Counting Coins

Young mother teaching her daughter about money managementWant your child to learn the difference between the various coins we use and the value of each? This activity is a great way for children to discover the differences between various coins and learn that different coins have different values.

What You’ll Need:

  • A pile of mixed coins making sure to have at least one of each type
  • Paper
  • Pencils (colored or regular) OR clay
  • Animals crackers or other “store items”

Learning Activity:

  1. Have the children separate coins into like piles by type, all the pennies in one pile, all the nickels in another, etc. Have them count the number of coins in each. If the kids are older, have them total up the amount of all the coins.
  2. Have the kids select one or two coins and do a coin rubbing by taking a sheet of white paper and placing the coin beneath it. Using a colored pencil or regular pencil, lay the lead flat against the paper on top of the coin and have the child rub it until the image of the coin appears. You may also use clay and mold it around each coin. Discuss the difference between the coins asking some of the following questions:
    1. What color is the coin?
    2. Does it have a rough edge?
    3. Which coin is largest or smallest?
    4. What do you see on the coins (presidents, buildings, trees)?
  3. Give the child five pennies and one nickel. Have the child “buy” five animal crackers together with the nickel and then singly with a penny each. Set up other play store opportunities at home where children can buy different items using different coins.

Other Money Teaching Ideas:

  • Visit the store and give the child 50 cents or a dollar and let the child purchase an item.
  • When shopping with your child, have them count items as they are put into the cart to understand how much money is needed for all of them.
  • Save money in clear containers so kids can see it increasing.
  • Conduct a treasure hunt for coins in a room at home. Sort into like piles and count.
  • Read a book!

The Coin Counting Book

The Coin Counting Book by Rozanne Lanczak Williams is a unique book that offers the kids the opportunity to see the coins in detail and to appreciate their value. This book is a good way to introduce simple math to children.

My First Book of Money: Counting Coins



My First Book of Money: Counting Coins from Kumon Publishing is a great book if your child can add numbers up to 100, and is familiar with the concept of money. This workbook will build on that foundation and is a fun and easy introduction to coins and their value, which will help strengthen your child’s mathematical skills.



What are your tips for teaching children about money at school or at home? Let us know what you do by leaving us a comment below or tweeting us at @UNLExtensionTLC!

Leanne Manning, Extension Educator | The Learning Child

(This post has been used with permission and adapted from a previous publication of this article by Leanne Manning from Nebraska Extension IANR)

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Essential Oils, What You Need to Know…

It seems as though everywhere you look today, there is a new display of essential oils products available to consumers.  I have seen these displays in the major discount retailers and pharmacy stores as well as high-end department stores, beauty salons, and dollar thrift stores.  The products all have the same message for the consumer, emphasizing the natural remedy to many ailments. Many people enjoy the natural aroma and have faith in the healing or behavior changing claims of these products.

As a former classroom teacher, I was always careful to not wear perfume or cologne around my students.  I was cautioned of this by my college advisor before student teaching because of the concern for any students with respiratory problems or asthma.  I was also made aware of the dangers of aerosol sprays and air fresheners for the same reasons, so when I became aware of some classroom teachers using essential oil diffusers in their classrooms, I naturally wanted to see if the same was true of these fragrances.

I found out that there are two possible concerns with essential oils, one being toxicity, and the other as mentioned above, respiratory complications.  With any product in the home, it is important to keep essential oils out of reach of children.  Oils are highly concentrated, and according to the Tennessee Poison Center at Vanderbilt, the primary route of poisoning is by ingestion, but it may also occur by excessive or inappropriate application to the skin.  Justin Loden, Pharm. D., certified specialist in Poison Information (CSPI) at TPC states, “Children are at risk for poisoning because they may try to ingest essential oils from the container. Most have a pleasant smell but bitter taste, so children easily choke on them and aspirate the oil to their lungs. Children are also at risk because their thin skin readily absorbs essential oils, and the protective barrier that covers their brain is easily penetrated.” This has also raised concerns about the use of oils by prenatal mothers, as they can cross the placenta to the unborn baby.

Clinical studies are underway in the United States and many other countries on the benefits of essential oils used for their healing properties as well as safe use. Check out this article for more information on the toxicology of essential oils. Rise in Children Ingesting Essential Oils. Another article on the safety of essential oils by a board certified pediatrician cautions on the use of oil diffusers around children. What Does The Research Say, also provides more information on the difficulty in conducting research on essential oils and the concerns for toxicity in use with children and prenatal mothers. I encourage you to explore more on this topic and to seek advice from your trusted pediatrician or OB/GYN to help you make well informed decisions for you and your family.

