trace, copy, recall–learn those spelling words!

trace, copy, recall--learn those spelling words!

originally published November 8, 2010

 

trace copy recall | teachmama.com

 

 

Maddy has been so proud of her spelling and word-learning progress over the last few weeks (and so are we!).  She really is borderline excited when I print out a new list of Spelling Word Cards for each list, which makes this teacher-mama want to do a jig of joy.

Maybe it’s that we’ve upped the ‘fun factor‘ of word learning, or maybe she’s riding the high of her success; either way, I’m loving it because her spelling work is something that we’ve begun to look forward to each week.

We’ve been starting each new spelling list with the same activity–Trace, Copy, Recall–except that instead of tracing, she’s been writing the word twice.  Because until tonight, I didn’t think to make a handy-dandy little sheet so that she could trace the words.  Maddy was simply copying once from the word card, copying then from the word she wrote, and then covering both and writing the word from memory.   Poor, poor Maddy.

It only took a minute for me to whip up a little Trace, Copy, Recall sheet so that she actually could trace the word the first time, and I’m so excited because I’ll just modify the template each week for my happy little speller.  Woo-hoo!

  • Trace, Copy, Recall: As only one of the many fun ways to learn spelling words, I really think it’s worthwhile to begin with this activity because it prepares learners in a graduated way to begin committing the words to memory.

When kiddos trace the letters of the word, they’re getting their fingers ready to write the letters.  When they copy the word, they’re composing the letters for a second time and working their brains to remember the letter order.  That final recall of letters forces students to think about the letter sounds as they fit together to form the word.

 

trace copy recall | learn words | teachmama.com

Maddy’s trying to recall the spelling of one of her ‘short o’ words.

 trace copy recall | learn words | teachmama.com

I encourage Maddy to say the letters out loud, and although she sometimes loses steam by the end of the list, if she says the letters at least one time for each word, I’m happy. When kiddos say the letters as they write them, it’s one more way to ensure that the letters, sounds, and patterns make their way into the learners’ brains–the combination of  the physical writing and the vocalizing helps.

When she’s finished with the word, she checks her work with the word on the card.  Then she reads the word aloud and moves on.

It’s short, it’s worthwhile, and it seems to help build a slight foundation for the rest of the week’s Spelling Word Fun if we start with this.  So we’ll keep it up, I suppose. . .

 

In case you’re interested, here’s what we’ve been using to help support Maddy’s spelling word work:

 

Word Cards:

trace, copy, recall--learn those spelling words!

 

Trace, Copy, Recall Sheets: trace copy recall | teachmama.com

Fun Ways to Learn Spelling Words:

20 fun ways to learn spelling words

 

So, should every student in every be coming home with spelling words every single week? What’s the deal?

All recent reading research points to the fact that the ole days of  random spelling word lists should be long over and that the approach to spelling instruction should be more word learning than simply spelling memorization.   The word-learning approach is “teacher-directed yet student-centered” and when integrated into a comprehensive literacy program, this kind of instruction can most fully “help support young children’s literacy development”.  It should be systematic, organized, and individualized.

Essentially, Word Study instruction should be:

  • based on individual student’s multiple, varied assessments;
  • used with homogeneous, small-group instruction;
  • given special class time each day;
  • teaching word knowledge (about words), not just the words  themselves;
  • clearly demonstrated and used in reading and writing instruction;
  • incorporated in strategy instruction (how to read, write, and use the word);
  • used with the Word Wall;
  • involving time for ‘Word Work’ and play with the words;
  • integrated into authentic reading and writing experiences.

What does this mean for you? It means that if your child is not coming home with a spelling list each week but she is following some sort of Word Study program in school, one that contains all–or most, or even some, of the above elements–then maybe there’s no reason for a spelling list after all.

If your child is coming home with a spelling list each week, and the words aren’t grouped according to similar patterns or sounds, and the words seem totally random or disconnected, then maybe you want to talk to the teacher about the Word Study program they’re using.  Ask why they’re using it and how it supports the balanced literacy program.

For more, please see Williams, Phillips-Birdsong, Hufnangle, Hungler, Lundstrom’s article, “Word Study Instruction in the K-2 Classroom” (The Reading Teacher, April 2009).  The information and quotes in this post are taken from this article.  It amazed me how much reading research the authors integrated into this article, and I found it extremely informative.

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime teachmama.com

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a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime  teachmama.com

 

We are so lucky now that our kids can literally have the world at their fingertips. With technology today and well-designed educational apps, kids can basically explore the world from the comfort of their own home.

Virtual travel is something that our family has enjoyed for years now–through food especially.

Recently we had a chance to do a little exploration of sorts–enjoying a meal at a nearby Belgian restaurant and then challenging ourselves to make the same recipe at home.

It was a blast.

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

And along the way, we researched and experimented and learned a ton.

Your at-home cultural adventure need not be focused on Belgian mussels; you can do whatever exploring suits your own family. But here’s how we did it.

And read on to find out how you can even win a chance at a $25,000 Trip of a Lifetime for your family.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Belgian Mussels With Kids–A Cultural Adventure at Home:

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

When we started brainstorming how we wanted to explore another culture at home, we started first by looking around us.

  • What ethnic restaurants were nearby?
  • Which cultures did we want to explore?
  • What foods did we want to try?
  • What could we do with little financial strain?
  • Which recipes could we then try at home?
  • What interested my kids most? 

We really didn’t have to look too far. With a top-rated Belgian restaurant named Mannekin-Pis within an hour’s driving distance, I knew we had a winner.

A little research into the background of the restaurant–and the reason for its name–was enough to get Maddy, Owen, and Cora more than interested.

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

I simply copied a bit of information about the real Mannekin-Pis in Brussels, Belgium, and I left it on the breakfast table.

And the minute the kids caught sight of the small boy statue, relieving himself into a fountain, they went nuts.

What the whaaaa?  Look at what that guy is doing!

He’s peeing in a fountain! Mom! Why’d you leave this here? 

Why is he in all those different costumes? Who’s dressing him up?

 

Then Maddy, Owen, and Cora read the articles, and they found some answers.

We talked a little about what they learned: who the statue was, some of the legends, where he was located, and why he was all dressed up.

I said, So we’re actually going to go to a restaurant not too far from us that is called Mannekin-Pis, and we’re going to try some new Belgian foods. How’s that sound?

They were psyched. Psyched.

At the restaurant, we explored a ton of new foods: traditional Belgian mussels, seafood stew, potato-leek soup, pork, trout, and of course, Belgian chocolates for dessert.

We were thrilled to try to replicate one of the recipes on our own, and we decided that the mussels would be the most fun to try.

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

Owen stepped up as the main chef for our mussels dinner. We searched and searched and found a recipe that most reminded us of the pot of mussels we had only a few nights before: Mussels in Saffron and White Wine Broth.

We made our shopping list, assembled our ingredients, and started cooking.

Our recipe had us trying saffron, a new-for-us spice, and preparing a food we had never previously attempted.

If you’d like to grab our recipe, you can download it here as a pdf: belgian mussels _ teachmama.com

belgian mussels with kids | teachmama.combelgian mussels _ teachmama.com

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

Owen really took charge of this recipe. It was a riot.

