super-easy, homemade photo tiles

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

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

And they came out really, really cute.

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

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

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Super-Easy, Homemade Photo Tiles:

When I say, ‘easy’, I mean easy.

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

To make them, you’ll need:

Making the tiles is super-simple.

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

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

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

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

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

super-easy, homemade photo tiles | teachmama.com

super-easy, homemade photo tiles | teachmama.com

super-easy, homemade photo tiles | teachmama.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

super-easy, homemade photo tiles | teachmama.com

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

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

super-easy, homemade photo tiles | teachmama.com

super-easy, homemade photo tiles | teachmama.com

4. Add felt to the back. 

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

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

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

super-easy, homemade photo tiles

super-easy, homemade photo tiles

super-easy, homemade photo tiles

super-easy, homemade photo tiles

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

And really? That’s it.

super-easy, homemade photo tiles

super-easy, homemade photo tiles

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

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

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

must have gifts for kids and families | teachmama.com

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

 

kids and family gift guide from teachmama.com

 

teachmama gift guide 2012

 

 

holiday gift guide | teachmama.com

 

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

best books as gifts for kids and family

best books as gifts for kids and family | teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

I am so embarrassed about this, but I’ve talked about doing a post like this for years.best books as gifts for family  teachmama.com cover

I think I’ve even promised one the week after each of my 2012 gift guide and 2013 gift guide but never did it.

Ugh.

But this year, finding books for Maddy, Owen, and Cora has been so, so, so much fun.

I’m not sure why.

Maybe because they all can read now?

Maybe because the book choices we have at our fingertips for our kids–and even extended family–are spectacular?

Maybe because

So I’m thrilled to share which books we have loved this year, which books are on our holiday wish lists, and which books will definitely be under our tree this year.

I’ll organize it just like I organized the Gift Guide for Kids and Family–by age.

That might be the most manageable.

So exciting.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Best Books as Gifts for Kids and Family:

best books as gifts for family  teachmama.com littlest guys

 

For our littlest guys:

  • Ten Tiny Toes, by Carolyn Jayne Church: babies love the sweet illustrations in these books, and so do parents.  And? there’s counting.  Try Here Comes Christmas for the holidays.
  • Flora and the Flamingo, by Molly Schaar. A wordless picture book, this story shows how Flora and the Flamingo become friends without saying a word. Cool way to talk about body language with kids.  Pair it with a sweet flamingo stuffed animal for a really cute gift.
  • Locomotive, by Brian Floca.  It’s a Caldecott Medal winner which means that this book totally rocks. I love the way this book brings to life the summer of 1869 when the first transcontinental railroad takes its journey from coast to coast.

best books as gifts  kids and family  teachmama.com

  • The Book With No Pictures, B.J. Novak. 
    Remember Ryan Howard from The Office? Ever-changing dark haired young guy? He wrote this book, and it’s really fun and unique. It plays with language in a way that is engaging, exciting, and new.
  • Blizzard, by John Rocco.  Rocco shares his own memories woven in a story that teaches the important lessons of helping others and celebrating the little things. Based on his experience in the Blizzard of 1978, which some of us may actually remember.
  • Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad, by Henry Cole.  I cannot speak highly enough about this beautiful, wordless picture book. A farm girl helps a young, runaway slave who hides in her barn.
  • Exclamation Mark, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld.  This book tells the story of Exclamation Mark, who never really felt like he fit in with all of the periods and commas out there. It’s so fun and a great way to play with language and life lessons.
  • Nelson Mandela, by Kadir Nelson.  I love everything that Kadir Nelson writes, but this Coretta Scott King Honor Award winner is inspiring and enlightening.
  • The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdös, by Deborah Heiligman and illustrated by LeUyen Pham. This book is an interesting reminder that we all are born with different strengths and that one is no better than the next. For math lovers and non-lovers alike, kids will find this book incredibly intriguing.

 

 

best books as gifts for family  teachmama.com bigger guys

For the bigger guys:

  • Geronimo Stilton: Lost Treasure of the Emerald Eye, by Geronimo Stilton. Geronimo books have been around for a while now, but Cora has recently discovered them and has fallen hard. She laughs out loud at these. Owen does, too. Told by Geronimo, a witty and brave mouse, these stories always involve a mystery, and the engaging print and fonts makes them accessible for younger readers especially.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, by Jeff Kinney. It’s the Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Kids love this series.  Greg Heffley is every child. He says what’s on his mind, and he’s funny. And life doesn’t always work out in his favor. This book shares his family’s road trip, and it’s a riot. Want a chunk of the series? Get your young reader a Diary of a Wimpy Kid gift set.
  • Fantasy League, by Mike Lupica. Owen is pretty much obsessed with fantasy football lately, so when we discovered this book by talented sports writer, Mike Lupica, it opened up a world of reading for him. Lupica rocks when it comes to writing books that speak to young athletes. Love this.

best books as gifts  kids and family  teachmama.com

best books as gifts  kids and family  teachmama.com

  • Smile and Sisters, by Raina Telgemeier. And Drama. These award-winning graphic novels are written in Raina’s honest, funny, and engaging voice, are faves of my girls. They’re (shhhhh!) getting Drama this holiday.
  • The 39 Clues series, by Rick Riordan & co. This book series is still a fave of Maddy’s. The books are quick and clever, and they’re full of history. We listen to a 39 Clues audio book just about every time we drive to Pennsylvania.
  • The Spirit Animals series, by Brandon Mull & co. Maddy and Owen have really loved this series. And the cool thing is that there’s a ton of online gaming, support and extensions for each book.
  • The Hunger Games series, by Suzanne Collins. I’ve waited a bit to hand these to Maddy because the content is a bit mature; the Hunger Games are not the kind of game you ever really want your kids to play. It’s about survival and doing anything you can to come out on top in a dystopian society with a totally corrupt government. But Maddy asked and asked, and when I allowed her to read them, she literally read the entire three books in three nights. I’m not sure she slept much, and I had to literally pry the book out of her hands and turn off her lights so she’d rest. It’s a fantastic series if you haven’t read it, and it does allow for a ton of interesting discussion if you can read them alongside your tween.

