Kids learn best through play and safe game sites offer the best practice

Kids learn best through play and safe game sites offer the best practice

If you have watched your kids grow and learn, it is easy to see what motivates them best. Play that encourages learning is such great practice at subjects, skills, concepts and retention. I know that video games are great for strategy and role play, but we want to limit their time they have on the web. Monitoring their access can be overwhelming. Finding games such as board games, card games and even non-subscription play on-the-go is a great tool at home.

My youngest just became a teenager, so games are still a great way to keep that brain going. We have many board games that help master certain skills for his age and the repetition of some online safe game sites are a great tool as well. I recently discovered one such tool that does require a computer, but not any ads, subscriptions or that will take him outside the platform while playing. is such a simple game site that brings together some classic games with engaging characters and all you need to learn and grow.

They have so many categories listed in their footer so it is easy to jump right to a particular genre, subject or skill base. I work in the school district and was a bit excited for the kids as I browsed their Math games. If you have an elementary student, you know that they are huge Among Us fans. It is all they talk about, draw and play on the playgrounds. Guess what? They have an Among Us adding game! Tell me they won’t love learning math now!

One of my favorite classic games for strategy and critical thinking is Chess. has a few chess games to choose from like this beginner chess game that helps your child navigate through all the rules of chess with hints, tips and they will learn to play so easily. You can see, we needed the practice and tips on our screenshot above. We did not do so well on our first game. Before long, they can sit with the family and work hard through real chess time on family game night.

I love that these are not ‘saved’ games. There are no tiers, leaderboards or extra add-ons eating at your wallet. Just simply head to their site, choose a game and stop when you want. You don’t even have to give any info at all. It’s just there, like the old-fashioned pick-up game with hundreds of game choices and more added daily. If you love family game nights or card games to play and learn from, having screen options is great when everyone else is busy and they are bored of how they are learning. Grab a deck of flash cards, open up a game box or find a category in for them this afternoon!


Keep Learning this Summer with Merka Kids Educational Products

Keep Learning this Summer with Merka Kids Educational Products

We learn best through play and experiences. Merka wants your kids to keep on learning, in a fun way, all summer long. It is so easy to do with colorful posters, placemats and flashcards. They have subjects for toddlers through tween.

educational placemats

The colors and illustrations are so engaging and explain the ‘why’ behind learning subjects. In this Periodic Table placemat I got my son, he went straight away and put it on his computer desk as a mat near his keyboard. He just finished 7th grade and will get more Chemistry learning next year and he is better prepared with tools like these educational products.

Periodic table

Even for the toddler, the topics of colors, numbers and letters are fun and are designed visually well. Have them go around the house and find amounts or colored objects to bring back to their placemats. Do some fun review at meal time. Use them as mats they will engage with at an art table. You are unlimited on how to incorporate these products into your daily life.

Posters can be hung in any space. Flashcards will travel well and if you need more, visit their printables page!

learn shapes

Visit Merka store to learn more and you can also visit the Merka Amazon shop.

The links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.


6 Ways To Save On Back To School Costs

6 Ways To Save On Back To School Costs
Image Credit: Unsplash

School fees, school uniforms, school bags, sporting gear, school books. stationery, laptops, lunches, and transport. These days, the cost of sending your kids back to school every year can really add up. But with a bit of planning and a little foresight, it is possible to make sure your kids have everything they need for the school year ahead and without breaking the bank in the process.

With that in mind, here are a few simple ideas to help you stay on top of the costs that are normally associated with sending your kids back to school. Here are 6 simple ways you can save on back to school costs.

1. Spread out the costs

One tip is to only buy their things as they need them. For example, only buy those uniform items that your child will need for the first term.

By putting off buying the warmer items they’ll need for the winter months until the season actually changes, you won’t be hit with a big upfront expense and will have time to save for what’s needed further down the track.

Similarly, don’t buy all of the stationery items on their lists at the same time. Find out from the school when they’ll need the various books and supplies and if some aren’t required until later in the year, wait until then to purchase them.

2. Buy second hand

There’s nothing wrong with buying second hand. Used items have often only been worn for one season or used for one term and the difference in price between new and used can be quite substantial. 

Most school uniform suppliers sell second-hand uniforms, as well as new and second-hand bookshops, often have second-hand curriculum-based school books and stationery at greatly reduced prices.

Second-hand laptops and tablets can also be purchased online for much less than new and some schools even have programs where you can purchase new computers through the school at discounted rates. You could also consider getting a low-interest personal loan and paying for your kids’ technology in easy installments.

3. Buy wisely

Rather than buying items when you need them, look out for sales and clearances throughout the year and try to buy the same items at discounted prices. Similarly, if you’re buying stationery supplies, big suppliers like Office Depot will often have rewards programs or coupons to take advantage of. 

And when you buy, look for value, Good quality school wear will last a lot longer than the cheap stuff, so look for sales where quality and value come together.   

