Category Archives: Kids

{MORE} Frugal Summer Fun

{MORE} Frugal Summer Fun

We’ve been trying to come up with fun ideas to keep our kids happy, busy and outside this summer.  Time is going TOO fast, as it always does in the summer…

Here is our latest activity!  Pretend fishing!  Yep…my boys love fishing, but daddy’s not home much during the week and this (pregnant) mama is NOT taking these little people fishing alone…my boys found a way to make it happen anyway.

We took their little poles, took the hooks off, and attached a little washer to the string.

We have a little sunken area in our backyard  that the boys fill with a little water…this is their “pool” this year since setting up their real pool is too scary with a overly cuious one year old.

They use a slide from a little playset as their “dock”…and fish for hours.  As a warning, we usually end up with some serious tangles the lines, but we leave those for daddy to fix!

Other posts you might like:

Fugal Summer Fun (ONE)

Being Prepared Emergency Car Kits for Kids

Thoughts on Anger and Dicsipline

DIY Magnet Letters

DIY Magnet Letters

It seems like the more senses involved in learning the more the knowledge “sticks.”  So with my kids I try to incorporate different senses as they’re learning their letters, numbers, and use teachable moments.  Well, here’s an easy way to make fun colorful magnet letters.  It’s so easy I can’t rightly call it a craft!  But by moving colorful letters on the fridge it helps reinforce the alphabet and reading skills for little guys and gals!  Get their whole body moving, have letter/word races, and just have some good one-on-one fun with letters!  (Word of Caution:  choking hazard.  Might not want to do this with kiddos under 3.)

I bought these handy-dandy magnet strips for $1 at Walmart and the bag of foam letter stickers for under $5. 

 

All I did was cut the magnet strip in half again (length wise) and then in smaller pieces (about 6-7 pieces for each half strip.) 

Remove the paper backing from the foam letter and magnet pieces.  Stick 2 magnet pieces to the back (sticky side of the letter) and repeat for each letter! 

Seriously, wasn’t that easy?  With the letters being stickers too they’re a little sticky, but not too bad.  And I only used a small portion of the bag so there are lots more letter stickers for other fun projects!  These letters stick to the fridge really well.  Not so much my cookie sheet, but maybe if I can find one made out of something other than aluminum! 

I’ve also seen whole magnet sheets if you want to make a magnetic version of paper dolls or paper cars/trains, animals, whatever your kids are into!  So many possibilities!  Hope this spurs on some ideas for you and your kids, and that you all get excited about learning!

Other posts you may like:

 

 

Thursday’s Thoughts: The Struggle

Thursday’s Thoughts: The Struggle

As a mom do you ever want to shield your children from struggling with something?  I do.    I hate to see them in the midst of that frustration and conflict: whether it’s letting my youngest son struggle to dress himself or my oldest son struggling with addition.  I just want to do it  for them or make it easy.  And yet, when I stop and think about it I’m really short-changing them by “rescuing” them from that struggle. 

I set consequences but then want to soften the blow, so to speak, when my daughter disobeys despite the warning.  If I don’t keep my word and don’t let her struggle with those negative consequences,  what lesson am I really teaching her?  That I can’t be trusted to keep my word.  That she’s not really accountable for her actions. 

If I swoop in everytime I see my little ones struggling, they never learn how to work through the hard stuff to accomplish the goal.  I unwittingly send them a message that they can’t handle it.  They don’t learn that new skill, or take that lesson to heart.  I took the victory away from them.

I don’t want to do that. 

And I wonder if God does the same for us. 

 We want to know why He doesn’t swoop in and clear the obstacles, take the struggles away.  But maybe, just maybe there’s something to learn in the midst of this struggle.  Maybe, just maybe this present struggle is the exact tool needed to shape me in a special way to be more like Him.  Maybe, just maybe their will be a sweeter fellowship to grow in the midst of this struggle.  Maybe, just maybe something I learn in the this struggle will be an encouragement to someone else later in their struggle.  Maybe, just maybe, a deeper dependence on Him will result from this struggle.  Maybe the present struggle is necessary for victory.

He says He will never leave us, nor forsake us.  He doesn’t say life will be easy.  He never promised that we wouldn’t struggle.  He didn’t say He would rescue us from every hardship.  He just promised us His guidance, wisdom, and presence during our trial.  His grace is sufficient.  He is more than enough.

I want my children to know the same:  I’ll always be here for them, but that doesn’t mean I’ll rescue them from every hardship that comes their way.  And as I watch them struggle and persevere, I’ll thank God for the struggles He allowed in my life that brought me to Him and brought me such precious gifts that would come no other way but through a struggle.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”   James 1:3-4

Learning to put on shoes is a struggle!

