outdoor adventures for the whole family: Shenandoah Valley

outdoor adventures for family teachmama.com

outdoor adventures for family  teachmama.com

 

My crew is always up for a little adventure, especially when it’s outdoors.

So when Trekaroo invited us to visit and explore the Shenandoah Valley this spring, you better believe I was ready to pack my bags.

But I will be totally honest when I say that my family’s initial reaction was not the same as mine. When I told my husband and kids that we were going to the Shenandoah Valley for a quick weekend trip, they were a bit skeptical:

I mean, how fun can it really be?

We’re not all that into camping, Mom. I don’t wanna camp out there with all those bugs and animals.

How much adventure could there really be in Virginia?

I don’t even know how to say where we’re going, and no one I now has ever gone there. Great.

I am not up for a long drive. We’ve been too busy, and the last thing I want to do is sit in a car for a million hours. 

Right.

However, once we got there and saw how beautiful this area was and experienced first-hand the excitement of running through a five acre playground, the exhilaration of zip-lining across a forest, and joy of braving the rapids of the Shenandoah River, they were totally changed.

And I’ve heard them talk about it with their friends more times than I can count.

We’re ready for a return trip, and I’m hoping that our sharing this trip will encourage more of our friends to take time off to explore the Shenandoah Valley and plan something awesome thanks to Trekaroo and the Go Blue Ridge site, the Kids Trail in particular.

The Kids Trail isn’t actually a trail, so keep your hiking boots on, my friends. The Kids Trail is simply one part of the Go Blue Ridge Travel site that’s filled to the brim with cool activity ideas for kids.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Outdoor Adventures for the Whole Family–Shenandoah Valley:

We loved our weekend away for many reasons, but I’ll share with you our top 7 reasons to go.

1. It brings you back to the good, old-fashioned family time.

Sure, we spend a lot of time with our kids. We are together as a family a lot.

outdoor family adventures: teachmama.com

 

outdoor family adventures: teachmama.com

outdoor family adventures: teachmama.com

But our weekend in the Shenandoah Valley gave us a chance to spend time together in ways that reminded me of the yesteryears.

We picked fruit. At MacIntosh Fruit Farm, the girls and I picked cherries, strawberries, and asparagus. (Well, okay. We found one asparagus stalk and we picked it. Does that count?)

outdoor family adventures: teachmama.com

outdoor family adventures: teachmama.com

outdoor family adventures: teachmama.com

outdoor family adventures: teachmama.com

We stuffed our faces with strawberry shortcake and cherry muffins and cherry cheesecake at the Farm, and we loved every second of it.

2. It gets your family moving. 

We got up early and didn’t stop moving until our heads hit the pillow. But we chose such a diverse bunch of activities that we were engaged and energized the whole way.  Thanks to the GoBlueRidgeTravel Kids Trail, we were very easily able to find a ton of activities for our active, adventure-seeking family.

Because we knew we wanted some outdoor activities, we simply plugged that option in on the Kids Trail site like this:

outdoor adventures for the whole family: Shenandoah Valley

And tons of ideas came up! Awesome, right?

Our weekend game plan was this:

outdoor family adventures: teachmama.com

outdoor family adventures: teachmama.com

Friday: 

  • Grab the kids immediately after school, and hit the road!
  • Check into the hotel. (We stayed at the amazing George Washington Hotel which was so comfortable and luxurious at the same time!)
  • Relax, order dinner in from George’s (The ribs? To die for!) and swim in the hotel’s indoor pool. (Complete with a jacuzzi–yay!)

Saturday: 

  • Breakfast at George’s. (We dined in this time, and oh my goodness, the Chesapeake Eggs Benedict was our fave!)
  • Picked cherries and strawberries at MacIntosh Fruit Farm (Their strawberries and cherries were perfect!) then ate there.
  • Went on a quick hike at Bear’s Den. (So much history and so much fun!)

outdoor adventures for family  teachmama.com moving

  • Played at Great Country Farm. (My kids are still talking about the huge bouncing pillow!)
  • Ate dinner in Olde Town Winchester. (Super dining options–something for everyone!).
  • Watched our first drive-in movie at Family Drive-In Theater. (Family-friendly and just like I remembered the drive-ins of my childhood!)

Sunday: 

  • Slept in a bit after our late night!
  • Packed up and checked out of the hotel.
  • Headed straight to Harper’s Ferry Adventure Center where we zip lined and rafted! (My kids are already begging for a return trip!)

We were busy!  But it was all fun–and we’d do it again in a heartbeat!

3. It challenges you and takes you to new heights.

We never thought we would be a zip-lining family. Ever.

outdoor family adventures: teachmama.com

Our guides, Will and Olivia, were the most supportive and patient teachers ever. They taught us everything we needed to know about staying safe while zip-lining, and they kept the experience light and fun. They were the perfect mix of serious and silly, and we were grateful to have them as part of our day.

Take a quick look at our photos from Harper’s Ferry Adventure Center to see how much fun we had:

outdoor family adventures: teachmama.com

And? We never imagined that we would be rafting over level three rapids. Ever.

But we did, and we had an incredible time.

We went out on the river with two other groups, after a short but thorough safety intro and how-to. We spent about two hours on the Shenandoah River.  It was honestly one of the most exhilarating and memorable experiences ever.

outdoor family adventures: teachmama.com

outdoor family adventures: teachmama.com

Our guide was SpaceBob (think: SpongeBob and know that apparently river guides have river names), but he was far from spacey. SpaceBob was a true leader and fearless guide.

He instantly grabbed Maddy when she fell off of the raft (not even kidding!), calmed my nutso worried mama nerves, and taught us a bit about the river and its history through the trip.  He was funny and great with our kids.

Even with Maddy falling off of the raft, even with two hours of rowing, and even with having spent the morning zip-lining, we left the river smiling and planning our return trip.

4. It’s a great combination of high-end comfort and real adventure.

One thing we loved about our weekend was that we were able to relax in an affordable–but luxurious–hotel after a long day of excitement and adventure.

Our hotel room was huge–it very comfortably slept all five of us, with a king bed, a sofa bed, and a rollaway bed. We had a sitting room with fireplace, teeny kitchen (microwave and mini fridge), and the most fantastic bathroom ever–the spa shower had a rainfall from the ceiling, side sprays, and a regular shower.

