how to do a family fondue night: special occasion dinner

how to do a family fondue night: special occasion dinner

post contains affiliate links

 

 

family fondue night  teachmama.com 2

 

Our family has longtime been a fan of the fondue night.

It’s a tradition for us to make this dinner on New Year’s Day and Valentine’s Day, and often the kids will choose to have fondue for their birthday dinner as well.

Fondue is a lot of fun, but I must be clear: it’s not just a dinner–it’s an event.

It takes time to shop for fondue, prep fondue, and slowly enjoy fondue. And one huge plus is that although it sounds fancy, it’s really pretty simple.

We often rock it out with a 3-course dinner: cheese fondue, broth fondue, and chocolate fondue.

Yum, yum, and yum.

Here’s the skinny. . .

How to Do a Family Fondue Night–Special Occasion Dinner:  

First things first.

You need a fondue set to make this happen. 

And you could go super simple and electric where the heating element is plugged in:

(Below is the Cuisinart Electric Fondue Maker.)

how to do a family fondue night: special occasion dinner

Or you could go super simple and stay traditional, where the heating source is a fire gel or something similar:

(Like the ExcelSteel Fondue Set below.)

family fondue night  teachmama.com traditional pot

And depending on the size of your family, you may want to get two sets so that you all can cook simultaneously.

Because think about it: two fondue forks each, times a family of five, equals ten fondue forks. All in one pot. That’s a lot of forks.

family fondue night  teachmama.com many pots

Pictured above:

Anything you choose, you want to make sure that you have a decent fondue pot and fondue forks.  I got lucky one year and found a pot at our local thrift shop, so it’s worth checking out.

Once you have the proper equipment, then you can decide on the menu.

One thing I love about fondue is that everyone can help with just about every step in some way, shape or form. 

Get the kids involved! 

Have them:

  • help you plan the menu;
  • help create the shopping list;
  • set the table;

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.comhow to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

  • design table cards;
  • break the bread (can be hand torn if kids are too small to cut);
  • cut the vegetables, fruit, or bread;
  • decide on a fun sparkly drink (we like Shirley Temples in fancy glasses for the kids!);
  • organize the forks (everyone must be assigned a color!); or
  • design the layout of dipping sauces.

The possibilities are endless.

Then start cooking!

We usually go with a 3-course fondue event: cheese, broth, and chocolate.

There are a million ways to make fondue, but we’ve created super-super simple recipes with mild flavors that really suit our children’s increasingly adventurous palates.

The cool thing about fondue is that you can really kick up the flavors in simple ways.

Want a little more edgy cheese fondue? Choose sharper cheeses, add some cooking wine or hot sauce.

Want your meets to have more of a kick? Consider dipping the cooked pieces in fun and crazy sauces. Our standbys are barbecue, teriyaki, steak, and cocktail sauce.

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

Course 1: cheese fondue

Ingredients

2 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese

2 cups shredded Swiss or Gruyere cheese

½ cup beer (really–the alcohol will cook off!) or white cooking wine

salt & pepper to taste

For dipping: French bread, apple slices, pre-cooked carrots or broccoli

Directions

1.     Start pot on stovetop. Mix ingredients over med-low heat until melted. Move to fondue stand.

2.     Dip the chosen dippers into the melted cheese.

3.     Enjoy!

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

Course 2: broth fondue

Ingredients

4-8 cups of chicken broth (usually buy two 32oz packages)

1 T Tastefully Simple Spinach and Herb Mix or other seasoned mix

salt and pepper to taste

For dipping: raw shrimp (peeled, de-veined), chicken, beef, salmon, potatoes, veggies cleaned and cut into bite-sized pieces

Sauces for dipping: barbecue, teriyaki, steak, cocktail sauce, Ranch, etc.

Directions

1.     Start pot on stovetop. Mix broth and seasoning over medium heat until 375 degrees (just below boiling). Move to fondue stand.

