Let Your Child Have Fun AND Learn About Money This Summer With Money Confident Kids

Bookworm is starting to earn more for his allowance, and at 9, he’s becoming more aware of saving for what he wants.  For instance, every spring, just a few weeks before the annual book fair, he’s suddenly much more interested in doing chores and finding extra work to earn money.

We give him $10 to spend at the book fair, but he usually raises extra money so he can buy a few more books for himself and buy a few for his sisters for their Christmas presents.

Now that we’ve decided to homeschool him, I want to make sure that he learns about money.  We’ve been trying to teach him about money all along, but sometimes kids don’t get abstract concepts like investing and earning interest, especially when he isn’t investing yet.

However, I want him to learn this concept so that when he’s in high school and working part-time, he’ll understand that his mom isn’t crazy when she asks him to open a Roth IRA.  (Say what, mom?  I want to go see a movie and go out to eat with my friends, NOT invest for retirement.)

T. Rowe Price:  Helping Parents Teach Their Kids about Money

T. Rowe Price, in association with Disney, has set up a site, Money Confident Kids, that all parents should consider using.  There is a parents’ section that includes helpful information such as 5 basic money concepts your kids should learn and how to teach them to your children.

T. Rowe Price also stresses that parents should have a constant, open dialogue with kids about finances, both their own and their child’s.

In addition, there is also a wonderful section for educators that includes lesson plans and teaching tools.  Now that I’m a home educator, I plan to use these resources to teach my son more about investing, inflation, and saving.

Making Learning Fun for Kids

What I like most about Money Confident Kids, though, is the section for the kids.  Don’t expect any dry, boring articles here.  Instead kids learn about money through games.

The Great Piggy Bank Adventure

One of their games is a virtual board game, The Great Piggy Bank Adventure.  Because this game was developed in coordination with Disney, the graphics are top notch.

Children choose an avatar, name the avatar and then set a financial goal.  Kids are given 5 goals to choose from; Bookworm choose to save for an art easel for 100 truffles (the name of the currency in the game).  Kids are given some truffles to start with, and then they can earn more truffles along the way.

This game seeks to teach kids not only about money, but also about doing the right thing.  For instance, Bookworm was given this scenario:  He’s walking by the park and sees a little girl fall.  Does he just keep walking or help the girl?  He chose to help the girl, and he earned 10 truffles for doing the right thing.

However, just like there are ways to earn money, there are also ways to lose money such as buying a treat or buying something at the store.  Bookworm resisted these temptations and got to his goal fairly quickly.  (Along the way kids also earn interest on their savings.)

After Bookworm reached his savings goal and the end of the virtual board game, he was given an opportunity to play a video game where he tries to collect more truffles but avoid the wolf.

Then, the child gets the item they were saving for and advances to the next level.  Any remaining truffles that they have move with them to the next level.

If your child loves video games, he’ll love this game.  You will, too, because your child will be learning about money.

Other Games Available

Of course, there are several other games available including a print off, Meet Three Little Pigs, which teaches kids about short term, mid-range, and long-term saving and investment goals.  Other print offs include Money Word Search, Language of Money Glossary, and Costly Crossword Puzzle.

There are also other video games available including Hedge Fun and Hide and Peek.

If you’re looking for a fun way to teach your child about money, look no further than Money Confident Kids.  Your child will likely enjoy the activities, and you’ll find the resources you need to help educate your child about money and how to make smart choices.

T. Rowe Price has sponsored this post and provided information. T. Rowe Price and Disney are not affiliated companies. T. Rowe Price is not responsible for the editorial content or tone of this blog.  All opinions are my own.

Our Strawberry Picking Trip and What To Do with 66 Pounds of Strawberries


Last year, we headed down to Mulberry Lane Farm, the only farm in Illinois to offer u-pick organic strawberries and picked and bought 43.5 pounds of strawberries.  While we thought we had bought plenty, we ran out around January (though we did have some jars of jam left).  It was a sad few months without strawberry smoothies

This year, we went to Mulberry Lane Farm again with the mission to pick even more berries.  The kids are bigger (and more patient), and Bookworm and Peanut Butter and Jelly Girl worked hard in the fields picking the berries.  (Cuddle Bug helped, but after an hour, she was so over picking strawberries!)

What We Bought:

100_4952In total, we ended up with:

30.5 lbs. of u-pick strawberries @ 2.99/lb = $91.19

6 lbs. of already picked strawberries @ 4.99/lb = $29.94

30 lbs. of already picked seconds @ $1.99/lb. = $59.70

All told, we bought 66.5 lbs of organic strawberries for $180.83 or $2.71/lb

What Did We Do with All Those Strawberries?

100_4960For the 36 hours from bringing home the strawberries to processing them all, we were VERY busy.  But now it’s all done, and we have a healthy supply of strawberries.  Here’s what we made with all of our berry loot:

24 jars of strawberry jam

12 quart bags of strawberry rhubarb compote (to mix in with homemade yogurt or in smoothies)

6 quarts of strawberry syrup

6 gallon bags of frozen whole strawberries

We also made some Almond Strawberry Granola, and of course we ate quite a few of them fresh.

If you’ve only bought strawberries at the grocery store, you’re missing out!  These strawberries have a concentrated flavor that can’t be beat.  Plus, the kids had fun picking the strawberries, and Bookworm even enjoyed helping me prep them for processing.

Fun family trip and good food to last all season?  That’s a win!

2013 Summer Reading Programs for Kids

Bookworm at 18 months looking at his books.

Bookworm at 18 months looking at his books.


I find it hard to believe, but my son has just 4 short weeks left of school.  If your kids are like mine, they look forward to summer break but also get bored.  Luckily for me, my son is a voracious reader, but I always like to give him added incentive to read even more.

Several companies make it easy on us parents by creating summer reading programs that encourage our kids to read all summer long.  Reading throughout the summer can help kids avoid the summer slide when students lose skills they learned the previous academic year thanks to the idleness of summer.

Here are some great programs available that we plan to enroll my son in:

Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program:  Read 8 books and record them in the reading journal.  Then, take the reading journal to your nearest Barnes & Noble and get a free book from the selected books offered.

If you’re looking for book choices, Barnes & Noble also gives reading suggestions for kids by grade.

Sylvan’s Book Adventure:  We participated in this last year, and my son liked it because he got to take quizzes after he read the books and win little virtual prizes.

To get started, go to the site and register.  Then, children read books and come back to take a quiz after they finish the book.  (You may want to check to see if the book has an available quiz first before reading.  A few times last summer my son picked a book that didn’t have a quiz available.)

Then, students accrue points for prizes based on their quiz completion.  Parents can also log in and see their child’s progress.

Scholastic Sumer Challenge:  Kids sign up and then utilizing the reading list based on their age, they begin keeping a reading log.  Every week they can participate in challenges and earn digital rewards.  In addition, their reading time will count toward the Read for the World Record.

I love that this program is available for kids as young as 3!

Junie B. Jones Reading Club Get a starter kit with one copy of Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, activity pages and a membership ID card when you join the Junie B. Jones Reading Club.

Half Price Books Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Program:  In the months of June and July, read 15 minutes a day and keep a log.  Kids need to have parents sign it, and when they reach 300 minutes of reading, they can bring in the log & get Bookworm Bucks.

TD Bank Summer Reading Program From May 6, 2013 to September 30, 2013, kids 18 and under who read 10 books and fill out the reading log will receive $10 in their Young Saver’s account at TD Bank.  This offer is valid for new or existing accounts.

Showcase Cinemas Bookworm Wednesday If you live in Conneticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio or Rhode Island, you’re in luck for this program.  Each week, if a child reads a book and fills out the book report form, he gets to see the Wednesday 10 a.m. movie for free!

Your Local Library:  Don’t forget to see what reading program is available at your local library!  My son will take part in the summer reading program as will my daughters.  My daughters are also taking part in another reading program at the library to read 1,000 books before kindergarten.  (We started in January and are on book #327 now!)


K5 Learning: Math and Reading Program for Elementary Students – A Review

Bookworm is finishing 3rd grade, and his grades are coming back strong for reading and spelling.

However, his math grades, specifically for multiplication, uh-hum, leave much to be desired.

Unfortunately, Bookworm seems to take after me.  I always excelled at reading and writing and couldn’t keep my head out of a book.

Math, on the other hand, tortured me.  In fact, I was so bad at geometry that after meeting with my teacher after school for a semester several times a week, she advised me to drop the class, something teachers never did back then.  I just didn’t get it.

We’ve worked with Bookworm on multiplication.  We’ve tried flash cards, multiplication songs and online games.  Nothing seemed to click. . .

until we tried K5 Learning.

What Is K5 Learning?

K5 Learning is a program that focuses on strengthening your child’s reading, spelling, math and math facts comprehension.

It is designed for kids in kindergarten through 5th grade.

It’s not meant to be a homeschool program, but rather to supplement what your kids are already learning in school.

In addition, it’s easy enough to navigate so that your child can work independently with minimal guidance from you.

How Does K5 Learning Work?

Each child who signs up for K5 Learning first takes an assessment.  This assessment allows K5 Learning to place your child at the appropriate level.  It’s not based on age or grade but on your child’s ability.

For instance, in phonics, Bookworm placed in the upper 2nd grade level, but for reading comprehension, he placed in the lower 4th grade level even though he’s only in 3rd grade.

We’ve used K5 Learning for 6 weeks now, and my son has used both the math and reading/spelling programs, but his main focus has been on math facts as we try to strengthen his knowledge of multiplication.


Bookworm picks two math facts he wants to focus on, such as 7 x 12 and 8 x 12.  Then, he is given a real life example to learn the fact, such as someone buying 12 movie tickets at $7 each.

After he has practiced these two facts for several minutes, he then goes on to take a “quiz” where the two facts are included with several other facts.  This part is timed, though he’s never run out of time before he finishes.

After he has completed this section, he earns 5 minutes of arcade time.

The arcade time helps reinforce what he is learning.  His favorite arcade game is Math Jong.

Much like Mahjong, he is given tiles, but these tiles have cartoon faces on them, multiplication problems such as 5 x 6 and answers such as 30.  Bookworm matches the faces as well as the multiplication problem and its answer to clear the tiles.

After 5 minutes, his arcade time runs out and he must practice more math facts before he earns 5 more minutes of arcade time.

How Can Parents Use K5 Learning?

Parents can check their child’s progress on K5 Learning through the parent dashboard.

I can see at a glance how much time Bookworm has spent on each of the 4 areas of learning–spelling, reading, math, and math facts.  I can also see how well he’s doing.  For instance, I see that he’s taken 13 spelling quizzes and is averaging 92%.

In addition to monitoring your child’s progress, parents can also do things like add spelling words for your child to learn (perfect if he has an upcoming spelling test at school), and assign math or reading lessons for your child to complete.

Is K5 Learning Right for You?

Of course, only you can answer that, but you can try it out for 14 days for free. Best of all, when you sign up for your free trial period, you do NOT have to give your credit card information, which I love.

For us, K5 Learning is worth the $25 monthly fee.  (You can also sign up for one year for $199, lowering your monthly rate to $16.58 a month.)

K5 Learning has helped my son learn multiplication, which no other method we’ve tried has done.  In addition, I plan to have him continue to use K5 Learning throughout the summer so he doesn’t lose all the academic progress he has made this year.

While this review has mainly focused on the math facts, which we used extensively, the spelling, reading and other math sections are also good, and Bookworm will spend time in those areas this summer. . .

as soon as he gets multiplication down.

Have you tried K5 Learning?  What is your opinion?

A Fun Spring Break Trip: Checking Out the New Farm Where We’ll Get Our Meat CSA

100_4489We’ve belonged to our current meat CSA for nearly a year, and unfortunately, since the drought last summer, the quality has decreased while the price has increased.  We are now getting cuts that we don’t mind once in a while like ham hocks and neck bones, but these items come fairly frequently.  Our last CSA delivery is next week, and after that, we’re not going to renew.

We still want to buy local, grass fed meat, though.  An internet search on localharvest.org put us in touch with a family farm about 2 hours from our home.

Before we signed up for this CSA, though, we decided to visit the farm.  My husband and I wanted to see how the animals were raised, talk to the farmer, and let our children see a working farm in action.

Last week on a gorgeous spring day, we headed out to the farm.

Visiting the Farm

The farmer and his wife have 7 children, and farming is a family effort.  They have approximately 80 cows, 50 pigs and chickens both for eggs and meat.

The pigs stay in the barn, though both ends of the barn are completely open so they get the fresh air and sunshine.  I found it amazing that the frisky, running piglets grow into large 250 to 300 pound animals in just 6 months.  I also was surprised to hear the sounds they make–more like barks than snorts.

The cows are on pasture, and when we saw them, they were just lounging in the grass.

The chickens produce about 140 eggs a day.  They also had baby chicks that were only 8 days old.  My kids loved seeing those!  The farmer’s daughter also brought them a baby duck to pet.

What We’ll Order

Right now, we’re paying $3.40 per dozen for organic eggs at Costco.  However, after reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma (a book review of that is coming shortly), I learned that just because eggs are organic doesn’t mean that the chickens are raised humanely.  Instead, large egg farms keep them enclosed in barns in such tight living quarters that they cut off the chickens’ beak tips so they can’t attack one another.  That’s not how I want to get my eggs.

Eggs from this farm, where the chickens have plenty of room to graze and our free to go outdoors, cost $4 per dozen.  My husband and I will gladly pay the price difference of .60 cents, and we can’t wait to see how much better the eggs taste and look.  We’ll get our first delivery in May.

We also signed up for the meat CSA.  We’re going to skip the beef from them since I get beef from my cousin’s husband.  Instead, we’ll be getting at least two whole chickens per month and cuts of pork.  We’ll pay $90 for approximately 18 pounds of meat.  That’ll equate to $5 per pound, which I think is a great price for eating local, organic, mostly grass fed meat.