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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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  • 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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

bing classroom twitter event: learn and win big!

bing in the classroom twitter event cover teachmama.png

This post was created in partnership with Bing.

bing in the classroom twitter event cover teachmamaBing in the Classroom is something that I truly think every parent and teacher should know about.

It’s one of those situations where I think that if parents knew better, they’d do better. If schools knew better, they’d do better.  

Bing in the Classroom is an ongoing program focused on helping kids use technology to inspire and satisfy their curiosity. It provides ad-free, safe, private search in schools, daily lesson plans that inspire critical thinking, and a rewards program that community members can use to earn tablets for their schools.
How can Bing in the Classroom help your child’s school? How can they help your child stay focused and safe when using the Internet to help with homework?
We will discuss these topics and more at our Twitter party!
  • Bing in the Classroom operates through three main principles
  • Bing in the Classroom provides ad-free, safe search for schools.
  • When you join Bing Rewards, you can donate earned points to donate Surface tablets to schools.
  • Bing in the Classroom provides digital literacy lesson plans for teachers.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Bing Classroom Twitter event, 5.28.14:

Who: Parents, teachers, caregivers, expert panelists, and YOU!

What: We will be chatting about why Bing in the Classroom rocks and why you should use it
Why: Because we all want great resources for our kids this summer and for them to have ad-free search in school!  (And we’re giving away some great prizes–two Visa giftcards and a Surface tablet!)
Where: Twitter! (http://twitter.com) #BingClassroomChat
When: Wednesday, 5.28.14 from 7-8 pm ET
How:

  1. Before the event, rsvp here: http://twtvite.com/77dtwxh7uymqtg8 
  2. On 5.28.14, log onto twitter
  3. Follow the hashtag #bingclassroomchat
  4. Tweet, re-tweet (RT), and tweet some more!
  5. Optional: Share YOUR fave photos, tips, tricks, and ideas for using Bing!

 

 

Helpful hints:

  • use tweetchat (http://tweetchat.com/room/bingclassroomchat) to make it easier for you
  • visit the panelists’ sites and bring questions, comments or concerns to the event
  • visit our we teach Twitter event how-to for answers to your Twitter event questions.
  • make sure you are following the hosts (@Bing and panelists @teachmama & @TechSavvyMama & @rockinmama) so you don’t miss a beat!

We look forward to chatting with you on Wednesday, May 28th, and we are psyched to connect with you!

RSVP HERE Everyone who RSVPs will be in the running to win some great prizes!! 

fyi:  this post is sponsored by Bing.

first steps to writing: teaching grip to first letters and words

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I just shared a cool series over at the Scholastic Parents Raise a Reader blog, and I think it will be of interest to many parents.

It’s all about first steps to writing and what parents can do to help with teaching their kids proper grip to first letters and words.

Super-quick reads.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • First Steps to Writing–Teaching Grip to First Letters and Words:  It’s hard to know where to start and what to do as a parent when it comes to writing. How are we supposed to know what to do? Don’t kids just know how to hold a pencil properly? What’s the deal?

No. Humans aren’t born with the innate ability to hold a writing tool and they really do need help learning the proper positioning.

And? There are tons of easy ways parents can support this learning at home. Early in the game.

Click on the images to read more.

first steps to writing fine motor skills

first steps to writing: build fine motor skills

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early writing skills how to teach grip

first steps to writing: how to teach grip

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letters and words to teach your kids first scholastic

first steps to writing: letters and words to write first

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Need some more name-learning inspiration? Check out:

Want some other cool ideas for creating words and sending messages? Check out:

Have fun and feel free to link up any other ideas you have–I’m always up for more sneaky fun ways of spending time with my kiddos!

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. 

quick, cool teacher appreciation gifts

quick, cool teacher appreciation gifts | teachmama.com

Teacher Appreciation Week is here.quick, cool teacher appreciation gifts | teachmama.com

Teacher Appreciation Week is a time to give a little something extra to all of the teachers in your life, whether your kids are in preschool, elementary school, middle, or high school. 

You do not need to go crazy here. Teachers are thankful for any simple token of appreciation.

And if you’re anything like me, you’re a little bit behind in just about everything in life.

This parenting thing is hard.  And add in activities, work, meetings, and a very busy spouse, life is, well. . . busy.

So this year, though I would have loved to have worked hard with the kids to make something crazy cool like our flower pens, butterfly pens, or fingerprint note cards for teachers, we just didn’t have the time.

Instead, we found a quick, cool teacher appreciation gift that I am sure our kids’ teachers will love because it is definitely something they’ll use.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Quick, Cool Teacher Appreciation Gifts: We were rockin’ the yard sale front this weekend. It’s that time of the year, so I always have my eye out for a few things–my must-have’s from yard sales–and I found one of ’em.

We spotted a brand, new Scrabble game, and I grabbed it for fifty cents.

$.50.

50¢.

Bam.

quick, cool teacher appreciation gift | teachmama.com

I wasn’t sure how we’d use it, but I had seen tons of super-cute ways of using Scrabble tiles that I thought it might come in handy for a last-minute, quick, cool teacher appreciation gift. And they did.

Maddy, Owen, Cora and I talked and talked about how we could use them. We considered:

  • Scrabble tile necklaces  (nah)
  • Scrabble tile bracelets (nope)
  • Scrabble tile bookmarks (but how?)
  • Scrabble tile pencil holders (yikes. not enough time. . . )
  • Scrabble tile tissue box covers (nah)

But nothing seemed right.

quick, cool teacher appreciation gift | teachmama.com

quick, cool teacher appreciation gift | teachmama.com

So when the kids were at school yesterday, I ran to our local Home Goods store, much like a TJ Maxx or the like, and I grabbed three super-cute wooden desktop filers, similar to this unfinished desktop filer.  I know that most any teacher can find a way to use something like this.

And very simply, I hot-glued the teachers’ names onto the holders.  The kids loved them.

quick, cool teacher appreciation gift | teachmama.com

quick, cool teacher appreciation gift | teachmama.com

 

They were 110% sure their teachers would love them, and I think they’re correct. With a kid-made thank you card placed in the slot, they’ll be cool teacher appreciation gifts that we’re pretty sure the teachers will use.

They’re super-simple and quick to make, but the added personalization touch makes them pretty special.

And really, with teacher appreciation gifts, you want to give teachers something that they’ll use.  For all their hard work and dedication, they deserve as much as we can give them.

 

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!

 

What are some of your go-to gifts for teacher appreciation day?  I’d love to hear your ideas!

 

fyi: affiliate links are used in this post. . . use them, and we over here at teachmama.com get a teeny, tiny percentage of your sale. thanks so much, friends!! 

 

Follow amy mascott @teachmama’s board school & teacher appreciation on Pinterest.

teachmama
 

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:

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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.

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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

 

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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!).

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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.

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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.

kids doing laundry: 3 secrets to success

kids and laundry 3 secrets to success teachmama.com.png

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We are about six weeks into our laundry re-vamp, and things are going well.kids and laundry | 3 secrets to success | teachmama.com

To be 100% honest, we have had some roadblocks.  A traveling weekend here and an activity-filled weekend there forced the laundry job to fall on my shoulders for two consecutive weeks, since I am home eating bon-bons all day.  Ha!

But aside from that, the kids have pretty much taken over the laundry job.

Friends have asked for my secret:

  • They handle the whole laundry, from start to finish? What do you do–pay them a million bucks?
  • What  I wouldn’t do to have this job shared by my family  and not rest on my lap—I hate laundry.
  • There’s no way my kids would do laundry. How do I even begin?

After thinking about it, I realized that getting kids to do laundry isn’t top-secret material. It’s just a few things we’re doing to make laundry more enticing. More approachable. More kid-friendly.

Like a lot of what we try over here, it’s about setting our kids up for success. Because really? Don’t we all want to do things well?

And it’s also about consistency, follow-through, and support.  Three things that are really, really hard for busy families. But we’re trying.

The bottom line is that if our family can have kids doing laundry, any family can do it.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Kids Doing Laundry–3 Secrets to Success:  Granted, like most of parenting, getting kids to do laundry–and like it!–is a work in progress.

Each day is different.

But for the most part, these are our three secrets to success.

kids and laundry  3 secrets to success jobs  teachmama.com.png.png

1.  Give them jobs.

Give your kids specific, clear, manageable jobs.

We have our Wash Warrior poster up on the wall in our laundry room so the kids can reference it at any time, and it helps.

The Wash Warrior, Super-Fly Dry Guy, and Put ‘Em Away Triple Play jobs each have distinct components with step-by-step directions. That way, there’s no question.

And if they hit a roadblock–a stain!– the Stain Fighter information is right there, too.

Bottom line is that though the jobs are outlined and info right there, they know that they can call for help (me!) at any point in the process. We’ve made the laundry job light, fun, and not at all scary for them.

 kids and laundry 3 secrets to success technology teachmama.com.

2. Get techy.

Adding a bit o’ tech to the mix has helped make this job more kid-friendly as well.

Whirlpool’s Wash Squad app seriously rocks. And it only takes a minute to learn.  It allows kids to sign in, get their job assignments, and then earn points when they’ve finished their job.

For some kids this might not work because they respond better to #2–the personal celebrations of success and an actual hug, high-five, or shout-out. But for other kids who thrive on earning points and who enjoy playing with numbers, and getting their handds on the iPad, this tech piece is huge.

Again, it’s what works best for your family.

the special plate  celebrate success as a family positive  teachmama.com

3.  Celebrate success. 

Celebrate success if someone totally rocks one load from start to finish–solo–then we really make a big deal of it.

Doing laundry isn’t the quickest job in the world, so it does take time and patience. And Maddy, Owen, and Cora are still little. They need to listen for the buzzers, be aware of the movement from washer to dryer and from dryer to basket and from basket to bedrooms.

So we celebrate in the ways that work for our family: 

Other ideas:

  • a shout-out at mealtime;
  • an extra scoop of ice-cream for dessert;
  • a big hug from Mom or Dad when they return from work;
  • a ‘freebie’ tv show;
  • an extra book at bedtime;
  • . . . whatever works for your family.

For my family, all three of these ideas work together as our ‘secret sauce’.  Each of my kids are so different, that these three pieces seem to work for them all.

And?  Because kids are kids and every day is different, what works one day may not work the next. So having me consistently on the sidelines seems to help tremendously.kids doing laundry laundry can be fun  teachmama.com.png

It’s a win-win. Not only are the kids doing the laundry and helping our family, but they’re also learning a life skill. And maybe when they get to college, they’ll be the stars of their hall because they’ll know how to do laundry from start to finish and can save their pals’ shirts from nasty stains.  We shall see!

 

How does your family manage the laundry? Do the kids help? Run the show? Do tell!  We would LOVE to know!

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also part of this Wash Warrior series:

(click on the image to visit the post!)

teach kids how to do laundry wash warriors teachmama.com.png

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teach kids to be stain fighters: laundry from start to finish

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fyi: This is a sponsored post, written as part of the Whirlpool Ambassador program. As always, opinions and ideas are my own, influenced only by my experience as an educator and parent and my three little wash warriors. 

2 easy ways to teach reading at mealtime

2 easy ways to teach reading at mealtime

teach reading at mealtime two easy ways .png

Believe it.

You can teach your kids how to read while you’re sitting down to breakfast.

You can teach your kids to read while you’re making lunches.

You can teach your kids to read while your family sits down for dinner.

It’s about making reading fun and making it part of your entire day. 

Using the environmental print in your kitchen or dining room, and playing with the boxes, bags, and familiar items from foods and snacks, your kids will soon be reading. And they’ll be thrilled.

You don’t even need to tell them you’re teaching them to read; rather, just start playing.

Play with rhyme. Play with word hunting. Play with letters.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • 2 Easy Ways to Teach Reading at Mealtime:  Though it might not be rocket science, these two ways you can teach reading at mealtime will have big pay-offs.

Check it out:

 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!

 

And for more sneaky, fun ways of teaching reading, check out:

 

Be sure to follow us!

Follow amy mascott @teachmama’s board literacy on Pinterest.

Capitalizing on this time when kids are sitting down, taking in what’s around them is a huge must for parents. Let’s get reading!

What are some other ways we can sneak in reading at mealtime? Would love to hear your thoughts!

teach kids to be stain fighters: laundry from start to finish

teach kids to be stain fighters: laundry from start to finish

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teach kids to be stain fighters: learn laundry from start to finish | teachmama.com

I’ve been working with my friends from Whirlpool, sharing what we’re doing over here to teach our kids to do the laundry.

In just a few short weeks, my kids have become serious Wash Warriors.

Laundry is one of their expected chores, from start to finish. And really? It’s become one of their favorite chores.

This week, we took it a step further and taught Maddy, Owen, and Cora to be Stain Fighters.

Especially with rainy, fussy spring here before we know it, knees will be muddy and grass stains will color pants and skirts alike.

I’ve never been too crazy about making sure my kids’ clothes were stain-free and perfect, and unfortunately I’ve never made a big deal about ‘play clothes’ vs ‘school clothes’. But as the kids get older and clothes become more expensive, it really is a skill that kids should learn.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Teach Kids to Be Stain Fighters– Learn Laundry From Start to Finish:

Expense aside, our kids’ growth starts to level out a bit once they hit elementary school, so taking better care of clothes makes sense.

They need to wear the clothes longer. Plus taking care of their belongings a lifelong skill and responsibility.

Not to mention, stain fighting can be an exciting, at-home, anytime science experiment of sorts.

Through it all, I honestly learned more during our stain fighting than I ever expected.  I (gulp) did not know that you could remove stains without a stain stick. Or stain spray. Not joking.

Check out the how-to of teaching your kids to be Stain Fighters:

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!
 

Preparing our stained cloth was probably the most fun.  Deliberately spilling fruit juice, pasta sauce, and mustard on clothes?

Rubbing mud and grass onto clothes? Writing on clothes with a ballpoint pen?

stain fighter kids before | teachmama.com

So fun.

We had a ton of bandanas from Brady’s trips to the groomer, so we used his bandanas for our experiment.

stain fighter kids before after .

stain fighter kids before after .

We followed the How-To’s word for word. Thank goodness that Whirlpool has all of this information online–for anyone and everyone.

I simply grabbed the information from the Whirlpool Institute of Fabric Science page.  There you can actually search for individual types of stains and material or print out the whole Stain Removal Guide as a pdf, which is what we did.

stain fighter kids before after

Maddy puts in a load of stain-filled into our our Whirlpool Duet.  Mind you, the material is all properly stain-treated! We’ll see how it turns out!

Can you see the folded laundry behind her? My Wash Warriors were hard at work this week!

And of course, our Dr. Seuss hat is close by. It was, remember, Read Across America Day earlier this month!

stain fighter kids before after .png.png

Believe it.

Our stain-fighting helped. Gone is the pasta sauce. Gone are the mud and grass. Gone is the ballpoint ink. Gone is the fruit juice and mustard.

So crazy.

stain fighter kids before after .

stain fighter kids before after .png.png

Are their Stain Fighters in your family? Who takes care of the hard-to-erase stains on your kids’ clothes? 

Would you ever consider letting your kids at ’em?

I’d love to hear it!

And that’s it–just a wee bit o’ at-home science mixed with some serious life-learning for my kids this week.  I’m thrilled that they’re getting so into doing laundry, and I look forward to lots of clean clothes ahead!

One thing we’ll keep close at hand? The Whirlpool Institute of Fabric Science Stain Removal Guide. Printed out and hung right next to our Wash Warrior How to do Laundry sheet. 

Bam.

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also part of this Wash Warrior series:

(click on the image to visit the post!)

teach kids how to do laundry wash warriors teachmama.com.png

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kids and laundry | 3 secrets to success | teachmama.com

 

fyi: This is a sponsored post, written as part of the Whirlpool Ambassador program. As always, opinions and ideas are my own, influenced only by my experience as an educator and parent and my three little wash warriors.

lent ideas for kids and families

lent for kids and family teachmama.com

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lent for kids and family  teachmama.com.png

Lent is here.

And this year, rather than have Lent be a time when my kids complain and moan because they can’t have dessert every night, I wanted it to be a more meaningful time of the year.

But Lent ideas for kids and family? Sometimes hard to come by.

Lent is super-important for many of us, as we prepare for Easter. It’s a time for sacrifice and reflection.

But it’s also a time for giving and kindness, which I think is especially important for our kids to learn.

So I’ve searched the ‘net and reached out to many friends this year, asking for ideas about how best to use these 40 days, the seven weeks of Lent.

Here’s what I found. . .

  • Lent Ideas for Kids & Family:

I have long brought books to mass with us, even when my kids head back to Children’s Liturgy of the Word.

Books like The Mass for Children or the Children’s Book of Saints or my kids could flip through dozens of times.

But this year, I wanted the season of Lent to mean more for them–for us.

I found these great resources for us to use:

  • 40 Acts: Love this. I printed the kids’ calendar and the 7-Week prayer book, and I just 100% love the focus of family time and giving.
  • Good Deed Beads: I ordered a few sets of these beads, because I like that kids are keeping track of good things they’re doing. And they’re tiny enough to keep in their pockets each day.   The cool thing is that you don’t need to order them–the site has instructions for making them at home!

how to teach the easter story to kids: resurrection rolls

  • Lent for Children–A Thought A Day: I printed this and bound it with ribbon, and it was great to take to Ash Wednesday Mass. Cora declared herself in charge of reading our daily prayer.
  • Crown of Thorns: a girlfriend gave this to me, and the Salt Dough Crown of Thorns is a very hands-on, visual representation of how your family can make sacrifices during Lent. I think we’ll do this next year.  Or maybe this weekend.

And of course, we’ll make Resurrection Rolls like we did last year. The kids really loved that!

Have a blessed and peaceful season!

Do you have any other Lent or Easter resources that work for you? Do share! 

fyi: affiliate links are used below