2.     Put meat or veggie on skewer and dip into broth.  Meat and veggies will cook in this broth, so it’s imperative that you pay attention to cooking times.

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

Some helpful fondue-making hints:

  • Keep all raw foods on the same plate;
  • Color coordinate fondue forks so that no one gets mixed up;
  • Move cooked food directly to your own plate, take it off of the fondue fork, and eat with your own regular fork;
  • If you have super-hungry kids, make a quick side dish for them to munch on while foods cook;
  • Be over cautious–over-cook vs under cook foods;
  • Pre-cook veggies to speed up cooking time.

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

family fondue night | teachmama.com cooking times

Want to check out the coolest fondue cooking timer ever? This is a riot: The Melting Pot Fondue Timer.

We’ll totally pull it out on our iPad next time we’re making fondue!

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

Course 3: chocolate fondue

Ingredients

1 bag semi-sweet milk chocolate chips

1 bag milk chocolate chips

½ cup warm heavy cream

½ cup peanut butter

For dipping: strawberries, banana, marshmallows, pound cake, cheesecake cut into bite-sized pieces

Directions

1.     Start pot on stovetop. Mix ingredients over medium heat until melted. Move to fondue stand.

2.     Dip strawberries, banana, marshmallows, pound cake, cheesecake, cookies cut into bite-sized pieces into chocolate and enjoy!

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

 

Fondue is a super-fun, memory building event for families.

It’s one of our family traditions. It’s special.

There’s no reason to be fearful of fondue because you can really take it as small–or as large–as you’d like. If you don’t want to go nuts with three courses, cleaning up and washing the pots in between, then just do the cheese fondue as a side for a regular dinner.

Or do the broth fondue as your main course and rice or noodles as a side.

The chocolate fondue is always a super idea for a special dessert, for any occasion.

 

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

 

Do you want our recipes?

Know that they are not perfect, but they work for us. Season and adjust to your liking.

family fondue night | teachmama.com recipes

You can download our Family Fondue Night Recipes here as a pdf: fondue dinner recipe _ teachmama.com

(If you choose to share this post–and we hope you do!– please link to this post and not the attachment page! Thank you!)

 

Because there’s so much cutting involved in fondue prep, if you think you or your kids need a little refresher on proper knife techniques, try this: Complete Knife Skills, with Brendan McDermott (FREE mini-course!)

We’re giving it a go for Valentine’s Day, though we’re going for the Complete Knife Skills with Brendan McDermott

It’s better than candy in our family!

And that’s it–a family favorite, for sure!

 

 

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

valentine’s day heart bingo

valentine heart bingo teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

valentine's day heart bingo super-easy and fun for home or class parties | teachmama.com

 

This is so funny–I created this bingo game ages and ages ago but never really shared it.

So?

Here it is: Valentine’s Day Heart Bingo.

Super-basic and similar in layout and design as our Halloween Ghost Bingo, but, of course, all Valentinesy and lovey.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Valentine’s Day Heart Bingo:

This is a great one to print out and use for classroom parties, for playdates, or for any time that works for you.

It’s a good, calm-down bingo game with a Valentine’s Day theme.

valentine's day heart bingo super-easy and fun for home or class parties | teachmama.com

valentine's day heart bingo super-easy and fun for home or class parties | teachmama.com

 

Valentine’s Day HEART Bingo can be downloaded and shared here: valentines day HEART bingo | teachmama.com

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

What you need to play:

Prepare to play! 

To prepare the game, all you need to do is print it. Then give each person a board and some bingo markers.

valentine's day heart bingo - teach mama

To play, the bingo caller rolls the die or flips the card.  Instead of the big bingo roller in the normal bingo game, we used the die or we used the small cards with letters H-E-A-R-T on them. This is how we decided which column the card would be under.

Then the bingo caller flips a small card to show players which object should be covered.  I created a small set of these cards and a larger set. The larger set has the name of the word written below the picture.

Bingo caller can say something like,

Okay, I flipped ‘H’ and the ‘fire heart’. Everyone look for the ‘fire heart’ under ‘H’–it looks like this. . .

Sweet! We’ve got an ‘E’ and the ‘happy guy’.  Who has it? The ‘happy guy’ looks like this. . .

Okay friends, we’re looking at the ‘R’ column and the ‘love face’. This is everyone’s favorite. Who has the ‘love face’ under the ‘R’?

Remember, the first one with five in a row, shout ‘HEART’!!!

valentine's day heart bingo - teach mama

valentine's day heart bingo - teach mama

Especially for early readers, seeing the picture and reading the name is a better way of learning words and letter sounds.

And mention it, too, as you go. There’s really no harm in pointing to the words as you say them. Reminding kids that ‘heart’ is spelled H-E-A-R-T and that the winner needs to shout ‘heart’ instead of bingo!

Hey–if they learn nothing during this game other than how to spell ‘heart’, it’s a win. Heart’s a difficult word, friends.

And, like all bingo, the winner is the first player to have five objects covered in a row.

valentine's day heart bingo - teach mama

 

Or you can get crazy and play 4 Corners (each corner covered), Blackout (full board covered), or Small Square (small box of two on top and two below covered).

Whatever works, whatever you need.

Happy playing!

Want a few more fun Valentine’s Day ideas? Check out: 

valentine's day class party ideas

how to throw a rockstar valentine's day party teachmama.com 2

 

valentine's day class party ideas, 2.0 | 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

christmas guess the word game

holiday guess the word game teachmama.com

christmas guess the word game | teachmama.com

My kids are basically a captive audience at breakfast, and they have been for a long, long time.

Whether they’re staring at the cereal boxesreading the newspaper, chatting grammar, or doing brain teasers, it always seems like they are waiting for some sort of activity while they throw back their Cheerios or waffles.

Because they love the Guess the Word Game that we play at their Halloween class parties, we made a holiday version.

I like the simplicity of this activity, it’s mobility, and the many different ways you can adjust the rules.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Christmas Guess the Word Game:

The premise of this game is super-simple: one person holds up a card with a word on it and tries to guess what it is.

christmas guess the word game | teachmama.com

 

christmas guess the word game | teachmama.com

But here’s the thing: the card holder does not look at the word.

And everyone else gives one-word clues to help the person guess it.

We play in a few variations:

  • the fewer words it takes to guess, the better;
  • the person who can guess the most words in row wins;
  • for a challenge: all of the clues must begin with the same letter; or
  • all of the clues must rhyme with the word on the card;
  • add a timer.

christmas guess the word game | teachmama.com

christmas guess the word game | teachmama.com

Fun, simple.

And when the kids help me generate a list, sure, they know what’s coming, but it’s still fun.

They feel more a part of the game when they are the co-creators.

Want to download the cards?

The Christmas Guess the Word Game is here to download as a pdf if you’d like: christmas party word guess game

The last page is blank so you can add your own!

(If you choose to share this post, super! Please just link to this post instead of the attachment page, though! Thank you!)

 christmas guess the word game christmas party word guess game

 

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

Follow along on pinterest:

 

Follow amy mascott @teachmama’s board christmas ideas for kids and family on Pinterest.

 

homemade ornaments for digital kids

homemade ornaments for digital kids

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

My kids are getting older.homemade ornaments for digital kids | teachmama.com

At 11, 9, and 7, they needed a little something different this year in order to get them excited about ornament-making.

And I think I found it.

In all things they do they’re like most kids.

They want to have control.

They want freedom.

They want to know I have faith in their ability.

So I created ornaments for digital kids–ornaments that any ‘digital kid’ would totally dig because they combine their tech-savviness and some hands-on, old-school crafting.

I’m sure all of the aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents will love them.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Homemade Ornaments for Digital Kids:

I love school pictures. I don’t care how ugly or funny they are, I just love them.