 
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DIY BuBbLeS

DIY BuBbLeS

Bubbles…kids love them!

My kids got some bubble blowing toys for Easter…and they were very eager to play with them yesterday afternoon!  SO…instead of running to Target, I made my own!

Here are two different recipies…I used the first, because I had those ingredients on hand, and it worked great.  However, I think that the other recipie might make for bigger bubbles!

  1. 1/2 cup of dishwashing liquid (Dawn or Joy) 2 cups of water 2 teaspoons of sugar
  2. 2/3 cup Joy dishwashing soap 1 gallon water 2 to 3 tablespoons of glycerin or corn syrup

Happy bubble blowing!


Tuesday Tutorial…Easy Snacking Idea!

Tuesday Tutorial…Easy Snacking Idea!

So…if your kids are anything like mine, they are ALWAYS asking for snacks.  We generally have two snack times a day and I try to have things prepared!

My favorite snacks are little trail mix bags I make ahead of time.

Easy to make!

Take out anything open in your pantry that your kids love…(it’s a great way to use up the last of the box)

  • cereals
  • nuts
  • popcorn
  • dried fruit
  • pretzels

{I usually add one or two “fun” items}

  • chocolate chips
  • marshmallows

 

I add all desired ingredients to a bowl…since we have bigger kids and a littler kiddo…I make two batches!

Big kids mix 

Little kid mix 

I scoop a generous handful into plastic bags and put them in a container.  Easy to grab and hand out to hungry little ones!

My kids put their baggies back on the counter when they are done, and they are easy to re-use!


Alphabet Fun! Help Kids Learn Letters!

Alphabet Fun! Help Kids Learn Letters!

We hear it all the time:  kids are like sponges.  They seem to absorb knowledge from their surroundings.  I think that young children learn best from playing too.  So here’s some fun ways you can help your little ones learn the letters of the alphabet.  My youngest isn’t even 2 years old yet and he knows a couple…that’s how easy it can be!  Surround kids with letters and let them soak them up! 

Learning Time!

  • Bathtub Letters:  For less than $10 you can buy a set of foam bathtub letters.  While kids are washing up let them play and make alphabet soup!  They get clean and learn at the same time! (This is how my oldest really learned his letters!)
  • Bathtub crayons or foam soap:  write your child’s name with bathtub crayons/soap.  These are usually the easiest/first letters they’ll recognize.
  • Play patty-cake:  use the first letter of your child’s name for the last line:  “And make it with a __ for {child’s name} and me!”  So simple, yet still exposing them to letters!
  • Salt trays:  Take a cookie sheet and sprinkle salt on it.  Help your little one use their finger to write a letter or even their whole name.  Even if they’re really young this can be a great tactile activity.
  • Shaving cream:  If you don’t want a big mess put a little shaving cream in a large plastic baggie (with a touch of paint if you want color) and seal it closed.  Let your child mix it up and then lay it on the table  and they can write letters and designs on the bag.
  • Finger paint:  There are so many ideas for finger paints to practice letters–shaving cream, pudding, honey, or you can make your own finger paints with water, cornstarch, and food coloring!  Use a cookie sheet again or right on the table if you don’t mind a little mess! Paper plates are another easy clean up alternative to use with finger paints.
  • Dough:  with playdough or cookie dough roll out a couple long sections and make a letter or two.  You can even make different edible doughs using things like peanut butter and powdered milk if you’re worried about really little kiddos eating it! Or make cut out cookies with letter-shaped cookie cutters! Yumm!
  • Letter Look-out: while driving in the car or out on a walk go on a letter look out where you hunt down the alphabet using the letters in signs and license plates around you. 
  • Refrigerator Magnets:  you know those little magnet letters for the fridge…well break out the trusty cookie sheet again, {who knew they had so many uses!} and your kids have their own magnet board and lots of fun with letters!  If you’re really creative you could even make your own letter magnets with sticker magnet sheets and printed off letters. Just stick the paper letters to the magnet sheet, cut them out and viola! {hmmm….maybe future post here!}  😉
  • Sing:  there’s more than just the ABC song we all learned.  You can sing the Banana-Nana Fo-fana song and expose your kids to letter sounds changing the common words/names they know.  Songs like Bingo  help reinforce letters too!  {And kids don’t know if you’re tone-deaf or not, so belt it out and have fun!}
  • DVD’s:  One of our favorite DVD’s that helped all my kids learn their letters and sounds is the Leap Frog Letter Factory.  Just half and hour but they go through all 26 letters and sounds and has a catchy tune to help learn.
  • Games: If your kids are into computer games try starfall.com, pbskids.org, or sesamestreet.org for lots of fun educational games.  Starfall is a free website and even used by some kindergartens as part of their curriculum.  Look for board games too that help reinforce reading skills.
  • Puzzles:  use alphabet puzzles for your preschooler or word-finds for your elementary school aged kids.
  • Doodle:  let your child doodle with washable markers and crayons and show them how to write their name. Beware: you may have to repeat this a lot!  My youngest is in the do-it-again phase and want’s me to fill his paper with T’s, the first letter in his name. But let me tell ya, he recognizes the letter “T” where ever he sees it now!
  • And no brainer but still must be listed: READ!  Whether you read at bedtime, naptime, during snack, first thing in the morning…at some time during your busy day take a little time to read to your child/children.  There’s usually free library story times in public libraries too.  Let your kids see youreading.  Order a kids magazine or something you can read together.  The time together is precious and helping them develop reading skills as well as a stronger bond with you.

