Teach Your Kids Survival Skills – 5 Fun “Let’s Pretend” Games

Teach Your Kids Survival Skills – 5 Fun “Let’s Pretend” Games. My Zoe- who’s 8- and my teenager Zachie love to go camping. They love the mountains, the beach, they’re both strong swimmers, so I kind of slacked off on survival skills. What happens if they get lost? What if we end up displaced because of a real-life disaster?

I wanted to find ways to teach new skills without being scary. My Zachie has autism, so heightening his anxiety isn’t going to help him learn, and at 8, Zoe finds almost anything can be scary if presented poorly. So how to teach them?


Teach Your Kids Survival Skills – 5 Fun “Let’s Pretend” Games

1- Playing “Doctor”

Zoe used to love trapping her twin brothers on the couch and more or less taping them to the cushions with surgical tape and winding gauze haphazardly all over their face and arms. But it’s a good start for teaching first aid skills. We tried a session of going through the Todd’s “medium-intense” first aid kit. (The Todd is a born prepper- he has multiple kits stashed all over the house, our cars, our trailer, the boat… One is a massive kit that paramedics use– I could probably do open heart surgery at midnight with the contents and car headlights to see with.) We practiced how to splint an arm, how to tell if a bone is broken, how to check for fever and what happens if you swallow something big and you’re choking. (Note to self: try the Heimlich again with Zoe. She’s very enthusiastic and alarmingly strong.) We danced to the BeeGee’s “Staying Alive” which is the new anthem for CPR and sets the rhythm for chest compressions.

Next Step: taking a first aid class together- find some options and locations here.


2. Backyard Campout

If you’re not ready for a big mountain/desert/beach campout, start at home. But this time, use a “bug-out” bag, or the closest thing you have. (Find out more about an easy 72-hour emergency bag here.) This is a good chance to go through the bag, find medications that might be needed, cook some of the food you have there, teach about filtering water and change into clothes already stashed and ready to wear. Have the kids help you put up the tent and “find” firewood. We’ve done a short hike with everyone wearing their bug-out backpacks to make sure they can carry everything comfortably.

Next Step: trying the same scenario in the wilderness.



This is our kid’s favorite phrase because it means Mom and Dad managed to finish filming and editing and it’s family time, baby! We keep our trailer stocked so that, with gathering just a few things, we can be on the road. But we’ve altered it into a game where we time our kids. In most natural disasters, you have around 15 minutes to grab what you can and leave home. The terrifying spread of wildfires across California last summer is a classic example. So now we focus on what we can pull together immediately, which made some changes in our life. I keep all our important documents- titles, birth certificates, legal paperwork and passports in one fire-proof pouch. I’ve started saving important papers and family photos in iCloud so they’re always there if we need them. And this has taught our kiddos to decide what’s really important to them since there’s so little they can grab in 15 minutes- though Zoe’s managed to shove a good 28 stuffies in the car before the time was up.

Next Step: here’s what FEMA suggests you need in terms of documents.


4. Scavenger Hunt

Learning edible items in the wild, understanding direction and how to create shelters are all crucial lifesaving skills if you were to get lost. We created a “scavenger hunt” style game that rewards our kiddos for finding important items based on their list. Our last list included:

  1. Edible grasses or berries
  2. Moss from the north side of a tree
  3. Kindling
  4. Rocks to heat for warmth a night stay
  5. A spot perfect for building a shelter
  6. Filtering water to make it drinkable

Next Step: there’s a great set of cards – The Purple Cow –  that brings out your young outdoors expert and scientist that our kiddos have totally loved, find it on Amazon.com here.

BTW: if you’re interested in teaching your kiddos how to grow a garden from kitchen scraps, have a look at our complete guide here.


5. Lights Out!

I’m embarrassed to admit this one came from our last power outage here and the only lights I could find was the glow from our iPads. The Todd came home and laughed at me for a good 30 minutes. Hmph! Mr. Overprepared, next time show me where you’re stashing the flashlights! Which makes a good point: do our kiddos know where to access lighting and other emergency gear if the lights are out and we are somehow separated? So we turned off the power this weekend for 24 hours and worked through where to find important items, what to eat, where to find our water storage, etc. All done under the guise of an adventure, but you know, it truly turned into a fun challenge for all of us.

