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Recent blog posts

One of the easiest science activities to do with kids is studying rocks and minerals.

If your kids are anything like mine, they bring rocks home in their pockets -- frequently ;)

And you might hear the question "What type of rock is this?"

Today we are combining our Outdoor Science activities and our Simple Science Experiment series to share a fun geology experiment -- Rock Testing for Kids!

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With May the Fourth (be with you!) coming next week, we're teaming up with some geeky blogging friends to share Star Wars activities for everyone!

In addition to being Star Wars fans, we also love cool STEM activities that are related to our favorite movies .

And that's exactly what I told my daughter --

Me:  "Hey, do you want to do a cool Star Wars activity?"

Kid:  "YES!"  She's a fan girl.

Me:  "Ok, grab the calculator and meet me outside."

Kid:  "Yea!  Hey wait, does that mean you're trying to trick me into doing some math?"

Ah, the force is strong in this one :)

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I'm excited to be part of the affiliate team for the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle this year.

If you've ever said to yourself -- 

"I wish I could get laundry under control!"

"Show me a way to spend less time making meals"

"I need help with our homeschooling activities" or

"I just need to get organized and simplify my family's life" --

BAM! There's a book for that!

 

It's a HUGE list of awesome books and resources for one very small price!

And with 93 books in the bundle, you are sure to find at least a dozen that will help you to simplify life as we approach summer.

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It's so important for kids to understand (and appreciate!) geography these days! 

The world has become a much smaller place now that social media has taken a front seat in our lives.  It seems to be a daily discussion at our house -- a current event, the coming of the Olympics, a great photo in my Instagram feed illicits the question "Where is that place?"

And one of my FAVORITE ways to introduce the places & culture from around the world is by using an atlas.

Unlike when we were kids, atlases aren't just a 'boring book of maps' -- they include so many cool details.  In fact, the one item on our 10 Things to do Before Your Next Road Trip list that is so popular with our readers is the Kids' Atlas! 

So sit back, relax and browse some of our favorite books that explore the world along with some fun map activites the kids will love too!

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My kids have this fascination with taking indoor toys outside to play -- trading cards, dolls, building kits -- you name it!

They also think they can bring outdoor toys inside --

basketballs I'll allow but I draw the line at hula hoops ;)

With Earth Day coming up this week, taking some LEGOs outside to build a few of these STEM themed projects seems like a great idea to me!

Today's colorful activities include fun ways to learn about earth science, conservation efforts and other eco-friendly behaviors.

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It seems that no matter where we go lately, there's always some new to see --

baby bunnies, beautiful buds on trees, flowers blooming ...

Plus so many more of our friends and neighbors are getting outside now that the weather's warming up!

So this week's round-up of FREE printable activities includes a variety of Spring Scavenger Hunts and printable games to play outside!

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As a parent, it seems that we're constantly learning new things when it comes to raising our kids.

Take, for example, the year my son began studying for standardized tests (SAT, ACT, etc). 

He attended a review session at school to sit for a practice test which would help him to learn more about the areas he would need to review.  He's a big Math kid but not so crazy about English & grammar, so we knew those would be one area of focus.

Well in addition to the English areas, the practice test also recommended studying problems related to "spatial visualization".

Now I knew what it meant and had read books about spatial intelligence (the ability to transfer a 2-dimensional or 3-dimensional object in your mind's eye) but I had NO IDEA you could do things to improve this skill -- I really just thought that some people were "born with it and other's weren't" so to say.

I started to read about the various ways kids can strengthen their spatial reasoning skills and quickly found out that activities such as building with blocks, LEGO activities and puzzles help to improve spatial intelligence beginning in the preschool years and through the teenage years!

Yep, encourage kids to play, build and create and you're making them smarter (but that's something so many of us parents know already ;)

So today we're going to share a super simple 'brain game' that can help kids of all ages to improve their spatial reasoning and visualization -- and I guarantee you have all the items you need right at home!

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This is one of those week's when sentiment has crept in and taken over.

The first week in April is the anniversary of the passing of two of my grandparents so I always find myself thinking more about them and family at this time of the year.

