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Saturday, June 29, 2013


I am super excited to bring you this EXTRA SPECIAL SATURDAY FLASH SALE!
I LOVE THESE LADIES, and you should visit their shops and take advantage of these AWESOME DEALS! 
Have a shop of your own? Get in on the buzz and link up at the bottom!

Good Morning Everyone!!

I'm so very, very excited about today's Small Business Saturday because we are doing something we have never done before. We are hosting an A-List Member FLASH Sale. What does this mean?

It means TODAY ONLY you can receive 30% and MORE from some of our A-List Members!
All you have to do is click on the ads below to go to that particular shop! 
If you buy something we would love for you to share with us what you bought (or from which store) on Twitter using #FlashAList!!

We are continuing with the link up for this week as usual! Please visit the shops in the link up that are participating in this sale and like or follow their shops!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tuesday Tip: Soft Focus Filter

This is one of my favorite cheats or photography hacks!

A Filter, is something an item that attaches to your camera lens and typically changes something. We have talked about using a UV filter to protect your lens... and I STRONGLY believe everyone should have one on every lens they own. It's clear and it doesn't effect your photos - but it provides awesome protection against dust, scratches and falls for your lens at a very reasonable price.

I am not a filter nut, however I get a TON of use out of my Polarized Filter, which is like sunglasses for your camera. It reduces the reflective light and adds contrast to your images. It's super awesome for darkening skies and removing reflections in glass, and water... I use mine ALL the time!

But, one of my favorites is the soft focus filter... This was probably used a little too much in the 80's and 90's portraits... and it was the spring board for the "center focus" filters which blurred out all but the face in the middle of the portrait.  However, I find that this "hack" of one of the most popular filters for portrait photography... is not only convenient and practical... but looks AWESOME!

All you need is a Rubber Band... and Tulle.

Simply use the rubber band to hold the tulle tightly to the front of your lens No wrinkles. Be sure to hold the extra down away from your flash and so it doesn't go back into the field of view. I use white when I am shooting on a light background or outside, black tulle when I am on dark backgrounds.

This creates a sort of diffusion, or soft focus filter effect. As you can see by my fab model below... 

No Filter
Stinking kid wouldn't take a bath, so you have to forgive the creepy model. 
However, you can see there is a lot of shine on the hair and face... and you can see a lot of whispy frizz in the hair. On a regular person you would see all the uneven skin tone, even blemishes and all the wrinkles. 
1 Layer of Tulle

With this simple step while shooting you see the shine and wispy hairs are reduced... on humans you would see some evening of the skin tone, less reflections from shiny skin... even smother appearing wrinkles and blemishes. 

Is it removing them.. no. But without spending time in Photoshop, it is giving you a solid option to add a natural, softer look to your portraits.. for virtually free. The best part about this... is it is easy to carry, tucks into a pocket...and unlike my filters it doesn't mind going through the wash when I forget to take it out of those pockets! 

Happy Shooting!

Friday, June 21, 2013

My Eco Move Tips

As many of you know I focus on Eco choices in my photography and lifestyle. I try to make as many good choices as I can, including recycling and conserving energy in the office and home. Today, I thought it would be fun to give you a peek inside our move, since that will be coming up in a few short weeks.

Several years ago I visited a store I used to work in to pick up some boxes to pack for an upcoming move. I knew they would have large boxes as well as small sturdy ones for all my books. I was super surprised when the Manager, and good friend told me that he could do one better. He hooked me up with the shipping crates that had been used several years earlier that where sitting in storage. Not just one or two...but like 20... WHOOHOO! This was an incredible find. These are TOUGH totes designed to carry weight and can be sealed with a zip tie if needed for security. I have used these totes ever since for all my kitchen appliances, dishes, and anything else that I wouldn't want damaged!

I have also picked up an amazing amount of every day totes. While I wish I would have found them second hand, having them all one size to stack easily and that I found them on clearance for $3 each was a blessing at the time. I have more then gotten my monies worth. I use them for kid storage, prop storage and other organizing as I need... and when it comes time to move.... I pack them up and snap on a lid. In most cases I don't need to even use tape.

