preparing kids for Kindergarten: the summer before school starts — Home Study

kindergarten prep summer before


Do you have a little one heading off to the wilds of Kindergarten this year? 

Then this Home Study is for YOU.


kindergarten prep  summer before


This is just one of the many teach mama Home Studies that are short, information-packed, interactive courses designed to change your life.

Perhaps you think ‘changing your life’ is a little lofty–but it’s true.  It really can change your life–and your child’s. 

In the last 10 years, I have spoken at dozens of local and national events, sharing information about teaching, learning, and community building.  One workshop I’ve done dozens of times is about how parents can prepare their children for Kindergarten. 

Time and time again, the feedback is the same: parents have said to me that what they learned in my workshop changed the way they spent time with their children. 

So exciting, right? I know.

I love it, and because it’s something I totally love doing, I’m opening the Home Study up to a larger group for a early summer workshop.  It’ll be awesome. And I know everyone will learn a ton.

And? We’re offering the whole workshop for $20 off through May. Check it out and share this page with your friends.

They’ll thank you for it!

home study kinder prep SUMMER

Check it out to learn more, but know that spots are filling quickly: teach mama Home Study: Kindergarten Prep SUMMER


kindergarten prep home study 300

teachmama long logo home study


preparing for kindergarten summer before

don’t send your child to Kindergarten until you take this Home Study!

get kids ready for kindergarten


I have been so, so busy lately, working hard on our redesign– woo-hooooo! and working on some other really fun and exciting things for you.


what every parent must know before sending kids to kindergarten  stop sign

This week, I launched the first of a series of teach mama Home Studies: short, information-packed, interactive courses designed to change your life.

Perhaps you think ‘changing your life’ is a little lofty–but it’s true.  It really can change your life–and your child’s. 

Here’s the thing: in the last 10 years, I have spoken at dozens of local and national events, sharing information about teaching, learning, and community building.  One workshop I’ve done dozens of times is about how parents can prepare their children for Kindergarten. 

Time and time again, the feedback is the same.

Check it out to learn more, but know that spots are filling quickly: teach mama Home Study Kindergarten prep.

10 ways to create a literacy rich environment

10 ways to create a literacy rich environment guest post by kategribble on

10 ways to create a literacy rich environment | guest post by kategribble on

The following Rockstar Sunday guest post is written by Kate of An Everyday Story. Kate is a former teacher who now homeschools her two littles using the Reggio Emilia Approach.

I love her blog, and you will too.

Check it out!


  • 10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment, by Kate Gribble

Hi everyone. We are an Australian homeschooling family. I have two lovely little ones, Jack (5yrs) and Sarah (3yrs). Right from the beginning we knew we would homeschool. When my son was about a year old I can across the Reggio Emilia Approach.

As a former high school teacher (specialising in literacy and learning support), everything I read about Reggio challenged my fundamental beliefs of how children learn, but most significantly, how children should be taught.

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment |

The Reggio Emilia Approach is an innovative and inspiring approach to early childhood education. It values the child as strong, capable and resilient; rich with wonder and knowledge. The Reggio Emilia Approach believes every child brings with them deep curiosity and potential and that this innate curiosity drives their interest to understand their world and their place within it.

The Reggio Emilia Approach originated in the town (and surrounding areas) of Reggio Emilia in Northern Italy out of a movement towards progressive and cooperative early childhood education. Some of the fundamental principles of the Reggio Emilia Approach include:

  • Children are capable of constructing their own meaning –  they are driven by their interests to know and understand more
  • Children are communicators – Children are listened to with respect, believing that their questions and observations are an opportunity to learn and search together. It is a collaborative process; rather than the child asking a question and the adult offering the answers. The search is undertaken together.
  • The environment is the third teacher – The environment is recognised for its potential to inspire children. Whether a playroom or a classroom, each material is carefully selected to encourage children to delve deeper into their interests
  • A child-led project approach – Learning isn’t predetermined months in advance; learning emerges based on the children’s interests and questions
  • The Hundred Languages of Children – The belief that children learn in many different ways; each way as valuable as the next. The idea that children learn through painting and drawing, through building and dance, through drama and music and that each of these ways needs to be nurtured
  • Learning and play are not separated – They are interconnected. The Reggio Emilia Approach emphasises hands-on discovery learning that allows the child to use all their senses and all their languages to learn.

