Edible Jello Slime

Welcome to our Squishy Sunday Series!

Feeling a little bored today, want to have a little fun with the kiddos? How about creating a batch of Edible Jello Slime? This slime is only 2 ingredients + water, inexpensive to make, and turns out to be a pretty awesome texture.

 

Edible Jello Slime

Jello. Such a staple of my youth. It can be used as hair dye, flavoring in cookies and cakes, a tasty science experiment on states of matter, an amazing multicolor tasty treat, and (in later years) an excellent vessel for hard liquor. But with today’s kids preferring making slime over baking with mom, we have had to find new ways to include this fun product in our children’s memories. Don’t get me wrong, we still make jello cookies at least once a month, but this slime happens at least as often!

When looking for a new slime recipe, I know that I usually try to find one with ingredients I have on hand. When dealing with stir-crazy children, I’m usually looking for instant gratification. This slime, unfortunately, may require a trip to your local grocer (or you could just order it here on Amazon, and be ready to try it out in two days!). It is, however, totally worth it. The key ingredient in this slime is Psyllium. This is a plant product generally used as a fiber supplement. The brand name Metamucil is most commonly recognized, but for our slime, I actually prefer the off brands. Check your favorite store and read the label of their store brand fiber supplement. As long as the main ingredient is Psyllium, you are good to go!

Some awesome things about this particular slime:

  1. It can be made without the Jello, making it a great dye-free, all natural recipe!
  2. It is edible but does not taste particularly delicious. It is therefore safe for little ones who are prone to taste testing.
  3. It is super easy, and anyone old enough to responsibly use the microwave can make it.

Edible Jello Slime!

Bonus: According to Bug (6yo) and Boo (4yo) this is the absolute best ‘noisy’ slime [read: it makes great fart noises] we have made. Just grab a small container and try to squish it in. So many giggles!

 

Let’s Make It!

To make this slime you will need:

  • 1 tbsp of Powdered Psyllium Husk Fiber supplement
  • 1 cup of water
  • large microwavable bowl
  • 1/2 packet of Jello or several drops of food coloring in desired color.

First mix water and Fiber Supplement in a large microwavable bowl.

Add Jello or food coloring if desired. (For a Dye-Free recipe, you can just leave this step out).

Place bowl in the microwave for 3 minutes. It should start to bubble up after 2.

Let bowl sit in microwave for 1  minute, then turn on for another 3 minutes.

Remove from microwave and let cool for 3-5 minutes. The slime should solidify as it cools. Check the texture, and if it is still wet or not as stretchy as you prefer, return to the microwave in 3 minute increments.

I have found 3-4 3 minute rounds in the microwave is usually sufficient to make a non-sticky, decently stretchy slime.

Make sure the slime is cool all the way through before giving it to children!

That’s it! It may take a bit longer to make than some slimes, but the results are definitely worth the wait!

 

Have fun and let us know how your Edible Jello Slime turns out!

 

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Keeping Your Family Healthy with Essential Oils

Germs. They are everywhere this time of year. Sniffles, coughs, sore throats and general congestion. Keeping them at bay can seem overwhelming. With so many drugstore options, and antibiotics being so prevalent, is it possible that there is a better way to keep our families healthy?

As a mom to 3 small children, I know that keeping kids healthy is easier said than done. When Bug was 6 months old, she spent her entire first winter with pneumonia, bronchitis, and ultimately a case of RSV that landed her in a hospital crib for a week. I spent months pumping my beautiful little baby with antibiotics and any medicine my doctor deemed ‘safe’. I was a new mom, and overwhelmed with well meaning family, doctors, the normal holiday chaos, and eventually my own pneumonia that nearly landed me in the hospital. As the weather warmed, and my little one finally fought off the winter illness, I was able to look back on the experience and start to figure out how I was going to avoid such a disaster in the future.

A Better Way

For as long as I can remember, I have been a big believer in the power of nature to heal the body.  Our bodies, at their core, are just a reconfiguration of all the things that make up the amazing planet we inhabit. We have spent thousands of years adapting and evolving, and for the majority of that time, people relied on plants and naturally occurring phenomenon to keep themselves healthy. It’s true that, as we began to try to understand these remedies and medicines, we did not always get it right. Bloodletting, to be fair, was a pretty weird and ineffective practice. However, things like herbal teas, aromatherapy and topical creams and poultices from plants have been trusted forms of relief since the beginning of mankind.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing modern medicine. It is amazing how scientists can manufacture chemicals that can alter the chemicals in a human brain to such an extent that they, at least temporarily, almost make you a different person.  Many people, myself and family included, owe their continued existence to some form of medical research. I do not, however, believe in using antibiotics and the endless aisles of pharmaceuticals as a cure all. While they usually do what they advertise, the effects on your body as these chemicals course through it are not always worth the temporary relief. Antibiotics especially, while they can absolutely save lives, alter the balance of good bacterias and confuse your body’s natural defense systems.

While we had definitely gotten to a point with Bug, after several cases of respiratory infections, that the antibiotics were necessary, I really wanted to find a better way to avoid getting that desperate in the future. I did a lot of research, talked to friends, well-meaning relatives and a few doctors. The reactions I got were mixed at best, but the more I looked into the issue, the more I found myself intrigued by the time-tested, and biologically compatible options of homoeopathic medicines and Essential Oils.

Essential Oils

For thousands of years, people relied on the natural world around them to help with the aches, pains and discomforts of their daily lives (which were, in most cases, a great deal more arduous than our own!). Early peoples discovered that the plants around them could provide relief in many different ways. Some could help simply by breathing in their aroma (citrus, lavender, eucalyptus, and peppermint), some could be applied as a salve for burns or cuts (lavender, chamomile, and helichrysum), and some, such as the bark of the white willow tree, could relieve pain when ingested.

These plants contain natural chemicals that interact with our bodies in a gentler way than most manufactured medication. I am more likely to want to use eucalyptus to help relieve my child’s stuffy nose than to rub them down with petroleum and menthol.

Essential Oils are a great way to use the healing power of the natural world, without the old world skills of gardening and foraging.#RMO #NaturalMedicine Click To Tweet

Essential Oils are a great way to use the healing power of the natural world, without the old world skills of gardening and foraging. Not to mention a much quicker option! While the concept of Essential Oils is a great one, it is important to note that not all oils are created equal. The idea of natural medicine is that you are choosing not to add manufactured chemicals to your body. If an oil company is using plants that have been infested with pesticides or is using a chemical compound to extract the oil from the plant, then the oil you buy will be contaminated and will pass that contamination on to your body.

The Right Choice

There are hundreds of Essential Oil companies out there claiming to be the best. Trying to choose one for the first time can be extremely overwhelming… especially if you attempt to get advice from a friend who has been sucked in by one of the multi-level EO selling giants!

While these huge companies seem to be a perfect solution, with their familiar faced salespeople and market saturation, they come with a lot of baggage. There are buying tiers, expectations and pressure to become an active part of their global takeover. When on my search for the right EO company for me and my family, this sort of sale oriented culture definitely did not appeal to me.

Instead, I got online and did some research on smaller companies to see what they had to offer. Later this week I will post a comparison of the brands I found, and the criteria I based it on. The important part is that there was one company that stood out to me above the rest:

Rocky Mountain Oils - Essential Oils for a healthy lifestyle!

Rocky Mountain Oils™ won me over with its excellent value, commitment to quality, clear labels, upfront approach and wonderful customer service. Of course, good policies and helpful service is only one part. I ordered a few oils to start with (Lavender, Peppermint and Lemon) to see if they really worked the way I hoped. I waited impatiently, and was rewarded with quick shipping and oils that exceeded my expectations.

Now, 5 years later, my 3 children have since taken antibiotics 4 times total. We rarely make trips to the doctor that aren’t for Well Visits, and keep very little drug store medication in the house. My fantastic pediatrician has even made comments as to how he’s noticed that out of all his patients, we are one of the families he sees the least. I credit a good portion of our doctor/medicine free existence to the preventative and first aid powers of my RMO essential oils.

If you are interested in a drug free lifestyle for you and your children and want to give essential oils a try, just follow the link below to the RMO website, and see their awesomeness first hand!

Click to visit RMO and see their awesomeness for yourself!

 

Want to learn more? Check out my (In Progress!) Essential Oil Series to find out how I use my Rocky Mountain Oils™ to keep my family healthy!