He did everything from chopping the vegetables for the broth to cutting bread to cleaning the mussels, and he was uber proud when he finished.

 

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

The mussels were a complete success!

But even more important than making a new for us food was showing Maddy, Owen, and Cora that with a little bit of time, effort, and energy, they could bring a totally new culture to our very own home.

I love it when kids do some serious learning in the kitchen!

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

You could do just about anything like we did–experience a new food at a restaurant and then try to bring it home.

It’s a fantastic learning experience for the whole family.

And it doesn’t have to stop with food; consider learning a new culture through crafts, dances, songs, or language.

 

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

 

MWorld Educational App:

Or, if you’re not sure where to begin, know that bringing cool cultural experiences into our homes is easier than ever thanks to technology.

We’ve been playing with a new app for the past few weeks called MWorld.

mworld app

MWorld is an educational app that lets kids celebrate the world in all its glory.

The MWorld app allows users to explore, create their own worlds, and discover new and exciting adventures.

 

belgian mussels with kids: a cultural adventure at home & trip of a lifetime

mworld app collage | teachmama.com

 

Created by an incredible team of educators and developers from Monash University, this app packs an incredible amount of fun and creative learning into one platform. 

Maddy, Owen, and Cora are only just beginning to scratch the surface of all that MWorld has to offer. And they’re learning a ton and enjoying the ride.

It’s a must-see.

I have 100, 20-credit MWorld codes to give to 100 teachmama.com readers valued at over $25 each!

Here’s how:

  1. Head over to MWorld site, discoverMWorld.com, and create an account.
  2. Enter this special code: amymwjtujg
  3. Log into your account and redeem your 20 MWorld credits!

Please note:  This offer is only valid with purchase and can only be redeemed once per account. All MWorld purchases are subject to the terms and conditions available atdiscovermworld.com/terms-conditions.

Trip of a Lifetime: 

mworld trip of a lifetime | teachmama.com

Free codes for 100 teachmama.com readers? Really.

And a chance to win a Trip of a Lifetime? Yes. Really.

Do you want to go on the trip of a lifetime? To celebrate the global launch of MWorld, Monash is offering an adventurous family the opportunity to travel the world with a AUD $25,000 (over USD $20,000) travel voucher.

Head to the Trip of a Lifetime site to find out more and to share what you would do on your ‘trip of a lifetime’

Who knows? You may win your trip around the world, iPads, GoPros, and more!  If you win, let me know!!

 

 

fyi: This post is part of my work with the MWorld Trip of a Lifetime program.  As always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my personal experience as a parent and educator–and, of course, my three little world travelers.

valentine’s day class party ideas: cool activities to get kids moving and creating

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

sponsored post

 

 

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

Let’s face it: classroom parties are difficult to throw.

Scratch that.  Class parties easy to throw but difficult to throw well.

And what I’ve found over time–and by being a classroom parent for five years–is that certain things work and certain things don’t.

Having three kids in elementary school has helped me tremendously to be a better planner, organizer, and facilitator of THE class party.

So this Valentine’s Day, I’m mixing things up a bit.

We’ve got some really cool activities to get kids moving and creating, and I’m confident it will be awesome.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Valentine’s Day Class Party Ideas–Cool Activities to Get Kids Moving and Creating: 

Definitely check out Valentine’s Day Class Parties, 2.0 so you can grab a copy of the parent letter.  You need that because you need help and support of other parents if you want to make this party rock!

After connecting with the classroom teacher about times, activities, and details, I came up with the following plan for this year’s party:

Class Party Plan: Every party needs a plan.

valentine's day class party ideas: cool activities to get kids moving and creating

You want the parents to know what’s going on, and you want the teacher to know what’s going on.

And it’s never perfect; sometimes you’re ahead and sometimes you’re behind, but you need a guide. You need a game plan.

This year’s Class Party Plan is here to download if you’d like to use it: valentine party plan 2015

(And as with all of the printables on this site, if you do choose to share it–and we hope you do!–please link to this post instead of the attachment page. Thank you!)

3 15-minute stations:

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com bags

You always need a quick and easy way to divide the class into smaller groups. I like using heart foamies or stickers that the kids put right on their shirts or hands. Use any of the stickers mentioned here–the
Melissa and Doug Sweets & Treats Stickers Pad
have so many you can try.  Maybe have a cherry group, a candy group, and a gum ball group. Or a flower candy, kiss candy, and gumdrop candy group.

Just remember to cut out the stickers before the party, put them in a hat or small bag and have the students pick one at the beginning of the party. Voila! Your groups are created!

 

1. Decorate Valentine Mail Bags: 

valentine's day class party ideas: cool activities to get kids moving and creating

This is the first time that we’ve ever added this into the party mix, so it was really fun for me to hunt down something that would work for our class.

The key here is to be quick, but fun and engaging.

I love what we came up with, and you can find all of the details here: Valentine Mail Bags.

 

2. Art Station: 

I wanted activities that would be cool for the kids but that they could take home, stress free immediately after the party. So that eliminates any gluey projects.

Thankfully, my friends at Melissa & Doug have a few fabulous options for us.

  • Sand Art

valentine's day class party ideas: sand art | teachmama.com

Really. Sand Art at a class party is doable. It’s quick. It’s way cool. And you can make it relatively mess-free.

The Melissa and Doug Sand Art Bottles Craft Kit come three to a pack, but they’re affordable. It makes so much more sense to use your class donations for something like this rather than those teeny, junky prizes kids will throw away when they get home.

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

So to do the Sand Art, you’ll definitely need to save your take-out containers–the lids will work perfectly as little bases for the plastic containers.

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

Bring a roll of duct tape and make a big tape roll so that the container stays still on the plastic lid. That way, when kids are pouring sand in, they won’t wiggle and wobble.

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

——————————————

  • Scratch Art

We’ve used Scratch Art before for both our Valentine parties and Valentine cards. Kids really like them.

We will use Scratch Art Stickers, Scratch Art Keychains, and Scratch Art Fashion this year. I think kids will dig the choices.

valentine's day class party ideas scratch art  teachmama.comScratch Art Stickers come two sheets per pack, so I plan to tear them in half and then in half again for four sheets per pack. We used
Melissa and Doug Scratch Art® Animal Friends Stickers
.

Scratch Art Keychains come six per party pack, and I had several packs left over from a birthday party a while back, so I thought I’d add them to the Scratch Art table.  Love these:  Melissa and Doug Scratch Art® Party Pack – Key Chains.

Scratch Art Fashion (Melissa and Doug Scratch Art® Party Pack – Fashion) come twelve per pack, and we used these way back when Maddy turned 9 (her Golden Birthday!), so I added a few packs of these to the mix.

I am not forcing all kids to do all art here; rather, I figured that since the projects are super quick, that they could do two in the 15 minute rotation. Or if they finish quickly and want to do three, that’s fine, too. Or if they’re meticulous and only finish Sand Art, great. That’s their take-away.

——————————————

3. Action Games:

Kids need to move. Big time. Great parties have a mix of movement and craft, so here’s our ‘get up and move’ portion.  I think since we have 15 minutes for this, we’ll walk through each activity together, one by one.

