7 Things My Son Has Learned from Playing Minecraft Every Day

If Steve and Alex are household names, if your child hears a hiss and thinks "creeper," or if you see everything in block form... you might have a Minecraft player in your house! Don't Panic-- Minecraft teaches some really amazing skills to kids (and adults) of all ages! Here are some things my child has learned from playing Minecraft-- it's incredibly educational, but it also promotes good social skills, too! Here's how.

Minecraft. It’s one of those ubiquitous games that it seems most kids are playing at one point or another. I’m not too worried about the Minecraft fascination, though. The thing is, there’s a lot of educational value in Minecraft. Many schools are even adding it to their curriculum! At first, I really didn’t get the appeal… so it’s a game. With blocks. And… everything is super boxy. And there’s no real end goal* (I’m from the Mario generation… you play the game, you save the princess, game over) which just blew my mind. When we got it, I didn’t think much of the game, obviously. But there are 7 important things my son has learned from playing Minecraft every day.

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Chocolate Cranberry Braid (and the Science of Cranberry Sauce!)

Cranberry braids are really easy to make, and so delicious when you make homemade cranberry sauce, too! Plus, learn the science behind cranberry sauce and how to make it at home! It's part science experiment for kids and part delicious thanksgiving recipe!

I love cranberries. Something about that fall flavor just tastes awesome. That said, they can be pretty stinkin’ tart when you just taste one. The kiddo found out the hard way because when we cook together, he insists on tasting every single ingredient. It got me thinking about the science behind cranberries and a way we could learn by experimenting while we cook!

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5 Ways to Play in Fall and Winter

Meteorologists are predicting the winter of 2016 to be a warm one! Take advantage of it with plenty of ways to play this fall and winter. #CLIFkids [ad]

Just a few days ago, meteorologists in Kansas City started releasing their weather reports for winter 2016. Most of them agreed– winter would be mild, and at times unseasonably warm, with little snow. While that may be a bummer for snow-lovers, it’s a great thing for everyone who loves to play outside! This fall and winter is going to be a great one for PLAY, and today, I’m sharing my 5 favorite ways to play in fall and winter (with a few tips on where to play in Kansas City, too)!

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How to Throw a Smarty Pants Party!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #Healthy4School #CollectiveBias

Do you have a Smarty Pants in your family? Celebrate school success and the back to school season with this Smarty Pants Party! It's complete with plenty of brain food, and goodie bags that are fun AND practical for staying stocked up on essentials for the school year. #Healthy4School [ad]

Do you have a smarty pants in your house? Maybe more than one? I love to celebrate school success during the back to school season with a fun party! It’s a great way to say “You’re doing a great job, and keep up the good work!” When you celebrate back to school and the success of your learner, you’re showing them that you’re proud of them! So, gather some goods and invite your learner’s closest friends over for a celebration.

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Where I Find TOTALLY FREE Educational Apps for Our Homeschool

Educational apps are a great addition to the homeschool classroom, but they can be expensive. Here's how we get FREE apps for our homeschool! #AmznUnderground [ad]

One thing I love about homeschooling is the flexibility… homeschooling can happen anywhere at any time. So, if the kiddo is really big on a certain topic, we can center experiments, books, math problems, and more around that specific topic… the flexibility works really well for us. Another thing that I love is how additional tools, like educational apps, can really supplement the learning process!

Educational apps are a great addition to the homeschool classroom, but they can be expensive. Here's how we get FREE apps for our homeschool! #AmznUnderground [ad]

It’s a fact of life that technology is now a major part of education– even public schools are embracing the use of apps as an educational support, and it’s something we’ve embraced in our homeschool as well.

Educational apps are a great addition to the homeschool classroom, but they can be expensive. Here's how we get FREE apps for our homeschool! #AmznUnderground [ad]

But apps get expensive. I think the worst part is when I pay money for an app, only to find out it’s only partially accessible because much of the app is locked away behind in-app purchases, meaning I have to pay more and more, or ultimately find a cheaper app to fill it’s place. I dream of a world where the entire app costs one price, without a ton of in-app purchases… and that world is actually starting to exist with Amazon Underground.

Educational apps are a great addition to the homeschool classroom, but they can be expensive. Here's how we get FREE apps for our homeschool! #AmznUnderground [ad]

If you haven’t heard of it, and you homeschool, Amazon Underground is a MUST-HAVE. It works with Android smartphones, but also Amazon Fire tablets.

Educational apps are a great addition to the homeschool classroom, but they can be expensive. Here's how we get FREE apps for our homeschool! #AmznUnderground [ad]

With over 300 educational apps, you just download and go… and in-app purchases on the apps that have the “actually free” sash on Amazon Underground? THEY ARE FREE.

We’ve got a lot of favorites– most of the Dr. Panda series, for example, is available on Amazon Underground, meaning we can play to our hearts’ content.

Educational apps are a great addition to the homeschool classroom, but they can be expensive. Here's how we get FREE apps for our homeschool! #AmznUnderground [ad]

For us, Amazon Underground means the freedom for Zack to explore apps that are educational and still interesting… lately, he’s been fascinated with maps, so we can use Actually Free Amazon Underground Apps like GeoFlight USA, a fun geography quiz. When his interests were all about dinosaurs last week, he could play Caillou the Dinosaur Hunter. Because his interests change so fast, I’m not trying to buy educational apps to keep up. Now, I can be assured that it’s just free.

But you know, life isn’t always spent on school, so luckily there are a ton of great apps that Zack and I both love for leisure, too. One of my personal favorites is Fish Out of Water… I’m a little bit obsessed with those fish! The game there has in-app purchases where you can purchase crystals to do different things… and check out what happens if you push the button to buy more– it says it’s FREE (even for that $15 pack!), and that Amazon Underground is buying the in-app purchase for me. A few seconds later, and the crystals magically appear (and my bank account stays completely intact!)

Educational apps are a great addition to the homeschool classroom, but they can be expensive. Here's how we get FREE apps for our homeschool! #AmznUnderground [ad]

Educational apps are a great addition to the homeschool classroom, but they can be expensive. Here's how we get FREE apps for our homeschool! #AmznUnderground [ad]

Outside of homeschooling, we’re also loving the new Frozen Free Fall Icy Shot game! It’s a twist on the popular Frozen Free Fall app, and with over 100 enchanting levels– and I can’t get enough of it. It’s got all of my favorites– Anna, Elsa, Olaf, and even some Snowgies (aren’t they so mischevious?!), and it’s got that classically fun “take aim and shoot” gameplay that I loved with the first Frozen Free Fall. Snag that app totally free right here!

What is your favorite educational app? Let me know in the comments below, then learn more about Amazon Underground and get some totally free apps on your Android Smartphone here!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

DIY No-Sew Cow Masks

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HorizonLunch #CollectiveBias

Having a play date? These fun cow masks made out of felt are perfect for play dates, imaginary play, or just a fun afternoon craft with your little one... plus, they're no-sew and super easy to make! #HorizonLunch [ad]

When it comes to imaginary play, you can never get enough of it. My son’s favorite forms of this kind of play are the times when he gets to be an animal…. So, I love to give him opportunities to make costumes for these fun personalities he’s developed when he acts out his animal characters’ ideas. This cow mask is super simple, no-sew, and a perfect craft to make at play dates and more.They also cost less than 50 cents to make, making them the perfect craft to do together!

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Backyard Obstacle Course– Using ONLY Chalk!

Getting kids to play outside is a must-- only 31% of kids play outside today, compared to the 70% of moms who played outside during their childhood. Get them moving with this outdoor obstacle course-- all you need is a piece of chalk! #CLIFKid [ad]

Hey, mom… remember playing outside as a kid? Hours spent enjoying the grass or the swingset or making crowns out of flowers or playing at the park… it’s crazy how many memories I have of outdoor play. That’s because as kids, most of us played outside– 70% of us did, actually. Compare that to today, when only 31% of kids are spending any kind of significant time outside at all. Busy schedules, cuts in recess time, and just all-around love for all things electronic could be to blame, but it could be that we just aren’t focused on outdoor play like we used to be. Today, I’ve got the absolute easiest way to get kids moving outside with an obstacle course– all you need is a piece of chalk!

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DIY Hidden Cord Charging Station

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BTSwithHP #CollectiveBias

Back to school is such an exciting time... but it can mean an extra need to stay organized and powered up. Here's a simple way to make a DIY charging station for your desk that clears up those crazy cords, too! Plus, I share a few ways we use computers in our homeschool lessons! #BTSwithHP [ad]

I’m seriously having the hardest time handling the fact that summer is pretty much over… we’re in the last few days of the pool being open for the summer, back to school sales are in full swing, and the curriculum has arrived, which means it’s pretty much time to get back in the swing of homeschooling… and that means a major need for organization and staying powered up. Today, I’m showing you an impossibly easy DIY charging station for YOUR desk!

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End Of Summer Road Trips from Kansas City

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #RoadTripOil #CollectiveBias

Summer may be almost over, but there's still plenty of time to sneak in a little last-minute road trip. If you're from the Kansas City area, there are a ton of nearby options for places to travel, so you can sneak in that family bonding time before back to school hits. #RoadTripOil [ad]

I cannot even handle the fact that we’re over halfway through summer. I mean, I looked at the calendar, and we have like… 3 weeks left of the pool being open for the year. As much as I’m looking forward to my fall favorites returning in just a few short weeks, I also know that I want to squeeze out every last drop of summer I can. It’s about this time of year every year that I itch to take a little road trip, a short end-of-summer vacation, a last hurrah before the fall returns and we remember that school is just around the corner… and when you’re from the Kansas City area, you’re incredibly blessed with tons of nearby places that are really awesome to visit, without having to go too horribly far for a last-minute road trip. That means it’s not too late to visit them now… just hop in the car and enjoy!

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Backyard Splatter Painting

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #allEssentials #CollectiveBias

Kids bored this summer? Let them be kids with this awesome messy play activity! This splatter painting uses water balloons, medicine droppers, squirt guns, and more to create a unique piece of abstract art your kids will love creating. Don't worry-- kids and clothes are both washable! #allEssentials

“I’m bored.” Come on, it’s almost summer… you know you’re going to hear it at least once or twice or a million times. That’s why now is a great time to start arming yourself with ideas to keep the kids busy this summer! One of my favorite ways to keep kids active, busy, and having SO much fun they forget to be bored is through some good old fashioned messy play! That’s why this backyard splatter painting is tons of fun to create– and it’s super easy, too.

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