first steps to writing: teaching grip to first letters and words

first steps to writing cover collage teachmama.com.png

I just shared a cool series over at the Scholastic Parents Raise a Reader blog, and I think it will be of interest to many parents.

It’s all about first steps to writing and what parents can do to help with teaching their kids proper grip to first letters and words.

Super-quick reads.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • First Steps to Writing–Teaching Grip to First Letters and Words:  It’s hard to know where to start and what to do as a parent when it comes to writing. How are we supposed to know what to do? Don’t kids just know how to hold a pencil properly? What’s the deal?

No. Humans aren’t born with the innate ability to hold a writing tool and they really do need help learning the proper positioning.

And? There are tons of easy ways parents can support this learning at home. Early in the game.

Click on the images to read more.

first steps to writing fine motor skills

first steps to writing: build fine motor skills

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early writing skills how to teach grip

first steps to writing: how to teach grip

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letters and words to teach your kids first scholastic

first steps to writing: letters and words to write first

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Need some more name-learning inspiration? Check out:

Want some other cool ideas for creating words and sending messages? Check out:

Have fun and feel free to link up any other ideas you have–I’m always up for more sneaky fun ways of spending time with my kiddos!

gallon ziploc bag activities for preschoolers

gallon ziplock bag activities for preschoolers

The following rockstar guest post is written by Barb of  A Life in Balance. Barb has a ton of awesome ideas, and you should totally check out her blog. 

Gallon bag activities.

Plastic bag activities. Ziploc or Ziplock or Glad or store brand, it doesn’t matter. All you need is a large-sized plastic bag with a tight seal to totally rock these activities. Your preschooler will totally heart you. We promise.

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  • Gallon Ziplock Bag Activities for Preschoolers, by Barb Hoyer.

gallon-ziplock-bag-activities-for-preschoolers

 

One of my favorite parts of homeschooling was coming up with activities in a bag to keep my young ones occupied while I was working with my oldest son.

Since I had 2 and then 3 little ones to manage while homeschooling, I kept a wide variety of Bag Activities on hand, and we rotated through them to keep the kids interested.

Some of these ideas are perfect for car trips or to bring along to a restaurant when you go out for a meal. I’ve also brought a few to the sports field like the bubble solution and notebook with stickers.

At the preschool level, the emphasis is on developing fine motor skills during play. Many preschoolers like my youngest son are not ready for heavy academics, however, they still need to learn how to handle a pencil, cut with scissors, and learn the basics of color and shapes.

The beauty of the gallon ziplock bag is that many creative play-based learning activities can fit into them for easy access and storage. Use plastic shoe boxes to organize the activities by type, days of the week, or place (car, restaurant, sports field).

Here are some ideas: 

  • Shaving cream in a closed bag used for drawing pictures and shapes
  • Shoelaces or straws and large beads for stringing and cards with patterns for imitatingPaper towel tube and car to run through it
  • Tongs, 2 bowls, and stuff to pick up with tongs; same activity can be done with tweezers
  • Texture cards – felt, fake fur, leather, sandpaper
  • Magnifying glass with a few items for examining – rock, leaf, bark, patterned fabric
  • Nuts and Bolts
  • Finger puppets
  • Shape cards for matching
  • Pom poms for sorting
  • Make Your Own Mobile kit – seasonal, interests
  • I-Spy soda bottle – shoe, key, dime, marble, lego brick, paper clip, birdseed, photos of items for searching
  • Blank book and stickers or roll of paper with shapes drawn on it for filling with stickers
  • Egg carton with items for sorting – nuts, bolts, beans, pasta, paper clips, buttons
  • Alphabet book – small booklet made of papers stapled together with a glue stick and scissors
  • Paper and scissors
  • Bubble solution and bubble blowing wands
  • Shape and object cards for matching together or matching to the environment
  • Playdough

Where to Buy Supplies:

Thrift stores and garage sales – Fabric for cutting up, seasonal items like ornaments, small plastic kitchenware, toy figures
Ikea – finger puppets, child-sized plastic dishes, utensils, cups and kitchen items
Dollar Store – Craft supplies, gallon freezer bags, kitchen items, paper goods, stickers, seasonal items, birthday treat bag items
Dollar bin at craft stores and Target – small notebooks, crayons, markers, stickers
Hardware store – nuts and bolts, small tools, measuring tape, chain

Thank you, Barb! You have fabulous ideas!!

is a mom of 5 kids who spends her day keeping track of socks, stuffed animals, library books, and a 5 year old when she isn’t writing about all the frugality, gardening, cooking, and reading she manages to fit in between the chaotic moments. She can be found at A Life in Balance.