 

best books as gifts for family  teachmama.com family

Every family must-haves:

  • Humans of New York, by Brandon Stanton. I have literally gifted this book to almost every adult family member, so of course I needed to add one to our list, too. I am obsessed with Humans of New York. Looking at the photos of everyday people and reading their stories helps me keep things in perspective. I love it, and I’m hoping that it becomes a good eye-opener for Maddy, Owen, and Cora.
  • Little Humans, by Brandon Stanton.  Same as above. But all kids. All kids. Love times a million.

 

best books as gifts  kids and family  teachmama.com

 

 

best books as gifts for family  teachmama.com cool books they love

Other cool books that kids love:

  • National Geographic Kids Almanac 2015. This should be a must-purchase for families every single  year. It’s one of those books that once you pick it up, you cannot put it down. Full of fun facts from food to animals to planets, it’s awesome. It’s beautiful.
  • 5,000 AWESOME Facts (About Everything!) 2, by National Geographic Kids. Not even kidding. There are 5,000 facts in this book. And each is cooler and more interesting than the next. The photos, layout, and topics? Super cool.

best books as gifts for family  teachmama.com final cover

 

 

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

gifts that give back: ideas for kids and family

gifts that give back: ideas for kids and family | teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

Did you celebrate Giving Tuesday?gifts that give back  teachmama.com

It’s a really simple concept: give.

Any way you are able, to anyone. Give.

The concept of giving is especially important at this time of the year, and lucky for us, many organizations have made it super easy–and so meaningful!–to give at holiday time.

Looking at my kids’ bedrooms and our playroom, I see we need very little.

So I’m encouraging all of our family members to do something this year that packs a bit more of a punch: buying gifts that give a little more than the norm.

Though there are thousands of ways to do it–something for every family.

These are the organizations that we will be supporting this year.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Gifts That Give Back–Ideas for Kids and Family:

Though I’m sharing this during holiday time, these gifts can obviously be given at any time of the year, for any occasion.

I encourage you to bookmark this, save it, whatever, and pull it out again for birthdays or other special occasions.

Seriously. Give something life-changing to a family in need. A goat. Some chicks. Some seeds. An education. Clean water.

gifts that give back: ideas for kids and family

And give it in the name of one of your kids: Choose a meaningful gift to give a loved one and help children and families around the world receive training and animal gifts that help them become self-reliant. 

The Heifer International Gift Catalog online is super easy to understand and navigate.

You can purchase a share or whole animal for a family: goat, heifer, water buffalo, honeybees.

Giving an animal is like giving someone a small business, providing wool, milk, eggs and more. Animal donations can provide families a hand up, increasing access to medicine, school, food and a sustainable livelihood.

gifts that give back: ideas for kids and family Or you can support women’s empowerment:

If women farmers had access to the same resources as men, more than 150 million additional people would have enough food to eat. We aim to make that a reality. Your gift will provide support for women’s groups, training in gender equality and the means to send girls to school. Help empower women around the world to reach their full potential.

heifer international

Talk to your kids about the fact that so many of these people lack clean water. Can you imagine? Clean water.

And explain how clean water could totally, completely change their lives:

Millions of people around the world still lack access to clean drinking water. In the impoverished communities where Heifer is working, many of the homes lack running water, and some families do not even have a well nearby. Instead, they must spend each day fetching water. This is often a chore left to the children — especially girls — leaving no time for school.

 

gifts that give back | teachmama.com

 

Each gift you choose comes with a little card that you can give to the recipient, an Honor Card.  But more than the card is the impact of the gift on the recipient family.

These gifts are literally changing lives–turning life completely around for people. Equipping them with the tools they need to thrive.

Incredible.

 

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gifts that give back | teachmama.com

 

I met the creator of To the Market, Jane Mosbacher Morris, at the AYA Summit this year. She’s awesome.

The premise of To The Market is to combine the powers of commerce and storytelling to empower the world’s most courageous survivor populations, in the belief that resilience is more powerful than suffering.  How can you not love it?

You can shop in a number of different ways: by goods, by country, by cause, or by local partners. So you can literally find something for everyone, something that really meets your needs.

gifts that give back TTM ideas for kids and family

I love the Eva Necklace, the Sabrina Sparkle Earrings, and the Bernadette Earrings, both from the Starfish Project.

The Starfish Project is a fair trade jewelry company that cares for and employs exploited women in Asia. Each woman that enters into Starfish has a story of abuse and pain. At Starfish they are employed in legitimate, meaningful work where they start to reclaim the truth that they are capable; through counseling, shelter, education and health care they know they are safe; and through the Starfish community they know they are loved.

I also love the Punjammies–all of them. These are ‘lounge pants’ which I honestly think you could wear for any occasion because they are that beautiful.

PUNJAMMIES™ mission is to create pathways to freedom for women escaping the ravages of sex slavery to achieve lives of hope and dignity; each woman learns a trade (sewing) and practices refining her craftsmanship by producing quality sleep & loungewear called PUNJAMMIES™. The finished product is then exported to the US and sold online to countries all over the world with proceeds coming back to benefit each of the sewing centers.

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Almost all of my scarves are from fashionABLEfashionABLE‘s mission is:

to create sustainable business for Africans so they aren’t dependent upon charity, but instead earn the dignity of a job. We offer opportunity to everyone, with a primary focus on empowering women. When we invest in a woman, statistics demonstrate that she will have a life-changing impact on her family and community… and herself.

 I love it.

gifts that give back ideas  fashionABLE
Some products I really love?

  • the Mamuye Tote because it is the perfect size for my laptop and the leather is simply beautiful
  • the Tizita Bracelet which is so affordable and cool–a set of three bracelets (two pewter and one antique gold) crafted from beads repurposed from bullet casings and scrap metal found by farmers in the Entoto mountains.  The Entoto community is a place of healing for those affected by HIV/AIDS, treating them with dignity + respect, and providing a fair opportunity to support their families. Under $30.
  • the Selam Scarf and the Gebeyew Scarf both which I have and both which I have gifted to friends and family numerous times.

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St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is driven by the mission to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of our founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay.

gifts that give back  st jude

Everyone is welcome. Everyone. My heart.

Every purchase made from the St. Jude Gift Shop helps St. Jude because 100% of proceeds after all related expenses benefit St. Jude.

They’ve got a ton of celebrity gifts that younger kids especially would love, from their Celebrity Friend Collection: ornaments, jewelry, iPhone cases.

gifts that give back | experience gifts st. jude

You can donate event-based gifts for patients like ‘no mo chemo parties’, holiday parties, and more.

