Animal Observation Activities: Tips for Teaching a Child to Focus & Listen

Today we're going to talk about how to help your child increase their attention span.

I know, we can all use practice with that, right?  It's the age we live in -- things move so fast and kids don't have the time they need to process their experiences. 

However, that processing time is crucial to their development! 

The article -- What Helps Kids Focus Better & Why They Need Help -- is a must read for any parent or educator!  Research has shown us that kids will learn best when they can focus and maintain attention to a task.  BUT that doesn't just come naturally to children -- we have to give them opportunities to practice and build this skill.

And one of the ways to do this is to inspire kids with a fun outdoor adventure!

There are a number of benefits to getting kids more time outside -- it increases creativity, reduces stress, allows them to build their imagination --

and gives them an opportunity to focus and expand their attention span!

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55+ FREE Pumpkin Carving Stencils for Kids & Teens

Looking to create a pumpkin that reminds you of Star Wars, IronMan, the LEGO movie or even Game of Thrones?  Try this awesome list of stencils for the most awesome pumpkin carving ever!

Every year, we have a family pumpkin carving session for Halloween -- like many families, it's one of those holiday traditions you look forward to (along with toasting those yummy seeds!)

The kids love to find pumpkin stencils for their favorite book or movie character each year.

We know first hand that it can sometimes take longer to FIND the right stencil than actually carve the pumpkin ;)  Last year, we looked for more than an hour to find a really great Ironman stencil. 

Our last 100 FREE Pumpkin Carving Stencils was so popular, I thought we should share some *NEW* ideas so you can quickly find the cool patterns you'll need to carve the most awesome pumpkin ever!

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The BEST Halloween Decoration: Ideas for the Front Porch and Trunk or Treat Event

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias and its advertiser. All opinions & design ideas are mine alone. #TrickOrSweet #CollectiveBias

 

Every Halloween, we run into the same dilemma -- who will hand out the candy at our house?!

It all started the first Halloween BOTH the kids were old enough to trick or treat.  As we dressed to head out the door, my son asked "But if we all go, who will hand out the candy?"

We told him it would be fine if we were gone for a little while but it wasn't fine for him --

"What if my friends come while we're gone?  They won't think we do Halloween!"

Hmmm....it certainly is a dilemma.  We love heading out with the kids on Halloween night and visiting with the neighbors.  But I also like all the neighborhood kids to be excited when they stop by our house and not see a dark porch.

So we needed to create a good way to hand out the candy while we were off enjoying ourselves.

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50 FREE Forest Animal Crafts & Activities

When I was a child, I can remember spending HOURS exploring the woods behind our house.

My brother, sister and I (along with our neighborhood friends) would hike back to this forested area and walk through the creek, play games and hope to encounter all types of woodland animals.

During the summer, we would head out after breakfast and come back tired & hungry for a late lunch.  The woods were a special place -- so colorful in the Fall, mysteriously quiet in the winter, full of life during Spring and a cool respite during those hot Summer days.

We thought we were explorers!

And as a parent, I was reminded this summer that these moments of childhood are experienced by each generation.  During our marathon summer road trip, we spent a few days at Gran & Pop's house which is located on 4.5 acres of wooded property.

Each morning, the kids would say "We're going back to the creek" or "We're taking the path through the woods to explore" -- words that reminded me how every child is drawn to the forest.

So today we're going to kick-off a short series focused on Forest Adventures! 

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Halloween Glitter Glow Sensory Craft

I want to introduce you to our newest craft project -- we call them Frank, Pete & Mike :)

What else would you call a monster, pumpkin and mummy, right?

We loved making the Halloween Salt-dough Glitter Garland last year so I thought we'd try our hand at another glittery Halloween craft.

But we uped the anty with these -- we wanted something that was not only fun to make but was also interactive and had a sensory component to it.

Not to mention their awesome ability to go from day to night so the kids can enjoy it 24/7 -- they can even be used as a fun nightlight during the Halloween season :)

 

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40 Family-friendly Fall Activities

This Fall, we want to continue to inspire families to connect & make memories together with a great list of Fall activities you'll love! 

Do you know what I love about the Fall and Halloween season?

I adore the fact that adults enjoy it just as much as the kids!  I think so many of us are kids at heart -- heading to the pumpkin patch, the idea of dressing up, a hike in the woods and who doesn't love candy ;)

I know firsthand that it can be a busy time -- school events, sports practices, shorter days and things that need to get done around the house.  My husband & I were just lamenting that it's hard to find time to unwind as a family.  I firmly believe that you have to carve out time to connect -- otherwise those everday tasks begin to take over.

As with The $0 Summer activities that we shared over the past few months, our goal is to help you find free or low cost ideas for family fun this Fall -- and today, we have 40 fun ways you can get out & enjoy life together!

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Name that Tree! Using Leaves & Seeds for Tree Identification

Do you know the saying "A picture's worth a thousand words"?

If that's the case, I'm going to tell you that a hands-on science activity answers 1,000 questions :)

Giving kids a way to get up close while learning helps provide the details for all the "why is this happening?" and "what does that mean?" questions that they ask as while exploring the world. 

Today we have both for you -- a few pictures along with an awesome & easy hands-on activity that's worth it's weight in gold!

