(ARA) After a summer filled with sunny beach days and sleepovers, getting kids motivated to head back to school and adjust to a new routine is often a challenge.
To make the transition a little easier for kids and parents, here are some tips and fun ideas to get creativity flowing and wake-up brains for learning.
Serve up originality
Inviting children to help in the kitchen is a great way to get them thinking and building life skills. From math and measurement to nutrition and following directions, the kitchen provides an opportunity for kids to practice the skills that not only contribute to a family meal, but they can also use in the classroom all year.
Take some time to spend in the kitchen and get those creative juices flowing by encouraging your kids to use their taste buds and imaginations to whip-up something original. Now through Oct. 22, parents can enter their kids in the Ninth Annual Jif (R) Most Creative Peanut Butter Sandwich Contest (TM), which invites parents to share their kids', ages 6 to 12, creative sandwich recipes. Last year's winner, Rachel G. of Clovis, Calif., combined chicken, grapes, honey and peanut butter in a lettuce wrap to create her "PB & Fruity says 'Let Us Rap."
Finalists go to New York to compete for a $25,000 scholarship fund.
Dish on summer fun
Gear up for the new school year by encouraging kids to make a collage of all the fun activities they did over the summer. Use photos, brochures and souvenirs to create a family photo book, tablecloth, place mat, or calendar to reminisce about summer memories all year. Asking kids to share their collage of favorite summer activities makes great family mealtime conversation.
Let's face it; if kids recognize it, they most likely will eat it. Ensure that kids are making smart choices by involving them in planning what goes go into their lunchbox. Let kids contribute to the menu for a week's worth of lunches and practice making decisions about what foods are best for them.
Plus, make dinnertime fun and get the whole family involved. The youngest can practice measuring flour, salt or sugar, while older children can act as sous chef. Preparing meals together gives you the opportunity to explain the importance of healthy food choices that will help kids at school and later in life.
Moms and those observing moms in action can have a chance to get creative, too. From now through Oct. 22, the Jif (R) Moms Voice Their Choice Contest (TM) is asking moms (or those inspired by one) to submit their stories, in 250 words or less, of how they, or a mom they know, make the best choices for their families. One grand prize winner will win a seat at the judging table in New York for the live Jif Most Creative Peanut Butter Sandwich Contest event in March 2011.
Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and D.C., 18 and older. Contests void where prohibited. See Official Rules for complete details. For Official Rules, entry form, and recipes or to learn more about the contests visit www.jif.com  or www.jifenespanol.com .
To spark your child's creativity, and tantalize your family's taste buds, try Rachel's prize-winning peanut butter wrap recipe.
PB & Fruity Says
Let Us Rap
1/2 cup chopped, cooked chicken breast
2 tablespoons Jif Extra Crunchy Peanut Butter
3 tablespoons chopped Fuji apple
2 tablespoons chopped black or red grapes
1 tablespoon light mayonnaise
2 teaspoons honey
Iceberg lettuce (separated into leaves)
Chop the chicken and fruit. Mix in a bowl. Mix in peanut butter, mayonnaise and honey. Spoon mixture into an open lettuce leaf. Roll and serve.
Courtesy of ARAcontent