Connect with Barb:
Pinterest | Google+ | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Blog

Looking for more ways to teach toddlers and preschoolers? 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:

creative ways to keep kids busy on sidelines

keep kids busy on the sidelines teachmama.com

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keep kids busy on the sidelines  teachmama.com

 

Many families spend a good chunk of time bussing kids around town, from dance class to music, from soccer to t-ball.

And though it’s awesome that our kids are busy, burning steam, and having fun with their friends, all these activities often mean that siblings are in tow, trying to stay out of trouble on the sidelines.

If their little buddies are there, that’s one thing. But if they are stuck for an hour or more just hanging around, with no park or playmates, it’s tough.

Many of us know that sideline entertaining isn’t always the easiest thing, especially for busy and tired parents.

Sure, we can all hand our kids a cell phone, iPad, or tablet to keep our kids busy, but what to do if you want to keep kids busy but unplugged during their siblings’ activities?

What if we want our kids to (gasp!) be unplugged while their siblings are having their activity?  I have some ideas. Tried, tested, and true.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Creative Ways to Keep Kids Busy on the Sidelines:

When you’re heading out to practice or a game or the dance studio and you know you will have kids in tow, grab a bag and throw in a few essentials.

creative ways to keep kids busy on sidelines: teachmama.com

You always should have a blanket, a bag of snacks, and some paper and a few pencils or crayons. Always. With only paper and a pencil, you can play:

  • Tic-tac-toe: Mix it up by using letters, numbers, or simple pictures as your markers. So fun. And so old school but so great for early writing and thinking skills!
  • Guess the picture: One person draws a picture and the other person guesses what it is. Challenge yourselves by setting a timer or allowing only a handful of steps in drawing the picture.
  • Silent conversations: Super-simple conversations composed on paper, with no talking permitted. This game is great for quiet hallways during music lessons.

creative ways to keep kids busy on sidelines: teachmama.com

  • Strike it out: Fun math game that builds skills and requires no set-up or space. Critical thinking along with computation skills are practiced and kids have no idea!
  • Keep score: Teach your kiddos how to use tally marks by keeping track of each team’s score. Or keep track of the number of blue cars to red cars in the parking lot or the number of moms to dads on the sidelines.

creative ways to keep kids busy on sidelines: teachmama.com

Or grab these few items to make your sideline entertainment even more fun:

  • Melissa and Doug Sticker Collection – Fashion: The amount of hours Maddy and Cora have spent with this set is unbelievable.  They’ve made fast friends on the soccer sidelines with these sets; a few sticker sets, a big picnic blanket, and a bunch of kids make an hour long practice zip by.

creative ways to keep kids busy on sidelines: teachmama.com

  • Pinball Arcade – ON the GO Travel Activity: My kids love this. Yes, it’s a little loud with the bouncing ball and the snaps of the pinball handles, but with a background that can change and the math fun that can happen if you challenge your kids to keep score, Pinball Arcade is a winner.

The possibilities for sideline fun is endless, and really–unplugging isn’t as difficult as you may think!

What are your favorite ways to entertain your little loves while big sisters or brothers are at practice? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!

melissa doug blog ambassador button

 

fyi: This post was written as part of the Melissa & Doug Blog Ambassador program. All opinions are my own, influenced only by my experience as an educator and parent and longtime toy lover. Huge and happy thanks to Melissa & Doug for their willingness to work with bloggers in this way and for always creating awesome, meaningful products. 

Affiliate links are used in this post. 

prepare a family emergency plan: be EVEREADY (and grab a few free books from Scholastic!)

family emergency plan resources teachmama.com.png

sponsored post

 

 

 

Free books.  FREE books!family emergency plan resources teachmama.com.png

Seriously.

Grab free books for making sure your family is prepared for an emergency.  And for goodness’ sake, don’t we all want to be prepared for emergencies?

Thanks to a partnership between EVEREADY® Gold® and Scholastic, families can grab two free books from Scholastic when you purchase batteries. Or a flashlight.

So in the process of preparing a family emergency plan–which everyone should do–you can also grab a few top-notch, free books to keep your kiddos occupied and reading in the event of an emergency.

Actually, you can keep them occupied, engaged, and reading even without an emergency. And let’s hope we all never have to experience one.

Here’s the skinny. . .

But every family must prepare a family emergency plan.

This past fall, folks from a national news outlet came to our house to film a short clip sharing with the nation how prepared we were for an emergency.

They spent the entire day with us, and you know what we learned? We were not at all prepared. At all.

Now, we’re on the road to being more prepared. But we’re still not perfect.

What you can do to prepare a family emergency plan: 

  • check out these resources: (click on image to head to the site where you can download them!)

prepare family for an emergency | teachmama.com

prepare family emergency plan | teachmama.com

  • or check out how our family learned from the experts how to prepare:


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!

 

prepare family emergency | teachmama.com

 

free books from scholastic promo teachmama.com.png

 

All you have to do is purchase EVEREADY® Gold® batteries or EVEREADY® flashlights and redeem your books by entering special codes online.  Easy peasy.

Any time I hear of a company taking the extra step to ensure that families are prepared for emergencies, I really want to dance.  There’s no time like the present to get rolling on this. Really.  So head get going!

How do you prepare for an emergency? Do you have a family emergency plan? What else should we know–and share–with readers? Do tell!

 

fyi: This is a sponsored post.  I was asked to share information about their awesome EVEREADY® for Life campaign, and I was happy to do so. As always, all opinions are my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator.

alphabet egg hunt: uppercase and lowercase letter match

alphabet egg hunt springtime literacy fun teachmama.com.png

Kids need to learn the letters of the alphabet.alphabet egg hunt  springtime literacy fun teachmama.com.png

And even if we play with the letters for ten minutes a day, it adds up–and before we know it, our kids will be ready for success in reading and in  school.

It’s a perfect time of the year to throw in some sneaky before-nap or after naptime learning for our little ones, and though I know finding time can often be difficult, here’s an easy one for you: Alphabet Egg Hunt.

Kids are already ramped up for Easter egg hunts, so why not have one in your house while you wait for the real one in a few weeks?

This one will get kids up and moving and grooving. And the best thing? They’ll be playing with uppercase and lowercase letters.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Alphabet Egg Hunt–Uppercase and Lowercase Letter Match: This is really a re-vamp of a post I shared a long, long time ago: Alphabet Egg Puzzles.

But as I reviewed it, I realized I (gulp) didn’t do it nearly as well as it could have been done.

Sure, the directions and explanation and story behind it works–that kind of stuff will last forever.

But the printables? Not so much.

alphabet egg letter match puzzles | teachmama.com

The photos? Not so great.

The eggs themselves? For real, super tiny.

So we did a little behind-the-scenes work and recreated the Alphabet Egg Hunt template, and the new one? Totally rocks.

Here it is for you to print out: alphabet egg hunt

alphabet egg letter match puzzles | teachmama.com

alphabet egg letter match puzzles | teachmama.com

 

I printed it on light colored cardstock so they’d hold up a bit, and that way they’re easier for little hands to manage.

Like all of our learning games and supplies, I threw the eggs in a plastic bag so it’s a game we can grab on the go, anywhere, any time.

We have some more super-fun matching game ideas up our sleeves in the next few days. Cora, especially, is psyched to do some pattern-making on eggs for her little cousins.

And really, her excitement about creating learning materials and teaching her cousins makes my heart sing. Cannot wait to share!

 

Want a few more alphabet activities? Check out:

 

Follow us on pinterest, and check out our literacy pins:

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

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

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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:

kids doing laundry: 3 secrets to success

kids and laundry 3 secrets to success teachmama.com.png

sponsored post

 

 

 

We are about six weeks into our laundry re-vamp, and things are going well.kids and laundry | 3 secrets to success | teachmama.com

To be 100% honest, we have had some roadblocks.  A traveling weekend here and an activity-filled weekend there forced the laundry job to fall on my shoulders for two consecutive weeks, since I am home eating bon-bons all day.  Ha!

But aside from that, the kids have pretty much taken over the laundry job.

Friends have asked for my secret:

  • They handle the whole laundry, from start to finish? What do you do–pay them a million bucks?
  • What  I wouldn’t do to have this job shared by my family  and not rest on my lap—I hate laundry.
  • There’s no way my kids would do laundry. How do I even begin?

After thinking about it, I realized that getting kids to do laundry isn’t top-secret material. It’s just a few things we’re doing to make laundry more enticing. More approachable. More kid-friendly.

Like a lot of what we try over here, it’s about setting our kids up for success. Because really? Don’t we all want to do things well?

And it’s also about consistency, follow-through, and support.  Three things that are really, really hard for busy families. But we’re trying.

The bottom line is that if our family can have kids doing laundry, any family can do it.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Kids Doing Laundry–3 Secrets to Success:  Granted, like most of parenting, getting kids to do laundry–and like it!–is a work in progress.

Each day is different.

But for the most part, these are our three secrets to success.

kids and laundry  3 secrets to success jobs  teachmama.com.png.png

1.  Give them jobs.

Give your kids specific, clear, manageable jobs.

We have our Wash Warrior poster up on the wall in our laundry room so the kids can reference it at any time, and it helps.

The Wash Warrior, Super-Fly Dry Guy, and Put ‘Em Away Triple Play jobs each have distinct components with step-by-step directions. That way, there’s no question.

And if they hit a roadblock–a stain!– the Stain Fighter information is right there, too.

Bottom line is that though the jobs are outlined and info right there, they know that they can call for help (me!) at any point in the process. We’ve made the laundry job light, fun, and not at all scary for them.

 kids and laundry 3 secrets to success technology teachmama.com.

2. Get techy.

Adding a bit o’ tech to the mix has helped make this job more kid-friendly as well.

Whirlpool’s Wash Squad app seriously rocks. And it only takes a minute to learn.  It allows kids to sign in, get their job assignments, and then earn points when they’ve finished their job.

For some kids this might not work because they respond better to #2–the personal celebrations of success and an actual hug, high-five, or shout-out. But for other kids who thrive on earning points and who enjoy playing with numbers, and getting their handds on the iPad, this tech piece is huge.

Again, it’s what works best for your family.

the special plate  celebrate success as a family positive  teachmama.com

3.  Celebrate success. 

Celebrate success if someone totally rocks one load from start to finish–solo–then we really make a big deal of it.

Doing laundry isn’t the quickest job in the world, so it does take time and patience. And Maddy, Owen, and Cora are still little. They need to listen for the buzzers, be aware of the movement from washer to dryer and from dryer to basket and from basket to bedrooms.

So we celebrate in the ways that work for our family: 

Other ideas:

  • a shout-out at mealtime;
  • an extra scoop of ice-cream for dessert;
  • a big hug from Mom or Dad when they return from work;
  • a ‘freebie’ tv show;
  • an extra book at bedtime;
  • . . . whatever works for your family.

For my family, all three of these ideas work together as our ‘secret sauce’.  Each of my kids are so different, that these three pieces seem to work for them all.

And?  Because kids are kids and every day is different, what works one day may not work the next. So having me consistently on the sidelines seems to help tremendously.kids doing laundry laundry can be fun  teachmama.com.png

It’s a win-win. Not only are the kids doing the laundry and helping our family, but they’re also learning a life skill. And maybe when they get to college, they’ll be the stars of their hall because they’ll know how to do laundry from start to finish and can save their pals’ shirts from nasty stains.  We shall see!

 

How does your family manage the laundry? Do the kids help? Run the show? Do tell!  We would LOVE to know!

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also part of this Wash Warrior series:

(click on the image to visit the post!)

teach kids how to do laundry wash warriors teachmama.com.png

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teach kids to be stain fighters: laundry from start to finish

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fyi: This is a sponsored post, written as part of the Whirlpool Ambassador program. As always, opinions and ideas are my own, influenced only by my experience as an educator and parent and my three little wash warriors. 

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

sparkly flower craft.jpg
post contains affiliate links

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

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

____________________

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

sparkly flower craft for kids: teachmama.com

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

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

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

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

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

How to make sparkly flowers…

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 rockstar sunday promo teachmama

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

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

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

other posts in the series:

chick hatching: fun for kids and families

chick hatching at home teachmama.com cover .png

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

We. Love. Chickens.

Really, we do.

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

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

We love chick hatching.

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

Seriously.

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

Here’s the skinny. . .

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

It was so much fun, it was nuts.

chick hatching | teachmama.com

chick hatching | teachmama.com

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

Whatever the reason, we loved chick hatching.

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

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

chick hatching | teachmama.com

chick hatching | teachmama.com

chick hatching | teachmama.com

Fun facts about our chick hatching experience:

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

chick hatching | teachmama.com

 

chick hatching | teachmama.com

Check out all of our chick hatching photos:

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

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

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

amy tyler text

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

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

 

chick hatching | teachmama.com

 

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chick hatching checklist

chick hatching checksheet | teachmama.com

download yours: chick hatching checklist | teachmama.com

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

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

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

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

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

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

 

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

 

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

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2 easy ways to teach reading at mealtime

2 easy ways to teach reading at mealtime

teach reading at mealtime two easy ways .png

Believe it.

You can teach your kids how to read while you’re sitting down to breakfast.

You can teach your kids to read while you’re making lunches.

You can teach your kids to read while your family sits down for dinner.

It’s about making reading fun and making it part of your entire day. 

Using the environmental print in your kitchen or dining room, and playing with the boxes, bags, and familiar items from foods and snacks, your kids will soon be reading. And they’ll be thrilled.

You don’t even need to tell them you’re teaching them to read; rather, just start playing.

Play with rhyme. Play with word hunting. Play with letters.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • 2 Easy Ways to Teach Reading at Mealtime:  Though it might not be rocket science, these two ways you can teach reading at mealtime will have big pay-offs.

Check it out:

 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!

 

And for more sneaky, fun ways of teaching reading, check out:

 

Be sure to follow us!

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

Capitalizing on this time when kids are sitting down, taking in what’s around them is a huge must for parents. Let’s get reading!

What are some other ways we can sneak in reading at mealtime? Would love to hear your thoughts!

virtual travel: kids can explore without leaving home

virtual travel: explore without leaving home | teachmama.com

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virtual travel | explore without leaving home | teachmama.comSpringtime often means sunshine and warm breezes, park play dates and bike rides.

But it also means rain boots and umbrellas.  Long and lazy afternoons inside, waiting for April showers to end so May flowers can bloom.

For those times when Mother Nature keeps us in check, why not consider ‘virtual travel’ instead?  A little exploration without leaving home?

Go away. But don’t really go away.

So many of the toys around our home can inspire further exploration, a little research into the who, what, why, where, when, and how. Many of our puzzles, books, and games have sparked in our kids’ minds questions and the need for further exploration.

I’m betting it’s the same for you.

This time, when questions arise, consider taking your kids on a virtual vacation.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Virtual Travel–Explore Without Leaving Home: Some of the images on our everyday toys are just what my kids need to get their imagination going.

Did these dinosaurs really live and hunt together like in this picture? 

virtual travel: explore without leaving home | teachmama.com

 

Is there a place in the world where under the sea animals look like this? 

No way these kinds of bugs are in the rainforest–I don’t believe it!

Is this what a savannah really looks like? 

So rather than just throw Maddy, Owen, and Cora in front of the computer with ‘Google’ in front of them, I thought I’d take them on a little ‘virtual vacation’ of sorts.

When I was in the classroom, one of my favorite ways of activating schema–or even building schema–for my students was by taking them on a ‘virtual tour’ of a setting, event, or idea related to a text we would soon read. It was a great way of getting students familiar with concepts that they would encounter in a text without the hassle of setting up a field trip.

Why not do the same thing with my own children? I thought that surely the internet has a wide range of virtual trips for folks to explore these days? And I was correct.

virtual travel: explore without leaving home | teachmama.com

virtual travel: explore without leaving home | teachmama.comSo when kids are playing with the toys you have at home, enjoying the peace and challenge of a puzzle on one rainy afternoon, take them a bit further.

Take them on a virtual trip, and I’m  sure they’ll never look at things the same way.

    • In the African Safari: The Safari Floor Puzzle is a favorite in our house. Watching any of these live AfriCams gives you the idea of what it could be like. Live streaming in some of the most dangerous parts of Africa. Yikes.

virtual travel: explore without leaving home | teachmama.com

 

    • Run Free with Horses: The River Run Puzzle, horses running free is a hard virtual tour to find, but the closest thing to mirror that event is the Chincoteaque Pony Swim every summer in Virginia.  Ponies running free and swimming. Bam.

This spring, when weather keeps us indoors–or even if we just feel the need for a little getaway–go virtually. You’ll be so glad you did!

Where are your favorite spots to travel virtually? I’d love to hear ’em! 

 

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fyi: This post was written as part of the Melissa & Doug Blog Ambassador program. All opinions are my own, influenced only by my experience as an educator and parent and longtime toy lover. 

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