Tag Archives: big brother

Daily Checklists to Teach Children to Manage Money

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Daily Checklists to Teach Children to Manage Money

When our older two kids were younger, I struggled with the idea of simply giving children an allowance (for doing nothing) or paying them to do certain chores (I don’t struggle with that anymore). I believe our children should contribute to the care of their home because they are a part of our family, but they are also entitled to a small portion of our income because they are a part of our family.  I wasn’t sure how to manage the children’s chores and allowance until I found an interesting blog through Pinterest. 

I love searching Pinterest for anything having to do with crafts, school, health, and food.  I sometimes use Pinterest instead of Google because I know I will be more likely to find the desired information.  One such search directed me to 71 Toes and their weekly checklists for children.  The concept is fairly simple.  Each child has a checklist of tasks to complete each weekday.  If they complete all of their tasks for the week, they will receive their age in dollars on Saturday or Sunday.  If they fail to complete one or two tasks, they will receive half of their age in dollars.  They will receive no money for not completing three or more. They are allowed to memorize a scripture verse or passage (parent’s choice) to make up for one task.


The four areas of tasks are as follows. 

  • Morning work:  make bed, pick up bedroom floor, brush teeth, eat breakfast, get ready to go (if necessary)
  • Reading:  read for a minimum of 15 minutes each day
  • Practice:  practice something for at least 15 minutes each day (examples below)
  • Zone:  clean one area of the house (see below)

Practice can be as simple as writing a letter to a friend or loved one, playing a game (Scrabble, Quirkle, Monopoly, Dominoes, Yahtzee, Uno, etc.), playing an educational game on a computer or iPad, practicing flash cards, or practicing spelling words.  Big Brother plays baseball and practices hitting with a pitching machine.  Big Sister used to practice her cartwheels at home for gymnastics.  The little girls practiced painting (fine motor skills) with Grandmother yesterday.  My kids usually check with me first to make sure something will count for their practice before they start.  As long as I can see some developmental or educational value in their activity, I usually approve–unless they want to do something extremely messy or that will require me to be involved for an extended period of time. 

We have only recently developed the zone into something that works well for our family.  At first, I only had the two older children completing checklists, so we only had two zones, which were usually 1) pick up the living room and 2) pick up the game room.  Those were the days when the twins were babies/toddlers and the floors were their playground.  When the twins were a little over three, we tried the checklists, but they were a little young to understand the concept.  They would complete a zone together, usually with my help.  I came up with five different chores that need to be completed more than once a week and put them on a wheel that I rotate on weekdays to give each child a new zone.  Today, the twins decided they each want a separate zone to complete on their own, so I have to create a new wheel.  


I started out with each child (the older two at the time) having a checklist on a half-sheet of paper like the mom at 71 Toes, but I didn’t want to tape or tack the sheets to our brand new (at the time) walls.  I created a family command center around this time and used a magnetic clip to display their sheets on one sheet of paper.  Once the twins wanted a checklist, I found a way to fit all four on one sheet.  They are small, but it’s easy to see who has empty boxes at a glance. 


 The purpose of the checklists is to teach children how to manage their money.  Big Brother can earn up to $10 a week.  He must save 10% and give 10% to our church, so he has a check register where we record his savings each week, and we keep that cash for him.  Big Sister can earn up to $8 each week.  She loves Starbursts and bubble gum, but she must buy those things with her own money, so she has to budget, save, and figure out tax on her purchase.  The little girls quickly learn that $3 doesn’t buy much, so they are learning the value of a dollar.  The family from 71 Toes requires their children to pay for half of all their clothing (except underwear, socks, and Sunday dress clothes) once they reach the age of twelve.  We haven’t reached that point yet, so I’ll update when we figure out if that will work for our family.  

I’m sure I have forgotten something to explain about this system, but you can ask me questions in a comment or go to 71 Toes to read her explanation and see what they do differently.  This is a wonderful system that works well as long as you (the parent) remember to have cash (plenty of ones) every weekend. Otherwise, your kids feel like they aren’t being rewarded for their checklists and quit completing their tasks.  (I know this from personal experience.) 

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Summer Berries

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Summer Berries

Is it just me or do berries from your own garden taste better than any others?  We planted a thornless blackberry bush three years ago, and we got several berries from it last summer, but we are getting at least two cups a day now!  

There are only three of us who like blackberries (Big Brother, Little Sister, and me), but we have been able to eat most of them the day we pick them. However, we did not eat all the blackberries Saturday because we ate dinner out after church, so we had twice as many as usual by Sunday evening. I decided to make a small blackberry cobbler with them. I forgot to take photos, but I’m sure I’ll be able to make another one soon!

Our blackberry bush has grown so much that it was covering the end of one of our raised garden beds, and I couldn’t pull weeds under it or get to all the berries. My husband and I constructed two side fences to drape the vines over, so the vines stay off the ground, the berries are easier to find, and I can weed under the vines. It is working pretty well. 


 The only problem is that the fence is so tall that I can hardly reach some of the ripe berries in the back, but I couldn’t reach them before either.  It would probably help if we hadn’t put the blackberry bush between the garden and the wood rack or three feet from the pasture fence, but we are making it work.  Now if I could just stay on top of those weeds!

A Beautiful Country Morning

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The little girls saw their grandmother go into the pasture Sunday afternoon and thought they would get to ride her pony, Freedom, but she was working in the yard, so we made plans for them to ride at 8:00 this morning.   

They enjoyed riding so much!  Grandmother led the horse with each of them in the round pen.  Then she gave each of them the option to hold the reins themselves.  

 They thought they were such big girls.  They had a hard time kicking Freedom on his sides to make him go, but Grandmother stayed right in front of him, and he kept walking for the most part.  

 They each rode twice for several minutes each time.   

 Freedom is a large pony, but he’s gentle with the kids.  

 Big Brother and Little Sister enjoyed hanging out on the fence while waiting for their turns.  

 Big Sister wanted a turn on Freedom as well, but she didn’t want to hold the reins herself.  She’s more cautious than her siblings. 

 Big Brother also rode this morning, but he thinks he’s too big to stay in the round pen, so he took Freedom out into the pasture.  He did a good job on Freedom walking around the pasture.  

  We love living just down the driveway from my husband’s parents.  It makes these early morning rides very convenient.  My in-laws also have a mini that was a rescue pony, but he is so skittish that I was surprised to see him staying so close to where we were.    

 After the girls were finished riding, they went in the barn to look for eggs.  They only found one this early in the day.  

 It’s a beautiful morning.  I hope you will find an opportunity to get out and enjoy the sunshine today!

Scrambled Eggs, Organized Thoughts

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I had planned to scramble some eggs this morning for my seven year old daughter because she has been complaining of headaches mid-morning at school.  I believe she is hungry or at least having withdrawal headaches because she is accustomed to eating snacks, but second graders are not allowed a snack time at school.  However, Big Sister decided she didn’t want eggs this morning and chose another source of protein to go along with her cereal and fruit, but the little girls still wanted eggs.  I asked Big Brother if he wanted any, and he said no.  We only had seven eggs, so I scrambled them all, planning on eating some myself.  

As I was serving the little girls, Big Brother decided he wanted some eggs after all, and I felt it would be selfish of me not to share, so I gave him most of what was left.  Once the little ones had been fed and cleaned up and the big kids were off to school, I ate what little eggs were left in the now room temperature pan as I looked upon my son’s plate of mostly uneaten scrambled eggs.  I wondered why I had sacrificed for him and why mothers in general sacrifice so much of their wants and needs for their children’s desires.  Our children don’t seem to appreciate or even realize how much we sacrifice for them.  

This made me think of how much God has sacrificed for us–His one and only Son–and how, just like children, we often fail to appreciate or realize the cost of His sacrifice.  I can’t imagine giving my son’s life to save someone else’s life, but God did just that and provided a way for everyone to be saved if they will only accept His gift and acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord.   

Wasted scrambled eggs pale in comparison with His sacrifice.  

Country Life II

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This summer, I posted photos of young armadillos by our mailboxes and shared how Big Brother acted scared of them. Today, I was feeding the twins some lunch when my in-laws’ dogs started barking loudly, insistently, and very near the front of our house. I was concerned about an intruder because our front door was unlocked, so I went to check through the window and saw that the dogs had cornered something on our front porch. Worried it was a skunk, I peeked out the door, taking a small sniff before looking, and saw an armadillo.

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IMG_6883-0.JPG I had to go back to the kitchen to grab my phone to take photos, and the armadillo had moved to the corner by our front door, so I had to wait a minute to open the door. I didn’t want that wild animal in my house! The dogs chased it through our flower beds and across the yard. It tried to hide behind our rose bush in the corner of our flower bed, but the dogs wouldn’t leave it alone. I called my mother-in-law to get the dogs away from it, so it could go home. She was teaching my son and his best friend at the time, so they came with her.

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Over the last few months, Big Brother must have overcome his fear of armadillos because he wanted to touch this armadillo. I was holding both of the little girls, so I missed the photo/video, but it was hilarious. He knelt down to touch it while it was under the wagon and facing our front door. I think Big Brother was squatting when he touched the armadillo, and it jumped and kicked its back feet at him. Big Brother jumped/fell back almost to where I was standing on the sidewalk and took off running all the way down to his grandparents’ house. My mother-in-law and I laughed so hard! He was startled when the armadillo jumped, but he was just being silly by running. We laughed about it again when hubby got home from work. Country life can be extremely entertaining.

Last Friday evening, Big Brother saw a snake on our brick sidewalk. The snake had part of its tail in between a couple of bricks, so we weren’t sure how long it was at first. My son just sat and watched it for awhile. I even took the twins out to see it. It was just a garter snake, but I stayed well away from it. I gave Big Brother my cell phone to take photos, but most of them are blurry. These two are the clearest.

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It was a small snake, and hubby chased it over to the pasture, but I think it came back today. One of the dogs found a snake in our flower bed this evening and chased it around the yard, barking at it. I was busy cooking dinner and didn’t have time to watch the show or take photos this time, but I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of the snake(s).

We are enjoying living in the country and all that it entails (well, maybe not the skunks). In the second photo (above), you can see several aspects of our country life: firewood stacked for winter, a brush pile to be burned, the barn, the horses, tons of trees, and pastureland. Of course, most of that belongs to my in-laws, but we have our own firewood, brush pile, trees, and land, and we can enjoy the view of theirs. All of our kids love being outside, and I am happy that they can find plenty to do out here.

Baseball and Birthdays and Dance! Oh My!

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This summer seemed to fly by more quickly than ever before. It seemed like we were always busy, but I don’t remember what we were doing. I didn’t post often, so I’m really behind on sharing these photos.

Big Brother played baseball again in the spring and enjoyed playing catcher. He has had this baseball helmet for two years but refuses to take the MLB sticker off the brim. Goofy boy. He improved a lot this year, hitting, fielding, and throwing better. He is now swimming on a team at the Y instead of playing football (fall) and basketball (winter), but he wants to play baseball again in the spring.

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Big Sister took ballet and tap (Combo I) last school year and just started Combo II for this school year. She performed in a recital in June and looked so cute and sassy in her costume.

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In July, Big Sister lost her first tooth, began wearing a shorter hair style, and turned six years old. Whew! That was a busy month for sure!

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The twins turned 18 months old in August and would not cooperate for pictures. We were unable to get any of them together for the first time since they were born. Stubborn little girls! I think they were a little shy. They wanted me to stay right with them the whole time. The next pictures we have taken will be of our whole family, so their daddy and I can each hold one. Maybe they will cooperate if they are in our arms. I can hope anyway.

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My husband became the new chief of his fire department on August 1st. I think this is the best picture he has ever had taken. We are so proud of him!

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Our New Wheels

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If you know me very well, you’ll know I’m a runner, or at least I try to be. I began running regularly in the spring of 2010 and for the next two years, I ran everything from a 1 mile fun run to a full marathon. Then I found out I was pregnant with twins, and my doctor told me not to run during my pregnancy. Once they were born, there was no time for running! After we were settled in our new house last summer, I started looking for a good jogging stroller. A serious runner friend recommended the Chariot Cougar, so I looked for one on Craig’s List because those are out of our price range. I saw a few, but I was always the second or third person to contact the seller. I started researching similar bicycle trailers/jogging strollers and finally found the Allen Sports Premier 2-Child Aluminum Bike Trailer/Racing Stroller on Amazon.

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We’ve had it for almost a month, and we’ve been on several runs (less than 20 miles total) so far, and I’ve been happy with it. The tires are large and similar to bicycle tires, so it is easy to push, and I am able to use one hand to push until I get to a curve. The front wheel is fixed because this is a true jogging stroller, but it is so lightweight that it’s simple to push down on the handlebar and lift the front wheel to turn.

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We took it for a test drive down the driveway to my in-laws’ house, and the twins enjoyed riding in it. The stroller has two shoulder straps that hook onto a strap that comes up between the legs. There is another set of straps that fasten around the waist of each child. There are cushioned sleeves around the straps at their neck level and on the strap between the legs. Of course, one of my twins removed the lower strap cushions before we ever took the stroller out of the house, but I will be sure to put the cushions back on when the twins are no longer in diapers.

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There are three straps at the bottom, which allow you to carry one child alone in the center or two children side by side. My twins are tall for being 19 months old, and they have plenty of leg room and head room. The width is a little more snug, but they haven’t complained, and I bought the narrower stroller because it fits through doors. I plan to take this stroller to the arboretum, zoo, and anywhere else we will do a lot of walking.

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Big Brother and Big Sister go to school three days a week and complete assignments at home on Tuesday and Thursday. We have been going for “walks” on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings right after the twins wake up, so they usually ride in their pajamas while eating breakfast. Most of the time, when I put shoes on the twins, they take them off unless they are running around outside. I have tried putting shoes on them before jogging, so they would be able to get out and play as soon as we returned home, but one day we lost a shoe, and Big Brother rode back down the street to find it, so now we just let the twins ride barefooted. All I can see when I’m running are their little feet, but they sure are cute.

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Here is a photo of all of my children on one of our “walks”. Obviously, I’m the only one who does any walking, but they continue to ask if we are going on a walk.

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After two years of inactivity, I am slowly starting to run again. I tried to run too much the first week and ended up with a pulled muscle. That has mostly healed, but now my heel hurts when I run, so I’ve only run a mile on each of our walks this week. I guess that’s better than what I was doing before we got the double jogger. Oh, I should mention that this stroller also attaches to a bicycle as a trailer, but I don’t own a bicycle, so I haven’t tried it out as a trailer. Big Brother wants to pull the twins with his bike, but I don’t trust him to be careful enough with my precious cargo.

Water, Water Everywhere

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Water, Water Everywhere

The weather the past couple of weeks has been very hot and dry, so we have been playing frequently in water to keep cool. Last Monday, we went to a children’s garden with some friends, and all of the kids had a great time playing in the water. Naturally, Little Sister was more cautious, but she jumped right in after her more adventurous twin. You can see Big Sister in the background, but Big Brother was running and jumping with his friends–too busy for photos but great for entertaining the girls! The little boy was no one we knew, but he made the water spray all over the girls, and Sissy tried and tried to do the same but wasn’t quite tall enough.
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The big kids have had swimming lessons last week and this week and have made a lot of progress. I got my hair cut on Thursday right before their lesson and snapped a photo while they were swimming to send to my husband, mom, and sister. It’s so much more stylish than the ponytail I’ve been sporting every day since the weather heated up.

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On Friday, we went swimming with some friends at their neighborhood pool. Sissy and Little Sister had their floaties on and were walking around in the water on the wide, top step while I was putting Big Sister’s hair in a ponytail, and the next thing I knew, Sissy just stepped right off into the pool and starting splashing around in the water. The nice thing about the Puddle Jumper life jacket is that it positions them correctly for swimming, and Sissy started kicking her legs and using her arms to swim. I was amazed. Again, Little Sister was more cautious and sat on the top step for awhile, but she did get in the pool now and then. I also snapped a photo of Big Sister and her friend, but once again, Big Brother was too busy with his friends.

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As if I didn’t have enough to do already, I started another garden on one side of our backyard for vining plants like cantaloupe, watermelon, pumpkins, and fall/winter squash. I planted all the seeds about four weeks ago, and God sent rain four days in a row that week! Our sprinkler system doesn’t extend that far, so I’ve been hand watering it every other day, and the babies often come with me. Saturday morning, I went ahead and put their swimsuits on because they usually get soaked. I saved and rinsed some milk jugs for them to help me water, but they usually just pour it out on the grass or on their own feet. They lost interest in helping me and walked over to our vegetable garden. Sissy brought me a tomato she had picked. At least this one was ripe! I bought some 18″ wooden stakes at Home Depot and used a Sharpie to label them and create simple row markers.

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We went over to the vegetable garden next so I could pull some weeds in the beds. I filled the water table for the girls to play in while I worked. The garden is shaded by the house in the morning, so it’s a great place for them to play. Sissy started helping me pull weeds and wanted to throw them over the fence into the pasture like I was doing, so she climbed to the top and then fussed because she couldn’t get down. After the third time, I realized what she was doing and told her to put the weeds through the fence like she was doing the week before.

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We have picked a few zucchini squash and over a dozen tomatoes already. The grasshoppers are eating our corn, but I think we will have plenty.

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There is finally rain on our forecast this week, so maybe we will really have water everywhere. We sure need it. Hope you are staying cool this summer!

Our 5th annual Easter party

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20140610-173753-63473019.jpgBeginning when Big Brother was in pre-k and Big Sister was just a toddler and a little sister (above), we have hosted an Easter egg hunt and party every year, rain or shine. I tried to get out of it last year since we were in a rent house and had six-week-old twins, but the kids insisted we continue our tradition, so I modified the party and had two smaller parties during each of the babies’ naps. For at least two of the parties, it has been too wet to have the egg hunt outside, so we have hunted inside the house (below). It was a little chaotic but still fun.

20140610-173754-63474309.jpgThis year, I wanted to control the chaos as much as possible, so I decided to offer several stations for the kids to have constructive and fun activities to do while we waited for everyone to arrive and while we hid the eggs. I created a checklist so they could mark which stations they had completed. I asked parents to help with some of the activities, but most of them were self-directed.

20140506-110219.jpgBig Sister and some friends from school are playing an Easter-themed Bingo game, using a 20-sided die to roll for numbers. (There are actually 24 numbers on each board, but I forgot to print and cut out numbers to draw, so we improvised with the die, and they got plenty of Bingos.). I placed a small Easter bowl full of wrapped Smarties on the table with the die and Bingo cards. Each child could open a package of Smarties, use the candy pieces to cover their numbers, and then eat their candy.

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I saw an idea on Pinterest for plastic monster eggs and found some solid white, one-piece, plastic eggs at Walmart this year. I just provided pipe cleaners (pre-cut into various lengths), googly eyes, pom poms, Sharpies, feathers, etc. for the kids to use to design their own monster egg. I asked a couple of moms to help with the hot glue guns.

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The kids enjoyed creating their monster eggs, and we had plenty of supplies leftover for my kids and their cousins to create more monsters a couple days later when we got together on Easter.

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Big Brother and some of his friends are playing an egg hunt board game that I found on Pinterest. It was cute and good for the older kids. My mother-in-law was so sweet to cut out the pieces and put it together.

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The simplest station was an Easter activity sheet that the kids could color, complete a crossword, etc. I just provided the sheets and a container of pencils and crayons.

I was too busy to get photos of every station. The others were an Easter bunny mask and estimation jars (baby food jars filled with either cheddar bunnies, gummy worms, jelly beans, or bunny grahams). Before the party, the kids helped me decorate balloons like Easter eggs, which we hung over the kitchen table (see the second monster egg photo above). I also made Peeps on a stick and egg-shaped Rice Krispy treats.

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I just washed three plastic eggs and then buttered the inside of each piece. I stuffed rice krispy treats in each half and snapped shut for several seconds and then placed them on a plate until set. The kids loved these and ate every one.

All of these activities and treats were fun, but the main reason we have this party is to share the real reason we celebrate Easter–Jesus’ death and resurrection. We hid dozens of eggs, but one dozen contained specific items to tell the Easter story. This year we used the “resurrection eggs” my son made in pre-k. I told the kids before they started hunting that there were lots of prizes in the eggs, and there were plenty of numbers inside eggs to choose prizes from a table as well, but there were twelve eggs with numbers on the outside of the eggs that were for something special. We gathered on our front porch as the kids finished up, and we went through the whole Easter story together. It was so fun to listen to the younger children share what the items represented. Their eagerness and joy were refreshing.

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My wonderful mother-in-law, holding Little Sister, helped me so much in preparing for this party while my husband was out of town. I couldn’t have done it all without her.

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My terrific mom, holding Sissy, brought extra treats to fill eggs I had leftover, brought more jumbo eggs to put some of my treats in, and also provided some of the white eggs for the monster eggs. She and my stepfather drove over two hours to come help with the party and watch the twins’ first egg hunt.

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Orange you glad it’s summertime?

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I have pinned dozens of gift ideas for teachers, but my time management skills were lacking this year, and we ended up getting gift cards at the last minute or sending belated gifts and notes to my children’s teachers. I was determined to give them something creative and fun for the end of the school year. My children’s last day of school is tomorrow, so we just modified this gift idea to make it our own. My kids love knock-knock jokes and have worn out the “Orange you glad…” jokes, but I couldn’t resist creating these orange gifts.

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Each child has a teacher and an aide in their classroom, so I wanted to keep the total cost of each gift under $10. I found orange boxes of popcorn on sale for $2 each. I had already purchased a large bag of mandarin oranges for the kids, so I added two to each gift to go along with the theme. Tropical flavored Trident gum ($1.29) rounds out the front view.

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I bought a six-pack of Minute Maid orange juice for $4. The boxes of Reese’s Pieces were on sale for $1 each. The green bags contain orange slice candy ($1 each), and you can’t see them in the pictures, but I saw some cute, orange bag clips (4 for $1) and put one on each bag of orange slices.

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A package of Goldfish ($1.67) finishes off the contents of the gifts. I already had orange ribbon left from another project, but I had to purchase the plastic wrapping paper ($4). I probably could have found some of these items cheaper elsewhere, but I had just left the twins’ well-visit, and Kroger was the closest store, and I just wanted to get it done.

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I have plenty of orange letter stickers in my scrapbooking supplies, so I let the kids put those on the tags. Big Sister wrote the rest of the wording on her tags. Hers say, “Orange you glad it’s the last day of school?” Big Brother wanted me to write his, and he wanted his own saying. The kids are supposed to say the whole knock-knock joke before giving these to their teachers. We’ll see how that goes. I’m looking forward to finally giving their teachers something cute, fun, creative, and planned, and I stayed within my budget!