Investing in totes is differently my number one tip for starting to think earth friendly when moving, but you can also use Craigslist or post on community boards in your area to pick up packing materials from someone else rather then purchasing them.

I also recommend saving your shreds from mail, to use as packing materials over newspaper. If you are going to use newspaper - or other tissue really try to get it from a recycle bin over purchasing just for that purpose. For many of my appliances I use towels, blankets or other clothing that I can pack early rather then using something else... I mean its all got to go in a box anyway right?

If your lucky enough to be getting a cleaning company to come in behind you - find an eco-friendly one! There are TONS of them out now, that use Earth friendly products! I love picking these up deals on living social for cleanings - its nice to have them in your back pocket even if your not moving!

Re-painting (the new place or the old) look for paints with low or zero VOC's like Benjamin Moore paints (and make sure the tinting used doesn't add them!)

Simple, little changes can make a big impact! Do you have a tip for me? I would love to hear what you do to stay a little greener!  

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Top 5 DIY Product Photography Tips

I have had several online shop owners coming to me asking for advice on how to make their DIY product images better... and time after time, I find myself writing the same (or similar) email back... I thought I would simply post a quick Tips post to be able to point people to!

If your images are dark, grainy, have a color cast, blurry or simply "yucky"....

Here are my top tips, for starting to troubleshoot and solve your DIY Dilemma!

1. Lets talk set up. Here is a great post about how to set up next to a window. http://www.tsualist.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-dollar-store-studio.html
You do want to make sure you understand the difference between shooting in the morning, afternoon, night... sunny, partly sunny, or during a rainstorm... each difference changes the type and quality of your light. I have some great posts on this on the blog... There are a ton of posts in March for product photography - and previously about white balance and types of light... like this one http://vertephoto.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-best-time-to-do-product-photography.html

2. Camera settings. Usually the biggest issue isn't the type of camera (tho lens quality will play a role) but focusing on an item close up, and possible reflection off the materials may be the root of the issue. Here is what to look for in order to over come those issues:

  • Keep your flash off.  When your shooting close up and you use your flash... it creates an overexposed image with too much light and the subject looks blurry or "ghostly" because of the reflection of the light back into the camera.
  • Make sure your shooting in a Program mode (not auto which is commonly a green square or green P, or AUTO... but a regular P) this will allow you to control your flash and access additional options.

  • Find a Macro Function: I would suggest using the "flower" or "close up" mode that it lists under your Scene (SCN) mode... these will allow your camera to focus closer and typically allow more light to your sensor. This will help (maybe solve) the complaint you had about the images being so dark - by gathering more light to your sensor your images will be better exposed. Depending on your camera, it may allow you to physically get closer to your subject and still remain in focus as well. (NOTE: Most point and shoot style cameras will only allow you access to find this SCN mode when your camera is in Program. If your in Auto, this menu will not be visible)
  •  If you have an "anti shake" or "DIS" or any sort of Image Stabilization option turned on for your CAMERA - turn it off.  These functions when on the camera are adjusting your ISO setting which is what is causing the images to look really broken down and poor quality.. your seeing the noise created by your pixels. To learn more: http://vertephoto.blogspot.com/2013/05/tuesday-tip-dis-function.html
  • Now, it's hard for me to tell.. you could have adjusted the ISO (which is what controls the noise) by selecting an anti shake type function, or you could have done it manually by adjusting your ISO - If you selected it manually you want to read just and go down to auto or 100 (maybe 200 if you want to shoot on a cloudy day) Typically auto is just fine, and you should never really "need" to adjust this off of auto. If it is set to auto and it is forcing your ISO settings up on its own with no adjustments from a IS function or you... then you have WAAAY to little light going on! You can check your camera settings to see what the auto is shooting at typically on your camera, if you cant find it let me know and I can show you how to find it on your image on your computer by viewing the meta-information.
  • Back off. In most cases you've got high enough resolution - you could back off a little if you need in order to get focus.. then simply edit the images to crop closer :) If you need a photo editor I can give you some to check out - that you can either download free or that would be fairly inexpensive. (you can pick up old versions of Photoshop Elements, a consumer level photoshop program that is easy to use for as low as $10... and they work perfectly for 90% of your photoshop needs!) 

