summer learning eBook: 30+ free, fun learning ideas for summer

we teach summer ebook

We’re thrilled to share that our third annual summertime learning eBook has hit the presses today! we teach summer ebook

The fab parents and teachers of the we teach forum have submitted tons of rockstar ideas for keeping summer filled with creative, unique, and crazy-cool fun from start to finish.

We’re sharing these ideas in an eBook, free to all members of the forum–and anyone can join! The goal of the forum is really to share the tools and resources we all need so that we can learn, share, and grow as parents–and teachers–for our children.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Summer Learning eBook–30+ Free, Fun Learning Ideas for Summer:  That’s right. Free. Fun. Ideas for all summer long.

The eBook features:

  • Over 30 ideas for summer learning from talented we teach members
  • Craft ideas
  • Cooking ideas
  • Literacy ideas
  • Math ideas
  • Science ideas
  • Focused play ideas
  • Indoor and outdoor options
  • Considerations for taking learning a step further

we teach summer ebook chapters

From easy, cool crafts for rainy days, to dried flower stamping or hunting through local parks and playgrounds, from creating an A to Z summer to playing sudoku on your driveway, the ideas in this book are fabulous.  Pretzel-making, learning letters and numbers, practicing computation, and developing fine motor and gross motor skills, the book has you covered all summer long.

Your kids–and you–will have a blast.  We guarantee it.

we teach summer ebook

 

The great news? The eBook is totally and completely free for all members of we teach, and anyone can join the forum.

Though it is a public forum, membership is approved and some resources–like our rockstar eBooks–are reserved for members only.

 

weteachgroup.com

we teach summer ebook dividers

Many thanks to the following we teach members who are contributors of this year’s eBook:

We will be pinning ideas and recognizing our awesome eBook sponsors on our we teach pinterest boards, so stay tuned.

Not only will the eBook contributors’ ideas be pinned, but we’ll also pin every single other submission–so it’ll be sure to be packed with cool ideas.

 

Join us for a twitter event on June 11, 2013 to kick off the publication of the eBook and to chat about summer learning. Here are the details: summer learning twitter event.

This will be sure to be an unforgettable summer, filled with fun learning for families!

learn through play eBook bundle: spring & summer fun learning

learn through play spring ebook bundle cover

learn though play ebooks*Though the Learn Through Play eBook Bundle special is over, you may still purchase these eBooks at any time!   Just click through to the ones you are most interested in, and purchase from that book’s main site!*

I’m thrilled beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of a rockstar mix of bloggers who have worked out a fabulous deal for their readers: a spring eBook bundle.

An it’s a crazy-awesome deal, for a short, short time.

Brought to you by Melitsa of Raising Playful Tots and Cathy of NurtureStore, along with some of my fave bloggers and authors, the Spring Learning Through Play special offer is now open – but for April 8th to April 14th only.

We have put together a package worth over $130 – but available to you at a very special price – of e-books and resources, all based around Learning Through Play.

This Spring Special Offer includes books, resources and an on-line course, and covers sensory play, outdoor play, art and crafts, positive parenting, learning to read and write, math and lots more. There’s so much in the bundle it will give you ideas to use with your children all spring and summer long.

You’ll recognize the authors as the writers of some of your favorite blogs – check out the full details below to see who’s joining in.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Learn Through Play Spring eBook Bundle:  This special bundle of books is available for you to buy only between April 8th and April 14th. So buy it now or you’ll miss the deal!

spring book bundle

 

I’ve read the books (and written one of them!) and I’m so happy to recommend this offer to you. These gals really know their stuff and the books and resources are packed full of fantastic creative and practical ideas that you can use with your children. There are sixteen different authors joining in, bringing you over $130 worth of resources. And, guess what – you can buy the lot for just $9.99!

Want a sneak peek of what’s included? Sure you do!

The Garden Classroom brings you fifty-two creative and playful outdoor activities, giving you a whole year’s worth of garden-based projects to enjoy with your children. Value $9.99

ScienceArts inspires children to explore the world of science through art with open-ended experiments. 141 pages of art experiments amaze & delight children as they discover the magic of crystals, light, constellations, plants and more. All scientific reactions and concepts explained. Value $9.99

spring book bundle

The Playful Family encourages and challenges busy parents to slow down and spend quality time together with their children, regardless of their age. With nearly 100 ways to connect, engage and play together this easy-to-read e-book is a must-have resource for any parent interested in becoming more playful and happy while raising children. Value $4.99

Connecting Family through Creative Play is a 30 day e-Workshop designed for families who wish to connect with their children on a daily basis through simple, creative play. These ideas are perfect for parents looking to find a balance between the everyday responsibilities and connecting with your child in meaningful ways that fit into your family’s daily rhythm. You will receive daily messages from us in your inbox with inspirations to play, ideas for connection, and resources to help spark your imagination, including access to a private Facebook community. {Please note this course is running April 29th 2013 to May 28th 2013 only and you must register on the course before May 15th 2013} Value $25

Alphabet Glue is a downloadable e-magazine for families who love books, and aims to help more families to incorporate creativity, imagination and all things literary into their everyday routines. Each issue contains leveled book recommendations organized by theme, bookmaking tutorials, story-building activities, and hands-on projects that complement favorite titles in children’s literature or teach basic elements of science. Value $11

spring book bundle

The Alphabet Summer Learning Pack is a collection of flexible summer learning ideas organized around an “A to Z” theme. Use these resources to prevent the dreaded “summer slide” and build fun learning routines into your summer plans. Ideas are simple and flexible, so families can pick and choose the activities that work for their particular child and schedule. They provide opportunities to practice key literacy and math skills, and they leave plenty of time for lemonade stands and sand castles. Value $7

Backyard FUN brings you 13 Art Lessons and Craftivities to create your own Backyard Fun Camp at home or in your classroom with step-by-step instructions, supply lists, and full color photos. The supplies for these fun and easy projects will come from your own art and craft stash, garage, hardware store, and recycling bin! Value $10

Alphabet Crafts lets you create the alphabet from A-Z with fun crafts that promote more than just letter recognition. Kids will love making their own alphabet and forget that they are learning in the process. With 5 exclusive crafts never published on No Time For Flash Cards. Value $8

The Alphabet Mega Pack includes 12 hands-on games that teach children to recognize the names and sounds of letters – skills that are important for learning how to read. Each activity includes easy to follow parent instructions and helpful photos. The games are addictively fun for kids AND their families! Value $6

  • Raising a Creative Kid: Simple Strategies for Igniting and Nurturing that Creative Spark by Jillian Riley of A Mom with a Lesson Plan

Raising a Creative Kid will help you raise a creative thinker by simply setting up a creative environment, using intentional language, and nurturing mistakes. This easy read is full tips and tricks that will help you transform your environment into a creativity growth center. Value $7.99

5 min reading tricks for raising rockstar readers button

  • 5 minute reading tricks for raising rockstar readers by Amy Mascott of teach mama

Fifteen 5-minute reading tricks that cover everything from teaching names to what parents should say during read-alouds, from learning sight words to reading fluently. It’s about rolling out the red carpet for our rockstar readers. Now. Whomever you are, wherever you are, no matter how busy you are. Value $10

  • Parenting with Positive Guidance: Building Discipline from the Inside Out by Amanda Morgan of Not Just Cute

Parenting with Positive Guidance gives you the tools for understanding your child’s behavior and effectively teaching and guiding your child toward increased self-control while fostering a healthy parent-child relationship. 100+ pages of information you can start using today! Value $9

Treasure Basket Play lets you learn step by step how to make your own natural sensory baby play activity with a Treasure Basket. Includes case studies and interview with a sensory play expert on using Treasure Baskets. Value $8.95

spring book bundle

Issue 2 of Play Grow Learn is packed full of playful fun with 55 pages and over 100 activity ideas. Includes ideas for creating family stories with internationally acclaimed author Hazel Edwards, an exclusive full colour, printable sea themed bingo game, 12 pages of active and outdoor play ideas, recipes, art, literacy, creativity, construction, imaginative play, books and more! Value $4

Spring Literacy and Math Activities and Games includes 15 fun learning center ideas. Skills worked on include, addition to 8, patterns, counting to 20, measurement, number sequencing, abc order, writing 3 letter words, rhyming, syllables, compound words and more. Value $8

 

How to buy and download the bundle

You can buy the bundle on any device, including computer, Apple, Android and portable devices. You’ll get an instant download of the books and resources so you can start enjoying them straight away. The book will be sent to the e-mail address associated with your paypal account. The delivery system gives you 9 attempts at download within 120 hours, so you can buy now and do the download a little later if you prefer.

spring book bundle

 

A note about mobile devices

Depending on the apps you have installed and your operating system you might be able to go ahead and download each book on your mobile device but if you have any doubts or problems, we recommend you use a computer to download the books and then share them to your mobile devices.

 

Happy spring (and summer) learning, and please let me know what you think!  Many, many thanks!

teachmama’s holiday gift guide for kids and family 2012

teachmama holiday kids gift guide 2012

teachmama's kids' gift guide 2012I’m not a big gift-guide gal, and I’ve only ever created my first holiday gift guide for kids and families back in 2010.  And two years seems like forever ago.

Though our recommendations in our first gift guide still rank as our faves from then, when Maddy, Owen, and Cora were 6, 5, and 3, I figured it was time to update the list.

So here’s the official teachmama Holiday (or any day) Kids’ Gift Guide for 2012: Maddy is 8, Owen is 7, and Cora is 5 years old.

It’s full of items we love and have used in the past few years as well as items that are on our list for this season.

Without further ado, here’s the skinny. . .

  • teachmama’s Holiday Gift Guide for Kids and Family 2012: these are just some of our faves and some ideas for more creative and thoughtful gifts this holiday season.

Games: I’ve said it time and time again, we’re a game-playin’ family. So it doesn’t matter if it’s cards or dice or a board, we’ll play it if it’s here.

teachmama holiday kids gift guide 2012

Love: Zingo, Scallywags, and BINGO!

  • Rush Hour & Rush Hour, Jr: These are our g0-to games for birthdays for the 5-8 year old sets. Though we do not have regular Rush Hour at this point, it’s on our wish list from Santa, and we just lent our Rush Hour, Jr. set to a gal who couldn’t get enough of it at a playdate this weekend.  We’ve shared our Rush Hour love before. . . (from Thinkfun)
  • Rory’s Story Cubes: The Regular Rory’s Story Cubes & Rory’s Story Cubes Action: Tiny little dice with pictures of things or actions that you can take absolutely anywhere. A perfect stocking stuffer, most often I have a set in my purse for long waits at the doctor’s office or restaurant.  Love, love, love that these dice can be used as story starters for writing, storytelling, or creative thinking of any kind.  Add it to stockings along with another little fave, Iota. (from Gamewright)
  • Shape-ometry:  It’s like our old-school Tetris in real life. My husband came home from school one day, singing the praises of this game, and once we tried it, we all loved it.  Critical thinking, geometry, and planning all wrapped up in one pretty package. (from ThinkFun)
  • Scallywags: Aaaarrrgh! This pirate-focused game is perfect for any little pirate-fan but it’s also   (from Gamewright)
  • Scrambled States of America: Seriously a ton of fun, this game gets kids talking, thinking, and playing with our happy united states. Kids should be independent readers, but even with support, it’s a great family game.  It’s both a book by Laurie Keller and a game from Gamewright.
  • Bingo: We. Love. Bingo. We usually ring in the New Year with a mad bingo tourney, and this year will be no different. Love that the game includes anyone and everyone, love that the game helps kids learn numbers, and love that you can up the challenge factor by adding more boards to the mix.   Also love that we finally found number 64 who was lost for months and months.

 

Crafts & Puzzles: Some are new-to-us and some are oldies but goodies. But for us, crafts of any sort are super holiday gifts–and new packs of markers, crayons, and paints–are perfect stocking stuffers!

teachmama holiday kids gift guide 2012

Love: Peel & Press Mosaics, Stencils, & Wikki Stix

  • Stencils: Yes, the basics. But stencils are great for kids of all ages. Cora, at 5 years, particularly loves them right about now.
  • Wikki Stix: Those waxy, skinny straws are a fun gift or stocking stuffer, and Maddy, Owen, and Cora still love theirs.
  • Puzzles: We’re really into bigger jigsaws and floor puzzles lately, and with inspiration from the kids’ great-grandmother, Nana, we’ve kept a folding table up in our living room with a 1,000 piece jigsaw on it–so any time we want, we can hunker down and work on it.  We also love the big USA floor puzzle & Safari floor puzzle from Melissa & Doug,

 

Toys: We’re big toy fans over here–we have dolls, cars, and train sets, you name it.  Many, many are hand-me-downs, garage sale finds, or were gifts.  Here are some of our faves:

teachmama holiday gift guide 2012

Our toy faves? foosball, legos, and the Wii Building set

  • Hexbug Nano: These little robot bugs are still Owen’s faves. And this year, he’s asked for ‘a few more Hexbugs and a racetrack for them so [he] can race them with his friends.  I found the Hexbug Nano Racetrack Habitat which I think he will loooooove.  My advice, if you go the Hexbug route, is to order a pack of batteries right along with it because they go quickly.
  • Easy Bake Oven:It’s on Maddy’s list this birthday or holiday, since she’s into baking and cooking.  I haven’t heard much about it but do look forward to checking it out. (And maybe the mini-sizes of baked goods will be great for this sweet-toothed family in the New Year!)

    teachmama holiday kids gift guide 2012

love: Highlights, Sticker by Number, & PUZZLES!

