July 16, 2015

Kids in the Kitchen - Easy Meals Kids Can Make

As my kids have aged, they have taken on more responsibility in the kitchen. During these summer months when they have extra time I try to help them learn to make meals on their own. Joshua especially has loved being in charge of meal times. Maren mostly likes to make cookies. Ha. But I love being able to watch them take on more responsibility and take pride in the skills they have gained.

Ideas for meals that kids can make on their own when they're first learning to cook

Why should kids cook on their own?
 - They feel proud!
 - It's a valuable life skill.
 - It helps the family.

When should you let kids cook on their own?
That will depend on the child. Joshua has been cooking and he is 10, but I know kids younger who make breakfast for their families. I, however, still do not trust my 8 year old to be cooking in the kitchen without me. You know your child best and if they will be safe around hot surfaces and sharp things.

How do you teach them to cook on their own?
Before you let them be totally independent, make sure they have a firm understanding of the recipe.
I always:
1. Let them watch and help a little the first time we make a meal together.
2. Let them be in charge with me watching and guiding as needed.
3. Let them make it on their own with me in another room. They can come ask for help if they need it but this helps them feel responsible and proud that they could do it on their own.

What can kids cook on their own?
My kids first meal to master has always been breakfast, specifically scrambled eggs. I love this because then they get up before I do and make breakfast for their siblings. It's great. Sometimes the meals don't turn out as planned but it's a good learning experience for the kids. We've had some very salty scrambled eggs.

Our favorite easy foods for kids to make (these are ones that require cooking):

Scrambled Eggs
Grilled Cheese
Macaroni and Cheese

Foods they make that don't require cooking:

parfaits (yogurt and cut fruit layered in a cup)
sandwiches of all varieties
peeled and sliced vegetables (carrots, cucumbers)
Fruit salad made of bananas, grapes, strawberries (I don't have them cut melons yet)
Green Salads

By combining these things my kids can come up with family meals that everyone will like. Are they gourmet meals? No, but that's okay. They're learning the basics and are proud of their accomplishments.

What kinds of foods do your kids like to make? What would you add to this list?

This post is part of "31 days of Kids' kitchen activities". Go over to Study at Home Mama to see more great ideas for getting kids involved in the kitchen!

kids' kitchen activities

June 25, 2015

Using Bread Tags as Math Manipulatives

Math can be made fun by using everyday objects as manipulatives.

Make math fun by using bread tags as a cheap math manipulative!

*this post contains affiliate links

Hey all! So do you ever just collect things for no reason and then think "what should I do with these?" Um, me neither? Oh fine. I do. And one thing I kept for no reason were these little plastic tags from packages of bread and rolls and things. I found that they make great, cheap math manipulatives.

So what can you do with them?

Sort! Give a pile to your preschooler and let them sort. Sort by color! Sort by size! Sort by shape! Sort by date on the tag! You get the idea.

Plus if you let them sort into a muffin tin, these make a very satisfying "plink!" noise.

Make math fun by using bread tags as a cheap math manipulative!

And they can be used for fine motor work. Here I strung up a shoelace between two chairs and Nathan clipped them on. He decided to make a pattern too.

Make math fun by using bread tags as a cheap math manipulative!

These are also great for counting, adding, subtracting, making patterns etc . . .

So start collecting some plastic tags for a cheap math manipulative at home or in your classroom.

And be sure to explore the other fun math games we've done.

Some of our other favorite math manipulatives which we use on a regular basis (that are not free, haha):


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This post is part of the "Math Made Fun" series over on Schooltime Snippets. Be sure to check out the other ways you can use everyday items for math!

math made fun

June 1, 2015

Summer Reading Scratch-off Boards

Kids love this fun scratch-off game that encourages summer reading!

Great idea! Scratch off boards as a summer reading incentive. The kids scratch off a square to reveal a prize after they have read a book! So fun!

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Every summer I like to do some kind of summer reading incentive at home. We also participate in the library's program, and maybe a bookstore program or two, but the kids always love the one we do at home.

This year I made myself laugh by coming up with a devious plan to ruin their fun. I was going to offer them a dime for every book they read OR they could trade it in for a chance at the "risk board", kind of like that "Let's Make a Deal" game show. The risk board would have some really cool fun stuff on it, but also some chores or punishments. I thought it was a hilarious plan. My 12 year old thought it sounded awful. I decided against it in the long run but instead came up with an idea for a scratch-off board which so far they have loved.

Every time they read a book (or two, depending on how long/hard the books are) they write the title on our summer reading book lists and put the book away. That's an important step or we end up with books all over the house. Then they scratch off a square on our scratch-off boards and get whatever prize they reveal. The prizes I included were 25 cents, 50 cents, a dollar, ice cream (I keep drumsticks ice cream cones in our freezer for this prize), a prize from our prize basket (which contains candy, gum, bubbles, and other small things), or a free media day (where they can play on electronic devices or watch shows as long as they want once their morning work is done).

Great idea! Scratch off boards as a summer reading incentive. The kids scratch off a square to reveal a prize after they have read a book! So fun!

Here's how to make your own Summer Reading Scratch-Off boards:


foam brushes
dark colored paint
dish soap
laminator, or contact paper, or packing tape
Summer Reading Scratch-Off Boards (I have included the 4 different versions I used for my 4 kids plus a blank one you can fill in with your own prizes.  The kids were pretty disappointed when they learned not all the boards were the same and they couldn't figure out where things were by looking at what their siblings had scratched off. Hahahahaha)


Print out your Scratch-Off Boards onto card stock. Now you need to cover the boxes with something clear and slippery. I first tried just covering the bottom part with Con-tact paper but found it wasn't great. I ended up running the whole page through my laminator (which I love) and it worked great. Plus I can reuse the boards! I've also read that some people just cover the spots with packing tape and that works.

Next mix up your scratch-off paint. You use 2 parts paint and one part dishwashing soap. I did not measure. I just put two dabs of paint on a paper plate and then guestimated a dab of soap that was half that size. It worked. Don't mix them together too vigorously or you will get lots of bubbles.

Then, using your foam brush, paint over your boxes and let them dry. Reapply as many coats as you need in order to hide the prize. If I had thought it through, I would have printed out the prize in lighter color ink instead of black so they were easier to cover up. If you handwrite them in with a pencil that will also be easier to cover. It took 3 coats of the blue and green paints to cover the prize, and about 7 of the pink paint. Seriously. It was painful. Use dark colored paint.

I had taken a penny and scratched around the boxes to make them look nice and neat since I was taking pictures for the blog, but really don't worry too much about staying perfectly in the lines. Kids won't care.

I hope you enjoyed this idea! I have lots of other summer reading incentive ideas on the blog you might like looking at. And I'd love for you to join my newsletter or follow me on Pinterest. Thanks for stopping by!

Some things that might be helpful for this project:


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