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18 Leaf Science Experiments & Crafts

Fall is the season for leaf crafts, leaf science experiments & more colorful outdoor learning!

You know me -- I'm all about EASY when it comes to projects and what's easier than walking out your door and rounding up a handful of leaves ;)

And although we adore leaf rubbings and 'match the leaf' games, there's really so much more you can explore & do with leaves!

So send the kids out on a quick romp around the yard or park to grab some leafy friends, head back home and enjoy a few of these leaf crafts and science experiments.

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Science & Art: The Four Seasons of a Tree

Seasonal art projects for kids that highlight the life cycle of a tree.

Fall is starting this week (yea!) so we wanted to celebrate with a fun seasonal activity!

When the seasons change, it's a wonderful time to introduce kids to the science behind nature.  For example, leaf rubbings are a great way to explore the parts of a leaf in addition to being a timeless seasonal craft.

It's also the perfect time to pull out some seasonal books like these 14 Cozy Fall Books Kids Love!

And with all the colors we experience in the Fall, it's also a great time for some art fun.

Today I want to tie all those together -- book + science + art = Awesome Autumn Activity!

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Fall Learning Themes for Preschool & Early Elementary Kids

Autumn is the the perfect time to use fall learning themes to inspire learning and exploration!

Kids can have very definite likes and desires when it comes to acquiring new knowledge even at a young age.  As many people will say “they are just a sponge waiting to soak up all that knowledge”!

I love using themed learning with children of all ages but especially with kids ages 3 - 10 years old! 

Truth be told, I still use this technique with my older kids too but allow them to choose many of the resources along with the themes.

The goal of a theme-based learning is to offer your child an in-depth experience that allows them to explore a variety of areas  (science, art, sensory, reading, etc) all focused on a theme they love!

For example, if you have a child who's nuts about dinosaurs, you would focus on books, puzzles, activities and even an outing where they could expore that theme.  And during Fall, seasonal learning is the best!

If you haven't tried this yet, you'll be AMAZED at how much your kids will enjoy it!

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Non-scary Pirate Books & Movies for Kids

Did you know September 19th is International Talk like a Pirate Day? 

Aarrghhh!

The perfect day to have some fun searching for hidden 'treasure', playing dress-up, reading a few good books and even enjoying a family movie together.

And we have everything you'll need for this fun day in our Kids Activities Pirate Blog Hop including some great crafts, fun activities and not-so-scary books & movies the whole family will enjoy!

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Easy Nature Craft for Kids: Zentangle Rocks

I've learned a few things over the years when it comes to getting kids to talk & share --

First, a good snack goes a long way ;) 

And second, kids are more likely to open up when they are preoccupied in an activity WITH an adult.

If you're doing something (like prepping dinner or checking email) while trying to have a conversation with the kids, you'll probably hear a lot of "Good." or "Fine." when you ask about their day.

BUT -- if you're both engaged in an easy & quiet activity (like a fun scavenger hunt or an easy art project) you'll be amazed at how much kids are willing to share.

Enter Zentangle Rocks!

Have you ever zentangled before? 

It's so easy, lots of fun and actually a very relaxing way to spend some time together.

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18 Autumn Scavenger Hunts for Kids {w/free printable}

Enjoy Autumn with this awesome collection of Fall Scavenger Hunts for kids that will inspire you to get out & explore this season!

Do you know what I love most about Fall?

I mean aside from the beautiful foliage, super easy leaf activities that kids love to do and the fact that I can pull out a few of my favorite sweaters :)

I love that Fall has four mini-seasons -- it's the one time of year where I feel like there's a new start to the world every few weeks.  Think about it, many of us consider the back-to-school time as early fall -- warmer days followed by cooler evenings.  Outdoor play sessions begin to shift to the late afternoon and nighttime walks reward us with a peek into nocturnal life.

Then the weather shifts and Part 2 of Fall begins -- cooler days and nights, plus the gorgeous leaves that begin to change.  Enter leaf crafts, trips to the pumpkin patch and so many fun outdoor activities!

The next two 'seasons of Fall focus around holidays -- there's Halloween season followed by Thanksgiving.  The environment around us seems to move from cool & creepy to quiet & grateful overnight.

And with all this change, there is so much to observe & enjoy at this time of the year -- it's a wonderful time to head out on a scavenger hunt, or two, or 18!

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Care Package Ideas for College Students

Great ideas for things to include in a care package for college students!

Our son went away to college to begin his Freshman year last week. Amazingly enough, we fit everything he needed in the car, drove 900 miles to drop him off, helped him get his room set up and then turned around and drove home.

And when I say 'went away to college', I mean FAR away – 906 miles away according to the Garmin.

As we walked in the door after our trip, I saw his checkbook on the kitchen table.

The same checkbook he needed to have with him on campus.

The campus that’s 906 miles away (so not like he’ll be able to pick it up when he’s home one weekend).

 

Then came the first phone call -- two days later.

All was well, no worries there – it was just the ‘I forgot my gym bag too'.

As a parent who packed the majority of the car, I really can’t believe we forgot anything!

So enter our first college care package -- here are a few ideas on things to send along with affiliate links for items we love to have on hand and what to consider before mailing the package. 

PLUS, a free printable list to help you brainstorm ways to make dorm life a little more home-y!

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20 Owl Crafts for Kids to Make

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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