DIY Homemade Play Dough



Play Dough Recipe

3 Cups Flour

1 1/2 Cups Salt

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1 Tablespoons cream of tartar

3 Cups water with food coloring


Mix all the ingredients together well.

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture forms a ball and changes consistency.

Cool and play!

thank you Lisa Foster

Two types of family trees to choose from to fill-in

EASY Way to Fill In YOUR Family Tree!

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Two types of family trees to choose from to fill-in

FREE Fill-in Family Tree for anyone of all ages and stages of life

FREE Fill-In Family History Tree Templates to Download

We all need roots to feel we have a foundation to grow from.  A base, such as a solid stem or trunk, to gain strength as we face challenges in life.  Branches to reach for lofty heights and extend to do good.  Our family tree helps us individually see the many talents, abilities and life-lessons we can gain as we learn about our family.

That’s why in our Learn-Practice-Become we are filling our a Family Tree for our self.  Then with our children and grandchildren if we have them. 



Do you know many of the details about your family?

What they look like, maybe when they were younger?

Do you resemble them physically?

Do you know where they were born?


WHY is this even important? 

Because as we learn about our family, we practice one of the most important responsibilities we have. That of connecting our past to the present and the future.  It helps us become our very best as we understand more about our relationships, our culture and more about the people we are related to. 


HOW can we accomplish this, or even begin?

It’s very simple!

I have created two FREE Fill In Family History Tree templates for you to choose from so you can easily ‘see’ your family!

If you choose the template with pictures, you begin by putting in your picture, name and birth date.

Then your mom’s picture and her name and birth date.

Next your dad’s picture and his birth date.

On to your mom’s mother’s picture – which would be your grandmother’s picture and her information, and so on.

See how straightforward!

One Family Tree template includes pictures as a download, one is to be pasted in or drawn in, and both are Editable/Fill-In. 


What is the purpose of a Family Tree?

It helps us learn about those who are related to us in a visual way; putting people together like a puzzle with faces, dates and understanding how we are related.

Such as these questions: 

  • Do you know your grandparents? 
  • Do you have pictures of them?
  • What information do you have for your parents?
  • Do you know when they were born or how did they meet?
  • What are your great-grandparents like? 
  • Where they are from?

These are all important bits of information that add up and can help you become a better person and understand more about yourself.


How does filling out a Family Tree help your family? 

As your children understand their relationships with the present, they feel a foundation in their life.  They connect with the past, which most often brings a stronger identity, resulting in more self confidence and resilience in their present attitude and outlook.



 Two Easy FREE Fill-In Family Tree with or without Pictures Template

Now to choose from two different Free Family Trees that I have created for you.  Each begins with the child, to the parents and then the grandparents on both sides so it isn’t overwhelming, but gets the information started and the curiosity going.

Though it shows a child in the example, it is intended for any age, and every stage of life.


A little more before getting started of  WHY family history is so important for your kids, teens and you.

I really like these quotes to help us understand why learning about our family is worthwhile and significant:

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” —Marcus Garvey

  • Eighty families (were interviewed), including both parents and children, to see how much they knew about their own family’s history. Among the questions: Do you know where some of your grandparents grew up? Do you know the source of your name? Do you know some of the illnesses and injuries that your parents experienced when they were younger? The result? The more children knew about the previous generations of their family, the higher their self-esteem and basically, the happier they were.  (Source:


  • In the preteen years, children whose families collaboratively discuss everyday events and family history more often have higher self-esteem and stronger self-concepts. And adolescents with a stronger knowledge of family history have more robust identities, better coping skills, and lower rates of depression and anxiety. Family storytelling can help a child grow into a teen who feels connected to the important people in their life.  (Source:


  • Many people desire to know where they come from, but a sense of belonging is especially important for children and youth. A knowledge about their family history gives children of all ages a sense of their place in the world. It can also give young people something to live up to—a legacy to respect. Family history also provides an opportunity for children and teenagers to make a meaningful contribution to something bigger than themselves. This lesson provides ideas about how to involve children and youth in family history activities. Children and youth who develop an interest in family history are more likely to participate in family history throughout their lives.  You will find a great wealth of information on this site (Source: ttps://


BECOME better by actually DOING this!:)


1- THIS FREE TEMPLATE is editable and fill-in.  Simply help your child, or do it yourself, to type in the names and dates as you find them using the editable or fill-in feature.  Print it out and glue or draw in the face of the person who’s name is below the circle.  

