how to help your kids love science: simple, everyday ways

science ways to raise kids who love it teachmama.com.png

science ways to raise kids who love it teachmama.com

The following rockstar guest post is written by Christy a former physics teacher who is now home with her three kids.  Christy writes an amazing blog: Wisdom, Knowledge, Joy.  

Check it out for tons of ways you can incorporate science into your children’s lives. I especially love Christy’s Science Along the Way series

____________________

  • How to Help Your Kids Love Science–Simple, Everyday Ways, by Christy McGuire
Testing season is almost over, and summer break will soon be here.
Science is a great way to fill the last weeks of the school year or to occupy your own kids during the summer months.
Here are five ways to enjoy science with your elementary learners:
how to help your kids love science: simple, everyday ways

 

Observe

Anyone can notice the physical world around them.  Spend time out doors, in the kitchen, or just take a few seconds to notice the physical world from right where you are.
Once you set the example, your elementary learners will soon be calling your attention to the world around them.
how to help your kids love science: simple, everyday ways
Experiment
To experiment, set up two (or more) scenarios in order to observe how changing a single factor affects the outcome.
Turn your observations into an experiment by observing under different circumstances or recreating the same situation in two versions.  Ask your students to record their hypothesis about what the outcome will be.
Help them develop a procedure, and perform it, and take measurements.  Talk about the data they gathered, and maybe ask them to write about what they have learned.
You can do science without experimenting, but experimenting is loads of fun and a great way to practice math and writing skills.
how to help your kids love science: simple, everyday ways
Engineer
Give your learners a problem and ask them to design a solution by drawing pictures and writing explanations. Then, let them try to implement it.
If their solution does not work, discuss and consider trying again!  The experience of creating a real world solution is exciting for elementary learners.
Read
There are so many great science books for kids!  Some of our favorite authors are Gail Gibbons, Joanna Cole, Jerry Palota, Jim Arnosky and Brenda Z. Guiberson.
While you are at the library, be sure to check out biographies of some famous scientists!
how to help your kids love science: simple, everyday ways
Model
Recreating something you have studied either first hand or in a book is a great way to cement learning.
Make it an art project by giving freedom in materials or design.  Make it a math project by requiring scale replicas.  Like experimenting and engineering, modeling is work that professional scientists often do.
Children are naturally interested in the physical world.  As you enjoy science with your elementary learners you will spark their interest in other topics, and set them up for a lifetime of learning.

Thank you, Christy! I love all that you do and share!

christy of wisdom knowledge joy
Christy McGuire taught physics to students of all levels from advanced placement to special education in the public school system.  
She now works full time at home, watching over the learning of her own children ages five, four, and two months.  
You can read her thoughts about learning, science and otherwise, at WisdomKnowledgeJoy@blogspot.com.
connect with Christy: blog  |  pinterest
Looking for more ways to get kids into science? Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards:

This post is part of our new Rockstar Sunday posts.  Each week, I will highlight one ‘rockstar’ in the parenting and education field.  These posts? Seriously awesome.

Have something you’d like to share that in some way relates to fun learning, school, technology, education, or parenting? For a short time we’ll be accepting Rockstar Sunday guest posts.

 rockstar sunday promo teachmama

The response to our Rockstar Sunday feature has been overwhelming. I am in awe of the ideas, submissions, and shares!

Having been in the blogging space for 5+ years, we know for sure that our readers are always up for fresh and fun ideas on literacy, math, technology, parenting, and learning in the every day. They love crafts, hands-on teaching ideas, printables, cooking with kids, and anything that makes their job as parents easier, better, and more fun.

You don’t have to have a blog of your own–just cool ideas to share! We look forward to hearing from you!

other posts in the series:

first steps to writing: teaching grip to first letters and words

first steps to writing cover collage teachmama.com.png

I just shared a cool series over at the Scholastic Parents Raise a Reader blog, and I think it will be of interest to many parents.

It’s all about first steps to writing and what parents can do to help with teaching their kids proper grip to first letters and words.

