what to do when your kid just doesn’t ‘get it’

what to do when your kid just doesn't 'get it' | question from reader and answered by @teachmama

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I admit that I am the absolute worst with emails. The worst.when your kid just doesn't get it | teachmama.com

But I’m trying to be better.

I’ve got thousands of emails just sitting there in my inbox, and I rarely respond because I’m always busy.

And I’m so far behind that I don’t even want to go there because there’s no end in sight.

But lately I have been tackling a handful of emails each week. And it makes me feel so much better to be able to connect in this way to the readers who have become my good friends over time.

Today, one email stuck out.

And I spent a good bit of time answering, and then I felt like I had answered it before, so I looked back and not one, not two, but three other people have written to me in the past few weeks about their kids struggling with reading for unknown reasons.

So I thought I’d share my response. (And the gal who emailed said it was totally cool to do so.)

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • What to Do When Your Kid Just Doesn’t Get It:

note from reader

Subject : Struggling readers

Message : So…..what do you do when your kid just doesn’t get it? My [son] is in 3rd grade and he’s super depressed because he’s in the lowest reading group (haven’t confirmed that with the teacher, but kids know, don’t they? And given who else he says is in his group, I know, too.) and he doesn’t get to do the pull-out GT activities that his friends do.

His reading is okay, but when it comes to spelling, it’s terrible–large letters, sloppy, no punctuation or capitalization, many misspelled words, can’t get the letters on the page.

We’ve had him tested and the doc says it’s phonological processing. He doesn’t qualify for an IEP or 504 and the teachers last year dismissed the doc’s findings all together. He’s been doing a reading tutoring program for the past year. But feeling really frustrated with the school and teachers. Any advice?

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

my response

Oh, [friend]. I’m sorry he’s struggling. It’s so hard–for you and for him. Believe me, I get it. Thank you for reaching out.

My advice is this:
1. meet with the teacher. talk to him/her about your concerns, and ask what you can do at home. Maybe she’ll give you some insight into strategies that have worked for other students or hand you some resources that could be helpful.

when kids don't get it school  teachmama.com

2. read with him every night. Seriously. You read out loud to him. No pressure for him to read to you. Just get him back into being excited about reading, even if that means you have to pry open your tired eyes at 8pm to read to him with energy and excitement (said from the mom who FELL ASLEEP last night while Cora was reading her book out loud to me before bed and still feels guilty about it today). Try Harry Potter. IT ROCKS. OR try silly Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Or try Magic Treehouse to start with. . . Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is SO GOOD and great for read alouds.

3. play on his interests. He likes (gag!) Pokemon? Find Pokemon books and READ them! He loves Minecraft? There are great Minecraft books on the market now (finally!), and there are books on everything from Skylanders to Star Wars to LEGOS to chess. Do some research. Surround him w/ reading material about stuff he totally digs. Magazines totally count. Get him a subscription to a magazine for the holidays–get everyone a subscription to their favorite magazine. Be excited when it comes in the mail even if you have to fake it. Dance up to the door w/ it and then make it a treat to read it. He’ll catch on. I promise.

when kids don't get it interests  teachmama.com

4. talk about reading. Not directly, in a super boring way, but do it casually. Talk about the books you’re reading for pleasure (start doing it if you’re not already!); talk about what you read in the newspaper; talk about books he’s reading in Guided Reading and what the media teacher read to him on media day. Just a simple, ‘Hey listen to this!’ . . . or ‘Can you believe that. .. . ‘ is great. The Washington Post Kids Post is super for finding daily bits of fun stuff for kids to read. Or find the National Geographic Kids app– strange and amazing facts? something like that–my kids LOVE it.

5. make reading a family affair. Instead of plopping on a movie on Sunday afternoon or instead of letting the kids zone out in front of electronics, have a family reading date. Pop popcorn, make hot chocolate, and make a fire. Everyone grabs a book and reads in the living room–even if it’s only an hour. Then kind of talk about what you were reading. Or if that’s too hard, you and your partner (or your mom/ dad if they’re close) or sister or friend take turns reading children’s books to the kids. Each kid picks two, and you read them aloud like a silly little old-school read aloud during preschool circle time. Do it. They’ll love it.

when kids don't get it consistent  teachmama.com

Hope this helps. I would love to hear how it goes, and just know this: you are not alone. I should probably even just post this whole answer as a blog post, because I’m asked it more often than you know. . . Hmmmm. Maybe?

