Tag: raising children

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!

Best Fall Books for Readers of All Ages

Best Fall Books for Readers of All Ages

Cooler temperatures are arriving all across the country! (If you’re still suffering from “fall heat” in Texas or California, I sympathize.) It won’t be long before we’ll all curled up on couches under cozy blankets, and if you’re anything like me–you’ll want a good book with you. Here’s my list of the best fall books; be sure to leave a comment with YOUR favorites.

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


Scroll down to the bottom for information about our fall reading challenge and giveaway!


Best Fall Books for Babies and Toddlers

My toddler loved every book written by Liesbet Slegers. Check to see if your library carries them!

I’ve read the entire “Mouse and Minka” series too many times to count! These are definitely worth adding to the family library.

Little Blue Truck just feels like a fall book, doesn’t it?

Best Fall Books for Preschool and Kindergarten

While Fletcher learns about fall, he teaches us about kindness and being a good friend.

My girls love this book, and I do too! Frog and Toad is a classic; it sure reminds me of my childhood.

Kevin Henkes is most well-known for his sweet books about mice (Owen and Chrysanthemum are two of our favorites!), but In the Middle of Fall is also a wonderful book to read aloud! (Especially if you live in a part of the country that gets snow.)

Lois Ehlert might be one of my very favorite author-illustrators. Not only does she use interesting materials to create fascinating images in her books, but she also includes little details about how she came up with the idea of her story/illustrations, which is fascinating for adults and aspiring authors and artists.

Best Fall Books | fall books for kids, fall books to read, fall read aloud, fall books for adults, read aloud activities, free printable

Best Non-Fiction Fall Books

Now that we live in the Midwest, my girls are learning a lot about farming. This book is a great introduction for children who might not have experienced farm life for themselves.

One of my girls LOVES non-fiction text, and she loves this book. Full of photographs and information about identifying trees by their leaves makes this a great read for science-lovers and novices alike.

Best Fall Books for Bigger Kids

If you live in a climate without snow, this book is a great one to read by the Christmas tree with your iced tea. 😉

You may know Mo Willems for Knuffle Bunny and Elephant & Piggie. This sweet story has a different feeling, but it’s a lovely book to read with your young writers to teach cyclical storytelling.

I found Wonderfall on a display at my local library. It’s full of clever puns and fun word choice. It’s a great example of a picture book that is just right for older readers. 😉

Best Fall Books for Tweens and Teens

I read this book in one afternoon and then immediately put it into the hands of my 9-year-old. It’s a beautiful story!

Kate DiCamillo is a gifted writer. Her stories are so worth reading aloud with your children. I would recommend starting with this one.

My own girls aren’t ready for the Wingfeather Saga just yet, but I loved all four books. This series is on par with Harry Potter and the Chronicles of Narnia. (How often can you say that?!)

I love Anne of Green Gables (as any reader alive in the 1980s probably does), but Emily and all the folks at New Moon hold a special place in my heart. This is a great series to binge read under a blanket.

I love this book. <3

Best Fall Books | fall books for kids, fall books to read, fall read aloud, fall books for adults, read aloud activities, free printable

Best Fall Books for Adults

Nothing helps your children fall in love with books like seeing you read a book! These are four I have loved.

Beautiful story.

Katherine Reay writes really engaging fiction. This is her first book, and it remains my favorite!

If you like non-fiction books, I highly recommend this one. Engaging story made even more amazing by the fact that it’s true.

I never expected to love this book, but I did. Fantastic story, but note: there is a lot of language sprinkled throughout.


Does your family love to read?

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!

Join our fall reading challenge by clicking on the image or scroll down to the signup form below!

Fall in Love with Reading Challenge from Rolling Prairie Readers | free reading log printable

Making Learning Fun for All Families | Two Moms, One Podcast

Making Learning Fun for All Families | Two Moms, One Podcast

A while back, I had the opportunity to chat with Yvonne and Raewyn at the Two Moms, One Podcast show. The moms asked me to come on and talk about a topic I’m passionate about: making learning fun for all families.

For whatever reason, it seems like kids of this generation are growing up thinking that learning is hard and reading is boring. While we could talk about standards and excessive testing, I think a major issue to consider is that our children don’t have much free time. (Certainly school wasn’t any more fun a generation or two ago.)

