Crafts, Projects, Science Experiments, and Recipes for Moms with Young Children – Funology http://www.funology.com A huge collection of activities for moms with young, elementary school-aged kids Tue, 17 Oct 2017 20:38:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.5 The Rules are There for a Reason http://www.funology.com/the-rules-are-there-for-a-reason/ Wed, 04 Oct 2017 11:39:10 +0000 http://www.funology.com/?p=10416 At a recent scout meeting, we were talking about what it means to be a good citizen. We’ve had discussions on this topic in the past, but I wanted to give them an example that the scouts could really understand, so we played a little game.

I divided the kids into four teams, and whispered individual instructions to each team. I didn’t tell them what the game even was, or how it was played. There were a couple of balls and pool noodles placed in the middle of the yard. Here are the instructions I gave:

  • Team A: You can only kick the green ball and you can not use your hands.
  • Team B: You can only use your hands to touch the ball.
  • Team C: You can only use the foam noodles.
  • Team D: You can only kick the red ball, but you can’t score.

And then I shouted “Go!”

The kids were confused for a minute, because there were no goals and the objective wasn’t clear, but that didn’t stop them from bursting into action — some players were kicking the balls, some were trying to hit them with foam noodles, and others were grabbing the balls in their hands and running around. It didn’t take long for frustration to set in — pool noodles were used for tug of war contests, and the players who were picking up the balls and running away with them were yelled at by the other players. Everyone was pretty frustrated in mere minutes — it was perfect.

I blew the whistle and called them all in for a chat. Each team disclosed the rule they had been given, and everyone got a good laugh out of it. We talked about how rules and laws are important to not only games, but to life. Laws are necessary for a civilization to exist — without them, there is chaos, as we observed in our little game. If individual groups have their own set of rules to follow, things don’t work.

After our discussion, we decided to make up rules for a new game using the balls and foam noodles, and spent the next ten minutes playing “Noodle Ball.” The kids had a blast, and they went home that night with a real-world understanding of why rules exist — and as a bonus, we now have a new game to play at our future gatherings.

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2017 Back to School Sales Tax Holidays http://www.funology.com/back-to-school-sales-tax-holidays/ http://www.funology.com/back-to-school-sales-tax-holidays/#comments Fri, 14 Jul 2017 19:11:48 +0000 http://www.funology.com/?p=8834 back to school sales tax holidays

Summer is here, and back to school sales are back. In order to lighten the impact on our finances, many states offer tax-free holidays on school supplies, clothing, and sometimes more. We have created a list of participating states, and their sales tax holiday information. Check your state, and start saving!

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Alabama

Note: Not all counties participate in the holiday.

July 21-23, 2017

clothing less than $100 per item
computers less than $750 per item
school supplies less than $50 per item
books less than $30 per item

More information: http://www.revenue.alabama.gov/salestax/SalesTaxHol.cfm

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Arkansas

August 5-6, 2017

clothing and footwear less than $100 per item
clothing accessories and equipment less than $50 per item
school supplies; school art supplies; and school instructional materials.

More information: http://www.dfa.arkansas.gov

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Connecticut

August 20-26, 2017

clothing and footwear less than $100 per item

More information: http://www.ct.gov/

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Florida

August 4-6, 2017

school supplies less than $15 per item
clothing less than $60 per item
computers less than $750 per item

More information: http://floridarevenue.com/

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Iowa

August 4-5, 2017

clothing less than $100 per item

More information: https://tax.iowa.gov/iowas-annual-sales-tax-holiday

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Louisiana

August 4-5, 2017

All tangible personal property less than $2,500. Food and cars not included.

More information: http://www.revenue.louisiana.gov/

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Maryland

August 13-19, 2017

clothing & footwear less than $100 per item

More information: http://www.marylandtaxes.com/

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Mississippi

July 28-29, 2017

clothing & footwear less than $100 per item

More information: http://www.dor.ms.gov/

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Missouri

Note: certain cities, counties and districts have elected not to participate. Also, back to school sales tax holiday rates vary throughout the state.

August 4-6, 2017

clothing less than $100 per item
computers less than $1,500 per item
school supplies less than $50 per item
computer software less than $350 per item
computer peripheral devices less than $1,500 per item
graphing calculators less than $150 per item

More information: http://dor.mo.gov/business/sales/taxholiday/school/

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New Mexico

August 4-6, 2017

clothing less than $100 per item
computers less than $1,000 per item
computer equip. less than $500 per item
school supplies less than $30 per item
book bags and backpacks less than $100 per item