4. Lets talk backgrounds.
  • Black adsorbs light and is great when TOO much light is your issue... but it rarely is.
  • White backdrops (like poster board) help to reflect the light you have creating  an overall more balanced look to your images. In most cases of DIY, the issue is not enough light... so by using white your adding extra light to your area.
  • If you don't want to go white - go Grey. You can find poster board still at the dollar store or any craft store :) super easy and cheap fix.While grey is a neutral, it wont bounce light... it wont absorb it either.
5. Add Light. ADD LIGHT..... ADD LIGHT! 99% of issues, the image posted above included will benefit from MORE LIGHT. Just because you think something is well lit, doesn't mean your camera will see it that way. Your camera sees about a 1/3 of the light you see. (ok this is really "depending" on the settings and type of camera... but its a good rule of thumb)
Use reflectors to bounce light where you have shadows. Use diffusers to soften harsh light. Read up on white balance, to make sure your getting the best quality of light. Again... I talk about light ALL the time because it is the SINGLE most important factor in photography. EVERYTHING is contingent upon light.

Bonus Tip: Be sure to keep your manual for a quick reference to find the different scene modes, or other adjustments and settings that I am talking about! If you don't have it, google your camera and look for the PDF manual, there hasn't been a camera I haven't been able to find one for yet!

Now, after you have put these tips to use... if you still want some additional help.. I am HAPPY to help troubleshoot! Simply leave me a message, or shoot me an email and I will be sure to take a look at what you have going on!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Morning Coffee

This morning while I have some coffee, I thought I would share a big event in our neck of the woods.

I am super excited to announce that we will be moving at the end of the month. It's not the move we wanted to make, but it will give my family some much needed space.

It will also put us closer to Alicia from Zeeuh - she has been a great connection and SUPER sweet to me! I can't wait to get to know her and her family better! Right now I will tell you she has this new AMAZING summer collection in her shop - and I ordered an item before it was even released because I loved the colors SO much!!! In fact, I might order even more :) I LOVE her creations!
This is just a couple of the items I have purchased from her in the past few months.

Alicia met me earlier this week, and my new mug hug is keeping me company in the studio as I finish up my current project for another favorite client (who I am I kidding... I love them all!).

Coffee tastes sweeter when it comes in a bright cheerful hug :)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

5 Camera Bag Vacation Essentials

Summer is almost synonymous with vacation. Regardless if your taking a day trip, stay-cation, road trip, or flying abroad.. I've got your back with these 5 tips on what to pack in your camera bag!

1. Rain/Sand cover.  This is a really great item to pack in your bag, and simply leave there. Most are plastic and fold down to take up virtually no space. I love these little bags, because while they are designed for photographers shooting in rain, or humid conditions they also make great added protection around the pool, lakes, and ocean!! Protecting your camera from water is HUGE! Nothing fries out electronics faster then water! Except possibly sand! I couple of little sand crystals in your lens (Dslr, or point and shoot alike) and your looking at some $$ for repairs or possibly purchasing a new one all together!

This little bad boy can be found in many forms from Amazon or your local camera shop. The plastic covers aren't really made for long term use, but with care you can get more then your monies worth since they start at only $6!

The heavier duty bag for SLR style cameras is WELL worth the investment! Again I found this one online at Amazon starting at $12 and is built to be the last one you would "need" to buy!
Now, these are designed for larger slrs... they would work fine for bridge cameras with lens that extend out... but they make them for point and shoots, as well as other electronics like ipads, phones etc. Just remember your looking for a bag to shoot with, not simply something to protect from splashes... if you have to take it out to shoot, it wont help!

