Inexpensive Snack Ideas For Kids

Inexpensive Snack Ideas For Kids

Keep your little ones engaged and happy with these inexpensive snack ideas for kids. These activities require measurement, fractions, and problem solving skills.  Kids of all ages enjoy cooking and snack-making. I always start by having everyone wash their hands with soap and tie back long hair. To add more skill practice, involve your children in making a grocery list of needed ingredients and estimate the cost of them. All of the following snacks should be made with the help of a parent.

Inexpensive Snack Ideas For Kids

  1. Ants on a Log: Wash a bunch of celery and cut each stalk into thirds. Fill each “log” with peanut butter or cream cheese. Then, add the “ants” by placing raisins on the filled log. If your children don’t like raisins, you could substitute mini chocolate chips.


  1. City S’Mores: This snack is a fun modification of the famous campfire snack. You will need graham crackers, a can of chocolate frosting, and marshmallow cream. Break each cracker into halves and set on a plate. Spread one half with chocolate frosting and the other with marshmallow cream. Press the halves together and repeat the process until you have made enough S’mores for your family.


  1. Banana Buttons: You will need 1-3 bananas, peanut butter or cream cheese, almonds or other nuts, raisins, coconut, chocolate chips, or other “toppers” of your choice. Slice each banana into “buttons” and spread some peanut butter or cream cheese on top of each. Then, decorate your buttons with toppers that they like.


  1. Cookie Cutter Sandwiches: This is a fun lunch for kids to make. You will need large cookie cutters in a variety of fun shapes, bread, lunch meat, cheese, and condiments of your choice. First, cut the bread into shapes using the cutters- remember to cut two of every shape! Then, spread the bread with mayo, Miracle Whip, mustard, etc and add the meats and cheese. You can top the cute sandwiches with a black olive or some other decoration using toothpicks.


  1. Kid Mix: Get out your measuring cups and spoons for this fun treat. You will need small ziplock bags, cereal, nuts, M&Ms, raisins or craisins, goldfish crackers, and any other “trail mix” ingredients you like. You will also need a large bowl and spoon for mixing. The children have a lot of fun measuring the right amount of each ingredients to create the perfect snack mix. Then, they fill the bags with snack mix for tonight’s family movie or just for snacking. It’s a good idea to mark each bag with the family member’s name, especially if you customize the mix for some.


  1. Cheesy Tortilla Roll-Ups: This is another fun lunch that kids can make. You will need flour tortillas, string cheese, and salsa if desired. Unwrap a string cheese and roll it up inside a tortilla. Place it on a microwave safe plate and heat it for about 30-45 seconds or until the cheese melts. It’s a simple and nutritious lunch. You could make some guacamole to make it even more delicious. Peel 1-3 avocados and smash with a fork in a medium sized bowl. Add about a tablespoon of sour cream or mayo, a dash of garlic salt, a tablespoon of salsa, and salt and pepper to taste.


  1. Homemade Popsicles: If you have popsicle forms and sticks that great. If not, use ice trays or small bathroom paper cups and popsicle sticks. If you don’t have popsicle sticks, use round toothpicks. Fill the forms, cups, or ice trays with juice or Kool-Aid, place the stick or toothpick and set them in the freezer while you swim or play for a few hours. Then enjoy a cool summer treat that you made!


  1. Build Your Own Sundae: You will need vanilla ice cream, sprinkles, chocolate, caramel, and or strawberry syrup, crushed nuts, cherries, and whipped cream. Of course, you can also use fresh strawberries, gummy bears, and any other sundae ingredients you like. Each person begins by scooping vanilla ice cream into their bowl. Then they build their own sundae with all the toppings they like. A great follow-up activity is to write a “how to” essay on creating the perfect ice cream sundae.


  1. Smoothies: You will need a blender, milk, almond milk, or yogurt, and fresh or frozen fruit and/or veggies. A basic recipe calls for 1 cup milk (or yogurt of almond milk), ½ tsp. vanilla, 1 cup crushed ice, and 1 cup fruit or veggies. You can play with these ingredients to match your tastes. You can also add protein powder if you like. Start by adding the milk and vanilla to the blender. Then add bananas, pineapple, mango, strawberries, peaches, spinach, carrots, or any fruits and vegetables you like. Add the crushed ice at the end. Then, add more milk if it’s too thick and ice or fruit if it’s too thin. You could vary the recipe by adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream.


  1. Fruit Pizza: This is an amazing dessert to make for the whole family. You will need a roll of refrigerated sugar cookie dough, cream cheese, confectioner sugar, vanilla, and fruit slices such as strawberries, kiwi, blueberries, mango, and peaches. For the 4th of July just use strawberries and blueberries for an All-American treat. Begin by lightly greasing a round pizza pan. Then, divide the cookie dough into small chunks and place all around the pan. Everyone helps spread the dough on the pan. Bake the “pizza” for about 16-20 minutes or until golden brown. Set out to cool while you slice the fruit and mix the icing. Next, mix 8 ounces of cream cheese with a cup of powdered sugar and a tsp of vanilla. Spread on top of the cooled pizza and arrange thinly sliced fruit on top of the icing. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


These Inexpensive Snack Ideas For Kids should be a big hit!  I have always included my children and grandchildren in cooking. It involves so many real-life math and problem solving skills and it’s a wonderful way to spend some quality time together. Always remember to include the kids in the clean up as well. Learn how to save money and retire early and spend more time with your family.

10 Ways to Save on the Holidays

10 Ways to Save on the Holidays
Here’s 10 Ways to Save on the Holidays.

I think we all can agree that the holidays in 2020 will be a little different from previous years. The focus in almost every household is on staying safe and healthy; physically, mentally, spiritually, and financially. This holiday season should be one of caring, sharing, and remembering our priorities. On that note, here are ten ways to lessen your stress and financial worries and still be able to provide gifts for loved ones.

#1 Plan Ahead – Start your gift shopping as early as July. Look for bargains, discounts, and sales on items you know will make great gifts. If you make your gifts, begin in the summer so you’re not rushing to knit a sweater or build a cabinet in mid December! Buying gifts and materials early helps lessen the stress on your mentality and your bank account. A good idea is to buy wrapping paper, bags, bows, etc. right after Christmas when their prices are drastically reduced in stores.

#2 Set a Budget -Yes, I used that dreaded word, but it’s important to decide how much you can comfortably spend on gifts, and work toward your goal of meeting that amount. A fun idea is to label an envelope with each gift recipient’s name, starting in the summer, and gradually fill them with the cash amount you plan to spend on them. That way you slowly but surely save the money you need for holiday gifts later.

#3 Make Some Extra Cash – A few months before the holidays, start a side hustle or take a part-time job to earn extra money for gifts and holiday meals. You could also hold a garage sale or two. Make sure you save this money for the holidays by tucking it away in a secret place and only take it out when you’re ready to spend it on the holidays.

Easy Ways to Save on Christmas

#4 Make or Bake Your Gifts – There are lots of easy and thoughtful gifts you can make for family and friends. I try to bake for all of the adults and only buy for the kids in our family. I spend money on baking supplies and inexpensive but cute containers for the homemade treats. You could print special photos and frame them as gifts. You can help your children to glue seashells to wooden frames and add a cute photo of them for grandparents.

Try making wreaths or decorations for friends and family and deliver them early so they can enjoy them through the holidays. Find hardly-used bundt pans in thrift stores, wash them, and bake delicious bundt cakes for gifts (including the pan). Make a double batch of fudge and fill holiday tins as gifts. Bake cookies or brownies and place them in plastic or glass containers as gifts. Chex Mix and other snack mixes are another great gift.

#5 Give Less Gifts – It really is true: It’s the thought that counts. Instead of bombarding your friends and family with dozens of gifts, choose one or two thoughtful gifts to give them. They can be inexpensive but clever such as giving a whisk with the words “We Whisk You a Merry Christmas” as a label. Another idea is for siblings or co-workers to go together on an expensive gift for parents or the boss. Include a nice card with everyone’s holiday message written on it. For the kids, try picking out 2-3 things that you know they want. Less is more this year!

#6 Say No to Secret Santa Exchanges and Other “Cute but Unnecessary” Gift Exchanges at Work, Church, School, etc. – Don’t buy gifts for everyone you know, send cards instead. Less is more this year!

Use These Savings to Invest

#7 Do Say Yes to Family Gift Exchanges – There are some fun ideas including:

  • White Elephant exchanges where each person brings a gift and you draw numbers to choose a gift or steal one from someone else.
  • As Seen on TV where everyone brings a gift with that label on it and you choose or steal also.
  • Bring gifts with a theme like DIY, Kitchen, Garden, or Gadgets.
  • Draw names in November and buy one gift for that person

#8 Avoid Shopping in Malls or Shopping Centers – This will save you money by avoiding advertising and marketing gimmicks, and gas to drive there. Shop online and take advantage of free shipping and deals.

#9 Hold Virtual Family Gatherings – With the increased threat of Covid-19, we all need to limit our gatherings in person. I know that we’re all suffering from ‘Zoom fatigue” but it would be a great way to see your loved ones safely. You could take turns remembering a “Christmas Past” and sharing it. You could also share your hopes for future holidays. Someone could record your virtual gathering and send it out as a gift to everyone. Your precious family memories become the gift.

#10 Instead of Holding a Huge Family Holiday Dinner Try This Idea – I’m designating Sunday, December 20th as my “Holiday Open House: Covid Style.” I’m making a schedule for small family groups to come to my backyard for some holiday coffee/cocoa, snacks and cookies and to receive their gifts from me. Each small group will be allotted about 90 minutes to visit with a 15 minute sanitation and restocking period in between visits. This way, I get to see my family, share some holiday cheer, and give them my gifts. I plan to start early and spend the day spending some holiday time together safely.

Enjoy the holidays and remember to take some time to just breathe and celebrate the magic of the season!

Top 25 Fire Blogs

We put together a list of our favorite Top 25 Fire Blogs. These are websites that give practical advice and will help you with your financial independence journey. Too much information can be paralyzing, so try to look at just one or two a day. Take some notes and develop your own strategy and plan.

  4. GoCurryCracker
  5. MadFientist
  6. OurNextLife
  7. CanIRetireYet
  15. MrFreeAt33
  18. CleverGirlFinance
  21. MrTakoEscapes

Top 25 Fire Blogs

We hope you find our list useful and learn something new from them. The Internet is flooded with bad financial advice, so it’s important to stick with trusted sources within the ‘FIRE’ circle. You can be sure that these blogs are credible and great resources.


Creative Homeschooling Ideas

Creative Homeschooling Ideas for elementary school children.

With the continuing spread of Covid-19, most parents are opting for virtual learning this school year. Educators have worked diligently to provide quality learning experiences for their students, but there is still a need for human interaction and socialization in learning. I recently retired from teaching after forty years in the classroom. I have a bachelor’s degree in education and a masters degree in special education. My experience includes a variety of special education settings and 2nd-6th grades. As a grandmother and former teacher, I have outlined some simple ideas for my children to use with their children to enhance and enrich their virtual learning experience. I hope these ideas will be beneficial to you as well.

  • Math Ideas:

-Involve your children in planning and preparing meals. These activities include money skills, fractions, budgeting, estimation, measurement, and many more math concepts.

-Purchase some small beanbags or soft balls. Use them to practice skip counting and math facts by tossing the bag/ball to your children as you count by 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, 6s, etc.

-Have your child shoot a basketball as you give an addition, subtraction, division or multiplication fact. If he/she solves the fact he earns a point. If he solves the fact and makes the basket, he earns 3 points.

– Play Dominoes, Shut the Box, Yahtzee or any other game that utilizes number sense.

– Purchase a large “Judy Clock” to teach time and elapsed time concepts. Give real-life examples like, “Mom puts a roast in the oven at 4:15. It needs to cook for 90 minutes. At what time will Mom need to take out the roast?”

– To practice money skills, give your child an amount to spend on Amazon or another online store. Then, have him/her shop and make decisions about purchases. Play store with empty boxes and containers with fake money. Practice making change and identifying amounts using bills and coins.

– To practice measurement skills, give your child a measuring tape and start measuring furniture in your home. Help them find the area of their room or another room. Measure liquids and dry ingredients to make a fun snack.

-Go on a scavenger hunt in your home to find as many geometric shapes as possible: rectangles, triangles, spheres, and more. Have them create “Geo Art” by combining shapes and drawing them on paper. You can buy an inexpensive set of Tangrams too.

* Science Ideas:

-Make science experiments and investigations a weekly activity. You can order inexpensive kits, google ideas, or go to Teacher’s Pay Teachers or other online sites. There are lots and lots of resources out there. Bill Nye, the Science Guy videos are a great resource too.

If your 2nd or 4th grader is learning about matter, you can do some cool experiments turning water (or other liquids) to solid or gas. Try making jello or ice cream or popsicles and explain the concepts involved. I purchased a great 2nd grade matter experiments guide on TPT to try out with my granddaughter.

-Go on another scavenger hunt to identify living and non-living things and create a chart to record your findings.

-Put together “Mr. Bones” (find pattern on Pinterest) and identify the various bones in the human body. It will make a cool Halloween decoration when you’re done with that unit.

-Make volcanoes and tornados following directions you’ll find on many online sites.

-When studying parts of plants, it’s always fun to plant some bean seeds and watch them grow. For older students, introduce variables and controlled experiences using several plants that you control the variable with: less/more light, less/more water, fertilizer or none, and so many more ideas.

-Learn about Six Simple Machines by yet another scavenger hunt to find them in your home. Experiment with an inclined plane as a ramp for matchbox cars by increasing the slope and marking the end spot with masking tape each time you increase. You can purchase kits to make the simple machines at home.

-Purchase a simple and inexpensive chemistry set to teach your children the concepts involved in this unit of study.


Make Homeschool Fun and Educational


* Social Studies:

-To teach citizenship to the early grades, have them create a poster to tell why they are good citizens. Look up ideas for safe things kids can do for their community. Some of the ideas I’ve seen are taking flowers to an elderly neighbor and ringing the bell before walking away, painting uplifting messages on rocks and leaving them on walking paths and trails, use chalk to make a hopscotch grid on the sidewalk, driving by a friend’s house on their birthday and honking, create cheerful cards to mail to senior assisted living facilities, and so many more great ideas.

-To teach kids the concept of location and perspective, have them draw a small circle in the middle of a large sheet of paper. Help them write their address in that circle. Next, draw a larger circle around the first, and in that space, write the city you live in. Then, draw a circle around the previous circle and write county, then the state, another

circle for the country, another circle for the hemisphere, another for the continent, another for the planet, and a last outer circle for the galaxy we live in. This is an amazing eye-opener for kids!

-When your child is studying The Age of Exploration, or Colonization/Revolutionary War, or Westward Expansion, or the Civil War, it’s a great time to combine reading, research, and writing skills. Have them choose a person from that era and write a biographical speech that outlines the person’s life. Have them dress up like the character and read his biography while you videotape it.

-Make crafts or toys from the time period or models of homes, ships, wagons, etc. I used to have my students make “cave paintings” by drawing ancient symbols on brown paper with chalk. We also made totem poles out of t-paper rolls, God’s Eyes with craft sticks and yarn, dream catchers with paper plates, beads and feathers, tipis with cardstock and feathers, and many other Native American crafts.

-Have your child write a speech to deliver to congress (not really) as either a southerner or a northerner during the Civil War era. They can provide arguments for and against slavery.

*Language Arts Ideas:

-Buy your child a journal and ask them to record their feelings about quarantine, the virus, virtual school, and other topics on their mind.

-Require your child to read each night, even if their teacher doesn’t require it. After each book, have your child tell you about the book or better yet, start a family book club and buy several copies of some classic tales.

-Practice all genre of writing at home; narratives, persuasive/argumentative, letters, expository (reports). Tie in social studies and science topics for some wonderful cross-curricular learning.

-Have them write their own math word problems for you to solve. Insist that the problems involve multiple steps to increase the rigor of the activity. They can also write a math story involving lots of great problem solving. Some great examples of these can be found on Superteacher dot com. This is also a fabulous site for at-home resources and costs about $20 yearly. The site’s resources are well-vetted and tied into common core standards.

-Don’t forget about poetry! Read lots and lots of poems together and discuss the craft involved in this genre of writing. Write poems as a family and have fun with it. To add some art, have your children publish their poems in a booklet with colorful illustrations.

-Make sure you are teaching your children correct grammar, punctuation, and other mechanics of writing. Superteacher has lots of fun editing activities for kids to practice these skills.

-Make up a progressive story as a family. A parent starts the story by describing the setting and main characters, then each family member adds details and plot elements until one member brings the story to a close. You’ll have a lot of fun adding twists and turns and surprises in your family progressive story. Have the kids write down the story when it’s done.

-Practice sentence structure by giving your child 3-5 unrelated words. Then, they use all of the words in a meaningful sentence. Example: Fisher, King, sandwich, porch, storm. King Fisher enjoyed eating a sandwich on his porch during the storm.

-Play more games! They involve reading, problem solving, speaking, and social skills. They’re also a super way to bring the family closer together.

We hope you enjoyed our Creative Homeschooling Ideas

Remember that children are very perceptive, and  they know that these times are not normal. Be honest, answer their questions, hold family discussions, make them feel safe and loved above all. Most parents aren’t really equipped to become teachers as well. Communicate with your children’s teachers, ask for help when you need it. and let them know you want to support them at home. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t have a lot of time to work with your children because of your work schedule. Just try to carve out a little quality time to provide some fun and beneficial enrichment activities and your child’s virtual learning experience can and will be successful. Go here for more Homeschool Activities For Kids.




How To Save Money On A Wedding

In the past few years, I have helped with four family weddings including my own. All of these events were done without spending a fortune and all were memorable events! Weddings don’t need to be extravagant and expensive to be great. It takes a lot of planning, a considerable amount of time and effort, and some easy ideas to save money. The following are some ideas we incorporated and may help you to plan and produce a fabulous wedding without breaking your budget!

How To Save Money On A Wedding

  • Plan your wedding in the “off season” from November to March. The prices are lower on everything and you won’t be competing with as many brides. Fall, winter, and spring weddings can be beautiful!
  • Get married on any day but Saturday! Most weddings are on this day.
  • Shorten your guest list and make your wedding an intimate affair with family and your closest friends. Choose your A-List.
  • Choose a venue that looks good naturally and won’t involve a lot of decorating. My wedding was held at a scenic overlook in a national forest. Some other ideas include a beach, a park, a campground, someone’s back yard by the pool, a golf course at sunset, and at a desert trailhead.
  • Another idea is to choose an unusual, non-traditional venue. For my daughter’s wedding, we all rented little cabins in Sedona and the owners provided the dinner and decorations for the reception in a building used for gatherings. She was married in the center green area of the cabins surrounded by the beautiful red rocks and forest of Sedona. One of my niece’s was married on the roof of a downtown San Francisco apartment building. Another niece was married at a brewery in the Tenderloin of San Francisco. Some other venues include a library, museum, a rose garden, the zoo, or botanical gardens, even on a dock by the bay or a lake.
  • It’s a good idea to have the ceremony and the reception at the same venue to save money and time on transporting your guests.
  • Hire a wedding planner! You may think this is an unnecessary cost but it actually saves you money. This person will have the experience and the connections to find you the best deals. Work with him or her to know your budget, areas where you plan to DYI, and your “must haves.”
  • Save on invitations by designing and printing them yourselves. There are lots of cool websites to assist you, and most include a free wedding website. Have your family or friends help you address the envelopes and print copies at a Kinko’s or FedEx office. Mail them yourself. Postcards are a cute and trendy way to save money on invitations, Save the Date notices, RSVPs and more. Save on menu costs by printing your own as well.
  • Work with your wedding planner to design an innovative seating chart for the reception dinner. One niece had a huge blackboard on the wall and street signs on the tables. You simply looked at the blackboard to see in which street you were to be seated. Since it was a San Francisco wedding, the street signs were Van Nuys, Lombard, Haight, etc.

Keep Wedding Costs Low

  • Keep the floral costs down by buying most of your flowers from Costco or Sam’s Club and make your own table arrangements in mason jars or bud vases. Place them along the tables with some greenery, fruit, and candles for an amazing look. Have a florist make your wedding bouquet and the bridesmaid’s bouquets simple; three large blooms with greenery and ribbon. Skip the boutonnieres for the guys and ask them to include a colorful pocket square instead.
  • To save money and still look beautiful, rent your wedding dress or shop at sample sales at bridal stores. You could also borrow a wedding dress from a sibling or friend or attend a few trunk sales for a bargain. The guys can also rent their tux or suit. Have your bridesmaids wear their favorite “little black dress” or choose their own dress according to your color scheme. My niece had everyone choose a color in the jewel tones and they looked fabulous!
  • Borrow the accessories or rent them. Your great aunt’s pearl necklace or your mom’s diamond earrings would look perfect.
  • Hire a photographer for 8-10 hours instead of the whole day. You can also hire the photographer’s associates who use the same style but charge less money. Always ask for the digital negatives so you can print your own photos. Ask guests to air drop or send you the casual pics they take. Sometimes those turn out to be the best.
  • Stick to beer and wine at the reception to save money or serve a limited menu of cocktails. Include a champagne toast if you want. Ask a friend to be a bartender to save costs.
  • Serve non-traditional desserts rather than a wedding cake. One niece had brownies and chocolate chip cookies from a local bakery. The other niece ordered a delicious ice cream cake from Dairy Queen and it was the hit of the evening! My daughter ordered an expensive cake that looked gorgeous but was dry and tasteless. I ordered my cake from my local grocery store bakery (white cake with chocolate mousse filling and whipped cream icing) that we jazzed up with fresh flowers and it was incredibly delicious and moist. When it comes to the dessert, be creative and frugal.
  • Keep the wedding favors simple and fun. For one of the weddings, I made truffles and my sister and I wrapped them individually in small cellophane bags and tied them up with a bow. We placed them at each setting at the reception table. Another idea is to wrap up mini wine or hot sauce bottles with a raffia bow and place them at the table settings.
  • Think simple but great for the reception dinner. Buffet or family style meals are really popular and less expensive. For my wedding dinner, I ordered food from my favorite Mexican restaurant and they delivered it and set up a buffet for my guests. The food was simple but really delicious. You might want to order from your favorite Asian, Indian, Vegan, Mexican or Italian restaurant and ask them to deliver and set up like I did. I provided the buffet table and dinnerware.

For one of the niece’s wedding dinners, my sister and I bought Caesar Salad kits, coleslaw and fruit plates at Costco and cooked briskets in crockpots. We served BBQ sliders with coleslaw, salad and fruit. She’s the one who had the ice cream cake for dessert. The other niece, who had her wedding at the brewery, served family style salads, meats, and side dishes which everyone passed around. It was a great conversation topic and the food was excellent. You can also opt for appetizers and finger foods and skip the “sit down” dinner.

I read an article about a bride who contacted a local culinary school and arranged for the students to make and serve the food for her reception at an affordable cost. The students were excited to have real-life experience and the food was excellently prepared and served. The point is to think outside the box!

  • Hiring a band involves another huge wedding expense. Some alternatives are to hire a DJ and provide ideas for your play list, hire student musicians from a local community college or even a high school honors group.

Just remember: your wedding should be fun and memorable and definitely NOT the ruin of your finances. Just look for these and other ways to stay within your budget. Have fun and good luck!

12 Money Saving Tips

We compiled a list of 12 Money Saving Tips. It’s time to start taking action and start saving money. You can save money a lot quicker than you think and we’re going to show you how.


12 Money Saving Tips

  1. Do your own maintenance: landscaping, pool upkeep, house cleaning, washing your vehicle.
  2. Quit paying for cable and switch to a low cost streaming option.
  3.  Change light bulbs with LED lights.
  4. Seal air leaks within your house or apartment.
  5. Price check before you make major purchases. Most big stores will price match these days.
  6. Quit paying for a storage unit.
  7. Pay your bills online and quit paying for stamps & envelopes.
  8. Dry your clothes on a line or a shower rod.
  9. Lower water heater temperature.
  10. Use cold water settings during most laundry.
  11. Research big purchases (appliances, tech products, travel, etc.).
  12. Change air filters once per month so that air can flow efficiently. Use a filter that allows for major air flow.


Now you can have some starting steps with these 12 Money Saving Tips. We will show you how to use these savings to invest in your future. The more you save now, the less you will HAVE to work later.


Homeschool Activities For Kids

Homeschool Activities For Kids

 This summer, it’s more important than ever to engage our children in meaningful learning activities at home. As a teacher for more than forty years, I’ve seen the “summer slide” in my students’ skills and in my own children. I’m certainly not suggesting that parents continue the rigorous home schooling that they’ve been doing during the quarantine months but keeping our kids’ minds and bodies in shape until school starts again is important. I’ve put together some fun, interactive ways to keep the kids learning during the long, hot summer besides boring workbooks.

Writing Practice:

  • Buy each child a spiral notebook or composition book to be used as their summer journal. Then, ask them date each page and write an entry every day; even if it’s only a sentence or two. You could also give them a “prompt” or idea to write about.
  • Have your children write summary paragraphs giving the main points of a movie you watched, and outing you went on, or a game the family played. Summarizing skills are a component of critical thinking.
  • Encourage your children to write about the pandemic. They could write a fictional story that takes place during the Covid 19 outbreak. They could write an expository piece reflecting on their feelings, fears, worries, and experiences during this trying time. They could research the facts and write about it from a kid’s point of view.
  • Have the kids write letters (I’m talking snail mail here) to friends and relatives. Teach them how to properly address an envelope too.
  • White boards are a wonderful teaching tool to use at home. If you don’t have one, you can purchase one at Walmart or have one cut from shower board at Lowe’s or Home Depot. I like to give the kids 3-5 unrelated words and ask them to use them all in a sentence. For example: king, sandwich, village, and roller skates. “ The king was famous for eating a sandwich while he toured the village on roller skates.”

Reading Practice:

  • Family book clubs are always fun. Order multiple copies of a book through Amazon,, or Assign a chapter or two for independent reading before the next book club meeting. Have some fun snacks to serve at each meeting. When you meet as a club, discuss the characters, setting, plot, and other story elements of the chapter everyone previously read.
  • Book Celebrations are a great way to share a book that was recently read. Your child could choose from a menu of celebrations after finishing a good book such as : oral book chat with you, written book report telling about setting, main and secondary characters, plot, and resolution, designing a new book jacket including the “blurb” on the back cover summarizing the story, or a diorama depicting a favorite scene from the story. I used to pay my own children a dollar for reading and sharing a chapter book.
  • Cross-Age Reading buddies is a fabulous way for an older child to read to a younger one. The older child chooses a picture book, practices reading with expression and showing the pictures, and then reads aloud to a younger sibling or cousin. The older child builds reading confidence, and the younger one has a role model for reading fluency.
  • Another fun reading activity is the Progressive Story. One person starts the story off by introducing the setting. The next person adds the main characters, the next person lays in the plot, and so on. The story goes on and on until someone brings it to a dramatic ending. You will be amazed at the plot twists and turns a story can take when added to by family members!



Math Practice:

  • Grocery planning and shopping can be a great real-life math lesson for your children. Help them plan a few days of meals and make a grocery list. Teach them to peruse your pantry for ingredients you already have to cut grocery costs. Clip coupons or look them up on your grocery site or app to find those bargains. Then discuss your budget and estimate the cost of the meals. Make adjustments as needed. Then, visit the grocery store (or order for delivery or pick up) and make your purchases.
  • Cooking with children is another great math adventure. Teach them to halve or double a recipe for practice in fractions. Teach them to measure ingredients too.
  • To keep those math facts sharp, incorporate some exercise with your facts drills. If you have small bean bags or soft balls of some kind, you can toss them to each other while “skip counting.” This means counting by 2s, by 3s, by 4s, and so on. Pretend it’s a hot potato to add some excitement to the game.
  • Make up some multi-step math problems of your own, using family names in them. For example: Dad gave Jessica, Robert, and Tom each five dollars to spend at the dollar store. Jessica spent $3.87, Robert spent $4.92, and Tom spent $7.86. How much did each child have left? How much did they spend altogether? Another example: If Mom puts a cake in the oven at 3:42 and it bakes for 35 minutes, at what time does she take the cake out of the oven?
  • Practice finding area and perimeter by measuring various rooms in your house. Remind your children that the formula for finding area is Width X Length= Area ( WxL=A) and perimeter is found by adding up all the sides. You could also find these dimensions of tables and tv screens.
  • Two boxed games for math are Shut the Box and Dominoes. Both are available on Amazon for less than $20. Shut the Box is a strategic numbers game where players take turns rolling the dice as many times as they can to shut as many numbers as possible. The object of the game is to get the lowest score. Both of these games
  • involve eye/hand coordination and number sense.



Social Studies/Geography/History:

  • Watch the history channel together and discuss the content. There are lots of great programs about American History, the wild west, colonization, and the wars throughout time.
  • Decide on a citizenship project for your children to launch. Some suggestions are donating food to a local food bank, donating clothing and toys to a charity store, and making cards for children in hospitals.
  • Try the “Where in the World is _____________ _____________?” activity. Start by drawing a small circle in the center of a large sheet of white paper. Have the child write his address in the circle. Next, draw a larger circle around the center circle and write the city where he/she lives in it. The next concentric circle contains the state, then another circle with the country, then the hemisphere, the continent, and then earth. It gives the children a sense of their global address.
  • Look up historical sites in your state and take a road trip to explore some of them. Have your children make a tourism poster for each site or each road trip that can be shared with their class next year or just to hang up in their bedrooms.


Science Investigations:

  • There are so many great science experiments that you can investigate at home with basic ingredients. Here are a few websites filled with easy experiments that you should definitely check out this summer!


Remember parents, any activity you do with your children this summer can turn into a fun learning experience. Just try to limit your children’s screen time, keep them moving, get out in the sunshine, read together, have them write about their experiences, and play games!

Save Money On Groceries

Here are some easy ways to Save Money On Groceries.

In this new normal, most people are looking for ways to spend less money. One of the best places to start is with your groceries. By implementing a few simple steps, you can save some serious money on groceries. Start by involving the whole family in a discussion about ways to save money on food costs in your home. If everyone is onboard and willing to put a little extra time and effort you will be surprised at your savings.

  • Agree to curb or at least limit outside purchases of coffee/tea drinks at specialty shops and snacks. Invest in quality insulated mugs and good coffee/tea so you can bring drinks from home. Do the same with snacks; stock up on everyone’s favorites and pack them to go. If your family eats a lot of fast food or delivered meals, cut that habit in half immediately!


  • Before you shop for groceries, inventory your pantry and shelves to determine what ingredients you already have on hand. Then, plan meals based on using things you have at home. It’s fun to involve the family in this step. Everyone can design a meal using mostly ingredients you already have on hand. You can also google meals with these “on hand” ingredients or peruse cookbooks for ideas. Planning meals is crucial.


  • Embrace coupons and loyalty programs at local grocery stores. Check out the store flyers too. If you don’t belong to a wholesale store like Sam’s Club or Costco, you might want to consider it. Stock up on essential supplies like paper products, pet food, cleaning supplies, snacks, etc. and find a place to store them in your home or garage.


  • Always, always make a list before shopping. After you’ve inventoried foods on hand and planned your meals, make a list of needed ingredients. Then, when you shop, stick to that list!


How To Save Money On Groceries


  • Buy sale items in excess and store or freeze them. If you don’t have an extra refrigerator or freezer in your garage, buy one. Food items like ground beef, chicken, steaks, pork loins, and bacon are easily frozen for later use.


  • Don’t shop hungry! This leads to impulse buying of fatty and sugary snacks and straying from your list. Bring a granola bar from home if you are hungry.


  • Shop strategically: most stores arrange aisles so that essential items are on the perimeter and sugary and processed foods are in the center. Avoid going up and down every aisle and being distracted by unnecessary purchases. Again, stick to the list.


  • Cut out the use of processed and ready-made foods. Buy fresh ingredients and cook from scratch whenever possible. Resist purchasing packaged fruits and veggies that are already cut up.


  • Try implementing “Meatless Mondays” so that at least once a week your meals don’t include meat. Be creative with salads and vegetarian meals.


  • Buy store brands whenever possible. They are usually of the same quality and cost much less.


  • Cook larger meals and package half of them for leftovers later in the week or pop them in the freezer. Try cooking two large meals for two nights in a row. Then eat leftovers from meal #1 the third night and leftovers from meal #2 the fourth night. Another idea is to utilize leftovers in creative ways like soups and casseroles.

With a few changes in your habits, you can save a bundle of cash on your food costs. When you involve the family, it can be fun too!





Super Cooling Your House

Does super cooling your house work?

Let me tell you that super cooling your house absolutely works and can save you tons of money on your electric bill. Our neighbor first introduced us to the idea, shortly after moving into our new home. We went from paying around $400 per month in the summer, to $200 or less per month. Our yearly savings on our electric bill have been cut in half.


Here was our electric bill before super cooling:  July 9, 2013

supercooling home


Here was our electric bill after super cooling:  July 29, 2020


Super Cool Your House


That is a copy of my electric bill for the month of July, in 2020 with 2 A/C units. As you can see, super cooling will save you tons of cash and keep your house cool. You might need to keep a sweater and sweatpants on during the off-peak hours, but that’s much better than sweating bullets.

Our house is powered by two separate a/c units, so we were expecting to have a pretty massive bill in the summertime. Super Cooling has allowed us to save thousands of dollars, which can be invested wisely.


What is supercooling HVAC?

Super Cooling your house is when you turn down your A/C to 65 – 68 degrees during off peak hours, then shut them off during the on peak hours (3pm – 8pm). Your house will retain the cold air and the temperature will slowly rise. By having your air conditioning unit turned off during on-peak hours, you are going to save a ton of money.

Basically, you freeze the house during off peak hours and shut off your AC unit during the on-peak hours.


How do I pre cool my house?


  • Contact your electric company and get placed on an energy saving plan. Each company is different, but your local company should offer something similar. This is the most important aspect of super cooling.
  • Our energy saving plan is called the Saver Choice Max plan from APS. On Peak hours are from 3pm – 8pm (This is the time of the day when you want to consume as little power as possible).
  • Off Peak hours are from 8pm – 3pm, all day on the weekends, and all major US holidays.

The way to super cool your home is really quite easy. You crank down the air as low as you can stand it during the off peak hours and then shut down your a/c unit(s) while on peak.

  1. Turn your thermostat down to a low temp, around 65 – 70F at 6am.
  2. At 2:55pm, you will want to turn off your air conditioning unit and leave it off until 8:01pm.
  3. From 8:01pm to 6am, we run the temperature at 72 degrees.
  4. Weekends are off peak, so run the a/c at a comfortable temperature, ~72F.


By keeping your house so cool during the off peak hours, it will take several hours for the temperature to rise. The furniture, flooring, walls, all retain the cold and help keep temps low. By 8pm, our house is around 76 – 80F and we live in the hot Arizona sun. For us, this is a small price to pay for having our electric bill cut in half. This will be our third year using the super cooling method and we have saved thousands of dollars in the process.



  • You are not turning your A/C low enough for a long enough time
  • Your house is not correctly sealed. If you can spot areas where air is leaking out, you will need to get this sealed.
  • Opening the doors too much and letting hot air in
  • Cooking for long h0urs

These are some reasons why your home might not bet getting cool enough. Or your house is getting hot too quickly.