The Importance of Reading to Kids


Reading to your child is one of the most important things you can do for their development. It has so many benefits for children. The more you read and the earlier you start, the better for children’s learning.

children reading, the key to learning

Sometimes it’s hard as a daycare provider or a parent to find the time to read to your children every day. It’s super important to MAKE that time. Your children will be better off for it and in turn our future will be as well. Click here to check out my favorite children’s books. 

preschool lesson plans, reading with kids

Spending time reading with your child creates bonding with them.

Do you have a favorite reading memory as a child? Mine is when my 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Nelson would read to us at circle reading time every day. She read us the Ralph books and the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. Recently, she celebrated her 100th birthday. Click here to see more about it. Bonding through reading helps kids to learn to build healthy relationships. Healthy relationships are the foundation for success. It also helps them learn and understand interactions with others. This even further helps with building healthy relationships. It helps improve social skills which are the foundation to school success.

Reading to your child helps their brain develop.

There are pathways in your brain that are formed through experiences upon which future learning follows. If those pathways aren’t built, future information cannot travel on them. Reading helps build these pathways. The more you read to your child, the more pathways are built. The earlier you begin, the more pathways are built. Children learn 50% of what they will learn in their entire lifetime by the age of 3, these are critical times to build on. Reading is a great way to build them. Cognitive skills are greatly improved by reading.

Reading helps children develop creativity.

Books take people on adventures to faraway lands. They teach life lessons. Reading helps us imagine or even travel through time. Reading to your kids early will give them amazing ways of looking at things. It will help them develop a sense of wonder.

Reading books to kids helps them develop literacy skills and language.

Children who are read to have higher vocabularies and develop earlier speech than they would if not read to. Vocabulary is linked to IQ and other types of intelligence.

Reading opens the door to a promising future.

The lack of strong reading skills gives kids many challenges in life. Studies show children who aren’t reading at grade level by third grade have a higher rate of continued struggle with reading as adults, are more likely to drop out of school in later grades, face unemployment and even jail later on.

The root of many problems for people who fail to succeed is social issues. Many of them are rooted in lack of education. Reading can stimulate a child’s readiness for education. Literacy boosts economics, keeps families together, and reduces poverty. Reading is even shown to help reduce gender inequality for women in the work place.

All further learning is affected by a child’s ability to read. Reading to children can stimulate the desire to read, the understanding that words have meaning, and the comprehension of what is being read and how to read themselves.


Reading helps with language skills and helps children communicate.

It is vital for success in school and college. It also is vital for success in the work place.

Reading is fundamental to so many other forms of learning. It’s necessary to cook a recipe, read a prescription label, operate equipment and so many other things that are vital for life. It’s the basis of everything else around us. Click here to read more about the importance of reading. 

Grab a book and put a child in your lap for a story today. You will be making a huge investment in the future.

Click on any of these images to get some wonderful books for your kids.  

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Any post on this blog may contain affiliate links which pay me a very small commission for items you purchase using the links but costs you nothing extra. I can help defray a small percentage of the cost of producing the blog to share information with you.

Save Time and Money with Pantry Cooking


I love being able to make just about anything we want to eat with what we have in the pantry. It took me many years to learn how to cook without having to run to the store for every recipe. One thing that saves me tons of time and money is using my daycare menu, planning out meals for the fam, and only shopping once a month for staple items.


Shop Local

I shop with Oklahoma Food Co-op once a month for my beef, wheat berries, yogurt when I don’t make it, and cheese. I also buy any pork products I may use from them as well. I try to buy local fruits and veggies when they have them available. Other products I may buy include garden plants, peanuts, peanut butter, and pasta. I love the Co-op because I know the food they sell comes from Oklahoma producers. I love to shop local.

I go to a local fruit company to buy produce in between my monthly shopping trip. I can get in and out of the small store with some local products and it doesn’t take me as long as going into a big supermarket. We also, during the gardening season, eat from what we grow, so I don’t usually go to the fruit store during summer.

I also shop for dairy products at Braum’s each week. I use Braum’s because there are not hormones in their milk. I get milk, cottage cheese, and butter there. I will also pick up bananas if I don’t need anything else from the fruit store to save a trip.

When planning our monthly shopping trip, I make a detailed list of what I would buy from the store we shop at. If I send my husband to the store, we save money because he only gets what is on the list and doesn’t do a lot of impulse buying like I do. He’s willing to go, so that’s a good way for us to save money.

Menus help cut down on waste

I have a shopping list that corresponds with my daycare menu, and I go through that and write down on our shopping list what we need. A great way to save money would be to use the grocery store ads to plan your family’s meals for the month. Use whatever is on the front page of the ads that is actually healthy, whole, real food, to plan them out.

Another great way to save time and money is by buying in bulk. I love to order bulk grains online and have them delivered in 25 or 50 pound bags so I don’t have to buy that for months and I don’t have a ton of tiny packages that get wasted in the landfill or have to be recycled. I get as much of my food in bulk as possible. Also, if you have 25 pounds of several products, if something happened to interrupt your food supply, you are prepared. I like knowing I have something to feed everyone no matter what.