2. Silicon Packs. Crazy right? But save those packs you get with new shoes and drop a few in with your memory cards, and around your camera bag.

Believe it or not, they do help draw some of the moisture away from your electronics. If your going (or live) some place with a lot of humidity, every little bit helps! You can also pick up a handy product like Nikon's 8073 Fog Eliminator which you can wipe your lens with and it keeps them from fogging up in the humidity! Some work better then others, personally I have had good luck with this one!

3. Backups and Storage. Memory cards are a no-brainer these days... you always want to have more then you think, and personally I suggest you never shoot a whole vacation day or event on one card. Cards can get corrupted, and are prone to static shock... so I swap back and forth between several cards so if one has an issue - I still have images on another card. While that increasing my time slightly for separating them on my computer, its time well spent in my opinion. The first time you have to pay $300 for image recovery due to static shock you will thank me too!

Now backup isn't simply extra cards. I suggest if your doing more then a day trip you think about a portable hard drive, or lap top as a backup as well. I DON'T suggest that you delete the images from your card.. but simply have 2 or 3 copies as your traveling. You can pick up a 1T drive, that you can hook up a card reader via USB to for under $100 - the larger the drive the more $$ it will cost... but to me, not losing my vacation images = priceless! While your at it, pick up a nice hard, travel case for this device - they start at only $8!

4. Memory Card Storage Case. I don't trust the little pockets in my camera bag for important small things like memory cards! I suggest you pick up something like this:

This hard case, can be found in a water-tight (sand proof) option also. It protects your cards, not just from static, humidity and those types of things.. but its a great investment to keep your cards safe at home, and while traveling. Losing a card would be FAR worse then having to hassle with image recovery! They aren't expensive and in my book its just as important as my camera bag itself!

5. WIFI booster. If your traveling and expecting to be able to post images along the way, or utilize online or cloud storage sites for backups, this little guy is fantastic! On twitter the other day I was complaining about my WiFi not reaching the pool... and a friend suggested this. I was like "OH DUH!" so now I get to work while my daughter swims this summer! Perfect! It's also super handy for poor connections at hotels, or other more dodgy options such as the local coffee house. It is a super practical purchase for anyone using a WiFi while traveling... and I find it a great goody to keep in my camera bag for the "just in case" moments!

I hope you have a FUN, and SAFE Vacation season! I can't wait to see your memories!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Melli's Trinkets, and more!

I have to tell you... I shoot a lot of different knit and crochet items... granted most are for babies... or are hair bows. However, I recently hooked up with my new client Melli from Melli's Yarn Works... and got a chance to work on her items so she could update her site. 
It always surprises me how different things are when you get a chance to hold them! Now that I have, I can't tell you enough wonderful things about Melli and her products!!! She is AMAZING! THOUGHTFUL (did you see what she sent me as a thank you gift?) and oh SO talented! Her quality and passion for providing your with great items totally comes through when you touch her products! I can only hope that with her updated images that you can see some of that detail and love that is stitched into each item! (for lack of a better pun) Plus, shes got 2 great stores for you to visit!

Besides totally gushing on Melli... I wanted YOU to get to know her as well! So, I sent a request for a little interview. You can read that "interview" below - I hope you enjoy!

  • When did you start your business?
I started my jewelry business in April of 2011. My loom knit business is more recent and I opened it in 2012 towards the end of the year.

  • Why, choose this for a business?
I've made jewelry since I can remember. And I've always been crafty! My jewelry hobby was starting to add up and the more complicated the pieces I just couldn't keep giving them away. So now my jewelry is affordable for everyone and a way to make sure I can get new supplies for more epic goodies! My loom knitting store has a similar story except I got my first looms for Christmas in 2011 (I did not receive them until March 2012 because of a delayed holiday). I loved using them and created my own patterns. Again, I could only give so much away before I had to find a way to get more supplies so Melli's Yarn Works was born!
Wonderful bracelet that was part of our Birthday Giveaway, from Melli's Trinkets

  • What's your "top seller"
My jewelry top seller is pearl dangle bracelets! For my Loom Knit items, it is a tie between hats and wrist warmers!
Those Awesome wrist warmers making an appearance in the studio!