You can donate a things the patients would love, like red wagon (because that’s how little ones move through the hospital–no wheelchairs!), or you can donate art supplies or video games.  Toys, books, or meals for families.

You can donate treatments for the patients. You know they need them. This will help.

It’s an incredible organization, and it’s a great way to give back.

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It’s a lot, I know.

But hey–it’s a great place to start.

My suggestion? Either make a decision yourself over here, or bring the kids over, look at the options with you, and let them decide.

I’m betting they’d love to say, Grandma! We bought some kids a goat in your and Grandpa’s name this year!!

How will you give? What will your family choose this year? 

Let me know! I love more ideas!

gifts that give back teachmama.com

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

 

fyi: The fashionABLE 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. This small percentage of money helps offset the costs of hosting this blog, which helps me keep this content free for you. 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

true holiday spirit notes for kids: remembering the meaning of the season

true holiday spirit notes for kids: remembering the meaning of the season

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

December is here. true holiday spirit notes for kids: remembering the meaning of the season

I can hardly believe it.

So this season I’m trying a little something different.

Rather than focus on the receiving part of the season, this year, I’m really trying to focus on the giving component. 

The being a good person component.

The remembering the holiday spirit component.

And I’m starting with an Advent Season challenge for my family: to try to incorporate the true holiday spirit into our every day of December.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • True Holiday Spirit Notes for Kids–Remembering the Meaning of the Season:

All month long.

http://teachmama.com/?attachment_id=19938

http://teachmama.com/?attachment_id=19938

We’ll open our Advent Activity Calendar in the morning like we have for the past few years, but at lunchtime, the kids will have a challenge.

A simple but meaningful challenge.

Twenty-five days of incorporating the true holiday spirit into our every day. I’m excited about it and think the kids are, too.

Though Owen is home sick with me today, I introduced the ‘challenge’ to Maddy, Owen, and Cora today at breakfast.

 

http://teachmama.com/?attachment_id=19938

 

I said, Okay, so you know that for the last few years we’ve done our Advent Activity Calendars–the one on the tree and our cool k-cup advent calendar from last year, right? 

This year, we’re doing something a little different. We’re going to continue to do our Advent Activities like we have in the past. That way we remember to fit in all of the fun things we love to do each holiday season. 

But we’re all going to try a new type of holiday Advent Activity too. A challenge. Just something super small that will help us remember the true meaning of the busy holiday season. 

http://teachmama.com/?attachment_id=19938

http://teachmama.com/?attachment_id=19938

We’ll talk about what we do each evening, but the cool thing about it is that it’s kind of a secret. Like today’s is ‘be extra nice to one person’. 

You’ll be extra nice to one person, but you won’t make a huge, weird deal about it. You’ll decide on who to be nice to, and you’ll do it. 

Maddy asked, Won’t some of our other friends feel left out if they’re not being treated extra nicely? 

http://teachmama.com/?attachment_id=19938

I said, No, not really. Because hopefully you’ll be nice to everyone–you’ll just be extra nice to someone else. 

And then we’ll share our challenge answers at home each night. Does that make sense? Kind of a secret thing that we’ll share as a family.

The kids got it. And they dug it.

 

Here’s our True Holiday Spirit Challenge sheet: true holiday spirit challenge notes teachmama.com

(If you decide to share, please share this post instead of the attachment page. I truly appreciate it!)

true holiday spirit lunchbox notes | teachmama.com

 

true holiday spirit challenge notes teachmama.com

I created the challenge to work as lunchbox notes because my kids love them and look forward to them. I wanted the notes to be small enough that they could read them inside their lunchbox, and I wanted there to be one note for each day of Advent, one for each day of the holiday season.

The notes are numbered–very lightly–from 1-25. And they include things like:

  • be extra inclusive at recess;
  • say ‘thank you’ to someone–and mean it;
  • ask a quiet classmate how he or she is doing;
  • hold the door for someone today;
  • and more.

So we’ll see how it goes.

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

support small business saturday: teachmama faves

small business saturday | teachmama.com

I have always been a huge fan of small businesses, supporting them whenever I possibly can.small business saturday | teachmama.com

It’s a person’s dream. It’s a risk. It’s hard. And often, these smaller businesses are hidden gems.

Really.

Friends, if you are able, it’s so worth heading into your neighborhood Mom & Pop shop to support them during this time of the year.

There’s nothing like walking into a store with your kids and talking to them about all that goes into opening your own toy store or jewelry store or yarn shop or pet store–how rewarding and challenging it can be.

As parents, we have to show our kids that anything is within their reach.

And sure, we all want rockstar deals, but deals are seriously everywhere–even in small businesses.

And sure, we are crazy busy and sometimes it’s easier to order online from the comfort of our homes

So do it.

There are tons of small online business, so this Saturday check ‘em out give em a chance.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Support Small Business Saturday– For Your Kids:

Over the years, Etsy has been one of my go-to’s for finding sweet and meaningful gifts, and I’ve come across a bunch of small businesses that I definitely want to share.

Etsy is a super place to start when you have a talent or totally rock a craft; we want our kids to know that if they have talents, they can follow them and even make money from them.

Start with Etsy.

support small business saturday--for your kids

Love To Create Stamps

I am a huge fan of the self-inking return address stamp.

I grabbed the return address label stamp that I use all of the time, modeled after the one below, from Todd of Love To Create Stamps.

small business saturday | teachmama.com

The cool thing? He’s giving teachmama.com readers a 15% discount to his shop. Use LOVETOSAVE .

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support small business saturday | teachmama faves

Studio Jewel, by The Bead Girl

Years and years ago I met Lisa at a blog conference, and immediately I fell for her simple, cool designs.

She worked with me to create my favorite initial necklace for my kids. I still wear it often and always I get complements on it when I do.

Check out her stacking mothers bangle bracelets. Love, love, love them.

support small business saturday--start here

Lisa is offering a 20% discount to teachmama.com readers with the code: TEACHMAMA20

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small business saturday | teachmama.com

Little Lady Bug Press | Christy Allison design

I have dreamed of having a holiday return address stamp for years, and this year? Well I treated myself to one like the one above. I literally danced around the kitchen when it arrived last week, in a sweet little burlap drawstring bag and looking exactly how I wanted it to. Woot!

Cannot wait to get those cards started this year!

small business saturday | teachmama.com

 

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small business saturday | teachmama.com

Cookin Cute:

I love Liz’s designs. I worked with cookincute to design the most beautiful apron for Maddy ever. I absolutely love it.

I knew what I wanted but didn’t see it in her shop.

So via email, we found a great pattern, the perfect color, and Maddy reaches for this apron any time she’s baking or cooking in the kitchen.  She also threw in a matching apron for her American Girl doll! Super fun.

 

small business saturday | teachmama

 

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small business saturday | teachmama.com

Uniquely Ordinary 

Last year, when Cora was on a ‘personalization’ kick, I ordered a bunch from this store.

Cindi created fabulous plastic straw cup with ‘Cora’ on it from this shop, and she loves it.   All I explained was, ‘I have a 5 yo girl who loves all girly things: hearts, stars, jewels, flowers.  If you could do it in pinks and maybe some black and white to up the cool factor, that’d be awesome. And the 16 oz tumbler we received was perfecto!

small business saturday | teachmama.com

 

 

small business saturday | teachmama.com

 

I also ordered a super cute personalized cake carrier for Maddy from this shop, and every time we use it, Maddy smiles.  This isn’t the one; we ordered a standard, rectangular cake saver that we love.

The cool thing? Cindi’s giving teachmama.com readers a 10% discount to her shop through the end of January. Use the code: blogger. Woot!

 

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small business saturday | teachmama.com

saffron and saege

Loraleigh creates the most fun pieces of jewelry—necklaces with anything you want, including sweet starfish, initials, animals, and more.

I ordered a gold hashtag necklace for myself this summer. I love it so much that I ordered one for my sister, who helps me so much with work. For anyone—blogger, virtual assistant, or hashtag maven, these are perfect and fun.

I love, love the prices here and variety–I think they’re great for just about anyone but know that Maddy and Cora would love anything from this shop!

small business saturday | teachmama.com

 

 

small business saturday | teachmama.com

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small business saturday | teachmama.com

Home of Gem

I love this shop’s simplicity and beauty–and I love the fact that Gem brings ‘old junk back to life’.  Every piece has a story, which is so awesome and fun.

All of the items here are completely unique, which I think always make super gifts and conversation pieces. Great gifts for weddings, anniversaries, and holidays. Birthdays and any day. Indoors and outdoors.

small business saturday | teachmama.com

small business saturday | teachmama.com

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small business saturday | teachmama.com

 

Baby Elephant

Need an adorable knit hat for your tiny ones? My sister turned me on to this shop which is run by one of my high school friends.

Colleen is one of the coolest gals I know. You will die for any of the things in her shop. The neat thing is that I vividly remember her mom knitting when we were young.  Love it.

small business saturday | teachmama.com

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small business saturday | teachmama.com

 

My sister is in love with Greyson + Cole for baby moccasins:

I want to eat my niece Ruby’s little legs. Especially with these teeny shoes.

small business saturday | greyson and cole small business saturday | teachmama.com

 

 

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And she also loves Sweet Lucy Jack for baby moccasins and headbands and cute hats:

 

small business saturday | teachmama.com

 

sweet lucy  teachmama.com

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What is your favorite small business? I’d love to hear it!

Many thanks for supporting these great businesses!

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

 

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

the only black friday deals you need for kids and family

the only black friday deals you need for kids and family

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

Friends.the only black friday deals you need for kids and family

I’m not sure if you’re a wild and crazy Black Friday shopper or not, but in case you are, happy holidays!

Here are a few biggie sales that I’m taking advantage of and that you could, too, so that you are less stressed, closer to being finished with your gift-buying, and securing some pretty decent deals this holiday.

Just a few.

A few deals that will help you and will help me.

Bam.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • The ONLY Black Friday Deals You Need for Kids and Families:

These are the only deals you really need to grab.

So grab them, and then eat all the turkey leftovers your little heart desires.

For kids:

Kiwi Crate, Kiwi Crate Black Friday Offer 
Doodle Crate >>

LOOK at the deals I just scored:

kiwi crate DEALS teachmama.com

 

Little Passports, Little Passports USA Edition: 1 year at $10.95/month

Little Passports, Little Passports World Edition: 1 year at $10.95/month

 

ISeeMe.com, Buy 3 Save $15 and get FREE SHIPPING! Use Code BUY3

ISeeMe.com, Black Friday Offers – Buy 2 Save $10. Use code BUY2

ISeeMe.com, Black Friday Offers – Buy 1 Save $5. Use code BUY1

My Night Before Christmas from ISeeMe

ISEEME personalized Children's Books
 

 The Land of Nod, Nod Chair: Originally $129 Now Only $99

The Land of Nod, Save $56 on The Land of Nod’s High Kids Adjustable Activity Table with Bins and Paper Roller!

The Land of Nod, design for kids and people that used to be kids
 

 

For tweens:

Zazzle, Up to 60% off on Zazzle.com – Use Code: ZWEEKOFDEALS

Customize iPhone cases, puzzles, bags, totes, waterbottles, and more.

Up to 60% off on Zazzle.com

For you (or me):

 

 Craftsy, Pre-Black Friday Sale: Enjoy Big Savings on Yarn, Fabric & Kits

thread art online quilting class at craftsy.com
 

Love With Food, Black Friday Sale
 

Mod Cloth, NEW arrivals at 50% off!
ModCloth
 

Snow Day Welcome Box Offer

For fun:

 Fanatics, Happy Fans-Giving Sale – 25% off plus free shipping on orders over $50

Huge Black Friday Savings at Fanatics.com
 

Cents of Style, Colored Tights $7.98 – 2 Pack Tights $5.58 & FREE SHIPPING

 

Do you subscribe to teachmama.com via email or newsletter?

You should! Often we do have fun perks for our subscribers like free printables and goodies.

subscriber thank you long newsletter | teachmama.com

This month? We’re trying something different: an only-for-teachmama.com-readers curated page full of super-special holiday deals page. 

NO joke.   Subscribe.  Because I love ya.  Subscribe to teachmama.com now

 

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

 

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

monthly craft gift for kids: kiwi crate

monthly craft gift for kids: kiwi crate brands | craft, experiment, and thinking subscription gifts for kids that they will totally love | gift ideas for kids

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

monthly craft gift for kids  kiwi crate  teachmama.comOften people ask me for cool gift ideas for holidays and birthdays, and though I often immediately share with them my holiday gift guide (because really, it works for any time of the year!).