Lynn DeVries, Extension Educator | The Learning Child

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Let’s Play Ball!

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 10.49.23 AM.pngThere are many innovative toys for children on the market today, but one that continues to stand the test of time for its ability to encourage the whole child’s development over many years of growth is a ball.

Baby ball

Babies learn about the world through sensory integration, balls are something babies can see, touch, and interact with and better yet, their parents are their favorite teammate. When selecting balls for play with baby, you might choose textured balls or try slightly deflating the ball so it is easier for baby to grip. You might look for an “O ball” that baby can squeeze and grip. These are great for babies because they are soft and safe. According to the NAEYC, caregivers should provide play objects that are “made of materials and scaled to a size that lets infants grasp, chew, and manipulate them (Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs, 3rd edition, C., and S. Bredekamp, eds. 2009).”

Roll the ball with your baby while sitting or when baby is enjoying tummy time. This type of play encourages gross-motor development as baby reaches and grasps the ball with both hands. You will help baby to build finger strength and strengthen the muscles neededwoman playing ball with child for sitting. Rolling the ball also helps to encourage visual tracking and supports hand –eye coordination. The parent / child time will also help the child to learn social skills of communication as the play goes back and forth between you and baby and it’s a wonderful time to bond with baby. Try singing as you roll the ball back and forth; “I roll the ball to you, you roll the ball to me, I roll the ball to you and you roll the ball to me.”

Parents of infants 3- 6 months can try using a large exercise ball to stimulate baby. Try putting the ball against a wall and firmly holding it in place with your feet. Place a towel on the balls surface, then place baby on the ball for tummy time. You can gently bounce the ball and slightly roll it from side to side. This is great for strengthening neck muscles.

Toddler Ball

One to Two-year old’s are ready to work on their eye/hand coordination. Parents can introduce catching and throwing, however this involves a series of complicated movements and muscles to control. Toddlers may attempt to throw objects at around 18 months, but catching will wait till age 3 or 4 and resembles hugging the ball to their chest. With any new skill it takes lots of practice. Parents can offer their throwers different types of objects such as bean bags, foam balls, and beach balls. Use baskets or boxes as the target, moving some close and some farther away. Parents can be more engaging with their toddler by sitting at the child’s level and playing along.

Check out this quick reference guide on typical motor development milestones and this new app from The Learning Child, UR Parent. It is full of information for parents in the first year of your child’s life. This app is geared to the specific age of your baby. Information on child development and parenting from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This app also features a baby book for the busy on-the-go parents. The UR parent app is handy to keep track of your immunization records on your phone, and also allows you to record special events such as the date your baby takes their first step. With UR parent, questions you have about taking care of your child are just a fingertip away.

Ages and Stages

Remember, every child develops at their own pace. The ages and stages mentioned earlier are an approximate range in developmental milestones. Parents can support their child’s growth and development by offering time and opportunity as well as safe balls to explore this gross motor play. NAEYC also tells us that caregivers should “allow toddlers freedom to explore their movements by testing what their bodies are capable of doing (Copple, C., and S. Bredekamp, eds. 2009).” Follow the child’s lead and continue the play as long as they are interested, but do not force this type of play. Your child will indicate to you when they have lost interest and are ready for the “7th inning stretch.”

What creative ways have you tried introducing balls in your routine with children?


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Family Game nights, a Win-Win for everyone!

As back to school is well underway, our schedules can become very hectic with carpools, school events, homework, and the like.  In my back to school blog, I wrote, a well thought out routine can be the secret to a calm, child centered learning environment if planned appropriately.  This time I want to encourage you to make a family night part of that routine.

Young children thrive on quality time spent together with family.  Not only is the interaction good for building self-esteem, reserving a special night is a great way to strengthen communication and bonding within a family and build traditions that are special and unique to each individual family. I also encourage families to get away from screen time as a family activity and instead look for creative games to play with their children.

According to Elizabeth Brunscheen-Cartagena, family life and resource management agent with Kansas State Research and Extension, board games can help family members connect and have fun together, all while helping kids build essential learning skills as they navigate the social component of game playing.  Brunscheen-Cartagena refers to this as “social capital” in her blog, Get Your Game Face On.