Oh, and don’t forget this: hang in there and KEEP UP THE ROUTINE. I’m not yelling at you, I’m just keeping it all caps because it’s that important. It won’t make a bleep of a difference if you do this for one week or one day. Set small goals: reading aloud at night for two weeks. Then four weeks. It will make a difference–but the secret is in the consistency.

You got this. And so does he.

*hugs!* and thank you for reading.

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

What do you think? How would you have answered her question?
Do let us know in the comments or on our Facebook page!
Do you have a question that’s literacy related? I’m happy to give it a stab if you want to hit me with an email: amy@teachmama.com
If I can’t answer it, I’ll find someone who can!

 

fyi: affiliate links used in this post

halloween printable games for kids

halloween printable games for kids

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

Need two quickie Halloween games for your kids?halloween printable games  teachmama.com

Maybe for a Halloween class party or for some after school fun?

Want to up the fun factor of a playdate or just get a little more into the Halloween spirit?

Here are two Halloween printable games for kids that my kids liked and that we’ll be using for class parties this year.

Simple but fun. Tic-tac-toe and Halloween Follow-the-Path.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Halloween Printable Games for Kids:

Half the battle of sneaking in some fun learning for our kids is knowing where to look for things.

And that goes for class parties and church parties and playgroup parties as well.

halloween printable games | teachmama.com

halloween printable games | teachmama.com

So when I became a room parent for the 6580987420 millionth time this year, I decided I was just going to share anything and everything I make. Because really? No need to reinvent the wheel.

And no need to make things difficult for good people who really just want to make things fun for their kids.

halloween printable games | teachmama.com

halloween printable games | teachmama.com

Two games. Super simple.

  • Bat Follow-the-Path Game: Players begin at the upper lefthand block and take turns rolling the dice to see how far they go on each turn. Winner gets bat to his family first!

Download our Bat Follow-the-Path Game here: follow the path game halloween

(Please, if you decide to share, share this post and not the attachment page!)

halloween printable games | teachmama.com

  • Tic-Tac-Toe:  Just like the game we all know and love, but this one uses Halloween stamps!

We’ve long played Tic-Tac-Toe in our own way with our own flare–this time, we’re rocking it out with a little Halloween fun.

halloween printable games | teachmama.com

halloween printable games | teachmama.com

Download our Tic-Tac-Toe boards here: tictactoe board | teachmama.com

(Please, if you decide to share, share this post and not the attachment page!)

 And that’s it!

Super-simple, totally fun games that you can print on regular paper or cardstock, use, and enjoy.

Need some more? Got a couple Halloween class parties planned for you here:  

 (No joke. . . you can thank me later! Just click the picture!)

 

halloween party ideas for kids and classrooms | teachmama.com

 

 

halloween class party ideas

Want a few more fun halloween party ideas?

 

 

fyi: Affiliate links are used in this post, which means that every time you purchase something using one of our links, we get at teeny, tiny percentage of the sale. so. . . thank you for using them, friends!

learn with seashells: letters and sight words

learn with seashells: letters and sight words | guest post by @educatorsspinon for @teachmama

learn with seashells: letters and sight words | guest post by @educatorsspinon for @teachmama

Huge thanks to an extraordinary educator and parent, Kim Vij, for guest posting for us for this final Rockstar Sunday of the summer. 

Kim is a great friend of mine, and I am continually amazed by her creativity and ideas over on the blog she writes, The Educators’ Spin on It, along with her pal, the awesome Amanda Boyarshinov. 

These two ladies are rocking it over on Pinterest with 1.5 million–yes, million!–followers. 

Go find them. And then follow them. You’ll be glad you did.

Today, Kim shares with us a fun, summertime activity great for early literacy skill-building.

Or, if you want this activity to have a mathy-spin, go right ahead and throw in some numbers. The possibilities are endless.

Here’s the skinny. . .  

  • Learn with Seashells– Letters and Sight Words, by Kim Vij:

Finding playful ways to incorporate learning and fun in the summer is something parents and teachers try to provide for kids.

