Tag: fall

3 Tips to Make School Holidays Easier

3 Tips to Make School Holidays Easier

Hooray, the holidays are here! Having our children home from school (whether it’s fall break, winter break, spring break, or summer break) is a wonderful gift of time and family togetherness. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to go on fun adventures and learn through play. However, school holidays often fall during the time of year when we are inundated with extra activities and a longer-than-usual to-do list.

How do we enjoy the break while still getting things done and keeping our kids learning and happy?

3 Tips to Make School Holidays Easier | activities for kids, family activities, holidays, raising children, fall, winter, design your day, free printables

Take a Break

It’s important that we build in time for kids (and ourselves!) to relax during school holidays. Getting up early, following a schedule, and doing things we don’t really enjoy can take its toll. Before your kids get out of school, block off a day or a few hours to do absolutely nothing. (YOU TOO!) Snuggle up on the couch and watch a movie, do a puzzle, or take a nap. If you know you’ll have a busy afternoon, take a slow morning. If you have a busy travel schedule, build in a “recovery day” for the entire family.

Offer Choices

Being a student is hard work. Children are told where and how to sit, when to go to the bathroom, when to eat lunch, and more. There are a lot of benefits that come from being part of a larger learning community, but our children also need to learn to self-regulate. Offering our children choices during school holidays can lead to more confidence and cooperation.

When your children are younger, offer them two choices that you like. (Would you like apple slices or applesauce with your lunch?) As they mature, you can give them a more open-ended opportunity to plan their entire lunch–or outfit or schedule, etc.

Designate a Line Leader

Several years ago, I grew tired of listening to my two children bicker constantly. I decided to use one of my tools from the classroom to make things easier on all of us: the line leader. On odd days of the month, my older daughter gets to go first in the shower, up and down the stairs, getting in and of the car, you name it. Our younger daughter gets to be line leader on even days of the month.

It sounds silly, but it can negate one hundred arguments each day. The line leader chooses the vegetable for dinner, who gets to push the cart at the grocery store, who gets dropped off first at AWANA, you name it! And of course, Mom and Dad always get a veto.

30 Winter Activity Ideas for Families | FREE School Holiday Survival Guide at flourishwithyourfamily.com

FREE School Holiday Survival Guide from Rolling Prairie Readers! Get yours at FlourishWithYourFamily.com

School Holidays Survival Guide

Over the years, I have created a handful of printables that make our home life a bit easier. I have bundled them up into a FREE downloadable guide to help your family flourish during the school holidays.

Here’s what’s included:

  • a weekly calendar template with tips for creating a flexible family schedule
  • a “menu” of more than 20 low-prep activities to keep your children happily engaged
  • lists of recommended seasonal books to grab at the library
  • a family reading log
  • our favorite resources for learning at home
  • AND 30 winter boredom busters!
FREE School Holiday Survival Guide | activities for kids, family activities, holidays, raising children, fall, winter, design your day, free printables
Baking with Kids to Shape Their Future

Baking with Kids to Shape Their Future

Fall has arrived, and I am on the hunt for indoor activities to do with my children! Since Thanksgiving is the week, I thought it would be the perfect time to reach out to Cynthia of Mom’s Bread Bites to get her thoughts on the benefits of baking with kids. Grab some ingredients, and bake a loaf of bread together this week!

Why Bread?

The act of how to make your own bread has been a basic life skill for almost a long as we humans have been around.  It’s easy and more convenient to pick up a couple super big, chewy loaves at the store than to measure ingredients, mix them together, let it rise, shape it, then bake and cool it down.  Sounds more like an exercise regime, doesn’t it? Reading into the history of bread, YES, it used to be very labor intensive!

Yet more people are becoming aware of ingredients and for choosing to make what they can from scratch at home.  Even if allergies and diet aren’t high on your priority list, the benefits of bread making are so much more than just knowing what’s inside of your food. It can, in essence, help to build character and improve mental health.

Bread baking can be incorporated into busy lifestyles if you truly want to make the time. And starting children off young is half the effort. We all want our children to be their best, so invest in them.

Be sure to check out Cynthia’s Bread Making Bootcamp posts!

Baking with Kids | kids in the kitchen, indoor family activities, making bread with children, learning activities, Thanksgiving cooking

Your children can start helping in the kitchen as young as two years old and contribute until they are baking all on their own. Making bread is an inexpensive way to get them started contributing.  Much like chores and routines, the actual act of making bread gives your child a sense of value and a role to play in your family. When everybody has a job to do, including dumping and mixing, there is a certain peace in the home.  The kneading and shaping bread is very hands on. You can get elaborate if you like, but the goal is to share an enjoyable activity together while creating something.

Baking has also been proven to be therapeutic is using various ways of therapy!

It’s a Creative Outlet

There are many people who have children with special needs and it is harder for them to learn basic life skills be they social or otherwise. There is an art and level of creativity that can be used when learning how to make bread because there’s a lot that goes into simply feeling what it is in the dough and tweaking based on what it needs. Yeast bread is a living thing and needs care and attention.

Baking for Neighbors

I love baking for my neighbors, who almost never refuse one of my test recipes.  As an extrovert, it gives me a reason to knock on their door and bring along my littles so they can meet us. I have yet to have anyone refuse, and often they follow up later in the week with “that bread was GONE the same day!”

I believe that bread making can serve an important and vital role in our communities, be it an outlet for a child having “Big Feelings” and no words yet, or a local bakery offering an apprenticeship to at-risk youth. Children matter, no matter how small. Or big. Their future is based on their todays, so we cannot remind them enough that they are important and have value to the family and their community. We all want to belong and be loved.

I recently read a story about a downtown LA bakery that offered job opportunities to former gang members. Unfortunately, it was burned down in the 90s. The idea resonated with me about offering opportunities to people who need them, especially our kids.

People often need chances to prove and reprove that they are.  While I certainly don’t assume anyone’s child will become related to a gang or have less than desirable friendships, the benefits are clear. It’s very much a “teach a man how to fish” kind of thing. As our children grow, they gain more experience, and we offer more responsibility, more freedom, and more individuality.  Right in their home.


Baking with Kids | kids in the kitchen, indoor family activities, making bread with children, learning activities, Thanksgiving cookingMom’s Bread Bites

Cynthia is a self-taught bread baker and homeschooling mom of three. She began making bread as a way to cope with a tragic loss and it helped her to fight depression and work through grief in a healthy way. Now, she teaches moms how to use breadmaking to create lasting memories with their children.

You can visit Cynthia’s website, Mom’s Bread Bites, or follow her on Facebook!

Fall Family Traditions + Gratitude Journal

Fall Family Traditions + Gratitude Journal

Growing up in Texas, cooler weather and changing leaves usually arrived at the same time as Christmas. Now that we have moved to the Midwest, our girls get to experience a TRUE fall: harvest, apple-picking, pumpkin patches, and jumping in HUGE piles of leaves in the yard. We also have been able to start new fall family traditions! 

(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you.)

Fall Family Traditions:

  • Visit a pumpkin patch or apple orchard.
  • Rake up leaves from the yard and jump in them. (Bonus points for raking a neighbor’s yard, too!)
  • Go on a nature hike and gather items for a homemade wreath craft.
  • Complete a family puzzle or LEGO set over a few weeks’ time.
  • Listen to an audiobook on the couch while doing a project.
  • Participate in our fall reading challenge.
  • Invite a family over for a meal.
    This can be for Thanksgiving (think of someone who doesn’t have extended family nearby) or another meal during the month of November. Have your children help plan the menu, go shopping, set the table, and prepare the meal together. Teach your children about serving others and being hospitable.
  • Do a family service project.
    Gather items for the local food pantry or women’s shelter. Snuggle dogs or cats at the animal shelter. Write letters for veterans. Create small care packages for the homeless (warm socks, toiletry items, snacks). Participate in Operation Christmas Child or Angel Tree.   
  • Bake (or buy) cookies and talk about what each family member is grateful for. You can make a gratitude jar, banner, or start a gratitude journal to add to each year.

Fall Family Traditions | family activity ideas, teaching kids to be grateful, helping others, gratitude journal for families, making a difference


Make a Gratitude Journal:

When your children are old enough to understand what “thankful” means, go out and buy a family journal. I would recommend one with unlined pages and a spiral binding.

Decorate the cover together with fabric or scrapbook paper. Trace each child’s hand on a page in the journal and allow them to fill it in with markers, stickers, colored paper, magazine scraps, etc. Write down what they are thankful for (or let them write in the journal) and date the entries. Each year, bring the journal out and reminisce about previous years.

Start a new family tradition: create a gratitude journal!


Join our Fall Reading Challenge:

Reading aloud with your children for 15 minutes a day can have significant impact on your:

  • family bond
  • child’s love for learning
  • child’s emotional and academic success
  • and MORE!

You can grab our FREE printable reading log and get details about our November book giveaway below.

Grab our free printable reading log at rollingprairiereaders.com!