More information: http://www.tax.newmexico.gov/tax-holiday.aspx

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Ohio

August 4-6, 2017

clothing less than $75 per item
school supplies less than $20 per item

More information: http://www.tax.ohio.gov/sales_and_use/SalesTaxHoliday.aspx

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Oklahoma

August 4-6, 2017

clothing less than $100 per item

More information: http://www.tax.ok.gov/

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South Carolina

August 4-6, 2017

clothing
school supplies
computers
other

More information: https://dor.sc.gov/taxfreeweekend

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Tennessee

July 28-30, 2017

clothing less than $100 per item
school supplies less than $100 per item
computers less than $1,500 per item

More information: http://tn.gov/revenue/article/sales-tax-holiday

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Texas

August 11-13, 2017

clothing, backpacks and school supplies less than $100 per item

More information: https://comptroller.texas.gov/taxes/publications/98-490/

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Virginia

August 4-6, 2017

clothing less than $100 per item
school supplies less than $20 per item

More information: http://www.tax.virginia.gov/

 

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Good sports http://www.funology.com/good-sports/ http://www.funology.com/good-sports/#comments Thu, 11 May 2017 16:31:14 +0000 http://www.funology.com/?p=10402 Our youngest son plays on a soccer team that is blessed with two AMAZING coaches. These two dads give it their all, teaching skills and sportsmanship — I wouldn’t say they are easy on the kids, but they coach in a way that really brings out the best in every member of the team. They encourage teamwork above everything else — once, they even played a game where the coaches told the boys they didn’t want anyone trying for a goal in the entire first half, instead having them to work on their dribbling and passing skills. This took the emphasis off winning altogether, and the boys thrived as a result.

The team has 11 boys, and there have been only a few times where all 11 players didn’t show up for a game. The boys, and us parents, realize that they are part of something great, and they don’t want to miss out on the fun or let their fellow teammates down.

Last Saturday, it was a dreary drizzly day, and I didn’t look forward to getting out of my nice, warm bed, driving all the way out to the distant soccer fields, and sitting in a wet camp chair on the sidelines, but our son was up and excited to go. Our entire team of 11 boys showed up, but only four boys arrived for the opposing team. Rather than taking the easy win, and claiming a forfeit, our coaches offered up four of our players to the other team. The other team’s coach agreed, and so our coaches asked for volunteers. Every one of our players raised his hand, and the coach picked four — our best four players!

The game went on as scheduled and it was one of the most intense matchup I have seen our team play. The best part was seeing the kids on the other team, and how their gameplay rose with the addition of these skilled players. I know that this team had not won a game this season, which is probably why their attendance was so low, but man, did they play!

Our team lost that day. But they won in my book.

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Top 10 Tips for Traveling with Kids http://www.funology.com/top-10-tips-for-traveling-with-kids/ http://www.funology.com/top-10-tips-for-traveling-with-kids/#comments Mon, 24 Apr 2017 14:54:04 +0000 http://www.funology.com/?p=10391 Top 10 Tips for Traveling With Kids

Summer is almost here, and for many of us, that means hitting the road (or the skies) and going on vacation. Remember those carefree days B.C. (before children) when you could grab your keys and a cup of coffee, and jump in the car with no particular destination in mind? Well, those days are long gone! Now that you have kids, traveling becomes more complicated. Here are a few tips on how to make the family vacation more enjoyable for everybody:

1. You will be as happy as the most miserable person in your family. If you, or your kids, are unhappy, that feeling will be more contagious than ebola, and before you know it, everyone will be miserable. As the “grown up,” it’s your job to read the situation and do what you can to mitigate the impending crisis.

2. Know your kids’ limits. You know how much they can take before melting down, so don’t push it. See number one above.

3. Go to your separate corners. Not everyone in your family has the same interests, so try going your separate ways for an outing or two. Dad and sons might want to visit the historical battlefields, while mom and daughter go to the outlet mall. That’s okay! At the end of the day, you can tell each other about your adventures.

4. Eat well. Many of us think that since we’re on vacation, we have a license to eat all the garbage that we don’t regularly eat at home. Fast food is so much easier when you’re on the road, but you will pay the price. Sugar drinks and long car rides will be your doom.

5. Strollers are wonderful! I wept the day that my kids aged out of strollers, because that was the day that I had to physically carry all of their stuff, and them. I still try to convince my wife that we should bring a stroller on outings, even though our kids haven’t needed them for several years. Dads, hold onto those strollers for as long as you can!

6. Pay the man! At the start of your trip, give the kids their own money to spend. With that limit in mind, they will be much more careful about blowing it all at the first souvenir stand they encounter. This also teaches them about responsibility and budgeting.

7. Routines are key. Try to stick to your regular daily routines as much as possible. Eat meals, take naps, take baths, and go to bed at the same time as you do at home.

8. Remember that this is a vacation for your kids too. Your kids can go to a playground at home, why should you “waste” time at one on vacation? Well, visiting a new playground is as exciting to them as visiting a new museum may be to you.

