It is about a boy named Merlin, aka Big Monty, who loves astronomy and wants to be accepted by a kid named A’Lo Jenkins. Big Monty discovered that the lunch lady in his school, Mrs. Findlehorner, created a monster out of leftover lasagna. This story takes the reader on a journey where Big Monty and his younger sister, Josephine, figure out how to stop Mrs. Findlehorner.
A wonderful feature in this book is it has scientific experiments and activities that kids can do at home. One activity that caught my son’s attention was the Archeologist activity. Archaeologists are scientists who study history by digging up old artifacts and other physical remains. This activity will keep your child busy and exercise their problem solving skills.
I will show you how to do it below.
Let’s Get Started
A few toys such as blocks and hard plastic toys
Little dinosaurs or Legos are good choices
Take a few toys and put them in a bowl
Cover the toys in the bowl with water
Put the bowl in the freezer until they become a block of ice
Tell your child that they will be an archeologist.
Tell them that archaeologist are scientists who study history by digging up old artifacts and physical remains.
Your child’s job is to dig out the fossils, which would be the toys frozen in water.
Remind them to dig out the fossils or toys very carefully without breaking them.
Give your child a spoon, toothpicks, and salt and tell them to get the fossils/toys out of the ice.
THE SALT IS A CHEAT BECAUSE IT WILL HELP THE ICE MELT FASTER.
You may immediately tell your child about the salt or let them figure it out for themselves.
Overall being an archaeologist was fun for my son. There are some changes I would make the next time we do this activity. They are listed below…
About three weeks ago, my family and I went to Orlando, Florida for a fun vacation! We went to Disney Land and Sea World. The tickets included musical shows you can enjoy with your family. One show that was “epic,” in my son’s opinion, was Finding Nemo.
Below is what we saw before the show started.
We wanted to ensure we sat near the front, so we got to the theatre early. My family had to wait about 45 minutes before the show started. I usually keep activities in my backpack in case we have to wait for long periods of time. These activities include crayons, paper, Boogie board, playing cards, coloring books, and activity books. However, I took these items out of my backpack while walking around Disney Land. It was too much for me to carry all day.
I needed to think of games to play without my activity book, paper, and crayons. I wanted to make the time go faster while waiting for the show to start. Therefore, my son and I played four waiting games. We enjoyed playing the games and I wanted to share them with you.
Let’s Get Started
Rock Paper Scissors
You are most likely familiar with this game. The best thing about Rock, Paper, Scissors is all you need is your hands. You need two players for this game. We play this game in a tournament style. Below are the directions and how we played.
Each player uses their hand to represent the three items in the game: Rock, Paper, and Scissors.
The hand signals are as follows…
Rock = Balled Fist
Scissors = holding your pointer and middle finger to the side (similar to making the peace sign with your hands)
Paper = holding all five of your fingers out flat
Each player will say Rock! Paper! Scissors!” and then do one of the three hand signals towards their opponent.
The winner of a round is determined by three simple rules:
Rock wins against scissors.
Scissors wins against paper.
Paper wins against rock.
In our game, the first person to win 10 rounds won the game.
We played this way twice.
My son won one game and I was the victor in the other.
Try this game while you are waiting!
The time will go by faster.
Seek the Alphabet
My son and I love to play Alphabet Hunt Games at home. However, since we were at the Finding Nemo show, we played the Alphabet Seeking Game in the theatre. Below is how we played…
The object of this game to is find letters A-Z in the room where you are located.
The letters could be anywhere in the room like on clothing, books, pictures, magazines etc.
We found letters on our clothing, in the musical’s program, and on the theater’s backdrop
If you can’t find a letter in the room, you may either…
Say a word that starts with a particular letter
Find an object in the room that starts with a particular letter
We could not find the letter X, so my son said “x-ray” and moved on to Y.
Keep finding letters until you reach Z
There is no winner in the game.
The game participants are working together to find all the letters in the alphabet.
In this game, you are identifying words in a certain category in alphabetical order. This game will make you think.
