Wednesday, August 28, 2019

How To Teach Your Child About Money Using Fun and Easy Games

Do you ever wonder when the right time to teach your children about money is? It might seem like a daunting task but rest assured taking a gradual, age appropriate path will make talking about money much easier for both of you.




This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on a link and make a purchase I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. For more information please read my disclaimer page. Thanks!

Taking cues from your curious child is a great way to know when to start having conversations and teaching them about money. Years ago when my oldest was only 5 we were all in the car heading to a minor league baseball game. Before heading to the ball field my husband made a quick stop at the ATM to get a little cash for the evening out. From the back seat my little girls shouts "Daddy, when can I go to the money store?"

My husband glanced over at me with a confused look asking, "Money store?"

Then realization hit - oh, she means the bank! This curious child thought that the bank was a money store and she wanted to get some money, just like daddy from the money store. Of course at age 5 she had no idea that this really isn't an actual store but it did give us a little motivation to begin teaching her about money, banking, saving and giving. 

The time was right and she was ready.


FUN AND EASY GAMES TO TEACH KIDS ABOUT MONEY


-SORTING
Since her attention span at this age was short, and her understanding of money was limited we had to start from scratch and begin with the basics. Introducing her to coins and paper money (the real kind not the fake play kind) was the first step. We gathered up piles of different coins and encouraged her to sort them, study them and discuss with us what she observed about the different coins. This was fun and to her it was a game she loved to play.

-COUNTING
After she had finished sorting the coins I encouraged her to count them. We started with pennies since each penny is worth 1 cent. Introducing the word "cent" to her was the beginning of learning the value or worth of money.

Since she was in kindergarten and almost ready for first grade skip counting was an important math skill I had been teaching her. Skip counting with nickels and then dimes is also a fun way to learn how to count and associate the value or worth of different coins.

Our skip count game involved a lot of physical activity on her part. Sitting still for long periods of time was boring to her and she struggled to learn while fighting the urge to move. I came up with a skip counting hopping game that kept her interest long enough for her to learn how to skip count by 5's and 10's. Let me tell you how we played it!


SKIP COUNTING GAME - BY 5's & 10's

Supplies:



To teach skip counting by 5's start with two sets of different colored sticky notes. The colors help visually remind the child that every other number when skip counting by 5's will have a "5" at the end of the number. (i.e. 5, 15, 25...)

Start by writing the number 0 on the first blue sticky note. Now use the orange colored sticky note and write a number 5 on it. Continue alternating between the blue and orange sticky notes making sure all the orange sticky notes are the numbers that include the 5 in them (i.e. 5, 15, 25, 35...) and the blue sticky notes have the 0's on them (i.e. 0, 10, 20, 30...). I recommend going to 100 since 100 cents is the value of $1 which you can introduce later after they have figured out skip counting.

Now that the sticky notes are all labeled pick an open area in your home and place the sticky notes, in order and spread out, to make a path. 

Have your child start at the number 0, say "zero cents" then hop to the sticky note that should have a "5" on it. The child should say the number and hop to the next sticky note repeating this as they go along all the way to 100 cents.

The more twisty and long the path is the more fun it is for the child! Be creative and let your kiddo have fun.

Once they get the hang of the skip counting by fives you can remove the sticky notes with 5's on them and you are left with all the 10's (10, 20, 30...). Repeat the game with the 10's until they have learned how to skip count by 10's. They will probably have to leap further now since half of the sticky note path is gone! Challenge them to see how far they can jump with these bigger gaps!

-COUNTING WITH REAL COINS
After your child has practiced their skip counting and has it learned and memorized it is time to use the real coins to count by 5's and 10's. Grab twenty nickels, lay them out in a row and have your child skip count by fives as you point to each coin along the row. Repeat this with dimes having your child skip count by tens.  Remember to say the word "cents" after each number in order to reinforce teaching the value of money. We want the child to learn the value of the coins as they skip count.

Don't panic if this whole skip counting concept takes your child awhile to learn and understand. Repetitive play is an effective tool for teaching your child. Have fun with this and let them enjoy different games like sorting, the skip counting hopping game (above) and using real coins.

-COUNTING QUARTERS
Mastering pennies, nickels and dimes is a must before introducing quarters. By now your child should be able to visually distinguish between pennies, nickels and dimes and count them properly. It's now time to move to the next coin, the quarter! A quick trip to your bank to get a roll of quarters is all you need to start teaching your child about quarters. 

To begin encourage your child to explore the shape, size and pictures stamped onto a quarter. Ask questions that require them to compare pennies, nickels and dimes to the quarter. 

