sweet, sparkly flower craft for kids: read, learn, create

sparkly flower craft.jpg
post contains affiliate links

The following sweet, springtime guest post is written by the incredibly creative mom and teacher, Kristina Buskirk, of Toddler Approved.  Toddler Approved is a must-read.

Even though my babies are well beyond toddlerhood, I still read Kristina’s blog because it’s top notch.

____________________

  • Sweet, Sparkly Flower Craft for Kids–Read, Learn, Create by Kristina Buskirk

sparkly flower craft for kids: teachmama.com

Learning and creating is always more fun if a book is involved.

We are big fans of reading books and then doing book-inspired activities to go along with them! Each month I host Virtual Book Club for Kids, and I also do a children’s book themed co-op preschool with some friends.
I am always on the lookout for awesome book inspired ideas and have fun creating a few new ones as well.

Last week we read Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert and created a super simple sparkly flower craft to go along with it using muffin tin liners.

Planting a Rainbow is a darling book that helps kids understand how to plant seeds and grow a beautiful garden. The illustrations in the book are gorgeous, and the story introduces flowers in all the colors of the rainbow. My little students always enjoy chiming in as we read each page, look at the colors, and say the color names.
Since my little preschool students loved talking about colors and making colorful things, we decided to make sparkly & colorful muffin tin liner flowers.

Materials Needed: glue, colorful muffin tin liners, cardstock, green paper, scissors, markers, and sequins.

How to make sparkly flowers…

We started by coloring the inside of the muffin tin liners with markers, and then we cut thin pieces of green paper to make stems and leaves.
Next, we glued the stems, leaves, and muffin tin liners to our colorful cardstock.
Finally, we added a bunch of glue to the center of the muffin tin liners and then kids sprinkled (or dumped) sequins inside their muffin tin liners to make them extra colorful.
As we created, the kids talked about their flowers and decided what type they wanted to make, based on the new flower words they’d learned in Planting a Rainbow. I loved listening to the discussions about colors and color mixing as they covered their muffin tins in marker and sequins.
After we finished our art project and put it aside to dry, we read Planting a Rainbow again, and it was neat to the see the new connections the kids made with the book after having had a creative book inspired crafting experience.
There are so many simple ways to help kids connect with books while also creating and having a lot of fun.

Here are five of our other favorite books and some simple creative activities to do along with them…

You can find even more book inspired crafts and activities on our Children’s Book Related Crafts & Activities Pinterest Boar

Thank you, thank you, Kristina!  You ROCK.  We appreciate your post and expertise!!

Camp Sunny Patch Honor Counselor Kristina of ToddlerApproved.comKristina is a mom of three and the founder of Toddler Approved, a blog where she helps parents capitalize on teachable moments in everyday life and motivates them to discover, create, and learn with their children. 
You can connect with Kristina on on FacebookGoogle +, Pinterest, and Twitter.

 

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

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

 rockstar sunday promo teachmama

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

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

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

other posts in the series:

chick hatching: fun for kids and families

chick hatching at home teachmama.com cover .png

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

We. Love. Chickens.

Really, we do.

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

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

We love chick hatching.

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

Seriously.

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

Here’s the skinny. . .

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

It was so much fun, it was nuts.

chick hatching | teachmama.com

chick hatching | teachmama.com

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

Whatever the reason, we loved chick hatching.

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

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

chick hatching | teachmama.com

chick hatching | teachmama.com

chick hatching | teachmama.com

Fun facts about our chick hatching experience:

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

chick hatching | teachmama.com

 

chick hatching | teachmama.com

Check out all of our chick hatching photos:

————————————————————-

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

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

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

amy tyler text

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

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

 

chick hatching | teachmama.com

 

————————————————————-

chick hatching checklist

chick hatching checksheet | teachmama.com

download yours: chick hatching checklist | teachmama.com

————————————————————-

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

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

——————————-

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

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

——————————-

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

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

 

This giveaway ends Friday, April 4, 2014 at midnight ET and is open to folks here in the DC Metro only; our friends from Rent a Coop can only bring eggs or send their chickens so far, you know. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 04/04/14.  Winner must respond within three (3) days of notification or forfeit the prize, in which case an alternate winner will be selected.  All Official Sweepstakes Rules apply.

