kids make their own commercials: creative, techy fun

kids make commercials | teachmama.com

kids make commercials | teachmama.com

 

As part of our tabletop surprises last week, my kids became movie-makers.

Though it really didn’t start out that way at all.

The little tabletop surprise note challenged them to create commercials for a product. That was it.

But what they did with it was a whole other ballgame.

It was a good reminder for me that kids really, truly need free time to explore and play on their own, no matter the platform.

I didn’t step-by-step teach them how to use these movie-making platforms; rather, I gave them the tools and let them figure it out.

Seriously.

And really, the tools they used are pretty intuitive, but still. I was impressed.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Kids Make Their Own Commercials–Creative, Techy Fun:

So the note on the table read:

lights, camera, ACTION!

Make a commercial for any product you want!

Use: iPad (Videolicious or iMovie) or Chromebook (WeVideo)

Showing at 4pm TODAY

I set out a number of products around the table as inspiration: the Wet Brush, TinkerCrates, DoodleCrates, RushHour, AllQueens Chess, SoCozy products, Altoids, you name it.

I just wanted them to have ideas. Starting points.

Then when they were ready, I showed them the tools they could use.

I showed them iMovie, Videolicious, and WeVideo. I knew that Maddy had used WeVideo before at school and liked it, so I figured she’d go that route. She didn’t. She wanted to try iMovie.

Before I knew it, the kids were moving. They were choosing products, working together, disappearing for a few minutes and then reappearing in different costumes and clothes. It was a riot.

And yes, they had questions as they went, but we figured things out together.

I used iMovie to make my videos, but it’s a different animal on the iPad. 

So there was a whole lot of on-the-spot learning from my end, too. I didn’t realize how easy it was to create movies on the iPad. It doesn’t really have to be a huge event–I should be able to whip up videos in no time flat, thanks to Apple’s templates and creations. Awesome.

So what began as a challenge to create commercials morphed into movie and video card making.

Owen went right upstairs and got to work on the iPad mini.

Cora grabbed the iPad and went nose to screen.

Maddy was finishing something else and then got stuck with the super-old tablet, got frustrated, and decided to come back to it. I’m not sure why she didn’t use the Chromebook and WeVideo because I know she used it in school. Hmmmmm.

With permission, I’m sharing their finished creations:

Cora’s commercial:

 

Then, Cora said she wanted to make another movie, so I suggested she make a teachmama.com trailer. She did, and it’s awesome!

I mean. . .I’d subscribe! (wink!)

 

Owen went for the scary edge.

Be forewarned: if your little ones are looking over your shoulder, watch this one another time. He puts on his scary Halloween costume and gets a little creepy:

 

Cora went wild. She then made a Father’s Day movie for her dad, and she started on another family movie. She really liked the ease of the iMovie templates, but she said she was ready to make her own movies without templates. We’ll see how they go. I’m thrilled!

Owen was good with his one scary movie.

Maddy started creating a spy movie, complete with costumes, memorized lines, and scenery changes, but she didn’t finish. I’m hoping she does so soon!

Really, the coolest thing about this activity was that the kids learned on their own.

They tried, they re-tried, and they tried some more. It was awesome. And they were really proud of their final products.

And so was I.

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Join us!

summer fun for kids | teachmama.com

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Follow us on Instagram: @teachmama1  / #tabletopsurprises

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fun summertime learning for kids: tabletop surprises

summer fun for kids tabletop surprises wk 1 teachmama

summer fun for kids tabletop surprises wk 1 teachmama

 

Every weekday in the summertime, I start the day by sharing a #tabletopsurprises post.

Just one quick picture of what’s in store for Maddy, Owen, and Cora for their tabletop surprise that day.

Are you on Instagram? If so, I’d love to follow you.

And if you’re joining us in our tabletop surprises this summer, I’d love, love, love for you to share your photos tagged with #tabletopsurprises — it’s so cool to see what everyone is doing!  Use #tabletopsurprises on your photo, and I’ll follow you back.

So here’s the skinny for this week. . .

We started on a Tuesday because the kids’ last day of school was Monday. 

Fun Summertime Learning for Kids– #tabletopsurprises week 1:

Tuesday:

  Wednesday:

Matchstick Math! #tabletopsurprises #math #familyfun #kids #summerfun #ontheblog

A photo posted by amy mascott (@teachmama1) on

 

Thursday:

  Friday:

Good, ole fashioned Play-Doh day! #tabletopsurprises #Iloveplaydoh #freeplay #summerfun #photooftheday

A photo posted by amy mascott (@teachmama1) on

 

______________________

Join us!

summer fun for kids | teachmama.com

 

bleached out disney t-shirts for the not-so-crafty crafter

bleached out disney tshirts teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

bleached out disney tshirts  teachmama.com black shirt

We’re all busy.

And most of us really like to get a bit crafty but don’t have the time.

This little crafty craft is for you. And it’s for me.

Because it is so easy.

It’s so quick.

And the results are really, truly awesome.

We wanted to do something to let our kids know that we’re heading to Disney World in the next few days, but I didn’t want to do a full-fledged scavenger hunt like we did before.

We didn’t want to do a Disney countdown.

We wanted to pull the ‘YAY WE’RE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD TODAY!!!!’ surprise.

