color puzzles: fun math and logic for kids

color puzzles teachmama.com

color puzzles  teachmama.com

 

Sometimes it’s hard for me to find cool ways of sneaking some math into our day, but recently we’ve been on a puzzle kick.

Puzzles are a super way of getting your brain moving in clever and creative ways, allowing you to stretch those critical thinking skills.

Math is so much more than just number recognition and basic facts. Math is actually the study of numbers, equations, functions, and geometric shapes and their relationships. And there’s a whole lot when it comes to their relationships.

Puzzles help us bring to life those those relationships.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Color Puzzles–Fun Math and Logic for Kids: 

Actually, these color puzzles are fun for kids of all ages. In fact, I’ve done so many of the puzzles I’ve found on this site, that some days an hour will pass and it feels like a heartbeat to me.

color puzzles  teachmama.com

And I’m not really a puzzle person.

It’s just that I find these addicting.

color puzzles  teachmama.com

These are the four color puzzles from Erich Friedman, the puzzle king. 

Erich created every single one of these puzzles, friends; it’s amazing. It’s incredible. Honestly, he must be brilliant.

All I did was make these puzzles accessible to my kids for their summertime tabletop surprises. I wanted to be able to print them out, have the kids work on them whenever they could and not have to be plugged into a device.

So it has worked out well.

color puzzles  teachmama.com`

And if you want to try these awesome four-color puzzles, check out Erich’s site:

Or if you want to download the printable, you may do so here: color puzzles teachmama.com

color puzzles: fun math and logic for kids

color puzzles teachmama.com

If you choose to share this printable, which we hope you do, please first link to Erich’s site, and then share this post. Thank you!

 

Do you know that when Maddy was young, I totally forgot about puzzles?

It’s true.

When she was two, I had a girlfriend and her two children over for a playdate. My pal was explaining how her son, who was also two at the time, couldn’t sit still for television programs but could always sit still to work on a puzzle.

I felt like the earth stopped moving. I was holding Owen at the time, and I remember nearly dropping him. He was about six months old, and he was wiggling out of my arms, and at the same time, I felt dizzy and nauseous.

Puzzles?

OH MY GOSH! HOW I FORGOT ABOUT PUZZLES?!

How will Maddy ever succeed in life, having never even seen a puzzle until she was 26 months old?!

Right.

So as soon as I could politely usher my friend out of the house and get my kids strapped into the car, you better believe I beelined for the toy store.

I grabbed an alphabet puzzle and a number puzzle–two chunky Melissa & Doug classics–and we used them for years and years since.

I’m sure I overreacted. Maddy did not need a puzzle right there and then, but my point is that puzzles are important, friends.

Our little ones–and we as adults–need puzzles for many reasons.

In fact, a University of Chicago study found that

Children who play with puzzles between ages 2 and 4 later develop better spatial skills . . . Puzzle play was found to be a significant predictor of spatial skill after controlling for differences in parents’ income, education and the overall amount of parent language input.

In examining video recordings of parents interacting with children during everyday activities at home, researchers found children who play with puzzles between 26 and 46 months of age have better spatial skills when assessed at 54 months of age.        

“The children who played with puzzles performed better than those who did not, on tasks that assessed their ability to rotate and translate shapes,” said psychologist Susan Levine, a leading expert on mathematics development in young children.

Read more here: http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2012/02/15/puzzle-play-helps-boost-learning-important-math-related-skills#sthash.4iDTDIbD.dpuf

Cool, right?

And it’s no secret that puzzles are said to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.  The Fischer Center for Alzheimers recently wrote about a study from the University of California, Berkeley with these findings:

Reading, writing, doing crossword puzzles and solving challenging puzzles may be linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Now a new study shows how mental stimulation may protect the brain. . . . 

“We report a direct association between cognitive activity and Pittsburgh compound B uptake, suggesting that lifestyle factors found in individuals with high cognitive engagement may prevent or slow deposition of beta-amyloid, perhaps influencing the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” the researchers write.

Read more here: https://www.alzinfo.org/articles/crossword-puzzles-alzheimers/

So? Get those puzzles out, friends. No matter how old your little ones are, puzzles are for everyone.

______________________

Join us!

summer fun for kids | teachmama.com

______________________

______________________

Follow us on Instagram: @teachmama1  / #tabletopsurprises

teachmama on instagram

 

Want a little more math fun?

Check out:

Or follow our rockin math pinterest board:

Follow amy mascott @teachmama’s board math on Pinterest.

