10 Hacks for Family Fun at the Beach

A trip to the beach should be tons of fun, but the reality is that going to the beach with kids is a lot of work! You have to pack a ton of gear to be comfortable, snacks and drinks are a must, and then there’s the sand, which gets on everything and is impossible to remove. Luckily for you, I have some great beach hacks that will make your next family trip a breeze!

Baby Powder

Baby powder is a must for family fun at the beach. Just sprinkle a bunch on a beach town, then wipe your kids’ hands and feet, and the sand disappears. Baby powder works to remove moisture from your kids’ skin, giving the sand nowhere to stick.

A Fitted Sheet

Forget battling tiny beach towels during your time on the sand. The best option for lounging on the beach is a fitted sheet turned upside. Just place your bags and coolers in each corner to hold the sheet in place and keep the sand out.

Balloons

Blowing up a balloon is a great way to get rid of water inside your kids’ ears. Just toss a few in your beach bag in case someone’s ears get plugged with water after taking a dip in the ocean.

Freezer Bags

Freezer bags do triple duty at the beach. They hack your cooler by replacing melting ice with a few frozen bags filled with water, and they’ll hold your wet gear after the water melts. You can also place electronics inside to prevent them from getting wet while still being able to use the touchscreen.

Rash Guards

Avoid the need to keep reapplying sunscreen to your kids’ shoulders and back with this simple beach hack. Rash guards protect the most vulnerable part of your children’s skin without the need to reapply sunscreen every time the get out of the water.

Vinegar

If you’re at a beach that is home to jellyfish, bring a small spray bottle filled with vinegar. The vinegar will take the sting out if anyone accidently gets stung.

Laundry Basket

Haul your gear to the beach in a laundry basket, then line it with a soft towel after everything is unloaded. The basket can contain a little one during play time and will also work as a make-shift bassinet.

Colorful Umbrella

An umbrella is a necessity at the beach. It provides much-needed shade and can serve as a landmark for your kids to help them find your spot after swimming.

Cool Your Sunscreen

This simple beach hack will help you cool your kids’ skin while reapplying their sunscreen. Just toss the sunscreen in the cooler to chill it in between coats.

Diaper

A diaper is the best place to hide your valuables. Before heading out to the water with your kids, wrap up your cell phone, money, and keys in a diaper, making it look like it’s been used. No one will suspect a thing!

Have you used any of these hacks? Tell us how they worked for you below. Oh, and if you have any to add, please let us know!

7 Tips for Foraging Edible Flowers


Flowers are no doubt beautiful to look at and sweet to smell, but did you know that many varieties of flowers can be eaten as well? Foraging for flowers can be a fun hobby and a way to add some flavor to your meals! There are a few important things you should know if you are interested in foraging for flowers. Look below at 7 tips for foraging for edible flowers and see how fun it can be to go on an edible flower hunt.


1. Chose areas that you have permission to pick on.


There are lots of places that edible flowers grow including forests, fields, and your own backyard! Always make sure you have permission to look on the property you are searching and have permission to pick. Many state and national parks have no pick policies, so be sure you know the rules beforehand.

If you have a lot of parks with no pick rules, don’t worry. You will be amazed at how much you can find right in your own neighborhood.



2. Only pick plants that haven’t been treated by chemicals.


It can be dangerous to eat flowers that have been treated by insecticides or other chemical fertilizers. Only pick plants that have been treated organically or not treated at all. This way you don’t need to worry about getting sick from chemicals.



3. A small produce bag is ideal for carrying your finds in.


Take a small and netted produce bag to carry your flowers in. This way they won’t get crushed and will continue to drop seeds and spores while you carry them. An empty orange bag or even onion or garlic bag is perfect for the task.



4. Always identify your florals thoroughly before eating.


Don’t eat any of your plants on the hunt. Instead, wait until you get home and have the chance to inspect them. You want to be sure you properly identify all plants before you dive in. Some excellent resources for identifying your plants includes one of the many apps provided by the national parks department to help you identify local flora.



5. Wash well.


You can rinse flowers in a cullender and lay them to dry on a paper towel before preparing. This is an easy way to get any dirt or grit off the plants so they are suitable for eating. More delicate flowers can be rinsed by hand.