Take a quick look at our tour of our room:

5. It’s got options for everyone. 

From restaurants to activities to places to stay, there’s something for everyone in the Shenandoah Valley of the Virginias. Even our outdoor adventure day could be catered a bit differently to each family’s needs while still keeping everyone outside and moving!

outdoor family adventures: teachmama.com

outdoor family adventures: teachmama.com

  • If your family totally loves hiking, you could spend the day hiking at Bear’s Den.
  • If your kids love parks and playgrounds, you could easily spend the day at Great County Farms.
  • If your kids are into adventure, Harper’s Ferry Adventure Center has it all–spend the day there!

6. It involves tons of sneaky learning. 

My kids don’t even realize it, but the weekend was a complete learning experience.

The great gal at MacIntosh Fruit Farm taught us what to look for in the cherries we picked and shared with us a bit about her favorite spots in the area–one of which was Bear’s Den, our very next stop!

outdoor family adventure: teachmama.com

outdoor family adventure: teachmama.com

We learned about the history of Bear’s Den on the signs at this unique hikers’ center.

Bear’s Den is a historic stone mansion that sits on 66 acres and is 150 yards from the Appalachian Trail. Bear’s Den boasts a beautiful, westward-facing overlook of the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains, and it’s a cool spot for families, hikers, and backpackers because it’s a lodge, hiker  hostel, campground, and cottage in the woods.

outdoor family adventure: teachmama.com

outdoor family adventure: teachmama.com

 

Many hikers use Bear’s Den as a starting point for a hike going north or south on the Appalachian Trail, as a sunset viewed from the overlook at Bear’s Den is said to be the best in the area!

outdoor family adventure: teachmama.com

Though the building itself was closed (or seemed to be) when we were there, we kind poked around a bit, read the signs, and enjoyed a short hike near the building.

Cora, from Great Country Farm, talked us through the butterfly life cycle with the help of one of their signs, and we learned about the strawberry life cycle (who knew?!), cows, honey, and more.outdoor family adventure: teachmama.com

outdoor family adventure: teachmama.com

The kids played for a long time at the Great Country Farm gem mining area, and even working their way through the play areas, the rope maze especially, got their brains moving!

At the Family Drive-In Theater, the owner, Jim, took us up to the video room and taught us how the drive-in works!  He is so easy to talk to, and his excitement about running the drive-in theater is contagious. It’s been his dream to run a drive-in, and now he’s doing it.

outdoor family adventure: teachmama.com

outdoor family adventure: teachmama.com

outdoor family adventure: teachmama.com

Jim hosts all kinds of cool events at the theater, and he really makes it a welcoming community event.  They hosted a free-popcorn day for fathers on Father’s Day, a Yard Crawl (huge yard sale) in August, Labor Day Dusk to Dawn movies (movies all night long!), the annual Halloween Costume Contest and Trunk or Treat event, and more.

Even though my crew dozed off (okay, well I dozed off–) before the end of Tomorrowland, the experience was unforgettable!

7. It’s closer than you think.

The Shenandoah Valley of the Virginias is closer to those of us in the DC Metro Area than you may think.

I once thought that our only day trip options were Annapolis, Baltimore, DC, and Northern Virginia. I had no idea that we could get to this area of the Blue Ridges in under two hours.

When we left Harper’s Ferry on Sunday, it took us less than an hour to get home. What a treat!

 

Remember, no matter where in the world you are, little hidden gems like the Shenandoah Valley are probably nearby.

Do some exploring of your own this summer. Ask around. Find out what areas are close to you that you never thought to explore.

Visit GoBlueRidgeTravel or Trekaroo and type in your zip code. See what’s nearby, and let me know what you find!

We. Had. Such. A. Blast. I’d love for you, too, to have an awesome experience!

Check out our video re-cap:

Or take a look at all of our photos from the weekend: 

 

And now? A chance for you to win your own family getaway!

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GIVEAWAY: Massanutten Getaway: One (1) lucky winner will receive five nights lodging in a two-bedroom condo with four complimentary Indoor/Outdoor WaterPark passes plus a $50 Resort gift card!

Do you want to win a Massanutten Getaway with five nights lodging in a two-bedroom condo with four complimentary Indoor/Outdoor WaterPark passes plus a $50 Resort gift card!??!  Yes, yes you do.

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massannutten 851x315

 

Please visit this link for more information: Massanutten Getaway Sweepstakes

Restrictions: The prizes are non-transferable * Reservations are based on availability * No cash value * Prize certificate will expire one year from issuance date

Rules and Guidelines: * No purchase necessary * One raffle winner will be selected * Winner will be selected randomly and your chances of winning are based on the number of entry points you acquired against the total number of entries for this giveaway. * 18 years of age and older * US and Canada residents only, excluding residents of the Provence of Quebec. * Winner will be notified via the email provided and must respond to the notification to confirm their prize within the time specified in the email.  (Usually 3 days). * After the winner has been confirmed, the winner will be announced on this blog post.

Prize Value: $1682.00

Entry Period: July 6, 2015 at 12:01 AM PST to July 19, 2015 at 11:59 PM PST.

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

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fyi: I was invited to take my family to the Shenandoah Valley as part of a Trekaroo campaign with GoBlueRidge. I was compensated for my time, and our experiences were covered by the above partners. As always, my opinions and ideas are all my own, influenced only by my experience as an educator and parent and my three little adventure-seekers. 

anchored: finding hope in the unexpected: a book for all parents (giveaway! #AnchoredHope)

anchored: teachmama.com

anchored: teachmama.com

 

Confession: There are days I don’t appreciate my life the way I should.

I stress over a sink full of dishes, crumb-covered counters, and unmade beds.

Some days, when I hear my kids bickering, I want to poke my eyes out.  When I watch four people walk by a pile of clothes on the stairs, I want to weep. (I mean, can’t someone take them upstairs?)

But reading Anchored: Finding Hope in the Unexpected, by Kayla Aimee, has brought me down. It’s grounded me during these long summer days when trying to work with three kids home all day makes me feel like I’m getting nothing right and doing everything wrong.

Anchored has reminded me to really, truly appreciate all that I have because really?  This is a good life.anchored | teachmama.com

anchored: finding hope in the unexpected: a book for all parents

Actually, it’s a great life.

And I have so much to be thankful for.

I know this–believe me. I am grateful, but we all need reminders sometimes, don’t we?

I’m thrilled to be able to share this gift of a book with my you, my friends, many of whom are parents yourselves.

And I even have a fun giveaway for you.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Anchored: Finding Hope in the Unexpected:

Really, Anchored is a book for everyone, whether you’re a parent or not. This is a story that reminds us to look for hope in unexpected places.

It’s a story for anyone who has wondered, ‘Where is God in this?’

My friend Kayla Aimee tells the story about her journey to motherhood after struggling with infertility for years.  She tells her story about being a mom to a micro-preemie.

A micro-preemie, friends.

Do you even know what a micro-preemie is? I didn’t until I met Kayla.

A micro-preemie is a baby born under three pounds and before 26 weeks.  Can you even imagine?

anchored | teachmama.com

anchored | teachmama.com

Kayla gave birth to Scarlette Vonne at 25 weeks. Scarlette was one pound, eight ounces.

Twenty-five weeks. One pound, eight ounces.

I had known much of Kayla’s story before reading this book, but I had not a clue about the details. The challenges. The victories. The stress that the experience placed on her family, relationships, and her faith.

Kayla is not only one of the coolest women I know; she’s smart, savvy, beautiful inside and out, and to boot, she’s hilarious. And she’s a rockstar writer.

anchored | teachmama.com

So this book gracefully weaves together her story, a story that may seem foreign to many but to which so many of us can relate.  Everyone should have this book on his or her bookshelf.

We may not be parents of a micro-preemie, but each one of us has undoubtedly experienced some sort of challenge in our life that has pushed us, stretched us, or leveled us, forcing us to reach high for strength and to hang tightly to our anchors.

 

I am thrilled to be able to share with you an opportunity for your own copy of this book, along with a cool little extra to top it off.

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GIVEAWAY: A signed copy of Anchored: Finding Hope in the Unexpected, by Kayla Aimee and an 8×10 art print painted by Ruth of Gracelaced.com!

Anchored_D

Do you want to win a signed copy of Anchored: Finding Hope in the Unexpected, by Kayla Aimee and an 8×10 art print painted by Ruth of Gracelaced.com??!  Yes, yes you do.
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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 the Official Sweepstakes Rules.

This giveaway ends Wednesday, July 15, 2015 at midnight ET and is open to folks here in the US only. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 07/15/15.  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.

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But wait. There’s more! There’s something for everyone here!

AnchoredPrintable2a

Even if you order this book on your own, you’ll be able to download the attached printable art from Gracelaced as your free gift. Awesome, right?

Pair the book with the artwork and some of the goodies below, and you have a really awesome gift for a mom, sister, friend, neighbor:

 

fyi: This post was inspired by Kayla Aimee’s new book, Anchored: Finding Hope in the Unexpected. Order your copy of #AnchoredHope today to receive a free e­book and art print by clicking here

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’s16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy.

melted bead suncatchers: celebrating ‘the artful year’

melted bead suncatchers: celebrating 'the artful year' with Jean Van't Hul's latest book

post contains affiliate links

 

 

melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com

One of my dear friends has just published her second book–it’s a book that is so filled with crafty awesome, it’s a must-have for all families.

My pal Jean is the author of The Artful Parent blog, and I’ve known her for years, often linking to her here on teachmama.com and always looking to her for cool ideas to use with Maddy, Owen, and Cora.

I’m thrilled to have been asked to be a part of her blog tour for this new book, called The Artful Year, and I’m totally psyched to have a copy to give away to one lucky teachmama reader.

Though we bookmarked a dozen different ideas to try and share with you, we settled on Melted Bead Suncatchers–and we turned ours into a Melted Bead Suncatcher Mobile, just like they do in the book.

It turned out so beautiful and festive for Valentine’s Day, that I wish we would have done it years ago.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Melted Bead Suncatcher: 

We wanted to make something for the upcoming Valentine holiday, but the cool thing with this craft is that you could adapt it for any time of the year.

melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com

melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com

In order to create the Melted Bead Suncatcher, you need: 

  • translucent plastic pony beads
  • old metal baking dishes, old metal cookie cutters
  • grill or toaster oven
  • power drill or metal grommets
  • string

melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com

The details for how to make these are outlined clearly in The Artful Year but essentially, you follow these basic instructions:

1. Choose the cookie cutter shapes that you want to use. We chose four heart shapes for Valentine’s Day.

melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com

melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com

2. Place the cookie cutters on the metal baking pan. We used an old 8′ x 8″ metal baking pan and lined it with aluminum foil.

3. Arrange the beads in a single layer in the old metal baking dishes.

melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com

melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com

4. Place the pan on the grill and close the grill cover.  Check on the beads, but keep an eye on them. Ours took about 5-8 minutes to melt.

5. Remove the pan from the grill and let cool completely.

melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com

 

melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com

melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com

melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com

6. Pop the melted shape out of the cookie cutter and drill a small hole at the top, where you want the string to hang.

We connected ours, and it turned out super cute.

melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com  melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com

 

We love, love, love how these turned out.

And as an educator, I love how parents can really sneak in some learning opportunities here.

  • Let your child sort the colors into the cookie cutter shapes. Color sorting is a great skill!
  • Using a small pair or tweezers or prongs to pinch the beads is great fine motor work for little hands!
  • Let your child work through the best way to string together multiple suncatcher shapes so that it hangs properly.

So many possibilities.

melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com

melted bead suncatcher  the artful year  teachmama.com

The Artful Year is filled with dozens of seasonal and holiday crafts and recipes.

This Melted Bead Suncatcher Mobile is just one of many, and we cannot wait to get our craft on for the rest of this year.

 

The-Artful-Year-Book-Cover-|

 

One of the cool things about this book is that it’s not only crafts–it’s also filled with tons of seasonal recipes, too, which is one of our favorite ways of spending time together as a family–crafting, eating, and cooking!

Jean does an incredible job of dividing activities into categories:

  • activities for all seasons;
  • activities for spring;
  • activities for summer;
  • activities for autumn;
  • activities for winter.

The-Artful-Year-Book-Summer-Recipes

 

The-Artful-Year-Book-Spring-and-Easter-Crafts

 

And each section is filled with beautiful images of Jean and her girls, the crafts, and recipes.  And each and every entry is concise, manageable to create, and engaging. I can hear Jean’s sweet and patient voice behind each word. I love it.

Tons of my talented bloggy friends are supporting Jean through her book launch, doing book giveaways and celebrating this work of art.

Check them out:
The-Artful-Year-Blog-Tour-

I’m proud to be a part of this mix and do hope you grab a copy of this book, friends.

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GIVEAWAY: Your very own copy of The Artful Year, by Jean Van’t Hul.

Do you want to win your own copy of The Artful Year??!  Yes, yes you do.  

Two chances to win, friends:

1. Leave a comment here,  letting us know why YOU need a copy of this book!

2. Subscribe to teachmama.com via email or newsletter.  We’ll be giving away a second copy of this book to email subscribers only! So get your name in the mix now!