    Cuddle up with a good book!

 

There’s something in this list for babies on up to school-aged children.  Try a variety of ideas to help them learn with all their senses.  The more exposure, the better they learn!  But don’t push… make sure that this is play, that it’s FUN and your little sponges will soak it all in! 

 

Thursday’s {Light} Thoughts

Thursday’s {Light} Thoughts

We’re gonna keep it light today for my Thursday’s Thoughts today.   Hope ya don’t mind!  😉

Kids can say some of the funniest things.  And some of those funny pronunciations and sayings become so common in our house that we forget the right way to say it!  Here’s some of our family’s funny vocabulary:

Callipater:  n. worm-like bug that turns into a butterfly.  Also known as caterpillar.

Plater:  n.  the person assigned to set the plates on the table at meal time.

Ear Wac: (pronounced “whack”)  n. singular form of ear wax as in, “Mom!  I got another wac out of my ear with the Q-tip!” {Gross, I know!}

“Being a stinker”:    phrase to describe an object {or person}  that is not working properly or causing a child frustration.  For example:    “Mom!  My zipper’s being a stinker!  Can you help me?” {Not to be confused with “being a seeker” which is the person assigned to find the other players in a game of hide-and-seek.}

Bam-baib:  n.  bandage.  Also known as band-aid.

Putted:  v.  past-tense form of the verb ‘put.’  For example:  “Mom, I putted my toys away!”

Purplish-pinkish-orangeish:  adj.  describes an object containing the colors purple, pink, and orange. Add “ish” to any color and it becomes a proper description.

Chloclate:  n. delicious sweet candy made from cocoa beans.  Also known as chocolate.  (I don’t even know how the child made the word harder to pronounce, but she did.  I can hardly say it with one “L” yet alone two!)

Na-Nigh:  n.  beloved blanket that is required to be in child’s possession if sleep is to occur.

“All of it”:  n. the last miniscule amount of treat or drink consumed.  One child can drink 98/100ths of a shared drink but if a different child drinks the last two drops the latter is proclaimed to have “drank all of it!”  which we all can see is so completely unfair.  😉

Glittery Bacon:  compliment.  This was my son’s idea of a complimentary nick name for me.  Which makes sense:  girls like things that sparkle and who doesn’t like bacon?!?!   Can ya feel the love?

This is by no means a complete list…just the ones I can think of for now.  😀

What funny sayings do you have around your house?

 
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Kids and Chores

Kids and Chores

Chores…so many, so little time.  Over the past year or so I have tried out numerous “chore systems.”  I have found failure in most, not because my kids won’t do the work, but because they seem to be more work for me to keep track of then they are worth!

So…as the new year started, I tried yet another plan…and this one is working.  Because it’s SIMPLE:)

For our family, it’s working like this…kids are expected to do the basic chores (bed making, picking up their room, cleaning up toys, helping with siblings) for no money or compensation.  We’re a team, and we all need to work to make things happen.

HOWEVER…I made a simple list of extra jobs they can do if they want to earn money.  If they complete a job to my satisfaction, and to the best they are able, they earn a nickel. I know, my kids are little, and I can still get away with it!  They keep track of how much they do each day and we pay them at bedtime.  Some days they work hard and some days they don’t.  It has also bred some healthy competition between my boys!

My kids are little, so the chores are simple, but still very helpful to me!

They love watching their money jars fill up and are learning to save, give and spend!

I am always curious what works for other families?  Do tell!

Curriculum Deal…Last Day so Don’t Miss Out!

Curriculum Deal…Last Day so Don’t Miss Out!

Both Courtney and I use My Father’s World curriculum.  You’ll see the banner on our side bar.  We don’t receive any kind of commission from the company.  We just really love their products and believe in their vision and thus, we want to share it with you!  Lucky you!  😉

I’ve only just begun the homeschooling journey…one full year under my belt!  And being new at it all I’ve looked at quite a few options trying to decide what will work best for us.  I always come back to My Father’s World.  I order catalogs and hear what others use, research, and I come back to…yup, you guessed it: My Father’s World.  For now, it’s the best fit in our home. 