  • What are you most proud of (business or personal)
I am so proud that I can have two stores, with two different item focuses. And go to school (college for a bachelor's degree in psychology), do homework AND be a mom and all this stuff :) I feel like I'm still finding my way to balance everything but when I look at all I do I'm like "wow I'm insane" lol!!

  • What advice would you give to a new business/shop owner
Keep trying. And don't give up. It takes a lot of effort and time. And branch out to other people! Get out there and connect. I have made AMAZING friends via twitter, facebook and other social media stuff. It's just epic how supportive they are!
An infinity scarf... check out that crazy consistency and soft texture!

  • What makes your products special?
I feel like I'm taking loom knitting to new places. Before my wrist warmer tutorial, I could not find anything even remotely close to it. I also figured out how to make character hats entirely out of looms with no crocheting/knitting! My jewelry is affordable, which is not something many can say. I use the best supplies and make sure to keep my costs low for everyone.

  • What new things do you have coming out?
Melli's Yarn Works has new slouchy berets in stock as well as messenger bags! For Melli's Trinkets, I just listed new items including dainty necklaces!

  • Why do you do what you do ?
It all started because my husband was deployed and I needed something to focus on. My son was not even a year old at the time and making jewelry was a nice thing I could do for myself. Now I have the two hobbies and I can loom knit at my desk while still interacting with my son.

Each item, packed in a fun little bag - seriously they are adorable to receive!

  • What is something few people know about you?
I am only 23 and a full time college student. I was in the Army for 2 years... and I met my hubby in Hawaii :)

  • What is the craziest (PG) thing you have ever done?
I would have to say joining the Army. It was an INSANE ride the entire time!

I find it a little funny, myself that I have had two wonderfully talented jewelry makers on the blog this month... both did "time" in the Army... both listed it as the most insane thing they have done in their lives!  If you want to experience Melli's items for yourself, and I highly recommend you do - visit her shops, or connect with her on her blog or twitter! Here are all the links you need!

Blog: http://mellistrinkets.blogspot.com/
Shops:  http://mellisyarnworks.storenvy.com
Twitter: @Mellistrinkets

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Interested in Guest Blogging?

As you might have noticed May is the start of our busiest season here at Verte. So we have been sharing some people and products we love... and several of them have been kind enough to help out with some guests posts! I love it when other people stop by and share with you... and I hope you do as well!

So I wanted to put out an open call for help this summer. While I still plan to hold true to my plans and give you solid advice and photography tips... I also thought it would be fun to share some of your memories, and stories along the way! It helps give me a break (and you!) from those very long thought out technical posts!

To that end, I am asking for some additional guest posts... perhaps you want to share YOUR best camera secret, or maybe simply some wordless stories. I also would LOVE some Road Trippin posts for July's series! Your best tips, advice, places to go, what to see.... travel stories! (I personally want to bring you a vacation Anthony Bordain style... but I lack his finesse).

If your interested in guest blogging - please contact me! Leave a message, drop me a line on Twitter, or email me direct! We would love to have you!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tuesday Tip: Senior Portraits

Summer is rolling around and for many of you that means.... 


Since I myself am all ready booking, I thought that I would make it easy, for my clients as well as my readers to get some great tips on what to wear, bring, etc to make your senior session a success! 

Today we will be talking about ideas for you, and general Senior Portrait suggestions! If you are having portraits with me... these are my recommendations! If you are having portraits done with another photographer, you should take these as general suggestions and talk them over with your photographer. Since each person uses different tools and creativity to produce your images they may have their own rules, guidelines or suggestions.

  1. Think about your location. Are you doing portraits indoors, or outdoors? 
  2. Think about your style. This is a session about YOU. Your clothes, accessories and make-up matter. Let them tell your story.
  3. Think about who your giving them to. Your grandmother loves you. She may not love seeing you dressed to go clubbing.

