Thursday, October 18, 2018

Easy DIY Costume—"The Rook" from Fortnite

How to make a Fortnite Halloween costume—"The Rook"

Fortnite. This video game is all the rage right now—at least among the middle school set! My 7th grader, Sophia, loves it and can be found playing whenever she can. I wasn't sure what to think of it at first, but after watching her play and realizing what a great social connector it is for her, I'm okay with it. As long as her homework and chores are done and her attitude stays good, she's fine to play for a little while each day. (I use the Circle with Disney to limit and track her time on the game.)

Easy DIY instructions for making a Halloween costume of "The Rook" Fortnite skin

Sophia wants to be a Fortnite skin for Halloween, but hasn't decided which one yet. However, Chloe had a costume day at the high school for Homecoming week and thought it would be funny to dress up as a Fortnite character even though she's never actually played the game.

The easiest one for us was "The Rook." 

DIY Costume—"The Rook" from Fortnite

We were able to find everything we needed either on Amazon, at Goodwill, or in our own closets. While it isn't an exact costume, everyone knew exactly who Chloe was, so we were glad we didn't worry too much about perfection here. This costume was extremely simple to put together! 

Easy DIY instructions for making a Halloween costume of "The Rook" Fortnite skin

Supplies needed:
(I've included Amazon affiliate links for everything, even if I purchased elsewhere or already had the item—click to view products)

Yellow glasses—purchased off Amazon.

Plastic name tag holder—we had a bunch of these from various events, but they are cheap on Amazon.

Black fingerless motorcycle gloves—we have so many gloves at our house! We just cut the fingertips off a cheap pair, but the motorcycle gloves would be closer to what the actual character wears.

White button down shirt—found in my closet. Bonus that it had 3/4 sleeves already, but long sleeves can easily be rolled up.

Red or burgundy tie—amazingly my husband had zero red ties, so we found one at Goodwill. Sadly, they didn't have any plain ones, but the small pattern on the one we used was totally fine.

Black tank top or black fishing vest—we used a tank top we found at Goodwill and altered (directions below). The fishing vest is closer to what the actual character wears.

Black belt with big buckle—found in my drawer

Gray skirt—purchased at Goodwill

Gray tights—found in Chloe's drawer

Black boots—found in Chloe's closet

Most of the costume we already had, which is part of what made it so easy for us to make quickly. The purchases we had to make came to about $20, but the gray skirt Chloe will wear again and again because she loves it so I feel like I shouldn't even count it as part of the total.

How to turn a tank top into the Rook's vest

Easy DIY instructions for making a Halloween costume of "The Rook" Fortnite skin

I was surprised how few black vests were at our Goodwill! And all of them were way too big for Chloe. Instead, we found a black tank top that had some fake leather detail on it and decided to go with that.

It had a high round neck, so all we did was cut it into a v-neck and tuck the tie under it. Easy peasy!

How to make the Rook's name tag

Easy DIY instructions for making a Halloween costume of "The Rook" Fortnite skin

Seriously guys, I spent no time on this at all. I found a photo of The Rook online, printed it out, cut it to fit and glued it to a piece of white card stock. I wrote "The Rook" on it and put yellow highlighter across the top. It's hard to see exactly what is going on in the real name tag, so this was my best approximation and took less than three minutes to make.

Optional additions to The Rook's costume

Easy DIY instructions for making a Halloween costume of "The Rook" Fortnite skin

We decided against doing the ammo belt or carrying a gun, mainly because of school rules, but also because I looked around a bit and couldn't find anything that really worked well. In the end, I really don't think either are necessary for the costume, but if you want to add them here are some links:

This costume turned out to be a huge hit—and the best part was that it is super easy to make! 

Easy DIY instructions for making a Halloween costume of "The Rook" Fortnite skin

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This post may contain affiliate links, for more information, please see my disclosure.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Best Way to Buy Used Cell Phones for Your Teens

Last week my 15-year-old daughter, Chloe, came home with a cracked screen on her phone.

"I don't even remember dropping it or anything," she lamented. Luckily, it still works fine, but she's just going to have to deal with the cracked screen for a while, because it's been only a few months since I bought her that phone—she's broken two others before it.

This post is sponsored by Trademore. I was paid for this post.

And since I have another daughter's iPod currently sitting in a bag of rice and a drawer full of phones that my three daughters have cracked or broken in some way, I am just tired of the whole phone thing. It used to be that you could get a super cheap, brand new phone with the signing of a two-year contract, but now most carriers don't offer that option. Instead, you have to buy the phone outright or put it on a payment plan.

I don't know about you, but there is no way I am handing my teenagers a brand new phone that costs me $800 or more. I don't even want to pay more than $100 for a phone for them since they are always seeming to ruin them somehow!

It's a conundrum for sure. I'd love it if I didn't ever have to buy them phones, but I need to be able to keep in touch with them. I just don't want to buy them the latest and greatest, and I want to spend as little as possible until they prove they can be responsible with a phone (which may not be until they are purchasing it themselves!).

I was really excited to learn about Trademore—a website where you can buy certified used cell phones that are in great condition without having to comb the internet yourself and not even be sure the seller is reputable. You can also get rid of all those cell phones you're not using anymore and get a little bit of money back in the process.

The Trademore website is incredibly user-friendly and easy to navigate.

If you want to purchase a phone, simply narrow your search by type of phone and your carrier. We use AT&T and prefer iPhones, so I just clicked those off and was then immediately given the phones that were available, along with the lowest prices.