What do I like about My Father’s World?  Oh, I’m so glad you asked!  Let me share!

  • It’s a Bible-based curriculum…’nuf said. :) 
  • It’s user-friendly!  It’s all planned out for me and easy to follow, but with a LOT of room for flexibility!  And you know how I like my flexibility!
  • Much of MFW uses a hands-on approach to learning.  Great for my active little guys and gals!
  • It’s family friendly!  For now, I can do the Bible time lessons and activities with all four of my little ones (ages 7, 5, 3, 21mo)! In grades 2-8 we can do the same core lessons all together and break off into age appropriate subjects afterward. That saves me time, energy, and sanity!
  • It uses a Charlotte Mason approach to education which has structure, but it doesn’t dumb it down for kids. It promotes the idea that children should also have some structure-free time to learn and explore God’s creation on their own.  Charlotte Mason was also concerned with the character development in children too, and that is very noticeable in the lessons. 
  • My Father’s World has a strong reading/literature focus and includes a lot of books which you can buy at a cheaper price through MFW or you can check out from your local library using their reading lists.
  • MFW is well-rounded including lessons in art, drawing, and music.
  • It is reasonable priced and very customer-friendly.  For instance: MFW came out with a 2nd edition of their kindergarten teachers manual for next year, but I could trade in my 1st edition manual and buy the newer version at half-price.  They were very helpful, professional, and friendly as I’ve dealt with them via phone and email.  They offer different packages and individual items so it’s easy to customize it to fit your budget.
  • They have a high standards and a global perspective.  The Hazell’s, who founded and developed the curriculum, are Bible translators, educators, and homeschooling parents themselves with impressive credentials AND big hearts. 

 

Even if you don’t homeschool, they have a lot of educational toys and kits that may be a fun way to be involved with your children’s learning at home.  Any grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends out there that have special kids in your lives?  Check out the website for gift ideas, things like ant farms or magnet sets as well as beloved classics to read.  My Father’s World also has a variety of toddler and preschool toys that are nice to keep little ones busy with a purpose!   

So browse their website (use the link on the right side bar) and see what they’re all about.  If you see anything you like, take advantage of their low $4.95 flat-rate shipping price and their 2011 prices.  THIS IS THE LAST DAY!

 

Teachable Moments

Teachable Moments

Any of my dear friends that I worked with at camp will recognize this phrase: teachable moments.  Teachable moments are those instant {many times unexpected} opportunities to share truth.  Maybe they come up during a particular struggle with a bunk mate to teach about forgiveness.  Maybe it’s a chance to understand a little better just how big God’s love is as you look out at the vastness of a clear summer sky.  

It takes a little bit of thought, but when you find yourself in a teachable moment with your kids (or someone else’s kids) it can speak volumes with few words! Consider it a living parable. Sometimes it just sneaks up and it’s obvious: “there’s something we can learn here!” Other times those teachable moments are a little more elusive, and need to be sought out.

And I’m not even talking just spiritual truths.  For instance,when I’m out shopping with my early reader, I’m on the look out for words she can sound out on packages that are going in my cart.  She feels helpful and it’s reinforcing what we’re learning in reading time at home.  Teachable moment!  

While helping teach my toddler how to dress himself we talk about the colors on his clothes.  Teachable moment! 

My three-year old knows her letters and sounds. {Many thanks to The Letter Factory DVD!}  She likes to sit on my lap when I’m on the computer and look for letters that she recognizes. Teachable moment!   

I try to do word problems for my first grader throughout the day.  Prepping for meals is an easy time to do that: “I need 8 potatoes but I only have four here, so how many more do I need?”  And yet another teachable moment! 

Words, letters, colors, and addition, all “taught” in everyday life situations!

I try to use the times I screw up with my kids as teachable moments too.  “See, Mommy just lost her temper and wasn’t being patient.  It was wrong of me to yell like that.  I really need to work on my self-control, huh?”  And I ask for forgiveness.  Even watching a movie with the kids we try to point out what the characters are doing, and talk about whether they’re making wise or foolish choices and looking at the consequences of those choices. 

 Now, I know we’re all busy.  I’m not trying to turn everything into a sermon or anything.  You could think of this as learning on the go.  When you feel like you’re just wasting time, such as standing in a line somewhere or driving in the car, look around for a teachable moment.  It might be that moment when something “clicks.”  And there’s nothing better than looking into a child’s eyes and knowing that he/she gets it!

 

Blooming lilacs were a teachable moment for my daughters!

 

 

How can we bring a sweet fragrance to others?

 Be on the look out for teachable moments today!

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