Choose the categories you want to use in the game.
Ideas for categories are…
We chose food as our category.
Take turns saying words in alphabetical order until you get to Z.
The first person may say “A is for Apple
The second player may state ” B is for Banana.”
If a person gets stumped on a letter, the other players can assist them.
Once you have completed one category, choose another one.
This is a great listening game for players. It will help players practice their active listening skills. This game can be played with two or more people.
One player will pick an item in the room.
The same player will give clues to the other person(s) about the item in the room.
The other players’ job is to guess the item based on the clues given.
Once an item has been guessed, then another player will pick an item and give clues to others.
This is how we make waiting for long periods of time fun! It is a great alternative to having kids on a smart phone or tablet.
My family exposed me to money at an early age. As a four-year-old, my older brother Linsey, introduced me to counting money. Linsey is eleven years my senior, so he was my mentor along with being my sibling.
After learning how to write in cursive, my mother gave me the task of filling out checks to pay our household utility bills. After completing the task, my mom would sign the check.
This taught me valuable lessons. As a nine-year-old, I was familiar with how much my family paid for water, electricity, telephone, and cable services. As a result, I was conscious of turning off lights when I left a room and how much water I used when taking a bath. Once I started paying bills on my own, it was second nature to pay them in a timely manner.
This book is available on Amazon. Click the image above to access it.
During the summers of my middle and high school years, Linsey and his wife, Michelle, invited me to stay with them for two to three weeks. During these times, they exposed me to money topics such as the stock market, interest rates, and credit through games and role plays. They also owned and operated a business and it was my job to assist and learn what it took to be an entrepreneur.
Passing It On
When my son, Cory, was fifteen months, he saw a quarter on the table and tossed it in the air. He was amazed at the sound it made once it hit the floor. He seemed interested in the quarter and I decided it was time to show him a piggy bank.
My purpose was to let him touch, feel, and play with coins. Because Cory was fifteen months at this time, I stayed close to him. I did not want him to put the money in his mouth. He carefully took pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters out of the plastic bag and put them in the piggy bank. He was pleased with the clanging sound made as the coins hit the bottom of the piggy bank.
Cory and I have explored various financial literacy topics since his first encounter with the quarter as a fifteen month old. These topics range from money recognition and saving to real estate investing and business. He has been exposed to this topic through games and playful activities. For example, we discussed real estate investing by using Play-Doh, paper, and pencil.
We have also discussed the purpose of car insurance by using his toy cars. My son and I spend a lot of time in the car going to the grocery store, playdates, church, library, etc. Cory was curious about what happens if I hit a car. This led to a discussion about car accidents, police officers, and car insurance while we had a treat at Dunkin Donuts. We went home and defined terms such as liability and collision insurance by playing and crashing toy cars.
Watch the video below to learn how to teach children the financial literacy words, Assets, Liabilities, and Transactions by simply playing Monopoly.
Below are questions many parents have about teaching kids financial literacy…
How do you teach kids about finances?
Exposing children to lessons in finance does not have to be dry and boring. In fact, as adults we deal with money almost on a daily basis. You can include your child in some of those real world experiences, like my parents did, by having them pay for their own item at the store or helping you pay bills.
Another idea is to use your child’s toys to explain financial concepts similar to how we used toy cars to explain car insurance.
With over 30 years of combined experience in teaching financial literacy, Linsey and I have written a book called, Teach Your Child About Money Through Play.There are over 110 games/activities, tips, and resources on how to teach kids financial literacy at an early age. The activities include materials and toys that you already have in your home. They also include fun field trips that create a hands-on approach and a supplement to your child’s learning.
It will help you take the guessing game out of how to expose kids to money topics and concepts.
What is taught in financial literacy?
In the book, Teach Your Child About Money Through Play, we address money topics such as the history of money, various ways people earn it, and how it is used. You will learn fun ways to teach your child about budgeting, basic banking, the difference between liabilities and assets, and debt.
We also teach you how to use items in your home, such as toys and clothing, to introduce your child to real estate investing, stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Learn to use household items to create fun scenarios and role plays so your child will have an understanding of these subjects.
If you have a child who has a lot of ideas or has a desire to earn money, starting a business may be appealing to them. You will receive a step-by-step guide on how your child can be an entrepreneur. Even if your child is not interested in business, it is great to expose them to this subject to encourage them to act on their ideas.
How did you decide on these financial literacy topics?
It was important for Linsey and I to teach children the history of money, how it is used, how to earn it, and making it grow. The purpose of this book is for children to have a basic understanding of money since they will manage it in their future. We included games and activities so you will know how to present the information in a relaxed and fun manner.
These financial literacy topics were based on Linsey’s and my teaching experience. I have experience in creating curricula and hiring over 25 teachers to expose kids to real estate investing, the stock market, budgeting, saving, etc. In previous jobs, I helped kids start businesses where they made money.
Linsey is the financial expert in our family and has 27 years experience in financial services and teaching kids about money. He and my parents were my first teachers on financial topics. Linsey is a former bank manager, stock broker, tax strategist, health insurance specialist, licensed in life property and casualty insurance, investor, and recipient of the US Small Business Administration Entrepreneur of the Year.
This why I asked him to co-write the book with me. I trust his judgement especially when it comes to financial topics. He approved the topics and content in the book.
Why is financial literacy important for youth?
Robert Kiyosaki, the author of Rich Dad Poor Dad said when you are an adult your report card is your credit score. This statement is very true. This is one reason why teaching kids financial literacy is so important. Once a child becomes an adult, handling money becomes inevitable.
It is best to make this process easier for children by exposing them to money topics while they are young. Teach Your Child About Money Through Play shows parents and teachers how to accomplish this with resources they use daily.
Let’s get our children a financial head start and strive to reduce the number one stress in our society today, money.
The Book’s Mission
Linsey and I have made it our mission to expose children to money topics in a fun way. With over 30 years of combined experience in teaching youth financial literacy, we give you a first-hand view of how to make money a conversation that is fun, natural, and interesting!
This is a great tool for parents and educators of children ages 4-10!
This book provides the following and so much more…
How to use real-world experiences to expose kids to financial literacy
Fun activities to introduce toddlers and preschoolers to money recognition.
How money is used in our society now and in the past.
Various ways that people earn money
Important lessons in budgeting money
The basics of banking
The difference between a liability and asset
Various types of debt and how it is used
How people invest in Real Estate
How people invest in the stock market, bonds, and mutual funds
Starting and operating a business
Kid Business Ideas
The purpose of having insurance
Here is What Others are Saying About the Book
I love that this book gives children an understanding of money and finances. Not only does it delve into ideas that make money, but it teaches the facts of money; its purpose, how to use money as a tool to grow in all areas of our lives and other vehicles that help accumulate financial growth.
I learned so much from this book. One detail that stuck with me was the power of working memory. Did you know that it is more important than IQ? As always, I want to share what I learned with you and its benefits to young children.
Let’s Get Started!
One of best ways to improve working memory is to read. Working memory is one’s ability to process information. This means focusing on the information or making decisions about it. A person with great working memory can manipulate information and reformulate it.
Let’s apply this to children. If a child is in school or participating in an extracurricular activity with a group, working memory can help them inhibit distracting information, like their classmates whispering near them. It will also help them keep track of where they are in a multistep task. Furthermore, children with good working memory can access information, like numbers or words, to complete an assignment. It allows children to hold information in their mind and complete tasks quicker.
Other Ways Working Memory Helps Children
It helps children think fast on their feet.
Take smarter risks
Make smarter judgement calls
Adapt to new situations
Stay motivated to achieve long-term goals
Follow a moral compass like doing the right thing in social situations
Working Memory is Better than IQ
Have you noticed that many people with below average IQ scores became great business men and women, bestselling authors, or innovative inventors? IQ is not the best predictor of lifetime success, especially not in our current times.
Thanks to search engines like Google, we no longer need to rely on knowledge such as facts, dates, and names. These types of facts are associated with IQ. Intelligence today is measured by being able to put those facts together, organize the information, and do something constructive with it. IQ is what you know and working memory memory is what you can do with what you know.
The facts below about working memory versus IQ may be shocking to you…
A good working memory is the best advantage in school and is related to good grades.
Kids with good IQ scores don’t necessarily have good working memories.
An average or even high IQ does not necessarily give children the tools for success in the classroom and beyond.
So let’s see how reading can help children improve working memory
Reading requires working memory because you recall information, anticipate what is coming next, and interpret words and sentences. Challenge your child and boost their working memory by reading more difficult books and stories.
For Children Ages 2 to 5
Read aloud to children and challenge them by reading new stories.
For 2-3 year olds, ask them facts about the story.
This will make them use their working memory to review what they know about the story.
If you read to children at early ages, you’ll be surprised at what they can analyze and make sense of.
Ask your 4 year old to give their opinions on the motivations of the characters.
For example, ask your 4 year old the following question: Why do you think the character ignored their friend?
These types of questions will help your child stretch their speculations.
For 5 year olds, if they can read, ask them to read simple and short stories on their own occasionally.
If the 5 year old cannot read, ask them to picture walk.
Picture walk means to look at the images of the story and predict what it is about.
Bonus Tip: For children ages 6-10, read harder material to them.
In doing this, you will stretch their minds and the easier books they read on their own will seem less difficult.
Each night before bedtime, my son and I say a prayer. In every prayer we are thanking God for our many blessings such as a home, food, toys, water etc. As a parent, I try to instill in my son gratitude, appreciation, and gratefulness for his many blessings.
I do remind him that there are people in this world who don’t have homes, toys, and clean water. The first time I explained this to him, he was in disbelief. This led to discussions about people who are homeless and suffer from poverty.
One day he was drinking water after being outside playing. He thanked the Lord for ‘good clean water.’ I told him it is great to be thankful because there are some people who don’t have clean water. We talked about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan after their water source was changed. This change contaminated the water, which led to elevated blood lead levels in the city’s children. It also caused hair loss, itchy skin, and skin rashes.
Let’s Put on the Thinking Cap
Whenever my son, Cory, hears about a problem, he thinks and asks questions about solutions. After doing research, we learned that Earth is covered with 70 percent water. Almost all of Earth’s water is salty in the oceans and we can’t drink it. Only about three percent of the water is drinkable fresh water. Most of this drinkable water is frozen in the Arctic and in Antarctica. Therefore, only about 1 percent of the world’s water is available to drink.
Possible Solution, Maybe
Cory wanted to explore how we could turn saltwater into freshwater to drink. He thought this will provide clean water to Flint, Michigan.
We talked about the three properties of water, which are liquid, solid, and gas. We learned how a liquid turns into a gas and solid. Afterwards, Cory asked we could turn gas into liquid. We started doing some research and found the Saltwater to Freshwater Experiment.
This experiment answered his questions about turning gas to water and finding a POSSIBLE SOLUTION to provide freshwater to those who don’t have it.
I will show you how we did this in our kitchen.
Let’s Get Started
A glass bowl
Put water in a glass
Pour salt in the glass of water
Mix the water and salt
Pour the water in a pot
Put a glass bowl in the middle of the pot
Boil the water and put the lid upside down on the pot
Observe what happens
You will see water dripping in the glass bowl
Turn your stove off and wait until the pot cools
Take the glass out of the pot and let the water cool
Watch the video below to see how condensation makes water.
One day my son was playing with dice from a Monopoly game and play foam numbers. All of a sudden I hear him say, “Mommy, I made up a game!”
When I hear the word “GAME,” I get excited. I think games are the best way to learn because they incorporate the three basic learning styles: Auditory, Visual, and Kinesthetic learning.
I sat on the floor with him and he gave me directions for the game. After playing the game with him, I realized it would be perfect to help kids with number recognition. Since we had a great time playing the game, I would like to share it with you.
Learning to tie shoe laces is a life skill that most people conquer as a kid. When my dad taught me to tie my shoes, I knew that was a big accomplishment. I remember purposefully untying my shoe in school, so my classmates could see my new skills.
As parents, we all have to teach our children this skill. I expected to teach my son around the age of five or six. However, due to his curiosity, I started introducing the concept to him as a two and a half year old.
Answering a Request
One morning, my son saw me tie my shoes and asked if he could do it. Instead of saying, “You will learn once you get older,” I showed him the first three steps in shoe tying. I held the two strings up, positioned them to make the letter x, put one string under the other, and pulled them both to make an initial tie.
We practiced this for a week until he finally knew these initial steps. Whenever I needed to tie my shoes, unless I was in a hurry, he would do those initial shoe tying steps for me. Then I became inconsistent in teaching him the remaining steps until two years later.
My son has a pen pal, named DJ, who lives in another state. They write letters to each other regularly. DJ’s mother texted me one day to ask if my son, Cory, can tie his shoes. I told her that he can do the initial three steps.
A Little Motivation
This text provided motivation to teach my son to tie his shoes fully. However, I needed to know if he was ready. He told me he was ready to learn.
I decided to use a creative learning method called Chain Linking to teach my son this skill in its entirety. Chain Linking is associating information with pictures and a story. In other words, I made up a fun story to describe the steps in tying shoes. Chain Linking created a desire in my son wanting to practice tying his shoes.
Also I did not use the two bunny ears methodthat many parents use. I decided to teach my son the way my father taught me as a first grader.
Below is the Chain Linking story we used when Cory first learned to tie his shoes, called the Kingdom’s Shoe Tying Boy. You will also see a video of him tying his shoes while I am telling the story.
Once there was a boy who lived in a huge kingdom. He was the only one that could tie shoes. He was paid a lot of money to tie the king’s shoes. The boy took the king’s shoelaces and made the number 11. Then he made the letter X, put one string under the other, and pulled them. Next he made a loop and took the other string and choked his thumb. The boy pulled the string through the big hole, grabbed it, and he pulled!
Below are some questions many parents have about kids learning to tie their shoes.
What age should a child be able to tie their shoe?
Most kids learn to tie their shoes at the age of five. This is when many kids start kindergarten and need to know how to dress and undress themselves independently. I personally did not learn until the first grade as a six-year-old. In kindergarten, I remember wearing shoes with velcro straps.
How do you tie laces for beginners?
I personally did not use a “beginners shoe tying” method to teach my son to tie shoe laces. We just took each step one at a time. Before practicing, we set a limit for the number of times my son would practice. For example, one day we said he would try three times. Most times, he wanted to try more than that. However, he knew he could stop at the number we set.
We used the steps featured in the video you saw above to learn.
How do you tie shoelaces so they don’t come undone?
I taught my son to double knot his shoelace. Once he ties his shoes, he takes the two loops or bunny ears and make an additional knot. This works well for us.
About a year ago, my son and I went outside and played in the snow. We took our snow sled and joined the other kids in the neighborhood to slide down the hill. Afterwards, we had a fun snow ball fight, made snow angels, and created snow mountains. We had a blast!
A couple days later, the sun melted the snow. We were happy to see the sun but a little disappointed because we could not have fun in the snow. Spring was making itself known in our city.
We didn’t want to let go of the fun we had with snow, so we decided to make our own. My son and I did this activity a little over a year ago and I forgot about it.
It wasn’t until my best friend, Donna, asked me if we had ever made our own snow. I told her “yes” but forgot to share it with others through this blog.
I live in an area where we get snow every year. However, Donna’s children hardly see snow, so this was the perfect activity for them.
About two days later, Donna sent me pictures of her son and daughter making snow. She said this activity kept them busy for two hours!!!!
Making your own snow is a great hands-on activity for kids. I will show you how below. All you need is two ingredients that you most likely have in your home.
Let’s Get Started
White Conditioner (some people use shaving cream as an alternative)
Container or Pan to make and play with snow
Action Figures (optional)
Cookie Cutter (optional)
Start mixing 1/2 cup of conditioner and 3 cups or baking soda.
We did not measure when we did this activity.
We kept adding more baking soda and conditioner until we got the consistency we liked
Make play time more fun by doing pretend play with action figures in the snow
Donna gave her kids cookie cutters to make various shapes in the snow.
Have your kids create artwork in the snow with sticks from outside.
Below are pictures of the fun our kids had making snow!
As parents, one of the first life skills we teach our children is to clean up. Whenone has a clean environment, they tend to think and feel better. Ensuring that a child cleans up after playing can be a challenge for some parents and kids. Therefore, I have created six games that will make clean up time fun for toddlers.
Let’s Get Started!
Create an “Eat Monster” with bags or bins. Let your child pretend the bags or bins are eating toys or whatever needs to be cleaned up. Below is how we played…
Make a mouth out of the opening of a box or bag you would like the toys to go.
Pretend the box or bag is hungry and wants to eat the toys.
If you have a bag, use your hand to open and close the opening with your hands.
If you have a bin with a lid, move the lid up and down to represent the monster’s mouth.
While your child is picking up the toys, the monster should say, “I AM HUNGRY AND I NEED TOYS TO EAT!”
Your child will hurry to put the toys in the monster’s month.
They will most likely have fun and laugh during this activity.
Create a Slide
If you have toys that belong in a bag or bin, get curled paper, newspaper, cardboard (folded), or poster card and place it in the bag or bin.
If you have a bigger bag or bin, it would be better to use newspaper, cardboard, or poster board.
Have your child put the toys at the top of the bag or bin and slide it down the paper, newspaper, cardboard, or poster board.
Race Against the Count or Clock
Tell your child they have a certain amount of time to clean up. Challenge them to beat the clock!
Tell your child they have 55 seconds to clean up their blocks
Count to 55 and see if your child has beaten the clock or the count.
Count in different languages if you are teaching your child to be bilingual.
If you see your child struggling to complete the task, count a little slower to give them a better chance to win.
You may also help your child clean up, so both of you are racing against the count or clock.
Race Against Each Other
Most of us want our houses or rooms to be neat and tidy, why not make it a friendly competition?
Start the race by grabbing a toy.
Tell your child to say, “Ready, set, go!”
Both of you will hurry to clean up the room.
The person who cleans up their area first, wins!
Many times while cleaning up, we have certain bins, bags, or places we want toys to go. Why not expose or reinforce sorting during this activity?
While your child is putting toys in certain places, identify what is similar about those items.
Toys that encourage creativity are a big part of childhood. My son used them to play, problem solve, build, and even to learn to read and write. However, not all toys are equal. There are some that will encourage your child to use their creativity and others that are limited in this area.
Toys where children are required to push a button are called closed-ended toys. They are fun but limit the child’s creativity and problem solving skills. A toy that plays a song after a child pushes a button teaches them cause and effect. This type of play is simple and straightforward.
However, if a child plays with blocks, they can build a tower, ramp, road, house, etc. It can also be used as an instrument or put together to formulate letters and numbers. Blocks can also be incorporated in pretend play. For instance, my son and I built a hospital and did a role play where he was the doctor and his stuffed animals were the patients.
Creativity and imagination are important in children’s lives because it will help them grow socially, intellectually, physically, and emotionally. It also aids them in expressing their thoughts, feelings, and ideas. I have observed children planning and conversing with each other on how they will play with open-ended toys such as puppets and Play-Doh.
I have also noticed that open-ended toys are cost-effective. We tend to keep these toys for longer periods of times because they grow with the child. When my son was younger, he made simple towers with blocks. Now that he is older, his towers are taller and more complex.
So, if you want to encourage your child to be creative and keep them busy in a positive way, try these toys below.