Tuesday, April 11, 2017

4 Questions to Help Your Kids Clean Out Their Closets

The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and the bees are buzzing. It’s enough to entice anyone to “spring” outdoors and enjoy the fresh air. The clutter that is lurking in your child's closet when spring arrives is a compilation of an entire season’s worth (or more) of belongings. School-a-thon will help you dive into your spring cleaning and get your kid’s messy closet sorted. Here are some questions to ask yourself and your little helper when starting this endeavor.


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Can I Live Without This?
Instead of thinking of what you could use something for, think if you could get away without it. You can probably think of a million and a half crafting projects or other uses for your child’s hoarded odds and ends, but odds are you’re just delaying the inevitable, which is throwing it away or adding it to a future garage sale. Remember, it’s spring cleaning, not spring “Oh, I remember this thing-ing.”


Could We Donate This?
Living without something doesn’t always mean you need to toss it in a landfill and forget about it! Donating a seldom used item can be a wonderful thing and will lead to some pretty nifty tax write-offs. Some of the most sought after belongings to donate are:


  • Jackets
  • Sleeping bags
  • Toys
  • Glasses
  • Clothing


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Could This Space be Put to Better Use?
Maybe your cluttered closet could be a new home for arts and crafts supplies, or maybe storing clothing in the closet could allow you to get rid of a dresser and open up the room for more activities. Check out some of these organizational tips to make the most out of your soon-to-be clean space.


When Did I Use This Last? Do I Plan to Use it Soon?
It’s likely that the tennis racket you bought in 2004 that you used twice isn’t going anywhere. Maybe your little trumpet player didn’t make it to Louis Armstrong’s level, and that’s ok. While there are objects of value you’ll find, think about their practicality. Lower stress, greater happiness, and increased self-esteem have been associated with minimalism, so if you don’t have plans on using it, it might be better off for sale or donated.
If you’ve asked all these questions, and followed through with constructive answers, your closets should be organized and in tip-top-shape. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe for more parenting, fitness, and life tips!

Monday, March 27, 2017

How To Power Nap: Increase Your Energy By Laying Down

As a busy parent, it can seem impossible to find the time of day to fit everything in, let alone rest a bit. But carving out the time to nap can be surprisingly beneficial and aid you in getting everything else on your plate accomplished. Learning the secret to the power nap can help you increase your performance and energy levels.

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According to draxe.com, a 10-20 minute nap has the most benefits, some maintained for up to 2.5 hours after waking up. If you sleep longer than 20 minutes, your body can experience up to 30 minutes of impaired function after waking, usually called grogginess. Each body is slightly different, so when trying out the perfect length of your power nap, start by taking a 15-minute rest and see how you feel.

Early afternoon seems to be the best time to nap. Our bodies are naturally programmed for two periods of intense sleepiness, from 2 AM – 4 AM and from 1 PM – 3 PM. If you have a hard time falling asleep quickly, try darkening the room, listening to meditation music, or even swaying in a hammock. It is also important to note that the more regular your naps are, the more effective they become. A person who power naps every day will see the most improvements.

Benefits Of The Power Nap

Did you know regular napping increases your body's ability to control cortisol and other hormones related to stress? Napping can also improve your mood, help you relax, and restore alertness. A 10-minute nap has been shown to increase alertness, cognitive performance, memory, and stamina. If you find yourself always lacking energy and feeling fatigued, working a power nap into your schedule is a better solution than grabbing for another energy drink or cup of coffee.


The research is conclusive: the perfect nap is powerful. Consider catching up on some shut-eye this weekend and see how you feel. Maybe it will become a daily doze.

Follow School-A-Thon on Facebook for more parenting tips and life hacks.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Get Your Kids Excited About Healthy Cooking

There’s something to be said about cooking a wholesome meal for you family, but even more can be said about cooking a healthy meal with help from your family. If you’re looking for a way to spend more time with your little ones while teaching them an invaluable skill - look no further. We’ll cover a few ways to get em’ smiling in the kitchen & eating healthy at the dinner table.

baking-1951256_1920.jpgKeep it Simple
Seeing a 7-year-old whip up filet mignon & lobster would be impressive, but it’s a better idea to find something that’s suitable for your child’s age. You’ll find that recipes involving specific measurements will typically end in disaster. These healthy & easy pita pizzas are a great place to start!

Do Some Prep
A bit of preparation never hurt anyone. Depending on the age of the little one, it can be a good idea to get the chopping & some of the measuring out of the way. They’ll eventually be able to mince onions like a pro, but for now, it’s all about the basics.

Real Ingredients are Best
Cooking real food with your kids is an excellent opportunity to teach them about the benefits of eating healthy. It’s also a great way to get them used to eating a well-balanced diet - which will pay off big time in the long run.

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Be Ready for a Mess
Messes happen, especially with kids in the kitchen. We learn from mistakes & it’s a great way to teach them to pick up after themselves – which might even lead to less dirty dishes in the future. Having some paper towels or a washcloth handy. Spare ingredients could be worth your while if your kiddo is particularly accident prone.

Make it a Regular Thing
The only way to improve a skill is through practice. By picking a day of the week to cook a meal, they’ll start to look forward to spending time in the kitchen. You’ll be building on a routine that can turn into a tradition.

Food has an interesting way of bringing people together, and there are many lessons that can be learned in the kitchen. By whipping up some healthy & delicious eats you’ll be teaching your child healthy habits that can last a lifetime.

For more tips on healthy eating be sure to follow School-a-Thon on social media.





Friday, January 13, 2017

Keep the Winter Blues Away by Staying Fit and Active

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We’ve all been there before - especially in the Mid-West. The cold weather blues have become a part of life that often sneaks in unnoticed. As you continue reading, you’ll gain a few tips and tricks on how you and your family can avoid feeling SAD This winter.


Let in the light
Give your kids an added immunity boost by opening the shades! Natural light can offer a variety of health benefits, such as reducing symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder and increasing productivity and energy. In fact, The National Institute Of Health notes that exposure to natural lighting can reduce sick days by roughly 6.5 percent!


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Be Active Outdoors
Yes, you read that correctly - there’s no way you’re going to change the weather, so you might as well embrace it! Kids can always find something to do; build a snowman, make a fort, go sledding - there are tons of options. You can always take part in these activities with your kids, or you can learn something new with them. Perhaps Cross-country skiing or snowshoeing is in order. These activities will increase your heart rate and give you a reason to enjoy the scenery.


According to Dr. Emanuel Maidenberg at the Semel institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior, physical activity is an effective treatment for mild symptoms of depression. How often should someone get out and get physical? Studies suggest 3-4 times per week is enough to enjoy the benefits.


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Eat Smart
Studies show that Vitamin D deficiencies are common in regions that experience harsher winters. To help your family avoid this common ailment (and a few less common ones) try upping your daily dosage of fortified dairy, citrus fruits, and vegetables. Check out this full list of winter superfoods or try a few of these kid-friendly recipes.


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Socialize
Even if you’re not feeling all that social, Dr. Maidenberg suggests that spending time with others - even for a little bit - is enough to kick some of your cold weather blues. Plan a play date with other kids and their parents, attend local events, or take an art class as a family. There are plenty of ways to socialize during the winter; some just require a bit more research!


Like everything else that’s worthwhile, this takes some effort -but don’t fret! It can be done one reassuring step at a time. You’ll notice your mood change significantly after trying out one of these tips - beyond that point, everything meshes well together. Here’s to a happy and healthy new year from all of us at School-A-Thon!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Choosing the Right “Thon” for Your School

Are your students sick and tired of going door-to-door with the same old fundraiser every year?
Where is the fun in that? School-A-Thon wants to give your school a different option to that boring annual fundraiser. We know that fundraising is key to any school, but the old methods usually don’t have enough time and manpower and can come up short on funds.
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Color-A-Thon
School-A-Thon offers many different “thons” for your school. Our most popular thon is a Color-A-Thon Fun Walk/Run. This is something that the entire school will remember for years to come. Our goal with a Color-A-Thon is to build school spirit and have fun with color camaraderie. Students then earn T-shirts and cool rewards. In addition, your school will make money and everyone will know they got the job done in the process.

The kids will get to pick from red, yellow, blue and pink for the colors they want to wear for the fun walk/run. The biggest goal is to end up with one color; green, as in plenty of funds for your school!

Additional Thons
Schools can also choose whether they have a spelling, reading, cleaning or service work thon. Schools can also come up with their own ideas for a thon including a dance-a-thon, game-a-thon, or dribble-a-thon.

There are plenty of ideas to be had. Choosing to dance-a-thon is a good way to get your school together and get some exercise in the process. Who doesn’t love to dance anyway? Choosing a game-a-thon by playing board games is a great way to use some brainpower outside of the classroom. And a dribble-a-thon can get all of those athletes on the floor at once playing some basketball.

School-A-Thon wants to fit your school’s goals and values. Whether you’re interested in keeping your students healthy with exercise, trying to help your school bond or just provide some fun, there are many different options to choose from.

Executing a Successful Thon
Your Color-A-Thon can be a fee-based event or donation-based. For a donation-based event, the school must have a custom pledge site for each student. School-A-Thon will provide donation envelopes and a prize program to get as many kids to participate as possible. A donation-based event is ideal for an elementary or middle school. Minimizing the student’s work will get more results.

An entrance fee-based event is good for a community event, high school or nonprofit. You choose your entry fee (minimum $30), which includes a color pack and T-Shirt. You get a custom registration website, money-management software and much more to make this event pop and be fun and profitable at the same time.


