Crafts and Projects · Writing Appearances

A Craft to Teach Kids Budgeting and Giving

I love teaching my daughters, which is probably a good thing considering I homeschool them.

There are definitely days that don’t go as planned and I second guess what I am doing, but I am so thankful for the opportunity to be able to homeschool my daughters. It’s amazing the amount of information I learn (or relearn) alongside them.

Earlier this year I talked about a fun craft to teach kids financial responsibility that my daughters and I had done together.

That craft was a “bank” divided into four sections: spend, save, invest, and donate.

I had mentioned these banks in an article I had written entitled How to Quickly Boost Your Child’s IQ, which had been published on A Fine Parent.

Fun craft to teach financial responsibility

I recently wrote another article that was published in The Old Schoolhouse magazine (winter 2018) entitled Hands On Math: The Hungry Jar that discusses the benefits of a simple activity which focuses on donating. My family calls it “the hungry jar”, which my daughters “feed” once a week.

Within the article, I explained how the hungry jar can teach philanthropy while instilling some important math and life skills. I discussed how this simple hungry jar gives kids the opportunity to count coins, add and subtract money, comparison shop, budget, estimate, and help others.

At the end of the article, I stated “Maybe your family would enjoy creating your own hungry jar…”, so I thought I would share with you how my daughters and I created ours.

I got the main concept of the hungry jar from a church my family once attended. During the offering time of the service, the kids walked around the sanctuary collecting coins and dollar bills from members of the congregation to insert into a large glass jar near the pulpit. The money from that jar was then donated each month to a different chosen cause.

We stopped attending that church, but we didn’t want to stop feeding a hungry jar, so we decided to create our own “hungry jar”.

Create a Hungry Jar to Teach Math

First off, our jar isn’t technically a jar. It’s actually a clean oatmeal container.

We decorated the oatmeal container with a wallpaper sample I had found at a rummage sale for free. We chose this particular wallpaper sheet because it had bears at a picnic, so we thought it fit with being “hungry”.

Create a Hungry Jar to Teach Math

We put glue on the outside of the oatmeal container, wrapped the paper (cut to fit) around the container on the glue, and taped the edges together to hold it in place.

Decorative paper or construction paper may have stuck better than the wallpaper sample, but we were able to get it to stay in place.

We have been feeding (and emptying) our hungry jar for a few years now, and it is still holding together.

Create a Hungry Jar to Teach Math

Once we had the paper wrapped around the container, I cut a hole large enough to insert large coins and folded bills in the lid of the oatmeal container. Then, I wrote “Hungry Jar” on it.

Create a Hungry Jar to Teach Math

That was it!

Each week my daughters “feed” a set amount of money to the hungry jar. After some time, they count the money, comparison shop, and purchase items for a local food shelf using only the money they had added to the hungry jar. Afterwards, they subtract the money they had spent.

Sometimes, we have the opportunity to deliver the items and help at the food shelf. Otherwise, we donate the food during local food drives/collections.

If you would like more information about how the hungry jar teaches math concepts, you may be interested in reading the article I wrote entitled Hands On Math: The Hungry Jar that was published in The Old Schoolhouse magazine (Winter 2018).

Do you have any hands-on math ideas you’d like to share?

Crafts and Projects · Writing Appearances

Creating a Thankful Chain for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is only a few days away!

Of course, we should be thankful every day of the year, but Thanksgiving can be a great reminder to focus on what we are thankful for.

Last year, I had mentioned my daughters and I decorate a Thankful Tree and hang a Thankful Chain in our house to show what we are thankful for each year around Thanksgiving.

We definitely have a lot to be thankful for!

I recently wrote a post for Hands On As We Grow entitled Make Your Own Simple Thankful Chain for Thanksgiving. You can check it out if you are interested in seeing step-by-step instructions on making a thankful chain.

Not only are these thankful chains a great way to decorate your house with what you are thankful for, but they can also promote cutting, writing, colors, and pattern making practice for the little ones.

thankful chain

How do you show what you are thankful for?

Birthday Party · Writing Appearances

Give Your Little Veterinarian a Party That Gives

I was recently quoted in an article on Moneyish entitled Parties that Give Back Are All the Rage where I briefly talked about a themed birthday party I hosted for one of my daughters a few years ago.

Today I am going to share some more details of that party inspired by my daughter. She combined her love of animals with her love of giving for a veterinarian/humane society themed birthday party.

On to the details…

Instead of gifts, my daughter asked for items that could be donated to a local humane society.

We had called the humane society ahead of time to see what items they were in need of the most. We sent the list of needed supplies along with the handmade invitations, which were made to look like veterinarian appointment reminder cards.

We turned part of our living room into a temporary humane society.

Twelve stuffed dogs were placed in their own “kennels” (tape on the ground around them). Before the party started, my daughters decided if the dogs were boys or girls. They also gave them each a name, which they wrote down on cardstock in front of them.

Here is a picture of three (out of twelve) of the dogs that were available for adoption.

puppies ready for adoption

Each of the guests were allowed to choose a dog to adopt when they arrived. Those that arrived first were able to choose first just like at a humane society.

My family had made collars (not shown in the picture) using paracord and buckles for each of the dogs ahead of time.

We had also cut colored cardstock into the shape of dog tags, punched a hole through each of them, and inserted key chain rings.

The guests had the option to change their dog’s name if they wanted. They each decorated one dog tag, which we attached to the collar of their dog. They also filled out a “certificate of adoption” (from The Chickabug Blog).

vet certificates found on Chickabug Blog

I had various veterinarian supplies set out for the kids to use during the party. Each of the dogs were able to receive a checkup before going home.

vet supplies for vet themed party

I displayed a bunch of animal x-rays (I had borrowed from a resource library for free) in a window. The children had fun guessing which animal each of the x-rays belonged to. I had the answers written on the inside of the papers taped next to them.

Some of the creatures such as the snake were really easy. Others were a little more tricky to figure out.

x-rays for vet themed party

I set out “puppy chow” and blue jello in aluminum pie pans. I placed large spoons within each of these pans since they were for everyone to share.

No one tried to eat them out of the bowls like a dog.

food for a vet themed party

I also set out some pretzel “fetch” sticks for the kids to enjoy.

fetch sticks for vet themed party

I created a cat cake using a cake pan I had borrowed from a library. I am definitely not a professional cake decorator.

I was very thankful it resembled a cat, and it tasted good. Too bad the picture turned out blurry.

cat cake for vet themed party

The humane society had requested toilet paper, so I also made a toilet paper cake.

vetrinarian party tp cake

My daughter still had the opportunity to unwrap presents because many of the parents wrapped the donated items.

Below are some of the items that were donated. Other donated items not shown included toilet paper, paper towels, three bottles of bleach, and more dog/cat toys.

donate to local humane society

The kids went home with their adopted dogs, certificates of adoption, dog tags and collars, and little cat and dog magnets that my daughters and I had made ahead of time.

pet magnets for vet themed party

We gave each of the guests a picture of my daughter in the middle of all of the donated items with a thank you note written on the back to thank them for their generosity.

Both of my daughters enjoyed dropping the load of supplies off at the humane society. The people at the humane society seemed grateful for the donations.

Have you ever hosted a birthday party to give back to others?

Veterinarian from the book Jobs of a Preschooler

“I’m a veterinarian…” from the book Jobs of a Preschooler


Ramblings · Writing Appearances

How To Make Math Worksheets Fun

Recently I wrote a post for Hands On As We Grow entitled Simple Number Line Car Race to Teach Math about a fun activity I used with one of my daughters to reinforce the concepts of addition and subtraction.

race cars to learn math facts

I enjoy doing simple at-home learning activities with my daughters that don’t require worksheets; however, worksheets can serve a purpose.

Some worksheets seem tedious and boring. Others include interesting information and colorful pictures.

One of my daughters enjoyed doing the activity shown above when she completed addition and subtraction worksheets.

Below are two additional techniques I have used with my daughters to make math worksheets more fun.

Turn Worksheets into a Scavenger Hunt

One of my daughters used to get very overwhelmed with math worksheets. I could tell she was frustrated and the worksheets took much longer for her to complete than necessary. To remedy this situation (while still having her do the worksheets), I turned the worksheets into a timed scavenger hunt.

I simply cut the worksheets into small sections, wrote “clues” to where the next section of the worksheet could be found, and hid the sections around the house. After she completed a section of problems, she would read the clue, and then race to the next small section of problems.

I set a stop watch to record how long it took her to complete the entire scavenger hunt (and worksheet). She definitely finished the worksheets much quicker, and she no longer dreaded having to complete them. Turning the worksheets into a scavenger hunt became a fun game.

Use Dry Erase Boards

My daughters enjoy writing on dry erase boards, so I have copied math problems from worksheets on to boards for them to complete. Again, having just a few problems at a time seems to be less overwhelming than an entire worksheet filled with problems. The dry erase board also offers more space than the worksheets often provide to solve equations.

Once they solve the problems, I correct them on the board. If they get the answer wrong, they redo the problem on the board. If they get the answer correct, they write the answer only on to the worksheet. I have them do this step since we homeschool, and I keep all of their finished worksheets as proof they are actually doing schoolwork, progressing in their studies, and learning.

It may seem silly that using a dry erase board instead of a sheet of paper yields better results since they are doing all of the same problems, but this worked well with my daughters when they were younger.

What are your thoughts about worksheets?










Ramblings · Writing Appearances

8 Batty Books

(This post contains affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you if you click on them and make a purchase.)

I love doing activities or unit studies based on specific themes. Fall is a great time for themes such as fall leaves, apples, pumpkins, and even bats!

I recently compiled 20+ batty crafts, snacks, and activities to try at home, which was published on Hands On As We Grow.

After doing some batty crafts, snacks, and activities, you may want to huddle together like a colony of bats and enjoy some batty books. Although there are many bat books to choose from, below is a list of eight bat books I was able to check out from my local library.

Bat Jamboree by Kathi Appelt

This rhyming picture book shows the many acts of a group of bats performing in front of other animals. It counts from one to ten and then back again from ten to one. The “show won’t be over until the bat lady sings”.

Little Lost Bat by Sandra Markle

This is a longer story with some sad realities of a bat’s life. It starts with a female Mexican free-tailed bat giving birth to her little baby. It discusses the life of a little bat inside of a cave including some dangers. For example, it states “a snake lurking at the entrance crawls across the cave ceiling and snags a baby bat for dinner”. It also talks about the bats searching for meals of moths, beetles, and mosquitoes; a bat using echolocation (although it only describes the process instead of using the word echolocation); and it goes into detail of an owl snatching the mother bat out of the air. The baby bat waits and waits inside the cave for his mom to arrive, but she never does because she has been taken by the owl. At the end, the baby bat finds another mom bat (who has lost her baby bat) to take care of him.

Although this story does show the realities a bat may face in the wild, some children may have a difficult time accepting the loss of a baby bat and the death of the mom

Bat Loves the Night by Nicola Davies

This story focuses on a pipistrelle bat’s activities throughout a day including waking up, gliding, capturing a meal, and feeding her own little baby bat. Various bat facts are also included throughout the pages.

Hello, Bumblebee Bat by Darrin Lunde

This story has simple text for little readers. It is set up in question and answer format. For example, the little bat is asked his name, and the little bat responds that his name is Bumblebee Bat. Throughout the book, the bat answers how small he is, what he looks like, how he sees at night, where he lives, how he sleeps, and more.

I found this book in the children’s nonfiction section at my library. It focuses specifically on information concerning bumblebee bats.

Bats at the Library by Brian Lies

This rhyming picture book talks about the adventures a colony of bats has at the library throughout one night. They hang upside down from a lamp, create shadows, copy themselves, splash in a drinking fountain, and (of course) read.

Bats in the Band by Brian Lies

This rhyming picture book starts with bats awakening after hibernation. So, what do bats do when they no longer are quietly hibernating? They create music with horns, bagpipes, bugles, violins, straws, spoons, and more. There’s a one-bat band that plays, a group that plays a country song, and more. As night ends and the bats head home, they realize music can be found in everything.

Bats at the Ballgame by Brian Lies

This rhyming picture book shows the adventures of bats at a ballgame. A vendor flutters around with mothdogs, the mound is raked (with a fork), the anthem is sung, and the bats play a great game of bat-ball. What team will win before the night ends?

Bats at the Beach by Brian Lies

This rhyming picturre books shows the adventures of bats at (you guessed it) a beach. The bats even take turns being kites (as seen on the cover) and enjoy dessert at the snack bar (hanging upside down around a single light bulb that is attracting many insects).

What do you think of bats? Are they cute and furry or creepy creatures?