At home activities for kids

Sometimes life consists of the mundane. Dishes, bills, laundry, grocery shopping, etc. Our children learn from us just by participating in our everyday tasks. Sometimes, however, we need some fresh ideas for how we can interact more closely with our children in order to make memories they won’t forget…or we may just need some new ideas for how to  keep them busy while we get a few extra chores done! Either way, today we’re providing a list of our favorite activities. If it helps you to structure your day, think in blocks of time, having specific activities assigned to each segment. For example: 9:00-9:30–Chores/clean up, 9:30-10:00 -Crafts/Projects,10:00-10:30 – Independent play and so on. The following activities are simple and don’t require a ton of random supplies so we hope that you find these helpful as you continue to love on your kids!

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Outside

– Go on a walk and plan things you are going to look for (red houses, labrador retrievers, old cars, etc)

Go on a walk and flip a coin at every intersection you come to. Heads you go right. Tails you go left. 

– Look around in your backyard and see how many different shades of green you can find. 

– Sidewalk chalk

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Inside

– Read a book out loud

– When reading picture books, talk about what’s going on in the picture: count items, identify characters (mom, dad, baby, etc), identify attitudes. 

-Turn on some music and sing together

– Build a fort out of couch cushions and pillows

– Bake something yummy together

– Assemble a puzzle

– If you have a little girl, paint your nails together

– Have a tea party

– Play musical chairs

– Facetime a friend

– Have your child pretend you’re a mummy.  Tell him he needs to build you a great pyramid by covering you with toys/blankets, etc. Remember, mummies can’t move. You get a nap and your child learns some history. Win!

– Pop some Popcorn and have a family movie night

– Work on scripture memory together

– Bubble Bath

– Play a game such as Dominoes, Uno or Spot It. Check out this post on modifying games for young kids. http://heartsrefreshed.com/2019/07/30/5-games-you-can-modify-to-play-with-your-young-child/

– Play I Spy: use a little plastic animal or person and take turns hiding and finding it. 

– Get wiggles out acting out different animals: milk a cow, gallop like a horse, flap your wings like a bird, slither like a snake, roll in the mud like a pig, and so on.

– Clean the house! More often than not when I am doing some deeper cleaning around the house, my toddler will get right in the middle of it and want to help! 

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Crafts/Projects

– Make crafts out of toilet paper rolls (a simple google search will give you hundreds of ideas!)

– Make paper airplanes

– Draw simple designs such as a flower, tree, house, etc., and then “color” them with rice (mix food coloring into the rice and let dry, then use glue)

– Make a mosaic using cut up pieces of construction paper. 

– Make simple designs from construction paper and then have your child put together the picture. For example: cut out the trunk of a tree, the leaves, and fruit and then glue them together onto the tree you drew.

– For young children learning their alphabet, write out names of family members or friends for them to trace. As they trace the names, point out the different letters.

– Playdough More than likely you have all the ingredients to make your own playdough! Homemade playdough stays soft for so long and is super easy to whip up! I use this recipe – https://www.iheartnaptime.net/play-dough-recipe/

– Color (google “free coloring sheets for kids”)

-Write a letter to Grandma or a friend

– Create your own book- Fold multiple construction paper pieces and then staple together. Let your child write or draw pictures inside to create their own story.

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Independent Play

– Play store with canned goods, cereal boxes, etc. 

-Fill up the sink and let your child “wash dishes”

-Use masking or painters tape on your floor to make roads that your child can drive their cars on. Legos/Blocks can be used for making houses/parks/stores. 

-Listen to an audio book (look on your libraries website and see if you can check out an audio book online).