There are many benefits to playing games with young children as a family, and research tells us that it is through play that children make discoveries and learning new skills.

  •  Motor Development: Age appropriate games give opportunities to develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills such as rolling dice and turning over cards.
  •  Intellectual Development: Games allow exposure to counting, sorting and identifying numbers, and some introduce shapes and patterns, as well as new vocabulary and letter recognition.
  •  Problem solving abilities: Games that promote memory and puzzles are good choices here. Games are great tools that give opportunities for simple decision making.
  •  Social skills: Playing games introduces and allows practice in turn taking and opportunities for families to model appropriate ways to interact with others.

Check out this article from Scholastic Parents on The Benefits of Board Games.  It gives some great suggestions on age appropriate game selections and advice about winning.

Family Game nights do not have to break your budget.  There are many creative games that you can play without an inventory of board games with a few simple everyday objects or With Just a Paper and Pencil.  And I am all for any activity that gets kids up and moving. Click here for 18 “Get off the Couch” games.

Tips to make your family night a success:

  • Establish a regular day and time that works best for your family
  • Eliminate distractions such as cell phones and television
  • Make sure everyone can play or participate
  • Keep it fun, build a family tradition to be remembered

What are some of your favorite family game night memories and ideas?

Lynn DeVries, Extension Educator | The Learning Child

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Saving for an Emergency

Do you know what you would do if your car suddenly broke down? What about if you or a family member needed immediate surgery?

Having an emergency fund set up in advance can help you get through just such stressful money-crunch times. An emergency fund is one where enough money is kept to cover about six months of expenses. It would be ideal if the money is saved in an account where it could earn some interest. Emergency funds should be in savings accounts, short term certificates of deposit, or money market accounts where it is easily converted to cash.

Celebrations such as Christmas and birthdays does not constitute an emergency. Both come around the same time each year and as such can be planned for and saved for in advance. With an emergency fund you can avoid taking out a loan or paying credit card debt for the emergency expense. Essentially you are borrowing from yourself and will not need to pay back a creditor any interest for a loan. It is not a good idea to have the emergency fund be accessible by ATM or to have it serve as the overdraft on a checking account because the emergency funds will disappear too rapidly if they are that easy to use.

You can learn more about emergency funds by visiting and clicking on Before You Invest.

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Look Who’s Hatching

Look Who's Hatching ProjectWritten by Alice Brown. Brown is a recent graduate from Tennessee State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development and Family Relations and was an intern for Jaci Foged.

Baby chicks for Look Who's HatchingDuring the first month of my internship I worked with three preschool classrooms implementing the “Look Who’s Hatching” embryology project. Working with the children was my favorite. As a future teacher, I love to see the passion and joy in kids eyes when they learn something new or see the outcome of a project.

The classroom had 10 eggs that were placed in incubators until they hatched. Each visit we did activities of different Oviparous Animals (animals that lay eggs) with the classrooms. We kept the fact that we had chicken eggs a secret from the students so they could explore every possibility of what could hatch. Their guesses were adorable and funny!

Frozen Dinosaur Eggs

My favorite activity was the frozen dinosaur egg excavation. Before the activity, we froze toy dinosaurs inside balloons. When we arrived at the center we gave the frozen dinosaur eggs to the kids so they could help the dinosaur hatch. The kids were given a spoon and salt and had to melt the ice to “hatch” the dinosaur. The determination to help free the dinosaur was a sight to see, especially after seeing one of their friends already playing with their dinosaur.

At the end of the project sadly only 10 chickens hatched out of the 30 eggs we delivered to the classrooms, but the excitement from the children was still the same. They were able to name their chicks as they hatched and were excited every time they saw the Egg Lady’s (what the kids called us) come to their classroom.

Are you interested in have the “Look Who’s Hatching” project at your center? Contact Katie Krause at for more information!

Alice Brown | The Learning Child

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Can Allowances Be A Teaching Tool?

Family teaching little girl about money

Why Consider An Allowance?

  • Children learn about receiving a fixed income and they can begin to make decisions about how to use it.
  • Children receiving allowances may learn to set financial goals.
  • Children experience and learn the results of poor money management.

When Is The Best Age To Start Giving An Allowance?

Many parents wonder this! The answer is that is really depends on the child. An allowance can be started as soon as a child grasps how money works (i.e., that we use money to buy the things we want and need.) Some experts say children as young as age 4 or 5 can be ready to learn how to use money and can be started on an allowance. Others say 6 or 7 may be a better age. Children with older siblings usually are ready for an allowance at an earlier age than only or first-born children.