4. Label everything

Over the course of the school year, the lost property office usually fills up with a wide range of items that kids have lost or misplaced. And if you struggled to be able to afford these items in the first place, you certainly can’t afford to be paying for them twice.

So label every single thing that belongs to your child, from their uniforms to their sporting gear and laptops. Using one of those permanent markers will help to ensure that if anything of theirs is lost, it will eventually find its way back to its owner.

5. Have a budget

The key to saving is to have a budget and stick to it. Work out at the beginning of the year what your kids are likely to need for school and then use the old envelope system to put a little money aside for each item every week.

Be sure to account for every likely expense and make sure you have a miscellaneous envelope to cover unexpected costs such as excursions or school camps. 

6. Ask for help

If you’re struggling to meet all your kids’ back to school expenses, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There’s lots of assistance available and it’s just a matter of knowing where to look:

  • Get help with transport costs: If your child catches the bus or the train to school every day, student concession cards are available in most states.
  • Get help from the government: Federal assistance is available through Services Australia for children’s education and health care. Each state government also offers financial assistance to help with education costs.
  • Get help from your school: if you’re struggling to meet school costs, talk to the principal, as most schools have financial assistance programs for families.

The cost of public primary school education has been estimated at around $23,000. A survey by the Australian Scholarships Group (ASG) also found that in urban areas you can expect to pay around $4,455 a year for public secondary education and up to $30,000 in a private school. That’s a lot of money for families to come up with, especially if there are several children to be educated.

It’s hard to do much about rising school fees, other than shopping around for the lowest. But it is possible to reduce the burden of back-to-school expenses and putting these 6 tips into practice will hopefully allow you to do just that.

Education, Tips and Tricks

4 Tips for Filing Taxes in 2021

In case you forgot, tax season is creeping up on us again. 2020 was a bizarre year for all of us, and your taxes this year might reflect that. Don’t get caught doing your taxes last minute! Here are 4 Tips for Filing Taxes in 2021.

  1. Get organized

Start a filing system for all of your documents. Keep all the transactions and receipts that can affect your tax return in 2021. It’s important to stay organized so that you don’t lose anything and you don’t forget items from months ago. Be aware that the last day for filing taxes in 2021 is April 15. 

  1. Figure out your bracket

To estimate how much in taxes you owe this year, you need to find out what tax bracket you belong to. The U.S. has a progressive tax system, and the rate at which you are taxed ranges from 10%- 37% of your annual income. This is not a flat rate because each individual tax bracket is taxed at the rate set for the bracket. The tax brackets are as follows:

  • 10% for incomes less than $9,875
  • 12% for incomes more than $9,875
  • 22% for incomes more than $40,125
  • 24% for incomes more than $85,525
  • 32% for incomes more than $163,300
  • 35% for incomes more than $207,350
  • 37% for incomes more than $518,400

Be aware of the fact that unemployment benefits are taxable income. 

  1. Learn about the deductions and credits you can apply for

A deduction is an expense that you’ve had during the year that you can subtract from your taxable income. A tax credit is an actual dollar-to-dollar reduction in your tax bill. Many of the same deductions and credits apply from last year. Some popular ones to be aware of include:

  • Child Tax Credit – If you have a child who you can claim as a dependant, you can get up to $2,000 per child. If you end up having $0 to pay in taxes this year, you can even get a credit of $1,400 from the IRS.
  • Earned Income Tax Credit – If you earned less than $56,844 last year, you might be eligible for the EITC, which can give you $538 to $6,660.
  • Business Expenses – Those who are self-employed can claim expenses on their tax return, ranging from rent, travel expenses, and office supplies.
  • Medical Deductions – If you’ve spent time in the hospital because of the pandemic or any other reason, you can deduct anything over 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.
  • Charitable Deductions – The CARES Act allows you to deduct up to 100% of your adjustable gross income from your taxes.
  • Education – The American Opportunity Credit (AOC) allows you to deduct $2,500 from your taxes if you are in your first four years of college. If you are past that, you can deduct up to $2,000 as part of the Lifetime Learning Credit.
  • The stimulus check and the CARES Act Relief Fund count as a credit this year and not as a deduction from your taxes. 
  • The PPP loan acts as a deduction that you can use on any expenses paid from the loan from your taxable income.
  1. Retirement funds

There are generally two different retirement funds out there, the 401(k) and the IRA, and you should be aware of how they affect your taxes. Money put into a 401(k) won’t get taxed by the IRS. However, the IRA works a little differently depending on if you have a traditional or Roth IRA. With a traditional IRA, you don’t pay taxes on your deposits, but you pay taxes on your withdrawals. Roth IRAs are the opposite: you pay taxes on what you put in, but not on what you take out.

These tips should make filing your taxes this year just a little less difficult. If you need more tax help, remember to seek out a professional to avoid costly mistakes.