We look for summer camps that kids love but still look at what they will take away from the camps as far as learning new skills, too.  One focus that we want kids to keep is their language development and reading abilities.

learn with seashells: letters and sight words | guest post by @educatorsspinon for @teachmama

Here’s a fun sight word game that is summer themed that your child will love! And it will give you a great use for all of those shells you’ve collected over the last few weeks!

(Or if you haven’t had a chance to hit the shore this year, buy your seashells on Amazon: buy seashells.)

To create, first gather some sea shells from the beach or even at your local craft store. You will need at least 26 shells for each letter.  Now it’s time to research the words our child should be working on.  Here’s a list of Dolch Words or Fry Words for each grade level from Kindergarten to Third Grade.

Use the words that your child should be working on and write them down on a sheet of paper with your child.  Here’s a blank circle template for printing.  Then attach the circles to a few funs pieces of scrapbook paper to make it colorful.

learn with seashells: letters and sight words | guest post by @educatorsspinon for @teachmama

Next take the seashells and add all of the letters of the alphabet onto each shell.  Put the shells in a fun container.  We added ours to some colorful cloud dough we created recently.  Sand would be fun too to use in the container.

For the Summer Sight Word activity encourage your child to spell on the sight words using the shells.

It’s time to search for the letters needed to create the site words on your game board.  Create enough words so that you can switch the search around too!

learn with seashells: letters and sight words | guest post by @educatorsspinon for @teachmama

Extention Ideas

To extend the activity you could have your child write down the words that they find.  Here’s a shell word printable.

For more ideas on how to work with words go check out Amy’s post on Words 3 Ways and Sticky Finger Writing

learn with seashells: letters and sight words | guest post by @educatorsspinon for @teachmamaFor more Literacy Sea Shell Activities you may enjoy:

kim vij educators spin on it

 

Kim Vij is an early childhood educator and mom of three. She shares her “Educator’s Spin” on parenting issues and how to make everyday moments into learning opportunities at The Educators’ Spin On It and award winning Pinterest Boards. You can find Kim on PinterestFacebookTwitterInstagram & Google +.

 

 

Looking for ways to get kids into summer reading?  Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest Boards

This post is part of our new Rockstar Sunday posts.  Each week, I will highlight one ‘rockstar’ in the parenting and education field.  These posts? Seriously awesome.

Have something you’d like to share that in some way relates to fun learning, school, technology, education, or parenting? For a short time we’ll be accepting Rockstar Sunday guest posts.

 rockstar sunday promo teachmama

The response to our Rockstar Sunday feature has been overwhelming. I am in awe of the ideas, submissions, and shares!

Having been in the blogging space for 5+ years, we know for sure that our readers are always up for fresh and fun ideas on literacy, math, technology, parenting, and learning in the every day. They love crafts, hands-on teaching ideas, printables, cooking with kids, and anything that makes their job as parents easier, better, and more fun.

You don’t have to have a blog of your own–just cool ideas to share! We look forward to hearing from you!

other posts in the series:

 

fyi: affiliate links used in this post for seashells

teach kids game playing etiquette

teach kids game playing etiquette | teachmama.com

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

 

teach kids game playing etiquette | teachmama.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the skinny in two steps:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until then, good luck!

 

 

fyi: affiliate links are used in this post

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

happy first day teacher flowers teachmama.com

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

 

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

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

And with busy often comes stress.

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the skinny. . .

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

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

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

 

happy first day flowers for teachers, secretaries, or principal

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

 

First, we hit our local thrift store.

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

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

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

Serious deal.

 

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

 

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

 

Then we hit the grocery stores.

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Everyone loves to get flowers. Everyone.

Especially surprise flowers.

 

—————————————————————

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

For extra entries, get creative, yo!!:

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

easy ways to support teachers: back to school #QuakerUp

easy ways to support teachers: back to school #QuakerUp| teachmama.com

As a paid Quaker Classroom Ambassador, I am eager to share information about Quaker Up For Classrooms. easy ways to support teachers: back to school #quakerup | teachmama.com

 

Every child deserves the best possible start to his or her day, but sometimes that’s just not possible.

Kids come to school hungry, tired, and unprepared to learn not because they don’t want to–but because they have no other choice.

I remember all too clearly the struggles of my students and their families. And I remember all too clearly making sure I had enough supplies and snacks in my own classroom for students when they came to me for lunchtime or after school help.

I’m not alone.  Teachers spend more than $1 billion a year stocking their own classrooms, and they’re buying more than just school supplies.

In fact, three in five K-8 public school teachers say their students regularly come to school hungry, and as a result these teachers typically spend $37 per month from their own paychecks on food for their students.  Check out the 2013 No Kid Hungry report from 2013 for more startling facts.

The good news is that some really awesome companies are teaming up with really awesome organizations that are geared toward helping to support educators and make sure our nation’s students are fed.

Thank you, Quaker. And thank you Adopt a Classroom.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Easy Ways to Support Teachers–Back to School #QuakerUp: 

Buying food for my classroom was normal.

no kid hungry report 2013

Having a handful of extra supplies on hand was just something I did and something I remember most of my colleagues doing.

Looseleaf paper, pens, pencils, and notebooks. Crackers, granola bars, easy snacks. And I’m sure it’s no surprise–but I always had candy.  Little bursts of sugar to get my crew through class and to the next one.

It helped. I swear it did.

no kid hungry report 2013

We all want to do our part to help, but sometimes–especially when we have our arms full of our own little ones and money is tight, it’s difficult.

But there are easy ways to help. And by ‘easy’ I mean easy.

Ways you can help support teachers and their students just by doing what you’d normally be doing.  Buying products you’d normally buy.  I love it.

 

easy ways to support teachers 2 back to school #quakerup  teachmama.com

 

Quaker teamed up with AdoptAClassroom.org, and the partnership is powerful.

They’re working together to help teachers give their students the tools that can help students succeed.

Here’s how you can help: 

1. From July 7 to Sept. 30, purchase specially-marked Quaker products and enter the unique package codes online at www.QuakerUpForClassrooms.com.

Specially-marked Quaker products include:

  • Instant Quaker Oatmeal Maple Brown Sugar – 10 ct.
  • Instant Quaker Oatmeal Apples & Cinnamon – 10 ct.
  • Instant Quaker Oatmeal Regular – 10 ct.
  • Life Regular – 13 oz.
  • Chewy Chocolate Chip – 8 ct.
  • Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip – 8 ct.
  • Quaker Oat Squares Brown Sugar – 14.5 oz.
  • Life Cinnamon – 13 oz.

2. For every code entered online, Quaker will donate $1 to AdoptAClassroom.org up to $250,000 (minimum donation of $150,000) to help fuel classrooms across the country.

3. You’ll get a coupon for $1 off Quaker products (yay!).

 

easy ways to support teachers 2 back to school #quakerup 3 teachmama.com

 

Throughout the back-to-school season, I’ll also be sharing fun ways you and your family can prep for the upcoming school year – including teacher appreciation gifts and weekday breakfast tips.

To see more great back-to-school content from myself and the other Quaker Classroom Ambassadors and join the conversation with your own teacher appreciation stories, simply follow and share with your social networks via the #QuakerUp hashtag.

Please, friends, let’s do what we can to support it!

 

fyi: Thank you to Quaker and AdoptaClassroom.org for creating this program. I am proud to be a Quaker Classroom Ambassador.

let kids play: remembering the importance of free time outdoors

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

sponsored post

 

 

 

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

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

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

Like our kids always must be doing something.

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

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

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

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

Here’s the skinny. . .

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

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

let kids play: remembering the importance of free time outdoors

let kids play: remembering the importance of free time outdoors

And I still often get emails and questions:

How can parents set kids up for free time outdoors? 

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

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

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

 

let kids play: remembering the importance of free time outdoors

 

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

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

 

let kids play: remembering the importance of free time outdoors

 

let kids play: remembering the importance of free time outdoors

 

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

 

let kids play: remembering the importance of free time outdoors

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

 

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

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

 

let kids play: remembering the importance of free time outdoors

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

@MosquitoMDsquad   |  Facebook chat with Mosquito Squad 

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

teach letter sounds using 26 kid-centered photos

teach letter sounds using 26 kid-centered photos | guest post by @totschooling on teachmama.com

teach letter sounds using 26 kid-centered photos | guest post by @totschooling on teachmama.com

We’re thrilled to share another Rockstar Sunday guest post with you–this time from a multi-talented blogger, Viviana.

