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

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

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

 

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

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

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

It was a blast.

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

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

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

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

Here’s the skinny. . .

Belgian Mussels With Kids–A Cultural Adventure at Home:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

They were psyched. Psyched.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

The mussels were a complete success!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

MWorld Educational App:

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

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

mworld app

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

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

 

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

mworld app collage | teachmama.com

 

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

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

It’s a must-see.

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

Here’s how:

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

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

Trip of a Lifetime: 

mworld trip of a lifetime | teachmama.com

Free codes for 100 teachmama.com readers? Really.

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

valentine’s day class party ideas: cool activities to get kids moving and creating

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

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valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

Let’s face it: classroom parties are difficult to throw.

Scratch that.  Class parties easy to throw but difficult to throw well.

And what I’ve found over time–and by being a classroom parent for five years–is that certain things work and certain things don’t.

Having three kids in elementary school has helped me tremendously to be a better planner, organizer, and facilitator of THE class party.

So this Valentine’s Day, I’m mixing things up a bit.

We’ve got some really cool activities to get kids moving and creating, and I’m confident it will be awesome.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Valentine’s Day Class Party Ideas–Cool Activities to Get Kids Moving and Creating: 

Definitely check out Valentine’s Day Class Parties, 2.0 so you can grab a copy of the parent letter.  You need that because you need help and support of other parents if you want to make this party rock!

After connecting with the classroom teacher about times, activities, and details, I came up with the following plan for this year’s party:

Class Party Plan: Every party needs a plan.

valentine's day class party ideas: cool activities to get kids moving and creating

You want the parents to know what’s going on, and you want the teacher to know what’s going on.

And it’s never perfect; sometimes you’re ahead and sometimes you’re behind, but you need a guide. You need a game plan.

This year’s Class Party Plan is here to download if you’d like to use it: valentine party plan 2015

(And as with all of the printables on this site, if you do choose to share it–and we hope you do!–please link to this post instead of the attachment page. Thank you!)

3 15-minute stations:

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com bags

You always need a quick and easy way to divide the class into smaller groups. I like using heart foamies or stickers that the kids put right on their shirts or hands. Use any of the stickers mentioned here–the
Melissa and Doug Sweets & Treats Stickers Pad
have so many you can try.  Maybe have a cherry group, a candy group, and a gum ball group. Or a flower candy, kiss candy, and gumdrop candy group.

Just remember to cut out the stickers before the party, put them in a hat or small bag and have the students pick one at the beginning of the party. Voila! Your groups are created!

 

1. Decorate Valentine Mail Bags: 

valentine's day class party ideas: cool activities to get kids moving and creating

This is the first time that we’ve ever added this into the party mix, so it was really fun for me to hunt down something that would work for our class.

The key here is to be quick, but fun and engaging.

I love what we came up with, and you can find all of the details here: Valentine Mail Bags.

 

2. Art Station: 

I wanted activities that would be cool for the kids but that they could take home, stress free immediately after the party. So that eliminates any gluey projects.

Thankfully, my friends at Melissa & Doug have a few fabulous options for us.

  • Sand Art

valentine's day class party ideas: sand art | teachmama.com

Really. Sand Art at a class party is doable. It’s quick. It’s way cool. And you can make it relatively mess-free.

The Melissa and Doug Sand Art Bottles Craft Kit come three to a pack, but they’re affordable. It makes so much more sense to use your class donations for something like this rather than those teeny, junky prizes kids will throw away when they get home.

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

So to do the Sand Art, you’ll definitely need to save your take-out containers–the lids will work perfectly as little bases for the plastic containers.

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

Bring a roll of duct tape and make a big tape roll so that the container stays still on the plastic lid. That way, when kids are pouring sand in, they won’t wiggle and wobble.

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

——————————————

  • Scratch Art

We’ve used Scratch Art before for both our Valentine parties and Valentine cards. Kids really like them.

We will use Scratch Art Stickers, Scratch Art Keychains, and Scratch Art Fashion this year. I think kids will dig the choices.

valentine's day class party ideas scratch art  teachmama.comScratch Art Stickers come two sheets per pack, so I plan to tear them in half and then in half again for four sheets per pack. We used
Melissa and Doug Scratch Art® Animal Friends Stickers
.

Scratch Art Keychains come six per party pack, and I had several packs left over from a birthday party a while back, so I thought I’d add them to the Scratch Art table.  Love these:  Melissa and Doug Scratch Art® Party Pack – Key Chains.

Scratch Art Fashion (Melissa and Doug Scratch Art® Party Pack – Fashion) come twelve per pack, and we used these way back when Maddy turned 9 (her Golden Birthday!), so I added a few packs of these to the mix.

I am not forcing all kids to do all art here; rather, I figured that since the projects are super quick, that they could do two in the 15 minute rotation. Or if they finish quickly and want to do three, that’s fine, too. Or if they’re meticulous and only finish Sand Art, great. That’s their take-away.

——————————————

3. Action Games:

Kids need to move. Big time. Great parties have a mix of movement and craft, so here’s our ‘get up and move’ portion.  I think since we have 15 minutes for this, we’ll walk through each activity together, one by one.

Best bet for these? Go out in the hallway so you have the most room.

  • Frisbee Race

valentine's day class party ideas frisbee  teachmama.com

Be the team to have the most hearts on the Flying Disk by the end of the game!  The little Melissa and Doug Tootle Turtle Flying Disk are adorable and perfect for this game, and all you need are a bunch of small  tissue paper and construction paper hearts on top.

valentines day class party 2015 | teachmama.com

valentines day class party 2015 | teachmama.com

1. Divide the small group in half.  Put students in two lines at one end of the hallway.

2. Tape two hearts on the floor at the opposite end of the hall, one for each team.

3. Give the first person one flying disc with about 20 hearts on top of it.

4. That person moves as quickly to the end of the hallway, touches the heart on the floor, and walks back to his or her team.  Depending on the age of the kids, make this one-handed or two-handed.