This can also be printed and written on the lines, without using the editable or fill-in feature. 

Two types of family trees to choose from to fill-in

FREE Fill-in Family Tree for anyone of all ages and stages of life

2-  THIS FREE TEMPLATE WITH PICTURES is also editable and fill-in, done with Canvait does not require a paid account to use this template. 

HERE are the instructions for this 2nd style of Family Tree 


Two types of family trees to choose from to fill-in

FREE Fill-in Family Tree for anyone of all ages and stages of life

b) HERE are the very easy detailed instructions for this Free Template with Pictures, along with the Family Tree.  It includes step-by-step instructions and pictures so you can easily make this Family Tree.


c) AND you can visit my YouTube Channel HERE where I have a video titled: Family Tree Instructional Video to walk you through these instructions!

Two types of family trees to choose from to fill-in

FREE Fill-in Family Tree instructions for anyone of all ages and stages of life


Steps To EASILY Search Your Family Tree


Step 1 –

Click HERE to go to and you will find  the area titled: FAMILY TREE


Step 2 –

Click on the title: FAMILY TREE  or HERE


Step 3 –

Type in your name and information and keep adding to the name of the nearest deceased relative.  FamilySearch will do an automatic search for the deceased person to see if that person has already been added to FamilySearch.  If they have been added previously, you just need to click “add”.  If not, you will need to create a “new” person.


Step 4 –

Once that person’s name comes up, click on that person to see information to add to it, or see what’s there!


If nothing appears then you get to start your very own Family Tree right there on Family Search if you’d like!


You can read more about Family History in my first of this series: You Learn More About Yourself By Doing This!

Another wonderful resource for Genealogy is Rachel’s beginners guide to Genealogy:


Family History is truly one of the greatest adventures of self discovery we will set out on.   

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2019

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.

How to get the family talking together

How To Have Meaningful Dinnertime Conversations

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How to get the family talking together

Is it difficult to get your family talking at dinner, or at all?

It was a huge challenge to get five kids to settle down and have meaningful dinnertime conversations.  Just getting dinner on the table and everyone there was a win in my book.  But I felt there was more to just feeding them all quickly and moving on to the next activity…and that it would be worth it if I persisted. 

As my kids were growing up, dinner time was often noisy, chaotic, and, well, ‘busy’ would be a good word to describe the normal nightly scene. 

I realized early on that something had to change or it would be time of missed opportunities if I didn’t make some changes. 

My solution to meaningful dinner conversations was from a list of questions I invented myself. 

Now, years later, as we get together and the memories are shared, they are often focused on food and the mealtimes together.

To show the impact of how this tradition of eating dinner together can affect a family, recently as my kids, grand kids and extended family were gathered at our home,  I had to step into the hall to wipe away tears of joy as I listened to the laughter, the easy conversations, and the fun that is now the norm as we eat together.

So, let me ask you this question.

Is it a challenge to get your family together at meal times?

Do they visit and talk to each other at the dinner table?

Or is everyone with their head down looking at their phone, or electronic device; in their ‘own world’?

Are meaningful conversations happening on a regular basis in your home?

If your answer is that you could use some tips and pointers to help you learn How To Have Meaningful Dinnertime Conversations, I’ve got you covered!

Really, with what I’ve prepared for you, this technique makes it so natural to practice this art of conversations, that you’ll consider it a success and be glad you did it.

As dinner times become exceptional, you’ll be amazed at the changes in each person.  You’ll see how they will become better individually as well as a family unit, all because of eating together and having conversations.



It will bring a bond and stronger relationships that wouldn’t have been there. 



I have some tips and tricks on the How’s and Why’s that will benefit you and your family for years to come as you have meaningful dinnertime conversations. 


Tips Such As: 

  • When do you meaningful dinnertime conversations?
  • How do you start them?
  • What do you say to make them worthwhile?
  • How do you get your family to eat meals together regularly? 

Let’s be down-to-earth.  If this is new to your family, it may possibly be a challenge, or a pain in the neck, to start something like this; depending on family personalities. BUT it’s worth it!!! 


So WHY are meaningful dinnertime conversations worth the trouble?

  • Research has shown that families who eat together have more close-knit relationships.
  • There is a lower number of depression and suicidal tendencies in teens and older kids that have had regular meals as a family.
  • Less substance abuse in teens and adults who eat together and hold meaningful discussions. 
  • Vocabulary and education are higher in children who eat together as a family and have conversations. 
  • Bonding and insight that comes from these times bring fond memories and instill a sense of belonging which strengthen relationships.

As I have pointed out from my own experience having very busy kids, all with strong personalities, yet it is worth taking the time to have dinner conversations.


WHAT do I do?

1- It might seem like crickets, you might have a protest, or it might be a cheerful chorus when you announce the FUN new dinner tradition – regardless of the reaction, it will work out, just keep going, and I’ll help you all the way. 

2- Be patient, have a sense of humor and remember the end goal in all of this. Nothing great is accomplished quickly. 


HOW do you start this tradition of meaningful dinnertime conversations?   

1- It really helps to have ground rules set up.  I like to have some that are mandatory, and then let my kids, or grand kids also help set them too.  They usually come up with guidelines that I hadn’t thought of that are very helpful. And it makes them feel ownership in the process.  These are a few I would strongly suggest. 

2- Have a set dinnertime that really needs to be accepted by everyone and held to as much as possible.  If breakfast time works better, than by all means, have that be the meaningful conversation time together.  The point is to have a DAILY set time the family, couple or those doing this together participate in. 

3- Have a basket or place that ALL phones and electronic devices are stored during dinner.  That includes parents devices too. No TV or movies on either, except for a rare occasion of a designated movie night by you. 

4- Make it FUN!!!  As you go about this, my opinion here, at the beginning unless laws are broken and the police need to be called, language or action is disrespectful and vulgar, or there is a home rule blatantly broken – let it slide IF you feel you can.  Of course I’m being a tad bit sarcastic, but when something new is instigated people feel awkward and uncomfortable, acting out in uncooperative ways oftentimes not knowing what else to do.  Just my two cents, you do as best suits your family and situation of course. I wouldn’t tell this to the family.  I would set boundaries as I always do, but not so strict that my end-goal couldn’t be accomplished as the process is started.  As it gets going and everyone adjusts to it, the rules can be reset to a higher standard, if necessary; again depending on the personalities of the family members.  

5- Have a reward for having a successful dinner conversation, for example of 5-7 times in a row.  Maybe a special dessert would be appropriate, such as ice cream sundaes, or donuts, or whatever is best for your family.  


NOW to the FUN part!!! 

The key to cracking that challenge having meaningful dinnertime conversations are my Dinner Conversation Starters

1- Download my FREE printables here,

2- Cut them out and put them in a family jar, bowl or special container to use.

3- Take turns pulling them out and answering the questions


4- One question can be chosen and everyone takes a turn answering the same question; which would be the most beneficial and enlightening to find out what is going on in their life without prying or being perceived as meddling.  And see the different way each looks at the same question, giving you the opportunity as a parent to help each one recognize how wonderful it is to be unique and see things in their own special way.

5- Keep the time SHORT, unless your family wants to go longer.  This will bring them back for more the next night and the next and the next.  It will be perceived as FUN and not a chore if it’s brief and not expected to take all night. 


You will be amazed at the benefits of this small, but very powerful tool to begin the dialogue with your family and have open communication.     Ideas will come for your own questions to add to  the tags I’ve provided.  Your family will have some great suggestions of questions also.  


This game is another resource if you want more options: Table Topics HERE


I’d love to hear your experiences with your family and how it is going to with dinner conversations.  The most important things we do are never easy.  Keep at it, don’t get discouraged and listen for the remarkable answers you will hear as the questions come up during your meal time chats. It will be extraordinary and worth every minute. 

