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!


baseball game scavenger hunt: fun for kids during the game

baseball game scavenger hunt |

baseball game scavenger hunt |

I have a hard time sitting still during sporting events.

I won’t lie.

I love the tailgating and the food and the crowds, but sometimes. . . the games seem really long to me.

So we’ve been creative in the past with our kid-friendly learning during baseball games, and this year, we kicked it up a notch.

Now that I have three readers on my hands, we can do a little bit more.

Yesterday, we celebrated Spring Break at a National’s Baseball Game, and we rocked out a new-for-us Baseball Game Scavenger Hunt.

It. Was. So. So. SO FUN.

Maddy, Owen, and Cora all admitted that the Scavenger Hunt was a great part of the day (wooo-hooo!). So if I don’t say so myself, I think I hit it out of the ballpark with this one.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Baseball Game Scavenger Hunt–Fun for Kids During the Game: 

Our game was rainy, grey, and cold, so the Baseball Game Scavenger Hunt came in handy big time.

baseball game scavenger hunt |


We got to the game around lunchtime and ate at our favorite ballpark cafe, one that allows you to sit at a table right on the far side of the field and watch the game.

I mentioned to the kids that I had a pretty cool scavenger hunt for them once we got comfy and ordered our food–I was thinking they’d want to start once we got back to our real seats, but as always, my boy was ready to roll.

baseball game scavenger hunt |

baseball game scavenger hunt |

He said, Hey Mom, this is cool. And he started checking off boxes left and right.

I said, Owen, the thing is, you have to actually see each thing before you check it off. You may not even see each one today–but we’re looking for it. And at the end, we’ll count each person’s checkmarks, and we’ll see who saw the most. 

Will we get anything if we win? Maddy wanted to know.

baseball game scavenger hunt |

baseball game scavenger hunt |

Maybe. I said. Maybe this is how you earn your ice-cream treat if it even gets warm enough to have one. 


The Baseball Game Scavenger Hunt gets kids to read. For real. 

I wanted the scavenger hunt to be long and skinny so that it could easily fit on kids’ laps. And I wanted it to be easily folded and put into coat or jean pockets.

So that’s what I did.

baseball game scavenger hunt |


I made it two columns with 45 items in each.

I wanted some things baseball-related and some things fan-related.

So kids are searching for 45 things including:

  • bat boy
  • announcer box
  • foul ball
  • crazy funny fan
  • crying baby
  • bunt
  • pop fly
  • Cracker Jacks
  • run down
  • and more!

baseball game scavenger hunt |


It’s not for everyone. If you have a kiddo who loves the game and who is totally, 100% into watching each and every play, then let him or her watch. For goodness’ sake let that child watch and enjoy the game.

But if you have a child who needs a little bit of focus, who maybe isn’t so into the game, then the Baseball Game Scavenger Hunt is for you.

baseball game scavenger hunt |

baseball game scavenger hunt |

We had a lot of fun with it–Maddy couldn’t find a ‘homemade sign or poster’ so she made one on the back of her hunt sheet. (It’s hard to read, but it says ‘Nats WIN!’)

So funny. So, so funny.

And one of our kids had a bit of a breakdown when we first got to the field, so someone suggested that we call that the ‘crying baby’ and check it off the list.

Love it.

baseball game scavenger hunt |

baseball game scavenger hunt _


Here’s the Baseball Game Scavenger Hunt if you’d like to download it and use it for your crew: baseball game scavenger hunt _

Please, if you choose to share it–and we hope you do!–link to this post instead of the attachment page. Thank you!

baseball game scavenger hunt |


Think you’ll use it?

Let us know how it goes!

Want a few more fun ideas for learning and having fun on the go?

Check out:

Or follow our pinterest board full of fun ideas:

Follow amy mascott @teachmama’s board neat-o, fun, NEW things for us to try on Pinterest.

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! 

april fools’ tricks for last-minute prankster parents

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents teachmama

post contains affiliate links



april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama


Oh, friends.

How I love April Fools’ Day.

And how I love to drag my kids into the April foolery.

This year, I have been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to really sit down and plan like I have in the past–but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.

No way, Jose.

So I’ve got a few good April Fools’ tricks for the last-minute prankster parents in the group. Those people who like to trick their family but may not have remembered that April Fools’ Day was tomorrow until . . . well, just now.

Here’s the skinny. . .

April Fools’ Tricks for Last-Minute Prankster Parents:

I’ve got seven for you–seven pretty easy pranks that will be great for most families with kids who are a little bit older.

1. Brownies for Lunch

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

Last year I made a huge tray of these and brought them out to our neighbors–and they weren’t too happy.

This year, I thought I’d scale it down a bit–make small brown Es so that the kids could have them in their lunches at school. And break all of the cafeteria rules by sharing them at lunch.

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

I simply printed out two pages of our ‘brownies’, cut them apart, and wrapped them in foil. At lunch on April Fools’ Day, Maddy, Owen, and Cora will open up their ‘treat’ and have a big surprise!

Hopefully they’ll find it funny and will share them with their friends.

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

And because I’ll feel secretly guilty all day long, I’ll have real brownies as an after school snack. No fooling!

You can download our sheet of ‘brownies’ here: april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents | teachmama

april fools brownies

And if you choose to share–and we hope you do!–please link to this post instead of the attachment page. Thank you!

2. Basketball Hoop Plug

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

Every single day, Owen and our neighbors are outside shooting hoops.

So I thought I’d put a little wrench in their game today. We’ll see how it goes. . .

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

All I did was lower the hoop, stand on a chair, and use packing tape to secure plastic wrap to the rim.

Then I raised the hoop back to 10 feet.

Bam. Swoosh! Or not. . .

3. Banded Hairbrushes

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

Maddy and Cora always stand the same way when they’re brushing their hair: they stare at themselves in the mirror, grab their brush without looking, and tear through their knotty hair.

So this little trick will stop them in their tracks a little. Maybe.

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

I added rubber bands to their brushes. In and around the bristles of their brush. That’s it.


4. Hidden Chargers

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

I’m not sure how your house is, but every day that the kids are permitted to use electronics, it’s a mad scramble for chargers. So I fixed that.

I took them all away.

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

Gathered as many as I could find, and I shoved them in a fancy, little bag.

And the really funny thing is that I’m going to keep the bag right on the table, just as it is, to see who actually notices and who then saves the day.

It’ll be a lesson in noticing what’s around. Kind of.

5. Removed Batteries

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

Even though Wednesdays are ‘unplugged’ days for us, another techy-trick I played is the ole battery removal trick.

Nothing fancy, friends.

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

Just a simple removal of the battery.

And no, my kids don’t all have phones. These are my husband and my older devices that the kids use as their ‘mobile game playing station’ of sorts.

I wonder who will be the first to catch on–on Thursday when they try to plug back in, that is!

6. Water Sports Drinks

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

We rarely have sports drinks around the house, but when we do, we often find ‘floaters’ around the house.

Gross. And. Frustrating.

Because they’re not cheap.

Half-finished drinks from who knows when just sitting around here and there like we’re a snack bar or something.

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

So as a trick, I refilled the bottles. Three of them.

With water and a drop of our bright neon food coloring.  Just a few drops in each, and then I shook them up really good.

And before school, I’ll say, Hey! I found these three last Gatorades in the fridge. Whose day is it? Pick a flavor–purple, blue, or red!

(Because when it comes down to it, aren’t sports drinks’ flavors colors and not real flavors? I mean really.

And they’ll probably pick on and think they will have a super awesome drink for lunch.


7.  Switched Cereal

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama


Ahhhhh, a simple one but a good one.

Switched the ole cereal bags inside the boxes. So when the kids try to pour the cereal, they’ll think they’re getting one thing but they’ll really get another.

So tricky am I. So tricky.

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama


It’s worth noting that I do all of this trickery because my kids can take it. If they became upset or angry or inconsolable when I tricked them like this, of course I wouldn’t do it.

They’re used to my April Fools’ googly eyes. They know I usually do what I can to trick them or their father this time of the year.

So they’ll be ready.

I think. . .


Want some more ideas? Our many hilarious ideas include: 

More April Fools’ Day ideas: 


april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama




Follow our board on Pinterest for more April Fools’ day ideas: 


Follow amy mascott @teachmama’s board april fools’ & simple, silly tricks on Pinterest.

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The Nature Conservancy virtual field trip and learning resources: Wild Biomes– From America’s Rainforest to America’s Desert

The Nature Conservancy virtual field trip and learning resources: Wild Biomes-- From America's Rainforest to America's Desert

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The Nature Conservancy virtual field trip and learning resources: Wild Biomes-- From America's Rainforest to America's Desert


Any time that parents and teachers can bring learning to life–really make it hands on and real–I think they should totally go for it.

And though years ago, the only way for students to step outside the classroom required an old yellow school bus, permission slips, and countless hours planning and organizing, things today are quite different.

Virtual field trips can happen with the click of a button.

Seriously? SO. Cool.

