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

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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

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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!

25+ playful preschool activities eBook

playful preschool activities ebook | teachmama.com

25+ playful preschool activities ebook | teachmama.com

For many families, preschool ends this week or next, which means that 3-5 year olds will be home, hanging around, and looking for some fun.

Preschool’s almost out.  Seriously.

And it means that moms and dads will need things to do with their kiddos.

Parents need activities that can keep those preschoolers’ brains moving, hands drawing, and creativity flowing. Activities that are easy and fun to prepare. Activities that count.

Parents need activities that will get those kiddos ready for the next year of preschool, maybe even kindergarten in the fall.

Woot. I have just the thing–and it totally won’t break the bank.

It’s an eBook filled with over 25 playful activities that your kids will love: The Playful Preschool Activities eBook, and it’s one thing that’s kept me busy this spring.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • 25+ Playful Preschool Activities eBook: It’s awesome, and I’m honored to be a part of it.

It’s a super-amazing resource.

Tons of hands-on, play-based learning ideas all in one happy little place.

playful activities ebook

playful preschool activities ebook | buy now

The Playful Preschool Activities eBook features:

  • over 25 ideas for preschoolers;
  • great range of activities: hands-on, learning through play, math, language, literacy, science, art and play;
  • printable resources (including city scape play scene, My First Journal pages, recipe card, numbers game, weather chart printables, and more!);

25+ playful preschool activities eBook | teachmama.com

 

The Playful Preschool Activities eBook also features:

  • printable alphabet play mats, unique hand-drawn art pages, conversation cards, block building challenge cards;
  • reading comprehension bookmarks–so that you know how to make the most of your read-alouds!
  • additional links to over 50 more activities;
  • it’s only $8.99–so buy now!!

playful preschool activities ebook

playful preschool activities ebook | buy now

Some important bots o’ info for you: 

– You can buy the book anywhere in the world, and that Paypal will take care of the currency conversion.

– You can buy it now, on any device, and then download it when you are ready.

– Depending on the apps you have installed and your operating system you might be able to go ahead and download the book on your mobile device, but if you have any doubts or problems, I recommend you use a computer to download the book and then share it to your mobile devices.

– You. Will. Love. It.

The amazing Cathy James–who is the mastermind behind this eBook–even made a trailer for it:

 

Check it out.

And really, I’m betting you’ll be super-happy you did.

It’s yours for a cool $8.99 (the cost of just one coffee and scone!). . . okay, or close to it! Either way, it’s a great deal for all the awesome you’re getting. 

And that’s it–just a little something I’m thrilled about and think you will be too! 

Any questions? I’d love to hear ’em!

baby shower decorations, treats, & games: 3 ways to get your kids to help

get kids involved baby shower treats, games, and decorations teachmama.com.png

I am blogging on behalf of Walmart.com, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Walmart’s.

 

get kids involved baby shower treats, games, and decorations  teachmama.com.png

My three kids were the first grandchildren on both sides of our family, so for five years, they were pretty much the stars of the show.  They had lots of doting aunts and uncles and grandparents. But no cousins.  Until now.

Five years after our first child was born, we have experienced a baby explosion of sorts: seven new babies have joined our extended family in the last four years.

Seven!

That’s a lot of babies.

We are thankful, grateful, and blessed.

It also means that my kids, as the older cousins, have been able to help out with the planning, organizing, and hosting of baby showers. As Maddy, Owen, and Cora have become older and experienced new cousins arriving, having their hands on board to help throw baby shower parties has been a lot of fun.

However, Maddy and Cora have admittedly been more a part of the events, and Owen has enjoyed some serious ‘guy time’ with Dad and Pap during baby showers. I get it.

All in all, my kids have wholeheartedly loved to help with the super fun parts of baby showers: decorations, treats, and games.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Baby Shower Decorations, Treats, & Games– 3 Ways to Get Your Kids to Help:

baby shower decorations  get kids to help teachmama.com.png.png

1. Kids can help with decorations.   We have planned two baby boy showers and one baby girl shower, and each time, we’ve stayed with a monochromatic color scheme. Greens and blues for the boys, pinks and oranges for the girl.

Choosing a color scheme right from the start has helped us narrow down decorations and accessories.

baby shower decorations collage  teachmama.com.png

baby shower collage - teachmama.com 2

Any time you’re looking for ways kids can help with baby shower decorations, consider giving them easy, repetitive jobs.

Easy is good and repetitive is even better.

baby shower collage decorations | teachmama.com

Kids can:

  • Add flowers to vases
  • Puff up tissue paper pom-poms
  • Tie ribbons onto balloons
  • Sprinkle confetti on tables
  • Create welcome banners or flag buntings
  • Help arrange gifts on table and bring gifts to mom-to-be

 

baby shower treats  get kids to help teachmama.com.png

2.  Kids love to help with baby shower treats.  Though each of our showers has been slightly different—some were catered and some were not—we did throw one where we made the majority of the food.

Maddy and Cora love to help with the mixing of ingredients for dips like spinach or artichoke crab dip. They love dipping strawberries in chocolate or drizzling chocolate on pretzels.   They love adding candy to bowls (and sneaking a few along the way!).

baby shower treats collage  teachmama.com.png

Kids are expert sprinkle-sprinklers, and they’re great at adding toppers to cupcakes.   One thing we have often done for showers is ordered plain cupcakes from the local bakery and then decorated them ourselves with personalized toppers and sprinkles to match our color scheme.

Arranged on a simple cupcake treat towericon, they looked professional and fancy.

baby shower games  get kids to help teachmama.com.png

3.  Kids love to prepare and run baby shower games Only one of my sisters has approved baby shower games, so we kept it pretty simple for her.

We played ‘Baby Food Challenge’, where our baby shower guests had to look closely at ten different baby food jars and guess the food inside.  We simply used a white mailing sticker to cover the label on the jar and numbered the jars 1-10.

baby shower baby food game  teachmama.com

baby food game _ teachmama.com

Maddy and Cora were super psyched to help with this game. They picked out the jars of baby foods, and we tried to choose a range of colors, textures, and sizes. At the shower, they had a blast handing out our Baby Food Challenge sheets to guests and walking around with the tray of baby food jars for each person to see.

You can download Baby Food Challenge here for your own shower: baby food game _ teachmama.com

The winner of Baby Food Challenge was the person who guessed the most baby foods correctly. Easy, quick, and lots of fun!

Other great ideas for baby shower games are:

Or here’s one last one: Bring out BABY!

baby shower game  teachmama.com

baby WORD shower game _ teachmama.com

Though our baby shower planning days may be over, we are certainly looking forward to hearing other ways that families have included kids in the baby shower planning and partying!

What worked for you? How did you get your kids involved in this special event? Do let us know in the comments!

fyi: HUGE and happy thanks to my incredible, amazing, and crazy-crafty mom and sisters–Jenny, Mary, and Katie–each who helped do just about everything for all of the showers above and who threw me the world’s best shower ever–way back when. In most cases, my mom and sisters researched, planned, and organized the showers from start to finish; Maddy, Cora, and I just filled in as necessary and did what they told us. Thank you, girls! xoxoxo

I am blogging on behalf of Walmart.com and received compensation for my time, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Walmart’s. Shop online and save money to live better at http://www.walmart.com.

prepare a family emergency plan: be EVEREADY (and grab a few free books from Scholastic!)

family emergency plan resources teachmama.com.png

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Free books.  FREE books!family emergency plan resources teachmama.com.png

Seriously.

Grab free books for making sure your family is prepared for an emergency.  And for goodness’ sake, don’t we all want to be prepared for emergencies?

Thanks to a partnership between EVEREADY® Gold® and Scholastic, families can grab two free books from Scholastic when you purchase batteries. Or a flashlight.

So in the process of preparing a family emergency plan–which everyone should do–you can also grab a few top-notch, free books to keep your kiddos occupied and reading in the event of an emergency.

Actually, you can keep them occupied, engaged, and reading even without an emergency. And let’s hope we all never have to experience one.

Here’s the skinny. . .

But every family must prepare a family emergency plan.

This past fall, folks from a national news outlet came to our house to film a short clip sharing with the nation how prepared we were for an emergency.

They spent the entire day with us, and you know what we learned? We were not at all prepared. At all.

Now, we’re on the road to being more prepared. But we’re still not perfect.

What you can do to prepare a family emergency plan: 

  • check out these resources: (click on image to head to the site where you can download them!)

prepare family for an emergency | teachmama.com

prepare family emergency plan | teachmama.com

  • or check out how our family learned from the experts how to prepare:


fyi: The teachmama.com youtube channel is all about sharing quick teaching tips, reading strategies, and parenting tricks with parents and caregivers. It’s about empowering parents to be the best teachers they can be for their children. Subscribe here so you don’t miss a thing!

 

prepare family emergency | teachmama.com

 

free books from scholastic promo teachmama.com.png

 

All you have to do is purchase EVEREADY® Gold® batteries or EVEREADY® flashlights and redeem your books by entering special codes online.  Easy peasy.

Any time I hear of a company taking the extra step to ensure that families are prepared for emergencies, I really want to dance.  There’s no time like the present to get rolling on this. Really.  So head get going!

How do you prepare for an emergency? Do you have a family emergency plan? What else should we know–and share–with readers? Do tell!

 

fyi: This is a sponsored post.  I was asked to share information about their awesome EVEREADY® for Life campaign, and I was happy to do so. As always, all opinions are my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator.

easter egg pattern match game: for kids, by kids

easter egg pattern match teachmama.com

Easter is right around the corner, and we’re psyched.easter egg pattern match  teachmama.com

Not only does Easter mean egg painting and candy, family time and spring flowers, fresh starts and new hope, it means my kids get to spend some time with faraway cousins.

Maddy, Owen, and Cora are thrilled to see their little cousins who are much younger than they.  My kids are 10, 8, and 7 years old, and their Pennsylvania cousins are 3 years, 19 months, 12 months, and 4 months old.

So this year, as we relaxed a bit after a whirlwind Disneyland adventure (more on that later!), the kids put some time into a little homemade gift for their Keystone State cousins.

We worked together to make Easter Egg Pattern Match–a super-fun, made-with-love game for their 3-year-old cousin.  Matching. Patterns.

Perfect for a 3-year-old!

And really? Creating matching patterns was a fun mathy, brain-stretching exercise for my own kids.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Easter Egg Pattern Match Game–For Kids, By Kids:  These eggs are simple but full o’ love.

All I did was print out Blank Egg patterns, much like our Alphabet Egg Hunt–Uppercase and Lowercase Letter Match set but obviously without the letters.

I printed the eggs out on white cardstock, which I highly recommend so they are a bit more sturdy.

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

The  BLANK alphabet egg hunt  are here to download if you’d like: BLANK alphabet egg hunt.

This afternoon, after our third tv show and hundredth game on the iPad, I asked the kids to meet me at the counter.

I said, I found a really cute game that we can make for our cousins and bring to them at Easter, and I think you’ll love it. Who wants to grab a marker, crayon, and some stickers and give me a hand?

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

They were all game, even though it was 2pm and we were all still wearing pjs.

We’re going to make a matching game for Wyatt–matching is a super-important skill for 3-year-olds, and you know what? If Wyatt knows that his cool older cousins made him a game, I’m betting he’ll love playing it.

So here’s the deal: just like the Alphabet Egg Hunt where we matched uppercase letters with lowercase letters, this game will be similar. But instead of letter matching, we’ll make patterns that match.

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

Your challenge will be to create matching tops and bottoms for our eggs, like this: (I showed them two really simple eggs I did, each with one sticker on the top and bottom half of the egg.

The pattern-making and designing matching eggs proved to be a bit difficult for Cora, but even Maddy and Owen each had one ‘do-over’ egg. Sometimes they made eggs that just mirrored the pattern, and sometimes the pattern wasn’t clear after the egg split–it didn’t start low enough.

So we tried to keep it simple for the most part, but we did add a few challenge eggs:

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

We wanted to have several eggs that had the same colors, basic shapes, and same layout so that our little loves would have to look just a tad bit closer.

We didn’t want to totally frustrate him, but we thought that his name and his brother’s name, written in similar colors, and stickers with similar shapes, or even two with farm animals or vehicles would give him an extra challenge.

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

And after we were finished with all of the eggs, Cora and I matched them all up to make sure they worked. We checked patterns and we checked them again.

We eliminated some that didn’t work, and we included only the best.

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

Then Cora made a label: Wyatt & Myles Easter Egg Match. We threw the eggs in a plastic baggie, and we were ready to roll!