Best bet for these? Go out in the hallway so you have the most room.

  • Frisbee Race

valentine's day class party ideas frisbee  teachmama.com

Be the team to have the most hearts on the Flying Disk by the end of the game!  The little Melissa and Doug Tootle Turtle Flying Disk are adorable and perfect for this game, and all you need are a bunch of small  tissue paper and construction paper hearts on top.

valentines day class party 2015 | teachmama.com

valentines day class party 2015 | teachmama.com

1. Divide the small group in half.  Put students in two lines at one end of the hallway.

2. Tape two hearts on the floor at the opposite end of the hall, one for each team.

3. Give the first person one flying disc with about 20 hearts on top of it.

4. That person moves as quickly to the end of the hallway, touches the heart on the floor, and walks back to his or her team.  Depending on the age of the kids, make this one-handed or two-handed.

5. As carefully as possible, the student hands the disc to the next person, and the next person does the same thing.

6. The winning team has the most hearts at the end of the race!

——————————————-

  • Love Bugs Cleanup

valentine's day class party ideas: love bugs | teachmama.com

Be the team to move the most love bugs from the big pile to the small container!  All you need are shovels (I like the
Melissa and Doug Clicker Crab Shovel
), small plastic container (we used takeout containers) and a bunch of plastic bugs. We used
Melissa and Doug Bag of Bugs
.

valentines day class party 2015 | teachmama.com

valentines day class party 2015 | teachmama.com

valentines day class party 2015 | teachmama.com

1. Students are divided into two teams, just like before.

2. Dump all of the love bugs in a pile at the other end of the hallway.

3. The first person in each line takes the plastic shovel, runs to the love bug pile, and tries to scoop up as many love bugs as possible.

4. He or she then transfers those bugs to the small plastic container at the opposite end of the hallway.

5. The team that transfers the most love bugs at the end wins!

 ———————————————–

  • Heart Target

This is super-simple and the only thing that makes it Valentines-y is the fact that there are hearts around the cute little target. Whatever.  It’s hand-eye coordination. It’s numbers. It’s sneaky math, friends! It’s a win.

For this game, you need a target. We used the Melissa and Doug Tootle Turtle Target Game.

1. Two teams stand about 5 feet away from the target.

2. At the same time (we need to up the fun factor here, folks), players toss a beanbag at the target.  They get two beanbags to throw.

3. The parent facilitator writes down the score on the score sheet: heart target score sheet

4. The team with the highest score at the end wins!

valentines class party ideas | teachmamacom

heart target score sheet

Make it fun by having the score posted on the wall and encourage the kids to keep score as you go.

Please note: Class parties should be fun, easy, and low-stress for all kids. If you have sensitive kids in the class or think that keeping score may be stressful, don’t do it! Maybe instead give one point for every beanbag that hits the target.

Keep it light!

 ——————————————

Valentine Delivery:

Everyone’s favorite part of the party, right? Move kids back to their seats.

Snack and Valentine Delivery will happen simultaneously, because the kids can’t possibly all deliver their Valentines and the same exact moment.

valentines day class party 2015 | teachmama.com

So have kids sit down, and have parents pass out the plates of food.

Then call each group up at a time to get their Valentines and deliver them to their classmates.  While one group is delivering, two groups are eating.

Try to keep it level.

Snack

Our school only allows store-bought treats at this point because they’re trying to keep all allergies under control. I get it. It makes it so much easier and so much safer for those families for whom allergies are an every day fear.

For Valentine’s Day class parties, I’ll have:

  • small water bottles
  • Valentine cupcakes from the store
  • Individually wrapped goldfish snacks or pretzel snacks
  • individually wrapped fruit–apples or small fruit cups

That’s it. Call me crazy, but I don’t think kids need a mad sugar overload here. A little sweet treat and a little healthy treat, and we’re done. Bam.

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com bags

Extra time?

It’s doubtful that if you follow this schedule you’ll have extra time, but if you do, an oldie but goodie: Freeze Dance!  Turn on the music, and let kids jam it out while it plays.

When the music stops, everybody freezes.

Easy and fun.

Plus, the kids love to show off their moves.

And if kids don’t want to play, no biggie! Let them open up their Valentines!

 ———————————————-

valentine's day class party ideas, 2.0 | teachmama.com

valentine's day party ideas

I love sharing what we do at our class parties so that it’s easier for other parents to throw their own class parties.

This shouldn’t be difficult. It’s been done for years and years now, so there are a boatload of ideas out there.
What are your favorite Valentine ideas for kids? I’d love to hear ’em!

Here are a few of ours:

 

I wr2015-BlogAmbassador-Iconote this post as part of the Melissa & Doug Blog Ambassador program.   I’ve worked with Melissa & Doug for years and years now, and am always raving about their products for fun and learning. Read theMelissa & Doug blog to get the skinny! 

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

live focused: let’s talk about friendship

live focused: let's talk about friendship

I have been incredibly moved and overwhelmed at the response to our #livefocused challenge.

Seriously.

I have received dozens of private messages, emails, and tweets about the fact that this is what so many readers need and want.

Sure, everyone digs the activities that they can do with their kids and how to turn everyday events into learning opportunities, but the whole living focused thing? They need that, too.

live focused in 2015 friendship teachmama.com sq

Not only do they need it, they want it.

So we rocked some serious organization in January–our home, our play spaces, our weeks, our time with kids, our photos, our finances, and more.

This month? We’re talking friendship.

Join us.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Live Focused–Let’s Talk About Friendship: 

I am really, really bad at this, so I’m excited about the focus on friendship for February. I don’t know about you, but I’m more of a friend of convenience than anything. It’s awful.

Growing up, I spent all of my free time with three friends from the ‘hood.

Come grade school, I had a tight group of friends with whom I did everything.

When in high school, my world was my high school bffs, many of whom were my pals from grade school.

In college, I rarely left the sides of my housemates and sorority sisters.

After college, I hung with my colleagues and my (then) boyfriend (now husband).

When my kids were babies, I spent free time with MOMS Club friends.

Now that my kids are in elementary school, I tend to spend time with my kids’ friends’ parents.

I’m not a card person. I’m not a big birthday person. Occasionally if someone is on my mind, I’ll send a totally random, out-of-the-blue card to say ‘hello’, but that’s rare, so don’t be impressed.

live focused 2015 teachmama.com FEB collage

 

All this is fine and natural, right, except that I rarely backtrack. I rarely carve out time to stay in touch with those people with whom I spent hours upon hours upon hours and huge chunks of my life.

People whom I truly love and admire–and miss–but whom I do not connect with on a regular basis.

Often I’m not even sure I am connecting with my husband or my own children like I should; instead I’m busy running, running, running and not really appreciating the amazing spouse that he is or the crazy-cool kids that they are.

 

 

So this month, though I’m not expecting to miraculously reconnect with all people from all parts of my life, I am going to make an effort to make meaningful connections with friends: old friends, my husband, my kids, and my current friends.

We’re doing our best to live focused this year, so our goal is to live intentionally and deliberately–using time wisely so that we can live life to the fullest.

Spending time with friends and loved ones is one piece of the puzzle.

It’s amazing how energizing and refreshing it is to actually spend time with friends–and I’m not talking about facebook messaging or google chatting.

I mean honest to goodness, catch up over the phone or in person.

live focused in 2015 friendship teachmama.com

live focused printable february teachmama.com

Because we’re not trying to move mountains here, just trying to make small changes that make a big difference, we set four friendship goals this month:

  1. Contact an old friend.
  2. Plan an at-home date with your spouse.
  3. Hang out with your kids, doing something special.
  4. Go out with some friends.

Grab February’s printable here: live focused printable february teachmama.com

If you choose to share this printable, and we hope you do!, please link to this post instead of the document. Thank you!

You can do what you want, when you are able. But I figured that since there are four weeks in the month, shoot for one each week.

And since this is the month of love, we’ll all be eager to spend some quality time with loved ones.

I’m ready. Are you? Which will you start first?

live focused in 2015 friendship teachmama.com sq

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:

Check it all out video-style:

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

live focused 2015 teachmama.com b w collage

 _____________________________________

 _____________________________________

click below for #livefocused archives:

ive focused in 2015 organization teachmama.com sq

scratch off ticket valentines: candy-free and totally fun

scratch off ticket valentines: teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

scratch off ticket valentines:  teachmama.com

Every year the kids and I have a really fun time searching for cool Valentines to make for their class party Valentine exchange.

We don’t go super-crazy.

We just do something a little special that will hopefully make their friends and teachers smile.

It’s a yearly tradition–the search, the planning, the mess, the crafting, and the delivering. It’s a lot of fun, and honestly, I could weep thinking that this yera will be Maddy’s last year for a Valentine’s Day class party.

Next year, as a big sixth grader, there’s no time for parties. *Sob!*

So this year, we’re rocking it.

We made cool Scratch-Off Ticket Valentines that reminded us of the Scratch Off Tickets I gave them for New Year’s a few years back. But these Valentines are for their buddies.

Super easy, candy-free, and fun.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Scratch-Off Ticket Valentines–Candy-Free and Totally Fun:

So we knew the basic premise of how to make these–the scratch off part we did before. However, the Valentine’s messages and how we wanted to have kids scratch off was new to us.

scratch off ticket valentines:  teachmama.com

What you’ll need to make thsese:

Here’s how:

1. Download the Scratch-Off Ticket Valentine template: scratch off ticket valentines | teachmama.com

 scratch off ticket valentines:  teachmama.comscratch off ticket valentines | teachmama.com

 

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

 

2. Print the Scratch-Off Ticket Valentines onto cardstock.

There are six Valentines on each sheet, for a total of 12 Valentines on the document. So print accordingly.

scratch off ticket valentines:  teachmama.com

3. Mix the mysterious Scratch-Off paint:

So tricky, right? Don’t sweat the mixing part. I’m sure it will be fine.

scratch off ticket valentines:  teachmama.com

4. Cut small pieces of clear contact paper to completely cover the part you want scratched off. Easy.

scratch off ticket valentines:  teachmama.com

 

scratch off ticket valentines:  teachmama.com

scratch off ticket valentines:  teachmama.com

I helped the kids with this one simply by cutting a size that worked and then placing it on top of each card. Then the kids peeled and pressed.

Peeling and smashing contact paper can be so much fun. Come on, you know it.

 

5. Paint the Scratch-Off paint onto the card.  Then let dry.

 

scratch off ticket valentines:  teachmama.com

 

scratch off ticket valentines:  teachmama.com

 

6. Stick a penny on the card. This is totally not necessary, but Maddy had some fun, fancy tape that she wanted to use, so we added the penny.

Most kids will have something in their desks that they can use to scratch off the tickets, like the edge of a ruler or something.

scratch off ticket valentines:  teachmama.com

scratch off ticket valentines:  teachmama.com

Practice first before you sign and send them all!

 

7. Sign and send!

We always try to address Valentines to each individual child. I think it’s much more personal, and I think the writing can only help our kids. I find it amazing that my kids have gone to school with these friends for years now and still don’t know how to spell many names.

scratch off ticket valentines:  teachmama.com

scratch off ticket valentines:  teachmama.com

So if possible, grab a class list and have your child address each card. Extra reading and writing help? Yes, please.

If not, then just have him or her write any of the following in the ‘to’ line:

  • my friend
  • my pal
  • YOU!
  • classmate
  • 2nd grader
  • buddy
  • amigo/ amiga

scratch off ticket valentines:  teachmama.com

 

Easy, right?  And very cute.

I love how Maddy, Owen, and Cora helped find messages and decide on what to add to the cards. And we all agreed that it was cool how there was a lot of variety here–some were kind of question-answer Valentines, some were just Valentine-lovey, some were kind of gamey. You get it.

 

Need some other homemade Valentine ideas?

Check it out:

 

What are your favorite Valentine ideas for kids? I’d love to hear ’em!

Here are a few of ours:

 

 

 

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

be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering

be nicer than necessary notes teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering | teachmama.com

We’re in a mad winter funk over here.

A serious winter funk.

Lots of snow days and delays grey skies and dreary days and indoor recess at school means that there’s been a lot of grumpy, grouchy kids at our house.

And parents.

No matter what we do to mix things up, it seems like we’ve all been doing more arguing and bickering than I care to admit.  And it’s not just the kids–sure, of course, it’s the kids.  But it’s also my husband and me. The dog. The birds and fish.

We’re all a little cranky.

And I’m chalking it up to the winter blues.

So instead of allowing it to totally take over our lives this month, this month of luuuurve and friendship, we decided to focus on being nicer.

Our #livefocused challenge has us focusing on friendship over here, and because being nice is a really big part of friendship, we’re trying to be nicer than necessary this month.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Be Nicer Than Necessary Notes–Lunchbox Love to Help Us Stop Bickering:

Right.

be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering | teachmama.com

Because  Maddy, Owen, and Cora all really dug our True Holiday Spirit Notes during Advent this year, I fashioned the Be Nicer than Necessary Notes after them.  The kids liked how these notes were simple and small.

Today, at breakfast, when I introduced the idea to them, I said,

You guys. This past month has been a little crazy over here. There’s been a whole lot more arguing, bickering, and yelling than I care to admit. And it’s not just you.

Daddy and I have been arguing. Brady has been cranky. The birds and fish have been nasty.

We have all been super-cranky, and something has to change.

 

be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering | teachmama.com

 

be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering | teachmama.com

 

 

We talked about how hard the winter is and how much more time we spend stuck indoors and how hard that can be, but they agreed: something has to change, or we’re all going to go insane.

I said, We’re going to do what Maddy and I read about in the book, Wonder–we’re going to channel our inner Summer (a character from the book) and focus on being nicer than necessary. 

Owen said, Oh Mom, that’s not at all catchy: ‘Nicer than necessary notes’? Can’t you think of something better? 

I explained that the name isn’t as important as what we’d be doing but if he wanted to think of a newer, better, and more catchy name that he totally could.

be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering | teachmama.com

be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering | teachmama.com

 

I said that each day, I’ll share a note in their lunchbox and that we’ll talk about what we did–or didn’t do–that night at dinner.

No pressure. Just a quick little reminder each day to be nicer than necessary. To be kinder than expected. To give a little more and to bring a little more sunshine into other people’s days.

Do you want the Be Nicer than Necessary Notes to download and throw in your kids’ lunches this month?

Here they are: nicer than necessary lunchbox notes teachmama.com

be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering | teachmama.com nicer than necessary lunchbox notes teachmama.com

 

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

Really, what I do is print out three sheets of notes (one for each child), and then I cut them as one page then clip them together.

That way, Maddy, Owen, and Cora will each get the same note every single day.

And is it a big deal that there are 25 notes here and 28 days in February? Nope. I figured that between snow days and weekends, we’d do fine with 25 reminders to be nicer than necessary. It’s all good.

It’s not about perfection. It’s about trying to live more intentionally, to be more focused in our every day, to smile more and worry less. Right?  Right.

And that’s it–just one little way we’re trying to move from being the Cranky McCrankerson family to a family that’s oozing with kindness. Or something like that.

 

Would it work for your family? How do you get your kids, spouse, and self out of the winter rut?
live focused in 2015 friendship teachmama.com sq

 

I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off this month, when our #livefocused theme is friendship, than by sharing this information with you, your kids, students, and families.

I’m really looking forward to what lies ahead!

 

live focused in 2015: give yourself a fresh start and live with intention

 

 

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

valentine’s day heart bingo

valentine heart bingo teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

valentine's day heart bingo super-easy and fun for home or class parties | teachmama.com

 

This is so funny–I created this bingo game ages and ages ago but never really shared it.

So?

Here it is: Valentine’s Day Heart Bingo.

Super-basic and similar in layout and design as our Halloween Ghost Bingo, but, of course, all Valentinesy and lovey.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Valentine’s Day Heart Bingo:

This is a great one to print out and use for classroom parties, for playdates, or for any time that works for you.

It’s a good, calm-down bingo game with a Valentine’s Day theme.

valentine's day heart bingo super-easy and fun for home or class parties | teachmama.com

valentine's day heart bingo super-easy and fun for home or class parties | teachmama.com

 

Valentine’s Day HEART Bingo can be downloaded and shared here: valentines day HEART bingo | teachmama.com

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

What you need to play:

Prepare to play! 

To prepare the game, all you need to do is print it. Then give each person a board and some bingo markers.

valentine's day heart bingo - teach mama

To play, the bingo caller rolls the die or flips the card.  Instead of the big bingo roller in the normal bingo game, we used the die or we used the small cards with letters H-E-A-R-T on them. This is how we decided which column the card would be under.

Then the bingo caller flips a small card to show players which object should be covered.  I created a small set of these cards and a larger set. The larger set has the name of the word written below the picture.

Bingo caller can say something like,

Okay, I flipped ‘H’ and the ‘fire heart’. Everyone look for the ‘fire heart’ under ‘H’–it looks like this. . .

Sweet! We’ve got an ‘E’ and the ‘happy guy’.  Who has it? The ‘happy guy’ looks like this. . .

Okay friends, we’re looking at the ‘R’ column and the ‘love face’. This is everyone’s favorite. Who has the ‘love face’ under the ‘R’?

Remember, the first one with five in a row, shout ‘HEART’!!!

valentine's day heart bingo - teach mama

valentine's day heart bingo - teach mama

Especially for early readers, seeing the picture and reading the name is a better way of learning words and letter sounds.

And mention it, too, as you go. There’s really no harm in pointing to the words as you say them. Reminding kids that ‘heart’ is spelled H-E-A-R-T and that the winner needs to shout ‘heart’ instead of bingo!

Hey–if they learn nothing during this game other than how to spell ‘heart’, it’s a win. Heart’s a difficult word, friends.

And, like all bingo, the winner is the first player to have five objects covered in a row.

valentine's day heart bingo - teach mama

 

Or you can get crazy and play 4 Corners (each corner covered), Blackout (full board covered), or Small Square (small box of two on top and two below covered).

Whatever works, whatever you need.

Happy playing!

Want a few more fun Valentine’s Day ideas? Check out: 

valentine's day class party ideas

how to throw a rockstar valentine's day party teachmama.com 2

 

valentine's day class party ideas, 2.0 | teachmama.com

 

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

how to schedule power kid time into your every day

how to schedule power kid time into your every day | a weekly organizer designed to make kid time a focus

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

I am not kidding with this.

You guys, the days may seem slow, but once your kids hit elementary school, life totally moves into fifth gear.

Completely. Like seriously life starts to flash by.

schedule power kid time  teachmama.com

I’ll never forget what a gal from my Moms Club said to me, when I ran into her at the grocery store one day, (she was kid-free, and I was juggling three kids under five). She said, Amy, you won’t believe this now, but it’s true: the days are slow but the years are fast. 

At the time, I remember thinking, Suuuuuure, lady. You enjoy your peace and quiet and coupon-shopping while I try to keep these kids occupied long enough for me to grab what I need for this week’s meals on top of two monster boxes of diapers and a human-sized bag o’ dog food. Awesome. Sure long days and short years. Mmmmmkay.

You know what, though? She was right. So right.

And though she didn’t pen that infamous parenting quote, it has stuck with me like glue.

I so know how so many of you feel right now–you’re so tired. You’re barely hanging on some days. You love your kids more than you ever thought possible, but you’re really filling your days with things to keep you all busy, hoping that the activities stretch you from nap time to playgroup to mealtime or tv time. Then your spouse comes home, you slap five, and you go do your work–tutoring, teaching, selling, cleaning, whatever–and he takes over.

how to schedule power kid time into your every day | teachmama.com

how to schedule power kid time into your every day | teachmama.com

 

Or something like that.

I get it. I was there. And I still am there in so many ways.

Though my babies are all in school now, I struggle to find carve out power time with them each day.  Time that counts, whether it’s because it’s quality snuggle time, time to just listen, or time to help them develop a solid foundation for learning.

This month, because we’re kicking off our #livefocused year, I thought I’d share something that could help during those crazy times–something that can actually help you no matter where you are with child raising to schedule power kid time into your every day.

No, it’s not a nanny, and it’s not a babysitter, housecleaner, or cook. So sorry.

It’s something that really may give your days, your weeks, and your months more focus.

It’s a super-simple sheet that really does nothing more than give you the place to schedule a little power time with your kids into your every day.

Power time with each of your children.  Whatever ‘power time’ may look like to you.

 

how to schedule power kid time into your every day

Sure, we’re with our kids a million hours each week. We’re with them every single day, for hours. And it’s awesome.

But are we really with them–listening to them, learning from them, supporting them in the best way we are able?

Because if we don’t spend power time with them now, before we know it, our kids may not want to even entertain the idea of spending time with us at all.

Here’s the skinny. . .

How to Schedule Power Kid Time into Your Every Day:

Believe me when I tell you that I never used anything like this when Maddy, Owen, and Cora were little.

But I truly believe that had I used it, it would have helped keep me a little more sane, allowed me to let a little bit go if I could have had it on paper each week.

Instead, I kept all of my power time plans in my head: Okay, Maddy needs some help with her d’s and b’s, so let me do a little of that with her this week; Owen’s grip is totally crazy, so I’m going to do some fine motor activities with him; and Cora is still calling every color ‘pink’ so we need to do a little work so the gal learns those colors

Right.

And along the way, let me do the grocery shopping, laundry, and cleaning.  Dog walking, clothes shopping, and meal preparing. And I’ll schedule a few playdates, make sure the kids are getting to doctor appointments, clean the guinea pig cage, and do what I can to make sure we’re all happy and having fun. Oh, and let me help them learn their letters and numbers and colors and all that good stuff.

It’s a lot.

I feel grateful that my head was always filled with fun ways that my kids could learn those foundational skills, so it wasn’t hard for me to come up with ideas. The activities were usually based on research, on the stuff I was reading for my grad classes, the activities I had done when teaching, and the methods I was using for my tutoring students.  Or they came from parenting magazines, friends, or blogs I was reading.

I just grabbed a few things I had around the house that supported what we needed that day, and I used them during that quiet time before nap or rotated rooms during their rest time.

But I truly think that these little weekly plan sheets can help every parent get a little more organized this year–help parents deliberately plan power time for their kids each day or week.  

Power time does not need to be elaborate, crazy lesson plans. Just ideas, friends.

 

schedule kid time each each | teachmama.com

 weekly planner _ teachmama.com

If you’d like to download our weekly power time planner, here it is: weekly planner _ teachmama.com

(Remember, if you’re interested in sharing, great! Please consider linking to this post rather than the attachment page, please!)

And punch holes in each page, add them all to a 3-ring binder.  Include some dividers with folders, and you have a sweet, simple little planner.

Or, if you don’t want to go that route and you don’t want to punch holes, get a skinny report cover clip, and that can be your calendar planner.  Either way, remember we have the 2015 calendar because we love you that much.

 

I have the planner. I downloaded and printed. Now what?

Jot down ideas. Just so you remember to grab the puzzles from the basement when you go down or so that you remember to print out a few mazes or alphabet cards or find a few pennies for cleaning or pick up cheerios or pretzel sticks from the grocery store.

Sit back with a cuppa at the beginning of the week, look roughly ahead at your weekly schedule, and figure out a few things you want to do with your kids. What kind of power time you want to spend with them.

Visit our FAQ page to find out where you should start or to find ideas that work for your kids. Or check out the navigation bar to find other topics. I’ll have another post coming soon filled with places to go from here if you’re stuck.

On top of doing all that other parenting stuff.

Use the ‘to do’ lines to jot down some general things you must accomplish each day.

Consider:

schedule kid time each each | teachmama.com

schedule kid time each each | teachmama.com

  • Use the boxes to schedule three things you want to do during kid time. Remember with little ones, you may have full days at home. Full morning. Full afternoon. Fill ’em up, friends.  And think: movement, mind, and me time. Each and every day.

movement: Kids need to move each day, both fine motor and gross motor.

mind: Kids need to stretch their mind each day, in some way, shape, or form.

me: Kids need to have alone time each day, playing by themselves, doing something independently.

schedule kid time each each | teachmama.com

schedule kid time each each | teachmama.com

 

  • If you have more than one child, use the ‘to do’ lines the same as above, but use one box for each child. Most likely, you’ll be doing a bunch of things together, which is totally cool. Just try to fit in at least one focused activity with each kiddo each day.

You want to shoot for one activity that packs some kind of punch.

 

schedule power kid time | teachmama.com

schedule power kid time | teachmama.com

  • If you have older, school-aged kids, just using the sheets to make sure that you are adding time for each child each day–no matter what. Maybe you’re not sitting down together each and every day to craft or play like you could when they were younger, but any time together, even if it’s having a child help you with dinner or helping him organize his Pokemon cards (gah!) counts.
  • Make these sheets work for you and your family. There’s no wrong way.

And that’s it.

Just a little somethin’ to keep in your back pocket, my friends.

What do you think? Yay? Nay?

How else can I help?

live focused 2015 teachmama.com b w collage

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 _____________________________________

ive focused in 2015 organization teachmama.com sq

#livefocused posts:

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

organizing play spaces: 4 steps to awesome and tips every parent needs

organize playspaces 4 steps to awesome teachmama.com

Friends.

I’m  hoping that you’re still doing a rockstar job taking control your three things this month because, sweet mercy–you can manage to organize three things.

Whatever it is that has been bugging you, whatever it is that causes you the most stress or anxiety, start there.

That sock drawer? The coat closet? The laundry room? You can do it.

This is the year, friends. We’re taking control of our life and our time, and we are living focused.

Need the whole deal? Check out the get yourself organized post as a refresher.

organizing play spaces: 4 steps to awesome and tips every parent needs

I do understand that often it’s overwhelming if you choose something big to organize.  We often don’t know where to start or what to do after we get started. Or sometimes we just get sick of doing it in the middle and want to quit (I do, at least).

Lucky for us, I have recently joined forces with the amazing Rachel from Rachel and Company, and we have some really cool projects in the works.

For real.

Like cool ways to help you and your family get organized–and stay organized.

Like cool things just for your tween. Or just for your kids. Or just to help you organize some super-tricky parts of your life.

Can’t wait.

Until then, I have Rachel sharing some awesome tips for organizing play spaces over here for us today.

You’ll love her.

And you’ll totally love the Organizing Play Spaces Printable we’ve created.  (Scroll on down–you’ll find the link!)

Here’s the skinny. . .

Organizing Play Spaces–4 Steps to Awesome and Tips Every Parent Needs: 

Organizing Play Spaces, by Rachel Rosenthal

The holidays are over but are the new toys, games and books your kids got for the holidays taking over your home?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone! They’re taking over my home too and I do this for a living.

Now that everyone is back in school and we’re all back in somewhat of a routine, it’s time to stop tripping over that new toy fire engine when you get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. It’s also time to finally organize all this new stuff!

So, what to do?

To start, find a designated “play space” to keep everything organized, or as you know, the toys and games will take over your home.

organizing play spaces: 4 steps to awesome and tips every parent needsorganizing play spaces: 4 steps to awesome and tips every parent needs

Even if you don’t have an entire room to devote to “play”, creating a space in the corner of another room can really help contain the clutter in one area (or at least give you a starting point!).

Without a place to put something, we can’t expect our little ones–or even ourselves–to have an organized play space. And while as moms we are prone to taking on all the organizing ourselves, I am giving you permission to stop doing it all yourself.

Depending on the age of your children, I say, get them involved.

There are age-appropriate organizing tasks that your children can do, and now is the time to empower them to be involved in living an organized life.

Things might not be “perfect” or the way you want them, but that isn’t the point. We want to empower our children and ourselves in creating a space truly conducive to play.

organizing play spaces: 4 steps to awesome and tips every parent needs

organize play spaces teachmama.com 3

Below are some tips on organizing your play space that even your youngest kids can help with!

  • Put all small items like doll accessories, toy cars and even game pieces in labeled containers without a lid. This keeps similar items together and makes for easier play and clean up. Adding a label (a picture or words) helps little ones participate with the organizing.
  • Don’t try to organize your entire play space at once. Choose one category of items, like dress up clothes or board games and focus on just that before moving on. Our printable on organizing your kids can help. It lists out some of the top items that need to be organized in a play area and gives just a few easy steps for paring down what you have and getting an organizing system into place.
  • Have a “hide the clutter” basket. Keep a large empty basket or container in your play area. This can be used two ways. Just make sure that you set a time limit on how long items can stay in this basket. We recommend no more than one week.

1. A quick hide all:  if you need to get things off the floor in a flash (think unannounced guests).

2. An easy organizer:  Whether it’s you or your kids who are reorganizing the play area at the end of play time, fill the container with everything that is left out, then carry it with you to put the items away where they belong.

_____________________________

Rachel Rosenthal of Rachel and Company is an organizing extraordinaire.  Rachel uses creativity, style and a little elbow grease to help families get their homes, schedules, routines and lives in order. As a professional organizer, Rachel empowers families of all ages and sizes to live more organized, productive lives and has helped over 900 clients since starting in 2008.

Rachel works nationally with clients, is based in Bethesda, MD with her 7-year-old identical twins, and she has been featured in publications such as Better Homes and Gardens, Huffington Post, Washingtonian, The Washington Post, Parents, NBC4 and Fox5. Rachel can be reached through her website: www.rachel-company.com.rachel and company  rachel collage

_____________________________

_____________________________

Thank you, Rachel!

I love Rachel’s idea of the open containers, especially for younger kids, and I love the idea of the ‘hide the clutter’ basket–with limitations and guidelines.

So smart.

So let’s get you organized, my friends.

 

Here’s a super-cute printable that Rachel and I collaborated on. I think  you’ll dig it.

Organize Play Spaces Printable: organize play spaces teachmama.com 3

If you choose to share or link to the printable (and we hope you do!), please link to this post rather than the document itself. Thank you!

 

 

So there you have it–a really quick way to organize your child’s play space, wherever that may be!

How do you stay organized? What do you use to organize play spaces? I’d love to hear it!

 _____________________________________

live focused 2015 teachmama.com b w collage

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ive focused in 2015 organization teachmama.com sq

#livefocused posts:

free blank 2015 calendar: get organized STAT

free blank 2015 calendar: get organized STAT teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

Friends I am totally and completely overwhelmed and excited.

The feedback you’ve shared makes me so weepy.

You are excited about our #livefocused in 2015, and so am I.

You’re organizing.

You’re arranging.

You’re doing great things.

 

free blank 2015 calendar: get organized STAT | teachmama.com

You’re thinking about what you’re doing and trying to move more deliberately through each day.

You. Rock.

I mentioned that I was doing my best to stay organized, and though I still have a long way to go, one thing that help me stay sane is keeping things on a calendar.

Though I do use Google calendar for our family, I also use a hard copy calendar for my blog-related tasks and planning.

So? I thought I’d share one that everyone can use–something that goes along with our #livefocused in 2015 challenge.

Here’s the skinny. . .

2015 Blank Printable Calendar– Get Organized Stat:

Everything you need is here, friends.

Click on the link above the images below, or click on the image itself.

Once you get to the attachment page, you’ll see a link. Click it. You’ll get to the pdf page. Print it out.

Be happy.

january 2015 calendar teachmama.com

free blank 2015 calendar: get organized STAT | teachmama.com

february 2015 calendar _ teachmama.com

free blank 2015 calendar: get organized STAT | teachmama.com

 

march 2015 calendar _ teachmama.com

free blank 2015 calendar: get organized STAT | teachmama.com

april 2015 calendar _ teachmama.com

free blank 2015 calendar: get organized STAT | teachmama.com

 

may 2015 calendar teachmama.com

 

free blank 2015 calendar: get organized STAT | teachmama.com

 

june 2015 calendar _ teachmama.com

free blank 2015 calendar: get organized STAT | teachmama.com

 

july 2015 calendar _ teachmama.com

free blank 2015 calendar: get organized STAT | teachmama.com

aug 2015 calendar _ teachmama.com

free blank 2015 calendar: get organized STAT | teachmama.com

 

sept 2015 calendar _ teachmama.com

free blank 2015 calendar: get organized STAT | teachmama.com

 

oct 2015 calendar _ teachmama.com

free blank 2015 calendar: get organized STAT | teachmama.com

nov 2015 calendar _ teachmama.com

free blank 2015 calendar: get organized STAT | teachmama.com

 

dec 2015 calendar _ teachmama.com

free blank 2015 calendar: get organized STAT | teachmama.com

 

 

And punch holes in each page, add them all to a 3-ring binder.  Include some dividers with folders, and you have a sweet, simple little planner.

Or, if you don’t want to go that route and you don’t want to punch holes, get a skinny report cover clip, and that can be your calendar planner.

Remember to include your January organization sheet, because friends, we need to start the year with our stuff in order.

Let’s do this.

 

There’s more to come.

I honestly cannot wait.

 

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#livefocused posts:

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

 

live focused in 2015: give yourself a fresh start and live with intention

live focused in 2015: give yourself a fresh start and live with intention

 

 

live focused in 2015 teachmama.com

Happy New Year, friends.

As we move into the new year, I want you to know that I am so very thankful for each one of you.

Really.

I thank you for reading. I thank you for subscribing. I thank you for hanging in with me through the years.

I love writing, I love creating, and I love sharing, so I’m a million times grateful that this–blogging–has become my job.

And the most important thing here is that it wouldn’t be a job if it weren’t for you.

So hugely, from the bottom of my heart, gracias.

But what I’ve noticed in the past year is that this space is changing, I am changing, and we are changing.

And so we are going to make some serious changes over here.

Changes that I think will be really, truly beneficial to us all.

I hope that you’ll join us for this ride.  We’ll all benefit–I promise.

Your kids. Your spouse. Your friends. Your neighbors. Your family.

You. And me.

It’s about living with focus in 2015. Living intentionally.

Because we get one life.

So let’s do it up.  Woot.

Here’s the skinny. . .

 

live focused in 2015  teachmama.com small

Live Focused in 2015–Give Yourself a Fresh Start and Live with Intention

My friends.

I promise I’m not going all sappy nutty on you. I’m really not.

I’m actually already half nutty from this parenting gig, so that’s nothing new.

And I’ve always been emotional and sappy.

But what I will promise is that this year is going to be a year of change.

And I’d love for you to come along with me for the ride.

I’m not promising perfect because perfect’s impossible.

I’m not guaranteeing greatness because greatness is fleeting.

I’m not encouraging immediate awesome because, well, everything worthwhile seems to take some time.

live focused in 2015 | teachmama.com

 

What I am suggesting is that together we do what we can to live with more intention, more focus, in 2015.

I started this blog way back in 2008 to encourage parents everywhere to do what they can to sneak in some learning into their kids’ every day. And for a long time, that worked.

We had little ones at home, for hours and hours and hours, and I knew that there were fun, cool things that parents could to do help build a foundation for learning, all with minimal effort and huge returns.

And together we got our kids off to the wilds of Kindergarten, then year by year, one by one, into elementary school.

But now? Things are different.

live focused in 2015 | teachmama.com

 

Though our kids are in school for most of the day, we’re still so busy.  We’re working, we’re scheduling, we’re volunteering.  We’re grocery shopping, coupon-clipping, and bill paying. We’re turning in permission slips, cutting our box tops, collecting donations, and packing lunches.

We’re crock-potting, speed cleaning, and skimming.

We’re running ourselves ragged schlepping kids to and from sports and activities, orthodontist appointments, and ‘hangouts’ (because goodness knows they’re too old for ‘playdates’).

We’re dashing. Dancing. Moving. Skating. Jogging. Swimming. Through. Life. 

And we’re not really thinking.  We’re just doing. Moving.

And friends, before we know it, it’ll all be a blur.

And we’ll be standing in the driveway staring at a packed Suburban, filled with luggage and linens and books and baskets, getting ready to send our baby off to college and wondering where the heck all the time went.

Sob. I can’t even.

So this year, I’m trying to take it back.

 

live focused in 2015 | teachmama.com

I’m going to take back the reigns of my life, and try–try as best as I can–to live more intentionally, to live focused in 2015. 

I’m doing this because I really need it. Believe me.

And I’d love for you to join me.

So I’m getting refocused in this here bloggy blog. I’m going to focus on the same goal I set forth back in 2008:

to share the tools and resources parents need to be the best teachers they can be for their children.

I’m still going to focus on learning in the every day.

And I’m going to focus on family, literacy, and what we can do to support our digital kids.

live focused in 2015  teachmama.com focus

But I’m going to post a bit less frequently and instead focus on quality over quantity.

Less really is more sometimes.

Because the content here is free for you, I’m going to still have to do some sponsored posts, but my focus is to create longterm partnerships with brands that really matter. With brands that really rock.

And I’m going to really, truly focus on you–my subscribers

So we’re going to rock it out with a bunch of subscriber-only giveaways.  That means nothing if you already subscribe except that you’re awesome and starting now you should read to the very end of the post (or at least scroll all the way down and check the box after the post for a whole lot of happy).

But it also means that if you don’t already subscribe, then you’ll definitely want to:

  • subscribe either to our rockstar emails and get 2-3 posts each week the day after they’re published, or
  • subscribe to our newsy-newsletter and get one email each Tuesday with all of the posts from the week. Either works.

teachmama subscriber screener

As far as the whole focused in 2015 is concerned, I’ve come to some conclusions:

1.  As our children get older, we’ve got to show them that we, as parents, are doing the best we can to live this life to its fullest.

We’ve got to show them that we are doing our best to live focused and intentionally.

We’ve got to show them that we are trying to be organized.

We’re nurturing relationships.

We’re taking care of ourselves.

We’re listening and loving and moving through life with a plan.

We do this so that our kids do the same.

live focused in 2015 teachmama.com

2. This is the year I’ll also be focusing on what we are doing to live intentionally, to live focused in 2015.

I’ll still share the cool stuff I usually do, but each month, I’ll also include a focus.

January- organization: in routine, in schedule, in home

It’s time to get on it. Get your house in order and create routine that works for your family. Life is too short to let it pass you by, and it’s time to climb out from under the mess and live intentionally. But in order to live intentionally, you’ve got to get organized.

February-friendship: with spouse, colleagues, siblings, parents, kids, girlfriends

What do you do to nurture your friendships? How much time do you actually put into keeping up with your oldest pals? Do you ever organize a girls’ night out? A date night? How well do you really know your kids?

March-clarity: of thought, words, action

Sometimes we need a re-start in the way we’re thinking, speaking, and interacting with others.  Let’s make sure our in-house behavior systems, rules, and guidelines are established and clear.  Let’s get refocused in the way we speak to our kids, spouse, and friends. Let’s try to align our thoughts and actions.

April-growth: emotional, mental, physical

Face it. we all need to grow in some way, shape, or form. Learning never needs to cease. Have you really worked your brain lately? What do you need to do to stay up to date with work or well-being? April is a month to learn how to better care for ourselves, kids, family.

May-self: you, you, you

Check yourself before you wreck yourself. When was the last time you took time out for you? What do you really, truly love to do? If you don’t know, it’s time to find out. If you know and haven’t done it for a while, now’s the time to get rolling with it.

live focused in 2015 months  teachmama.com

 

June-family: make family time count

School’s out. Time to really unplug and spend time with your kids now that they’re out of school. Our tabletop surprises will keep you constantly filled with ideas for creative, innovative ways to spend time with your kids.

July-breath: because breathing really helps

Sure, it’s summer. And a whole lot happens in summer that makes us forget about our New Year intentions and focus. But let’s check in on January organization. Do you need a restart? How are things going with friends, growth, or your self-care?  Before we freak out, we’re going to make breathing a focus this month as we slowly get back on track.

August-time: take control

How are you using your time? Life is moving quickly.  Are you making sure you’re living each day to the fullest? Parenting is hard—there’s no doubt about that. And juggling a spouse, work, and a household makes it even more difficult.  But even if we spend a few minutes each week giving our days some focus, we’re taking control. We’re still in charge.

September-learning: back to school means everyone learns

Back to school means we’re all learning a whole new routine and system.  How are we, as parents, best interacting with our kids, their teachers, and schools? Are we supporting them the best we are able? What do we need to learn in order to do so? New strategies? New concepts?

October-honesty: with ourselves and others

Halloween means that our kids are on a quest to find disguises, but let’s be honest this month with ourselves before the holiday season begins. Let’s be honest about how we think and feel, and let’s do what we can to make sure we’re sharing are true and awesome selves with the world.

November-giving: set an example of gratitude

We all have so much for which we should be thankful, so let’s give what we can to those who need it. Setting an example of giving and gratitude for our children is super-important from the start, especially during their formative elementary years. No better time than now to give to the world the best we have.

December-peace: finding beauty in the basics

It’s so very difficult not to get caught up in the holiday whirlwind, trying to create a perfectly pinteresting holiday for our family. But we don’t need to go crazy. We really don’t. Let’s focus on the important things and strive for more peace in our 2015 holiday seasons.

 

live focused in 2015  teachmama.com share

Never fear, friends.

I’m not going to leave you high and dry here. We’re doing this together. Baby steps.

Each month I plan to:

  • share printables which will help us get focused and live intentionally;
  • do some fun giveaways, freebies, and contests for subscribers only–that means you!;
  • invite experts in to share their ideas and suggestions;
  • create videos with tricks, tools, and ideas for our topics;
  • share the normal, awesome content you have come to expect, with the #livefocused added in as a bonus (yay!);
  • use our Facebook page as a place to support each other, chat, and share high-fives (like a freebie, fab support group);
  • share photos from my journey on Instagram and Twitter using #livefocused;
  • do round-ups of your photos, ideas, and experiences across platforms;
  • quite honestly, learn as I go–from you and from others!;
  • offer follow-ups and extensions that may help you in this adventure.

live focused in 2015: give yourself a fresh start and live with intention

I’m excited. I’ve got so much planned, and it’s only the first Monday of the month.

I cannot wait to really embrace 2015. Watch out world, crazy things can happen when a bunch of smart women (and men!) are a little more focused!

Here. We. GO!

Check it all out video-style:

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

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:

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