I order these items in bulk:


Brown Rice

Wheat Berries

Raw Sugar

Old Fashioned Rolled Oats




Now let’s talk about what items I always have on hand:

Wheat berries to grind whole wheat flour (Soft and hard wheat)

Organic, unbleached white flour

Raw sugar


Baking Soda and Powder


Chocolate chips

Cocoa powder

Cream of Tartar

A couple of kinds of cereal

A couple of kinds of crackers

Tortilla chips


Olive oil

Coconut oil






Bulk assorted meats frozen

A few bags of frozen vegetables or multiple packages of veggies frozen from the garden

Sour cream

Cream cheese


Cheeses (I always have cheddar, mozzarella, and parmesan, but like lots of kinds of cheeses.)

Cottage cheese



Rice milk for those of us who cannot tolerate cow’s milk


Sunflower Seeds

Pumpkin seeds

Sesame seeds

Dried herbs

Fresh fruits and veggies including lemons and limes plus whatever is in season



Tomato products (usually frozen from garden produce, but some canned for when we run out)

Jars of pickles

Raisins (sometimes homemade)

White vinegar for cleaning and cooking

Balsamic vinegar

Apple cider vinegar



Buying monthly cuts down on travel time and impulse buying

I can pretty much make anything I want to make with these items. I rarely have to go out and buy something to cook with and I cook an average of 4 meals a day including snack for the kids. If we want any sweet treats, I make those here, they are much healthier than store bought. They taste better too.

It’s so much easier to come up with a plan for dinner when you have food on hand and don’t have to run to the store every day to come up with a meal. I love knowing if we got snowed in or anything like that, we could still find something to make to eat. If you buy your food in bulk to cut down on packaging and well as wasting gas and time running to the store every night.

I have everything I need for tons of different meals made from scratch. I cook inexpensively using lots of oats, rice, pasta, and beans for our meals. These items are nutritious and very inexpensive.

Here are 23 things I could make from what I have:


Granola or granola bars


Taco soup

Vegetable soup

Scrambled eggs, bacon and toast






Broccoli rice casserole

Cucumber salad


Roast with potatoes and carrots


Grilled cheese sandwiches

Sausage Biscuits or Biscuits and gravy

Chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy and veggies


Pasta salad

Meatballs or meatloaf


Pulled pork sandwiches

Obviously there are hundreds more, these are just a few ideas. I hope you take these ideas and make a plan of your own to save time and money.

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Any post on this blog may contain affiliate links which pay me a very small commission for items you purchase using the links but costs you nothing extra. I can help defray a small percentage of the cost of producing the blog to share information with you.

Be Thankful for the Little Things


Sometimes in life we lose our focus and put it on the wrong places. We see a big storm or problem and we can’t see the good that is all around us in the little things. I like to revel and be thankful for the little things in my life.

Be thankful for the little things

When I’m having a particularly rough time, I love how God will float a butterfly or hummingbird past my window. Sometimes a deer will walk up in my front yard. I know that He’s telling me it’s going to be okay. One time when I was super anxious about something and I felt like I was going to pass out, I looked out the back window and saw a cute little box turtle crawling across the back yard. It was a wink from my Savior telling me He had my back. I whispered thank you to Him and then a second little box turtle came crawling along behind the first one. I knew He meant, doubly that He had a plan.

monarch butterfly gorgeous

He’s an amazing God and I don’t know how I would living one minute without His love. I love how He loves us when we don’t feel lovable. I love how He loves us when we don’t love ourselves. He even loves us when we don’t want Him too. He’s gentle, good and kind.

One time my daughter told me she was having a particularly rough day. She was walking home from somewhere and saw a plastic bag blowing in the wind. Now if you know her at all, you know she picks up every plastic bag she sees and she cuts them and makes them in to plarn which she uses for crochet. She loves the idea of picking up litter and reusing it. This bag restored her faith that everything was going to be okay. It’s the little things.

Little things come like a whisper

Little things come in a still small whisper sometimes like a butterfly fluttering in front of the window or a plastic bag blowing in the wind, but they are valuable nonetheless. I love those whispers.

I have a home daycare and sometimes it’s something small a daycare parent does. A sweet text saying they appreciate something I did, or a stick of the sausage I make for the kids speaks volumes about how they feel about me. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture to be so valuable to me. It’s the little things.

blessings of love from children

Sometimes it’s just the way a baby crawls up in my lap to get a snuggle or two that warms my heart and soul so much and I feel energized to face more obstacles. Have you ever had a child reach out to hold your hand or tell you they love you? That doesn’t cost anything or take a big effort, it just is and it’s so special and valuable.

I feel like somebody because of the love of my children. I feel like somebody because of the love of my own daughter. I feel like somebody because my husband loves me unconditionally NO MATTER HOW I ACT. Do you know what that shows me? How much more my God loves me than even he can. I can’t even fathom someone accepting me more than Mr. Kent. I know God does though.

