Handwriting Practice: Gingerbread Salt Tray

Handwriting practice in the salt tray has been working for our family. My kindergartener practices writing letters and numbers and and we’ve just introduced a few sight words.  My 10-year-old does cursive writing practice and writes his spelling words in the salt tray. The delicious smelling gingerbread spices and the texture of the salt make this a great sensory writing experience. We have both our candy cane salt tray and our gingerbread one out on the table this week.

writing for kids cursive practice


Use the salt tray for…

  • practicing handwriting or cursive writing skills
  • pre-writing strokes for toddlers and young preschoolers
  • spelling words for older kids
  • sight words for new readers
  • a sensory play tray with scoops or little cars or animal toys

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Handwriting Practice: Candy Cane Salt Tray

Make handwriting practice fun with an easy salt tray.  Inexpensive and fun to put together, even more fun for kids to do handwriting practice (cursive practice, too) this salt has the fragrance of peppermint and is a great sensory experience.   

writing for kids

Ways to Use the Salt Tray

  • Practice learning letters and numbers for younger children.
  • Practice sight words for kids learning to read.
  • Practice spelling words for older kids. 
  • As a sensory experience.
  • Pre-writing skills for toddlers and preschoolers: draw lines, curves, shapes, etc. 

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Little House on the Prairie Books : My First Little House Series

I adored Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder when I was a child and was thrilled when one of the Creekside Learning Facebook followers told me about the My First Little House series.  This series is wonderful for younger kids, who are not quite ready for the chapter books. And, Little House on the Prairie Christmas is a great theme for literature and activities in December. 

Little House on the Prairie Christmas

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The My First Little House stories are based on the original Little House on the Prairie books.  The timing is a bit different in the First series. For example, most of the books include baby Carrie, Laura’s youngest sister in all the stories. In the original books, Carrie doesn’t appear until later, being much younger than her older sisters, Mary and Laura. But an introductory books to younger kids, that will only be noticed by the adults reading to them. This series is pure joy.

Christmas is a great time to discover these books because there are several Christmas themed books in the series. One of our favorites is Christmas in the Big Woods.  The book describes the very simple way that the Ingalls family celebrated Christmas, with a few simple gifts and some special foods.  

Little House on the Prairie Christmas

Little House Pancakes

Caroline Ingalls makes pancakes shaped like little men for the children to enjoy on Christmas.  This inspired us to make lots of different shaped pancakes. 

Little House on the Prairie Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder

 We took metal cookie cutters and filled them with pancake batter. You’ll want to grease the cookie cutters first with a little butter or some spray oil to prevent the batter from sticking. We flipped the pancakes over to the other side to cook, still inside the cookie cutters. Once both sides were done, the cookie cutters slipped right off and we had pretty shaped pancakes. 

Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House on the Prairie



Laura Ingalls Wilder 

 Little House Maple Syrup Snow Candy

In Laura’s chapter book, Little House in the Big Woods, the family helps Laura’s grandmother make Maple Sugar Snow Candy. This scene is also recreated in the book Christmas in the Big Woods in the My First Little House series.  For instructions on how to make maple syrup candy, click on the photo below.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House on the Prairie

This post is part of Rainy Day Mum’s Story Book Advent.   Click through to find more wonderful pairings of children’s holiday literature with go-along activities. More will be added throughout the season. 
Story Book Advent

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25 Healthy and Easy Homeschool Lunch Ideas

I’m on a mission to make homeschool lunches easier this year. To not have lunch be an afterthought.  To not have the same thing over and over again. To have a list I can pull from for days we are at home and days we are out and about.  To make a healthy lunch every day for my kids. Healthy and easy homeschool lunch ideas. Are you with me? 25 Healthy and Easy Homeschool Lunch Ideas | Creekside Learning

Lunch Ideas for Days When You Are At Home 

These ideas involve some cooking.  These are all main dishes. My kids can grab fresh fruit and/or fresh cut-up veggies (do the cutting once a week and have it ready to go) and a drink.

Quick and Easy Tortellini Meatball Soup | Creekside Learning  

Lunch Ideas for Days When You Are On-The-Go

Of course, these work for at home, too. They just happen to be portable.

  • Chicken salad with leftover roasted or grilled chicken alone or as a sandwich 
  • Lunchmeat and cheese rolled up in a lettuce wrap
  • Cheese and crackers 
  • Stuffed pita pockets with tuna salad

Lunch On The Go | Creekside Learning

  • Freezer smoothies with yogurt, fruit and veggies. Freeze small portions of smoothies. Defrost in fridge or lunch box. 
  • Healthy muffins: Zucchini, carrot, etc. Throw in greens. Freeze them in a big ziplock bag. Ready to go.
  • Homemade uncrustables and freeze them 
  • Bagel and cream cheese
  • Skewer lunches 
  • Hummus with pita bread and raw veggies
  • Hard-boiled eggs alone or in egg-salad sandwiches

 Tips and Tricks

  • Make thing like hard-boiled eggs for lunch while you make breakfast or the night before. 
  • Prep leftovers during dinner clean-up to be ready for lunch the next day. Dice chicken into cubes for chicken salad.
  • Double your dinner so that you have lunch portions to freeze or for the next day.
  • If you cook in batches and freeze dinner items, freeze lunchtime portions, too. Chili, spaghetti sauce, meatballs, soups, pizza dough, etc.
  • If you make meat balls, make mini ones. My kids love these. Every few months, my husband makes homemade meatballs and we make and freeze them. The mini meatballs are the size of large marbles. We throw them in soups, make them for lunch on their own or put them on top of pasta or rice. A quick and easy protein option. 

On The Side

Pair each of the above dishes with:

  • A side of fruit
  • A side of fresh veggies
  • A healthy drink. We’ve recently added Capri Sun 100% Juice and Capri Sun Super V Fruit and Vegetable Juice Drink to our lunch options.  I like that both these products have no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives and the kids like that it tastes good. 

 Capri Sun pouches now have a clear bottom. They are available in four varieties:

  • Capri Sun Juice Drink
  • Capri Sun Roarin’ Waters Flavored Water Beverage
  • Capri Sun 100% Juice
  • Capri Sun Super V Fruit and Vegetable Juice Drink

 Capri Sun with clear bottom  For more information, visit the Capri Sun parents page and the Capri Sun Facebook Page.  What quick and healthy lunch does your family enjoy?

Easy Lunch Recipes for Kids : Tortellini Meatball Soup

This quick and delicious soup is one of our family’s favorite lunches to make on days that we are home, and makes a fast and tasty dinner for evenings when we are short on prep time. There are more easy lunch recipes for kids coming on Creekside Learning. Be sure to follow the Creekside Learning Facebook Page or our main Pinterest board so you don’t miss any of these great recipes. 

Quick and Easy Tortellini Meatball Soup | Creekside Learning


Tortellini Meatball Soup
A quick, easy and delicious meal for lunch or dinner.
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  1. 3 to 4 cups chicken broth
  2. 1 package cheese tortellini
  3. 1.5 cups meatballs (mini meatballs or whole meatballs cut into quarters)
  4. 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  5. 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  6. Sprinkle of Parmesan cheese (optional)
  1. Boil water for tortellini. Cook tortellini according to package directions and drain.
  2. In a separate pot, bring chicken broth to a boil.
  3. Add shredded carrots.
  4. Sprinkle dried oregano.
  5. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes, until carrots are tender.
  6. Add meatballs and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, to heat meatballs, a bit longer if they were frozen.
  7. Put tortellini in a bowl and ladle the soup over top.
  8. Sprinkle parmesan cheese.
  1. If you make meatballs from scratch, make a batch of miniature meatballs and freeze. They are great for soups like this, or for a fun meal for kids with pasta and sauce. No mini meatballs? No worries. You can use regular sized meatballs (in the frozen foods section of the grocery store) and cut them into quarters for this recipe.
  2. You can also throw in some diced celery, frozen or fresh peas, and greens, such as kale, if you want to increase the veggie content of this soup.
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We usually serve this soup with a side of fruit and a chunk of crusty bread.

Tortellini Meatball Soup for an easy lunch or dinner

For more healthy recipes, check out the Feed My Family! Pinterest board.

Follow Julie Kirkwood, Creekside Learning’s board Feed My Family! on Pinterest.