Kids’ Netflix Shows That Won’t Make You Feel Guilty

Netflix. The new babysitter.

I will admit – as a work from home mom, my oldest gets a lot of Netflix time. But when he started spouting off random facts about the Earth, animals, lakes and ponds, I started to feel not so guilty.

I realized that it really isn’t the worst thing (except when he starts fact checking ME) and wanted to put together a list of shows you can let your kids watch on Netflix and not feel guilty about putting them in front of the TV.

Word Party:
This is a show about 4 little animals in a daycare-like place (with no teachers, because I have never seen any, but when you’re 2, that doesn’t matter.) They have snack time, nap time, play time, etc. They are “taught” (told what to do) by the “big kids” (kids who are watching.) The songs are catchy as hell and I find myself singing them constantly. They learn/teach lots of words which makes it perfect for kids learning to talk. My 2 year old has a speech delay and cannot get enough of this show.

Ask The Storybots:
This one follows little bots who live in a computer. They answer all sorts of fun questions asked by the viewers. It is filled with more catchy songs that will get stuck in your head at random times of the day, but each song teaches a concept. So as you’re belting them out, your kids are learning. It’s a win/win if you ask me. They also have a Storybots Super Songs on Netflix that highlights just the songs of the show. We are anxiously waiting the new season.

Bill Nye The Science Guy:
Does this guy need an explanation? He was the bomb in the 90’s and is (insert word that means cool here) now in 2017. My 5 year old has learned so much from this show, it’s insane. Although we do get into arguments because in Storybots, there are 8 planets, but in Bill Nye, there are 9. There are about 30 episodes on Netflix right now and we’ve seen each episode 30 times. But it doesn’t get old to me, because my kid seems to learn something new each time he watches.

Super Why!:
ALL THE READING SKILLS. I can’t tell you how awesome this show has been for my 5 year old in his pre-reading skills. He will read the most random things in our environment and I am not understanding how he knows it. It has to be this show. Each episode has different words to read – most of which are sight words which is totally cool with me because that’s just the beginning of learning how to read.

We love this one because both of my kids are really into ocean animals. Each episode they highlight an ocean animal and talk about it for the whole episode. Do you know how many facts about one animal you can get into one episode?! No, seriously. I want to know. It’s a lot.

Sid The Science Kid:
We haven’t watched this one yet, but in my search for educational Netflix shows, this one came up a few times. Sid uses comedy to answer scientific questions from other kiddos. He’s got classmates, a teacher and family to help him answer and explore – including doing some experiments! I am definitely adding this one to our list.

The Magic School Bus:
Much like Bill Nye, I don’t feel like this one needs an introduction either. Along with the old school episodes, Netflix has released a The Magic School Bus Rides Again series, also exploring many different scientific topics. My favorite episode is still when they get tiny and explore Ralphie’s insides. That crazy, wacko Ms. Frizzle.

The Deep:
This is another under water show but instead of with random animals like Octonauts, it’s with a family that explores together. But they dive deep (you see what I did there?) into concepts other than animals – they explore cities, sea monsters, pirates, etc. Those are some pretty cool concepts to get into, too!

So, the next time you need your kiddo to veg out in front of the TV, turn on one of these and you won’t feel so bad. Next step is to teach your kid how to tell Netflix “yes, I am still watching this, stop judging us. Mommy is tired.”




50 Household Items You Can Use To Paint

As much as I hate to admit it, it’s going to start getting cold outside. I don’t play outside in the snow. That’s something special we save for when Daddy is home (aka, I hate it and refuse to do it, so Daddy does it).

But when we’re inside, I do “plan” stuff for the kids to do that don’t require a screen. It’s rare, but I do it.

When I taught preschool, I rarely had the kids paint with actual paintbrushes. To me, regular paintbrushes were just no fun and honestly, made the paint gloppy and took forever to dry. So I would always find other things around the classroom that they could use to paint. Since I started this blog I have been meaning to write them all down for you guys, so here you go! At the end of the post you will find the printable version.

50 Different Household Items Your Kids Can Use to Paint
1. Spatula
2. Fork
3. Pastry brush
4. Potato masher
5. Bottom of a peanut butter jar
6. Lid of a peanut butter jar
7. Pieces of pasta (wet or dry)
8. Plastic cups
9. Tin foil crumpled up
10. Straw (blow into it onto wet paint)
11. Q-tips
12. Apple (cut in half or the bottom)
13. Cotton balls (use clothespins if your kiddo doesn’t like getting super messy)
14. Toy cars
15. Golf ball (place your paper in a box and drop the golf ball onto wet paint on the paper and roll around the golf ball)
16. Legos
17. Dice
18. Marker cap
19. Pipe cleaners
20. Crumpled up plastic wrap
21. Sponge
22. Wooden skewer
23. Fingers
24. Yarn
25. Leaves
26. Loofa
27. Cosmetic sponge
28. Dental floss
29. Nail brush
30. Wine corks
31. Bubble wrap
32. Toothbrush
33. Toothpick
34. Cut up pool noodle
35. Cupcake liner clipped on a clothespin
36. Ice cubes
37. Icing knife
38. Credit card
39. Crumpled paper towels
40. Dry beans
41. Rice wrapped in panty hose
42. Hair brush
43. Comb
44. Rubber stamps
45. Paper towel/toilet paper roll
46. Dish sponge
47. Alphabet blocks
48. Legos
49. Shaped magnets
50. Dryer sheets (held by a clothespin)

I am willing to bet you have most (if not all) of these things already in your house. Ok, maybe not the panty hose (if you’re anything like me) but you can find something similar for sure!

Enjoy making messes! 😉



NEW Subscription Box COMING SOON

Hey there moms!

Does Pinterest totally overwhelm you?

Do you see an awesome at home activity for your little one but then cringe at the idea of having to go to a separate store to buy all the supplies?

And what are you going to do with all that extra baby oil? You have zero use for baby oil.

I am here to save you.

I am launching a subscription box this winter. you choose the age of your child (birth – kindergarten) and I send you a box each month with 2-3 activities that you can do together at home. You will also get access to an exclusive group where parents and caregivers chat about activities that they’re doing at home, tips and tricks about keeping your kiddos engaged and suggestions for games/activities.

I also will include an activity guide with your box. It will explain in depth HOW to do the activity and WHY you are doing the activity. It will also give you suggestions on how to differentiate it if your child isn’t feeling the intended purpose. Abandoning is not always necessary!

To keep up with my progress (including information on a local to Naperville, Illinois focus group), please enter your email here. Keep a look out for your confirmation email in your junk or promotions tab!

I couldn’t be more excited about this launch!

Sensory Balloons

(This post contains affiliate links)

We’ve done sensory bins and we’ve done sensory bottles. I love sensory activities (obviously) so I wanted to keep going.

If you search on Pinterest, these can be called “sensory balls.” I couldn’t bring myself to call them that – because I’m 10 years old.

Anywho, I bring you Sensory Balloons.

Like most of my activities, you can find these contents at the dollar store (The Dollar Tree, to be exact.)

If you check out my other post about sensory bin filler ideas, a lot of those little things can be put into balloons for sensory balloons. Here’s what we chose:

*Black beans
*Cloud dough
*Play doh
*Water beads

You also should grab a funnel because it will help you a lot – trying to do this without one is pretty frustrating. Just make sure you grab a funnel with a big enough hole for the beans.

The beans, cloud dough and rice went in best in small amounts. The play doh we just rolled into “snakes” (or, if you’re 10 years old like me, poop) and dropped them into the balloon. When they start  to reach the top, blow up the balloon a little and then let the air out. Smush all the play-doh together at the bottom of the balloon. Then keep adding.

The water bead one was done one by one, but that’s only because I didn’t have a funnel near me and I’m lazy 😉

Dylan also wanted to make faces on his and who am I to tell him no? Go to town, bud.

I think I might actually make a few to sit at my desk – they are good stress relievers.

This little lady ran off with them while I was trying to snap some pictures. Trouble written all over her face. Don’t let her fool you.

If you try these out, please let me know in the comments!

And as always with my activities, please be smart 🙂 After I filled the balloon, I put it inside another balloon to be extra safe.