Personalize your session.

When you schedule your appointment, I will work with you to find the right locations. I have several "go to" locations, but I want your portraits to be a reflection of you.

Punk, skater, or rock and roll: Graffiti walls, brick, or more urban and edgy locations fit the bill.
More country or casual: Then we can look for a barn, hayloft, horses... railroad tracks, tall grasses and old fences. The more information you can provide during your consultation prior to scheduling the more I can offer personalized suggestions and options. 
Feminine, traditional or classic: Flowers, lakes, parks, green grass. 

BYOP: Bring your own Prop! Skateboard, football, ballet slippers, or an instrument. Bringing something that shares your interest helps tell your story!

What to bring:

Clothing Changes. I ask that you bring 3-5 clothing changes (if possible) to your session and even some extra accessories, shoes, and jackets or sweaters to change the look easily. I will then assist you on what will look best for your shape, coloring and setting.  The clothes will then be edited down to the best of the best!

When selecting outfits I recommend that you avoid large stripes and too many patterns.  Choose clothing that will best fit your shape and body style.   

You should always bring things that you love and fit your personality. However, I also suggest you bring at least one  “classic” look as well. If your a girl and you NEVER wear dresses... don't bring one. You will be uncomfortable, and it will show. Instead opt for a nice shirt or sweater, even a jacket that can be put on to create a "Grandparent friendly" or classic option! I understand that if you are a bold, trendy person it would look unnatural to put you in a baby pink button up! You can however do a solid color stylish cut shirt, in a bold color, or even a classic white with a showcase jewelry piece!

That being said I still love trendy, fashion statements... I love when someone has a unique look and really owns it. I just suggest you create a little balance, a compromise for just a few shots, and think about how your outfit will look hanging on Grandma's wall! I'm a parent, I have to say it!

 I suggest also that you think in layers, bringing along a few simple options like a jacket or sweatshirt that can be slipped on and off can help give you different looks, and be more suitable especially if your on location and walking around! 

Shoes. Don't forget different shoes... if your going formal, bring a formal pair of shoes... casual we can do bare feet, or sandals.... but be sure they are in good shape, and clean. I will do full body as well as close up images, so your feet and shoes will show!

Accessories: If your bringing jewelery, I suggest you pack it carefully so it doesn't break or get tangled. Bring it in a pouch or something that wont be lost easily! 

Makeup/Hair: For most clients I suggest you come with your hair and make-up already done. If you would like me to schedule a hair or make-up artist to do this for your prior to your session, that can be arranged however you will be responsible for covering the additional expense.  

Ladies should remember to bring extra lip gloss or lipstick, and powder to help with shine.

You should bring your own comb or brush, hairspray and small water bottle for location shoots. If we are in the studio, I will have plenty of these items around.

Tip: Verte Photography is not responsible for hair dissatisfaction since we are not familiar with your preferences, tolerances for styles, locks or strands. Retouching is done at the client's expense

WATER! While, again I have this in the studio, you should bring 2 or 3 times more water then you would normally drink when your outside. Being a model for a few hours really is HARD work, if your outside and walking around on location you will be thankful for the extra refreshment!

Bring your own Sherpa: I always recommend a friend or loved one come along with the senior. Not only can they help carry your items on location (because there is a lot!), but it sometimes helps you feel more comfortable to have a friend! They can help check your hair and remind you to fix make-up and things as well! While I am happy to help tote items, and always check your details... I do have my own pack of goods to tote and an extra set of eyes is always helpful! 

Verte Extras:
I offer my clients a portable changing room for location shoots. It isn't glamorous, or spacious but it does provide privacy in public areas. However, I do limit full clothing changes to 3 per hour session so that we don't spend all of our time changing clothes!

If you plan on adding a make-up or hair service contact me directly before you schedule your appointment. We will need to co-ordinate the services and times appropriately.

Typically an outdoor session is 1 hour, depending on location. Some locations may require more walking time to get from spot to spot. I never suggest a shoot last longer then 2 hours. I never limit my clients on a number of images. I shoot way more then you will ever need. Trust me.  

