Don’t Throw Away Orphan Toys. Do This Instead.

With summer winding down, we often want to welcome fall with a bit of cleaning and getting rid of some of the “stuff” that accumulated all summer long.  If your children are tired of their old toys and books or you just need to make some room, try donating the items to some of the following:

toys  delivers gently used toys to children in need. Go on the website to check for your local community chapter.  takes kids and baby gear along with maternity and children’s clothing that is in good condition.  They distribute it to needy families.

For books contact:    to schedule a pick up along with others in your area.  Just enter your zip code and choose from local charities you’d like to sponsor.

Another way to re-purpose books is at:   You pay for shipping to the Atlanta warehouse, but it is tax-deductible.

book mess

You can also donate unwanted items to your local GOODWILL, SALVATION ARMY, VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA    And, Habitat For Humanity will accept household items and furniture at their ReStore outlets to use in their building projects. Check out their needs at:

Check to see if local nursery schools, childcare centers and homeless shelters would welcome toys. There are plenty of kids out there looking for toys and books to love.


Tips For Traveling With Kids This Summer.

Is there anything better than summer vacation time?  Packing up the car for a road trip adventure?  If you’re saying “YES…there are PLENTY of things that are better than family vacations”, then maybe you can use a few tips to help make your next trip a good one.

Before you head out onto the open road or to the nearest airport with kids in tow…check out this site for everything you need to know about preparing for the trip and actually ENJOYING it as well.  The site has everything from sleeping, eating and entertaining kids while in transit.  I especially like the RESTAURANT KIT, and tip on how to keep toothbrushes from landing on germy bathroom counters.


Don’t forget the swimsuits, sunscreen and have a great trip!

Got Books? Part 2

A while back I posted some ideas on what to do with books that were no longer wanted.  Here are two more things we can do to keep books out of landfills and get them to people who really appreciate the written word in book form.

The first one involves a bit of carpentry –  or not.  You can either make a wooden box mounted on a post or buy one tailored for the following purpose: A Little Free Library. This movement began in Wisconsin when Todd Bol mounted a wooden box filled with books outside his home.  Today there are more than 10,000 “little free libraries” around the world.  This is a great Scout or Youth Group project as well.  People can take a book or put one in. You can share your favorite books and borrow others.  For more info on how to build or where too buy one of these boxes, visit:

Family to Family is an organization that helps families who have experienced disasters such as the tornado in Oklahoma.  The organization is collecting books for these families and can help tell you how you can be a part of the effort.  Go to:   for more information.

Back to School Tips

Here’s my blogger friend Gail Terp with some great tips for getting your kids in Back To School mode.

Back to School TipsSome kids are starting school this week; others will start within the next few weeks. After a summer of less structure, getting back into school mode can be a challenge. Here are a few tips for getting off to a good start.

 Establish a place to keep all school information.

  • Your child’s teacher(s) and contact information
  • Your child’s schedule
  • The school calendar
  • Documents such as report cards, immunizations, a behavior plan, Individualized Educational Plan (IEP), and any document you think you may want to refer to through the year

School Clothes

  • Inventory your child’s school clothes and discard/recycle mismatched socks, clothes that don’t fit, and clothes your child doesn’t like. Getting these things out of the way will streamline getting dressed for school
  • Consider setting out school clothes the night before. This can greatly help the morning preparations.

Morning Routine

  • Brainstorm with your child what needs to be done before he goes out the door in the morning. Things like getting dressed, eating breakfast, brushing teeth…
  • Write it down! In the morning, if your child needs reminders, all you need to do is have her check her routine card.
  • Build in a reward. Checklist completed? Brainstorm what can happen (watch TV, get points towards a reward, computer time…)
  • Launching Pad
  • Establish a place near the front door to collect all that needs to go out the door. Things like backpacks, lunch, shoes, jackets—whatever you don’t want to have to search the house for.
  • Homework
  • Set up a routine. This is a very individual thing. A routine is best if your child has input.
  • Consider when your child is freshest and most motivated. Right after school? After dinner? For some kids, the morning is a good time. It’s risky, of course, but it’s something to consider.
  • If possible, establish a dedicated homework area. This will need to reflect your child’s work style. Some kids do just fine in their rooms, others need to be where you can monitor their on-task behavior.

Along with my own experience, I used these sites to write this post. Please check out them out for more ideas.

Friendship Circle

Pragmatic Mom

Stress Free Kids

Here are 2 sites that have downloadable resources you may find helpful.

Reading Rockets

School Family

 Have a great start to the new school year!

Gail Terp

 About Me

I’m a retired teacher who has spent the last 30 years working with enthusiastic and reluctant readers. One of my top goals as a teacher was to connect kids with books they loved. It’s still my goal. My blog, Best Blog for Kids Who Hate to Read, is one way I use to reach it.

Give Bikes a Second Life

When you children outgrow their bikes or want the next, newest one, don’t just throw away the old two wheelers.   in 2009 Kerri Martin opened her non-profit business Second Life Bikes.  What’s unique about the company is that if a child wants a bike, he/she must spend some time working on repairing it and refurbishing bikes for others…a sort of sweat-equity.  Kerri teaches the boys and girls about bike repair and operation, job skills and work ethic.  Troubled youth can do community service in her shop.  She’s also planning to expand into more formal training, welding instruction, nutrition classes and riding clubs.

To learn more about this wonderful program or to make a donation, go to:

Got Too Many Leftover Halloween Treats?

If you’re left with an abundance of Halloween Candy, you can send it to Veterans and Active Duty Troops stationed overseas.  There are other things you can also send. Knitted scarves, handwritten letters, or pictures drawn by a child are always welcome by service members. OPERATION GRATITUDE is collecting these items and more to fill care packages for veterans and those in active service. Visit the website to find a list of what to donate.  Help make the holidays a little nicer for these unsung heroes.

Got Stuffed Animals?

Does it sometimes seem as if your child’s stuffed “critters” are taking over the house?  I found a nifty solution to end stuffed animal clutter.  Hang them on an adhesive backed strip of hook and loop fasteners you’ve attached to the wall. They are within easy reach yet out of the way as well. Be sure to use the loopy side of the strip so the soft fibers of the toys will stick.