9. Record those memories! A fun idea is to chronicle your vacation with plenty of photos, and a scrapbook of ticket stubs, brochures, postcards, and any other items you might find on your adventure.

10. S*&t happens. Be flexible. Set a good example. Make lemonade out of the lemons.

Traveling with kids can be awesome or awful, and it’s up to you to decide which kind of vacation you will have. I’m pretty sure no one has ever said it was easy, but you can do it, so get out there and make some memories!

What are some of your tips for keeping kids happy and entertained on road trips and long vacations? Leave a comment below.

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Play that funky music, Alexa http://www.funology.com/play-that-funky-music-alexa/ Wed, 19 Apr 2017 15:05:34 +0000 http://www.funology.com/?p=10377 amazon echo reviewOur family recently entered the Brave New World as we welcomed a new guest into our home. After helping out a family member with a big favor, we were surprised to receive an Amazon Echo in return — a device that I might never have bought myself, but I certainly wasn’t going to turn down a free one! After convincing Funology Mom that it would be incredibly rude to return a gift, I ripped open the box like a kid on Christmas morning.

Ooooh, shiny.

The innocuous black cylinder sits on the shelf until you summon it from the dark depths of the netherworld by calling out it’s name, “Alexa!” A blue light pulsates around the rim, like a Cylon raider. It sits, awaiting your command. Oh, the possibilities! What should I do with all this power?

“Alexa, how many quarts are in a gallon?”

The Echo is Amazon’s way of infiltrating every household in America and spying on our every move. While that may be true, it’s also a pretty nifty gadget! After a fairly simple set up process, the first thing I asked Alexa, the Echo’s female-voiced controller, was to play some music. She replied with some popular top 40 songs. The rest of the afternoon had me asking Alexa to play favorite songs, trying to stump her with some obscure ones, but she did an amazing job, except when I wanted to listen to brand new songs. If I had set up one of the music services like Spotify, I would have been able to listen to these songs, but the amount of available music with just Amazon Prime was pretty impressive.

The kids have put the poor device through the wringer, trying to confuse it with silly questions, but she keeps up amazingly well. Besides the music, my favorite feature is the weather report, which is pulled from local sources and is more accurate than the old thermometer on the porch. The Echo doesn’t do anything that you can’t already do on your other devices, it just makes it so much easier, and voice control is awesome!

This morning, the munchkins were a little sluggish while getting ready for school. “Alexa, play ‘Flight of the Valkyries,’ and turn up the volume.” That did the trick.

After seeing the Echo in action, it’s obvious that this is a game changer that will become a part of our daily life. This is some serious George Jetson kind of technology, and now, I’m trying to calculate how many Echo Dots we need to sprinkle around the rest of the house.  Oh, and I might need some of those smart lightbulbs, and maybe a smart garage door opener, and… uh oh.


This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you make a purchase using any of the links in the article.

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When did bowling become so cool? http://www.funology.com/when-did-bowling-become-so-cool/ Fri, 14 Apr 2017 15:04:38 +0000 http://www.funology.com/?p=10374 Bowling alleys sure have changed since I was a kid. They used to be smoke-filled, sticky places that smelled like beer and cautionary tales. The bowling alley is where you went to find a guy who knew a guy, if you know what I mean. Well, those days are long gone — today’s bowling alleys sport trendy names like Pinz and Bowlero, and offer menus prepared by renowned chefs.

The kids are off for Spring Break, and since the beach wasn’t in the cards for us this year, we have been trying to entertain them during their “stay-cation.” What’s the next best thing to the beach? Bowling of course!

The bowling scene has been going through a resurgence of late, and our local lanes were recently renovated. I’ve lived here long enough to remember visiting those same lanes every other Wednesday during high school P.E., where the biggest excitement came from learning who got caught smoking in the bathroom, so I was not prepared for what welcomed us when we entered this same bowling alley the other day — neon lights, wall-to-wall video screens, disco balls and music — who needs to bowl?

The best part of the new facility was the automatic scoring. Our waitress (yes, we had a waitress) entered our names into the computer and all our gutterballs were scored automatically on the giant screen for all to see. No more wrangling with the calculus required to score spares and strikes with a stubby pencil and paper.

The food was delicious, the ambience was exciting, the kids had a blast, and none of us needed a tetanus shot before we left.  A trip to the bowling alley is now one of my favorite family outings.

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Digging for fossils is a messy task http://www.funology.com/digging-for-fossils-is-a-messy-task/ Mon, 10 Apr 2017 15:00:50 +0000 http://www.funology.com/?p=10367 Spring break has arrived and since we’re sticking around the house for a stay-cation, Funology Mom and I have lined up some fun activities for the boys to keep them occupied while we try to get some work done. We ordered a couple of Smithsonian Diggin’ Up Dinosaurs T-Rex kits that looked like they would keep the kids busy for an hour or two, and set them off on a dinosaur and gemstone archaeological dig.

With some rudimentary tools, the boys chipped away at the blocks of “stone,” hoping to reveal the treasure, while the adults sat inside on our laptops taking care of business. After an hour of loud pounding and tapping sounds, the boys came crashing in to show us the spoils of all their hard work. Well, the boys found some plastic bones, but it was hard for me to focus on the bones since my eyes were drawn to their clothes. You would think they had just carved the statue of David by the amount of dust covering them from their head to toes.

We shuttled them back out to the deck where we found that it was even worse. It looked like a ten-pound sack of flour had been dropped from the upstairs window. The entire deck was coated in white powder, filling every nook and cranny. I simply cannot understand how so much dust came out of just two little blocks.

These mini excavation kits were certainly a lot of fun, but I’m so glad we set the kids up outside and not in the basement!

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Heads Up, Seven Up! http://www.funology.com/heads-up-seven-up/ Fri, 07 Apr 2017 15:53:09 +0000 http://www.funology.com/?p=10357 Heads Up, Seven Up! is a classic game played in classrooms for decades. You don’t need anything in order to play, just a large group of people. Here are the rules:

 

What You Need:

  • A classroom of kids
  • Teacher/leader

Instructions:

  1. The teacher chooses seven kids to come to the front of the class. These kids are “it.”
  2. The teacher says “Heads down, thumbs up, it’s time to play seven up!”
  3. The kids put their heads down on their desks, and put their thumbs up in front of them.
  4. The kids who are “it” then walk around the room, and each person who is “it” puts down the thumb of one person in the room.
  5. Once the activity is complete, the kids who are “it” go back to the front of the room.
  6. The teacher then says, “Heads up, seven up!”
  7. Everyone then raises their head and the kids whose thumbs were pressed stand up and have to guess who did it.
  8. If the person guesses correctly, they get to exchange places with the person who chose them. If they are incorrect, they sit back down.
  9. Once all of the guesses have taken place the game is repeated, starting with step 2.
  10. Remember, no peeking! Enjoy!
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Heads down, thumbs up, it’s time to play Seven up! http://www.funology.com/heads-down-thumbs-up-its-time-to-play-seven-up/ http://www.funology.com/heads-down-thumbs-up-its-time-to-play-seven-up/#comments Fri, 07 Apr 2017 15:21:26 +0000 http://www.funology.com/?p=10353 Way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I was a young boy in grade school and my classmates and I loved indoor recess. When it rained, we cheered, because those drenching skies meant we weren’t going out to the blacktop for recess, no, we were going to play the rare and wonderful game of Heads Up, Seven Up.

Oh, it was a glorious game of intrigue and danger. Who was it that smacked your thumb down with the force of a sledgehammer, or bent it backwards, straining those ligaments? By using your Sherlockian deductive reasoning, would you be able to find the perpetrator and take his or her place at the front of the class, thus allowing you to slam down some thumbs of your own?

With the rainy Spring season we have been having, my sons have had a lot of indoor recesses, but their classes spend that time reading, playing board games, and even video games! When did elementary schools start allowing Nintendos and iPhones in class?

I’ve tried to explain to the boys how they need to get their teachers onboard the Seven Up train, but they’re having none of it. I guess they need those thumbs for their video games. Sigh.

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To learn how to play this game, check out our page for Heads Up, Seven Up!

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It’s National Read A Roadmap Day! http://www.funology.com/its-national-read-a-roadmap-day/ Wed, 05 Apr 2017 19:23:53 +0000 http://www.funology.com/?p=10345 In this age of Google Maps and GPS-enabled cars, the basic skill of reading a map might seem unnecessary, but the reality is that you have to be able to read a map, or how will you ever get to Starbucks after the solar flares knock out our satellites?!?

Kids love to read maps — maps lead to buried treasure and new worlds! Map reading is an important life skill, and it’s also a fun one to teach to your little ones. Children can start to comprehend what a map represents around the age of 7 or 8. You could make a map of your backyard, and help them to relate the markings on the drawing to the physical counterparts in the yard. Show them which direction is North, South, East and West, by showing them a compass rose and how it relates to the path of the sun. Once you have the basic concepts down, try going on a scavenger hunt throughout your house and yard.

For older kids, you might go beyond the backyard and into the neighborhood or on a hike in the woods. When you go on vacation, you can show them on a map where they will go and explain distances in relative terms — “school is five miles away, Disney is 500 miles.”

Maps are an incredible tool, and being able to read one and comprehend its elements is a valuable skill, so help your child be prepared for the onslaught of those solar flares, and teach him how to read a map today!

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