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Saint Patrick’s Day Writing

Reading about this history of Saint Patrick's day will help you complete your Saint Patrick's Day writing journal. The way Saint Patrick's day become a mainstream holiday in America is quite interesting. (The free Saint Patrick's Day Journal can be downloaded at the end of the post. The journal has writing prompts to inspire your creative writing in March)

How did Saint Patrick's Day become a holiday in America?

Irish Roman-Catholics began honoring Saint Patrick's Roman-Catholic Feast day in the 10th century. This was 5 centuries after Saint Patrick died. It is believed that Saint Patrick died on March 17th. This day happened to be in the middle of the season of Lent.

Lent restrictions were eased for Saint Patrick's Day, allowing these Irish to celebrate by eating, drinking, and dancing. Lamb and ham were traditional meats to dine on for the Feast of St. Patrick's Day.

St. Patrick's Day writing prompts

Saint Patrick's Day in America

In the 1700s, the first Saint Patrick's Day parade was held in Boston, Massachusetts. Next,Irish Catholics came to America to escape the Potato Famine, St. Patrick's Day increased in prominence.

Many in American society mocked and oppressed Irish Roman-Catholic immigrants at the time. Celebrating a saint from their Roman Catholic religion was one way the Irish Roman-Catholics were able to establish solidarity and resist oppression. Irish-Americans stopped eating ham or lamb on Saint Patrick's Day. The Irish in America started buying brisket from the Jewish shops in their neighborhoods. This brisket eventually became the meal of corned beef, cabbage and potatoes. Corned Beef, cabbage and potatoes is the meal that is now popular to eat on Saint Patrick's Day.

Saint Patrick's Day Today

Now, many people celebrate Saint Patrick's Day all over the world. Saint Patrick's Day is the most popular in American, Canada and Australia. People celebrate Saint Patrick's Day elsewhere around the world, including places in Asia and Russia.

saint patricks day journal with writing prompts

St. Patrick's Day Shamrock

First, the Shamrock is a 3-leaf clover, not the 4-leaf clovers that many believe are lucky. An Irish legend says that Saint Patrick used the Shamrock to discuss the Holy Trinity during his missionary work. Each of Shamrock's 3 leaves represents the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in Christian belief. Today however, both the Shamrock and Four-Leaf Clover are associated with Saint Patrick's day.

Another thing that helped the Shamrock's elevation as a symbol of Ireland is that it grows everywhere in Ireland. Thus, the Shamrock has always been available to everyone, regardless of social status. Irish people who didn't have a lot of money could pick Shamrocks to enjoy because Shamrocks grew everywhere.

The people of Ireland wore Shamrocks on their clothing and displayed Shamrocks in their homes. This is similar to today's practice where we may put a rose in a lapel or gift a bouquet of roses. So Shamrocks became part of Irish culture, along with leprechauns.

St. Patrick's Day Writing Prompts

Saint Patrick's Day Symbols

The Leprechaun has been in Irish folklore for centuries. Leprechauns were originally grouchy old men who were ornery, tiny, and red. Leprechauns were believed to shoemakers who hoarded their gold and hid it at the end of rainbows.

It's unknown why the red leprechauns turned into the green leprechauns that we know today. One theory is that leprechauns turned themselves from red to green for camouflage. Or that everything that became associated with Ireland was green.

People still believe that spotting a leprechaun is good luck. Even in modern times people believe if they can catch a leprechaun, they will be rewarded with a pot of his gold.

Saint Patrick's Inspiration

St. Patrick's Day shows how the celebration of oppressed immigrants is now part of mainstream culture. In today's world, everyone is Irish for a day! This serves as an inspirational piece of history for each of us.

Saint Patrick's day writing prompt

Learning about St. Patrick's Day

It's beneficial for everyone to learn something about St. Patrick's Day. Adults can learn about Irish folklore. Kids can enjoy the fun of leprechauns and rainbows with their families. We can become familiar with its history. Learning about culture and practice always stimulates brain growth and personal growth.

I taught my daycare kids about St. Patrick's Day. They really enjoyed the story of how St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland. Ireland became part of our map curriculum as well.

My husband and I mainly celebrate with food. We enjoy colcannon, corned beef and cabbage every March. One of my grandmothers always made corned beef and cabbage when I was growing up. She and my grandfather would invite us over for dinner. This is really the only traditional dinner we had besides Thanksgiving. However, where I live it's not common for people to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with the traditional Irish-American meal.

This year I decided to celebrate Saint Patrick's day in another way. I'm using Saint Patrick's Day as an opportunity to write creatively. Creative writing helps my non-fiction writing. I'm sharing it with others who want to use their imagination and write about leprechauns and luck! This journal is free for personal use and I have included it as a download. (You can download it at the end of this post)

Saint Patrick's Day Writing Prompts

This is the list of pages for the free Saint Patrick's Day journal. There are 9 pages with writing prompts. The video shows what the journal looks like. Another option is to write down a few of the prompts from this post. Use these prompts to write in your own personal journal.

(The journal can be directly-downloaded at the bottom of this post.)

  • What does it mean to get a “lucky break”? Write about a time when you got one. (Consider something that didn't seem lucky at the time but with hindsight, turned out to be lucky.
  • Do you believe in leprechauns? Why or why not? (Consider how your culture contributes to your belief/disbelief. For example, I don't believe in leprechauns but I somewhat believe in Bigfoot. My Bigfoot belief is directly related to living in the PNW for 20 years.)
  • What would you do if you saw a leprechaun?
  • How would life be different if everyone had light green skin and green hair? (Consider if this would effect equality in your society)
  • Plan a St. Patrick's Day Party. What will you do? What will you eat?
  • Make a list of everything you know about Ireland. (Complete this page after reading here about Ireland.)
  • Draw a four leaf clover. In the center write, I am lucky because. Then write a different way you are lucky on each of the four leaves.
  • You have caught a leprechaun, and he has given you a pot of gold in exchange for his freedom. What do you do with it? ( How much gold? Will you trade it in? How would you explain it? Give details of exactly what you would do with it and why)

Use the Free St. Patrick's Journal for personal use or in a classroom.

Teachers are welcome to use the Saint Patrick's Journal in their classrooms. Classroom student's can use the journal prompts to write their own stories. Use the pages to support lesson plans about Ireland or leprechauns. Adapt the journal and prompts for homeschooling, adapted to the student's grade or skill level.

If you like this journal you may like my other Saint Patrick's Day Items:

Commercial Use Saint Patrick's Day Journal

Saint Patrick's Blessing Wall Art

St. Patrick's Day Brain Breaks for Kids

This St. Patrick's Day Journal for March can only be used for Personal Use or for One Classroom

I would love to hear about how you celebrate Saint Patrick's Day. Leave a comment below.

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6 Different Ways to Save Money Using Jars

A simple glass jar can help you save a significant amount of money over the course of a year. The Savings Jar serves as a motivator to stick to a budget. It's a simple method to save money for a vacation or home improvement project.

Use one of these Savings Jar methods to reach your savings goals today.

How do you make a Savings Jar?

Any clear glass jar will suffice. Rinse out a jam jar, spaghetti sauce jar or any other food condiment jar and set it up as your Savings jar for your savings goal.

It's critical to keep the jar transparent since seeing the money grow motivates you to keep going.

saving money using jars for adults

Setting Cash into a jar addresses two issues.

A. A Savings Jar is a motivational cue. It's encouraging to be able to see what you are saving.

B. Cash can be inconvenient, so it's less likely to be spent. Many of us prefer using a card over cash.

1. The $5 Dollar Bill Savings Jar Plan

This strategy entails placing a $5 bill in the jar each time you receive one as change. 

$5 bills on their own, are spent quickly on small purchases that we usually don't need. However, each $5 bill you save easily adds up to a substantial amount.

In today's economy, putting $5 or $10 dollars aside is barely missed.

6 tips saving money using jars

1. The $5 Bill Savings Jar Plan

This plan involves saving a $5 bill by putting it in the jar each time you receive one back as change.

Instead of spending the $5 bill, save it by placing it into the $5 bill Savings Jar.

If you don't receive $5 or $10 dollar bills on a regular basis, get cash back when using a card to pay with. Ask the cashier to give you your change in $5 or $10 dollar bills.

6 Different ways to save money in a jarv

Use a $5 dollar bill or $10 dollar Bill Tracker with the Savings Jar. Hang the Savings Tracker up on the refrigerator or somewhere visible. Fill in a circle each time you add a $5 or $10 dollar bill into the Savings Jar.

  • When thirty-one $5 dollar bills are added into the Saving Jar, you will have a total of $155 saved.

2. The $10 Bill Savings Jar Plan

The $5 bill Savings Plan can be modified to be a $10 bill Savings Jar Plan. The principle operates the same as the $5 bill plan, except $10 bills are used instead.

  • When thirty-one $10 Dollar Bills are added to the Savings Jar, you will have $310 saved.
Use a Jar to Save Money

The $5 dollar and $10 dollar bill trackers serve as a motivator to keep adding to the Savings Jar.

3. The Traditional Change Savings Jar Plan

Saving your change in the Savings Jar is a tried and true strategy that yields results.

how to save money on a low income

This is a great way to save as a family. Each family member contributes to the Savings Jar to reach the family savings goal.

Family members will receive enjoyment out of a goal that they have contributed to. Kids will have a sense of accomplishment as they enjoy their fruits of a goal they helped to turn into a reality.

The Traditional Change Savings Jar Plan is also a tool that children can use to learn about money.

Change is physical and because its physical its an easier way for children to understand the concept of money as a whole.

Use the Traditional Change Savings Jar Plan to teach children math skills as they practice counting coin change.

Each child chooses a jar, and decides what he/she is savings for. As the child earns money through chores, they can put the money in the jar.

Dump the Savings Jar out every week and count the money with the child to help him/her see where they are at towards achieving their savings goal.

4. The Paycheck Savings Jar Plan

Are you trying to save for a trip or a new TV Screen or Trip?

The Paycheck Savings Jar Plan works best if you have a specific financial goal determined.

How to use the Paycheck Plan:

  • Determine the amount you need to purchase your item.
  • Decide the date you want to purchase your item by.
  • Count the number of checks you have between now and that date.
  • Divide the amount you need by the number of checks.

This will tell you how much you need to save out of each check to purchase your item by the date you need it.

The Paycheck Savings Jar Plan also works for couples. Cash a specific amount of money from each paycheck and add it to your Savings Jar.

using jars to save money

Use a Printable Jar Tracker to help with determining how much to save from each check. If you need to save $100 from a paycheck, fill in that total of the Printable Jar Tracker along with the cash placed into the Savings Jar.

If you need to save $1000, simply use two copies of the Savings Trackers. Color in the matching circle for the cash you have put into the Savings Jar.

  • When every circle is filled in, you will have saved $500 dollars.

using jars to save money

Use these Savings Jar Trackers to implement the Paycheck Savings Plan

5. The Inspiration Savings Jar Plan

The Inspiration Savings Jar Plan works by putting a picture of the object or goal, you want to achieve. This Savings Jar Plan can also be used as a Family Savings Plan. Couples and family members can contribute money to the Savings Jar to reach a family goal.

how to save money for a vacation


The inspiration photo depends on your goals. Pictures of Goals can vary with a photo of a vacation spot or a new phone.

Attach a small photo to the lid of the Savings Jar, or place the photo near the Savings Jar. Make sure to display the photo so that you see it every day.

The photo serves as a constant reminder of why you are saving money. Each person puts money into the Savings Jar each time they are inspired to do so.

Savings Jar Challenge,

This Printable Savings Tracker can help you stay motivated to continue to put cash into the Inspiration Plan Savings Jar.

Use the Printable Jar Trackers to track the amount of cash put into the Inspiration Plan Savings Jar. If you need to save $3000, simply use two Budget Trackers.

  • As you put money into the Savings Jar, color the circle of the appropriate amount.
  • When every circle is filled in, you will have saved $1500 dollars.
savings jar printable

6. The Weekly $25 Savings Jar Plan

The Weekly $25 Dollar Savings Plan is a popular Savings Jar Plan method. For many people, it's easier to put a small specific amount of money into the Savings Jar each week.

Saving $25 Dollars a week is easy to develop as a habit.

Consistent practice equals consistent results.

Consistent results mean consistent Money Jar Savings cash.

Different Ways to Save Money in a Jar
Track your $25 a Week Jar Savings Plan Amount

This Printable Savings Tracker can help you stay motivated as you continue to put cash into the $25 a Week Savings Jar.

When you add money into the Savings Jar, color in the circle with the appropriate amount. When every circle is filled in, you will have saved $100 dollars.

  • In a year's time, you will have saved $1,300 using the Weekly $25 Savings Jar Plan.

CONCLUSION

A glass jar can help you save more than $1,000 a year. A commitment to saving money will help you achieve your goals. Once you have saved for a specific goal using ONE Savings Jar, expand upon this idea. Try adding another savings Jar for another category you need to save for, like retirement or a college fund.

printable jar savings challenge

The Savings Jar Planner can help you to stay on track every month for a year. The monthly calendar helps you plan out your schedule, and financial goals. Use the Savings Jar Planner Expense worksheet to help you figure out the monthly expenses so you are better equipped to add cash to your Savings Jar.

Money should not be a source of stress, but a tool. I have used the Savings Jar method to get control of my own expenses and spending habits. It's a great accomplishment and the skills I learned continue to help me keep control of my budget.

ReadCountCraft.com
Living Through Learning, One Dollar at A Time

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5 Ways Your Family can Celebrate Black History Month

*Download the Black History Month Inspirational Quotes Journal at the end of this post*

personal journal for black history month

Black History Month is an opportunity to increase awareness and spotlight the contributions and achievements of Black Americans. Celebrate Black History Month by paying attention to contributions by Black Americans.

As white parents, we need to raise our own awareness. We also need to raise awareness with our children, because we cannot count on schools or any other organization to do this for us.

Celebrate Black History Month by participating in local or virtual events.

Not all communities have events celebrating Black History Month. My community does not. Thankfully with Google, Zoom and online technology- we now have numerous opportunities available to us to participate in online events to learn and celebrate Black History. To find local events, Google or search Facebook for announcements of events in your community.

personal journal for black history month

Every family should make Black History Month as an occasion to learn and celebrate, just like other holidays. White parents, like myself, have a special responsibility to learn ourselves so we can teach our children. Not only overt teaching, but nurturing an innate awareness that our children will inherit.

Celebrate Black History by Celebrating Black Artists

This site celebrates Black Poetry and Jazz officially in April. Use this page to find references to activities and resources to explore. Choose any of the items off of the list to learn about Black American contributions as part of your Black History Month celebration.

Joyful ABC Activity Books download is an example of one of the resources listed on the National Museum African American Museum of History and Culture's website.

Celebrate Black History by Learning Black History and Culture

The Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration offers an online conference for 4th graders through adults, to learn about African American artists. Sign your family up for this free conference presented by the Smithsonian Museum. Register one to three months ahead of time to sign up to attend the conference, here.

  • Read Black History Books to your Kids. There are 25 books on this list, to read with kids ages Four and older. Choose at least one book that your child will naturally be drawn to based on his/her interest, and one book that is introducing brand new material.

For example, a child who enjoys sports may naturally be drawn to “Teammates”, but then you would also introduce a second book, such as “Mae Among the Stars” which highlights the first female African American astronaut.

5 ways for families to celebrate black history month

Listen to the 1619 Podcast

This podcast is part of The 1619 Project challenges us to reframe U.S. history by marking the year when the first enslaved Africans arrived on Virginia soil as our nation's foundational date”. The podcast itself is suitable for adults and teenagers, and can be played in the car while running errands with your kids. Parents and other educators can download this Free Curriculum Guide to help augment discussion. Issues highlighted from this podcast and curriculum are an integral part of American History and should not be overlooked in Celebrating Black History Month.

Celebrate Black History Month by following Black Content Creators.

We need to Celebrate Black History month with action. The easiest way to take action is to follow Black Content Creators. We are on at least one social media channel daily, if not several times a day. Following Black Content Creators gives support, as costs nothing. There are some Black Content Creators that have platforms specifically for the Black Community. As a white person it's important I listen and learn to these platforms to Celebrate Black History Month.

100 Black Content Creators You Should be Following

Celebrate Black History Month by Buying from Black Businesses.

Make it your business to buy from Black Owned Businesses. “Voting with our money” is one of the most powerful ways to make a difference in our communities.

How to celebrate Black History Month

Celebrate Black History Month by starting the habit to become aware of Black Owned businesses that you can patronize locally. We can expand our support and impact by also buying online from Black Owned Businesses. Next time you go to order off of Amazon, check first to see if you can find what you are looking for in a Black-Owned Etsy Shop.

1500+ Black-Owned Etsy Shops

Celebrate Black History Month by making traditional African food

Cooking with kids is always a great way to spend time together. It's a practical activity because we all need to eat, and offers an opportunity to learn life skills. Why not make Traditional African- American Food part of your Black History Month Celebration? Even picky eaters should like “Irio”, a Kenyan dish made with mashed potatoes, peas and corn.

Ten Tops Easy-to-Cook Traditional African American Food

Celebrate Black History Month by teaching kids songs of the Civil Rights Movement

No holiday celebration is complete without music. Check out the list of the iconic songs of the Civil Rights Movement and the story behind each song. Singing “This Little Light of Mine” and teaching the origin of this song as part of the Civil Rights movement, is a cheerful way to Celebrate Black History Month with your family. There are quite a few kids books written for children about Martin Luther King Jr, and use this kid-friendly rap video about Martin Luther King Jr as an upbeat activity to partner with your reading.

Don't forget about using reflection and discussion as a part your activities to celebrate Black History Month.

Personal Journal for Black History Month

An important part of celebrating Black History Month is to raise our awareness, and to reflect upon our new awareness.

Black History Month Inspirational Quotes Journal

Celebrate Black History Month by reflecting in this Black History Month Inspirational Quotes Journal

To be completely transparent, as a white person I prided myself upon my experience of growing up and living in really diverse areas. I grew up in Fresno California which is an incredibly diverse community. Growing up in a diverse community does not mean that I understood the experiences of the people of color in my community.

We need contributions and history of black Americans to be the norm in our daily lives. Celebrating Black History month is the first step.

I made this journal to help memorize “Black History Month Quotes”. Use the pages in this journal to reflect upon Black History Month. Write your thoughts about each Black American Quote. This is a daily journal that you can use for reflection, even after Black History Month is over. I'm sharing this journal as a free download, and I invite you to Celebrate Black History Month and reflect with me.

Living Through Learning, one reflection at a time
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5 Habits for Financial Fitness

Financial Freedom

It's important to define what Financial Freedom means to you. The picture I have for my own financial freedom is not going to be the same as yours. Whatever your picture of Financial Freedom looks like, that dream is reached by the practice of Financial Fitness Habits.

Finances 101

Download the Free Financial Freedom Workbook at the bottom of this post.

It is impossible to meet the goal of financial freedom if we are not financially fit.

Signs of an unhealthy state of financial fitness can be:

  • We don't know what we spend our money on
  • We have too much debt
  • We spend money on the wrong things

While there is no magical solution for financial freedom, there are steps everyone can take to get finances under control. Once we have our finances under control, we can implement steps for financial freedom.

Learning finances through budgeting

First Step to Financial Fitness: Create a Household Budget

The first step to financial freedom is to track your income and expenses. We may automatically remember our “big” bills such as rent/mortgage and utilities. However, other household budget expenses are not as easy to memorize. Some regular expenses fluctuate with cost, and smaller expenses are less noticeable. I discuss how to make a budget here.
You can use any of these apps to keep track of your budget:

Budget Formula: 50/20/30 rule

learning finances through budgeting

The recommended formula is 50/30/20. 50% of our income goes to pay for the things we need to live, 30% of our income goes towards those things we want for our lifestyle. 20% of our income goes into savings.

Use the Financial Freedom workbook to help you assess where you are at now, then decide upon both short-term and long-term financial goals. The Financial Freedom workbook is the first step to establishing good financial habits.

Second Step for Financial Fitness: Saving Money

Ideally, you want to use 20% of your take-home pay to invest in savings goals. These savings can be used to set up an emergency fund. An emergency fund amount covers a period of six to nine months of your fixed expenses. Fixed expenses are your living expenses such as mortgage/car payment and medical insurance. More about an Emergency Fund Here.

Better Money Habits, Financial Freedom

Another important type of Savings is a Retirement Plan. Once you have your Emergency Fund set up, you can set up a Retirement Savings account. Once you establish a Savings and a Retirement account, you can research other types of investment accounts.

Use the Financial Freedom Investing Money Worksheet to help you assess your Savings.

Third Step for Financial Fitness: Investing Money

The remaining 30% of your total income is for wants. This is the amount assigned to a budget for travel, eating out, or home improvements. The budget for your wants is “disposable income”.

5 Habits of Financial Fitness Investing Money

Mindfully plan into your budget the amount of money you will spend on the things you want. Set short-term goals for your expenses and savings. Set long-term goals for bigger ticket items. Establish specific goals for money to be spent within specific time frames.

An example of goals are:

  • Vacation to see family: $3000 In June
  • Buy a new mattress next month: $1000
  • Save $1,000 a month for the next 5 years=$60,000

Fourth Step For Financial Fitness: Getting Out of Debt

Debt is an obstacle to Financial Freedom. The first step to getting out of debt is to take an inventory and itemize debts and amounts owed for each debt. What funds from your current budget are going to be used to pay off debt items? You may need to take a portion of your disposable income budget to make larger payments to get the debt paid off.

Debt Repayment, good money habits

Start by paying off the smallest debt first. It is much easier to pay off a credit card than a student loan payment. Consolidate debt where possible. Are there any monthly expenses you can reduce? Whatever amount you have saved from reducing monthly expenses can be paid toward your debt accounts.

Use the “Getting out of Debt” worksheet in your Financial Freedom guide to building your debt reduction plan.

Fifth Step for Financial Fitness: Protect Your Assets.

If you want to have the financial freedom you need to understand both your liabilities and assets. Any debt or money owed is a liability. We've already covered different types of liabilities when we addressed household expenses and debt. The next step is to understand your assets in terms of understanding your wealth. Anything that you own, is a part of your wealth.

Protect Your Assets, Better Money Habits

The Assets page of the Financial Freedom workbook shows that an asset can be the money you have in your checking account. An asset can be the computer you own, jewelry, or a vehicle. Once you have an inventory of assets, decide what you need to have to protect those assets. Homeowner's Insurance is one example of asset protection. Home insurance can cover destruction to your dwelling, or a cash value of possessions that are stolen. Once you know what your assets are, take the steps to keep those assets protected.

Stay Balanced

Financial Freedom doesn't happen overnight. We have to replace our current financial habits with financial fitness habits. We do this in incremental steps to make an impacting change for the long term. Practicing these five habits all at the same time is a balancing act. It's like learning how to juggle. You start with juggling two balls, then three, then four. Finally, with repetition and practice, you are successfully keeping five balls in the air at the same time! The important thing is to start juggling with the first two balls.

**Enjoy your Financial Freedom workbook to create your personal Financial Fitness habits, it is for Personal Use Only.

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Financial Fitness, Financial Freedom, Better Money Habits, Finances 101
Living Through Learning, One Good Financial Habit at a Time
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The Simple Way to Plan a Budget and Save Money

Why is Having a Household Budget Important?

We work hard to earn our income and it's important that we use that income wisely to get the biggest bang for our buck. A household budget is a vital foundation for creating a budget and saving money.

A household budget is a framework we use to:

  • Exactly how much money is coming in
  • Exactly where the money is being spent
  • Exactly how much money is left for savings

What happens if I don't have a Budget?

When I didn't track my budget, I overlooked online subscriptions that were not a noticeable amount. When I left a job position that was union, I ended up paying union dues every month for six months. Why? Since union fees were only thirty dollars, it wasn't a noticeable amount.

Consequences of not having a Budget

  • We spend more then we make
  • We spend more on things we don't need
  • We don't realize how much we spend
  • We lose control over our spending
  • We develope a habit of spending

When I didn't keep track of my budget, I would lose track of online memberships I signed up for, forgot I had, didn't use, and paid for anyway. Recently, I realized I spent fifty dollars a month, buying nail products to support a friend's business. I wasn't keeping track of my household budget, and here I am, three months later with more nail products that I will use in a year's time.

A budget tracks where your money is going

While it's easy to mentally keep track of the larger payments like rent and a car payment, it's much more challenging to keep track of smaller expenses like apps and games that cost less than five dollars a month.

Can you tell me if your water or heating costs have increased or decreased over the last three months? While we might remember what we paid for last month's water bill, I'm not going to remember what I paid two months ago.

A budget allows you to track your money, and identify patterns.

Simple Step Budgeting:

  • Record the source of the money you recieve. (such as income)
  • Write out your priority regular, necessary bills. (mortgage/rent, car payments, utilities)
  • Write out secondary, necessary bills (gas, prescriptions, netflix)

Record other, less fixed costs: Grocery bill estimates, pet food, and supplies, personal care supplies, and other things that you spend money on, regularly.

After subtracting the amount you spend, from the amount you receive, is called “Discretionary Income”.

Discretionary income is what you have to spend on purchases such as dining out or new clothes. Or if you are like me, new dog clothes. I spend more money on dog outfits than I do on clothes for myself!

Identify Your Spending Habits

We all have spending habits.

There's just no way in our fast-paced world that we can keep track of every spending purchase, in our head. We buy things online impulsively (Facebook ads), when we are tired (If I browse Amazon after 9 p.m. I always buy) and subscribe to online memberships and courses with the best intentions.

This doesn't take into account in-person purchases.

Even mindful grocery shopping is a challenge when stores are out of the item you planned to buy.

WRITE IT DOWN.

Let me say it again. Write It Down.

Writing things down, makes us remember.

Writing it down makes spending tangible. (Dang, I really DID spend $55.07 on Starbucks this month?)

Writing it down gives you recorded data to identify, and manipulate.

This allows you to use money as a tool to build with, versus money as a fluid substance that flows through our hands like water.

Adjusting your Spending Habits for Your Budget

  • Go through your recorded list of expenses and highlight monthly expenses
  • Go through your recorded list of expenses and highlight (in a different color) one time purchases.
  • Do this for three months, and after three months- a pattern will emerge.
  • Target the pattern, and start deciding what items you may want to reconsider.

Do this for both you and your partner, because each person's pattern will most likely be different. I tend to spend money on coffee, pet clothes, and used books. My husband spends less than I do, but he still overspends on groceries.

Both of us do practice getting good value for our money.

But getting good value for your money and spending money, are TWO DIFFERENT HABITS.

Target your spending habits, address these issues objectively, without negating or justifying.

How a Budget Allows You to Save

Before I started a budget and wrote down my expenses to track them, I wasn't even able to save one dollar.

“Why isn't there any money left, I didn't buy anything!” I would ask myself in complete exasperation.

Simple, if I don't know record what I have, I don't know what I have. Even our monthly income isn't fixed, because the number of days in a month, varies. There are paid holidays, and sometimes overtime.

And of course, I may have paid for something that I don't buy on a regular basis, or eaten out three times instead of twice, during the month.

A budget helps you save because you work your savings in as required, priority, expense.

  • Mindset: Savings is a priority expense, not an option.
  • Set aside money for savings as if it is a bill. Twenty Bucks is Twenty bucks, and lets face it, twenty bucks is nothing in todays economy.
  • Set your budget amount aside in a way that is separate from your normal spending account. We do this and if the account falls below $100, we are charged so that's an extra incentive not to spend.
  • Set it aside in a cash jar. I do this for myself personally, because I use a card to pay for everything. I hate carrying cash because it can be lost. So I rarely touch the “Money jar”. Because this is physical and I can see the cash, it translates into “I'm proud of myself” emotion.
  • Hide it from yourself. I've also stashed a $20 dollar bill in unusal places. Then I forget about it.

You do you. It's not the amount. Starting off with saving five dollars a month, is still saving. It's not the how. Whether you use “mind tricks” like I do, or a savings account or whatever, use the method that works for you.

Track expenses, set aside a savings amount like it's a bill, then set the savings money aside.

Finally, recording and reviewing your budget allows you to stay on track for spending. It is a tool that allows you to account for any increasing mandatory expenses and track spending. A budget helps you to adapt to inflation, and adjust spending as needed.

Effective Audit Budgeting: Review your Budget

When I started my budget, I had to review it on the same day every week. I chose Sunday. I planned the time to audit my budget, for two hours every Sunday so I could make sure I was mentally prepared and objective.

You may find that once your write out your budget, hidden expenses or forgotten expenses show up. I found one online account that only charged every three months, which is why I lost track of it.

After a three-month period, I audit monthly and I continue to audit monthly. I still set a day aside to audit. Between the first and the third is when I audit after we pay our monthly priority bills. Choose the best time that works for you, it may be before the kids wake up after they go to school, or during your lunch hour. Whatever the time, it needs to be a time where you are not brain-fatigued or distracted. Once you get used to auditing it will probably only take fifteen minutes because your budget is routine, stable and you've been tracking.

After you audit your budget as a habit, start assessing it. Can you add five more dollars to pay into your savings? If you received birthday cash, can you add this to your savings for the month? When we have overtime or extra pay because there are 31 days in the month instead of 30 days, we stick that day's pay into savings.

Small increments that we don't spend but save, are barely noticeable, but add up for savings.

One final tip: Our current bank savings account doesn't have a good interest rate. Talk to your bank or even online banks or a credit union. Again, do what you're comfortable with. Talk to people who you notice are good with money. My husband is not comfortable with any institution besides our bank, but I have received good money advice from a friend who owns a successful small business.

Expect the Unexpected: Emergency Savings Plan

Unexpected expenditures are going to happen. You can cross your fingers and hope that you have the money when your tire goes flat, or you can prepare for it.

We went through a period where we had to spend our savings at the same time I lost three clients. We had to buy brand new tires for a vehicle, and our neighbor complained about our dog running her fence, so we had to put up a new fence of our own. (Prepare for the Karen's)

Then I lost three clients and this all happened within three weeks!

Even though it was a bummer to have to rebuild the savings we had, the point is, we had the savings for emergencies. That is the point of savings.

Okay yes, we want savings for retirement, etc, but when one is first starting out, on moderate-income, this is where we are at.

Being prepared for unforeseeable expenses equips you to deal with and respond to that situation with less stress. It's good for your stability and its good for your mental health.

While anticipating upcoming expenses can seem like a good idea, it's not. It can lead to anxiety and worry. Most things don't break down overnight, so you can keep a casual eye on replacing things like tires, and other big expenses like computers and appliances.

A better strategy is to have an Emergency Savings Fund. Only use this fund for unexpected emergency expenses. This is how you prepare for the unknown. Prepare with action and put money into your Emergency Savings Fund every time you receive income.

After you have an Emergency Savings Fund, you are going to need to use the money you worked hard to save. It can take a year or five years, but at some point your Emergency Savings Fund will be depleted.

How to recover when your Emergency Savings is depleted

  • Do a Budget Audit with the mindset of cutting back.
  • What expenses can you cut back on?
  • What expenses can you cancel?
  • What activities can you substitute with free activities?
  • Can you work overtime?
  • Can you pick up a side gig?
  • Can you switch to lower cost necessity items?

Set a goal for the minimum amount you want to save. The goal needs to be realistic because unrealistic goals are impossible and discouraging and we quit.

Our goal is $1000 as a baseline goal. We reviewed expenses to cut, and go without in the short term. (NO, I don't “have to have” Audible haha)

After auditing your budget, look at the expenses you can transform into savings.

Ideas for cutting expenses to set aside money for Savings

  • TV Subscriptions: If you have cable, change to Netflix. If you have Netflix, most libraries have free online movies and shows to watch. We have other TV subscription services, so we cut out Hulu.
  • Online memberships, for business or personal. I cancelled my Canva membership, and cut back to one dog chew prescription a month. Yes I use Canva for my business, but I can get by with free.
  • Gym Membership: We hadn't gone to the gym in 3 months. I decided once I am committed to walking my dog daily, which is FREE, going to the gym on a regular basis is wishful thinking.
  • Dining out/food to go: We live in a small town there's not much to do so we dine out weekly. We now dine out once a month, and buy food to go once a month. This still allows us luxury but saves money for our emergency fund.
  • Shopping: Do any of us need 90% of the things we buy from Amazon? Do I need $4.25 worth of sticky notes? Or a journal? Or a holiday themed shirt for the kids? Most things we buy, whether in person or online, we really don't need. Buying less and REDUCING-REUSING, then recycling saves us money and the planet.

The twenty dollars you spend for lunch at work? Take a bag lunch and put that twenty dollars into your Emergency Savings Fund.

Tax Refund? Take half of that and put it into your Emergency Expense Fund. We even turn our recyclable cans and bottles in and put that five or six bucks into our Emergency Fund.

Once you reach your savings goal amount for your Emergency Fund, don't stop building it. Even if you return to some old spending habits, keep a plan in place to increase your Emergency Fund consistently.

Continue to increase the goal amount for your Emergency Savings Fund.

Decide the amount for the Emergency Savings Fund “bill” to keep growing this fund.

Tips to Create and Follow a Grocery Budget

Sticking to a budget for groceries isn't as easy as it sounds. It requires a lot of time and energy to compare store sales through email and store apps. It requires meal planning, and it requires understanding any supply issues/shortages and seasonal fresh food and vegetables.

Groceries are probably the biggest expense after house/car payments and are definitely a necessary living expense. Here are some tips to help streamline budgeting groceries for busy moms.

  • Inventory what food you have
  • Plan Frugal Meals ; incorporating the food you have
  • Make your Grocery list: Priority items (like meat) and sub priority (like lunchables)
  • Make a Grocery Budget (do not include non-food items like soap)
  • Check out at least two grocery store flyers/apps/sites for sales
  • Evaluate your trip(s): if there are several items at each store, then plan your errands accordingly
  • Don't forget to check out discount stores and Farmer's Markets and Coops
  • Make your list in the way you will walk through the store if possible, this way you aren't going into an aisle that you don't plan to buy from.
  • Ignore displays: “End-Caps” are set up for high profit items and frequently aren't practical items.

Celebrate Every Small Financial Success

The great benefit of implementing these Budget and Savings Plan practices is you will actually be able to see and note your growth and successes.

Noting to myself that I didn't buy a coffee this week, is completely different than seeing the data recorded that put twenty-five dollars into my savings account.

It's the small things that make up the big things like it takes hundreds of bricks to make a building but we only notice the building, not the bricks.

When implementing and following a budgeting and savings plan, it's important to celebrate the “bricks”.

Budget a celebration, plan the celebration, so you don't overlook your successes.

Maybe at the end of each week, you buy a coffee, maybe you set aside a certain amount each month to go out to a movie. We may celebrate by dining at our favorite Mexican restaurant with the best Strawberry Margarita's or eating lunch out after a hike. Sometimes I might buy myself a stuffed unicorn.

Whatever your budget success, big, or small, celebrate each success, step by step.

The easy way to plan a budget and save money
Living through Learning, One Dollar at a time
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How We Can Boost Our Self Confidence as Moms

After my kids flew the nest, “Mom Guilt” remained.

My son is diagnosed with Bipolar w/Schizophrenic effect. (This was before the Autism diagnosis was redefined, and he would probably fall under this too now.)

I was always fighting the professionals, well-meaning adults, and church friends' advice on what was best for my son.

A counselor told me – had I not been the kind of mom I was, my son would probably be dead.

how to get more self confidence as a mom
My Son and I at Seattle's Rose City Comic-Con

I also helped raise a teenage stepson, he wasn't completing his high school assignments. He was in danger of not graduating. I was the one that stayed on his case, checked on his daily required work, and this was the only reason he graduated. My stepson did not like me, his mom did not like me, and my husband didn't really know how academics worked.

step moms and confidence, moms and confidence, Self confidence tips for moms
Being a Stepmom at Seattle's Rose City Comic-Con

These battles left me feeling incompetent and with a lack of confidence.

The first thing to understand about having a lack of self-confidence is to understand the root of the issue.

The Lack of Self Esteem is the root of the lack of self-confidence.

A tree does not flourish if its roots are unhealthy.

how to grow more confidence as a mom
Healthy Self Esteem Roots for Healthy Self Confidence

5 signs of low self esteem in women

  • Changing yourself to please others
  • Second guessing yourself
  • Self- Limiting beliefs
  • Feeling Inferior
  • Overthinking other people's comments

Find out if you are feeling incompetent as a mom; start by checking your self-esteem levels by reading what experts say.

Low confidence and mental health in women

Low Confidence and Mental Health

While there are situational experiences that cause low self-esteem, it is common for low confidence and mental health issues to co-exist. It is important to address the mental health issue first, then focus on improving confidence. I have found it is impossible to increase my confidence if I am not managing my mental health issues properly. I recommend doing a mental health check before practicing confidence building.

What is Self Confidence?

According to the Merriam-Websters dictionary, Self Confidence is simply

 confidence in oneself and in one's powers and abilities”

and Confidence is a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something.

What does this look like in real-time though?

how to gain more confidence as a mom

5 Signs of a Confident Woman

  • We set realistic expectations for our accomplishments.
  • We are self aware and accept both our strengths and flaws equally
  • We measure ourselves against ourselves, not others
  • We set healthy boundaries
  • We choose positivity over feelings

Growing in self-confidence as a mom means growing in self-confidence as a woman first.

You are a person, a woman before you are a mom.

As taking care of ourselves must come first in order to take care of children, building our self-confidence first, allows us to then build our confidence as a mom.

how to be confident for moms

Things Low Confident Moms Need to Know

So by using the lists above we:

Know What Not to Do: change “me” for others, 2nd guess myself, allow myself to feel inferior to others, and don't overthink what someone says, don't compare to others.

And we know What to Do:

Think positive, accept “me” (warts and all), have realistic (anti- wonder mom) expectations, and keep our boundaries (just say no).

But what does that look like, in real life?

Because you are juggling 10 things, words are words, intentions are intentions but you need something practical to apply?

That doesn't involve an entire journaling practice for the time I don't have? Please and thank you?

tips for self confidence as a mom

5 Practices to become a Confident Mom

  • Positive Thought Framing: YES: This is a challenge! VS: This is a problem.
  • Positive Thought Framing: YES: This is a path we can walk together VS This is a big hill we have to climb.

  • Acknowledge all the small things you did: We frequently do small things and forget that we do them and don't give ourself credit for the small things. YES: I fed the children/family/pets + I did a load of laundry + I gave the pets attention + I called/emailed + I didn't eat 5 cookies, I ate 2. These are accomplishments and they count!

  • Set reasonable expectations: With children at home, plan to get interrupted for every task you start. Then when the task doesn't get done that day, you still can give yourself credit for getting 25% of the task done. Don't expect the To-Do list to be complete To-Day.

  • Listen to Positive Peers or No Peers: I found that my mind-set changed when I began listening to online peers instead of my in person peers. My online peers are much more educated and experienced thus more supportive. Confident women value themselves enough to seek out positive, supportive peers.

  • Give YOURSELF positive feedback daily: Accept yourself as you accept others. There is not going to be positive feedback or positive results 100% of the time. You have to be the one to give yourself that feedback on a consistent basis. I find it helpful to be a “teacher self”, talking to my “student self” with offerings of encouragement and positive feedback.
how to become more self confident as a mom

Mom's Self-Confidence effects their children's self confidence

The number one motivator for increasing your own self confidence?

Experts discovered that a mom's level of self-confidence gets passed on to her children.

Modeling is always more effective for loving our children, so children will inherit for themselves the same level of self-worth.

It is vital for us as mothers to recognize our own self-esteem issues, and use confidence-building habits so our children can simply catch mom's self-confidence vibe.

moms self esteem gets passed on to children
Living through Learning with Self Confidence
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Tips to Get Your Baby and Toddler on the Same Nap Schedule

Working at home or needing to get stuff done is a challenge with a one-year-old, a baby, and a toddler on different nap schedules. As a mom, daycare teacher, and home daycare owner, I know that nap time is invaluable and a needed mental and physical break in the day.

Experts stipulate that most babies settle down into 2 daytime naps, mid-morning and afternoon.

how to get my kids to nap at the same time

Tips to get your baby and toddler on the same nap schedule

There is no secret formula, but here is a list of things to put into place to build a consistent unified nap time.

how to get siblings to nap at the same time
  • Active Play: Burn off energy
  • Keep a flexible Schedule
  • Find the Nap Window
  • Establish a Routine
  • Repeat the Routine
  • Incorporate Quiet Time

Practice learning activities that help them expend their energy

Young toddlers learn best when a physical activity acts as a connection to the brain, for their brain development. Physical learning helps the brain to grow.

The best choice for kids to expend their energy is outdoors. Toddlers can walk, help push the stroller or run to the next driveway. For longer walks, bring a wagon or stroller for both kids, but make sure you're toddler walks before getting a ride. A walk to the end of the block and back stimulates both the baby and toddler and burns off energy. Walking can also be a learning activity, talk about the colors of houses or cars, or the birds singing, or anything else that can be observed.

For inclement weather, physical activity has to happen in the house. Play hide and seek, or have your toddler race down a hallway and back while you are counting or singing the ABCs. Another enrichment activity is to practice positional activities by following directions: run to the door, run to the front of the table, run to the side of the chair. Children are learning where things are located at this age, and incorporating positional locations with live interaction is the easiest way for them to learn this concept.

While the baby may not be walking or literally understanding the learning games you are playing with your toddler, the baby will be stimulated and learning. Both children will be expending energy through these activities.

Keep a schedule of what happens when

When your baby turns a year old, keep a log of the morning schedule you already have. Log the eating activities as a benchmark, and their usual nap times. The schedule doesn't have to be formal, it can be logged as phone notes. The times don't have to be exact, it's the general outline that is the most important. Log this over a 3 day period as a schedule often varies by time with young children.

The informal log might look like this:

  • 7- Toddler wakes up
  • 730- Toddler breakfast
  • Baby wakes up
  • 815-Baby eats
  • 9-10: snacks for both
  • 10- baby nap
  • 11:- baby wakes
  • 11:15 baby eats
  • 12: toddler eats
  • 1230: baby nap
  • 2-toddler nap
  • 1:30 baby wakes up
  • 2:30 toddler wakes up
implement a routine to get kids to nap at the same time

Once you have a routine noted over a three-day course, you will see a pattern. Every family has a natural routine, even if the times vary.

For example, some toddlers stay up until 9 p.m. so they will probably sleep in later than a baby who goes to sleep at 8 p.m. or vice versa. Some toddlers go to sleep at 8 p.m. and some toddlers go to sleep at 10 p.m. so they will naturally wake up earlier or later. Many baby and toddler schedules vary with parents' work hours, parent activities, and mealtimes.

Finding the “Nap Window”

The nap window is the time that both your baby and toddler are asleep. That nap window could be 20 minutes long and both kids are asleep at the same time. If there are not any minutes both children are asleep at the same time, it is likely that a child is waking up when another just falls asleep. This close boundary would be the nap window. What you want to do is expand that window of time.

In the Schedule example above, the Nap Window would be between 1 p.m. and 2:45 p.m.

Expanding the “Nap Window” to sync baby and toddler nap times

Taking into account the natural schedule as a baseline, consider what the perfect schedule would be for you and your children. This will be your flexible goal.

Define the time between after breakfast and snack as the first benchmark block. What are you all doing during this time?

Define the time between snack and lunch as your second benchmark block. The second block is the block you are focusing on. We know that experts agree naptimes should happen between mid-morning and afternoon, but most toddler naps happen after lunchtime.

If the baby is napping his/her mid-morning nap and you can go outside, take the baby to nap in a stroller while you do an outdoor activity with the toddler. If inside, put the baby down for a nap while you play the activities with the toddler inside.

If your baby has difficulty napping with your toddler making noise, that is a separate component and you can get suggestions for that here, to help the baby and toddler nap at the same time.

Adjust the toddler's schedule in 15-minute increments, to match the baby's afternoon naptime. If the baby falls asleep earlier than the toddler in the afternoons, then extend the toddler's playtime.

The most important thing is to make small incremental changes in the morning before nap time, that will change the following activity and naptime to your desired time.

Stay consistent with routine (once you've found the nap window)

Routine allows children to feel secure because they know what to expect.

routine is important for baby and toddler to be on the same nap schedule

While babies usually need a morning nap, toddlers don't.

Toddlers can resist going to sleep when the baby is asleep in the afternoons because they like having mom to themselves. So baby's naptime is a great opportunity to spend one on one time with your toddlers

Incorporate Quiet time for a Toddler during Baby's morning naptime

An older child may not need a morning nap when a younger child still needs a morning nap. This is where you incorporate “Quiet time”. The older child has a “quiet time” while the younger child naps. This way, the older child isn't waking up the younger with “loud play”.

children can read quietly while other children nap

It's easier to set up an expectation of children both napping at the same time when naptime is transitioned to quiet time. The younger child may not want to take a nap if he/she knows the older child is playing.

You can read books with your toddler as a downtime activity, and independent quiet free-play can be incorporated as well.

Do the same routine before nap time every day

Make the event the same before naptime as a cue for the baby and toddler:

I.E. Lunch then nap.

5 minutes or so, when they are almost done eating their food, remind them of Naptime.

Incorporate one on one baby time reading books, or with quiet play, for baby's “Quiet Time”.

Either way, you are going to repeat the same activity -the same way- every day.

Babies understand a lot more than they can verbalize, so use the same words and speak clearly to both children, “Naptime is after lunch”, “when we finish lunch we wash our hands then lay down for naptime”.

Even if there is no immediate success, when we are pursuing a synched naptime – we repeat the same process.

how to get kids to nap at the same time

Don't expect naps to synchronize immediately. A realistic expectation would be that your baby and toddler nap at the same time once a week if the baby is under a year old. If the baby is a year to 18 months old, then maybe the naps will sync up to 3 times a week.

Summary

There are so many variables that affect naps at this age. What you are doing is long-term napping on the same schedule for both siblings. It's important to stay flexible as a parent with young children's schedules.

It's also important for you to be flexible with yourself. The goal is to be consistent, but to expect a consistent and predictable schedule with 2 young children is unrealistic. Unrealistic for ourselves as moms, and unrealistic for our kids. The important thing is to have the expectation of quiet time, the expectation of the baby and toddler sleeping at the same time, be consistent, follow a routine, and a synched naptime will occur eventually. A synched naptime with blips, but overall a synched naptime.

Learning through Living, One Nap at a Time
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Valentines Day Activities for kids

how to draw a Valentine Kitten
Young learners can draw this cute and easy Kitty in a Cup for Valentine's Day

Here are some fun and full-of-learning preschool Valentine's Day Activities:

  • Draw a Cute Kitten Valentines Day Card
  • Explore emotions with My Many Colored Days
  • Practice Math with Boy+Bot
  • Read Friendship books with 6 free printable activities
  • Valentine's Day Coloring Bookmarks
  • Valentines Day Coloring Pages
How to draw a Kitty Valentine
Kitty in a Cup Valentine

Watch this video to draw this for a “Happy Meowintines Day” cartoon cat Valentine's Day Card.

I came up with this drawing that involves a reasonable level of fine motor skills. Frequently, preschoolers can draw a wiggly line easier than a straight line. This practice of wiggly line fur helps with fine motor skills. The cup may be a challenge but because the cup lines are DOWN and across, these are easier for children to draw while building fine motor manipulation.

Free Printable Preschool Valentines Day Activities, I Spy, Tracing, math
Free Preschool Valentines Printables

Practice Valentine's Day activities with I Spy, Tracing, and math with the Robot Love free printable pack

This free printable preschool pack includes a math game, tracing, cutting, I Spy and is perfect for a Valentine's Day theme.

Valentine's Day activity with Skittles, SEL, Exploring emotions, preschool valentines day activity
Use Valentine's Day as an opportunity to explore emotions!

Explore emotions with this skittles activity.

free preschool printables valentines day
6 free printable preschool activities to download for Valentines Day

6 Friendship books and free printable activities

I really packed a lot of friendship activities into the post above! I was really new at blogging and making printables constantly for my home preschool! You can download any or all of these as Valentine's Day activities for preschoolers. Or you can do what I did and spread each of these activities out for the whole month.

Activities are going to vary based on children's skill levels and attention spans. I recommend using each of the activities, in “pieces. That means, in small activity time blocks, throughout a month.

Happy Valentines Day free printables and activities for preschoolers
Living through Learning, one Valentines Day at a time
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Easy Snowman Winter Painting for Preschoolers

Potato Stamp Snowmen

Make a snowman picture using potato stamps

The secret ingredient to this snowman art painting?

Potato stamps!

Preschoolers used mixed materials to “paint' with potato stamps.

Preschoolers benefit from this method of “process art”, developing skills while creating.

The main benefits of this preschool winter art activity are:

Developing fine/gross motor skills (using the potatoes)

Practicing eye/hand coordination

This is a great preschool winter art project that allows children to explore with their senses. The potatoes and paint provide great texture.

Plenty of times I have been stuck with the opportunity to find a “fill-in activity” for kids due to inclement weather.

This winter snowman enrichment activity only requires potatoes, paint, glue, wiggle eyes, a pompom, and a coloring tool.

In the video below I show how to do this winter snowman activity, and of course, I forgot to draw on the snowman's nose!

Just use a crayon or paint stick to draw a carrot nose after the paint has dried.

If you prefer to read a post about how preschoolers can create this winter snowman art, read this

Preschool Winter Snowman Art Post step by step

Living through Learning, one practical art activity at a time
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Time Management Strategy, make more out of the time you don’t have

You can always make more money, but you can't make more time. A time management strategy is essential for every person in today's busy and multi-tasking world. Whether you are a work-at-home mom balancing all of each family member's needs or an empty nester like me, time management is essential.

You can't make more time, but you CAN make more out of the time you have.

The key is to implement a dynamic, flexible time strategy to base your schedule off of.

This Time Pyramid graphic organizer is simple, yet building this method of scheduling will improve your success in getting things done during those pockets of time you don't necessarily account for.

The free time management printable direct download link is at the END of the post.

The first step to managing time?

Write down every single stitch of time for 3 weekdays in a row. It is impossible to know how to schedule your time until you know where your time is going.

The second step to managing time?

Observe your time logs after 3 days of recording. Where is your time going? I found that it was the small increments of time that escaped my notice. Usually those 5 or 15 minutes through different parts of the day. I noticed that was when I was distracted by a non-priority activity, like checking email. I also discovered that I hadn't accounted for “interrupted time” in my daily schedule.

The third step to managing time?

Watch the video and download the free graphic time management printable graphic organizer. As explained in the video, use the graphic template to organize your monthly, weekly, and daily schedule. As you learn to switch out the “Time Pyramid Blocks” you will find yourself getting more done with the time you have.

This video discusses my application of time management for my passive/active online income business model, including blogging. However, I also add housework to my schedule haha. Apply the PRINCIPLES, not the SUBJECT AREAS of the time management strategy policy.

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Living through learning, one time block at a time
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Winter activities pack for preschoolers

Free printable January Activities Calendar

This free printable winter-themed pack for preschool/kindergarten/other early learners, can be used in a variety of ways. Combine the activities or use each activity separately from each other.

Practical activities to do with kids at home, especially helpful in inclement weather. This free printable activities calendar gives ideas for kids to do when they are bored. Enrichment activities can also be fun. Fill in time with watching a show about animal migration, hibernation or draw an artic fox.

free preschool printable craft free printable kids winter craft
free printable no Prep Paper Craft Activity

Children can cut out, glue and hang up this fun winter birds free printable activity. Discuss what birds do in the winter snow. Do the birds fly away or do they stay? Where do birds get their food when there's snow everywhere? Combine this printable craft activity with an activity on the free printable calendar, like making a bird feeder.

free preschool printable preschool kids winter scavenger hunt
free printable Preschool Scavenger Hunt

Take this printable scavenger hunt out with young learners during a neighborhood walk. If it doesn't snow where you live, you can use this with winter books as an I spy game when locating items in the book. Scavenger hunts help memory and build categorization thinking skills in the young brain.

free printable winter alphabet scavenger hunt for kids
free printable Preschool and Kindergarten ABC Scavenger Hunt

Use this free scavenger hunt inside or outside or both! This free preschool or kindergarten activity is a game while learning letter sounds and practicing literacy skills.

free printable winter word search for kids
free printable Word Search Worksheet

Build literacy skills with this word search and combine this printable word search with drawing activities. Have children pick five items on the list to draw.

kids winter activity preschool winter game free printable preschool printable
free printable winter maze

This free printable maze for preschoolers and other early learners will help practice those fine motor skills as well as problem-solving skills. Combine this activity with talking about bear hibernation, and encourage kids to build their own den using couch cushions!

preschool activity winter maze kids activity pack free printable
free printable Preschool maze activity

Preschoolers and kindergartners can work on their problem-solving and fine motor skills with this free printable maze. Combine this activity with the free printable bird house craft.

preschool math game kindergarten math game preschool roll and color
Free printable Preschool and Kindergarten Math game

A fun way to learn math. This free printable Roll and Color Math game is fun for all ages. I have played this game with preschoolers through 2nd graders. This game helps learn numeric value visually, as well as teaching subitizing. Subitizing is when you can look at something and know the amount without actually counting it.

FREE PRINTABLE PACK LINK IS BELOW THE VIDEO
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How a wall art calendar can relieve stress

Scandinavian Wall Art Calendar

2022 Monthly Wall art calendars. 

I've always had an odd decor because I hang up different things that I like.

I always thought I was odd, turns out there's actual data that shows art of any kind contributes to a sense of well-being.

Studies show that there are several reasons I do this.

  • Viewing art, any kind of art makes us feel better.
  • Viewing Art relieves stress.
  • Viewing Art, makes our brain grow. Our brain works to recognize patterns etc, and this translates into positive feelings.
  • Viewing art triggers the same chemical as the “love” chemical. Basically a feeling of pleasure.
Monthly Wall Art Calendar

Print out some wall art for your mental health! 

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The easiest way to boost your mental health? Look at Art

2022 Monthly Wall Calendars

I've always had an odd decor because I hang up different things that I like. There is no theme. My home 

Decor ranges from nature theme to comic artwork.

Studies show that there are several reasons I do this.

  • Viewing art, any kind of art makes us feel better.
  • Viewing Art relieves stress.
  • Viewing Art, makes our brain grow. Our brain works to recognize patterns etc, and this translates into positive feelings.
  • Viewing art triggers the same chemical as the “love” chemical. Basically a feeling of pleasure.

Print and hang a wall art calendar to improve your mental health!

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5 Ideas for Budget-friendly Holiday Gifts

Budget-Friendly Gift Ideas

These budget planners are very effective, I use them. Even when I fall short of my goal, I still save money.

It also helps me separate my challenge money, from my regular budget, so I'm aware of ONLY spending out of my budget saver money.

When I have one row completed, I can spend out of that one row.

I save more money with this method. Because when I use my card, or pay online, spending seems less real. Not seeing/touching money makes it less “Real”.

TIPS

Before I buy, I inventory.

What can I make? What can I pass over/down as an heirloom?

  • Photograph Albums with Photographs (everyone's photos stay on their phone)
  • Recipes: I was given a recipe box full of 3×5 cards with recipes, handwritten by different family members. As a new mom, I didn't think much of it, 28 years later it is a treasured possession.
  • Just make it: For people who have everything, especially retired folks? There are so many quick gifts to make on Pinterest. DO NOT spend a bunch of $ on supplies, use thrift stores and the $ tree. Make several of the same items in bulk for several people, this saves money and time.
  • Here is a quick cheap gnome craft I made
  • Finally, everyone loves food. I give out apple butter and blackberry jam every year and everyone is thrilled. Freezer jam is inexpensive to make, it's easy to make- with or without kids, and it ALWAYS tastes better than store-bought.

10$ Budget Jar, especially great for those on a tight budget but want to create a savings habit.

$10 Savings Tracker

This method has worked so well that I am creating a Resolutions savings plan, for every month, for the New Year.

Living through Learning, 1$ at a time
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What is Thanksgiving? Practicing Thankfulness

Thanksgiving can be tricky to teach to children, especially young learners. Many Native Americans observe the day of Thanksgiving as a day of grief. I always taught Thanksgiving as an occasion to practice being Thankful.

Yes, we should be Thankful ALL Year. But Thanksgiving really gives an opportunity to shine the light and be grateful.

Introduce and Grow Thankfulness:

  • Use the prompts above to discuss and talk about the little things one can be thankful for.
  • Make a Thanksgiving Tree
  • Have your child collect 5 of their favorite toys. Talk about the toys & why they like the toys and are thankful for the toys.
  • Play this video as an introduction to Thankful Activities

In this November Thankfulness Pack, print out the activities to easily assist with helping kids interact with the idea of thankfulness and gratitude.

Check it out here

This pack contains:

-Calendar shown above

-Thankfulness Tree Paper Craft

-ABC Thankful Scavenger Hunt

-November themed activities: Word Search, 2 Mazes, For younger children: Thanksgiving Dinner Picture Scavenger Hunt,

Kids of all ages can play the Roll and Color game for an indoor activity on Thanksgiving day or during the school break.

Keep the Thankfulness Practice Going through Christmas! We can continue the “One Thankfulness a Day” habit even once Thanksgiving is over. Discuss what you are thankful for from today, during the bedtime routine. Not only does this habit grow gratefulness, but it also leads to a lifelong thought-building skill of positivity before going to sleep.

CHRISTMAS? Have kids write Santa and Ask for something for someone else.

Each of my Dear Santa Letters incorporates this idea.

Living Through Learning, One Gratitude at a time
Color the Turkeys, gobble gobble. Thanksgiving Coloring Pages

Color the Turkeys, gobble gobble. Thanksgiving Coloring Pages

Keep kids busy, just print and color

The digital download means you can print out and pass out multiple times.

Eight unique coloring sheets as shown for kids of all ages.

Use to keep kids busy during the Thanksgiving break or the Thanksgiving meal.

GET THIS PACK HERE

GET THE TURKEY COLORING PACK HERE

Thanksgiving Coloring pages for kids

Living through Learning, one gobble at a time.

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Preschool Process Art Butterfly

Preschool Potato Print Process Art

Very simple, little prep and supplies art craft!

Stamp a butterfly onto the free printable flower download page.

This download includes step by step instructions with photos.

You will need potatoes, paint and paintbrushes.

Cut off a small piece of the end of potato for the head. (circle shape)

Cut a half piece for the top wings. (lengthwise)

Cut a quarter piece for the lower wings. (lengthwise)

Stamp Head

Stamp upper and lower wings

Paint in flower, add eyes and antennae..

Living through Learning, one butterfly at a time.

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Teaching Cinco de Mayo to kids

The free printable book to color and trace is culturally sensitive.

  1. The general rule of thumb is: If you need to ask if it's offensive, it is.

There are many online sites that offer free printable coloring pages, of kids dressed up as “mexicans” for lack of a better term.

While this may seem harmless, some who are part of this culture can be offended by it.

Even more importantly, this objectification of a culture can lead to later horrible objectification. Things like, “the Mexican Meme” and “The Mexican Costume” for Halloween that can be practiced by adults.

2. Have someone who is part of the culture, teach about it. Not all Latino's are part of this culture, but you can contact a local organization who holds Cinco De Mayo celebrations. If there is no one to teach about this holiday, then review your instruction with that person. ONLY ask a parent if you are sure they are part of the culture, or celebrate the culture. Ethnicity does NOT equal culture.

3. Celebrate by learning! My free printable includes history/Spanish-English words/music and dancing information. We can celebrate, learn and respect and STILL have fun.

The free download book to trace and color has 5 pages.

cinco de mayo free printable
Living through Learning, one culture at a time.
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Pizza Cat Kids Card to Make

Print out Card page, shown below.

kids card to make pizza cat

Print out Speech Bubbles Saying Page Shown Below

Cut out the rectangle and fold card. shown below.

Cut out the Saying and glue to front of card. shown below.

Color and sign and done! cccuuutttteee pizza cat

handmade card for kids
Living through learning one card at a timie
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Preschool Emotions-Sometimes I feel like a mouse

Use these to help identify emotions

I created these for a small group, no prep, and sharing here.

I had some children in a small group that struggled to name emotions. Of course many preschoolers in general have challenges handling BIG emotions. Anyhow, I used the book “Sometimes I feel like a mouse” as an interactive reading time. I passed out a card randomly to each child. Then as I read the book, the child with that “feeling animal” holds up the card.

I found this helpful so kids can name a feeling in a tangible way. I also used the animals as reference points in daily activities. Not telling, but asking. “Oh do you feel excited like a squirrel today”? This can be used for homeschooling a child as well, its only limited to your imagination.

I printed these on cardstock, laminated then cut for durability.

Living Through Learning

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Preschool Process Art Project-Snowman

Easy and fun for kids, here's a blow by blow using photos. NO prep other then laying out supplies and cutting a potato.

preschool process craft
SUPPLIES: potato, paint stick, white paint, hat paint, paintbrush, glue, Qtip, poms.
preschool process art
Glitter glue and wiggly eyes OPTIONAL
. Cut a potato in half, cut one half end off for the hat. Set aside with paint for hat, and paint container.
preschool process art

dip the half potato and stamp onto paper

preschool process art project
Potato stamps, let dry for a few minutes as necessary.

Let dry as needed, the Qtip snow is next.

After snow, glue poms to hats. Draw carrot nose with paint stick and glue on eyes.

Living through Learning, one potato, two potato.

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5 Snowflakes in a truck – preschool math practice free printable

No Prep. Print out, students can cut out numbered squares.

Easy Number recognition. Make sure students say the numbers out loud as they are gluing onto truck.

Both colored and black and white versions in pack.

Living through learning, one truck at a time.

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Virtual Craft Ornament using basic supplies

What's hard about teaching crafts virtually? Supplies.

I don't know what supplies the students have at home. The other thing is, the videos are accessible to both Elementary and Jr. High students. The age range of skill level is 9 yo – 14 yo.

Versatility. The crafted object has to have a range of creative applications.

Hence, the String and Paper 3d Ornament. Ta Da!

Supplies below:

Scissors, paper, a lid, embroidery thread, pencil.

Note: Any kind of string can be used, just make sure if its thin like embroidery thread, at least 2 identical strands are used together. LID Size needs to be a medium sized lid, otherwise the Ornament template will be too small with no room for holes without ripping.

Fold paper in half. Use the lid as a template by tracing around lid. Cut out both circles, and keep the circles together.

Punch holes about an inch apart with your pencil, all the way around both circles. Keep circles together.

Identify what will be the top hole of your ornament. Cut about 4″ piece of doubled over string. Push through the SMOOTH side of the top hole. Make a loop and knot on the end of the loop. You should have a way for your ornament to hang now.

Cut a 2″ piece of string, and string through the next hole. Gently Knot at the edge of the Circles. Make sure the knot isn't too tight, if it is it will bend the circle in.

Continue to string through holes and tie knots. until you have one hole remaining.

Crumple up the extra paper that was left from cutting out the circles. Tear into biggish pieces, and crumple pieces into balls. Stuff each ball gently into the Circles. Use the pencil to help rearrange the paper balls where you want them.

The Circles should now be a little puffy, and finish by putting the string through the last hole and knotting at the top.

Variations:

Paper: Construction and Scrapbook Paper.

Design: Cut out circles and decorate before you tie together. Glitter glue, glue poms or bead, draw or color.

Markers, drawing, and I cut out a picture from a coloring page and glue it on my ornament then inked in the outside.

Living through Learning, One ornament at a time.
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5 Gingerbread in a Truck Preschool Math Practice Page

No Prep: Print out both pages, cut numbers. Kids cut and glue.

I made this for toddlers, to help with numeral recognition and counting practice. Also builds Common Core pre skills, GROUPS OF 5.

The 27 month old and I did this together, this activity also helps with following directions and specific steps for critical thinking/method. Rub stick glue on #1, place and say #1 onto spot. Rub stick glue on #2, place and say 2, and so forth. Count all five at the end.

Child can color truck before gluing or after gluing.

This pack also has 5 snowmen in a truck.

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5 Leaves in a Truck- Preschool Math Practice page

I created these preschool Math Pages for a 2yr old that I'm working with one on one. We are practicing numbers, counting, subitizing. Unofficially though, this looks so dang cute on a fridge, ha ha!

Cut and Paste Leaves onto a truck for counting practice and number recognition. Children can color the Truck photo and leaves, or use the colored leaves.

5 Leaves in a Truck Practice Pages Skill Building Areas:

  • Cutting practice for square leaf cutouts
  • Coloring uses fine motor skills
  • Squeezing liquid glue uses hand strength
  • Applying Stick glue uses fine motor skills
  • Color, Cut, Paste builds sequencing

5 Leaves in a Truck Preschool Practice Pages in Color and Black and White

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Pumpkin Cat Process Artrific-easy Halloween

Pumpkin Cat Process Artrific

This was a grand time in my preschool class for making original halloween art, the preschoolers from age 2 1/2 to 6 years old enjoyed it. It took 2 sessions because the paint had to dry, perfect activity times with a break in between.

Google eyes makes it purrffecct but if you are out of wiggle eyes substitute poms, rolled up masking tape pieces, beads, anything for a fun 3d halloween effect! There's a download for directions at the end of the post.

Pumpkin Cat Process Artrific

Directions :

Pumpkin Cat Process Artrific

HOW TO MAKE PUMPKIN POTATO STAMPS:

DOWNLOAD ACTIVITY DIRECTIONS PAGE SHOWN ABOVE
Living Through Learning, one pumpkin at a time.
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5 Pumpkins Preschool Mathize Me, no prep

Count Pumpkins in a Truck, and Color a Pumpkin, 2 Free Activities to build those math skills.
Preschool Math Activity
Preschool math activity

I own and use these 2 books with these activities. (no afflilation)

I checked out many 5 little pumpkins books and this is my favorite, the hard cover is actually soft with soft edges so it's durable. It's not board, its puffy board some type of plastic I think-VERY EASY TO CLEAN.

Pete the cat is my go-to, I'm still completing my Pete the Cat collection.


Instructions:

Print out and Cut pumpkin squares.

Hand out numbers 1-5 to students.

Paste squares on truck.

Cut and Paste:

Black and White, Color sets to mix and match.


Roll and Color a Pumpkin Game.

Print out pages, 1 per student or 1 per small group.

Students roll one die and color in matching section.

If one number is left, can allow extra rolls per turn per time constraints.

Roll and Color a Pumpkin


Both activities build counting, number recognition and subitizing skills.

preschool math activity
Living Through Learning, One Pumpkin at a Time

SSSH, inspired by these lawn deco I bought haha

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An apple activity a day keeps brain rot away,with free printables

Pack an incredible amount of science with into each day with one activity.

Pair the activity with a worksheet from the free printable, as desired.

Decorate some blocks with apple pictures, apply with Modge-Podge
STACK : Apples . STACK Blocks. Try to Stack Ten.

Ten Apples Up on Top Book Video

https://youtu.be/poNUrbo8h8A

Do apples Float?

Identify seeds, peel, core.

Montessori- Real life skills, cutting apples

Roll and Color an Apple Game in the printable pack

Pack with instructions, activities, worksheets.
Living through Learning, one apple at a time
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I need 2 October Activities right now- no prep

I've used apple, pumpkin, and shapes skittles experiments for 18mos – 8 years old. I keep Skittles on hand for a last minute go-to.

https://www.playdoughtoplato.com/magic-pumpkin-science/

Variate on the pumpkin theme by making Squash monsters.

https://www.notjustahousewife.net/squash-monsters/

Living through Learning, One activity at time.
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Idioms

This is an easy supplemental language activity that parents can teach at home to their child. It also can be used in a classroom, it's versatile.

I know this because I had an 8 year old student- entering 3rd grade from Feb-October 2020. I made this as a learning supplement because even with some distance learning, he missed out on a lot of skill building.

My Favorite Books about Idioms:

Check your library first, but these are available through Amazon.
  • You are what you Eat, Butterflies in my Stomach, Reach for the Stars by Serge Bloch
  • Pigsty by Mark Teague
  • Why the Banana Split by Rick Walton
  • There's a Frog in My Throat by Pat Street and Loreen Leedy

The above download is the parent instruction sheet, and the download below is the packet.

Living through learning, Day in and Day out
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Kids Money Management unit- free printable pack

So I hired the 3rd grader to mow my lawn for 20$. He asked my husband to stop at the convenience store on the way home, where he bought 17$ worth of candy! I did came up with this curriculum and I did the same with my kids, informally, back in the day. For this unit, I used an article on Forbes.com as a guideline, referenced in the printable pack. School teaches the identification and technicalities of money, it doesn't teach the mechanics of using money as a tool.

There's a vocabulary list to review with your student/kid, and here is a worksheet for her to practice.

Vocabulary: Why didn't I include bank in the vocabulary words? Because the traditional brick and mortar bank that we know, is gradually going the way of the dinosaurs. The bank with the highest Savings account return, is CitiBank, an online only bank.

Next is a spending plan questionnaire, he can write his answers:

Then, there is a worksheet to print off and subtract each category, to use whenever she receives money, before spending.

You can set up a kid account at the bank like my friend does for the 8 yo, or you can use real money jars. Or if you don't want to use that, I made these for use as virtual money jars. There's a few versions of the money jar pages in the pack.

Living through Learning, One Dollar at a Time
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Roll and Color a Duck, preschool math practice page-no prep

Direct Download at end of post.

Roll and color a duck preschool math game practice page-no prep
Roll and color a duck preschool math game practice page-no prep
  1. I invented this game to help preschoolers with common core in Kindergarten.
  2. Common core uses a ten frame and also these dice number blocks, so if they have the dots memorized at a glance, they won't have to count them all the time as K students. This gives them one step ahead of the game when they enter K.
  3. Even without common core, it's an interactive game that helps with counting and recognition of objects without counting.
  4. I like to use a big foam dice from the dollar tree, as it can't break anything no matter how hard it's thrown.
  5. If the student has the same # he can pass. I usually have them pass if the number is colored at the beginning, but towards the end for time saving, I increase the turns. Say if there's one number left and most of the group has only one section to color-I up the turns to 3x a piece.
Before and After coloring in.

I have lots of Roll and Color games, you can search for the other themes in the blog search bar.

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Tracing Lines worksheets You wish you had

Free Printables 16 Line Tracing Pages
Free Printables 16 Line Tracing Pages

Created in a hurry for a 20 month old! Examples shown below with *bad* photos, (paper color is photo editor)

themes (not shown):

  • houses
  • fruit
  • farm animals
  • food
  • colored hearts
  • shoes
  • containers(drinks)
  • elephants
  • butterflies
  • birds

Sharing with other home or school educators as a no prep but not your average worksheet fun.

Free Printables 16 Line Tracing Pages
Free Printables 16 Line Tracing Pages
Free Printables 16 Line Tracing Pages

Free Printables 16 Line Tracing Pages

Living through Learning, one line at a time

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Volcano Project for kids, free printable pack

Volcano Project for kids
Volcano Project for kids

Learning goals:

  1. Volcano's are made of layers.
  2. Difference between Magma and Lava.
  3. First building block to learning about what rocks are made of.

How to teach with printables:

  1. Beginning Learners = Color the Labeled Volcano page
  2. Early Learners= Code and Color the Volcano page
  3. Elementary= Label and Color the Volcano+Code and Color the Volcano pages

Code and Color the Volcano

Volcano project for kids free printable pack
Volcano project for kids Book

Recommended Books:

  1. Use “Into the Volcano” as primary source to introduce volcanoes. Share and read certain sections, we read through the photo descriptions.
  2. Emphasize StratoVolcano section in the book.
Volcano Project for Kids free printable pack
Volcano Project for Kids free printable pack Book
  1. A Trip to the Top of the Volcano can be used to supplement for a different page activity, or left out as free reading.

Color the Labelled Volcano

Volcano Project for Kids
Volcano Project for Kids free printable pack

Color and Label the Volcano

Volcano project for kids free printable pack