Once you see which types of phones are available, you can click on the one you are most interested in and then narrow your search further. Once you have put in the parameters, it will tell you the pricing for the phone you have chosen. I was pretty excited to see you can get a fairly newer model phone for around $200 and older models for as low as $75, depending on condition and storage capacity.

There is a large variety of phones and the prices are the best I've seen. I've shopped around the internet quite a bit looking for used cell phones for my kids and I love how easy it was to find great prices on Trademore's website.

My kids always have the oldest model phone I can get, because I don't want to pay too much and I don't think they necessarily need all the bells and whistles. Besides, they are just happy to have a working phone and I am happy to give them one that is in my budget. Trademore helps us both to be happy!

Since all the devices on Trademore go through a 30-point functional and cosmetic inspection for quality, functionality, and reliability, I feel confident that what I am getting will work well. The orders also come quickly via 2-day shipping, so if your kid breaks their current phone you won't be without one for very long.

You can also sell old devices via Trademore, which is nice. I grabbed one of those cracked screen phones that's been hanging out in my drawer and found out I could get $15 for it. They will send me a box to pack it in and it's free to ship it back out. I know $15 isn't much, but it's certainly better than a broken phone taking up space in my drawer!

I'm really happy to have found this resource because I'm sure I have several more phone purchases for my kids in the future. With Trademore, I'll be able to easily buy a used cell phone and keep it within a budget I am comfortable with.

Maybe Chloe will get to replace her newly cracked cell phone soon, after all!

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My blog may contain links to other websites. I am not responsible for the privacy policies of those other websites. When you click on a link, your information may be collected by those websites so I encourage you to read their privacy policies.
These affiliate links are not associated with Trademore.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

How to Get the Most Out of Amazon Prime Day (2018)

Amazon Prime Day is here again!

I LOVE Prime Day! I think it's even better than Black Friday, so it's essentially Christmas in July except more amazing. There are always some pretty amazing deals to be had, but there are some tips and tricks you should know about before Prime Day actually begins—which is at 3:00 pm Eastern time on July 16, 2018.

NOTE: People are having issues getting to the Prime Day Homepage where you can access all of the lightning deals. I have found that you can get to it through the Black Friday page instead. Click here: PRIME DAY LIGHTNING DEALS

How to Get the Most Out of Amazon Prime Day

(affiliate links)

1. Sign up for Amazon Prime

This is the most important thing! Amazon Prime Day is only for Prime customers, so you can't get the deals if you aren't a Prime member.

Sign up for a 30-day free trial right now so you're ready to go when Prime Day hits.

If you are a student, you can sign up for a 6-month free trial.

2. Install Amazon Assistant

If you install Amazon Assistant on your desktop you will get $5 off your Prime Day order of $25 or more. Amazon Assistant helps you watch deals by giving you notifications throughout the day on the items you are interested in.

3. Download the Amazon App

If you prefer to watch the deals from your phone instead of a computer, download the Amazon App. You will not get the $5 off, but it is still an excellent way to make sure you are seeing every deal you are interested in.

Once you have downloaded the app, click on "Today's Deals & Upcoming" in order to view all deals 24 hours before they are live. If you like an item, simply click on "Watch This Deal" and the app will alert you when the sale price starts.

Note: Amazon does not say what the price will be on these deals. You'll have to wait for them to go live to find out if it's a good enough deal for you to actually buy it, but this is a great way to see if there are items you've been wanting to buy or would like to buy.

4. Add items to your wish list

If things on your wish list go on sale during Prime Day, Amazon will email you. You will want to keep a close eye on both Amazon and your email during Prime Day so you can be sure to get the great deals on the things you want most. Create your wish list here.

5. Use Alexa

If you do have an Amazon Echo or the Echo Dot, you can ask Alexa for special Prime Day earlybird deals and she'll give you the information. Also, both the Echo and the Echo Dot will be on sale for Prime Day for killer deals. If you've been wanting Alexa, get them now.

Alexa will still be able to help during the main part of the sale as well, so if you have her, use her!

Cool Deals for Prime Day

Here is a list of some cool things that are being offered just for Prime Day. Below that you will find a list of products that I have dug up and am excited about. I will keep it updated throughout the Prime Day event, so keep checking back!

  • Use the Camera Search in the Amazon App to look for deals and unlock $5 off every six hours. You could get up to $30 off if you do this throughout the Prime Day Event.
  • Get $10 to spend on Prime Day when you spend $10 in store at Whole Foods. Scan your Prime Code or use your mobile number at checkout in Whole Foods Market stores in the U.S. between 7/11/18 and 7/17/18 on a single purchase of $10 or more (can only be done once).
  • Reload your Amazon gift card balance with at least $100 and get a $10 reward. If you know you are going to spend at least $100, it's a great option to get a little bonus. You must be a Prime member to take advantage of this deal.
  • Save 40% on a year subscription to FreeTime Unlimited. This is great for kids and gives them access to thousands of kid-friendly tv shows, apps, games, books, and more. It gives you control over how long they are online, setting goals, and more.
  • Subscribe to Amazon Music Unlimited for only 99 cents for the first four months.
  • Get 3 months on Audible for only $4.95 a month. That will save you $30.
  • Purchase from a huge assortment of magazine subscriptions and get prices as low as $5.00 per year for the subscription.

