Easy Healthy Smoothie Recipe for Kids

Leafy green vegetables! It’s not a secret that they are some of the healthiest foods on the planet. Packed with vitamins, minerals and micronutrients, leafy green veggies are a food I want to eat every day and I want my kids to eat every day. Growing up on processed food and canned vegetables, eating spinach and kale did not come easy or natural. Each of my kids now eat spinach every day  – usually happily – in the form of a green smoothie. I am delighted to share my easy healthy smoothie recipe for kids.


The first time I saw them, green smoothies made me cringe. My kids gave me a look like I was crazy. Our brains have incredible influence on our taste preferences. “Hulk Smoothies” is what I called these when we first started making them. Stay positive, start with less spinach then gradually add more, and enjoy! When my children have friends over, we always offer to share some smoothies with them. More than half of the kids I’ve offered these smoothies to enjoy them with full spinach at first taste.

Personally, I like to save time and make things in bulk. Making an entire blender full of smoothie, I divide it into serving and saving cups. Extra can be stored in the fridge or frozen and thawed later.

Gather ingredients


Green Smoothie
Add avocado and bananas to blender
Add spinach
Top with frozen strawberries
Fill halfway with orange juice
Fill with milk alternative or water
Optional add scoop of Superfoods Protein Powder
Cover securely.
Blend and Serve



Add to large blender in this order

  • 1 avocado
  • 6 bananas
  • Handful of spinach (start with less and add more with time)
  • Handful of frozen strawberries (on top of the spinach helps push it down to blend better)
  • Orange Juice, fill blender halfway
  • Milk alternative or water – fill blender to max liquid level (milk will froth in a blender so use almond, coconut or soy milk)
  • Optional scoop of Superfoods Protein Powder

Blend, Serve and Enjoy!

Leave me a comment below and let me know  your favorite way to get kids to eat spinach. Please let me know if you try this and enjoy it or have any ideas!


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IEW Writing Reviews – Institute for Excellence in Writing

IEW is dramatically different from other language arts program available. In fact, you will not find the term “Language Arts” within the product description. The focus of Institute for Excellence in Writing is to teach the arts of language. Writing is simply the written form of communication, therefore, cannot be successfully taught independently of the other arts of language.  For five years, we have used IEW and I am pleased to share with you my IEW Writing Reviews. Having a SCHOOLS division and a HOMESCHOOL division, IEW   caters to ALL students, teachers, and parents. It truly is a company dedicated to improving communication.

Arts of Language – All Are Important and Encouraged

  • Listening – Learning to listen well is essential in communicating and meeting expectations
  • Speaking – Fear of public speaking is one of the most common fears worldwide. Practicing the art of speaking from childhood can help reduce the fear because a way to overcome fear is to conquer it.
  • Reading – This is the first and most obvious skill that most parents and educators start with. A recent initiative is 1KB4K – that is for kids to have been read to one thousand books before kindergarten. This is wonderful! Reading books out loud to children is a predictor of success. Learning to read is essential. All children learn to read at different ages and this can be a source of stress if the student does not fit neatly in the bell-shaped curve. Children with certain learning differences, such as dyslexia, can understand far more than they can read. Don’t stop reading out loud when your kids can read. There are so many other benefits I shall discuss in another article.
  • Writing – This is taught methodically through imitation, simply at first, then building on the same method to increase skill according to individual ability.
  • Thinking – How do you think? Do you just listen to and repeating other’s opinions? Nope- that’s not thinking – that is regurgitating. Thinking is done through the art of asking and answering questions.

Who Does the Teaching in IEW?

IEW offers three options at the time of this writing.

  • Parent teaching IEW offers extensive Teacher training. I completed this the summer prior to starting to teach with IEW. This training was immensely valuable to me and is necessary for anyone who plans to teach using IEW material other than video based lessons.
  • Video Based Instruction Andrew Pudewa, founder of IEW, does ALL the teaching. Funny and engaging, his video lessons provide all the content required for student instruction. Watch this with your children so you can understand the expectations in order to adequately grade the assignments.
  • Online Classes This option is by far the best choice for working or busy parents. It does not require parent involvement other than ensuring your child has a computer and internet available.


IEW has engaged my boys and encouraged them to grow in all the arts of language. Interesting and engaging source texts take the drudgery away from writing. Simple prompts are never given and the student told to just “write whatever you want.” Writing involves thinking first so thinking is required prior to writing. Thinking then writing is modeled and taught. To make writing more stylish, techniques called “dress ups” are taught, modeled and encouraged.

We still remember some silly topics we wrote about when we first started including how eggplant is the most repulsive vegetable ever! Poetry memorization is encouraged in the K-2 program and alternates between classics and silly poems. Ooey gooey was a worm and is an all-time favorite of our family. The silly way we practice saying “ooooooooey gooooooooey” still is heard in our home when we find encounter something gooey.

Institute for Excellence in Writing not only trains students but with tremendous efforts, focuses on supporting teachers as well. Through their website, magazine articles and podcasts, they encourage parents and teachers to reach children.


Do Kids Love IEW?

I have three boys. “All-Boy” is how I would describe them. Given the choice, they would play sports, play with friends, play pretend, swing, run, fish, bike, hike or do anything active ALL DAY LONG! I suppose they could just as easily be captivated by screens all day but there is a limit to screen usage in our home. So when I ask them if they love IEW as much as I do… the answer is “kind of.” They don’t love to brush their teeth either but it’s something I require of them. So while they may not love it, they do appreciate the program. In retrospect, some of our areas of the greatest challenge are more likely a result of interpersonal conflict or mistakes that I’ve made and not at all to do with the program itself. Tremendous growth has occurred as a result of using IEW. Speaking confidently, thinking articulately and communicating effectively are the benefits I’ve observed and attribute to the skills acquired through IEW program materials.

