3 for real things you should do with your kids this summer

3 for real things you can do with your kids this summer cover

3 for real things you can do with your kids this summer

Emails and magazines and pinterest and facebook and twitter and the newspaper are all chock full o’ great and crazy ideas for parents right now, and I’ll be honest–I’m overwhelmed.

So rather than try to do it all–and rather than ignore it all–I’ve whittled it down to 3 for real things you can (and should) do with your kids this summer.

I say ‘for real’ because how many of us have pinned 8 million things on our pinterest boards with the intention of ‘really, really doing it this summer’ with our kids?

How many magazine pages have you ripped out and shoved in a folder (or your purse) with the goal of ‘really, really making that recipe for the July 4th picnic–or whatever)?

Why are these ‘for real’? Because you’ll make habits out of them. That’s why.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • 3 For Real Things You Can Do With Your Kids This Summer:

1.  Word-A-Day Cards: Really. Check it out. Printables for your family that feature a word a day.

Talk words at breakfast. Use ‘em throughout the day.  Do it. After the initial pain of printing and cutting, you’ll have them, and  you’ll be surprised at how much your kids will look forward to them.

They’ll even get into adding their own. Soon the whole family will be involved.


2.  Everyday Journals or Everyday Name Books:  It’s just about getting into the habit of doing something at the same time every day.

Whether it’s the name books for little guys or the journal for the bigger guys, do something. Do it after the pool or as a wind-down from camp; do it before breakfast or after lunch.

It’s something. And it totally counts.


3.  Read: C’mon. Reading is easy.  You can read anywhere, any time, and it all counts.

Get yourself psyched for summer reading–because I get it–we sometimes have to psyche ourselves up for these kinds of things.

Need a few books to get your kids back into the reading game? Here are five books that will get them excited about reading this summer, and 10 ways to make reading a priority for your family.


3 things. You totally have this. And if you can’t do all three? You know what? It’s fine.

Pick one and run with it.

Your kids will thank you for it.

we teach ebooks cover

And? When you’re really running hard and need some more inspiration head to we teach for these totally free rockstar eBooks.

Member-created and packed full of awesome ways to sneak some learning into your every day.

top 10 ways to talk to kids about books

talk to kids about books

op 10 ways to talk to kids about booksSometimes it’s all we can do to just read with our kids.

And honestly? That counts.  Big time.  So we should be happy if we’re reading with our kids. Woot!

But it’s also the talking with kids about the books that really packs a punch.  The payoffs are huge for kids in terms of reading comprehension skills, listening skills, speaking skills, and more.

Not to mention by talking to our kiddos about books, we’re helping them to develop a longtime love and appreciation for reading.  And we all want that, right? Right.

So here are the top 10 ways to talk to kids about books so you have them in one happy place for your summer reading pleasure.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Top 10 Ways to Talk to Kids About Books: Get ready. It’s life changing.

1.  Make connections.  Make connections between kids and characters in the book.  Make connections between what happens in the book and what has happened in your life. Make connections between what happens in the book and what happens in the world around you.

top ten ways to talk to kids about books connecting

2.  Make predictions.  Get kids thinking about what will happen in the book before they read.

3.  Activate schema. Use what kids already know to talk about topics in the book. Get their brains moving before the reading begins.

top ten ways to talk to kids about books predicting

4.  Ask questionsModel strong questioning by thinking aloud as you read.  Talk about your questions and show your child how asking good questions helps them to better understand what they read.

5.  Go on a book walkSometimes, reading doesn’t have to be reading every word on every page. Book walks are a great way to talk about the book–without reading it.

6.  Make inferences. Bring together big concepts by using what you know, what you read, and what you think will happen in the book.

top ten ways to talk to kids about books illustrat

7.  Think deeply. Kids can really surprise you if you aim high.  Show them how to think deeply about what they read by asking hard questions and modeling critical thinking.

8.  Look at the book’s printTalk about the print in the book, the layout, the words on the page.

top ten ways to talk to kids about books visual

9.  Talk about the picturesUse the illustrations to pull together ideas, discuss the illustrator’s craft, and to strengthen comprehension.