Copyright Carrie Groneman,  A Mother’s Shadow, 2014, 2019

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.

Kids with Beans

Playtime with Dry Beans and Small Vehicles

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Kids with Beans

Beans & Car Indoor Playtime

This is the BEST way to help expend energy, use creative juices, and have some entertainment without technology.
It’s so easy to have on hand and quick to pull out any time.
If your grandkidlet is stuck inside and driving the family crazy, has been sick, or maybe had surgery, how about sending one or two of these fun items so they can all have a bit of relaxation and know you are thinking of them!  A bit of chocolate for the mom or dad too wouldn’t be a bad idea also:) See how to send it in a fun way HERE:

Playtime with Dry Beans & Small Vehicles

I keep dry beans in a bag, then pull them out and pour them in a shallow box, or containers like these.
I also have construction vehicles and small cars for them to drive through or build in the beans.
When they are done I just pour the beans back into the bag to use again next time. 
I’ve recycled mine for years now!
The cars and construction vehicles are always in used in many other ways too. It’s a fabulous way to keep them entertained for long stretches of time and for all ages. I like to have a variety for color and size because it helps to stimulate creativity and keeps them playing longer also.

       Click on titles to see products: 

6 Set Toy Construction Vehicles 

12 Pack Assorted Construction Vehicles Toy, Die Cast Vehicles Truck Mini Car Toy For Kids Toddlers


For MORE  inside boredom busters that you can take out for easy play here are some more favorites to have on hand-

I absolutely LOVE these noodles as they call them.  They are made from cornstarch and stick together with a bit of water.  They can stick on windows, or to each other! They do not stain, nor do any harm and come off with a bit of water. Great for the entire family for hours and hours of play.  Grab a bunch of them  by clicking on the word or product because once the teenagers and the parents see how much fun the little ones are having – game on! 🙂

 Stikits                          Stikits Eco Friendly Foam Wet and Stick Construction Set (180 Pieces)


Another FABULOUS activity!

Kinetic sand.  It is so cool and feels really neat.  Seriously, it’s addicting for anyone who touches it to play and play and play.  It’s reusable, sticks to itself and cleans up easily! 

This one:  Sand Clay for Kids, Kinetic Sand & Molds Activity Set

Or this National Geographic is a great choice too

Add in this Sand Activity Kit and you have tons of extra play time           

Copyright Carrie Groneman, 2017
Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today

100 Dice Game

Game Time of 100

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100 Dice GameOh, it’s time for some family FUN!     This FUN game is called 100 and will fit the bill perfectly for 3 players  and up.     

It’s for any age that can write their numbers OR roll the dice while a parent writes.     Low prep, easy to play and great for any time and anywhere! 

Stan’s brother and his wife are some of the most fun people I know. They love to play games as a family and taught us this one a few years back. It’s called 100 and is a terrific game to take along anywhere to play anytime. My daughter Delsi kept it in her backpack for downtime at school. (She also cheats at this game by running away with the pen, but do not follow her bad example, heehee).  Now on with the game!!!




2 dice (6 sided dice)

Small pieces of paper, one per player

Pen – one that is smooth such as shown  



Each player takes one piece of paper and rolls ONE die.

The high roll begins the game.

The player to the left of the beginner player gets the pen and at “GO” begins to write 1,2,3,4, etc.

Meanwhile the person with the dice is rolling BOTH dice and if the person rolls anything but double SIX’S after rolling, passes the dice to the next person, skipping the person with the pen.

The next person quickly rolls, also trying to roll DOUBLE SIXES.

If a double six is rolled, the person who rolled it grabs the pen from the person writing and begins to write on their own paper 1,2,3, and on.

The next player grabs the dice and rolls.

If they get a DOUBLE SIX they grab the pen and write their 1,2,3, etc.

If not, the next person gets the dice. I

f a person rolls DOUBLE SIXES and has already begun to write numbers on their paper, they pick up where they left off.

When a player reaches 100, they shout ONE HUNDRED and wins the game.


 Copyright Carrie Groneman,  A Mother’s Shadow, 2014

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.