Today I thought I would share with you some of the ways we approach literacy and language learning in our homeschool:

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment

1: Including books on the play room shelves

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment |

2: Creating meaningful language in context – have an authentic reason for reading and writing

  • read to find answers
  • write lists
  • write questions
  • write postcards
  • write thank you cards
  • write instructions – recipe cards, treasure maps, rules for games

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment |

3: Providing writing materials with toys

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment |

4: Including literacy materials in the dress-ups

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment |


5: Encouraging documentation

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment |

6: Using books in art experiences

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment |

7. Reading. Read widely and often

8: Using hands-on materials in favour of worksheets

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment |

9: Creating exploration shelves based on the kids’ interests which include reference books and writing materials

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment |

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment |

10: Keeping a writing journal

I hope you have enjoyed a small peek inside our child-led Reggio-inspired homeschool. I look forward to seeing you all again soon over on my blog, An Everyday Story.

kate of an everyday story

Thank you so much, Kate!

Kate is a former high school teacher. Now, inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach and Project-based Homeschooling, she is homeschooling her two children.  Find her at her blog, An Everyday Story, and connect with her on:

facebook | pinterest | instagram | google +  

Looking for more ways to create a literacy-focused environment? 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:



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

first steps to writing cover collage

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


early writing skills how to teach grip

first steps to writing: how to teach grip


letters and words to teach your kids first scholastic

first steps to writing: letters and words to write first


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!

word building, letter writing, stamping to spell

stamp to spell

post contains affiliate links



stamp to spell | use stamps for early literacy learning and spelling |

 Originally published on 2.23.11 but republished because it’s that important.

During Maddy’s homework time yesterday, Owen had one task on  his mind: he wanted to write a get-well letter to his buddy who recently had surgery.  He knew exactly what he wanted to write–he told me at least two times during the day what his letter would say, and we knew exactly what we wanted to put in his pal’s little ‘get well quick’ package.

But my O-man wanted to make his letter special. He wanted to make it fancy he said, because he wanted to really cheer his buddy up.

So I brought down the alphabet letter stamps–our favorites from Melissa & Doug–and I asked if he wanted to stamp his letter.  Score! He did, so he got stamping. . .

. . . and while Cora initially began her own letter to Owen’s friend, she quickly switched gears and decided that she instead wanted to ‘stamp names’. So stamping names my little Cora did.

All the while, Maddy and I rocked out her homework, and I’ll tell you, overall, homework time went pretty smoothly for us.

  • Word Building, Letter Writing, Stamping to Spell: Before Owen began, he dictated his letter to me.  I wrote it down and placed it next to his blank card and the alphabet stamps.

I asked,  Do you want me to make lines for you, Owen?

No, I know what to do, he said.  And apparently he did. He got rolling and only stopped when Maddy mentioned something to him about spaces between words.

You should really try putting two fingers on the paper and use that as the space between words so it’s not all one big word on the page. That’s what my teacher taught me last year.

stamp to spell |

Owen tries out Maddy’s ‘two fingers for a space’ trick.

I confirmed her suggestion, and Owen started using his two tiny fingers as spaces. He got hung up when there wasn’t enough room on the page for the ‘u’ in ‘you’ so I tried to squeeze it in for him. It didn’t work:  Now it looks like a ‘q’ Mommy. Come on. Really, what am I good for anymore?

So I did what I could to fix it and he didn’t ask me for help again.

stamp to spell | early literacy | spelling |

stamp to spell | teachmama.comMy sweet, sweet Owen was so proud of his letter.   And he should be.

And I really didn’t need to, because he did know what he was doing. Sure, he moved back and forth between uppercase and lowercase letters, but at this point, that’s no big deal. He used his eyes to follow the words on the letter I wrote, found the correct letter stamp in the set, and then marked that letter on the page. That’s not easy.

Sure, he got tired and decided to omit a whole line of his message, but that doesn’t matter. It wasn’t an easy task, and he worked hard.

He stamped some flowers, dogs, hearts on the front of the card, and he added his own few hearts for his buddy.  If that doesn’t cheer a guy up, I’m not sure what will.

stamp to spell | early literacy | spelling |

stamp to spell | early literacy | spelling |

  • Stamping Family Names: While Owen stamped his letter, Cora stamped our family’s names.