But when I’m away from the computer and someone asks for a quick idea for a birthday or holiday for a child, I often recommend Kiwi Crate.

Kiwi Crate is a monthly subscription gift for kids. Crafts, making, and a whole lot of cool. 

And it’s not just for girls, and it’s not just for the teenies.

It’s for all kids.

Which is why it rocks.

And right now they have a pretty sweet Kiwi Crate Black Friday Sale going on that you totes want to jump on.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Monthy Craft Gift for Kids–Kiwi Crate:

Kiwi Crate sends monthly crafts and cool, hands-on activities to kids.

 

monthly craft gift for kids: kiwi crate

monthly craft gift for kids: kiwi crate

 

Products include Koala Crate (ages 3-4 years), Kiwi Crate (4-8years), Tinker Crate (9-14 years), and Doodle Crate (9-16+ years).

Subscription Services like these are SUPER awesome gifts because not only do kids love getting mail, they love to have everything–every, single thing–they need to complete a project from start to finish in one happy little kit.

We’re shhhhhhhh ordering Kiwi Crate for our nephew this year, and I’m sure he will totally love it.

 

monthly craft gift for kids: kiwi crate

monthly craft gift for kids: kiwi crate

Though Cora is 7, she’ll turn 8 in March, so she could really love Kiwi Crate. If you’re not sure what to do, consider starting with a 6 month subscription and then re-evaluate after that time whether your child is a good fit for Kiwi Crate or wants to move up to the Doodle Crate or Tinker Crate.

I think we’ll end up going with Doodle Crate for Cora and Tinker Crate for Maddy and Owen. 

We’ve had several boxes to try out over the years from the good folks at Kiwi Crate, but we’ve never actually had it where one of my kids could actually, truly look forward to receiving it each month.

That? I think they’d love.

monthly craft gift for kids: kiwi crate

 

Especially during this time when all kids seem to want to do is be ‘plugged in’ to electronic devices, I think Doodle Crate or Tinker Crate would be great for kids Maddy and Owen’s ages, too.

These aren’t just quickie little junk projects that kids create; each set is full of hands-on, exciting, and engaging experiments or crafts. Cool things that kids will really enjoy. Several of my friends have kids who’ve used these sets, and they love them.

Check out the comparison of the Kiwi Crate Brands

monthly craft gift for kids: kiwi crate | teachmama.com

 

Doodle Crate (9- 16+) is focused on more DIY art projects.  Maddy would totally go for this one.

Tinker Crate (9-14 +) is focused on providing hands-on experiments each month.  Owen would love this, but I know Maddy and Cora would, too.

In order to keep some level of sanity in our house this year, I’m going to go with Tinker Crate for Owen so that Maddy can have Doodle Crate and Cora can have Kiwi Crate.

I cannot wait to see how it goes. And really? I’m almost 99% positive it’ll be a serious win.

 

And? Check out some super-rockstar deals for you for this holiday season:

  • Exclusive Kiwi Crate Black Friday Sale!
    • Starting today until 12/1/14, save 60% on your 1st month subscription to Kiwi Crate PLUS free shipping with code HOLIDAY60 at checkout.

 

Koala Crate >>
 

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

 

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

gifts for sunday school teachers or CCD teachers

gifts for sunday school teachers or CCD teachers, School of Religion Teachers, & Christian preschool teachers

post contains affiliate links

 

 

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

My kids have gone to SOR (School of Religion for our church and which we grew up calling CCD), for years now.

Every single week since Kindergarten, they’ve spent an hour with good people who take the time out of their lives to teach my kids what many other kids learn in Sunday School.

I’m truly thankful for these great people because I know it’s hard enough for me to teach Children’s Liturgy with a group of women on a rotating basis.

It would be a lot more work to teach a weekly religion class–that I know for sure.

But what I have just come to realize is that every year, we tend to think of those rockstar teachers last on the gift list.

I found a few things that I think our CCD, or SOR teachers will really, truly, love, and I have my friends at DaySpring to thank for making simple, sweet, and affordable products.

DaySpring has great deals for you that you will not want to miss, and honestly, if you aren’t familiar with DaySpring, you want to be.

Anything in their selection would be appreciated by Sunday School teachers, CCD teachers, or anyone you know who works in your church. Really pretty pieces.

Here’s the skinny:

  • Gifts for Sunday School Teachers or CCD Teachers:

Everything at DaySpring is really beautiful, but this year, I went with these products:

gifts for sunday school teachers or CCD teachers

gifts for sunday school teachers or CCD teachers

  • Lord Bless You 3″ Cross Keepsake Box: Originally $12.99, I got three of these for $3.99. I love the saying on the side, The Lord bless you and keep you.  Lined with felt, I think this will be an appreciated gift for the kids’ teachers.

 

 

gifts for sunday school teachers or CCD teachers

  • Jesus is the Gift, metal tray: 7″ x 7″, I think this little tray, with ‘Jesus is the gift’ engraved on it, will be perfect for small wrapped candy or jewelry. I’m betting the teachers will love it.  Originally $14.99, I grabbed three of these for $5.99 each.

 

gifts for sunday school teachers or CCD teachers

 

I also got a few extra things while on the site. I have to be honest.

I’m not sharing who they are for–I can’t guarantee who is reading this post and who’s not. . . but I will say that I got them at a great deal and I absolutely love both sets.

 

gifts for sunday school teachersI went with the Redeemed Grace Cuff, the Redeemed Everything Beautiful Earrings, the Redeemed Treasured Fashion Bracelet, and the Redeemed Grace Fashion Earrings.

All of these items were on Early Black Friday specials, so the prices were super-slashed. I couldn’t pass them up.

I know that everyone who is on the receiving end will love them.

 

Want a few more holiday-inspired learning ideas? Check out: 

 

fyi: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Forever and always I recommend only products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy. 

our favorite thanksgiving printables for BIG kids!

our favorite thanksgiving printables for BIG kids

our favorite thanksgiving printables for BIG kids!

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

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

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

They get tired.

We get tired.

They get cranky.

We get cranky.

And they need some down time.

We need some down time.

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

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Our Favorite Thanksgiving Printables–for BIG Kids:

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

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

Word searches still get kids’ brains moving a bit:

And BINGO! Big kids still dig bingo:

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

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

And I’ll take it.

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

 

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

thanksgiving pinterest board

 

 

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

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

thanksgiving veggie turkey

something has to change and it must start here–with you and with me

if we want change to happen it must start here | teachmama.com

 

I rarely write posts like this.  And this one took me much longer than I’d like to admit.

But yesterday I realized something. Something big.

It’s this: if I want change to happen, it has to start here.

I’m a mother of three kids, 10, 9, and 7 years old, and if I want change to happen, it must. Start. Here.

With me.

With my family.

Because I know that though I am only one person, my voice makes a difference.

And so does yours.

Yes, you.  No matter whether you are sitting there reading this your running car in the driveway while your baby sleeps in the back, or whether you are reading this at the counter when you should be cleaning up after dinner, it doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter if you’re reading this at your desk during your lunch break or standing at the copy machine after your students leave the building. It doesn’t matter if you’re reading this in line at the grocery store or in line at your kids’ pick-up.

It doesn’t matter if you’re reading this on the treadmill or at the park or at work or at a lunch with your girlfriends. It doesn’t matter if you work outside the home or you work inside the home.

It doesn’t matter if you work or don’t work. It doesn’t matter if you have kids or if you don’t have kids, whether you’re married or not married.

It doesn’t matter if you’re fat or skinny, tall or short, gay or straight, Muslim or Christian or atheist or Jewish.

It doesn’t matter if you breastfed or bottle fed your kids, whether you stick with organics or couldn’t care less.

It doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you are reading this.

And if you are reading this, then know this: you have a voice. And it’s time to use it.

Because if we don’t start using our voices to let others know that prejudice is not okay, that it’s not acceptable, and that it’s not to be tolerated, unacceptable things like this will continue to happen:

Seven white girls are accompanied by seven black men at a formal school dance.

And a school administrator retweeted this tweet:  @OrNahhTweets: Every white girls’ father’s worst nightmare Or Nah?

A school administrator. Retweeted. That. Tweet.

this must end

 

And this?

Check out these photos on Politicus Sports, in an articled titled White Students at St. Louis High School Wear Blackface During Football Game, by Justin Baragona:

blackface-sullivan-480x319-1

blackface-sullivan-2-480x319

 photos courtesy of http://sports.politicususa.com/ . . . please read the entire article at Sports.PoliticusUsa.com

 A powderpuff football team. Wearing blackface. At a school event. November of 2014.

 

Do these things make you feel ill? They should.

I’m not here to debate either story or situation; I’m not here to discuss details of any of the photos.  Because if it’s not these photos, it’s something else. You know it as well as I do.

What I’m here to say is that I’m tired of it.

I’m tired of what I’m seeing. I’m tired of what I’m hearing. I’m tired of what is happening, here, in our country and around the world, in 2014.

And you should be, too.

If we want change to happen, it must start here.

With you. And with me.

And though it’s easy to tsk, shake your head, and ‘like’ someone’s angry comment when they share this kind of thing on facebook, that’s not enough anymore. Because you know what? It’s not working.

We need to do more.

Clearly we need to do more if acts of prejudice like this are still occurring in and around schools in 2014. Someone, somewhere is not getting a pretty important message.

So I’m presenting a challenge to you, and I’m taking it on myself. And I’m hoping–actually, I’m praying–that it begins to make a difference.

It’ll take all of us. And goodness knows we’ll need a little luck.

change to happen | teachmama.com

But this is the thing: if we want change to happen, it must start here.

With you. And with me.

Here’s what we need to do and here’s how we can use our voice:

1. Speak up.  In any way you are able. It doesn’t matter how. Just speak up.

Speaking up may look different to all of us, depending on where we are and where we’re coming from.

And I know it’s not easy. But it’s time we start to use our voice, even if it begins with a whisper.

  • Comment on a friend’s facebook status if he or she shares an article or a link about something that feels unjust.
  • Share your own findings–articles or facts or statements that express racial prejudice or injustice–via twitter or facebook or pinterest.
  • Shake your head ‘no’ and walk away when a friend or colleague starts to share his or her prejudiced ideas. Make it clear that you do not share his or her opinions.
  • Excuse yourself from conversations where prejudiced ideas or topics are being discussed. Explain that you do not share the same feelings and that you are not comfortable with the direction the conversation is going.
  • Don’t allow racial jokes in or around your home. If neighbors, extended family, or colleagues joke this way, politely ask them to stop.

This is the thing: if we want change to happen, it must start here.

With you. And with me.

And so we will also. . .

2.Talk about tough topics. With your friends, with your kids, with your spouse.

There’s plenty of material out there, my friends.

Start with our history books.  Watch today’s news.

Talk about slavery.  But talk about how far we all have come to abolish it and to bring our country to a better place. Talk about the awful and the ugly, but talk about the bravery. Talk about power in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words. Talk about the beauty of people taking risks to support their brothers and sisters, no matter the color of their skin.

Talk about why things like the powderpuff team wearing blackface is not okay and how hurtful and careless and demeaning it is.

Talk about what’s happening in Ferguson, Missouri, and talk about the verdict once it’s shared.

Need a starting point? Black History Month Resources for Families last year. If it’s too overwhelming, just pick up Unspoken, by Henry Cole. It’s a wordless picture book about a little farm girl and a little boy, a runaway slave.  And though it doesn’t answer all questions, it can begin the dialogue for you and your children about this period in our nation’s history and how things are different today.

Talk about race with your friends. Openly and honestly. Talk about what’s happening in the news and how they feel about it. We must have the dialogue, my friends. We must open up the conversation.

And if you’re not completely comfortable with it, it’s okay.  Just be honest. Explain how you’re feeling, and as long as you’re honest and you’re coming from a peaceful place, you will be fine.

Remember that this is the thing: if we want change to happen, it must start here.

With you. And with me.

We will also come together and . . .

3. Celebrate differences.  Celebrate the fact that your children go to school with tons of different people, from all walks of life, with unique hair, skin, and eye colors.   Talk about how cool it is that some kids are preparing for their First Communions while others go to Hebrew school.  Talk about why some of them don’t celebrate their birthdays, while others get to go to Disney World each year for theirs.

Talk about how glasses help Bella see better in the same way that extra reading lessons help Alex read better.

Talk about why some kids buy lunch every day or eat breakfast at school while others bring lunch each day.

