frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids

frozen birthday party games, crafts, and more  teachmama.com.png

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kidsI’m singing ‘Let it gooooo, let it gooooooo. . . ‘ now, as I realize that this post was to have gone live three months ago, and it’s just happening now.

After our rockstar Frozen birthday for Cora, well. . . life got in the way. So here it is.

The companion post to our Frozen snowball tower post, here’s our Frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids.

It’s everything else we did for Cora’s Frozen birthday–the crafts we made, the activities, and everything that made it awesome.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Frozen Birthday Party–Best Ideas for Crafty Kids:

Cora knew what she wanted to do from the start–she wanted to have a Frozen birthday and watch the movie with her friends.

But I knew that we needed a little bit more than just the movie for her party.

Cora knew from the start that she wanted to watch the movie Frozen, so that was one of the main activities she wanted. But she also wanted to do crafts. Big kid crafts because really? Her friends were seven after all.

We came up with a two craft party plan: 1. make-your-own cozy fleece blanket; and 2. Frozen sparkly bracelets.

Here’s the skinny:

  • Make-Your-Own Cozy Fleece Blanket: We thought these would be fun so that the girls could get all comfy while they watched the movie, and they’d have a usable gift to take home after the event.

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids | teachmama.com

 

Plus, Owen made a fleece pillow at one of his buddy’s parties a few months back, and I loved, loved the idea.

My amazing mother-in-law helped me a ton with the fleece blanket part of this party because she’s not only a crafty crafter, but she’s a math whiz.

For our blankets, because we were using them as party favors, we really did want to keep cost in mind.  Fleece comes in different weights or thicknesses and can vary greatly in price. We wanted ours to be nice but we knew we didn’t need super-high end here.

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids | teachmama.com

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids | teachmama.com

We bought 7 yards of solid fabric and 7 yards of print fabric.  The solid fabric was less expensive, at $3/ yard and the heavier weight print was on sale for $6/ yard.

We made two blankets/ 2 yards with each blanket using a total of two different pieces of fleece—a top and bottom, a solid and a print.

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids | teachmama.com

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids | teachmama.com

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids | teachmama.com

If you want to print out the instructions for making our fleece blankets, you can do so here: fleece blanket – frozen party _ teachmama.com

You’ll need:

1.  We cut each yard in half to make two 30x 36” blankets per yard of fabric.

To cut the fabrics, lay out the fabrics together, one on top of the other, with the ‘good’ sides both facing out.

2.  Trim the outside edges slightly to make them even, and then cut down the middle.  You’ll have two complete blankets, each about 30” x 36”.

3.  Next, with two fabrics still together, cut a 3” square from each corner.

4.  Then cut strips of 1” x 3” along each side to be knotted together.  The idea is that the kids can tie the pieces together as an activity during the party.

5.  Tie several knots at each corner and one knot along each side to make it easier for the kids.

6. Iron on the letters following package directions and place wherever children would like!

7. Get cozy, pop some popcorn, and enjoy your fleece blanket!

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids | teachmama.com

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids | teachmama.com


The second part of the party activities involved having the kids make super-awesome, sparkly Frozen bracelets.

 

Brace yourself. These were goooooorgeous.

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids | teachmama.com

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids | teachmama.com

 

 

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best books for reading under the stars: scholastic summer reading challenge

http://www.scholastic.com/ups/campaigns/src-2014

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This summer, the kids and I plan on doing a whole lot of reading. summertime reading under the stars  scholastic summer reading challenge.png

Reading at the pool, out on the porch, reading on a blanket on the grass out back. And a whole lot of reading under the stars.

Maybe not every night, but you better believe that we’re going to rock it out for a few backyard campouts this summer.  Complete with flashlights, s’mores, bugspray, and a whole lot of blankets, we’re going to make the most of our ‘staycation summer’.

And though camping isn’t a staple in our lives, we do want to try it. Okay, so we’ve never actually taken the kids camping. . . does that make us the worst parents ever?  I mean, aren’t there worse things?–

The theme of Scholastic’s Summer Reading Challenge this year is ‘Reading Under the Stars’, so we’ve decided that this is our summer to do it.

Camping. In our back yard.

But first, we’ll do a whole lot of reading about camping and the stars to build and activate schema–to get those brains moving and to prepare our kids for the big night.

With a little help from Scholastic, I’ve gathered a handful of the best books for reading under the stars.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Best Books for Reading Under the Stars–Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge:

If you’re going to do it, you might as well really do it up.

 

best books for reading under the stars | scholastic summer reading teachmama.com

Before the big camp-out, we’ll read a little bit about camping, the stars and space so that when we’re gazing up at the night sky, we can at least (maybe?) identify some of the pictures up there.

So that when we’re packing for our big camp-out we’ll know what to throw in the bags.

So that during the crazy camp-out, we’ll kind of know what to expect. Kind of.

best books for reading under the stars  teachmama.com .png

We’ll check out a few oldies but goodies and a few new-to-us books about reading under the stars: 

 

scholastic summer reading challenge

Have your kids help Scholastic break last year’s world record of 176,438,473 minutes read during the summer!

 

summertime reading | scholastic

 

And we’ll also do all we can to rock it with the Scholastic Reading Under the Stars Summer Reading Challenge.

Every year we participate in the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge, and this summer is no different!

The deal?