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

This giveaway ends Saturday, February 28, 2015 at midnight ET and is open to residents of US, UK, Australia, and Canada. Winner will be chosen by ‘random.org’ and will be notified on or around 02/28/15.  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.

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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

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools

sponsored post

 

 

 

 

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

Between Election Day, parent-teacher conferences, and field trips, it always seems like things get nutty in November.

The novelty of the new year has worn off, and kids—and parents—start slowly slipping into the mid-year blues or pre-holiday anxiety.

And if things are crazy for our family, I can only imagine how difficult things can be for our teachers.

So November is a great time for us all to step back and extend a bit of thanks to those teachers with whom our children spend hours and hours each day.

I’m not saying that we need to spend a million dollars on our teachers right before the winter holidays; rather, I’m suggesting that we show teachers how much we appreciate their hard work and dedication.

We can do this in a number of ways, some of which won’t cost a cent.

I’m thrilled that my friends from Staples are eager to help us in this endeavor by offering another rockstar classroom decoration prize pack so that we all can do our part!

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • 5 Ways Parents Can Show Thanks for Teachers and Schools:

November is a time of giving thanks. Let’s take a minute to show our children’s teachers how very much we appreciate them and their hard work.

 

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

Consider:

  1. Volunteering your time to support the teacher.

Drop the teacher a quick note or email saying that you have a few extra hours this month and would like to help him or her with anything needed in the classroom. You can copy, cut, sort, organize, or clean. Anything needed.

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

Call the teacher or drop him or her an email like the one below:

Dear [Mr. or Mrs. Teacher],

Hi! I hope you are doing well! I just wanted to take a minute to reach out and say thank you so much for all you do for our students; [child’s name] really enjoys your class and is learning so much.

I unexpectedly have 2-3 extra hours this month that I would love to ‘donate’ to the class. If you have any copying, sorting, organizing, or cleaning you need done in the classroom, I’d be more than happy to help.

Though I will do my best to come in at a time that works best for you, right now it looks like [insert date and time] will work best for me.

Please let me know if you could use my help!

Many thanks,

[your name]

All you can do is send it. If the teacher needs a hand, you better believe that he or she will be grateful for your offer!

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  1. Volunteering your time to support the students.

Do you feel like you’re particularly good at working with students? Let the teacher know!

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

Younger students and emerging readers can always use extra reading time or math-practice time. Most likely the teacher would really appreciate having an extra ‘ear’ in the classroom to listen to students as they read and work on fluency or a support for them as they work on math facts or sight words.

Want to see if it’s an option? Use the same note as above but change the second paragraph to:

I unexpectedly have 2-3 extra hours this month that I would love to ‘donate’ to the class. If you would like for me to listen to some of your struggling readers or pull small groups for sight word or math fact practice, I’d be more than happy to help.

The kids will love having an extra ‘teacher’ in the room!

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  1. Donate small prizes or goodies to the students. Teachers often could use small prizes or goodies for their students.

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

If you don’t have a whole lot of time—or any!—to donate but you have a few extra bucks in your pocket, consider purchasing some stickers for the classroom.

Seasonal stickers are always a hit on student work, and most likely if the teacher had them, he or she would use them! I love these sparkly fall leaves, and I don’t even think it’s too late for the pumpkins. Pumpkins are a fall fruit, right?

Thanks to my friends at Staples, I had a few of these cute fall bookmarks and pumpkin notepads, so I put one pack each in a little plastic bag, along with the fall leaf stickers and pumpkin stickers.

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

With a short note saying ‘thank you’ to Maddy, Owen, and Cora’s teachers, I think this little bag of ‘goodies’ will be truly appreciated.

When I was teaching, I kept jars of ‘crazy pens’ on my desk so that my students would be more likely to want to write. It worked! Kids came charging to the desk each day to write with the monkey pen, the crazy bubble pen, or the Disney pen.

And often parents sent in cool pens to add to our collection. It was always a fun and appreciated surprise when they did! The students loved it as much as I did.

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  1. Decorating a classroom board or area of the classroom.

Are you a crafty crafter with an eye for decorating? Give the teacher the gift of your mad artistic skills by offering to handle a classroom bulletin board or reading corner.

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

Ask how the teacher wants to use the area or board—to display work, to celebrate holidays, to promote a project, etc—and then offer to help.

November is such a busy month.

Taking this big element off of the teacher’s plate will be hugely helpful.

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

Offer to use a holiday-themed decoration like the Colorful Owls or Moose & Friends board set.

We love that each set comes with parts that can be changed according to the holiday or season.

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  1. Decorating a PTA or school-wide board.

Everything that the PTA does directly supports the school and teachers, so your helping hand will be appreciated no matter where you can lend it.

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

Often PTA boards are the first boards seen when people walk into a school. And often the PTA volunteers are stretched too thinly and are running a ton of different projects.

Offer to either help with one of the projects or take over the job of managing the PTA bulletin board.

Staples’ Seasonal Classroom Decorations make decorating these boards super-easy.

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

Maddy, Owen, Cora, and I used a Fall Holiday Decoration pack to do a hallway board in my husband’s school.

It turned out awesome.

We used the Thanksgiving Bulletin Board set and the Pumpkins borders and kept the background the same as last time—simple black. A few pieces of orange and brown construction paper added some pizazz.

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools  teachmama.com

Our goal with this board was to create something fun and festive but that would also encourage viewers to give thanks, and we love how it turned out.

First, we put up the pieces that came with the set: the turkey, the pilgrims, and the Native Americans.

Then we added the ‘We Are Thankful’ sign above them and the ‘I am thankful’ cut-out leaves and acorns that came with the Thanksgiving set.

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers | teachmama.com

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers | teachmama.com

Next, I printed out two copies of our simple Give Thanks Instructions (see below):

If you’d like to download and print the Give Thanks Instructions click here: teacher thank you poster | teachmama.com

(Please, if you share this resource–which I hope you do!–link to this post rather than the printable!)

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers | teachmama.com

And then I printed out about 20 copies of our little Give Thanks notes (see below) which we cut into quarters.

If you’d like to download and print the Give Thanks notes click here: teacher thank you notes FULL PAGE

(Please, if you share this resource–which I hope you do!–link to this post rather than the printable!)

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers | teachmama.com

Then we stapled some of the turkey cut-outs to the board. We didn’t staple them flush to the board; rather, we made them like little pockets.

Finally we placed our little Thank You notes into the turkey pockets, and we were finished!

Bam.

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers | teachmama.com

An interactive thank-you board for the whole school.