 

fyi: This is an unsponsored post, but our family was given the opportunity to try our hand at raising baby chicks and hatching chickens for four weeks in exchange for sharing a bit about Rent a Coop.  As always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my personal experience as a parent and educator–and, of course, my three little chicken-loving littles.

Affiliate links are used below.

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

creativity and kids kid made modern teachmama.com.png

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

creativity and kids  kid made modern  teachmama.com.png

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

Today?  It’s even more exciting.

No joke.

It’s all about raising creative kids.

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

Seriously.

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

$150 gift card to Target. Bam.

Here’s the skinny. . .

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

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

 

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

Do you just adore Todd Oldham?

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

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

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

————————————————————-

GIVEAWAY: $150 gift card to Target!

Do you want to win $150 gift card to Target??!  Yes, yes you do.

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  By entering this giveaway, you are demonstrating your understanding of and compliance with the Official Sweepstakes Rules. This giveaway ends Friday, March 28, 2014 at midnight ET and is open to US residents only. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 03/28/14.  Winner must respond within three (3) days of notification or forfeit the prize, in which case an alternate winner will be selected.  All Official Sweepstakes Rules apply.  fyi: This is an unsponsored post, and my opinions, as always, are my very own, influenced only by my experience as a parent, educator, and member of Target’s Inner Circle Program.   Affiliate links are used in this post.

pet poetry contest: calling all creative kids!

pal pet poetry contest

sponsored post

 

 

 

pet poetry contest | @PetsAddLife

As a longtime friend of PAL, Pets Add Life, I’m happy to share news about a cool opportunity for our students, teachers, and parents.

Now through January 31, 2014, Pets Add Life invites students in grades 3 – 8 to enter the 6th Annual Pets Add Life Children’s Poetry Contest and write a poem about their pets.   So fun.

All entrants have a chance at winning a $250 gift card and a byline in a national publication or online outlet.  But there’s more.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Pet Poetry Contest–Calling All Creative Kids:  Pets Add Life is a nonprofit campaign established by the American Pet Products Association.

And I love that PAL does this every year to not only get kids writing (yay!) but to celebrate our furry, feathery, scaly, fuzzy friends.

Love pets? Your creative student could win $250 plus $1,000 for their classroom!

That’s right.  Each winning student’s classroom will receive $1,000 to spend on pet-related education!

pal pet poetry contest

Teachers are encouraged to submit students’ poems in one entry on behalf of their classrooms. For more information or to submit poems, visit www.PetsAddLife.org.

PAL_logo_hiYou can enter the contest here: PAL Pet Poetry Contest.

Thinking about entering? We are too! Please stay in touch and let us know if your kiddo–or student–is a winner!

fyi: This is a sponsored post; I was asked to share information about this contest by my friends at PAL, and I gladly obliged knowing it’s a serious win-win!

holiday card stencils and balloon stamps

holiday stencils and balloon painting

holiday stencils and balloon painting cover

Thank you Dollar Tree and the Dollar Tree Value Seekers Club for making this post possible!  

This year, we’re spicing our holiday cards up a bit.

For the past few years, our cards have become super-quick assembly line of envelope-stuffing, sealing, and stamping. Even our address labels are stickers.

This time, we’re spicing our cards up a bit. Actually, some help from Dollar Tree, we’re spicing up our holiday card envelopes.  That’s right—the very first thing our friends and family will see from us, and it’s going to be totally rockstar.

We’re taking the Dollar Tree Value Seekers Club craft, Balloon Painting, to a whole new level.