Allowances and Chores

Many financial experts agree that it is important to keep the idea of an allowance separate from being paid for doing chores. Children have responsibilities within their families which they should fulfill without expecting to be paid for completing them. Paying children for chores also encourages the attitude that everything has a price and they should get paid for what they do. Chores are a part of belonging to a family.

To see how paying for chores can get out of hand, let’s suppose Maria makes her bed only four days out of seven. Do you pay her the usual weekly allowance? If her allowance depends upon chores being completed, someone has to keep track of what’s done and decide upon a pay scale. What if Maria decides one week she doesn’t need any money, so she doesn’t do any work? An allowance usually includes money to buy certain items as agreed to by the parent and the child.

Children Should Decide How They Use Their Allowance

Here are some suggestions for what children might be expected to purchase using their allowances at different ages:

  • Under age 6: candy, gum, ice cream, small toys, gifts for others, books, paints, crayons.
  • 6-9 years old: in addition to the above, movies, amusements, lunch at school, magazines, gifts for birthdays and holidays, contributions, club or activity dues, Little girl receiving an allowancehobbies, special sports equipment, school expenses.
  • 9-12 years old: in addition to the above, fees for activities such as swimming or skating, some school supplies or trips, some clothing, and upkeep of items like sports equipment.
  • 13-18 years old: all of those mentioned previously plus money for dates, grooming, cosmetics, jewelry, school activities, travel and savings for college. The needs and wants of teenagers rapidly outgrow the family’s ability to pay for everything. So the opportunity for earning money outside the family becomes essential.

In addition to the needs of the child, the actual amount of an allowance should fit with the family’s financial situation. The lower the family’s income or the more people in the household, the smaller the amount of each child’s allowance compared to families with higher income and/or fewer family members.

How Much Should Be Paid As An Allowance?

Consider family income and financial commitments, the age and ability of the child to manage the money, what the child’s friends receive as an allowance, and the cost of items the allowance will cover. The allowance amount should be enough to cover specified items with a little extra for saving and some for fun spending. Yet it also needs to be small enough that it forces the child to make financial decisions. Develop a trial amount by keeping track of the child’s purchases for a month or two. Then track what happens with the allowance for a couple of months to see how it works. Change the amount of the allowance only when really necessary like when the family’s income drops or a child’s expenses go up. Build-in regular increases such as on birthdays or at the beginning of a school year. Decide the amount of the increase by checking with other parents or look online or in publications at the local library.


Check with the parents of a child’s friends. What amount do the friends get as an allowance? Giving him either much more or much less than what friends receive may create problems for him.

Sit down and discuss expectations with the child before an allowance is started. Establish what allowance is to pay for and any limitations on what can be bought. For example, what limits are there on the amount of candy they can buy? Will you say “no” to certain movies they buy or go see? If her bike tire needs replacing, will you help out or will she be expected to pay for the repair with her allowance?

Pay an allowance on the same day each week. The child should not have to remind or beg for an allowance to be paid. Paying at the beginning or middle of the week may help younger children learn to stretch their money until the next allowance is paid. Do not rescue a child when he runs out of money. He needs to learn there are consequences for not spending wisely. He might not get to go to the movies with friends if he’s spent all his money early in the week. If she asks for more money for what the parent thinks is a worthy cause, consider giving her a chance to earn it by doing one of those special jobs like cleaning out the attic.

Paying the allowance with various kinds of coins or bills may help younger children learn the value of each coin or bill. It also makes it easier to divide the allowance into spending, saving, and sharing amounts according to a previously-set money plan.

An allowance basically is money that would be spent on a child anyway, just given in a different form. Instead of paying for things at the time when he wants them, parents pay him an allowance and let him decide how to spend the money. The goal of an allowance is to teach children to distinguish between wants and needs and to prioritize and save — difficult lessons that will pay off throughout life.


How do you use allowances in your family? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us at @UNLExtensionTLC.

Leanne Manning, Extension Educator | The Learning Child

(This article was originally published as a NebGuide by Manning. It is re-published her with permission).

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Don’t Banish The Booster Seat!

