Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

10 Genius Ways to Make Your Kids Love Reading

Thursday, November 7th, 2019

10 Genius Ways to Make Your Kids Love Reading from MomAdvice.com

 

Do you have a reluctant reader? Julie joins the blog today to help our children develop into kids that, truly, enjoy reading.

Helping your kids develop reading skills is important, but encouraging your children to be the kind of kids that CHOOSE to read is even more important..

These creative solutions will help you choose books your child will never want to stop reading, help them pick the right reading materials that they will be excited about, help you learn to model that behavior, and (of course) make reading to your child a priority.

Be sure to scroll down for all of our suggestions on how to teach your children to read, picture book suggestions, and even more tips on books to add to your home library.

 

From our monthly contributor, Julie!

Over the course of my teaching career I’ve given a lot of thought to helping kids become better readers.

I’ve tried to figure out what helps some kids love reading and what leaves some kids dreading books.

This list of 10 ways to encourage your child to read at home is the result of my experiences with teaching reading and talking to hundreds of teachers, parents and students.

When we can provide ways for kids to see the benefits and excitement of reading, we can create lifelong readers.

10 Genius Ways to Make Your Kids Love Reading from MomAdvice.com

10 Genius Ways to Make Your Kids Love Reading

Pick Up Your Own Book

I interviewed a couple hundred parents as I put together this list and one thing really stood out to me: Parents who read, raise children who read. Oftentimes, when kids see parents make reading a priority, they are more inclined to make it a priority. I could give you quite a few cliches about this, but it really comes down to making sure you practice what you preach.

Listen to a podcast.

I listen to a lot of podcasts. When I listen, I get excited about new trends, products, and people in the industries that interest me. The great news is that there are also great podcasts for kids about reading designed to get them excited about new books, introduce them to authors and discover new genres. Here are some of my favorite recommendations.

Be creative about what they can read

This year I had a student who was determined to beat his brother at Minecraft. So he decided to check out a Minecraft book at the library, but stopped himself because he wasn’t sure if the book would count as reading since it didn’t seem like a real book. I assured him that this book very much counts because one of the reasons people read is to learn new information and this book looked like the perfect way for him to do just that. Just like adults have varied reading interests, we should encourage kids to read a variety of texts as well…books, magazines, blogs, graphic novels.

Go to a Children’s Book Festival

One way to help build excitement is to head out to a Children’s Book Festival. Meeting authors, seeing other kids who love reading, finding new books to read and experiencing a fun reading atmosphere can help kids see reading as an enjoyable experience rather than as a dreaded chore.

Put reading on the schedule…and protect it.

One parent I interviewed said they schedule in family reading time just like they would a sports practice. The family often reads for more than the scheduled time, but they have found that having that dedicated time on the calendar helps them make reading a priority instead of just giving it leftover time.

Put down the devices

It can be difficult to focus on reading when the tv is on, the gaming systems are fired up, and various other devices are in our hands. Set aside time in the day for some tech free time and pick up a book instead. I’m always amazed how much kids enjoy device free time…even if they don’t think they will!

Read aloud to your kids

I once had a 4th grader boy tell me how much he missed having his mom read a chapter each night to him from a book. When I let his mom know she excitedly selected a new book and started the habit back up. Many kids love being read to and reading a book aloud together can be a great way to encourage the love of literacy and bond between caregiver and child.

Choose a family book and have everyone read it

How fun for kids when they know they aren’t reading a book alone, but can call up grandma, an uncle, or a cousin to talk about the book they are reading. This is another opportunity to make reading more fun instead of something kids feel obligated to check off the list.

YA Book of the Month Club

Book subscription boxes

Do a quick online search and you’ll find loads of book-themed subscription boxes for every age. Building excitement and anticipation for books helps kids think of books as less of a chore and more as something exciting.

Did you know that Book of the Month now has a YA Club? This would make such a fun holiday gift for a reader in your life.

Join now and get your first box for $9.99 (or $5 off) when you use the code BFF5 at checkout!
 

Join a book club for kids…or start one!

Many adults find it helpful to have accountability by reading in a book club.

This means someone is going to check to see if they finished the book and they’ll have someone to discuss the book with if they have questions or thoughts.

Kids also like being able to talk about the books they are reading and a book club for kids is the perfect place to do that.

If you can’t find any book clubs near you, consider starting one of your own.

Have your child pick out a book, invite a few friends to read the book with them and then gather together with snacks to talk about the book they read.

About Julie-

Having taught in both California and Pennsylvania and everything from 3rd to 8th grade, this year Julie is teaching 3rd grade at an elementary school in Southern California. She enjoys helping her students fall in love with reading and reading during the school day is a big priority. Julie loves traveling in her free time and always makes time to pop into local bookshops when she travels. When she’s not reading or teaching, she loves running, cupcakes and Christmas. You can find her blogging too over on her blog, Girl On the Move.

This post contains affiliate links

Love this article? Here are some other great articles on getting kids to love reading!

Book Series for Kids Who Love Harry Potter book series for kids who love harry potter

The Best Back to School Books for Kids the best back to school books for kids (from kindergarten to middle school)

How to Homeschool Child with Special Needs from MomAdvice.com homeschooling a child with special needs

8 Middle School Series Books to Get Your Child Excited About Reading from MomAdvice.com teacher-approved middle series books to get your child excited about reading again

Do you have any genius tips to make your kids excited to read? We would love to hear them!

10 Genius Ways to Make Your Kids Love Reading from MomAdvice.com

8 TV Shows with Hilarious Halloween Episodes

Monday, October 28th, 2019

8 TV Shows with Hilarious Halloween Episodes from MomAdvice.com

 

Here’s a list of everything you need to stream on television for Halloween! These 8 tv shows, with hilarious Halloween episodes, prove that Halloween can be funny (and not spooky). Be sure to pin this post so you can remember this list of Halloween episodes, for your family,  every year.

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

When I was little I started having nightmares. My mom eventually realized they were caused by something she’d allowed me to watch on television. The terrifying show? Scooby Doo.

I’m no longer scared by a silly cartoon, but I’ll admit I could only watch one season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer before I got too scared. (Yes, I know it’s so fake! Yes, I agree it’s super campy! I know!)

I don’t see horror movies in the theater, I don’t read Stephen King novels, and when our local amusement park starts playing its “fright night” commercials every year I lose my mind because HOW DARE THEY.

Suffice it to say, I’m not really here for the scary parts of Halloween. But the candy and costumes?

Oh yeah, that’s my jam.

I love dressing up my kids and seeing other kids’ clever and cute costumes. Sometimes I even dress up with them.

And, obviously, I’m in it for the candy.

And the pumpkins.

And don’t forget It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

The Peanuts gang waiting for the Great Pumpkin is, by far, our family favorite for Halloween entertainment.

(A close second for me is the “Monster Mash” song, which — for some reason — never fails to make me laugh.

And sing along.

Much to my kids’ dismay.)

But luckily for scaredy cat couch potatoes like me, that’s not the only Halloween fun to be found on TV.

To hear Mary and Amy talk about Halloween in pop culture, listen to season 2, episode 17 of The Couch with Mary Carver.

In case you’re like me and looking for something to watch that’s more silly than spooky, I’ve got some recommendations.