Kind of. We had to keep in mind that our kids do much, much better with a little bit of prep time. Even a teensy bit of prep time helps.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Bleached Out Disney T-Shirts for the Not-So Crafty Crafter

Making these was super easy.

Because my husband and I are surprising Maddy, Owen, and Cora with the trip, I needed to be able to make these t-shirts quickly and in the time that they were in school. So start to finish had to be within six hours. These took a fraction of that time.

bleached out disney t-shirts | teachmama.com

What you need:

What you need to do:

1. Print out the template you want to use.

bleached out disney t-shirts | teachmama.com

 

We used super-simple Mickey ears ones: you can download them here–mouse templates | teachmama.com

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

 

2. Trace the template onto freezer paper.

bleached out disney t-shirts | teachmama.com

bleached out disney t-shirts | teachmama.com

You can do this easily by placing the freezer paper on top of the printout and tracing it with a pencil.

 

3. Cut out the image from freezer paper.

I think if you have a detailed design, you could use a razor, but my design was easy, so I did it with scissors.

 

4. Iron the freezer paper stencil to the t-shirt.

bleached out disney t-shirts | teachmama.com

bleached out disney t-shirts | teachmama.com

Not kidding. I didn’t know this would work, either, but one side of the freezer paper gets just a wee bit sticky when heated. Find the shiny side of the freezer paper and make sure that side touches the t-shirt.  Find the place you want the image, and place it there.

Remember that the freezer paper blocks the bleach, so wherever that stencil is will be untouched.

6. Mix your bleach solution.

bleached out disney t-shirts | teachmama.com

Because my t-shirts were dark colored, I knew that we wouldn’t need a lot of bleach to pull out color, so we went with a 60: 40 mix of bleach and water. I filled about 60% of the spray bottle with bleach and then added water to the remaining 40%.

If you’re doing a light grey shirt or light yellow or pink shirt, maybe you want to use all bleach, but since ours were black, bright blue, and dark grey, I was pretty confident that even if our bleach was diluted a bit, it would yield the results I wanted.

7. Place cardboard inside the shirt. 

Make sure that the cardboard covers all edges unless you want the bleach to carry over to the side a bit. We want to make sure that only the front of the shirt is bleached and that it doesn’t seep through to the back of the shirt.

 

8. Spray, baby, spray.

bleached out disney t-shirts | teachmama.com

bleached out disney t-shirts | teachmama.com

Make sure that the spray nozzle is on the mist setting — test it in the sink if you need to. Then give the spray bottle a shake, and spray the shirt.

Keep the bottle about 6-12  inches from the shirt, depending on the look you want to achieve.

bleached out disney t-shirts | teachmama.com

bleached out disney t-shirts | teachmama.com

You can either make sure the area around the stencil is saturated, or just spray lightly.  You can use a hairdryer to speed up the drying and bleaching process, or you can let the bleach air dry.  Again, it depends on what you want your shirt to look like.

9.  Carefully remove the stencil.  

bleached out disney t-shirts | teachmama.com

After the bleach settles a bit and before the freezer paper stencil gets super soggy, take the stencil off of the t-shirt

All three of mine removed super easy, with just a gentle pull of a corner.  If you need a start to lift up the stencil, use the edge of a dull knife or scissors. The last thing you want to have happen is to make a hole because you tried lifting the stencil too quickly with a sharp knife.

10.  Let your shirt dry just a bit and then rinse and wash the shirt. 

bleached out disney t-shirts | teachmama.com

 

First rinse the shirt in cold water to remove all of the bleach (See those little white dots in the top photo? That’s the bleach–it must be rinsed away. . . ).

And the finished shirt? Check it out:

bleached out disney tshirts teachmama.com

Then wring it out and wash it (or them, if you did several) in a gentle cycle wash. I dried my shirts on low, and they were fine. I needed them finished by the end of the school day, remember!

bleached out disney t-shirts | teachmama.com

bleached out disney t-shirts | teachmama.com

bleached out disney t-shirts | teachmama.com

Some tips: 

  • Make sure you are in a well-ventilated area.  I mean it. Bleach can really smell strong.
  • Put your shirt on a hanger to let your shirt dry for a bit before you rinse out the bleach.
  • Experiment a little–use a Q-tip to try some bleachy dots on the shirt, use a paint brush, or use the freezer paper in fun, new ways.

bleached out disney t-shirts | teachmama.com

bleached out disney t-shirts | teachmama.com

bleached out disney t-shirts | teachmama.com

bleached out disney t-shirts | teachmama.com

bleached out disney t-shirts | teachmama.com

Have. Fun.

Really, this trip is going to be fun, so make sure that your crafty craftiness before the trip is fun, too.

Check out a quickie video with the how-to: 

Do you subscribe to teachmama.com on YouTube? You should!! 
And really–let me know–have you tried this? What works and what doesn’t?

Looking for more Disney craft ideas?

bleached out disney t-shirts | teachmama.com

You will not believe what some of my crafty friends are doing. They totally rock.