I offer all seniors a free digital yearbook image, or depending on the school 2 wallets. I ask each senior to bring, or email me the school information regarding portraits.

Verte also provides 1 free social media image, for each senior to share online with each package, and a 25% discount for a graduation session, that you can use for announcements or collage applications during the spring the following year.



Monday, June 3, 2013

Summer Passport: for kids!

I don't post many "kid" posts... but I had this killer brainstorm on the last week of school! I wanted to share it for any others looking for ideas for the summer!

We are doing a "World Tour" in our house this summer! Crazy right! It sounds like a lot of work... and it might yet be. However, I think I figured out a way to keep it manageable and keep my child on track with her reading, math, world studies and even tie in some "try new foods!" which we struggle with!

Here is the plan. Her last day of school was last week. So we took an evening and created a "passport" for her. Complete with cover page, and inside "About Me" pages. Since my printer is broken at the moment I opted to simply write it all rather then spend time designing something in Photoshop - In Truth.. it might not be as pretty... but its a lot quicker. Once I had it "designed" I stapled it together and added it to our daily "to do". Now we are only in between K and 1 - but you can adapt this format to suit your child's lvl / needs. I thought it would make a fun summer keepsake for her as well!

DAY 1: When you open up the first page - I made a large square so she could draw an image of herself to the side I wrote out questions for her to answer:
Hair Color:
Eye Color:
Phone Number:

DAY 2:  About ME:
I like playing with:
My Favorite food is:
My Favorite game is:
My fav outdoor activity is:
I have _ pets
I want to be a "_" when I grow up.

Day 3 (week 1) I took the weekend to do this one as we made a treat and did some extra activities with it. But this page was all about where we live.
I live:
The state bird it:
My favorite thing to do in my city is:
My state is known for:
My fav state food is: (we live in Texas so we tried Pecans in different ways.. in pancakes, raw, roasted..) 
Food Rating:  (I made stars, she can color in 1-5 depending on how much she likes the food)
(this was important to me so I can be sure to give her more of the things she likes!)

For the activities we found some recipes and went shopping for them and made them, did some coloring pages and practiced writing the letter T, did math problems with pecans. Simple things really each thing is really designed just for the 5-10 min attention span of a 6 yr old!

We also spent some time looking at maps of different counties and picking out places she wanted to learn more about. Each place will get a week for the summer - with us covering 11 different places. I made a page for each place to put in her passport. I will give her a stamp at the end of week for completing each section.

I plan on tying this into her summer journal, that her teacher made for her asking her to draw and write something about her day. What she did, how she felt for that day. We also are participating in the Library's reading challenge - so we will tie in our library visits with things about the place we are visiting that week! So each week we will have...
1. Reading book (library day)
2. Craft about our destination
3. Math / Number work (using something about that country like we did with Pecans)
4. Recipe / Cooking / Food Challenge. (this could be trying something new or making a popular dinner/dish  from that country... fun for the whole family!)
5. Writing Project (journal, or printing work pages about a letter or the destination for her to practice her handwriting.. Pinterest is totally my friend... I have found a TON of pages there!)

That makes, one activity or project for each day... while we might do more one day or skip a day here and there - the goal is to do a little something each day. At the end of the week (or over the weekend) we can complete our Passport day, and share what we learned.

Here are the places were visiting... 

China, Indonesia, Hawii, Greenland, Alaska, Brazil, Sudan, Peru, Russia, Ireland, and Australia.
So each page - I wrote the name of the place to visit, and each week I will write out some questions about the places we visited... Like what food we tried, something about the culture, what the place is known for.. just like we did for where we live.

I hope this inspires you to spend extra time with your kids, and keep focused on some core skills over the summer! I thought it was a brilliant idea myself... especially because I can spend 30 mins or so a week prepping for the next weeks print outs, finding a craft or other projects and I don't have to put it all together now!

This week is China! Wish us luck on our adventure!