My favorite Amazon Prime Day deals

Remember, I don't know what the prices will be yet, or when they will go on sale during the event, but these are some things I know will be on sale that I'm excited about. I will update this list throughout the entire event.

23 and Me DNA test (ancestry and health)—My husband and I did these and it is so fascinating! This is a SCREAMING deal. Normally $299 and on sale for only $99. This one you get both health and ancestry reporting.

Ancestry DNA test (ancestry only)—We haven't used this company but I know many people like it.

Water Pik

Circle with Disney—I love mine for limiting screentime.

All Under Armour products are on sale for Prime Day!

Ring video doorbell

HP Photo printer

Furbo Pet Camera and Treat Tosser—This is the lowest price I have ever seen this for. I look from time to time because I am super intrigued by it and think my dog would love it.

Blendtec—I love mine SO MUCH!

Cricut Cuttlebug die-cutting and embossing machine

6 quart Instant Pot—This thing has changed my life. If you don't have one hop on this deal NOW.

Instant Pot inner pot—It would sure be nice to have more than one inner pot!

Keurig—Im not a coffe drinker, but this is definitely a really good deal.

Amazon Cloud Cam security camera

Anker Wireless phone charger—I like the idea of wireless charging!

Under Armour backpack—Great for camping or school!

Proactiv skincare products

Anker bluetooth speaker—I love having good bluetooth speakers in the house, and this looks like a good one.

Bluetooth shower speaker—Okay, this almost seems ridiculous. But my teenagers would love it and then they'd stop bringing the nice bluetooth speaker into the bathroom where I worry it will get wet and stop working!

Spike Ball—This is a game I've had my eye on for some time and I just purchased it with the Prime Day deal.

Grill mat

Roomba vacuum—I so covet this thing! Or if you don't want to spend quite so much money on it (still pricey even with the Prime Day deal), you could try this robot vacuum instead, also on Prime Day deal.

Xbox controllers—If the Fortnite craze has hit your house, you might want one of these.

Xbox One—See above. :)

Magnetic Blocks building set—My kids love these and they are so great for their brains and creativity.

Disney Codenames game—Codenames is one of our new favorite games and this is a Disney version! Fun!

Bose Noise Cancelling Ear phones—Perfect for every mom, right?

Bluetooth body fat scale—This looks interesting. It has fairly high reviews so I would think that it would work well.

Folding outdoor utility wagon—I have been coveting one of these for a while now. So great for the beach or soccer games or anything where you have to carry a lot of stuff with you!

Instant Pot steamer basket—I love my Instant Pot, and this would be awesome to have to expand my repertoire of IP recipes.

Microfiber towel—I just went on a four-day hiking trip, and one of the people with me had one of these and I was jealous. It's great for camping, beach, or even the gym.

Wireless bluetooth headphones—I want these really bad.

Bug Zapper racket—I got one of these last year and it is the best thing ever. Just last night my daughter was killing a million mosquitoes in the backyard with it.

Ultrasonic jewelry cleaner—I would love to have this—my rings always need cleaning and I never go do it.

Anker wall charger—This has six USB ports which I LOVE. We are always losing the USB port part of the chargers at our house!

Over the door mesh shoe hanger—I love using these for organizing my house, and this is a high -quality one with the mesh.

Alexa enabled smart plugs—I am not sure how these work, but they look way cool! I need to figure out all of these smart devices for my home.

Anker portable charger—I have this one and I LOVE it.

Metal bands for FitBit Charge 2—I love mine. I like being able to still wear my FitBit without the ugly plastic band for special occasions.

Magnetic door screen—I also have this and I love love love it. It allows for the dog to go in and out all summer without letting bugs in. Also, if the kids don't close the door (because they never do), then it's okay.

Dog life jacket—We got one of these for my dog last year and it's been great. She's more willing to go in the water now and I don't worry about her as much on the beach.

Car garbage can—I like how this thing looks. If you have kids, you NEED something like this in your car!

Lip Balm Boutique—This looks like a super fun STEM activity for kids to make their own lip balm.

Celestron SkyMaster binoculars—These look like really good ones if you need binoculars.

Several different Vitamix blenders—If you've been wanting a nice blender, this might be the one for you!

Cordless Hand Vacuum—Super handy to have around when you don't want to drag out the big vacuum.

Self-cleaning slicker brush for pets—Apparently this does a great job of getting mats out and I like that it's self-cleaning.

Stroller organizer for smart moms—I wish I had this thing when I was using a stroller for my kids!

Delta touch kitchen faucet—This thing looks amazing. Plus you can hook it up to the Amazon Echo to use voice activation for it! If you love having a smart home with all the gadgets, you'll love this.

Fingerlings baby monkey—I don't have young kids anymore, but I know these are super popular and can be hard to find. I also found this Fingerlings unicorn that lights up.

Bully Sticks—I don't know about your dog, but mine loves these things and they can get spendy. 

Britax Travel System (carseat and stroller)—If you are expecting and are looking for a great deal on one of the best brands, here it is.

3-D Pen—I've tried these out before and they are super cool. If you've got artistic kids that would love these, make sure you get one!

Detachable bluetooth sound bar—This is something I've been wanting for a while. Can't wait to see what the deal is!

How to get the best deals for Amazon Prime Day this year!

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Monday, July 02, 2018

Back to School Trends for Tween Girls

Find the best back to school trends at Justice this summer with their cool backpacks for girls, fun graphic tees, and other girls clothing that your tween will love!

