teach kids to be smart, strong, and safe: the safety show

teach kids to be smart strong safe

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Talking big topics with your kids is sometimes so hard.teach kids to be smart strong safe

Especially if you’re as emotional a person as I am.

But as our kids get older, these conversations have to be as regular as breathing. We’ve got to talk openly and often about cyber safety, bullying, stranger safety, scary news, hunger, and all those topics we wish didn’t exist but really do.

We’ve got to do everything we can to prepare our kids for this big game of life–the good, bad, and the ugly.

I feel grateful to have the opportunity to work with a brand whose sole focus is to help parents raise ‘good people’.  A lot of what I write about here deals with just that—how we, as parents, can raise kids who are well-rounded, smart, savvy, and safe.

Our kids don’t need to be perfect. We don’t need to be perfect. We just need to be good. people.

So when The Mother Company asked me to check out their new show about keeping kids safe, you know I jumped on the opportunity.

The cool thing is that everyone wins here.

The Mother Company is offering teachmama.com readers three rockstar opportunities: a sweet discount code, the chance to win one of three copies of The Safety Show, and an invite to one of their Safety Show screening parties around the country.

Not kidding.

Here’s the skinny. . .

The goal of The Safety Show? To ‘inspire, inform, and empower’.

 mother co 'the safety show'

 mother co 'the safety show'

I love it.

And it really does.

The Safety Show is about an hour. It takes place in Ruby’s Studio and consists of a series of animated, stop-motion, and music videos –short sketches tied together with the same important theme–staying smart, strong, and safe.

Kids are reminded to:

  • listen to your gut
  • ask for help
  • speak up for themselves
  • own their body.

 mother co 'the safety show'

 mother co 'the safety show'

The Safety Show is easy for kids to relate to because they can connect to the situations in the shorts. They hear the kids speaking and nod because they ‘get’ what they are saying.

This heavy topic isn’t made light with silliness or nonsense in an attempt to make kids laugh to relieve the anxiety they feel; rather, kids are empowered to listen to their ‘uh-oh’ feeling, to ask for help, and to speak up for themselves. They’re learning that it’s okay to say ‘NO.’

Check out a trailer for The Safety Show here:


So great, right?

What I also love is the Boss of My Body video, which you can check out below:

It empowers kids to be the boss of their body under all circumstances–with their peers on the playground, with adults, with friends, with anyone.  No matter their age or size, this song reminds kids that they ‘hold the key to the safety of me’.

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The Safety Show: Launch Events —  are you nearby? The Mother Company would love to have YOU attend their free launch events for The Safety Show!

  • New York: October 19 & 20
  • San Francisco: October 27
  • Chicago: November 9
  • Dallas: November 16

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Special friends & family discount code for all teachmama.com readers

  • 25% off of your entire order when you purchase The Safety Show
  • at checkout use code:  safe143
  • think: family, friends, schools, troops, & more

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GIVEAWAY: one of THREE copies of Ruby’s Studio: The Safety Show 

Do you want to win your own copy of Ruby’s Studio: The Safety Show??!  Yes, yes you do.

Please use the Rafflecopter widget below to throw your name in the hat:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

This giveaway ends Friday, November 1, 2013 at midnight ET and is open to anyone and everyone because the copy of The Safety Show will be available via electronic download. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 11/1/13.  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: This is sponsored post, written as part of The Mother Company’s Blog Ambassador program.  As always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my personal experience as a parent and educator.

why i heart my neighborhood toy store (and you should too!) *sponsored*

why I totally heart neighborhood toy store

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why I totally heart neighborhood toy store

 

I am a longtime fan of the neighborhood toy store.

In fact, I can honestly say that I honest-to-goodness totally heart my neighborhood toy store. And I think you should too.

  • Why I Totally Heart My Neighborhood Toy Store (& You Should Too!):

Not only do neighborhood toy stores boost local economy and develop and enrich communities, these independent retailers keep town centers hoppin’ and keep families smilin’ due to the diverse–often unique–product selection and top-notch customer service.