Is IEW Christian or Secular?

You can choose Christian or Secular versions. IEW has a public school division which uses non-christian materials.

Andrew Pudewa is unashamedly Christian and the company has Christian foundations. A variety of source texts are available so you have the ability to choose.

What if My Child is Gifted or Has Special Needs?

This is the beauty of IEW! It is a system of teaching that truly works for everybody at every level. Children are instructed in a certain logical way and are given assignments based on an “easy plus one” model. I have taught three levels simultaneously with different expectations and requirements of each student. I have one average student, one gifted student and one dyslexic student. They each have their areas of excellence and struggle, yet I can easily accommodate all three together in an environment where they are encouraged to each learn, grow, and do their best.

Thank you for reading my review. I pray for blessings for you in whatever you choose and hope to be an encouragement to. If you want to read more about the curricula we use, I share about Sonlight and general homeschool curriculum suggestions. All the best!


Leave me a comment below and let me know your favorite curriculum and if you try this!

Affiliate disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and buy something, I may receive a commission. You will pay no more so please go ahead and feel free to make a purchase. Thank you!

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Sonlight Curriculum Reviews – Raising Compassionate Kids

Sonlight was not our first choice of curriculum for two reasons. First, it’s not cheap. Second, it’s literature based and I have three boys who are NOT avid readers. As you decide what is best for you, I pray my Sonlight curriculum reviews can be helpful. Read more about other curricula we use.

After frustration with other curricula and discussing Sonlight with a veteran homeschool mom, I decided to try it for a year. That was five years ago. I can tell you will absolute certainty that the decision was one of the pivotal and best decisions I have made in our journey of home education. We enjoy reflecting on past family experiences and many of our favorite homeschool memories are related to the books we have read through the Sonlight programs and the discussions we have had as we learn together. I will honestly tell you that Sonlight is not perfect because nothing is, but we are so thankful we have this resource.

There are many reasons people choose to educate in the home, many theories on home education and many approaches to it. The core of our purpose is to raise our children with a love of learning, compassion for others, and provide a solid education that encourages critical thinking while honoring Christ as we discover God’s love for all people. Whew!! That’s a tall order! Does Sonlight really do all that?

What Is Sonlight? 

Sonlight is a curriculum provider for homeschool with resources for all ages starting with preschool continuing through high school including all subjects, even valuable electives. It truly provides everything needed. Sonlight has been trusted for 30 years while continually updating and improving what they offer in response to technology, new books and feedback.

Sonlight provides well-planned, thorough schedules for Bible/History/Literature in addition to the books and other resources to go along with it. Science and Language Arts are separate subjects with separate schedules along with the required resources. Sonlight has suggestions and options for all other subjects through their catalog or website. I have never been disappointed with any of the electives purchased through them. They don’t have an enormous selection but what they offer is high quality.

What Does Literature Based Actually Mean? 

My reflection on what literature-based means simplified is that we learn through stories. I have always had an interest in history but never really loved it. I dislike having to memorize list of names and dates. In my experience, when I remember history class, I remember taking tests and having to memorize facts that didn’t carry much meaning in order to pass the test. In a literature based setting, we learn the historical facts, we do memory work enjoyably but we really learn through connection with characters. We don’t always remember facts but we do remember feelings much easier.

We started with Core B and the story we remember most intensely that first year was the biography of George Mueller. He has a redemptive story with a wild childhood and then a deep passion for the Lord. Even now, as we are surviving this worldwide COVID crisis, we have reflected back to how George cared for his neighbors and so many orphans, often risking his own life, through the cholera epidemic in Europe in the 1800s. We don’t remember the date or city, but we remember feeling the anguish with him as he lovingly took in children orphaned from the epidemic and committed to caring for them even when he didn’t know how he could ever afford it. He trusted the Lord, prayed every day and every day, God provided exactly what was needed. We walked through the pandemic with him, felt what he felt, and witnessed the power of his faith. This type of learning is so much more meaningful to me than simply memorizing that there was a second cholera pandemic from 1826-1837.

We have really enjoyed almost all the books Sonlight schedules. Some have started slowly but, keeping with the program, have finished strong. Sonlight chooses historical fiction with characters about the same age or slightly older than the recommended ages for the core. In the younger cores, the characters and stories have an element of silliness which makes them fun and easy to read. Almost all the characters undergo some trial or challenge through which they gain tremendous character growth. These are the foundations for many treasured conversations. Because we’ve read the stories together, we also have shared memories and experiences surrounding these experiences.

What if My Kids Don’t Love to Read? 

My boys don’t love to read. In fact, given a list of ten things to do, reading is almost never something they choose to do with their free time. Building forts, playing sports, bouncing off the walls, listening to music…. are all things they prefer over sitting and reading quietly. It’s the sitting quietly part that they struggle with. They do enjoy listening to me read because I support their needs to move by encouraging them to color, draw, work on puzzles or play with fidget toys or allowing them to lay down, even if its upside down!

Last year, I had the brilliant idea to free up some time by listening to the audiobook version of a book rather than read it out loud. My oldest son protested by saying, “but mom, you have the voice of an angel and I don’t want to listen to an audiobook.” After years of forced reading out loud where I sometimes doubted whether they were even listening or if they even cared, my momma heart overflowed with joy at that simple comment that meant the world to me!

