Category Archives: tips

The Snip Snip Box and Recycled Crafts

What do you do with all the scrap paper that accumulates in your house. My kids are constantly cutting and gluing and leaving a trail of paper scraps in their paths… and then, there are all the magazines and circulars that come…. plus cereal boxes and other cardboard scraps.

When I was teaching in the public school system, I had a snip snip box in my art center. The kids could use the scraps to practice cutting or create some masterpiece collage or deposit their unused scraps. I decided to add a snip snip box in our house to accommodate my budding artist.

I have this box tucked on a book shelf, next to the scissors, glue and crayons. When the kids are feeling creative, they dig in and make a masterpiece. I encourage them to look in the box for paper before pulling out a new sheet.

Big Brother and Big Sis made their own pencil holders from the materials they found in the box:

The kids’ interest in the snip snip box was renewed when our local children’s museum had a recycled art center. They got to see what other people were doing with different materials!


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File Folder Games and Other Things

I know a current trend, especially in homeschooling, is lapbooks. I think they are great. I wish someone would come to my house and put them together for me.

When I was teaching, one thing I used quite often was File Folder Games. I only taught one grade, so I simply went out and got a Pre-K File Folder games book and had my assistant and student helpers assemble them for me. These games taught great skills like matching, colors, numbers, opposites, one to one correspondence, etc.

I still have several of the games that were made while I was teaching as well as some from this book that I picked up a couple of years ago for Big Brother:

I really liked this book  because all the games are planned out and in full color. All you have to do is cut and paste.

I continually try to find things for Little Sis (2) to do while school is going on. She is quite demanding of my attention and very weepy if things don’t go her way. She is generally a very pleasant child, but for some reason she has not caught on to our family’s vision for homeschooling! I pulled out a few simple file folder games the other day and let her explore. It turns out, she’s really good at and excited about these games.

Color Matching

Big Sis (4) is also a big fan of the folder games. I have been trying to give her more hands on activities as she is getting bored with what we’ve been doing in school. I am also trying to give her more self directed tasks so that I can give Big Brother my full attention when I am working with him.

Color Sorting

Another game I’ve made for Big Sis involves tracing Sight Words with beans. This is an idea I picked up from Pinterest.  I put the cards and beans in a zip lock for Big Sis to pull out and work on when she likes. However, she is really more interested in the beans than in the words.

Sight Word Practice

Big Brother also really really enjoys the file folder games. As I mentioned earlier, my collection of games is very limited to preschool as that is what I taught pre- children. I started looking online and trying to think of things we are currently working on. I plan on making him some more games (Facts about the US, Science related, Language Arts, etc), but this is what I have put together so far.

Another idea from Pinterest:

Contraction Cupcakes

And this is one that I made for him to practice math facts. He really doesn’t like sitting down to a page full of math problems, but if it is in a game form… he’s all about it. The ornaments have the facts on them and he has to match them with the right answer found on the tree:

I cleared a shelf next to our homeschool area and placed age appropriate games in labeled boxes. I showed the kids where they could find their own box to play games. This is a great cure for “mom, I’m bored” and “what else are we going to do today.”

Elementary, Preschool and Toddler Busy Boxes

Some other activities I have in the Elementary Box include Dinosaur Bingo and a Magic Treehouse Activity Book that I picked up.

In the Preschool Box, I have lacing cards from Laurie, a couple of clothespin games I picked up from Pinterest as well as her file folder games.

In the Toddler Box, I have just file folder games with very basic skills, but I will probably add some other little games soon.

Assembling the games is a bit time consuming, but totally worth it in my opinion. I HIGHLY recommend laminating or covering your games in contact paper to make them last. As I was putting games together the other night, I thought about the fact that they have to last through at least four children… maybe more… only time will tell.

Here are a couple of great sites for finding file folder games:

Enchanted Learning

Preschool Printables

Mormon Chic

Christian Preschool Printables

I hope you found this post helpful!

Linking Up Today with:

Hip Homeschool Hop Button

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Money Saving Monday- Two Tip Day!!

Guess what… I’m going to give you TWO tips today…I am just feeling that generous! Aren’t you excited?!?!

Money Saving Tip #1:
When our babies are little, we dilute their juice with water. Well… I never stopped. Big Brother is 6 and Little Sis is 4 and they still drink juice that is watered down. Sure, their tummies can handle the fully concentrated juice, but cutting it with water makes the juice last twice as long. It’s a simple trick, but it saves on the juice we buy… and for now, the kids don’t seem to mind.

Money Saving Tip #2:
I love looking at circulars and catalogs. However, in doing so, I long for things that I don’t need and certainly don’t need to spend money on. I have recently been making a point to unsubscribe from all those tempting emails that come straight to my inbox… like toys r us, lands end, borders, godiva… I am not saying that buying things from these places is wrong. I just know that there are a lot of things I don’t realize I “need” until I see them in living color on my screen!

Thanks for stopping by… I’d love to hear some of your favorite money saving tips… email them to
weelittlemonkeys (at) gmail (dot) com

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Money Saving Monday- Dollar Section

Raise you hand if you love the dollar section at Target!!! You can
always find fun knick knacks, toys, household items, gardening
supplies, etc. in the dollar section. Our children think it is an
amazing place. The hubs and I have decided that there really is not much
point in buying big expensive toys when our children get just as
excited about the the toys in the dollar section. One of Big Brother’s
favorite toys is a marble tracks set he got a couple of years ago from
… you guessed it… the dollar section!

Depending on the season, you can pick up gardening supplies (spring time), pool toys (summer), school supplies (end of summer), winter hats, novelty socks, games, picture frames, etc. We even decorated the kids’ bathroom using items from the dollar section. And if you really work the system and wait until they get ready to put out new inventory, you can get the old stuff for 25- 75% off!

The point of all this is be practical. You don’t have to buy expensive things!

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Money Saving Monday- Buy Used

To borrow a phrase from one of my favorite TV families ( the Duggars… You know the family on TLC with like 19 kids)…”Buy used and save the difference!”

We have been blessed to find friends each place we have lived who have children just slightly older than our’s. We reap the hand me down benefits! We have also been blessed by a generous Gammy who likes to dote on her grandchildren. However, when the hand me downs don’t come in the right size or Gammy’s not around, we head to thrift stores and Goodwill. If you live in the burbs like we do, you can generally find some really nice, sometimes with the tags still on, clothes! Goodwill has baby clothes up to 3T for 99 cents! Yard sales and consignment sales are also great!

Buy used, save the difference can work with other things too… Cars, furniture, baby gear, books, etc. I do not recommend this practice for things like underwear or toilet paper or toothbrushes! In other words, use your discretion 😉 !

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Money Saving Monday- New Addition and DIY Haircuts

If you read our family blog, these Money Saving Monday posts will be nothing new to you… in fact, for a while, they will probably be re-posted from that blog.

I decided that because this blog reaches a different audience, I would share some tips over here as well. When we can get something for free, we are all about it… when we can get something deeply discounted, well… that works too! I rarely pay full price for something… and usually try to figure out a way to handle things myself. I hope you find this new addition to the blog helpful. Please feel free to contact me …

weelittlemonkeys (at) gmail (dot) com

and share your own money saving tips… I’ll totally give credit where credit is due!

So, my little monkeys… here’s your tip for this week…. DIY Haircuts!

I have been cutting my husband’s hair since before we got married. We have a pair of clippers that we bought for about $20. We bought them about 5 years ago and they are still going strong. I also cut Big Brother’s hair and have given Little Sis one haircut as well.
Now, I do get my hair cut by a professional…but only about once every 9 months or so. And I go to the hair cuttery… $15!
I cut the boys’ hair once every couple of months…if we are saving $15 on each hair cut, that’s $180 a year (not including what we’ll save when the girls start having regular hair cuts)!

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Toy Detox (6)

We have SO MUCH stuff! I don’t know how it happens. Just when I think we are “living simply” or not falling into materialism and consumerism… I look around the house and realize that we have quite a bit. We are blessed beyond measure to be the recipients of gifts from generous family members and friends as well as lots and lots of hand me downs. We have rarely had to buy clothes for our kids and have only on rare occasions bought toys for the kids.
Please examine the following so you can see what I am working with…

 I mean… I know that we don’t have the world’s worst toy problem. I didn’t show you everything…I didn’t show you the piles of baby toys, puzzles, music instruments, books, or the 15,000 stuffed animals that all have names and personalities and birthdays. I could be worse. BUT… it could be better. I have a system for detoxing from all the toy madness. The kids know about and take part in the system. Every few months, we rotate toys. We go through the bedroom and the playroom and decide which toys have not been played with in a while. We put them in a pile. We then go through the pile. If we (mostly me) think the toys will be played with again some day, we put them in a box to keep. If we (mostly me) think that the toy has worn out its welcome or is no longer age appropriate, it goes in the giveaway box.

The first box then goes up into the closet until the next time we have a clean up and clean out day. At that time, we take the box down and put those toys back out into the rotation and box up different toys. Am I making sense? Basically, you don’t have all your children’s toys out all the time. You can rotate once a year, every few months, every month, etc. This keeps the toys fresh and exciting… and you’re not spending money on new toys.

Other things we’ve done to cut out the clutter and try to avoid accumulating too much include:
1. Donations- I already sort of mentioned this. However, if you get your kids involved, it can be something meaningful to them. Recently, we have been spending time with some friends who are in process of adopting from Ethiopia. They have regular yard sales to raise money toward the adoption fees. Before each sale, I encourage my kids to go through their toys and books and find at least three things they would be willing to donate to the sale.

2. Rearrange the room- Just simply rearranging your child’s room or playroom can renew interest in old toys. This makes the temptation to buy new toys a little less powerful.

3. Sell, sell, sell… Maybe you and your kids could organize your own yard sale where they get to price and sell toys that they may not play with anymore. We haven’t done this yet, but I am seriously thinking about it.

4. Go to the library. I have recently come to the conclusion that I am addicted to childrens’ books. I have several boxes leftover from my teaching days. Our house is overrun with books. I am dealing with my problem and giving away/ selling the books. We go to the library every few weeks and just enjoy the books we check out from there. The kids’ interests are changing all the time … so I am not going to invest much money in something they will be moving on from soon anyway.

I encourage the kids to take a look at their toys regularly (especially before birthdays and Christmas) to decide what needs to go and what needs to stay.
It is a good practice for me as well. If I am not going to use something, there is no sense in it sitting around collecting dust when someone else could be enjoying it.

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