And this month, thanks to The Nature Conservancy’s Nature Works Everywhere, students can take a virtual field trip to learn how nature and water work with people.

April 8th. 12pm ET. (But if you missed it, NO WORRIES! The video is embedded below!)

You’re invited! You’re all invited.

Here’s the skinny. . .

The Nature Conservancy Virtual Field Trip and Learning Resources: Wild Biomes– From America’s Rainforest to America’s Desert

For real.

Mark your calendars, share this post with your child’s teacher.

Forward this link to your school’s administration so that they can share the link with staff.

Wild Biomes–From America’s Rainforest to America’s Desert is the latest in a series aimed to build students’ knowledge of and emotional connection to environmental issues that are at the heart of The Nature Conservancy’s mission.

Don’t remember what a ‘biome’ is? Don’t worry. It’s all good. A ‘biome’ is just an area of the planet that can be classified by the plants and animals that live there. Like for this virtual field trip, you’ll be looking at the rainy area of the Olympic Peninsula and the dry, desert landscape of Arizona.

Got it? Good!

Here are the details:

Wild Biomes-- From America's Rainforest to America's Desert

Who:  teachers, students, parents, anyone

What:virtual field trip!  Wild Biomes: From America’s Rainforest to America’s Desert   hosted by Tyler DeWitt and featuring Kari Vigerstol, senior hydrologist on The Nature Conservancy’s Global Water team

Two wildly different ecosystems, both dependent on the same precious resource: water.  On this virtual field trip, we’ll first travel to the lush, rain-soaked splendor of the Olympic Peninsula and explore the urban watershed of Seattle.  The abundant rainfall here provides plenty of water, but keeping it clean and safe can be a challenge.  Next, we’ll head to Arizona’s dry, desert landscape and take a tour down the Verde River, one source of water that nourishes this parched land. Here, people and other living things must adapt to a limited water supply, yet sudden and violent storms can dump seven inches of rain in a single night! Tune in for our live Google hangout at 12pm ET on April 8, 2015, to find out how geography, people, and water interact in two of America’s ‘wildly’ unique biomes. (40 minutes)

Why: to show students that nature and water work with people

Where: whatever works for you

When: April 8, 2015 at 12 pm ET

How: sign up to take part in the virtual field trip here

UPDATE: Below is the Wild Biomes Virtual Field Trip. Enjoy!

And more: Check out these supplementary resources to really hit the ball out of the park!

The Nature Conservancy provides tons of resources that bring learning to life.

And we can experience so many cool things thanks to Nature Works Everywhere.


The Nature Conservancy virtual field trip and learning resources: Wild Biomes-- From America's Rainforest to America's Desert


I have been in awe of the work that The Nature Conservancy’s Nature Works Everywhere has been doing to bring learning to life.

In fact, the kids and I did a lot of exploring and watched two whole past field trips this weekend. You can find two of the past Virtual Field Trips here.

The Nature Conservancy virtual field trip and learning resources:

Friends, we are so lucky.

Learning is so much different now, thanks to technology.

Learning is so much more fun now, thanks to technology.

Learning is so much cooler now, thanks to technology.

And thanks to great organizations like The Nature Conservancy and Nature Works Everywhere, we are doubly lucky because they make learning and resources hands-on, accessible, and meaningful.

Check it out!

The Nature Conservancy virtual field trip and learning resources: Wild Biomes-- From America's Rainforest to America's Desert

fyi: This post was written as part of a partnership with The Nature Conservancy and We Are Teachers; as always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator. 

how to have a family meeting: what works for us

how to have a family meeting: what works for us

how to have a family meeting: what works for us


Oh, friends.

How things change as our kids get older, right?

After years of doing what we can to give our kids choices, listening to them, doing all we can but ultimately having the final say–our kids have expressed to us that they want more of a voice in our family.

I get it.

So we’ve been having Family Meetings.

We have only recently begun to have regular Family Meetings, and though they are not perfect, I do think they help.’

We’re still learning. Aren’t we all?

Here’s the skinny. . .

How to Have a Family Meeting–What Works for Us: 

It’s been simple.

I created a pretty basic Family Meeting Sheet.

And any time anyone wants to call a Family Meeting, he or she may do so.

The first time we held one, I clipped the Family Meeting sheet onto a clip board, and I set it on the table.

And as the kids came and went through the day, they filled it out.

By the time the meeting rolled around, everyone was ready–and curious.

how to have a family meeting: what works for us

how to have a family meeting: what works for us

We said,

Okay, guys. So you’ve asked for more say in our family, so here we are. We’re here to work out the kinks and hopefully make things move more smoothly around here.

There are a few ground rules: 

  • Everyone listens.
  • Everyone speaks.
  • Everyone acts respectfully, no matter what.

In Lord of the Flies style, anyone who spoke held an object–I think ours was a stuffed Mario or Yoshi. That way, there was no interrupting and only listening.

And really? From that point on, we talked through the agenda–what my husband and I planned and what the kids added–and we worked out the kinks.


family meeting notice blank

family meeting notice blank |

Here’s a BLANK Family Meeting sheet if you’d like to download it as a pdf and use it as your own: family meeting notice blank |

(Please, if you choose to share it–and we hope you do!–please share this post instead of the attachment page. Thank you!)


family meeting notice 2

family meeting notice OURS |

Here’s our Family Meeting sheet if you’d like to download it as a pdf and use it as your own: family meeting notice OURS |

(Please, if you choose to share it–and we hope you do!–please share this post instead of the attachment page. Thank you!)

how to have a family meeting


What does your family do? Do you hold regular Family Meetings? I’d love to hear it!

What has worked? What hasn’t?

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!

st. patrick’s day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt

st. patrick's day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt

post contains affiliate links




st. patrick's day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt

Even though our lives have changed quite a bit since I started this blog seven years ago, one thing has remained the same: we love to rock it out for holidays.

Even big kids like to rock it out for the holidays.

So this year, I decided to kick up our traditional St. Patty’s Day Scavenger Hunt just a wee bit. 

My kids are quick, and they’re smart. So our Scavenger Hunt needs to be tricky and engaging to keep them interested–or at least to stretch our hunt a bit past the usual two minutes.

And? They’ve been doing a whole lot of testing and teasing one another lately.

So I decided to really give my three little tricky, testy kids a run for their money this year with a St. Patrick’s Day Brain Teaser Scavenger Hunt.

That’s right.

We’re working their little brains and forcing them into a bit o’ collaborative work because these days, these three seem to need it.

Should be fun!

Here’s the skinny. . .

St. Patrick’s Day Brain Teaser Scavenger Hunt: 

st. patrick's day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt st. patrick's day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt |

This isn’t your traditional run-around-the-house-for-clues scavenger hunt. Rather, it’s a new-and-improved, use your noggin and work together scavenger hunt.

The great thing is that even if you haven’t done a lick to prepare anything for St. Patrick’s Day, you can print this out, add a bit o’ candy to the mix, and your kids will think you’re the bomb.

I printed out the cards onto white cardstock, but you don’t need to.

To prepare, all you need are the St. Patrick’s Day Brain Teaser Cards and some candy. Because really. Candy. 

I also glued the shamrock board onto a plain piece of paper for extra support. And I got a mix of gold-foiled candy– Rollos, Hershey’s Nuggets, Hershey’s Kisses with Almonds, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Mini.

st. patrick's day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt st. patrick's day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt |

st. patrick's day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt st. patrick's day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt |



If I would have planned better, I totally would have ordered chocolate gold coins. But, of course, I didn’t.


Start by printing everything out, adding one piece of candy (for each child) to each square of the board, and then say this:

Okay, friends. Today is St. Patty’s Day, so like all little leprechauns, I know you want to do some hunting for your pot of gold. Except this year, your pot o’ gold is a little different. It’s right here. (Show them the board with candy on it.)

But in order to get each bit of ‘gold’, you have to work together. 


st. patrick's day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt st. patrick's day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt |


st. patrick's day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt st. patrick's day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt |

Start with this first card.  Put your brains to work, and when you figure out the answer–as a group–let me know. Every time you answer a riddle correctly, you earn the candy on that number.

Simple. So fun.

But the minute there’s an unkind word, snicker, or anything of the sort, the candy’s wiped away from whichever number you’re working on. 

Get it? Good.

Ready? Go!

That’s, at least, what I plan to do while the kids are enjoying Lucky Charms in green milk.

And we’ll see how it goes.

I anticipate that we’ll start it before school and it will be waiting for the kids when they return from school. 

Because I didn’t want them doing this all day long, I only made eight brain teaser cards with the idea that they’ll start working on it together and then if and when they get stuck on one, they can ‘pass’ and I’ll give them the next card–of course though they won’t collect that card’s candy.

If it takes a few days, it takes a few days. . .

st. patrick's day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt st. patrick's day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt |

st pattys day RIDDLE scavenger hunt


If you’d like to download the St. Patrick’s Day BRAIN TEASER Scavenger Hunt, here you are: st pattys day RIDDLE scavenger hunt

Please, if you choose to share this post (and we hope you do!), please share this link instead of the attachment page! Thank you!


The more that we can get our kids to use those brains, stretching the way they think about things and problem-solve, the better.

What are you doing for St. Patrick’s Day? Any last-minute fun things to add to our list?



How about some more fun St. Patty’s Day ideas? Check out: 

st. pattys day brain teaser scavenger hunt |


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

trace, copy, recall–learn those spelling words!

trace, copy, recall--learn those spelling words!

originally published November 8, 2010


trace copy recall |



Maddy has been so proud of her spelling and word-learning progress over the last few weeks (and so are we!).  She really is borderline excited when I print out a new list of Spelling Word Cards for each list, which makes this teacher-mama want to do a jig of joy.

Maybe it’s that we’ve upped the ‘fun factor‘ of word learning, or maybe she’s riding the high of her success; either way, I’m loving it because her spelling work is something that we’ve begun to look forward to each week.

We’ve been starting each new spelling list with the same activity–Trace, Copy, Recall–except that instead of tracing, she’s been writing the word twice.  Because until tonight, I didn’t think to make a handy-dandy little sheet so that she could trace the words.  Maddy was simply copying once from the word card, copying then from the word she wrote, and then covering both and writing the word from memory.   Poor, poor Maddy.

It only took a minute for me to whip up a little Trace, Copy, Recall sheet so that she actually could trace the word the first time, and I’m so excited because I’ll just modify the template each week for my happy little speller.  Woo-hoo!

  • Trace, Copy, Recall: As only one of the many fun ways to learn spelling words, I really think it’s worthwhile to begin with this activity because it prepares learners in a graduated way to begin committing the words to memory.

When kiddos trace the letters of the word, they’re getting their fingers ready to write the letters.  When they copy the word, they’re composing the letters for a second time and working their brains to remember the letter order.  That final recall of letters forces students to think about the letter sounds as they fit together to form the word.


trace copy recall | learn words |

Maddy’s trying to recall the spelling of one of her ‘short o’ words.

 trace copy recall | learn words |

I encourage Maddy to say the letters out loud, and although she sometimes loses steam by the end of the list, if she says the letters at least one time for each word, I’m happy. When kiddos say the letters as they write them, it’s one more way to ensure that the letters, sounds, and patterns make their way into the learners’ brains–the combination of  the physical writing and the vocalizing helps.

When she’s finished with the word, she checks her work with the word on the card.  Then she reads the word aloud and moves on.

It’s short, it’s worthwhile, and it seems to help build a slight foundation for the rest of the week’s Spelling Word Fun if we start with this.  So we’ll keep it up, I suppose. . .


In case you’re interested, here’s what we’ve been using to help support Maddy’s spelling word work:


Word Cards:

trace, copy, recall--learn those spelling words!


Trace, Copy, Recall Sheets: trace copy recall |

Fun Ways to Learn Spelling Words:

20 fun ways to learn spelling words


So, should every student in every be coming home with spelling words every single week? What’s the deal?

All recent reading research points to the fact that the ole days of  random spelling word lists should be long over and that the approach to spelling instruction should be more word learning than simply spelling memorization.   The word-learning approach is “teacher-directed yet student-centered” and when integrated into a comprehensive literacy program, this kind of instruction can most fully “help support young children’s literacy development”.  It should be systematic, organized, and individualized.

Essentially, Word Study instruction should be:

  • based on individual student’s multiple, varied assessments;
  • used with homogeneous, small-group instruction;
  • given special class time each day;
  • teaching word knowledge (about words), not just the words  themselves;
  • clearly demonstrated and used in reading and writing instruction;
  • incorporated in strategy instruction (how to read, write, and use the word);
  • used with the Word Wall;
  • involving time for ‘Word Work’ and play with the words;
  • integrated into authentic reading and writing experiences.

What does this mean for you? It means that if your child is not coming home with a spelling list each week but she is following some sort of Word Study program in school, one that contains all–or most, or even some, of the above elements–then maybe there’s no reason for a spelling list after all.

If your child is coming home with a spelling list each week, and the words aren’t grouped according to similar patterns or sounds, and the words seem totally random or disconnected, then maybe you want to talk to the teacher about the Word Study program they’re using.  Ask why they’re using it and how it supports the balanced literacy program.

For more, please see Williams, Phillips-Birdsong, Hufnangle, Hungler, Lundstrom’s article, “Word Study Instruction in the K-2 Classroom” (The Reading Teacher, April 2009).  The information and quotes in this post are taken from this article.  It amazed me how much reading research the authors integrated into this article, and I found it extremely informative.