cool activities for kids all summer long: NEW tabletop surprises

cool activities for kids all summer long: NEW tabletop surprises

cool activities for kids all summer long: NEW tabletop surprises


It’s here! It’s here! It’s heeerrreeeee!

I’m so happy. I’m so excited.

And more than ever, I’m over the moon thrilled and elated that summer is right around the corner!

Though I work from home, and it’s always an adjustment to have all the kids home all day long, and we have a busy swim and dive schedule, and ohmygosh I have to feed three kids three meals every single day for like a million days, I have found the most awesome plan for summer fun for my kids–tabletop surprises.

This will be the third summer we’re rocking tabletop surprises, and the kids–and I–couldn’t be more ready to rock and roll!

Here’s the skinny. . .

Cool Activities for Kids All Summer Long–NEW Tabletop Surprises: 

Tabletop Surprises are what works for us because I have three different kids–11, 9, and 8 years old–each with their own personality and plans.

And Tabletop Surprises work for us all.

What are Tabletop Surprises? Tabletop Surprises are invitations to learn, play, create, invent, and think–on their own time. 

Little fun activities just waiting for someone to come along and try ‘em out.

tabletop surprises 2

This year, everyone helped make the calendars. 

I brought out last year’s Tabletop Surprises calendars, and Maddy, Owen, and Cora wrote, scratched, added, and edited.

summer fun for older kids tabletop surprises

summer fun for older kids tabletop surprises

summer fun for older kids tabletop surprises

I want this summer to be fun for them. And I want them to have some say in what we do each day.

And though they had their own ideas about what they wanted their summer to look like (see below!), I added, adapted, and think they’ll be pretty happy with what we have planned.

Despite what it may look like, Tabletop Surprises allow for so much flexibility in our schedules. They’re short activities that can be done independently (for the most part), so if something fun comes up in our schedule, we drop and go.

That simple.

summer fun for older kids tabletop surprises

How to I get the kids to actually sit down and do the activities? 

A few ways:

1. The activities are fun and the kids want to do them;

2. At any given time, on any given day, I have been known to toss a few gems into the gem jars of people who have been spotted doing the activity. Not every day, but some days.

3.  I’ll join them. Really.

Kids–I truly believe–like to hang out with their parents. Especially if their parents are kinda cool or funny or at least act like they’re cool or funny. I like to hang out with my kids, so when they sit, if I can, I’ll join them.

tabletop surprises 2

What are the ideas and what makes them so fun?

The activities are hands-on. They’re cool. They’re creative and crafty. They’re unusual. They’re familiar. They’re old and they’re new. They’re digital and battery-free. They’re indoors and outdoors.

It’s a mix, and that keeps them going. And it’s only ten weeks. That gives us one week for vacation and one week to totally pound out math packets and summer school assignments.

And really? I have a whole bunch of back-up this year–4 extra weeks planned out roughly. Just a whole bunch of extra cool, fun things that kids might want to do if and when we find time.

tabletop surprises calendar 2015 |

What do you think? Ready to give Tabletop Surprises a look? 


  1. Print out the calendar: tabletop surprises calendar 2015
  2. Subscribe to via email.
  3. Download the Tabletop Surprises Resource Guide (you’ll get it when you confirm your subscription, yo!).
  4. Give your kids the skinny on Tabletop Surprises.  Tell them: This summer is totally going to rock. Each day, you’ll have a fun activity waiting right here on the table for you. All summer long. Not even kidding. You’re that lucky.
  5. Start learning, playing, creating, inventing, and thinking alongside your kiddos!
  6. And? Share your #tabletopsurprises via instagram or twitter  just for fun.  We will have a few goodies along the way for families who jump in on the fun. So start sharing and start learning.
  7. Now. Go ahead and create the summer of your dreams. Well. . .

tabletop surprises 2

Wait. What’s holding you back?

My kids. They’re totally not game for anything anymore now that they’re tweens and teens.

Um. I understand. I get it. My kids have days when they just want to hole up and ignore me. And that’s fine. But there are many days when they want fun things to do.

They want an excuse to play with their old faves, to get their hands dirty, to explore and have fun.

And Tabletop Surprises let them do just that.

tabletop surprises calendar 2015 |

Me. I’m busy. I don’t have time for this. 

Yes. You. Do.  I’ve got every single thing you need right here. Ten weeks.  Links to resources and everything.  Just print out a few things, gather supplies the night before and set it out on your table or a small shelf or somewhere so it’s all there when the kids wake up.  They’ll do it when they’re able.

In fact, I’ve so got this covered, that if you subscribe to via email (only a few emails a week–full of awesome for you and your kids!) you’ll have access to every single thing you need for the entire ten weeks. Every link. Every printable. Bam.


Okay, well. . . I may just be convinced.

Give me a look at this stuff. 

Sure. Check out last year’s Tabletop Surprises to get an idea about what we’re doing.

tabletop surprise 2015 sign up teachmam

Or check out 2013:

Or check out our

live focused: may is the month for YOU — get started with these ideas

live focused in 2015 self

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live focused in 2015 self


Friends, it’s taken me a bit to get to this important post this month, but here it is.

All year long we’ve been focusing on living with intention, making our time on this earth really count.

We’ve covered organization, friendship, clarity, and growth, and now, mid-year, we’re looking at ourselves.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Live Focused–May is the Month for YOU:

live focused in 2015 self

(Here I am, enjoying my very first butterbeer. . . a dream.)

We’re all busy, this I know for sure.

But when was the last time you really took time for you? When have you recently carved out time in your schedule for doing something that you truly love to do?

If you’re not sure or you can’t remember, then it’s time to make a change.

And if you’re rolling your eyes and feeling defeated before you even begin, then you really, really need to make a change. Because you know what? It’s okay to take care of ourselves. In fact, it’s a necessity.

It’s just that often it seems like we’re moving at such superhuman speeds that we can’t find the time.

Here’s this month’s printable to add to the others. Use it.

live focused: may self

Here’s the May printable to add to your other #livefocused printables: live focused printable may 2015

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

Identify your anchors.

What’s holding you back from doing what you really love? These are the ‘anchors’ that are keeping you stuck in place–and anchors come in all shapes and sizes.

live focused in 2015 self

Is your anchor time? You can’t find enough of it to do what you want?

