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Recent blog posts

Do you know what I love about the Fall and Halloween season?

I adore the fact that so many adults enjoy it just as much as the kids!  I think so many of us are kids at heart -- heading to the pumpkin patch, the idea of dressing up, a hike in the woods and who doesn't love candy ;)

This Fall, we want to continue to inspire families to connect & make memories together. 

I know firsthand that it can be a busy time -- school events, sports practices, shorter days and things that need to get done around the house.  My husband & I were just lamenting that it's hard to find time to unwind as a family.  I firmly believe that you have to carve out time to connect -- otherwise those everday tasks begin to take over.

As with The $0 Summer activities that were shared over the past few months, our goal is to help you find free or low cost ideas for fun family -- and today, we have 40 fun ways you can get out & enjoy Fall together!

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Do you know the saying "A picture's worth a thousand words"?

If that's the case, I'm going to tell you that a hands-on science activity answers 1,000 questions :)

Giving kids a way to get up close while learning helps provide the details for all the "why is this happening?" and "what does that mean?" questions that they ask as while exploring the world. 

Today we have both for you -- a few pictures along with an awesome & easy hands-on activity that's worth it's weight in gold!

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Fall is the season for leaves! 

You know me -- I'm all about EASY when it comes to projects and what's easier than walking out your door and rounding up a handful of leaves ;)

And although we adore leaf rubbings and 'match the leaf' games, there's really so much more you can explore & do!

So send the kids out on a quick romp around the yard or park to grab some leafy friends, head back home and enjoy a few of these leaf crafts and science projects.


 leaf crafts & science projects for kids

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Fall is starting this week (yea!) so I wanted to celebrate with a fun seasonal activity!

When the seasons change, it's a wonderful time to introduce kids to the science behind nature.  For example, leaf rubbings are a great way to explore the parts of a leaf in addition to being a timeless seasonal craft.

It's also the perfect time to pull out some seasonal books like these 14 Cozy Fall Books Kids Love!

And with all the colors we experience in the Fall, it's also a great time for some art fun.

Today I want to tie all those together -- book + science + art = Awesome Autumn Activity!

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With the big kids back in school, it’s the perfect time of year to focus on the interests of our younger learners. 

Kids can have very definite likes and desires when it comes to acquiring new knowledge even at a young age.  As many people will say “they are just a sponge waiting to soak up all that learning”!

I love using themed learning with children of all ages but especially with kids ages 3 - 10 years old! 

Truth be told, I still use this technique with my older kids too but allow them to choose many of the resources along with the themes.

The goal of a theme-based learning is to offer your child an in-depth experience that allows them to explore a variety of areas  (science, art, sensory, reading, etc) all focused on a theme they love!

If you haven't tried this yet, you'll be AMAZED at how much your kids will enjoy it!

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Did you know September 19th is International Talk like a Pirate Day? 


The perfect day to have some fun searching for hidden 'treasure', playing dress-up, reading a few good books and even enjoying a family movie together.

And we have everything you'll need for this fun day in our Kids Activities Pirate Blog Hop including some great crafts, fun activities and not-so-scary books & movies the whole family will enjoy!

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I've learned a few things over the years when it comes to getting kids to talk & share --

First, a good snack goes a long way ;) 

And second, kids are more likely to open up when they are preoccupied in an activity WITH an adult.

If you're doing something (like prepping dinner or checking email) while trying to have a conversation with the kids, you'll probably hear a lot of "Good." or "Fine." when you ask about their day.

BUT -- if you're both engaged in an easy & quiet activity (like a fun scavenger hunt or an easy art project) you'll be amazed at how much kids are willing to share.

Enter Zentangle Rocks!

Have you ever zentangled before? 

It's so easy, lots of fun and actually a very relaxing way to spend some time together.

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Leaf activities are second nature in Fall! 

Whether you're creating leaf rubbings, making leaf prints or just enjoying the color, there are so many ways to play, learn and craft with leaves.

And best of all, NO prep time!

You won't need any special supplies for many of your leaf projects -- just step outside and you're set to go :)

Today's activity + free printable will inspire kids to enjoy some time outside, practice a little math and (most of all) enjoy the beauty of the season! 

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Do you know what I love most about Fall?

I mean aside from the beautiful foliage, super easy leaf activities that kids love to do and the fact that I can pull out a few of my favorite sweaters :)

I love that Fall has four mini-seasons -- it's the one time of year where I feel like there's a new start to the world every few weeks.  Think about it, many of us consider the back-to-school time as early fall -- warmer days followed by cooler evenings.  Outdoor play sessions begin to shift to the late afternoon and nighttime walks reward us with a peek into nocturnal life.

Then the weather shifts and Part 2 of Fall begins -- cooler days and nights, plus the gorgeous leaves that begin to change.  Enter leaf crafts, trips to the pumpkin patch and so many fun outdoor activities!

The next two 'seasons of Fall focus around holidays -- there's Halloween season followed by Thanksgiving.  The environment around us seems to move from cool & creepy to quiet & grateful overnight.

And with all this change, there is so much to observe & enjoy at this time of the year -- it's a wonderful time to head out on a scavenger hunt, or two, or 18!

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Brita for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.


Our son went away to college to begin his Freshman year last week. Amazingly enough, we fit everything he needed in the car, drove 900 miles to drop him off, helped him get his room set up and then turned around and drove home.

And when I say 'went away to college', I mean FAR away – 906 miles away according to the Garmin.

As we walked in the door after our trip, I saw his checkbook on the kitchen table.

The same checkbook he needed to have with him on campus.

The campus that’s 906 miles away (so not like he’ll be able to pick it up when he’s home one weekend).


Then came the first phone call. All was well, no worries there – it was just the ‘I forgot my gym bag too'.

As a parent who packed the majority of the car, I really can’t believe we forgot anything!

So enter our first college care package -- here's a few ideas on things to send, what to consider before mailing the package and a free printable list to help you brainstorm a few great ways to make dorm life a little more home-y!

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You know how things happen in 3's?

Well this week -- 

1. we dropped our oldest off at college so now both kids are back in school,

2. found trees with their leaves changing 

3. the temperature last night dropped to 56 degrees!

Can you say ‘Fall is on the way’?!!

There’s something about the start of a new season that gets my creative juices flowing.  I’ve pulled out our Fun Things to Do in the Fall (print a free copy for your home too!) and started making plans for the things we look forward to doing in Autumn.

Family hikes and brunch with apple cider pancakes are right at the top of the list :)

With all these wonderful seasonal changes, I am definitely in the mood to get started on some Autumn themed crafts & activities too! 

Today's theme -- everything Owl!

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I had a reader email to let me know that one of our book lists had disappeared (Thank you Kelly!).  Since it's such a seasonal favorite (and I'm not sure how long it's been offline), I wanted to re-create the list for this Fall.  If you've been around these parts for a while, you may remember this list -- and if you're new to our little corner of the internet, I hope you find a few childhood favorites!


I love sharing classic books with my kids, especially ones that I enjoyed as a child. 

So I've started a quarterly series on great Vintage Kids Books to feed my need for nostalgic reading :) 

My goal is to help parents introduce their kids to the books they loved to read & hear as children and introduce a steady diet of classic literature in addition to the new and more contemporary books the kids love to read.

If you missed the other lists for Summer, Spring and Winter, you can find out them all at Classic Kids' Books for Every Season

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Today I have a triple treat to share with you!

We are going to make back to school mornings healthier, easier and actually enjoyable!

I know, you think I'm talking nuts right? 

But I want to help make it happen for you this year!

So I have 3 AWESOME things to share with you (because I love to make life easier for everyone!):

a FREE printable list of healthy breakfast options with a round-up of our favorite healthy recipes,

• tips to make mornings less stressful,

• and a special offer you (that's only good today so be sure to check it out!)

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If you have kids in school, I'm sure you know school fundraisers are a big deal!

The goal, of course, is to find a quick & easy fundraising activity that doesn't take a lot of time for families to do and in my opinion, should allow the kids to get involved in fundraising efforts without having them go door-to-door.

We're always look for more practical fundraisers because honestly, how much frozen cookie dough can you really keep in the freezer?!

Since we're not crazy over the idea of selling items, we love to support our schools through the Box Tops for Education™ program  -- it's super quick, really easy and I'm going to show you a few secrets on how to double & triple the value of the Box Tops for your school this year!

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Our kids could never sit still during reading time.  They would ask to build block towers, do headstands on the couch so they could see the book upside down or color while we read aloud.  Even as they got older, there would always be something in their hands while they listened to a story. 

School wasn't any different -- they (along with many of their peers) would only sit still for the first few pages of a book.  In the upper elementary and middle school classes, many of their teachers would read aloud while the kids were working on projects or homework.

Lots of parents worry about the fact that their kids just can't sit still.  But guess what -- this is totally NORMAL! 

As a whole, our society asks that children sit still too much of the day.  Kids are made to move -- and if you think about it, most of us as adults don't like sitting for long periods of time either ;)

So back to reading time -- how do you incorporate reading time with active kids?

I'm here to tell you that reading CAN be an active activity! 

There's no reason that kids need to ONLY sit still while you read.  In fact, most kids will have better comprehension of the story and are more likely to WANT to read if they enjoy reading sessions.

Since so many teachers ask families to practice reading with their kids at home (super important to do by the way!) and family read aloud sessions are also very popular, I wanted to share 10 fun activities that kids can do during reading times!

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HealthySavings #CollectiveBias


We are currently packing up my oldest and getting him ready for his first year at college this week (one of those big life moments for both parents & kids).

And in all the packing & shopping, I'm trying to think about what he'll need when he's 1,000 miles away from home. You know, the stuff that Moms always seem to prepare for -- all those "What if" moments.

One of the items that quickly came to mind is a portable First Aid Kit that's perfect for students!

How frequently do you hear "Mom, I think I'm getting a cold" or "I need a bandaid".  Anytime the kids get hurt or don't feel 100%, they always seems to come to Mom (we're magic, I guess :)

So as I began accumulating items for him to take to college, I realized there had to be a good way to organize them so he can find what he needs when he's not feeling well or does get hurt (let's face it, its gonna happen at least once over the next four years).

And then I thought, "Man, this would be great to have when we go on vacations or day trips"!  A small kit with everything you'll need for any of those little emergencies.  So I created a quick tutorial and included a free printable list for you so it's easy to put together your own DIY First Aid Kit for your car, classroom or college student!

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It's very important to me that our kids are introduced to volunteer opportunities. Whether it’s a random act of kindness (such as helping someone take back their grocery cart) or a long-term commitment with a local charity, volunteer work teaches them so much!

But I do admit there are challenges when you want to volunteer as a family.  Some organizations don't allow children to participate in projecs due to a variety of reasons.  And then there’s the schedule – trying to find a time when everyone in the family can participate in the same volunteer project.

With the school year beginning, we like to look for projects that we can do from home and especially things that the kids can take on as "a project of their own".  

One of the best ways we've found for kids to make a postive impact is the Box Tops for Education™ program!  It's the perfect opportunity for kids in elementary and middle school to take the lead on a project that will help others and it's something any family can easily do at home.

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I'm super excited about today's activity!

Why?  It's a fun way to get the kids outside PLUS there's some math involved AND there's also an element of surprise! 

So the kids don't even notice the math & learning that's involved ;)

And it's super easy to do in your own yard or neighborhood.

Today we're going to go on a Graphing Adventure -- it's just like a treasure hunt but the kids will be learning to read a plot graph and scouting out the 'secret' locations!

I know that it can be challenging for some kids to understand that math can be fun (I have a kid like that at home too!) so this is a great activity to inspire them to have a good time with numbers.  It's also a perfect hands-on activity that highlights how math can easily be applied to every day life.

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It's hard to believe but it's almost time to say 'good-bye' to summer.

The kids here begin school next week (yikes!). 

Although we aren't in any huge rush to get back to a school schedule, I do like to do a few fun things during that first week back to classes.

Maybe a special breakfast or a fun way to kick-off the day at the breakfast table.

And of course those first day of school pictures that I always insist on taking (even when the kids think they are too old for them).

Plus, it's time to get my own ducks in a row with ways to make those weekday breakfasts and lunch-making sessions a little easier and more organized.

In order to help you make back to school a little less hectic (because less chaos means more time to enjoy :), we've round-up 40 free back to school printables that will get the kids out the door, make lunches easier and get the school year off to a great start!

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I know a lot of families (including ours!) enjoy seeing some of the new kids movies that come to theaters.

And family movie nights are a perfect time to watch some of the classic kids flicks that we may have missed seeing at the thater during the busy school year.  Has your family seen any of the 25 Best Kids Books Made into Movies?  Plus old Disney films are also a big hit with kids -- throw-back ones like Honey I Shrunk the Kids or The Apple Dumpling Gang are a few family faves.

Movies can be very inspirational for kids as they watch creative ideas coming to life on the big screen -- which makes it a great way to entice them to do a little science too.

So today we're sharing a list of some AWESOME kids movies along with science-related crafts & activities that will keep those minds buzzing -- just in time for back to school!


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