Talk about the fact that even though Carly zips through her Mad Minutes in no time flat, Mark can whistle like nobody’s business, and Maddy can do a back handspring on her own.  Lauren can recite an entire poem by heart, and Vincent can write with both hands. Everyone has different strengths; one is not better than another. They’re just different.

Talk about the fact that yes, Nina has a hard time sitting still in class, but she still deserves to learn at your school with your talented teachers.

Talk about the fact that Cole might need the teacher’s help more than the other students, but maybe that’s because his mom was busy working two jobs to put food on the table so she wasn’t able to help him with his ABCs before he got to Kindergarten.

Discuss the fact that some kids’ parents are divorced, some have two moms (or dads), some have one parent, and some are being raised by grandparents. Talk about why some kids live in a one-room apartment while others could land a small plane in their back yards, why some kids’ parents are able to help out in the classroom while others cannot.

Talk about how hard it must be for some families to attend Math Night–because English is not their first language–but how awesome it is that they came anyway. Talk about why your school must have an International Night every single year, even if it’s a homogeneous mix of students.  Make your kids read every single display there and walk around with them, talking about what you see and conversing with each family.

Fill your house with books that celebrate diversity. Read them. Share them. Read them again. Share them again.

Do all of this because really, if we want change to happen, it must start here.

With you. And with me.

Step back a bit, my friends, and . . .

4. Listen to what you say.  I mean really, truly listen to what you say.

  • Are you using derogatory racial terms but don’t even realize it? Think.  Really think hard.
  • Do you use the terms ‘gay’, ‘retarded’ or ‘ghetto’ to describe negative situations or events?
  • Are you singing songs that convey racial–or gender or any type–of stereotypes?
  • Do the programs or games in your home support stereotypes?
  • Do you express prejudice in what you say or do? In the way you interact with those around you?
  • Are you perpetuating the cycle of gossip and toxicity by contributing to negative conversations with friends and colleagues?
  • Do you welcome new people or groups to your clubs and organizations?
  • How do you respond to new ideas, to change, to revisiting old systems and processes?
  • Do you openly proclaim your faith but act in ways that are contrary to those beliefs?
  • Do your expectations for your children vary? Do you demand more from one and less from another?  Are those expectations just?
  • Do you treat your students, colleagues, or friends differently based on their race or gender? 

Just think about it. Be aware, and be brave.

Remember, if we want change to happen, it must start here.

With you. And with me.

Because we all have a voice and it’s time we used it.

Even if it starts as a whisper.

 

Thanks for hanging in with me. I know this is long, and I know it might be a lot. But you know what? I took a risk and used my voice.

Because really, something has to change, my friends. Something has to change.

 

 

fyi: One link in the post above is an “affiliate link.” 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’s16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy

must-have gifts for kids (and families!): 2014

must-have gifts for kids (and families!): teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

must have gifts for kids and families | teachmama.com

 

Friends! It’s only the second week of November but already I’ve received two dozen emails from you asking for my gift picks for this holiday season.

What should you get for your preschool nephew?

What does your second grader absolutely need this year?

What will your tween totally love you forever if she receives?

How about your babysitter, your mother-in-law, or your sisters?

Right! I love this time of the year, and I love gift-giving.

And I’m so flattered you care about what I think.  I am so excited to share!

I’m trying and have finally assembled it all: the must-have gifts for kids and families 2014.

And though I usually can shove all of our faves into one happy post, this year? Not so much.

So yes–here are the must-have gifts for kids and families. Our holiday picks.

But we’ve also got our Must-Have Gifts that Give Back and Must-Have Books as Gifts posts, too.

So hold onto your seats.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Must-Have Gifts for Kids (and Families!)–2014:

must-have gifts for kids and families BABIES 2014

For our teeniest teenies:  (babies – first year)

  • Match & Build Soft Blocks by Melissa & Doug K’s Kids: Soft blocks with patterns, numbers, letters, and more.  Perfect for any new baby’s first holiday.

best gifts for kids family 2 to 4 | teachmama.com

For the little guys:  (ages 2-4)

  • Deluxe Pounding Bench by Melissa & Doug:  My sisters have been eyeing this set for their boys for a while now. I know that my nephews will love this.
  • Cool Rain gear: I loved having super cute rain boots, raincoats, and umbrellas for Maddy, Owen, and Cora when they were tiny.  Kidorable has sweet patterns for little ones, like the lady bugs, frogs, and fire trucks. [Use coupon code UMBFR and add a FREE umbrella to your $20.00 purchase. You need over $20 without umbrella cost. YAY!]
  • Personalized Cozy Chair: Every kiddo in my family gets his or her own personalized reading chair when they turn two. Really. And honestly, the kids love ‘their’ chair so much that often they become their ‘go-to’ cozy spot for reading, relaxing, and playing.  You don’t have to go crazy here, but you can if you’d like. Check out these chairs that I adore from The Land of Nod; they start at $99, and they’re the perfect holiday gift!
  • Personalized Story Books: We have had personalized story books for our kids for as long as I can remember. Every kiddo needs to feel like he or she is the star, and seeing a first name in print will do the trick! Love these from Frecklebox.
  • Spot-It: Super little game for kiddos with super-sharp eyes, we have had Spot-It for years and still pull it out often to play. Love. This. Game.
  • Play-Doh Fun Factory Deluxe: All kids need Play-Doh, and all kids need a play center where they can make Play-Doh spaghetti and snakes.
  • Role Play Sets: I’ve gone on and on about the benefits of pretend play, even as recently as this fall. Cora loved the Magician Role Play set, and she had a blast entertaining her pals on the soccer sidelines. I highly recommend any of the Melissa & Doug role play sets for little ones; they’re perfect for getting those imaginations going strong!