8 TV Shows with Hilarious Halloween Episodes

 

These shows have aired several Halloween episodes, so you have plenty to choose from!

Brooklyn 9-9 Halloween Episodes List

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Each year’s Halloween Heist is crazier and funnier than the last, but season 5 takes the cake (and our hearts). Stream on Hulu.

  • Halloween – Season 1, Episode 6
  • Halloween 2 – Season 2, Episode 4
  • Halloween, Part III – Season 3, Episode 5
  • Halloween IV – Season 4, Episode 5
  • HalloVeen – Season 5, Episode 4

Modern Family Halloween Episodes List

Modern Family

If ever there was a family that goes all out for Halloween, the Pritchetts and Dunphys are it! Stream on Hulu.

  • Halloween – Season 2, Episode 6
  • Open House of Horrors – Season 4, Episode 5
  • Halloween 3: AwesomeLand – Season 6, Episode 6
  • Halloween IV: Revenge of Rod Skyhook – Season 8, Episode 5
  • It’s the Great Pumpkin, Phil Dunphy – Season 9, Episode 5
  • Good Grief – Season 10, Episode 5

Parks & Rec Halloween Episode List

Parks and Recreation

Of course the show that introduced us to new holidays including Galentine’s Day and Treat Yourself Day would have fun Halloween episodes! (My favorite is the one where Ben just about breaks Leslie’s heart and ours, but then totally redeems himself. It’s the best kind of Halloween surprise!) Stream on Netflix.

  • Greg Pikitis – Season 2, Episode 7
  • Meet N Greet – Season 4, Episode 5
  • Halloween Surprise – Season 5, Episode 5

New Girl Halloween Episodes

New Girl

The New Girl gang threw a lot of parties in their loft, including on Halloween. But I think I love the one at the haunted house, where the relationship drama is scarier than the special effects, even more. Stream on Netflix.

  • Halloween – Season 2, Episode 6
  • Keaton – Season 3, Episode 6

How I Met Your Mother Halloween Episodes List

How I Met Your Mother

Who commits to a bit better than this gang? Nobody, I tell you! Ted’s search for “the slutty pumpkin” (not to mention their costumes through the years) never fails to make me laugh! Stream on Hulu.

  • The Slutty Pumpkin – Season 1, Episode 6
  • Canning Randy – Season 6, Episode 7
  • The Slutty Pumpkin Returns – Season 7, Episode 8

Community Halloween Episodes List

Community

The later seasons of Community were so disappointing, but those early seasons were must-see TV for me. And their Halloween episodes? Well, they brought us Britta’s squirrel costume, Jeff Winger in eyeliner, and Abed as Batman. Who can argue with that? Stream on Hulu.

  • Introduction to Statistics – Season 1, Episode 7
  • Epidemiology – Season 2, Episode 6
  • Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps – Season 3, Episode 5

The Office Halloween Episodes List

The Office

When a regular day at this office is so crazy, you know Halloween is going to be totally bonkers! Stream on Netflix.

  • Halloween – Season 2, Episode 5
  • Diwali – Season 3, Episode 6
  • Employee Transfer – Season 5, Episode 6
  • Murder – Season 6, Episode 10
  • Costume Contest – Season 7, Episode 6
  • Spooked – Season 8, Episode 5
  • Here Comes Treble – Season 9, Episode 5

Frasier Halloween Episodes List

Frasier

Of course our favorite stuffy Seattle-ites would throw a fancy Halloween costume ball. And of course misunderstandings and laughter are aplenty! Stream on Netflix.

  • Halloween – Season 5, Episode 3
  • Room Full of Heroes – Season 9, Episode 6
  • Tales from the Crypt – Season 10, Episode 5

Mary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She lives for good books, spicy queso, and television marathons, but she lives because of God’s grace. Mary writes with humor and honesty about giving up on perfect and finding truth in unexpected places on her blog,MaryCarver.com. She is the author of Fast Talk & Faith: A 22-Day Devotional Inspired by Gilmore Girls and co-author of Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts. She is also a regular contributor to incourage.me and MothersofDaughters.com. Mary and her husband live in Kansas City with their two daughters.

What are your favorite Halloween TV episodes?

To hear Mary and Amy talk about Halloween in pop culture, listen to season 2, episode 17 of The Couch with Mary Carver.

this post contains affiliate links

Love this post? Here are 4 other Halloween projects you might appreciate!

How to Make a Minecraft Steve Costume from MomAdvice.com diy a minecraft costume for halloween

Doughnut Hole Ghost Cake doughnut hole ghost cake (no baking required!)

how to make glow in the dark jell-o how to make glow-in-the-dark jell-o

19 thrillers to keep you up all night

Happy Halloween!!

The Best Halloween Episodes to Stream on Television from MomAdvice.com

 

 

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Earn Money Investing in Women With Ellevest

Thursday, October 24th, 2019

Earn Money Investing In Women With Ellevest

 

Are you looking for easy ways to earn extra cash for your family? Today I’m sharing how easy it is to invest in YOU with an incredible robo advisor tool. Ellevest is committed to helping you achieve your financial goals by investing in yourself and in women-owned businesses. 

This is the second challenge in our Passive Income for Busy Moms series. Be sure to visit our Passive Income Ideas for Moms Series all year long as I challenge myself to find new ways to earn money for our family.

Does the idea of investing in yourself feel intimidating?

You aren’t alone.

I have always been intimidated by this process and, honestly, have never invested in my own retirement.  Although we have been aggressively putting money away in my husband’s retirement account, I started thinking about how nice it would be to take some of my own salary and start investing in myself.

The thing is… where do you even start?

I spent weeks and weeks researching different companies, reading reviews, and watching interviews with representatives from different investment companies. It is through that research that I stumbled on the most incredible investment company that makes it UNBELIEVABLY easy to start investing in all of your financial goals.

Honestly, I am so  excited about this and can’t believe how sleekly automated and easy this tool is.

First of all, are you unfamiliar with how robo-advisors work?

I know I was!

I will walk you through everything I have learned this month and even share $20 to start investing in YOU today!

Also, for the record, this is a REAL review of Ellevest based on my first month with them. Many of the reviews I read NEVER had a REAL PERSON using Ellevest for investing- they just seemed to be in it for affiliate money.

Anything I share with you, through this series, are things that I’m exploring right along with you. It is my promise to you.

Earn Money With Ellevest

Earn Money Investing in Women With Ellevest

What The Heck is a Robo Advisor?

Robo advisors (also known as automated investing services or online advisors) use computer algorithms and advanced software to create an investment portfolio for you. They are referred to as robo because this is mostly an automated process that requires little to no human interaction.

This is a really great way to get started with entry-level investing because everything is done automatically for you and you don’t have to spend a lot of time babysitting your portfolio.

These robo-advisor tools can vary based upon their platform that they offer and what the goals of your portfolio are.

The reason I settled on Ellevest is because it is a goal-oriented program (something I find very attractive!), it is user-friendly, and their impact portfolios are pretty darn awesome.

What is Ellevest And Why Did You Pick It?

(Head HERE if you just want your $20 for your free Ellevest account!!)

As I explained, I did a ton of research and spent many nights reading article after article on different investment tools. The idea behind this series was that it would be easy to implement and that it wouldn’t require a ton of time for a busy mom.

It is through this research that I stumbled upon this interview with Sallie Krawcheck on The Daily Show.

I really encourage you to take the time to watch it because it does a much better job than I ever could on just how important it is to support women in business and why this company is pretty groundbreaking.

As you can see, this lady is a real bada$$ and wants to do a better job representing women in the financial industry. This approach to simplify investing makes long term goals simple and straightforward.

From the Ellevest site, “Co-founder and CEO, Sallie Krawcheck, realized the investing industry has been, frankly, “by men, for men” — and has historically kept women from achieving their financial goals. Sallie has made it her life’s mission to unleash women’s financial power and get them invested in their biggest goals.”

How Much Money Do I Need to Open an Ellevest Account?

Honestly, you can open an account and invest zero dollars.

Of course, that’s how many you will make back too.

In all seriousness, you determine how much you want to invest to start and then Ellevest offers up how much you should regularly be depositing to reach your goals, within your desired timespan.

They also understand that women also need other types of shorter term or once-in-a-lifetime type of investments. They create this investment plan and then offer options for other goals based accounts.

Some of the offerings are funds to start a business, once-in-a-lifetime splurges, retirement, kids, buying a home, and emergency funds.

How Does Ellevest Determine My Investment Goals & Strategies?

Ellevest uses a algorithm to calculate financial goal targets to meet your specific needs, including a larger retirement target amount for your potentially longer lifespan (ladies, we need to save MORE because of that!).

Did you know that women retire with two-thirds as much money men do, but we live six to eight years longer?!

These are the circumstances that are factored in with a company that understands women.

Once they have calculated the amount you should aim for, they suggest how much you should contribute in order to get there based on your financial profile, a gender-specific salary curve, and your target horizon.

This is processed through a Monte Carlo simulation.

What the heck is Monte Carlo simulation?

My thoughts exactly.

Monte Carlo simulation is a forward-looking, computer-based analysis in which they run recommended portfolios and savings rates through hundreds of different economic scenarios, to pick the best one for you.

Earn Money Supporting Women With Ellevest

How Is Ellevest Supporting Women?

Is it just me, or are you as jaded as I am when people make broad claims about how they support women?

In this case, they REALLY do.

A lot of people love to aim products towards women, but really don’t stand behind that message.

This is where my real love for the company is…they tailor a portfolio that helps YOU support WOMEN IN BUSINESS! 

Is that not the coolest?

They settled on three criteria of support that I think are really amazing (not to mention hiring female investors to work on your accounts):

WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP

Funds investing in companies with more women leaders and policies that advance women.

SUSTAINABLE, ACCOUNTABLE COMPANIES

Funds investing in companies working to meet  for sustainability and ethical practices.

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

Funds providing loans to support women-owned businesses and companies that provide community services – child education, performing arts, and housing and care for seniors and individuals in need.

How Hard is It to Create An Account?

This was incredibly easy to set up and it all made sense to me because of its goal driven platform.

They use a tool, that my hubby immediately recognized as a TypeForm template, that I found very easy to use.

How to Set Goals With Ellevest

You answer some really basic questions, like in the screenshot above, and that helps you see how much you need to put away each month to reach your goals.

Ellevest Real Review

Once it has this information, you can set up how much you want to start putting away into your accounts automatically.

Just like a withdrawal you would have for a bill, this takes out the payments you set up monthly.

You can also add additional money into your account and there is no minimum balance.

If you earned money from one of the other passive income ideas I’m sharing, for example, you could put this unexpected money away for yourself to earn a little more.

How Much Does Ellevest Cost?

This tool is much cheaper than hiring a financial advisor because more personalized services can charge you a whopping 1% annually.

With Ellevest, your annual management fee is .25%.

If you saved $5,000, for example, you would pay $12.50 for the entire year. 

They do offer a more expensive premium account that allows you to receive coaching and some other benefits.

For that account though, you need a minimum private wealth investment of $50,000.

Is Investing Money With Ellevest Risky?

Investing does come with risks and it is important to understand what those risks are.

I found this article to be very helpful in explaining what risks might be involved.

Why Did You Start This a Month Before Me?

With something like investing, I thought it was important to do the entire process so that I could be honest about how easy or hard it is. I put in $2,000 into a wealth-building account.

Real Ellevest Earnings

This is my current status for potential earnings!

Of course, investing is a long haul game, but it is fun to see that needle shifting in my favor a bit.

Should I Be Investing If I’m Worried About a Recession?

Some experts are saying that a financial recession is looming.

Here’s the thing, I am going with these opinions and agreeing with the experts on this one. I do believe we will be facing another recession soon.

I think this is a valid concern and something that we all should be thinking about as we make choices with our money.

The most important thing you can do is to prepare an emergency safety net so that you can weather the economic changes.

The second most important thing?

 Pay off your highest interest debts NOW. 

If you need another gentle nudge, you might enjoy my book! (I’m pretty proud of it!)

I think this article does a really great job at explaining how to invest if you are worried about another recession.

The biggest thing I am learning from wealth-building is that it is REALLY important to keep things diversified.

Never put your eggs into one basket.

Earn Money Supporting Women With Ellevest

Join My November Passive Income Challenge

If you think you would like to start investing in yourself, here is $20 to put towards your account.

Ellevest gives their customers an invitation code (that’s what I’m sharing) so they can put $20 in their account and they also give the referrer $20 for sharing about the service.

Your challenge is to set up an account and invest in yourself. If you only have $5 a month, that is $5 more towards reaching a financial goal FOR YOU.

Start brainstorming with your family about what would benefit you the most right now.

Putting your savings and investments on automatic makes it easier to stay on track with your financial goals.

Please note, this Ellevest affiliate program is not associated with being a blogger.

Each customer receives a unique code so if you love it as much as me, you can share your own code with your friends and start putting away MORE money in your account.

Also, let it be known, although I love the focus on women, men are more than welcome to invest too.

If your guy is as awesome as mine, he will love putting his money towards companies that are helping women level the financial playing field.

Love this post? Here are a few others that I think you might love too!

Passive Revenue Ideas for Busy Moms from MomAdvice.com passive revenue ideas for busy moms

Earn Money With Rakuten Cash Back Offers from MomAdvice.com earn money through rakuten cash back

Real Rakuten Results Cash Back Earnings Report from MomAdvice.com do you really earn money with rakuten?

I’d love to hear what has been your experience with Ellevest or with using a robo-advisor for your investments? How do you make investing in yourself and your retirement a priority?

this post contains affiliate links

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What I Earned From One Month Using the Rakuten App

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

 

Real Rakuten Results Cash Back Earnings Report from MomAdvice.com

Are you looking for an easy way to earn cash back or even double cash back on your purchases? Today I’m sharing what I really earned through the Rakuten app as we explore passive income money making opportunities for moms. Be sure to visit our Passive Income Ideas for Moms Series all year long as I challenge myself to find new ways to earn money for our family.

I can’t believe all of the enthusiasm and excitement for this new Passive Income Ideas for Moms series that I have started. It has meant so much to me to have your support and have you join me in these challenges. It’s also such a joy to have some of our older readers back now that I’m exploring another frugality series. 

I am so happy to have you here and helping you explore new ways to make money for your family.

If you are new to the series, I am challenging myself to find new ways to make money for our family and taking you on the journey with me. I started with learning about the Rakuten app and shared how you could use this too as you were shopping.

Now that I have the first month under my belt, I’m sharing what I thought about my month with this app.

What I Earned From One Month Using the Rakuten App

Real Rakuten Cash Back Results

What is Rakuten?

Rakuten (formerly Ebates) is a site (and app) that gives you cash back on on qualifying purchases. If you didn’t join me last month, simply use this referral link to receive your first $10 to shop with and to get began earning your own cash back rewards.

Rakuten is headquartered in Tokyo and is a a Japanese electronic commerce and online retailing company. The company handles a lot of different types of services like Rakuten Kobo Ebooks, Rakuten Credit Cards, Rakuten Super Points (which include member rewards), Rakuten Viber, and so much more.

Oh, and in case you didn’t know how to say the name of this service company, the Rakuten marketing team handled that with this clever commercial.

Spoiler alert: I was saying it the WRONG WAY all month long.

Was It Easy to Earn Money Through Rakuten?

Although I had been with Ebates (years ago!), I had completely forgotten to use this for my purchases. Downloading the app was super easy and it was also very easy to install the extension that allowed me to see what the cash back rewards were as well as any coupons that might be available for my purchases.

What Was the Outcome of the Cash Back Rewards?

Although I had planned to make a few purchases for the exterior of our home, we ended up doing some unexpected travel and that meant that no one was here to purchase or install these items. I have a feeling these next few months will be much more rewarding because of these home purchases as well as our upcoming holiday gifts we will be buying.

I am not a big spender so the results on the cash back rewards matched my spending habits.

Here are some creative cash back rewards though that I did receive:

Rakuten Real Results

We Got Cash Back on Our Food Delivery– Rakuten gives you cash rewards for shopping through DoorDash so I used the app for our family’s sushi delivery. Since I was a new customer, I was able to have the delivery fee waived, had a great coupon code, and also got $2.67 back on our dinner delivery.

I Got Cash Back on Our Day Pass to Great Wolf Lodge– $2.25 was deposited in my Rakuten account after snagging day passes for us to hit the water park over our fall break.

I Got Cash Back on my Old Navy Purchase– I ordered a few sweaters, for fall, and ended up getting $1.85 back on my purchase.

I Also Have Cash Back Pending on Travel Expenses- Since Rakuten was affiliated with Expedia, I booked my airline ticket through them so I could get the cash rewards. I also secured a Groupon, that is in processing, so I’m waiting for those pending charges to go through.

Airline tickets, for example, take six weeks to process so you don’t see immediate results.

As you can see, it was not an exciting month of purchases, BUT the point was to earn money on things I was already buying and not buy things just to buy things.

Overall, the total earned through my shopping was a mere $6.77.

If you are a big shopper, the potential for rewards would be much greater.

I have now trained myself to do targeted shopping and to check for double cash back rewards. 

It only takes a minute, but it is more money back in my pocket by being strategic with this app.

Rakuten Affiliate Results

Did You *REALLY* Earn Money on Referrals Through Rakuten?

I am really surprised that Rakuten does not have a cap on how many referrals you can cash in on. I know most of you were already signed up with this company so I didn’t think this was going to be a big earner.

It’s important to know that you don’t actually earn the referral cash unless the person spends $25 using the app. I had a lot of people sign up, but many who have not made their first purchase (21 pending referrals are still not activated). These just stay in a holding pattern until they make their first $25 purchase.

I still ended up referring 11 new people to the shopping app who actually made their qualifying $25 purchase. This yielded a $275 profit in my account that will be applied to my next big fat check.

I did share that I understand that I have an unfair advantage with this because of the website referrals. Even if I didn’t though, I can see how sharing your referral link, especially as people begin holiday shopping, can yield holiday cash for anyone. They offer easy ways to share on Facebook, text, and email. 

While many affiliate programs are limited to bloggers, I love that this one is open to anyone who wants to share and that is a very high return on sharing a link on social media.

Rakuten App Screen

Will You Continue Using Rakuten For Shopping?

These are one month explorations because I may or may not feel like these efforts are worth it.

With this one, I actually do plan to make this a regular part of my spending routines. It was so darn easy to use and I loved their easy way of finding additional coupons for my purchases.

It wasn’t completely seamless because two of my purchases didn’t go through and I thought I wouldn’t receive my cash back credit.

I emailed the help desk a copy of my receipts and the deposit was quickly processed.

Overall, I’m really impressed with the customer service and the ease of the app.

I also realized that I had pending cash (from 2008!!!) that they still had in their system to credit me. That means that my actual check is $321.77, but isn’t actually reflective of my October earnings.

Grand Total Earnings for October: $281.77

NOT. TOO. SHABBY.

I will continue to keep you updated on totals as we go through this year.

Tomorrow I will be sharing with you a bigger November challenge that might get you thinking about how you are investing in yourself. I’m a month ahead of you, this time, so I can make sure that I could fully check out this next passive income builder for you and make sure it is worth your time.

See you on the blog tomorrow for our November Passive Income For Moms Challenge!!

Don’t forget to follow along on our Passive Income Challenge series. You can head here to see all the posts in one place. Did you sign up for Rakuten or start using it again for cash back rewards? What was your experience with this passive income money maker for October?

This post contains affiliate links. 

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8 Series to Get Your Middle Grade Child Excited about Reading

Wednesday, October 9th, 2019

8 Middle School Series Books to Get Your Child Excited About Reading from MomAdvice.com

Are you looking for the next great middle school book series? Check out these incredible middle school reading series recommendations from a teacher. These great books will get your middle grade child reading again. I can’t wait to check out these books for my own daughter from this teacher-approved book list for young readers.

One of the things I love about reading is getting to know a character and then following along with their lives. In my years of teaching I have noticed that kids are exactly the same! Once kids connect with a character, or group of characters, they want to keep on reading all about their favorite new fictional friend. After talking with many of my students I have put together a list of eight high interest series that will help your middle grade child get excited about reading. 

From our monthly contributor, Julie!

8 Series for Your Middle Grade Child

Realistic Fiction

Hank Zipzer

Hank Zipzer– Written by Henry Winkler, this hilarious series is inspired by his experiences growing up with dyslexia. Since Hank has learning differences, this series can be a great one for students who struggle in school. As a bonus, if your younger kids want to join in on Hank’s adventures, they can start with the Here’s Hank< prequel series.

My Life Series

My Life– Encourage kids to put down their devices and pick up a book that lets kids experience the chance of a lifetime to be a stunt double, gamer, ninja, meme and more. Derek, the main character, has been labeled a “reluctant reader” so this is another great series for struggling readers.

Graphic Novels

HiLo Series

HiLo– Fun series about friendship and adventure with a few wacky robot-fighting escapades. This series will hook kids from book one!

The Last Kids on Earth– There’s zombies. And monsters. And epic adventures. Need I say more?!?

Historical Fiction

Ranger in Time Series

Ranger in Time– For kids that love animals, this series is perfect. Ranger is a time-traveling golden retriever who travels to the Oregon Trail, Ancient Rome, the South Pole, the beaches of Normandy, and many more important places in history. 

I Survived Series

I Survived– Another series that takes kids to important events in history to let them vividly experience these events. With books dedicated to the sinking of the Titanic, Pearl Harbor, Gettysburg, Pompeii and more, this series brings terrifying historical events to life.

Fiction

Mysterious Benedict Society

Mysterious Benedict Society– Join four children on a secret, undercover mission at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened. Filled with lots of puzzles and mysteries this is the perfect series for a higher-level middle-grade reader.

Treehouse Series

Treehouse– Who wouldn’t want to live in a 13-storey, or 26-storey, or even 117-storey treehouse?!? Follow along with Andy and Terry as they write stories and live in a treehouse with a bowling alley, secret rooms, swinging vines and more.

About Julie

Having taught in both California and Pennsylvania and everything from 3rd to 8th grade, this year Julie is teaching 3rd grade at an elementary school in Southern California. She enjoys helping her students fall in love with reading and reading during the school day is a big priority. Julie loves traveling in her free time and always makes time to pop into local bookshops when she travels. When she’s not reading or teaching, she loves running, cupcakes and Christmas.  You can find her blogging too over on her blog, Girl On the Move.

Note from Amy:

Isn’t this middle school series list amazing? My kids have loved so many of these along with their favorite Harry Potter novels and the oh-so-reliable James Patterson series books. 

Recently, my daughter was lucky enough to hear Kwame Alexander speak and she was SO inspired by his visit that she couldn’t stop talking about him (or his writing). 

In many ways, middle school is the worst, but there are also still those amazing little glimmers that I love to catch, especially when we are talking about middle schoolers reading books. I hope you can check out these middle grade books for your child and I’m really grateful to have Julie guiding us through her real life experience with teaching and teaching kids to love reading. Now I will have to patiently wait for her high school recommendation list! 

This post contains affiliate links

Looking for more great parenting reads? Here are three others that I think you will love!

Book Series for Kids Who Love Harry Potter book series for kids who love harry potter

The Best Back to School Books for Kids the best back to school books for kids (from kindergarten to middle school)

How to Homeschool Child with Special Needs from MomAdvice.com homeschooling a child with special needs

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Passive Income Ideas for Busy Moms

Sunday, September 22nd, 2019

Passive Revenue Ideas for Busy Moms from MomAdvice.com

What if I told you that you could be earning thousands by learning about passive income streams? This year we are exploring the best side hustles to help you earn money for a better financial future. Be sure to bookmark this page to learn ways I’m making extra money for my family. 

Many years ago, I was featured on a couple of talk shows to chat about my experience with work-at-home scams. I just couldn’t believe my luck. This broke Midwest woman would be ON TV to teach others how to avoid scams.

Here’s the thing.

I thought that I was going to be the EXPERT.

When the segment began, I quickly realized that I was the work-at-home VICTIM instead.

I Want To Help You Because I Was Scammed

The truth was, I had been a victim of a work-at-home scam and I was really ashamed of it.

When I was a brand new mom , I desperately wanted to find a way to stay home with my kids. This desperation is why I signed up for a UPS & Federal Express refund software software program. With this purchase, I was promised dozens of dollars. I was so excited to get my business started and unlock this secret wealth with only $69 of software!

Frankly, I was surprised no one else had discovered it.

I was sold a software packaged that claimed to track packages to see if they were late for delivery or not.

Did you know that if a package arrives late for delivery, that you are entitled for a full refund?

According to the software company, many businesses send out large shipments, but don’t ever track their packages.

All I had to do was call, on behalf of my clientele, and they would receive a fifty percent refund.

The other fifty percent would go in your pocket for your good detective work.

Obviously, these people will agree to this because this is money that they wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Did you not know that you can make $50-75 an hour from the comfort of your own home just by tracking packages?

Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

First of all, neither Federal Express nor UPS is affiliated with any of these software programs.

Secondly, they also had every right to refuse the refund to you. After all, you were just a third-party who did not pay for the shipping in the first place.

UPS online tracking system can only be used by the sender of the package or by the recipient, making my software absolutely worthless.

This tracking software could not be for someone’s commercial gain unless UPS openly authorized it. To top it off, UPS prohibits any uses of automated software to access its online shipping-related systems.

Therefore, the software you would be using would be deemed illegal.

I had also been under the assumption that the company would provide a list of people to contact to make this magical money.

What they actually did was provide was a list of categories of businesses to target, like the health industry or retail.

Then, apparently, you just sit back and watch people chomping at the bit to get this amazing service.

Who in the world would ever give out any of this private tracking information on their packages to a complete stranger though?

The answer to that, of course, would be no one in their right mind.

This was my embarrassing story for the world and I’m so thankful I can tell a different one now.

Passive Income Ideas for Busy Moms from MomAdvice.com

Passive Income for Busy Moms Series

If you haven’t read my book, you might not be aware that our family became riddled with debt after the dot com bomb happened. My husband’s job loss found us deep in debt and struggling to even pay for our groceries. You can read a little more about our story in this feature in Redbook!

Financial struggles, honestly, ended up being the hardest and best thing that I could have been given.

Although being broke was so damn difficult it ended up strengthening our marriage and providing a new job for me.

During that challenging chapter, I tried so many crazy things to make our family money. In the true height of my hustling days, I filled out surveys, working to accumulate points through purchases, and even mystery shopped.

Now that we are in a much better place financially, I am looking ahead to new opportunities to save for our retirement. It is also why I’m, personally, taking a deep dive into wealth building.

What fun is it to do this alone when we could do this together though?

Of course, a savvier business woman would make you buy an online course or spend time writing a book. The thing is, I’m a big fan of the blog format and think this would be such a fun exploration.

If you are saving for retirement, not making enough working full-time, or just a single mom who is responsible for two incomes (NO BIGGIE! YEAH, RIGHT!)… I want to help you.

Please keep in mind, I plan to offer realistic strategies. As a working mom, I am already to capacity with how much I can take on my plate so I understand how important it is to not sacrifice a lot more time for money.

Whatever amount of money you are after, I am hoping to provide some new ways to make money for your family.

How Will the Passive Income for Busy Moms Series Work?

Each month I will share one way you can make money for your family through a variety of avenues. These posts will encourage you to explore creative ways to make money that you may not have thought of.

I will be signing up for these programs (or as much as we can that is applicable to our family) and sharing my results after one month.

If you are interested, you can sign up for these programs too and we can share how we all did in each segment.

NO PRESSURE THOUGH!

Here’s the thing… if there is one thing I have learned from making money through my blog, it is that you should NEVER put all your eggs in one basket.

I am using that same strategy this year to build passive wealth.

In a year, I will share how much I accumulated through these passive income streams and what I learned from the experience.

Is This Only for Blogging or Podcasting Moms?

No, this series is for everyone. I do plan to share though about how I make passive income through affiliate marketing and affiliate links in one post, for my blogging/podcast pals. I do personally know that blogging can be an incredible avenue to financial freedom. That is how we broke free from our debt-ridden lives.

I started my blog many years ago though and now it seems SO much harder to build a loyal audience. I am not saying that you can’t have instant blogging success, but I do think it takes time!

What Do I Get Out of It?

We have TWO teenagers that we hope to be able to help financially with some of their college expenses. We also are working hard to save for our own retirement and know that we need to learn new ways to save to reach those goals.

These blog posts are going to hold me accountable to try all avenues to wealth building and share this with you.

While extra money is incredible, I am even more thankful that we can spread the wealth around and bless others with it. We try to do as much as we can to assist others while still keeping our financial safety net in place.

As a blogger, I do make commissions if you sign up or purchase anything through my links. You don’t have to do that, but it won’t cost you anything to use them.

Although it might be taboo to talk about, running this website is a huge expense for our family. There are lots of expenses that go into website ownership: paying to mail newsletters, web hosting, graphic design tools, photography tools, courses, food/craft supplies, and social media scheduling tools… just to name a few!

Running this site (a gift- I promise I’m not complaining!) costs our family thousands and thousands of dollars every year.

Those commissions help this site to continue being a long term free resource to our readers.

Now that you know about the series, we will be jumping in with our first experiment together. I will keep the list of passive income stream opportunities below and the one month reflections will also be linked. Be sure to bookmark this page or subscribe to my newsletter to stay up-to-date with this experiment.

Passive Income Ideas for Busy Moms from MomAdvice.com

Passive Income For Mom Wealth Building Lessons & Results

Earn Money With Rakuten Cash Back Offers from MomAdvice.com Earn Money Through Rakuten (October Challenge)

Real Rakuten Results Cash Back Earnings Report from MomAdvice.com What Did I *REALLY* End Up Earning With Rakuten? (October Challenge Results)

Passive Revenue Ideas for Busy Moms

This post contains affiliate links.

 

7 Habits to Help Your Kids Have a Great Morning

Wednesday, September 18th, 2019

 

7 Habits to Help Your Kids Have a Great Morning from MomAdvice.com

 

Back to school is the perfect time to work on your family’s good habits. Set a goal of getting your kids’ great new habits to stick and make their school mornings a little easier. Just a few minutes a day and some creative thinking can make the school year start off right!

 

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

How’s your fall going so far?

It’s felt a little chaotic at my house.

For weeks now, I’ve been saying, “We’re still getting into our school year routine.” But guys? We’ve been back to school for a while. If I can’t get my people into a routine soon, I’m going to have to change my excuse to, “Well, the holidays are just messing us up.” And then it’s winter break and the new year and the flu and spring break and end of school and summer. 

Because the truth is, we’re constantly entering or leaving one busy season or another.

During this stage, with two busy kids and two busy adults, we just don’t have a long stretch of “normal” to look forward to. There’s no sense in waiting to get back to normal before getting organized, finding routines, or learning how to live — because I’ll be waiting forever. 

The number one thing I’ve found that makes a difference in how my kids — and I — deal with busy seasons?

Sleep.

Our quantity and quality of sleep makes an enormous difference in everything — in our health, our attitudes, our discipline in the other things that make life easier or otherwise better. Sleep kind of makes our world go ‘round.

And sleep is a funny thing. Everyone needs it, but everyone needs a different amount. And everyone seems to need different conditions to get good sleep. So it’s a universal need but also a personal one.

Therefore, rather than tell you one, laser-focused solution that works for my family, today I’m sharing several things that seem to make a difference for at least one person in my house. Hopefully something I share will work for someone in your family, and together we can stop needing excuses for being so out of sorts as we move from season to season.

 

7 Habits to Help Your Kids Have a Great Morning

7 Habits to Help Your Kids Have a Great Morning from MomAdvice.com

Know the facts

When we get busy with evening activities and homework and movie nights and one more story at bedtime, we can easily cut our kids’ nights short without realizing it.

That’s why it’s good to know — and then keep in mind — how much sleep is recommended for each child, based on their age. This article from the American Academy of Pediatrics lists the recommended sleep times that studies have shown are the best for each age range from four months to 18 years. 

This chart was helpful for my family as it showed me that it’s not weird for my 11-year-old to need more sleep than my 4-year-old. Last year I let my older daughter stay up later than her little sister, because I assumed she could handle it. But over the past few months I’ve realized that just isn’t true. They need different amounts of sleep, and what I assumed was wrong. Now they go to bed at the same time, which feels weird — but the AAP says is acceptable and not that weird after all.

Bathe at unusual times

Sometimes it feels like I have to choose between hygiene and sleep — for my kids and for myself! But what I’ve finally realized (it only took me how long?!) is that we don’t have to bathe (or shower) at the “usual” times. I can shower before bed instead of in the morning if I have to. My kids can bathe right after school instead of getting to bedtime and realizing we’ve run out of time and skipping it…again. It seems like a little thing, but it’s made a big difference for us. (And this tip goes for any bedtime or morning task. You can have story time right after dinner, and you can make lunches at night instead of after breakfast.)

Brain dump before bed

While I don’t often struggle with insomnia, I’ve certainly spent many nights staring at the ceiling as my worries or ideas or to-do list run through my brain on a loop. I’ve learned it’s better to just turn on my lamp, grab a notebook, and write it all down. That way, my brain can rest, knowing that I’ve captured all the things and I can tackle them the next day.

Sometimes my kids need that, too. I try to make sure I don’t shut them down if they bring up a tough subject or start telling a long story at bedtime, but when possible, I will ask if it’s something we can talk about the next day. And then, to make sure they know I’m serious, I’ll let them see me make an actual note so we don’t forget to come back to that topic or story.

 

7 Habits to Help Your Kids Have a Great Morning from MomAdvice.com

Set alarms!

I use the alarms on my phone to keep me on track all day long, all week long. This is especially important for making sure we all get the sleep we need without being late for school or work. I set alarms for —

  • When we need to go upstairs to start the bedtime routineWhen my oldest daughter needs to bring her book out to the hallway (so she doesn’t stay up super late reading…like her mama!)
  • When I need to turn off the TV and start my own bedtime routineWhen I need to get up, at the very least a few minutes before the kids
  • When I need to wake up the kids (I need to get back to setting my 11-year-old’s alarm in her room; that helped her morning attitude a lot when we did it before.)
  • When we need to go downstairs to start packing lunches and eating breakfastWhen my oldest needs to go to the bus stop

Without those alarms, we would be lost!

Make expectations clear 

Nearly every argument my girls and I have in the morning is about whether or not they’ve completed their morning routines: making their beds, brushing teeth, brushing hair, putting on clean clothes.

It doesn’t seem hard to me, but they struggle — so writing down the morning routine and sticking it on the bathroom wall has helped.

I also included what times we do things, so they know if it’s close to 7:30 and they aren’t close to ready for breakfast, they’d better get a move on!


7 Habits to Help Your Kids Have a Great Morning from MomAdvice.com

Have your own morning routine

What makes you feel awake?

Do you need coffee before you can deal with people?

Or perhaps it’s a tall glass of ice water or a few minutes of stretching that gets your blood moving?

For me, it’s turning on all the lights, brushing my teeth, and putting on a bra. Without those things, I am a slug — and not a very nice one either. We all win when I make sure to complete my own morning routine!

Take a moment 

Look, nobody in my house likes mornings.

So I’m not about to tell you to take hours of your morning to connect with your people. But! If you can take even a few seconds to look them in the face and wish them well (on a test, with a friend, in general) or perhaps play their favorite song in the car and share a smile in the rearview mirror as you do your best car dance, I guarantee it will make a world of difference.

And if you have more than a few seconds? Five-minute family devotions, love notes in the lunchbox, or a blessing prayer in the carpool line will take little time and effort, but leave you feeling like you’ve got this morning thing mastered.

Those are just a few things that help us have better mornings.

We aren’t perfect, and don’t do every thing every day. But when we do our best to check most these boxes? We are more rested and less frazzled, and mornings don’t seem so bad (even to my house full of night owls).

 

What helps your family have a great morning? Be sure to scroll down for more great parenting articles!

7 Habits for Better Mornings With Your Kids from MomAdvice.com

 

Mary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She lives for good books, spicy queso, and television marathons, but she lives because of God’s grace. Mary writes with humor and honesty about giving up on perfect and finding truth in unexpected places on her blog,MaryCarver.com. She is the author of Fast Talk & Faith: A 22-Day Devotional Inspired by Gilmore Girls and co-author of Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts. She is also a regular contributor to incourage.me and MothersofDaughters.com. Mary and her husband live in Kansas City with their two daughters.

Like this article? You might find these other parenting articles helpful too!

 

How to Handle Lying from MomAdvice.com how to handle lying

 


A New Way to Teach Your Child to Tie Their Shoes from MomAdvice.com a new way to teach your child how to tie their shoes (my kids learned in 5 minutes flat!!)

 


Teaching Kids the Importance of Failure from MomAdvice.com teaching kids the importance of failure

Homeschooling a Child With Special Needs from MomAdvice.com homeschooling a child with special needs

 

How to Find & Write Pen Pals from MomAdvice.com how to find & write pen pals

 

DIY Tween Confidence Kit from MomAdvice.com diy tween self-confidence kit

5 Book Series for Kids Who Love Harry Potter from MomAdvice.com 5 book series for kids who love harry potter

This post contains affiliate links.

 

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A New Way to Teach Your Child to Tie Their Shoes (VIDEO)

Wednesday, September 11th, 2019

A New Way to Teach Your Child to Tie Their Shoes from MomAdvice.com

Are you looking for a new way to tie shoes for your child? Today we are showing you a fresh tying technique that will teach this fine motor skill with this easy lace tying strategy. This helpful advice was recommended by an occupational therapist so don’t miss this tutorial!

I am so darn excited about today’s post and getting to share with you the lace tying strategy that helped me succeed at teaching my children how to tie their shoes. This is, honestly, the best shoe-tying tutorial I could ever showcase and it comes to my site courtesy of my amazing friend, Nancy!

When my son was in first grade he was still struggling to tie his shoes. The fact that we put the kid in Velcro shoes his entire life may have been a big factor in why he struggled so much. 

When I shared this with my friend she showed me a new way to teach shoelace tying to see if it would work for our son. 

Lo and behold, a mere five minutes later my son was tying his shoe like a pro.

If you haven’t heard of this method before, you aren’t alone.

It is called the Cheerio Method, because it really focuses on creating a circle with your laces (that looks like…well..a Cheerio) and allows a space for your child to feed their bunny ears into it. The sizing of that delicious cereal is exactly the size of a circle you need to create space for feeding laces.


I don’t know about you, but I really struggled with this skill, when I was a child,  and remember sitting for hours, with a shoe-lacing board. It took me forever to figure out the granny knot and I still remember singing those silly songs to myself about looping those bunny ears.

A New Way to Teach Your Child to Tie Their Shoes

My daughter is three years younger than her brother and when we taught Ethan, she wanted to learn right along side of him. As luck would have it, she caught on just as fast as her brother and it is how she is tying her shoes still today.

You have to see this tutorial to learn how to tie shoes. While it begins with the same shoelace knot, that we are all familiar with, it evolves into an entirely different method to lace shoes.  

If you are struggling with teaching your children to tie their own shoelaces, this is a parenting game changer. I can’t wait to hear about your own success stories with this tutorial.

An enormous thank you to Nancy for so generously sharing her cheerio method video with my readers!

Note About the First Loop

The first time you teach them, you can show them with your own finger how to create that first loop. After that, it shows them how much space they  need to create it and they can do it on their own.

For double knotting the laces, just show them as you normally would, making sure to stress to pull those loops tight (but not *too* tight).

If you have a child still in those early stages of practicing, I have found one of these handy shoe-tying practice boards (affiliate link)  is helpful for teaching kids how to tie.

What if this technique doesn’t work for my child. Do you have any other recommendations to teach my child to tie shoes?

Have you ever heard of the Ian Knot? I had never heard of this technique until I started researching other resources for you. Watch this incredible video (below) of the fastest shoe tying technique.

I’m an adult and don’t be surprised if you find me curled up with my shoes teaching myself this.

Who says an old dog can’t learn new tricks? 

Let us know what you think about today’s post and if it has helped your child as much as it helped my two!

This post contains affiliate links

Looking for more parenting advice? Here are a few other posts that you might find helpful!

how to find and write pen pals

3 easy rainbow science experiments to try

the best back to school books for kids

 

A New Way to Teach Your Child To Tie Their Shoes from MomAdvice.com

 

 

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The Best Back To School Books For Kids

Friday, August 30th, 2019

Looking for books to help your child as they start school? These teacher-approved books are perfect for young readers. This book list is for parents and teachers to share these beautiful back to school stories with their kids. Whether you are looking for a read aloud book to get your kid ready for kindergarten (and all those new school rules), or you have an anxiety-filled middle school student on your hands, this book list has you covered! 

From our new parenting contributor,  Julie DenOuden

Freshly sharpened pencils. New school shoes. Sparkly clean lunchbox.

It’s that time of year for back to school and while we might not want summer to end, these back to school titles can help your family get ready for the new school year.

These books are also a great way to ease back into the routine of reading if your child hasn’t read very much over the summer.

The Best Back to School Books for Kids

General Books

One thing I learned during my years as an upper elementary and middle school teacher is that kids of all ages enjoy picture books. So just because the back of the books says it’s suitable for ages 4-7, doesn’t mean older kids won’t connect with these books. These back to school books help calm nerves about the first day, provide excitement for a new school year, and emphasize the importance of showing kindness to the people around us.

First Day Jitters

First Day Jitters

This book has a fun twist at the end and is great paired with some of your very own Jitter Juice (1 part 7up + 1 part Hawaiian Punch + sprinkles)

The Day You Begin

The Day You Begin

A wonderfully illustrated book about having the courage to connect with other people even when you feel like you don’t fit in with everyone around you.

The Exceptionally Extraordinarily Ordinary First Day of School

The Exceptionally, Extraordinarily Ordinary First Day of School 

An excellent book for kids who will be going to a new school and kids with a big imagination. 

If I Built a School

If I Built a School 

Help kids imagine what their dream school looks like to help create excitement for the new school year. And if they really like this book, there are two others in the series to continue the fun.

We're All Wonders

We’re All Wonders 

A gorgeous picture book that pairs with bestselling book Wonder to help kids understand the importance of always choosing kindness.

Fish in a Tree

Fish in a Tree 

A chapter book designed to help kids realize that everyone is smart in different ways so it’s okay to ask for help and embrace who you are.

Grade Specific Back to School Books

I love general back to school kids to help build excitement for the new year but it’s also helpful for kids to identify with book characters their very own age. Each grade comes with a unique set of worries and milestones and reading these books is a fun way to prepare for the year.

The King of Kindergarten

The King of Kindergarten 

Help build excitement for this milestone day of the first day of kindergarten.

Junie B. Jones First Grade

Junie B Jones 

First grade is synonymous with Junie B. Jones and this series will accompany your budding reader all year along.

 

Second Grade, Here I Come!

First Day, Here I Come!

A book of poems to create excitement for the upcoming year in second grade.

Third Grade Angels

Third Grade Angels 

Navigating life as a third grade can be challenging but this is a fun look at this transitional year of school when kids really switch from learning to read, to reading to learn.

Fourth Grade Rats

Fourth Grade Rats 

Continuing from Third Grade Angels, now it’s time for these students to become the Fourth Grade Rats.

Tales of a Fifth Grade Night

Tales of a Fifth-Grade Knight

A wildly imaginative book about an average fifth grader whose life takes a turn from ordinary to extraordinary.

Diary of a Sixth Grade Ninja

Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja

Another excellent book about transitioning to a new school and making new friends. As a bonus, this is a series, so if they get hooked kids can keep on reading!

Middle School The Worst Years of My Life

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life 

A graphic novel that tackles the issues of middle schoolers…buillies, crushes, and fitting in. Another book that is the beginning of a series so kids can continue reading if they get hooked.

About Julie- 

Having taught in both California and Pennsylvania and everything from 3rd to 8th grade, this year Julie is teaching 3rd grade at an elementary school in Southern California. She enjoys helping her students fall in love with reading and reading during the school day is a big priority. Julie loves traveling in her free time and always makes time to pop into local bookshops when she travels. When she’s not reading or teaching, she loves running, cupcakes and Christmas.  You can find her blogging too over on her blog, Girl On the Move.

This post contains affiliate links

Like these parenting tips? Here are 3 other posts you might find helpful today! 

How to Homeschool Child with Special Needs from MomAdvice.com how to homeschool a child with special needs

7 Habits for Better Mornings With Kids from MomAdvice.com 7 habits for better mornings with your kids

teaching kids the importance of failure teaching kids the importance of failure

Book Series for Kids Who Love Harry Potter book series for kids who love harry potter

DIY Tween Self-Confidence Kit from MomAdvice.com diy tween self-confidence kit

 

 

 

6 Steps to Planning a Sweet Summer with Your Family

Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

Since she was a preschooler, I’ve taken my oldest daughter on a date after the last day of school. It’s an opportunity for us to have some sweet, one-on-one time, but also a time for us to reflect on the last nine months. I ask about her favorite parts of the school year, the hardest parts, and what she learned. But then, we turn to the future.

Making plans for the summer is one of our favorite things to do. Because yes, I’ve trained my daughter to love lists and schedules and plans just as much as I do. Parenting win! But seriously, we do love it — me because we come up with a plan on how to survive the summer months and her because she gets to share her ideas and have a bit of influence on what we do.

That’s not to say I show up at our lunch date with a blank calendar. No, by the time school is out, I’ve already registered my kids for camp parents’ night out or open houseparents’ night out or open house, made hotel reservations for any trips, and started talking to possible babysitters for the days I just have to get some work done. But we still have plenty of summer hours to fill and plenty of days to plan.

Are you worried that I’m that uptight mom who over-schedules her kids? Wondering if my girls even know how to play on their own? Longing for the days of old, when kids got out of school and then spent three months playing pickup ball, riding bikes, and catching fireflies?

I know. Me too! So don’t panic. I promise that’s not what I’m about. If you crave structure and need to have a general idea of what you and your kids are going to do this summer, but also want to leave plenty of space for regular old playtime, I’m here to help. This is not possible. We can do it! Read on for tips for planning a sweet summer!

Do your homework.

Pull up all the websites in all the tabs. Camps, churches with VBS programs, library programs, bucket lists from Pinterest, summer school listings on the district website, road trip itineraries — get it all in front of you.

Are you going to do all these things? Heck no. But you want to know what your options are before you start picking and choosing the few things you’re going to do.

Try something new.

Summertime is the perfect time for trying out a new hobby, activity, or sport. I couldn’t fit a full week of art camp into our budget, but I signed up my youngest for a morning drawing class. And I’m not sure my oldest will like karate (we’ve tried it before, but I’m determined to have her try again), so rather than commit to a weeks-long session, she’ll attend parents’ night out or open house at the local martial arts school to test it out. 

Include your favorites or family traditions.

Do you always watch fireworks from the park down the street? Do you kick off the season with a big barbecue or just by pulling out the fire pit? Are summer afternoons time for bubbles and sidewalk chalk and bike rides? Do you let the kids set up a lemonade stand every year or go geocaching in the woods behind your house? Are they (and you) looking forward to their annual visit to the grandparents’? Whatever you’ve made a habit of doing year after year — big or small, at home or on the town, silly or serious — make sure to include these things on your summer agenda. And if you’re not sure which activities or outings your kids are counting on this year, just ask them! You might be surprised by the things they remember and love the most.

Give the kids choices.

Speaking of what the kids want… Now’s the time to get them involved in the process of making plans! You might not want to give them carte blanche with your calendar, but you can give them some leeway. Perhaps come up with 10 ideas for summer projects and ask them to pick three. Or sit together and sift through all the ideas you found when you did your homework. Make a giant wish list, then pare it down to what’s doable for your family. 5.

Make margin and leave room to breathe.

While we want to keep our kids (and maybe ourselves) busy during our break and while we want to do everything we can to make summer fun for everyone, there’s something to be said for downtime. Unscheduled time. Blank space on the calendar and breathing room in our souls. Let them be bored sometimes. Stay up late and take naps. Leave room for spontaneous playdates or game nights or pizza picnics on the back porch.

Only you know what the right amount of rest is for your family. And this is something that will change from year to year (maybe from day to day)! So, give yourself time to figure it out and room to adjust. And just know that what works for other families might not work for you. And what worked just fine last year might be completely different from what you need this year.

It’s all about balance.

Now, don’t get me wrong. If your family is all about baseball and that’s all you do, all day, every day, that’s awesome! I mean, it is not for me — but I’m not your kid! If your family is all in with an activity or hobby or sport, go for it. But for many of us, a little balance goes a long way.

When I’m making summer plans for my family, I try to balance all the things: indoors and outdoors, sports and art and science and music, active and resting, fun and learning and chores and more fun, planned and unplanned, time with friends and time reserved for family. Do you think I ever get that balance right? No, of course not. But I try, which means we end up with more balance than if I didn’t try at all.

That’s it. That’s how I plan our summers and what I recommend to you. But more important than following my steps and suggestions is following your heart and what you know about your family. Choose the things that work for you, that bring you joy, that keep you sane, that create the summertime memories you — and they! — will treasure forever. And let the rest go.

Love these ideas? Here are a few more you might enjoy!

7 Promises I’m Making to My Kids This Summer

Using Technology on Summer Break

DIY Summer Time Capsule Craft for Kids

DIY Fluffy Slime Recipe (so fun!!)

DIY Rainbow Bubble Snakes

Have you started making plans for this summer?

Mary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She lives for good books, spicy queso, and television marathons, but she lives because of God’s grace. Mary writes with humor and honesty about giving up on perfect and finding truth in unexpected places on her blog,MaryCarver.com. She is the author of Fast Talk & Faith: A 22-Day Devotional Inspired by Gilmore Girls and co-author of Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts.She is also a regular contributor toincourage.me and MothersofDaughters.com. Mary and her husband live in Kansas City with their two daughters.