10.  Visualize. Make mind movies, images in the mind.  Visualizing is one of the key components of comprehension; if kids can visualize, they’re most likely understanding what they read!




schools out top 10 series by kbn

This post is part of the School’s Out: A Top 10 Series by KBN,  where over 25 Kid Bloggers from the Kid Blogger Network are sharing Top 10 Ideas to do with your children over your School Break!  Many thanks to Becky from This Reading Mama for organizing the series and to Kim from The Educators’ Spin On It for setting up the collaborative Pinterest board. Here’s the Schedule of what’s coming this week:

Sunday ~ This Reading Mama | The Educators’ Spin on It | Kitchen Counter Chronicle | Rainbows within Reach | Kindergarten & Preschool for Parents & Teachers | Monday ~ Train Up a Child Learn as We Go | Housing a Forest | Royal Baloo | Living Montessori Now | Tuesday ~ Toddler Approved | Play Trains! | 3 Dinosaurs | Wednesday ~ The Outlaw Mom | Teach Beside Me | Hands On as We Grow | Thursday ~ JDaniel 4’s Mom | All Done Monkey | Fantastic Fun & Learning | KC Edventures | Playing with Words 365 | Friday ~ Teach Mama | The Usual Mayhem | Nature and Play | True Aim Education | Saturday ~ Creative World of Varya | Craftoart | My Buddies and I

give words as a gift: word conscious kids use wordle

give words as a gift

playing with words

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

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

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

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

Here’s the skinny. . .

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

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

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

I entered http://teachmama.com and I came up with the following wordle designs:

teachmama wordle 3

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

teachmama post wordle 2

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

I totally love it.

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

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

give words as gifts

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

give words as gifts

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

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

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

More like a burst of happiness coming from the kids.

give words as gifts

Maddy and Owen’s lists for their Nanny

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

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

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

give words as gifts

Design number one. . .

give words as gifts

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

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


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

Love them.

family meeting highlights

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

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

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

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

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

we teach summer ebook

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

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

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

Here’s the skinny. . .

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

The eBook features:

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

we teach summer ebook chapters

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

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

we teach summer ebook


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

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



we teach summer ebook dividers

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

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

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


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

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

how to get your kids started with texting: texting 101

how to get your kids started with texting: texting 101

post contains affiliate links


How to get your kids started with texting cover


Texting is big.

For tweens, it’s really big.  It’s like the coolest thing ever.

And everyone is doing it (or so they think), and so Maddy has asked for months and months and months to have her very own phone so she can text her friends.  Share photos.  Do all the things she thinks every other 9 year old in the world can do except her.

Quite frankly, my husband and I aren’t ready to get her a phone because we don’t think she needs one–and at 9 years old, she really doesn’t.  We also don’t want to buy her an iTouch just because the other kids have one; we have two iPads in the house, so we don’t feel like we need another device.

It’s tough—a fine line for parents between creating rules and boundaries with technology and supporting them gently by guiding kids into a safe spot.

So this weekend, we took a big step (for us) into the big time: we got our kids started with texting.

We set the kids up with texting on an older phone, and now they are flying high, feeling good, happy little birds.  Like they’re riding the technology cruise ship.

And it’s a start.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • How to Get Your Kids Started with Texting:  We’ve got our kids set up texting on a freebie platform on our old MyTouch phone.

We created a collaborative account for Maddy, Owen, and Cora under TextPlus Free account.  It’s free, and there are ads, so be forewarned.

get kids started with texting

 The kids’ phone which functions only as an android device and not a phone, phone.

However, our kids are pretty good about not touching ads in freebie games, and at 9, 7, and 6, they have a pretty firm understanding that if they touch these ads on purpose, their time online is over.

You need to be careful with TextPlus Free, though, as the ads run in a bar right under the texting box.  With this program, users get a number to text from, so we shared that number with aunts, uncles, and grandparents.

Then I added each person to the contact list under names the kids would recognize: Grandma cell, Nanny cell, Aunt Mary, Mom cell, etc.

get kids started with texting - 04

Yes, the phone needs a little cleaning. . .

get kids started with texting -

. . . but the kids don’t care.

Our goal with this was simple:

  • to give the kids a bit of controlled freedom as they communicate with family members and friends that we agree upon;
  • to let them have the feeling they have their own technological ‘space’ to have games that we decide upon and to take photos;
  • to give them a chance to show us that they can handle this bit of technological freedom and room to breathe.


get kids started with texting - 04


As protective, first-time parents, we (okay, I) was totally freaking out about this step, so we :

  • set the settings to the loudest spots so we could hear them texting and knew when new texts came in;
  • have a rule that the phone stays in the house and on our main living area, not downstairs or in bedrooms;
  • require that the kids turn off the phone each night and are careful with charging it;
  • removed all programs we could that were not relevant for the kids;

It’s understood that we’re reading along with them, and our first and foremost message was that texting is the same as talking–you interact with respect, kindness, and manners.


get kids started with texting -


get kids started with texting - 04

We’re learning as we go.

Serious parental learning going on over here, but we feel pretty good about this first baby step as we support our kids with this big step: it’s texting 101, parent-style.  Though I use technology every day–many of us do–it is just so important that we walk our kids through these steps instead of throwing them in headfirst or just assuming they know how to handle it.

our digital kids

Are our kids young for this? Probably. But it’s a different day and age, folks, and we’re doing the best we can.


What am I missing? Please let me know if you’ve been here before and if you have advice to share.  Leave ideas in the comments, please!

This post is part of my series: Digital Kids– Teaching, Supporting, and Parenting 21st Century Learners


fyi: this post contains affiliate links

3 all-time best games to play with sight words

3 all-time best games to play with sight words

how to play games with sight wordsWhat games do you play with sight words?

Sight words are words that we all need to be able to read quickly and automatically in order to be strong readers, and the more we allow emerging readers to interact with these words, the better!

There are tons of hands-on ways to play with sight words, but these three games are total winners in our family’s book.  We’ve played them year in and year out with sight words so that Maddy, Owen, and Cora learn these little–but important!–words.

And the great thing? Play them with spelling words, vocabulary words, any words your kids need to learn and know.  Mix it up and play it with numbers and numerals. Bam.

But wait. How do you know which list of sight words to use?

Where do you get the cards that you need in order to play these three games?

Glad you asked.  It’s all right here.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • 3 All-Time Best Games to Play with Sight Words:  Here are three fun and easy games that get your kids playing with–and learning—these important little words.

3 of the All-Time Best Games to Play with Sight Words



So there are just three of my kids’ all-time favorite ways to play with sight words.

But where are the words themselves?

In order to pick up some freebie word cards for playing sight word games, click on the photo of the post to grab some word cards:


go fish--sight words

Go Fish! A fish out of water–games for playing sight words

sight word memory

Sight Word Memory  –All of the word cards are here, including ABC cards

wordo sight words

WORDO! A game for word-learning

Wait. Sight words. High frequency words. Early emergent words, fluency words. Word wall words.

What in the world is the difference?

Essentially, they’re all focusing on words that all readers must know, and commit to memory, in order to be the best readers they can be. That’s it. Many school districts and counties offer their own specific list, or maybe they go with the Dolche or Fry list. The Dolche list is older, the Fry list is more updated.

Word Walls? What? Word Walls are walls in a classroom used as a tool to help teach young readers new words.  Word Walls are just that—words filled with words! Words are placed in alphabetical order and are introduced to children throughout the year, and after introduction, the child needs to lean and know the word.  These words include word family words (-at, fat, cat, mat, etc) and high-frequency words, many of which are sight words.

Need or want more on word wall words?

Need or want more on sight words?

The main thing?  Don’t sweat it. Your kids will learn these words eventually–and the best way to ensure that is to read early–and often!

And okay. . . play some games with sight words as well.  Questions? Let me have ‘em!  I’m happy to help!

reading tips and more: scholastic raise a reader blog

scholastic raise a reader blog cover

scholastic raise a reader blog

It’s been an incredibly exciting 2013 so far, with all of the awesome going on over at we teach and the sweet redesign over here at teach mama.

But another something totally fabulous that makes me want to sing and dance is the new role I have taken on with one of my favorite brands of all time: Scholastic.

Along with my longtime pal and good buddy, Allie McDonald, of No Time for Flashcards, I am anchoring the Scholastic Parents Raise a Reader blog along with the amazing Vice President of eScholastic, Maggie McGuire

Woot. Yes. For real. So awesome, right?

It’s a blog chock-full of reading tips and more, with the focus being on doing just what you think: raising readers.

Right up my alley. Totally my ballgame.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Reading Tips and More–Scholastic Raise a Reader Blog: It’s been months and months–well over a year–that we’ve had this in the works, so the fact that we’re finally up and live is so exciting for us all.

On Scholastic Parents site, the Raise a Reader blog provides:

. . . the latest advice, tips, and resources on helping your child read at every age and every stage. Each week, find kids’ book reviews, ways to extend the reading experience, and tips on how to spark a reader’s interests from our expert contributors and editors.

scholastic raise a reader collage 2

photos from Scholastic Raise a Reader blog

We’ve covered topics such as:

scholastic raise a reader blog collage 1

photos from Scholastic Raise a Reader blog

We’ve also written about:

Allie and I are open to any topic, question, concern, or focus that readers need, so anything you’d like to hear specifically, please let us know.

We’re really excited that on May 6th from 9-10pm ET Allie and I will be hosting a Facebook chat on Scholastic Parents’ Facebook page.  It’s a Summer Reading Kick-Off par-tay of sorts, and we’ll be talking all things Scholastic’s Summer Reading Challenge.

Please join us to find out more about available resources and ways to make summer reading more fun for your crew.  And ask questions! You can submit questions, either below in the comments section or on the Scholastic Parents thread.

Seriously, I love that we’re even close enough to summer to talk summer reading!  Yeee-haw! I can’t wait.


Haven’t had enough of Scholastic yet?

Check out some recent photos from a meeting at the Scholastic building in NYC with some of the Scholastic superstars:


We look forward to chatting with you on May 6th, and thanks for checking us out over at the Raise a Reader blog!

learn about safe online browsing (and win an iPad mini)



I’m so excited to have been invited to be a panelist for a Twitter event this week that brings together digital and families and kids and online safety and wraps it up in one, big pretty package.

It’s a twitter event with CocoonKids for KlaasKids, and we’ll be chatting all things you need to know about how to keep your kids safe online.

Don’t we all want to know how to keep our kids safe online? Omg yeswedo.

And we’ll be giving away an iPad and four $50 Amazong gift cards.


Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Learn About Safe Online Browsing (& Win an iPad Mini): All of the Twitter event details are below.  Looking forward to ‘tweeting’ you later!

Who: anyone and everyone!

What: twitter event to talk about how CocoonKids for KlaasKids keeps kids safe by providing tracking and secure browsing for kids

Why: to learn a little and to (hopefully!) win an iPad mini and one of four Amazon $50 gift cards

Where: twitter, of course! #CocoonKids

When: Wednesday, 4.10.13 from 9-10 pm ET


  1. RSVP with your twitter handle at the CocoonKids blog so you’re eligible for prizes
  2. download the free CocoonKids software if you so choose
  3. connect with @getcocoonkids on Twitter and on Facebook
  4. hit this twitter event how-to post if you need or want the skinny on how to rock a Twitter event.our digital kids

That’s it! Looking forward to tweeting with you on Wednesday night!


Exciting week for us, as we take Digital Kids on the road. . .

fyi: Posting this as a compensated panelist for this event and because I want you there so we all learn a little!

learn through play eBook bundle: spring & summer fun learning

learn through play spring ebook bundle cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the skinny. . .

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

spring book bundle


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

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

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

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

spring book bundle

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

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

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

spring book bundle

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 min reading tricks for raising rockstar readers button

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

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

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

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

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

spring book bundle

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

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


How to buy and download the bundle

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

spring book bundle


A note about mobile devices

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


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

april fool’s family fun: 3 no-fail ways to get kids laughing

april fools family fun: get your kids laughing

april fools family fun I’ve always found April Fools’ time a great excuse to sneak in a few extra laughs, some silliness, some second-glances, and some smiles.  I’ll even take eye-rolls if it comes with a crooked smile.

This year is no different.

I really just focused on food this year, and with the help of some new
Melissa and Doug Sushi Slicing Play Set – Wooden Play Food
and Sweet Treats, with some creativity and super-silliness, I’m pretty sure I’ve found 3 no-fail ways to get my kids laughing.

3 no-fail ways to get any kid laughing.

I’d even say we’ve got 3 no-fail ways to get the prankster laughing, and as long as someone’s laughing, it’s all good.

From breakfast through bedtime, April Fools’ Day can be a laugh every time you turn around.

(Just watch your back–it’s April Fools’ after all.)

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • April Fools’ Family Fun–3 No-Fail Ways to Get Kids Laughing: It doesn’t matter if the kids are totally fooled or not–that’s what we must remember.

It’s about keeping life light, not being serious all the time, and having some fun. Even if kids do double-takes, give these tricks a second glance, or chuckle even a little–it’s a win.

For me, as far as April Fools’ is concerned, it’s about trying.

Here are our 3, no-fail ways to get our kids laughing–

1.Real Food or Not? Let your kids figure it out!  Maddy, Owen, and Cora may not have been totally tricked with I substituted real food for some of their favorite Melissa & Doug toys, but the expression on their faces was priceless when I tried to pull this on ‘em.

april fools family fun sushi

Lunchtime sushi sound indulgent? Not if you grab a pack or two at the grocery store while you’re picking up some last-minute things.  It’s actually pretty affordable–and healthy. And my kids totally dig it.

And when you substitute some play slicing sushi along side?  It’s almost pretty enough to eat.

april fools family fun sushi

What did Owen pick up next? That sashimi?

april fools family fun sushi

Cora’s sushi was ready to go. . .

april fools family fun sushi

. . . and boy was she hungry!

We went a little sweet-happy for a family gathering this week, but before we packed up our little familia in the ole van, Mom played a few little tricks on everyone.

I just added a few real ‘sweets’ to the Melissa & Doug Sweet Treats Tower. . .

april fools family fun sweets

 So pretty.  And looks so tasty!

april fools family fun sweets


I set the Sweet Treats Tower on the table and the kids descended upon it in no time flat.

And when word got out that there were real sweets on the tower? It was all over.


april fools family fun sweets

Awwwwh, Owen thought the strawberry was real!   Got him!


No, but really! Please help me get this tray of sweets ready for Grandma’s house?

I asked Maddy to wrap it before we left, and she gave me a good Moooooom!

A smile!  I’ll take it!

april fools family fun sweets


2. Fake Chicken Wings and celery!  These wings and celery look so real, there’s no doubt your kids will be tricked!

With the help of one of my favorite family magazines, I found this idea totally silly and really do-able.  Lucky for us, we had all ingredients on hand.  And especially because my husband’s been home for Spring Break, this will make a fabulous April Fools’ Day lunch!

april fools family fun  chicken wings

Step 1: prepare Rice Krispie Treats, just the normal recipe.  I have made them for so many years, I know it’s 3 Tablespoons of butter, the whole bag of marshmallows, and then Rice Krispies to taste.

I usually do about a 1/2 a cup less Rice Krispies than the recipe calls for so that they’re extra soft and chewy.

april fools family fun  chicken wings

april fools family fun  chicken wings

Step 2: Form softball sized clumps of Rice Krispie Treat.  And then comes the real fun–forming the treats into chicken wings.

I made three drumsticks and three wings, squeezing the Krispies tightly because I wanted them to be heavy enough to really feel like wings.

april fools family fun  chicken wings

Step 3: Create the ‘wing sauce’.   I used 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar and 1/2 cup of apricot preserves.  I microwaved it for about 45 seconds so that the brown sugar dissolved.

Then I covered the wings in sauce.  This sauce was so sticky, it wasn’t even funny.  Well, it was kind of funny.

april fools family fun  chicken wings

april fools family fun  chicken wings

Step 4: Make the celery and bleu cheese.  I used Laffy Taffy, which was also so totally sticky, but it was easy to mold. my third one was a little rough looking, because my fingers were sticky, but I think it looks fine.

Bleu cheese? Vanilla yogurt.

I covered this with foil and plan to ‘sauce’ the ‘wings’ just before lunch on April Fools’ Day. Watch out, family!


3.  Googly Eyes: I can’t get enough of these. They make me laugh so hard.

april fools family fun  googly eyes

I put my husband to work, adding sets of googy eyes everywhere, just like we’ve done before.

And just like the kids totally love. (Not really.)

But this year, since I was in the Rice Krispie Treat-making mode, I whipped up some real looking eyes that will stare out from the kids’ cereal bowls at breakfast.

I was going to make real googly eyes that the kids could eat!  Eat!

april fools family fun googly eyes

I formed tight little Rice Krispie balls that will function as our eyes, and then I melted white chocolate.

I dipped each ball into chocolate, because eyes are white, right?

april fools family fun  eyes

april fools family fun  eyes

april fools family fun  eyes

And then I added a dark chocolate chip to complete the eye. I really smashed it down so it would dry in the melted white and stay put.

I put them on a plate to cool.

Then into cereal bowls they went–ready for breakfast in the morning.

april fools family fun  eyes

So funny!

When Maddy, Owen, and Cora wake up, I’ll add a little cereal on top, bring the bowl to the table, and see what they do!  Hee-hee! I can hardly wait!

april fools family fun drinks

Jell-O juice for April Fools’? A family favorite!

An oldie but goodie–Jell-O in juice cups.  We have a cranberry mix juice on hand, in our fridge, so I prepared red Jell-O. I just made a layer on the bottom of their cups, and when we pour juice for them in the morning–BAM! It’ll be stuck!

And really? That’s it for this year. I can’t take much more, really, or the fun will do me in.

What’s your favorite April Fools’ Trick? Do tell! I’d LOVE to hear it–and I am already gathering ideas for next year!



More April Fools’ Day ideas: 


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


melissa & doug BA badge 2013

fyi: I wrote this post as part of the Melissa & Doug Blog Ambassador program.   Thank you, Melissa & Doug, for creating toys that keep kids and families smiling–April Fools’ Day or any day!

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

our digital kids

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the skinny. . .

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

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

owen computer


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

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

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


computer time

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anything specific YOU want to learn?  Let me know.

Hope you’ll join me for the ride.

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