I have lots of great memories of hands-on fun at school. We got to incubate and hatch chicks, make a solar kitchen, go on the “Oregon Trail,” dress up for pioneer day, etc. After school, I would run outside with my neighborhood friends for hours. We had a lot of freedom to explore and learn new things through discovery.

To contrast, this generation goes to school all day, followed immediately by after-school activities and sports programs. Our kids are surrounded by information (often instant access on the phones in our pockets), but somehow seem disconnected from the discovery process. It breaks my heart to hear the negative feelings our kids have about  learning.

When Yvonne and Raewyn asked me for tips that parents can use to make learning fun and bring hands-on learning experiences back to our family culture, I was more than happy to share!


Listen to Melissa Droegemueller of Rolling Prairie Readers talk about making learning fun on the Two Moms, One Podcast show.

You can click here to listen to the podcast,
or scroll on for my best tips and resource recommendations.


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

Making Learning Fun

  • What should your child be learning?
    This will take a bit of research. Get familiar with your state standards website and also chat with your child’s teacher about current learning objectives in the classroom. Another great resource is the Core Knowledge series of books, which make it easy to know exactly What Your First Grader Needs to Know.


You may be interested in our Age-Appropriate Learning Workshop!


  • Match up your child’s interests with a new skill. Teachers can’t always tailor every lesson to a child’s specific personality and learning style, but parents can! Bring in a sensory tray for your young writer or take your kinesthetic learner out to the trampoline to practice math facts.  If you’re not sure exactly how to create a personalized learning plan for your child, then be sure to sign up for our freebie!
  • Talk positively about school, education, and learning. We all want our children to graduate and get a job. We also want to inspire and empower our children to follow their passions and use their unique gifts to make the world a better place. That can only happen when our kids read for fun and learn outside of the classroom.
  • Build stamina with your little ones before they start school. Read aloud often. Allow them to create art and build cities with their blocks. Take them outside to explore nature. Most importantly, play games where they are expected to take turns, follow directions, and finish a task. Buy toys that can be used in a variety of ways to extend the experience. (See our must-have materials for learning at home.)
  • Create a flexible learning environment at home. Children aren’t meant to sit in desks all day long. Let your kids lay on the floor, work at the couch, bounce on an exercise ball, or do their homework outside. Take frequent brain breaks. Dance, take a walk, hang upside down…

FREE Personalized Learning Plan: custom learning activities for your toddler or preschooler!

Get a FREE personalized learning plan for your child!


Making Math Fun

Utilize your child’s learning style to practice math at home. Let your tactile learner use “manipulatives” to act out the problems. Teach your visual learner to draw the information and find key words. Make up skip-counting songs for your auditory learner to learn their math facts. Play Uno, Rack-O, and Pass the Pigs. (See our favorite math toys here.)

Making Language Arts Fun

Read-aloud from a young age! Go to the library often, and bring home books that interest your child. Read a book together, and then watch the movie as a family. Write about family trips when you get home! Go to author events and buy signed copies of books. Try book subscriptions and book clubs.

Making Science Fun

Try a new experiment each weekend. (You can get family science activity ideas on my Pinterest board here.) Go on nature walks and explore animal habitats in your area. If you’re okay with quality screen time, then you could watch either Rachel and the Treeschoolers or the new Magic School Bus.

Making History Fun

Some children will love to learn more about history by reading books. Series like The Magic Treehouse, I Survived, and Who Was….? can bring the past to life. You can also watch age-appropriate documentaries and take family field trips to history centers all around your state!

Making Geography Fun

Obviously, there is no better way to expose your kids to geography than traveling together. You can explore maps, directions like north, east, south, and west, learn about public transportation graphics, and distance. Children can also learn about landmarks, natural resources, and other cultures. Even if you can’t go far, family adventures are one of the best ways to make learning fun!

There are many ways to strengthen geography skills from home, too. Buy maps and globes, stock your family library with a quality atlas, and explore the world through webcams and travel sites.  You can even use classic games like Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? or Stack the States!

Making Learning Fun | parenting, families, hands-on learning activities for parents and kids, tips for parents, math, science, history, geography

Making learning fun at home is an attainable goal for all families. Try one new learning experience each week! Choose positive language about school, and most of all, model lifelong learning for your kids. If I can help at all, just let me know!