-Set your toddler inside a large cardboard box and let him color away with crayons or markers

-Finger bathtub paint https://www.food.com/recipe/kids-bathtub-paints-66418

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Online

-Cincinnati Zoo is offering a Facebook Live Safari every week day while the zoo is closed! https://www.facebook.com/cincinnatizoo/

-“Scholastic” has put together a great set of free learning resources! https://classroommagazines.scholastic.com/support/learnathome.html

-“The Relaxed Homeschool” facebook page offers lots of freebie worksheets that you can print off. https://www.facebook.com/therelaxedhomeschool/ Laminate them or use a sheet protector for repeated use of the same page!  

-Check out this list for 50 ideas on ways to sneak in learning! https://www.theunlikelyhomeschool.com/2015/03/50-easy-ways-to-sneak-in-learning.html?m=1


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Favorite Soups for Cold Winter Days

As a missionary kid in Brazil, we never had winter: it was hot all year around. But that didn’t keep us from having soup! So when I moved to the United States and would hear comments about having to wait for winter to have soup for supper, it never made much sense to me. However, after living through ten winters in the Black Hills of South Dakota, I am beginning to understand that there is definitely something cozy and yummy about having a hot bowl of soup on cold winter days!

Even as I write this, today feels like a “soup day”, for snow is falling outside and the fire in the wood stove is going. And so, because we are still in the clutches of winter and have a few months to go before the birds start singing again and the trees begin to look alive, we have gathered up some of our favorite soups to share with you!


Chicken Tortilla Soup

I grew up having this chicken tortilla soup and it is still one of my favorite soups to make, even now as an adult. The key is all the toppings that you add at the table–make sure you pile them on! ~Angie

Ingredients

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced (or powdered garlic)

1 – 4oz can green chilies

6 cups chicken broth

1 – 10oz can cream of chicken soup

2 ½ cups water

1 ½ tablespoons A-1 steak sauce

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cajun or taco seasoning

¼ teaspoon pepper

3-6 cups chicken, cooked and cubed/shredded

Directions

In a large stockpot, saute onions and garlic in a little oil until tender. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer.

When serving, load each bowl with tortilla chips, sour cream, cheese, and fresh diced tomatoes. Cilantro, green onions, and avocados are also yummy toppings!


Hearty Potato Soup

This is my husband’s all time favorite soup! It is creamy, savory and hearty! Jeremiah is very happy when I make this soup and serve it with a side of warm dinner rolls! ~ Rachel

Ingredients

6 slices of bacon, cooked

1 onion, diced and sauteed

32oz chicken broth

10 potatoes, peeled and cubed

4 teaspoons flour

1 pack Ranch Dressing mix

2 cups half and half

1 cup sour cream

Directions

Boil potatoes in chicken broth until tender. Scoop out ⅓ of potatoes and mash them (by hand or with a mixer). Return to pot.

Add sauteed onion.

In a bowl combine flour, ranch mix, half and half and sour cream. Whisk into soup slowly. Do not boil.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with bacon and cheddar cheese.


Chicken Rice Soup

I just discovered this easy, gluten/dairy free soup and was so happy with the amount of flavor it had. My husband and all three kids loved it! – Chrystal

Ingredients

1 tablespoon oil

1 onion, minced

3 large carrots, peeled and diced

1 rib celery, diced

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon dried parsley

¼ teaspoon dried thyme

5 cups low sodium chicken broth

2 chicken breasts, raw

1 cup long grain white or brown rice

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots and celery and cook and stir for 3-4 minutes, until onion begins to turn golden.

Add garlic, parsley and thyme and cook 1 minute.

Add broth, chicken, rice, salt and pepper. Stir and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Reduce heat to medium-low (a simmer), cover, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, or until vegetables and rice are tender.

Remove chicken from pot and shred. Add back to the pot and stir. Serve.


Chunky Chili

This is so easy to mix up and have ready for a quick meal! I usually make a big batch and then serve leftovers for a loaded potato bar or even for a quick variation of taco salad! ~Angie

Ingredients

1 onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 tablespoons chili powder (depending on how spicy you want it)

1 pound hamburger

3 – 15.5 oz cans of beans, undrained (any variation of kidney, pinto, black, or chili)

2 – 15.5 oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained

Salt to taste

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Directions

In a large kettle, saute onions, peppers, and garlic in a little oil. Add hamburger and cook until browned.

Add remaining ingredients, except for cilantro. (Taste before adding any salt–I have found that I rarely need to add salt due to the canned ingredients already being seasoned.)

Just before serving, add chopped cilantro.

Serve with cheese, sour cream, Frito chips. We also like to add cooked rice at the bottom of our bowl for an even heartier bowl of soup!

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Holiday Breakfasts

During this Christmas season, it is fun to make special meals for our friends and family. Here are some of our favorite breakfast ideas that help make holiday breakfasts to be just a little bit more special!

Rachel’s Coffee Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 25 Rolls

Dough Ingredients:
5 ½ cups flour, divided
4 teaspoons (2 packages) yeast
½ cups sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 cup milk
1 cup water
¼ cup butter, melted
2 eggs

Filling Ingredients:
¾ cup sugar (brown or white)
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
⅓ cup butter, melted

Glaze Ingredients 
2 cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon maple flavor
¼ cup hot coffee

Instructions:
Combine 2 1/2 cups flour, yeast, sugar, and salt; mix well.

In a saucepan, heat milk, water and butter until 120* – 130* (temperature is very important, please use a thermometer). Add to flour mixture. Add eggs. Blend at low speed until moistened; beat 3 minutes at medium speed.

Gradually stir in remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 5 – 8 minutes by hand or 3 minutes in mixer.

Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled (about 1 hour).

Prepare filling: Combine sugar and cinnamon.

Prepare glaze: Combine glaze ingredients, blend until smooth.

Punch down dough and divide into 2 parts. On floured surface roll each half to a 9×24” rectangle. Brush each part with melted butter; sprinkle filling and nuts (opt) over dough. Starting with long side, roll up tightly. Pinch edge to seal. Cut into 12 slices. Place in greased pan. Cover; let rise in warm place until doubled (about 30 min.)

Bake at 375* for 20 –25 min. until lightly brown. Drizzle glaze over hot rolls.

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Candied Bacon

If you’ve never tried candied bacon before, now is the time to change that! My mouth is watering just thinking about this sweet and salty breakfast treat. ~Chrystal

I use this recipe from Simply Recipes:  https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_make_candied_bacon/

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Easy Egg Casserole

This recipe is extremely easy to whip up and makes a great addition to any holiday breakfast table. It’s simple and yet full of flavor. ~Chrystal

Ingredients:
1 pound meat (sausage, bacon or ham)
6 slices hearty bread (or bagel)
8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
8 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13×9 inch dish with cooking spray.

In a large skillet, cook the meat until browned. Drain.

Cube bread into bite size pieces.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, mustard, salt and pepper.  Stir in bread cubes and cheese.

Pour into prepared dish and bake until set and golden, about 40 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

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Easy Hot Cider

I was introduced to this delicious hot cider when I was in college and immediately asked for the recipe. It’s been in my brain files ever since and I love pulling it out to serve larger groups.  It’s the perfect warm drink for a cold winter day! ~Chrystal

Ingredients:
1 cup Red Hots cinnamon candy
1 gallon apple juice

 Directions:
Pour ingredients into a 6 quart slow cooker.
Cook on high for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Serve!

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Easy Cream Cheese Danish 

I recently found this recipe in a Taste of Home cookbook. The last time I made it, my husband kept saying, “This is good! This is really good!” These danish are a yummy addition to any breakfast! ~Angie

Makes 4 Danish

Ingredients:
1 8-ounce tube refrigerated crescent rolls
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoon lemon juice
8 teaspoons preserves of any flavor (strawberry, raspberry, peach, etc.)

Glaze Ingredients:
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 to 2 teaspoons milk

Directions:
Separate dough into four rectangles; seal perforations. On a lightly floured surface, roll each rectangle into a 7-in. X 3 ½ in. rectangle.

In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, and lemon juice until smooth. Spread over rectangles. Roll up from the long side; pinch edges to seal. Holding one end, loosely coil each roll.

Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Top each coil with 2 teaspoons of preserves. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Remove from pan to a wire rack.

For glaze, combine confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and enough milk to achieve desired consistency. Drizzle over warm rolls.

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Giving Thanks, Even When It Is Hard

First Thessalonians 5:18 tells us “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

In everything.

Give thanks. 

That means we are to give thanks when the harvest grain bins are full; it also means give thanks when they’re empty.

That means give thanks in the good times and in the bad.

Why? Because it is God’s will. It’s that simple.

For this reason, we’ve looked around us to see ways that we can cultivate a thankful heart, even in the often unpleasant and undesirable circumstances of life.

We can be thankful for…

  • The rent check we just wrote because have a house to live in.
  • Dirty dishes because our family has food to eat.
  • Dirty laundry because we have clothes to wear.
  • The water bill because we have clean water to drink.
  • The toys strewn across the house, the spills at the dinner table, the poopy diapers, the interrupted sleep…because we are blessed to have children.
  • The long car rides because we get to spend time with other people.
  • The wait-time at the doctor’s office because we have good health care.
  • The cold weather because we have variety in seasons.
  • A husband who hunts because I have a husband. 😉
  • Busy seasons of transition because we have a new house, child, etc.
  • Long hours of solo parenting because our husbands have a job.
  • Dirty floors because our children enjoy playing outside.
  • Unknowns because we have a God who knows and is in control.
  • Hard parenting days because it brings opportunities to trust God and point our children to His grace.
  • Rough patches in relationships because they help us learn to love and understand each other better.
  • Limits in finances because it presents us with opportunities to be content, to be frugal, to learn to pinch pennies.
  • Friends who live far away because it helps us appreciate it so much more when they come to visit!
  • Changes in the seasons of life because they help us learn to trust God with the question marks of the future.
  • Rotten food in the refrigerator because God provides.
  • Being forced to step out of our comfort zone because it allows God to do a work in our heart and give us joy.
  • Suffering because it exposes our weaknesses and forces us to depend on God.

As we celebrate this Thanksgiving season, may our hearts learn to give thanks in all things.

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20 Minutes Until Supper

Having a busier than expected day is pretty normal in our lives and those meal times can come around the clock faster than we plan for.

Last-minute meals on a busy day can be kind of crazy, but what if we had some go-to meals that can be ready and on the table in 20 minutes? That’s quicker than ordering pizza and having it delivered!

Here are some ideas for some super-quick meals that we whip up for our families on those busy days.

  • Quesadillas (with cheese and refried beans)
  • Breakfast for Dinner: pancakes, waffles, eggs and sausage/bacon with toast 
  • Loaded Potatoes (cooked in microwave) top with cheese, beans, sour cream, ham, broccoli or any other ingredients you have on hand that sound good.
  • Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwiches (make it even better by warming up a can of soup for dipping the sandwiches in)
  • Chili
  • Stove-top Taco Casserole  (Taco meat layered in a skillet with broken up tortilla chips, cheese, and refried beans mixed with some salsa to make it spreadable)
  • Monte Cristo Sandwiches (Regular ham and cheese sandwiches dipped in a thin pancake batter and fried on a griddle)
  • Sloppy Joes
  • Spaghetti 
  • Tuna Melts 
  • Tacos or Taco Salad 
  • Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes – I use this recipe from Delish.com 
  • Black beans with sauteed kielbasa, bell peppers, and onions over rice

Most of the ingredient for these meals are non-perishable or freezer-friendly.

Freezing cooked ground beef makes for an even faster meal assembly!

Try keeping ingredients for some of these meals on hand for those days when you just run out of time and really don’t want to spend the extra on pizza or carry-out!

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