 

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.

summer fun for kids: week 3 #tabletopsurprises

summer fun for kids: week 3 #tabletopsurprises

summer fun for kids: week 3 #tabletopsurprises

We have had one wild week here, friends.

Our Owen headed to his Nanny and Pap’s for baseball camp, and our Maddy and Cora were stuck here with me and were pretty darn sick.

Luckily, our girls are on the mend (finally!), and Owen is back here with us in Maryland, now determined to land himself on a baseball team. (Not sure how that’s going to happen, but you never know. . .)

Needless to say, he had a blast at camp–we knew he would!–and we managed to have some fun here, too, while he was away, though we missed him terribly.

The kids and I just wrapped up week three of tabletop surprises. This week, we made a few changes to our 2015 calendar to accommodate for our sickies and the July 4th holiday.

It’s all good.  It really doesn’t matter what you do each day as long as you’re consistently putting some cool things out for the kids. Really.

No one knows whether you’re following our freebie 10-week tabletop surprise calendar but you. So be sure to make this work for your kids!

Here’s the skinny. . .

Summer Fun– Week 3 Tabletop Surprises: 

Monday:

Tuesday:

Wednesday:

Thursday:

Friday:

 

What did you do that really rocked this week? We’d love to hear it!

______________________

Join us!

summer fun for kids | teachmama.com

Check out our summertime fun posts: 

Find something fun to do this summer by following our summertime fun board: 

Follow amy mascott @teachmama’s board summer fun & cool for kids on Pinterest.


 

Share it!

fun summertime learning for kids: tabletop surprises

matchstick math: patterns, puzzles and critical thinking

matchstick math teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

matchstick math  teachmama.com

The matchstick math activity we did last week for tabletop surprises was a real hit.

I had an inkling that the activity would be a favorite of Owen’s but really all of the kids were into it.

And when we didn’t bump the table, making the matchsticks fall all out of place and go everywhere, it was all good.

It was super-simple, and I thank the good folks who write Matchstick Puzzles blog for their ideas.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Matchstick Math: 

Really, I had heard about matchstick math years and years ago but never really tried it with my kids.

And the idea is simple: you have a simple challenge to complete with matchsticks. Move two to create a totally different object. Add three to completely remake a design.

matchstick math: patterns, puzzles and critical thinking

matchstick math: patterns, puzzles and critical thinking

 

Fun. And easy. But it’s not really that easy at all.

And when I stumbled upon this awesome matchstick math blog while planning our tabletop surprises calendar this summer, I like totally hit the jackpot.

All I did was make an easy printable for me which included three things:

  1. the before design
  2. the challenge
  3. the answer to the puzzle

 

Then, like all of the tabletop surprises every day, I set the matchstick patterns out on the table and let. It. Go.

So yes, you need matchsticks to do this.

matchstick math: patterns, puzzles and critical thinking

matchstick math: patterns, puzzles and critical thinking

And then throughout the day, the kids hit the table when they felt inclined.  When they were interested. It was great.

The printable includes six of the millions and millions of matchstick puzzles I found on the site, so if you really love them and want more, head on over. Really, what I have here is a fraction–and I mean fraction–of what they have going on over there.

They’re matchstick cray-cray.

But here’s the thing: if matchsticks make you nervous, DON’T. USE. MATCHSTICKS.

For real. You can totally get the same thing going on with these matchstick puzzles if you use something other than matchsticks.

Consider using:

The possibilities are endless.

Please don’t allow your fear–or aversion–to matches turn you away from this activity.

It really is cool, and it really does get your kids’ brains and bodies moving.

It’s quiet. It’s critical thinking. It can be a group or partner activity, and it’s a great way to pass time in restaurants if you need a little something unplugged to do.

 

matchstick math: patterns, puzzles and critical thinking

matchstick math teachmama.com

 

If you’d like to download the document: matchstick math teachmama.com

Please, if you choose to share–which we hope you do!–please share this post instead of the printable. Thank you!

What do you think? Cool?

I’d love to hear what you think!

 

And definitely do check out the awesome matchstick bloggy blog where all the puzzles can be found. Without that site, there’d be no matchstick math for us!

And so was I.

______________________

Join us!

summer fun for kids | teachmama.com

______________________

______________________

Follow us on Instagram: @teachmama1  / #tabletopsurprises

teachmama on instagram

 

Want a little more math fun?

Check out:

 
Or follow our rockin math pinterest board:

Follow amy mascott @teachmama’s board math on Pinterest.

 

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.

fun summertime learning for kids: tabletop surprises

summer fun for kids tabletop surprises wk 1 teachmama

summer fun for kids tabletop surprises wk 1 teachmama

 

Every weekday in the summertime, I start the day by sharing a #tabletopsurprises post.

Just one quick picture of what’s in store for Maddy, Owen, and Cora for their tabletop surprise that day.

Are you on Instagram? If so, I’d love to follow you.

And if you’re joining us in our tabletop surprises this summer, I’d love, love, love for you to share your photos tagged with #tabletopsurprises — it’s so cool to see what everyone is doing!  Use #tabletopsurprises on your photo, and I’ll follow you back.

So here’s the skinny for this week. . .

We started on a Tuesday because the kids’ last day of school was Monday. 

Fun Summertime Learning for Kids– #tabletopsurprises week 1:

Tuesday:

  Wednesday:

Matchstick Math! #tabletopsurprises #math #familyfun #kids #summerfun #ontheblog

A photo posted by amy mascott (@teachmama1) on

 

Thursday:

  Friday:

Good, ole fashioned Play-Doh day! #tabletopsurprises #Iloveplaydoh #freeplay #summerfun #photooftheday

A photo posted by amy mascott (@teachmama1) on

 

______________________

Join us!

summer fun for kids | teachmama.com

 

3 ways to stay connected with long-distance family and friends

3 ways to stay connected to family teachmama.com

sponsored post

 

 

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

I’ve shared time and time again how hard it is for me to live hours from my parents and sisters, even if it’s only a three and a half hour drive.

Sure, it’s a short enough distance that we can make it there and back in a day if need be, but it’s too long to make a quick stop for a Sunday dinner. Or to grab a last-minute babysitter. Or to have a desperately-needed girls’ night out with sisters or mom.

Luckily, though, my kids have a great relationship with their Nanny and Pap and  their PA cousins, aunts and uncles, no matter the distance. But we’ve had to be creative over the years in order to stay in touch.

We’ve got three ways to stay connected with long-distance family and friends.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Stay Connected with Long-Distance Family and Friends:

1. Power Note-Writing

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

Especially for my Nana who is 92, the power note writing is really helpful because Power Note Writing is just that–writing a bunch of notes at one sitting.

Maddy, Owen, Cora, and I sit down for a few hours one afternoon, and we write tons of notes at once.

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

We essentially catch her up on everything that’s going on in our lives. We add photos, we add stickers, we add flowers and jewels.

We get crafty and creative and have a whole lot of fun with it.

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

And then we sign, seal, and stamp each note but add one more important element–a sticky note with a date on it.

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

That date tells us when to put the letter in the mail so that Nana isn’t inundated with mail on one day; instead every few days, we grab a note and put it in the mailbox so that every few days, Nana is surprised with a fun and happy little ‘hello’ from her Maryland great-grandchildren.

 

2. Panasonic HomeTeam™ app

One thing that sure does make staying in touch easier is today’s technology.

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

I’m always willing to take a look at the latest and greatest when it comes to apps and programs that make staying in touch easier–because goodness knows that we’re being pulled in a million different directions all of the time.

I’ve found something that’s really worth checking out: the Panasonic HomeTeam™ app.

 

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

It’s an online service that connects loved ones across generations and distance. And the cool thing is that family members can read stories and play games together even when they’re far apart. And the platform is super-easy to navigate for those less than tech-savvy family members.

HomeTeam is a platform where cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents–anyone!–can connect in a safe way and spend time together.

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

Hundreds of stories are available, like Curious George, Martha Speaks, 5 Little Monkeys, Tuesday, Mr. Wuffles, Jumanji, Animal Sounds, and more–as well as dozens of games like chess, checkers, tic-tac-toe, and more. HomeTeam gives families something to do together that packs a powerful punch–learning and fun.

Definitely check it out.

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

Though it is a paid platform, you get a free 30-day trial, so it’s totally worth trying and seeing if it works for your family.

fyi: Anyone can sample the entire HomeTeam experience, including unlimited access to content and all features free of charge for 30 days. After that, a premium subscription for continued access to unlimited content is available by month ($7.99/mo) and by year ($79.99/yr).

Find more ideas for memory-making with your family thanks to Scholastic and Panasonic.

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

 

3. Weekly Check-In Calls  

I know several friends who keep a standing ‘date’ on the calendar each week for a phone call with grandparents.

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

They pick a day and a time that works, and they know that every week at that time, the grandkids will have a quick catch-up call.

It’s a super time for stories to be exchanged, for questions to be asked, and for connections to be made.

3 ways to stay connected to family  teachmama.com

Some may believe that the ole phone has become obsolete, but I beg to differ. It’s easy, it’s (usually) fool-proof, and it’s quick.

Put a reminder on your phone. Set the date in pen on your calendar. It’s easier than you think!

 

How do you stay in touch with long-distance family and friends? I’d love to hear it!

 

fyi: This is a sponsored post, written as part of a partnership with Panasonic. However, as always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator, trying to keep my family connected and in touch.

st. patrick’s day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt

st. patrick's day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

st. patrick's day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt

Even though our lives have changed quite a bit since I started this blog seven years ago, one thing has remained the same: we love to rock it out for holidays.

Even big kids like to rock it out for the holidays.

So this year, I decided to kick up our traditional St. Patty’s Day Scavenger Hunt just a wee bit. 

My kids are quick, and they’re smart. So our Scavenger Hunt needs to be tricky and engaging to keep them interested–or at least to stretch our hunt a bit past the usual two minutes.

And? They’ve been doing a whole lot of testing and teasing one another lately.

So I decided to really give my three little tricky, testy kids a run for their money this year with a St. Patrick’s Day Brain Teaser Scavenger Hunt.

That’s right.

We’re working their little brains and forcing them into a bit o’ collaborative work because these days, these three seem to need it.

Should be fun!

Here’s the skinny. . .

St. Patrick’s Day Brain Teaser Scavenger Hunt: 

st. patrick's day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt st. patrick's day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

This isn’t your traditional run-around-the-house-for-clues scavenger hunt. Rather, it’s a new-and-improved, use your noggin and work together scavenger hunt.

The great thing is that even if you haven’t done a lick to prepare anything for St. Patrick’s Day, you can print this out, add a bit o’ candy to the mix, and your kids will think you’re the bomb.

I printed out the cards onto white cardstock, but you don’t need to.

To prepare, all you need are the St. Patrick’s Day Brain Teaser Cards and some candy. Because really. Candy. 

I also glued the shamrock board onto a plain piece of paper for extra support. And I got a mix of gold-foiled candy– Rollos, Hershey’s Nuggets, Hershey’s Kisses with Almonds, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Mini.

st. patrick's day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt st. patrick's day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

st. patrick's day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt st. patrick's day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

 

 

If I would have planned better, I totally would have ordered chocolate gold coins. But, of course, I didn’t.

So.

Start by printing everything out, adding one piece of candy (for each child) to each square of the board, and then say this:

Okay, friends. Today is St. Patty’s Day, so like all little leprechauns, I know you want to do some hunting for your pot of gold. Except this year, your pot o’ gold is a little different. It’s right here. (Show them the board with candy on it.)

But in order to get each bit of ‘gold’, you have to work together. 

 

st. patrick's day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt st. patrick's day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

 

st. patrick's day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt st. patrick's day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

Start with this first card.  Put your brains to work, and when you figure out the answer–as a group–let me know. Every time you answer a riddle correctly, you earn the candy on that number.

Simple. So fun.

But the minute there’s an unkind word, snicker, or anything of the sort, the candy’s wiped away from whichever number you’re working on. 

Get it? Good.

Ready? Go!

That’s, at least, what I plan to do while the kids are enjoying Lucky Charms in green milk.

And we’ll see how it goes.

I anticipate that we’ll start it before school and it will be waiting for the kids when they return from school. 

Because I didn’t want them doing this all day long, I only made eight brain teaser cards with the idea that they’ll start working on it together and then if and when they get stuck on one, they can ‘pass’ and I’ll give them the next card–of course though they won’t collect that card’s candy.

If it takes a few days, it takes a few days. . .

st. patrick's day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt st. patrick's day BRAIN TEASER scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

st pattys day RIDDLE scavenger hunt

 

If you’d like to download the St. Patrick’s Day BRAIN TEASER Scavenger Hunt, here you are: st pattys day RIDDLE scavenger hunt

Please, if you choose to share this post (and we hope you do!), please share this link instead of the attachment page! Thank you!

 

The more that we can get our kids to use those brains, stretching the way they think about things and problem-solve, the better.

What are you doing for St. Patrick’s Day? Any last-minute fun things to add to our list?

 

 

How about some more fun St. Patty’s Day ideas? Check out: 

st. pattys day brain teaser scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

 

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

best bunco game night snack ideas

bunco game night snacks teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

best bunco game night snack ideas | teachmama.com

I lied when I said that the best thing about Bunco was that it was an easy game to play while catching up with friends.

Really.

I lied.

It’s not 100% true.

The best thing about Bunco is the snacks.

There. I said it.

Bunco snacks are awesome.

But if Bunco isn’t your game and something else is–Scrabble? Phase 10? Pokeno? Yahtzee?–whatever it is, snacks are a fun part of game night.

And though I am kidding, I’m also kind of not kidding. We all need good snacks to round out a fun night with friends.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Best Bunco Game Night Snack Ideas: 

The big thing about game night snacks is that the options are endless.

best bunco game night snack ideas | teachmama.com

best bunco game night snack ideas | teachmama.com

We like to go for a few prepared appetizers brought by 3-4 people:

  • hummus and pita
  • veggies  and dip
  • cheese board: mix of hard and soft cheeses, some apple and pear slices, and some fruit jams
  • a warm dip and chips, like a crab artichoke dip, buffalo chicken dip, a reuben dip, or pizza dip.
  • hand-held mini tacos, taquitos, or dumplings
  • cookies, brownie bites
  • fruit pizza or tarts

best bunco game night snack ideas | teachmama.com

best bunco game night snack ideas | teachmama.com

And each Bunco table usually two bowls of snacks–something sweet and something salty: 

  • pretzels
  • chocolate covered pretzels
  • M & Ms
  • licorice bits
  • candy hearts
  • nuts
  • chocolate covered nuts
  • Bugles
  • trail mix

best bunco game night snack ideas | teachmama.com

best bunco game night snack ideas | teachmama.com

Bunco drinks should be varied:

  • wine
  • beer
  • soda: diet and regular
  • iced tea
  • water
  • coffee, hot tea
  • fun mixed drink that’s quick and easy to make

Remember to find everything you need to know for a rockstar Bunco Girls’ Night Out here: 

how to play bunco: super fun gno | everything you need to know to play bunco with your friends

 

YouTube dances for kids: fun indoor moving and grooving to get the wiggles out

YouTube dances for kids: fun indoor moving and grooving to get the wiggles out

We just got another boatload of snow, so on Sunday morning, when we were snowed in and couldn’t even get out of our house to make it to mass, we got our dance on.

Because why not?

YouTube dances for kids: fun indoor moving and grooving to get the wiggles out

Turns out that Cora and Owen’s awesome teachers for the past few years had often put on short little YouTube dances for them when they need to get the wiggles out.

We found most of Cora and Owen’s faves, and we found some more.

YouTube dances for kids: fun indoor moving and grooving to get the wiggles out

YouTube dances for kids: fun indoor moving and grooving to get the wiggles out

Not only does moving mid-day help increase concentration and focus (for everyone–not just kids!), but learning and practicing these dances will mean that our kids will be rockstars on the dance floor when it comes time for weddings, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, and Quinceaneras in the next few years.

Win, win, win.

Here’s the skinny. . .

YouTube Dances for Kids–Fun Indoor Moving and Grooving to get the Wiggles Out:

Here are our faves:

The Sid Shuffle:

Dino Stomp:

Shake Break:

Mario Dance:

I’m a Gummy Bear:

Awesome Rainbows:

The Wobble:

Macarena:

5 Little Monkeys:

Jump Up:

Exercise Songs:

 

 

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 1.17.01 PM


HOW fun are these? Hope your crew enjoys them as much as we did.

Talk about some serious fun–and listening and moving and dancing–right in your own living room.

YouTube dances for kids: fun indoor moving and grooving to get the wiggles out

youtube header final stars

 

Do you subscribe to our YouTube channel? Head on over and do it!

We usually add 2-3 videos each month about something fun and crafty and learning. Join us!

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime teachmama.com

sponsored post

 

 

a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime  teachmama.com

 

We are so lucky now that our kids can literally have the world at their fingertips. With technology today and well-designed educational apps, kids can basically explore the world from the comfort of their own home.

Virtual travel is something that our family has enjoyed for years now–through food especially.

Recently we had a chance to do a little exploration of sorts–enjoying a meal at a nearby Belgian restaurant and then challenging ourselves to make the same recipe at home.

It was a blast.

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

And along the way, we researched and experimented and learned a ton.

Your at-home cultural adventure need not be focused on Belgian mussels; you can do whatever exploring suits your own family. But here’s how we did it.

And read on to find out how you can even win a chance at a $25,000 Trip of a Lifetime for your family.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Belgian Mussels With Kids–A Cultural Adventure at Home:

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

When we started brainstorming how we wanted to explore another culture at home, we started first by looking around us.

  • What ethnic restaurants were nearby?
  • Which cultures did we want to explore?
  • What foods did we want to try?
  • What could we do with little financial strain?
  • Which recipes could we then try at home?
  • What interested my kids most? 

We really didn’t have to look too far. With a top-rated Belgian restaurant named Mannekin-Pis within an hour’s driving distance, I knew we had a winner.

A little research into the background of the restaurant–and the reason for its name–was enough to get Maddy, Owen, and Cora more than interested.

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

I simply copied a bit of information about the real Mannekin-Pis in Brussels, Belgium, and I left it on the breakfast table.

And the minute the kids caught sight of the small boy statue, relieving himself into a fountain, they went nuts.

What the whaaaa?  Look at what that guy is doing!

He’s peeing in a fountain! Mom! Why’d you leave this here? 

Why is he in all those different costumes? Who’s dressing him up?

 

Then Maddy, Owen, and Cora read the articles, and they found some answers.

We talked a little about what they learned: who the statue was, some of the legends, where he was located, and why he was all dressed up.

I said, So we’re actually going to go to a restaurant not too far from us that is called Mannekin-Pis, and we’re going to try some new Belgian foods. How’s that sound?

They were psyched. Psyched.

At the restaurant, we explored a ton of new foods: traditional Belgian mussels, seafood stew, potato-leek soup, pork, trout, and of course, Belgian chocolates for dessert.

We were thrilled to try to replicate one of the recipes on our own, and we decided that the mussels would be the most fun to try.

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

Owen stepped up as the main chef for our mussels dinner. We searched and searched and found a recipe that most reminded us of the pot of mussels we had only a few nights before: Mussels in Saffron and White Wine Broth.

We made our shopping list, assembled our ingredients, and started cooking.

Our recipe had us trying saffron, a new-for-us spice, and preparing a food we had never previously attempted.

If you’d like to grab our recipe, you can download it here as a pdf: belgian mussels _ teachmama.com

belgian mussels with kids | teachmama.combelgian mussels _ teachmama.com

(If you choose to share the recipe–and we hope you do!–please link to this post instead of the attachment page! Thank you!)

Owen really took charge of this recipe. It was a riot.

He did everything from chopping the vegetables for the broth to cutting bread to cleaning the mussels, and he was uber proud when he finished.

 

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

The mussels were a complete success!

But even more important than making a new for us food was showing Maddy, Owen, and Cora that with a little bit of time, effort, and energy, they could bring a totally new culture to our very own home.

I love it when kids do some serious learning in the kitchen!

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

You could do just about anything like we did–experience a new food at a restaurant and then try to bring it home.

It’s a fantastic learning experience for the whole family.

And it doesn’t have to stop with food; consider learning a new culture through crafts, dances, songs, or language.

 

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

 

MWorld Educational App:

Or, if you’re not sure where to begin, know that bringing cool cultural experiences into our homes is easier than ever thanks to technology.

We’ve been playing with a new app for the past few weeks called MWorld.

mworld app

MWorld is an educational app that lets kids celebrate the world in all its glory.

The MWorld app allows users to explore, create their own worlds, and discover new and exciting adventures.

 

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

mworld app collage | teachmama.com

 

Created by an incredible team of educators and developers from Monash University, this app packs an incredible amount of fun and creative learning into one platform. 

Maddy, Owen, and Cora are only just beginning to scratch the surface of all that MWorld has to offer. And they’re learning a ton and enjoying the ride.

It’s a must-see.

I have 100, 20-credit MWorld codes to give to 100 teachmama.com readers valued at over $25 each!

Here’s how:

  1. Head over to MWorld site, discoverMWorld.com, and create an account.
  2. Enter this special code: amymwjtujg
  3. Log into your account and redeem your 20 MWorld credits!

Please note:  This offer is only valid with purchase and can only be redeemed once per account. All MWorld purchases are subject to the terms and conditions available atdiscovermworld.com/terms-conditions.

Trip of a Lifetime: 

mworld trip of a lifetime | teachmama.com

Free codes for 100 teachmama.com readers? Really.

And a chance to win a Trip of a Lifetime? Yes. Really.

Do you want to go on the trip of a lifetime? To celebrate the global launch of MWorld, Monash is offering an adventurous family the opportunity to travel the world with a AUD $25,000 (over USD $20,000) travel voucher.

Head to the Trip of a Lifetime site to find out more and to share what you would do on your ‘trip of a lifetime’

Who knows? You may win your trip around the world, iPads, GoPros, and more!  If you win, let me know!!

 

 

fyi: This post is part of my work with the MWorld Trip of a Lifetime program.  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 world travelers.

how to do a family fondue night: special occasion dinner

how to do a family fondue night: special occasion dinner

post contains affiliate links

 

 

family fondue night  teachmama.com 2

 

Our family has longtime been a fan of the fondue night.

It’s a tradition for us to make this dinner on New Year’s Day and Valentine’s Day, and often the kids will choose to have fondue for their birthday dinner as well.

Fondue is a lot of fun, but I must be clear: it’s not just a dinner–it’s an event.

It takes time to shop for fondue, prep fondue, and slowly enjoy fondue. And one huge plus is that although it sounds fancy, it’s really pretty simple.

We often rock it out with a 3-course dinner: cheese fondue, broth fondue, and chocolate fondue.

Yum, yum, and yum.

Here’s the skinny. . .

How to Do a Family Fondue Night–Special Occasion Dinner:  

First things first.

You need a fondue set to make this happen. 

And you could go super simple and electric where the heating element is plugged in:

(Below is the Cuisinart Electric Fondue Maker.)

how to do a family fondue night: special occasion dinner

Or you could go super simple and stay traditional, where the heating source is a fire gel or something similar:

(Like the ExcelSteel Fondue Set below.)

family fondue night  teachmama.com traditional pot

And depending on the size of your family, you may want to get two sets so that you all can cook simultaneously.

Because think about it: two fondue forks each, times a family of five, equals ten fondue forks. All in one pot. That’s a lot of forks.

family fondue night  teachmama.com many pots

Pictured above:

Anything you choose, you want to make sure that you have a decent fondue pot and fondue forks.  I got lucky one year and found a pot at our local thrift shop, so it’s worth checking out.

Once you have the proper equipment, then you can decide on the menu.

One thing I love about fondue is that everyone can help with just about every step in some way, shape or form. 

Get the kids involved! 

Have them:

  • help you plan the menu;
  • help create the shopping list;
  • set the table;

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.comhow to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

  • design table cards;
  • break the bread (can be hand torn if kids are too small to cut);
  • cut the vegetables, fruit, or bread;
  • decide on a fun sparkly drink (we like Shirley Temples in fancy glasses for the kids!);
  • organize the forks (everyone must be assigned a color!); or
  • design the layout of dipping sauces.

The possibilities are endless.

Then start cooking!

We usually go with a 3-course fondue event: cheese, broth, and chocolate.

There are a million ways to make fondue, but we’ve created super-super simple recipes with mild flavors that really suit our children’s increasingly adventurous palates.

The cool thing about fondue is that you can really kick up the flavors in simple ways.

Want a little more edgy cheese fondue? Choose sharper cheeses, add some cooking wine or hot sauce.

Want your meets to have more of a kick? Consider dipping the cooked pieces in fun and crazy sauces. Our standbys are barbecue, teriyaki, steak, and cocktail sauce.

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

Course 1: cheese fondue

Ingredients

2 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese

2 cups shredded Swiss or Gruyere cheese

½ cup beer (really–the alcohol will cook off!) or white cooking wine

salt & pepper to taste

For dipping: French bread, apple slices, pre-cooked carrots or broccoli

Directions

1.     Start pot on stovetop. Mix ingredients over med-low heat until melted. Move to fondue stand.

2.     Dip the chosen dippers into the melted cheese.

3.     Enjoy!

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

Course 2: broth fondue

Ingredients

4-8 cups of chicken broth (usually buy two 32oz packages)

1 T Tastefully Simple Spinach and Herb Mix or other seasoned mix

salt and pepper to taste

For dipping: raw shrimp (peeled, de-veined), chicken, beef, salmon, potatoes, veggies cleaned and cut into bite-sized pieces

Sauces for dipping: barbecue, teriyaki, steak, cocktail sauce, Ranch, etc.

Directions

1.     Start pot on stovetop. Mix broth and seasoning over medium heat until 375 degrees (just below boiling). Move to fondue stand.

2.     Put meat or veggie on skewer and dip into broth.  Meat and veggies will cook in this broth, so it’s imperative that you pay attention to cooking times.

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

Some helpful fondue-making hints:

  • Keep all raw foods on the same plate;
  • Color coordinate fondue forks so that no one gets mixed up;
  • Move cooked food directly to your own plate, take it off of the fondue fork, and eat with your own regular fork;
  • If you have super-hungry kids, make a quick side dish for them to munch on while foods cook;
  • Be over cautious–over-cook vs under cook foods;
  • Pre-cook veggies to speed up cooking time.

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

family fondue night | teachmama.com cooking times

Want to check out the coolest fondue cooking timer ever? This is a riot: The Melting Pot Fondue Timer.

We’ll totally pull it out on our iPad next time we’re making fondue!

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

Course 3: chocolate fondue

Ingredients

1 bag semi-sweet milk chocolate chips

1 bag milk chocolate chips

½ cup warm heavy cream

½ cup peanut butter

For dipping: strawberries, banana, marshmallows, pound cake, cheesecake cut into bite-sized pieces

Directions

1.     Start pot on stovetop. Mix ingredients over medium heat until melted. Move to fondue stand.

2.     Dip strawberries, banana, marshmallows, pound cake, cheesecake, cookies cut into bite-sized pieces into chocolate and enjoy!

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

 

Fondue is a super-fun, memory building event for families.

It’s one of our family traditions. It’s special.

There’s no reason to be fearful of fondue because you can really take it as small–or as large–as you’d like. If you don’t want to go nuts with three courses, cleaning up and washing the pots in between, then just do the cheese fondue as a side for a regular dinner.

Or do the broth fondue as your main course and rice or noodles as a side.

The chocolate fondue is always a super idea for a special dessert, for any occasion.

 

how to do a family fondue night: teachmama.com

 

Do you want our recipes?

Know that they are not perfect, but they work for us. Season and adjust to your liking.

family fondue night | teachmama.com recipes

You can download our Family Fondue Night Recipes here as a pdf: fondue dinner recipe _ teachmama.com

(If you choose to share this post–and we hope you do!– please link to this post and not the attachment page! Thank you!)

 

Because there’s so much cutting involved in fondue prep, if you think you or your kids need a little refresher on proper knife techniques, try this: Complete Knife Skills, with Brendan McDermott (FREE mini-course!)

We’re giving it a go for Valentine’s Day, though we’re going for the Complete Knife Skills with Brendan McDermott

It’s better than candy in our family!

And that’s it–a family favorite, for sure!

 

 

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

valentine’s day heart bingo

valentine heart bingo teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

valentine's day heart bingo super-easy and fun for home or class parties | teachmama.com

 

This is so funny–I created this bingo game ages and ages ago but never really shared it.

So?

Here it is: Valentine’s Day Heart Bingo.

Super-basic and similar in layout and design as our Halloween Ghost Bingo, but, of course, all Valentinesy and lovey.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Valentine’s Day Heart Bingo:

This is a great one to print out and use for classroom parties, for playdates, or for any time that works for you.

It’s a good, calm-down bingo game with a Valentine’s Day theme.

valentine's day heart bingo super-easy and fun for home or class parties | teachmama.com

valentine's day heart bingo super-easy and fun for home or class parties | teachmama.com

 

Valentine’s Day HEART Bingo can be downloaded and shared here: valentines day HEART bingo | teachmama.com

(If you choose to share–and we hope you do!–please link to this post instead of the attachment page. Thank you!)

What you need to play:

Prepare to play! 

To prepare the game, all you need to do is print it. Then give each person a board and some bingo markers.

valentine's day heart bingo - teach mama

To play, the bingo caller rolls the die or flips the card.  Instead of the big bingo roller in the normal bingo game, we used the die or we used the small cards with letters H-E-A-R-T on them. This is how we decided which column the card would be under.

Then the bingo caller flips a small card to show players which object should be covered.  I created a small set of these cards and a larger set. The larger set has the name of the word written below the picture.

Bingo caller can say something like,

Okay, I flipped ‘H’ and the ‘fire heart’. Everyone look for the ‘fire heart’ under ‘H’–it looks like this. . .

Sweet! We’ve got an ‘E’ and the ‘happy guy’.  Who has it? The ‘happy guy’ looks like this. . .

Okay friends, we’re looking at the ‘R’ column and the ‘love face’. This is everyone’s favorite. Who has the ‘love face’ under the ‘R’?

Remember, the first one with five in a row, shout ‘HEART’!!!

valentine's day heart bingo - teach mama

valentine's day heart bingo - teach mama

Especially for early readers, seeing the picture and reading the name is a better way of learning words and letter sounds.

And mention it, too, as you go. There’s really no harm in pointing to the words as you say them. Reminding kids that ‘heart’ is spelled H-E-A-R-T and that the winner needs to shout ‘heart’ instead of bingo!

Hey–if they learn nothing during this game other than how to spell ‘heart’, it’s a win. Heart’s a difficult word, friends.

And, like all bingo, the winner is the first player to have five objects covered in a row.

valentine's day heart bingo - teach mama

 

Or you can get crazy and play 4 Corners (each corner covered), Blackout (full board covered), or Small Square (small box of two on top and two below covered).

Whatever works, whatever you need.

Happy playing!

Want a few more fun Valentine’s Day ideas? Check out: 

valentine's day class party ideas

how to throw a rockstar valentine's day party teachmama.com 2

 

valentine's day class party ideas, 2.0 | teachmama.com

 

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