  • Can you put the coins in order of size?
  • Which coin(s) have ribbing along the outside edge?
  • Which coin(s) have a person's picture on the front?
  • Which coin(s) are the same color?



PIGGY BANK GAME

A game my children liked to play as they learned how to skip count by 25's was what we called the "Piggy Bank Game". This is super simple, repetitive and still lots of fun! All you need is a piggy bank and your roll of quarters. I start off my modeling them game and playing it myself which consists of me dropping quarters into the bank one at a time and saying "25 cents, 50 cents, 75 cents, 100 cents". Let your child start dropping coins into the piggy bank while they repeat skip counting using up the rest of the roll of quarters. Empty the piggy bank and let them do it again. 



TALKING ABOUT MONEY - START WITH THE BASICS

In addition to teaching your child how to count money, talking to them about where money comes from, how we get money and why we need money are some very important basic questions you should discuss with your child. To get this conversation started Wikibuy.com has provided these amazing FREE conversation starter cards for you to print and use. Keep reading to get all 56 free printable conversation starters! 

click here for FREE printable

Some basic sample questions include:

  • What does money do?
  • Can you get anything you want with money?
  • Why do we need money?


WHAT MAKES A DOLLAR?

So your child has mastered skip counting by 5's, 10's and 25 all the way to 100! Congratulations, they have just mastered a very big step in learning the value of money!! 

Introducing the dollar can be somewhat confusing at first but don't worry they will catch on quickly. Before you grab a new crisp one dollar bill, get your coins back out making sure to have $1 worth of pennies, $1 in nickels, $1 in dimes and $1 in quarters. Let your child pile the like coins in neat stacks, if they can, next to the other like coins so you can discuss and compare what $1 looks like. 

My kids always had a hard time comparing the small stack of 4 quarters with the big stack of 100 pennies. At first when I ask which pile is worth more they always got stuck because visually the penny stack looks like more! 

After your child is done comparing stacks of different coins that all equal $1 in value it is time to grab that crisp $1 bill and lay it next to the four separate stacks of coins. Explain that this too equals one dollar and that all of the piles equal the same value even though the quantity of each pile is different. Discuss why people prefer to carry paper money over coins (weight!). 

One of my sons learned this lesson first hand! He liked to bring his own money to his dad's softball games so he could buy a treat at the concession stand. He would stuff his pockets full of coins to the point of the coins just about spilling out. As he walked the weight of the coins would cause his pants to start falling down. He would hike up his pants only to find that they kept slipping down due to the weight of all of those coins. It was such a funny sight to watch him walk around the ball park with his heavy coin stuffed pockets hiking up his pants every so often!


TALKING ABOUT MONEY - MAKING MONEY FOR KIDS

At some point in your child's life they will begin to ask you for ideas or jobs they can do to make some of their own money. They know that your job as their parent is to provide for their basic needs but what about those fun "wants" or desire to buy something for themselves - how do they go about earning money so they can buy their own stuff? Now is a great time to teach your child about work! Instilling a strong work ethic so they know that starting and finishing a job and doing it well is very important and if they don't complete it they won't get paid! 


link to FREE printable

Check out these FREE printable conversation prompts from Wikibuys.com that takes the next step in the money discussion with your child. 

Questions like:

  • Why do we need to make money?
  • What are some ways you can earn money?
  • How much money do you want to make in one day?





TALKING ABOUT MONEY - SAVING, SPENDING, BUDGETING AND FINANCIAL CONCEPTS

There is no right or wrong age to begin talking to your child about these financial concepts. Introducing financial vocabulary to a young child is a start even though they don't understand the concept - yet. Talk opening with your spouse about how much your family budgets each week for your necessities like groceries, gas or other expenditures. If an unplanned event or opportunity presents itself don't be afraid to discuss with your child that you may have to skip it this time since it wasn't budgeted for or let them know that money has been budgeted for and set aside so you can take part in these unplanned experiences. Either way you are teaching your child how money is managed properly in the real world. 

Here are some more great conversation starter tools you can print and use to teach your child about saving, spending, budgeting and more financial concepts. 


click for FREE printable


Some sample questions include:

  • What is a budget?
  • What does it mean to "spend within your means"?
  • What is one thing you regret spending money on?
  • What is a loan?
  • What are taxes?

My hope is that by starting the conversation early, introducing financial vocabulary to your young child and teaching them how to count and use money, your child will become a financially responsible young adult in the future!


