Standard Deviants Accelerate: Seasons

3 Ways to Take Your Homeschooling Outdoors

3 Ways to Take Your Homeschooling Outdoors from Standard Deviants Accelerate

As the weather changes and gets nicer, we find ourselves with a real case of cabin fever here. Once spring hits we all just want to be outside. Problem is…we still have work to do.

3 Ways to Take Your Homeschooling Outdoors

1. Get Up & Get Out!

Just pack up your homeschool! If you want to head to a park, we usually have each kid pack a backpack with their supplies, from colored pencils to tablets and I pack a lunch.

You can even just head out into your yard. We have a picnic table in the backyard where the kids will head out with some of their work and maybe a snack or lunch and enjoy the nice weather while they work.

2. Nature Studies

I usually plan to switch to nature study type activities for science when spring hits. Everything from gardening to flower identification, making birdhouse, learning about bees, insects and more. This allows us a ton of life science time and gets us outside too!

Here are some great nature study options:

3. Change Your Schedule

There are two ways in which we have taken to rethinking our schedule to we can get more outside time.

  1. During the winter months we really “hit the books” and work our way through as much of the bull work as we can. This frees up our schedule some when the warmer weather comes so we can get outside more. Allowing for us to take trips to the park and leisurely do some reading, math, etc. outside and then enjoy being outside.
  2. If there are subjects that have stretched out too long, we may just put them aside. After all, how many spelling tests do you really need to take each year!

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Spring Nature Study Ideas

Spring Nature Study Ideas from Standard Deviants Accelerate

Spring is a great time of year to get up and outside. Many have been couped up inside for the winter and are ready to get out. Usually by this time the kids are restless and the lure of the sun and warmer temperatures is great. Spring Nature Study is a great way to keep the kids learning and moving!

Spring Nature Explorations

1. Start by making a nature exploration kit.

Include things such as:

  • Magnifying glass
  • binoculars
  • compass
  • plain paper
  • colored pencils
  • pencils
  • pencil sharpener
  • one and one small tin
  • two little jars
  • plastic bags (ziplock and larger)
  • handwipes
  • nature study books
  • camera

2. Read, read, read.

Check out a stack of nature study books from the library. Books about bugs! Books about flowers and trees! Books about birds! Then take them outside with you. Head to a local park, walking trail or nature reserve – picnic lunch in hand – and do some reading.

Getting out into nature and observing all the plant and animal like around you will inspire your kids to want to learn more. You can curl up on a blanket in the grass and check out things you have seen outside in your books, or simply pick a book and dig in!

3. Explore, explore, explore.

Here are some ideas of things to check out in your spring nature study:

  • pond life
  • frogs
  • worms
  • butterflies
  • flying insects
  • insects in the garden
  • bees
  • ladybugs
  • birds (robin, bluebird, ducks, sparrows, hummingbirds)
  • flowers (lily, daffodil, tulip, sunflower, lilacs, rose)
  • trees (apple, maple, weeping willow, pine, oak)
  • animals (rabbit, squirrel, deer, chipmunk, beaver, fox)

4. Make a nature journal.

  • Draw pictures of what you see on your nature explorations.
  • Take pictures with a camera.
  • Find images on the computer to print of things you have seen.
  • Write your observations down.
  • Include important facts you looked up and learned.

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10 Indoor Activities For Those Cold Winter Days

10 Indoor Activities For Those Cold Winter Days from Standard Deviants Accelerate

It is finally cold here in New York, cold and snowy. On days when the temperature drops too low to make it bearable outside, the kids can begin to climb the walls. On days like these, the usual routine of activities just isn’t enough. They need something extra engaging, new and exciting, different and out of the box.

10 Indoor Activities For Those Cold Winter Days

1. Get in the kitchen and cook something!  Hop on the Internet and do a quick search for kid friendly cooking ideas. Things like new cookies, soft pretzels, some sort of fruit creation, etc.

2. Make a sensory bin (or two)! We were recently at someone’s house and the kids (ages 13 & 16) got a hold of kinetic sand. They were like little kids in a candy store! This got me to thinking about sensory bins. You can use things like unpopped popcorn, cereal, black beans, buttons, rice and coffee beans. Add in little toy figures, craft pom poms, paper, measuring cups, and spoons.

3. Make recycled crafts. Get out the recycling bin, scrap fabric, foam, pipe cleaners, egg cartons, buttons and beads and let the kids get creative. Make bridges, build castles, create a corral to hold their animals, the sky is the limit!

4. Build a fort. I am always amazed and what my kids can come up with when I let them loose with pillows and blankets. They drag out couch cushions, chairs, end tables, and more to create forts for themselves to both play and sleep in. It could be as simple as taking the chair away from the kitchen table and covering it with a couple of sheets, or as complex as they can make it!

5. Drawing fun. Use paper bags cut open and taped to the walls, poster board, butcher paper, etc. For whatever reason attaching a large amount of paper to a wall and letting the kids draw on it makes it all the more fun. Use crayons, paint, or markers. If you have dark paper use chalk!

6. Snow cone fun! Use the snow to your advantage and bring it inside! Use flavored drink mixes such as fruit punch or lemonade and make your own, fresh from the yard snow cones!

7. Game day. Let each one of the kids choose a game to play and tell them you can only play if you all happily play each game that has been chosen. Then take turns playing the games that each child chose.

8. Make music. Find things around the house that make noise such as spoons, glasses, pots and pans. You can also create your own noise makers. Using two paper plates and some rice you can create a fun shaking noise maker.

9. Finger Paint. Clear your table or counter and prepare to make a mess! You can use whipped cream, Cool Whip, or shaving cream to paint pictures. Add food coloring to different piles and smear away!

10. Indoor obstacle course. Create an indoor obstacle course. Use cushions to jump over, put two chairs close and place a broom across to go under, use an egg and spoon to hold onto while zigzagging in and out of books you placed on the floor. The sky is the limit with this one. Use what you have and be creative. Have the kids set something up and time each person as they go through.

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Build A Snowman – Without Snow

Build a Snowman Without Snow from Standard Deviants Accelerate

While we live in a state that get snow, I am very aware that there are many who have never seen snow. So for those of you that never get it, or if you are like us and don’t have it right now for some strange reason, you can still build a snowman without it. Now it might not be cold and frozen, but it will still be fun and entertaining!

Build A Snowman – Without Snow

I don’t love the snow myself, so an alternative to the cold frozen kind of snowman seems appealing to me. Throughout the years the kids and I have done many snowman crafts and creations along the way. Here are two of our favorites:

1. Felt Snowman

I love this activity because it can be used over and over again. So not only can you and your children have fun in the initial making of the felt snowman and accessories, but you can come back to it over and over again.


  • felt – in oh so many colors! White, black, red, green, blue, purple, etc. You really need white and black for the snowman himself and then any colors you want to use as accessories.
  • scissors


  1. Cut out three circles in a small, medium and large size. I don’t give an exact size because you can make your felt snowman as big or as little as you wish.
  2. Use black felt to cut out a top hat, boots, eyes, and buttons.
  3. Use brown felt to create stick arms. {You could also choose to use brown pipe cleaners for the arms.}
  4. Beyond the basics let your kids be creative. Add scarves, hats, mittens, clothes, necklaces, whatever they like! You can make various wardrobes for different occasions and the kids can change out clothes whenever they choose.

We actually tacked ours to the wall and changed his clothes with the weather outside!

2. Contact Paper Window Cling Snowman

While this activity is supposed to be reuasable, I found that trying to remove the contact paper from our sliding glass door after it was on for a bit proved to be the death of it.


  • clear contact paper
  • acrylic paint: white, black, red, orange, etc
  • paint brushes
  • black permanent marker


I love this one because you can make it life sized!

  1. Lay out the contact paper and draw out the basic 3 circles for the snowman, as well as the eyes, nose, hat, boots, scarf and buttons with black permanent marker.
  2. Paint each piece with acrylic paint.
  3. After the paint dries carefully cut out each piece. (Even the acrylic paint can scratch off so be careful with it.)
  4. Then peal the backs and put your snowman together on a glass door!

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STOP! And Enjoy The Holiday Season

STOP! And Enjoy The Holiday Season from Standard Deviants Accelerate

As a veteran homeschooling parent I can tell you I have tried many things, failed at many things, changed many things, and loved many things. One thing I am so glad I changed in our homeschool was the time that we take off for the holiday season. In order for us to be able to enjoy the Christmas holiday season more fully, we take 3 weeks off in December.

We used to take just a couple of days prior to Christmas Day through New Year’s off. What I found is that we didn’t have time to enjoy the holiday season. By the time we put school aside the holiday was already over, and we were stressed. We had been racing around to get cookies and decorating done, squeezed in an extra activity here or there, but we had not really been able to absorb and enjoy any of it! Those are the days past. We now STOP! And Enjoy The Holiday Season.

STOP! And Enjoy The Holiday Season

What you and your family do to enjoy the holiday season may be different from what my family does. But here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Cut down a Christmas tree.
  • Bake special holiday cookies.
  • Volunteer, do a service project to help those in need at this time of year.
  • Watch a favorite holiday movie. Or try a new one!
  • Read Christmas themed books.
  • Have a party!
  • Pick a DIY project that is holiday related such as making Christmas ornaments, wreaths, or decorations.
  • Take a fun holiday themed photo.
  • Go caroling. We have often arranged to do this at a local nursing home. It is inside out of the harsh weather and the residents love the company!
  • Learn to play a holiday song on an instrument. I taught each of my children a different song on the piano last year and then we all sand along.

Thanksgiving Hacks to Make Your Holiday Easier

Thanksgiving Hacks to Make Your Holiday Easier from Standard Deviants Accelerate

Thanksgiving, like many holidays brings family and friends together. In our house we take the week off from homeschool to spend time together, do fun holiday related crafts and activities and prepare for the holiday festivities. For those preparing the holiday meal things can get a little hectic and stressful. Here are a few Thanksgiving Hacks to Make Your Holiday Easier!

Thanksgiving Hacks to Make Your Holiday Easier

  1. Cook stuffing in muffins tins to make single serve portions that cook quicker and come out crispier!
  2. Use crock pots for things like Green Bean Casserole and Mashed Potatoes.
  3. Cook your turkey in a bag. It cooks in about a third of the time and comes out so much moister with NO basting!
  4. To make less work for yourself, set up your meal buffet style in the kitchen.
  5. Make things like pies ahead and freeze them before baking. That way you can do this take a week or two before to minimize on the last minute to do list.
  6. Running out of oven space and time? Steam your veggies in the dishwasher wrapped in foil.
  7. To keep kids occupied prepare some activities ahead of time from things like color sheets and fun games to a simple craft activity.
  8. Have guests help out! Set everything out and have someone set the table for you. This is a great job for an adult and kid team to do together.

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Pumpkin Parts – A Science & Art Project

Pumpkin Parts A Science & Art Project from Standard Deviants Accelerate

The months of October and November are all about fall, leaves, pumpkins, Halloween and Thanksgiving. We see all kids of crafts, education, art and more with these themes. What I love about this easy to do project is that it is a little bit of art and science all rolled into one project!

Pumpkin Parts

A great time to do this is right after you have carved your pumpkins because then you can investigate them easily and check out their parts. Otherwise you can purchase small pumpkins specifically for this project. (Especially after Halloween when they get really cheap to buy!)

Before opening up the pumpkins you can read about them (see book list below) and talk about the parts you will be looking for and labeling. Specifically be looking for the rind, ribs, and stem on the outside, as well as the seeds, pulp, and fibrous strands on the inside.

Pumpkin books to go along with this project:

  1. The Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons
  2. How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin by Margaret McNamara (also a great idea for more science and math exploration)
  3. From Seed to Pumpkin by Wendy Pfeffer
  4. Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell (This book inspired us to try growing pumpkins of our own!)
  5. Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper (This includes a recipe to make the soup!)


  • pumpkin
  • carving supplies (like a knife or carving kit)
  • paper plate
  • scissors
  • paper
  • glue
  • marker
  • paint and brush


    1. Cut a circle in the middle of a paper plate then glue it to a piece of paper. 
    2. Paint the plate and paper combination so it looks like a pumpkin.
    3. Once it dries glue the fibrous strands, pulp, and seeds inside the hole of the paper plate onto the paper.
    4. End with labeling it.  You can either print or write the parts onto strips of paper, or have your kids write them on the strips of paper themselves.

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Crayon Drip Pumpkin Craft

Crayon Drip Pumpkin Craft from Standard Deviants Accelerate

I have so many old crayons in our house. I started collecting them into a zip-lock bag to intentionally use for crayon drip crafts throughout this year. This pumpkin is the first of them we are going to try. So grab you pumpkins and your crayons and let’s get started on this fun Crayon Drip Pumpkin Craft!

Crayon Drip Pumpkin Craft


  • any sized pumpkin (the medium sized ones work well for this)
  • Tacky Glue
  • Crayons (remove all labels before beginning)
  • Hair dryer
  • Trash bag to do the project on


  1. Begin by spreading out a trash bag over your work space. This will protect your table from any melting crayon gone rogue!
  2. Be sure your crayons are about half size. Break them if needed.
  3. Glue your crayons around the stem like rays of sun shining out from the stem.
  4. Using a hair dryer apply heat to the crayons in a downward direction. It takes about 30 seconds to a minute for each crayon to melt and drip. Experiment with more or less drip making some longer or shorter, wider or more narrow.


  • Try using sparkle crayons
  • Try painting the pumpkin first. For instance you could paint the whole pumpkin black, then after it drys drip crayons down it for a cool nighttime/darkness/Halloween feel. Or paint it white and then use orange and yellow to create a candy corn looking pumpkin.

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9 Kids Books About Apples

9 Kids Books About Apples from Standard Deviants Accelerate

Tis the season of apples! Apple picking, apple science and apple baking. Kids are fascinated with being able to head out and pick apples from the trees, and to make things like applesauce and apple pies. Here is a great selection of apple books to answer their questions, spark their imaginations, and get you all cooking with apples too!

Kids Books About Apples

  1. How Do Apples Grow? is a fabulous early science reader about how an apple grows from bud to flower to fruit.
  2. Apples by Gail Gibbons is an overview of apples from their history in America, their growth, uses for apples and more. Includes illustration of many varieties of apples along with a page of interesting facts.
  3. The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree is another great by Gail Gibbons that talks about the changing of the seasons through the transitioning of an apple tree.
  4. Apples, Apples Everywhere! Learning About Apple Harvests takes you on a trip to the apple orchard to find out how apples are picked and stored!
  5. The Apple Pie Tree follows the cycle of an apple tree through the seasons, including the role of bees and weather in the production of fruit. There is also an apple pie recipe included for you to do with your kids.
  6. Amelia Bedelia’s First Apple Pie is fun story told with true Amelia Bedelia humor. It includes everything fall from leaf jumping to apple pie making.
  7. Apple Farmer Annie is a busy apple farmer. You can follow her through her day of picking, counting, sorting, baking and selling. Then you can try making some of her simple apple recipes.
  8. Apple Picking Time excels in the illustration department with rich warm autumn colors and a traditional fall apple festival attended by Anna and her family.
  9. The Big Fat Red Juicy Apple Cookbook is fun in so many ways, starting with the die cut shape of an apple, all the way down to the extensive assortment of recipes like breads, cakes, ciders, cookies and more! There are 116 recipes for you to make and enjoy with your family!



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Apple Science Experiment – What Helps Prevent Browning?

Apple Science Experiment - What Helps Prevent Browning? from Standard Deviants Accelerate

The summer weather is winding down and fall is creeping in. With that comes falling leaves, apples, corn mazes and pumpkins. In particular at this time there are lots of apples to be picked, and eaten. As any of you who eat apples know, once you have cut them they brown pretty quickly.

Today we are going to ask the question, “What will slow apples from browning?” and see if we can find the answer.

Apple Science Experiment – What Helps Prevent Browning?

Supplies Needed:

  • one apple cut into slices
  • lemon juice
  • water
  • orange juice
  • vinegar
  • milk of magnesia
  • 5 little bowls


  1. To begin place one apple slice in each of the five bowls.
  2. Cover each apple slice with one of the 5 liquids
  3. Make a prediction as to which liquid will keep the apple slice from browning the longest and draw or take a photo of what they look like at this beginning stage.
  4. Check on the apples after a couple of hours, then the next morning, and the next evening. Each time recording your observations and drawing or taking a photo. Be sure to note their smell, texture, and taste (just take a little piece each time).
  5. What were your findings? Did one liquid help prevent browning more than another? Why do you think this is?

Why do sliced apples turn brown?

Apples turn brown when they are sliced and exposed to air. This is because an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase reacts with the oxygen in the air causing a reaction called oxidation. This is what causes the apple slices to turn brown.

Why does fruit juice help?

Fruits often contain vitamin C which is a type of nutrient called an antioxidant. Thus using the juice from fruits such as lemons and oranges can help prevent oxidation from happening and therefore slow the browning process down.

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Leaf Art and Crafts for Kids

Leaf Art and Crafts for Kids from Standard Deviants Accelerate

Fall is coming and in many places the leaves will be changing color and falling to the ground. It is a great time of year to get out and learn first hand about the changing of the seasons and the cycle of the leaves.

Here are some leaf books to get your started on your adventure: 12 Kids Books About Leaves

After you have gotten outside and enjoyed the fall leaves, you can head in and create some fun leaf art and crafts projects with the nature you have collected.

Leaf Art and Crafts for Kids

1. Leaf Coasters

What you need:

  • bathroom tiles
  • leaves
  • modge podge

What to do:

Simply create a collage of leaves to place on your tiles and use modge podge to hold it on the tiles. These are simple to do and make great decorations as well as gifts.

2. Leaf Rubbings

What you need:

  • a variety of crayons with the paper off
  • a variety of leaves
  • construction paper or cardstock

What to do:

Simply lay the leaves right side up on construction paper or cardstock and rub with a crayon. You can do multiples on one page, or use different color papers and crayons to create a fun and color project to frame!

3. Leaf Animals

What you need:

  • a variety of different shaped and sized leaves
  • twigs and other fallen plant scraps
  • glue
  • cardstock

What to do:

Gather leaves of different sizes and shapes. Larger leaves can be used for the body and smaller ones make great ears, wings, etc. Small twigs and plant scraps can be used for legs and other animal details. Have your children arrange the leaves to create animals like owls, birds, bugs, foxes, rabbits and more!

4. Leaf Lanterns

What you need:

  • mason jars
  • modge podge
  • fall leaves
  • small candles or clear Christmas lights

What to do:

This is and easy craft for kids of all ages that makes a beautiful fall decoration or gift. Simply use the modge podge to hold your leaves in place on the jar. You kids can make a specific pattern or just cover the jars completely in leaves (this makes a pretty stained glass look). Small candles or clear Christmas lights can be inserted inside the jars to light them up!

5. Leaf Books

What you need:

  • a collection of leaves
  • a book to help you identify them
  • markers
  • glue or tape
  • white cardstock
  • page protectors

What to do:

You can create a leaf book with fall leaves or any leaves. Simply gather a collection of leaves and use a guide book to identify them. Your kids can arrange their leaves on cardstock and secure with glue or tape. Then they can write the type of leaf and any identifying or special characteristics on the page. We like to use page protectors to keep it all safe and secure. To keep it all together you can use a folder or brads to make a nice book.

6. Leaf Bunting

What you need:

  • pages from an old book
  • leaves
  • twine
  • scissors
  • modge podge

What to do:

Bring your leaves home and  press them in a book, leaving them for a few days until completely dried. Then using pages from an old book, cut out pennant shapes. Be sure to leave extra length at the top to be able to fold over and staple to create a space to string your banner with twine.
Use modge podge adhesive to attach the pressed leaves to each pennant. (One larger leaf or a few smaller ones per pennant.) The fold down the top portion of each pennant, secure with staples leaving enough space to thread the twine through.
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Summer Science: Diet Coke Volcano

Summer Science: Diet Coke Volcano from Standard Deviants  Accelerate

Making a volcano out of a soda bottle is a classic science experiment that opens the door for lots of geological exploration, as well as a chance for the kids to make an explosive mess! It only requires two ingredients, a few minutes, and a place outdoors to do it.

Making a Diet Coke Volcano

The purpose of this experiment is to demonstrate how carbon dioxide gas in the Diet Coke can cause a volcanic eruption when mixed with Mentos. Carbon dioxide is a colorless and odorless gas. It is what gives the Diet Coke it’s fizz.

  1. Buy a two liter bottle of Diet Coke and a roll of Mentos.
  2. Take them outside to a flat space.
  3. Open the Diet Coke and place it on the flat surface where it will easily stay standing upright.
  4. Open the roll of Mentos the long way and then use tape to loosely hold it together. This will allow you to have a funnel-like tube to assist in getting the Mentos into the bottle.
  5. This explosion will be big! Therefore you have to quickly drop all Mentos into the two liter bottle and get back.

While this explosion does not mimic the actual process of a volcanic eruption, it does give you an idea of the type of force and flow of a volcanic eruption.

So what happened? When the Mentos candy is dropped into the Diet Coke, which is filled with carbon dioxide gas, the gelatin and gum arabic from the dissolving Mentos creates an energy that breaks the surface tension of the soda.  When the Mentos hits the soda, bubbles immediately begin to form on their surface. When the candy hits the bottom of the bottle, the gas is released and pushes all the Diet Coke out of the bottle and into the air!

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5 Summer Heat Busters

5 Summer Heat Busters from Standard Deviants Accelerate

The summer heat can be stifling at times. During the hot summer months it can be fun to get outside and enjoy some fun water games and activities to cool down. Here are 5 cheap and quick summer heat busters for you to try with your kids.

Summer Heat Busters

  1. Use Balloons as Squirt Guns – Fill a balloon with water and then tie it off. Use a pin to poke a tiny hole in the balloon. Then squeeze the water out of the hole! It makes a great squirting device!
  2. Sponge Target Game – Using wet sponges and chalk you can make a driveway “bulls eye” game. Using chalk create a large circle on the driveway with 3 smaller circles inside it. Label the smallest circle 50 and then the next smallest 40, 25, and then 10. Fill a bucket with water and sponges and create a starting line. Let each child throw the sponges and add up their score. A fun game and a water cool down in one!
  3. Ice Cube Popsicles – Using an ice cube tray can be a quick and easy way to make fun mini-flavored popsicles. If you have craft sticks you can insert them in when the water starts to freeze, or use the cubes and fun colored flavoring for the kids drinks! Here are some other fun popsicle ideas Note: When trying to get a popsicle stick in place it helps to use foil: Place a sheet of foil on top of the popsicle mold top and insert sticks (the foil keeps the sticks in place).
  4. Water Hose Limbo – Prop up your hose to create stream of water. A step ladder works well for this as you can move it from rung to rung to increase the difficulty. Then play some limbo music and let your kids have a fun game of wet limbo!
  5. Toy Wash – Gather up the kids plastic toys. Give them a bucket of soapy water and some sponges, washcloths, brushes, etc. The kids have fun and get cool and you get CLEAN TOYS!!

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Summer Popsicle Ideas

Summer Popsicle Ideas from Standard Deviants Accelerate

Popsicles can be a fun way to cool down during the summer. But rather than just running to the store to buy posicles, consider buying a mold and creating your own. Kids love working in the kitchen and then being able to eat and share the “fruits of the labor”. Here are a few Summer Popsicle Ideas to get you started!

Summer Popsicle Ideas

Gummy Bear Popsicles – Add a few gummy bears to the mold and then fill with Sprite and freeze!

Strawberry Yogurt Popsicles – For these healthy treats simply layer strawberry puree and vanilla yogurt in your molds and freeze!

Banana Nutella Popsicles – Puree bananas and then mix in Nutella until a creamy blend. Then fill molds and freeze!

Root Beer Float Popsicles - Pour a small amount of the root beer into each popsicle mold. Evenly distribute softened vanilla ice cream between the popsicle molds in spoonfuls. Pour root beer into molds in small amounts allowing the foam to die back before pouring more to fill molds to the top.

Note: When trying to get a popsicle stick in place it helps to use foil: Place a sheet of foil on top of the popsicle mold top and insert sticks (the foil keeps the sticks in place).

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