10 best father’s day gifts (stuff Dad REALLY wants!)

10 fathers day gifts he really wants | teachmama.com

This post is sponsored by Walmart.

10 fathers day gifts he really wants cover.png


No more ties, mugs, shaving sets, or gift cards.

No more Father’s day Coupon Books, mouse pads, t-shirts, or DVDs.

Dad’s seen them all, and he has more than enough of these kinds of gifts. This year, we’re thinking outside the box a bit.

We’re getting the dads in our life something really special for Father’s Day, something really different.

My husband is an incredible father to our children. He really is.

So when Father’s Day rolls around, I want to do my best to show him how much I appreciate him and all he does.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • 10 Best Father’s Day Gifts (Stuff Dad REALLY Wants!):  We all know he says he loves the underwear and socks (and sure, he needs them. . . ) but how about something a little more exciting this year?

 10 fathers day gifts he really wants experience gifts  teachmama.com.

Experience Gifts:

1.  Ball Game: Wrap up a new baseball gloveicon or baseball hat, but surprise Dad with tickets to see his favorite team.  Professional baseball games can get expensive, so consider attending a minor league or local college game—they’re just as fun!

2.  Hiking day: Introduce your dad to the awesome art of geocaching and give him a handheld GPSicon.  Geocaching is an absolute blast, and not only will Dad be intrigued, he’ll be totally up for the challenge of finding those caches!

3.  Concert: Bring some of Dad’s music to life by finding out when his favorite group is coming to town.  Tickets to a concert may be a little pricey, but isn’t Dad worth it?

10 fathers day gifts he really wants class gifts  teachmama.com.png.png

Gifts of Knowledge:

4.  Classes: Wrap up a course book from the local community college and tell Dad that he can register for a course he’s wanted to take next semester.  Or if Dad’s not the studying type (or already has the degrees he wants!), find a class that aligns with his hobbies or interests. Consider: riding lessons, woodworking lessons, cooking lessons, or dance lessons (with Mom, of course!).

5. Training: Sometimes it’s hard for dads to admit they need help with something, so a private trainer is the answer.  Whether it’s a personal trainer at the gym, a few hours with the golf pro at the course, or solo time with a speed coach, whatever Dad loves, there’s a pro out there to help him improve.

6.  Stylist: Though he may not think he needs a personal stylist or a make-over, many dads need a little jumpstart to move them in the direction of finding their best self.  Most department stores or salons offer styling and make-overs. Believe me, Dad will love it.

10 fathers day gifts he really wants subscription gifts  teachmama.com.jpg.png

Subscription Gifts:

7.  Music Channel: Tons of music subscription channels are on the market now, so shop around and find one that suits Dad’s needs.  Wrap up a pair of headphones along with a note explaining the gift, and Dad will be a happy guy.

8.  Favorite Television Channel:  Whether Dad loves movies or sports, news or the arts, there is a premium subscription channel for him. Treat him to his favorite for a few months, and I’m betting he’ll be over the moon.

9.  Magazine Subscription:  Time, Sports Illustrated, Vibe, or National Geographic. People, Wired, Men’s Health, or Car & Driver. Though we’re in the digital age, magazines are still super fun to receive, read, and share.

10 fathers day gifts he really wants love gifts  teachmama.com.jpg.png

Gifts of Love:

10.  Really, all Dad wants for Father’s Day is to know he is loved and respected by his family, so do for him what you know he will love and appreciate.  Consider:

  • Making all the meals for the day
  • Taking over Dad’s household chores for the day
  • Treating Dad to a foot massage or back rub
  • Putting on a show or play for Dad
  • Playing music or singing a song for Dad
  • Writing a story about Dad or a poem for him

What are your favorite ways to celebrate Dad on his big day? I’d love to hear your ideas about what has worked—and what has not worked—for the Dad in your life!

Do let us know in the comments!


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

quick, cool teacher appreciation gifts

quick, cool teacher appreciation gifts | teachmama.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the skinny. . .

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

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




quick, cool teacher appreciation gift | teachmama.com

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

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

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

But nothing seemed right.

quick, cool teacher appreciation gift | teachmama.com

quick, cool teacher appreciation gift | teachmama.com

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

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

quick, cool teacher appreciation gift | teachmama.com

quick, cool teacher appreciation gift | teachmama.com


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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the skinny. . .

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

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

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

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

mothers day giveaway series | teachmama.com


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


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

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


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



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

All. For. You!

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

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



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

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


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


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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 By entering this giveaway, you are demonstrating your understanding of and compliance with the Official Sweepstakes Rules. This giveaway ends Friday, May 2, 2014 at midnight ET and is open to US residents only. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 05/02/14.  Winner must respond within three (3) days of notification or forfeit the prize, in which case an alternate winner will be selected.  All Official Sweepstakes Rules apply. 



fyi: This is an unsponsored post, and my opinions, as always, are my very own, influenced only by my experience as a parent, educator, and fashion-forward gal.  I did receive components of the DIY-At-Home Spa Kit from the company, but it was my choice to include them in this giveaway.  


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

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

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


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

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

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


That’s a lot of babies.

We are thankful, grateful, and blessed.

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

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

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

Here’s the skinny. . .

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

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

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

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

baby shower decorations collage  teachmama.com.png

baby shower collage - teachmama.com 2

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

Easy is good and repetitive is even better.

baby shower collage decorations | teachmama.com

Kids can:

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


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

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

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

baby shower treats collage  teachmama.com.png

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

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

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

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

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

baby shower baby food game  teachmama.com

baby food game _ teachmama.com

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

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

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

Other great ideas for baby shower games are:

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

baby shower game  teachmama.com

baby WORD shower game _ teachmama.com

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

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

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

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

easter egg pattern match game: for kids, by kids

easter egg pattern match teachmama.com

Easter is right around the corner, and we’re psyched.easter egg pattern match  teachmama.com

Not only does Easter mean egg painting and candy, family time and spring flowers, fresh starts and new hope, it means my kids get to spend some time with faraway cousins.

Maddy, Owen, and Cora are thrilled to see their little cousins who are much younger than they.  My kids are 10, 8, and 7 years old, and their Pennsylvania cousins are 3 years, 19 months, 12 months, and 4 months old.

So this year, as we relaxed a bit after a whirlwind Disneyland adventure (more on that later!), the kids put some time into a little homemade gift for their Keystone State cousins.

We worked together to make Easter Egg Pattern Match–a super-fun, made-with-love game for their 3-year-old cousin.  Matching. Patterns.

Perfect for a 3-year-old!

And really? Creating matching patterns was a fun mathy, brain-stretching exercise for my own kids.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Easter Egg Pattern Match Game–For Kids, By Kids:  These eggs are simple but full o’ love.

All I did was print out Blank Egg patterns, much like our Alphabet Egg Hunt–Uppercase and Lowercase Letter Match set but obviously without the letters.

I printed the eggs out on white cardstock, which I highly recommend so they are a bit more sturdy.

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

The  BLANK alphabet egg hunt  are here to download if you’d like: BLANK alphabet egg hunt.

This afternoon, after our third tv show and hundredth game on the iPad, I asked the kids to meet me at the counter.

I said, I found a really cute game that we can make for our cousins and bring to them at Easter, and I think you’ll love it. Who wants to grab a marker, crayon, and some stickers and give me a hand?

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

They were all game, even though it was 2pm and we were all still wearing pjs.

We’re going to make a matching game for Wyatt–matching is a super-important skill for 3-year-olds, and you know what? If Wyatt knows that his cool older cousins made him a game, I’m betting he’ll love playing it.

So here’s the deal: just like the Alphabet Egg Hunt where we matched uppercase letters with lowercase letters, this game will be similar. But instead of letter matching, we’ll make patterns that match.

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

Your challenge will be to create matching tops and bottoms for our eggs, like this: (I showed them two really simple eggs I did, each with one sticker on the top and bottom half of the egg.

The pattern-making and designing matching eggs proved to be a bit difficult for Cora, but even Maddy and Owen each had one ‘do-over’ egg. Sometimes they made eggs that just mirrored the pattern, and sometimes the pattern wasn’t clear after the egg split–it didn’t start low enough.

So we tried to keep it simple for the most part, but we did add a few challenge eggs:

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

We wanted to have several eggs that had the same colors, basic shapes, and same layout so that our little loves would have to look just a tad bit closer.

We didn’t want to totally frustrate him, but we thought that his name and his brother’s name, written in similar colors, and stickers with similar shapes, or even two with farm animals or vehicles would give him an extra challenge.

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

And after we were finished with all of the eggs, Cora and I matched them all up to make sure they worked. We checked patterns and we checked them again.

We eliminated some that didn’t work, and we included only the best.

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

Then Cora made a label: Wyatt & Myles Easter Egg Match. We threw the eggs in a plastic baggie, and we were ready to roll!

The kids cannot wait to play the game with their cousins!

Love these little ways that empower kids to create and teach other little ones.  The pattern-making and generating of top and bottom matches was a great brain exercise for my three spring breakers!

Just a quickie little something you can print out, bring to your Easter gathering, and have cousins, siblings, aunts, uncles, and friends create for the little ones of the crew!

Will these work for you? Let me know how your family will use them! I’d love to hear it!

springtime easter sensory bin: egg hunt and count

Spring Easter Sesnory Bin Egg Hunt and Count

springtime easter sensory bin: egg hunt and count

Huge thanks to Lauren, of Tutus & Tea Parties, for writing this smart and totally cool springtime craft post.  Lauren is a certified elementary educator, and she writes about the cool and crafty ways she spends time with her daughter.

Check it out–there’s a ton of clever, hands-on learning ideas for the little loves in your life!


  •  Springtime Easter Sensory Bin– Egg Hunt and Count, by Lauren Frank

Spring is finally here, and I am so excited to be sharing with all of you Teach Mama readers.

We love using sensory experiences in our play, and our recent sensory bin for spring (or Easter!) was super fun!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • white rice
  • rubbing alcohol
  • green food coloring
  • candy eggs (we got whopper eggs, but jelly beans or those chocolate eggs wrapped in foil would work just as well)
  • egg carton
  • pipe cleaners
  • Sharpie
  • basin (we grabbed ours at Dollar Tree), water table, sensory table, etc

springtime easter sensory bin: egg hunt and count

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

1.  To dye the rice green, put your white rice into a large zip top bag. Add rubbing alcohol and food coloring. Securely close the bad and shake to distribute. Dry on a cookie sheet overnight.

2.  To create your baskets, cut out sections of the egg carton. Poke a hole in each side and poke your pipe cleaner through (I just folded the end on the inside to keep it attached). Write the numbers 1-5 on the front of each basket.

springtime easter sensory bin: egg hunt and count

3.  Place your green rice in your sensory bin and bury 15 egg candies.

springtime easter sensory bin: egg hunt and count

4.  Have your child dig to find the eggs and fill each basket with the number of eggs as the number shown on the basket.

springtime easter sensory bin: egg hunt and count

springtime easter sensory bin: egg hunt and count

springtime easter sensory bin: egg hunt and count


5.  Let your child continue to explore and play! You can even add some bunnies and chicks.

We have a couple of spring animal wind up toys that we added to the bin after a few days to change things up a bit.

springtime easter sensory bin: egg hunt and count


Thank you, thank you, Lauren! You rock, and this activity is perfect for so many families!

Looking for more sensory fun? Check out the links below!

tutus and tea partiesLauren is the writer and creator of Tutus & Tea Parties where she shares ways to connect with children and teach through play. She has a degree in Elementary Education and is a mother to a very energetic 4 year old girl.

Connect with Lauren: Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Instagram | Pinterest


Looking for more at-home learning fun? Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards:

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:

april fools’ pranks and jokes for kids

april fools pranks and jokes for kids | teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links




april fools pranks and jokes for kids | teachmama.com

Seriously, April Fools’ Day is one of my favorite holidays, and I know that’s not normal.

I just think April Fools’ Day gives us a good excuse to get a little silly and throw a few laughs into your kids’–and our–day.   Because all too often, between  homework, activities, meetings, projects, and work, I don’t think we do enough silly things just to be silly.

So there.

I like April Fools’ Day.

I like good, clean April Fools’ pranks and jokes for kids, especially. I like unexpected, strange, and tricky.

I like April Fools’ pranks and jokes that make us do a double-take, ones that don’t hurt and are never super-scary.

And for as long as I can remember, googly eyes make me laugh hard–so I use them a lot.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • April Fools’ Pranks and Jokes for Kids:  I say ‘kids’ but really, these little sillies can be used for anyone with a decent sense of humor.

And as with anything you do with–and for–your kids, of course you must use your discretion. Like if your child is totally frightened of flies, don’t play a fly joke on him. Or if your spouse’s worst nightmare is to fall into a pit of snakes, then maybe you don’t pull out the fake snake.

Take a look at a quickie, three-minute look at all things April Fools’ pranks and jokes for kids:



 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!

april fools pranks and jokes for kids | teachmama.com

Our many hilarious ideas include: 


Follow our board on Pinterest for more April Fools’ day ideas: 


Follow amy mascott @teachmama’s board april fools’ & simple, silly tricks on Pinterest.

fyi: affilliate links used in this post

april fools’ candy bugs: funny trick for families

candy bugs | april fools fun teachmama.com

 originally published in 2011

post contains affiliate links



candy bugs | april fools fun teachmama.com

April Fools’ Day is practically upon us, and I thought that before I served the kids jell-o in their juice cups tomorrow (seriously, how funny is that?!), I knew I wanted todo something that would top last year’s April Fools’ win.

So I thought and though and thought some more and came up with fake bugs–what’s better than a good bug scare, right?

I knew Maddy had a play date planned for this morning, so my idea was this: serve Maddy and her pals their snack but (bam!) the fake bugs

would be in the snack bowls. And (eeee!) instead of killing the ‘bugs’, I would run over, grab one, and put it in my mouth, chew it, and swallow it. Smiling.

Woot! April Fools’ jackpot!

It didn’t go quite as planned. But it was still really funny (probably more for me) but the girls had a fun time playing with candy–eating the candy–and trying their hardest to make bugs that would scare the pants off of their brothers, sisters, and parents.

Here’s how it went:

  • April Fools’ Candy Bugs– Funny Trick for Families: When I say I thought about this, I’m not joking. I talked to my sister about how I could make candy bugs for much longer than I would care to admit. I tried and tried and tried to master the art of candy-stink-bug-making, only to fail miserably.

Yesterday, Cora and I really tried to make stink bugs on two separate occasions, until finally she said, Mommy, let’s just do another bug. She was right.

We needed to move forward. So we did.

candy bugs | april fools fun teachmama.comour bug-making supplies

I used a black icing mixed into a marzipan candy dough I found at the grocery store, but I just couldn’t get it flat enough, I couldn’t make legs or antenna that were skinny or strong enough, and I couldn’t make it textured enough.

It did create a mean millipede, a teeny, skinny wormish guy, but that was it.

candy bugs | april fools fun teachmama.com

I moved onto bigger and I probably could have stuck with Tootsie Rollsthe flavored kind–for everything that we ended up doing.

It was fine for creating little made-up bugs–teeny green bugs with white (marzipan) wings and eyes.

 candy bugs | april fools fun teachmama.com

Cora and my bugs–ready to trick the girls!

candy bugs | april fools fun teachmama.com

To ‘spook’ Maddy and her friends, Cora (the kiddo who just can’t whisper and is probably the worst at secret-keeping) and I made:

  • Tiny Green Bugs: using a green Tootsie Roll, plain (uncolored) marzipan wings, and blackish marzipan eyes
  • Flat White Bugs (called a stink bug to my utter joy by one of Maddy’s buddies): using a white Tootsie Roll, brown M & M, teeny slivers of purple Twizzler for legs and tiny specs of chocolate chip for eyes
  • Flying Jumbo Ant: using black marzipan for segmented body, yellow Tootsie Roll for wings, and white marzipan for eyes

candy bugs | april fools fun teachmama.com

candy bugs | april fools fun teachmama.com

I poured some Goldfish, snack of every playdate, into bowls, and called the girls to the table.

Cora was sooo calm and cool, and I’m sure she wasn’t staring into each kid’s bowl.

One of Maddy’s friends dug in and paused.  I said, Are you okay, honey?

She said, Um, yeah, but can I eat this?


candy bugs | april fools fun teachmama.com

candy bugs | april fools fun teachmama.com

What, you mean the goldfish? Sure. I was so busy putting away dishes, I hardly noticed the poor kid.

Uh, no–um, this. . . uh. . .

I walked over and it was over: OH MY GOSH ARE YOU KIDDING ME? There’s a bug in there? Oh NO!! What do I– How did that–

By then the other kids came in and were pondering their bugs. Maddy was a cucumber: Mom, really? Is this candy or something? You’d think she was like 25.

Fine. They’re candy. But I really tried to get you and you are all way too smart for me. So how about when you’re done with your fish, we can put our heads together and make some totally awesome, absolutely terrifying bugs that will scare the pants off of your family? Tomorrow’s April Fool’s Day–you have to trick someone. . .

candy bugs | april fools fun teachmama.com

Maddy rolls her marzipan with red food coloring to make the most realistic ladybugs evah.


Really, the girls needed no arm-twisting.  They were totally into it before we even started.  I laid out a spread of candy bug options, but they figured everything out quickly.

I stressed the importance of tiny–teeny, teeny, teeny–for the bugs to even look a bit real, but they didn’t worry. We rolled, cut, twisted, stretched and ate more candy than I’ll ever admit to their moms (who are my great friends and who will love me anyway).


candy bugs | april fools fun teachmama.comMaddy’s bug. So real, it’s frightening.

They added antenna, made legs, and added color; they chatted about this and that, about what bugs we like–and don’t–and who they wanted to scare tomorrow.  They added wings to this and that, made bodies long and short, used everything on the table.

They put their bugs in bags and when they left, they said they’d hide it and use it tomorrow. We’ll see. . .

By the time Owen returned from his playdate, we were ready to give him a scare. I put his snack in a bowl and when he grabbed it, he popped the fly right in his mouth like he does it every day.

Seriously, Owen, it didn’t scare you even a little bit? C’mon–

Mom, no way.

I tried.

Just wait till they try drinking their Jello-O juice tomorrow at breakfast. . .


More April Fools’ Day ideas: 


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lent ideas for kids and families

lent for kids and family teachmama.com

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lent for kids and family  teachmama.com.png

Lent is here.

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s what I found. . .

  • Lent Ideas for Kids & Family:

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

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

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

I found these great resources for us to use:

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

how to teach the easter story to kids: resurrection rolls

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

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

Have a blessed and peaceful season!

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

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secret message valentines: homemade, candy-free, totally cool

secret message valentines magic and totally cool teachmama.com

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secret message valentines  magic and totally cool teachmama.com


Longtime fans of the ole homemade Valentine, I’ve had to get a little more clever and crafty as the kids get older.

But I still want them writing, reading, and thinking (come on. . . at least a little!) while they’re making them.

So when I did some Valentine searching this year, I found a ton of cool ideas.  A ton of cool ideas.

There are about a million, trillion awesome homemade Valentines out there.

But the Secret Message Valentines caught my eye. I knew Maddy, Owen, and Cora would totally love them, and they do.  They really think they’re fun.

Secret Message Valentines that are homemade, candy-free and kids still think they’re totally cool? Like a dream.

And they won’t break the bank.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Secret Message Valentines–Homemade, Candy-Free, Totally Cool:

Want to make these for this year’s rockstar Valentines? Super.

Your kids will love you.

You’ll need:

secret message valentines | teachmama.com

secret message valentines | teachmama.com


Here’s a quick video with the ‘how-to’ for making Secret Message Valentines:



Before Maddy, Owen, Cora and I started making them, we did a whole lot of ‘message brainstorming’.  I wanted them to realize that though some of the Valentines required that they only signed their name, other ones left spaces for real secret messages.

What would those messages be? 

What should they be? 

We came up with some ideas:

magic message valentines -| teachmama.com

magic message valentines -| teachmama.com

magic message valentines -| teachmama.com


Having the ideas helped, especially because messages had to be short.

And because they were writing the messages with white crayon on white paper, the messages had to be simple.


magic message valentines -| teachmama.com

magic message valentines -| teachmama.com

magic message valentines -| teachmama.com


These kind of reminded me of the Scratch-Off Tickets we made a few years ago during holiday time in the way that they carried a secret message for the kids to find.

I think I just may use them for Valentine cards next year. . . hmmmmm.

What are your favorite super-cool, candy-free Valentines for kids to make? I’d love to hear ‘em!

Here are a few of ours:


HUGE and happy thanks to all the folks who came before me and made similar Valentines. Though I love this idea, I by no means invented it! I did not use one particular post as a model, but the following posts were my inspiration: SpanglishBaby Secret Message Valentines; Small + Friendly Secret Message ValentineSecret Message Valentine Mini-Edition; Spoonful Secret Message Valentines, & more! Thank you, thank you!


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black history month: resources for kids and families

black history month: resources for kids and families | printables, videos, books, & more from teachmama.com #weteach

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black history month resources for famillies

We often talk about race in our home, but lately my kids have become more and more curious about the struggles that many so many groups have faced–African-Americans in particular–throughout our history.

Yes, we have great books here, rich with information and ideas and stories, but I wanted a little more. We need a little more.

So rather than fumble through their questions about race, history, and segregation, I wanted to give Maddy, Owen, and Cora some clarity–as much of the whole story as I could.  

I want to be able to continue the conversation not only this month, Black History Month, but any time throughout the year.  So with the help of many great friends, I’ve assembled this list of Black History Month Resources for Families.

Above all, I wanted to recognize and respect the miles these Americans have walked, but I also wanted to celebrate their many successes.  The resources below seem to do just that.

I consider it a work in progress!

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Black History Month– Resources for Families:

It’s amazing the resources I managed to find–but it took some serious work–which is a problem in itself.

talking and reading about civil rights


picture books for kids mlk

articles, sites:

must read books mlk





What are your favorite resources? Do share them with us! 


huge and happy thanks to the amazing women who helped me assemble this list: Eva of SocaMom.com,  Monica Waugh-Benton, Erica of What We Do All Day, Deb of Living Montessori Now, Carly of Africa to America, Leanna of All Done Monkey, and more.  

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