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Many thanks to Hallmark for sponsoring this post and helping to create communities where all children have the chance to grow up as healthy, productive & caring persons.  All book choices and thoughts are mine alone.

 

Today's book list was inspired by a young lady who fights for quality education for all children around the world.

Malala Yousafzai was 15 when she was shot by the Taliban for attending school in Pakistan.  It was against the law for girls to go to school and yet, every morning Malala would get up and not only get herself to school but encourage other girls in her village to attend as well.  She survived the attack and has since become the youngest Nobel Peace Prize recipient who now travels the world with her father to share their story.

In honor of both Malala & Ziauddin Yousafzai, I wanted to share a book list that will inspire kids to speak up for what they believe, to change the world and to appreciate the opportunity to get an education.

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We are going under the sea today to explore ocean zones , marine animals and more with these amazing STEM ocean activities that are perfect for a little summer learning!

The underwater world is so intriguing to kids (and adults for that matter :)  There's so much we don't yet know about the ocean and it's contents which makes it the perfect subject to intrigue young minds.

If your kids are fans of whales, sharks and the big blue sea, try a few of these hands-on ocean science activities -- perfect for kids of all ages!

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Wet Ones® Hand Wipes. The opinions and text are all mine.

 

My kids are "touchers" -- as in, they always put their hands on things. 

When they were young, I can't tell you how many times I said "Don't touch that one!" -- barbed wire, live animals, dog poop!

Yes, dog poop -- who knew it was such a kid magnet?!

But I did know that letting them touch as many things as they safely could would allow for wonderful learning opportunities!  They've always learned best when they can have a hands-on experience which is a very familiar thing for so many kids.

So when we plan out our summer activities, I love being able to give them lots of sensory experiences!  It's the perfect time to get wet, sticky and try new things -- to paint, walk barefoot and explore the night. 

It's the time of year when I initiate some of our creative family projects and plan some out-of-the-ordinary day trips.

So come explore with us as we share 36 Summer Sensory Experiences: fun ways to inspire kids, tweens & teens to touch, taste, smell, feel and hear the beauty of summertime!

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Every summer, we seem to gravitate toward ocean science projects and learning about the various ocean layers and animals .

My kids have always been fascinated by ocean animals -- probably because we hardly get to visit any large body of water :) 

But this year, we'll be vacationing at the ocean! 

So we are very excited and doing some fun learning activities before our trip.

Today's activity focuses on some under-the-sea science questions that will help your kids understand the five layers of the ocean, who lives there and how light travels -- and it's one amazingly beautiful project!

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I'm always looking for fun ways to integrate a little geography into our lives -- especially hands-on activities that allow us to use maps !

So when our friends from The Educator's Spin on It sent over a copy their new book (an AWESOME collection of learning games), it didn't take much time for us to decide which activity we wanted to showcase:  Mapping Songs from Around the World!

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Today we are introducing our first Printable Activity Pack with TONS of fun summer activities for your kids & I am SO excited about this!

Since we're all about helping to make family life easier while your raise curious kids, we've combined those two goals to create a Summer Printable Activity Pack with activities the kids will LOVE along with time-saving printables for parents!

 

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

 

If you're like our family, this free printable cabin trip packing list is the perfect way to get you organized & out the door!

 

As I've mentioned before, I don't do tents (not a fan of bears & snakes) :)  But when I married my husband, I was well aware that he came from a camping-type family.  The whole tents-in-the-woods boys-peeing-behind-the-tree type of thing.

I prefer a door on my bathroom and a bedroom where I know I won't be visited by wild animals in the middle of the night!

Being such an outdoor family, I knew that we would be planning quite a few vacations in the woods - so we compromised and started looking at cabin rentals and other vacation home rentals when we travel.  And we have LOVED the experience -- all the benefits of the great outdoors with comfy indoor digs for a family!  It's perfect for both sunny & rainy days and we really enjoy having a space to call our own without feeling too cramped like you would in a tent.

Packing for a cabin vacation is a little different than camping (you don't have to bring your 'home' with you) and it's VERY different from a hotel stay (there's usually no front desk clerk to help with things) so today we're sharing some of our tips, tricks and a free Cabin Packing list for all those families who love to 'rough it' with a door between them and the wild :)

 

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Summer's here and that means road trips!  Woohoo!

When I was a kid, my parents would to take us to cool places every summer and I loved getting away from the 'ordinary days' of home life.  Travel allows for adventure, inspires us to explore new places and is a huge learning opportunity for kids!