Free Printable

Wondering how you, as a parent, can invest in your child's future? Check out this post for Four Ways You Can Invest in Your Child's Future That Won't Cost You Money!

click HERE to read more...


Please follow my blog so you don't miss out on more great parenting tips and tricks! Parenting is hard - let's navigate it together. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

6 Cool Ways to Customize Your Child's School Supplies




The annual scramble for back to school supplies is well underway. Paper, pencils, folders, notebooks and backpacks are some of the necessary supplies your student will need whether they are home schooled or go to a public or private school. As a student they know that the generic brands of these supplies can look a little um....boring, but as a parent we like the lower price tag these simple (OK, boring) supplies come with. 

The list each year for school supplies and the cost associated with the supplies just keeps going up! According to the National Retail Federation the average planned back to school spending per household (not including college age students) is just under $700! This includes supplies, clothing and electronic purchases for school. Yikes! 

This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on a link and make a purchase I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. For more information please see my Disclaimer pager. Thanks!

I know as a parent you are torn between buying little Johnny that custom Pokemon binder with matching pencils, case and folder that retails way above your budget or just sticking with the cheaper, generic, no bells or whistles binder and gear that is wallet friendly. We have all been there! 

But...

What if there was a third option that will make both your child and your wallet happy? Customizing or personalizing school supplies is a great way to take those boring generic supplies and give them a little upgrade and make-over so they look cool and still cost less. Win - Win!

To start upgrading those boring generic supplies check out Mint.com's FREE set of unique School Subject Printable that can be printed on plain paper or sticker paper and used to customize those boring generic supplies. Not only will these labels look good, they are a good organization tool for your child so that they can keep their school work, loose papers or folders organized.


Mint.com Blog
(click this link to get the downloadable file at Mint.com!)

As a homeschool family one of our back to school traditions is to spend time on our first day of school decorating and personalizing binders and notebooks. Each of my kids (including my teens) has their own three ring binder, folders and several notepads they like to customize. 

Because I know my kids love this tradition I make sure that before the first day of our school year I scour the dollar store for items like stickers, glitter or washi tape and even cool wall decals they can use to upgrade their supplies. 




The great thing about the boring generic three ring binder we use is the clear plastic cover over the front and back of the binder. It is so easy for my kids to make their own custom cover and slide it inside the plastic cover and change it whenever they get tired of their original decorations!


We will definitely be using the free school subject printable from Mint.com too since my kids use their big three ring binder to organize paperwork for all of their school subjects. This will help add some organization to their papers and make it easy for me as their teacher to find their completed assignments. 




Cool Ways To Customize Your School Supplies


Let's keep those creative juices flowing shall we? Here are a few more great ideas your kids can do to rock their school supplies with custom upgrades that are budget friendly!





Add Duct tape to the front and back of plain notebooks to personalize them / Inner Child Fun





Fun, colorful or patterned paper can easily (and cheaply) be mod podged to the front of any notebook / PB Teen

3. Coloring Page


Color in this printable coloring page in your favorite colors. Use one for each binder! / Balancing Home




Great tutorial to make your own embroidered notebook cover at Knits & Brew.

5. Chalkboard Paint


Love to doodle? Can't decide on a design you like? With chalkboard paint you can change your design anytime, easily! / A Little Craft In Your Day

Your Turn

Back to school can be affordable and fun if you put a little effort into pre-planning! Show me your custom school supplies or comment below to tell me what your child did to their supplies to make it custom. 

Before we go....Parents, need some help staying organized and on top of the back to school craziness? Print off these handy (and FREE) Back to School Shopping Checklist



Also, don't forget to check out this post with some great back to school supply ideas you can get from the Dollar Tree! 


click HERE to read more

Thursday, August 1, 2019

4 Ways to Invest In Your Child's Future That Don't Require You To Spend Money

Are you investing enough in your child's future? It's a question most parents start asking themselves not long after their little bundle of joy enters this world. 



This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on a link and make a purchase I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. For more information please see my Disclaimer page. Thanks!

Investing in one's the future doesn't always have to mean contributing to a retirement plan or an IRA. As a parent, investing in your children is a lifelong process with the goal of a well rounded, productive and independent young human being.

We all know that raising kids is expensive starting with boxes and boxes of diapers, baby gear and Onsies to feeding that growing teen who is always hungry! Aside from investing in and meeting your child's physical needs, have you ever considered the many ways we can invest in our children that won't require you to pull out your wallet or use your credit card but are still just as important?




Investing In Your Child's Independence

Beginning with those young toddler years, investing in your child's independence is how we help our children become socially successful. The goal of this investment or the "long term gain" is to help our kids establish a skill set that promotes their ability to work independently, interact appropriately with others and be competent problem solvers.

How do you invest in your child's independence? 

It starts with the right tools, the most important being consistent parental discipline


I know we all shudder at the word "discipline" but when we look at discipline as a way to love your child it takes on a much more positive connotation.  Established and consistent discipline of setting boundaries and sticking to them helps foster your child's ability to learn self-discipline. Well established boundaries introduced to your child from the get-go are important so children know where the lines are so they can begin to practice staying inside them. 

Innocent childish behavior left unchecked could lead to future behavioral issues that are much more difficult to fix as you work to help your child break these bad habits. Consistency is key even on those tough days when you're exhausted and running on fumes!

Let me give you a real life example of what this looks like. My second oldest daughter became a "biter" when she got frustrated or angry. She was only two and a half /three years old and understandably difficult situations frustrated her so she lashed out by biting others. Obviously we couldn't let her keep doing this and had to put a stop to it immediately (for the safety of all of us!). Of course I could have just yelled at her or put her in time out every time she acted out but that would have left her "tool box" empty for the next difficult situation that arose. Instead, realizing her biting was a symptom of her frustrations I used her time out as a chance to sit with her (after she calmed down) and talk about how to act in difficult situations - filling up her "tool box" with "tools".


Tools For Your Child's Tool Box - Independence

Helping my daughter come up with words to use in frustrating situations, by herself she couldn't do, was one way I helped give her a new tool. I would tell her things like "when you feel angry or frustrated tell someone how you are feeling" like "I want a turn with this toy please" or "I don't like _____" and even "you are making me mad".

I didn't expect perfection however I did expect her to start trying out the new tool she had acquired. After many more time out sessions (the consistent discipline part) and discussion of how to behave and what to say (using her tools) I started to see a change. Self discipline was kicking in and her ability to control herself in a difficult situation improved. This was one small step towards independence. The investment was beginning to pay off!

This may seem like a small step but teaching your child how to be self controlled and communicate effectively will serve them well the rest of their lives. Investing in your child's independence is an accumulation of small baby steps that add up over time. It is a lot of hard work but the future rewards are well worth it!





Investing in Your Child's Creativity


Creativity isn't something we are born with rather creativity, according to Robert Sternberg, Professor of Human Development at Cornell Universtiy, "creativity is a decision in the same way investing is. It is a decision to buy low and sell high in the world of ideas" According to Sternberg's research he concludes that creativity is a conscious choice of how one decides to make use of six distinct but interrelated skills or resources better. Sternberg calls this the Investment Theory of Creativity.

As a parent understanding these six skills or resources and how to help foster creativity in your child is another great way to invest in your child. Helping your child develop an attitude toward life that fosters a willingness to blaze their own path is the start to helping them embrace creativity.


Tools for Your Child's Tool Box - Creativity

1.  ABILITIES / INTELLECTUAL SKILLS

The skill to see challenges in a new way, to determine which new ideas are worth pursuing and which are not and to be able to communicate the value of an idea in a convincing way, all help grow creativity in your child.

As a parent you can foster the growth of this skill through meaningful conversations with your child such as:


  • Can you give me an example of that?
  • I disagree/agree with ____ because...
  • Are there any other ideas or thoughts you have about ____?
  • What you are saying is...

2. KNOWLEDGE

What we know and how much we know can be helpful or a barrier to our creativity. Too much past knowledge about something can result in a closed and unchanging perspective however, the opposite is true for someone with little to no knowledge of a field.

Addressing this skill through parenting requires us to ask our children if they are willing to make a decision to move beyond what they already know with the goal of learning more as well as helping them draw upon and use their past knowledge. How do you do this? Encourage your child to keep learning (beyond their next text), read a variety of books and to spend time talking to people asking them questions about their life experiences. 

3. STYLES OF THINKING

Overall, our styles of thinking are the preferred ways we choose to use the skills we have available to us. Encouraging your child to think through things and look at challenges and think through them in a new way is one way to hone their ability to think creatively. Sternberg uses the term "a legislative style" since it requires:
  • a preference for thinking through things
  • a decision to think in new ways
  • a decision to think globally as well as locally (look at the big picture)
  • a decision to value creativity

As a parent challenge your child to think "outside the box" as new experiences or problems arise. Give them room to fail and try again so that they practice this skill.

4. PERSONALITY

Personality plays a big part in one's creative functioning. Personality attributes like the willingness to overcome obstacles, willingness to take sensible risks, willingness to tolerate ambiguity and the ability to get a job done satisfactorily all support creativity.

