4 sums in a row: quick & easy math game

4 sums in a row: quick & easy math game | super summertime game for pool bags or car rides from teachmama.com

4 sums in a row: quick & easy math game | super summertime game for pool bags or car rides from teachmama.com

This summer, we’re all about quick and easy.

We’re all about games and activities that pack a powerful punch because goodness knows we’re doing the best we can just to keep our heads afloat during our busy swim and dive season.

One super-quick and easy game that Owen brought home this year from school has come up several times this summer. It’s quick. It’s different.

He really likes it.

It’s simple in concept but requires a bit of strategy.

It’s called ‘4 sums in a row’ and the goal is just that: to get four sums in a row, so kids are playing with numbers and strategizing ways of choosing numbers that will give them a big win.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • 4 Sums in a Row–Quick and Easy Math Game:  Like I said, the object is simple–two players work to get four sums in a row.

It’s a game that is great to shove in your purse or pool bag for times when you’re in waiting rooms, on the sidelines, or at restaurants.

4 sums in a row: quick & easy math game | super summertime game for pool bags or car rides from teachmama.com

4 sums in a row: quick & easy math game | super summertime game for pool bags or car rides from teachmama.com

Here’s how it works:

You’ll need:

  • 4 Sums in a Row boards (download them here: 4 sums game _ teachmama.com
  • two different types pawns, one for each player (use Cheerios, gems from gem jar, beads, buttons, pennies–anything)
  • 2 paper clips

4 sums in a row: quick & easy math game | super summertime game for pool bags or car rides from teachmama.com

 

1. Player one moves the paper clips over two numbers along the bottom row.

2. He or she then adds those numbers and puts a pawn over the sum on the board above.

3. Player two moves one paper clip to another number and leaves the other on the number Player one chose.

4. Player two puts his or her pawn on the sum of the two numbers covered by paper clips.

5. Play continues back and forth until the first player gets four sums in a row!

4 sums in a row: quick & easy math game | super summertime game for pool bags or car rides from teachmama.com

Love it.

Print it out on a piece of cardstock or slip it into a plastic sleeve, and it’s more likely to have a longer life.

I also made a blank sheet to go along with it. Allowing kids to use their brains and creativity to actually make their own boards is a sneaky way of keeping them engaged and learning. And? They totally love it.

Again, here’s the board: 4 sums game _ teachmama.com

Want a few more at-home, make-em-yourself-games? Check out: 

shrinky dink flag bracelet: super-cool patriotic craft

shrinky dink flag bracelet: super-cool patriotic craft

shrinky dink flag bracelet: super-cool patriotic craftThe following Rockstar Sunday guest post is written by one of the coolest gals on the planet, Becky Morales.  Becky is a mom, teacher, and creator of Kid World Citizen, where she shares activities that ‘help young minds go global’.

How cool is that?  So cool, right?

Becky is super-passionate about global education, geo-literacy, service learning, educational technology connecting students to the world, and cultural exchange.

She’s getting more awesome by the second. I know.

Today, she’s sharing a fun way that you can help your kiddos ‘go global’ in time for July 4th.  Super-cool craft that involves flags, tracing, beads, and shrinky dinks.

You’ll totally fall in love with her by the end of the post. You must check out her blog.

(But read this first. You’ll be glad you did.)

————————-

  • Shrinky Dink Flag Bracelet–super-Cool Patriotic Craft, by Becky Morales

When a good family friend from the UK recently moved from the US to Canada, we wanted to give her daughter something small and special to take with her.

 

shrinky dink flag bracelet: super-cool patriotic craft

I was playing with the idea of incorporating the three countries’ flags and decided to have my kids make a DIY shrinky dink bracelet: patriotic charms that we would draw onto plastic, and then shrink in the oven.

Materials:

  • #6 plastic (trust me, the other numbers do not work!)*
  • sharpies or other permanent markers
  • pictures of flags
  • foil
  • elastic or string (for the bracelet)
  • other beads

The best place that I was able to find lots of #6 plastic was the salad bar at our supermarket. #6 plastic is very thin and will shrink down evenly without warping like other plastics.

shrinky dink flag bracelet: super-cool patriotic craft

If your kids would like to trace the flags, print out a copy of them and tape down the plastic.

The flags we used were sized around 2 inches wide (because remember they will shrink!).  The kids can trace and color in the flags, and also make little charms of anything else they like: little globes, fancy names, hearts, peace signs, etc.

Next, punch holes in each charm before you bake! The plastic will be too hard to make holes after it shrinks.

shrinky dink flag bracelet: super-cool patriotic craft

shrinky dink flag bracelet: super-cool patriotic craft

Lay the plastic charms on a single sheet of foil. Bake for only a couple of minutes at 350 degrees (you can watch them shrink!).

Once the charms have cooled down, string them together to make your bracelet. My kids had so much fun working on their project, and loved being able to give our friends something they had made themselves.

shrinky dink flag bracelet: super-cool patriotic craft

 

We looked up where Canada and the UK were in comparison to Texas, and saw their relative positions.