We’ve made super-simple stencils from Dollar Tree posterboard and a stamper out of Dollar Tree balloons. A few swirls of poster paint and a bit of time to dry, and we have very simply added a pretty, festive, fancy touch to our holiday cards.

 

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Holiday Card Stencils and Balloon Stamps:

holiday stencils balloon painting

holiday stencils balloon painting

Really, all we did was slightly modify the super-easy steps on the Dollar Tree Value Seekers Club Balloon Painting tutorial and change our colors.

This is a holiday craft that my kiddos loved because though they stuff our holiday cards every year, this year, the fun factor was a bit higher. We all had more fun looking at our blinged out envelopes compared to the plain-Jane white envelopes of holidays past.

No matter what you put inside your holiday cards this year, it’s what you put on the outside of your card that will get people talking.

holiday stencils balloon painting

You’ll need:

  • Blank envelopes
  • Poster paint
  • Balloons
  • Disposable plate and knife
  • one piece of poster board

holiday stencils balloon painting

1.  First, we created holiday-inspired stencils. We wanted small and simple, and we wanted three basic designs.  We made a tree, a star, and a package.

Want some Holiday Stencils so you can do some balloon painting? You can download the stencil template here: wintertime holiday stencils

2.  Then we cut out the shapes on the posterboard.

3.  Then we dropped paint. We put coordinating paint blobs on a disposable plate: yellow, green and blue for the tree; red, purple, and white for the package; and yellow and orange for the star.

The kids slightly, ever so gently swirled the paint on the plate with a knife to blend the colors.

holiday stencils balloon painting

4.  Next came the balloons! We partially blew up a few balloons, and this is what Maddy, Owen, and Cora loved. We talked about how the balloon needed to be just the right size so that we could hold it without slipping and so it wouldn’t pop as we stamped it.

5.  Finally, we stamped, stamped, and stamped some more!  We used the balloons as stamps, filling in the holiday stencils on the front of each envelope.

holiday stencils balloon painting

holiday stencils balloon painting

 

holiday stencils balloon painting

holiday stencils balloon painting

We let the envelopes dry completely.

And that’s it—so quick and so simple, but a really extra-special touch to holiday cards.

Don’t have time to balloon paint your holiday card envelopes? No problem!

holiday stencils balloon painting

Consider using Holiday Card Stencils and Balloon Stamps to:

  • make your holiday cards
  • make holiday gift tags
  • decorate holiday gift bags
  • make simple holiday ornaments

The possibilities are endless, though the craft is so simple!

holiday stencils balloon painting finished

 __________________________

Contest is closed as of 12/26/13. . . winner chosen by random.org is Tara Z.

GIVEAWAY: $100 Dollar Tree gift card

Do you want to win $100 Dollar Tree gift card??!  Yes, yes you do.

  • Then leave a comment below sharing which project from the club you want to try first.

 __________________________

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

This giveaway ends Thursday, December 26, 2013 at midnight ET. Winner will be chosen by  and will be notified on or around 12/26/13.  Winner must respond within one (1) day of notification or forfeit the prize, in which case an alternate winner will be selected.  All Official Sweepstakes Rules apply.

fyi: This post was made possible by a partnership between Dollar Tree Value Seekers Club and The Blueprint Social.  As always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator and my three little holiday-crafters.

 

Want a few more holiday-inspired gift ideas or activities? Check out:

must have gifts for kids and families | teachmama.com

gifts for sunday school teachers or CCD teachers | teachmama.com

 

kids and family gift guide from teachmama.com

 

teachmama gift guide 2012

 

 

holiday gift guide | teachmama.com

 

holiday giveaway: 26 fabulous gifts for women (stuff I totally love)

holiday giveaway: 26 fabulous gifts for women (stuff I totally love)

jewelry giveaway from towne and reese cover

Holiday giveaway SERIES, I should say.

That’s right. Twenty-six giveaways, and you’ll love each and every one of them.  It’s a rockstar line-up of 26 bloggers, each of whom is running a giveaway between December 5-17.