A child who thinks in a way that appears to be defying the crowd or going against traditional conventions might just be trying to exercise their creativity. Giving your child room to let their personality shine will help them grow their creativity. If your child is hesitant, you can help generate these opportunities by having your child participate in the next age group of a sport or activity, or for an older child encourage them to make purchases or returns from a store on their own. Sometimes a little extra challenge is all they need in order to exercise those personality attributes.

5. MOTIVATION

Have you ever done something you loved so much it didn't even feel like work to you? We all know that not everything we do will feel this way but finding something, even just one thing to be interested in can help keep you motivated. According to Sternberg, motivation is not something inherent in a person therefore we have to find a way to make a task or a job/chore interesting to us. 

Creative work is rarely done in an area where we don't love what we are doing!

Sometimes we have to get creative to be more creative. Finding a new angle on the task to make it appealing rather than boring is a great way a parent can help their child stay motivated.

Here is an example I used with my children. My oldest son hates to write. He will avoid it at all costs if possible. On the other hand he LOVES sports and will do anything he can to play it, watch it and talk about it. In an effort to motivate him to write I had to get creative to help him become more creative (and motivated) with writing. I did this by "hiring" him as our family's official sports reporter. His job is to write a weekly sports article telling his readers (his family) about the game (any game he chooses) and to give a "live" update of the game's highlights. Because he loves sports so much he doesn't seem to mind writing as much as he used to when the topic was something he wasn't at all interested in - in fact he tends to write more so that his readers get the whole story! Plus using his "sports reporter's voice" is fun for him and our entire family!

6. ENVIRONMENT

Kids (and parents) need an environment that is supportive and rewarding of creative ideas. We all love a pat on the back when we do something we think is of value. Positive feedback, and sometimes negative feedback, can help your child grow in their creativity.

Encouraging your child to try new things and rewarding them or applauding their efforts are ways you can provide your child with the right environment that fosters creativity. For all of my children, showcasing their artwork, essays or other creative projects in a special place in our house is important to them. It is a non-verbal way to give them feedback. I even have had some of their artwork professionally framed and hung on the walls of our house.




Investing in Your Child's Work Ethic

Monkey see, monkey do - your children learn what a good work ethic is by watching you work. How hard you work, no matter what the task, teaches your child to value a healthy work ethic. Taking ownership of their responsibilities like chores or schoolwork is how they start practicing their own work ethic. 

Doing the job right the first time and on time are all important factors of instilling a good work ethic in your child. 

Start when they are young so the investment in their work ethic today pays off in their future pursuits.


Tools for Your Child's Tool Box - Work Ethic

For elementary age children their job is school. Whether your child is homeschooled or attends a public/private school they are responsible for completing the assigned tasks or homework. Guide your children on how to manage their time so that the work doesn't completely overwhelm them but let them be responsible for meeting deadlines and handing in work on time.

Working side by side together on projects like planting a garden, fixing something that is broken or building something can provide an opportunity for your child to experience helping you work and seeing you work hard on a task.

My youngest son is a work horse when it comes to home repair/fix-it projects. When he was 5 years old our mailbox post needed to be repainted and he asked if he could do it. He had been watching me stain our deck in the hot sun and understood the mechanics of painting and he thought he was ready to tackle a project of his own. After giving him a small can of paint and a paint brush he started painting the mailbox post. 

It was a very hot day which made it hard to work outside in and I expected him to give up after five minutes in the scorching heat but, to my surprise he kept working. About an hour later this little guy, dripping in sweat and covered in splatters of paint, finished the project without complaint! 

After he was done I asked him why he kept going even though it was so hot out and took so long. He said "Mom, you did it so I knew I could do it." He watched me work hard on painting the deck so he knew what kind of work ethic it would take for him to paint his project. 

Teaching your child to value time and respect other's time is a valuable work ethic lesson too. My high school band director always said "To be early is to be on time. To be on time is to be late." 

As a teen I learned that in most situations, like band class, showing up a few minutes early allowed me to get ready physically and mentally to start class so that my time and my director's time wasn't wasted. 

Teach your teen to value time so that they are ready to go and respectful to other's time too.




Investing In Your Child's Future


One of my favorite children's books is Ms. Rumphius. It is a story about a little girl, Alice Rumphius, who is given a challenge that when she grows up she must find and do one thing to make the world more beautiful. Throughout her life as a student, world traveler and eventually an old woman, Ms. Rumphius remembers this challenge and eventually finds one way to make the world more beautiful. 

