how to turn a t-shirt into cool tank top: 10 min or less

how to turn an old tshirt to cool tank teachmama.com.png

how to turn an old t-shirt into cool tank: 10 min or less

We’re knee-deep into swim and dive season, and with three kids who participate in our neighborhood swim team and dive team, we’re crazy busy.

Two or three meets each week and practice every day.

It’ll all come to a screeching halt in just a few weeks, though, and the kids will be twiddling their thumbs and pestering each other between tabletop surprises and Fun Sticks.

This past week our spirit theme was red, white, and blue, with tie-dying t-shirts being a huge part of the patriotic attire. The night before the spirit pep rally, when all the tie-dying was to be done, we realized that we didn’t have plain t-shirts for the kids to dye. 

It was late. I was tired. And I was not going to run out to the store. No way, Jose.

So we scoured our dressers, closets, and under the bed boxes for a few white shirts that Maddy, Owen, and Cora could use.

And to our excitement, we found a few too-small t-shirts that we bought for Owen so he had something to wear under his First Communion suit. 

I sent the shirts to the pool with the kids, knowing they’d come back dyed and ready for some TLC.

And it worked. We turned a few t-shirts into cool tanks in a matter of minutes. Ten minutes to be exact.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • How to Turn an Old T-Shirt into a Cool Tank–10 Minutes or Less:  

Really. Ten minutes max.

Check it out:

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!

 

What do you think? Will you bling out your t-shirts with a few beads and cuts? Let us know!

And remember, if you are looking for some fun ways of keeping the kids busy this summer, we have what you need.  Do check out our 10-weeks of free super-cool activities for kids: tabletop surprises.

tabletop surprise email promo teachmama.com

 

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…]

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.

quick, cool teacher appreciation gifts

quick, cool teacher appreciation gifts | teachmama.com

Teacher Appreciation Week is here.quick, cool teacher appreciation gifts | teachmama.com

Teacher Appreciation Week is a time to give a little something extra to all of the teachers in your life, whether your kids are in preschool, elementary school, middle, or high school. 

You do not need to go crazy here. Teachers are thankful for any simple token of appreciation.

And if you’re anything like me, you’re a little bit behind in just about everything in life.

This parenting thing is hard.  And add in activities, work, meetings, and a very busy spouse, life is, well. . . busy.

So this year, though I would have loved to have worked hard with the kids to make something crazy cool like our flower pens, butterfly pens, or fingerprint note cards for teachers, we just didn’t have the time.

Instead, we found a quick, cool teacher appreciation gift that I am sure our kids’ teachers will love because it is definitely something they’ll use.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Quick, Cool Teacher Appreciation Gifts: We were rockin’ the yard sale front this weekend. It’s that time of the year, so I always have my eye out for a few things–my must-have’s from yard sales–and I found one of ’em.

We spotted a brand, new Scrabble game, and I grabbed it for fifty cents.

$.50.

50¢.

Bam.

quick, cool teacher appreciation gift | teachmama.com

I wasn’t sure how we’d use it, but I had seen tons of super-cute ways of using Scrabble tiles that I thought it might come in handy for a last-minute, quick, cool teacher appreciation gift. And they did.

Maddy, Owen, Cora and I talked and talked about how we could use them. We considered:

  • Scrabble tile necklaces  (nah)
  • Scrabble tile bracelets (nope)
  • Scrabble tile bookmarks (but how?)
  • Scrabble tile pencil holders (yikes. not enough time. . . )
  • Scrabble tile tissue box covers (nah)

But nothing seemed right.

quick, cool teacher appreciation gift | teachmama.com

quick, cool teacher appreciation gift | teachmama.com

So when the kids were at school yesterday, I ran to our local Home Goods store, much like a TJ Maxx or the like, and I grabbed three super-cute wooden desktop filers, similar to this unfinished desktop filer.  I know that most any teacher can find a way to use something like this.

And very simply, I hot-glued the teachers’ names onto the holders.  The kids loved them.

quick, cool teacher appreciation gift | teachmama.com

quick, cool teacher appreciation gift | teachmama.com

 

They were 110% sure their teachers would love them, and I think they’re correct. With a kid-made thank you card placed in the slot, they’ll be cool teacher appreciation gifts that we’re pretty sure the teachers will use.

They’re super-simple and quick to make, but the added personalization touch makes them pretty special.

And really, with teacher appreciation gifts, you want to give teachers something that they’ll use.  For all their hard work and dedication, they deserve as much as we can give them.

 

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!

 

What are some of your go-to gifts for teacher appreciation day?  I’d love to hear your ideas!

 

fyi: affiliate links are used in this post. . . use them, and we over here at teachmama.com get a teeny, tiny percentage of your sale. thanks so much, friends!! 

 

Follow amy mascott @teachmama’s board school & teacher appreciation on Pinterest.

teachmama
 

easter egg pattern match game: for kids, by kids

easter egg pattern match teachmama.com

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

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

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

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

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

Perfect for a 3-year-old!

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

Here’s the skinny. . .

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

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

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

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

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

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

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

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

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

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

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

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

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

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

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

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

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

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

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

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

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

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

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

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

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

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

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

raising creative kids: target ‘kid made modern’ $150 giveaway

creativity and kids kid made modern teachmama.com.png

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

creativity and kids  kid made modern  teachmama.com.png

One of the things I love about working with Target is that I have had the opportunity to meet some really great people, do some really fun things, try some cool products, and I get share it all with my awesome readers.

Today?  It’s even more exciting.

No joke.

It’s all about raising creative kids.

Raising kids who have great tools and supplies to freely create and parents who appreciate their masterpieces. I not only get to share a bit more from my chat with the amazing and talented, crazy-creative Todd Oldham, creator of Kid Made Modern line (and so much more!), but I get to give away $150 Target gift card to one teachmama.com reader.

Seriously.

So you can head over to Target, order a ton of Kid Made Modern crafty-crafts for  your kids, family, and friends, and you’ll be doing a little Kid Made Modern dance come spring break when you have so many fun, hands-on things to do.

$150 gift card to Target. Bam.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Raising Creative Kids–Target ‘Kid Made Modern $150 Giveaway:  I’ve shared a bit about what I love of this line around holiday time.

Holiday Party Kid Activities (that totally work for any time of the year, for any party, by the way!)

 

 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!

Do you just adore Todd Oldham?

He’s not only an author, designer, artist, and former MTV House of Style host, but he’s also just an all-around awesome guy.

I do. I love his creative, gentle spirit, and I love every. single. thing. he says.

My kids, mother-in-law, and I had the absolute best time crafting and creating in his studio, and I am thrilled that anyone can bring that same excitement home with the Kid Made Modern line.

————————————————————-

GIVEAWAY: $150 gift card to Target!

Do you want to win $150 gift card to Target??!  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 the Official Sweepstakes Rules. This giveaway ends Friday, March 28, 2014 at midnight ET and is open to US residents only. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 03/28/14.  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.  fyi: This is an unsponsored post, and my opinions, as always, are my very own, influenced only by my experience as a parent, educator, and member of Target’s Inner Circle Program.   Affiliate links are used in this post.

secret message valentines: homemade, candy-free, totally cool

secret message valentines magic and totally cool teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

secret message valentines  magic and totally cool teachmama.com

 

Longtime fans of the ole homemade Valentine, I’ve had to get a little more clever and crafty as the kids get older.

But I still want them writing, reading, and thinking (come on. . . at least a little!) while they’re making them.

So when I did some Valentine searching this year, I found a ton of cool ideas.  A ton of cool ideas.

There are about a million, trillion awesome homemade Valentines out there.

But the Secret Message Valentines caught my eye. I knew Maddy, Owen, and Cora would totally love them, and they do.  They really think they’re fun.

Secret Message Valentines that are homemade, candy-free and kids still think they’re totally cool? Like a dream.

And they won’t break the bank.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Secret Message Valentines–Homemade, Candy-Free, Totally Cool:

Want to make these for this year’s rockstar Valentines? Super.

Your kids will love you.

You’ll need:

secret message valentines | teachmama.com

secret message valentines | teachmama.com

 

Here’s a quick video with the ‘how-to’ for making Secret Message Valentines:

 

 

Before Maddy, Owen, Cora and I started making them, we did a whole lot of ‘message brainstorming’.  I wanted them to realize that though some of the Valentines required that they only signed their name, other ones left spaces for real secret messages.

What would those messages be? 

What should they be? 

We came up with some ideas:

magic message valentines -| teachmama.com

magic message valentines -| teachmama.com

magic message valentines -| teachmama.com

 

Having the ideas helped, especially because messages had to be short.

And because they were writing the messages with white crayon on white paper, the messages had to be simple.

 

magic message valentines -| teachmama.com

magic message valentines -| teachmama.com

magic message valentines -| teachmama.com

 

These kind of reminded me of the Scratch-Off Tickets we made a few years ago during holiday time in the way that they carried a secret message for the kids to find.

I think I just may use them for Valentine cards next year. . . hmmmmm.

What are your favorite super-cool, candy-free Valentines for kids to make? I’d love to hear ’em!

Here are a few of ours:

 

HUGE and happy thanks to all the folks who came before me and made similar Valentines. Though I love this idea, I by no means invented it! I did not use one particular post as a model, but the following posts were my inspiration: SpanglishBaby Secret Message Valentines; Small + Friendly Secret Message ValentineSecret Message Valentine Mini-Edition; Spoonful Secret Message Valentines, & more! Thank you, thank you!

 

fyi: affiliate links are used in this post for your convenience

early literacy game for kids: read a word, build a snowman

early literacy game for kids: read a word, build a snowman

read a word, build a snowman | teachmama.com

originally published December 20, 2009 

We have had a ton of snow dropped on us in the last two days; clearly, my kiddos have snow on the brain.

So I knew that if I wanted to sneak in a little bit of early literacy learning over here while we were stuck in the house, I had to capitalize on their current love interest: snow!

Sure, we’ve been reading, coloring, and playing with Legos (and don’t get me wrong–along with our fair share of teasing, arguing, and crying), but those sight words are just so darn easy to stick into games that I found inspiration in one of my old faves and turned it into a snowy day read a word, build a snowman face.

An early literacy game for kids.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Build a Snowman Game: This is so easy.

First, I used cardstock and printed out two copies of the read a word, build a snowman face, which includes a snowman’s face and five parts–two coal eyes, a carrot nose, a coal mouth, and a hat.

You can download it here: read a word, build a snowman face.

Then I printed two copies of thebecause Maddy seemed ready, and I knew I was going to be on Owen’s ‘team’ while we played today.

read a word, build a snowman | early literacy game | sight words | teachmama.com

Owen’s five word cards

Finally, I grabbed Maddy and Owen and asked if they wanted to build an inside snowman before their rest times today. Of course, they looked at me like I was crazy, but then they finally said, “YES!!”

I said, We’re going to play a new game today to celebrate the snow, and it’s called ‘Build a Snowman Game‘. We’ll use some of Maddy’s word cards, and all you need to know is that the game is kind of like ‘Go Fish’. Remember that game?

I need you to put all of these tiny word cards face down in a pile. Then Maddy, you’ll take your snowman face, and Owen you take our snowman face, and we’ll get started.

read a word, build a snowman | early literacy game | sight words | teachmama.com

 

read a word, build a snowman | early literacy game | sight words | teachmama.comOwen had two word pairs, so he earned two snowman parts:
a nose and mouth.

Essentially, the object is to be the first player to complete her snowman face. But in order to put an eye, or a nose, a mouth, or a hat on your snowman, you need to find matching word pairs.

Each player begins with five word cards and should have at least five cards at all times.

We put our word cards on green paper plates because, for some reason, we had two green plates were in our living room. We also kept our word cards face up because we wanted to help each other out a bit.

 

read a word, build a snowman | early literacy game | sight words | teachmama.com

Players put down any pairs they pick, and they can add a piece to the snowman when they find a pair. Then, like Go Fish, player one asks player two if she has a word from his hand, and if she does, she gives it to him; if not, player one grabs a card from the pile.

