of outfits for my kiddos so they have plenty of mouse shirts!

I have also made a penny tube, but the ones you linked to are absolutely adorable! Thank you for sharing.

I'm also going to use your thank you tag idea. It will also help with planning out tips for mouse keeping and other cast members! I love that Disney calls everyone of their employees (no matter how small the job) cast members. So magical.

I hope you all enjoy your trip!

Michelle said...

This is such a great idea, we love getting the pressed pennies at Sesame Place this is now the perfect place to keep them safe!! Thank you for sharing.

Bryn said...

The bingo cards are fantastic. They would be great to share. My understanding is that Disney doesn't care as long as you don't charge. But the folks at Creative DISigns know everything there is to know about that. Maybe you could ask them. Creative DISigns is the second-to-last forum on the list.

Corbett Warren said...

I love these ideas. We are missionaries serving in Honduras, and God has blessed us with the gift of a Disney trip after we return to the states for our annual furlough. We are surprising our 6 year old daughter with the trip. We will reveal the day after we return from Honduras, and then the following day leave for the 2 day drive. I LOVE the idea of a decoding message! Thank you! I will be checking your blog for more Disney ideas. Also, I have heard the same thing that Disney doesn't care as long as you are not SELLING the items. Would love to have your bingo game... and she wouldn't even realize WHY we're playing it... we're giving her little hints through this year - that she won't realize until we return to the US! WOO HOO I LOVE THIS!!!

5 loaves and 2 fish said...

Hi! I'm taking my kids to Washington D.C. in about 3 weeks and I've been trying to gather learning activities to make it more meaningful. Your ideas for Disney are amazing! I'm going to make some like yours D.C. style!

New note: I've been considering homeschooling my 7,5,&3 year olds Montessori style. I have a bachelors for elem. Ed, but have only researched my heart out for Montessori. My 7 and 5 have been attending an expensive Montessori school and I'm not sure I can keep up with the cost especially once my younger two get older and need to go full day as well. I love teaching and love my kiddos. Would it be wrong to pull them out after one year? I respect your advice.

Counting Coconuts said...

@5 loaves and 2 fish: I think the decision to homeschool is a big one and a very personal thing - only you really know how much time and patience you'll have for such an endeavor. It really is a huge commitment, but it's VERY rewarding. My two cents? If you're willing, able, and you honestly think you can devote your time and energies toward homeschooling then GO FOR IT! :) I have no personal experience with how kids react to being in school and then being pulled out. It's a change, no doubt, and it certainly depends on the personality of your child, but I'd say they'll happily adjust in good time. HTH!


Corbett Warren said...

Would you PLEASE post a link or be willing to send me a pdf or SOMETHING for your Disney Game? I would be SO grateful!!!!!!!!!!! PLEASE!!!!!!!!

Corbett Warren said...

would you PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE post your Disney Bingo... or even just send it to me in a PDF or whatever format to my email???? PLEASE???

Regina said...

A little off subject, but could you offee me some resources on planning a Disney vacation? There are so many options that I don't know where to start!

Dee said...

I just made these for some little guys I know who are going to be taking their first trip to Disney. What a fun idea! Thanks.


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