Thursday, April 26, 2018

DIY Kid Safe Bug Repellent

My family really strives to avoid products that are toxic to humans or the environment, this includes mainstream insect repellents, most of which contain DEET or other harmful chemicals. DEET has been found to inhibit the activity of a key central nervous system enzyme in both insects and mammals (source). So instead I make my own non toxic bug repellent spray using essential oils.

In this post I will share my personal recipe for a kid safe non toxic bug repellent spray.

Kid Safe Non Toxic Bug Spray Recipe:


-1/2 cup natural witch hazel

-1/2 cup of water

-1 tablespoon of vodka

-20 drops of lavender essential oil

-20 drops of citronella essential oil

-10 drops of lemongrass essential oil


Add the essential oils and vodka to a glass spray bottle and shake to combine.

Add the witch hazel and shake again.

Add the water and shake again. 

And that's it. Now you have an effective bug repellent that is safe for your family. Be sure to shake well before each usage. Also note that this recipe is safe to use topically for kids 2+. For kids under 2, only apply to clothing.

If you enjoyed this post check out:

-DIY All Purpose Herbal Salve

-My Natural Medicine Cabinet

-My Favorite Kid Friendly Essential Oils

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Monday, April 23, 2018

My Favorite Children's Picture Books

I love children's picture books and as a homeschooling mom and a former elementary school educator, I've read a ton of them. I thought it would be fun to compile a list of my all time favorites. After quite a bit of thought and some discussion with my 7 year old here is my list of my top 10 favorite children's picture books.

My Favorite Children's Picture Books from The Barefoot Mom

A Fish Out of Water:

A Fish Out of Water by Helen Palmer
Illustrated by P.D. Eastman

This is an older book that I had never read until my oldest was a toddler and we picked a copy up at a yard sale. It quickly became one of our household favorites. It's a silly story about a boy who over feeds his pet goldfish and the calamity that results from it.

Where The Wild Things Are:

Where The Wild Things Are
Written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak

I just love this story about Max and his journey to the land of the wild things. The illustrations are awesome and it's such a fun story. It reminds me of my own little "wild things".

The Lorax:

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

The Lorax is my all time favorite Dr. Suess book. The illustrations are gorgeous and the message is a an important one. We all need to care about our planet.

Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo:

Because A Little Bug Went Ka-Choo!
By Rosetta Stone
Illustrated by Michael Frith

Because A Little Bug Went Ka-Choo is such a fun story about the calamity that results from a small bug's sneeze. This is another older one that I had never read until my oldest daughter was a toddler but I immediately fell in love with it.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a favorite from my childhood and has become a favorite of both of my daughters. It's so much fun getting to share books I enjoyed as a child with my own children. The board book version of this book is especially fun because the caterpillar appears to have actually eaten through the pages.

Giraffes Can't Dance:

Giraffes Can't Dance
By Giles Andrae

Giraffes Can't Dance is a really sweet book with a great underlying message. It's about embracing your individual talents and loving yourself. It's been one of my daughter's all time favorites for a couple years now. 

Moo, Baa, La La La:

Moo, Baa, La La La by Sandra Boynton

I love Sandra Boynton books and especially this one. It's a fun book for toddlers about animal sounds. 

Are You My Mother?:

Are You My Mother by P.D. Eastman

I've loved this book since I was a kid and my kids enjoy it too. It's a cute story about a baby bird who hatches while his mother is away and his adventure finding her. 

Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?:

Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?
By Bill Martin Jr.
Illustrated by Eric Carle

Brown Bear, Brown Bear was one of my first favorite books. I remember reading it in my kindergarten class. It's a fun book for early readers with repetitive language and awesome illustrations.


Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

Madeline has been a favorite of mine since I was a child. I love the rhymes and the beautiful illustrations of Paris. If you look carefully, many famous Paris sites appear in the background of the illustrations. 

What are some of your favorite children's picture books?

If you enjoyed this post check out:

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Lady Bug Lifecycle Craft

A book my daughter checked out from the library recently, inspired us to do some research about ladybugs. We spent a day learning about the ladybug lifecycle and did a fun ladybug life cycle craft.

In this post I will share how to make your own ladybug life cycle craft and share some resources for learning about ladybugs!

Ladybug Lifecycle Craft from The Barefoot Mom

Making a Lifecycle Ladybug:

For this craft you will need:

-A red piece of construction paper

-A black piece of construction paper

-A white piece of paper

-A black marker


-Glue or paste

-A stapler

-Crayons or markers

-A pair of googly eyes

-A pipe cleaner

Start by tracing a large circle of the same size on the red, white, and black pieces of paper (we traced a medium sized pot). Then cut the circles out. Cut a straight line up the center of the red paper almost to the top. Leave about a half inch at the top uncut.

Next glue the white circle onto the black circle and draw lines dividing the white paper into quarters.

Next have your child draw a picture and label of each of the 4 parts of the ladybug life cycle (egg, larva, pupa, adult), one in each section of the white circle. You can read about the ladybug life cycle at Kids Growing Strong: Ladybug Lifecycle or watch this video: Lifecycle of a Ladybug.

Next cut a small circle out of the left over black construction paper (we traced a cup). Staple the small black circle onto the top of the white circle, this will be your ladybug's head. Then staple the red circle over the white circle. Staple it just at the top so the "wings" can open. 

Draw black spots on the red wings. Glue the googly eyes on the head. Fold the pipe cleaner in half and staple onto the top of the head for antennas. 

Ladybug Craft from The Barefoot Mom

Now you have a ladybug and when you open it's wings you have a diagram of the ladybug lifecycle!

More Resources About Ladybugs:

-National Geographic Kids: Ladybird Facts!

If you enjoyed this post check out some of my other fun craft posts:

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Monday, April 16, 2018

7 Fun Phonics Activities

Phonics is the relationship between letters and letter combinations and the sounds they make. Phonics gives children the ability to sound out and spell new words.

In this post I will share some of my family's favorite phonics and word family activities.

Word Family Flip Cards:

On a 3x5 card write the ending sound from a word family like "at".  Leave enough room to the right to add another letter or two.

In front of the ending sound staple several 2x2 squares of paper in a stack. Staple them just at the top so the pages can be flipped up.

Write a different letter on each square of paper so that they make words with the ending sound.

Now your child can use the flip card to practice reading the words in that word family. Make more for other word families.

Word Family Books:

Reading with your children is simple and probably the best thing you can do for developing early literacy skills. Some of our favorite word family books are:

-Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss

-Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

-The Usborne Phonics Readers series

-The Bob Book Word Family set

Phonics Scavenger Hunt:

Write letters or letter blends on 3x5 cards or pieces of construction paper. Then hide them around the house or yard. Have your child hunt for the cards and read the letter sound or blend as he or she finds them.

Phonics Songs:

Songs are a fun way to teach kids letter sounds. Here are a few of our favorites: 

-Phonics Song 2 from KidsTV123

-The Letter Sounds Song from KidsTV123

- Letter Sound Songs by

Word Family Brainstorm:

Pick a word family like the "at" sound family and have your child brainstorm and write as many words from that word family as they can.

Word Family Crossword Puzzle:

Make a crossword puzzle using words from a word family. You can make your own crossword puzzles for free at Instant Online Crossword Puzzle Maker.

Letter Sound Hopscotch

Go outside and draw a hopscotch court on the sidewalk or driveway with sidewalk chalk. Inside each square, draw a letter. On the double squares write a letter blend, one letter in each square. Have your child hop down the hopscotch course saying the letter sounds or letter blend sounds as he or she lands on the squares.

What are some of your favorite phonics activities?

If you enjoyed this post, you might like: 

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Make a Cloud In a Jar

We've been studying weather for a few weeks now, and this week we specifically learned about clouds. We looked at pictures and learned about different types of clouds. We watched a YouTube video about how clouds form. And today we made our own cloud in a jar in our kitchen!  

In this post I'll share step by step instructions for making a cloud in a jar and explain how it works.

Make A Cloud In A Jar (a fun science experiment for kids) from The Barefoot Mom

How to make a cloud in a jar:

For this experiment you will need:

-A glass jar

-A metal dish

-Ice cubes


First, fill the metal dish with ice cubes and give it a few minutes until the metal dish is cold.

Once the dish is really cold, add about an inch of warm water to the glass jar. Then set the metal dish filled with ice cubes on top of the glass jar.

Give it a minute or two to build condensation on the side of the glass, then quickly remove the metal dish, spray a tiny amount of hair spray in the jar, and quickly replace the metal dish.

You should see a cloud begining to form at the top of the jar. Wait a minute or two for water vapor to build up and then remove the metal dish and watch your cloud slowly dissipate. 

How it works:

Since the water in the jar is warm, some of it turns to water vapor and rises to the top of the jar, where it comes into contact with cold air from the ice. Water vapor condenses as it cools. For a cloud to form, it must have a surace to condense on. The hairspray acts like dust particles in the atmosphere, giving the water vapor a surface to condense on.

Extend the learning:

A few resources with good information about clouds for kids:

-Ducksters- The Water Cycle

-Ducksters- Weather and Clouds

-Science Videos For Kids- How Are Clouds Formed?

-FreeSchool- All About Clouds For Kids

If you enjoyed this post, check out some of our other fun science projects:

-Make A Simple Home Weather Station

-The Naked Egg Experiment

-Make A Backyard Compost Bin: A Fun Way To Learn About Soil

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

My Natural Medicine Cabinet

While I believe modern medicine has it's place, I personally think it's best saved for serious injuries and serious illness. When I can, I tend to treat at home.

In this post I will share the natural remedies that I almost always keep on hand and what I use them for.

My Natural Medicine Cabinet from The Barefoot Mom

Fresh Garlic and Fresh Ginger:

Garlic is a powerful antimicrobial and can be effective against a wide range of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites. (source )

I infuse it in oil for skin infections and ear infections. I eat it raw (or take it in capsules) for fighting off infections and parasites.

Ginger is great for nausea, inflammation, and respiratory issues. (source)

I use it in tea for sore throats or nausea and infused in oil for chest congestion or sore or swollen joints. 

Raw Honey:

Honey is another powerful antimicrobial and has wound healing properties. (source)

I use it in tea to sooth sore throats. I use it on bug bites (it's great for bee stings, very soothing), cold sores, and minor wounds.

Essential Oils:

I keep a variety of essential oils on hand for a wide variety of medical purposes including fighting germs, inflammation, pain, congestion, anxiety, and much more. My 5 favorite and most used oils are:

-tea tree 
-sweet orange

You can read more about how I use these 5 oils here.

You can read more about the medicinal properties of essential oils here and about safe essential oil usage here.

Dry Herbs:

I keep a variety of dried herbs on hand for medicinal teas and soups. The ones we use most are:

-chamomile-for fevers, sore throats, upset stomachs

-lemon balm- for sleep, viruses, cold sores

-lavender- for sleep

-yarrow- for fevers and bleeding

-rosemary- is another powerful antimicrobial 

-peppermint-  for upset stomachs

All Purpose Salve:

I use my all purpose herbal salve for everything, well not quite everything but it's some pretty useful stuff. I use it for bug bites, rashes, minor scratches, minor burns, sunburns, bruises, chapped skin, and more.

For instructions to make your own, check out my DIY All Purpose Herbal Salve post.

Black Drawing Salve:

Black drawing salve is some pretty awesome stuff too. It's made with both activated charcoal and bentonite clay, both of which absorb impurities and pull infections to the surface. 

I use it for bug bites, splinters, skin infections, and cold sores. Sometimes I make my own but when I don't have the ingredients on hand I order from Earthley.


Elderberry syrup or elixir is a fantastic remedy for colds and the flu. It can shorten the duration of colds and the flu and it can even help prevent them all together. It's effectiveness has been demonstrated by several double blind studies, you can read more about that here and here.

It should be noted that raw elderberries and their stems are toxic. They have to be heated properly.  I personally buy a premade syrup from Mountain Rose Herbs so I don't have to worry about it. 

Apple Cider Vinegar:

Apple cider vinegar (the good stuff with "the mother") is a remedy for so many things! It can be used to reduce the appearance of scars (source), treat acne (source), reduce heartburn and acid relux, fight athlete's foot, remove warts and moles, and kill bacteria (source).

Bone Broth:

Bone broth is one of my go to remedies for morning sickness. It can help settle upset stomachs, sooth sore throats, and even relieve congestion. For more information about the amazing health benefits of bone broth and for my personal recipe, check out my post The Amazing Health Benefits of Bone Broth.

Epsom Salts:

Epsom salts (or magnesium sulfate) have so many uses. Dissolved in warm water they're an excellent soak for sore muscles and joints. They can reduce inflammation, promote relaxation, and relieve mild constipation. A warm bath with Epsom salts before bed can help with insomnia, restless leg syndrome,and muscle cramps. And we use Epsom salts in our weekly detox baths because they can help draw toxins out of the body. 

What are your go to home remedies?


-Antimicrobial Properties of Allicin From Garlic:

-Ginger: An Overview of Health Benefits:

-Honey: it's medicinal property and antibacterial activity:

-Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of Influenza A and B virus infections :

-Elderberries: A Potent Cold and Flu Remedy?:

-Lactic acid peeling in superficial acne scarring:

-Evaluation of anti-microbial activities of ZnO, citric acid, and a mixture of both against Propionibacterium acnes:

-Antibacterial action of vinegar against food borne pathogenic bacteria:

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Thursday, April 5, 2018

Make a Simple Home Weather Station

Since it's spring and we've been getting lots of little rainstorms we decided it was the perfect time to set up a simple backyard weather station and study weather for a few weeks.

