5 Healthy School Lunch Ideas for Your Preschooler, Kindergartener, or Elementary School Aged Child

Are you looking for inspiration on how to get your kids' lunches packed quickly and easily? Today I'm sharing five healthy school lunch ideas for kids in kindergarten and early elementary school. Check out the video to see it all in action - or scroll down for details on each lunch.



Our kids are now five, eight and nine. And up until two years ago, their lunches would come home and they would not be eaten. They'd be half eaten.

Our oldest always wanted to play instead of eat.

Our middle child sometimes had trouble finding everything in her lunch with all the different containers.

And our youngest, this has been a long journey, but he's been in food therapy for a number of years. 

Our youngest used to eat only five to six foods and that was it, and so it's been a long struggle getting him on track. But one of the easiest ways to get him on track was to give him foods that he liked in his lunch, but then also add one or two things that he was kind of okay with, and...

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Frozen Butterbeer From Harry Potter - So Easy Your Kids Can Make It!

We have a Harry Potter fan in this house!

For her 8th birthday, we took our little one to Universal Studios to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We all fell in love with the delicious frozen butterbeer served there.

We got home and tested a few different recipes, and settled on this lower-sugar version that the kids ask to make constantly!

Check out the video to see how to make it! The recipe is below.

 

Harry Potter Frozen Butterbeer Recipe (serves 3-4)

1/2 cup vanilla ice cream

3/4 - 1 cup whipped cream

2 cups cream soda (for lower calorie/sugar use Zevia or similar)

1 tbsp butterscotch or caramel syrup

 

1. Freeze 1/2 cup cream soda in an ice cube tray.

2. Add all ingredients to high-speed blender, reserving 3/4 cup whipped cream for topping.

3. Blend on ice crush/milkshake setting.

4. Pour in chilled mugs, top with 1/4 cup whipped cream, and enjoy!

 

It's been a fun treat for the family all summer! 

What's your favorite summer treat?

 

 

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A Better Toy for Travel Than LEGO: Plus Plus Blocks Ideas

Do you wish your kids would play with something other than LEGO? Mix it up with this building toy, perfect for ages 3-10 years! This toy is great for creative thinking and it's wonderful for travel, for playing at a siblings practice, or for playing at home.

In this video, you'll learn what Plus Plus Blocks are, why you should try them out, and the favorite things our kids build with them:



What are Plus-Plus Blocks?

They are little plus signs that allow kids to build in all directions.

Why do we love them?

1. Perfect for grabbing on the go, the tube packaging is easy to stuff into a bag or large purse and run out the door. It's no big deal if a few are lost because they are all the same! I've spent hours looking in the grass for a dropped LEGO!

2. Great for all ages - they have larger pieces for young kids, and the regular sets are even fun for adults!

3. They don't hurt if you accidentally step on one!

What do we build?

People, robots, humans, dogs, eagles, babies, animals,...

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3 Easy Ways to Foster A Love of Reading in Your Preschooler

We just got back from a trip to visit my brother and his family in Minnesota.

Their 5-year-old and 7-year-old wake up in the morning and read chapter books. They ride in the car and read chapter books. They bring books along everywhere and literally read for fun often throughout the day.

Our daughter also loves to read, but our 9-year-old son just started liking books and our 5-year-old rarely pick up books for fun. Here are three tools we've used to foster reading when we can't read aloud. 

Here's the video, with all the details!

For easy reference, here are the tools mentioned:

1. LeapReader Pen and Books

2. meReader Book Packs

3. Starfall app

4. Fun With Dick & Jane Books

These tools are great, but the most important thing you can do for a pre-reader is READ ALOUD often. This book is a handy resource to have available for reference on which books work for which ages. 

It states the commonalities early readers have are:

1. Was often read to.

2....

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The Secret Building Toy Our Oldest Likes Better Than LEGO!

There's more to building toys than basic blocks and LEGO. Our oldest child started with this toy at age four and is still building with it five years later!

What in the world could it be? It's called: ZOOBs. I found them on super sale a few years ago and I kind of bought them on a whim. But what was surprising to me was how much our son absolutely loved them. He would lie in bed for hours and build.

What makes them unique is the pieces that you use to build. They have five different pieces that join together in different ways, a few with round balls on one end. What you can do is join these pieces together in different ways to make toys that can move and swing and have a rotation in all sorts of directions.

ZOOBs are perfect for preschool to early elementary kids. So ages four to ten. If you have a child who's under the age of four, it's not that they can't use them because as you can see the pieces are pretty big, but it takes a lot of small motor skills and strength...

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Magna-Tiles Ideas to Keep Your Kids Playing All Day

Are you looking for ways to keep your child playing so you can get work done from home? Today I'm sharing three ways to play and three things to build with this favorite toy of kids five and under.

This post is best as a video, but scroll down if you prefer to read!


When you want to get some work done and you have your kids with you, Magna-Tiles are a great option. They work for all three of our kids and a lot of our friends' kids. Most preschools and elementary schools have Magna-Tiles because there's so much learning that you can do with them. There are so many benefits to playing with Magna-Tiles. They're really fun and they encourage imaginative play. They help kids learn early math concepts. They're great for colors, for shapes, for problem-solving and for 3D thinking.

So what are Magna-Tiles? They're little shapes that click together. There are magnets on each side of them and then they just click together really easily.

Kids can make shapes with them and little structures....

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Easy 4th of July STEM Activities for the Best Summer Ever

Are you looking for ways to entertain kids this 4th of July? Keep the kids busy and having fun this holiday with these easy to set up STEM activities and coloring pages.

When the kids are done running around, it's helpful to put out some markers, crayons, coloring pages, and blank paper. You can create your own with a tracing pad, or check the description, where I've linked up a few of our favorite coloring pages.

We believe in setting up activities that use STEM, which is science, technology, engineering, and math. We also add in art, so it makes it STEAM. We encourage all of those activities for our kids at home, to keep them challenged, and busy, and having fun. STEM jobs pay almost double per hour, and are growing at a rate of 13%.

Science

Challenge the kids put together marshmallows and toothpick constellations. This is a great activity for them to do for the 4th of July. Just gather up some mini marshmallows and some toothpicks. You might have to break some of them in half. Use...

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Ollivander's Wand Shop - Do You Have A Harry Potter Wand?


Have you had a chance to visit Ollivander's Wand Shop at Universal Studios? Your first stop should be to get interactive Harry Potter wands for the kids.

The experience is well worth the 30-minute wait time because when you're allowed to enter, there's a small chance you'll get chosen to have the shopkeeper find a wand for you. 

There's a show of a wand choosing one person, then after you can enter the shop lined with wands from the floor to ceiling. There are character wands and regular wands, each with different strengths. It's really fun to find one that suits your own personality.

The interactive wands are marked with gold stickers, and for a few extra dollars, they allow you to perform magic in the shop windows outside all throughout Harry Potter world. 

Our son chose Lord Voldemort's wand. He's the villain, but I asked if I should be worried and was told, "There is no bad wand, only a bad wizard or witch." 

Our daughter chose a holly wand that...

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5 Ways to Use STEAM on the Longest Day of the Year - The Summer Solstice

Do you have plans to celebrate the summer solstice? It's the longest day of the year and the first day of summer. Today I'm going to share with you how you can celebrate with activities that are STEAM or STEM related with your family. That's science, technology, engineering, art, and math.


The summer solstice marks the first day of summer and the longest amount of light in one day of the year. Because the earth is not straight up and down, but tilted almost 25 degrees, the summer solstice in June is actually the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere. So the northern hemisphere has the summer solstice June 20 to 22. This year, in 2019, it's June 21, but it is opposite for the southern hemisphere. That would be their winter solstice. The winter solstice in the northern hemisphere is around December 21.


So here's how to celebrate this event using STEAM learning with your kids. That's, again, science, technology, engineering, art, and math. STEAM used to be STEM, but then...

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Should You Try A Screen Free Week With Your Family? How We Survived Screen-Free Week.

We just went an entire week with our kids screen-free. 

So what is screen-free week? It's an international event that's put on by the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood. It's when families are encouraged to put away the screens, go outdoors, spend time together as a family, and only use screens if you have to for work or homework.

So our family tried it.

We didn't follow the rules exactly. We were off screens whenever the kids were around and awake. 

The reason we did it is we wanted to see what kind of changes might happen after just turning off and not using screens for a week.

I've been reading that Silicon Valley executives who've created all these screens and apps and social media sites don't allow their kids to use screens, and its made me think maybe there's something to this. Maybe we can see some different personality traits, or differences in our own family if we try to go screen-free for a short time.

I've been doing lots of research and...

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