earn money for your school (& get parents to events!): what you need to know

earn money for your school (& get parents to events!): what you need to know

This post is brought to you by VolunteerSpot & Bing for Schools.

 

earn money for your school and get parents to events  teachmama.com 2We are all so busy during the school year, it’s nuts crazy.

And it seems like the older our kids get, the more we have to juggle.

Many of us know how important it is for us to support our kids’ schools through fundraising, attending events, and volunteering–but it’s tough.

I know that especially when the kids were little, it was all I could do to get the kids to school, let alone worry about volunteering or fundraising.

I brought blinged-out waterbottles to a Teacher Appreciation luncheon because at the time, it was all I could do.

I’m thankful, now, that there are tons of ways that parents can help support their kids’ schools no matter what their situation is. But when it comes to organizing fundraisers and school events, there are some things that you have to keep in mind if you want the program to work.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Earn Money for Your School (& Get Parents to Events!)–What You Need to Know:

These may seem like two separate entities–fundraising and attendance–but they’re really pretty closely related when you think about it.

Above all, everything schools do when it comes to these things must be easy, inviting, and relevant

  • Keep it easy. Fundraisers must have simple directions. One or two steps.  Parents want to look at it, take some action, and be done with it. Events have to be easy–we don’t want to have to bring a million things to an event. We want to put it on our calendar and come as we are.
  • Inviting. Fundraisers have to be interesting and welcoming–things we want to look at and support–which is why the delivery is super important. That first impression makes a difference. So even simple flyers sent home from school with the kids should be appealing to the eyes and be free of spelling or grammatical errors.  Dates, times, and prices should be correct.
  • Relevant. We are more likely to buy products that will help us or our children in some way, shape or form.  Events have to be the same.  We want healthy kids and families, so let’s not sell a bunch of junk food or candy, right?

And for parents, the important thing to remember is that no matter where you are in the world–whether you’re working full-time or part-time, whether you’re married or single, whether you’ve got all kids in school or only one–there is a job for you.  There is some way you can help in your child’s school.

It’s critical that those parents doing the organizing and volunteering make it crystal clear that there is a need and a place for every parent at every school.

earn money for your school (& get parents to events!): what you need to know

Parents can:

  • help in the school media center;
  • make copies for teachers;
  • create bulletin boards;
  • collect Box Tops;
  • manage field trips;
  • organize assemblies;
  • serve on the board or as a committee chair;
  • attend events;
  • start your own after school club;
  • be a room parent;
  • share a board position with a friend;
  • manage the school website;
  • help with social media accounts;
  • work on the school garden or courtyard;
  • coordinate school and community partnerships;
  • manage dinners out restaurant nights;
  • organize Teacher Appreciation Week events;
  • and more.

The possibilities are endless, and of course, they depend on your school and your administration’s permission and interest.

It’s just a matter of sharing your strengths with your parent-teacher organization and using your own creativity to design a way you can help.

 

VolunteerSpot_Bing_470x246

Want to check out a few more ways you can earn money for your school and get parents to events? 

Check it out: How to Raise More Money for Your School–Boosting Fundraiser Turnout & Profits for your School-Parent Group

 

 

The webinar focus: Participants will learn how to pick the right combination of fundraisers for your school-parent group, boost turnout with Social Media, and ultimately RAISE MORE MONEY for school! With a special presentation by Bing, participants will also learn about easy ways parents can earn rewards for their school throughout the year to receive cutting edge education technology.

Facilitator: VolunteerSpot founder and CEO, Karen Bantuveris – seasoned speaker – school fundraising and parent-participation expert.

 

VolunteerSpot_Bing_470x246_v2

 

Go ahead–forward this post to your PTA or PTO board, to your room parent or fundraising chair, and start making some serious change in your school community!

And let me know–what’s your favorite way to help in your kids’ school–right now?

 

 

fyi: I am a longtime friend and supporter of VolunteerSpot who sponsored this post. As always, opinions and ideas are all my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator. 

the ultimate healthy living bundle: teachmama fab find

the ultimate healthy living bundle: teachmama fab find

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

ultimate healthy bundle | teachmama fab find

It’s the beginning of a new school year, and for me, that always means it’s a time to restart, recharge, and re-examine our family’s health and routines. 

After a summer full of ice-cream cones, freeze pops, and backyard bbq’s (and okay, a few too many Summer Shandys), I really needed to make some changes. All of my clothes were feeling tighter, and honestly, my body hadn’t had the time–or energy–to really move much this summer with three kids home all of the time.

I’m not complaining; I wouldn’t change a thing.  I’m just stating the truth. I needed a redo. A jump-start. A kick in the behind.

You know me–I’m a big sweet-toothed gal by nature, and so are my kids. So cutting sugar, eating healthier, and being conscious of our all-around well-being is a top priority right now.

I’ve found a great bunch of resources that I think every busy mom will appreciate and could really use during this season of new beginnings: The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle.

It’s big. And it’s awesome.

But don’t be intimidated. Grab the deal. Download the books. And read them as you’re ready.

Simply click below to grab this deal:

 

 

For the ridiculously low price of just $29.97 (for the PDF version) or $39.97 (for the eReader version), you can get access to a carefully curated collection of eBooks and eCourses with a total combined value of $1,030.

The bundle contains a wealth of information from the very finest healthy living writers out there – but there’s no risk of getting overwhelmed! A useful Getting Started Guide is included with your purchase, which will help you identify the most valuable resources for your specific health priorities.

The Ultimate Bundles team has done all the hard work for you – finding the top experts across a number of healthy living fields and combining their products into one essential collection. If you want to take control of your health, there’s no better way to start!

