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We LOVE scavenger hunts and have shared quite a few --

our Playground Scavenger Hunt is fun throughout the year,

holiday hunts include a Halloween Scavenger hunt and Valentine's Day hunt

and the Zoo Scavenger Hunt is perfect for your next visit to see the animals.

 

Scavenger hunts are a great learning tool -- they help kids to hone their observation skills, practice reading and get out to explore the world.

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While I'm a BIG fan of Halloween and all the fun that goes along with it, I'm always bothered by the amount of candy we accumulate during all the holiday festivities.

Let's see, there's the trick-or-treat event at the zoo (we love the zoo in the Fall!), the kids' class parties, all the "You've been Boo'd" notes we find on our door and then all the candy from Halloween night.

We accumulate a lot of candy -- so much so that we donate quite a bit of it to a local charity.

So I am always on the look-out for some non-candy options -- especially ones that I can use as fun 'treats' for those special kids in my life (my own, neices, nephews, neighbors, etc).

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I've shared before about some of the struggles we had when our kids first started reading independently

If you have kids who are learning to read on their own then you know any parent who makes it through this stage deserves a freakin' medal of honor!

I am not kidding about this -- the loooong sessions on the couch, the tears and yelling "I can't do this", the way the kids will voluntarily offer to clean their room instead of doing 5 minutes of reading homework -- it's all true.

Helping kids learn to read can be one of the most challenging activities a family needs to do.

Did you catch that word?  NEEDS -- yep, a totally necessity.

Because once a child learns to read independently, a whole new world opens up to them!

And that other word - family.

Learning to read independently will not "just happen" during school hours.  It's so important for parents (and every other adult in a child's life) to assist with this activity.

But back to the issue -- learning to read is a struggle.  So how can we make it more enjoyable and entice the kids to WANT to practice?

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We were compensated for this post by Blickenstaff's as part of a campaign with The Mom It Forward Blogger Network and are thrilled to be working with them to share more about family traditions.

 

This is the time of the year when I always revisit our family traditions. 

I don't know if it's the approaching holidays or the fact that the kids are back at school and I yearn for more time together. 

Either way, I always have a goal of re-establishing some of our long standing traditions or creating new ones that fit our lifestyle.

Creating family traditions doesn't have to be any big, elaborate task.  On the contrary, many of our most loved traditions came about because they are simple, enjoyable and stand out in some way.

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

 

Sometimes kids so want to make a difference in the world and do something AMAZING – yet their age can get in the way. 

Like many kids, my daughter is a HUGE animal lover. 

She's in  love with dolphins and whales (yet we live in the middle of the country).  She loves to pet sit for our neighbors (which we do together).  And she’s been asking to volunteer at an animal shelter for the last two years (but is not yet old enough based on their rules).

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I'm not sure if I've ever told you this but I am NOT a morning person.

Really, not at all.

Unlike my husband who's up at 5 every morning (I know!  He's crazy :), I would rather snuggle under the covers in hopes that the world will reconsider it's notion of early starts and just let us all get a little more shut eye.

I'm not the only one who thinks a little more sleep is needed -- have you read the new recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics to let middle school and high school students start their day later

Where's the petition?  I'm signing!

So what do you do to wake up a non-morning person and get her ready for a crazy day?

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

 

I’ve been in a parenting quandary lately.

My oldest is a senior in high school (I know – when the hell did that happen!

And as we are doing college prep and visiting campuses, it’s really hitting me that he will soon be on his own.

Wow!

They just grow up so quickly -- I look at this tall, lanky teen and remember when I would walk him into Kindergarten class.

And now we're walking around college campuses!

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It's time for our AMAZING, AWESOME and INSPIRING ....

Fall Blog Hop and Giveaway!!!!

Yes, it's all very exciting -- 100's of ideas on fun things to do with the kids this Autumn,

great crafts for Halloween,

engaging ways to connect with the kids

AND

$$$$$ (which is always a great thing to have as the holidays approach ;)

I've partnered up with some of my awesome blogging buddies to bring you LOTS of fun ideas for Fall along with a wonderful giveaway which you can enter below.

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I have always loved to do leaf rubbings!

Ever since I was a child, I was fascinated by the instant 'picture' that was created just by covering a leaf with paper and running a crayon over the top.

As I grew to become a nature lover, I realized that a leaf print is much more than just a pretty picture -- it's also a peek into the science of trees.

 

 

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I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Sprint. I received a sample device to facilitate this review and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

 

You know when the stars seem to align and a few things just fall into place at the right time.  Well, that’s just what happened when we received our newest Sprint item to review this month.

 

 

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

 

I know, we all dread them -- the annual requests for fundraisers.

Just this past week, I've received notices about the middle school fundraiser, the choir fundraiser, the Senior class fundraiser and a fall fundraiser.

I'm all for helping the schools to raise money but my time is limited and I don't like to continually ask family and friends to support these causes (heck, they all have kids too).

BUT, there is one fundraiser that I can get behind 100% --

because it doesn't cost me any additional money or time

AND the kids can do it all on their own!

 

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Do you read books from your childhood to your kids?

I think sharing vintage books with kids is an important way to build their love of reading and also share fond memories of how parents and grandparents grew up. 

I've curated a number of book lists sharing classic books for kids over the past year and wanted to bring them all together in one post for easy reference.

 

 

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Time with the kids is precious. 

You really begin to understand this as the kids grow up and especially as those long, relaxing days of summer turn into the more busy back-to-school hours that are beginning this month.

When the kids are born, you have approximately 940 Saturdays together before they fly the coop.  Yes, someone somewhere counted up all those days and we get less than a thousand weekends (really not much when you look at it like that, is it).

When they’re young, “The days are long but the years are short” as Gretchen Rubin would say.  Then they get older and both the days and the years fly by quickly.

I only have 55 more Saturdays with my oldest.

And here’s what’s been eating at me lately --- as the kids get older, their schedule becomes full of things (fun things) that they want to do.  BUT (and it’s a big but), they still REALLY need that time with you!

 

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Wow has summer just flown by or what?!  The kids only have a few more weeks before they start classes here (they are NOT ready to go back) and this is the last topic in our Summer Science series.

If you've missed the previous science projects and booklists, please check out the links at the bottom of the post -- Trisha (Inspiration Laboratories) and I have had such a fun time pulling together hands-ons science and many of the activities can be used year round!

 

 

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Summer Science is back and we are exploring chemistry this week!

We've worked our way through geology, biology, astronomy and physics.  If you've missed any of the science activiites we are sharing along with those from our super cool collaborator Inspiration Laboratories, you can find them all linked below for each of the science areas. 

Chemistry is the area of science that focuses on investigating what makes up matter and how these properties change, combine and interact with one another.  One of the most frequent thoughts when you mention 'chemistry' is some type of bubbling liquid or an explosion in a lab (ahh, the days of high school science class :)  But in today's activity, we are actually going to focus on one of the 'invisible' areas of chemistry!

 

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So many kids love sensory activities!  Touching, squishing and running their fingers through all types of items helps to extend their learning.

But I know it's not always possible to have messy play as an option.  And sometimes, you want to keep the kids guessing with an activity -- they do love surprises.

This game mixes sensory play with logical reasoning skills -- and it can be a fun way for some not-so-messy sensory fun too!

 

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Welcome back to our Summer Science series hosted by Edventures with Kids and Inspiration Laboratories

So far, we've covered biology {books about plants, animals & humans}, geology {rock, volcano and fossil activities} and astronomy {marshmallow constellations}. 

This week, we're focusing on physics and boy, was it hard to narrow down what we wanted to do!  There are so many areas of our lives that are governed by the principles of physics -- like the fact that we don't all just float away due to gravity ;)

 

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I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for Sprint. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and to thank me for participating

There were two things uttered almost immediately when we opened the box for the newest phone review in the Sprint Ambassador program and saw the Kyocera Hydro Vibe Smartphone --

The first was "Man, I wish we had this when my phone went into the washing machine!"

And the second, "This would be the PERFECT first phone for my tween who drops everything" ;)

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Welcome back to our super Summer Science series! 

We are collaborating with Inspiration Laboratories to share some great books and fun hands-on science activities each Wednesday during the summer -- this week's topic is Astronomy.

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Let's face it, no matter how much we'd LOVE for the kids to spend more time outdoors, sometimes it's an uphill battle. 

"But Moooom, it's too hot." (can you hear the whine in that -- oh yeah)

"There's nothing to do outside."

"But I'd rather do {insert any indoor activity that can't be taken outside} -- except for their chores ;)

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Creativity kits for kids!

 

BabbaBox - Activity Box for Kids

 

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