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 2.25.22 PMI was doing it again; talking out loud to myself in my car about other drivers. “Why isn’t that kid in their car seat?” I mumble. My daughter sitting safe in her own booster seat in the backseat of my truck asks who I am talking to. “That driver in the red car didn’t have their child buckled in their car seat” I tell her. My seven-year-old sits shocked in the back…” That’s not safe!” she exclaims. “I know baby; she should be buckled up” I tell her.

You will want to keep reading if you:

  • have young children,
  • transport children under age 18 in a vehicle, or;
  • wish to avoid penalties for failing to follow Nebraska law.

How It Used To Be…

In my childhood we often sat in the bed of a pickup truck rolling down the dirt road without a second thought. If you go back even farther to my father’s childhood, he remembers they would stick six children and two adults in a five passenger car (clearly the math does not add up). My dad talks about riding in the back window ledge or sitting on pillows to see up and over the dashboard while sitting in the front seat. You would think the need to add height would be a clue the child shouldn’t be sitting up front; don’t even get me started about the back window — my how times have changed. Many cars now sound audible warnings and flash lights reminding you to secure your seatbelt. We now have digital signs over highways reminding us to “buckle up” for safety.

But, What About Our Children?

According to Safe Kids Worldwide, road injuries are the leading cause of unintentional Girl in Booster Seatdeaths to children in the United States. Nebraska does have laws which mandate protection of children in cars:

  • Children birth to age 6 must be secured correctly in a federally-approved child safety seat.
  • Infants should be placed in a rear-facing infant or convertible car seat in the backseat of the vehicle.
  • Toddlers can be turned forward facing (still in the backseat) and should be in a five-point harness until the child reaches the limits for height and weight of the seat.
  • Booster seats are used when children outgrow the five-point harness. Booster seats can be tricky. These seats should be used until a child is 4 feet 9 inches tall or 57 inches. Fifty-seven inches is the average height of an 11-year-old.

Booster Seats

I know, you’re thinking your 11-year-old would never want to sit in a booster seat that long. The bottom line is booster seats help a seatbelt fit properly. The seatbelt should fit snugly across the upper thighs — not across the stomach and the shoulder belt should not cross the neck or face. Parents and caregivers should also ensure children under the age of 12 ride only in the backseat of vehicle.

Licensed child care providers are required to take transportation training if they transport children on behalf of their employer. Providers must complete the “Safe Kids Buckle Up” program within 90 days of hire and repeat the training every 5 years.


Car seat installation can be tricky. You should refer to the car seat manufacturer’s instructions as well as your vehicle’s owner’s manual for guidance on the proper installation of your child safety seat. Lancaster County has a couple child safety seat inspection stations you can visit to see if your car seat is installed correctly and learn how to properly secure a child into the seat. Visit Safe Kids Nebraska to see their calendar for car seat check events — appointments are required.

Nebraska law mandates driver and front seat passengers must wear their seat belts. Nebraska has defined this as a secondary law — this means you cannot be cited for not wearing a seat belt unless you have already been cited for another violation. The penalty for not wearing a seatbelt is $25. However, children up to the age of 6 are required by law to be in approved child safety seats. Anyone in violation of this can be cited, even if they are not cited for anything else.

Be a good role model for your child, buckle up every time you are in the car and talk with your child about why buckling up is important. Make sure your child is 57 inches tall before you banish the booster.

Jaci Foged, Extension Educator | The Learning Child

(Originally published in NebGuide by Foged. Republished here with permission.)

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16 Tips For Cutting Family Food Expenses

Cutting food expensesDoes your lettuce turn to mush? Mushrooms start to grow fuzzy? Do your bananas blacken before your family can eat them? In the US, the average family of four, loses $1,500 each year to food it has to throw out. This is like tossing one bag out of every four purchased at the grocery store.

Food is a necessary expense but there are ways to save money. Check out these tips!

1. Use a Grocery List

Keep a grocery list where it’s easily accessible, such as on Use a grocery listthe fridge, and take it with you to the grocery store. Always shop with a list. Stick to your list for added savings, but do stay flexible if you encounter a sale. Gas for an extra trip to the store easily can add a dollar or more to your grocery bill. And the less you shop, the less likely you’ll buy something on impulse.


  • Gas to drive four miles for an extra trip to the store: $1.00 (or more!)
  • Impulse purchase of snack crackers at the store: An additional $2.50 spent.

2. Garbage Check

We lose money whenever we toss food because it spoiled before we got around to eating it. If leftovers get the “heave-ho” because they’re left too long, we’re putting money in the garbage can. Plan to avoid tossing foods.

Consider: If wilted lettuce frequently goes in your garbage can, serve more salads at the beginning of the week. If extra mashed potatoes get tossed because they’ve lingered too long in the fridge, make less next time. Some other ideas: Use ripe bananas in banana bread; add juice to smoothies or make popsicles; freeze leftovers for another meal.


  • Tossing a half bag of “tired” lettuce: $1.00.

3. Avoid Shopping When Hungry

Everything looks good on an empty stomach. And it’s all too easy to buy something to tide us over in the car until we make it home. Eating before going shopping not only helps forestall impulse buys, it may save calories. If you’re shopping with your kids, feed them in advance as well.


  • Buying an energy bar at the grocery store to tide you over until you get home: $1.50 more spent.

4. Brown Bag It

If you normally eat out at noon, consider brown-bagging it at least one day a week. The typical fast-food meal out easily can cost $5.00 or more. Take food left over from an Brown bag it and bring your own lunchevening meal to work the next day. A peanut butter sandwich and a piece of whole fruit can be quickly packed from foods on hand.

Note: You may save money on your children’s lunch by having them participate in the school lunch program. They can eat a balanced meal that is offered at a reasonable price.


  • Eating a sack lunch once a week: Save $2.50 (or more!)
  • Eating a sack lunch five days a week: Save $12.50 (or more!)

5. Coupon Common Sense

Use coupons only for foods you normally would eat, rather than for “extras.” Don’t miss out on potential sources of valuable coupons. Check your grocery receipt — sometimes there are great coupons on the back that help save money. Also, if you have access to a computer, check online for coupons. For starters, check the Web site of the store coupon common sensewhere you shop or for products you use.

Often the Web site address for many foods is given on the product label.

If possible, shop on double- or triple-coupon days when a store increases the value of coupons. Grocery store loyalty cards may be another source of savings, offering in-store discounts to cardholders.


  • Not buying that NEW dessert mix just because you have a coupon: Save $2.00.
  • Using two 50-cent coupons for items you do use: Save $1.00.

Check expiration dates6. Check Expiration Dates

Avoid buying a food that is past its prime. If it’s on sale and near its expiration date, use it soon.


  • Avoid dumping a half gallon of soured milk down the drain: Save $2.50.

7. Small-Scale Experiments

When trying a new food, buy the smallest size package. If your family doesn’t like the new food, you won’t be stuck with a big quantity.


  • Buy a small amount of an exotic spice until you discover if your family will eat it in the new recipe: Save $1.50.

8. Costly Convenience Foods

How much time do you really save when you buy a convenience food? It takes just a fewPre-cut vegetables seconds to mix your own sugar and cinnamon rather than buying it pre-mixed.
Microwaving a bowl of regular oatmeal rather than pouring hot water over the contents of a pre-measured package adds only a few minutes.

You’re likely to save by cutting fruits and veggies yourself. Plus, the precut ones won’t keep as long!


  • Buying one carton of old-fashioned or quick oatmeal that provides 30 servings vs. buying three boxes of instant oatmeal that contain 10 packets each: Save $5.50.

9. Staple Food Stock Up

Invest in staple foods when they’re on sale. Buying a boatload of bananas (or other perishable foods) isn’t a very good long-term investment. Stocking up on staple items such as reduced-price canned tuna or tomato sauce might be. Remember to check expiration dates.


  • Stocking up on 10 cans of tuna reduced by 20 cents apiece: Save $2.00.

10. Bulking Up When the Price Is Right and You Can Use It

Bulk of orangesFirst, do the math and check to see if you actually do save by buying a larger package.
The cost of two foods of a smaller size may be a better price than the larger one. Plus, will you
use the food while it is still tasty? Always check it out and if the larger size meets your criteria, go for it!


  • Buying a 5-pound bag of rice instead of a 1-pound bag: Save $1.50.

11. Store Brand Savings

Store brands are comparable in nutrition to name brands. And taste-wise there may be Store brand Mountain Dewlittle difference. In some comparisons, they have been preferred over the name brands.
Some store brands may vary more in size, color, or texture than the name brands. However this may be unimportant, depending on their use. A less-than-perfect-appearing vegetable may be just fine if used in a casserole or soup.

Don’t shop just at eye level. Store brands and lower-priced brands tend to be positioned on the top and bottom shelves. The national brands are more likely to be on the middle shelves.