*Love of Learning

Learning history through stories is meaningful and my children do not dread history- they look forward to it. Bonus that we read cuddled up on the couch, outside when its warm or sprawled out on the floor. One of the biggest challenges is that my lap is not big enough to support three children while holding the book and trying to read. Sometimes this leads to arguments over who gets to sit closest to mom. Sibling rivalry is a different topic I’d like to talk about another time… but I love that my kids want to listen to stories and want to cuddle up while we read!


*Compassion for Others 

God created all people in His image. Every. Single. Person. His creativity is evident  looking at the diversity of His creation. We are stronger together so our differences should be celebrated and appreciated. By surrounding ourselves with people different from ourselves, we learn from them and grow in compassion and empathy. How in the world can I do that on a budget?! I would love to travel the world with my family to experience different cultures but that’s not a possibility for us. Even if it were, that only leads to an appreciation of current cultures.

What about developing compassion for people throughout history. It’s incredibly easy to read history and point out mistakes and claim what they should have done differently. More meaningful, however, is to walk a mile in their shoes. The characters in historical fiction provide incredible insight to lead to an understanding of why certain decisions were made. What was it like when and where they lived. What were they thinking and feeling? What were the choices? What could have happened with either decision? I believe that people make the decisions they believe are best at the time with the information that they have.

By learning to look at the world through the eyes of other people, we can learn compassion and empathy.

*Solid Education that Encourages Critical Thinking

Solight provides a very thorough and solid education through their programs. Simply looking at a stack of books will remove all doubt otherwise. The books are carefully chosen and all quality. There have been less than a handful of the hundred+ books we’ve read that I’d say aren’t my favorite. The IGs (Instructor Guide) provide discussion questions to encourage conversation with your kids if that doesn’t come natural to youl

*Honoring Christ and Loving ALL of God’s Creation 

This is a nondenominational Christian homeschool curriculum. Controversial topics are brought up to encourage discussion. For example, the topic of old earth vs new earth is discussed with both sides of the argument provided. Families are encouraged to read the scripture, look at scientific evidence and decide for themselves.

Love for God first and all people is a theme throughout the entire curriculum. Controversial and negative parts of history are definitely learned with an emphasis on praying for everyone. What an amazing way to connect with people through history and geography.

Are There Any Downsides? 

Nothing is perfect, so yes, there are downsides.

  • Cost: Sonlight is not cheap. I’ve done a few things to try to save money. Buying a full course provides a discount. I have also bought used. You can search “used Sonlight curriculum” to try to find older cores. I personally prefer to buy the IG and student sheets new and then try to find used books when possible. This is tedious and time-consuming. I often wonder if it’s even worth all the time but continue to do it every year.
  • Overwhelming: Sometimes the book lists can seem overwhelming. I prefer to think of Sonlight as a buffet sometimes. Many valuable resources are scheduled but you don’t have to use every single thing all the time. Honestly, we have fallen behind in reading and occasionally skipped a book.
  • Travel: An intense desire to travel has been a side effect of learning to love the world around us!


**Blessings to you in whatever you choose. I hope this has been helpful. Please leave me a comment and let me know your experience. Here is a more extensive list of other curricula we use in educating in our home.

Learn as much as you can, Love God and others and Live fully!


Affiliate disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and buy something, I may receive a commission. You will pay no more so please go ahead and feel free to make a purchase. Thank you!

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Apple iPhone SE 2020 cases

I have been waiting for a while for an affordable iPhone with a great camera. I am so excited to have my new apple iPhone SE 2020! My problem is that I frequently drop my phone and I do NOT want it to crack or break. There are many cases available but not all of them will protect my precious phone from my slippery grip. I spent hours researching all the cases available before deciding which cover to protect my investment with. This case was built for adventurers and as you read the rest of my blog- I certainly seek adventure!

Urban Armor Gear Rugged Shockproof Military Drop Tested Protective Cover

Overall Rating: At the time of this publishing, this phone case has received only 5 and 4 star reviews!

Product Description: Lightweight with five layers of protection including layers of leather and metal.

Wireless charging compatible.

Honey-comb traction grip makes this easier to hold than other slick cases.

Buttons that are ultra-responsive for great function and crisp click feel.

Meets 2 times military drop test standards.

Comes with 10 year limited warranty.


Rugged: Not surprisingly, I have dropped my phone several times and this case has protected my phone perfectly. I can only say that I am always multitasking and trying to do and carry too much at once. The phone has been dropped on concrete, a marble floor, carpeting and while riding a bike (I know I shouldn’t be riding and texting).There is not even the slightest scuff on the case.

Military-Grade MIL STD 810G 516.6: Exceeds military standards for drop and shock, enduring 26 drops, from 4′ high, with 0 damage. UAG’s signature armor frame and shock-resistant core is layered with top-grain leather, a polycarbonate shear plate, and alloy metal hardware—all wrapped in impact-resistant rubber.

Easy Installation: Installation is a breeze! The case snaps on and off easily yet stays in place while in use. Much easier than other multi-layer cases used in the past.

Excellent grip: This case has a honey-comb grip along the edges and indentations for finger rests along the back for improved grip. I drop my phone all the time because I tend to be a klutz not because of a design flaw in the case.

Crisp Buttons: The buttons are oversize and tactile. Easy to press, they are crisp and smooth.

Slim Design: This case has a thin, lint resistant, friction free cover which slips in-and-out of pockets easily.

Bold Color: Available in either red or black.

