school supply shopping: our NEW way to teach kids to be smart consumers

school supply shopping teachmama.com

school supply shopping  teachmama.com

 

Every year, we try to somehow involve our kids in back-to-school shopping.

When Maddy, Owen, and Cora were emerging readers, I created easy-to-read lists that we’d take on our shopping trips.

The lists combined words and pictures so that they could more easily find what they needed.

As the kids got older, we worked together to find the best places to shop, using the coupons and sales circulars to figure out the best deals.

This year, we tried something new.

school supply shopping  teachmama.com

I knew that the kids needed more of a reason to plan and shop, and I knew that money is always a push for them.

And, admittedly, we’ve slacked on our Gem Jars this summer.

So what we did forced our kids into becoming smart and savvy shoppers, and it also encouraged more ‘shopping at home’.

All kids agreed that they want to do our school supply shopping this way every year. So I’ll count that as a win in my book.

Here’s the skinny. . .

School Supply Shopping: Our NEW Way to Teach Kids to be Smart Consumers:

This year, I gave Maddy, Owen, and Cora a $40 budget.

And I said,

Okay, here’s the thing: I know we’ve been lax with Gem Jars this year, and I know we haven’t done anything with allowance.

Each of you has done a pretty decent job with chores, and we appreciate it.

So for school supply shopping this year, each of you has $40. And you have access to everything in our school supply drawer and everything in our house. And you have a ton of coupons and sales circulars to pick from.

school supply shopping  teachmama.com

Use whatever you want—and use the lists I’ve printed out from the school that tell you what you need.

And figure out the best way to use your money.

Remember that cheap is not always the best and that sometimes you pay a little more for quality.

And whatever money you have left after your shopping trip, you can keep.

Owen went nuts crazy. This is his thing—playing with numbers, looking at sales, and finding the best possible price.

He needs money for the snack bar at the pool, you know, and he knows that Mom and Dad don’t provide it.

So the kids used the planning sheet I created last year, and they got to work.

It was difficult for Cora—that I must say—and she gave up quickly.

school supply shopping  teachmama.com

school supply shopping  teachmama.com

school supply shopping  teachmama.com

I sat with her a bit and worked through some of the glitches, but she decided she was finished almost before she started.

Maddy and Owen worked pretty hard on theirs, Maddy roughly and Owen to the penny.

What was most awesome was that the kids shopped carefully in our house.

school supply shopping  teachmama.com

All these supplies? Yep. Found ’em in our house.

school supply shopping  teachmama.com

We had a few extra 3-ring binders from previous years along with a random mix of other supplies.  They pieced them together where they could, and then they were ready to  hit the stores.

We decided our first stop would be Target, so we took off late morning, each kid with his or her own shopping bag, list, and coupons.

school supply shopping  teachmama.com 2

school supply shopping teachmama.com 2

I was surprised that when we got to the store, the kids went straight for the supplies and knew exactly what they were looking for.

For the most part, they stuck to their lists, though they did make some changes.

And even though Owen wanted to go to Office Depot for ten cent folders, I explained that his decision to buy plastic ones for $.47 was a wise one because they’d last much longer.

So they gathered.

And shopped.

And checked things off of their lists.

 

And they used coupons.school supply shopping  teachmama.com 2

school supply shopping  teachmama.com 2

And they spent money.

And they saved money.

Only Cora had to break her second $20 bill, and they each pocketed quite a bit of money.

Then we headed to the Target Café for some lunch. And they each wanted a slushee, so they each bought one with their extra dinero. Yay!

Maddy and Cora were really into it in the end, too; in fact, they came home and had a design contest –who could arrange their school supplies in the most beautiful way.  Not sure who won, though, because I think I was pretty much beat from all of our shopping. . .

It was a great little real-life lesson and a great day!

Want to grab the printable we used and try this yourself?

Click on the image below:

back-to-school-shopping-get-kids-involved-teachmama.com_-671x1024

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summer fun for kids | teachmama.com

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Want a little more math fun?

Check out:

Or follow our rockin math pinterest board:

Follow amy mascott @teachmama’s board math on Pinterest.

 

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.

birdwatching math puzzles: super challenging and tricky

birdwatching math puzzles: super challenging and tricky

birdwatching math puzzles: super challenging and tricky

This summer as we usually do, I’m trying each week to include some new and exciting math fun.

In the form of puzzles or chocolate challenges or number games or just a new spin on old school problem-solving, any way we can pull in

Especially this year we’ve loved the challenging puzzles created by Erich Friedman.

These puzzles, you guys, are tough.

This week we tried the Birdwatching Puzzles.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Birdwatching Math Puzzles–Super Challenging and Tricky: 

The goal with these mazey puzzles is to move from the left side of the puzzle to the right, ‘visiting’ each color bird the same amount of times.

The ‘birds’ are actually colored dots, though, and it’s not as easy as it sounds.

 

birdwatching math puzzles: super challenging and tricky

 

birdwatching math puzzles: super challenging and tricky

 

Though Maddy and Cora didn’t even give these puzzles a go, Owen did.

He sat down at some point in the day–I never actually saw him do it–but the evidence was there.

 

birdwatching math puzzles: super challenging and tricky

He tried.

He stopped.

He doodled.

He tried again.

He did it.

birdwatching math puzzles: super challenging and tricky

He graded himself.

He moved on.

That’s summer, y’all.

birdwatching math puzzles: super challenging and tricky

birdwatching puzzles teachmama.com

 

Do you want to download the Birdwatching Puzzle sheet? birdwatching puzzles teachmama.com

Remember, I did not make these up or design them; I am the furthest thing from a tricky puzzle creator.  These are from Erich Friedman’s site, which you can visit here: Erich’s Puzzle Palace.

All I did was find the site, love it, and create easy-to-print puzzle pages for our tabletop surprises.

Thank you, Erich, for sharing your puzzle awesome with us!

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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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Want a little more math fun?

Check out:

Or follow our rockin math pinterest board:

Follow amy mascott @teachmama’s board math on Pinterest.

 

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.

camp google: ocean, space, music and nature weeks

camp google

camp google | teachmama.com

Friends.

I have been working with National Geographic Kids for some time now, as one of their ‘Insiders’ and honestly the coolest thing about it is that I get kind of ‘behind-the-scenes’ information that I can share with you.

Honestly.

Fab books, cool programs, you name it.

And this summer, National Geographic has partnered with Khan Academy, National Parks, and NASA to create some really rockstar at-home ‘camps’ for kids.

Really. It’s called ‘Camp Google’, and of course, along with our tabletop surprises, it’s going to make our summer one that my kids will never forget.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Camp Google–Ocean, Space, Music, and Nature Weeks:

Everything you need is right here–

Check out the video that tells you everything you need to know about Camp Google:

Each week will feature resources and activities led by experts.  You can do them any time you want.

When kids finish an activity, they earn a badge.

You know how kids love badges.

camp google badges | teachmama.com

 

Week One, Ocean Week:

Camp Google- teachmama.com

 

Week Two, Space Week:

camp google | teachmama.com

 

Week Three, Nature Week:

camp google

 

Week Four, Music Week:

 

 

camp google

 

 

I’m thrilled to be able to share this information with you as a fun summer resource for you and your kids.  Check back every week. Let me know what you think!

 

What did you do that really rocked this week? We’d love to hear it!

 

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Join us!

 

summer fun for kids | teachmama.com

 

Find something fun to do this summer by following our summertime fun board: 

Follow amy mascott @teachmama’s board summer fun & cool for kids on Pinterest.
 

Share it!

camp google  teachmama.com cover 2

 

 

FINAL INSIDER LOGO Hi-Res

So happy to be a National Geographic Kids Insider!

 

fun summertime learning for kids: tabletop surprises

fun summertime learning for kids: tabletop surprises

summer fun learning for kids  teachmama.com Week two of tabletop surprises is in the books, and it was a blast!

Because my crew was busy fighting off some pretty awful summertime colds, we did a bit of re-arranging with our tabletop surprises calendar this week.

But you know what? That’s the awesome thing about it: you can do what you want. When you want.

And the freebie 10 week resource guide includes a whole bunch of awesome extra ideas to use if one day doesn’t work for you. 

This week, we drew, built, wrote, and more.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Fun Summertime Learning for Kids–Tabletop Surprises:

Monday:

Tuesday:  

Wednesday:

Thursday:  


Friday:

 

What did you do that really rocked this week? We’d love to hear it!

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summer fun for kids | teachmama.com

Check out our summertime fun posts: 

 

Share it!

fun summertime learning for kids: tabletop surprises

matchstick math: patterns, puzzles and critical thinking

matchstick math teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

matchstick math  teachmama.com

The matchstick math activity we did last week for tabletop surprises was a real hit.

I had an inkling that the activity would be a favorite of Owen’s but really all of the kids were into it.

And when we didn’t bump the table, making the matchsticks fall all out of place and go everywhere, it was all good.

It was super-simple, and I thank the good folks who write Matchstick Puzzles blog for their ideas.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Matchstick Math: 

Really, I had heard about matchstick math years and years ago but never really tried it with my kids.

