cool activities for kids all summer long: NEW tabletop surprises

cool activities for kids all summer long: NEW tabletop surprises

cool activities for kids all summer long: NEW tabletop surprises

 

It’s here! It’s here! It’s heeerrreeeee!

I’m so happy. I’m so excited.

And more than ever, I’m over the moon thrilled and elated that summer is right around the corner!

Though I work from home, and it’s always an adjustment to have all the kids home all day long, and we have a busy swim and dive schedule, and ohmygosh I have to feed three kids three meals every single day for like a million days, I have found the most awesome plan for summer fun for my kids–tabletop surprises.

This will be the third summer we’re rocking tabletop surprises, and the kids–and I–couldn’t be more ready to rock and roll!

Here’s the skinny. . .

Cool Activities for Kids All Summer Long–NEW Tabletop Surprises: 

Tabletop Surprises are what works for us because I have three different kids–11, 9, and 8 years old–each with their own personality and plans.

And Tabletop Surprises work for us all.

What are Tabletop Surprises? Tabletop Surprises are invitations to learn, play, create, invent, and think–on their own time. 

Little fun activities just waiting for someone to come along and try ‘em out.

tabletop surprises   teachmama.com 2

This year, everyone helped make the calendars. 

I brought out last year’s Tabletop Surprises calendars, and Maddy, Owen, and Cora wrote, scratched, added, and edited.

summer fun for older kids teachmama.com tabletop surprises

summer fun for older kids teachmama.com tabletop surprises

summer fun for older kids teachmama.com tabletop surprises

I want this summer to be fun for them. And I want them to have some say in what we do each day.

And though they had their own ideas about what they wanted their summer to look like (see below!), I added, adapted, and think they’ll be pretty happy with what we have planned.

Despite what it may look like, Tabletop Surprises allow for so much flexibility in our schedules. They’re short activities that can be done independently (for the most part), so if something fun comes up in our schedule, we drop and go.

That simple.

summer fun for older kids teachmama.com tabletop surprises

How to I get the kids to actually sit down and do the activities? 

A few ways:

1. The activities are fun and the kids want to do them;

2. At any given time, on any given day, I have been known to toss a few gems into the gem jars of people who have been spotted doing the activity. Not every day, but some days.

3.  I’ll join them. Really.

Kids–I truly believe–like to hang out with their parents. Especially if their parents are kinda cool or funny or at least act like they’re cool or funny. I like to hang out with my kids, so when they sit, if I can, I’ll join them.

tabletop surprises   teachmama.com 2

What are the ideas and what makes them so fun?

The activities are hands-on. They’re cool. They’re creative and crafty. They’re unusual. They’re familiar. They’re old and they’re new. They’re digital and battery-free. They’re indoors and outdoors.

It’s a mix, and that keeps them going. And it’s only ten weeks. That gives us one week for vacation and one week to totally pound out math packets and summer school assignments.

And really? I have a whole bunch of back-up this year–4 extra weeks planned out roughly. Just a whole bunch of extra cool, fun things that kids might want to do if and when we find time.

tabletop surprises calendar 2015 | teachmama.com

What do you think? Ready to give Tabletop Surprises a look? 

Awesome.

  1. Print out the calendar: tabletop surprises calendar 2015 teachmama.com
  2. Subscribe to teachmama.com via email.
  3. Download the Tabletop Surprises Resource Guide (you’ll get it when you confirm your subscription, yo!).
  4. Give your kids the skinny on Tabletop Surprises.  Tell them: This summer is totally going to rock. Each day, you’ll have a fun activity waiting right here on the table for you. All summer long. Not even kidding. You’re that lucky.
  5. Start learning, playing, creating, inventing, and thinking alongside your kiddos!
  6. And? Share your #tabletopsurprises via instagram or twitter  just for fun.  We will have a few goodies along the way for families who jump in on the fun. So start sharing and start learning.
  7. Now. Go ahead and create the summer of your dreams. Well. . .

tabletop surprises   teachmama.com 2

Wait. What’s holding you back?

My kids. They’re totally not game for anything anymore now that they’re tweens and teens.

Um. I understand. I get it. My kids have days when they just want to hole up and ignore me. And that’s fine. But there are many days when they want fun things to do.

They want an excuse to play with their old faves, to get their hands dirty, to explore and have fun.

And Tabletop Surprises let them do just that.

tabletop surprises calendar 2015 | teachmama.com

Me. I’m busy. I don’t have time for this. 

Yes. You. Do.  I’ve got every single thing you need right here. Ten weeks.  Links to resources and everything.  Just print out a few things, gather supplies the night before and set it out on your table or a small shelf or somewhere so it’s all there when the kids wake up.  They’ll do it when they’re able.

In fact, I’ve so got this covered, that if you subscribe to teachmama.com via email (only a few emails a week–full of awesome for you and your kids!) you’ll have access to every single thing you need for the entire ten weeks. Every link. Every printable. Bam.

 

Okay, well. . . I may just be convinced.

Give me a look at this stuff. 

Sure. Check out last year’s Tabletop Surprises to get an idea about what we’re doing.

tabletop surprise 2015 sign up teachmam

Or check out 2013:

Or check out our

Disney SUPRISE: a checklist for parents who want to pull off a last-minute surprise for kids

Disney SUPRISE | teachmama.com

Disney SUPRISE | teachmama.com

Last week, we went to Disney World.

For real.

One of our most favorite places on earth and the kids’ as well.

We’ve been there before, and each time we’ve used the weeks leading up to our trip as a time to prepare with activities, to rock out some Disney word games, to earn Disney Dollars, and to build up pins for pin trading. We’ve even pulled off a rockstar Disney Surprise Scavenger Hunt.

So this time we wanted to do something different.

We wanted to pull off the last minute, SURPRISE! WE’RE GOING TO DISNEY!!! And tell Maddy, Owen, and Cora at the last possible second.

It has not been easy. I may be a bad secret-keeper.

But we did it, and we had a blast.

Here’s the skinny. .

Surprise! We’re Going to Disney–A Checklist for Parents Who Want to Pull off a Last-Minute Surprise for Kids:

Our main concern was that we didn’t want to wake the kids up in the morning and go directly to the airport; we know our kids and understand that they need a wee bit more time to process news like that.

So we decided we’d tell them the night before our flight so that they could help pack, gather their things, and be excited the whole night long.

I think that worked best.

So we did this:

Disney SUPRISE | teachmama.com

 

And we turned our surprise into a packing frenzy of sorts by sharing this:

Disney SUPRISE | teachmama.com

Disney SUPRISE | teachmama.com

 

We set out their suitcases in each of their rooms with the direction to ‘head upstairs before dinner to put clean laundry away’.

On each suitcase was:

  • the Packing Challenge Letter in an envelope
  • their super-cool bleached-out Disney shirt
  • their Magic Band
  • a Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry letter rolled up in a scroll (more to come on that!)

We followed them upstairs, hanging slightly behind them, and heard this: 

  • Um, what does this mean? 
  • Where are they sending us? 
  • Why are our suitcases out here? 
  • What’s in the envelope? 
  • What’s going on with Mom and Dad?

Before we knew it, the kids had ripped open their envelopes and were jumping up and down. We’re going to Disney! We’re going to DISNEY! We’re going to Disney TOMORROW! Oh my gosh!!!

Disney SUPRISE | teachmama.com

 

And though we were up a little bit later than I’d hoped, the packing frenzy check sheet helped us tremendously. It gave Maddy, Owen, and Cora a focus for their packing, and it gave us a timeframe in which to complete the task at hand.

Here’s the packing frenzy checksheet:

Disney SUPRISE | teachmama.com

 

You can download the sheet here: packing frenzy list- disney BLANK

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

Disney SUPRISE | teachmama.com

 

It was awesome.

And the trip, as we knew it would be, was an absolute blast. There’s more on that coming this week!

I just got way too excited to keep filming and shooting photos. There was way too much jumping up and down, hooting and hollering to be done!

Do you want our parent checklist so that you don’t forget anything, my friends?

Disney SUPRISE | teachmama.com

Parent Checklist: parent checklist _ disney surprise teachmama.com

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

 

Here are a few other post about all things Disney: 

Disney SUPRISE  teachmama.com

fyi: As a participant in the 2015 Disney Social Media Moms Conference, I paid for my conference passes and was given hotel accommodations, park tickets, invitations to special park events, and some gift items.  I was not required to write about my experiences, and my opinions here are all my own, influenced only by my three little park-h0ppers and Disney-loving husband. 

coral reefs of Palau: The Nature Conservancy free virtual field trip and learning resources

coral reefs of Palauvirtual field trip teachmama.com

sponsored post

 

 

coral reefs of Palauvirtual field trip  teachmama.com

Right about now a lot of us are thinking about sun, sand, and surf.

I know I am. School’s almost out, and over here, we’re all ready for summer to begin.

But before school lets out for the year, there’s still a bunch of learning to be done.

And for those of us who are heading to the shore this summer, those of us who are planning on dipping our toes in the ocean, it might be cool to learn a bit about life underwater–the interconnected city of life in the sea.

Guess what? You can take a trip to the coral reefs of Palau with the click of a button.

Not kidding.

This month, with thanks to The Nature Conservancy’s Nature Works Everywhere, students can take a virtual field trip to learn about the miracle and magic of the coral reefs.

May 19th. 12pm ET.

You’re invited! You’re all invited.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Coral Reefs of Palau: The Nature Conservancy Free Virtual Field Trip and Learning Resources

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.

The Coral Reefs of Palau: Nature’s Amazing Underwater Cities 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.

Got it? Good!

Here are the details:

Who:  teachers, students, parents, anyone

What:virtual field trip! The Coral Reefs of Palau: Nature’s Amazing Underwater Cities free virtual field trip and learning resources  hosted byMarine Biologist Stephanie Wear.

Here, sharks snatch up smaller prey; decorator crabs apply bits of shell, algae, and sponge to their own backs for camouflage; and massive 2,000-pound sea cows graze. Our journey to the Coral Reefs will open students’ eyes to an amazing, interconnected ecosystem built on symbiosis and mutualism, where diverse organisms are designed to protect, clean, nourish, and even camouflage one another. In this underwater city, the coral supports its many “workers” and they, in turn, keep the coral healthy.

Called “the medicine chests of the sea,” Coral Reefs provide ingredients that are leading to new lifesaving medications. They are also an astonishingly rich source of food for many species, including humans, and provide a perfect buffer to protect shorelines from erosion. Join our expert scientist, , as we take a deep dive to learn about one of the “seven underwater wonders of the world.” May 19, 2015 at 12:00 pm (ET). Length: 40 minutes.

Why: to show students that in the Coral Reefs, everything is interconnected—and this includes people. The Coral Reefs function like an undersea city, with every organism having an important role.

Where: whatever works for you–

When: May 19th 2015 at 12 pm ET

How: sign up to take part in the virtual field trip herehttp://ow.ly/M79LK

JOIN US!

Check out Stephanie Wear as she talks about coral reefs feeding and protecting us. (Hint: Use it as a background knowledge builder for the upcoming field trip!)

 

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 have been a bit obsessed ever since I wrote about the Wild Biome Virtual field trip last month. To get a sense of what these virtual field trips are like, you can check out our last post or you can find two of the past Virtual Field Trips here.

prd_026970

Clown-fish-and-coral-reef-in-Moorea-French-Polynesia-c-Jean-Philippe-Palasi_resized

Coral_and_fish

 

 

Again, huge thanks goes to great organizations like The Nature Conservancy and Nature Works Everywhere, for their work to make learning and resources hands-on, accessible, and meaningful.

Check it out!coral reefs virtual field trip  teachmama.com

 

Want to check out a past Virtual Field trip from The Nature Conservancy?

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. 

3 ways to stay connected with long-distance family and friends

3 ways to stay connected to family teachmama.com

sponsored post

 

 

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

I’ve shared time and time again how hard it is for me to live hours from my parents and sisters, even if it’s only a three and a half hour drive.

Sure, it’s a short enough distance that we can make it there and back in a day if need be, but it’s too long to make a quick stop for a Sunday dinner. Or to grab a last-minute babysitter. Or to have a desperately-needed girls’ night out with sisters or mom.

Luckily, though, my kids have a great relationship with their Nanny and Pap and  their PA cousins, aunts and uncles, no matter the distance. But we’ve had to be creative over the years in order to stay in touch.

We’ve got three ways to stay connected with long-distance family and friends.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Stay Connected with Long-Distance Family and Friends:

1. Power Note-Writing

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

Especially for my Nana who is 92, the power note writing is really helpful because Power Note Writing is just that–writing a bunch of notes at one sitting.

Maddy, Owen, Cora, and I sit down for a few hours one afternoon, and we write tons of notes at once.

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

We essentially catch her up on everything that’s going on in our lives. We add photos, we add stickers, we add flowers and jewels.

We get crafty and creative and have a whole lot of fun with it.

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

And then we sign, seal, and stamp each note but add one more important element–a sticky note with a date on it.

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

That date tells us when to put the letter in the mail so that Nana isn’t inundated with mail on one day; instead every few days, we grab a note and put it in the mailbox so that every few days, Nana is surprised with a fun and happy little ‘hello’ from her Maryland great-grandchildren.

 

2. Panasonic HomeTeam™ app

One thing that sure does make staying in touch easier is today’s technology.

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

I’m always willing to take a look at the latest and greatest when it comes to apps and programs that make staying in touch easier–because goodness knows that we’re being pulled in a million different directions all of the time.

I’ve found something that’s really worth checking out: the Panasonic HomeTeam™ app.

 

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

It’s an online service that connects loved ones across generations and distance. And the cool thing is that family members can read stories and play games together even when they’re far apart. And the platform is super-easy to navigate for those less than tech-savvy family members.

HomeTeam is a platform where cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents–anyone!–can connect in a safe way and spend time together.

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

Hundreds of stories are available, like Curious George, Martha Speaks, 5 Little Monkeys, Tuesday, Mr. Wuffles, Jumanji, Animal Sounds, and more–as well as dozens of games like chess, checkers, tic-tac-toe, and more. HomeTeam gives families something to do together that packs a powerful punch–learning and fun.

Definitely check it out.

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

Though it is a paid platform, you get a free 30-day trial, so it’s totally worth trying and seeing if it works for your family.

fyi: Anyone can sample the entire HomeTeam experience, including unlimited access to content and all features free of charge for 30 days. After that, a premium subscription for continued access to unlimited content is available by month ($7.99/mo) and by year ($79.99/yr).

Find more ideas for memory-making with your family thanks to Scholastic and Panasonic.

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

 

3. Weekly Check-In Calls  

I know several friends who keep a standing ‘date’ on the calendar each week for a phone call with grandparents.

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

They pick a day and a time that works, and they know that every week at that time, the grandkids will have a quick catch-up call.

It’s a super time for stories to be exchanged, for questions to be asked, and for connections to be made.

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

Some may believe that the ole phone has become obsolete, but I beg to differ. It’s easy, it’s (usually) fool-proof, and it’s quick.

Put a reminder on your phone. Set the date in pen on your calendar. It’s easier than you think!

 

How do you stay in touch with long-distance family and friends? I’d love to hear it!

 

fyi: This is a sponsored post, written as part of a partnership with Panasonic. However, as always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator, trying to keep my family connected and in touch.

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

egg dying 101 teachmama.com cover

sponsored post

 

 

egg dying 101  teachmama.com 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 | teachmama.com

egg dying 101 | teachmama.com

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  teachmama.com

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  teachmama.com

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  teachmama.com

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  teachmama.com

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  teachmama.com

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 | teachmama.com

egg dying 101 | teachmama.com

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  teachmama.com

egg dying 101  teachmama.com

egg dying 101  teachmama.com

egg dying 101  teachmama.com

egg dying 101  teachmama.com

3.  Make it fun. 

Above all, egg-dying should be fun!

So remember:

egg dying 101  teachmama.com

egg dying 101 | teachmama.com

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  teachmama.com 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 | teachmama.com

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 | teachmama.com

egg dying 101 | teachmama.com

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
    there.
  • 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.

Heeheheheeeee.

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.

Bwwhahaaaaa.

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.

fyi: affilliate links used in this post

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 | teachmama.com

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 | teachmama.com

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

 

 

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

So.

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 | teachmama.com

 

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

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 | teachmama.com

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 | teachmama.com

 

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

how to play bunco with FAMILIES

how to play bunco with FAMILIES | teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

how to play bunco with FAMILIES | teachmama.com

On an off for years now, we’ve played Bunco with our family.

At family gatherings, after the little ones had gone to bed, the adults rocked out a little Bunco fun.

Complete with crazy prizes a la our fun Bingo bonanza, the adults laughed and rolled dice and played Bunco late into the night.

Now that Maddy, Owen, and Cora are older, though, we’ve introduced them to the fun of Bunco.

Bunco is a simple dice-rolling game that leaves little to skill and all to chance. It’s fun–and easy enough for families with mixed-age kids to play.  There’s counting and adding and a whole lot of mathy-math in the mix.

Any sneaky learning is a win in our book.

Here’s the skinny. . .

How to Play Bunco With FAMILIES:

To play Bunco, you need a few simple things. Nothing will break the bank, and the biggest thing you need is a good number of people–twelve players will make it really fun.  So grab another family or two, and you’re probably good.

To play Bunco, you need:

how to play bunco  teachmama.com

Grab our score sheets and table cards here, and make sure that you print enough!

You’ll need the Family Score Cards which are printed two per sheet.

how to play family bunco | teachmama.com

 You can download the Family Bunco Score Sheets here: bunco printables _ family _ teachmama.com

And if you choose to share–which we hope you do!–please link to this post and not the attachment page! Thank you!

 

And you’ll need Table Cards.

You may only need three or four tables, and our printables have you covered through six tables.

how to play family bunco | teachmama.com

 

You can download the Table Cards here: bunco table cards _ family teachmama.com

And if you choose to share–which we hope you do!–please link to this post and not the attachment page! Thank you!

how to play bunco with FAMILIES | teachmama.com

how to play bunco with FAMILIES | teachmama.com

how to play bunco with FAMILIES | teachmama.com

 

Remember: 

The best way to teach kids to play Bunco is by showing them–it gets too confusing when you try to go through the rules.

So take a minute and show them a sample table, how each person rolls and adds and scores, and then you’ll be good to go!

To play Bunco:

  1. 12 players break into 3 tables of 4 players each.
  2. Tables are numbered; table 1 is the ‘head table’; table 2 is middle; table 3 is last.
  3. Players sit across from their ‘temporary team’ member at each table.
  4. One player at head table rings bell to signal start of game.
  5. Players at each table take turns rolling 3 dice, trying to roll the same number as the round     (ex:  roll 1’s during the 1st round = points earned; 2’s during 2nd round, etc.).
  6. Players keep rolling until they score no points, after which time they hand the dice to the next player.  A table scorekeeper tallies points for both teams.
  7. When the head table earns 21 points, the bell is rung, and the round is over.
  8. Points are added.  Each table will have a winning team and a losing team. Players write their score on their personal score sheet and indicate win (W) or loss (L).
  9. Players either stay or move tables depending on whether they won or lost the round. Instructions are on the table cards.  ‘Temporary team’ members MUST switch after each game.

BUNCO = 3 of the same number rolled matches round number (ex: three 2’s during 2nd round = BUNCO!  →  BUNCO = 21 points

Baby Bunco = 3 of same number rolled does not match round number (ex: three 2’s during the 4th round) = Baby Bunco  →  Baby Bunco = 5 points

 

 

You can download our Bunco Rules Sheet here:

how to play bunco | teachmama.com

You can download the Bunco Rules Sheet here: bunco RULES _ family teachmama.com

And if you choose to share–which we hope you do!–please link to this post and not the attachment page! Thank you!

how to play bunco with FAMILIES | teachmama.com

how to play bunco with FAMILIES | teachmama.com

Remember, that the fun part about Bunco is the prizing!

Everyone pays $5 to play! And then, after all of the games are played, count the pot.  Sometimes when we play with families, we only throw in $1 or $2 per person. Kids don’t care–the more singles they win, the better!

  • 50% of total pot goes to the player with the most buncos
  • 30% of total pot goes to the player with the high score
  • 20% of total pot goes to the player with the most wins
  • $5 goes to the player with the  lowest score
  • $5 goes to the player with the most losses

Make this as simple as possible! It doesn’t have to be perfect–just divide the money, give to the winners, and the kids will be happy!

how to play bunco with FAMILIES | teachmama.com

how to play bunco with FAMILIES | teachmama.com

how to play bunco with FAMILIES | teachmama.com

But you cannot forget about the Bunco snacks!

Check out how we do snacks for our  games:

best bunco game night snack ideas | teachmama.com

 

 

The great thing about Bunco is that it’s crazy easy and that you need very little brain power to make it work. 

It’s just enough counting and chance to make it fun for players of all ages. And the simple adding of numbers makes it a cool way of sneaking a little math into the mix.

Some helpful hints for playing with families: 

  • Make sure there’s an adult at each table to help move the game along;
  • Have an adult keep score at each table;
  • Make rolling a Bunco super fun–whomever rolls one must wear a silly hat or necklace or hold a funny toy;
  • Everyone cheers for the winners as they move tables;
  • Go easy on snacks–maybe keep something healthy at the tables and keep the sweets in the kitchen!
  • Have fun!

 

And if you’re looking for a fun Girls’ Night Out, here’s everything you need:

 

how to play bunco everything you need teachmama.com.png

 

 

 

 

This post is part of our #livefocused in 2015 series; February is our month to focus on friendship. It’s been a blast.

Find out more here:

live focused in 2015: give yourself a fresh start and live with intention

 

ive focused in 2015 organization teachmama.com sq

 

live focused in 2015 friendship teachmama.com sq

 

 

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

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime teachmama.com

sponsored post

 

 

a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime  teachmama.com

 

We are so lucky now that our kids can literally have the world at their fingertips. With technology today and well-designed educational apps, kids can basically explore the world from the comfort of their own home.

Virtual travel is something that our family has enjoyed for years now–through food especially.

Recently we had a chance to do a little exploration of sorts–enjoying a meal at a nearby Belgian restaurant and then challenging ourselves to make the same recipe at home.

It was a blast.

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

And along the way, we researched and experimented and learned a ton.

Your at-home cultural adventure need not be focused on Belgian mussels; you can do whatever exploring suits your own family. But here’s how we did it.

And read on to find out how you can even win a chance at a $25,000 Trip of a Lifetime for your family.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Belgian Mussels With Kids–A Cultural Adventure at Home:

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

When we started brainstorming how we wanted to explore another culture at home, we started first by looking around us.

  • What ethnic restaurants were nearby?
  • Which cultures did we want to explore?
  • What foods did we want to try?
  • What could we do with little financial strain?
  • Which recipes could we then try at home?
  • What interested my kids most? 

We really didn’t have to look too far. With a top-rated Belgian restaurant named Mannekin-Pis within an hour’s driving distance, I knew we had a winner.

A little research into the background of the restaurant–and the reason for its name–was enough to get Maddy, Owen, and Cora more than interested.

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

I simply copied a bit of information about the real Mannekin-Pis in Brussels, Belgium, and I left it on the breakfast table.

And the minute the kids caught sight of the small boy statue, relieving himself into a fountain, they went nuts.

What the whaaaa?  Look at what that guy is doing!

He’s peeing in a fountain! Mom! Why’d you leave this here? 

Why is he in all those different costumes? Who’s dressing him up?

 

Then Maddy, Owen, and Cora read the articles, and they found some answers.

We talked a little about what they learned: who the statue was, some of the legends, where he was located, and why he was all dressed up.

I said, So we’re actually going to go to a restaurant not too far from us that is called Mannekin-Pis, and we’re going to try some new Belgian foods. How’s that sound?

They were psyched. Psyched.

At the restaurant, we explored a ton of new foods: traditional Belgian mussels, seafood stew, potato-leek soup, pork, trout, and of course, Belgian chocolates for dessert.

We were thrilled to try to replicate one of the recipes on our own, and we decided that the mussels would be the most fun to try.

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

Owen stepped up as the main chef for our mussels dinner. We searched and searched and found a recipe that most reminded us of the pot of mussels we had only a few nights before: Mussels in Saffron and White Wine Broth.

We made our shopping list, assembled our ingredients, and started cooking.

Our recipe had us trying saffron, a new-for-us spice, and preparing a food we had never previously attempted.

If you’d like to grab our recipe, you can download it here as a pdf: belgian mussels _ teachmama.com

belgian mussels with kids | teachmama.combelgian mussels _ teachmama.com

(If you choose to share the recipe–and we hope you do!–please link to this post instead of the attachment page! Thank you!)

Owen really took charge of this recipe. It was a riot.

He did everything from chopping the vegetables for the broth to cutting bread to cleaning the mussels, and he was uber proud when he finished.

 

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

The mussels were a complete success!

But even more important than making a new for us food was showing Maddy, Owen, and Cora that with a little bit of time, effort, and energy, they could bring a totally new culture to our very own home.

I love it when kids do some serious learning in the kitchen!

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

You could do just about anything like we did–experience a new food at a restaurant and then try to bring it home.

It’s a fantastic learning experience for the whole family.

And it doesn’t have to stop with food; consider learning a new culture through crafts, dances, songs, or language.

 

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

 

MWorld Educational App:

Or, if you’re not sure where to begin, know that bringing cool cultural experiences into our homes is easier than ever thanks to technology.

We’ve been playing with a new app for the past few weeks called MWorld.

mworld app

MWorld is an educational app that lets kids celebrate the world in all its glory.

The MWorld app allows users to explore, create their own worlds, and discover new and exciting adventures.

 

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

mworld app collage | teachmama.com

 

Created by an incredible team of educators and developers from Monash University, this app packs an incredible amount of fun and creative learning into one platform. 

Maddy, Owen, and Cora are only just beginning to scratch the surface of all that MWorld has to offer. And they’re learning a ton and enjoying the ride.

It’s a must-see.

I have 100, 20-credit MWorld codes to give to 100 teachmama.com readers valued at over $25 each!

Here’s how:

  1. Head over to MWorld site, discoverMWorld.com, and create an account.
  2. Enter this special code: amymwjtujg
  3. Log into your account and redeem your 20 MWorld credits!

Please note:  This offer is only valid with purchase and can only be redeemed once per account. All MWorld purchases are subject to the terms and conditions available atdiscovermworld.com/terms-conditions.

Trip of a Lifetime: 

mworld trip of a lifetime | teachmama.com

Free codes for 100 teachmama.com readers? Really.

And a chance to win a Trip of a Lifetime? Yes. Really.

Do you want to go on the trip of a lifetime? To celebrate the global launch of MWorld, Monash is offering an adventurous family the opportunity to travel the world with a AUD $25,000 (over USD $20,000) travel voucher.

Head to the Trip of a Lifetime site to find out more and to share what you would do on your ‘trip of a lifetime’

Who knows? You may win your trip around the world, iPads, GoPros, and more!  If you win, let me know!!

 

 

fyi: This post is part of my work with the MWorld Trip of a Lifetime program.  As always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my personal experience as a parent and educator–and, of course, my three little world travelers.

melted bead suncatchers: celebrating ‘the artful year’

melted bead suncatchers: celebrating 'the artful year' with Jean Van't Hul's latest book

post contains affiliate links

 

 

melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com

One of my dear friends has just published her second book–it’s a book that is so filled with crafty awesome, it’s a must-have for all families.

My pal Jean is the author of The Artful Parent blog, and I’ve known her for years, often linking to her here on teachmama.com and always looking to her for cool ideas to use with Maddy, Owen, and Cora.

I’m thrilled to have been asked to be a part of her blog tour for this new book, called The Artful Year, and I’m totally psyched to have a copy to give away to one lucky teachmama reader.

Though we bookmarked a dozen different ideas to try and share with you, we settled on Melted Bead Suncatchers–and we turned ours into a Melted Bead Suncatcher Mobile, just like they do in the book.

It turned out so beautiful and festive for Valentine’s Day, that I wish we would have done it years ago.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Melted Bead Suncatcher: 

We wanted to make something for the upcoming Valentine holiday, but the cool thing with this craft is that you could adapt it for any time of the year.

melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com

melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com

In order to create the Melted Bead Suncatcher, you need: 

  • translucent plastic pony beads
  • old metal baking dishes, old metal cookie cutters
  • grill or toaster oven
  • power drill or metal grommets
  • string

melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com

The details for how to make these are outlined clearly in The Artful Year but essentially, you follow these basic instructions:

1. Choose the cookie cutter shapes that you want to use. We chose four heart shapes for Valentine’s Day.

melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com

melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com

2. Place the cookie cutters on the metal baking pan. We used an old 8′ x 8″ metal baking pan and lined it with aluminum foil.

3. Arrange the beads in a single layer in the old metal baking dishes.

melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com

melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com

4. Place the pan on the grill and close the grill cover.  Check on the beads, but keep an eye on them. Ours took about 5-8 minutes to melt.

5. Remove the pan from the grill and let cool completely.

melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com

 

melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com

melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com

melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com

6. Pop the melted shape out of the cookie cutter and drill a small hole at the top, where you want the string to hang.

We connected ours, and it turned out super cute.

melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com  melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com

 

We love, love, love how these turned out.

And as an educator, I love how parents can really sneak in some learning opportunities here.

  • Let your child sort the colors into the cookie cutter shapes. Color sorting is a great skill!
  • Using a small pair or tweezers or prongs to pinch the beads is great fine motor work for little hands!
  • Let your child work through the best way to string together multiple suncatcher shapes so that it hangs properly.

So many possibilities.

melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com

melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com

The Artful Year is filled with dozens of seasonal and holiday crafts and recipes.

This Melted Bead Suncatcher Mobile is just one of many, and we cannot wait to get our craft on for the rest of this year.

 

The-Artful-Year-Book-Cover-|

 

One of the cool things about this book is that it’s not only crafts–it’s also filled with tons of seasonal recipes, too, which is one of our favorite ways of spending time together as a family–crafting, eating, and cooking!

Jean does an incredible job of dividing activities into categories:

  • activities for all seasons;
  • activities for spring;
  • activities for summer;
  • activities for autumn;
  • activities for winter.

The-Artful-Year-Book-Summer-Recipes

 

The-Artful-Year-Book-Spring-and-Easter-Crafts

 

And each section is filled with beautiful images of Jean and her girls, the crafts, and recipes.  And each and every entry is concise, manageable to create, and engaging. I can hear Jean’s sweet and patient voice behind each word. I love it.

Tons of my talented bloggy friends are supporting Jean through her book launch, doing book giveaways and celebrating this work of art.

Check them out:
The-Artful-Year-Blog-Tour-

I’m proud to be a part of this mix and do hope you grab a copy of this book, friends.

*************************************

 

GIVEAWAY: Your very own copy of The Artful Year, by Jean Van’t Hul.

Do you want to win your own copy of The Artful Year??!  Yes, yes you do.  

Two chances to win, friends:

1. Leave a comment here,  letting us know why YOU need a copy of this book!

2. Subscribe to teachmama.com via email or newsletter.  We’ll be giving away a second copy of this book to email subscribers only! So get your name in the mix now!

——————————-

By entering this giveaway, you are demonstrating your understanding of and compliance with the Official Sweepstakes Rules.

This giveaway ends Saturday, February 28, 2015 at midnight ET and is open to residents of US, UK, Australia, and Canada. Winner will be chosen by ‘random.org’ and will be notified on or around 02/28/15.  Winner must respond within three (3) days of notification or forfeit the prize, in which case an alternate winner will be selected.  All Official Sweepstakes Rules apply.

——————————-

 

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

valentine’s day class party ideas: cool activities to get kids moving and creating

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

sponsored post

 

 

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

Let’s face it: classroom parties are difficult to throw.

Scratch that.  Class parties easy to throw but difficult to throw well.

And what I’ve found over time–and by being a classroom parent for five years–is that certain things work and certain things don’t.

Having three kids in elementary school has helped me tremendously to be a better planner, organizer, and facilitator of THE class party.

So this Valentine’s Day, I’m mixing things up a bit.

We’ve got some really cool activities to get kids moving and creating, and I’m confident it will be awesome.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Valentine’s Day Class Party Ideas–Cool Activities to Get Kids Moving and Creating: 

Definitely check out Valentine’s Day Class Parties, 2.0 so you can grab a copy of the parent letter.  You need that because you need help and support of other parents if you want to make this party rock!

After connecting with the classroom teacher about times, activities, and details, I came up with the following plan for this year’s party:

Class Party Plan: Every party needs a plan.

valentine's day class party ideas: cool activities to get kids moving and creating

You want the parents to know what’s going on, and you want the teacher to know what’s going on.

And it’s never perfect; sometimes you’re ahead and sometimes you’re behind, but you need a guide. You need a game plan.

This year’s Class Party Plan is here to download if you’d like to use it: valentine party plan 2015

(And as with all of the printables on this site, if you do choose to share it–and we hope you do!–please link to this post instead of the attachment page. Thank you!)

3 15-minute stations:

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com bags

You always need a quick and easy way to divide the class into smaller groups. I like using heart foamies or stickers that the kids put right on their shirts or hands. Use any of the stickers mentioned here–the
Melissa and Doug Sweets & Treats Stickers Pad
have so many you can try.  Maybe have a cherry group, a candy group, and a gum ball group. Or a flower candy, kiss candy, and gumdrop candy group.

Just remember to cut out the stickers before the party, put them in a hat or small bag and have the students pick one at the beginning of the party. Voila! Your groups are created!

 

1. Decorate Valentine Mail Bags: 

valentine's day class party ideas: cool activities to get kids moving and creating

This is the first time that we’ve ever added this into the party mix, so it was really fun for me to hunt down something that would work for our class.

The key here is to be quick, but fun and engaging.

I love what we came up with, and you can find all of the details here: Valentine Mail Bags.

 

2. Art Station: 

I wanted activities that would be cool for the kids but that they could take home, stress free immediately after the party. So that eliminates any gluey projects.

Thankfully, my friends at Melissa & Doug have a few fabulous options for us.

  • Sand Art

valentine's day class party ideas: sand art | teachmama.com

Really. Sand Art at a class party is doable. It’s quick. It’s way cool. And you can make it relatively mess-free.

The Melissa and Doug Sand Art Bottles Craft Kit come three to a pack, but they’re affordable. It makes so much more sense to use your class donations for something like this rather than those teeny, junky prizes kids will throw away when they get home.

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

So to do the Sand Art, you’ll definitely need to save your take-out containers–the lids will work perfectly as little bases for the plastic containers.

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

Bring a roll of duct tape and make a big tape roll so that the container stays still on the plastic lid. That way, when kids are pouring sand in, they won’t wiggle and wobble.

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

——————————————

  • Scratch Art

We’ve used Scratch Art before for both our Valentine parties and Valentine cards. Kids really like them.

We will use Scratch Art Stickers, Scratch Art Keychains, and Scratch Art Fashion this year. I think kids will dig the choices.

valentine's day class party ideas scratch art  teachmama.comScratch Art Stickers come two sheets per pack, so I plan to tear them in half and then in half again for four sheets per pack. We used
Melissa and Doug Scratch Art® Animal Friends Stickers
.

Scratch Art Keychains come six per party pack, and I had several packs left over from a birthday party a while back, so I thought I’d add them to the Scratch Art table.  Love these:  Melissa and Doug Scratch Art® Party Pack – Key Chains.

Scratch Art Fashion (Melissa and Doug Scratch Art® Party Pack – Fashion) come twelve per pack, and we used these way back when Maddy turned 9 (her Golden Birthday!), so I added a few packs of these to the mix.

I am not forcing all kids to do all art here; rather, I figured that since the projects are super quick, that they could do two in the 15 minute rotation. Or if they finish quickly and want to do three, that’s fine, too. Or if they’re meticulous and only finish Sand Art, great. That’s their take-away.

——————————————

3. Action Games:

Kids need to move. Big time. Great parties have a mix of movement and craft, so here’s our ‘get up and move’ portion.  I think since we have 15 minutes for this, we’ll walk through each activity together, one by one.

Best bet for these? Go out in the hallway so you have the most room.

  • Frisbee Race

valentine's day class party ideas frisbee  teachmama.com

Be the team to have the most hearts on the Flying Disk by the end of the game!  The little Melissa and Doug Tootle Turtle Flying Disk are adorable and perfect for this game, and all you need are a bunch of small  tissue paper and construction paper hearts on top.

valentines day class party 2015 | teachmama.com

valentines day class party 2015 | teachmama.com

1. Divide the small group in half.  Put students in two lines at one end of the hallway.

2. Tape two hearts on the floor at the opposite end of the hall, one for each team.

3. Give the first person one flying disc with about 20 hearts on top of it.

4. That person moves as quickly to the end of the hallway, touches the heart on the floor, and walks back to his or her team.  Depending on the age of the kids, make this one-handed or two-handed.

5. As carefully as possible, the student hands the disc to the next person, and the next person does the same thing.

6. The winning team has the most hearts at the end of the race!

——————————————-

  • Love Bugs Cleanup

valentine's day class party ideas: love bugs | teachmama.com

Be the team to move the most love bugs from the big pile to the small container!  All you need are shovels (I like the
Melissa and Doug Clicker Crab Shovel
), small plastic container (we used takeout containers) and a bunch of plastic bugs. We used
Melissa and Doug Bag of Bugs
.

valentines day class party 2015 | teachmama.com

valentines day class party 2015 | teachmama.com

valentines day class party 2015 | teachmama.com

1. Students are divided into two teams, just like before.

2. Dump all of the love bugs in a pile at the other end of the hallway.

3. The first person in each line takes the plastic shovel, runs to the love bug pile, and tries to scoop up as many love bugs as possible.

4. He or she then transfers those bugs to the small plastic container at the opposite end of the hallway.

5. The team that transfers the most love bugs at the end wins!

 ———————————————–

  • Heart Target

This is super-simple and the only thing that makes it Valentines-y is the fact that there are hearts around the cute little target. Whatever.  It’s hand-eye coordination. It’s numbers. It’s sneaky math, friends! It’s a win.

For this game, you need a target. We used the Melissa and Doug Tootle Turtle Target Game.

1. Two teams stand about 5 feet away from the target.

2. At the same time (we need to up the fun factor here, folks), players toss a beanbag at the target.  They get two beanbags to throw.

3. The parent facilitator writes down the score on the score sheet: heart target score sheet

4. The team with the highest score at the end wins!

valentines class party ideas | teachmamacom

heart target score sheet

Make it fun by having the score posted on the wall and encourage the kids to keep score as you go.

Please note: Class parties should be fun, easy, and low-stress for all kids. If you have sensitive kids in the class or think that keeping score may be stressful, don’t do it! Maybe instead give one point for every beanbag that hits the target.

Keep it light!

 ——————————————

Valentine Delivery:

Everyone’s favorite part of the party, right? Move kids back to their seats.

Snack and Valentine Delivery will happen simultaneously, because the kids can’t possibly all deliver their Valentines and the same exact moment.

valentines day class party 2015 | teachmama.com

So have kids sit down, and have parents pass out the plates of food.

Then call each group up at a time to get their Valentines and deliver them to their classmates.  While one group is delivering, two groups are eating.

Try to keep it level.

Snack

Our school only allows store-bought treats at this point because they’re trying to keep all allergies under control. I get it. It makes it so much easier and so much safer for those families for whom allergies are an every day fear.

For Valentine’s Day class parties, I’ll have:

  • small water bottles
  • Valentine cupcakes from the store
  • Individually wrapped goldfish snacks or pretzel snacks
  • individually wrapped fruit–apples or small fruit cups

That’s it. Call me crazy, but I don’t think kids need a mad sugar overload here. A little sweet treat and a little healthy treat, and we’re done. Bam.

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com bags

Extra time?

It’s doubtful that if you follow this schedule you’ll have extra time, but if you do, an oldie but goodie: Freeze Dance!  Turn on the music, and let kids jam it out while it plays.

When the music stops, everybody freezes.

Easy and fun.

Plus, the kids love to show off their moves.

And if kids don’t want to play, no biggie! Let them open up their Valentines!

 ———————————————-

valentine's day class party ideas, 2.0 | teachmama.com

valentine's day party ideas

I love sharing what we do at our class parties so that it’s easier for other parents to throw their own class parties.

This shouldn’t be difficult. It’s been done for years and years now, so there are a boatload of ideas out there.
What are your favorite Valentine ideas for kids? I’d love to hear ’em!

Here are a few of ours:

 

I wr2015-BlogAmbassador-Iconote this post as part of the Melissa & Doug Blog Ambassador program.   I’ve worked with Melissa & Doug for years and years now, and am always raving about their products for fun and learning. Read theMelissa & Doug blog to get the skinny! 

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