kings dominion: family-friendly amusement park in the dc metro area

family friendly kings dominion | teachmama.com

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family friendly kings dominion | teachmama.com

We did it.

We took the leap.

We visited Kings Dominion with our kids this weekend.

And? It was awesome.

My husband and I hadn’t been there in years, so we weren’t sure what to expect.  But we were pleasantly surprised.

Not only was Kings Dominion clean and totally beautiful, it was seriously more family-friendly than we expected. There was something for everyone, and my kids (11, 9, and 8 years old) are raring for a return visit–already.

Need a few reasons to take the trip to Doswell, Virgina–20 miles north of Richmond and 75 miles south of DC–to experience it for yourself?

Here’s the skinny. . .

Kings Dominion– Family-Friendly Amusement Park in the DC Metro Area

Here are my top 5 reasons families should take a trip to Kings Dominion this season:

 

1. It’s beautiful and clean.  

family friendly kings dominion | teachmama.com

family friendly kings dominion | teachmama.com

family friendly kings dominion | teachmama.com

Really. Gorgeous flowers. Green grass everywhere. Fountains, shops, restaurants– and restrooms!– all super clean.

It was something that my husband and I noted multiple times–we’d look at each other and comment about how beautiful the park was.

And I don’t even think it was that we were so grateful to be outdoors on a perfect spring day; the park really, truly is beautiful.

family friendly kings dominion | teachmama.com

family friendly kings dominion | teachmama.com

 

2. The color band bracelets make ride decisions easier.

family friendly kings dominion | teachmama.com

family friendly kings dominion | teachmama.com

The minute we arrived, we walked into a Height Guide station almost immediately, and this sweet gal was handing out bracelets to kids based on their height.

I loved it–it made deciding which rides Maddy, Owen, and Cora were permitted to ride much, much easier.

family friendly kings dominion | teachmama.com

Turns out that our kids were able to ride just about everything they wanted, which made the whole day totally stress-free.

The height guide is available on the website, so you can even measure your kids at home and plan accordingly.

 

3. Super-fun concert and event series. 

We were thrilled that the day we went to the park, Debby Ryan (think: Jessie, from Disney channel) and her band, The Never Ending, was playing.

family friendly kings dominion | teachmama.com

family friendly kings dominion | teachmama.com

family friendly kings dominion | teachmama.com

Our friends at Kings Dominion arranged for us to even meet her, which was an absolute treat for Maddy, Owen, and Cora.

They met Debby Ryan! And Debby Ryan was delightful. So sweet. So kind. So great with the kids.

family friendly kings dominion | teachmama.com

 

family friendly kings dominion | teachmama.com

 

We had a blast watching the show, and it was a huge highlight of our family’s spring break.

And honestly, the concert was free with park admission. So it was cool–everyone kind of moseyed on over around 5:30 for the 6pm concert. Great outdoor venue. So fun.

family friendly kings dominion | teachmama.com

family friendly kings dominion | teachmama.com

family friendly kings dominion | teachmama.com

family friendly kings dominion | teachmama.com

 

But this concert is just the beginning of the fun during the Spring Bloom Festival at the park; there’s a ton of other things planned this season:

  • Choo Choo Soul – For the younger ones, Choo Choo Soul is a children’s entertainment act featuring a hip-hop train conductor and her partner, a dancer and beatboxer dressed as a railroad engineer. The concert is free with park admission. Seating is limited and available on a first come, first served basis. Choo Choo Soul will perform at the Peanut’s Showplace Theater on Sunday, April 19 at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Spring Bloom: An International Culinary Celebration – Take a culinary trip around the world with Kings Dominion’s Executive Chef! New food stations and restaurants will feature international food items from Switzerland, Italy, Jamaica, and many more! These delicious delicacies will be created using fresh spring ingredients from local Virginia farms.
  • Live Entertainment – Strap on your dancing shoes and enjoy toe-tapping entertainment from local Country and Bluegrass bands every weekend!
  • Happy Birthday KD! – Kings Dominion opened over the course of two years, with the official grand opening on May 3, 1975. Time to cut the cake and blow out the candles as the park officially turns 40 on May 3, 2015. The day will be filled with surprises, entertainment and more!

I love that there are things other than just rides to explore here.

4. Activities for all ages. 

It’s no secret that Cora is not a fan of big roller coasters. She, like her mama, prefers the lazy river type of rides. So when we discovered Planet Snoopy, we were both in heaven.family friendly kings dominion | teachmama.com

 

family friendly kings dominion | teachmama.com

 

family friendly kings dominion | teachmama.com

family friendly kings dominion | teachmama.com

family friendly kings dominion | teachmama.com

 

Planet Snoopy is a PEANUTS™ happy area filled with 18 rides designed for entire families to enjoy together. These aren’t all ‘baby rides’ mind you; a few were rated ‘moderate thrill’ level 3, and I thought they were a little crazy.  The whole area was well-organized, and I liked that after a while we started seeing the same faces of kids and parents. It gave this big park a ‘small park’ feel.

Maddy, Owen, and their dad enjoyed some crazy fast and furious rides while Cora and I were rolling more slowly, and they loved every second of it.

family friendly kings dominion | teachmama.com

family friendly kings dominion | teachmama.com

family friendly kings dominion | teachmama.com

family friendly kings dominion | teachmama.com

They rode just about every big coaster they could, and after a while all the names started to sound the same to me. All I know is that they proudly survived the Intimidator 305, the ‘tallest, fastest, and most thrilling roller coaster on the East Coast’.  All I can say is thank goodness I wasn’t standing there watching them.

5. Great food choices. 

Food is huge for our family. We love food.

family friendly kings dominion | teachmama.com

family friendly kings dominion | teachmama.com

family friendly kings dominion | teachmama.com

And especially when we’re out and about, we like to have great food choices to keep us going.

Huge surprise to us was that Chick-fil-A® was there. Panda Express® and Rita’s® was there. Starbucks® and Subway® was there. There were a ton of really great options, and this is just the start–there were some super spots for sweet treats and sit-down meals as well.

Check out all of our photos from the day:

Do you want to get in on the fun, even if you’re far away?

Overall, we were impressed. It was an awesome, awesome day at Kings Dominion.

Have you been there? Have you tried it? Anything in particular that you loved or didn’t love? I’d love to hear it!

 

fyi: Huge and happy thanks to the team at Kings Dominion for extending an invitation to the park and the Debby Ryan Meet & Greet to our family and then asking me to write about the experience. As always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator.

baseball game scavenger hunt: fun for kids during the game

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

I have a hard time sitting still during sporting events.

I won’t lie.

I love the tailgating and the food and the crowds, but sometimes. . . the games seem really long to me.

So we’ve been creative in the past with our kid-friendly learning during baseball games, and this year, we kicked it up a notch.

Now that I have three readers on my hands, we can do a little bit more.

Yesterday, we celebrated Spring Break at a National’s Baseball Game, and we rocked out a new-for-us Baseball Game Scavenger Hunt.

It. Was. So. So. SO FUN.

Maddy, Owen, and Cora all admitted that the Scavenger Hunt was a great part of the day (wooo-hooo!). So if I don’t say so myself, I think I hit it out of the ballpark with this one.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Baseball Game Scavenger Hunt–Fun for Kids During the Game: 

Our game was rainy, grey, and cold, so the Baseball Game Scavenger Hunt came in handy big time.

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

 

We got to the game around lunchtime and ate at our favorite ballpark cafe, one that allows you to sit at a table right on the far side of the field and watch the game.

I mentioned to the kids that I had a pretty cool scavenger hunt for them once we got comfy and ordered our food–I was thinking they’d want to start once we got back to our real seats, but as always, my boy was ready to roll.

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

He said, Hey Mom, this is cool. And he started checking off boxes left and right.

I said, Owen, the thing is, you have to actually see each thing before you check it off. You may not even see each one today–but we’re looking for it. And at the end, we’ll count each person’s checkmarks, and we’ll see who saw the most. 

Will we get anything if we win? Maddy wanted to know.

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

Maybe. I said. Maybe this is how you earn your ice-cream treat if it even gets warm enough to have one. 

Bam.

The Baseball Game Scavenger Hunt gets kids to read. For real. 

I wanted the scavenger hunt to be long and skinny so that it could easily fit on kids’ laps. And I wanted it to be easily folded and put into coat or jean pockets.

So that’s what I did.

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

 

I made it two columns with 45 items in each.

I wanted some things baseball-related and some things fan-related.

So kids are searching for 45 things including:

  • bat boy
  • announcer box
  • foul ball
  • crazy funny fan
  • crying baby
  • bunt
  • pop fly
  • Cracker Jacks
  • run down
  • and more!

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

 

It’s not for everyone. If you have a kiddo who loves the game and who is totally, 100% into watching each and every play, then let him or her watch. For goodness’ sake let that child watch and enjoy the game.

But if you have a child who needs a little bit of focus, who maybe isn’t so into the game, then the Baseball Game Scavenger Hunt is for you.

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

We had a lot of fun with it–Maddy couldn’t find a ‘homemade sign or poster’ so she made one on the back of her hunt sheet. (It’s hard to read, but it says ‘Nats WIN!’)

So funny. So, so funny.

And one of our kids had a bit of a breakdown when we first got to the field, so someone suggested that we call that the ‘crying baby’ and check it off the list.

Love it.

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

baseball game scavenger hunt _ teachmama.com

 

Here’s the Baseball Game Scavenger Hunt if you’d like to download it and use it for your crew: baseball game scavenger hunt _ teachmama.com

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

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

 

Think you’ll use it?

Let us know how it goes!

Want a few more fun ideas for learning and having fun on the go?

Check out:

Or follow our pinterest board full of fun ideas:

Follow amy mascott @teachmama’s board neat-o, fun, NEW things for us to try on Pinterest.

april fools’ tricks for last-minute prankster parents

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents teachmama

post contains affiliate links

 

 

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

 

Oh, friends.

How I love April Fools’ Day.

And how I love to drag my kids into the April foolery.

This year, I have been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to really sit down and plan like I have in the past–but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.

No way, Jose.

So I’ve got a few good April Fools’ tricks for the last-minute prankster parents in the group. Those people who like to trick their family but may not have remembered that April Fools’ Day was tomorrow until . . . well, just now.

Here’s the skinny. . .

April Fools’ Tricks for Last-Minute Prankster Parents:

I’ve got seven for you–seven pretty easy pranks that will be great for most families with kids who are a little bit older.

1. Brownies for Lunch

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

Last year I made a huge tray of these and brought them out to our neighbors–and they weren’t too happy.

This year, I thought I’d scale it down a bit–make small brown Es so that the kids could have them in their lunches at school. And break all of the cafeteria rules by sharing them at lunch.

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

I simply printed out two pages of our ‘brownies’, cut them apart, and wrapped them in foil. At lunch on April Fools’ Day, Maddy, Owen, and Cora will open up their ‘treat’ and have a big surprise!

Hopefully they’ll find it funny and will share them with their friends.

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

And because I’ll feel secretly guilty all day long, I’ll have real brownies as an after school snack. No fooling!

You can download our sheet of ‘brownies’ here: april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents | teachmama

april fools brownies

And if you choose to share–and we hope you do!–please link to this post instead of the attachment page. Thank you!

2. Basketball Hoop Plug

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

Every single day, Owen and our neighbors are outside shooting hoops.

So I thought I’d put a little wrench in their game today. We’ll see how it goes. . .

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

All I did was lower the hoop, stand on a chair, and use packing tape to secure plastic wrap to the rim.

Then I raised the hoop back to 10 feet.

Bam. Swoosh! Or not. . .

3. Banded Hairbrushes

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

Maddy and Cora always stand the same way when they’re brushing their hair: they stare at themselves in the mirror, grab their brush without looking, and tear through their knotty hair.

So this little trick will stop them in their tracks a little. Maybe.

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

I added rubber bands to their brushes. In and around the bristles of their brush. That’s it.

Heeheheheeeee.

4. Hidden Chargers

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

I’m not sure how your house is, but every day that the kids are permitted to use electronics, it’s a mad scramble for chargers. So I fixed that.

I took them all away.

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

Gathered as many as I could find, and I shoved them in a fancy, little bag.

And the really funny thing is that I’m going to keep the bag right on the table, just as it is, to see who actually notices and who then saves the day.

It’ll be a lesson in noticing what’s around. Kind of.

5. Removed Batteries

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

Even though Wednesdays are ‘unplugged’ days for us, another techy-trick I played is the ole battery removal trick.

Nothing fancy, friends.

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

Just a simple removal of the battery.

And no, my kids don’t all have phones. These are my husband and my older devices that the kids use as their ‘mobile game playing station’ of sorts.

I wonder who will be the first to catch on–on Thursday when they try to plug back in, that is!

6. Water Sports Drinks

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

We rarely have sports drinks around the house, but when we do, we often find ‘floaters’ around the house.

Gross. And. Frustrating.

Because they’re not cheap.

Half-finished drinks from who knows when just sitting around here and there like we’re a snack bar or something.

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

So as a trick, I refilled the bottles. Three of them.

With water and a drop of our bright neon food coloring.  Just a few drops in each, and then I shook them up really good.

And before school, I’ll say, Hey! I found these three last Gatorades in the fridge. Whose day is it? Pick a flavor–purple, blue, or red!

(Because when it comes down to it, aren’t sports drinks’ flavors colors and not real flavors? I mean really.

And they’ll probably pick on and think they will have a super awesome drink for lunch.

Bwwhahaaaaa.

7.  Switched Cereal

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

 

Ahhhhh, a simple one but a good one.

Switched the ole cereal bags inside the boxes. So when the kids try to pour the cereal, they’ll think they’re getting one thing but they’ll really get another.

So tricky am I. So tricky.

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

 

It’s worth noting that I do all of this trickery because my kids can take it. If they became upset or angry or inconsolable when I tricked them like this, of course I wouldn’t do it.

They’re used to my April Fools’ googly eyes. They know I usually do what I can to trick them or their father this time of the year.

So they’ll be ready.

I think. . .

 

Want some more ideas? Our many hilarious ideas include: 

More April Fools’ Day ideas: 

———————————————————————–

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

 

 

 

Follow our board on Pinterest for more April Fools’ day ideas: 

 

Follow amy mascott @teachmama’s board april fools’ & simple, silly tricks on Pinterest.

fyi: affilliate links used in this post

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

sponsored post

 

 

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. 

how to teach summary writing: the 1-hand summary

how to teach summary writing: the 1-hand summary

Summaries are difficult.

Writing summaries, oral summaries–it doesn’t matter.

Both? Difficult.

No matter the student’s age, the act of reading something–anything–and either retelling or summarizing is really, truly tough.

how to teach summary writing: the 1-hand summary

Summarizing is a skill that must be explicitly taught. And it’s a skill that must be modeled.

And it’s a skill that is worth revisiting time and time again, year after year.

This year, Maddy’s been challenged with the weekly task of reading her choice of a news article and summarizing it. I love the assignment. Personally, any repeated effort to improve a student’s reading and writing skills is a win in my book.

However, her summaries were rough at first. Really rough.

So I dusted off my teaching resources, updated a few things, and handed her this: the 1-hand summary.

Here’s the skinny. . .

How to Teach Summary Writing–The 1-Hand Summary:

My goal with this was to have it work for anything Maddy chose–a news article, a magazine article, anything. And for the most part, it works.

I started with the very article that Maddy chose for her homework–a piece from The Washington Post about Jennifer Yu, a local chess champion.

Maddy knew she needed some support with her summary writing assignment; she had written summaries for about four weeks, and each time, we worked together on multiple edits.

 

how to teach summary writing: the 1-hand summary | teachmama.com

 

how to teach summary writing: the 1-hand summary | teachmama.com

Her summaries were not summaries.

She was including her opinion.

She was missing major details.

She was adding too much detail.

She was not including the ‘stuff’ of summaries.

So I handed her the 1-Hand Summary Sheet.

We looked at the hand and talked about the components of a strong summary:

  • title and author
  • strong topic sentence
  • facts and no opinions
  • conciseness–say everything you need to say in as few words as possible
  • 5 W’s and H are covered (who? what? why? where? when? and how?)

We read the article together.

And then I showed her the sample summary.

how to teach summary writing: the 1-hand summary | teachmama.com

how to teach summary writing: the 1-hand summary | teachmama.com

Kids must see models. They must. There’s no way kids automatically know what a good summary looks like or sounds like.

So reading the one I created helps. We talked about why it works.

We talked about some strategies to use while reading to save time later: highlighting or circling important details or putting a star or a checkmark in the margins. You can even write in the margins if it’s a newspaper article.

We talked about how this summary includes the infamous 5 W’s and H (who? what? why? where? when? and how?) but incorporates them in an easy to understand paragraph.

how to teach summary writing: the 1-hand summary | teachmama.com

We talked about why the topic sentence is so important.

We talked about how you can grab words and phrases from the title of the article to make your writing easier.

The 1-Hand Summary helps.

I love the format of this 1-hand summary.  Yes, it covers the typical: Someone. . . wanted. .  .but then. .  .finally.

But for a more advanced writer, it includes a topic sentence where students can incorporate the title and author of the piece. I think that’s important. And it will prepare kids for higher level writing down the road.

how to teach summary writing: the 1-hand summary | teachmama.com

The 1-Hand Summary is here to download if you’d like: one hand summary writing _ teachmama.com

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

In order to succeed in school and in life, strong readers need to be able to summarize what they’ve read.

Summarizing is a foundational skill of the Common Core State Standards.  It’s a building block and a necessary component of any comprehensive reading program, and summarizing is an element of every grade, every year:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.2
Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

But even before the CCSS’s were around, we all know that summarizing is a skill necessary for success just about anywhere.

 

Want a few more resources for summary writing?

 

 

A few more resources on summary writing:

 

fyi: Huge thanks to the following resources for information here: http://www.corestandards.org/ | Literacy Implementation Guidance for the ELA CCSS | The Washington Post article by Tom Jackman

how to have a family meeting: what works for us

how to have a family meeting: what works for us

how to have a family meeting: what works for us

 

Oh, friends.

How things change as our kids get older, right?

After years of doing what we can to give our kids choices, listening to them, doing all we can but ultimately having the final say–our kids have expressed to us that they want more of a voice in our family.

I get it.

So we’ve been having Family Meetings.

We have only recently begun to have regular Family Meetings, and though they are not perfect, I do think they help.’

We’re still learning. Aren’t we all?

Here’s the skinny. . .

How to Have a Family Meeting–What Works for Us: 

It’s been simple.

I created a pretty basic Family Meeting Sheet.

And any time anyone wants to call a Family Meeting, he or she may do so.

The first time we held one, I clipped the Family Meeting sheet onto a clip board, and I set it on the table.

And as the kids came and went through the day, they filled it out.

By the time the meeting rolled around, everyone was ready–and curious.

how to have a family meeting: what works for us

how to have a family meeting: what works for us

We said,

Okay, guys. So you’ve asked for more say in our family, so here we are. We’re here to work out the kinks and hopefully make things move more smoothly around here.

There are a few ground rules: 

  • Everyone listens.
  • Everyone speaks.
  • Everyone acts respectfully, no matter what.

In Lord of the Flies style, anyone who spoke held an object–I think ours was a stuffed Mario or Yoshi. That way, there was no interrupting and only listening.

And really? From that point on, we talked through the agenda–what my husband and I planned and what the kids added–and we worked out the kinks.

 

family meeting notice blank

family meeting notice blank | teachmama.com

Here’s a BLANK Family Meeting sheet if you’d like to download it as a pdf and use it as your own: family meeting notice blank | teachmama.com

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

 

family meeting notice 2

family meeting notice OURS | teachmama.com

Here’s our Family Meeting sheet if you’d like to download it as a pdf and use it as your own: family meeting notice OURS | teachmama.com

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

how to have a family meeting  teachmama.com

 

What does your family do? Do you hold regular Family Meetings? I’d love to hear it!

What has worked? What hasn’t?

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

don’t send your child to Kindergarten until you take this Home Study!

get kids ready for kindergarten

Friends!

I have been so, so busy lately, working hard on our teachmama.com redesign– woo-hooooo! and working on some other really fun and exciting things for you.

 

what every parent must know before sending kids to kindergarten  stop sign teachmama.com

This week, I launched the first of a series of teach mama Home Studies: short, information-packed, interactive courses designed to change your life.

Perhaps you think ‘changing your life’ is a little lofty–but it’s true.  It really can change your life–and your child’s. 

Here’s the thing: in the last 10 years, I have spoken at dozens of local and national events, sharing information about teaching, learning, and community building.  One workshop I’ve done dozens of times is about how parents can prepare their children for Kindergarten. 

Time and time again, the feedback is the same.

Check it out to learn more, but know that spots are filling quickly: teach mama Home Study Kindergarten prep.

3 reading posts you don’t want to miss

family reading time  scholastic  pinterest

Friends!

Have you even checked out the ole teachmama site lately?

We are all fancied up! Big changes for us–after more than 6 years!

Go see it–for real: teachmama.com.

But don’t get too excited yet. I’m still working out the kinks over here and plan the BIG reveal at the end of the week.

Until then, I want you to check out a few things I’ve been sharing over at Scholastic Parents’ Raise a Reader blog.  Click the photo to read the post!

Change your family’s life in 20 minutes each week:  

family reading time  scholastic  pinterest

The “Family 20″ will change your family’s reading life.

 

 

7 ways to find books your kids will really love: 

find books your kids will love  scholastic  teachmama pinterest

Giving kids books is one thing. Giving kids GREAT books is another.

 

Favorite books of my favorite babies: 

fave babies' fave books  pinterest  scholastic teachmama

Sometimes, the most random books make your kids’ favorite list.

And that’s it for now.  Definitely check out the other posts that Allie and I have written for the awesome Raise a Reader blog. We write there every, single week, so there is a ton of fab facts, ideas, and more for you to check out!

Do you have questions about reading or learning? Hit me with your questions–I’d love to hear them and help you out!

And? This week.

I. Cannot. Wait. to share what else we’ve got up our sleeves.

Iabsolutelycannotwait.

Stay tuned!

live focused: finding clarity in thoughts and actions

live focused: finding clarity in thoughts and actions | teachmama.com

live focused: finding clarity in thoughts and actions | teachmama.com

 

Oh friends. .  .February and March are always so glum for me.

What about you? Do you find that you fall into the winter doldrums this time of the year? If so, let’s power through it together.

Together.

This year, we’ve already done a whole lot of organizing.  YAY!

We’ve rekindled friendships and make relationships a priority. Woo-hooo!

Now is a great time to do some serious thinking and reflecting.

We’re going to figure some stuff out.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Live Focused–Finding Clarity in Thoughts and Actions: 

So often, our thoughts and actions are not aligned–we think one thing but say another.

live focused: finding clarity in thoughts and actions

We say one thing but do another.

And I truly believe that this is not always intentional. Rather, we’re so busy that we don’t give ourselves enough time to really think things through.

This month, let’s figure it out.

Let’s think about how we really feel and move forward from there, okay?

First, download the March #livefocused printable.

 

find clarity in thoughts and actions | teachmama.com #livefocused

 

You can find it here: live focused printable march – teachmama.com

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

Then find a quiet place to think. 

Pour yourself a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.  And fill out the sheet.

Essentially, think about: 

What part of your household systems are working?

What needs to change?

How can you improve? 

clarity  livefocused  teachmama.comConsider the following areas: 

  • behavior — the kids’ behavior; your behavior; your spouse’s behavior; what is tolerated and not tolerated; behavior management systems
  • screen time — how much each day; monitoring; safety; sharing; care of devices
  • chores — what chores are done and by whom; rotation of chores; jobs around the house; family responsibilities
  • homework — where homework is completed; who helps with homework; rules and expectations about homework
  • activities — children activities; family activities; costs of activities; practices; child and adult responsibilities
  • communication — communication among family members, friends, and school; what is acceptable and not
  • other — think: religion, relationships; finances; health; jobs; etc.

Fill out the sheet.  And then get ready to make some changes.

This month I’ll share the resources I know of that may help in these areas; if you have others that work, I’d love for you to share them with us!

 

live focused in 2015 friendship teachmama.com sq

Are you in? Let me know, friends. I need to know I’m not walking alone on this journey!

  • share any of the photos here on your facebook page
  • share any of the photos here on your twitter or instagram page
  • share any of the photos here on your google + page or blog!

Tweet this:

  • tweet this: I am ready for some CLARITY this month! Join @teachmama and me: #livefocused bit.ly/TMclarity
  • tweet this: I am psyched to join @teachmama in her #livefocused 2015 adventure! Join me: http://ctt.ec/warK2+
  • tweet this: Do YOU want to live a more focused, intentional life this year? Join the #livefocused crew: http://ctt.ec/ad7NC+ @teachmama
  • tweet this: Make this year COUNT. Get focused. Live intentionally. http://ctt.ec/aq9Vy+ #livefocused @teachmama

Check it all out video-style:

 And? If you don’t already subscribe to teachmama.com’s YouTube channel, you totally want to!

live focused 2015 teachmama.com b w collage

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click below for #livefocused archives:

ive focused in 2015 organization teachmama.com sq

live focused in 2015 friendship teachmama.com sq

how to play bunco with FAMILIES

how to play bunco with FAMILIES | teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

how to play bunco with FAMILIES | teachmama.com

On an off for years now, we’ve played Bunco with our family.

At family gatherings, after the little ones had gone to bed, the adults rocked out a little Bunco fun.

Complete with crazy prizes a la our fun Bingo bonanza, the adults laughed and rolled dice and played Bunco late into the night.

Now that Maddy, Owen, and Cora are older, though, we’ve introduced them to the fun of Bunco.

Bunco is a simple dice-rolling game that leaves little to skill and all to chance. It’s fun–and easy enough for families with mixed-age kids to play.  There’s counting and adding and a whole lot of mathy-math in the mix.

Any sneaky learning is a win in our book.

Here’s the skinny. . .

How to Play Bunco With FAMILIES:

To play Bunco, you need a few simple things. Nothing will break the bank, and the biggest thing you need is a good number of people–twelve players will make it really fun.  So grab another family or two, and you’re probably good.

To play Bunco, you need:

how to play bunco  teachmama.com

Grab our score sheets and table cards here, and make sure that you print enough!

You’ll need the Family Score Cards which are printed two per sheet.

how to play family bunco | teachmama.com

 You can download the Family Bunco Score Sheets here: bunco printables _ family _ teachmama.com

And if you choose to share–which we hope you do!–please link to this post and not the attachment page! Thank you!

 

And you’ll need Table Cards.

You may only need three or four tables, and our printables have you covered through six tables.

how to play family bunco | teachmama.com

 

You can download the Table Cards here: bunco table cards _ family teachmama.com

And if you choose to share–which we hope you do!–please link to this post and not the attachment page! Thank you!

how to play bunco with FAMILIES | teachmama.com

how to play bunco with FAMILIES | teachmama.com

how to play bunco with FAMILIES | teachmama.com

 

Remember: 

The best way to teach kids to play Bunco is by showing them–it gets too confusing when you try to go through the rules.

So take a minute and show them a sample table, how each person rolls and adds and scores, and then you’ll be good to go!

To play Bunco:

  1. 12 players break into 3 tables of 4 players each.
  2. Tables are numbered; table 1 is the ‘head table’; table 2 is middle; table 3 is last.
  3. Players sit across from their ‘temporary team’ member at each table.
  4. One player at head table rings bell to signal start of game.
  5. Players at each table take turns rolling 3 dice, trying to roll the same number as the round     (ex:  roll 1’s during the 1st round = points earned; 2’s during 2nd round, etc.).
  6. Players keep rolling until they score no points, after which time they hand the dice to the next player.  A table scorekeeper tallies points for both teams.
  7. When the head table earns 21 points, the bell is rung, and the round is over.
  8. Points are added.  Each table will have a winning team and a losing team. Players write their score on their personal score sheet and indicate win (W) or loss (L).
  9. Players either stay or move tables depending on whether they won or lost the round. Instructions are on the table cards.  ‘Temporary team’ members MUST switch after each game.

BUNCO = 3 of the same number rolled matches round number (ex: three 2’s during 2nd round = BUNCO!  →  BUNCO = 21 points

Baby Bunco = 3 of same number rolled does not match round number (ex: three 2’s during the 4th round) = Baby Bunco  →  Baby Bunco = 5 points

 

 

You can download our Bunco Rules Sheet here:

how to play bunco | teachmama.com

You can download the Bunco Rules Sheet here: bunco RULES _ family teachmama.com

And if you choose to share–which we hope you do!–please link to this post and not the attachment page! Thank you!

how to play bunco with FAMILIES | teachmama.com

how to play bunco with FAMILIES | teachmama.com

Remember, that the fun part about Bunco is the prizing!

Everyone pays $5 to play! And then, after all of the games are played, count the pot.  Sometimes when we play with families, we only throw in $1 or $2 per person. Kids don’t care–the more singles they win, the better!

  • 50% of total pot goes to the player with the most buncos
  • 30% of total pot goes to the player with the high score
  • 20% of total pot goes to the player with the most wins
  • $5 goes to the player with the  lowest score
  • $5 goes to the player with the most losses

Make this as simple as possible! It doesn’t have to be perfect–just divide the money, give to the winners, and the kids will be happy!

how to play bunco with FAMILIES | teachmama.com

how to play bunco with FAMILIES | teachmama.com

how to play bunco with FAMILIES | teachmama.com

But you cannot forget about the Bunco snacks!

Check out how we do snacks for our  games:

best bunco game night snack ideas | teachmama.com

 

 

The great thing about Bunco is that it’s crazy easy and that you need very little brain power to make it work. 

It’s just enough counting and chance to make it fun for players of all ages. And the simple adding of numbers makes it a cool way of sneaking a little math into the mix.

Some helpful hints for playing with families: 

  • Make sure there’s an adult at each table to help move the game along;
  • Have an adult keep score at each table;
  • Make rolling a Bunco super fun–whomever rolls one must wear a silly hat or necklace or hold a funny toy;
  • Everyone cheers for the winners as they move tables;
  • Go easy on snacks–maybe keep something healthy at the tables and keep the sweets in the kitchen!
  • Have fun!

 

And if you’re looking for a fun Girls’ Night Out, here’s everything you need:

 

how to play bunco everything you need teachmama.com.png

 

 

 

 

This post is part of our #livefocused in 2015 series; February is our month to focus on friendship. It’s been a blast.

Find out more here:

live focused in 2015: give yourself a fresh start and live with intention

 

ive focused in 2015 organization teachmama.com sq

 

live focused in 2015 friendship teachmama.com sq

 

 

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