5 Spelling Word Games to Help with Spelling for Kids

English is a tricky language with a lot of words and a whole heck of a lot of crazy rules (and exceptions to rules) about how things should be spelled. When I watch a kid learning the English language I honestly don't know how any of us do it. It's truly amazing that any of us learn how to read and spell.

Parents can support their kids learning to spell and write in school by spending time with them at home, reading and playing word games. Word games can help early writers just learning how to spell, as well as more advanced writers to increase their vocabularies. I've picked out a few word games that help kids with spelling words and tried them out with my seven year old. Not only have I been impressed with his growing ability and comfort (sometimes that's the most important thing) with spelling words, but we've had a lot of fun too.  And great warm up for back to school.

School Lunch and Snack Tips and Ideas for Back to School

It's back to school time and so we are thinking about all those little details of preparing for the school year. Making healthy school lunches and snacks is a big one. We asked the moms of Mommy Poppins what their best tips for easy healthy snack options and school lunch recipes were and they came up with a bunch of really original school lunch box ideas, as well as some old standbys.

Read on to find out what we're putting in our kids' lunch boxes for school lunch and snacks:

Drive-In Movie Theaters in Lower Hudson Valley

Despite big chains’ efforts to spruce up their movie theaters (recliners and dine-in service, anyone?), there is still nothing quite like a drive-in movie experience—a summer tradition for our family. Perhaps it’s nostalgia—or the fact that my 4-year-old can chatter throughout the movie without bothering anyone (except his older brother). Before the show, kids play Frisbee and tag in front of the monstrous theater screen and since the movies start on the later side (it must be dark, after all), half of them are clad in pajamas.

Lower Hudson Valley is home to several drive-in theaters—a real treat, as these theaters are rapidly diminishing across the U.S. We've got details on theaters in our area, as well as useful tips for enjoying the drive-in with kids.

20 Classic Educational OT Toys To Help Children Prepare for School

Last week there was an article in the NY Times, “Watch How You Hold That Crayon,” about OT and handwriting. In the article Anthony DiCarlo, a Principal stated, “In the last five years, I’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of kids who don’t have the strength in their hands to wield scissors or do arts and crafts projects, which in turn prepares them for writing."

He goes on to say that while many kids head back to school with accomplishments like music, yoga and sports classes, they may not have logged enough time in open-ended play. “I’m all for academic rigor,” he said, “but these days I tell parents that letting their child mold clay, play in the sand or build with Play-Doh builds important school-readiness skills, too.”

What's for Dinner? Meal-Planning Sites and Apps for Families

Eons ago (OK, just five years) we did a post on family meal planning. In fact, it was one of the very first things we blogged about here at Mommy Poppins. But a lot's changed since then, and the rise of smartphones, social networks and a gazillion new websites gives us many new options to chew on when it comes to making meals.

You can't overestimate the importance of sitting down to family meals. Studies show that eating as a family benefits everyone, especially children, who are then less likely to become obese, fall into substance abuse or have low self-esteem. Of course preparing dinner (and breakfast and brunch and lunch) isn't always easy to pull off. Happily, there are a slew of online meal-planning sites, mobile apps and meal swapping tools to help get healthy, budget-friendly meals on your table. Here are some of our current favorites.

99 Things to Do in Charlotte, NC with Kids Before They Grow Up

Charlotte, North Carolina is the second largest city in the southeast and one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. With museums, parks, sports teams, great dining and shopping, it's no wonder. There's lots to do in Charlotte for families. Whether you are a native Charlottean, one of the thousands of transplants, or just visiting, we hope you will love exploring the history, diversity, culture and beauty of the Queen City.  

If you somehow get bored in Charlotte, you can always head to nearby Asheville, NC. We've got the scoop on things to do with kids in Asheville too. 

Make Your Own Granola Bars

Granola bars are a snack that kids love and parents can feel good about giving their kids - or so the ads say. But many granola bars aren't much better than candy bars and are loaded with sugar, fat, trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. I found a really easy recipe for granola bars on AllRecipes and I've been making our own ever since. We whip up a batch every weekend for the upcoming week - perfect for back to school time. You could also make more and freeze them. The kids love them and love making them. It's fun for them to eat healthy snacks they've made themselves.

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