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The Bean Jar

I have been reading a great homeschooling book called Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning by Oliver DeMille. I’ll talk more about that in another post, but I wanted to share a great idea that was in that book that rewards your children for good behavior.

bean jarIn the book they call it the “Bean-Counter Game”. We are just calling it our “Bean Jar”. It is simple, really. You fill a jar with dry beans, and when you want to reinforce good behavior in your children, you let them move a bean from the full jar to the empty jar.

When the jar is full, you can decide how you want to reward your family. With everyone having opportunities to place beans in the jar, everyone is encouraged to exhibit good behaviors in order to receive a bean.

DeMille shares that in his family, when the jar is full, there is two parts to their reward. They get to go do something fun, like go swimming at the public pool, but they also go perform a community service activity such as serving lunch in a local soup kitchen.

There are many things your children can do to earn a bean. If you are homeschooling, you can use beans as incentives to complete schoolwork with a good attitude (completing work without being asked), memorizing times tables, doing well on a spelling test.

I like to reward my children for good behaviors such as preparing a snack or pouring a drink for one another without being asked. This system is working particularly well with my 5-year-old. All of the sudden he is doing things for himself that he always wanted help with before, even going back to bed at night when he gets up to go to the bathroom instead of crawling into bed with mom and dad. He is really loving earning those beans.

It is also working well with my 10-year-old twin boys. One of my boys in particular has a hard time thinking of others. It really seems to come more naturally for some children than others, and for him it definitely does not come naturally. Now that he knows he is going to earn a bean for doing something nice for one of his brothers, he is more actively looking for ways to contribute. I’m hoping that this exercise will help get him into a habit that will last him a lifetime.

Copyright 2015, This article may not be reprinted.

Review: Time Capsule – Medieval England Unit Study

We have just started homeschooling our boys this year, and I have been looking for some interesting and engaging ways to encourage my boys to learn.

There are a number of ways to teach your children at home, but in recent years unit studies have become very popular. You can find many unit studies to choose from all over the internet.

What is a unit study? A unit study is a creative way to combine history, social studies, language arts, math, logic, photography, drama, geography, and science all into one learning activity. Your child has fun experiencing the chosen subject from many different angles, with many hands-on projects. Studies have shown that children learn and retain more when they are actively participating in the project they are working on.

This particular unit study is about medieval England. This unit study is called Time Capsule: Medieval England by Michelle Caskey. There are daily lessons to keep your children engaged and learning for 12 weeks (300 activities in all)! For each day you also have a variety of activity options to choose from to suit your child’s interest and needs. The unit study also includes a supplies list and suggested reading list.

In this unit study your child will experience being:

  • A Peasant in Medieval England
  • A Tradesman/Tradeswoman in Medieval England
  • A Knight/Lady-in-Waiting in Medieval England
  • A Monk/Nun in Medieval England
  • A Baron/Baroness in Medieval England
  • A Knight/Queen in Medieval England

Your child will get to create and wear peasant clothing, listen to Old English, go on a field trip to a local farm, learn to whittle, make a water clock, design their own castle, make a medieval battle axe, and much more.

While these activities would be fun for boys OR girls, they are especially suited to active boys. Not only will they be reading and writing, but doing lots of fun physical activities too.

If you are looking for a fun interesting unit study, then I really recommend this one. I know that my boys are going to love it and I can’t wait to dive in.

For more information and ordering details for Time Capsule: Medieval England see

DIY Baby Shower Gift: Stork Bundles

If you are looking for an easy baby shower gift to give to a mother-to-be, diaper cakes are always a popular option. A diaper cake is made by rolling up disposable diapers and putting them together in the shape of a “cake” to give to the new mom.

Diaper cakes come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and themes. You can find many free resources online to show you how to make diaper cakes, or you can order diaper cakes exactly to your specifications. The only real draw back to traditional diaper cakes is that they can become very expensive, especially if you buy one that is pre-made. Many big diaper cakes require a large box of diapers to complete, and diapers are very expensive.

If you want to make a diaper cake but can’t invest the time or money necessary to complete one, then you might consider making these “stork bundles” instead. Stork bundles require a lot less diapers and are very easy and inexpensive to make. And they are very cute!

Supplies Needed:

1 receiving blanket
10 disposable diapers
Rubber bands
Rattle, pacifier, or teething ring (optional)
Coordinating ribbon

You can often find receiving blankets in packages of two or more, so it would be very easy to make a pair of stork bundles to give as a gift. You will need twenty disposable diapers to make two stork bundles.



First roll each diaper up tightly and secure around the middle with a rubber band.

Take one of the receiving blankets and fold it in half, and then fold it in half again so that you have a long narrow strip.

Cut a piece of ribbon about 24 inches long and set it next to you (you can find lots of great ribbon in a variety of colors at your local Dollar Store).

Set the folded receiving blanket in front of you. In the center of the strip line up four rolled up diapers. Stack three diapers on top of the first layer, then two diapers, and then one diaper, to create a pyramid of diapers. Fold up the ends of the blanket in one hand as you stack the diapers, to keep the diapers from falling down.

Holding the ends of the blanket with one hand, use your other hand to tie the ribbon around the top of the blanket, to keep the diapers in place. If desired, you can also tie a baby rattle, teething ring, or pacifier on the ribbon. Tie the ribbon in a pretty bow.

That’s it! These stork bundles are easy to personalize. You can make pink ones, blue ones, or gender neutral ones. If you can find a good deal on receiving blankets, you can make two stork bundles for about $10. You can just give them as a gift, or you can even use them as table decorations at a baby shower.

New moms love practical gifts that they can put to good use right away, and moms can never have enough diapers. Make a couple of these easy stork bundles to give as gifts today.

Samantha Edwards regularly blogs on baby & children topics. With her own experiences as a mother, she wants to share the wealth of information she has learned. For baby gifts visit

Conversation Heart Crafts for Kids to Make for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day crafts are fun for kids to make. There are a number of different crafts that can be made with candy conversation hearts. Here are just a few ideas to get you and your children started.
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Conversation Heart Wreath

This is a fun craft for older kids. You will need a small round styrofoam wreath, a couple bags of conversation hearts, a hot glue gun, and some ribbon to hang the wreath up.

Using the hot glue gun, carefully glue the conversation hearts all around the styrofoam wreath, covering it completely so that no styrofoam shows through. Use additional hearts to fill in any gaps. After the glue is dry, tie a piece of ribbon through the wreath so you can hang it up.

Conversation Heart Candle Holders

There are a couple of ways that you and your children can decorate candle holders with conversation hearts.

One easy way is to fill a tall cylindrical vase about half way with conversation hearts and then place a pillar candle inside.

You can also use a hot glue gun to glue conversation hearts to the outside of small votive candle holders.

Framed Conversation Hearts

For this project you will need an old picture frame. If you are recycling an old frame, you first might want to rub it with sand paper and then spray paint it white or pink. For a shabby chic look, first paint the frame black and then paint the white or pink on top of the black. Using a piece of sand paper, gently rub away some of the top layer of paint to give the frame a weathered look.

Next carefully remove the glass from the frame and arrange candy hearts on the glass. You can use the hearts to create larger hearts of various shapes and sizes, or you can create one big heart to fill in the whole glass. Just make sure to leave room to put the frame back in place.

One by one, remove each conversation heart and glue it back in place with a bit of hot glue. After the picture is complete, place the glass back in the frame and your work of art is ready to display.

Conversation Heart Bingo Game

Use conversation hearts to create a fun bingo game for Valentine’s Day. Have your children create their own bingo cards with the sayings from conversation hearts in each box on the cards.

When they are ready to play the game, have them use conversation heart candies to use as markers for the squares.

Homemade Valentine’s Day Cards

Conversation hearts can also be used to make homemade Valentine’s Day cards. Make a card out of red or pink cardstock or scrapbook paper and glue conversation hearts onto the front of the card. If you feel creative, use the words on the hearts to create sentences on the card.

Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be the same without conversation hearts. They are a favorite holiday treat for children and adults alike. Have some fun this Valentine’s Day and share some conversation hearts with your kids while also having fun doing these simple Valentine’s Day crafts.

Hanna Griesbach is a busy mom and freelance writer  who enjoys scrapbooking. She enjoys hunting the web for great deals and freebies. One of her favorite resources is Free Gifts 4 Kids.

Natural Cough and Cold Home Remedies

If you are trying to live a healthy lifestyle, you are probably making good choices about what you eat. One of the goals of eating well is good health, however, everyone gets a cough or cold once in awhile. These home remedies will help you avoid the doctor and over the counter medicines and help to get you on the road to recovery as quickly as possible.

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Drink Lots of Fluids

Drinking lots of water or hot tea will help to keep you hydrated and sooth an irritated throat. Try to avoid milk and drinks containing caffeine, such as coffee and cola. Instead, try an herbal tea made with ginger. Ginger is known to be a natural decongestant and gentle pain reliever. Peppermint tea is also a good choice. Peppermint can help control a cough.

homemade cough syrup

Use a Humidifier

A humidifier will add moisture to the air and help make it easier to breathe. Place one in the room where you sit the most during the day and then move it to your bedroom when you go to bed. The steam from a hot shower will also help to open clogged nasal passages.

Use a Nasal Rinse

If you suspect you may be getting a sinus infection, then a nasal rinse will help keep your sinus passages open. You can buy over the counter nasal rinse kits, but you can also make your own natural solution at home very inexpensively.

Mix 1/4 teaspoon non-iodized salt, 1/4 tsp. baking soda, and 8 ounces of warm distilled water together. With a bulb syringe filled with the solution, lean over the sink with your head tilted down and your mouth open. Squirt the nasal rinse solution into one nostril and let the solution drain out the other nostril. Keeping your mouth open will prevent the solution from going down your throat.

Even doctors recommend this home remedy for preventing sinus infections. Using this solution twice a day at the beginning of a cold will greatly reduce the chance of further infection.

Natural Cough Remedies

Gargling with warm salt water will help control stubborn coughs. Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon salt in a cup of warm water and gargle with it several times a day until your cough symptoms subside.

A sore throat and cough can also be soothed with a hot tea made from fresh lemon juice and honey.

You can make homemade cough syrup by combining 1 cup raw honey, 1 tsp. fresh grated ginger, and the juice of one lemon together in a saucepan. Simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. A teaspoon of this homemade cough syrup is a great home remedy for kids since now it is recommended that over the counter cough syrup not be given to children under 4 years of age. Just keep in mind that children under the age of 1 should not be given honey.

Eating Right

When you have a cold there are foods that you can eat that will help you recover more quickly. Make sure you are getting lots of Vitamin C by eating food high in Vitamin C, such as oranges.

Try to avoid high fat and processed foods as much as possible. Eating unhealthy foods can actually slow the recovery process. Foods with high fiber content such as oatmeal, whole grains, and fresh vegetables are all good choices.

Plenty of Rest

There’s no denying that just resting and getting lots of sleep is the best home remedy of all. It is hard in this day and age to get the extra sleep we need when we are not well, but not only does getting enough sleep help our body to heal itself faster, it also helps keep us from getting sick in the first place.

Jen Atkins is a copywriter with Mountainside Medical Equipment in Marcy, NY. Well-versed in marketing, Jen enjoys researching and writing about current health-related topics and sharing information about medical supplies with Mountainside Medical’s online community.