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Recent blog posts

I've got a secret to share with you today!

I'm not really that organized during the summer :)

Ok, that's not really it -- the secret is in how I APPEAR to be organized on those crazy summer days. 

If you've been following The $0 Summer: 105 Ways to Make Memories with the Kids series, you know our goal is to help you focus on more fun and less chaos.  (If you haven't been following along, we'd love for you to join us!)

We had one of THOSE summers a while back -- you know the ones -- every time we would head to the park or the pool or out to an event, something would get left behind.

Like the water bottles or the kids' socks (which you ALWAYS need at play places) or the towel so the kids wouldn't shiver when they got out of the pool. 

Or worse yet, I would forget the snacks!

Ugh!

So I got myself together and put a little system into place -- a very easy system that made my family very happy because we always had what we needed when we needed it (yea!)

Want to know my secret?  And bonus:  it comes with a FREE printable to make your summer less chaotic too :)

 

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I can't believe it's already July!

Man, summer sure can fly by if you're not paying attention ;)

If you have kids, this week will not get past you without them asking about picnics, parades and fireworks!  Which are all reasons to celebrate a little and enjoy some time together.

To keep the fun going all day long, we're sharing a fun & easy sensory craft for the kids -- Fireworks Bottles!

They are awesome to look at and play with PLUS they have a special secret hidden inside.

And because the kids have to wait a little for the secret, we're also include 14 Free Printable 4th of July games & activities (to make the waiting a little more bareable ;)

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Summer is the time to kick back, relax and enjoy those long, don't-need-a-schedule type of days. 

Kids relish in having time to explore, create and head out on a few adventures.  And there's so many wonderful activities that you can only do during summer -- catching fireflies, visiting the fair, enjoy cold treats on a hot day, spending a day near the water and having a lemonade stand.

It's also the perfect time to reconnect with the kids -- those long summer days allow parents and kids more time together to talk and learn about each other.

This week's book list focuses on those popular summer moments & traditions.  We've hand-picked picture books, early readers and chapter books that all share the joy of summertime along with some fun questions to kick-off a few get-to-know-me discussions!

 

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Math is one of those topics that many kids find easier to learn if they can DO something with it. 

Instead of just working problems on a worksheet, learning becomes hands-on when you sort coins, pull out the tape measure or build items that will teach kids about shapes.

There are a TON of things that kids can use to make math fun (our 100 Items to Use to Count to 100 post shares a very large variety) -- and that's our goal:  to make learning fun!

So this month we are teaming up with a wonderful group of bloggers to introduce some super cool items from around the house that can be used in math activities.

What's the super cool item we are using today?

Clothespins!

And we've got 20 fun ways that your kids can practice counting, adding, geometry, fractions and more!

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Every summer, we like to get out and try something new with the kids. 

In my own little world, I have this list of "things I want to  experience with my kids before they grow up and won't be around any more" :)  So each year, I revisit the list and pick something that I think would be fun to try.

Because one of the best parts about family is experiencing something new together!

To inspire you, we're starting a short summer series on the blog -- Outdoor Family Adventures!

My goal is to introduce you to fun and adventurous activities that families will enjoy -- hiking, horseback riding, snorkeling and ...

... today's feature activity -- kayaking!

 

We decided to try kayaking as a family a few years ago and let me tell you, it was an AWESOME hit with the kids!

This is not part of our current $0 Summer series since it does cost a little money but we feel it's well worth it and have continued to enjoy our boat outings on the weekends and during vacations.

Here's a few things we learned about kayaking with the kids including what to bring, where to rent kayaks and how to get started!

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With the first official day of summer coming this week, I sat down to review our summer reading list.

Since I know first hand that it can be somewhat challenging to get those older kids reading during the summer months (or reading something OUTSIDE of their normal 'book type'), I always like to have some go-to chapter books on hand.

One of our favorite genres during the summer are outdoor adventure books -- stories where kids are up against nature and must do some quick thinking and use their survival skills to get through a tough situation.

Those books where kids think "Man, I wish I could have an adventure like that!"

So today's book list is for all those adventurous spirits out there -- both boys & girls -- who wonder what it would be like to be lost in the woods or shipwrecked alone on an island.

Stories like these help our kids to think about how they might 'step up' and handle a challenging situation when there are no adults to lead the way. 

And they're sure to entice and capture the attention of even the most reluctant of readers!

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It's only a week until Dad's special day -- and boy do we have some GREAT {and free!} ideas for the kids to give Dad!

Father's Day is June 21st this year so I thought we would round-up some fun printable activities the kids can print & personalize. 

These aren't regular boring old cards either -- we've found ideas for techie greetings, funny fill-ins and some unique ideas that will make Dad smile.

I hope these make your week a little easier as you get ready to celebrate with 'The Best Dad in the World'!

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Have you ever noticed that normal sized things are boring for kids?

"Want pancakes this morning?" and all I hear is  "Ok."

But if I ask "How about a pancake the size of your plate?", then I hear "AWESOME!"

Yep, size matters to kids ;)

They LOVE things that are super big or super small -- small world play is always a huge hit and creating BIG art is something they can do for hours.

So in keeping with our 105 Ways to Make Memories with the Kids without Spending a Dime theme this summer, we are introducing some VERY BIG activities the kids will really enjoy!

 

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It's June, which means sunshine, swimming pools and a special day for Dad!

When is Father's Day this year? 

Don't worry - you've still got time -- it's June 21st. 

And for the record, my Dad's birthday is the same week so I've been browsing for some fun and unique gifts for a few of the special men in my life. 

Now, my husband will tell you that the best gift any man could get would be an unlimited supply of bacon (and who am I to argue) but I was thinking of something a little better than bacon. 

I know, there's probably not much that's better than bacon but here are a few unique ideas that I think most Dad's will enjoy.

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Sometimes creating fun memories is as simple as celebrating a day together -- so I thought I would share some of the fun & unique June Observation Days that families will enjoy!

It seems that there is a Fun Day celebration for everything under the sun -- Hug your Cat Day or Make a Sandwich Day (odd but true).

And the whole concept of there being days unique observances is a little foreign to kids -- except when they ask you "There's a Mother's Day and a Father's Day, so when is it Kid's Day?" 

Of course, we all answer "Every day is Kid's Day", right ;)

For June, choose a few observation days that fit your family's life -- maybe you're an outdoorsy group and want to do something special for National Get Outdoors Day.

Or maybe your kids LOVE Bomb Pops -- then make National Bomb Pop Day a new family tradition.

In line with our $0 Summer: Fun & Free Ways to Make Memories with the Kids philosophy, it doesn't have to be time-consuming or expensive -- it's the little things that create BIG impressions!

 

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One thing we really enjoy during the summer is finding free places to visit.  

Actually, we like to explore almost anywhere but since we have a summer budget, free outings mean that we are able to visit more places.

You don’t have to travel very far for the kids to feel like they are “on a vacation”.  

I first realized this when they were small and I took them to a pond one morning – we packed a picnic lunch, grabbed our favorite blanket along with a few other fun things that I had stashed in the car and headed out for a few hours.

It’s amazing how much fun kids have exploring the water!

So today we are sharing all the fun things you can do on a trip to the pond, creek or lake – including a great book list, FREE printable list and some great activities everyone will enjoy.

 

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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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