Next Step: a chart with all the important information, phone numbers, and a location for all the needed supplies in the house.


I think sometimes that I underestimate my kid’s resiliency and ability to keep calm. But I know that by practicing “Let’s Pretend” scenarios, we’ve all gotten more confident about their ability to handle an emergency. We have a list of some of our favorite disaster prep gear and information on Amazon here, and here.

What about you? What tips and tricks have worked with your family? How have you prepared for the worst together? Spill! Share!



diy shamrock tree

DIY St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock Tree

shamrock tree

I’ve learned that no corner of the house goes undecorated in Zoe’s Holiday Reign Of Terror.

When I cleared our Halloween decor this year, my 9-year-old was inconsolable until I put up the Christmas finery.  No sooner was that down when I was required to present Valentine’s Day.  Now with St. Patrick’s Day approaching and fewer decor options, I created the shamelessly easy DIY Shamrock Tree.  The easy part are adhesive-back shamrocks, which put together with ribbon make nifty little ornaments.  Zoe rules at those.  It’s going okay, but I wake up in a cold sweat wondering what I’m going to decorate with for Arbor Day.

The end result is pretty and took less than an hour to put together, even with the enthusiastic assistance of a little girl.

DIY St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock Tree

st patrick's day shamrock tree



5 Best Books To Save Your Life: Disaster Preparedness

(image credit: Pixabay)

5 Best Books To Save Your Life: Disaster Preparedness. My theory in life is simple: if I’m prepared for it, it won’t happen.  I recognize this is reprehensibly naive, but there you go.  So far it’s been working for me; I haven’t died (up to date Will and life insurance policies, score!)  So, you can see it never hurts to Plan Ahead.   I suspect some of the truly awful reality series aren’t helping the cause of preparedness any–yes, “Doomsday Preppers,” I’m talking to you.  But you don’t have to be a paranoid nutjob to be concerned about the possibility of all manner of disasters. Case in point?   Here in Salt Lake City, Utah, my family is less than 70 miles from the following:

  • The wildly unstable Wasatch Fault
  • The world’s largest stockpile of nerve gas and low-level radiation dumps (thanks, local lawmakers!)
  • An atomic reactor at the University of Utah–3 blocks from my house
  • Two key military bases
  • Two massive oil refineries waiting to blow sky-high
  • And word is (allegedly) scores of nuclear weaponry “out in the desert”
  • Oh, did I mention the wildly unstable Wasatch Fault?


You can see why at this point I’m really hoping for the Zombie Apocalypse as the best of my options. Anyway, let’s get back to Planning Ahead.


5 Best Books To Change Your Life: Disaster Preparedness


Disaster Preparedness: Urban Preppers with Kids, Pets & Parents; Disaster Survival for the Family: I love James Mushen’s book because the man is clearly smack-dab in the middle of the Sandwich Generation with the rest of us.  How do I get my father from his care center and my toddler from pre-school?  Where do I put my twin’s seizure medications?  Where does my emotionally needy Portuguese Waterdog go in the roof rack?  I love those cute little booklets that apparently think we all have families with 2.5 members.

Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit: I think some of these “experts” who write these books are forgetting that we don’t all have pack mules to carry our “bug-out bags.”  The point of said bag is that you may not be able to throw it in the back of the ol’ SUV and drive off into the sunset.  Your 8 year old might have to walk while carrying one.  Author Creek Stewart seems to understand this.

The Poor Man’s Prepping Guide: How to Prepare for Disaster on a Shoestring Budget (Stay Alive): THANK YOU.  If you have the $10,000.00 or so needed to be all kitted out for the Zombie Apocalypse, please accept my congratulations and also, send me your address because we’re coming to live with YOU.  How to build what you need on a budget.

Sigh…yeah, I know we’re all sick of the “…For Dummies” book series.  But the Disaster Preparedness for Dummies book really is very good.  And simple.  And easy to follow.

Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Family Safe in a Crisis: let’s face it.  The 72-hour kit only gets you so far.  What if it’s a 2-week blackout, like with Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast?  Or the End Of Everything, like New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina?  This is an excellent guide to building a food storage system that protects your family not only during a crisis, but during illness, poverty, job loss, etc.  Now, that is preparedness.



Making Magic Wands For Halloween

Making Magic Wands For Halloween. Magic wands here at Chez Collard are a crucial part of Halloween. How can you turn that one annoying trick or treater into a toad without a good spell or two? Half the fun is creating a spooky new one every year. It’s the easiest DIY you’ll do this fall.


Most of the materials can be found in the backyard, and grab some ribbons, glass gems and whatever else is rattling around in your crafts bin and voila! Your wands!

(Editor’s note: if you like the goofy-looking eyeball thingie in the jar with the wands, it’s one of The Todd’s genius little “corn critters,” learn how to make them here. And if you need more materials for your wands, find everything you see on our Amazon page here.)

Todd & Erin’s Shop Locally Holiday Guide – Rogliano’s Italian Dressing

(Image credit: williamlind)

The Todd & Erin “Shop Locally” Holiday Guide – Rogliano’s Italian Dressing.

I have a 6’6 mountain of a brother that’s a hard-core carnivore. He was “Keto-friendly” before there was such a thing. So I buy him a case of Rogliano’s Italian Dressing every year for his Christmas gift. Aside from being ridiculously tasty, this stuff acts as a marinade … part of your crockpot meal … ribs … pasta salads … pork … sandwiches … shrimp … it even makes a perfect gourmet grilled cheese sandwich and panini when you baste dressing on your bread instead of butter.

Would you like a free bottle of Rogliano’s?

Just send us one of your recipes that’s made better with a little Rogliano’s added and we’ll send you a bottle! You can add it in the comments below or send it to: toddanderinshow@gmail.com.


But here’s why I love Rogliano’s: Jeff and Veronica.

They’re the owners of this lovely, tasty business and they’re at every local fundraiser, every community event, and they epitomize “shopping local.” Rogliano’s is carried in select local grocery stores, from Harmons, Macey’s, Lee’s, Fresh Market and Dick’s Market.  You can find all the locations that carry them here. If you don’t want to have to actually leave the house, you can order them online as well at Rogliano’s.com. There are all kinds of lovely recipes online as well, just in case you have “chef fatigue” and you can’t think of one more thing to cook. Jeff describes their tasty dressing like this:

“The recipe for Rogliano’s Italian dressing has been a family tradition since 1922. The authentic Italian taste comes straight from the old country and is not only a delicious salad dressing, but makes a great dipping sauce, seasoning or marinade that is superb for grilling.”


They’ve dressed up their bottles for the holidays, so it tucks nicely into a Christmas stocking, a gift basket (or in my gigantic brother’s case, a side of beef and a case of Rogliano’s) and part of anything that needs extra tastiness. Here’s a store locator to find your Rogliano’s fix closest to you. You can also find them on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Want to pick up a bottle in person?

Jeff and Veronica are all over the map this holiday season:

Holy Cow Christmas Boutique – Nov  20-23  – Lindon Community Center – Utah county
Simple Treasures Weber Holiday Boutique – Golden Spike Events Center – Ogden
Daybreak – Winter Market & Santa’s Arrival – Daybreak Community Center – Daybreak
It’s a Wonderful Life Festival – Dec 13-14th  Deseret Peak Complex – Grantsville (Tooele)

And, their Black Friday for case delivery for holiday gifts. It works like this…

Free delivery for our dressing famiglia! Just $3 a bottle for 12 or more bottles of either flavor. Use coupon code “famiglia” at checkout on Roglianos.com/shop. Perfect for family, friends, co-workers and even you. Offer only good through 12/1 in Salt Lake, Utah, Weber, Davis, Box Elder, Cache, Wasatch and Summit counties. Will be delivered after 12/1. #roglianos #UtahsOwn #SmallBusinessSaturday #BlackFriday #CyberMonday

Support local businesses this holiday!

Supporting Rogliano’s by throwing a boatload of bottles in your shopping cart is one of the best ways to show love a local business. The folks at Rogliano’s are here for the community at charities … holiday events … Erin’s Night Out … Look! Even Kevin (Hercules) Sorbo loves them. And so do I.

Everybody loves Rogliano’s. Even Governor and Mrs. Herbert know a local treasure when they see one.