disneyland fun facts: lunchbox notes

disneyland fun fact lunchbox notes | get kids ready for the trip | from teachmama.com

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disneyland fun fact lunchbox notes | disney teachmama.com

We are gearing up for a Disneyland adventure, and to prepare our family, we’re rocking some Disneyland fun fact lunchbox notes.

Actually, these little fun facts are perfect not only for lunchboxes–but they work just about anywhere!

I’m a firm believer in the power of a re-read.  Repeated readings help with fluency and comprehension, right?  Right.  And especially if the content is high-interest, the possibility of a kid sharing facts or actually reading the info to a friend is highly likely.

I’ll take it.

So I am throwing these Disneyland fun facts in lunchboxes, in school planners, on the shoes, in coat pockets, you name it.

And you can too.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Disneyland Fun Facts– Lunchbox Notes:   Really, these came out of the fact that I know nothing about Disneyland.

As in nada. Zip. Zilch. Nothing. Zero.

A few nights ago, I asked my husband, who had been planning our little getaway, So I know Disneyland is smaller than Disney World, but does it have the same rides, or is it totally different?

disneyland fun fact lunchbox notes | teachmama.com

disneyland fun fact lunchbox notes | teachmama.com

 

He looked at me like I was crazy, so I asked, Do you know? What’s the big difference? Same park, two locations? Or is Disneyland something extra-special? Will we see things there that we’ve never seen in Orlando? I mean. . . 

He knew a bit–but admitted that he wasn’t 100% sure of all the Disney deets. So I did a little research.

And? I printed a few fun facts for him, too.

 

disneyland fun fact lunchbox notes | teachmama.com

 

disneyland fun fact lunchbox notes | teachmama.com

 

There are seven facts on each sheet and two sheets. The topics cover anything from Walt Disney’s inspiration, focus, and favorite president to Disneyland rides, lands, and rules.  Quick, short, and cool, from several different sources, all outlined on the sheet.

I learned a ton. And I’m hoping that my kids do, too.

print them here: disneyland fun fact lunchbox notes

disneyland fun fact luncbox notes | teachmama.com screener

 

Don’t get me wrong–I’m not expecting to create little Disneyland experts here; rather, I want to give my kids a little bit o’ prep for what they’ll see so that they enjoy our little vay-cay to its fullest. I’m providing them with little bits of schema–or information–that they can store away and pull out in just a few weeks.

We’ve activated schema time and time again: before we watched Brave, before our last trip to Disney World, when we hit local museums, you name it.  Really. It works.

* new *

Want a little more to prepare your kiddos for the trip? I just added a Disneyland Word Search to our Disney Word Search post.  All of these activities help to activate schema and get kids ready–and excited!–for their Disney vacation!

 

Here are a few other ways to countdown or celebrate your own Disney vacation: 

 

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april fools’ pranks and jokes for kids

april fools pranks and jokes for kids | teachmama.com

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april fools pranks and jokes for kids | teachmama.com

Seriously, April Fools’ Day is one of my favorite holidays, and I know that’s not normal.

I just think April Fools’ Day gives us a good excuse to get a little silly and throw a few laughs into your kids’–and our–day.   Because all too often, between  homework, activities, meetings, projects, and work, I don’t think we do enough silly things just to be silly.

So there.

I like April Fools’ Day.

I like good, clean April Fools’ pranks and jokes for kids, especially. I like unexpected, strange, and tricky.

I like April Fools’ pranks and jokes that make us do a double-take, ones that don’t hurt and are never super-scary.

And for as long as I can remember, googly eyes make me laugh hard–so I use them a lot.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • April Fools’ Pranks and Jokes for Kids:  I say ‘kids’ but really, these little sillies can be used for anyone with a decent sense of humor.

And as with anything you do with–and for–your kids, of course you must use your discretion. Like if your child is totally frightened of flies, don’t play a fly joke on him. Or if your spouse’s worst nightmare is to fall into a pit of snakes, then maybe you don’t pull out the fake snake.

Take a look at a quickie, three-minute look at all things April Fools’ pranks and jokes for kids:

 

 

 fyi: The teachmama.com youtube channel is all about sharing quick teaching tips, reading strategies, and parenting tricks with parents and caregivers. It’s about empowering parents to be the best teachers they can be for their children. Subscribe here so you don’t miss a thing!

april fools pranks and jokes for kids | teachmama.com

Our many hilarious ideas include: 

More April Fools’ Day ideas: 

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

 

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

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chick hatching: fun for kids and families

chick hatching at home teachmama.com cover .png

I’ve said it before, and I’l say it again:chick hatching at home  teachmama.com

We. Love. Chickens.

Really, we do.

Not only do we love backyard chickens, but we also love the teeniest of tiny chickens.

We love chickens even before they’re for real ‘chickens’ and while they’re hanging out inside the ole eggy-egg.  Chick hatching.

We love chick hatching.

Chick hatching is super-fun for kids and families, and there’s a local business here in the DC Metro area that allows you to bring chick hatching to your home, school, daycare, wherever.

Seriously.

The very same company who brought us our backyard chickens last summer brought us a chick hatching program this winter: Rent a Coop.  (And they’re giving one teachmama reader a free chick hatching or backyard chicken experience and a BIG discount for everyone else. Yay!)

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Chick Hatching–Fun for Kids and Families:  Really, when I say the chick hatching experience was fun, I mean it.

It was so much fun, it was nuts.

chick hatching | teachmama.com

chick hatching | teachmama.com

Maybe because this winter was the longest, coldest, most difficult one in a long time, or maybe because my kids are at a really great age (10, 8, & 6).  Maybe because we haven’t all seen chicks hatch for years (or ever!), or maybe because chick hatching is just plain cool.

Whatever the reason, we loved chick hatching.

Here’s a quick video with three reasons why your family should consider a chick hatching program: 

 fyi: The teachmama.com youtube channel is all about sharing quick teaching tips, reading strategies, and parenting tricks with parents and caregivers. It’s about empowering parents to be the best teachers they can be for their children. Subscribe here so you don’t miss a thing!

chick hatching | teachmama.com

chick hatching | teachmama.com

chick hatching | teachmama.com

Fun facts about our chick hatching experience:

  • We lost power during our four weeks, and in order to keep our egg incubator at 99.5º F, we had to take our eggs to a neighbor’s house and then drive them to another friend’s house after the first neighbor lost power.
  • Our eggs’ temperature dropped to 80ºF but all seven eggs hatched!
  • One chick died shortly after hatching, which sometimes happens.
  • We hatched two Copper Marans, Rhode Island Reds, and White Rocks chickens. They were all beautiful.

chick hatching | teachmama.com

 

chick hatching | teachmama.com

Check out all of our chick hatching photos:

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Huge thanks to Tyler from Rent a Coop for making our chick hatching experience so easy.  He rolled on up with our brooder, two baby chicks, and our seven precious eggs, along with everything we needed for the whole four weeks.

The experience was so much fun for us all. I’d honestly do it every year.

Just like before, Tyler quickly and patiently answered my wide range of insane texts: 

amy tyler text

He celebrated with me when they began to hatch, and he calmed my nerves when one chick died (sob!).   He’s great.

Check them out on their Rent a Coop site Follow them on their facebook page.  Follow them on twitter and instagram–and tag them on your own pictures of chick hatching or backyard chickens.

 

chick hatching | teachmama.com

 

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chick hatching checklist

chick hatching checksheet | teachmama.com

download yours: chick hatching checklist | teachmama.com

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GIVEAWAY: One 4-week backyard chicken/ coop rental from Rent a Coop OR participation in the chick hatching program for your home or school.

Do you want to win your own 4-week backyard chicken/ coop rental from Rent a Coop OR participation in the chick hatching program for your home or school??!  Yes, yes you do.

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PLEASE NOTE: Everyone wins here. Rent a Coop is offering great discount for teachmama readers: $10 off a 4-week program. WOW!  Just use the promo code teachmama14.  It will be valid until May 1, 2014, and you can use it on either chick hatching or backyard chickens.

And. . . you can purchase your program before May 1, 2014 but can actually participate in your program at any time–summer, fall, winter. So go book yours now!

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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, April 4, 2014 at midnight ET and is open to folks here in the DC Metro only; our friends from Rent a Coop can only bring eggs or send their chickens so far, you know. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 04/04/14.  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.

 

fyi: This is an unsponsored post, but our family was given the opportunity to try our hand at raising baby chicks and hatching chickens for four weeks in exchange for sharing a bit about Rent a Coop.  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 chicken-loving littles.

Affiliate links are used below.

april fools’ candy bugs: funny trick for families

candy bugs | april fools fun teachmama.com

 originally published in 2011

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candy bugs | april fools fun teachmama.com

April Fools’ Day is practically upon us, and I thought that before I served the kids jell-o in their juice cups tomorrow (seriously, how funny is that?!), I knew I wanted todo something that would top last year’s April Fools’ win.

So I thought and though and thought some more and came up with fake bugs–what’s better than a good bug scare, right?

I knew Maddy had a play date planned for this morning, so my idea was this: serve Maddy and her pals their snack but (bam!) the fake bugs

would be in the snack bowls. And (eeee!) instead of killing the ‘bugs’, I would run over, grab one, and put it in my mouth, chew it, and swallow it. Smiling.

Woot! April Fools’ jackpot!

It didn’t go quite as planned. But it was still really funny (probably more for me) but the girls had a fun time playing with candy–eating the candy–and trying their hardest to make bugs that would scare the pants off of their brothers, sisters, and parents.

Here’s how it went:

  • April Fools’ Candy Bugs– Funny Trick for Families: When I say I thought about this, I’m not joking. I talked to my sister about how I could make candy bugs for much longer than I would care to admit. I tried and tried and tried to master the art of candy-stink-bug-making, only to fail miserably.

Yesterday, Cora and I really tried to make stink bugs on two separate occasions, until finally she said, Mommy, let’s just do another bug. She was right.

We needed to move forward. So we did.

candy bugs | april fools fun teachmama.comour bug-making supplies

I used a black icing mixed into a marzipan candy dough I found at the grocery store, but I just couldn’t get it flat enough, I couldn’t make legs or antenna that were skinny or strong enough, and I couldn’t make it textured enough.

It did create a mean millipede, a teeny, skinny wormish guy, but that was it.

candy bugs | april fools fun teachmama.com

I moved onto bigger and I probably could have stuck with Tootsie Rollsthe flavored kind–for everything that we ended up doing.

It was fine for creating little made-up bugs–teeny green bugs with white (marzipan) wings and eyes.

 candy bugs | april fools fun teachmama.com

Cora and my bugs–ready to trick the girls!

candy bugs | april fools fun teachmama.com

To ‘spook’ Maddy and her friends, Cora (the kiddo who just can’t whisper and is probably the worst at secret-keeping) and I made:

  • Tiny Green Bugs: using a green Tootsie Roll, plain (uncolored) marzipan wings, and blackish marzipan eyes
  • Flat White Bugs (called a stink bug to my utter joy by one of Maddy’s buddies): using a white Tootsie Roll, brown M & M, teeny slivers of purple Twizzler for legs and tiny specs of chocolate chip for eyes
  • Flying Jumbo Ant: using black marzipan for segmented body, yellow Tootsie Roll for wings, and white marzipan for eyes

candy bugs | april fools fun teachmama.com

candy bugs | april fools fun teachmama.com

I poured some Goldfish, snack of every playdate, into bowls, and called the girls to the table.

Cora was sooo calm and cool, and I’m sure she wasn’t staring into each kid’s bowl.

One of Maddy’s friends dug in and paused.  I said, Are you okay, honey?

She said, Um, yeah, but can I eat this?

 

candy bugs | april fools fun teachmama.com

candy bugs | april fools fun teachmama.com

What, you mean the goldfish? Sure. I was so busy putting away dishes, I hardly noticed the poor kid.

Uh, no–um, this. . . uh. . .

I walked over and it was over: OH MY GOSH ARE YOU KIDDING ME? There’s a bug in there? Oh NO!! What do I– How did that–

By then the other kids came in and were pondering their bugs. Maddy was a cucumber: Mom, really? Is this candy or something? You’d think she was like 25.

Fine. They’re candy. But I really tried to get you and you are all way too smart for me. So how about when you’re done with your fish, we can put our heads together and make some totally awesome, absolutely terrifying bugs that will scare the pants off of your family? Tomorrow’s April Fool’s Day–you have to trick someone. . .

candy bugs | april fools fun teachmama.com

Maddy rolls her marzipan with red food coloring to make the most realistic ladybugs evah.

 

Really, the girls needed no arm-twisting.  They were totally into it before we even started.  I laid out a spread of candy bug options, but they figured everything out quickly.

I stressed the importance of tiny–teeny, teeny, teeny–for the bugs to even look a bit real, but they didn’t worry. We rolled, cut, twisted, stretched and ate more candy than I’ll ever admit to their moms (who are my great friends and who will love me anyway).

 

candy bugs | april fools fun teachmama.comMaddy’s bug. So real, it’s frightening.

They added antenna, made legs, and added color; they chatted about this and that, about what bugs we like–and don’t–and who they wanted to scare tomorrow.  They added wings to this and that, made bodies long and short, used everything on the table.

They put their bugs in bags and when they left, they said they’d hide it and use it tomorrow. We’ll see. . .

By the time Owen returned from his playdate, we were ready to give him a scare. I put his snack in a bowl and when he grabbed it, he popped the fly right in his mouth like he does it every day.

Seriously, Owen, it didn’t scare you even a little bit? C’mon–

Mom, no way.

I tried.

Just wait till they try drinking their Jello-O juice tomorrow at breakfast. . .

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More April Fools’ Day ideas: 

 

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

 

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

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raising creative kids: target ‘kid made modern’ $150 giveaway

creativity and kids kid made modern teachmama.com.png

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creativity and kids  kid made modern  teachmama.com.png

One of the things I love about working with Target is that I have had the opportunity to meet some really great people, do some really fun things, try some cool products, and I get share it all with my awesome readers.

Today?  It’s even more exciting.

No joke.

It’s all about raising creative kids.

Raising kids who have great tools and supplies to freely create and parents who appreciate their masterpieces. I not only get to share a bit more from my chat with the amazing and talented, crazy-creative Todd Oldham, creator of Kid Made Modern line (and so much more!), but I get to give away $150 Target gift card to one teachmama.com reader.

Seriously.

So you can head over to Target, order a ton of Kid Made Modern crafty-crafts for  your kids, family, and friends, and you’ll be doing a little Kid Made Modern dance come spring break when you have so many fun, hands-on things to do.

$150 gift card to Target. Bam.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Raising Creative Kids–Target ‘Kid Made Modern $150 Giveaway:  I’ve shared a bit about what I love of this line around holiday time.

Holiday Party Kid Activities (that totally work for any time of the year, for any party, by the way!)

 

 The teachmama.com youtube channel is all about sharing quick teaching tips, reading strategies, and parenting tricks with parents and caregivers. It’s about empowering parents to be the best teachers they can be for their children. Subscribe here so you don’t miss a thing!

Do you just adore Todd Oldham?

He’s not only an author, designer, artist, and former MTV House of Style host, but he’s also just an all-around awesome guy.

I do. I love his creative, gentle spirit, and I love every. single. thing. he says.

My kids, mother-in-law, and I had the absolute best time crafting and creating in his studio, and I am thrilled that anyone can bring that same excitement home with the Kid Made Modern line.

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GIVEAWAY: $150 gift card to Target!

Do you want to win $150 gift card to Target??!  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 the Official Sweepstakes Rules. This giveaway ends Friday, March 28, 2014 at midnight ET and is open to US residents only. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 03/28/14.  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.  fyi: This is an unsponsored post, and my opinions, as always, are my very own, influenced only by my experience as a parent, educator, and member of Target’s Inner Circle Program.   Affiliate links are used in this post.

virtual travel: kids can explore without leaving home

virtual travel: explore without leaving home | teachmama.com

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virtual travel | explore without leaving home | teachmama.comSpringtime often means sunshine and warm breezes, park play dates and bike rides.

But it also means rain boots and umbrellas.  Long and lazy afternoons inside, waiting for April showers to end so May flowers can bloom.

For those times when Mother Nature keeps us in check, why not consider ‘virtual travel’ instead?  A little exploration without leaving home?

Go away. But don’t really go away.

So many of the toys around our home can inspire further exploration, a little research into the who, what, why, where, when, and how. Many of our puzzles, books, and games have sparked in our kids’ minds questions and the need for further exploration.

I’m betting it’s the same for you.

This time, when questions arise, consider taking your kids on a virtual vacation.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Virtual Travel–Explore Without Leaving Home: Some of the images on our everyday toys are just what my kids need to get their imagination going.

Did these dinosaurs really live and hunt together like in this picture? 

virtual travel: explore without leaving home | teachmama.com

 

Is there a place in the world where under the sea animals look like this? 

No way these kinds of bugs are in the rainforest–I don’t believe it!

Is this what a savannah really looks like? 

So rather than just throw Maddy, Owen, and Cora in front of the computer with ‘Google’ in front of them, I thought I’d take them on a little ‘virtual vacation’ of sorts.

When I was in the classroom, one of my favorite ways of activating schema–or even building schema–for my students was by taking them on a ‘virtual tour’ of a setting, event, or idea related to a text we would soon read. It was a great way of getting students familiar with concepts that they would encounter in a text without the hassle of setting up a field trip.

Why not do the same thing with my own children? I thought that surely the internet has a wide range of virtual trips for folks to explore these days? And I was correct.

virtual travel: explore without leaving home | teachmama.com

virtual travel: explore without leaving home | teachmama.comSo when kids are playing with the toys you have at home, enjoying the peace and challenge of a puzzle on one rainy afternoon, take them a bit further.

Take them on a virtual trip, and I’m  sure they’ll never look at things the same way.

    • In the African Safari: The Safari Floor Puzzle is a favorite in our house. Watching any of these live AfriCams gives you the idea of what it could be like. Live streaming in some of the most dangerous parts of Africa. Yikes.

virtual travel: explore without leaving home | teachmama.com

 

    • Run Free with Horses: The River Run Puzzle, horses running free is a hard virtual tour to find, but the closest thing to mirror that event is the Chincoteaque Pony Swim every summer in Virginia.  Ponies running free and swimming. Bam.

This spring, when weather keeps us indoors–or even if we just feel the need for a little getaway–go virtually. You’ll be so glad you did!

Where are your favorite spots to travel virtually? I’d love to hear ’em! 

 

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. 

affiliate links are used in this post

3 ways to kick-start your family’s health

3 ways to kick-start your family's health teachmama.com.png

I am blogging on behalf of Walmart.com, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Walmart’s. Shop online and save money to live better at Walmart.com

 

3 ways to kick-start your family's health | teachmama.com

Spring is around the corner, so it’s an ideal time to kick-start your family’s health.

And, after the brutal winter we’ve had, I know we’re all ready for it. We’re ready for a change.

We’re ready for sun. We’re ready for grass. We’re ready to see leaves on the trees.

We’re ready to start eating healthier and to start feeling better about ourselves again.

So as we close out the last few weeks of wintertime, we must start thinking about how we can prepare our family for a spring and summer filled with fitness and well-being.

I’ve got three ways to kick-start your family’s health.

Three ways that have worked for our family after the long and lazy days of winter, after we’ve eaten one too many cookies, and after one too many hot chocolates.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • 3 Ways to Kick-Start Your Family’s Health: Three simple ways, because, as busy parents, that’s about all we can handle.

1. Find outdoor activities you can do as a family.  Being outside is key because in the springtime, the weather is nice and people want to be outdoors.

And, if you’re outdoors together, you’re more likely to help each other get moving.

3 ways to kickstart family health activities  teachmama.com.png

What activities should you do as a family?

  • If you want to meet people in  your area, join a family recreational kickball or softball league.
  • If your family loves exploring, grab a compass or a personal GPS and try geocaching.
  • If you are a competitive family, you could train for a local 5K. Many neighborhoods offer ‘couch to 5K’ training programs, and spring is a great time to try it!
  • If you are a rockin’ and rollin’ family, try rollerskating or roller blading!
  • If it all seems too much for you, then challenge each other by seeing who can log the most steps in one day. Chart your progress on a poster in a common area of your home, and track steps with one of those cool Fitbitsicon for each family member!

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2.  Eat healthy and cook as a family.  If one person’s eating healthy, the whole family can eat healthy. With food, it’s so much easier to do as a group, and you can start by swapping junk food and sweets for healthier fruits and veggies.

3 ways to kickstart family health food  teachmama.com.pngHow do you get started, making sure that all family members are on board? 

  • Take turns cooking each night. Assign ‘Dinner Duos’ or ‘Chef Partners’ and have each team plan two meals a week.
  • Visit local Farmers’ Markets or join a CSA.
  • Peruse the Produce Sections of grocery stores as a family for items that look good, smell good, and taste fresh!
  • Eat seasonally. Choose fruits and vegetables that are in season, and explore recipes that celebrate those items.

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3.  Wear weather-appropriate clothes and shoes that fit comfortably.   Since spring weather fluctuates so greatly, it’s important to have clothes that work with weather conditions that come in like a lion and go out like a lamb.

3 ways to kickstart your family's health  clothes  teachmama.com.pngHow can you make sure your family is outfitted with clothes that allow them to get movin’ and groovin’ indoors or out? 

  • Start fresh. Go through drawers, removing clothes that no longer fit and making room for new items.
  • Have a clothing swap! Reach out to friends and family with the sizes of your kids’ clothes that no longer fit, and submit a gentle request for items and sizes that your family needs.
  • Dress in layers.  Layers are key for springtime; wearing a t-shirt under a sweatshirt and cute, fun raincoat allows you to remove layers as the weather warms and still stay comfortable.
  • Get fitted. Make sure everyone is wearing the correct size sneaker from the start. Having shoes and socks that fit are necessary for starting an exercise regime off on the right foot!

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What are some ways your family moves back into a healthier lifestyle after a long winter?  I’d love to hear them!

 

fyi: I am blogging on behalf of Walmart.com, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Walmart’s. Affiliate links are used in this post. 

 

 

 

toy fair recap: melissa & doug booth 2014

toy fair recap melissa & doug

Toy Fair was last week in NYC, and it was off the hook.toy fair recap 5 fave toys from  melissa & doug

I mean it.

Totally looking forward to sharing what I learned, what I saw, and some common themes through the event, but today? I’m sharing my Toy Fair Recap from the Melissa & Doug Booth, 2014.

My top five favorites for kids and families from Melissa & Doug.

I’ve worked with Melissa & Doug for years and years now, so I’m always pumped to see what new products they create and how they’re growing as a company.

It’s been a blast to connect with all of the great people behind the company–the folks in customer service, sales, personalization, and social media.

It’s cool to chat with the real Melissa and Doug.   They all work so hard.  And they stand so firmly behind their products. It’s awesome.

So for the third year in a row, the creative and crafty Valerie of Inner Child Fun and I were able to spend time together, explore the booth, explore the fair, and meet tons of fabulous people at the Melissa & Doug Media Breakfast that we hosted one morning.

Though there are tons of new products from Melissa & Doug this year, I’ve whittled it down to my top five faves.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Toy Fair Recap–Melissa & Doug Booth 2014:

Check out my top five picks from Melissa & Doug. . .

 


What do you think?

What is your favorite from what I shared? What do you want to learn more about or see more of? Let me know!

Check out all of the photos from the Melissa & Doug booth:


Though not all of the new products have links on the site because they will be released this summer or fall, do check out the Melissa & Doug site and search for the item you’re interested in.

More to come! Looking forward to sharing!

 

melissa doug blog ambassador buttonfyi: 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. 

 

disney surprise scavenger hunt

disney surprise scavenger hunt

post contains affiliate links

 

 

disney surprise scavenger hunt

 

It’s been busy here for the last few days, with our insane weather and with FutureCity, Toy Fair, and National Center for Families Learning Summit all in the last week.

But somewhere in between all of this excitement, my husband and I surprised our kids with a super-fun, totally awesome Disney Surprise Scavenger Hunt!

That’s right–we’re heading to Disney this spring. And we’re thrilled.

We wanted to tell Maddy, Owen, and Cora in a way that made them work a bit, so we came up with a Scavenger Hunt. Nothing too crazy, but we wanted a hunt got them reading, thinking, and putting their heads (and feet!) together to figure out clues and learn about their trip.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Disney Surprise Scavenger Hunt:

You can use this scavenger hunt whether you’re going to Disney World or Disneyland; it doesn’t matter.

Our goal was to give them an idea that they were going without outright telling them.

Check out our video for a closer look at how it went:


SO funny, right?

They seemed to have a blast!

disney surprise scavenger hunt for kids | teachmama.com

Our Disney Scavenger Hunt can be downloaded here if you want to use it (and modify it) yourself: disney surprise scavenger hunt

Or here it is as a pdf if you like it just the way it is: disney surprise scavenger hunt (pdf)

disney surprise scavenger hunt for kids | teachmama.com

disney surprise scavenger hunt for kids | teachmama.com

Our Disney Scavenger Hunt includes things like:

  • counting pennies for the number of days until our trip;
  • doing jumping jacks and headstands;
  • putting together Mickey sock puzzles;
  • unscrambling Disney-related words: vacation, spring, suitcase, sunshine, and more;
  • watching a Disney video on YouTube.

disney surprise scavenger hunt for kids | teachmama.com

disney surprise scavenger hunt for kids | teachmama.com

We’re really excited.

Here are a few other ways to countdown or celebrate your own Disney vacation: 

fyi: Huge thanks to the amazing and creative Tiffany Dale of Peanut Blossom for the Disney video inspiration as part of our reveal.  Affiliate links used below.

valentine’s day class party ideas, 2.0

valentine's day class party ideas, 2.0 | fun ideas to get groups of kids moving and having fun | minute to win it games | free printables | teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

  

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

 

For many years now I’ve been roped into being Room Parent for my kids’ classes, and though I do love the opportunity to meet other families from the school and to get to know the kids in the class, it’s a lot of work.

More than once I’ve wished that there was a secret site that gave me all of the Valentine’s Day class party ideas I needed–the letters to send, the snacks to serve, crafts to make and the games to play.

But knowing that such a thing doesn’t exist and that each class party is different and unique, I am just sharing the love.

Whatever I’m doing as Room Parent, I’m sharing my own, gathered ’round the world Valentine’s Day class party ideas. There you have it.

I shared How to have a Rockstar Valentine’s Day class party, and now we’re back at it again.  2.0, man. 2.0.

Grab what works for you, and leave what doesn’t.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Valentine’s Day Class Party Ideas, 2.0:

The real secret to success with these parties to to keep the atmosphere light and to make sure you have a handful of awesome helpers on board.

  • Parent Letter: About three weeks before the class party, chat with the teacher and ask:
    • What is the timeframe for the party?
    • Is there anything special you’d like for us to do? 
    • Do you want the kids to address each Valentine or keep them nameless?  (Nameless is often better for younger kids and allows for easier, quicker distribution.)
    • What are the food restrictions for the students? 
    • Do you know of anything that has really worked well in the past that you would recommend repeating? 

Then draft a Parent Letter (you can definitely model yours after the one I’ve used here: valentines day class party letter BLANK).  Head into school and make copies, and put one in each child’s cubby or take-home folder.

valentines day class party  | teachmama.com

If the teacher suggests that Valentines be addressed to recipients, then be sure to include a copy of the class list.

  • Prepare! Pow-wow with your Co-Room Parents or do a little research to figure out what will work for your party.

Make a shopping list and split the job up.   I usually like collecting money from other parents and then having the Room Parents purchase the items we need. Other people like to have the job split up: one parent brings cupcakes, another juice boxes, another small prizes, etc.

valentine's day class party plan  teachmama.com

  • Create the Plan: I love having the party plan out so that all of the helper parents and the teacher knows what’s going on for the event. That way, everyone’s on board.

Here’s a sample of our party plan. Feel free to use and modify for your own rockin class party: valentine party plan 2014.  Want it in word? valentine party plan 2014 — word doc

  • Rock. The. Party.

Here’s what’s on our schedule this year:

musical hearts reading, moving, & crazy-fun kid game teachmama.com

This heart-happy game can be adapted for nearly any reading level, and I love how it gets kids engaged, reading, and responding.

 

valentines day class party ideas  craft  teachmama.com

    • Stained Glass Hearts:  The kids will make these easy, super-cute, no-glue crafts which are really pretty.

Simple, sweet crafts that look so pretty in wintertime windows, no matter where you are.

valentines day class party ideas  guess the word  teachmama.com

    • Valentine Guess the Word: While they’re crafting, they can play Guess the Word.  We’ve played it for our other parties, and the kids really seem to enjoy it.

 

    • Valentine Card Delivery and Snack!  The kids’ favorite part! Break the class in half.  Let one half deliver their Valentines, while the other eats, and then have them switch.

Then give the kids some time to read their Valentines!

hint: Have the plates of food ready and set them in front of each student. It makes things move a lot more smoothly!

valentines day class party ideas  groups teachmama.com

    • Small-Group Minute-to-Win-it Games:  We’ll break the kids into three groups by having them pick a heart foam sticker out of a bag. Three groups: white hearts, red hearts, and pink hearts.  That way, we’ll have about 6-8 kids in each group.  A bit easier to manage.

We are not keeping score here with our games. It’d be too hectic, and the focus is fun, not big wins.

We’ll encourage each child to do his or her best. At the end, if everyone works hard, everyone grabs a prize!

Each ‘game station’ will host two Minute-to-Win-It games.  At the first rotation, every student will receive a small Valentine goodie bag to keep candy and supplies.

valentines day class party ideas marshmallow race teachmama.com

    • Marshmallow Race:  Simple. You can play this several ways.

1. Break the group in half and draw a line in the middle of the table. Each side uses inexpensive plastic straws to try to blow the marshmallows to the other side of the line. The team with the most after one minute wins.

2.  Each person plays individually and has one minute to blow a single marshmallow from one side of the table to the other. The person with the most at the end wins.

Straws and marshmallows, and a clean table–that’s all you need.

valentines day class party ideas marshmallow toss teachmama.com

    •  Marshmallow Toss:  Students partner up and stand across from each other, about 2-4 feet apart.  One person has a handful of marshmallows and the other has a small paper cup. Students have one minute to toss as many marshmallows into the cup as possible.

After one minute, the throwers catch and the catchers throw.

The winning team is the one with the most marshmallows in the cup!

valentines day class party ideas heart towers teachmama.com

    • Heart Towers: Students have one minute to stack as many conversation hearts as they can. It’s harder than you may think!

The winner is the person who has the highest stack after one minute.

valentines day class party ideas bracelets teachmama.com

    • One-Handed Bracelets: One minute to thread as many fruit loops onto a pipe cleaner as possible.

And then–here’s the clincher–the player has to make that pipe cleaner into a braclet. Using one hand.  So funny!

valentines day class party ideas cookie face teachmama.com

    • Cookie Face: Players have a cookie on their foreheads and have one minute to move that cookie from their forehead and into their mouth.

So hard. And so, so funny to watch!

The winner is the player who moves the most cookies from forehead to mouth in one minute’s time!

valentines day class party ideas heart chopstick race teachmama.com

    • Heart Chopstick Race:  An oldie for Valentine’s Day class parties but definitely a goodie.

Players work individually to move as many conversation hearts from a central bowl into their own plastic cups, using only a pair of chopsticks.  It’s not easy, and very quickly you’ll see which students use chopsticks on a regular basis.

 

valentines day class party ideas heart mitten race teachmama.com

    • Mitten Race: Kids totally love this game.

Wearing a pair of adult ski mittens, players try to unwrap a piece of candy. Small candies with tight wrappers, like Starburst or Tootsie Rolls are especially hard.

You can play this game with the kids in two lines, and as each child unwraps the candy he or she pops it in his or her mouth and passes on the mittens, going down the line, or you can play individually.  Each child wears a pair of mittens and the winner is the player who unwraps the most candy in one minute.

valentines day class party ideas heart puzzle race teachmama.com

 

    • Puzzle Race: I love the simplicity of this and kids love to do ‘speedy puzzles’ together.

These are really just six or seven Valentine-themed photos that I printed out on cardstock and cut into pieces.  I printed them on three different shades of paper to make it a little bit easier, but the goal is to put as many together under one minute as possible.

The Valentine’s Day puzzles are here to download if you’d like: valentines day class party PUZZLES.  

valentines day class party | puzzle race | teachmama.com

valentines day class party  | puzzle race | teachmama.com

You may want to add an extra for your school’s mascot just for kicks.

My suggestion is to flip the pieces face down on the table, start the timer, and let the kids at ’em. If they are struggling, then show them the key. Otherwise, let them have fun with it!

 

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

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

valentine's day class party ideas

 

 

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

musical hearts: reading, moving, & crazy-fun kid game

musical hearts reading, moving, & crazy-fun kid game teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

musical hearts reading, moving, & crazy-fun kid game  teachmama.comThe snow and freezing cold temps has cause my three kids to be on energy overload lately.

They need to burn steam.

They need to run, jump, skip, hop, spin, and then do it all again.

They need to loosen up, wiggle out those wiggles, laugh hard, and be super silly.

So when I was looking for some cool indoor games for us to play in the down time between school and homework, I stumbled upon my dear friend Allie’s Musical Hearts game.  And like everything she does, it’s awesome.

When the girls and I were at the craft store this week, you better believe I added big foam hearts to our cart so that I could make Musical Hearts work for us and hold up for more than one game.

And it sure did.

I turned Musical Hearts into a reading game, a moving game, and a crazy-fun after school, burn-some-serious-steam game.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Musical Hearts– Reading, Moving, and Crazy-Fun Kid Game:

musical hearts reading, moving, & crazy-fun kid game teachmama.com

musical hearts | reading, moving, crazy fun game for kids - 03
I wrote my actions on the fly, thinking about what I both wanted my kids to read and what I wanted them to do. I wanted simple but fun. And I wanted Cora, Owen, and Maddy to be able to play.

My list of Musical Hearts Actions is here for you to check out, print, and use as inspiration: valentine musical hearts game.

It includes 30+ ideas, like:

  • Hula dance.
  • Do 5 jumping jacks.
  • Spin on one foot five times then spin on the other.
  • Do 5 pushups.
  • Hop on one foot 10 times.
  • Hug the person on your right.
  • Plank for 10 seconds.
  • Jump as high as you can—8 times.

musical hearts reading, moving, & crazy-fun kid game teachmama.com

 

It took virtually no persuading for the kids to try out this game.

I said, Hey, you guys, after your snack I’d like for you to try out something that I found online that I think will be a lot of fun. I know you haven’t had recess outside lately, so this will get us up and moving.  Who’s game?

musical hearts reading, moving, & crazy-fun kid game teachmama.comMaddy’s nose was buried in a book, so she sat this one out–for a bit.Literally Cora and Owen dropped their snacks, jumped down from their stools at the snack bar, and found me in the kitchen.

Okay, so here’s the deal: We flip these hearts upside down and put them in a huge circle.

And then I blast some Frozen soundtrack and we play just like Musical Chairs–except this is called Musical Hearts. And there are no chairs. Instead, there are hearts with little messages underneath. When the music stops, you flip your heart and do what’s on the other side. Get it?

They did.

musical hearts reading, moving, & crazy-fun kid game teachmama.com

 

musical hearts reading, moving, & crazy-fun kid game teachmama.com

We played and played and played.

And laughed and laughed and laughed.

Music on, kids walking on the hearts. Music off. Hearts flipped. Kids jumping, planking, spinning, and singing. Music on. Kids up. . . 

Maddy even ditched the book and joined us, and before I knew it, they were all overheated and burning some much-needed energy.

It got hilarious. And surprisingly, they didn’t want to stop.

musical hearts reading, moving, & crazy-fun kid game  teachmama.com

But after the millionth time, when I looked at the clock and realized that OHMYGOSH! we needed to do homework–ack! homework!–before we took Maddy to gymnastics, we had to wrap up the game.

But I’m betting they’ll ask to play tomorrow. . .

 

And really, that was that.

Just a really fun, super-cool way to get kids up, reading, and moving–and laughing!–on a freezing cold, grey winter afternoon.

Love this idea and cannot thank Allie enough for sharing.  The possibilities for adapting Musical Hearts are endless:

 

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

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