  • Buying just two store brands and saving 50 cents on each: Save $1.00.

12. Prevent Food Flops

Check preparation methods for unfamiliar foods. A tropical fruit may look enticing at the store, but if you’re not sure how to prepare it or where to find more information once you bring it home, think again. Or that new cut of meat — do you slowly roast it or can it be grilled? Either way, find out or risk having a food flop.

Often the produce person or the meat manager at the store can give you some tips. Many produce departments have books with descriptions of all items, what they taste like, how to prepare them, etc.


  • Purchasing a bag of self-rising flour without first reading the recipe’s directions and discovering it won’t work: Lose $2.50.

13. Beware of Snack Attacks

Unless you’re fairly active and need the calories, limit snacks such as chips, cookies, Junk foodcandy, etc. You’ll save money and may lose unwanted pounds at the same time.


  • Buying one less bag of chips weekly: Save $2.00.

14. Shop the Specials

Plan your menus around sale items, especially more expensive purchases, such as meat. Buying several packages of meat on sale and freezing them may save quite a bit.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture advises that it is safe to freeze meat or poultry in its supermarket wrapping but this type of wrap is permeable to air. So, unless you plan to use them within a month or so, overwrap packages of meat for long-term storage using airtight heavy-duty foil, freezer plastic wrap or freezer paper, or put the packages of meat inside freezer plastic bags. Use these materials to repackage family packs of meat into smaller amounts.

While raw ground meat maintains optimum quality in the freezer for 3 to 4 months, larger cuts of meat like steaks or chops will maintain optimum quality for 4 to 12 months. At 0o F, frozen food remains safe indefinitely. The safest way to thaw meat is in the refrigerator on a plate on the bottom shelf so it doesn’t drip on other foods.


  • Buying meat on sale: Save $2.00.

15. Think Before You Drink

re-usable water bottlesBuy a reusable water bottle and fill it with tap water. Your investment soon will pay for itself. Limit consumption of soft drinks and fancy coffees. And if you do buy drinks occasionally, try to buy returnable bottles.


  • Drinking tap water vs. buying a 12-pack of bottled water: Save $4.00.

16. “Check-out” Temptation

As you wait in line, think twice about buying some last minute temptation at the check-out counter.


  • Resist that magazine: Save $3.50.

Grand Total

The more of these tips you use and the more foods you use with them, the family cutting expensesmore you save.

Case in point: If you were able to use each of the preceding examples in one shopping trip, you could save as much as $40 that week.

Multiply that by 52 weeks and the savings would be… over $2,000 yearly!

Note: Prices in this NebGuide were rounded to the nearest 50 cents and may vary by store and location.

Alice C. Henneman, Extension Educator, Nancy G. Frecks, Extension Educator, and Kathy Prochaska-Cue, Extension Family Economist 

(This article was originally published by the authors as a NebGuide. It is re-published here with their permission.)

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Strength Training for Fine Motor Development

Children developing find motor skillsWhat Are Fine Motor Skills?

Fine motor skills are those skills that require the use and control of the muscles in one’s hands. We depend on these skills for the many day-to-day tasks that allow for self-care and independence such as getting dressed, eating lunch, and writing. Caregivers play a vital role in conditioning and training our young children to use their fine motor skills to facilitate life-long independence.

In my work with children from pre-school through middle school, something that I am becoming aware of is the lack of hand strength for simple classroom and self-help tasks. I have observed many children with very loose pencil grips that affects their ability to write and form letters. I have also seen middle school students who lack the strength in their hands to manipulate a scissors.

Practice Makes Perfect

Just as with any cognitive skill, fine motor abilities will improve with practice. It is the caregiver’s role to provide an environment rich in experiences that will enhance fine motor development. The intentionalGirl practicing writing with a pencil planning for fine motor practice will also enhance other developmental domains and strengthen the connections made in the brain for learning. In this NAEYC article, the authors introduce four specific muscle areas to concentrate on and have provided a list of activities that promote fine motor development specific to each area.

Children learn best through developmentally appropriate play using their senses to explore their world. These simple and playful hand strengthening activities will give your play a purpose, and who doesn’t enjoy play dough? The Potential of Playdough will give you a whole new appreciation for this simple activity including recipes to make your own playdough.

What are some of your favorite activities to promote fine motor development?

Lynn DeVries, Extension Educator | The Learning Child

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