 

The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle will only be on sale for 6 days – from 8am EST on Wednesday, September 10 until 11:59pm EST on Monday, September 15.

But don’t wait until the last moment – there are only 30,000 bundles available and once they’re gone, they’re gone!

You can buy with confidence because your purchase is covered by the Ultimate Bundles one-year guarantee: you have a full year to enjoy all the books and courses in the bundle, and if you don’t feel like it’s made a huge difference to your family’s health, you’ll get your money back in full!


As if this great collection of eBooks and eCourses wasn’t enough, the Ultimate Bundles team has also partnered with 10 fantastic companies who’ve each agreed to give a special bonus to every buyer. The bonuses have a total value of over $200 – more than 5 times the price of the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle itself!

The bonuses include free goodies aplenty: a bottle of Healthy Mouth Blend from OraWellness, a baltic amber bracelet from Sweetbottoms Boutique, and a starter culture from Cultures For Health. You’ll also get gift sets from Made On Skin Care Products and Homegrown Collective.

There are virtual goodies, too – a 4-month membership to StayAtHomeYoga.com and a 3-month premium membership to meal planning service Tradishen. And as if all that weren’t enough, there are also $15 gift certificates for TheJoyfulGiraffe.com, Strawesome.com and Trilight Health. There is a nominal shipping charge for many of the bonuses, based on each company’s standard shipping rates, and is usually $3-5.

 

Here’s what you need to know about the sale:

When? 7 a.m. EST Wednesday, September 10 until 11:59 p.m. EST Monday, September 15

What? 73 eBooks and 7 audio & eCourses, PLUS over $200 worth of bonus products you’ll really use!

Where? Purchase the bundle HERE.

How much? Well now, that’s the best part. The entire package is worth $1030, and it’s selling for less than $30. Sweet deal, right?

Want to know exactly what’s included in the bundle?

Take a look through the categories, as well as the full list of eBooks and eCourses.

We think there’s something here for everyone, and don’t forget… our Getting Started Guide will show you exactly which resources cover the topics and health concerns that matter most to you!

Alternative Health & Home Remedies

Audio Courses & eCourses

Fitness

Gardening & Homesteading

Green Cleaning

 

Healthy Children

Meal Budgeting & Planning

Natural Beauty & Skincare

 

Real Food Recipes

Seasonal

Special Diets

 

Remember, this bundle is available for 6 days only, from 7 a.m. (EST) on Wednesday, September 10th to 11:59 p.m. (EST) on Monday, September 15th.

Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post. Read the fine print about this bundle and read the answers to frequently asked questions about the bundle.

 

 

 

fyi: I am an affilliate partner of The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle.

 

 

 

 

noticing your kids: little observations mean a lot from parents

noticing your kids: little observations mean a lot from parents

originally published 9/17/09 but republishing now because it’s worth it–

 

Lately, I’ve felt overwhelmed by Cora’s ‘two-year-old-ness’. noticing your kids  observations mean a lot from parents  teachmama.com

Her fiery temper; her constant movement; her unceasing energy; her smiles, hugs, songs, and cuddles; her high high’s, and her low low’s. Some days we enjoy this roller coaster ride, and others, we all want off.

But what I’ve also realized is that as a parent, I’m more experienced than I was when Maddy was two, but I’m not in the fog of fatigue that I muddled through when Owen was the same age. I’m in a different place, and although I sometimes wish that Cora already knew the correct ways of behaving, I seem to have forgotten that those behaviors have to be taught.

So last week, I needed to revisit my old, trusty parenting books for a quick refresher. I didn’t like that I had begun to sound like a broken record, ordering everyone around, raising my voice, and being a reactive parent instead of a proactive parent.

I needed to stop, breathe, and really start to notice the behaviors I wanted her to continue. And then I needed to share with her what I noticed.

It’s all about “shining your light” where you indicate value:

  • Noticing Behaviors: The goal with noticing is to state an observation rather than make a judgement.

NoGood job, Cora.

Yes!Cora, you put your toys in the bin and your clothes in the drawers. You cleaned your room so you can find things when you want them.

Wordy, yes. Takes thought, yes. But it does make sense, especially for our little guys.

Here’s the skinny

  • Start your sentence with the child’s name or the pronoun ‘you’. Look at you!, or I noticed. . .
  • Describe what you see. You found her blanket and gave it to her. That was helpful!
  • End your description with a ‘tag’. Tags describe attributes of your child or values you admire, like that took determination; you sure are organized; that was helpful; that was thoughtful.

Some examples

  • Look at you! You’re eating with your spoon!
  • You did it! You went potty on the big potty. Good for you!
  • Owen, you held the door for Cora. That was helpful.
  • Cora, you offered Maddy a french fry when hers were all gone. That was so thoughtful.
  • Maddy, you picked up all of the doll clothes without being asked. That was super helpful.

Becky Bailey believes that if you accentuate your child’s strengths, you teach them their abilities. If you encourage their contribution, you teach them how important it is that they share their gifts.

It’s hard. It’s so hard. But positive behaviors have to be taught–which is much easier said than done sometimes.

And if we spotlight the behaviors that we want repeated (think: Special Plate), then most likely those behaviors will be repeated.

This Quick Trick is another one from Becky Bailey’s Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline (2000), which has helped me to become more conscious in my disciplining. (When I am disciplined enough to use it!)

I’m far from an expert, hardly the perfect parent, and by nature am quick-tempered and fiery myself (hmmmm, where does sweet Cora get it?), but I am always, always looking for quick tricks to keep in my back pocket. Do share yours!