Sales: This phone case is comparable in price to many other cases but still is not cheap. I purchased this case when it was on sale. I noticed that the cases tend to fluctuate in price on Amazon throughout the day and from day to day. I watched for a sale and purchased then.


This case does NOT come with a screen protector so one will need to be purchased separately.

I bought this one. It’s not perfect because the protector lifts at the sides but that is because the screen is curved at the edge so there is no great solution to this at the moment.

Cannot use a pop socket with this case because the back has its own grip.

The Monarch design case only comes in two colors.

Similar Case with more Designs: Limited Edition- Customized Designs by Ego Tactical Over a UAG Urban Armor Gear Case for Apple iPhone SE

I chose to purchase the Monarch UAG case because of the reasons previously listed- I wanted the best durability at the best price. My husband purchased one of these cases because of the many designs in a high quality case. I agonized over this decision for far too long!

Personal side note unrelated to cell phone covers: I particularly appreciate the designs with the American Flags on the cover. During times like these, I believe it’s very important to remember the basics. We are all created equal and have inherent value. I am proud to be an American even though I am not proud of many aspects of American history.  Be kind to everyone always.

Overall Rating: At the time of this publishing, this phone case has received only 5 and 4 star reviews!


Rugged: This UAG EGO Tactical also has an impact resistant hard case with a soft care. Military drop testing standards are also exceeded.

Easy Installation: Installation is a breeze! The case snaps on and off easily yet stays in place while in use.

Excellent grip: Finger grips along the back and an easy-grip material are used to construct this case.

Crisp Buttons: The buttons are oversize and tactile. Easy to press, they are crisp and smooth.

Design is slim, color options are extensive and the case is sleek.


The case also does not come with a screen protector.

Popsockets won’t stick because the back is not flat.

I have never seen these cases marked down.


This UAG Ego Tactical is slightly smoother and smaller than the Monarch. No honeycomb grip along the edges like the Monarch.


An iPhone is an investment because of all the value it can add to your life. I use mine extensively for the photo and video capabilities. My iPhone is my primary way of communicating with most people. Reminders, calendars and alarms have simplified and organized my life. The tools and apps available to do any and everything are absolutely incredible. However, I don’t like to spend a lot of money on electronics and I certainly don’t want to spend an equal amount on protecting and replacing them if they break. A solid and affordable way to protect my iPhone is extremely important to me leading me to do as much research as I did which I am now happy to share with you as you decide how to protect your investment as well.

Please leave me a comment and let me know if this was helpful.

Learn as much as you can every day, love intentionally and live fully.

Affiliate disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and buy something, I may receive a commission. You will pay no more so please go ahead and feel free to make a purchase. Thank you!

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Pictures of Baby Guinea Pigs

We recently adopted an older guinea pig that was in search of a new home with loving children. We have owned several hamsters and a dog but never a guinea pig. In a very short time, she captured the hearts of our entire family! Guinea pigs are now one of our favorite pets and we all agree that they are incredibly adorable. Pictures of baby guinea pigs are just the cutest!

Just look at this adorable little pig with its paw so delicately placed on the wood. Precious!

This charming beauty makes the flowers more pretty!

This newborn guinea pig is so small that it fits in a hand. Oh I wish I could hold it!

This little gray guinea makes my heart smile!

Guinea Pigs are so Cute! Should I Adopt One?

Guinea pigs are super cute and you may find yourself wanting to get one. But wait, research and think first! Guinea pigs do make wonderful pets because they are social animals, can be quite cuddly and let you hold them or sit in your lap. They are much easier to hold than hamsters and also much easier to find if they happen to escape! Oh have we got a crazy escape hamster story for another time!

Guinea pigs require commitment and care but are certainly worth it- you just need to know the commitment first!

How Long Will a Guinea Pig Live and How Big Can it Grow?

Guinea pigs are a great pet because they do live longer than hamsters but not as long as dogs. Most guinea pigs will live between 5-8 years. Be prepared to commit to raising an animal this long before adopting one. Eight years can be a long time and there needs to be at least one person who will care for the animal for that long. The positive to this is that they become part of the family!

Guinea Pigs can grow up to 10 inches long and weigh up to 2 and a half pounds. They are large enough to easily hold yet small enough to be carried in one hand.

Are Guinea Pigs Easy to Take Care of?

Guinea pigs are not low maintenance and require significant care. It’s easy but takes time and commitment.

Daily, they need to be fed and have their cage cleared of waste. They need to be given dry food but also benefit from fresh vegetables daily. Food not eaten within 24 hours should be thrown away. They may have a water bottle in their cage which needs to be checked daily for enough water. Being very social animals, they should be shown some attention every day.

Weekly, their cage should be deep cleaned. Even with clearing their waste every day, residue and odor will build up in their cage. Guinea pigs are larger rodents and have a larger amount of waste. The water and food dishes should be cleaned weekly with the cage.

Sensitive to temperature, they should be kept at normal household temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees. Anything hotter than 80 degrees can harm them.

What are Guinea Pig Personalities Like?

Like all humans and animals, guinea pigs all have different personalities. They are incredibly social animals and need daily social interaction or another guinea pig friend. Interesting noises are a unique quality of guinea pigs. Guinea pigs need to be treated gently and with kindness. Very susceptible to stress, guinea pigs can become physically sick if they are neglected or hurt. Loud noises can also startle these gentle animals.

While easy to handle, they do need to be picked up and held gently. They tend to squirm while being moved and can easily be dropped.

They will hide in objects and should be provided with something to hide in.

Be kind, gentle and loving so your guinea pig will likely be friendly and social with you.

What Do I Need to Take Care of a Guinea Pig?

There are many items on the market for Guinea Pigs but not all are needed.  They need something to chew since they are rodents and their teeth grow continuously. If they are provided with crunchy food such as carrots or celery daily then there is no need to spend money on chew toys. A safe home is important and there are a few options of lining for their cages.

  • HABITAT: They are larger rodents and need a larger area to exercise. Their habitat should be at least 18 inches tall, 36 inches long and 30 inches wide. It should be escape-proof and be made of wire. We use this one and our guinea pig loves her home.
  • CAGE LINER: Most commonly used is shredded animal bedding. I don’t prefer because I think that it just stinks! I love animals but not the smell of their waste. In a desperate attempt to embrace our pig and not have a stinky house I discovered this liner. It really has decreased the odors form the cage when regularly cleaned. The other great quality of this liner is the cozy and cuddly extra layer which provides a built in place for your guinea friend to hide. The poop is scooped up daily and the liner is laundered weekly (follow manufacturer’s care).
  • HIGHT QUALITY FOOD: Timothy hay and Guinea Pig Food should be available at all times. They should be given fresh vegetables daily. Romaine lettuce and carrots are the favorite of our little beauty.

Enjoy the Pictures!

Baby guinea pigs are so cute! Never get a pet just because its cute though. Pets are animals that require care and attention. Be committed to providing a good home if you choose to adopt one!

Before adopting an animal, learn as much as you can about how to care for it so you are prepared, love it intentionally and live fully. Blessings to you!

I’d love to hear your experience. Leave your comments below 🙂



Affiliate disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and buy something, I may receive a commission. You will pay no more so please go ahead and feel free to make a purchase. Thank you!

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nature Activities Kids


Being in nature has a way of making almost everyone feel better. Science can explain the benefits quite articulately. I know from experience in myself and my three boys that the positive benefits are so great that they cannot even be measured. Being immersed in nature helps to decrease stress by lowering the stress hormone, cortisol. Calmness and increased sense of energy fill the mind and body within just a short amount of time. Positivity and creativity are more welcome effects of immersion in nature. I always enjoy just walking in nature but my boys benefit from more active engagement and rarely are interested in simply walking.

Remember to care for the natural world around you as you enjoy it. Take only pictures and leave only footprints!

If you plan to be outside during daytime hours, begin by protecting your skin.

Bonus : these can all be done while maintaining a social distance of 6 feet!

Photography Scavenger Hunt

This is a twist away from the traditional printable scavenger hunt, which we have never successfully completed due to lack of interest. Instead, using my cell phone as a camera, we take pictures of “anything that is interesting.” Doing this, requires attention and encourages observation. We take pictures of leaves, beautiful flowers, flowers of weeds which can also be quite beautiful, logs, branches, mushrooms, animals, anything you can see or think of! We look through the pictures afterwards and I encourage explanation about what was interesting. This connects me to the way my children perceive the world around them which is often quite different from myself!

Make sure that your camera has a high quality protective case before letting your kids use it!

Listen for Animals

As we walk through nature, we tend to make a ruckus which scares away all wildlife. If we are listening for animals, we step lightly and keep quiet so we can hear them. Pay attention to the animal sounds around you. Squirrels scurrying. Birds chirping – how many different songs can you hear? Coyotes at dusk. Bullfrogs in the evening. Bees buzzing. Take the same walk at different times of the day and hear different animals. This activity trains the sense of hearing which improves observation. It’s also a reminder and important life skill that we need to stop talking if we want to hear others. Listen and learn!

Look for Animals

This seems like it could be the same activity as listening but its not. You can hear animals far away and you can see small animals that never make a sound. This activity also requires quiet stealth. If you are parading through like a herd of elephants, all the animals will be hiding before you are even close. When you slow down and train your eyes to observe, animals are all around. We have been soaking up as much nature as possible. In the past week, my children have found a frog, toad, 8 snakes, 2 different baby birds, a nest of 6 baby bunnies, 2 crayfish, ducks, geese, swans, many fish and countless insects.

We take pictures when possible and pour over the cuteness of the animal and wonder at the ugliness of some! This provides opportunity to learn more about animals if they are interested. We can check out library books or google to find out more information. We learned that momma bunnies leave for the day and return at night. The nest full of baby bunnies was not abandoned – i.e. we don’t need to adopt them forever- mom will come back. Touching baby birds will discourage momma bird from caring for it but the same doesn’t apply to baby bunnies.

What does this animal eat? Is this animal always here or does it migrate in winter? Isn’t it interesting how some animals are camouflaged so well? Some animals freeze and stay completely still when being approached while others run (or hop) and hide. How does the animal protect itself? How do you know if the snake is poisonous (or frog in some places)?

Please please please be kind to animals! Never do anything to hurt them. We observe to learn about the world and have a greater appreciation for the Creator who made them. If you do touch an animal, be sure it is not poisonous, can’t hurt you and be sure to wash or sanitize your hands afterwards. Never take an animal from nature. Observe, learn and appreciate.

Tree, Plant or Flower Hunt

Before you touch any plants, know which plants in your area can cause reactions. In our area, we have poison ivy, poison sumac and wild parsnip, all which cause skin reactions – so don’t touch!

This nature activity can be done almost anywhere! There are small green spaces even within the largest cities. Look for anything green, identify it if you can and talk about the plant. What do you notice about it? What make it unique? How is it adapted to survive? Can it be naturally found in your are or was it brought in?

We have a home in our neighborhood in central Illinois that has palm trees every summer. They are most certainly not native- they are brought in and replanted every year. We enjoy seeing them but they are not native to our area – oh sometimes how I wish they were!