And it just so happens that I've been reviewing books for our Picture Book of the Day series on Instagram (we have a great group of Kid Lit bloggers who share book recommendations if you're ever looking for some!)

The author of the story we featured this week shared that she "... use(s) bits of my great-grandmother's passport from Lithuania in almost every painting"

Bits. 

Those things that are left to us when people pass on -- family heirlooms, special momentoes and stories.

My grandfather's family was also from Lithuania so this immediately caught my attention.

What bits do I have from him?

And which of those bits have I shared with my kids?

So I immediately started digging through some of my keepsake boxes and books as I thought about the fact that I should be sharing these bits and family stories with my kids more often.

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Spring is the perfect time to introduce your kids to gardening!

It doesn't have to be anything complicated -- a few seeds in a pot or an herb garden on the windowsill is the perfect starter project.  Or even a mini Fairy Garden as a family project!

Gardening offers so many learning opportunities -- understanding how things grow, exploring bugs & worms and the science of plants (botany).  Plus some fun ideas for connecting math and reading with gardening activities too.

Today's round-up of free garden printables will help you to plan your garden, track your plant's growth, learn about plants & seed and even inspire the kids to do some reading too!

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We always love to find easy science experiments that we can do at home!

And when I mean easy, I'm talking the quick set-up with very few items type of science :)

Those types of experiments seem to be plentiful when you're studying botany/nature (like our How does a Leaf Breathe? experiment) or physics (see this Does your Food Float? activity).

But if you want to do a little chemistry with the kids, finding a simple project can be more of a challenge so today's Lemon Battery experiment is one of those pleasant surprises!

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This post is sponsored by the Voice of Play.  We are joining them this month to inspire families to get outside & explore their local playgrounds!

 

Spring is in the air and for so many children that means heading back to the playground!

We've already seen an increase in visitors to our neighborhood playground during our evening walks.  Getting the kids outside to climb, swing and slide is beneficial is so many ways:

It encourages them to be active -- a lifelong skill that we all need to keep in mind ;)

Outdoor play has so many health benefits -- fresh air, development of large motor skills and inspiring a connection with nature are just a few.

And most of all, free play time gives parents the chance to "not be the fun police" :) 

I speak from experience here! 

Letting the kids lose at the playground is the perfect opportunity for them to spread their wings while Mom and Dad watch from afar or build leadership skills as they take charge of a game.  Kids are able to practice their social skills with other children, put their manners into play (taking turns is SUCH an important life skill) and have a safe place to explore without being under the constant eye of their parents.

And it's not all about JUST swinging -- there are so many more fun things to do during your next trip to the playground!

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Today we are linking up with the Storytime Science series to share two of our favorite things -- books & science!

Ironically, the book I'm sharing (which is such an awesome read!) is NOT about one of my favorite things -- BUGS!

When the kids were younger, they would come running in the house to show me a potato bug they found or carry in a worm from the garden.  We would chase fireflies at night and run after butterflies on our walks in the park -- I swear, some weekends there were more bugs than people hanging around on the back deck.

Young kids have a thing for bugs :)

Since I'm not much of a bug person, this is one place where I LOVE using a book to introduce the topic.  PLUS we've got a super free printable Bug Hunt that you can use as you head outside to explore a few new things about your favorite insects!

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When I was younger, Easter was a big family holiday for us -- lots of people over to the house, a HUGE family dinner and new Easter outfits! 

But my favorite part of the whole day was the Easter egg hunt!  I looked forward to it more than the Easter baskets!

My mom would round up a handful of pennies, nickels and dimes (+ one quarter) from my father and distribute the money into a dozen or so plastic eggs. 

Then she would hide them around the house and let my sisiter, brother & I know they were hidden.

That was all it took -- we would hunt and search like crazy!  Oh, to find the egg with the quarter (that was a lot of money for a kid way back when ;) 

Now we live far away from our family so Easter is more of a quiet holiday -- no big meal and it's  just our immediate family but every year, I do an egg hunt for the kids.   

No matter how old they are, or how cold it is or even if we attend an egg hunt at church first -- we still have our family egg hunt at home because I know things like this will build fond memories for them.

