All-in-one Declutter and Money Management Math Lesson – Tuesday Tips

July 21, 2009


The Story:

We’re on a declutter kick lately at our house.  It’s more of a panic response to the possibility of moving in the near future.  Suddenly the precariously balanced stacks of toys, books, boxes and more that cover all the flat surfaces in our home make me cringe much more than usual.  I can’t imagine moving it all.  We have to purge!

The only problem is that I’m on the ‘once-every-seven year’  cleaning schedule, instead of the usual ‘spring cleaning.’  Who knew that meant I was supposed to declutter every spring?!

If you want a laugh, you’ll love my husband, the engineer’s, solution:  Build pyramid-shaped contraptions to place of every flat surface in the house so nothing can be placed on them!  Yes, the anti-thesis to counter space.


Thank goodness I have a few amazing friends that helped me get started while a herd of all our kids ran rampant together.  After four days, we had filled five huge trash cans, and my kitchen and school room were whipped into shape.

Then came the kids, their toys, and clothes. . . and the tears, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.  Who knew the old, tiny, bike my daughter learned to ride on was precious enough to deserve it’s own shrine and label, “Never to be given away, sold, or otherwise disposed of!”

So, we finally come to The Tuesday Tip:

  • Plan a garage sale.
  • Tell the kids that they get to run it.
  • And the carrot:  Tell the kids they get to split the money among everyone who is willing to do the work and help out.
  • THEN– start the decluttering process.  Hopefully they’ll see dollar signs instead of precious treasures being sold.

The Results:


  • The Prize:  The boys have drooled over a Nintendo DS for ages and I’ve refused to buy them one.  So, they decided to combine their resources and buy one together.  They had about half the money and hoped to earn the rest at the garage sale.  Boy, did the toys and clothes start flying into the garage sale boxes! 
  • Math, math, and more math!  After every sale, my oldest jotted down the amount, added it to the running total, divided it by the three kids working the sale, and then added his and his brother’s two parts to the previous total and their original money.   They even went hopping around the sale, making a running total of possible income if everything sold.  Whew!  That’s more math than they’ve done in a month.
  • Delayed gratification!  At the end of the day they were bursting with excitement because they had enough to buy the DS.  But I found a code to get almost $20 off a DS on  The $20 off was exciting for them, BUT they would have to wait 4 days to get it shipped instead of going straight to ToysRUs that evening.  I was so proud.  They reluctantly decided to wait and save the money, even though they had the extra $20 to spend.  If they can do that now, there’s hope they will do well with credit cards as young adults.

So, what do your houses look like this summer?  How do you control the clutter?  How do you mix housecleaning with homeschooling?  Have you had any luck getting your kids to do the “out with the old”? 

Or do you have any other ideas that have worked well for you lately and would help us all out?  Please share by commenting!

Posted under Homeschool Life, Tuesday Tips

School in the Car! Learn While You Commute – Tuesday Tips

July 14, 2009


If you find yourself spending more and more time in the car, try preparing a few portable school activities ahead of time to take with you.  It’ll make the travel time more fun for everyone, and you can squeeze a little more learning into the day.

Here are some ideas we’ve done:

  • Books on CD from the local library
  • Listen to Story of the World CDs – this series tells history in a chronological order and in a story format that my kids love to listen to.
  • Try out Brain Quest Card Games if you haven’t before.  They fit easily in your hand, have fun questions geared toward grade levels, and cover many topic areas.
  • Keep a box of story and/or picture books in the car.  Have older kids read the stories out loud to the rest of the family.  If you keep an exciting chapter book only for the car, the kids will look forward to car trips to hear the next part of the story.
  • Use fact card sets to teach, quiz, and play question games with, like this selection of Brighter Child Fact Cards.
  • Print up a map for the older kids, or get a Kids’ Road Atlas to help teach navigation.

We also like having an activity book or two to keep in the car:


Best Travel Activity Book Ever (Backseat Books)


Miles of Smiles: 101 Great Car Games and Activities


Are We There Yet (Backseat Books)

Do you have a schooling, parenting, or household tip to share with us?  We can all use new ideas!  Please share in the comment section.

Posted under Homeschool Curriculum, Tuesday Tips

Potted Plants – Fun and Responsibility for Kids – Tuesday Tips

July 7, 2009


If you’re looking for a project to get your kids outside, teach some responsibility and science, try a tomato plant!

I normally dread my kids seeing commercials on TV, but when my 6-year-old begged for a ‘Topsy-Turvy Tomato planter, I was intrigued.  It’s a hanging sack that holds the tomato roots and potting soil, while the plant itself grows out of the bottom of the sack, in the air and off the ground.

What a great homeschool project!

We quickly figured out you can do the same thing by cutting a hole in the bottom of a 5-gallon bucket.  We gathered 4 buckets, each kid chose a plant, and the buckets are now hanging from a couple of 2 x 4’s suspended between the slide structure and our fence.  One of the kids chose a zucchini plant.  Who knew they could all grow upside down?


Each child is responsible for watering, fertilizing, and . . . picking and eating the produce – the best part.  It’s a fun introduction to responsibility, work, and its rewards.  Not to mention a good precurser to getting a pet.  If they can’t keep their tomato plant alive and watered, they aren’t ready for a pet.

Did you find something that worked well for you this week?  Share your tips with the rest of us!

Posted under Science Curriculum, Tuesday Tips

Make Meals Your Kids Will Eat – Tuesday Tips

June 30, 2009


“I don’t like that!” 

“Is this what we’re having?”

“Why did you make this?”

Some of my least favorite reactions to dinner.  But, like most parents, I’m interested in having both healthy food, AND food the kids will enjoy eating, which isn’t easy. 

Here are a couple tips that helped me:

  • Try my favorite recipe website:   It’s like having everyone on your block (or in your city) try out a recipe, rate it, and write informative reviews before you invest your time and ingredients.
  • Score recipes at dinner.  Give everyone a vote:  0 – didn’t like it, 1 – ok, or 2 – loved it.  Write the total right on your recipe and you’ll begin to collect high scoring recipes that appeal to almost everyone at the table.
  • Let the kids cook a dish – they’ll have a harder time criticizing something they make themselves, and they’ll be a lot more appreciative of the amount of time and effort a nice dinner entails.  Not to mention the life and school skills that cooking teaches.

How about your house?  Do you have any quick tips to share with the rest of us?

Posted under Homeschool Life, Tuesday Tips

Use Puppets To Solve Conflicts and Arguing – Tuesday Tips

June 23, 2009


Photo by Erin

If you’re looking for a different take on ‘conflict resolution’, look no further than your sock drawer (or toy box).

“Will you PLEASE stop arguing?”

“How do you think your sister feels?”

“Why can’t you be nice to each other?”

. . . and on and on.  It seems like conflicts between kids crop up all day and my tendency is to lecture ‘ad nauseam’ while my kids roll their eyes and pick up their fight as soon as I’m out of earshot.

Next time you have a few minutes (preferable when everyone is NOT hot and heavy from arguing), grab a few puppets or stuffed animals and:

  • Using fake names, have them act out a typical conflict – exaggerate and add sillines to make it fun.
  • Repeat the scenario with the puppets making better choices and resolving the conflict.
  • Start a dialogue with the kids about what worked, didn’t work, pros and cons to the two scenarios, etc.
  • Pass out the puppets and let the kids join in.

Puppets help kids respond well because they are switching from participating in the conflict to observing and analyzing the conflict . . . and it’s much more fun than the traditional lecture followed by stuck-out tongues behind your back 🙂

Do you have a quick tips for the rest of us?  Something helpful you’ve discovered that you’d like to share.  Please do.

Posted under Homeschool Life, Tuesday Tips

Share Science and Zoo Memberships – Tuesday Tips

June 16, 2009

If you’re looking to get a membership to the local science museum or zoo, consider sharing one.

Call and ask, but many museums issue two cards to two adults and while they don’t usually advertise it, many are willing to issue the cards to say – two moms from different families. In this case, it does usually mean that Mom has to go on every trip to the museum or zoo, since Dad doesn’t have his own card.  But, since one parent is usually the taxi-driver to most of these types of activities, the occasional inconvenience may be worth the savings.

P.S. This will often also be allowed for major shopping club memberships that offer two cards with each account. Simply fill one out with a friend and split the cost.

Do you have a good tip for us now that summer is starting?

Posted under Homeschool Bargains, Tuesday Tips

Gives Kids Money and a Budget – Tuesday Tips

May 26, 2009



Next time you need to buy something for one of your children: clothes, party supplies, shoes,etc., try this:  Give them the money (a budget) and let them do the shopping.  Depending on their age and independence, you may want to offer help with sales shopping, reading ads, price calulation, list making, etc.

For Brooke’s 7th birthday party, I gave her $20 and said she could use it to plan anything she wanted.  Adults may scoff at $20 for a birthday party, but she acted like I’d given her a pot of gold.

We brainstormed party ideas and I helped her make a list for the grocery and dollar stores:

  • cake ingredients
  • ice cream
  • party favors
  • decorations
  • games

We agreed that she could keep half of whatever was left over.  (A little incentive to be frugal.)

Now, I have happy visions of the future where all my kids plan and organize their own birthday parties without any help from me . . . I can’t wait!

Have you had a great idea lately?  A tip that would help us all out?  Please share in the comment section!!

Posted under Math Curriculum, Tuesday Tips

Get Crayon Off Your Walls Easy – Tuesday Tips

May 19, 2009


children crayon on a wahite paper

All those budding artists in the house, and one of them is sure to take the lesson on cave wall paintings to heart.  After enough ‘murals’ you have to get out the cleaning supplies.   I’ve scrubbed my share of art off the walls. 

Here’s a tip that makes clean-up of Crayon so easy, it’s almost fun.  Almost.

The secret?  WD-40.  Yep, you just need to squirt a little WD-40 on a paper towel and wipe the crayon marks right off the wall.  The crayon wipes off almost as easy as those clean-up commercials.  (It doesn’t work on colored pencil, paint, food, mud, etc.  Or on flat paint either.)  If you’re really crazy curious, go ahead and experiment on an out of the way wall – just don’t let your kids see you.


I need help and some good ideas from you!  Do you have a bit of advice for other homeschooling parents?  Something that has worked well for you lately?  Chores?  Cleaning Tips?  Bargains?  Favorite websites?

Here’s the place to post it – Please help us all out by sharing a short, one paragraph tip in the comment section that you think would help other parents.

(Feel free to link to your blog – I’m happy to help spread the word about great blogs.)

Posted under Tuesday Tips

Fun Math with Treats – Tuesday Tip

May 12, 2009


I need help and some good ideas from you!  Do you have a bit of advice for other homeschooling parents?  Something that has worked well for you lately?  Chores?  Cleaning Tips?  Bargains?  Favorite websites?

Here’s the place to post it – Please help us all out by sharing a short, one paragraph tip in the comment section that you think would help other parents.

(Feel free to link to your blog – I’m happy to help spread the word about great blogs.)

Here’s my tip:

Brighten up your Math Lesson with Treats!


Next time you’re having a difficult math day, bring out an assortment of small snacks and use them to apply your current math concept:

  • Sort the dried fruit
  • Venn diagram some nuts
  • Calculate the area of a Fruit Roll-up
  • Estimate the skittles in a cup
  • Bar graph some M&Ms
  • Calculate radius and circumference with Fruit Loops

Brighten up a math concept that’s been dulled by too much paper and pencil!

You’re next – take a moment and please share a tip with us!

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Posted under Tuesday Tips