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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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You know when you find those inspirational points where two seemingly unrelated things collide?

Like frozen hot chocolate?! 

You think "Man, I'm not sure how that came together but it just works!"

That's what we have for you with this project -- Science + Craft = Awesomeness!

Today we're combining the science of sun prints with designing your own t-shirt.  It's a super easy activity for kids of all ages and one that will really let their creativity shine through.

Plus it's a great way to introduce a little science and also make a unique t-shirt for back to school (which is happening way too quickly in our neck of the woods -- only 15 more days of summer here).

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Did you have a chance to download the free printables in our 3 Reasons Your Kids Should Start a (Secret) Club post?

Starting a club or fort is a rite of passage for kids -- a statement that says "I'm ready to bond with my peers" if you will.

Kids love the idea of creating their own secret handshake, club badge and map directions!

But maybe the kids aren't sure what kind of a club to start.

It's a good question -- one that takes some thought and a few inspirational reads.

So this week's book list is all about the fun & adventures that happen when you create a club of your own!

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One summer, the kids decided they wanted to start their own club.

A secret club.

"One that only has kids allowed Mom -- you can't come in, okay?"

It's one of those times as a parent when you're excited for the creativity and independence but also a little skeptical about the motive ;)

Since parents have their own little secrets, I thought it was time for the kids to bond a little and this club might be just the thing they needed.

Little did I know it was just the thing I needed too!

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We have a running joke in our house about the 'bigger half'.

My daughter started it when she was younger -- we would ask if she wanted to split a sandwich or cookie with someone and her reply was always "Yes, but I want the bigger half!"

We tried to explain that half meant two equal amounts -- but that didn't go over in her mind.

"Just cut it like this Mommy" as she showed me a line that clearly allowed one part of the item to be larger than the other.

"But that's not half, Honey.  If we split it, than we would both get the same amount."

Her reply -- "Oh, than I don't want half.  I want more." :)

What I realized as a parent is that we introduce the idea of fractions very early in a child's life --

Half a cookie or the slices of a pizza

Counting out an equal number of blocks or legos on a playdate so everyone has equal amounts

Using measuring cups when kids cook with us in the kitchen

All those activities involve fractions but I know that I'm not always the best about pointing out when we are learning with fractions.  So today we're sharing great books & easy hands-on activities that help kids learn about the idea of "parts of a whole" -- and it's part of an awesome month-long series on maths hosted by Peakle Pie & 20 bloggers who love to share unique ideas for math activities!

 

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My husband will be the first to tell you that I'm the brains & braun behind our family vacations.

My family grew up taking trips every summer and I knew I wanted the same for my kids -- getting out to explore the world and seeing some amazing things together!

But I'm also not the most laid-back person when it comes to family travel.  I like to be uber prepared and have a good 'home base' on our trips.

When we first started traveling with kids, I knew staying in a hotel room wasn't going to work for us.  Our oldest was not a heavy sleeper and would wake up (and stay up!) with the littlest noises.  And my husband never got a good night's sleep when the baby was in the room. 

So on our first big family trip, we decided to rent a vacation home -- and we've never looked back!

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Summer travel is the perfect opportunity to inspire the kids to do some writing!

I think downtime during the summer months is really important for kids but I've also seen what happens when they don't pick up a pencil for a few months (yikes!)  It can be a rude awaking when they head back to school so I'm always looking for fun ways to encourage them to write a little throughout the summer.

Since we're heading out on a mega road trip this month, I thought I would include some travel journal pages in our Road Trip Binder (which already has 40+ Free Printable Road Trip Activities you might want to check out!)

And in my search, I can across so many wonderful options that I didn't limit it to just one (I'm never good at narrowing things down ;)

So here's 14 awesomely creative ways to keep kids writing while you travel -- whether you have a child that's 5 or 15!

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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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Many of us are now ‘officially’ on summer break.

For kids, it’s a time for popsicles, pool visits and unscheduled adventures!

For parents, it’s a time to reconnect with our kids who have been trapped in a school building for the better part of the year.  

It’s also a time to think about what we might do together this summer.

Now I’ll bet you’re thinking this is going to be one of those ‘list’ posts – as in, make a summer bucket list or a what we’ll do this summer list.

But it’s not.

Even though that’s a great thing to do – it’s not the ONE thing I want you to do –

Scratch that

It’s the one thing YOUR kids really need you to do this summer.

 

The item I’m talking about only requires a pen, a sticky note and 3 minutes of uninterrupted time ….

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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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