My own local toy store, Olney Toys, is seated right next to a coffee shop and drug store and was a regular stop on the kids’ and my weekly errands, especially when they were younger.  With a train set and dollhouse out for kids to oogle over and try, there was always a new toy to check out or a pal to chat with.

When I saw the owners of our toy store at Toy Fair this year, I nearly had a heart attack, jumping up and down, dancing, hooting, and hollering. They are great people, and they hugged me like I needed them to, hung out with me for a while, and then went on their merry way.

I like them. I would love, love, love to own my own toy store, so I do really want them to do well.  It’s all awesome.

astra best toys for kids: zingo

We totally and completely heart ThinkFun’s Zingo Sight Words. . .

  • Best Toys For Kids List, 2013: I also want my great readers to be on top of the latest when it comes to best toy recommendations for their kids and loved ones.

Did you know that there’s a non-profit organization called ASTRA (The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association) that provides leadership and resources to grow the specialty toy industry? I didn’t, either, up until a few years ago when I started attending Toy Fair.

 

astra best toys for kids: zingo

. . . which is a smart game for early readers that made ASTRA’s 2013 list!

Each year, ASTRA gathers 650 experts and asks them to create a list of the Best Toys for Kids that year.

They vote on:

  1. a toy’s ability to promote open-ended or creative play;
  2. a toy’s innovative design features;
  3. a toy’s exceptional safety standards.

The 21 winning toys are on a list for kids of all ages, and it’s essentially designed to help toy shopping easier for parents and guardians. I love it.

Check out the ASTRA Best Toys for Kids 2013 list and start doing your holiday shopping (at your neighborhood toy store, of course!).

 

astra best toys for kids: laser maze

Another of our fave toys from the list this year: ThinkFun’s Laser Maze

The good folks at ASTRA are celebrating the fun of shopping for toys at your local toy store with an ‘I Heart My Neighborhood Toy Store’ Sweepstakes.

Through November 8, 2013, log in and win some seriously huge prizes. A family vacation. Crazy toy prizes from fab brands that we all love. Big prizes and lots of ’em.  All well over $200 each.  Check it out.

i heart my toy store sweeps

Go enter for your chance to win and please let me know if you do!

Do you frequent your local toy store? Do you love yours like I love mine?

 

fyi: This is a sponsored post, written as part of the ASTRA Blog Ambassador program.  As always, my opinions and ideas reflect my experience as a parent, teacher, and lover of all things done in the name of learning and fun!

5 reasons families need backyard chickens (no, this is not a joke)

why families need backyard chickens cover

post contains affiliate links

 

 

We love chickens.backyard chickens for families teachmama.com

We really do.

We love backyard chickens.

As in, we love them thanks to two hens who came to us from Rent a Coop here in the DC Metro area and stayed with us for four weeks.

Kiki and Jennifer.

Though they were admittedly not the first chickens we ever knew (my close friends and family are nodding–or shaking their heads– remembering fondly the days of Peepers and Pappy), but they were the first plump, sweet, free-range feathered girls we ever really loved.

And now that they’re gone? We miss them. We talk about them often, and we laugh about the good times we had with them.  The kids do Kiki and Jennifer impressions.

Brady still mopes around our yard, wondering where his feathered sisters have gone.

Have you thought about giving backyard chickens a try? Sure you have.  And now’s your chance. Our friends from Rent a Coop are offering one teachmama.com reader the chance to have backyard chickens for four weeks, just like we did.

Or if the backyard chicken experience isn’t for you, then they’ll let you in on their chick hatching program which we’re trying for ourselves this winter.  Wetotallycannotwait.

 

backyard chickens for families teachmama.com

And we can hardly wait.  Have I said that? We can’t.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • 5 Reasons Families Should Have Backyard Chickens (& How YOUR Family Can Do It):  Backyard chickens may seem crazy, silly, ridiculous to you, but I’m totally convinced that they are an awesome addition to any family.

Clarification: many families.

Sure, with any pet, you’ve got to make sure it’s the right time and that you have the time, effort, and energy to care for them. But these girls? So easy.

 

backyard chickens for families teachmama.com

 

1.  Your family will learn so, so, so much.  We all learned so much about chickens, and we’re still learning.  Our friends learned a ton about chickens.

No one in our world really knows about chickens, which is why having them in our backyard was so much fun.

We learned that chickens love treats.

backyard chickens sept

backyard chickens sept

We learned that our chickens wanted to be close to us and would never wander far.

We learned that chickens like to be held, ride on tire swings, and spend time on tricycles.

We learned that chickens like to drink water from dog bowls.

And we learned a whole lot more.

backyard chickens for learning and fun teachmama.com

2.  Gathering eggs? So fun.  It’s like Christmas morning every time you run out to the coop.  It was the perk of whomever’s day it was to be the one to pick up the eggs.  So fun.

It took Kiki and Jennifer a few days to get into a schedule of laying eggs, but soon they’d each lay one egg sometime late morning.

And what we learned about eggs is that no–even if we didn’t eat the eggs and prayed hard enough they still wouldn’t hatch into chicks.

You need a rooster for that.  You’re nodding your head, right? Now you get it.  Everyone who came to see the chickens wondered the same thing–what makes the eggs hatch? It’s the rooster, yo.  Learned that for myself from the BackYard Chickens FAQs.

Also what’s cool about the eggs is that there you go–you have breakfast right there in your own backyard. Owen learned to make his very first scrambled eggs–all by himself this summer. And he got the eggs from Kiki and Jennifer. We’re like basically self-sufficient over here.

 

backyard chickens for learning and fun teachmama.com

Sometimes Maddy just likes wearing Harry Potter robe around the yard. Jennifer liked it.

3.  Chickens are so easy.  Seriously.  We put their organic feed in the feed bowl and only had to refill it every few days. We did the same thing with their water.   Every week-ish we cleaned out the coop and put in new wood shavings. Voila. Done.

They do not bite, and their pecks are so gentle.

They’ll eat anything almost, and they love treats. (Check out the Chicken Eats & Treats sheet we had hanging in the kitchen for the last four weeks!)

Kiki and Jennifer let Maddy, Owen, and Cora hold them, carry them, love them, hold them, and carry them more.

They actually got along with Brady.  And by ‘got along’ I mean, Brady chased them and they let him.

 

backyard chickens for learning and fun teachmama.com

backyard chickens for family fun and learning

backyard chickens for family fun and learning

4.  Chickens are hilarious.

They look really funny when they run.  And they’ll run for just about any treat.

Want a few more funny chicken videos? head to my Instagram account
They are just plain hysterical to see in a suburban backyard, in the same way that it’s funny for kids to see their teachers outside of the school building. It’s just not–the norm.

So when you are eating breakfast and your pet chicken hops up on your porch and struts by your sliding glass door, the kids will go nuts crazy laughing.

When you’re doing dishes and see your kids holding a chicken on their hips, walking around your back yard or swinging with a chicken on their laps, you’ll laugh.

When you hear your kids tell other people about your chickens? When you all watch a chicken shove its face into a watermelon, peck a tomato, or steal grapes from your hand? All funny.

 

backyard chickens for learning and fun teachmama.com

backyard chickens for learning and fun teachmama.com

5.  Your kids will be so proud. They will love becoming experts on chickens.

They will be beaming as they demonstrate to their friends and neighbors how to properly hold a chicken.

They will love to be able to show family members how awesome their chickens are.

They will love to have people come by to visit and meet your chickens.

 

What you need to think about if you’re considering chickens:

  • chicken poop: Though it’s supposedly great for your grass, it is there as it is with any pet.
  • chickens peck and scratch: If your yard is 100% awesome and perfect, mulch spread out of flower beds may bug you. Our yard? We hardly noticed.
  • HOA rules: Your housing development or neighborhood or county may have rules about keeping backyard chickens.