We also tried to guess differences in the weather between our home and their new home in Calgary. Once they made the Canadian and British flags, they began to notice them everywhere: at the airport, on a t-shirt, at school.

These fun little geography lessons really do stick and begin to form a foundation that children will recall later.

Thank you, Becky!! This is such a cool idea–I cannot wait to try it!

0Aboutpic_small

 

Becky is the mom of 5 multicultural kids, an ESL teacher, author of The Global Education Toolkit for Elementary Learners and founder of KidWorldCitizen.org. She is passionate about activities that teach kids cultural and global awareness.

 

Looking for more ways to create a literacy-focused environment? Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards:

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

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

 rockstar sunday promo teachmama

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

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

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

other posts in the series:

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids

frozen birthday party games, crafts, and more  teachmama.com.png

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kidsI’m singing ‘Let it gooooo, let it gooooooo. . . ‘ now, as I realize that this post was to have gone live three months ago, and it’s just happening now.

After our rockstar Frozen birthday for Cora, well. . . life got in the way. So here it is.

The companion post to our Frozen snowball tower post, here’s our Frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids.

It’s everything else we did for Cora’s Frozen birthday–the crafts we made, the activities, and everything that made it awesome.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Frozen Birthday Party–Best Ideas for Crafty Kids:

Cora knew what she wanted to do from the start–she wanted to have a Frozen birthday and watch the movie with her friends.

But I knew that we needed a little bit more than just the movie for her party.

Cora knew from the start that she wanted to watch the movie Frozen, so that was one of the main activities she wanted. But she also wanted to do crafts. Big kid crafts because really? Her friends were seven after all.

We came up with a two craft party plan: 1. make-your-own cozy fleece blanket; and 2. Frozen sparkly bracelets.

Here’s the skinny:

  • Make-Your-Own Cozy Fleece Blanket: We thought these would be fun so that the girls could get all comfy while they watched the movie, and they’d have a usable gift to take home after the event.

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids | teachmama.com

 

Plus, Owen made a fleece pillow at one of his buddy’s parties a few months back, and I loved, loved the idea.

My amazing mother-in-law helped me a ton with the fleece blanket part of this party because she’s not only a crafty crafter, but she’s a math whiz.

For our blankets, because we were using them as party favors, we really did want to keep cost in mind.  Fleece comes in different weights or thicknesses and can vary greatly in price. We wanted ours to be nice but we knew we didn’t need super-high end here.

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids | teachmama.com

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids | teachmama.com

We bought 7 yards of solid fabric and 7 yards of print fabric.  The solid fabric was less expensive, at $3/ yard and the heavier weight print was on sale for $6/ yard.

We made two blankets/ 2 yards with each blanket using a total of two different pieces of fleece—a top and bottom, a solid and a print.

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids | teachmama.com

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids | teachmama.com

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids | teachmama.com

If you want to print out the instructions for making our fleece blankets, you can do so here: fleece blanket – frozen party _ teachmama.com

You’ll need:

1.  We cut each yard in half to make two 30x 36” blankets per yard of fabric.

To cut the fabrics, lay out the fabrics together, one on top of the other, with the ‘good’ sides both facing out.

2.  Trim the outside edges slightly to make them even, and then cut down the middle.  You’ll have two complete blankets, each about 30” x 36”.

3.  Next, with two fabrics still together, cut a 3” square from each corner.

4.  Then cut strips of 1” x 3” along each side to be knotted together.  The idea is that the kids can tie the pieces together as an activity during the party.

5.  Tie several knots at each corner and one knot along each side to make it easier for the kids.

6. Iron on the letters following package directions and place wherever children would like!

7. Get cozy, pop some popcorn, and enjoy your fleece blanket!

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids | teachmama.com

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids | teachmama.com


The second part of the party activities involved having the kids make super-awesome, sparkly Frozen bracelets.

 

Brace yourself. These were goooooorgeous.

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids | teachmama.com

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids | teachmama.com

 

 

[Read more…]

online virtual playground for animal and science fans

online virtual playground for animal and science fans | teachmama.com

Admittedly, we’re a little slow on the draw when it comes giving our kids the ‘go’ on most online activities.online virtual playground for animal and science fans cover.png

I’m over-cautious and because my living is made in the social media space, I know what’s out there. And I know there are way too many kids with way to much freedom online.

And sometimes that frightens me.

So when I find something that gives my kids a little sometimes-needed space, keeps them safe, engaged, and interested, and is fun? I’d say that ‘s a huge win for us.

I’ve recently found an online virtual playground of sorts for animal and science fans. For kids who dig the outdoors, for kids who love creating their own, customized spaces, for kids who love playing games and really love learning.

It’s called Animal Jam, and right now, my kids are loving it.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Online Virtual Playground for Animal and Science Fans:

Thanks to the great people of National Geographic for creating this online space for our kids with the goal of providing a fun, exciting, and safe environment for kids to play online.

online virtual playground for animal and science fans | teachmama.com

online virtual playground for animal and science fans | teachmama.com

Really.