  • We do it because reading rocks, and. . . well. . . kids need to read consistently and continually all summer long!
  • Summer reading should be fun, and this challenge is fun for kids; a free online reading timer, weekly challenges with rewards, prizes, and more.
  • There’s even a super-fun Summer Solstice Book Swap (via Google+ Hangout) on Thursday, June 19th at 9 p.m. EST with me (yay!) and my buddy, Allie McDonald of No Time for Flashcards.  Join us!!
  • Get more information and RSVP for the Google + hangout, click  here. To get some helpful tips before the Hangout, be sure to read my guide to planning your Summer Reading Book Review Party and Swap.

summertime reading | scholastic

summertime reading | scholastic

 

  • Kids can log their minutes and read big prizes;
  • Teachers can register students and track their progress;
  • Parents can download tons of free resources and articles about how to support literacy in the home and how to bring literacy home to their kids.
  • Awesome. Fun. Totally doing it.

And that’s it! Just a few little ways we’re slooooowly moving into the summer groove and slooooooly preparing ourselves for our big backyard camp-out!

 

Tell me: are you big into camping? Does your whole family go? 

But even more importantly: Is your family big into summer reading programs?  Why or why not?

Would love to hear your opinions in the comments!

 

fyi: This post was written as a partnership with Scholastic Circle.

Affiliate links are used within.

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

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

sponsored post

 

 

kid craft sale: supporting young entrepreneurs

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

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

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

No joke.

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

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

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

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

Summer fun, here. We. Come!

Here’s the skinny. . .

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

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

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

So that’s what we did.

support and encourage creative kids  teachama .png

 

support and encourage creative kids  teachama cranes.png

support and encourage creative kids  teachama

 

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

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

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

 

support and encourage creative kids  teachama crane.png

 

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

She wanted to make some fans.

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

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

support and encourage creative kids  teachama fans.png

She got to work.

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

(Minis are perfect for dolls, you know.)

support and encourage creative kids  teacham

 

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

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

 

support and encourage creative kids  teachama fans.png

support and encourage creative kids  teachama fans.png

support and encourage creative kids  teachama fans.png

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

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

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

support and encourage creative kids  teachama fans.png

support and encourage creative kids  teachama fans.png

support and encourage creative kids  teachama fans.png

 

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

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

So fun.

 

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

Consider:

————————————————————-

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

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

——————————-

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

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

——————————-

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

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

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

Affiliate links are used for Acer C720P Chromebook.

10 ways to create a literacy rich environment

10 ways to create a literacy rich environment guest post by kategribble on teachmama.com

10 ways to create a literacy rich environment | guest post by kategribble on teachmama.com

The following Rockstar Sunday guest post is written by Kate of An Everyday Story. Kate is a former teacher who now homeschools her two littles using the Reggio Emilia Approach.

I love her blog, and you will too.

Check it out!

————————-

  • 10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment, by Kate Gribble

Hi everyone. We are an Australian homeschooling family. I have two lovely little ones, Jack (5yrs) and Sarah (3yrs). Right from the beginning we knew we would homeschool. When my son was about a year old I can across the Reggio Emilia Approach.

As a former high school teacher (specialising in literacy and learning support), everything I read about Reggio challenged my fundamental beliefs of how children learn, but most significantly, how children should be taught.

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment | teachmama.com

The Reggio Emilia Approach is an innovative and inspiring approach to early childhood education. It values the child as strong, capable and resilient; rich with wonder and knowledge. The Reggio Emilia Approach believes every child brings with them deep curiosity and potential and that this innate curiosity drives their interest to understand their world and their place within it.

The Reggio Emilia Approach originated in the town (and surrounding areas) of Reggio Emilia in Northern Italy out of a movement towards progressive and cooperative early childhood education. Some of the fundamental principles of the Reggio Emilia Approach include:

  • Children are capable of constructing their own meaning –  they are driven by their interests to know and understand more
  • Children are communicators – Children are listened to with respect, believing that their questions and observations are an opportunity to learn and search together. It is a collaborative process; rather than the child asking a question and the adult offering the answers. The search is undertaken together.
  • The environment is the third teacher – The environment is recognised for its potential to inspire children. Whether a playroom or a classroom, each material is carefully selected to encourage children to delve deeper into their interests
  • A child-led project approach – Learning isn’t predetermined months in advance; learning emerges based on the children’s interests and questions
  • The Hundred Languages of Children – The belief that children learn in many different ways; each way as valuable as the next. The idea that children learn through painting and drawing, through building and dance, through drama and music and that each of these ways needs to be nurtured
  • Learning and play are not separated – They are interconnected. The Reggio Emilia Approach emphasises hands-on discovery learning that allows the child to use all their senses and all their languages to learn.

Today I thought I would share with you some of the ways we approach literacy and language learning in our homeschool:

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment

1: Including books on the play room shelves

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment | teachmama.com

2: Creating meaningful language in context – have an authentic reason for reading and writing

  • read to find answers
  • write lists
  • write questions
  • write postcards
  • write thank you cards
  • write instructions – recipe cards, treasure maps, rules for games

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment | teachmama.com

3: Providing writing materials with toys

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment | teachmama.com

4: Including literacy materials in the dress-ups

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment | teachmama.com

Literacy-rich-environment-labeling-drawings-An-Everyday-Story

5: Encouraging documentation

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment | teachmama.com

6: Using books in art experiences

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment | teachmama.com

7. Reading. Read widely and often

8: Using hands-on materials in favour of worksheets

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment | teachmama.com

9: Creating exploration shelves based on the kids’ interests which include reference books and writing materials

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment | teachmama.com

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment | teachmama.com

10: Keeping a writing journal

I hope you have enjoyed a small peek inside our child-led Reggio-inspired homeschool. I look forward to seeing you all again soon over on my blog, An Everyday Story.

kate of an everyday story

Thank you so much, Kate!

