Tag Archive for kids

Cheap Summer Activities for Kids

There are so many things kids can do that don’t cost a ton of money. I’m super cheap so i love a good idea that doesn’t cost a ton of cash. Childcare is not a lucrative business. A lot of them are even free, so why spend a ton on activities when you can make up your own stuff on the cheap and have just as much fun or more. I LOVE a good deal and saving money! I also LOVE a bunch of happy, engaged children. Here are  a few things you can do to fill your summer time with your daycare kids, kids of your own, or whoever might be needing entertaining. 

Click here to see the benefits of getting the kids outside to play and click here to see why I think it’s so important to plan ahead for school’s out days! 

      • Click here to see some super cool upcycling ideas to keep your kids busy this summer for not a lot of green! upcycling crafts
      • Visit to a fire station or have a fire truck come to your daycare.
      • Read. We do a summer reading program at my house every summer. The kids LOVE reading!mia reading ramona forever by Beverly Cleary
      • Visit to a police station or have a police car brought to your daycare.
      • Visit the park.
      • What do your daycare parents do for a living? Is there something they could bring to teach the kids?
      • 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!
      • Call an animal rescue operation and ask them to bring animals to your home and teach the kids about them.
      • Have a sprinkler party. Click here to see how to throw an awesome water party. 

    • Visit an ambulance station or have an ambulance brought to your daycare.
    • Have an art party. Click here to see one.
    • Have a teddy bear picnic. Click here to see ours.teddy bear picnic plates
    • 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!
    • Have a color day every day of the week. Everyone can wear that color and you can do an art project using it too.
    • Use recycled squirt bottles to spray water for wet fun.
    • Exercise. Use a video like Elmocise or make up your own workout to lead the kids. My awesome husband is a personal trainer and he does a P.E. class with the kids every Monday morning before he goes to work.

    • 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.
    • Make kites out of brown paper bags from the store. 
    • Finger crochet from thrift store yarn.
    • Make homemade playdough and let them play with it for hours. 
    • Puzzles, even homemade. Let them draw a picture and then cut it into puzzle shapes so they can put it back together.
    • Make homemade books
    • Paint a rock or make pet rocks
    • Play in the rain.
    • Have a tea party.
    • Visit the nature center, they are usually free.
    • Play hide and seek, ring around the rosie, duck, duck, goose, or simon says.
    • Visit a pet store.
    • Play house.
    • Play school.
    • 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.) 
    • Build a fort.
    • Have a picnic outside or inside.cheap ideas for summer activities for kids
    • Dress up.
    • Thumb wrestle.
    • Make up jokes.
    • Play restaurant or store.
    • Walk barefoot in the grass.
    • Make bird feeders. 
    • Play with bubbles. 

    • Play with balloons.
    • Do sidewalk chalk.

    • Make stick horses and ride them. You could even put on a rodeo.
    • Skip rocks.
    • Have a bike parade.
    • Play I Spy.
    • Play Frisbee.
    • Read a story and act it out.
    • Make sensory bottles.  
    • Read a story and do an activity inspired by it like “Give a Mouse a Cookie” and then make cookies.
    • Vacation Bible School.
    • Library story hour.
    • Splash pad water play at the park.
    • Plant seeds in a garden or in cups.Cheap Summer Ideas
    • Bird watch.
    • Watch bugs under a magnifying glass, (study entomology)
    • Play tic tac toe.
    • Play outside.
    • Collect rocks.
    • Climb a tree.
    • Have a mini Olympics at home. Make up events, score charts and prizes like medals.
    • Make waterslide with your hose and slide.
    • Let the kids cook lunch or snack. Check out the blog for tons of kid friendly recipes we have cooked.
    • Take a nature walk.cheap kids activities
    • Make a collage with nature items you find.activities, cheap
    • 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.
    • Make ice cream.
    • Make popsicles.
    • Go swimming at the local pool
    • Visit a farm or have animals brought from a farm.
    • Play card games or dominoes.
    • Play board games.
    • Build with blocks.

  • Play at the mall.
  • Go on a hike.
  • Play kickball.
  • Play hide and seek.
  • Ride bikes.
  • Color.
  • “Camp” in the back yard.
  • Go bowling.
  • Play with water balloons.
  • Fill buckets of water and throw wet sponges.
  • Play soccer.
  • Put on a sports camp.
  • Play football.
  • Play baseball.
  • Make up an obstacle course.
  • Make up songs.
  • Lay on a blanket and watch the clouds.
  • Have a dance party.
  • Try nature weaving

There are a million different things you can do for free or cheap that will keep your kids healthy, happy, and content throughout the summer months. Add your ideas to share with all of us.

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cheap summer activities for kids

7 Steps to Rest-How to Get Kids to Sleep

Raise your hand if you could use a good night’s sleep? Who out there wants naptime at daycare to be more successful? Who wouldn’t want those things? Sleep can be elusive for children just like it can be for adults. Here are a few simple suggestions to help make sleep come easier for your kids. And they won’t hurt for adults either! Lack of sleep is detrimental to children not only for the tantrums and melt downs it causes, but it’s also important for physical growth and developmental growth. Click here to see the importance of sleep for kids.

Did anyone ever notice kids act better for everyone other than their own parents. Kids know their parents love them no matter what and that will never change, so they tend to show their real selves to their parents more than any other people. You know the old, you hurt the ones you love the most saying, it’s true. Many time parents or grandparents share with me their disbelief about how I can get 7 kids to lay on mats in my playroom a mere few inches apart and they all go to sleep. HOW DO YOU DO THAT? It is THE most common question I am asked by my parents.

getting kids to go to sleep

kids sleeping, how to get them to go to sleep

Obviously, it will go more smoothly for me simply because I am NOT their parent. But these tips worked with my own daughter too. After 22 years of putting kids down for naps, I know how to find success. Check out my tips on how to do it. ROUTINES, ROUTINES, ROUTINES! This is the number one tip for making any part of your day successful. Children NEED to know what’s coming next. If your child is always in a different place doing something different and they never know what to expect, settling down is harder for them.

Have a set routine for bed time every single night! A simple routine could be:  Bath, PJ’s, Teeth Brushing, Read a Story, Go to Sleep It doesn’t matter as much what the routine is as that you have one. At daycare, our routine is: Potty, Wash Hands, Story, Songs, Huggies, Get in bed, Choose a stuffed animal, Get covered up in your blankie, Be still and let your friends sleep. Most days they are all out within 5 minutes. I have one who fights sleep sometimes and it takes them up to 30 minutes to fall asleep some days, but mostly they are out in 5 as well. Here are my ten best tips to getting your kids to rest well.

  1. GET THE KIDS TO BED ON TIME! If kids (and adults) get overly tired, they start to produce stress hormones called cortisol that prevent them from falling asleep and staying asleep. Make sure you have a set bed time or nap time and stick to it! The more tired a child becomes, the less they will sleep. You can’t get a child to sleep in in the morning by keeping them up later at night. It just does not work that way, the more sleep people get, the more easily they will be able to sleep. Overtired people do not sleep well.
  2. Make sleep a pleasant topic. Talk about how good it feels to be rested and how much you  like your rest at other times when it’s not time to head to bed. Show the kids that sleep is good for them.
  3. Create a comfortable, peaceful environment.
  4. Eliminate all distractions such as TV and video games in the room. Quiet down the house around the room. Make sure the child has blankets and a comfy pillow to snuggle up in. Tuck them into bed and make them feel safe and warm. Make sure there is not too much light in the room, although some children will feel more comforted with a night light.
  5. Give them time to wind down. About an hour before your bed time routine, start transitioning the activities to quieter things. Turn the TV down, turn a few of the lights off in the house, chose some quieter things for the kids to do. Let their minds and bodies start to relax (and yours too!)
  6. Let kids fall asleep on their own! I know its super fun and snuggly to rock children or lay down with them, but that’s not what’s best for them. Of course newborns need to be rocked at first, but if kids are never allowed to soothe themselves to sleep, when they wake up in the night, they won’t be able to put themselves back to sleep. Do you want to get up all hours of the night and comfort your child forever? They have the tools to soothe themselves, let them develop them. It doesn’t make your relationship less close or cause the children harm to settle themselves to sleep. Stick to your routine, give them what they need, tell them you’re leaving the room and they need to stay in bed, and then leave. No one should be laying down is a 4 year old or a 10 year old to help them fall asleep every night. Let them do it on their own and they will develop more confidence in themselves.
  7. Be in charge. Don’t let the kids run the show. It’s our job to set healthy boundaries and actually, limits make children feel safe. Knowing you are in charge is comforting to them, and don’t you know what’s good for them as the adult? Our job is to care for children’s needs. Do what you know is best, even when it’s not the favorite thing of the child.

language development for kids

Making bedtimes peaceful and successful takes time if they haven’t been in the past. Don’t give up! Stick to your guns and stick with your routines and you will be amazed how it improves every part of your life. Being well rested is the best gift you can give yourself, your family, and the world. It’s worth the effort, and you can do it!

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Garlic Parmesean Roasted Broccoli

The kids, my family, and I love broccoli any way you can cook it, but something about roasting vegetables makes them taste AMAZING. Roasted broccoli is delicious with just salt, pepper, and olive oil, and it also tastes great with a few simple additions. Here is our number one favorite way to eat it.

Before you roast the broccoli, cut it up into small bite size pieces.

Before you roast the broccoli, cut it up into small bite size pieces.


Place it all on a cookie sheet.  I usually don't fill my pan this full but in the summer, well...I need more food to feed these people, so this one is pretty packed.  It roasts faster if the pieces aren't touching like this.

Place it all on a cookie sheet. I usually don’t fill my pan this full but in the summer, well…I need more food to feed these people, so this one is pretty packed. It roasts faster if the pieces aren’t touching like this.


Sprinkle a few tablespoons of olive oil over the broccoli pieces and then sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.  Grate some parmesean  cheese over the top.  I use about 1/4 cup.  Then I use the same small grater to grate a clove of garlic over it as well.

Sprinkle a few tablespoons of olive oil over the broccoli pieces and then sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Grate some parmesean cheese over the top. I use about 1/4 cup. Then I use the same small grater to grate a clove of garlic over it as well.


Yum yum.

Yum yum.

Toss it by hand until it’s well combined. Put it in a 400 degree oven until it’s dark green and the edges have a tiny bit of brown on them. It’s easy to over cook broccoli so be careful to watch it. When it’s not crowded on the pan, it takes 15-20 minutes to roast, when it’s crowded up, it takes longer. Dump it in a serving dish (or like me a mixing bowl) and serve it up.

What’s your favorite way to eat broccoli?

How to Find Peace in the Garden

The kids come back tomorrow. I’ve been off work for a 17 day vacation, the longest I’ve ever been off in my life. Today is Memorial Day, so my mind is full of the chaos in my life right now and my great appreciation for those who gave their lives for my freedom.

I’ve been home from our trip for 5 days and I’ve gone out each morning to make some progress on the encroaching weeds that tried to take over while we were gone. But today is different. Today it’s not hot. Today I’m not rushed. Today I stop to discover the amazingness that is the garden and I remember why I love it here. I remember what I’m growing it for.

To check out an article about what research has discovered about the mental health benefits of gardening, click here.

peace in the garden

And I remember the joy I find here. I know there are a load of radishes that need to be picked, but I’m waiting for tomorrow so the kids can pick them. I know they’ll be so excited. I also notice several crowns of broccoli at the ready so I’m imagining broccoli and radishes as side dishes for lunch tomorrow. They will love that. It’s also cheese quesadilla day and my cheese quesadillas are world famous in the daycare set around here. So lunch is planned and everyone will love it. I miss my kids. I miss their smiles and their faces and their personalities. Caring for kids is what I was born for and it makes my soul complete.

As I’m making my way from weed to weed and thinking about the seed heads of grass that are hanging over my beds in the fence line, quickly drying out and getting ready to spill their pretty little seeds into my dirt so they can grow. It feels like they are trying to get me. But I stop thinking about the satisfaction their extinction would bring to me and instead look at the progress that my little garden has made even in these last 5 days.

I notice that squashes are flowering, tomato plants have baby fruits on them, and my flowers are starting to flower. I have missed the wonder of this when I could only see the big picture and all the work there was to be done. So I stop weeding and sit down.

My cat walks over and brushes against me with quiet tenderness. She calms me even more. I stop to listen to the soft breeze that is blowing through the leaves, and I hear the cooing of a dove in the trees across the way. And my soul starts to hear what the garden is saying. Listen it says, just listen. Within a minute or two I hear the voice of God whispering quietly in my soul. Tears come to my eyes. Questions I’ve been asking God are being answered. Peace washes over me. I am comforted.   I notice myself breathing deeper and more slowly. I notice my senses more as the worry that dulls them fades away. There are some HUGE changes going on in my life right now and frankly they are terrifying, but I know one thing is truer than true. God loves me and He has my back. He’s holding my hand. He’s walking with me. And He has a plan for something good for me.

He’s a good God and as I tell Him that in my heart, the blue heron that lives along the creek flies right over the top of my head about 10 feet above. It’s a wink from my Savior letting me know that He loves me. And that everything is going to be okay.