These car games help your little ones practice their color identification skills. They're perfect for young kids.

4 Car Games to Practice Color Identification

Today’s car games are meant for the youngsters in our lives. They’re all perfect for reinforcing color identification skills.

In addition, these games will keep your little ones engaged while you’re driving, which is a huge bonus!

1. BINGO!

No, this game doesn’t have anything to do with a farmer and his dog! 😀 My little sister Katie introduced me to this one back when I was in high school.

The goal is to find 10 yellow cars. Each time you see a yellow car, you yell, “BINGO!”

When I played with my sister, we decided that school buses, moving trucks, semi-trucks, and delivery vans didn’t count. Neither did tractors. So we threw out all commercial rigs.

But with my young kids, everything counts. It’s a fun way to keep them looking out the windows as we drive.

We’ve also occasionally changed up the color. We might play “Red Bingo” or “Blue Bingo.” Pick a color you’re working on, and go with that.

Of course some car colors are very popular, so the length of the game varies based on what color you pick.

2. I Spy

The classic car game I’m sure almost everyone has played! One person secretly picks an object (inside the car works best so you don’t drive right past it!). Once selected, the person then says, “I spy with my little eye something ______.” They fill in the blank with the color of the object.

The other players take turns guessing what it is.

Once identified, another player picks an object.

3. Find the Rainbow

Can your kids find something red?

Then yellow?

Continue calling out colors for them to find until they’ve found the whole rainbow. Then you can throw in some extra colors like pink and silver too!

4. Color Category

Pick a color, and have your kids name as many things as they can that are that color. For older kids, you can have them focus on a single category (name all the orange vegetables for instance).

Here’s how it works:

One person names a color. Then everyone takes turns naming objects that are that color.

So if the color is pink, you might hear:

  • The sunset
  • cheeks
  • A shoe
  • My shirt
  • That blanket
  • A pig

When you’re out of ideas, give another color a try.

Do you play other car games that reinforce color?

I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Photo credit: Alejandro Garrido Navarro via Unsplash

Stacking rocks may be simple, but it's a powerful learning activity for kids. Here's how they benefit...

5 Ways Kids Benefit from Stacking Rocks

You don’t need fancy toys to engage your kids. They can play and learn with just about anything!

I walked to the waterfall with my husband and two of our kids recently. As my husband was taking pictures, my six-year-old was starting to grow restless. So I asked her to stack some rocks.

I figured she’d stack them once and then be done. But, she kept working on her creations. As she played, I realized there was some major learning going on!

Benefits of Stacking Rocks

Stacking rocks is simple. All you need are some rocks and a surface to stack them on. So head outside and let your kids gather up rocks. Then challenge them to stack them. They’ll be:

1. Learn about balance

You can’t just throw rocks on top of each other and expect them to stick. Rather, you must set them carefully, achieving balance.

As your child stacks, she’ll likely have to readjust, while learning:

  • Smaller rocks work best on top of bigger rocks
  • The flat side of angled rocks fits best on flat surfaces
  • Building is easier on a flat surface
  • You can increase balance by a change in placement

2. Improve observation skills

To figure out where each rock fits best, children must look at the rocks. As they look at the shape and size of each rock, they’re using the power of observation.

3. Connect with nature

Being outside benefits children in more ways than I can explain. Stacking rocks is an outside activity, and requires picking up rocks. It’s a very grounding experience!

Here’s my six-year-old with one of her rock stacks near the waterfall.

Ellie's stacking rocks!

4. Boost creativity

Stacking rocks might not seem all that enjoyable. But, when you sprinkle in a little creativity, it’s a game changer!

Your child can:

  • Try to build a house
  • Create the tallest tower of rocks possible
  • Use different surfaces as the starting point
  • Build a rock monster
  • Use two rocks at the bottom, like pillars, and build on top of that
  • Build blindfolded, relying on the sense of touch

Creative thinking is a soft skill that children will need in the future, so it’s important to inspire it now.

5. Build geology skills

Rocks are everywhere! What kind do you have in your area? You can talk to your child about some basic geology in your locale.

To let your child learn more, have her:

  • Sort the rocks before stacking
  • Look for patterns in rocks
  • Describe the color of each rock
  • Look for common speckles or other identifying features
  • Drop a rock and see if it fractures
  • Use one rock to scratch another to test hardness

In short, rock stacking is an easy, inexpensive way to build STEM skills!

Have you ever stacked rocks?

Rock stacking rocks! Give it a try if you haven’t! I’d love to hear about your experience, or see pictures of your stacks in the comments.

Photo credit: Deniz Altindas via Unsplash

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Family walks don't need to be boring! Here are 21 different ways to make family walks more fun for everyone.

21 Simple Ways to Make Family Walks More Fun

Spring is in the air! Now that the snow and ice is off the road, the kids love taking family walks. We’ve walked down to the creek and back each day (about 2/5 of a mile round-trip).

The fresh air feels amazing! And it’s great to be outside after a long winter. The kids have tons of energy to burn off!

But, sometimes walks can get a bit boring. Especially if you’re doing the same walk each day since the rest of the road is still a bit icy. Or involves a hill too steep for everyone.

So here are some ways we’ve boosted the fun level of our family walks. They’re super simple, and as a bonus, many are educational as well! Talk about learning on the go! 😀

1. Sing

We love singing as we walk. The kids take turns picking songs. Silly songs are a big hit!

2. Change Up the Speed

Alternate walking and jogging. If you’re feeling especially energetic, throw in some sprints. See if everyone can jog to the next power pole, or sprint to the driveway.

Using visual clues instead of a stopwatch has been way more engaging for my kids!

3. Check for Signs of Spring

Every where we look, we can see subtle signs of spring coming. I ask the kids what they notice and here are some clues they’ve found:

  • Water running down the side of the road from snow melting
  • Birds chirping
  • The creek flooding
  • Snow levels shrinking
  • Buds on the trees
  • The grass greening
  • The warm feeling in the air
  • A flower coming up

4. Play Follow the Leader

This is a fun way to mix up your movement. Pick one person to be the leader first. They can skip, hop, twirl, or do another movement of their choice. Everyone else follows.

Change up the leader every so often. We use visual markers for this one too so there’s no arguing. (You can be the leader until we reach that flower bed, then it’s someone else’s turn.

5. Find the ABCs

Look up and down and all around and see if you can find things starting with each letter of the alphabet. You might notice:

  • An airplane flying overhead
  • A bubble from someone’s gum
  • A cloud
  • Deer running through the field

And lots more!

If you can’t find a letter, agree to skip it after a minute of looking. That way the game doesn’t slow down.

6. Rhyme Time

Let one person go first and say a word aloud. Everyone else says a word that rhymes. Then, let another person say the beginning word.

Bonus points for starting with a word of something you see!

7. I Spy!

I spy with my little eye, something green!

You’ve probably played this game before, and it’s so much fun to play while walking. Take turns and use your power of observation.

8. Question & Answer

One person asks a question, and everyone else answers. This is a great way to get to know each other a little better. Here are some fun questions:

  • Which RescueBot is your favorite? (Can be used with any favorite cartoon!)
  • If you could go anywhere for a week, where would you go?
  • What season is your favorite?
  • What’s your favorite breakfast food?
  • What are your favorite ice cream toppings?
  • If you could meet any book character, who would it be?
  • If you could go inside any book as a character, which book would you pick?

Just ask away–this game is perfect if you’re all walking at about the same speed.

9. Magnifying Glasses

If you aren’t in a hurry on your walk, bring along a couple of magnifying glasses. Kids learn so much looking at the world up close. Encourage them to check out plants, bugs, rocks, and anything else they see.

10. Copy Cat

Listen carefully, and pick a sound to copy. Then have everyone else guess what you sound like. This works with birds, vehicles, construction noise, and anything else that makes noise!

11. Turn Around

If you’re in a safe place where you don’t have to worry about traffic, turn around and walk backwards. It stretches a completely different set of muscles and is lots of fun!

Just remind your kids to look over their shoulders so they can make sure they aren’t going to run into anything.

12. Animal Walk

This is a fun one for younger kids. Call out an animal and have everyone walk like that animal. Here are some ideas:

  • Elephant
  • Kangaroo
  • Horse
  • Bird
  • Fish

13. Linked

Everyone grabs hands and then walk in a single-file line. The person in front is the leader and tries to make sure everyone avoids obstacles. Don’t break the chain!

14. Shape Spy

Shapes are everywhere. Challenge your kids to find as many as possible. You may notice a circle man-hole cover, a triangle-shaped tree, or a rectangular building.

15. Photo the Way

Bring along a digital camera or two (smartphones or tablets work great!). Have your kids take pictures along the way, taking turns if necessary.

When you get back home, be sure to check out the photos. I love seeing the world through my kids’ eyes, and this is an easy way to make it happen.

16. Make a Boat

My kids love this one, and I hope yours do as well, if you have any water you can walk to. Give everyone a plastic bag before you leave, and urge your kids to pick up a few natural items along the way.

When you get to the water, have everyone use their natural objects to make a boat. No fair using anything man-made–we don’t want to pollute the water!

Once everyone is ready, put your boats in the water and watch them float.

17. Read the Tracks

If you’re off-road (or on a dirt road like us!), look closely for tracks. Then try to figure out what they are. Look for:

  • Tire tracks from vehicles, bikes, or strollers
  • Footprints
  • Animal tracks

18. Cloud Watchers

Keep your eyes to the sky and see what shapes you can find in the clouds. Try to piece what you find into a story. Perhaps there’s a giant dragon sneaking up on a fish. Or a bear walking towards a tree.

Use your imagination!

19. Story Time

Work together to tell a story using what’s around you for inspiration. Everyone can take turns adding details and plot twists to your story. Wrap it up at a logical point, and then start over again!

20. Nature Observer

Look around as you’re out and pay close attention to the nature around you. Talk about different types of flowers, the differences between conifers and deciduous trees, and anything else you notice.

When you get home, you can have your kids draw a picture of something they enjoyed from nature.

21. Street Safety

As you walk, wherever you go, talk to your kids about street safety. Be sure to practice what you preach–head to the crosswalks instead of jay walking, wait for the green lights, and always watch for cars.

Even if you’re in a rural area without much traffic, teach your kids to walk on the side of the road instead of down the middle. Safety is important anywhere!

What other ideas can you add to make family walks more fun?

I’d love for you to share in the comments!

Photo credit: Noah Hinton via Unsplash

Increase the fun on your family walks with these 21 different activities. They're all simple!

Budget board games often rely on taking a large debt load to win. With a few simple modifications, these same games can be used to teach smarter money skills. Here's how to make it work.

How I Modify Budget Board Games to Teach Smarter Money Skills

Do you know what I don’t like about most budget board games? They almost all encourage racking up debt early on to have more cash later. As a family trying hard to get out of debt using Dave Ramsey principles, taking out loans isn’t a skill I want to pass onto my children.

So I change the rules a bit. I talk to the kids about dangers of debt while we play, and explain that we’re going to change the rules so they learn how to better manage their money. It’s an easy way to reinforce smart money skills.

Games I’ve Modified

Here are some of the games I’ve modified, to remove the debt part (yes, those are affiliate links–thanks for your support!):

Now these games might not all encourage going into debt, but the rules are designed so that players often need to take out bank loans to cover unexpected expenses.

5 Easy Ways to Modify Budget Board Games

To help teach smart money management to the kids, here are some specific ways I’ve changed the rules of game play. We mix and match depending on the game, but this will give you a general idea.

Encourage an Emergency Fund

You’ve got to have a small emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses! Otherwise, you’re going to run out of money and need a loan.

So when the banker passes out the initial money to start the game, I remind the kids to put some of their bills in an emergency fund. They decide how much to put in, and slide those bills into another pile.

As they’re buying properties or anything else, they don’t touch their emergency fund. It’s for when they run into unexpected expenses from a card or space on the board. If they have to spend money from this fund, I encourage them to put it back as soon as they can.

Analyzing Purchases and Deals

Not every deal is a great buy. If you go broke in the process, you have to ask yourself if it was really worth it.

So as each player has the opportunity to buy, I encourage them to look closely at their financial situation and make an educated decision. If you don’t know where you are financially, you probably shouldn’t be making big purchases!

Paying Back Debt ASAP

Sometimes a crisis arises, and you have to go into debt. When this happens, I talk to the kids about taking out as small a loan as possible, and aggressively paying it off.

It’s amazing how fast you can get out of debt in games if you put your energy into it.

After all, the goal of the games is to acquire actual money. If you have loans, that’s a big fat negative you have to subtract.

Encourage Giving

These games don’t have a giving component, which is something I want my kids to have. I want them to give generously, and help others out.

If I see that a player is going to have to go into debt, and I have enough to help, I pass them over some money as a gift. Not a loan that I expect to be paid back–I’d much rather they owe the bank than me…

No, I give the money as a gift, to help them out of a tight situation.

My kids are starting to do the same. And this attitude is coming out in real life as well. It’s been amazing to watch!

Play Longer

Some games, like Payday, can be extended in play. When you’re not taking out loans, you don’t get to take advantage of the deals often in the first month or two.

So we play a few months longer. Extending the game play lets the kids capitalize on their smart money decisions and end the game extremely wealthy. It takes time to see this strategy pay off, so if it’s possible we make it happen.

Money Management Is Essential

I’ve learned so many money management skills the hard way. I don’t want my kids to make my same mistakes.

So I take every opportunity I can to teach them a different way. One that doesn’t involve going into debt, but rather saving, working hard, and giving.

But, if they get used to going into debt in these budget board games, they might start thinking that loans are the fast way to money. That’s not an attitude I want to pass on. Thus, rule modification is important to me.

Budget board games often rely on taking a large debt load to win. With a few simple modifications, these same games can be used to teach smarter money skills. Here's how to make it work.

Have You Modified Rules to Teach Money Management?

I’d love to hear other ways you modify budget board games to make them more smart money management friendly. Please share your ideas in the comments!

Photo credit: Vitaly via Unsplash

Looking for an activity for quiet learning time? Try making felt board folders.

Felt Board Folders for Quiet Learning Time

I’m a huge fan of quiet learning time! Since I’m a freelance writer, we call this time Family Writing Time. Everyone works on something quietly, and I get some of my freelancing tasks crossed off.

It’s important for kids to learn to sit and play and learn quietly. I truly believe this time helps promote learning, creativity, and confidence.

Recently, we added a new activity to our Quiet Learning Time. They’ve been a big hit with the younger kids (my 6 year old on down to the 2 year old!)

Felt Board Folders

I had the kids help create our felt board folders. They meet all my criteria for our family writing time. They’re:

  • Designed for independence
  • Quiet
  • Allow for creativity
  • Encourage story telling or other additional engagment
  • Inexpensive to create
  • Easy to store
  • Fun for the kids

Ready to make your own felt board folders? You’ll need:

Materials:

  • A variety of felt (I picked up a couple packs at Wal-Mart for less than $3 each.)
  • A pocket folder for each
  • Scissors
  • Adhesive to attach a main piece of felt to the folder (I bought a pack of felt with adhesive backs…glue would probably work too!)

Procedure:

First, decide what type of felt folder you’d like to create. We made:

  • A dress-up girl
  • A snowman
  • A vegetable head

We have a few others in mind, but haven’t created those yet.

Next, cut out the base shape for your folder. In our case, we cut out a snowman, a large potato shape, and a girl.

You want these to be sized to fit nicely onto the inside of your pocket folder, and large enough for the kids to play with. Once cut, adhere onto the inside of a pocket folder.

Here’s a picture of one of my kids cutting out the snowman for her folder.

Felt folders are a fun activity for quiet learning time!

Now, cut out accessories. The sky is the limit! We had noses, scarves, skirts, bows, arms, and much more. Let the kids use their imagination and create whatever they’d like.

For my younger kids, I sized the felt for them first. I’d cut a small square out after they told me what they wanted to make, and then let them draw it and cut. That way the object fit pretty well.

Store everything in the pocket when you’re done.

Now your felt board folders are ready to store. I just keep them in with our school stuff, and the kids can pull them out when they’re ready to play.

To Play with Felt Board Folders

Have you child select a folder to play with. Then, have them pull out all the small pieces and set them out.

As they place the small pieces on the main shape, the felt will stick to itself. It’s a lot of fun!

Felt board folders are such a fun learning activity! Once you make them, your kids can pull them out and use them over and over again.

To Encourage Additional Play:

To encourage additional play and learning with felt board folders, challenge your child to:

  • Draw a picture of their favorite combination of pieces
  • Create a story about where their character is going
  • Meet up with another folder and mix and match pieces
  • Count the pieces
  • Make additional pieces from left over felt
  • Draw a background on a piece of paper that goes with the character

Have you ever made felt board folders? Give it a try if you haven’t–they’re easy, inexpensive, and fun!

Pin Photo Credit: Andrew Branch via Unsplash