Sensory Bin Ideas – All From The Dollar Store

Hey there hey!

If you have read my stuff for a while, you know that I love sensory stuff. I always have, even before I had kids. When I taught, sensory was my favorite center.

I also am slightly obsessed with the Dollar Tree. That is always my go-to when I need stuff (that they sell). My friends usually come to me first when they wonder if The Dollar Tree sells something in particular. What can I say? I’m cheap and everyone knows it.

I did a post a while back with sensory bins. I went through the aisles of The Dollar Tree and grabbed anything I could find that I thought would be good in a sensory bin. Thus, my first sensory bin post was born. And I can’t look back on it anymore because it makes me so sad to see D’s chubby little toddler hands! WAHHHH!

I also did some sensory bottles for the babe when she was tiny. We actually still use them!

You can also find the bins from The Dollar Tree – this is what I use

I had on my list to make a big giant list of all things sensory (and you can download the printable list at the end) so people can keep it on them and take it out when you need to. It’s a whole list of sensory bin ideas. You can take anything from column A (fillers) and add it to anything in column B (tools/toys). And they are all available at The Dollar Tree! (disclaimer, they are all available at MY Dollar Tree in Villa Park, Illinois) 😉

Here we go!

Column A

*Decorative shred
*Crepe paper
*Cut up drinking straws
*Pipe cleaners
*Tissue paper
*Clean mud (shredded bar soap, torn up
toilet paper and water)
*Water beads
*Shaving cream (will need new each time)
*Hair gel
*Popcorn kernels
*Dry beans
*Wrapping paper
*Salt (table, sea or
*Battery powered Christmas lights (seasonal)
*Pom poms
*Fake leaves (seasonal)
*Easter grass (seasonal)
*Pony beads (NOT FOR LITTLES!)
*Raffia cord
*Cotton balls
*Bird seed
*Foam shapes/letters
*Construction paper
*Soapy water
*Fake snow
*Coffee grounds
*Dry cereal
*Baby oil
*Googly eyes
*Frozen veggies

Column B (tools/toys)

*Fake flowers
*Measuring cups
*Measuring spoons
*Silicone pasty brush
*Serving spoons
*Nesting bowls
*Fork/knife/spoon (play versions)
*Plastic food
*Kid scissors
*Party favor cups
*Magnet letters
*Fake money
*Plastic bugs
*Plastic snakes
*Easter eggs (seasonal)
*Rubber ducks
*Ice cubes
*Baby bottles
*Small ceramic pots (seasonal)
*Gardening tools (seasonal)
*Potato masher
*Sand toys (seasonal)
*Large blocks
*Gardening tools (seasonal)
*Superhero/Disney figures
*Cookie cutters
*Small plastic storage containers
*Slotted spoon
*Water balloons (seasonal)
*Cleaning brushes

Sign up for my mailing list (tons of educational ideas!) to get the printable!

If you’re ready for more education at home activities, you can find them here.

I had way too much fun creating all of that! Use your noggin when it comes to things that are age appropriate, alright? alright. Have fun!

Sensory Sniffing Jars


If you are a regular reader around here, you know that I love sensory activities. I will spare you with the details as to why because I’m pretty sure I’ve shared that 100 times.

I took a little break with sensory activities because I felt like it was all I was doing. It took over all of my educational posts. I was a woman obsessed! It’s just so fun to watch the looks on kid’s faces as they cram their hands into some gooey substance or the way their nose turns up with they smell something super gross!

Oh, sorry…I said I would spare you my reasons.

I haven’t really done a sensory activity with the sense of smell. I’ve done plenty with touch.

The Dollar Tree has these little snack containers in their food storage section. I have absolutely no idea what you would store in them because they are so tiny. But naturally, I snagged them up thinking I would use them at some point in my life. I mean, it was 10 containers for $1!


I remember doing a sensory activity when I taught with little jars and holes in the cap. We put different extracts onto cotton balls and plopped them into the jar. The kids loved them! We diffuse oils around here from time to time (read: when I remember to fill it) so I decided to recreate this project, but with oils. BOOM.

I took the little containers and a razor and sliced a small square hole out of the top. I put cotton balls inside each container (2 cotton balls per container) and dropped some oils onto the cotton balls. Some cotton balls got 2 drops, some got 10 drops.


Of course since it was actually supposed to be an infant project, Dylan stepped in to “help” and then couldn’t get enough of them. He would sniff one and then try to tell me what it was.


Reagan tried to eat them. Because she’s 1. She honestly had a lot more fun stacking them then actually smelling (read: eating) them.



We used lime, orange, lavender, blends, cinnamon bark (yuck)….we had a lot of fun putting it together.


Sensory Bottles from The Dollar Store

I took a long break from sensory activities because I felt like that’s all I was writing about. But I couldn’t stay away any longer.

When we went on our road trip to Denver in July to see my brother, I was on Reagan duty in the way back seat. We had already done a trip to Georgia so I kind of had a feeling about how she was going to be.

Well, she was worse. She was so over being in the car and I don’t blame her. I normally don’t mind the car but, like her, I just wanted out. On one leg of the trip she was so mad. We handed her a Sparkling Ice water bottle (because my 13 year old brother is obsessed with them) and it kept her busy for a (relatively) long time. The size was perfect for her and she could fit her hands around it. So I got an idea!


I asked my mom and brother (which basically means my mom) to start saving them for me. Remember last summer I did a blog post on some sensory bins for Dylan before the baby came? Well I have been meaning to make sensory bottles for Reagan and I thought this was the perfect opportunity.

I took a trip to my beloved Dollar Tree with the small opening of the bottles in mind. I grabbed googly eyes, sand, small rocks, marbles, baby shampoo, rice, pasta, pony beads, hot glue gun sticks (glitter glue), alphabet beads, beans, vegetable oil…I was like a kid in a candy store! Which is basically a DIY blogger in the Dollar Store. Or Hobby Lobby.

Oh, full disclosure, I am not sure if you can get food coloring at the Dollar Tree – I don’t think you can. I colored my water with food coloring that I already had at home.

When I started work on them, I took the labels off first. It is much easier to clean if you tear them off in one piece. You are going to have some sticky residue left over, so I used nail polish remover with a cotton pad and then when that dried, I used coconut oil to get the rest of it. Some of it was super stubborn and didn’t all come off, but it wasn’t sticky anymore and that’s all that really mattered to me.

When you’re at the Dollar Tree, for the love of all that is Holy, please buy a funnel. It will save your sanity. You can get them in a pack of 3 for (yep, you guessed it), $1. 😉

Here is what I put into mine. You can mix and match any of those items. I focused on sound for these for Reagan because she loves to make noise.

Here they are, from left to right:

-Pasta and alphabet beads
This one is great for both kids because Dylan can tell me which letters he sees while they are playing with it together.

-Water and hot glitter glue
I loaded up my hot glue gun (every house should have one of these. They should come standard in tool kits) with the glitter glue sticks and melted it onto my silicone craft mat in different shapes and sizes. Once they were cooled off, I peeled them off of the craft mat and popped them into the water. (yes, I realize they resemble sperm).

-Water, food coloring, baby oil and glitter.
The water, oil and glitter all separate but look super cool when you shake it.

-Black craft sand and googly eyes.
This one is really cool for Halloween! She loves the sound this one makes.

-Water, food coloring and marbles.
This one is kind of heavy which is nice because it gives it another sensory experience. It makes a lot of noise and is fun to watch.

-Dry rice and pony beads
Very colorful and makes a cool, loud noise!

-Water, food coloring and baby oil
The baby oil and food coloring separate nicely and like the first bottle, it looks really cool when you shake it up.

-Colored rocks, water and food coloring.
This one also is heavy which is nice and makes a loud noise. It looks cool when you roll it, too!

-Water, food coloring and baby shampoo.
When it’s not shaken up, this one just looks like plain old pink water. But when you shake it, it creates a really cool lather in there.

You can also dye the pasta and rice (I have a tutorial here) if you are feeling super creative. You can alter these to your children’s ages. More letters for older kids, less colors for super young babies. Like most of my projects, have fun with it!

Looking for more sensory activities? Check out all of my education at home posts here.



Alphabet Blocks

Happy Friday!

I’m just going to jump right into it today.

Dylan has been having a blast with his big Duplo blocks. He grabs the big bucket and drags them into my craft room and goes to town. He builds trains, spiders, buildings, cars, “shooters,” airplanes…you name it, he’s built it. He even uses the bucket as part of his play. It’s usually a body of water – ocean, lake, river, whatever.

I have been wanting to do letters with him as he starts preschool in a few weeks (right after Labor Day) but he has no desire. So I thought back to my preschool days. When lesson planning, I always catered to the boys because they were more stubborn. I would be more likely to see boys doing a “girl activity” than girls doing a “boy activity.” So I used the blocks to my advantage a lot.

I took out his Duplo blocks and measured them and then created rectangles for the 2 part blocks. I printed this out and cut them up and taped them to the front of each block (I didn’t have a lot so I used both sides of the blocks for the letters – uppercase on one side and lowercase on the other side).

At first, I’m not gonna lie, he ripped them off and told me he didn’t want them on his blocks. So, obviously not on my side. But I put them back on and he was playing with them. He wouldn’t stack them according to their letter and picture, but I did catch him repeating the letters as he picked them up or saying the picture.

In my book, that’s a success.

You could really do anything on these. Animals, people…tailor it to their age group.

You can download the letter version here for your own use.

Looking for more activities that help with letters? Check out this simple DIY Letter Flip Book!

Emotional Regulation Children’s Books

Emotions are tough to deal with when you’re a kid. They’re even tougher to deal with when you’re the parent – am I right? At least that’s how it is in our house.

True story, I was screamed at one time because I was asked for juice, but upon presenting said juice to my master (ie, 4 year old), I was informed that the cup I brought was the wrong cup. The cup I gave him was wrong because “I can’t see the TV when I drink out of it. I need a skinny cup with a Superhero top.”

Oh, hell no.

I lost it. Needless to say, the juice was promptly put back into the refrigerator to try again tomorrow. So now I was being followed by the angry 4 year old while he screamed “I’ll drink the juice, I’ll drink the juice!” Too little, too late. So after the TV was shut off and he was asked to clean up his toys, the rest of the night was pretty much downhill and I decided we were ready for 4 year old boot camp.

As he followed me around the house, I cleaned (with the little one crawling around following me which is pretty much what she does anyway) because it was all I could do to keep from laughing at his requests (“I don’t want water! I want something funner! The only thing that will cheer me up is juice! My knee told me my legs are broken! I can’t clean up my toys by myself! I can’t stand up” etc etc).

After the meltdown(s), I actually sat down with him and asked him how he felt. Frustrated, sad, upset, angry, what? He seemed very confused so I thought about writing a post about emotion regulation books for littles who are learning about their emotions. If your little is struggling with handling emotions, these are a good idea to teach them about their emotions. It’s not enough to just ask them “are you angry?” because they don’t necessarily know what that means or what that feels like. That’s why we have children’s authors 🙂

I’ve highlighted some of our favorites (that our library had) and broke them down a little bit for you.

The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen
This book is about a grumpy fish who is just a miserable ocean dweller. He doesn’t have a reason to be awful – at least they don’t give it in the book – and I like that. I like that they’re saying sometimes it’s ok to not know why you’re upset. Everyone tries to cheer him up and ask him why he’s so mad. He doesn’t have answers for them. Finally, a mysterious fish (think “pretty blonde in a sparkly dress”) approaches him and simply gives him a kiss. All of a sudden, he feels better and starts spreading the love. I like that. All he needed was some love!

Finn Throws A Fit by David Elliot
This book pretty much describes life with a toddler. A kid is pissed with no reason why (must be friends with Pout Pout Fish) and then after he completely destroys the house like a hurricane, he decides to calm down and eat his peaches. And the parents are just hiding for their lives until he finishes. Case closed. Like I said, daily struggle in life with a toddler.

Glad Monster, Sad Monster – A Book About Feelings by Ed Emberley & Anne Miranda
Love this one. It covers most emotions and what you want to do when you feel those emotions. It also explains what makes the monsters feel this way, which I think is so important because it connects an activity / occurrence with the feeling. And also that all of these feelings are ok. It also comes with some masks that you can tear out and use and a little pocket in the back of the book to store them.

When Sophie Gets Angry – Really, Really Angry… by Molly Bang
This one (like the others) is about anger AND how to deal with it. Sophie gets ticked off because her sister steals a toy and mom takes her sister’s side (I got you, Sophie. I hate that too) and when she’s stomping off, she trips over a truck and gets hurt. THE WORST! So she goes for a walk and sees some calming things and returns home all good. I am not sure I would encourage walks all alone, but you get the idea.

The Feelings Book by Todd Parr
This one was suggested to me by a friend who is a social worker (thanks, Kim!). They describe different feelings (including feeling like a kissing a sea lion…which I want to do daily ;)) and how you should share your feelings with people you love. This is so important! I want my kids to know that they can tell me what they’re feeling, especially when we’re having a hard time connecting and understanding what is going on with them.

So, take your pick and let me know how they do in your house. Or let me know if you use other ones!

Dialogic reading: How to Facilitate Extra Conversation With Your Child During Story Time

One of my most favorite parts of teaching (besides watching their little brains expand and of course sensory play) was circle time. Circle time requires lots of skills for preschoolers. Following directions, listening, reading comprehension…to name a few 🙂

Reading comprehension is a big part of that. Circle times often centered around a book. Depending on the curriculum, it could be the same book each day for a week or a new book each day. I really enjoyed doing the same book all week. Why? Because kids learn by repetition. By Friday, the kids can recite the entire book. But each day you’re doing something different with the book.

On Monday when I would introduce the book, I read it using dialogic reading. Dialogic reading is a great way to get preschoolers more involved in what you’re reading to them. It’s asking follow up questions or precursor questions about the book. “What does it look like will happen next? Is that dog wearing swim trunks? Do dogs wear swim trunks? Where do you think he’s going in those swim trunks?” You can expand on their answers and ask more questions. You can rephrase their responses to gain more information and insight from them. In a way, you become the listener, and he becomes the reader.

Dialogic reading helps challenge kids to think outside of the book. It assists with verbal fluency, conversational skills and abilities and narrative skills (story telling).

Even now as a parent, when we get a new book from the library, I never just read the words. I ask lots of questions to see what Dylan predicts from seeing pictures and me reading the text.
It’s also a really cool way to cater to 2 different ages when reading a book. You can take a younger book and make it more exciting for your older child by adding more prompts with dialogic reading.

Dialogic reading is broken down into 5 different types of prompts – CROWD.

Completion Prompts:
You read a sentence to your child and leave out the last word. These are very popular for books that have repetitive lines or rhyming lines. Your child completes the sentence.

Recall Prompts:
These prompts help the child remember what was just read or what was read at a previous time. So you could ask them in the beginning of the book “what does the caterpillar turn into after he eats all the food?” if he has read the book before. If he hasn’t read the book before, you would ask the question at the end of the book.

Open-Ended Prompts:
These are my favorite. We would call these “picture walks” of the book. These prompts focus primarily on the pictures. You could say “what is happening in this picture?” “Where do you think that little boy is going?” “What do you think the next food he eats will be?”

Wh- Prompts:
These are the questions that begin with “what,” “where,” “when,” “why,” and “how.” These are also focusing on the pictures. “What is that toy?” “What color is that?”

Distancing Prompts:
These are prompts that encourage kids to connect the book with their life outside of the book. “Remember when we saw that caterpillar yesterday in the backyard? Do you think he was going to turn into a butterfly? Do you think he ate salami?”

Distancing and recall prompts are for the older kiddos (4 to 5 year olds) and are often the more difficult of the 5, so don’t feel discouraged if your smaller ones don’t really grasp those.
Depending on the vocabulary of your little, you may want to feel them out with questions and see what they can and cannot answer.I challenge you to try it at story time tonight, then come back and let me know how it goes. I never read a book without prompting questions any more! Click here for your printable, or just grab it below! 🙂 Have fun – can’t wait to hear from you!