Strawberry Freezer Jam

I LOVE LOVE LOVE strawberries!!!  However, I have never been a jam or jelly girl.  In the past, I always just put butter on my toast.  Occasionally, I would put peanut butter.  Never jam or jelly though.  I never cared for the taste.  That was until a friend made me strawberry freezer jam.  It is absolutely tasty and so much better than store bought jam.  I was amazed at how cheap and simple it is to make strawberry jam.  Now, during the summer when strawberries are on sale (between $.75  and $1.25) I buy a bunch and make freezer jam.  That way I have jam to last me the entire year.  

This recipe can be found inside the Sure Jell Fruit Pectin box.
Sure-Jell Premium Fruit Pectin

* 4 cups of sugar
*1 box of pectin
*2 cups crushed fresh strawberries (about 1 1/2 pounds)
* 3/4 cup water

1. You first mash up the strawberries in a food processor. I used our vita-mix, which mixed up the strawberries a little more than I would have liked.
2. Then add 4 cups of sugar (I know, it's a lot).
3. Next, make the pectin as directed on the box.
4. Once the pectin is ready, stir it into the sugar and strawberries.
5. Put it into containers and let sit for 24 hours.  I used Ball plastic freezer containers.
6. Put it in your freezer.  You can keep it in your  fridge if you are going to eat it right away.
7. Enjoy!

13 Busy Bag Activities

  I taught 2nd grade for a little over 4 years.  Once my son Rylan was born I decided to stop teaching so I could stay home with him and be his teacher :)  While teaching, I met some amazingly talented people who I also call my friends.  Two of my friends, Vanessa and Kim, put together a Busy Bag Swap.
     A Busy Bag Swap is when you form a group of 10 or so people.  Each person picks a quiet activity to make that will entertain children and that is portable.  They make enough of the same activity for each person in the group to get one.  You later meet and swap your activities with each other.  You end up making 10 or so of the same activity to share with others and get different activities in return.  It is a great way to get some great activities for your children and to keep them entertained at home, church, or in the car.
     After participating in my first busy bag swap, I decided to hold another busy bag swap with gals from church.  I figured church is one of the best places to use busy bags to keep kids quiet and busy.  Posted below are the busy bags that were created and swapped around with the gals from church.  I made one of the activities below.  All others were created by my friends.   Soon, I will post the activities that were swapped with my friends from school.

1. Magnetic Fishing

2. I Spy 

3. Letter Building

4. Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head

5. Foam Shape Match-up

6. Foam Lacing

7. Button Snake

8. Sticky Sticks

9. Matching Color Shades

10. Sandpaper Yarn Art

11. Popsicle Stick Puzzle

12. Doll Dress Up

13. Number Match

Stick Puzzle Busy Bag Activity

Project Credit: Brittany Taylor

Puzzles are great for children.  They are not only fun but are great for the brain.  Stick Puzzles are wonderful because they are simple and cheap to make.  You can make a variety of them including family, religious, and cartoon pictures.  

Materials: Large popsicle sticks or tongue depressors, glue or mod podge , pictures, craft knife

To Make: Line up all the sticks.  Apply glue or mod podge to the back of the picture and place on sticks.  Once the picture is dry you can apply another coat of mod podge on top. Once dry, use a craft knife to cut in between each stick.  Cut from the back side so you can see what you are cutting better.

To Use/Play: Mix up the sticks and try to put the puzzle together.

Skills: spatial awareness, fine motor skills, hand eye coordination

Number Match Busy Bag Activity

Project Credit: Cecily North
Clothespin games are wonderful.  They have two purposes.  They help with learning skills and are great for developing and strengthening fine motor skills. Another plus- they are very cheap.

Materials: Clothes Pin Number Wheel, cardstock, lamination, clothespins, sharpie

To Make: Print clothes pin number wheel from Confessions of a Homeschooler,  Get a piece of cardstock paper.  On one side glue 1-10 and on the other side glue 11-20.  Laminate.  Write the numbers 1-10 on 10 different clothes pins.  Flip those clothespins over and write the numbers 11-20.

To Use/Play: Place each clothespin on the part of the wheel with the matching number of dots.

Skills: Numbers, fine motor

Doll Dress Up Busy Bag Activity

Materials: Fun foam (These were bought at Michael's)

To Make:  All you have to do is buy them from Michaels.  They are all ready for you. 
You can cut out your own pieces or go to a scrapbooking store that carries doll die-cuts.  You can die-cut the different people, clothes, and hair.  Die-cut machines are great for cutting fun foam and felt.  

To Use/Play: Dress up the children

Skills: Imaginary Play, getting dressed

Sandpaper Yarn Art Busy Bag

       I love this busy bag activity because children often get tired of practicing their spelling words, writing, and numbers with a pencil and paper.  This busy bag activity provides children a hands on opportunity that is more fun and exciting.  There are endless possibilities with the sandpaper yarn busy bag.

Materials: Sandpaper, duck tape, yarn

To Make: I laminated card-stock paper and then put the sandpaper on the laminated paper.  This made the sandpaper sturdier.  To hold everything together I duck taped the edges.  Cut a variety of lengths of yarn.  I bought multicolored  yarn.  This way I could have a variety of colors and not tons of yarn laying around my house.  I then created a paper of things the children make with the yarn; including: shapes, letters, numbers, and different designs.

To Use/Play: Children stick the yarn on the sandpaper to make different letters, numbers, shapes, and designs.

Skills: numbers, letters, spelling, copying/transferring

Magnetic Fishing Busy Bag Activity

Project Credit: Eliza Struthers

Materials: felt, paper clips, magnet, wooden dowel, sharpie, yarn, glue gun and glue sticks

To Make: Cut out fish from different colored felt.  Place paper clips as mouths on each fish.  Use a glue gun to glue a magnet to yarn.  Tie the yarn around the wooden dowel and then hot glue the yarn to the dowel to make sure it stays.

To Play/Use: Children hold the fishing pole and catch the fish.

Skills: Hand/Eye Coordination

Foam Shape Match-up

Materials: Fun Foam (shapes and/or sheets), Sharpie, Scissors

To Make: You can buy fun foam shapes or cut out your own shapes from sheets of fun foam.  Then, trace foam shapes on foam mats.

To Use/Play: Place foam shapes on top of the outlined shapes

Skills: Shapes, matching

Potato Head Busy Bag Activity

Materials: Felt or foam

To Make: Cut out Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head pieces.

To Use/Play: Children put together Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head

Skills: Imaginary Play

Matching Color Shades Busy Activity

Project Credit: Elizabeth Lauber
This is a great activity for children to do who are learning their colors and working on fine motor skills.  It is practically free to make too.

Materials: Paint chips and clothes pins

To Make: Cut paint chips and glue on clothes pins. 

To Use/Play: Match clothes pins with colors onto the matching paint chip color.

Skills: Colors, fine motor

You may also want to laminate the paint chips to make them last longer.

Sticky Sticks Busy Bag Activity

Project Credit: Aubrey Wentworth
 Sticky Sticks are so much fun.  They are sticks that stick together with endless possibilities.  You can make shapes, letters, and the list goes on and on.

Materials: Craft sticks and Velcro circles

To Make:  Put Velcro circle at the end of each craft stick.

Make sure one side of the stick has a rough Velcro piece and the other side of the stick has a smooth Velcro piece.

To Use/Play: Children use the sticks to make shapes and letters.

Skills: Fine motor, shapes, letters

Button Snake Busy Bag Activity

Materials: Two buttons, felt, needle, thread

To Make: Cut out a long strip of felt or use a piece of ribbon.  Sew a large button on each end.  Cut out different shapes.  Cut slits in the middle of the shapes for the buttons to go through the shapes.

To Use/Play: Thread the buttons through each shape.

Skills: fine motor, buttoning, colors, shapes

Foam Lacing

Project Credit: Tara Eagleston

Materials: Foam shapes, hole puncher, lace

To Make: Punch holes on the boarder of each shape.

To Use/Play: Lace strings through holes

Skills: fine motor, lacing

Letter Building Busy Bag Activity

Project Credit: Becca Staker

Materials: Foam pieces, paper

To Make: This idea came from codyandchelseagroves blog.  Check out their blog for great instructions.  You will need to make copies of the template from this website. Then cut out foam pieces.

To Use/Play: Use foam pieces to create each letter. Place foam pieces on top of the letters.

Skills: Letters

I Spy Busy Bag Activity

Project Credit: Eliza Struthers

I've never met a child that doesn't love I Spy books or activities.  This is a great activity that will keep children occupied for a long time.  This idea was found at the blog All our Days.  Check out her blog for other great dry erase busy bag activities.  

Materials: Dry erase marker, eraser, I Spy mat, lamination, card stock

To Make: Copy template twice.  Laminate one copy of the I Spy mat.  With the other I Spy page, cut around each object.  Glue each object on a separate square piece of paper. Then laminate.     

To Use/Play: Pick a little picture card.  Find the object on the I Spy Mat.  Circle the object with the dry erase marker.  Repeat.  Children can play this alone or with others.

Skills: Awareness

3-2-1 Cake in a Mug

A friend of mine made me this 3-2-1 cake and gave me the recipe.  I was impressed with how delicious and simple it was to make this cake.  IT'S AMAZING.  How often are you able to bake a warm cake in 1 minute?  Yes, you read that right and no, it wasn't a typo.  1 minute. 3-2-1 cake is wonderful because when I am craving a chocolate treat I always have the ingredients for a cake on hand.  I keep the dry cake mixture in my fridge.  This is also a great treat for people that live by themselves.

Steps to make the dry cake mixture


         1 Angel Food Cake Mix
         1 Fudge Cake Mix (or any other flavor you want)


         Mix both dry cake mixes together in a plastic bag
         Keep remainder in fridge

Directions to make the cake in a mug:

Put into mug : 3 Tbsp dry cake mixture
                     2 Tbsp water
                         Mix together well
Place in microwave for 1 minute

Top with anything you would like: whipped cream, frosting, icecream or toppings

Just remember 3-2-1 (3 Tbsp cake mixture, 2 Tbsp water, 1 minute)
Sometimes when I want more cake I make it a 6-4-2 cake (6 Tbsp cake mixture, 4 Tbs. water, 2 minutes)

Dole Pineapple Whip- Disney Copycat Recipe

I love, love, love frozen treats.  I absolutely love smoothies and ice cream.  I've heard many people talk about the Dole Pineapple Whips at Disneyland.  I tried out this copycat Pineapple Whip and it didn't disappoint.   It is such a great creamy tropical treat.  A must try.  


 2 20 ounce cans Dole crushed pineapple with juice 
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream (whipped)


* Drain pineapple (save 2 tablespoons juice for later)
* Place pineapple, lemon juice, lime juice, sugar and saved pineapple juice in blender.
* Blend until smooth.
*  Pour into two 1-quart freezer bags
* Store bags flat in freezer.
* Freeze until slushy (about 2 hours)
* Whip whipping cream.
* Gently stir together the pineapple slush and the whipped cream in a large bowl.
* Place the mixture back into the freezer bags.Freeze until completely frozen (about 1 hour)