top 10 NEW magazines for kids and family

new magazines for kids and family |

post contains affiliate links



new magazines for kids and family |

Friends, did you know that magazines truly count as worthwhile reading material and that they’ve come a long way in the past few years?

They do, and they have.

And also? Magazines pretty much rock.  They:

  • make super holiday or birthday gifts for children;
  • make awesome classroom donations for teachers;
  • can be a great way to offer support for preschools or daycare centers;
  • make fabulous partners for travel, waiting areas, or rest time;
  • give kids quick and engaging reading material any time of the day.

And, not surprisingly, magazines exist for just about any age group and interest.

It’s kind of funny how this post came about, but essentially, after a bit of poking around today, I’ve come across a ton of really cool new-to-me magazines. Magazines that made me do a double-take and magazines that I really, truly think my kids would love.

Here’s the skinny. .  .

Top 10 Magazines for Kids and Family:

National Geographic Kids: For ages 6 and up, this magazine is full of photos, fun facts, and articles for animal-loving kids!  Tiny posters, games, and more will keep your kids reading (and learning!). And the digital edition is awesome.  For littler guys? National Geographic Little Kids.

Muse: Tons of articles on science, nature, math, physics, space, and earth science, Muse magazine will keep curious kids engaged and interested and STEM-focused all month long.

Zoobooks: Each issue of the Zoobooks magazine focuses on one animal, bird, reptile, or insect. And each issue contains tons of info on that guy–articles, games, photos, and more. Though Zoobooks is geared toward children ages 6-12 years, it’s younger sibling, Zootles, is for preschoolers.

Faces: Children age 9 and older will learn about the world around them with Faces. Each month, a different culture is highlighted, and readers get a chance to learn firsthand about a group’s customs, habits, tales, history, and traditions. Faces is a great way to make this big world seem a little bit smaller.

BYOU: For ages 10 and older, BYOU (Be Your Own You) magazine is all about raising young girls’ self esteem; the content focuses on positive role models for girls, quizzes, puzzles, games, crafts, articles, and more. There’s a full digital edition and even online events that subscribers are invited to attend. Sounds cool!

Discovery Girls: Created for girls, by girls, Discovery Girls offers articles, advice, inspiration, and a feature called ‘Embarrassing Moments’ which young girls really seem to like.  It does seem to hit on a slightly older audience, maybe 10-13 years.

Sports Illustrated for Kids: Tweens and young teens will love this sports-focused magazine because it is humorous and informative, and it offers a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at some of the most popular current sports figures.  Each issue includes cool little sports cards that can be pulled apart, saved, or traded. Owen loves this magazine, especially for the cool online extensions.

Yum Food & Fun for Kids Magazine: This is definitely on the holiday-gift list for Maddy, Owen, and Cora. They love cooking, they love being in the kitchen, and they love trying new recipes, so I think this magazine which is

Ask: This magazine for ages 7-10 focuses on arts and science and covers a wide variety of topics that kids naturally have questions about, like the human body, science, space, and more. Another one on my holiday gift list for my crew this year.

Teen Graffiti: I’m intrigued by this magazine and think it really could be a great way to get kids writing creatively; it’s a magazine created by teens for teens, so though I’d definitely check it out before ordering a subscription, it sure seems cool for slightly older readers.

Upfront: The New York Times Upfront Magazine sounds a lot like something I would have loved reading as a tween or teen. If my English teacher or history teacher introduced this to our class, we would have eaten it up. National and international news is covered, along with a regular feature on ethics–a topic every child should think about with regularity.

magazines for kids and family long scholastic

Looking for something more content-specific? Consider something like Scholastic Math or Scholastic ArtAction (which is high interest content for lower-level readers) or Choices which offers high interest, discussion topics for teens.  these magazines or Scholastic’s Instructor are super additions to any child’s learning or classroom.

Totally worth talking to your child’s teacher about!


There really are a ton of great magazines out there today–but don’t forget to revisit some old faves if these new ones don’t do it for you. 

Highlights High Five: Very similar in layout to its older sibling, Highlights for Children, Highlights High Five is simply geared toward a preschool audience. It’s a great way to get little guys ready for reading, looking forward to the mail, and feeling like they have something ‘just their size’ to read each month!

Highlights for Children: Children ages 6-11 will love this magazine which includes articles, puzzles, stories, and poems to keep kids challenged and thinking creatively.

We are huge, huge fans of Highlights and have even shared our Magazine Hunt Cards and Hidden Picture lunchbox notes.



What are your favorite magazines for kids and family? What should we add to this list? I’d love to know! Leave your ideas in the comments section below.


fyi: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Forever and always I recommend only products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy.

what to consider when choosing a school for your child: parent checklist

find the best school for your kids |

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find the best school for your kids |


Now that my kids are 11, 10, and 8 years old (gasp!), I feel like there’s a lot I wish I would have known when it came to choosing schools for my children.

Believe me, we’re not even close to the finish line, and I’m not wishing time away. But looking back, there was a whole lot I didn’t know school shopping before my own kids hit Kindergarten.

There’s really a lot to consider.

So I’ve created a quick and easy parent check sheet to make things (hopefully!) easier for folks down the road.

Here’s the skinny. . .

What to Consider When Choosing a School for Your Child–Parent Checklist:

I’ll admit it. My husband slept out in his car overnight in order to get Maddy on the list for her preschool at 2 1/2 years old.

And though we loved the school, what we didn’t know was how class enrollment would chosen the next year. And what happened was that Maddy’s name was put in a lottery, and her name was picked for the afternoon class.

find the best school for your kids |

With a 1 year old and another baby on the way, an afternoon start would not work for our family.

So we had to pick up and move schools. Had I known this is how enrollment for the 3’s classes was handled, would I have started there? I’m not even sure.

Here are some questions I’d suggest you look into finding answers to before your littles start school:


  • How far is the school?
  • How long is the commute?
  • How easy is parking?
  • Does the school feel welcoming?
  • Are classrooms clean, airy, and open?


