Not-so-EXTREME Coupon Guru coming to Spark!

couponlogo

How Do They Do It?

Maybe you've seen those Facebook posts. You know, the crazy post where a friend just GOT PAID to shop. Photos posted with a carefully displayed countertop full of FREE items. Maybe you’ve given couponing a try, but gave up because it left you frazzled and overwhelmed.

How Can I Learn?

Well, Spark can help! We're bringing the renowned Amy Selleck to you. In addition to being a 'Coupon Guru', Amy is a local treasure, owning both Orlando cheapcycle.com and whosaidnothinginlifeisfree.com as well as Orlando-dailydeals.com.
In her presentations, she teaches bargain hunting secrets of the pros and gives insider tips on sales trends and clearance deals, plus you’ll discover how to get stores to pay YOU for merchandise. It’s not EXTREME couponing! Rather, there’s a focus on the importance of meal planning, stockpiling and combining coupons with sales….just in time for your Thanksgiving Feast! You’ll learn how to save thousands of dollars each year and get excited about being responsible with your budget.

When and Where?

The fun will be at our Spark! Winter Springs location, Thursday November 14th 7:00-9:00pm.

Help Spark Kids by Donating!

Have you heard about the Spark Scholarship Fund? Any donations during this event will go toward sponsoring a Spark student! Suggested donation of $5.00.

Spark’s 8 Must-Know Halloween Safety Tips!

Ladybug girl from Spootacular PNO!Now that you got through September…

Like most moms, now that the back to school frenzy has ended, you're likely in the midst of fall fundraisers from every organization imaginable.  It's hard to believe that October 31st is upon us.  Regardless of where you live, there are certain precautions recommended for parents and children alike.

8 Halloween Safety Tips

1. Partake in trick or treat activities in small groups.  Aside from the enjoyment of being with friends, there is always safety in numbers.  Do not enter the home of anyone you don't know.  .

2. Reflective tape. If you're going to be out after sundown, I cannot stress enough how imperative it is to use either reflective tape on your costume or you can pick up a simple battery operated blinking bike light that can clip on your clothing.

3. No homemade treats. While you want your children to be courteous do not allow any homemade treats to be eaten unless they've been offered by a trusted neighbor, friend or relative.  

4. Always go through any children's treats upon arriving home.  Discard any unwrapped or partially wrapped items as well as anything whose packaging looks questionable.  If their treat bags contain any apples wash and slice them rather than offering them whole.  Every year we hear more accounts of razor blades placed in the fruit.

5. When considering your child's costume which he/she may wear to school exercise discretion.  Please ensure your children dress appropriate for the environment in which they will be.  Toy knives, guns and swords should remain home and are banned in most public schools.  They can always be added for after school activities.  In addition refrain from using masks or other over the head items on your children as this presents with a suffocation risk. I cannot emphasize this enough.

6. Do not open your door to strangers after dark.  Children should never open the door at anytime without adult supervision.  If you want to rid yourself of the temptation of all those treats place them on a bowl outside your door.  The same holds true for when you no longer wish to having people ringing your bell.

7. Be cautious of nuts in treats. If you're the one offering treats, you may wish to keep anything with peanuts in a separate container.  It's not necessary but it's always a kind and appreciated gesture with severe childhood peanut allergies on the rise.  In our house I usually have spare change and small tubes of bubbles (found in the bridal aisle of most craft stores) for small children or those whose medical status prevents them from having sweets.

8. Review any rules with your children beforehand. It's also a good opportunity to remind them to use good manners by saying,"thank you". Most of all HAVE FUN!

Have some candy left over?

Now what can you do with all those candies which aren't ones they enjoy? (I personally hate black licorice).  Call your local or family dentist.  Many offices buy back candy from kids and sending the treats overseas for our military.  

By following these simple safety tips you can relax and enjoy this fun day with your family.

Journey with Spark! to Casselberry Spooktoberfest

This fall have been filled with fall festivals all over the Orlando area! Let the fun continue and journey with Spark to Casselberry's Halloween Spooktoberfest. This occasion is FREE ADMISSION and extra family friendly with costume contests, games and prizes. In fact, Casselberry is hosting a costume contest for your precious extended family member–your doggie! Come by and say hello to your favorite neighborhood Sparkmakers today!

When: Saturday, 10/25, 5-9pm
Location: 95 Triplet Lake Drive (Lake Concord Park)

Spooktoberfest Schedule
Spooktoberfest Schedule according to Casselberry Official Site.

Follow Spark! Fall Festival Trunk or Treat with Rainbow Elementary

Wooohooooo, it's Friday!! You can find Spark at Rainbow Elementary's first Trunk or Treat event today! Students from Rainbow Elementary can collect candy in a safe environment from parents and volunteers. Yipee!! So when you are done filling your goodie bag with amazing treats, stop by and say hello to your friends from Spark. Get to know us. Grab some yummy candies. Happy Friday!! 

Location: Rainbow Elementary, Friday 10/24, 6-8pm

Rainbow Trunk or Treat

 

Join Us! Winter Springs Festival of the Arts

Meet Spark this weekend at the 6th Annual Winter Springs Festival of the Arts! As you know, Spark is a huge fan of the arts and creative activties as well as awesome festivities. Come out, meet some of the Spark staff and enjoy the cultural experience. The WS Festival of the Arts is FREE ADMISSION so there's no reason not to check it out. Happening Saturday and Sunday (10/19 & 10/20) from 10am-5pm…we hope to see you there!

Winter Springs Art Festival

Location: Winter Springs Town Center (434 and Tuskawilla Rd)

 

SPARKtacular Rainbow Cupcakes

SPARKtacular Rainbow Cake

Yum!

Inspired by one of the largest rainbows I've ever seen, we decided to make our favorite rainbow cupcakes.  They're fun to make and even prettier to eat.  Of course you can make them from scratch with any white base but this is the quick version. 

 

IngredientsInspiring Rainbow

White cake mix
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 eggs, 1 egg white
4 gel food coloring colors
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Directions

Mix cake mix with eggs, oil and water
Blend until smooth with hand or stand mixer for best results
Evenly divide batter into 6 smaller bowls
add 2-4 drops gel food coloring (red, blue, yellow, green and mix red/yellow for orange and red/blue for purple.  Color intensity will vary by amount of color
Line muffin tin with foil liners
add a spoonful of batter 1 color at a time to create layers (purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, red)
Bake at 325 for 20 minutes.  Check doneness with toothpick.  

Top with any white icing.  You can also place cupcakes close together and ice in a pull apart fashion and add clusters of mini marshmallows to signify clouds.

Double Rainbow!

The Benefits of a Quality After School Program

Window of Opportunity

Children grow up in a society that demands expertise in everything. We as parents and educators cannot sit back and decide that learning from textbooks is enough for the overall development of our children. It’s the age of specialization and your child cannot afford to miss out on this window of opportunity.After school program

What Makes a "Good" After School Program?

A good after school program is usually designed to develop a talent or skill that is more intensive that what is provided at school.  These programs can be educational or recreational in nature. Whatever type they are, they basically aim to keep the child active, engaged and interested for ongoing development.

How Your Child May Benefit

Broadens Your Child's Interests

The most important advantage of a good after school program is that it widens your child’s area of interests. He or she is introduced to new things, sometimes interesting, sometimes challenging but almost always fun. Mastering a new art form or a new skill increases the child’s self-esteem. It also allows you to introduce your child to new career options. By participating in a music class she may decide that she likes it so much that she wants to become a music teacher some day. By far children who participate in enrichment activities have better attention spans and perform better academically.
 

Socialization

Socialization is another great advantage of after school programs. Children get to meet others who share their interests and make new friendships. This is particularly advantageous to children in attendance due to working parents.  They connect with similar peers and can develop bonds, which are integral in the formative years.
 

Nurturing Environment

An art or cheer class can be lots of fun, while at the same time providing a safe and nurturing environment.  Statistics show, children who partake in extracurricular actives have a decreases risk of developing destructive habits such as drugs or alcohol. In addition, studies indicate that children who are kept busy through diverse activities are less prone to abuse, depression and burnout and have better attention spans.

Wrapping It Up

The bottom line is a good after school program has many benefits. Spark’s after school programs exist for these very reasons. By providing an array of enrichment programs and frequency to meet the diverse needs of our families, we are contributing to the overall development of every child who walks through our doors.

Amazing Easy Time Saving Breakfast Recipes to Spark Your Morning

Spark your morning!

Add some SPARK to your morning; easy, time saving breakfasts.  

Part of getting back into the groove of carpools, abundance of school supplies and early mornings may also require schedule and meal adjustments.  How do you ensure you start your child with hearty breakfasts which not only avoid hunger pangs but also help them start the day with their fuel tanks full.  Studies show those who eat a protein rich breakfast focus better and do better on tests versus their carb laden counterparts.  Foods rich in whole grains and protein help curb the mid morning stomach growls.  

Breakfast Roll Ups

Whole wheat tortillas slathered with peanut butter, sliced bananas and oats make for a great brain boost breakfast that's easy to make.  Sunflower butter is a great PB substitute.  You can change this up by varying your ingredients.  As for me, my favorite is Nutella with banana and raspberry.

Eggsellent Muffins

A great protein rich breakfast you can make in advance and pop out of the freezer and into the microwave for a quick breakfast on the go.
Line a muffin tin with foil liners.
Beat 8 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
Salt & pepper to taste
This is your base.

Shoot for the Moon

The sky is the limit on what you can add to personalize them for the whole family.  Spinach and swiss?  Perhaps bacon and cheddar is more your thing.  What about mushrooms, onions and zucchini?  When adding meat always pre-cook items such as bacon, ham, sausage, turkey, etc.  These hearty egg muffins are bound to satisfy even the pickiest eater.
Once desired ingredients are added, bake at 350 for 35 minutes.  

Fall Happenings with Spark

Fall programs at SparkStarting Fall Fresh

Fall back into Family Enrichment at SPARK

With school back in swing, the staff at Spark are as excited as ever to continue the tradition of providing high quality homeschool and enrichment programs for your children.  We're excited to continue to take your feedback into account to broaden our offerings.  

Daily Homework Lab

New! Daily Homework Lab

Both our Lake Mary and Winter Springs locations are pleased to offer a daily Homework Lab from 3-5pm.  This is the ideal opportunity to give your kids that extra boost to soar this school year. 

 

Opportunities for the Big Kids (aka Parents)

Don't think we've forgotten about our adults!  Mark your calendars for the monthly Parent's Night Out, held from 6-10pm on Friday nights.  PNO seeks to give parents a night off while their children enjoy an evening of fun activities in a safe environment.  PNO is held the second Friday of the month in Lake Mary and the third Friday of the month in Winter Springs.  Look for upcoming themes to add to the fun!

Spark Studio continues to thrive and we are excited to bring you adult Latin Heat classes on Thursdays at 6pm. No prior experience is necessary but be prepared to turn the heat up a notch. It will be Muy Caliente!

Latin Heat Dance Class