God loves us

The first Sunday I attended my current church was the first time I really understood God’s love for me. My Pastor preached about God’s love and how He had a future planned for me. It was the first Sunday in January of 1996. We walked into the church and sat down and my life was changed forever. I realized that God LOVES me, HE LOVES ME. Do you believe that? ME. I’m stubborn, and weak, and flawed, and full of anxious feelings, but as weird as I am, HE LOVES ME just the way I am.

In fact, He designed me this way, He loves me this way, He thinks I’m DELIGHTFUL. He thinks you are too. He loves you just the way you are right where you are. It’s the little things that prove it. The whispers in the wind. His way of speaking that you know that you know it’s Him. He’s amazing.

Being thankful for the little things

Do you know what makes me feel so special? When a friend calls, texts, or messages me just to say I mean something to them. It doesn’t have to be a fancy card, it can just be a piece of paper they took the time to stick in the mail. It tells me they care. It tells me they are thinking of me. It’s the little things.

Life is made up of so many details and small pieces. There are big hard problems. Money is hard, relationships are hard, jobs are hard, and managing everyday life is hard, but guess what? There are beautiful moments in between. There are butterfly flutters and I love yous. There are heart beats and snuggles. There are purrs from a cat or licks from a dog. The sun rises and falls and it’s beauty is there for your pleasure.

The cool breeze on a hot day is a blessing. Finding a penny or a dollar on the ground is exciting. Getting a note or a call means something. Birthday parties with your sister are special times you get to have. You are not promised more of them, so enjoy this one. Life is full of blessings if you take the time to look for them. It’s the little things.

The little things build up into the big things if you focus on what is good, lovely and pure. I am so thankful for the little things. I call my life blessed. I am not rich or powerful. I do not have a job that is revered in society, but do you know what? My daycare parents revere it and they appreciate the work I do. They know there is something special going on here and it’s rare and valuable.

Little things matter.

I don’t have a fancy car or a big house, but I have a fancy group of friends and a big heart. I’m not beautiful or stylish, but people love me anyway. Even though I wear the same old clothes because I have sensory issues and it’s so hard to find something to wear that won’t make me cry because it feels uncomfortable. I am who I am and my quirkiness makes me special. I am loved and I know it.

thankful for the little things

It’s the little things. I cherish them. I am so grateful for them. They bring me true joy in my heart because God has opened up my eyes to the beauty and love around me. He has shown me my value. I work with all my heart for Him. He keeps me focused with little things, but I have to be looking for them or I’ll be distracted and miss them. Don’t miss your little things.

Check out these other great posts about thankfulness from some of my blogging friends. They may change your perspective and heart.


Ever Change Productions: Be Thankful and Change the World


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Real Food Meatballs

Real Food Meatballs

Making kid food from real food ingredients gives them the most health and nutrition possible. I’ve been working on a new menu for the kids this fall, and these meatballs are a new item we are going to put on it. We made a tester version of them and the kids LOVED them! If you want to see how to simplify menu planning, click here

homemade meatballs

Kids love foods they can hold like meatballs. 

Meatballs are similar to meatloaf, but i made these in small balls for less hassle and waste. These meatballs are two per serving for a 3-4 year old. They are easy to divide, easy to serve seconds and all the kids gobbled them up. 

delicious homemade meatball

I love feeding my kids foods I know are nutritious AND well liked.

Click here to see our new empanada recipe and watch the blog for our new hot pocket recipe coming soon. All of these items have been well loved here at Little Sprouts. I have included the recipe for a single batch of meatballs AND the recipe for a quadruple batch so you can make a huge batch and put a bunch in the freezer for the next time like I do. If you are going to make a mess and cook, you might as well really get something done. 

making quick oats for meatballshomemade meatballs kids will lovemaking homemade meatballs for kids, ground pork, ground beef, onions, garlic, tomato sauce, bread crumbs, oatmeal, eggs, herbsrolling out homemade meatballsHomemade meatballs bakingmeatballs, homemade, real food, whole food, healthy

If you want to read more about how to get picky kids to eat healthy foods, click here.