Make sure to visit schoolathon.org to find out which type of event is right for your school.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Introducing Healthy Foods to Your Family

When it comes to picky eaters, we get how difficult it can be to introduce them to new foods. For some kids (and adults) pickiness can come from a texture, a smell, or color. While introducing your kids to new foods or getting them to eat their vegetables can be hard, keep in mind that the goal is to introduce your picky eater to new and healthy options. Here some tips for getting even your pickiest eater to try new foods:

Be patient. Getting your picky eater to eat the foods you want them to eat can be frustrating. Keep offering a wide variety of flavors, textures, and items to your picky eater. Our tastes and preferences will change with time, exposure, and experience.

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Model good habits. Simply put, if you want your child to eat healthier foods, then you will need to eat healthier, too. Make choosing healthier options a habit for all your meals. Depending on how old your kids are, now may be a good time to talk about why we eat healthy food for healthier bodies.

Let them help. When you are choosing recipes, grocery shopping, and making meals, let your kids help. Being a part of the process can help them to understand why certain options are healthier. Having a hand in cooking dinner or packing lunchboxes can help them become more excited about eating it since they had a hand in making it.

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Make it fun. Experiment with dinner for a fun family adventure. Make it an exploration of difference cultures by having a monthly dinner that focuses on a country and food. Have an Italian night with spaghetti and prosciutto, or a Japanese sushi night. Trying new food experiences and learning about new places can be exciting for youngsters.


Make substitutes. Sometimes, something as simple as substituting one vegetable for another can help ease them into trying new foods. Think tomatoes for red bell peppers, iceberg lettuce for Swiss chard or other healthier greens (which pack more in nutrients and essential vitamins than lighter greens), or green beans for sugar snap peas.

eat-547511_640.jpgMake it an adventure.  Sometimes it’s the presentation that makes all the difference in getting your child to try new foods. Try cutting different foods with a cookie cutter or present it in a cute way like with these bento boxes. This new appearance can be enough to make your child brave enough to try something new.

Pack your pantry. Pack your pantry with healthier options to limit the temptation of unhealthy and processed foods. You and your kids will be more successful if there isn’t an extra bag of chips or stash of soda in the corner.

Sneak in healthy foods. Sneaking veggies into your meals can be an excellent way to give your kids essential vitamins and nutrients. For example, adding avocado or spinach into a smoothie can add plenty of healthy essentials without impacting the flavor or appearance. For other recipes that sneak in vegetables, visit kidsactivitesblog.com for 45 recipes that sneak in veggies.



Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Make the Most of Fall: Explore the Great Outdoors with Your Kids

With all the tablet, smartphone, and laptop screens that are trying to take over our children's lives, it can be difficult to get them interested in the outdoors. This is especially true in Autumn when the weather starts to cool off and the daylight starts to lessen. Autumn, however, is one of the best times of the year to get out and explore.


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While it may seem easy to stay indoors and hibernate until spring returns, staying active—both physically and mentally—can be just as easy. Getting kids outside and interested in their surroundings is paramount to a fun-filled childhood. And just a few minutes of planning can go a long way towards creating lifelong memories. As the Fall weather gets a bit chillier, grab a coat and a scarf and take your kids on an outdoor adventure!


girl-669604_640.jpgScavenger Hunts
Scavenger hunts are a simple activity that you and your child can enjoy together. Walk through your local park as you locate specific birds or discover different trees that you may have never known existed in your area. Search for the prettiest rock and discover its mineral makeup together. Gather a leaf of every variety. There are plenty of possibilities.


Geocaching
Geocaching is an activity on the rise. Hiking is a great outdoor activity to do in cooler weather because it gets your blood pumping. Following directions to specific coordinates will teach your children about maps and how to navigate with them, even in your own neighborhood. While it is common to bring a trinket to exchange when you find your cache, discovering the hidden goodies can be just as fun.

Bonfires and Star Gazing
Here is an opportunity for your kids to put their smart devices to good use; there are plenty of apps that will help you map your way through the stars. Sky Map is an open source application for your smartphone that uses your location settings to determine the current position of the constellations that are viewable in your location. Look up the origins of the constellations and tell their stories around the fire. Bonfires might be fun in the summer, but the warming effects of a bonfire coupled with a mug of hot chocolate on a crisp Fall night are downright magical.


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Visit A Pumpkin Patch or Apple Orchard
With Halloween around the corner, walk through a pumpkin patch together in search of the perfect pumpkin to bring home for carving. After the Jack-O-Lanterns adorn the front steps, find your favorite recipe and bake a fresh pie or pumpkin seeds for a healthy snack.


Apple Orchards, Likewise, are just as fun. You’ll have even more delicious ingredients to make Fall snacks, and you can spend an afternoon in a beautiful orchard finding them and picking them with your kids. Take the opportunity to learn about the different species of apples that grow in your area and how their flavors differ.


Remember, while cozy blankets are good for sitting on the couch and watching movies, they are just as useful when your venture into the great outdoors. Get out and about and explore the great outdoors this Fall.