The kids cannot wait to play the game with their cousins!

Love these little ways that empower kids to create and teach other little ones.  The pattern-making and generating of top and bottom matches was a great brain exercise for my three spring breakers!

Just a quickie little something you can print out, bring to your Easter gathering, and have cousins, siblings, aunts, uncles, and friends create for the little ones of the crew!

Will these work for you? Let me know how your family will use them! I’d love to hear it!

alphabet egg hunt: uppercase and lowercase letter match

alphabet egg hunt springtime literacy fun teachmama.com.png

Kids need to learn the letters of the alphabet.alphabet egg hunt  springtime literacy fun teachmama.com.png

And even if we play with the letters for ten minutes a day, it adds up–and before we know it, our kids will be ready for success in reading and in  school.

It’s a perfect time of the year to throw in some sneaky before-nap or after naptime learning for our little ones, and though I know finding time can often be difficult, here’s an easy one for you: Alphabet Egg Hunt.

Kids are already ramped up for Easter egg hunts, so why not have one in your house while you wait for the real one in a few weeks?

This one will get kids up and moving and grooving. And the best thing? They’ll be playing with uppercase and lowercase letters.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Alphabet Egg Hunt–Uppercase and Lowercase Letter Match: This is really a re-vamp of a post I shared a long, long time ago: Alphabet Egg Puzzles.

But as I reviewed it, I realized I (gulp) didn’t do it nearly as well as it could have been done.

Sure, the directions and explanation and story behind it works–that kind of stuff will last forever.

But the printables? Not so much.

alphabet egg letter match puzzles | teachmama.com

The photos? Not so great.

The eggs themselves? For real, super tiny.

So we did a little behind-the-scenes work and recreated the Alphabet Egg Hunt template, and the new one? Totally rocks.

Here it is for you to print out: alphabet egg hunt

alphabet egg letter match puzzles | teachmama.com

alphabet egg letter match puzzles | teachmama.com

 

I printed it on light colored cardstock so they’d hold up a bit, and that way they’re easier for little hands to manage.

Like all of our learning games and supplies, I threw the eggs in a plastic bag so it’s a game we can grab on the go, anywhere, any time.

We have some more super-fun matching game ideas up our sleeves in the next few days. Cora, especially, is psyched to do some pattern-making on eggs for her little cousins.

And really, her excitement about creating learning materials and teaching her cousins makes my heart sing. Cannot wait to share!

 

Want a few more alphabet activities? Check out:

 

Follow us on pinterest, and check out our literacy pins:

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

disneyland fun facts: lunchbox notes

disneyland fun fact lunchbox notes | get kids ready for the trip | from teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

disneyland fun fact lunchbox notes | disney teachmama.com

We are gearing up for a Disneyland adventure, and to prepare our family, we’re rocking some Disneyland fun fact lunchbox notes.

Actually, these little fun facts are perfect not only for lunchboxes–but they work just about anywhere!

I’m a firm believer in the power of a re-read.  Repeated readings help with fluency and comprehension, right?  Right.  And especially if the content is high-interest, the possibility of a kid sharing facts or actually reading the info to a friend is highly likely.

I’ll take it.

So I am throwing these Disneyland fun facts in lunchboxes, in school planners, on the shoes, in coat pockets, you name it.

And you can too.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Disneyland Fun Facts– Lunchbox Notes:   Really, these came out of the fact that I know nothing about Disneyland.

As in nada. Zip. Zilch. Nothing. Zero.

A few nights ago, I asked my husband, who had been planning our little getaway, So I know Disneyland is smaller than Disney World, but does it have the same rides, or is it totally different?

disneyland fun fact lunchbox notes | teachmama.com

disneyland fun fact lunchbox notes | teachmama.com

 

He looked at me like I was crazy, so I asked, Do you know? What’s the big difference? Same park, two locations? Or is Disneyland something extra-special? Will we see things there that we’ve never seen in Orlando? I mean. . . 

He knew a bit–but admitted that he wasn’t 100% sure of all the Disney deets. So I did a little research.

And? I printed a few fun facts for him, too.

 

disneyland fun fact lunchbox notes | teachmama.com

 

disneyland fun fact lunchbox notes | teachmama.com

 

There are seven facts on each sheet and two sheets. The topics cover anything from Walt Disney’s inspiration, focus, and favorite president to Disneyland rides, lands, and rules.  Quick, short, and cool, from several different sources, all outlined on the sheet.

I learned a ton. And I’m hoping that my kids do, too.

print them here: disneyland fun fact lunchbox notes

disneyland fun fact luncbox notes | teachmama.com screener

 

Don’t get me wrong–I’m not expecting to create little Disneyland experts here; rather, I want to give my kids a little bit o’ prep for what they’ll see so that they enjoy our little vay-cay to its fullest. I’m providing them with little bits of schema–or information–that they can store away and pull out in just a few weeks.

We’ve activated schema time and time again: before we watched Brave, before our last trip to Disney World, when we hit local museums, you name it.  Really. It works.

* new *

Want a little more to prepare your kiddos for the trip? I just added a Disneyland Word Search to our Disney Word Search post.  All of these activities help to activate schema and get kids ready–and excited!–for their Disney vacation!

 

Here are a few other ways to countdown or celebrate your own Disney vacation: 

 

fyi: affiliate links are used in this post

turn your kids into grammar sharks: national grammar day

become a grammar shark | teachmama.com

be a grammar shark | teachmama.com

I have been as sick as a dog–sick as a dawwwwg— for the past few days, but today I had a little spring in my step because it was National Grammar Day.

And this old gal, though she may have strep and she may have spend the last few days in bed, sure does love her grammar.

But what I realized is that my kids do not. 

My kids don’t even have the opportunities we had–way back when–to hunt down misplaced modifiers or to diagram sentences.

They’re too busy learning other super-important big stuff, analyzing poems for author’s voice and decomposing numbers and then composing them back up again like little magicians.

So what I decided was that, because our Word-A-Day Cards went over so well, why not get a little grammar-happy with something similar? Could I create Grammar Sharks out of my kids, just by hitting them with a little dose o’ grammar at breakfast time?

I am going to try!

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Turn Your Kids into Grammar Sharks–National Grammar Day:

First of all, what’s a ‘Grammar Shark’?

A Grammar Shark is a person who in the blink of an eye can spot the misspelling on the restaurant menu.

turn your kids into grammar sharks: national grammar day

turn your kids into grammar sharks: national grammar day
A Grammar Shark is a person who has to bite her tongue in order hold back a

‘OhmygoshwillyouPLEASEstopsaying’feelbadly’whenitreallyshouldbe’feelbad’??!! or a ‘Sohelpmeifhesays’awholenotherstory’onemoretimeIamgoingtolosemymind!!!’ so as not to lose friends on a daily basis.

A Grammar Shark is a person who can clean up a misplaced modifier in no time flat, who knows the difference between who and whom and who likes to talk about the 7 Comma Rules.

turn your kids into grammar sharks: national grammar day

Really, there aren’t many of us out there, and I’m not planning on brainwashing my kids into becoming hard-core grammarians. I will, however, do my best to make sure that they move through life knowing the basics of our English grammar.

I am hoping that by capitalizing on that precious mealtime that they will read not only the cereal boxes and the Kids Post but also my teeny, tiny little Grammar Shark Cards.

So turn your kids into grammar sharks: national grammar day

I’ve included a ton of grammar hang-ups that everyone should know, including the ever-challenging:

  • to vs too vs two;
  • a lot vs alot;
  • they’re vs there vs their;
  • who vs whom;
  • are vs our. . .

And some cards have little ?’s — questions to ponder.  Not all, but some.

All I did was print the grammar shark cards cards onto brightly colored cardstock (because grammar is FUN! and BRIGHT! and EXCITING!), punch a hole in one corner and throw a ring clip to keep them secure.

Feel free to print, share, email to a buddy, pin, tweet, whatever. And if you tag me (@teachmama or @teachmama or @teachmama1) I’ll respond! Give you a virtual high five! A huge and happy thanks hug!

I’ll chest bump ‘ya–from one mama who’s trying to another!

And that’s it. We keep our Grammar Shark Cards  on the snack bar open to one card a day.  Slowly but surely, we’re creating Grammar Sharks over here. Slowly but surely.

Do you have a grammar hang-up or pet peeve? Let me know! 

If it’s not currently on the Grammar Shark Cards, I’ll make sure it’s on the next batch. And happy National Grammar Day, my friends!