 

Check out all of our backyard chicken photos:

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Huge thanks to Tyler from Rent a Coop for making our backyard chicken experience so easy.  He rolled on up with our coop and the two sweetest hens around, bringing everything we needed for the whole four weeks.  I had not a clue that we’d love Kiki and Jennifer as much as we did. The experience was so much fun for us all, and we really hope to do it again this spring.

Tyler quickly and patiently answered my wide range of insane texts: They’re not laying eggs! What’s wrong?  (It’s okay–it takes them a day or two to get comfortable–), and he worked around our schedule for drop-off and pick-up.

He didn’t flinch when he came to pick them up and there were 50 kids and adults in the house and yard or when Cora followed him to his van, peeking through the coop window yelling, Bye, Kiki and Jennifer!!! We love you and we will miss yooooooou!!

Cool fact: Tyler makes the coops–as in constructs them himself with recycled materials, and it’s easy to move (you’ll move it around your yard every few days), and it’s predator proof.

Check them out on their Rent a Coop site.  Follow them on their facebook page.  Follow them on twitter and instagram–and bug them like I do to share more photos of their hens.

backyard chickens sept

Let’s just pretend Owen’s wearing matching shoes. . .

backyard chickens for learning and fun teachmama.com

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GIVEAWAY: One 4-week backyard chicken/ coop rental from Rent a Coop OR participation in the chick hatching program for your home or school.

Do you want to win your own 4-week backyard chicken/ coop rental from Rent a Coop OR participation in the chick hatching program for your home or school??Yes, yes you do.

Please use the Rafflecopter widget below to throw your name in the hat:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
By entering this giveaway, you are demonstrating your understanding of and compliance with the Official Sweepstakes Rules.

This giveaway ends Friday, October 11, 2013 at midnight ET and is open to folks here in the DC Metro only; our friends from Rent a Coop can only send their chickens so far, you know. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 10/13/13.  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: This is an unsponsored post, but our family was given the opportunity to try our hand at raising backyard chickens for four weeks in exchange for sharing a bit about Rent a Coop.  As always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my personal experience as a parent and educator–and, of course, my three little chicken-loving littles.

Affiliate links are used in this post.

when talking to teachers: 5 tips for parents

when talking to teachers 5 tips for parents

when talking to teachers 5 tips for parents

As a writer for Scholastic Parents’ Raise a Reader blog, I’m always surprised at what sparks the most conversation among readers.

I recently wrote Talking to Teachers: What Every Parent Needs to Know, and it raised a boatload of emotion over on the Scholastic Parents’ Facebook page.

Really. I was quite surprised.

Check it out.  And tell me. . .

What do you think?

Am I missing the mark?

Do you agree or disagree?

Did any of the comments strike a nerve with you, as a parent or teacher?

Share your thoughts on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page, or find me on twitter, @teachmama, and let’s continue the conversation!

 

 

 

put an end to hunger in america: get the whole family involved

put an end to hunger in america get the whole family involved

put an end to hunger in america get the whole family involved

I’ve thought long and hard about how to get my family involved in helping to end hunger in America, knowing that all around us–in DC Metro suburban community–people are hungry.

Our kids go to school with children who are hungry.

My husband is an administrator in a school where children are hungry.

All around our community, families are struggling to make ends meet. They–and their children–are hungry.

So what can you do to help?  How can you get your family involved in putting an end to hunger in America?   I don’t have all the answers. (Big shocker.)  But I have some.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Put an End to Hunger in America–Get the Whole Family Involved:  A few weeks back, Maddy’s girlfriends met like we meet each month, and our focus was to give back.

We worked all evening making sandwiches for McKenna’s Wagon, a mobile soup kitchen in our area.

end hunger in america making sandwiches

making sandwiches for homeless -

The really special touch? My sweet and smart friend Erin suggested we have our girls and their siblings write tiny notes that we put in each sandwich bag.   She wanted each person who got one of our sandwiches to know that we were thinking about them. I love it.