Sure, it’s a break from the learning in the every day norm over here.

But because the majority of my readers are women, the majority of whom will be shopping for other women in the next few weeks, and the majority of whom deserve a little something nice for themselves even, I’m thinking that many will love this holiday-happy change.

I sure do. I love nearly every single thing that these gals are giving away.

Not joking.

 

super fab holiday giveaway

But I totally love what I’m giving away–jewelry! scarves! accessories you will love!

I’m giving away $100 to Towne & Reese, my new favorite stop for affordable–but seriously super-cute accessories.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Holiday Giveaway–26 Fabulous Gifts for Women: Towne & Reese is a women-owned brand started by two friends, Christi Pack and Jessica Stanfield, who wanted affordable, cute accessories that wouldn’t break the bank.

The company is named for their two daughters, and each piece celebrates lifelong friendships.  Each product in the line is named for a child of those who are a part of the Towne & Reese extended family.  Love it.

My favorites?

towne and reese giveaway | gift ideas for women

Loooooove the Meredith necklace.

holiday giveaway teachmama.com

Looooove the Jillian earrings in deep teal.

Looooove the Callie bracelet, the Kate earrings, and the Rosie earrings. Love the rings. Scarves. And longer chain necklaces.  Really.

Love. Them. All.

————————————————————-

GIVEAWAY: $100 gift card to Towne & Reese!

Do you want to win $100 gift card to Towne & Reese??!  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 Tuesday, December 17, 2013 at midnight ET and is open to US residents only. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 12/17/13.  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 several pieces of Towne & Reese jewelry from the company, but it was my choice to include them in this giveaway.

elf, the broadway musical: discount tickets and giveaway- baltimore lyric opera house

elf the broadway musical lyric opera house

post contains affiliate links

 

 

elf the broadway musical lyric opera house

elf, the broadway musical, is coming to the Baltimore Lyric Opera House next week.

And I’ve got two tickets to give to a teachmama.com reader and a rockin discount code for everyone else.

Not in or around the Baltimore area? No sweat. elf the musical is hitting the whole country.  It’s bound to be near you sometime between now and mid-January.

Not hitting your area? Buy elf, the movie. It’s a total riot. Not the same as elf: the Broadway musical, but hey–I’m trying to get everyone on board now that our family has found elf.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • elf–Broadway Musical: Discount Tickets and Giveaway for Baltimore Lyric Opera House: My family literally just discovered elf, the movie with Will Ferrell, last year.

Not joking.  My sisters and friends were in complete disbelief when I shared on Facebook: Found the BEST holiday movie ever–elf!

Responses:

  • Amy. Are you kidding?
  • Where have you been?
  • You must be joking.
  • You’ve JUST seen it? Have you been living under a rock?
  • That’s the best holiday movie of all time–your poor kids!

Not really sure how that happened that we missed it for so long, but one lucky, day we stumbled upon it.  It was playing as a holiday tv special.  From that day on, we were hooked.

elf really is a hysterical, absolutely silly, totally hilarious movie.

And now? It’s on stage.

elf: the broadway musical

elf the broadway musical

And it’s coming to the Baltimore Lyric Opera House next week. And I’m giving away two tickets to two lucky teachmama readers.  SO fun.

Can’t get there on Friday, November 22? No prob.  Use the code FAMILY to buy one, get one FREE on tickets for Sunday evening, November 24!

 

GIVEAWAY: one set of TWO tickets to elf: the Broadway Musical at the Baltimore Lyric Opera House on Friday, November 22, 2013 at 7:30pm.

Do you want to win TWO tickets to elf: the Broadway Musical at the Baltimore Lyric Opera House on Friday, November 22, 2013 at 7:30pm??!  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 Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at midnight ET and is open to anyone and everyone who can make the Friday 22, 2013 7:30 pm show. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 11/20/13.  Winner must respond within one (1) day of notification or forfeit the prize, in which case an alternate winner will be selected.  Tickets will be picked up at Will Call on 11/22/13.  All Official Sweepstakes Rules apply.

fyi: I received a family pack of tickets in exchange for writing this post.  As always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my personal experience as a parent and educator.

