quandary: video game for improving decision-making skills

video game for improving decision-making skills @QuandaryGame | teachmama.com

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quandary: video game for improving decision-making skills | teachmama.com

I’m always on the hunt for worthwhile ways to sneak in some fun and learning into my kids’ days.

And though I’m super careful about screen time, I’m rather impressed with a game that I’ve recently been introduced to: Quandary.

Not surprisingly, my little game-testers were eager to try this digital game that is structured to develop ethical thinking skills.

It’s interesting. It’s different.

And it really gets kids thinking.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Quandary–Video Game for Improving Decision-Making Skills:

 I, too, was a little skeptical when it came to looking at this game.

I wondered, how on earth could a video game really deal with decision-making and critical thinking and ethical issues? 

But this one really, truly does.

quandary: video game for improving decision-making skills | teachmama.com

quandary: video game for improving decision-making skills | teachmama.com

Fast facts:

  • Quandary is a game that provides learning experiences that let kids practice distinguishing the difference between facts and opinions.
  • It is a game that allows kids to explore decision-making.

quandary: video game for improving decision-making skills | teachmama.com

quandary: video game for improving decision-making skills | teachmama.com

  • It’s a game that gives kids a chance to learn about a problem, hear situations from various community members’ perspective, reflect on those opinions, and then decide on the best possible solution.
  • It’s a game that aims to support not learning of new content but learning of new skills.
  • And it’s a game that provides a ton of discussion between adults and kids.

quandary: video game for improving decision-making skills | teachmama.com

quandary: video game for improving decision-making skills | teachmama.com

 

Designed for players ages 8 and older, there is a lot of reading with Quandary, truth be told.

Players read the scenario first to understand the problem.  The layout is similar to a comic book or graphic novel, and many kids today are quite comfortable with this genre.

The cool thing, from a Reading Specialist’s perspective, is that when players click the text, the text is read aloud.  The combination of visual and audio reading is a huge support–even for older readers.

 

quandary: video game for improving decision-making skills | teachmama.com

 

Owen, my forever gamer, was big into trying this game, so one evening he, Cora, and I sat down together to look at it.

It was a lot for Cora, who is 7 years old.  It was a lot for Owen, at 9 years old, but he was in the mood for a challenge and was really willing to read through each scenario and description and make the right decision.

The first time he played, we worked together to figure out the steps and try to earn points for organizing statements of fact, opinion, and solution. We talked about the best ways to organize characters into groups of people who would agree with our decision and those who would disagree.

 

quandary: video game for improving decision-making skills | teachmama.com

 

My friends, Quandary is not a game to start at 8:30 pm on a school night. It’s a game to play when your brain is sharp and your kids are in the mood for a little brain challenge.

Overall, Owen liked that:

  • the levels were fun;
  • there were different episodes to choose from;
  • the game helped him with problem-solving skills.

Owen wishes that:

  • there were more episodes (currently there are 3);
  • that it might be a little easier–it could be hard for younger kids.

quandary: video game for improving decision-making skills

I liked that:

  • the game is free (yay! free is good!);
  • the game is totally different–a new and unique concept for kids;
  • the game is created to be used alongside kids–super starting point for discussion;
  • the game moved areas in the brain that are often dormant for kids.

The website covers a ton of FAQs for parents, and a very comprehensive FAQ section which I definitely had before exploring the platform. It’s also got a boatload of resources for teachers that would be super helpful for getting this game into the classroom. The possibilities are there, and I’d love to see this kind of discussion-based game be used more in that way.

Totally worth checking out. I’d love to hear what you think.

Think you’ll check it out? Let me know!

Have questions? Ask away! Or chat with the Quandary folks at @quandarygame on Twitter and or Quandary Facebook page.

 

fyi: This post reflects a collaboration with the Women Online and Quandary. All thoughts and opinions are, of course, my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator and by my three gamers.

understanding italics in fiction: text features and meaning

understanding italics in fiction: text features and meaning

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

 

understanding italics in fiction: text features and meaning | teachmama.comI’ve always tried to make a big deal about certain text features when we see them in fiction that we’re reading, especially bold and italics.

I’m cool like that.

There’s something about bold and italics that make me feel like they give us a teeny glimpse into what the author really wants us to understand in the text.  Or maybe I just can hear the characters’ voices more clearly when I can see what they would be emphasizing during conversations.

Or maybe I just tend to use them a  lot so I’m happy when I see them on someone else’s page.

Whatever it is, Cora and I had an interesting conversation about italics last night before bed, and I thought it was worth sharing.

If we had this chat, certainly other parents are having the italics chat as well.

. .  . or maybe we’re just a strange family.

Either way, it’s worth taking a look at if you do any read-alouds with your readers at home.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Understanding Italics in Fiction–Text Features and Meaning:

Cora was reading a book to me when it all started.

It was a book from her Media Center that she picked up yesterday called The Witch Who Was Afraid of Witches, by Alice Low, illustrated by Jane Manning. Very cute book geared toward readers in grades 2-4, about a little witch who is afraid of her two older, bossy and nasty sisters until she discovers her own magic one Halloween night.

understanding italics in fiction: text features and meaning

understanding italics in fiction: text features and meaning

 

Like I try to do during read-alouds, I let Cora’s first time reading through the italics and ignoring them go.

She didn’t alter the meaning of the text; she just ignored the text feature. It’s all good.

But when she finished the book and we were talking about it, I said, Man, I liked how fluently you read that story. You really do a good job of paying attention to the punctuation, especially when people are speaking. I showed her a few places where she did this, pointing out specific examples.

One thing I’d love for you to do next time you read it, though, is keep your eyes open for certain text features–like italics. I personally love italics and bold when I see it in books. Do you want to know why?

She nodded. understanding italics in fiction: text features and meaning

 

I like italics and bold because it kind of lets you know what the author wants the reader to emphasize.

Like here: (I flipped back to the beginning of the book.) I read, ‘Her oldest sister, Polly knew everything’.  See how ‘knew’ is in italics? The author wants us to say it with more emotion to make a point–that the oldest sister had a brain full of information.

Cora stopped me. She closed the book. 

Confidently, she declared: Well I don’t care about italics. The author is not the boss of me. 

 

understanding italics in fiction: text features and meaning

 

I honestly felt like I was in a bad sitcom.  I have not a clue where she ever heard that phrase, but not much surprises me from my tiniest.

Well that’s fine, I said. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to when it comes to reading. We really just want you to find good books that you enjoy and like reading. But the thing with italics and bold is–that they help ‘complete’ the story. Sure, you can read anything on the page–the words–and look at the illustrations–but if you ask me, text features like italics just take it a step further. They take the reading up a notch. Like beginners may just read the words, but experts may read it all–italics, bold, the whole thing. Because they want to get the whole picture. 

I showed her two other places in the text where the author used italics, focusing on the part when little witch Wendy was sad in her bed, hugging her broomstick. She says, ‘At least I have you. . . you give me a little witch power’.

We talked a bit about that statement and how it sounds different when a person reads it without emphasizing ‘you’ and with emphasizing ‘you’.

She wouldn’t budge. I didn’t convince her of the power of italics. . . but at least I got her thinking.  I hope.

 

Is this skill imperative for young readers’ understanding of a text? Must they be able to respond to every text feature they encounter in fiction or non-fiction texts?

Honestly, it’s not the hill I want to die on. (Notice deliberate use of italics, please.)

If kids are decoding the text in a book like this, and if they understand and appreciate the story, it’s all good. However, Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts, grade 2 requires that students understand how text features are used in nonfiction (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.2.5).

And if you jump on over to the fiction side of CCSS, you’ll see that students need to acknowledge different points of view of characters which they can express by reading in a different voice for each character when reading aloud (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.6)–so this is where understanding the text features in order to best understand the characters would come into play. Or when ‘integrating knowledge and ideas’ students have to use information gained from illustrations or words in a text . . . in order to demonstrate understanding of characters, plot, or setting (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.7). So does this count as ‘information gained from words in a text’? Hmmmm. 

So there you have it. They’ve got to understand how text features like this are used, but if they choose not to read it that way, it’s their choice. Kids just have to show that they understand what’s going on. And clearly, my kiddo gets that the author isn’t the boss of her.

 

fyi: affiliate links are used in this post

brain teasers for kids

brain teasers for kids | teachmama.com

brain teasers for kids | teachmama.comWe’re longtime fans of brain teasers for kids over here, in any form, at any time.

We dig brain teasers at lunchtime, brain teasers in the kitchen, brain teasers for long road trips.

Maddy went through a riddle stage last year, when every other day she shared one of a handful of riddles, and ever since then, we’ve been hooked.

So I did a bit of poking around the ‘net this past summer in an attempt to nail down any and all freebie brain teasers for kids I could find.

I hit the jackpot in a big way.

They keep asking for more. Woot.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Brain Teasers for Kids: Really, there are about 8 million books and sites about brain teasers, but I wanted something that I could print and take places with me.

I wanted something that I could use as reading material at mealtime and entertainment on the soccer sidelines.

 

 

 

brain teasers for kids | teachmama.com

brain teasers for kids | teachmama.com

I stumbled across Squiggly’s Playhouse which has been around FORever and which is packed with tons of fun for kids.  

And I put the brain teasers on a happy little document and printed them out on fun and fancy, colorful cardstock.  Then I printed them out, cut them up, and threw them in a sandwich bag.

I take them just about anywhere and use them any time I want the kids to be unplugged. Any time I want them to use their brains.

 

brain teasers for kids | teachmama.com

I created two sets of Brain Teaser Cards:

If you use them, let me know! I’d love to hear it.

If you share them, please link to this blog post, and let me know! I’ll give you a shout out of thanks!

Both are created with thanks to Squiggly’s Playhouse.

 

I originally shared both sets via our Tabletop Surprises this summer, but (gulp!) we didn’t figure them all out.
Some are pretty tough!
Most recently, we’ve been using the brain teasers at breakfast. Though there was a time in our lives when I read the newspaper with the kids in the morning, now I’m doing the am scramble.

Before the kids wake up, I work for an hour or two in the morning or try to sneak in some exercise–so when I get them out of bed, I follow them back down stairs and make lunches. It’s fine. It’s working.

We chat, plan out the day, or, as mentioned here, work through some brain teasers.

 

brain teasers for kids | teachmama.com

brain teasers for kids | teachmama.com

 

I just talk through the news after school now, while we debrief about school and have a snack or two.

And these are a good way to get Maddy, Owen, and Cora to do some critical thinking and stretch their minds a bit. To think outside the box.

That’s it–try it for yourself and see how it goes!

Just a little, sneaky and fun, at-home learning in the every day, when we’re able. Not as easy as it once was when my loves were little, but we’re trying!

Do you have a favorite site or book for brain teasers? I’d love to hear it~

dream car of the day: cool look at the car of the future

Dream Car of the Day: A unique Vine campaign celebrating the 90 finalists of the 8th Toyota Dream Car Art Contest

This post is brought to you by Toyota.

 

It’s no secret that most kids are highly influenced by their peers. dream car of the day: cool look at the car of the future

Too often, parents forget that their children’s classmates can be a totally positive ‘push’ for our kids.  Sometimes, our children aren’t even aware of what they can do until they see one of their peers do it.

My Maddy had no clue what her body could do on the diving board until she watched a teammate flip and turn, and then she was determined to do the same.

Owen was pushed harder to excel in soccer by playing a year above his age group for the last two years.

Cora never believed she could glide smoothly across the ice until she decided to do the same as her classmates in ice-skating class last year.

So when I heard about Toyota’s Dream Car of the Day, a Vine campaign celebrating the 90 finalists of the 8th Toyota Dream Car Art Campaign, I was eager to share them with my own kids.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Dream Car of the Day–A Cool Look at the Car of the Future: Really, the creativity, thought, and innovation behind some of these designs is crazy.

For the last eight years, Toyota Sales & Marketing Corporation has hosted the Toyota Dream Car Art Contest which allows children from all regions and cultures to share ideas about the future of mobility and how cars can make the world a better place.

dream car of the day: cool look at the car of the future

dream car of the day: cool look at the car of the future

Hundreds of thousands of children from across the globe have submitted original artworks depicting their “dream car”, but the coolest part of this contest, in my opinion, is what they’ve done for the 90 finalists.

This  year, Toyota is highlighting the contest online through a first-of-its-kind Vine campaign, Dream Car of the Day.

Each of the 90 children who have been selected as finalists have been spotlighted as the hero for a day, and their dreams will be made into reality for all to see through animation: 

To bring the artists’ imaginations to life, Toyota has partnered with creative agency Saatchi & Saatchi Fallon Tokyo for the Dream Car of the Day campaign to transform 2D drawings into 2D and 3D animations, capturing each dream car in action with a 6 second Vine video.


These videos, like the one above, are incredibly cool. The 90 finalists seriously must feel like superstars.

What is amazing is the work that went into animating these dream car designs so that the integrity of the masterpiece wasn’t compromised.   Honestly one of the coolest things ever. 

 

 

dream car of the day: cool look at the car of the future

 

dream car of the day: cool look at the car of the future

 

But it gets even more cool: the 31 best finalists have been sent on a 5 day trip to Japan for the awards ceremony, where they also receive the opportunity to tour the Toyota factory and experience Japanese culture. (How crazy is that??!)

The kids and their families are in Tokyo now and will gather to hear the winners announced this Tuesday (Wednesday in Japan). Curious to find out the winner? Check the Dream Car Twitter page for the big reveal!

dream car of the day: cool look at the car of the future

 

dream car of the day: cool look at the car of the future

 

Maddy, Owen, and Cora each sat mesmerized at the screen as they scrolled through the entries.

They. Are. Incredible.

Here are some of our favorites, though they are all cool:  

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

************************
Personally, I’ll take the Multi-Tasking Fun Car, thankyouverymuch:

************************
And even though the contest is over, and they’re no longer accepting entries for this year’s contest, Maddy still felt the need to get her drawing and designing on.

She checked out dozens of cars on the Dream Car of the Day site, and then she grabbed some paper and some pencils. 

I’m pretty sure she’s counting down the days until the next Toyota Dream Car Art Contest. . .

 

dream car of the day: cool look at the car of the future

dream car of the day: cool look at the car of the future

I have a feeling that it’s something she’ll be working on for a while. . .

. . . Japan, here we come! (We can dream, right?)

Want to stay on top of next year’s Dream Car Art Contest?  Entries open soon! Stay updated at Toyota Dream Car Art Contest.

 

I’m curious. What would your dream car have or do?

Mine? It’d have to be able to self-clean.  Man, does Vanny McVannerson get dirty quickly with three kids in and out all of the time!

 

fyi: This is a sponsored post. I was asked by Toyota to share information about the Dream Car of the Day, and I gladly did. As always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator and by my three little dream-car designers.

let kids learn on their own time: tabletop surprises

let kids learn on their own time: #tabletopsurprises | teachmama.com

let kids learn on their own time tabletop surprises  teachmama.com

We just finished week number six of our ten week tabletop surprises — a simple but clever way we encourage our kids to learn on their own time.

Tabletop Surprises are just that: invitations to learn, play, create, invent, and think–on their own time. 

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

Here’s what we did this week.  A little bit o’ math, a little bit of reading, a little bit of writing, and a bit of critical thinking.

Pretty fun.  But next week? Even better.

No kidding.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Let Kids Learn on Their Own Time–Tabletop Surprises:

 

monday:


magnets + pipe cleaners + paper clips + vases = FUN #tabletopsurprises #summer #familyfun #science #keepthembusy #momsofinstagram

 

 

tuesday:

my crew will love this one! ( and the parents win on Thursday night!) #kidsinthekitchen #cooking #foodiefamily #food #tabletopsurprises #summer

 

wednesday:

back by popular demand: brain teasers. want ’em? head to the blog. click on #tabletopsurprises #summer #brainteasers #brainy #sofun #teachmama #printables #familyfun

 

thursday:

poem reading. poem writing. offline. online. #tabletopsurprises #summer #familyfun #writing #readingrocks

 

 

friday:

math challenge problemos about baseball and chocolate, thanks to @nctm #tabletopsurprises #summer #math #smart #familyfun

 

 

Check out all the fun we’re having this summer! 

Follow along on Instagram and leave YOUR user name in the comments so we can follow YOUR #tabletopsurprises adventures!

Want the skinny on #tabletopsurprises? Wonder what in the world I’m talking about?

Check it out:

tabletop surprise email promo 400 teachmama.com.png

 

fyi: #spon: I am in a partnership with Intel. Through this partnership I gain access to content, product, or other forms of value.

online virtual playground for animal and science fans

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

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

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

And sometimes that frightens me.

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

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

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

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Online Virtual Playground for Animal and Science Fans:

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

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

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

Really.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

disney pin trading: why it rocks for families

disney pin trading: why it rocks for families

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

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

It. Was. Amazing.

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

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

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

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

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

We’re totally and completely hooked on pin trading.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Disney Pin Trading–Why it Rocks for Families:

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

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

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

Simple, right? Right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

We all really had a blast with pin trading.

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

 

disney pin trading | teachmama.com

 

disney pin trading | teachmama.com

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

fyi: Affiliate links are used in this post.

create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

make a library plan teachmama.com

Kids can be a little silly when it comes to picking out their own books at the library. create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

Where some can easily head right on over to the section they want, grab the books they want, and quickly find a quiet, cozy spot to read, others need . . . a little more direction.

And believe me, I’m all for giving kids time to browse the shelves, look around, relax and explore.

But really.

Our kids are so totally lucky to have so many books at their fingertips. Let’s give them a little direction so they can make the most of a trip to the library or to their school media center.

So after chatting with my pal Heather, and after my own kids’ crazy library book experiences, I decided to create a little Library Plan sheet.  They work.

They help give kids focus when they’re faced with All. Those. Books.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Create a Library Plan–Make the Most of a Trip to the Library:

create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

 

I am not lying when I say that in Owen’s first three years in elementary school, he brought the same random book about dogs home at least ten times. It was a small, hardcover book about chihuahuas. And the fifth time it landed on our kitchen table, I asked why he brought it home again, and he said Because I like it.

I suggested that he try searching for other books about chihuahuas or even other books about dogs, but he said, No. I like this one.

 

create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

 

The next year, when the book ended up back at our house, I gave him a little more nudging. You’re sure you love that book that much? I mean, haven’t you memorized it by now? 

He assured me that he just ‘really liked it’.

What I learned is that Owen doesn’t really care about his library books. He really doesn’t.

His goal? Grab a book. Bring it back to his class. Bring it home.  Maybe take it out of his backpack, depending on the day–maybe not. Bring it back to school. Put it in the library bin. Done. Bam.  Check it off. Gimme the next thing.

create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

 

So rather than have him do the same thing this summer–a time when we usually hit the library as a family pretty often–I decided it was time to make the Library Plan.

Heather asked me a while ago if I had anything she could use for her boys, and really, I didn’t.

But now I do.

Small enough to fit inside a pocket or in the cover of a current library book, the Library Plan is super-simple.

The Library Plan is here to download if you so choose: library book plan

create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

library book plan  | help kids make the most of a trip to the library!

It includes a space for titles that kids might be seeking, authors, and subjects. And in case you do your book searching from home, accessing your library’s card catalog via the library website like we often do, there’s a spot for notes, too. I thought that would be a great space to write down call numbers, messages, anything you want to remember from your at-home searching.

The Library Plan also includes a ‘think’ spot where all sorts of topics and ideas are added. I’m hoping that as Maddy, Owen, and Cora fill out their Plan sheets, these ideas jog their minds and helps to give them some things to think about or look for at the library.

And that’s it.

We used the Library Plans as the first day of our Tabletop Surprises this week, and they worked.

Really, truly helped to keep our afternoon trip to the library focused and productive.

 

What do you think? Will these work for your kids or students? What should we add or change? Do let me know!

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

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

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kid craft sale: supporting young entrepreneurs

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

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

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

No joke.

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

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

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

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

Summer fun, here. We. Come!

Here’s the skinny. . .

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

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

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

So that’s what we did.

support and encourage creative kids  teachama .png

 

support and encourage creative kids  teachama cranes.png

support and encourage creative kids  teachama

 

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

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

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

 

support and encourage creative kids  teachama crane.png

 

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

She wanted to make some fans.

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

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

support and encourage creative kids  teachama fans.png

She got to work.

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

(Minis are perfect for dolls, you know.)

support and encourage creative kids  teacham

 

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

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

 

support and encourage creative kids  teachama fans.png

support and encourage creative kids  teachama fans.png

support and encourage creative kids  teachama fans.png

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

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

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

support and encourage creative kids  teachama fans.png

support and encourage creative kids  teachama fans.png

support and encourage creative kids  teachama fans.png

 

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

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

So fun.

 

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

Consider:

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

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

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

This giveaway ends Friday, June 20, 2014 at midnight ET and is open to folks here in the US only. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 06/20/14.  Winner must respond within three (3) days of notification or forfeit the prize, in which case an alternate winner will be selected.  All Official Sweepstakes Rules apply.

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

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

fyi: This is a sponsored post but as always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my personal experience as a parent and educator–and, of course, my three little crafty-crafters.

Affiliate links are used for Acer C720P Chromebook.

bing in the classroom: 3 reasons parents will love it

bing in the classroom or at home teachmama.com

This post was created in partnership with Bing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the skinny. . .

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

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

Take a minute to see how it works:

Show support for #adfreesearch!

How will I use Bing in the Classroom this summer? 

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

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

Simply make your way to the Teaching Tools page.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

bing in the classroom why parents will love it in summer

The Bing homepage looks like this. . .

bing in the classroom why parents will love it in summer

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

bing in the classroom why parents will love it in summer

Love this.

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

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

bing in the classroom for summer | teachmama.com

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

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

the ONLY thing parents need to know during read-alouds

most important thing for read alouds cover pinterest .png

most important thing for read alouds | teachmama.com

What should parents know about read-alouds? 

What must every read-aloud have? 

Should parents memorize a list of strategies, techniques, or questions?  

Must parents spend hundreds of dollars on reading material every day?  

Do parents need to set aside two hours every day for reading with their kids?   

No, no and no.

There’s one thing that every parent must know during read-alouds, and I know you will be surprised. I bet it’s not what you’re thinking.

I’d love for you to head over to Scholastic Parents’ Raise a Reader blog–where I spend a wee bit o’ my writing time–to check it out. Read it and then let me know what you think.

Here it is: The Most Important Thing to Remember During Read-Alouds.

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So.  What do you think? 

  • Do you agree or disagree with my points?
  • How does your child’s learning needs compare?
  • How does your parenting style compare to the ideas outlined in the post?
  • Would you say that your household is similar or different to the one outlined in this post?
  • What steps will you take to make changes in your home?
  • What foll0w-up questions do you have? How can I help you improve in this area?

 

Thanks for reading, my friends!

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