Seeing new places, reconnecting with the kids, trying to keep everyone happy in a small (sometimes too hot and crowded) area ;)

Just kidding ... you know I LIVE for road trips!

But man, it takes a small army to get a family ready to hit the road -- all that packing, organizing, finding rest stops along the way. 

So we want to help make a little smoothier with these awesome travel hacks and tips that will make your next car trip so much easier & enjoyable!

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This week's theme in our month-long Olympic Activities for Kids series is STEAM activities.

Now I know you're familiar with many of our STEM ideas for kids (science, technology, engineering & math) -- but we don't do a ton of 'A' = Art so I thought we would branch out a little this week.

If we can tie art to science or nature, we love that! 

Like the Sunprint T-shirt we made last summer or zentangle rock craft that's perfect for kids of any age.

Today's Nature Art activity is one that you can do almost anywhere -- building the Olympic Rings using items from nature!

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The Summer Olympics are beginning soon & we're going to make them an AMAZING event for your family!

Besides cheering on your favorite country, we thought it would be fun to create a friendly Learn & Play Summer Olympic Challenge for the kids too.

We've teamed up with an outstanding group of kid-friendly bloggers from around the world to bring you a whole month of Olympic-related crafts, activities, sensory play and fun ways to learn!

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At the end of the school year, I always spend some time stocking up for Summer fun !

I like to do a quick assessment of items that need to be added based on the kids' developmental skills (do we need a bigger bike?  are they ready to try a new activity like hula-hooping?) and also those outdoor supplies that need to be replenished -- like sidewalk chalk!

If I could create a Summer Bag for every kid in the world, one of the first things I would put in is sidewalk chalk -- it's colorful, inexpensive and there are SO many awesome ways to use it!

So play & learn with us today and explore these 27 fun ways to get creative with sidewalk chalk this summer!

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It's May again and that means we're celebrating Kids to Parks Day with a whole slew of AWESOME ideas for games to play & fun activities to do at the parks!

Be sure to visit last year's idea list of 30 Fun Games to Play at the Park for more ways to explore this summer.

And this year is extra special since it's also the 100th Anniversary of the National Park system. 

 

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We're back with our nature buddies for this week's Outdoor STEM Activity -- and since this week's theme is taking technology outside, we thought we'd create an awesome Photo Scavenger Hunt!

This is a super easy idea that will keep the kids both busy & creative on those long "Mom, I'm bored!" days ;)

Plus, Summer is the perfect time for kids to explore something new or learn an independent activity such as photography -- those less-scheduled days allow them more time to pick up a camera and practice.

So grab a camera or smart phone along with our free printable Photo Scavenger Hunt list and let's head outside to explore!

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For years I've been saying that it would be cool to have a sundial in the yard!

First, I operate my 'sundial' time more than by a clock -- you know, the "it's just about the right time" kind of time :)

Hehe :)

No, really it's more for the idea that we've discussed sundials as being both a fun STEM activity and a connection to some of our history discussions (for my Greek-loving, Percy Jackson fan girl -- she loves anything to do with ancient societies!)

For the 31 Days of Outdoor STEM series this month, we constructed a sundial for our back garden using natural items along with a little 'pop' of color!

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Sometimes sitting down with "just a book" can be a little overwhelming for kids.  All those words and pages -- especially if they're just starting to read or not overly crazy about reading.

And then there's the whole sitting part of reading -- not something our kids EVER really did; they would constantly move and always enjoyed having something to do during reading time.

So over the next four weeks, we're going to feature a series of fun books for kids can read with their favorite STEM items!

Today's list includes favorite stories to read with a magnifying glass (think mysteries, nature detectives and hidden pictures!)  -- because who can resist reading a book when you have a cool science tool in your hand, right?!

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Once our kids started school, I quickly realized that time together during the week was going to be VERY limited.

They don't get home until 3:30 pm here -- and of course there are days when afterschool activities take place, plus homework, dinner prep, gathering things for the next day and bath or shower.

Which leaves a small window of opportunity to touch base and see how life's going for everyone.

And that time to connect is so important! 

But yet, asking them "So, how was your day?" is usually met with "Fine." or in our case "It was schooly."

Yes, my kids resort to making up new words to throw me off :)

I'm on to their tricks and have a few of my own to get them talking and turn a somewhat boring afternoon into an AWESOME time to connect!

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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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