When one person completes a snowman face, then she’s the winner–as long as she can read each of her five word pairs!

We made sure to read the words as we went along, and I also used brown M & M’s as the snowman’s eyes. (Seriously, why not? They look like eyes, and after the cookies and candy my kids have been putting away, what’s two more M & M’s except more holiday game fun?)

read a word, build a snowman | early literacy game | sight words | teachmama.com

read a word, build a snowman | early literacy game | sight words | teachmama.comYa-hoo! Owen and I completed our face!

They liked it. They really seemed to enjoy the game, and they were excited-giddy even before they ate their chocolate. Kids like to create faces, and this was simple enough that they could manage the word reading and face building and not be overwhelmed.

I think that tomorrow we’ll do it with the Early Emergent Words or the Letter Cards. Or maybe both. And I’m seeing more ‘Face Building-Scene Creating’ Games in our long, cold, snowy-winter future. . .

read a word, build a snowman | early literacy game | sight words | teachmama.com

read a word, build a snowman | early literacy game | sight words | teachmama.com

The cool thing about this game is that I can use it for any level–letters if one of my kiddos needs work on letter recognition or any level of sight words that I need. Feel free to do the same.

And I’m jumping for joy! I just re-saved all of the files as pdf’s and will be saving that way from here on out; maybe that will be easier for my friends to open and use the files at home. Let me know what you think. Happy Snowman Building!

valentine’s day class party ideas, 2.0

valentine's day class party ideas, 2.0 | fun ideas to get groups of kids moving and having fun | minute to win it games | free printables | teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

  

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

 

For many years now I’ve been roped into being Room Parent for my kids’ classes, and though I do love the opportunity to meet other families from the school and to get to know the kids in the class, it’s a lot of work.

More than once I’ve wished that there was a secret site that gave me all of the Valentine’s Day class party ideas I needed–the letters to send, the snacks to serve, crafts to make and the games to play.

But knowing that such a thing doesn’t exist and that each class party is different and unique, I am just sharing the love.

Whatever I’m doing as Room Parent, I’m sharing my own, gathered ’round the world Valentine’s Day class party ideas. There you have it.

I shared How to have a Rockstar Valentine’s Day class party, and now we’re back at it again.  2.0, man. 2.0.

Grab what works for you, and leave what doesn’t.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Valentine’s Day Class Party Ideas, 2.0:

The real secret to success with these parties to to keep the atmosphere light and to make sure you have a handful of awesome helpers on board.

  • Parent Letter: About three weeks before the class party, chat with the teacher and ask:
    • What is the timeframe for the party?
    • Is there anything special you’d like for us to do? 
    • Do you want the kids to address each Valentine or keep them nameless?  (Nameless is often better for younger kids and allows for easier, quicker distribution.)
    • What are the food restrictions for the students? 
    • Do you know of anything that has really worked well in the past that you would recommend repeating? 

Then draft a Parent Letter (you can definitely model yours after the one I’ve used here: valentines day class party letter BLANK).  Head into school and make copies, and put one in each child’s cubby or take-home folder.

valentines day class party  | teachmama.com

If the teacher suggests that Valentines be addressed to recipients, then be sure to include a copy of the class list.

  • Prepare! Pow-wow with your Co-Room Parents or do a little research to figure out what will work for your party.

Make a shopping list and split the job up.   I usually like collecting money from other parents and then having the Room Parents purchase the items we need. Other people like to have the job split up: one parent brings cupcakes, another juice boxes, another small prizes, etc.

valentine's day class party plan  teachmama.com

  • Create the Plan: I love having the party plan out so that all of the helper parents and the teacher knows what’s going on for the event. That way, everyone’s on board.

Here’s a sample of our party plan. Feel free to use and modify for your own rockin class party: valentine party plan 2014.  Want it in word? valentine party plan 2014 — word doc

  • Rock. The. Party.

Here’s what’s on our schedule this year:

musical hearts reading, moving, & crazy-fun kid game teachmama.com

This heart-happy game can be adapted for nearly any reading level, and I love how it gets kids engaged, reading, and responding.