5. As carefully as possible, the student hands the disc to the next person, and the next person does the same thing.

6. The winning team has the most hearts at the end of the race!

——————————————-

  • Love Bugs Cleanup

valentine's day class party ideas: love bugs | teachmama.com

Be the team to move the most love bugs from the big pile to the small container!  All you need are shovels (I like the
Melissa and Doug Clicker Crab Shovel
), small plastic container (we used takeout containers) and a bunch of plastic bugs. We used
Melissa and Doug Bag of Bugs
.

valentines day class party 2015 | teachmama.com

valentines day class party 2015 | teachmama.com

valentines day class party 2015 | teachmama.com

1. Students are divided into two teams, just like before.

2. Dump all of the love bugs in a pile at the other end of the hallway.

3. The first person in each line takes the plastic shovel, runs to the love bug pile, and tries to scoop up as many love bugs as possible.

4. He or she then transfers those bugs to the small plastic container at the opposite end of the hallway.

5. The team that transfers the most love bugs at the end wins!

 ———————————————–

  • Heart Target

This is super-simple and the only thing that makes it Valentines-y is the fact that there are hearts around the cute little target. Whatever.  It’s hand-eye coordination. It’s numbers. It’s sneaky math, friends! It’s a win.

For this game, you need a target. We used the Melissa and Doug Tootle Turtle Target Game.

1. Two teams stand about 5 feet away from the target.

2. At the same time (we need to up the fun factor here, folks), players toss a beanbag at the target.  They get two beanbags to throw.

3. The parent facilitator writes down the score on the score sheet: heart target score sheet

4. The team with the highest score at the end wins!

valentines class party ideas | teachmamacom

heart target score sheet

Make it fun by having the score posted on the wall and encourage the kids to keep score as you go.

Please note: Class parties should be fun, easy, and low-stress for all kids. If you have sensitive kids in the class or think that keeping score may be stressful, don’t do it! Maybe instead give one point for every beanbag that hits the target.

Keep it light!

 ——————————————

Valentine Delivery:

Everyone’s favorite part of the party, right? Move kids back to their seats.

Snack and Valentine Delivery will happen simultaneously, because the kids can’t possibly all deliver their Valentines and the same exact moment.

valentines day class party 2015 | teachmama.com

So have kids sit down, and have parents pass out the plates of food.

Then call each group up at a time to get their Valentines and deliver them to their classmates.  While one group is delivering, two groups are eating.

Try to keep it level.

Snack

Our school only allows store-bought treats at this point because they’re trying to keep all allergies under control. I get it. It makes it so much easier and so much safer for those families for whom allergies are an every day fear.

For Valentine’s Day class parties, I’ll have:

  • small water bottles
  • Valentine cupcakes from the store
  • Individually wrapped goldfish snacks or pretzel snacks
  • individually wrapped fruit–apples or small fruit cups

That’s it. Call me crazy, but I don’t think kids need a mad sugar overload here. A little sweet treat and a little healthy treat, and we’re done. Bam.

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com bags

Extra time?

It’s doubtful that if you follow this schedule you’ll have extra time, but if you do, an oldie but goodie: Freeze Dance!  Turn on the music, and let kids jam it out while it plays.

When the music stops, everybody freezes.

Easy and fun.

Plus, the kids love to show off their moves.

And if kids don’t want to play, no biggie! Let them open up their Valentines!

 ———————————————-

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

valentine's day party ideas

I love sharing what we do at our class parties so that it’s easier for other parents to throw their own class parties.

This shouldn’t be difficult. It’s been done for years and years now, so there are a boatload of ideas out there.
What are your favorite Valentine ideas for kids? I’d love to hear ‘em!

Here are a few of ours:

 

I wr2015-BlogAmbassador-Iconote this post as part of the Melissa & Doug Blog Ambassador program.   I’ve worked with Melissa & Doug for years and years now, and am always raving about their products for fun and learning. Read theMelissa & Doug blog to get the skinny! 

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

live focused: let’s talk about friendship

live focused: let's talk about friendship

I have been incredibly moved and overwhelmed at the response to our #livefocused challenge.

Seriously.

I have received dozens of private messages, emails, and tweets about the fact that this is what so many readers need and want.

Sure, everyone digs the activities that they can do with their kids and how to turn everyday events into learning opportunities, but the whole living focused thing? They need that, too.

live focused in 2015 friendship teachmama.com sq

Not only do they need it, they want it.

So we rocked some serious organization in January–our home, our play spaces, our weeks, our time with kids, our photos, our finances, and more.

This month? We’re talking friendship.

Join us.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Live Focused–Let’s Talk About Friendship: 

I am really, really bad at this, so I’m excited about the focus on friendship for February. I don’t know about you, but I’m more of a friend of convenience than anything. It’s awful.

Growing up, I spent all of my free time with three friends from the ‘hood.

Come grade school, I had a tight group of friends with whom I did everything.

When in high school, my world was my high school bffs, many of whom were my pals from grade school.

In college, I rarely left the sides of my housemates and sorority sisters.

After college, I hung with my colleagues and my (then) boyfriend (now husband).

When my kids were babies, I spent free time with MOMS Club friends.

Now that my kids are in elementary school, I tend to spend time with my kids’ friends’ parents.

I’m not a card person. I’m not a big birthday person. Occasionally if someone is on my mind, I’ll send a totally random, out-of-the-blue card to say ‘hello’, but that’s rare, so don’t be impressed.

live focused 2015 teachmama.com FEB collage

 

All this is fine and natural, right, except that I rarely backtrack. I rarely carve out time to stay in touch with those people with whom I spent hours upon hours upon hours and huge chunks of my life.