This post is sponsored by Babbleboxx on behalf of Justice

My youngest daughter, Sophia, just finished her first year of middle school. For all of my girls that first year of middle school has been an interesting time where they are suddenly a lot more interested in fashion and trends. And every single one of them has loved shopping at Justice during middle school because they are so tuned in to exactly what tween girls like. Plus they have something for every tween personality. I would say that over half of Sophia's wardrobe has come from Justice this year, and it would be more if we actually lived closer to a physical store!

Graphic tees are hot this summer and Justice has a huge variety of them—your tween daughter is sure to find a few that will fit her personality perfectly. I love them because they are affordable, Sophia loves them because they are a fun way for her to express her individuality while looking cute and trendy at the same time.

And since it's never too early to think about back-to-school needs, Justice always has super fun backpacks for girls. They sent Sophia a backpack with matching lunchbox, wristlet, and pencil case from the Pink Perfection collection.

The backpack, lunchbox, and wristlet all feature her initial (and can, of course, be purchased with any initial from A-Z). The backpack has padded straps to make carrying all those heavy middle school textbooks more comfortably, side pockets for a matching water bottle, front pockets for school supplies, and a trendy fuzzy pompom keychain just for fun!

One of the most fun things about this backpack style is the flip sequin style. These have been all the rage with the tween set lately.

Pretty fun, huh?

The lunchbox and wristlet also have the flip sequin designs.

I love how cute everything is at Justice, and Sophia and I have had so much fun finding the perfect things for the new school year since she was in about 4th grade and discovered how much she loves shopping there. I know that now she is going into 7th grade she will probably begin to age out of it soon, but for now she is still Justice's biggest fan.

The other accessories that they sent her are actually the two things she is most excited about. She loves the FEARLESS pencil case (I think few words describe Sophia more perfectly than "fearless") and she really likes the wristlet to use for money and gum and other things like that.

Connect with Justice:


Samples were received for promotional purpose. All opinions are that of Overstuffed. Please see Privacy Policy for full disclosure and more information. 

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This post may contain affiliate links, for more information, please see my disclosure.

See the linky parties I link up to here.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Printable Summer Reading Log for Kids

Use this free summer reading log to keep your kids reading during summer break.

This free printable summer reading log will help your kids keep track of the books they read this summer.

Summer reading is a big deal around here. It might actually be one of my favorite parts of being a mom during summer vacation. I LOVE seeing my kids read.

We have a summer kick-off party the day after school is out and I give them a bin of new books to read for the summer. They are always super excited to dive in to their new books and usually get started reading right away. We sign up for the summer reading program at the library to earn rewards and I like to come up with other fun incentives to keep them interested in reading all summer long.

Use this printable summer reading log to get kids excited about reading this summer break

See all my ideas for summer reading here: Summer Reading for Kids

Of course, vacations and beach days and friends are all part of their summers, too. But reading is always a big part of our summer break and it makes me super happy. And I think it makes my kids pretty happy, too.

It's always nice to have a way to keep track of what the kids have read. We've done this in several different ways (reading journals, "I read a book!" printable, etc.), but a simple reading log seems to work well for my kids now that they are a bit older.

This free printable summer reading log will help your kids keep track of the books they read this summer.

Just a super simple date, book title, and number of pages—because it's always fun to see how many pages you've actually read!

This free printable summer reading log will help your kids keep track of the books they read this summer.

Get your free printable reading log by entering your name and email address into the form below. It will be sent directly to your email inbox where you can easily download it and print it out. Enjoy!

PS The books written on the log are some of my girls' favorite summer reads from past years. Maybe your kids will enjoy them, too! (affiliate links)

Five books your kids will love reading this summer

Happy summer reading!

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This post may contain affiliate links, for more information, please see my disclosure.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

April 2018 General Conference Study Bookmarks

Apparently I only am able to do these bookmarks in the spring,'s spring! And we had a wonderful General Conference at the beginning of this month. I have really enjoyed having these bookmarks to help me study conference, so I'm excited for my Ensign to come so I can get started!

One of the biggest announcements from the April 2018 General Conference was that visiting and home teaching no longer exist and are being replaced with a program simply called "ministering." I'm very excited about this change, and I look forward to having a few resources here on my blog to help out.

Many of my readers have used the past versions of these bookmarks as something to give to the sisters they visit taught, and I think they will continue to be something great to pass on to the sisters you are assigned to minister.

Note: The photo above features last year's bookmarks! And the Ensign from 2 years ago! Don't worry—when you download the bookmarks from this post you will receive April 2018 bookmarks.

I like the bookmarks because they are a visual reminder of where I am in my studies, and I work better when I study things on paper.

How to make General Conference Study Bookmarks

1. Download the Printable

In order to download the printable file, just put your email into the form below and it will be sent directly to you.

2. Print it out

The bookmark is designed to be two-sided. Print it out onto one side of your white cardstock, then reload the paper and print it on the other side. Every printer is a bit different, so make sure you know how to load the paper so it prints in the correct orientation! It should match up perfectly, though I did have trouble with my new printer in getting it aligned just right. But even though it didn't quite match up, I was able to cut it out without issue.

Alternatively, you could glue two papers together to get your front and back.

3. Laminate (optional)

I really like laminating things, so I laminate my bookmarks. They are less likely to rip or get ruined by spilling food or drink on them if they are laminated. I also like to use a dry erase marker or sharpie to keep track of which talks I have studied already.

I have this laminator, which is quite inexpensive. I use these laminating sheets and a small paper cutter.

4. Add a ribbon (also optional)

To make it look extra bookmarky and pretty, I like to punch a hole at the top and add some ribbon. I left space on the printable so you can do that if you'd like.

I printed one for me and one for The Maestro. He's more of a listen to the talks kind of guy, but he might use the bookmark here and there. I'm also definitely going to take one to the ladies I minister to this month, too!

I hope you enjoy your General Conference study bookmarks.
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This post may contain affiliate links, for more information, please see my disclosure.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Snapchat for Parents

Should your kid be allowed to use Snapchat? Use this parents guide to Snapchat to make the best decision for your family.

Snapchat log in screen—ultimate guide to snapchat for parents

This guide to Snapchat will answer all your questions about how Snapchat works, how to use it, and most importantly—how your kids are using it.


Most parents have heard of it, usually because it is at the top of the list of apps you should never let your children have. But most parents also have no real idea how Snapchat works, nor do they understand why their kids love it so much.

When I learned just how much my kids use Snapchat, I decided to finally figure out how to use it and see what all the hoopla was about. And before you wonder why I let them have it in the first place, I'll tell you. I would rather have my children learn to use social media under my watch instead of banning it and having them either use it without my knowledge (my kids have friends whose parents do not allow the app, yet they somehow have it anyway) or get it when they leave my home and not know how to use it responsibly. I would much rather have them using it with my full knowledge, sharing their passwords with me (which I require), and discussing it with me regularly.

And that is why I have learned all I can about Snapchat in the past few months.

I've actually had Snapchat for several years now—when my eldest daughter was a freshman she told me I should get it so we could snapchat together (she is graduating from high school next month!). And I never could figure it out, so I didn't use it much. The interface was not intuitive for me at all!  I watched my daughters swipe and snap and type and filter with total ease and I was completely lost.

Until now.

Now, I am a Snapchat expert...kind of. I'm still not as fast as my kids, and my SnapScore is pathetically low, but I do finally understand the ins and outs and I am armed with the knowledge I need to help my kids navigate it safely. More importantly, I know how to see what my kids have been up to in Snapchat when I log in to their accounts (because I require passwords, remember?).

Oh—and that whole thing about it being one of the worst apps to let your kids have? I don't agree. Like any social media, Snapchat has its concerns and can be misused, but I think parents are mostly afraid of what they don't understand. I believe that if you really delve into Snapchat and see what your kids are actually doing in the app, you wouldn't worry quite so much.

The ultimate guide to snapchat for parents. Should your kids be using this app? Find out everything you need to know, and then some!

The Parent's Guide to How Snapchat Works


Snaps are disappearing photos or videos sent back and forth and are perhaps the most concerning part of Snapchat for parents. A snap can only be viewed twice before it disappears forever. To us parents, that is hard to swallow because....what are our kids sending back and forth to each other? And while kids definitely do things like sext, bully others, and send nudes over Snapchat, that is most likely not what they are doing.

My kids use this feature most to send silly selfies to each other. Almost to the point of annoying the heck out of me when some friends send a selfie a second, but mostly it's just one or two a day. The Snaps can be doctored with filters and emojis and text and pictures and all sorts of things, so it's really fun for the kids to be creative with their snaps, too.

Depending on the friend, they also do a lot of communicating via overlaid text on these snaps. While this can be a way of hiding conversations from parents—I find that I can usually ask what's up and get a straight answer from my kids because we've developed that sort of relationship. And they know that if they are too secretive about what is going on, they will lose the privilege of using Snapchat.

I love you mom Snapchat snap

But mostly it's all just fun, even if it sometimes feels like a waste of time to us parents. And who can be upset when your kid snaps you that they love you? Not me!

One of the reasons kids love this form of communication so much is because it disappears. This is not because they are sending things they shouldn't—it's because it makes it more like hanging out. Our kids have grown up in a world where every little thing they do is documented and they spend hours obsessing about having the perfect Instagram feeds (which has actually led to them having fake Instagram feeds they don't have to obsess about quite so much) and making sure that all those saved and well documented parts of their lives are perfect. Well, they don't have to be perfect on Snapchat. And they really like that they don't have that pressure.

To send a snap, go to the snap screen and take a photo by pressing the large circle. You can take a video by holding the circle down.


Chats are basically text messages, except—you guessed it—they disappear. However, Snapchat users have the option to save chats if they want to so they won't disappear. If either end of the conversation saves a chat, it is saved for both users. My youngest daughter pretty much automatically saves every single chat she sends and receives via Snapchat, which helps me to see what she's been up to.

Because I can generally see all the chats, a few serious discussions have taken place at our house about what is acceptable and what isn't acceptable to do and say over text messaging or social media. Mostly minor middle school drama sort of stuff, which still warrants big discussions anyway before it gets completely out of control.

Related: Social Media Rules for Tweens and Teens—Teach Your Kids to Be Smart Online

You can tell if a chat has been saved because it is highlighted in grey. To save or unsave, you simply touch the line of text and it will save/unsave it. You can also hold down your finger on the line of text and see who has seen it (in group chats), who has saved it, and what time it was sent. You can also see what time chats were sent by swiping right on the chat screen.

You can see this below:

How to use the chat feature on snapchat

You can see if the other person is looking at the chat screen because their bitmoji avatar will pop up. See how Sophia popped in when I was taking the second screenshot in the photos above? Probably because she got a notification that I took a screenshot (more on that later).

