the only black friday deals you need for kids and family

the only black friday deals you need for kids and family

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

Friends.the only black friday deals you need for kids and family

I’m not sure if you’re a wild and crazy Black Friday shopper or not, but in case you are, happy holidays!

Here are a few biggie sales that I’m taking advantage of and that you could, too, so that you are less stressed, closer to being finished with your gift-buying, and securing some pretty decent deals this holiday.

Just a few.

A few deals that will help you and will help me.

Bam.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • The ONLY Black Friday Deals You Need for Kids and Families:

These are the only deals you really need to grab.

So grab them, and then eat all the turkey leftovers your little heart desires.

For kids:

Kiwi Crate, Kiwi Crate Black Friday Offer 
Doodle Crate >>

LOOK at the deals I just scored:

kiwi crate DEALS teachmama.com

 

Little Passports, Little Passports USA Edition: 1 year at $10.95/month

Little Passports, Little Passports World Edition: 1 year at $10.95/month

 

ISeeMe.com, Buy 3 Save $15 and get FREE SHIPPING! Use Code BUY3

ISeeMe.com, Black Friday Offers – Buy 2 Save $10. Use code BUY2

ISeeMe.com, Black Friday Offers – Buy 1 Save $5. Use code BUY1

My Night Before Christmas from ISeeMe

ISEEME personalized Children's Books
 

 The Land of Nod, Nod Chair: Originally $129 Now Only $99

The Land of Nod, Save $56 on The Land of Nod’s High Kids Adjustable Activity Table with Bins and Paper Roller!

The Land of Nod, design for kids and people that used to be kids
 

 

For tweens:

Zazzle, Up to 60% off on Zazzle.com – Use Code: ZWEEKOFDEALS

Customize iPhone cases, puzzles, bags, totes, waterbottles, and more.

Up to 60% off on Zazzle.com

For you (or me):

 

 Craftsy, Pre-Black Friday Sale: Enjoy Big Savings on Yarn, Fabric & Kits

thread art online quilting class at craftsy.com
 

Love With Food, Black Friday Sale
 

Mod Cloth, NEW arrivals at 50% off!
ModCloth
 

Snow Day Welcome Box Offer

For fun:

 Fanatics, Happy Fans-Giving Sale – 25% off plus free shipping on orders over $50

Huge Black Friday Savings at Fanatics.com
 

Cents of Style, Colored Tights $7.98 – 2 Pack Tights $5.58 & FREE SHIPPING

 

Do you subscribe to teachmama.com via email or newsletter?

You should! Often we do have fun perks for our subscribers like free printables and goodies.

subscriber thank you long newsletter | teachmama.com

This month? We’re trying something different: an only-for-teachmama.com-readers curated page full of super-special holiday deals page. 

NO joke.   Subscribe.  Because I love ya.  Subscribe to teachmama.com now

 

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

 

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

monthly craft gift for kids: kiwi crate

monthly craft gift for kids: kiwi crate brands | craft, experiment, and thinking subscription gifts for kids that they will totally love | gift ideas for kids

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

monthly craft gift for kids  kiwi crate  teachmama.comOften people ask me for cool gift ideas for holidays and birthdays, and though I often immediately share with them my holiday gift guide (because really, it works for any time of the year!).

But when I’m away from the computer and someone asks for a quick idea for a birthday or holiday for a child, I often recommend Kiwi Crate.

Kiwi Crate is a monthly subscription gift for kids. Crafts, making, and a whole lot of cool. 

And it’s not just for girls, and it’s not just for the teenies.

It’s for all kids.

Which is why it rocks.

And right now they have a pretty sweet Kiwi Crate Black Friday Sale going on that you totes want to jump on.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Monthy Craft Gift for Kids–Kiwi Crate:

Kiwi Crate sends monthly crafts and cool, hands-on activities to kids.

 

monthly craft gift for kids: kiwi crate

monthly craft gift for kids: kiwi crate

 

Products include Koala Crate (ages 3-4 years), Kiwi Crate (4-8years), Tinker Crate (9-14 years), and Doodle Crate (9-16+ years).

Subscription Services like these are SUPER awesome gifts because not only do kids love getting mail, they love to have everything–every, single thing–they need to complete a project from start to finish in one happy little kit.

We’re shhhhhhhh ordering Kiwi Crate for our nephew this year, and I’m sure he will totally love it.

 

monthly craft gift for kids: kiwi crate

monthly craft gift for kids: kiwi crate

Though Cora is 7, she’ll turn 8 in March, so she could really love Kiwi Crate. If you’re not sure what to do, consider starting with a 6 month subscription and then re-evaluate after that time whether your child is a good fit for Kiwi Crate or wants to move up to the Doodle Crate or Tinker Crate.

I think we’ll end up going with Doodle Crate for Cora and Tinker Crate for Maddy and Owen. 

We’ve had several boxes to try out over the years from the good folks at Kiwi Crate, but we’ve never actually had it where one of my kids could actually, truly look forward to receiving it each month.