I think they’re classic in a nerdy and silly way, so I often try to use them for holiday gifts for family.

homemade ornaments for digital kids | teachmama.com

 

Sure, I love the natural, outdoor, casual shots of family, too, but there’s something about school pictures that have always made me laugh a little.

Plus I think they’re even more fun to edit than other shots.

So for ornament-making for digital kids, what you’ll need is:

homemade ornaments for digital kids | teachmama.com

homemade ornaments for digital kids | teachmama.com

 

And because Maddy, Owen, and Cora knew from the Advent Activity Calendar that today was the day to finish up holiday gifts for family, they knew from the start that they’d be crafting in some way, shape, or form today.

So when I said, Hey guys, let’s meet in the kitchen in five minutes to get our craft on, they were cool.

homemade ornaments for digital kids | teachmama.com collage

homemade ornaments for digital kids | teachmama.com

(This one did not pass the ‘okay for family’ test)

I said, So today we’re going to start–and finish–our photo ornaments for aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. But we’re not just going to slap some glitter on the ornaments and call it a day.

Instead, you guys are going to do some serious digital creating. You are going to be the ones to put together your photos in any way you’d like. All I ask is that you make it so that we can clearly see your faces on each one. And each ornament needs to have all three of you on them, okay?

The kids had worked with PicMonkey before, so they were pretty psyched.

homemade ornaments for digital kids | teachmama.com

homemade ornaments for digital kids | teachmama.com

Like I said, it always seems that my kids are game to do things like this when I give them control, freedom, and my faith in them.

So all I did was load PicMonkey on each computer–my laptop, the chromebook, and my husband’s computer. And I put all three of the kids’ photos on a zip drive, then I loaded them into each computer.

homemade ornaments for digital kids | teachmama.com

On PicMonkey, very simply, I set the kids up for success. I didn’t want them to frustrate, I just wanted them to have fun creating. To get them started, I:

  1. Went to ‘Design’
  2. Chose the square
  3. Made the background white
  4. Clicked on the butterfly (for overlays) on the left sidebar
  5. Clicked ‘Your Own’ to add my own overlay
  6. Added each of the kids’ school photos to the blank square
  7. Let. Them. At. It!

homemade ornaments for digital kids | teachmama.com

homemade ornaments for digital kids | teachmama.com

I taught the kids how to use PicMonkey for their ornaments.

They simply went to the little snowflake for Themes and some highlights of each Theme. I showed them how to add Santa beards, hats, and snowflakes.

I showed them how combining elements (clicking the little stack of papers with the arrow pointing down, right next to the gear on the top right of the screen) allows you to use Touch-Ups (click the lipstick), Effects (click the wand), or Frames (click the frame).

They figured out how to add text and change color, font, and size.  They figured out how to add elements, change the background, and do more than I probably know, even after two years of using the platform.

homemade ornaments for digital kids | teachmama.com

 

homemade ornaments for digital kids | teachmama.com

 

Owen really got comfortable using the Halloween-inspired overlays.

He begged me to let him make an ornament of his face all morphed and crazy, but I told him that he’d most definitely give his grandparents a heart attack and make his little cousins have nightmares for years.

PicMonkey is super-easy to use, and though you don’t need the ‘royal’ features, I use it often enough that the royal features are way worth it for me. And now that the kids are more fluid in it, they can use it for school projects, invitations, or fun. I love it.

After the kids finished, I saved their ornaments onto the zip drives and moved them onto my computer. Then I added each of them to one word document. I made two columns and resized each ornament to 2.1″ x 2.1″.  Our ornaments were tiny, but I wanted the whole thing to fit.

 

homemade ornaments for digital kids | teachmama.com

homemade ornaments for digital kids | teachmama.com

 

We printed their creations on white card stock and then we got to the crafty-crafty part.

We grabbed our blank ornaments, divvied up the family members who we needed to create for, and got working.

 

homemade ornaments for digital kids | teachmama.com

Creating the ornament was super-simple. 

1.  We mod podged one whole coat on the blank ornaments.

2. We added the photo and all of the sequins and bling we wanted.

3.  We let them dry.

4.  We mod podged over top of everything.   Sparkle mod podge added a bit more bling, so some went that route.

5.  We wrote ‘Maddy, Owen, and Cora 2014′ on the back with black sharpie and mod podged over the whole back.

6. We added a fancy ribbon, and we were finished!

homemade ornaments for digital kids | teachmama.com

 

homemade ornaments for digital kids | teachmama.com

 

And that’s it.

Super cute, super exciting for the kids, and super-beautiful when finished!

The most important thing? Maddy, Owen, and Cora were honing their ‘digital kid’ photo editing skills at the same time they were making something really cool for family members.

It makes gift-giving all the more fun and meaningful when kids are excited to share this way.

 

 

 

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

enjoy the holiday: gingerbread houses & giving back at Make Meaning Bethesda Row

enjoy the holiday: teachmama.com

sponsored post

 

 

 

The holiday season is busy–busy.enjoy the holiday: gingerbread houses & giving back at Make Meaning Bethesda Row

But it’s so important that we take time every so often to breathe.

I mean really, truly breathe.

Enjoy time with friends.

Enjoy time with family.

And enjoy time spent doing holiday activities that we love.

Who cares if the laundry’s piled up, the house is a wreck, and dinner’s cold by the time everyone’s at the table?

Not I! (Not this month, at least. . . )

This week, I had the opportunity to enjoy the holiday a bit with some local friends, and it reminded me of how important it is to carve time out of our busy schedules to do just that–enjoy time together.

I’m betting that there are tons of holiday crafty-fun options no matter where you are; calling the local recreation department or library is a great place to start.

Even if you just invite a friend or two over for hot cocoa while you address holiday cards? It’s something. It’s still time together.

If you’re local to the DC Metro area, though, I have a great option for you. It’s totally affordable, super-sweet, and it packs a powerful punch.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Enjoy the Holiday–Gingerbread Houses and Giving Back at Make Meaning Bethesda Row:

Make Meaning is an entertainment and events destination focused on fun with creativity. They offer a ton of hands-on activities including cake decorating ,glass making, soap making, jewelry making, candle making, ceramics and book making for kids and adults of all ages.

enjoy the holiday: gingerbread houses & giving back

 

enjoy the holiday: gingerbread houses & giving back

enjoy the holiday: gingerbread houses & giving back

 

When we visited Make Meaning in Bethesda this week, we decorated Gingerbread Houses.

The kids (and adults!) loved it. We had an absolute blast, and I cannot wait to return.

Check out some Instagram shots of our night:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And? The insane thing is that they’re running a super promo: from December 15-24th, you can decorate one Gingerbread House for $9.99 (regularly $49.99).

So really, that’s a great deal. Remember, it’s about carving out time for you.

It’s taking time out of your schedule to be with friends and family and to enjoy time together–no matter what you decide to do.

enjoy the holiday: gingerbread houses & giving back

 

enjoy the holiday: gingerbread houses & giving back

The deets on the Make Meaning Bethesda Row Gingerbread House deal:

  • Limit one per person and while supplies last. Space is limited. First come, first served. No reservation necessary.
  • Valid weekdays only. Monday 10a-5p, Tuesday-Friday 10a-7p
  • This promo is special only for our readers, but you can share the coupon with others. SO YAY! (You won’t find info on the Make Meaning website.)
  • Here’s the coupon. Download and print: Make Meaning Bethesda Gingerbread House Special

 

make meaning bethesda

And?

When a Make Meaning activity is purchased during the weekdays between 12/8-24, an activity is also provided to a child at The Children’s Inn at NIH.

I love, love, love that.

So you’re enjoying time with friends and family, crafting and creating, and then Make Meaning donates an activity to children who are out of their element, far from home, and most likely not feeling too well.

It’s the very least we can do.

 

http://www.childrensinn.org/

 

So that’s it–just a really nice evening spent away from work, school, and everyday chaos, enjoying time with family and friends.

How will you enjoy the holiday? Do you have time set aside this month for family? Friends? Would love to know because the more we talk about stepping away and doing things that make us happy, the better!

 

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: This is a sponsored post, on behalf of One 2 One Network and Make Meaning, Bethesda Row. 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

I am thankful for our friends at Make Meaning, Bethesda Row and to One 2 One Network for including me in this exciting campaign!

advent activity calendar: fun, festive family holiday time

advent activity calendar teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

advent activity calendar | teachmama.comIt’s that time of year again–time for our Advent Activity Calendar!

Our Advent Activity Calendar is something we’ve been doing for the last four years, where we very simply plan a fun, festive, family holiday activity for each day of December.

Nothing fancy, crazy, or over-the-top–these are simple, small holiday pleasures that we pencil into this very busy month so that we don’t pass them by.

Giving activities, family activities, indoor and outdoor activities.  Solo activities and group activities.  Messy and not-so-messy activities.

Activities that need prep–and many that don’t.

Our focus is simple: to enjoy every possible minute of our favorite month of the year.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  •  Advent Activity Calendar: Fun, Festive Family Holiday Time:  We kept a lot of our old faves, and we added a few new activities.

 But essentially our Advent Activity Calendar is just that–ours, and it incorporates what our family values and appreciates during the holidays:

  • baking cookies
  • helping others
  • decorating
  • singing, dancing
  • Christmas specials
  • family time
  • making memories and remembering past holidays.

advent activity calendar: fun, festive family holiday time

Pick out our Christmas tree and decorate it!

Printing out two copies makes remembering activities a tad bit easier!

advent activity calendar

advent activity calendar

advent activity calendar

advent activity calendar

I print out a copy of the calendar to keep on hand for myself, and then I cut each of the squares out of the calendar and place them in our felt Christmas tree–something I picked up at the store years ago but something that you can find just about anywhere.  

(Check the bottom of the post for some ideas!)

You could make your own or do what several of my friends have done.  They’ve cut apart the squares of each calendar day and

  • put each square in a numbered envelope that their children decorate;
  • wrapped each in a tiny box that kiddos can unwrap each day;
  • hidden the square under a place mat at breakfast;
  • taped the square on the bathroom mirror;
  • used the chocolate Advent calendar and stuck the squares in each of the windows so kids get chocolate and an activity.

Either way, here’s the calendar to download either as we have it here, or feel free to adjust as you see fit:

Advent Activity Calendar, download as a pdf here: advent activity calendar 2014

Advent Activity Calendar, download as a word doc here: advent activity calendar 2014

Please, if you choose to share, link to this post instead of the calendar attachment! Thank you!

advent activity calendar | teachmama.com
advent activity calendar 2014

 

Here’s to a happy Advent season and to really appreciating this exciting and joyful time with family!

 

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

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

movie-inspired costume contest: win $500 and movie tickets for a year!

movie-inspired costume contest: win $500 and movie tickets for a year!

sponsored post

 

 

affiliate links used in this post

 

 

movie-inspired costume contest | teachmama.comI love it when I can share things with my readers that are really, truly cool and easy.

We’re busy. We need easy.

And I know with quite a bit of certainty that many of us are gearing up for Halloween this week.

And I also know with quite a bit of certainty that many of us are dressing our kids as Minions, Elsa, Anna, Olaf, or the good ole storm troopers or Dorothy from Wizard of Oz standby.

Because we’re all connected, and we’re all snapping photos of our cutie-pies all decked out in their Halloween gear, why not share a photo with our friends from Fandango for a chance to win $500 and a full year of movie tickets for your family? 

Seriously. I’m not even kidding.

Easy peasy, and I’d love, love, love to see one of my readers win!

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Movie-Inspired Costume Contest–Win $500 and Movie Tickets for A Year:

Really, this is not the kind of contest where you need to film a short testimonial (who has time for that?!) or create a killer diorama out of Peeps.

It’s easy.

So do it!

movie-inspired costume contest:

Here’s how you can rock the movie costume contest:

  • Post your picture on Instagram.  (Need a little Instagram refresher? Got you covered.)
  • Use a category hashtag:  (Just include the hashtag # and whatever category your costume fits)
    • #FandangoFamilyContestOriginal
    • #FandangoFamilyContestSpooky
    • #FandangoFamilyContestSuperHero
    • #FandangoFamilyContestAnimated
  • Follow AND tag @Fandango on Instagram.
  • Have questions? Ask me! I want you to win!

That’s it!movie-inspired costume contest: teachmama.com

Any guesses as to which awesome late ’80’s movie we were rocking at a recent 80’s fundraiser?

Want to learn more about the contest and see some current entries? Check out the Fandango Family My Movie Costume page.

What do you think? If you enter, please let me know!

 

fyi: I am proud to be a part of the Fandango Family Digital Network and will share a movie-related post quarterly. 

Affiliate links are used in this post.

quandary: video game for improving decision-making skills

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

sponsored post

 

 

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

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

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

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

It’s interesting. It’s different.

And it really gets kids thinking.

Here’s the skinny. . .

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

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

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

But this one really, truly does.

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

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

Fast facts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Overall, Owen liked that:

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

Owen wishes that:

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

quandary: video game for improving decision-making skills

I liked that:

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

halloween printable games for kids

halloween printable games for kids

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

Need two quickie Halloween games for your kids?halloween printable games  teachmama.com

Maybe for a Halloween class party or for some after school fun?

Want to up the fun factor of a playdate or just get a little more into the Halloween spirit?

Here are two Halloween printable games for kids that my kids liked and that we’ll be using for class parties this year.

Simple but fun. Tic-tac-toe and Halloween Follow-the-Path.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Halloween Printable Games for Kids:

Half the battle of sneaking in some fun learning for our kids is knowing where to look for things.

And that goes for class parties and church parties and playgroup parties as well.

halloween printable games | teachmama.com

halloween printable games | teachmama.com

So when I became a room parent for the 6580987420 millionth time this year, I decided I was just going to share anything and everything I make. Because really? No need to reinvent the wheel.

And no need to make things difficult for good people who really just want to make things fun for their kids.

halloween printable games | teachmama.com

halloween printable games | teachmama.com

Two games. Super simple.

  • Bat Follow-the-Path Game: Players begin at the upper lefthand block and take turns rolling the dice to see how far they go on each turn. Winner gets bat to his family first!

Download our Bat Follow-the-Path Game here: follow the path game halloween

(Please, if you decide to share, share this post and not the attachment page!)

halloween printable games | teachmama.com

  • Tic-Tac-Toe:  Just like the game we all know and love, but this one uses Halloween stamps!

We’ve long played Tic-Tac-Toe in our own way with our own flare–this time, we’re rocking it out with a little Halloween fun.

halloween printable games | teachmama.com

halloween printable games | teachmama.com

Download our Tic-Tac-Toe boards here: tictactoe board | teachmama.com

(Please, if you decide to share, share this post and not the attachment page!)

 And that’s it!

Super-simple, totally fun games that you can print on regular paper or cardstock, use, and enjoy.

Need some more? Got a couple Halloween class parties planned for you here:  

 (No joke. . . you can thank me later! Just click the picture!)

 

halloween party ideas for kids and classrooms | teachmama.com

 

 

halloween class party ideas

Want a few more fun halloween party ideas?

 

 

fyi: Affiliate links are used in this post, which means that every time you purchase something using one of our links, we get at teeny, tiny percentage of the sale. so. . . thank you for using them, friends!