Is your anchor money? You feel like there’s no extra money in the budget for you to ‘splurge’ on things for you.

Is your anchor fear? Exhaustion? Confusion? Frustration? Embarrassment? 

Really, there are a million anchors–a million reasons–for you to not do what you’d like.

But there are double that many reasons for you to do more of what you like.

The number one reason to do more of what you like is that you will feel better and do better when you take time out for you. Okay, so that’s two reasons. But whatever. You get what I’m saying.

It’s true.

My good friend Jessica Turner’s Fringe Hours is an incredibly helpful resource for women who are trying desperately to reclaim time. To find something for themselves in that time. To carve out even minutes during the day to do what they love, even when there’s a pile of laundry to be folded and bathrooms to clean.

Jessica created a Fringe Hours Manifesto that you should consider printing and keeping close:

live focused: focus on SELF

You can print the Fringe Hours Manifesto here: Manifesto-Printable

(If you choose to share this information–and we hope you do!–please link to this post instead of the attachment page. Or go ahead and visit the Fringe Hours page directly. Thank you!).

If you haven’t found a copy of The Fringe Hours, you can grab one from Amazon or from DaySpring.  And definitely check out Jessica’s Fringe Hours site for the awesome Time Tracker, wallpapers for your phone, and more.

Good news– DaySpring is having a rockstar Memorial Day sale– 25% off entire purchase with code 25MEMORIAL.  (Treat yourself to the book and some of the other awesome products like notepads and journals!)


Remember what you love to do.

It’s hard, especially when you’re in the throes of life, to sometimes even know what you love to do. I get it.

I remember, when Maddy, Owen, and Cora were young, feeling like the only thing I ever wanted to do with my free time was sleep. Like close my eyes and rest. I was that tired.


But once I started running, doing yoga, writing this blog (really!), things turned around. I had more energy. I felt a renewed zest for life. I rediscovered the spring in my step.  I was a better mom, a better wife, a better friend and daughter.

This month, take time to figure out–or remember–what you love to do. We’ll give you some good ideas as a starting point.

How about:

Do something for you.  Really. It’s okay.

I’m no expert–believe me, I didn’t write the book on this–but I can tell you what I’ve done for me that’s made me really happy in the recent past:

1. I’ve just recently tried Stitch Fix. And I love it.

My second ‘fix‘ came today, and Maddy turned to me and said, Mom, I love how happy you are when your Stitch Fix.

She’s right. I am happy.

Stitch Fix makes me happy, and I don’t care if that makes me sound like a brat.

What is it? Stitch Fix is like having a personal shopper–really–where five items are sent to you, and you can keep or send the items back. It’s AWE-some. You pay $20 a month, and you fill out a detailed description of your style. Then your items land on your doorstep.

Whatever you want, you keep, and that $20 goes toward the cost; if you buy all five items, you get 25% off the total cost and your $20 stylist fee goes toward your purchase.

Jewelry, handbags, tops, skirts, dresses, tanks–it’s awesome.



2. I started doing Beachbody–the 21 Day Fix and PiYo. And I love it.

I tried the PiYo DVDs last year because I’ve been a longtime fan of pilates and  yoga.  And I even tried Beachbody Shakeology and after a bit of trial and error, I really came to like it.

No Weights. No Jumps. Just Hardcore Results. DEFINE YOURSELF with PiYo!
21 Day Fix. Simple Eating. Simple Fitness. Fast Results.
So now I’ve been rocking out to the 21 Day Fix each morning (okay, or about 4-5 mornings each week), and some mornings I’ll mix it up with a little PiYo or a run.  And I try to have a shake every other day. It was an investment in me, and I feel so much better for it.

More importantly, though, I feel so much stronger for it.

And the cool thing is that several of my friends are working hard as Beachbody coaches–guiding people to better health and fitness and getting paid for it. Awesome.

Smart women working hard–changing lives and earning some extra money.


3. I started using döTERRA essential oils. For real. (Don’t laugh.) And I love it.

I’m sure you have friends or family members who are into the essential oil thing. And if you don’t, well then, we should talk. . . (cough).

I’m kidding. Kind of.


But essential oils are simply ‘natural aromatic compounds found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants.’

Take a minute to check out my little ole essential oil page; know that the videos are super helpful. Though I’m not a full-fledged oil expert, I have been using them with my family for about six months. We’ve seen some really great changes.

I’ll write more about them later, but I really just like having options when someone in our family isn’t feeling 100%. I like the excitement of looking up the ailment in our essential oil guide, trying the oil, and experiencing results.

I like that there is an oil for just about everything–anxiety, stress, indigestion, pain, and insomnia. I like that the oils can be ingested, infused, or used topically. I like that there are boatloads of supports out there for newbies to this world, and I like that so many women are making a killing selling them.

I like that you can buy them at really reasonable prices, so even if you aren’t sure about them, you can give a few a try and not break the bank.


Oh friends. Let’s get this started.


Here’s to hoping that you do end up carving some time for YOU this month. Please tell me where, when and how you’re doing it and remember that each person who shares his or her successes is an inspiration for everyone else!!


 live focused in 2015 self sq

Are you in? Let me know, friends. I need to know I’m not walking alone on this journey!

  • share any of the photos here on your facebook page
  • share any of the photos here on your twitter or instagram page
  • share any of the photos here on your google + page or blog!

Tweet this:

  • tweet this: I am ready for some ME TIME this month! Join @teachmama and me: #livefocused
  • tweet this: I am psyched to join @teachmama in her #livefocused 2015 adventure! Join me:
  • tweet this: Do YOU want to live a more focused, intentional life this year? Join the #livefocused crew: @teachmama
  • tweet this: Make this year COUNT. Get focused. Live intentionally. #livefocused @teachmama

Check it all out video-style:

 And? If you don’t already subscribe to’s YouTube channel, you totally want to!

live focused 2015 b w collage



click below for #livefocused archives:

ive focused in 2015 organization sq

live focused in 2015 friendship sq

live focused in 2015 clarity sq 2

live focused in 2015 growth sq 2

fyi: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Forever and always I recommend only products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy

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

parent teacher connect: parents and teachers working TOGETHER is the key to children’s success in school

parent teacher connect

parent teacher connect


We’ve got something cool brewing, my friends, and we want you to come along for the ride!