Viviana is a mom of two and the creator of Totschooling, a blog filled with cool printables and tons of early education ideas. I’m thrilled she’s sharing this post with u s.

 

  • Teach Letter Sounds Using 26 Kid-Centered Photos, by Viviana

Hi! I’m Viviana, a mom to two little girls – a toddler and a preschooler. We do a lot of early learning activities that I share on my blog Totschooling, and I am so happy to be here to share this super fun activity that has been a big hit with my daughters!

Kids love to look at photographs, especially photos of themselves. There is something so fascinating about seeing their image transferred onto a piece of paper.

I find that my 3 year old daughter not only loves to look at photos but she also enjoys posing for them, making silly faces and seeing how the pictures turn out. This creates a double opportunity for learning – the act of taking the photos and then later analyzing them.

Since we’ve started working on letter recognition and letter sounds, I thought it would be fun to use photographs as a way to practice these concepts. Here is how we did it:

Each time we learned a new letter, I asked my daughter to find things around the house that start with that letter sound. For example, for the letter B we found a baby doll, a blue ball, a book and a banana.

 

teach letter sounds using 26 kid-centered photos | guest post by @totschooling on teachmama.com

 

I taped a piece of paper to the wall with that letter, and helped her pose for the picture.

For some of the letters we couldn’t find objects around the house, so we improvised. We used action words instead. For Y she yawned, for J she jumped, and for Q she made a quiet “ssshhh” sound.

She had a blast posing for these pictures and didn’t even notice she was learning!

Here are some ideas for the less common letters:

J – jump, jacket

Q – quiet, queen

U – umbrella, under

V – vitamins, violin

X – x-ray, xylophone

Y – yellow, yawn, yo-yo

Z – zipper, zebra

teach letter sounds using 26 kid-centered photos | guest post by @totschooling on teachmama.com

 

After you have all this fun taking photos for every letter of the alphabet, what do you do with the pictures?

The possibilities are endless! First, print out the photos, either at home or at your local print shop – 4×6 is a great size for these activities.

I printed them myself, 4 per page, then laminated and cut them out.

 

teach letter sounds using 26 kid-centered photos | guest post by @totschooling on teachmama.com

 

1. Create a photo ABC book – You can do this simply by hole punching the photos and then using a ring or a piece of yarn to thread them together. Or, you can purchase a photo album and insert all the pictures into the sleeves. This book is great to look at casually or to play a “look & find” game where you ask your child to find all the things that start with each letter sound.

2. Alphabet Wall Chart – Create a unique and custom wall chart that everyone will love to look at again and again.

3. Match the Letters Game – Lay out a few letters, either from a moveable alphabet or write the letters on pieces of paper, and ask your child to find the photos that go with each letter.

4. Match the Objects Game – Lay out a few objects and ask your child to find the photos that go

with each object. These objects can be ones that were used in the photos or different ones.

5. Memory Game – You would need two copies of each photograph. Place them face down and play a classic memory game.

6. Bingo Game – Put together 9 or 16 of the photos to create the bingo mat. Then, call out letters while your child puts tokens on the correct photos.

7. Story Time – Come up with a story about what is happening in each photograph. This is great for language development, imagination and can help your child to remember the letters.

You can also try this activity with many different concepts, such as learning colors, numbers, emotions, or just about anything else that can be learned visually.

I hope this inspires you to create your own playful learning experience with photographs and have as much fun as we did!

 Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, Viviana, for sharing these ideas! I know many readers will be inspired to do the same!

teach letter sounds using 26 kid-centered photos | guest post by @totschooling on teachmama.com

 

Viviana is a blogging mom to a toddler and a preschooler, sharing ideas and resources for early learning. She specializes in educational printable activities, which you can find on her blog Totschooling. You can also follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Google+.

 

Looking for more fun ways to sneak in some literacy learning into your day? Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards:

This post is part of our new Rockstar Sunday posts.  Each week, I will highlight one ‘rockstar’ in the parenting and education field.  These posts? Seriously awesome.

