Amazing Autumn Days – Visit the Apple Orchards

Mark Engelbrecht, ©2013 Some rights reserved. Licensed by Creative Commons Public Works License

Mark Engelbrecht, ©2013 Some rights reserved. Licensed by Creative Commons Public Works License

Ask any kid what happens in the Fall and they’ll most likely tell you that the leaves change colors and fall off the trees. What many kids may not know is that Autumn also signals the beginning of the apple season! Pumpkin gets all the attention as a Fall crop, but apples are also a great seasonal fruit. If you’ve already taken your kids to a pumpkin patch and are in search for another fun Fall activity, round up the crew and head out to an apple orchard for the day! We’ve got tips for making the day a harvest of happiness.

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Family Health and Fitness Day is Coming!

Photo by: Evil Erin

Photo Strawberry Smoothie by: Evil Erin, ©2010 Some rights reserved. Licensed by Creative Commons Public Works License.

The last Saturday in September is designated as Family Health and Fitness Day by the Health Information Resource Center (HIRC) and the U.S. Surgeon General. Local organizations organize fun, health-related events at parks, schools, and communities across the nation to teach the whole family health and fitness basics. Whether you choose to participate in the organized events or want to go it alone, we’ve got some great fitness tips to get your family moving.

Get Everyone Involved

With children of different ages and at different skill levels, it can sometimes be tough to find an activity that everyone can participate in. One way to even out an imbalance is to pair younger children with older siblings and cousins or an adult. For example, try a three-legged race where pairs are comprised of one younger player and one older player. You can also play traditional games like hide and seek– your young ones might actually have an advantage here! Alternatively, take the family out for a walk or bike ride that everyone can enjoy!

Start With Basics

You don’t have to organize a full on basketball tournament or host the ultimate soccer showdown– help your children build their basic sports skills by practicing dribbling the ball down the court or having a goal kicking contest. Your older children can help their younger siblings improve by sharing their experiences and teaching them firsthand!

Keep Cool

September temperatures can be warm, so remember to stay hydrated and keep cool! Have plenty of water on hand and incorporate fun water activities into your day! Surprise the kids with a new water slide or bust out the squirt guns to start an all-out family showdown!

Most of all, have fun! Fitness is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and this is a great chance to show your kids that working out and being active is fun for the whole family! Whether you hit the park, the beach, the gym or the backyard, there’s family fun to be had for all this weekend! Now that you’ve read our fitness tips, head on over to the JumpStart blog for our post on how to celebrate the health aspect of this event!

Developmental Benefits of Play Dough for Your Kids

Play-dough is an entertaining toy that lets your kids’ imaginations run wild. Home-made or store-bought, this simple but fun modeling clay can be used for arts-and-crafts, and comes in a variety of colors. Aside from being enjoyable to play with, however, what are the actual benefits your kids are getting from this toy and how does it affect their skills? We’ve compiled a few reasons why playing with Play-Dough can help your kids’ developmental growth.

Tactile coordination: By forming different shapes and objects with Play-Dough, your kids are able to better their motor skills and their overall coordination. Molding the dough requires care and accuracy, and teaches children how different motions can yield different results.

Creativity: Since the nature of Play-Dough is in its simplicity, your kids can go wild with the possibilities of what to create. Play-Dough encourages children to be artistic, and to create different shapes and models by drawing inspiration from the world around them. Using varied colors of Play-Dough add to this, because it allows children to be more detailed with their imagination. The clay can also be a good means of self-expression for your children, as it gives them the ability to create whatever they’re most intrigued with.

Geometrical ability: Playing with Play-Dough is a great way to get children to learn their shapes. By modeling their creations after the items they see, they learn how objects are composed of different geometric shapes that are of different sizes. They are able to hone the way they perceive objects, and thus learn precision.


Photo by: Wikendenplaydough

National Chocolate Chip Day!

There’s something extra sweet and special about today, May 15th —it’s National Chocolate Chip Day! Did you know that 25% of the cookies baked in the United States are chocolate chip cookies? In honor of this charming little holiday, celebrate with some deliciously baked goodness for you and your Cadets at home from an out-of-this-world recipe for brownies! And not just any brownies, but ones infused with our notable ingredient of the day, chocolate chips!

Photo By Andy Melton

Photo By Andy Melton

Click here to see this out-of-this-world recipe!

Mom: The Brightest Start in Your Solar System!

Mom—she cooks, she cleans, helps with your homework, and has been there for you since day one. We celebrate her once a year, taking the time to appreciate all of the work she does that seems completely out of this world. With Mother’s Day fast approaching, have you thought of how you will be celebrating? There are many thoughtful things you can do to help show your mom that you are grateful for all that she does. Here are a couple of ideas on how you can make your mom feel like the brightest star in the universe for Mother’s Day.

Photo By Gabriela Pinto

Photo By Gabriela Pinto

Click here to make mom smile!

Maracas for Cinco De Mayo

Cinco De Mayo gives us a chance to celebrate Mexican culture, and a part of that culture is music. Maracas are simple percussion instruments that are used instead of the common drum. You can have a set of this rhythmic and rattling sounding pair of your own at home as a result of perfect craft opportunity that will have your little ones shakin’-it to the sounds of your May 5th festivities! Here is how you can make maracas with your kids for Cinco De Mayo.

Photo by Steven Depolo

Photo by Steven Depolo

Decoupage Maracas for Cinco De Mayo

 What you will need:

    • Empty plastic bottles (Empty Salad dressing bottles are perfect since they have a long enough neck for the handle)
    • Modge Podge
    • Brightly colored tissue paper (Try sticking to traditional Cinco De Mayo colors like red, orange, green, and yellow)
    • Paint brush
    • dried beans


Start by having your little ones tear the colored tissue paper into pieces while you take an empty plastic bottle and coat it in Modge Podge using the paint brush.

Once the bottle has been generously Modge Podged, have your kids place torn tissue paper all over the bottle. Have them layer the tissue paper to cover the bottle as you go over the pieces with the paint brush and Modge Podge.

Once one bottle is covered in tissue paper, set it aside and repeat the process with your second bottle.

Let both bottles dry completely

Once the bottles are dry, fill them with your dried beans and place glue on the cap of the bottle before you replace it for a tight seal.

Creating a set of your own maracas is a great craft that’s suitable for children to enjoy as you celebrate the Mexican culture in an upbeat way! Challenge your kids to try and keep time with a beat, counting down in between shakes to keep a steady rhythm. Make these maracas and enjoy your Cinco De Mayo fiesta with your kids!


Get Inspired for Easter

Family, laughter, and fun—another Easter holiday is around the corner! How will you be celebrating? Many of us gather with family and friends to celebrate this time of the year and also enjoy much of what the spring season has to offer. Make this year a memorable one for your little ones and try new things. Whether it be new crafts to share with your loved ones or bringing the colors of spring indoors with decorating, there are so many ways to that you can set this Easter a part from the previous ones. Your kids will have a blast and so will you with these inspiring Easter ideas from Math Blaster!

Photo By Elana Roussakis

Photo By Elana Roussakis

The best part is that you can turn any simple activity into a mini math lesson teaching basic concepts that your kids will learn through hands on practice. Whether it be counting out treats to place in goodie bags or learning proportions and shapes while folding origami bunnies, your kids can strengthen their math skills and have a stellar time while doing it!