Don’t forget to pin this for later! Real Food Meatballs

Real Food Meatballs
Kid Friendly meatballs (tiny meatloaves) made with real food ingredients.
Write a review
  1. 1 lb meat
  2. ½ chopped onion
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1 clove garlic
  5. ¼ c. bread crumbs
  6. ½ c. quick oats (or make your own from old fashioned)
  7. ¼ c. grated cheese
  8. ½ c. tomato sauce
  9. 1 tsp. thyme
  10. 1 tsp. parsley
  11. ½ tsp. salt
  12. ¼ tsp. pepper
  13. Ketchup for the top
  1. Preheat oven to 425
  2. Grind up oats in your food processor to make quick oats
  3. Dump oats in a bowl
  4. Make bread crumbs in your food processor
  5. Dump crumbs in the bowl
  6. Chop up onion and garlic in your food processor
  7. Dump into bowl with oats and crumbs
  8. Add egg, cheese, tomato sauce, herbs and salt and pepper
  9. Mix well
  10. Add meat and mix lightly until just mixed
  11. Scoop balls in small muffin scoop and roll lightly to shape
  12. Bake 10-12 minutes
  13. Makes 20 balls or 10 servings (for preschool agers)
Little Sprouts Learning
Real Food Meatballs x 4
Multi batch of kid friendly meatballs made from real food.
Write a review
  1. 4 lb ground meat
  2. 2 chopped onion
  3. 4 eggs
  4. 4 cloves garlic
  5. 1 c. bread crumbs
  6. 2 c. quick oats (or make your own from old fashioned)
  7. 1 c. grated cheese
  8. 2 c. tomato sauce
  9. 4 tsp. thyme
  10. 4 tsp. parsley
  11. 2 tsp. salt
  12. 1 tsp. pepper
  13. Ketchup to top
  1. Preheat oven to 425
  2. Grind up oats in your food processor to make quick oats
  3. Dump oats in a bowl
  4. Make bread crumbs in your food processor
  5. Dump crumbs in the bowl
  6. Chop up onion and garlic in your food processor
  7. Dump into bowl with oats and crumbs
  8. Add egg, cheese, tomato sauce, herbs and salt and pepper
  9. Mix well
  10. Add meat and mix lightly until just mixed
  11. Scoop balls in small muffin scoop and roll lightly to shape
  12. Bake 10-12 minutes
  13. Makes 80 balls or 10 servings (for preschool agers)
Little Sprouts Learning

Real Food Mac and Cheese

Real Food Mac and Cheese

I have searched and searched for a great mac and cheese recipe for years. Usually, I don’t like homemade mac and cheese because it is kind of pasty and not as creamy as I like. I don’t want to serve my kids (or myself) processed cheese food, I want to serve them real food ingredients. Every recipe I saw for using real cheeses called for you to make a roux with flour and butter, and then add liquid and make a sauce and melt the cheese into it. I just never liked it.

real food mac and cheese

A few weeks ago I decided to try one more time to make up something on my own. So I cooked some elbow noodles and got busy creating a sauce. I took some milk and heated it in a pan. I added a half a packet of cream cheese and a half a cup of sour cream and whisked it into the milk. Then I added shredded cheeses and seasonings. It turned out amazing. I super loved it! I used a mixture of the cheeses I had to work with including cheddar and mozzarella and a little bit of Parmesan. It was the best macaroni and cheese I’ve ever had and there are no chemicals involved. It was a win win.

Here’s my recipe for Homemade Mac and Cheese, I hope you love it too!

making homemade macaroni and cheese without velveetareal mozzarella cheese in mac and cheese homemadeHomemade cheese sauce with real cheese for mac and cheesehomemade mac and cheese 

Real Food Mac and Cheese
Creamy, delicious mac and cheese with no chemicals.
Write a review
  1. 1 pound of elbow macaroni
  2. 4 oz. cream cheese
  3. ½ cup sour cream
  4. 1 ½ cups milk
  5. 3 T. butter
  6. 3 cups shredded cheese, 2 cups mozzarella, 1 cup cheddar
  7. ¾ tsp salt
  8. Grated Parmesan to taste
  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions and drain. I like my pasta al dente.
  2. Pour milk into large saucepan and heat.
  3. When milk is starting to get warm, add butter, sour cream and cream cheese.
  4. Cook and stir on medium heat until incorporated.
  5. Add shredded cheese and cook stirring constantly.
  6. Add salt and pasta and stir to coat.
Little Sprouts Learning
Click here to check out more top kid’s meals that aren’t junk. 

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How to Save Time and Money Making Slow Cooker Meals


Using the slow cooker can save you time and money. Having dinner ready when you get home from work is awesome. Not having to stand over a skillet or pan is a great time saver. When dinner is already ready, there is much less temptation to eat unhealthy fast food and blow your family’s budget.

Using your slow cooker to cook for your daycare kids is a great way to save time. It’s great to throw all the ingredients in the crock pot in the morning or the night before and not have to worry about it while you’re playing with the kids.

The benefits are just as great for a family. When I worked a job outside the home, I loved coming home and the smell of a yummy dinner hitting me in the face when I walked in the door. I felt so great having planned ahead so I didn’t have to try to come up with an idea when I was dog tired after work.

I also love having a slow cooker meal going for dinner for my family that I don’t have to take time away from my kids to tend. The slow cooker is the greatest thing ever. I love it as a time saver. Some slow cookers even having timers on them so they turn on at a later time or turn off when the cooking time is done.

Here are some of my stand by slow cooker meals.

Taco Soup

Taco soup is one of my kid’s and my family’s all-time favorites. When our grown daughter comes home, she often asks for this meal if I ask her what she’s hungry for. Click here to see how I make it.

Pulled Pork

Pork roast is one of my favorite meals. I love to put the roast with some salt and pepper into the slow cooker and cooking it all day. Then it just shreds with a fork. It’s so delicious and you can do a million different things with it. One thing I love to do is add some homemade bbq rub and some tomato sauce, and make bbq sandwiches. Click here to see the recipe for that.

pulled bbq pork

Another great pork roast idea is to leave it with just salt and pepper and you can shred it up for tacos, (my favorite), use it as plain pork sandwiches, or you can use it in casseroles, stir fry, or any other dish you’d like. Pork roast is amazing slow cooked. It’s inexpensive as well, so it won’t cost a fortune to have a ton of meat.