Kate is a former high school teacher. Now, inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach and Project-based Homeschooling, she is homeschooling her two children.  Find her at her blog, An Everyday Story, and connect with her on:

facebook | pinterest | instagram | google +  

Looking for more ways to create a literacy-focused environment? Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards:

This post is part of our new Rockstar Sunday posts.  Each week, I will highlight one ‘rockstar’ in the parenting and education field.  These posts? Seriously awesome.

Have something you’d like to share that in some way relates to fun learning, school, technology, education, or parenting? For a short time we’ll be accepting Rockstar Sunday guest posts.

 rockstar sunday promo teachmama

The response to our Rockstar Sunday feature has been overwhelming. I am in awe of the ideas, submissions, and shares!

Having been in the blogging space for 5+ years, we know for sure that our readers are always up for fresh and fun ideas on literacy, math, technology, parenting, and learning in the every day. They love crafts, hands-on teaching ideas, printables, cooking with kids, and anything that makes their job as parents easier, better, and more fun.

You don’t have to have a blog of your own–just cool ideas to share! We look forward to hearing from you!

other posts in the series:

 

 

fun, kid-friendly learning at baseball games

learning at baseball games teachmama.com

Originally published June 6, 2011 but republished today because, well, it’s worth it.

 

learning at baseball games | teachmama.com blankThis past week, we experienced something totally new and exciting–a rite of passage of sorts.  We walked into a new chapter in our lives, and I can hardly believe it: we watched six innings of a baseball game.

Live and in person.  On a Friday night.  With two of our kids. And it was really, really fun.

We’ve tried it before–all three kids on a sunny summer afternoon, in the sweltering heat.

And it was not fun.

And the games we attended when I was pregnant, and I tried–unsuccessfully–to sit comfortably with a kid (or kids) on and off of my lap, it was even less fun.

So this time, with two kids who were a bit older–7 and 5 years old–it was a lot different.

We missed Cora–for sure–but at 4, she’s still pretty much done by 7:30, which is when our game started on Friday. So she had a blast at a National’s game last weekend with her Dad and instead got to hang with her grandparents on Friday night.

Every now and again–in between eating french fries, pistachios, and ice-cream and cheering for the O’s–we did a few things that got our kids’ brains moving and eyes focused.

In doing so, we realized that it’s very easy to sneak in some kid-friendly learning at baseball games.

Yes, Maddy and Owen could sit for a whole lot longer than they were able to in the past, but my husband and I still did a little bit of entertaining to keep the kids focused during the game–very natural, totally low-key, no-stress learning that involved reading, numbers, and games.

Here’s what we did:

  • Watched the Game: Okay, not the whole time. Not even the majority of the time. But that’s what we went for, so that’s what we started out doing. But seriously, the Orioles aren’t ranked even a little bit in the league, so it’s no wonder that things started to slow down almost as soon as it began.  So yes, we watched the game.

learning at baseball games | teachmama.com blank

learning at baseball games | teachmama.com blank

 

Maddy and Owen understand the basics because they played t-ball last spring.  So teaching the game wasn’t absolutely necessary.  But if they didn’t understand it, of course that’s where we’d begin.

  • Players’ Numbers: Just asking, Which player is on first base? What’s his number? or Which guy has the largest number on his shirt? Can you find the player with the smallest number? Who’s wearing a larger number–the guy on first base or the first base coach? gave Maddy and Owen a little something to look for during down-times.

Just talking about the numbers–and having kids recognize them and identify them–is a great learning opportunity for younger kids. Often kids don’t have many opportunities to identify double-digit numbers; this is a fun place to have them practice.

learning at baseball games | teachmama.com blank

 

talking about the numbers on uniforms helps get kids familiar with double-digits

 

  • Keeping Score: I remember my dad scoring the Yankee games I attended with him as a kid, and I loved how the numbers and symbols fit inside each box–and how the whole thing could tell the story of the game.

Though admittedly I’m not a major sports fan, keeping score–along with eating ballpark snacks–may be my two favorite parts of baseball games. It’s not that difficult, and it’s actually easy to teach kids how to keep score at a baseball game–though I do think Owen is on the young side for it.

learning at baseball games | teachmama.com blank

I taught him the basics, but the great thing is that there’s really no wrong way; like keeping track in Running Records, you can make it your own because you’re doing it for you.

Not only is there counting and number-writing, but there’s also writing with the names of the players. It’s a great way to stay focused during the game and get familiar with the players.

 

 

learning at baseball games | teachmama.com blank

This fastball was 91 mph. 91 MPH?!!

 

  • Watch the Pitch Speeds: Once I showed Maddy and Owen where the pitching speeds were, they were in awe.  And for a good long while they watched and squealed when every pitch speed appeared.

We’d compare numbers, talk about which was the highest, and sigh deeply when speeds were in the 80’s. When we saw the first ‘curveball’ come up, we got all excited, and we talked about why the speed might be lower for the curveball vs the fastball.

It’s insane to think about how fast these guys are throwing balls, but it’s something that kids probably won’t understand for a good long while.

 

  • Snacking: I know, the total obvious. But snacking was a great way for us to pass time at the game. There’s an unwritten rule about having to stop at the vendors before you enter the stadium and buying waters and peanuts (or pistachios), and once inside the stadium, how can you pass up ballpark dogs, pretzels, and ice-cream? You can’t. I can’t. We didn’t.

There is a tiny bit of reading inside Cracker Jack boxes. . . does that count for learning? Okay, I thought not.

learning at baseball games | teachmama.com blank

 

Mmmmmm, ice-cream at a ballpark? Sure. Even if it’s that crazy dot-kind.

 

  • Lefties vs Righties: My Maddy is a leftie, so after we did a close examinatio n of her baseball glove, smiling big about the ‘Girls Rule’ written inside it, we counted the players who were left-handedThen we counted the ones who were right-handed. For a while we kept an eye on the batters’ swings to see if one inning would have more lefties than righties batting, but then we lost count and moved on to something else.

learning at baseball games | teachmama.com blank

 

How many lefties were on the field? Not nearly as many righties. . .

 

  • I Spy–Words in the Park: There are SO many words to read in a ballpark, it’s nuts. From the ads on the fence to the names on the scoreboard, to the words on the concessions, words are everywhere.

So when the kids started squirming, we played a few rounds of ‘I Spy–Words in the Park’. We’d say, I spy the word, ‘win’. And we’d squint and search until we found it.  Sometimes, we’d say, I spy a word that begins with the letter ‘g’. . . and we’d go from there. Either way works.

learning at baseball games | teachmama.com blank

Either way gets kids looking for words, searching for letters, and at least looking (kind of) at the field.

  • Kid Program: I was totally impressed to see that Camden Yards–an extremely family-friendly ballpark to begin with–added yet another awesome  feature to its gig: a kid program.  I happily paid $3 for the program because I knew that if there was one teeny-tiny word search in there, Owen would be a happy, happy camper.

And there was not only a word search–a HUGE one–but there were easy-to-read articles, mazes, and a kid score card. Woot!

I plan to pull this pup out during homework time this week; we didn’t finish it all and still need to read some articles.

learning at baseball games | teachmama.com blank

My happy O-man: rockin’ the word search

  • Take a Walk: Walk around the stadium, let the kids look at the people, the stands, the workers, the restaurants, the different levels.

We luckily scored a great spot at the ‘O’ pretzel window, so Maddy and Owen got to watch soft pretzels being made into huge ‘O’s before they sank their teeth into one a little later.  There’s a lot to talk about in a stadium, a lot of great spots for people-watching and game-watching on the many tv’s planted here and there.

learning at baseball games | teachmama.com blankThe pretzel-makers were so nice!!

Camden Yards–and most major league stadiums at this point–has a great spot where kids can

play, so we spent some time there on our way out. Maddy and Owen had their picture taken in front of a wall-sized stadium photo, they played on the park equipment, and they tried to throw some fastball in the speed cages.

  • Play the Games: If you’re into the silly games on the scoreboard, your kids will be into the games, too. So we cheered when I (somehow) managed to keep my eye on the crab hiding the baseball in the mix-up cartoon, and we sang and danced along with the ‘Fans of the Game’ who were featured on screen.

Try to catch the t-shirts they throw in the air, play the word scrambles on the screen, and guess the player trivia–even if you don’t really know the players that well. It’s all for fun, and being a part of the experience–an active part–makes it more fun for everyone.

Seriously, if you’ve got a big voice, start the wave. Your kids will think you’re the bomb.

learning at baseball games | teachmama.com blank

  • Catch a Ball: If you’re close enough, and you plan well, catching a ball can be a highlight.

My husband had Maddy and Owen ready when the O’s were on the field and made their second out; and the second the third was made, the three of them ran down to the dugout and waved and hooted and hollered until a player tossed them a game ball. WOO-hoo!!

Now sure, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but with some planning and prep, it’s possible–and it sure makes the game fun!

 

And that’s it. With a very busy week of no preschool, lots of deadlines, lots of great things in the works, and a lot of time spent on the summertime learning eBook–that’s about all we could muster.

We are very thankful to our neighbors who share these special tickets with us every so year; we could never afford these kind of insanely fabulous seats, and we are very grateful for their generosity.

fyi. . . Some sites I plan to check out in the next few years that may be helpful to some families now:

 

10 best father’s day gifts (stuff Dad REALLY wants!)

10 fathers day gifts he really wants | teachmama.com

This post is sponsored by Walmart.

10 fathers day gifts he really wants cover.png

 

No more ties, mugs, shaving sets, or gift cards.

No more Father’s day Coupon Books, mouse pads, t-shirts, or DVDs.

Dad’s seen them all, and he has more than enough of these kinds of gifts. This year, we’re thinking outside the box a bit.

We’re getting the dads in our life something really special for Father’s Day, something really different.

My husband is an incredible father to our children. He really is.

So when Father’s Day rolls around, I want to do my best to show him how much I appreciate him and all he does.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • 10 Best Father’s Day Gifts (Stuff Dad REALLY Wants!):  We all know he says he loves the underwear and socks (and sure, he needs them. . . ) but how about something a little more exciting this year?

 10 fathers day gifts he really wants experience gifts  teachmama.com.

Experience Gifts:

1.  Ball Game: Wrap up a new baseball gloveicon or baseball hat, but surprise Dad with tickets to see his favorite team.  Professional baseball games can get expensive, so consider attending a minor league or local college game—they’re just as fun!

2.  Hiking day: Introduce your dad to the awesome art of geocaching and give him a handheld GPSicon.  Geocaching is an absolute blast, and not only will Dad be intrigued, he’ll be totally up for the challenge of finding those caches!

3.  Concert: Bring some of Dad’s music to life by finding out when his favorite group is coming to town.  Tickets to a concert may be a little pricey, but isn’t Dad worth it?

10 fathers day gifts he really wants class gifts  teachmama.com.png.png

Gifts of Knowledge:

4.  Classes: Wrap up a course book from the local community college and tell Dad that he can register for a course he’s wanted to take next semester.  Or if Dad’s not the studying type (or already has the degrees he wants!), find a class that aligns with his hobbies or interests. Consider: riding lessons, woodworking lessons, cooking lessons, or dance lessons (with Mom, of course!).