People whom I truly love and admire–and miss–but whom I do not connect with on a regular basis.

Often I’m not even sure I am connecting with my husband or my own children like I should; instead I’m busy running, running, running and not really appreciating the amazing spouse that he is or the crazy-cool kids that they are.

 

 

So this month, though I’m not expecting to miraculously reconnect with all people from all parts of my life, I am going to make an effort to make meaningful connections with friends: old friends, my husband, my kids, and my current friends.

We’re doing our best to live focused this year, so our goal is to live intentionally and deliberately–using time wisely so that we can live life to the fullest.

Spending time with friends and loved ones is one piece of the puzzle.

It’s amazing how energizing and refreshing it is to actually spend time with friends–and I’m not talking about facebook messaging or google chatting.

I mean honest to goodness, catch up over the phone or in person.

live focused in 2015 friendship teachmama.com

live focused printable february teachmama.com

Because we’re not trying to move mountains here, just trying to make small changes that make a big difference, we set four friendship goals this month:

  1. Contact an old friend.
  2. Plan an at-home date with your spouse.
  3. Hang out with your kids, doing something special.
  4. Go out with some friends.

Grab February’s printable here: live focused printable february teachmama.com

If you choose to share this printable, and we hope you do!, please link to this post instead of the document. Thank you!

You can do what you want, when you are able. But I figured that since there are four weeks in the month, shoot for one each week.

And since this is the month of love, we’ll all be eager to spend some quality time with loved ones.

I’m ready. Are you? Which will you start first?

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:

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

 _____________________________________

 _____________________________________

click below for #livefocused archives:

ive focused in 2015 organization teachmama.com sq

be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering

be nicer than necessary notes teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering | teachmama.com

We’re in a mad winter funk over here.

A serious winter funk.

Lots of snow days and delays grey skies and dreary days and indoor recess at school means that there’s been a lot of grumpy, grouchy kids at our house.

And parents.

No matter what we do to mix things up, it seems like we’ve all been doing more arguing and bickering than I care to admit.  And it’s not just the kids–sure, of course, it’s the kids.  But it’s also my husband and me. The dog. The birds and fish.

We’re all a little cranky.

And I’m chalking it up to the winter blues.

So instead of allowing it to totally take over our lives this month, this month of luuuurve and friendship, we decided to focus on being nicer.

Our #livefocused challenge has us focusing on friendship over here, and because being nice is a really big part of friendship, we’re trying to be nicer than necessary this month.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Be Nicer Than Necessary Notes–Lunchbox Love to Help Us Stop Bickering:

Right.

be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering | teachmama.com

Because  Maddy, Owen, and Cora all really dug our True Holiday Spirit Notes during Advent this year, I fashioned the Be Nicer than Necessary Notes after them.  The kids liked how these notes were simple and small.

Today, at breakfast, when I introduced the idea to them, I said,

You guys. This past month has been a little crazy over here. There’s been a whole lot more arguing, bickering, and yelling than I care to admit. And it’s not just you.

Daddy and I have been arguing. Brady has been cranky. The birds and fish have been nasty.

We have all been super-cranky, and something has to change.

 

be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering | teachmama.com

 

be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering | teachmama.com

 

 

We talked about how hard the winter is and how much more time we spend stuck indoors and how hard that can be, but they agreed: something has to change, or we’re all going to go insane.

I said, We’re going to do what Maddy and I read about in the book, Wonder–we’re going to channel our inner Summer (a character from the book) and focus on being nicer than necessary. 

Owen said, Oh Mom, that’s not at all catchy: ‘Nicer than necessary notes’? Can’t you think of something better? 

I explained that the name isn’t as important as what we’d be doing but if he wanted to think of a newer, better, and more catchy name that he totally could.

be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering | teachmama.com

be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering | teachmama.com

 

I said that each day, I’ll share a note in their lunchbox and that we’ll talk about what we did–or didn’t do–that night at dinner.

No pressure. Just a quick little reminder each day to be nicer than necessary. To be kinder than expected. To give a little more and to bring a little more sunshine into other people’s days.

Do you want the Be Nicer than Necessary Notes to download and throw in your kids’ lunches this month?

Here they are: nicer than necessary lunchbox notes teachmama.com

be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering | teachmama.com nicer than necessary lunchbox notes teachmama.com

 

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

Really, what I do is print out three sheets of notes (one for each child), and then I cut them as one page then clip them together.

That way, Maddy, Owen, and Cora will each get the same note every single day.

And is it a big deal that there are 25 notes here and 28 days in February? Nope. I figured that between snow days and weekends, we’d do fine with 25 reminders to be nicer than necessary. It’s all good.

It’s not about perfection. It’s about trying to live more intentionally, to be more focused in our every day, to smile more and worry less. Right?  Right.

And that’s it–just one little way we’re trying to move from being the Cranky McCrankerson family to a family that’s oozing with kindness. Or something like that.

 

Would it work for your family? How do you get your kids, spouse, and self out of the winter rut?
live focused in 2015 friendship teachmama.com sq

 

I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off this month, when our #livefocused theme is friendship, than by sharing this information with you, your kids, students, and families.

I’m really looking forward to what lies ahead!

 

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

 

 

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

naptime with theo & beau: pre-order special families will LOVE

naptime with theo & beau: pre-order special families will LOVE

post contains affiliate links

 

 

naptime with theo & beau: pre-order special families will LOVE

 

Friends.

If you haven’t seen the amazing photos of Theo and Beau, taken by my sweet and talented friend, Jessica, you do not know what you’re missing.