This seemingly simple challenge is a reminder that investing in our children's future at a young age can and will have a global impact. It is also a great challenge to encourage your child to focus on other people rather than themselves and to have a heart of generosity so they can give back to others.

College or a trade school is not the end of their future. Remembering that your investing in their lifelong future and teaching your children how to be a productive member of the community is important.


Tools for Your Child's Tool Box - Their Future

Observing your child to learn what their likes/dislikes, strengths/weaknesses, talents and skills are is a valuable way to help identify what their future interests could be. Shadowing a professional or volunteering and serving others is a great way for your child to learn about their God given passions. 

Investing time and encouraging them to get involved in the community not only helps them gain valuable experience but helps develop soft skills like communication, teamwork and problem solving.

You know your child best so helping them navigate the best tests to take for college admissions, selecting the right school and finding scholarships that fit their talents are all great ways you can invest in your child's future.




Investment Assessment

An investment in our children whether it is in their independence, their creativity, their work ethic or their future doesn't just change our children but it changes us as parents! 

I encourage you today to take an assessment of these "non financial" investments and see where you need to make a deposit in your child's life. The future payout is worth it!

Sternberg, Robert J.(2006) 'The Nature of Creativity', Creativity Research Journal, 18: 1, 87 — 98

Thursday, July 18, 2019

The 2019 Limitless Learners Contest - Enter Today!





College may seem like a long way off when you are surrounded by little ones who need you all day long! Changing diapers, picking up toys, preparing endless meals and snacks might be your current focus but this is a short season and in the blink of an eye those little ones will be ready for college and ready to leave the nest. 

It is never too late to prepare for their future even though it might seem a long way off! College is expensive therefore any opportunity you have today to help offset some of the future costs is well worth it. Education.com understands this and is offering an amazing opportunity for your child to win a little cash to put towards their future college education. 

This post may contain affiliate links which means if you click on a link and make a purchase I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. For more information please see my Disclaimer page.





The Limitless Learners Contest


This summer Education.com is proud to offer $9,000 in prizes as part of their Limitless Learners Contest! The contest encourages kids in/entering K-5th grade to think creatively about what education means to them and use their art, writing, and language skills to express their ideas. 

Six (6) lucky kids (a winner will be chosen from each grade level) will be chosen to receive $500 for college PLUS a free premium lifetime membership to Education.com for their parent or educator! Also, the winning child can choose to nominate their school or local library to win a $1,000 donation as well. 

I’d love to share this generous and amazing opportunity with you, your friends and the talented children in your community. Here are the details for this year's contest:


Contest Details

Who Qualifies - Applicants for the Limitless Learners Contest must:
  • Be students in kindergarten to 5th grade as of the 2019–2020 school year.


  • Have the written consent of a parent or legal guardian (see form here).


  • Be legal residents of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia.

How to apply - Students will need to do the following by October 31, 2019 to apply:
  • Obtain a completed consent form signed by the applicant's parent or legal guardian. (click here)
  • Respond to the following prompt in the appropriate format (listed below): 


Describe a time when you were having so much fun, you didn't realize you were learning something new:
    • Kindergarten students: Create a piece of art (e.g. draw or paint a picture) and write about what is happening, or ask an adult to write a sentence or two describing your picture.


    • 1st grade students: Create a piece of art (e.g. draw or paint a picture) and write 1–3 sentences about it.


    • 2nd grade students: Write a short story (5–8 sentences) and create at least one picture to illustrate it.


    • 3rd grade: Write a short story, journal entry, or comic strip.


    • 4th grade: Write a short story, journal entry, poem, or comic strip.


    • 5th grade: Write a personal narrative, short story, poem, or comic strip.


Submit the above to our judges:


    • Via standard mail to:
      Education.com
      401 East Third Avenue
      San Mateo, CA 94401
      Attn: Limitless Learners


Judging Criteria - 
Submissions will be judged based on quality, creativity, storytelling, and originality.

Click to read the OFFICIAL RULES



Take Action Today - The contest deadline is October 31, 2019 so please download, print and send in your entry via the Limitless Learners Contest Form. 

**Make sure that you the parent (or guardian) sign the contest form on page 3 so that your child's submission is accepted. 

Please note that I am not a representative of Education.com and I did not receive any benefits (financial or products) from Education.com to publish this post. These are my own opinions. 

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Mouth Watering Grill Seasoning Recipes You Can Make At Home

Summer is here and it is time to up your grilling game! After months of tasty crockpot recipes and soups consumed during the winter it is time to bust out the grill and enjoy cooking outside once again. Nothing beats the smoky flavor of fresh off the grill food whether it is chicken, beef or even pizza!




For years I used a gas grill and was fairly happy with the results....until I switched to a charcoal grill

Wow what a difference! 

There are pros and cons to both methods of grilling but in my opinion the charcoal grill is king. If you are the type of griller who likes to turn on the gas, push a button and wallah you are ready to start cooking, a charcoal grill is not for you.

Honestly, when I first started using a charcoal grill it really tested my patience! It takes time for the charcoal to really heat up to the desired temperature so you have to plan ahead a little to make sure the grill is ready to cook your food. 

I would pile up the charcoal briquettes in the bottom of my grill, squirt a little liquid lighter fluid on them, light a match and hope for the best. Nine times out of ten this resulted in a little smoke and nothing else especially no hot coals. I was frustrated to say the least.

...But then my sister-in-law introduced me to a game changing charcoal grill tool that make things much easier!! The charcoal grill chimney fire starter.



This tool is amazing and really gets the coals red hot and ashy quickly which is exactly what you want. If you have never used one of these before here is how you do it:

HOW TO USE A CHIMNEY FIRE STARTER TOOL
  • wad up some newspaper and shove it in the bottom of the chimney fire starter
  • pour in your charcoal briquettes
  • place the chimney starter in your grill on top of the bed where the hot coals will go once they are hot (you do NOT want to start the chimney starter outside of the grill - this could start a fire!)
  • douse the charcoal briquettes with lighter fluid and then use a lighter to get the fire going. 

In addition to lighting the lighter fluid on fire I also like to ignite the wadded up newspaper in the bottom. To do this I just stick the end of the lighter into the chimney starter and touch the flame from the lighter to the paper.

The briquettes will smoke and eventually start to turn a little gray and ashy and in the middle there will be a hot red center which is exactly what you want. Now all you have to do us grab the chimney handle (which isn't hot!) and carefully pour the hot coals into a heap in the bottom of the grill. 

You can spread them out a bit too if you don't want the heat centered in one spot. I find it is nice to have the briquettes in one spot which allows for a hot section of the grill and a less hot section. This is helpful when you are grilling different kinds of foods at the same time.

Most grills have an external thermometer so you can monitor the internal grill temp to know when it is time to begin grilling your food. The vent on your grill is helpful when you want to let in more oxygen to increase the temperature or close it a bit to reduce the amount of oxygen which in turn will decrease the internal grill temp. Play around with this to find the ideal venting for your grill.

Now that you have your grill smoking hot it is time to start grilling! Besides hot coals, you want to make sure your meat or vegatables are well seasoned with the right mix of seasonings. Mixing your own grilling seasonings is easy and fun! 

Beware, once you make your own seasoning mixes you will never return to the store bought pre-mixed packets! Here are some recipes and ideas to get you started:



Make Your Own Seasoning Mixes - 

Mouthwatering Homemade Recipes 

You Will Love


A well seasoned steak or chicken breast tastes amazing when cooked on a grill! One of my favorite things to do when grilling is to doctor up the seasonings. Even store bought seasonings can be enhanced to your liking. It is so much fun playing around with different flavors, spices and rubs knowing that the combinations are endless and the results are so tasty!

If you have never made your own seasoning mix I highly suggest you give it a try. My family's favorite seasoning mix is the fajita southwest mix that I use in everything from tacos and fajitas to pot pie and soup. Yep, it is that versatile!

To get you started making your own grill seasoning mixes here are nine fabulous mix recipes you can start with thanks to Gifts.com. Once you've whipped up a few different mixes make sure you store them in an airtight container so they stay fresh longer. This handy set of spice jars comes with airtight shaker lid perfect to store your homemade mixes.

Gifts.com also included seven useful hacks to improve any seasoning which is at the bottom of the handy info graphic so be sure to check it out or Pin for later.





DIY Grill Seasoning Mixes Make Great Gifts


Now that you have mastered the mixing of your own seasonings why not share your creations with others? Package up your latest mix, add a label to the container and give them as gifts to your friends and family. These seasoning mixes make great gifts anytime of the year. Gifts.com has created free printer jar labels and gift tags along with instructions on how to make your own. Click HERE for the link to the labels and gift tags.


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

5 Games to Play At A Bridal Shower That Your Guests Will Love

Coming up with great bridal shower games can be a real challenge but it doesn't have to be. With a little creativity and these great free printables not only can you throw the best bridal shower ever but you can do it within a reasonable budget too!  Planning ahead and getting creative is all you need to do to pull off a fun and memorable shower!





A wedding shower should be a fun event that the bride along with all the guests should enjoy. At most wedding showers the diversity in ages of those in attendance can really make it hard for the person planning the shower to come up with games and activities that all of the guests will enjoy and be able to participate in. The games your guests play together at a shower can be a lasting memory for them as well as the bride so choose wisely based on those who will be attending - you don't want great aunt Edna to break a hip while participating in a more active type of game!

This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on the link and make a purchase I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. For more information please read my disclaimer page. Thanks!


Need some help coming up with games and activities for guests to play at a bridal shower? Zola.com, the wedding company that will do anything for love (aka - experts), has provided me with several fun shower game ideas and 57 free printables for you to download and use at the next bridal shower you host.

There is no need to break the bank in order to throw a fabulous bridal shower - these fun and memorable games will help you stay in budget and provide lots of fun.


SUPER FUN GAMES TO PLAY AT A BRIDAL SHOWER 


BRIDAL TRIVIA




This is a great game for a family bridal shower. For the soon-to-be-new in-laws this game is a great way for them to really get to know some unique facts about their future daughter in law. Also, this game can be played by all of your guests no matter their age or physical abilities. For the free printable from Zola.com click HERE.



RING HUNT

Looking for a bridal shower game that will require guests to get up and move around a bit (hopefully promoting some mingling!) to look for hidden rings. Before the shower starts the host needs to hide plastic engagement rings all over the room. The person who finds the most wins a prize. Get the free printable for this game HERE. These plastic engagement rings are the perfect size to use for this game and you can use any extras as cupcake toppers!



BRIDAL SHOWER CHARADES

These wedding themed charades are sure to get your party guests laughing! This classic game is guaranteed to create some funny and memorable moments. Print your set on card stock, put them in a bowl and let guests take turns drawing them out and then acting out the word(s). Print your free bridal shower charades cards HERE.






WINE TASTING

Treat your guests to a wine tasting experience as a unique bridal shower activity. These beautiful wine tasting score cards can be printed on card stock and distributed to guests so they can tally their experience sampling a variety of wines. Also, mixing inexpensive wines with a little pricier ones will help you keep the cost reasonable. You might find that your guests prefer the Winking Owl Pinot Grigio (thank you Aldi!) more than a higher priced bottle. Use small plastic cups instead of large wine glasses to help keep the cost reasonable too.

You don't have to be an expert sommelier to have fun with this activity - just encourage your guests to share their opinions of each wine with those at their table and let the conversation roll! Find the free printable wine tasting cards HERE




FLOWER CROWN BAR

A Flower crown bar is another great activity to do when your guests range in age and physical abilities. Vases or pails of fresh cut flowers and some bobby pins is all you need in order to do this one. Check your local farmer's market for in season flowers to use or pick wild flowers to use that won't cost you a thing. Encourage guests to accessorize their hairstyles with the fresh cut flowers securing them with the bobby pins. Make sure to capture these moments as guests pose together for pictures. You could even vote for the most creative crown with the winner receiving a prize. To download the printable for this activity click HERE.




If these awesome bridal shower games and activities aren't enough check out these additional 49 free bridal shower printables to use the next time you host a bridal shower.



...More Bridal Shower Ideas


WEDDING ADVICE CARDS

Everyone loves to pass along sound advice to those just starting out on a new adventure especially if the advice giver has many years of marriage experience. Give your guests an opportunity to impart some words of wisdom to the bride and groom as they begin their marriage. These advice cards can be used at a bridal shower and at the wedding reception too! Collect the cards and put them in an album or use a small binder to keep them together for the bride and groom to read later. 





Download and print the free advice cards HERE.


RECIPE CARDS

Does your family have a special recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation? Keep the tradition going by giving the bride and groom a collection of treasured family recipes. Send guests a blank recipe card with their invitation (or use the recipe card as the invitation) and ask that they bring the completed recipe cards with them to the shower. 

During the shower collect the cards from guests and let the bride to be read a few out loud to guests so everyone gets a chance to hear some of the delicious recipes that were shared. After the shower collect the cards and put them in a recipe card box or recipe binder for the bride to take home with her.





More Budget Friendly Bridal Shower Ideas

If you are throwing a bridal shower but have a limited budget these free printables (above) will certainly help you keep the cost of the party reasonable. Check out more budget friendly bridal shower ideas in this post: 10 Ways To Throw a Bridal Shower That Won't Break The Bank.


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