How to get your kids to eat healthy

How to get your kids to eat healthy

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Did you know that nearly 1 in 3 kids in the United States is overweight or obese?  You may think, “Oh, that may be true but doesn’t apply to me.  My kid’s fine.”  It may be true your child is not obese, but what kinds of foods are they eating?  Are they getting the nutrient-rich foods to help prevent sickness possible future diseases and disorders?  What our kids eat today will affect their future, and as a parent I feel a huge responsibility to provide daily opportunities for healthy choices.  Moreover, it’s my job to make sure my kids are educated about basic nutrition and emphasize its importance for their future health.  But how do I get my kids to eat healthy?

I’m so busy there’s not time to prepare healthy whole food meals and snacks for my children all the time.

 

This is a common thought, and I admit one I’ve had often!  There are times I would love to be a full-time, health-conscious chef for my family, but the truth is I have a million other roles to play also.  So what can you do?  I’ve found that if I plan little steps and goals, things I can implement easily into our weekly routine, we are successful. 

 

Kids to eat healthy challenge

Simple ways to get your kids to eat healthy

 

To start off, make a goal to introduce one of these ideas each week.  I warn you not to expect completely smooth sailing, but if you make small changes and space them out, they will be more easily accepted by your children.

1.  This week at the grocery store “accidentally” forget to buy your usual cookies or chips. 

Then instead buy extra fruits and vegetables and place them in prominent places in the kitchen.  For example, put a decorative bowl of oranges, bananas, or lunch box size apples on the counter.  Consequently, they’ll be easy to grab after an unsuccessful search of the pantry for the favorite cookies. 

 

2.  Buy a box of snack sized plastic zip bags, and on Sunday afternoon prep healthy snacks for the week.

Put a serving of grapes in 6 or so bags and a serving of carrots in about 6 different bags.  Next, cut apples slices and put them in 6 bags with a drop of lemon juice to prevent browning.  Then you can also stock a few bags with raspberries, blueberries, or whatever berry is currently in season.  In addition, every week try a new fruit or veggie bag.  You can try sugar snap peas, cucumber, celery, grape tomatoes, strawberries, cherries, or whatever inspires you at the store!  Finally, stock the fridge with these bags each week, and you have ready to go healthy snacks or a side to throw quickly into a lunch box.

 

Get kids to eat healthy fruit bags

3.  Replace the morning sugary breakfast cereal.

First try serving oatmeal with a quick sliced banana or blueberries and pumpkin seeds.  Or go for a homemade sugar free breakfast cookie like this one (see link here).  I like to make these once every week or two and stick them in the freezer.  Then we have a healthy breakfast on hand for those rush days.  You know, when you hit your alarm clock too many times, and the child turns hers off and throws it across the room.

 

Get kids to eat healthy breakfast cookies

4.  At dinner offer a leafy green salad, and/or at least one green vegetable. 

It’s true kids will not always eat it, but put it in front of them consistently.  As a result, if it’s there enough times, and you utilize the have to at least try it rule, they will get used to it.  Slowly, you will then find they tolerate, eat, then even enjoy some of your healthier choices.  If I’m not used to seeing and eating broccoli at home, why in the world would I choose it of my own accord other places?

 

Get kids to eat healthy vegetables

5.  Make some dinosaur juice

“My kid will not eat vegetables no matter what I try!!”  Is this you?  While you’re in the process of consistently offering vegetables as a significant portion of your meals, you can also be a little sneaky.  Tell the three year old who loves dinosaurs, “Oh, let’s make some  dinosaur juice!  This is what herbivore dinosaurs love to drink!”  Then pull out your blender, pour in almond milk, throw in some fruit, a carrot or two, and a handful of spinach.  If the child hasn’t taken a daily vitamin I throw that in there too.  Blend it together (I LOVE my high powered blender and use it nearly every day), and voila!  Dinosaur juice.


6.  Give your kids ownership of their food choices. 

Once some of these other practices are in place, delegate the prep work to the kids if they’re old enough, and involve them in making your grocery store list.  You can even have toddlers help prep your snack bags, baking, or any other food prep you need to do.  They love to dump things in a bowl or be the big helper who gets things out of the cabinet. 

This is just a short list, but a good place to get started to get your kids to eat healthy.  Once you’ve tried these tips, get creative.  Come up with your own ideas, find healthy meal plans on-line like this one, and involve your kids in the planning, shopping, and food preparation.  It’s important to slowly get them accustomed to eating healthy so when faced with the unknown and unhealthy at a friend’s house or a potluck they will instinctively reach for the carrot stick or apple.