5. Training: Sometimes it’s hard for dads to admit they need help with something, so a private trainer is the answer.  Whether it’s a personal trainer at the gym, a few hours with the golf pro at the course, or solo time with a speed coach, whatever Dad loves, there’s a pro out there to help him improve.

6.  Stylist: Though he may not think he needs a personal stylist or a make-over, many dads need a little jumpstart to move them in the direction of finding their best self.  Most department stores or salons offer styling and make-overs. Believe me, Dad will love it.

10 fathers day gifts he really wants subscription gifts  teachmama.com.jpg.png

Subscription Gifts:

7.  Music Channel: Tons of music subscription channels are on the market now, so shop around and find one that suits Dad’s needs.  Wrap up a pair of headphones along with a note explaining the gift, and Dad will be a happy guy.

8.  Favorite Television Channel:  Whether Dad loves movies or sports, news or the arts, there is a premium subscription channel for him. Treat him to his favorite for a few months, and I’m betting he’ll be over the moon.

9.  Magazine Subscription:  Time, Sports Illustrated, Vibe, or National Geographic. People, Wired, Men’s Health, or Car & Driver. Though we’re in the digital age, magazines are still super fun to receive, read, and share.

10 fathers day gifts he really wants love gifts  teachmama.com.jpg.png

Gifts of Love:

10.  Really, all Dad wants for Father’s Day is to know he is loved and respected by his family, so do for him what you know he will love and appreciate.  Consider:

  • Making all the meals for the day
  • Taking over Dad’s household chores for the day
  • Treating Dad to a foot massage or back rub
  • Putting on a show or play for Dad
  • Playing music or singing a song for Dad
  • Writing a story about Dad or a poem for him

What are your favorite ways to celebrate Dad on his big day? I’d love to hear your ideas about what has worked—and what has not worked—for the Dad in your life!

Do let us know in the comments!

 

fyi: I am blogging on behalf of Walmart.com and received compensation for my time, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Walmart’s. Shop online and save money to live better at http://www.walmart.com.

summer activities for thinking, curious, and creative kids: tabletop surprises calendar

summer activities for thinking, curious, and creative kids tabletop surprises calendar

summer activities for thinking, curious, and creative kids tabletop surprises calendar promo.

I have been working and working and working and working and working on this calendar for weeks now, and I’m finally ready to share it. Woot.  No really. Woooot!

In fact, I’m so happy I’m literally dancing around the living room.

Why? I just mapped out the bones of our summer.

Ten weeks.

Ten weeks full of summer activities for thinking, curious, and creative kids.  It’s our tabletop surprises calendar, and Maddy, Owen, and Cora will totally dig it.

We’ll still start out the summer by making Summer Fun Cards so that we are sure to remember to fit in everything we love to do during the long summer months, but then we’ll rock out the #tabletopsurprises.

This year, my kids are 10, 8, and 7 years old. They’re getting older, but they still love games. They love to create. They love to play with the old standbys that we’re too busy for during the school year but that they look forward to in summer months.

They still have playdates. They still hold my hand. They still want hugs.  (Most days.)

So I’m milking this for as long as I can. Though learned the hard way last summer that because they’re getting older, we’re not all on the same schedule. Where I once used preschool mornings or rest time hours for games and learning, now we’re not on as strict a schedule.

I have an early riser and I have a night owl. And I have one kiddo whose mood is dictated by the weather, by the day of the week, or by the direction of the wind. So I’ve got to be flexible.

All I know is that what really, truly worked for us last summer was Tabletop Surprises because the activities ‘fit’ into our daily schedule. The kids headed to the table when they felt like it, sometime throughout the day.

And every day was kind of like Christmas because there was a surprise Every. Single. Day.

So we’re rockin’ them again this year.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Summer Activities for Thinking, Curious, and Creative Kids–Tabletop Surprises Calendar:

What are Tabletop Surprises? Tabletop Surprises are invitations to learn, play, create, invent, and think–on their own time. 

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

tabletop surprise 2014 a summer of fun and learning from teachmama.com

this year’s tabletop surprises calendar 2014 teachmama.com, ready to download

How to I get the kids to actually sit down and do the activities?  A few ways:

1. The activities are fun and they want to do them;

2. At any given time, on any given day, I have been known to toss a few gems into the gem jars of people who have been spotted doing the activity. Not every day, but some days.

3.  I’ll join them. Kids–I truly believe–like to hang out with their parents. Especially if their parents are kinda cool or funny or at least act like they’re cool or funny. I like to hang out with my kids, so when they sit, if I can, I’ll join them. 

tabletop surprises calendar 2014 teachmama.com

What are the ideas and what makes them so fun?

Simple. They’re hands-on. They’re cool. They’re creative and crafty. They’re unusual. They’re familiar. They’re old and they’re new. They’re digital and battery-free. They’re indoors and outdoors.  

It’s a mix, and that keeps them going. And it’s only ten weeks. That gives us one week for vacation and one week to totally pound out math packets and summer school assignments.

I’m busy. I don’t have time for this. 

Yes. You. Do.  I’ve got every single thing you need right here. Ten weeks.  Links to resources and everything.  Just print out a few things, gather supplies the night before and set it out so it’s all there when the kids wake up.  They’ll do it when they’re able. 

In fact, I’ve so got this covered, that if you subscribe to teachmama.com via email (only a few emails a week–full of awesome for you and your kids!) you’ll have access to every single thing you need for the entire ten weeks. Every link. Every printable. Bam. 

tabletop surprise 2014 a summer of fun and learning from teachmama.com

Cool. So now what?

