Thursday, August 16, 2018

Simple But Healthy Snack Ideas For Kids

I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for new healthy snacks my kids will actually eat. In this post I share 20 of my kid's favorite simple but healthy snacks.


-Apple slices and nut butter

-Frozen banana slices- just slice a banana and stick in the freezer for about an hour until the slices are frozen.

-Multi-grain chips with salsa or guacamole

-Dill Pickles- always a favorite in our house.

-Fruit Kabobs- put various fruits and slices of fruit on a kabob stick. Our favorites for this snack are grapes, strawberries, pineapple chuncks, and marshmallows.

-Trail mix- I love trail mix because you can make it with so many different ingredients. Our household favorites are peanuts, cashews, dried coconut flakes, craisins, and vanilla yogurt chips.

-Smoothies- this is another simple snack with so many different options. Berry smoothies with greek yogurt and almond milk are a favorite in our house. If you need some inspiration, check out these smoothie recipes from Bon Appetit.

-Air Popped Pop Corn

-Banana chips

-Banana slices and nut butter

-Cheddar cheese slices with whole wheat crackers

-Plain greek yogurt with fruit and granola

-Greek yogurt pops- these are a super simple healthy treat that only require two ingredients. For the recipe, click here.

-Dried strawberries- strawberries dried in the oven taste like candy! Just slice and bake at 200 degrees F on a baking tray lined with parchment paper for approximately 2 hours.

-Carrot sticks and humus

-Hard boiled eggs

-Baked sweet potato fries- slice sweet potatoes into french fries, coat lightly with avocado or olive oil and bake on a baking sheet at 425 until fully baked and slightly crispy. Serve warm with traditional french fry dips like ketchup, barbeque sauce, or mustard.

-Dried mangos

-Baked apple chips- Baked apple chips are delicious and really simple. Here's a great recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction.


What are some of your family's favorite snacks?

If you enjoyed this post, check out:

-Strawberry Greek Yogurt Pops

-5 Reasons To Let Your Kids Go Barefoot

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Monday, August 13, 2018

Math Outside The Classroom

Math is one of those subjects that too often becomes all about worksheets and workbooks. I try really hard to incorporate hands on and real life application activities into our lessons but this can be especially hard when it comes to math. In this post I will share several ways to take math outside the classroom for hands on learning and real world application. 


Grocery Store Trips

Grocery store trips are an easy way for your kids to get math practice in a real life setting. Some activities you can do are:

-Teach your kids how to use and read the scales in the produce department.

- Have your child use the scales to calculate how much your spending on an item.

-Have your child add up the prices of items.

-Have your child calculate the difference in price between two similar items.

-Ask questions like "If we have $10 to spend on bread, how many loaves can we get?" or "which block of cheese is the best deal?"

-Help your child pay the cashier and count out exact change.

-Young children can count or sort items.

Board Games

Board games are fun way to get math practice in and the best part is kids don't even realize they're learning. For real little kids just counting spaces and counting dots on dice can be great practice. 

Games with money like Monopoly and Life are great practice for kids learning to count money. Other games that are good for practicing math skills are: 





-Connect 4

-Sequence Numbers


In The Kitchen

Cooking and baking projects are one of my favorite ways to do math practice. Here are a few ways you can use math in the kitchen:

-Teach your kids how to measure ingredients.

-Teach your kids how to read amounts in a recipe. 

-Have your kids double or halve recipes. This is great for fraction practice. 

-Have your children plan a meal, make a grocery list, and calculate the cost.

-Use pies or cakes or round loaves of bread as a fraction demonstration.

-Young children can count and sort items like canned food, mixed dried beans, etc....

STEM Challenges

STEM challenges are always a fun way to get in some mathmatics practice. Here are links to instructions for a few of my favorite mathematical STEM activities: 

-Geometric Shapes Activity from Little Bins For Little Hands

-Toothpick Gumdrop Geometry from The Barefoot Mom

-Math Fact Dominoes from From Playdough To Plato

-2D Shape Hunt from From Playdough To Plato

-Angles Art from In The Playroom

-Fibonacci Art Project from What We Do All Day

-Origami Friendship Math Quilts from Pink Stripey Socks

-Kinetic Sand Math from Left Brain Craft Brain

Apps And YouTube Channels

Another fun way to get in some math practice is with fun math apps, online games, and YouTube videos. Here are a few of my family's favorites: 

Mathmagics- Mental Math Tricks is an app that helps kids with mental math skills. It teaches lots of neat math tricks.

Mathmateer is a fun math app for elementary aged kids.

Math Playground is another fun app for early elementary aged kids.

Starfall is an awesome learning site with lots of fun math and reading games.

Numberphile is a neat YouTube channel and all episodes are number and math related.

Math Antics a great YouTube channel for elementary aged kids.

If you enjoyed this post, check out:

-Hands On Fractions

-Aluminum Foil Boat STEM Activity 

-Toothpick Gumdrop Geometry 

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Thursday, August 9, 2018

4 Reasons Pets Are Good For Kids

We are definitely a critter loving household. We currently have two Chihuahuas, a cat, a Ball Python, an aquatic turtle, an African Water Frog, and 5 chickens.

There are many benefits that can come from raising a pet with your children, in this post I share a few of them.


Teach Responsibility:

One of the most important things we have to teach our children is responsibility. Helping feed and water and care for a pet is a wonderful way to help kids develop responsibility. 

It's also a great way to introduce basic care giving skills. People who have raised pets tend to have an easier transition into parenthood because they've already been the provider and care giver for another life.

Emotional Well-being:

Having and caring for a pet can have a profound affect on emotional health. Interacting with animals has been shown to reduce stress levels and can even help with impulse control, social skills, and self esteem. 

Our older Chihuahua used to work as a therapy dog at a local hospital because it was theraputic and helped calm patients. 

Physical Health

Pets can also have a positive impact on physical health. Families who have dogs have a lower occurrence of asthma and eczema (source).

Pets like dogs need lots of outside play and exercise, it can be a good way to motivate your kids to go outside and get moving.  One of my daughter's daily chores is to take the dog for a walk. 

Family Bonding

Sharing the love and responsibility of caring for a pet can bring families together and strengthen sibling bonds. 

My Top Pick Pets For Families:

-Dogs especially family friendly breeds like Labradors and Boxers. If you want a smaller breed, we really love our Chihuahuas and many of the terriers also make wonderful family pets.

-Ball Pythons or California King Snakes both make awesome pets. They are friendly and enjoy being handled. They are also pretty simple to care for.

-Guinea Pigs make great pets, especially if you want something small and aren't into reptiles. They are friendly and enjoy being held and pet.

Does your family have any pets?

If you enjoyed this post, check out:

-Why We Don't Do Bedtimes 

-5 Reasons To Let Your Kids Go Barefoot

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Monday, August 6, 2018

Learning To Read Is Not A Race

So much emphasis is put on early literacy these days. Many school districts expect children to be reading by the end (or sometimes even the beginning) of kindergarten. While there is certainly nothing wrong with a child learning to read early, not all kids are developmentally ready to read at age 5, and that's okay. In this post I share several reasons why learning to read isn't a race.


Developmental Readiness

Kids all develop at their own pace. We know this when it comes to learning to walk or climbing the jungle gym or being ready for slumber parties but is often over looked when it comes to learning to read. Not all kids are developmentally there at the same age.  

Pushing kids to read before they're ready can cause a lot of frustration and resentment. It can destroy a child's chance to develop a love for reading by turning it into a frustrating chore. 

Reading Isn't The Only Way To Learn New Information

One of the reasons reading is pushed so early is to get kids ready for learning in the public school system where textbooks and worksheets are the main source of learning. 

As homeschoolers we have a great advantage in that we can offer our kids a wide variety of methods for learning. We can do more hands on learning, more field trips, watch more documentaries, read more books aloud, etc... Reading and writing are not the only ways to educate.

Let Kids Be Kids

Young children learn so much simply through play and everyday interaction with the world around them. Early childhood is a time for learning to be kind to others, learning to read social cues, developing good social habits, and developing muscle and coordination. Too much emphasis on academic learning can take time away from play and hands on experiences.

I read something once that said: "Employers don't care when you learned to read, only that you can". And it's true. In the grand scheme of things, whether you learned to read at age 4 or 7 or even 8 is pretty irrelevant. 


What We Can Learn From The Finnish School System

Finnish schools are among some of Europe's highest ranking schools but surprisingly, they don't start any sort of formal education until age 7. Before that emphasis is put on play based learning and arts and crafts.

This "late" start on learning to read doesn't hold students back, in fact Finland is one of the world's most literate societies. 

Pushing the expected reading age earlier, as many school districts here in the U.S. have done, hasn't done anything to increase test scores or literacy rates. What it has done, is destroyed the opportunity for many children to develop a natural love of reading.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Natural Remedies For Sleeplessness

I struggled with terrible insomnia for years. It was awful, not sleeping makes you feel so irritable and unhealthy. I tried quite a few over the counter and prescription medications but none worked well for me. They either made me jittery, not sleepy, or made me so sleepy I felt groggy and tired for half of the next day.  Several years ago I finally gave up trying different medications to help me sleep and decided to try some natural remedies. I ended up finding several things that helped. In this post I share a few natural remedies for sleeplessness that I have found to be useful.