  • Foosball Table & Ping Pong Table:  We totally scored big by seriously stalking some re-sale sites and garage sales in our community this past summer, but still our Foosball & Ping Pong table see a ton of regular action.  I like how they get the kids moving even in the wintertime.
  • Caboodles Organizer: I’m thinking about something like the Caboodles Tackle Box and Organizer for our little Cora who is a collector and organizer of all things tiny, shiny, and beautiful.  Something like this may help to keep her room organized a wee bit.
  • Personalized Shirts and Items: My littlest one lacks the name-personalization that Owen and Maddy have because her name is just a bit more on the unique side. So all she has asked for is to have her name on a mug (not written, but actually ‘stuck’ there), her name on a necklace, and her name on a shirt. I’m thinking I’ll go with Shootie Girl for Cora’s personalized tee, since my girl likes some bling, and I’m up in the air for the cup and necklace.
  • Dress-Ups & Costumes: Many costumes from Halloweens of past, along with new dress-ups from great companies like Melissa & Doug–or even cool thrift shop finds–make an awesome holiday gift for kids.  Even scarves, shoes, hats, bags, and belts can be added to a big plastic or wooden bin, and kids will play for-EVAH.

Electronics: As the kids get older, we’re doing more electronics–so we really choose carefully what we bring into the house. Otherwise, they’d be plugged in 24/7.  Here are a few of the devices we believe are really worth our kids’ time:

teachmama holiday gift guide 2012

Our electronics faves Wii, Leapster GS, & Vinci

  • Geomate, Jr, Geocaching GPS: I’ve had my eye on a Geomate, Jr for the kids if I can find a good price on one, especially since now we’re (woot!) 3 for 7 on our geocache finds! (Not sure what I’m talking about? You must read about geocaching. . . ).  UPDATE: Just went to buy the Geomate, Jr, and the reviews are not so great. So we’re leaning more towards the reliable Garmin Worldwide Handheld Navigator.
  • Leapster GS: Long, long, lontime fans of LeapFrog, we do love the Leapster GS and for several reasons. We love that all of our Explorer and LeapPad games work with the GS; we love that everything has an educational focus; and we lovelovelove that it’s completely safe, ad-free, and age-appropriate for our kids.  Add to that the sleek design, the built-in camera and video recorder, and it’s a seriously awesome device. (from Leapfrog)
  •  Walkie Talkies: This year, we think our kids are ready for them, so we’ve found a set–that includes three handsets–which we believe our kids will really love.
  • VINCI Touchscreen Tablet: This is really new for us, but at this point, Cora really digs it–and I do too for the focused learning potential.  The VINCI is a touchscreen learning tablet with specially designed learning curriculum for little guys–and I mean little ones. The research-based, highly organized curriculum hits on six different levels and three different stages. Cool. (from VINCI)

 

Alternative Gift Ideas: Tired of toys? Want to add a little more depth to your holiday this year? We do too.  And it doesn’t even have to be holiday time to make that decision; one of Maddy’s girlfriends asked that in lieu of 9th birthday gifts, everyone make a donation to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.  We thought it was a fabulous idea.  Here are some other ways to give a little bit bigger this year:

 teachmama holiday kids gift guide 2012

love: giving big, thinking big, thanking big

  • #blog4cause: Join us. Check out the many ideas and suggestions we give to parents and families for how they can give back this holiday season.  Join #blog4cause and perhaps it will be okay once you adopt a child from another country, raise money for hurricane victims, or help a local family by providing gifts and food.
  • Shot@Life: Check out their Gift Shop after Thanksgiving, or spend as little as $20 and actually see where the money is going.
  • Maiden Nation: An organization I am new to hearing about, but one I’m looking forward to supporting. Consider the Kiss Kiss Bracelet designed by Chan Luu and made with paper beads by Haitian artisans.  Your purchases will make a difference.

 

Just a starting point–just a few ideas–but hopefully this will give you an idea of some great products out there and some of our family’s personal faves.  I’m sure I’ll be adding to it in the next few days and weeks; I feel like there’s a ton I’m forgetting. . . . like magazine subscriptions!! Don’t forget to consider giving great reads for kids that come regularly–like Highlights or High Five!

. . . . But for now, happy holiday shopping for kids and families!

 Please, please please let me know what you think–are some of these YOUR faves? What did I miss? Let me know!

 

fyi: Affiliate links are included in this post.  We did receive some of these products from companies, but the large majority were purchased by our family on our own dime.  As always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my experiences as a parent and educator.

national book festival 2012: why families need to go

#givewithtarget event cover

national book fest -- bring your familyMy favorite event of the year–the National Book Festival & Gala-was just a few weeks ago, and so many of my pals have asked why I love this event so much.

So here it is.

Short and sweet.

Here’s why every family should consider dropping the ball on soccer and football and ballet and raking the leaves and closing the pool and everything else on a fall weekend in September to take their kids down to the festival.

Yes, it’s passed already, but if you bookmark this post, pin it, digg it, or stumble it, you’ll have it saved for next year.  And you’ll have time to do a little pre-fest prep.

And if you’re not near the Nation’s Capital and can’t spend a Saturday on the Mall in Washington, DC, then I still have some awesome at-home book festival resources for you.

But if you’re close enough to go, go.

Believe me.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  •  National Book Festival — Why Families Need to Go: Book festivals anywhere, any time, are a super way of celebrating literacy and reading, but this festival–the biggie on the Mall in Washington, DC–is especially awesome for so many reasons.

Families can celebrate literacy! There are books. All. Over. The. Place.

There’s a huge book tent where you can buy any of the featured authors’ books.  There’s a Digital Bookmobile where you can learn about how to borrow books–digitally!–NO, really!! There’s the Library of Congress Pavilion full of the awesomeness of one of the coolest buildings in DC (seriously, the Library of Congress is my favorite building in the area).

Can’t get here?  Check out the cool stuff from Library of Congress Pavilion so you can see it all up close at home, and definitely visit the National Book Festival Home Page to get all of the information you need.

national book fest extras

Families can hobnob with awesome writers and illustrators.  Seriously. With a little bit of planning–not much!--families can do some serious hob-nobbing with their favorite author and illustrator superstars.

Book signings happen all day. All day.   Authors from all genres–history, biography, fiction, mystery, teens, children, poetry–you name it, they’re there, and they’re signing.

This year, Maddy, Owen, and Cora really wanted to meet Marc Brown (author of Arthur series! Eeeeee!) and Mary Pope Osborne (the author of The Magic Treehouse series! Yaaaay!).  Though we couldn’t make it all happen, Owen and my husband stood in line to meet Marc Brown, and they met him!

Marc Brown very graciously signed some books we brought from home–our favorite Arthur books–and he even asked Owen, “Are you the very famous Owen?” which made my sweet boy smile and skip around all day long.

With some help from Target, the girls and I had the chance to meet some of our absolute favorite authors: Jane O’Connor and Jill Abramson, Kathleen Ernst, and Dominique Moceanu.  Oh. My. Gosh.  It was a dream come true.

 Can’t get here?  Check out the National Book Festival Podcasts so you can hobnob with these guys and gals on your own time.

national book fest authors

Children get to see and hear their favorite authors in real life: All day long, authors are chatting, reading, talking, answering questions, and interacting with readers. It’s incredible.

Tons of tents are set up for each genre, and every 30-60 minutes, a new author takes the stage.

Children have three spots just for them: Teens & Children, Children, and Target’s Storytelling Stage, PBS Kids’ Pavilion, and more.

We caught Marc Brown and Judy Sierra at the Storytelling Stage, and we loved to hear them talk about their new book, “Wild About You” and actually watch Marc Brown draw a baby!

I had a chance to see my favorite–absolute favorite–author, Sandra Cisneros speak, and I only wished that all of those high schoolers I taught who really connected with her House on Mango Street could have been there, too.

Can’t get here?  Check out the videos from the National Book Festival 2012 so you can see and hear these guys and gals on your own time.

national book fest authors

Children get to find new favorite authors in real life: We had never had the opportunity to know Judy Sierra before this year’s festival.

We had never read Kathleen Ernst before, and this year the girls were over the moon to meet her and hear her speak. It was a huge treat for us to buy Kathleen’s new book, Caroline Takes a Chance (the new American Girl book!) and have it signed.

Though we are longtime fans of Jane O’Connor, this year we had a chance to meet her sister, the amazing and insanely talented Jill Abramson (only the New York Times’ first female executive editor, thankyouverymuch).  We might not have ever connected these two talented sisters, had we not attended the festival and heard them speak about the book they’ve co-written, Ready or Not, Here Comes Scout!

Can’t get here?  Check out the videos from the National Book Festival 2012 so you can see and hear these guys and gals on your own time.

national book fest fun

Kids have a chance to see how cool reading can be:  Maddy, Owen, Cora, and their two little buddies who we took with us to the festival could have stayed in the Target Storytelling Tent all day long.

They plopped down on comfy pillows, they grabbed a book, and they sat and read.  And then they’d play some word games on the white boards, pick up another book, listen to an author, and head on back to do it all again.

They also totally loved PBS Pavilion, where they played some games, put on a little puppet show, did some coloring, listened to a few authors, and then did it all again.

The Wells Fargo and Scholastic tents were full of fun as well, with stickers, games, activities, and more.  And that’s only the tip of the iceberg; fun little spots like these are everywhere–or just a blanket under a tree on the grassy mall works, too.

Can’t get here?  Check out the fabulous Kid and Teacher Resources where you can try the poster I-Spy, create your own bookmark or download the Book Festival one, challenge yourself to finish the 52-Great Reads, or learn how to host your own book festival!

——————————————————

 Check out some photos from the National Book Festival Gala, 2012:

 
And check out some photos from the National Book Festival Event, 2012:


It was a blast–and I totally encourage all local families to attend–it’s a super fall tradition for every family to begin, no matter the age of your children!

fyi: Huge and happy thanks to my friends from PBS Kids for extending an invitation to me for the National Book Festival Gala, and huge thanks to my friends from Target for arranging some behind-the-scenes meetings with authors at the Book Festival on Saturday.  I received no compensation for this post, but I am a member of the PBS VIP Blogger program and Target’s Inner Circle Program.

halloween learning ideas — silly and scary literacy, math, and science

halloween learning

halloween learning

Halloween is in the air, and though we’ve just gotten around to decorating our house, we never do a lot of scary Halloween over here.

We always stick to the silly or tricky.

But, like any holiday, I truly believe that there are opportunities for sneaking in a little bit o’ learning during this candy-filled holiday.

A whole lot of fun—don’t get me wrong—but also a whole lot of fun learning as well.

Here’s the skinny on a few Halloween learning ideas—both silly and scary–literacy, math, and science learning for kids at a time when the world is black and gold, black and gold, nothing in between. . . when the world is black and gold, then it’s Halloween!

Really, it’s scary how much fun you can have with your kids around holiday time.  We like to start with Halloween.

Halloween Literacy Learning:

  • Halloween GHOST Bingo: Cute—not spooky—Halloween friends cover the boards and kids can practice learning the letters of “GHOST” while they use their eyes to match up the Halloween friends on cards to the ones on their boards.
  • Halloween Word Search: Perfect for emerging readers, word searches provide a super platform for really looking for letters. Add some Halloween words, and kids love playing detective!

hallowen book collage

Some of our favorite Halloween books:

  • Room on the Broom, by Julia Donaldson — the witch’s hat blows away, and while trying to find it, the witch picks up more and more friends, all who want to ride on her broom. We love the language in this book, and it’s super-silly.
  • Too Many Pumpkins, by Linda Arms White and illustrated by Megan Lloyd — a sweet story about lonely and cranky Rebecca Estelle who loathes pumpkins only to have her yard taken over by pumpkins one season. In an attempt to rid herself of these pesky gourds, she bakes tons of pumpkin goodies and draws her entire town to her house for a pumpkin party.  Read it to chat about inferring like we did; read it and love the illustrations, characters, and story
  • Arthur’s Halloween, by Marc Brown — as a mom I love the lesson in this book, no never judge a book by its cover, but with a fun Halloween theme, Arthur and D.W. don’t let us down!
  • Zen Ghosts, by Jon J. Muth — the children in this story learn from their panda friend Stillwater on Halloween–and who doesn’t need a little zen on a spooky holiday?

hallowen learning

Halloween Math Learning:

  • halloween party estimate game 2013: a perfect quick game to help kids practice number sense and estimating, it’s as easy as can be to get kids psyched about counting and numbers when candy corn or spiders are involved!
  • Leafy Grid Games: same kind of literacy and math prep but with Leafy Grid boards.
  • Blank Grid Games: use Halloween stickers or stamps as markers to continue the spooky fun.

Halloween Science Learning:

  • Candy Experiments: Use that leftover Halloween candy for some super-fun science experimenting!
  • Halloween Treat-Making: Cooking is science for kids, so get them in the kitchen and have them help you make these super cute witches’ fingers, eyeballs, boogers on a stick, and frozen ghosts.
  • Dinner in a Pumpkin:  A perfect opportunity to show kids how crazy cool food can be, a fun Halloween tradition is dinner in a pumpkin!

That’s it! Just a few fun literacy, math, and science related Halloween learning opportunities for families and kids!

And if you need some Halloween class party help, some not-so-scary Halloween tricks, or our new-and totally cool Halloween scarf. check it out, or feel free to leave links with your own fave Halloween sites.

Have something awesome I should add to the ole Halloween Pinterest Board? I’d LOVE to! Leave me the link!

Happy, happy, happy Halloween!

geocaching: what it is & why we’re hooked

geocaching: what it is and why we're hooked

geocaching: what it is and why we're hookedRight now, we’re 2 for 6.

That’s right–2/6. 2:6?

And today we totally thought we had one, but we didn’t.

We’ll masters by wintertime, after a fall of not worrying about poison ivy or scratched legs or sunburn.

We’ll move from ‘navigating to geocache’ to using the map or compass (on the phone, of course), and maybe the kids will even have their own Geomate.jr.

We’ll know every attribute symbol by heart.

Decrypting hints will become second-nature.  ROT13, anyone?

We’ll look for–and log–trackables or travel bugs and never alert the muggles.

Every logbook will have our initials, and we’ll know exactly how to read d/t (levels of difficulty and terrain, hello) like the back of our hand.

I’m talking ‘geocaching’ here if you haven’t already guessed, and after becoming geocachers this July, we’re hooked.  Seriously hooked.

Well, most of us are.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Geocaching–What it is & Why We’re Hooked:  So ‘geocaching’. What on earth is it, anyway?

Geocaching is a free real-world outdoor treasure hunt. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using a smartphone or GPS and can then share their experiences online (straight from the Geocaching site, yo!).

what is geocaching?

Boys’ Life Series: Let’s Go Geocaching by John Mckinney got us interested in geocaching. . .

what is geocaching

but the search is what got us hooked!

What does ‘geocaching’ mean?

‘Geo’ refers to ‘geography’ and a ‘cache’ is a container (strange, I know, but pronounced ‘cash’), so ‘geocaching’ is simply the act of hiding–or seeking–a little container using geographical coordinates.  Or you can look at it as ‘geo’ meaning ‘earth’ and interpret ‘geocaching’ as finding a small container somewhere outdoors.  Either way works.

Before we got started, we did a little reading.

We found Boys’ Life Series: Let’s Go Geocaching by John Mckinney at the library.  We read it cover to cover and renewed it three times. No joke.  I found it extremely easy to understand and at a perfect level of difficulty for Maddy and Owen to read independently.

geocaching prep

We poked around on the geocaching site.

geocaching prep

We decoded a hint or two.  We were ready!

So what did we do next? How’d we go from reading about geocaching to becoming geocachers?

  • We visited the website: geocaching.com. And we played around, watching the video, reading about the caches close to us, and registering on the site. It’s all free unless you want to upgrade to a premium membership, which (shhhhh!) we did after our first find.
  •  Then we downloaded the app: geocaching for smartphones.  (But you do not necessarily need a smartphone to geocache!! You do need to have a GPS device or a GPS-enabled phone to navigate to the cache, though.)
  • We found the cache closest to where we wanted to begin, we read the logs, decoded the hint, and we clicked ‘navigate to cache’.
  •  Finally, we jumped in the car and headed out for our first cache!

what is geocaching

Maddy navigates to our first geocache. . .

what is geocaching

. . . and we tried and tried. . .

what is geocaching

. . . and tried some more. . .

geocaching pool - spoiler

And we FOUND IT!!

what is geocaching

This one was a micro, so no treasures–just a teeny, tiny log that we signed.

And then we danced around.

It. Was. Awesome.

We were instantly hooked.

Geocaching is like a treasure hunt outdoors. It’s a secret club that makes us look at our surroundings a little differently.

For some reason, it makes this great, big world seem a little . . .  smaller.  Like the whole world’s really a big playground.

geocaching park

Near one of our most favorite parks. . .

geocaching park

. . . we geocached up to 7 meters away from the cache but just couldn’t find it!

Every time we get in the car now, Owen asks, Can I see your phone? I want to find a closeby geocache.

So he pokes around, reads a few logs, and gets us on track to find one–when we’re running errands, when we’re at the park, when we’re on our way home, when we just need a fun diversion.

Geocaches. Are. Everywhere.

And like I said, we’re 2 for 6. We’ve found two. We tried for six.

Our record’s not great.  But we’re still hooked, and that should tell you something.

geocaching butterfly

Owen unrolls our second find–

geocaching butterfly

which was hidden near our bank, grocery, gas station–right in the center of town!

We’re lucky with micros (super, small, teeny-tiny geocaches) but not so lucky with the bigger ones.   But since most of the bigger ones are in the woods–or a little deeper out of sight, we’re going for those this fall.

I’m sure I’m missing some big geocaching pieces here, but for the recreational geocacher–especially for the family with young children–we’re enjoying it. 

And this mama believes geocaching is the ultimate sneaky-fun learning:

  • we’re looking at distances as we navigate to caches and giving the kids a sense of how far x-amount of feet or meters is from us;
  • we’re figuring out our position in relation to the cache;
  • we’re using direction–north, south, east, west–as we decide which way to walk;
  • we’re employing our critical thinking skills as we decode the hint and interpret what it means;
  • we’re reading past logs and synthesizing responses;
  • we’re getting out in nature, exploring our parks, routes, walks, and world in a way we haven’t experienced;
  • we’re looking at our surroundings with closer eyes and careful steps;
  • we’re practicing the difficult skills of patience, endurance, and handling disappointment;
  • we’re learning–each time!–and are excited to become better at our geocaching skills.

And that’s it–we’ve been geocachin’ fools for a good two months now, so we’ll just catchya in the logbooks, okay? And any advice, ideas, suggestions, or resources YOU have, I’d love to see!  We’re newbies–and we want to learn!

Some geocaching resources for the newbies:

 

fyi: Affiliate links are included in this unsponsored post, written by totally new geocacher (me) and influenced only by my three little geocachers and my geocaching dog.

sea shell craft: simple, sea shell salt dough pretties

seashells cover pinterest blank

seashell craft: salt dough pretties

Every time we go to the beach, we end up coming home with a boatload of shells.

And why wouldn’t we?  It’s one of our favorite things to do at the shore–collect sea shells during long walks by the water.

But at this point, we’ve done a whole lot with these little beachy guys–I was looking for something a little new and a lot different.  I knew we wanted us to keep the shells, but I also wanted the kids to be able to admire and share them.

And at this point, we have more than enough pets in the house, so Shell Pets wasn’t an option.  Though my kiddos do like a cute, good-natured, well-trained Rock Pet.  (Hey, and so do I.)

So instead of making beachy frames, instead of displaying them in a pretty glass jar or vase, and instead of using them as game pieces or counters, we made pretty keepsakes that we can share, paint, and use to remember our trip.

We tried a very simple recipe for an old-standby–salt dough–and we paired it with our seashell finds to create a really simple, really pretty, quite versatile summertime Sea Shell craft: Simple Sea Shell Salt dough pretties. 

Pretty little trinkets to display in our house or to share with our family.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Sea Shell Craft–Simple Sea Shell Salt Dough Pretties: I’ve wanted to make salt dough for some time now, so this was a great opportunity.

After our pumpkin play dough flop, I was a bit wary of any ‘play dough’ recipes, though I’m pretty convinced it was my mistake that made our play dough flop.

 

seashell craft: salt dough pretties

First, we cleaned our shells. . . and rocks.

sea shell craft: simple, sea shell salt dough pretties

And then we started on the salt dough.

 

Anyway, I remembered seeing a super-simple recipe for salt dough, so we tried it:

Salt Dough:

2 cups flour

1 cup salt

cold water–about 1/2 cup but add more if mixture’s too dry

How to: mix ingredients

My kind of recipe.

So Maddy, Owen, Cora, and I cleaned off our shells and set them out to dry.

Then we created our Salt Dough.  And it was so easy, I wanted to dance.  And it worked so well, I wanted to dance.  And the kids loved it so much, I wanted to dance.  It was a happy morning.

sea shell craft: simple, sea shell salt dough pretties

The kids added ingredients–all three of them–

seashell craft: salt dough pretties

and then they mixed and mixed and mixed. . .

sea shell craft: simple, sea shell salt dough pretties

. . . and came out with the most perfect salt dough ever.

We gathered a few recyclable items–small fruit cups, an egg carton, and an apple container from the huge discount store.  We also grabbed a few yogurt cups and butter containers.  The idea was that we’d form the dough into the containers and then decorate it with our shells.

Very simple.

 

sea shell craft: simple, sea shell salt dough pretties

We liked how the fruit cups had ‘fancy’ edges’ –we thought it would look cool when dried.

sea shell craft: simple, sea shell salt dough pretties

The apple carton makes a great mold for this shell craft–and so many other things!

And before we knew it, we had a boatload of fancy shells all stuck in salt dough, ready to dry.

We waited about 24 hours for them to mostly dry, and then we popped them out of their containers and set them on a drying rack out on the porch.  We let them dry completely and then. . . our Sea Shell Salt Dough Pretties were finished!

I liked how they looked plain, but Maddy and Cora thought they’d look great painted. I think we’ll squeeze in some painting–if they want to–sometime this week.  Before school starts. Boo-hoo.

 

sea shell craft: simple, sea shell salt dough pretties

I love how these turned out. . .

sea shell craft: simple, sea shell salt dough pretties

. . . simple, pretty. . .

sea shell craft: simple, sea shell salt dough pretties

 . . . seashell memories–perfect for a dresser, nightstand, or coffee table.

And that’s it! Sneaky, summertime crafting in the name of beachy memories. . . not a whole lot of learning but a whole lot of laughing–and hopefully smiling when we look at our Sea Shell Salt Dough Pretties and remember our awesome beach week!

And though they’re hardly perfect–and hardly fancy-schmancy, I love their simplicity and free form.  I love that the kids had a chance to re-use some recyclables, to see their sea shells added to a pretty cool craft, and that they worked together to make the super-sssschweeeeet salt dough.

Woot!

Happy crafting!

beach learning: hermit crabs, horseshoe crabs, ghost crabs, sand crabs & more

beach learning hermit crabs

beach learningThe beach can be difficult vacation for families with young children, there’s no doubt about it.

Beyond even getting there–the packing, the long drive, the daily to-and-from the beach with a million trillion supplies–being there is sometimes hard, too.

Even with a ton of hands on deck, by the end of the week, the sand, the over-tired kids, the sun, the sand, the sand–everywhere!–is enough to make even the most relaxed parent a little edgy.  However, I have to say that once we passed the diaper stage, things got a lot easier.

This year, we could really have fun at the beach–jumping waves, building sand structures, and learning.

The shore is a science class at your fingertips, and for those of us who don’t get to the beach but once a year, there’s so much exploring to do, that it’s nuts.  The beach is an ideal time to really focus on raising curious kids–kids who observe, who question, who wonder, and who want to learn more.

At the Delaware beach we visited–Bethany Beach–we had the opportunity to do some serious firsthand discovering; long walks, quiet hunts, a whole lot of digging, and an equal part of being still allowed us to find some real treasures: horseshoe crabs, ghost crabs (our first!), sand crabs, and more.

And the really cool thing is that no matter what beach you hit this summer–or any time of the year–you can do the same and find treasures of your own.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Beach Learning — Horseshoe Crabs, Ghost Crabs, Sand Crabs & More: Don’t get me wrong–we didn’t make our vay-cay one long research session, that’s for sure.

We spent hours and hours in the water.  We rode waves and jumped waves and boogie boarded and floated and floated some more.  We dug and played and dug and played some more.

But what we did throughout the trip was simple:

  • We really looked at what was around us.
  • We took long walks–with a bucket–so we could save our treasures.
  • We asked questions about the things we didn’t know or didn’t understand.
  • We were really excited to share with others all of the new things we were learning.

And what we couldn’t figure out on the trip, we figured out when we got home–or on the way home.  Specifically, we learned about crazy amounts of crabs.  Horseshoe crabs, sand crabs, ghost crabs, and hermit crabs.  And we learned about manta ray egg sac and a little bit about the ocean waves and tides.

beach learning horseshoe crab

Yes, that guy was alive. And yes I wanted to scream.

Here’s what we found:

  • Sand Fleas (we’ve always called them ‘sand crabs’):But these are the little guys we dig up right where the water breaks.  Maddy, Owen, and Cora love to find them and then let them tickle the palms of their hands. You can tell where they are by the air bubbles that come up through the wet sand.
    • Sand Fleas site — everything you ever wanted to know about sand fleas and so much more. Seriously.

 

beach learning: curious kids

Those little holes were everywhere–lucky us to catch a glimpse of the ghost crab!