And the idea is simple: you have a simple challenge to complete with matchsticks. Move two to create a totally different object. Add three to completely remake a design.

matchstick math: patterns, puzzles and critical thinking

matchstick math: patterns, puzzles and critical thinking

 

Fun. And easy. But it’s not really that easy at all.

And when I stumbled upon this awesome matchstick math blog while planning our tabletop surprises calendar this summer, I like totally hit the jackpot.

All I did was make an easy printable for me which included three things:

  1. the before design
  2. the challenge
  3. the answer to the puzzle

 

Then, like all of the tabletop surprises every day, I set the matchstick patterns out on the table and let. It. Go.

So yes, you need matchsticks to do this.

matchstick math: patterns, puzzles and critical thinking

matchstick math: patterns, puzzles and critical thinking

And then throughout the day, the kids hit the table when they felt inclined.  When they were interested. It was great.

The printable includes six of the millions and millions of matchstick puzzles I found on the site, so if you really love them and want more, head on over. Really, what I have here is a fraction–and I mean fraction–of what they have going on over there.

They’re matchstick cray-cray.

But here’s the thing: if matchsticks make you nervous, DON’T. USE. MATCHSTICKS.

For real. You can totally get the same thing going on with these matchstick puzzles if you use something other than matchsticks.

Consider using:

The possibilities are endless.

Please don’t allow your fear–or aversion–to matches turn you away from this activity.

It really is cool, and it really does get your kids’ brains and bodies moving.

It’s quiet. It’s critical thinking. It can be a group or partner activity, and it’s a great way to pass time in restaurants if you need a little something unplugged to do.

 

matchstick math: patterns, puzzles and critical thinking

matchstick math teachmama.com

 

If you’d like to download the document: matchstick math teachmama.com

Please, if you choose to share–which we hope you do!–please share this post instead of the printable. Thank you!

What do you think? Cool?

I’d love to hear what you think!

 

And definitely do check out the awesome matchstick bloggy blog where all the puzzles can be found. Without that site, there’d be no matchstick math for us!

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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Want a little more math fun?

Check out:

 
Or follow our rockin math pinterest board:

Follow amy mascott @teachmama’s board math on Pinterest.

 

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.

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

coral reefs of Palauvirtual field trip teachmama.com

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coral reefs of Palauvirtual field trip  teachmama.com

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

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

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

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

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

Not kidding.

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

May 19th. 12pm ET.

You’re invited! You’re all invited.

Here’s the skinny. . .

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

For real.

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

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

The Coral Reefs of Palau: Nature’s Amazing Underwater Cities is the latest in a series aimed to build students’ knowledge of and emotional connection to environmental issues that are at the heart of The Nature Conservancy’s mission.

Got it? Good!

Here are the details:

Who:  teachers, students, parents, anyone

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

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

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

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

Where: whatever works for you–

When: May 19th 2015 at 12 pm ET

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

JOIN US!

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

prd_026970

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

Coral_and_fish

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Seriously? SO. Cool.

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

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

You’re invited! You’re all invited.

Here’s the skinny. . .

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

For real.

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

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

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

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

Got it? Good!

Here are the details:

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

Who:  teachers, students, parents, anyone

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

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

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

Where: whatever works for you

When: April 8, 2015 at 12 pm ET

How: sign up to take part in the virtual field trip herehttp://ow.ly/K9hIi

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

The Nature Conservancy virtual field trip and learning resources:

Friends, we are so lucky.

Learning is so much different now, thanks to technology.

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

Learning is so much cooler now, thanks to technology.

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

Check it out!

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

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

st. patrick’s day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt

st. patrick's day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

st. patrick's day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s right.

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

Should be fun!

Here’s the skinny. . .

St. Patrick’s Day Brain Teaser Scavenger Hunt: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

So.

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

Simple. So fun.

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

Get it? Good.

Ready? Go!

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

And we’ll see how it goes.

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

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

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

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

st pattys day RIDDLE scavenger hunt

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

st. pattys day brain teaser scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

 

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

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.

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

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

sponsored post

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

It was a blast.

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

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

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

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

Here’s the skinny. . .

Belgian Mussels With Kids–A Cultural Adventure at Home:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

They were psyched. Psyched.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

The mussels were a complete success!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

MWorld Educational App:

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

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

mworld app

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

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

 

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

mworld app collage | teachmama.com

 

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

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

It’s a must-see.

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

Here’s how:

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

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

Trip of a Lifetime: 

mworld trip of a lifetime | teachmama.com

Free codes for 100 teachmama.com readers? Really.

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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?