 

valentines day class party ideas  craft  teachmama.com

    • Stained Glass Hearts:  The kids will make these easy, super-cute, no-glue crafts which are really pretty.

Simple, sweet crafts that look so pretty in wintertime windows, no matter where you are.

valentines day class party ideas  guess the word  teachmama.com

    • Valentine Guess the Word: While they’re crafting, they can play Guess the Word.  We’ve played it for our other parties, and the kids really seem to enjoy it.

 

    • Valentine Card Delivery and Snack!  The kids’ favorite part! Break the class in half.  Let one half deliver their Valentines, while the other eats, and then have them switch.

Then give the kids some time to read their Valentines!

hint: Have the plates of food ready and set them in front of each student. It makes things move a lot more smoothly!

valentines day class party ideas  groups teachmama.com

    • Small-Group Minute-to-Win-it Games:  We’ll break the kids into three groups by having them pick a heart foam sticker out of a bag. Three groups: white hearts, red hearts, and pink hearts.  That way, we’ll have about 6-8 kids in each group.  A bit easier to manage.

We are not keeping score here with our games. It’d be too hectic, and the focus is fun, not big wins.

We’ll encourage each child to do his or her best. At the end, if everyone works hard, everyone grabs a prize!

Each ‘game station’ will host two Minute-to-Win-It games.  At the first rotation, every student will receive a small Valentine goodie bag to keep candy and supplies.

valentines day class party ideas marshmallow race teachmama.com

    • Marshmallow Race:  Simple. You can play this several ways.

1. Break the group in half and draw a line in the middle of the table. Each side uses inexpensive plastic straws to try to blow the marshmallows to the other side of the line. The team with the most after one minute wins.

2.  Each person plays individually and has one minute to blow a single marshmallow from one side of the table to the other. The person with the most at the end wins.

Straws and marshmallows, and a clean table–that’s all you need.

valentines day class party ideas marshmallow toss teachmama.com

    •  Marshmallow Toss:  Students partner up and stand across from each other, about 2-4 feet apart.  One person has a handful of marshmallows and the other has a small paper cup. Students have one minute to toss as many marshmallows into the cup as possible.

After one minute, the throwers catch and the catchers throw.

The winning team is the one with the most marshmallows in the cup!

valentines day class party ideas heart towers teachmama.com

    • Heart Towers: Students have one minute to stack as many conversation hearts as they can. It’s harder than you may think!

The winner is the person who has the highest stack after one minute.

valentines day class party ideas bracelets teachmama.com

    • One-Handed Bracelets: One minute to thread as many fruit loops onto a pipe cleaner as possible.

And then–here’s the clincher–the player has to make that pipe cleaner into a braclet. Using one hand.  So funny!

valentines day class party ideas cookie face teachmama.com

    • Cookie Face: Players have a cookie on their foreheads and have one minute to move that cookie from their forehead and into their mouth.

So hard. And so, so funny to watch!

The winner is the player who moves the most cookies from forehead to mouth in one minute’s time!

valentines day class party ideas heart chopstick race teachmama.com

    • Heart Chopstick Race:  An oldie for Valentine’s Day class parties but definitely a goodie.

Players work individually to move as many conversation hearts from a central bowl into their own plastic cups, using only a pair of chopsticks.  It’s not easy, and very quickly you’ll see which students use chopsticks on a regular basis.

 

valentines day class party ideas heart mitten race teachmama.com

    • Mitten Race: Kids totally love this game.

Wearing a pair of adult ski mittens, players try to unwrap a piece of candy. Small candies with tight wrappers, like Starburst or Tootsie Rolls are especially hard.

You can play this game with the kids in two lines, and as each child unwraps the candy he or she pops it in his or her mouth and passes on the mittens, going down the line, or you can play individually.  Each child wears a pair of mittens and the winner is the player who unwraps the most candy in one minute.

valentines day class party ideas heart puzzle race teachmama.com

 

    • Puzzle Race: I love the simplicity of this and kids love to do ‘speedy puzzles’ together.

These are really just six or seven Valentine-themed photos that I printed out on cardstock and cut into pieces.  I printed them on three different shades of paper to make it a little bit easier, but the goal is to put as many together under one minute as possible.