Beef roast is really versatile in the slow cooker as well. I like to sear the roast on all sides at a high heat and then dump it in the slow cooker with some carrots, potatoes, and onions. Cook on high all day until it shreds with a fork. You can make bbq beef sandwiches, beef sandwiches, eat it sliced with the veggie on the side, or use it in dishes as well.


I love slow cooker beans. I don’t really care for ham and beans; my family likes our beans cooked with a packet of taco mix. Click here to see how I make my homemade packets. I soak the beans in water of 8-24 hours. Drain and rinse them. Then add water to cover again and the packet of taco mix. Cook on high around 8 hours and they are so yummy. I like to serve them on tortilla chips and top with cheese or with a side of corn bread. Delicious.

Whole Chicken

Another great time/money saver is to toss a whole chicken with some herbs and cut up onions into the slow cooker and cook it on high until the meat falls off the bone. It’s similar to rotisserie chicken. You can even use the same spices. I use salt, pepper, and some thyme for my flavorings and some onions and garlic. You can serve the meat cut up into pieces or shred it and use it in a ton of different ways. Quesadillas, tacos, casserole, stir fry, sandwiches plain, chicken salad sandwiches, top a lettuce salad with it, top a baked potato.

All of these meats can be used in hundreds of recipes and one roast or whole chicken can make multiple meals. It’s a great time saver, saves you money because the meat cuts are inexpensive AND it cuts down on the heat in your kitchen. Using the slow cooker is great for the environment too because it uses much less energy than your stove or oven. It’s a win- win.

Here are a ton of other great slow cooker recipes that use real, healthy foods from some of my blogging friends. I’m hungry from all this healthy, tasty crock pot talk!

Click on the titles to go to the recipe.

Crock Pot French Dip Sandwiches

Crock Pot Sloppy Joe’s

Overnight Apple Oatmeal

Slow Cooker Chickpeas with Spinach

Crock Pot Pork Ramen

Crock Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup

Crock Pot Chicken Carrot & Chickpea Tagine

Slow Cooker Pork Chili Verde

Slow Cooker French Onion Soup

Slow Cooked Sirloin Tips with Mushrooms

Slow Cooker Caveman Chili

Slow Cooker Tangy Pineapple Shredded Beef 

Slow Cooker Mediterranean Eggplant

Crockpot Mexican Chili

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How to Stock your Dress up Center for Less


Kids LOVE playing dress up and it’s great for boosting their creativity. Is there anything better than pretending to be a princess, a super hero, or an animal? I love supplying my kids with a ton of creative supplies to enjoy dramatic play.

Kids learn so much through dramatic play. It helps them express their feelings, try different roles and see what it’s like to be someone else, and work through their problems in a safe way. There is so much more going on during dramatic play than meets the eye. They need pretend play for growth and development.

Small receiving blankets and bandanas are a great resource that doesn’t cost a fortune. They can be used to wrap babies, as blankets for playing house, tied up as a pouch to carry things in, You can make them into a picnic blanket or table cloth. Kids can tie them around their heads, wrists, or waist as super hero or rock star gear. The uses are limitless. I always have several available.

Some items from around the house.

Bags of all kinds can be used as diaper bags, purses, totes or any number of other things when kids are playing pretend. Plastic or real keys on rings are a big favorite for kids to pretend they get to drive a car. Kids also love wallets to put their stuff in. They can be old wallets you are done using or plastic toy ones, the kids don’t care.

Another great item for dramatic play is big button up shirts. Kids can pretend they are using them to dress up as doctors, veterinarians or pretend they are suits to be a business person or preacher or whatever they wish. These are always a big hit at Little Sprouts.

Dress up center.

Dress up clothes can be super expensive in the daycare/teacher supply stores. Another great way to get dress up clothes that won’t break the bank is by getting Halloween costumes. Many times I have had daycare parents give me old costumes their kids grew out of. My mother in law used to work at Wal-Mart and she would buy me costumes on clearance after Halloween for my dress up center. There’s nothing like blessings from other people.

Oriental Trading Company offered me some costumes in exchange for my honest opinion about them on the blog. All opinions on the costumes are completely my own. I jumped on the chance to see if their costumes were quality and would last in the dress up center. I chose Captain America, Elsa, and a Ninja Turtle. We have been playing with them like crazy and they are super durable.


The costumes are not very expensive, click here to see their selection. They are inexpensive enough to use for Halloween or a great price for filling your dramatic play area as well. I prefer to choose costumes that don’t have pants because those are hard for my young children to get off and on by themselves.


Captain America costume.

The Captain America is super cute, equipped with big muscles and everything. Sometimes the kids put it on backwards and have super pumped backs. I think that’s so cute. It came with a mask that looks awesome. The kids all love to be a super hero. Who doesn’t. They have put this costume on and off 100 times and it is still holding up like new. It’s definitely worth the price and a great addition to my dress up center.


