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The Search For Quality Colored Pencils For Kids

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My daughter has not liked using colored pencils to color. The ones we purchased and were given just did not work well. Some of them would not color at all. I like the idea of using color pencils because they are more precises than crayons and less messy than markers. Markers usually bleed through, and they are most likely not recyclable. It bothers me that we are using something that is a toss away item. Crayola needs to come up with a marker recycling program of some sort so they are less wasteful. In the mean time, we needed a better option.

I didn’t want to pay $20 or up for fancy colored pencil since my daughter is almost 7 and isn’t at that level yet. Plus I would hate to see them get over-sharpened and be wasted. An artist friend suggested a few brands, but told me to first try to brands at either Michaels craft store or Hobby Lobby craft store. I enjoy going to both, but we just happened to be in the vicinity of Michaels over the weekend. I am a deal shopper, so I went on their website to print out the 40% off one regular priced item coupon. I love using coupons, especially when they will save me a lot! Hobby Lobby has a 40% off coupon they offer for one regular priced item as well.

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I found a set of 32 colored pencils by Artist’s Loft. They looked better than the cheaper store brand and the kids pencils we had tried before. The price was $4.99 and my 40% off coupon took them down to $2.99. While there we found a pretty rose pen for me for $1 and two pretty hair flowers that turned out to only be .01 cent EACH as we checked out! I LOVE deals like that. 🙂

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I like that the Artist’s Loft colored pencils come in a cardboard tube. It’s eco-friendly, with the exception of the clear plastic on the top of the tube lid. I wanted her to have more than 12 or 24 so it was nice to find this 32 piece set. They also had sets with 27 colored pencils and a sketch pad for $9.99, but I knew I could find sketch pads a lot cheaper so I skipped that one.

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The colored pencils look natural, something I found really appealing. There isn’t any brightly colored plastic wrapped around the pencils, which is very nice. The pencils do not have color names listed on them so kids will have to look at the tips to see which color it is. My daughter is almost 7 so this wasn’t a big deal.

Our local dollar store, Dollar Tree, sells sketch pads for $1. I buy ours there because my kiddo is still a young enough kiddo that we don’t need the more expensive kind. This way I can also buy several of them to keep on hand for when one gets full. This would be another good item to get from one of the craft stores with your 40% off coupon! Take it in and get almost half off of a sketchbook. Keep in mind that they usually only let you use the coupon once a day, so you may have to make a couple trips if you want to use the coupon on several items. This might be worth it if you live close enough to one of the stores.

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As you can see, these color pencils actually color! That is a nice change compared to trying use the cheap kind which would not color at all. These pencils are very much kid approved! My daughter kept asking if I was done yet while I was taking pictures for this post – she wanted to try them out that badly, and this is the child who didn’t want to get anymore colored pencils. I like this brand and I like the price. I do with they had bigger sets though, maybe with 50 colored pencils like some of the other sets. However, 36 is a good amount and the quality seems to be pretty good.

If you’ve used a great brand of colored pencils for your kids that didn’t break the bank, leave a comment with the info! 🙂

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Weekly Links

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Save the Tooth Fairy! Toy Industry Execs Highjack a Childhood Icon
25 Ways to Bless Your Child(ren) – I printed this list out in a nice looking Word document to hang up in our home.
Are Birth Defects Really Part of God’s Plan?
Gratituesday: Too Cold at Church
The Tragedy of Cory Monteith: A Lesson for Kids
Strawberry-Rhubarb Honey Jam Recipe (sugar-free)
Faith, Family, and Duck Dynasty
Women of the Bible: Lessons from Esther
Summer Festivals Around the World
A support system… in social media
Summer Fun: Real Live, Screen-Free Games
Seeing in the Dark, Part 1

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Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Bead Set Sale

 

Right now Amazon is having a deal on the Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Stringing Beads with over 200 beads. Currently this is on Amazon for $13.41 but the price has been fluctuating by a few cents since yesterday. The nice thing about this set, other than the fact that it is on sale, is that the beads are wooden. I personally like wooden beads more than the plastic kind.

Melissa & Doug are known for making quality products. When you can find them on sale it is very nice because their products are a bit more pricey than their cheaper counter parts. You pay for what you get. This would make a nice birthday present or gift for a girl who enjoys crafts or making her own jewelry.

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Rehydrating Kids Washable Markers

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My daughter goes through markers like nobody’s business. Not only does she use them up, but she often dries them out by not putting the lids on all the way. I don’t know what it is about washable markers,  but they always seem to end up without lids. I am a big fan of trying to be eco-friendly and not waste, which is why we rehydrate our markers to try and give them a longer life. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve noticed that the cheaper brands dry out quicker and sometimes get clumpy and gross around the tips. Also, the really thin cheap markers just do not last at all. These ones are often included with little coloring books and sets, but they just don’t last.

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Re-hydrating markers is easy. You need a cup of water and an eye dropper. And markers of course. Some markers have plastic caps on the back that you can pry off with a little work. You can add water that way. Or you can just dip the tip of the marker in water and put the lid back on. Make sure you set the markers you’ve re-hydrated in a glass cup so if they leak colored water, they don’t get it all over anything you value. If you fill the markers in the back, set them in the jar tip down. If you put the tip in the water, put them in the jar tip up. I shake our markers up first before putting them in the jar, in hopes that the water will move around some and re-hydrate a lot more of the marker.

If you do have to toss your markers, sent them to the recycling bin. I have looked online and found very little info on whether or not they can be recycled, but I’d rather play safe and put them in recycling. If you ‘d like to re-purpose them, you can use the lids for beads, to make photo frames, or for other artwork. If you wanted to get really creative, you could empty out the entire marker tube, wash it well, and use them for durable straight straws. It’s unfortunate the marker companies don’t have a better program to recycle markers. I remember when Crayola sold the all black markers made from recycled plastic. I wish they had continued to do so.  My daughter prefers markers over crayons, mainly because she is older, and we have yet to find a really great brand of color pencils that she likes.

If you have any recommendations for a great brand of color pencils, please let me know! The Crayola and similar brand pencils break too easily and don’t color well enough for her. Thanks! 🙂

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Great Deal on Blackberry Playbook 7 Inch Tablet!

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If you are looking for a 7 inch tablet at a HUGE discount, this deal might be for you! This is something that would be good for homeschooling families if you are looking for a tablet for school or just to have for yourself or your kids. Right now on Amazon you can get a 7 inch Blackberry Playbook for only $161.89 for 16GB, $169.75 for 32G and $178.99 for the 64GB. The price for these normally starts at $599! If this is a deal you want, you will need to get it fast before they are gone. This really is a HUGE discount!

If you have Amazon Prime you can get FREE two day shipping as well. If you don’t have Amazon Prime you can sign up for a free 3o day membership to take advantage of the free shipping.

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Organizations To Donate Hair To

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My daughter and I both have pretty long hair, but hers is definitely longer than mine, as well as being thicker. Lately she’s been telling me it’s too long and in her way. We both like long hair so I wasn’t really sure what to do about it, since she doesn’t want short hair either. That got me thinking about growing her hair out a bit longer before having it cut, and then donating the hair to an organization that provides wigs for people without hair for medical reasons.

Upon beginning my research I discovered that the well known Locks of Love organization which seems to always be amidst scandal due to their practices. Here is one link referring to the company being unable to account for millions of dollars worth of hair: Locks of Love Can’t Account For $6.6 Million Worth of Donated Hair. And here is another article regarding concerns with the company: Bay Area Group Questions Donations To Locks Of Love. What bothered me, on top of the fact that they supposedly “don’t keep track of donation,” is that they sell the wigs which I feel isn’t right for people with serious medical conditions that leave them bald. It should be free.

I have looked into some alternatives and there are a few which seem to be much better organizations. Wigs For Kids is one of the first organization names that pops up when you search for alternative to LoL. This group seems a lot more on the up and up and a lot more organized. They do require 12 inches of hair though which could mean you’ll have to wait longer to grow it out. They send out a postcard and an email after your hair is received. The bonus for girls donating to this program is that they are eligible for a Girl Scout patch to recognize that they donated. Here is the PDF info on that program: Girl Scout Patch Program.

Another program is Pantene Beautiful Lengths which makes wigs for women and they are partnered with the American Cancer Society. They give away wigs as well, which is refreshing to see. They only require hair be 10 inches in length so if you have less hair this would be the one to go with. I am actually considering donating my hair when it’s long enough. I will have to make sure that Henna hair dye will not be a problem since it is all natural and chemical free. This program will send you a “Thank You” letter but their site says that it could take several months to receive due to how busy they are.

Children With Hair Loss is another group that gives away wigs to any children with medical hair loss up to the age of 21. I haven’t heard as much about them but I love that they give wigs away rather than selling them. CWHL accepts hair at least 8 inches which is nice, though they do prefer longer hair. They also accept chemically treated hair and gray hair, which is a change from the above two groups listed.

The last program I found is Wigs 4 Kids, not to be confused with the Wigs for Kids program above. This group only provides wigs for those in the Michigan area. If this isn’t a problem for you, please consider them as well. They require that hair be at least 10 inches long. They do not accept chemically treated hair or fully gray hair. I didn’t see anything on their site saying if they sent you a certificate or letter after you’ve donated your hair, but you can get a t-shirt if you donate money with the hair. Or you can donate just $10 to buy a hat for one of the children in need.

We haven’t decided which group we will go with yet, most likely it will be Wigs For Kids or Children With Hair Loss since my daughter would enjoy donating her hair to kids in need. She’s got 10 inches from her shoulders down but we’re going to wait a couple more months to see how much longer we can get her hair. She’s really excited to do this and help little girls “feel pretty again with hair.” It always makes me so proud when she is so willing to help others, whether it be humans or animals. I love her heart! 🙂

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Souvenir Coin Album for Kids

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This is one of the best purchases I have made. It was fully worth the $6.99 I paid for it at the zoo on Wednesday. My daughter loves to get the souvenir coins at the places and events we go to. You pay .51 cents per coin but it’s a pretty cheap souvenir compared to the cost of most items in a gift shop. And kids love them! Previously my daughter has kept hers in her little treasure chest. The only problem with this is that they sometimes get lost. The idea of a coin album for them came to me on Wednesday when we went to the zoo and I knew we’d be getting more fun coins. I looked online and the ones I could find were $14 and up. Thankfully our zoo is prepared! 🙂

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This album has lots of spaces inside which means plenty of room for lots of fun coins. We’ve already filled almost an entire side with coins she already has. I had ordered a few for her online for Christmas as well, I got her Scooby, Shaggy and one with the mystery machine. Because they were special gifts I wanted to make sure they didn’t get lost. This album does the job keeping them safe. It’s pretty cute too.