And they, too, will be at Disney Social Media Moms Celebration next week. So do follow along with the fun at #DisneySMMC or on Instagram.

disney crafts round up numbered

Definitely check out what they’ve done:

  1. Little Mermaid Ears, by Vanessa of See Vanessa Craft
  2. DIY Disney Jewelry with Free Printable, by Jen of 100 Directions
  3. DIY BB-8 Shirt, by Karen of Desert Chica
  4. DIY Disney Autograph and Activity Book, by Sara of Clever Pink Pirate
  5. Disney Trip Countdown – DIY Washi Tape Chalkboard, by Sara of Mom Endeavors
  6. Disney Drawstring Backpack, by Laura of Pink Cake Plate
  7. bleached out disney t-shirts for the not-so-crafty crafter, by Amy of teach mama
  8. Disney Sticker Story Starters, by Marie of Make and Takes
  9. Disney Princess Duct Tape Hand Mirror, by Heather of Dollar Store Crafts
  10. Custom Toy Story Shorts and Shirts, by Kelly of Eclectic Momsense

 

 

Here are a few other ways to countdown or celebrate your own Disney vacation: 

Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers

Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers

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Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers

 

For the past two years, we’ve been invited to attend the Future City Competition here in DC.

Last year, only Maddy and I attended (It was the very same day our chicks hatched! Ahhhh, memories–), but this year, the whole family got in on the fun.

Future City is a middle school engineering competition; this year over 40,000 students from around the world competed. It’s really a super-cool event that I love attending with my kids.

And I’d love to see more families encouraging their schools to get involved because it’s easy for students of all backgrounds to participate in and the payoffs are huge.

Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers

We’re inspiring future engineers! Giving kids a chance to solve real-life engineering problems! Teamwork! Collaboration!

It’s all awesome.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Future City–Middle School Competition Inspires Future Engineers: 

My kids are not yet old enough to actually participate in the Future City Competiton, but that doesn’t matter.

I love bringing them to the event because they get to see first-hand what other kids, just a little bit older than they are, have worked so hard to create.

And they don’t only get to walk around passively; rather, spectators are encouraged to ask the groups questions, to interact with them, and to really learn a bit while there. I love it.

Check out a bit about Future City:

Here are some photos from our Future City adventure. Huge thanks to my three little photographers for taking such great pictures through the day!

 

Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers

Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers

Some Future City fun facts: 

  • More than 40,000 students from 1,350 middle schools are participating nationwide in the regional competitions.
  • Future City, a STEM program, is reaching girls and underserved students
    • 46% of participants are girls;
    • 33% of participating schools have 50% or more of their students enrolled in the reduced or free lunch program.
  • Future City is a program of DiscoverE, a consortium of professional and technical societies and major U.S. corporations.
  • Student teams, led by an educator and volunteer mentor, research and design a solution to a city-wide challenge that changes each year.

Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers

Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers

Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers

Each Future City team must do several things:

  1. design a virtual city using the latest SimCity software;
  2. write a 1,000 word essay outlining their solution to the given problem;
  3. create 500-word city narrative describing their city of the future;
  4. design a model of their city to scale with at least one-moving part, using mostly recycled materials and staying within a $100 budget,
  5. impress the judges in only 7 minutes by showcasing what they’ve learned and what their city is all about.

Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers

Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers | teachmama.com

 

Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers | teachmama.com

 

Everything you need is at your fingertips.

The Future City website has literally everything you need to start a project and a team right there.

If you’re a homeschooling family, a public school or private school family–it doesn’t matter.  If you’re a part of a nationally, regionally, or state-recognized youth-focused organization, like Boy or Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs, or 4-H, you could form a team. I think it’d be a really cool focus for a group like this.

Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers | teachmama.com

Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers | teachmama.com

Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers | teachmama.com

Future City: middle school competition inspires future engineers | teachmama.com

Guess what? This week is Engineers Week (February 22-28, 2015), so perhaps it’s a good time to explore the DiscoverE site.

And Girl Day is February 26th:

 

And if you miss these two events, no worries!

The DiscoverE site has Upcoming Events shared and updated regularly.  There’s probably something near you in the next few months.

 

Want a few at-home STEM (science, technology, engineering, or math) ideas to try before you try Future City for yourself?  Check out: 

 

fyi: My friends at Blogalicious bLink and DiscoverE invited my family to attend Future City and share our experience. As always, my opinions and ideas are all my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator. 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of DiscoverE. The opinions and text are all mine.

new years eve guess the word game

new years guess the word game teachmama.com

new years eve guess the word game

Much like our Christmas Guess the Word Game, the New Year’s Eve Guess the Word Game totally rocks.

Okay.

There you have it.

Plain and simple.

Rocks. 

The kids loved playing our holiday version on the way to see their Pennsylvania family this week, so I made another version.

Actually, I made both versions on the same day.

And actually, the kids helped brainstorm words for both.

So fun.

Here’s the skinny. .  .

  • New Year’s Eve Guess the Word Game:

The premise is the same for both games, and it’s super-simple.

One person holds up a card with a word on it and tries to guess what it is.

Easy.

new years eve guess the word game

new years eve guess the word game

Remember, though, that the card holder does not look at the word.

And everyone else gives one-word clues to help the person guess it.

We often play in a few variations:

  • the fewer words it takes to guess, the better;
  • the person who can guess the most words in row wins;
  • for a challenge: all of the clues must begin with the same letter; or
  • all of the clues must rhyme with the word on the card;
  • add a timer.

new years eve guess the word game

new years party word guess game

Want to download the cards?

The New Year’s Eve Guess the Word Game is here to download as a pdf if you’d like: new years party word guess game

The last page is blank so you can add your own!

(If you choose to share this post, super! Please just link to this post instead of the attachment page, though! Thank you!)