3 Ingredient Glitter Slime

It’s all the rage. Squishy, stretchy, often glittery. Slime has squeezed its way into the hearts of so many children and even some adults! It makes a fantastic stress reliever, an easy mess-free fidget, and it’s even a great science experiment as there are many variations to try.

Today we made our own slime using a variation I found at My Frugal Adventures.

Sunday Morning Slime Experiment

Bug loves her gold “play putty”!
Baby K loves to squish!

This version of borax free Glitter Glue Slime uses ingredients I had on hand, and took less than a minute to make, even with little hands helping. This alone gives it 4 stars in my book, and the fact that it makes perfectly textured, pretty slime every time makes that 5th star a no-brainer. All three of my girls were really excited to be able to conduct an experiment on this cold, rainy morning. I was really excited that said experiment promised to be fun and fairly mess free.

 After playing for a few minutes, Bug excused herself to go upstairs, which I found a bit odd. However, she returned quickly with a bin full of Shopkins, Hatchimals, and other tiny plastic toys. This turned out to be a brilliant idea and she, Boo and Baby K then spent over 30 minutes hiding little toys inside their slime and challenging each other to guess who was inside. It was a bit chaotic, and there was occasional shouting (“No! How could it be Delish Donut in my slime when you just had her and Beverly Heels in your own slime!”) but all in all it kept them happy and busy for quite a bit.

Making Glitter Glue Slime

So what, you ask, do you need to get your own half an hour of peace?

  • 4oz of Elmer’s glue (we used glitter glue, but you could use any kind and add your own coloring, glitter, or small objects)
  • 1/2 tbsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp Contact Solution (make sure the brand you use contains boric acid)

That’s it. Pour the glue into a bowl. (We used a 6oz bottle and just estimated.) If you are adding color, glitter or any other extras, now is the time to mix them in. Sprinkle the baking soda on top, mix until there are no lumps and then pour in the contact solution.

 

Use a popsicle stick, unsharpened pencil, handle of a spoon, other solid stick like object or just a finger to quickly mix the ingredients. The slime will form very quickly. Once everything has solidified (there will be some solution left in the bowl) pick up the slime and work in hands until no longer wet or sticky. The whole process should take about a minute.

 

Now put out some little things to hide, some containers to fill and some fun things to squish with, and sit yourself down with a cup of coffee! (Ok, be responsible and load the dishwasher first. You have time!)

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What is Sensory Play?

 

Sensory Play for All Children!

 

Sensory Play.

You’ve heard those words, but what does sensory play mean, and why is it so very important? Sensory play isn’t just ‘play’. It is learning and developing at a very basic level. Children use sensory to learn about the world around them, even before they can talk or begin to understand the concepts behind it.

 

As the mom of a child with sensory input issues, we have always made sure to include tons of sensory activities in our daily routines. These vary from small activities such as playdoh and water play, to large motor games such as obstacle courses and trampoline time. We also spend a lot of time doing things that have sensory play built right in: swimming, beach time, playgrounds, gymnastics, rain walks, and bike rides. I’ve found that even my two other children with no input issues benefit greatly from this extra emphasis on sensory during the day.

How you ask?

Sensory Play builds vocabulary.

Hard, soft, squishy, crinkly, hot, cold, smooth, rough. These are words that are difficult to describe, especially to a small child. They can however be easily experienced. It is much easier to introduce words like soft, smooth and squishy while playing with a nice soft batch of playdoh. These describing words are critical to a child’s vocabulary, as it allows them to explore and talk about the world around them. It builds confidence and a foundation for creating an extensive vocabulary later in life.

Sensory Play provides answers to question kids didn’t even know they had.

When children play, they often discover things that are amazing. A child playing with playdoh knows it will squish, but how amazing when they figure out that the large ball of playdoh can actually be shoved into that tiny hole! Or when the blue and yellow playdoh they are creating with suddenly turns green! These are learning experiences your child has created all by themselves. Most sensory based activities are very open ended and leave tons of room for exploration

Sensory Play in important to a child’s physical development.

Sensory play helps children develop both fine motor skills and gross motor skills. This makes them equally as important to babies and toddlers as it does for older children. The sooner children begin to develop their motor system, the sooner they can begin to explore their world. As children begin to explore, sensory experiences are much more likely to stick in a child’s memory. They engage the senses, and therefore are more cognitively rewarding that other forms of learning.