6. Enjoy!


There are many ways to enjoy your flowers once they have been picked. Flower such as pansies can be sugared and added to cakes, while flowers such as lilac can be added to honey or jelly. If you wish you can eat clover just as it is or in salads, while dandelion leaves can be steamed just like mustard greens.



7. Know your other varieties.

Some of the other edible flowers you can try include:

– wild violets
– red clover
– marigolds
– roses

 

The next time you head out into the wild, try these tips for foraging edible flowers. It is a fun way to get out and enjoy nature while trying something new.

Georgia History Spots That Kids Will Absolutely Love On Summer Vacation

Popular Georgia History Spots

When we think of vacation, we often think of fun in the sun and theme parks. There is no reason why parents cannot include some history in the summer vacation plans too. The key is, to make the history fun and not make kids feel like their summer vacation is a full-blown history lesson. Let’s explore Georgia history spots that kids will love.

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

It is no hidden fact that kids love trains. On the Blue Ridge, Scenic Railway families will be able to enjoy a 4-hour train ride through the Chattahoochee Forest and next to the Toccoa River. The family adventure will start at the Blue Ridge historical depot which was built in 1905. There will also be additional stops on your trip. McCaysville/Copperhill is going to be the highlight of your train ride. Located at the Georgia-Tennessee state line, families will have a two-hour layover to explore the city.  Families will be able to eat, shop, and even walk across the bridge to enjoy refreshing views of the river.

While this is not a significant history hot-spot, kids are sure to love the train and the 26-mile ride. Boarding starts 45 minutes before taking off time, and they do not hold the train for late entries.

Stone Mountain Park

Stone Mountain Park will give you the feeling of a theme park. They provide many attractions such as Dinosaurus Explore, Dinotorium, Farmyard, Stone Mountain Museum at Memorial Hall. Families can camp here and explore Stone Mountain. Stone Mountain is famous for its monolith of Civil War Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Also included is President Jefferson Davis. At night families can purchase tickets to see the laser light show, and even get preferred seating on the Memorial Lawn.

Juliette Gordon Low Girl Scout House

The Girls Scouts were founded in 1912, by Juliette Gordon Low. When visiting this house, families will learn about Juliette Gordon Low and the history of how the Girl Scouts of America came to be. Here families will also be able to see the original uniforms, paintings, statues, and even the diary of Juliette Gordon Low.

Savannah Trolley Tour

Savannah is a premier location to visit favorite Georgia history spots. By taking the Old Town Trolley tours, families will be able to hop on and off the trolley and see 15 different historical locations in Savannah. Just a few of the stops offered are the Ships of the Sea Museum, Pirates House, Cathedral of St. John Baptist, and the Massie Heritage Museum. The history that surrounds Savannah Georgia is so rich that families will be able to learn while having fun.

Forts

Georgia is full of different military forts. Families can explore Old Fort Jackson that is outside of Savannah, where they can witness daily cannon firings, and participate in programs that are interactive for the entire family. There is also the Fort Pulaski National Monument. Here families can enjoy a picnic lunch while talking about what they have learned from the indoor and outdoor exhibits.

Civil War Naval Museum

If your kids are interested in the Navy and boats, then the Civil War Naval Museum needs to be on your Georgia History spots to visit. The Civil War Naval Museum has navy ships like the CSS Jackson, and the remaining pieces of wreckage of the CSS Chattahoochee on display. They also have replicas of other vital boats in Georgia’s history. Families can also see the most extensive collection of authentic Civil War Naval flags too. While here, families can participate in self-tours, or have guided tours.

See, all these locations are perfect to include into your family vacation. You still can enjoy all the fun in the sun, as well as add some Georgia history spots that kids will love too.

Have you been to any of these Georgia history spots? If so, what was your favorite? If not, which of these will you include in your itinerary for Georgia History spots?

Mother’s Day Freebie!

Happy Mother’s Day from the Build Your Bundle team! This sale has been awesome, and it’s not over yet! You have one more day to shop. There are so many more things I want to tell you all about, but before I do, click here and get your Mother’s Day Freebie and read about what we purchased and what I recommend for your homeschool.
Exclusive Gift for Mother's Day!

There are the bundles that I bought for our homeschool.

I can’t wait to start using these! We school year-round, doing more fun and relaxed things over the summer, which is what I”m planning on doing with these resources!
Save 89% on Bundles for Middle and High School

Save BIG at the 2018 Build Your Bundle Sale!

My Recommendations

Unit Studies

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For Little Ones

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For Elementary Students

These include Cathy Duffy Top Picks!
Save 89% on 3 Elementary Bundles

Sale Ends Tomorrow 5/14

There is so much more to see! Just go to the Build Your Bundle site and click on the drop down menu “View All Bundles.” There are resources for working from home, for housekeeping and organization and MUCH MORE. Oh, and there’s the most popular bundle the “Mystery Bundle.”

Most Popular Item
Save BIG at the 2018 Build Your Bundle Sale!

Top Five Tips to Help You Find a Work From Home Job

Working at home is one of the most sought-after jobs that people tend to be searching for. And to be truthful and honest? They are competitive to get gobbled up quite quickly. Not only does working at home require excellent communication and time management skills, but employers are also seeking out people who are responsible and self-motivators as well.

There is a reason that work at home jobs are in hot demand! The thought of being able to wake up for work and never have to leave your home? Sign me up as well, right? Sounds like a pretty good gig if you can narrow down the search and find those legit work at home jobs that suit you and your skill set. While it may take a bit of time and patience to weed through all the work at home job options out there, it’s worth it if you can land the one of your dreams! The secret is that you have to search online daily and already have your resume updated and ready to go. And if you’re wondering where to find some possible work at home leads, here are the job sites that you should be going to bright and early each and every day. The early bird catches the worm, right?

Job Sites to Search for Work From Home Jobs 

  • Indeed. Not only is this one of the largest online job boards out there, it’s typically full of different job options for work at home positions as well. The great thing about searching using Indeed is that you can narrow it down to keywords, and even more specifically for telecommuting or work at home positions. In fact, Indeed is so popular for employers to post jobs, it doesn’t hurt to look in the AM and the PM to see if anything catches your eye to apply!

 

  • FlexJobs. While this is a great site that actually does a really good job about screening jobs before posting to see if they are legit, they do have a monthly “membership” fee to be able to view their jobs that they have available to apply for. For $14.95 per month (some months they offer a special for a free 30-day trial, so keep your eyes peeled!), you can search their database that is uploaded frequently for all different types of work at home jobs.

 

  • ZipRecruiter. Another really popular job site that employers tend to favor and use is ZipRecruiter. And again, it’s very user-friendly and updated quite frequently as well. You can narrow it down by education level, pay, location, etc., and it takes the work out of spending hours filtering through and searching. Plus, you can also sign up to have jobs that are a “potential” match emailed directly to you as well! Talk about a time saver for your work at home job search!

 

  • Craigslist. Keep in mind that Craigslist can be a great way to find work at home and freelancing jobs, but you have to be extremely careful to be aware of the spammers and the scams out there. No one is filtering them for you, and it’s ultimately your responsibility to decide if a job is “too good to be true”. In saying that, there are some legit work at home jobs that do get posted to Craigslist, so it can be a valid way to land a job that lets you work from the comfort of your own home.

Learn a New Skill

  • Become a blogger! There are many inexpensive opportunities to learn about the business of blogging. It IS a business, so be prepared to invest a little bit of money and a bit of time to making it work. It CAN be done, and is actually is one of the top-growing businesses! Find your niche, and start telling your stories!

Finding a legit work at home job takes a bit of time and patience. And remember, there are a lot of scams out there so prepare yourself and do your own research. Never pay anything upfront to a company who is requesting it, and don’t accept any form of “prepayment” from them for the purchase of equipment that you’ll need to do the advertised job. If it puts up a red flag in your brain, there’s a reason for it. Take your time, be selective, and wait for the work at home job that is right for you. Keep searching those sites each and every day, and you may land a job quicker than you ever dreamed possible!

Top Five Things We Love About Digital Homeschool Curriculum

I’ll be honest, it took me some time to warm up to digital curriculum. When my girls were younger, we leaned toward a more holistic approach to learning, although my eldest daughter did use the online EPGY program for a while, and loved it. I am a book-junkie, and if anyone could say that I hoarded anything, it’d be books. It pains me to get rid of books, no matter what type they are. If I could have kept every single book I’ve ever owned, I totally would. 

But, it is 2018, and not all of us can have gigantic antique book rooms like this one, <sniff sniff>. So now, I’m a bit of a digital curriculum hoarder. I love digital curriculum for so many reasons. Here are just a few.

Saves Space

I don’t need to box up all my digital curriculum when we’re finished with it, and I don’t have to search through endless boxes in the garage for the material the next time we want to use it, or when it’s time to pass it down to my youngest daughter. I can keep our downloaded curriculum organized on my external hard drive, and the girls can keep theirs organized on their flash drives. Any digital courses we use are even better, because there is no need for us to provide space on our devices for those.

Access From Anywhere

What I think I love most about using digital curriculum in our homeschool is that we can access anything from anywhere. My girls each have a computer to use, but they often access their curriculum from their iPads as well. The digital curriculum that I use, I can access from my phone from the orthodontist office, on my laptop, etc. We can literally learn anywhere, and we do!

Can Be Used Over and Over Again

I think all homeschooling parents search for ways to get the best possible deals on their homeschool curriculum. I have copied pages of workbooks just so that I didn’t have to buy an extra, and I’ve been known to say to the girls, “don’t touch that! I’m going to resell it!” You don’t have to worry about that with digital curriculum! I will still sometimes print off pages from some of our digital curriculum, but I have learned over the years to only print what I know the girls will absolutely use. Each year, especially as the girls grow, I find we need less and less paper.

Digital Curriculum is Perfect for a Child-Led Homeschool

This is my #1 reason why I have learned to love using digital homeschool curriculum. My girls pick and choose some of the subjects they’d like to study, because I believe strongly that child-led learning has so many benefits. Some of these topics or subjects can be difficult to find in printed homeschool materials. For example, our eldest is interested in learning to start a blog of her own. We can’t find that in a “regular” homeschool materials, but we have found some great courses that are offered digitally!

If you are on the fence about using digital curriculum in your homeschool, I invite you to give it a try. Now is a great time, too, because more and more companies are offering digital courses and curriculum. If you use digital curriculum and love it, please let us know your favorites in the comments!

Top Three Benefits of Using a Holistic Approach in Your Homeschool

I never bought in to Rudolph Steiner’s complete philosophy of education, although I do admit that using a holistic approach in our homeschool when my girls were younger had many benefits for us. The Enki Education curriculum is a curriculum that takes the whole child into consideration. Using it helps you meet their emotional, academic, physical and spiritual needs. We used the Enki curriculum for a couple of years when my girls were very young. We saw some very important benefits from using this type of approach when my girls were young.

 

1. Forces You to Slow Down

This curriculum, and the support that came with it, came to us at just the right time, and filled the needs of all of us. It truly changed our lives. My eldest daughter at the time began exhibiting more behaviors that we just knew had to do with her sensory issues, however, there was something more to it. She is a gifted child who has always been a thinker. To help her get “out of her head” and more grounded, we switched things up and began using Enki. She needed a more holistic education which included time for story-telling, crafting and generally just “being”. (We all did!) If you have a child like this, I highly recommend taking a breather and looking at a more nature, play, story-telling-based curriculum.

2. Helps You Remember What’s Important

For me, the Enki principles kept me grounded in my belief that our choice to homeschool our girls was the best for for our kids. Keeping my eyes toward a holistic way of educating at the time really helped me remember what is important in our lives.

Using this approach helped me to remember that family rhythms and the rhythms of nature are the foundation at this point in our homeschooling journey, especially for little ones. It helped me breathe deeply when I wondered if I was doing “enough” with my girls; if they should have been enrolled in all the extra-curricular activities that our friends were doing; if we should have also been joining this, that, or the other group.

3. Family-Centered

The principles of holistic learning and family-centered education can be implemented in any home, at any time regardless of what curriculum you use. It is my belief that incorporating any of the holistic principles in your life and home can only enhance it. For us, it helped us to become deeply rooted in our rich Catholic faith which has its own rhythms and celebrations. It is easy to lose sight of these important things as the academics increase in number and scope. If you have little ones, especially, I invite you to look into a more holistic approach to educating your children.

 

The Right To Control One’s Learning

Should we honor our children’s right to curiosity, their right to not only choose what they want to learn, but from whom they want to learn it?

No human right, except the right to life itself, is more fundamental than this. A person’s freedom of learning is part of his freedom of thought, even more basic than his freedom of speech. If we take from someone his right to decide what he will be curious about, we destroy his freedom of thought. We say, in effect, you must think not about what interests and concerns you,  but about what interests and concerns us.
​​

John Holt, child advocate and supporter of school reform thinks so. Read more about natural learning here and when you’ve finished, please comment and tell us your thoughts! ​

What You Need to Know Before Your Homeschool Portfolio Evaluation

I will not ask your child to jump through hoops for me. A few years ago, in my local area, it was common to hear from homeschooling families that their evaluator “tested” their kids during a portfolio evaluation. My initial reaction: WHY?! During a portfolio evaluation with me, I will not ask your child to read aloud to me, do math computations for me, or recite the dates of the major battles in the Civil War. There are, however, certain things that all homeschool evaluators must look for according to FL law, and a portfolio evaluation does not include any of those things listed above.

 

We are so fortunate in our state to have several options to choose from when it comes to providing evidence that our students have made progress each year. The benefits of using the portfolio evaluation option are many. Just take a look at this article to read more. I feel so strongly that the portfolio gives you and me a much more comprehensive picture of your child’s progress than any standardized or nationally normed test, that I do portfolio reviews exclusively.  Testing has its place. I have my girls test every year in addition to reviewing their portfolio and I often recommend that my clients do both as well. 

 

Authenticity

 

Portfolio assessments provide an authentic way of demonstrating progress, skills and accomplishments. If I ask your child to read aloud to me, in order to assess his/her fluency, what would I be basing that day’s progress on? I would not know how your child’s fluency was at the beginning of your homeschool year in order to compare. Similarly, if I ask your student to take a math test for me, or any other one-time summative assessment, I would need a standard or benchmark with which to compare.

 

Let’s Look at the Difference Between Formative and Summative Assessments

A portfolio should include any type of formative or summative assessments that you, (the teacher) have done throughout the year.  The difference between formative and summative assessments is that formative assessments are given by you (the teacher) and help you monitor progress and provide feedback as you go along. For example, you are reading a great work of literature with your student, and you pause at the end of every chapter in order to assess comprehension. You provide feedback and identify any areas of strength or weakness which will help your student improve their learning.

Summative assessments are assessments that come at the end of a unit or course, and will examine your student’s learning by comparing it against some standard or benchmark.  For example, you may make up your own grading rubric after doing a unit study on Shakespeare. You then ask your student to compare Romeo and Juliet to Julius Caesar by designing a multimedia project.  Your grading rubric shows your student details of what you expect out of their paper or project which you will later use to “grade” it.

What I like to See as an Evaluator

During a portfolio review, I like to see YOUR formative and summative assessments included in the child’s portfolio.  I am happy to listen to your child read so that I can assess fluency if you would like me to, however, I never include this as part of my portfolio evaluation process, nor does the Florida law ask me to.

I am concerned that if homeschool evaluators who conduct annual portfolio reviews continue to ask their students to do these types of activities as a general rule, that they will be setting a precedent for this, and eventually our homeschool-friendly State of Florida will be adding these requirements to the law so that all homeschool evaluators will then put your child to the test As a homeschooling parent myself, I rather enjoy my freedom to be able to decide whether or not I want another person to administer (any type of) test to my children.  I certainly wouldn’t want my children to have to be subjected to it during a portfolio review.

 

 

 

 

Biggest Homeschool Sale of the Year!

I am so excited for the upcoming 5th annual Build Your Bundle Sale that starts next week on 5/7/18. You can save up to 95% on 20 individual bundles for your home and school.

I promise, that this is JUST a preview, and there will be many more surprises to come! Keep checking our blog and our social media pages for more!

In the meantime, grab a coupon code that you can use when the sale starts! #byb2018

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