And hopefully—hopefully!—one of the students will look at it while they’re walking to class and will take a minute to pull out a slip of paper, write down a quick note to a teacher or administrator, and deliver that person a little bit of thanks.

5 ways parents can show thanks for teachers and schools full board | teachmama.com

Or maybe a teacher will take the time to write a quick thank you note to a student. Or maybe an administrator will take time to say ‘thanks’ to a staff member.

Who doesn’t appreciate a little ‘thank you’ note now and again?

*************************************

————————————————————-

GIVEAWAY: One classroom décor set for all seasons–and then some!–valued at $100.

Do you want to win your own classroom décor set to use either in your own classroom, to donate to your child’s teacher, or to use for your PTA, church, or homeschool??!  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 Monday, November 24, 2014 at midnight ET and is open to folks here in the US only. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 11/24/14.  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.

——————————-

Check out the other posts in the #staplesclassroom series:

fyi: I am proud to be a Staples partner, and this post was written as part of the #staplesclassroom campaign; however, 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 classroom decorators.

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

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

sponsored post

 

 

affiliate links used in this post

 

 

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

We’re busy. We need easy.

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

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

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

Seriously. I’m not even kidding.

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

Here’s the skinny. . .

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

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

It’s easy.

So do it!

movie-inspired costume contest:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Affiliate links are used in this post.

GoldieBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com for @goldibloxinc

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Yesterday, my girls were late for school.GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

And they were late for cheer practice last evening.

And they were late for school again today.

It wasn’t because they were sleeping in or taking too long to pick out their clothes.

It wasn’t because they were poking around or moving slowly.

They were building. They were reading; they were creating.

My smart girls were busy tinkering with their GoldieBlox sets, and this mama was fine with it.

Sure, we need to teach our kids to be punctual and to make it to school on time. But we have the rest of the week to work on that, don’t we?

We are totally impressed with GoldieBlox.

And I’m thrilled to have a GoldieBlox gift set to give away to one lucky teachmama.com reader.  Just in time for the holidays. Woo-hoooo.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • GoldieBlox for Smart Girls–Read, Create, and Learn:

GoldieBlox is one of those products that you’re happy to buy because it packs a crazy powerful punch. Your money goes far because our girls are reading, thinking, and creating.

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

And along the way, they’re learning spacial skills, engineering skills, and confidence in problem-solving.

They’re learning about wheels and axles, hinges and levers, pulleys, gears, animation and more.

GoldieBlox gets girls building through the context of a narrative.  That is, each set comes with a book that girls read, and the pieces that they build somehow hinge on what happens in the text.

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

Their research has shown that girls in particular connect with a story.

I wanted to know why GoldieBlox was only for girls.  What made GoldieBlox special? 

Straight from the FAQ page:

Our founder, Debbie, spent a year researching gender differences to develop a construction toy that went deeper than just “making it pink” to appeal to girls. She read countless articles on the female brain, cognitive development and children’s play patterns. She interviewed parents, educators, neuroscientists and STEM experts. Most importantly, she played with hundreds of kids. Her big “aha”? Girls have strong verbal skills. They love stories and characters. They aren’t as interested in building for the sake of building; they want to know why. GoldieBlox stories replace the 1-2-3 instruction manual and provide narrative-based building, centered around a role model character who solves problems by building machines. Goldie’s stories relate to girls’ lives, have a sense of humor and make engineering fun.  

Pretty cool.

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

And though the sets are geared more for girls, I’m here to attest to the fact that boys dig ’em, too.

I got one. And he was wow’ed by Maddy and Cora’s creations. Big time.

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

We tried two of the newer GoldieBlox sets:

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

 

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

 

GoldieBlox and the Movie Machine: Teaches kids how to make movies. Not even kidding.  When I first saw it, I was totally skeptical. But I read the book alongside Cora, and together we read about the bad news: The film festival was going to be cancelled because the projector was broken.

Goldie, the mechanical engineer of the group, calls her friends for some help. Valentina (the electrical engineer), Li (the token guy and environmental scientist), Ruby (the coding expert), Nacho (the dog), and Benjamin Cranklin (the cat), all work together to build a zoetrope.

Right. You don’t know what a zoetrope is, do you?

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

It’s all good. I didn’t, either.

A ‘zoetrope’ (pronounced just how it looks: zoey-trope), is the world’s first moving picture machine, friends.  You’ll learn all of this when you get the set, but in 1834 the zoetrope was born. It’s basically a cylinder on a spinning platform.  The cylinder has slits cut into it, and it has long strips of paper on its inside.  When the cylinder moves, it looks like the objects on the papers are moving due to the Persistence of Vision principle.

Sounds crazy but you’ll get it.

And when the zoetrope is built and after your child tries each of the movies (she can even make one of her own!), she can check out the GoldieBlox and the Movie Machine app (free from the iTunes store).

Cora and I haven’t even had a chance to scratch the surface of the app, but essentially, you can create short, animaged GIFs over there using their digital creation tools. You can save them and upload them to Bloxtown for others to see (coming soon!), or you can print them and put them into your brand, new zoetrope. So fun. So totally cool.

Check it out:

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GoldieBlox and the Builder’s Survival Kit: Maddy dove right into this set, which is bigger and geared more toward a slightly older age group.  Maddy loved this because of the freedom it afforded her.

She could basically flip through Goldie’s Diary of Inventions and build anything she wanted. The Diary seems just like a diary–scribbles, doodles, pictures, you name it. And information on her friends and family–just like a personal journal.

Who doesn’t like to have permission to read someone’s diary?

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

Instructions for building a Derby Racer, a drum set, a dog house, an ice-cream truck, and a tea cup ride (for real!) are followed by a few drawings of other inventions to create.

Maddy was quick to give me her official feedback which was:

She liked:

  • the many choices to build;
  • the diary to read;
  • that it was a really good pastime.

She wished:

  • that there was a little more detail in the pieces;
  • there was a little more detail in instructions.

 

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

 

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

However, it is worth noting that when Maddy stepped back, laid out all of the necessary pieces for the item she wanted to build, and took the time necessary to read and understand the given instructions, she was successful.

She had a tough time building the ice-cream truck at first, but when she started fresh with the tea cup ride, following all instructions and making sure to identify all of the necessary pieces before she began building, she met with success.