Have something you’d like to share that in some way relates to fun learning, school, technology, education, or parenting? For a short time we’ll be accepting Rockstar Sunday guest posts.

 rockstar sunday promo teachmama

The response to our Rockstar Sunday feature has been overwhelming. I am in awe of the ideas, submissions, and shares!

Having been in the blogging space for 5+ years, we know for sure that our readers are always up for fresh and fun ideas on literacy, math, technology, parenting, and learning in the every day. They love crafts, hands-on teaching ideas, printables, cooking with kids, and anything that makes their job as parents easier, better, and more fun.

You don’t have to have a blog of your own–just cool ideas to share! We look forward to hearing from you!

other posts in the series:

play with letters or numbers: cool summer learning for kids

play with letters or numbers: cool summer learning for kids | birute from @playtivities guest posting on teachmama.com

The following Rockstar Sunday guest post is written by a woman whose third language is English and who has two little ones and two rockstar blogs.  

Birute Efe writes Playtivities which is full of fun toy-making, learning, and creative parenting ideas, and she writes Attach From Scratch, a blog full of attachment parenting, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and all that fun stuff.

Pretty impressive, I know.

Today, Birute is sharing a quick and fun way that you can help your kiddos learn a little during the hot summer months.

————————-

  • Play with Letters or Numbers–Cool Summer Learning for Kids, by Birute Efe

fun summer activity for learning letters and numbersSummer is for fun. Fortunately learning can be fun and full of laughter too. It’s all how we present it to the kids.

If you are trying to teach your little one letters, sight words, numbers, beginners math this playful educational activity will be a hit in your house for sure.

Things you will need:

  • Plastic Ice cube tray. (the more you have the more letters and numbers you will be able to write on). You can get them really cheap at flea markets or garage sales.
  • some letter, number stickers or markers
  • marbles

What to do:

It’s so simple.

Depending on how many ice cube trays you have and what you want to teach your child just stick stickers in/on/near every ice cube holes.

You could also use markers.

The rules (they can be very customizable):

Kids learn faster through songs. I have noticed it a lot. So encourage them to sing or pick some kind of rhyme while they are dropping marbles in the ice cube tray holes.

  • Name the letter/sight word/number you just dropped marble in.
  • Name the word that starts with the letter you just threw marble on.
  • Find a rhyming word for the letter you just dropped marble on. (e.g. A – I may, Z – just like a bee, etc)
  • Try juggling few marbles.

play with letters or numbers: cool summer learning for kids

play with letters or numbers: cool summer learning for kids

Just a thought

You could try using real ice cubes for this activity. Make sure to write on the ice cube holes with permanent marker. Those splashes from melting ice cubes will make learning cool for sure.

Things kids will practice:

  • motion coordination
  • letters, numbers, rhyming and singing

I hope I got you inspired to help your children learn through a fun activity.

For more fun DIY Toys that encourage child’s creativity and promotes fun learning follow my Pinterest Board Playtivities. So you won’t miss a thing.



birute of playtivities.com/Birute Efe has daily fun at her kids activities blog Playtivities and the farm where she lives with her family. She loves creating activities and toys for her 2 kiddos by up-cycling household items. She she will never walk pass by a big cardboard box or a pile of old magazines. She believes the best learning comes from exploring and creating.

Looking for more fun ways to sneak in some literacy or math learning into your day? Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards:

This post is part of our new Rockstar Sunday posts.  Each week, I will highlight one ‘rockstar’ in the parenting and education field.  These posts? Seriously awesome.

Have something you’d like to share that in some way relates to fun learning, school, technology, education, or parenting? For a short time we’ll be accepting Rockstar Sunday guest posts.

 rockstar sunday promo teachmama

The response to our Rockstar Sunday feature has been overwhelming. I am in awe of the ideas, submissions, and shares!

Having been in the blogging space for 5+ years, we know for sure that our readers are always up for fresh and fun ideas on literacy, math, technology, parenting, and learning in the every day. They love crafts, hands-on teaching ideas, printables, cooking with kids, and anything that makes their job as parents easier, better, and more fun.

You don’t have to have a blog of your own–just cool ideas to share! We look forward to hearing from you!

other posts in the series:

10 ways to create a literacy rich environment

10 ways to create a literacy rich environment guest post by kategribble on teachmama.com

10 ways to create a literacy rich environment | guest post by kategribble on teachmama.com

The following Rockstar Sunday guest post is written by Kate of An Everyday Story. Kate is a former teacher who now homeschools her two littles using the Reggio Emilia Approach.

I love her blog, and you will too.

Check it out!

————————-

  • 10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment, by Kate Gribble

Hi everyone. We are an Australian homeschooling family. I have two lovely little ones, Jack (5yrs) and Sarah (3yrs). Right from the beginning we knew we would homeschool. When my son was about a year old I can across the Reggio Emilia Approach.

As a former high school teacher (specialising in literacy and learning support), everything I read about Reggio challenged my fundamental beliefs of how children learn, but most significantly, how children should be taught.

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment | teachmama.com

The Reggio Emilia Approach is an innovative and inspiring approach to early childhood education. It values the child as strong, capable and resilient; rich with wonder and knowledge. The Reggio Emilia Approach believes every child brings with them deep curiosity and potential and that this innate curiosity drives their interest to understand their world and their place within it.

The Reggio Emilia Approach originated in the town (and surrounding areas) of Reggio Emilia in Northern Italy out of a movement towards progressive and cooperative early childhood education. Some of the fundamental principles of the Reggio Emilia Approach include:

  • Children are capable of constructing their own meaning –  they are driven by their interests to know and understand more
  • Children are communicators – Children are listened to with respect, believing that their questions and observations are an opportunity to learn and search together. It is a collaborative process; rather than the child asking a question and the adult offering the answers. The search is undertaken together.
  • The environment is the third teacher – The environment is recognised for its potential to inspire children. Whether a playroom or a classroom, each material is carefully selected to encourage children to delve deeper into their interests
  • A child-led project approach – Learning isn’t predetermined months in advance; learning emerges based on the children’s interests and questions
  • The Hundred Languages of Children – The belief that children learn in many different ways; each way as valuable as the next. The idea that children learn through painting and drawing, through building and dance, through drama and music and that each of these ways needs to be nurtured
  • Learning and play are not separated – They are interconnected. The Reggio Emilia Approach emphasises hands-on discovery learning that allows the child to use all their senses and all their languages to learn.

Today I thought I would share with you some of the ways we approach literacy and language learning in our homeschool:

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment

1: Including books on the play room shelves

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment | teachmama.com

2: Creating meaningful language in context – have an authentic reason for reading and writing

  • read to find answers
  • write lists
  • write questions
  • write postcards
  • write thank you cards
  • write instructions – recipe cards, treasure maps, rules for games

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment | teachmama.com

3: Providing writing materials with toys

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment | teachmama.com

4: Including literacy materials in the dress-ups

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment | teachmama.com

Literacy-rich-environment-labeling-drawings-An-Everyday-Story

5: Encouraging documentation

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment | teachmama.com

6: Using books in art experiences

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment | teachmama.com

7. Reading. Read widely and often

8: Using hands-on materials in favour of worksheets

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment | teachmama.com

9: Creating exploration shelves based on the kids’ interests which include reference books and writing materials

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment | teachmama.com

10 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Environment | teachmama.com

10: Keeping a writing journal

I hope you have enjoyed a small peek inside our child-led Reggio-inspired homeschool. I look forward to seeing you all again soon over on my blog, An Everyday Story.

kate of an everyday story

Thank you so much, Kate!

Kate is a former high school teacher. Now, inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach and Project-based Homeschooling, she is homeschooling her two children.  Find her at her blog, An Everyday Story, and connect with her on:

facebook | pinterest | instagram | google +  

Looking for more ways to create a literacy-focused environment? Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards:

This post is part of our new Rockstar Sunday posts.  Each week, I will highlight one ‘rockstar’ in the parenting and education field.  These posts? Seriously awesome.

Have something you’d like to share that in some way relates to fun learning, school, technology, education, or parenting? For a short time we’ll be accepting Rockstar Sunday guest posts.

 rockstar sunday promo teachmama

The response to our Rockstar Sunday feature has been overwhelming. I am in awe of the ideas, submissions, and shares!

Having been in the blogging space for 5+ years, we know for sure that our readers are always up for fresh and fun ideas on literacy, math, technology, parenting, and learning in the every day. They love crafts, hands-on teaching ideas, printables, cooking with kids, and anything that makes their job as parents easier, better, and more fun.

You don’t have to have a blog of your own–just cool ideas to share! We look forward to hearing from you!

other posts in the series:

 

 

how to help your kids love science: simple, everyday ways

science ways to raise kids who love it teachmama.com.png

science ways to raise kids who love it teachmama.com

The following rockstar guest post is written by Christy a former physics teacher who is now home with her three kids.  Christy writes an amazing blog: Wisdom, Knowledge, Joy.  

Check it out for tons of ways you can incorporate science into your children’s lives. I especially love Christy’s Science Along the Way series

____________________

  • How to Help Your Kids Love Science–Simple, Everyday Ways, by Christy McGuire
Testing season is almost over, and summer break will soon be here.
Science is a great way to fill the last weeks of the school year or to occupy your own kids during the summer months.
Here are five ways to enjoy science with your elementary learners:
how to help your kids love science: simple, everyday ways

 

Observe

Anyone can notice the physical world around them.  Spend time out doors, in the kitchen, or just take a few seconds to notice the physical world from right where you are.
Once you set the example, your elementary learners will soon be calling your attention to the world around them.
how to help your kids love science: simple, everyday ways
Experiment
To experiment, set up two (or more) scenarios in order to observe how changing a single factor affects the outcome.
Turn your observations into an experiment by observing under different circumstances or recreating the same situation in two versions.  Ask your students to record their hypothesis about what the outcome will be.
Help them develop a procedure, and perform it, and take measurements.  Talk about the data they gathered, and maybe ask them to write about what they have learned.
You can do science without experimenting, but experimenting is loads of fun and a great way to practice math and writing skills.
how to help your kids love science: simple, everyday ways
Engineer
Give your learners a problem and ask them to design a solution by drawing pictures and writing explanations. Then, let them try to implement it.
If their solution does not work, discuss and consider trying again!  The experience of creating a real world solution is exciting for elementary learners.
Read
There are so many great science books for kids!  Some of our favorite authors are Gail Gibbons, Joanna Cole, Jerry Palota, Jim Arnosky and Brenda Z. Guiberson.
While you are at the library, be sure to check out biographies of some famous scientists!
how to help your kids love science: simple, everyday ways
Model
Recreating something you have studied either first hand or in a book is a great way to cement learning.
Make it an art project by giving freedom in materials or design.  Make it a math project by requiring scale replicas.  Like experimenting and engineering, modeling is work that professional scientists often do.
Children are naturally interested in the physical world.  As you enjoy science with your elementary learners you will spark their interest in other topics, and set them up for a lifetime of learning.

Thank you, Christy! I love all that you do and share!

christy of wisdom knowledge joy
Christy McGuire taught physics to students of all levels from advanced placement to special education in the public school system.  
She now works full time at home, watching over the learning of her own children ages five, four, and two months.  
You can read her thoughts about learning, science and otherwise, at WisdomKnowledgeJoy@blogspot.com.
connect with Christy: blog  |  pinterest
Looking for more ways to get kids into science? Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards:

This post is part of our new Rockstar Sunday posts.  Each week, I will highlight one ‘rockstar’ in the parenting and education field.  These posts? Seriously awesome.

Have something you’d like to share that in some way relates to fun learning, school, technology, education, or parenting? For a short time we’ll be accepting Rockstar Sunday guest posts.

 rockstar sunday promo teachmama

The response to our Rockstar Sunday feature has been overwhelming. I am in awe of the ideas, submissions, and shares!

Having been in the blogging space for 5+ years, we know for sure that our readers are always up for fresh and fun ideas on literacy, math, technology, parenting, and learning in the every day. They love crafts, hands-on teaching ideas, printables, cooking with kids, and anything that makes their job as parents easier, better, and more fun.

You don’t have to have a blog of your own–just cool ideas to share! We look forward to hearing from you!

other posts in the series: