the fox and the crane: shadow puppets with printables

the fox and the crane: shadow puppets with printables | guest post by @liskarediska on teachmama.com

This week, Liska from Adventure in a Box shares a super-cool, totally new-to-teachmama.com idea.  So cool, it’s nuts.

Liska is a toymaker, a creator, a mom, an artist and a lover of books.  She is a Russian who has settled in Canada with her son and husband (and her husband just so happens to have one of the coolest jobs around!).

Today, Liska created printables for us and delivers a unique way of sharing The Fox and the Crane fable–with shadow puppets that you can print and use today. Awe-some.

Huge and happy thanks, Liska!

the fox and the crane: shadow puppets with printables | guest post by  @liskarediska on teachmama.com

  • The Fox and the Crane: Shadow Puppets with Printables, by Liska

Greetings to the readers of Teach Mama! My name is Liska, and when I do not run around, trying to keep up with my little son, I make toys and write at Adventure in a Box. Thank you, Amy, for inviting me to write here today. Teach Mama is a regular inspiration, so I am proud to be making an addition to such a fun resource.

When I was a little girl, personal computers had not made their way into most houses, and we only had two TV-channels. If I was lucky, I could catch one cartoon a day. However, we had a slide projector with a couple of cartoon-based slide shows. In my mind it is one of the dearest memories of my childhood: in the evenings someone would put a white bed sheet on the wall, and then tinker with the projector until the focus was just good enough, though never great. We would sit down, and watch the slides.

Where did that slide projector go? I do not know. However, I want for my son to have something as magical and mysterious to remember, and that’s how we came to stage shadow puppet shows, based on our favourite stories. In the evenings we dim all the lights, except for the one we place behind the parchment screen, and the shadows start moving.

Making a shadow puppet theatre can be very easy. Take a box and cut two holes in it, then stretch vellum or parchment paper across one hole. In the dark, place a direct light source behind the screen. Now try putting something between the light and the screen: it can be your hand or a toy.

The audience on the other side of the screen will see a silhouette. Usually, the closer you put the object to the screen, the crisper its silhouette will be.

the fox and the crane: shadow puppets with printables | guest post by  @liskarediska on teachmama.com

If, however, you feel like crafting and making a long-lasting project, you can also follow my tutorial on how to make a wooden puppet theatre.

For actors we sometimes use the previously-mentioned toys and hands, but our favourite ones are silhouettes, cut out of stiff black paper (80 lb or more). Held next to the screen, they give beautiful crisp shadows.

You can make elaborate performances with these card stock actors! Of course, it might be difficult to stage Alice in Wonderland right away, but most traditional fairy tales have a straightforward plot and few enough characters – they are the likeliest choices for being turned into shadow puppet shows.

the fox and the crane: shadow puppets with printables | guest post by  @liskarediska on teachmama.com

We have already made Little Red Riding Hood and Three Little Pigs, and today I would like to make one of Aesop’s fables – The Fox and the Crane. It is also known as The Fox and the Stork, and it has only two actors.

Once, the fox and the crane decided to become friends. The fox invited the crane to come over for a visit. When he came, the fox served soup in a shallow dish.

The fox could lap it up easily, but the crane could not. Nevertheless, he thanked the fox and invited her to come over the next day.

When the fox came to visit, the crane served soup in a flagon with a long narrow neck. The crane could access it, but the fox left hungry.

The moral of the story is usually presented as “if you trick someone, you might get the same treatment back”, but told with a slight change of accents, can also tell children that different households might have different traditions.

Making the designs of silhouettes is my favourite part, and I am happy to share them with you now. Please, download the silhouettes of the fox and the crane here. Transfer them onto the black paper and cut them out, using scissors for outlines and a hobby knife for small details. Alternatively, you can print the designs on a thick white paper and colour its back black, then cut the silhouettes out.

Print the silhouettes here: The-Fox-and-the-Crane-printables

the fox and the crane: shadow puppets with printables | guest post by  @liskarediska on teachmama.com

The-Fox-and-the-Crane-printables

Next, you will need some bamboo skewers and scotch tape. Tape the skewers to the back of the puppets and they are ready!

Now the lights will dim, and the play will begin. “Once, the fox and the crane decided to become friends…”

the fox and the crane: shadow puppets with printables | guest post by  @liskarediska on teachmama.com

If you like having a shadow theatre, you can always take this game further.

Make a program and tickets together with children, then give them to relatives and friends, inviting them over. The shadow theatres are great because they are suitable for many different ages: even a three-month-old baby will be naturally attracted to the high-contrast figures! Older children will like choosing stories to stage and giving a new dimension to their favourite books, helping to make puppets and tell their own stories with them.

I will be happy if you share pictures of your shadow shows!

Other articles by Adventure in a Box you might enjoy:

the fox and the crane: shadow puppets with printables | guest post by  @liskarediska on teachmama.comLiska lives in Southern Ontario, Canada, where she enjoys simple adventures among the vineyards and peach orchards with her family. It consists of her husband, an armourer, and a one-and-a-half-year-old son, who is as inquisitive and mischievous as any one-and-a-half-year-old could be. When not chasing him around, Liska likes to read books and make toys. Then she writes about it in her blog Adventure in a Box: there you can find book reviews and book-related activities that can interest children of different ages, as well as tutorials on how to make toys with and for children.
You can also find Liska onFacebook | Pinterest | Instagram

 

 Thank you, thank you, thank you, Liska!

I have absolutely been blown away by the Rockstar Sunday posts over here.

Each week, we’ve been highlighting one ‘rockstar’ in the parenting and education field.  These posts? Seriously awesome.

Anything from innovative reading activities to clever math crafts, from ways to teach kids shapes to ways to use gallon ziploc bags for fun and learning.  It’s awesome.  Crazy awesome.

If you’ve got an idea brewing and want to share, do let me know. You need not be a blogger or professional writer to share your piece.

Simply submit your idea to us! Easy peasy!

 rockstar sunday promo teachmama

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

other posts in the series:

let kids learn on their own time: tabletop surprises

let kids learn on their own time: #tabletopsurprises | teachmama.com

let kids learn on their own time tabletop surprises  teachmama.com

We just finished week number six of our ten week tabletop surprises — a simple but clever way we encourage our kids to learn on their own time.

Tabletop Surprises are just that: 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.

Here’s what we did this week.  A little bit o’ math, a little bit of reading, a little bit of writing, and a bit of critical thinking.

Pretty fun.  But next week? Even better.

No kidding.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Let Kids Learn on Their Own Time–Tabletop Surprises:

 

monday:


magnets + pipe cleaners + paper clips + vases = FUN #tabletopsurprises #summer #familyfun #science #keepthembusy #momsofinstagram

 

 

tuesday:

my crew will love this one! ( and the parents win on Thursday night!) #kidsinthekitchen #cooking #foodiefamily #food #tabletopsurprises #summer

 

wednesday:

back by popular demand: brain teasers. want ’em? head to the blog. click on #tabletopsurprises #summer #brainteasers #brainy #sofun #teachmama #printables #familyfun

 

thursday:

poem reading. poem writing. offline. online. #tabletopsurprises #summer #familyfun #writing #readingrocks

 

 

friday:

math challenge problemos about baseball and chocolate, thanks to @nctm #tabletopsurprises #summer #math #smart #familyfun

 

 

Check out all the fun we’re having this summer! 

Follow along on Instagram and leave YOUR user name in the comments so we can follow YOUR #tabletopsurprises adventures!

Want the skinny on #tabletopsurprises? Wonder what in the world I’m talking about?

Check it out:

tabletop surprise email promo 400 teachmama.com.png

 

fyi: #spon: I am in a partnership with Intel. Through this partnership I gain access to content, product, or other forms of value.

best summer learning idea for kids: tabletop surprises

the best summer learning idea for kids teachmama.com

the best summer learning idea for kids | teachmama.com

We’re continuing to rock it out with our tabletop surprises–simple, meaningful, and fun ‘surprises’ on our kitchen table every day.

Whenever Maddy, Owen, and Cora feel inclined to hit the table, they do.

It’s really worked, and I’m thrilled. Some days, obviously, are better than others. But for the most part, the tabletop surprises have been the best summer learning idea for our kids.

Letting them use their brains on their own time. In their own way.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Best Summer Learning Idea for Kids–Tabletop Surprises:

Keeping their brains moving . . . week four.

 

monday:

sudoku! online and offline so that everyone is happy. . . #tabletopsurprises #summer #math #smart #hard #brainy #brainteasers

tuesday:

engineering. #tabletopsurprises #creative #summer #familyfun #keepthembusy

 

wednesday:

awwwwwh. bringing back the faves. find a favorite children’s book. read it. then learn about the author online. luckily there are a ton of fabulous sites with lists of author websites and luckily we have them all listed on teachmama.com….add an Author Hunt sheet to the mix, and you have a winner! !

 

thursday:

story starters! SO sad, @storycubes could NOT find my story cubes so using @thinkfun last letter cards and imagery lesson resources from the classroom …it works! 

 

friday:

letters to family members! (with an example letter explaining the day’s #tabletopsurprises )

 

Check out all the fun we’re having this summer! 

Follow along on Instagram and leave YOUR user name in the comments so we can follow YOUR #tabletopsurprises adventures!

Want the skinny on #tabletopsurprises? Wonder what in the world I’m talking about?

Check it out:

tabletop surprise email promo 400 teachmama.com.png

what to say when kids make reading mistakes

what to say when kids make reading mistakes teachmama.com

originally published on 8/5/10 but sharing again because we all need these refreshers. . . 

 

what to say when kids make reading mistakes teachmama.comSo what should you say when a child makes mistake during reading?

I’ve been asked this question so many times by my friends, by parents of students I tutor, and by many, many readers of this blog.

And because we’ve run into this situation most recently this week after our trip to the library for fish books, I thought I’d share some ways that parents–and teachers–can handle those tough, uncomfortable times when kids make reading mistakes.

These are ways that I handle times when Maddy makes mistakes, these are the things I said when I listened to her classmates read when I volunteered at her school, and these are things I say when I’m tutoring and working with students.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • What to Say When Kids Make Reading Mistakes: Sure, our first inclination is to just give kiddos the word–especially if we’re in a time crunch or if the child is an especially slow reader.

Child: Something must be wr-wr wh-whh. Wrrroooo. Wruu. I don’t know.

Parent: It’s ‘wrong’. ‘Wrong.’ ‘Something must be wrong with. . .’

Child: Oh. ‘Something must be wrong with the sun to-today.’

The kiddo gets off easy and will soon learn that all he has to do is make some feeble attempts at sounding out a word in order to get Mom or Dad–or teacher–to throw him the rope.

We’ve all done it, but it sure isn’t a great habit.

 

When kids blindly choose a book to read,they may run into some reading problemos. Teach them to choose just right books.

There are ways we can use these exciting and (sometimes) trying times during emerging reader read-alouds as jumping off points for learning. If we just keep a few phrases in our back pockets, our kids really might start to become stronger readers before our eyes. . .

When kids won’t even try to sound out a word or they won’t budge, say:

  • Think about the letters you recognize and the sounds they make. What sound does this letter make (point to first letter)? Let me hear you make the sound. Now what sound does this letter make (point to second letter)? Let’s put the sounds together. . .
  • Look at the letters you know in the word and the picture on the page. The picture is here to help you. Think about the sound this letter makes (point to first letter of word) and what you see in the picture. . .

what to say when kids make reading mistakes

  • Think about what’s going on in this story. You just read, (read previous line). Look at the picture, look at the word, and think about what might happen next.
  • Skip the word you don’t know and move to the next word you can read.
  • You might not recognize this word, but I know you know this word (cover the first letter and let him read the part he knows—at from ‘bat’). Think about the sound that ‘b’ makes, put the sounds together, and you’ll have it!
  • You just read this word on the previous page, and you read it correctly. Use your detective eyes, find the word on the other page, and see if that helps.

what to say when kids make reading mistakes

When a child makes an error on a page and moves right on by like nothing happened, even if what she read makes no sense: Let her go! Don’t interrupt mid-reading; instead consider saying at the end of the sentence, phrase, or paragraph:

  • Are you correct?
  • Read it again and check closely.
  • Can you find the tricky part?
  • It’s in this line.
  • I’ll point it out and help you find it.

Use this prompt occasionally even when your child reads the words correctly!

That way she’ll get in the habit of self-monitoring while she’s reading solo.

Remember also to use the above prompts in order–that way beginning with a general question (Are you correct?) will have her go back and check her work without your help and specific direction!

what to say when kids make reading mistakes

what to say when kids make reading mistakes | teachmama.com

If you’d like to have these prompts as a pdf, you may download what to say when kids make reading mistakes.  It has a little more explanation and information and will hopefully be something worthwhile to keep on hand!

Cheers, and happy reading during this incredibly exciting journey!

keeping kids busy in the summer: tabletop surprises

tabletop surprises fun for kids all summer long teachmama.com.png

tabletop surprises  fun for kids all summer long  teachmama.com

We’re keeping our busy kids’ brains moving this summer with tabletop surprises.

Simple ways to keep Maddy, Owen, and Cora engaged when they’re able and when they’re ready.

It worked for us last summer, and it’s working this summer.

They’re called ‘tabletop surprises’ because the kids have no idea what’s coming. They just know that every day in the summer, there’s going to be something waiting for them on the table in the kitchen.

And if they carve out time to do it during the day–and I catch them or sit down to do it with them?  Gems in the Gem Jars! Conversation with Mom! Fun times to be had!

Take a look at this past week’s tabletop surprises, and if you want to get the updates as they happen (so totally exciting!) then do follow me on Instagram. I post the photo by 8 am or so each day.

It’s nothing super-crazy or complicated; usually it’s just some activity that involves reading, writing, math, or creating.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Keeping Kids Busy in the Summer–Tabletop Surprises:

Tabletop Surprises for our familia, week three. . .

monday:

tuesday:

wednesday:

thursday:

friday:

Check out all the fun we’re having this summer! 

Follow along on Instagram and leave YOUR user name in the comments so we can follow YOUR #tabletopsurprises adventures!

Want the skinny on #tabletopsurprises? Wonder what in the world I’m talking about?

Check it out:

tabletop surprise email promo 400 teachmama.com.png

4 sums in a row: quick & easy math game

4 sums in a row: quick & easy math game | super summertime game for pool bags or car rides from teachmama.com

4 sums in a row: quick & easy math game | super summertime game for pool bags or car rides from teachmama.com

This summer, we’re all about quick and easy.

We’re all about games and activities that pack a powerful punch because goodness knows we’re doing the best we can just to keep our heads afloat during our busy swim and dive season.

One super-quick and easy game that Owen brought home this year from school has come up several times this summer. It’s quick. It’s different.

He really likes it.

It’s simple in concept but requires a bit of strategy.

It’s called ‘4 sums in a row’ and the goal is just that: to get four sums in a row, so kids are playing with numbers and strategizing ways of choosing numbers that will give them a big win.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • 4 Sums in a Row–Quick and Easy Math Game:  Like I said, the object is simple–two players work to get four sums in a row.

It’s a game that is great to shove in your purse or pool bag for times when you’re in waiting rooms, on the sidelines, or at restaurants.

4 sums in a row: quick & easy math game | super summertime game for pool bags or car rides from teachmama.com

4 sums in a row: quick & easy math game | super summertime game for pool bags or car rides from teachmama.com

Here’s how it works:

You’ll need:

  • 4 Sums in a Row boards (download them here: 4 sums game _ teachmama.com
  • two different types pawns, one for each player (use Cheerios, gems from gem jar, beads, buttons, pennies–anything)
  • 2 paper clips

4 sums in a row: quick & easy math game | super summertime game for pool bags or car rides from teachmama.com

 

1. Player one moves the paper clips over two numbers along the bottom row.

2. He or she then adds those numbers and puts a pawn over the sum on the board above.

3. Player two moves one paper clip to another number and leaves the other on the number Player one chose.

4. Player two puts his or her pawn on the sum of the two numbers covered by paper clips.

5. Play continues back and forth until the first player gets four sums in a row!

4 sums in a row: quick & easy math game | super summertime game for pool bags or car rides from teachmama.com

Love it.

Print it out on a piece of cardstock or slip it into a plastic sleeve, and it’s more likely to have a longer life.

I also made a blank sheet to go along with it. Allowing kids to use their brains and creativity to actually make their own boards is a sneaky way of keeping them engaged and learning. And? They totally love it.

Again, here’s the board: 4 sums game _ teachmama.com

Want a few more at-home, make-em-yourself-games? Check out: 

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids

frozen birthday party games, crafts, and more  teachmama.com.png

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kidsI’m singing ‘Let it gooooo, let it gooooooo. . . ‘ now, as I realize that this post was to have gone live three months ago, and it’s just happening now.

After our rockstar Frozen birthday for Cora, well. . . life got in the way. So here it is.

The companion post to our Frozen snowball tower post, here’s our Frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids.

It’s everything else we did for Cora’s Frozen birthday–the crafts we made, the activities, and everything that made it awesome.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Frozen Birthday Party–Best Ideas for Crafty Kids:

Cora knew what she wanted to do from the start–she wanted to have a Frozen birthday and watch the movie with her friends.

But I knew that we needed a little bit more than just the movie for her party.

Cora knew from the start that she wanted to watch the movie Frozen, so that was one of the main activities she wanted. But she also wanted to do crafts. Big kid crafts because really? Her friends were seven after all.

We came up with a two craft party plan: 1. make-your-own cozy fleece blanket; and 2. Frozen sparkly bracelets.

Here’s the skinny:

  • Make-Your-Own Cozy Fleece Blanket: We thought these would be fun so that the girls could get all comfy while they watched the movie, and they’d have a usable gift to take home after the event.

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids | teachmama.com

 

Plus, Owen made a fleece pillow at one of his buddy’s parties a few months back, and I loved, loved the idea.

My amazing mother-in-law helped me a ton with the fleece blanket part of this party because she’s not only a crafty crafter, but she’s a math whiz.

For our blankets, because we were using them as party favors, we really did want to keep cost in mind.  Fleece comes in different weights or thicknesses and can vary greatly in price. We wanted ours to be nice but we knew we didn’t need super-high end here.

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids | teachmama.com

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids | teachmama.com

We bought 7 yards of solid fabric and 7 yards of print fabric.  The solid fabric was less expensive, at $3/ yard and the heavier weight print was on sale for $6/ yard.

We made two blankets/ 2 yards with each blanket using a total of two different pieces of fleece—a top and bottom, a solid and a print.

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids | teachmama.com

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids | teachmama.com

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids | teachmama.com

If you want to print out the instructions for making our fleece blankets, you can do so here: fleece blanket – frozen party _ teachmama.com

You’ll need:

1.  We cut each yard in half to make two 30x 36” blankets per yard of fabric.

To cut the fabrics, lay out the fabrics together, one on top of the other, with the ‘good’ sides both facing out.

2.  Trim the outside edges slightly to make them even, and then cut down the middle.  You’ll have two complete blankets, each about 30” x 36”.

3.  Next, with two fabrics still together, cut a 3” square from each corner.

4.  Then cut strips of 1” x 3” along each side to be knotted together.  The idea is that the kids can tie the pieces together as an activity during the party.

5.  Tie several knots at each corner and one knot along each side to make it easier for the kids.

6. Iron on the letters following package directions and place wherever children would like!

7. Get cozy, pop some popcorn, and enjoy your fleece blanket!

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids | teachmama.com

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids | teachmama.com


The second part of the party activities involved having the kids make super-awesome, sparkly Frozen bracelets.

 

Brace yourself. These were goooooorgeous.

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids | teachmama.com

frozen birthday party: best ideas for crafty kids | teachmama.com

 

 

[Read more…]

create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

make a library plan teachmama.com

Kids can be a little silly when it comes to picking out their own books at the library. create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

Where some can easily head right on over to the section they want, grab the books they want, and quickly find a quiet, cozy spot to read, others need . . . a little more direction.

And believe me, I’m all for giving kids time to browse the shelves, look around, relax and explore.

But really.

Our kids are so totally lucky to have so many books at their fingertips. Let’s give them a little direction so they can make the most of a trip to the library or to their school media center.

So after chatting with my pal Heather, and after my own kids’ crazy library book experiences, I decided to create a little Library Plan sheet.  They work.

They help give kids focus when they’re faced with All. Those. Books.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Create a Library Plan–Make the Most of a Trip to the Library:

create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

 

I am not lying when I say that in Owen’s first three years in elementary school, he brought the same random book about dogs home at least ten times. It was a small, hardcover book about chihuahuas. And the fifth time it landed on our kitchen table, I asked why he brought it home again, and he said Because I like it.

I suggested that he try searching for other books about chihuahuas or even other books about dogs, but he said, No. I like this one.

 

create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

 

The next year, when the book ended up back at our house, I gave him a little more nudging. You’re sure you love that book that much? I mean, haven’t you memorized it by now? 

He assured me that he just ‘really liked it’.

What I learned is that Owen doesn’t really care about his library books. He really doesn’t.

His goal? Grab a book. Bring it back to his class. Bring it home.  Maybe take it out of his backpack, depending on the day–maybe not. Bring it back to school. Put it in the library bin. Done. Bam.  Check it off. Gimme the next thing.

create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

 

So rather than have him do the same thing this summer–a time when we usually hit the library as a family pretty often–I decided it was time to make the Library Plan.

Heather asked me a while ago if I had anything she could use for her boys, and really, I didn’t.

But now I do.

Small enough to fit inside a pocket or in the cover of a current library book, the Library Plan is super-simple.

The Library Plan is here to download if you so choose: library book plan

create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

library book plan  | help kids make the most of a trip to the library!

It includes a space for titles that kids might be seeking, authors, and subjects. And in case you do your book searching from home, accessing your library’s card catalog via the library website like we often do, there’s a spot for notes, too. I thought that would be a great space to write down call numbers, messages, anything you want to remember from your at-home searching.

The Library Plan also includes a ‘think’ spot where all sorts of topics and ideas are added. I’m hoping that as Maddy, Owen, and Cora fill out their Plan sheets, these ideas jog their minds and helps to give them some things to think about or look for at the library.

And that’s it.

We used the Library Plans as the first day of our Tabletop Surprises this week, and they worked.

Really, truly helped to keep our afternoon trip to the library focused and productive.

 

What do you think? Will these work for your kids or students? What should we add or change? Do let me know!

best books for reading under the stars: scholastic summer reading challenge

http://www.scholastic.com/ups/campaigns/src-2014

sponsored post

 

 

 

This summer, the kids and I plan on doing a whole lot of reading. summertime reading under the stars  scholastic summer reading challenge.png

Reading at the pool, out on the porch, reading on a blanket on the grass out back. And a whole lot of reading under the stars.

Maybe not every night, but you better believe that we’re going to rock it out for a few backyard campouts this summer.  Complete with flashlights, s’mores, bugspray, and a whole lot of blankets, we’re going to make the most of our ‘staycation summer’.

And though camping isn’t a staple in our lives, we do want to try it. Okay, so we’ve never actually taken the kids camping. . . does that make us the worst parents ever?  I mean, aren’t there worse things?–

The theme of Scholastic’s Summer Reading Challenge this year is ‘Reading Under the Stars’, so we’ve decided that this is our summer to do it.

Camping. In our back yard.

But first, we’ll do a whole lot of reading about camping and the stars to build and activate schema–to get those brains moving and to prepare our kids for the big night.

With a little help from Scholastic, I’ve gathered a handful of the best books for reading under the stars.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Best Books for Reading Under the Stars–Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge:

If you’re going to do it, you might as well really do it up.

 

best books for reading under the stars | scholastic summer reading teachmama.com

Before the big camp-out, we’ll read a little bit about camping, the stars and space so that when we’re gazing up at the night sky, we can at least (maybe?) identify some of the pictures up there.

So that when we’re packing for our big camp-out we’ll know what to throw in the bags.

So that during the crazy camp-out, we’ll kind of know what to expect. Kind of.

best books for reading under the stars  teachmama.com .png

We’ll check out a few oldies but goodies and a few new-to-us books about reading under the stars: 

 

scholastic summer reading challenge

Have your kids help Scholastic break last year’s world record of 176,438,473 minutes read during the summer!

 

summertime reading | scholastic

 

And we’ll also do all we can to rock it with the Scholastic Reading Under the Stars Summer Reading Challenge.

Every year we participate in the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge, and this summer is no different!

The deal?

  • We do it because reading rocks, and. . . well. . . kids need to read consistently and continually all summer long!
  • Summer reading should be fun, and this challenge is fun for kids; a free online reading timer, weekly challenges with rewards, prizes, and more.
  • There’s even a super-fun Summer Solstice Book Swap (via Google+ Hangout) on Thursday, June 19th at 9 p.m. EST with me (yay!) and my buddy, Allie McDonald of No Time for Flashcards.  Join us!!
  • Get more information and RSVP for the Google + hangout, click  here. To get some helpful tips before the Hangout, be sure to read my guide to planning your Summer Reading Book Review Party and Swap.

summertime reading | scholastic

summertime reading | scholastic

 

  • Kids can log their minutes and read big prizes;
  • Teachers can register students and track their progress;
  • Parents can download tons of free resources and articles about how to support literacy in the home and how to bring literacy home to their kids.
  • Awesome. Fun. Totally doing it.

And that’s it! Just a few little ways we’re slooooowly moving into the summer groove and slooooooly preparing ourselves for our big backyard camp-out!

 

Tell me: are you big into camping? Does your whole family go? 

But even more importantly: Is your family big into summer reading programs?  Why or why not?

Would love to hear your opinions in the comments!

 

fyi: This post was written as a partnership with Scholastic Circle.

Affiliate links are used within.

raising kids who can rock it in the kitchen: 5 tips for every family

kids who can rock it in the kitchen teachmama.com

sponsored post

 

 

 

It’s a crazy busy time of the year, that I know.kids who can rock it in the kitchen | teachmama.com cover

And for the last few weeks, I’ve had kids home sick just about every day, so believe me when I say I’m ready for summer.

Though summer means no homework, no projects, and no busy after school afternoons, it also means kids home. A lot of kids home a lot of the time.

Which is so totally awesome and also sometimes hard.

It means three kids home for three meals a day. It means lots of food prep and a lot of food clean-up.

So this year, along with our summer of Tabletop Surprises, we’re also doing a whole lot more to get our kids active in the kitchen.  Bam. Just like that.

Kids who know the kitchen, own the kitchen, and enjoy the kitchen.

Maddy, Owen, and Cora are still rocking it out in the laundry department (three cheers for Wash Warriors!), so next up? They’ll rock it in the kitchen. Big time.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • 5 Tips for Raising Kids Who Can Rock it in the Kitchen:

If we don’t start early with giving our kids some ownership of the everyday household jobs, it’ll just get more difficult to do so as they get older.  Right?  Right.

What do I mean by ‘rock it’ in the kitchen? I mean: Can kids hold their own in the kitchen?

Can they fix themselves a snack? Get breakfast together? Find ingredients to make a cake? Know how to whip up some scrambled eggs or a turkey sandy?

Do they feel like the kitchen is theirs and that they belong there?

They don’t have to be superstars. They just need to be able to rock it if they need to.

Here’s how:

kids who can rock it in the kitchen  teachmama.com

1.  Make your kitchen kid-friendly.

Even if you can’t make major changes in your kitchen layout, designate a few child-only drawers low enough for kids to reach and that hold only their dishes, cups, and flatware.  This will make unloading the dishwasher and gathering plates for mealtime easier.

get kids to rock it in the kitchen | teachmama.com

get kids to rock it in the kitchen | teachmama.com

Keeping and storing food in places that kids can reach also makes sense if you want kids to learn to prepare snacks and simple meals–which we definitely do.

We’ve really tried to keep our fridge kid-friendly by keeping fruits and veggies, yogurt and snacks within arms’ reach, and we have worked as a family to decide the best ‘homes’ for our pantry and staples. 

I’ve been surprised at some of the choices the kids have made, but I’ve gone with it.  And I’ve found that when you give kids a chance to make the choices, the kids are more likely to feel as if the kitchen is ‘theirs’.

kids who can rock it in the kitchen  helper each day  teachmama.com.png

2.  Choose one helper each day.

Make one child your ‘special helper’ each day. That child helps you prepare meals, set the table, and act as your assistant chef.  This is a great way to allow kids to experience serious hands-on learning in the kitchen each day.

One of my friends shared with me that she did this with her kids, and ever since, I’ve done the same.

We align our ‘helper’ with whomever’s day it is, so there’s never a question about whose turn it is. We simply check the calendar, and that person is my right-hand guy (or girl) for chopping, stirring, adding, and tasting.

kids who can rock it in the kitchen  teachmama

3.  Let them make menu choices.

At the beginning of the week, sit down as a family and choose the meals for that week, looking at recipe books, your favorite sites, etc. Make a grocery list, set aside coupons, and get ready to assemble ingredients!

raising kids who can rock it in the kitchen helper   teachmama.com.png

This is easier said than done, I know.  But the menu-planning not only gets all stakeholders involved in the process, but it even saves families serious dinero in the long run.

We honestly don’t go crazy with trying to find new recipes each week, especially during busy times; we usually stick with the staples.

But this summer we’ll for sure explore some new dishes and let each person research, plan, and prepare the meal. We’ve talked about this–and everyone’s totally psyched. Talk about a great way of getting kids to try new foods and learn at the same time!

raising kids who can rock it in the kitchen helper trust | teachmama.com

4.  Show your kids that you trust them.

Give kids space in the kitchen.

Let them help you unload the dishwasher, put away groceries, measure ingredients, and crack their own eggs.   It might not always be pretty, but you will slowly grow confident kids in the kitchen.

I’ll never forget the time years and years ago that a teeny, tiny Owen tried to add ‘a few shakes of salt’ to our banana muffins and dropped the whole salt shaker into the mix.  Or the time Maddy lost her balance while adding chocolate chips to cookie batter and fell into the bowl, tipping the whole thing onto the counter.

Or the time Cora tried to crack an egg and instead crushed the whole thing in her hands.

Mistakes happen, and often, kitchen floors are a complete mess after kids are cooking. But kids need a chance to try because they need to learn.

raising kids who can rock it in the kitchen helper FUN | teachmama.com
5.  Make being in the kitchen fun.

Play music.  Dance around. Play games where and when you can, and make being there a relaxing and exciting place. It’s all about the attitude!

Our kids have always loved having their own child-sized aprons. You can find them inexpensive at thrift shops, or you can even make your own.  (Confession: my amazing and talented mother-in-law made some for our kids–lucky us!)   I have also found some super-cute ones on Etsy.

It really doesn’t matter where you get them, but having aprons makes my kids at least feel like cooking is a little bit more fun. Like when they walk into the kitchen on their day, they throw on their apron, and they’re ready for business.

——————————————–

get kids to rock it in the kitchen | teachmama.com

check out this cool, easy pdf that I (no joke!) helped Whirlpool create: Whirlpool_5TipsForKitchenKids

What do you think? Are your kids active in the kitchen this way?

Do you think they could be with a little effort?  I’d love to hear it!

fyi: This is a sponsored post, written as part of the Whirlpool Ambassador program. As always, opinions and ideas are my own, influenced only by my experience as an educator and parent and my three little ones who are learning to really ‘rock it’ in the kitchen.  Affiliate link used for apron.

Want to know more about the appliances we have in our kitchen? We have (and love!) the  Whirlpool® 28 cu. ft. 4-Door Refrigerator, the Whirlpool Gold Series Dishwasher with PowerScour option, the Microwave Hood Combination with AccuPop Cycle, and the Double Oven Gas Range with Convection Cooking. True. Love. Forever with these. Seriously TLF.

summer activities for thinking, curious, and creative kids: tabletop surprises calendar

summer activities for thinking, curious, and creative kids tabletop surprises calendar

summer activities for thinking, curious, and creative kids tabletop surprises calendar promo.

I have been working and working and working and working and working on this calendar for weeks now, and I’m finally ready to share it. Woot.  No really. Woooot!

In fact, I’m so happy I’m literally dancing around the living room.

Why? I just mapped out the bones of our summer.

Ten weeks.

Ten weeks full of summer activities for thinking, curious, and creative kids.  It’s our tabletop surprises calendar, and Maddy, Owen, and Cora will totally dig it.

We’ll still start out the summer by making Summer Fun Cards so that we are sure to remember to fit in everything we love to do during the long summer months, but then we’ll rock out the #tabletopsurprises.

This year, my kids are 10, 8, and 7 years old. They’re getting older, but they still love games. They love to create. They love to play with the old standbys that we’re too busy for during the school year but that they look forward to in summer months.

They still have playdates. They still hold my hand. They still want hugs.  (Most days.)

So I’m milking this for as long as I can. Though learned the hard way last summer that because they’re getting older, we’re not all on the same schedule. Where I once used preschool mornings or rest time hours for games and learning, now we’re not on as strict a schedule.

I have an early riser and I have a night owl. And I have one kiddo whose mood is dictated by the weather, by the day of the week, or by the direction of the wind. So I’ve got to be flexible.

All I know is that what really, truly worked for us last summer was Tabletop Surprises because the activities ‘fit’ into our daily schedule. The kids headed to the table when they felt like it, sometime throughout the day.

And every day was kind of like Christmas because there was a surprise Every. Single. Day.

So we’re rockin’ them again this year.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Summer Activities for Thinking, Curious, and Creative Kids–Tabletop Surprises Calendar:

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 surprise 2014 a summer of fun and learning from teachmama.com

this year’s tabletop surprises calendar 2014 teachmama.com, ready to download

How to I get the kids to actually sit down and do the activities?  A few ways:

1. The activities are fun and they 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. 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 calendar 2014 teachmama.com

What are the ideas and what makes them so fun?

Simple. They’re 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.

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 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. 

tabletop surprise 2014 a summer of fun and learning from teachmama.com

Cool. So now what?

  1. Print out the calendar: tabletop surprises calendar 2014 teachmama.com
  2. Subscribe to teachmama.com via email. 
  3. Download the Tabletop Surprise Resource Guide (you’ll get it when you confirm your subscription, yo!). 
  4. Give your kids the skinny on Tabletop Surprises. 
  5. Start learning, playing, creating, inventing, and thinking alongside your kiddos!
  6. And? Share your #tabletopsurprises via instagram or twitter  just for fun.
  7. Have the summer of your dreams. Well. . .

tabletop surprise email promo teachmama.com

Give me a look at this stuff. 

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

Or check out some fun ideas from a our Smart Summer Challenge a few summers back.

Here’s to an awesome summer filled with fun learning and memory-making!