That? I think they’d love.

monthly craft gift for kids: kiwi crate

 

Especially during this time when all kids seem to want to do is be ‘plugged in’ to electronic devices, I think Doodle Crate or Tinker Crate would be great for kids Maddy and Owen’s ages, too.

These aren’t just quickie little junk projects that kids create; each set is full of hands-on, exciting, and engaging experiments or crafts. Cool things that kids will really enjoy. Several of my friends have kids who’ve used these sets, and they love them.

Check out the comparison of the Kiwi Crate Brands

monthly craft gift for kids: kiwi crate | teachmama.com

 

Doodle Crate (9- 16+) is focused on more DIY art projects.  Maddy would totally go for this one.

Tinker Crate (9-14 +) is focused on providing hands-on experiments each month.  Owen would love this, but I know Maddy and Cora would, too.

In order to keep some level of sanity in our house this year, I’m going to go with Tinker Crate for Owen so that Maddy can have Doodle Crate and Cora can have Kiwi Crate.

I cannot wait to see how it goes. And really? I’m almost 99% positive it’ll be a serious win.

 

And? Check out some super-rockstar deals for you for this holiday season:

  • Exclusive Kiwi Crate Black Friday Sale!
    • Starting today until 12/1/14, save 60% on your 1st month subscription to Kiwi Crate PLUS free shipping with code HOLIDAY60 at checkout.

 

Koala Crate >>
 

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

 

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

gifts for sunday school teachers or CCD teachers

gifts for sunday school teachers or CCD teachers, School of Religion Teachers, & Christian preschool teachers

post contains affiliate links

 

 

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

My kids have gone to SOR (School of Religion for our church and which we grew up calling CCD), for years now.

Every single week since Kindergarten, they’ve spent an hour with good people who take the time out of their lives to teach my kids what many other kids learn in Sunday School.

I’m truly thankful for these great people because I know it’s hard enough for me to teach Children’s Liturgy with a group of women on a rotating basis.

It would be a lot more work to teach a weekly religion class–that I know for sure.

But what I have just come to realize is that every year, we tend to think of those rockstar teachers last on the gift list.

I found a few things that I think our CCD, or SOR teachers will really, truly, love, and I have my friends at DaySpring to thank for making simple, sweet, and affordable products.

DaySpring has great deals for you that you will not want to miss, and honestly, if you aren’t familiar with DaySpring, you want to be.

Anything in their selection would be appreciated by Sunday School teachers, CCD teachers, or anyone you know who works in your church. Really pretty pieces.

Here’s the skinny:

  • Gifts for Sunday School Teachers or CCD Teachers:

Everything at DaySpring is really beautiful, but this year, I went with these products:

gifts for sunday school teachers or CCD teachers

gifts for sunday school teachers or CCD teachers

  • Lord Bless You 3″ Cross Keepsake Box: Originally $12.99, I got three of these for $3.99. I love the saying on the side, The Lord bless you and keep you.  Lined with felt, I think this will be an appreciated gift for the kids’ teachers.

 

 

gifts for sunday school teachers or CCD teachers

  • Jesus is the Gift, metal tray: 7″ x 7″, I think this little tray, with ‘Jesus is the gift’ engraved on it, will be perfect for small wrapped candy or jewelry. I’m betting the teachers will love it.  Originally $14.99, I grabbed three of these for $5.99 each.

 

gifts for sunday school teachers or CCD teachers

 

I also got a few extra things while on the site. I have to be honest.

I’m not sharing who they are for–I can’t guarantee who is reading this post and who’s not. . . but I will say that I got them at a great deal and I absolutely love both sets.

 

gifts for sunday school teachersI went with the Redeemed Grace Cuff, the Redeemed Everything Beautiful Earrings, the Redeemed Treasured Fashion Bracelet, and the Redeemed Grace Fashion Earrings.

All of these items were on Early Black Friday specials, so the prices were super-slashed. I couldn’t pass them up.

I know that everyone who is on the receiving end will love them.

 

Want a few more holiday-inspired learning ideas? Check out: 

 

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. 

family holiday cards: how to get the kids involved

family holiday cards: how to get the kids involved | teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links
get kids involved in choosing holiday cards | teachmama.com

 

This year, ordering family holiday cards was totally different for us.

This year, our family agreed on the photos.

Each and every one.

And this year, we agreed on the card.

We agreed on the message, and we agreed on the language.

From start to finish, ordering holiday cards was a family affair, and this year, every single one of us was happy.

Mom and Dad were happy.

My tween was happy.

My third and second grader were happy.

No tears. Only a happy family, all five of us.

Thank goodness we were all happy, because last year was a total nightmare.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Family Holiday Cards–How to Get Kids Involved:

Last year, we sent out holiday cards that I loved.

I mean, I loved them. I loved the photos, I loved the way they were arranged, and I loved how everything looked once they were finished.