 

Whoa, slow down! There’s no way my husband will get rid of his Snickers stash.

Ideally yes, I would purge the house of all processed sugar, white flour, and high-fat red meats.  However, that is not quite realistic most of the time, and of course we will splurge every now and then or visit a restaurant and try some cheesy bit of heaven.  Perhaps just don’t make it a regular thing you do daily.  I love to bake for Christmas and holidays and have certain family recipes I make every year.  Do I make them every day?  No, of course not. 

I also love to try all kinds of foods when I travel, especially local specialties.  Be adventurous with new foods, and praise them to hosts.  All things considered, it’s really a balance.  Savor and enjoy your foods, but learn how to keep those healthy fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans, lentils, etc.), nuts, and seeds as your staples and primary part of your family’s diet (watching out for any food allergies of course).

What can you do to get your kids to eat healthy? 

First, provide healthy choices at home, and then your family will learn to pay attention to what’s in their food and choose good foods on their own.  Second, educate our kids about basic nutrition and healthy food choices.  Take a look at my previous blog post “10 Tips to Get Kids Excited About Learning”.  No one’s perfect (definitely not me!), but it’s the little things that can get your kids to eat healthy.  Then won’t you be proud!

Do you have any other quick and easy tips to get kids to eat healthy to add to our list?  I know I can use all the help I can get!  What works for you and your family we could use as one of our weekly challenges?  It would be awesome if you’d submit your tips in the comments section below.  I’d love to hear your ideas and successes!

Source: Committee on Nutrition (Copyright © 2016 American Academy of Pediatrics)

Estes Park Restaurants With Character

Estes Park Restaurants With Character

We all love to eat, right? I probably do a little too much!  Without a doubt eating out when traveling is one of my favorite parts of a vacation.  We all need to make healthy food choices, but the occasional splurge can be considered a learning opportunity to promote cultural diversity (that’s what I tell myself).  Local food specialties are a part of the culture of an area, and an occasion for a food adventure.  With that in mind, we try not to eat at food chains or anything familiar while traveling (unless the children are completely losing it), rather search out the hidden gems in an area.  So just for you, here are some of my discoveries in and around Estes Park, Colorado.  Estes Park restaurants with character!

Estes Park restaurants with character

Poppy’s Pizza and Grill

First off, I’ll start out in town with a few of the places we enjoy.  For a great place to go with kids, try Poppy’s Pizza and Grill at 342 Elkhorn Avenue, just across the street from the public library and parking area.  You will want to park near the library, cross over, and then why not do some shopping and exploring before or after you head to Poppy’s?  I’m drooling just thinking about the pizza at this place.  Above all, my favorite is the Thai Pizza with peanut sauce, red onion, chicken, broccoli, water chestnuts, and mozzarella.  YUM!

The traditional meat lovers in your family may like the Straziante: Italian sausage, pepperoni, salami, cappricola, smoked mozzarella, & Italian herbs.  However, if a picky eater doesn’t care for any kind of pizza they also have sandwiches, burgers, and salads. 

BONUS: Plenty of gluten free and dairy free options!

Why else do we like Poppy’s?  Great location and a beautiful view by the river.  Great place for lunch or dinner.

 Estes Park Restaurants

Antonio’s Real New York Pizza & Deli

Another great pizza place in Estes is Antonio’s Real New York Pizza & Deli.  Are you from the east coast?  Did you grow up with east coast style pizza?  If yes, then this is the place for you!  If you are a fan of traditional wood-fired New York pizza head on over to 552 Elkhorn Avenue and dig in.  Moreover, Antonio’s staff is super friendly, and you can even order on-line to take back to your cabin if you don’t want to eat in. 

Hint: If you like garlic, or are trying to ward off vampires, try the garlic sauce NY white pizza made with local mozzarella.

The Other Side

Did I mention Estes Park restaurants with character?  If I had to pick a character for The Other Side it would be a duck because they’re so associated with the place, not to eat, but to watch out the window on the duck pond.  This restaurant is comfortable, welcoming, and in many ways homey to me.  In the downstairs dining area there are huge windows displaying beautiful mountain views over a charming duck pond.  Also, at Christmas time we love the huge Christmas wreath on display. 

Hint:  Do request to eat downstairs, not up in the cafe as it’s a much more open area with those fabulous picture windows.

This is a wonderful restaurant for kids for several reasons:

  1. Big parking lot for easy access to the restaurant
  2. Great basic kids menu with Rocky Mountain National Park coloring map to keep them busy
  3. If they get tired of coloring they can go outside on the deck and look at the ducks at the duck pond.  I like to send Grandpa or Daddy out to help them with this task so I can enjoy a moment to breathe and enjoy the view!
  4. There are different mountain animals on the backs of the chairs so it becomes a huge game to see what “animal” everyone is for lunch that day.  The moose is highly coveted.
  5. Nice location on the west side of Estes close to Rocky Mountain National Park

Drake

The food at The Other Side I would describe as American, and you can get a good burger, fried trout, or a very important grilled cheese for the four year old. 

Favorite Snack Stop: The Taffy Shop

The Taffy Shop, and yes I mean the original Taffy Shop established in 1935, is a nostalgic treasure in Estes Park.  The front of the store is white and decorative with a turquoise sign reading simply, “The Taffy Shop”, which makes you feels as if you’ve stepped into a movie from the 50s.  First of all, don’t be shy and just peek in from the window!  Well, of course you might be mesmerized for awhile by the period taffy pulling machines working away in the front window.   Once you can pull (ha! pull!) yourself away check out the front counter and all the different colored taffy lined up in front of you. 

Next you really must sample a few of the different flavors and make a show of selecting exactly the right mix for your box to take home.  I love them all but am partial to the peppermint, cinnamon, and lemon.  Select flavors that go well together because “the children” (well me really) will want to experiment and twist two pieces together to create new flavors like chocolate peppermint, lemon vanilla, and who knows maybe molasses cinnamon?  Hmmm…not so sure about that one.

Salt water taffy – does that sound appealing?  Not so sure?  Well, believe me it is amazing! In addition, visiting the shop is truly an experience you and your kids will remember for years to come.

Salt water taffy - foodiesfeed

(Word of caution: Pecans are used in one of the taffy flavors so beware for any tree nut allergies.  If necessary check with the store for any other allergens.)

My favorite Estes Park restaurants with character not quite in Estes Park (but close by!)

The Baldpate Inn

Baldpate wagon

You don’t have to travel far from Estes to find this amazing inn tucked in amongst the pine and aspen trees near Lily Lake.  It’s located at 4900 South Hwy. 7, Estes Park, so still considered a part of the town.  There is so much character in this place, I need a new word for it, or maybe a few.  To begin, make reservations for lunch and step back in time at the Baldpate Inn; she has a quaint personality and sense of humor all her own! 

Baldpate Inn    Near Lily Lake

The inn is closed for the winter, but I strongly encourage visiting in September when the aspens are in their full autumn yellow splendor.  Definitely have a relaxing lunch, and be sure to plan some time to explore the famous Key Room (thousands of keys on display).  Then take a stroll around nearby Lily Lake with your camera for some breathtaking shots.  You’ll eat so much you’ll want to get some exercise besides.

First of all, when you visit the Ballpate Inn for their soup and salad buffet, you will be seated in the sunporch dining room boasting an unrivaled treetop view of the mountain valley.  For lunch or dinner you can enjoy the buffet with delicious homemade soups, salads, breads, muffins and other buffet items.  My son especially enjoyed the peanut butter muffins, and they have different flavors every day like strawberry rhubarb, banana butterscotch, or savories such as garlic onion.

Baldpate chocolate pie

You know that extra stomach you have for pie?  Be prepared because you will need it here!  Enjoy some conversation with the family and some coffee as you finish your buffet, and then go drool over the assortment of pies available.  If you have a larger group you can all get a different kind and then sample each other’s.  Of course, if you get pieces of the apple or chocolate pies you may not feel inclined to share!

Meadow Mountain Cafe

Meadow Mt Cafe

The Meadow Mountain Cafe is like finding the X at the end of a treasure map when you’re hungry.  It’s located in the small, rustic town of Allenspark, Colorado, just outside of Estes Park.  If you’re wanting character with AMAZING food this is the place to be.  They’re open for breakfast and lunch, but due to the weather in winter they may be closed some days so you’ll probably want to call before you visit.  Be ready to slow down and relax.  Here you can chat with friends or read a book by the wood burning stove and sip on a cup of coffee with just a hint of cinnamon.

Meadow Mt Cafe sign

This cozy mountain cafe is popular with locals and the perfect place to stop for rustic charm, hippie flair, and home-cooked delicious food. They have great breakfasts with eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, waffles and more.  If you’re around for lunch try a fabulous burger, BLT, veggie burger or soup of the day.  They also generally have a special of the day like a Cuban sandwich or other choice.

Hint: Try the homemade bread; it is awesome! 

Meadow Mountain Cafe is definitely worth the quick trip from Estes or your rented cabin in the area.

Also, please check out our post on winter activities in Rocky Mountain National Park with kids! 

I hope you try some of these places out on your next trip to Northern Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park.  You won’t be sorry eating at any of these Estes Park Restaurants with character.  Bon appétit!

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

YUM!!!

Secrets of Rocky Mountain National Park in Winter

Secrets of Rocky Mountain National Park in Winter

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Oh, how I love Rocky Mountain National Park!  RMNP is one of my favorite places to go with kids, by myself, or with friends and family.  There’s a power in the immensity and beauty of the mountains, the trees, the wildlife, and being out in nature.  With this in mind, if you’ve never been, what are you waiting for?  Any season is a great time to visit the park, but today let’s focus on winter with a few pointers.  Over the years the park has gotten busier and busier due to the popularity of tourism in the area and an outdoor lifestyle.  I’m going to share some of my secrets with you for exploring the park in winter, although I admit somewhat reluctantly!

Secrets of RMNP

Snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park

Snowshoeing is a great way to see the park in winter, get some exercise, and leisurely enjoy yourself.  Furthermore, this is an activity you can do without any lessons or preparation, you just strap some snowshoes on.  Recently I went on a trip with family, including my four and eight year olds, and they did awesome!  If you can, plan your trip during the week and not on a holiday to avoid some of the crowds, although you never will completely avoid the masses.

Where to go

You can print out your park map by clicking here beforehand, or a ranger will offer you one when you enter the park.  Take a look at it whilst I recommend a few choice spots to visit.

Snowman at Bear Lake

There are some great trails around Bear Lake, and depending on the amount of snow you can also take the easy trail around Sprague Lake.  Warning!  These parking lots fill up quickly, and you will be surrounded with other explorers.  If you like this atmosphere that’s great!  However, if you are looking for a chance to get out on your own in the snowy expanse this is not the choice for you.

Hollowell Park

I’m going to let you in on my little secret: Hollowell Park.  I’m struggling right now typing this because instinctively I don’t want to share this blissful spot. Even when Bear Lake trails are packed, and the entire road is cut off due to the amount of traffic, Hollowell Park is a peaceful, wide-open trail with very few people, and when you do occasionally meet someone you share that knowing smile that yes, you’ve discovered a gem of a hike.  You can take it fast or slow, with kids or without.

Family snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park

Chasm Falls

Chasm Falls is another great snowshoe hike you can do with kids.  It’s located up the Old Fall River Road, and in winter you can park in the lot and picnic area at the junction of Endovalley Road and Old Fall River Road.  From there you will hike about a mile up Fall River Road to Chasm Falls.  It doesn’t sound very far, but it’s a good length for kids, guaranteed to wear them out!  Couple that with the fact your reward at the end of the trail is an icy waterfall, few kids can resist it.

Another nice option is to join one of the free ranger-led snowshoe trips.  For more information on this awesome opportunity check out the Rocky Mountain National Park website here.  Did I mention they’re free?!

Hidden Valley Sledding

In the event you have a child set on sledding, the only place in the park where it’s permitted is the old Hidden Valley Ski Area.  The sledding area is the bunny hill, and there are no tows so you’ll get some exercise!  Also, make sure you bring your own sled because there aren’t any on site to borrow or rent.  This can be a fun family activity, but it is a valley and when it’s windy it is COLD.  You can call the park Information Office to ask about the wind before you go, 970-586-1206.

Hidden Valley sledding in Rocky Mountain National Park

Wildlife quest at Rocky Mountain National Park

Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park

Another secret of Rocky Mountain National Park is the wide range of wildlife you can see, especially if you get back on a quiet path with snowshoes.  What can you find?  Even in winter you may see elk, moose, deer, and bighorn sheep.  My son was incredibly excited to see a coyote walking through the snowy woods the other day.  Also, we’ve seen snowshoe hares before, and the kids are fascinated by the fact they change colors depending on the season.  On this trip, unfortunately we were only able to find the tracks of a snowshoe hare, but finding tracks is a great way to learn about all the wildlife in the area.

Snowshoe hare tracks in Rocky Mountain National Park

For the birdwatchers out there, you will find no shortage of camera candy in RMNP.  Fun fact: there are 280 bird species in the park, and it’s been designated as a Global Important Bird Area.  Take special note, Lumpy Ridge, which is north of Estes Park in RMNP, is actually closed to hikers at certain times while the peregrine falcons nest there.  Swoon!  For the Wild Kratts obsessed four year old boy, this is a paradise.  You can also see the white-tailed ptarmigan, three-toed woodpecker, blue grouse, northern pygmy owl, and oh so many more.  Take some binoculars and a camera and see how many different species you can find.

Peregrine Falcon - pixabay

Equipment

If you don’t have your own snowshoes and poles, you can rent them at any number of locations in Estes Park, Colorado before heading up into the National Park.  Some are bigger stores than other, but here’s another little secret: The Warming House at 790 Moraine Avenue in Estes Park.  This is my favorite location to rent snowshoes and other equipment.  The store is in a cabin-type building, the staff is helpful and friendly, and it makes for a homey, familiar feel.

They have all kinds of snowshoes for kids and adults, gators, waterproof shoe covers, poles, pretty much anything you might need to rent for a snowshoe trip.  In addition, if you need one, you can even rent a Kelty child carrier (backpack) to explore the park.

If you are looking for skis, snowboards, or other snow sport equipment, the Estes Park Mountain Shop is one option with rentals available.

Rocky Mountain National Park Soundtrack

This is one of my last little secrets for today.  First of all, remember music is extremely powerful, and your mind will associate it with experience.  Secondly, make an appropriately majestic soundtrack to listen to as you drive the magical roads through the park, and force your kids (and spouse) to listen to it.  Don’t succumb to putting on the Wiggles (while we still love them), a Disney mix, or the Laurie Berkner Band!

You can create your own mix, but might I suggest:

So, I got stuck on soundtracks, but I do recommend The Last of the Mohicans along with some John Denver above the others.  Gotta love it!  Just humor me and try it out, or at least nod.  There you go!

Above all, have some fun on your Rocky Mountain National Park adventure in winter!  In particular, get some exercise, breathe the mountain air, and search for wildlife.  I am certain you will not regret it.

SUMMER BONUS!

Moraine Park in Rocky Mountain National Park

What? Why bring up summer camping in a post about winter?  Well, if you want a good campsite this summer, and you know when you’ll be in the area, now is the time to book your perfect campsite before all the good spots fill up.  Gone are the days when you can drive in and be pretty certain of finding a campsite.  Dream, plan, and book your trip on-line here!

Easy Decorative Kids’ Valentine Craft

Easy Decorative Kids’ Valentine Craft

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A couple of days ago the kids and I were over at my parents’ house.  I was struck by the fact my mother had the house decked out in Valentine decorations.  There were Valentine candles, little statues, candy hearts in cute containers, a table centerpiece and red quilted table cover, the Valentine wreath on the front door, and more.  Inevitably, my kids commented on this, “Mommy, did you see all that Valentine stuff?” “Mommy! Grandma has candy hearts!”

Is it just me, or do you ever have a holiday sneak up on you?

Is it Valentine’s Day already?  Well, close!  Consequently, my mother’s decorations threw me into a short panic because at the time we had absolutely nothing put up for Valentine’s Day.  Luckily, we put together a super-easy, super-quick kids’ Valentine craft, fun for adults too!  I tend to like simple red, but feel free to let the kids add lace, doilies, hearts, and sparkles to their hearts’ content.

Kids' Valentine PIN

Quick and Easy Kids’ Valentine Craft

First, assemble your supplies:

Start with super basic items you most likely already have around the house.

Kids Valentine supplies

Second:

Fold two pieces of your chosen color of paper in half and cut out a heart shape.  Unfold the two pieces of paper, and you should end up with two identical hearts.

Third:

Using the fold down the center as a guide, cut slightly more than halfway down one heart so you’ve divided the upper portion of the heart in two.  Then make the same cut on the other heart but from the bottom center to the middle.

Kids' Valentine heart with a cut

Fourth:

Slide the two hearts together using the cut portion so that you have a 3D heart.

Kids' Valentine hearts together

Fifth:

Staple the gap between the two wings of the heart you cut from the top.

Kids' Valentine heart with staple

Sixth:

Cut a length of twine as desired (depending on how far down you want it to hang), and thread it through under the staple.  Next, tie that end securely around the staple, and then make a slip knot on the other end of the twine.

Kids' Valentine heart with twine

Lastly:

Fluff out your heart and hang where you wish.  They make a great centerpiece hanging over a table from a light fixture (just make sure not to have it near any light bulbs!), on curtain rods, from a door frame, or wherever else you feel moved to decorate with 3D hearts.

Kids' Valentine hanging hearts

Hang these fun and easy kids’ Valentine crafts about and voila!  No one can say you haven’t gotten into the Valentine spirit!

AND as a BONUS have some fun with some French Valentine cards!

Fun, Fabulous, and Free – French Valentine Card Printables (with translation page)

Valentine card printables

After you’ve finished with your kids’ Valentine heart project, download these great French Valentine card printables.  Then for fun and a conversation starter, print them out on card stock (or regular paper) and hand them out to friends and family.  Mon petit chou, je t’aime … My little cabbage (term of endearment), I love you. Have fun and Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

French Valentine printables

Supplies:

            

10 Tips to Get Kids Excited About Learning

10 Tips to Get Kids Excited About Learning

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TIP #1: Provide healthy food choices at home, and involve your kids in food preparation.

Get kids excited about learning nutrition. This is a win-win for kids and parents alike! How can you get kids to get excited to learn nutrition and make smart eating choices?

First of all, consistently make healthy foods at home for meals and provide healthy snack options around the house.

Secondly, get your kids involved as much as possible in the meal preparation so they know what is actually going into the food that they eat, and it becomes familiar. If they’ve never eaten or seen a mango why would they choose to eat it anywhere else?

Last but not least, and this is the tough one, you will need to purge your kitchen cupboards of all those unhealthy snack choices. I know if I have the choice between a chocolate chip cookie and an apple, I would probably grab the cookie and run. Rather, make the easy grab and go snack option a healthy fruit, veggie, or a whole grain avoiding processed foods and sugars.

Provide healthy choices at home, and your kids will learn to pay attention to what’s in their food and choose good foods on their own.

10 tips to get kids excited about learning

TIP #2: Be the biggest cheer-leader in your child’s school learning, and get involved!

Get kids excited about learning at school. YOU must get excited and involved in your kids’ learning. Talk to your child about what they’re learning in school. Then speak to them about how you used something they’re learning in a real-life situation and how it helped you. Use positive comments only like, “Those fractions will come in handy when we bake your apple cake tonight!”

NEVER say, “Oh, I always hated math! I could never get it.”

If you say you don’t like it, or a sibling, or other older influential person in your child’s life says something similar, it can do huge damage to how your child feels about the subject or idea. It’s difficult, but of huge importance to ALWAYS be as positive and encouraging as possible. Then if you want to take it to the next level, plan parties and games to complement school. Include your family and friends in these activities. Above all, be involved. Consequently, this will also highlight you as a fun, relatable parent, one your child is more likely to open up to about other things in their lives.

 Boy with a telescope by Teddy Kelly

TIP #3: Travel the world! Be open to new ideas and experiences.

Get kids excited about learning all sorts of anthropology! This is by far my favorite tip and gets huge buy-in from kids! Travel around your state, country, the world if you can. There is no teacher like experience, and no greater opportunity to see different cultures and languages and really learn history and geography than travel. Is your son interested in the American Revolution? Go to Washington D.C. and Williamsburg and learn about the events that happened in that area. Does your daughter complain about memorizing French words and not see the use of it? Go to Paris, Montreal, or Monte Carlo and let her see the signs, menus, and maps in the language. Have her order for the family in a cafe in French, and go see the local sights. If you can, visit with a local family so she can hear them interacting in the language.

Gargoyle looking over Paris

TIP #4: Create a physical location in your home to view your travels and learn geography.

Get kids excited about learning geography. Complete a wall maps project. First, buy a United States and a World map. Secondly, and involving your kids, attach the maps to cork board, make nice frames, and hang the maps up in a playroom, bedroom, study or wherever you like. Next, place a pin on your own city, and discuss the layout and meaning of maps. Define and show the continents, countries, states, cities, etc.

Then, start pinning your travels. If you go to see Grandma in Austin, Texas, put a pin there. Then let’s say you make a trip to Chicago tagging along with Dad on his business trip, put a pin there. If you go to London, Cape Town, Hong Kong, or Melbourne, pin it on the map and talk about the area. Kids LOVE this, and LOVE to see their pins all over the maps.

TIP #5: Read, read, read! Every day. Books can take you to far away places and teach nearly any subject.

Get kids excited about learning to READ. This should really come higher in the list but may seem like a no-brainer. Reading is one of the most important ways to get kids excited about learning. Of course read, but I mean read consistently. Often. Daily, In different situations. Have your kids read out loud to you, read stories at bedtime, have quiet reading time for everyone (parents included) on the weekends or during the summer when you’re home. Fascinate kids by books so they can’t put one down, and you can celebrate a win. I am currently reading a giant of a book by Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man’s Fear, second in a trilogy. Let your kids see you reading books interesting to you, and make your local library a friend.

Little girl reading

TIP #6: Do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti! Music makes the world go round.

Get kids excited about learning music. Study after study has shown how much music affects our learning. Chris Brewer, in his book, Music and Learning speaks of how music creates “attention, attitude, and atmosphere” for learning. It wakes us up and attracts our attention, can put us in the positive mindset for learning, and creates a certain ambiance inductive to learning. Depending on your goal you can find music to get your kids into any activity. Play some world dance rhythms to energize, classical Mozart to focus and concentrate, or watch Wakko from Animaniacs sing the states and capitals for memorization. The sky’s the limit!

Music quote-Beethoven

TIP #7: Have your child create a budget plan, using their allowance, to practice math and early financial planning skills.

Get kids excited about learning math. With your child create a basic budget plan. I love Dave Ramsey’s children’s program with give, spend, and save envelopes (see the link here for more detail on this).

First of all, plan what chores around the house your child will be able to complete. Next, decide how much each job is worth. I like to keep some chores as expected and simply your job as a part of the family like making your own bed, but it depends on the child and age. If your child earns $10 a certain week they can, for example, give $2 to church or charity, save $4 for that big toy they’re really wanting, and have $4 to spend on their class book order today. Those numbers will vary, but discuss allowance and how to save for desired items. Lastly, when they have saved up for a bigger item you can have your child count and take their own money to the store and pay themselves. Real-life experiences important to the individual are incredibly motivational for learning!

TIP #8: Go to a Mexican restaurant (or French, German, the language your child is studying) and order completely in Spanish!

Get kids excited about learning world languages. You may have a real life need for tacos or enchiladas! This happens often to me, and what an opportunity to speak Spanish and make someone’s day. This goes along with traveling but even in your own town you can make this a reality. Let’s say your child is learning Spanish. Therefore, when they get to that inevitable food unit go to a local Mexican restaurant and let them know they can eat only if they order completely in Spanish, using polite phrases and all the rest. Bonus! I can almost guarantee it will put a smile on your server’s face.

For more advanced students use the language for your conversation at the table also. Practice at home before you go and decide if they will order for you too. It’s amazing how our stomachs can make us jump out of our shells to try something new!

foodiesfeed.com_tasty-chicken-tacos-with-cheese

TIP #9: Visit museums and conduct home experiments guided by the interest of your child.

Get kids excited about learning science. When it comes to science I like to base our activities on the current interests of my children. My son declares the extinct Tasmanian Tiger is the coolest animal ever and wonders if there are some still out there hiding. Well then, if we can’t immediately mount an expedition to Madagascar, we visit our local Nature and Science museum and find similar animals. If my daughter wants to see a volcano erupt, we create that effect using vinegar, baking soda, and food coloring in our own volcano or with a kit. Let them guide you!

TIP #10: Get out and about in nature. Explore our world!

Get kids excited about learning to be outdoors. This is another tip I just love. I am a Colorado girl after all and can think of no better way to get a child excited about learning about the outdoors and their world than getting out in it. You can do this in any season and compare the differences. Go on a nature hike, in the nearest National Park or your local neighborhood park. The exercise will do them good, and then plan a snowshoe trip, ski adventure, camping expedition, or form a bird-watching club. As a result you will mould your kids into outdoor loving, camera and journal toting naturalists, or the closest you can get.

Camping by Zach Betten

Use these tips to motivate, inspire, and get kids excited about learning. Try one out today!

Brewer, Chris. Music and Learning: Seven Ways to Use Music in the Classroom. Tequesta, Florida: LifeSounds, 1995.

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