As far as I can tell, Snapchat is almost the ONLY way my middle school daughter and her friends communicate. That is one reason I hesitate to take it away from her—I want her to be communicating with her friends. Learning to communicate with peers is an important skill to learn, and right now texting and social media is the way they do it. If they never actually got together in real life I might worry more, but she is part of a pretty social group who are also always hanging out and doing things together, too, so I know they are also learning in person communication skills.

Snapchat stories

Stories which last 24 hours are beginning to be more popular on other Social Media apps like Facebook and Instagram now, so you are probably more familiar with them.

On Snapchat, kids can post photos and videos to their story and their friends can see the story for 24 hours before it will automatically disappear from the profile. It is interesting to see what kids choose to post—some are very prolific and always have lots of videos, selfies, and memes posted on their stories, while others only post important events or photos of their friends when they are hanging out together.

If you want to comment on or reply somehow to someone's story, you can slide up and type something and it will be sent to them via a chat with their story attached.

The middle school set especially uses stories as a way to spread viral memes which can sometimes be concerning for parents. Things like "Send me an emoji for a TBH (to be honest)" or "Post this on your story if you think I'm ugly" can set people up to bully others and bring quite a bit of drama. Sometimes they are just fun things, but it's something that you'll want to keep an eye on as it's a good time to discuss why some of these memes are not wise to share.

Sara.hah is another app that sometimes kids attach to their stories for people to tell anonymous secrets. I do not allow my kids to use that particular app because it is too anonymous and I have seen some things on Sarahah via Snapchat that are concerning. There is already plenty to do on Snapchat without adding yet another layer.

With the latest SnapChat update, you can see stories directly on the messaging tab. When someone posts a new story, their Bitmoji avatar will show a thumbnail of the story instead. You can see below how my daughter Sophia has posted a new story, while everyone else on my list shows the avatar. Once you have watched the story it will go back to the avatar on that main page, but you can still see the story thumbnail on the person's profile and on the SnapMap if you click on them there. Stories can be watched multiple times in the 24 hour period they stay up.

How to view snapchat stories

You can swipe up on your own stories to see who has viewed them, and whether or not they have been screen shotted by anyone.


If you are looking at Snapchat, you can pinch the screen and the SnapMap will pop up. Any of your friends who are sharing their location with you will show up on the map. This means your kids can see where their friends were the last time they opened Snapchat.

You can touch anyone on the map and see exactly when they were last on the app, too. If they have a story currently up it will also show that on the SnapMap. Below you can see me and my three daughters hanging out at home on the SnapMap. You can tell that I have a current story posted and Bria does not. If you were to scroll down through the names further, you would be able to see if Chloe or Sophia had a story or not, and when they last viewed SnapChat.

How the snapmap works on snapchat

There are a couple of concerns with the SnapMap. First is obviously that people can see your child's location. This is easily fixed by going to settings menu on the upper right hand side of the SnapMap and choosing exactly which people can see your location. You can choose not to share your location at all, you can share it with all your friends, or you can select only certain friends to see your location. You can also choose to stop sharing your location temporarily by going into Ghost Mode.

Below you can see what this all looks like.

Who can see me on the Snapchat SnapMap?

The second concern that comes up with the SnapMap is that you can also see when several of your friends are together somewhere—and you weren't invited. This has come up a few times with my youngest daughter who has a very large group of friends and she often sees a few of them get together without her and it sometimes results in hurt feelings. But she's also been on the other side of the coin and been at a gathering of friends where others aren't invited. It is a good opportunity to discuss with your kids how they won't always be included in everything and why it's important for them to be as inclusive as possible when they are planning their own get togethers.

The SnapMap can be a good thing for parents, because you can see where your kid is. Since it only shows the last location they opened Snapchat, though, it's probably better to make sure your kids' phones are also sharing their location with you in other ways.

Snapchat Friends

As with any social media, you must add friends on Snapchat in order to begin snapping and chatting with them. To do this, you click on the "add friends" icon in your profile. Snapchat will find friend options for you via the contact information on your phone to begin with. Once you have added a few friends, it may also start suggesting people based on friends in common.

You can also add people if you know their Snapchat user name, or by using their Snap Code, which is the yellow square with their Bitmoji in it. I have never actually seen my kids add anyone that way, so I'm not quite sure how that works!

Once you've been on Snapchat for a while, Snapchat will assign you some "best friends." Right now, I only have two best friends, and sometimes I have three—and I gave birth to all of them. Chloe isn't my best friend right now because she barely remembers she has a phone, much less Snapchat (I guess I am thankful for that, although she can be hard for me to get a hold of!). My other two kids send snaps to me regularly enough that they stay my best friends.

Sophia has 8 best friends on Snapchat. I like being able to see who she is talking to the most. Her top 4 best friends change positions here and there, but are mostly pretty stable (and I am one of them!), and her bottom 4 best friends are often changing and falling off the list and being replaced by another friend just because she sent them more snaps that day.

You can have up to 8 best friends on Snapchat. Like I mentioned, Sophia has 8, but Bria and Chloe each have 6, and I've got my 2 or 3. I'm guessing it has to do with how much you use the app and how many friends you have added in total.

Nobody else can see who your best friends are, but sometimes you can get an idea of who someone's best friends are via the Snapchat Emojis (see below).

You can see any friend's profile by clicking on their bitmoji on the main page. This will bring up their name, user name, snap score, any friend emojis, and where they are on the SnapMap. If you want to change any settings regarding that friend, you need to go to the chat screen of that particular friend and click on the hamburger menu on the top left. This will bring up the same things as their profile, plus options to share their username with someone, edit their name (my girls have crazy nicknames for many of their friends), put them on do not disturb, block them, or remove them as a friend.

Snapchat Emojis

Snapchat puts emojis next to some of your friends based on how you interact with them on the app.

What do the Snapchat Emojis mean?

πŸ’› Gold Heart—You are each other's top best friend. This means you send the most snaps to them, and they send the most snaps to you.

❤️ Red Heart—You have been each other's top best friend for 2 weeks or more.

πŸ’• Pink Hearts—You have been each other's top best friend for 2 months or more.

😊 Smiley Face—They are one of your best friends.

😏 Smirky Face—You are one of their best friends, but they are not one of your best friends.

😬 Grimace Face—You share the same top best friend.

😎 Cool Face—You share at least one best friend.

πŸ”₯ Fire—You have a SnapStreak. The number of days your streak has lasted will also appear next to the fire.

⌛️Hourglass—Your streak is about to die. If you see this, send a snap (not a chat) in order to keep it alive.

πŸŽ‚ Birthday Cake—A birthday cake emoji appears next to a friend on their birthday (provided they put the right birth date in when they signed up—it might show up NOT on their birthday!)

You are able to customize the emojis, too. Just go to settings > additional services > manage > friend emojis. From there, you can see each emoji and what it means, just click on the arrow next to the emoji you'd like to change and it will let you choose a new emoji. If your child has customized their emojis, you can see what they mean on that page as well.

I changed my best friends to be a star and Sophia has hers set to be a turtle.

As a parent, these little emojis can tell me a lot when I look at my kids' accounts.

For instance, Sophia has had gold hearts with three different friends, and they turned into red hearts a few times with two of them. But they never have lasted quite long enough to earn pink hearts, so she will usually end up with the gold heart again with someone after losing it for a while. Currently, she does not have a heart with anyone, because the friend she snaps the most doesn't snap her the most. I've never seen a heart on my other girls' accounts, but they say they've had them occasionally.

Sophia's current top best friend is a new-ish user to Snapchat. She is definitely one of her in real life besties, so it's no surprise that she catapulted up to top best on Sophia's list. However, Sophia's account now has about 12 friends with the grimace face emoji—meaning this girl is EVERYONE'S top best friend! No big deal, but interesting to note from a parental perspective.


You saw on the friend emojis list that there is one for a SnapStreak. When you and a friend have sent each other snaps (not chats) at least once every 24 hours for at least 3 days, you will have established a streak. You can see below that I have a 7-day streak with Sophia (you can also see that Sophia and Bria are my best friends, and that Bria and I actually share a best friend—which is probably Sophia).

How to get a streak on snapchat

Among the middle school set, streaks seem to be a really big deal. Sophia and her friends send good night streaks every night to each other—a snap that usually says streaks right on it sent to everyone simultaneously. Snapchat is aware of this trend and even has lots of gifs and stickers to decorate your streak snaps with. Sophia just lost a streak that was 150 days old and was maybe a little too upset about it. I think now her longest streak is 77 days or something—like I said, in her friend group, streaks are a huge thing.

My older girls just get streaks by snapping more organically, and they usually don't have very many. Either it's not as cool in high school or my particular high school girls just don't care much. Bria jokes that the only emoji she ever sees in her account is the timer, and that's just fine with me!

Snap Score

Every Snapchat user has a Snap Score, which is just a way of seeing how much they use the app. Some people say it builds up credibility, but as a parent I think it just helps me see how much time my kid and their friends might be wasting! Actually, I really don't mind Snapchat when communication is happening, but I admit to being a little annoyed when the mindless exchanging of selfies back and forth is going on.

The Snap Score denotes how many snaps you have sent and how many snaps you have received. Chats do not figure into the score. On your own profile, you can click the number and see the number you have sent on the left and the number you have received on the right. Mine are about even, though I have received more than I've sent. Also, my score is "pathetically" low—just above 1,000.

You cannot see that breakdown on others' profiles, but you can probably assume the numbers are fairly even.

Bitmoji and Friendmoji

Bitmoji and Friendmoji are one of my personal favorite things about Snapchat. I've already been using Bitmoji for a few years and find it super fun. Snapchat teamed up with them and, as you've seen above, the Bitmoji are used a number of ways on Snapchat.

Your Bitmoji is your avatar, which can pop up when you are in conversations and will show up on the SnapMap. Sometimes on the SnapMap you'll see Bitmoji doing fun things. I recently saw mine doing yoga (maybe it was trying to tell me something?) and once I saw Sophia's doing a cartwheel. They are usually seen sleeping in the middle of the night, flying in airplanes if you were at the airport, or carrying shopping bags if you're at the mall. Sophia has some friends who live right on the water, and sometimes they are shown in boats near their house.

But the most fun part of Bitmoji is all the cute sayings you can send back and forth in chat. And Snapchat has Friendmoji, so you can feature both you and the friend you are talking to in whatever you send, and I see my kids having a great time with that. And I have a great time with that, too!

using bitmoji and friendmoji on snapchat

To use Bitmoji (and other regular emojis) in chat, just type what you want to say and then click on the smiley face on the upper right of your keyboard. Any Bitmoji or other emoji and stickers will show up for you to use. Just click on the one you like and it will pop into your chat!

You can use them in snaps by clicking on the sticker icon along the right hand side (looks like a paper with the corner folded up). Your most used stickers and emoji will pop up, but you can choose only Bitmoji by clicking on the face with the open mouth on the bottom of the screen. From there you can narrow it down further by searching or by clicking an icon on the bottom (hi, lovey-dovey, happy, mad, celebrations). Sometimes there are also animated Bitmoji lenses you can use in snaps, too.

Group Chats

Group chats are just like normal chats except they include more than two people. Conversations can be saved in the same way and chats and snaps can be sent to everyone in the group. The bitmoji avatars will pop in so you can see who is there reading along while you are on.

These groups are used for organizing activities or just chatting. Each of my kids have several on their menus. Some of them are pretty dormant, and some are quite active—snaps and chats are flying during the evening when everyone is on.

I have found that the most drama happens in these group chats. I have actually required that my daughter leave some of the groups she has been a part of because of bullying, foul language, or other things. Because we have set a precedent for talking about the things that happen on social media, she is generally pretty good about telling me when things are getting out of hand, for this I am thankful.

You can leave a group chat by clicking on the hamburger menu in the top left of the chat screen. You will see several options there, and one is to leave the group.

Snapchat Lenses and Filters

I think the one thing everyone knows about Snapchat is the lenses. We've all seen the rainbow puking unicorns and the puppy dog faces. They are all super fun, and it amazes me that there are new ones almost every day! They almost always have new fun ones for holidays, and sometimes even for movie premiers or new products that are coming out.

snapchat lenses and filters

A Snapchat lens puts something onto your face and/or alters your voice. They have to be put on before you take the photo or video, and kids love to play with them. Sometimes they do fun things if you raise your eyebrows or open your mouth, sometimes they make you dance, sometimes you can use them with a friend, sometimes you can swap faces. Lots of fun things.

To access lenses, go to the snap screen and hold your finger down for a few seconds. All of the lenses will then pop up and you can swipe through them and see what they do!

Filters are used after you take a photo or video. Once you have taken it, just swipe through the screen and various filters will pop up. Some say the time and temperature, some say your location, some alter the speed of your video, some change the lighting effect. Many businesses and towns offer their own custom filters that will show up when you are using Snapchat from their location. Just swipe through and see what's there!

Snapchat Memories

When you are on the snap screen, you will see an icon that looks like two photos underneath the photo button (the big circle in the middle). This is how you access memories.

Even though snaps disappear, you can save your own snaps before you send them. You cannot, however, save snaps you receive from others. Still, accessing the Snapchat Memories can help you get some idea of what your kids have been up to and what they've been sending back and forth.

You can also save stories to memories. When you take a snap or post a story, there is a download icon available at the bottom left of the screen. It will save this to memories as well as the camera roll on your phone.

Screen Shots

You can always screen shot anything on Snapchat. This is a good thing. Because the ability is there, kids are less likely to send something that they shouldn't. If someone does take a screenshot, though, Snapchat will notify the other party. This perhaps deters people from taking screenshots because they don't want others to know that they did.

So, if you sent me a picture and I take a screenshot of it, you will get a notification that tells you I just took a screenshot of your snap. It will also notify you if someone took a screenshot of the chat screen. My daughter Bria takes a screenshot of any snap I send her if it features our dog, so I get a lot of these notifications from her!

It does not send a notification if someone takes a screenshot of your story, but if you swipe up on your story, you can see if any screenshots were taken and who took them.

Video and Audio Calling

When you are in the chat screen, you will see a telephone icon and a video camera icon. By pushing these once, you can actually call or video call the other person. The fun thing about video calls on Snapchat is that the lenses are available to use, so you can look like a puppy dog or have a mustache or something while talking to your friends.

If you press and hold either of those buttons, it will create an audio recording or a video that you can send to your friend via chat.

Discover and Subscriptions

This is my least favorite part of Snapchat as a parent. In the Discover section, you will see articles and news stories from several different sources. You can subscribe to some of these sources, which include celebrity Snapchat feeds, but many of them are just there. And they don't always show the most appropriate material for kids, teens, or anyone really.

You can unsubscribe from or choose "see less like this" when you see something you don't like in Discover. Just hold your finger down on the article you don't like and choose the option.

It used to be that in order to look at your friends' stories, you would also have to wade through the gunk of the Discover section. This is why I love the 2018 Snapchat update as a parent. Now that you can see your friends' stories on the chat page, my kids hardly ever venture over to Discover. Sure, they still do, and I have gone through it and unsubscribed from many of the sources I don't want them to see, but there is still the possibility that they will come across something inappropriate.

Just looking at my feed right now, I see Kortney Kardashian in a skimpy bikini and an article about condoms. But I also see some educational articles from National Geographic and a Tasty video about how to make a rainbow cake. Help your kids by looking at the Discover section with them and subscribing to sources you are okay with them looking at, and unsubscribing/seeing less like this-ing to those you aren't. It's a good time to have a discussion about how the media affects us while you're at it.

And....that's it. I think.

I'm sure there are things I'm missing. Snapchat is quite the beast for parents! But I promise if you sit down with it for a little while and try everything out, you'll get the hang of it. And you'll know how to talk with your kids about it better, too.

Try having a Snapchat discussion soon—I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with what your kids tell you about it! I actually have a lot of fun sending snaps back and forth with my girls. It's been a great way for us to connect on their level.

For your information:
Snapchat terms of use

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