Apparently, it’s been around for a few years now, but we just discovered it.

It’s the only ‘online virtual playground’ I’ll let my kids hang out in, and here’s why I like it:

  • It’s fun.  It’s been the ‘go-to’ game for Owen and Cora for the last two months. They want to play because they enjoy the ever-changing platform and the challenges.
  • Kids have control. They can customize their characters, name and care for pets, complete missions, attend ‘parties’, buy things, and design anything from their hut to their outfit.

online virtual playground for animal and science fans | teachmama.com

 

  • Kids are learning.   They keep track of their adventures in their JourneyBooks, and they collect pictures for each place, a kind of chronicle of their history of the game.  When they click on a picture of an animal, plant, landform, you name it, a little bit of information comes up about that thing. It’s SO cool.
  • The Golden Rule is stressed often. Little reminders for kids about being nice and interacting kindly are prominent on the site and are shown regularly.  Nice Jammers trade, become ‘buddies’ and the idea of being a good ‘digital citizen’ is mentioned often.

online virtual playground for animal and science fans | teachmama.com

online virtual playground for animal and science fans | teachmama.com

 

  • It’s safe.  I control the levels of ‘chat’ that my kids can engage in, and I have access to all account information. Safety tips are shared, just like the Golden Rule reminders.
  • There’s tons of follow-up and extension activities. I love the Animal Jam Academy, which offers free printables, experiments, activities, videos, and more.
  • It’s totally worth the money.  You can play free, but members have access to everything on the site–more than just anyone who drops in. I rarely buy these kinds of programs and platforms, but with the added bang for my buck in terms of science learning along the way, I think it’s a no-brainer.

online virtual playground for animal and science fans | teachmama.com

online virtual playground for animal and science fans | teachmama.com

Is it perfect? Probably not. But for us, it works–and especially during the long summer months when kids start getting antsy and need something new, this can be it.

Reading, learning, planning, and thinking. Designing, questioning, and collecting. It’s cool.

Our kids are also loving using the  Acer C720P Chromebook for the game–it’s a touchscreen meets laptop, and it’s totally fab for little hands. 

 

fyi: Though I am a new member of the National Geographic Kids Insiders group, this is an unsponsored post. All opinions are my own, as always, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator. 

fyi: I am in a partnership with Intel AIO . Through this partnership I gain access to content, product, or other forms of value. Affiliate links are used in this post.

disney pin trading: why it rocks for families

disney pin trading: why it rocks for families

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

disney pin trading why it rocks for families  teachmama.com.pngThis spring, my family was elated to have been invited to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration in Disneyland.

It. Was. Amazing.

Not only did we hear from amazing speakers and make incredible connections with talented bloggers from around the country, but we also had the chance to explore Disneyland for the very first time.   Disneyland rocks.

We prepared with our Disney Fun Fact lunchbox notes, and we totally pulled off the most amazing Disney surprise scavenger hunt ever for our kids. And the trip did not disappoint.

For the very first time, we pin traded. We Disney pin traded.

And I totally think it rocks for families. Every family should try it, and the Disney vacation–no matter whether it’s Disney World or Disneyland–is taken to a whole new level.

Our kids were the perfect ages at 10, 8, and 7 years old.

We’re totally and completely hooked on pin trading.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Disney Pin Trading–Why it Rocks for Families:

disney pin trading | why it rocks for families | teachmama.com

disney pin trading | why it rocks for families | teachmama.com

Essentially, Disney pin trading is just that: trading Disney-themed pins at Disney parks. 

Simple, right? Right.

You can take Disney pin trading to just about any level you want, or you can challenge yourself to gather entire lines, sets, or mini collections. We went simple. Believe me.

We started with a handful of pins to get us started.

disney pin trading | why it rocks for families | teachmama.com

disney pin trading | why it rocks for families | teachmama.com

For the six or so weeks we had to prepare for our trip, Maddy, Owen, and Cora worked hard to earn their pins. We:

  • purchased a beginner set of Disney pins from Amazon;
  • found some lanyards we had around the house (you can buy lanyards pretty inexpensively);
  • explained that for every 10 gems the kids earned, they could earn one pin;
  • took time each Sunday evening to count gems and to choose pins;
  • whomever’s day it was chose first–he or she handed in 10 gems and grabbed a pin from the dish;
  • added pins to lanyards as the weeks went on;
  • began trading once we hit the parks!

It was awesome. And for so many reasons I believe Disney pin trading rocks, but I share my top 5 reasons here:

fyi: The teachmama.com youtube channel is all about sharing quick teaching tips, reading strategies, and parenting tricks with parents and caregivers.

It’s about empowering parents to be the best teachers they can be for their children. Subscribe here so you don’t miss a thing!

 

We all really had a blast with pin trading.

I know the kids now look at their lanyards much differently–they know the story behind nearly every pin.

 

disney pin trading | teachmama.com

 

disney pin trading | teachmama.com

 

Need a little more info before you get started? Check out my friend Tiffany’s post: Disney Pin Trading 101. It’s awesome.

 

 

 

fyi: Affiliate links are used in this post.

best books for reading under the stars: scholastic summer reading challenge

http://www.scholastic.com/ups/campaigns/src-2014

sponsored post

 

 

 

This summer, the kids and I plan on doing a whole lot of reading. summertime reading under the stars  scholastic summer reading challenge.png

Reading at the pool, out on the porch, reading on a blanket on the grass out back. And a whole lot of reading under the stars.

Maybe not every night, but you better believe that we’re going to rock it out for a few backyard campouts this summer.  Complete with flashlights, s’mores, bugspray, and a whole lot of blankets, we’re going to make the most of our ‘staycation summer’.

And though camping isn’t a staple in our lives, we do want to try it. Okay, so we’ve never actually taken the kids camping. . . does that make us the worst parents ever?  I mean, aren’t there worse things?–

The theme of Scholastic’s Summer Reading Challenge this year is ‘Reading Under the Stars’, so we’ve decided that this is our summer to do it.

Camping. In our back yard.

But first, we’ll do a whole lot of reading about camping and the stars to build and activate schema–to get those brains moving and to prepare our kids for the big night.

With a little help from Scholastic, I’ve gathered a handful of the best books for reading under the stars.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Best Books for Reading Under the Stars–Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge:

If you’re going to do it, you might as well really do it up.

 

best books for reading under the stars | scholastic summer reading teachmama.com

Before the big camp-out, we’ll read a little bit about camping, the stars and space so that when we’re gazing up at the night sky, we can at least (maybe?) identify some of the pictures up there.

So that when we’re packing for our big camp-out we’ll know what to throw in the bags.

So that during the crazy camp-out, we’ll kind of know what to expect. Kind of.

best books for reading under the stars  teachmama.com .png

We’ll check out a few oldies but goodies and a few new-to-us books about reading under the stars: 

 

scholastic summer reading challenge

Have your kids help Scholastic break last year’s world record of 176,438,473 minutes read during the summer!

 

summertime reading | scholastic

 

And we’ll also do all we can to rock it with the Scholastic Reading Under the Stars Summer Reading Challenge.

Every year we participate in the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge, and this summer is no different!

The deal?

  • We do it because reading rocks, and. . . well. . . kids need to read consistently and continually all summer long!
  • Summer reading should be fun, and this challenge is fun for kids; a free online reading timer, weekly challenges with rewards, prizes, and more.
  • There’s even a super-fun Summer Solstice Book Swap (via Google+ Hangout) on Thursday, June 19th at 9 p.m. EST with me (yay!) and my buddy, Allie McDonald of No Time for Flashcards.  Join us!!
  • Get more information and RSVP for the Google + hangout, click  here. To get some helpful tips before the Hangout, be sure to read my guide to planning your Summer Reading Book Review Party and Swap.

summertime reading | scholastic

summertime reading | scholastic

 

  • Kids can log their minutes and read big prizes;
  • Teachers can register students and track their progress;
  • Parents can download tons of free resources and articles about how to support literacy in the home and how to bring literacy home to their kids.
  • Awesome. Fun. Totally doing it.

And that’s it! Just a few little ways we’re slooooowly moving into the summer groove and slooooooly preparing ourselves for our big backyard camp-out!

 

Tell me: are you big into camping? Does your whole family go? 

But even more importantly: Is your family big into summer reading programs?  Why or why not?

Would love to hear your opinions in the comments!

 

fyi: This post was written as a partnership with Scholastic Circle.

Affiliate links are used within.

kid craft sale: supporting young entrepreneurs (with Astrobrights giveaway!)

kid craft sale: supporting young entrepreneurs (with Astrobrights giveaway!)

sponsored post

 

 

kid craft sale: supporting young entrepreneurs

We have always supported our kids’ learning here at home; in fact, that’s the very reason teachmama.com was started!

Big on learning in the every day, we’ve always done what we could to find cool opportunities for learning in the here and now.  Fun learning in everyday events.  Really doing what we can to be in the moment and roll with the adventures as they unfold.

So this weekend, we hosted an impromptu Kid Craft Sale.

No joke.

What started as Maddy and I learning how to make the brightest and most beautiful origami cranes, somehow morphed into Cora teaching us how to make fans. And then Cora’s fan-making turned into a Fan Sale which then morphed into a candy, iced-tea, and ribbon barrette sale.

And then with neighbors jumping in on the kid craft sale fun, the day took a whole new and exciting turn.

It’s about encouraging our creative kids and supporting young entrepreneurs, right?

And you can do the same–thanks to a rockstar giveaway: a customized package of Astrobrights Papers (you’ll love them!) and a $50 Office Depot gift card. Yay!

Summer fun, here. We. Come!

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Kid Craft Sale–Supporting Young Entrepreneurs: I’m thrilled that the folks from Astrobrights hooked us up with a boatload of gorgeous, insanely bright and beautiful paper because that’s how this whole thing started.

The minute we opened our box of papers, Maddy declared, Mom I totally want to use this paper for origami. 

I said, That’s cool, Maddy, but first we need to learn how to do origami.