Lately, she’s brought down our Family Name Chart at least once a week; she’s traced names, doodled on the page, anything.  Sometimes she just has the chart next to her as she colors.  Maybe because she likes the ‘older’ pictures of our family? (Cora was maybe a year old when I made it. . . )

The Family Name Charts are here to download if you’d like. They include three charts: one with MOMMY, DADDY and 3 blank spaces; one with Mommy, Daddy, and 3 blank spaces; and one with 5 blank spaces.

new family name chart (in Word, so you can change it yourself), or new family chart–BLANK ( as a pdf, so you can write in the names yourself).  Enjoy!

Cora began with Maddy’s name; she said, I need an ‘M’, I need an ‘M‘.  And when she found it, she stamped it.  Then she’d continue: I need an ‘A’, I need an ‘A’, I need the ‘A’. . . as she searched for it in the box.

stamp to spell | early literacy and letter recognition |


stamp to spell | early literacy | letter recognition |

Once Maddy was stamped, she went on to Owen, but before she started, I drew four little lines for her.  You can put the letters right on these lines so each letter is in the right place, I said.  I did the same for her name and Brady’s.

It was hard enough for her to follow the letters from the sheet, to the stamp set, to the paper, and keep them all in the correct spot, so I thought the little lines would give her a little help.


stamp to spell | early literacy and letter recognition | teachmama.comCora stamped family names.

And that’s it.  Cora stamped out family names, Owen stamped his buddy’s note, and when Maddy was finished with her work, she stamped a few fancy pictures for her pals.  Quick, easy, and worthwhile time spent for everyone, building words, writing letters, and stamping to spell, all the while practicing fine motor skills and spelling.

Our kiddos don’t always have to write in order to learn letters and words; in fact, sometimes when we mix things up a bit, they’re even more interested in ‘playing’ and (secretly) learning.

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!


fyi: affiliate links are used in this post

tips and tricks for teaching emergent readers (with free printable early reader books!)

tips and tricks for teaching emergent readers

The following guest post is written by the incredibly talented (and busy!) Anna of The Measured Mom.  Anna is a former classroom teacher, currently a mom of four littles who will be joined by a fifth this winter!  Please check out her rockin blog.

tips and tricks for teaching emergent readers


I’m thrilled to be guest posting here at Teach Mama! As a former first and second grade teacher and now mother to four little ones, I love teaching children how to read.

Today I’d like to share my tips and tricks for teaching emergent readers. You’ll also find some free printable emergent readers and links to even more!

  • Tips and Tricks for Teaching Emergent Readers (with Free Printable Early Reader Books!):


So first of all… what’s an emergent reader?

The term emergent reader can mean two things. It can mean the actual reader himself, or it can mean little books that beginning readers use when they’re just beginning to match voice to print. Let’s talk about the children themselves.

Emergent readers are beginning readers who…

  • know their alphabet and at least some letter sounds;
  • know the difference between a letter and a word;
  • have an basic sense of story (beginning, middle, end);
  • are beginning to match spoken words with print;
  • may recognize words in some contexts and not in others.

What behaviors do emergent readers exhibit?

  • They may use their finger to point to words as they read.
  • They read slowly (word by word).
  • They use the picture clues as they read.
  • They are learning to use beginning sounds to help solve harder words.

tips and tricks for teaching emergent readers (4) - the measured mom on teach mama


What kinds of books are best for emergent readers?

The best kind of books for emergent readers are little books with the same name: emergent readers. I’m not talking about phonics readers which can be laborious and painful for brand new readers who are probably not sounding out words with consistency.

I’m talking about little books that meet the following criteria:

  • They have strong picture support.
  • They use repetition, rhyme, or rhythm.
  • They have controlled, repeated vocabulary.
  • They use natural language.
  • Their text is large and clear with only 1-2 sentences per page.

tips and tricks for teaching emergent readers (2) - the measured mom on teach mama

How do we best teach emergent readers?

First of all, we get them books that they can read. Unfortunately, true emergent readers (the books) are extremely hard to find. You are unlikely to find them in your local library and can spend a small fortune purchasing them from the big education companies. Thankfully, you can find free or affordable emergent readers by doing a little hunting. Here are some of my favorite resources:

Reading ($90 for a year’s subscription and unlimited downloads)
Ohio State Keep Books (Books are only about 25 cents each – ask about Kid’s Sets if you want single copies instead of classroom sets)
This Reading Mama’s Reading the Alphabet curriculum
Free Emergent Reader Set  from The Measured Mom

That’s right – the last collection is from me! I’ve been creating four themed readers (such as animals, community helpers, and fairy tales) for each new sight word – starting simple (sight word a) and adding on as we go. You can access my growing collection by clicking on the image below:


And today I’m sharing a set of free emergent readers for you to use with your children at the very beginning of this stage! Get them here: Free Emergent Reader Set

To assemble these little books:

  • 1) Print pages 2-9 front to back (Page 1 is my Terms of Use).
  • 2) Be patient for the download and your printer – it may take a few minutes.
  • 3) Cut each page across the horizontal center.
  • 4) Insert the inner page of each book and staple with a long-armed stapler.

free books for emergent readers

How do we support emergent readers as they read?

1) We give helpful prompts.

  • Use the picture to help you.
  • Does the first letter of that word match what you said?
  • Did that sound right?
  • Get your mouth ready to say that word.

tips and tricks for teaching emergent readers (3) - the measured mom on teach mama

2) We celebrate what they do well.

  • That didn’t make sense and you went back and fixed it – good for you!
  • That was a funny page and you laughed! I can tell you’re really thinking about what you’re reading.
  • You didn’t know that word, but you used the picture to help you figure it out. That’s great!

tips and tricks for teaching emergent readers (1) - the measured mom on teach mama

3) We encourage them to grow as they move beyond emergent reading and into early reading.

  • Are you stuck? Try the first chunk of that word.
  • Look all the way through to the end of the word.
  • Sometimes if you’re stuck it helps to start back at the beginning of the sentence.
  • That sentence ends with an exclamation point. Show me how it sounds when you read that.

By reaching our emergent readers where they’re at and providing them with reading materials they love, we guide them on the path to a lifelong love of reading!

ANNA pic for blog!

Anna taught for eight years and received her MEd in Curriculum & Instruction before beginning her career as a stay-at-home mom. She loves to learn and grow with her daughter (age 6) and three little boys (5,3,1) – plus another blessing due in January! Anna shares free education resources for parents and teachers at The Measured Mom. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, Anna,  for sharing!

Looking for more activities for ringing in Halloween (and sneaking in a little learning) with your littles?

Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards:

give words as a gift: word conscious kids use wordle

give words as a gift

playing with words

It’s that time of year again, when the fliers start coming around collecting money for teacher gifts.  And collecting for teachers’ gifts–on top of other household expenses–can really put a strain on your budget.

Why not get a little digital with your kids this year and give words as a gift?

Words are celebrated with Wordle, and I love it.  Words are art with Wordle.

In the attempt to create word conscious, word-loving kiddos, celebrating words this way is a fun and cool way of sharing messages of thanks with people you care about.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Give Words as a Gift–Word Conscious Kids Use Wordle: I discovered Wordle about a year or two ago, and I’ve been  in love ever since.

Wordle is simply a free site that creates collages out of words.   “Word Clouds” is what they call what they create.

And you can enter single words manually or you can cut and paste a paragraph, or you can paste in a url.

I entered and I came up with the following wordle designs:

teachmama wordle 3

And I clicked ‘randomize’ and came up with the following design for the same url:

teachmama post wordle 2

The more times a word is entered, the larger it becomes.

I totally love it.

So for Mother’s Day this year, along with our Butterfly Pens and Limericks for Grandma and Nanny, the kids played with words.  And with the words, we created Wordle designs for their grandmas.

Really, the whole process is so simple. I asked Maddy, Owen, and Cora to brainstorm a list of ten words that came to mind when they thought of Nanny and then again for Grandma.

give words as gifts

Cora works on her list of words that come to mind when she thinks of her Nanny. . .

give words as gifts

. . . and though Nanny is not tall by any means, I guess she’s tall to Cora.

Though I think this is a great exercise when talking about parts of speech, my focus for this gift of words was not to creat a Wordle of just adjectives.

I really wanted it to be more like a word splash–any and every word that the kids thought of when they thought about their grandmas.

More like a burst of happiness coming from the kids.

give words as gifts

Maddy and Owen’s lists for their Nanny

The cool thing about this words as gifts exercise is that the kids came up with repeated words for their Nanny and Grandma, so those words appear larger on the final product.

Together, we decided on the layout we liked best, and then I clicked ‘print’.  Instead of printing, I saved the design as a pdf.

That way, I had more control over the size.  I wanted to add designs to 5 x 7 frames for the final gift; I think they turned out so cool.

give words as gifts

Design number one. . .

give words as gifts

. .  . and design number two. Both grandmas LOVED them!

Though we gave them as Mother’s Day gifts, I think Wordles are super-awesome for other things as well.


  • end-of-the-year teacher gifts–use student names or memories or adjectives to describe the teacher
  • gifts for camp counselors
  • gifts for campers–each person shares a favorite camp memory
  • party favors or shower gifts
  • bookmarks
  • positive message reminders
  • summer fun Wordles instead of summer fun cards
  • end-of-summer book lists of books read
  • family re-caps of reunions, vacations, or events

Love them.

family meeting highlights

We hadour digital kids a family meeting a few nights ago, and I made a Wordle with our highlights:

Printed it out as a pretty reminder of what we covered. . .

And that’s it.  Simple, pretty, personalized gifts for loved ones and another way to help our digital kids play with words.

Have any other ideas for Wordles? Share ’em! Dying to know!

5 min reading tricks for raising rockstar readers

5 min reading tricks for raising rockstar readers

5 minute reading tricks

It’s here.

My first eBook on reading and literacy and all that stuff I really, really love.

And I’m totally psyched.

5 min reading tricks for raising rockstar readers.

There you have it. That’s all you need, right?

Sure it is.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  •  5 Min Reading Tricks for Raising Rockstar Readers: 15 of ’em, my friends. Fifteen tricks that are in themselves filled with several other tricks.

So it comes out to a whole lot more than fifteen, but who’s counting?

Essentially, it’s a busy parent’s guide to all that you need to get on the road to raising a rockstar reader. And we all want our kids to be reading rockstars, right?

5 min tricks to raising rockstar readers

Here’s why:

Reading is my favorite thing.

But I totally get that it might not be yours.

So because I love it, and because I am continually amazed, in awe, and humbled by the process of reading acquisition—kids learning to read, working hard at reading, and becoming better readers—I want to help you.

I want to help you because I know I can—and I know you can. It’s easier than you think. And with just a few minutes a day, a few times a day, you, as a parent, can help your child become a strong reader—even if you don’t consider yourself one. It’s cool. I’m not great at math. At all. I need help. Still do. It takes a village, and I need a math guy (or gal) in mine.

The crazy thing is that even before children are able to read texts on their own, they can develop vocabulary, oral language, comprehension strategies, phonological awareness, and print awareness just by participating in a read-aloud with an adult.  It’s amazing how much power and potential exists in that small amount of time.

We got it. We know what to do, now let’s get moving!

5 min reading tricks clip

The 5 min reading tricks for raising rockstar readers eBook is a $10 download that includes 15 tricks covering:

  • comprehension strategies
  • reading readiness
  • fluency
  • what parents should say during read-alouds
  • books as gifts
  • the importance of series
  • and much more!

AND everyone who purchases the eBook is invited to join a special, private group on the we teach forum–just for sharing reading tips, asking questions, and getting more reading success tips!  You will be emailed an invitation upon purchase!

How cool is that? The reading love goes on and on. . .

5 min reading tricks For a cool-cat 10 spot, this gem could be yours, and I thank you. 

But more importantly, your little rockstars will thank you.



 $10. for 5 min reading tricks for raising rockstar readers:

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5 min tricks book walk cover 
There you have it.

I hope you like it–and let me know what you think about 5 min reading tricks for raising rockstar readers!

  • tweet me with your feedback
  • leave me a message on my Facebook wall with what you liked–or didn’t care for
  • let me know what else you need–and I’ll be sure to include it in the next one!


 $10. for 5 min reading tricks for raising rockstar readers:

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Many thanks, friends, and three cheers to our reading rockstars and you!–their parents– who are rockin’ it out with the reading thing!

texting as a learning tool: reading, spelling, composing

texting as a learning tool

texting as a learning toolMy kids think texting is so cool.

They think cell phones are cool.

They think cell phones are so cool that they still argue over who gets to have our old, battery-free cell phones that don’t even turn on anymore.

They think it’s cool to answer my cell phone if they notice their dad or aunt or nanny or pap are calling, and they think it’s cool to unlock the screen, answer, mute, put on hold, and hang it up.

So recently, I’ve been playing on it.  For learning’s sake, of course.  I’ve been using texting as a learning tool–for sneaky reading, spelling, and composing practice, and so far? They’re game.

Here’s the skinny:

  • Texting as a Learning Tool–Reading, Spelling, Composing: My kids are not unique in their adoration of the cell phone. Kids everywhere love them.

Since Maddy, Owen, and Cora do not have phones and do not have their own iPod Touch or anything similar to call their very own, the times I allow them to use my phone are pretty golden yet.  For years now, my kids have loved my phone for gaming, playing, buying time when needed.

But only recently have I really tried to steer them in a different direction–trying to teach them how to use the phone while texting in a safe and controlled way.

texting to learn -- owen

 Owen sends a message to his dad. . .

texting to learn =-close

 . . . asking if he’s heard their favorite song on the radio.

Simple, really, and a time-saver for me while I’m making lunches in the morning, straightening up, organizing, or preparing dinner.

But if we have a few minutes, I’ll ask something like:

  • Hey Owen, would you please text Daddy a quick ‘have a good day’ message? You decide what it should be.
  • Will someone please send Dad a message asking him if he is coming home right after work?
  • Will you please answer this text from Dad?  Tell him that I  . . .
  • Who wants to take a minute and send Daddy a quick ‘hello’ note before breakfast?
  • Who has a minute and wants to send an aunt a happy text?
  • Anyone up for a quick text to Aunt Jenny? Want to ask how Wyatt or Myles is doing?
  • Tell me a funny joke or something that made you smile today, and let’s text it to Aunt Mary. I think she needs a smile.


texting to learn -- cora

Cora’s in on the texting fun.

texting to learn -- cora close


Quick prompts that I try to not make completely, word-for-word specific so that the kids have to think about it and compose the message on their own.  It’s not easy to take someone’s general idea and make it into a comprehensive message; that’s a skill that takes practice.

And though I don’t have the kids text people every single day–maybe a few times a week–it’s something they want to do.  And it gets them reading, spelling, and composing in a cool and creative way, so I’m going with it while I can.

I ask that they sign off their text with their name so that the recipient knows what’s going on, and that’s it. I always check before they hit ‘send’, and they always ask for permission before they open up my messages.  Those are the rules.  And those rules are relatively easy to keep up with, when one kid is using the phone at a time.

digital kids button

 And right now there’s no LOL, C U LTR, HTH, ROTFL, or XYZPDQ (I had to throw that in there because I can’t think of any ‘cool’ text lingo right now).  If they’re sending texts from my phone, they’re using the correct words. There’s more than enough time for texting lingo in the years ahead, I’m sure.

So that’s it.

Quick, easy, texting as a sneaky learning tool for reading, spelling, and composing. Buying time sending messages to family members, short ‘hello’ or silly, brighten-your-day messages, 2.0.

One more teeny, tiny baby step in the raising of our digital kids.

Do your kids text? How? How often? Under what parameters? Do tell–I’m learning as I go!

Next up: Learning, practicing, using, and loving Power Point for our International Night display

our digital kids: teaching, supporting, and parenting 21st century learners

our digital kids

our digital kids It’s no secret that we’re raising children in a totally different world than the one we knew as kids.

Gone are the days of letting kids run as free birds ‘round the hood, playing with this friend and that, instructing them only to come home once the streetlights turned on.

Gone are the days of kids throwing a quarter in the payphone somewhere—anywhere–to call for a ride home from the mall.

Gone are the days of sending kids across the street to play at the park for a few hours while parents worked or cleaned or cared for siblings.

Though many parents may scoff at the idea of letting a child run free at in the neighborhood, many are allowing their kids to do just that—in the wilds of social media.  But because their kids are home, safe and sound under their own roof, maybe even tucked into their little beds, cozy and calm, this type of free play is often viewed quite differently.

Believe me—I’m not judging. I’m waaaay beyond judging other parents and firmly believe that we’re all just doing the very best we can, where we are, with what we have.

It makes me nervous, so I’m changing my parenting focus in order to better meet the needs of my three digital kids.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Our Digital Kids–Teaching, Supporting, and Parenting 21st Century Learners: Just last week I read a piece in the Washington Post– Helping your kids navigate the stormy seas of social media, by Mari-Jane Williams– and it confirmed for me that I should share what we’re doing over here.

Social networking today is really just a natural part of the way kids and teens are growing up, according Caroline Knorr, parenting editor of Common Sense Media.

owen computer


But I’m in the thick of it—social media that is—and I have a pretty firm understanding of how many of the tools are used, both as creative outlets and as tools for promotion and campaign-creation.  And I feel like I want to introduce my kids to these tools because I can–and because I’ve taught them so many things already.

So in this series, I’m going to share how I’m slowly introducing my kids to cool tools of social media.  Maybe not signing them up for it—but showing them what’s out there so that when their friends talk a big game, my kids have a clue.

And along the way, I’ll share how I’m teaching my kids to use the devices we have and the fabulous apps and programs on ‘em.


computer time

Honestly? I’m not ready to invite Maddy, Owen, and Cora to join in any serious social networking because I don’t feel up to it. 


It takes time. And effort. And a lot, a lot, a lot of energy.

But when I do, I’ll share it here. And hopefully that ‘learning in the every day’ will be just what other parents need to move more confidently into this next chapter with their kids–not behind them, but alongside them.  Or very slightly ahead of them. 

And? My kids don’t even meet minimum age requirements according to the Terms of Service for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.  It’s 13–at least for Instagram and Facebook.

And I really feel like if I want my kids to follow rules when it comes to social media, then I have to as well.

So I’ll start by sharing how my digital kids have come to know some social media and technology basics:

  • digital kids buttonTexting
  • Facebook
  • blogs
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Power Point
  • Pixie
  • Microsoft Word

And I’ll share my point of view as an educator, parent, and social media savvy blogger and writer.  And I’ll take any ideas, support, or advice from my readers as I go. 

Anything specific YOU want to learn?  Let me know.

Hope you’ll join me for the ride.

Next up: Texting as a Learning Tool – Texting without really texting

st. patrick’s day fun fact lunchbox notes: and non-fiction reading

st. patricks day fun fact lunchbox notes

fun fact lunchbox love notesIt’s almost St. Patrick’s Day– a holiday that my family loves to ring in with rainbows, scavenger hunts, and lots of silly little- leprechaun fun.

But we also love to ring it in with a new batch of lunchbox love notes.

This time, the St. Patrick’s Day Lunchbox Love Notes were made with the help of my tiniest one: Cora.

She brought home a great little St. Patrick’s Day book from her media center last week, and it was perfect for us to use as the foundation for our newest lunchbox love notes: St. Patrick’s Day Fun Fact Love Notes.  Simple, interesting facts about this holiday, many written with the help of Cora.

Talk about some worthwhile non-fiction reading practice with some summarizing practice on the side!

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • St. Patrick’s Day Fun Fact Lunchbox Notes: Really, these started out with Cora bringing home St. Patrick’s Day, by Mari Schuh.

While Maddy was at gymnastics one afternoon, we read it together, and after every few pages, we stopped to talk about what she read.  We made personal connections–talking about what we like best about St. Patrick’s Day–and we made text-to-text connections, talking about how this book about St. Patrick’s Day was similar to the other books about St. Patrick’s Day we had at home.

st. patricks day fun fact lunchbox notes

This kind of casual connection-making is a great way of bringing non-fiction texts (or any text for that matter!) ‘home’ for kids.

Cora helped me pick out the best pieces from the book that she thought would make great lunchbox love notes–and I know that when she opens up  her lunch to read them, she’ll feel especially cool that she helped to ‘write’ them.

Check out a quick piece about why I love these lunchbox love notes–and lunchbox love notes in general:

st. patricks day fun fact lunchbox notes


st. patricks day fun fact lunchbox notes

Fun Fact Lunchbox Love Notes: some are easier for younger readers than others.

Here are the St. Patrick’s Day Fun Fact Lunchox Love Notes for you to download for your little loves’ lunches:

St. Patrick’s Day Fun Fact Lunchbox Notes: st. patrick’s day fun fact lunchbox notes

And that’s it–just a fun little lunchbox love to ring in this favorite holiday of ours! If we can sneak in a wee bit o’ learning along the way, why wouldn’t we?

Have a fact I should have added? Let me know!

Check out these other great St. Patrick’s Day books to add a wee bit o’ reading for your lads and lassies:


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