Affiliate links are used in this post.

 

little pim #smartholiday

Twitter-Party-Invite

Twitter-Party

Have you heard about Little Pim’s Language Learning programs?

Comprehensive language-learning for kiddos through their ‘Entertainment Immersion Method’?

I have known that my good pal Allie McDonald has worked with them in the past, so when she asked me to participate in a pre-holiday Twitter event to discuss gifts that promote learning, I was totally game.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Little Pim #SmartHoliday:

Who: Parents, teachers, caregivers, and YOU!

Hosts: @NoFlashCards@LittlePim

Panelists: @teachmama , @pragmaticmom , @TaraZiegmont

What: We will be talking about how to give #SmartHoliday gifts that promote learning all year long.
Why: Because who doesn’t want to give gifts that really count?!
Where: Twitter! (http://twitter.com) #SmartHoliday

Twitter-Party-Invite

When: Tuesday, November 12,  from 9-10 pm ET
How:

  1. Before the event, rsvp here: Little Pim twitter event
  2. On 11.12.13, log onto twitter
  3. Follow the hashtag #SmartHoliday
  4. Tweet, re-tweet (RT), and tweet some more!

Helpful hints:

We look forward to chatting with you on Tuesday, November 12th, and we are psyched for a holiday of fun learning!

If you aren’t familiar with Little Pim check them out here and at amazon.com/littlepim !

Do not forget to RSVP because it’s the only way to be eligible for the prizes. RSVP HERE!

neighborhood toy store day: kick off holiday shopping locally! *sponsored*

neighborhood toy story day

sponsored post

 

 

Did you know?neighborhood toy story day

The 4th annual Neighborhood Toy Store Day will be held on Saturday, November 9, 2013 to help kick off the holiday shopping season!

I have sung the sweet song of my love of my local toy store before, and I’ll sing it again: I love my local toy store!

And honestly? I had no idea that there was a special day to support my neighborhood toy store and all of the other rockstar neighborhood toy stores around the country, but it sure makes me happy. Who knew?

This weekend, many stores around the country will be kicking off the holiday season with cool events for their customers—face painting, crafts, special performances, and great discounts.   Will your toy store be involved?

Read on to find out.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Neighborhood Toy Store Day– Kick Off Holiday Shopping Locally: Though I’m super-sad my personal fave neighborhood toy store isn’t participating  in Neighborhood Toy Store Day, many others in my area are.

It seems to me like it’s a good reason to do some exploring locally to peruse some other local toy stores. I’m betting my kids will love it, too.

To find out whether your local toy store is participating in the event this weekend, visit: yourneighborhoodtoystore.org.

neighborhood toy story day

 

Need a refresher about why neighborhood toy stores totally rock the house?

  • They provide a diverse product selection.  Think: unique toys and specialty brands that you can’t find at national chain store.
  • They provide economic stability!  Think: local jobs and tax dollars
  • They help witih community development. Think: support for a friendly, thriving neighborhood
  • They contribute to reduced environmental impact. Think: less travel, traffic and carbon usage for consumers
  • They provide better customer service. Think: more time to build relationships.

neighborhood toy story day

neighborhood toy story day

Too far from any neighborhood toy store and still want to play at home?  You can!

The good folks at ASTRA are celebrating the fun of shopping for toys at your local toy store with an ‘I Heart My Neighborhood Toy Store’ Sweepstakes.  Believe it.

Through November 8, 2013, log in and win some seriously huge prizes. A family vacation. Crazy toy prizes from fab brands that we all love. Big prizes and lots of ‘em.  All well over $200 each.  Check it out.

Visit www.yourneighborhoodtoystore.org to enter to win the following sweepstakes:

What can you win?

  • A Grand Prize Vacation Package: the family vacation of a lifetime at select all inclusive Hard Rock Hotels in Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
  • One gift basket of Kidoozie products from International Playthings valued at $250
  • One gift basket of Calico Critter products from International Playthings valued at $250
  • One gift basket of earlyears products from International Playthings valued at $250
  • Gift certificates for Playmobil products.  Two winners will receive a $250 Playmobil gift certificate each to be redeemed at an ASTRA-affiliated retailer
  • One gift basket of assorted Best Toys for Kids winning product from ASTRA valued at $250

Learn more at Facebook.com/TheWoohooFactor or on Twitter at @TheWoohooFactor

To check out the full list of this year’s winners and find a local toy store near you, visit YourNeighborhoodToyStore.org

 

fyi: This is a sponsored post, written as part of the ASTRA Blog Ambassador program.  As always, my opinions and ideas reflect my experience as a parent, teacher, and lover of all things done in the name of learning and fun!

teach kids to be smart, strong, and safe: the safety show

teach kids to be smart strong safe

sponsored post

 

 

Talking big topics with your kids is sometimes so hard.teach kids to be smart strong safe

Especially if you’re as emotional a person as I am.

But as our kids get older, these conversations have to be as regular as breathing. We’ve got to talk openly and often about cyber safety, bullying, stranger safety, scary news, hunger, and all those topics we wish didn’t exist but really do.

We’ve got to do everything we can to prepare our kids for this big game of life–the good, bad, and the ugly.

I feel grateful to have the opportunity to work with a brand whose sole focus is to help parents raise ‘good people’.  A lot of what I write about here deals with just that—how we, as parents, can raise kids who are well-rounded, smart, savvy, and safe.

Our kids don’t need to be perfect. We don’t need to be perfect. We just need to be good. people.

So when The Mother Company asked me to check out their new show about keeping kids safe, you know I jumped on the opportunity.

The cool thing is that everyone wins here.

The Mother Company is offering teachmama.com readers three rockstar opportunities: a sweet discount code, the chance to win one of three copies of The Safety Show, and an invite to one of their Safety Show screening parties around the country.

Not kidding.

Here’s the skinny. . .

The goal of The Safety Show? To ‘inspire, inform, and empower’.

 mother co 'the safety show'

 mother co 'the safety show'

I love it.

And it really does.

The Safety Show is about an hour. It takes place in Ruby’s Studio and consists of a series of animated, stop-motion, and music videos –short sketches tied together with the same important theme–staying smart, strong, and safe.

Kids are reminded to:

  • listen to your gut
  • ask for help
  • speak up for themselves
  • own their body.

 mother co 'the safety show'

 mother co 'the safety show'

The Safety Show is easy for kids to relate to because they can connect to the situations in the shorts. They hear the kids speaking and nod because they ‘get’ what they are saying.

This heavy topic isn’t made light with silliness or nonsense in an attempt to make kids laugh to relieve the anxiety they feel; rather, kids are empowered to listen to their ‘uh-oh’ feeling, to ask for help, and to speak up for themselves. They’re learning that it’s okay to say ‘NO.’

Check out a trailer for The Safety Show here:


So great, right?

What I also love is the Boss of My Body video, which you can check out below:

It empowers kids to be the boss of their body under all circumstances–with their peers on the playground, with adults, with friends, with anyone.  No matter their age or size, this song reminds kids that they ‘hold the key to the safety of me’.

————————————————————-

The Safety Show: Launch Events —  are you nearby? The Mother Company would love to have YOU attend their free launch events for The Safety Show!

  • New York: October 19 & 20
  • San Francisco: October 27
  • Chicago: November 9
  • Dallas: November 16

————————————————————-

Special friends & family discount code for all teachmama.com readers

  • 25% off of your entire order when you purchase The Safety Show
  • at checkout use code:  safe143
  • think: family, friends, schools, troops, & more

————————————————————-

GIVEAWAY: one of THREE copies of Ruby’s Studio: The Safety Show 

Do you want to win your own copy of Ruby’s Studio: The Safety Show??!  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 1, 2013 at midnight ET and is open to anyone and everyone because the copy of The Safety Show will be available via electronic download. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 11/1/13.  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 sponsored post, written as part of The Mother Company’s Blog Ambassador program.  As always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my personal experience as a parent and educator.

5 reasons families need backyard chickens (no, this is not a joke)

why families need backyard chickens cover

post contains affiliate links

 

 

We love chickens.backyard chickens for families teachmama.com

We really do.

We love backyard chickens.

As in, we love them thanks to two hens who came to us from Rent a Coop here in the DC Metro area and stayed with us for four weeks.

Kiki and Jennifer.

Though they were admittedly not the first chickens we ever knew (my close friends and family are nodding–or shaking their heads– remembering fondly the days of Peepers and Pappy), but they were the first plump, sweet, free-range feathered girls we ever really loved.

And now that they’re gone? We miss them. We talk about them often, and we laugh about the good times we had with them.  The kids do Kiki and Jennifer impressions.

Brady still mopes around our yard, wondering where his feathered sisters have gone.

Have you thought about giving backyard chickens a try? Sure you have.  And now’s your chance. Our friends from Rent a Coop are offering one teachmama.com reader the chance to have backyard chickens for four weeks, just like we did.

Or if the backyard chicken experience isn’t for you, then they’ll let you in on their chick hatching program which we’re trying for ourselves this winter.  Wetotallycannotwait.

 

backyard chickens for families teachmama.com

And we can hardly wait.  Have I said that? We can’t.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • 5 Reasons Families Should Have Backyard Chickens (& How YOUR Family Can Do It):  Backyard chickens may seem crazy, silly, ridiculous to you, but I’m totally convinced that they are an awesome addition to any family.

Clarification: many families.

Sure, with any pet, you’ve got to make sure it’s the right time and that you have the time, effort, and energy to care for them. But these girls? So easy.

 

backyard chickens for families teachmama.com

 

1.  Your family will learn so, so, so much.  We all learned so much about chickens, and we’re still learning.  Our friends learned a ton about chickens.

No one in our world really knows about chickens, which is why having them in our backyard was so much fun.

We learned that chickens love treats.

backyard chickens sept

backyard chickens sept

We learned that our chickens wanted to be close to us and would never wander far.

We learned that chickens like to be held, ride on tire swings, and spend time on tricycles.

We learned that chickens like to drink water from dog bowls.

And we learned a whole lot more.

backyard chickens for learning and fun teachmama.com

2.  Gathering eggs? So fun.  It’s like Christmas morning every time you run out to the coop.  It was the perk of whomever’s day it was to be the one to pick up the eggs.  So fun.

It took Kiki and Jennifer a few days to get into a schedule of laying eggs, but soon they’d each lay one egg sometime late morning.

And what we learned about eggs is that no–even if we didn’t eat the eggs and prayed hard enough they still wouldn’t hatch into chicks.

You need a rooster for that.  You’re nodding your head, right? Now you get it.  Everyone who came to see the chickens wondered the same thing–what makes the eggs hatch? It’s the rooster, yo.  Learned that for myself from the BackYard Chickens FAQs.

Also what’s cool about the eggs is that there you go–you have breakfast right there in your own backyard. Owen learned to make his very first scrambled eggs–all by himself this summer. And he got the eggs from Kiki and Jennifer. We’re like basically self-sufficient over here.

 

backyard chickens for learning and fun teachmama.com

Sometimes Maddy just likes wearing Harry Potter robe around the yard. Jennifer liked it.

3.  Chickens are so easy.  Seriously.  We put their organic feed in the feed bowl and only had to refill it every few days. We did the same thing with their water.   Every week-ish we cleaned out the coop and put in new wood shavings. Voila. Done.

They do not bite, and their pecks are so gentle.

They’ll eat anything almost, and they love treats. (Check out the Chicken Eats & Treats sheet we had hanging in the kitchen for the last four weeks!)

Kiki and Jennifer let Maddy, Owen, and Cora hold them, carry them, love them, hold them, and carry them more.

They actually got along with Brady.  And by ‘got along’ I mean, Brady chased them and they let him.

 

backyard chickens for learning and fun teachmama.com

backyard chickens for family fun and learning

backyard chickens for family fun and learning

4.  Chickens are hilarious.

They look really funny when they run.  And they’ll run for just about any treat.

Want a few more funny chicken videos? head to my Instagram account
They are just plain hysterical to see in a suburban backyard, in the same way that it’s funny for kids to see their teachers outside of the school building. It’s just not–the norm.

So when you are eating breakfast and your pet chicken hops up on your porch and struts by your sliding glass door, the kids will go nuts crazy laughing.

When you’re doing dishes and see your kids holding a chicken on their hips, walking around your back yard or swinging with a chicken on their laps, you’ll laugh.

When you hear your kids tell other people about your chickens? When you all watch a chicken shove its face into a watermelon, peck a tomato, or steal grapes from your hand? All funny.

 

backyard chickens for learning and fun teachmama.com

backyard chickens for learning and fun teachmama.com

5.  Your kids will be so proud. They will love becoming experts on chickens.

They will be beaming as they demonstrate to their friends and neighbors how to properly hold a chicken.

They will love to be able to show family members how awesome their chickens are.

They will love to have people come by to visit and meet your chickens.

 

What you need to think about if you’re considering chickens:

  • chicken poop: Though it’s supposedly great for your grass, it is there as it is with any pet.
  • chickens peck and scratch: If your yard is 100% awesome and perfect, mulch spread out of flower beds may bug you. Our yard? We hardly noticed.
  • HOA rules: Your housing development or neighborhood or county may have rules about keeping backyard chickens.

 

Check out all of our backyard chicken photos:

————————————————————-

Huge thanks to Tyler from Rent a Coop for making our backyard chicken experience so easy.  He rolled on up with our coop and the two sweetest hens around, bringing everything we needed for the whole four weeks.  I had not a clue that we’d love Kiki and Jennifer as much as we did. The experience was so much fun for us all, and we really hope to do it again this spring.

Tyler quickly and patiently answered my wide range of insane texts: They’re not laying eggs! What’s wrong?  (It’s okay–it takes them a day or two to get comfortable–), and he worked around our schedule for drop-off and pick-up.

He didn’t flinch when he came to pick them up and there were 50 kids and adults in the house and yard or when Cora followed him to his van, peeking through the coop window yelling, Bye, Kiki and Jennifer!!! We love you and we will miss yooooooou!!

Cool fact: Tyler makes the coops–as in constructs them himself with recycled materials, and it’s easy to move (you’ll move it around your yard every few days), and it’s predator proof.

Check them out on their Rent a Coop site.  Follow them on their facebook page.  Follow them on twitter and instagram–and bug them like I do to share more photos of their hens.

backyard chickens sept

Let’s just pretend Owen’s wearing matching shoes. . .

backyard chickens for learning and fun teachmama.com

————————————————————-

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

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

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 11, 2013 at midnight ET and is open to folks here in the DC Metro only; our friends from Rent a Coop can only send their chickens so far, you know. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 10/13/13.  Winner must respond within three (3) days of notification or forfeit the prize, in which case an alternate winner will be selected.  All Official Sweepstakes Rules apply.

 

fyi: This is an unsponsored post, but our family was given the opportunity to try our hand at raising backyard chickens for four weeks in exchange for sharing a bit about Rent a Coop.  As always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my personal experience as a parent and educator–and, of course, my three little chicken-loving littles.

Affiliate links are used in this post.