If your child is interested, you can collect flowers or leaves then dry & press them to make a nature scrapbook. Make sure you have permission before collecting anything though.

Creek Play

While all the previous activities were quiet and clean – this is by far our FAVORITE! With three boys, it is loud and messy! We walk the path in a public park or nature center until we come to a creek. We do NOT cross the creek. Wearing water shoes, we walk in it. If it has been rainy, we also play in the mud! When I say we, I actually mean the kids. I walk through it and they roll in it! Afterwards, rinsing off occurs in the creek. Experience your senses!

Make sure you use good judgment. Have permission to use the creek and don’t use if there are dangerous animals like alligators, you should be able to see the bottom and it should not be too deep for your level of experience,

  • What do you see? Water, rocks, sand, plants, animals?
  • What do you hear? Rushing water, animals, cars in the distance?
  • What do you smell? Flowers, spring?
  • What do you feel? Is the water warm or cold? Is the sand soft or squishy? Are the rocks large or small and hurting your feet? Do you feel relaxed and calm? What stress can be swept away with the water?
  • Please don’t taste anything and wash your hands before you eat!

Get Out

Get outside and do some fun nature activities with your kids! Learn as much as you can, love intentionally and live full present. Today you are making the memories of tomorrow! God bless you and your family.

For more summer activities for kids, inside and outside, check out http://learnloveliveathome.com/summer-fun-activities-for-kids-in-2020/

I’d love to hear your experience. Leave your comments below 🙂


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Games to Play in the Car

Summer break has officially begun and one of the many things we enjoy is traveling! But… the…. car… rides…. can… be… so… long! Thankfully with the ETA from my MAPS app we can more accurately answer the age-old question of “Are we there yet?!” Car rides can still seem to last forever though with restless kids. Engaging the mind in something meaningful helps pass the time. We often listen to audio books and music but we also like to play games in the car.

Selfie Karaoke

This is our new favorite! We have songs that we’ve listened to for years and know all the words. On our latest car, ride we passed the time with selfie karaoke. The obvious disclaimer is that the driver of the vehicle should not be the videographer. A phone can be used as the video camera and placed in the sunglasses holder up high. You can really place it anywhere that it will stay and not distract the driver. Passengers can also take turns holding and recording others. Passengers position themselves, while remaining properly buckled, so they can be in view. Press record when the song starts and record singing to your favorite songs! You can use sunglasses and hats or anything else lying around as props. People can pop in and out of frame at different parts. Passengers can even move their arms and legs to “dance” as long as they aren’t distracting the driver. Record an entire playlist or CD and then passengers can watch the videos. So much fun!


I spy is a classic favorite and can be played with two or more people just about anywhere. One person is “IT” and chooses an object within sight of everyone in their mind. They start by saying “I spy something….” and describe the object. The other players inside the car take turns asking questions with a yes or no answer. When a player thinks they know the object, they can use their turn to attempt to guess the object. The person who guesses the object becomes “IT” for the next round. There is no winner to this game but just instead players have fun playing and keep going as long as the fun continues!

For us, learning is a lifestyle so I always use this game as a chance to reinforce that the thing that is spied is a noun, which is a person, place, thing or idea. The words used to describe the noun are adjectives. Some adjectives are better or more descriptive than others so use interesting adjectives!

Alphabet Search

This is another game without a winner where all players work together. The goal is to find words that start with each letter of the alphabet starting with A and ending with Z. The words can be on road signs, the side of a truck, names of stores, etc.

When you make it to Z you can start over and transition to the next fun game!

Spelling Bee

This is a game that can be played for fun or for a winner. We like to chose themes and spell words within the category. To be competitive, one person, asks other people in the car to spell words and everyone continues taking turns as long as they spell the word correctly. If a word is misspelled, the player is out and spelling continues until one person is left and is the winner! To play for fun, everyone continues to take turns even if a word is misspelled.

Examples of categories are age dependent and can be chosen for different players based on age of the player:

  • colors
  • numbers
  • shapes
  • cities
  • states
  • rivers, lakes, oceans
  • authors
  • flowers
  • fruits and vegetables
  • things related to the season
  • things related to road trips
  • things related to camping
  • car makes and models
  • celebrities

Travel Safe and Have Fun!!

I’d love to hear your experience. Leave your comments below 🙂

Learn as much you can, love intentionally and live your life fully to honor God.


This article may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link and buy something, I may receive a commission. You will pay no more so please go ahead and feel free to make a purchase. Thank you!

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

The Best Spray Sunscreen for Kids

Sunscreen use provides important protection from the harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun which can cause cancer such as melanoma. Dermatologists recommend applying sunscreen daily when in the sun. In our home, sunscreen application has been a challenge as nobody I’ve ever met really likes the feel of it. Spray sunscreen is the easiest to apply and has the best feel. So which is the best spray sunscreen for kids?

Alba Botanica Kids Sunscreen SPF 50

Hands down, this is our favorite. This is reef safe and water resistant. The spray smells good and dries clear.


Alba Botanica Very Emollient Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30

The clear mist from this sunscreen creates a barrier on the skin and physically blocks out the sun’s harmful rays. This is also reef safe and water resistant. The spray takes longer to dry and rubbing it in helps speed up the drying process.

?REEF Safe?

Reef safe simply means that the sunscreen does not contain 2 specific UV blocking chemicals, oxybenzone and octinoxate, that are known to cause coral bleaching.  The coral in reefs absorb these chemicals and can have unfortunate effects. Also, these chemicals in the water also supports certain viruses in the water which can make coral sick and lead to death.

Sun Bum Original Spray SPF 30 
This sunscreen smells great with added vitamin E to nourish the skin,. It is ultra waterproof and sweatproof. This sunscreen dries very quickly and smells great.

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist
The claim to fame for this sunscreen is its “weightless and clean feel.” The sunscreen applies in a fine dry mist which feels a bit cold. This also dries fast and leaves little residue but smells like sunscreen.

Banana Boat Simply Protect Kids Sunscreen
With a bottle that is the easiest to hold, Banana Boat is light weight, easy to rub in and water resistant. Note that this sunscreen also reports to be tear free. All sunscreens are irritating to the eys but this sunscreen is the least.

How to Use Sunscreen Spray

The sprayable sunscreen is our choice  but its important to also apply correctly. Hold near the skin and contiue to spray generously. Rub the sunscreen in to ensure complete coverage. Pay attention to the border area of clothes because they often move and uncovered spots are unprotected.

Sunscreen is not 100% effective in blocking the sun’s harmful rays so use in combination with other protective techniques including wearing protective clothing, wearing a wide brimmed hat, wearing protective sunglasses,  seeking shade when possible and reapplying sunscreen every two hours or after swimming / sweating.

Cautions with spray sunscreen

  • do not inhale (we hold our breath while spraying)
  • never spray directly on face, instead spray on hands and then apply to face
  • do not spray when its windy becuase it blows away and is easy to inhale, insteasd seek shelter from the wind
  • never spray near an open flame

Be Safe and Have Fun in the Sun

I’d love to hear your experience. Leave your comments below 🙂

Learn as much as you can, love intentionally and live fully! God bless you and your family.


This article may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link and buy something, I may receive a commission. You will pay no more so please go ahead and feel free to make a purchase. Thank you!

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Games For Kids to Play on Zoom

Social distancing certainly has created challenges for all of us, especially kids who are used to seeing and playing with friends and family. Within every challenge lies opportunity though. We are blessed with useful tools for creativity. Online platforms such as Zoom or Google Meet give people the chance to see others and interact face to face in pairs or groups. My kids, without any direction, will often just stare at the screen making funny faces and noises. While this is amusing for a few minutes, games are much more fun and interactive.

Here are also some ideas for other fun activities.

Alphabet Challenge

Go through the alphabet starting with A and ending with Z naming items that start with each letter

  • Animals
  • Things you find in a kitchen
  • Movie titles
  • Book titles
  • Famous people
  • Instruments
  • Insects
  • Cars
  • Movie Characters
  • Drinks
  • Foods
  • Cities
  • Nature

Who Am I?

Summarize a person, place or thing and the other person or team attempts to guess. The winner chooses the next item to summarize,

Twenty Questions

One person thinks of an object. Each other person takes a turn asking a yes or no question up to twenty questions. Players may try to guess the object on their turn. After twenty questions, everyone takes turns guessing. The winner chooses the next object and the game continues.


Players attempt to guess the tagline from a book or movie. Examples:

  • “With great power comes great responsibility” from Spiderman movie
  • “To infinity and beyond” from Toy Story
  • “I laugh in the face of danger. Hahahaha” from Lion King
  • “I do not like them Sam I am” from Green Eggs and Ham
  • “In the beginning….” from the Bible
  • “May the force be with you” from Star Wars

Who Said It?

Players take turns guessing who said famous quotes. Examples:

  • “Four Score and seven years ago” Abraham Lincoln
  • “I have a dream…” Martin Luther King Jr


Grab a hairbrush, spatula or pen and have a blast singing!

Simon Says

One player is designated as Simon and tells everyone else what to do. However, Players must only obey commands that begin with “Simon says…” Players are OUT if they don’t obey a “Simon Says” command or if they obey a command that’s not a “Simon Says” command. Last person in wins and is the next Simon.

Hide and Seek

Just kidding! Thanks for reading all the way to the end!

Have Fun

I’d love to hear your experience. Leave your comments below 🙂

Make the most of your time by learning as much as you can, loving well and living fully. God bless you and your family! Read about more activities here. 


This article may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link and buy something, I may receive a commission. You will pay no more so please go ahead and feel free to make a purchase. Thank you!

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Summer Fun Activities for Kids in 2020

Yesterday was the first day of summer break so we embarked on a leisurely bike ride through town. Baseball fields were empty and overgrown with weeds. Playgrounds have been roped off with CAUTION tape. The pool filling with crystal clear sparkling water will not be opening this year. Without warning, tears streamed down my face as I grieved the loss of our normal summer activites due to social distancing ordered in Illinois because of coronavirus. The tears flowed for a few moments as I hid my face from my three sons. Taking a deep breath, I reminded myself that we are incredibly blessed and there are so many other fun things to do in summer. I just need to remember what they are so I can focus on what we can do rather than what we cannot. I hope you can find some inspiration as well.

Indoor Activities Without Screens (except as needed to learn a new skill)

  • Put together a puzzle (bonus if while listening to an audiobook)
  • Create a cardboard box maze for a marble or hamster
  • Make something yummy in the kitchen
  • Try a new fruit or vegetable
  • Plant indoor herbs and move outside when the weather is nice enough
  • Read and dramatize short stories out loud : more drama = better
  • Practice character voices reading out loud
  • Try to talk in a British accent
  • Then try a Scottish accent
  • Build a DaVinci Bridge from sticks (popsicle sticks, tree sticks, paper straws- be creative)
  • Learn to count to ten in Spanish
  • Practice counting to ten while doing jumping jacks
  • Learn to count to ten in Japanese
  • Practice counting while doing squats or push-ups (do them on your knees if you need to)
  • Create and send cards to family or friends
  • What and who do you really miss? Let them know how much you appreciate them
  • Clean, really deep clean- it feels so good afterwards!
  • Rearrange a room
  • Paint a room for a fresh look and feel
  • Learn a new way to make an old recipe Did you know you can cook eggs in the microwave?
  • Reminisce through old photos
  • Create a photobook
  • Read a book
  • Listen to an audiobook
  • Construct an obstacle course using pillows, chairs, broomsticks, blankets, anything
  • Have races through the obstacle course
  • Listen to encouraging music
  • Play balloon volleyball
  • Make paper airplanes
  • Play a board game
  • Construct a racetrack with painter’s tape
  • Draw a picture of something you love to do
  • Draw a picture of something unique to this year in your life
  • Sword drills with a bible
  • Pretend you are royalty
  • Dress up nicely to stay home and practice uber fancy table manners (stick your pinky out when you hold a cup!)
  • LAUGH out loud!! Smile often 🙂
  • Memorize your favorite poem and practice saying it in different voices
  • Learn to solve a Rubik’s cube
  • Kids swim in the bathtub with swimsuits, googles and waterproof toys
  • Play an intrument
  • Make a drum set with unbreakable pots, pans, bowls or tupperware – experiment with different sounds
  • Make a stringed instrument with rubber bands
  • Read a book from every continent
  • Read your favorite old picture books (do you still memorize them?!)
  • What have you wanted to do ….. someday?…. Do it this summer!
  • Make homemade ice cream
  • Paint rocks
  • Campout with blankets and pillows to sleep in a different room
  • Take close up pictures of everyday objects in your house
  • Create “A Day In Your Life” album by taking pictures of everything for a day

Outside Activities – Practice “Leave No Trace.” Take Only Pictures and Leave Only Footprints

If you are outdoors during daytime hours, don’t forget to protect your skin by wearing protective clothing and/or sunscreen.

While you are driving to your next destination, play games in the car!

  • Walk around the block, neighborhood or local school track
  • Plant flower seeds – Zinnias are our favorites because they bloom beautifully, cut well and attract butterflies
  • Bike ride in town
  • Bike ride on a trail (public restrooms may be closed)
  • Hike a trail – they are everywhere when you learn to look (in a MAPS app, look for nature center or park)
  • Bring a bag with you to pick up garbage you see on your walk and help your community
  • Play in a creek – this is an absolute FAVORITE! Creeks are everywhere (have permission) so when you hike a trail and find a creek, stop and play in it. What can you find in it? Bring a net and magnifying glass. Make boats from sticks and have boat races. Use stones to build a dam or interesting structure. Climb a wall of mud and slide down it. Fun is all around you!
  • Beach ball volleyballplay-in-a-creek
  • Waterballoon battle
  • Support local restaurants by ordering to-go and have a picnic
  • Backyard camping
  • Geacache
  • Stargazing at night
  • Campfire, roast hot dogs and toast marshmallows
  • Tell scary or silly stories around campfire or candle if you can’t have a fire (practice fire safety)
  • Say hello to neighbors you’ve never talked to (with social distance)hammock
  • Fishing
  • Wash the Car
  • Read a book in a hammock
  • Find shapes in clouds
  • Listen to the breeze through the trees
  • Feed the birds then watch them (how may different varieties can you attract?)
  • Camera scavenger hunt – have your kids take pictures of anything they find interesting then sit down together and let them tell you about their pictures. It’s fascinating to see the world from their view. Make sure to have a high quality protective case before handing it over to your kids.
  • More nature activities for kids

Games without Screens

  • WAR card game is easy for even the younger ages
  • Go FISH
  • Hangman
  • “Try to guess” quotes from books or movies you’ve enjoyed as a family
  • I SPY something….
  • Alphabet soup games – Start with A and go through Z trying to think of things that start with the letter…
    • Animals
    • Boys names
    • Girls names
    • Instuments
    • Cars
    • Movies
    • Songs
    • Foods
  • Guess Who
  • Memory
  • Clue
  • Anything from Melissa and Doug
  • Puzzles
  • Carcassone
  • Charades
  • Pictionary

Activities with Screens

There are no shortage of games for kids to play but I try to find sources that bring some value to the fun.

  • Search “How to draw….” in YouTube to learn to draw anything you want
  • Zoom games
  • “Smarter Every Day” YouTube channel
  • Learn Our History to watch cartoons and learn all about US History (we stream just for the summer)
  • Operation Math or Math Evolve app to practice Math facts
  • Mindbenders apps to encourage deductive reasoning
  • Greek Latin Word Roots apps
  • Stack the States App
  • Stack the Countries App
  • Nitrotype to practice typing
  • Mekorama to practice spacial reasoning
  • Brain Out to practice thinking outside the box
  • Tinkercad to learn 3D Design
  • Chess online or app
  • Marco Polo to send video messages to family and friends from a safe social distance
  • Audible App
  • Bible App for Kids
  • Monument app for 3D puzzles
  • Math Analogies for math challenges
  • Camping with Grandpa App
  • Starfall online or app for preschool to 2nd grade for learning through songs


Coronavirus, or COVID 19, has changed everything. What has not changed is my determination to learn as much as I can, love intentionally and live fully. I encourage you to do the same! Today you are making the memories of tomorrow!!!

I’d love to hear your experience. Leave your comments below 🙂