 

 

best gifts for kids and families 5 to 7 | teachmama.com

For the bigger guys:  (ages 5-7)

  • Order’s Up! Diner Play Set or School Time! Play Set: We had a chance to try both of these sets this year, and they are totally and completely adore them both. Both sets are like little treasure boxes of fun. Everything that kids need to play a full game of diner–from cooking to serving and eating the goodies–and everything kids need to play school–from lesson planning to learning to grade reporting–is included.
  • National Geographic 24 in 1 Space:  There’s a Dinosaur set with this collection, too, and both are awesome. Kids build things that actually light up, and each set has a ton of different objects to build, so kids aren’t limited to a once-and-done thing.
  • Personalized Bean Bag Chair: Though my kids’ aren’t personalized (poor kids!) they do have beanbag chairs and love them. Owen plops down on his while playing video games, and everyone uses the bean bag chair in our book nook.
  • PlusPlus Building Blocks: These? So cool. Picture tiny little plus signs made out of plastic. They come in a zillion colors, and kids simply use them to build 2D or 3D objects. Very cool. Popular in Denmark, I think, but may be tricky for little ones who aren’t super savvy with their fine motor skills.
  • Deluxe Roominate: I actually met the gals behind this product at both Toy Fair and at a Radio Shack event this summer, and honestly? They’re awesome–the inventors and the products. Created by two women, an electrical engineer and a mechanical engineer, who wanted better toys for girls, this whole line is geared toward bringing girls into engineering. The Roominate products are a blend of hands-on building and circuits. So totally awesome.

best gifts for kids and family 8 to 11 | teachmama.com

For the biggest guys and gals: (ages 8-11)

  • GoldieBlox and the Builder’s Survival Kit: We’ve written about our love of GoldieBlox, but I seriously continue to share the GoldieBlox love to anyone who will listen. We love this set, and it’s a super gift for our tween girls.
  • littleBits Electronics Kits: I was introduced to these kits at a Radio Shack event our family attended this summer, and my kids absolutely were in awe of them, as were my husband and I. There are several options here, but each one of the kits involves kids actually playing with light, sound, sensors, and energy–without the hazard of soldering.  Young ‘makers’ could do a ton with the Base Kit, but I’d probably think about getting the littleBits Electronics Deluxe Kit for all three kids to share.
  • Zing Bow and Arrow Set: Owen received two of these sets for his August birthday and loves them. He and the neighborhood kids play with them for hours. The only problem is that they come only with three arrows.  For Christmas, we’re getting Owen the target and extra arrows.
  • Gravity Maze: My kids have totally loved playing with this new game from ThinkFun that is literally a marble run and logic puzzle all in one. So cool.
  • Skallops: From E & M Labs, these are crazy little wood clips that actually hold playing cards together so that you can build structures with playing cards. Remember Marcia and Greg’s card tower from way back when? Our lucky kids have it so easy. No dangling bracelet will knock this tower down!
  • Crayola Virtual Design Pro-Fashion Set: This would be a huge hit for Maddy and Cora, I know. I saw it at Toy Fair this year, and I was in awe of how absolutely awesome it was. Combines traditional coloring with graphic design, and then it all comes to life in an app. Sounds involved, but it’s not. Simple and so cool.

 

best gifts for kids and family  stockings  teachmama.com

For stockings:

  • Fandango Gift Cards: Going to the movies is such fun for kids, but it does get expensive after you add it all up. We’re huge Fandango fans over here, so gift cards will definitely be stocking stuffers for my three, okay, Santa?
  • Amazon Gift Cards: My kids are becoming savvy shoppers, so Amazon gift cards are a big win for them, since they can find just about anything their little hearts desire over there.  Even Aero for Maddy, Game Stop for Owen, and Charming Charlie for Cora would be a huge win.
  • Tenzie: It’s a fast frenzie. . . it’s TENZIE! One of our most favorite summertime games, Tenzie is a dice game. With a million, trillion options for play.   Pair it with the 77 Ways to Play Tenzie book, and it’s a perfectly awesome game for kids of all ages.
  • Word-A-Round: Love this game from ThinkFun. Word-A-Round is a little tricky, but basically it’s words in a circle and you have to figure out what the word is. Fun for everyone. It’s my personal fave because (cough) it’s the only game I’m able to beat Owen in at this point.
  • Create super-cute custom bracelets, necklaces, and rings for your kids at My Bling Place: LOVE these and they’re surprisingly affordable!
  • Tooth brushes: Not sure why, but we always had tooth brushes in our stockings. And so do my kids.

For families:

  • Trampoline: I can barely believe I’m sharing this, but our kids have begged and pleaded for a trampoline in our back yard for so many years, that I finally think we might cave. I think we might cave. I know they’d love it. But I’m not sure I will be able to handle it.   The Skywalker 15 ft round trampoline comes with very high reviews, as does the much smaller Skywalker 8 ft round trampoline. I secretly with my kids were small enough to fit the Little Tykes 3 ft trampoline, but that one would be a better match for our tiny nephews.
  • Tumble Trak: My kids have wanted a mat like this–one they can practice their flips on–for months and months. It is a super gift for kids in gym, cheer, or tumble classes!
  • Subscription Services:
    • Kiwi Crate sends monthly crafts and cool, hands-on activities to kids. Packages include Koala Crate (ages 3-4 years), Kiwi Crate (4-8 years), Tinker Crate (9-14 years), and Doodle Crate (9-16+ years). Subscription Services like these are SUPER awesome gifts because kids are thinking, moving, and creating. They love these.
  • Little Passports is another fun subscription service, and this one focuses more on teaching kids about the world around them. Early Explorers (ages 3-5 years), World Edition, (5-10 years), and USA Edition, (7-12 years) has something for just about every kid on your list!
  • Playstation 4 Destiny Bundle or XBox OneOur kids have played our Wii long and hard for the past five years. Five years. So we’re thinking it’s time to move on since at this point there are no new games being made for the Wii. I’m keeping my eyes open for a good deal on the Playstation 4 or an Xbox One.  Any advice? I’d love to hear it!

That’s not even it.  I’m on such a roll and I know there are like a million awesome things that I’m forgetting.

 

Want a few rockstar deals on some of these products and more?

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 Subscribe to teachmama.com and have access to our super-special holiday deals page. So fun.

 

Also check out: 

gifts that give back  teachmama.com

 

must have book gifts for the whole family  teachmama.com

 

Need a bit more inspiration?

Check out our gift guides of years past. Though the dates have changed, the suggestions are still some of our faves.

Click on the picture for the link:

teach mama gift guide 2013

 

gift guide teach mama

Want a few more holiday-inspired learning ideas? Check out: 

 

 

 

fyi: We did receive some of these products from companies to try, but the large majority were purchased (or will be purchased!) by our family on our own dime.  I do work with some of the companies above, but I also work with a ton more that I didn’t mention.  As always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my experiences as a parent and educator. I’m sharing the best of the best here–our faves.

 

must have gifts for kids and family teachmama.com 2

 

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’s16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy