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Recent blog posts

 

Heading to the beach or lake this summer? 

You'll LOVE today's book list!

A day on the sand or at the lake can tire out even the most active of kids so be sure to bring along a few books for the trip.  Or better yet, take them along in the car.

Kids can learn a TON while digging in the sand or floating on the water -- these books will inspire them to explore items they may find or enjoy some downtime on the blanket.

Which means some downtime for you too -- so don't forget to take along a book for yourself ;)

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I thought we'd try something a little different this summer -- I'm up for a challenge, how about you?

We usually share a 'summer bucket list' on the blog with ideas for things to do during the next three months. 

But when I went back to look at some of our most read summer posts, I learned that the 34 Ways to Be a Cool Parent this Summer was by far one of the most popular.

It's not surprising when I think about it -- the post is a list of simple ways to make memories with your kids.

And isn't that what we really want to do as parents.

 

When you get right down to it, the goal many of us have for summertime is to create memories.

Activities the kids will remember fondly years later.

Special moments they talk about when you least expect it.

Things that will inspire them to do the same with their kids.

 

Our parents & grandparents did so many of them with us -- catching fireflies, making a blade of grass whistle, making tin can 'phones', taking us on simple family outings.

There's something about simplicity and summertime that just feels right.

Kind of like butter on a warm piece of toast :)

 

So instead of sharing a bucket list this year, we're sharing ideas for making memories.

And the best part -- none of them will cost you a dime!

 

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Memorial Day, the unofficial start of Summer is next week!

And our kids are already out of school -- yea!  We're on summer break! :)

Summer is a wonderful time to let the kids show off their curiosity and do some simple science:

Mom, do you think this {non-waterproof object} will float?

If I put my popsicle down in the sun, how long will it take to melt?

and the best one that's always asked at our house --

If we put the hose at the top of the slide and turn on the water, how fast will I slide down?

They shoot off that thing like a greased pig I tell you :)

 

So in order to inspire & nuture that growing sense of curiosity -- and even allow them to live a little dangerously at times -- we thought we would bring you an awesome list of Simple Summer Science Experiements to try!

 

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Today we are combining two of our favorite summer activities -- family movie night and road trip adventures -- in the last post of our Summer Movies for Kids series!

Just in case you missed that previous posts, here are the other movie lists we've shared:

The 25 Best Kids Books Made into Movies

9 Totally NOT Boring History Movies

12 Movies that Inspire Kids to Tinker

 

Summertime is a great time to travel -- head out on an adventure and explore the unknown!

Even if the unknown is only 30 minutes away and the adventure only lasts for a few hours, kids really benefit from visiting new places & having new experiences.

Since most families will venture out on a road trip at least once in their lives, I thought it would be fun to feature some of the more famous kid-friendly road trip movies.  Whether you watch these films before you set off on vacation or pop them in during your trip, I'm sure you'll identify with more than a few of the antics and escapades that accompany a memorable family road trip :)

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Math has always been an issue at our house.

My son LOVES math!  We were constantly looking for fun ways to expand on different math concepts that he enjoyed because he was always working ahead in that area.

Now my daughter -- NOT a lover of traditional math at all :)

Worksheets & math books make her cringe.

But she really enjoys hands-on activities and reading so my goal has always been to find interesting ways to engage her (read that:  trick her as she would say) into doing more math.

With summer coming, it's really important to keep the kids practicing their math concepts.  During the summer months, most kids will lose two months of mathematical skills!

I know - shocking!

Math is one of those things that requires daily practice -- BUT it doesn't have to be the boring-do-a-worksheet kind of practice. 

There are a lot of fun ways to integrate math into summer activities so kids are not only learning but also having a great time while they play!

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This weekend, we're celebrating Kids to Parks Day on May 16th!

It's a day to visit your favorite park or your kids' favorite park or ever a park you've been wanting to visit and haven't had the chance to yet.

The goal is to get the kids outside & connected with their local, state and national park resources.

You'll find some outstanding Family Resources along with events in your area at the National Park Trust website.

 

If you visit our blog frequently, you'll know that we are BIG fans of getting kids outside :)

Our first post featuring Kids to Parks Day focused on 30 Games & Activities to Play at the Park.

Today, I thought we would share some of the secrets about the awesome kids programs at our National Parks.

Yep, secrets!! 

Shhhh.....

 

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Have your kids started their countdown for the last day of school yet?

The clock is quickly ticking away at our house!

And I adore that last day of school -- all the excitement about summer, the hugs for the teachers, our special end of school traditions and the kids knowing they are "one year older" in school years ;)

But I do dread all the end of the school year stuff that comes home with them -- stuffed in an "I-just-couldn't-get-it-zipped" backpack and overflowing brown paper bag.

They run into the house carrying that huge lot -- their whole desk or locker just dumped in it (UGH!) -- and it just spills out on the floor, quickly forgotten.  

So before they ditch their school supplies and reach for their bathing suits, have them follow these quick & easy steps that will save you time & money come Fall!! 

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I just realized that we haven't shared many Simple Science Experiments lately.

Our goal with Simple Science activities is to provide you with quick & easy ideas that help kids explore science! 

Most of these require very few items (many of which are found around your home) and can be set up in less than 5 minutes.

 

If you'd like to introduce your child to science, these experiements are the perfect place to begin!

Here are a few we've shared in the past:

Does your Food Sink or Float?  {physics & density for kids}

Create Your Own Gong! {science of soundwaves}

How Much Water is in Snow? {evaporation & weather science}

 

For today's Simple Science experiment, we're going to head outdoors and learn how leaves breathe!

All you'll need is a bowl of water and a leaf!

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This week's topic in our Summer Movie Series for Kids is all about inventions!

There are a number of wonderful films that will inspire children to tinker and create new things -- kids always come up with the most amazing ideas when given the chance ;)

For example, my daughter wants a robot that will do all her chores (wouldn't we all love one of those!)

In addition to some very creative inventions, these movies also offer a peek into the process of trial & error.  No one gets it right on the first try -- being an inventor is all about not giving up which is a great message and important life skill for kids to understand.

So pop some popcorn and turn down the lights -- reminding the kids that both of those things were created by some awesome tinkerers!

Then offer the kids the opportunity to do some inventing of their own with some of the hands-on tinkering activities we've also featured in the post -- here's to a creative summer!

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Even though we only get the newspaper once a week, we always seem to have a pile of it lying around the house or tossed in the recycle bin.

In fact, that was my inspiration for our DIY Eiffel Tower project!

Why go out and spend money on building materials when you have some great stuff around the house, right!

So, since I know that newspapers are easy to come by and usually just recycled once read, I thought we'd share some inspiration for a few high fun, low cost summer projects for kids!

 

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We are gearing up for a HUGE road trip this summer!

In fact, it's going to be much longer than we thought -- 10 days through 11 states covering 2600 miles!! 

I know - crazy!  But we're really looking forward to it -- we believe that family travel is a great way for kids to learn all kinds of things.

This year, we'll be seeing lots of family, celebrating my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary and attending freshman orientation for our oldest who is starting college this Fall.

It's going to be a monster of a trip with lots of overnight stops and quite a few hours in the car.

Soooo .... time to start planning on how to keep everyone busy, happy and fed ;)

 

Since we love to travel, I'll be sharing a handful of posts over the next month on how to plan an awesome family road trip!

And the first thing I always tackle is putting together a binder for the trip that's chocked full of fun (& free) printable activities!

 

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Welcome back to the 2nd part of our Summer Movies for Kids series!

Last week, we featured outstanding kids books that were made into movies -- this week, we're focusing on movies that make history FUN!

 

When I was younger, I would complain to my Grandmother about my history homework all the time!

I hated memorizing all those dates. 

I never understood why we had to know what happened in the past.

It was all so boring to me.

But there was a method to my madness -- you see, my Grandmother LOVED history!

When I started complaining, she would tell me super interesting stories about the topic -- things they never taught in the classroom.  I was instantly intrigued and wanted to know more.

And I quickly learned that was the key -- find a way to make learning about the past interesting!

 

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As Spring sets in, we are all treated to blossoming trees and beautiful flowers.

I'm sure your kids will pick flowers, smell their scent and then give the bouquet to Mom.

Ahh... to receive a handful of wilted but picked-out-of-love blooms is a mother's delight ;)

We've had more than one dinner at our house spruced up with a home-picked bouquet, whether they were the wild orchids growing in the backyard or the dandelions that popped up all around (much to my husband’s chargrin).

 

Today we are going to have a look INSIDE nature at the parts of a flower in a fun hands-on science activity – flower dissection and pollination.

With the recent plight of the disappearing honeybees, some plants and flowers are in danger of not being pollinated.  So I thought this would be a great opportunity for kids to learn more about the process of how plants reproduce.

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As much as I love read aloud sessions with my kids, I also know that I can’t read to them forever – although I’ll certain keep trying ;)

As kids get older, the next logical step in having a ‘book relationship’ with them is to start a laid-back parent-child book club.  

Why continue to read with them as they get older?  

Parent/child reading sessions can be a crucial step in keeping kids reading as they enter their tween and teen years.  It’s also  a wonderful opportunity to kick-off discussions about issues they will face as they get older that they may not readily want to discuss but will happily talk about if it comes up in a story you are reading together.