Join us over at parent teacher connect— a platform where parents and teachers can ask questions, get answers, support each other, and learn how to best reach all of our children.  

Parents and teachers working TOGETHER is the key to children’s success in school. Parent Teacher Connect is a spot for parents and teachers to CONNECT. 

Everyone is welcome here–parents, teachers, administrators, classroom volunteers, you name it.

Here we can have a working, continual dialogue between parents AND teachers. I am SO excited to bring to life a platform where parents and teachers can ask questions, get answers, support each other, and learn how to best reach all of our children.


  • What do you wish parents knew about their children’s success in school?
  • What resources do you have that really help to reach students?
  • How best do you communicate with parents?
  • What works in your classroom?
    teachmama parent teacher connect header 3



  • What do you wish teachers knew about how your child can meet with success in school?
  • What resources do you have that really help support your child?
  • How best do you communicate with teachers?
  • How do you manage homework?

We’re here for ANY and ALL questions you have, but our goal is to cover the following topics each day:

Math Monday: math will be our focus here

Techy Tuesday: tips, tricks, ideas for integrating technology at home and in the classroom

Wildcard Wednesday: anything goes!

Read to Me Thursday: books, books, books!

Foundation Friday: help for building foundations for learning at home and in the classroom

STEM Saturday: science, technology, engineering, and math

Social Sunday: share links, resources, posts, anything that you want others to read or see

Join us: parent teacher connect.

Tell me, friends–what topics do you want to see covered? How can we make this group work for you?

We really want to know!

bleached out disney t-shirts for the not-so-crafty crafter

bleached out disney tshirts

post contains affiliate links



bleached out disney tshirts black shirt

We’re all busy.

And most of us really like to get a bit crafty but don’t have the time.

This little crafty craft is for you. And it’s for me.

Because it is so easy.

It’s so quick.

And the results are really, truly awesome.

We wanted to do something to let our kids know that we’re heading to Disney World in the next few days, but I didn’t want to do a full-fledged scavenger hunt like we did before.

We didn’t want to do a Disney countdown.

We wanted to pull the ‘YAY WE’RE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD TODAY!!!!’ surprise.

Kind of. We had to keep in mind that our kids do much, much better with a little bit of prep time. Even a teensy bit of prep time helps.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Bleached Out Disney T-Shirts for the Not-So Crafty Crafter

Making these was super easy.

Because my husband and I are surprising Maddy, Owen, and Cora with the trip, I needed to be able to make these t-shirts quickly and in the time that they were in school. So start to finish had to be within six hours. These took a fraction of that time.

bleached out disney t-shirts |

What you need:

What you need to do:

1. Print out the template you want to use.

bleached out disney t-shirts |


We used super-simple Mickey ears ones: you can download them here–mouse templates |

Please, if you choose to share this post–and we hope you do!–consider linking to this post instead of the attachment page. Thank you!)


2. Trace the template onto freezer paper.

bleached out disney t-shirts |

bleached out disney t-shirts |

You can do this easily by placing the freezer paper on top of the printout and tracing it with a pencil.


3. Cut out the image from freezer paper.

I think if you have a detailed design, you could use a razor, but my design was easy, so I did it with scissors.


4. Iron the freezer paper stencil to the t-shirt.

bleached out disney t-shirts |

bleached out disney t-shirts |

Not kidding. I didn’t know this would work, either, but one side of the freezer paper gets just a wee bit sticky when heated. Find the shiny side of the freezer paper and make sure that side touches the t-shirt.  Find the place you want the image, and place it there.

Remember that the freezer paper blocks the bleach, so wherever that stencil is will be untouched.

6. Mix your bleach solution.

bleached out disney t-shirts |

Because my t-shirts were dark colored, I knew that we wouldn’t need a lot of bleach to pull out color, so we went with a 60: 40 mix of bleach and water. I filled about 60% of the spray bottle with bleach and then added water to the remaining 40%.

If you’re doing a light grey shirt or light yellow or pink shirt, maybe you want to use all bleach, but since ours were black, bright blue, and dark grey, I was pretty confident that even if our bleach was diluted a bit, it would yield the results I wanted.

7. Place cardboard inside the shirt. 

Make sure that the cardboard covers all edges unless you want the bleach to carry over to the side a bit. We want to make sure that only the front of the shirt is bleached and that it doesn’t seep through to the back of the shirt.


8. Spray, baby, spray.

bleached out disney t-shirts |

bleached out disney t-shirts |

Make sure that the spray nozzle is on the mist setting — test it in the sink if you need to. Then give the spray bottle a shake, and spray the shirt.

Keep the bottle about 6-12  inches from the shirt, depending on the look you want to achieve.

bleached out disney t-shirts |

bleached out disney t-shirts |

You can either make sure the area around the stencil is saturated, or just spray lightly.  You can use a hairdryer to speed up the drying and bleaching process, or you can let the bleach air dry.  Again, it depends on what you want your shirt to look like.

9.  Carefully remove the stencil.  

bleached out disney t-shirts |

After the bleach settles a bit and before the freezer paper stencil gets super soggy, take the stencil off of the t-shirt

All three of mine removed super easy, with just a gentle pull of a corner.  If you need a start to lift up the stencil, use the edge of a dull knife or scissors. The last thing you want to have happen is to make a hole because you tried lifting the stencil too quickly with a sharp knife.

10.  Let your shirt dry just a bit and then rinse and wash the shirt. 

bleached out disney t-shirts |


First rinse the shirt in cold water to remove all of the bleach (See those little white dots in the top photo? That’s the bleach–it must be rinsed away. . . ).

And the finished shirt? Check it out:

bleached out disney tshirts

Then wring it out and wash it (or them, if you did several) in a gentle cycle wash. I dried my shirts on low, and they were fine. I needed them finished by the end of the school day, remember!

bleached out disney t-shirts |

bleached out disney t-shirts |

bleached out disney t-shirts |

Some tips: 

  • Make sure you are in a well-ventilated area.  I mean it. Bleach can really smell strong.
  • Put your shirt on a hanger to let your shirt dry for a bit before you rinse out the bleach.
  • Experiment a little–use a Q-tip to try some bleachy dots on the shirt, use a paint brush, or use the freezer paper in fun, new ways.

bleached out disney t-shirts |

bleached out disney t-shirts |

bleached out disney t-shirts |

bleached out disney t-shirts |

bleached out disney t-shirts |

Have. Fun.

Really, this trip is going to be fun, so make sure that your crafty craftiness before the trip is fun, too.

Check out a quickie video with the how-to: 

Do you subscribe to on YouTube? You should!! 
And really–let me know–have you tried this? What works and what doesn’t?

Looking for more Disney craft ideas?

bleached out disney t-shirts |

You will not believe what some of my crafty friends are doing. They totally rock.

And they, too, will be at Disney Social Media Moms Celebration next week. So do follow along with the fun at #DisneySMMC or on Instagram.

disney crafts round up numbered

Definitely check out what they’ve done:

  1. Little Mermaid Ears, by Vanessa of See Vanessa Craft
  2. DIY Disney Jewelry with Free Printable, by Jen of 100 Directions
  3. DIY BB-8 Shirt, by Karen of Desert Chica
  4. DIY Disney Autograph and Activity Book, by Sara of Clever Pink Pirate
  5. Disney Trip Countdown – DIY Washi Tape Chalkboard, by Sara of Mom Endeavors
  6. Disney Drawstring Backpack, by Laura of Pink Cake Plate
  7. bleached out disney t-shirts for the not-so-crafty crafter, by Amy of teach mama
  8. Disney Sticker Story Starters, by Marie of Make and Takes
  9. Disney Princess Duct Tape Hand Mirror, by Heather of Dollar Store Crafts
  10. Custom Toy Story Shorts and Shirts, by Kelly of Eclectic Momsense



Here are a few other ways to countdown or celebrate your own Disney vacation: 

common core 101: everything parents need to know to prep their kids and to stay sane

common core 101

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common core 101

Having kids in elementary school is overwhelming.

I mean really overwhelming.

Even with the best organizational strategies in place–for homework, papers, and family time–it’s hard to remember it all.

Add one or two extra kids in the mix, and that means that you can multiply the amount of fliers, homework, projects, permission slips, forms, and extra-curricular activities exponentially.

So when the Common Core State Standards arrived hand in hand with PARCC assessments and a whole lot of other changes, I can only assume that the large majority of the parents out there did what I chose to do: skim papers, follow along a little, and hold on for the ride.

That was fine for the moment, but now that we all have had a bit more time to breathe, it’s time to get out of the fog.

We, as parents, need to know what the Common Core State Standards mean, why they matter, and how we can help our kids meet with success on these assessments.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Common Core 101–Everything Parents Need to Know to Prepare Their Kids and to Stay Sane:

common core 101 link
If you’d rather skip my quick and dirty info and find out everything–and I mean everything!–you need to head over to stat.

But here’s the super short version:

What are the Common Core State Standards?

Common Core State Standards set clear, consistent guidelines for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level in math and English language arts.

Often you’ll see it written as CCSS–Common Core State Standards.

common core 101 link

What is PARCC and Smarter Balanced?

Get ready for this. Lots of letters.

Two groups – the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced) – worked closely with educators to develop new, computer-based assessments aligned to the Common Core.

Many states have chosen to administer either PARCC or Smarter Balanced assessments in the 2014-15 school year, and others are using assessments specific to their state.


When will my child take these tests? 

The new assessments will replace existing end-of-year state assessments in math and English language arts.

And? They will provide a more accurate picture of what your child really knows instead of those old tests where kids were asked to pick the right answer from a multiple-choice question.

Why do I, as a parent, need to know this? 

You guys. C’mon.

Parental support is critical to a child’s school success.  You need to know this so that you can walk alongside your child for this journey. You got this! Really.

common core 101 link

Who or what is Be A Learning Hero and why is Amy all over it today?

Ha. I love you guys. Really, I do.

Be A Learning Hero is a website for parents. It’s designed to provide straight answers and helpful resources on the Common Core State Standards.  And it provides information on Common Core-aligned assessments like PARCC and Smarter Balanced. Everything on Be A Learning Hero help parents understand the new standards and assessments and support their children’s education at home.

And you know that I’m all about parents supporting their children’s education at home. Right? Right.

Who is behind Be A Learning Hero and how is it funded? 

I wanted to know the same thing. For real.

Be A Learning Hero is a group of parents, educators, community leaders and members of the media who are dedicated to providing parents with the information and resources they need to support their children’s learning. The partner organizations supporting Be A Learning Hero include: Common Sense Media; Council of Great City Schools; Great Schools; National PTA; National Council of Teachers of Mathematics; and National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC).

Be A Learning Hero is a project of the New Venture Fund and is funded by a group of philanthropies who are investing in education, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Helmsley Charitable Trust and the Schusterman Foundation. The project also receives in-kind donations and support from other organizations working on a range of education issues, including: The Collaborative for Student Success; The College Board; The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO); Nickelodeon; Scholastic; The Teaching Channel; and The US Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

common core 101 for parents

Now, take a minute–or two–and visit where things are explained much more clearly: website | facebook  | pinterest  |  follow the hashtag #LearningHero


Friends. . . tell me:

  • What questions do you have?
  • What experiences have you had?
  • What resources (videos, articles, etc.) have you seen that helped you better understand your state’s new test?

I’d love to know!


fyi: This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Be a Learning Hero. As always, the opinions and ideas are all my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator. Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Be a Learning Hero. The opinions and text are all mine.

fun, authentic writing for kids: power notes to nana

fun, authentic writing for kids: power notes to nana

fun, authentic writing for kids: power notes to nana


Oh, boy the last few weeks have been funny for us.

And by ‘funny’ I mean not really laughing funny but funny in a tricky kind of way.

Pretty much everyone’s been on and off sick.

My husband and Maddy have been suffering from allergies like whut.

Maddy had it for a good week, then I was out for an entire weekend, and now Cora has it.  I’m crossing my fingers that the rest of us steer clear of it.  Because friends, it’s not pretty.