  • How often will class meet?
  • How long is the class day?
  • Are there before care or aftercare options?
  • Are there ‘lunch bunch’ options?

find the best school for your kids |

find the best school for your kids |


  • Are the teachers state-certified educators?
  • How often do the teachers have professional development opportunities?
  • What is the teacher-student ratio?
  • Are parent volunteers permitted in the classroom?
  • What safety precautions are taken at the school?  Are all teachers and volunteers fingerprinted and given background checks?
  • Who is the director, and what is his/ her background?


  • How are classes organized?  What is the daily schedule?
  • What is the school’s educational philosophy?
  • How do I feel about school’s educational philosophy?
  • Are lessons age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate?
  • Does the school take field trips?

find the best school for your kids |


  • Are doors locked after drop-off? What is the sign-in/ sign-out procedure?
  • How is tuition processed each month?
  • Is there a discount for paying in full, upfront?
  • What is the sibling discount?
  • What are my fundraising obligations?
  • How are snacks handled–by the school or by parents?
  • What is the school’s allergy policy?
  • How does the school handle birthdays? Holidays?
  • What is the school’s potty training policy?
  • How does the school handle hitting/ biting/ bullies?


Would it be easier to have these questions on a quick and easy printable?

find the best school for your kids |

school search checklist _


You can download it here: school search checklist _


Back to school time is an exciting for so many families. Making sure that you choose the right school for your child is key so that your child–and you!–walk into the new year feeling ready and revived.


Need a good place to start? Look for a Childtime in your area, and schedule a visit.

Childtime. Opening Minds. Unleashing Imaginations.


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Learning Care Group. The opinions and text are all mine.

talk with kids about emotions: ‘inside out’ mini-book and card game

talk with kids about emotions: |

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talk with kids about emotions: |

With an 11, 9, and 8 year old, you’d think that we would be over talking about and identifying emotions over here, but we’re not.

In fact, after watching the Disney*Pixar film, Inside Out with my family this summer–and getting a sneak peek of the movie at the Disney Social Media Moms Conference–I realized that as we move swiftly toward the teen years, understanding and talking about emotions is more important than ever.

So I created this cute little Inside Out Mini-Book and card game.

It features the five characters from Inside Out with some space to add some new ones. No, you guys, I’m not asking you to invent new characters for the movie.

Rather, I’m talking about adding other faces for emotions that weren’t included in the movie–emotions that your kids are experiencing.

It’s all about using the movie as a teaching tool. Let’s not just watch the movie and be done with it.

Let’s watch it with our kids and use it as a continued, constant anchor for conversations about emotions.

For real.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Talk With Kids About Emotions–‘Inside Out’ Mini Book and Card Game: 

I’ve shared in the past how important it is to talk with kids about their emotions because when kids can pinpoint how they’re feeling–and share it with their parents–precious time and energy is spared.

And we, as parents, can better support our little loves.

However, identifying emotions is a lot easier for some kids than others–which is no surprise for any parent reading this, I’m sure.  Identifying emotions is sometimes difficult for adults, too, right?

So here’s what we’re doing–

1. First of all, we watched Inside Out.

If you haven’t heard, Inside Out is kind of an interesting, unusual movie. It takes place in the ‘command center’ of 11-year-old Riley’s mind. Rile deals with all of the things that most tweens deal with on top of a big move from her home in the midwest to San Francisco.

With each step and decision, Riley’s emotions–Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust–play important roles.  It’s so unique, it’s unbelievable. We loved this movie, and not just because we have an 11-year-old girl under our roof. This movie rocks.

Check out the trailer below, or head to the theater if you haven’t already seen it.

Like it and want a bit more?

2. We created the Inside Out Mini-Book.

The mini-book isn’t something we’ve taken out every single day and read through; it’s not like that.

talk with kids about emotions: |

talk with kids about emotions: |

It’s really just a little, quick flip book with each character–Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust–each on a page.  I kept it small because my kids love tiny things and because I want it to be small enough to fit in my purse, a backpack, or a desk drawer.

I also left a few pages blank aside from an open circle. Here, I figured we could draw in faces of emotions that we want to include.

talk with kids about emotions: |

talk with kids about emotions: |


You can download the Inside Out Mini-Book here: mini emotion cards _

inside out mini book

mini emotion cards _


If you choose to share this document–and we hope you do!–please consider sharing this post instead of the attachment page. Thank you!

And the cool thing is that if you’re not into the Inside Out Mini-Book, then you can totally print out the cards and play Inside Out Memory with them instead.

Just print out the pages on cardstock so you can’t see through them and play.

talk with kids about emotions: |

talk with kids about emotions: |

talk with kids about emotions: |

Really. Super-simple.

And a great way to use what you’ve seen in a top-notch movie for continued learning at home.

It doesn’t matter what you play or how you play it. Just keep the cards–or book–out and the conversation flowing.


3. We will continue the conversation. 

Really, emotions are something to talk about continually with kids. And it’s important to stress that no emotions are wrong–that it’s okay to feel sad one day and joyful the next, that it’s normal to feel angry one minute and fearful another.

It’s about learning how to deal with those emotions when they arrive on the scene that’s the hard part.

pixar producer inside out |

The cool thing is that the producers of Inside Out really, truly put so much more time, effort, and energy into developing this movie than you’ll ever know. 

At the Disney Social Media Moms Conference, we had the chance to hear first-hand from the producer about how much time they put into its development.

Did you know that the whole movie began because of the changes that writer Pete Docter noticed in his own 11-year old daughter? Really. He wanted to figure out what was going on in her brain and what sparked the changes he was noticing.

Check out the photos below of producer Jonas Rivera explaining the background of Inside Out:

pixar producer inside out |

pixar producer inside out |

pixar producer inside out |

pixar producer inside out |

pixar producer inside out |

. . . and here he talks about the development and creation of characters:

pixar producer inside out |

pixar producer inside out |

pixar producer inside out |

pixar producer inside out |

pixar producer inside out |

pixar producer inside out |


It’s a movie well worth seeing, friends. But even more than that, it’s worth using as a continued opportunity to chat with our kids about emotions!


fyi: I am proud to be a part of the Fandango Family Digital Network and will share a movie-related post quarterly. Parents, check out the deets on Cinderella, including information about the cast and crew, from our friends at Fandango.   Share your #fandangofamily moments for others to see, or check out the Fandango Family Facebook page for fun posts and contests.

I am proud to work with Disney as well. All of the Cinderella images are courtesy of Disney.  Thank you!

smart apps for busy families: get ready for back to school! #BTSTech chat

smart apps for busy families: get ready for back to school! #BTSTech chat

smart apps for busy families: get ready for back to school! #BTSTech chat

I can’t even believe it, friends, but (gulp!) school is around the corner.

And before we know it, our schedules will be kicked into high gear. Afternoons and evenings will be filled with homework, activities, projects, meetings, and more, and our lazy days of summer will be a quickly fading memory.

But guess what?

There are a ton of apps out there that can really simplify your life and make your kids’ screen time more productive. Really.

And to get an early jump on the back to school rush, I’ll be chatting about these apps and more on twitter this week. And I want you to join me!

On Thursday July 23 at 8pm ET, join the #BTSTech chat and learn some great tips for how technology can simplify your life as your kids head back to school.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Smart Apps for Busy Families–Get Ready for Back to School! #BTSTech chat

We’ll be giving away some great prizes, too, this week, but first, RSVP below.  Then you’ll be entered to win an Early Bird prize. Woot!

And even more prizes will be awarded during the Twitter event itself.  I am so very excited, my friends.

smart apps for busy families: get ready for back to school! #BTSTech chat



We’ll be chatting about how technology can simplify parents’ lives in the back to school season. We’ll also be chatting about:

  • how technology affects parenting;
  • how to monitor and keep your kids safe online;
  • the best apps to use for kids and parents, and much more!


Because everyone wants life a bit more simple and everyone could use a few new tricks in their back pockets!


Twitter! ( #BTSTech


Thursday, July 23 at 8 pm Eastern / 7 pm Central / 5 pm Pacific


  1. Before the event, rsvp below
  2. On 7.23.15, log onto twitter
  3. Follow the hashtag #BTSTech
  4. Tweet, re-tweet (RT), and tweet some more!
  5. Optional: Share YOUR fave photos, tips, tricks, and ideas for how technology can make our lives easier when it comes to back to school!


smart apps for busy families: get ready for back to school! #BTSTech chat

BEFORE the Twitter Party: 

  • 1 Early Bird Prize Winner who RSVPs and tweets about #BTSTech will win a free school uniform for his/her child (1 top & 1 bottom) AND a $50 Visa Gift Card for back to school supplies.

DURING the Twitter Party: 

  • 5 Winners each will win a free school uniform for his/her child (1 top & 1 bottom).
  • 1 Grand Prize winner will win a year’s worth of school uniforms AND a $100 Visa Gift Card for back to school supplies.

AFTER the Twitter Party: 

  • Stay tuned for an additional giveaway post for another giveaway prize of a year’s worth of school uniforms.

 smart apps for busy families: get ready for back to school! #BTSTech chat

Helpful hints for twitter events: 

  • use tweetchat ( to make it easier for you
  • visit the panelists’ sites and bring questions, comments or concerns to the event
  • visit our Twitter event how-to for answers to your Twitter event questions.
  • make sure you are following the hosts so you don’t miss a beat!

We look forward to chatting with you on Thursday, July 23th, and we are psyched to connect with you!

smart apps for busy families: get ready for back to school! #BTSTech chat

smart apps for busy families: get ready for back to school! #BTSTech chat

Do your kids wear school uniforms?

Fortunately, the trend of school uniforms is growing to many schools across the nation. And our sponsor has been providing quality official school wear to schools for the past 15 years.

Their uniforms range in size from children’s size 4 to Young Men’s and Juniors including special husky, slim and plus sizes.

French Toast uses only high quality fabrics, and their uniforms are distributed through well-known stores throughout the country as well as available online.

Find them online at:

RSVP and Tweet Now

If you will be joining the party, RSVP below and Tweet now with #BTSTech and you’ll be entered to win a free school uniform for your child (1 top & 1 bottom).

[Tweet “I’ll be at #BTSTech Smart Apps for Busy Families Twitter Party w @FrenchToastcom July 23, 8pm ET”]

We’ll also send you an email reminder the day of the party.

Add your Twitter Handle below:
Example Link Text: @5minutesformom
Example URL:


fyi: I’m being compensated for my role as a Twitter Party panelist by French Toast, but as always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator. 

get kids to play outside: 4 tips for summertime playground fun

get kids to play outside

get kids to play outside


Sometimes, getting kids to play outside is no easy feat, especially in the summer.

Because here in the DC Metro area, it’s hot.

It’s hot. Hot.

It’s muggy.

It’s oppressive.

When the sun’s beating down, the heat’s suffocating, and the last thing my kids want to do is go and play outside.

But last week, two friends and I got our big kids and little kids outside, playing, and having fun. Old-school style.

Free-bird, playing outdoors in the summertime.

We had some serious playground fun thanks to our friends at Clif Kids, and you can too. Get your kids to play outside, enjoying some summertime playground fun with these four tips.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Get Kids to Play Outside–Summertime Playground Fun: 

These days, it can be hard to get kids engaged in screen-free activities where their bodies are moving and where they’re using their imaginations and getting their creative ideas flowing.

However, it doesn’t take much to get kids to play outside.  These four things may help:

get kids to play outside |

get kids to play outside |

1.  Friends

Invite a few friends to join you!  Send an email, a text, or make a quick call.  If you have more than one child, reach out to 2-3 friends each.

Just a quickie invite will do:

Hey friend! Our family is planning on packing some drinks and snacks and will be heading to [insert park and location] on [date and time]. 

We’d love for you to join us for some old-fashioned outdoor fun! If your child needs a ride, I’m happy to pick her up! 

Let me know if you think this will work. We’d love to see you!

get kids to play outside |

get kids to play outside |

2.  Food

Food always makes an event, right? At least in our family it does.

Park playdate snacks don’t have to be elaborate or fancy. Really.

get kids to play outside |

get kids to play outside |

get kids to play outside |

This is all you need: 

get kids to play outside |


get kids to play outside |

get kids to play outside |

3.  A Few Simple Toys

Kids don’t need much, but if you’re having a hard time getting them out the door to play, then maybe some toys will help to kick-start the fun.

Go to the dollar store. Go to the thrift shop. Visit yard sales.

Don’t spend a fortune.

But consider grabbing things like:

Set the toys out and let the kids at ’em!

get kids to play outside |

get kids to play outside |

get kids to play outside |

4. Fun, New Surroundings

You guys, there are so many parks, playgrounds and nature centers around that we don’t even know about. All it takes is a little bit of research, and I’m betting you’ll find a fun, new park to explore.

Send a note to a local moms club, a church, girl scouts or boy scouts, library, or preschool if you aren’t sure about it, and I’m betting they’ll have a list for you.

And if there’s nothing around, even a pal’s backyard can be a fun place to play and explore.

Really. Give it a go!

get kids to play outside 2

Check out some cool ideas for getting kids outdoors, thanks to our friends at CLIF Kid!

Many of us have heard of CLIF Bars, but did you know that CLIF makes a line of healthy snacks for kids? I didn’t, either.

But they do.  CLIF Kid makes nutritious snacks for kids’ growing bodies with no high fructose corn syrup, synthetic preservatives or artificial flavors.  The snacks are really, really good.

And CLIF is all about getting kids outside and playing–moving their bodies, having fun, and exploring.

get kids to play outside |

get kids to play outside |

And to do that, they’ve created some awesome resources for parents:

Our Summertime Spraypark Playdate got us all outdoors and unplugged here in the DC Metro area. 

Last week, my pals Jessica McFadden of A Parent in Silver Spring and A Parent in America, Stacey Ferguson of Life is the Party and the Blogalicious Conference, and I gathered a bunch of our friends together for some good, old-fashioned outdoor fun.

get kids out to play | jessica mcfadden, amy mascott, stacey ferguson


get kids out to play | jessica mcfadden, amy mascott, stacey ferguson

We simply sent out an evite to our neighborhood pals, pool pals, school pals, and work pals and invited everyone to join us for an afternoon at the Spraypark in Silver Spring. It was an absolute blast.

It was just a quick get-together where our kids were able to play freely, splash in the water, and enjoy some healthy snacks thanks to our friends at CLIF Kids.

Check out our photos:


Huge thanks to our friends at CLIF Kids for providing the snacks. Not a single thing was left–the kids and parents loved them, and for two straight hours, all our kids did was play. 

It was awesome.


How will you get your kids outdoors, moving, and refueling in a healthy way this summer? I’d love to hear it!

Share your ideas below, or continue the conversation with others by following the hashtag: #outtoplay

Check out CLIF Kids on whichever social media platform suits your fancy:  facebook |  twitter  |  YouTube  |  instagram


fyi: This post was written as a partnership between CLIF Kid and One2One Network. As always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator and by my three little splash park splashers. 

haircare stress and kids: eliminate the stress with these three tips

stress free haircare for kids |

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stress free haircare for kids |

I have always been a fan of short hair on little girls.


I just think it’s super cute and easy and fun. I kept Maddy and Cora’s hair short with little bangs for years and years, which is why now, they insist on having long, long, forever long hair.

They always want long hair. Always want to wear it down. Always takes 20 extra minutes in the morning to get the perfect pony or perfect braid, and it causes a boatload of stress.

Thankfully we’ve got a few ways that can help eliminate–or control–haircare stress.

Three tips that I really, truly think will help your familia.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Haircare Stress and Kids– Eliminate Stress with These 3 Tips:

Now, be aware that eliminating is a strong word and that it may take a little bit of time, effort, and energy on everyone’s part before the stress of haircare is totally eliminated. But know that with a few little ‘tweaks’, haircare stress can at least be controlled.

1.  The Fancy Brush.  

haircare stress and kids:

haircare stress and kids |

You can read all about the Fancy Brush here.

Though we’ve graduated from the Fancy Brush to the Wet Brush, both girls have one of their own, and they both do take good care of them.


2.  The Products.

haircare stress and kids | socozy

We have only been introduced to this line of products recently, but we have fallen hard for them: SoCozy haircare for kids.

The SoCozy line is a line of haircare products for kids created by Cozy Friedman, the owner of Cozy’s Cuts for Kids, which is a premier children’s hair salon in New York.  Fancy, right? The thing is, they’re actually solid products that really work.

According to Cora, the combination of Cinch and Behave makes the perfect pony. She’s been using the combo herself for the last few days.

haircare stress and kids | socozy

haircare stress and kids | socozy

Haircare products not your thing? It’s cool. I get it.

Then at least check out SoCozy Boo! Boo! is lice prevention shampoo, and the description is a riot: scares away lice. . . naturally. I’ll take it. Sign me up.

Can there be a rule that every kid in school must use SoCozy Boo!?  Please?

Take a quick look at a professional stylist telling me how she made Cora’s perfect ballerina bun:

We had the chance to hang out with the Cozy Friedman at a local event last week at Make Meaning in Bethesda.

It was a ton of fun.

stress free haircare for kids | teach mama

stress free haircare for kids | teach mama

stress free haircare for kids | teach mama

stress free haircare for kids | teach mama

stress free haircare for kids | teach mama

Check out all of the photos from our event:

Cozy Friedman first opened Cozy’s Cuts For Kids, a premiere children’s hair salon aimed at redefining the entire children’s haircut experience, in 1992.

Now, 20 years and multiple salons later, Friedman introduces SoCozy salon formulas for kids – the first ever premium line of hair care products made with the finest ingredients gentle enough for kids. Offering non-toxic products with no parabens, sulfates, phthalates, synthetic color, propylene glycol and free of gluten, wheat and nuts that perform at a salon level with packaging that appeals to kids and parents alike.

SoCozy celebrates all hair types and solves a range of common hair care problems faced by children. For more info visit


3. The Nighttime Ponytail.

haircare stress and kids | pony


Really, this is the most simple tip ever: have your kids sleep in ponytails at night.

It’s amazing how much it helps eliminate hair chaos in the mornings. Fewer tangles.  Hair manageable.  Happier kids.  Happier parents.

And? If the girls want to get a little crazy, make it a braid at night with damp hair. The waves will make just about any Disney Channel star green with envy.


How do you manage haircare stress for your kids? What works, and what doesn’t? I’d love to know!

Do you want to see if SoCozy and the crew are making your way to an event in your town?

Check out the SoCozy blog | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram  | Pinterest


fyi: This is a sponsored post, written as a partnership with SoCozy and Target. As always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator and a mom whose had her fair share of haircare stress–with kids who are only 11, 9, 8 years old. 

kings dominion: family-friendly amusement park in the dc metro area

family friendly kings dominion |

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family friendly kings dominion |

We did it.

We took the leap.

We visited Kings Dominion with our kids this weekend.

And? It was awesome.

My husband and I hadn’t been there in years, so we weren’t sure what to expect.  But we were pleasantly surprised.

Not only was Kings Dominion clean and totally beautiful, it was seriously more family-friendly than we expected. There was something for everyone, and my kids (11, 9, and 8 years old) are raring for a return visit–already.

Need a few reasons to take the trip to Doswell, Virgina–20 miles north of Richmond and 75 miles south of DC–to experience it for yourself?

Here’s the skinny. . .

Kings Dominion– Family-Friendly Amusement Park in the DC Metro Area

Here are my top 5 reasons families should take a trip to Kings Dominion this season:


1. It’s beautiful and clean.  

family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |

Really. Gorgeous flowers. Green grass everywhere. Fountains, shops, restaurants– and restrooms!– all super clean.

It was something that my husband and I noted multiple times–we’d look at each other and comment about how beautiful the park was.

And I don’t even think it was that we were so grateful to be outdoors on a perfect spring day; the park really, truly is beautiful.

family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |


2. The color band bracelets make ride decisions easier.

family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |

The minute we arrived, we walked into a Height Guide station almost immediately, and this sweet gal was handing out bracelets to kids based on their height.

I loved it–it made deciding which rides Maddy, Owen, and Cora were permitted to ride much, much easier.

family friendly kings dominion |

Turns out that our kids were able to ride just about everything they wanted, which made the whole day totally stress-free.

The height guide is available on the website, so you can even measure your kids at home and plan accordingly.


3. Super-fun concert and event series. 

We were thrilled that the day we went to the park, Debby Ryan (think: Jessie, from Disney channel) and her band, The Never Ending, was playing.

family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |

Our friends at Kings Dominion arranged for us to even meet her, which was an absolute treat for Maddy, Owen, and Cora.

They met Debby Ryan! And Debby Ryan was delightful. So sweet. So kind. So great with the kids.

family friendly kings dominion |


family friendly kings dominion |


We had a blast watching the show, and it was a huge highlight of our family’s spring break.

And honestly, the concert was free with park admission. So it was cool–everyone kind of moseyed on over around 5:30 for the 6pm concert. Great outdoor venue. So fun.

family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |


But this concert is just the beginning of the fun during the Spring Bloom Festival at the park; there’s a ton of other things planned this season:

  • Choo Choo Soul – For the younger ones, Choo Choo Soul is a children’s entertainment act featuring a hip-hop train conductor and her partner, a dancer and beatboxer dressed as a railroad engineer. The concert is free with park admission. Seating is limited and available on a first come, first served basis. Choo Choo Soul will perform at the Peanut’s Showplace Theater on Sunday, April 19 at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Spring Bloom: An International Culinary Celebration – Take a culinary trip around the world with Kings Dominion’s Executive Chef! New food stations and restaurants will feature international food items from Switzerland, Italy, Jamaica, and many more! These delicious delicacies will be created using fresh spring ingredients from local Virginia farms.
  • Live Entertainment – Strap on your dancing shoes and enjoy toe-tapping entertainment from local Country and Bluegrass bands every weekend!
  • Happy Birthday KD! – Kings Dominion opened over the course of two years, with the official grand opening on May 3, 1975. Time to cut the cake and blow out the candles as the park officially turns 40 on May 3, 2015. The day will be filled with surprises, entertainment and more!

I love that there are things other than just rides to explore here.

4. Activities for all ages. 

It’s no secret that Cora is not a fan of big roller coasters. She, like her mama, prefers the lazy river type of rides. So when we discovered Planet Snoopy, we were both in friendly kings dominion |


family friendly kings dominion |


family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |


Planet Snoopy is a PEANUTS™ happy area filled with 18 rides designed for entire families to enjoy together. These aren’t all ‘baby rides’ mind you; a few were rated ‘moderate thrill’ level 3, and I thought they were a little crazy.  The whole area was well-organized, and I liked that after a while we started seeing the same faces of kids and parents. It gave this big park a ‘small park’ feel.

Maddy, Owen, and their dad enjoyed some crazy fast and furious rides while Cora and I were rolling more slowly, and they loved every second of it.

family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |

They rode just about every big coaster they could, and after a while all the names started to sound the same to me. All I know is that they proudly survived the Intimidator 305, the ‘tallest, fastest, and most thrilling roller coaster on the East Coast’.  All I can say is thank goodness I wasn’t standing there watching them.

5. Great food choices. 

Food is huge for our family. We love food.

family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |

And especially when we’re out and about, we like to have great food choices to keep us going.

Huge surprise to us was that Chick-fil-A® was there. Panda Express® and Rita’s® was there. Starbucks® and Subway® was there. There were a ton of really great options, and this is just the start–there were some super spots for sweet treats and sit-down meals as well.

Check out all of our photos from the day:

Do you want to get in on the fun, even if you’re far away?

Overall, we were impressed. It was an awesome, awesome day at Kings Dominion.

Have you been there? Have you tried it? Anything in particular that you loved or didn’t love? I’d love to hear it!


fyi: Huge and happy thanks to the team at Kings Dominion for extending an invitation to the park and the Debby Ryan Meet & Greet to our family and then asking me to write about the experience. As always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator.

teach kids workforce appreciation: celebrating those who make our day brighter

teach kids workforce appreciation |

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teach kids workforce appreciation |

We have always taught our kids to be thankful for each and every person who makes our day a little brighter.

And those people include family and friends, neighbors and teachers, but it also includes our newspaper deliverer, and the grocery cashier. Our dry cleaner and mail carrier and the folks who take away our recyclables and trash.

We could be pretty cranky if we had to cut the grass at our favorite playground, so we are thankful for the people who manage the grounds.

We’d be miserable if we had to cut Brady’s fur, but thanks to our groomer, we don’t have to.

When our garage door breaks? Thankfully, we have someone to call. If we need help adding a new light fixture?  The electrician can come lend a hand.

All of these people help to make our day brighter.

All of these people are part of our workforce and deserve to be celebrated.

And it’s really something that needs to be explicitly taught–or modeled–to our children.  Three easy ways, friends.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Teach Kids Workforce Appreciation–Celebrating Those Who Make Our Day Brighter: 

Here are three easy ways that parents can help instill an appreciation for all those in the workforce:

1. Model gratitude and thanks for those in the workforce.

teach kids workforce appreciation 1

This is super simple: say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to those people who help you at checkout lines, who support you on the phone, who greet you as you walk into stores, and who perform service-related tasks.

So often I see people forgetting this simple act of kindness, acting as if the work that these folks do is not as important as it is.

Hopefully, we can change that by modeling gratitude.


2.  Teach children about all jobs so that they know how hard others work.

teach kids workforce appreciation 1

When we know better, we do better, right? Take time to really teach kids about all different types of jobs so that they learn how valued each and every job really is.

This, too, is easier than you think.

Check out the “1 in one hundred million” site–it’s a site devoted to sharing the personal stories of people who do the many important and too-often unrecognized jobs upon which we all rely.  Here, ordinary people in the workforce share their story.

I love it.

Created by Kronos, each month “1 in one hundred million” site releases a new video profiling a person’s story. They’ve covered a firefighter, a trauma nurse, a produce manager at grocery store, a union electrician, a hotel front desk agent, a restaurant server, a teacher, and a baseball bat maker, who was a former MLB pitcher.

celebrating all jobs in the workforce 3

celebrating all jobs in the workforce 3

I love that this series profiles just one of the one hundred million, often under-appreciated, people in the workforce. Hopefully this series will help everyone to better appreciate those people who often make our day brighter.

Find out more about this cool campaign here:  |  #1in100MM |  #WorkforceStories

3.  Take some local, behind-the-scenes field trips.

teach kids workforce appreciation 1

I know this option isn’t always an option depending on where you live, but this is one of my kids’ fondest memories of growing up: take local field trips.

For years I wrote about how we took ‘behind the scenes’ tours of our local pizza place, fire station, flower shop, and recycling center. We visited so many places with our moms’ group that I truly believe it helped show my kids how important our community members really were.

Often, all you need to do is give the business a quick call beforehand, and the people there are more than excited to show a family around. Try it.


How do you help to show your kids that everyone in the workforce deserves to be appreciated? I’d love to hear it!




2547-201503241952345821fyi: This post was written as part of a partnership with Find Your Influence, and as always, ideas and opinions are all my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator. Find out more at 1 in one hundred million. Subscribe so you don’t miss any of their videos!


egg dying 101: making egg dying as mess-free, easy, and FUN as possible for families

egg dying 101 cover

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egg dying 101 cover

Many parents rank egg dying up there with pumpkin carving: a highly-anticipated activity that often results in a huge mess, complete with crying kids and frustrated parents.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. At all.

In fact, I have a few tricks for you that will make egg dying as mess-free, easy, and fun as possible for families.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Egg-Dying 101–Making Egg-Dying as Mess-Free, Easy, and FUN as Possible for Families:

It’s not rocket science, friends. In fact, these few steps will make

1. Have your tools and workspace ready.

egg dying 101 |

egg dying 101 |

You’ll need the following:

  • eggs! (We usually shoot for 6-10 eggs per child.)
  • egg dye tablets
  • plastic tablecloth
  • water
  • color cups
  • vinegar
  • whisk
  • PAAS egg dipper
  • paper towels
  • wire drying rack and/or egg dying box (did you know it doubles as a drying rack?)

Set up your work space.

egg dying 101  teachmama.com1. To determine which dye tablet belongs in which color cup, gently rub the tablet on a damp paper towel. SUPER cool tip, right?

2. Then place the proper tablet in its matching egg cup: blue tablet in blue cup, yellow in yellow cup, etc.

3. Dissolve the dye tablets by adding 1 Tablespoon of vinegar to each egg cup–EXCEPT THE PINK CUP!  The pink dye is more vibrant without vinegar–who knew?  And? Your welcome for that second really cool tip.egg dying 101

4. Once the dye tablet is dissolved, fill each color cup with water up to the line midway (about 1/2 cup).  Now the egg dyes are ready to go!

5. Dye eggs by dipping them one at a time into the egg dye and moving the egg around a bit with the egg dipper. The longer the egg sits in the dye, the more vibrant the color.

6. When eggs are the desired color, remove the egg from the dye and blot the excess with a paper towel.

7. Place on the drying rack and allow egg to dry completely!


2.  Make it easy for kids. 

A few tips for making egg-dying easy for kids:

Model for kids how to properly dye eggs so that we’re setting them up for egg-dying success!

egg dying 101

Show kids how to use the egg dipper–the smaller, skinnier end of the egg goes into the hole!  It does require balance, but it’s a great way to work on this skill!

egg dying 101

Let kids use a whisk to dip eggs into the dye if the egg dipper is too challenging.

Surprisingly enough, the egg can go in and out of the whisk very easily!


egg dying 101

Make sure kids have a sturdy spot to hold the eggs while decorating.

Whether it’s the egg stands that come in the decorating kit or whether you make your own–see below–the idea is that the eggs are still while kids are creating. This removes a ton of stress for our little ones!

Remember, too, that if the whole-egg dying is too much, that parents can dye eggs first and allow children to decorate them–kind of like letting kids put the icing a cake!

egg dying 101

Try using PAAS Monogram stickers to personalize eggs and to celebrate kids’ initials.  Consider even giving each person in the family another person for whom they should decorate an egg.

For example, I might decorate an egg for Owen; Owen would do one for Maddy; Maddy would do one for Cora; Cora would do one for her dad, and her dad would do one for me. Or something like that.

The only rule is that the person’s egg must be clearly theirs. So you could put the person’s name on it, initials on it, in some way personalizing the egg for the other person.

egg dying 101 |

egg dying 101 |

Or use the PAAS Color Sticks for super-easy and vibrant decorating with the snap of a stick!

Seriously, you just snap these little sticks up where you see the line, and then you let the dye run to the opposite end.

And then? The decorating fun begins–vibrant, rich colors via a tool that makes writing, drawing, doodling, and creating– easy!

egg dying 101

egg dying 101

egg dying 101

egg dying 101

egg dying 101

3.  Make it fun. 

Above all, egg-dying should be fun!

So remember:

egg dying 101

egg dying 101 |

Use the often-forgotten ‘magic’ crayon!

That little wax crayon is used to draw on eggs before they get dunked in the dye. When they come out of the dye, the wax has created a resist, so whatever was drawn will not be dyed.

The ‘magic crayon’ is a great tool to use to practice writing letters, shapes, numbers, and names!

egg dying 101 cover

Play with color blending! Encourage kids to mix colors, experiment with color shading, and try new things!

Use stickers!  Most egg dying sets come with stickers. Use them to decorate already painted eggs, or use them to block off color before you dye the eggs for a different type of color resist.

egg dying 101 |

Remember that your eggs will not be–and do not have to be–perfect!

Especially when you add a few kids to the mix, egg dying is perfectly imperfect, friends. The good news is that with the help of some great quality egg dying products, your eggs will look great no matter what!

egg dying 101 |

egg dying 101 |

Other fun PAAS egg-dying facts:

  • PAAS turns 135 in 2015!
  • PAAS was established in 1880 by William Townley in his New Jersey drug store. He sold packets of egg dye to neighbors and the company grew from
  • Townley named the company PAAS after the Dutch word for Easter, Pasan.   So PAAS literally means Easter!

Check out a quick PAAS video on egg dying:


Hope this helps, friends, and hope it makes egg dying as mess-free, easy, and fun as possible!

What are your tips for egg dying? I’d love to hear them!

Do you have questions about egg dying or the PAAS products? They’ve been around for 135 years. They know egg dying!

Connect with them and learn more: PAAS website | PAAS YouTube channel | PAAS Facebook page



fyi: I was asked by the good people at PAAS to share a bit about egg decorating with my readers, and I was happy to do so. I cannot remember an Easter that I didn’t use PAAS egg dyes on my Easter eggs, so of course it was a natural fit. PAAS egg dying kits are as much a part of Easter for my family as are daffodils and jellybeans. Though I was given PAAS products to try, as always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator and lifetime user of PAAS products! 

must-have conversation after taking kids to see cinderella

must-have conversation after taking your kids to see cinderella

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must-have conversation after taking your kids to see cinderella

Last Friday, we saw Cinderella.

The new and improved Cinderella from Disney.

And it was gorgeous. It was beautiful.

From start to finish, the characters were beautiful, the setting was beautiful. The dress. The dress was beautiful. The glass slippers? Beautiful.

And the end? It’s picture-perfect.

It’s a fairy tale ending, just like we all wanted.

Every little girl I know will want to see it. Over and over and over and over and over again.

Which is why I truly believe that there’s a must-have conversation every family must have after taking kids to see Cinderella.

Here’s the skinny. . .

The Must-Have Conversation Every Family Must Have After Taking Kids to See Cinderella: 

First, let me be clear: I get Cinderella.

I know the story.

I saw the animated movie.

I have shared them both with my kids well before we saw the new movie. I know it’s a fairy tale, and I know how it ends.

And I’m not expecting miracles.

But perhaps Elsa is fresh on my mind since we’re all still defrosting from Frozen fever.  Elsa was a rockstar in the way she works out her personal struggles without the help of anyone other than her sister.  And in the end, she learns to control her powers and run a country.

Maybe I just over-loved Tiana who saves pennies in a cofollows her lifelong dream to open a restaurant.  As an entrepreneur, I want my girls to know that they can do anything they set their mind to.

Brave’s Merida was so full of adventure and drive, and I loved her refusal to fit into her family’s preconceived molds.  She set out to follow her own destiny, learning some serious life lessons along the way.

Are these three Disney princess perfect? Not at all. But they’re fresh on my mind, being that they are the more recent additions to the Disney princess club.

As we were walking out of the theater last week, after hearing all of the oooooohs and ahhhhhhhs and wishful conversations among movie-goers, I wanted to remind all of the parents to talk to their daughters about a few things.  Really.

Please parents, after watching Cinderella, tell your daughters:

You are beautiful.

You. Are. Beautiful.

Your healthy body is beautiful. You have strong legs that take you everywhere, that allow you to run, jump, flip, bike, ice-skate, rollerskate, and play.  You have strong arms that you use to build structures, make forts, string bracelets, paint pictures, and design your dreams; your arms and hands allow you to write notes, type stories, do handstands and cartwheels.

God gave you one body, and you take care of it well.  You. Are. Beautiful.

must-have conversation after taking kids to see cinderella | 1

You are smart.

You. Are. Smart.

You read, you listen, and you think. You are questioning and curious. You work hard on your homework until you understand it, and you take your school work seriously. You are a coveted classmate for projects and assignments; your friends know you are a hard worker and that your creative, innovative ideas will get your project done well.

You figure things out. You follow directions. You can do things on your own, and if you can’t, you ask for help. You. Are. Smart.

You are strong.

You. Are. Strong.

You are strong whether I am with you or not, whether your dad is with you or not.

You are strong by yourself, wherever you are, whomever you are with. You are strong in or out of our house, in the summer or winter, in the spring or fall. You are strong whether you have hair or no hair, phone or no phone, toys or no toys.

You are strong no matter what you are wearing and no matter what you think. You. Are. Strong.

must-have conversation after taking kids to see cinderella | 1

You are kind.

You. Are. Kind.

You have more kindness in your pinky finger than more people have in their whole body.

You always think about other people.  You write sweet notes to friends. You wrap beautiful, homemade gifts. You take care of our pets, and you help around our house. You are giving, and you care about how people feel.  You. Are. Kind.

Now, think about the movie. Sure, Cinderella was beautiful and ‘courageous and kind’ like her mom said, but really, there are some things you need to know. 

Cinderella was wearing a corset to make her waist look super tiny.

Cinderella–along with all of the women in the movie–was wearing costumes that made her body look different.

The were wearing corsets. Or girdles. Or something like that.

A corset is something that women wore long ago to hold in their stomachs, to make them look more like an hourglass. Corsets are kind of like the top part of an ice-skate but around your waist. The laces are pulled super-super tight in the middle and a little more loose at the top and bottom so the hips and breasts look bigger. In olden days, people actually had fainting couches and fainting rooms because women were barely able to breathe wearing these corsets–often they fainted.

Can you even imagine? Think about how hard that must have been. Think about how tough it would have been for those ladies to walk down the street in a corset, let alone dance, run, jump, or play.

cinderella post |

Cinderella did not need to take that awful treatment from her stepmother or stepsisters.

I mean it. Nobody deserves to be treated that way.

It’s one thing to be courageous and kind, but it’s another to be a total pushover.

Cinderella could have said something like,

Hey, I don’t appreciate the way you’re making fun of me right in front of my face. It’s not nice, and I won’t stand for it. Or. . .

I’m sorry, but I am definitely not going up into the attic for a bedroom. If the sisters want to share my bigger bedroom, that’s fine. I’ll take the smaller one. But the attic? No way.  Or. . .

Really? Do you honestly feel good about sending me to eat alone in the kitchen? No, sorry. I’m eating at this table with you guys. So. How’s the weather?   Or. . .

Um, nope. I’m not cool with tying your shoes. I can help you loosen your corset and then you can tie your own shoes. Thankyouverymuch.  Or. . .

I don’t care what you think about this dress. It was my mom’s, and even if it is a little out-dated or not quite as poofy as yours, it means a lot to me. You’re entitled to your opinion, but I’m still going to the ball with you. Now, move over, bacon. . . 

cinderella post |

Cinderella could have left the house.

We saw her talking to a girlfriend in the market one day, right? That pal could have helped her get out. But Cinderella had some funny belief that she needed to stay in the house to ‘honor her mother and father’? I don’t believe it. No way. Her parents loved her. Bottom line.

So that means that more than anything, they’d want her happy.

Usually there’s someone who can help you–no matter what situation you’re in, no matter how bad things seem. There’s someone who can help you.  Whether it’s a parent, brother or sister, classmate, neighbor, friend, teacher, or coach–someone can be your lifeline.

Cinderella did not use her lifeline. Clearly.

Cinderella could have done something.

After an amazing, magical, awesome time at the ball, Cinderella just sat in her attic room waiting for . . . what?

What was she waiting for? What was she doing up there after the ball? Was she locked in her room? I can’t even remember.

All I know is this: at that point, Cinderella could have done a dozen other things to change her situation other than just sit there and sing. Right?


So though she was pretty lucky that the Prince’s guy was there and demanded that they check out the beautiful singing heard from above, life doesn’t always work out that way.

Sometimes–most of the time, actually–you have to take the reigns in your own hands.

And though it’s a whole lot sweeter if you’re courageous and kind, often, you have to do a little more, give a little more, risk a little more.

You’ve got to use your strength and your smarts to steer your own ship.

To plot your own course.

To find your own map.

To paint your own masterpiece.

To buy your own flowers.

To sing your own song.

But I know you can do it, and I love you.

* * * * *



fyi: I am proud to be a part of the Fandango Family Digital Network and will share a movie-related post quarterly. Parents, check out the deets on Cinderella, including information about the cast and crew, from our friends at Fandango.   Share your #fandangofamily moments for others to see, or check out the Fandango Family Facebook page for fun posts and contests.

I am proud to work with Disney as well. All of the Cinderella images are courtesy of Disney.  Thank you!

don’t send your child to Kindergarten until you take this Home Study!

get kids ready for kindergarten


I have been so, so busy lately, working hard on our redesign– woo-hooooo! and working on some other really fun and exciting things for you.


what every parent must know before sending kids to kindergarten  stop sign

This week, I launched the first of a series of teach mama Home Studies: short, information-packed, interactive courses designed to change your life.

Perhaps you think ‘changing your life’ is a little lofty–but it’s true.  It really can change your life–and your child’s. 

Here’s the thing: in the last 10 years, I have spoken at dozens of local and national events, sharing information about teaching, learning, and community building.  One workshop I’ve done dozens of times is about how parents can prepare their children for Kindergarten. 

Time and time again, the feedback is the same.

Check it out to learn more, but know that spots are filling quickly: teach mama Home Study Kindergarten prep.