  • Ghost Crabs: These are totally new to us–I have never seen them at the beach ever–and I’ve been going to the Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey beaches my whole life.    We came across one on an afternoon when Maddy, Owen, Cora, and I were taking a long walk. Cora screamed, MOMMY!! IT’S A SPIDER!! MOOOMMMMY!!And by the time I got there, all that remained was a tiny hole in the sand.

    beach learning: manta ray egg pouch

Thanks to the Wild Kratts, Maddy and Owen knew exactly how this egg sac worked!

  • Skate or Ray Egg Sac: Seriously! Maddy found something totally strange and unusual, and she asked a lifeguard what it was.  He said it was a manta ray egg sac, and then immediately, Maddy and Owen started spewing off facts about what it was and how it worked.  Thank you, Wild Kratts!

    beach learning hermit crabs

Hermie, chillin in her condo while Maddy and I learn about how to k

  • Hermit Crabs:We’re thrilled to welcome ‘Hermione’ or  ‘Hermie’ for short, into our family! Maddy decided to use her allowance money to buy a new sister, and we’re totally excited.  But we’ve never had a hermit crab before, so we’ve had to do a bit o’ learning. . .

 

In Turn Your Family Vacation into a Real Education, on Mom’s Homeroom, Susan Perry, a Los Angeles-based social psychologist and author of Playing Smart: The Family Guide to Offbeat, Enriching Learning Activities for Ages 4-14, is quoted as saying that “Non-school times are wonderful for showing your child that learning happens anywhere and everywhere, and is, in fact, an integral part of life that can be fun, and can be shared.”

She goes on to say that parents shouldn’t “over-structure the learning, rather let it happen naturally.”  And I couldn’t agree more, especially on vacation.

But I can’t stress enough that it has to start early! Curiosity about the world starts with our littlest guys when they are still teeny, and we, as parents and teachers, must continue it with modeling and supported learning from here on out.  Happy beach learning!

 

fyi: This blog post is part of an incentivized online influencer network for Mom’s Homeroom. Mom’s Homeroom is brought to you by Frosted Mini-Wheats.

getting kids to stop, observe and write

how to get kids to stop, observe and write

how to get kids to stop, observe and write

Our Everyday Journal cards have proven to be a really incredible—and sneaky—way of getting the kids focused and thinking in a way that I’m not sure they’d be willing to do otherwise.

There’s something exciting about choosing a card, about having the topic be a surprise, and about being willing and open to trying something totally new.   And  Maddy, Owen, and Cora have each slowly discovered their favorite areas of focus with the cards—photo inspiration, nature inspiration, poem inspiration, techy inspiration, and artsy inspiration.

But one of our first topics involved nothing other than finding peace and quiet, and still it remains one of their top activities.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Getting Kids to Stop, Observe, and Write: The prompt was simple.  All it said was

Go outside and find a quiet spot.

Pick one thing that you can see and describe it the best way you know how—how does it feel, smell, taste, sound, and look?

I said, Sounds simple, doesn’t it? So you’re going to find a quiet spot—all to yourself—and then what are you going to do?

Maddy jumped in: Looks like we’re just going to sit in a spot that we choose and pick something to write about—like everything about it.

Right, I said. You’re going to use your five senses to write about what that thing looks like, how it feels, how it smells, how it tastes—if it’s safe to taste it!—and how it sounds. Cool?

Like if I were going to sit here and observe this one blade of grass, I would write something like, ‘I am green, long like a string bean, but flat.  I’m thick at the bottom and get skinnier to a point at the top.  I have tiny lines on each side of me.  I am dancing gently in the wind, moving side to side.  I’m quiet—I don’t make a sound.’  I smell fresh and crisp right after I’m cut or picked, but I don’t have a smell if I’m left alone. And how does it feel?

how to get kids to stop, observe and write

We began with a challenge–having our kids stop, observe, and write–and it got their creative juices flowin!

Some are soft and others are pokey, said Owen.

You’re right.  Very true.  But for this journal we’re picking just one—and I know it’s hard—but one object to write about. So look at this piece of grass (I pointed to the grass by our feet) and tell me how it feels.

It’s soft and bendy when you walk on it but still a little pokey at the top, he said.

Okay, so I’d write something like, ‘I’m mostly very soft and smooth and bendy when stepped on but have a gentle pokey top.’

Then for taste? Hmmmm.  How does a piece of grass taste? I asked.

It can taste grassy, said Cora.

You’re right. It tastes like grass—let’s try one. Anyone want to try to eat a piece of grass?

No one did—which surprised me—so we left that part go.how to get kids to stop, observe and write

Cora worked on her letters in her workbook–to her insistence–and that was cool with me.

So let me read what we have, and we can make sure we have all of the pieces before you go and do your own observation writing, okay? Listen closely for all of the senses—how it looks, feels, sounds, tastes, and smells–you think you have anything we should add, let me know.

I read it, and they said it sounded great and could they please please please go do theirs now?

So they did.  Off they ran to find a quiet spot in the yard to stop, observe, and write.

And though this activity was a bit above Cora’s abilities, she did want to take her letter-writing practice book out to a quiet place in the yard to practice writing her letters.  I suggested she go out and choose one object to draw—but she said she wanted to write.  And really, since this summer and it’s all about fun with some learning stuck in, I let her go for it.

Maddy and Owen took longer than I thought, but they didn’t write a whole lot—another reason that modeling is so totally important.  Once they shared their pieces, we talked about whether or not they included all of the five senses, and both kids did not. So they re-read what we wrote together, went back to their spots, found their object, and did a bit of revising.

 

It was fun. And they really loved it, so much so that we’ve done it several times this summer, even on days that they didn’t choose the card.

It was a matter of finding what got my kids going–and interested in writing–that helped me here. Like Jolie Stekly, writing and literature expert and former classroom teacher says in her piece on Mom’s Homeroom called, The Writing’s on the Road, it’s all about finding little gems of opportunity to give our kids reason to write and at the same time to avoid that dreaded summer slide.

She encourages parents to “in the same way we sneak greens into our kids’ other foods — like adding a few leaves of spinach into a fruit smoothie — we can do the same with writing during the summer months”  She says that “summer travel and events (vacations, road trips, camping, day outings, summer camps) provide great opportunities to put your kids’ already-acquired writing skills to use in a meaningful way” and that they’ll see the writing as fun–not work.

I like that–simple and sneaky like spinach in a smoothie. So if my kids are game to write in the backyard, quiet and carefully, I’ll take it!  Happy writing!

 

hot summer day fun: crayon melts!

crayon melt craft for kids

fun summer crafts for kidsIt’s been so incredibly hot here in Maryland, I’m sure you can fry an egg on the sidewalk.

At least I’m guessing you can because it’s been upwards of 100 degrees but it feels about a million.  And muggy.  And really sticky.  And buggy.

But because it’s been so hot, we’ve been taking it pretty easy—reading, doing some writing, and trying out a few (can’t wait to share them!) new-for-us things and a handful of throwback crafts.

There was one day, however, when we did get a little cra-zeee, and I used the day’s sweltering weather to teach the kids a little bit about how powerful our sun could really be—and to help them realize how lucky we really were.

All we needed were some crayons, a cookie sheet, cookie cutters, and the hot, hot sun for a crafty-science experiment that was totally easy and so much fun.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Hot Summer Day Crayon Melts:  We have always kept our crayon bits—all the way back when Owen was trying to master the ever-so-difficult tripod grip, up until now, we used them some way or another for learning or creating.

So after swim practice in the morning—after lunch and a whole lot of vegging out—and before we returned to the pool to meet up with friends and play, I said to Maddy, Owen, and Cora, It is seriously a scorcher.  It’s insanely hot today. Let’s do a quickie, crazy experiment before we head back to the pool. I think we’ll see first-hand how incredibly strong the sun is today.

fun summer craft for kids

Our crayon bit box came in handy today!

I grabbed a few things: the box of crayon bits, a cookie sheet, the aluminum foil, clear plastic wrap, and cookie cutters.

Then I said, Let’s start peeling! We’re going to melt these puppies!

All we did was peel the crayons. . .

crayon melt craft for kids

. . . then size them to the best cookie cutters.

We peeled and chatted and peeled and chatted, and as always, some crayons were easier to peel than others.  After we had a bunch peeled, we covered the tray with aluminum foil and each choose some cookie cutters to use.

Maddy said, You mean we can make cookie-shaped crayons?

 

We put the crayon bits inside cookie cutters. . .

crayon melt craft for kids

. . . and we were ready for melting!

I think so, I said.  It’s about 100 degrees outside. I am pretty sure that the sun will bake these crayon cookies.

We made sure to fill as many cookie cutters as we could with a variety of colors.  Some we tried to keep monochromatic—or all shades of one color, and others we tried to keep totally mixed and rainbow-beautiful.

Before we set out our tray to the driveway ‘oven’, I said, Let’s just make sure these will melt by giving it a plastic roof, like a greenhouse.   I bet if we cover it with plastic wrap, the heat will stay inside and really melt these guys.

 

crayon melt craft for kids

We wrapped the tray with plastic wrap,

 

crayon melt craft for kids

and BOY! was it hot!

We turned a plastic cup upside down on each corner of the tray, just to raise it a bit, and then we covered the tray with plastic wrap.   And then we placed the tray on the top of our black driveway, and we headed to the pool.

crayon melt craft for kids

A few hours later and a whole lot cooler, we pulled up to our house, and we checked on our ‘baked goods’.

OH MY GOSH!!! Mommy, the crayons are watery—they’re like soup!! Owen screamed.  He was the first to check out our work, and he was totally correct.

The crayons had melted to liquid in some spots while other parts of the crayons hadn’t melted at all.  It was so interesting.   We tried to figure out if the inconsistent melting was due to the location of the items on the tray or something else, but we couldn’t tell.

It did seem like some of the un-melted crayons may have been the cheaper ones—and that the good ole Crayolas were the more melty.

Because our crayons had melted too much, we had to wait to pop them out of their shapes.   We put the tray into the refrigerator to cool and had dinner.

A few hours later, the crayon cookies were cool and we could finally examine our work—and the crayon shapes were beautiful!!

Maddy, Owen, and Cora had a blast popping out the shapes and trying to color with their crayon works of art.

Crayons melted–

crayon melt craft for kids

–and after they cooled, they were awesome shapes!

We talked a bit about how hot the sun must have been to melt the crayons that quickly, and I really tried to emphasize how very lucky we were—how many people don’t have the luxuries that we have, like a cool house and a swimming pool.

And how absolutely necessary it was for us to water our plants every day and not waste water.

fun summer crayon craft for kids

 The different textures and colors were gorgeous. . .

fun summer crayon craft for kids

. . . and the super-fun part? The crayon melts worked–made coloring a bit more crazy!

If I could do it again—which I am sure we will—we’ll set up more of an experiment situation.  I’d love for the kids to see how the plastic wrap effects the melting as well as how where the tray is placed—driveway or grass—effects the melting.

Until then, we’ll do some serious coloring with our brand-new shape crayons!

Happy melting!  (And stay cool!)

chalk paint graffiti: a happy welcome home

chalk paint graffiti

chalk paint graffitiLast summer, Maddy came home from an overnight at her Aunt Mary’s house dancing and singing about how Aunt Mary taught her to use chalk.

Knowing that Aunt Mary IS all things cool to my girls, I knew that whatever they did must have been pretty awesome.  Maddy went on and on and on about how Aunt Mary let her paint with this ‘special kind of paint chalk’ and that she made footprints and handprints and it was sototallyawesome.

We kind of put it on the back burner until much later–months later, in fact–when one random day after school, Maddy started to make the ‘chalk paint’ that Aunt Mary taught her to make.

I’m not sure if it was an intentional lesson or if it happened on the spur of the moment lesson from Aunt Mary, but I watched Maddy very carefully make a thick, heavy mixture from a pile of chalkdust,  ‘Just like when I did it with Aunt Mare’, she explained.   Mom, this is going to be so cool–just wait.

And it really was.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Chalk Paint Graffiti: Really, chalk paint graffiti turned out to be chalk paint handprints on our doorstep gone craaaa-zy, and you know what?  I loved them.

I loved, loved, loved them.

Maddy and one of her buddies mixed enough chalk paint in several batches one afternoon.  Very carefully, they scribbled with chalk very hard in one spot, making a pile of chalkdust. 

chalk paint graffitiThey made me smile for days and days–and they lasted for days and days and days and days.

How pretty are these handprints?

And then they’d add water and mix it with a stick.  They’d spread the chalkdust paste-paint all over their hands, and they’d stamp their hands on the cement.

All over, in every color of the rainbow, they scribbled, mixed, spread, and stamped. Scribbled, mixed, spread, and stamped.  Until our front walk was a gorgeous, happy welcome canvas of tiny hands.

Beautiful. Gorgeous. Lovely.

Not a whole lot of sneaky learning, but there was a whole lot of free-bird creativity flowing and outdoor art happening, and I’ll take that–and a proud little artist whose hearts were full of thoughts of their awesome aunt–any day of the week.   Happy chalk painting!