So that’s what we did.

support and encourage creative kids  teachama .png

 

support and encourage creative kids  teachama cranes.png

support and encourage creative kids  teachama

 

Maddy did a bit of research on our little Acer C720P Chromebook and found an awesome how-to site for making origami cranes.

She and I step-by-step folded our Rocket Red paper into a cool crane. (We did a lot of pausing and rewinding along the way.)

They were not easy, and we were pretty much just happy making one each. We’ll revisit origami again this summer is the plan!

 

support and encourage creative kids  teachama crane.png

 

Then Cora jumped off of her swing and decided she wanted in. But she didn’t want to make a crane–that took too long.

She wanted to make some fans.

So she showed us how to make the ultimate fan, and then she said she was going to sell them.  In our front yard.  Today.

support and encourage creative kids  teachama fans.pngsupport and encourage creative kids  teachama fans.png

support and encourage creative kids  teachama fans.png

She got to work.

Cora made signs advertising her Fan Sale and set prices for each fan.  She knew she wanted small fans and mini fans and super mini fans.

(Minis are perfect for dolls, you know.)

support and encourage creative kids  teacham

 

She assembled her money jar, her tray for her fans, and a tin that held all of her fans. And Maddy and I even let her sell our two origami cranes.

We dragged three chairs to the front yard–one for Cora, one for me, and one for the fans. And then we waited.

 

support and encourage creative kids  teachama fans.png

support and encourage creative kids  teachama fans.png

support and encourage creative kids  teachama fans.png

Meanwhile, Maddy and Owen pulled a table out to the curb along with iced tea, Maddy’s barrettes, and candy. They, too, made signs, set prices (though admittedly they were quite high. . . ), and they waited.

Before we knew it, a few neighbor kids joined in on the fun, and we waited together.

They flagged down passing cars, called to neighbor friends who were watering flowers or cutting the grass, and surprisingly, both sale tables made about $3.00, thanks to a few generous friends.

support and encourage creative kids  teachama fans.png

support and encourage creative kids  teachama fans.png

support and encourage creative kids  teachama fans.png

 

Bottom line? Our kids were outdoors, using their brains, getting all crafty and creative, and having fun.

And all I had to do to support my young entrepreneurs was encourage them to go with their ideas, carry a few chairs out, make a few fans, and remind them to use their manners before and after sales.

So fun.

 

Please note: Though we all want to support young entrepreneurs, it was brought to my attention that in some areas of the country, kids have been fined for having Lemonade Stands. Holy moly. Please do a bit of research before you go this route; a $500 fine is pretty hefty if you ask me.

Consider:

————————————————————-

GIVEAWAY: A customized package of Astrobrights paper and a $50 Office Depot gift card.

Do you want to win your own customized package of Astrobrights paper and a $50 Office Depot gift card??!  Yes, yes you do.

——————————-

Please use the Rafflecopter widget below to throw your name in the hat:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

This giveaway ends Friday, June 20, 2014 at midnight ET and is open to folks here in the US only. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 06/20/14.  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.

——————————-

But wait. There’s another giveaway coming! #ColorizeYourClassroom Contest

  • Astrobrights is helping teachers in every state get started with a Back to School #ColorizeYourClassroom contest!
  • The skinny: Teachers share a photo of how they colorize their classroom on the Astrobrights facebook page from July 7-September 12. Winners will have Astrobrights Colorize their Classroom all year long! One winner per state plus a Grand Prize winner will be awarded. 
  • Find all of the details here: facebook.com/Astrobrights

fyi: This is a sponsored post but 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 crafty-crafters.

Affiliate links are used for Acer C720P Chromebook.

raising kids who can rock it in the kitchen: 5 tips for every family

kids who can rock it in the kitchen teachmama.com

sponsored post

 

 

 

It’s a crazy busy time of the year, that I know.kids who can rock it in the kitchen | teachmama.com cover

And for the last few weeks, I’ve had kids home sick just about every day, so believe me when I say I’m ready for summer.

Though summer means no homework, no projects, and no busy after school afternoons, it also means kids home. A lot of kids home a lot of the time.

Which is so totally awesome and also sometimes hard.

It means three kids home for three meals a day. It means lots of food prep and a lot of food clean-up.

So this year, along with our summer of Tabletop Surprises, we’re also doing a whole lot more to get our kids active in the kitchen.  Bam. Just like that.

Kids who know the kitchen, own the kitchen, and enjoy the kitchen.

Maddy, Owen, and Cora are still rocking it out in the laundry department (three cheers for Wash Warriors!), so next up? They’ll rock it in the kitchen. Big time.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • 5 Tips for Raising Kids Who Can Rock it in the Kitchen:

If we don’t start early with giving our kids some ownership of the everyday household jobs, it’ll just get more difficult to do so as they get older.  Right?  Right.

What do I mean by ‘rock it’ in the kitchen? I mean: Can kids hold their own in the kitchen?

Can they fix themselves a snack? Get breakfast together? Find ingredients to make a cake? Know how to whip up some scrambled eggs or a turkey sandy?

Do they feel like the kitchen is theirs and that they belong there?

They don’t have to be superstars. They just need to be able to rock it if they need to.

Here’s how:

kids who can rock it in the kitchen  teachmama.com

1.  Make your kitchen kid-friendly.

Even if you can’t make major changes in your kitchen layout, designate a few child-only drawers low enough for kids to reach and that hold only their dishes, cups, and flatware.  This will make unloading the dishwasher and gathering plates for mealtime easier.

get kids to rock it in the kitchen | teachmama.com

get kids to rock it in the kitchen | teachmama.com

Keeping and storing food in places that kids can reach also makes sense if you want kids to learn to prepare snacks and simple meals–which we definitely do.

We’ve really tried to keep our fridge kid-friendly by keeping fruits and veggies, yogurt and snacks within arms’ reach, and we have worked as a family to decide the best ‘homes’ for our pantry and staples. 

I’ve been surprised at some of the choices the kids have made, but I’ve gone with it.  And I’ve found that when you give kids a chance to make the choices, the kids are more likely to feel as if the kitchen is ‘theirs’.

kids who can rock it in the kitchen  helper each day  teachmama.com.png

2.  Choose one helper each day.

Make one child your ‘special helper’ each day. That child helps you prepare meals, set the table, and act as your assistant chef.  This is a great way to allow kids to experience serious hands-on learning in the kitchen each day.

One of my friends shared with me that she did this with her kids, and ever since, I’ve done the same.

We align our ‘helper’ with whomever’s day it is, so there’s never a question about whose turn it is. We simply check the calendar, and that person is my right-hand guy (or girl) for chopping, stirring, adding, and tasting.

kids who can rock it in the kitchen  teachmama

3.  Let them make menu choices.

At the beginning of the week, sit down as a family and choose the meals for that week, looking at recipe books, your favorite sites, etc. Make a grocery list, set aside coupons, and get ready to assemble ingredients!

raising kids who can rock it in the kitchen helper   teachmama.com.png

This is easier said than done, I know.  But the menu-planning not only gets all stakeholders involved in the process, but it even saves families serious dinero in the long run.

We honestly don’t go crazy with trying to find new recipes each week, especially during busy times; we usually stick with the staples.

But this summer we’ll for sure explore some new dishes and let each person research, plan, and prepare the meal. We’ve talked about this–and everyone’s totally psyched. Talk about a great way of getting kids to try new foods and learn at the same time!

raising kids who can rock it in the kitchen helper trust | teachmama.com

4.  Show your kids that you trust them.

Give kids space in the kitchen.

Let them help you unload the dishwasher, put away groceries, measure ingredients, and crack their own eggs.   It might not always be pretty, but you will slowly grow confident kids in the kitchen.

I’ll never forget the time years and years ago that a teeny, tiny Owen tried to add ‘a few shakes of salt’ to our banana muffins and dropped the whole salt shaker into the mix.  Or the time Maddy lost her balance while adding chocolate chips to cookie batter and fell into the bowl, tipping the whole thing onto the counter.

Or the time Cora tried to crack an egg and instead crushed the whole thing in her hands.

Mistakes happen, and often, kitchen floors are a complete mess after kids are cooking. But kids need a chance to try because they need to learn.

raising kids who can rock it in the kitchen helper FUN | teachmama.com
5.  Make being in the kitchen fun.

Play music.  Dance around. Play games where and when you can, and make being there a relaxing and exciting place. It’s all about the attitude!

Our kids have always loved having their own child-sized aprons. You can find them inexpensive at thrift shops, or you can even make your own.  (Confession: my amazing and talented mother-in-law made some for our kids–lucky us!)   I have also found some super-cute ones on Etsy.

It really doesn’t matter where you get them, but having aprons makes my kids at least feel like cooking is a little bit more fun. Like when they walk into the kitchen on their day, they throw on their apron, and they’re ready for business.

——————————————–

get kids to rock it in the kitchen | teachmama.com

check out this cool, easy pdf that I (no joke!) helped Whirlpool create: Whirlpool_5TipsForKitchenKids

What do you think? Are your kids active in the kitchen this way?

Do you think they could be with a little effort?  I’d love to hear it!

fyi: This is a sponsored post, written as part of the Whirlpool Ambassador program. As always, opinions and ideas are my own, influenced only by my experience as an educator and parent and my three little ones who are learning to really ‘rock it’ in the kitchen.  Affiliate link used for apron.

Want to know more about the appliances we have in our kitchen? We have (and love!) the  Whirlpool® 28 cu. ft. 4-Door Refrigerator, the Whirlpool Gold Series Dishwasher with PowerScour option, the Microwave Hood Combination with AccuPop Cycle, and the Double Oven Gas Range with Convection Cooking. True. Love. Forever with these. Seriously TLF.

10 best father’s day gifts (stuff Dad REALLY wants!)

10 fathers day gifts he really wants | teachmama.com

This post is sponsored by Walmart.

10 fathers day gifts he really wants cover.png

 

No more ties, mugs, shaving sets, or gift cards.

No more Father’s day Coupon Books, mouse pads, t-shirts, or DVDs.

Dad’s seen them all, and he has more than enough of these kinds of gifts. This year, we’re thinking outside the box a bit.

We’re getting the dads in our life something really special for Father’s Day, something really different.

My husband is an incredible father to our children. He really is.

So when Father’s Day rolls around, I want to do my best to show him how much I appreciate him and all he does.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • 10 Best Father’s Day Gifts (Stuff Dad REALLY Wants!):  We all know he says he loves the underwear and socks (and sure, he needs them. . . ) but how about something a little more exciting this year?

 10 fathers day gifts he really wants experience gifts  teachmama.com.

Experience Gifts:

1.  Ball Game: Wrap up a new baseball gloveicon or baseball hat, but surprise Dad with tickets to see his favorite team.  Professional baseball games can get expensive, so consider attending a minor league or local college game—they’re just as fun!

2.  Hiking day: Introduce your dad to the awesome art of geocaching and give him a handheld GPSicon.  Geocaching is an absolute blast, and not only will Dad be intrigued, he’ll be totally up for the challenge of finding those caches!

3.  Concert: Bring some of Dad’s music to life by finding out when his favorite group is coming to town.  Tickets to a concert may be a little pricey, but isn’t Dad worth it?

10 fathers day gifts he really wants class gifts  teachmama.com.png.png

Gifts of Knowledge:

4.  Classes: Wrap up a course book from the local community college and tell Dad that he can register for a course he’s wanted to take next semester.  Or if Dad’s not the studying type (or already has the degrees he wants!), find a class that aligns with his hobbies or interests. Consider: riding lessons, woodworking lessons, cooking lessons, or dance lessons (with Mom, of course!).

5. Training: Sometimes it’s hard for dads to admit they need help with something, so a private trainer is the answer.  Whether it’s a personal trainer at the gym, a few hours with the golf pro at the course, or solo time with a speed coach, whatever Dad loves, there’s a pro out there to help him improve.

6.  Stylist: Though he may not think he needs a personal stylist or a make-over, many dads need a little jumpstart to move them in the direction of finding their best self.  Most department stores or salons offer styling and make-overs. Believe me, Dad will love it.

10 fathers day gifts he really wants subscription gifts  teachmama.com.jpg.png

Subscription Gifts:

7.  Music Channel: Tons of music subscription channels are on the market now, so shop around and find one that suits Dad’s needs.  Wrap up a pair of headphones along with a note explaining the gift, and Dad will be a happy guy.

8.  Favorite Television Channel:  Whether Dad loves movies or sports, news or the arts, there is a premium subscription channel for him. Treat him to his favorite for a few months, and I’m betting he’ll be over the moon.

9.  Magazine Subscription:  Time, Sports Illustrated, Vibe, or National Geographic. People, Wired, Men’s Health, or Car & Driver. Though we’re in the digital age, magazines are still super fun to receive, read, and share.

10 fathers day gifts he really wants love gifts  teachmama.com.jpg.png

Gifts of Love:

10.  Really, all Dad wants for Father’s Day is to know he is loved and respected by his family, so do for him what you know he will love and appreciate.  Consider:

  • Making all the meals for the day
  • Taking over Dad’s household chores for the day
  • Treating Dad to a foot massage or back rub
  • Putting on a show or play for Dad
  • Playing music or singing a song for Dad
  • Writing a story about Dad or a poem for him

What are your favorite ways to celebrate Dad on his big day? I’d love to hear your ideas about what has worked—and what has not worked—for the Dad in your life!

Do let us know in the comments!

 

fyi: I am blogging on behalf of Walmart.com and received compensation for my time, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Walmart’s. Shop online and save money to live better at http://www.walmart.com.

summer activities for thinking, curious, and creative kids: tabletop surprises calendar

summer activities for thinking, curious, and creative kids tabletop surprises calendar

summer activities for thinking, curious, and creative kids tabletop surprises calendar promo.

I have been working and working and working and working and working on this calendar for weeks now, and I’m finally ready to share it. Woot.  No really. Woooot!

In fact, I’m so happy I’m literally dancing around the living room.

Why? I just mapped out the bones of our summer.

Ten weeks.

Ten weeks full of summer activities for thinking, curious, and creative kids.  It’s our tabletop surprises calendar, and Maddy, Owen, and Cora will totally dig it.

We’ll still start out the summer by making Summer Fun Cards so that we are sure to remember to fit in everything we love to do during the long summer months, but then we’ll rock out the #tabletopsurprises.

This year, my kids are 10, 8, and 7 years old. They’re getting older, but they still love games. They love to create. They love to play with the old standbys that we’re too busy for during the school year but that they look forward to in summer months.

They still have playdates. They still hold my hand. They still want hugs.  (Most days.)

So I’m milking this for as long as I can. Though learned the hard way last summer that because they’re getting older, we’re not all on the same schedule. Where I once used preschool mornings or rest time hours for games and learning, now we’re not on as strict a schedule.

I have an early riser and I have a night owl. And I have one kiddo whose mood is dictated by the weather, by the day of the week, or by the direction of the wind. So I’ve got to be flexible.

All I know is that what really, truly worked for us last summer was Tabletop Surprises because the activities ‘fit’ into our daily schedule. The kids headed to the table when they felt like it, sometime throughout the day.

And every day was kind of like Christmas because there was a surprise Every. Single. Day.

So we’re rockin’ them again this year.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Summer Activities for Thinking, Curious, and Creative Kids–Tabletop Surprises Calendar:

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 surprise 2014 a summer of fun and learning from teachmama.com

this year’s tabletop surprises calendar 2014 teachmama.com, ready to download

How to I get the kids to actually sit down and do the activities?  A few ways:

1. The activities are fun and they 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. 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 calendar 2014 teachmama.com

What are the ideas and what makes them so fun?

Simple. They’re 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.

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 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. 

tabletop surprise 2014 a summer of fun and learning from teachmama.com

Cool. So now what?

  1. Print out the calendar: tabletop surprises calendar 2014 teachmama.com
  2. Subscribe to teachmama.com via email. 
  3. Download the Tabletop Surprise Resource Guide (you’ll get it when you confirm your subscription, yo!). 
  4. Give your kids the skinny on Tabletop Surprises. 
  5. Start learning, playing, creating, inventing, and thinking alongside your kiddos!
  6. And? Share your #tabletopsurprises via instagram or twitter  just for fun.
  7. Have the summer of your dreams. Well. . .

tabletop surprise email promo teachmama.com

Give me a look at this stuff. 

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

Or check out some fun ideas from a our Smart Summer Challenge a few summers back.

Here’s to an awesome summer filled with fun learning and memory-making!

bing in the classroom: 3 reasons parents will love it

bing in the classroom or at home teachmama.com

This post was created in partnership with Bing.

It is so hard to imagine a time without the internet search.bing in the classroom or at home | cover teachmama.com

Any time there’s a question in our house, the kids run to the computer: Search it! Search it! Let’s search for it!

But searching isn’t always safe, and it isn’t always easy–especially for curious and tech-savvy kids, and this is why I totally dig Bing in the Classroom.

Bing in the Classroom is a program designed to do a few things:

  1. establish ad-free, safe search for schools;
  2. provide ways for schools get their hands on tablets for students via Bing rewards;
  3. offer teachers (and parents!) tons of really cool (free!) lesson plans.

Sure, you’re a parent, and school’s almost out for the year. So why does this matter to you?

Seriously, I’m going to love Bing in the Classroom this summer, when my 10, 8, and 7 year olds are hangin’ around the homefront each and every day.

It will provide for us a ton of resources to use to keep the kids’ learning fresh, exciting, and interesting over the summer.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  •  Bing in the Classroom–3 Reasons You Will Love it (even this summer!):  Learning about the program now gives you a few solid weeks to learn about Bing in the Classroom and share it with your school’s administration or technology team so that they can implement the program next school year.

And? Like I said, Bing in the Classroom gives you a ton of things to do this summer.

Take a minute to see how it works:

Show support for #adfreesearch!

How will I use Bing in the Classroom this summer? 

I’m a huge fan of providing kids with tons of cool things to do to stretch their brains and flex their creativity throughout the summer, and two big pieces of the Bing puzzle can do just that:

  • Free Teaching Tools: The premise behind the Common Core aligned resources available on the site is that parents or teachers can spend only about 10 minutes each day helping students learn to navigate the wilds of the internet, through amazing visuals and thought-provoking prompts.

Simply make your way to the Teaching Tools page.

bing in classroom: 3 reasons you will love it at home this summer | teachmama.com

Then enter your search perimeters, or you can just browse all resources for a certain age.  

The activity that caught my eye is below. Some are Power Point, some are Word docs, and some are mixed media. I love the detail, the options, and the focus on one powerful image, not to mention the link to Common Core at the end of each lesson.

I’m confident that this summer an activity or two each week will be engaging and interesting for Maddy, Owen, and Cora.

http://www.bing.com/classroom/teachingtools

 

  • Bing Searches: I love, love, love the Bing searches, and I think the photos on the main screen are perfect for getting kids interested in learning.

The photos rock. And the fact that you can mouse over all parts of the photo and learn fun facts is awesome.

bing in the classroom why parents will love it in summer

The Bing homepage looks like this. . .

bing in the classroom why parents will love it in summer

. . . and when you click more info, you get the skinny on the location and photographer. Every day.

bing in the classroom why parents will love it in summer

Love this.

Always, always, always you want to go to your settings tab once you log into your Microsoft account so that you can properly adjust your search mode.

Though these settings are never 110% completely foolproof, Bing’s safesearch filters are pretty close:

bing in the classroom for summer | teachmama.com

My plan for this summer, among other things for our Tabletop Surprises, one day a week I’ll just leave the photo up on our Intel AIO Touchscreen or Chromebook and let the kids go free.   Along with some internet search help tips and some guided practice, hopefully after the summer the kids will be ready for the new school year!

 
fyi: This post was created in partnership with Bing.  Affiliate links are used in this post.