Posted 09-30-2016 at 01:47 AM by Jessica
Math isn’t always fun. And trying to teach math isn’t always fun either. In fact, it can be downright frustrating for both you and your child sometimes. Fortunately it doesn’t have to be that way. I have put together a few tips and resources that can help you when it comes time to bring out the math book.
1. Skim through the lesson beforehand. I know that seems obvious, but it really is helpful. I frequently help my little sister-in-law with her homework, and I was able to find a version of her math book online after doing a Google Search. Before I set up our video chat to go over the problems she’s struggling with, I skimmed through the lesson she was on that day so that I was not caught off-guard by any problems. While sometimes it is necessary, it is usually best to go by the steps taught in the book versus Googling instructions. Sometimes there is a specific method for solving the problem that your child needs to master.
2. Use objects and cheat-sheets. For all the visual learners out there (myself included) having a cheat sheet or using blocks to work though problems is really helpful. Simply explaining how to subtract 9 from 13 with words isn’t always best with children. If you lay out 13 blocks or beads, and then have them take away 9 and count what is left over, that is much more effective.
You can use anything from paperclips to pom poms to pieces of cut up paper to visually demonstrate addition and subtraction. I bought a box of colorful wooden beads at Target, and they work great!
Here are a few helpful “cheat-sheets” I found on the web. The fraction strips are particularly helpful for explaining fractions. I plan to print one out on card stock and cut each square out so we can work through adding and subtracting them.
General Math Reference Sheet
Converts and Abbreviations
3. Use whiteboards to practice. I bought a couple of small whiteboards for a dollar each at Target the other day. They work great because you can work through problems without taking up lots of space on their homework paper, and kids seem to think that whiteboards are tons of fun, so they’re usually more willing to work out the problems with you. You can even turn it into a game. Give them a practice problem and have them race against you or another family member to solve it. First one done holds up their whiteboard!
4. Don’t be afraid to not know. Sometimes the problem is just too confusing and no matter how much you work at it, you just don’t quite understand it. In this situation it’s best to have your child make a note to ask their teacher about that problem before class or during the lesson the next day. Don’t just guess; it’s better for them to ask about it later than potentially learn how to do it completely wrong.
5. Patience and praise. Nothing helps a child more than hearing how smart they are, even if they aren’t getting each and every problem right. Kids that don’t feel confident do much more poorly than others. The elementary years are so crucial in building up their self-esteem. If they feel like they’re unintelligent and bad at math, they’re not likely to put much effort in and they’ll continue to fall behind. Be patient with them as you work through the problems, don’t get upset if you have to repeat yourself a few times, either. In the end, your patience and praise will help them more than anything else.
Those are just a few tips that I have found helpful while helping kids with their math homework. Follow a few of those and you’re sure to have a better homework-session next time!
Do you have any helpful methods for helping your kids with their math assignments? If so, please let me know in the comments! I’d love more tips.
Posted 09-28-2016 at 01:46 AM by Jessica
Comfort food is the best food. And it’s oh-so perfect for the Fall. We have to build up some body fat to keep us warm through the winter, right?! So that means we need to eat lots of pot pie, mashed potatoes with gravy, stroganoff, and hot soup. I’m a little obsessed with soup due to the fact that it’s usually super easy to put together, and it’s almost always inexpensive, too! And if you have a crock pot, you just throw everything inside and and you’re all done!
Here is the recipe for Cuban Black Bean Potato Soup. While anything with potatoes in it screams comfort food, it’s actually pretty healthy for you. There is so much protein from the beans, and the flavor is fantastic. This is actually the first soup I ever made on my own. In my middle-school years I found this recipe online, tried it out, and loved it! If a 14 year old with zero cooking experience can do it, I assure you that you can do it, too!
The second soup I just have to share with you is a Butternut Squash Soup. Since we’re already talking about my middle-school self, I have to mention that I used to hate Butternut Squash Soup. My taste buds changed over the years for sure, but I’d honestly have to say that I probably wasn’t exposed to the best Butternut Squash soup, and if I had tasted this one, I’m sure that I never would’ve thought I disliked it. So even if you’re not so sure you love butternut squash, give this recipe a try. It’s so creamy and delicious!
There you go, delicious soup recipes perfect for these upcoming chilly months that you’re sure to love!
Posted 09-26-2016 at 01:45 AM by Jessica
Oh, homework. How parents often dread the course-work that gets sent home almost as much as their kids do. With school back in full-swing, it’s likely that your kiddo is bringing home math and English assignments almost daily. Some kids are great about sitting down once they get home and completing their work before heading out to play, while others really need an extra push to make sure they get what they need to done. Here are a few tips for how to make “homework-time” more effective.
Set Up A Homework/Study Zone
A quiet room free from distractions is best, meaning no cell-phones, no iPad, and no surfing the web if they’re using a computer. If they’re self-motivated enough, a desk in their bedroom would work great. But if they often get distracted by the toys in their room, maybe setting up a space in an office or even the kitchen table would work best. Make sure that the space you choose is well-lit, and stocked with any school supplies they need.
Establish A Routine
If you require homework to be done before they can go outside and play or watch a TV show make sure you stick with that consistently. Getting homework done right as they get home is great because the material should still be fresh in their mind, and then once they’re finished they can relax and spend the rest of their night having fun.
Provide A Snack
A long day at school often makes for a hungry kid. In order for them to be able to focus on their homework, having a healthy snack is important. Check out our other blog post that includes a few of our favorite nutritious after-school snacks. Spreading some peanut butter on apple slices is better than letting them grab a bag of chips in their ravenous state.
Be Available If They Need Help
Don’t be ashamed if you look at your 3rd Graders’ math book and feel completely perplexed. Trying to remember math that you haven’t used for years is not an easy task! Do your best to help them walk through the problems they don’t understand, and if you’re sure that you don’t know how to help them, encourage them to ask the teacher for help. Also, never rule out getting a tutor if you feel that your child is slipping too far behind.
You don’t have to have an office dedicated to homework, or know how to do everything their homework asks for. You simply need to make sure that you stick with a consistent homework schedule and help them with what you can. Homework is a time for kids to learn how to be more autonomous and take ownership of their own work. It can be great to help them learn how to manage their time, and practice concepts that they learned during school. As long as they have a distraction-free environment and the resources they need to succeed, they’ll do great!
Posted 09-24-2016 at 01:44 AM by Jessica
Peaches are my favorite fruit, so you can imagine my excitement when Summer rolls around and peaches come in season. There’s a peach orchard not far from my house, and they harvest peaches there that are to die for. Once they’re ripe, we head over and buy a huge box full. You’d think that we’d be rolling in peaches for months with the amount we buy, but we usually end up eating them all within the first week or so (we freeze a bunch of them so that we can use them in smoothies once we run out of fresh).
Recipes that include peaches are abundant, and we try out a large amount of them each Summer. There are a few recipes that have become family favorites and one of them is this super easy 4-Ingredient Fresh Peach Dump Cake. I love this recipe so much because it can be thrown together in no time, and as long as you have the fresh peaches, it’s pretty likely you already have the other ingredients in your kitchen.
This recipe is a combination of a few recipes I found online. When I first searched for a Peach Dump Cake, I was met with recipe after recipe asking for canned peaches in heavy syrup. Gag. (Okay, not really “gag,” I like canned peaches, too. And using the canned type works great during the winter when peaches go out of season. But I definitely prefer using freshly picked peaches when I have them on hand.) In addition to that, I’ve always loved oats in my cobbler, but I had no luck finding a recipe that included them. Because of that, I decided to experiment a little and come up with my own version. Let me know what you think!
4-Ingredient Fresh Peach Dump Cake
1 Box Yellow Cake Mix
1 Stick Butter, Melted
1 Cup Rolled Oats
About 5 Fresh Peaches, Sliced
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×13 pan, then add all of the sliced peaches.
In a medium bowl, mix together dry cake mix, oats, and melted butter.
Dump the crumbly cake mix and oat mixture over the top of the peaches, and sprinkle on a little cinnamon.
Place in the oven and let bake for 25 minutes.
I don’t think that it can get any easier or yummier than this recipe. You basically just “dump” all of the ingredients in a pan and bake it. Talk about my kind of recipe! This is perfect for putting all of those peaches to use, and is a great last-minute dessert if you want to whip something up but are short on time and ingredients. Also, you can always use canned peaches or substitute the peaches out for a different fruit entirely!
Let me know how you like this recipe in the comments!
Posted 09-22-2016 at 01:42 AM by Jessica
How much sleep is enough?
The beginning of school means that establishing good sleep-habits with your elementary-age child is even more important. Summer usually means sleeping in and staying up later than normal, but school requires waking up early and getting into bed early enough to get enough sleep. But how much sleep does your kid really need? The National Sleep Foundation recommends between 9 to 11 hours of sleep for children between the ages of 6-13. That means that a wake up time of 7 am should require a bedtime of at least 10 pm (though 8 pm would be more ideal). Getting your little boy or girl to head to bed when you want them to is a whole other issue. I’ve done some research and included a few tips for getting your kiddo to stick with their bedtime and get enough sleep at night.
Set the bedtime and stick with it
Consistency is key with kids. Pick an appropriate bedtime and enforce it each night, even on the weekends. This will get their internal clock into rhythm.
No electronics before bed
Some kids may insist that playing on the iPad helps them wind down, but in reality studies have shown that screen-time right before bed actually disrupts the ability to fall asleep and have a restful night. Make sure that screen-time is ended at least an hour before bed, and that other unwinding techniques are included instead.
Make bedtime relaxing
Warm showers, bedtime stories, and chatting with your child about their day before tucking them in are all great ways to make bedtime special and relaxing, increasing the likelihood that they will fall asleep faster and stay asleep through the night.
Address their night-time fears
Lots of kids have fears of the dark or that there may be a monster in their closet. Instead of shrugging off their fears, hear them out and do what you can to help them feel more comfortable. This doesn’t necessarily mean letting them sleep with you in bed, but buying a fun night light or investigating their closet isn’t hard to do, and can make all the difference to them.
It’s usually the little things that make the biggest improvement for kids getting enough sleep. Simply staying consistent on bedtime and buying a night light may be all you need to help your child get the sleep that he or she needs to do their best at school the next day.
Let us know in the comments what you find is most helpful with getting your kids to bed on time, and helping them get the best sleep throughout the night!
Posted 09-20-2016 at 01:41 AM by Jessica
I had a time in my young, middle-school-aged life when I was obsessed with baking. It became a past time of mine that I was very fond of, and my family sure appreciated all of the goodies I’d make throughout the week. Mind you, this was in an age before Pinterest *GASP*, so my recipes all came from my moms old recipe books that she got from her wedding, and the occasional Google search. The real fun recipes that I tried came from food packages though. (Who would’ve thought that Triscuit crackers could be made into so many different appetizers?) This “Backwards Cookie” recipe came from the back of a Nestle White Chocolate Chips bag, and it soon became my signature cookie. I’d make these babies bi-weekly, and they were gobbled up so quickly! Give this recipe a try, and it will be sure to become a family favorite.
(Recipe courtesy of Very Best Baking by Nestle)
WHITE CHIP CHOCOLATE COOKIES
PREHEAT oven to 350° F.
COMBINE flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels. Drop by well-rounded teaspoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until centers are set. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Posted 09-18-2016 at 01:40 AM by Jessica
Turn Those Ugly Plastic Pumpkins into Pretty Planters!
Try saying that 5 times fast. Plastic Pumpkins Into Pretty Planters… Plastic Pumpkins Into Pretty Planters…..
Goodness, could I have picked a better tongue twister for my title?
Anyways, onto the actual post… A couple of days ago I was making my way from one side of our storage room to the other (no easy task, mind you) when I came across a couple of plastic trick-or-treating pumpkin buckets. And by a couple, I mean 5. They were everywhere! After I saw the first one I kept running across another and another! Everywhere I turned there were plastic pumpkins!!!
Okay, it really wasn’t quite that horrifying. I’m being a little over dramatic, but there were more plastic pumpkins than I expected to come across on my trek through the storage space. I began thinking about what I could do with them since they no longer were going to be used. I could toss them out, or find a way to re purpose them. Since I was not feeling creative enough to brainstorm my own ideas I took to Pinterest. Once there, I found an adorable planter idea for the large buckets and just had to include this mini version for your table if you have any of these small pumpkins.
For just a few dollars you can make this absolutely adorable pumpkin centerpiece from Up to Date Interiors. I am not the biggest fan of faux flowers, so I opted to put a little water into the bottom of my pumpkins and trim a few fresh roses. You can do it either way though, and both look great!
If you liked those, you’ll love this larger version for your front porch from Drab to Fab! I just love the color she chose; it looks like an expensive pot! I’m sure you already have a few of those plastic pumpkins somewhere, but if not they shouldn’t cost you more than a couple dollars to buy. You can always use the same can of spray paint for both the large planters and the small pumpkin centerpieces above as well if you want to save another few dollars.
What I love so much about these is that they don’t just have to work for Halloween. Simply turn their pumpkin faces away and they’re perfect for September and November as well.
Let me know in the comments below how you ended up liking this easy craft!
Posted 09-18-2016 at 01:39 AM by Jessica
While most people do most of their cleaning and organizing during the Springtime, I usually feel more inclined to do a big “Fall Clean.” Sure, it doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, but it works for me. During the colder months you’re often stuck inside the house more, meaning you have to actually live in your cluttered house. If you took care of de-cluttering in the fall, you’ll feel so much better when you’re inside on a snow day. Also, because of the holidays, you’re likely to have more guests coming into your home in the next few months than you do during every other month combined! Don’t worry about aunt Josie seeing your messy closet when she goes to hang up her coat, clean it out now!
I also like to get organized as we head into the holidays so that I can make sure I know where our decorations are located, and it feels nice to get rid of all the junk I’ve accumulated during the year so far (mostly to make room for all the additional junk we’ll accumulate during the next few months of holidays).
As the weather gets crisper there’s less of a need for water balloons and beat up flip-flops, so those types of seasonal items get stored away for next Summer (or thrown away if they’re too beat up, like the above-mentioned flip-flops). We also often have items laying around that are still in good use, but no longer our style or useful to us, so those items get donated. That’s just about it when it comes to how I “Fall Clean.”
- I make it my goal to tackle one area or room a day.
- I take 3 bins with me. One for storage, another for donating (or to sell in a yard sale if you prefer), and the last for trash.
- Go through drawers, under the bed, everything! And toss anything that doesn’t belong into one of those 3 bins.
If you stick to those three steps, in only a matter of weeks you’ll be totally de-cluttered and ready for the fun and stress that accompanies Fall and Winter!
Posted 09-16-2016 at 01:38 AM by Jessica
It’s always nice to bring a little something for your child’s teacher when school starts up again. It doesn’t have to be a big gift, just something thoughtful that you and your kiddo pick out. With the craziness of school starting again, learning all the new kids’ names, and making sure they have all of their lesson’s planned, most teachers would really love a small token of your appreciation. I’ve gathered a few inexpensive ideas for something fun for your child to take to the teacher sometime during the first few weeks of school.
He or she is probably overdosing on coffee this time of year, and would probably love a new mug! (Especially if it has a cute quote on it.) If you don’t want to buy one, grab some sharpies and draw on one yourself! Here are some instructions.
Paint a mason jar, or buy one at the store. Having a fresh new holder for their supplies will much appreciated! These two different mason jar pencil holders are so cute, you’ll have to give them a try!
A batch of cookies or a few candy bars with a cute note is inexpensive and super sweet! I’m sure they’d love a sweet treat to hide in their desk drawer. I found the cutest printable tags for all kinds of different candies on this blog!
Sharpies, dry erase, Crayola, the options are endless, and they’re all on the top of most teachers’ lists. Wrap up a handful of Sharpies or a box of Crayola markers with a ribbon, and viola! You have the perfect teacher gift. Head here for some photo inspiration!
Just typing “teacher gifts” into Pinterest had me nearly drowning in adorable ideas. Any teacher receiving any of these sweet gifts is super lucky!
Let us know in the comments what you do to let your kids’ teachers know you appreciate them!
Posted 09-14-2016 at 08:41 AM by Jessica