However, in the midst of it all, we were able to do a bunch of fun things and spend time together.

We’ve been doing something for the last few months that has been a whole lot of fun for us all: we’ve been writing power notes to Nana.

Power notes are nothing that crazy–it’s simply fun, authentic writing for kids.  Tons of notes written in one sitting. Power writing power notes. Get it?

Fun. And Authentic.

And really, fun and authentic are the keys when it comes to getting kids to write.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Fun, Authentic Writing for Kids–Power Notes to Nana: 

authentic writing for kids:

authentic writing for kids:

These ‘power notes’ are simply written all in one bunch–all in one sitting.

Maddy, Owen, Cora, and I find a time when we can sit down for an hour or two, and then we each write 4-6 notes to Nana.

Nana is 92, and she’s had a long, rough winter. Getting old is tough, and it’s made even more difficult when you add ice and snow to the mix–because then visitors are less frequent, and outings are more difficult.

And because we live three and a half hours away from her, there’s very little we can do to entertain our amazing 92-year old Nana.

So we write notes.

authentic writing for kids:

And we write more notes.

And we write even more notes.

And we:

  • decorate,
  • embellish,
  • add photos,
  • tell stories,
  • include games,
  • draw pictures,
  • add stickers,
  • make puzzles,
  • print crosswords,
  • add newspaper articles,
  • ask questions,
  • decorate envelopes,
  • and do just about anything and everything we can to make the letters fun for Nana.

We usually begin by going through recent photos. 


authentic writing for kids:


I flag about 8-10 of them, and I print them out. And then Maddy, Owen, or Cora will use the photo as a starting point for a letter.

He or she will simply write a few sentence about the photo: what’s going on? who’s in it? what did we do that day? why is it important/silly/funny/ etc.?

authentic writing for kids:

It’s very easy to have letters to elderly family members all be the same ole, same ole:

Hi, Nana!

I hope you are doing well. School is fine, and soccer is fun! I am ready for summer. Hope to see you very soon.

Love, Owen

But using photos as starters helps break up that mold. It helps liven things up a bit. And Nana loves seeing her great-grandchildren!

Other times, we’ll use puzzles as a starting point. 

authentic writing for kids:

authentic writing for kids:

Puzzles are a super activity for Nana. We print out mazes or sudoku, or word searches.  We even make puzzles for her.

Puzzles can be a short, quick inspiration for a letter, and they give her something fun to do for a few hours the day she receives her letter.

But really, the important thing is that these power notes are a chance for my kids and me to just write

We write about anything that comes to mind because Nana wants to hear it all.

authentic writing for kids:

authentic writing for kids:

If Owen wants to write about soccer, he writes all he wants about soccer.

If Cora wants to write about her cheer competition or the book she’s reading, then she writes about her cheer competition or the book she’s reading.

If Maddy wants to write about her 5th grade graduation or her latest school project, she writes about graduation or her school project.

The key is that everyone’s writing about things that interest them.

authentic writing for kids:

authentic writing for kids:

And they’re writing for a real, live audience.

And their notes are meaningful, and they’re going somewhere.

authentic writing for kids:


And when we’re done, we get them ready for the mail.


authentic writing for kids:

authentic writing for kids:

We address them all, seal them and stamp them, and we put sticky notes on them indicating the day we want them to go out in the mail. So in the end, we have a pile of notes in a basket on the counter, ready to grab and put in the mailbox every 2-3 days.

It works.

And because we cannot stop by for a visit like we wish we could–because nothing replaces that in-person hangout time!–these letters help. Even if just a teeny, tiny bit.

This kind of writing really counts, friends. 

The cool thing is that research shows that the most successful writing activities are for real audiences and authentic purposes:

The teachers in one study reported ‘that students came alive when they realized they were writing to real people for real reasons or reading real-life texts for their own purposes. . . . more authentic literacy activities are related to greater growth in the ability to read and write new genres.

Duke, N.K., Purcell-Gates, V., Hall, L.A., & Tower, C. (2006). The Reading Teacher, 60, (4), 344-355.

It makes sense, right? When people are doing something for a purpose–a real, true purpose–for someone else, they’re likely to want to do it and want to do it well. So they push themselves a bit, maybe learn a little something, and they grow as writers. Bam. Super exciting!


Need a few more ideas to get your kids writing for fun and meaningful purposes?

Check out:

kings dominion: family-friendly amusement park in the dc metro area

family friendly kings dominion |

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family friendly kings dominion |

We did it.

We took the leap.

We visited Kings Dominion with our kids this weekend.

And? It was awesome.

My husband and I hadn’t been there in years, so we weren’t sure what to expect.  But we were pleasantly surprised.

Not only was Kings Dominion clean and totally beautiful, it was seriously more family-friendly than we expected. There was something for everyone, and my kids (11, 9, and 8 years old) are raring for a return visit–already.

Need a few reasons to take the trip to Doswell, Virgina–20 miles north of Richmond and 75 miles south of DC–to experience it for yourself?

Here’s the skinny. . .

Kings Dominion– Family-Friendly Amusement Park in the DC Metro Area

Here are my top 5 reasons families should take a trip to Kings Dominion this season:


1. It’s beautiful and clean.  

family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |

Really. Gorgeous flowers. Green grass everywhere. Fountains, shops, restaurants– and restrooms!– all super clean.

It was something that my husband and I noted multiple times–we’d look at each other and comment about how beautiful the park was.

And I don’t even think it was that we were so grateful to be outdoors on a perfect spring day; the park really, truly is beautiful.

family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |


2. The color band bracelets make ride decisions easier.

family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |

The minute we arrived, we walked into a Height Guide station almost immediately, and this sweet gal was handing out bracelets to kids based on their height.

I loved it–it made deciding which rides Maddy, Owen, and Cora were permitted to ride much, much easier.

family friendly kings dominion |

Turns out that our kids were able to ride just about everything they wanted, which made the whole day totally stress-free.

The height guide is available on the website, so you can even measure your kids at home and plan accordingly.


3. Super-fun concert and event series. 

We were thrilled that the day we went to the park, Debby Ryan (think: Jessie, from Disney channel) and her band, The Never Ending, was playing.

family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |

Our friends at Kings Dominion arranged for us to even meet her, which was an absolute treat for Maddy, Owen, and Cora.

They met Debby Ryan! And Debby Ryan was delightful. So sweet. So kind. So great with the kids.

family friendly kings dominion |


family friendly kings dominion |


We had a blast watching the show, and it was a huge highlight of our family’s spring break.

And honestly, the concert was free with park admission. So it was cool–everyone kind of moseyed on over around 5:30 for the 6pm concert. Great outdoor venue. So fun.

family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |


But this concert is just the beginning of the fun during the Spring Bloom Festival at the park; there’s a ton of other things planned this season:

  • Choo Choo Soul – For the younger ones, Choo Choo Soul is a children’s entertainment act featuring a hip-hop train conductor and her partner, a dancer and beatboxer dressed as a railroad engineer. The concert is free with park admission. Seating is limited and available on a first come, first served basis. Choo Choo Soul will perform at the Peanut’s Showplace Theater on Sunday, April 19 at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Spring Bloom: An International Culinary Celebration – Take a culinary trip around the world with Kings Dominion’s Executive Chef! New food stations and restaurants will feature international food items from Switzerland, Italy, Jamaica, and many more! These delicious delicacies will be created using fresh spring ingredients from local Virginia farms.
  • Live Entertainment – Strap on your dancing shoes and enjoy toe-tapping entertainment from local Country and Bluegrass bands every weekend!
  • Happy Birthday KD! – Kings Dominion opened over the course of two years, with the official grand opening on May 3, 1975. Time to cut the cake and blow out the candles as the park officially turns 40 on May 3, 2015. The day will be filled with surprises, entertainment and more!

I love that there are things other than just rides to explore here.

4. Activities for all ages. 

It’s no secret that Cora is not a fan of big roller coasters. She, like her mama, prefers the lazy river type of rides. So when we discovered Planet Snoopy, we were both in friendly kings dominion |


family friendly kings dominion |


family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |


Planet Snoopy is a PEANUTS™ happy area filled with 18 rides designed for entire families to enjoy together. These aren’t all ‘baby rides’ mind you; a few were rated ‘moderate thrill’ level 3, and I thought they were a little crazy.  The whole area was well-organized, and I liked that after a while we started seeing the same faces of kids and parents. It gave this big park a ‘small park’ feel.

Maddy, Owen, and their dad enjoyed some crazy fast and furious rides while Cora and I were rolling more slowly, and they loved every second of it.

family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |

They rode just about every big coaster they could, and after a while all the names started to sound the same to me. All I know is that they proudly survived the Intimidator 305, the ‘tallest, fastest, and most thrilling roller coaster on the East Coast’.  All I can say is thank goodness I wasn’t standing there watching them.

5. Great food choices. 

Food is huge for our family. We love food.

family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |

family friendly kings dominion |

And especially when we’re out and about, we like to have great food choices to keep us going.

Huge surprise to us was that Chick-fil-A® was there. Panda Express® and Rita’s® was there. Starbucks® and Subway® was there. There were a ton of really great options, and this is just the start–there were some super spots for sweet treats and sit-down meals as well.

Check out all of our photos from the day:

Do you want to get in on the fun, even if you’re far away?

Overall, we were impressed. It was an awesome, awesome day at Kings Dominion.

Have you been there? Have you tried it? Anything in particular that you loved or didn’t love? I’d love to hear it!


fyi: Huge and happy thanks to the team at Kings Dominion for extending an invitation to the park and the Debby Ryan Meet & Greet to our family and then asking me to write about the experience. As always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator.

teach kids workforce appreciation: celebrating those who make our day brighter

teach kids workforce appreciation |

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teach kids workforce appreciation |

We have always taught our kids to be thankful for each and every person who makes our day a little brighter.

And those people include family and friends, neighbors and teachers, but it also includes our newspaper deliverer, and the grocery cashier. Our dry cleaner and mail carrier and the folks who take away our recyclables and trash.

We could be pretty cranky if we had to cut the grass at our favorite playground, so we are thankful for the people who manage the grounds.

We’d be miserable if we had to cut Brady’s fur, but thanks to our groomer, we don’t have to.

When our garage door breaks? Thankfully, we have someone to call. If we need help adding a new light fixture?  The electrician can come lend a hand.

All of these people help to make our day brighter.

All of these people are part of our workforce and deserve to be celebrated.

And it’s really something that needs to be explicitly taught–or modeled–to our children.  Three easy ways, friends.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Teach Kids Workforce Appreciation–Celebrating Those Who Make Our Day Brighter: 

Here are three easy ways that parents can help instill an appreciation for all those in the workforce:

1. Model gratitude and thanks for those in the workforce.

teach kids workforce appreciation 1

This is super simple: say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to those people who help you at checkout lines, who support you on the phone, who greet you as you walk into stores, and who perform service-related tasks.

So often I see people forgetting this simple act of kindness, acting as if the work that these folks do is not as important as it is.

Hopefully, we can change that by modeling gratitude.


2.  Teach children about all jobs so that they know how hard others work.

teach kids workforce appreciation 1

When we know better, we do better, right? Take time to really teach kids about all different types of jobs so that they learn how valued each and every job really is.

This, too, is easier than you think.

Check out the “1 in one hundred million” site–it’s a site devoted to sharing the personal stories of people who do the many important and too-often unrecognized jobs upon which we all rely.  Here, ordinary people in the workforce share their story.

I love it.

Created by Kronos, each month “1 in one hundred million” site releases a new video profiling a person’s story. They’ve covered a firefighter, a trauma nurse, a produce manager at grocery store, a union electrician, a hotel front desk agent, a restaurant server, a teacher, and a baseball bat maker, who was a former MLB pitcher.

celebrating all jobs in the workforce 3

celebrating all jobs in the workforce 3

I love that this series profiles just one of the one hundred million, often under-appreciated, people in the workforce. Hopefully this series will help everyone to better appreciate those people who often make our day brighter.

Find out more about this cool campaign here:  |  #1in100MM |  #WorkforceStories

3.  Take some local, behind-the-scenes field trips.

teach kids workforce appreciation 1

I know this option isn’t always an option depending on where you live, but this is one of my kids’ fondest memories of growing up: take local field trips.

For years I wrote about how we took ‘behind the scenes’ tours of our local pizza place, fire station, flower shop, and recycling center. We visited so many places with our moms’ group that I truly believe it helped show my kids how important our community members really were.

Often, all you need to do is give the business a quick call beforehand, and the people there are more than excited to show a family around. Try it.


How do you help to show your kids that everyone in the workforce deserves to be appreciated? I’d love to hear it!




2547-201503241952345821fyi: This post was written as part of a partnership with Find Your Influence, and as always, ideas and opinions are all my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator. Find out more at 1 in one hundred million. Subscribe so you don’t miss any of their videos!


april fools’ tricks for last-minute prankster parents

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents teachmama

post contains affiliate links



april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama


Oh, friends.

How I love April Fools’ Day.

And how I love to drag my kids into the April foolery.

This year, I have been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to really sit down and plan like I have in the past–but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.

No way, Jose.

So I’ve got a few good April Fools’ tricks for the last-minute prankster parents in the group. Those people who like to trick their family but may not have remembered that April Fools’ Day was tomorrow until . . . well, just now.

Here’s the skinny. . .

April Fools’ Tricks for Last-Minute Prankster Parents:

I’ve got seven for you–seven pretty easy pranks that will be great for most families with kids who are a little bit older.

1. Brownies for Lunch

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

Last year I made a huge tray of these and brought them out to our neighbors–and they weren’t too happy.

This year, I thought I’d scale it down a bit–make small brown Es so that the kids could have them in their lunches at school. And break all of the cafeteria rules by sharing them at lunch.

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

I simply printed out two pages of our ‘brownies’, cut them apart, and wrapped them in foil. At lunch on April Fools’ Day, Maddy, Owen, and Cora will open up their ‘treat’ and have a big surprise!

Hopefully they’ll find it funny and will share them with their friends.

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

And because I’ll feel secretly guilty all day long, I’ll have real brownies as an after school snack. No fooling!

You can download our sheet of ‘brownies’ here: april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents | teachmama

april fools brownies

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

2. Basketball Hoop Plug

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

Every single day, Owen and our neighbors are outside shooting hoops.

So I thought I’d put a little wrench in their game today. We’ll see how it goes. . .

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

All I did was lower the hoop, stand on a chair, and use packing tape to secure plastic wrap to the rim.

Then I raised the hoop back to 10 feet.

Bam. Swoosh! Or not. . .

3. Banded Hairbrushes

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

Maddy and Cora always stand the same way when they’re brushing their hair: they stare at themselves in the mirror, grab their brush without looking, and tear through their knotty hair.

So this little trick will stop them in their tracks a little. Maybe.

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

I added rubber bands to their brushes. In and around the bristles of their brush. That’s it.


4. Hidden Chargers

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

I’m not sure how your house is, but every day that the kids are permitted to use electronics, it’s a mad scramble for chargers. So I fixed that.

I took them all away.

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

Gathered as many as I could find, and I shoved them in a fancy, little bag.

And the really funny thing is that I’m going to keep the bag right on the table, just as it is, to see who actually notices and who then saves the day.

It’ll be a lesson in noticing what’s around. Kind of.

5. Removed Batteries

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

Even though Wednesdays are ‘unplugged’ days for us, another techy-trick I played is the ole battery removal trick.

Nothing fancy, friends.

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

Just a simple removal of the battery.

And no, my kids don’t all have phones. These are my husband and my older devices that the kids use as their ‘mobile game playing station’ of sorts.

I wonder who will be the first to catch on–on Thursday when they try to plug back in, that is!

6. Water Sports Drinks

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

We rarely have sports drinks around the house, but when we do, we often find ‘floaters’ around the house.

Gross. And. Frustrating.

Because they’re not cheap.

Half-finished drinks from who knows when just sitting around here and there like we’re a snack bar or something.

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

So as a trick, I refilled the bottles. Three of them.

With water and a drop of our bright neon food coloring.  Just a few drops in each, and then I shook them up really good.

And before school, I’ll say, Hey! I found these three last Gatorades in the fridge. Whose day is it? Pick a flavor–purple, blue, or red!

(Because when it comes down to it, aren’t sports drinks’ flavors colors and not real flavors? I mean really.

And they’ll probably pick on and think they will have a super awesome drink for lunch.


7.  Switched Cereal

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama


Ahhhhh, a simple one but a good one.

Switched the ole cereal bags inside the boxes. So when the kids try to pour the cereal, they’ll think they’re getting one thing but they’ll really get another.

So tricky am I. So tricky.

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama


It’s worth noting that I do all of this trickery because my kids can take it. If they became upset or angry or inconsolable when I tricked them like this, of course I wouldn’t do it.

They’re used to my April Fools’ googly eyes. They know I usually do what I can to trick them or their father this time of the year.

So they’ll be ready.

I think. . .


Want some more ideas? Our many hilarious ideas include: 

More April Fools’ Day ideas: 


april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama




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


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

fyi: affilliate links used in this post

must-have conversation after taking kids to see cinderella

must-have conversation after taking your kids to see cinderella

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must-have conversation after taking your kids to see cinderella

Last Friday, we saw Cinderella.

The new and improved Cinderella from Disney.

And it was gorgeous. It was beautiful.

From start to finish, the characters were beautiful, the setting was beautiful. The dress. The dress was beautiful. The glass slippers? Beautiful.

And the end? It’s picture-perfect.

It’s a fairy tale ending, just like we all wanted.

Every little girl I know will want to see it. Over and over and over and over and over again.

Which is why I truly believe that there’s a must-have conversation every family must have after taking kids to see Cinderella.

Here’s the skinny. . .

The Must-Have Conversation Every Family Must Have After Taking Kids to See Cinderella: 

First, let me be clear: I get Cinderella.

I know the story.

I saw the animated movie.

I have shared them both with my kids well before we saw the new movie. I know it’s a fairy tale, and I know how it ends.

And I’m not expecting miracles.

But perhaps Elsa is fresh on my mind since we’re all still defrosting from Frozen fever.  Elsa was a rockstar in the way she works out her personal struggles without the help of anyone other than her sister.  And in the end, she learns to control her powers and run a country.

Maybe I just over-loved Tiana who saves pennies in a cofollows her lifelong dream to open a restaurant.  As an entrepreneur, I want my girls to know that they can do anything they set their mind to.

Brave’s Merida was so full of adventure and drive, and I loved her refusal to fit into her family’s preconceived molds.  She set out to follow her own destiny, learning some serious life lessons along the way.

Are these three Disney princess perfect? Not at all. But they’re fresh on my mind, being that they are the more recent additions to the Disney princess club.

As we were walking out of the theater last week, after hearing all of the oooooohs and ahhhhhhhs and wishful conversations among movie-goers, I wanted to remind all of the parents to talk to their daughters about a few things.  Really.

Please parents, after watching Cinderella, tell your daughters:

You are beautiful.

You. Are. Beautiful.

Your healthy body is beautiful. You have strong legs that take you everywhere, that allow you to run, jump, flip, bike, ice-skate, rollerskate, and play.  You have strong arms that you use to build structures, make forts, string bracelets, paint pictures, and design your dreams; your arms and hands allow you to write notes, type stories, do handstands and cartwheels.

God gave you one body, and you take care of it well.  You. Are. Beautiful.

must-have conversation after taking kids to see cinderella | 1

You are smart.

You. Are. Smart.

You read, you listen, and you think. You are questioning and curious. You work hard on your homework until you understand it, and you take your school work seriously. You are a coveted classmate for projects and assignments; your friends know you are a hard worker and that your creative, innovative ideas will get your project done well.

You figure things out. You follow directions. You can do things on your own, and if you can’t, you ask for help. You. Are. Smart.

You are strong.

You. Are. Strong.

You are strong whether I am with you or not, whether your dad is with you or not.

You are strong by yourself, wherever you are, whomever you are with. You are strong in or out of our house, in the summer or winter, in the spring or fall. You are strong whether you have hair or no hair, phone or no phone, toys or no toys.

You are strong no matter what you are wearing and no matter what you think. You. Are. Strong.

must-have conversation after taking kids to see cinderella | 1

You are kind.

You. Are. Kind.

You have more kindness in your pinky finger than more people have in their whole body.

You always think about other people.  You write sweet notes to friends. You wrap beautiful, homemade gifts. You take care of our pets, and you help around our house. You are giving, and you care about how people feel.  You. Are. Kind.

Now, think about the movie. Sure, Cinderella was beautiful and ‘courageous and kind’ like her mom said, but really, there are some things you need to know. 

Cinderella was wearing a corset to make her waist look super tiny.

Cinderella–along with all of the women in the movie–was wearing costumes that made her body look different.

The were wearing corsets. Or girdles. Or something like that.

A corset is something that women wore long ago to hold in their stomachs, to make them look more like an hourglass. Corsets are kind of like the top part of an ice-skate but around your waist. The laces are pulled super-super tight in the middle and a little more loose at the top and bottom so the hips and breasts look bigger. In olden days, people actually had fainting couches and fainting rooms because women were barely able to breathe wearing these corsets–often they fainted.

Can you even imagine? Think about how hard that must have been. Think about how tough it would have been for those ladies to walk down the street in a corset, let alone dance, run, jump, or play.

cinderella post |

Cinderella did not need to take that awful treatment from her stepmother or stepsisters.

I mean it. Nobody deserves to be treated that way.

It’s one thing to be courageous and kind, but it’s another to be a total pushover.

Cinderella could have said something like,

Hey, I don’t appreciate the way you’re making fun of me right in front of my face. It’s not nice, and I won’t stand for it. Or. . .

I’m sorry, but I am definitely not going up into the attic for a bedroom. If the sisters want to share my bigger bedroom, that’s fine. I’ll take the smaller one. But the attic? No way.  Or. . .

Really? Do you honestly feel good about sending me to eat alone in the kitchen? No, sorry. I’m eating at this table with you guys. So. How’s the weather?   Or. . .

Um, nope. I’m not cool with tying your shoes. I can help you loosen your corset and then you can tie your own shoes. Thankyouverymuch.  Or. . .

I don’t care what you think about this dress. It was my mom’s, and even if it is a little out-dated or not quite as poofy as yours, it means a lot to me. You’re entitled to your opinion, but I’m still going to the ball with you. Now, move over, bacon. . . 

cinderella post |

Cinderella could have left the house.

We saw her talking to a girlfriend in the market one day, right? That pal could have helped her get out. But Cinderella had some funny belief that she needed to stay in the house to ‘honor her mother and father’? I don’t believe it. No way. Her parents loved her. Bottom line.

So that means that more than anything, they’d want her happy.

Usually there’s someone who can help you–no matter what situation you’re in, no matter how bad things seem. There’s someone who can help you.  Whether it’s a parent, brother or sister, classmate, neighbor, friend, teacher, or coach–someone can be your lifeline.

Cinderella did not use her lifeline. Clearly.

Cinderella could have done something.

After an amazing, magical, awesome time at the ball, Cinderella just sat in her attic room waiting for . . . what?

What was she waiting for? What was she doing up there after the ball? Was she locked in her room? I can’t even remember.

All I know is this: at that point, Cinderella could have done a dozen other things to change her situation other than just sit there and sing. Right?


So though she was pretty lucky that the Prince’s guy was there and demanded that they check out the beautiful singing heard from above, life doesn’t always work out that way.

Sometimes–most of the time, actually–you have to take the reigns in your own hands.

And though it’s a whole lot sweeter if you’re courageous and kind, often, you have to do a little more, give a little more, risk a little more.

You’ve got to use your strength and your smarts to steer your own ship.

To plot your own course.

To find your own map.

To paint your own masterpiece.

To buy your own flowers.

To sing your own song.

But I know you can do it, and I love you.

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fyi: I am proud to be a part of the Fandango Family Digital Network and will share a movie-related post quarterly. Parents, check out the deets on Cinderella, including information about the cast and crew, from our friends at Fandango.   Share your #fandangofamily moments for others to see, or check out the Fandango Family Facebook page for fun posts and contests.

I am proud to work with Disney as well. All of the Cinderella images are courtesy of Disney.  Thank you!