Super-quick reads.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • First Steps to Writing–Teaching Grip to First Letters and Words:  It’s hard to know where to start and what to do as a parent when it comes to writing. How are we supposed to know what to do? Don’t kids just know how to hold a pencil properly? What’s the deal?

No. Humans aren’t born with the innate ability to hold a writing tool and they really do need help learning the proper positioning.

And? There are tons of easy ways parents can support this learning at home. Early in the game.

Click on the images to read more.

first steps to writing fine motor skills

first steps to writing: build fine motor skills

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early writing skills how to teach grip

first steps to writing: how to teach grip

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letters and words to teach your kids first scholastic

first steps to writing: letters and words to write first

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Need some more name-learning inspiration? Check out:

Want some other cool ideas for creating words and sending messages? Check out:

Have fun and feel free to link up any other ideas you have–I’m always up for more sneaky fun ways of spending time with my kiddos!

giving kids choices: parenting trick that saved my sanity

giving kids choices: parenting trick that saved my sanity

Originally published 1/25/09 but totally worth a re-share!

 

the parenting trick that saved my sanity: choices | teachmama.comOnce an a while, instead of sharing what secret little lesson I’ve stuck into our day, I’m going to share a Quick Trick that works (more often than not) for me or for one of my pals.

Some days, as most parents know, things just don’t go the way you’d hoped and it’s all you can do to make it through the day. This parenting thing is tough, and there’s no rest for the weary.

So my Quick Trick might focus on anything from parenting to preschool, healthy habits to a happy household.

Most likely, I’ve stolen the idea from someone, somewhere else and made it my own.  Teachers are the best, most practiced thieves, you know.

So here we go. . .

This May Change Your Life:
(okay, or maybe just a tiny part of it)

  • Give children two positive choices as a way of setting limits. Here is the formula:
  1. You may ____ or _____.
  2. What is your choice?
  3. You chose ____!
  • For older children, try:
  1. Feel free to ____ or ____. OR,
  2. Which of these options would be better for you, ____ or ____?
  • When Owen doesn’t want to get dressed in the morning, I try: Hmmmm, what will Owen choose to put on first, his pants or his shirt? Awesome! He chose to put on his shirt first this morning!
  • When we’re leaving a friend’s house: I wonder if Maddy will choose to put on her coat or her boots first. . . Yesterday she put on her boots first. What will she choose today? . . .
  • When we’re trying to clean up: Will Owen choose to put away these cars first or the puzzles?

It does sound strange at first, I know, but after awhile, I was totally surprised at how this worked and got my little ones moving. The choices have to positive, though, and that’s the tough part initially. Saying, Okay, feel free to clean up this mess or go to your room, won’t cut it. Instead try, This room is a mess. Are you going to choose to put the puzzles or the Polly Pockets away first?

I’m a huge, huge fan of Dr. Becky Bailey’s Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline, and although it is a constant challenge for me to incorporate all of her principles into my daily routine, I find that her philosophy of discipline and parenting is really worth exploring.

Dr. Bailey says, Discipline is not a technique to use on children. It is a way of life to model for children.

And that’s the hard part for me.

The emotional, quick-tempered Irish girl I am heard myself saying early on (to my then 2-yr old), You better stop crying, or I’ll give you something to cry about! I stopped myself, totally freaked out, and knew that I was in desperate need of a paradigm shift–or I’d be eaten alive by my own kids. It is not easy–or natural–for me as a parent to take a deep breath and think before I speak to my whining, crying, cranky child who’s asking me for the gazillionth time to go outside, for another snack, to watch tv, or find a missing doll shoe.

So reading–and re-reading–and picking out the parts make sense to me from Dr. Bailey’s book has helped me to try to be more conscious of the way I interact with my children during both the easy and more difficult times so that discipline becomes, like she says, a way of life to model for them. Much easier said than done, but I’m trying to do my best, just like we all are.

gallon ziploc bag activities for preschoolers

gallon ziplock bag activities for preschoolers

The following rockstar guest post is written by Barb of  A Life in Balance. Barb has a ton of awesome ideas, and you should totally check out her blog. 

Gallon bag activities.

Plastic bag activities. Ziploc or Ziplock or Glad or store brand, it doesn’t matter. All you need is a large-sized plastic bag with a tight seal to totally rock these activities. Your preschooler will totally heart you. We promise.