 

This month, we kicked off our first Mother/Daughter book club!  

It came about as a matter of circumstance – my daughter came home telling me about this ‘awesome book’ the same week that I received an email asking me to review the very book she was “dying to read”.

So I thought I would share our tips for starting your own Mother/Daughter book club along with a free printable and some recommended books you & your daughter might enjoy.

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Did you know that there's a special kids' day coming in May?

Yep -- it's not just the month for Moms but also the month for celebrating at the park!

May 16th is Kids to Parks Day!

 

It's actually the 5th year of this awesome celebration and part of the National Park Trust's goal to get kids outside more often!

And you know how much we LOVE getting outdoors and exploring so we're helping them to celebrate.

Today we're sharing some fun games & activities that are perfect for your next park visit.  Then later in May, we'll be highlighting some of the awesome experiences your family can have during a park visit.

And BONUS -- we have a super giveaway for some park gear too!

 

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This post has been compensated by Collective Bias®, Inc. and its advertiser.

 

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photo credit:  Runnin Srilanken

 

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When it comes to showing Mom just how much you care, putting together a special and personal gift for Mom is so important.

 

 

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Enter the Best Moms Day Ever Sweepstakes for your chance to win a $1000 Walmart gift card!

 

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This week we are beginning our Summer Movies for Kids series!

I know you're looking at the calendar right about now thinking "What?  Summer can't be here already!"

It always sneaks up on us too -- in fact, our kids only have 19 more days of school left until they are officially on summer break (that countdown gives me a bigger jolt that my 2nd cup of coffee on these mornings ;)

One of the resources we have on the website is a master list of kids books that have been made into movies --  more than 100 titles!

I've often used (and recommended) the technique of pairing reading with a movie during the summer -- an incentive to get kids to pick up a book and also (once they've seen the movie) have a great discussion about which they enjoyed more. 

But I know a list of 100 can get overwhelming and with limited time over the summer, you really want to offer kids books & movies that are engaging so they'll want to read more.

So we've narrowed down the list to our top 25 book/movie combos that are perfect for summertime!

 

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A few months ago, I shared my secret to the Best Place to Begin Organizing Your Entire Home.

I wrote the post because I wanted to inspire other busy moms like me to find their starting point when it comes to putting some organzational systems in place.

Amazingly, it's been one of our most read posts this year!

Obviously it's not just me who is working toward a more organized home ;)

So with Mother's Day coming, I thought I would share another post that's "just for Mom" -- even though we all know that anything that's done for Mom actually benefits the whole family ;)

Today we'll look at some AMAZING books that can help us to get control of clutter, make meal planning simplier, inspire us to take time for ourselves and give us more time with our families!

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Happy Earth Day!

I love days like today -- everyone across the globe can celebrate together regardless of their location, religion or beliefs -- because we all love the planet we live on :)

We've already shared a great list of eco-friendly books & websites for kids and also have some easy ideas on how to involved kids in 'going green' at home so I wanted to share something different today.

Since celebrations like Earth Day are about protecting nature, oceans, clean air and all the other great stuff we sometimes take for granted, it's important to help our children find hands-on ways to experience what is happening to the world around us.

 

One of the best ways to offer kids real life opportunities is through Citizen Science Projects where they can learn firsthand what is happening in the world!

I know that the name 'citizen scientist' can sound kind of, well, super research-y but it's really not -- there are hundreds of great projects that any of us can be involved with no matter what our age or background. 

And today, I'm going to introduce you to a dozen family-friendly projects that you can do at home or in your own backyard while teaching the kids about nature, the environment and a little bit of science too!

 

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Wondering how you can take care of your vision and help a child in need of vision care? One in four children has an undiagnosed vision problem.

Right now, when you purchase an individual vision insurance plan from VSP Direct™ for as low as $17/month, a child in need receives a free eye exam and glasses, up to a retail value of $1 million. Find out more at VSPDirect.com/EyeGiveBackThanks to VSP for sponsoring this post.

 

When’s the last time your child has their eyes checked?

If you’re anything like me, I’ll bet you said “at school, when they do the yearly eye check-up”

Every Fall, my kids have the nurse at school give them an eye exam.

Trying to get kids to sit still in the dentist's chair pushes me to my limit but an eye exam?  I didn't think I needed to worry about that until they were much older.

When my daughter was in 3rd grade, she came home one October day announcing that she had “perfect vision”!  

Great!  All was well so I just put it out of my mind and figured we’d have her eyes checked again the following Fall when she was back at school.

Oh, if life were just that easy ...

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