 

 


 

fyi: affiliate links used in this post

how to talk to your kids about instagram

how to talk to your kids about instagram | teachmama.com #digitalliteracy #digitalkids

It’s hard.how to talk to your kids about instagram | teachmama.com

For many of us with tweens, times are a tough.

Or if they’re not tough now, they’re going to be.

It’s the group mentality: they want to do what their friends are doing.

And it was easy when it was as simple as getting them Rainbow Loom bands for their bracelet-making or letting them poke around the cell phone and text family members.

But now, our kids want to jump on the Instagram bandwagon. They want to do what so many of their friends are doing, and if you’re anything like me, you’re confused.

  • Is Instagram really a big deal?
  • Should we just cave and let them on Instagram?
  • What does Instagram even do?
  • What should I know about kids and Instagram?
  • How should I support my child if he/she is already using Instagram?

And though I don’t have all of the answers, I have talked to friends and experts and done a considerable amount of research for the last few months.

After all, I’m hanging out on social media platforms a whole lot of the time.

And so finally, I think I have some ideas about how you can talk to your kids about Instagram.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • How to Talk to Your Kids About Instagram:

how to talk to kids about instagram 10 teachmama.com

First of all, here’s what you should know about Instagram, whether you’re on it or not:

Straight from the Instagram site:

Instagram is a fun and quirky way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures. Snap a photo with your mobile phone, then choose a filter to transform the image into a memory to keep around forever

What does it mean for not-so-techy parents:

Instagram is a way that people can share photos or short videos with anyone, at any time. They can make the photo fancy with a filter and a frame and share from their phone, iPad, or tablet; people can like the photo and comment on it, and unless they delete the photo themselves, it will live forever on the internet.

 

how to talk to kids about instagram 10 teachmama.com

 

how to talk to kids about instagram 10 teachmama.com

 

Here’s a quick how-to, an Instagram 101 in like five seconds:

1. download the app from the Google Play Store or iTunes (it’s free)

2. create an account

3. take a photo or video (either use the camera on your phone and then share it via Instagram or open the camera right on the Instagram app)

4. choose a filter (or not)

5. write a little something describing the photo or maybe tag someone in the photo

6. use a hashtag if you want other people to find your photo

7. share the photo!

how to talk to kids about instagram | teachmama.com

 

how to talk to kids about instagram | teachmama.com
Now, here are my answers to the questions I asked above: 

  • Is it a big deal? 
    • Yes. It’s a big deal because for many kids, this is the first time they’re ever putting content out into the world for the whole world to see.
  • Should we just cave and let them on Instagram?
    • Instagram Terms of Service says, like most social networks: You must be at least 13 years old to use the Service.
    • Though I admit that this summer I really came close to caving and letting my 10-year-old have an account, I have a husband who put his foot down with a firm NO! and some of my uber tech-savvy friends sang the same song.
    • But you read through this post and decide for yourself. Most certainly every child and every family is different.
  • What does Instagram even do?
    • Instagram lets users share photos and short videos with the world.  If a profile is public, anyone can see any of the photos or videos. And often kids take a lot of selfies and selfie videos.
  • What should I know?
    • You need to know that even if your child’s account is ‘private’ strangers are able to request to follow him or her. 
    • You need to know that your child can search anything on Instagram, and even harmless searches can turn up some pretty tricky photos.  Check out the examples below.

how to talk to kids about instagram | teachmama.com

how to talk to kids about instagram | teachmama.com

  • You need to know that often young users get crafty and clever with accounts.  Often kids change names and create ‘dummy’ profiles like [bob]is.my.bff or I_love_big_feet or cool.kids.of.blakems or you get the idea.  How will your child feel if he or she is not one of the bffs or cool kids or pretty girls or hot guys?  How will you feel if you find out your child has created one of these exclusive accounts?
  • You need to know that if your child’s profile is public, anyone can comment on it–and you have no control over comment moderation. That means that if some crazy person writes something crazy on your kid’s photo, it’s stuck there until the kid deletes the photo.  If your underage child reports another user for inappropriate content, then what?

 

how to talk to kids about instagram 6  teachmama.com

 

how to talk to kids about instagram 5  teachmama.com

  • You need to know that your child can monitor other users’ behavior.  And if your child’s profile is public, other people can monitor his or her behavior.  Again, with young users who are already vying for each other’s attention, this is something to think about.  All you need is one kid to follow a suspect account or start interacting with said suspect account for others to soon follow suit.

 

how to talk to kids about instagram 6  teachmama.com

  • You need to know that your child can add a photo map to his or her account. Honestly, maps or gps locators are never a good idea when it comes to social media, no matter who you are. Who really wants the world to know where he or she is 100% of the time?

 

how to talk to kids about instagram 6  teachmama.com

 

  •  How should I support my child if he/she is already using Instagram?
    • Monitor, monitor, monitor.
    • Talk, talk, talk.
    • Insist your child has a private profile.
    • Follow your child’s account and follow his or her friends’ accounts.
    • Follow your child’s friends’ parents’ accounts.
    • Approve your child’s followers.
    • Require all electronic devices to be ‘parked’ in a designated charging spot by a certain time each night.
    • Create a Family Media Agreement–decide upon some rules and regulations that best suit your child and your family and stick to them!

create a family media agreement | teachmama.com

 

 

This is by no means an exhaustive list of how-to’s. It’s just the beginning. And it will hopefully open up a dialogue between you and your children about Instagram and other social media sharing platforms.

And rather than screaming NO WAY and slamming the door on your child’s request to use Instagram (or any platform that you are not comfortable permitting), consider giving your child an alternative.

Say, I’m not comfortable with you using Instagram right now because you’re ten years old and Instagram Terms of Service require you to be 13 in order to use it. They set those rules for a reason, and we will follow them. Instead why don’t you try:

What works for you? 

Is your child on Instagram or another social media platform? 

How do you keep your child safe online, or what guidelines has your family found most effective? We’d love to hear it!

digital kids | teachmama.com

Want some more on digital literacy?  Check out our digital kids posts for more.

 

Or check out these other posts about kids & Instagram: 

nighttime reading with elementary schoolers: make it a date

nighttime reading with elementary schoolers teachmama.com

We’re back in business. nighttime reading with elementary schoolers | teachmama.com

School’s in session, and we’re all slowly but surely trying our best to adjust to our new fall schedules.

And we’re tired.

I mean it. Tired.  Kids are tired. Parents are tired. Everyone’s tired.

I know it will get easier, but man.

There’s nothing like those first few Friday afternoons of the school year, especially a Friday after a five-day week.

It’s literally all I can do to keep my kids composed from school to home.  They’re beat. They’ll cry at the drop of a hat, and they’re quick to argue, pick, and prod.

So especially because it’s a new school year and we’re all picking up new routines and schedules, it’s uber-important for us to sit down with our kids and read with them before bed. 

Really. No matter how old our kids are. Even if they’re in elementary school or middle school.

If they want to read with us, we should be game for it.

Make it a date.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Nighttime Reading with Elementary Schoolers–Make it a Date:

Put a reading schedule on the calendar in ink, rotating the days you read with each kiddo. Or read together. Or do it according to books. Read one book with one kid and while you do so, the others can read silently in their rooms.

I know very few of us have kids the same age, with the same interests, who want to read the same books.

You’ll figure it out.

Bottom line is that a lot can go down during bedtime reading, so it’s way too important to give up.

Kids want to hang with us. They most often think we’re pretty cool. So that guaranteed time at night is a super time for them to open up about school, friends, concerns, and dreams.

 

3 Reasons to Read with Your Elementary Schooler Every Night:

nighttime reading with elementary schoolers | teachmama.com

*****************

Bedtime Reading Strategies: birth to independent reading:

bedtime reading strategies | scholastic

Not sure where to begin? What books to read with your crew?

No fear. Check out Maggie McGuire’s Top 100 Books that Parents Love to Read to their Kids as a start.

It can be anything. The most important thing is that you’re reading. With your littles. No matter their age.

 

What’s your favorite bedtime read? I’d love to hear it! Share it in the comments!

Cheers, and happy reading during this incredibly exciting journey!

how to get kids to talk about school: what every parent must know

how to get kids to talk about school: what every parent must know | teachmama.com

As a paid Quaker Classroom AmbassadorI am eager to share information about Quaker Up For Classrooms.   how to get kids to talk about school: what every parent must know School is underway for us, and what I’m realizing more and more is that it’s sometimes tough to get my kids to talk about school. As a parent, I’m curious. I want to know everything:

  • Who did they sat with at lunch?
  • Who did they play with at recess?
  • How do they like their tablemates?
  • What book did they start in Guided Reading?
  • Who hosted the morning tv show?

But it’s hard. The kids are tired at 3pm, they’re even more tired at 7pm, and the last thing they want to do is talk to boring old Mom about school. So I have to get creative–and I know I’m not the only one. Hopefully these tricks for getting kids to talk about school will help you get a little more info from your little loves about what goes on in their lives, 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. Here’s the skinny. . .

  • How to Get Kids to Talk About School:

The most important thing here is that we really have to read our own kids, not be too pushy, and try to let the conversations evolve naturally.  And we need to listen. Seriously. I know–not always easy. So I’ve found that with my three kids, I’ve tried three different approaches: 1. direct questions; 2. group questions; 3. distracted questions. how to get kids to talk about school direct questions  teachmama.com 1.  direct questions: Most often, numero uno–direct questions–are a complete and utter fail for me. Save for those rare occasions when the stars are aligned, the odds are rarely ever in my favor for this technique. I ask questions, and I get quick, abbreviated responses that hardly make sense.  Even with open-ended questions the kids don’t want to chat this way with me.

me: How was recess? (This must be a subject they’ll want to talk about! )

kid: Fine.

me: Whadja play?

kid: Lotsa stuff.

me: What was your favorite game?

kid: Everything.

me: Who’d ya play with most?

kid: Everyone.

me: Awesome.

Never fear. Numero dos and tres have yielded better results for me. how to get kids to talk about school group questions  teachmama.com 2. group questions: Group questions often work for us. They often work especially around the dinner table and when we’ve got an audience, even if that audience is Dad. Because really? Dad’s mucho awesome. He’s not hangin’ around the house as much as me, so he’s almost extra-special something. And if we mix things up a bit, they almost always work.

  • Speed answer: Go around the dinner table and everyone gives a quick, one or two word answer to the same question.
  • Ball toss: Everyone answers the same question, though not at the same time.  The speaker holds a ball. He or she tosses the ball to the next person, and that person answers. This one is great for after school, after snack, out in the back yard.
  • Hula hello: Give kids a hula hoop and they answer as many questions as they can while hula-hooping.
  • Question train: You start with one question and choose a person to answer. That person answers and asks another question to the next person. And so on and so on.

how to get kids to talk about school distracted questions  teachmama.com 3.  distracted questions: One of my dear friends suggested that chatting with tweens and teens is best conducted this way–while you’re both doing something.

  • Snack chat:  While everyone’s eating a snack and before homework starts, chat school.
  • Kitchen helpers: Having one kid help prepare dinner has been hugely helpful in opening the door to conversation about school. While kids are cutting veggies, mixing mac and cheese, or emptying the dishwasher, they often want to talk to pass the time.
  • Travel convo: When kids are held captive in the car and as you’re schlepping everyone from soccer and piano lessons and then back again, ask questions. Though often for me, my kids really want to zone out in the car, sometimes, they’re pretty chatty. Again, depends on the day.
  • Chore chats:  Many times I remember chatting with my mom while she (or I) was ironing or folding wash. Not sure why, but maybe there’s something there for moms and daughters.
  • Game gabble: Owen is a gamer, and he always has been. So often he’s opened up most to me or my husband during games of War, Battleship, Monopoly, or Rummy. Again, it’s the busy hands and relaxed atmosphere that may help.

how to talk to kids about school | teachmama.com

print it out: how to talk to kids about school 2014 teachmama.com

Now.  What should you ask? Though I’m no expert, from what I’ve heard and read, you should do a whole lot more listening than talking. We want our kids to know that we’re listening to what they say and that our ears are open. So put the cell phones down. Close the laptop. Let that iPad rest. And when you do say something, paraphrasing is key. It’s like putting money in the bank. When you paraphrase, you’re simply putting what your child just said into your own words. When you paraphrase, it lets your kiddos know that you’re listening. And sometimes when you ask questions that count–that get them thinking or get them interested, they’re more likely to answer. Consider asking: 

  • What book are you reading?
  • What was the best part of your lunch?
  • Who was absent from class today?
  • Who was on the morning announcements?
  • What did you play in PE?
  • Will you let me guess your favorite part of the morning/ afternoon/ day?
  • If your day was a movie, what would the title be?
  • What color was your day?
  • Which Olympic medal would you give today?
  • What do you hope is different tomorrow?

And really? Cross your fingers. But first, print out this pretty little cheat cheet: how to talk to kids about school 2014 teachmama.com . . . and have an awesome year!

Do you have any secrets that work for you? I’d love to hear them! Leave them in the comments! Check out the other two posts that will help make this year awesome: happy first day flowers for teachers, secretaries, or principal           easy ways to support teachers: back to school #quakerup | teachmama.com

fyi: Thank you to Quaker and AdoptaClassroom.org for creating this program. I am proud to be a Quaker Classroom Ambassador.  Quaker is providing the prizes for this program at no cost to me. This program is not administered or sponsored by Quaker or its affiliates, but solely by teach mama media, llc. 

teach kids game playing etiquette

teach kids game playing etiquette | teachmama.com

Originally published 12/7/09 but republished today because, well, it’s worth it–

 

teach kids game playing etiquette | teachmama.com

When I first started teaching, in order to make ends meet, I ran several after-school activity clubs at an elementary school near the high school where I taught.

I headed anything from Craft Club to Calligraphy Club to Board Game Club to Chess, Checkers, and Mancala.

I ended up doing about a million sessions of Chess, Checkers, and Mancala because the same group of kids signed up for every single session for three straight years.

What I learned–among many things–is these little “gamers” were skilled at the games but were not skilled at game playing etiquette.

They knew the rules, but not that they couldn’t be sore losers or no one would want to play with them next time. They could talk a good game but cried when the first guy jumped his king. All I needed was one big, unstoppable, messy, dramatic (and I mean dramatic) tear-fest with a few first, second, and third graders before I knew something needed to change.

So I organized detailed tournaments to guide their games, but I also set up two specific rules that every little player needed to follow. And that’s today’s Quick Trick.

  • Game Playing Etiquette: Since Owen and Maddy have officially moved into ‘game playing’ mode, they, too, have officially demonstrated some really frustrating sore-loser behavior. And rule stretching. And crying if one person draws a better card. And quitting if the next person completes a longer snake in Hissss, a higher card for WAR, a smarter move in checkers.

So recently, I’ve had to enlist my old ‘Chess, Checkers, and Mancala’ rules on my own little ones, and it takes a lot of practice. It’s a work in progress.

Here’s the skinny in two steps:

1. Before games begin, everyone shakes hands, looks directly into their opponent’s eyes, and says, Good luck.

2. At the end of the game, same thing: players look directly into their opponent’s eyes, and–win or lose–they say, Good game.

For my Chess, Checkers, and Mancala guys, if they forgot a step, the game was declared null and void, and an immediate re-start was in order, no matter how far they were in the game. I had to witness each handshake to make the games official. (Gosh, I was tough.)

With Maddy, Owen, and Cora, I haven’t been that hardcore, but usually someone remembers before we start.

And yes, these messages might seem cold, impersonal, and forced, but my intention was to get the players to look at each other and touch each other so that they remembered they were playing with a peer and not their parent (who might usually let them get away with this kind of behavior).

I also knew that some guys did want to cry at the end if they lost, so ‘good game’ might be the only thing they could manage to say.

It’s certainly not an instant remedy for sore losers or bratty players, but I think–hope–pray?— it may be a step in the right direction. Only time will tell. . . .

Until then, good luck!

 

 

fyi: affiliate links are used in this post

positive affirmation notes for kids: lunchbox love

positive affirmation notes for kids teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

positive affirmation notes for kids: lunchbox love

Countdown’s on for the new school year, so I’ve been at work making a new set of lunchbox love notes.

In the past, we’ve covered joke notes, we’ve covered puzzle notes, fun fact notes, and travel inspired notes. We did a closer look notesKindergarten notes, and more jokes.

But this time I really wanted to so something that I think might help the kids in a different way as they move into the new year: positive affirmations for kids.

My girls have seen something similar when we made our Awesome Me boxes a while back, but Owen hasn’t.

And really, boys and girls both can stand to have some reminders of how awesome they are.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Positive Affirmation Notes for Kids–Lunchbox Love:

When I hear the words ‘positive affirmations’ I still can’t help but call to mind the old corny Saturday Night Live skits of Stuart Smalley’s I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And doggone it, people like me.”

Nerdy. Silly. And soooooo funny.

positive affirmation notes for kids: lunchbox love

 

But as funny as I found–and still find–Stuart Smalley, I still believe that all that positive talk does help.

It really does.

Claude Steele back in the 1980’s focused on the effects of self-affirmation, and research today, though a bit mixed, votes predominantly in favor of the power of positive self-talk.

All kids can benefit from a little dose of positive self-talk.

positive affirmation notes for kids: lunchbox love

positive affirmation notes for kids: lunchbox love

Especially as my oldest moves from a tween to a teen, I know she needs to hear that she’s awesome.

As my boy moves from a little guy to a tween (oooooh maaaay gosh. . . ), I know he needs to hear that he’s awesome.

And as my baby moves from a little fish to a bigger fish in the elementary school pond, I know she needs to hear that she’s awesome.

And they all need reminders about how to treat people and how to let others treat them.

positive affirmation notes for kids: lunchbox love

positive affirmation notes for kids: lunchbox love

 

So I’m  hoping these Positive Affirmation Notes do just that–for each of them.

I printed three copies of each of the sheets, and there are 24 little notes on two sheets and one blank sheet so I can write in my own.

Though with our other notes, I usually give them all the same note on the same day, with these, I will mix it up–give each kiddo a specific note when it seems they need it most.

And it won’t be an everyday thing–I’ll add some of the jokes here and there, the holiday ones, and ones I write in as we go. The last thing I want them to be is annoyed with them. positive affirmation notes for kids: lunchbox love

lunchbox love- positive affirmations for kids _ teachmama.com

 

Here’s the pdf to download and use as you’d like: lunchbox love- positive affirmations for kids _ teachmama.com

Feel free to share.

The more kids who get these in their lunch, in their binders, or on their pillows at night, the better. Right?

 

Want a look at all of our lunchbox looooove notes? Here they are:

Need more awesome Back-to-School lunchy ideas? Definitely check out:

Here’s to a rockstar 2013-2014 school year and many more to come!

fyi: feel free to use the affiliate links below to make your kids’ lunches awesome

happy first day flowers for teachers, secretaries, or principal (& giveaway!)

happy first day teacher flowers teachmama.com

As a paid Quaker Classroom Ambassador, I am eager to share information about Quaker Up For Classrooms.

 

Back to school time is here.happy first day flowers for teachers, secretaries, or principal

And for many teachers and school employees, that means this is the busiest time of the year.  Busiest.

And with busy often comes stress.

For us, flowers often make a lot of that stress disappear.  Or. . . okay. If not disappear, then at least lessen.  A little.

So we share our de-stressors with those people with whom our kids will be spending the greater part of their little lives for the next 180 days: teachers.  

We love to share happy first day flowers with our new teachers, secretaries, or principal that first week of school–as a way to say thank you, welcome back, and let’s make it a rockstar year.

Though it may seem like this is a huge expense for us, it’s not. We’ve got some secrets to share.

And? I’ve got a super-fun, huge and awesome gift pack to give away to de-stress your life.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Happy First Day Flowers for Teachers, Secretaries, or Principal:

Whether your kiddos bring flowers for their teachers or the office staff, it doesn’t matter.

The idea is that we’re giving great people big thanks for doing hard work.  If your kids are hesitant to bring flowers for their teachers on the first day, it’s cool.

 

happy first day flowers for teachers, secretaries, or principal

happy first day flowers for teachers, secretaries, or principal | teachmama.com

 

First, we hit our local thrift store.

You got it. The under-used, often forgotten little gem that yields more surprises than you’d ever think. We love our thrift store, and we’re lucky that we’ve got a great one very close to us.

We buy enough small flower vases to cover everyone we need. Sometimes we’ve done just teachers. Some years we’ve done just office staff. It’s always different.

Often the vases are $. 25 to $ .50! And sometimes? They’re half price!

Serious deal.

 

happy first day flowers for teachers, secretaries, or principal | teachmama.com

 

happy first day flowers for teachers, secretaries, or principal | teachmama.com

 

Then we hit the grocery stores.

We buy several bouquets of flowers–whatever is on sale.

I’m betting that if money is tight for you and you hit a local florist and explain what you’re doing, they’d be quick to offer you some donations. Everyone loves teachers, and most people are thrilled to say thank you to them.

 

happy first day flowers for teachers, secretaries, or principal | teachmama.com

 

happy first day flowers for teachers, secretaries, or principal | teachmama.com

And then? The fun part–the part that my kids love: filling the vases.

We do a mix of monochromatic and mixed arrangements, and really? They all look beautiful. How could they not?

We finish them off with a pretty ribbon, and they’re ready to go.

Our Happy First Day Flowers put a smile not only on our faces–but they put smiles on the recipients’ as well.  

 

These little ‘Happy First Day Flowers’ can be used any time of the year–and honestly, if they’re for no occasion, the better.

Everyone loves to get flowers. Everyone.

Especially surprise flowers.

 

—————————————————————

GIVEAWAY: Here’s what our Quaker gift pack looked like–yours will be similar!

 [comments are closed! Alicia C chosen winner by random.org]

GIVEAWAY: a ROCKSTAR Quaker Gift Pack that includes a variety of back-to-school items and Quaker products, including:

  • An LED Light-up Alarm Clock featuring a color-changing display, dual alarm clock perfect for busy families and music player compatible with any music-playing device
  • A Travel Oatmeal Bowl & Spoon Set for breakfast on-the-go
  • A Collapsible Lunch Container ideal for packing school snacks and lunches in one
  • A $25 Visa gift card to create your very own teacher appreciation gifts
  • A variety of specially-marked AdoptAClassroom.org Quaker products, including Quaker Instant Oatmeal, Life Cereal and Quaker Oatmeal Squares
  • Total giveaway value is approximately $92.00

Do you want to win a Quaker Gift pack? YES! Yes, you do!

 

All you have to do is leave a comment here telling me the name of your favorite teacher and why you loved him or her.

 

For extra entries, get creative, yo!!:

  • Share this post on your Facebook page–very easy!
  • Share this post with a friend (just tell me who you shared it with!)
  • Pin this post on Pinterest! (Use ‘pin it!’ button below post!)
  • G+  this post on Google+  (Use the G+ button below post!)

 

By entering this super-quick giveaway, you are demonstrating your understanding of and compliance with the Official Sweepstakes Rules.

HURRY! This giveaway ends Friday, September 5, 2014 at midnight ET. Winner will be chosen by ‘And the Winner is. . .’ and will be notified on or around 9/05/14.  Winner must respond within three (3) days of notification or forfeit the prize, in which case an alternate winner will be selected.  All Official Sweepstakes Rules apply.

 

fyi: Thank you to Quaker and AdoptaClassroom.org for creating this program. I am proud to be a Quaker Classroom Ambassador.  Quaker is providing the prizes for this program at no cost to me. This program is not administered or sponsored by Quaker or its affiliates, but solely by teach mama media, llc. 

 

let kids play: remembering the importance of free time outdoors

let kids play: remembering the importance of free time outdoors | teachmama.com

sponsored post

 

 

 

let them play  importance of free time outdoors for kids  teachmama.com.png

It’s easy for parents to fall into the trap of thinking that summer means camps, amusement parks, pool trips, beach, camping, picnics, and activities nonstop.  Busy, busy, busy.

And when we’re not going, going, going, many of us feel guilty.

Like our kids always must be doing something.

And it’s easy for parents to fall into the trap of thinking that ‘downtime’ means ‘plugged in’ time: free play on an electronic device–a tablet, phone, iPod, computer, DS, Wii, or whatever.  Our kids are learning, right? And having fun? So it’s all good.

But what I am realizing more this summer than ever is that our kids need down time outdoors.

They need it for their mind, body, and spirit.

Like good, ole-fashioned nothing planned, nothing scheduled, just backyard, outdoor fun.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Let Kids Play–Remembering the Importance of Free Time Outdoors:  I think because my kids are getting older–10, 8, and 7–that it’s easy for me to forget that they still really need a whole lot of free play time outdoors.

Though it’s no secret that I am an advocate for parents doing what they can to sneak in some learning into their children’s days (it’s what I’ve been writing about for almost six years now–and boy, the tabletop surprises have really taken off!), I’ve also written many times about the importance of free play and time outdoors.

let kids play: remembering the importance of free time outdoors

let kids play: remembering the importance of free time outdoors

And I still often get emails and questions:

How can parents set kids up for free time outdoors? 

What do you say when you ‘unleash’ your kids in the wilds of your back yard and they mope around, complaining that they ‘don’t have anything to doooooooo’?

My kids don’t have neighbor friends like yours do. How do they play outside alone?

How do you ‘force’ your kids to play outdoors if the kids don’t really like being outside? 

 

let kids play: remembering the importance of free time outdoors

 

I don’t know all of the answers, but I do know this: some kids need a little help. They need a little nudge. They need a little guidance in how to play and what to do when they’re handed free time on a silver platter, and here’s how parents can help:

  • Ask questions:Why do you think this bush has thorns? What do you see over there hiding in the grass? How many sounds do you hear? 
  • Make observations: I cannot believe how gorgeous that bird’s feathers are!  Look at those tiny toadstools!  Have you ever seen a leaf with so many colors?

 

let kids play: remembering the importance of free time outdoors

 

let kids play: remembering the importance of free time outdoors

 

  • Get dirty: Jump in the puddle at the end of your front staircase!  Splash in the muddy water under your swings!  Tear apart a flower that is on its last leg!
  • Be still: Lay on a blanket and look at the clouds. Just sit in the sunlight on a porch swing and enjoy the sun on your face.
  • Take risks: Put a few peanuts out on the porch and see if the squirrels come for a snack.  Buy a bag of birdseed and feed the birds. Look under a rock and see what’s there.

 

let kids play: remembering the importance of free time outdoors

We’re pretty sure that Cora pulled apart a walnut here. . . we think.

 

  • Move out of your comfort zone: If your kids aren’t comfortable outside, could it be because you’re not 100% comfortable outdoors? Think about it. Try to spend a little bit more unstructured time outdoors if you can, and drag your kids along. See if it gets easier. See if it becomes more natural as time goes on.
  • Play together: Throw a baseball with your kiddo. Kick a soccer ball. Bounce a tennis ball. Jump rope. Blow bubbles. Dig in the dirt. Plant a garden. Do anything. Just do it together.

It doesn’t matter what you do; the goal is just to get kids outside and eventually to have them enjoy it. Really!

 

let kids play: remembering the importance of free time outdoors

 

Psychology Today ran an article in April 2014 by Darcia Narvaez, Ph.D. which explained the how the benefits of playing outdoors far outweighed the benefits of indoor play. Narvaez says:

Outdoors, a child learns on multiple levels with each new adventure . . . With all of the imaginary castles, lands, creatures, the brain develops at a much faster rate than for those who play indoors. There are numerous effects. Not only do they become better learners, and do well in school, but they are more fun to be around (i.e. they make more friends)–everyone wants to play with the kid with the active imagination! Consequently, children will be much happier because, hey, they’re smart and they have a lot of friends. All of this comes from just playing outside; you can bake many loaves in the same oven.  (Psychology Today. “What’s Better: Indoor or Outdoor Play?” April 5, 2014)

Narvaez also goes on to explain the physical effects of outdoor play on children. She explains that starting outdoor play while kids are young will have long-lasting effects: Years down the road, the child will still be more active and less likely to be overweight. If you think about this, it makes perfect sense; teach a child when they’re young to love the outdoors and they will love it forever.  The article’s really worth reading, especially if your kiddos (or you!) need more convincing. 

And really, that’s it. Just a good reminder for everyone to give our kiddos the ‘go’ to play outdoors and to just be kids. Because really? They need it.  We all do.

 

fyi: This post was written as part of a partnership with Mosquito Squad.  May seem totally random, I know, but it’s because of Mosquito Squad that this year our family has really been able to enjoy our yard again.  Thank GOODNESS.  

Living in the hot, muggy DC Metro area means that we have our fair share of mosquitos. Up until this year, our yard was basically unusable, awful, and painful from mid-June through mid-September; we would literally be eaten alive by mosquitos at any time of the day. This year, it’s been incredible and a totally different experience. Mosquito Squad takes care of our yard, and we are  happy campers (except thank goodness we’re not really camping–).   

As always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my experience as an educator and a parent, and of course by my three little outdoor explorers. 

find out more about Mosquito Squad | find answers to FAQ about Mosquito Squad 

tweet with Mosquito Squad (find your local branch and connect from there!)

@MosquitoMDsquad   |  Facebook chat with Mosquito Squad 

MosquitoMDsquad on Pinterest  |  MD Mosquito Squad blog  |   MD Mosquito squad on g+

what to say when kids make reading mistakes

what to say when kids make reading mistakes teachmama.com

originally published on 8/5/10 but sharing again because we all need these refreshers. . . 

 

what to say when kids make reading mistakes teachmama.comSo what should you say when a child makes mistake during reading?

I’ve been asked this question so many times by my friends, by parents of students I tutor, and by many, many readers of this blog.

And because we’ve run into this situation most recently this week after our trip to the library for fish books, I thought I’d share some ways that parents–and teachers–can handle those tough, uncomfortable times when kids make reading mistakes.

These are ways that I handle times when Maddy makes mistakes, these are the things I said when I listened to her classmates read when I volunteered at her school, and these are things I say when I’m tutoring and working with students.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • What to Say When Kids Make Reading Mistakes: Sure, our first inclination is to just give kiddos the word–especially if we’re in a time crunch or if the child is an especially slow reader.

Child: Something must be wr-wr wh-whh. Wrrroooo. Wruu. I don’t know.

Parent: It’s ‘wrong’. ‘Wrong.’ ‘Something must be wrong with. . .’

Child: Oh. ‘Something must be wrong with the sun to-today.’

The kiddo gets off easy and will soon learn that all he has to do is make some feeble attempts at sounding out a word in order to get Mom or Dad–or teacher–to throw him the rope.

We’ve all done it, but it sure isn’t a great habit.

 

When kids blindly choose a book to read,they may run into some reading problemos. Teach them to choose just right books.

There are ways we can use these exciting and (sometimes) trying times during emerging reader read-alouds as jumping off points for learning. If we just keep a few phrases in our back pockets, our kids really might start to become stronger readers before our eyes. . .

When kids won’t even try to sound out a word or they won’t budge, say:

  • Think about the letters you recognize and the sounds they make. What sound does this letter make (point to first letter)? Let me hear you make the sound. Now what sound does this letter make (point to second letter)? Let’s put the sounds together. . .
  • Look at the letters you know in the word and the picture on the page. The picture is here to help you. Think about the sound this letter makes (point to first letter of word) and what you see in the picture. . .

what to say when kids make reading mistakes

  • Think about what’s going on in this story. You just read, (read previous line). Look at the picture, look at the word, and think about what might happen next.
  • Skip the word you don’t know and move to the next word you can read.
  • You might not recognize this word, but I know you know this word (cover the first letter and let him read the part he knows—at from ‘bat’). Think about the sound that ‘b’ makes, put the sounds together, and you’ll have it!
  • You just read this word on the previous page, and you read it correctly. Use your detective eyes, find the word on the other page, and see if that helps.

what to say when kids make reading mistakes

When a child makes an error on a page and moves right on by like nothing happened, even if what she read makes no sense: Let her go! Don’t interrupt mid-reading; instead consider saying at the end of the sentence, phrase, or paragraph:

  • Are you correct?
  • Read it again and check closely.
  • Can you find the tricky part?
  • It’s in this line.
  • I’ll point it out and help you find it.

Use this prompt occasionally even when your child reads the words correctly!

That way she’ll get in the habit of self-monitoring while she’s reading solo.

Remember also to use the above prompts in order–that way beginning with a general question (Are you correct?) will have her go back and check her work without your help and specific direction!

what to say when kids make reading mistakes

what to say when kids make reading mistakes | teachmama.com

If you’d like to have these prompts as a pdf, you may download what to say when kids make reading mistakes.  It has a little more explanation and information and will hopefully be something worthwhile to keep on hand!

Cheers, and happy reading during this incredibly exciting journey!