____________________

  • Gallon Ziplock Bag Activities for Preschoolers, by Barb Hoyer.

gallon-ziplock-bag-activities-for-preschoolers

 

One of my favorite parts of homeschooling was coming up with activities in a bag to keep my young ones occupied while I was working with my oldest son.

Since I had 2 and then 3 little ones to manage while homeschooling, I kept a wide variety of Bag Activities on hand, and we rotated through them to keep the kids interested.

Some of these ideas are perfect for car trips or to bring along to a restaurant when you go out for a meal. I’ve also brought a few to the sports field like the bubble solution and notebook with stickers.

At the preschool level, the emphasis is on developing fine motor skills during play. Many preschoolers like my youngest son are not ready for heavy academics, however, they still need to learn how to handle a pencil, cut with scissors, and learn the basics of color and shapes.

The beauty of the gallon ziplock bag is that many creative play-based learning activities can fit into them for easy access and storage. Use plastic shoe boxes to organize the activities by type, days of the week, or place (car, restaurant, sports field).

Here are some ideas: 

  • Shaving cream in a closed bag used for drawing pictures and shapes
  • Shoelaces or straws and large beads for stringing and cards with patterns for imitatingPaper towel tube and car to run through it
  • Tongs, 2 bowls, and stuff to pick up with tongs; same activity can be done with tweezers
  • Texture cards – felt, fake fur, leather, sandpaper
  • Magnifying glass with a few items for examining – rock, leaf, bark, patterned fabric
  • Nuts and Bolts
  • Finger puppets
  • Shape cards for matching
  • Pom poms for sorting
  • Make Your Own Mobile kit – seasonal, interests
  • I-Spy soda bottle – shoe, key, dime, marble, lego brick, paper clip, birdseed, photos of items for searching
  • Blank book and stickers or roll of paper with shapes drawn on it for filling with stickers
  • Egg carton with items for sorting – nuts, bolts, beans, pasta, paper clips, buttons
  • Alphabet book – small booklet made of papers stapled together with a glue stick and scissors
  • Paper and scissors
  • Bubble solution and bubble blowing wands
  • Shape and object cards for matching together or matching to the environment
  • Playdough

Where to Buy Supplies:

Thrift stores and garage sales – Fabric for cutting up, seasonal items like ornaments, small plastic kitchenware, toy figures
Ikea – finger puppets, child-sized plastic dishes, utensils, cups and kitchen items
Dollar Store – Craft supplies, gallon freezer bags, kitchen items, paper goods, stickers, seasonal items, birthday treat bag items
Dollar bin at craft stores and Target – small notebooks, crayons, markers, stickers
Hardware store – nuts and bolts, small tools, measuring tape, chain

Thank you, Barb! You have fabulous ideas!!

is a mom of 5 kids who spends her day keeping track of socks, stuffed animals, library books, and a 5 year old when she isn’t writing about all the frugality, gardening, cooking, and reading she manages to fit in between the chaotic moments. She can be found at A Life in Balance.

Connect with Barb:
Pinterest | Google+ | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Blog

Looking for more ways to teach toddlers and preschoolers? Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards:

 

This post is part of our new Rockstar Sunday posts.  Each week, I will highlight one ‘rockstar’ in the parenting and education field.  These posts? Seriously awesome.

Have something you’d like to share that in some way relates to fun learning, school, technology, education, or parenting? For a short time we’ll be accepting Rockstar Sunday guest posts.

 rockstar sunday promo teachmama

The response to our Rockstar Sunday feature has been overwhelming. I am in awe of the ideas, submissions, and shares!

Having been in the blogging space for 5+ years, we know for sure that our readers are always up for fresh and fun ideas on literacy, math, technology, parenting, and learning in the every day. They love crafts, hands-on teaching ideas, printables, cooking with kids, and anything that makes their job as parents easier, better, and more fun.

You don’t have to have a blog of your own–just cool ideas to share! We look forward to hearing from you!

other posts in the series:

25+ playful preschool activities eBook

playful preschool activities ebook | teachmama.com

25+ playful preschool activities ebook | teachmama.com

For many families, preschool ends this week or next, which means that 3-5 year olds will be home, hanging around, and looking for some fun.

Preschool’s almost out.  Seriously.

And it means that moms and dads will need things to do with their kiddos.

Parents need activities that can keep those preschoolers’ brains moving, hands drawing, and creativity flowing. Activities that are easy and fun to prepare. Activities that count.

Parents need activities that will get those kiddos ready for the next year of preschool, maybe even kindergarten in the fall.

Woot. I have just the thing–and it totally won’t break the bank.

It’s an eBook filled with over 25 playful activities that your kids will love: The Playful Preschool Activities eBook, and it’s one thing that’s kept me busy this spring.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • 25+ Playful Preschool Activities eBook: It’s awesome, and I’m honored to be a part of it.

It’s a super-amazing resource.

Tons of hands-on, play-based learning ideas all in one happy little place.

playful activities ebook

playful preschool activities ebook | buy now

The Playful Preschool Activities eBook features:

  • over 25 ideas for preschoolers;
  • great range of activities: hands-on, learning through play, math, language, literacy, science, art and play;
  • printable resources (including city scape play scene, My First Journal pages, recipe card, numbers game, weather chart printables, and more!);

25+ playful preschool activities eBook | teachmama.com

 

The Playful Preschool Activities eBook also features:

  • printable alphabet play mats, unique hand-drawn art pages, conversation cards, block building challenge cards;
  • reading comprehension bookmarks–so that you know how to make the most of your read-alouds!
  • additional links to over 50 more activities;
  • it’s only $8.99–so buy now!!

playful preschool activities ebook

playful preschool activities ebook | buy now

Some important bots o’ info for you: 

– You can buy the book anywhere in the world, and that Paypal will take care of the currency conversion.

– You can buy it now, on any device, and then download it when you are ready.

– Depending on the apps you have installed and your operating system you might be able to go ahead and download the book on your mobile device, but if you have any doubts or problems, I recommend you use a computer to download the book and then share it to your mobile devices.

– You. Will. Love. It.

The amazing Cathy James–who is the mastermind behind this eBook–even made a trailer for it:

 

Check it out.

And really, I’m betting you’ll be super-happy you did.

It’s yours for a cool $8.99 (the cost of just one coffee and scone!). . . okay, or close to it! Either way, it’s a great deal for all the awesome you’re getting. 

And that’s it–just a little something I’m thrilled about and think you will be too! 

Any questions? I’d love to hear ’em!

creative ways to keep kids busy on sidelines

keep kids busy on the sidelines teachmama.com

sponsored post

 

 

keep kids busy on the sidelines  teachmama.com

 

Many families spend a good chunk of time bussing kids around town, from dance class to music, from soccer to t-ball.

And though it’s awesome that our kids are busy, burning steam, and having fun with their friends, all these activities often mean that siblings are in tow, trying to stay out of trouble on the sidelines.

If their little buddies are there, that’s one thing. But if they are stuck for an hour or more just hanging around, with no park or playmates, it’s tough.

Many of us know that sideline entertaining isn’t always the easiest thing, especially for busy and tired parents.

Sure, we can all hand our kids a cell phone, iPad, or tablet to keep our kids busy, but what to do if you want to keep kids busy but unplugged during their siblings’ activities?

What if we want our kids to (gasp!) be unplugged while their siblings are having their activity?  I have some ideas. Tried, tested, and true.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Creative Ways to Keep Kids Busy on the Sidelines:

When you’re heading out to practice or a game or the dance studio and you know you will have kids in tow, grab a bag and throw in a few essentials.

creative ways to keep kids busy on sidelines: teachmama.com

You always should have a blanket, a bag of snacks, and some paper and a few pencils or crayons. Always. With only paper and a pencil, you can play:

  • Tic-tac-toe: Mix it up by using letters, numbers, or simple pictures as your markers. So fun. And so old school but so great for early writing and thinking skills!
  • Guess the picture: One person draws a picture and the other person guesses what it is. Challenge yourselves by setting a timer or allowing only a handful of steps in drawing the picture.
  • Silent conversations: Super-simple conversations composed on paper, with no talking permitted. This game is great for quiet hallways during music lessons.

creative ways to keep kids busy on sidelines: teachmama.com

  • Strike it out: Fun math game that builds skills and requires no set-up or space. Critical thinking along with computation skills are practiced and kids have no idea!
  • Keep score: Teach your kiddos how to use tally marks by keeping track of each team’s score. Or keep track of the number of blue cars to red cars in the parking lot or the number of moms to dads on the sidelines.

creative ways to keep kids busy on sidelines: teachmama.com

Or grab these few items to make your sideline entertainment even more fun:

  • Melissa and Doug Sticker Collection – Fashion: The amount of hours Maddy and Cora have spent with this set is unbelievable.  They’ve made fast friends on the soccer sidelines with these sets; a few sticker sets, a big picnic blanket, and a bunch of kids make an hour long practice zip by.

creative ways to keep kids busy on sidelines: teachmama.com

  • Pinball Arcade – ON the GO Travel Activity: My kids love this. Yes, it’s a little loud with the bouncing ball and the snaps of the pinball handles, but with a background that can change and the math fun that can happen if you challenge your kids to keep score, Pinball Arcade is a winner.

The possibilities for sideline fun is endless, and really–unplugging isn’t as difficult as you may think!

What are your favorite ways to entertain your little loves while big sisters or brothers are at practice? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!

melissa doug blog ambassador button

 

fyi: This post was written as part of the Melissa & Doug Blog Ambassador program. All opinions are my own, influenced only by my experience as an educator and parent and longtime toy lover. Huge and happy thanks to Melissa & Doug for their willingness to work with bloggers in this way and for always creating awesome, meaningful products. 

Affiliate links are used in this post. 

the ONLY thing parents need to know during read-alouds

most important thing for read alouds cover pinterest .png

most important thing for read alouds | teachmama.com

What should parents know about read-alouds? 

What must every read-aloud have? 

Should parents memorize a list of strategies, techniques, or questions?  

Must parents spend hundreds of dollars on reading material every day?  

Do parents need to set aside two hours every day for reading with their kids?   

No, no and no.

There’s one thing that every parent must know during read-alouds, and I know you will be surprised. I bet it’s not what you’re thinking.

I’d love for you to head over to Scholastic Parents’ Raise a Reader blog–where I spend a wee bit o’ my writing time–to check it out. Read it and then let me know what you think.

Here it is: The Most Important Thing to Remember During Read-Alouds.

—————————-

So.  What do you think? 

  • Do you agree or disagree with my points?
  • How does your child’s learning needs compare?
  • How does your parenting style compare to the ideas outlined in the post?
  • Would you say that your household is similar or different to the one outlined in this post?
  • What steps will you take to make changes in your home?
  • What foll0w-up questions do you have? How can I help you improve in this area?

 

Thanks for reading, my friends!

Don’t forget to subscribe to teachmama.com so you don’t miss a thing! 

get kids interested in language and the world: little pim twitter event, 4.29.14

get kids interested in language and the world: little pim twitter event, 4.29.14

Kids who know about their world will naturally care for it more too.get kids interested in language and the world: little pim twitter event, 4.29.14

Little Pim is a language learning system that hopes to do more than teach your child another language they want to make your kids more interested in the world.

We are chatting all about how to get your kids interested and involved in caring for the planet and would love to hear your ideas! Come chat with us Tuesday April 29th at 9pm EST on Twitter. There are a bunch of Little Pim prizes as well as a Trio Android tablet.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Get Kids Interested in Language and the World– Little Pim Twitter event, 4.29.14:

Who: Parents, teachers, caregivers, expert panelists, and YOU!

get kids interested in language and the world: little pim twitter event, 4.29.14

What: We will be chatting about how to get your kids interested and involved in caring for the planet
Why: Because we all need to raise earth-friendly, worldly kids!
Where: Twitter! (http://twitter.com) #SmartSpring
When: Tuesday, 4.29.14 from 9-10 pm ET
How:

  1. Before the event, rsvp here: http://bit.ly/1jJhngl
  2. On 4.29.14, log onto twitter
  3. Follow the hashtag #SmartSpring
  4. Tweet, re-tweet (RT), and tweet some more!
  5. Optional: Share YOUR fave photos, tips, tricks, and ideas for ways to get kids involved in caring for the planet!

 

Helpful hints:

  • use tweetchat (http://tweetchat.com/room/SmartSpring) to make it easier for you
  • visit the panelists’ sites and bring questions, comments or concerns to the event
  • visit our we teach Twitter event how-to for answers to your Twitter event questions.
  • make sure you are following the hosts (@NoFlashCards & @LittlePim and panelists @teachmama & @pragmaticmom) so you don’t miss a beat!

We look forward to chatting with you on Tuesday, April 29th, and we are psyched to connect with you!

RSVP HERE Everyone who RSVPs you will receive an exclusive Little Pim discount code to use during and after the party!

fyi:  this post is sponsored by Little Pim.

easter egg pattern match game: for kids, by kids

easter egg pattern match teachmama.com

Easter is right around the corner, and we’re psyched.easter egg pattern match  teachmama.com

Not only does Easter mean egg painting and candy, family time and spring flowers, fresh starts and new hope, it means my kids get to spend some time with faraway cousins.

Maddy, Owen, and Cora are thrilled to see their little cousins who are much younger than they.  My kids are 10, 8, and 7 years old, and their Pennsylvania cousins are 3 years, 19 months, 12 months, and 4 months old.

So this year, as we relaxed a bit after a whirlwind Disneyland adventure (more on that later!), the kids put some time into a little homemade gift for their Keystone State cousins.

We worked together to make Easter Egg Pattern Match–a super-fun, made-with-love game for their 3-year-old cousin.  Matching. Patterns.

Perfect for a 3-year-old!

And really? Creating matching patterns was a fun mathy, brain-stretching exercise for my own kids.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Easter Egg Pattern Match Game–For Kids, By Kids:  These eggs are simple but full o’ love.

All I did was print out Blank Egg patterns, much like our Alphabet Egg Hunt–Uppercase and Lowercase Letter Match set but obviously without the letters.

I printed the eggs out on white cardstock, which I highly recommend so they are a bit more sturdy.

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

The  BLANK alphabet egg hunt  are here to download if you’d like: BLANK alphabet egg hunt.

This afternoon, after our third tv show and hundredth game on the iPad, I asked the kids to meet me at the counter.

I said, I found a really cute game that we can make for our cousins and bring to them at Easter, and I think you’ll love it. Who wants to grab a marker, crayon, and some stickers and give me a hand?

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

They were all game, even though it was 2pm and we were all still wearing pjs.

We’re going to make a matching game for Wyatt–matching is a super-important skill for 3-year-olds, and you know what? If Wyatt knows that his cool older cousins made him a game, I’m betting he’ll love playing it.

So here’s the deal: just like the Alphabet Egg Hunt where we matched uppercase letters with lowercase letters, this game will be similar. But instead of letter matching, we’ll make patterns that match.

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

Your challenge will be to create matching tops and bottoms for our eggs, like this: (I showed them two really simple eggs I did, each with one sticker on the top and bottom half of the egg.

The pattern-making and designing matching eggs proved to be a bit difficult for Cora, but even Maddy and Owen each had one ‘do-over’ egg. Sometimes they made eggs that just mirrored the pattern, and sometimes the pattern wasn’t clear after the egg split–it didn’t start low enough.

So we tried to keep it simple for the most part, but we did add a few challenge eggs:

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

We wanted to have several eggs that had the same colors, basic shapes, and same layout so that our little loves would have to look just a tad bit closer.

We didn’t want to totally frustrate him, but we thought that his name and his brother’s name, written in similar colors, and stickers with similar shapes, or even two with farm animals or vehicles would give him an extra challenge.

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

And after we were finished with all of the eggs, Cora and I matched them all up to make sure they worked. We checked patterns and we checked them again.

We eliminated some that didn’t work, and we included only the best.

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

Then Cora made a label: Wyatt & Myles Easter Egg Match. We threw the eggs in a plastic baggie, and we were ready to roll!

The kids cannot wait to play the game with their cousins!

Love these little ways that empower kids to create and teach other little ones.  The pattern-making and generating of top and bottom matches was a great brain exercise for my three spring breakers!

Just a quickie little something you can print out, bring to your Easter gathering, and have cousins, siblings, aunts, uncles, and friends create for the little ones of the crew!

Will these work for you? Let me know how your family will use them! I’d love to hear it!

how to throw a rockstar frozen birthday party—snacks to serve

frozen birthday cake snowball tower teachmama.com

 

frozen birthday cake snowball tower  teachmama.com.pngFrozen is all the rage these days, so it’s no wonder that my Cora wanted a ‘Frozen’ birthday party for her 7th.

So that’s what we did.

Starting last summer, we brainstormed and planned for her birthday.   And then in December, after we saw Frozen, we brainstormed, planned, and then re-planned.

She had to have a Frozen birthday.  She just had to.

And though she had to learn the tough lesson that her whole little world could not come to an at-home Frozen birthday party, she did muddle through.  When you’re almost 7, you have to make some tough decisions, and no, I was not going to throw multiple Frozen birthday parties just so all 40 people on her initial list could attend.

I know—I’m the meanest mom in the world.

So we scoured the internet; we researched and shopped; and we went for it.  We planned what Cora believed would be the best. Frozen. Birthday. Ever.

The perfect Frozen crafts. The perfect Frozen activities. The perfect Frozen birthday sweets and treats.  The perfect Frozen birthday cake.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • How to Throw a Rockstar Frozen Birthday Party: Snacks! 

If you missed the first part of the party–the Frozen crafts and fun–then definitely check it out!

There’s something about the big #7—it seems as though 7-year olds start thinking about their birthday the day they turn 6. Same held true for Cora.

frozen birthday cake snowball tower teachmama.com

frozen birthday cake snowball tower teachmama.com

Our snacks were a huge part of the party because we love to cook and we love to eat.

The menu was simple:

  • ice-cream sundae bar (ice-cream and M & Ms, marshmallows, gummi bears, snowcaps)
  • snowball tower (in lieu of cake)
  • chocolate dipped nilla wafers
  • chocolate dipped pretzels

 Here’s how we made the Frozen snowball tower: 

 fyi: The teachmama.com youtube channel is all about sharing quick teaching tips, reading strategies, and parenting tricks with parents and caregivers. It’s about empowering parents to be the best teachers they can be for their children. Subscribe here so you don’t miss a thing!

And then?

Start dipping, sprinkling, and assembling the rest of your Frozen birthday buffet!

frozen birthday cake snowball tower  teachmama.com
frozen birthday cake snowball tower  teachmama.com

chocolate dipped nilla wafers & pretzels: Super-simple and so cute!

Grab some meltable chocolate from the store. I like to use a decent brand, and I always get white meltable chocolate along with a color.  This time we used Wilton melting chocolates in light blue and white.

frozen birthday party | teachmama.com

frozen birthday party | teachmama.com

frozen birthday party | teachmama.com

rock candy pops: Though we have made these in the past, we decided not to make them for the party.

Instead, we bought them online.  We bought light blue rock candy and blue raspberry rock candy.  YUM.

frozen birthday party | teachmama.com

Frozen blue punch: We wanted to use our tiny, special, fancy glasses and punch bowl that doesn’t get enough use.

So we went crazy and got blue Hawaiian punch, froze some punch as flower-shaped ice cubes and added regular ice cubes to lessen the sugar content (though okay, I know it didn’t help enough. . . ).

frozen birthday party | teachmama.com

And all in all, it turned out to be one heck of a party!

Kids loved it. Cora loved it.

frozen birthday party | teachmama.com

frozen birthday party | teachmama.com

frozen birthday party | teachmama.com

The kids loved it.

We kept it pretty hands-on, fun to prep, and even more fun to eat.

frozen birthday party | teachmama.com

frozen birthday party | teachmama.com

frozen birthday party | teachmama.com

And when all of the donuts were taken off and the towers were finished?

Wow. Our towers looked a little sad.

frozen birthday party | teachmama.com

This is only one part of the party. . .

Next up? How to throw a rockstar Frozen birthday party–crafts to do

 

fyi: Thank you to the many people who helped inspire our Frozen birthday party: Brownie Bites, Mom Endeavors, 123 Homeschool 4 Me, The Style Sisters, & more Mom Endeavors. So many great ideas on pinterest–check out our birthday board for a few more!

affiliate links are used in this post

fractions with FOOD: hands-on math

fractions with food

fractions with food cover

This post about fun with food and fractions is written by Jen of Beyond Traditional Math.

Hopefully after reading it, you’ll never look at food quite the same! Thank you, Jen, for your time, effort, and expertise!

____________________

  • Fractions with Our Favorite Thing…Food! by Jen

Before you first meet me, I should tell you that I am certifiably nuts about being anti-worksheets right now, so I am going to try to dial it back a bit to write this post.

This past school year, we adopted a new math series that is very heavy on worksheets and giving tons of practice problems. When we piloted the series, we knew that we’d need to supplement and scale back as needed.

It is difficult for me to expect children to work out between 30 and 50 problems a day.

I particularly struggle with this style of teaching when the concept is very abstract.  Right now, our team is introducing fractions, and I can’t tell you how difficult this is for third graders.

The idea of shading in boxes and naming fractions of symbols was so abstract that students had nothing to connect it to. It was actually making me crazy. The idea of doing it with 30 problems on a worksheet made me even crazier!

So I came up with a series of activities that would allow them to explore fractions with one of their favorite things: Food! (OK, I will admit it is my favorite thing, too.)

This change has made ALL the difference.  By cutting an apple in half, we could explore the definition of a fraction.  Then, we discovered the concepts of equal parts, numerators and denominators with a pan of brownies.

But my favorite activity that I believe was most effective is graham cracker fractions.  Instead of randomly coloring in boxes to show fractions, we laid a graham cracker down on a piece of paper and drew a symbol of it below.

fractions with food | teachmama.com

Now when it came time to shade in ¼ of the box, it made sense, because they had broken their graham cracker into four equal parts. When we eat a quarter of it, we can shade it in.

To extend this the next day, we took a graham cracker and transferred what we did the previous day to a number line.  This was the easiest it has ever been to teach fractions on a number line.  Again, since number lines represent counting, we simply counted by quarters instead of by whole numbers.

The best part was that when the graham cracker disappeared, they could still plot the numbers on the line!

fractions with food | teachmama.com

All things in math must absolutely be connected to the real world for students right from the start.

So often we jump right to symbols and numbers without giving them proper background knowledge needed.  This is truly a disservice to kids.  Helping them connect to real life (especially yummy snacks) will make us all successful!

 Thank you, thank you, THANK you, Jen, for sharing your math expertise–and totally cool idea!– with us!

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 9.29.25 PM
Jen is a third grade teacher with 8 years of experience teaching elementary students. Her passion is teaching math with a focus on conceptual knowledge through real world projects and rigorous problem solving. You can find more teaching tips and resources (and hear about how much she has learned from her mistakes) at her blog: Beyond Traditional Math. You can also connect with her on PinterestTpTTwitter, and Facebook.

 

Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards, filled with more fab sneaky learning ideas:

Or check out the following math-happy posts:

This post is part of our new Rockstar Sunday posts.  Each week, I will highlight one ‘rockstar’ in the parenting and education field.  These posts? Seriously awesome.

Have something you’d like to share that in some way relates to fun learning, school, technology, education, or parenting? For a short time we’ll be accepting Rockstar Sunday guest posts.

rockstar sunday promo teachmama

The response to our Rockstar Sunday feature has been overwhelming. I am in awe of the ideas, submissions, and shares!

Having been in the blogging space for 5+ years, we know for sure that our readers are always up for fresh and fun ideas on literacy, math, technology, parenting, and learning in the every day. They love crafts, hands-on teaching ideas, printables, cooking with kids, and anything that makes their job as parents easier, better, and more fun.

You don’t have to have a blog of your own–just cool ideas to share! We look forward to hearing from you!

other posts in the series: