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.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Seven!

That’s a lot of babies.

We are thankful, grateful, and blessed.

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

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

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

Here’s the skinny. . .

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

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

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

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

baby shower decorations collage  teachmama.com.png

baby shower collage - teachmama.com 2

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

Easy is good and repetitive is even better.

baby shower collage decorations | teachmama.com

Kids can:

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

 

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

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

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

baby shower treats collage  teachmama.com.png

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

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

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

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

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

baby shower baby food game  teachmama.com

baby food game _ teachmama.com

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

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

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

Other great ideas for baby shower games are:

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

baby shower game  teachmama.com

baby WORD shower game _ teachmama.com

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

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

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

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

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

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

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

turn your kids into grammar sharks: national grammar day

become a grammar shark | teachmama.com

be a grammar shark | teachmama.com

I have been as sick as a dog–sick as a dawwwwg– for the past few days, but today I had a little spring in my step because it was National Grammar Day.

And this old gal, though she may have strep and she may have spend the last few days in bed, sure does love her grammar.

But what I realized is that my kids do not. 

My kids don’t even have the opportunities we had–way back when–to hunt down misplaced modifiers or to diagram sentences.

They’re too busy learning other super-important big stuff, analyzing poems for author’s voice and decomposing numbers and then composing them back up again like little magicians.

So what I decided was that, because our Word-A-Day Cards went over so well, why not get a little grammar-happy with something similar? Could I create Grammar Sharks out of my kids, just by hitting them with a little dose o’ grammar at breakfast time?

I am going to try!

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Turn Your Kids into Grammar Sharks–National Grammar Day:

First of all, what’s a ‘Grammar Shark’?

A Grammar Shark is a person who in the blink of an eye can spot the misspelling on the restaurant menu.

turn your kids into grammar sharks: national grammar day

turn your kids into grammar sharks: national grammar day
A Grammar Shark is a person who has to bite her tongue in order hold back a

‘OhmygoshwillyouPLEASEstopsaying’feelbadly’whenitreallyshouldbe’feelbad’??!! or a ‘Sohelpmeifhesays’awholenotherstory’onemoretimeIamgoingtolosemymind!!!’ so as not to lose friends on a daily basis.

A Grammar Shark is a person who can clean up a misplaced modifier in no time flat, who knows the difference between who and whom and who likes to talk about the 7 Comma Rules.

turn your kids into grammar sharks: national grammar day

Really, there aren’t many of us out there, and I’m not planning on brainwashing my kids into becoming hard-core grammarians. I will, however, do my best to make sure that they move through life knowing the basics of our English grammar.

I am hoping that by capitalizing on that precious mealtime that they will read not only the cereal boxes and the Kids Post but also my teeny, tiny little Grammar Shark Cards.

So turn your kids into grammar sharks: national grammar day

I’ve included a ton of grammar hang-ups that everyone should know, including the ever-challenging:

  • to vs too vs two;
  • a lot vs alot;
  • they’re vs there vs their;
  • who vs whom;
  • are vs our. . .

And some cards have little ?’s — questions to ponder.  Not all, but some.

All I did was print the grammar shark cards cards onto brightly colored cardstock (because grammar is FUN! and BRIGHT! and EXCITING!), punch a hole in one corner and throw a ring clip to keep them secure.

Feel free to print, share, email to a buddy, pin, tweet, whatever. And if you tag me (@teachmama or @teachmama or @teachmama1) I’ll respond! Give you a virtual high five! A huge and happy thanks hug!

I’ll chest bump ‘ya–from one mama who’s trying to another!

And that’s it. We keep our Grammar Shark Cards  on the snack bar open to one card a day.  Slowly but surely, we’re creating Grammar Sharks over here. Slowly but surely.

Do you have a grammar hang-up or pet peeve? Let me know! 

If it’s not currently on the Grammar Shark Cards, I’ll make sure it’s on the next batch. And happy National Grammar Day, my friends!

teach your kids how to do laundry: become wash warriors

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

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My kids are learning how to do laundry.teach kids how to do laundry  wash warriors  teachmama.com.

And they love it.  Love it.

No joke.

And I want to dance!

At 10, 8, and 6 years old, I think it’s about time to teach kids how to do laundry. Don’t you?

Actually, it’s more important than we realize that we all teach our kids how to do laundry–and the earlier, the better. There’s no reason our kids should head off into the wilds of ‘real life’ without having mastered this essential skill.

And honestly? There’s no reason that laundry needs to be Mom’s job or Dad’s job. It takes a lot of time, and we all wear the clothes–so it should be the family’s job.

The laundry, like many chores, can be fun. It’s all in the delivery.

And having pretty decent appliances helps, too. We have Whirlpool to thank for that, as we have fallen hard for our Whirlpool Duet.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Teach Your Kids How to do Laundry–Become Wash Warriors:

Maddy, Owen, and Cora have put their clean clothes into their drawers and closet for a while now, and though Cora does need help, they do pretty well with it.

teach kids how to do laundry 2  wash warriors collage 3 teachmama.com.

Aside from the occasional ‘drawer check’ when we make sure clothes are still folded and in  some semblance of order, we kind of let them go with it.

But after our new washer and dryer were delivered last month, my husband and I decided that it was time for our kids to take on a more meaningful role in our family’s laundry. They were going to become–with our help–Wash Warriors.

We started cold turkey. Out of the blue. One totally random Sunday.

teach kids how to do laundry 2  wash warriors collage 3 teachmama.com.

Okay. Everyone downstairs for a lesson in how to rock the laundry and use our fancy new washer and dryer. Dad and I are finished doing all of the laundry. Today? You are all becoming Wash Warriors. 

It wasn’t really enticing enough for them to drop what they were doing and head to the laundry room. So with a few more ‘tugs’ and a little bit of unplugging, I rallied the troops and gave them their first laundry lesson.

You guys have it good. You have great lives, doing lots of awesome activities, and your social life is pretty much awesome. And because all three of you are smart, strong, and healthy, it’s time you became Wash Warriors. 

teach kids how to do laundry 2  wash warriors collage 3 teachmama.com.

Mom. C’mon, Mom. What do you mean? was the collective groan from my small army.

You’re going to be doing the laundry. It’s a job for bigger kids, and you’re bigger kids. It’s a job that requires some patience, and understanding of technology–because you’ll be controlling these two fancy appliances (I patted our Duets). And not every kid gets to do that.   You get me?

They did.

I showed them step-by-step how to rock the laundry. I literally walked them through everything that first day, and they got it. They liked it. They liked pressing the buttons, moving the clothes, and turning the knobs.

So with the help of my handy-dandy We are Wash Warriors poster, they seemed to manage fine.

teach kids how to do laundry 2 wash warriors teachmama.com

Want to print it out? Here you go: teach kids how to do laundry 

Owen even asked me to leave the laundry room so he could ‘do his work in peace’.   I did not, but eventually I will.  Once they prove to me that they can work the machines.

We’ve just started using the Wash Squad app to keep things fun and exciting, and so far? It rocks.  Will definitely share more later.

teach kids how to do laundry | family job | teachmama.com

Why has this worked?  Why are my kids digging the fact that they’re ‘Wash Warriors’?

  • We’re empowering our kids to take on a ‘big’ job around the house;
  • We’re showing them that we trust them;
  • We’re making them active stakeholders in an important household chore– their clothes!
  • We’re tying their Wash Warrior duties to their allowance and Gem Jars;
  • We’re making laundry FUN–silly names help!–and who doesn’t want to be a ‘warrior’?
  • We have broken down a big job (laundry) into three more manageable jobs: washing, drying, and putting away
  • We’re setting very specific, clear expectations with jobs and have a reminder sign close;
  • We’re allowing them to use electronics, which they love.

So that’s it. Looking forward to sharing more in the next few weeks.

How does your family manage the laundry? Do the kids help? Run the show? Do tell!

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also part of this Wash Warrior series:

(click on the image to visit the post!)

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

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

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.

10 must-read multicultural children’s books

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10 must-read multicultural children's books | recommendations for younger and older readers @teachmama

Today is Multicultural Children’s Book Day, and we are celebrating diversity in children’s literature!

Woo-hoo!  You better believe I’m all for it.

Our kids must read a wide variety of books, books that feature characters of all shapes and sizes. They need to read about different families, foods, and cultures.  Different holidays, customs, and crafts.  Different experiences, events, and celebrations.

It’s imperative that our books reflect the world around us, and, in my opinion, there’s no better way to open up the doors of conversation and learning rather than with books.

And though there are a million, trillion books out there, today you’ll be able to add some great, new titles to your list for your next library trip, thanks to my list here and the many other bloggers who are writing about their favorite multicultural children’s books today.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • 10 Must-Read Multicultural Children’s Books: I’ll be honest. I’m kind of cheating here.

Narrowing this list down was pretty tricky for me, since I have a boatload of favorite multicultural children’s books.

But what I also realized is that because my own kiddos (10, 8, and 6 years old) are slowly moving over to that YA (young adult) bookshelf, my picks are a bit of both.

I couldn’t help it.

My top five must-read multicultural children’s books are:

  • Cora Cooks Pancit, by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore  | Little Cora learns the art of cooking pancit with the help of her mama on a rare day when her brother and sisters are out of the house.
  • The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush, by Tomie de Paola  |  I love Tomie de Paola’s take on this Indian legend about how a young boy, the artist of his tribe, creates a painting to fulfill his Dream-Vision.
  • So Far from the Sea, by Even Bunting  |  The Iwasaki family visits Manzanar, where Japanese were interned during WWII, and little Laura says goodbye to her Grandfather in a touching and memorable way.
  • The Legend of the Bluebonnet, by Tomie de Paola  |  The story of a courageous Comanche girl and how she parts with her most prized possession in order to help her people is moving and unforgettable.
  • Mama’s Saris, by Pooja Makhijani  |  I have always loved the grace and beauty of not only the sari but the story of how important it is for a little girl to wear a sari like her mother.
  • I also love, love, love the A Child’s Day series–a day in the life of a child in some part of the word.   It’s a photo journal, a glimpse into what life is like for children all around the world. Love these.

diversity quote maya angelou |  teachmama.com @teachmama

For slightly older kids, I love these multicultural books for young adult (ya) readers:

  • The Recipe for Adventure series, by Giada DeLaurentiis  | (ages 7-12)  Adventure, cooking, and a whole lot of Italian family is the focus of this series which follows Alfie and his sister Emilia all over the world as they solve mysteries and sample food along the way.
  • Aloha, Kanani, by Lisa Yee  |  (ages 8+)  Kanani’s Hawaiian life is totally foreign to her New York City cousin, Rachel, but the girls have a whole summer to learn from each other and embrace their differences.
  • Children of the River, by Linda Crew  | (ages 9+) Sundara and her family move to Oregon to escape the Khmer Rouge army, and Sundara struggles with balancing her Cambodian identity with the new American lifestyle.
  • The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros  |  (ages 13+)  Beautiful and poetic, this coming of age story tells Esperanza’s experiences growing up in the inner city.
  • The Contender, by Robert Lipsyte  |  (ages 13+ ) Alfred works hard to stay out of trouble, but he finds out that a winner isn’t always the guy who comes out on top.

It’s really just a start. I have a ton more to recommend, but I do want you to check out other folks’ recommendations as well!

Want to know a bit more about Multicultural Children’s Book Day? Sure you do.

blogger buttonMission of Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day, Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press are on a mission to change all of that. Their mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these types of books into classrooms and libraries.

Another goal of this exciting event is create a compilation of books and favorite reads that will provide not only a new reading list for the winter, but also a way to expose brilliant books to families, teachers, and libraries.

The event’s sponsors are Wisdom Tales Press, Lee & Low Books Chronicle Books, and Susan Daniel Fayad: Author of  My Grandfather’s Masbaha.

Do check out the other great bloggers who are participating in the Multicultural Children’s Book Day event:  

2GirlsLostInaBook · 365 Days of Motherhood · A Bilingual Baby · A Simple Life, Really? · Africa to America · After School Smarty Pants · All Done Monkey · Andi’s Kids Books · Anita Brown Bag  · Austin Gilkeson · Barbara Ann Mojica ·  Books My Kids Read · Bottom Shelf Books · Cats Eat Dogs · Chasing The Donkey · Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac · Children’s Books Heal · Church o Books · CitizenBeta · Crafty Moms Share · Discovering The World Through My Son’s Eyes · Early Words · Flowering Minds · Franticmommy · Gathering Books · GEO Librarian · Gladys Barbieri · Going in Circles · Growing Book by Book · iGame Mom · I’m Not The Nanny · InCulture Parent · Itsy Bitsy Mom ·Just Children’s BooksKid World Citizen · Kristi’s Book Nook · Mama Lady Books · Mama Smiles · Mission Read · Mother Daughter Book Reviews · Mrs AOk · MrsTeeLoveLifeLaughter · Ms. Yingling Reads · Multicultural Kids Blog · One Sweet World · Open Wide The World · P is for Preschooler · Rapenzel Dreams · School4Boys · Sharon the Librarian · Spanish Playground · Sprout’s Bookshelf · Squishable Baby · Stanley and Katrina · Teach Mama · The Art of Home Education · The Brain Lair · The Educators’ Spin On It · The Family-Ship Experience · The Yellow Door Paperie · This Kid Reviews Books  · Trishap’s Books · Unconventional Librarian · Vicki Arnold · We3Three · World for Learning · Wrapped in Foil 

 

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25 ways to play with puzzles

25 ways to play with puzzles | teachmama.com

Get those puzzles out, my friends!25 ways to play with puzzles | teachmama.com

It doesn’t matter if your kids are 2 or 12–puzzles are a super way of flexing those brain muscles, practicing fine motor skills, and either some spending quiet time alone or time to catch up together.

So this month, bring out the puzzles.

Especially because January is National Puzzle Month and January 29 is National Puzzle Day (oh yes it is), you really want to celebrate puzzles this month.

And because puzzles come in all shapes and sizes, you’re guaranteed to find one that fits your needs, wants, and strengths. It’s up to us to share puzzles with our kiddos so that they can find what they love to do!

Here’s the skinny. . .

Highlights for Children has created a rockin’ freebie puzzle book that anyone can print and use: Mini Puzzle Guide. LOVE it.

Check out the Puzzle Guide by Melissa & Doug

How will you be celebrating National Puzzle Day? We’d love to hear it! 

how every family should celebrate martin luther king, jr day

building compassion with children through community service

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fun ways to celebrate martin luther king jr day

I love the idea of doing some sort of service project for the community to honor Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy.  Imagine how great the world would be if every family did something small for others to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

It would be amazing.

And the awesome thing is that there are dozens and dozens of fun ways that families can work together to give back and all year, but especially in January, when we mark , Dr. King’s birthday.

In 1957, Dr. King said, ‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’

This year, my family will very easily be able to answer that question.

Will yours?

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • How Every Family Should Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: Choose something. Anything. Just make sure it’s some way of serving others.

Some things that your family can do to give back:

 

building compassion with children through community service

building compassion with children through community service: Pink and Green Mama

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Parenting Children with Grateful Hearts and Generous Spirits; Gratitude Garage Sale

parenting with grateful hearts– gratitude garage sale: Educators’ Spin on It

surprise happy day notes

Some cool crafts you can do together that will spark discussion:

 

Read about MLK & learn about service:

 

What will you and your family do? How will you mark this day and carry on MLK’s legacy of service?

 

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