So I thought we'd share a super easy Easter Egg Hunt that you can do at your house! 

We have the clues all set up for you along with a few details on how to make it easy for younger kids or nice and challenging for the tweens & teens ;)

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We are not much of a TV watching family but when it comes to new movies, we love going to the theater together!

I think the kids get more excited about the previews for upcoming movies than they do the actually film sometimes ;)

So if you're wondering what great kid & family movies are coming to a theater near you this year -- we've got the list along with some of the awesome trailers and online activities the kids will enjoy while they wait for the film to come out!

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Today we are combining a few of our favorite things -- gardening, fairies and STEM in this month's feature of manipulative play and small worlds for kids!

We've been talking about planting a Fairy Garden for a year now and finally got around to it this month when we celebrated my daughter's birthday. 

She loves the idea of small worlds and we both enjoy gardening so I decided to overlap those activities with a few science, math and even a cool engineering project. 

Come peek inside our Small World Fairy Garden and see how this fun activity will inspire kids to learn too -- plus we have some great resources so you can put together your own fairy garden this Spring!

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Thank you TeamSnap for sponsoring this post & offering a FREE Trial to all of our readers!!

 

I am all about finding ways to make life easier when it comes to organzing the kids' activities and sports schedules!

This is one area that we can all agree has changed BIG TIME since we were kids -- there are so many more opportunities for our kids to get involved with sports teams, scouting, drama, science clubs and the list goes on. 

Of course, we all want our kids to have these fun experiences as teamwork teaches them a lot of great life skills but that does mean that Mom and Dad need to find a way to manage the carpool, coaching commitments, snack sign-ups and game schedules (which can sometimes get overwhelming).

But not any more!  Wait until you see this amazing free app that allows you to organize your child's sports teams, scouting groups and even family vacations!

 

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There's nothing like a game to encourage a child to pick up a book! 

And some of the best books that lend themselves to being turned into a game are those created by Dr. Seuss -- so creative, colorful and full of fun ideas. 

With March being the celebration of Dr. Suess' birthday and such a big reading month, I thought a collection of Dr. Seuss games was in order!

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Nothing says "Spring" like the colors of the rainbow!

And while it's fun to pull out the crayons to make a rainbow, we often prefer something with a tactile or sensory component when we're crafting or creating art.  Like our Fall Texture Art projects for kids , today's activities all involve something more than just coloring on paper. 

So let's get creative with rainbow colors that 'pop'!

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As you can tell by our collection of science experiments & activities,  we do many of them right in our backyard.  This wasn't always the case -- in fact, it came about quite by accident but we now LOVE easy outdoor science activities!

Here's how it all began ...

When my son was younger, we would do quite a few of the projects inside since his little sister was a baby. 

But then one day, I had this 'Mom moment' when I was cleaning up a mess for like the millionth time that week and I just make a "new house rule" -- If it splatters, stains, smokes or stinks, we do it outside!

You know those times when you say something out of desperation because you're not sure how you'll deal with one more mess, right?  Well, kids actually listen sometimes :) 

So the next time we were ready to do an experiment, my son said "Aren't we going to do this in the backyard?"

And that's how Backyard Science began and we haven't looked back! 

I absolutely LOVE it because every Spring, Summer and Fall, we transform the backyard into this AWESOME science lab!  We grab a few of our much-loved outdoor science tools and head outdoors to experiment.

So today I'm going to show you how to create an amazing Backyard Science Lab that will keep the kids inspired to experiment -- all for less than $10!  And we're including 20 FREE science activities & experiments that you can try this year too.

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When my son brought home his Phases of the Moon project from school, he wasn't very happy.

I thought he'd be thrilled with the whole "school permission to stay up past bedtime" :) but instead he was really bothered by the white worksheet with little boxes.

"Mom, the moon is white!  How are we suppose to draw white on white paper?"

"I think they just want you to draw the shape of the moon" I told him.

"Well, that's not much fun."

I could see his point -- as we went out to observe the moon each evening, he would notice some of the details of the various moon phases in addition to just the change of shape.  We knew we could find a better (and more fun!) way to learn about the phases of the moon!

 

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