Keep it simple.

And have fun with it.

And if you change things up a bit, let me know!

Want a few more cool New Year’s Eve activities? 

 

photo books for kids and family: 15 best, coolest, most clever and creative

photo books for kids and family: 15 best, coolest, most clever and creative

post contains affiliate links
the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

 

 

I’m a hardcore fan of the photo book.

Actually, I’m a fan of any book, but photo books have a special spot in my heart because I love to make them, and I love to get them.

And? They have happily replaced the ole book o’ photos that once took me for-ev-er and a day to assemble.

Photo books are super as gifts, and they’re super as learning tools for kids.

Once you get those creative juices flowin’ you can really come up with some pretty awesome ways to use photo books, each one more cute and clever than the next.

I like the photo books on Mixbook and Shutterfly personally, but you check them out and see what works best for you.

Both very frequently have rockstar sales going on.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Photo Books for Kids & Family–15 Best, Coolest, Most Clever & Creative:

the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

1. Sports Season: A super idea for a coach’s gift, a sports season is a super-cool photo book in itself.

Really. Take a few photos at each game, then add them to a folder on your computer each time you sync your photos.

Head to a few of the practices and get some shots there.

unique and cool photo book ideas  teachmama.com

Be there for team photo day, and hang out around the photographer. Most likely if you explain that you’re making a gift for the coach, he or she won’t mind if you sneak a photo of each kid on the team. Put each kid’s photo around the team photo (see above!), and the book is sure to be a win.

Don’t sweat it if you can’t remember every child’s name. You don’t even really need text to make this book a hit.

 

the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

2. Holiday Decorations:  Last year, we made a ‘Christmas at Nana’s House book for my nana, and she loves it. LOVES it.

We took tons and tons pictures at Christmastime last year and saved them for a Mother’s Day book. She didn’t even really notice that as she and the kids were eating Munchkins at her kitchen table, I was snapping shots all around the house.

Because my nana is getting older and because we all know how important holiday decorating is to her, this is one book we will all cherish for many years to come, especially when she’s too tired to take her hundreds of Santas out for us all to oooh and ahhhh over.

Get your own cool, creative photo book started now at Mixbook.com!

 

the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

3. Capture a Memory, a Life Event.

When Maddy was going into first grade, she had her tonsils and adenoids removed. She was crazy nervous, as was I.

But to make the experience a little lighter, I photographed every single step, from beginning to end. Together, we were making a book, I told her. And we were.

Brave Maddy is not Maddy’s favorite book now, I’ll admit it. She doesn’t like to see her tiny, worried face on the page, nor do I. But I do think that eventually we’ll be happy we have it. Sometimes–on rare occasion–I’ll catch Maddy paging through the book, explaining things to Cora or Owen. Perhaps if there are any surgeries in our future, this book may make the process easier for us.

 

click here for ‘family photo books–quick, easy, and affordable for super-busy moms

 

the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

4. House Snapshot.

My nana has always said she has the prettiest house on her street, so a few summers ago, I took photos of it. In and out, up and down, I shot it all. And then I put it into a book, just like her Christmas one.

And? She loves it.

Yes, her house is beautiful when it’s all decked out for the holidays, but it’s also really gorgeous all year long.

 

 

the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

 

5. Best Times With Grandparent

My mother-in-law went to New York City with us last year for a blogging event, and it was an absolute blast.

It was the kids’ first time taking the train into the city, skating at Rockefeller Plaza, and staying in a hotel at Christmastime. So we chronicled the whole trip, start to finish.

Then I put it into a book, and we gave it to my mother-in-law for Mother’s Day this year. Sure, it was a few months behind, but it didn’t matter. She still loved it. And so did we.

 

the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

6. Baby’s First Year

There’s nothing like a baby’s first year, that is a fact.

So the first year is a great time for a photo book, and for those of us who’d rather not bust out the glue, tons of loose photos, and scrapbooking stuff, photo books are the way to go.

The templates make a first year baby photo book so easy, it’s nuts. And? You can even order a little baggie to go inside the book (or for goodness’ sake, stick an envelope in there if you need to!) so that you can hold onto that coveted first lock of hair.

Bam. Done and done.

 

Get your own cool, creative photo book started now at Mixbook.com!

 

the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

7.  Recipe Book

I love having all of our family’s favorite foods in a photo book.

Why not?

I want my kids to be able to recreate our easy, everyday faves, even if they are simple crockpot recipes.

So start taking photos of your dinners. Take photos of the kids at the table. These everyday memories are ones to be cherished.

And how fun will it be when you can feature your child, apron and all, standing at the stove preparing meals for the next Family Recipe book? Awe-some.

 

the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

 

8. Craft Collage or Art Book

My kids are pretty crafty. Well, Maddy and Cora are.

And though Owen occasionally does do some drawing, he doesn’t craft and create like the girls do.

So having a photo book dedicated to all the kids’ crafts and artwork is a super idea.

You don’t need to be a fancy photographer or have crazy complex lighting to make this work, either. Choose a time mid-day, when the sun is shining, to put your children’s work in the natural light.

Photograph close up and from a distance.

Add the photos to a folder on your computer.

Share the photos with the photo book company, and voila! Photo book in hand in no time. Your kids–especially the crafty crafters–will love you for it.

 

 

Get your own cool, creative photo book started now at Shutterfly.com

 

the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

9.  LEGO Creations

Or Tinker Toys creations. Or HexBug tracks. Or block towers, Or whatever your kiddo builds, this book is all about those creations.

Play-Doh castles? Crazy-cool marble runs?

Is there a theme? Did he create the entire Ninjago set? Star Wars fighters? LEGO City? Take photos. Make a book.

She (or he!) will love you for it.

 

the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

 

10.  Church, Temple, or School Event

We are part of our church’s Gospel Drama every year, and the kids love it.

Especially if you are heading up a committee like this, having a photo book as a reference for future organizers or committee chairs is a super idea.

It could be a drama production. Maybe it’s a band concert. Perhaps it’s International Night or a Math Night.  It could be the Spring Carnival or Kindergarten Orientation.

What needs to be done first? What’s second? Who is in charge of what?

Take pictures of everything you can, and then upload them to a photo book. The visuals will help in the future, and the book can even stay in the office waiting room and be a great resource to have on hand for new-to-the-school families.

 

Get your own cool, creative photo book started now at Mixbook.com!

 

the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

 

11.  Cool Science Experiment (or Animal Facts!)

Last year, we had the super-awesome opportunity to hatch eggs at our home. It was one of the coolest experiences in our family’s little 11 year existence.

Throughout the entire egg incubation program, we took photos. And of course we made a book.

Kids love to learn about the process of egg hatching, and this little book will bring it all back to us, step by step.  Not only is it a chronicle of something really fun our family did, but it’s a memory maker in the process!

You can really create an animal fact book like this for any animal, at any time.

 

the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

12.  Family ABC Book

From A to Z, there’s a photo for every letter. Some were more difficult than others, but we did it.

And so can you. Really, it’s not that hard.

Having kids’ faces in the book is so fun for them, as is including your own pets, toys, car, and clothes.

Want kids to get their ABCs quickly?

Make a Family ABC Book.

 

the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

13.  Family Vacation

We don’t do this for every vacation, but for our ‘biggies’ we definitely create photo books!

Each time we went to Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, we created a book when we got home. And any time we have a question about the park, a ride, or something similar, we reach for one of our Disney books.

So fun.

Man I want to return. . .

the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

14.  Book About Love

We create a lot of books for my nana, don’t we?

Nana’s getting old and things are much more difficult for her, but one thing has not changed: Nana loves books. She’s a lifelong reader and writer, so today is no different, even though she’s 91.

The ‘We Love Nana’ book is a simple book with little text. The main message? I love Nana.

The characters? All of us. This one took a bit more planning because I needed photos from three sisters of their five kids, but it all worked out.

A Book About Love can be a teeny book that your preschooler takes to school with him each day so that he remembers Mom is closeby.

A Book About Love can be a chance to spend one full day with one kiddo–a close-up of that one child and how much you love him or her.

It can be everything in your lives that you love, with each family member taking one or two pages to create on his or her own.

Possibilities are endless.

Get your own cool, creative photo book started now at Mixbook.com!

the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

15. Home Renovation or Family Move

We tore it up in her last year, and we chronicled the entire thing.

We knew that at times though the reno took an eternity, in reality, it only took about six or seven weeks. That’s nothing.

Especially for the kids, it went by in the blink of an eye.

So having a photo book to walk us through everything from clearing out shelves to moving furniture to setting it all back up is really cool.

 

Ooooh, and for fun, make your Family Playing Cards into a photo book this year!

A great way to help your littles learn the spelling and letters of family names, right? Turn it into a photo book (super-totally easy!) and bam. Book. Family Name Book. Awesome.

 

Want a few awesome deals to snag in time for the holidays? SURE you do!

 

What photo books can you think of? Which ones make most sense for you to create? I’d love to hear it!

You know that it’s the thought that counts!

 

please pin it later!

the coolest, most creative photo books for kids and family  teachmama.com BLANK

Want a few more holiday-inspired gift ideas or activities? Check out:

must have gifts for kids and families | teachmama.com

gifts for sunday school teachers or CCD teachers | teachmama.com

 

kids and family gift guide from teachmama.com

 

teachmama gift guide 2012

 

 

holiday gift guide | teachmama.com

 

fyi: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Forever and always I recommend only products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy

super-easy, homemade photo tiles

super-easy, homemade photo tiles: coasters and more | a last-minute crafty craft for the non-crafters out there

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

super-easy, homemade photo tiles: coasters and more | a last-minute crafty craft for the non-crafters out there I find that no matter the year, I’m always scrambling for last-minute holiday gifts for family.

Every year we love to give our family homemade ornaments for the tree–preferably ornaments with our crazy kids’ mugs on them.

It’s so much fun every year to unwrap ornaments as we’re decorating the tree and to find photos of our kids when they were younger.

A few years back, however, we thought we’d be tricky and trade the ornies in for tiles.

And they came out really, really cute.

We made sets of coasters for grandparents and tiles for the aunts and uncles.

Honestly, they were the easiest gifts to make, and Maddy, Owen, and Cora loved doing them.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Super-Easy, Homemade Photo Tiles:

When I say, ‘easy’, I mean easy.

These tiles took a bit of time to dry, but that was the most time-consuming part.

To make them, you’ll need:

Making the tiles is super-simple.

super-easy, homemade photo tiles coasters and more  a last-minute crafty craft for the non-crafters out there  collage  teachmama.comHonestly, the hardest, most time-consuming part is finding a photo you like.

I chose one photo of all three kids together for the bigger tile and the kids’ school pictures for the smaller tiles.

I personally love school photos. I think there’s something really cool, clean, and classic about them. No matter how my kids’ photos turn out, I always try to use them for something throughout the year.

super-easy, homemade photo tiles coasters and more  a last-minute crafty craft for the non-crafters out there   teachmama.com

1. Grab your Mod Podge and cover the whole tile with it.  Because Mod Podge is essentially glue, all you need to do is paint the tile with Mod Podge and place your photo on top.

super-easy, homemade photo tiles | teachmama.com

super-easy, homemade photo tiles | teachmama.com

super-easy, homemade photo tiles | teachmama.com

2. Place your photo on top, where you want it on the tile. 

I added a little ‘holiday tag’ with Maddy, Owen, & Cora 2012 on it. Let. It. Dry.

You can download the tag here, of course personalizing it for your own cutiepies: holiday gift tags 2011

I love when kids can add their writing to any masterpiece, so for the tiny coasters, I had Maddy, Owen, and Cora write their names with a sharpie.

Want to know the really hilarious thing? I made these in 2011. Gave them to aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. It was 2011. The photo was from 2011. But I wrote 2012, like a champ. Awesome, right? 

I’m trying to confuse the whole world. Then I won’t feel so crazy.

 

super-easy, homemade photo tiles | teachmama.com

3. Mod Podge again. On top. Add a coat of Mod Podge, and Let. It. Dry. 

I told you these took a bit of time only in the waiting.

super-easy, homemade photo tiles | teachmama.com

super-easy, homemade photo tiles | teachmama.com

4. Add felt to the back. 

So the coasters don’t scratch the tables they’re trying to protect, add felt. Your mother-in-law will thank you.

Just use superglue or hot glue–whatever you have. I personally love my tiny hot glue gun. I keep a bunch of the tiny hot glue refills on hand, and I probably pull this guy out 3-4 times each month to use it for something.

For the larger tile, I added felt to the entire back. Because you’d be able to see the back when it was in its holder, I thought it looked nicer.

super-easy, homemade photo tiles

super-easy, homemade photo tiles

super-easy, homemade photo tiles

super-easy, homemade photo tiles

5. Let. It. Dry. Like totally and completely. 

And really? That’s it.

super-easy, homemade photo tiles

super-easy, homemade photo tiles

So easy, and such a fun little personalized, homemade gift.

This year? Cannot wait to share what we have in the works. Cannot. Wait.

Want a few more holiday-inspired gift ideas or activities? Check out:

must have gifts for kids and families | teachmama.com

gifts for sunday school teachers or CCD teachers | teachmama.com

 

kids and family gift guide from teachmama.com

 

teachmama gift guide 2012

 

 

holiday gift guide | teachmama.com

 

fyi: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Forever and always I recommend only products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy

advent activity calendar: fun, festive family holiday time

advent activity calendar teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

advent activity calendar | teachmama.comIt’s that time of year again–time for our Advent Activity Calendar!

Our Advent Activity Calendar is something we’ve been doing for the last four years, where we very simply plan a fun, festive, family holiday activity for each day of December.

Nothing fancy, crazy, or over-the-top–these are simple, small holiday pleasures that we pencil into this very busy month so that we don’t pass them by.

Giving activities, family activities, indoor and outdoor activities.  Solo activities and group activities.  Messy and not-so-messy activities.

Activities that need prep–and many that don’t.

Our focus is simple: to enjoy every possible minute of our favorite month of the year.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  •  Advent Activity Calendar: Fun, Festive Family Holiday Time:  We kept a lot of our old faves, and we added a few new activities.

 But essentially our Advent Activity Calendar is just that–ours, and it incorporates what our family values and appreciates during the holidays:

  • baking cookies
  • helping others
  • decorating
  • singing, dancing
  • Christmas specials
  • family time
  • making memories and remembering past holidays.

advent activity calendar: fun, festive family holiday time

Pick out our Christmas tree and decorate it!

Printing out two copies makes remembering activities a tad bit easier!

advent activity calendar

advent activity calendar

advent activity calendar

advent activity calendar

I print out a copy of the calendar to keep on hand for myself, and then I cut each of the squares out of the calendar and place them in our felt Christmas tree–something I picked up at the store years ago but something that you can find just about anywhere.  

(Check the bottom of the post for some ideas!)

You could make your own or do what several of my friends have done.  They’ve cut apart the squares of each calendar day and

  • put each square in a numbered envelope that their children decorate;
  • wrapped each in a tiny box that kiddos can unwrap each day;
  • hidden the square under a place mat at breakfast;
  • taped the square on the bathroom mirror;
  • used the chocolate Advent calendar and stuck the squares in each of the windows so kids get chocolate and an activity.

Either way, here’s the calendar to download either as we have it here, or feel free to adjust as you see fit:

Advent Activity Calendar, download as a pdf here: advent activity calendar 2014

Advent Activity Calendar, download as a word doc here: advent activity calendar 2014

Please, if you choose to share, link to this post instead of the calendar attachment! Thank you!

advent activity calendar | teachmama.com
advent activity calendar 2014

 

Here’s to a happy Advent season and to really appreciating this exciting and joyful time with family!