Elsa Costume.

The Elsa dress is a dream come true for my little girls. Several of my girls have had them at home and loved bringing them over, so I knew the kids would love to have one here. It’s super cute with great features that remind them of the movie. Everyone loves being a princess.


Ninja Turtle Costume.

The Ninja Turtle costume is by far my favorite. It has a chest plate and a turtle shell for their back. The costume is super cool looking. It also comes with not just one face mask, but all 4, so the kids can choose which turtle they want to be any time. It’s fun to be able to change your mind. Even better is that 4 kids can be superheroes or Ninja Turtles, so that’s even more bang for your buck.


All of the Oriental Trading costumes are holding up well. I was surprised by the quality for the price they are listed. I would totally recommend you ordering from Oriental for your Halloween needs, and of course, you can do like I did and use them in your dress up center. They are a great way to get costumes your kids will love without having to spend a ton of money. They have a huge variety of costumes to choose from in so many sizes, even for adults.

How do you stock your dramatic play area?

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Safe Sleep for Infants, Reducing Risk Factors


Everyone wants to keep their babies safe. It’s hard to know the best practices for safe sleep for infants. There are some things we can do that can help cut down on accidental and unexplained infant deaths. SIDS is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and is when a baby dies with no explanation at all. Many infants die from SIDS, it’s much more common than you think. It’s not detectable or preventable, but there are risk factors that can be removed to keep babies safe. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends best safe sleep practices. 

SIDS can occur in children from birth to as old as 12 months. Suffocation and asphyxiation deaths occur at a high rate at that age span as well. Children under one year of age have no reflexes indicating to them they are in danger of suffocation, so they don’t yet know to fight to help themselves. It’s up to adults to protect them from it. Remember, SIDS is not preventable or detectable. 

SIDS rates have been reduced drastically over the past 20 years by practicing safe sleep practices at home, in child care centers and homes, and with other caregivers. Parents AND providers must work together to ensure safety for all infants.

SIDS is a tragedy that is very very close to my heart. My life has been affected by it deeply more than once. I wish there was a way to prevent SIDS but we can cut down on risk factors. We will discuss best practices to cut down on risk for SIDS and other infant deaths all together.  


The number one way to cut down on infant deaths is by not allowing smoking anywhere near your baby ever. Smoke is full of so many different chemicals and some of those chemicals alter a baby’s brain function in a way that prevents them from being able to arouse from sleep. The effect is even higher on Native American babies and even higher yet for African American babies. All babies deserve healthy air and a smoke free environment.


Placing babies on their back to sleep helps make sure the airway stays the most open during sleep. This helps for adequate oxygen to move through the baby’s airway and into the blood stream through the lungs. Babies should not be allowed to sleep on their tummy or side where they can easily roll on their tummy.

Why does sleeping on their tummy pose risks? When baby’s face is close to the mattress, carbon dioxide, which is exhaled as baby breaths, can pool around their face. The baby then breaths in less and less oxygen as the sleep time continues and over time, may become depleted of adequate oxygen causing it to be difficult for baby to wake up.



Infants should not be allowed to sleep in car seats, bouncy seats, swings or other baby furniture that is not made for sleeping. These products do not allow for baby to sleep flat on their back which is the best way for them to get enough oxygen while sleeping.

Car seat sleeping deaths are the highest cause of suffocation or asphyxiation deaths in infants. When a baby is properly seated in a car seat which is properly installed in a car, they are in an upright position with the harness properly positioned across their nipples. This is safe for sleeping. When the car seat is taken from the car, the seat drops back further and changes the position of the airway of the child. The seat is not flat, it’s rounded, so this causes the throat to be in an unsafe position for maximum airflow.

Another problem with car seats is people usually loosen the straps when they take them out of the car. This is the biggest risk factor because many times children suffocate when they slide down into the seat. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t let your babies sleep in the car seat when it’s not properly installed in the car. Please don’t.


Infants should never be put to sleep with stuffed animals, pacifiers with straps or toys attached, fluffy bumper pads, or even blankets. Yes, blankets can contribute to infant deaths. Children should never use a blanket or a pillow in bed until after age one. The reasons are the same, they can cause exhaled carbon monoxide to pool around babies face and reduce oxygen intake. Cribs should be clean and clear with nothing but a firm mattress and a tight fitting sheet. Pacifiers are fine as long as they don’t have anything attached to them.


Infants should be dressed in the same type of clothing that would be comfortable for adults for the weather conditions. If you are comfortable in shorts and a tank top, don’t have baby bundled up in footed pajamas. If you’re hot, they’re hot. Your house should be kept at a comfortable temperature for an adult in light clothing. Keeping baby too warm causes them to sleep too deeply which is a big contributing factor for SIDS and other incidences.

Remember to use your common sense when choosing the best sleeping place for your child. Co-sleeping or letting babies in bed with adults or other children is not safe for infants under 1 year of age. Adult beds are not made for infants. Do not sleep babies on couches, floors, tables or other surfaces not designed for infant sleep.

For more information on safe sleep, click here

Talk to your childcare provider, family and friends about infant death and ways to cut down on risk factors for your baby. Everyone should know. Share this post with everyone you can think of who has an infant so more people can be aware. Remember, SIDS is not detectable or preventable, but we can use what the AAP recommends as best practices. 

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Cheap Fall Activities for Kids


Many times of the year can stump you for ideas of things to keep your kids busy learning and having fun. Don’t forget all the cool and awesome fall stuff there is to do with kids.

Here are a few that I have done or am planning to do with my kids this fall:

Collecting leaves (you can iron them between waxed paper and it will coat them with enough wax so they won’t get brittle and make art with them such as leaf garland).

Make fall suncatchers with this retro craft

Make leaf collages or leaf glitter.

Make a leaf tree

Learn about composting.

Make stamps from pumpkins and stamp paint.

pumpkin stamping

Visit to a fire station or have a fire truck come to your daycare.


Visit to a police station or have a police car brought to your daycare.

Visit the park.

Sing some fall leaf songs.

Paint pumpkins or carve them.

pumpkin seeds

Call the health department and ask if they have someone that can come and talk to the kids. In my town, they will send a dental hygienist to teach the kids about brushing their teeth!

Rake a pile of leaves and jump in it!

Visit an ambulance station or have an ambulance brought to your daycare.

Make leaf rubbings with paper over a leaf and then draw with a crayon.

Have an art party.

Have a teddy bear picnic?

Make caramel apples.

Have a sports day and learn a sport or celebrate one the kids like.

See if the library has a story time person that comes out, ours does!

Make the kids a fall ice tower and let them excavate it. So many science lessons in this. 

Have a color day every day of the week. Everyone can wear that color and you can do an art project using it too.

Bob for apples.

Save up your empty boxes, paper towel tubes, and empty cans and bottles that are washed out and let kids create instruments, castles, houses, buildings, roads for cars, tunnels for cars, tall stacks, or whatever their minds can create to make with them.

Churn homemade butter from cream.

Puzzles, even homemade. Let them draw a picture and then cut it into puzzle shapes so they can put it back together.

Make homemade mini books.

Make a seed collage with dried corn seeds that you take off the cob or other seeds you have saved.

Have a tea party.

Play Hide and Seek, Ring Around the Rosie, Duck, Duck, Goose, or Simon says.

Visit a pet store.

Make applesauce or apple cider.

kids cutting apples for applesauce

Play house.

Play school.

Decorate the front door.

Rent a movie or books from the library or attend their story hour program.

Make up a play.

Put on a puppet show.

Make a scavenger hunt for them to hunt outside (for very little kids, you can make the list of what to find from pictures so they can match a rock to a picture of a rock, etc.) Here’s a fun one! 

Build a fort.

Do some upcycling projects. 

Have a picnic inside.

Dress up.

Make slime or playdough in fall colors. Here’s even a recipe for one and a scavenger hunt for it. I spy playdough style. 

Here is another playdough that is cinnamon scented! Fun sensory experience.

Thumb wrestle.

Make up jokes.

Play restaurant or store.

Make bird feeders.

Play with balloons.

Make stick horses and ride them. You could even put on a rodeo.

Play I Spy.

Read a story and act it out.

Read a story and do an activity inspired by it like “Give a Mouse a Cookie” and then make cookies.

Bird watch.

Watch bugs under a magnifying glass, (study entomology)

Play tic tac toe.

Let the kids cook lunch or snack. Check out the blog for tons of kid friendly recipes we have cooked.

Get the kids in the kitchen for sensory experiences. 

Take a nature walk.

Make discovery bottles with fall items.

Make a collage with nature items you find.

Learn tree identification.

Make paper airplanes from your scrap paper.

Play Twister.

Rent a movie and have popcorn.

Have a pillow fight.

Write letters to grandparents.

Play card games or dominoes.

Play board games.

Build with blocks.

Play at the mall.

Play hide and seek.


“Camp” in the back yard.

Go bowling.

Make up an obstacle course.

Make up songs.

Have a dance party.

If you use your imagination, there is no limit to what you can come up with that your kids will think is tons of fun. Think about the fall season and what is available for less at that time. Halloween stuff can be bought and used after Halloween is over. It’s a great time to get cheap dress up clothes! Apples and pumpkins are much less expensive when they are in season in the fall. Think about how to get free and inexpensive materials. You can do a lot with a little when you use your imagination!

Check out these other great FALL ideas from some other bloggers:

7 Ways to Repurpose Leaves

DIY Vintage Fall Decorations

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Homemade Ham and Cheese Hot Pockets

Homemade Ham and Cheese Hot Pockets

ham and cheese hot pocket production

Hot pockets are convenient and can be delicious, especially if you make them yourself. Using pizza crust to make them is tender and flavorful. I use the pioneer woman’s pizza crust recipe because it’s perfect every time. She’s knows what’s up! Click here for the dough recipe. 

Conventional hot pockets that are available from the store are loaded with chemicals and additives that are not good for you or your kids.

I love knowing what I feed my kids is made from real food that is healthy and whole. These hot pockets are not only made with real food, they are also less expensive than these store bought ones. And the flavor, MAN, it’s great!

I paid $36 for enough ham and cheese to make 72 hot pockets.

With all ingredients tallied, my hot pockets costed $0.66 each to make. The store bought ones are $2.89 for two, so one hot pocket is $1.44, for a savings of $0.78 per pocket. You could use a less expensive meat like ground beef or sausage or something and make them even cheaper. I needed a ham menu item for my new menu, so i’m sticking with ham. The ham was real ham i had sliced in the deli and the cheese was cheddar.

We are not allowed to serve lunch meat on the food program. The ham and the cheese were on sale though (of course, or i wouldn’t have purchased them) 

store bought hot pockets full of chemicals

Click here to check out what’s actually IN store bought hot pockets. It might make you change your mind about eating them. This picture below is from the article. Yuck! Even if you don’t have food allergies like me, it’s gross. Do you even know what this stuff is or what it does to your body? (Poster designed by Justin Pericone, click here for more info)


I like to make everything in bulk and freeze it.

To do that, I made 4 batches of hot pockets and froze them in batches of 10 servings. I added enough ham and cheese to each hot pocket to make it a perfect serving for a 3-4 year old. Each child needs 1 1/2 ounces of protein. I put an ounce of ham and a half ounce of cheese on each pocket. 

Instead of using lunch meat, I bought a ham and had it sliced at the deli into slices, so my kids would be eating real meat and cheese. These turned out so much better than I expected and every kid loved them so they are a shoe in for my new menu this year. 

Click here to see how to plan a menu and here to see the top 10 healthy meals kids love.

First, you make up the dough and divide it into serving sizes. I used my kitchen aid mixer to whip mine up. 

Hot pocket doughrolling out homemade hot pocket dough

Next, roll each piece out and top it with the filling. You could make pizza flavored, taco flavored, use sausage, or whatever you think sounds good. I wanted ham and cheese for a different protein for my menu.


homemade hot pockets, ham and cheese

Once the pocket is filled, fold the other half of the dough over the top, and seal the edges. These pockets would look prettier with egg wash but I am dealing with an egg allergy, so i left it off. The taste and texture of this dough was outstanding on these pockets.

hot pocket, homemade

homemade ham and cheese hot pockets, ready to go in the oven.

Once you have them all rolled and filled and sealed, then you just have to bake them. I baked them all before I froze them and I served a taste tester batch that won all thumbs up. 

homemade ham and cheese hot pockets fresh from the oven

Homemade Ham and Cheese Hot Pockets
Tasty homemade hot pocket ready to eat or freeze with no added chemicals.
Write a review
  1. 1 1/2 c. warm water
  2. 1 tsp. dry yeast
  3. 4 cups flour
  4. 1 tsp sea salt
  5. 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  6. 1 pound of good ham, sliced thinly
  7. 1/2 pound of good cheddar cheese, sliced thinly
  1. Combine warm water and yeast.
  2. Stir and set aside
  3. Combine flour and salt in stand mixer bowl
  4. Turn on mixer and drizzle in olive oil
  5. Slowly add the yeast mixture and mix on low until dough forms a ball
  6. Cut dough into 16 pieces
  7. Roll out each piece of dough and top one side with 1.5 ounces of ham and cheese.
  8. Fold dough over and seal edges
  9. Egg wash if desired
  10. Bake at 500 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until dough is golden brown
  11. Serve warm or cool completely and freeze.
  12. To reheat, just microwave for 30 seconds or reheat in oven
Adapted from Crust from Pioneer Woman
Adapted from Crust from Pioneer Woman
Little Sprouts Learning
Homemade Ham and Cheese Hot Pockets-4 batches
Bulk quadruple batch of tasty homemade hot pocket ready to eat or freeze with no added chemicals.
Write a review
  1. Double batch of dough, do this twice
  2. 3 c. warm water
  3. 2 tsp. dry yeast
  4. 8 cups flour
  5. 2 tsp sea salt
  6. 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  7. Repeat dough again
  8. 4 pounds of good ham, sliced thinly
  9. 2 pounds of good cheddar cheese, sliced thinly
  1. Combine warm water and yeast.
  2. Stir and set aside
  3. Combine flour and salt in stand mixer bowl
  4. Turn on mixer and drizzle in olive oil
  5. Slowly add the yeast mixture and mix on low until dough forms a ball
  6. Cut dough into 32 pieces
  7. Make second double batch of dough
  8. Roll out each piece of dough and top one side with 1.5 ounces of ham and cheese.
  9. Fold dough over and seal edges
  10. Egg wash if desired
  11. Bake at 500 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until dough is golden brown
  12. Serve warm or cool completely and freeze.
  13. To reheat, just microwave for 30 seconds or reheat in oven
Adapted from Crust from Pioneer Woman
Adapted from Crust from Pioneer Woman
Little Sprouts Learning

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Homemade Ham and Cheese Hot Pockets

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