Magnesium Lotion

Magnesium deficiency is very common, especially among woman. Magnesium plays an important role in supporting deep restorative sleep. Magnesium is necessary for maintaining healthy neurotransmitter levels including GABA, a neurotransmitter responsible for promoting sleep.

One of the easiest and fastest ways to raise your magnesium levels is applying a good magnesium lotion before bed. 

My favorite magnesium lotion and the one we use most often is Earthley's Good Night Lotion.

Baths With Epsom Salts

Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate salts) are also useful for raising magnesium levels. Soaking in a hot bath with Epsom salts before bed can be especially relaxing. The hot water relaxes muscles and the salts are absorbed by the body raising magnesium levels and promoting relaxation. 

It's also a great opportunity to take a quiet break from life and clear your mind.

Essential Oils

Essential oils are one of my favorite remedies for sleeplessness. They smell amazing and have powerful effects. 

There are many oils that have sedative qualities. My personal favorites are lavender and frankincense. I like to apply a couple drops to the underside of my pillow before bed or I add a few drops to a carrier oil (like olive or sweet almond oil) and apply topically about a half hour before bed).

Of all the remedies and medications I've tried for sleep, lavender essential oil has probably been the most effective. It's seriously amazing!


One of the reasons I tend to have trouble falling asleep isn't because I'm not tired, I just can't get my brain to slow down. Quiet mediation before bed is an excellent way to relax and clear your mind of all the stress you deal with each day. 

I like to set aside just 10-15 minutes to sit somewhere quiet and just concentrate on deep breathing exercises. I keep my focus on my breath and try not to let my mind wander. The peaceful feeling I get from meditation is unlike anything else. It's a great way to get your mind and body ready for sleep.

No Screen Time Before Bed

The blue light emitted from electronic devices like cell phones, TVs, and computers can disrupt our bodies natural sleep cycles if exposed in the couple of hours before bed. 

Our bodies natural circadian rhythms are deeply intertwined with the sun. We naturally feel sleepy when it gets dark in the evening and energized when the sun comes up in the morning. Exposure to blue light before bed can trick our bodies into thinking it's daytime instead of nighttime. 

No screen time in the two hours before bed can have a profound effect on your ability to fall asleep. Dimming lights around the house in the evening can help too.

What are your favorite remedies for sleeplessness?

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Monday, July 30, 2018

Rockhounding With Kids

Rockhounding is a term for collecting and studying rock and mineral specimens found in their natural environment. It's a fun and simple way to get your kids outside and moving and it's an excellent way to teach them about local geology. It's a hobby my dad shared with my siblings and I when we were kids and now I love doing it with my own kids. In this post I will share how to put together your own rockhounding kit and some tips for getting started.


Putting Together Your Rockhounding Kit:

Your rockhounding kit can be pretty simple and doesn't require anything too expensive. You will need:

-A box of some type for storing specimens in. An old shoe box or cigar type box will work great. 

-A small shovel

-A small hammer or rock pick

-A spray bottle and a toothbrush for cleaning specimens.

-An old colander for sifting through sand and dirt.

How To Rockhound:

Once you have your kit put together, pack a picnic lunch or a snack and set out on a nature hike to hunt for neat rock and mineral specimens. 

Have your kids search and dig for rocks and minerals. When they find one that they like have them clean it off with the spray bottle and toothbrush and add it to your collection box. 

And that's it! You can extend the learning by trying to identify your specimens after you get home using a local rock and mineral guide or there are lots of free online resources for rock and mineral identification.

You can even make your own simple rock and mineral identification kit with items mostly found around the house, for instructions click here.

If you enjoyed this post, check out:

-Make Your Own Mineral Identification Kit

-Our Geology Hike

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Thursday, July 26, 2018

Frozen Chalk Painting

In this post I share instructions for a really neat activity my kids and I tried recently, painting with frozen chalk paint! Frozen chalk painting is a fun way to stay cool on a hot afternoon. It can be both a cool sensory play activity for toddlers and a fun art activity for older kids.


Making Frozen Chalk Paint:

For this activity you will need:

-Food coloring
-An ice cube tray
-Several small bowls for mixing in

Mix about 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and about 3 tablespoons of water in each bowl. You want it to be liquid so it can be poured but still sort of thick.

Add about 10 drops of food coloring to each bowl (do a different color in each bowl).

Then just pour into an ice cube tray and freeze until they are frozen solid.

Now your frozen chalk paint is done and ready to use. Find a warm sunny part of the driveway or some warm rocks to paint on. Try drawing with the cubes or just set them down and watch them melt and swirl together.

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Simple But Healthy Snack Ideas For Kids

I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for new healthy snacks my kids will actually eat. In this post I share 20 of my kid&#...