Easy, DIY winter Olympics games for schools with free, cheap and recycled materials

Parents, homeschoolers and teachers are you sick of dealing kids stuck inside at recess this winter. Here’s a winter boredom buster: throw a Winter Olympics party in the playground or backyard. Play winter sports but extend the fun and learning with creative game variations. Here are safe, easy homemade winter games, snow and ice activities requiring no fancy equipment.

Boot skating: Sweep off an icy patch of pavement, or hose it down to make a rink. Demonstrate Olympic speed or figure “skating” by sliding in boots. Bundle kids so if they fall they won’t get hurt.

Broom hockey: combine boot skating and play snow hockey with old brooms or shovels. Use any old playground (basketball, 4-square, volley) balls. Allow no fights like pro hockey! This is the ultimate DIY Winter Olympics event.

Shovel Races: Make work into winter play and exercise. See who can shovel snow the fastest or make the neatest, clearest walks. Use snow shovels like shuffle board. Push playground ball toward a goal. Kids will love these fun backyard winter sports that simulate Winter Olympics. Parents and teachers will love that equipment for snow games is recycled and free.

Save money on back to school shopping: School supplies cost-cutters for parents

Back to School--how retailers love those three words. Back to school is as big a holiday for stores as Black Friday! But for kids and parents, back to school shopping is stressful, reported Business Wire. Here are money-saving mama's BTS cost-cutters for parents. Get budget back to school bargains that bust stress and make BTS shopping fun.

Do. Not. Be. Upsold. Stores love to guilt parents with long lists of school supplies your kids supposedly can't survive school without. Now, I'll admit, I love BTS shopping. What's not to love about $.25 crayons and scissors? But this money-saving mama is also a teacher. She knows kids don't need half the stuff stores pad the list with. Use this tightwad teacher's BTS shopping guide to skip the BS and save instead of spend money.

Wait for the teacher's school supplies list. Before school starts, you should get a welcome packet or email either from school, teacher or both. Shop from that. Don't buy till you see the list. You can stock up on obviously cheap supplies you know you'll need, but wait on specifics.

Find out what you really need. Our youngest daughter went to a charter school a few years ago. The school wanted us to buy a plethora of over-priced school supplies: color printer paper ($10 for 50 sheets compared to $4 for 500 white sheets), colored sticky notes, costly art supplies, Expo markers, North Face back pack, hand sanitizer, tissues. Teachers didn't even have room to store it all.

Find out what the school provides. After paying $16 for four "special" notebooks kids were "required" to have, the teacher told me he had plenty and I shouldn't have bought them. I said he should he shouldn't have included them in the list.

You choose what to supply the school. That colored paper the school wanted was just to pretty-up notes home (which ended up in the recycling anyway). We requested email updates but school preferred to waste trees (and our money). I refused to buy colored paper. Finally, they went to email.

Don't provide shared stuff. Call me cheap but I don't want to pay so other kids can waste. Subbing in the schools, I got a rude awakening about how supplies were used. Kids played with those expensive sticky notes. They broke the costly art pencils, threw erasers, wasted hand sanitizer and tissues. Send your child with personal tissues and hand sanitizer. You have more control over how much she uses than you do over how the class uses it.

Attend back to school freebie events. Communities and churches are getting on board to help parents with school supplies. Watch the newspaper or school website. Don't be ashamed to take free stuff you qualify to receive. These back to school events are real blessings for parents.

Buy school supplies you can afford. Don't let anyone railroad or shame you into paying more. Look for bargains. I got a $150 North Face backpack for $69 on sale at Amazon. I paid only $21 for it, using Swagbucks rewards coupons and Amazon VISA perks.

Black History Month and MLK Jr. Day from Detroit and the Rosa Parks bus to a New Orleans Congo Square Kwanzaa

 I had a profound experience, an epiphany if you will, on Christmas in 2014. I was taken outside my life and transported to a place I've never been, in a time I never lived. The memory haunts like the song your memory doesn't recognize, but your heart does. This experience is particularly relevant on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and always during Black History Month. So what's the big deal? I sat in Rosa Parks bus seat.  MLK Jr. Day connects Detroit, Rosa Parks bus to New Orleans Congo Square, Kwanzaa

Free printable Thanksgiving holiday crafts, games, activities, greeting cards, coloring pages

Do you love the Thanksgiving holiday? Some say it's the best of the holidays. If you're a penny pincher who doesn't spend money on decorations and party supplies, yet likes to decorate, here are free printable Thanksgiving and seasonal decorations, crafts, coloring pages and party games. Kids will love making greeting cards from holiday printables. Get Halloween and Christmas printables too. Pumpkin carving patterns, snowflake templates and more.     Free Thanksgiving holiday crafts, games, greeting cards, coloring pages, printables

Free printable reading worksheets, phonics lessons, online reading activities

 Parents, do you worry your kids' reading skills will slip during summer vacation. Many parents would love to boost students' reading skills but don't want to pay for tutoring. Well, you don't have to. Here are free printable reading worksheets, online reading activities, phonics lessons, English Language Arts or ELA activities and online reading games   Free printable reading worksheets, phonics lessons, online reading activities | Examiner.com

Repurpose and reuse recycled trash: Decoupage kids' gift crafts for Earth Month | Examiner.com

 Parents, do you need rainy day kids craft for stuck inside children? How about recycled trash gift crafts for Earth Day? April is Earth Month and spring is the perfect time to repurpose and reuse! Here's are easy homemade gift crafts made from recycled trash that kids can make. Repurpose and reuse glass jars and scrap paper to make a desk set, perfect for Mothers Day, Fathers Day and teacher appreciation gifts. These Earth Month crafts use a simple retro crafting technique called decoupage or Mod Page. Repurpose and reuse recycled trash: Decoupage kids' gift crafts for Earth Month | Examiner.com

Free printable NASA Curiosity Mars Rover, astronomy, earth science activities

 The 2015 movie "The Martian" gave viewers startling first-hand experiences with life on Mars. Since the NASA Curiosity Mars rover landed on the red planet August 5, 2012, it's been busily gathering data and reporting back to Earth. And Earthlings are fascinated by the thought of life on Mars and the findings of the NASA Curiosity Mars Rover. Here are free printable Mars rover lesson plans. Educators and homeschool families, use these Curiosity Rover lesson plans to teach kids about astronomy, earth science, the solar system outer space travel and NASA. You could even have a Mars rover party. Use these NASA Mars Curiosity rover lesson plans to create inspiring, engaging earth science lesson plans. Free printable NASA Curiosity Mars Rover, astronomy, earth science activities | Examiner.com

Geography games with globes: Earth science, landforms, time zones map activities

April is Earth Month and it's a good time to explore earth science and world geography. With the National Geography Bee right around the corner, here are hands-on social studies lessons, map activities and geography games with globes. Playing geography games with globes helps students visualize the big picture better than with maps. Use map activities to locate specific places and use globes for accurate place countries in the world at large. Use geography games with globes to demonstrate earth science lessons, just in time for Earth Month in April!  Geography games with globes: Earth science, landforms, time zones map activities | Examiner.com

Animal alphabet school snacks: A-Z healthy snack recipes for kids to learn ABCs

Teachers and homeschool parents, just in time for National Reading Month in March, here’s a month-long menu of alphabet letter snacks. Use these for interactive reading lesson plans. Use Alpha-Bits cereal, letter pretzels, cookies for letter shape. Make character sandwiches using any spread and leave open face. Use pretzels or matchstick carrots for whiskers. For eyes, use Cheerios, spray cheese, raisins, olives, banana or kiwi slices. Make ears, nose and mouth from apple bits, pimentos, pepper pieces, triangle chips or crackers. Use pretzel sticks for legs. For cookie creations, use candy or fruit to make faces.  Animal alphabet school snacks: A-Z healthy snack recipes for kids to learn ABCs | Examiner.com

Free printable Hunger Games activities: Catching Fire, Mockingjay lesson plans

 It's an understatement to say that "The Hunger Games" book trilogy, by Suzanne Collins, has taken the world by storm. "The Hunger Games" movie blasted to top spot when it came out in book and then movie. The saga continued in "Catching Fire" and "Mockingjay" which don't stay long on book shelves. All four movies The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay Part 1 and Mockingjay Part 2, were wildly popular. If you're planning to teach a unit on The Hunger Games books or movies, here are free printable Hunger Games lesson plans and activities for several different content areas. As for age level, the movie is acceptable for kids over eight but the books are a bit graphic. Read The Hunger Games books series with kids over 12.  Free printable Hunger Games activities: Catching Fire, Mockingjay lesson plans | Examiner.com