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Recent blog posts

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 wee'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 master a skill 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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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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