Category Archives: DIY

Kid Friendly Digital Activities Part 3

Kid Friendly Digital Activities Part 3


Next up — listening to a good book.  Mostly excerpted from Mighty Mommy, with my own two cents thrown in for good measure.



In Getting Kids to Read Over the Summerthe NEA states that children, especially those from low-income families, can lose up to three months of reading progress over the summer months.   “There are tons of books that students will fall in love with that can be used as hooks to the academically required books.”  — Mighty Mommy

Introduce your child to the Wide Wonderful World of audio books.  Your grandkids (and you) can listen here, you can listen there, you can listen anywhere!  Listen in the car, listen while doing chores (Gramma can have the kids do chores, too.  It’s good for them — but that is for another post).

Mighty Mommy suggests a resource called Reading Rockets, “a national multimedia literacy initiative offering information and resources on how young kids learn to read (Butler, 2017).”

In their article Listen and Learn with Audiobooks parents can glean some great advice on how to help kids take advantage of the wonderful world of audio books this summer and throughout the school year.  For a wide-variety of interesting audio books for the entire family visit Macmillan Audio (Butler, 2017).


How to choose the right story?

You want to start with familiar stories, ones you’ve already read aloud to them.  This way you change just one variable, the reading voice.

The format you choose should be easy for you both to use.  Most Grandmothers are familiar with the most obvious choice, Books on CD.  Some public libraries “carry Playaways, which are books pre-loaded onto MP3 player available for checkout. (Walker R., 2017).”  Doesn’t that sound cool?  Sort of like fast food for the ears.  My library system provides audio books through the service called OverDrive from which one can “borrow” the audio book by downloading it for a specific time, usually 14 days.  I personally don’t jump with joy over this format because it meant that I had to sign in to my library, then download and join in to OverDrive, and I have to listen to it through that app only.  But, I do have access to free popular books, as long as they are actually available.

The titles you choose should be ones recognized as High Quality.  Talk with your librarian for suggestions, or check out suggestions from Notable Children’s Recordings from the American Library Association or Reading Rockets’ Favorite Audio Books.  You should probably get input from your kids so they are more likely to actually listen rather than poking the toy dinosaur into his brothers’ ear.

Other online ways to obtain audio books include Audible and Tales2Go where you can subscribe to a very extensive catalog of audio content.  Both sites are paid subscription sites.  I can vouch for Audible, find they are good, but personally I cannot afford it.  Tales2Go subscriptions are primarily for Brick-n-Mortar schools as well as Homeschools with varying plans.  BUT, there is also a subscription for individuals, from 99$ for an annual subscription, 40$ for three months (enough to take you through the summer), and a monthly subscription which you get from the Play Store.

My personal favorite is Lit2Go, from Florida Center for Instructional Technology.  This is a free site (what’s not to love about free?) which includes downloadable MP3, of course — we ARE talking specifically about audio books.  But the site includes downloadable PDF form so you can print if you need to, or read from the screen.  Many stories also provide teacher notes and learning objectives, which make these stories that much more valuable.  However, my suggestion is to not go too deep into the teaching part.  The kids will learn much just by listening to good stories.  The vintage images from these classic public-domain books are priceless.

What to do (Walker R., 2017)

  • Listen to audio books together.

  • Offer some background information or a preview of the story to help your child focus his listening and more easily follow what’s happening in the story.

  • Feel free to stop listening. If an audio book isn’t engaging, try another!

  • Keep your young listeners in mind. While kids can listen on a higher level than they can read, some stories may be too complex for young listeners to follow and enjoy.

  • Don’t let audio books take the place of you reading aloud to your child or telling them stories. 


Here’s another free site.  Librivox  has loads of public domain books read by volunteers around the world.  My experience is largely great, although I have found some readers I just cannot listen to.  Often, you can find the same book read by a volunteer whose style is more compatible.  If not, then try the next suggestion ….

How about this idea?  Record yourself reading to the kids.  You need a quiet place to read out loud, a microphone you can find from Walmart or Amazon, and an app that will record your voice in MP3 format.  You will want to give life to the characters, using different voices.  Don’t be afraid to be crazy!  The kids eat it up, ask me how I know!  The crazier, the better.  And, don’t be afraid you will look stupid.  Your kids won’t know what hit them, just be you!  They love you no matter.




Tags: , , , , , ,

Kid-Friendly Digital Activities part 1

Kid-Friendly Digital Activities part 1
Reposted from the Mighty Mommy’s article — From Audiobooks to Art Lessons—5 Fun, Digital Activities for Kids


Most of the time, we want our kids to get physical, play outside, get dirty.  However, there ARE those times when it is appropriate for a little screen time.  These next few posts include links to educational activities.


Summer camps are plentiful all across the country. Whether it be Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, a swim camp, horseback riding camp, or a cooking or art camp there are hundreds of overnight or day camps for boys and girls to choose from.  Increasing in popularity is also another way to experience camp and that’s by attending one from your very own home—an online camp.

One innovative and creative pick is Maker Camp.  As described on their website, Maker Camp provides a simple, fun way for kids to get involved in making hundreds of projects. “Our worldwide network of affiliates host Maker Camps in public libraries, community groups, makerspaces, and maker homes. Cool projects are always available here online! More than 1 million kids have participated in Maker Camp since it launched in 2012.”

Some of the projects your child could learn to build are robotics, cell phones, tree houses, and 3-D print works.  Your kids can even invite their friends to join in on a project making this experience fun and interactive. — (Butler, 2017)

This one looks really cool with lots of opportunities.  I had heard of Maker Spaces for adults, who meet up in a garage and learn how to make a wooden table, or build a robot.  There would be tools to borrow much like one would borrow a book from the library.  Many times, someone would be available to give advice to improve the craft.  I SOOOO want to try this!


Butler, C. (2017, June 18). From Audiobooks to Art Lessons—5 Fun, Digital Activities for Kids. Retrieved March 26, 2018, from Mighty Mommy’s Quick and Dirty Tips:

Maker Media. (2004-2018). Maker Camp. Retrieved from Maker Media:

Vintage Mother with Baby Image from Graphics Fairy



Gramma Nettie’s Toothpaste 1

Why do I make toothpaste?


1880s Dental Ad GraphicsFairy

Graphics Fairy

I started brushing my teeth with oily dirt.

Well, bentonite clay, to be exact.  Which comes from the ground.  Dirt.

I had been using my daughter’s homemade concoction, which seemed to stop the minor toothache.  She was trying to make a home business work out, and I started buying some of those things she made that I could use for my family (which now consists of u

1880s Molar GraphicsFairy
Graphics Fairy

s two old codgers).  The first couple of little jars came in 1/2 pint mason jars and were a little expensive, but I will do things like that to help out family as much as possible.  About every third month we would order two more jars, one for each of us.  I can’t stand sharing germs and you have to dip your brush into the paste, so simple solution is to provide individual personal jars.  We go through the exact same amount, so why not?

It had a gritty feel to it, not at all like commercial toothpaste, and it didn’t foam in the mouth.  It also was flavoured with orange essential oil, which didn’t taste right.  But, I reasoned to myself, my toothbrushing palate had been trained by years (and years and years and years if I’m to be honest) of commercial, white, heavy minty chemical-laden versions.  I really liked that her ingredients lable was only two lines long.  She said she could see that my teeth looked whiter after a few weeks of using the stuff.  Life was going great.  Mostly, though, I kept buying it because my minor toothache went away.

But then my dealer stopped supplying my habit.  My stash dried up.  Well, was used up, actually.  In point of fact, I had started using that commercial stuff again.  It felt like old home, even comforting in a way.  Oh, I worried about the chemical factory ingredients, but at least I was doing something, right?  wrong.  My minor toothache came back after about three months of withdrawal.  I had to learn how to make my own product, to start my own laboratory, to become my own cooker, dealer, supplier.  I was hooked, and I had to get my fix.  But, I am also (sometimes) cheap and I couldn’t see myself paying those outrageous prices to anybody other than my family.  So I did some research, found lots of recipes out there in WebLand.

1880s toothbrushes-graphicsfairy002sm

Graphics Fairy


Now, I have to say that you do not NEED toothpaste of any kind for dental health.  Brushing your teeth with a soft brush and water on a regular basis, and flossing regularly and as needed gets the job done quite nicely.



And your saliva “helps buffer the pH…” — The Things We’ll Make (Ariza, 2013-2017).  But, homemade toothpaste has some remineralizing benefits that you may want.  This is the primary reason I started myself.

 In fact, if you’re using toothpaste mainly as a mean of removing plaque, you may be surprised to find that a review study done last year found that using a toothpaste when brushing didn’t provide any extra plaque removing abilities (Valkenburg C, 2016).    — The Things We’ll Make (Ariza, 2013-2017).

I will include here a description of the proper method of brushing and flossing, with or without paste.

While it is normally suggested that you brush your teeth multiple times a day, I think the most important thing is to have at least one thorough brushing session each day, preferably right before you go to bed. … I have a hard time going to sleep without getting in that all important thorough brushing session at night.

When doing a thorough brushing session, you want to make sure that you brush each tooth surface completely. You want to brush with small, circular motions following the contour of your gums, or guide an electric toothbrush to gently massage your teeth and gums at the gum line.

1914 boy brushing teeth graphicsfairy007c

Graphics Fairy


Use a toothbrush with soft bristles. You should be brushing for at least 2 minutes, which is normally the programmed time for an “alarm” of sorts on electric toothbrushes.

After that thorough brushing session, it’s the ideal moment to floss between all teeth, and behind the last teeth in your mouth. You want to gently bring the floss down along the side of each tooth, gently pushing down past the gum line, and pulling up any trapped food debris and leftover plaque accumulation on your way back up.  — The Things We’ll Make (Ariza, 2013-2017).

DISCLAIMER: This post is meant to be informative only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any medical condition. While I use this homemade toothpaste recipe myself, I also recognize that there are many dentists who will only approve of fluoridated toothpastes with the ADA seal. (The ADA will only place their seal on toothpastes with fluoride in them.) Keep that in mind when choosing what toothpaste to use. — adapted from The Things We’ll Make (Ariza, 2013-2017).


Contains affiliate links.  When you purchase using these links, I may get a small recompense.

My recipe is adapted from Weed em and reap blog (Wolford, 2018).  Her toothpaste uses filtered water, but I used my unaltered well water.  She also added baking soda which I left out for reasons listed above.  I didn’t have trace minerals so I left that out.  And I changed up the sweetener.  Other than that, it is exactly the same!


New sample book of cut and gummed druggists' labels.

Graphics Fairy


  1. Heat water to hot.
  2. Put all other ingredients in the food processor, add the hot water and pulse until smooth (no more bumps).
  3. Store in a glass mason jar or a silicone squeeze tube for up to 3 months.


My experience with this is that the taste is okay.  The texture is smooth with no lumpy chunks, slightly gritty, and pasty like commercial stuff, but it is grey.

Cacao_Droste_Adv_Card_550.jpg  And gritty.  As long as I don’t chomp down my teeth together for about five minutes or so, I can live with it.
I think I will add about another 5-10 drops of OnGuard and another 5 d

rops Peppermint in my next batch.  It isn’t as oily as I originally thought.  I’d heard of oil pulling and couldn’t actually do it.  I don’t like overly greasy stuff in my mouth.  But this is not oily feeling.  I’ve been watching for that.

The first impression is grit and OnGuard.  It is not hard even in the dead of winter, because of the water and the clay worked up in the food processor into an emulsion, the same way the hand lotion is.  After about 30 seconds of gently brushing and another surprising feel developed.  It is a squeaky feel, somewhat astringent.  I like it as it feels clean.  I only use a pea-sized glob, and I spit excess down the drain.  I run hot water as I spit, and I don’t see it getting oily in the water, either.

With the next post, I will provide some rationale for each ingredient in toothpastes, the Good, the Bad, the Ugly.



UPDATE 26 July 2018 — I just made up another batch.  This was in the summer, when the coconut oil at room temperature is liquid.  I still used hot water, and instead of a food processor, I used my metal bowl and beaters.  Yes, I am aware of that argument about Bentonite Clay is to never touch metal, but I work with what I have, ok?  I doubled the batch, and whipped it into a frenzy, almost looking like whipped cream when it cooled down.  Then I divided it into two pint wide-mouth mason jars.  That should take me to the next year, actually.


Ariza, T. (2013-2017). Natural Homemade Toothpaste Recipes & Tips from a Dentist. Retrieved from Oh, the Things We’ll Make:

Watson, K. (2010). Thursday is Request Day — Apple, Fountain, Teeth, Bulldog. Retrieved from Graphics Fairy:

Wolford, D. (2018). Homemade Remineralizing & Whitening Toothpaste Recipe. Retrieved from Weed ’em & Reap: Urban Farming, Healthy Living:


Posted by on 22 February 2018 in DIY, Grandmothers, healthy