Sensory Play is FUN!

Not only is Sensory Play a great learning tool, its fun! Children will often be entertained for hours on end without even knowing they are growing their brain. My children’s most requested activities are all sensory play activities!

 

Check out some of our other posts for some great ideas have fun with Sensory Play with your little one today!

 

MLK Day with Dr. Seuss!

I have spent a lot of time considering how I was going to teach Bug about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. My reticence was in no way due to a desire to  hide the truth, but more to preserve the innocence with which she already adheres to the basic principles associated with the movement to which he dedicated his life.

Bug is very observant, and will occasionally point out things like a person with a cane, or an obese person in a mobile shopping cart. Once, much to my embarrassment, she loudly pointed out a rather large women in a pair of obscenely tight leggings. While she is curious (and lacks a good grasp on proper social etiquette), she is far too full of light and goodness to think less of such people. I also can not honestly recall a time when she has ever pointed out a persons skin (or even crazy colored hair) as something abnormal. Perhaps I can credit myself and her upbringing, or perhaps it is just the sweetness of her naturally gregarious personality. Either way, to Bug, all the people we meet are just friends waiting to be discovered. My warnings not to talk to strangers only lead her to endeavor to extend a greeting to every person she sees, in order to render them ‘no longer a stranger’. In a world such as we live in, this can (and does) lead to a lot of concern on a Momma’s part. However, it also brings a lot of pride, in raising a child who wants to bring a smile and friendship to everyone she meets.

This lack of judgement and friendly behavior has had a positive effect on my two younger girls, as they have never been particularly inclined to interact with the general public.

MLK Jr Day!

Despite all of this, I do think it is important not to teach children to be color-blind, but instead to teach children to appreciate each and every color as something special. Going foward, I will admit I am slightly terrified of the new questions/comments this new knowledge will illicit from my filterless child. At least I know I am playing an active role in making to world a better place… one less asshole at a time.

Sneetches

So what, you ask, does Dr. Seuss have in common with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.? One word my friends. Sneetches. I would hope most of you would be familiar with this particular story that immediately transports me to my childhood. If, however, your literary past is lacking, allow me to educate you…

the-sneetches-banner

The Sneetches are a race of yellow creatures that look like odd, flightless birds. They live in a remote area of Seussville which has apparently never heard of the Civil Rights Movement. Their society is segregated into two groups: One with a green star on their belly at birth, and one without. Now the ‘Star-bellied Sneetches’ think rather highly of themselves, and refuse to associate themselves with the odious ‘Plain-bellied Sneetches’, who have committed no crime but to be born star free. They have separate buildings, activities, and social circles.

One day,  a man comes in a strange truck and offers the plain-bellies the chance of a life time! For a small fee, he can use his revolutionary contraption to give them their very own belly star! How wonderful, you say! Equality for all! Alas, the original star-bellies are not pleased. How will they know now who is special and who is not? If they all look the same, they may accidentally invite a used-to-be plain-belly to their marshmallow roast! This won’t do at all. Once again, the new man in town has the answer: his star-off machine, of course! In go all the star bellies, and now suddenly it is fashionable to be without an offensive star upon your tum! So here come the Sneetches with recently

Screenshot 2018-01-15 14.04.21
A quick worksheet to think about the real world connections.

acquired, and even more recently unpopular, belly stars. They run through the star-off machine. Now the original star bellies, with no belly stars, are in need of stars to tell themselves apart once again. The madness continues, with everyone running in and out, and out and in of the star-on/off contraptions until no one has any money left, or any idea who started with what, or why some of them suddenly have 3 stars. The man rides out of town, but his visit has done some good at least. The Sneetches have finally learned their lesson. If the only way to tell each other apart is by something as silly as mark on their belly, then maybe they aren’t really so different after all!

This is of course all done within the pages of a Dr. Seuss children’s book, as well as an adorably engaging musical cartoon. I’d encourage you to read the original story, but definitely do not miss out on the musical fun! The songs will ring in your ears for many years to come, which isn’t really as bad as it sounds…

Here is a link to the YouTube video of Dr. Seuss’ The Sneetches:

And here is a link to the worksheets we used to talk about MLK and the connection we can make to one of our favorite short cartoons.

MLK and the Sneetches

 

Comment below to tell us how much you love Dr. Seuss and the Sneetches! Check back to see our other Learn with Dr. Seuss posts!

 

 

 

Edit:

BONUS!!!

I just found this fantastic FREE crochet pattern on Ravelry! Its a Star Bellied Sneetch! sneetch_smallHow freakin’ cute is that?? I definitely prefer to knit these days, but this one may be worth digging up the old crochet hooks!

Ravelry user KnottyNichole has all kinds of doll patterns, including a ton of Pokemon! Looks like those crochet hooks may be busy…

Learning with Pokemon!

Make Learning Fun with Printable Pokemon Games!

 

As the parent of children with very active imaginations, I have to be aware of what sort of characters they are ‘meeting’ through television and YouTube. My girls, Bug especially, have many imaginary friends, and will play out very elaborate scenarios and adventures with the characters from their favorite shows. These are occasionally wildly entertaining to listen to, but more often than not they are an excuse to run, flip and shadow fight in the living room.

Currently some of our more frequent guests include the antagonists from PJ Masks, the Octonauts, and a variety of Pokemon.

 

Now, I’d like to take just a moment to appreciate the longevity of the Pokemon franchise. I remember when my brother discovered Pokemon about 10 years ago and was shocked that I was cool enough to be able to recognize several of his favorite characters.  Now Bug is super into the show, and its characters. While I usually try to limit her exposure to violence, I do honestly feel that the way battles are presented in this cartoon are perfectly acceptable. She loves the idea of searching for rare Pokemon and training them to do battle with her.

Learning with Pokemon

As with her other interests, I try to tie Pokemon activities into our daily homeschool tasks, to make them a little less painful (for both of us!). This has proven a bit challenging. Considering how long the show has been running, there is very little in the way of educational games or supplements. I did manage to find some, however, and I have provided the links to some below.

 

Pokemon Endless Cards

What a great idea! There is a small learning curve for putting these together, but it is totally worth it. These Pokemon endless cards by Hattifant and Red Ted Art are awesome, and great for keeping little hands busy! Be sure to check out our printable page for 3 Giggling Twirls own endless cards.

 

Pokemon Optical Illusion Toy

This is a 20th century optical illusion game that has been modified for the pokemon lovers out there. I originally got the idea from a blog post I saw on Pinterest, but I went a little farther with the idea, and made it suitable for a color printer, and added Bug’s favorite characters. We used a glue stick to sandwich a paper lollipop stick between the two layers and then played by rolling the stick quickly between our palms, but they could easily be used in the traditional manner.

Printable Pokemon Toy

 

 

Pokemon Action Cards

ANDNEXTCOMESL is a great website for ideas and advice pertaining to Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, and Hyperlexia. She has a great idea to have kids read and react to Pokemon Action cards. We loved this ides, and used her free printables for a while, and then I decided to make my own version with the characters and actions that appealed to Bug (and the other two!). Check them both out, and make sure you have plenty of open space to get moving!

Edit: In my rounding up of activities, I forgot about the well done Camp Pokemon app. camp-pokemon-gallery-6If your kid is into screen time, this is a good app for them to play in their down time. Its not exactly educational, but it is way better than a lot of other apps they could be playing! The app is free and available for both Android and IOS. I also know about the super popular Pokemon Go app, and I’ve read some things about it being an asset in one way or another for home schooling families. We do not have any personal experience with it, however.

So now you have a couple ideas, and there are more on my ‘Learning with Pokemon‘ Pinterest Board. Now get out there and try ’em all!

 

Let us know what works for you, or if you have found any other cool ways to make Pokemon a part of your homeschool…

Animal Research Adventures!

A New Year

2018… apparently is shaping up to be one hell of a year. Went to bed last night with three snotty, coughing children (one of which gagged, vomited down the back of the top bunk, and went back to sleep) and a bit of a queasy stomach myself, even before the whole top bunk fiasco. Woke up this morning to a 54 degree house and an outside unit that makes enough noise to wake the dead when I attempt to turn it back on. Awesome!!

So here it is, 7:22am and I have piled blankets on the sleeping children, layered up and grabbed my robe, made the coffee, and texted a family friend in a desperate plea for his expertise in the matter of furnace mutiny. Despite the cold day, inside and out, today is the day that life officially gets back to normal after the holiday season. As always, the end is always bitter sweet. There will no longer be an excuse for eating cookies for breakfast, no more sneaky spy elf to carry tales of misbehavior to Santa,  no more pretty sparkling lights. However, when all of these Christmas decorations go back to the attic, and we reinstitute the ‘no toys downstairs’ rule, I may actually get my living room decently tidy!

 

Animal Research Day

Even though we don’t really go with the public school schedule around here, we have had our winter break and it is definitely time to get back on track and back into good morning routines. Today was to be the start of 2018 in our morning binders, the start of our Fish, Amphibians and Reptiles animal kingdom units, and a good solid math review. Unfortunately, our school room is in the basement that is already about 15 degrees colder than the upstairs on a normal day. Sure, we have a kitchen table and various other locations that could easily accommodate school work, but Bug doesn’t work so well upstairs. Too many distractions.

So on to Plan B:  A day of sneakily educational TV under warm blankets.

 

Today’s marathon of choice will be anything involving animals, mainly Wild Kratts, with some Magic School Bus and BBC Documentaries thrown in to keep it interesting.

Bug has long since decided that she wants to be a vet when she grows up. She wants to travel around the world helping animals who need her (as opposed to Boo, who just wants to catch them for an unspecified and most likely nefarious purpose). This love of animals led Bug to her current favorite show, Wild Kratts. The show is about two adult brothers that help animals. It has both live and cartoon segments, all filled with facts and information about the episodes chosen animal. Chris and Martin Kratt are fun, engaging and knowledgable. They also have a few other shows, including Kratts Creatures and the original Zaboomafoo. These shows have been great for Bug since she has such good recall of things she sees and hears, especially when it is a fact or other interesting information. These two men, traveling and helping animals, have now become the embodiment of what Bug would like to do in life. She shall learn everything there is to know about animals, and then she shall set out to travel the planet in search of creatures that need her help. She figures this ought to be able to happen by the time she is 10.

 

Oh boy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the true spirit of our semi-child driven homeschool, we took this opportunity to create our very own Wild Kratt Animal Research Journal. If one is going to learn everything about animals, then there needs to be a place to record all of this knowledge!

Our ‘Research Like A Kratt’ Journal

This notebook holds several printed copies of a simple Animal Research page, a list of animals she would like to add, and a zip up pouch with vocabulary words. I am currently toying with the idea of making a binder section for random knowledge; yesterday in the car she spent 5 minutes telling me the science of bioluminescence and it’s 3 main uses.

img_7383
Our notebook with extra pages and a zip pouch for vocab cards!

 

 

Our first entry into our awesome notebook somehow managed

img_7384
Our first Shark page. Believe it or not, Bug’s handwriting has improved a lot this year!

to be the Tube Nosed Bat.. which very little is actually known about. After that, I guided the animal choices a little more. It has been a very successful venture so far.  So much so that Bug often wakes up and comes downstairs asking to do some animal research. She even willingly writes down 90% of the information she finds! That, my friends, is huge. Bug does NOT like to write. Far too much sitting still and concentrating for my little fireball. However, she is determined to learn all she can before she turns 10 and begins her grand adventure. For now I will take any motivation I can get.. and I’ll deal with the fallout in about 3 years.

 

 

 

If you want to grab a copy of the Animal Research paper we are using, you can click the link below.

Wild Animal Research DL

Feel free to leave me a comment with an idea for an interesting animal to research, or a good show/YouTube channel to learn more about animals!!

Making Chores Fun for Kids!

 

There are lots of chores around the house that children, even small children, can help with. In fact, with the right approach, you may even have children who beg you to let them clean. Talk about a parenting win! The trick is to find a way to make those mundane household chores look like fun. Heck, you may even find a way to enjoy the chores a little more was well 😉

Whenever I find myself teaching my children a new chore, or even asking them to do a learned one that they aren’t so keen on, I find myself thinking of the lovely Mary Poppins:

“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and *SNAP* the job’s a game!” Words of Wisdom if I’ve ever heard them.

Put yourself in your child’s shoes and find the fun in all those boring chores on your to-do list. Not only will it keep them busy and get your house at least a little cleaner, but it is the foundation of a life skill that too many children lack.

Sound intriguing? Not sure where to start? That’s ok! I’ll get you started with some of the ways we make housework fun at my house…

Dusting – This is probably the easiest chore to get young children started. Give them a Swiffer, or even better one of these colorful static dusters, and let them go to town. Show them a super dusty spot, and how cool it is to make it clean and then send them off in search of all the flat surfaces in the house. Chances are he may even find a few places you didn’t even notice!

Windows – Washing windows is pretty easy, and it can keep kids entertained for quite a while. It’s a little tougher for children who haven’t developed the fine motor skills to squeeze the trigger on a spray bottle, but it is a great way to work on it! I find it best to use a homemade solution of 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol, 1tbsp baking soda and 8-10 drops lemon EO. Just keep an eye on younger children who may end up with a puddle on the window sill from spraying more than they wipe!

Vacuum – This one is great for older kids, as it tends to take them a bit. Some vacuums can be a bit on the heavy side (like the Kirby I HAD to have. If you have one, you know why…) but most should be manageable for your kids once they are tall enough to comfortably push it. Of course, the alternative for big and little kids alike is to invest in a handheld vacuum. These things are awesome and so much easier than hauling out the big vacuum for small messes. Once you have a machine your kid can comfortably handle, I bet it won’t take much persuading to get them to use it. Sometimes I even buy myself some time by “accidentally” sprinkling leftover cheerios or shredded paper on the floor and letting my toddler help me by cleaning it up.

Sock Matching – The most dreaded of my grown-up tasks! Honestly, I couldn’t even tell you why I am so opposed to matching socks. I could blame it on the plethora of odd colored socks my children have accumulated, but I didn’t even match socks in my pre-children era. This is why I am forever grateful that my children think me up-ending the entire sock basket on the living room floor is the best most funnest game of Memory Match ever. Sometimes they race, sometimes they work together, but they always are building real skills, including tracking, spatial and pattern awareness and, not least, the life skill of dealing with laundry!

Sweeping – What kid sees you with a broom and doesn’t immediately ask you for a turn? Something about brooms just look fun. As adults who are forced to use them, we know they really aren’t that great… but your kids haven’t figured that out yet! Kids can sweep just about anything, from actual kitchen floor crumbs to cheerios and balled up paper you throw on the floor. When they are just learning to use a broom, it is helpful to let them sweep big things, and to learn to sweep things into one big pile. A good way to teach this is to use painters tape to make a ‘target square’ on the floor. Let your kiddos practice sweeping paper balls, rice, cereal, beans or anything else into the square. Smaller children may have trouble controlling a normal sized broom, but the good news is there are many smaller brooms, especially at the dollar store or somewhere similar. Another choice might be to invest in a dustpan with a small brush so that your little one has more control. They could even buddy up! Bigger children sweep things into the square, and smaller children put it in the dustpan and deposit into the trash! Now we are having fun, working together, improving our gross motor, and learning a life skill all at the same time. Who knew?!?

10 Second Tidy – OK, so maybe we borrowed the name of this game from a TV show (Do you know which one?? Clipart freebie to the first person who tells me in the comments!). At our house, toys live upstairs. They are rarely invited down, but still have a way of appearing in my living room. For this reason, there is a basket kept at the bottom of our steps designed to collect these toys. Whoever goes upstairs should escort up a toy or two as they go. Every few days, I find that the toy presence is beginning to get out of control. Instead of picking them all up myself, like the mommy maid they would like me to be, we have a 10 second tidy. I stand in the middle of the room and draw attention to the toys that need to be picked up. Then, with a “ready, set, go!”, I begin my s-l-o-w count to 10. I say slow because we all know that no matter how speedy kids think they are, there is no way they would pick up more than one toy if I counted quickly. So I drag it out, giving encouragement and pointing out the things that are hiding. Sometimes they race each other, and sometimes they band together and race me. Either way it is fun, and gets them to clean up their own mess quickly and with little complaint.

 

Alright. There is a decent list to get you started! Now go check out your To Do list and find a way to get your kids engaged and busy!