I thought they looked really great.

family holiday cards: how to get the kids involved

The photos were natural–the kids were outside in our yard, splashing and playing on a sunny-rainy-rainbow day, and they looked beautiful.

And my husband thought so too.

But my kids? Not so much.

Mom. These are awful.

I can’t believe you would choose these pictures. We look crazy.

Moooooom! I look like a baby. I am so embarrassed.

These are the worst photos ever, and I can’t believe we’re sending them to all of our friends and family.

Right. Three out of five people in our family–over half of us–didn’t dig them. At all.

And though I felt awful, they were already ordered. And they had already arrived at our house.

So I apologized sincerely and promised them that next year would be different. That I’d never, ever order photo cards without a family vote and that they would definitely have a say next year if I could just have their blessing to send them out this year.

That was the deal.

So here we are.

This year was different, from start to finish.

family holiday cards: how to get the kids involved

 

Here’s how this year was different:

1. We began by choosing a few holiday card designs from four different styles.  The idea is that by trying a few different styles, you’re introducing a variety of ideas to your kids.

I know that there are some styles that my husband would absolutely not entertain. So I kept our styles simple, choosing mostly from

The styles we tried were

family holiday cards: how to get the kids involved

 

2.  Upload 3-10 agreed-upon photos to the holiday card website. 

Do whatever is easiest: save a handful of photos to your desktop, create a special ‘holiday card’ folder, or flag a few dozen photos in your photo program on your computer.

Whatever you decide, you want to narrow down the photos to about 3-10 that everyone in your family is okay including in the holiday photos.

Then upload those photos to the website you choose.

 

family holiday photos  teachmama.com

3. Choose four holiday card designs

Save each design as you go, and title the designs ‘holiday cards 2014 1, holiday cards 2014 2, holiday cards 2014 3, and holiday cards 2014 4.

And then when you have saved four designs, click on ‘compare designs’. Then you will be able to see each design on the screen. This makes discussion about the designs much easier.

 

family holiday photos  teachmama.com

4. Take a silent family vote.

We numbered ours clockwise from 1-4, and we each wrote down the number of our choice on a piece of paper.

Then we tallied the votes.

Because Owen admitted that when he wrote down ‘1’ he really meant ‘2’, we had a vote that worked: 3:2. It was close, but we talked through the decision and figured out a way to make it work for all of us.

 

family holiday photos  teachmama.com

 

 5.  Make final adjustments in layout and language. 

Here’s where you make the card work for everyone. We did some adjusting with ours, in both layout and language.

And finally, we found something that worked for all of us.

 

Super-duper important: before you order, remember to apply. Those. Coupons.

Right now, they’ve got a few seriously good holiday card deals going on.

Try:

Tiny Prints Cyber Monday
Really, remember that I shared a ton of coupons for photo books on our family photo book post, and many of those same companies sell rockstar holiday cards, too.

When you subscribe to teachmama.com via email or newsletter, you get access to some rockstar, super-special holiday deals. Check it out!

And that’s it.

When the photos arrive, we’ll create our family assembly line of addressing, stuffing, stamping, and sealing the cards–one of our favorite holiday traditions!  On the night of doing holiday cards, we make hot chocolate, put our pj’s on, and chat together while we prepare our cards.

Bringing out the old boxes of holiday cards is super-fun, too!

The more simple we can make the holidays, the better. . . and the more family time and simple gift-giving, the best!
Want a few more holiday-inspired learning ideas? Check out: 

 

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. 

family photo books: easy, quick, and affordable for super-busy moms

family photo books: easy, quick, and affordable for super-busy moms

post contains affiliate links

 

 

busy mom trick for making yearly photo books | teachmama.com

Growing up, I loved more than anything looking at our family’s photo albums, listening to stories and recalling vacations, events, and milestones.

I vowed at a very young age that I was going to do the same for my own kids.

But man.

Maaaaaan.

Between school, work, activities, and events, I’ve found it’s really, really difficult to do anything in terms of chronicling my kids’ lives much beyond uploading photos to Facebook now and again.  

It’s awful.

And embarrassing.

But it’s probably more the norm than I think, right?

And poor Cora?  Typical third child blank baby book. At least Owen has a few pictures and that one lock of baby hair taped to the inside cover.

So here it is. I have a way that makes keeping track of things easier for me and awesome for my family. One busy mom trick that will make you wanna dance.

Kind of.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Family Photo Books–Easy, Quick, and Affordable for Super-Busy Moms:

For me, it’s all about maintaining.

So my one superstar trick is this: start NOW for next year. And use the folders in your photo program. busy mom trick for making yearly photo books | teachmama.com

Here’s what I mean:

Create a folder called ‘family snapshot 2014′ and then month by month as you upload photos, drag one or two photos from each event into the folder. 

And then, around holiday time, when awesome photo services start rolling out awesome deals, all you have to do is upload the entire folder to the site, let the photos auto-populate in a photo book, and order it.

You’re finished.family photo books: easy, quick, and affordable for super-busy moms

family photo books: easy, quick, and affordable for super-busy moms

 

Remember, even if you’re super far behind, be kind to yourself.  Unless we take an entire weekend to catch up on something like this, you’ll never get totally caught up. Be good with it.

  • So create a folder for this year–no matter what year you’re in–and then go back to the beginning of that year and start dragging photos over to the folder. Set a timer. Give yourself 30 minutes.
  • And upload that folder to the site.
  • Let the photos auto propagate. That means, let the photos auto-arrange into a book.  It’ll be fine. Let. It. Go. Let it gooooooo.
  • Make a few changes–like the covers–and then add maybe one or two captions.  Repeat after me: all you need are the photos. It’s fine.
  • Then order it.
  • Order one for each set of grandparents. They’d appreciate it.
  • And bam. You’re a star.

(Or you will be one when they open it and love you for it.)

 

Tiny Prints Black Friday
 

I try to have one book for the kids to open at Christmas full of the previous year’s events. So each year kind of starts around holiday time from the last year and goes through about early fall or Thanksgiving, depending on when I get my act together.

It’s all good. They don’t have to be totally perfect and flawless. Nothing really is, anyway.

 

family photo books: easy, quick, and affordable for super-busy moms
family photo books: easy, quick, and affordable for super-busy moms
 

It honestly takes all of one hour–max–and I mean maximum if you keep it up.

Sure, you may want to run through the folder first and delete any photos that you don’t want included, but that’s easy. Super easy.

And do the same for all of your other events, too.  Family goes to Disney? Create a folder. Drag all of the awesome photos into the folder, and then it’s ready for a photo book come holiday season.

family photo books: easy, quick, and affordable for super-busy moms

 

family photo books: easy, quick, and affordable for super-busy moms

 

Do the same for the beach, a house renovation, a special event, fundraiser, or school event.

I’ve created photo books for just about everything I can over the past few years, and not only do they make rockstar fabulous gifts, they help to chronicle our family’s little life. They love it, and I love it.

We keep all of the photo books under our coffee table in the living room, and we actually look at them. They’re pulled out, opened, and enjoyed more often than not. I love it. And the great thing is that if something happens to them, they’re all stored in one happy cloud on the site that I purchased them from, ready for a re-order if need be.

 

family photo books: easy, quick, and affordable for super-busy moms

 

family photo books: easy, quick, and affordable for super-busy moms

 

Here are some super awesome deals that I’m taking advantage of and you can, too:

 

Tiny Prints - Holiday Offer
 

Shutterfly Photo Books 300x600

 

Shop Personalized Holiday Cards
Though I’m not totally, 100% caught up with chronicling my kids’ lives, I have figured out that this trick helps me to kind of maintain memories for my family.

One super-simple way that, thanks to modern technology and some great websites and coupons, has made it easy, quick, and affordable for me to create family photo books.

And you can do it, too.

What works for you? I’d love to know how you keep track of photos for your family! 

 

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

must-have gifts for kids (and families!): 2014

must-have gifts for kids (and families!): teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

must have gifts for kids and families | teachmama.com

 

Friends! It’s only the second week of November but already I’ve received two dozen emails from you asking for my gift picks for this holiday season.

What should you get for your preschool nephew?

What does your second grader absolutely need this year?

What will your tween totally love you forever if she receives?

How about your babysitter, your mother-in-law, or your sisters?

Right! I love this time of the year, and I love gift-giving.

And I’m so flattered you care about what I think.  I am so excited to share!

I’m trying and have finally assembled it all: the must-have gifts for kids and families 2014.

And though I usually can shove all of our faves into one happy post, this year? Not so much.

So yes–here are the must-have gifts for kids and families. Our holiday picks.

But we’ve also got our Must-Have Gifts that Give Back and Must-Have Books as Gifts posts, too.

So hold onto your seats.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Must-Have Gifts for Kids (and Families!)–2014:

must-have gifts for kids and families BABIES 2014

For our teeniest teenies:  (babies – first year)

  • Match & Build Soft Blocks by Melissa & Doug K’s Kids: Soft blocks with patterns, numbers, letters, and more.  Perfect for any new baby’s first holiday.

best gifts for kids family 2 to 4 | teachmama.com

For the little guys:  (ages 2-4)

  • Deluxe Pounding Bench by Melissa & Doug:  My sisters have been eyeing this set for their boys for a while now. I know that my nephews will love this.
  • Cool Rain gear: I loved having super cute rain boots, raincoats, and umbrellas for Maddy, Owen, and Cora when they were tiny.  Kidorable has sweet patterns for little ones, like the lady bugs, frogs, and fire trucks. [Use coupon code UMBFR and add a FREE umbrella to your $20.00 purchase. You need over $20 without umbrella cost. YAY!]
  • Personalized Cozy Chair: Every kiddo in my family gets his or her own personalized reading chair when they turn two. Really. And honestly, the kids love ‘their’ chair so much that often they become their ‘go-to’ cozy spot for reading, relaxing, and playing.  You don’t have to go crazy here, but you can if you’d like. Check out these chairs that I adore from The Land of Nod; they start at $99, and they’re the perfect holiday gift!
  • Personalized Story Books: We have had personalized story books for our kids for as long as I can remember. Every kiddo needs to feel like he or she is the star, and seeing a first name in print will do the trick! Love these from Frecklebox.
  • Spot-It: Super little game for kiddos with super-sharp eyes, we have had Spot-It for years and still pull it out often to play. Love. This. Game.
  • Play-Doh Fun Factory Deluxe: All kids need Play-Doh, and all kids need a play center where they can make Play-Doh spaghetti and snakes.
  • Role Play Sets: I’ve gone on and on about the benefits of pretend play, even as recently as this fall. Cora loved the Magician Role Play set, and she had a blast entertaining her pals on the soccer sidelines. I highly recommend any of the Melissa & Doug role play sets for little ones; they’re perfect for getting those imaginations going strong!

 

 

best gifts for kids and families 5 to 7 | teachmama.com

For the bigger guys:  (ages 5-7)

  • Order’s Up! Diner Play Set or School Time! Play Set: We had a chance to try both of these sets this year, and they are totally and completely adore them both. Both sets are like little treasure boxes of fun. Everything that kids need to play a full game of diner–from cooking to serving and eating the goodies–and everything kids need to play school–from lesson planning to learning to grade reporting–is included.
  • National Geographic 24 in 1 Space:  There’s a Dinosaur set with this collection, too, and both are awesome. Kids build things that actually light up, and each set has a ton of different objects to build, so kids aren’t limited to a once-and-done thing.
  • Personalized Bean Bag Chair: Though my kids’ aren’t personalized (poor kids!) they do have beanbag chairs and love them. Owen plops down on his while playing video games, and everyone uses the bean bag chair in our book nook.
  • PlusPlus Building Blocks: These? So cool. Picture tiny little plus signs made out of plastic. They come in a zillion colors, and kids simply use them to build 2D or 3D objects. Very cool. Popular in Denmark, I think, but may be tricky for little ones who aren’t super savvy with their fine motor skills.
  • Deluxe Roominate: I actually met the gals behind this product at both Toy Fair and at a Radio Shack event this summer, and honestly? They’re awesome–the inventors and the products. Created by two women, an electrical engineer and a mechanical engineer, who wanted better toys for girls, this whole line is geared toward bringing girls into engineering. The Roominate products are a blend of hands-on building and circuits. So totally awesome.

best gifts for kids and family 8 to 11 | teachmama.com

For the biggest guys and gals: (ages 8-11)

  • GoldieBlox and the Builder’s Survival Kit: We’ve written about our love of GoldieBlox, but I seriously continue to share the GoldieBlox love to anyone who will listen. We love this set, and it’s a super gift for our tween girls.
  • littleBits Electronics Kits: I was introduced to these kits at a Radio Shack event our family attended this summer, and my kids absolutely were in awe of them, as were my husband and I. There are several options here, but each one of the kits involves kids actually playing with light, sound, sensors, and energy–without the hazard of soldering.  Young ‘makers’ could do a ton with the Base Kit, but I’d probably think about getting the littleBits Electronics Deluxe Kit for all three kids to share.
  • Zing Bow and Arrow Set: Owen received two of these sets for his August birthday and loves them. He and the neighborhood kids play with them for hours. The only problem is that they come only with three arrows.  For Christmas, we’re getting Owen the target and extra arrows.
  • Gravity Maze: My kids have totally loved playing with this new game from ThinkFun that is literally a marble run and logic puzzle all in one. So cool.
  • Skallops: From E & M Labs, these are crazy little wood clips that actually hold playing cards together so that you can build structures with playing cards. Remember Marcia and Greg’s card tower from way back when? Our lucky kids have it so easy. No dangling bracelet will knock this tower down!
  • Crayola Virtual Design Pro-Fashion Set: This would be a huge hit for Maddy and Cora, I know. I saw it at Toy Fair this year, and I was in awe of how absolutely awesome it was. Combines traditional coloring with graphic design, and then it all comes to life in an app. Sounds involved, but it’s not. Simple and so cool.

 

best gifts for kids and family  stockings  teachmama.com

For stockings:

  • Fandango Gift Cards: Going to the movies is such fun for kids, but it does get expensive after you add it all up. We’re huge Fandango fans over here, so gift cards will definitely be stocking stuffers for my three, okay, Santa?
  • Amazon Gift Cards: My kids are becoming savvy shoppers, so Amazon gift cards are a big win for them, since they can find just about anything their little hearts desire over there.  Even Aero for Maddy, Game Stop for Owen, and Charming Charlie for Cora would be a huge win.
  • Tenzie: It’s a fast frenzie. . . it’s TENZIE! One of our most favorite summertime games, Tenzie is a dice game. With a million, trillion options for play.   Pair it with the 77 Ways to Play Tenzie book, and it’s a perfectly awesome game for kids of all ages.
  • Word-A-Round: Love this game from ThinkFun. Word-A-Round is a little tricky, but basically it’s words in a circle and you have to figure out what the word is. Fun for everyone. It’s my personal fave because (cough) it’s the only game I’m able to beat Owen in at this point.
  • Create super-cute custom bracelets, necklaces, and rings for your kids at My Bling Place: LOVE these and they’re surprisingly affordable!
  • Tooth brushes: Not sure why, but we always had tooth brushes in our stockings. And so do my kids.

For families:

  • Trampoline: I can barely believe I’m sharing this, but our kids have begged and pleaded for a trampoline in our back yard for so many years, that I finally think we might cave. I think we might cave. I know they’d love it. But I’m not sure I will be able to handle it.   The Skywalker 15 ft round trampoline comes with very high reviews, as does the much smaller Skywalker 8 ft round trampoline. I secretly with my kids were small enough to fit the Little Tykes 3 ft trampoline, but that one would be a better match for our tiny nephews.
  • Tumble Trak: My kids have wanted a mat like this–one they can practice their flips on–for months and months. It is a super gift for kids in gym, cheer, or tumble classes!
  • Subscription Services:
    • Kiwi Crate sends monthly crafts and cool, hands-on activities to kids. Packages include Koala Crate (ages 3-4 years), Kiwi Crate (4-8 years), Tinker Crate (9-14 years), and Doodle Crate (9-16+ years). Subscription Services like these are SUPER awesome gifts because kids are thinking, moving, and creating. They love these.
  • Little Passports is another fun subscription service, and this one focuses more on teaching kids about the world around them. Early Explorers (ages 3-5 years), World Edition, (5-10 years), and USA Edition, (7-12 years) has something for just about every kid on your list!
  • Playstation 4 Destiny Bundle or XBox OneOur kids have played our Wii long and hard for the past five years. Five years. So we’re thinking it’s time to move on since at this point there are no new games being made for the Wii. I’m keeping my eyes open for a good deal on the Playstation 4 or an Xbox One.  Any advice? I’d love to hear it!

That’s not even it.  I’m on such a roll and I know there are like a million awesome things that I’m forgetting.

 

Want a few rockstar deals on some of these products and more?

subscriber thank you long newsletter | teachmama.com

 Subscribe to teachmama.com and have access to our super-special holiday deals page. So fun.

 

Also check out: 

gifts that give back  teachmama.com

 

must have book gifts for the whole family  teachmama.com

 

Need a bit more inspiration?

Check out our gift guides of years past. Though the dates have changed, the suggestions are still some of our faves.

Click on the picture for the link:

teach mama gift guide 2013

 

gift guide teach mama

Want a few more holiday-inspired learning ideas? Check out: 

 

 

 

fyi: We did receive some of these products from companies to try, but the large majority were purchased (or will be purchased!) by our family on our own dime.  I do work with some of the companies above, but I also work with a ton more that I didn’t mention.  As always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my experiences as a parent and educator. I’m sharing the best of the best here–our faves.

 

must have gifts for kids and family teachmama.com 2

 

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

holiday note gift idea for families: unique, thoughtful, and FREE

holiday note gift idea for families: unique, thoughtful, free | teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

Post originally published on 11/24/09 but republishing because I think it’s worth it.  

 

 

holiday note gift idea for families | teachmama.comIt’s so easy for our little ones (and even adults sometimes!) to lose sight of what the holiday season is all about.

So last year, when I saw this idea on a late-night, dvr’d Oprah, I knew I wanted to use it. With a little prompting, my family tried out Holiday Notes with both sides of the family.

Even though some interpreted the exchange a little differently, it was a success overall. Most have said they want to do it again, and with a little tweaking, hopefully it will become a worthwhile and cherished holiday tradition.

This Quick Trick is far from quick, but it’s something that seemed to work well for us, so I thought I’d share.

  • Holiday Notes: The idea behind Holiday Notes is that everyone takes a small amount of time to complete one of three different note cards for each member of the family. Over the holiday season–or at a holiday gathering–the notes are then delivered to each person’s special box, envelope, or bag and is read at another time.

Since our immediate family presented both sides of our extended family with the idea, we made special Holiday Note Card boxes for each person–as our small gift.

holiday note gift idea for families | teachmama.com

I picked up the small wooden favor bags at the craft store, and each maybe cost a dollar. Then over the course of two or three weeks, Maddy, Owen, Cora, and I worked on the bags.

First we painted all of them. Then we glitzed, beautified, and decorated. We added bows, glitter (glitter glue is easiest!), sparkles, ribbon, sequins, feathers, and anything we wanted, trying to make each one special for every person in our family.

After everything was dried, we added appropriate name tags.

 

Then we sat down together and wrote short messages. And I mean short. The three Holiday Note Cards each begin a sentence, and the note cards are tiny.

All our personal messages do is complete the sentence. One note begins, What I love about you. . . The other is My holiday wish for you. . . , and the last one is Thank you for. . .

The Holiday Note Cards can be downloaded here if you’d like: holiday note cards

(Please, if you choose to share them, link to this post instead of the attachment page! Thank you!)

Sure, some notes were longer than others. Some messages turned out to be completely hysterical, and others were more sentimental. Some were really long, and others were just one sentence.

holiday note gift idea for families | teachmama.commore note bags

Maddy and Owen (as a 4 and 3-year-old) were very excited about what we were doing. As we worked on the bags, I’d ask them what they wanted to thank their Nanny for or what they wished for their sweet cousin.

I was often surprised at what they remembered (Maddy wanted to thank her Great Grandma for letting her “ice” her own bagels with cream cheese, and Owen loved his Great Grandma’s great big loud laugh and wished that his Nana’s cats weren’t always hiding around her house).

We wrote Cora’s for her because she was so young, but no one was too young to appreciate reading the notes that were written to them. We read them over and over and over. My husband and I both read and re-read our own notes from family members.

Sometimes even a short note–one or two sentences–can mean so much.

holiday note gift idea for families | teachmama.com

 

We’ll do these notes every year as an immediate family, and maybe the tradition will continue for a few years with our extended family–or maybe this will be the last year. It can become a lot to do when there are many people involved.

But for us, the act of sitting down together, really thinking about what we are thankful for, what we wish for for our loved ones, and what we love about them is what the holidays are all about.

Toys will come and go, but these notes–and the bonds they will help to create–we hope will last for years and years and years and years. Happy Holidays!

Want a few more holiday-inspired learning ideas? Check out: 

 

 


fyi: affiliate links are used in this post

 

 

ONE girls & women: what you should know and why you should care

aya summit teachmama.com

ONE girls & women: what you should know and why you should careI had the great opportunity two weeks ago to spend time with some of my favorite people in the world—women who are doers, thinkers, change-makers—at the AYA Summit.

But between Halloween (yay!) and class parties (woot!) and Blogalicious Weekend (ya-hooo!) and parent-teacher conferences (woah!), it has been really hard to find the time to process all I’ve learned.

I’ve tried to wrap my head around how all that I’ve learned can impact my family and you, my awesome readers.

I’m pretty certain that we’re all in the same boat: we’re busy in the day-to-day grind of kid-wrangling, working, managing a household, and trying to keep our sanity.

And everything else above and beyond is kind of squished in where we can fit it.

But what I’m realizing more and more as I get older is that everything we do–from how we spend our free time, to the way we carry ourselves in conversations, to the work we do each day–should be something that we can be proud of.

Not always easy. But it’s about living consciously. Living carefully. And always looking out for the greater good.

I’m thrilled to share one way that we can all do this: ONE Girls & Women.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • ONE Girls & Women—What You Should Know and Why You Should Care:

ONE girls & women: what you should know and why you should care

What is the AYA Summit? What is ONE? What is ONE Girls & Women? Why am I even writing about this? 

Let me back up a bit.  The AYA is a West African fern known for its great resiliency.  The AYA Summit was named so because from start to finish we heard from and learned about some really resilient women:

  • women who have beat the odds
  • women who have pressed buttons.
  • women who worked hard.
  • women who made change.

ONE girls & women: what you should know and why you should care

 

20141023_103040

 

ONE is an organization co-founded by Bono with the sole goal of empowering people to use their voices.

It stresses the power of one–meaning you.

ONE is an international campaigning and advocacy organization of more than 6 million people around the world taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa.

ONE girls & women: what you should know and why you should care

pictured here: (top) Patricia Amira, Clemantine Wamariya; (middle) Holly Gordon, Marquesha Babers; (bottom) Danai Gurira, Clemantine Wamariya

ONE a non-partisan organization.  And they don’t want your money.

They want your voice.

And recently ONE formed ONE Girls & Women.  And I’m thrilled to be a part of it.

From here on out, as part of the ONE Girls & Women team, I will share simple but meaningful ways that you—the busy mom, sister, and friend that you are–can make a difference. You.  And me.

ONE girls & women: what you should know and why you should care

pictured here: Paul Zeitz (US Dept of State), Rye Barcott (Carolina for Kibera), Emily McKhann (The Motherhood)

ONE girls & women: what you should know and why you should care

pictured here: Patricia Amira, Cindy McCain, Kristen Howerton

Because we all can make a difference, no matter if we have minutes, five hours, five days, five years, or five decades to dedicate to the cause.

As women, we have a responsibility to celebrate, support, and lift our sisters, no matter where they may be. And that’s what I plan to do.

I didn’t even really know that girls and women are disproportionately affected by extreme poverty. But that if we invest–seriously invest–in girls and women that it’s one way to combat poverty and help them work toward a better life.

ONE girls & women: what you should know and why you should care

the floor of Google DC Headquarters: a map

ONE girls & women: what you should know and why you should care

here I am with my sweet friend, the amazing Amy Graff

Just a head’s up.

Here we go.

One thing you can do?

Join me.

Join ONE Girls & Women simply by filling out the form here: ONE Girls & Women

ONE girls & women: what you should know and why you should care

And when you do, you’ll have the chance to join their Mobile Action Team. Check that box.

I actually love this piece because every so often–not too often mind you–but you’ll get a text sharing how you can make a difference. Just by texting. Or tweeting. Or calling the President of the United States’ office.

Seriously.

Since I’ve joined, I’ve called the President’s office twice asking him to support funding for GAVI and the work they are doing to provide vaccines to 300 million children by 2015.

I called the President twice. Twice. Once while I was assembling things for Halloween class parties and another time while I was standing in line at the grocery store. It literally takes two minutes.

But I used my voice.

one girls & women And so can you.

Here.  We.  Go.

 

Are you familiar with ONE Girls & Women? ONE?

Start by following them: 

What is your favorite organization to support and how do you do it? Checks? Volunteering? Donations? I’d love to know!

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!

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

  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!

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

  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.

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

  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.

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

  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.

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.

earn money for your school (& get parents to events!): what you need to know

earn money for your school (& get parents to events!): what you need to know

This post is brought to you by VolunteerSpot & Bing for Schools.

 

earn money for your school and get parents to events  teachmama.com 2We are all so busy during the school year, it’s nuts crazy.

And it seems like the older our kids get, the more we have to juggle.

Many of us know how important it is for us to support our kids’ schools through fundraising, attending events, and volunteering–but it’s tough.

I know that especially when the kids were little, it was all I could do to get the kids to school, let alone worry about volunteering or fundraising.

I brought blinged-out waterbottles to a Teacher Appreciation luncheon because at the time, it was all I could do.

I’m thankful, now, that there are tons of ways that parents can help support their kids’ schools no matter what their situation is. But when it comes to organizing fundraisers and school events, there are some things that you have to keep in mind if you want the program to work.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Earn Money for Your School (& Get Parents to Events!)–What You Need to Know:

These may seem like two separate entities–fundraising and attendance–but they’re really pretty closely related when you think about it.

Above all, everything schools do when it comes to these things must be easy, inviting, and relevant

  • Keep it easy. Fundraisers must have simple directions. One or two steps.  Parents want to look at it, take some action, and be done with it. Events have to be easy–we don’t want to have to bring a million things to an event. We want to put it on our calendar and come as we are.
  • Inviting. Fundraisers have to be interesting and welcoming–things we want to look at and support–which is why the delivery is super important. That first impression makes a difference. So even simple flyers sent home from school with the kids should be appealing to the eyes and be free of spelling or grammatical errors.  Dates, times, and prices should be correct.
  • Relevant. We are more likely to buy products that will help us or our children in some way, shape or form.  Events have to be the same.  We want healthy kids and families, so let’s not sell a bunch of junk food or candy, right?

And for parents, the important thing to remember is that no matter where you are in the world–whether you’re working full-time or part-time, whether you’re married or single, whether you’ve got all kids in school or only one–there is a job for you.  There is some way you can help in your child’s school.

It’s critical that those parents doing the organizing and volunteering make it crystal clear that there is a need and a place for every parent at every school.

earn money for your school (& get parents to events!): what you need to know

Parents can:

  • help in the school media center;
  • make copies for teachers;
  • create bulletin boards;
  • collect Box Tops;
  • manage field trips;
  • organize assemblies;
  • serve on the board or as a committee chair;
  • attend events;
  • start your own after school club;
  • be a room parent;
  • share a board position with a friend;
  • manage the school website;
  • help with social media accounts;
  • work on the school garden or courtyard;
  • coordinate school and community partnerships;
  • manage dinners out restaurant nights;
  • organize Teacher Appreciation Week events;
  • and more.

The possibilities are endless, and of course, they depend on your school and your administration’s permission and interest.

It’s just a matter of sharing your strengths with your parent-teacher organization and using your own creativity to design a way you can help.

 

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Want to check out a few more ways you can earn money for your school and get parents to events? 

Check it out: How to Raise More Money for Your School–Boosting Fundraiser Turnout & Profits for your School-Parent Group

 

 

The webinar focus: Participants will learn how to pick the right combination of fundraisers for your school-parent group, boost turnout with Social Media, and ultimately RAISE MORE MONEY for school! With a special presentation by Bing, participants will also learn about easy ways parents can earn rewards for their school throughout the year to receive cutting edge education technology.

Facilitator: VolunteerSpot founder and CEO, Karen Bantuveris – seasoned speaker – school fundraising and parent-participation expert.

 

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Go ahead–forward this post to your PTA or PTO board, to your room parent or fundraising chair, and start making some serious change in your school community!

And let me know–what’s your favorite way to help in your kids’ school–right now?

 

 

fyi: I am a longtime friend and supporter of VolunteerSpot who sponsored this post. As always, opinions and ideas are all my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator.