talk with kids about emotions: ‘inside out’ mini-book and card game

talk with kids about emotions: | teachmama.com

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talk with kids about emotions: | teachmama.com

With an 11, 9, and 8 year old, you’d think that we would be over talking about and identifying emotions over here, but we’re not.

In fact, after watching the Disney*Pixar film, Inside Out with my family this summer–and getting a sneak peek of the movie at the Disney Social Media Moms Conference–I realized that as we move swiftly toward the teen years, understanding and talking about emotions is more important than ever.

So I created this cute little Inside Out Mini-Book and card game.

It features the five characters from Inside Out with some space to add some new ones. No, you guys, I’m not asking you to invent new characters for the movie.

Rather, I’m talking about adding other faces for emotions that weren’t included in the movie–emotions that your kids are experiencing.

It’s all about using the movie as a teaching tool. Let’s not just watch the movie and be done with it.

Let’s watch it with our kids and use it as a continued, constant anchor for conversations about emotions.

For real.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Talk With Kids About Emotions–‘Inside Out’ Mini Book and Card Game: 

I’ve shared in the past how important it is to talk with kids about their emotions because when kids can pinpoint how they’re feeling–and share it with their parents–precious time and energy is spared.

And we, as parents, can better support our little loves.

However, identifying emotions is a lot easier for some kids than others–which is no surprise for any parent reading this, I’m sure.  Identifying emotions is sometimes difficult for adults, too, right?

So here’s what we’re doing–

1. First of all, we watched Inside Out.

If you haven’t heard, Inside Out is kind of an interesting, unusual movie. It takes place in the ‘command center’ of 11-year-old Riley’s mind. Rile deals with all of the things that most tweens deal with on top of a big move from her home in the midwest to San Francisco.

With each step and decision, Riley’s emotions–Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust–play important roles.  It’s so unique, it’s unbelievable. We loved this movie, and not just because we have an 11-year-old girl under our roof. This movie rocks.

Check out the trailer below, or head to the theater if you haven’t already seen it.

Like it and want a bit more?

2. We created the Inside Out Mini-Book.

The mini-book isn’t something we’ve taken out every single day and read through; it’s not like that.

talk with kids about emotions: | teachmama.com

talk with kids about emotions: | teachmama.com

It’s really just a little, quick flip book with each character–Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust–each on a page.  I kept it small because my kids love tiny things and because I want it to be small enough to fit in my purse, a backpack, or a desk drawer.

I also left a few pages blank aside from an open circle. Here, I figured we could draw in faces of emotions that we want to include.

talk with kids about emotions: | teachmama.com

talk with kids about emotions: | teachmama.com

 

You can download the Inside Out Mini-Book here: mini emotion cards _ teachmama.com

inside out mini book

mini emotion cards _ teachmama.com

 

If you choose to share this document–and we hope you do!–please consider sharing this post instead of the attachment page. Thank you!

And the cool thing is that if you’re not into the Inside Out Mini-Book, then you can totally print out the cards and play Inside Out Memory with them instead.

Just print out the pages on cardstock so you can’t see through them and play.

talk with kids about emotions: | teachmama.com

talk with kids about emotions: | teachmama.com

talk with kids about emotions: | teachmama.com

Really. Super-simple.

And a great way to use what you’ve seen in a top-notch movie for continued learning at home.

It doesn’t matter what you play or how you play it. Just keep the cards–or book–out and the conversation flowing.

 

3. We will continue the conversation. 

Really, emotions are something to talk about continually with kids. And it’s important to stress that no emotions are wrong–that it’s okay to feel sad one day and joyful the next, that it’s normal to feel angry one minute and fearful another.

It’s about learning how to deal with those emotions when they arrive on the scene that’s the hard part.

pixar producer inside out | teachmama.com

The cool thing is that the producers of Inside Out really, truly put so much more time, effort, and energy into developing this movie than you’ll ever know. 

At the Disney Social Media Moms Conference, we had the chance to hear first-hand from the producer about how much time they put into its development.

Did you know that the whole movie began because of the changes that writer Pete Docter noticed in his own 11-year old daughter? Really. He wanted to figure out what was going on in her brain and what sparked the changes he was noticing.

Check out the photos below of producer Jonas Rivera explaining the background of Inside Out:

pixar producer inside out | teachmama.com

pixar producer inside out | teachmama.com

pixar producer inside out | teachmama.com

pixar producer inside out | teachmama.com

pixar producer inside out | teachmama.com

. . . and here he talks about the development and creation of characters:

pixar producer inside out | teachmama.com

pixar producer inside out | teachmama.com

pixar producer inside out | teachmama.com

pixar producer inside out | teachmama.com

pixar producer inside out | teachmama.com

pixar producer inside out | teachmama.com

 

It’s a movie well worth seeing, friends. But even more than that, it’s worth using as a continued opportunity to chat with our kids about emotions!

 

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

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

chocolate math: age by chocolate

chocolate math: age by chocolate | teachmama.com

 

chocolate math: age by chocolate | teachmama.com

Our tabletop surprises are rocking and rolling this summer, but one thing that really, truly got the kids’ attention was our first (we have another planned!) chocolate day.

The whole focus was chocolate, and friends, it was pretty sweet if I do say so myself.

Who wouldn’t like to talk math and chocolate?

Here’s the skinny. . .

Chocolate Math–Age by Chocolate:

The premise of this day’s activity was twofold–1. figure out their age by chocolate; and 2. watch the multiplying chocolate video and try to figure it out themselves.

chocolate math: age by chocolate | teachmama.com

chocolate math: age by chocolate | teachmama.com

Figuring out Age by Chocolate is tricky but fun.

Some of the math was a bit difficult for Cora, but we walked her through it, and I’m pretty sure it helped. She hasn’t done big multiplication yet, but she will this year in grade three.

Age by math was simply completing this little printable where no matter what number you choose first, as the number of times that you each chocolate each week, your age should come out in the end.

chocolate math: age by chocolate | teachmama.com

age by chocolate _ teachmama.com

Age by chocolate printable: age by chocolate _ teachmama.com

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

 

chocolate math: age by chocolate | teachmama.com

chocolate math: age by chocolate | teachmama.com

Pretty cool, right?

I think so, too! And Maddy, Owen, and Cora were also impressed.

But they were really, really impressed with the multiplying chocolate videos. Don’t we all wish that this could be true? That we could make chocolate appear simply by cutting and moving candy pieces a certain way?

I sure do!

Multiplying Chocolate is super cool to watch.

Here it is as a .gif: 

DR57onF

And here’s the video: 

 

Both are really interesting–and relaxing–to watch.

Leave some chocolate bars on the table, and see what your kids can do. (Of course, be careful with knives, friends. . . ).

We tried it but couldn’t get the chocolate to cut straight enough–so we broke the chocolate and ate it.

I mean. Come on. It’s summer.

 

I simply placed the following on the table and let the kids go–

chocolate math: age by chocolate | teachmama.com

 

chocolate math: age by chocolate | teachmama.com

It was a hit as far as tabletop surprises go, and I’m thrilled that we have another chocolate day coming up soon. 

It’ll be all about fractions using chocolate bars, and though I can’t wait for the kids to try it, I am already sad just thinking that summer will be ending soon (sob!).  How can we really be on week six of ten of our 2015 tabletop surprises?

Unbelievable.

So there you have it–just a fun and sneaky way to get the kids doing a little bit of mathy math in the middle of summer and thinking about things in a little different kind of way.

Pretty neat, right?

Have you tried this before? Has it worked? Do share!

 

 

fyi: Huge and happy thanks to Murderous Maths for sharing the Age by Chocolate formula. I am not even going to pretend to be a math whiz, friends, and many of  you know it. I am doing the best I can with what I have. Also thanks to this site for the chocolate bar illustration

color puzzles: fun math and logic for kids

color puzzles teachmama.com

color puzzles  teachmama.com

 

Sometimes it’s hard for me to find cool ways of sneaking some math into our day, but recently we’ve been on a puzzle kick.

Puzzles are a super way of getting your brain moving in clever and creative ways, allowing you to stretch those critical thinking skills.

Math is so much more than just number recognition and basic facts. Math is actually the study of numbers, equations, functions, and geometric shapes and their relationships. And there’s a whole lot when it comes to their relationships.

Puzzles help us bring to life those those relationships.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Color Puzzles–Fun Math and Logic for Kids: 

Actually, these color puzzles are fun for kids of all ages. In fact, I’ve done so many of the puzzles I’ve found on this site, that some days an hour will pass and it feels like a heartbeat to me.

color puzzles  teachmama.com

And I’m not really a puzzle person.

It’s just that I find these addicting.

color puzzles  teachmama.com

These are the four color puzzles from Erich Friedman, the puzzle king. 

Erich created every single one of these puzzles, friends; it’s amazing. It’s incredible. Honestly, he must be brilliant.

All I did was make these puzzles accessible to my kids for their summertime tabletop surprises. I wanted to be able to print them out, have the kids work on them whenever they could and not have to be plugged into a device.

So it has worked out well.

color puzzles  teachmama.com`

And if you want to try these awesome four-color puzzles, check out Erich’s site:

Or if you want to download the printable, you may do so here: color puzzles teachmama.com

color puzzles: fun math and logic for kids

color puzzles teachmama.com

If you choose to share this printable, which we hope you do, please first link to Erich’s site, and then share this post. Thank you!

 

Do you know that when Maddy was young, I totally forgot about puzzles?

It’s true.

When she was two, I had a girlfriend and her two children over for a playdate. My pal was explaining how her son, who was also two at the time, couldn’t sit still for television programs but could always sit still to work on a puzzle.

I felt like the earth stopped moving. I was holding Owen at the time, and I remember nearly dropping him. He was about six months old, and he was wiggling out of my arms, and at the same time, I felt dizzy and nauseous.

Puzzles?

OH MY GOSH! HOW I FORGOT ABOUT PUZZLES?!

How will Maddy ever succeed in life, having never even seen a puzzle until she was 26 months old?!

Right.

So as soon as I could politely usher my friend out of the house and get my kids strapped into the car, you better believe I beelined for the toy store.

I grabbed an alphabet puzzle and a number puzzle–two chunky Melissa & Doug classics–and we used them for years and years since.

I’m sure I overreacted. Maddy did not need a puzzle right there and then, but my point is that puzzles are important, friends.

Our little ones–and we as adults–need puzzles for many reasons.

In fact, a University of Chicago study found that

Children who play with puzzles between ages 2 and 4 later develop better spatial skills . . . Puzzle play was found to be a significant predictor of spatial skill after controlling for differences in parents’ income, education and the overall amount of parent language input.

In examining video recordings of parents interacting with children during everyday activities at home, researchers found children who play with puzzles between 26 and 46 months of age have better spatial skills when assessed at 54 months of age.        

“The children who played with puzzles performed better than those who did not, on tasks that assessed their ability to rotate and translate shapes,” said psychologist Susan Levine, a leading expert on mathematics development in young children.

Read more here: http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2012/02/15/puzzle-play-helps-boost-learning-important-math-related-skills#sthash.4iDTDIbD.dpuf

Cool, right?

And it’s no secret that puzzles are said to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.  The Fischer Center for Alzheimers recently wrote about a study from the University of California, Berkeley with these findings:

Reading, writing, doing crossword puzzles and solving challenging puzzles may be linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Now a new study shows how mental stimulation may protect the brain. . . . 

“We report a direct association between cognitive activity and Pittsburgh compound B uptake, suggesting that lifestyle factors found in individuals with high cognitive engagement may prevent or slow deposition of beta-amyloid, perhaps influencing the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” the researchers write.

Read more here: https://www.alzinfo.org/articles/crossword-puzzles-alzheimers/

So? Get those puzzles out, friends. No matter how old your little ones are, puzzles are for everyone.

______________________

Join us!

summer fun for kids | teachmama.com

______________________

______________________

Follow us on Instagram: @teachmama1  / #tabletopsurprises

teachmama on instagram

 

Want a little more math fun?

Check out:

Or follow our rockin math pinterest board:

Follow amy mascott @teachmama’s board math on Pinterest.

 

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

fun summertime learning for kids: tabletop surprises

summer fun for kids tabletop surprises wk 1 teachmama

summer fun for kids tabletop surprises wk 1 teachmama

 

Every weekday in the summertime, I start the day by sharing a #tabletopsurprises post.

Just one quick picture of what’s in store for Maddy, Owen, and Cora for their tabletop surprise that day.

Are you on Instagram? If so, I’d love to follow you.

And if you’re joining us in our tabletop surprises this summer, I’d love, love, love for you to share your photos tagged with #tabletopsurprises — it’s so cool to see what everyone is doing!  Use #tabletopsurprises on your photo, and I’ll follow you back.

So here’s the skinny for this week. . .

We started on a Tuesday because the kids’ last day of school was Monday. 

Fun Summertime Learning for Kids– #tabletopsurprises week 1:

Tuesday:

  Wednesday:

Matchstick Math! #tabletopsurprises #math #familyfun #kids #summerfun #ontheblog

A photo posted by amy mascott (@teachmama1) on

 

Thursday:

  Friday:

Good, ole fashioned Play-Doh day! #tabletopsurprises #Iloveplaydoh #freeplay #summerfun #photooftheday

A photo posted by amy mascott (@teachmama1) on

 

______________________

Join us!

summer fun for kids | teachmama.com

 

help kids stay in touch with friends when school’s out: autograph sheet

help kids stay in touch with friends when school's out: autograph sheet teachmama.com

I can’t even believe it, but school’s almost out for my kids.

Though I’m totally psyched to begin our tabletop surprises this year, I’m also always a little sad when the school year ends.

It means my kids are getting older and that time continues to move . . . quickly.

help kids stay in touch with friends when school's out: autograph sheet teachmama.com

This year, especially I feel like I’m having a difficult time as Maddy moves into the wilds of middle school leaving Owen and Cora behind in elementary school. It has been a true joy for me to have all three kids in one school for the last three years.

And I cannot even begin to wrap my head around the fact that I began this blog even before Maddy started Kindergarten. Insanity.

But also awesome, I know. I have so much to be thankful for–that is a fact.

So I’ll spare you the waterworks–that will surely come on Friday at her Fifth Grade Recognition Ceremony (sob!)–and instead I’ll share something that I created for all three of my little loves so that they can stay in touch with their buddies through the long summer months.

It’s pretty cool. And it’s something they’ll just shove in their binder for the last few days, pull out before and after school and maybe at lunchtime.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Help Kids Stay in Touch With Friends When School’s Out–Autograph Sheet: 

This is a super-easy and fun sheet, and the emphasis here is that kids will write their phone number or address so that they can communicate over the summer.

help kids stay in touch with friends when school's out: autograph sheet teachmama.com

help kids stay in touch with friends when school's out: autograph sheet teachmama.com

If kids are old enough and their parents permit it, then hopefully kids can write down their email address or instagram name.

Any way they want to stay in touch, they share.

help kids stay in touch with friends when school's out: autograph sheet

Download the printable and help kids stay in touch with friends when school’s out: help kids stay in touch with friends when school’s out: autograph sheet

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

It’s simple and easy.

And when I showed the kids today, they were pretty happy. And I’ll be pretty happy mid-summer when they ask for a playdate with a pal and I tell them to reach out and plan it themselves!

 

How do you keep kids connected with their pals over the summer? It’s not easy–so I’m open for ideas and suggestions!

Need a few ideas for summertime fun? Join us!

summer fun for kids | teachmama.com

 

 

Are your kids still in school?

Do you want them to do a little ‘thank you’ writing to their teachers? Definitely check out this post over on Scholastic Parents:

end of year thank you  teachmama  pinterest  scholastic

cool activities for kids all summer long: NEW tabletop surprises

cool activities for kids all summer long: NEW tabletop surprises

cool activities for kids all summer long: NEW tabletop surprises

 

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

I’m so happy. I’m so excited.

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

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

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

Here’s the skinny. . .

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

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

And Tabletop Surprises work for us all.

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

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

tabletop surprises   teachmama.com 2

This year, everyone helped make the calendars. 

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

summer fun for older kids teachmama.com tabletop surprises

summer fun for older kids teachmama.com tabletop surprises

summer fun for older kids teachmama.com tabletop surprises

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

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

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

That simple.

summer fun for older kids teachmama.com tabletop surprises

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

A few ways:

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

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

3.  I’ll join them. Really.

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

tabletop surprises   teachmama.com 2

What are the ideas and what makes them so fun?

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

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

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

tabletop surprises calendar 2015 | teachmama.com

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

Awesome.

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

tabletop surprises   teachmama.com 2

Wait. What’s holding you back?

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

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

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

And Tabletop Surprises let them do just that.

tabletop surprises calendar 2015 | teachmama.com

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

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

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

 

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

Give me a look at this stuff. 

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

tabletop surprise 2015 sign up teachmam

Or check out 2013:

Or check out our

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

live focused in 2015 self teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

live focused in 2015 self teachmama.com

 

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

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

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

Here’s the skinny. . .

Live Focused–May is the Month for YOU:

live focused in 2015 self teachmama.com

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

We’re all busy, this I know for sure.

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

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

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

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

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

live focused: may self teachmama.com

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

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

Identify your anchors.

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

live focused in 2015 self teachmama.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s true.

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

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

live focused: focus on SELF teachmama.com

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

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

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

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

 

Remember what you love to do.

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

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

277261_TurnerPins_Batch13

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

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

How about:

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

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

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

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

She’s right. I am happy.


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

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


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

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

 

——————————————-

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

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

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

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

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

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

——————————————-

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

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

I’m kidding. Kind of.

OilSingles

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

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

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

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

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

——————————————-

Oh friends. Let’s get this started.

Finally.

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

 

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

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

Tweet this:

  • tweet this: I am ready for some ME TIME this month! Join @teachmama and me: #livefocused
  • tweet this: I am psyched to join @teachmama in her #livefocused 2015 adventure! Join me: http://ctt.ec/warK2+
  • tweet this: Do YOU want to live a more focused, intentional life this year? Join the #livefocused crew: http://ctt.ec/ad7NC+ @teachmama
  • tweet this: Make this year COUNT. Get focused. Live intentionally. http://ctt.ec/aq9Vy+ #livefocused @teachmama

Check it all out video-style:

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

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click below for #livefocused archives:

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

Disney SUPRISE: a checklist for parents who want to pull off a last-minute surprise for kids

Disney SUPRISE | teachmama.com

Disney SUPRISE | teachmama.com

Last week, we went to Disney World.

For real.

One of our most favorite places on earth and the kids’ as well.

We’ve been there before, and each time we’ve used the weeks leading up to our trip as a time to prepare with activities, to rock out some Disney word games, to earn Disney Dollars, and to build up pins for pin trading. We’ve even pulled off a rockstar Disney Surprise Scavenger Hunt.

So this time we wanted to do something different.

We wanted to pull off the last minute, SURPRISE! WE’RE GOING TO DISNEY!!! And tell Maddy, Owen, and Cora at the last possible second.

It has not been easy. I may be a bad secret-keeper.

But we did it, and we had a blast.

Here’s the skinny. .

Surprise! We’re Going to Disney–A Checklist for Parents Who Want to Pull off a Last-Minute Surprise for Kids:

Our main concern was that we didn’t want to wake the kids up in the morning and go directly to the airport; we know our kids and understand that they need a wee bit more time to process news like that.

So we decided we’d tell them the night before our flight so that they could help pack, gather their things, and be excited the whole night long.

I think that worked best.

So we did this:

Disney SUPRISE | teachmama.com

 

And we turned our surprise into a packing frenzy of sorts by sharing this:

Disney SUPRISE | teachmama.com

Disney SUPRISE | teachmama.com

 

We set out their suitcases in each of their rooms with the direction to ‘head upstairs before dinner to put clean laundry away’.

On each suitcase was:

  • the Packing Challenge Letter in an envelope
  • their super-cool bleached-out Disney shirt
  • their Magic Band
  • a Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry letter rolled up in a scroll (more to come on that!)

We followed them upstairs, hanging slightly behind them, and heard this: 

  • Um, what does this mean? 
  • Where are they sending us? 
  • Why are our suitcases out here? 
  • What’s in the envelope? 
  • What’s going on with Mom and Dad?

Before we knew it, the kids had ripped open their envelopes and were jumping up and down. We’re going to Disney! We’re going to DISNEY! We’re going to Disney TOMORROW! Oh my gosh!!!

Disney SUPRISE | teachmama.com

 

And though we were up a little bit later than I’d hoped, the packing frenzy check sheet helped us tremendously. It gave Maddy, Owen, and Cora a focus for their packing, and it gave us a timeframe in which to complete the task at hand.

Here’s the packing frenzy checksheet:

Disney SUPRISE | teachmama.com

 

You can download the sheet here: packing frenzy list- disney BLANK

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

Disney SUPRISE | teachmama.com

 

It was awesome.

And the trip, as we knew it would be, was an absolute blast. There’s more on that coming this week!

I just got way too excited to keep filming and shooting photos. There was way too much jumping up and down, hooting and hollering to be done!

Do you want our parent checklist so that you don’t forget anything, my friends?

Disney SUPRISE | teachmama.com

Parent Checklist: parent checklist _ disney surprise teachmama.com

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

 

Here are a few other post about all things Disney: 

Disney SUPRISE  teachmama.com

fyi: As a participant in the 2015 Disney Social Media Moms Conference, I paid for my conference passes and was given hotel accommodations, park tickets, invitations to special park events, and some gift items.  I was not required to write about my experiences, and my opinions here are all my own, influenced only by my three little park-h0ppers and Disney-loving husband. 

teaching kids to say ‘thank you’ to everyday heroes

teach kids to thank everyday heroes teachmama.com


sponsored post

 

 

teach kids to thank everyday heroes  teachmama.com

 

Too often those important people who do everyday jobs are forgotten.

Even though they work hard to make our days brighter and lives easier, many times days go by when they don’t get ample thanks. And they deserve it.

So our focus this week is to to just that–thank our everyday heroes.

We’re teaching our kids as frequently as we are able to say ‘thank you’ to the people who work hard every day, around them.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Teaching Kids to Say ‘Thank You’ to Everyday Heroes: 

Much like we did with our Surprise Notes for the Neighbors way back when, our Thank You Notes for Everyday Heroes will be the same: quick, easy cards of thanks.

 

teaching kids to say 'thank you' to everyday heroes | teachmama.com

teaching kids to say 'thank you' to everyday heroes | teachmama.com

Just simple tokens of gratitude for the people who do jobs all around us: the postal carrier, the delivery person, the newspaper deliverer, and the folks who work at our bank, dry cleaner, gas station, and grocery store.

Even though our teachers get recognized with Teacher Appreciation Week, our everyday heroes rarely get any regular thanks.

This is just one way that we, as parents, will do what we can to teach our kids workforce appreciation.

teaching kids to say 'thank you' to everyday heroes | teachmama.com

teaching kids to say 'thank you' to everyday heroes | teachmama.com

teaching kids to say 'thank you' to everyday heroes | teachmama.com

It’s simple. But it’s really powerful. Really!

 

The Thank You Notes for Everyday Heroes are here: 

teaching kids to say 'thank you' to everyday heroes | teachmama.com

You can download the pdf here: thank you brighten day notes _ teachmama.com

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

 

teaching kids to say 'thank you' to everyday heroes | teachmama.com

We will simply put these cards in a small plastic bag, sign them with a smiley face and a first name, and hand them out as we need them. Keeping them in the car may be the best way to do it!

 

Here are a few ways to get started thinking about our everyday heroes: 

Check out the “1 in one hundred million” site–it’s a site created by Kronos that’s devoted to sharing the personal stories of people who do the many important and too-often unrecognized jobs upon which we all rely.

In these videos, ordinary people in the workforce share their stories. It’s a great resource to be used as a starting point for your kids.

teaching kids to say 'thank you' to everyday heroes | teachmama.com

teaching kids to say 'thank you' to everyday heroes | teachmama.com

teaching kids to say 'thank you' to everyday heroes | teachmama.com

Or depending on where in the world you live, the videos and resources may really give your kids a more clear sense of what kind of jobs are out there.

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

 

Want a bit more about how to teach kids workforce appreciation?

Check out:

teach kids workforce appreciation  teachmama.com

 

kronos: workforce appreciationfyi: This post was written as part of a partnership with Find Your Influence, and as always, ideas and opinions are all my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator. Find out more at 1 in one hundred million. Subscribe so you don’t miss any of their videos and follow #WorkforceStories and #1in100MM!

 

baseball game scavenger hunt: fun for kids during the game

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

I have a hard time sitting still during sporting events.

I won’t lie.

I love the tailgating and the food and the crowds, but sometimes. . . the games seem really long to me.

So we’ve been creative in the past with our kid-friendly learning during baseball games, and this year, we kicked it up a notch.

Now that I have three readers on my hands, we can do a little bit more.

Yesterday, we celebrated Spring Break at a National’s Baseball Game, and we rocked out a new-for-us Baseball Game Scavenger Hunt.

It. Was. So. So. SO FUN.

Maddy, Owen, and Cora all admitted that the Scavenger Hunt was a great part of the day (wooo-hooo!). So if I don’t say so myself, I think I hit it out of the ballpark with this one.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Baseball Game Scavenger Hunt–Fun for Kids During the Game: 

Our game was rainy, grey, and cold, so the Baseball Game Scavenger Hunt came in handy big time.

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

 

We got to the game around lunchtime and ate at our favorite ballpark cafe, one that allows you to sit at a table right on the far side of the field and watch the game.

I mentioned to the kids that I had a pretty cool scavenger hunt for them once we got comfy and ordered our food–I was thinking they’d want to start once we got back to our real seats, but as always, my boy was ready to roll.

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

He said, Hey Mom, this is cool. And he started checking off boxes left and right.

I said, Owen, the thing is, you have to actually see each thing before you check it off. You may not even see each one today–but we’re looking for it. And at the end, we’ll count each person’s checkmarks, and we’ll see who saw the most. 

Will we get anything if we win? Maddy wanted to know.

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

Maybe. I said. Maybe this is how you earn your ice-cream treat if it even gets warm enough to have one. 

Bam.

The Baseball Game Scavenger Hunt gets kids to read. For real. 

I wanted the scavenger hunt to be long and skinny so that it could easily fit on kids’ laps. And I wanted it to be easily folded and put into coat or jean pockets.

So that’s what I did.

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

 

I made it two columns with 45 items in each.

I wanted some things baseball-related and some things fan-related.

So kids are searching for 45 things including:

  • bat boy
  • announcer box
  • foul ball
  • crazy funny fan
  • crying baby
  • bunt
  • pop fly
  • Cracker Jacks
  • run down
  • and more!

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

 

It’s not for everyone. If you have a kiddo who loves the game and who is totally, 100% into watching each and every play, then let him or her watch. For goodness’ sake let that child watch and enjoy the game.

But if you have a child who needs a little bit of focus, who maybe isn’t so into the game, then the Baseball Game Scavenger Hunt is for you.

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

We had a lot of fun with it–Maddy couldn’t find a ‘homemade sign or poster’ so she made one on the back of her hunt sheet. (It’s hard to read, but it says ‘Nats WIN!’)

So funny. So, so funny.

And one of our kids had a bit of a breakdown when we first got to the field, so someone suggested that we call that the ‘crying baby’ and check it off the list.

Love it.

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

baseball game scavenger hunt _ teachmama.com

 

Here’s the Baseball Game Scavenger Hunt if you’d like to download it and use it for your crew: baseball game scavenger hunt _ teachmama.com

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

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

 

Think you’ll use it?

Let us know how it goes!

Want a few more fun ideas for learning and having fun on the go?

Check out:

Or follow our pinterest board full of fun ideas:

Follow amy mascott @teachmama’s board neat-o, fun, NEW things for us to try on Pinterest.

april fools’ tricks for last-minute prankster parents

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents teachmama

post contains affiliate links

 

 

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

 

Oh, friends.

How I love April Fools’ Day.

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

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

No way, Jose.

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

Here’s the skinny. . .

April Fools’ Tricks for Last-Minute Prankster Parents:

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

1. Brownies for Lunch

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

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

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

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

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

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

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

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

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

april fools brownies

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

2. Basketball Hoop Plug

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

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

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

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

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

Then I raised the hoop back to 10 feet.

Bam. Swoosh! Or not. . .

3. Banded Hairbrushes

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

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

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

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

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

Heeheheheeeee.

4. Hidden Chargers

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

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

I took them all away.

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

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

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

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

5. Removed Batteries

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

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

Nothing fancy, friends.

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

Just a simple removal of the battery.

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

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

6. Water Sports Drinks

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

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

Gross. And. Frustrating.

Because they’re not cheap.

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

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

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

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

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

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

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

Bwwhahaaaaa.

7.  Switched Cereal

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

 

Ahhhhh, a simple one but a good one.

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

So tricky am I. So tricky.

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

 

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

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

So they’ll be ready.

I think. . .

 

Want some more ideas? Our many hilarious ideas include: 

More April Fools’ Day ideas: 

———————————————————————–

april fools' tricks for last-minute prankster parents  teachmama

 

 

 

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

 

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

fyi: affilliate links used in this post