My heart literally explodes every time I see them.

It’s the ultimate celebration of love and friendship–and the perfect way to kick off February’s friendship theme for our live focused in 2015 challenge.

This month, finally–finally!–the book will soon be hitting the shelves.

And I’ve got an awesome pre-order special that families will love.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Naptime With Theo & Beau–Pre-Order Special Families Will LOVE:

I’ve known Jessica for years now, but we really connected doing our work as part of Target’s Inner Circle. Jessica is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside, and her photography has always been my fave.

naptime with theo & beau: pre-order special families will LOVE

 

I love how Jessica captures spontaneous bursts of beauty in the everyday.  Simple images of her children eating, sitting, or sleeping convey as much energy and love as her little ones splashing, spinning, or dancing.  

Add a little bit of fuzzy love to the mix, and it’s all you need to brighten even the darkest day.

In the last year or so, Jessica’s images of her son, Beau, and her newly adopted puppy, Theo, have gone viral. Like crazy-crazy viral. Theo and Beau were everywhere. And rightly so. They were awesome. They are awesome.

The super happy news: book deal. Theo and Beau’s sweet faces have been put into a book that will hit shelves this month. Tons of new photos that my family and I can hardly wait to see.

theo and beau

from Jessica’s Instagram feed: Theo has been busy!

So bonus for you, friends. if you pre-order this book, you get a little gift: a sweet little gift that I think you’ll love.

Pre-order Theo & Beau and receive a bookplate signed by Jessica and a special message from Theo & Beau!  For real.

All you have to do is:

So fun.

Do you even know how excited my family is about this book?

We’ve been following Theo and Beau since their very first nap, and our book was been ordered last spring!

theo and beau preorder

 

Think: Valentine’s Day. This is a great gift for your kids, your friends, or your loved ones.  

I cannot wait to see these new shots of Theo and Beau.  Countdown’s ON!

 

 

 

I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off this month, when our #livefocused theme is friendship, than by sharing this information with you.

I’m really looking forward to what lies ahead!

 

live focused in 2015 friendship teachmama.com sq

 

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

how to schedule power kid time into your every day

how to schedule power kid time into your every day | a weekly organizer designed to make kid time a focus

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

I am not kidding with this.

You guys, the days may seem slow, but once your kids hit elementary school, life totally moves into fifth gear.

Completely. Like seriously life starts to flash by.

schedule power kid time  teachmama.com

I’ll never forget what a gal from my Moms Club said to me, when I ran into her at the grocery store one day, (she was kid-free, and I was juggling three kids under five). She said, Amy, you won’t believe this now, but it’s true: the days are slow but the years are fast. 

At the time, I remember thinking, Suuuuuure, lady. You enjoy your peace and quiet and coupon-shopping while I try to keep these kids occupied long enough for me to grab what I need for this week’s meals on top of two monster boxes of diapers and a human-sized bag o’ dog food. Awesome. Sure long days and short years. Mmmmmkay.

You know what, though? She was right. So right.

And though she didn’t pen that infamous parenting quote, it has stuck with me like glue.

I so know how so many of you feel right now–you’re so tired. You’re barely hanging on some days. You love your kids more than you ever thought possible, but you’re really filling your days with things to keep you all busy, hoping that the activities stretch you from nap time to playgroup to mealtime or tv time. Then your spouse comes home, you slap five, and you go do your work–tutoring, teaching, selling, cleaning, whatever–and he takes over.

how to schedule power kid time into your every day | teachmama.com

how to schedule power kid time into your every day | teachmama.com

 

Or something like that.

I get it. I was there. And I still am there in so many ways.

Though my babies are all in school now, I struggle to find carve out power time with them each day.  Time that counts, whether it’s because it’s quality snuggle time, time to just listen, or time to help them develop a solid foundation for learning.

This month, because we’re kicking off our #livefocused year, I thought I’d share something that could help during those crazy times–something that can actually help you no matter where you are with child raising to schedule power kid time into your every day.

No, it’s not a nanny, and it’s not a babysitter, housecleaner, or cook. So sorry.

It’s something that really may give your days, your weeks, and your months more focus.

It’s a super-simple sheet that really does nothing more than give you the place to schedule a little power time with your kids into your every day.

Power time with each of your children.  Whatever ‘power time’ may look like to you.

 

how to schedule power kid time into your every day

Sure, we’re with our kids a million hours each week. We’re with them every single day, for hours. And it’s awesome.

But are we really with them–listening to them, learning from them, supporting them in the best way we are able?

Because if we don’t spend power time with them now, before we know it, our kids may not want to even entertain the idea of spending time with us at all.

Here’s the skinny. . .

How to Schedule Power Kid Time into Your Every Day:

Believe me when I tell you that I never used anything like this when Maddy, Owen, and Cora were little.

But I truly believe that had I used it, it would have helped keep me a little more sane, allowed me to let a little bit go if I could have had it on paper each week.

Instead, I kept all of my power time plans in my head: Okay, Maddy needs some help with her d’s and b’s, so let me do a little of that with her this week; Owen’s grip is totally crazy, so I’m going to do some fine motor activities with him; and Cora is still calling every color ‘pink’ so we need to do a little work so the gal learns those colors

Right.

And along the way, let me do the grocery shopping, laundry, and cleaning.  Dog walking, clothes shopping, and meal preparing. And I’ll schedule a few playdates, make sure the kids are getting to doctor appointments, clean the guinea pig cage, and do what I can to make sure we’re all happy and having fun. Oh, and let me help them learn their letters and numbers and colors and all that good stuff.

It’s a lot.

I feel grateful that my head was always filled with fun ways that my kids could learn those foundational skills, so it wasn’t hard for me to come up with ideas. The activities were usually based on research, on the stuff I was reading for my grad classes, the activities I had done when teaching, and the methods I was using for my tutoring students.  Or they came from parenting magazines, friends, or blogs I was reading.

I just grabbed a few things I had around the house that supported what we needed that day, and I used them during that quiet time before nap or rotated rooms during their rest time.

But I truly think that these little weekly plan sheets can help every parent get a little more organized this year–help parents deliberately plan power time for their kids each day or week.  

Power time does not need to be elaborate, crazy lesson plans. Just ideas, friends.

 

schedule kid time each each | teachmama.com

 weekly planner _ teachmama.com

If you’d like to download our weekly power time planner, here it is: weekly planner _ teachmama.com

(Remember, if you’re interested in sharing, great! Please consider linking to this post rather than the attachment page, please!)

And punch holes in each page, add them all to a 3-ring binder.  Include some dividers with folders, and you have a sweet, simple little planner.

Or, if you don’t want to go that route and you don’t want to punch holes, get a skinny report cover clip, and that can be your calendar planner.  Either way, remember we have the 2015 calendar because we love you that much.

 

I have the planner. I downloaded and printed. Now what?

Jot down ideas. Just so you remember to grab the puzzles from the basement when you go down or so that you remember to print out a few mazes or alphabet cards or find a few pennies for cleaning or pick up cheerios or pretzel sticks from the grocery store.

Sit back with a cuppa at the beginning of the week, look roughly ahead at your weekly schedule, and figure out a few things you want to do with your kids. What kind of power time you want to spend with them.

Visit our FAQ page to find out where you should start or to find ideas that work for your kids. Or check out the navigation bar to find other topics. I’ll have another post coming soon filled with places to go from here if you’re stuck.

On top of doing all that other parenting stuff.

Use the ‘to do’ lines to jot down some general things you must accomplish each day.

Consider:

schedule kid time each each | teachmama.com

schedule kid time each each | teachmama.com

  • Use the boxes to schedule three things you want to do during kid time. Remember with little ones, you may have full days at home. Full morning. Full afternoon. Fill ‘em up, friends.  And think: movement, mind, and me time. Each and every day.

movement: Kids need to move each day, both fine motor and gross motor.

mind: Kids need to stretch their mind each day, in some way, shape, or form.

me: Kids need to have alone time each day, playing by themselves, doing something independently.

schedule kid time each each | teachmama.com

schedule kid time each each | teachmama.com

 

  • If you have more than one child, use the ‘to do’ lines the same as above, but use one box for each child. Most likely, you’ll be doing a bunch of things together, which is totally cool. Just try to fit in at least one focused activity with each kiddo each day.

You want to shoot for one activity that packs some kind of punch.

 

schedule power kid time | teachmama.com

schedule power kid time | teachmama.com

  • If you have older, school-aged kids, just using the sheets to make sure that you are adding time for each child each day–no matter what. Maybe you’re not sitting down together each and every day to craft or play like you could when they were younger, but any time together, even if it’s having a child help you with dinner or helping him organize his Pokemon cards (gah!) counts.
  • Make these sheets work for you and your family. There’s no wrong way.

And that’s it.

Just a little somethin’ to keep in your back pocket, my friends.

What do you think? Yay? Nay?

How else can I help?

live focused 2015 teachmama.com b w collage

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ive focused in 2015 organization teachmama.com sq

#livefocused posts:

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

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

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

 

 

live focused in 2015 teachmama.com

Happy New Year, friends.

As we move into the new year, I want you to know that I am so very thankful for each one of you.

Really.

I thank you for reading. I thank you for subscribing. I thank you for hanging in with me through the years.

I love writing, I love creating, and I love sharing, so I’m a million times grateful that this–blogging–has become my job.

And the most important thing here is that it wouldn’t be a job if it weren’t for you.

So hugely, from the bottom of my heart, gracias.

But what I’ve noticed in the past year is that this space is changing, I am changing, and we are changing.

And so we are going to make some serious changes over here.

Changes that I think will be really, truly beneficial to us all.

I hope that you’ll join us for this ride.  We’ll all benefit–I promise.

Your kids. Your spouse. Your friends. Your neighbors. Your family.

You. And me.

It’s about living with focus in 2015. Living intentionally.

Because we get one life.

So let’s do it up.  Woot.

Here’s the skinny. . .

 

live focused in 2015  teachmama.com small

Live Focused in 2015–Give Yourself a Fresh Start and Live with Intention

My friends.

I promise I’m not going all sappy nutty on you. I’m really not.

I’m actually already half nutty from this parenting gig, so that’s nothing new.

And I’ve always been emotional and sappy.

But what I will promise is that this year is going to be a year of change.

And I’d love for you to come along with me for the ride.

I’m not promising perfect because perfect’s impossible.

I’m not guaranteeing greatness because greatness is fleeting.

I’m not encouraging immediate awesome because, well, everything worthwhile seems to take some time.

live focused in 2015 | teachmama.com

 

What I am suggesting is that together we do what we can to live with more intention, more focus, in 2015.

I started this blog way back in 2008 to encourage parents everywhere to do what they can to sneak in some learning into their kids’ every day. And for a long time, that worked.

We had little ones at home, for hours and hours and hours, and I knew that there were fun, cool things that parents could to do help build a foundation for learning, all with minimal effort and huge returns.

And together we got our kids off to the wilds of Kindergarten, then year by year, one by one, into elementary school.

But now? Things are different.

live focused in 2015 | teachmama.com

 

Though our kids are in school for most of the day, we’re still so busy.  We’re working, we’re scheduling, we’re volunteering.  We’re grocery shopping, coupon-clipping, and bill paying. We’re turning in permission slips, cutting our box tops, collecting donations, and packing lunches.

We’re crock-potting, speed cleaning, and skimming.

We’re running ourselves ragged schlepping kids to and from sports and activities, orthodontist appointments, and ‘hangouts’ (because goodness knows they’re too old for ‘playdates’).

We’re dashing. Dancing. Moving. Skating. Jogging. Swimming. Through. Life. 

And we’re not really thinking.  We’re just doing. Moving.

And friends, before we know it, it’ll all be a blur.

And we’ll be standing in the driveway staring at a packed Suburban, filled with luggage and linens and books and baskets, getting ready to send our baby off to college and wondering where the heck all the time went.

Sob. I can’t even.

So this year, I’m trying to take it back.

 

live focused in 2015 | teachmama.com

I’m going to take back the reigns of my life, and try–try as best as I can–to live more intentionally, to live focused in 2015. 

I’m doing this because I really need it. Believe me.

And I’d love for you to join me.

So I’m getting refocused in this here bloggy blog. I’m going to focus on the same goal I set forth back in 2008:

to share the tools and resources parents need to be the best teachers they can be for their children.

I’m still going to focus on learning in the every day.

And I’m going to focus on family, literacy, and what we can do to support our digital kids.

live focused in 2015  teachmama.com focus

But I’m going to post a bit less frequently and instead focus on quality over quantity.

Less really is more sometimes.

Because the content here is free for you, I’m going to still have to do some sponsored posts, but my focus is to create longterm partnerships with brands that really matter. With brands that really rock.

And I’m going to really, truly focus on you–my subscribers

So we’re going to rock it out with a bunch of subscriber-only giveaways.  That means nothing if you already subscribe except that you’re awesome and starting now you should read to the very end of the post (or at least scroll all the way down and check the box after the post for a whole lot of happy).

But it also means that if you don’t already subscribe, then you’ll definitely want to:

  • subscribe either to our rockstar emails and get 2-3 posts each week the day after they’re published, or
  • subscribe to our newsy-newsletter and get one email each Tuesday with all of the posts from the week. Either works.

teachmama subscriber screener

As far as the whole focused in 2015 is concerned, I’ve come to some conclusions:

1.  As our children get older, we’ve got to show them that we, as parents, are doing the best we can to live this life to its fullest.

We’ve got to show them that we are doing our best to live focused and intentionally.

We’ve got to show them that we are trying to be organized.

We’re nurturing relationships.

We’re taking care of ourselves.

We’re listening and loving and moving through life with a plan.

We do this so that our kids do the same.

live focused in 2015 teachmama.com

2. This is the year I’ll also be focusing on what we are doing to live intentionally, to live focused in 2015.

I’ll still share the cool stuff I usually do, but each month, I’ll also include a focus.

January- organization: in routine, in schedule, in home

It’s time to get on it. Get your house in order and create routine that works for your family. Life is too short to let it pass you by, and it’s time to climb out from under the mess and live intentionally. But in order to live intentionally, you’ve got to get organized.

February-friendship: with spouse, colleagues, siblings, parents, kids, girlfriends

What do you do to nurture your friendships? How much time do you actually put into keeping up with your oldest pals? Do you ever organize a girls’ night out? A date night? How well do you really know your kids?

March-clarity: of thought, words, action

Sometimes we need a re-start in the way we’re thinking, speaking, and interacting with others.  Let’s make sure our in-house behavior systems, rules, and guidelines are established and clear.  Let’s get refocused in the way we speak to our kids, spouse, and friends. Let’s try to align our thoughts and actions.

April-growth: emotional, mental, physical

Face it. we all need to grow in some way, shape, or form. Learning never needs to cease. Have you really worked your brain lately? What do you need to do to stay up to date with work or well-being? April is a month to learn how to better care for ourselves, kids, family.

May-self: you, you, you

Check yourself before you wreck yourself. When was the last time you took time out for you? What do you really, truly love to do? If you don’t know, it’s time to find out. If you know and haven’t done it for a while, now’s the time to get rolling with it.

live focused in 2015 months  teachmama.com

 

June-family: make family time count

School’s out. Time to really unplug and spend time with your kids now that they’re out of school. Our tabletop surprises will keep you constantly filled with ideas for creative, innovative ways to spend time with your kids.

July-breath: because breathing really helps

Sure, it’s summer. And a whole lot happens in summer that makes us forget about our New Year intentions and focus. But let’s check in on January organization. Do you need a restart? How are things going with friends, growth, or your self-care?  Before we freak out, we’re going to make breathing a focus this month as we slowly get back on track.

August-time: take control

How are you using your time? Life is moving quickly.  Are you making sure you’re living each day to the fullest? Parenting is hard—there’s no doubt about that. And juggling a spouse, work, and a household makes it even more difficult.  But even if we spend a few minutes each week giving our days some focus, we’re taking control. We’re still in charge.

September-learning: back to school means everyone learns

Back to school means we’re all learning a whole new routine and system.  How are we, as parents, best interacting with our kids, their teachers, and schools? Are we supporting them the best we are able? What do we need to learn in order to do so? New strategies? New concepts?

October-honesty: with ourselves and others

Halloween means that our kids are on a quest to find disguises, but let’s be honest this month with ourselves before the holiday season begins. Let’s be honest about how we think and feel, and let’s do what we can to make sure we’re sharing are true and awesome selves with the world.

November-giving: set an example of gratitude

We all have so much for which we should be thankful, so let’s give what we can to those who need it. Setting an example of giving and gratitude for our children is super-important from the start, especially during their formative elementary years. No better time than now to give to the world the best we have.

December-peace: finding beauty in the basics

It’s so very difficult not to get caught up in the holiday whirlwind, trying to create a perfectly pinteresting holiday for our family. But we don’t need to go crazy. We really don’t. Let’s focus on the important things and strive for more peace in our 2015 holiday seasons.

 

live focused in 2015  teachmama.com share

Never fear, friends.

I’m not going to leave you high and dry here. We’re doing this together. Baby steps.

Each month I plan to:

  • share printables which will help us get focused and live intentionally;
  • do some fun giveaways, freebies, and contests for subscribers only–that means you!;
  • invite experts in to share their ideas and suggestions;
  • create videos with tricks, tools, and ideas for our topics;
  • share the normal, awesome content you have come to expect, with the #livefocused added in as a bonus (yay!);
  • use our Facebook page as a place to support each other, chat, and share high-fives (like a freebie, fab support group);
  • share photos from my journey on Instagram and Twitter using #livefocused;
  • do round-ups of your photos, ideas, and experiences across platforms;
  • quite honestly, learn as I go–from you and from others!;
  • offer follow-ups and extensions that may help you in this adventure.

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

I’m excited. I’ve got so much planned, and it’s only the first Monday of the month.

I cannot wait to really embrace 2015. Watch out world, crazy things can happen when a bunch of smart women (and men!) are a little more focused!

Here. We. GO!

Check it all out video-style:

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

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:

live focused 2015 teachmama.com b w collage

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new year’s family plan: 100 good deeds

new year's family plan: 100 good deeds teachmama.com

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new year's family plan: 100 good deeds teachmama.com

I’ve long stopped creating New Year’s Resolutions because, well, they always seem to be broken.

Instead, we, as a family, try to make some positive changes at the beginning of each year.

We use the time to get refocused.

We use the time to check in with each other.

We use the time to start some healthier routines.

Not always easy–this I know.

This year, we’re all starting the 100 Good Deeds plan.

As a family.

And it’s a pretty cool way of kicking off the New Year.

Join us.

Here’s the skinny. . .

We’re not alone in our 100 Good Deeds Plan; in fact, we’re part of a huger than huge campaign geared toward making some positive change.

The premise is that the wearer of the bracelet does good deeds–just put more good into the world.

The Rules of the Game? 

A ‘good deed’ means you’ve gone out of our way to help someone, and it only counts if the deed remains anonymous.

Each time you do a good deed, you move the rubber ring one bead closer toward the 1GD button.

new year's family plan: 100 good deeds

The 100 Good Deeds Bracelet was created by Mary Fisher – artist, author, advocate – who spent a decade partnering with at-risk women in Africa and around the world, designing jewelry made by the women to earn a dignified livelihood.

Fisher, a leader in global social change, launched The 100 Good Deeds Bracelet, a handcrafted collection that symbolizes a commitment to perform good deeds and bring about positive change in the world.

aFrF-s8D2yuz1pZrvHBma1iSk1fqQKmAL_Y30i9ZzBIFisher says,“The motivation behind The 100 Good Deeds Bracelet collection is to inspire simple acts of kindness around the world.

Each bracelet is a reminder to spread positive change through action and fulfill our mission to Do Good, One Deed, One Bead, One Act of Kindness at a Time.

I LOVE this.

Don’t you?new year's family resolution 100 good deeds  teachmama.com blank

 

Want to grab your own 100 Good Deeds bracelet? Yes you do.

Check it out: 100 Good Deeds site

And please remember, to join the #DeedADay movement, share one of these images on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest using hashtag #DeedADay and tagging the 100 Good Deeds Bracelet. That’s it.

NA-DOK-4pvLfsUP692gjF76l-fcqsmMdwCTywPAQ3HI

These Bracelets are made by vulnerable women who’ve been trained for this work in Uganda, India, Indonesia, Zambia, South Africa, Rwanda, IniInand Haiti. This project gives a women a way to support their families through earnings, while empowering them to also contribute to good deeds around the world.

Join me.

Actually, have your whole family join us–and together, we’ll make some serious change.

Join the movement. Buy your bracelet. Make #DeedADay your plan for the year.

Imagine the example we’ll be setting for our kids!

 

fyi: I was gifted this 100 Good Deeds bracelet to review and share with my readers. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator. 

26 cool, new family traditions to start in the new year

26 fun family traditions to start this year teachmama.com

26 fun family traditions to start this year  teachmama.com

I’m all about family traditions.

Not only does it make your life as a parent easier, but having traditions gives your kids something to hold on to.

Traditions give kids the feeling of security.

Traditions give kids the feeling of safety and comfort.

Traditions give kids the feeling of strength of family.

And yes, often there are years that traditions also teach kids about flexibility.

Especially when for whatever reason you can’t make the Flag Cake or you can’t organize a St. Patty’s Day Scavenger Hunt.

I’ve gathered 26 cool, fun, new family traditions to start in the new year.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • 26 Cool, New Family Traditions to Start in the New Year:

 Here they are.

1. Complete the New Year’s Interview.  One of our all-time faves.

2. Volunteer on MLK, Jr. Day.  Spend the day doing something that counts.

3.  Make Surprise Notes for your neighbors.  It doesn’t matter when; it doesn’t matter which ones. Just do it.

4. Host a January Favorite Junk Food Party.  Everyone brings one thing: his or her favorite snacky junk food.

5. Make crafts for Meals on WheelsSimple crafts, pretty notes just to brighten someone’s day.

26 cool traditions for family - teachmama.com

6. Participate in a fundraising walk. For whatever cause speaks to your heart. We’ve got some starting points on our blog 4 cause post.

7. Make Valentines for classmates and friends.  We think that homemade is best. They don’t have to be fancy.

8. Do an Earth Day park clean-up. It can be as simple or as involved as you like, with one person or ten.

9. Use the Special Plate to celebrated good days.  The Special Plate makes every one of us smile. It’s a good day when you get to use the Special Plate.

10. Have ice-cream for dinner on the last day of school. Because why not? It’s SUMMER!

11.  Allow everyone to choose his or her birthday dinner. If the birthday boy (or girl) has a party, it’s a dinner in, and Mom and Dad cook a meal of choice. If there’s no party, it’s a dinner out.

12. Celebrate Golden Birthdays, when your age matches the date.  Maddy and Owen both celebrated their Golden Birthday on their 9th year; Cora will celebrate hers when she’s 23, but we’ll most likely celebrate a Half-Golden Birthday when she’s 11 1/2 years old.

13. Eat fondue on New Year’s Day.  Do it up. Cheese, bouillon, and chocolate with fancy glasses and sparkling cider.

14. Make a July 4th Flag Cake.  Strawberries, blueberries, whipped icing, and yum.

 

26 cool, new family traditions to start in the new year

15. Have a St. Patrick’s Day Scavenger Hunt.  Quick and easy, around the house.  At the end? A little pot o’ gold, of course. Or at least a fun little goodie bag.

16.  Make an Easter Bunny Cake. Round cakes, licorice, and jelly beans make this a special Easter treat.

17.  Organize a neighborhood Egg Hunt.  The eggs don’t have to be filled with jewels–kids love to find anything in their eggs–wrapped candy, pennies, you name it!

18. Have a 1st Day of Summer Cook-Out. Back yard, with hotdogs, chips, and watermelon.  Neighbors and friends. Make it a potluck so it’s easy on you.

19. Make Mom breakfast in bed for Mother’s Day. Awwwwhhh, one of my favorite things ever is when the kids make me breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day. Who cares if the coffee’s cold and toast is burnt? Not I!

20. Go on a family hike for Father’s Day. Let Dad pick the hike, or kids can surprise him. Pack a lunch, drinks, and a blanket. Enjoy!

21. Make Candy Wreaths for your schools.  Because who doesn’t love candy? And really, every single school staff member will love you for it.

26 fun family traditions to start this year  teachmama.com

26 fun family traditions teachmama.com WHITE

 

22. Open new pajamas on Christmas Eve.  One gift before the big day, and it’s always pj’s. Fresh, cozy, new jammies for the big night. And everyone will have matching pjs on for Christmas morning photos.

23. Have the kids make dinner for parents on their anniversary. We haven’t done this yet, but man. I really want to.

24. Schedule a surprise no-school, Cookie-Baking Day in December. Hands down, it’s our absolute favorite day of the holiday season. Well, almost.

25. Boo! your friends in October. Even more fun if you gather a group of pals to do the ‘boo-ing’ with!

26. Make shoebox gifts for the needy at holiday time.  We do this every year, and every year it gets more fun for the kids and more meaningful.  Our church is a drop-off point, but many local newspapers also advertise places that they take these important boxes.

And that’s it!

I’d love to hear what traditions you celebrate and honor each year–there’s always room for more!

Want to download the fancy-schmancy 26 cool, new family traditions poster: 26 fun family traditions teachmama.com BKGD

26 cool, new family traditions to start in the new year | teachmama.com

26 fun family traditions teachmama.com BKGD

All I ask is that if you choose to share this post, please link to this post and not the attachment page–thank you!

 

Check out a few other posts that may help you develop strong and healthy habits for your family:

 

special holiday deals for teachmama.com readers

special holiday deals for teachmama.com readers

holiday deals for teachmama.com subscribers

 

Thank you so much for subscribing to teachmama.com!

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Here and there, where applicable, I will use affiliate links.

SPECIAL CURRENT DEALS: 

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Online Knitting Class
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  • Kidorable, Free Umbrella with $20.00 purchase. Use Code:UMBFR  [Need over $20 without umbrella cost. Coupon code cannot be combined with any other promotion. until 12/31/14]

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subscriber thank you long newsletter | teachmama.com

giftwrap teachmama.com

 

must have gifts for kids and family sq

 

giftwrap teachmama.com

 

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

must have gifts for kids and families | teachmama.com

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

 

kids and family gift guide from teachmama.com

 

teachmama gift guide 2012

 

 

holiday gift guide | teachmama.com

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

I’m a hardcore fan of the photo book.

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

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

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

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

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

Both very frequently have rockstar sales going on.

Here’s the skinny. . .

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

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

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

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

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

unique and cool photo book ideas  teachmama.com

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

3. Capture a Memory, a Life Event.

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

4. House Snapshot.

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

And? She loves it.

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

 

 

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

 

5. Best Times With Grandparent

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

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

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

 

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

6. Baby’s First Year

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

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

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

Bam. Done and done.

 

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

 

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

7.  Recipe Book

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

Why not?

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

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

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

 

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

 

8. Craft Collage or Art Book

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

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

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

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

Photograph close up and from a distance.

Add the photos to a folder on your computer.

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

 

 

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

 

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

9.  LEGO Creations

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

Play-Doh castles? Crazy-cool marble runs?

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

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

 

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

 

10.  Church, Temple, or School Event

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

11.  Cool Science Experiment (or Animal Facts!)

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

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

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

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

 

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

12.  Family ABC Book

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

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

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

Want kids to get their ABCs quickly?

Make a Family ABC Book.

 

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

13.  Family Vacation

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

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

So fun.

Man I want to return. . .

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

14.  Book About Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Possibilities are endless.

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

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

15. Home Renovation or Family Move

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

You know that it’s the thought that counts!

 

please pin it later!

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

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

must have gifts for kids and families | teachmama.com

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

 

kids and family gift guide from teachmama.com

 

teachmama gift guide 2012

 

 

holiday gift guide | teachmama.com

 

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