 

Want a few more holiday-inspired gift ideas or activities? Check out: 

 

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

our favorite thanksgiving printables for BIG kids!

our favorite thanksgiving printables for BIG kids

our favorite thanksgiving printables for BIG kids!

This week is the big week for us–lots of travel, lots of family, lots of friends, and lots of food!

Officially, the fun winter holiday season is upon us, and from here until January 2nd, it’s a wild ride.

But often that wild ride means that our kids tend to be kicked off of their normal schedules.

They get tired.

We get tired.

They get cranky.

We get cranky.

And they need some down time.

We need some down time.

So we’ve gathered a few of our favorite Thanksgiving printables–ones we are printing out and bringing to Thanksgiving meals–so that the kids have some unplugged down time.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Our Favorite Thanksgiving Printables–for BIG Kids:

If you need some conversation starters for the dinner table, I like these from Written Reality.   Especially if it tends to be quiet at your holiday, these may be fun for the family. And hey–even if it’s loud at your house, these might work toward giving everyone a chance to be heard.

As for printables, my kids still love a good, ole fashioned puzzle every now and again:

Word searches still get kids’ brains moving a bit:

And BINGO! Big kids still dig bingo:

Even though my kids are getting older, they still love to sit down with a box of crayons and color every once in a while:

I think these are super cute for the big kids to put on a little Thanksgiving finger-puppet show for the little kids: 

And I’ll take it.

Happy, happy, happy Thanksgiving and safe travels, friends!

 

Want to stay on top of all of our rockin Thanksgiving ideas for kids and families? Follow our pinterest board:

thanksgiving pinterest board

 

 

Get the bigger kids involved, too, with some of the food prep!

They’ll love to help arrange this Thanksgiving veggie turkey:

thanksgiving veggie turkey

fall classroom decor: quick and easy for teachers and parents

fall classroom decor quick and easy for teachers and parents teachmama.com

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fall classroom decor quick and easy for teachers and parents  teachmama.com

Fall is here! Already it seems as though the year is moving at light speed.

For many of us, whether we’re classroom teachers or homeschoolers or parent volunteers, now is a great time to put up some rockstar fall classroom décor. And the quicker and easier the décor, the better.

We need quick. We’re all busy. No matter what we’re doing, if we’re working with kids, we’re busy.

I’ve recently partnered with the good people at Staples–yes, believe it–and I’m throwing them some serious high-fives for the new line they’ve got. It’s chock full of classroom décor.

And though teachers will absolutely flip for this stuff, so, too, will parents.

Because not only are we talking about awesome decorations to brighten children’s classrooms, but we’re also talking awesome supplies for PTA boards, media centers, homework areas–you name it.

I’m really excited about it, so I’m giving one biggie classroom holiday décor gift set away.  It comes with décor for all seasons and then some.  Woot.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Fall Classroom Décor–Quick and Easy for Teachers and Parents:

 

fall classroom decor quick and easy for teachers and parents  teachmama.com

 

The coolest thing about any kind of classroom decorating is that kids–whether they’re your own children or whether they’re your students–love to help.  So my suggestion is to put them to work.

And though there are a million and one ways to decorate a bulletin board, the sets I looked at from Staples are pretty fool-proof. You don’t need a whole lot of ‘extras’ to make the board pop–and that’s a good thing.

fall classroom decor- quick and easy for teachers and parents

Though I am not currently in the classroom, my husband is the principal of a local elementary school, so between our own kids’ school and his, we have dozens of classrooms at our fingertips.

When I first chatted with Staples about a teacher to whom I could lend my classroom decorating services, I knew exactly who I’d help: a busy mom of three who just got back into the classroom.

She was totally game.

 

fall classroom decor- quick and easy for teachers and parents

 

fall classroom decor- quick and easy for teachers and parents

 

So Maddy, Owen, Cora, and I got to work one day last weekend to ‘spruce up’ her room a bit just in time to celebrate the fall season.

We used a handful of the fall decorations from Staples new classroom décor line, four pieces of construction paper, a little tissue paper and curling ribbon to make it pop, and that’s it. Voila.

fall classroom decor- quick and easy for teachers and parents

fall classroom decor- quick and easy for teachers and parents

 

Because this is a math classroom, I knew I wanted the boards to focus on math. I also knew that because the classroom is for third and forth grader math students, I wanted to make sure we had a welcoming area complete with student names for both grades.

We used some fall leaf cut-outs and pumpkin cut-outs for student names.   Quick, easy. Super cute.

Elementary schoolers aren’t always used to ‘traveling’ from classroom to classroom, so it’s a pretty big deal when they do.

 

fall classroom decor- quick and easy for teachers and parents

 

A lot of this line from Staples makes decorating super-easy: bright, bold, sturdy decorations and pre-cut letters.

Three-dimensional fall borders that seem to come to life with textured pop-outs. So cool.  And this little holiday moose? All you need to do is change its antlers each season, and you have a decoration that kids will love.

 

fall classroom decor- quick and easy for teachers and parents

fall classroom decor: quick and easy for teachers and parents

 

This fall pumpkin puzzle bulletin board set can be used in a dozen different ways. Each of the puzzle pieces is sturdy and laminated, so you can write on them with dry-erase markers–and it wipes off easily.

And it comes with ‘We all fit together’ mini-poster, a second poster, and a handful of smaller pumpkins.

 

fall classroom decor- quick and easy for teachers and parents

fall classroom decor- quick and easy for teachers and parents

 

We contemplated writing student names on the pieces, but we settled on writing math problems.  That way, while students walk through the hallway to their math classroom, they can get their brains moving and start getting in the math-mindset!

Really, though, you could use the fall pumpkin puzzle for anything: student birthdays, teachers, alphabet letters, you name it.

 

fall classroom decor- quick and easy for teachers and parents

 

fall classroom decor: quick and easy for teachers and parents

 

The classroom. Looks. AWE-some.

And it only took us about an hour or so–from start to finish–to get the job done.

Huge thanks to Staples for making more happen in the classroom with their expanded assortment of education and learning products. They’ve got basically everything you need for a rockstar classroom: classroom décor, activity books, teaching aids and more.

And Staples Teacher Rewards program gives participating teachers up to 5% back in Staples Rewards, free shipping on staples.com, 10% back in Staples Rewards on teaching and art supplies and ink recycling rewards. Bam. Who knew?

 

————————————————————-

GIVEAWAY: One classroom décor set for all seasons–and then some!–valued at $100.

Do you want to win your own classroom décor set to use either in your own classroom, to donate to your child’s teacher, or to use for your PTA, church, or homeschool??!  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, October 31, 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 10/31/14.  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: I am proud to be a Staples partner, and this post was written as part of the #staplesclassroom campaign; however, 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 classroom decorators.

halloween lego game: unplugged, creative fun

halloween lego game: unplugged, creative fun | teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 
halloween lego game: unplugged, creative fun | teachmama.com

I’m always on the hunt for fun ways to keep my kids engaged and interested and thinking creatively.

And when I find something that works, and it’s unplugged, creative fun, it’s a serious win.

Today after school, while Cora was working on homework and Maddy and Owen were recharging, I put them to work.

Why not, right? They’re young.

A few days ago, I ran across something on Pinterest that got me thinking.  Would it be possible for kids to design and build simple holiday-inspired objects out of Legos?  Could I give them just a little guidance and just a little inspiration and have them take it from there?

I was pretty impressed with what they came up with.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Halloween Lego Game–Unplugged, Creative Fun:

First, I grabbed a ton of plain Lego bricks. I wanted just bricks.

halloween lego game: unplugged, creative fun | teachmama.com

 

halloween lego game: unplugged, creative fun | teachmama.com

 

No windows, flowers, wheels, or people.

Nothing fancy.

Just good, ole plain-Jane Lego bricks.

And really, this took the most time for me–separating Legos.

But I found some, and then I printed out two ‘inspiration sheets’. I grabbed one from my pal Allie’s site, on a post she wrote called Halloween Lego Challenge. The post is awesome, and I love the whole idea of building something for kids and having them do their best to build the same thing.

halloween lego game: unplugged, creative fun | teachmama.com

 

halloween lego game: unplugged, creative fun | teachmama.com

 

It’s a fantastic cognitive and fine-motor skill-builder, especially for little guys.

I also found inspiration from Geek Alerts; their Halloween Lego Set post actually shows the pieces they built from a set you can buy: Halloween Lego Set.

So I printed the sheets out and gave Maddy and Owen the challenge: build some Halloween-inspired things.

halloween lego game: unplugged, creative fun | teachmama.com

 

halloween lego game: unplugged, creative fun | teachmama.com

We talked about what those things could be–the objects on the sheets that I printed out or other things Halloween, like brooms, bats, hats, ghosts, monsters, ghouls, whatever.

And what they came up with was cute and simple.

I loved that they were using what was on the sheets as inspiration along with what we had to really come up with some cool things: a pumpkin, a ghost, a witch, candy corn, a hat, and a little Frankenstein monster.

halloween lego game: unplugged, creative fun | teachmama.com

 

halloween lego game: unplugged, creative fun | teachmama.com

 

Working with Legos in any capacity is a fabulous way for kids to get their brains moving and fine motor muscles working.  And whether they’re following instructions step by step or whether they are creating pieces on their own, it’s all good.

It all rocks.

My longer-term idea was to have this Lego challenge be a part of Cora’s class Halloween party–but that’s a whole other story coming a few days down the road.

But much like the inspiration sheets I printed and gave to Maddy and Owen to get them started, I want to do the same for the kids in Cora’s class.

halloween lego game: unplugged, creative fun | teachmama.com

 

If you want to print out the Halloween Lego Scramble sheets–little pictures of Halloween items that just about any kid can make with just about any regular set of Lego blocks–you can print it out here: halloween lego game _ teachmama.com

Huge and happy thanks for sharing them if you’d like, but please direct folks to this post rather than the attachment page. 

My goal is to use it as an inspiration for small groups during the Halloween class party this month.

 

Some other ideas for making Halloween Lego-building fun: 

  • add a timer and make it a timed copy and build;
  • share a card and have everyone try to make their own version of the item at the same time;
  • take turns flipping a card and building the item;
  • have kids take pictures of their own Halloween items and add them to the cards!

 

 

fyi: Affiliate links are used in this post which means that many of the links will take you to amazon, and if you purchase the item, teachmama.com will get a teeny, tiny percentage. It all helps, and we appreciate it!

Huge and happy thanks to Allie of No Time for Flashcards and to the team at Geek Alerts for sharing their Halloween Lego posts. 

Want a few more fun halloween party ideas?