Your A to Z Guide: The Best Kids’ Stocking Stuffer Ideas

Your A-Z Guide: The Best Kids' Stocking Stuffer Ideas on green banner with stocking background

It seems like every year I’m scrambling to figure out what to put in my kids’ Christmas stockings. If you’re like me, the last thing you want in your house is more plastic trinkets but I end up defaulting to that kind of filler when I can’t think of anything better. 

Well, no more!!  

This time I’m making a list, checking it twice and not wasting this opportunity to give my kids some useful, engaging and maybe even educational stocking stuffers!  

Trendy products come and go but these “ABC’s” – Awesome Brainstorming Categories – will never go out of style!  Each A to Z category will remind you of a whole group of stocking stuffer ideas to help you come up with the perfect picks for your kids!

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4 Smart Money-Saving Strategies for One-Income Families (Strategy #4)

4 smart money-saving strategies for one-income families strategy #4 with piggy bank

So far in this series we’ve looked at ways to save money by being…

The final 4 C’s Strategy overlaps with #3 but I’ve kept them separate since each one has it’s own main focus. 

Being counter-cultural in our approach to money helps us zero in on our own goals and work towards them without being influenced by what culture says we’re “supposed” to do. Once you’re comfortable going against the cultural grain, it becomes easier to come up with all kinds of creative money-saving ideas that are unique to your own situation.

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4 Smart Money-Saving Strategies for One-Income Families (Strategy #3)

4 smart money-saving strategies for one-income families strategy #3 with piggy bank

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If you haven’t yet, check out Strategy #1 and Strategy #2 in this series.

So you read last week’s post and stuck around for more? Three cheers for you!! Honestly, the first two strategies are super-important but not all that exciting. They’re kind of like brushing your teeth. Necessary and effective? Yes. Exciting? Not so much.

Thankfully, once you make some progress with Strategies #1 and #2 – learning more about finances and minimizing your financial temptations – you can save even more by using the final two strategies to reach your family’s goals.

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4 Smart Money-Saving Strategies for One-Income Families (Strategy #2)

4 smart money-saving strategies for one-income families strategy #2 with piggy bank

If you haven’t yet, check out the first post in this series here.

I’ve got good news and bad news. First, the good news…

The fact that you’re reading this means you’re already succeeding at Strategy #1 – you deserve a reward! Go get yourself a cookie! (I’ll wait here)

OK, now that you’ve got your cookie and you’re in a good mood… here’s the bad news. I’ll just come right out and say it….

This next money-saving strategy is the most fuddy-duddy, Debbie Downer, wet blanket of the 4 C’s Strategies. To make matters worse, I’m posting it on BLACK FRIDAY! I’m doing this partly because this is the day when this message is most needed and partly because I’m amused by the irony.

So, brace yourself. What I’m about to say sounds cynical and probably not very cool. But I do hope you’ll keep reading because Strategy #2 has helped us save so much money over the years and I think it can help you, too!

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4 Smart Money-Saving Strategies for Single-Income Families (Strategy #1)

4 smart money-saving strategies for one-income families strategy #1 with piggy bank

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Many homeschooling families (and non-homeschooling families, too) are living on one income in a two-income economy. 

Our own household income was cut by 50% when I quit my full-time architecture career to stay home with our first baby. We had some savings and made it work for the short-term but once we decided to homeschool we realized the “dip-into-savings-and-just-don’t-buy-stuff” approach wasn’t going to work for the long haul. 

The loss of one full-time salary or the switch to part-time income with fewer benefits is a huge adjustment. In a culture obsessed with money and material possessions you’ll need to muster all your courage and intentionality to stick to a financial plan that works.

But I’m here to tell you it CAN be done! 

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Top Handwriting Resources for Homeschoolers on a Budget

Top Handwriting Resources for Homeschoolers on a Budget

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When my oldest son had some pre-writing work under his belt and was ready to start learning how to write letters and words, I researched the depths of the internet in the hopes of finding the one right, best method for teaching handwriting. 

Long story short, there’s no such thing.

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Achieving Handwriting Success with a Skill-Based Approach

Achieving Handwriting Success with a Skill-Based Approach on dark background with pencils on table

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One of the beauties of homeschooling is that kids can work at their own pace based on skill mastery rather than age or grade level. This is helpful for all subjects but especially ones with physical coordination aspects like handwriting. Kids are all over the map when it comes to physical development.

Is your kindergartener’s printing better than your spouse’s? No need to hold them back with a “kindergarten” book! Does your older student need extra printing practice before tackling cursive? No worries! You can use whatever resources meet him where he’s at based on ability, not necessarily age. 

At the end of the day, the goal is to have kids who can write neatly (or at least legibly) to communicate in written form. 

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Our Curriculum Choices – Year 5

sensible homeschool our curriculum choices year five on chalkboard background

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If you haven’t done so yet, read the first post in this series here and check out Our Curriculum Choices – Year 1, Year 2, Year 3 and Year 4.

Year 5 Snapshot

If you’ve been following this series of posts, we’ve now caught up to real time. I wrote about the first four years retroactively because I started this blog just before we began our fifth year of homeschooling. 

Since I can’t summarize a year that hasn’t happened yet, this snapshot will be a look at how our year has started so far. Later this school year I hope to post about lessons learned during Year 5… but I have to learn them first, so stay tuned. 

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5 Reading Incentive Programs and How They Can Work for Your Family

5 Reading Incentive Programs and How They Can Work for Your Family on cartoon background with boy reading book

There’s an ongoing debate as to whether or not reading incentive programs are a good thing. (Just so you don’t get your hopes up, this blog post isn’t going to settle the matter). 

Some parents and educators say reading incentives have absolutely helped motivate their reluctant readers. The kids just needed a little outside motivation to get them started and now their love of reading has taken off.

Others point to the dangers of external motivation and warn that incentive programs backfire. They say the programs are essentially bribes and when the incentives stop, so does the reading.

In my experience, there’s truth on both sides. 

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The Key to Effective Quality Time with Your Kids

The Key to Effective Quality Time with Your Kids with metal key on blue-green background

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It’s tempting to think that homeschooling, by default, ensures you’re spending enough time with your kids. However, as you’ve probably heard, quantity doesn’t make up for a lack of quality.

And here’s the kicker…

Even a large quantity of quality time may still feel inadequate to your child if the time isn’t “quality” from THEIR perspective. 

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