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

 

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn

As a parent, overall, I really liked:

  • the combination of reading and creating–I totally see why girls especially would love this;
  • the quality of materials--the parts are sturdy, the book is solid, and you can just tell that these are high-quality pieces;
  • that there are little action figures with the sets–not like big, fighting guys–but little sweet animals that can fit in the creations;
  • the design and layout–I love the concept, I love the design, and I love the look of everything;
  • the music videos, the cartoons, and the graphics on the app;
  • the extensions: the Bloxtown site, the Movie Machine app, the games, and fun for kids;
  • the message--that girls are ‘more than just another princess’ and that it’s cool to use their brains;
  • that Goldie has a melting pot of pals--really, her pals look a lot like my girls’ groups of friends, and I love it.

 

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

GoldiBlox for smart girls: read, create, and learn | teachmama.com

I do wish that:

  • some of the teeny, cardboard, interlocking tabs were a little easier for my girls to manage;
  • ‘GoldieBlox’ was spelled correctly–because I have a hard time with ‘x’ instead of ‘cks’ or ‘ks’.

 

And that’s it. Really, truly my new favorite go-to for birthday gifts and something I do look forward to exploring as the line evolves and grows over the next few years.  Six sets now, but growing, growing!

 

And just for kicks–check out the coolest video ever. Show your kids. They’ll be totally hooked:

————————————————————-

GIVEAWAY: One GoldieBlox gift pack–valued at $100.

Do you want to win your own GoldieBlox gift pack just in time for the holidays??!  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, November 7, 2014 at midnight ET and is open to folks here in the US only. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 11/07/14.  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 post is written as part of a paid partnership with GoldieBlox; however, 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 classroom engineers.  Affiliate links are used above. 

 

fall classroom decor: quick and easy for teachers and parents

fall classroom decor quick and easy for teachers and parents teachmama.com

sponsored post

 

 

 

fall classroom decor quick and easy for teachers and parents  teachmama.com

Fall is here! Already it seems as though the year is moving at light speed.

For many of us, whether we’re classroom teachers or homeschoolers or parent volunteers, now is a great time to put up some rockstar fall classroom décor. And the quicker and easier the décor, the better.

We need quick. We’re all busy. No matter what we’re doing, if we’re working with kids, we’re busy.

I’ve recently partnered with the good people at Staples–yes, believe it–and I’m throwing them some serious high-fives for the new line they’ve got. It’s chock full of classroom décor.

And though teachers will absolutely flip for this stuff, so, too, will parents.

Because not only are we talking about awesome decorations to brighten children’s classrooms, but we’re also talking awesome supplies for PTA boards, media centers, homework areas–you name it.

I’m really excited about it, so I’m giving one biggie classroom holiday décor gift set away.  It comes with décor for all seasons and then some.  Woot.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Fall Classroom Décor–Quick and Easy for Teachers and Parents:

 

fall classroom decor quick and easy for teachers and parents  teachmama.com

 

The coolest thing about any kind of classroom decorating is that kids–whether they’re your own children or whether they’re your students–love to help.  So my suggestion is to put them to work.

And though there are a million and one ways to decorate a bulletin board, the sets I looked at from Staples are pretty fool-proof. You don’t need a whole lot of ‘extras’ to make the board pop–and that’s a good thing.

fall classroom decor- quick and easy for teachers and parents

Though I am not currently in the classroom, my husband is the principal of a local elementary school, so between our own kids’ school and his, we have dozens of classrooms at our fingertips.

When I first chatted with Staples about a teacher to whom I could lend my classroom decorating services, I knew exactly who I’d help: a busy mom of three who just got back into the classroom.

She was totally game.

 

fall classroom decor- quick and easy for teachers and parents

 

fall classroom decor- quick and easy for teachers and parents

 

So Maddy, Owen, Cora, and I got to work one day last weekend to ‘spruce up’ her room a bit just in time to celebrate the fall season.

We used a handful of the fall decorations from Staples new classroom décor line, four pieces of construction paper, a little tissue paper and curling ribbon to make it pop, and that’s it. Voila.

fall classroom decor- quick and easy for teachers and parents

fall classroom decor- quick and easy for teachers and parents

 

Because this is a math classroom, I knew I wanted the boards to focus on math. I also knew that because the classroom is for third and forth grader math students, I wanted to make sure we had a welcoming area complete with student names for both grades.

We used some fall leaf cut-outs and pumpkin cut-outs for student names.   Quick, easy. Super cute.

Elementary schoolers aren’t always used to ‘traveling’ from classroom to classroom, so it’s a pretty big deal when they do.

 

fall classroom decor- quick and easy for teachers and parents

 

A lot of this line from Staples makes decorating super-easy: bright, bold, sturdy decorations and pre-cut letters.

Three-dimensional fall borders that seem to come to life with textured pop-outs. So cool.  And this little holiday moose? All you need to do is change its antlers each season, and you have a decoration that kids will love.

 

fall classroom decor- quick and easy for teachers and parents

fall classroom decor: quick and easy for teachers and parents

 

This fall pumpkin puzzle bulletin board set can be used in a dozen different ways. Each of the puzzle pieces is sturdy and laminated, so you can write on them with dry-erase markers–and it wipes off easily.

And it comes with ‘We all fit together’ mini-poster, a second poster, and a handful of smaller pumpkins.

 

fall classroom decor- quick and easy for teachers and parents

fall classroom decor- quick and easy for teachers and parents

 

We contemplated writing student names on the pieces, but we settled on writing math problems.  That way, while students walk through the hallway to their math classroom, they can get their brains moving and start getting in the math-mindset!

Really, though, you could use the fall pumpkin puzzle for anything: student birthdays, teachers, alphabet letters, you name it.

 

fall classroom decor- quick and easy for teachers and parents

 

fall classroom decor: quick and easy for teachers and parents

 

The classroom. Looks. AWE-some.

And it only took us about an hour or so–from start to finish–to get the job done.

Huge thanks to Staples for making more happen in the classroom with their expanded assortment of education and learning products. They’ve got basically everything you need for a rockstar classroom: classroom décor, activity books, teaching aids and more.

And Staples Teacher Rewards program gives participating teachers up to 5% back in Staples Rewards, free shipping on staples.com, 10% back in Staples Rewards on teaching and art supplies and ink recycling rewards. Bam. Who knew?

 

————————————————————-

GIVEAWAY: One classroom décor set for all seasons–and then some!–valued at $100.

Do you want to win your own classroom décor set to use either in your own classroom, to donate to your child’s teacher, or to use for your PTA, church, or homeschool??!  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, October 31, 2014 at midnight ET and is open to folks here in the US only. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 10/31/14.  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: I am proud to be a Staples partner, and this post was written as part of the #staplesclassroom campaign; however, 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 classroom decorators.

ipad toy for early math skills: tiggly counts

ipad toy for early math skills: tiggly counts combines physical learning and digital learning | teachmama.com & @tigglykids

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iPad toy? Right.ipad toy for early math skills: tiggly counts

When I heard about it, I thought the same exact thing.

We’re inundated with toys, and my kids are lucky to even have an iPad. Why do we need anything else? And how on earth could there be a toy for the iPad?

I’m honestly in awe.

This iPad toy is actually so cool. And the way it incorporates hands-on learning with digital learning blew my mind.

Tiggly Counts.  It’s an award-winning blend of physical play and digital play.

You want it. Stat.

And I not only have a sweet coupon code for you (30% off!–woot!) but I also have two Tiggly Counts sets to give away–just in time for the holidays! Read on.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • iPad Toy for Early Math Skills–Tiggly Counts: I’m a really tough critic when it comes to apps for my kids.

Especially because we have a close watch on the kids’ screen time and because there are about a gazillion apps on the market, I think we, as parents, should be super-choosy about who and what we’re letting into our lives.

So when I was asked by my friends at Tiggly to check out their new Tiggly Counts, I was curious to say the least.

ipad toy for early math skills: tiggly counts

 

Essentially, Tiggly Counts is an iPad toy that combines physical learning with digital learning. And it’s all about math. And it’s for our little guys–our preschoolers. 

I love it.

Kids ages three and older would especially like this toy, but always use your own judgement. I know my Owen would have totally dug this at 2 or 2 1/2, and I know that at 7 and 9, Cora and Owen really liked trying it out. Just worth noting.

ipad toy for early math skills: tiggly counts

ipad toy for early math skills: tiggly counts

Tiggly Counts comes with rods–these five rods that are durable and easy to manipulate for little hands–and they were actually inspired by the Cuisenaire rods used in Montessori education.  I know all our Montessori fans are dancing over this one.

The rods are used with the iPad apps. And for a mom who’s always careful about screen time, I love the combination of hands-on and digital learning, especially for basic skills like counting and number recognition.

Three apps were designed for this set each focus on math but cover slightly different areas: 

  • Tiggly Chef: covers numbers and early addition concepts,  math symbols, following instructions and thinking flexibly
  • Tiggly Adventures: introduces kids to number line concepts, number sense, and counting skills
  • Tiggly Cardtoons: basic math skills like one-to-one matching, counting, and equal sets

ipad toy for early math skills: tiggly countsBy far my kids loved Tiggly Chef the most, maybe because of the chef’s voice, maybe because of the silly creations, maybe it was more their speed, or maybe because of all the cooking they do over here. Whatever it was, they laughed out loud while playing this game. Super cute.

I wish, wish, wish I had this app when my kids were younger because it would have really helped build a foundation for strong math skills at an early age. I love the combination of saying the number, seeing the number, and seeing that number of objects. 

Overall, I love:

  • the combination of counting on the screen and then within the rods–because the rods’ windows are large enough to see the objects inside;
  • the wait time that this app allows. It moves slowly–but not too slow;
  • the graphics: simple, sweet, and cool;
  • the concepts: kids get these apps. They really do. They’re intuitive and designed for today’s digital kids;
  • the whole idea of bringing together physical play and digital play. It’s just. . . awesome.

 

ipad toy for early math skills: tiggly counts

ipad toy for early math skills: tiggly counts

 

Here’s the deal with this app, if you’re confused–anyone can grab the three apps in the iTunes store for free; however, the rods–the counting toys–come with the set. And these rods are what make Tiggly Counts super cool.

With the rods, kids are really interacting with the apps. They’re holding, physically counting, and moving objects on the screen.

Check out our video close-up:

 

Tiggly Counts isn’t even out on the shelves yet, but it will be very soon. It will be available in November, but folks are pre-ordering it now.

And I have a 30% coupon for you to use! Yaaaa-hoooooo. Just in time for the holidays.

 

ipad toy for early math skills: tiggly counts

 

All you have to do is visit the Tiggly Counts site (http://get.tiggly.com/counts) enter the code ILOVETIGGLY  for 30% off of your order.

This code is good through the end of October 2014.

However, I am giving away two Tiggly Counts sets to one lucky teachmama.com reader.  That way, you get to keep one for your kids and give one as a gift to a nephew, niece, friend, or relative. So fun, right?

————————————————————-

GIVEAWAY: Two sets of Tiggly Counts.

Do you want to win TWO sets of the new and amazing Tiggly Counts??!  Yes, yes you do.  

[PLEASE NOTE: prizes will not be delivered until mid-December 2014, so plan accordingly!]

——————————-

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, October 17, 2014 at midnight ET and is open to folks here in the US only. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 10/17/14.  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 a sponsored post; however, 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 digital kids.

nonfiction reading in the summer: our must-have picks

nonfiction reading in the summer: our must-have picks teachmama.com

nonfiction reading in the summer: our must-have picks

I’ve said this before: June and July are crazy for us with our busy swim and dive schedules.

So honestly, any downtime my kids can get, I’m totally thankful for.

Even when Maddy, Owen, and Cora are not at practice, they want to be at the pool, hanging with their pals and swimming it up.  In the sun, moving and not stopping.  It is summer after all.

And busy summer kids don’t really want to stop to read unless the reading’s really good.

I’ve had to find really good reads and really fun activities for them to do to even compete with the awesome summer they’re having.

Lucky for us, I’ve scored some pretty fab nonfiction reads that I can’t wait to share.

And? I even have one to give away to one lucky reader. So exciting!

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Nonfiction Reading in the Summer–Our Must-Have Picks:

There aren’t many must-have picks but there don’t have to be.  (This first one is seriously rockstar, and this is the one I’m giving away!)

nonfiction reading in the summer | teachmama.com

Not only is the almanac full of fun facts and articles about everything from our world, to animals, to science, history, or geography, it also has an interactive component.

Readers can scan the National Geographic Scanner App and any time they see a little icon, they can use an Apple device or android device and learn even more. It’s awesome.

nonfiction reading in the summer | teachmama.com

nonfiction reading in the summer | teachmama.com

 

Pages of the National Geographic Kids 2015 Almanac are full of color, fun fonts, photographs, and diagrams, and each little section is more exciting than the next. It’s almost as if National Geographic Kids pulled the best parts of their magazines and shoved them all into one happy little paperback.

I totally love the:

  • great size: perfect for small hands and pool bags.
  • extraordinary content: quick to digest, easy on the eyes, and memorable. Kids will be eager to pick it up and learn more about subjects that interest them.
  • fabulous conversation starters: kids will want to talk about what they read which is awesome. Awesome.
  • tons of possible extensions: great reasons for kids to follow-up, learn more about the topics, even do the related activities.
  • fun facts and cool nonfiction reading!

I love this book. I love that it’s full of nonfiction reading that kids truly love, that they can pick up and digest in small doses–whenever they have the time!

The random facts that my kids are sharing at totally random times is absolutely a riot.

Did YOU know that Twinkies actually are not the best food for survival kits because their shelf life is only 45 days? Me neither. it’s on page 110.

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nonfiction reading in the summer: our must-have picks

What I love about this collection is that the books are small and fit easily in the pool bag or backpack, and they’re chocked full of fun info for kids.

Every single fact begins with a ‘why’ question:

Why do football players put black grease under their eyes?

Why did Franklin Roosevelt use a wheelchair? 

Why are the Earth’s icecaps melting? 

Why are there so many different kinds of dogs? 

And each answer is accompanied by photos, illustrations, or drawings to explain the answer.

Super for kids to pick up on the go, read, and share with their pals.

 

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GIVEAWAY: Your very own copy of the National Geographic Kids 2015 Almanac.

Do you want to win your very own copy of the National Geographic Kids 2015 Almanac.??!  Yes, yes you do.

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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, July 25, 2014 at midnight ET and is open to folks here in the US only. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 07/25/14.  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.

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fyi: I am proud to be a part of the National Geographic Kids Insiders Group.  This is an unsponsored post; 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 nonfiction readers.

mother’s day giveaway: $100 at-home spa kit (& win 20 more gifts for Mom!)

at home spa kit giveaway from whole foods mother's day giveaway series teachmama.com

at home spa kit giveaway from whole foods | mother's day giveaway series teachmama.com

Mother’s Day is the ideal time to treat yourself–or your mama–to something relaxing, peaceful, calming.

It’s a day to celebrate and thank your mom–and your grandma, Nana, great grandma, mother-in-law–any and all those rockstar mother figures in your life.

And this year, I’m taking a break from the crafts and cards and homemade gifts for Mom (I’ll get to them later, I promise!), and right now I’m thrilled to share a rockin Mother’s Day Giveaway Series.

Much like the Holiday Giveaway we did in December, this Mother’s Day Giveaway Series will take you on a round-the-net tour of 20+ top-notch, superstar, veteran bloggers’ sites, each with her own Mother’s Day Giveaway. Seriously.

Pour yourself a cuppa, sit back, relax, and check ’em out.

But first? Huge and happy thanks to Whole Foods for partnering with me for my giveaway. I am a huge fan of pampering myself (I work hard, so I deserve it!), and you should be too. This parenting gig? Hard.  So give yourself a break.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Mother’s Day Giveaway–$100 at-home spa kit (& Win 20 More Gifts for Mom–or YOU!)

The super cool thing is that this giveaway is part of a rockstar fabulous Mother’s Day Giveaway Series.  Each of the blogs in the linky is hosting a giveaway for one prize, and each person will select one winner.

Enter each giveaway that you want a chance at winning. SO cool, right? There will be 23 total winners! Your chances of winning are big.

Check out the linky below this post for over 20 more giveaways that you can–and should!–enter.  I’m thrilled to be a part of it, along with the amazing women below. 

mothers day giveaway series | teachmama.com

 

Okay, back to our giveaway.  Whole Foods was super-kind enough to send me a bunch of the goodies they’re going to send my winner, and I love this stuff.  Like really, truly love it.

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Even when it comes to something as simple as handwash, you really should be using a product that you love. Think about how many times a day you use it. It should make you happy. This Lavender Hand Soap & Lotion Duo? Love.  It sits right by our sink in the kitchen, and it smells great and looks sleek.

Our prize includes some of the best and latest items for beauty and wellness–and there’s bound to be something you, too, will really love.

 

at home spa mother's day giveaway | teachmama.com

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The teachmama.com winner will receive the Mineral Fusion nailpolish, Acure Argan Oil Bar Soap, 365 Everyday Value Bubble Bath, Acure Moroccan Argan Oil, Whole Foods Market Lavender Hand Soap & Lotion Duo, 365 Everyday Maximum Moisture Lotion, and more. It’s a $100 value.

All. For. You!

So go ahead. Enter. And cross your fingers! You’re doing so much for your kids, your work, and your spouse–time to treat you.

(Items will come via mail, without the basket or bowl in pictures.)

 

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GIVEAWAY: $100 at-home spa kit from Whole Foods!

Do you want to win $100 at-home spa kit from Whole Foods? (check it out below!)  Yes, yes you do.

 

at home spa kit giveaway from whole foods  mother's day giveaway series teachmama.com.png

 

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, May 2, 2014 at midnight ET and is open to US residents only. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 05/02/14.  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 fashion-forward gal.  I did receive components of the DIY-At-Home Spa Kit from the company, but it was my choice to include them in this giveaway.  

 


get kids interested in language and the world: little pim twitter event, 4.29.14

get kids interested in language and the world: little pim twitter event, 4.29.14

Kids who know about their world will naturally care for it more too.get kids interested in language and the world: little pim twitter event, 4.29.14

Little Pim is a language learning system that hopes to do more than teach your child another language they want to make your kids more interested in the world.

We are chatting all about how to get your kids interested and involved in caring for the planet and would love to hear your ideas! Come chat with us Tuesday April 29th at 9pm EST on Twitter. There are a bunch of Little Pim prizes as well as a Trio Android tablet.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Get Kids Interested in Language and the World– Little Pim Twitter event, 4.29.14:

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

get kids interested in language and the world: little pim twitter event, 4.29.14

What: We will be chatting about how to get your kids interested and involved in caring for the planet
Why: Because we all need to raise earth-friendly, worldly kids!
Where: Twitter! (http://twitter.com) #SmartSpring
When: Tuesday, 4.29.14 from 9-10 pm ET
How:

  1. Before the event, rsvp here: http://bit.ly/1jJhngl
  2. On 4.29.14, log onto twitter
  3. Follow the hashtag #SmartSpring
  4. Tweet, re-tweet (RT), and tweet some more!
  5. Optional: Share YOUR fave photos, tips, tricks, and ideas for ways to get kids involved in caring for the planet!

 

Helpful hints:

  • use tweetchat (http://tweetchat.com/room/SmartSpring) 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 (@NoFlashCards & @LittlePim and panelists @teachmama & @pragmaticmom) so you don’t miss a beat!

We look forward to chatting with you on Tuesday, April 29th, and we are psyched to connect with you!

RSVP HERE Everyone who RSVPs you will receive an exclusive Little Pim discount code to use during and after the party!

fyi:  this post is sponsored by Little Pim.