The Valentine’s Day puzzles are here to download if you’d like: valentines day class party PUZZLES.  

valentines day class party | puzzle race | teachmama.com

valentines day class party  | puzzle race | teachmama.com

You may want to add an extra for your school’s mascot just for kicks.

My suggestion is to flip the pieces face down on the table, start the timer, and let the kids at ’em. If they are struggling, then show them the key. Otherwise, let them have fun with it!

 

Want a few more fun Valentine’s Day ideas? Check out: 

how to throw a rockstar valentine's day party teachmama.com 2

valentine's day class party ideas

 

 

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

reading informational text and crafting: easy, beautiful jewelry-making

reading informational text and crafting | teachmama.com

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reading informational text and crafting | teachmama.com

One of the things that my kids love to do is crafts, so when Melissa & Doug came out with the Art Activity books, I was sold.

Combining reading and crafting? Bam.

A match made in heaven.

Sure, good ole free play and open-ended art is awesome, but some days, an Art Activity book is a super way of sneaking in some reading for kids. And the ‘art’ of reading informational text to follow directions and to use drawings and diagrams to support the reading are foundational skills in nearly every grade level of the Common Core State Standards.

Reading informational texts is something covered in some way almost every year in the English Language Arts Standards. As parents, let’s do what we can to support our kids’ learning from home.

It’s a win-win-WIN.

Maddy rocked out the informational text reading this week with the help of Melissa & Doug’s Craft and Create Mixed Metal Jewelry set. And she’s loving her new jewels.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Reading Informational Text and Crafting– Easy, Beautiful Jewelry-Making:

I knew that Maddy would love this Mixed Metal Jewelry Set, because right now she’s totally into accessories and jewelry.  And she’s also into doing things independently.

reading informational text and crafting: jewelry-making | teachmama.com

reading informational text and crafting: jewelry-making | teachmama.com

And she really did love it.

She took off from the start, opening the set and reading and following the directions.  She began by setting out all of the pieces. And then she started with the Layered Earrings.

We chatted along the way, checking out a few different design options and deciding on the silver-bronze-silver graduated layered discs. Love it!

reading informational text and crafting: jewelry-making | teachmama.com

reading informational text and crafting: jewelry-making | teachmama.com

 

She made these adorable earrings!  Aren’t they to die for?

Next she moved onto the braided bracelet.

As she read, she used the photographs and diagrams to help her more clearly understand the steps.

 

reading informational text and crafting: jewelry-making | teachmama.com

reading informational text and crafting: jewelry-making | teachmama.com

Especially when it came to the four-strand braid, she used both the diagram and text. I held one side of the bracelet as she braided, and I totally learned something new!

I have never in my life braided with four strands, but Maddy figured it out and explained it to me as she went. Super real-life application of an important reading skill–and Common Core State Standard.

reading informational text and crafting: jewelry-making | teachmama.com

reading informational text and crafting: jewelry-making | teachmama.com

reading informational text and crafting: jewelry-making | teachmama.com

Her bracelet turned out so awesome.

And not only did we learn how to do the four-strand braid, but we also learned some cool, new ways of tying off bracelets, combining strands, and connecting the mixed-metal washers and rings.

So fun.

reading informational text and crafting: jewelry-making | teachmama.com

reading informational text and crafting: jewelry-making | teachmama.com

I really think this is only the beginning.

Maddy so loved jewelry-making that we’re heading to the craft store for some mixed metal pieces this weekend.  Though the set comes with plenty of pieces, Maddy was busy and included a handful of pieces in each one she made.

It will be so awesome to see her apply her new skills to the other pieces we purchase at the store.  She felt great about what she made and looks forward to making more. Love. It.

In my opinion, there’s nothing better than this! It’s real-life and purposeful informative text reading at its finest!

melissa doug blog ambassador buttonfyi: I wrote this post as part of the Melissa & Doug Blog Ambassador program.   Melissa & Doug has long created rockstar products that nurture creativity and thought in our children, which is why I am so proud to be a part of this program.

As always, my opinions and ideas are my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator.