Ways to Avoid Spoiling Your Kids This Christmas

11 Ways to Avoid Spoiling Your Kids This Christmas

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This post may contain advertisements and/or links for products and services that I value. I offer recommendations to products and/or services that I find helpful in my own life as a mom. I may receive a commission based on viewer purchases or interactions with these ads. You will NOT be charged any extra money. All prices will stay the same for you whether your purchase items/services through links found on this site or not! 

Updated 2/13/2019

TRIVIA: How much money does the average American spend on Christmas gifts and treats? Scroll to the bottom of the post to find the answer!

My daughter is just getting old enough to really appreciate Christmas.

It’s really exciting- Santa finally means something, she’s getting involved in decorating and making cookies, and she’s really looking forward to Christmas day.

That being said, I’ve realized that with her age comes a new challenge for me. I’ve always heard it said (and I strongly believe this) that you can’t spoil a baby. They cry for what they need, and adults fill their needs. Done.

But as children get older, moms and dads have to think a little more. We have to get more intentional in our daily interactions with our children.

Parenting becomes more than just filling their needs.

So I’ve started to ask myself this question- “How do I give my little girl an amazing, magical Christmas… without spoiling her rotten?”

Of course, I don’t have all the answers… So I’ve been conducting a poll of moms that I trust and respect. This list of 11 great ideas to avoid spoiling your kids came from women much wiser than me.

I hope their advice helps you like it helped me!

What do you do to avoid spoiling your children at Christmas each year? Comment below!

shallow focus photography of red bauble on christmas tree

1)Giving As Well As Getting

Even the youngest children can give at Christmas.

Helping a child learn to share love and joy teaches them what Christmas is really for. Here’s a few ideas to get your child involved in giving:

  • Donate old toys to a hospital, homeless shelter, a church, or to needy families.
  • Allow each child to make something to give to their siblings, for their parents, or for neighbors.
  • Make treats and bring them to friends and neighbors.
  • Give each child $1-5 to spend at the Dollar Store for siblings, a friend, teachers, church leaders, or neighbors.
  • Leave food, clothes, toys, and household items for needy families– without them knowing who left them! It’s great for children to learn to give even without any recognition.
  • Sing carols to the elderly at retirement homes or to sick children in the hospital.
  • Participate in 25 acts of kindness, one each day of December until Christmas Day.
  • Help mom and dad in Christmas preparations.

assorted cookie lot

2)Give Experiences

Who says gifts have to be things??

I’ve heard some awesome non-item presents that brought amazing memories. Some even taught valuable skills for long-term benefit!

  • Give classes or lessons to learn a new skill. Someone in your family could learn:
    • how to cook,
    • how to play a musical instrument,
    • how to play a sport,
    • sewing,
    • canning,
    • gardening,
    • blogging,
    • parenting,
    • birthing class,
    • etc. Give the gift of knowledge!
  • Give a family vacation. This could be a trip to Hawaii, tickets to Disneyland or Six Flags, a cruise, or go see the Grand Canyon!
  • Give a new experience. Try snorkeling, snowmobiling, participate in an escape room, or a science kit- something you’ve never done before!
  • Give supplies needed to try a new skill. This could be charcoal or acrylic paint to try a new medium, or a scrapbook, or a sewing machine, or track cleats, or football pads.
  • Give something that the family can do together every day. Maybe a board game, or a card game, or a trampoline, or soccer goals, or Corn-hole, or camping gear.

girl playing beside body of water during daytime

3) Limit Filler Gifts

I had no idea how many “filler gifts” I buy every year.

Filler Gifts are the things that don’t really matter… they are just extras to fill a stocking up to the brim. They aren’t really necessary, and they are the quickest things to be forgotten after the holiday is over.

Who needs them?

Nobody!

Save your pennies. Instead of buying filler gifts, use the money somewhere useful.

You could:

  • get your child one more meaningful gift,
  • donate the money to a charity,
  • use it to help a neighbor who can’t afford much this year,
  • use it for a fun family experience,
  • or just save it for a rainy day.

four red-and-white Christmas stockings

4) Family Gift

If you want to treat your kids to something fun… but expensive… like a trampoline, or a basketball hoop, or a ping pong table, go for it!

But there are problems with gifting large presents to just one person. If you give one person a big expensive gift,then you’d have to get something big for each person, and that gets expensive and overwhelming fast.

Instead, make it a gift to the whole family! Something everyone can use and love!!


More Great Reads: 

Mamma’s Turkey Tips for Beginners (Like Me)

Gifts For Kids (Ages 0-18) That Will Meet Their Developmental Needs

When Life Is On A Parent’s Side- Taking Advantage of Natural Consequences

Creative Ways to Save Money

Mom and Daughter Spa Day!

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5) Something To Do, Something To Read, Something You Want, Something You Need

This is an awesome rhyme that organizes types of presents into categories.

I hadn’t really thought about it before, but there are tons of categories of gifts you could get a person. Something they wear, something they create, something they eat…

There are lots of variations of this, but the concept is the same.

It’s a great help to moms and dads to remember that presents can be more than just the “something you want” category. By purchasing gifts in many categories, you fill many needs and still fill some wants.

6) Add The Wow Factor

Remember Christmases from your childhood?

What are your favorite memories?

For me, I can only remember one or two actual gifts. Most of my memories are of the special things my parents did to make Christmas exciting!

  • I remember the Christmas countdowns that built excitement and suspense for the big day!
  • I remember making cookies and writing notes to Santa.
  • I remember hearing jingle bells outside and wondering if it was Santa Claus!
  • I remember decorating the tree, hanging stockings, putting lights on the house, and creating an ambiance of Christmas.
  • I remember making ornaments and crafts. I was so proud to see them hanging on the tree.
  • I remember going to the forest to choose the perfect tree to bring home. It was a lot of hiking in the snow, but we loved every second of it!
  • I remember sledding and building snowmen on Christmas. Then dad would always start a snowball fight. 
  • I remember the books we read and the movies we watched every year– like Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and Frosty The Snowman.
  • I remember acting out the Nativity scene every Christmas eve.
  • I remember the big meals with family and lots, lots, lots of treats!

I guess the point is that Christmas gifts can be more than just things.

One mom told the story of a Christmas scavenger hunt! Her mom left her clues throughout the house that led to one special toy that was hidden. She couldn’t remember what the toy was, but she remembered the scavenger hunt!

One mom told the story of various colors of string looped all over the house. Each child had one color of yarn to follow. They had to wind and climb and loop and twist to find their special Christmas surprise at the end of the string.

Experiences add to the wonder and fun of Christmas, without breaking the bank!

Santa Claus riding snowboard

7) Make Gifts Special

Keep gifts special and exciting by limiting gift giving during the year to special occasions, like birthdays and holidays.

The novelty wears off if children receive gifts frequently. It’s like eating a family-size bag of M&M’s. It’s delicious at first, but the more M&M’s you eat, the more used to them you get, until eventually you’ve had enough M&M’s and you want something different to eat.

Now that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy that special thing when you see it (especially if it’s on sale!!!)

Some parents buy presents all year long and keep them hidden until birthdays or Christmas! This spreads out the cost- making Christmas less of a financial stress so that you can just focus on the joy of the season.


Resources:

Click the Images Below!

-6 Pair Christmas Socks

-A Pentatonix Christmas

-How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Book)

-Merry Christmas Burlap Banner

-Elf

-Children’s Nativity

-Merry Christmas Door Sign

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8) Set a Dollar Limit or Limit the Number of Gifts You Purchase Per Person

Everyone loves to give and give and give.

It’s so exciting to see something in the store and imagine how your child’s face will light up when he sees it!!! It’s almost irresistible.

Setting a reasonable limit for your family will help you keep yourself in check. It also keeps things fair between each child.

person holding red and brown gift box infront of Christmas tree inside the room

9) If You Can Help It- Don’t Backpedal

Each parent has a chance while their kids are little to make Christmas a magical experience no matter if the child gets one present, ten presents, or no presents at all.

That being said, it’s tough to give a child twenty presents one year and then have to cut back to fifteen- or ten, or five- the next year.

The child might not understand what changed and why. If you can help it, it’s better to find a happy medium early on and stick to it.

person holding ball

10) Things Don’t Spoil Kids, Parenting Spoils Kids

This is my favorite bit of advice that I received from these wise moms.

The gifts you buy don’t have to spoil kids- as long as parents teach them the value of the things they have.

  • Teach them to take care of the gifts they get.
  • Teach them to be grateful.
  • Teach them how blessed they are to have people who love them so much that they give them gifts.
  • Teach them that those people worked very hard to get the money to buy the gifts.
  • Teach them to say, “Thank You”.
  • Teach them to become generous themselves.

boy holding Holy Bible

11) Don’t Worry About It Too Much

Christmas is so magical for cute little kids!

And they’re only young once.

So they might as well have some wonderful memories.

Of course, there’s a balance. No need to break the bank or get so much that your kids are swimming in Christmas barf.

But have some fun too.

What do you do to avoid spoiling your children at Christmas each year? Comment below!

green and red Christmas tree near yellow neon light

Enjoy your Christmas this year- and enjoy your sons and daughters while they are little!

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

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Trivia Answer: The average Amercian spends $700 on Christmas gifts and treats.

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How to Create and Implement a Kick Ass Chore Chart

5 Steps to Create and Implement a Kick @$$ Chore Chart

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Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

This post may contain advertisements and/or links for products and services that I value. I offer recommendations to products and/or services that I find helpful in my own life as a mom. I may receive a commission based on viewer purchases or interactions with these ads. You will NOT be charged any extra money. All prices will stay the same for you whether your purchase items/services through links found on this site or not! 

Updated: 2/12/2019

Chore charts are a great teaching tool for parents to use.

Children can learn:

  • responsibility,
  • hard work,
  • independence,
  • self-help skills,
  • empathy for the work that their parents do around the house,
  • understanding of how their messes impact the family,
  • confidence in their own abilities,
  • the relationship between our actions and consequences of our actions (cause and effect),
  • the joy of living in a clean space,
  • how to handle frustration,
  • the joy and pride of accomplishing something difficult,
  • and much more!

Children learn that they are part of a family and that means that they need to give back to support the well being of others around them.  

Each family handles the work load differently. It’s tough to know which method to use or who to ask for advice because your family has its own unique needs and circumstances.

Unique needs call for unique methods.

Here are 5 things to keep in mind as you are deciding how to best implement chore charts in your home… as well as some examples of my favorite chore charts.

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1) Too Big for your Britches

Development and age play a major role in a child’s capability to complete chores.

  • Younger children (2-5 years old) have shorter attention spans. They should be expected to complete simple chores that do not require much time (around 2-5 minutes- usually around 1 minute per year of age).
  • As children get older (6-12 years old), they are able to handle more time and focus on a chore (around 15 minutes at a time, again slowly increasing the time spent as they get older).
  • Teenagers should be able to complete complex chores and tasks around the home that may take much longer, such as laundry.
    • They are able to use deductive reasoning to see what needs to get done and follow through with the necessary tasks using time management skills. They should be independent in thinking through chores and taking care of their own areas/belongings. Teenagers with this skill will be capable of managing a home, apartment, or dorm on their own when they move out in a few years.

Choose chores carefully based on your child’s capabilities.

Don’t expect a child to do as much work as an adult would do or the same quality of work that an adult would do. Remember, you are teaching valuable life lessons, even if there are a few streaks left on the bathroom mirror.

Click the image below for a great magnetic chore chart that comes with many chore options for your convenience!
Melissa & Doug Magnetic Responsibility and Chore Chart, Developmental Toys, Encourages Good Behavior, 90 Pieces, 15.75” H x 11.75” W x 0.5” L

2) The Plateau Effect

On the other hand, we don’t want to make chores too easy.

Sometimes, parents implement a perfectly appropriate chore for a child, such as a 5 year old wiping down the kitchen table before dinner. The chore fits the child well and works well for the family.

But, as the child gets older, it’s the parents’ duty to increase the difficulty level.

Fight the rhythm of daily life- don’t get into a routine and forget to do this.

I call it the Plateau Effect. The child continues wiping down the table when she is 7, then 9, then 12. No new chores are added. No new skills are learned. The child is more resistant to learning new chores because all she has ever been asked to do is wipe down the table.

toddler's standing in front of beige concrete stair

Avoid the Plateau Effect by slowly adding chores to a child’s repertoire.

Remember that a child needs to know how to fully care for a house by the time they move out (let’s assume that’s at age 18). That means, you should be teaching each skill needed before that time.

Not only do they need to be able to wipe down the table, but they need to know how to sweep the floor, how to fold clothes, how to run the vacuum, how to dust, how to wash windows…. Everything.

Does your teenager know how to do laundry? How to clean a bathroom? How to organize their belongings?

Switch up a child’s expected chores so that they can experience all aspects of caring for a living space. Each time you change it up, expect to spend a little quality time teaching the child the necessary skills for the new task.  Then slowly fade yourself away, offering less and less coaching as the child figures gets better at the new chore.

Slowly increase the difficulty of chores or expect a more thorough completion of the chore throughout childhood until a teenager is capable of completing all the necessary tasks to live on their own- and can do each task well.

  • Example: If you ask a child to clean the bathroom at age 5, he picking up his bath toys.
  • By age 6, teach him how to pick up his bath toys and take out the bathroom trash.
  • By age 7, teach him how to pick up his bath toys, take out the bathroom trash, and wipe down the counter top.
  • By age 8, teach him to put away any stray objects in the bathroom, take out the bathroom trash, wipe down the counter top, and clean the toilet.

Click the image below for a chore chart intended for older children!
Chore Magnets for Older Kids (30 piece set)

3) Spruce It Up

Here are some of my top favorite chore chart ideas to make things a little more fun… and increase cooperation!

  • Let the kids make choices. This is a great way to decrease resistance to chores by allowing the child to take some responsibility. It helps the child feel heard and valued as a member of the family. They take more pride and responsibility when they get to have a say.
    • Some parents allow the child to choose which chores are on the chart and then the parent assigns a chore off the list each day.
    • Some parents choose the chores on the list and the child chooses a chore each day.
    • Some parents allow the child to choose one chore and the parent assigns one chore each day.
    • Some parents choose the chore, but allow the child to choose any time of the day to complete their chore. Some parents need to assign a specific chore time to make sure it gets done.
  • Make it a spinning wheel of chores. Whatever chore the wheel lands on is the one you complete!
  • Make it colorful and add cute pictures. Not all kids will respond to this, but some will like the chart more if it is visually appealing.
  • Add fun rewards- like music, a fun outing, tickling, a treat, a game, time using electronics, time with friends, one-on-one time with a parent, a small toy, stickers, or anything else your child is excited about! It doesn’t have to be expensive, it just has to be fun! 
    • The reward should match the job done. If it was an easy job, the child should only receive a small reward. If it was a difficult chore or the child completed chores for an extended period of time, they can earn a larger reward.
  • Work alongside the child. This makes cleaning more fun, but it also teaches the child that you also work hard. This develops empathy in the child for the things you do around the house every day. It also shows the child that you are fair. You are willing to work hard too.
  • Try chore sticks! Click the image below!

Creative QT Chore Sticks for Kids – Make Chores a Game – Interactive Family Activity Combine Responsibility with Rewards – A Fun Alternative to a Chore Chart

  • Include all siblings in some degree. Again, this shows that you are fair as a parent. It also teaches each child the valuable lessons from participating in chores rather than just one child. Don’t make the mistake of letting the oldest do all the work!

Click the image below for multi- child chore chart! 2-3 kids can participate using this chart!
Multiple Kid Chore Chart for 2 or 3 kids use Dry Erase markers many themes

  • Make it a competition. Let’s see who can do their chore the fastest, or who can get the windows the cleanest, or who can throw trash into the trashcan like a basketball hoop, etc.
  • Break it down. If a new chore is too difficult for a child, teach pieces at a time and offer small rewards throughout. For example, if a child’s chore is cleaning the bathroom, you might teach him how to clean the toilet one day, then the next day teach him how to clean the sink, then the mirror, then the tub. Eventually, he’ll be able to clean the whole bathroom on his own!
  • Have a dance party while cleaning!
  • Set a timer. Some kids respond better when they know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Rather than cleaning until a particular task is done, children can clean until a timer goes off. The parent will need to decide if the timer signals the end of chore time or if it is just a break from chore time for a while.
    • Make sure the child does not get in the habit of cleaning slowly just to run down the clock!
  • Limit how many toys children have out at once to make the mess less overwhelming!
  • Clean often. Have a nightly pick up that involves the whole family. It goes fast with so many helpers, and it keeps the mess manageable. No buildup!
  • Let kids use tools. Cleaning tools, that is. It’s fun to try to work the vacuum, or use a duster, or a sponge, or play with soap spuds.

Click the image below to purchase child sized cleaning supplies!!
Melissa & Doug, Let’s Play House! Dust! Sweep! Mop! Pretend Play Set, 6-piece, Kid-Sized with Housekeeping Broom, Mop, Duster and Organizing Stand for Skill- and Confidence-Building

  • Get an app for that! Click the image below for a fun chore app that will help your kids enjoy chore time!

ChoreMonster

4) The Nitty Gritty Daily Challenges

  • Get into a Routine and Stick to It 

Once you have decided on a system that works for your family, stick with it!

Children tend to resist change at first, so they might not like the new chores that they are being asked to do. The more you apply your chore chart consistently, the less resistance you will face.

But if you cave here and there, you’ll have to fight that battle all over again from the beginning. Again. And again. And again… each time you try to get your kids’ help around the house.

Stick to your guns. It’s easier in the end. 

Click the image below!
My Responsibility Chart, Magnetic Dry Erase Wooden Chore Chart with Storage Bag, 24 Goals and 56 Reward Stars by Imagination Generation

  • Let Children Know What to Expect

It is easier for children to comply with parent demands when they can anticipate them.

Adults are the same way. Imagine your boss randomly changed your duties on the job and expected you to complete whatever task he threw at you at any time. That would be stressful and frustrating!

It’s easier to know what your day at work will look like. You know what your boss expects and what tasks you will complete.

Make things easier on your kids. Let them know what’s coming by keeping the routine the same and telling them of any changes to the routine as soon as possible.

  • Heads Up for the Kids

Don’t let chore time sneak up on your kids. Give them warnings beforehand. You can say things like “In 10 minutes we will start chores. Now there’s 3 minutes left. Now I’ll count down- 5, 4, 3, 2, 1- Chore time!!”

person holding white mini bell alarmclock

These warnings help kids anticipate when they will need to transition from whatever they were doing into a new task.

This can decrease frustration and tantrums because it allows kids to finish up whatever they are doing. It also allows them to prepare mentally to do something they don’t want to do.

  • Fight the Temptation to do the Work Yourself 

We all know that a kid’s attempt to clean the bathroom, or wipe down the table, or make a bed isn’t perfect. They try their best, but adults are just better at this stuff. We’ve had more practice after all.

Parents often have a specific way in mind that they like things done, and that’s even harder for a child to live up to.

Resist the temptation to fix your child’s work to make it “your way” or to make it perfect. This sends the message that the child did not do it right and that their hard work isn’t good enough for you.

person wearing gloves cleaning toilet bowl

If you really struggle with the child’s level of completion, complete the task side by side with your child.

  • Praise the things they do right.
  • Offer gentle guidance to teach them how to improve things that need work.
  • Slowly decrease the level of help that you are offering your child until they are able to do it all on their own.

This method takes time and patience, but it builds a child’s confidence and abilities rather than bringing them down.

5) Make it Happen!

This is the nitty gritty, get it done, just keep swimming, nuts and bolts, hard work of it all.

Now it’s your job as the parent to follow through and keep the system in place.

There’s nothing to say to make it easier... Except that you’re a rockin’ mama and you’ve got this!!! Good luck!

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

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Vital Lessons to Teach Children About Finances Before Age 7

A Millionaire in the Making- 5 Vital Lessons to Teach Children About Finances Before Age 7

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This post may contain advertisements and/or links for products and services that I value. I offer recommendations to products and/or services that I find helpful in my own life as a mom. I may receive a commission based on viewer purchases or interactions with these ads. You will NOT be charged any extra money. All prices will stay the same for you whether your purchase items/services through links found on this site or not! 

Updated 2/9/2019

Every parent wants to raise a child to be a responsible adult.

One of the biggest challenges for parents is teaching kids how to use their money wisely. The ability to do this will determine if your child can:

  • budget to get through college,
  • provide for their family,
  • get a house,
  • stay out of unnecessary debt,
  • if they are comfortable or stressed,
  • and if they are in control of their lives.

The importance of teaching children about money cannot be over-stressed.

So how do you teach a child to be smart with his or her money?

Preparation For Parents: Get in the Right Mindset

First- Parents, let’s level with each other.

Money and kids are tough topics to discuss together. That’s because money is kind of a tough, unforgiving fact of life. And it’s your baby that we’re talking about!

It can be difficult for parents to ask their kids to do anything, well, difficult. Like deal with money.

Remember that you have a limited time to teach your child necessary skills before they are thrown to the cold, heartless world. Either you can teach them what they need to know, or life will teach them. And life is a B!*&#.

woman crossing highway during nighttime

It’s much better for your child to learn from you, not from life. You love them, you’re patient, you can give them second chances. Life won’t show any love or patience. They might get second chances, but only with extreme consequences- like bankruptcy, bad credit, and debt.

Lots of people assume that teaching about money can wait until their kids are older. After all, who wants to think about money beyond the day to day grind of saving, earning, and spending?

But, don’t waste time! Research shows that children form money habits by 7 years old. (See ‘Habit Forming and Learning in Young Children’, Dr. David Whitebread and Dr. Sue Bingham)

Let me say that again…. 7 years old!!

That’s no time at all! And the impact is huge- it will affect the rest of their lives!

So let’s get started.

Click the image below for great resources by Dave Ramsey on teaching children about responsible finances!
Financial Peace Junior Kit: Teaching Kids How to Win With Money

Junior’s Adventures: Storytime Book Set

Lesson 1: Money is Hard to Get

  • Common Mistake #1: Many parents shell out money to their kids even when the child hasn’t earned it. 

Allowances are the worst and most obvious example of this. From my point of view, an allowance is being paid just for living. No work necessary. Just stay at home, do nothing, and get paid. \

Is anyone going to pay you for inhaling and exhaling as an adult? Not at all! So don’t teach your kids that this is part of life. It’ll be confusing and frustrating when they get to the real world and realize that they have to work hard.

Some people might say that they’ll give an allowance now, and adjust to working hard for money as the child gets older. Here’s the problem with that:

  1. Kids are set in their money habits by age 7, according to research. (See ‘Habit Forming and Learning in Young Children’, Dr. David Whitebread and Dr. Sue Bingham)
  2. The child is going to resist that change, because it’s easier to get an allowance than to work hard. You’ll have an uphill battle ahead of you when you try to change a system that you created.

Instead, teach them to work hard now, in age appropriate ways. person holding coins

  • Common Mistake #2: Many parents give too much money for too little work. 

Parents, how hard do you work for your money? Pretty darn hard!

Parents, how much time do you put in for your money? A lot!

Kids aren’t ready for an adult level of time and effort, but they do need to be prepared for the level of energy and time that they will be expected to invest into making a living as an adult.

Giving children a lot of money for an easy task isn’t helpful. It’s better than giving them money for doing nothing, but it still teaches kids that money is easy to get. And it isn’t. Your job isn’t easy, is it?

Don’t adults get paid less if the job requires less skill? Or less time? Flipping burgers pays less than being a doctor. And that’s ok. Mimic this concept in your child’s life.

Find an appropriate task that challenges your child.

Don’t pay based on the task that a child completes. Pay based on how difficult the task was for the child. More time and effort=more money. The greater the challenge, the greater the compensation.

On the flip side, the easier the task, the less he gets for it.

Teach new skills that the child will need to earn greater amounts of money.

The first lesson for a child to learn is that hard work pays.

Don’t trust your kids to keep track of real money yet? Try using these educational tools! Click the image below!
Melissa & Doug Classic Play Money Set, Developmental Toys, 50 of Each Denomination, Wooden Cash Drawer, 17.75″ H x 10.25″ W x 1.25″ L

Digital Coin Bank Savings Jar by DE – Automatic Coin Counter Totals all U.S. Coins including Dollars and Half Dollars – Original Style, Clear Jar

Lesson 2: The Money You Have is Limited

  • Common Mistake 3: If the child doesn’t have enough money for something they really want, I’ll just buy it for them.

Is anyone going to bail your child out as an adult every time he can’t afford something? No! So don’t do it now. Remember, we’re mimicking real life in a more loving environment.

Teach your child that he has to wait and save for purchases. If he doesn’t save, he can’t get things he wants.

person holding pink ceramic pig coin bank

  • Common Mistake 4: If the child is going to make an impulse buy or is going to spend his money on something he’ll regret later, I’ll stop him from making the purchase in order to save him from the pain later on. 

Let the child make choices and get excited about what they want to buy.

When they get distracted by potential impulse buys, remind them of their end goal. Remind them that if they purchase something now, they won’t have the money they need for the thing that they really want.

Talking through purchases like this makes your child conscious of the choices that he or she is making instead of simply responding to his own whims.

BUT- if a child insists on purchasing something impulsively, allow this to be a learning opportunity. Don’t just save him from making a mistake. This will reinforce your teaching about saving money when the child realizes that he can’t afford something he wants later because he spent the money now.

Money hurts sometimes. It’s much better for a child to feel it buying Legos rather than experiencing this pain for the first time when he’s upside-down in a home loan.

Let a little pain happen now to avoid big pain later.

Don’t bail out your child because he’s a little sad right now. Let him learn.

Click the image below for a great resource to teach your kids about money!
Learning Resources Money Bags Coin Value Game

Learning Resources Buy It Right Shopping Game

Exact Change (2Nd Edition)

Winning Moves Games Pay Day, The Classic Edition

Dave Ramsey’s ACT Your Wage! Board Game

Lesson 3: Money is not Guaranteed

  • Common Mistake 5: Money just keeps flowing from mom and dad with no end. Even if the kid is working for it, he assumes that he has hit a bottomless well that he can dip into at any time that he wants.

focus photography of person counting dollar banknotes

A while back, I heard this story about a young family.

The oldest 3 children wanted to participate in swimming lessons during the summer. It is a great goal, and something the family had done previously.

The only problem is that swimming lessons cost $50 per child, and the family was in a tougher financial position then they had been in previous years. They simply did not have $150 to send all 3 children to swim lessons.

When the parents tried to explain to the children that there was no money for swimming lessons, the kids quickly asked “Can we work for it? We can clean in the house, or we can do things in the yard!”

The parents had to explain that, although they would love to pay the children for doing jobs around the house, there really was no money. The parents could not pay them even for working.

It would be easy to end the story here. Sad kids, no swim lessons. Still a good lesson in finances. But these were good thoughtful parents who didn’t let things stop there.

Although the children were young, the parents talked to friends, family, and neighbors to see if the children could do odd jobs around their homes to earn a few bucks here and there.

With new avenues available to earn money, the parents and kids got to work. Thanks to a combined family effort, the kids were able to earn the money for their swim lessons even though their parents did not have the cash at the time.

This is a tough experience for everyone, but it taught the children that you can’t put your eggs in one basket.

Children who assume that money is an endless well turn into adults who make purchases before they can afford them, counting on that bonus that they’ll get next quarter. Of course, we know that that bonus might not come or it might be needed elsewhere by the time next quarter rolls around.

These are adults who get into massive credit card debt or who fail to save money for hard times.

They assume that because they have a job now, they will always have that income. Jobs come and go. Income is not for sure.

Help children learn to that they must have the cash in hand before they can make purchases. No parents’ credit for kids. No debt. And if they want to be able to buy things they will need in the future, they should have a glass jar or a piggy bank to put money aside in.

Lesson 3 to teach children- Money is no guarantee. Have savings. Don’t buy until you have cash. Avoid debt.

Click the image below!
Jhua Cartoon Piggy Bank Password Electronic Money Bank Safe Saving Box ATM Bank Safe Locks Panda Smart Voice Prompt Money Piggy Box for Children (Blue)

TOPBRY Cartoon Electronic Password Piggy Bank Cash Coin Can for Children/Toy Gifts Birthday Gifts (Pink & White)

Money Savvy Pig – Blue

Money Savvy Pig – Purple

Lesson 4: Money can be Used for Good or Bad

  • Common Mistake 6: Teach kids the nitty gritty about money and forget about the ethics.

Once you become a responsible adult, you have responsibilities to your community.

Give back. Help others out. Serve your community. Be a friend and a neighbor.

Do good things with your money.

person showing both hands with make a change note and coins

That’s the only way to have a positive focus about your money. People who are focused on what their money can do for them become greedy and desensitized to others’ needs.

Teach your kids to be generous by finding a reasonable way for them to share what they have. They can give a dollar to a charity or a church, they can donate to a hospital, they can buy a small gift for someone else at Christmas.

Teach children to be giving.

Click the image below for great resources on teaching your child to save, share, and invest!
Colorful Stacking Block Coin Bank For Kids – Helps Kids Save, Share, Give and Invest – Transparent Plastic Bank Shows Cash Inside – Teaches Good Money Habits – Perfect As Kids Birthday Presents

Money Scholar Classic Sports Bank: The Piggy Bank that Teaches Kids to Save, Invest, Give & Spend Wisely

Stephen Joseph Spend, Save and Share Bank, Owl

Save Spend Share Money Jar | Three-Part Money Tin Teaches Kids Financial Management – Deposit Coins and Bills

Giantsuper Smart Beast Trio Piggy Bank: 3-in-1 Money-Wise Educational Piggy Bank …

Giantsuper Trio! Smart Coin Bank: 3-in-1 Money-Wise Educational Piggy Bank

Lesson 5: Show Kids What it Looks Like

  • Common Mistake 7: Try to teach my kid to be better than I am willing to become myself.

None of this works without a good example to look up to.

If parents aren’t willing to do all these things for themselves- avoid debt, save money, avoid impulse buys, be generous to others, wait for things you want- then the kids won’t internalize it.

Show your child what these habits look like in daily life.

person picking blue card

Point out when you do something right and why you made that choice. Don’t be afraid to teach them when you make a mistake too. We don’t need to hide our failures from our kids. If kids are allowed to see us mess up and fix our mistakes, they won’t have unrealistic expectations for themselves to be perfect, and hopefully they will learn from your mistake rather than making the same mistake themselves.

Teach the ultimate lesson on finances by being in control of your own money.

Keeping It Age Appropriate

One of the greatest challenges about teaching finances is approaching an adult topic in a child-friendly and age-appropriate way.

Those things might seem contradictory. You can accomplish both by thinking a real life adult situation that you want to teach (like money) and simplifying it.

It’s like instead of baking a cake from scratch, you are giving your kid a cake mix in a box. It’s simpler, it fits their level of understanding, but it also gets the job done in a real way.

Still have questions? Take advantage of one of these great books that will help you teach your child about money! Click the image below!

Make Your Kid A Money Genius (Even If You’re Not): A Parents’ Guide for Kids 3 to 23

Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!

Teach Your Child To Fish: Five Money Habits Every Child Should Master

Have fun with your little entrepreneurs as they earn their first money and make their first purchases!!!

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

Share this post with any parent who is trying to raise a child to be a responsible adult!

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Over 60 Indoor Activities for Families on a Rainy Day

Over 60 Indoor Activities for Families on a Rainy Day

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Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

This post may contain advertisements and/or links for products and services that I value. I offer recommendations to products and/or services that I find helpful in my own life as a mom. I may receive a commission based on viewer purchases or interactions with these ads. You will NOT be charged any extra money. All prices will stay the same for you whether your purchase items/services through links found on this site or not! 

Updated 2/8/2019

 

Hey parents,

Are you stuck indoors?

Are your kids getting antsy?

Are things getting loud and crazy since your kids are cooped up with no way to let their energy out? And I’m sure your energy is depleting by the second.

Here are some great indoor activities that will save the day! Just keep a few of these tucked up your sleeve for those rainy days and your kids will be entertained for hours!

Need more ideas? Check out Ultimate List of OVER 50 Family Board Games- Family Bonding, Survive the Winter, Learn Life Lessons, Endless Fun, and Great Gifts!

  1. Build a fort.

This is a classic activity that every kid loves! All you need is something for a base (chairs, card table, couches) and blankets to cover the top. You can make an extensive and detailed fort with windows, doors, hallways, various rooms, etc. Or just a basic fort.

2. Create a maze of string.

The parent asks all the kids to hide in their room for a while. While they are away, the parent ties one end of the string to the doorknob of the child’s room. Then the parent loops and winds the string all over the house. The child has to follow the string to the end. The parent can make it a “hide and seek” game by hiding an object at the end of the string. If there are multiple kids, they can work together and follow the same string or they can each have their own string of a different color.

Click the image below!
LIHAO 12 Skeins Mini Yarn for Knitting Crochet Craft – 100% Acrylic

3. Play “Hot and Cold”

Choose an object in the house to hide. One person leaves the room while the others decide on where to hide the object. When the object is hidden, the seeker begins to look for it. Everyone else gives the seeker clues. If they are moving in the right direction towards the object, they say “hotter…” but if the seeker is going in the wrong direction away from the hidden object, they say “colder….” These clues help the seeker find the hidden object.

4. Play “Hide and Go Seek”… with a twist.

This is a classic game. Everyone hides while one person covers their eyes. The seeker counts to a designated number (usually 30). Once he is done counting, he can begin looking for the hidden people until he finds everyone! There are some twists to this game to make it fun and new!

-Once you have been found by the seeker, you can sneak away and hide again if he is not looking.

-Hidden people can change their hiding places instead of staying in one place.

-Hidden people can give clues to the seeker, like making noise.

-Once you are found, you can help the seeker find the rest of the hidden people.

-All the hidden people can hide as a group, making it more difficult to find a good hiding place.

-One person can hide while everyone else is seeking.

-For very young children, everyone can hide partially in view.

5. Have a dance party.

man doing breakdancing on gray surface

Everyone loves a dance party! Just turn on your favorite music and let loose! You can teach your children new dance moves, they can teach you dance moves, you can have a dance off, etc.

We love to change the genre of music we are dancing to. We tell the kids to do whatever dance they think best represents the music. We put on lots of different things, like country, hip hop, classical, kids tunes, etc. to see what dances our kids come up with!

The kids also love choosing what songs they want to dance to.

6. Go “camping” in the living room.

Indoor camping features include a tent (if you don’t have one, you can build one with blankets), a sleeping bag (or blankets folded into a sleeping bag), pillows, marshmallows and/or hot dogs, flashlights, stuffed animals, etc.

Set up your tent and other supplies in the living room, a bedroom, or the back porch.

Click on the image below!
Happy Camper 80-170T 2-Person Tent, Dome Tents for Camping with Carry Bag by Wakeman Outdoors (Camping Gear for Hiking, Backpacking, and Traveling) – BLUE

7. Watch a movie with a twist.

Make a movie night more exciting and interactive. Everyone chooses a word, color, number, etc. to look for throughout the movie. Whoever finds the most wins!

8. Create a scavenger hunt.

Create lists of items to find. Have races to see who can find each item on their list the fastest! Topics can include: things we use every day, things we can see outside from the window, things that make noise, our favorite things, etc. There are many variations on how to play.

-To build memory skills, you can ask a child to find three items and see if they can remember all three.

-To practice writing and creative thinking, the child can write their own list for a given topic and then find the objects.

-To practice reading, the parent can write the list down and ask the child to complete the scavenger hunt without help.

9. Find something that starts with every letter of the alphabet.

This is a great game for 4-5 year olds, but kids of all ages enjoy it. Walk around the house together looking for an object that starts with the letter A. This might be an apple, an avocado, an airplane, or the alphabet. Once you have found something that starts with A, look for something that starts with B. Continue through the entire alphabet.

Image from http://wipkits.blogspot.com/2011/05/for-love-of-words.html

10. Play “The Floor is Lava”.

Begin the game by standing on the couches. The floor is “lava.” Anyone who touches the floor is out. The goal is for the group to get from point A (the couch) to point B (anywhere you want- the kitchen, a bedroom, etc.). Use household items to stand on, such as couch cushions, pieces of paper, toys, etc.- Anything to keep you from stepping on the “lava”. Try to get the whole group across the lava without touching it using only the items you have around you.

11. Teach your kids “Rhythm games”.

There are lots of rhymes and songs that accompany a rhythm that the participants make by clapping, stomping feet, or patting their legs.

Make a rhythm (Ex: Clap, clap, pat. Clap, clap, pat.) Everyone joins in and must keep the rhythm steady. Sing a song to go with the rhythm without losing the rhythm or try one of these ideas!

-Think of a topic, such as colors, celebrities, shapes, states, etc. Begin the rhythm. On each down beat (the first beat in a rhythm- for example, if the rhythm is “Clap, snap, pat, Clap, snap, pat” then the downbeat is the clap), the person must say something that fits under that topic. For example, if the topic were states, I could say “Arizona” on the downbeat. Then the next person has to think of a different state to say on the next downbeat. You are out if you miss the downbeat, if you can’t think of a new state to say, if you repeat a state that has already been said, or if you get off rhythm.

-Each person is assigned an animal. The group makes a rhythm. On the downbeat, the first person says the animal of anyone else in the group. That person must then keep the rhythm and say someone else’s animal name on the following downbeat. For example: Person 1 says “Cat” on the downbeat. The cat person says “Horse” on the following downbeat. The horse person says “Bird” on the following downbeat. You are out if you get off beat, if you forget your animal, or if you forget the animals of the other people in the group.

12. Finger paint.

Messy, but worth it! Put down a drop cloth, an old table cloth, or an old shower curtain to limit the mess. Make sure you wear old clothes that can get stained, or choose washable paints (click the image below)!

Crayola Washable Kids Paint, Classic Colors, 6 Count, Painting Supplies, Gift

13. Try to paint on a piece of paper that is hanging from a string.

This is creative art. Tape one end of string to a piece of paper. Tape the other end to the table. This will hang the piece of paper in the air. The child sits on the ground and tries to paint with the paper moving around!

It is best to put some kind of cloth underneath to limit the mess.

14. Cover the table in paper and color the whole thing!

Use your hands, feet, elbows. This is a great chance to get some energy out while using gross and fine motor skills!

This and many other crafts are easier with large butcher paper. Click the image below!

White Kraft Butcher Paper Roll – 18 inch x 175 Feet (2100 inch) – Food Grade FDA Approved – Great Smoking Wrapping Paper for Meat of All Varieties – Made in USA – Unwaxed and Uncoated

15. Have a colored bath.

Put food coloring in with your bath water! It does not stain skin or the bathtub.

We enjoy starting out by putting a few drops of one color into the water, like blue. The child can watch the color spread until the whole bath is blue. Then, we add another color, like red, and guess what will happen to the color of the bath. It is so exciting to see the color slowly change to purple.

Click the image below!
Honey-Can-Do DRY-01410 Plastic Clothespins, 50-Pack

 

16. Cook together.

This is a great way to get something done that you have to do anyways- but still entertain the kids! Dinner is ready, and everyone had fun.

If you need to use eggs in a recipe, I recommend having the children crack the eggs into a separate bowl first. That way, if there are egg shells in the egg, you can get them out easier rather than having egg shells mixed in with your food.

17. Play “Zip your Lip.”

Choose a “buzz word” that is off limits for the day. If you catch someone saying the “buzz word” they are out! See who lasts the longest without saying the word.

You can also give each child 5 clothes pins to put on their shirt sleeve. If you catch someone saying the buzz word, you get to take one of their clothes pins and put it on your sleeve. Whoever has the most clothes pins in the end wins! This can be a fun variation because nobody is ever “out”. If you run out of clothes pins, you just keep listening for others to say the buzz word and you can get your clothes pins back!

Click on the image below!
Honey-Can-Do DRY-01410 Plastic Clothespins, 50-Pack

18. Play charades.

Write down lots of things that a child can act out. These can be easier for younger kids or more difficult for older kids. Some ideas include: animals, movie characters, actions like going fishing or wrapping a present, or places. Write each thing on a separate piece of paper. The child draws one piece of paper and they must act out that thing without making any noise. The rest of the group tries to guess what they are acting out.

19. Play the “Telephone game”.

Everyone sits in a row. The first person in the row thinks of any phrase. They whisper it to the next person. That person repeats what they heard to the next person, and it continues down the line. You can only whisper to each person once- no clarifying! The last person says what he heard out loud to the group. At this point, the phrase has usually been changed as it was passed down the line. Often, it doesn’t even make any sense! The first person shares what the original phrase was.

20. Build something with household objects, like silverware, toothpicks, qtips, etc.

This is a great game to build creativity and problem solving skills! And it’s just plain fun.

21. Tell stories.

These can be true stories- parents can tell about their childhood, kids can tell their favorite family vacations, etc.- or they can be unique stories that we imagine.

person holding string lights on opened book

22. Tell stories- with a twist.

This is a group story telling activity. Each person gets to participate in telling the story- but each person can only say one sentence to add to the story at a time. The first person starts out with one sentence to begin the story (Ex: “Once upon a time, there lived a fair maiden.”) Then the next person continues the story (Ex: “She lived in Narnia!”). Everyone gets a turn to say one sentence at a time.

The story often takes many unexpected twists and turns as each person gets to put their own unique spin on things.

23. Do the limbo!

This is great for kids who need to get some energy out. Find a stick (a broom handle works great). Two people hold each end of the stick high in the air. The participant must walk under the stick leaning backwards without letting any part of their body touch the stick. If they make it, they get to try again with the stick a little lower. Gradually, the stick is closer and closer to the ground and it becomes more and more difficult to limbo under the stick! You are out if you touch the stick, if you fall, or if you touch the ground.

Click the image below!
Get Out! Wooden Limbo Set, 5’ Feet Tall – Colored Limbo Stick with Self-Standing Base – Fun for All Ages and Occasions

24. Try yoga poses, somersaults, standing on your head, or other tricky poses!

These are great to help kids use energy in a focused way instead of being crazy! These kinds of tasks also build coordination.

25. Have races with random objects.

Roll marbles down a ramp, race cars across the table, slide washers down a string, etc.

26. Play card games.

Some of my favorites to play with kids are: Spot It, Go Fish, Uno, Old Maid, Crazy 8’s, and War (in this one, all you have to do is flip over two cards and the winner is the person with the highest card).

Click the image below!
Hoyle Kid’s 6 in 1 Fun Pack- Card Games (artwork may vary)

27. Play board games.

I really like Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders because they can be played with all ages.

There are lots of great games for every age group!

Check it o: Ultimate List of OVER 50 Family Board Games- Family Bonding, Survive the Winter, Learn Life Lessons, Endless Fun, and Great Gifts!

28. Mix food coloring in a cup.

Guess what color the water will change to next??

This can also be a fun thing to do while cooking. For example, the kids can choose what color to make the pancakes.

29. Create your own board game or card game.

The rules don’t usually make sense when kids make their own games, but they have a blast doing it!

All they need is paper and crayons to decorate their cards or board game. Oh, and a patient parent who is willing to play a game with no structure in which the child is sure to be the winner in the end.

30. Ask each other “get to know you” questions.

These are great for some relaxing fun. They also help a parent get to know the ins and outs of their child’s life.

Fun topics include: the child’s future, the child’s favorite things, the child’s fears, the child’s friends, the child’s day to day routine, events coming up, fun memories, things they would like to do, etc.

Click the image below!
Peaceable Kingdom This or That? Quick and Clever Get to Know You Game for Friends and Family

31. Don’t let the balloon touch the ground!

I tried this game with a ball once. I recommend the balloon because there is less of a chance that the balloon will break something.

The game is simple- throw the balloon in the air and work as a team to keep it up. Don’t let it touch the ground!

Click the image below.

King’s deal 100(10color x 10) Latex Balloons – 11 Inch – Assorted Colors

32. Try science experiments.

Mix water and corn starch. Roll the mixture into a ball. When it is moving, it is a solid. As soon as it is still for a few seconds, it settles and dissolves into a liquid.

Color a jar of water with your favorite food coloring. Put white flowers into the colored water. The flowers will soak up the color from the water!

Put pop rocks into a bottle of soda. Put a balloon over the opening. The balloon will inflate!

Mix borax and glue to make homemade slime.

Use lemon juice as invisible ink. Write a message to someone, then use a blow drier to read the message.

Click the image below!

Be Amazing Toys Big Bag Of Science +70 Activities

33. Read a story.

Books are wonderful. Reading to children when they are young will foster a love of reading and learning that will last into adulthood.

Click on the image below!

Dr. Seuss’s Beginner Book Collection (Cat in the Hat, One Fish Two Fish, Green Eggs and Ham, Hop on Pop, Fox in Socks)

34. Write your own story.

This is great practice for writing in school! Tell your child that they are going to be the author and illustrator of their very own book! Then sit back and watch them imagine and create.

35. Tell jokes.

What do you call a bear with no teeth? Gummy bear!

Click on the image below!
Silly Jokes for Silly Kids. Children’s joke book age 5-12

36. Count cars that drive by the window.

For more fun, each person can choose one color of car to count. Whoever counts the most cars of their color wins!

37. Think of something you can do to make a friend smile.

Tell a joke, make them something, write them a letter, tell them thank you, give them a hug….

38. Write a letter to someone who lives far away.

Tell them everything you are up to. Ask them about themselves. Tell them your favorite memories of the two of you. Tell them what you miss about them.

39. Call your grandparents.

This is a great way to teach your kids to think about others as well as develop strong friendships with their extended family.

40. Plan a vacation.

Dream of places you would love to go. Get online and research sites you could see, restaurants to eat at, hotels you could stay in, etc. Learn about the culture and language of that area.

Click on the image below!
National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of the World

41. Make a budget.

Yes, this is a great activity for kids.

It doesn’t sound exciting, but kids get super excited to save money for something that they really want. Help them think of ways to earn money. Then identify what they need to spend money on and help them realize that the only way to get the things they want is to save some of their money in a special place until they have enough for the things they want.

Then stick to your guns. Don’t give them extra money for no reason or step in and buy them the thing they were saving for. That ruins the fun and the learning.

Click on the image below for an educational piggy bank!

Giantsuper Trio! Smart Coin Bank: 3-in-1 Money-Wise Educational Piggy Bank

42. Look for something to fix around the house.

Leaky faucet? Does the dresser need a fresh coat of paint? Is there a tear in the couch?

Kids are super excited to do things they have never done before. This can be a great opportunity to teach them some life skills and also get things checked off your to do list!

43. Sew something simple together- like a bean bag or a pillow case.

Square objects tend to be the easiest because you only have to sew in straight lines. Kids can learn to sew by hand or to use a sewing machine- whatever is safer for your child.

Click on the image below!
ARTIKA Sewing KIT for Kids, DIY Craft for Girls, The Most Wide-Ranging Kids Sewing Kit Kids Sewing Supplies, Includes a Booklet of Cutting Stencil Shapes for The First Step in Sewing. (Unicorn kit)

Sewing KIT, Over 100 XL Quality Sewing Supplies, 30 XL Spools of Thread, Mini Sewing kit for DIY, Beginners, Emergency, Kids, Summer Campers, Travel and Home

44. Tie a fleece blanket.

This is an easy project that can be a lot of fun! Buy two pieces of fleece material- each 1.5-3 yards. One piece will be the top and one piece will be the bottom of your blanket. It is fun to get patterns that are different but that still match.

Cut your material to the size and shape that you want. Both pieces should be exactly the same size and shape.

Cut fringes along all edges of the fleece. Each fringe should be about 3 inches long and 1 inch thick. When you get to the corners, cut out the corners to match the fringe length.

The fringes should be exactly the same on both pieces of material.

Tie each coordinating fringe together. This will hold the front and back together.

Or, get a kit that will take you step by step through the process by clicking on the image below!
Creativity for Kids Deluxe Easy Weave Fleece Blanket Making Kit – Makes 1 No Sew Blanket

Melissa & Doug Created by Me! Flower Fleece Quilt No-Sew Craft Kit (48 Squares), 4′ x 5′

45. Learn about your culture or ancestors.

Do family history research to learn who your ancestors were. Read their stories. Learn about their culture. Try to incorporate that culture into your own life.

46. Plant seeds.

You can use the old-fashioned dirt in a pot method, or you can plant seeds in a Ziploc bag. Place the seed in the Ziploc bag. Get a few cotton balls wet and put them into the Ziploc bag with the seed. Tape the bag to a window. Watch the seed grow!

Click on the image below for a great sunflower starter kit!
Mr. Sprout Sunflower Starter Kit – Plant Growing Kit for Kids, Adults Or Gift Idea – Flower Seed Starter Kit Includes Peat Pots, Nutrient Rich Soil Pellets, and Plant Tags

47. Make a “dream board.”

Think of your perfect future. What would your job be? Where would you live? What things would you have? Cut pictures out of magazines or print pictures from the computer to represent your dreams. Compile them onto a board and share them with your friends/family.

48. Have a pillow fight.

Just like when you were 12 years old!

49. Learn something new by researching something your child is interested in.

Dinosaurs, volcanoes, cowboys, princesses, mermaids, outer space… What is fact and what is fiction?

50. Look at family pictures.

This is especially fun to see how the child has grown and changed over the years. Show them what they looked like as a baby.

Or show them what you looked like as a baby, and as a child, and as a teenager.

51. Have “parent interviews”.

This is one-on-one time with each child. The parent interviews them to learn more about them individually. What do they like to do? Who are their friends? What are their favorite things? What are their dreams? What are they working hard to do? What do they need from you right now?

52. Have a “family meeting”.

This is a lot like a parent interview, but the whole family is involved together. The parent conducts the meeting. Kids and parents get to express concerns, ask questions, create goals, check up on each other, learn about each other, and be more united.

silhouette of man standing beside shore under brown sky during daytime

53. Make shadow puppets.

Shadow puppets are made out of paper in the shape of an animal or object. Glue the paper to a Popsicle stick. Then have a puppet show using a flashlight to project the shadow of the puppets onto the wall!

54. Make hand puppets with a flashlight.

No time for crafting? Skip it and use your hands to make shadows! Use the flashlight to project your shadow puppet show onto the wall!

55. Sing along to your favorite songs.

Whoever can remember the most words to the song wins!

56. Tell spooky stories.

Make sure the kids know that they aren’t real. Hopefully there won’t be any nightmares.

57. Play “The Quiet Game”.

See which child can be quiet the longest. Whoever speaks first is out! Whoever is quiet until the end wins!

toddler holding her lips

58. Play “Duck, Duck, Goose”.

An old classic! My kids love to come up with new names instead of “duck” and “goose”. We have played “cake, cake, doughnut” and “worm, worm beetle”…

59. Sing Nursery Rhymes.

Adding hand motions to go along with the words can add fun to the songs or rhymes!

60. Bake cookies for a neighbor or friend.

This is a great excuse to stop in to say hi.

Or it can be anonymous. My kids love to ring the doorbell, leave the plate of cookies, and run away so that nobody knows who did the good deed.

Click on the image below!

Betty Crocker Cookie Mix Variety Pack of Popular Flavors: (1) Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix + (1) Peanut Butter Cookie Mix + (1) Oatmeal Cookie Mix + (1) Sugar Cookie Mix. (4 flavors per order)

61. Make a house out of a large card board box.

Add windows, spare rooms, bedrooms, doors. Draw curtains, couches, kitchens, dressers, and other decor. Make it just like home!

62. Play “No Bears are Out Tonight”

In this game, one person is the “bear”. They hide somewhere while all the seekers close their eyes and count to 30. There is a designated “safe area” that the bear cannot enter. Once the seekers are finished counting, they must walk around the house looking for the bear. The bear tries to chase and tag the seekers. If you are tagged, you become a bear as well. Then, both bears hide while the seekers count. Both bears try to tag more and more people until there is just one seeker left and many bears. That person is the winner!

fiver person running on the field near trees

63. Play “Musical Chairs”.

Count how many people are playing. Create a circle of chairs, but make sure that there are not enough chairs for everyone to sit down. One person plays music for the group. While the music is playing, all the others walk in a circle on the outside of the chairs. The person playing the music randomly stops the music. When the music stops, those walking in a circle hurry to sit down. One person is left without a chair and is out. Remove one more chair from the circle and restart the music. Each round, one more person is left without a chair and is out. See how long you can keep your chair! The last person sitting in a chair wins.

64. Find objects that look like the letters from A-Z.

A chair might look like a capital A. A window might look like a capital B. Find objects throughout the house the look like hidden letters. Try to find the whole alphabet in your house!

65. Have a Spa Day! 

Just follow the link above for lots of great spa day ideas! Enjoy some relaxing time with your kiddos and take a load off yourself!

66. Get some Chores done!

If you’re inside anyways… you might as well get something done, and teach some great life lessons along the way! Use any of these fun activities as a reward for the work.

With a little creativity, even a rainy day inside can be a lot of fun! Happy indoor adventures!

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

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Top Recipes To Cook With Your Kids To Teach Life Long Cooking Skills

Top 9 Recipes to Cook with your Kids To Teach Life Long Cooking Skills

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Updated 2/6/2019

Every day, I have the same two big items on my to do list- spend time with the kids and make dinner.

I love to get both done at once!

But I was also getting sick of eating cereal for dinner… since that was the only food my kids knew how to help me “make”.

We decided to branch out. I realized that if I really wanted to have more options of what to cook with my kids, I needed to teach them some basic cooking skills! I was excited about this idea, since I knew these skills would become valuable life lessons!!

And I could eat more variety of delicious meals, NOW!

Here are some of my favorite meals or deserts to cook with my kids’ help… along with the life lesson that my kids learned from each cooking experience!

girl eating cereal in white ceramic bowl on table

1) Anything out of a box.

I know, I know…. These things are rarely healthy. But they are easy and yummy! And a great experience for your kids.

And when they go to college, these will probably be their staple food items anyways, so they might as well know how to cook them.

Food out of a box is the best preparation for reading and following a recipe for a child who is beginning to cook. 

It is simplified, has few ingredients, and is easy to follow. Making these easy food items gives kids confidence that they can make more complex foods by following a recipe.

But that’s not all! Kids also learn concepts like:

  • checking to make sure you have the ingredients before you begin cooking,
  • measuring ingredients,
  • substituting ingredients as needed (my kiddo learned this when we realized we were out of butter so we used applesauce in our cookie dough instead!)
  • having appropriate cleanliness in the kitchen,
  • asking questions as they learn!

Here are some of my favorite boxed foods to prepare with my kids:

  • Brownies
  • Cakes
  • Pudding
  • Cookies
  • Hamburger Helper
  • Pancakes
  • Pasta Salads
  • Mac N Cheese
  • Top Roman (If you’re sick of Top Roman, try adding in fun extras like fresh veggies or meats.)

slice of brownies beside silver strainers

2) Snow Ice Cream

This recipe is usually my kids’ VERY VERY first experience “cooking” with me. They make their own Snow Ice Cream when they are as young as 1 1/2-2 years old.

‘ love it because they get to feel involved and get a taste of making their own food… with absolutely no possibility of getting hurt in the kitchen. No heat, no knives, no worries! 

This recipe is so fun and easy to make! It is seasonal… and dependent on the weather… but if your kids love to make it, you could always substitute shaved ice for the snow.

And of course, (I can’t stress this enough…) make sure your kids are gathering clean snow. 😊

snow-covered tree lot during daytime

Snow Ice Cream

2 cups Clean Snow (or shaved ice)

2-3 Tbsp. Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 drop of Vanilla (or Root Beer Flavoring, or Strawberry Flavoring, or Orange Flavoring, etc…)

First, gather clean snow from outside right after a snowfall. I prefer to set a clean bowl outside during a snowfall. The bowl slowly fills up with perfectly fresh and 100% clean snow. No hoping or guessing that the snow hasn’t been somewhere yucky. If you are going to allow your kids to gather their own snow, this step takes a lot of supervision to make sure the kids aren’t gathering snow from the wrong places.

Second, divide the snow into cups for each child. Add the remaining ingredients and allow the child to stir up his or her ice cream. Add more snow if needed (sometimes the mixture tastes too strong and more snow will remedy this).

That’s it! Ready to eat!

Please note that adding the other ingredients makes the snow more dense than it was to begin with, so you end up with less ice cream than you might think. 2 cups of snow makes about ½ cup of ice cream.

I use this recipe to teach kids the following concepts: 

  • Following mom’s directions in the kitchen
  • Getting creative to make the recipe your own
  • Mixing without spilling
  • Why eating clean food is important (we usually discuss how germs can make us sick and that’s why we wash all the produce mom buys at the store) 

3) Kabobs

people having a barbecue party

Kabobs are so much fun to make with kids!

When kids make kabobs, they learn the following life skills:

  • Early exposure to the concept of being careful because some kitchen tools can hurt you. This is a great pre-lesson before learning to cut with knives.
  • Become familiar with ingredients. Kids learn to recognize and identify a variety of foods that they may cook with later on.
  • More likely to try new foods
  • Choosing between many food options
  • Introduce the concept of cross contamination. Explain that we cook the meat before they touch it so that they don’t cross contaminate fruits and veggies with raw meat.
  • How food changes when it is cooked. Example: raw bell peppers vs. cooked bell peppers.

There are so many options of yummy foods to put on a kabob- cheese, fruit, veggies, meat- so it’s easy to make a healthy kabob that your kids will actually enjoy eating.

Rather than following a strict recipe, I usually just set out all the food options (precooked if necessary) and let me kids go to town spearing their favorite foods. Here are my favorite kabob options.

  • Meat cut into bite sized pieces
    • Beef, chicken, or pork are the most common.
    • I have also cut up lunch meat into squares and allowed my kids to put that on their kabobs.
    • Another nontraditional option is Little Smokies or pieces of hot dogs.
    • Be sure to cook the meat beforehand to avoid kids touching raw meat or cross contaminating other foods.
  • Grapes
  • Strawberries, Raspberries, Blueberries
  • Melon pieces
    • Honeydew, watermelon, or cantaloupe
  • Cheese
    • My kids enjoy when I give them options in various kinds of cheese- such as swiss, mozzarella, or cheddar.
  • Nontraditional fruits- such as apples, orange slices, or chunks of pears- can also be added to kabobs. They are tasty and help kids eat a variety of foods.
  • Any vegetable that you can get away with. I try any and all new veggies that I can possibly skewer on a kabob. This is a great way to trick my kids into trying new foods because they are so excited that they get to spear the food. I’ve done onion, bell peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, squash, and cooked carrots.

When we make kabobs, I cut up all the ingredients, put each thing out on the table in a bowl, and allow the kids to choose what they want on their kabob. They love “spearing” the food onto a kabob stick.

Sometimes, my kids make crazy kabob creations that I wouldn’t necessarily want to try, but they are always very excited. They are more willing to try new things when we make kabobs.

4) Stir Fry or Fried Rice with Veggies

I use stir fry as my child’s first exposure to actual cooking! Here’s why stir fry is the perfect meal to cook when it’s your first time cooking:

  • No measuring ingredients, which means there is no messing up! Stir fry always turns out great (unless you burn it). This is a great confidence-builder for kids who are just learning the skill of cooking! 
  • The child can make it their own. There’s no right or wrong answer to which veggies or meats go into stir fry. This is a great time for creativity! 
  • There’s little technical skill. Just stir to avoid burning!
  • The heat doesn’t have to be turned up all the way. Keep the heat at medium. Even though it will take a little longer, it’s less likely for the child to get a burn. 
  • You can involve kids in a variety of ways.
    • Kids love to add ingredients into the sauté pan as you go.
    • If your child is old enough and responsible enough, you can let them help you cut the veggies or meat into bite sized pieces. If that’s not the case, you can do it before hand. No harm done!
    • If your kids are old enough and responsible enough, they might enjoy stirring the pan while the veggies cook.
    • If your child can handle it, this is a great recipe for him to try ALL on his own!

Ready for your recipe?

Stir Fry: 

First of all, the list of ingredients is optional. Here are some of my favorite options of ingredients to include in stir fry. Pick and choose your favorites!

  • Precooked Rice
  • Soy Sauce or a similar yummy sauce (I’ve substituted General Tsao’s sauce, Orange Chicken Sauce, Kung Pao Sauce, Sweet and Sour Sauce, etc.)
  • Onions
  • Mushrooms
  • Peas
  • Egg
  • Bell Peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Chicken, Beef, or another favorite meat
  • Green Beans
  • Bok Choy
  • Water Chestnuts
  • Sesame Seeds

Cut up all the ingredients into bite sized pieces. My kids love to “measure” to see if the veggies are bite sized by eating a few.

In a large frying pan, cook your meat first.

When your meat is cooked, add any veggies you would like. Stir to avoid burning the food until the veggies are cooked.

Add in your sauce.

You can serve stir fry by itself, over rice, or you can easily make it into fried rice by adding the rice into the sauté pan of veggies and cooking it with an egg.

5) Homemade Pizza

Who doesn’t love pizza? And making it yourself only adds to the fun!

Pizza teaches kids baking skills (which are VERY different from stove top cooking skills) such as:

  • How leavening agents make dough rise,
  • How the cooking process can transform dough into bread (there’s nothing like this when you’re making stir fry!) 
  • Measuring carefully to ensure that the dough turns out right,
  • Rolling out dough,
  • Taking your time!
    • I like to buy premade pizza dough. This cuts down on the prep time and makes my life easier. Sorry kids, you’ll never be bakers. 🙂 

Lucky for me, pizza still teaches some other things too. For example:

  • Creativity
  • Food presentation
  • Spreading ingredients evenly throughout
  • Using an oven- how to set the temperature, preheat the oven, turn on the light to check the food, etc. 
  • How to check to see if food is done baking (golden brown crust, not doughy) 

Here’s your recipe!

Homemade Pizza: 

If you’re cool, use the recipe found here (Courtesy of Sugar Spun Run) to make homemade dough.

If you’re like me, buy some premade dough and skip ahead. 🙂

Canned Spaghetti or Pizza Sauce

Shredded Cheese

Whatever toppings sound yummy!

Spread the pizza dough into a large circle on a sheet tray. If you are making one large pizza, allow each child to decorate a portion of the pizza with toppings.

It can also be fun to make several smaller pizzas so that each child can have his or her own.

The kids can help spread sauce and cheese on the dough.

Offer the kids a variety of toppings to make their pizza unique. Allow them to get creative and make their pizza a piece of art.

Here are a few flavor combinations that can be tasty!

  • Traditional (Marinara sauce, mozzarella, pepperonis, sausage, onion, bell peppers, olives, etc.)
  • Barbeque (BBQ sauce, mozzarella, chicken, bacon, pineapple, onion, etc.)
  • Alfredo (Alfredo Sauce, mozzarella, chicken, bacon, onion, tomato, etc.)
  • Desert Pizza (Chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, marshmallow cream, crushed cookies, crushed Oreos, pie fillings, etc.)

Bake according to the directions on the dough package. Usually 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.

6) Fruit Salad

person holding sliced fruit salad on yellow bowl

Fruit Salad is a great way to let your kids practice using a knife by cutting soft fruit with a butter knife. The fruit pieces might not look pretty, but they will taste yummy. And your kid will learn a lot!

When I make fruit salad with my kids, I start by choosing which fruits they can cut themselves. Grapes, melons (after I remove the rind), and berries are easy for kids to cut with a butter knife.

I begin by removing the rind on any melons and then my kids cut the melon into pieces. They cut the grapes in half and strawberries into bite sized pieces.

As your child gets more skilled, allow him to experience more challenges- cutting more difficult fruits until he masters them all! 

That’s it! If you want a little extra pizzazz, you can serve your fruit salad out of a hollowed out watermelon rind. My kids get excited about that.

7) Fruit Pizza

Image result for fruit pizza

If fruit salad is too boring for you, put all those great knife skills to use on a fruit pizza!

  • Teach your kids to use a knife, using the same techniques described above. 
  • Teach creativity and self-expression. 
  • Teach presentation. 
  • Expose kids to unique foods, like kiwi, that they might not try otherwise. 
  • Spread icing using a butter knife.

There are really yummy recipes out there for fruit pizza made entirely from scratch.

However, when I’m cooking with my kids, simple is better.

Fruit Pizza: 

Premade Sugar Cookie Dough

Store Bought Cream Cheese Icing

Fruit

Help the kids roll the dough out into a pizza shape. Bake the cookie according to the directions on the package.

Once the cookie is cool, top the cookie with store-bought cream cheese icing. The kids love to spread the icing over the pizza.

The children can help me cut soft fruits, such as strawberries or kiwi, to put on top of the icing. Let them get creative and make a beautiful design of fruit.

Some of my favorite toppings for fruit pizza include: kiwi, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, almonds, peaches, grapes, mandarin oranges, and banana.

8) Quesadillas

Quesadillas are my favorite meal to teach kids to use cooking alternatives, like a griddle or a microwave. Of course, it’s excellent practice to learn to use a classic stove top as well! 
BLACK+DECKER Family-Sized Electric Griddle with Warming Tray & Drip Tray, GD2051B

  • Multiple cooking methods- griddle, stove top, or microwave! I often have conversations with my kids like this:  
    • How are various cooking methods alike? 
    • How are they different? 
    • Which one do you like best and why? 
    • What different circumstances might change your cooking method? (Example: If I’m in a hurry, a microwave is a great option!) 
  • If I’m teaching a child to cook who doesn’t want to sit and focus for very long, quesadillas can be a better option than stir fry. 
    • Active children can be more likely to be burned if they are fidgeting or playing around when they are supposed to be cooking. My favorite thing about quesadillas is that you can cook them over a low heat, reducing the risk that your child might burn themselves.

Quesadillas are simple, quick, and easy- which allows the kids to focus on the new skill of using a burner or griddle rather than on the preparation.

Quesadillas: 

Tortilla

Cheese

Nonstick Spray

Any desired add ins (Meat, veggies, salsa, etc.)

I begin by spraying a frying pan with a nonstick spray.

Before I turn the burner on, I place the tortilla in the pan and add cheese on one half. Fold the tortilla over to cover the cheese.

Then, turn the burner on low. Allow your child to flip the quesadilla when the first side is golden brown.

He/she can practice watching the food to avoid burning it, flipping the quesadilla, and using the stove top safely.

9) Cream Cheese Fruit Dip

I use this recipe to teach kids how to use a hand mixer in the kitchen- a very useful tool for lots of recipes.

Click the image below!

Hamilton Beach 62682RZ Hand Mixer with Snap-On Case, White

Here’s what you need:

2- 8oz packages of Cream Cheese

1 cup Powdered Sugar

Any fruit to dip, cut into bite sized pieces

The child begins by beating the cream cheese with the hand mixer for 3-5 minutes. It takes a long time to mix the cream cheese until there are no more lumps (more practice for the child!). You want your cream cheese to be smooth and creamy.

Add in the powdered sugar. Use the hand mixer to mix thoroughly.

Dip a variety of fruits in the fruit dip, including apples, bananas, grapes, berries, etc.

This recipe teaches kids to use the hand mixer without making a mess. I suggest mixing the cream cheese in a large mixing bowl to catch some of the mess.

If the child holds the hand mixer at an angle rather than straight up and down, the mixer will spray bits of cream cheese. Since you must mix the cream cheese for several minutes, the child gets lots of practice.

Do you have any favorite recipes to cook with your kids? Share them in the comments below so that we can all enjoy them!

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

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