In this post I'll show you how you can set up your own home weather station mostly with items you likely already have around the house.

DIY Home Weather Station from The Barefoot Mom

Make A Barometer:

Barometers measure barometric pressure (also called atmospheric pressure).  Changes in barometric pressure can help us predict the weather. Low pressure usually means cool rainy or snowy weather and high pressure usually means warm sunny weather. Making your own barometer to measure changes in barometric pressure is simple. You will need:

- A glass jar (mason jars work well)

-A balloon

-A thick rubber band

-A straw


-A piece of paper

-A pen


First cut the top off the balloon. Then stretch the balloon over the opening of your glass jar. It should be pulled tight enough that there are no dimples. Use the rubber band to hold it in place. You want the rubber band tight so it seals and creates a vacuum inside your jar. 

Next tape the straw on the balloon so that the end of the straw sits in about the middle of the balloon. 

Pick a place indoors to set up your barometer away from windows or heating and air vents. Behind your barometer, set up a piece of paper. Mark a line where the straw points. Then mark a line about an inch above and another about an inch below. Draw a sun by the upper line and rain by the lower line. 

DIY Barometer from The Barefoot Mom

Explain to your children that air is made up of tiny particles. Because the balloon is over the jar, no particles can enter or leave the jar, but they can push against the jar and the balloon. The particles in the air outside the jar do the same, only outside the jar. If the pressure inside the jar is greater than the pressure outside, it pushes up on the balloon causing the straw to point down. If the pressure inside the jar is lower than outside the jar, it pushes the balloon down, causing the straw to point upward. 

Make A Rain Gauge:

A rain gauge is a simple instrument that measures rainfall. Making one is really simple. Here's what you need:

-An empty plastic two liter bottle


-A permanent marker

-A ruler

-Some electrical or duct tape

Cut the top off the two liter bottle right below where it begins to taper and remove the lid.

Set the top of the bottle upside down on top of the bottom half and tape in place.

Using the ruler and permanent marker, mark a line every quarter inch starting above the uneven part at the bottom.

DIY Rain Gauge from The Barefoot Mom

And that's it. Your rain gauge is now ready to measure rainfall. Next time it rains, pre fill it with water to the first line (this eliminates the uneven part at the bottom from your measurement and provides some weight to keep your gauge from blowing over in the wind). Find an area outside clear of trees and other obstacles and set your rain gauge out to collect rain.

There's another very simple version of a rain gauge if you don't have a 2 liter bottle. This one requires just any container that is a true cylinder or rectangular box. Basically, it just can't have any irregularities. Then just mark off the inches and quarter inches with a ruler and permanent marker. This type just tends to be a little less accurate because as it gets full, water splashes out.

DIY Rain Gauge from The Barefoot Mom

Make A Wind Vane:

Wind vanes tell us what direction the wind is blowing. A change in wind strength or direction can indicate an incoming storm. To make your own wind vane you will need:

-A paper or Styrofoam drinking cup with a lid.

-A handful of pebbles

-A drinking straw

-A piece of tag board


-A pencil with a fresh eraser

-A finishing nail (the tiny ones that come in picture  hanging kits are perfect)


-A compass

Start by cutting a small triangle and square out of the tag board, about an inch and half tall. Then cut a small slit in each end of the straw. Slide the triangle into the slit on one side and tape in place. Do the same with the square on the other side.

Carefully poke the finishing nail through the middle of the straw and then into the eraser on the end of the pencil. The straw should be able to turn fairly freely.

Carefully set aside the pencil and straw part of your wind vane. Place the handful of pebbles in the lid for your cup.

Set the cup upside down onto it's lid and poke the sharp end of the pencil through the bottom of the cup.  And that's it, you have a simple wind vane. When the wind picks up, take it outside with your compass to see what direction it's blowing.

DIY Wind Vane from The Barefoot Mom

Buy An Outdoor Thermometer:

The only part of this backyard weather station you can't make yourself is an outdoor thermometer. If you don't already own one you can usually buy one at almost any garden center or Amazon has lots. We bought ours for $1 at Dollar General.

Now you have a simple backyard weather station that can measure rainfall, wind direction, temperature, and changes in barometric pressure. Enjoy your weather tracking!

If you enjoyed this post, check out some of my other fun science posts:

-The Naked Egg Experiment

-Make A Backyard Compost Bin and Learn About Soil

-Make Your Own Mineral Identification Kit

DIY Kid Safe Bug Repellent

My family really strives to avoid products that are toxic to humans or the environment, this includes mainstream insect repellents, most of ...