  1. Print out the calendar: tabletop surprises calendar 2014 teachmama.com
  2. Subscribe to teachmama.com via email. 
  3. Download the Tabletop Surprise Resource Guide (you’ll get it when you confirm your subscription, yo!). 
  4. Give your kids the skinny on Tabletop Surprises. 
  5. Start learning, playing, creating, inventing, and thinking alongside your kiddos!
  6. And? Share your #tabletopsurprises via instagram or twitter  just for fun.
  7. Have the summer of your dreams. Well. . .

tabletop surprise email promo teachmama.com

Give me a look at this stuff. 

Sure. Check out last year’s Tabletop Surprises to get an idea about what we’re doing: 

Or check out some fun ideas from a our Smart Summer Challenge a few summers back.

Here’s to an awesome summer filled with fun learning and memory-making!

how to help your kids love science: simple, everyday ways

science ways to raise kids who love it teachmama.com.png

science ways to raise kids who love it teachmama.com

The following rockstar guest post is written by Christy a former physics teacher who is now home with her three kids.  Christy writes an amazing blog: Wisdom, Knowledge, Joy.  

Check it out for tons of ways you can incorporate science into your children’s lives. I especially love Christy’s Science Along the Way series

____________________

  • How to Help Your Kids Love Science–Simple, Everyday Ways, by Christy McGuire
Testing season is almost over, and summer break will soon be here.
Science is a great way to fill the last weeks of the school year or to occupy your own kids during the summer months.
Here are five ways to enjoy science with your elementary learners:
how to help your kids love science: simple, everyday ways

 

Observe

Anyone can notice the physical world around them.  Spend time out doors, in the kitchen, or just take a few seconds to notice the physical world from right where you are.
Once you set the example, your elementary learners will soon be calling your attention to the world around them.
how to help your kids love science: simple, everyday ways
Experiment
To experiment, set up two (or more) scenarios in order to observe how changing a single factor affects the outcome.
Turn your observations into an experiment by observing under different circumstances or recreating the same situation in two versions.  Ask your students to record their hypothesis about what the outcome will be.
Help them develop a procedure, and perform it, and take measurements.  Talk about the data they gathered, and maybe ask them to write about what they have learned.
You can do science without experimenting, but experimenting is loads of fun and a great way to practice math and writing skills.
how to help your kids love science: simple, everyday ways
Engineer
Give your learners a problem and ask them to design a solution by drawing pictures and writing explanations. Then, let them try to implement it.
If their solution does not work, discuss and consider trying again!  The experience of creating a real world solution is exciting for elementary learners.
Read
There are so many great science books for kids!  Some of our favorite authors are Gail Gibbons, Joanna Cole, Jerry Palota, Jim Arnosky and Brenda Z. Guiberson.
While you are at the library, be sure to check out biographies of some famous scientists!
how to help your kids love science: simple, everyday ways
Model
Recreating something you have studied either first hand or in a book is a great way to cement learning.
Make it an art project by giving freedom in materials or design.  Make it a math project by requiring scale replicas.  Like experimenting and engineering, modeling is work that professional scientists often do.
Children are naturally interested in the physical world.  As you enjoy science with your elementary learners you will spark their interest in other topics, and set them up for a lifetime of learning.

Thank you, Christy! I love all that you do and share!

christy of wisdom knowledge joy
Christy McGuire taught physics to students of all levels from advanced placement to special education in the public school system.  
She now works full time at home, watching over the learning of her own children ages five, four, and two months.  
You can read her thoughts about learning, science and otherwise, at WisdomKnowledgeJoy@blogspot.com.
connect with Christy: blog  |  pinterest
Looking for more ways to get kids into science? Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards:

This post is part of our new Rockstar Sunday posts.  Each week, I will highlight one ‘rockstar’ in the parenting and education field.  These posts? Seriously awesome.

Have something you’d like to share that in some way relates to fun learning, school, technology, education, or parenting? For a short time we’ll be accepting Rockstar Sunday guest posts.

 rockstar sunday promo teachmama

The response to our Rockstar Sunday feature has been overwhelming. I am in awe of the ideas, submissions, and shares!

Having been in the blogging space for 5+ years, we know for sure that our readers are always up for fresh and fun ideas on literacy, math, technology, parenting, and learning in the every day. They love crafts, hands-on teaching ideas, printables, cooking with kids, and anything that makes their job as parents easier, better, and more fun.

You don’t have to have a blog of your own–just cool ideas to share! We look forward to hearing from you!

other posts in the series:

gallon ziploc bag activities for preschoolers

gallon ziplock bag activities for preschoolers

The following rockstar guest post is written by Barb of  A Life in Balance. Barb has a ton of awesome ideas, and you should totally check out her blog. 

Gallon bag activities.

Plastic bag activities. Ziploc or Ziplock or Glad or store brand, it doesn’t matter. All you need is a large-sized plastic bag with a tight seal to totally rock these activities. Your preschooler will totally heart you. We promise.

____________________

  • Gallon Ziplock Bag Activities for Preschoolers, by Barb Hoyer.

gallon-ziplock-bag-activities-for-preschoolers

 

One of my favorite parts of homeschooling was coming up with activities in a bag to keep my young ones occupied while I was working with my oldest son.

Since I had 2 and then 3 little ones to manage while homeschooling, I kept a wide variety of Bag Activities on hand, and we rotated through them to keep the kids interested.

Some of these ideas are perfect for car trips or to bring along to a restaurant when you go out for a meal. I’ve also brought a few to the sports field like the bubble solution and notebook with stickers.

At the preschool level, the emphasis is on developing fine motor skills during play. Many preschoolers like my youngest son are not ready for heavy academics, however, they still need to learn how to handle a pencil, cut with scissors, and learn the basics of color and shapes.

The beauty of the gallon ziplock bag is that many creative play-based learning activities can fit into them for easy access and storage. Use plastic shoe boxes to organize the activities by type, days of the week, or place (car, restaurant, sports field).

Here are some ideas: 

  • Shaving cream in a closed bag used for drawing pictures and shapes
  • Shoelaces or straws and large beads for stringing and cards with patterns for imitatingPaper towel tube and car to run through it
  • Tongs, 2 bowls, and stuff to pick up with tongs; same activity can be done with tweezers
  • Texture cards – felt, fake fur, leather, sandpaper
  • Magnifying glass with a few items for examining – rock, leaf, bark, patterned fabric
  • Nuts and Bolts
  • Finger puppets
  • Shape cards for matching
  • Pom poms for sorting
  • Make Your Own Mobile kit – seasonal, interests
  • I-Spy soda bottle – shoe, key, dime, marble, lego brick, paper clip, birdseed, photos of items for searching
  • Blank book and stickers or roll of paper with shapes drawn on it for filling with stickers
  • Egg carton with items for sorting – nuts, bolts, beans, pasta, paper clips, buttons
  • Alphabet book – small booklet made of papers stapled together with a glue stick and scissors
  • Paper and scissors
  • Bubble solution and bubble blowing wands
  • Shape and object cards for matching together or matching to the environment
  • Playdough

Where to Buy Supplies:

Thrift stores and garage sales – Fabric for cutting up, seasonal items like ornaments, small plastic kitchenware, toy figures
Ikea – finger puppets, child-sized plastic dishes, utensils, cups and kitchen items
Dollar Store – Craft supplies, gallon freezer bags, kitchen items, paper goods, stickers, seasonal items, birthday treat bag items
Dollar bin at craft stores and Target – small notebooks, crayons, markers, stickers
Hardware store – nuts and bolts, small tools, measuring tape, chain

Thank you, Barb! You have fabulous ideas!!

is a mom of 5 kids who spends her day keeping track of socks, stuffed animals, library books, and a 5 year old when she isn’t writing about all the frugality, gardening, cooking, and reading she manages to fit in between the chaotic moments. She can be found at A Life in Balance.

Connect with Barb:
Pinterest | Google+ | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Blog

Looking for more ways to teach toddlers and preschoolers? Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards:

 

This post is part of our new Rockstar Sunday posts.  Each week, I will highlight one ‘rockstar’ in the parenting and education field.  These posts? Seriously awesome.

Have something you’d like to share that in some way relates to fun learning, school, technology, education, or parenting? For a short time we’ll be accepting Rockstar Sunday guest posts.

 rockstar sunday promo teachmama

The response to our Rockstar Sunday feature has been overwhelming. I am in awe of the ideas, submissions, and shares!

Having been in the blogging space for 5+ years, we know for sure that our readers are always up for fresh and fun ideas on literacy, math, technology, parenting, and learning in the every day. They love crafts, hands-on teaching ideas, printables, cooking with kids, and anything that makes their job as parents easier, better, and more fun.

You don’t have to have a blog of your own–just cool ideas to share! We look forward to hearing from you!

other posts in the series:

creative ways to keep kids busy on sidelines

keep kids busy on the sidelines teachmama.com

sponsored post

 

 

keep kids busy on the sidelines  teachmama.com

 

Many families spend a good chunk of time bussing kids around town, from dance class to music, from soccer to t-ball.

And though it’s awesome that our kids are busy, burning steam, and having fun with their friends, all these activities often mean that siblings are in tow, trying to stay out of trouble on the sidelines.

If their little buddies are there, that’s one thing. But if they are stuck for an hour or more just hanging around, with no park or playmates, it’s tough.

Many of us know that sideline entertaining isn’t always the easiest thing, especially for busy and tired parents.

Sure, we can all hand our kids a cell phone, iPad, or tablet to keep our kids busy, but what to do if you want to keep kids busy but unplugged during their siblings’ activities?

What if we want our kids to (gasp!) be unplugged while their siblings are having their activity?  I have some ideas. Tried, tested, and true.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Creative Ways to Keep Kids Busy on the Sidelines:

When you’re heading out to practice or a game or the dance studio and you know you will have kids in tow, grab a bag and throw in a few essentials.

creative ways to keep kids busy on sidelines: teachmama.com

You always should have a blanket, a bag of snacks, and some paper and a few pencils or crayons. Always. With only paper and a pencil, you can play:

  • Tic-tac-toe: Mix it up by using letters, numbers, or simple pictures as your markers. So fun. And so old school but so great for early writing and thinking skills!
  • Guess the picture: One person draws a picture and the other person guesses what it is. Challenge yourselves by setting a timer or allowing only a handful of steps in drawing the picture.
  • Silent conversations: Super-simple conversations composed on paper, with no talking permitted. This game is great for quiet hallways during music lessons.

creative ways to keep kids busy on sidelines: teachmama.com

  • Strike it out: Fun math game that builds skills and requires no set-up or space. Critical thinking along with computation skills are practiced and kids have no idea!
  • Keep score: Teach your kiddos how to use tally marks by keeping track of each team’s score. Or keep track of the number of blue cars to red cars in the parking lot or the number of moms to dads on the sidelines.

creative ways to keep kids busy on sidelines: teachmama.com

Or grab these few items to make your sideline entertainment even more fun:

  • Melissa and Doug Sticker Collection – Fashion: The amount of hours Maddy and Cora have spent with this set is unbelievable.  They’ve made fast friends on the soccer sidelines with these sets; a few sticker sets, a big picnic blanket, and a bunch of kids make an hour long practice zip by.

creative ways to keep kids busy on sidelines: teachmama.com

  • Pinball Arcade – ON the GO Travel Activity: My kids love this. Yes, it’s a little loud with the bouncing ball and the snaps of the pinball handles, but with a background that can change and the math fun that can happen if you challenge your kids to keep score, Pinball Arcade is a winner.

The possibilities for sideline fun is endless, and really–unplugging isn’t as difficult as you may think!

What are your favorite ways to entertain your little loves while big sisters or brothers are at practice? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!

melissa doug blog ambassador button

 

fyi: This post was written as part of the Melissa & Doug Blog Ambassador program. All opinions are my own, influenced only by my experience as an educator and parent and longtime toy lover. Huge and happy thanks to Melissa & Doug for their willingness to work with bloggers in this way and for always creating awesome, meaningful products. 

Affiliate links are used in this post. 

baby shower decorations, treats, & games: 3 ways to get your kids to help

get kids involved baby shower treats, games, and decorations teachmama.com.png

I am blogging on behalf of Walmart.com, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Walmart’s.

 

get kids involved baby shower treats, games, and decorations  teachmama.com.png

My three kids were the first grandchildren on both sides of our family, so for five years, they were pretty much the stars of the show.  They had lots of doting aunts and uncles and grandparents. But no cousins.  Until now.

Five years after our first child was born, we have experienced a baby explosion of sorts: seven new babies have joined our extended family in the last four years.

Seven!

That’s a lot of babies.

We are thankful, grateful, and blessed.

It also means that my kids, as the older cousins, have been able to help out with the planning, organizing, and hosting of baby showers. As Maddy, Owen, and Cora have become older and experienced new cousins arriving, having their hands on board to help throw baby shower parties has been a lot of fun.

However, Maddy and Cora have admittedly been more a part of the events, and Owen has enjoyed some serious ‘guy time’ with Dad and Pap during baby showers. I get it.

All in all, my kids have wholeheartedly loved to help with the super fun parts of baby showers: decorations, treats, and games.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Baby Shower Decorations, Treats, & Games– 3 Ways to Get Your Kids to Help:

baby shower decorations  get kids to help teachmama.com.png.png

1. Kids can help with decorations.   We have planned two baby boy showers and one baby girl shower, and each time, we’ve stayed with a monochromatic color scheme. Greens and blues for the boys, pinks and oranges for the girl.

Choosing a color scheme right from the start has helped us narrow down decorations and accessories.

baby shower decorations collage  teachmama.com.png

baby shower collage - teachmama.com 2

Any time you’re looking for ways kids can help with baby shower decorations, consider giving them easy, repetitive jobs.

Easy is good and repetitive is even better.

baby shower collage decorations | teachmama.com

Kids can:

  • Add flowers to vases
  • Puff up tissue paper pom-poms
  • Tie ribbons onto balloons
  • Sprinkle confetti on tables
  • Create welcome banners or flag buntings
  • Help arrange gifts on table and bring gifts to mom-to-be

 

baby shower treats  get kids to help teachmama.com.png

2.  Kids love to help with baby shower treats.  Though each of our showers has been slightly different—some were catered and some were not—we did throw one where we made the majority of the food.

Maddy and Cora love to help with the mixing of ingredients for dips like spinach or artichoke crab dip. They love dipping strawberries in chocolate or drizzling chocolate on pretzels.   They love adding candy to bowls (and sneaking a few along the way!).

baby shower treats collage  teachmama.com.png

Kids are expert sprinkle-sprinklers, and they’re great at adding toppers to cupcakes.   One thing we have often done for showers is ordered plain cupcakes from the local bakery and then decorated them ourselves with personalized toppers and sprinkles to match our color scheme.

Arranged on a simple cupcake treat towericon, they looked professional and fancy.

baby shower games  get kids to help teachmama.com.png

3.  Kids love to prepare and run baby shower games Only one of my sisters has approved baby shower games, so we kept it pretty simple for her.

We played ‘Baby Food Challenge’, where our baby shower guests had to look closely at ten different baby food jars and guess the food inside.  We simply used a white mailing sticker to cover the label on the jar and numbered the jars 1-10.

baby shower baby food game  teachmama.com

baby food game _ teachmama.com

Maddy and Cora were super psyched to help with this game. They picked out the jars of baby foods, and we tried to choose a range of colors, textures, and sizes. At the shower, they had a blast handing out our Baby Food Challenge sheets to guests and walking around with the tray of baby food jars for each person to see.

You can download Baby Food Challenge here for your own shower: baby food game _ teachmama.com

The winner of Baby Food Challenge was the person who guessed the most baby foods correctly. Easy, quick, and lots of fun!

Other great ideas for baby shower games are:

Or here’s one last one: Bring out BABY!

baby shower game  teachmama.com

baby WORD shower game _ teachmama.com

Though our baby shower planning days may be over, we are certainly looking forward to hearing other ways that families have included kids in the baby shower planning and partying!

What worked for you? How did you get your kids involved in this special event? Do let us know in the comments!

fyi: HUGE and happy thanks to my incredible, amazing, and crazy-crafty mom and sisters–Jenny, Mary, and Katie–each who helped do just about everything for all of the showers above and who threw me the world’s best shower ever–way back when. In most cases, my mom and sisters researched, planned, and organized the showers from start to finish; Maddy, Cora, and I just filled in as necessary and did what they told us. Thank you, girls! xoxoxo

I am blogging on behalf of Walmart.com and received compensation for my time, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Walmart’s. Shop online and save money to live better at http://www.walmart.com.