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On the back fold there are spaces for the coins that have vertical images. I do wish the book was a bit bigger and had more spaces for the vertical coins, but we don’t end up with as many of those so I believe we will be fine. So far this album has worked out great for us! If your child enjoys getting these awesome coins, you might want to look into one of these handy albums if you don’t already have one. 🙂

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The Bill Jar

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We all have bills. This is a fact we cannot avoid. The amount of bills we all have to pay differs from person to person, but all of us have at least one bill to pay… unless you are a child. Then your parents are responsible for your bills – fun for them. 😉 I like to sell things we don’t need or don’t use to make extra money each month. It’s been really handy! In the process of doing so I get a lot of smaller bills like 10’s and 5’s. One can keep adding them to their bank account for bills, but I’ve found that it’s easier to spend with your card and it’s can be easier to forget you have to pay bills with that money. I know some folks have accounts just for bills, but I don’t really want to juggle a bunch of accounts. So for me, I use the bill jar.

It’s actually a vase rather than a jar, but the vase was prettier and it sounds weird if you say bill vase. If you use a jar you can close it if you choose to which keeps your money more secure. Each time I sell something I add the extra money to the jar and then when I need to pay a bill I take what I need from the bill jar. It’s a handy way to keep track of those small bills and to keep the money from being spent. If it’s at home in a jar you can’t spend it! I designate that money off limits except for bills. I keep a little calender where I write down all my bills each month on the day they are due so each week I can figure out which bill is up and what I need to pay it. It’s really been a big help!

It’s simple to make – you need an empty jar or vase, paper for a label, a marker to write on the label, and clear tape to put it on the jar. You can get fancier with it and print out a nice label or decorate it, but for me simple works. 🙂 If you’ve tried a bill jar let me know how it worked for you!

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Weekly Links

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10 Most Violent Video Games (and 10+ Alternatives)
Safe Email Options for Our Girls
ACTS of Kindness and a FREE Imagination Station eBook {and a Giveaway!}
5 Tips for Camping with Children
Create a Cozy Book Nook
Multi-Tasking Mayhem
Healthy Food to Pack for a Trip
Homemade Orange Soda Recipe
When It Comes Down to Working Out Your Differences
Stuck Inside? 25 Ways to Keep Your Kids Busy — Without Television!
Getting comfortable with high school freedom
Moms are more than chauffeurs

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Pre-Order The Complete Liberty’s Kids Series for $9.99

Right now Amazon is having a deal on the Liberty’s Kids – The Complete Series – only $9.99! This includes 40 episodes from the show.

The description of this series is: Travel back in time with Benjamin Franklin’s teenage reporters as they confront the real and physical dangers of the American Revolution. Trapped in opposite sides of the war – James an American colonist and Sarah a young English reporter are forced to choose between friendship and allegiance to their countries. All while they try to look after mischievous Henri, a French boy whose comical escapades constantly lead to trouble. Journey through history and discover the high points of the American Revolution through this fun and animated educational adventure!

Honestly I loved this series and I watched it with my daughter. Is it 100% accurate? No. But it’s built in a way that attracts the attention of kids by putting them in the actual events and getting to see them as though it were first hand. I think this is a wonderful series for kids on American History. 🙂

Here is one review of the series: History comes alive in this excellent Emmy and Humanitas Award-nominated 40-episode, animated series about the experiences of two young teens during the American Revolution. Far more than a simple chronicle of the battles and major events of the American Revolution, Liberty’s Kids tells the story of the cultural, scientific, political, and social forces that helped shape America’s fight for independence from the perspective of two young teens from very different backgrounds. Sarah is a young English woman living in America who maintains a strong sense of loyalty to England and James is a printer’s apprentice living the American dream, but feeling the constraints of British oppression. Working together on Benjamin Franklin’s newspaper the “Pennsylvania Gazette,” Sarah and James often find their interpretations of current events differ markedly and the pair constantly grapples with tough issues like slavery, self-governance, fair representation, and the role of women in battle and politics. The juxtaposition of the two teens’ opposing viewpoints sparks spirited arguments in the series and inspires a fuller understanding of the complexity of the events and issues of the American Revolution for both Franklin’s newspaper audiences and modern viewers. Another strength of the series is that legendary historical figures like Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, and Abigail Adams come across as real, believable people engaged in a genuine struggle to determine right from wrong and to act in the best interest of their families, community, and country. … Liberty’s Kids is highly recommended as great entertainment and important educational programming for ages 7 and older. –Tami Horiuchi

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