Before we even opened our first bag of bread, we cut construction paper into strips.  And then we handed each child a few pieces along with a pen, and we wrote, wrote, wrote.

We stressed that even a ‘love, Maddy’ was fine! The kids worked so hard on notes like:

  • Have a good day!
  • We care about you!
  • Made with love!
  • Enjoy!

Their hand-written notes were so special, and I think it was a super-smart touch.

 

making sandwiches for homeless -

end hunger in america making sandwiches 2

Then we made our sandwiches.

Each family brought what they could–a few bags of bread, some meat and some cheese.

And we assembled sandwiches with a force that I swear could move mountains.  The kids worked so hard.  They laid out bread, added meat and cheese and another piece of bread to close it. Put it in a bag. Added a note.

making sandwiches for homeless -

making sandwiches for homeless -

We used the bread bags to hold sandwiches, and in the end made over 300 sandwiches!

The kids felt so good about their hard work.  We have plans to do more work like this in the upcoming months.

Want more about where your family–or small group of friends and neighbors–can donate sandwiches, just like we did?

As a starting point, check out:

hunger in america target feed

the brown cord bracelet, the pillows, and the scarf are part of the Target FEED line

Other ideas:

  • Target FEED: Target has recently partnered with Lauren Bush Lauren and FEED Foundation to create a special product line that supports feeding the hungry in America.  You’ve probably noticed the line at Target this summer, and it will run through October.

Each item has a number on it.  And that number represents the number of meals that will be given as a result of your purchase.  I love the simplicity of this partnership, and I think it’s a thoughtful and wise way of giving back, even with the smallest effort on the consumer’s part.

nyc #FEEDusa event target -

Lauren Bush Lauren and me. . .

nyc #FEEDusa event target -

at the Target FEED USA launch.

nyc #FEEDusa event target -

me and my sweet and smart friend Patrice, of Afrobella

Visit Target FEED to learn about the program, to find out how you can get involved, or to browse the lookbook.

Or visit the FEED site. Buy a bag.  Give a meal.

Take a look at all of my photos from the Target FEED USA launch last June:

SUCH an incredible time!

Encourage your kids–or your neighborhood–to host a bake sale.

Or just totally check out the site. So worth your time, and you can come up with a way to help–together.

dine out go orange campaign

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A ton of great programs exist out there. The important thing? Just do something. And show your kids that you take childhood hunger seriously.

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As the oldest of four girls, I recall vividly a time when when I was very young and my hard-working, union laborer father was laid off of work. And our cupboards were close to bare.

I don’t have memories of being hungry; I was too young to even remember the faces of stress on my parents.  But the stress was there. Food and money for it were not.

And I remember one Sunday afternoon after church, a stranger coming to our door with bags and bags and bags of groceries. He had strict instructions, from a woman who insisted on remaining nameless, to deliver the food to our home. She gave him $20, and he did it.

I can still see that young man’s look of confusion and excitement.  Look what he brought us! But why? How bad off were we?

 

making sandwiches for homeless - 21

 

Our family looks back at this time when our ‘angel’ brought groceries to our home as a sort of miracle, a mystery to us and a reminder that people were good and that things would be okay.  That someone was watching out for us.

But our story is unusual, and unfortunately, it is the exception.

More often than not, families don’t have angels like we had deliver food to their doors.  They rely on churches, schools, government programs, and anti-hunger campaigns to get them through the difficult times.

Let’s do something about it.  Together

And show our kids that it’s important to us.

Not sure what to do? Share this post as a start.

Then think about it, come back, and think some more. Ask your kids what they want to do. And run with it.

Any other ideas? Suggestions? Links to great ideas for ways families can help put an end to childhood hunger? Let me know!

 

fyi: Though I am proud to be a part of the Target Inner Circle program, this is an unsponsored post, written solely because I want to share our own experiences and a few programs that may help other families take action against hunger in our world.

Thank you to Target for sending me to New York City in June to attend the launch of Target FEED USA line.

the new rules of boy world: rosalind wiseman speaks at PEP (ticket giveaway)

the new rules of boy world: rosalind wiseman speaks at PEP (ticket giveaway)

post contains affiliate links

the new ruiles of boy world cover

I have loved what Rosalind Wiseman has to say ever since I read Queen Bees and Wannabes and then Queen Bee Moms and Kingpin Dads several years back.

Both are incredible books that I found remarkably insightful.  Ms. Wiseman understood what was happening in today’s world for parents and kids. She got it.

And she gave me real-world strategies for moving through the tough parts.

This summer, I had the opportunity to sit in on a Skype chat with this amazing woman, thanks to the great people of Montgomery County’s PEP Program. It was awesome.

Ms. Wiseman spoke candidly about the time, effort, research, and energy that she has put into all of her books but most recently in the research and writing of The New Rules of Boy World–her latest book which is due to be released on September 10, 2013.

Actually, this new book is called Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, and Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World. And I even think it’s awesome now that I know how much thought and consideration was put into the title itself–and how the inner circle of boys who helped Wiseman shape this book–also forged the title together.

pep | parent encouragement program

 

Jealous? Don’t be.

No reason to be jealous because now anyone and everyone has a chance to hear her speak about this book and all of the awesome, helpful, mind-blowing research that went into writing it.  Wiseman is coming to the Maret School in DC on September 12th from 7:30 – 9pm.  To talk about the book. And share advice.

And you’re invited.

And you can actually win a pair of tickets to go.  Seriously. And at $25 a pop, that’s a $50 win for you.   Woot.

rosalind wiseman new rules of boy world

 

So grab your spouse, your pal, your bff, and enter this little teachmama.com contest, and cross those fingers. Or if you can’t stand the stress of a giveaway, go ahead and purchase your own tickets and you’re good to go.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • The New Rules of Boy World–Rosalind Wiseman Speaks at PEP (& ticket giveaway):  If you are local to the DC Metro area, I’m hoping you’ll check out this Noted Author Parenting Series speaker, and maybe even decide to check out PEP itself.

PEP is the Parent Encouragement program here in Montgomery County. Just like their motto, they are educating parents and enriching families every single day.  Goodness knows we could all use a little parental encouragement and enrichment some days!

rosalind wiseman

rosalind wiseman

 

Please note: The PEP Author Talk with Rosalind Wiseman will not be organized like the above photo; this was a private Skype chat with the author.  

For more specific information on the event, please visit:

 

GIVEAWAY: TWO tickets (valued at $25 each) to see Rosalind Wiseman speak, thanks to PEP–The Parent Encouragement Program!

Do you want to win tickets to Rosalind Wiseman?! Ummm. . . of COURSE you do!

Please use the Rafflecopter widget below to throw your name in the hat:

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

This giveaway ends Monday, September 9, 2013 at midnight ET and is open to US residents only. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 9/9/13.  Winner must respond within three (1) days of notification or forfeit the prize, in which case an alternate winner will be selected.  All Official Sweepstakes Rules apply.

 

fyi: This is an unsponsored post, sharing a message I feel strongly about from an organization I can firmly stand behind.  I did receive the offer of two complementary tickets to this event; however, I had already purchased two of my own.  But *alas!* September 12th is two of my kids’ Back-to-School Nights, so I cannot make the event, and I am truly disappointed. I’m hoping what whomever goes does share all of his or her notes with me, though!

As always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator–and, of course, my three little loves. Affiliate links are used in this post.

teaching kindness: labor day is neighbor day!

teaching kindness

Kindness is contagious. teaching kindness

Really, it is.

And any time we (and I’m talking you, me–anyone!)  can teach our kids to be kind–just for the sake of being kind–is a win in my book.

Being nice lifts spirits. It lightens moods. It feels good.

The earlier we can teach our kids about kindness, the better.

PBS Kids’ Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is celebrating Labor Day as Neighbor Day this year, and I love it.  Neighbor Day is a day to encourage acts of kindness towards neighbors.  The goal? Show kids that one act of kindness leads to many and that kindness feels good.

It’s a super-important message, and I love it.

And thanks to our friends at PBS Kids, one lucky teachmama reader will receive a rockstar Daniel Tiger gift pack full of super-fun Daniel Tiger goodies just for sharing what his or her family has done to celebrate Neighbor Day.  And let’s face it: if you can’t celebrate Neighbor Day on the actual Neighbor Day (Labor Day) no biggie!

In my book, any day is Neighbor Day!

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Teaching Kindness– Labor Day is Neighbor Day!

We’ve tried to do what we can to teach kindness in our house by:

surprise happy day notes

teach kids to show love

no bullies

But there’s always more we can do.

Which is why I love the idea of Neighbor Day thanks to Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

  • Neighbor Day: On Monday, September 2, Daniel Tiger’s Neighbor Day premiers on PBS Kids. Daniel learns what it is like to do something kind and neighborly and that one act of kindness can lead to many.  YAY! What a happy message!

Check out the PBS Kids site for more activities and ideas: PBS Kids Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

And if your kids are too big for Daniel Tiger?  It doesn’t matter. Just encourage them to do something extra, special and kind on Neighbor Day. You don’t even have to tell them it’s Neighbor Day. Just tell them you’re spreading kindness. It’s contagious.

Want to get in on the Neighbor Day fun like Daniel Tiger? Sure you do!

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GIVEAWAY: your very own brand-new-to-stores Daniel Tiger gift pack (plush toy, tote bag, DVD & more!) thanks to PBS Kids!

Do you want to win your Daniel Tiger gift pack thanks to PBS Kids?! Ummm. . . of COURSE you do!

Please use the Rafflecopter widget below to throw your name in the hat:

 

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

This giveaway ends Friday, September 13, 2013 at midnight ET and is open to US residents only. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 9/13/13.  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.pbs kids vip

fyi: This is an unsponsored post, sharing a message I feel strongly about from a company I can firmly stand behind.  I am a PBS Kids VIP, and I did receive a Daniel Tiger plush toy in exchange for sharing this message. 

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

VolunteerSpot: parents AND teachers can win BIG for back-to-school (sponsored)

volunteerspot get spotted volunteering

sponsored post

 

 

 

volunteerspot get spotted volunteeringI’ve been a longtime fan of VolunteerSpot for the ease with which I can participate in and organize events at my kids’ school.

I’ve loved them for really changing the way people can manage events–big and small–and I’ve loved them because their service is free.  No joke. F to the R-E-E. Free.

But this back-to-school season, I love them even more because they’re offering not one but three $1500 grants to people who ‘get caught’ volunteering at their child’s school.

Parents and schools aren’t the only ones who win here, though.

Teachers, if they just try VolunteerSpot, can win two iPad mini’s –one for them and one for a friend. Or two for their class. Awesome, right?

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • VolunteerSpot–Parents AND Teachers Can Win BIG for Back-to-School:

Let’s get it straight: two cool things thanks to VolunteerSpot

1.  three grants of $1500 for people who volunteer and

2. one giveaway of two iPad mini’s to a teacher who uses VolunteerSpot.

Makes me want to dance.

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For volunteers:

How to Enter to Win (You can do one of these, or all.)

1. Use VolunteerSpot during August to Take the Pledge to volunteer for your school. Don’t worry if you don’t have a specific activity to sign up for yet; just make the commitment to help out with one thing this school year.

Just be sure to include your school’s name when prompted during the easy registration process. Boom! You’ve got 1 entry already.

GetSpottedMain

2. Use VolunteerSpot’s FREE online sign up sheets during August* to organize the parent volunteers for any school activity: back-to-school events, classroom helpers, carnivals, book fairs, hospitality teams & potlucks, concessions – any activity that involves multiple volunteers will be easier to manage with online sign ups and scheduling.

How to Get More Chances for Your School to Win

Invite (okay, bug) your neighborhood friends and fellow parents to use VolunteeerSpot this August too. Every new Pledge and new activity organized in VolunteerSpot.com counts as an entry for your school, so the more people you can get to sign up, the more entries to win $1,500 your school will get.

Post it on Facebook, or even better, email your whole class and ask them to take the pledge too. You might even remind people to take the pledge when you see them on the first day of school. Isn’t it worth it for the chance to win $1,500 bucks for your school?

VolunteerSpot Logo

One Last Brilliant Idea

Maybe you’re not the person who gets super involved in organizing activities for your school, but you probably know who is. Send the link to this page (http://vols.pt/GSVOL) to the person you know who is most involved with your school’s parent/school organization. That way, even if you don’t need to organize an activity with VolunteerSpot right now, you can still help someone else out AND help your school win.

The Rules

If you have really bad insomnia, you can read the official rules here. Zzzzzz.

If not, here’s an easy-to-read summary:

  • 3 schools will be chosen at random to win. Each will receive a $1,500 grant from VolunteerSpot for their designated school’s parent-teacher organization.
  • You must be at least 18 years old to enter for your school.
  • You must reside in the United States. (We know, we know, but international sweepstakes laws are just too complex for us to handle. We are sorry!)
  • The following uses of VolunteerSpot count as entries: registering and school organizer or teacher/educator VolunteerSpot account (it’s free!), setting up an activity, signing up for an activity someone else has set up, and pledging to volunteer.
  • The sweeps will run from Aug 1- Aug 31st, so enter now! Winners will be drawn at random and notified in September.

If you still have questions, please click HELP at the top of VolunteerSpot.com and contact us.

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teachers ipad mini volunteerspot
For teachers:
How to Enter to Win TWO iPad minis1. Use VolunteerSpot’s online sign-up sheets during August to simplify scheduling:

  • parent-teacher conferences
  • guest readers & volunteers
  • class snacks
  • potlucks or parties
  • trips & tournaments
  • any activity with multiple sign ups

(If you use email for any of these tasks right now, you know what a pain it is to contact and re-contact everyone involved, not to mention organizing everyone’s replies. No more!)

2. When you register your account, just confirm that you are a teacher/educator and enter the name of your school when prompted, you’ll be automatically entered to win!

3. BONUS! When you enter the name of your school, your school’s parent-teacher organization will also be automatically entered to win $1,500 in our back-to-school  Get Spotted Volunteering in August sweeps.

Volunteerspot logo option

Important!

Once you’ve tried VolunteerSpot for yourself, be sure to tell a fellow teacher to enter too. That way of she (or he) wins, she might just share that second iPad mini with you. Sweet!

Of course winning two iPad minis would be totally cool, but also we hope that once you try VolunteerSpot you’ll tell other teachers about it because it makes sign-ups so much easier. Please let us know what you think!

The Rules

If you’re having trouble sleeping, you can read the official rules here. Zzzzz.

Alternatively, here is a summary:

  • The winner will be chosen at random from among all eligible entries.
  • You must be at least 18 years old to win.
  • You must be a teacher or educator employed by a public, parochial or independent school.
  • You must reside in the United States. (Sorry, we dislike this rule too, but international sweepstakes laws are just too complex for us to handle. We are sorry!)
  • You must use VolunteerSpot to organize an activity between Aug 1- Aug 30. The activity may occur at a later date, but you must create the sign up sheet during August.
  • The winner will be notified in September.

If you still have questions, please contact us by clicking Help at the top of VolunteerSpot.com.

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Really. That’s it. Hope that you or your school is super-lucky this year, and if you are. . . please let me know!
Off to share this post with my school, PTA, and teacher buddies!
Here’s to a rockstar 2013-2014 school year, and huge and happy thanks to VolunteerSpot for making it easier to support our schools and teachers!
fyi: Though I am a longtime fan of VolunteerSpot, I was compensated for my time in sharing news of this rockstar campaign. My opinions, as always, are my very own, influenced only by my experience as a parent, teacher, and volunteer.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

Consider:

  • 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!